Friday, November 30, 2007

El Vacilon de la Mañana and Mariconsuelo

As long as I'm in a blogging mood: Earlier this month I wrote about the experience of visiting the radio shock-jock team of La Mega's El Vacilón de la Mañana after years of criticizing the show for it's homophobia.

I said I had been pleasantly surprised by the reception and by the fact that
Frankie Jay and Juan Carlos were the first to admit that the show might have relied in the past on some questionable humor and by their expressed willingness to work on improving the way the show used jokes at the expense of gays and lesbians.

Today I open Hoy on the way to work and one of the things I notice is an ad for a live show that the Vacilon team will be doing at the United Palace Theatre in Upper Manhattan on December 8.

Along with a few music acts including Calle 13, set to appear are also a few personalities from the radio show including Mariconsuelo (pictured above left).

Maricon is, of course, the Spanish word for faggot and the name is a pun on the name Mary Consuelo used with full knowledge of the double-entendre.

Over on their MySpace page while the image is still there in a similar flyer, the reference to MariConsuelo is gone which might mean that the ad went to print before we met with them and they changed their mind on using the character or that the version of the flyer is a different size and the reference was dropped because it didn't fit.

Then again they also have a picture of another personality, Bocachula, dressed in a brassier and panties.

They did say that changes will come slowly and to give them time but I wonder just how much time they will need.


Circumcision does not prevent HIV transmission among gay men of color, says new US study

You might remember my reaction a few months ago when I first heard of plans by the New York City Department of Health to promote circumcision among the city's gay and bisexual Latino and African-American men as a means of HIV prevention.

This, based on a studies in Africa showing that "circumcision was shown to lower a man’s risk of contracting the virus from heterosexual sex by about 60 percent" according to an article in
The New York Times which first broke news of the City's alleged plans.

“This is not something that has a lot of buzz,” said the City's
Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden in discussing the study then but, as the Times noted, "he added that even 1,000 circumcisions in the right subgroups might slow the spread of AIDS."

At the time, back in April, I balked at the way the Department of Health seemed ready to promote public HIV prevention policies aimed at gay men of color in New York based on studies of heterosexual males in Africa.

As you might also remember Dr. Frieden later released a letter staring that the New York Times had misrepresented his words and that the Department of Health had no such plans in the pipeline and then appeared at a public forum where he said it was just a "discussion" on whether it made sense to explore such a policy.

Now comes word of a study published in the December 15 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes that seems to indicate that the Department of Health was wrong in trying to extrapolate results from the African study to argue that it might make sense to circumcise gay men of color in New York.

The full text of the study is only available to subscribers but the abstract posted online ("
Circumcision Status and HIV Infection Among Black and Latino Men Who Have Sex With Men in 3 US Cities") says that the study engaged 1,154 black men who have sex with men and 1,091 Latino men who have sex with men in New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles found that:
Circumcision status was not associated with prevalent HIV infection among Latino MSM, black MSM, black bisexual men, or black or Latino men who reported being HIV-negative based on their last HIV test. Further, circumcision was not associated with a reduced likelihood of HIV infection among men who had engaged in unprotected insertive and not unprotected receptive anal sex
In short, "there was no evidence that being circumcised was protective against HIV infection among black MSM or Latino MSM."

Turns out that Brazil got it right from the start.

In any case, some good news on the eve of World AIDS Day for uncut gay and bisexual men of color in New York: You may keep your hoodies! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Peru: Congress shelves youth rights treaty on fears it might have led to same-sex marriages

What was a procedural congressional debate yesterday on whether the Peruvian government would adhere to the Iberian-American Convention on the Rights of Youth - an international treaty that establishes a core set of legal standards to protect young people - became a heated debate on whether the treaty would open the door for same-sex marriage in Peru that exposed unexpected legislative support for same-sex partnerships.

As a result, a vote on the treaty was shelved and the resolution was sent back to the Peruvian Commission of International Relations for further study.

At issue, according to La Razon, were articles 5 and 14 which refer to language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and the right to one's sexual identity and article 20.1 which speaks of the right to build a family - which some legislators argued clashed with the Peruvian constitution.

La Razon says another article that would require a ban on the death penalty for young men between 18 and 24 years of age also clashed with the country's constitution.

Though it doesn't give an exact number, the paper says that many legislators showed support for ratification of the treaty as it was written including "the right to choose who to marry."

In support of the treaty, Congressman Yonhy Lescano told La Razon that a person's right to individual liberty could not be infringed but that he didn't think that ratifying the treaty would necessarily lead to same-sex marriage as Peruvian law prohibits it.

Rosario Sasieta said that Congress should remember the contributions made by the homosexual community and indicated that the country needed to be more inclusive than ever by adopting the treaty.

Javier Valle-Riestra indicated that if people "are afraid that a young person can have a predetermined sexual identity, it won't be eliminated by a norm. An orientation is irrepressible. It's a natural right."

But the treaty was shelved after a petition for removal was filed by Congressman Alejandro Aurelio Aguinaga Recuenco who also serves as the Director of the Commission of International Relations.

Stating that he did not oppose a young person's right to his or her sexual orientation, Aguinaga Recuenco nevertheless argued that the non-discrimination language as linked to sexual orientation would make denying same-sex marriage rights or adoptions rights to homosexuals discriminatory acts according to Expreso.

He was backed by Raul Castro who also serves as the President of the Commission of Justice who also said that the treaty would open the doors to same-sex marriage.

The treaty, signed in Spain in 2005 by representatives of 19 Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal has already been ratified and adopted by Spain, Ecuador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Only one of those countries allows same-sex partners to marry and the decision to recognize same-sex partnerships in that nation had nothing to do with this treaty nor has the treaty led to same-sex marriage in the other four countries.

Peru has a unicameral Congress consisting of 120 members. The Homosexual Movement of Lima (MOHL) says that the vote to shelve the treaty was backed by 57 members of the legislative body recommending that the language on sexual orientation that drew reservations be eliminated.

MOHL questioned media coverage of the debate noting that the treaty at issue does not mention same-sex marriage in any of its articles and expressed concern that the move to send back the treaty might end up stripping protections for LGBT youth and establishing heterosexuality as the only "normal sexuality" in the country further marginalizing gays and lesbian Peruvians.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Uruguay to legalize same-sex civil unions in December

A reader of the previous post about Panama got ahead of me when he left a message that reads "BTW, Uruguay's House passed a civil unions bill today."

I've been too busy to write about it but I thought it was big enough news for an English language news source to report on it before the day was over.

I was right:

And for those of you who read Spanish, you can get additional details here:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Panama: Anti-gay sodomy statute still in the books

[UPDATE to this post: The law was repealed on July 29, 2008 by Panamanian president Martino Torrijos Espino - Andres]

Back on November 14th, when I wrote about the disappearance of Nicaragua's notorious anti-gay sodomy statute from it's penal code, I called it a historic development and said it was "the last anti-gay sodomy statute in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries."

Not so fast.

Rex Wockner, who authors a syndicated international LGBT news column for several newspapers first noticed that I mentioned Belize among what I thought were the only two countries left in the American continent to penalize sodomy between consenting same-sex couples (the other one being Guyana) - a country that he had not listed as having a sodomy statute in one of his past columns (I had relied on WikiPedia, not always the most trustworthy of places).

Rex, who was planning to write about Nicaragua for the column that came out this week
did some additional research and told me not only that the Belize statute checked-out but that he also found out that an anti-gay sodomy statute was still alive in Panama (you can check Rex's full column at Windy City Times)

It gets a little confusing:
A country of origin research post on LGBT rights in Panama posted at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada website quotes the UK's Gay Times magazine as stating in 2002 that homosexuality is legal in the country (an interactive map at Amnesty International's website on "LGBT Status Around the World" also fails to raise flags about any Panamanian anti-gay statutes).

But the same Canadian country of origin report says that in the 2002 article Gay Times also reported "
that homosexuals still face discriminatory laws; according to a 1949 decree, gay public sex is punishable by a $500 fine or one year in prison, while no equivalent exists for heterosexuals" which is not quite a sodomy statute but indicates that there are penalties for certain same-sex sexual interaction.

Gay Times based their statements on information given to them by
New Men and Women Association of Panama (AHMNP), the country's leading LGBT-rights organization, which actually has the text of the 1949 law posted here (in Spanish). And, while most of the law concerns itself with issues related to prostitution and public sex, Article 12 actually reads as follows:
Clandestine prostitution, procurement (proxenetismo), sodomy and all vices of sexual degeneration not specified under this Decree will be sanctioned with penalties imposed by the Director of the Department of Public Health."
The penalty for sodomy under this law? From three months to a year in jail or a fine of 50 to 500 balboas (currently 1 balboa is equal to 1 dollar).

So apparently Panama is the last Spanish-speaking Latin American country with penalties for acts of sodomy.

In his column, Rex lists Panama along with Belize and Guyana as being the three nations in Central and South America that continue to have laws banning gay sex. He also names
several Caribbean islands, including Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago as still having anti-gay sodomy laws noting that "ten of the countries are former British colonies."

A side-note: I am not surprised by it because both the United States and Canadian governments do this but it's still shocking how much a refugee / immigration board relies on a tiny article from a gay British magazine looking at Panama from a tourism-interest angle to base their conclusions regarding country of origin status for LGBT immigrants.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada quote other sources but mostly rely on the Gay Times piece and there seems to have been no attempt to even contact AHMNP or other direct sources in Panama for the report.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of note: Quiroz vs. Dromm? PLUS: Doug's question for the Republican presidential candidates

Been a while since I wrote about local politics but a post today by The Politicker's Azi Paybarah certainly caught my attention:

Are two openly gay candidates about to duke it out
in my district in the next city council elections?

Danny Dromm who I met more than a decade ago when we both were on the founding board of the Queens Pride House - and is currently a Democratic District Leader - certainly has spent some time trying to build some support from the Queens Democratic establishment (including Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley) as well as some of the LGBT political leaders outside the borough (most recently Christopher Murray, Dan Tietz, Alan Fleishman and Gary Parker from Brooklyn's Lambda Independent Democrats tried to organize a fundraiser for Dromm though it was canceled due to a scheduling conflict).

It could also be said that Dromm has been nurtured by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (who I actually have loved in a platonic, politicky kind of way as far back as when she used to be Senator Tom Duane's Chief of Staff).

She certainly hasn't endorsed anyone at this early date but her name often pops up in invites supporting Dromm as Distric Leader (Danny and I actually were invited to have breakfast with
Mayor Michael Bloomberg - along with other political leaders - to discuss civil marriage rights for same-sex couples at the City Council Speaker's suggestion back in March of 2006).

With the current term limits law Helen Sears, my current representative to the City Council, will be vacating her seat and leaving it wide open in the next elections which explains Dromm's intention to run for the seat.

But Azi's post today raises the intriguing possibility that another openly gay candidate might enter the race for the same seat and it happens to be - gulp! - none other than Helen Sears' former Chief of Staff - and Queens man-about-town - Alfonso Quiroz (pictured), who also has deep-rooted connections to the city-wide politirati and might draw some interesting endorsements and supporters should he decide to go for it (mind you, this is all tawdry rumor-mongering at this point in time but I certainly know who I'd back between the two of them).

Officially the Quiroz man has expressed interest in a District Leader post, NOT a city council seat. But the Politicker's analysis is - at the very least - intriguing.

Not that if he decides to run he'll be doing so in a vacuum along with Dromm. Other rumored potential candidates for the seat include Stuart Sears (son! of! Helen!), Eddie Giraldo (the former president of the Queens Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), Vasantrai M. Ghandi (Chair of the Queens Community Board 3) and perhaps Luis Rosero who has unsuccessfully sought political office in Queens before (UPDATE: A reader says that Eddie Giraldo might not be interested in running while Bryan Pu-Folkes, who has previously ran for the same seat might be back this time around as well).

Doug Robinson's YouTube question for the Republican presidential candidates: In the meantime, my friend Doug Robinson has submitted a YouTube video for tomorrow's Republican CNN/YouTube debate. I'm not sure it has been chosen for airplay but it IS worth airing - which is why I have posted it below as well.

Puerto Rico: In lieu of civil unions, de Castro Font offers "shared residence" measure

In an OpEd piece that ran in the New York Times last year ("Praise the Lord and Pass the Budget," May 20, 2006) novelist Mayra Montero expressed concerns about the outsize influence of a few religious leaders on government and their role in mediating a resolution to a budget crisis that threatened to overwhelm the island.

In this crisis, they took advantage of the ineffectiveness of other forces in society and made off with the prize.

This is not to say that evangelicals, Catholics and other religious groups shouldn't help out when there's a crisis — though it is a shame that the governor and the Legislature needed an intercessor to come to an agreement.

But at what price? There is little doubt that one day these religious groups will send an invoice: when Puerto Rico has to decide on matters like gay rights and abortion, they will surely seek restrictions. And then we will find ourselves asking if divine intervention was really worth the cost.

Yes to "shared residence" rights, no to civil unions: The essay came to mind yesterday when Puerto Rican Senator Jorge de Castro Font announced that he was ready to back passage of a judicial "contract" proposed by the Catholic church that would recognize something called "recidencia compartida" (shared residence).

According to El Nuevo Dia, the measure would extend "hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights and medical insurance rights" not only to same-sex couples but to anyone living together under the same residence which seems pretty progressive but would fall short of recognizing same-sex couples as a family unit - or offer protections and rights equivalent to marriage as civil unions would do.

At the press conference, de Castro Font was joined by San Juan Archbishop Roberto González (pictured) who was the proposal's lead architect.

"It seems to me that these three fundamental rights and this proposal by the Catholic church will result, in a certain sense, in breaking the 'impasse' that has existed in the last few weeks between minority groups and the majority without in any way changing what we have said in the past, that we understand that Puerto Rico is a Christian town and a pro-family town," said de Castro Font (so much for separation between the church and the State).

Today's Primera Hora says that the concept of a "shared residence" was the same as the "shared union" proposal that the Archbishop proposed last year but that the name had been changed to avoid any confusion as to whether the proposal would recognize unions other than heterosexual marriage - it does not.

Today's El Vocero also says that de Castro Font would ad language to the measure specifically prohibiting polygamous couples from accessing "shared residence" rights.

Withering criticism: Most probably it was a response to the withering criticism that has followed the Senator for his efforts throughout the past year to 1) force legislators to withdraw support for language that would grant civil union rights to same-sex couples in a version of the civil code that is currently being finalized; 2) stonewall, antagonize and question the expertise of other legislators who stood in his way during the civil code revision process, which he presided over and recently calling for the dissolution of the body that oversees the process; and 3) successfully pull a last minute legislative maneuver that resulted in the Puerto Rican Senate approving an amendment to the Commonwealth's constitution that would ban the recognition of same-sex marriages (a similar measure seems destined to be taken up by the House of Representatives in the new legislative session that begins in early January and, if passed, would then be submitted for a public vote as a referendum).

An editorial published on November 14 in El Nuevo Dia ("Be careful with the Supreme Law") expressed alarm:
The problem is that there is an attempt here to assault the Constitution subjecting it to the whims of a few with inopportune proposals that should have never been considered for a matter as important as a constitutional amendment.

Actually one of them, the one about marriage, would ad an element of exclusion against a sector of our population as we denounced in this same forum. This is not only immoral, but also illegal. Undoubtedly, amendments of this nature put our democracy in precarious standing.
For his part, despite what he obviously sees as an olive branch to the gay community, de Castro Font is not backing off his anti-gay efforts. When asked about civil unions yesterday, the Senator replied:
I have already said that I will not support anything that may grant the rights and benefits or mechanisms or substitutions or legal semantics in the proposed Civil Code that could affect the exclusive rights of what is a family in Puerto Rico, marriage.
He added that he would not give way to the recognition of civil unions for gays or even for heterosexual couples and we are certain that he will have a prominent role in pushing his colleagues in the House of Representatives to take up the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment come January.

The response from LGBT activists: Ada Conde from the Human Rights Foundation called the proposal a "joke" and told El Vocero that it would be tough to implement such a plan in reality.

Pedro Julio Serrano said that the proposal amounted to "crumbs."

"To me it seems absurd," said Serrano, "even if they do not want to acknowledge it, the gross inequality has forced the legislators and religious leaders to admit that in Puerto Rico they have to grant rights to same-sex partners and that eventually, it should be equality."

In a statement on his blog, Serrano also takes de Castro Font to task for seeking to dissolve the legislative task force in an effort to shut down any consideration of civil union rights for same-sex partners and urges the House of Representatives not to take up a constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Previously on Blabbeando:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Updates: Sentences in Sandy murder, Cuban LGBT org defines purpose, political asylum news

Sentencing reached in murder of gay black man: In a case that we have followed in the past, three men have received sentences for their involvement in the death of Michael J. Sandy, a young man who was lured to an empty parking lot near a secluded Brooklyn beach and was killed when he tried to escape his attackers.

The New York Times says that the comlpex divergence in sentencing reflected "
a confounding set of circumstances" while Gay City News points out that the ringleader could get out of jail in "as little as six years." A fourth man was previously sentenced last year when he pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the prosecution.

Nascent Cuban LGBT rights organization defines its purpose:
In October we wrote of the birth of a gay rights organization in Cuba. Today, Bitacora Cubana says that the Cuban Movement for Homosexual Liberation met on Saturday to define its purpose and agreed to demand "legalization for sex-change surgeries and [the right] to change names; the court's recognition of same-sex couples; adoption rights and the recognition of matrimony and inheritance rights for LGBT individuals."

Political asylum:
In political asylum news Arthur S. Leonard tells us of a brand new case in which a gay man who was born in Portugal but lived most of his life in Venezuela was denied asylum in the United States in a decision released by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6th.

A key reason for the denial? The fact that the asylum seeker had entered the United States on various occasions and had returned to Venezuela without apparent fear of persecution - until he filed for asylum.

In the meantime Ven Messam (pictured above in a Wockner News Photo), a Jamaican gay man, was recently granted asylum thanks to the work of Columbia University's Law School students whose department provides pro-bono assistance as a way to provide hands-on experience for students. Lucky are those asylum applicants that receive such assistance.

A Jamaican lesbian was not as fortunate when she sought political asylum in the United Kingdom. The court's response? "Try not to act gay."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Musica: A Matter of Time

As long as we are talking about Argentina, here is a translation of Homostone's "A Matter of Time" (Cuestion de Tiempo) as available on their MySpace page (ps: They are looking for singers):

You always playing the little fagg*t
And you don't even take a little bit inside
You leave the boys all hot and bothered
And they are left with all these questions

What are you looking for?
When you leave your girlfriend hanging and you come to the disco floor to dance
What's behind it?
Behind your feline stare, of your special affinity
For getting close to boys
Who get close to other boys
And only find in a macho man

If you're high, the flannel suits you
You are a pampered cub
But if a guy throws his dice
You get all jittery

What is there to do?
To get you to loosen yourself and try it at least once
With so many pieces falling, nobody can now believe
That you won't be overcome by your desires
To do certain things
When you hang up your clothes
You will be able

A matter of time, you will soon fall under
Let things go slowly, it will do you a lot of good
Light the fuse, good things will come later

Don't be afraid, you will learn
Sooner or later, you will lick yourself
I'll be happy if I taste you once

Argentina: Another gay pride march

"My first reaction was to the small size of the event, since B.A. bills itself - repeatedly- as 'the gay capital of South America.'"

That's new arrival Chris Crain describing his first Buenos Aires LGBT pride march over on his blog (he also has some photos - yay!).

Then again, he's used to São Paulo's gay million-plus participants pride march from living in Brazil over the last couple of years which is the biggest such event in the world and pretty tough to beat (I'd also argue that it's hotel owners and tourist-related businesses that have embraced the 'gay capital of South America' tag and not necessarily the local activists).
Nevertheless, as Rex did a couple of years ago, I'm sure that once Chris and his boyfriend settle down they'll find the city to be more open than first impressions might show in some ways and more closed in other ways.

Mariano, whose Spanish-language blog is just one of the best out there (full disclosure: Mariano bought my graces by sending me a CD with music from some up and coming Argentinian pop bands last year PLUS he's a great guy to boot that I hope to meet when I finally get to Buenos Aires myself) says that the march started later than usual and seemed to have more participants than ever. He also says that the closing ceremony dragged on and on and bored him to pieces even if overall he enjoyed himself. No wonder! First of all, he was with the Morrudosos! Second, he also gave and took.

Not everyone was as happy (or as bored). The feminist lesbians of La Casa del Encuentro stood up against the "glamour and frivolity framed by consumerism" as well as the "frenetic music that does not allow [you] to listen to our voices and our demands as lesbians, gays, travestis and transsexuals" by marching behind the glam-fag crowds (h/t: Breaking the Silence).

I guess I get some of the glamour back-lash but watch out puto rockeros! You might be next!

Certainly, by any standards, the naysayers were more peaceful than in years past.

AG Magazine puts the number of participants at 25,000 (5,000 more than last year - they also have video).

InfoBAE also has
additional photos and video as well.

Heck! Maybe we should all move down there! Even LifeLube is in Buenos Aires this week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A visit with the radio shock-jocks of "El Vacilón de la Mañana"

Is it that I am getting older? Or that I don't really care much about these things anymore? Or might it be that the place is the same but the circumstances have changed?

Five years ago I might have gloated about this or seen it as a big momentous occasion but when I finally agreed a few weeks ago to visit the studios of the La Mega radio station to meet and talk to the radio shock-jocks of the "El Vacilón de la Mañana" morning show it felt almost bitter-sweet.

After all, my refusal to appear in the show during an increasingly public confrontation in 2001 over the show's virulent homophobia drew on-air accusations from the former Vacilón shock-jock Luis Jimenez and his co-host Moonshadow that I was a coward (I wanted a serious meeting with the shock-jocks AND the owners of the radio station, not engage them on their home turf as entertainment for their public).

At the time Jimenez was leading one of the most successful morning talk-show team in all of New York - sometimes even beating "Howard Stern" in the ratings - by doing some of the most offensive prank phone calls and skits ever heard on the public airwaves (i.e. a skit in which man with a lisp sings a bachata about being raped the night before and enjoying it, a prank call to a man telling him he probably has hours to live because his wife just tested positive for AIDS and most probably infected him as well, etc.).

It wasn't the first time that the community had protested the show. In 1994 a group of New York City-based lesbian organizations that included Las Buenas Amigas, African Ancestral Lesbians for Societal Change and The Lesbian Avengers actually broke into the studio and disrupted a broadcast of the show and released a statement that characterized the show as follows:
Spanish-language radio station MEGA-KQ 97.9 FM describes lesbians as weird, disgusting, and sick; a 'comic' segment features 'Ros', a stereotypically effeminate and oversexed Latino homosexual who is the butt of denigrating jokes. Blacks ('africanos') belong to 'tribes' and have 'bad hair'; blacks are derisively called 'timba', 'tuta' and 'macumba'; an ongoing character, 'Mamu', who speaks in a caricatured East Indian / Pakistani / Bangladeshi accent is portrayed as oversexed and inferior; during Yom Kippur, the Jewish religious holiday was described as weird, incomprehensible and boring. Another ongoing character, 'El Chulo,' rejoices in the exploitation of older women for money, especially Asian and African women; the rape of a girl by an old man in Brazil was praised as sexual prowess. The character 'Tito Metralla' is taunted and scorned because he stutters.
In other words, despite the protest, things didn't change much between 1994 and December of last year when both Luis Jimenez and Moonshadow left the show in an increasingly acrimonious dispute with the radio station.

Not that the high-jinx have hurt Jimenez career: The reason for leaving La Mega was a multi-million contract that he accepted from rival Univision radio in December where he has since launched "The Luis Jimenez Show" currently broadcast in Chicago, Fresno, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco and Fort Myers and debuting in New York in early 2008.

As for his homophobic tirades, which he always argued were part of the tools used by a comedian who happened to be an equal-opportunity offender and not meant to be homophobic at all, since his move to Univision he has been caught calling a former co-worker a "faggot" and a "cock-sucker" off the air and received a two month suspension at Univision radio in May after GLAAD caught him doing a derogatory song skit about lesbians in the wake of the Don Imus "nappy-ho" fracas.

He has yet to apologize for either and is rumored to have been furious about the suspension. Still, just as Don Imus seems to be on his way back to the New York radio airwaves, I suspect that Jimenez will probably be welcomed back to New York with record ratings for his show once it debuts - as many fans as he left behind in this city who will surely buy into his "banished underdog arriving back into New York victorious" story - despite the fact that the guy has made millions of dollars with the shtick.

Ok, allow me to clear my throat after that (- ehem - ) which brings us to last months visit to the La Mega studios.

One of the great things that did result out of the confrontations with La Mega in 2001 was the realization by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) that they needed to step up when it came to Spanish language media (at the time they failed to take action because they had few people on staff who understood Spanish and said that they were not sure if the show was as homophobic as I claimed it to be which led to ongoing discussions that resulted in the launch of a successful Spanish-language media program at GLAAD).

I'm not sure if Chuy Sanchez, the current Spanish language media strategist for GLAAD was aware of my history with La Mega, but I certainly was surprised when I got an invite to participate in a meeting with the current on-air team, Frankie Jay and Juan Carlos (pictured above), as well as La Mega general manager Frank Flores - who is also the vice president and New York manager of the Spanish Broadcasting System which owns La Mega.

Brian Theobald of EDGE New York wrote a story ("Activists target homophobia on Spanish language radio" - Nov. 7, 2007) that describes how the recent meeting came to be although it doesn't say that among the participants were yours truly as well as my friend Pedro Julio Serrano from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).

Now, I have to confess that I haven't heard the show since the new team took over earlier this year but I did know from Pedro Julio that Frankie Jay, who joined El Vacilón from a show he did in Puerto Rico, had been an ally when both lived in the island and Pedro Julio was advocating for LGBT rights there.

So it wasn't a big surprise when both current shock-jocks seemed open to criticism, friendly and engaged in the conversation, even as Chuy pulled up video and audio files that demonstrated some questionable skits and banter that they had ran on their show since they replaced Jimenez and Moonshadow.

I also was not under any pretense that a meeting like this meant that things would change immediately or even that it was purely the result of good-faith (good-faith might have played into it but I'm sure that the recent attention paid to Don Imus and Luis Jimenez also had to do with it) but, still, I was surprised by how genuinely friendly and open to the Vacilón team seemed to be.

The next day, I wrote to Chuy to let him know just how impressed I'd been by the tone of the conversation and today I am even more impressed that general manager Flores would go on the record with EDGE New York to say "We fell into the same trap that most people fall into, thinking everything is funny when you’re not the punch line to the joke, they made us very much aware that some of the things we were doing on their air that we needed to change. It was like light bulbs going off in our heads" and "Changes like this don’t occur overnight, but the important thing is we now have a renewed sensitivity to the problem and an ongoing relationship with GLAAD. I told them that this is an ongoing process and they can always tell us when we’ve crossed a line."

That would have never happened under the old team and I am glad that I was able to take part of the exchange which I feel was a truly historic meeting when it comes to Latino LGBT activism in this country.

Still, Univision radio still has high-hopes with "The Luis Jimenez Show" in New York and it still remains a mystery if Jimenez has learned a lesson from his suspension. We will certainly be all ears once he makes the debut.

Homophobia in soccer, part 64

Saturday night, Miami's Dolphin Stadium will be the host site for a friendly match between Guatemala and Honduras' national soccer teams.

As a number of Latin American sports journalists were interviewing Guatemala's coach Hernán Darío Gómez, he spotted Reinaldo Rueda, a Guatemala-born technical assistant for Honduras. He then walked over to him and planted a "thundering" kiss.

This according to Honduran papers La Prensa and El Heraldo, both which said that the coach's antics demonstrated his tremendous sense of humor.

Asked what the kiss meant, Gómez told reporters: "The kiss can mean anything, except that we are faggots."

He was certainly playing it up for the reporters and obviously thinks that playing up the fag angle is funny but when it comes down to it it's just more of the usual homophobic banter that happens in the world of soccer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nicaragua: Sodomy statute disappears from the books

[UPDATE: Apparently Nicaragua was NOT the last Spanish-speaking Latin American country with a sodomy statute. In following up the Nicaragua story, reporter Rex Wockner has unearthed a law in Panama that still penalizes gay sex. Read about it here]

In a surprising and historic development when it comes to LGBT rights in the region, gay Nicaraguans woke up yesterday to the news that consensual sex with their partners will no longer be a crime as of March of 2008.

In adopting a new national penal code on Monday, the Nicaraguan National Assembly sidestepped the longstanding law that penalized sodomy between members of the same-sex with up to five years in prison by overwhelmingly voting to approve a new civil code that simply did not mention it.

In doing so it removed the last anti-gay sodomy statute in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries (I believe that Belize and Guyana are now the only countries in the American continent that still have such statutes and I invite others to correct me if that is not the case).

Nicaragua's La Prensa reported
on Tuesday that the elimination of the sodomy statute had been a surprise to most observers but not to representatives who were involved in drafting the language of the new code.

The president of the Nicaraguan Parliament's Commission of Justice and Legal Issues, José Pallais, explained that legislators had sought to "modernize" the penal code by not using it to regulate behavior based on the State's moral codes but by strictly addressing legal violations.

"We are not creating a Code of the Catholic Church here," he said, "we are creating a democratic Code under modern principles and principles of legality."

Nevertheless Pallais expressed dismay that another measure, seeking to relax laws penalizing abortions did not get enough legislative support to pass.

According to La Prensa the new Penal Code will go into effect on March of 2008.

Details runs out of ideas for "Gay or..."

It wasn't sporadic protests expressing outrage at the use of stereotypes in Details magazine's back-page feature "Gay or..." that ultimately shut it down.

A post today in Advertising Age's Adages blog says that Daniel Peres, the magazine's editor, has pulled the plug on the feature saying "It had simply run its course. It was getting difficult coming up with good ideas."

In 2004 a number of Asian American and gay organizations staged a protest outside Fairchild Publications, home of Details, over a "Gay or Asian" feature - which elicited an apology from Peres.

In 2005 there was also a more limited reaction regarding a "Gay or Rapper" feature though greater outrage failed to materialize.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A parade... and a message from Servicemembers United

From my last post, you might have correctly guessed that I spent Sunday afternoon watching the annual Veterans Day Parade in Manhattan. I've been to a multitude of parades over the years and even marched in some of them but this was the first time that I consciously made an effort to attend a Veterans Day Parade.

What brought me there was a number of unrelated stories that I had read as of late regarding four young men who served in the United States military - 25 year-old Army Specialist Alex R. Jimenez (pictured above), born in the Dominican Republic and missing in Iraq since his convoy was attacked on May 12th; 22 year-old Army Specialist Jonathan Rivadeneira, born in Colombia and killed by a roadside bombing in Iraq on September 14th; 22 year-old Army Sgt. Joe Nurre from California, killed by a roadside bomb back in 2005; and Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller - a/k/a "The Marlboro Marine" - whose weary, battle-fatigued face was plastered across the cover of a number of United States newspapers in a now-famous image (Miller has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and let go from the Marines).

Now, there is no real connection between these soldiers other than they were sent to fight in Iraq and that their stories caught my attention. They also might not be demographically representative of those who have been killed, wounded or have experienced PTSD as a result of their service for the United States in Iraq or Afghanistan. But...

Jimenez and Rivadeneira: I'd been thinking about writing about Specialists Jimenez and Rivadeneira and their relation to the borough were I live - Jimenez' mom lives in Queens and the disappearance of her son made the covers of the local newspapers and Rivadeneira actually grew up with his family in a building that is literally four blocks away from where I live - and the bizarre disconnect I feel exists between day-to-day life in the city and the fact that some of our own neighbors are serving and even sometimes dying overseas. I mean, Jimenez' mother is still waiting to hear about her son's whereabouts and the story has all but disappeared from the local news coverage or from the general consciousness of those who live in this city.

Actually, a friend beat me to it a few weeks ago, at least in the case of Specialist Rivadeneira. Transgender rights activist Pauline Park, who I have known for years and actually lives in the same building as the Rivadeneira family, wrote her reflections on Rivadeneira here.

Nurre: As for Joe Nurre, I don't really remember how I came upon the YouTube video below but I thought it was funny as heck!

And, wait! There's more! Here is Joe Nurre on "
safety." And here he is on "Skoal" (thanks Laurie for the vids!).

It was actually while checking to see if there were more Joe Nurre dispatches from Iraq that I also found this YouToube video that shows a news report of a memorial ceremony that was held in his honor.

Miller: Finally there was Corporal Miller. There is a tremendously moving article that appeared this weekend in the Los Angeles Times on how an image of a cigarette smoking soldier that became an emblem of US patriotism and military might in 2002 now represents a more troubling reality for Miller - and conflicting emotions for Luis Sinco, the man who took the photograph (Miller actually talks about his war and post-war experience here and here while Sinco reminisces about the photo and his relationship with Miller as a journalist here).

In some ways, I guess I attended the parade thinking about them and the many other members of the military who are still at war. I might have been among those who opposed the war in Iraq as far back as when the current administration was purposefully marching head-first into it but that doesn't mean that those who have chosen to serve in the military deserve any less respect.

A message from Servicemembers United:
In keeping with the general content of this blog, I have touched briefly on military-related stories in the past mostly when they've involved gay Latinos. None of the soldiers above are or were gay to my knowledge and not all of them are Latinos and I probably would have kept my thoughts on them to myself if it wasn't for a message I received this morning.

A frequent Blabbeando
reader (and former Advocate magazine cover man) who noticed the Veterans Day post wrote to thank me and to see if I could spread word on an upcoming series of events in Washington, DC, calling for the end of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" military policy.

The events, being carried out by Servicemembers United in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, the Log Cabin Republicans, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Liberty Education Forum, will take place from November 30th through December 2nd and include a ceremony at which one American flag will be placed on the Mall for each service member that has been discharged due to their sexual orientation.

For a full description of events during that weekend and for further information please check out the provisional Servicemembers United webiste here or contact .

There are many Latinos serving in the wars and undoubtedly many who also are gay or lesbian. I actually know of a couple such acquaintances currently serving in Iraq and they should certainly be allowed to serve with honor, along with their colleagues. So, yeah, while the DADT
policy wasn't necessarily on my mind on Sunday, I am more than happy to pass along the information.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My New York: Veterans Day Parade

This afternoon: Veterans Day Parade, New York City's 5th Avenue (some thoughts here)

Homophobic reggaeton: Mr. Fox and the "afeminaos"

A while back, when reggaeton was breaking through as the next big thing in Latino music and before it's bubble burst as many of the top acts failed to build on their initial success, I remember reading an article that said that one of the things that distinguished the raunchy lyrics of reggaeton acts from those of hip-hop and rap was its comparative lack of homophobia.

I'm not a reggaeton music fan so I couldn't say whether this is true or not but when I saw this article in a Panamanian newspaper last week about a performance by Panamanian reggaeton singer Mr. Fox (pictured), it made me do a doubletake.

Franklyn Robinson writing for Critica says:

"Artists have yet to realize the power and influence that they have among their fans and it's not fair that they use it for evil purposes. For example, Mr. Fox, while singing [on the stage], shouted all around that he didn't want homosexuals at the event and that they had to leave. This provoked disorder and a lack of respect for the homosexuals that were present, and who had paid for a ticket to be entertained. We have to remember that many eat off the money that the homosexuals paid."

Doing a search for Mr. Fox online I found out that no one should have been surprised by his homophobic outburst. After all, he released a single called "Afeminaos" ("Effeminate Ones") which he also released as a single.

The lyrics? Well, in the song Mr. Fox calls a rival singer a fag who prostitutes himself to other men in order to sustain a wealthy life instead of earning his money with sweat and effort. Here are a few choice excerpts:

I know that there are lots of rappers
That wear condoms
What does it matter to me if I do it bareback

What are you laughing at, asshole
At my faded pants
What the f*ck - What the f*ck
This is mine, not borrowed
This was worth lots of sweat and lots of work
Throwing bags at the [Panama Canal] like a disgraced one
And you... are well dressed
Thanks to the fags that have f*cked you
Those who have you screwed
They have you mounted
It's noon and you haven't even gotten up

What luck you have, friend
That AIDS has not been detected on you
If in every car I've seen you getting inside the drivers have all been faggots and effeminates
You like anal
Mentally ill you
That's why you sleep with what's his name
I already see your funeral
Or you laying in a hospital... and that's going to be very lethal

Yes, you read right. Mr. Fox thinks he doesn't have to worry about wearing condoms or AIDS just because he doesn't sleep with other men (and promotes the idea in his music). He thinks that gays are mentally ill and seems to believe the worst way to denigrate a rival is to call him homosexual. Nope, no surprise about his onstage antics.

What's interesting is that in other songs, the singer actually riles against drug use and how it has destroyed his neighborhood, the poverty of those he grew up with, corruption in politics and the way other reggaeton singers and rap artists seem to jump over each other to show their wealthy lifestyles in their videos. He actually comes off as extremely charismatic and sincere and in touch with young disaffected black Panamanian men which, of course, makes his homophobic boasts that much more dangerous (he is also unabashedly religious in his music, despite the many guns shown in his videos, so I guess his particular form of rabid homophobia comes from the spread of conservative evangelical ministries that have taken over huge swaths of Central America).

I'm not sure if Mr. Fox is the exception to the rule when it comes to homophobia in reggaeton but let's hope it's not a trend that spreads to other singers.