Friday, August 31, 2012

CA bill to prohibit reparative therapy on gay minors will go to governor; why is there any question about signature?

Cheryl Wetzstein has a stpry pn p A12 of the Aug. 31 Washington Times, “Gay therapy ban ready for enacting; Treating of children would be prohibited”.  A copy of the article appears today on the webpage of state Senator Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance), here

The Washington Times had a banner at the bottom of the print version front page pointing to the article.
Governor Jerry Brown has not stated what he will do, but he has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill, or let it go into effect without signature on Jan. 1, 2013.  The bill is known as SB 1172 (sexual orientation change efforts"). The text of the bill is available here

This seems to the only such state law in the nation so far. But there is a lot of medical sentiment now that reparative therapy is essentially quackery. 

It’s not hard to envision the opposition from the religious right, which shows its true colors – it’s not just interested in the abstract concept of “marriage”; it wants to convert or penalize people who deviate. It’s also not hard to see that proponents of “reparative therapy” (by Joseph Nicolosi in his 2002 book) are pandering to parents who fear not having a lineage.  

As an only child, that observation certainly applied in my case. 

When I was an inpatient at NIH in the latter part of 1962, homosexuality had gradually become “the issue”.  Previously, the focus had been on my disinclination to do the things demanded of my gender (which are necessary to protect women and children in an adversarial or threatened society, according to moral thinking of my own generation, since then somewhat abated). 

My own hardcopy patient records show a concern on the part of the therapists about my indifference to girls, and with the existential meaning that could be deciphered from my homosexual fantasies (inasmuch as they implied judgments that could be made of other men about potential fitness to reproduce).  It’s all rather scary.  And right during the middle of my stay, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.  Since I went to college at night in DC (at GWU), I was the only patient who knew the danger that was brewing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Washington Blade publishes Maryland referendum petitioners' list (link) online

The Washington Blade seems to have created controversy by publishing a convenient link to a list of the names (and addresses) of persons who signed a petition to place Maryland’s marriage equality law on referendum, on the general election ballot on Nov. 6.

The actual list (July 12, 2012) is on Scribd and is available (as a dynamic PDF) here.

Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, defends decision of his newspaper to do so in this Viewpoint editorial on p 26 of the Aug. 24 issue, link here.

Although the Blade didn’t explain in detail, the Blade has to have gotten the list from the State of Maryland, which, in accordance with state election or petition laws, somehow has enabled the publication on the Scribd website.

In 2010, the United States Supreme Court had ruled, 8-1, in a case from Washington State called Doe v. Reed, that a law (in Washington) or administrative policy mandating disclosure of petitioners on a referendum does not violate First Amendment rights. The Court opinion PDF (June 24, 2010) is here

The Court held that signing a petition was a form of legislative activity which cannot be carried out in secret.
In Washington State, a group called Protect Marriage Washington had sought to keep private the identities of 13800 signers of an R-71 petition to overturn Washington State’s “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law. Chris Grygiel of Seattle Pi offered a perspective on the decision with respect to Washington State, “Supreme Court on R-71: Names on petitions can be made public”, link here.

One original point of graduated disclosure of referendum petitioners was to monitor fraud. 
There is a related issue, whether political pressure groups should (or can ) be forced to disclose the names of donors, with the proposed Disclose Act, which is discussed in an article by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie in the libertarian-leaning Reason Magazine Oct. 18, 2010, “Who Is Pubius: Who’s Afraid of Anonymous Political Speech”, link here

Reason points out the original Federalist papers were published under a pseudonym. I'll follow up on this later on my issues or main blog. 
But the issue of making contributions to candidates or to advocacy groups is different from signing a petition; contributions don’t directly cause legislation to be voted on. 
It's  important to note that the State of Maryland, while making the petitioners' list available on formal request, apparently doesn't directly publish it online.  Only a private pressure group or media group (or conceivably a person) does that.  Does the practical risk of Internet publication change the concept that signing a petition is “open book” legislative activity?  It’s true, it would take less effort to locate names to single people out for intimidation than if one had to go to a courthouse to view the list physically.  An unethical employer could fire someone after finding a name on a petition list with so little effort.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that the names get indexed by search engines and could affect “online reputation”.

Andrew Sullivan supported the Blade’s action in a very brief statement, oh “The Daily Beast”, saying that you shouldn’t try to deny someone else’s rights in secret (which Naff echoed),, link here.   

For example, go back to 1977 when Anita Bryant with her “Save out Children” crusade raised about 64000 signatures to force a vote to overturn Dade County’s non-discrimination protection ordinance. It’s pretty easy to say that someone who signed such a petition is “legislating” a measure that will very likely cause some people to be fired from their jobs for their perceived personal lives.   Should the identity of someone who tries to do this be public?  (The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that it can be.)

I think a lot of people don’t perceive denying equal marriage rights as a personal attack on others that deserves this kind of scrutiny.  After all, before the 1990s gay rights focused more on the “obvious” things, like employment and housing discrimination, and many gay people said that they had no interest in marriage. In recent years, there has developed much more appreciation of the fact that marriage inequality can affect even those who don’t try to marry.  That’s partly because in today’s world, with longer lifespans, caregiving and family responsibility is coming to be expected of everyone. 

The Cato Institute has a clip on Doe v. Reed with comments by Steve Simpson (Institute for Justice), from Oct. 10, 2010 on YouTube:

The speaker thinks that the Supreme Court issued a very narrow ruling in Reed, differing from how it has subsequently ruled on contributions and other political speech.

Here's one other aside:  In the late 1990s, when I worked sometimes on some "ballot access petition" drives for the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, we told petitioners that their names and addresses would be kept private and never be given out. Perhaps, in hindsight, we didn't have the legal authority to say that.   A ballot access petition, however, might not rise to the level of "legislative" activity of a referendum petition. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GOP platforms had supported military gay ban through 2008

Marc Fisher has a long story in the Washington Post this morning about the GOP platform and its evolution on the social issues over the decades.

He mentions that in each of the years 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008, it contained the words “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service.”  Theoretically, that could have supported the "Old Ban" from 1981, even before "don't ask don't tell". 

The link for the Post story is here

Apparently there is no mention of the military ban, now repealed, in the 2012 platform.  But if the GOP takes the White House and Congress both, SLDN will have its work cut out for it again, and openly gay military members could find themselves in a precarious position again.

Log Cabin Republicans continues its loyalty façade, with a list of activities in Tampa here

The Republican Party 2012 Platform is here.

The platform now says that the military should not become "a platform for social experimentation."

Also, search for the phrase "Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage".   There is an interesting sentence about the "lack of family formation" (people not having children, it seems, as well as simply not marrying) leading to "more government control of all citizens in all its aspects".  Is that an allusion to filial responsibility laws?

Monday, August 27, 2012

A visit to a Cracker Barrel restaurant (in the early 1990s, it had been one of the most anti-gay employers known)

Saturday night, driving back to Washington up I-95, I decided to try dinner at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant.  It’s elevated trademarked banner , on the west side of the highway, is the first sign to a motorist of having reached Fredericksburg, half way between Richmond and Washington.
The restaurant is actually hard to find, in a “Southpoint” shopping center (a counter to Northpoint in Dallas, maybe) that is complicated to find from the Interstate.

Cracker Barrel at one time was famous for its explicit policy requiring homosexual employees to be fired, implemented by founder Danny Evins, who died recently (story).

ABC 20-20 and other media outlets, around 1991, ran stories of cooks or waiters fired with personnel records saying “employee is gay”.

The policy was rescinded about the beginning of 1992.  In 2002, shareholders finally voted to include protection against sexual orientation discrimination in company policy.  But even today, signs at the restaurants (which include gaudy gift shops) don’t mention sexual orientation in non-discrimination service policies.

The food and service very good, and the history of the chain (which I suppose is franchised and is based in Tennessee) is interesting:  crackers used to be stored in huge wooden barrels.

I had stopped at a Cracker Barrel only once before, in December 1996, in Roanoke VA, on the way back from a weekend trip in West Virginia. 

A few days after that trip, I had a meeting with Human Resources at my own employer (then USLICO Corporation, which had been acquired by NWNL to become ReliaStar) about my upcoming “do ask do tell” book to avoid any conflict of interest problems, and I mentioned the Cracker Barrel issue.  The HR manager had never heard of it.  ReliaStar did have very progressive policies in the 1990s on the issue; USLICO, which was based on serving the military, simply didn’t mention or address it.

In the 1990s, the Security and Exchange Commission found itself in litigation for trying to nix a requirement that corporate boards respond to stockholder requests to address anti-discrimination policy, including sexual orientation.  That story and other actions are covered in a long history of the company on the New York Times site.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yes, Baby. there exist gay bars in Virginia

Yes, gay bars are alive, maybe not always well, in Virginia, the Old Dominion, the (ironic) mother of presidents.  I haven’t shown or depicted any of them that I can remember, except for Freddy’s Beach Bar in Arlington, conveniently near the Pentagon in Crystal City. (Yes, a great Sunday brunch).

Remember, Virginia has a long history as a dry state (well before Prohibition), and didn’t allow liquor by the drink to be sold in bars until 1968.  (I was stationed at Fort Eustis, in Newport News, VA, at the time, and it was a big deal.)

Virginia also has an archaic law forbidding the sale of alcohol to a known homosexual.  I’m not sure if it’s been officially repealed (since Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 would have invalidated its “crimes against nature” law). There was no way, of course, that it could ever have been enforced in a manner consistent with due process.

Back in the 70s, the best known gay bar in Richmond was the Dial Tone.  Now, there are a few listed in gay cities.  I passed by Godfrey’s downtown yesterday on Grace St., didn’t see it open.  There have been a couple on the trendy, funky “uptown” section of Cary Street, beyond “Boulevard” (I think they were Lucy’s and Babe’s).  You can never find a place to park in the area.

In Norfolk and Virginia Beach there are a few, such as the Garage, in downtown Norfolk, on Granby St. 

You expect it, with all the sailors.  But the city itself (which at one time was Virginia’s largest) is flat, sprawling, low-rise, and for my money rather unattractive.  It has the only free tunnel access that I’m aware of (no, you don’t need EZ-pass to drive the long bridge-tunnel on I-64, and Friday a man had a flat inside the tunnel).

I didn't find any gay bars or restaurants listed for Williamsburg.  But given the progress on the William and Mary campus since the late 1980s (with the group William and Mary GALA -- see Oct. 23, 2011), it would seem that thew support could be there. 

There’s a link on Virginia’s liquor laws, here

Also, below, note the  historic Byrd Theater on Cary St, Richmond (Nov., 2010);

Friday, August 24, 2012

Family Equality Council sponsors "Families in the Desert" event in Palm Springs

A group calling itself the Family Equality Council (what does that remind us of?) is holding a retreat soon in Palm Springs, CA called “Families in the Desert”, announcement link here

Is this an event where you have to be “married” and a (gay) parent to be welcome?

The group sent an announcement email today.

The website has a parked domain ripoff with a “.com” name with just some links.

I was in the Springs recently (in May) but had a more substantial visit in the winter of 2002. 

Picture (above):  Could gay families settle on a terraformed Mars?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Library of Congress discrimination case seems unusual in federal employment today

To my knowledge, overt discrimination in federal civilian employment (even DOD agencies) has been rare for a few decades, and in 1973 the Civil Service Commission promulgated rules banning discrimination in the federal civilian workplace for sexual orientation.  Security clearances may have remained an ambiguous issue, until well into the 1990s when the Clinton administration passed another rule.

However, the Library of Congress in Washington has a case where a gay man, Peter  TerVeer,  alleges that he was harassed by a  supervisor, John Mech, who TerVeer says proselytized his fatih and harassed him with “religious-based homophobia” in the workplace, particularly after introducing his daughter to him at a college football game, and after his daughter then noticed that TerVeer had entered a Facebook “Like” on a page supporting gay marriage and parenthood (“”).  This seems to be the second time in recent weeks that there were employment-related consequences for merely entering a Facebook “Like”.

The link for the story (on the “Federal Worker” page B4 of the Washington Post, August 23), by Lisa Rein, is here

VanTeer was fired after missing work.  He has filed a lawsuit in federal district court.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

What bothers social conservatives? The threat to passion in their own marriages

Once again, the Washington Times opinion page goes on a non-rational rant, this time by Matio Diaz,
“Democrats continue to beat up Christians: Homosexual agenda on national display”, link

Of course, he offers no logic as to how the freedom of gays to marry (partners of choice) undermines heterosexual marriages.  And he seems to play the persecution card, as if not being allowed to demand expropriation from others not of your faith was itself oppression. It sounds like group-think in a conservative paper.

A recently widely syndicated column by Carolyn Hax in the rival Washington Post, Aug. 15, may give a clue as to what bothers straight marriage. The column was titled “Married young, and his idea of passion has passed”, link

While we would all admire a passionless couple that stays together to raise the kids that they “chose” to have (and well they should), that may miss an important point.  It’s hard to maintain passion for the same person for decades while the person ages and deteriorates physically, unless you have been socialized into meeting the real needs of others; and it may be hard for some people if you don’t think everyone else has to do the same thing.  But of course, the same observation could turn out to be true for same-sex marriage.  But complementarity (as the Vatican sees it) doesn’t seem to keep couples together if they don’t see others around them socialized by the same goals.

In fact, an important part of parental training early in life is “socialization” – learning when it’s “about you” and when it isn’t.  But the “range” of your social bearing – the circles of communities around you, keep changing, as do the moral validity of their collective goals.  You don’t like to be put on teams not of your choice, but that’s what the religious right wants to keep the authority to do. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Town DC has "Little Tokyo" party; mid-August crowd seems strong

Saturday night, Town DC held a “Little Tokyo” party upstairs, with quite a bit of décor, and some unusual masks and laser shows from the (Apple MacIntosh) DJ stand (from Kidd Madonny). The music also had a dissonant horn call that resembles the horn blasts at Nationals Park when the Nats score.  

It’s hard for an “amateur” to judge crowd size, but this August it would appear that a lot of people did NOT head for Rehoboth or the other beaches.  (Maybe the mountains, like I just did, or even MoTown, which I also did.)

The “Bridesmaids” (from the 2011 Universal comedy) were present, although they disappeared into the crowd.  So were plenty of special lights, and at least one holographic shirt (I don’t think the chest that lies beneath matters).

 Parking there remains easy early Sat. night (10:30 PM);  I have encountered difficulty parking on Fridays before.  

This was the first weekend without excessive heat, as the outdoor temperature was in the lower 70s.  Plenty of Old Navy shorts anyway, however.  Panic over "West Nile" hasn't reached DC yet. I can see it coming, though: I used to live in Dallas.  Down there, they have to wear long pants in July.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Facts about incident at Family Research Council in DC are disturbing

The best evidence so far seems to be that Floyd Corkins, 28, from Herndon VA, intended an attack on the facility in downtown Washington DC of the Family Research Council at least partly because of its positions on gay issues (specifically, perhaps, gay marriage), and that he had volunteered for a gay organization.  This is obviously a most disturbing incident. In forty-plus years of my involvement with and following the “gay rights” (to use the term loosely), I don’t think anything like this has ever happened.

WJLA (ABC affiliate in Arlington VA/Washington DC) has a story on the security guard, Leo Johnson, who got shot preventing the attack, details (wesbite url) here

Corkins allegedly told the guard that this was not personal, it was about “policy”.  That is, a security guard  -- doing his job -- is like a soldier in combat, according to his “reasoning”.

I’ve actually never been employed by a political party, pressure group, lobbying group, or any similar organization.  I’ve had the luxury of leading a “separate life”.  But yes, I can imagine having worked for SLDN or CATO.

The Washington Blade has a story about  Corkins’s “volunteering”, (website url) here

Corkins apparently had a number of “Chick Fil A” sandwiches in his backpack.

I’ve gone into the history of “equality” as a “policy” question, from a personal perspective, before.  “Discrimination” in employment and housing, and prevention of hate crimes, used to be the main focus of “gay rights” (as well as overturning sodomy laws).  There was a feeling, in my experience, that the main emphasis was on privacy and on being able to lead my own life on my own terms. 

“Equality” sounds like an abstract concept.  But both “gay marriage” and “gays in the military” have to deal with the capacity to take the same responsibilities and share the same risks and psychological challenges (maintaining emotional commitments in long term, polarized or “complementarity-based” relationships capable of supporting others and particularly raising children) as “everyone else”.  Without “equality”, one’s own life can be fair game for disruption, expropriation or forced sacrifice to meet the more compelling “needs” of others.  It comes down to a kind of psychological socialism.

Social conservatism (including that preached by the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and similar groups) does indeed point out that many people find the idea of committed relationships with others based on complementarity a difficult and easily interrupted challenge (especially when others don’t “pay their dues”).  But why so much focus on a format that emphasizes procreation?

I won't get into the mudslinging or muckraking, but Huffington has a story on Southern Poverty Law Center v. Family Research Council, here

Picture: "Chick fil A" booth on Ballston Common, lower level, in Arlington.  The booth is small compared to that of other nearby eateries, and I have never noticed it before, until all the controversy.  Many larger restaurants, other shops, and Regal Cinemas are on the upper levels, and a Metro stop is nearby.  

Update: Aug. 30

An article by Lou Chibbaro, Jr. in the Aug. 24, 2012 Washington Blade reports that the Family Research Council is still a "federal charity" program, link here

Sean Bugg has an interesting perspective on p. 19 of the Aug. 23 Metro Weekly, "Mainstreaming hate", critical of the positions taken by Dana Milbank, Bugg's column here

On Aug. 16, Dana Milbank had written in the Washington Post, "Hateful speech on hate groups: The Family Research Council is no KKK", here

Nevertheless, in the past, the FRC's allusions have been more or less of the ilk of Anita Bryant and "Save out Children" back in 1977, which I remember all too well.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Don't forget the Merchant Marine Academy

I had intended a quick photo visit to the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Long Island, New York (on the north short, not far from the Queens borough line) on a recent trip, but found the idea of traffic from the other side of the area through the maze of freeways too dangerous.

The Merchant Marine Academy received little attention during the “don’t ask don’t tell” period, but technically the policy applied, because graduates could conceivably be impressed into naval service (and indirectly a few were during the Iraq war).

During the soap opera “Days of our Lives” a few years ago, one of the characters (Sean) was going to join the Merchant Marine.  But it remains relatively obscure.

I’ve also noticed, since the repeal of DADT, that the Service Academies Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association Network has pretty much disbanded the content of its website (link).

Wikipedia attribution link for Merchant Marine aerial shot. 

Second picture, from Dobbs Ferry, NY, as close as I got during this past trip  (home of a famous entrepreneur). 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blade carries op-ed on Bradley Manning as role model

Philip Fornaci has an op-ed in the Washington Blade this week on Bradley Manning as a “role model”, and of the Obama military’s use of “extreme rendition”, some of it sexually based, to try to get more information from him about Wikileaks.  The editorial mentions the 38 minute film “Collateral Murder” in which the Army is shown killing Iraq civilians, supposedly provided by Manning (on my cf blog April 7, 2010). It also mentions a PBS Frontline biography of Manning on my TV blog April 7, 2010.

The link for the Blade piece is here.

The case sounds like one that could give opponents of the repeal of DADT some ammunition. 

In a speech Sunday night (today) President Obama said "We did the right thing ending 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.  We're moving forward, not backwards.... Everyone who works hard gets a shot ... We are all in this together, we are not just on our own." 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Army appoints first openly gay general

CNN is reporting the US Army’s appointment of Brig. General Tammy Smith, 49, as the US military’s first openly gay officer at the general (or admiral) level.  The story is here.

Leo Shane, in a story in Stars and Stripes, also notes that Gen. Smith did not announce her sexual orientation until Friday, link here.  

Smith’s wife is a cofounder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition (link)

The appointment should, in psychological terms, help bake in the repeal of DADT should there ever be any future challenge, especially from a GOP president or Congress. 

Picture:  Me, last night, at Cobalt. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gay couples face new pressure to raise children

Here’s an interesting front page story from the New York Times today, Friday, August 10, 2012, by Rachel L. Swarns, “Male couples face pressure to fill cradles”; online the link is called “gay couples face pressure to have children”.  (The “cradle” word reminds me of Phillip Longman’s book, “The Empty Cradle”.) The link is here.

The methods include both adoption and surrogate parenting, both of which are costly.  In Utah and Mississippi, it’s still illegal for gay couples to adopt, and legal battles over adoption by gays have been fought in other states, especially Florida and Arkansas.

One question that comes to mind is, what happens when a gay couple with adopted children moves to one of these states because of job transfer?

Marriage equality certainly relates to the ability to adopt (and to protect the children from discrimination), just as it protects dependent or surviving spouses. 

But the paradigm of debate has come a long way since, say, the 1970s, when gay men, particularly, just wanted to be left alone to lead their own lives. The “privacy” arguments were starting to take hold then, especially in larger cities.  There was a sense of living on another planet (in “urban exile”), and then paying attention to the (interpersonal) situations of your own life, lived within your own culture, which would develop its own separate norms of expected behaviors.

But the “gay world” would start becoming reconnected to the larger world for many reasons.  In the 1980s, the AIDS crisis erupted.  As it became more manageable, real equality questions surfaced in the 90s – both the capacity to serve openly in the military (the battle over “don’t ask don’t tell”) and then marriage, and then parenting. There was a change in perspective, replacing the old ideas about disposable income with a newer one that equal rights ought to imply equal responsibilities and equal willingness to share risk and sacrifice (especially relevant to military and similar service).  And today, notions of “sustainability” have generated the idea that people ought to have personal stakes in the future, a notion called “generativity”.

Marriage equality matters even to people not in "marriages".  There is an expectation, re-emerging in our culture, that extended families should take care of themselves; extended lifespans mean that adult children, including the unmarried and childless, have to take care of their parents (as with the recent attention to filial responsibility laws in some states), and people are often expected to provide role models or even parenting service to siblings' children (especially after tragedies).  No one wants to wind up "family slave" today. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Actor in important gay film "attacked" in Montana; another attack in DC; strangebedffellows in MD marriage referendum; LATER: a "hoax" in MT?

An actor who had performed in the indie gay film “Judas Kiss” (Wolfe video, reviewed on my movies blog June 4, 2012) was (reportedly) attacked outside a bar in Missoula Montana early Sunday morning, according to a link provided by the film’s Facebook site, link here

A Montana newspaper, the Missoulian, also reported the incident  (website url) here. (But see the update later on this posting, at the bottom.)

In late July, a gay male couple was attacked in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington DC after getting out of a limousine near their home, WJLA story here. A rally was held in NE DC over the incident today Aug. 9.

Also, today, media reports indicate that gay marriage proponents do not relish seeing an anti-casino referendum  proposal on the ballot in Maryland in November, because it could draw out more socially conservative voters.  Right now, it appears that supporters of gay marriage in Maryland may have a slight lead.  But an increase in turnout over another issue could tip the scales.  This is one case where a “libertarian” position on gay rights carries the day. 

Update: Later today:  Montana attack a hoax?

Well, I spend a lot of time chasing these stories down, and now I read on MSNBC (moments ago) that the supposed attack on Joseph Baken from Billings, MT was a hoax, and that he injured himself with a stunt, and has been charged with filing a false police report.  Here is the MSNBC story link.

I guess you don't believe every "news" story that shows up in your personalized wall on Facebook. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Road Trip: A tale of three cities (Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland)

I made a tour through some eastern Great Lakes cities, partly for business reasons.  On Friday night, in Indianapolis, I found a place called Gregs, on 16th St, slightly east of Meridian (north of the monument square about two miles), in an older but attractive street, plenty of parking right on the street.  Inside, I found the main bar packed;  one person from the classical music world (maybe connected to Indiana University) recognized me.  The dance floor is small and the music varied.  It started with country-western and switched to Lady Gagy or Kelly Clarkson.  The CW dancing was more intimate than it is at Remington’s in DC, and the atmosphere was a bit like that of the Roundup in Dallas. 

I had tried to stop by the Unicorn on 13th St, and could not tell where I could park or even if it was open. The neighborhood around it wasn’t so good.

I was checking up on Indianapolis to see what it was like forty-plus years after part of my first employment experience there.  The old RCA plant on Meridian and 30th is now replaced by a Children's Museum.

In fact, on Friday afternoon, I had also passed through Bloomington, and done a quick tour of Indiana University, famous in part for its music conservatory as well as health sciences.  There is a Lesbian and Gay Services Center on one of the main campus streets. 

Saturday night, I was in Detroit, staying in the “safety” of the Airport area of Romulus.  It was a twenty-mile drive on a dangerous freeway system in a t-storm to find the Club Gold Coast on Seven Mile Road.  The neighborhood around it looked awful.  A few blocks away, as I turned around on a neighboring street, a stray cat approached, like she wanted me just to take her home as mine.  It was the best experience of the evening.  I drove westbound on Seven Mile Road and found the tiny valet lot impossible to even get in to.  (Apparently the business has an arrangement to use nearby retail spaces at night.)  I wasn’t going to risk leaving it on the street.

The bar has varied reviews on line. There is a lot of discussion  of gogo dancers (I guess you can “touch” for a tip), and one reviewer mentioned optional clothing.  Some of the reviews venture off onto what went wrong with Detroit – much of which is an empty shell – greed on the part of both the labor unions and the auto companies did it in. Ask Miichael Moore! (He is from Michigan.)  Actually, the area around the bar doesn’t have a lot of vacant lots; the businesses just look run down, third-world-like.  Eight mile road actually has some decent looking older 40s-style houses. The only website for the bar seems to be an outdated Myspace page.

Check this account on the Gold Coast (which used to be the name of a trendy neighborhood in the Motor City) on Blogger, and note the varied, politicized comments, link

Sunday night, I was in Cleveland, staying around the Playhouse area on Euclid (which itself looked pretty “gay” as a neighborhood.)  Some of the bars are on Detroit Avenue, which is the eastbound extension of Superior Ave as it crosses the Veterans Bridge over the flats leaving Public Square (the Terminal Tower had been an annual summer destination during boyhood summers on an Ohio farm in the 50s – they were wonderful).  The bars are pretty close to the bridge.  I found the “Bounce” which on Sunday night seemed to have mostly women.  
Then across the street I found “Man’s World” and “The Shed”, which appeared to be leather during busier hours. 
For all the talk about the decline of Cleveland, it looked like some of the steel mills were still running – you could seem them in the flats and found I-71.

Cleveland, while geographically quite far East, seems like a prototypical Midwestern city, with a showplace downtown, and a political climate that mixes the extreme left and extreme right in a curiously tolerant brew.

At least, it's good to be back from a road trip.  The baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, lost all nine games on a trip they finished, including a meltdown in Detroit before my eyes having dinner in a sports bar.  

The Oberlin area, during my boyhood, was “home number 2” after northern Virginia.  The baseball Indians were good then (we went to games in the old Municipal Stadium, "the mistake by the Lake") when the Senators were bad.  How the tables have turned.  

Monday, August 06, 2012

Boy Scouts has problems keeping abusers off its roles (AP, LAT)

Despite re-iterating publicly a well-publicized ban on gays as members or volunteers (not sure about organizational employees – the BSA used to show up at jobs fairs), the Boy Scouts of America has been accused oa allowing suspected “abusers” on its roles, perhaps out of carelessness.  It has an internal “blacklist”, according to this (website url) story on WJLA. 

The story is based on a Los Angeles Times review of cases and also AP sources.  

I can recall, when I was in the Army and assigned "stateside" in the late 60s, a lot of pressure on junior officers to participate in BSA.

The Washington Times has a distantly related op-ed Monday (P. B3) by Robert Knight, "Liberals' war on Boy Scouts, Chick-Fil-A", and it appears that he does believe it is appropriate to "coerce" people into "normal" gender roles. and thinks it's morally wrong for women to refuse to become wives and mothers in the unusual sense. In fact, he doesn't think adults have the right to "reject" others for their own reasons. The link is here

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Lance Bass talks about anti-gay attitudes in small town South on HLN

Lance Bass, openly gay former ‘Nsync singer, talked about growing up gay in conservative Mississippi today on HLN.  Bass is producing the film “Mississippi I Am”.

It is still a bit of a paradox – our bizarre double standards of morality and behavior.  As in my case, young men grow up being taught that homosexuality is a more unspeakable crime than unfaithfulness or even conventional crimes about people – as we hear today about Uganda, where representatives recently attended the AIDS conference.  There is a tendency to regard homosexuality as a violation of the “family” as a social unit – of the perceived vicarious immortality of the parents through lineage.  When kids are growing up, “socialization” and fitting in is a more pressing concern than adult ideas of personal responsibility.

There is a review of Lance Bass’s “Out of Sync” on my Books Blog Nov. 2, 2007.

Why, until recently at least, have we tolerated double standards on bullying.

Greg Louganis (“Breaking the Surface”) has also discussed his background and long-term survival on NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

Friday, August 03, 2012

NYC female couple able to get both names on rent-controlled lease

Lambda Legal reports that Regina Hawkins-Balducci has won the ability to put her wife’s name on the lease of a New York City rent-stabilized apartment, in the story on Huffington, also based on reports from the New York Daily News, link here
The landlord of property company, DSA Management, had refused to add her partner’s name, even though the couple had been legally wed according to New York law in January.

The company had denied that sexual orientation had anything to do with its previous actions.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg had spoken passionately for equality at last October’s HRC Equality Dinner.