Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween party at a rural club, The Lodge, near Hagerstown MD

I visited The Lodge, east of Hagerstown MD on US 40, on the western side of South Mountain, last night, for variety (as Halloween parties could get more difficult in DC without Metro late).  I hadn't been there since 2012.

The crowd built up very early, by 10 PM.  The outdoor patio lounge is decorated a bit to look like an alien planet garden. The dance floor also filled quickly. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Economics of gay clubs and discos in modern times, at least in DC

I found an article in MetroWeekly from last May about the real estate development around Town Danceboutique in Washington DC, and whether real estate pressures could force the disco to close.
The story denies it.  The landlord has changed a couple times, but seems committed to allowing the status quo.  A patio was put in recently.
It is true, however, that there have been many apartment buildings, condos, and offices built in the immediately surrounding area, including a building that houses the new Landmark theaters.

Real estate professionals would know that the desirability of the area, for rental income or condo prices, probably does depend on keeping the night businesses, including bars, restaurants, discos, and performance venues (like the 930 Club and Howard Theater) around, as these businesses may attract new residents.  These are mostly young to middle aged professional adults, all races and ethnicities, with some emphasis recently on LGBTQ, expanding out from Dupont Circle.  It’s easy to imagine comparisons, like the area in New York City north of Hell’s Kitchen and NW of the Theater District (where the “Therapy” is located.

The article came out just before the midnight closings weekends on Metro for SafeTrack.  Consumer business after midnight on weekends still seems to be strong.  But developers should try to get a 24-hour garage built (it’s rather obvious that the parking lot next to Town invites playing Monopoly with development, but why not build a secure garage and solve the parking problems).  Developers should also take on the problem of transit for workers after midnight, rather than depending on ride sharing nd taxis.  Bike lanes would be nice, but there should be a serious effort to run circulator busses, or run busses along the Metro routes in hours Metro is not open (to help counter DUI, also).  Real estate developers (and bar owners) should pressure Metro and the City on these points.  .

Baltimore misses the Hippo, whose owner closed it to retire, because liquor licenses aren’t transferrable.  Disco properties, for economic viability, sometimes need to be used for income most days of the week.  Very large disco events, and dances, which happen too infrequently to support a property, could consider renting space, particularly in new casinos, where space and parking is usually plentiful.

Friday, October 28, 2016

HIV was here in the US before Stonewall; Patient Zero's online reputation cleared

The “patient zero”, French Canadian airline steward Gaetan Dugas, of the HIV epidemic, so well documented in Randy Shilts’s “And the Band Played On” (1993), has had his name and online reputation cleared.  CNN story is here.

HIV appears to have spread to the Caribbean from Africa and then to the US, and may have been present in the late 60s, at the time of Stonewall.

But for some reason, there were almost no cases until around 1978 (my last year in NYC), and the epidemic was not noticed officially until the summer of 1981.
The “amplification” by behaviors in a closed male gay community is often said (by the right wing) to be the explaining factor.  But could it be that Subtype B did not arrive until around 1976 (as Shilts intimates, in an opening chapter about the Tall Ships over July 4, which I remember) or that somehow a subtype became more virulent.

Recent media reports have talked about Hepatitis C as having similar transmission modes, but as being asymptomatic in many people until old age, when immune function keeping it at bay gets weaker (or as it would with HIV+).  This bears watching (as with an earlier story about HPV and age).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Faith-based contractors could still discriminate (in helping refugees), according to new defense bill rider; more TG litigation on healthcare

A well-hidden anti-LGBTQ provision could threaten the defense appropriations bill in the stalled (and vacationing) lame duck Congress, according to Karoun Demirjian in the Washington Post, p. A17, Thursday AM.

The provision would seem to allow federal contractors with a faith basis (like LSS or Catholic Charities) to discriminate in hiring and service if religion compelled them to.  This could affect the delivery of services to refugees, or even more sensitively, to asylum seekers in some cases.  (Actually, allowing faith-based agencies discrimination in religion sounds dangerous in other immigration areas too – but there are groups like CAIR and Ayuda that specialize in helping specific ethnicities.)

The Defense authorization bill gets passed at the end of the calendar year, and in 1993 became notorious because that’s when “don’t ask don’t tell” was officially codified into law, to be repealed in 2011.

Think Progress is reporting on a new lawsuit allowing religious groups to refuse to care for transgender people at all if they do so on religious grounds.  Does this mean a Catholic-owned hospital could refuse to treat a TG person for, say, appendicitis? Just posted this morning on FB.

Update: Later Oct. 27

The House has passed the bill, story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

DC's High Heels Race is festive as usual

Last night’s High Heels Race, the 30th, seemed to be the largest ever.  And this year there appeared to be some more “masculine” contestants in line open to gender bending and physical ambiguity than in years past.

The crowd was the usual, and this time I saw much more cigarette smoking than I can remember in a long time.  Even in outdoor areas, like the Town Patio, there is little smoking these days.  Lifestyles are changing for the healthier.

Angels became a major costume theme this year.

There were some caricatures of Donald Trump  and various permutations of “make America Great again”.
If you want more ;;

then consider "Children of Men" (the 2006 film). 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Major transgender presentation and discussion in Arlington VA Sunday night

Sunday night, the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA) sponsored a pot luck supper and discussion group in the meeting room at the Central Library near the baseball field of Washington-Lee High School. (Somehow my mind flashes back to the Westside Discussion Group i Chelsea in NYC back in 1973, with topics like “are gay resorts really gay?”)

The subject was “Trans Matters” and the presenter was Roxanne Edwards.  The presentation and discussion were extensive, about 90 minutes (until 7:30 PM).

There was a slide show and the tone of the presentation was quite firm. One of the leading slides asked people to nod that this is a safe space.  There was mention of the use of pronouns.  Normally, in the trans community, the preferred pronoun refers to the gender the person transitions to.
The terms “cis-gender” (perceiving oneself as having a gender identity commensurate with biological birth gender) and transgender (no part participle) were defined.

There was another chart of “alphabet soup”, explaining some acronyms.  “Transvestite” has nothing to do with transgender and is viewed as an undesirable word.  Roxanne discussed the movies “Dressed to Kill” (1980, Brian de Palma), “Klinger”, and “Tootsie” (1982, with Dustin Hoffman, which I remember well) and I believe mentioned “The Way We Were”.

There was also a "Genderbread Person" combination chart which recalls to my mind the analysis of Paul Rosenfels and his polarities.  (Paul used to say most cross-dressers are straight, and many transgender people have kept relationships, which may have started as heterosexual or homosexual, after transition, something I could not want to traverse intimately).   But rather than “on-off” or binary 1’s and 0’s, the new charts are a series of continuums.  Many millennials or younger adults want to fit in the middle on many parameters (that suggests comfort with gender-bending and appearance-changing, to deny old stereotypes of gender – a topic I cover in detail in Chapter 2 of my 2014 DADT III book).   I’d add that have seen gay men “cross dress” temporarily than then appear as “male” as possible the next day, like someone a pitcher would not hang a slider to. There is a lot of machismo-worship in the conventional gay male community.

She defended the activism on the bathroom bills by saying that some people cannot succeed in school or at work unless allowed to use the restroom of their choice and comfort.

I presented video for the event at this Wordpress post. Video 11 covers her argument on the bathroom issue. Video 12 mentions the military and Video 13 concerns my question on what old homophobia was really all about.

One other transgender person in the audience discussed heterosexual married life as an evangelical male in the past.  She said she now likes to waffle in the middle on the gender identity spectrum.

The very latest that I find on court cases is the Supreme Court's temporary block in August on a Virginia school case (Reuters) and a Federal judge's order on the North Carolina case, late August, here.

Update: Oct. 25

The Williams Institute at UCLA has published a statistical study of transgender identity by race and ethnicity in the US, by state, here.

Update: Oct. 28

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Gavin Grimm, at Gloucester High School in Virginia, "I'm transgender and can't use the student bathroom; the Supreme Court could change that."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Would social media trail alone provide a legitimate reason for an LGBT asylum seeker to fear persecution back home?

What if someone had come to the US and lived a totally “straight” life in an anti-gay home country, like Nigeria or Russia, and then had a visa expire, when, in the meantime, the person had “come out” in social media in the U.S.?  In this circumstance would the US government recognize this as a legitimate asylum claim?  Does the person have to have been persecuted as gay in the home country before coming here?

The question sounds important because of the importance of social media and “online reputation”, especially as search engines can unearth it.  If the person went back home, he might be persecuted over authorities finding his social media posts.

If the INS or immigration judge would not regard such a claim as valid,  then there would be a legitimate question as to whether a private party should host such an asylum seeker.

The question also sounds relevant to LGBT US citizens who travel to anti-gay countries (maybe for work) and have a large social media trail.

Another variation of this problem occurs if a non-gay person criticizes his home government (say, Russia's Valdimir Putin) in a conspicuous way online, and then fears persecution if he or she returns.  Could that be grounds for asylum (that he or she did not follow online laws of home country)?  For gay people, you could look at this from "identity politics" grounds (which I don't like) or First Amendment concerns (which I do support)

The issue could obviously also come up with transgender.

(Correlated post, "BillBoushka" blog, Oct. 22.)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

UK pardons men convicted of sodomy laws posthumously; Detroit org assists LGBT refugees and asylum seekers

The New York Times is reporting that the UK will pardon men convicted of sodomy before 1967 posthumously, in a front page story by Sewell Chan Friday Oct. 21.

The bill has the support of the new “Conservative” government and is named after Alan Turing.

Back in the early 1950s, men were sometimes arrested by police busting in to private homes.

Turning was arrested after reporting a robbery by a partner, and was forced to undergo chemical castration as an alternative to prison, an idea that led to his eventual suicide.  Today this sounds like one of the greatest personal outrages of history – against a man to whom England may owe its salvation from Hitler.  If opposition to homosexuality was about procreation, this punishment made even less sense.

Today, Center Global in Washington DC shared on Facebook an article by Kate Opalewski. “Freedom House  Seeks Help for LGBT Refugees”.  Freedom House is located in Detroit.   The organization should not be confused with a larger organization of the same name, which deals with freedom of the press. The article does not clearly differentiate between asylum seekers and refugees – an important distinction covered here before.  But the website does get into the special problems of asylum seekers.

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Gender segregation" gets re-thought: just look at how male birds show off

Here’s a long, detailed article in the New York Times Sunday Review, “Is it time to desegregate the sexes?”
Primitive societies often do.

I’ll add this thought.  Sexes are generally kept separated when fully nude to make adult sexuality (usually heterosexual) more fulfilling when it eventually happens in appropriate circumstances.  It’s more than just “privacy” (as we saw the idea thrown around in 1993 regarding gays in the military).  I grew up in a culture that, at a certain level, valued female “beauty” more than male (as opposed to nature – like with many birds).  I found it interesting when partial “revelation” showed some men to be more “manly” than others as they grew up, and the same can be said about women (especially by Donald Trump).  But for an attractive male to show off in public seems noteworthy.
Still, as a nation and in our particular communities, we have more pressing concerns than the bathroom bills.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New article in Blade asks individuals to house (or at least "host") asylum seekers

I was at the AGLA brunch at Freddie’s Beach Bar today, discussing Airbnb with someone else, especially Arlington’s proposed new rules, which would modestly regulate it.  I was told that people who use it expect to stay much cheaper than at a hotel and don’t expect perfect, hotel-style housekeeping and services.  They want to “crash” while they go to an important function before flying home.

Soon the discussion turned to the subject of housing asylum seekers (I should have mentioned the “Emergency BNB website set up by a realtor immigrant from Egypt), with which there is at least a cultural connection in terms of who might naturally offer to do it ("Major issues" blog Oct. 1). I got out my cell phone and looked up “Washington Blade asylum seekers” expecting to pull up the Aug. 18 article about Center Global (posting here Aug. 28). Instead I found a new article by Eric Stults “Consider Hosting an LGBT Asylum Seeker”   Again, my own reaction is to think about existential personal risk:  due diligence, legalities, moral hazards (spread to others), stuff I covered on my main blog (Oct. 4).  I’m still going through the process, which involves talking to a number of people and organizations and even lawyers, especially in Virginia.  I think I’ll come back to this in about two weeks.  Actually -- we can quibble about words -- "hosting" is a more inclusive verb than just "housing" (below).

But the Reception on Oct. 6 (see story that day) made no mention of the need for direct housing assistance, other than a remark by one award winner.  I was left with the impression that direct housing assistance was not being actively pursued, because of the risks involved.  But I was wrong, as this article appeared next day in the Blade.  I didn’t see this in print last week.  Did I miss it?  I also haven’t seen it on Facebook or Twitter.

I have the impression that housing an asylum seeker means taking on a dependent – compare it to foster care of sorts.

I would wonder if it would be possible to buy a building as a shelter.  If you got together a number of donors – maybe 30-50 or so, this might be doable.  In Baltimore there is an asylum seeker shelter than mainly houses women.  Maybe something like that could be done in DC or northern VA.
But you can’t go to York PA and offer to bail out an asylee.  DHS won’t talk to you, unless you actually knew the person before he/she came to the US.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

HPV-related oral cancers may affect older men, maybe older gay men disproportonately

The Oct. 2006 issue of the AARP Bulletin has an informative article on the risk of HPV-induced cancers for older men.  The article by Peter Janet is here.

Carcinomas of the tonsil and back of the tongue have been attributed to human papilloma virus. They seem to appear several decades after infection, after the virus has been dormant, as the immune system weakens during age.  It would be logical if it were more common with HIV+ men, but that isn’t always true.  Men who had childhood tonsillectomies might be less exposed.

Oral sex may increase the risk of HPV-associated cancers later in life, but this could include oral sex among heterosexuals as well (both sides).  Anal sex may increase the risk of HPV-associated squamous cell cancer in the anus, also.

It’s logical to wonder if HPV (along with some unusual cellular immune defect) could be implicated in other cancers, such as the bizarre thyroid cancer that killed Roger Ebert, or even something like pancreatic cancer.  
I had a plantar’s wart cauterized on the sole of my foot twice in ninth grade (painful to get the novocaine shot).  Then it didn’t come back.  I think probably my immune system had simply learned to control the virus.  But the virus had probably been transmitted along lockerroom and shower floors.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

DC Center Global holds reception with awards; Bar hosts gay kickball and seems to like the Sam Francisco Giants as much as the Nats

I attended the Fourth Annual Reception at the Castleton on 16th Sr in Washington DC tonight of the Global Center Project of the DC Center for the LGBT Community  
The Global Advocate award went to Dr. Chloe Schwenke, professor at Georgetown and at the University of Maryland.  The Global Courage awards went to Pati Hernandez of El Salvador and Temitope Oke from Nigeria.

The event was well attended, by over 200 people, and there was a silent auction and free sandwich buffet and bar – enough for supper. 
The presentation presented the information on the fact sheet here

There have been several town halls since late 2015, but there has generally not been a lot of publicity in other gay media in DC until perhaps late July of this past summer.

The Center says it has assisted 157 asylum seekers to date. 

Tonight’s event did not make any mention of the need for people to house asylees (except for one brief mention by Oke, who said he arrived from Nigeria with nothing but was granted asylum in 2014).

The Center has access to a staff attorney and social worker.  I discussed the issue of major support for asylum-related volunteers on my main blog Oct. 4. 

Later I walked over to JE’s, where several teams from Stonewall Kickball had gathered.  It seems like gay sports teams like the San Francisco Giants as well as the Nats, even in DC.  Is that because Richard Harmon, from Judas Kiss, supports the Giants?  Or does the national gay community simply make a San Francisco team its own? 

Update:  Oct. 15

The Washington Blade covered this event with a story Oct. 7 by Maximillan Sycamore, here

Saturday, October 01, 2016

NoVa Pride held in Bull Run Park, VA, as dreary weather holds off

Northern Virginia Pride 2016 Festival was held Saturday in Bull Run Park, near Manassas Virginia (although barely within Fairfax County). The weather was cool, foggy, drizzly.

Many of the familiar groups were there, such as Adventuring, the outdoors group, which had a skyscraper building contest with wood blocks at its pavilion.

I did find AGLA.

I also found Log Cabin Republicans, which has not yet made up its mind on endorsing Donald Trump.  There was an admission that our system discourages well qualified candidates with better character to even try running for high office.

I found a lonely booth operated by UMFS, recruiting foster parents.
I did not find any booths related to immigration, refugees or asylum seekers.

An NSA drone flew around at times, sounding like a bumble bee.