Monday, February 8, 2010

Unite the Fight Bids Farewell

Dear Unite the Fight Readers,

These past two years have been filled with many highs and many lows - we won the right to marry in California only to have it stripped away in months by the ignominious Proposition 8, the latter galvanizing our community into action that hasn't been seen in years.

Despite another amazing high point of numerous demonstrations and actions attended and organized by thousands, the California Supreme Court, having once given us the right to marry, would later side with the discriminatory Proposition 8 and uphold it, creating yet again another low point. In spite of all this, our movement has encouragingly moved forward, and not just focused on marriage, but working state by state and on the federal level with a goal of full equality under all laws.

(November 15, 2008 Los Angeles Prop 8 Protest)

I feel very lucky to have witnessed many of these events firsthand. Moved by what I was seeing immediately after the passage of Prop 8 and talking my boyfriend's (who is now my fiance´) ear off about the injustice of the proposition, he begged me to stop yakking and write it down.

So I did.

I started a blog, a blog where I would not only voice my anger, but help the Los Angeles LGBT community be informed on when the next rally would take place and where, who was having a meeting when and where, and what actions they could take part of so that they too could voice their anger and work hands on to win back their rights. I called the blog Unite the Fight because that's what I wanted to see, that was my hope - to see numerous communities, not just the LGBT, come together to fight for equal rights. But I always saw the blog as a stepping stone - to help those new to the movement get plugged in and find where they belonged in the many arenas of the equal rights movement

To my surprise and joy, the rejuvenated movement spurred by the passing of Prop 8 quickly spread outside of California and across the country like a wildfire. I found myself not only reporting on Los Angeles events, and those across California, but all across the country as the right to marry spread throughout New England and Iowa. I was happy but overwhelmed, and in order to keep up the quality I demanded of myself for the blog, I decided to focus on the marriage issue.

(Meet in the Middle)

Also to my surprise, I found my readership growing daily. It wasn't just Californians reading, and not only Americans, but people from around the world. I received countless emails from readers asking how they could get involved and how they could spread the news about an event or action.

I had thousands reading while I wrote countless stories of rights advancing around the country, and I typed as fast I could and covered as many events as possible. Some of the highlights include the Prop 8 protests, being the official blog for Meet in the Middle and broadcasting the rally live to thousands (with the help of many UTF volunteers - see the videos!), numerous Camp Courage events organized by Courage Campaign, state summits on when to repeal Prop 8, being a part of the No on 1/Protect Equality Maine netroots team, covering the National Equality March through live Twitter and posts, interviewing the lawyers and team behind the Prop 8 federal challenge, and receiving many guest posts from amazing activists around the country who wanted to share their point-of-views to the Unite the Fight readership.

(Camp Courage Fresno, CA)

I demanded a lot from myself to keep the quality of Unite the Fight to a high standard. It took countless hours everyday, but I benefited from the commitment greatly. I met amazing people who had done and continue to do great work, it pushed me as a writer, and I got involved with the LGBT rights movement to an extent I never have before.

I never thought that when I started the site it would become what it did. This is why, among many reasons, it has been difficult for me to make the decision that I must close shop at Unite the Fight.

It's been apparent to my regular readers that recently I have not been able to keep the site updated as regularly as I have in the past. Many of you have relied on the number of daily posts here to keep you informed on the marriage movement, and my inability to keep you updated while maintaining the site's high standard has led to this decision. Exciting things are developing in my life career-wise and personally, and they have demanded more and more of my attention. I feel it is a disservice to myself and to my readers to divide my time and as a result, not keep the site as updated as in the past and to have my personal work suffer as well.

(National Equality March)

It's been a long, agonizing struggle to come to the decision to end Unite the Fight for it has been my whole life for well over a year, and though I look forward to where life may bring me next, it's bittersweet that it will require saying goodbye to my work here, and especially to my dedicated readers.

However, I will not disappear completely. Superb reporter Karen Ocamb, who decided to channel her years of experience reporting on countless LGBT events and stories by creating her own blog called LGBT POV in September 2009, asked me to write periodically for her site. I of course said, "Yes!" So if you're a dedicated reader to UTF, please hop on over to LGBT POV.

As for UTF itself, the site will remain live on the internet for nearly a year. My contact information will remain the same. Many people have informed me that they currently use its archive to write papers, do research and find information. So I'm happy to keep the site up. I'm also being advised on how to handle the sight afterward - many have told me the site is valuable for future research and analysis, but that it's also valuable as a firsthand record of history, so I'm looking into different archiving possibilities that will keep the posts and information accessible to the public for the foreseeable future. Once this is settled, I will be sure to post the information here.

So with a heavy heart, I finish my last post. Many of you have been amazing supporters and readers of the site and words will never be able to fully express what you mean to me, nor can they express what the past two years have meant to all of us. Yet I keep my eyes on the future, because I believe it is inevitable that in time, we will all have equal rights and sites like Unite the Fight won't be a necessity.

Until then, keep an eye out for me at rallies, canvasses, fundraisers and more - I'll be there. Just look for the guy with the camera and pencil pad.

Images of Camp Courage and National Equality March by Marta Evry; picture of me with camera by Karen Ocamb; Meet in the Middle pictures by Zamna Avila on behalf of UTF