Category Archives: Civil Rights

Celebrate Harry Hay’s 100th Birthday This Saturday!

HarryCover445 (2)Saturday, April 7, at 11 a.m. 

A ceremony at the foot of the Cove Avenue Steps on Silver Lake Blvd. recognizing the site as a historic place by the City of Los Angeles. The dedication of “The Mattachine Steps” (which lead up to the house where pioneer gay activist Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society in 1950) will be followed by a Radical Faerie-hosted picnic in an adjoining park overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir (east side). Then, at 2:30, a book signing and reading of Stuart Timmon’s newly updated biography “The Trouble with Harry Hay” at nearby Stories bookstore, 1716 Sunset Blvd. (in Echo Park).

Sunday, April 15, at 2:00 p.m.

The ONE Culture Series will host a panel discussion about Harry Hay’s life and times. Film clips, literary readings and lively talk will be followed by refreshments in the Archive’s garden. There is a suggested donation of $5. The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is located at 909 W. Adams Blvd. (near USC). 213-741-0094 for further information.

 

Profiles in Courage Deserve Our Support

Pass this one on to your friends and families. Tweet it to them. Email it to them.

James_alesi_ny_state_senator Last week after the LGBT community enjoyed one of its biggest civil rights victories in Mark-grisanti our history with the assistance of four Republican senators, the right wing National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced a two million dollar campaign to defeat them in 2012. Nothing could pour cold water over our momentum for full marriage equality more if these Republicans lost and especially if the LGBT community was missing in action.

 

Roy-mcdonald- Right now we should be writing checks to these four men who showed amazing political and moral courage in the face of powerful opposition. They literally put their political lives at risk so we could enjoy full equality in New York State.

Below are the four men and the email address for them. Take a minute. Click on each one and make a donation. Doesn't make a difference if it is $5 or $500 because we must show them that we will not forget them and leave them at the mercy of the extreme right in this country. They stood up for us and marriage equality happened. We must stand up for them so those who support justice thrive! Saland-

 

 

Senator James Alesi: Donate Here

Senator Mark Grisanti: Donate Here

Senator Roy McDonald: Donate Here

Senator Stephen Saland: Donate Here

And just in case you forgot Senator Roy McDonald's moment of clarity and truth, here, again, is his statement when he announced his YES vote for Marriage Equality:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f— it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing,” McDonald said…

“I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics…I’m tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing and that’s where I’m going with this.

[With thanks to David Mixner]

We Stand With Women

Swan wing History is, whenever the male powers-that-be go after women, gay people aren't far behind on their scary agenda. Here's what the radical right and their Republican flunkies are pushing for at the moment:

1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't.

2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."

3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)

4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. 

5) In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.       

7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool. 

8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

9) Congress will vote any day now on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses.)

You can't make this stuff up. Call your representatives and let them know you are watching. And to stop gutting the rights we've struggled to secure.

 

Hide/Seek…Sane/Insane

Hide-Seek FlanneryOConnerThe Smithsonian has a brilliant show titled Hide/Seek exploring sexual difference in modern portraiture. It is a stunning show and the companion book by the same name is worth every penny. The range of artists and the sheer quality of the art on display is a once in a lifetime kind of show and I encourage anyone within visiting distance of our Nation's Capital to pay a visit to the Smithsonian

Because, of course, this privately funded exhibit is under attack by the radical religious right again, this time in the guise of The Catholic League, the self-appointed Taliban of Catholic faith. And what exactly has them so exercised? A video by gay artist David Wojnarwicz titled A Fire in My Belly, mourning the death of his lover. Apparently there is an image in this video of the crucified Jesus's body, covered with ants. Now…it's not the sado-masochistic image of a man nailed to a wooden cross that upsets Mr. Donahue. It's the ants. His comment is that the Smithsonian wouldn't show Mohammed covered in ants, but Jesus? That's OK.

Really? Is fundamentalist radical Islamism who you really want to get in bed with Bill? … er, I mean associate with?

I digress. Herr Donahue goes on to — predictably I suppose — demand that Congress cease all funding for the Smithsonian because…and you can't make this stuff up…the regular Joe, the blue collar worker doesn't go to museums. I (Donahue) don't. They go to see WWF wrestling matches (really? all of them?) …and we don't ask for tax-support for wrestling.

Where to begin?

To draw a parallel between wrestling…even legitimate wrestling, not even the comic book staged variety…and the Smithsonian is just so..what? Ignorant? Breathtakingly stupid? I'm sorry…it deserves a new word all its own: Goebbelsian (as in Joseph "tell-a-big-enough-lie-and-they'll-believe-you" Goebbels.) Just as a charitable explanation, one (wrestling) is a staged form of entertainment or sport. The other, (The Smithsonian) is an educational institution that preserves the culture and history of these United States. We fund one because it is in the interests of education. We don't fund the other because a) it makes a gazillion dollars on it's own, and b) it's stupid. 

Oops. My bias slipped. Oh well. The Smithsonian, by the way, caved. Wojnarwicz's video has been taken down. But Herr Donahue is still demanding that funding for the museum be cut. If I could show it here, I would.

It is always almost chilling when The Roman Catholic Church (and let's not even begin with the pedophile scandal) cries about being "under attack," whines about "discrimination" …while they attack and discriminate and murder at will.

This man William Donahue should not be taken seriously. And yet "fair and balanced" has him on every news broadcast, making a publicity stink in the interests of his bigotry.

It's hard not to consider "second amendment remedies", ya know?

Hide/Seek is one of the most important, most ground-breaking gay-and-Lesbian-friendly exhibits to appear in any museum anywhere in a long long time. That it is in The Smithsonian…our nation's own museum…is all the more important. If you can possibly make the journey to visit and support this exhibit (which, I repeat, is privately funded...no tax-payer money is even connected other than the fact that it is in a government-funded building.) This is a visual history of LGBT people in the most lyrical form. Our ancestors. Our history. Our sacred texts and prophets (I'm looking at you Walt!) The most valuable thing that can be stolen from a people is their history. That's what Herr Donahue is trying to do. Rewrite history. Erase us.

He is, fortunately, a dying breed of homophobic, sex-phobic, good-ol' boy bigot. He will fail. But not if we don't fight back. Go to this show. Buy the book. Know …AND RESPECT…your history.

A 304-page catalog titled Hide/Seek Difference and Desire in American Portraiture has been authored by the exhibition co-curators, David C. Ward, National Portrait Gallery historian, and Jonathan Katz, director of the doctoral program in visual studies, State University of New York at Buffalo. The catalog will be published by Smithsonian Books and distributed by Random House; it will be on sale for $45. It is the perfect holiday gift for any gay person in your life. Maybe even you.

 

 

A Gay Paradigm Shift

Tyler Clementi II I've been reflecting on the recent news coverage of gay teen suicides for a week now. While for those of us in the queer community, where the knowledge of teens committing suicide as a means of escaping the daily psychological torture of coming to grips with sexual identity is nothing new, it seems the mainstream media have finally caught on to this very serious problem.  But why now?  Why not 40-50 years ago in the infancy of the American gay liberation movement?  Why not 30 years ago during the peak of the AIDS crisis coverage?  Why not 12 years ago when the Trevor Project started?  Why are gay teen suicides finally getting mainstream national media attention?  Because we're finally starting to see the overwhelming change in social attitudes required to shift mainstream thought to be inclusive of gay people in general, and the deaths of these young people are catalyzing that change.  I know the phrase "paradigm shift" has been used ad nauseum since Thomas Kuhn wrote his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, but that premise still holds true.  It takes years for a change in society to really take hold of people, and what I think we're seeing in this news coverage is a huge step forward not just for acceptance but more importantly for inclusion in the larger social fabric of the nation. 

In this very year we have seen the transcript from the Prop 8 trial, and the ruling of Judge Walker in that case which held that the proponents of this proposition had no defensible reason to support the exclusion of gay people from the institution of marriage.  What little evidence they presented was unsupported by history or fact, and their expert witness (of which there was only one) was basically rejected as unqualified to actually comment on the matter at hand.  It was abundantly clear that the sole motivation of proposition 8 was to oppress a sexual minority for no good reason.  Even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who were instrumental in the campaign to support proposition 8 are looking back at the division and strife that they have caused and it is driving them to tears.  I have no doubt that as the wheels of the judicial system continue to grind away, that this and all other state constitutional amendments that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples will be erased as a thing from a less enlightened time.

Also in this very year we have seen Bishop Eddie Long, Ted Haggard, and many, many others.  These men, a product of a conservative ideology that says that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, have worked diligently to uphold that worldview, even unto the suppression and utter destruction of their own self-identity.  The lives and well-beings of gay people everywhere have been dramatically influenced by people like this through religion and politics.  These are gay men  who live in denial, believing that their lives are wrong, that we must continue to support the heterosexual relationship as the only type of relationship that matters.  But in secret, their hearts pull them elsewhere, and they turn to abusing themselves, others, or both.  Ultimately we get fire and brimstone from these bully pulpits, where they push their own self-hatred outward to others, forcing more gay people and their families to experience the same pain and conflict that they are feeling.  Again, there is no defensible reason for this, and ultimately these structures will change both from within and from without.

It's these very outre political and religious statements against homosexual people that have brought to light the gay teen suicides.  It took a political campaign the size of prop 8, the national conversation that surrounded it, the trial that brought out the facts behind the prop 8 supporters, exposing the hypocrisy of the political and spiritual leadership who wrangled it into being and seeing the emotional damage that it caused, for people to finally realize that anti-gay speech and actions are a devastating practice that can drive young people to suicide.  When your state tells you that you don't deserve the same rights as other people, when your minister tells you you're going to hell for what you feel, when you believe no one around you feels the same way you do and calls you names for what's inside of you, when you fear what may happen to you if you share this secret with your own family, is it any wonder that you would become isolated, downtrodden, lonely, despairing and feeling that there is no hope left.  Suicide seems like the only option.  It is a tragedy, and one that has sadly been repeated for a very long time, long before these most recent notable deaths.

But the fact that these suicides, which under any other circumstance would have been the story in a local newspaper if that, have been taken up by the mainstream media like CNN and the New York Times, to me that says there has already been a change.  Poll numbers in support of gay marriages are rising.  Important religious figures are taking a stand and changing the tone in the church and calling their faith traditions on their stance.  Don't Ask, Don't Tell is on the brink of repeal.  The teen suicide stories have sparked a number of celebrity campaigns to speak out against anti-gay bullying including the star studded "We Give A Damn" campaign and the more down to earth "It Gets Better" campaign onYouTube.  Anderson Cooper called out a Michigan Assistant Attorney General for stalking and cyber bullying the openly gay president of the U of Mich student council in a hate filled blog.  All of these stories combined tell me that we are already living in a different time, and that there is no turning back any more.  The American public is finally looking critically at homophobia and its disastrous consequences, and it is only a matter of time before we have a sea change of public opinion.  

LAWRENCE BROSE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND


Brose Lawrence
Brose is an experimental film artist and has created over thirty films since
1983. His films have been shown at international film festivals, museums, art
galleries, and cinematheques in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and
South America. Brose’s most recent film, De Profundis has been greeted with
critical acclaim and has been screened at more than eighty venues and festivals
worldwide since its release. De Profundis is a 65-minute experimental film
based on Oscar Wilde’s prison letter with an original score for the film by the
American composer Frederic Rzewski. In 1989 he began a series of film
collaborations with contemporary composers to explore the relationship between
the moving image and music.

The Issues

The issues here are fundamental: freedom of speech, freedom of
expression, and artistic freedom. The case is precedent-setting, and
will help determine whether anyone exercising their right to free speech
can be criminalized merely for their ideas—a fundamental violation of
the United States Constitution.

The case of Lawrence Brose is a prime example of the contemporary
abuse of power by Homeland Security and the Justice Department. The
charges brought against Brose essentially make engaging a difficult
issue a criminal offense and recall the government’s tactics during the
McCarthy trials of the 1950s. Like that infamous challenge to
Democracy, this case questions how far the government can reach,
unopposed, into artists’ studios, galleries, museums, and even our homes
to silence free speech, thought, and inquiry.

Case For Support

Lawrence Brose is not a criminal, he is an artist, doing what artists
do best: asking difficult questions about our life and times in order
to illuminate a new perspective as we struggle to move forward as a
Deprofundis logo
culture. His experimental cinema has a distinguished track record of
engaging issues that affect the gay community, such as AIDS and
hostility from certain segments of the public. Facing problematical
subjects is precisely the job that people like Brose carry out in our
society – they explore unexamined dilemmas and present them for our
contemplation. It is truly tragic to see him attacked with the blunt,
and misguided legalistic weapon of pornography prosecution.

Lawrence Brose is working in a well-established tradition of image
appropriation, drawing specifically on images of masculinity in home
movies, old films, Gay erotica and documentaries. Brose collects found
still images, which he then processes and re-processes to find more
depth in the picture, producing complex layers of imagery that are
highly conceptual and offer a poignant commentary on normative
conventions of gender and sexuality. The final product is as abstract as
the paintings of Willem de Kooning, and a seizure of source material
entirely misrepresents the final outcome.

As experimental filmmakers Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol before him,
Brose’s work pushes the envelope to create space for new expression.
For our society to remain open and vibrant, the answer is not to
criminalize that space for investigation, but rather to welcome it into
the marketplace of free ideas for examination.

The case against Lawrence Brose demonstrates an inappropriate
application of laws intended to protect children, and in the process
victimizes an experimental artist seeking to comment on societal woes.
The fact that he is under indictment for using images made by others to
examine the taboos that the laws are meant to prevent–is as
overreaching as it is troubling. It is so far from the intent of the
law, that it serves only to create a climate of fear. The result is
censorship and a chilling effect on the free expression of all artists
and all people. Censorship of this nature, and in all of its many forms,
occupies a realm of self-righteous presumption that abjures complexity
and results only in contradiction. It is very important that as
individuals living in a democratic society, we contribute to and speak
out openly in Brose’s defense, in essence defending our own lives and
our fundamental rights to think, work, and create freely.

This is the first time a case of this nature will be taken to trial.
It is important to note that Brose was not searching for the alleged
images nor is he accused of producing, distributing, buying or selling
pornography. This suit will be a protracted and expensive ordeal; one
that will have a profound impact on all artists. Your support is
greatly needed and much appreciated.

This website has been published by friends, colleagues and supporters
of Lawrence Brose, an artist and arts curator who has recently been
alleged to possess purportedly illicit digital images. One hundred of
the listed images are film frames from his highly acclaimed film De
Profundis
, based on Oscar Wilde's prison writing. The purpose of the
website is to attest to Lawrence’s innocence, to provide a forum for
testimony on his behalf, and, importantly, to collect funds needed for
his legal defense.

We are in the process of collecting testimony from individuals, many
of whom are artists, academics and curators significant to the fields of
art and culture.

The Lawrence Brose Legal Defense Fund is a Class A Non-Profit
Corporation registered with the State of New York. Donations are not
tax deductible.
To donate please send a check payable to "Lawrence Brose
Legal Defense Fund" and mail your check to PO BOX 501, Callicoon, NY
12723. Please see the Donate Now page for additional information. Or make a donation using Paypal.

Argentina: Same-Sex Marriage Among the Carnivores

Argentina_flag The
Argentine Republic’s legalization of same-sex marriage July 15 came as
a complete surprise to those of us who think of Argentina as the land of

machismo, meat-eaters – Argentines are the world's biggest carnivores,
consuming
70 kilos (154 lbs.) of beef per person – and military coups.  According
to
Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia” (1998),
“Argentinians
endured some of the most brutal campaigns of official and unofficial
persecution
of lesbians and gay men anywhere in the 20th century.” After the
military
coup of March 24, 1976, “some 400 gay men were ‘disappeared’ – kidnapped,

barbarically tortured, and executed . . . Encouraged by Roman Catholic
church
leaders, the dictatorship raided and closed gay bars, arresting as many
as 1,400
men in a particularly brutal 1978 campaign that took place on the eve of
the
World Cup soccer tournament in Buenos Aires.  In 1982 and 1983, the last

two years of the dictatorship, paramilitary groups assassinated a number
of gay
men working in the arts. . . .”  But with the re-establishment of
democracy in the 1990s, “Buenos Aires emerged . . . as the gay capital
of South
America, with vocal rights organizations and a lively gay and lesbian
media
presence.”

 
Argentina’s stormy past and promising present makes it uniquely
qualified
to lead Latin America in the field of LGBT rights and equality. Civil
unions are already recognized in Buenos Aires (2002), the Province of
Argentina-Gay-Marriage-300x231
Rio Negro
(2003) and the cities of Villa Carlos Paz (2007) and Rio Cuarto (2009). On
November 12, 2009 a Buenos Aires court approved the marriage of Alex
Freyre and
José Maria Bello.  (Though the Buenos Aires government blocked the
wedding,
the two men were married on December 28 in Ushuaia, in Tierra del
Fuego.) 
In late 2009 the Argentine Congress took up a bill to change Article 172
of the
Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage. The Chamber of Deputies
approved
the measure on May 5 and the Senate on July 15.  President Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner, a friend of the LGBT community, ratified the
measure,
which took effect a few days later.
 
"From today onward, Argentina is a more just and democratic
country," said
Maria Rachid, president of the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender
Federation. The law "not only recognizes the rights of our families, but
also
the possibility of having access to health care, to leave a pension, to
leave
our assets to the people with whom we have shared many years of life,
including
our children," she said.
 
It was a hard-earned victory, and Argentina’s LGBT community is
right to
celebrate it.  But it would be a mistake to think that Argentina has
become
a queer paradise.  For one thing, machismo is still rampant in
Argentina maradona that
country. Diego Maradona (left), Argentina’s soccer god, reacted the way many
Argentinian men would when a reporter at the World Cup – where Maradona
coached
the Argentinian Team – seemed to question Maradona’s fondness for his
players. “No, I have not gone limp wristed," Maradona protested,
vehemently.  “But I like to acknowledge and congratulate my players when

they play as well as they did today. That was a pleasing result and
display. It
was a job well done. I still prefer women. I am dating Veronica, who is
blond
and 31 years old." Though Maradona never misses an opportunity to
remind
us he’s a jerk, his eyebrow-raising reaction to a reporter’s innocent
question
indicates that not everything is peachy-keen down Argentine way.

 
Nor is Argentina’s legalization of same-sex marriage approved
throughout
the land. What goes well in Buenos Aires might not go well in the
countryside, where folks are more religious, macho, and carnivorous. The
same-sex marriage bill was hotly opposed by the Roman Catholic, Mormon
and
evangelical churches, which organized a 60,000-person march on Congress
to
protest the measure. The Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge
Mario
Bergoglio, led the fight against same-sex marriage, saying that
"children need
to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a
mother."  Another opponent, Senator Juan Perez Alsina, called
marriage between a man and a woman "essential for the preservation of
the
species."  Opponents tried to derail the measure by proposing a weak
civil
unions law as an alternative to “gay marriage,” but they were blocked by
astute
parliamentary maneuvers.  “I'm proud that we never tried for civil
unions,
always for complete equality," said Esteban Paulon, the LGBT
Federation's
general secretary.
 
The legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina, makes it the
tenth
country in the world to legalize “gay marriage.”  (The others are
Belgium,
Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain
and
Sweden). It also puts to shame the United States, where the Defense
Of Marriage Act is on the books and a majority of states have
constitutional
amendments barring same-sex marriage. “Today's historic vote shows how
far
Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic
values, and
how far the freedom-to-marry movement has come, as 12 countries on four
continents now embrace marriage equality," said Evan Wolfson, Executive
Director
of Freedom to Marry. “America should lead, not lag, when it comes to
treating everyone equally under the law." Perhaps it helps that
Argentina’s religious lobby is not as powerful as the one in the States,
or that
opposition to same-sex marriage is not a cornerstone of one of its major

political parties, as it is with the Republican Party in the U.S.  Here
we
have a long way to go before we catch up to the “carnivores” of the
Argentine
Republic.

 
Jesse Monteagudo (jessemonteagudo@aol.com)
is a
South-Florida based freelance writer. Jesse thanks Daniel Curzon, author
of the
1978 gay novel “Among the Carnivores,” for inspiring the title of this
article.

Damned Straight


10th amendment

The
Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) to the United States Constitution, which
is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. The Tenth
Amendment restates the Constitution's principle of federalism by providing that
powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states by
the Constitution of the United States are reserved to the states or the people.

In
an enormous victory for marriage equality, a federal judge in Boston, Thursday,
July 8th, ruled, in two separate cases, that a critical part of the
federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

In
one challenge brought by the state of Massachusetts, Judge Joseph Tauro ruled
that Congress violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it
passed DOMA and took from the states decisions concerning which couples can be
considered married. In the other, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, he
ruled DOMA violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Due Process
Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Taking Names…Civic Courage

Supreme_court_building People who sign petitions calling for public votes on controversial
subjects don't have an automatic right to hide their names, the Supreme
Court ruled Thursday as it sided against Washington state voters worried
about harassment because of their desire to repeal that state's gay
rights law.

The high court
ruled against Protect Marriage Washington, which organized a petition
drive for a public vote to repeal the state's "everything-but-marriage"
gay rights law.

Petition signers wanted to hide their names because
of worries of intimidation. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
San Francisco refused to keep their names secret. The Supreme Court
stepped in and temporarily blocked release of the names until the high court could
make a decision.

The court now says disclosing names on a petition for
a public referendum does not chill the signer's freedom of speech
enough to warrant overturning the state's disclosure law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the 8-1 judgment
for the court, said it is vitally important that states be able to
ensure that signatures on referendum petitions are authentic. Only one member of the Court, Justice Alito, affirmatively
indicated his belief that petitioners’ have a strong argument for an
exemption from Washington’s disclosure law because of the potential for
“threats, harassment and reprisals.”  ven Justice Scalia, one of the
Court’s core conservative members, concluded in his concurrence that,
“[r]equiring people to stand up in public for their political acts
fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”

Building Connections & Community for Gay Men since 1989