Friday, September 30, 2005

Fernando Ferrer Bites It (and some contradictory updates?)

The Politicker is reporting, just as I posted a few days ago, that the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr, one of the most homophobic Latino ministers in the nation, seems to have endorsed Fernando Ferrer. In my lowly blog I suggested that Ferrer turn down his endorsement if it came.

Alas, not only does he seem to have welcome the endorsement, they walked side by side as they went campaigning on the streets of New York this afternoon.

Aparently the Ferrer camp, upset by the Politicker blurb this afternoon, sent them something Ferrer apparently said at a press conference today:
Senator Diaz and I have disagreed on a great many things and we’ve agreed on a great many things. We all know we disagreed on that; we agree on this," he said, referring to safeguarding the health of public school kids.
Enough to sustain my vote for Ferrer? I'm not sure and here is why:

- Sept. 18, 2005: Fernando Ferrer's own "Leonora Fulani"

[UPDATE: Sept, 19, 2005 - Hm, where did the New York Daily News pick up the Leonora Fulani comparisson? I am somewhat surprised and reassured that Senator Tom Duane went on the record as still supporting Ferrer. Also, before yeterday's stroll through Harlem, Gay City News reporter Andy Humm also filed this Ferrer vs. Bloomberg comparisson]

[UPDATE #2: Sept, 19, 2005 - So I have it from someone out in the field that, yes, Ruben Diaz, Sr. AND Ruben Diaz, Jr., walked alongside Ferrer along with Congressman Joseph Crowley BUT, while Junior has endorsed Ferrer, Senior still has not done so - to date. The New York Times, in the meantime, also chimes in with their take on the Diaz-Ferrer press conference]

[Update #3: October 4, 2005 - I have flip-flopped again. I am back with Ferrer as you'll see here]

Rare Alison Moyet appearance in NYC this Monday

Well, kiddies, today's chuck-full'o'music news. I nearly missed this one but according to her blog (?), Ms. Alison Moyet (hail to the Queen!) will be making the rarest of New York City appearances this Monday, October 3rd at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square. The occasion is the domestic release of her new CD, Voice, which features old standards as sung by the extraordinary Moyet and produced by one-time Art of Noise'r Anne Dudley.

Moyet's incomparable voice first came to prominence when she performed as a duet with Erasure's Vince Clarke as Yazoo (Yaz in the US) on hits such as "Situation" and "Don't Go." Her criminally underappreciated and incredible catalogue includes US/UK and UK-only releases that are worth every domestic or import penny (particularly Alf, her first solo album, and Hometime, the CD previous to Voice.

Stand-outs in Voice are her interpretations of "The Man I Love," that old-Dusty Springfield chestnut "The Windmills of My Mind" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." My favorite Moyet songs ever? "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" from Raindancing and "Say It" from Hometime.

Wish she was doing a regular performance but I guess her Virgin Megastores appearance will have to do.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

CONLAMIC Watch: Pimping for Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist & John Roberts

I recently wrote about a statement released by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in which Howard Dean lamented an address by Republican National Committee (RCN) Chair Ken Mehlman at a gathering organized in DC by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC).

Dean, criticizing Mehlman and the Bush government for trumpeting false pro-immigration policies at the CONLAMIC gathering, nevertheless praised the Coalition and said that he wished to set "the record straight" by telling CONLAMIC "the truth" about the Bush administration's record on immigration.

The DNC statement went out on September 22, 2005.

Hm... Maybe the DNC should have been at the press conference organized on that same date by CONLAMIC with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist
in support of Judge John Roberts' bid to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States?

Unless the Democrats lose their fear of confronting fundamentalist religious pimping, be it Latino or not, they look just as cynical as they say Ken Mehlman's statements are.

As for Roberts, minutes ago he was confirmed as the 17th Supreme Court Chief Justice, to CONLAMIC's delight, and the DNC's dismay (they had opposed the nomination as well).

In some ways, while CONLAMIC stuck to their principles and won, the DNC and the Democratic party continue to split strategies and lose even when the current government has the lowest approval numbers of any administration in recent memory.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Mom

A few posts ago, I blogged about my dad.

Well, now is my mom's turn.
Tonight, my partner Raul and I will be attending an exhibit of my mom's paintings at the 2/20 Gallery (220 W 16th Street, Manhattan).

Not for being her son or anything, but I think that my mom is an amazing artist.

Should you want to see her work, please head over to the gallery tonight 'til 9pm or tomorrow and be amazed.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is the last day of the exhibit so if you miss out now you will have to wait until the next exhibit.

Of monkeys and men...

An eye-opening report published in a United States academic publication titled the Journal of Religion and Society has caught the eye of a major newspaper in the UK, but not - as far as I know - any coverage from the major US newspapers.

According to The Times from London, researchers
compared "the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution" and found that "religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide."

I have yet to find a link to the actual report but once I do I'll update this post. For those of us who have followed the so-called debate on "intelligent design" as it reaches the courts of this country (
read the latest on the Pennsylvania trial here) and gasp incredously at how creationists even managed to get the issue into a court of law; see the eroding wall that supposedly protects the separation from church and state; and watch religious conservatives such as the Reverend Pat Roberstson call for the murder of other heads of state; it is hard to figure out how the United States will disengage from this mad rush to fundamentalism.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Al Sharpton's Lesbian Sister

Back on August 18, when I blogged about Kanye West's thoughts about homophobia in hip-hop and rap music, you might have missed my comments on a meeting that I attended at which the Reverend Al Sharpton introduced an anti-homophobia initiative aimed at the African-American community. At the meeting, the Reverend spoke movingly about one of his mentors, Bayard Rustin, and how Rustin - a close advisor to the Reverend Martin Luther King - was shunned by some black leaders for being gay.

Today in the mail I received the October 11th, 2005 issue of "The Advocate" and - in a feature about the Reverend's initiative - he also credits someone closer to him for his interest in launching the initiative: His sister.

"My sister is gay. I understood the pain of having to lead a double life in the system [since] we grew up in a church. She is gay, and she fought that perception in church while she embraced it in her private life," says Sharpton in the article.
The article also says that the Reverend's desicion to march in a gay pride parade for the first time ever (see photo above taken at this year's Heritage of Pride march in NYC) was part of this initiative, though I don't remember seeing any anti-homophobia flyers being passed around and, at the time, it seemed more of a political move to deny other local political candidates his endorsement.

I also
just blogged about Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick's effort to confront the black church and its hypocrisy on gays. So it might seem a natural fit for the Reverend to join forces with these African-American leaders in challenging the black church. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be in the works:
"Soon after word of Sharpton's initiative spread," says The Advocate, "Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the Washington, DC-based gay group Human Rights Campaign, flew to the Big Apple to strategize with Sharpton. 'We're going to be among the financial sponsors, but we're also working with him to get in touch with people doing similar things around the country,' Knox sais. And Sharpton's voice garners great attention. 'We're glad he's raising it on our behalf,' Knox says. HRC is contribuiting $5,000 in the initiative's projected $50,000 start up costs.'"
Now, I have met Harry and admire the work he has done, particularly while he was working at Freedom to Marry. But one of the fears I heard when word went out about the Reverend's interest in fighting homophobia in African-American communities was that his interest would be co-opted by the larger national LGBT advocay organizations (who have proved so ineffective in reaching out and working with minority LGBT activists and organizations).

Here's hoping that something can still come out of it.

Spring Blooms in Chile

As summer ends in these latitudes, spring is in full bloom down in Chile. Over the weekend, from 1,000 to 10,000 people - depending who you ask - marched down the streets of Santiago for their annual gay pride event, leading the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh) to declare it the largest such even in the history of Chile. Marchers celebrated a decision by the Education Ministry to adopt sexual orientation non-discrimination language in the standard high-school sexual education curriculum and saluted an initiative by the Chile Chamber of Deputies to combat hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Newspapers noted the increased participation of lesbians.

Tomas Hirsch, the only presidential candidate who joined the crowds, said that Chile could only reach true Democracy "when sexual orientation is not something against which we discriminate."

He also said he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry and said that, as President, he would back Movilh's upcoming push for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships through the adoption of civil union legislation.

Forcing homophobic black preachers out of the closet

Is T.D. Jakes gay? For that matter, is Eddie Long? If you are not African- American, President Bush or Karl Rove's religious right minions, chances are that you probably won't recognize these names. Both are among the most influential black preachers in the United States. Both also have ratcheded-up their homophobic rhethoric against gays and lesbians in their weekly services, using their pulpits to instill hate, as they increasingly bask in the embrace of the religious right of this country.

Lesbian and gay African-American leaders have taken notice and have attempted to draw links between the increased synergy between these ministers and the current government, their rise to power and the outright selling-out of their pulpits as a strategy to drive away minority votes from the Democrats (not that the Democrats are doing a great job sustaining them).

I have written about some of their counterparts in the Latino community (the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Miguel Rivera of CONLAMIC), but now two of the most media-savy gay black leaders are saying enough is enough and taking it a step further.

In joint statements published in their respective blogs, Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick, have announced that each will profile a separate black minister on their blogs for the next five days, leading to what they say will be "a special finale on Friday that you won't want to miss." They are also inviting readers to submit information that might confirm that specific homophobic black ministers might be gay and closeted. For more info go to:
Watch right-wing webistes / blogs scream 'extremist gays' and 'invasion of privacy.' Watch us say, 'hypocrisy must be revealed when it hurts so many and when used for personal benefit' and 'It's about time!'

Friday, September 23, 2005

Farandula: Yuri thinks gays will be saved some day (but still takes their money)

OK - I have never been one to listen much to Mexican pop but I do know that at one point in the late 80's and '90's Yuri seemed to be on the heels of Madonna as the best selling blonde pop singer, at least in Mexico. And, even as trashy as farandula gets in Mexico, Yuri's life could be fodder for at least twenty Spanish-language episodes of VH1's "Where are they now?".

The 19th episode might just concentrate on how her conversion Christianity led her to release a couple of Christian-pop albums that tanked and how she saw the light and realized that she needed her gay fans back.

La Opinion, the Spanish-language newspaper from Los Angeles interviewed La Yuri on the eve of a performance in a new West Holywood gay dance club called The Factory and, today, El Diario La Prensa reprinted parts of her interview. She was asked if performing at the club didn't go against her beliefs:
Not at all, not at all! Us Christians love people very much. And really, what would Jesus do? Love them. Jesus Christ does not agree with the gay lifestyle, or with mine, or the lifestyle I led before. I mean, you don't have to be gay for people to agree with the life you lead. I am not the one to judge them. I will bring them my songs and my happiniess. They are people who really need God as I once also did. I have complete permission from my pastors to go sing for them and to go share with them, just as I did during Latin Pride [in Los Angeles]. It was something beautiful, where I was able to talk to them about God, where I was able to sing all my hits, and we had a great experience. So, no, not at all, I am a very open Christian.
Sounds a bit close to love the sinner, hate the sin to me. And if she makes a quick buck out of it, who can blame her? Now, as for the owners of The Factory and the organizers of Latin Pride, just what is their excuse for giving contracts to a singer who thinks that gays are not in God's graces? Shame on them.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Howard Dean and the DNC miss the mark on CONLAMIC

Photo: CONLAMIC director Miguel Rivera outside the Bronx Court House on March 3, 2004, announcing a pro-Bush and anti-same-sex marriage rally, and some community activists rejecting CONLAMIC's hateful message.

Interesting news from DC: Today the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released a statement crediting the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) for "the work they’ve done to promote immigration reform and fair treatment for undocumented immigrants" but also wishing to set them straight, as it were, or - in DNC parlance - telling them "the truth."

Apparently CONLAMIC hosted the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Ken Mehlman today at a gathering in DC where he spoke about all the wonderful things that President Bush had done for Latinos in general including Latino immigrants (huh?).

To tell "the truth" though the DNC would do well to do some research, 'cause they ain't necessarily going to teach CONLAMIC anything they don't know:
If the DNC wanted to tell 'the truth' it would have called it out as it truly is: CONLAMIC is as complicit in shelling out for a morally bankrupt government as anyone and no amount of 'truth-telling' will convince CONLAMIC to drop the benefits they might get for being the calling-card for the most conservative of politicians who seek to hold their nose - while pretending they care about minorities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jass Stewart Update: On to the Nov. 8th Runoff Election!!!

Woo-hoo! I nervously googled Jass Stewart this morning to find out how he had done in yesterday's Brockton mayoral elections but could not find a thing. So it's a thrill to report that the Victory Fund now says that Jass placed second in the primary and will now face acting mayor Jim Harrison in a November 8th run-off. As I urged you the last time, please donate to Mr. Stewart's campaign if you are able to (thanks, Bernie, for alerting me to the Victory Fund update).

Monday, September 19, 2005

Newspaper watch: Hoy New York and same-sex marriage

Yesterday, the New York City edition of Hoy (one of the two largest Spanish- language newspapers in the city) published an opinion column by Mexican writer Carlos Ruvalcaba titled "Minority Rights: Puritan Double Morality."

In the article, Mr. Ruvalcaba argues that for a city as cosmopolitan as New York, marriages between same-sex couples should be legalized but that, despite a favorable New York State Supreme Court ruling by Judge Doris Ling-Cohan, same-sex marriage advocates continue to meet insurmountable obstacles.

He says that those who want to keep gays from getting married are "the same who oppose abortion but that give licence to Bush so that the armed forces kill and continue killing children, women and innocent elderly people in Iraq and Afghanistan."

It is not the first time that the newspaper publishes an opinion piece that argues for the right of same-sex couples to marry but, in recent months, the newspaper seemed to back away from the issue after the presidential elections.

Editorially they have also shown some temerity: When Mayor Mike Bloomberg decided to challenge Judge Ling-Cohen's ruling in the courts, an Hoy editorial congratulated the Mayor for his pragmatism in dealing with a difficult issue... but then stayed away from editorializing on the issue itself.

To date the editorial board at Hoy has not gone on the record as to whether they endorse the right to marry for same-sex couples (to be fair, their competitor - El Diario La Prensa - also has stayed mum). [in contrast, Los Angeles La Opinion, the third of the major Spanish language newspapers in the nation, has editorialized on the issue twice and given same-sex marriage a ringing endorsement].

Unfortunately, as great as it is to see Hoy accepting positive editorials on this issue once again, in his arguments the author makes several mistakes:

1. The author argues that there should be a constitutional amendment allowing same-sex couples to marry. Ah, no. The United States constitution supposedly guarantees equality for all and those seeking an amendment are doing so to LIMIT the right to only a specific number of couples. The issue here is NOT adding amendments to the United States constitution, it's to make sure that the country does what it says it does: Guarantee equal rights for all.

2. The author argues that Mike Bloomberg or, should he become mayor, Fernando Ferrer, should legalize same-sex marriage in the same way that Gavin Newsom did in San Francisco. Ah, no! Gavin Newsom did not - and does not have the power to - legalize same-sex marriages and nor does the Mayor of New York City. They can interpret existing law and allow public offices to release marriage certificates if the law says that it's legal, but sometimes even interpretation can be faulty as even Gavin Newsom found out when all the same-sex marriages that took place in San Francisco were invalidated.

3. Mayor Bloomberg and Ferrer on same-sex marriages: While mentioning Judge Ling-Cohen's court ruling, the author seems to totally disregard that it was Mayor Bloomberg who decided to use the power of the Mayor's Office to challenge that same ruling while Fernando Ferrer has long been on the record for unequivocally supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry. While in one of the debates Ferrer went as far as saying that, should same-sex marriages be legalized in New York, he would officialize at same-sex weddings as a public official, Bloomberg is not about to say the same thing.

As flawed as the opinion column is, at least it is an endorsement of the issue. Now, if only the editorial board could right the wrongs in the column and editorialize on behalf of the right for same-sex couples to marry as their Los Angeles counterpart has done!

My New York: Beautiful People

So this blog has some benefits: I recently blogged about how much I like the new Blaze single, "Most Precious Love," featuring Barbara Tucker. Well, my friend Noel alerted me to one of the things I love this city for so much: A free summer concert at Brooklyn's Prospect Park featuring - who else - Miss Barbara Tucker (as well as the great DJ Spinna). Aparently this was the 12th so-called Clubhouse Jamboree (where was I the last 11 years?) and summer blessed us with a beautiful day. The setting was sublime, a great crowd dancing under the shade of some trees. Miss Tucker, who had just flown in from Ibiza, didn't dissapoint and introduced a couple of songs from her upcoming album as well as the classics: "Beautiful People," "I Get Lifted," and "Most Precious Love."

DJ Spinna's set also lifted up to some euphoric heights. At one point I was sitting on the bass while I took some pictures and, damn, you could really feel that pulse surge through you! Unfortunately his set got cut short when the system went down.

Amazing day. More photos here.

[...and if you are in New York tomorrow Tuesday, have ten bucks to spare, and want a chance to see and hear Barbara Tucker, just head to Discotheque at 17 W 19th Street around 10PM. She'll be joined by chanteuse Joi Cardwell, Danny Krivits and members of Blaze and the Basement Boys]

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fernando Ferrer's own "Leonora Fulani"?

Photo: Hispanic minister's anti-gay marriage rally in the Bronx, March 14, 2004. More photos, including those of our counter-demonstration, here.

Earlier this summer, as the Mayoral candidates sought the gay vote, they found themselves at Manhattan's LGBT Community Service Center for a mayoral forum. As some of us sat in the audience we noticed some flyers being passed around the room which attacked Fernando Ferrer for having supported the homophobic State Senator (and Reverend) Ruben Diaz, Sr. in Diaz' victorious 2002 Senate race. Those of us who had heard Ferrer talk passionately about his opposition to the Reverend's homophobic views, felt that the "anonymous" flyer was a crass attempt to tar Ferrer's considerable record on LGBT issues.

Yesterday, Mayor Mike Bloomberg pulled another one of those endorsements that have a greater symbolic impact than their actual worth: The Association of Hispanic Ministers, led by a Julio Mercado, appeared at a press conference in Brooklyn where they announced the endorsement alongside the Mayor. New York 1 has been carrying images from the press conference all day long and all major newspapers are reporting on it today. And, while the Post says that a website search for the organization did not bring back any results, the Times actually says that the group also endorsed Bloomberg in 2001.

Interestingly, the Post also reports that Bronx Assemblymember Ruben Diaz, Jr. (Reverend Ruben Diaz' son who is not as homophobic as his dad), while also calling into question the organization's existence, said that his father "intends to endorse Ferrer as leader of the New York Hispanic Clergy" (though the younger Diaz made an appearance at Thursday's Democratic Unity Rally where major political figures united in support of the Ferrer bid, the elder Diaz was one of the missing figures).

As in the 2001 elections, Bloomberg has sought and accepted the endorsement of the Independence Party, despite allegations that its leader, Leonora Fulani, has made anti-semitic remarks for which she has not appologized. His political calculation is that - while distancing himself from Fulani - he can actually benefit from being on the Independence as well as the Republican line when election day comes (though others, such as Hillary Clinton have simply refused their endorsement in the past). [
Late word is that Fulani might be actually removed from her post today]

If the Reverend Diaz and his New York Hispanic Clergy do decide to endorse Ferrer, it would pose a similar question on Ferrer's desk: Will he hold his nose and accept the potentially influential endorsement from the Reverend and his followers or simply say "No thanks?"

Though the Reverend ran for the Senate on the Democratic line, he has increasingly veered to the right and not only on gay issues (he supported Bloomberg in 2001 as well as the Iraq War). But the gay community in particular remembers that he was instrumental in defeating the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum in 1991 - which sought to instill respect for diversity accross the city schools - because 3 of its 500 pages focused on gay and lesbian families; his attempts as a former councilmember to ban the 1994 Gay Games claiming that the event would spread HIV accross the city; his pending 2003 suit against the City of New York over public funds given to the Harvey Milk School; and the lead role he played in staging a massive demostration against same-sex marriage last summer (photos here).

It is easy for certain politicians to express themselves against the Reverend because they do not necessarily come from or have a Latino constituency in the areas they represent and little risk of losing votes, so for Ferrer to have been vocally opposed to many of the Reverend's stands has been courageous. Other political leaders also characterize the Reverend as a fringe figure in State and City politics, which might be the case, but not when it comes to his standing in the Latino community. But accepting an endorsement from the Reverend would certainly dissapoint those of us who have defended Ferrer against charges that he supports the Reverends homophobic views.

As for the Reverend? Well, in an interview that many might miss because it runs in today's Spanish-language newspaper El Diario La Prensa, the Reverend is not necessarily talking endorsements yet but he does go on record on the issue:

"Biblically or spiritually," says Diaz, "neither [Ferrer or Bloomberg] have anything to offer... I supported Bloomberg because I thought he would do a better job, but he defrauded me specially for his actions against the city's elderly and on the issue of education."

The article goes to say that the Reverend "aknowledged that - on social issues - Fernando Ferrer's platform was closer to the interest of the community" and that, due with his disenchantment with Bloomberg, he believes that "Ferrer is the better option and that [the Reverend] has been sharing this sentiment with his organization's clergy."

Let's see if his son's comments to the Post come to fruition.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Zapatista (queer) love

It has been a couple of years since I had my big blow up with the Zapatista movement (well, as big a blow up as you can have on the internet).

For the better part of the last decade I have run what I can safely say is the most comprehensive compedium of Spanish and English-language news related to the Latino LGBT community in the United States and Latin America outside of Google alerts (ok, some might call it spam as I send up to 15 or 20 messages a day). Well, over the years I have posted a couple of the queer-friendly - yet mysterious - and, to be charitable, "unabridged" statements from that pipe-smoking, green eyed (or brown-eyed?), ski mask-wearing and revolutionary Subcomandante Marcos (some dare call him a stud, though as in many a chat room, I'd rather see a guy's face before passing judgement).

Now, befrore you say that I am belittling the Zapatistas (¡avemariadelvirgendecastro!), please understand that when a guerrilla movement shows queer love, queer love must be bestowed back. Particularly in a region as needful of revolutionary action as Chiapas, Mexico. But, then again, I come from Colombia, where blind idolatry for revolutionary guerrilla movements such as the FARC have led to a murderous, isolationist and extremist form of left-wing ideology that is as bad (if not even worse) as the government's military actions.

What brought things to head was that I refused to post information on local (as in NJ) Zapatista movement meetings that had nothing to do with LGBT issues. The argument was that if the Zapatistas embraced queers, then everyone should embrace the Zapatistas, and that that if Zapatistas were so open to queer expression, then every Zapatista meeting / gathering was a queer gathering, even if it wasn't. I gently reminded 'the movement' that by that logic I'd be posting every sinle thing that Walter Mercado said in his astrology shows just because he was so queer. And then I heard nothing...

(Full disclosure: I also sent a previous message to Subcomandante Marcos harranguing him for releasing a statement that went on and on... and on... about a supposed lesbian British pirate from the 17th or 18th century when so many gays and lesbians in Mexico were in need and, at least at the time, he hadn't said anything about them)

So it was a surprise when, years later (about a month ago), I got an e-mail in my inbox from the Zapatista movement with another long-winded statement from Subcomandante Marcos that made it clear that queer movements were welcome (in paragraph 452 or so).

Then this week, I get another message from the local Zapatista camp alerting me to an article from the Mexican newspaper La Jornada reporting that, yes, some queers, lesbians, gays, feminists and assorted progressive left movements had shown up for a week-long Zapatista gathering at which Subcomandante Marcos announced a "New Movement" and the "Subcomandante Marcos National Tour 2005." All the love is not shared by this article, which says that there were some catcalls from some of the attendees. But, then again, the allegations come from a gringo imperialist newspaper.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Meeting Hillary Clinton

I guess I will have to wait for another day to tell you how the experience of meeting the Hill is, because I had train trouble and stood her up this morning (though she went ahead without me anyway).

The primary is not over: Jass Stewart for Mayor!

Primaries might be over in New York City but, as long as we’re talking politics, might as well urge you to contribute to the Victory Fund-endorsed Brockton Mayoral Candidate Jass Stewart (Brockton is in Massachussetts and will be holding its primaries on September 20th, 2005). I met Jass at “Naming Our Destiny: Training for Political Power,” a four day workshop for LGBT people of color interested in running for political office or in doing campaign work, which was sponsored by OutPOCPAC and the Empire State Pride Agenda back in 2004. As others, and yet others will attest, the man is smart, full of great ideas, and will definitely make a great mayor if elected.

The New York Blade’s navel-gazing

So our fridge blew a fuse (or something) two days ago and, since I like my morning coffee with some milk, I had to go out and buy a cup of ‘regular’ from the neighbor deli instead of brewing some at home – and get back home before the refrigerator repairman came (yes, if others can navel-gaze, so can I). Saw the Blade’s box at 35th Avenue and 75th Street corner and picked up the spanking new issue with the “Blogstar Confidential” cover (a purported look at the city’s gay power bloggers – whoever they are).

Well, damn if I didn’t nearly spit out that first sip’o’java and not just because it was scolding hot: Just below the lead story graphic there was a photo of Fernando Ferrer and a title that read “Primary Results: Did gay votes matter?”

Lead sentence? “When the Democratic Primary smoke cleared, one thing was certain: Endorsements from gay political organizations seem to be the kiss of death when it comes to mayor.”

Huh? Was the Blade implying that Ferrer had no gay political club endorsements? That gay clubs didn’t pull enough muster to keep Ferrer out of the nomination’s reach? That gays didn’t help Ferrer capture the nomination? That Ferrer wasn’t a viable candidate for the LGBT community?

Well, actually: In the article, various political operatives are interviewed at some length about Anthony Weiner, Gifford Miller and C. Virginia Fields and the endorsements they got from LGBT political clubs - which the Blade alleges did not count for much (though they do quote someone as saying that without an exit poll it’s pretty hard to ascertain how gays voted anyway, club endorsement or no endorsement).

This being the lead article on the primary election you would think that they would also talk about the Ferrer campaign and why they won. Strangely enough, the article basically says nothing other than the fact he won (though Baruch College professor Douglas Muzzio is quoted as saying “all of the Democratic candidates for mayor had a legitimate claim to the gay vote”).

Finally, the article also fails to say that Ferrer was actually endorsed by the Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC), which sorta' coulda' gone against the grain of the article’s main argument which could have proven a bit inconvenient, wouldn’t you say?

This has not been Ferrer’s best campaign and the hope is that he can find the fire and clarity of vision in what is left until the general elections. But he does have some momentum on his side, a gay political club endorsement and gay voters who are willing to give him a chance come election day.

If anything, the article betrayed a lack of knowledge of Ferrer’s past history of support for the LGBT community, his long-standing support for same-sex marriage; the fact that while he was Bronx Borough President he hosted the first LGBT community services center at a Bronx city hall office; and that he was among the persons who initiated, supported and marched down the Grand Concourse for the Bronx’ first gay pride parade.

Or simply it betrays the Blade's on-going inability to cover anything or anyone that comes from any borough outside of Manhattan.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fernando Ferrer Press Conference Photos

Today Fernando Ferrer received the support of all the other major mayoral candidates in the wake of Tuesday's primary election. I believe the Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC), a group I am a member of, was the only LGBT political club that endorsed Ferrer before the primaries. That's Club Co-Chair Gerard Cabrera holding the rainbow flag. More photos here.

News trends: Transgender issues

For some reason there are several stories in today's papers about transgender issues. Some of it has to do with the launch of "Transgeneration" - a new Sundance channel reality series - and some of it with the aftermath of the Gwen Araujo trial verdicts but the Houston Chronicle also has a wrenching story about transgendered persons and their tribulations after Katrina hit New Orleans.

Read all below:

Katrina's aftermath: Transgender evacuee survives all obstacles (Houston Chronicle, Sept. 15, 2005)

Transgender killings an investigative quagmire (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 15, 2005)

The Music

1. Lust 4 U” – Jose Nuñez feat. Bruce Baps (from the 8th “Subliminal Sessions” mix series) Oh. My. God. The pulsing dirty drive, the reverb, the assured vocal and that breakdown! Pure nirvana! This needs to be a single somewhere, somehow!

2. “4 Ur Ears” – Timo Maas feat. Kelis (from the new Timo Maas CD “Pictures”) A follow up of sorts to their collaboration on “Help Me” on Timo’s last CD, this one continues Kelis’ (“Milkshake”) stratospheric rise to goddess.

3. “U Don’t Know Me (JaxxHouz KlubMix)” – Basement Jaxx (original is from their ‘best of’ CD but this is from the CD maxi single) Rowdy banger with Lisa Kekaula and Sean Escofery on vocals and old-skool Art of Noise samples.

4. “Most Precious Love (Copyright Spiritual Club Mix)” – Blaze presents Uda feat. Barbara Tucker House legend Barbara Tucker (“Beautiful People”) teams up with house legend Blaze (“How Deep is Your Love”) and Uda (?). Good thing for Blaze to give props to those who actually do the work but what does “presents” mean? (ah, yes, and it’s a good ol’ church-pew house stormer).

5. “Not Too Shabby (Jamie Lewis Goes Disco Mix)" – Cerrone (from the latest Defected mix “Bob Sinclair in the House”)
“Looking good? Not too shabby, a-ha, a-ha” – Underappreciated Cerrone does the body good!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Dad

On Monday night I got a call from my dad from Colombia. It made me realize that it had been a while since I called so it was great to hear from him. Damn thing, though, the battery on my 'newish' phone is dying out and I keep forgetting to replece it so, having warned him that the call might cut off at any minute, we actually got to speak for a whopping five to ten minutes. In any case, he told me that he was enjoying my postings on the blog (!) and that it helps him to keep up on his English. For a while there when I 'came out' to him I acted like a jerk and expected him to 'get it' all at once. Since then, though, our relationship has gotten so much better - despite the distance - and my boyfriend Raul actually is amazed by how proud my dad seems to be of me and my accomplishments. It is always nice to stop and say "I love you dad" from time to time, so, if Dairo Duque is reading, hey dad - I Love ya (p.s. - I'll call this weekend!)

Primary elections update No. 2

Seems that Fernando Ferrer will avoid a primary run-off after all. Runner-up Anthony Weiner is said to be preparing a consession speech that he will give at noon (EST) today. If that's the case, Ferrer becomes the first Latino man elected as the Democratic nominee to the Mayoral office in NYC. He also faced a run-off in 2001 but, as I have mentioned in previous posts, primary elections fell on September 11th and the whole race was up-ended as a result. If he becomes mayor he would follow the lead of Antonio Villaraigosa, who recently became the first Latino man to be elected Mayor of Los Angeles. But low electorate turn-out last night and the incremental rise in the popularity of Mayor Bloomberg over the last four years signify that Ferrer faces an uphill battle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Another Latino gay man murdered

Alfredo Gonzalez, a friend, alerted me to yet another murder of a Latino gay man in this city:

On Saturday, afraid that something was wrong when his boyfriend Oswaldo Hernández did not return his calls, Julio Torres made his way from New Jersey to Oswaldo's apartment in Washington Heights. He called 911 when nobody answered the knocks on the door. When police arrived and entered the apartment, El Diaro La Prensa reports that the police found the 51 year old hair dresser "stabbed 12 times in the chest and neck, laying in his bathtub at 560 W 183rd Street around 11:22 at night." Nothing had been stolen.

A neighbor says that he saw Mr. Torres crying and shaken up after seeing the body of his lover "covered by a blanlet and shielding his face with his hands and lifted elbows." (The New York Times actually reports that Mr. Torres made his way into the apartment before the police got there and that the killer might have "escaped through a rear window and dropped approximately 12 feet to the ground").

According to Alfredo, the neighbor collected enough money to bury Mr. Hernández on Sunday - though attempts to reach his family in Venezuela failed (rumors are that Mr. Hernández was Colombian but that his family lived in Venezuela).

Neigbors said that the burial mass was "amazing" and that women "grabbed on to Mr. Hernández body and spoke to him, men cried... many were dressed in white as is common in [the religious tradition of] Santería, many proclaimed that Mr. Hernández had saved their marriage [through his advice] and spoke of other favors he had given them."

Neighbors also said that as the hearse went by the neighborhood people waited for it to pass, some with flowers, others crying out loud.

According to Alfredo, "I think this contradicts and complicates the stereotypical ideas about homophobia in Latino communities."

Rumors also indicate that police have caught the murderer(s) but so far I have not seen any reports corroborating this fact. I'll run updates if they come my way.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A bone to pick...

Ok, so I admit I have voted on the Republican line at least once in my life (something local, fear not) but I am just about nuts with the assertion that, unlike the Katrina response, Bush handled 9/11 with determination and force of character. Whaaa...? For those of us who smelled the acrid cloud of smoke drifting from lower Manhattan to other parts of the city - and saw the city pull together in the aftermath without government intervention - we still remember how long it took for Bush to come out of hiding after reading a story to some school children that fateful morning. How to fix that faux pas? Grab onto the nearest NYFD firefighter once you get to the WTC site! No wonder most people in New York City voted for someone else than Bush during the last election! Come to think about it, what did Bush do after days of failing New Orleans residents? Hmmm...

Gwen Araujo Trial Verdicts In: 2 men guilty, jury deadlocks on 3rd

In a previous posting titled "Days of mouring - Part 8: Epilogue" I mentioned that a jury had reached a partial verdict in the second trial for three men accused of killing Gwen Araujo last Friday (the first one ended with a deadlocked jury) but that the court had sealed jury papers until a full verdict was in. Well, here it is: Michael Magidson and Jose Merel were declared guilty of second-degree murder and face 15 years to life in prison. The jury was deadlocked on Jason Cazares' involvement.

[UPDATE: Aparently while the court did convict these two men, they failed to convict on hate crime charges. There was a vigil in San Francisco tonight in which members of the transgender community celebrated the verdicts but also expressed dissapointment at the jury's failure to see this as a hate crime]

Last night from my block...

I was surprised to see the twin rays of light shooting up to the sky last night. Set up on the site of the WTC site, the lights were first used to memorialize 9/11 on the 1st year anniversary but they actually stayed up for days back then. Not sure if this year they will be up for more than a day but here's the view from Queens.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

So I know this couple...

Image: Curtis Woolbright and Daniel Reyes at the 2004 Wedding March accross the Brooklyn Bridge (click here for more photos of the march).

...sweet guys too. Well, Daniel just sent me this reminder that something other than the primary elections is taking place on Tuesday. Remember that little February court ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan saying that denying the right to marriage to same-sex couples was unconstitutional in New York State? Well, we all know that Mayor Mike Bloomberg decided to challenge that ruling, which now brings us to this...

From: Daniel S. Reyes
Sent: Sun 9/11/2005
Subject: Our day in court

Dear Friends,

We wanted send an update on our court case for civil marriage. As you may know, in February the court in NYC ruled that Curtis and I have to right to marry in NYC and so ordered the city clerk to issue marriage licenses. At the same time she issued a stay in the ruling to allow the city the opportunity to respond. (This process is NYS law whenever a municipality is ruled against.) Bloomberg and his band of "merry men" decided to appeal the decision to protect all of us from the apparent "chaos" that will ensue by allowing us to marry. (Remember that when you're voting for mayor! Along with the rest of his anti-gay track record.) As a result, the stay on the ruling is in effect until the matter is resolved by the state's highest court, the NYS Court of Appeals.

In March, both the city and Lambda Legal attempted to get the case fast tracked straight to the State Court of Appeals. The court declined to hear the case and sent it back to the appellate division, the state's intermediate courts. While this was disappointing, it was not unexpected.

On September 13, we will have our day in the appellate court. Oral arguments will be heard from both sides. While the city and lambda have resisted interference from outside conservative groups who want to intervene in our case, they have not been completely successful. Allowance has been made for the Liberty Counsel to file a friend of the court brief against us. They will however not be allowed to speak during oral arguments. The city has additionally decided to play dirty this time around and has resorted to base arguments for denying us civil marriage rights, namely procreation and "standards" created by religious ideals and "tradition." After oral arguments, a decision from the appellate court can come 30 days later or 6 months later or a year later. It will definitely be a waiting game.

Curtis and I will be in attendance and at the press conference following. However, we doubt there will be much coverage as it is primary day also in the city. So keep your fingers crossed and if you live in NYC, don't forget to vote!

Warm Wishes, Daniel & Curtis

[reprinted by permission - AD]


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Talking about Tuesday's primary...

A call I got this morning:

Me: Hello
Woman on the phone: Hello! I am calling to ask you if you are aware that Tuesday is primary election day and to see if you know that Fawrna...-ah, Fawrnando Ferr...-ah, Farraw? - ehem F-E-R-R-E-R .
Me: Fernando Ferrer?
Woman on the Phone: Yes! We would like to request that you vote for...
Me: I am voting for him...
Woman on phone: ...him this Tuesday... eh, you are voting for him?
Me: Yes
Woman on phone: That is great! Have you met him?
Me: Yes...
Woman on the phone: Oh! That's so exciting! But then New York City must be a pretty exciting place!
Me: Oh - Where are you calling from?
Woman on the phone: Oh, me? I'm calling from Florida but I am originally from Ohio.
Me: Well, let me give you a tip...
Woman on the phone: What?
Me: If you are going to be calling New York City voters, the correct pronunciation is Fernando Ferrer.
Woman on the phone: Aw, thanks, Farnadow Farrahr. Got it.

Nothing against outsourcing but I thought a campaign call from Florida from a woman from Ohio who had no idea of how to pronounce Ferrer's name even though she was pitching him for the NYC primary election was kinda funny.

As for other opinions on the candidates? Go no further than this fellow blogger's site.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Days of mourning - Part 8: Epilogue

Images (top to bottom): Julio Rivera on the cover of Gay City News; Rodney Velazquez; Gwen Araujo; Sylvia Guerrero holding her daughter Gwen's photo; LaTona Gunn; Sakia Gunn on the cover of Gay City News; Rashawn Brazell; Desire Brazell at adresses media at a vigil in honor of Rashawn; Dwan Prince's mom Valerie Prinez.

Though not by any means a comprehensive listing of other under-reported attacks and murders of LGBT folks, these are the ones that I carry in my heart. Most striking is that in most of these cases, the families of the victims, and particularly their mothers, have been moved to take action on behalf of their sons and daughters. Just like Eddie Garzon’s mother, Leonor, these women have moved earth and heaven to find justice. Leonor Garzon, LaTona Gunn, Sylvia Guerrero, Valerie Prinez are all unsung heroes. And, even though I helped to organize a community meeting with the local police precinct and the hate crimes unit in the Bronx after the gruesome death of Rodney Velazquez, I wonder how his mother is doing and why there seems to be so little additional information on that specific murder.

Julio Rivera was killed in July of 1990. His murder galvanized the Queens gay community and led to the launch of the Queens Pride Parade yet few people at the Queens gay bars would know about him. I briefly made mention of his murder in the blog posts about Eddie but, in a tragic coincidence, Julio was attacked fifteen years ago just two blocks away from where Eddie was attacked.

Rodney Velazquez was found dead in his apartment on August 4, 2002. A report of the shocking murder can be found here, information on a memorial vigil that took place in 2004 in the Bronx can be found here.

Gwen Araujo was killed on October 4, 2002. As I write, a jury has reached 2 verdicts in the trial of three men but the court has ordered the papers sealed while the jury verdict of the third man on trial is determined. This is the second trial after the first one ended with a deadlocked jury. There also were angels at a memorial held on October 1, 2002 and the Advocate ran a moving profile of Gwen’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, in March of 2004.

15 year old Sakia Gunn, died on May 11, 2003. An interview with Sakia’s mom, LaTona Gunn, and an overview of the community's response to the crime, here, courtesy of Keith Boykin. On further advocacy by her family here. Information about the Sakia Gunn Film Project here. Information on the trial of the confessed murderer here and here.

In February of 2005, parts of 19-year old Rashawn Brazell’s body were found in plastic garbage bags at different sites in Brooklyn. As horrific as the crime was, his mother, Desire Brazell, a social worker, has been tireless in her search for justice. The New York City Anti-Violence Project has accused the NYPD of dragging its feet in this case and the murder has been kept in people's mind by Gay City News and a myriad of blogs and bloggers out there who refuse to let the crime fall from the city's consciousness. Photos I took at a vigil in memory of Rashawn that took place on March 25 in which Ms. Brazell addressed the crowd and media can be seen here.

On June 9th, 2005, Dwan Prince was beaten in a bias incident that has left him in a coma to this date. His mother, Valerie Prinez, met Desire Brazell at a rally organized by Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered (GLOBE) on June 19th.

Simply, whether hate crimes or not, they all deserve justice...

This is the last in a series of posts, to read previous posts go to:

*** UPDATE: Eddie Garzon: After five years, an arrest (June 29, 2006)