Thursday, January 31, 2008

Obama on the black-brown divide and immigration

As blogs and punditry go, I know this blog is a little fish compared to the DailyKOS's, Huffington Post's, Andrew Sullivan's or Drudge Report's out there. Then again, punditry is not what this blog was set up for though we touch on politics from time to time.

Still when I read a CBS News blog post by Maria Gavrilovic on a Barack Obama campaign stop at a Los Angeles technical college earlier today describing his speech to a "predominantly African-American and Latino crowd," the heart soared. Again.

No. It wasn't necessarily because he used the word "gay" in his speech (as in gays are part of the community that he hopes to represent when he becomes the President of the United States), which he did. In front of what some would consider a non-gay friendly environment. Yet again (btw - blogger Chris Crain has an interesting post on Barack's usage of the g-word in his speeches).

No, it wasn't that.

It was that in a week that saw media ratchet up the interpretation that Latinos might not vote for Obama based on his race (I wrote about it on Tuesday), here's what Barack told the mostly black and Latino crowd:
Over the past few weeks, we've heard some cynical talk about how black folks and white folks and Latinos cannot come together. We've heard it before. We've heard talk about the so-called black-brown divide, and whenever I hear this I take it seriously because im reminded of Latino brothers and sisters that I worked alongside on the streets of Chicago more than two decades ago.

We have to stop letting those in power turn us against each other. No place do I see this more than in our immigration debate. I am tired of people of people using this as a political football. We need to solve this problem.
And on his father's immigrant experience:
My father when he came here, he didn’t look like you know - he didn’t look like he stepped off the Mayflower. But we have to remember the history of immigration in this country. When the Irish first came, people were anti-Irish, when the Italians first came, people were anti-Italian and so we’ve got to remember our own past history. And let me remind everybody that not everybody who came in through Ellis Island had their papers in order.
Yes, I get that he's going for the Latino vote in California. But this is damn fine oratory at that.

I know some gay immigration rights activists out there are not happy that Obama, as a Senator, has yet to endorse the Uniting Americans Families Act or UAFA (which would allow for US citizens to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for immigration as heterosexual partners can through marriage). Neither has Hillary Clinton. And there definitely should be more pressure on both raise their commitment on behalf of bi-national couples.

Let's hope that Senator Ted Kennedy, who is a UAFA sponsor and recently endorsed Obama, can bring the Illinois senator there.

But imagine a candidate invoking the immigration issue not only to appeal to Latino voters but also to urge better relations between African-Americans and Latinos. Pretty amazing.

UPDATE: Hillary in tonight's debate on undocumented immigrants -
"I was in Atlanta last night, and an African-American man said to me, 'I used to have a lot of construction jobs, and now it just seems like the only people who get them anymore are people who are here without documentation.'"
If that's not racial wedge-driving at its most shameless, I don't know what is. I actually gasped when she said it and was not surprised to see Pat Buchanan of all people praising Hillary on MSNBC after the debate for her stand on immigration.

New York's Gay City News endorses Barack Obama

From today's Gay City News editorial:
Given that the two Democratic contenders share a similar, generally friendly and supportive posture toward LGBT Americans, we ought to think about the message our choice sends about a fundamental question - what our politics should be all about. We are finding our place here and there at the table, but we have also spent much of our life on the outside. The nation needs to hear our views on how American politics can accommodate new voices in the mix.

Judged by that measure and taking full stock of how the Democratic nomination contest has unfolded, we believe the choice is clear.

Gay City News endorses Barack Obama.
Full editorial here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Enemy gives in: Endorses Obama

The Enemy (You! Don't! Know! Me!) has had a change of heart. He has decided to back Barack Obama.

An excerpt:
It all began the other night over dinner with friends (yes, The Enemy has friends.) We were talking (yelling) politics and presenting the merits and faults of each candidate when one of The Enemy's "friends" "graciously" reminded him that for much of the last 12 years The Enemy has been arguing for an Obama.

The Enemy had long insisted that, beginning with Reagan's 'Morning in America', Republicans had learned a language that bypassed the brain and went straight to the heart. It was a potent mix of sentimentality and passion that could —— and did —— sweep folks up from their little lives and relocate them in the epic drama of "This Great Nation", where each became a participant in something historical and grand. It was a narrative that approached (slouched?) toward the divine. Powerful enough to get decent working folks to vote against their personal interests in favor of something greater than themselves, something 'noble'.
Read more here.

Note to The Enemy: Good luck in explaining it to the hubby.

Regina Shavers has passed away

[UPDATE: I have added information about a memorial service being held in honor of Regina at the end of this post]

When I was young and pretty and gay - and making my first inroads in LGBT-rights advocacy in New York in the mid 1990's - one of my most memorable experiences was being part of the group of men and women who launched the
Audre Lorde Project in Brooklyn.

The experience brought together a myriad of queer activists, young and old, of different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities,reflecting different genders and religions - and political ideals. And somehow it all worked! There were people from the vibrant Indian gay community of New York mingling with members of established African-American gay organizations. Muslim queers mixing it up with Christian queers. Even as I write about it I get uplifted. It's something that I have never experienced again even as I hope that young gay activists of color out there are being able to find similar places today.

Anyway, once ALP opened it's doors, it began to "incubate" new organizations and the first of them was the GRIOT Circle in 1995. The co-founder was Regina Shavers who sought "to combat the lack of community that she had observed amongst LGBT Elders, particularly those of color," as her bio says (full bio below).

It was through The Audre Lorde Project that I had the honor of meeting Regina and to work with her over the years. As former ALP Executive Director Joo-Hyun Kang wrote to me this morning, she was "a giant among heroes" and truly an inspiration to myself as well as others. Which is why it made me so sad to find out that she had passed away yesterday.

Other bloggers have already began to share their memories of Regina with much more eloquence than mine.
I'll update the roster if others appear.

The Task Force has also released this statement:

The Task Force mourns the death last night of longtime leader Regina Shavers. She was a peace activist in the 1960s, founded the first gay/lesbian labor caucus in New York City and was one of the first openly LGBT leaders in New York City's municipal labor unions. In the 1990s, she worked to combat anti-LGBT violence and was a member of the Mayor’s Police Council on Gay & Lesbian Concerns.

Shavers founded the GRIOT Circle, an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization for older LGBT/Two Spirit people of color. She was a proud butch lesbian and, through GRIOT, an outspoken advocate for LGBT elders. In 2005, the Task Force awarded her its first annual Allan Morrow Community Service Award in recognition of that work. She is survived by her partner, the Rev. Janyce Jackson, and their children and grandchildren.
Here is Regina's amazing bio:


Regina Shavers founded the GRIOT Circle, "an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization responsive to the realities of older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, two-spirit and transgender people
(LGBTST) of all colors."

Regina Shavers had a long history of community involvement and activism.

As co-chair of District Council 37 she advocates for workers’ rights, and serves on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Lesbian and Gay Rights Advisory Board. She played an active role in the Campaign for and Inclusive Family Policy, the citywide coalition that negotiated with Mayor David N. Dinkins to obtain Domestic Partner benefits for New York City employees.

She also helped to found Pride At Work, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO that focuses on the rights and unionization of LGBT workers.

Regina was also the former Assistant Director of the NYC Department of Health’s HIV Training Institute. Here, she created and implemented curricula for HIV prevention and treatment, including curricula specifically tailored towards older populations. Regina continued with her HIV/AIDS facilitation as a member of the New York Association on HIV Over Fifty (NYAHOF).

In 1995, Regina co-founded GRIOT Circle to combat the lack of community that she had observed amongst LGBT Elders, particularly those of color. She assumed the role of Executive Director of GRIOT in 2000.

Regina Shavers founded the GRIOT Circle as "an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization responsive to the realities of older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, two-spirit and transgender people (LGBTST) of all colors." The goal of GRIOT Circle is to maintain a safe space for elders, provide emotional support and quality programming which affirms age, gender, racial, spiritual and ethnic origins for the over 50 LGBTST community in Brooklyn. GRIOT Circle provides educational and informational forums, referrals to social service providers, health and fitness programs, spiritual wellness, computer training, a friendly visitors program and social outreach. Volunteer members make reassurance telephone calls and visits to homebound, sick or hospitalized persons.

In honor of Regina V. Shavers there will be a Celebration of Life Service on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008.

Services to be held at:
Liberation In Truth Unity Fellowship Church
608 Broad Street, @ Trinity & St. Philips Cathedral
Newark, New Jersey 07102

Viewing will be from 11 AM until 12:30.
Celebration service will follow from 12:30 to 2 PM

Immediately there after the family invites you to join them in a repass to be held at 24 Rector Street.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in the name of Regina Shavers to one of the following organizations;

Griot Circle, Inc.
25 Flatbush Avenue, 5th floor
Brooklyn, New York 11217-1101

Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church
P.O. Box 200434
Riverfront Plaza Station
Newark, New Jersey 07102

Lavender Light, The Black and People of all Colors Lesbian and Gay Gospel Choir
70 –A Greenwich Street #315
New York, New York 10011

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Latinos keeping the black man from the presidential office

So if you're like me and have been following the presidential primaries you might think that I am rockin' it because the political pundits are name-tagging Latinos as the potential king-makers in these elections (never mind that Latino immigrants seem to be the punching bag of the right in equal measures of breathlessness).

Truth is that I've been dismayed by the mainstream press coverage of the Latino vote - which often quotes "experts" who are not Latino - and which feeds into the worst stereotypes of black-Latino animosity - which exists - but not nearly as much as it's being sold.

Worse! The latest round of Latino demagoguery was sparked by a Clinton supporter and Latino pollster Sergio Bendixen when he told the New Yorker magazine that “The Hispanic voter—and I want to say this very carefully—has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates” (this is the same guy who was hired by the defunct national Latino LGBT organization, LLEGO, to poll Latinos on the issue of same-sex marriage in the previous presidential election).

I'd been meaning to write about it but someone's beat me to it.

Surprisingly it's anti-gay marriage and Mexican-American political pundit Ruben Navarrete (pictured) who has a syndicated OpEd coulmn in a few mainstream newspapers. And with whom I agree 100% tonight. Here is where he begins:

"Having polarized blacks and whites, the Democratic primary campaign was already becoming sleazy. And now that Latinos have been added to the mix, it's become surreal. We're being told that Latinos won't vote for Barack Obama because he's black. The implication is that Latinos are racist."

I urge you to read the rest.

Gregory Rodriguez also has a great OpEd piece at Times Magazine Online ("The Black-Brown Divide").

UPDATE: Chicago Tribune OpEd columnist Clarence Page says that Clinton's lead among Latinos has to do more with coattails than race and two guest OpEd writers at the Los Angeles Times chime in with a similar take. Both columns argue against efforts to paint the political preferences of Latinos as race-based.

Then there is The Ememy who has also taken notice of the "Latinos are All Racist" meme. For his thoughts go here.

And Vivir Latino reminds people: Hey, there are a lot of black Latinos in this country as well!

Monday, January 28, 2008

From an undecided Latino gay voter: Barack Obama and LGBT rights

Last week, I shared one particular article from the Politico website ("Obama Faces Off Against Both Clintons," Jan. 20, 2008) with more than 800 LGBT Latinos on an e-mail list I moderate.

My friend
Jorge Irizarry sent back this response and I asked if I could share it with you. He said yes so here it goes (keep in mind that, while I am supporting Barack Obama, Jorge is still uncommitted):

e will see more of this kind of articles in days, weeks, months and maybe even years to come. Scrutiny of different candidates' endorsers and concerns regarding what their endorsements mean. I am very cautious as to how to read this particular column by Carrie Budoff Brown. The title "Obama faces off against both Clintons," should have maybe been titled: "Two Clintons attack Obama."

Sometimes it is all in the wording or even the order of the words. Truth (to me) is that Obama has been forced to respond to attacks from both Clintons, which by the way, are sadly relying on a very stereotypical gendered division of labor when it comes to attacking Obama.

his particular title is problematic to me because it seems to be a presumption that endorsers must adhere strictly to all the candidates positions and even worse, that a candidate embraces all positions espoused by any given endorser. We know this presumption, or expectation, is impossible. It would be very simple to see that Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell endorsed Obama for whatever reasons he espoused to the public in his endorsement. I respect that afterwards, Obama, in spite of this endorsement continued to be firm in his support of the LGBT community. Support that I believe is too limited, just as limited as Hillary's support (both candidates not too long ago, had to stop and consult their advisers before they could call our relationships "moral").

I believe, Obama has been as clear as possible as to his commitment to work with the LGBT community, and he was supportive of us in his speech at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, that is not small feat and we should appreciate it for what it is, a show of solidarity with the LGBT community in a place that may have not been too receptive to this kind of support before. Let's not forget that the African American community as well as the Latino community has their own issues with the mainstream LGBT organizations and their obsession with white images in the media as well as with its many white leaders in most positions of power. That is the appropriate context in which I suggest we look at Obama's statement Sunday, it is better than to hear him and start searching for an endorser that may disagree with him.

All of us that have worked in coalitions and have worked to raise support for a particular cause knows that some times members of that coalition are not allies in many other issues. It is disingenuous to imply differently. I remember working with immigrant rights groups and prisoner advocates groups that would not support some of my queer agenda, but we all managed to find common ground to work together. Obama's campaign is no different, and is not necessarily about what different endorsers think; it's about the candidate's statements and commitments. So in the end we can say that Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell endorsed Obama, the same candidate that urged more than 2,000 people at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church to acknowledge that "We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them."

That, to me, is commendable.

As a disclaimer: I am not an Obama supporter and do not work with any of his campaigns. I am however, growing increasingly disappointed with Ms. Clinton, her own warmongering, her campaign of fear - and I may never forgive her for betraying the immigrant community in Spitzer's effort to provide every immigrant in NY with a license. As a Latino queer man, that betrayal is harsher than when she hesitated before calling our relationships "moral."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Puerto Rico: Waiting for the other shoe to drop

A year ago this month I was thrilled to hear that a committee drafting a new civil code for the island had included language allowing transgender persons to get new personal ID's matching their gender and also allowing heterosexual couples AND same-sex couples to have access to a civil union measure which would have granted the same rights as marriage.

Since then, Senator Jorge De Castro Font, who chaired the committee, was successful in getting the transgender rights language removed from the draft and has waged a personal war to disband the committee as a means to stop any measure that recognizes any rights for same-sex partners.

Two months ago I noted with dismay that De Castro Font - in yet another move to block any and all recognition of same-sex partnerships - had also been successful in getting the Puerto Rican Senate to vote in favor of an amendment to the island's constitution defining marriage as that between a man and a woman.

De Castro Font and a number of conservative religious leaders put pressure on the House of Representatives to push a similar bill
on the closing days of the 2007 legislative session but leaders of the legislative body resisted rushing as delicate a matter as amending the Commonwealth's constitution with little, if any, legislative debate.

Unfortunately, in early January José Aponte, the president of the House of Representatives, indicated that the measure would be taken up by the House in early 2008 and that he was confident that there were enough votes to pass the measure.

Even if both chambers pass the bill, Puerto Rico's Governor, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá would have to sign it for it to become a public referendum. So I hoped that the Governor's recent overtures to the gay community were a signal that he would stand up to the constitutional drive.

Again, I was wrong. As the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, Acevedo Vilá said that he would sign the bill and allow the referendum if the House passes it, even as he feels that such an amendment would be "unnecessary and divisive."

The House of Representatives vote still awaits.

On Friday, Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson told Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Dia that "Gay Puerto Ricans, their loved ones and their families need marriage [rights] and to be treated justly under the law as does anyone else."

He added: "The House of Representatives should stop their cruel and divisive attack on same-sex partners and their children, just as the Governor should reconsider his decision to allow the referendum to take place."

Matt Foreman, Executive Director of ther National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said that "fundamental rights can never be submitted for a popular vote," adding that "Democracy was created to protect minorities from the tyrany of the majority."

We'll see where all of this goes in weeks to come.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Luis Jimenez is back in town

With posters announcing "The Second Coming" plastering the city (almost as many posters if not more than for the movie "Cloverfield"), Spanish language radio shock-jock Luis Jimenez finally ended his contract-mandated exile and was back on the New York City radio airwaves yesterday morning with his "Luis Jimenez Show" on La Kalle.

Unrepentant for past on air transgressions - or the homophobic skit that got him suspended for a couple of months last year in a version of the show that was being broadcast by Univision Radio in markets outside New York - the debut of the show was preceded by a number of interviews with the press which were striking for the animosity he expressed towards his former colleagues at "El Vacilon de la Mañana" on La Mega. So much so that when he continued to slime La Mega on the air it seemed more like an act to paint himself as the wronged underdog back in town to take them down than anything else (this "underdog," of course, is the man who signed with Univision for $5 million, making him the top paid Hispanic radio personality in the United States).

In a pre-show interview that appeared yesterday in the Daily News, Jimenez addressed his suspension for the first time in public and said: “That happened right after [Don] Imus’ problems and I think the suspension was less about me than about delivering a message."

In the show aired yesterday, which was set up as an on-air "press conference" instead of a proper show, Jimenez told listeners that he had nothing for which to apologize and said that he'd felt personally hurt about being tagged as anti-gay. He said that he knew it wasn't even the gay community that called him homophobic but one or two people at a small organization (alluding, we assume, to GLAAD, which released a statement denouncing his on air banter before the suspension).

He said that it was a sad day when radio personalities didn't have to fear the FCC but, instead, a small organization. "That's not a democracy," he said, "It's a dictatorship."

He also told the Daily News that “rules for content have definitely changed, black comedians have said ‘ho’ for years and now it’s bad. You used to hear ‘bitch’ all the time and now it’s ‘the b-word.’ I think it’s a problem, but I can adjust. You find other ways to say things. I make up words.”

He added that, despite how he felt, he wasn't about to do anything to get his new employer in trouble and that he was grateful to Univision for bringing him back to New York.

The press conference as an on-air show drew mostly online Latino website reporters with most "reporters" congratulating Jimenez on his return to the air and a female reporter actually gushing over Jimenez and how great he looked. One of the exceptions was the well-known El Diario La Prensa OpEd columnist Gerson Borrero who asked a few pressing questions about the feud with "El Vacilon," the issue of censorship and whether Jimenez would be willing to return to SBC Radio, owners of La Mega, if he was offered $10 million dollars.

But wait! What about the show's content?

Well, a number of new personalities were introduced in yesterday's show including
Fay who describes herself as being a lesbian woman. She spent some time defending Jimenez from the accusations of homophobia and vouchering for his character (she's the show's Robin Quivers, if you will, to Jimenez' Howard Stern role).

Yesterday and today she engaged in some sophomoric banter with Jimenez - mostly of the Beavis-and-Butthead type - that played on words such as "mamar" (to suck) and "mamá" (mom) that, at least to my ears, fell mostly flat.

Today she asked reggae star Daddy Yankee, a guest, if he clipped his eyebrows just like Don Omar - another reggae singer with whom he has a feud - or if he regretted wearing pink in one of his old videos which might indicate he was less of a man (I guess if a lesbian woman uses the same stereotypes to call men's masculinity into question, all is forgiven, no?).

Then there was a feature in today's show - set to the Village People's "Macho Man" - in which male listeners were asked to call and see who could say phrases such as "If your hands are busy, I'll shake it for you" without sounding gay. A winner was named. As far as offensiveness goes, it was so lame that I'm not sure that it merits mention here.

No, there were no skit songs about a man enjoying being raped by another man or prank calls telling a man that he has hours to live because he has AIDS - as in the past - but I was struck by how boring the first two shows were (not something I would have said about the old "Vacilon" shows).

At one point, to promote the show's online prescence, we were told that a man was going to fall on a bed of mousetraps. For minutes all you heard was the clickety-clack of the mousetraps going off. Someone assured listeners that if they watched it online it
would be funny.

As close as it got to the offensiveness of old was a song skit this morning about a man who meets a beautiful woman and takes her to bed only to find out that she has such a huge vagina that he's afraid to fall inside her and get lost. Pretty objectionable, I think, but it even felt forced. An attempt to "prove" that Jimenez hasn't changed his ways even if everything else in the show seems to indicates otherwise.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ugly Betty for Hillary (Wilson Cruz for Obama?)

This election is too important to stand on the sidelines, especially for my generation, I believe that Hillary Clinton can turn this country around - Ugly Betty
That's actress America Ferrera, who is the star of the ABC television show "Ugly Betty" as quoted by the Great Britain's The Independent.

We don't doubt the intelligence and political commitment of America - even if we have been consistently underwhelmed by the show - but I am still sticking with Barack Obama.

By the way I've heard that openly gay actor and hottie Wilson Cruz (best known for the groundbreaking series "My So-Called LIfe" also on ABC) is for Obama.

I'll confirm later if I get in touch with him.

That reminds me, I should really get the complete "My So-Called Life" series on DVD.

DNC names Latina lesbian and Latino transman as at-large Democratic Convention delegates

This Friday, as a prelude to this years Democratic National Convention taking place this August in Denver, the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee selected 25 at-large delegates to the Convention as members of the DNC's standing Platform, Rules and Credentials Committees.

Of the 25 at-large delegates, seven LGBT individuals were named to the three different committees and the selection is striking in its diversity.

Of four LGBT individuals named to the Platform Committee - which is responsible for drafting and recommending a proposed National Platform for approval at the convention - two are Hispanic:

Ingrid Duran (above) is a Board Member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Chair of the National Hispana Ledareship Institute (NHLI) and Co-Founder and Principal of D&P Creative Strategies, which seeks to "increase the role of corporate, legislative and philanthropic efforts in addressing the concerns of Latinos, women and LGBT communities."

Previously Ms. Duran had served as President of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, as an officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and as a member of President Bill Clinton's Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.

Diego Sanchez (right) is a transgender man who acts as the Director of Public Relations and External Affairs at the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Mr. Sanchez has also served on the Board of the Human Rights Campaign and the Boston-based Latino grassroots organization Somos Latinos LGBT. In the past he was also named by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Latinos in Corporate America.

They are joined on the Platform Committee by Dr. Marjorie Hill, an African-American woman who is the current Executive Director of the New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), and State Rep. Patricia Todd of Alabama.

In addition, Clare Lucas, Chair of the the DNC's Gay/Lesbian Leadership Council, and Evan Low - an Asian-American gay man who was elected last year to the Campbell City Council in California at the age of 23 - were named to the Rules Committee.

Bob Rogan, a Congressional Chief of Staff from Vermont was named to the Credentials Committee.

All at-large delegates were chosen at the recommendation of DNC chair - and former presidential candidate - Gov. Howard Dean, and will join hundreds of other delegates at the convention, including other LGBT individuals, selected by their states of origin.

UPDATE (Jan. 16, 2008): Here is the official DNC press release:

January 16, 2008

Appointments Reflect Strength, Diversity and Energy of Democratic Party

DENVER - The Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee(DNC) unanimously elected DNC Chairman Howard Dean's nominations for the
Chairs and members of the 2008 Democratic National Convention Standing Committees, including a record number of openly LGBT members. Dean's LGBT appointments include Dr. Marjorie Hill of the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization in New York, Diego Sanchez from AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, State Representative Patricia Todd of Alabama, and Ingrid Duran of Virginia to serve on the Platform Committee, along with Claire Lucas and Evan Low of California to the Rules Committee and Bob Rogan of Vermont to the Credentials Committee.

In addition to appointing a record number of LGBT standing committee members, Dean was also the first DNC chair to appoint a member of the
transgender community to a Convention committee.

The Standing Committees of the Convention are responsible for reviewing Convention business and formulating recommendations for consideration by Convention delegates.

The Executive Committee's vote took place during
the panel's recent meeting in Denver, site of the four-day Convention in August.

"The record turnout and enthusiasm we've seen for our Democratic candidates is a clear sign that Americans trust Democrats to bring much
needed change to our country," said Governor Dean.

"These outstanding leaders reflect the great strength, diversity and energy of the Democratic Party, and I'm confident their efforts will ensure our
Convention in Denver is reflective of our shared values and our nominee's vision for America."

The elections included the Chairs and 25 Party Leader and ElectedOfficial (PLEO) members of the three Convention Standing Committees:

Credentials, Platform and Rules. Each committee has a total of 186 members. An additional 161 members elected by each of the states' and territories' Convention delegations will join Governor Dean's
appointments to the committees later this spring.

For a full list of and biographical information on the Chairs and PLEO members from each Standing Committee, visit .

Credentials Committee The Credentials Committee is charged with coordinating issues aroundthe selection of delegates and alternates to the Convention and will

likely meet in the summer. The committee will issue a report that is the first official item of business at the Convention.

Platform Committee The Platform Committee is responsible for drafting and recommending a

proposed National Platform for approval at the Convention. After conducting hearings and forums to collect testimony on issues and policies to potentially include in the platform, the committee is likely to meet sometime in July.

Rules Committee The Rules Committee is responsible for proposing the Permanent Rules for the Convention, adopting the proposed Convention agenda and making recommendations for permanent Convention officers - all addressed as the second official item of business at the Convention. The committee will meet sometime in August, prior to the Convention.

UPDATE #2 (Jan. 18, 2008): Marti Abernathey of TransAdvocate provides some context.

My New York: "No beards allowed," City tells cops

Been a bit busy at work so, while I get back to blogging, here's some dismaying news... At least they can keep the mustache.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My New York: Movies and the destruction of Manhattan

Sure, I like a good ol' destruction of the world movie just like everyone else but when posters for J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield began to appear all over subway station walls and in the streets I admit I gasped a bit.

It wasn't the image of a beheaded Statue of Liberty that got me it was the - shameless? - way that the promotional materials show a decimated ground zero at the exact site where the Twin Towers used to stand (a clip available at the movie's official site shows that the film also plays with the awful imagery of that morning as well: Buildings collapsing on themselves, horrified crowds running away from looming clouds of smoke and debris, people rushing into deli stores just as the clouds are about to envelop them - scenes that could have come straight from Jules and Gedeon Naudet's extraordinary
"9/11" documentary ).

Not that this is fresh commentary: The New York Daily News had an article a couple of days ago just on this and the New York Times also looked at "The Irrisistible Urge to Destroy New York on the Screen."

I'm not sure how these images play outside New York and it wouldn't surprise me if the movie plays better elsewhere than in Manhattan. But I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who is reacting this way to the posters.

For the past 15 years I have worked in midtown Manhattan and I remember often looking down at the Twin Towers through the city's cement canyons almost every morning. Since September 11th, of course, those towers are no longer there and what remains - as a point of reference - are the two shorter World Financial Center towers that served as their "skirt," if you will (you can see both in the picture on the right and they are featured prominently in Cloverfield's poster as well).

It sometimes makes me sad to feel that I no longer remember just how much higher the towers rose above them or their exact relation to them.

Immediately after the attacks, it would have been impossible to think that Manhattan would have seen as healthy a real estate market as it has over the last few years. And, though it's great that the city has been able to avoid a deep economic recession, one of the unfortunate things that has happened is the proliferation of functional but architecturally bland apartment towers. They have certainly changed the Manhattan skyline for the worst.

I plan to see the movie. I know the difference between reality and entertainment and probably will enjoy it despite the fact that some of the imagery will probably have deep ressonance for reasons other than entertainment. I know of people who have stayed away from other movies that have addressed the day's events in fictionalized form and I respect that. But I have a feeling that I'll feel sadder down the line - long after the movie has opened and closed - when I look down Sixth Avenue and see that new high-rise obscuring the surviving World Financial Center towers.

Not necessarily mass destruction but a reminder that New York is no longer what it used to be.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Manhattan Offender flushes the toilet

Ok, I realize this is a rather jarring entry considering today is "Blabbaeando is Orange for a Day" day (if you read this post after Nov. 11th that whole sentence won't make too much sense anyway) BUT how genius is this:

Manhattan Offender just finished live blogging from - err - one of the brand new $100,000 public bathrooms that the Bloomberg administration has bestowed to the City of New York (they might well be the most complicated public bathrooms in the world as well - see buttons, right).

In chronological order: Intro, Tolitet Live Blog I, II, III, IV, V, VI (NSFW), VII, VIII, IX, Outro, and Post-Mortem.

My favorite live blogging observation: "Passersby are fascinated. By a toilet. This is the future of news."

Be forewarned, though:
Black dispenses toilet paper. One will quickly familiarize oneself with that button, because the designers have deigned a little 16-inch strip the standard helping of paper. A word to the wise: There is a maximum of just three helpings.
That, according to The Times this morning.

Blabbeando goes orange for a day

Today we are joining other blogs out there, including Bilerico, in being orange for a day.

It's in solidarity with the American Civil Liberties Union's efforts calling for the closing of the prisons in Guantanamo.

You might want to join us as well. If you do so, please let Bil Browning of Bilerico know by leaving a message on this post and the ACLU as well by writing to them at: .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gloria is for Hillary

First of all, for those of you who don't know, there once was a national Latino LGBT organization called LLEGO.

Second of all, I was personna non-grata at LLEGO for years due to my criticism of the organization (some ex-staffers will still not talk to me).

Third of all, Gloria Nieto used to be head of the LLEGO Board of Directors so let's just say that I wasn't necessarily one of her favorite persons.

And then LLEGO closed for a plethora of reasons and then a miracle happened: Gloria and I became like friends! Yay!

Fourth of all, Gloria wanted to blog so she reached out and I explained the ins and outs of setting up a blog. She called it Miss Wild Thing. For some reason, I feel the blog was partly my baby.

So now, as we take a look at Latino LGBT leaders involved in politics who have taken a stand in these elections, I might as well point out that today's San Francisco Chronicle quoted Gloria (pictured above with Gloria Steinem) on the election and mentioned her blog - which speaks to her influence as one of the few Latina lesbian women involved in national politics over the last couple of decades.

Hm, I also will not hold it against her that she is pulling for Hillary. Sigh.

Emanuel is for Hillary

Poet, actor, writer, book editor, performer, Pier Queen and all-around good guy Emanuel Xavier has made a personal endorsement in the presidential elections. We'll try not to hold it against him but he's favoring Hillary.

From his blog:

I've been asked many times and been watching very carefully before making any decisions but as an openly gay man, as a Latino voter, as an American, I officially announce my endorsement for Hillary Clinton. Whatever your personal choice may be, please make sure to go out and vote this year! Regardless of the outcome, a great change is coming to this country.
Thought I'd share to highlight what some of the visible Latino gay folk out there are thinking about the elections (photo of Emanuel by Derek Storm).

Return to sender

I guess it might serve as my drag name - if I did drag. But how do some of these companies sometimes get my name so wrong?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Reggaeton star might bank on homophobia to revive sagging career

Just like Ricky Martin, reggaeton was supposed to be the next Gloria Estefan of the music world.

Instead, with the exception of Calle 13 who released a masterful - if extremely raunchy - album last year that expanded their reggaeton roots to embrace salsa, cumbia and tango rhythms, the top reggaeton stars floundered their promise away with albums that simply didn't catch fire (yes, I'm talking about you Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderón and Don Omar!).

Welcome to the other side of the perennial United States "Latin explosions" that only a few (Shakira? Jenniffer Lopez?) have ridden and been able to survive (Ricky Ricardo? Jose Feliciano? Ricardo Montalban? The Taco Bell chihuahua?).

In November I wrote about a Panamanian reggaeton singer - Mr. Fox - who seemed to buckle the general perception of reggaeton artists as shying away from the homophobic lyrics of some reggae singers. Unfortunately one of the biggest reggaeton stars seems to be ready to join that trend.

Mexico's Es Más is reporting that Puerto Rican reggaeton sensation Don Omar will be releasing a new album this year that will touch on issues related to "sex, social criticism, homosexuality, religion and God."

Not only that but he's releasing the album on Good Friday (March 21) to cash in on religious fervor and promises that "it will be an [album] cover that will leave everyone once again with their mouths open. It will be titled with a name that will leave everyone in the cold."

So don't be fooled by the rocks that he's got! The announcement probably will not surprise fans who know that the singer used to be a preacher (and a member of a group called the Christian Rappers) but we are certainly concerned about the possibility that one of the top reggaeton artists will turn to gay bashing in his lyrics to sell records. Let's hope that's not the case.

Cajun football fan for a day: Geaux Tigers!

Truth be told, I have long been a Syracuse University football fan even if in recent years there hasn't been much to cheer about. They were 2-10 this year.

Back in August, during
a fleeting trip to San Diego, I had the pleasure of finally meeting Keith just as he was getting ready for the new college football season.

A Louisiana State University college football fan if there ever was one, Keith, the last time that I saw him, was getting ready to put a couple of LSU flags on his car. I have a feeling that even if the football season is over, Keith will still be flying those flags for a few more weeks... even months.

So, as LSU's improbable season ended on Monday with a 38-24 win over
Ohio State - and the national championship - forgive me if it brought back memories of that 1987 Syracuse University 11-1 season and getting caught up in all that madness.

I even watched a couple of LSU games this year when the boyfriend wasn't around (he hates college football) though I stopped short of flying the LSU flags or plastering the office with LSU banners.
Needless to say I was thrilled for Keith on Monday night and let him know.

Little did I know that Keith
had sent some LSU madness my way.

The box arrived yesterday. Keith shows what was inside the box here. For a full blast of his LSU insanity go his ScoopZone blog here.

Above, that's Keith and Rex -
who often grumbles that he's joined legions of weekend football widowers by marrying him - checking out an LSU game back in October.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: In a first, Puerto Rican Governor invites leading gay rights leaders to traditional ceremony

A Blabbeando y Puerto Rico Para Tod@s EXLUSIVE -

Here's where we left it last year:

1) The Puerto Rican Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of amending the Commonwealth's constitution to limit marriages to those between a man and a woman.

2) The Puerto Rican House of Representatives fought back last minute attempts by anti-gay advocates to push a vote on a similar measure in the last few days of the but said that they would consider it this year.

3) Conservative Senator Jorge De Castro Font (who has led the charge to ban same-sex marriages in the island and was the architect behind the Senate vote in favor of a constitutional amendment) seemed to offer an olive branch by embracing an idea floated by San Juan Archbishop Roberto González to create something called "shared residence" which would fall short of marriage or civil unions but provide some limited rights to same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual partners (the olive branch was dead on arrival).

This after De Castro Font publicly criticized members of a committee studying changes to the island's Civil Code for supporting language that would have offered civil unions to heterosexual partners as well as same-sex partners with the same rights as marriage (he is currently trying his best to have the committee disbanded).

4) Finally, on World AIDS Day some HIV prevention/treatment advocates demanded that the government stop an HIV prevention campaign that painted HIV+ people as zombie ghouls and promoted abstinence by questioning the effectiveness of condoms. This on top of the recent AIDS care crisis that surfaced last year.

Here's the latest:

On Sunday the Associated Press said that Jose Aponte, the President of the House of Representatives, "trusted that the [legislative] body will approve the proposal to elevate marriage between a man and a woman to a constitutional level" based on informal conversations with colleagues and said that he believed the measure had the support of enough legislators to pass.

But wait! Even if it passes it would still need the Governor's signature to be adopted as a referendum and on Thursday Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá pronounced himself on the issue and told the AP that he didn't think that a constitutional amendment was necessary.

"Those who are proposing this, elevate it to the constitutional level, what they want is to politicize the issue in an election year that should be addressed through normal laws," he said and added "there is no need not is there any reason to elevate this debate through a constitutional amendment at this point in time."

This is what makes today's developments newsworthy:

For the first time ever, the Governor has extended an invite to three openly gay and lesbian Puerto Rican leaders to participate in a traditional annual event (the saludo protocolar del Gobernador or "Governor's official salute") taking place tomorrow Wednesday at the Governor's official residence in San Juan.

Throughout the day, Governor Acevedo Vilá and his wife will welcome political, religious, military and community leaders and among them will be Pedro Julio Serrano, President of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s (avove); the Reverend Margarita Sánchez, President of the Puerto Rican chapter of Amnesty International (above); and José Fernando Colón, coordinator of Pacientes de sida pro Política Sana (below).

In a press release, Serrano said that he would urge the Governor to block passage of any constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage and to sign a Civil Code that truly protects all Puerto Ricans, including the LGBT community while Colón said he was proud to attend the ceremony as an HIV positive individual.

Following the statements he made earlier this week, the invites sent out to the three leading LGBT rights activists seem more than an attempt to be inclusive.

To me, they seem to be a symbolic gesture to right wing anti-gay zealots that the Governor is willing to welcome and stand side by side with the LGBT community and that, after years of sustained attacks from some anti-gay leaders, he might very well say that enough is enough and that the LGBT community in Puerto Rico deserves to be treated with respect and afforded the same rights as everyone else.

[UPDATE: For unknown reasons Reverend S
ánchez was not able to attend, Pedro Julio just called me and said he had just left The Fortress, as the Governor's residence is called]

Spot the blogger...

Saw this ad in a current bar rag and had to smile. Yup! There he is...

Musica: Beautiful Burnout

"Beautiful Burnout," the stand-out track from Underworld's Oblivion with Bells, gets the single release treatment and a low-key video, above. Some may say it's boring but I say it's enigmatic and ethereal. Actually it reminds me of some of the film shorts I use to do when I was a cinema major eons ago (don't laugh, one even made it to PBS!).

Previously, on Blabbeando:

Openly gay Latino mayor to endorse Barack Obama

John Duran, the openly gay and HIV positive mayor of West Hollywood, California, is set to formally endorse Senator Barack Obama for president at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow.

It's a nice counter to some of the hyperbole coming from some quarters as to Latino voters being Hillary's "ace in the hole."

Here is the press release that his office sent today:

January 8, 2008


John Duran, the Mayor of West Hollywood, announces his endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States. Duran, a leader within the Democratic Party as well as a state-wide leader of the gay and lesbian community said: "In enthusiastically supporting Barack Obama I am backing the national voice of authenticity. Obama is the authentic long time opponent of the war in Iraq and the authenic voice for equal justice for all, including my own LGBT community.

As a civil rights attorney I appreciate that the senator spent years in the practice of civil rights in the courts and as a community organizer, and also that he was a distinguished professor of constitutional law. To have a man of the constitution follow a president who so disrespected the constitution is a true "turning of the page".

Barack Obama is rallying the nation to end Politics as usual. Politics as usual got us into Iraq. Politics as usual got us DON'T ASK DON'T TELL, a policy adopted by a democratic White House and resulting in running thousands of patriotic gays and lesbians out of our nation's armed services. Politics as usual got us DOMA, the anti-gay so-called Defense of Marriage Act signed by a democratic White House.

Politics as usual just isn't good enough for the 21st century. Senator Obama brings the excellence of leadership, the clarity of vision, and the authenticity of character that we need after the dark clouds of the Bush-Chaney regime.

(Photo from the City of West Holywood's flickr page)

Breaking cameras, kissing babies

Weird, first he steps on Rex's camera back in April, now he kisses Lavi Soloway's baby, Lily, in New Hampshire.

Leave my blog roll bloggers alone, Obama!

Still, says Lavi, Lily's gay dad, "he held her and expressed his pride to me as I told him about our little family. He was affable, inspirational and unpretentious" and then gave Lily a kiss on her forehead (Chris also took notice).

I hope Lavi won't mind me plugging up this pic he took of Lily and Barack Obama here.