Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eagle seems on track to re-open in NE Washington; I take an auto tour of the area


I made a little “field trip” to the site of the new “Eagle” on Benning Road, NE in Washington DC after church today.
  
The Washington Blade this weekend has good news, that the DC Liquor Board has ruled in favor of the Eagle and against the shopping center opposing the license, story here. But a drive-through of the area shows that the “real problem” has little to do with the idea of a gay bar in the area or alcohol itself.  It has everything to do with gentrification and real estate development in the area, which is slowly driving the poor people out.
  
I got lost driving there.  I took Florida Ave. down and didn’t realize that H Street NE becomes Benning Road.  I wound up going through other areas of NE.  The crime reports in the media are horrific, but the area looks a lot better than it used to. 
  
But people walk across the street, deliberately challenging cars to stop.  The people look ragtag and often overweight and in poor health.  The area is a mixture of old industry, pawn shops, and then clusters of nice new townhomes just down Minnesota Ave, and a new high rise office or condo building near the site of the bar.  The area is definitely changing. Prices will go up, and tensions will increase. I did see a variety of community activities.  I passed what looked like a Fire Dept. sponsored youth gathering in a nearby park. 
  
When the bar-disco opens (still not sure of the date), Metro Transit Police will have to beef up security at the nearby Minensota Ave (Orange) and Benning Rd and Capitol Heights Stations (Blue and Silver).  DC Police will need to patrol the blocks between the stations and the place.  There seems to be a lot of parking behind the buildings, but it will need security, which means it will need to charge fees.  The actual building seems impossible to see from Benning Road (due to the complexity of the bridge and intersection with I-295) but I think you can see the building from Dix Street, which leads to the shopping center and various parking lots. In general, I'm reminded of the area around The Gold Coast in Detroit (covered Aug. 7, 2012). 
   
I look forward to the place.  But it can work only if the neighborhood around it improves and is kept secure enough.  This area of Washington DC is changing rapidly. 
  
One interesting possibility is that the Olympics comes to DC in a years and that RFK Stadium, not far away, is rebuilt.  Imagine the real estate development then.

Other clubs in DC curiously haven't announced their October events yet -- yet Halloween and High Heels are coming soon.
  
Last picture:  New street cars on Benning Road, coming soon.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

New York Times provides state-by-state details on surrogacy


The New York Times has a major front page article on surrogacy by Tamar Lewin, here  along with a state-by-state table on surrogacy laws today (particularly on whether surrogacy contracts are enforceable).   At least one state, Illinois, allows only “gestational surrogacy”, with other restrictions to prevent “designer babies”. 
  
The article will be of interest to same-sex couples (especially male) considering children by surrogacy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rehoboth stays active after Labor Day, with free parking


As for the old 1970s question, “are gay resorts really gay?”, I can certainly say that they can stay busy after Labor Day.

At Rehoboth Beach, DE, free street parking started Monday (after the first two weekends in September), and on a Wednesday (a warm clear day with low humidity) the town was packed.  The lunch places were busy too, as most places were celebrating he idea that both the Nationals and Orioles had clinched titles last night, within an hour of one another. 

You can actually park near the Queen Street beach now, but it had only a smaller gathering of people. 

You can see the Convention Center, which has held big dances before, the shopping arcade (where Lambda Rising used to live), and even the old location of MCC within a couple of blocks.  There is a volunteer fire department, a touch a small town America and a throwback to older days of gender roles.


Saw someone I recognized biking on the new Fenwick Bridge on Route 1.  
On the way back, I found an Annie's restaurant on Kent Island.  There is an Annie's in Washington on 17th St, near JR's.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lawyers say that Facebook's "real names" policy works to the detriment of some in the gay community, especially transgender and drag queen performers


Electronic Frontier Foundation has an interesting and disturbing perspective on how Facebook’s “real names only” can work to the detriment of some people in the LGBTQ community, especially transgender, or those in low-income areas, or in non-western communities overseas, with the link here. The article is by Nadaia Kayyali and Jillian York.  Slate, in fact, had an article, “Is Facebook cracking down on drag names?” (which for performers are usually pseudonyms), here

Google Plus is reported to have ended the “real names” policy altogether.
  
Facebook says that “real names” keeps the community safer, but that works both ways.  People can use pseudonyms for non-real names for fan pages, which offer much restricted capabilities. Mark Zuckerberg has been reported to say that he feels that pseudonyms show a lack of integrity -- but many writers have used them for centuries.  Look at female novelists in Britain!

Supposedly, the trans community was to demonstrate today at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto. 

   

It's important to realize that not many drag queens are not transgendered, and that many transvestites are actually straight, and want to diminish the cultural  importance of visual images of sexual conformity.
 
Fifteen years ago, even my own mother was nervous at one time that I was writing about gays in the military under my own name, possibly inciting violence or indignant attacks or bringing it upon myself or others connected to me.  I have often said that I cannot live with that kind of “Mafia” thinking.  Of course, my parents grew up in a world where a lot of people did think that way, and I respect that now. That goes on in other parts of the world, though, as EFF points out – and Facebook’s policy talks about the effect on the Arab Spring. Needing anonymity (de facto “witness protection”) --  that’s the stuff of soap operas (although “Days of our Lives” really turned around 180 degrees on open homosexuality and gay marriage in the past two years).  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Washington, Eagle still faces opposition to liquor license despite renovating new property, illustrating a troubling trend


The Washington Blade, in a story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr., is reporting that a shopping center near the new location of the DC Eagle is still trying to oppose its liquor license application, as time for its re-opening approaches.  The story is here. The bar’s owners paid a little under $1 million for the building and would hardly have made the purchase if they did not expect approval.  The article explains the very ambitious plans for the bar on Benning Road NE. The land could be valuable just as investment.  This is an area of town undergoing “gentrification” and rapid rise in real estate values, most of all centered on the new H Street NE corridor with the new streetcar line. 

Clubs in Washington DC often face difficulties in finding new properties where liquor licenses will be approved, if they lose existing leases.  Remingtons, the Country-western bar has not re-opened.  TownDC has been holding early evening parties for “Bears” and country western since the Eagle and Remingtons closed.  In general, liquor licenses have been more controversial in recent years as much of Washington has become much more “residential” with high-rent or high-priced apartments and townhouses.

I will try to visit the area in the daytime in the reasonably near future and form my own conclusions and report again.  Oh, it’s hard to make time.
  
I noticed that the midnight “Rocky Picture Horror Show” at Landmark E St on Saturday night rather makes it into a sort of “gay hour”.  There is no “gay bar” now (with the Eagle gone) as such in the immediate downtown area, even though the Blade has held events at Hard Rock before, and SLDN and HRC hold events at the nearby Convention Center.
  

The Nationals had a “night out” on June 17.  The Nats may well he headed for the World Series this year.  But it is pro football where the acceptance of an openly gay player (now trying with the Cowboys) has gotten the most attention.   

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Low income senior housing gets more attention as an issue; another story on a building in Philadelphia


An apartment house in Philadelphia may provide a model for housing low-income LGBT seniors, according to Emily Wax-Thibodeaux in the Washington Post Saturday morning, link here.  The facility is the John C. Anderson apartments.  There is a waiting list.  I see that the New York Times had reported on this property March 14.
   
LGBT seniors still report discrimination, sometimes in Florida, especially in other southern states.

One of my own best living experiences was in the Churchill Apartments in downtown Minneapolis from 1997-2003.  This was pricey by Midwestern standards, but a little less expensive than the same kind of building in the DC area (about 20% less).  There were a number of handicapped people and there were apartments set aside for senior housing (Bridge Street) and companies (even movie studios), but the building as a whole was general population.  There were graduate students (the U of M was a mile away) and pretty clearly some LGBT.  It was on the Skyway and close to the social life on Hennepin.  It was close to most employers downtown by walk.  I prefer places with mixed populations, not specialized ones.    

Friday, September 12, 2014

North Carolina "libertarian" rep compares gay rights to smokers'


Here’s a story that sounds like a distortion of libertarianism, taken literally. Rep Robert Pittenger (R-NC) compare the “right” to fire gay people from a private business to the right to smoke cigarettes outside or in a private home.  The Think Progress story is here.   I guess his kind of argument cuts both ways.  But back in the 90s, GLIL opposed anti-discrimination laws against private businesses on libertarian grounds (sometimes sounding awkward, as withj one 1996 press release) and supported the Boy Scouts position in the Supreme Court, but insisted that the BSA should get no public funds anyway.  Oh, I remember when I was in the Army, the officers were expected to work with the BSA. 

Let the life companies continue to charge the smokers higher rates.