Category Archives: Gay Wisdom

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’…

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?

Atlanta Queer Lit Fest


Some wonderful news coming out of Atlanta.  The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival (AQLF for short) is building up to being a great event this year.

I spoke with great Atlanta poet and organizer Collin Kelley, who’s on the planning committee for the festival, and they’ve really gone all out to expand their second annual literary festival.  He spoke of the desire to have another venue for Queer writers.   


The festival will feature Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning authors, poets, playwrights and more. There will be readings, poetry slams, workshops, signings, theatre events and much more.  They’ve asked me to come read and I’m deeply honored to be a part of this auspicious undertaking. 

There are a number of poets I’ve heard from who are planning on attending and reading.

The planning group will be announcing the list of invited readers next week.  Should be an interesting list.

The dates for the fest are Oct. 15 -19 at various locations to be announced around the city.

Sounds like a festival to add to your Fall calendar!

More info at

A Loss to Literature

Thomasdisch_2It is sad to report the loss of yet another elder of the community, novelist, poet, librettist…a literary and visionary mind, he was, in fact, a prolific writer in many genres, Thomas Disch.

Disch was an American science fiction author…he preferred "speculative fiction"…and poet. He won the Hugo Award in 1999, and he had two other Hugo nominations and nine Nebula Award nominations to his credit, plus one win of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Rhysling Award and to Seiun Awards, among many others. His latest book, to be published posthumously, The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten, is written in the first Dischwordofgod person, voice of God. When asked, he said this device "enabled him to speak nonsense and it would be true."

Disch was born in Des Moines, IA. In the 1960s, his work began appearing in science-fiction magazines. His first novel, The Genocides, appeared in 1965. He soon became known as part of the New Wave, writing for New Worlds and other avant-garde publications. His critically acclaimed novels of that time included Camp Concentration and 334. In the 1980s, he moved from science fiction to horror, with a series of books set in Minneapolis: The Businessman, The M.D. and The Priest.

Brave_little_toaster_1Perhaps his most widely read and affecting work was The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances, in which a small toaster, a clock radio and an electric blanket come to life. Written as a children’s book, the New York Times’s Anna Quindlen quite rightly recommended, "By it for your children; read it for yourself." Made into a Hyperion (Disney) film with Jon Lovitz in 1987 it was an instant classic.

In America, Disch’s poetry remained little known until a 1989 mid-career retrospective collection, titled Yes, Let’s. A book of new poetry, Dark Verses & Light, followed in 1991. In 1995 and 2002, Disch published two collections of poetry criticism. He continued to regularly publish poetry in magazines and journals such as Poetry, Light, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review and even Theology Today (perhaps an odd choice for a long-lapsed Catholic). His "How To Behave When Dead" prescribes proper etiquette for the buried.

Near the end of his life he stopped submitting poetry to literary journals unless the journals asked for his contributions. He preferred to publish his poems in his LiveJournal blog account. In an interview just ten days before his death, Disch said, "I write poetry because I think it is the hardest thing I can do well. And so I simply enjoy the doing of it, as an equestrian enjoys spending time on a good horse. Poetry is my good horse." He wrote a series of poems on grammar and antagonized science fiction writers for encouraging people to believe in things like UFOs.

Disch partner of 30 years, poet Charles Naylor died in 2005, and he had recently suffered a crushing series of personal setbacks. He was reported to have been depressed for several years, badly hit by the death of Naylor, as well as fighting attempts to evict him from his rent-controlled apartment, that had, unbelievably, recently burned. His upstate New York home had also been flooded and he suffered from diabetes and sciatica.

Disch, who had proposed a calendar that commemorated famous self-annilators (like Sylvia Plath on February 11) took his own life on July 4th.

How to Behave when Dead

A notorious tease, he may pretend
not to be aware of you.
                        Just wait.
He must speak first. Then
you may begin to praise him.

sincerity and naturalness
count for more than wit.
His jokes may strike you as
          Only laugh if he does.

They say he’s mad for art,
but whether in the melting
elegiac mode of, say, this
Vase of Poppies
or, turning the mirror
to his own face, a bronze skull
gorging on a snake —
that is a matter of taste.
In any case, the expense
is what he notices.

What to wear.
              Some authorities
still insist on black.
But really, in this modern age,
your best is all that is required.

       — Tom Disch

A Lovely Slideshow for Gay Pride

Affectionate_men_2 I could swear we reviewed this lovely book, but I can’t, for the life of me, find the review anywhere in the archives. Nonetheless, on what will be a hot and sweaty Gay Pride weekend, here’s a lovely slide show that is drawn from the book Affectionate Men: A Photographic History of a Century of Male Couples, 1850-1950 as well as another, Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together 1840-1918.

There’s a very nice song, Secretly, that accompanies it, by Jimmie Rodgers. Enjoy.