Friday, August 31, 2007
The teen, identified by Fox News with her birth name, Luis Valderrama, thought she had been sent home because her skirt was too short. But the school later apologized and invited her back to register for the school term on Wednesday.
Regarding the length of the skirt, Valderrama told Fox News "I'll compromise with them. I'll wear capris."
The school seems attended predominately by Latinos. A sign visible as a background to the online Fox News video report reads "La escuela comienza 8:45 am 8/7/07 Bienvenido al Mejor Ano df tu vida" - quirky grammar kept intact - which means "School starts 8:45am 8/7/07 Welcome to the best anus of your life" - I guess there was no plastic ñ letters to change "ano" to "año").
According to EFE, forty of the participants have attended similar retreats in the past and are back to strengthen their commitment to God.
For Juan Martinez, the priest who is organizing the event, homosexuality is "an accident of life" and homosexuals do not exist but, instead, are "men and women in a situation where they are attracted to the same sex."
He does admit that sexual attraction is difficult to change and that participation in the event may not result in changing someone's sexual orientation: "[The attraction] can remain for a long time," he says, "but sexual activity can be perfectly overcome."
"Oscar" who would only use a pseudonym and leads the Courage chapter in Mexico City, tells La Jornada that this is the 2nd year that the organization has been putting together these kind of retreats and that there has been eight of them so far in other cities such as Aguascalientes, Monterrey, Cuernavaca, Mexico City and Guadalajara - where as many as 200 people participated in the event.
Interviewed by AM in the streets of Leon, site of the retreat, a young gay man identified as Martin R. says he paid 700 pesos (about 63 US dollars) to register for the retreat but he seemed to have misinterpreted the call: "To be gay is no sin," he says, "Society itself has condemned us and the church itself used to do it. I think it's good to have these type of events where they can provide answers to the many concerns we have."
Others were not so sure this was a signal that the church had become accepting of gays. "I hope this event helps those who are suffering," said Fidel Negrete, to the AM reporter, "but I suspect this is an attempt to control the population through faith. It doesn't seem to me that there is a great willingness to help, since the retreat costs 700 pesos."
In a different AM article, Heber Sosa Beltran, who leads an organization that combats sexual violence in Leon, was more direct in his assessment: "The idea behind these types of retreats is to change a person's sexual orientation through the will of force. They call upon religion and therapeutic sciences, even if many of them are not valid as therapies."
"We do not suffer because we are homosexuals," ads Sosa Beltran, "we suffer due to rejection from our loved ones, friends, family members. Even though nowadays there is more family acceptance."
He stated that the practice of one's sexuality was a human right and that it was wrong for anyone to connect homosexuality to a host of social problems.
The original Courage, of course, was founded in the United States in 1980 and, at least according to Wikipedia, they had a hand in setting up the Mexican-based chapter. Of course, while they do not outright say that a person can change their sexual orientation, they believe celibacy is the way to spiritual well-being even though their claims and methods have no scientific basis.
For a fact-sheet on the reality of Courage's claims, please download this .pdf file (developed by The Catholic Action Network for Social Justice and made available through the Dignity USA website).
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
It all began a few weeks ago when Jorge Valdivia, the Vice President of the Association for Latino Men in Chicago/ALMA, sent a message to me with a subject that read "Frida Fascination."
I was shocked! I mean, everybody certainly knows ABBA but nobody that I know truly adores ABBA's Anni-Frid Lyngstad, better known as Frida, for her solo work. And I guess I am specifically talking about her 1982 album "Something's Going On" which was produced by the then-great Phil Collins immediately following his first successful bid as a solo artist with 1981's "Face Value" (also a great album). Both albums document the disintegration of each artist's marriages and they also share one song, the beautiful "If Leaving Me is Easy." Collins also provided back-up vocals and drums for several tracks on the Frida album. I recommend it highly.
Anyway, so I'm about to write to Jorge to tell him that I can't believe that he also loves Frida and the moment I open the message I just know my Latino cred has just been shot to hell - maybe forever. Jorge, of course, was sending a note about a successful showing of Mexican artist Frida Khalo paintings or some sort of retrospective, NOT the other Frida. OMG!
The first to react was, well, Jorge himself who said he was ashamed and that I should really consider enrolling in a "Latin American icons 101" class.
Because I needed understanding and support I reached out to others and, well, I got no such thing. Pedro Julio Serrano from New York, Monica Taher from Los Angeles and Lorenzo Herrera y Solano from Austin engaged in cross-country cyberterrorism and plastered images of Frida Khalo on my MySpace page (hm, my MySpace page disappeared this weekend by the way, what's up with that?). So much for friendship.
So, like, am I still Latino?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
A Russian cab driver took me from the SD airport to an Ocean Beach address, all the while complaining about his fuckin' wife who fuckin' forced to fuckin' settle in fuckin' San Diego when he could have fuckin' made so much fuckin' money driving cabs in fuckin' New York instead. Perhaps I shouldn't have told him I'd just arrived from the Big Apple? But as he drove over the OB hills I could not fail to feel awed as the full panorama of the beaches below, the shoreline, the military ships and boats opened up before my eyes under a glorious evening sun.
I'd decided to make the trip to join others in celebrating reporter Rex Wockner's recent 50th birthday. Thing is, I never said I was coming (and managed to keep the surprise under wraps by coordinating the visit with Rex's hubby, Keith, who I had the great pleasure to finally meet).
Rex, to say the least, was a bit shocked I'd made it to the fab event. I am sorry, though, that for some reason I never got to eat cake, which, by all accounts was delicious.
Here I am with some of the groovy Californian people'z who also partook.
Now, I hadn't been in San Diego in a couple of years and I was struck by how much I remembered of the city's layout. So, while I was only able to see a limited number of things this weekend, it felt good to feel so familiar with it. It's just such an amazingly beautiful place.
At one point on Sunday Keith, Rex and I made it to the OB seaside piers to watch the sunset (Rex laughed at the fact I called a "shore") and there was some sort of celestial alignment, the sun in front of us over the ocean and a harvest moon rising directly behind us. You could have traced an invisible space line from sun to moon grazing the ocean's horizon and shooting straight through you if you were in one of those chakra-static California states of mind. I mean I wasn't Californian and that's how it felt! Keith took some photos so I'll post a couple if he sends them.
For some reason I also took almost no pictures this weekend (a rare thing for those who know me) which I now regret so I've chosen to use an old picture of Rex above as a lead image. Lucky thing, then, that groovy man Fergal did have a camera and caught some people'z in the act, at least at the birthday party (he has posted some of the photos over on his blog).
As a matter of fact the birthday party quickly became at the most blogged birthday event in recent San Diego history. You can check Rex's thoughts on the party his blog as well as check Keith's take on it.
Highlights of my visit also included seeing miracle dog Benji again, relating to psycho dog Piper and bonding with pug dog Nero who joined me in bed for a snore symphony the couple of nights I spent there. And, of course, to see the Bob and the Jess again (apologies to the Jess who I inadvertedly kept waiting for me at the airport while I took the cab to the party).
For now it's back to the daily grind in the Big fuckin' Apple (as the cab driver would have said).
BTW: If on a long trip, please do not pick up Scott Smith's 509 page paperback "The Ruins" to read during the trip. It's unbearably taut, increasingly horrific, and unrelentingly stressful and you won't be able to put it down 'til you finish - which might keep you from things you might want to do while traveling.
UPDATE: Yay, Keith just sent this great pic of the birthday boy and I on the OB piers this Sunday, just before the harvest moon made its appearance. Thanks K! Love it!
Update #2: More pics courtesy of Rex and Keith!
Us getting there (above)...
The Rexman and the Cajun hubby, taken by yours truly...
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Clear Channel, which owns Power 105 (WWPR/105.1 FM), quietly withdrew its support from the festival on Wednesday after receiving a call from The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glaad). Clear Channel did not issue a statement, but on Thursday a spokeswoman noted that Power 105 does not play Bounty Killer or Buju Banton. She declined to say, however, whether that's because of their lyrics or because reggae artists are not regularly featured on the hip-hop station.
- Today's Gay City News has an extensive article on the organizers of Saturday's protest, some criticism that the protest amounts to censorship and of a response to those charges from the UK's Peter Tatchell. Full article here.
- Poet and actor Emanuel Xavier has some things to say here.
- Jamaican lesbian poet and performer Staceyann Chin talks about the protest with blogger and political commentator Keith Boykin here.
- The NYC Parks Department has also spoken to the AP here.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I bring this up because this Saturday a number of organizations and anti-homophobia advocates are staging a protest at Randall's Island where some of the most homophobic Jamaican dancehall reggae singers will be performing at Reggae Carifest.
They include Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Elephant Man. Full details below as well as additional information about another two events being targeted on later dates.
Interestingly, some of us have been here before. In September of 2004 I was amongst the picketers outside a Hot97-sponsored concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom featuring Beenie Man, Vybz Kartel, T.O.K. and Elephant Man. And, most recently, in July of 2006 this blogger joined other bloggers in denouncing the HIV/AIDS charity organization LifeBEAT for inviting Beenie Man and T.O.K. to perform at an AIDS fundraiser.
In the UK, activist Peter Tatchell and Outrage! have led a recent campaign called "The Reggae Compassionate Act" asking dancehall reggae performers to sign a statement renouncing to past homophobic statements and agreeing not to include homophobic lyrics in their future music.
Some leading performers, including the above mentioned Beenie Man, Sizzla, Capleton and Buju Banton have signed on although both Buju Banton and Beenie Man have subsequently denied signing the statements to Jamaican press.
As for LifeBEAT you would think that they would know better considering that in 2006 they decided to scratch the concert due to the rising criticism of hiring two virulently anti-gay performers for a concert. And, sure! None of the performers appearing at Saturday's concert showed up at the Reggae Carifest kick-off event last week but it certainly was promoting the concert and it seems that LifeBEAT was there as well.
- Mudrer Inna Dancehall
- Peter Tatchell / Outrage! (UK)
- Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays/J-FLAG (Jamaica)
- Human Rights Watch: Jamaica
SAY NO TO HATE MUSIC
We demand an end to music and speech that advocates hate or violence against any group, including gays and lesbians, women, or people of color.
We take a stand against hate speech in any form of music: hip hop, rock, metal or Jamaican reggae/dancehall.
We call on all reggae artists to sign the Reggae Compassionate Act, a simple statement that there is "no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia."
At least 4 of the over 30 artists scheduled to perform in NYC in August (Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Elephant Man) have refused to sign the RCA and some have stated they will never do so. We commend the two performers, Sizzla and Capleton, who have signed the RCA.
We call on the concert promoters - Clear Channel (LiveNation), Team Legendary, HOT 97, Team Irie Jamboree - to stop giving these performers a platform to spread their message of hate, and to drop them from the concert lineups.
Anti-Violence Project, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Gay Men of African Descent, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation, People of Color in Crisis, Queer Justice League
Protest/Speakout: Reggae CariFest, Randall's Island, Sat. Aug. 25th, 5 pm (meet at GMAD, 103 E. 125, #503, at 3:30 pm)
On Da Reggae Tip, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th St., NYC, Fri., Aug. 31st, 7 pm
Irie Jamboree, Roy Wilkins Park, Queens, Sun. Sep. 2, 5 pm
Planning meetings: Thursdays at 8 pm, Think Coffeehouse, 248 Mercer St. (between 3rd and 4th Sts.), NYC
For more info: www.gmad.org
With a run of 200, the hot-sheets sell like pancakes at $20 bucks a pop (plus $2 for shipping AND handling) so get sum. Issue 3 is out in September.
Starfucker also has a write-up over on his blog.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"On the eve of launching her new record 'You will pay,' singer Melina León acknowledged today the loneliness in which the average Puerto Rican woman lies submerged due to the crisis in masculinity [confronting] society. Part of the crisis is the tendency, each day more visible, towards mistreatment [and], in addition, to a masculine profile that is drifting towards homosexuality, alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment and gambling addiction."
Pedro Julio Serrano (below), who we recently quoted on comments made by presidential hopeful Bill Richardson, noticed that the statements were not direct quotes from the singer and decided to call the reporter in the article's byline, Jaime Torres, to ask what Melina had said specifically on the issue of homosexuality.
Torres directed Pedro Julio back to the web portal article ("Melina stands up for women"), which he said had been re-edited to include a direct quote from Melina:
"There are times when you see beautiful men and they have other sexual preferences and people say: Oh! All of them are leaving us, either they're married or they're in prison."
Gone was any direct reference to alcoholism, drug addiction or gambling as a cause of women's loneliness and an attribution to what other people may say about gays but not necessarily a direct blame.
Today's print version of El Nuevo Dia under the title of "Freed partnerships," also by Jaime Torres, is a whole different affair. It abandons the lonely women angle and focuses on Melina's views on gays and lesbians and her support of civil unions for same-sex couples.
"Many of those people live like I do with my husband. They buy houses and if they leave each other they can't claim them. The church is against [it] but I respect [them] because I have relatives and friend who are gay. I would throw a big stone at those who oppose it because there are some heterosexuals that are sick [people], hypocrites, who kill and rape."
But wait! There's more! The article also makes it clear that, while Melina might be in favor of civil unions for same sex partners she believes that marriage should specifically be only between a man and a woman. And yet...
Pedro Julio is now wondering if Melina actually came out in full support of same-sex marriage rights. He points out that there is an audio link to an interview excerpt on the issue of partnerships. Here's the complete translated quote from the audio file:
Jaime Torres: "Are you in favor of gay marriage, since you already mentioned that - also - this is part of the masculine crisis that the country is undergoing, no? The increase in this group of human beings and our brothers... Are you in favor..?
Melina León: "I haven't even gotten involved in that: I believe that persons when they want to be together have to be together no matter who says what, eh, if a person like us heterosexuals that we want to marry the person that we love, because we want to have that blessing from God, we want to get married, I don't understand... I mean, I am not against two persons who want to stay together and want to unite their relationship before God, and many of those couples have lives similar to that of myself and my husband and buy houses and, obviously, if they're not married how can they demand each other if they leave each other. See? Because they're a marriage, an union. Eh, I think what happens is that there is the church against it, eh, they're... I don't like to get involved the same as I don't like to be involved in political issues, but - yes - I have respect. I have family who are gay, I have best friends who are, and I obviously back it and back it 100%."
Jaime Torres: "So you would not pick up a big stone to throw it [Melina: NEVER!] at homosexuals [Melina: NEVER!] and lesbians that decide to get married, for example."
Melina León: "No, I would throw a big stone to anyone who tried to do it because that is a lack of respect. I think that you have to respect everyone equally and that there are many heterosexual persons who are sick people and hypocrites who are bad and who kill and rape but..."
As Pedro Julio notes, at not time when discussing same sex partnerships does she mention a stand against marriage rights. Actually, she believes that gays should be able to celebrate their unions before God and I'm pretty sure that is not the definition of a civil union. In fact, Torres is the one who seems to deduce in his opening question that Melina blames gays for the loneliness of women, that he sees gays as a growing threat and the first to imply that stones should be thrown at gays in his leading questions.
Over on his blog, Pedro Julio salutes Melina's statements in favor of same-sex marriage and states: "As readers it is our responsibility to oversee that the news is reported as and how they happened, without allowing a reporter to interject his thoughts into his writing."
I say: Great job PJ!
UPDATE: Turns out Jaime Torres is no stranger to blaming the ills of society on homosexuality, among other things. Just by looking for additional comments by Mr. Torres in El Nuevo Dia I found out that Torres is the co-author of a blog also published at the El Nuevo Dia portal called "Good News."
And, pray tell what is the "Good News" blog about? Well, it's mostly about how Puerto Rico's society is going down the drain unless people take God back in their hearts and repent.
Take the August 3rd post called "Devils:" It's not necessarily clear whether it was authored by Mr. Torres or the other co-blogger but it certainly carries his name and consent. Still, there are some common themes to the ones raised in the interview with Melina.
It starts by stating that human life is an eternal struggle between good and evil. It lists a litany of ways in which evil can take over which includes unfaithful husbands, a father leaving his son an orphan by having a heart attack after trying drugs, a man who loses his dignity when he becomes a gambling addict, a woman that crashed her car because she was speeding after getting drunk and high on drugs. Then he blames it on free will and how humans tend towards excess if given free will thanks to Satan. You probably get the rest.
"Satan and his legion of devils go around to the bars where there is lots of liquor, sex, drugs, etcetera [...] When [those who fall in his claws] discover his torture, how tormented they are, a lot of times it's already too late. They are the demons of adultery, fornication, lesbianism, homosexuality, drug addiction, alcoholism, the worship of money, gluttony, lying, jealousy and many others."
Hm, sounds suspiciously familiar to some of the things that Malina supposedly told Mr. Torres in the first drafts of his interview and looks particularly egregious now that we know she said no such things. I guess 'lying,' Mr. Torres, is one of the lesser evils?
Monday, August 20, 2007
Every Thursday, the portal will debut a new one-page multi-panel "chapter" of "Las Locas Adam" ("The Adam Fags") and make it available through a micro-site specifically dedicated to the comic (accessible here) or as a downlodable .pdf file also through the micro-site.
Las Locas even have their own blog though you must be warned that once you click you might hear some bad trance and techno on the blog as well. I suggest ear plugs.
The first two chapters introduce several characters including Yeni - a transgender woman from Buenos Aires who just lost her boyfriend and has to dress up as an empanada to make a living, Juan - a friend from Rosario who suddenly shows up and says that Yeni should rent out the rooms of her house to other gays, and Carlos - a hot bisexual Cuban stripper who becomes the first person to rent a room.
The comic has similarities with Glen Hanson and Allan Neuwrith's Chelsea Boys comic strip and, so far, it doesn't really feel that different from any strip set in a gayborhood be it in the US or Europe. The frequent mention of lubricant gel also seems like product placement.
Still it will be interesting to see where it goes.
Additional information (in Spanish):
- Las Locas Adam: The first gay comic on the internet (AG Magazine, Aug. 12, 2007)
- A bisexual arrives at the rental home of "Las Locas Adam" (AG Magazine, Aug. 16, 2007)
Sunday, August 19, 2007
As a preview, snippets of four of the album's tracks have been uploaded on Alison's MySpace page. First single "One More Time" seems to be a show-stopper and a showcase for the singer's glorious voice, themes about longing, relationships and desire resurface; "Fire" is plaintive and heartfelt, an indication that the album is a stripped affair without some of the electronic flourishes of the past, just a voice and a guitar; "World Without End" almost sounds like a chamber piece; while "It's Not the Thing, Henry" seems to belong in one of her past albums, namely "Hometime," with it's multiple instrumentation and synth stabs.
All in all great news from the UK.
A few things made it into the interview including a warning to those who might think that it is easy to be granted political asylum in this country particularly if the person has little if any documentation of persecution or if they lie about past experiences (the interview has since been picked by the Spanish-language news agency EFE which led to a reporter tracking me down in Bogota for an article that appears in this week's Cambio).
This comes to mind after reading a post today on Arthur Leonard's blog on a gay man from Peru who lived in Bolivia as an adult and then moved to the United States where he finally requested political asylum claiming he feared to be sent back.
The case reads like a primer on what not to do when applying for asylum:
1. There is a one-year window from his/her arrival in which a person can solicit political asylum in the United States (unless the person can prove special circumstances that might have kept him from applying during that first year). The man entered the United States in 2001 but waited until 2003 to submit the asylum application.
2. The man did not provide evidence for any of the alleged discrimination either while living in Peru or Bolivia and provided conflicting testimony about one of the incidents. Sometimes cases are won without specific evidence but any evidence that is submitted obviously strengthens a case and if the case is weak from the beginning any contradictions in the testimony can be damaging.
3. Even if true, the courts noted, the claims of discrimination presented did not rise to a level where they proved that the man would be tortured or persecuted if sent back home.
No surprise, then, that an Immigration Judge first threw out the asylum claim based on the man's failure to apply within a year of entering the country and that, on appeal and seeking "withholding of removal," the Board of Immigration Appeals and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals both rejected his appeal and, thus, his right to stay in the United States.
I just wish more people who think that applying for political asylum is easy would read the outcome of cases like these.
To read more details about this specific case:
- Gay South American denied US Refuge (Leonard Link)
Not that it was a first for a trans woman to have one of the leading roles in a television soap opera. Turns out that "Los Reyes" was the Colombian version of a soap opera from Argentina called "Los Roldan" in which Florencia de La V, a well-known cabaret performer, was the first to fill Laisa's shoes.
Taking a successful television soap from one country and re-making it to fit local customs and parlance is nothing new (the most obvious example in the United States is ABC's adaptation of "Ugly Betty" which was originally a Colombian television show).
So it's no surprise that Chile is set to launch their own version of "Los Roldan," renamed "Fortunato," which promises to follow the original story-arc - with one key difference.
Clarin reports that while the character of Laisa will survive under a different name (Judy), the part will no longer be that of a transgender woman or even be played by a woman.
Instead, actor Luciano Cruz Coke will interpret a straight man who dresses up as a woman in order to find work as a television host (think Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie"). Hilarity ensues.
GayMagazine editor Roberto Gaete calls it censorship.
I tried to get into the webpage of the leading LGBT rights organization in Chile - Movement for Integration and Liberation of Homosexuals (MOVILH) - for their comments but had no luck getting access.
In their article Clarin does point out that, even if Chile might have a more conservative society, Canal 13, the same channel that is running the series, has addressed issues related to homosexuality in the past in successful soaps such as "Machos."
Thanks to the great Lake y su bizzarre streaming - blogging from Buenos Aires - for bringing it to our attention.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Today and tomorrow in Miami the Unity Coalition is joining forces with other local organizations to collect donations for victims of the earthquake. The organizations are asking for "canned and non-perishable food, blankets, bottled water and financial support for the victims."
Donations are being collected at the Immigrant Orientation Center's office at 45 NW 27th Avenue In Miami from 9am to 6pm. For more information you can call the Unity Coalition at 786-356-1665.
In the meantime the oldest LGBT-rights organization in Peru, the 25 year old Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHoL), has also launched a "solidarity campaign" calling on the LGBT community of Peru to join forces in an effort to help victims.
Much like the organizations on Miami, MHoL is also requesting "non-perishible food items, clothing, basic first aid medicine and bottled water" as Diario de Lima Gay reports but they say that they will focus their assistance on affected LGBT communities. Their office in Lima is located at Mariscal Miller 828 of the Jesus Maria neighborhood and they will be open from 9am to 7pm during the few following weeks.
If you would like to make a donation through MHoL, contact Jorge Alberto Chávez Reyes at email@example.com for more information.
The OpEd ran in La Opinion, in Spanish, on Wednesday. Graciously, PJ has provided us his own handy translation and since we want to hear other gay Latino views on the issue, we are more than happy to take the liberty of reposting it here for your perusal:
Los Angeles, California
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Actions speak louder than words
By Pedro Julio Serrano
When I heard Gov. Bill Richardson utter the word maricón, I almost couldn’t believe it.
As a Latino gay man, I have seen time and time again how this and other hurtful words are used to degrade our identities, our gay identity as well as our Latino identity. As a Latino man, Gov. Richardson should have known better. Now as a presidential candidate, he has to do something about it.
While Richardson has had a great record of supporting rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the use of the word maricón has profound connotations in our Latino culture. It is used to demean gay people and brings a lot of hurt, not only to gays who are subject to homophobia, but to the people that use the word without remorse. Because harsh words have been used against our Latino identity, we should know better and not use language that is inflammatory, hurtful and hateful. When a person of his stature uses this language, it sends a wrong signal of approval to using these demeaning words.
Gov. Richardson’s record shows that he is not a homophobic man; on the contrary, he has supported LGBT rights during his public career and led efforts in New Mexico to amend its laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples; he supports the repeal of the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ military policy; he supports adoption by lesbian and gay couples; he opposes the discriminatory federal amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. He has spoken for LGBT rights in front of non-gay audiences, something presidential candidates almost never do.
But the fact is that he took the homophobic bait put forth by Don Imus on his radio show and joined him in repeating it. We all make mistakes, and given Gov. Richardson’s record, I’m sure we all would have accepted a sincere apology. Unfortunately, instead of simply saying he was sorry, he offered the lame excuse, “In the Spanish I grew up speaking, the term (maricón) means simply ‘gay,’ not positive or negative…” Come on! Maricón is derogatory no matter what kind of Spanish someone grows up with, and the fact that he’s been a friend to our community makes this kind of dodge even more problematic.
To make things worse, during a forum focused on gay issues in Los Angeles recently, Richardson stumbled while being questioned if homosexuality was a choice. He said “yes, it is a choice.” And when the panelist gave him a chance to redeem himself, he just couldn’t get it straight. Speaking to the media, he continued to back pedal and equivocate about his response for days. It is important to have a great record of supporting our issues; but Richardson must speak out clearly, in front of all audiences, in favor of our humanity.
He has a golden opportunity in his hands, not only to debunk the myth that Latinos are more homophobic than anyone else, but to show that his support of LGBT rights in the past can transported to the platform of a presidential campaign. For instance, he could now start a conversation about homophobia and how hate hurts us all. Especially, when Congress is considering hate crimes legislation and Pres. Bush has threatened to veto it. Richardson could use this moment to show his remorse on his own words and show real leadership on this critical issue at the same time.
We have seen how the White House has been used by two kinds of presidents, one like Bush who might not use inflammatory words like maricón, but have forced gay people onto a second-class citizenship. And one like Clinton who said we were part of his dream but failed to deliver on the promise of equality.
In a time when we have lacked politicians with the moral leadership to stand up against intolerance, discrimination and division in this country, we need leaders who will not stand against hatred and will lift us to a new place — a place where we all count. And we need presidential candidates who will speak to all minorities — those of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and yes, sexual orientation and gender identity — and tell us that we are part of their mission, treat us with dignity and respect, but most importantly, will act on their promises.
Gov. Richardson has the opportunity to show he really cares, give a loud and clear apology and to use the bully pulpit of the campaign trail to speak openly and clearly in support of equality for LGBT people. He must let us know that in the future, like in his past, he will deliver on the promises of equality for LGBT people.
It’s the only way to do it because in our Latino culture and in this country, actions speak louder than words.
Pedro Julio Serrano is Communications Coordinator for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Today, in a report posted on their AIDS Issues Update site, they describe a series of developments that have taken place since we last wrote about the crisis including the appointment of Jorge Delgado Rivas as a new assistant to Puerto Rico's Secretary of Health.
Upon his appointment by Puerto Rican Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila "Rivas became the first Puerto Rican government official expressly charged with overseeing the territory's response to its appalling AIDS epidemic," says Housing Works, which would make Rivas a mini-AIDS czar, I guess.
Activists have generally applauded some of the recent steps taken to address the crisis, including the hiring of Rivas, but the honeymoon might be over.
After a month on the job, Housing Works says that Rivas has joined the Puerto Rican government in denying that there is a waiting list for newly infected HIV patients seeking medications - as has been charged by community advocates such as Jose F. Colon.
The truth, it appears, might be murkier: For the full article please go to "Wating Game."
In the uncredited article, Housing Works also raises questions about Riva's qualifications for the post and challenge an Associated Press report that Rivas is a physician. Apparently Rivas only holds a PhD in administration from a non-accredited school once based in New Hampshire but now based in St. Kitts and, Housing Works ads, "his only AIDS-related experience has been volunteering at a handful of AIDS service groups" and that Rivas is HIV positive.
Colon for one, is willing to give Rivas a chance and that is saying something, coming from one of the lead critics of HIV services in the island as an advocate living with AIDS.
Colon told Housing Works: "We can't expect Delgado to be an angel. He still has to deal with the bureaucracy here, but he listens. And I wholeheartedly give applause to a person living with AIDS who is trying to understand what the whole process is."
- Patricia Neal Warren on Puerto Rican AIDS crisis (June 11, 2007)
- United giving a face to AIDS - in Puerto Rico (June 8, 2007)
- Hero: Jose F. Colon (June 5, 2007)
- In Puerto Rico, AIDS care in crisis (June 5, 2007)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Anyway, back to May, in a televised interview described here, Ramirez said that he knew he was gay from a young age and that part of his comfortability with being gay stemmed from his parents' acceptance. He also said that he had never been with a woman and would never be with one "because he did not consider himself to be a hypocritical person like many who are married with kids but have a man as a lover."
He also said that he had a partner but said that it wasn't as if they went out holding hands in public: "Even though I don't care what people think, I believe it would be too much to go out holding my partner's arm, I also believe [one has to be] respectful."
He admitted that he had his heart broken a few times by partners who had left him for other women but said that he had never experienced rejection when asking men out because he was beautiful, famous and rich, which made him a catch for just about anyone.
Jump ahead four months and Ramirez is singing a different tune.
Earlier this week Dominican gossip web portal Mas VIP ran an exclusive interview under the following eye-grabbing headline: "Jari Ramirez says he is sorry, gets tired of men and accepts God"
In the interview Ramirez now says that he recently came to a very difficult moment in his life in which he had to chose between God and witchcraft (hm, witchcraft?!). He admits that he was dating a married man which put him in a moral bind:
"I knew that to continue going out with him would have meant to commit a double sin, because I understood it was living a double life, he was a married man, such a disrespectful thing before God, and now I want to do things well."
Ramirez, who says he now attends a Methodist church in Ensanche Quisqueya three times a week, said that he would be baptized as a Christian this week in a ceremony and that he will abandon the homosexual life he has led.
He also tells Mas VIP that he threw away his "mundane" music collection and replaced it with Christian music CDs and that he now spends his free time either at church or at his apartment watering his plants, cooking healthy food and hosting "respectable" people.
Still, when asked to discuss the change in his sexual orientation, the popular host of "Noti-Espectaculos" on ColorVision 9 did not expand on the topic and said, instead, "God does not divide people into categories, specially when it comes to love."
- Dominican Republic: Pajaro! (June 29, 2007)
- Dominican Republic: Gay Pride out in the open (June 29, 2007)
- Eliot Loves: A Dominican-American boy comes of age in New York (April 8, 2006)
The case drew international attention when the court not only denied Orozco refugee status but questioned whether he was truly gay. On Thursday Orozco lost his appeal and was ordered to leave the country when the appeal court ruled that he faced no risks if he went back to Nicaragua.
In a written statement sent to press Orozco said: "I feel very concerned about my safety in Canada because now I do not have legal status in this country. If they send me back to Nicaragua, I can face persecution by the government and the Catholic community who judge gay life as sodomy."On Monday Orozco told CBC news that he had gone into hiding as a result of the decision: "Most of the time, I'm hiding because I'm not supposed to be anywhere. I feel like a fugitive. It's really bad."
Orozco and his legal advisers hope that Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley will see fit to intervene and grant him a stay on humanitarian grounds, the only way that Orozco will be able to remain legally in Canadian soil.
For updates, check Mr. Orozco's refugee campaign website here.