Tuesday, October 30, 2018

DC High Heels: a break after a week of terrible national news

I went to the early portion of the High Heels Race on 17th Street in Washington DC Oct. 30.  The event was a break from all the demonstrations and dire political news and tragedies.  

The parade started around 7:10 PM and was longer than I expected.
There were several marching bands.  This was a “mini pride”.

It was mild, around 60 degrees F.

I don’t think these Halloween costumes were particularly about fluidity this time.  But this year's is especially important for the trans community given all the political controversies from Trump. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

A smaller Halloween party Saturday night

I tried a smaller penultimate weekend Halloween Party this year, just at Freddie’s, Oct. 27.

The plasma screens on the porch are down, but the TV’s are in the bar, and yes, the Boston Red Sox attracted attention in the top of the ninth inning with their outburst.
There were some karaoke singers, and not as many costumes as usual.  I learned of some interesting things in conversation, like one man who does extreme sports and skydiving and does instruction in it.  (I actually know of another, who does Shaun White stuff.)

Then there is the issue of how much the LGBTQ community should focus on its own identity and equality issues, and how often it should speak to bigger problems, like anti-Semitism, and gun violence (Chris Johnson story, Blade). 

For example, AGLA can only bring speakers to deal with the narrower issues.  But after the elections, a lot of us will probably want to hear speakers like David Hogg and his friends.
I just now put my polling place and voter ID on my phone for Nov. 6, before uploading this post!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Washington National Cathedral holds memorial service for interment of Matthew Shepard twenty years later

Friday, the Washington National Cathedral held an internment service for Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Laramie Wyoming in October 1998.

The family had been afraid to bury the ashes in a conventional fashion out of fear of desecration.

Here is the link for the entire program. 

Here is the video, for the nearly three hour service.

The Right Reverent V. Gene Robinson presided.

The musicians included the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC, the Rock Creek Singers, and Conspirare.  A major musical item toward the end is a setting of Samuel Barber’s Adagio.
Shepard has been remembered in film (“Anatomy of a Hate Crime”, 2001, and “The Matthew Shepard Story”, 2002). 

There was a major outdoor service in Loring Park in Minneapolis in October 1998 when I lived there.

I have heard the Beethoven Solemn Mass in D, played at the Cathedral (back in 2007).  The Cathedral sustained damage from the earthquake in August 2011.  
I have visited Laramie, WY once, in August 1994.

Also, yesterday I noticed a YouTube video (I won't give the link) from a young pastor who advocated a "humane" death penalty for homosexuals.  I don't report content for censorship; in a few cases I have reported emails to the FBI (this happened a few times from 9/11 until 2005). This sounds like maybe a TOS problem, but the radicalization "risk" to the public is minuscule. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Paglia's controversial video on transgenderism and culture; Caitlyn slams Trump on trans issues in op-ed

In 2016, Camille Paglia made this video where she expressed the opinion that transgender mania is a sign of “cultural collapse”.

At least, minors should not be trying surgery or puberty-delaying hormones. 

Although maybe this is more about others not wanting to see gender norms diluted as role model examples to follow.  The same culture now may regard cis-male gay athletes as fine as role models.  (Not sure where Rippon fits, then.)

There are other YouTube videos that say reversing a trans decision is no big deal.

At least I thought this was interesting, given Paglia’s reputation.

Caitlyn Jenner, who had announced she was a Republican, has an op-ed in the Washington Post. “I thought Trump would help trans people. I was wrong.” 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

In an era when lesbian bars close, two (or three) new ones open in Washington DC

The Washington Post, in a story by Marissa J. Lang, discusses the disappearance of gay bars and especially women’s or lesbian bars around the country, mostly to gentrification of neighborhoods.

But two new lesbian bars have opened in Washington DC, XX+ in Shaw, and a League of her Own in Adams Morgan.  Furthermore, in August, Pitchers designated a portion of its floor space to women, called ALOHO.  I have not noticed that on my two visits to Pitchers, where there are multiple sports bar video screens (like the World Series now), and where many women do come to the dance floor.

But there were always many women at Town, even if the dance floor had a reputation as a bit male “preppy”.  Cobalt (which redid its upstairs dance floor in 2012) has sometimes reserved “ladies nights” certain Saturdays, but I don’t know if that continued when Town closed.

The article discusses the closing of Phase One on 8th St SE;  Phase had also operated a women’s bar on the site of the old Apex on 23rd St, which closed in 2007 but which had been a good dance club.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tim Pool blasts New York Times for intentionally creating confusion on Trump administration's reported plans on the political definition of "sex" for federal purposes

Tim Pool has a video today very critical of the New York Times story on the “transgender erasure” which led to all kinds of demonstrations.

He claims that the NYTimes deliberately confused the words “sex” and “gender” and that the Trump policy is very limited in what it actually would mean. 

By the way, it's worth remembering that Selective Service Rules on mandatory registration of males is based on this same definition of birth sex.

Update: Oct.  26

This piece in the NY Times by Anne Fausto-Sterling on the science of how sex develops and why it is not always binary, seems very relevant.  The article notes that Orban in Hungary wants to shut down gender-identity studies and insist that only binary gender be recognized, and important idea on the right for patriarchal control. 

The Economist also has a similar article Oct. 30 (paywall, easy to find in print), questioning haste by youth and kids. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Trump administration wants to limit sex-related federal discrimination law to biological gender only -- transgender and fluid no longer will exist

Erica Green, Katie Brenner and Robert Pear of the New York Times write today that the Trump administration could define “transgender” out of existence. 

  The story was also carried yesterday by Bearing Drift in Charlottesville.  Here is HRC’s storyThe National Center for Transgender Equality does not have a story yet. 

The proposal is supposedly inspired by a recent federal court ruling. The rule would limit HHS and DOJ interpretation of federal civil rights law to limit the term “sex” to biological gender assigned at birth.

The proposal is criticized as running against scientific opinion on transgenderism or even fluidity, and fails to recognize that biological intersexism at birth sometimes does happen.

It is not apparent that the proposal would hinder states and school districts from allowing gender changes on driver’s license or ID cards, but any litigation would stay in the respective states.  

Presumably the states would be required to keep record or original biological gender.

The Trump administration (along with conservative judges) can say that if Congress wants to include sexual orientation and gender identity in comprehensive civil rights protection, it can simply pass a law saying so. That’s sort of the same duck-and-cover Trump uses with the Dreamers – and goes back to Congress with “do your job”.

Trump seems to behave with some personal hostility to transgenderism and gender fluidity or ambiguity, although not to conventional cis male homosexuality or lesbianism itself (he had gay candidates on The Apprentice and had no problem with it, even admiring it on the male side – he does have a problem with Rosie O’Donnell).  However German Lopez has a rather sobering piece on Trump’s (and his administration’s_ attitudes on the matter today. Lopez mentions a legal case Oncale v. Offshore (1998) which could counterweight Trump's plans with a precedent (if Kavanaugh honors it). 

The transgender military ban is still in litigation and it could wind up in SCOTUS with Kavanaugh on the Court (Oct 9).

Lisa Ling had done a "This Is Life" segment on CNN about gender fluidity (as transgenderism and even a-genderism) on Sunday, Oct. 7 (TV blog); maybe this turned out to be provocative.

Truth-out (along with its repeatedly hysterical fund-raising appeals) offers this piece by Deane Spade, "Right-wing fantasies about gender are killing trans people."  While he makes a lot of good points, he could have mentioned that Selective Service Registration is done by birth gender.  The Left never thinks of mentioning this.

WJLA7 has videos from the demonstrations at the White House today.  The new hashtag is "#Wontbeerased".

Alejandro Alvarez at News2Share also reports on the demonstrations.

The City of Philadelphia PA announced an event Tuesday on Facebook, here

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Finally, for me, Saturday night at DC Eagle; gay interracial couple; Adam Rippon still in view

Saturday night, I finally made it to the DC Eagle when the dance floor was open, for the event, this time called “BrutBear”.

I had no trouble getting there by Uber, or catching Uber when I was leaving (out at Minnesota Ave).
The admission to the bar was free, but the dance floor show as expensive, $30.

Inside, the d├ęcor rather reminded me of the Burning Man “no spectators” even east of Reno NV every September.

There is no mandatory leather dress code, but maybe two thirds of the people were from that community, compared to more preppie discos.  The music was almost all percussion.

The Washington Post today has a “Retropolis” story (Justin Moyer) of a gay male interracial couple that spent over 40 years together and had met in 1965.

There is also an article om the Washington Post Magazine “Adam Rippon Wants to Stay Famous”, by Nora Caplan-Bricker, photos by Marvin Joseph, with the display of some chest hair “allowed” for the first time ever (after some months ago he was in a YouTube video on body shaving, Sept. 6 post). Rippon had a chance to play political peacemaker at the South Korean Olympic Games, and I don’t recall that he ever met with Pence. But during that time Trump finally decided to gradually dial down the rhetoric on Kim Jong Un, which has turned out to be very important for all of us.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

OK, plenty of entrepeneurs in the gay community follow Nicholas Taleb's advice and put their "Skin in the Game"

Had my first dinner, salmon, at Fredericio’s Ristorante Italiano, the restaurant Freddie Lutz bought a few doors down from his Beach Bar in Crystal City in Arlington VA. 

Freddie certainly follows Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s edict “You must start a business” in his “Skin in the Game” book.  The bar and restaurant business is locally risky, and the gay bookstore business is even riskier. Local independent bookshops seem to thrive now, however, and that deserves a look.
Earlier I had tried to go to the cookout at DC Eagle that was supposed to happen at 4 PM (according to its own website).  The crowd was small.  The bartender said he did not have the materials to do the event.  Odd.  At least the Halloween decorations are up.  And, yes, there is some parking on the premises now (but usually you have to do Minnesota Ave. Metro and take your Smart Card).  The neighborhood around it is slowly gentrifying and looking better (which means prices go up).  People seem to be buying condos and rowhouses around Union Market and East.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Gay candidate for Congress issues cease and desist when her video is misused with misleading excerpts by opponent

The Victory Fund does help manage fund raising for LGBT candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

Texas candidate Gina Ortiz Jones apparently issued a cease and desist to the campaign of US Rep William Hurd to stop excerpting one of her videos to send a misleading message, which would be copyright infringement.
The Wind City Times reports the cease and desist here

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Why Trump's attempted transgender military ban could wind up with SCOTUS fairly quickly

The Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara (which I visited personally in February 2002) has issued a statement “Implications of Supreme Court Review of Transgender Military Policy”. Oct. 

Apparently the case is before the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. If the Ninth Circuit denies the Trump administration’s motions it could wind up before the Supreme Court (with Kavanaugh and Goresuch) pretty quickly.

The Palm Center notes that there is a logical contradiction in the government’s contention that transgender people can serve as long as they remain in their original biological sex and don’t attempt change while in the service. 

However, there have been cases, such as Kristin Beck, where people did that and served even in Navy Seals as a male before transitioning after retirement and becoming compelling public figures in DOD policy debate.

In 1993, radio host Scott Peck interviewed a self-declared male-to-female trans person who was discharged from the Navy as an intelligence officer, but allowed to have almost the same position as a civilian employee after transition.

The arguments that transgenderism is heavily genetic are controversial (Forbes article from early this year). 
So far there is not much talk about undoing the “don’t ask don’t tell” repeal from 2011.  This was done by Congress and DOD, not the courts. Kavanugh doesn’t matter on that one.
There is also a troubling story from Stafford County, VA about a transgender student and an emergency drill, details on NBC Washington here. 

Monday, October 08, 2018

Well before Charlottesville, a web host had taken down a very extreme anti-gay site; are "hate speech" provisions a slippery slope?

In August 2017 there was a minor epidemic of a few extremist right wing (or white supremacist) websites being blacklisted from domain name registrars and webhosts after complaints, particularly with regard to insulting material of the murder victim, but also some other content.

We’re becoming familiar with occasions where social media companies suspend accounts for harassment or for hate speech (which it particularly connected to the extreme right in most cases) but this is also possible with web hosting companies, which have AUP’s but which are supposed to be a lot more neutral than social media companies.
In fact, this has happened with LGBT issues.  Back in 2011, a fundamentalist “Christian” site called “Christchurchquake dot net” had published generally offensive material blaming gays and lesbians for the 2011 New Zealand earthquakes.  (Imagine that in Indonesia now, with the scenes of liquified earth.)  Some news stories, at least UK Pink News, had reported the extremist content and published the “abuse” content to the web hosting company, Bluehost, to which thousands of readers responded.
The site was taken down.  Domain Tools shows that the domain name has been deleted and is available.

Yet in 2016 Pink News and BBC reported similar content, again, apparently after more quakes? 

While the original content must have been outlandish and so crude and silly that it would have been ignored by most visitors, activists have become very protective in wanting companies (that make profits off user content) to shut down content which urges unstable people into violence.  True, most hosts have AUP’s that prohibit targeting people (including recognized suspect classes) so they could act if reported.

Yet, we are moving away from a libertarian view where only the direct perpetrator of a violent act is to be punished for his crimes.  We obviously see this with the gun control debate.
Yet interpreting what is “hate speech” can be a very slippery slope indeed. While this case seems to have no rebuttal, consider the claims made in the early 1980s (before HIV or HTLV-III were identified) made by the religious right (especially in Texas) that gay men practicing chain-letter sex could, in some sci-fi scenarios we could imagine, later endanger the entire population. (There was Kimberly Bergalis, after all.)  That claim could not be seen as completely incorrect based on the knowledge at the time.

Westboro Baptist Church's site ("God Hates Fags", which I won't link to) is still up and rated green by Trend Micro.

And Tueday USA Today recalled the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998, here. 

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Lambda Legal takes on case involving rescinded job offer, and eldercare

Lambda Legal offers an important story about the case of Mark Horton, a sales manager for a hospice company in Pittsburgh, married to Alton Greenough.  In order to be closer to his own mother who needed care, he took a similar job with another similar company in Illinois.

But he disclosed his legal gay marriage and soon had his job offer withdrawn, as explained in Lamda Legal’s article. 
I’m certainly familiar, from my own past, with the anxiety of starting a new job when all you have is the “offer”.  And my own mother’s eldercare created dilemmas, starting in 1999 when I was 900 miles away in Minneapolis.  This sounds like very tacky behavior on the part of the new company, and outside of mainstream corporate HR norms today, whatever the exact legal requirements. 
But there is a real problem in interpreting the law to mean that “gender” alone incorporates “sexuality” or “gender identity”. I don't think the current Supreme Court (with Kavanaugh) will sympathize with this extensive stretch of the law, taken literally.  
I did visit Pitcher’s (Adams Morgan)  last night on a weekend night for the first time,  I saw the end of the Yankees-Red Sox game (it is a sports bar) and visited the many rooms (like in Bartok’s opera “Bluebeard’s Castle”, maybe), including the dance floor, which was very crowded.  People were not as demonstrably intimate on the floor as they had been at Town.  One of the owners introduced himself. 

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Trump administration narrows eligibility for gay partners of diplomats to remain in the U.S.

The Trump administration’s State Department has promulgated a policy requiring gay partners of diplomats to have legally married in their home countries to be able to stay in the US.
There is an exception if the home country treats gay unions exactly the same as straight but uses a grammatically different word to describe the union, given the context of the home country language.
About ten couples are believed to be affected.
But even the libertarian magazine Reason was highly critical of this gratuitous change, as in this “Hit and Run” blog entry by Scott Schackford, link

LFBTQ Nation reports that students at an Escondido CA high school are in trouble for wearing spell-outs with anti-gay and racist slurs at a school event, story. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

DC Councilman has embarrassing incident with bouncer at a major DC club

DC Council Member Vincent Gray had a minor altercation and minor injuries with a bouncer at the DC Eagle on Saturday night, where there was some kind of art show.  The bouncer had said his ID was inadequate.

Normally a driver’s license or passport is adequate as it must show date of birth, age > 21.
NBC Washington has the story and video here.  The news story does give the Eagle’s side of the story.

Bars have become very strict about requiring ID even among patrons who look “much” older than 21, including senior citizens.

Back in the fall of 2002, in Minneapolis, I was twice denied entry into the Brass Rail by a bouncer who thought I was stumbling as if compromised by alcohol. But I was not.
In early October of 2001 (shortly after 9/11), at the Gay Nineties in Minneapolis, I was ejected after merely walking downstairs, by a security guard who thought I was compromised.  I had finished only about two-third of one beer.  But these are the only such incidents I recall in my whole life.