Friday, December 26, 2014

Asylum granted to man from Guatemala, as Central American violence continues

A judge granted asylum to a man from Guatemala, after reports of gang repots and a long complicated history, transiting through Mexico.  The Washington Blade has a detailed story of the case of Milton Amezquita-Guzman, 27, who now has the support of at least one relative in Washington DC, according to the story, link here .
The Blade story gives disturbing anecdotes of various other activities, such as transsexual sex workers along the border from Central America, some forced to participate in the drug trade.  During my years living in Dallas in the 1980s, I never heard anything about this.

Conditions in Guatemala are not said to be as dangerous as in El Salvador or Honduras.  Faith groups known to me in some detail have sponsored missions or engineering projects (or even youth trips) in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize.

Numerous cases of LGBT asylum have been reported in the press this year, but no one seems to have a clear handle on how this issue is playing out.  It sounds like a potential subject for a book or a documentary film, at least a POV on PBS.  There have been some documentaries about the enormous problems in Russia.

Asylum (for LGBT and other reasons) is a low-key issue in the press, compared to 1980 when calls went out for private sponsors for Cuban refugees (Dec. 18), especially in southern states.  As for policy, it is obviously very sensitive and gets little open discussion.

One "obvious" question could occur in many jurisdictions (including MD, DC and VA, where same-sex marriage is legal (very recently in VA), should someone marry a person from another country so that second person can stay in the country, if the person is otherwise not interested in a romantic relationship?  What if the immigrant has children?  There seem to be potentially major double-sided moral questions here that have hardly been looked at all in the LGBT community yet. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Central America map. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

DC is getting pricey for most LGBT residents, except the most politically connected

Mark Lee has a perspective in the Washington Blade, “D.C. Doesn’t Shine for Everyone”, here mainly because of the rapid rise in the cost of living. 

Rents in the best areas are a bit like Manhattan.  The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC built an apartment building, the Drake, on 17th St, on its former parking lot – to pay for its new organ.  The apartments are cute in the way they are laid out, and have all modern amenities, and the building is very secure.  But a one bedroom, maybe 700 sq feet, is about $3000 a month.  In Arlington, you can rent a house typically for about $2500.  It’s common for younger professionals to rent a house with three or four roommates together. 

The gentrification of the U Street area, and the Navy Yard near Nationals Park, has driven up prices, and driven out low income people, leaving tensions and some street crime in many areas.  Northeast is next for re-development.  Condos are going up along New York Avenue, and around the area where the Eagle has moved.  The city could try to get the Olympics in 2024;  imagine what that means. 
Other cities:  places that don’t recognized gay marriage generally are much cheaper.  That should tell you something. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FDA finally proposes lifting gay male blood donation ban -- for men abstinent for a year; couples don't count

The FDA has announced that it will allow MSM to donate blood (and probably organs or other issue posthumously) but only after at least one year of abstinence. 
NBC News has the story here.   The text of the FDA announcement is here
The main people who would be able to donate are probably elderly gay men who may be abstinent in practice.  The move is said to increase the blood supply by 4%, but the restriction to long term abstinence will reduce the benefit.
Apparently couples who can affirm they are monogamous for a year and test negative still would not be able to give.
Culture has changed, as openness to even organ donations is much stronger than when I was a young man.  Back in the late 1970s, a bank in Dallas enclosed “become a superdonor” literature in bank statements, as blood banks tried increase plasma supplies.

Update: Dec. 24

Christmas Eve, WJLA in Washington DC showed a disabled young woman "giving back" at a blood donation center.  I still wondered about this idea of volunteerism in an area of life and common "sacrifice" where "we" still aren't fully welcome. Back in the 90s, it would be embarrassing to have to "just say no" to corporate blood drives, to stay away from the bloodmobile.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Obama's deal on Cuba said to be good for LGBT people there, but remember the refugee crisis of 1980

The Washington Blade, in an article by Michael D. Lavers, reports that LGBT activists in Cuba welcome the improvement in relations between the US and Cuba, given President Obama’s deal to release some US Cuban prisoners in exchange for a hostage.  The story is here.  

Some conservatives have responded by suggesting that the deal could encourage more hostage taking of visitors to dictatorial countries.  Imagine a prominent LGBT visitor (maybe a journalist) being kidnapped while working in Russia.
Back in the latter part of 1980, there was an influx of Cuban refugees by boat to South Florida, and many were LGBT.  There was a lot of “pressure” in gay churches (such as Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas at the time, when Don Eastman was pastor) to personally sponsor and house refugees.  This has not happened in 2014 with the immigration and asylum “crisis”, which can include LGBT people from Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, etc., although there has been “underground” talk in some forums, such as at the DC LGBT Community Center.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A full Civil Rights bill for LGBT people?; IOC adds protection of LGBT people to Principle 6 of Olympic Charter

The New York Times has a feature story by Cheryl Gay Stroberg on proposals for a sweeping Civil Rights bill in the US for LGBT people, analogous to the 1964 Civil Rights Act for African Americans. HRC emailed the story Tuesday.
The article does give detailed accounts of pockets of discrimination despite the lifting of “don’t ask don’ tell” for gays in the military in 2011 (does not protect transgender), and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 35 states and Washington DC, as well as the beginnings of laws to outlaw reparative therapy for minors in a few states, and proposals to alter the blood donation ban for MSM.  In one case, credit was denied a female-to-male person after the name change because credit history under the new name did not exist.  In other, a fast food worker in South Dakota was asked to wear a “scarlet letter” saying he was gay at work. 
At the same time, Rock Santorum talks about running for president in 2016.  And his 2005 book is titled “It Takes a Family”. 


I see from the twitter feed of Timo Descamps that the International Olympic Committee has announced it will change Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to protect LGBT athletes, link here

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Washington DC council passes bill banning reparative therapy for under 18

The City Council of Washington DC has passed a bill banning reparative or conversion therapy for those under 18, which would join New York and California as states which ban the practice.  A typical story, from the New Civil Rights Movement, is here.  

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) says it aims to eliminate all reparative therapy within the US within 5 years.

Some time back, Anderson Cooper on C360 had reported on the “Sissy Boy Experiment”
Two of three therapists that I had in the early 1960s practiced in DC, the other in Arlington.  It's amazing how little critical thinking there was in those days.  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

GLIL gathers at old bar in DC, now serving food; curious story about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman mentioned

I did find a nice gathering of GLIL, the remnant from “Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty” (I don’t mean guilty remnant from “The Leftovers”) at Windows, the upstairs bar just below R St on 17th in Washington DC, about the Dupont Italian Kitchen.
The place actually serves hamburgers and fries on Monday and Tuesday nights.
We did have some conversations about Ferguson, and there was a feeling that the actual evidence that Brown was indeed very aggressive at first is overwhelming.  There was also an interpretation of Trayvon Martin that I have never heard, that he attacked George Zimmerman because he thought George, “following him around”, was a “gay rapist”, story here.  It’s true, that is how some men interpret being “watched”.  The film “OC87”, reviewed on the Movies blog Nov. 22, 2014;  OCD behavior can set up this kind of possibly deadly confrontation. 
The Level One (discussed Nov. 29) and Cobalt, across the street, appeared to be operating completely normally. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

World AIDS Day 2014

Vox Media honors World AIDS Day 2014 (theme) with an interesting perspective, that while HIV/AIDS deaths are declining worldwide, they are on the rise in Russia, story by German Lopez, here  One big reason, Russia is “notoriously anti-gay”.
I can recall, around 1984, the prognosis, that the number of cases doubled every six months.  A geometric progression in an epidemic like this couldn’t be tolerated very long.  That leveled off in the late 1980s and eventually declined.  And now many relatively affluent people do live (and go to work)for decades on medications, which gradually for most men have come to have fewer side effects, although they are expensive.  You don’t hear much discussion about the cost of protease inhibitors in the debate over Obamacare.
My own sense is that among younger men (under 30) whom I do know or recognize, most are still uninfected.
Vox has been reporting that the FDA may be close to lifting the blood donor ban, for men that will stop having sex, that is.

CNN offers a perspective by Barbara Lee and Kenneth Cole, with a little pitch by Prince Harry, here. 
And there may be more on a new vaccine soon. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Transgendered person alleges assault in popular DC club-restaurant when it wasn't yet supposed to be open, on Thanksgiving Day

A transgendered woman reports being assaulted in the lavatory of a popular restaurant at 17th and R Sts NW in Washington DC early Thanksgiving evening.  The establishment is called “Level One”, and it constitutes the first level of the Cobalt 30 Degrees and disco above.  One enters the bar through the first floor, most of which is the restaurant.  I have often eaten there.  The Level One is accessed through the Cobalt website here
The news story appeared on NBC Washington, Channel 4, Friday, link here.  It is critical to note that management says that the time of the reported attack (before 7 PM Thanksgiving Day) occurred before the restaurant was open, which was later than usual because of the holiday.  Few employees were present.  As a matter of logic (however bizarre and unlikely), it would sound conceivable that someone could have broken in before the club was open.  It isn’t clear from the news story if the victim, as self-reported to police, should have been on the premises herself at the time. It's logical to question whether the alleged attack even occurred at all, at this point. Likewise, ask if the victim could somehow have named the wrong place.  
The story also appeared on WJLA7 this evening.  There is no story on WJLA's website yet (WJLA did not mention the name of the establishment, but NBC4 did) and I don’t see it on the Washington Blade as of midnight Friday. Nor do I see it on the Metro Weekly. It was not reported earlier on NBC4 today, as I watched most of it during dinner.
Cobalt is defending class-action litigation regarding employee compensation and tips, best explained in a Washington Blade article by Lou Chibbaro, Jr. Sept. 10, 2014, here

The “gay bar business” has always been “risky”, but over many decades one of the most enterprising was Frank Caven in Dallas, who has owned clubs all over the country, as explained in the Dallas Voice, here  He owned JR’s and the Village Station when I lived in Dallas in the 80s.  The Village Station eventually became the Station 4, one of the largest gay discos in the country in floor space.

Any incident in a bar is very serious for the business, because, as for example, in Washington DC that usually results in 96-hour closure and often loss of liquor license, with a fight to reclaim it.  Loss of license has occurred because of incidents very near a property when caused by customers and not management.  It may occur without just cause.  It is less clear what happens if it results from an intruder when the place is not supposed to be open. 

The Blade will surely have more details soon.
I’ve seen “incidents” in bars only twice, once in Wailuku, Hawaii in 1980, and in London, England in 1982.  After fights started, I simply left quickly.  Fights are much more common “proportionally” in straight bars (like in the short film “Last Shot”, in DC Shorts, mentioned here on the movies blog Sept. 14). 

Update: Dec. 6

The Washington Blade, on Dec 5 , page 6, has a story by Lou Chibbaro Jr., "Assault of trans woman didn't happen at Cobalt: source", link here

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The biology of heterosexual desire and "family behavior" implies a lot about immutability of sexual orientation

Louann Brizendene has a detailed op-ed on CNN, “Love, sex and the male brain”, here. She makes a lot of blunt observations.  During the teen years, men’s testosterone level rises 20-fold, causing them to “notice” female body parts and desire their reproductive potential.  But once a man has a pregnant partner, pheromones from her cause his testosterone levels to drop so that he will become more domesticated and help build the nest.

What happens if he is in a household with a pregnant woman with someone else’s child?   (Is that why Sonny loses his chest hair on “Days of our Lives” when living with Will and Gabi, and their biological daughter?  Remember, Sonny delivered the daughter in an emergency. Now that Will is gone for a while in LA, Sonny’s chest hair grew back.)

What happens to professional baseball and football players if their testosterone levels drop during a domestic cycle?  Does that help explain losing streaks?

Normally, in the past, most gay men did not have pregnant female partners to develop the testosterone loss – an observation that the Family Research Council cited in opposing gay marriage.
With things explains so biologically in this article, what does happen in the development of gay men? 

Also, boys differentiate in strength and athletic performance even before teen years, before the hormone levels shoot up. 
Further, girls mature biologically sooner than boys.  But what happens with lesbians? 

It seems that hormonal development is indeed biological, yet the purposes one attaches it to can be personally chosen, and can reflect many other prejudices.  

 Second picture: the aliens spaceships from my novel "Angel's Brother".  A movie maybe? 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Former Navy Seal Kristin Beck speaks to Arlington Gay Alliance about transgender ban, and national security

This evening I went to a Thanksgiving potluck held in the auditorium at the Central Library in Arlington VA, held by AGLA, the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and listened to transgendered former Navy Seal Kristin Beck speak.  I apologize for having to leave a bit early to go to another event in northern VA at Tyson’s Corner. 

I see I have a report of an interview by Anderson Cooper of Kristin here on June 15, 2013 on the TV blog. I have a review of the CNN film “Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story" on the movie reviews blog Sept. 4, 2014.  (I had to correct the first name spelling to end in “in” just now; my apologies.) 

It’s well to remember that the lifting of “don’t ask don’t tell” did not affect the ban on transgendered individuals from the military, as covered on Scott Peck’ radio program way back in 1993 when he interviewed a former enlisted person in Naval Intelligence who left the uniformed services with the sex change but got a similar job as a civilian.

Kristin talked about the absolute standards of fitness in the Navy Seal program, and actually transgender identity did not interfere with that.  Kristin talked about Alan Turning (in the upcoming film “The Imitation Game”).

Kristin also talked about difficulties with the publisher of her book, titled “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy Seal’s Journey to Coming Out Transgender”, the publisher being Advances Press, which she said controls the rights to her book.  (Apparently that did not interfere with CNN’s making the film.) I went to Amazon, and found it a bit pricey in hardcover and paper, with a long waiting period for paper.  It’s also on Kindle.  But I went ahead and ordered the hardcover just now and gave her some business.

There was a book exchange for the Library ("it's free") at the potluck.  See my contribution. It's in good company. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pope Francis seems to backtrack on equality for LGBT people, as he talks about complimentarity as anthropological fact

Pope Francis seemed to backtrack a bit on what had sounded like very supportive statements for LGBT people a few weeks ago.  The Independent (from the UK) is reporting that the Pope, at a three-day conference on the family at the Vatican, spoke about heterosexual marriage, with its biological complementarity, as an “anthropological fact” that is quite permanent and that should not be disregarded by “temporary” trends in history.  The link to the story by Adam Withnall is here
The Pope also said that children have a right to grow up in homes with a mother and father.  The logical problem is, of course, what happens to an orphan when that isn’t available?  Russia is removing children from homes of gay couples, and yet in Russia most children who grow up in orphanages become criminal.   Is “Will and Sonny” preferable to no family at all?  No one seems to tackle this question. You can also extend the question to singles’ adoption, of course.
The Pope also said that people are giving up on marriage as a public commitment.  Did he mean just heterosexuals?  He also talked about increased personal freedom along with the lessening of expectation of people marrying and having children, but the indirect result has been felt among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
The “marriage equality” question tests logic, and mathematics is rather relentless regardless of what universe you live in.  If gay couples have less legal standing and are particularly discouraged from parenthood (especially adoption), then they will tend to have less responsibility for others – until they face their own eldercare obligations (which is what happened to me).  If they become prosperous and spend their resources on themselves instead of raising children, they will tend to contribute to increasing inequality, which strains social stability, even to the point of becoming a national or societal security issue.  But of course, we can say the same thing about economic schism among families – Michael Moore’s “I’ve got mine” thing. 

In the video clip from Oct 2013, the Pope said to married couples, “You must ‘waste time’ with their children, so they can realize that love is always free.”  Oh, here we go, “It’s free.”  Where have I heard that before?  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blood donation policy committee recommends lifting automatic MSM ban for one year abstinence period

The U.S. Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety has voted 16 to 2 to end its 31-year policy on accepting blood or tissue donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM) since 1977.  The new guidelines would be predicated on a one-year period of abstinence as well as negative tests.  A story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr. in the Washington Blade Nov. 14 is here.   The story has an odd picture of a hairless forearm with intrusive tape.
It’s not clear if this could apply to plasma donations (such as if someone had recovered from Ebola).  It does not appear that participation in a gay marriage arrangement would matter if abstinence had not been practiced for one year.
When I was working for USLICO in the 1990s, in Arlington, which specialized in life insurance for military officers, I was embarrassed when approached about blood donation drives by an insensitive coworker running the recruitment.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Blade reports the gay angle of the Georgetown ricin case -- and it is double-edged; also, a valuable disco souvenir

As I was leaving Town Danceboutique in the wee hours this AM after very lively disco night given the cold wave (which was not as pronounced in town as “out here”) I picked up a Washington Blade and was shocked to see the story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.  (link )about the sentencing of former Georgetown Student Danny Milzman to a year and a day in prison, and 400 hours of community service tutoring disadvantaged youths in math – the later sounding like a provision that could help him return to college some day.
Dr. Phil is always saying that even at 19 the brain is not fully formed to see around corners.
I was not aware that Milzman is gay, nor that Thomas Lloyd, the resident assistant who called university police after clumsy emergency response from the University’s on-call counseling services, is president of GU Pride.  Lloyd tells his story in detail in the Hoya here  and the story of the sentencing is here.  For both stories, the reactions in readers’ comments is interesting.  Lloyd's own potential legal issues are also disturbing (as he describes him);  I didn't realize resident assistants are "employees" and make enough money to pay for most of their expenses.  But that position means he would have a "conflict of interest" in speaking about any campus issue in social media.  
I find it rather shocking that someone could easily make a lethal toxin easily from a common vegetable product (castor "beans").  I would personally wonder how real the medical threat really had been.  I think back over some movies about Putin and the use of polonium – the first association in my mind.   Of course, that's a totally different substance which is hard to get a hold of. Still the idea of a connection between a gay student and what is depicted as potential bioterror or chemical weapon is startling. 
As for the dance, someone inserted a fluorescent pipe down my chest at the dance (that is, I was in the "got it" count).  When I got home, I found that the item made an interesting “skyscraper” for the “Chinese city” portion of my model railroad display.  You could turn off the lights and it was the only light in the living room.  Still, you can’t see it very well from another part of the display (of a fictitious alien colony on another planet) where the “abductees” (call the "The Proles") live. 

The Town did not open its new Patio last night.  But it really wasn’t that cold. 
Note: the second picture is the view of Georgetown I always got in the 1960s crossing Key Bridge on a bus (pre-Metro days) to go to George Washington University, after my 1961 expulsion from William and Mary for admitting "latent homosexuality".  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Elaine Donnelly still on warpath regarding gender in the military

Think Progress has an important story, by Josh Israel. back in May 2014 about Elaine Donnelly, “The woman who has never stopped fighting to keep LGBT Americans out of the military,” link here. The article calls her a “Phyllis Schlafly Protégé”.   She is “credited” now with keeping the trans-gender ban alive.  But seriously, I am concerned that a GOP rout in Congress, and especially in 2016, could lead to the undoing of all we accomplished with the repeal of DADT in 2010 and 2011. 
The Washington Times has published a piece by Donnelly opposing “forcing women into combat”, here (she can characterize it as a “war on women”).  The fact that most men (including most gay men) have more upper body strength than most women (including most lesbians) seems indisputable, and formed an underpinning of the “moral climate” when I was growing up – men were supposed to take the risks to protect women and children, and all that became very double edged in my own mind.  The superior upper body strength applies even with relatively low body weight;  one does not need the mass of a football lineman to be “strong” (just look at some MLB pitchers for examples). 
Today, TWT published a bizarre story (by Rowan Scarborough) of Lt. Col. Christopher Downey, supposedly being disciplined with interfering with a PDA between two lesbian military members in a bar, and for interfering with someone else trying to photograph them, link here. The incidents seem to have happened around Ft. Drum, NY.  Photography in discos has become more nettlesome in the past few years because of social media concerns, as discussed here before. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marriage equality in the Palmetto State, where I took Army Basic in 1968

A federal judge has struck down the gay marriage ban in South Carolina.  The Charlotte Observer story is here.  The judge is Richard Gergel (the court is in Rhett Butler's Charleston).  The text of the opinion is here. The case sounds like an important “win” in the deep South, but the 4th Circuit had already ruled on this before.
While many of the arguments are based on equal protection, as that concept mixes with due process and the notion of fundamental rights, it’s apparent that “equality” is becoming even more important in resolving a fundamental rift in our society over individualism – when should an individual put others and the community over the self? 
In the past, anti-homosexual views and “heterosexism” were, in a sloppy or fuzzy sense, seen as related to the ability to build a relationship expressing complementarity, a concept more specific than psychological polarity and more directly related to openness to procreation, with all its uncertainties and risks.   Modernism has led to the view that you don’t need to base reaching out on gender complementarity, but you have to accept some other ideas or processes (like gay couples adopting children). Modernism has also led to a mixed view of gender equality within marriage, as with the controversy over paternity leave in the workplace.  
The notion that we have to respond to need that knocks on the door was behind a lot of my thinking on the military gay ban (before and including the 17-year-itch, that is, “don’t ask don’t tell”). Marriage equality in the 90s seemed much more distant.  Yet, the lack of it meant living with parity, not equality.  “Separate but equal” as always an oxymoron.  "S.C." is where I took Basic Combat Training when I was drafted in February 1968, Fort Jackson, just east of Columbia.  I remember that experience vividly. At night, as we buffed barracks floors, WCOS blared that it was first in "The Palmetto State".  

Sunday, November 09, 2014

New patio for Town on U-Street; Nellies reminds us of the old Washington Senators baseball team, long before our first-place Nats; and why take "Disco naps"?

Just a lighter note, after all the super-serious stories lately.  After seeing a gay film at Landmark ("The Way He Looks", to be reviewed tomorrow), I visited the new outdoor patio bar at the Town Danceboutique in Washington tonight, which has limited hours until spring.  Some natural gas lava heaters keep things comfortable, but this evening (after a movie) it was about 60 degrees with no wind.  That’s going to change soon as a typhoon becomes a polar vortex before Thanksgiving.
I also tied a burger at Nellie’s, only to notice that this was the Redskins’s bye week, which they need.  In the men’s room, there is a curious sketch of old Griffith Stadium, which used to house the Washington Senators baseball team through 1960, and one season of “the new Senators” after expansion in 1961 (with the beer garden gone, making left field the longest in the majors).  I grew up on the old Senators during the worst years of the 1950s, which were also the worst years of Eisenhower-era purges of gays from government (including Frank Kameny in 1957), but I was too young to get that then.

It’s always good to be reminded of history. 

Today, I also attended MCC NoVa in Fairfax, and heard a humorous sermon, "Disco Naps".  People actually take early evening naps so they can dance until 3 AM?  I wish the dancing would start earlier.   

Friday, November 07, 2014

Sixth Circuit upholds gay marriage bans, setting up probable Supreme Court airing in spring of 2015

For the first time, a circuit court has upheld a gay marriage ban. That is to say, the Sixth Circuit has upheld a gay marriage ban in four states: Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Robert Barnes has the detailed story in the Washington Post, front page, on Friday morning here.  The decision went 2-1, with Judge Jeffry S. Sutton writing the majority opinion.

The Supreme Court had declined to hear a gay marriage case, but now with one opinion upholding the bans, there is disagreement among the circuits, raising the likelihood that SCOTUS will hear it.
The decision said that the matter should be left to the political process.  But one time in the 90s, the Fourth Circuit in Richmond had said the same thing about gays in the military.
The text for the opinion on Scribd is here
Again, marriage used to be viewed as equivalent to “having a lifelong relationship that demands sexual and personal complementarity” and that is, in form, open to the responsibilities and shared risk of procreation.  The “polarity theory” of Paul Rosenfels, as it developed in the 1970s when I visited the Ninth Street Center in NYC, rather extends the idea of complementarity, so the moral debate has three or more sides, not just two.  The opposing pole is the libertarian idea of hyperindividualism, that denies that legal privileges for marriage are necessary because others have to subsidize them.  (Oh, Ayn Rand was very pro heterosexual marriage, though!) 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Will GOP hitless blowout hurt LGBT people? Maybe not as much as weak presidential leadership recently could; overseas problems really matter

What will the effect of the Republican cakewalk in the midterm elections be for LGBT issues?  Kevin Naff, of the Washington Blade, has a piece “So much for that post-gay world?” here .
While Naff parodies the silly-looking unsuccessful runs of some gay politicians (including Republicans, who had a real scandal in San Diego), he notes that gay issues (or anti-gay rhetoric) weren’t on voters’ minds, or their politicians.  HRC is tweeting out rather silly threats by Cruz to try another anti-gay marriage amendment (which would be much narrower than Santorum’s 2004 attempt), the main concerns seem to be stalling on ENDA bills and on trans rights (especially the military).  
Could there be a real backtrack on the progress on marriage so far?  Not real likely, as the courts seem sympathetic, and most appellate opinions have gone “our” way, emphasizing rationality.
Could there be an unraveling of the end of “don’t ask don’t tell”?  That sounds like pouring cold water now.  The Pentagon seems quite happy with the repeal, and can compartmentalize any usual incidents (like Manning). 
Naff mentions plans on the far right for an anti-gay-marriage march.  Again, that seems so silly.  A "straight slate" that is so concerned about others having the same benefits is betraying fears of inability to "get it up" in their own marriages, if the "meaning" of marriage is diluted to take out physical complimentarity.  Meaning matters.  

I’m reminded of election night in 1980, when it was clear early that Reagan had won, and I went to see a performance of Puccin’s “Turandot” at the Dallas opera.  I'm also reminded of a conversation two decades ago when someone from Log Cabin asked me if I would hold a fundraiser for them in "my home" when they had no idea of my circumstances.  
I also recall a Blade piece by Chris Crain in early 2004, "Piddle Twiddle and Resolve".  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

A smaller, more intimate Halloween party, with just a tinge of warning

When Halloween falls during the week, most clubs have their costume contests and big parties the Saturday night before.  But this year it fell on a Friday.  I went to a “smaller” party this year, at the Cobalt DC on R and 17th Sts NW in Washington.

“Wolverine” (from the “X-Men” series, a favorite of Anderson Cooper according to his tweets;  “Days of Future Past” was reviewed on the movies blog May 31) won the costume “voice volume” contest ($1000 cash) held right before midnight (as the calendar moved into “All Saints Day”).  The runner up was “Game of Thrones”.  “Mrs. Doubtfire” (which I saw in the 1990s and is reviewed on the “doaskdotell” site – and for which "they" shaved Robin Williams repeatedly) was a runnerup.  So was “Ebola”, in a yellow cover-suit and protective mask.  No one wore a black mask or black flag, fortunately. 

As I indicated recently, “Ebola” (as in the 1995 movie "Outbreak", and Robin Cook novel) may no longer be funny.  Recently, as I reported, some bars in New York City were scanning driver’s license or passport bar codes on entry last weekend.  Were someone under observation for Ebola to enter (or some other disease, likely more transmissible, in the future) to found by computer search to have entered, a place could get shut down. 
My only costume was a Washington Nationals cap.  But it got photos and comments.  I told someone that I can’t emulate Nats most dependable ace pitcher Doug Fister (at 6 ft 8, the cutest – and I hope the Nationals resign him quickly – before he can go free-agent).  Remember, ex-National Mike Morse drove in the winning runs for the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 this week (and I guess San Francisco wining the WS was the next best thing). 

At least one person wore an Eagle Scout outfit (not in contest).  There's a link for Scouts for Equality here.

On DC streets, Halloween was quieter than usual.  Not as many costumes on the Metro (Silver Line) as usual.  The rain held off, but the northeast wind was starting to bite.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Southern Baptists offer half-hearted, inconsistent apology for stance on homosexuality

The Wall Street Journal, in a story on p. A6 today, by Tamara Audi, reports “Southern Baptists soften tone on gays”, at a conference in Tennessee, link here.
Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, apologized for “denying the reality of sexual orientation” and for implying that GLBT go the Hell, but did claim that sexual orientation can change and that a day of judgment is coming.  This sounds like a self-contradictory “apology”. 
Again, religious teaching seems to suggest that family responsibility is easier for parents if everyone participates.  Marriage, in this view, seems to flourish because of an expectation that everyone follows the same rules.  "Southern Baptist Sissies" (to repeat the name of a musical film, reviewed on the movies blog Feb. 19, 2014) seem to prove a big distraction for some "normal" people.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses his own sexuality in an essay

Apple CEO Tim Cook has an essay in Businessweek where he discusses the fact that he is gay, and his own perspective on his role in gay equality, link here. Of course, he sets a tremendous example and is right now probably the most visible gay executive in the US, maybe the world.

Just this past Sunday, I encountered an Apple store in Grand Central Station in NYC.  
According to CNN, 91% of Fortune 500 companies do have anti-discrimination policies with respect to sexual orientation.  Yet, 53% of LGBT workers still “hide” at work, especially in conservative states.

We have come a long way.  But I remember back in the early 1980s, whenever the television cameras came into Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas on Reagan St, there was a section where no one would be photographed.  One time, at a post-pride party in Lee Park on Dallas (on Turtle Creek), I appeared on camera, and a consultant at work the next day said he was surprised to see me there.  Some people would react to learning this by bragging about “feeding their babies” and even taking second jobs selling cars to do so.  The cultural disconnect then was profound, and it had so much to do with procreation. 

Back in 1973, the Ninth Street Center in New York City, in its own journal, called homosexuality "civilization's secret".  No politician would mention it publicly then.  True.  Nixon had Watergate on his mind.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

High Heels Race in Washington DC (17th Annual) is packed!

The gay community and tavern guild in Washington DC held the 17th Annual High Heels Race on 17th Street, between Q and T St. NW.
As with last year, the public was not allowed to cross 17th Street without going to one end or the other of the route – that is, except for people in drag (and they had to register at one of the clubs).  This is like “The Rocky Picture Horror Show” (which I saw on stage once in Minneapolis), in that you are “forced” to go into drag!

The “parade” lasted two hours but consisted mostly of drag queens running around on the space.  The only place where you could get dinner quickly was the MacDonalds, which was full but served us very efficiently.  The Subway shop ran out of bread, and Annie’s and the Trio, among others, were packed full, just as in pride. 

The race started promptly at 9 PM, and lasted about 45 seconds.  The parade that followed out of the area below Q Street (about at the location of the new Drake Apartments behind the First Baptist Church) was rather long.


WJLA was present.  The weather was warm (in the 70s) and dry. 

Effectively, this is a small Halloween week pride event.