Category Archives: Men

Happy Obama

Barack I slept in this morning.

We worked at CNN until the wee hours of the morning last night, watching and waiting for the ripe fruit of the last few states to fall into the big blue basket of the Democratic column and Obama's historic victory.

Even my big yellow dog didn't demand his Democratic victory walk until I was ready to stir this morning.

I walked out the front door of my building feeling the electricity in the air from last night, still. As I got to the corner, the crossing guard that protects the children going to that school I voted in yesterday from the onslaught of traffic at the crossroad of Classon and St. John's Place raised her voice and hand to everyone who passed and greeted them with a "Happy Obama!"

Happy Obama. Indeed.

It was amazing, gratifying. Brilliant. 

It was also maddening.

In many ways, the same voters who made history with the triumphant election of Obama, also opted to vote discrimination into the California constitution. And it is hard for me to separate that from my celebration of Obama's well-deserved victory.

We turn one corner, and come to another. We drive a stake into the heart of one fearful discriminatory impulse in this country that, it seems, rarely does the right thing the first time, and raise up another strawman of fear and loathing on which to focus immature and unimaginative minds.

I don't want to take anything away from this beautiful moment. But I think it is as much a sign of how degraded the American ideal has become in the past eight to 20 years as it is a moment to celebrate. And I think one of the things this President is going to require of all of us is honest self-appraisal.

And I am ashamed and dejected in equal parts to my pride and elation this morning.

I know one thing in my bones: expectations are high for this new President. Everyone is hoping that he is, as they say The One. I read an interview with President Elect Obama in which he spoke about "Gay marriage" (a term I'm not entirely comfortable with) in which he said he believed that "marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman" and he wasn't willing to degrade that in any way. 

How can such a brilliant man be so abysmally ignorant?

So, I have high expectations of this man, too. But I am also realistic in my belief that we are all bound to be disappointed in him in some way, at some point. But here is my pragmatic expectation: that someone, somewhere, somehow sits down with this brilliant and inspiring man and explain to him in painfully exquisite detail the gulf of difference between "holy matrimony" and "marriage."

Explain to him how the former is "church" and the latter is "state" and that somehow, in the same way that that unholy alliance once justified slavery and the oppression of Black people that we now justly celebrate the death of…is now being employed to hurt loving men and women, who pay taxes and raise children (or not) and are undeserving of having their civil rights, their human rights unjustly curtailed because of the superstitious tyranny of the majority.

Keep your "holy matrimony" President-elect Obama. 

Holy Matrimony is a religious ritual. Marriage is a civil right.

Give LGBT people the same, equal, civilly righteous protections every other citizen in this country has under the sacred language of our constitution, no matter how many times the radical religious right wastes our time, money and souls in the pursuit of their fearful discrimination.

And we will have those rights, Mr. President-elect.

Yes…we will.

On the line…

I got up at 5:30 this morning, posted the Gay Wisdom mailing to the internet, put on some pants and a shirt, a jacket and a hat, leashed Brewster and took him out for his morning business. It was still dark out, though the earliest light was visible on the far reaches of the horizon.

Booth     The first thing I noticed was the odd number of people out at this normally quiet time in my busy, noisy neighborhood, Prospect Heights, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Museum. Usually I might see a car in the morning, or an early delivery truck. But not people. This morning, I counted a dozen people, coming from different directions, but all heading in the same direction, the Elijah Stroud Middle School on the corner of Sterling and Classon Avenue. I rushed Brewster through his walk, took him back home and left him with my partner and, grabbing a cup of coffee and my paper, I dashed out the door, and out on to the street.

Even more people out there now. I walked across the street and down the one block to Stroud elementary, and turned the corner to see the line. I have voted in this neighborhood for the past seven years, and the longest line I've ever seen was one snaking out from the gymnasium where the booths are, to the front door, about 20 feet away.

This morning, the line stretched past that point, out through the cast iron gates, turned to the left, and went nearly halfway down the New York City block street to Washington Avenue. It was 6:00 a.m. There were hundreds of people already on line, waiting patiently to cast their vote.

There was definitely excitement in the air. And more African-Americans than I had ever seen on any election day before. And young people. My neighborhood is very Caribbean (the largest Caribbean Day Parade goes right down Eastern Parkway, two blocks from my apartment), and becoming "hip" so there is a huge influx of young people seeking low(er) rents.

You could hear people talking ("wow…look at the line!" "Can you imagine what it's going to be like later?") And everyone I looked at was smiling. Not as much as they were smiling when they came out of the voting booth. Then they were positively beaming…men, women, young, old. Everyone I saw coming out of the booth had this almost beatific grin on their face. Some people actually came out singing. They greeted one another. Joked. They had a spring in their step. It was beautiful…this was the place to be!

The line moved pretty fast. From the time I got on line, until the time I was waiting outside the voting book was precisely one hour. But the line was always moving. My district had two voting booths (like the one pictured…something like 513 moving parts!) but one of them was already broken. So, that slowed things down a bit. But start to finish, one hour, reading Dreams From My Father on my Kindle, listening to Mozart and Stan Getz.

It was the best line I have ever been on.

Helping A Brother in Need

Fundraiser to Benefit Writer Stuart Timmons

Saturday, November 15th 3 to 5 p.m. at the

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives
909 West Adams Blvd – Los Angeles, California


Renowned Gay writers and artists will gather on Saturday, November 15, to honor celebrated author Stuart Timmons who suffered a major stroke last January. Malcolm Boyd, Chris Freeman, Trebor Healey, Michael Kearns, Felice Picano, Derek Ringold, Terry Wolverton, and others will read and perform from 3 to 5 p.m. at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives. The fundraiser target is $20,000 to help pay for much needed (and very expensive) medical support in Timmons' ongoing recovery.

Timmons wrote the biography of Gay movement founder Harry Hay, The Trouble with Harry Hay and most recently co-authored the best-selling history book, Gay L.A. In addition to his writing, Timmons is a longtime community organizer, active in ACT-UP LA, the Coors beer boycott, the labor movement through his recent work at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and as former director of ONE, the world's largest LGBT library.

After complaining to a friend of troubling neurological symptoms, Stuart was taken to Kaiser Hospital in Los Stuart_timmons2Angeles where the stroke was diagnosed and he received life-saving surgery. Stuart is 51 years old. Timmons, who has been unable to speak or move during the past eight months, has been under the careful watch of doctors, concerned family and friends. Recent improvements in his physical condition have been encouraging, says his sister, Gay Timmons, but his recovery will be a long one.

The benefit afternoon will raise funds to provide much-needed (and did we mention very expensive and not covered by insurance?) hours of physical therapy and other medical necessities beyond what routine insurance can allow. "The more additional hours of therapy Stuart receives, the sooner he can return to a functional life," says Gay. "The signs for recovery are good, but now is a critical time for the community to step up and lend its support."


Contributions can be made in person at the door or sent to:

The Stuart Craig Timmons Irrevocable Trust
c/o Gay Timmons
P.O. Box 472
Los Gatos, CA 95031.

You can also make a contribution online by Credit Card via Paypal.
Just use this link and you will be redirected to a benefit page where you can link to Paypal.

Copies of Timmons' books and works by some of the presenting authors will also be on sale.

The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is located at 909 West Adams Blvd., near the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. Parking is available behind the Archives building, located three blocks west of Figueroa Ave. at Scarff St., as well as in the immediate neighborhood.

Reservations are requested at (213) 741-0094.

The event is being sponsored by the ONE Archives, Lambda Literary Foundation, Monette/Horwitz Trust, White Crane Institute and the Drk/rm photo lab, which will be contributing rare photographic prints. Other artwork will also be available for purchase to further assist in the fundraising effort.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Terrence McNally’s controversial play Corpus Christi is playing at the Rattlestick Theatre, New York City, October 14-26. Nic Arnzen directed.

Corpus Christi is a retelling of the Jesus story, updated to 1950s Corpus Christi, Texas. Originally opening ten years ago at the Manhattan Theatre Club to intense protest and bomb threats it disturbed conservative Christiana with its depiction of a "Gay Jesus."

The cast includes Nic Arnzen (Peter), Amanda Axelrod (Simon), Jan Ambler (Andrew), James Brandon (Joshua), Steve Callahan (Judas Iscariot), Melissa Caulfield (John the Baptist), Elizabeth Cava (Matthew), Mark "Colby" Colbert (James), Steve Hasley (Bartholomew), Molly O’Leary (Thomas), David Pevsner (Philip), Sheilagh Polk (James the Less — Week One), Scott Presley (James the Less — Week Two), and Suzanne Santos (Thaddeus).

Presented by the LA-based 108 Productions, this revival is performed in honor of Matthew Shepard, whose brutal murder occurred just 24 hours prior to the play’s world premiere in 1998. Proceeds from the show  benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation, now also in its 10th anniversary, in support of their efforts to "Erase Hate" in today’s society. For more information, visit

Circle Voting

Circlevotingsubhead_2 We want to call your attention to an important website in this election season. Long time Gay activist, Murray Edelman, who was the editorial director of the Voter News Service, a polling consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, and the Associated Press that famously was involved in the 2000 Bush/Gore contest and the fate of the Florida vote, has been developing the idea of Circle Voting.

Murray helped develop the first exit polls and has conducted them for over 20 years. One of his legacies is the only continuous body of Gay/Lesbian voting data from the exit poll since 1990. Edelman received his BS in Mathematics from the University of Illinois and his PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago in 1973. He has been the only out Gay President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the largest and most influential body of survey research professionals.

Please, check out Circle Voting.


A full conversation with Murray appears in the fall issue of White Crane, Community. But one of the most important ideas in his Circle Voting project is this: Fully 1/3 of registered voters who say they voted in the last election did not. That bears repeating: 1/3 of REGISTERED voters in the last election, who say they voteddid not. We can’t afford this in this next election. The stakes are too high.

Jesse’s Journal

Coming Out Politically

“Coming Out” has many meanings and can happen more than once in a person’s life. In previous articles I wrote about “coming out” as a Gay man, a Jew, a bear and a nudist. Now I want to talk about my “coming out” into politics. Though I never served in public office I consider myself to be a political person, if we define politics as a citizen’s healthy concern for his society and the way that it is governed. My political views, like those of other people, were shaped by my upbringing, my environment, my education, my life experiences and by events that changed my life. Two events were particularly influential in determining my life and politics: the Cuban Revolution (1959) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Movement (1969).
My political bent, unlike my thick dark hair (now greying), soft brown eyes, left-handed dexterity or homosexual orientation, was not inherited. But it was definitely shaped by my upbringing. My friend and fellow activist, Allen Young, once wrote about growing up as a “red diaper baby,” the son of Jewish-American Communists. My parents were the opposite: proudly conservative, fiercely anti-Communist, Couche_rouge Cuban exiles. Like most men and women of their generation, my parents experienced the Revolution as a disruptive force that destroyed everything they held dear and forced them to leave their home. Once settled in Miami (temporarily, they hoped) most Cuban exiles were firmly opposed to Communism and to anything that they thought led to it: socialism, progressivism, liberalism, homosexuality, etc. They saw the Democratic Party as hopelessly liberal and tainted by John F. Kennedy’s “betrayal” of the Cuban people after the Missile Crisis. The Republicans, on the other hand, seemed more willing to stand up to Castro and his henchmen, however ineffective their stand might be. For that reason, almost alone of all Hispanics in the U.S., Cuban-Americans vote overwhelmingly Republican.
Cubaposters Like other Cuban-Americans of my generation, I grew up in this conservative atmosphere. However, by the time I graduated from high school in 1972 I had developed a political bent of my own, one at odds with that of my parents or for that matter most people in my “hometown” of Little Havana. My political nonconformity can be attributed to several factors: my sexual orientation, which allowed me to question authority and the status quo; my natural curiosity, that encouraged me to go beyond my schooling to explore new ideas and personalities; and my own stubborn and rebellious personality. Whatever the causes, I was liberal where liberal wasn’t cool. I also realized, unlike my parents, that I was in the U.S. to stay. So on June 6, 1973 I became a U.S. Citizen, the first one in my family to do so. I also registered to vote that day.
Obviously, there was no political future for a liberal Democrat in Little Havana. In any case, by that time I had come to the conclusion that I was Gay, and that my sexual orientation trumped other issues as far as my politics were concerned. Many activists look back to a pivotal event in their lives that shook them out of their apathy and got them involved in the fight for GLBT rights and equality. In my opinion being openly gay in a homophobic society was in itself a political act; and my rights and freedoms as a gay man must not be taken for granted but fought for every day and in every way. For that reason, and in a time and place when most Gay men and Lesbian women were still in their closets, I refused to hide my identity.
Anita Being openly Gay in Miami in 1976 and 1977 was not easy, and it probably kept me from building a career or making a lot of money. But I did what I had to do and I think I am a better man for having done so.
I came out politically at an important time in our history, when Miami-Dade County first considered adding affectional or sexual orientation to its Human Rights Ordinance. The resulting campaign, which led to the repeal of the “Gay rights ordinance” by a 2 to 1 margin (June 7, 1977), did more than make singer Anita Bryant a symbol of religious bigotry. It also made people realize that there were homosexuals all around them, and that Jesse Monteagudo was one of them. Though I was not a polarizing figure like Bob Kunst, I was president of Latins for Human Rights, a vain but notable attempt to encourage Gay Hispanics to come out of their closets. As if that wasn’t enough, the day after the election my smiley face appeared on the pages of the now-defunct Miami News, wistfully embracing my then-partner. At a time when the most influential Gay group in Broward was fondly known as “Closet Clusters,” just being photographed was a radical act.
During the next few years (1977-1982) I graduated from Florida International University, moved to Broward County, and changed my job a few times. And I served on the boards of the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights and the Broward County Coalition for Human Rights. A new crop of gay activists emerged in those days, political realists who knew how to play the game: Tom Bradshaw, Brad Buchman, Karl Clark and Gary Steinsmith (all sadly gone) among others. They created the Dolphin Democratic Club in Broward County (1982) and made it the political force that it is today.  And while I was a member of the Dolphin Club from the beginning, I never served on the Board, nor did I ever seek public office.  A non-partisan, activist, “in your face” group like the now-defunct GUARD – Gays United to Attack Repression and Discrimination – was more my style.
But while I am not a politician in the traditional sense of the word, I remain political to this day. Instead of running for office I channeled my political energies into another direction, as a writer for the then-flourishing Gay and Lesbian press. In 1980 I began an opinion column, now  “Jesse’s Journal”, in The Weekly News (twn), for 29 years (1977-2006) South Florida’s gay community paper. Writing a column gives me the opportunity to express my political views in a medium that I am comfortable with.  And it’s good to know that people read my work, if only to complain about it. I took it as a compliment when certain people, including some who knew me from way back, wrote angry letters to the paper, calling me a radical, a socialist and a communist along the lines of Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry. When you’re compared to Ted Kennedy, you must be doing something right.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and proud liberal who continues to disappoint his mother by not keeping his mouth shut.  Reach him at

A Friend and An Ally

Paulnewman160bt092708We don’t usually do a lot of "celebrity news" here. But it is truly sad to hear, this morning, of the passing of Paul Newman. Alas, Mr. Newman was not a Gay man. He was married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years. Lucky Joanne. Lucky Paul.

But both he and Ms. Woodward were longtime allies of the Gay community and in 1978 wrote a fundraising letter to raise money to fight yet another California ballot initiative…the first anti-gay ballot initiative, the Briggs Initiative, aka No On Six for those of us who fought it.

I know about this letter because I wrote it, under the guidance of David Mixner, and then, one bright Los Newman_primeAngeles morning, drove it over to the Newman home for their signature, where they…Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for god’s sake!…invited me in and served me coffee and talked about how important it was to defeat the initiative. The maid had showed me in, and took me to the room and invited me to sit. As I entered the room, there was Paul Newman, talking on the phone, sitting on a low sofa in a sunroom at the rear of the house…in his underwear and a bathrobe. He waved me in and pointed to another place on the sofa for me to sit (me not knowing where to not look…not at his underwear or not at his ice blue eyes!!)

He got off the phone and shook my hand, calling out "Joanne…you got some coffee in there?…you want some coffee?" he said, turning to me. And before I could respond, out comes Joanne Woodward with a tray of coffee and danish. She poured me a cup. They both sat and reread the letter and, after a little coffee talk, signed the letter and I was on my way…floating just ever so slightly above the surface of the earth for the rest of the day. What we talked about, I couldn’t have told you five minutes later. But I do remember how comfortable they made me feel. How unaffected they both were, and how concerned they were that Gay rights be defended. Aside from the millions of dollars he went on to give to charities and will continue to give as those companies continue, the Gay community has lost a great ally in a time when we still need allies.

Our sincerest sympathies and condolences to Ms. Woodward and the entire Newman family.

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!

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: