Sunday, February 26, 2006

Marga Gomez comes home: Los Big Names

It's nice to see Marga Gomez get some props in today's New York Times.

She is featured in the "One to Watch" section of their annual Spring theatre season preview. The amazing actress will be bringing her auto-biographical one-woman show "
Los Big Names" to New York on April 9th. It's the latest in a series of solo performances in which she explores living in the United States as a Latina lesbian and her relationship with her family. Often hilarious, she also mines deeply personal and emotional universal themes. Currently, "Los Big Names" is playing at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco's Mission District before its Broadway debut so if you're in San Francisco, check it out!

As for her big-time Hollywood movie debut as "military personnel and computer expert Jane Edmund" in "Sphere," check out her thoughts here.

Gay City News launches First Annual Progress Report

On Thursday Gay City News will publish their "First Annual Progress Report" on LGBT issues facing New York City.

This year they have chosen to focus on "community movers and shakers" and have requested opinion pieces from several community leaders including OutPOCPAC Co-chair Doug Robinson, Stonewall Democrats of New York Board of Governors Co-chair Bob Zuckerman, Michael Adams from the ACLU, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle, amongst others.

I was also honored to be asked to contribute to the issue and have written a piece on the need to engage local Latino LGBT grassroots organizations in efforts to get community support for the right for same-sex couples to get married.

I'm sure there'll be a few interesting pieces in the bunch so tune in on Thursday. I'll post a link to my piece once the issue is out.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Advocate, NYC Council Speaker Quinn are both wrong regarding Queens politics

In the March 14, 2006 cover-date issue of The Advocate which hit my mailbox today, Sean Kennedy asks newly annointed New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn a few questions including:
Q: Much of your support came from Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Those are not exactly progressive hotbeds compared with Manhattan's West Side.

Christine responds: They may not be the West side of Manhattan, but as I had the honor and fun of traveling around the city for the past couple of years running for speaker, there is no borough that I've gone to that where I haven't met or interacted with with an LGBT person. And in the city of New York, although we're obviously concentrated somewhat in some neighborhoods more than in others, the truth is we are really everywhere - and all of the county Democratic organizations now have active LGBT members. This victory is a reflection of how hard rank-and-file LGBT Democrats have worked and how much progress they have made in moving our community forward in politics and activism in this city.
Hm, good answer! Although a bit misleading. Manhattan writers often see the outer boroughs as scary hinterlands devoid of any progressive communities, much less a visible LGBT presence (anything outside Manhattan becomes "Brokeback Mountain") and Christine is right to call Sean on his assumptions. But, as I wrote in "Christine Quinn, NYC Council Speaker" (Jan. 12, 2006), progressive Democratic politics in Queens is not what necessarily got the Queens Democratic Party bosses to endorse Christine for the Speakership position. Indeed, she might be a tad too beholden to Tom Manton, Chair of the Queens Denocratic Party, and not necessarily the most progressive of Democratic party leaders in the city.

Much has been made of the
February 17th city council blood bath as 61 city council staffers were axed from their jobs though I'm willing to believe that this is par for the course whenever a new Speaker is elected (after all, most are political appointments). But some in the City Council's Black, Latino and Asian caucus are raising flags about the timing and arbitrariedness of the firings and say that they will keep an eye on how the positions will be filled and if she will reward Queens party leaders. The Quinn team responded by placing this item in the New York Observer's Politicker blog. But Backroom Deal Breaker has gone a step further and filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the full list of fired employees (hm, can an anonymous source like BDB do that?). In any case, it might get more interesting... or maybe not. This sorta thing bores people anyway.

Peruvian gays: Presidential candidates are "hypochrites"

On Thursday, in "Gays can serve on cabinet, says Peruvian presidential candidate," I reported that Ollanta Humala - a left-wing former military leader who is running second in the Peruvian presidential election polls - had expressed support for the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, as long as it was not in the form of marriage, and said that gays could serve on his presidential cabinet as long as they met the requirements for the position. This according to EFE coverage of a news conference by Humala earlier that day.

Global Voices online picked up on my post but also picked up on a far more comprehensive look at the local coverage of the press conference by Fabiola Bazo and Maxwell A. Cameron at the University of British Columbia's Department of Political Science blog.

The press conference, in which Humala meant to charge against what he deemed "a lack of balanced coverage [of his campaign] by the media" covered topics as wide-ranging as trade with the United States (he says that more details are needed before the government can sign a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.) and alledged charges that he might have committed human rights abuses during his military career (he said that he had not killed or tortured anyone outside of combat, a qualified 'no' as any I've heard recently, and he also admitted that he had trained at the nefarious United States-ran military School of the Americas).

According to the UBC blog, Humala's comments on gay rights and abortion (he said he respects a woman's right to chose) came after prodding from reporters.

In the meantime, today La Primera is reporting that Jorge Bracamonte from the Peruvian gay rights organization, Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MoHL), has called both Humala and the conservative Congresswoman - and leading presidential candidate - Lourdes Flores Nano "hypochrites" for claiming they respect gays while refusing to say if they will sponsor a government-led anti-discrimination law.

Bracamento, who is also running for a lower office on the Socialist Party line, told La Primera that the two candidates "are engaging in double-speak because while saying that they will include gays in the cabinet, they will not promote any laws in our favor."

Bracamonte added: "They have a hypochritical strategy to draw votes. In practice, they tell us to do whatever we want to do in private, inside of the four walls, but they do not recognize equal rights nor do they advocate against discrimination."

He also argued that the debate on the issue of same-sex marriage was a non-starter since, according to Bracamonte, gays in Peru had never demanded the right to religious matrimony but, instead, had asked to be allowed to enter into civil unions that would extend same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The church of David Papaleo (a/k/a Ex-Porn Star Tom Katt)

OK, this might be a bit off-subject, considering that I rant mostly about Latino stuff but stories like these actually fascinate me.

Turns out one of the biggest gay porn stars of the last decade, who I briefly met at a gay pride parade here in Manhattan, says that he has retired from gay porn, found Jesus Christ, thought he was bisexual but now knows for certain he is straight, has retired his Tom Katt porn name (he responds to David Papaleo now), wants to become a priest and, get this, still thinks that God loves gays and lesbians and that they should have the right to marry!

As someone who thinks that sexual identity is more fluid than people give it credit, I will take Mr. Papaleo's statements at face value. What is different about his statements and those of so called "Ex-gays" that some conservative churches trot out to media to prove that sexual identity can be changed, is that the so-called change also comes with a repudiation of homosexuality and the argument that to be in God's graces one must abandon one's identity (or, in their words, one's 'lifestyle').

In an interview with the Dallas Voice published today, Mr. Papaleo does not argue that people can change their sexual identity, he does not argue that being gay means you are evil and says that his new-found belief in Christianity was not a catalyst for now leading a straight life (he is now a married man).

He does share some other interesting points of view.

Of his experience as a porn star he says: "I don't think that erotica or sexuality is a bad thing. I believe that sex is the strongest physical expression of love to another person. But porn is not an expression of love. It's empty and cold. There is nothing wrong with sex. God made sex, too."

As for Christian fundamentalists preaching against gays: "So many people are shunned or feel like they've been pushed away from God - that God doesn't want anything to do with them. I want to tell as many people as I can that that is an absolute lie. God loves everybody. He made you the way you are [...] Don't let anyone tell you you're less than anything in God's eyes."

I say, give the man a church!

UPDATE: David Papaleo shows us love, we show love back (March 1, 2006)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gays can serve on cabinet, says Peruvian presidential candidate

"I am not in favor of marriage between homosexuals, but I believe in repecting individualities," said left-leaning Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala today at a press conference as reported by EFE. "We should do something similar to France, where treaties [between same-sex couples] are permitted. Even if I don't believe, on a personal basis, that it should be equal to marriage, the rights of gay couples should be recognized."

According to EFE, Humala also said he would accept gays in his presidential cabinet: "What is important to me is the way that a person will undertake his responsibilities and if he is a patriot."

Ollanta, who is running a strong second to a right-leaning Congresswoman named Lourdes Flores Nano, is best known for his military career in which he fought the remnants of the violent Shining Path guerrillas, and for leading a military uprising against deposed president Alberto Fujimori. Recently he has been dogged by allegations of his participation in human rights violations during his military career which have started to affect him at the polls.

His left-wing ideologies, populist nationalism and support for nationalizing Peruvian business interests have led political analysts to compare him to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Bolivian president Evo Morales, with whom he shares an alliegance to his indigenous Inca roots. Closer to his military background, Humala also told EFE (according to today's article) that he was against the legalization of drugs and also pledged to legalize the death penalty for cases involving the rape of minors.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New York Marriage Ambassadors

Look! It's my friend Carolina Cordero Dyer, her partner Claudia Glaser, and their twins Diego Alexander and Carmen Lucia on the front page of this week's New York Blade! They are featured in a project led by the Empire State Pride Agenda, Lambda Legal, GLAAD and the ACLU to train "Marriage Embassadors" who can advocate for the right of same-sex couples to marry in New York State. The story also features the great straight-ally and Latino-PFLAG leader Nila Marrone. As part of the project myself I will be helping them to organize a people of color specific training here in New York on March 17th and 18th. For more information you can go to the Empire State Pride Agenda's website.

The Blade also features another project in which I am involved through the National Latino Coalition for Justice on which I posted earlier. That article can be found here.

Internet campaign tackles worldwide violence against lesbians and gays

Amnesty International's Spanish office has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about human rights abuses against sexual minorities worldwide. According an article published yesterday in El Mundo, AI's Leonardo Fernandez says that the original idea was to find a well-known lesbian celebrity and a well-known gay male celebrity to be featured in the internet-based campaign but, while two gay men signed up, they could only find a straight woman who played a lesbian role in a television series to participate. Strangely, when I visited their site, I could not find a link to the campaign itself (maybe it has yet to be officially launched) although El Mundo has a link on their page to the part of the campaign featuring television presenter Jesus Vazquez. That part of the campaign, titled "Travel with Jesus Vazquez!" is interactive and can be seen here. The page says "Try and you'll see what happens! You will be surprised" and then lets you click on "Choose a destination."

Thanks to the Vivirlatino Blog for alerting us to the campaign.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

OutPOCPAC hosts Jonathan Tasini

Jonathan Tasini, center, meets with members of OutPOCPAC
Tonight, the Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC) held a general club meeting and had New York Senate candidate Jonathan Tasini as the night's guest. Though not an endorsement meeting, it was my feeling that Tasini wowed the club and could end up wowing some of the other LGBT political clubs in the city as well. This could be significant as he is challenging incumbent New York State Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has not necessarily been great on LGBT issues.

Cruisers in Buenos Aires: "They even kissed for the cameras"

Well, Atlantis Events' Insignia Oceania, has left Buenos Aires and should have docked in Chile over the weekend. As for the passengers, Clarin reports "They looked out from [the cruise ships'] the bridges and rooms and waved hello. They cheered and they even kissed for the cameras." The horror.

Esposas Deseperadas

In the Sunday New York Times, Mireya Navarro takes a look at the women who dub the ABC soap "Desperate Housewives" to Spanish (photo by Times photographer J. Emilio Flores). My friend Bernie, who just wrote about the surprising places where voiceover work has taken him, might appreciate the article.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Around the neighborhood: Cigar Bollywood

It's been a while since I spoke about the neighborhood so allow me to comment on a trend that seems to have come and gone quickly. Jackson Heights is home to one of the most diverse communities in the world and that is one of the big reasons why I love living here. One of the largest is the Indian community which is why the neighborhood is sometimes called "Little India." So if you walk down 74th Street off Roosevelt Avenue you will probably see some of the best Indian food restaurants in the city, glittering jewelry shops, Indian-owned and Indian-staffed supermarkets and, of course, a dozen Indian movie DVD and VHS shops carrying the latest Bollywood blockbusters. Then there's The Eagle movie palace on 37th Road which runs the biggest blockbusters from India, often on the same day that the film opens there (never mind that when I first got to Jackson Heights in the 1990's, the theatre used to be called The Earle and used to run straight porn films).

Anyhoo - Not a cigarette smoker myself but someone who enjoys a cigar once in a while, I have always been struck by what seems to be Indian smoker's allegiance to Dunhill cigarettes or Silk Cuts. Sure, they smell better than any menthol cigarettes such as Newport (which unfortunately seems to be the smoke of choice among city Latinos and blacks) but don't they carry some colonial British baggage? Also, tell all those 'NASCAR dad' political prognosticators that here is where the Skoal and Coppenhahgen dip tobacco cans truly sell out.

In any case, last year I started noticing that some of the Bollywood film posters began to feature some cigar imagery used to portray either a rugged hero or a bad guy, as cigars have been used in popular culture in the United States. And I was fascinated by the fact that these movies seemed to be adopting some of the same language used by US blockbusters (not necessarily a good thing).

One of these films, "Family: Ties of Blood," used such imagery in a "Sopranos" kinda way but aparently drew the wrath of anti-smoking advocates in India according to this BBC report. Now, one of India's best known and loved actors, Amitabh Bachchan (known as Mr. B), is embroiled in the fracas and India is involved in a discussion on whether to ban any depiction of smoking from film screens. Mr. B has apologized for smoking a cigar during the promo shoots of the movie and said that he was not a smoker himself. Others feel that eliminating any depiction of smoking in a film is mere censorship.

The movie, since released, did not get great reviews, but the uproar that followed its release in India might mean the end of the cigar trend in Bollywood..

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Pressure

News today that the first couple to get married in New Paltz, New York, is splitting up. I am sure some of the conservative forces will have a field day with this one, just as they have with the recent news that the first openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson has voluntarily checked in for alcohol-addiction treatment. Yet you wonder if the pressure of being "the first ones to..." was a factor in these latest developments.

Of course straight marriages also fail (ask anyone from Jessica Simpson to Elizabeth Taylor), but, for some weird reason, I was drawn to the
Billian vanRoestenberg - Jeffrey McGowan marriage (both are pictured above in 2004 with friend and doggie) if only because former US Army Major Jefferey McGowen used to live in my adopted neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens.

Of course, that was not the only bad news that came down this week about the right for same-sex couples to have access to marriage in New York State. I will let Art Leonard expand on the details here. Last night I ran into New York State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donell (who is a plaintiff in that particular suit along with his partner). He seemed confident that the ACLU would emerge victorious on appeal.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mexico: Gay Marriage Would Reduce HIV Transmission Rate

Jorge Saavedra, Director of the Mexican government's National Center for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS, said the following to participants at an HIV prevention conference this week:
Marriage is a factor in the reduction of sexual partners for heterosexuals, it reduces the risk of contracting AIDS, which is why to open that possibility for homosexuals would be positive in reducing infection rates.
This according to an EFE article published today by the Mexican newspaper Cambio. There have been attempts in the past by Mexico City legislators to pass a 'Cohabitation Bill' which would basically extend benefits afforded to heterosexual couples in common law marriages but they have largely failed. A Valentine's Day rally to demand the right to marry for Mexican same-sex coiples (which has become an annual event) drew more than 800 people on February 14th, according to La Jornada, but gaining the right to marry remains an uphill struggle in a country as machista as Mexico.

Back in November at the 4th Central American Congress on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Saavedra was awarded the AIDS Responsibility Project's Leadership Award for his efforts to fight homophobia in Mexico. Under his watch, the gubernmental agency he leads launched a series of groundbreaking radio ads which directly taclked the issue and led an effort to get business agencies to get involved in supporting efforts to fight AIDS in Mexico.

You can download the Spanish-language audio files for both radio spots, "La Cena" and "Preguntas" here (they're a little more than half-way down the page, under the title "Arranca en 7 ciudades campaña radiofónica contra la homofobia".

Friday, February 17, 2006

Yey! Updates: Wilson Cruz, Laisa Reyes, No Love, La Trevi

When Rod 2.0 alerted us to stunningly low job approval ratings for President Bush in the aftermath of the hurricaine (Oct. 13, 2005), we were afraid to ask what the margin of error was. Not necessarily on the same topic, and a definitely happier alert, Rod says that he has interviewed gay Latino hottie Wilson Cruz for the next issue of Clik. We'll be looking for it in the newstands. Kudos ro Rod for landing the interview.

Regarding Colombia: Transgender Diva (Jan. 13, 2006), perhaps the most visited post in this blog, last week I actually had the opportunity to talk to
Endry Cardeño (pictured above), the transgender woman who plays Laisa Reyes in the popular Colombian soap opera "Los Reyes." I had been asked to participate in a morning radio show broadcasting from Bogota on how coming out might be different in the United States than in my home country of Colombia. I knew that a good friend of mine, German Rincon - an amazing gay rights advocate and attorney - would be amongst the guests but, to my huge surprise, Endry was also invited. I took the oportunity to congratulate her on the soap and the work she was doing to bring down stereotypes about transgender people in Colombia. Yes, I can get a bit star-struck sometimes. Then again, I know people who are making their families tape "Los Reyes" so they can see it here.

Regarding A Year Without Love (Feb. 7, 2006), I have yet to see the film since it opened in New York but Gary Kramer at Gay City News gives it a rave review.

Regarding La Trevi en New York at Splash on March 7, both Syed and Elena Mary have taken me to task for daring to say that I am not a big fan of Gloria Trevi's music. She is, after all, the "Mexican Madonna!" I guess I'll have to atone for my sins at Splash when I go see her live. The night closes a mini-tour of gay bars throughout the United States. The Miami Herald filed this story on the eve of her Feb. 14th performance in Miami Beach. In the article, the tour promoter says: "The gay community has always believed in her, a lot of them understand when you're wrongly accused because of sexual behavior. When she came out of it all triumphantly it helped her."

La Trevi says: "I'm so grateful and proud [to have gay fans]. When I was in trouble, the gays didn't abandon me."

Let's see how the night at Splash goes.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Guatemala gay porn uproar

A gay porn flick released by the Miami- based Kristen Bjorn Productions in 2004 called "Men Amongst the Ruins" is raising heckles from local community leaders in the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala, who are disturbed that some of the sex scenes were aparently filmed in the ruins of colonial-era Christian temples.

Antonio Tovar, the Director of Conservation of Ancient Guatemala, told the AP that while the production company did film in an 18th century Catholic temple that has since been converted into a museum, the sex scenes were filmed elsewhere and edited to seem as if they took place inside the museum.

Antigua, which dates back to the 16th century, used to be Guatemala's capital city until a series of earthquakes left it nearly deserted in the 18th century and Guatemala City became it's last and current capital. Kristen Bjorn, known for the exotic worldwide locales he choses as settings for his porn films, did not make a comment to the AP.

So, while the Guatemalan gay rights organization has suffered the loss of eight of its members to violence just this year, a US-based gay porn producer uses a Central American city for profit (reminds me of something else) and Guatemalan authorities seem to care more about the sex that aparently never took place in a temple than the rash of killings that has plagued OASIS over the years.

UPDATE: You can read more about this at "Drowning in a glass of water" from El Blog Diabolico.

Guatemalan police implicated in murder of trans woman

Today, the Latin American bureau of the AP is reporting that the country's Human Rights Ombudsman, Sergio Morales, released a statement charging that police were involved in the clandestine shooting of a transgender woman who was a member of the gay rights and HIV prevention organization OASIS. As usual, the AP publishes the victim's name of birth and categorizes the victim as a homosexual man but ads "[Juan Pablo] Mendez Cartagena, known as 'Paulina' in the homosexual world, died in a nearby hospital from bullet shot wounds" and that the shooting occurred "in a street known as travesti and transsexual prostitution area."

Pray tell, what does 'the homosexual world' mean to the AP? And while we are at it, why not dignify the woman who was killed by giving her the name with which she chose to live her life? (at least the English language Reuters story gets it right)

Of course, that is an issue of semantics and reporting. Much more serious is that OASIS members continue to be victims of such horrible violence: The agency tells the AP that eight of their members have been murdered in what is a young year and the sad thing is that it's not something new. Check out this profile of OASIS from the online webzine, The Gully, from 2000.

The Ombudsman did not release additional information such as the names of the officers saying that the investigation was still in process.

Jorge Lopez (pictured above), the Director of OASIS, told the AP "we hope that the investigation is followed to the end."

Photo credit: E. Sologaistoa, taken from The Gully.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Diversity Center fails in San Antonio, Texas

An interesting read as well... from the San Antonio Current, "Would the rich gay, white men please stand up?" (I swear that's the original title!)

Clueless cruising

Cayman Islands: A cruise passenger received a caution from Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis for hyping up the protesters (Caribbean Net News)
As we all know, we all are gay because we have tons of disposable income, love to travel and, at least for gays in the United States, love to make the rest of the world our personal playground, damn the local communities! (Sorta like The Amazing Race, which I actually like, except with rainbow flags pouring outta everything and I'm sorta over the rainbow flag waving myself).

So allow me to make certain connections between two news stories that came my way this month:

Yesterday, Diario Hoy from La Plata, Argentina, reported that a gay cruise ship, Oceania Insignia, will make its arrival in a Buenos Aires, allegedly making it the first gay cruise ship ever to dock in the South American country. The ship, which originally departed from Miami, will eventually travel to Chile and then end its journey in Brazil just in time for Rio de Janeiro's carnival season. With a tripulation of 400 (!?) and an additional 700 travelers, Diario Hoy says that most are United States citizens known as "Dinks" (a term the paper says is widely used everywhere as an acronym for "double incoming no kid" or, I assume, double income, no kids). Now, if you like to butch-it up a little with leather chaps for a 'leather-daddy-for-a-day'-themed sea adventure (but find leather bars such as The Eagle too darn scary), or maybe want to dress in drag for the first time ever for that 'drag fantasia' night (but would rather die than show your drag photos to others once the trip is over), by all means get yourself secuestered in one of these hulking ships for days on end and enjoy! But why make the rest of the world suffer such displays of, ehem, dinkiness?

Argentina, Chile and Brazil might just shrug in puzzlement. The same cannot be said of the Cayman Islands, which is still in uproar after yet another United States gay cruise ship docked in its capital city, George Town, last week with more than 3,200 gay men. Some Caribbean islands unfortunately are still beholden to some of the worst effects of colonial rule which, among other things, brought with it government-enshrined homophobia
(the Cayman Islands are still a Bristih colony) - which some now claim as tradition:

"For the 'true born' Caymanian to welcome a group of tourists that encourages a homosexual lifestyle that is contrary to the predominant culture on these Islands makes no sense in this context," editorialized Cayman Net News chiding the local government for giving permission for the Atlantis Events cruise ship to dock in the island (back in 1998, another gay cruise ship was turned away).

Even before the ship arrived, the Cayman Minister's Association called for a protest (about 100 people showed up) but most of the visiting cruisers were clueless. The Cayman Compass reported that Brad Loase from North Carolina "was shocked by the protestors because a newsletter on board the ship had carried a message that the Minister of Tourism in the Cayman Islands guaranteed that they would be welcome." Another Cayman Compass article reports "some gay cruise passengers emerging from the ship said that they had been told nothing about their presence in Grand Cayman causing a stir."

"We come here because of the same reason other tourists come to the Island," said Atlantis Events CEO Rich Campbell to the Cayman Net News, "It's a beautiful destination, it has great beaches, fantastic shopping, wonderful excursions, excellent facilities and lovely people" (I guess it also makes Mr. Campbell a bigger dink as these cruise lines must make him a pretty penny - sorta explains why some of the passengers were not told they might be in for protests).

Of course, not everyone was unwelcoming. A group of women held 'welcome' signs when the ship arrived and not everyone who was interviewed had bad things to say about the gay tourists according to one of the articles. Others, while not fully accepting of homosexuality, still rejected hostility and homophobia as being truly Christian virtues.

But, even days after the ship had left the Caymans, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin alluded to the cruise ship incident when arguing that he "would not sanction alternative lifestyles programmes being taught in schools."

Don't get me wrong. Gays should be able to travel anywhere, including the Cayman Islands, and I hope that some islands in the Caribbean truly address and stomp out the type of homophobia that killed Lanford "Steve" Harvey in Jamaica but a cruise ship business owner who uses the island for profit while celebrating the trip as a gay-rights issue and a bunch of clueless gay tourists who frolick in the Cayman's beaches and leave without a sense of the social conflicts they have stirred-up are not necessarily what will bring about change.

The least Atlantis Events could do is to donate part of their earnings to gay-rights organizations in the countries they 'sell' to their gay cruise passengers.

UPDATE: "They Even Kissed for the Cameras!" (2/21/06)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Darn it! I just missed the cut

New York magazine has a blogolicious issue out on the stands. It has an article on "The Blog Establishment," and a listing of "The Top 50 Blogs." Andrew Sullivan made it at #50. Alas, Blabbeando just missed the cut at #51.

Then again, it's all about the linking to others, so perhaps I should heed Modern Fabulosity.

"Marriage Equality Matters" is Launched

Yesterday, the National Latina/o Coalition for Justice, the Black Justice Coalition, Asian Equality, Freedom to Marry and Lambda Legal launched a national campaign to increase the visibility of people of color who support same-sex marriage according to articles published today in and The The "Marriage Equality Matters" campaign was launched in conjunction with the national Freedom to Marry Week which began on February 12th. To find out more you can visit this site. You can also join the campaign here, and download campaign materials here (I am a member of the National Latina/o Coalition for Justice).

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sakia Gunn, Rashawn Brazell resurface in media

I have often criticized why mainstream media sometimes turns a blind-eye to the murder of LGBT people of color so it's surprising to see two newspapers run stories today that make reference to the murders of Sakia Gunn and Rashawn Brazell (pictured).

Today, the North Jersey Herald News runs an interview with the only black lesbian couple suing the State of New Jersey to gain the right to marry. Alicia Toby-Heath and Saundra Heath-Toby talk about their involvement in the historic suit and say that one big reason why they decided to become visible advocates on the marriage front was the murder of 15-year old Sakia Gunn in 2003:

"That ... kind of sealed why I did this," Alicia tells the News, "There are young folk who need to know that there is promise and hope as young lesbian and gay kids... that there is the possibility of some solid commitment and family."

And, while Sakia's attackers were eventually brought to court, today's issue of the New York Times looks back at the yet unresolved and brutal killing of 19 year-old Rashawn Brazell, whose body was found dismembered and in separate trash-bags in two different Brooklyn sites a year ago.

In the Times article, Kareem Fahim and John Kolbin report that leads have led nowhere and tips have stopped coming in. What shines in the article is Desiree Brazell's unfaltering call for justice for her son. I was also struck by the fact that an officer from the NYPD spoke to the Times off-the-record regarding the case. NYPD policy is not to comment publicly on open murder investigations unless 1 Police Plaza says it's ok but sometimes police officers within the department truly watch over these cases and help to keep the investigations alive (as was the case in the murder of a friend, Eddie Garzon, back in 2001 although the case of his murder has also not been resolved).

On a related note, Larry Lyons and Mervyn Marcano, founders of the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund, also have re-launched the website which I encourage you to visit. Larry and Mervyn, as well as other community activists and bloggers have been also instrumental in keeping this unresolved crime in the spotlight.

The Day After Tomorrow

Yes, it was the blizzard of the century in New York City (though for some reason it didn't quite feel that way). Alas, Dennis Quaid didn't show up in snow booties. In any case, I just love snow. More photos here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

La Trevi en Nueva York at Splash on March 7th

Like Yuri, that other Mexican starlett on the come-back trail, Gloria Trevi also performed at some Mexican gay bars last year. Both were crowned as "Queen of All Gays" by bar owners and club promoters who aparently didn't know - or care - that there was more than one crown. Both tried to regain their separate stature as the "Madonnas of Mexico."

Both, incidentally, also draw an almost devotional gay following throughout Latin America and in immigrant communities in this country based on their soap-like lives: Yuri fell hard from the top of her career in the late 1980's and early 1990's and released a series of religious music albums that flopped after becoming a born-again Christian, while La Trevi spent time in jail but was never charged in a sordid tale that included allegations of child abuse, conceiving a child while in a Brazilian jail and the emancipation from a Tommy Motola-like character named Sergio Andrade who went from being her manager to being her husband a-la Mariah (and more recently a-la Thalia). Yes, it's all very complicated and over-the-top and you can read all about it in this 2004 profile from the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

In January promoters announced that La Trevi would go a step further and actually do a mini-tour of United States gay bars and partnered with Miami's Unity Coalition (and GLAAD) to spearhead the promotional campaign nationally. Queerty wasn't impressed but, after seven dates, the tour will come to an end at Splash on Tuesday, March 7th. I'm not sure I like her music that much but the boyfriend is a big fan and it should be fun to see the audience's adoration. If only the promoters had chosen a Queens bar instead of Splash! Actually, come to think of it, that might have caused a fan riot!

[FULL DISCLOSURE: My organization was offered first digs at co-sponsoring the event locally but I suggested that they reach out to the SOMOS... Project instead, which fights against homophobia in the Spanish-speaking communities of New York]

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Latino gay man killed in San Francisco

The Bay Area Reporter is reporting in today's issue that Chad Ferriera, a former Club Papi staffer and gymn trainer, died on February 4th, six days after two men beat him up on Market Street, near the Castro Street intersection. According to a witness quoted in the article, the assault apparently stemmed from an angry exchange of words that one of Ferreira's friends had while standing in line for the bathroom inside the Castro gay establishment, The Bar.

A memorial service is planned for tonight at the Lima Family Erickson Memorial Chapel on 710 Willow Street (off Bird Avenue in San Jose). Club Papi will also be holding a benefit party in his memory on Saturday, February 11th. More details (and photos of Chad) here.

Forever More - The Video

Given that I haven't written the words "Roisin Murphy" so far in 2006 (she is the former Moloko vocalist who went solo last year and released my favorite album of 2005, "Ruby Blue"), I might as well share with you a link I found today to one of my favorite music videos ever. Yes, the track is from Moloko's last and best album, "Statues," which was never released in the United States. The song is amazing, but it's the video to "Forever More" that is a stunner. Watch it here, I hope you like it too.

You can also download Roisin's brand new video for "Sow Into You," her latest single, from Ario's Live Journal here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Azi, We Hardly Knew Ye?

It's not even a week since Azi Paybarah's "The 51st State" blog was added to my Political Links but, alas, it is now dead (or, as Azi says, "It's All Over") as a result of the worlwide Muslim reaction to the publication of what some see as sacrilegious cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed.

Many Unites States newspapers have decided to abstain from running the cartoons, even though they are all over the place in the blogosphere. The New York Press, which recently hired Azi to do political commentary and which hosted his blog, decided not to run the cartoons as well. In this case, though, Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel, Managing Editor Tim Marchman, Arts Editor Jonathan Leaf and Azi decided to resign, arguing censorship and the loss of freedom of speech.

The boys and gals at Stonewall Demorats - NYC (or SDNYC), have been in touch with Azi and it appears that a new blog is in the works. I'll update as warranted.

UPDATE: Hm, that was fast! Presenting the NEW "51st State" blog (Political Link feed updated as well)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Year Without Love

Talking about e-mail lists from Argentina, about a year ago I found myself in the middle of a discussion about the veracity and realism of "Un Año Sin Amor," a film from Argentina based on Pablo Perez' published diaries of the same name. What was bizarre was that the discussion included several men who were the real life counterparts to those mentioned in the diary and the movie, including "The Sheriff." The consensus was that the film necessarily used some dramatic liberties and that leather life in Buenos Aires in the late 1990's was not as extensive as the film shows, but that the film got other things right.

The diary - and film - tells of the twelve months that follow Pablo's HIV positive diagnosis, his prolonged depression, his escape into anonymous sex and his rebirth - of sorts - when he is adopted by an extended family of gay men who practice sado-masochism in the underground clubs of Buenos Aires.

Dubbed "A Year Without Love," the film opens in New York this Friday and is already getting some good reviews States-side. I have yet to see it but it will be interesting to see that side of Argentina gay culture represented on screen.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Brokeback in Argentina: Los Gauchos Gay

Now that Brokeback Mountain is hitting theatres in Latin America (where it's been dubbed "Secretos de la Montaña" or "Secrets of the Mountain," some interesting reflections have started to be explored in media about machismo, masculinity and sexuality.

This weekend, Revista Veintitres in Argentina takes a look at "Los Gauchos Gay" in a front page story promising a look at homosexuality among the rural Gaucho cowboys of Argentina. Aparently the article focuses on the existance of a gay bar in the rural district of Suipacha and its clientele. Unfortunately, that's as much details as I have about the article as access to website content is available by subscription only.


Friday, February 03, 2006

BEARback yes, Bareback NO

Last year a friend brought his Venezuelan friend, a bearish guy living in Spain, to my place of work so he could meet my boyfriend and I. Well, a year has passed and lo and behold, he was back today. This time though, I caught his name.

No wonder I recognized his face: He's the famed photographer, Juan Antino, who has pretty much documented the Bear world throughout
Spain, Europe and the rest of the world. Better yet, with collaboration from on of his friends, Javier Hartza, Antino has decided to launch a project to promote HIV prevention in the Bear community and is seeking partners throughout the world to engage in the campaign for free.

So far the campaign has consisted in a series of palm-cards, posters and web banners promoting a sex-positive, condom-positive message in Spanish, English and German. The main message is "Pelos si, a pelo NO" (a literal translation is "Hairs yes, not bare" which they have smartly re-frased in English to "BEARback yes, Bareback NO").
They are already working with bear groups throughout Spain, Costa Rica, the United States and elsewhere.

If you want to see some of Antino's professional photography work you can go to his webpage (where you can also click on the link "Info Gallery Bears Against AIDS" to take a look at the palm cards). Wish direct prevention campaigns like these were being done in the
United States. Granted, they might not be for everyone but as targetted community campaigns they can have more effect than generalized HIV prevention messages.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Brokeback 2: Top Gun

Ladies and gentlemen: Brokeback 2 - Top Gun (if only they could have aded a Rick Rossovich threeway!).

New Blog Links: Leonard Link and SDNYC

Two new blog links at the right of this page:

Under 'Personal Links' is
Leonard Link, NYU Law Professor Arthur S. Leonard's blog - he also writes on legal issues for Gay City News - and under 'Political Links' is the Stonewall Democrats of New York City's new blog, or, as Azi Paybarah calls them in HIS blog, The 51st State, "the people who brought you that great Cuomo not the homo exchange."

Come to think of it, I should also ad
Azi's blog to the political links.


When Ruben Marone of Grupo Nexo called me earlier in the week and said he was in New York City for a few days, it was a great surprise since - even though I've probably known him for more than eight years - we had never met personally.

Ruben is a member of a news e-mail list through which I get most of the information about Argentina LGBT rights issues. Nexo, which started as a group of friends who launched an amazing LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS information magazine called NX, now provide health and HIV prevention services in Buenos Aires (the magazine was a victim of Argentina's economic collapse in 2001 though a few additional issues were printed in 2003).

Last night we went out for drinks and caught up to the latest developments. Aparently he had been told to avoid the bars on Christopher Street so I'm actually glad that I took him to Ty's and showed him that the bars weren't as dangerous as people had made them seem (he he). An observation: Ruben says that he's noticed that in New York, people are friendly but they don't like to touch. He says that in Argentina everyone is affectionate, whatever their gender or sexual identity, and that people grab hands, hug or generally touch you when greeting each other. He says that he understands that this is cultutral and is in no way representative of degrees of friendliness but it's the one thing that has struck him the most in this first visit to the United States.