Category Archives: Gay History

Jesse’s Journal

Dolphin Democrats are South Florida’s oldest, largest and most
successful LGBT political organization. Founded in 1982 by Karl Clark,
Bradshaw, Jamie Bloodworth and other activists, the Dolphins have made
County the most gay-friendly county in a still-homophobic state. Thanks
Dolphin leadership, Broward has both an LGBT-inclusive human rights
and a domestic partners law.  Friendly politicians on both the state and

local levels owe their success to the votes, money and volunteer labor
of the
Dolphin members. Gay activist-politicians like Dean Trantalis, Ken
and Justin Flippen have used the Dolphins as a launching pad for their
careers; and our community has been the better for it.  I have been a
member of the Dolphin Democrats since the early days and have nothing
affection and respect for the women and men who lead that organization.

Democratic-donkey Unquestionably, the Dolphin Democrats are a big success. In fact,
Dolphins areRepublican_elephant too successful; so successful in fact that it’s almost a
given that
any up-and-coming LGBT activist in Broward County would join the
Dolphins as a
matter of course.  Thanks to their success, the Dolphins have sucked the

air out of Broward’s queer political life. There was a time when our
community was led by independent, non-partisan political advocacy
groups like the Broward County Coalition for Human Rights, the Tuesday Night
GUARD (Gays United to Attack Repression and Discrimination) and the
“PAC-PAC.” Today the only alternative we have to the Dolphins are the
equally partisan (but less successful) Log Cabin Republicans and


As a Democrat, I was proud to be part of a community and a state
helped elect Barack Obama President of the United States, along with a
Democratic Congress. Just over a year later, Obama remains popular
but he and his Congress have failed to deliver most of what they
us. Though the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes
Act is now the law of the land, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA) is
going nowhere and both “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and the so-called
Of Marriage Act (DOMA) promise to be around for a long time. (The
“revelation” that the White Houses doesn’t really want DADT repealed
this year
was the last straw for too many activists.) Our community expects more
from this President and this Congress than a few empty gestures or


In all fairness, we are not alone. Each and every group that
hard to elect Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 — anti-war
civil libertarians, environmentalists, feminists, labor unions, racial
ethnic minorities – has had its collective heart broken by the reality
of an
ineffective and incompetent Administration and Congress. Our president
seems to do a better job hosting parties in the White House than pushing
Democrats to pass his agenda. For their part, the “Dems” have missed
opportunity to enact useful reforms because of their distressing
inability to
unite and their disgusting lack of will power. The long-awaited health
care reform bill is a disaster; going from a concept that everyone
favored to a
bill that everyone hates. Unemployment is still high, our men and women

are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cap and trade is still a
long way
off.  Obama and the Democratic Party have disillusioned their friends,
energized their enemies, and alienated independents. he question
right now is not if the Dems will lose seats in Congress come November
whether or not the Republicans will gain enough seats to retake the
House and/or
the Senate. The Republicans are evil but the Democrats are incompetent;

and frankly I’d rather deal with evil than with incompetence.

Like too many other progressives, LGBT activists are sick and tired
being taken for granted by a Democratic Party that takes our votes, our
and our volunteer work and gives us little in return.  Admittedly, the
Republicans (except for Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) have done
nothing to win
our support, being married as they are to homophobic, religious
extremists. However, the fact that GOP is controlled by our enemies is
besides the point; as is the fact that Democratic clubs like the
Dolphins have
done great things for our community. As LGBT activists, our priority is
win equal rights for lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgender
and not to elect politicians of one particular party. If the Obama
Administration and the Democrats in Congress want our support, they are
going to
have to earn it.


Gay Freedom Like too many other progressives, LGBT activists are sick and tired
being taken for granted by a Democratic Party that takes our votes, our
and our volunteer work and gives us little in return.  Admittedly, the
Republicans (except for Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) have done
nothing to win
our support, being married as they are to homophobic, religious
extremists.  However, the fact that GOP is controlled by our enemies is
besides the point; as is the fact that Democratic clubs like the
Dolphins have
done great things for our community. As LGBT activists, our priority is
win equal rights for lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgender
and not to elect politicians of one particular party. If the Obama
Administration and the Democrats in Congress want our support, they are
going to
have to earn it.

Jesse Monteagudo is a regular contributor to White Crane and the GayWisdom blog.

Rock For Equality

Rock for Equality is a national event to demand equal Social Security benefits for LGBT Americans. This year there will be a rally on April 11th in Los Angeles to demand equal benefits for LGBT seniors.

Please join us in raising awareness about one of the most under recognized and harshly consequential issues in the LGBT movement! Join us at

NOH8 Cindy

Noh8  Cindy McCain has posed for an ad released by the NOH8 campaign, a pro-gay-marriage effort that pictures celebrities with their mouths taped shut. McCain appears in the usual format: dressed in white, with "NOH8" painted on her cheek and silver duct tape across her mouth. 

John McCain opposed gay marriage during his 2008 presidential run, and his wife rarely speaks out on particular issues. McCain's office issued a statement saying that the senator respects differences of opinion between his family members, but still "believes the sanctity of marriage is only defined as between one man and one woman."

Or perhaps "between one man and one woman who thinks her husband is an idiot."?

WC81 – Thompson & Kilhefner on 1st Radical Faerie Gathering


Mark Thompson &  Don Kilhefner On the
30th Anniversary of the First Radical Faerie Gathering

Authors and community elders, Mark Thompson and Don Kilhefner have been collecting memories from radical faeries around the country to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Faerie gathering this year. A book collected from these memories is in the planning stages as of this writing edited by the two of them. Mark and Don sat down and talked about it for White Crane:

Mark Thompson: The Radical Faeries at 30. Wow! Who among us standing on the reddish sands of a remote desert ashram in 1979 could have imagined that?

Thirty is such an archetypal age for gay men—youth is over and what awaits each of us as the road narrows and thickens in the years ahead is unknown and in many cases cast away. But that first gathering was a seminal event that deeply marked the lives of each of the 200 men who had gathered there. It was a queer inner initiation by a sacred fire—and then by some wet earth and water, too!

Don Kilhefner: Thirty years later, I still get goose bumps when I think of the closing ceremony of the first Radical Fairy gathering in the Sonora desert night. For a brief moment you, Mark, saw a bull with two large horns on a hill overlooking our ceremony. I felt the presence of benevolent, helpful spirits during the entire gathering. And you are right, it was an initiation—a profound initiation—in the true sense of that word as in beginning something new, initiating a new way for us as gay men to be with each other and think about ourselves. The wet earth and water to which you refer must be the Mud Ritual.

Like much of the gathering, there was a spontaneous, in the moment feel to it, as we co-created with Gay Spirit. After lunch one day, someone just announced that a Mud Ritual was taking place and the Fairies carried buckets after buckets out into the desert where the water was mixed with the red earth.  Then chanting sacred songs, each Fairy present was lovingly and gently covered from head to toe with red mud. As the chanting continued, they formed a circle which slowly moved in on itself until every one was embracing every one else—with OM reverberating over the whole gathering.  It was truly magical to the bone. When people say to me that the Radical Fairies are ‘New Age,” I always correct them by saying actually we are Old Stone Age and to the Radical Fairies—Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam are New Age phenomena.

Mark: So much was ignited in the immediate aftermath of that initial gathering.  Can you tell us some of those results? And then about some of the dissipation that happened after that? And then the cycle of re-imagining we seem to be in today—at least in some places in the world.

Don: In the Spring of 1978, when Harry Hay and I sat along the Rio Grande as it flowed past San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico and first discussed the possibility of such a gathering, we could not see where it all might lead. What we did know is that it was time for visionary gay men to meet and talk with each other as we saw the original, white hot creative energy of the Gay Liberation movement being vampirized by more conventional gay bourgeois politics and unimaginative gay assimilation.

There were three national gatherings. The original gathering in Arizona in 1979, the second gathering in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado sponsored by the Denver Fairies; and the third gathering in New Mexico. At the same time these national gatherings were happening, regional and local gatherings were springing up everywhere and decentralization has characterized the Radical Fairies every since with each region and city taking on its own unique features—most are for gay men only, some heteros and homos, and some men and women.  But initially the Radical Fairies were created by Hay and me as an rare opportunity for gay men to come together in spirit, brotherhood, and purpose in a natural setting.

Mark: Still, for most gay men today, the Radical Fairies appear more mythical than real.  What happened to that original genesis spark and what can we do to reignite it in ways that would make sense for us today.

Don: I see the Radical Fairies, now as then, as both mythical and real at the same time. From my training in and practice of gay shamanism, I know that it is sometimes difficult to know where one world ends and another begins. Cutting edge contemporary physics also has this challenge with string theory and its extension brane (as in membrane) theory which says that multiple, parallel worlds (branes) exist at the same time. In other words, reality is multidimensional. Radical Fairies often experience this—the mythical realm and the middle world realm at the same time.

But getting to the root of your question, what was the original genesis of the Radical Fairies. It was more or less threefold. First, was a attempt to bring together gay men with second sight to talk about the direction of the Gay Liberation movement, to open up the next stage of development for us as gay men. By that I mean to explore the meaning of being gay and what do gay men contribute to society. We know from evolutionary biology that we would not be reappearing generation after generation, millennium after millennium, until we were contributing to the survival of our species.

This questioning has been complicated by the identity than has been laid on us by our oppressors—homosexual—and we carry it around like a ball and chain around our ankle. We have had the tail wagging the dog. And the Radical Fairies, in part, were created to ignite an exploration and manifestation of a new gay man self-defined outside of the slave name “homosexual.” Harry and I were encouraging gay men to make a jail break.

Secondly, we saw from that new understanding of who were are and what we are contributing, we saw the Radical Fairies as being political but not using the old paradigm of left and right and the old political descriptors. But the next stage of Gay Liberation would be gay-centered in a way that would allow us to communicate to the dominant culture what it is we are doing in society. Walt Whitman, Edward Carpenter, and Hay in the Purpose Statement of the Mattachine Society were dancing around the same question. We are yin to their yang. E.O. Wilson, the dean of American evolutionary biology at Harvard, in his On Human Nature states: “There is a strong possibility that homosexuality is a distinctive beneficent behavior that evolved as an import element of early human social organization. Homosexuals may be the genetic carriers of some of mankind’s most altruistic impulses.” Joan Roughgarden, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford, has written Evolution’s Rainbow: Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People in which she suggest we are the carriers of “cooperation” wherever we are found in nature.

Finally, the Radical Fairy gatherings represent the kind of larger, and healthier, gay community Fairies want to create and live in. A community in which we can be visibly and openly “gay” in the widest sense of that word; we value the gifts of each person and weave those gifts into the fabric of community life; we feed each other both spiritually and literally; we honor ancestors, require elders, depend on adults, and invite youth; we assume our responsibilities not only to the gay community but to the larger community of beings; we are environmentally conscious and work to protect and heal the planet; we perform the necessary rituals and ceremonies that keep a community sane and healthy; we are culturally aware and creative; and we play and have fun.

Many Radical Faerie gatherings today have become social gatherings with little connection to the original roots and vision of the Radical Faeries. What is needed today is a national gathering of Radical Fairies to again allow gay men the rare opportunity of coming together in spirit, brotherhood and purpose again. If such a gathering were to be organized, at least a thousand would show up, many of them younger gay men looking for an alternative to the empty calories of gay assimilation.

The Radical Faerie Reader, edited by Mark Thompson and Don Kilhefner will be published sometime in 2010.

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 This morning on NPR I heard an article about the closing of Lambda Rising, DC's oldest, exclusive GLBT bookstore. While I couldn't locate the segment online for this morning's session I did find this interview with All Things Considered from last Saturday. A lot of things ran through my head, well, the economy is sucking and small businesses are failing. Niche markets are hardest hit when disposable income suffers, and queer literature is indeed a niche market.

What hits me hardest though is the sentiment that "every mainstream bookstore has a GLBT literature section."

Though true, Borders and Barnes and Noble both have gay literature sections, they pale in comparison. A mainstream bookstore may carry at most 100-200 titles in a GLBT "section" usually at most five shelves versus 20,000 titles in a store like Lambda Rising. Thinking about the selection process alone and only the most highly rated potential sales would even be chosen for that select shelf. Not to mention that most mainstream bookstores would include the erotica in there as well, thus taking up one of those five shelves with literary porn. Throw in biographies and histories and gay literature standards that are always selling (Jeanette Winterson, etc.) and you've got next to nothing left for new ideas, new fiction, theoretical works, subcultures… You only get what the mainstream bookseller thinks the gay consumer will buy, the lowest common denominator.

With the fading of indie bookstores and the move to the homogenous big box store what we get is a watering down of the breadth of gay culture. We become one small, carefully selected shelf in the vast body of popular literature.

This makes me wonder about monoculture.

When I was a child, I grew up in a small town with little to no ethnic diversity. People weren't German, Greek, Italian, Appalachian… We were all just white people. It didn't even occur to me that my family was of Irish descent until we got one of those family reunion ploys in the mail to get people to travel to Ireland. They must have sent every Riley in the country a mailer. Until I was about 18 years old, the only diversity I saw was on television.

Suffice it to say I didn't understand what being gay was until I was much older, and even then my perception of what it was colored my understanding of who I was. I didn't claim a gay identity until I was 21 or so. I didn't think I was one of the kinds of people I saw on television. I was different from them. It took me actually reading about gay people, going out to clubs, going to the GLBT community center and eventually finding the Radical Faeries before I could truly say that yes, I was gay and that it doesn't look like x, y or z. The kind of gay I am is not even in your alphabet. But it took years and years of learning and time and structure to form the identity I claim now. I had to learn the language, to navigate the wilds of subcultures to find the kinds of people who made sense to me.

I talk to a lot of people, many of them not much younger than I am, who say they're "post-gay" or don't identify as that kind of gay. They're something else, some kind of new-gay. Part of me wonders if they say this because they've grown up with an understanding of gay as some sort of homogenous identity. Perhaps much like I grew up just being generically a white person, these people have grown up with a definition of gay and they reject it because they recognize something more in themselves.

As we transition to a world where the breadth of gay identity is plowed under by mega-corporatizing influences, I suspect I'll hear more of this claim of a "post-gay" identity. Who we are needs the breadth of a library to explicate and understand the diversity of our lives, but our larger society run solely on profit incentive doesn't care about that. They only want to make money, they don't care who we are, where we came from or where we're going. They only care that we'll probably buy erotica. And we probably will.

World AIDS Day

AIDS ribbon It's World AIDS Day. 

That's nice.

…and I'm reminded of some Black comic's comment about February being "African American History Month"…"typical…we get the shortest month."

Which is to say, one day to remember is woefully shy of the task. 

I remain angry at the homophobic, puritanical, punishing, sex-fearing, "christian" response to HIV-AIDS. And how long it took Ronald Reagan to even say the word "AIDS" (and that it took the death of a closeted movie star and a heroic Elizabeth Taylor to finally get him to utter it.) I remain angry at the idea of "innocent victims" of this disease. 

I remain angry at how little memory there is for how Gay people responded to this, growing up, growing together, growing institutions. How little memory there is for how Gay people fed and sheltered and cared for one another…and angry that my friends are still sero-converting in 2009.

I remain angry at how brutally expensive AIDS meds are in the U.S. (and how cheap they are elsewhere) while the nimrods and the bloviators and the moralizing hypocrites in the Congress (yeah…I'm talking to you Joe Lieberman!…you ugly asswipe!) squash a public option…the only real way to provide competition to the profit-seeking, blood-sucking insurance companies…that would provide healthcare coverage for every American citizen, just like every other industrialized nation in the world! 

Shame on the Senate. Shame on our elected officials. 

Shame on the churches who came so late to the aid of the neediest and who still foment discrimination against gay people.

And every time I hear another fear-mongering "news" report on H1N1 and the vast over-reaction to it (several thousand people die from the flu annually, H1N1 or not) and how people with HIV were shunned by their communities, deserted by their families and died in fear, it makes me want to break something. And it makes me wonder …it makes me sad… to think of how things might have been different if the reaction when "Gay cancer" first appeared had been anything approaching the H1N1 hysteria.