Friday, July 29, 2016

Cleveland cancels Pride out of security concerns

Cleveland Pride has canceled Pride for 2016, out of security concerns. The Washington Blade has a detailed story.

Pride has been postponed from its usual time for the Republican Convention.

This seems to be the first cancellation since the Pulse attack in Orlando on June 12.
I am somewhat familiar with the city from boyhood summers in Ohio in the 1950s. The city should have been back to normal right after the convention. The Washington Nationals split a series with the Cleveland Indians (many of whose games I saw in the old stadium) the following week. I was last there in August 2012, with a quick night visit to the grounds of the Rock-and-Roll Museum.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

For LGBTQ people already in the US: asylum is a very different issue from the current Syrian refugee controversy

This would be a good time to reiterate the official link on “obtaining asylum in the United States” especially for LGBTQ people from hostile countries (like Russia, Nigeria).

The DC Center is affiliated with “Center Global” which does maintain a list of “asylees” in need.  This group has not gotten much consistent coverage from the major media.  But the clients here seem to be people already in the country, settled once and apparently needed more help again.  That’s a different process from settling refugees through established charities (Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services) who work with the federal government closely on carefully screened refugees, before the refugees arrive.  Most of these individuals probably arrived through a variety of particular circumstances outside the well-structured programs run by social service agencies with the government, and often with the help of larger church congregations.

This is not a process where people overseas wait for a “sponsor” to come here.  Outside of foreign adoption of children, that would be “private sponsorship” of “new” refugees which is not legal in the US now (given the political climate), although it is done in Canada.

During the Mariel Boatlife from Cuba in 1980s, there were many LGBTQ Cuban refugees already in the US (mostly in southern states. Especially Florida), looking for hosts with “spare bedrooms”. They were "refugees" who had arrived through urgent circumstances that normally would have made them illegal (as if they had crossed from Mexico).  That sort of issue could develop gradually with previously settled refugees, but it has gotten very little coverage so far in the U.S.  during the recent crises involving Syria, much of Africa, and even Russia.

It’s possible that people will be contacted by “friends” especially on Facebook looking for assistance overseas.  This is a matter that requires great caution, and not much has been written about it yet.  In some cases, people overseas may mistakenly believe that “friending” someone gives them better status in refugee application process; there is some evidence that this is going on.

Update: Aug. 6

It's been explained to me that some asylees are in the US on visas (like student visas) which could have expired.  A member of a marginalized group (meeting legal standards) can file for asylum,  In a few cases, undocumented people (or people whose visas have just expired) can file for asylum and remain here legally while asylum is processed.   That could make helping asylees more personally challenging that refugees, who must go through one of the large approved social service agencies first.  Asylees have not necessarily always had the support of one of these agencies,  They could have come from stable countries on student or employment visas, and fear going back because of political changes in their home countries (like passages of anti-gay laws while they are already here).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FDA open to comment on MSM lingering one-year deferral on blood donations

The Food and Drug Administration is opening a docket for comment on the one year deferral policy for MSM  -- that is, a man must not have had actual sex with another man for twelve months as well as remain HIV-negative for all known blood tests.

It’s arguable that being in a monogamous relationship with both partners negative for a sufficient time would work.

Other diseases, such as Hepatitis C as well as B, and even Zika might be transmissible, but none of these have become known as particular problems in the MSM community.

The Washington Blade has a story July 26 by Chris Johnson here.

No doubt, the large community response in Orlando after the Pulse attack from non-gay people certainly called attention to the lingering ban.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Baltimore Pride 2016 beats the heat; March against gun violence announced; church vandalized

Going to Baltimore Pride 2016 was a bit strenuous, although the heat was not quite as bad as predicted.

I parked at Penn Station Saturday, and got lost in Sandtown trying to get there.  I missed most of the parade.

There was a tent selling Pokemon Go monsters, as the Block Party extended several blocks, had one drag show stage and one dance area.

A lot of people went to the movies at The Charles to cool off, before the indoor dances at the Grand Central, which still has just two small dance floors (and an outdoor roof patio, pool area, aquarium, lounge). It was pretty full by 10 PM,  But without the Hippo, it would make sense to rent a large space at a hotel or casino for a Pride dance.  Baltimore could use a large dance floor again.

Sunday’s fair on the Druid Park was uneventful, but the drag show did announce a GLBTQ march against gun violence in Washington on October 1-2, in response to Orlando.

A United Church of Christ in Catonsville was recently targeted for vandalism (story).

Friday, July 22, 2016

HRC blasts Trump, calls him potentially anti-LGBTQ president ever in text message this morning

I found an alarmist message from HRC on my iPhone when I got up this morning.    It read “The time for underestimating Trump is over. He could honestly be the most anti-LGTBQ president ever.   It also texts “49 celebrities honor 49 Orlando victims. Watch this moving tribute now and take action with HRC.”  I was certainly surprised by the aggressive tone of it. The Washington Blade had a kinder and gentler account by Christ Johnson here.

Donald Trump, in his speech last night, labored to pronounce “L B T G Q” (especially the “Q”), and said that “our” greatest threat comes from foreign enemies.  Ted Cruz made a similar statement while not endorsing Trump.

Indeed, that’s been my own personal spin on Orlando, rather than on focusing on some sort of special victim status for a marginalized group, mine or anyone’s.  But that is not to say they’re aren’t pretty horrible pseudo-Christian domestic enemies still around (like Westboro Baptist Church, which ironically claimed "God Hates America" with its banners in the mid 2000's).

Peter Thiel made his speech, the first from an openly gay person at an RNC, but dismissed the bathroom bills controversy as a sideshow, with “Who cares”.  That seems to have angered a lot of people.  CNN reports on it here and Time has the text of his speech.  The NBA has moved a world series from North Carolina over the bathroom controversy (CNN )  I just did some travel in the mountainous part of North Carolina and nobody ever mentioned the issue.

I will cover this more “generically” on Wordpress soon, but I do have a problem with “solidarity” for its own sake.  I don’t put on uniforms or t-shirts and ask other people for money for causes, now, although I have done that in the past.  I don’t feel it’s particularly honorable to be remembered as the victim of an enemy that you or your culture has made, and I wouldn’t want to be “honored” that way if my end came that way.  (During the Vietnam era, some people said they did not want to come back maimed or be “honored” for what was involuntary sacrifice, and that’s how I felt, too, when we had a draft.)  Maybe I get some of where Trump’s emotion comes from.  But, then, imagine another parallel world and I’m a Jew living in Germany around 1934 (or Poland in 1939).  If they come for me, I would have little resolve or resilience to survive “for the group”, which a couple generations later would itself take away territory from “the others”.  I can’t solve all this now.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Feedback on overseas anti-gay culture at a breakfast yesterday

Saturday, I did have some interesting conversation at the monthly AGLA brunch at Freddie’s in Arlington.

One was that a power failure in Saw in DC affected some bars on U Street Friday night. (Town’s Twitter feed says it was affected, “Still waiting on PEPCO”).   But the closure of Metro at 12 Midnight is not affecting business much, according to what I was told.  Apparently, many employees are used to having to get home after the previous closing at 3 AM anyway, as were many customers.

There was also a young man from Nigeria who described gay social life as somewhat out of sight, kept quite private, even in Lagos, after the anti-gay laws signed by Goodluck Jonathan.  He also indicated that anti-gay laws in sub-Saharan Africa, below the Muslim areas, are influenced by an intellectually na├»ve application of evangelical Christianity, which is trying to establish its own religious identity.

The anti-gay planks reported in the GOP platform sound the same.  Yet it’s possible for people like Pence (Indiana) to rationalize their views, but it doesn’t seem like they want to; “old time religion” seems good enough for them.  One of the platform provisions would allow parents to force minor kids into ex-gay programs  (diverting money away from HIV prevention), illegal now in many states.  Again, there seems to be an idea that parents have a “fundamental right” to as many grandchildren as possible.  Procreation, in a cultural sense, is a way to level the “psychological playing field.” It could be connected to arguments about making a population more resilient. But no one bothers.

A note about the event: We were on the patio, not closed off for air conditioning. I do like social events where there is a sit-down meal or pot-luck.  I'm less enthused about happy hour socials unless they are fundraisers or in places I haven't visited. Today, I heard a sermon about "scruffy hospitality" (as an offshoot of "radical hospitality").  Indeed, I have been "busy" and haven't been into the activity of hosting events myself. (I don't think I've done that since 1985, after moving into a Dallas condo; but I had done it in my apartment in NYC in the 1970s);

Friday, July 15, 2016

GOP platform emerging in Cleveland is a process-piece getting progressively "more bad"

Tim Mak has an “Oh, Really?” column in the Daily Beast, “Donald Trump’s Platform Committee: Gay Sex Deadlier than Smoking”.

But Jeremy Diamond of CNN reports, “Trump to LGBT Community:‘I’m a real friend.”  Since Orlando?  Actually, he did treat gay contestants rather well on The Apprentice.

And in the Dallas Morning News, Laruen McGaughy wrote that the GOP platform will complete the job of alienating Republican millennials, if Trump (hands separately) hadn’t already done it.
I still think that the hyperbole of the most extreme anti-gay rhetoric (maybe not receding as quickly as I had thought) has a lot to do with “denying lineage”. Some people need it, if they don’t have anything else. 

There was also some (less controversial) language discouraging singling out specific groups as targets of foreign terrorism, as in Mother Jones. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Gay community divided on "Black Lives Matter", as many white gay men don't feel "marginalized" now

Steve Petrow has a provocative story in the Washington Post Style section today Thursday July 14, 2016, “A divide in the LGBT community”, or, online, “Black, queer, ignored: Why the LGBT community is divided on Black Lives Matter”

The story reports on a disruption of Toronto’s gay pride parade over the issue.

There is a mentality of identifying with a “marginalized” group.  But many white gays don’t feel particularly marginalized today, and have little sympathy with the way the “groupthink” of BLM is pimped in demonstrations.
Also, many people feel that whether one is willing to date or dance with an opposite race member is an issue now, with moral implications.  I sometimes see this on dance floors.