Category Archives: Current Affairs

The Maine Idea

Boies "Basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be  no need for a constitution."  – David Boies

Ventura "You can't put a civil rights issue on the ballot and let the people decide. You have to have elected officials who have courage to make the right decision. If you left it up to the people, we'd have slavery, depending on how you worded it." – Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, responding to Maine's vote on CNN.

Bea Arthur: Hero

Bea The Ali Forney Center in New York City, received a gift of $300,000 today, from the Estate of 
legendary actress Bea Arthur.
The Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless 
LGBT youth, announced at Bea Arthur's Memorial Service on September 14th that 
they planned to purchase a building to house 12 youths and name it her honor. 
"We work with hundreds of young people who are rejected by their families 
because of who they are. We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that 
LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person, and that 
she placed so much value in the work we do to protect them, and to help them 
rebuild their lives." says Executive Director Carl Siciliano.
The Ali Forney Center offers emergency shelter and transitional housing in seven residential sites in NYC 
and operates two drop-in centers offering food, clothing, medical and mental health treatment, HIV testing, 
treatment and prevention services, and vocational and educational assistance. It provides 
services to over 1000 young people each year.

Schwarzenegger Does the Right Thing…

Milk 2 It's amazing what can be accomplished when a Governor needs to court votes. Late last night, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Harvey Milk Day, out-of-state marriages bill and domestic violence protection bill.

However, Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 1185 (Lieu), which Equality California legislative director, Alice Kessler described as “a simple bill allowing better access to birth certificates for transgender people.” He also vetoed AB 382 (Ammiano), which would have established protections for LGBT prisoners, which he said was “unnecessary.”

The Harvey Milks Day bill - AB 2567  requires “the governor proclaim May 22 each year as Harvey Milk Day. It would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.” It does not make it a state holiday.

Buy Pepsi!

Pepsi bottle A group of religious conservatives, ever vigilant for another group or entity at which to wag a collective, scolding finger, have ratcheted up rhetoric aimed squarely at PepsiCo for its alleged support of "the homosexual agenda." 

The American Family Association, which has been promoting a boycott of Pepsi since January, said in a statement Tuesday it has secured more than 500,000 signatures from those pledging to stop buying Pepsi products, which include soft drinks, salty snacks, juices and oatmeal (as if there were anything less wholesome than oatmeal, for chrissake).

AFA's beef with Pepsi is for what it calls the company's financial support of groups promoting the "homosexual agenda." AFA points to two gay-rights groups in particular: Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, better known by the acronym PFLAG

PepsiCo didn't respond to queries about the boycott, or whether it donates to these groups. But it does note on its website that it earned a top score, 100 percent, in HRC's 2009 Corporate Equality Index, an annual measure of gay-friendly employment policies. PepsiCo achieved the same score in the 2010 index, along with 305 other companies, according to HRC. PFLAG notes on its site that PepsiCo is among its corporate sponsors.

AFA will continue the boycott for as long as PepsiCo continues to support "a lifestyle that is extremely unhealthy and dangerous," said the group's president, Tim Wildmon, in a statement.

The Pepsi boycott seems to be having some effect within the Christian conservative community. Last month, the Westboro Baptist Church, of "God hates fags" fame, protested in downtown Atlanta with signs that read "God hates Diet Pepsi."

One question: Where's Coke?

Oh…and we should still tax "juice drinks" and soda as a means to support universal healthcare.

Defend Harry Hay’s Reputation at the National Equality March

As thousands of LGBT activists prepare to march on Washington, Harry Hay, one of the most important and beloved founders of the modern gay movement, is being used by right wing extremists as a bogeyman to destroy the career of Kevin Jennings, the Obama Administration's highly qualified Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. 
Most recently Sean Hannity has mounted the
Harry Hay is being branded as a pederast and anyone who has ever spoken praise of Harry is being condemned as a supporter of pederasty. 
As one of the six heirs to the Estate of Harry Hay and John Burnside, I feel it incumbent upon myself to defend his reputation against the attacks that have become a staple of those members of the right-wing establishment who are bent on destabilizing the Obama Adminstration and destroying the careers of members of his administration through guilt by association. 

Let us make it clear: 



Harry n John - LaCresta - Timmons His defense of the organization at several points in his 90-year history of speaking truth to power was based on his experiences as a young teenager exploring the world of sexuality with older men, himself being the aggressor. These experiences were very positive for the young Harry and are described in Stuart Timmons’ excellent biography, The Trouble With Harry Hay. There are no records of the adult Mr. Hay ever having had sexual relations with under-aged youth. It is also innacurate to say, as it is frequently written, that NAMBLA promotes the “legalization of sexual abuse of young boys by older men.” Hay agreed with NAMBLA that in many cases initiation into sexuality, as has been the case across cultures and millenia, is better suited to those with experience than with other youth who also have no knowledge of the complexities and responsibilities of sexuality. Hay also concurred with NAMBLA that age of consent laws are out of step with the age of sexual awakening and exploration. Harry Hay’s ideas concerning youth and sexuality were based on his desire to protect youth, not to exploit and abuse them. 
The second instance of his defense of NAMBLA was in 1994 at Stonewall 25: Spirit of Stonewall March in New York City. ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association had been granted NGO status by the UN theprevious year. As a result, the US Senate unanimously passed a motion sponsored by the right-wing senator Jesse Helms that the USA would withhold funds of more than 118 million dollars due to the UN and its sub-organizations unless the President of the USA could certify to the Congress that no agency of the United Nations "grants any official status, accreditation or recognition to any organization which promotes, condones or seeks the legalization of pedophilia or which includes as a subsidiary or member any such organization." On June 23, the week of the march, NAMBLA was expelled from ILGA, on the motion of the executive committee, and it was decided that "groups or associations whose predominant aim is to support or promote pedophilia are incompatible with the future development of ILGA." Hay felt that if the emerging gay movement allowed the outside to define it, outside forces would then control it. It was in this context that Hay was critical of ILGA’s position and stood in defense of NAMBLA. We again stand at a similar crossroads. 
It is morally and intellectually dishonest and patently false to reduce the life and work of Harry Hay to one of pederasty. He was a courageous hero who pioneered the movement for the equal rights of an entire class of people denied the basic civil rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the United States of America. A Dutch friend who spent some of his youth in a Japanese Concentration Camp in Indonesia told me recently that if Americans remain silent at this critical juncture in our history we will live to regret it. 
Speak out. Defend the reputation of our beloved Harry Hay. 
Bo and Cove Robert Croonquist aka Covelo 
(Seen on the left with friend, and White Crane publisher, Bo Young, right.)

Jesse’s Journal

Gay Bar Raids: A Double Standard at Work


As long as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people gathered together in urban areas, there have been gay bars. And as long as there have been gay bars, there have been bar raids. Since the beginning, governments have used their power to regulate businesses that sell liquor to go after sexual or gender minorities who they considered to be sick, immoral and/or illegal. Until the 1960s, it was against the law for taverns to employ or serve homosexuals, which made gay bars illegal. Even after the laws were abolished, law enforcement agencies continued to find excuses to raid gay bars. Sometimes, GLBT people fought back, as we did 40 years ago at the Stonewall Inn.

Today, police no longer raid gay bars just for being gay, and the laws that regulate behavior in pubs and clubs apply equally to all. However, while all bars are the same in the eyes of the law, enforcement of the law often differs. If there is a state or local law that regulates “vice” in places that sell liquor, it’s more likely to be enforced against gay bars than against straight bars. There is a double standard at work, if only because many law enforcement officers share their society’s prejudices, including homophobia.
During the last few months, several gay bars in the Southern United States have been the target of


 organized bar raids. Though the various raids have nothing to do with one another, they indicate that, at least in the Southland, homophobia is alive and well and often wears a uniform. On June 28, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas was raided by agents of the Fort Worth Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). Though the raid was described as a “routine check,” it led to seven arrests for public intoxication and a patron in intensive care with a head injury.  Later the Forth Worth police explained its behavior by claiming a “gay panic” defense to sexual harassment on the part of the Rainbow’s gay patrons, a ridiculous response that no one took seriously.

Two weeks later (July 10), TABC agents raided the Eagle in Dallas. Though the raid was not as spectacular as the one in Fort Worth, agents shut down the Eagle for having an incorrect address on its liquor license. Never mind that the Eagle had been operating legally for years at the “wrong” address, which happened to be a few yards from the current location. The law is the law, especially when it applies to gay bars.
In all fairness to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which enjoys one of the largest and most active GLBT communities in the south, recent bar raids are not solely a Texas phenomenon. On September 6 Backstreet in Memphis Tennessee was raided by undercover Memphis police officers, which led to the closing of that city’s largest gay dance club and the arrest of Backstreet owner Shane Trice. Undercover officers claim that they witnessed illegal drug sales, illegal alcohol sales, and gambling inside the club on at least six occasions. Trice was arrested and charged with aggravated gambling promotion, storage of liquor for sale, possession of gambling device, and unlawful sale of alcohol while three of his bartenders were issued citations for selling alcohol after permitted hours. Trice hotly denies these allegations, arguing that he and his bar have always complied with the law. But, meanwhile, Backstreet remains shut.
Four days later (September 10), the Atlanta Eagle was raided. (Many gay bars share common names like the Eagle or Backstreet, though happily not in the same town.) Atlanta Police officers detained 62 Eagle employees and patrons and made them lie on the floor while the cops searched them and conducted background checks. The cops then arrested eight bar employees and underwear-clad dancers for providing “adult entertainment” without a license. Witnesses claimed that the officers were overly aggressive, making anti-gay slurs and threatening them with violence. The APD claims that the raid was in response to reports of drug sales and backroom sex, but no one was arrested on drug or sex charges.  That this happened in Atlanta was an outrage, since Atlanta has the South’s most diverse and politically-active GLBT community.

Gay Freedom

Why so many gay bar raids? Some critics claim there is more than meets the eye. Andrew Sullivan thinks the raids are part of a recent wave of conservative attacks against the Obama Administration and all the changes that it brought in its wake. I don’t agree. Gay bar raids remain popular because GLBT people and our social hangouts continue to be despised by a large segment of our population. To a hard-working police officer, raiding a gay bar is relatively easy, Stonewall notwithstanding, and relatively violence-free. Unlike “straight” bars, where fights are an almost nightly occurrence, gay bars are notorious for their lack of violence. In spite of this, gay bars continue to be raided at a higher rate than their nongay counterparts. But the law is the law, police spokespeople continue to tell us, and the cops are only trying to enforce it. They may be right. I only wish that police officers would crack down on antigay violence with half of the zest that they employ to enforce liquor license violations.

Jesse Monteagudo ( is a South Florida-based, gay author and activist.

Emile Norman 1918 – 2009

EmilenormanEmile Norman (pictured here, front, with his late life partner, Brooks Clement), a sculptor, jewelry artist, and mosaicist whose most well-known work is the massive mosaic and sculpture adorning the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco, died in Monterey last Thursday. He was 91. 




Since 1946, Norman lived and worked at his studio-home in Big Sur on Pfeiffer Ridge — where he lived and worked with his partner Brooks Clement until Clement’s death in 1973 from cancer. Up to the end of his life, Norman lived and worked at his ranch in Big Sur, along with his managers who helped take care of him.

Norman is the subject of a 2008 PBS documentary, Emile Norman: By His Own Design, a wonderful tribute to this eccentric and lovely artist.