Sunday, March 31, 2019

Avalon Saturdays, new popup disco in downtown Washington DC; also, Eduardo in drag

Saturday night I visited the popup gay disco bar “Avalon Saturdays” near Franklin Square on 14th St. in Washington DC.  (It’s not the same as the Avalon Theater, in far NW DC). 

The weekend-ly event is a welcome addition to Washington’s nightclub scene given the loss of Town Danceboutique (July 1, 2018) and suddenly Cobalt (February 2019).

The facility is in the basement of an office building. It opens at 10 PM, and is $10 for the first half-hour and then goes up to $15 ($20 for VIP).

There are comfortable padded seats in front of the stage for the drag show, which starts at about 10:40 and lasts an hour, and then the seats are removed to open the dance floor.  I don’t know why the area of the stage doesn’t add to the floor.

There are nice lighted abstract decors for serving samples in the back.

The drag queens tend to be very aggressive in trolling the crowds to demand tips. You need plenty of $1 bills.

The place gets crowded by 11:30 and the crowd is very mixed and random, much like Town’s was.
Here’s a little treat from Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell, “I Try Drag for the First Time”.

He mentions that acting in drag is a way to show your masculinity, which sounds like a paradox, but Paul Rosenfels says that. He shaves his face (he normally has a neatly cropped beard), but does not shave body hair, but uses the costume and leggings to cover up.

What gets testy is when male actors play transgender characters, like Cillian Murphy or Jared Leto.
But cross-dressing itself has nothing to do with transgenderism.

Eduardo seems to be playing with a kind of Russell Paradox, where he wants the reassurance after all that men "have" something that women don't have, conspicuously.  And that's true of European men but not other groups, because of geographical separation in the past and colder climates with less sun. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Are more gay men turning on transgender people?; House condemns Trump's transgender military "ban"

Phaylen Fairchild offers an interesting take on Medium, “Why are more gay men turning on transgender people?”

The author talks about some conversations on Gab, which I have sometimes looked at, and never really seen anything that horrible. 

At a personal level, most cis gay men want to find other partners who are cis (and then gets into “upward affiliation”).  In a typical disco with a drag show early in the evening, there seems to be a contradiction indeed.   As an abstract principle, they (“we”) will support trans rights (like to serve in the military, by analogy to DADT in the past) from a distance but usually not want to get too involved personally.

There are trans people who are unusually accomplished, like Lady Valor (Kristin Beck, an ex Navy Seal who would be a credible Democratic candidate for president if she wanted to run), or the controversial Chelsea Manning, who is as articulate as any person on the planet. But why hasn’t the gay press covered her solitary confinement for challenging secret grand jury abuse?

Fund raising and activism in HRC and other similar groups has focused much more on trans issues than in past decades. 

In some extreme cases, some cis gay men have been criticized for refusing to date trans people, in whom they would not be interested.
The House just voted to condemn (a non-binding resolution) Trump’s attempted and complicated transgender ban (PBS story). 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Gay dating site considered a security risk when in Chinese ownership; Alabama wants out of the marriage business altogether

Metro Weekly has a story reporting that the US Committee on Foreign Investment wants to force a Chinese company to sell Grindr.

The dating site for gay people is considered a security risk when in the hands of a foreign owner because many people on the list, including active duty military, have high level clearances.  That’s an ironic aftereffect of ending DADT in 2011.

Here is the Reuters story
And in Alabama, many judges and counties are getting out ofthe marriage license business or ceremony over same sex marriage – following Kim Davis in Kentucky.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Equality Act might undermine legitimate women's equality concerns (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal today, in an op-ed by Abigail Shrier, makes a convincing argument that the Equality Act, as applied for transgender persons, would undermine women’s equality and sometimes safety, link here .  It's called "The Transgender War on Women". 

There is discussion of male-to-female trans people competing in women’s sports, because they might have a residual biological edge. The writers also plays up the problems with restrooms and prisons and other special circumstances, which generally have not been very significant. 

The article is critical of the idea of using intersectionality levels to make policy, because of the contradictions particular groups can experience. 
It's hard for me to respond to activist organizations to take action on bills like this when they do have problems. 
Ironically, a female-to-male person might be able to compete in some male big league sports.  Someday, MLB will have a such a player, perhaps a relief pitcher.  Baseball has no openly gay conventional cis male players as far as I know, even though MLB insists it is committed to non-discrimination. (Opening Day 2019 is tomorrow.) 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Charges against Jussie Smollett dropped with small civil penalties in a confusing fact pattern; Manning in solitary

The story about the Cook County State Attorney’s office dropping charges against Jussie Smollett broke this morning and consumed CNN, just as stories about Trump and Barr etc had been all the rage.

I was distracted by the breaking news of the quasi-“passage” of a draconian copyright law in Europe, which has gotten relatively minimal coverage from mainstream media in the US.  That could change.

Then I went to a Town Hall, so I didn’t get to this story until now.

The most detailed non-video analysis of the incident seems to be a story in Vulture by Natalie Hope McDonald.  

The indictment was dismissed after Smollett agree to community service and to forfeit the bond as a kind of civil punishment.  He will probably be hired back on to Empire.

There is a lot of talk that the police made mistakes in statements to the press. 

There is also New York Post story hinting that Mark Geragos, an attorney for Smollett and Michael Jackson., is connected to the Mike Avenatti case.
Attorney Patricia Brown Holmes insists on Jussie’s innocence on CNN Don Lemon.
It is not too unusual for charges to be dropped after some sort of civil penance, like community service or mental health counseling, in a case where the circumstances of a defendant’s conduct are murky or somehow provocative in an uncommon way.  I know of cases where this has happened with teachers. 

There are also reports that Chelsea Manning has been kept in solitary confinement. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Former Log Cabin Republican head opposes Equality Act

The Washington Blade reports that a former Log Cabin Republicans opposes the Equality Act. That’s Gregory T. Angelo (article by Mariah Cooper).  
That’s pretty much a libertarian position.  That is, gay (and trans and fluid) equality is more a matter of individual rights, not about groups.  Government shouldn’t interfere with what isn’t somebody else’s business. A free market normally has natural disincentives (except for small or very specialized institutions like some churches) not to discriminate.

I’ve always been unwilling to perceive GLBT as a “people” (there would be obvious contradictory intersectional factions).  But I’m also pretty uncomfortable about deliberately keeping score for PoC or various groups. 
But the problem is indeed that people don't start at the same place in line. Yet some people transcend disadvantage and poverty and become "antifragile" with it. 
So I’ve never made public campaigning (like raising money for or wearing badges) for abstract ideas of equality a personal priority or how I brand myself. 

On the other hand, the far Left has influenced the tech community and payment processors to become excessively preoccupied with the idea that almost any conservative pundit is leading followers down the path of white supremacy or ethno-states.  That notions is simply false.

Yet any group can be a target of violence.  Consider Pulse, Pittsburgh, Christchurch. The enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

DC Eagle has one week license suspension over incident checking id of a city councilman

Gay bars continue to have adversity in the DC area as the DC Eagle on Benning Road had its liquor license suspended for 7 days, and will close Saturday March 23 through Friday March 29.  The bar was also fined $2000.  The Metro Weekly story by John Riley is here.

The suspension was the result of a supposed altercation with a DC councilmember in the fall.

It is appropriate for bar personnel to insist on seeing identification and age verification for all customers entering, even those who look elderly. That is indeed required by law and this was done. Discos always check my id.

I had an situation in Minneapolis in the fall of 2002 when a small bar on Hennepin (not one of the discos) twice refused to admit me because the bouncer thought I looked intoxicated.  It is true that sometimes  have a slight limp from a 1998 hip fracture.  One other person who had bartended at the Boom, a bar that had been open on the east bank then, said that had happened to him.

In October 2001, shortly after 9/11, I was mysteriously asked to leave the Gay 90s on a Saturday night  after walking downstairs from the upstairs bar when a security guard though I looked incapacitated.  I had consumer maybe half of a beer.  That incident never was repeated.

I don’t know what happens now, but at the time bars in Minneapolis had dancers and it was acceptable to touch them when offering tips.  That is not acceptable in Washington DC. and will lead to ejection.

The DC Eagle had been reported as willing to sell the building with liquor licenses and lease it back. The Baltimore Eagle is said to reopen soon.

Update: March 24 

Washington DC has a new dance party Avalon Saturdays, which I just learned about last night at Ziegfelds.  Here's the Facebook link.  I'll try to go as soon as there is another good event (like for Cherry coming up) and report.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Newspaper in Tampa FL area reports chain restaurants in gay areas are closed for (imaginary) health violations

A newspaper in Tampa reports the closing of some locations of a popular restaurant chain because one or more employees tested positive for Hepatitis A.  (Unlike Hep B and C, and HIV, A can be spread through food but in practice is it rather rare to happen this way.)  It appears that these incidents relate to food businesses owned as franchises. 

The story is in the Tampa Bay Times, by Daniel Figueroa.

There are indications that locations in areas of St. Petersburg thought to be “gay” demographically have been targeted.
I was told about this in a personal email this morning.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Newseum offers "Rise Up" gay history exhibit but will close at the end of 2019

Wednesday I visited the exhibit “Rise Up” at the Newseum in Washington DC, on Level 6.

The tickets would have been $24 but I purchased a $75 pass for 2019.

The link has many posters and JPG’s.

The booths show the history of the gay rights movement from the early 1950s, when gay organizations were banned from using the mails, through Obergefell in 2015.

There is a big mural on the Stonewall riots in NYC on June 28, 1969.

There is a small panel on the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and Trump’s transgender military ban.

There was a large film “Into the Streets” on the wide screen on Level 5 (Movies blog).

The Newseum will close at the end of 2019, due to operating losses.  It will turn into a graduate studies center for Johns Hopkins (Washington Post).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Most of Trump's transgender ban goes into effect April 12 -- but maybe not?

The latest is that Trump’s ban on transgender service members starts April 12, but most currently serving transgender members are grandfathered to stay.  There will be problems when they try to get promotions.

Mother Jones covers the situation in an article by Dan Spinelli and has an embed of the Pentagon order March 12.

People who say they have gender dysphoria will not be allowed to enlist.  Apparently they will not be allowed to enlist or reenlist even after surgery and 18-24 months of stability, as has been the case.  There many be issues with hormone treatments.

There are questions about the legality of the order since the plaintiffs have the right to ask for a hearing with the full DC Circuit appeals court until April 29.

LGBTQ Nation has a story by Alex Bollinger March 13.   The California National Guard is staid to be preparing to appeal the order.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Fertility insurance and same-sex parents, and surrogacy: controversial?

This is going to be morally controversial with many people.

The idea of no discrimination by insurance companies (or by governments in single payer systems) for infertility treatments is getting more traction, as in this post by Dr. Mark Trolice. 

Of course, people will object to providing assistance for surrogacy when there will not be a parent of each biological sex raising the child.  Trolice runs a clinic in Orlando (linked in the article).

The Family Equality Council has published surveys showing a rapid increasing in the percentages of younger same-sex couples (especially men) wanting children or to add children, but sometimes by adoption (which many see as much more desirable since there are so many orphans – especially overseas) without parents.

NBC News reports that some women freeze their ova before becoming transgender men so as to have children, although this sounds very expensive. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Gay bar closures becoming common as gay lifestyle goes more mainstream

I did a quick tour of the 17th Street strip in Washington, Kameny St, on the first mild day in March, late on a Sunday afternoon, right after daylight savings time had resumed.  

Yup, I found the Cobalt closed, but without any signs of explanation.

I went upstairs into the DIK bar (Dupont Italian Kitchen -- it used to be called Windows – like Microsoft – in the days of GLIL) and found that the bar has set up a small stage-like area as a kind of emergency dancefloor.  If you’re elderly; be careful about the first step going downstairs.

I ate supper at Annie’s, which as packed (a steak salad);  it was just as it had been in the late 80s.  Everything else has changed.

Then I went into JR’s, which was also packed. It seems to me that Little could make a little dance podium upstairs in the back if he wanted.

Marissa J. Lang has an article in the Washington Post about the closing.

Lou Chibbaro reports for the Washington Blade here.

The closure was sudden, after a plumbing failure, and it was not economically feasible to stay open with a short non-renewable lease. The owner notes that specific gay spaces are not doing as much business as they used to because of mainstreaming of gay and even trans culture (with at least one openly gay candidate for president), particularly after Obergefell.

Chibbaro notes that the Baltimore Grand Central (across the street from the Hippo-now-CVS) was sold Feb. 28 and the new owners will operate the bar now but close it eventually (Baltimore Sun). .  But the Baltimore Eagle, sold again after an ownership despite over cultural values, is said to be planning reopening (it is across North Ave on Charles St).

One idea should be to build a mutli-purpose space that has economically profitable use seven says a week.

In a multi-story building you could have retail space on a ground floor, then meeting spaces and theater stages and dance floors (which could double as theater sometimes).  The old Town DC had an upstairs stage which could have been used during the week more. A theater space could be setup to attract new artists.  I could see how this could be useful to me with my own music.

I will cover the new Stonewall exhibit at the Newseum soon.

Casa Ruby is assisting some asylum seekers (story on Wordpress site today).

Friday, March 08, 2019

Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to "snitch" on Assange to a grand jury

Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was jailed today in Alexandria VA for contempt of court after refusing to testify and provide more details about her role with Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who may be extradited to the US eventually.

She could remain in jail until the end of the grand jury session.

President Obama had commuted her sentence.  The Trump administration (despite Trump’s saying “I love Wikileaks” in 2016 during the campaign) now classifies Wikileaks as foreign intelligence instead of journalism.

Manning objects to secret grand jury investigations altogether. She says she will testify in open court.

Her refusal seems to be a matter of principle, so as not to snitch.

I was at the protests Tuesday morning.

Ford Fischer of News2Share provided other networks much of the outdoor footage.

The Associated Press story by Matthew Barakat is here. Chelsea could be a heroine or a villain for either the Left of Right, depending on what you see.

Because any citizen could have been chosen to be on the grand jury, this is important reading.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Muslim immigrant objection to LGBT education in Birmingham, England demonstrates quandry of intersectionality

Religious communities, led by the Muslim community, have pressured schools in Birmingham, England to stop offering lessons on homosexuality and gender identity.  There is a “no outsiders” problem.

Pool points out that the situation in the UK demonstrates the folly of “intersectionality”.  Here are two potentially protected classes in most western countries at odds with each other.
By JimmyGuano - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

HRC reinforces calls to support the Equality Act

This video 1 year ago celebrates the act’s getting 100 cosponsors.

HRC published a new video on the Equality Act today in Facebook, which I could not find yet on YouTube. It encourages readers to call their Congresspersons and Senators with action buttons.

In practice vulnerability to discrimination is very dependent on overall economic status and sometimes race and gender identity (as opposed to sexuality alone).

This is a good time to note that both Tim Pool and Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell have noted the folly of reverse racism, where people are expected to look a certain way based on their last name, ethnicity, or first language.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Bone marrow transplant for a cancer removes HIV infection

An HIV-positive man in Britain became the second person ever to become HIV negative by a bone marrow transplant from a man who had a gene that made him HIV resistant. The transplant was done to cure a cancer (MSN). It's interesting to report that a small minority of people seem to have unusual genetic resistance to HIV;  I don't recall this being reliably reported in the 1980s.

Marc Short, Mike Pence’s incoming chief of staff, is reported to have written a vitriolic anto-gay article in a college paper at Washington-Lee university in 1989, blaming gay men for their behavior in spreading AIDS (Daily Beast).

And the Williams Law Institute at UCLA published a detailed demographic study indicating that 4.5% of people in the US self-identify as :GBT.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

What about gay men in college fraternities?

Well, we’ve talked a lot about gays and more recently transgender persons in the military.

What about gays in college fraternities?

Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell (now24, I think) did this at USC (film major) and says he was not officially out but more or less everyone “knew”.  But he says he was treated exactly the same.

There is very little said about fraternities in the gay press that I can recall.

Most of the attention recently has been negative, such as an unfortunate hazing death in Pennsylvania (where someone with alcohol poisoning did not get medical attention for 12 hours).

He has another video where apparently he told an airport agent “I have a right to be Eduardo” despite not being PoC.  In fact, it is very common for white people to have Hispanic names and language, partly because of WWII-migrations to South America and sometimes Mexico.  When I worked as a substitute teacher, I had two or three “Nordic” people with Spanish names.  Spain itself is a very diverse place, like England (I was last in both countries in 2001, need to do it again).

The video mentions "hookups";  Economic Invincibility just did a video on straight hookup culture.