Category Archives: Friends

Some things to think about…

This is from my old friend, David Mixner:

  • -If you’re a minority and you’re selected for a job over more qualified candidates you’re a "token hire."
    -If you’re a conservative and you’re selected for a job over more qualified candidates you’re a "game changer."
  • -Black teen pregnancies? A "crisis" in black America.
    -White teen pregnancies? A "blessed event."
  • -If you name you kid Barack you’re "unpatriotic."
    -Name your kid Track, you’re "colorful."
  • -If you’re a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you’re an irresponsible parent, endangering the life of your unborn child.
    -But if you’re a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you’re spunky.
  • -If you’re a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you "First dog."
    -If you’re a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you "beautiful" and "courageous."
  • -If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.
    -If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
  • -If you kill an endangered species, you’re an excellent hunter.
    -If you have an abortion you’re not a Christian, you’re a murderer (forget about if it happens while being date raped.)
  • -If you grow up in Hawaii you’re "exotic."
    -Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you’re the quintessential "American story."
  • -If you’re a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you’re "reckless."
    -A Republican who doesn’t fully vet is a "maverick."
  • – If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an "arrogant celebrity".
    -If you are a popular Republican female candidate you are "energizing the base".
  • -If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are "presumptuous".
    -If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a "shoot from the hip" maverick.
  • -If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree you are "an elitist-out of touch" with the real America.
    – If you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Annapolis, with multiple disciplinary infractions you are a "hero."
  • – If you strategize and manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign defeating more tenured politicians, you are an "empty suit".
    -If you were a part time mayor of a town of 7000 people, you are an "experienced executive".
  • -If you go to a largely African American south side Chicago church, your beliefs are "extremist".
    – If you believe in creationism, don’t believe global warming is affected by human activity, and see the Iraq invasion as "a mission from God", you are "strongly principled".
  • -If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years and raised 2 beautiful daughters, you’re "risky".
    -If you left your wife after cheating on her with a rich heiress, whom you married the next month, you’re a Christian.
  • -If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 3 years in the United States Senate representing a state of almost 13 million people, sponsoring 129 bills and cosponsoring 545 bills, and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you are "inexperienced".
  • -If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, have traveled to 3 foreign countries, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard of 4,000 members, you are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia then you’ve got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket.

…you know….just askin’…

This Body Bears History! Notes on Surviving 9/11

Sf_pride I had almost forgotten that today is the seventh anniversary of 9/11. I generally tend to make time to watch the morning news, before I get lost in the world of queer and migration theory. Somehow this morning my body was just not up for watching the news! It was like subconsciously, I did not want to remind myself of those dark days after 9/11. As a brown, materially challenged, Queer, immigrant building a household with another brown-poor-Queer immigrant, surviving the days after 9/11 was nothing short than an act of tremendous of courage, and building collective resistance against an increasingly securitized state.

"Debanuj, wake up! the twin towers have fallen!" David’s voice yelled on the answering machine. Tired from a long night of canvassing in suburban Long Island, I lazily answered the phone, in complete disbelief. "How could it happen? We just saw them last night?" I cried. The first thing that flashed across my mind was "My green-card application is fucked!". Frantically I dialed work, asking how much was in my paycheck for the last two weeks. Because there was no way in hell, as a brown fag, I would canvass in Long Island after the forced castration of collective US consciousness. Only a few months ago several day-laborers were brutally bashed by racist white men in Long Island.

The days that followed were days of intense pain, confusion and desperation. Several of our Pakistani friends were attacked on the streets, about eight Queer and trans-gender South-Asian’s (including myself) were beaten up in New York City. Our household, went from a being a dual income household to a single income household. We ate one heavy meal a day, sometimes we would cook community meals in our house, and silently eat, with fear imprinted on our foreheads. Very soon these community gatherings became rife, places to exchange survival tips, notes on what to do if the FBI came knocking on your door, and, most of all, festive with cheap liquor, Salsa and Bhangra music. As we drank, and danced away our fears and pain, in our small but firm ways we announced to each other our zeal to fight and survive!

Several stories have been told about the brave firefighters, our nation’s heroes, and even of the domestic partners of gay bankers who died in the twin towers. Yet, very little is talked about the undocumented Bangladeshi cooks of Windows to the World, or the Mexican women janitors, whose babies were found by their neighbors days after 9/11 lying alone in their Queen’s apartment. Very, little is talked about a neurotic, diseased, intellectual and his sexy, smart Queer friend, who in spite of the fear, anger, pain and bitterness continued their attempts of community building with their meager income, at their uptown Manhattan residence.

Our bodies do not fit the defined parameters of nation-citizenship-sacrifice and war!

Our bodies cross gender, class and national boundaries.

Our bodies lie at the intersections of poverty, queerness, shades of brown, black and yellow in this "land of the free and mighty".

Our bodies inhabit spaces that fall through the cracks of security-states and biometric regimes.

Inherent in our bodies, lie the strong, silent current that disrupts tropes of domination ever day!

Our Bodies, this body of mine bears history!

Pearls Over Shanghai

Dear Lovers of the Sublime and the Ridiculous,

Cockettes Sunday night I saw the Thrillpeddlers, a young and gorgeous San Francisco theater company, perform a revival of the Cockettes’ wacky, sweet "Oriental" musical Pearls Over Shanghai in repertory with Charles Ludlam’s Jack in the Beanstalk.  Both were great.  Pearls was  beautiful.   Fayetta Hauser and Billy Bowers’  created a  visual feast.   It’s not by chance The Cockettes documentary is being screened at the Jeu de Paume for Paris fashion week later in the month with docs about Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.

Scrumbly Koldewyn’s music is lush and gorgeous.  Chris Tanner made a guest appearance to sing Jaded Lady and word has it that Justin Bond will sing it Wednesday.   The show is a surrealist dreamscape that belongs in performanace at MoMA or the Whitney.  The Thrillpeddlers have done 1969 proud.

So come on out for the FINAL PERFORMANCES.

Theodora__limbo_lounge_flyer_small TONITE, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER  9 at  8 p.m., Charles Busch’s THEODORA, SHE BITCH OF BYZANTIUM and the Thrillpeddlers’ BLUE HOUR VARIETY ACTS

Pearls WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 at 8  p.m., the Cockettes’ PEARLS OVER SHANGHAI and Charles Ludlam’s JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

45 BLEEKER THEATER @ Lafayette and Bleeker.

PASS THE WORD.  Tickets are $15 each and well worth it.

A Legend Has Died

It is with great sadness that we report that Del Martin, a pioneering Lesbian rights activist who married her Del_phyllis lifelong partner, Phyllis Lyon on the first day same-sex couples could legally wed in California, has died. Martin was 87. Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, reported that Martin died at a San Francisco hospital Wednesday morning two weeks after a broken arm exacerbated her existing health problems. Kendell says her wife, Phyllis Lyon, was by her side.  Martin is at the right in the picture at the right.

Among the most beloved figures in the Lesbian community, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon got married in San Francisco on February 12, 2004. A couple since 1953, they first earned a spot in queer history by founding the first national Lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis.

From its modest beginnings with eight members in 1955, the Daughters of Bilitis grew into a major force, helping Lesbians meet outside of bars, documenting their lives, and promoting civil rights.

Phyllislyondelmartinmarriage2Perhaps even more significant, the organization published "The Ladder," a national The_ladder_2 newsletter for Lesbians. Phyllis, as editor, assumed an alias for the first three issues before coming out in print with her real name. D.O.B. soon opened chapters in a dozen U.S. cities — and even Melbourne, Australia. Its first national convention, in San Francisco in 1960, was well attended, despite unwanted publicity. Martin and Lyon were involved in issues such as social security, Medicare and social justice for older Americans. Both were appointed delegates to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging. "Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side," Lyon, 83, said in a statement.

"I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married," she added. "I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed."

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of San Francisco, said Del and Phyllis were instrumental in getting Gay marriage legalized.

"We would not have marriage equality in California if it weren’t for Del and Phyllis. They fought and triumphed in many battles," Pelosi said. "Through it all, their love and commitment to each other was an inspiration to all who knew them."

Martin and Lyon were married at City Hall on June 16,  2008. Mayor Gavin Newsom, who officiated the wedding, singled them out to be the first Gay couple to legally exchange vows in the city, in recognition of their long relationship and their status as Gay-rights pioneers.

"The greatest way we can honor the life work of Del Martin, is to continue to fight and never give up, until we have achieved equality for all," Newsom said Wednesday.

Martin…and Lyon…are such seminal figures in Lesbian and Gay history it would be impossible to overstate their contributions. Like Harry Hay and Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, none of us would be where we are, who we are, how we are without their courageous pioneering work. It is a sad day, but hers was a great life and we honor Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon for their lives.

We extend our sincere condolences to Phyllis Lyon and their family and friends.

For a marvelous interview with Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon by Teri Gross on Fresh Air go here.

My nomination for the Democratic Convention keynote address…

HIV/AIDS, for those of you still paying attention, has not gone away. It is ever so slightly treatable still, but thousands are still dying from it, and for many the treatment is as horrible as the disease. Still, I talk with teacher friends…many of whom still remember the horrible deaths of many friends…and they are dumbstruck by how students today simply think HIV/AIDS is a treatable, manageable disease.

Sixteen years ago…what seems like an eternity now, my friend Bob Hattoy addressed the Democratic National Convention. Bob and I used to drive to work together every morning in Los Angeles. He worked for Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. I worked for Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson, back before the idea of West Hollywood as a separate municipality was even a glimmer in a few GLBT eyes. I moved to New York. Hattoy moved into the national political scene and excelled in the two areas that remain singularly important even today: health and ecology (actually, sort of the same thing, really…personal health is personal ecology. World ecology is world health). As regional director for the Sierra Club in Los Angeles, he was noticed by the Clintons, who brought him into their campaign as their environmental counsel.

In this age of "treatable" "manageable" HIV/AIDS, Bob died from complications of HIV/AIDS, as they say, last year. His voice and spirit should be remembered:

A Jihad For Love

Jihad_opening_banner_horiz_2 A Jihad for Love opens in San Francisco and Berkeley on August 22nd at the Landmark Lumiere and Shattuck Theaters! Producer Sandi DuBowski (Director of the award-winning, Trembling Before G-d) and Director/Producer Parvez Sharma will lead Q & A after screenings from Friday, August 22nd – Monday, August 25th.

Landmark’s Lumiere Theatre
1572 California St., San Francisco
(415) 267-4893
Fri-Sun at 2:15, 4:45, 7:00, 9:30;
Mon-Thu at 4:45, 7:00, 9:30
Director/Producer Parvez Sharma
& Producer Sandi DuBowski in person
4:45 & 7:00, Fri 8/22, Sun 8/24, & Mon 8/25
Buy Tickets Online

Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas
2230 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
(510) 464-5980
Daily at 3:05, 5:15, 7:20, 9:35 (valid 8/22-28)
Director/Producer Parvez Sharma & Producer Sandi DuBowski
in person 5:15 & 7:20, Sat 8/23 at Shattuck-Berk
Buy Tickets Online

After Premieres at the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals and in over 20 countries, A Jihad for Love has won five international awards and has inspired a media blitz across the world. Tens of thousands of people have participated in a thought-provoking dialogue about Islam that the film has catalyzed.

Producer, Sandi Dubowski, is a member of the Advisory Board of The White Crane Institute

Compare and Contrast

John McCain’s record on GLBT issues: Johnmccain10_2

  • Against ENDA
  • Against ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • Against the Matthew Shepard Act Hate Crimes Act
  • Against partnership recognition of any kind
  • Against partner immigration rights
  • Against any repeal of DOMA
  • For anti-Gay state constitutional amendments such as those in California, Florida and Arizona
  • Will appoint anti-LGBT judges like Justice Scalia and Alito

Barack_obama Barack Obama’s record on GLBT issues :

Supports ENDA (including protection based on gender identity)

Supports ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Supports the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act

Supports equal benefits for same-sex couples

Supports partner immigration rights

Supports full repeal of DOMA

Against anti-Gay state constitutional amendments such as those in California, Florida and Arizona

Will appoint pro-LGBT judges like Justice Stevens and Ginsburg

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…explain to me again why this is hard?