Monday, October 30, 2006

Good bye, my friend

So, on Saturday, when I wrote about the passing of my good friend, Steven Mackin, I said that there was a last promise to keep.

This actually came up in a conversation we had this summer, long before Steven had begun to experience any stomach discomfort or that any of us knew that his cancer would come back. He made me promise that - if and when he died - I would post my favorite of his photos on this blog because he wanted people to know who he was and feared being forgotten (Forgotten? As if! You should the tremendous outpour of emotions expressed by the many who Steven touched while alive! - read replies here, here, and here).

Of course then, I simply poo-poo'ed the idea and dismissed his mention of the 'd' word. Little did we all know.

Aside from some of Steven's photos that I have used in the past, the above three are absolutely my favorites. His friends, his family and even Steven himself might have chosen other photos but I think the above three speak to who he was without the need for words.

Over at this place, I've set up a memorial album with additional photos, some supplied by close friends as well. There is almost no rhyme and reason to the album and the images are cetrainly not in chronological order but I hope that it conveys some of what we feel towards Steven. Finally, there is also a couple of short videos here.

I may not have been able to attend today's memorial and tomorrow's funeral. But I hope that, in this small way, I can honor the life of such a wonderful person.

Much love to his family and Santino. As for Steven Michael Mackin, I love you and stuff.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Word is out so...

Earlier this afternoon my cell phone rang and flashed Steven's name. Even before I answered, I pretty much knew that it would be Santino's voice on the other end and the reason he was calling.

Steven had just died at home in Kentucky and Santino wanted to let me know that his family was all gathered around him and that he had died peacefully.

Considering my conversation with Santino last night, I can't say that it was a surprise but it still does not fail to shock me and, on some level, seem too cruel to be true. I mean, I was busting Steven's chops just a couple of weeks back and still hearing him giggle that amazing laugh of his.

Word is out. Someone just posted a reply in his coolukman LiveJournal page with the news. As I've been writing about it for a while now, I thought I'd let readers know as well.

There is just one more promise to keep. One that Steven asked me to do if and when he died. It involves this blog so I will get to it sometime early this week.

Our thoughts are with the Mackin family and with Santino. Santino has been the rock and we send him much love as well. As Steven would say - Good stuff!

Steven M. Mackin. You, my friend, will be so incredibly missed. The few times I wrote about you on this page doesn't even start to approach everything else that we were able to share for a year and a half. You have touched me deeply and will forever continue to be a huge part of my life.

Friends in San Francisco will be hosting an informal memorial
for Steven at the Lonestar Saloon tomorrow Sunday, October 29 at 4PM. For more information go here.

Also, Steven's sisters Amy Joe and Tory have posted the following message on Steven's LiveJournal:

It has been a wild ride! Steven lost his battle with Ewing Sarcoma today at 2:20 pm. He went in the most peaceful way. He went to sleep with a smile on his face. To all of those who love him, we want to share our grief with you. [ALERT: DATES HAVE CHANGED!! I'VE EDITED THE UPDATED INFO AS FOLLOWS] He will be open for visitation on Monday, October 30th in Springfield, Kentucky. His burial will be on Tuesday, October 31st in Bardstown, Kentucky. Prayer service is at 7:00 on Monday night but he will be open for visitation at 10 am. His funeral mass is on Tuesday at 11:00 am. Sorry for the sudden change but we just met with the funeral director. Please call or text all that you know are planning on attending.

My little sister and I were actually reading his Live Journal and laughing when they came to get us for his last moments. We were reading the Christmas 2005 entry...and laughing our asses off.

We have been comforted in these last few days reading your messages to him and the memories you shared. He was well loved. He was an extraordinary person and we were so lucky to walk this journey with him. If you would like to make a donation in his name, he was very interested in the AIDS cause in San Francisco as well as the American Cancer Society research into Ewing Sarcoma. We will personally be donating to Hospice of Nelson County. They made it possible for us to be with him at home for the last week. They made his passing peaceful and pain free..his only dying wish. Our thanks goes out to Lenny Mudd, his nurse. His compassion and outlook on death made Steven's passing a joyful event. His spirit lives on in all of us.

We will keep his cell phone on for the next couple of days if you feel the need to talk about him or to share in our memories. Please continue to share your memories of him...he was mackin' until the day he died!

Amy Jo and Tory


Friday, October 27, 2006

A few updates to recent posts

Michael Sandy's death: On Wednesday, additional charges were brought against three young men arrested in connection with the death of Michael Sandy. Anthony Fortunato, 20, John Fox, 19, and Ilya Shurov, 20 now face manslaughter and assault charges with additional penalties should they also be found guilty of committing a hate crime.

Gay City News reports that hate crime charges are usually brought up when a defendant acts out of prejudice at the moment they are committing an attack but, in this case, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said he was applying a "little-used" section of New York's hate crimes law that would consider the fact that the men consciously sought out gay men as robbery targets as indication of a hate crime.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that a 16-year old had also been arraigned but has yet to be indicted.

CONLAMIC watch: On Tuesday, we wrote about The Latino Coalition's endorsement of Hillary Clinton for New York State Senate noting that they had usually marched lock-step with the Bush agenda particularly on social issues such as the right of gay couples to marry. In the post we mentioned that the Coalition had worked with the conservative religious Latino organization CONLAMIC in the past in supporting some of the most draconian immigration legislation proposed under this administration, including a proposal to raise a wall between the United States and Mexico, a bill that President Bush signed yesterday. No surprise then that while it boggled our mind any Latino organization would support the bill, yesterday CONLAMIC joined The Latino Coalition in lauding the initiative. As you know, we've kept an eye on CONLAMIC ever since they organized a rally outside the Bronx Courthouse against the right of gay couples to marry.

As for Hillary Clinton, after years of avoiding meeting with the major LGBT political clubs in the city, a meeting finally happened. Hm, I guess it's election season.

Gray's Anatomy: Fluff stuff but there is an apology.

Steven Mackin (coolukman on LJ): I just spoke to Steven's boyfriend and I have confirmed that Steven is back home in Kentucky surrounded by his family. Things have deteriorated progressively and quickly and the family is doing everything possible to make sure he is as comfortable as he can be. He is no longer checking his cell text or voice messages. Please pray for Steven to be at peace and surrounded by nothing but love. I tried to keep my promise. Farewell my sweet, sweet amazing friend.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Damn, Steven

...we love you so damn much. Glad the S. man and your family are next to you.

(for those of you who have been following my posts on Steven Mackin a/k/a coolukman, he's bid a farewell of sorts).


A KINKY proposition

Latin America has a proud techno-rock tradition that is often overlooked in the United States. Few bands (Nortec Collective, Cafeta Cuba, Aterciopelados, Soda Stereo and Cerati among them) have made any headway in the US market. Most people also don't know just how much some of these bands have been influenced by bands such as The Police, the Beastie Boys, The Specials, the Clash, The Cure, Queen, David Bowie, the Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and a myriad of other alternative-rock / techno / dance bands that still get prominent radio play throughout Latin America.

On the Mexican band Kinky's new album, "Reina" (on Nettwerk America records) you'll notice some of those influences and a few accordion-techno mash-ups in the vein of Beck's "Guero" as well.

When it works, as in the euphoric "Una Linea de Luz," it's pure musical nirvana. When it doesn't, as in "Monday Killer" (which echoes The Police's "Demolition Man" with Vegemite Sandwich influences*), it's still pretty interesting.

Where Kinky truly come alive is on stage. I was blown away by them when I saw them years ago at a Latin American Music Festival concert here in New York and that's no surprise since their song catalogue is full of party anthems (on the current tour, others seem to agree).

Used in a myriad of television commercials and shows like "CSI: Miami," they're perhaps best known for "Mas" (performed live here at the Avalon in Hollywood in September).

SPECIAL OFFER TO BLABBEANDO READERS: Nettwerk's Save the Music Fan has reached out to Blabbeando and is offering a couple of nifty prizes to the first two people who respond by writing to me at and answer the following question:

* Which famous vegemite sandwich eater is a guest vocalist on on "Monday Killer" from the new Kinky CD "Reina"?

One lucky reader will win a free copy of "Reina" while a second lucky reader will win two tickets to their upcoming November 5th show at New York's Bowery Ballroom (NOTE: Your name and e-mail address will be forwarded to a Nettwerk representative).

For more on Kinky, please visit the following links:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NJ Supreme Court: State must change laws to offer gay couples same rights afforded to heterosexual couples

From Matt Coles, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation LGBT & AIDS Project:

The New Jersey Supreme Court just ruled in the marriage case. The majority ruled that all the legal protections of marriage must be given to same-sex couples. The legislature is given 180 days either to amend the marriage statutes or to create some other system to give same-sex couples the same legal rights under state law that heterosexuals have (as Vermont, Connecticut and California do). Three of the seven judges would have ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry outright.

Full ruling here.

In a statement posted online, Steven Goldstein, Chair of Garden State Equality, the New Jersey's state-wide LGBT rights advocacy organization said "Over our dead bodies will we settle for less than 100% marriage rights."

Goldstein also announced that three legislators would immediately introduce a bill to recognize full marriage rights for same-sex couples including Democratic Assemblymember Wilfredo Caraballo, who was born in Puerto Rico. So much for stereotypes that all Latinos are homophobic.

A year ago today...

"It's been a year now since I was attacked on the streets of Bushwick by a group of more than a dozen teens," writes Emanuel Xavier, "Today, I only have a scar left on the back of my head, the inability to tear out of my right eye and the hearing loss in my right ear which requires a hearing aide I am resistant to get. Otherwise, most people forget with the flash of a smile I am happy to still have thanks to the doctors."

The police never caught the assailants and Xavier says that the memory of their faces has blurred with time and, even though this was not a hate crime, Xavier aks us to remember the "battles that we must still fight in our own city."

"It was only months later that Kevin Aviance was attacked in the East Village and just recently that Michael Sandy was killed. Let's not forget Sakia Gunn and Eddie Garzon and Rashawn Brazell and so many others of our brothers and sisters lost to hate and violence on our very own streets or struggling to survive like Dwan Prince. This is not to mention the many others that were simply not covered by the mass media. Stay safe and remember there is still a place in the world for love and peace."

A new poem, "Writer's Block" over on his MySpace blog (click here).

PHOTO CREDIT: Shane Luitjens

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Breaking News: NJ to decide on marriage for same-sex couples tomorrow

"The New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion in Lambda Legal’s case seeking marriage for same-sex couples in New Jersey tomorrow afternoon" - From a statement posted on Lambda Legal's website.

Reuters says that the ruling will be posted at 3pm at this website. The New York Times ran a story earlier in the week on the speculation behind the much-awaited ruling. The Star-Ledger reports that Steve Goldstein of the state-wide LGBT rights advocacy grpup Garden State Equality thinks that the fact that the ruling comes before the elections might be a bad omen as to what the decision might mean for same-sex partners.

Anti-gay Latino organization endorses Hillary Clinton for NY Senate

Here's an interesting tid-bit from today's Los Angeles Times: The DC-based Latino Coalition has endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton in her re-election bid for the New York State Senate. This is news because the group - purportedly a "non-partisan" entity - has pretty much rubber-stamped George W. Bush's agenda since giving him their 2004 endorsement.

For example, back in March they endorsed the building of a wall across the Mexico-U.S. border (or increasing "physical barriers along the border," as they called it); blasted a McCain-Kennedy bill that would have provided a pathway to residency for undocumented workers currently in the United States; and, when immigration reform failed, they promptly blamed Democratic Party for the defeat as well.

Politically they have also endorsed Alberto Gonzalez for Attorney General, Arnold Schwarzeneger for California Governor and conservative judge Miguel Estrada, a Bush appointee to the DC Appellate Court. Some Democrats have also received the Latino Coalition's endorsement in the past but they tend to be centrist Democrats, a couple of exceptions being the other Democratic New York State Senator, Chuck Schumer, and Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, both in 2004.

Earlier this month at the Small Business Economic Summit, which the Coalition organizes in DC every year, they held a discussion on "The Looming Crisis South of the Border: Venezuela and Argentina - The Hemisphere's Troubling New Axis."

At the event they also released the results of a poll on Latino community attitudes towards the political parties. In the intro to the poll results, available online in pdf form, the Coalition explains the "one ray of hope" that remains for Republicans when it comes to Latino voters:
According to the results of the survey, the one ray of hope for Republicans is that Latino voters continue to support a conservative social agenda and a conservative economic policy. By a margin of 61-8% Latino registered voters prefer lowering taxes to grow the economy; by a margin of 48-40% registered voters prefer to be covered by a private health care plan over a government-run program like Medicaid; by a margin of 54-36% Latino voters consider themselves pro-life; 59% said they would be less likely to support a candidate that supports gay marriage and 67% said they would be more likely to support a candidate that support parental notification before a teenage girl can have an abortion.
In the past, the Latino Coalition has joined forces with other anti-gay Latino institutions, such as CONLAMIC, so it's no surprise that they have polled individuals on this issue in order to advance their conservative agenda.

Now, it is known that Hillary Clinton does not support marriage rights for same-sex couples but that alone does not explain the Coalition's endorsement. As a matter of fact, back in August the Coalition blasted Clinton for trying to save millions in funding for some of the urban population worst hit by HIV/AIDS.

The Times article says that the Coalition's endorsement of Clinton is a sign of how the immigration debate has roiled Latino support for Republicans but, considering the Coalition's past support for some of the most restrictive of the recently proposed immigration measures, I'm not so sure that the theory applies. Most probably, it's just one more desperate face-saving attempt by the Coalition now that their fortunes have run afoul of a sinking Republican ship.

As for their Clinton endorsement, EvilPaula over at Daily Kos, pulls up more dirt on The Latino Coalition while noting that neither Clinton nor California Democrat Diane Feinstein list it on their campaign websites.

Who has them listed as endorsers? Those seeking to draw the conservative Latino vote including Republican George Allen in his bid for the Virginia Senate (yes, the Coalition endorsed him despite Allen's widely-reported racist comments during a campaign stop) and "independent" Connecticut Senate candidate Joe Lieberman.

Jamaican performers and homophobia in dancehall reggae

An interesting article in Sunday's Jamaica Gleaner gives some perspective on the impact of international protests against homophobic dancehall reggae singers such as Beenie Man, Buju Banton, T.O.K., Bounty Killer and Elephant Man.

Apparently performers of other types of reggae seem to be making a conscious decision to distance themselves from dancehall out of fear of being boycotted, if not necessarily as a stand against homophobia.

In "Gay gap in J'can music," renown roots reggae performer Freddie McGregor argues that reggae genres should not be confused and that if homophobia is endemic in dancehall reggae, the same cannot be said of other reggae genres:
If you notice we are not involved in the broil weh a gwaan wid di gay people, so why dem a put di two music together if the genres are different? Relating that to reggae on a whole, goin' put a bad outlook on the music. I think it should a relate to the particular artiste involved, because not all dancehall artistes are involved. Is like a deliberate effort to smear the reputation of reggae. The dancehall genre has become a standard part of the thing, but what I notice is that every time a situation goes wrong that artiste is referred to as a dancehall and reggae artiste... This affects the whole thing greatly, because dem draw reggae into it and persons don't separate the two genres. So the emphasis should be placed on the individual or individuals, because it can hurt the entire music.
He goes on to say that even those dancehall performers who have been accused of being homophobic have shown in the past that they are creative enough to be successful without adressing the gay issue in their lyrics and should just avoid singing about gays but, interestingly, he also says "I am not a supporter of being gay, the world over knows that, but I do music about love and peace."

The same can be said of singer Ken Boothe who says "I'm not for it" (meaning homosexuality) but also says "If somebody love my music an dem gay, what must I do, deny them my music? No, I don't business wid dat, mi wouldn't mek dat bother me, me nah mek dem ting deh stop my music."

McGregor and Boothe, along with a third roots reggae performer, Bob Andy, say that dancehall reggae performers have indeed received the brunt of the international criticism but all share concerns that people outside Jamaica do not differenciate reggae from "dancehall" reggae and that ultimately the protests and boycotts might greatly affect all reggae performers.

It is obvious that the protests are having a deep impact in reggae culture in Jamaica and that performers within the island are, as a result, also putting pressure on homophobic dancehall singers to mute their views on gays, but it seems that change is happening mostly because of the threat of economic sanctions rather than a change in attitudes towards gays.

Interestingly, these interviews also expose the ongoing perception that homosexuality is a foreign entity and at no time do these singers address the gay community in Jamaica or the violence they endure at home.

It's good that international protests seem to have been effective in curtailing homophobic expression in dancehall reggae but that is akin to putting a band-aid on a wound. Until there are more performers such as Tanya Stephens who are willling to confront homophobia for what it is in order to root it out from Jamaican culture, these are just baby steps.

Monday, October 23, 2006

YouTube of the day: Cry

A classic: Godley & Creme's "Cry" (click here). Context to be explained later.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Grey's Anatomy actor comes out...

And now for something completely different:

Grey's Anatomy actor TR Knight has sent a statement to People magazine in which he seeks to clarify some rumors.

“I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I’d like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I’m gay isn’t the most interesting part of me.”

It's my favorite television show of the moment so indulge me while I say "coolness."

Update: Unfortunately, we've researched those rumors and they do not necessarily reflect a good light on another cast member (one of our favorites we might also ad).

Gay City News on the death of Michael Sandy

On the latest issue of Gay City News:

"Several dozen activists, most of them leaders in the black gay community, turned out Monday on the steps of City Hall for a press conference that was intended as a show of community solidarity and brotherhood in the face of the latest in a long line of vicious attacks on gay men of African descent in New York City..." (to read more click on "A Focus on Community, Change, Non-Violence and Love" by Gay City News Editor Paul Schindler).

"There are no flowers at the site where Michael J. Sandy was murdered. There is no handwritten sign expressing love for him or sorrow at his death, no teddy bear, no candles, none of the elements that are usually part of the impromptu memorials that mark the sites of homicides or traffic accidents..." (to read more click on "Grappling to Respond to Murder" by Gay City News Associate Editor Duncan Osborne).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A pansy for Edgar Garzon

Ok, this blog hasn't been a barrel of laughs lately and sometimes it even seems to me as if it's become a compedium of the latest anti-gay attack against people of color in the city. And yes, I have written about Eddie Garzon at length in the past. But then you find a blog out there and it's impossible not to make a comment.

Enter UK artist Paul Harfleet and his Pansy Project. Recently, Mr. Harfleet was in New York touring the project. As you will see at the link above, the goal of the project is as follows:
Artist Paul Harfleet revisits city streets planting pansies as close as possible to where verbal homophobic abuse has been experienced. These self-seeding pansies act as a living memorial to this abuse and operate as an antidote to it, some pansies wither whilst others thrive in car park borders and windswept road verges. Each pansy's location is named after the abuse received. Click on 'locations' to see where the pansies have been planted
A surprise: Mr. Harfleet planted the above pansy in honor of my friend Eddie Garzon while in New York. Something that I found out through The Pansy Project blog.

For some reason, the sentiment is tremendously moving. Thank you, Pansy Project.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Kevin Aviance is angry

When it comes to yesterday's rally to call attention to hate crimes in this city in the wake of the attack and death of Michael Sandy, Kevin Aviance wants to know "Where was everyone?"

As you might remember, the performace artist and singer was himself attacked by a group of young men this summer in yet another recent senseless crime in this city.

Funny, ha ha...

Members of the Jennifer Lopez fan club? Well, no... That's PapiChulo and YunYun of New York City's Spanish language radio station 97.9FM's "El Vacilon de la Mañana" playing gay as they disrupt a J. Lo movie shooting in New York (from today's radio broadcast and online links). Funny, ha ha... not really. Offensive? Not really either. Just a bit stereotypical and part of the way they use gays as laughing stocks almost on a daily basis.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Michael J. Sandy and so many others

Something that was said at today's City Hall press conference (2nd from top) in response to the senseless death of Michael J. Sandy last week stuck with me: We have been here before.

Whether it's Michael last week (holding the crystal ball above); Kevin Aviance (3rd from top making his first public appearance after being assaulted at an anti hate-crime march this summer); Rashawn Brazell (his mom, Desire Brazell, 4th from top, at a Brooklyn vigil this summer to draw attention to her son's murder); Nelson Torres (an employee of the Hispanic AIDS Forum, 5th from top, who survived an attack in 2005); my friend Eddie Garzon (that's his family holding a memorial prayer on the sidewalk where he laid bleeding five years ago this summer, 6th from top), Sakia Gunn, Rodney Velazquez, Dwan Prince, Julio Rivera, it's as if history keeps repeating itself.

This must stop. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that it won't be long 'til we see more of the same. Please help me to make sure that it does not.

NOTE: More photos of today's press conference at my Fotki site (if you want to post or reproduce them please ask for permission by writing to

Other observations:

Sunday, October 15, 2006

La Mega shock-jocks rebuffed by mourning family

It's been a while since I listened to "El Vacilon de la Mañana" on New York City's La Mega radio station (97.9FM) but a Gerson Borrero column in Friday's El Diario La Prensa caught my eye.

Back on August 14th, 2006, in his "Bajo Fuego" opinion column, Mr. Borrero profiled Mr. Marino Heredia, a Dominican Republic immigrant who came to New York in 1978 already infected by a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes called filalia. As a younger man, Mr. Heredia had trusted those who said his swollen leg was the result of an evil spell cast on him and had only sought help from brujos (witches). It wasn't until his arrival in the United States years later when symptoms worsened that he finally sought medical help - and was diagnosed.

At 50 years of age and weighing at 750lbs, Mr. Heredia contacted Mr. Borrero seeking help in finding a specialist that might be able to help him. Earlier this summer he gained a bit of notoriety in the Spanish-language press when 15 firemen had to assist in helping him out of his second floor apartment before he could be taken to a Queens hospital. Mr. Heredia did not survive much longer, he passed away last week.

In the article, Mr. Borrero asked Mr. Heredia to describe some of the symptoms. Mr. Heredia said that one of the worst things was that his "balls had grown too much." Asked if he was referring to his testicles, he clarifies that he is referring to two massive growths on both sides of his inner thighs, which made it impossible for him to walk (elephantitis of lower body extremities and sexual organs is common in advanced filalia sufferers according to this link)

Well, enter "El Vacilon de La Mañana." Upon learning of Mr. Heredia's passing last week, they apparently latched on the comments he had made to Mr. Borrero in August and called the El Diario La Prensa columnist to discuss Mr. Heredia's "balls." Mr. Borrero says he spent a few minutes trying to convey the seriousness of the disease during the broadcast (he should have known better than to actually have gone on air with the notoriously offensive "Vacilon" crew, which it must be said advertise prominently in the print and web portal editions of El Diario).

In Friday's "Bajo Fuego" column, Mr. Borrero says that he was interrupted by a cell phone call from Mr. Heredia's sister, Luz Heredia, even as he was still on air with "El Vacilon." She wanted to express her family's indignation at the comments made about their brother on air at a time when they are also dealing with how to bury a man who weighed so much when he died.

Apparently, "El Vacilon" made an offer to help the Heredia family with burial expenses but Ms. Heredia tells Borrero "Even if we were in need, how can we accept anything from those who are disrespectful?"

Mr. Borrero is right to say that "[DJ's] Moon, Francis Mendez, Carolina, Chino and the rest of the abnormal [crew] were unmeasured in their insensibility" and ends by saying "You crossed the line, friends."

Question is: When haven't they done anything but stuff like this.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Michael J. Sandy almost escaped his death..."

That's the lead sentence in a story that appears on the front page of the New York Times Metro Section tomorrow ("From Crime to Arrest, By Way of Computer," October 15, 2006).

The article takes a look at how NYPD detectives were able to trace back what happened a week ago tonight when Mr. Sandy was lured into a trap by someone he thought was offering to have a sexual encounter when it actually turned out to be four heterosexual white youth who had previously decided to try to rob a gay man using a single profile to lure him.

The Times tells what happened next:

When Mr. Sandy pulled up to a Sheepshead Bay street corner last Sunday, he found not the lone man he thought he had been exchanging instant messages with, but two men. Uncomfortable, he drove away.

Back home, Mr. Sandy resumed his online chat with the man calling himself “fireyefox,” who persuaded him to go through with the rendezvous.

Later that night, Mr. Sandy was led to a trash-strewn parking lot near the Belt Parkway, and confronted by four men who, the authorities say, were hoping to rob him. He was beaten and chased onto the highway, where he was hit by a car. On Friday, a day after Mr. Sandy turned 29, his family removed him from a respirator.

Detectives were able to determine these things from something that Mr. Sandy did not do before he went out a second time that night: He did not turn off his computer and left his Adam4Adam profile on (the Times also runs a photo of Mr. Sandy's Friendster profile).

What follows is an incredibly sad and vivid account of the confrontation near the Belt Parkway and disturbing emerging profiles of the four assailants.

"It wasn't a hate crime against blacks or gays," says a young woman who knew the assailants but did not give her name to the Times. Then she ads "They were looking to rob him. They didn't think he'd fight back if he was gay."

As for Mr. Sandy's passing on Friday afternoon, McCartha L. Lewis, his aunt, tells the Times "He was already gone, he's resting in the arms of Jesus right now."

Ms. Lewis is also known as the soca music performer Calypso Rose.

REMEMBER: A rally in memory of Michael Sandy is scheduled for Monday afternoon at 5pm on the steps of the New York City Council building. It's being organized by People of Color in Crisis, the New York State Black Gay Network, the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and the National Black Justice Coalition and has been endorsed by Brooklyn Pride.

5:00 pm
City Hall, Manhattan
2/3 to Park Place
4/5/6/J/M/Z to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall
A/C to Broadway-Nassau
R/W to City Hall

According to Michael's MySpace profile, a memorial is also being planned. For updates please write to:

Basement Jaxx at Webster Hall: Oh lordy, the monkeys!

Never mind that Basement Jaxx are featured on the cover of this month's British dance music bible, Mixmag. When I got to Webster Hall to see one of the only two shows they were performing in the US in support of their new CD, Crazy Itch Radio, the place was almost empty! This despite the fact that a 2nd show had been cancelled and tickets for that night were being honored on Wednesday.

Opening band The Double (wha..? There was an opening band?) strolled in looking a bit unsure whether to start playing for the meager few. They were mostly lambasted by online reviewers as you can read below but I actually thought their first few songs were pretty great. They seemed to lose their way towards the end and the sound system wasn't helping. Mostly, they served as a backdrop for a couple of young drunk boys that were making out just in front of the stage leaving a puddle of saliva on the floor (it was actually pretty funny, hm, was I that sloppy a kisser back when I was their age?).

The boyfriend arrived just in time to make me forget how old I've become. Thankfully, a few more people were also straggling in and by the night's end there was a pretty good crowd.

The Jaxx launched the show with all guns blasting: Lisa Kekaula from the Bellrays joined three hottie trumpet players, Jaxx'er Felix Buxton behind the synth keyboards, fourteen drummers, six giraffes and the kitchen sink on a lively "Good Luck" - except it took me a bit to recognize the song because the sound system continued to suck.

From there on it was just a 'just the hits, ma'm, we're just playing the hits' show including oldies "Romeo," "Do Your Thing," "Red Alert" and their biggest US hit "Where's Your Head At?" - with Felix going bongazoid and the crowd nearly breaking Webster Hall's wooden floor from jumping so hard. There were also the newbies "Hey You," "Oh My Gosh" and the new great single "Take Me Back to Your House" from the new album (no "Hush Boy" in the set though they did play the lame "Lights Go Down").

The highlight was the ragga-on-steroids madness that is "Jump'n'Shout" which might have derailed a subway train or two had they passed by underground during the song. And then, lordy, all those monkeys!! Almost shit my pants there were so many monkeys! (Hm, you had to be there I guess).

Some of the more discerning bloggers noticed a pretty important thing that I missed: The madness was achieved without half of the core Basement Jaxx duo, Simon Ratcliffe (apparently he was busy helping the wife have a baby).

So yeah, a pretty amazing show even though I still think the Summer Stage concert I saw way back was better (even the sound was better and that was OUTDOORS!). This time they stuck to showcasing the hits which was ok, I guess, but it seemed to lack some overall cohesion. Then again, maybe I'm asking too much of the concerts I attend.

Hm, maybe I'll get to write about that absolutely amazing Zero 7 show I saw at the same venue just a couple of weeks ago? Definitely on my top ten list of live shows ever.

Blog reviews:
YouTube videos of the concert

The Advocate's Top Ten Blogs Plus One

Speaking of that "Best of the Web 2006" issue of The Advocate, the editors asked readers to identify their favorite blogs and give us the Top 10.

It's no surprise that some biggies make the list, including conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish, the gossipy Pink is the New Blog, the "all things gay all the time" Towleroad, the "let's out all closeted gay Republicans" BlogActive, and, perhaps even Keith Boykin's site which probably draws as many readers as some of those others.

The nice surprise, at least to me, is to see Rod2.0's blog make the list as well as Joe.My.God's blog!

The remaining three blogs, which I know little about, are Some Like It Scott, Dave White Knows and Angry Black Bitch (the only female blogger to make the list, whassupwithdat?). And, come to think of it, no blogs from outside the United States either.

The Plus One? Well, nicely, The Advocate also has a profile of Steven Emmanuel and his QueerKidofColor website (not necessarily a blog, but a great site nevertheless).

As for our own Blog Rolls? I've moved a few blogs around and also added a couple including Joe.My.God, Andrew Sullivan (both mentioned above and which I frequently check up on) as well as Unbeached Whale and one that promises to become one of my favorite reads: ARIA: A Critical Journey Through Popular Culture.

UPDATE: The article is now available online here and lists additional reader favorites in addition to the top ten. They include:

Friday, October 13, 2006

LJ Bears *heart* Steven Mackin

The current issue of The Advocate (October 24, 2006 cover date) has an article ("Bears on Live Journal") as part of their "Best of the Web 2006" coverage.

The article takes a look at the popular blog / diary site LiveJournal and the surprising way in which it has become a networking site for gay and bisexual bears (the article, confusingly, is not available online).

I recently posted on the travails of my friend Steven Mackin (a/k/a coolukman on LiveJournal) and the recent news that a cancer he thought he had beaten three years ago seemed to be back with a vengeance.

Last week and this week have proved tough ones for Steven beginning with a sudden change in hospitals a week ago Wednesday. This was followed by some disheartening news on which Steven ruminated earlier today followed by slightly more promising news this afternoon. We've kept in touch almost every day (the man can text message like no one else I know) and have spoken to him a few times this week being mindful of his hospital stay and of the time he's been spending with his family.

In a conversation we had a while back before the cancer resurfaced, Steven told me that one of the big reasons he came out to his family was watching the amazing Pedro Zamora on the 3rd season of MTV's The Real World (to many, Zamora was the person who brought home the impact of HIV/AIDS as well as the courage of being an out gay man on national television; personally, he certainly was a huge reason why I began to volunteer at HIV/AIDS service organizations). Steven also mentioned that Zamora was one of the reasons why he began to write about his experiences with cancer on his LiveJournal blog and continues to do so, unflinchingly, to this date.

As for The Advocate article on LiveJournal, Steven's posts show just how the site is much more than a networking site for bearish gay and bisexual men. It seems as if every single bear on LiveJournal has left a greeting or two below Steven's posts which goes to show how it can also be a tremendous source of support and love when difficult things like these happen to someone.

In any case, I tried to be on LiveJournal for a New York minute a few months back but it just wasn't for me. Maybe I wasn't bearish enough? In any case, I guess a Blogger can always join the LiveJournal choir:

You rule, Mackin! Lotsa love from New York.

Previous posts:

Sad News: Michael Sandy has died, rally at NY City Hall on Monday

Michael Sandy, a gay black man who was hit by a car in Brooklyn on Sunday night as he sought to escape an ambush by young men who had lured him to a deserted parking lot by promising sex through a gay chat room, has died after bspending a week in a coma according to ABC news (via Keith Boykin).

Three suspects, who range in age from 16 to 20 have been arraigned on hate crime charges and it's expected that police will "upgrade" the charges now that Mr. Sandy has died (a fourth man is still under investigation). All suspects are white and it has been reported that they had previously used gay chat rooms to lure potential robbery victims in the past.

Boykin's site reports that a rally sponsored by People of Color in Crisis, the New York State Black Gay Network, the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and the National Black Justice Coalition will be held on the steps of the New York City Council on Monday at 5pm to demand an end to hate crimes in the city and to hold city leaders accountable.

Please join us.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Update: Colombian Senate votes to grant same-sex partners some rights

My dad was the first one to tell me the news on Tuesday night. He called from Medellin to tell me that, after much dialogue and stalling strategies by conservative Senators, the Colombian Senate had finally approved a bill that would grant certain rights to same-sex partners throughout the South American nation by a vote of 48 to 40.

For the bill to become law, it must still be sent to a committee vote at the House of Representatives before debate is allowed in the full House and, if approved, sent to conservative Colombian president Alvaro Uribe for his signature (House of Representatives president Alfredo Cuello has vowed to sink the bill before it reaches the floor but some conservative representatives have said they will buckle their leadership and support the bill they are allowed to vote on it).

If signed into law, "Proyecto 130" - as it's known - would allow a person to register his or her same-sex partner for social security and health benefit coverage under his or her plan; allow the same-sex couple to register a common ownership of belongings [derecho patrimonial]; and allow a surviving partner to inherit a deseased partner's pension benefits.

Although there is still a long legislative road ahead for the bill to become law, Colombian LGBT advocates are elated and celebrating the fact that this is the first time ever that a Colombian congressional branch has voted to recognize the rights of gays and lesbians.

Three previous efforts to protect the rights of same-sex couples through the legislature were either rejected or thrown out before legislative debate on technicalities. Sponsored by Senator Albaro Araujo, this new bill was pulled from obscurity when President Uribe shocked a college audience before the recent presidential elections by saying that, if re-elected president, he would sign such a bill (he also made it clear that he would never support gay marriage or adoptions by same-sex couples).

Tuesday's Senate vote had been re-scheduled from an earlier session in which opposing senators managed to push debate until the late hours, forcing the debate to be held on a new date and, once again, when 18 opposing senators simply walked out of the Senate to prevent quorum (in a move that the leading editorial force in Colombia, El Tiempo, called "pathetic" while urging the House of Representatives to also vote in favor of the bill).

Immediately after Uribe's surprise endorsement of certain rights for same-sex couples, some observers (like yours truly) were surprised by the initial silence from the Catholic religious leadership in Colombiam considering their vehement reaction to similar past efforts. More recently though, they had organized massive marches through the streets of Bogota against the bill and in protest of a recent ruling by the Colombian Supreme Court to relax Colombia's anti-abortion laws, until recently one of the strictest such laws in the world.

As in the past, the church enjoyed wide access to the Senate floor during the vote. LGBT advocates were able to get a copy of a glossy color 4-page brochure that was passed to Senators seeking to sway their vote against the bill. The scanned page, above, reads in part:
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 50% of men with AIDS have had sexual relations with an adult man before 16 years of age, and 20% before turning 10
(Judith A. Reisman, American University) the number of homosexuals and the number of heterosexuals in the population (of the United States). The numbers indicate that 8 million girls were sexually abused before 18 years of age at the hands of heterosexual men; that is a ratio of 1 victim per 11 adult men. Nevertheless, 6.5 million children suffered abuses before 18 years of age by 1.2 million of adult homosexuals; this gives us a ratio of 3 to 5 victims per adult gay [male].
The brochure, attributed to the Bogota-based Avivamiento World Center, urges Senators to "decide for themselves, what God and country demands of you." Colombian LGBT-rights group Colombia Diversa also has posted this page and this page showing some of the imagery used for the brochure (and claiming, in addition, that 22 to 60 percent of gays are pedophiles).

No surprise that on their site they link up to the US evangelical minister Oral Roberts (though the roots of the church are a bit more surprising than that and closer to the North East via Brazil).

So, a brief respite before the struggle goes on but, for once, Colombian LGBT advocates can take a moment and celebrate a historic accomplishment.

For the lastest, in Spanish, check out the Colombia Diversa website.

In the news: "Colombian Senate passes gay rights law" (, Oct. 13, 2006)


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Since last week

A few things that have happened since I last posted last week:

Sunday Brunch in Harlem

Remember this?

Well a few days ago, Donald (Preboot/AnziDesign) had the great idea of inviting a few people of color bloggers for brunch last Sunday. Though only about a dozen of the 24 bloggers who RSVP'd showed up, it sounds like a fun time was had by all (the mom was in town so I wasn't able to make it).

The gathering, while leaning heavy on East Coast representation, not to say mostly on New York area bloggers, was a start. It was suggested that it become an annual event. I actually would suggest that meetings take place every three to six months, specially if the next one happens at one of the Colombian restaurants in Jackson Heights. Perhaps the West Coast and other areas will pick up on the idea as well.

The following bloggers share photos and thoughts on the Sunday brunch in Harlem:
Others present included Kenneth (A Day in the Life of a Divo), Kenyon (Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleep), Ryan (The Ryan Chronicles), Liza (CultureKitchen), Steven (Steven G. Fullwood), Phillippe (Life Up in Harlem Heights) and Alvin (Alvin Agarrat). I have used a photo taken by Bernard above, more here. Donald also has a flckr set here (please ask for permission if you want to use any of these images).

On "glamour shots," "artistic nudes" and black gay bloggers:

Over at the larry lyons experience, Larry D. Lyons II mulls on an ongoing discussion began at Ynkuya's Kaleidoscope back in March. They might as well be speaking about graphic representation of Latino queer imagery on some blogs as well.

Michael Sandy

The details of just how Michael Sandy managed to get struck by a car in Brooklyn on Sunday night, leaving him in a coma, are truly horrendous and Bernard has the details as well as links to some of the coverage here. There are some unfortunate comments over at Keith Boykin's original post on the matter which imply that Mr. Sandy might have brought it upon himself for cruising online and for being in a desolate Brooklyn spot late at night. Repeat after me people, nobody deserves to be targeted for being gay and assaulted. Period.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano talks to Mandrake Society

Lately, we've been linking up to some great interviews with community leaders in other blogs. For a while, I've thought about featuring a few profiles of people I consider to be amazing individuals in the Latino LGBT community and that may come down the line.

For now, it's nice to point out that Mandrake Society Radio has uploaded a podcast interview with the amazing Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano (pictured, deep in thought) from Austin's ALLGO (which began as a local Latino lesbian and gay organization and has developed into a state-wide people of color queer rights organization).

Lorenzo discusses the history behind ALLGO, other Latino LGBT organizing efforts, the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples and how it plays in our communities and, finally, the dynamics of identity politics (the interview begins close to the 6-minute mark of the podcast).

Props to Mandrake Society's JW Richards for featuring Lorenzo.

Besides, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano - How cool is that name? Love ya, Lorenzo!

Additional info: