Tuesday, June 28, 2016

National Park Service makes National Monument out of Stonewall Inn site in NYC

The National Park Service has made the Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village and the nearby park a national monument, honoring the rebellion in late June 1969. The riots started early Saturday morning June 28, 1969.  The site is near the Christopher Street subway stop for the #1 IRT train.
The Park Service says that NYC laws against homosexual gathering places had been harsh, meaning many gay bars closed in the 1960s during the “panic” over the World’s Fair in 1964-1965 (after one or two rumored incidents).  Other bars were “protected” as “Mafia bars” until the mid 1970s. "It got so bad we had to go to Boston" was one account given to me back in the 80s from someone living in Dallas then.

As I’ve noted in Chapter 2 of my first DADT book, I think I was at a church retreat near Orkney Springs, VA that weekend, on a regular weekend pass from the Army at Fort Eustis.  But Kerry Lauerman had an article in the Washington Post today in the Style section, "Stonewall: You Had to Be There", link, and there are stories that it was catalyzed by the death of Judy Garland.

Note the newspaper accounts at the time.

CNN has a typical news story of Obama’s visit here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

US transgender ban in the military to be lifted as of July 1

The ban on openly transgender people in the US military will end on July 1, according to a story today in USA Today.

The plan has been in the works for about a year.  Estimates for the number of transgender troops range from 2000 to 15000.

The New York Times has a detailed editorial explaining the timetable that transgender recruits must  follow. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pink Pistols: LGBT people need to be able to defend themselves, for existential reasons

Nicki Stallard, transgender, makes her own case for “The L.G.B,T. case for guns” in the New York Times today.  I do get the writer’s point and share it.  At any point in time, “I am what I am”, and I can indeed be brought low (short of being killed outright) by someone else’s violence.  Government rules cannot protect me from a determined enough enemy, only I can protect myself.  Then you get into what it means to live in a community.

She mentions Pink Pistols, which is asking for volunteers to offer training. "Pick on somebody your own caliber".

USA Today also covered the interest in self-defense in this story.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Some US states still have Russian-style "anti-promo" laws on the books, even if few enforce them.

Although the US is much better than Russia, at least eight states have “no pro homo laws” for public school systems, and two have laws preventing anti-gay bullying programs.  Mic has a map and story here.

Think Progress has a similar map here  referred to by the Washington Post here.  Texas and Alabama reportedly require teachers to portray homosexuality as abhorrent (and I don’t think these laws are enforced).

The underlying theme seems to be that “promoting homosexuality” will persuade many people, especially men, to have fewer children and weaken family lineages, in cultures where this matters to people’s sense of identity.  As in totalitarian societies, homophobia is also driven by a fear that women will become less compliant to the demands of some men.

I did visit the Town's replay of the Orlando benefit Friday night, postponing the visit from Thursday during the threat of big storms (which did not materialize).  There was also a donation opportunity at Freddie's for the brunch Saturday.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Attack on gay club in Orlando FL reported early today

Media reports a major attack by one gunman on the Pulse Nightlcub in Orlando FL last night about 2 AM, on what is Pride weekend in Washington DC. CNN has a typical story .   The Washington Blade has a story here.  The Orlando Sentinel has a much more detailed story as of 10 AM Sunday morning here.  It is not yet know what the motive of the perpetrator was (for example, political or “religious”), and whether the perp acted alone.  There had occurred a story on club security here on April 15, 2016.   The attack occurred one night after a shooting of a singer in a different (straight) nightclub in Orlando, apparently unrelated.  It is not known if there is any conceivable connection.

I had visited the club myself in July 2015 on a trip, when I was visiting nearby theme parks of Disney and Universal.  The posting showing the visit is here on July 14, 2015.  The club is relatively small in floor space.

This does seem to be one of the deadliest events at a gay club in US history.  Right after I had “come out” there had been an attack in New Orleans in 1973, which has largely been forgotten (according to AC360, the arsonist in that event was never caught -- the establishment was the UpStairs lounge, and CNN has the details here -- actually, I think there was another attack earlier in the year, if I recall correctly).  But there were fundraisers for that incident in NYC then right when I was entering the community then.


Many more details will come out of investigations, and it isn't practical to follow them all in detail right here, although I'll have more to say on a newer Wordpress news commentary blog soon.

The death toll is now at least 50, so this is the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11.

Without getting into too much speculation about radical Islam at this early stage (even allowing the reports of what he told a 911 operator), it's important to note a major news story (here in the Washington Post) that the suspect. Omar Mateem, has been reported as abusive and mentally unstable by an ex-wife.  Then, in a recent event in Miami, he, according to his father, was enraged at a gay PDA in front of his young son.  This attitude is common in people raised in authoritarian cultures (whether based on religion, or in a country like Russia), when they feel that a competitive, individualistic culture doesn't make sense to them.  If economic opportunities are limited, they feel that their identity is tied to the idea of (often tribal) lineage.  They fear that open male homosexuality around them will influence their own children and result in their having fewer descendants, denying their own life any further meaning.  This is really obviously behind the "anti-propaganda" law in Russia.

Of course, the debate on gun control comes into focus.  Why would an individual citizen need an arsenal of military weapons?   The NRA argument that people inside a public venue could reliably defend themselves if all were armed falls apart in a crowded space.

Update 2:

A blogger from France reports on homosexuality in Pashtun culture in tribal Afghanistan on youtube here.  Maybe it's relevant.

There is a gofundme page for the victims of the incident, from Equality Florida.  There is another one from the LGBT Community Center of Central Florida.  There is a source of other volunteer and donation opportunities from Wesh here.

However, I think there is a strong moral and legal case that Congress should authorize a compensation fund (including San Bernadino), given the military style of the attack and the connection to US foreign policy, effectively drawing in civilians as unwilling "combatants".  The president should authorize the use of active duty combat surgeons and military hospitals to provide care, including rehab.  I'll get into this more on Wordpress soon.

The Daily Mail has a sensational story about Matteen here.  Again, he was seen at the Pulse and various other Orlando area locations, including theme parks.  Orlando also has street fairs and parties.  I don't recall encountering him in 2015, but I have about 200 pictures I could look at to make sure.  Anyone who remembers meeting him or discovers him in vacation photo should contact the FBI,

Ishaan Thaoor has a column in the Washington Post June 14, "The Islamic State's shocking war on gays" here. At least within the confines of where ISIL controls territory, it hunts down people associated with gays on social media, according to the article, here.

Media reports detail Mateen's social media posts and telephone calls, even to a TV station, during the attacks.  There are some particularly grotesque reports that Matten put strapped bombs to at least four of the hostages, but no reports yet as to whether these are among the deceased.  There are limits to what I will go along with under any circumstances (I won't belabor it now) but I doubt I could have survived such an event had I been there.

There are particular unanswered questions as to why Mateen chose this nightclub, 90 miles from where he lived.  He appears to have frequented it, for perhaps a few years.  No men have reported intimate encounters with him.  It's not known to what extent he may have visited other clubs.  Inspection of his Internet searches over a period of time may provide clues as to motive.  Investigation could include looking at service provide access logs, and analytics (like Google or Urchin).

Increasingly, investigations show severe personality issues even early in his life.  The course of the investigation seems to make religion and sexual identity per se much less important, than a sense of humiliation and failure and need for revenge.  Look at what David Brooks says today.

Update: July 30

There is discussion of building a memorial at the site.  I am not personally in the club business, but I hope that the owner or other investors will rebuild the club, based on the idea you can't let a "bully" win. Did the club have adequate insurance, or would insurance cover this kind of event?  TownDC has a benefit for the employees July 30, 2016 in Washington, here.

See related story, Feb. 5, 2014, about a near-incident in Seattle.

Update: Aug. 1

The Washington Post has a disturbing analysis (Andrew Goldman and Mark Berman) of the very measured police response.

Update: Nov. 1

I've posted a link to a tape of Mateen's audio at the Pulse on the International blog.  It is heavily politicized, to say the least. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Surprise women's concert at Arlington bar

I did pop in on a women's consort performance "Wicket Jezabel" at Freddie's Beach Bar, late Friday night, in Arlington.

The group had a variety of instruments, including brass (saxophones).

Toward the end, the group played some songs from the late 1970s, bringing back memories of my last year living in NYC (1978).  

The event at Freddie's appeared to be large women last night,  I simply walked in and paid the cover.  I was late getting out last night.

I see that the Eagle will stay open until 6 AM, and that there is another Pride event that runs Saturday night until 9 AM Sunday.  These measures seem to be related to the fact that Metro now closes at midnight, so bars may be seeking to extend after-hours (no alcohol) until it reopens the next morning. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Trump erratic at best on gay rights

So, where is Donald Trump on gay rights?

Trump has not singled out LGBT as a group of “enemies” as he has others.  The New York Times has a piece in April by Maggie Haberman, suggesting past opposition to the SCOTUS decisions on gay marriage  and other stories are somewhat inconsistent on the transgender issues.  One of Trump’s few backers in Silicon Valley, Peter Thiel, is gay, story.

But other reports (Chris Johnson in the Blade  ) say that he could undermine, by executive order, the effective repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” if he thought that somehow open troops weakened the military, given his views on “enemies”.   But service chiefs now stand behind the repeal.

Trump has a disturbing tendency to judge individuals merely by their belonging to an indentifiable group rather than by their actions as individuals.  And he seems very thin-skinned about criticism.