Monday, October 12, 2009

NEM: Will a new generation's voice be heard?

"Why would a generation wired to their mobile phones and Facebook accounts nearly from birth want to resurrect a form of political expression as old and musty as a mass gathering?"

Time reports:
The march on Washington that gays staged Sunday on the National Mall drew something like 200,000 people — that's a good guess based on conversations with many of the organizers and local authorities, although estimates of Mall crowds are notoriously unreliable. But one number you can take to the bank: the average age of those back stage who wore walkie-talkie headsets and staff badges, the men (and a few women) who were behind much of the organizing effort, wasn't over 30. And that, by far, was the oddest thing about the march: Why would a generation wired to their mobile phones and Facebook accounts nearly from birth want to resurrect a form of political expression as old and musty as a mass gathering?

The answer became more clear after I spent much of the day with Wayne Ting, born Dec. 1, 1983, and — when he's not helping organize marches on Washington — works as an associate at a private equity firm that he isn't quite convinced he wants to name. Like many of the others who helped organize the march, Ting was shocked — deeply, if rather naively — by the passage last year in California of Proposition 8, which ended the court-appointed practice of equal marriage rights for gay couples in that state. . (See a visual history of the gay rights movement.)

"What Prop 8 did for my generation," Ting told me the night before the march, at Restaurant Nora, "is that unlike past generations before, we had never been through something like where progress didn't seem inevitable. Suddenly, some right that was given was taken back. I think that had a huge effect on my generation — to say, wait a minute, you mean, if I voted for and maybe wrote a check to the Democratic Party, that's not enough?"

This in and of itself is raw evidence of how far this country has moved on gay issues: Ting has such a strong sense of entitlement that a routine historical occurrence in democracies — the snatching back of rights that have been reluctantly given to despised minorities — came as a surprise to him. It is that sense of entitlement that led to today's march, which Ting and so many of his cohort put together. READ MORE

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