Monday, October 31, 2011

Gay retirement communities face hard times because of housing price crisis

On Saturday, the New York Times reported  (story by Dan Frosch)on “Hard Times for Gay Retirement Havens” in a number of areas like Boston, Florida, Arizona, and Austin TX.   A community center in New Mexico, “Retirement Visions” link (still working) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (story by Bob Quick) .

The obvious cause is recession and the collapse of housing prices, making it impossible for gay seniors, like everyone else, to sell their old residences.

I have some good memories of Santa Fe, from a winter 1980 weekend visit. 

I recall a session at the old “West Side Discussion Group” back in the spring of 1973, “Are gay resorts really gay?” 

Wikipedia attribution link for Santa Fe photo. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

CobaltDC holds Halloween costume party; I am equated to a character from "The Rocky Picture Horror Show"

Most of Washington DC’s “gay men” seemed to survive Halloween, at least the Saturday night weekend (Oct. 29) party at Cobalt DC, the evening after a surprise October snow grazed the area, but didn’t quite stick downtown or around Dupont Circle much.

There’s still two days to go, with smaller gatherings trick-or-treat night, Monday, a school night and work night.  And Tuesday becomes All Saints Day.

The upstairs started like a typical last Saturday (“RawDC”) with  male films from Colt Studios on videos – plenty of provocation but no suspense (and almost no “plot”).

One little clique impersonated characters from "The Three Musketeers" (a French nobleman; not sure who was d"Artagnan; and Milady was a no-show). 

And another guy impersonated (uncannily resembled) Nationals' walk-off homerun star Ryan Zimmerman (even after last year's hernia surgery); he said Cardinal's hero  (in the World Series) David Freese resembled Michael Morse more than Zimmerman. 

The customer contest was held at 12:15 AM, with about 30 contestants divided into 6 groups. The MC, shouting into a microphone (and “her” movie was too loud and shrill) ordered “losers”  (“f.-off”) off the (‘g.d.’) stage, because, like Donald Trump running The Apprentice, “everybody hates losers”.  Finally, there were three finalists.  The “girl in the portrait” won, even though the MC didn’t seem to agree with the crowd’s choice. (She didn't like living portraits, like those in the Harry Potter movies.)P Voting was based on who could yell the loudest.  It was what the Washington Times calls “Mobocracy”.   I voted for the fully grown Bengal tiger (he looked pretty convincing as a big cat).  The Metro Weekly (“Dillon”) was there, with an interesting camera featuring halo light, like what TV’s had in the 50s.

JR’s, at 1:30 AM, on the way back, was relatively quiet.

On the Metro Orange Line, however, all the straight people were well dressed in costumes for the Clarendon (Arlington) bars.  More people were in costume than weren’t.

I dressed for warmth: green sweater and jacket.  I was asked if I was in costume as a contestant in “The Rocky Picture Horror Show” (I had seen  the stage musical in Minneapolis at the Hey Theater in the spring of 2003).  Remember, the losers there pay the penalty by being forced into drag, with all the attendant consequences to the body. That’s not the way to survive Halloween.

Last word: Halloween isn't over yet. Be careful!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

AIDSWalk in Washington DC fights off Noreaster: rain, wind, thunder, threat of snow

Today, Aidswalk 25 in Washington DC fought off a powerful Noreaster, which remained all rain (so far) in downtown Washington DC. Here is the site  and the minimum standard donation requested is $25.

There was even a clap of thunder or two, celebrating the barometric low pressure (which usually makes my hip pain go away), as the soaking rain continued.  The crowd around Freedom Plaza was, frankly, sparse.  AIDSWalk chose a later weekend this year, although usually the weather in Washington is mild, even enough for shorts, until after Thanksgiving.  The Marine Corps Marathon (the first one after DADT repeal) occurs tomorrow, with a late fall weekend chosen to avoid the risk of heat injury to runners. 

The actual walk was to be 5 km (3 miles), but few walkers were returning even though it was around 9:55 AM when I arrived from the Federal Triangle Metro stop. 

The water bottles and other minimal concessions were around; the band was not; music was being piped from the stand when I was there.  Once ballpark clown pounced around. 

A small encampment from Occupy DC still appeared at the west end of the Plaza, closest to the Treasury Dept. Building.

AIDSWalkDC for 2011 has its own YouTube video of those who braved the cold rain and thunder, with umbrellas:

When they said Rain or Snow, they meant it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Huffington runs YouTube video of anti-gay bullying incident in Ohio

The Huffington Post has reported on (including replublishing the cell phone video of) a beating of a gay teen in a Chillocothe, Ohio high school (Union-Scotio).  Apparently the perpetrator got only three days suspension.

The link is here.

My own take on this is to wonder, why are penalties for bullying for any reason (gay-related or not) so light?  You don’t need “political indoctrination” in the classroom to have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.  But the zero-tolerance should eventually lead to the ability to question out-of-touch beliefs.

I have to admit that I “got back” a few times by returning the “favor” in middle school. In ninth grade (junior high school then), in 1958, I belittled another boy for having a seizure. It’s hard for me to grasp why I would have done that.  Compulsiveness?  A belief (common in the 1950s) that any “disability” was a sign of sin?  The maturity of the teen brain?

And, don’t forget, until recently, the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, as well as the previous “absolute ban” (with “asking”) on gays in the military, could have provided, in the minds of many kids (and parents and school administrators) a pretext for believing that gays as a whole did not deserve complete protection of the law.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Actor Zachary Quinto ("Margin Call") comes out at film premier; Kevin Spacey comments on bullying

While reviewing “Margin Call” tonight (Movies blog) and looking up the trailers for the film on YouTube, I quickly came across a little clip about actor Zachary Quinto (age 34, born in Pennsylvania) coming out as gay at the New York premier of the film.

In the film, Quinto plays Peter Sullivan, the analyst who discovers that the Wall Street firm will fail. He comes across as the most (and maybe only) likeable character in the film.

Quinto, with thick eyebrows and narrow face, is said to look “Spock like” and the film tends to focus on “masculinity” in its visual rendition, to say the least.

Actor Kevin Spacey, also in the film, would not discuss his sexuality directly, but offered a comment in an interview written up by Gina Serpe in Dec. 16, 2010  ("Kevin Spacey on gay rumors: 'I am different than some people would like me to be")  for Eon, link here.  

Spacey said “But why is it in this country that kids might think it’s OK to bully and make fun of somebody? .. I’ll tell you what, because what do they see in the media happening all the time? In te media they seem to think that’s OK, so it we stop using sexuality as a weapon against people, maybe everyone will eventually get cool with it.”

Spacey said he would be happy to appear in an “It gets better” PSA.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

William and Mary GALA holds Silver Anniversary dinner in Wren Building

On Saturday night, Oct. 22, The William and Mary Gay and Lesbian Alumni(ae), Inc. held its Silver Anniversary Dinner (25th, from its 1986 founding) in the Great Hall of the Christopher Wren Building, in Willliamsburg, VA.

Wayne Curtis, President, opened and then introduced Jeffrey Trammel, Rector of the College of William and Mary, and then Special Guest, Taylor Revely, 27th President of the College.  The president said that college students, to succeed, must learn to work in a world of very diverse views of all matters of culture, including both religion and sexuality.  This is not the world it was a half-century ago, he said.  Times have changed. 

The dinner was certainly delicious. The first choice, which I took, was “sautéed lump crab cake with Edwards country ham, stone ground mustard sauce, and tobacco onions, creamy grits, and seasoned vegetables.”  There was also a “pecan crusted chicken with roasted peach chutney”.  I believe these were supposed to be colonial menus the way they could have been prepared in the 18th century.  The mustard ham and crab was hot-tasting. It’s preparation would be a good topic for a cooking show, or maybe for “Good Morning America”, or maybe for Nate Berkus. 

The documentary film (Movies blog) was reshown.  There was also a discussion of the Richard Cornish Endowment Fund  (link) for the acquisition of gay and lesbian resources at the Earl Greg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.

There was a reception at a GALA board member’s home in the “woods”, very  hard to find on a night with a New Moon on narrow streets with no lights.  The palatial home would indeed fit the Nate Berkus design show. 

(See also Oct. 2 posting on WM "It Gets Better" video.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Most GOP candidates have threatened to reinstate "don't ask don't tell"; a response to the "Booing" incident

SLDN assembled  and tweeted a bunch of recent comments from GOP candidates which generally “threaten” to reinstate “don’t ask don’t tell”, or worse.  Here is a longer analysis of the “booing” incident from “Such Is Life Videos”. (The exception would be libertarian Ron Paul.)

Zach Ford has an article from “Think Progress” on Herman Cain’s recent discussion on the choice issue with Joy Behar, link here   In the 1999 Fox film, a grandfatherly character played by Alan Alda said "It's a very natural choice."  It has always seemed to me that the immutability argument is a way of punting the football, on third down. 

Somehow, if I were a member of LCR, it would be very hard to work for GOP candidates credibly. And I don't "like" partisanship.

Update: Nov. 8

Here's a piece on Rick Perry's position on Political Ticker, link

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quebec researcher sheds perceptive light on the origins of AIDS, and subsequent epidemiology; some bad luck?

The New York Times has a detailed and important story in the “Science Times” Oct. 18, “Chimp to Human to History Books: The Path of AIDS”, news analysis by Donald G. McNeil, Jr, discussing a book by Canadian-Belgian clinician Dr. Jacques Pepin, “The Origins of AIDS,” from Cambridge University Press.  The link is here. The author should not be confused with the well-known chef.

Pepin says that a few unlucky events may have led to the transmission of HIV-like viruses from chimps to humans, and that the virus could have been amplified in the Congo a half century ago by less than optimal sterilization procedures in the handling of injections, blood and surgery.  A few, or even one, bureaucrat hired from Haiti after the Congo became independent could have brought it to Haiti, where it could have been “amplified” again in the early 70s at a Port-au-Prince plasma center. Pepin documents how HIV has many subgroups, and most of the infections in Haiti and then among gay men (or MSM’s) was of Type B, whereas the subtype spread by heterosexual contact in Africa may be other subtypes, which could have slightly different transmission capacities.

In other words, the epidemic that erupted in the male gay community in the 1980s might never have happened without the plasma center.

I was living in Dallas in the 1980s, and Dallas saw the epidemic spread about two years after NY and LA, with potentially enormous political implications, including a draconian attempt to reinforce the Texas sodomy law with a bill (Ceverha’s HR 2138) introduced in 1983; it did fail to get out of committee, but only because of effective lobbying by the Dallas Gay Alliance.  The right wing made arguments about “chain letters” which I won’t detail here; an epidemic could still percolate among a relatively closed population.  During the 1990s, the political panic of this sort subsided; and in 2003, of course, the ruling Lawrence v. Texas put it to bed. 

The McNeil article suggests that many subtypes of HIV are indeed very difficult to transmit. But the experience in Africa should allay any complacency. Anecdotally, the experience if the past ten or fifteen years has been even in the US that birdrectional heterosexual transmission is relatively much more common than it had been.

The moralizers can still have their debates whenever they want to.  I still have the original "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts.

Cambridge University Press has a blog  ("This Side of the Pond") entry about Pepin’s work here

The picture is from a trip to the Texas border areas (south of San Antonio) in 1985

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frank Kameny, long time gay activist, passes away at 86 in Washington DC

Well known gay activist Dr. Franklin E. Kameny passed away Tuesday in his sleep, according to the Washington Blade, link here

Dr. Kameny was fired from the government as an astronomer back in 1957 after he was confronted by a government witch-hunt scoring civilian civil service for “homosexuals”.  He was never sure what tipped the government off.

The federal government would amend civil service rules in 1973 to remove sexual orientation as a reason for dismissal or direct discrimination.  I actually worked for the National Bureau of Standards from 1963-1964 (my first job) and remember reading the reasons you could be “removed”. 

Kameny often weighed in on Scott Peck’s radio program in 1993 to talk about issues with LGBT people getting security clearances, a situation which got better in the 90s after the Persian Gulf War, before the political battle over the military gay ban when Bill Clinton took office in 1993.

I talked to Frank Kameny by phone in 1973 after "coming out" a second time, from a motel room. I remember he said that Georgetown was not Washington DC's answer to Greenwich Village.  He liked the bars in Washington's Navy Yard section then, like Lost and Found.

I talked to him again around 2001, when he told me he never lost faith in the ability of the gay community to persevere through any crisis, like the political fallout from AIDS in the 1980s. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Major dispute over students petitions, seeking redress to bullying erupts at a Tennessee high school; CA passes, Gov. Brown signs Seth's Law

There apparently occurred an incident at a Tennessee high school were a principal allegedly hit a student after banning petitions and trying to stop a Gay-Straight alliance to deal with bullying. The “” story is here (with online petition).

The ACLU has a detailed story about the incident at Sequoyah High School and Principal Moser at Madisonville, TN, link here.

Madisonville is in SE Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountains, in an area known for Bible-belt mentality in the past (the Scopes trial was not so far away). Wikipedia attribution link for picture. I visited the area in June 2004. 

Anderson Cooper will continue reporting on bullying all week at 8 PM EDT on CNN.
In another development, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has signed Seth's law AB 9 and another related provision, AB 1156 to strengthen anti-bullying provisions in California. Here is the link on Seth's Law from Equality California.

Update: Oct. 31

CNN has a valuable video on the "neutrality policy" in the Anoka County MN school district, link.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Atlanta case in 2009 reminds one that police raids can occur; note on circuits

Don’t think that gay bar raids can’t happen in the US. A newspaper called “Pixiq” describes a raid by Atlanta police on the Atlanta Eagle without a search warrant in Sept. 2009.  The news story that I found is indeed a bit dated, Dec. 2010.  The story is here

There was a legal settlement later imposed on the police, which included provisions of the right of citizens to photograph police, (website url) here. In the raid, police had confiscated cell phones and cameras without cause, which was arguable unconstitutional.

Back around 1980, when I was living in Dallas, there was a period of raids on Dallas bars by one particular police officer, making bogus changes of “lewd conduct”.  One person was convicted twice and forced to leave Dallas to avoid jail. But finally, a computer operator  (from ARCO) fought it and won in court in 1981.

As an aside, last night’s (new?) “Just Circuit” party at Cobalt in DC (link) was relatively unscripted, no special decorations.  Music was continuous, without stops.  It was a lot “tamer” than the CP world depicted in a couple of movies from TLA (“Circuit” from 2001 is actually a very intriguing film about the Palm Springs scene, definitely worth a rental now.)  

Pictures: (1) Atlanta pride, 2004; (2) No, I'm not praying. 

Saturday, October 08, 2011

ABC reports further on bullying, including a special middle school in Milwaukee

ABC News has a 7 minute video on the case of Jamey Rodermeyer, accompanying the material of the case in California on Larry King and Brandon McInerney, reviewed on the TV blog today.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper will hold a town hall on anti-gay bullying Sunday night Oct. 9. The forum will be hosted at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ, site of the Tyler Clementi tragedy. 

Lady Gaga is also discussed in this report as weighing in on the issue.

ABC News also has a story on the Alliance School in Milwaukee, WI by Jim Dubrueil and Denise Matrinez-Ramundo, the first public middle school specifically set up for gay and transgendered students.  I don’t recall whether Tammy Baldwin (running for Senate in WI) mentioned the school in her speech at the HRC Dinner last weekend.

Huffington Post story on Jamey is here.

YouTube has a trailer for a new documentary "Bullied". As soon as I'm able to find the complete film, I'll review it on the Movies blog.  Does someone know where to order a DVD?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Ninth Circuit vacates Log Cabin victory in court over DADT, saying repeal makes case moot; LCR claims gays will vote GOP

The Ninth Circuit has vacated the earlier decision striking down “don’t ask don’t tell”  (in the suit filed by Log Cabin Republicans) because the repeal of USC 654, taking effect Sept. 20, makes the case moot and achieves through the political process what had been sought through the courts.  The Circuit says that the district court ruling cannot have any precedential effect now.  The Metro Weekly story is here

Metro Weekly provided a link to its own copy of the opinion.

The practical concern would be the possibility that a future president could unilaterally restore the ban, as Aubrey Sarvis has suggested.

Log Cabin says that over 30% of gay voters are voting Republican, and offers this piece

Sunday, October 02, 2011

William and Mary GALA presents "It Gets Better" video, announces Silver Anniversary homecoming schedule

The group William and Mary GALA (William and Mary Gay and Lesbian Alumni, Inc.) has an announcement of its homecoming weekend schedule for this month on its home page here. This will be the organizations’ “Silver Anniversary” celebration (25th anniversary).

William and Mary has its “It Gets Better” project video (14 minutes) on YouTube.

In my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book, and on my “BillBoushka” blog (see profile), Nov. 28, 2006 entry, I’ve documented my “expulsion” from William and Mary my freshman semester on Nov. 28, 1961.  That happened, of course, in a different era. 

Anderson Cooper and CNN AC360 will present the "Bullying: It Stops Here" on Sunday, Oct. 9. 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

HRC Annual Dinner in Washington hosts President Obama, Michael Bloomberg, Tammy Baldwin, Cyndi Lauper

President Obama spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Annual Dinner tonight. This was the 15th Annual Dinner.  I had attended one other HRC Dinner here in DC, and one in Minneapolis right after 9/11, when I met the governor Jesse Ventura personally. 

Personally, I had encountered a couple delays on the Metro and got there too late to go through security. So us latecomers watched it in the lobby, then were let in.  I guess I was lucky, because the  “About” column at the HRC website warns guests that they will not be allowed into the event space if they don’t arrive to register by 6:30 PM (early for such events).  I should have read this Saturday.  It's tough in a city with deteriorating Metro service with so many outages and delays (wasn't a problem ten years ago).  Thankfully, that policy wasn’t enforced. Over 3000 people attended and the event did sell out (at $250 a ticket and up).

The audio of the president's speech in the lobby (for latecomers) was muffled, but here is an important quote from the Huffington Post (story by Amanda Terkel, link).

"We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the president of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don't believe in that.”

Obama talked about ending DOMA (as well as the success in ending "don't ask don't tell") but he didn’t completely endorse gay marriage.  His reluctance to do so created controversy in the media and CNN was already discussing this when I got home after 11 PM. He did talk about the need for everyone to do his fair share to restore the economy, and obvious jab at the GOP.

Before the main course, Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke, passionately, about equal rights and that government should not interfere with the relationships that people have or even how they are licensed (almost in the spirit of GLIL’s famous “License Expired” essay in 1996). He said that New York was an economic engine because it had always been the place you could be what you wanted to be.  (That may not have been true in the 60s at the time of the World’s Fair, and all the raids and payoffs at the Mafia-controlled bars then.)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) spoke. Here is her record on the issues (link).  But Baldwin has actually sometimes been known for tough talk on areas of personal responsibility and protecting children.
A clip of Suze Orman was shown.

A good part of the program was an auction for four huge overseas trips, to South Africa, Russia, a cruise, and Thailand.

Cyndi Lauper then provided entertainment, after re-introducing Joe Solomonese, with “Time after Time”.

At the After Party, I met a young-looking man from Oregon who said he does home automation and claimed to be from another planet, 30 light years away.  It sounded like a conversation from a David Lynch movie (maybe "Lost Highway"). But I can't prove him wrong.  He said he was 45 but that angels don't age. 

As I left, HRC volunteers gave out backpacks of corporate sponsor stuff, which meant I couldn't readily go anywhere else without being near my car (in Arlington) to unload it.  

But, this is a time for celebration. And for caution as we look to the dangerous 2012 election season, with a trying economy for so many people. 

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