Saturday, February 25, 2017

Houston has unusual club brawl; ABC miniseries on gay history coming next week

The Houston Chronicle has a report of an unusual and unfortunate event in a bar. A brawl broke out at the F Bar on Tuam Street in midtown Houston, story Feb. 24.    There were no reported injuries or arrests.  These events are rare in gay establishments.  I’ve witnessed only two of them.  One was in Wailuku Hawaii in Aug. 1980, and the other was in London, in the Soho area, in November 1982.  I did hear about an incident in the old Tracks in Washington in 1995 (when I wasn’t there).

These events of course don’t count external attacks, like the Pulse in Orlando in June 2016 or the arson at the Upstairs Lounge in Houston in June 1973, now the subject of a new film, “Upstairs Inferno”.   I’ve heard that fund raising will start soon for a film about Pulse, but I have no details.
I’ve actually been ejected once from a bar, the Gay 90s in Minneapolis, in October 2001, when a security person thought I was unsteady as I walked down stairs (I wasn’t).  Twice I was denied admission to the Brass Rail (small, no disco) in Minneapolis in the fall of 2002, and I have no idea why.  But security in bars was touchier in the period after 9/11 than it had ever been before.

At Cobalt last night, someone was wearing a T-shirt advocating California secession – an idea gaining steam in the era of Trump.

The ABC mini-series “When We Rise” will air next week on four nights, 2-hour segments (8 hours total) about gay history. 9 PM EST. schedule here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Houston picture by Trivillex, CCSA 2.0

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gavin Grimm's arguments before the Supreme Court made public

The Washington Blade has a story by Chris Johnson outlining seven arguments made by Gavin Grimm before the Supreme Court, link here.  Essentially, the Tidewater Virginia school policy singles him out too much.

The clip above comes from the National Geographic film “Gender Revolution” with Katie Couric.
Here is the ACLU link on Grimm’s case and here is the brief.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trump and Sessions undo Obama's federal guidance to school systems on trans students, return matter to states

There are many media reports today about president Trump’s reversing an Obama administration “guidance”, motivated by the Civil Rights Act, that schools have to allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice.  Actually, “it” was Jeff Sessions.  The administration claims it is up to states to manage this issue.  Trump has personally said before that states should define their own procedures to recognize legitimate trans students legally and pass these on to schools. Many states would be able to do this administratively.  Unfortunately, North Carolina and Virginia, to name two examples, have made a mess.

Filmmaker Nev Schulman ("Catfish", on MTV) passed along the ATTN story on Facebook.

Vox has a long piece with card stack by German Lopez, “Anti-transgender bathroom hysteria, explained” ,  It led to a complete unraveling in North Carolina.

The Washington Post, to its credit, goes into the legal and constitutional issues in a long piece by Emma Brown et al, here.

Annual LGBT Mega Networking was held at Town DC tonight (Facebook reference).   I’ll have to wait for a friend’s report on FB, was at a Cato event today (issues blog).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Milo is scorned by most of gay community; Presidents' Day weekend meltdowns

By now, everyone knows that Milo Yiannopolous had a rough President’s Day (it’s supposed to be a Holiday).  He was disinvited to speak at CPAC at National Harbor (MD), lost his book deal at Simon $ Shuster (Threshold), and could lose his place and income from Breitbart.

At a social last Saturday morning (AGLA at Freddie’s) some of us talked about his controversies.  There is a general feeling that, although his “enemies” like to pull his most provocative quotes out of context, his “rationalizatons” are self-serving (in a “Dr. Phil” sense).  He does not identify with being oppressed, particularly with being part of a marginalized group.  He (like Donald Trump) behaves as if he nurtured a certain inner contempt for “losers” (even in biological terms) or for people who cannot fit in to a competitive society easily.  One or more of his comments about trans people could certainly be viewed this way.  Milo seems to believe it is up to challenged people to lift themselves up, and fit in to the expectations of others.  That can invite bullying.

The male gay community, of course, is sometimes accused of promoting “body fascism” which, when it gets beyond the personal life area, can morph into something politically dangerous.

In a Vox  (article by German Lopez) has written that Milo has, perhaps not completely intentionally, fed into myths that connect male homosexuality to pedophilia.  This is an idea that Vladimir Putin in Russia exploited with the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law, a situation that still contributes to asylum seeking in the US, which may well narrow under Trump.

Some people, whom I see as credible, have told me in person that they are offended by Milo’s behavior and don’t like to see bloggers or reporters bringing him up and rationalizing his comments even with context.

But the Wall Street Journal has some constructive comments on the slant on the “pedophilia” issue in an article by Jeffrey Trachtenberg here. (Later today: Milo's own press conference remarks here on Facebook.)

On Saturday evening, by the way, I went in to Town DC and attended the DC Rawhide (country and western) event (every two weeks, since Remington’s closed about three years ago).  I went home early, while the Metro was still running.  it was good to hear some other general show music, as from the Twilight movies, The mood reminded me of the Roundup on Cedar Springs in Dallas (at one time known as Magnolia's).   I was last there in late 2011.


Was Milo set up by an "anti-Trump" hit?  Daily Caller has an account  Fake news?

There is a video of his press conference here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

AGLA holds social in Old Town Alexandria; more talk about Milo

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance held a social in Alexandria at the Hilton Garden Inn this evening. This is the first time I've been to the Alexandria social.

It took a moment to find the valet parking, but then it went smoothly.

Yup, we talked about Donald Trump's comedy routine at his press conference Thursday, and then about bad boy Milo Yiannopoulos, who could be the reinvention of character Shane Lyons from the movie "Judas Kiss".  Milo was due to appear on HBO tonight with Bill Maher.   By the way, popular actor-singer Timo Descamps, who plays Shane, just tweeted spectacular pictures from winter hiking in the high (snow) desert in southern California and is said to visit Palm Springs sometimes.

Milo makes a lot of comments that are understandable in context to a less marginalized population, but which are seen as bullying by people who are already down.  Milo attacks the idea that people secure rights only by belonging to victimized "groups".

The concept on fat shaming is one of the most provocative, because body image is so critical to much of the make gay community (the "body fascism" idea).  There are SM rituals based on mental eroticizing of shame that used to get promoted in porn magazines in the past.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Asylum seekers (including gay men of color) crossing border into Canada "illegally"

Anderson Cooper presented a story Monday February 13, 2017 on his AC360 program on CNN about “refugees” crossing the border into Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, from the border (of Minnesota and North Dakota in the US).  The link is here.

In one case, both men lost most fingers to frostbite.  One of the men said he was gay and from Ghana and would be persecuted if he went back.

Residents of the town say they get doorkknocks from border-crossers escaping the cold.  Some don't have cell phones and want to call police so that they can demand asylum.  (This does sound like a setup for a trojan horse home invasion incident.)

It was not clear if they were simply undocumented (and had entered somehow through Mexico) or had attempted to apply for asylum legally in the U.S.  Generally, they would have needed to apply for asylum within one year of arrival.  There was no mention of whether they had sought assistance from attorneys or social groups helping aslyees (the nearest big US city would have been Minneapolis-St. Paul).

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Particular social group" and "political opinion" in asylum law, and LGBTQ people

Following up on a post I wrote on my International Issues blog yesterday, Sunday, February 12, 2017 about the “Particular Social Group” component of asylum seeking, it’s natural to wonder if right-wing cabinet choices, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions, could deliberately undermine or eliminate the practice of often considering homosexuals a particular social group in asylum cases.

 Today I’ll follow up on a that and on a post Feb. 8.  

If someone were hosting such an asylum seeker, that could presumably lead to denial and illegal status and possible deportation, and a moral dilemma for hosts as to breaking the law.

The general impression from reading the statutes (as in yesterday’s posts) is that the Attorney General or other officials are not supposed to make any judgment like this based on some personal religious or closely held belief.

Could there be legitimate foreign policy reasons for undermining the PSG concept?  It sounds far-fetched.  But in the case of Russia, and Trump’s proclaimed desire to let Putin help Trump defeat ISIS in Syria (however unwise, given what has happened in Aleppo) it could be argued, perhaps, that American citizens should not assist immigrants (who might otherwise be forced to return) just to protect a foreign country’s policy on social issues, especially homosexuals, or perhaps even women as a whole.  (Russia seems poised to pass a law reducing wives’ access to legal measures after domestic violence.)   I’ve heard this said to me personally.  There is the “take care of your own” first idea.

It could be argued that “homosexuals” are not a class as such but simply professing a desired lifestyle path (rather than staying in a “closet” after returning and living a straight life of traditional marriage and kids).  But then it might be possible for the asylee to use the (imputed) “political opinion” prong of asylum definition (rather than PSG).

Donald Trump himself has not shown personal animosity to gays (or trans).  This could partly be the result of positive experiences on his “Apprentice” program.  Indeed, he seems to enjoy the support of people ranging from Peter Thiel (who could be very positive in jobs building in tech and in areas like domestic national security, for example, or infrastructure) to Milo Yiannopoulos (whose statements and stage performances are not as inflammatory as the combative far Left – and even Twitter --  makes them out to be).  But he has certainly made many appointments (most of all Sessions) with rather frightening records on LGBTQ issues, and in many cases attitudes that seem racist as well.  Furthermore, Trump’s obsession with Muslims as a group sets a frightening precedent (ironically, the “Jews” of today).

In any case, no change in PSG policy should put an asylee in a position of returning to certain persecution, violence, imprisonment, or even death.  There are asylum seekers who would face immediate physical danger or imprisonment if returned by deportation.  Any change in policy that creates this danger should be met with litigation.

Second picture: Placard from Freddie's Beach Bar, for openly gay secretary of the Army Eric Fanning.