Friday, April 28, 2006

You Tube of the day: Gravitate to Me

Ok, never mind that I'm actually starting to look a little bit like Matt Johnson now that I have started to clip my hair short, or that this video actually looks like some of my short black and white films I did in college, but the You Tube find of the day is the video for The The's "Gravitate to Me."

The song, a hypnotic slow-burner from 1989's "Mind Bomb" album, is vintage The The, with its preocupation with flesh, bodily fluids, seedy hotel rooms, dominant female ghots, the Lynchian "Blue Velvet" tropes, birth, death and a saving light. It's a Charles Bukowski epic in 8 minutes and a half. Sorta erotic in some bizarre way (plus it has Johnny Marr on guitars, fresh off the disbanding of The Smiths).

What else can I say? Just sit back and enjoy!

Best CD of 2005 is now out in the US: Roisin Murphy's Ruby Blue

Without much fanfare, the US arm of British record house ECHO, has released a US-version of the best record of 2005, Rosin Murphy's Ruby Blue. The track-listing is no different but it means you can now get it for a non-import price. You can listen to some tracks at the above links. Initially, it will sound a bit experimental and off-track but it will definitely seep into your consciousness with repeated listens.

UPDATE: Yesterday, Thomas Dolby, Sunday, Roisin Murphy (May 4, 2006)

Checking-up on Emanuel Xavier

It's been a while since Blabbeando checked-up on Emanuel Xavier. Of notice, then, is an brand-new interview posted on line that you might be interested in checking out.

In an exclusive for's Conversations Magazine, Emanuel talks about the writing process, self-promotion, the ups and downs of the publishing world, and the repercussions of the beating he suffered last year. He also talks a bit about the recent nomination for the Lambda Literary Awards and a few events that are lined up for this year.

You can always check Emanuel's own website for updates as well.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Xenophobic hate in all its glory:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Update: State Minority Leader David Patterson on the Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.

OK, you must be bored to death over these updates on the Diazes but today's post is short and sweet.

Senate Minority Leader David Patterson, whose office has been hesitant to say anything negative about the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., finally went on the record today (if speaking to a political blogger can be called going on the record).

Here's Minority Leader Patterson speaking to
Only in New York (O.i.N.k.)'s Michael Carrese:

"People think I'm taking a principled stand, but really this is all about discovering what Ruben Diaz is up to before the newspapers do."

Costa Rica: Supreme Court to determine constitutionality of marriage for same-sex couples

Last week, La Prensa Grafica reported on little-opposed legislative efforts to amend El Salvador's Constitution to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples as well as adoption rights for gays.

Today comes word that another Central American country, Costa Rica, is looking at marriage rights for same sex couples from another angle:

Diario Extra reports that the 7-member Constitutional Court [Costa Rica's Supreme Court] will be having a public hearing on Thursday, May 4th, to determine whether a petition to "eliminate state prohibition of recognition of marriage between gays, as it stands in the family code" can move forward or is unconstitutional.

The hearing comes almost three years after attorney Yashin Castrillo (pictured above) filed an "action of unconstitutionality" on July 30th of 2003 challenging the ban against marriage rights for same-sex couples. Mr. Castrillo is expected to argue in favor of removing the ban along with representatives of organizations supporting the constitutional challenge. He tells Diario Extra that the ban signifies a loss of liberty and a violation of equality which "...contradicts a democratic regime."

"To impose a sense of 'normalcy' on a society with the obligation of a matrimonial union [which is] exclusively between persons of different gender," he ads, "gravely injures the dignity of the person [by] failing to recognize his/her self-determination and his/her liberty to make a decision."

Costa Rica's General Attorney's office will be arguing against Mr. Castrillo's motion and have already stated that the family code, as it stands, does not discriminate against anyone or create inrqualities. According to Diario Extra, in a report filed September 6, 2003, they argue that "matrimony comes from Christian principles adopted by the gospel and apostolic doctrine, establishing monogamous matrimony between a woman and a man."

They have also indicated that they will question whether the constitutional court has the right to conduct a hearing on the issue and argue that "...a Constituent National Assembly is the only one with the means to challenge these limitations."

A 2003 Miami Herald article on the recognition of the rights of same-sex couples throughout Latin America, says that the ban on marriages for same-sex couples in Costa Rica actually has a sentence of up to three years in prison for anyone who violates it.

In a 2003 Teletica debate on the issue Mr. Castrillo said that no human being should be denied the right to partner with a loved one, much less under penalty of law, and that he is not advocating for religious matrimony but, simply, for the right of same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights afforded to couples of different gender, call it marriage, civil union or something else.


Independent Gay Forum

The conservative-leaning (rather than independent) gay pundit website Independent Gay Forum has been re-launched with a more streamlined look and a more 'bloggy' feel to it. Sometimes good for a laugh or down-right infuriating, from time to time you also get toughtful analysis of LGBT culture at this juncture from people who might not share your point of view but might have an interesting take on marriage rights for gays or polygamy, for starters. Interested? Just click on the hyperlinked text above.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Update: The Advocate, immigration, and the LGBT community

The online version of The Advocate has a couple of interesting pieces on the immigration issue as it relates to the non-Latino LGBT community. I thought I'd point them out for you to browse:
There are also some responses to the recent immigration debates in The Advocate's "Letters" page, including "Asking for what we won't give - Immigration and LGBTQ" by Randi. M. Romo of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Recently, I was also approached by a reporter for The Advocate to comment on the issue so it appears that the magazine will run a piece in an upcoming issue. I was heartened that the reporter focused on the issue of immigration itself and did not mention the personal disagreements that have characterized some of the debate.

[NOTE: Blogger Kim Pearson has written a quick look at the debate that has erupted on immigration and the LGBT community over the last few weeks for Blogher. Better known as Professor Kim, she has graciously noted our past comments in her essay. Thanks]

Update: Maximum sentence in Dwan Prince beating, man dies in Prospect Park

25-year old Steven Pomie was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for June 8th, 2005 beating of Dwan Prince (pictured right in a Channel 7 News screen capture). The reason for the attack? Pomie, according to the New York Times and other previous reports on the assault, told police that Prince had made a pass at him as he walked down the street.

In announcing the sentence, Justice Deborah A. Dowling of the State Supreme Court of Brooklyn said "Words alone should never be enough to provoke such a rage. That's never an excuse for anything."

Mr. Prince, who was left with serious and permanent neurological and cognitive damage as a result of the beating and has a tough time formulating sentences, tried and failed to read a statement during sentencing. His mother, Valerie Prinez, spoke for him: "I've changed so much I can't even cry."

To the end, Mr. Pomie denied being the lead assailant during the beating though he appologized yesterday to Mr. Prince and his family. His attorneys might appeal the court's verdict.

In the meantime, Brooklyn had more reasons to cry yesterday as yet another man was found dead in Prospect Park in an area known to be a gay cruising site. Though it is not known if the victim, 61-year old William Oliver was gay, as Rod2.0 points out, it's not the first time that an attack has happened in the area.

Politics: State Assemblymember demands investigation of Diaz, Sr., and Diaz, Jr.

The Albany Times-Union continues its in-depth look at the possible misuse of public state funds by homophobic New York Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. and his son, New York State Assemblymember Ruben Diaz, Jr.

In "Lawmakers demand look at Diazes' fund use" by capitol bureau reporter James M. Odato, we find out that while most of the Democratic leadership are still taking a wait-and-see approach, Assemblymember Robert Reilly (D-Colonie, pictured right) is calling for a full investigation while others, including State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) are demanding increased transparency in the allocation of so-called discretionary member-items (which, in the Diazes' case, are alleged to have been used to pay for salaries for Diaz family members named to non-existent positions within community and religious institutions which they either worked for at one time or founded).

In the meantime, over the weekend, Democractic Long Island gubernatorial candidate Thomas Suozzi appeared at a breakfast organized by the New York Hispanic Minister's Clergy Association (which the Reverend Diaz, Sr. founded and leads) and reiterated his opposition to marriage for same-sex couples as well as wishes to restrict abortion rights in New York State. In Newsday's "Suozzi's swing through Bronx" from April 23rd, the appearance at the event was described "campaigning for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination among Latinos in the city." Note to Suozzi: The Association is a fringe homophobic minority within the larger Latino community in New York City which is now tainted by the Diazes corruption scandal. If corrupt and homophobic community leaders are your target Latino community voters, by all means pander to them.

As for leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer who was rumored to also have been scheduled to appear at the event, apparently there were scheduling conflicts and he was not able to make it. Still, there might be a chance to ask him directly if and why he planned to attend: The Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC) has announced that Spitzer, who is the current state attorney general, is scheduled to address the club at tomorrow's OutPOCPAC gubernatorial endorsement meeting in Brooklyn (for information on the whereabouts of the meeting and the time you can contact Club Co-Chairs Gerard Cabrera at or Doug Robinson at

Saturday, April 22, 2006

El Salvador: Legislation to ban marriage & adoption for gays closer to approval

La Prensa Grafica reports today that El Salvador's legislative assembly is "two steps away" from modifying the Republic's Constitution to ban marriages between people of the same sex and prohibiting adoptions by gay couples as well. A legislative bill, introduced by the centrist Christian Democratic Party (PDC), would ad language to the Constitution's "family code" defining marriage as that between members that were born with the opposite sex.

The amendment to Article 34 of the Constitution also states that "Persons united in a marriage that is legally recognized in El Salvador will be able to adopt. Adoption by couples of the same sex is prohibited."

The right-wing political party ARENA is already on board saying that they are "completely in agreement" with the amendment (the article does not mention who gave them this statement).

As for the left-wing FMLN which fought ARENA as a guerrilla movement in a bloody civil war before hanging their arms and becoming a political party? Walter Duran, their spokesperson, said: "This guarantees the stability of the family and cements moral principles that are prevalent in our society, such as not allowing homosexual unions or any other type of norms that guarantee the stability of heterosexual marriage as the basis of the family. Values such as these must be guaranteed by the constitution."

The PDC is confident that the backing from ARENA and the FMLN means that the amendmentg is on its way to be adopted by a wide majority. It would have to be ratified by a second legislative vote in order to pass.


Politics: Breakfast with Eliot Spitzer and the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr.

Over on the New York Sun's Fifty First State blog, Azi Paybarah reports that later this morning New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will be attending the annual Hispanic Ministers Banquet Award Celebration. Funny thing: The whole shin dig is led by non other than the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. on whom we've had much to write about recently (including the fact that Spitzer seems to have let the Reverend off rather easily for questions that have drawn some recent attention from the Albany Times-Union [To be fair (?) Azi also reports that Spitzer's challenger for the Democratic spot in the next gubernatorial election, Tom Suozzi, will also be there].

UPDATE: On April 23rd, 2006, Newsday reported that Eliot Spitzer "had not planned to attend Saturday's event" and did not. But they do report on some juicy bits about Tom Suozzi and what he said at the event. Azi says that Spitzer did not attend the event due to "a scheduling conflict."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Update: Demands for inclusive civil code reforms in the Dominican Republic

In "'Sexual liberty' language eliminated from Dominican Republic civil code reform draft" (March 28, 2006), I noted that several newspapers were reporting that the words "sexual liberty" would be removed from a draft amendment to the Caribbean island's civil code after conservative leaders and legislators warned that it would lead to the legalization of marriage rights for same-sex partners (those who authored the draft tried to argue that the language would not lead to any such thing but quickly decided to back off and said they would remove the offending language in order to "avoid confusion and misunderstanding").

The papers also said that, while the conservative response was swift and came from several quarters, there had been no visible support from anyone for keeping the "sexual liberty" language in the draft.

Well, word has come that this coming Tuesday a group of activists will be holding a march to demand an inclusive civil code that extends civil rights protections to, among others, women's rights, youth and children's rights, penalties against any type of discrimination and the right to sexual liberty (see image above).

I will post an update if I hear back from the marchers on Tuesday.

Politics: In Rev. Diaz family saga, just follow the money

Following yesterday's story on records that show that Assemblymember Ruben Diaz, Jr. steered discretionary legislative grants towards a Bronx-based community agency that employed his father, the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. (currently a state senator), as well as the elder Diaz's ex-wife and wife, the Albany Times-Union continues to look at the money trail in an article published today.

In "Funds followed senator's kin," James M. Odato takes a look at how the Soundview Community in Action center lost most of its state funding once it stopped employing members of the Diaz family in 2003 and shows how the money followed instead to institutions such as the Christian Community in Action and the Christian Community Neigborhood Church which had one thing in common: They were founded and/or employed members of the Diaz family.

Interestingly, when Odato tries to get comments from state officials, they either speak off the record, say that they are looking at the allegations and can't comment or vaguely talk about following guidelines. A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat as is Diaz, Sr., does go on record in a veiled defense of the state senator by implying that the funds were used to "meet specific needs of the community."

The Times-Union should be commended for not following the Democratic leadership's temerity. Today, the paper also runs an editorial titled "Pork: A family affair"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Politics: Adolfo Carrion on Hispanic Evangelicals and NYC politics

The New York Daily News' political commentator Ben Smith has an interesting podcast interview with Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., seen by many as a leading contender in the next New York City mayoral race. In the interview, Carrion delves into "his journey from the Assemblies of God to Presbyterianism and the role Hispanic Evangelicals will play in New York City politics."

Although he doesn't address LGBT issues directly, it's as candid an interview as I have heard/read regarding the Borough President's religious beliefs. He certainly has never answered a reporter's question as to how the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. (see below) and CONLAMIC were able to use public property for their 2004 rally against the right to marry for same-sex couples and in support of President George W. Bush.

Politics: Like father, like son?

On April 9th, I pointed out that the homophobic New York State Senator (and Reverend) Ruben Diaz, Sr. had just gotten away with redirecting public government funds towards personal expenses and paying the salaries of some of his family members ("Does Elliot Spitzer need a homophobe's support for NYS governor?").

Now comes word that Ruben Diaz, Jr., the Reverend's son - who also happens to be an Assemblymember - steered $1.2 million dollars in legislative grants under at his discretion to pay for his dad's salary back when Sr. was leading the Soundview Community in Action Center. In addition, today's Albany Times Union says that the money was also used to pay for the salaries of Jr's mom (and Sr's ex-wife) as well as Sr's current wife, despite the women being missing in action for months at a time, according to current Soundview staff members.

Reverend Diaz, the dad, has joined the right-wing Liberty Counsel in their suits challenging public funding for the Harvey Milk School, which mostly caters to LGBT youth of color, and New York State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan's 2005 ruling in favor of marriage rights for New York State same-sex couples. In a March 21st speech saluting the Liberty Counsel for their work, he riled against "the barbaric use of public funds to create a special school for gays and lesbians while thousands of children in my district and in other areas of New York City suffer and continue to be denied access to a safe environment and the quality of education they deserve"

No word yet on what the Revered thinks about the barbaric use of public funds for nepotism and patronage
or on how he is able to reconcile his misdeeds as a politician with his life as a man of the cloth (and, just to be clear, it must be said that Jr has never shown his dad's homophobic streak to my knowledge and has, at times, intervened on the community's behalf when his father has gotten carried away with homophobic fervor).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rashawn Brazell should be alive today on his 21st birthday

On such a glorious spring day as today was in New York City, a few of us heard the call to participate in a noon-time vigil march and rally in memory of Rashawn Brazell, who would have been celebrating his 21st birthday today. His mother, Desire Brazell (above), a few family members and friends led participants from the Nostrand Avenue subway station (at Fulton Street) to the door of the 79th NYPD Police Precinct station. Rashawn's dismembered body was found in plastic bags at two separate sites in Brooklyn back in February of 2005 (one of the bags was found underground a inside the subway tunnel a few feet from the Nordstrand Ave. subway platform).

As with other unresolved crimes, the death of Rashawn, as gruesome a slaying as there has been in this city, has not nearly received the same amount of attention or investigative resources as other recent murder cases. At the 79th Precinct Ms. Brazell demanded equal resources be spent to find her son's murderer or murderers as in other higher-profile cases.

Some community leaders, including City Councilmember Leticia James, GHMC Interim Executive Director Marjorie Harris, the Reverend Ralph "Chaz" Crowder, Eric Adams of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement and Larry Lyons and Mervyn Marcano (who launched the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund in the wake of the murder) were present, as well as members of the Audre Lorde Project and the New York City Anti-Violence Project. I also spotted bloggers Donald Agarrat and Bernard Tarver, among others.

Some media was there, including a photographer from one of the local gay news-weeklies and a FOX-5 cameraman but I didn't see any actual reporters interviewing marchers. I also had my camera with me and took a good amount of photographs some of which you can see here (just as I documented a candle-light vigil that took place in March of 2005).

And yet, as I walked along the crowd, my thoughts kept me bringing to blogger J. Bernard Jone's comments from May of 2005. I felt a bit removed and sad about having to be present at a spectacle (a march) that should not have reason for being (nobody had the right to take Rashawn's life in such a brutal fashion at such a young age). I only greeted those people I knew beforehand, trying to be respectful. And yet, by taking these pictures I also found myself feeling a bit awkward in capturing the raw emotions of the people that truly knew him. No disrespect to the organizations that were represented today, but some of their speeches rang somewhat hollow to me in comparisson to the true pain expressed by people who did know Rashawn. Particularly touching was Councilmember Leticia James leading us all to sing Stevie Wonder's version of "Happy Birthday" which truly captured the moment and heartfelt comments from one of Rashawn's cousins and one of his friends.

And yet, despite my own personal mixed emotions, it still needed to happen. Despite the relative low turn-out it is the only way that Rashawn's murder will be in the community's general consciousness as well as the NYPD's.

The one thing that I do appreciate tremendously is the role of Ms. Brazell in keeping her son's memory alive. It truly takes bravery and strength to be as visible and vocal about a crime such as this, particularly if the victim is your son. I was glad that Ms. Hill brought attention to Ms. Brazell's tiredless and dignified search for justice. For a moment, we all applauded and truly embraced Ms. Brazell with all our love.

And then there's the images of those people on the porches and sidewalks, who wanted to know just what was going on. Some people passed literature to them and most would read it and nod. I was particularly struck by a black priest standing outside his church. I truly hope that those people on the sidewalks carried something home from having witnessed the march and tell others about Rashawn so that his name will go on.

Friday, April 14, 2006

You Tube of the day: I Believe in You

Nothing much happens in this video 'cept Mark Hollis singing but at least you will grab a taste of the brilliance that was Talk Talk. "I Believe in You" comes from the 6-track 1988 masterpiece "Spirit of Eden" album, which was followed by the equally stunning 1991 release "Laughing Stock" (their last album). Young ones will probably know them better as the band that originally sang "It's My Life" which was more recently covered by Gwen Stefani as lead singer of No Doubt. So, without further ado, once again ladies and gentlemen, CLCK HERE TO WATCH TALK TALK'S "I BELIEVE IN YOU"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gay City News: El Pueblo Unido

Gay City News is out and it has a cover page article on the immigration rights rally titled "El Pueblo Unido: LGBT New Yorkers Join Tens of Thousands of Immigration Reform Advocates." You can see more photos of the rally here.

Updates: Caribbean violence, Chad Ferreira, Gwen Araujo, Rashawn Brazell

Over the weekend I was interviewed for an independent documentary on hate crimes in LGBT communities of color. As is the norm with interviews, sometimes you worry that something you said will be edited in a way that misrepresents your arguments or that you actually did not necessarily make the best arguments, even if you trust the filmmaker as I did in this case.

In any case, I touched on some of the issues I have written about from time to time in Blabbeando and I thought I would post some updates:

On homophobic violence in the Caribbean:
LGBT blogs, national gay advocacy organizations, and national media are all following developments in the brutal beating of two CBS news producers from New York who were among a group of six gay men vacationing in the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Both Dick Jefferson, 51, and Ryan Smith, 25, were taken to a Miami hospital after being attacked with tire-irons by a group of men shouting anti-gay epitepths. Mr. Jefferson spoke to media after undergoing surgery which left him with a metal plate in his head and stitches. According to St. Marteen's The Daily Herald, in a telephone interview Mr. Jefferson said that Mr. Ryan was out of the intensive care unit but is still under medical care "suffering from severe neurological trauma." Mr. Jefferson initially criticized the local government for not taking any immediate action to interview witnesses of the attack but on yesterday, under increasing international pressure, the top tourism official in St. Maarten called the crime "barbaric and inhumane." Queerty, which has just discovered the issue, says that Mr. Jefferson will be going back to the island to push for justice. But, just as with the Human Rights Campaign, isn't it a bit annoying that it takes an attack on US tourists to focus attention on homophobia in the Caribbean? Queerty also quips that Mr. Jefferson should "buy a gun and get all vigilante on some folks." Ugh! (Gawker, of course, has another take on the matter of blonde haired women and New York gay victims).

National gay advocacy organizations and national media are not following similar instances of recent homophobic violence in the Caribbean, such as a near riot that erupted in a West Indies university when a male student accused another of making a pass at hime as reported in the Jamaica Gleaner a week ago Wednesday (as well as the Jamaica Observer, which used the unfortunate header "Cops rescue alleged homo from UWI students"). Worse was a report in the Jamaica Gleaner on Saturday which said that "a 22-year old prisoner was torched by a constable in his jail cell, after he labeled the cop a homosexual" in an incident that is apparently still under investigation.

In the meantime yesterday, Radio Jamaica reported that - after just two hours of deliberation - a jury found Donald "Zeeks" Phipps "guilty on all counts" including the burning and shooting of two men. During the trial he prosecutors had alleged during that Mr. Phipps had forced the men "to commit homosexual acts" before murdering them. Mr. Phipps still maintains he is innocent.

Closer to home: Though not a hate crime, today's Bay Area Reporter follows up on the murder of Chad Ferreira (B.A.R. should be commended for keeping an eye on this crime) and reports that an April 8 fundraiser at San Francisco's Club Papi brought in $3,737 to cover funeral expenses. The article mentions that club owner Jamie Awad joined others in criticising the San Francisco District Attorney's office for charging Ferreira's attacker Kyle Adams with manslaughter instead of murder but it also says that the DA's office, while saying that they could not discuss the evidence, told B.A.R. that the case was "problematic."

In the meantime, on Sunday's edition of Inside Bay Area, it was reported that on April 2nd Lifetime and Sony Pictures Television began production on "The Gwen Araujo Story" which is expected to air in June. Producers tell the newspaper that the film will not dwell on Gwen's murder or the trials but rather on Gwen's life and the difficulty of life as a transgender teen. J.D. Pardo will play Gwen and Mercedes Ruehl will play her mother, Sylvia Guerrero. When contacted, Ms. Guerrero (pictured above) told IBA "I'm proud to be Gwen's mom and I'm proud that her story has touched so many lives and hearts, not just in the community - but all over the world."

Finally, but no less important, this Saturday, April 15 marks what would be Rashawn Brazell's 21st birthday. Mr. Brazell's dismembered body was found in trash bags at two different Brooklyn sites in February of 2005 and there have been questions about the resources devoted by the police department to solve the horrific crime in light of massive mobilizations around more recent murders in the city.

On Saturday Mr. Brazell's mother Desire, family, friends and community advocates will gather for a Memorial March between noon and 1pm at Brooklyn's Nostrand Avenue subway station and proceed to the 79th Precinct Station house where we will demand that the police devote the maximum amount of resources available to the year-old investigation. If you can, please join us!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You Tube of the day: Soda Estereo's "Zoom"

So Modern Fabulosity has launched a You Tube find of the week feature by highlighting the Thompson Twins classic video for "Hold Me Now." We thought it was a great idea so, even if it will probably not be a daily feature, how about copying ModFab and sharing some You Tube finds of my own?

So, to get it started, let's zoom down to Argentina for the appropriately titled "Zoom" by the great (if unfortunately already disbanded) Soda Stereo. Shiny happy people! Lesbians! Cow hydes! Orbiting silver balls! Sex in the bushes! An UFO! It's got it ALL (and Cerati's great vocals as well) - CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT

More fun with Steven

Back in November, in "Time for some good ol' butt" I introduced you to my friend Steven from Kentucky. Now, Steven has a Live Journal that he updates periodically (and through which he gets hit on by a plethora of guys all the time, the poor guy). Well, once in a while Steven blurts out something so unpoliticaly correct and funny about stuff that I have to quote him. Take Saturday's post:
  • Steven on Louisville's Flight 3 leather event: "I know I sound very bitchy here, but I just have never enjoyed anything leather aside from wallets, luggage, car seats, saddles, belts, and boots."
  • Steven on hanky codes (don't ask): "I'm sure all of you have giggled about seeing a really cute guy with a yellow hanky in his back pocket or totally been perplexed by someone with an rainbow assortment lighting up their 501's... There was a guy walking around with three hankies in his back right pocket--pink, baby blue, and brown, so Eric asks me, What the fuck does that mean? I thought I'd be creative and say You know in the game of Life when you acquire children and they are pink or baby blue? Well that means he has a daughter and a son. And the brown... 'Oh honey, I know what the brown means,' he said, 'but what does it mean all together, you can shit on my kids?????' OMG, I thought I was going to throw up I was laughing so hard! haha..."
  • Steven on recently watching Brokeback Mountain, for the first time, sitting next to his mom: "The initial sex scene made me blush some because I think it's the very first gay sex or gay intimacy that I had ever witnessed with my mom present. I really wasn't sure how she was going to react to it, so I was slightly embarrassed. Of course she totally thought it was hot...ugh, Mom! haha."
In any case, the good news this week is that Steven got test results from some medical scans that he needed to get and the results were great. Well, yay! Or, should I say, Rad!


Glenn Magpantay's OpEd in the New York Blade

Glenn Magpantay (above in yellow at a demo against Details magazine back in April of 2004) has an OpEd in yesterday's issue of the New York Blade: "Gays should back immigrants' rights: LGBT communities share SAME battles"

On Immigration, Bush Blinked, and letters to The Advocate

Gay conservative political pundit Andrew Sullivan wrote an interesting piece for the Sunday Times in London explaining to the UK what just happened with the immigration legislation that failed to pass last week ("Sherif Bush Blinks in a Mexican stand-off"). Over on his blog, Mr. Sullivan also has comments on an interesting new Pew poll on Republicans and immigration.

Over at The Advocate, the Letters section is jumping over the immigration debate which includes a letter from the Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Update: Those Peruvian elections? Humala might not win after all

Last we mentioned Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala (right), protesters had taken to Lima's streets to protest against comments made by his mother, Elena Tesso, who told a newspaper that if a couple of gays were shot, it would be enough warning to stop all the "immorality" that she claimed ran rampant in the streets of Peru.

Understandably, the scandalous declarations from Ms. Tasso probably erased any headway Mr. Humala had made with the gay community back in February when he said that, if elected president, he would have no problem in having a gay person serve on his presidential cabinet member, as long as the person was qualified.

We also had said that Mr. Humala was heading for a come-from-behind victory in this past Sunday's elections but that he would probably face a run-off since he was not expected to get more than the 50% of the vote required to win outright.

Today Reuters reports that, with 85% of Sunday's votes tallied, Mr. Humala has emerged victorious but will face a run-off since he only has 30.9% of the vote so far and there are not sufficient uncounted votes to give him the more than 50% he needs. The problem is that the percentage of votes garnered by the next two candidates are still so close that it might take more than twenty days to figure out who will emerge as Mr. Humala's challenger in the run-off. Former Peruvian president Alan Garcia was leading with 24.6% of the vote over conservative former congresswoman Lourdes Flores who has 23.5%.

For much, MUCH more on the Peruvian elections you could do no better than to head over here.

Update: Jasmyne Cannick also responds

In "THE BOTTOM LINE: Much ado about illegal immigration and gays," posted on her site earlier today, Jasmyne Cannick responds to an open statement signed by a number of LGBT people of color community activists challenging some of her comments on immigration in an opinion piece she wrote picked up last week by The Advocate magazine's online edition.

In today's post, Ms. Cannick says "no one is right and no one is wrong" and yet, she has a few more choice words to say about those who signed the statement (which includes yours truly). Funny thing, we both agree on the main argument that she makes "Gay rights, HIV/AIDS and immigration reform should not and cannot be the only issues that gays do coalition building on."

So, in closing, Ms. Cannick says: "Bottom line: At the end of the day, this conversation of who is right and who is wrong could go on forever. You are welcome to your opinion as I am welcome to my own. I will not be put into a box because I am Black lesbian nor will I will be bullied into silence by those who disagree with my article. My voice is my own when I cease to use it, it will be up to me and only me."

Go to the above link above to read the whole statement.

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Update: The Advocate posts letter, the National Black Justice Coalition responds

Online, the Advocate magazine has just posted the "open letter to the LGBT community" that I featured yesterday in response to Jasmyne Cannick's essay "Before we extend the right to illegals" (which was also featured in The Advocate online under "Gays First, then Illegals").

Naming the column "We 55 respectfully disagree," the Advocate says:

In an “open letter” to The Advocate and to LGBT people everywhere, more than four dozen prominent activists of color take issue with Jasmyne Cannick’s commentary calling for LGBT equality to take priority over rights for illegal immigrants. Quoting Audre Lorde, they remind us, “There is no hierarchy of oppression.”
Though recognizing that Ms. Cannick was writing as an individual, the statement asked both the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and the National Stonewall Democrats "to
publicly clarify their own positions in this ongoing civil rights discussion" (Ms. Cannick serves on the board of the former and serves as Co-Chair of the Black Caucus of the later).

In a statement I just received in my mailbox, NBJC says:
NBJC has begun the process of developing a formal policy on issues of immigration. We believe these issues to be serious and complex, deserving timely but thorough consideration. As we engage this process, our core values remain the same. NBJC is dedicated to fostering equality by fighting racisim and homophobia. We envision a world where all people are fully empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly in family, faith and community, regardless of race, gender-identity or sexual orientation.
I for one thank NBJC for a prompt response and hope that they will engage some of us in the dialogue as they develop a policy statement on immigration.

In my first post on this issue last week, I spoke of the bridges that needed to be built between LGBT communities of color. I can say that the overwhelming response that I have had to the letter (as well as that received by some of the people who signed it) has been tremendously supportive and encouraging. I am sure that Ms. Cannick has also received supportive comments as well (in fact, a few have been posted as replies to her original blog entry). But if we go down the road of who gets the most props, both sides will probably end up losing [then there's even those friends of mine who think both sides are wrong]. The challenge remains how to have a meaningful discussion on what the immigration issue means to LGBT minority communities in a way that, at the very least, prevents dividing communities further.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Queer Presence at today's NYC Immigration Rights Rally

There was a lively lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender contingent at today's A10 Immigration Rights Rally in NYC. Groups met at the interesction of Church and Vessey Streets, next to the rebuilding zone of the World Trade Center, and included (top to bottom): A contingent from the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Audre Lorde Project, the Latino Lesbian and Gay Coalition, and Hombres Latinos de Hambiente (HOLA). Bottom picture, Debanuj Dasgupta of the Queer Immigrant Rights Project and Joseph DeFilippis of Queers for Economic Justice. Also seen: The Latino Commission on AIDS, Alianza Dominicana, the NYC LGBT Community Center, the Empire State Pride Agenda, Maria Belen Correa of the Association of Transvestite, Transsexual and Transgender Argentineans (ATTTA), performer Imani Henry, and Immigration Equality. Additional photos here.

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An open letter to the LGBT community on "Gays First, then Illegals"

April 10, 2006

An Open Letter to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community:

We are a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color who work in the LGBT movement. We are writing to you in response to Jasmyne Cannick’s article "Gays First, Then Illegals”, which ran in The Advocate, in which she, a black lesbian, argues that she cannot support the current battle for immigrant rights because LGBT people have not yet won the right to marry. We are writing to express our profound disagreement with her, and to offer alternative LGBT perspectives to the current immigration battles happening across the country.

To begin with, Cannick fails to realize an obvious fact – the LGBT community and the immigrant community are not mutually exclusive. There are thousands of LGBT immigrants in this country. There are thousands of black immigrants. And there are thousands of black LGBT immigrants. To put forward an argument that says "we should get ours first" makes us question who exactly is the "we" in that analysis. In addition, we recognize the historically interconnected nature of the immigrant and LGBT struggles — such as the ban on “homosexual immigrants” that extended into the 1990’s, and the present HIV ban, which disproportionately impacts LGBT people — and we believe that only by understanding these connections and building coalition can we ensure real social change for all.

And we ask those who share the destructive views of this article to remember the immortal words of Audre Lorde when she said that “There is no hierarchy of oppression”. We reject any attempts to pit the struggle of multiple communities against each other and firmly believe that "Rights" are not in limited supply. We condemn the “scarcity of rights” perspective espoused by Cannick and other members of the LGBT movement, and are surprised to see members of our community trafficking in such ugliness. But then, one reason why it has always been so hard to shift power in this country is because the ruling class has successfully made us believe that there are only a few deserving groups to whom rights can be given. This strategy has always been used to divide oppressed groups from coming together to work in coalition.

We are painfully aware that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities still lack many basic protections under the law in this country, including the right to care for and support all of our families, in the various ways in which we construct family and kinship. Nevertheless, supporting immigrant rights, while we continue to work for LGBT liberation, does nothing to hurt our cause. In fact, we believe the opposite to be true, and want to work towards building powerful coalitions between immigrant and LGBT movements to work together for social justice.

We are also aware that many immigrant right advocates have (intentionally or not) used anti-black rhetoric to move their agenda forward. Arguments such as “Don’t treat us like ‘criminals’” or “We are doing work that ‘other’ Americans won’t do” have the effect of positioning immigrant narratives as subtly juxtaposed with American stereotypes of non-immigrant black communities. They leave native-born black Americans as among the only people who do not have access to the immigrant narrative, and so are in a permanent position of subordination, as the state consistently negotiates and redefines citizenship and “American-ness” for almost everyone but blacks. Nevertheless, the solution to this problem is not to abandon support for the struggle of immigrant communities. Rather, we call on immigrant movements and (non-immigrant) black organizations to work together for real racial and economic justice in this country. Together these movements can work to end the exploitation and targeting of both communities, and to ensure that black folks and immigrants do not end up having to choose between competing for low-paying jobs, or being targeted for detainment or imprisonment.

As lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color, we support the current immigrant rights marches and rallies happening across the country this month, and we march too. We march because immigrants are among the most politically vulnerable, underpaid and exploited communities in the country, and are asking for basic human rights, including the right to live free from torture and exploitation, and the right to work. We march because we recognize the connections between the state attacks on immigrant and LGBT communities, and that LGBT immigrants in particular are disproportionately affected by much anti-immigrant legislation. We march because we oppose the heightened policing and criminalization of immigrant communities, including the increased militarization of the border, as mandated by HR 4437 and Senate bills. We march because we oppose indefinite and mandatory detention of noncitizens—as well as the mass incarceration of people-of-color-communities in the U.S. more broadly—and envision a society that ensures the safety and self-determination of all people, regardless of national origin, race, class, gender or sexuality. We march because we oppose the guestworker proposals, which would continue the exploitation of many low-wage workers. We march because we demand the repeal of the HIV ban. We march because our sexualities have been historically criminalized by this country, and we understand that “law” and “justice” are not the same thing.

It is our understanding that Jasmyne Cannick was writing as an individual, and not as a representative of either the National Black Justice Coalition (on whose Board of Directors she serves) or The Stonewall Democrats (for whose Black Caucus she serves as Co-Chair). As LGBT people of color, we call upon both of those organizations to publicly clarify their own positions in this ongoing civil rights discussion.

We also call upon our community to imagine how much more progress we could make if we all stopped thinking of social justice as a zero-sum game.


Katherine Acey
Executive Director, the Astraea Lesbian Action Fund

Faisal Alam
Founder & Former Director, Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBTIQ Muslims

Samiya Bashir
Board Member, National Black Justice Coalition
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry
Board Member, Fire & Ink

Noemi Calonje
Immigration Project Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)

Noran J. Camp
Office Administrator, Freedom to Marry

Chris Chen
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
immigrant from Taiwan 1997

Alain Dang
Policy Analyst, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Debanuj Dasgupta
Board of Directors, Queer Immigrant Rights Project

Carlos Ulises Decena, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Joseph N. DeFilippis
Executive Director, Queers for Economic Justice

Marta Donayre
Co-Founder, Love Sees No Borders

Andres Duque
Coordinator, Mano A Mano

Monroe France
Educational Training Manager, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network
Board of Directors, Queers for Economic Justice

Eddie Gutierrez
Rep. for Christine Chavez, granddaughter of labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez

Priscilla A. Hale, LMSW
Executive Director, ALLGO

Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
Director of Arts and Community Building, ALLGO

Kemi Ilesanmi

Surina Khan
Interim Vice President of Programs, The Women's Foundation of California
former Executive Director, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Lee Che Leong
Director of Teen Health Initiative, New York Civil Liberties Union

Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins
Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
Board of Directors, Queers for Economic Justice

Yoseñio Vicente Lewis
Board Member, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Latino, Trans Social Justice Activist, first generation U.S. Citizen

Glenn Magpantay
Steering Committee Member, Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York

Rickke Mananzala
Campaign Coordinator, FIERCE!

Gloria Nieto
National Latino Justice Coalition

Doyin Ola
Welfare Organizer, Queers for Economic Justice

Jesús Ortega-Weffe
Director of Community Organizing, ALLGO

Emiko Otsubo
former Board member, Queers for Economic Justice

Clarence Patton
Executive Director, NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project

Donna Payne
Senior Diversity Organizer, Human Rights Campaign

Earl L. Plante
Development Director, National Minority AIDS Council
President-Elect, Board of Directors, National Black Justice Coalition

Aurora Pineda
Co-Founder/Facilitator of Entre Familia: PFLAG en Espanol
Board Member of Amigas Latinas

Achebe Powell
Betty Powell Associates

Lorraine Ramirez
Public Policy Committee, Queers for Economic Justice

Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera
Convener, the National Latino Coalition for Justice

Ignacio Gilberto Rivera
Founder, Poly Patao Productions
Board of Directors, Queers for Economic Justice

Russell D. Roybal
Director of Movement Building, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Shay Sellars
Major Gifts and Events Administrator, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Pedro Julio Serrano
Communications Associate, Freedom to Marry
President, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s

Sarah Sohn
New Voices Legal Fellow, Immigration Equality
Board of Directors, Queers for Economic Justice

Mónica Taher
People of Color Media Director, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

Sandra Telep
Marriage Organizer
Pride At Work, AFL-CIO

Lisa Thomas-Adeyemo
Co-Coordinator, National People of Color Organizing Institute, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Director of Counseling, San Francisco Women Against Rape

Carmen Vazquez
Deputy Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda

Robert Vazquez-Pacheco
former Program Manager, Funders for Gay and Lesbian Issues

Pat Washington, Phd
Chair, Lambda Letters Project
Education Chair, San Diego Branch NAACP
Executive Board Member, CA NAACP
President, San Diego Democratic Women's Club
Co-Chair WAGE (We Advocate Gender Equity)

Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz
Capacity Building Project Director, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Andy Shie Kee Wong
Coalition Manager, Asian Equality

Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung
lead Plaintiffs in the Woo vs Lockyer, marriage rights case

Miriam Yeung
Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, the LGBT Community Center

-- Organizational affiliation listed for identification purposes only --

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