Role of the Pragmatists/Realists & the Militant/Uncompromising/Idealists in LBGT Social Change
I've always argued there is a place for both pragmatists (HRC) and militant and uncompromising activists (Queer Nation or Radical Fairies). The second often create the safe space for the first group to negotiate the terms of surrender.
The relationship between the two groups, whose strategies are often in conflict but who have the same objectives, was explored in how the 14th Amendment was approved in the movie Lincoln.
If you have not seen it, run to the theater. It is relevant for this reason and so many more.
In any war, there is a starter event, one in which a few select representatives of a repressed minority fight back, often with a show of violent civil disobedience. That event lets the world know that it is now at war and that the fight will continue until justice, or complete suppression, prevails. For the LGBT community, that was Stonewall.
Then there comes the most significant turning point in the struggle. It is the big battle where a winner-takes-all atmosphere hangs over the precursor of the event as a warning and a promise. It is an event where every interested party shows up, knowing that only one side will really walk away. In the Civil War that event was the battle at Gettysburg. For the LGBT community, this last Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, was our Gettysburg. (If you think that's not an apt analogy, check out this comparison map of the Civil War factions and today's electoral factions.) And we were the ones who got to walk away with the situation altered... forever.