Saturday, June 30, 2007
Dupree, who saw allegations of improper use of his power pile up after it was reported that he had a much younger former lover picked up by one of his deputies and put him in deportation proceedings (the teen was an undocumented Honduran immigrant), resigned only when a judge ruled that there was enough evidence to investigate whether he should continue holding his post.
An independent investigation also detailed in this week's Dallas Voice determined that "Dupree [had] made a habit of inviting young Hispanic employees on dates, trips and cruises; taking them to the basement and making advances."
Dupree told the Voice that it was all an orchestrated campaign to run a gay man out of the constable's office but, in exchange for his resignation and a pledge never to run for another politically appointed office in Texas, all pending charges - aside from a misdemeanor - have been dropped.
- Le Barcito, currently the Cha Cha 2375 Glendale Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039
- Klub Fantasy / Club Fire at the Nayarit aka The Echo 1822 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90026
- The Score 107 W. 4th St, Downtown Los Angeles, currently Bar 107
On Thursday, KPCC radio (89.3) tagged along with "semi-anonymous" performance artist Sandra as she pasted the plaques outside each bar as part of the ongoing Operation Invisible Monument, which seeks to "commemorate moments in Los Angeles history that have not been officially recognized" and, in this instance, highlight the effect of gentrification in some areas of the city.
For more on all this check out the above hyper links, the project's main website or Sandra's blog.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Not that we're saying that El Jefferey is gay but in an illuminating article from yesterday's El Caribe El Jeffrey is asked the following questions:
Q: What, if anything is missing from your closet?
El Jeffrey: "Nothing, because I really like to protect my image, I try to have all the things that I need, the only thing missing is some order because it's in chaos."
Q: Does it bother you to be criticized for wearing colorful and scandalous clothing?
El Jeffrey: "The comments, I enjoy them. Tell me, if I'm not [the object] of criticism, how will I sell [my records]? On one occasion a reporter asked me if I was homosexual and the next day I appeared wearing pink clothes on television, it's part of the business."
Q: But there's a lot of commentary on that specific point [and] people say that you are homosexual.
El Jeffrey: "(opens his eyes wide) It is important, who I am, and that [those who are] mine know who I am (silence) if they say a lie about me why am I going to deny it if it's false, and if it is the truth the same thing goes."
Q: Is there anything that you always put in your mouth?
El Jeffrey: "My finger (he paces his right index finger near his lips)"
Q: Who do you find irresistible?
El Jeffrey: "Definitely the North-American singer Beyonce"
The singer also says that he does wear make up even if he doesn't like it because he prefers things to be natural, that he has not had any plastic surgery done and that he admires the work of, um, Ricky Martin. Oh! And that he does not like reggaeton and the influence of the music on his sons.
Not the first time that we have written about a Dominican merengue singer who plays coy with his sexuality even as he plays the stereotypes up for the cameras and his fans. On August 9, 2006, we featured Hector Aponte Alequin of Mala Fe and his video "Pluma, Pluma Gay" ("Feather, Feather Gay").
When I heard that few gay men showed up in yesterday's gay pride rally in Santo Domingo it made me wonder about the relative cultural acceptance (and success) of personalities like El Jeffrey and Mala Fe in as homophobic a culture as the Dominican Republic and the public invisibility of gay men in the island.
The stereotypes that El Jeffrey and Mala Fe play up to probably live up to Dominican perceptions of fagdomness in a way that is not as threatening to macho culture in the island (come to think of it, Ricky Martin's coyness also plays well in Puerto Rico whereas him actually coming out might not).
Ah! The paradoxes of gayness and homophobia in the Caribbean.
There was no mention of the rally in the local papers but a friend would later tell me that close to 250 people congregated at the Duarte Park in a show of LGBT public visibility.
This stood in contrast with organizers of an indoors LGBT issues symposium during that same week, some of whom privately argued against a public demonstration claiming it might be dangerous.
The events also were happening a few weeks after Santo Domingo authorities had shut down a couple of gay bars (which would later reopen after owners promised to abide with new curfew and sound violation regulations).
To my surprise today's Diario Libre reports that there was a 2nd LGBT rights rally at Duarte Park last night in commemoration of the NYC Stonewall riots of 1969. The paper doesn't give a specific number but says that dozens of people participated. It also says that gay men only showed up hours after the event began and that, for most of the afternoon, the reporter only saw female demonstrators. They carried signs and shirts that read "Soy lesbiana por que me gusta y me da la gana" ("I am a lesbian because I like it and that's the way I want it") and "Soy lesbiana y envio remesas" ("I am a lesbian and I send remittances" - an allusion, I assume, to the importance of money sent to the Dominican Republic from Dominicans living in the United States).
There are some supportive statements in the Diario Libre comments section including a woman named Martha Elizabeth who simply says "These types of demonstrations make me feel proud of being Dominican, to live in a country where people are tolerant and understanding."
Then there are also comments like the one from Jose Perez from Puerto Rico who says that these women should be spanked and given work to do or Lady from the Dominican Republic who says "My God, what a tremendous impudence has arrived in my country with these empty corrupt drug-addict jobless women that lack any dignity."
This reminded me of a message I got from Melvin Rosario of Las Odiseas de Burbujas earlier this month regarding a homophobic editorial that Listin Diario, one of the leading and most respected Dominican newspapers had just published. Melvin, who is from DR but lives in New York, was stunned that such a respected newspaper could publish such filth. The editorial titled "'Pajarerismo' televisivo" ("Televised 'faggotry'") reads in part:
It seems that someone has deemed that it's fitting for television "marketing" to use homosexuals, transsexuals, effeminates or "fags" as entertainment for the public or to promote cheap entertainment or political gossip, without measuring the impact that these frivolities can produce, especially among children and adolescents who, at their age, are defining their future models of behavior or conduct...Since the publication of the editorial on June 11th, 2007, Melvin, whose blog is written in Spanish, also noticed that Listin Diario followed up the editorial with two articles on June 12th corroborating the views in the editorial. In both, psychologists are quoted as stating that one had seen an 11-year-old kid turn gay after watching some television shows while another expressed concern for Dominican youth in what he saw as the increasing phenomenon of "confused" and effeminate kids.
What is apparent is that there exists a contest to see who can demonstrate the most deviant skills; who is the most "gilry" of all and who can bend the most [in order to] charm, attract or seduce others, specially those who continue to hide in the "closet" and haven't realized that they can now go on air, pushed by the small winds, and rise with all their feathers to the most vapid spaces of daily vacuousness, because today's television is already open for "ellas" [the gender specific word for "them" referring to women meant to be a derogatory dig at gay men].
So here at Blabbeando, we salute these beautiful women who were willing to show their face proudly last night on the streets of Santo Domingo. If that isn't the true spirit of gay pride, then I don't know what is.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
If you are a loyal reader of this blog, you might remember that during those first few months of Blabbeando's existence it almost turned into the Roisin Murphy fan blog, as much as we used to write about her.
Well, guess what! She is back! And we are oh so happy that she seems to be trending towards the housier sounds. Above is the video for the first single "Overpowered" which will be out in Great Britain on July 2nd.
That means that the album should follow soon and maybe be released in the United States maybe hopefully sometime before 2,010.
You see, the rules of the Thinking Blogger Award are these:
Now, I am often weary of selecting any top five or top whatever lists because invariably someone always gets left off or, God-forbid, I might inadvertently hurt someone's feelings. But let's stick to the ground-rules and highlight a few blogs that I feel might be off the radar but are always thoughtful places to visit.
- If, and only if you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
- Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
- Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
In no particular order of favoritism:
- Guanabee. I wish there were more Latino blogs like Guanabee. Irreverent, informative, fun and fresh at the same time, it's required daily reading at Blabbeando.
- LifeLube: The sticky stuff that keeps gay men together. Created by the Sexual health Exchange on Valentine's Day of 2007, LifeLube is actually a candid and sex-positive blog that seeks to "raise public awareness about the sexual health needs of all gay men who have sex with men." If that sounds a little itsy bitsy tiny bit like HIV-prevention-speak look no further than Boston's AIDS Action Committee, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Philly's Black Gay Men's Leadership Council and NY's own Gay Men's Health Crisis, all of which collaborate on this project. But, if I haven't lost you yet, click on LifeLube and find out why it rocks anyway.
- JockoHomo: Bloggernista already said it - JockoHomo is "strung out on jargon and design, art, men and music. Not your typical gay blog." Not much we can ad. Only that the Jocko is out for the week so don't fret if you don't get fresh Homo nuggets every day (oh! and that JockoHomo came in a statistical tie with Manhattan Offender, which for some reason could fit Bloggernista's description of JockoHomo's blog to a T (now I'm confused).
- Arthur S. Leonard: New York Law School Professor Arthur S. Leonard analyses local and national court rulings that have an impact on LGBT rights. It is also one of the few places online that takes a look at political asylum based on fear of persecution due to sexual orientation which I find simply invaluable. That, and some discussion of classical music thrown in the mix.
- Finally, because I wish to be just as smart when I grow up and because this is a "thinking" blog award, head over to Slaves of Academe. If your head doesn't hurt by all the academic (and quite bearish) jargon, then great! Because I don't owe you an aspirin. If that isn't one heck of a ringing endorsement, I swear! It's a great blog!
Disclaimer: I absolve all and any of my awardees from having to follow up on the meme (unless you want to participate) but I hope readers of Blabbeando find them as thought-provoking as I do.
Monday, June 25, 2007
With a series of officially announced "impending" renovations at Coney Island's famed amusement parks (home to the world renowned Cyclone roller-coaster and the Wonder-Wheel ferris wheel, above) our fears that it would never be the same took over and we decided to check-out the annual Mermaid Parade on Saturday. And, by golly!, we made it!
It could not have been a better day weatherwise. So, without further ado, the 25th annual Mermaid Parade in images!
The Mermaid Parade is all about... Red (hairy) Lobsters!
The Mermaid Parade is all about... "I wouldn't f*ck you for practice" Pooh Bear bikers...
The Mermaid Parade is all about... Some scary ass rides...
The Mermaid Parade is all about... Cute kids watching the parade go by...
The Mermaid Parade is all about... Ironically and cynically (?) hip topless redneck girls...
There were mermaids too but it would be unoriginal to post pics here, don't you think?
Hm, more pics of everything here. Also, seems I'm not the only one in the gay blogosphere to have made it to the parade for the first time this year?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
- "The presence of Hispanics in Stonewall"
- "The forgotten in immigration reform: Same-sex partners" on difficulties faced by bi-national same-sex couples (an English language translation is posted on Canadian Hope, the blog of one of the featured couples - and good friends - Tom and Emilio).
- An OpEd by Pedro Julio Serrano: "Targetted by violence: Latino gays and lesbians"
- "They also want to be recognized" on the fight for same-sex marriage rights in New York State
- "Civil unions: More social security" on gains in New Jersey for same-sex couples
- "Homes for gay youths in New York" on Sylvia's Place, a homeless shelter for LGBT youth named in honor of transgender activist Sylvia Rivera
- "Proud of my truth" - a Latina woman from New Jersey describes what makes her proud of being a lesbian.
- Video of today's parade
- 1997: The Latino Caucus of ACT UP and Latino LGBT activism in the 1980's and 90's
- 1998: The first ever Bronx LGBT Pride parade
- 1999: LGBT contingents at the non-gay Puerto Rican Pride parade
- 2002: The annual Dominican LGBT picnic under the George Washington Bridge
- 2003: COLEGA waltzes for same-sex partnership rights in Colombia at Queens Pride
- 2004: Confronting religious homophobia in the Bronx and marching down 5th Avenue
- 2006: Latino LGBT precence at the immigration rights rallies
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Last night I headed to the 9th annual Glam Slam competition organized every year by The House of Xavier.
A few days before the event Emanuel Xavier expressed concern that some of the local gay publications had shown little interest in profiling the event so I wasn't expecting too many people to know about it. If anything, though, the Bowery Poetry Club was packed with people and I had to remain standing during the performances since there no seats were left.
The performances were varied, some very good, and Emanuel who not performed but also produced the show's lighting and sound, was visibly giddy and happy about the turnout.
I managed to catch a small video of Mother Diva Xavier of the Loose Control Comedy Group a/k/a Chulisi a/k/a Andre Rodriguez (above) doing his thing as mc. Love him!
Emanuel fillis in the details over on his MySpace page here. He's also threatening to make next year's 10th annual Glam Slam the last one evah! I hope it's not but, if it is, I am sure that it will go out with a bang. Great night all around. Also at the event, the amazing percussionist Joyce Jones.
More videos courtesy of MEER MUSA here.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Photos: Up to 100 gays and lesbians took to the streets of Bogota, Colombia today to protest the unprecedented sinking of a bill that had been approved by both the Colombian senate and congress on a last minute legislative move from conservative senator.
The Associated Press can tell it much better than I probably can so here's a link to a detailed article published today in The Washington Post and other newspapers.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
More info at The Agenda, including the tally of nays and yays. Yay!
Gay City News also has a report here and Azi has a video statement from Empire State Pride Agenda ED (and friend) Allan Van Capelle.
Conservative allies of President Alvaro Uribe renege on their promise to support it and sink bill
As I am watching the New York State Assembly debate a same-sex marriage bill, heartbreaking news has just reached me regarding a last minute move by conservative legislators in Colombia who have, in effect, sunk a bill granting certain rights to same-sex couples in the South American nation (see a previous article on the bill from the Washington Post printed before today's news).
Today, legislators were supposed to meet to hammer out a draft that would reconcile the versions approved earlier this year by the Senate and last week by Congress. It was then supposed to be sent President Alvaro Uribe to be signed into law within days.
Instead, allies of President Uribe from the consevative "La Ú" party, who had recently expressed support for the bill, today turned their back on Uribe and the bill and voted against reconciling both versions which means that the bill is now dead.
From El Tiempo this afternoon:
June 19 of 2007
Law that grants patrimonial rights to homosexual couples is sunk-down in Congress
In a vote for a conciliation report, several Uribe-allies from the "La Ú" party did not endorse the initiative and, by doing so, threw away the four historical votes that had been won.
The decision drew an irate reaction from senator Armando Benedetti, the main sponsor of the bill, who requested the expulsion of those who voted against the project from "La Ú."
The conciliation report received a vote in the Senate plenary with a tally of 26 in favor and 34 against it.
Among those that voted against it are Senators Jose David Name, Luis Élmer Arenas, Adriana Gutiérrez and Jorge Visbal Martelo.
"La Ú" had decided to vote in favor of the project, but apparently these legislators distanced themselves from that decision.
The project sought to recognize patrimonial rights and access to social security benefits to same-sex couples.
"Supporters say that they will reintroduce the bill in the next legislative session" says the Los Angeles Times.
To watch the New York State Assembly debate and vote live go here.
I will be updating this post as warranted throughout the evening (newer updates first):
- 7:42 PM - Born of immigrant Dominican parents, 39th District Assemblymember Jose Peralta (Queens) speaks movingly about his upbringing in a conservative Catholic family, of being taught to treat others with dignity and respect, of representing the 2nd largest Latino LGBT community in the United States (2nd only to Manhattan's). He invokes his "LGBT brothers and sisters" in supporting a yes vote on the bill.
- 7:02 PM - Thunder and lighting!! For real.
- 6:29 PM - Debate is ON!!!!
- 6:00 PM - Recess is taking a bit longer than expected. According to Capitol Confidential it was taken to "accomodate the Republican minority who wanted to meet" just before the debate. The Confidential also says that support might be in the 80's with some Republicans rumored to be joining the Democratic majority in voting in favor of the bill (76 yay votes are needed for the measure to pass the Assembly).
- 4:59 PM - House in recess 'til 5:30pm; off the floor The Agenda is reporting that the Assembly Rules Committee has voted 21-8 to advance the bill. Among those votes? ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SHELDON SILVER WHO HAS VOTED IN FAVOR OF MOVING THE BILL FOWARD.
- 4:21 PM - The oh-so-boring roll call process is being enlivened by - ehem - hunky Democratic Assemblyman Luis M. Diaz from the Bronx who for some reason is sitting in Speaker Sheldon Silver's chair and overseeing the process. Debate on the marriage bill has yet to come up.
- The Albany Times-Union Capitol Confidential blog puts the time of debate at 4:00pm and has a memo released by the Catholic Conference stating that, while they dignify us and love us, marriage for the gays would be "disastrous" for society. Big surprise.
- The New York Daily News Daily Politics blog says that the debate will open after 3:30pm and says that some conservative State Assembly Republicans see this as a win since they predict that the move to debate such a bill will ultimately reflect bad on Democrats in the Assembly.
The Assembly will debate a gay marriage bill today, according to the bill's prime sponsor, Danny O'Donnell of Manhattan.
"That's right," he told me. "I'm a little nervous."
He said that the bill was reported out of the judiciary committee yesterday "with no negative votes by the Democrats," but he stopped short of making any predictions about its fate.
It should be said that the mere fact that the Assembly is having this debate is historic, and it certainly has the potential -- depending on how things go -- to become national news.
They Assembly is in session now, and the debate is expected later today. You can watch the session live here.
This follows a report from the The New York Sun this morning saying that the Assembly seems ready to pass it.
Monday, June 18, 2007
The Agenda has the vote breakdown here.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Below - Heritage of Pride march, June 27, 2004: Venezuelan Gays United in full feather regalia perform before the judge's stand. I was a judge that year and I believe they were nominated for a couple of awards though I swear I tried to be as impartial as possible. They were pretty good though. Rumor says that this year they'll be back in feathers although the colors might change.
Queens pride parade, June 1, 2003: This week's great news that my home country of Colombia is set to become the first Latin American nation to grant some partnership rights to same-sex couples on a national level (other Latin American cities such as Buenos Aires and municipalities had done so before on a local level) came after several attempts to pass such a bill.
In 2003, the Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association (COLEGA) decided to stage a wedding reception and dance in support of a bill that was being sponsored by Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba at the time. That we did it outdoors and at the Queens pride parade won us the "Simply the Best" award at that year's parade (yay!).
And, yes, before you ask that is the boyfriend (first guy on the left) dancing with another man.
Watching the drag queens make it down the steep trails to the park on their stilettoed high heels is always fun. Watching hot mamis dance merengue with other mamis and hot papis stroll by hand in hand is not something most New Yorkers expect to see in Washington Heights. There are also booths for organizations that want to provide information, warm food (usually arros y gandules or rice and beans, sometimes with fried sweet plantains). Even straight people with their kids.
As in past years, this year's picnic is being organized by the Gay and Lesbian Dominican Empowerment Organization (GALDE). Click on the link to find out more about this year's event (it's already on it's 17th year). They are also always happy to get sponsors or donations to help them with the costs. I'll probably do a reminder later but definitely save the date: Sunday, July 29th, 2007 from noon to 7pm (rain or shine and, of course, under the George Washington Bridge).
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Puerto Rican Day Parade, June 13, 1999: Organizations including Las Buenas Amigas, Latino Gay Men of New York and Primer Movimiento Peruano participate in the definitely non-gay Puerto Rican Day Parade.
I believe it's the biggest parade of the year in Manhattan and I remember being absolutely intimidated by the huge crowds. There were some plastic bottles thrown at us and a few middle fingers raised and insults hurled but there were also lots of Puerto Rican lesbians on the sidelines that jumped with joy when they saw us (at least that was my impression, maybe the gay Puerto Rican guys kept it on the down low).
I also remember that the transgender women in the groups put me to shame in actually walking into the crowds and handing out information with no fear - despite that they bore the brunt of most of the laughter and insults. I drew courage from them to say "fuck it" and just decided to enjoy the experience.
Participating in the city's gay pride marches and events might be fun and pretty and self-empowering but I always thought it is more important to be present and visible in events like these that are not necessarily as gay-friendly.
A couple of years later, I remember marching in a much smaller contingent (practically by myself and three other people from the Puerto Rican Initiative to Develop Empowerment) right in front of the Latin Kings who were dressed in yellow - their gang colors. Not sure if they realized we were a gay group but they certainly were really friendly and cheering us on.
This year the Latin Kings were banned from the parade for the first time ever and the police arrested more than two hundred people when they tried to break into the parade route anyway.
1st ever Bronx LGBT Pride Parade, July 10th, 1998: Yes, Virginia, there once was a pride march down the Grand Concourse Avenue in the Bronx.
Here we have the Puerto Rican Initiative to Develop Empowerment (P.R.I.D.E.) - which was founded in 1995 - joining other organizations on that fateful day. The march would not have been possible without the economic or political support of then-Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer (who would later be defeated in the mayoral race that led to the coronation of current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg). Alas, the pride march only lasted a couple of years.
On that first parade there were nearly no people watching on the sidewalks and it probably caught those who were walking-by by surprise. But it nevertheless was a victory for LGBT leaders in the Bronx (like Marisol Santiago, Lisa Winters and Crystal Paris) who wanted some visibility for the community in the neighborhood.
Last year Bronx Pride was reborn in a different guise. It is no longer a pride march, instead organizers have come up with a health fair / outing at a park kinda thingie.
As a matter of fact this year's event took place today! I hope it went well! I also hope that it was free of some of the controversies of last year involving the organizers and current (Evangelical) Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion (who is rumored to be a future mayoral contender once Mike Bloomberg is termed out of office).
I have also been looking through images that I have that might help to illustrate the vibrancy of Latino LGBT life in New York over the last decade and have submitted some although I'm not sure they will be published.
In the next few posts I will share some of them and my recollections on where and when they were taken.
Let's start with ACT UP and members of the Latino Caucus: The back of the photo I scanned says April of 1997 so I'm not exactly sure on what exact day it was taken or what the protest was about (obviously access to treatments was a theme but considering the size of the crowd it must have been a reaction to something).
I do remember that I was marching with members of ACT-UP's Latino Caucus including Hector Seda, Carlos Maldonado, Popo and a few other people who I'd befriended and had shown me the ropes of activism. Not sure if Sam Larson or Jesus Aguais were there on that day. I was dating a great Peruvian guy, Fernando Mariscal, who was a photo enthusiast and must still have quite a collection of historic photos from those days.
I think by the time I met them, the caucus had folded but they still continued to participate in marches and hang out socially. I was in awe of their activism and wanted to grow up and be just like them (hehe).
While ACT UP is not a gay rights organization, the historical importance to Latino LGBT advocacy in New York is that some of the members of the ACT UP Latino Caucus were influential in launching a couple of gay Latino organizations. Jesus Aguais, who now directs Aid for AIDS, founded the now-defunct Venezuelan Gay and Lesbian Association (VGLA) which led also to the creation of the Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association (COLEGA) - Jesus was dating a Colombian guy and suggested that he bring some people together to launch a Colombian organization, which he did. I ended up being co-chair of COLEGA a couple of years later.
Gonzalo Aburto, who would later become editor of the Spanish-language version of POZ Magazine, also was among a few guys who launched HoMoVISIONES, another gay Latino organization that was unique in that it was not a social or a community service organization but focused on creating audiovisual material covering issues related to the Latino LGBT community. They had an incredible community access cable news show which, among other things, captured the only video I remember seeing of a NYPD officer mounted on a horse trampling through some activists at the massive Matthew Sheppard rally that took place in Manhattan on October 13 of 1998 (the police had penned in demostrators on side streets between avenues and were arresting people en masse). Gonzalo now produces the only 'Rock in Spanish' radio show in New York (La Nueva Alternativa) and writes for... El Diario La Prensa.
At the time there were already a number of Latino gay organizations, including Las Buenas Amigas and Latino Gay Men of New York (currently the longest existing surviving Latino gay organizations in the city) and Latinas y Latinos de Ambiente de Nueva York (LLANY) which still gets listed on gay directories even though I believe it's been more than a decade since it folded. These, in turn, were born out of earlier Latino LGBT organizing in the city and organizations such as HUGGL (sp?) which was gone by the time I moved to New York and, I believe, was founded as a direct result of the incredible rise of power of the Puerto Rican communities in New York in the 1980's and 1990's. I used to know some of this by heart but, unfortunately, time erases some memories and details.
There are still some people out there who have written about that part of Latino LGBT organizing history in New York, most notably Luis Aponte-Pares.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Yesterday's surprise end-of-session congressional vote and passage of a bill that gives "established gay couples full rights to health insurance, inheritance and social security" was not the only major gay rights victory in the South American country this week.
In a little reported May 14th finding that was apparently only announced this week, the United Nations Commission for Human Rights ruled that Colombia had violated a person's equal right protections by denying him access to the pension benefits of his deceased same-sex partner (I could only find a Spanish language version of the the announcement in the United Nations' website).
The ruling is the second time that the Commission has spoken on issues related to same-sex partners. In Young v. Australia (2003) the Committee held that
In the new ruling, the Commission stated that the Colombian government "has the obligation of adopting measures to block similar violations in the future" and asks Colombia for "information on adopted measures to comply with the current ruling" within 90 days.
It's unclear when and how the Colombian government plans to respond.
The claim on behalf of the unnamed surviving partner was brought before the Commission by my friend and Colombian gay rights advocate (and attorney) German Humberto Rincon Perfetti (yes, he is a man of many untold names and abilities). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These developments follow a Colombian Supreme Court ruling back in February (as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle) that seems to be paving the way for a succession of gay rights victories.
Perfetti, for one, is exploring whether Colombian notaries can legally deny civil union rights to same-sex partners in the wake of that Supreme Court ruling.
A more comprehensive report, in Spanish, over at El Tiempo which says that the version passed by Congress still needs to be reconciled with the version that the Colombian senate approved last year.Colombia to become first in Latin America to recognize rights of gay couples
The Associated PressFriday, June 15, 2007
BOGOTA, Colombia: Colombia is set to become the first Latin American country to give established gay couples full rights to health insurance, inheritance and social security under a bill passed by its Congress.
The measure approved Thursday is expected to take effect soon. It is backed by the country's conservative President Alvaro Uribe.
The measure would allow gay couples in long-term relationships to have the same health insurance and social security benefits as heterosexual couples. It also guarantees that assets accumulated during the relationship will be divided between the two, and in the case of death, inherited by the survivor.
Previously, possessions were passed on to blood relations.
Some states and cities in Latin America have passed similar laws, but no other country in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic region has done so at a national level, said Marcela Sanchez, director of the gay rights group Colombia Diversa. She said as many as 300,000 gay couples in Colombia stand to benefit.
"I'm elated," said Catalina Gomez, an English teacher, who said she plans to use the new legal status to take out health insurance for her partner Monica, a self-employed designer and disc jockey. "It validates our union before the law so we no longer have to going around lying about our relationship."
Congress' lower house passed the bill 62-43 following a heated debate in which Alfredo Cuello Baute, the president of the chamber, accused gay lawmakers of a conflict of interest.
"I hope photos don't turn up showing some of our colleagues dressed as drag queens on Caracas Avenue," said Baute, referring to a nighttime cruising spot for transvestites and male prostitutes in Bogota.
Colombia's Senate passed a similar version in April. The two chambers must now agree on a unified text before sending it for Uribe's signature as early as next week.
"This is a victory that only a few months ago seemed unthinkable in this country," said pro-government Sen. Armando Benedetti, one of the bill's sponsors. "To my surprise, the Congress has shown itself to be a modern, responsible and liberal institution."
Colombia's Constitutional Court recognized similar rights to shared property and inheritance in a February ruling, but that decision did not deal with health insurance or social security.
While homosexuality is still taboo in much of Latin America, there has been increasing acceptance in many areas. Mexico City and the Mexican state of Coahuila recently joined the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in legalizing same-sex civil unions.
Opponents of the measure and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church said they feared the Colombian law may open the way to gay marriage and gay adoption. But activists say their campaign is focused for now on obtaining practical benefits.
"Now people will have no choice but to accept we exist and have the same rights as straight couples," said Jose Luis Bautista, 36, who has been living with his partner Jaime for 15 years.
The vote came on the last days of the current congressional session and was in danger of being swept under the rug.
Previously, on Blabbeando...
Today he would have turned 28 and a few people have been leaving messages on his MySpace page. I am just glad that I got to know him and, as of late, that I have been able to communicate with his mom and sisters as well.
A bud posted a YouTube video that speaks for all of us (see below). I still cry every time I see it. I am honored that it begins with the image above, which I sent to Steven a few days before he passed away. He just loved it big time.
From his LiveJournal on his birthday last year, before he knew the cancer was back, "My Life in pictures."
I miss you so bub.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Several cities in Colombia already celebrate gay pride with different events including Cali and Bogota but on July 1st my home city of Medellin will be observing the 10th gay pride march for which organizers hope to attract more than 20,000 people.
I would have never thought as I was growing up that such an event could take place in Medellin, much less observe a 10th anniversary. Yet another sign of how things have changed not only in Medellin but throughout Colombia and Latin America on issues related to gay rights.
It is organized, in part, by the gay rights organization Corporacion El Otro (The Other Corporation). Their website needs to be updated but they will probably have more details as the date nears.
I will be in Medellin this summer. Unfortunately not on the day of the parade. Still, if you are there, let me know how it turns out!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
This in light of proposed changes to the island's civil code that would allow same-sex couples to have access to civil unions.
Movingly, some of the organizers saw it fit to dress their kids as - ehem - sperm and, hm, teach them sperm choreography by the look of the photo above (from El Nuevo Dia). At least they were painted with the rainbow colors although I'm not so certain that it was in honor of gay pride month.
I'm also not so sure they meant it in jest. No, I'm pretty sure they were pretty serious.
So is it so damn wrong of me to be rolling on the floor laughing?
Monday, June 11, 2007
Puerto Rican Crisis
AS WAITING LISTS GROW AND OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AIDS SERVICES ARE STIFLED, PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS SUFFER, FLEE & FIGHT BACK.
by Patricia Nell Warren
As I was writing this column, Cindy Sheehan quit the peace movement. Sheehan said she’d realized that her son “died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.”
Her bitter words echo other voices coming from Puerto Rico, where another war has been raging for over ten years—that of needy PWAs fighting bureaucratic ineptitude and corruption. Yet the mainland pays little attention—despite efforts at publicizing the war by veteran activists José Colón and Anselmo Fonseca.
In a recent IM interview with me, Colón said, “The situation regarding HIV/AIDS in PR is in a deep crisis, both in Title I and II. I feel like we are expensive for the government, and as such, disposable... I have found that neither the Health Department of Puerto Rico, nor the Health Department of the San Juan EMA, nor HRSA care for PLWHIV/AIDS at all. It just comes down to money and dirty politics.” Recently Colón made the dramatic announcement that he was stopping his own HIV treatment as a protest, and to show solidarity with Puerto Rican PWAs who are being denied treatment.
The problem is not lack of funding, but lack of proper administration. Puerto Rico is experiencing a complete collapse of HIV/AIDS service delivery—decrepit and unsanitary clinics, scarcity of doctors and other needed personnel, and meds simply not being bought and distributed. Indeed, according to one report, some HIV-positive Puerto Ricans are fleeing to the U.S., in search of better services.
The crisis revolves around two agencies that administer over seventy-five percent— nearly $55 million—of the AIDS funds distributed to Puerto Rico. While the City of San Juan is supposed to administer Ryan White Title I funding and some HOPWA funds, Puerto Rico’s Department of Health is supposed to deliver Ryan White Title II funding, as well as ADAP, HOPWA and other related programs. Yet these agencies have shocking records of bungling, inefficiency and criminal corruption, harking back to a series of FBI arrests and trials a decade ago, with charges including outright embezzlement of funds. Yet problems continue to fester, and laws and regulations continue to be openly violated. Example: The mayor of San Juan’s action in axing the city’s required Community-Based Planning Council. In December 2006, the FBI launched a second round of raids on San Juan city offices that administer AIDS funds.
In May, Colón had had enough. He announced, “I will not take any medicines for my AIDS condition until the ADAP waiting list is totally eliminated…. I also believe that Law #349, the HIV/AIDS Patients Bill of Rights, is being violated. This has to stop.”
As I wrote this column, I asked Colón for a progress report on his protest. He said: “I just found out about ninety-six more cases on the ADAP waiting list today. Emotionally I am crushed. There is so much injustice! The government says that there is NO list, but we know of 477 cases.” He added that he’d had to stop his protest after twelve days, at the request of his doctor, his family, and his partner Anselmo. “I’m just too frail to keep it up,” he said. “Nevertheless those twelve days have had a very strong impact.”
One Puerto Rican who moved to Florida to escape the crisis is asking, “Why is it that, unlike the public health challenges surrounding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Walter Reed Veterans Hospital, the deepening HIV/AIDS crisis in Puerto Rico has not caught the attention of the national public? Am I less valuable a citizen in Puerto Rico than in Florida?”
In my opinion, this refugee’s question can be answered by asking other questions: Why have post-Katrina conditions along the Gulf Coast not been adequately addressed by government? Why have our wounded and disabled veterans been neglected by the very administration who demands that all Americans “support the troops in Iraq?” Why is the U.S. still mired in the Iraq war when most Americans want us to withdraw? Most important, why are more and more Americans like Cindy Sheehan and José Colón pointing fingers at both the Democrats and Republicans, in a deepening bipartisan crisis that reveals a collapse of government administration everywhere?