Category Archives: Politics

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 Is an Emergency…

Here are some of the thoughts going through my mind as this financial crisis obtains (and which is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “Wall Street bull”):

·         I am reminded of nothing so much as the run-up to the Iraq war, when we were stampeded by dire predictions and images of “mushroom clouds.” The "boy who cried wolf" keeps coming to mind.

·         This is the administration that has signed on to the idea of “reducing” the Federal government to a Wallstreetbull_3 size where they can “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” What better way to do that than to bankrupt it?

·         Aren’t the people who are "fixing this" the same people who got us into the mess in the first place?

·         I sure as hell don’t think any of the executives who drove these institutions into the ditch should get anything like a Golden Parachute as they go out the door. In fact, I think there ought to be a decidedly punitive aspect to this (for them), and hundreds of these greedy, grabby, dishonest and disingenuous people ought to pay back some of the money they got on the way into the ditch.

I’ll Get You…and your little veep, too!

Muthee_2 Vice Presidential pretendee/nominee Sarah Palin credits and praises a Kenyan Minister named Thomas Muthee with helping her to achieve the Alaskan governorship through prayer. It turns out the Muthee also hunts down witches and makes Rev. John Hagee, to say nothing of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., look positively normal. At a speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God on June 8 this year, Palin described how Muthee had laid his hands on her:

As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way. And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”

She might also have enlisted him in some good old witchhunting. After founding the Prayer Cave in 1989 in Kiambu, Kenya, Muthee reportedly says that he spoke with God and was called to the United States where he would be embraced by Palin and her church. While in Kenya, he says that he discovered that the community was inundated by witchcraft: “We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place.”

He even identified one witch known as Mama Jane, who ran a competing “divination” center called the Emmanuel Clinic. He declared that she was responsible for a rash of car accidents and led a crusade against her — a movement that would trigger calls for her to be stoned to death. She was eventually arrested and then fled the area.

It is certainly an example of “small town values” but perhaps not the quite type that the campaign is Aaa_wickedwitch looking for. On the other hand, something like 80% of U.S. voters say they believe in Angels. So it’s only a quick hop, skip and a jump to witches, I suppose. Halloween is right around the corner…and let’s not forget that “witches” and “witchcraft” was an early way of the monotheists to crack down on…and mass murder, the Old Folk Ways, and that many of these were strong women, and faeries…

What’s’up with this?

Gay_rings_wedding Ellen married Portia, but neither of them have donated to the California Marriage Ballot measure.

Also missing (as of Sept. 10) from the rolls were: Rosie O’Donnell, whose Feb. 27, 2004, marriage to Kelli Carpenter was nullified; Sir Elton John, who tied the civil partnership knot with partner David Furnish in England; rock star Melissa Etheridge, whose domestic partnership/wedding to actress Tammy Lynn Michaels Sept. 22, 2003, was celebrated in In Style magazine.

Other producers and directors not on the list include Paul Colichman (here!TV) Greg Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Bryan Singer (Superman Returns), Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin), and Gus Van Sant, though Bruce Cohen, who produced Milk, directed by Van Sant, was recently married and did contribute.

Socialized Banking…

Aig_logo_tcm201620 Do you suppose that now that we’ve crossed the threshhold to socialized investing and banking we might get around to doing something about some socialized health insurance for everyone? I mean…all us tax payers own an insurance company now…one of the largest in the world they say. Maybe we can cut ourselves a universal healthcare deal while all the bankers sort out their mess? I mean…we own the company now, right? And Darwin knows, we’re spending money like drunken sailors. Let’s buy something we can all really use.

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!