Category Archives: Friends

Looking for a Map

Our friend, White Crane contributor, and author of Stonewall: The Riot That Sparked The Gay Revolution, David Carter sends this…

Dear Friends, The first rough cut of the full-length PBS film on the Stonewall Riots — now one and a half hours longStonewallHRDCVR — is close to being assembled and we are looking for era maps of Greenwich Village to use in the film. 

I will make inquiries at the usual and obvious archives and collections, but we all know that one can't assume that one will find the best such map in any one collection … and that any friend who either lived in New York at the time or has moved here since and who loves the Village might have a much better map than even New York's most famous archives might own: so if any of you happen to own a map that was made in the late 1960s or early 1970s of Greenwich Village, especially one that is detailed or features the area around the Stonewall Inn, and you would be happy to share it with the world in an American Experience documentary … please let me know.  The filmmakers are on deadline for submission of the rough cut to a film festival and need a PDF of such a map ASAP … they'd like to receive the PDF this coming week if possible.

If you have a map that they can use and can help, please contact David at or the editors at White Crane at

Obama and the GLBT Community: A Reason to March?

Obama sticker Last year, after the election of Barack Obama (whom I supported), I predicted that Obama “is likely to disappoint us the way that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did before.” This was not meant as an indictment of Obama but as a reality check: Presidents inevitably disappoint those who voted for them, if only because, as President of the United States, they have to serve everyone and not just their supporters.
It is barely six months after Obama’s inauguration, and disappointment has set in. Big time. Though Lesbians, Gay men, bisexuals and transgender people are not the only ones who the president has disillusioned – antiwar activists and civil libertarians also feel betrayed – we are the ones who seem to be making the most noise lately. In fact, the chorus of queer Obama critics has grown to encompass a “who’s who” of the GLBT community: John Aravoris, Wayne Besen, David Ehrenstein, Kate Kendell, Geoff Kers, David Mixner, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, Richard Socarides, Andrew Sullivan…. 
If nothing else, the Obama administration has united us.
Dontask What has Obama done for us lately? He has appointed out Lesbians and Gay men to various government positions, most prominently John Berry as Director of the Office of Personnel Management. And he signed a proclamation declaring the month of June to be LGBT Pride Month. Meanwhile, Obama asked the homophobic Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration; failed to fulfill his promise to repeal “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” and the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA); has allowed the military to continue its routine discharge of open or outed service members; has failed to lift the ban on HIV-positive visitors or immigrants (which Congress authorized him to do); and did nothing to push the equally do-nothing, Democratic Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) or the hate crimes bill. And, adding insult to injury, Obama’s Justice Department recently went to court to actually defend DOMA, using language that one would expect from the George W. Bush administration.
In all fairness, Obama and his administration probably mean well. And they certainly have a lot on their plate: the economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, North Korea, health care, energy, the environment . . ..  Even with all his faults, the president is a vast improvement over his predecessor. He certainly did not expect the barrage of criticism that was hurled at him by an outraged GLBT community. As if the verbal assaults did not get the message across, the decision by wealthy gays not to support a recent Democratic National Committee fundraiser certainly did. (Nothing speaks louder to politicians than money, or the lack thereof.) John Berry did not help matters any when he told The Advocate that Obama plans to fulfill his promises “before the sun sets on this administration.”
The president was quick to react to this unexpected wave of attacks. He signed a presidential memorandum that extended some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, though not health care benefits (because of DOMA). His administration, on behalf of the federal government, apologized to Dr. Frank Kameny for firing him in 1957. More tellingly, the administration decided not to appeal a ruling that awarded $500,000 to a Library of Congress employee who lost her job when she transitioned from male to female. 
Finally, Obama invited GLBT community leaders to attended a White House reception to observe the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. About 300 big shots attended the reception, while an undetermined number (who I presume include some of Obama’s noisiest critics) rejected their invites. At the reception, the president showered his famous charm upon the assembly, asking them to be patient, restating his support for GLBT rights and promising to work to abolish both “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and DOMA and to push for passage of ENDA, the hate crimes bill and the Domestic Partner Benefits & Obligations Act.
Meetonthemall Obama’s critics were not satisfied. In fact, Obama’s gestures (or lack thereof) only encouraged activists who are pushing for a fifth GLBT March on Washington. (The first four were held in 1979, 1987, 1993 and 2000.)  Cleve Jones, best known as an associate of the late Harvey Milk and the creator of the AIDS Quilt, called for a March to be held on October 11, National Coming Out Day and the 30th Anniversary of the original March. “We seek nothing more and nothing less than equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states,” Jones said. At least, a March will give us the opportunity to tell Obama what we think of him as we walk past the White House.
I first met Cleve Jones in 1980, when he was the Grand Marshall (with Barbara Grier) of Miami’s Gay Pride March, and I have long admired his work as a gay and AIDS activist. I attended Marches on Washington in 1979, 1987 and 1993; where I met lots of people and had a great time. Sadly, in my opinion, marches on Washington do not accomplish much, other than allowing us to network, express ourselves and, of course, party hearty. We have a lot of work cut out for us, but it is mostly on the state and local levels. Though we must continue to keep the Obama Administration's collective feet to the fire, the current political and economic climates are not right for a nationwide protest. (I certainly can’t afford to fly to D.C. at this time and neither can many others.) Of course, I could be wrong, and I invite you to write me a note and try to convince me otherwise.
Jesse Monteagudo is a regular contributor to and a South Florida-based freelance writer and activist. Write him at

Gay: A recent history…from Arthur Evans

Whatever happened to the word “Gay”? If you go down to the Community Center on Market Street in San Francisco, you’ll have to look long and hard until you find it. Likewise if you visit the Historical Center on Castro Street. Not to mention that it fell out of the term “Pride Week” a long time ago.

The situation reminds me of the pre-Stonewall era. Many in our community in those days were embarrassed by the word. They balked when new groups appeared calling themselves the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. But these were the groups that triggered the Gay revolution.

Rainbow Flag After Stonewall, politicians eventually deigned to talk to us, but some still choked on the word “Gay.” I remember how this reticence infuriated Chris Perry, a founder of the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club.

In the late 1970s, Chris got the club to go after Quentin Kopp, a local politician, because he couldn’t bring himself to utter the word in public. Ironically, that group today calls itself the San Francisco LGBT Democratic Club. The word has shrunk to a letter, and in second place.

The taboo on the word “Gay” developed because lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people saw the word as referring only to homosexual males. However, such a limitation was never intended. In effect, we let the popular media take a word away from us and redefine it for their own purposes, diminishing us all in the process.

Ganymede - Rubens Some academicians have added to the problem. They claim that the word with its present double meaning of both cheerful and homosexual doesn’t go back before the 19th century. Apparently, they never heard of the myth of Ganymede, the beloved of Zeus. In ancient Greek, the word “Ganymede” (Ganumedes) means both cheerful and homosexual, just like our word “Gay.” Both words come from a common Indo-European root (ga-).

The word “queer,” which has supplanted “Gay” in some quarters, is an insult. It means odd or unnatural. But there is nothing odd or unnatural about being Gay. Homophobia is the thing that’s odd and unnatural.

I acknowledge the right of other people to call themselves GLBT, or G, or queer, if they want to. But please don’t dump any those terms on me. I’m still Gay and proud.

Yours for gay liberation, Arthur Evans

March On Washington – 2009 Edition

It's time to march again. Enough "parades"…

…Enough with fair-weather politicians who take our money, march in our celebrations and then screw us in the back room (and not in a good way) or tell us to be patient. No action? No money. The idea I like best, so far, is sending a check, made out to the Democratic National Committee with the amount $0.00 filled in and in the memo: DUMP DOMA! DUMP DADT!

And what better way to celebrate Gay Pride Month, forty years after the Stonewall riots, than by signing up to go to Washington in October and demanding action? And as my friend David Mixner is suggesting, we all need to bring a straight friend — or two — with us. Sign up now. Sign up here.

March on Washington 2009

Remembering Stonewall – Arthur Evans

We got a nice note from our friend, philosopher, playwright and rabblerouser, Arthur Evans:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Stonewall Riot, which initiated the modern phase of the gay liberation movement, occurred at a Manhattan gay bar forty years ago this June.StoneWallInn

Other gay riots occurred before Stonewall, but they were flashes in the pan. Stonewall was unique because its energy persisted in various organizational forms for decades. This fusion of new energy with organizational continuity is what triggered the gay revolution.

Unfortunately, I missed the Stonewall Riot itself. However, I was deeply involved in two groups that it generated: the Gay Liberation Front (G.L.F), and the Gay Activists Alliance (G.A.A.), the second of which I helped create.

In those days, politicians avoided us, the media derided us, members of the clergy called us sinful, and psychiatrists said we were sick. The same was true of even the most liberal elements of society.

For example, Carol Greitzer was the city council member for Greenwich Village and a leader of the most liberal Democratic club in the state. Yet she refused to accept, or even touch, a simple petition calling for basic civil rights for gay people.

The Village Voice, one of the most liberal newspapers in the U.S., refused to accept any ad that appealed to gay people. The New York Times refused to use the word “gay” in its news reports.

In sum, we were excluded from both civil society and the body politic. Which meant we had to elbow our way in. And so we did, using “zaps.”

These were vociferous, but nonviolent, personal confrontations with homophobes. Zaps combined theatricality, humor, and impassioned eloquence. G.A.A., in particular, at the instigation of Marty Robinson, perfected zaps into an art form.

For example, Herman Katz, the City Clerk, was responsible for issuing marriage licenses in New York. One day in 1970, out of the blue, he made scornful comments to the press about the very idea of same-sex marriage.

Wedding Cake So Marc Rubin and Pete Fisher of G.A.A. organized a take-over Katz’s office. With Marc and Pete in the lead, about a dozen of us suddenly appeared in Katz’s inner sanctum, bearing a big wedding cake with two same-sex figurines on top.

We gave coffee and donuts to the clerical staff. Pete strummed his guitar, while the rest of us sang enthusiastically about the delights of gay romance.

I took over the phones and told callers that the office was only giving marriage licenses that day to gay couples. “Are you a homosexual?” I asked one nonplussed caller. “No? Well then, you’re out of luck. Try New Jersey.”

Naturally, the police came and took us away. But the spectacle, which had been witnessed by the press, made engaging news copy.

Because of highly publicized zaps like this, hundreds of gay men and women who had been closeted were inspired to step out into the light and join the struggle.

Thanks to the lasting consequences of the Stonewall Riot, it is now possible for politicians in some parts of the nation to be openly gay. In fact, in places like San Francisco, being openly gay can help build a career in politics.

Which is a good thing. But I hope we never forget the sassy attitude of the Stonewall era to all people in authority, including even gay politicians.

Stonewall means having a sense of self worth, thinking for yourself, and taking on all the bullies.

Yours for gay liberation,
Arthur Evans

Save Radical Religious Terrorists…Win Valuable Prizes


Cathy Renna has alerted us that New York is about to be slimed.

Apparently Congregation Beth Simchat Torah will be subjected to the blandishments of Kansas bigot, Fred ("God Hates You") Phelps and the inbred members of his Westboro congregation family, this Sunday.

Led by Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church is a hatemongering organization known most widely for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, for their protests at the funerals of servicemen killed in Iraq, and most recently, for protesting at the funeral of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, the security officer killed at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington.

Inspired by a gift from fine furniture magnate, Mitchell Gold, CBST will be participating, as many other LGBT organizations have, in a fundraising effort to counteract the attacks by this group.

10 dollar bill Gold has pledged $10 per minute that the Westboro Baptist Church representatives are picketing. Their presence will benefit us! We can tell them each minute how much they are raising for the GLBT community!!

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah requests that if you have a tallit (a prayer shawl, usually worn at Shabbat morning services and whenever the Torah is recited) please bring it.

The also request that if you would like to make colorful signs, please consider using:

"We are all created in God's image"
"God loves all of us"
"God made me gay"

…and similar messages

8:45 AM on Sunday, June 21st at our Bethune location.

I'd like to suggest some other colorful signage:

"Your God seems awfully testy." or "Your God is not my God…get over it." or "Maybe Your God Needs Some Anger Management Counseling."

So…$10 a minute…times 60 minutes per hour is $600…I say let's see how long we can keep them there…

Rise Up and Shout!

RISEUP_FILM_POSTER_Small Got some good news in the morning email (almost called it "the post" which has a whole new meaning now) from psychotherapist and filmmaker, Brian Gleason, who works so hard in Los Angeles.

Some of you may be familiar with the Rise Up & Shout! project with which White Crane has been associated. It started in Los Angeles, with people like Brian, Malcolm Boyd, Don Kilhefner, Mark Thompson (I'm leaving out many, may other names of people…this kind of thing takes dozens of people…just don't have them in front of me as I write. I'll find them and include them later, promise) working with young GLBT people in L.A. to produce a talent show showcasing their various and sundry talents.

More importantly, it offered young GLBT people a chance to come in contact with elder GLBT people and let the intergenerational transfer of wisdom and experience mingle with the exuberance and freshness of youth. The first Rise Up & Shout, was a live stage production at the Barnsdall Park theater, directed by award-winning Broadway director, Jim Pentacost, and benefited White Crane, among others. And it was filmed by Brian Gleason.

That film will now receive the wider audience it deserves when it is aired on the Sundance Channel, later this month. The schedule is:

Mon 06/22/09 9:00PM       Sat 06/27/09 3:35PM       Sun 06/28/09 06:40AM

This is MUST SEE TELEVISION folks! Stirring, inspiring, touching. Worth getting cable for, even.

Check your local listings, as they say, for airtimes in your area.