Friday, February 29, 2008

Update: More shocking details emerge in murder of gay man in Mexico

Reports of violent murders of LGBT people throughout Latin America are unfortunately still common but a few days ago there was one particular murder in in Acapulco, Mexico, that shocked me based on the few details that were reported in media.

The body of 48-year old
Alejandro Fuentes Mejia was found on the morning of February 21st with his hands tied behind his back in a dirt road that cut through a park near his place of employment.

Mejia had last been seen the day before at his place of work - the Institute of Social Security and Services - and was still wearing his work uniform. His body showed signs of torture and indications that he had been stoned to death.

The most shocking part? A sign made out of yellow cardboard that was left on the body that read "This is what happens to me for going around infecting people with AIDS."


When I first wrote about this murder
on February 25th, I chided mexican newspaper La Cronica de Hoy for their speculative headline ("For spreading AIDS, an employee of ISSSTE is executed in Acapulco") and also wrote the following:
Though I can't assume that the man was gay, the language in the note is striking because it is the same language that the extreme right in Latin America uses against the gay community when blaming it for the general ills of a society (as do homophobic extreme right wing bigots in the United States). It wouldn't surprise me at all if this turns out to be a hate crime against a gay man although I doubt there'll be much follow-up.
My hunch was right.

On Feb. 26th, Mexican LGBT web portal
Anodis.com published a follow up story that revealed a few more details.

1. There was one additional message written on the cardboard sign that read "This is what happens to me for having infected my son with AIDS."


2. According to the Anodis.com article, the man was HIV positive and gay and held an administrative post at the clinic where he worked.


3. Several LGBT rights and HIV-prevention organizations such as the Guerrero State Gay Association Against AIDS, Catholics fof the Right to Chose, Living with Chilpancingo and the Democratic Network and Sexuality are demanding a full investigation as well as passage of a hate crimes bill.

I expressed doubt that the crime would be resolved so I am glad that Anodis.com has followed up and that these organizations are putting pressure on the Guerrero State government to find the murderers and take them to justice.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

LGBT Latinos for Obama

You might have seen the new ads that the Barack Obama campaign is running in some LGBT media. This particular version is a "generic" take on the ad that was provided exclusively to Towleroad by the Obama campaign yesterday. The ad will be slightly different for each targeted market to reflect specific information on how to vote for Obama in states like Ohio and Texas.

Earlier today the Obama campaign also released an "Open Letter from Barack Obama to the LGBT Community" which has been posted at Bilerico.

What follows is small compared to those two announcements but I hope that it contributes to the Obama campaign as we head into the rest of the primary season and on to the presidential election.

I am grateful to the friends who agreed to sign this statement in a short time's notice. It might be a small list for now but it includes some amazing activists and personalities from New York, Texas, Minnesota, DC, California and Massachusetts. I am also grateful to the wonderful and openly gay Latino actor Wilson Cruz for signing on (he has a MySpace blog post on the letter here). The letter will soon be cross-listed over at Gloria's blog.

It's an open letter so you are welcome to ad your name. See information at the bottom on how to do this.

LGBT LATINOS FOR OBAMA

CONTACTS:
Gloria Nieto & Andres Duque
lgbt.latinos4obama@gmail.com

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Open Letter to the Latino LGBT community:

Like many of you out there, we are thrilled at the opportunity to bring meaningful and lasting change to the White House by exercising our right to vote during this historic presidential election.

As LGBT Latinos and Latinas who happen to be immigrants or descendants from immigrant families we are sick and tired of seeing our lives and values be misrepresented by those who seek to drive wedges in our communities as a means to split our vote and gain power through division.

We saw it when the right wing used same-sex marriage to rile up the conservative vote for President George W. Bush and we are seeing it again with immigration being blamed as the source for all the nation’s ills.

We know that these are the politics of fear and that those same politics only served to elect one of the worst presidents in US history.

This is why we believe that, in this presidential election, there is one clear choice.

BARACK OBAMA

On the LGBT community: Senator Obama continues to include us in his speeches without prompting or regardless of his audience. He has spoken of his desire to lead all Americans - and has specifically mentioned the LGBT community as being part of his vision of America - during the televised primary debates as well as during presentations in African-American churches as well as Latino gatherings in California.

Senator Obama has said that he supports gender inclusion in a federal bill that would ban discrimination against our communities (as has Senator Hillary Clinton), but, unlike Clinton, he has also said he would repeal ALL of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which allows states to discriminate against same-sex couples by only recognizing partnerships between a man and a woman (Clinton has said that she would only repeal part of the bill).

On immigration: At a time when even “respected” news media such as CNN use immigration bashing in order to drive up ratings and the Republican presidential candidates try to outdo each other in anti-immigrant fervor, we have been moved by Senator Obama’s consistent overtures to immigrant communities, his rejection of using immigrants as a scapegoat and his efforts to shatter stereotypes that African-American communities won’t stand up for immigrants or that Latinos will not vote for a black presidential candidate.

Unfortunately we have been dismayed by the efforts of some Clinton campaign associates to play down the importance of the African-American vote for Obama in South Carolina and other states in which the Illinois Senator has carried the African-American vote by wide margins – and won the states; and by comments from Latino pollster Sergio Bendixen implying that Latinos will not vote for Obama because of his skin color.

Economic tensions do exist between different communities of color, particularly at a time when the economy seems to be heading into a recession which might disproportionally affect our communities. But we need a president that will do his or her best to address the issues that are driving down this economy and not a president that will take advantage of those tensions for political gain.

We believe that the right person for the job is Senator Obama.

He offers a true vision of hope. A vision that values every single person who lives in the United States and not just an elite few.

A vote for Senator Obama provides an opportunity to change our country’s values and embrace our strengths and diversity - and to turn back the onslaught of hate and discrimination we have seen over the last eight years.

For that reason, we would like to ask you to ad your signature to this letter and to simply say:

“We step forward to claim our voice as LGBT Latinos in support of Barack Obama for United States President.”

En comunidad,

(List in formation: If you would like to ad your name to this statement please send your name, city and state of residence to lgbt.latinos4obama@gmail.com)
  • Chris Aguilar Garcia, Los Angeles, CA
  • Noel Alicea, New York, NY
  • Miguel Ayala, Washington, DC
  • Tita Berger, Albuquerque, NM
  • Geo Bustamante, Associate Editor, Gaysofla.com, Miami, FL
  • W. Brandon Lacy Campos, Minneapolis, MN
  • Pedro Chavez, Los Angeles, CA
  • Wilson Cruz, Los Angeles, CA
  • Andres Duque, Queens, NY
  • Gael Guevara, New York, NY
  • Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Austin, TX
  • Jorge Irizarry, J.D., Bronx, NY
  • Wilfred Labiosa, Boston, MA
  • Roberto Martinez,Brooklyn, NY
  • Gloria Nieto, San Jose, CA
  • Juan Ortíz, Raleigh, NC
  • Patricia Marie Perea, Albuquerque, NM
  • Felicia A. Ramos, Chicago, IL
  • Martha Ramos Duffer, Psy.D., Austin, TX
  • Omar Robinson-Rodriquez, Atlanta, GA
  • Annette Marie Rodriguez, Albuquerque, NM
  • Sophia Simon-Ortiz, student Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
  • Omar Torres, San Jose, CA
Reactions:
Note: No anonymous replies will be allowed on this page.

Puerto Rico: Same-sex marriage ban does not advance... for now

In a morning session of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives sponsors of a measure to ban same-sex marriages in the island apparently pulled the bill and sent it back to the island's House Judiciary Committee for further review.

According to legislative observers this indicates that proponents of the constitutional amendment did not have enough votes to pass the measure by the needed 2/3rds majority. A Senate version of the bill had already been approved in November by the Puerto Rican Senate.


The measure, better known as "Resolution 99," would have also banned the recognition of any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman - including civil unions or domestic partnerships (for gay or straight couples) - and was heavily promoted by a number of fundamentalist religious institutions, as the Associate Press reported this morning.

The House Judiciary Committee will now review "La 99" and decide whether to recommend its passage or its tabling giving LGBT rights advocates more time to gather support against the amendment.

Here is a video of Puerto Rican students in Spain, as well as members of some of Spain's LGBT rights organizations, protesting "La 99" this past weekend in Madrid (El Nuevo Dia covered the Spanish protest here).


Previously: US Congressman Jose Serrano to Puerto Rican legislators: Do not discriminate against gays! (Feb. 27, 2008)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

US Congressman José Serrano to Puerto Rican legislators: Do not discriminate against gays!

[UPDATE: Feb. 28, 2008: Same-sex marriage ban does not advance in Puerto Rico... for now]

Puerto Rico's House of Representatives is set to vote tomorrow on a measure (known as Article 99) that would move forward a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in the Caribbean island.


The measure had been on the fast track until media alerted Puerto Ricans that the language in the measure would also ban future recognition civil unions for heterosexual couples (which do not exist in Puerto Rico at this time).

Easy does it: The legislative body is set to approve removing the language that would affect heterosexual couples in order to gather enough support for passage of the bill.

The phrase that would be removed reads: "No other union, independently of its name, denomination, place of origin, jurisdiction or similarity with marriage, will be recognized, or validated as marriage."

The measure would require 34 of 51 representatives to vote in favor for passage (or 2/3rds of the vote) but, if amended in order to remove language - as it is expected - it would have to be sent back to the Senate (which approved the more restrictive language back in November).

On the other hand, if the measure is approved without changes the measure would go into effect (according to El Nuevo Dia) as long as the legislative bodies also approve the budgets set for the implementation of the measure.

This is why it's so heartening that today US Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) - in an unprecedented move - warned Puerto Rican legislators that passage of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in the island might affect the Puerto Rican government's ability to access federal funding in the future.

In an article published today in El Nuevo Dia, Serrano says that passage of such an amendment would put Puerto Rico among those groups that promote hateful and discriminatory measures which might not be seen in a good light by the United States congress.

"This doesn't help me to seek assistance for Puerto Rico," he said during a telephone interview with El Nuevo Dia, "Puerto Ricans cannot ask demand equality and at the same time try to create discrimination."

Serrano said that he considered the constitutional measure to be such a serious issue that he was willing to break a 34-year personal policy of not making comments on issues local to the island.

Serrano told the paper that such a measure would make it difficult to ask openly gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, for assistance indicating that Frank was opposed to such discriminatory measures.

He also said that he was speaking up because he wanted to defend the gay community. "This bothers me because I see it as choosing a group to get even [expressing] all the fury of a society especially during an election year for fear of [losing] votes."

He urged Puerto Rican legislators to vote on their conscience and not on their fear and noted that he was the Puerto Rican legislator in the United States with the longest career and that he'd never seen anyone lose a seat on the issue.

"Experience has shown me that when you take a position that is morally correct, of not discriminating against anyone, and you look at a voter in the face and tell him 'judge me for what I have done and not for that vote because my conscience would not allow me to give it,' people respect you," he said.

One of his constituents was impressed enough to write Congressman Serrano a letter. You might remember that I featured Jorge Irizarry's comments - as an undecided voter - on his increasing disappointment with the Clinton campaign ("From an undecided Latino gay voter: Barack Obama and LGBT rights," Jan. 28, 2008).

Here is his letter to Congressman Serrano.

February 27, 2008

Hon. Congressman José E. Serrano

BRONX OFFICE
788 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, New York 10455

Re: Artículo 99

Dear Congressman Serrano:

I am writing as your constituent to express my most sincere appreciation for your statement opposing the nefarious “Artículo 99” currently debated in the House Assembly in Puerto Rico.

I moved to the Bronx from Puerto Rico in 1996. It has always made me very proud to see that on many civil, political and economical issues you are on the side of the hard working people you represent. I have written to you several times before requesting or applauding your endorsement of proposals I consider beneficial. You always reply and, you have never let me down.

I am very grateful that you broke your silence on Puerto Rican affairs to publicly denounce “Articulo 99” for the hate legislation it is and for showing the connection it has to groups that exist just to promote hate and division between human beings.

You can count that I will continue my unwavering support on your behalf in the future. We need more people like you representing us and giving us a voice. Once again you proved that SI, SE PUEDE!

Sincerely,

Jorge Irizarry, J.D.

Spanish-language GLAAD PSA features Sara Ramirez of Grey's Anatomy


Latina actress Sara Ramirez, known for her Broadway work in plays such as The Capeman, Dreamgirls and Monthy Python's Spamalot and, of course, her turn as Dr. Callie Torres on ABC's successful Grey's Anatomy series, has joined the Gay Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in a 30 second Spanish language public service announcement against discrimination that premiered today at Terra.com, the largest internet access provider in Spain and Latin America

The PSA was launched as part of GLAAD's "Be an Ally and Friend" campaign which features 22 public figures from television, film and sports.

"Sara’s beloved by millions of Grey’s Anatomy fans, which makes her a terrific person to share this message of support," said Monica Trasandes, GLAAD's Director of Spanish Language Media, "The fact that she delivers this positive message in Spanish will help many people understand how words can hurt the gay and transgender people around them."

Here is the translated transcript of the ad:

Hi, I am Sara Ramirez.
Discrimination and intolerance can affect our families.
What happens when this discrimination happens against a brother, niece, mother or uncle who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? Would you accept it?

For a more inclusive world say no to stereotypes and discrimination.

For more information please visit the Gay Alliance Against Discrimination - GLAAD.ORG

Musica: Sia's girl crush


Wasn't this one of the best series finale episodes ever? I admit that I couldn't stop bawling when it first ran on HBO. Eyes get moist even now as I watch it again.

As for the song that plays when Claire slips the CD into the car's stereo during that classic Six Feet Under episode (right around the 3:30 minute mark in the clip above)? That's Sia's "Breathe Me" which probably still haunts viewers even if they still don't quite know who the singer is.

At the time I didn't know who Sia Furler was. But since then, I've become a big fan. Particularly when I realized she was also the voice behind some of Zero 7's most memorable tracks including "Destiny," "If I Can't Have You," "Distractions"and "Spinning."

Here she is singing Zero 7's "Distractions" at a 2006 performance here in New York that I was lucky to see (I consider it one of the best concerts I have ever seen). She was incandescent:

Anyway, Sia has a great new album out ("Some People Have Real Problems") and is on tour and making the usual publicity rounds. I missed her at a Virgin Records in-store performance earlier this year and will miss her at the March 8th concert at Webster Hall (the show is sold out).

So, while doing the promotional interview round, apparently Sia sat down with the UK's gay mag Attitude and almost nonchalantly spoke of her crush on an American girl and the relationship that had developed between them. Yes, Sia is involved with a girly girl!

I was shocked! And happily surprised. AfterEllen has the details ("Sia's Coming Out").

If you'd like to know more about Sia check out her Myspace and her website. In the meantime, let me leave you with a live version of a track on her new album, "Lentil," from KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" radio show.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My New York: Court grants divorce to lesbian couple

Hey gay New York residents! You might not be allowed to marry - yet - but if you went to Canada (or Spain, I assume, or anywhere that allows same-sex marriages) and got a marriage license you might be able to divorce your partner.

This after a ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Laura Drager granting a divorce to a lesbian couple who were married in Canada in 2004.

As the New York Post put it this morning GAY SPLIT MAKES NY HERSTORY!

For a more nuanced take on what it all means, go straight to Arthur Leonard's blog:
I'll quote his conclusion:
We have entered a very interesting period of judicial activity in New York now, as one of the few states without a Defense of Marriage Act, with an executive supportive of same-sex marriage, with a state legislature in which one house has voted favorably on a bill to open up marriage to include same-sex partners, and with two jurisdictions on our borders (Canada and Massachusetts) in which same-sex marriages are legally contracted.

Media: Attention Washington Times reporters...

Former Washington Times writer Eric Pfeiffer has published an internal Washington Times e-mail message sent to staffers yesterday on style changes at one of the most conservative newspapers in the nation.

Among other things, the Times will now use the word "gay" instead of "homosexual" (except in clinical references or references to sexual activity), call undocumented immigrants "illegal immigrants" instead of "illegal aliens" and remove so-called "scare quotes" from the phrase "gay marriage" - now preferred over "homosexual marriage."

All good developments.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Argentina: President Kirchner to push for same-sex marriage?

It's no secret that I have been guarded about what the recent election of Argentina's first female president means for the LGBT community.

Back in November, in the wake of
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's election victory, I noted that while some had called her win a victory for the LGBT rights movement, most of the excitement was based on statements made by close Kirchner allies and not Kirchner herself. During her presidential campaign she rarely mentioned LGBT rights and was one of the few candidates that refused to answer an election questionnaire by CHA, the leading LGBT rights organization in the country.

Kirchner, as far as I know, has still been pretty quiet on LGBT issues but a new interview with yet another close Kirchner ally is raising some eyebrows on whether Cristina will actively endorse and push for same-sex marriage rights in Argentina during her first term as president.


The ally, María José Lubertino (pictured above), president of the governmental National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI), sat down with journalist Marcelo Helfgot to answer questions about her work.

Here are translated excerpts from the interview: which was published yesterday in Clarin:


Marcelo Helfgot for Clarin: Did the Kirchneristas give you the mission of capturing the gay vote?
María José Lubertino: No. I was given the mission of ending discrimination in Argentina.
[...]
MH: If women tag someone who they don't like as being machista or if a homosexual gets offended by a term as common as maricón, what is the limit?
MJL: There is a great debate as whether insults are discriminatory or not. We consider it a crime. And if the words are not meant to be used as an insult, what has to change is the lexicon.
MH: What words should I stop saying?
MJL: We all have to do a daily exercise in how we refer to other people. One can call one's girlfriend 'gordi' or 'gordita' ['fatty' used as a term of endearment] and we won't report it. We all know when we want to denigrate another [person].
MH: Are you going to release a manual of banned words?
MJL: We are in a campaign for people to change the way that they express themselves. Even through jokes or through newspaper headlines. When 'work in black' appears [?] we receive thousands of complaints.
MH: If something is done "by left" does the Communist Party object?
MJL: It's like that.
MH: Should language be changed?
MJL: Of course. The power of words condition the realities. In Europe, for example, they take the fight against discrimination through humor seriously.
MH: What a problem for humorists if we eliminate jokes about gallegos...
MJL: It is a problem for humorists, but I can guarantee you that there are ways to tell a joke without using a person's disabilities or skin color.
MH: With [former Argentine president] Alfonsin, the divorce law was established. Will Cristina's accomplishment be gay marriage?
MJL: I have no doubt.
MH: Did she demand that the Court approve gay marriage by order of the President?
MJL: If they didn't want me to advance this issue, they wouldn't have put me in
charge of INADI.

Mexico: Man stoned to death, blamed for "infecting people with AIDS"

Two reports over the weekend about a horrible murder in Acapulco, Mexico.

On Friday La Cronica de Hoy reported that the body of a man later identified as 48 year old Alejandro Fuentes Mejía was found abandoned on a dirt road near a hospital where he was employed. The man, who was still wearing an Institute of Social Security and Services (ISSSTE) uniform, was last seen at work on Wednesday.

Forensic authorities reported that the body showed trauma to the head, signs of torture and indications that he had been beaten to death. He was identified by family.

Today's Novedades de Acapulco says that the man was beaten with rocks and asphyxiated. The body was found with his hands tied behind his back.

Unfortunately, violent deaths are not an exception in Mexico but what caught my attention about this particular murder was the sign that was found on top of Mr. Mejía's body.

La Cronica says letter written in black ink on a piece of yellow cardboard read: "This is what happens to me for going around infecting people with AIDS" [Eso me pasa por andar infectando de sida a la gente].

Irresponsibly, La Cronica's headline reads "For spreading AIDS, an employee of ISSSTE is executed in Acapulco."

I assume they are going by the sign found laying on the man's body as described in the police report and that they have yet to establish whether the man was HIV positive, much less "spreading" the illness.


In addition, though I can't assume that the man was gay, the language in the note is striking because it is the same language that the extreme right in Latin America uses against the gay community when blaming it for the general ills of a society (as do homophobic extreme right wing bigots in the United States).

It wouldn't surprise me at all if this turns out to be a hate crime against a gay man although I doubt there'll be much follow-up.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Democratic presidential candidates on the death of Lawrence King

NOTE: MEMORIAL SITE FOR LAWRENCE KING HERE

If you have been reading some of the other LGBT news blogs or any gay media you probably have read about the tragic death of
Lawrence King (pictured) on Tuesday, February 12th in Oxnard, California.

King, who was only 15 years of age, was shot to death by a 14 year old classmate at the E.O. Green Junior High School aparently as a result of anti-gay sentiments brought up by King's incresed openness about his sexuality and his willingness to dress in ways that challenged perceptions of gender (it makes me wonder about the sort of environment in which the teen that shot King was brought up).

The Los Angeles Times has followed the story with incredibly moving pieces (here, here and here) with the New York Times finally devoting some extensive coverage earlier today (San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter has also had extensive coverage).

Personally, I have been following the developments and wondering if the presidential candidates might speak to this terrible killing.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama released the following statements within the last 24 hours:

BARACK OBAMA:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2008
Contact: Obama Press Office; (312) 819-2423

Statement on the Death of Lawrence King

Chicago, IL – Barack Obama today released the following statement on the death of Lawrence King.

“It was heartbreaking to learn about Lawrence King’s death, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. King’s senseless death is a tragic example of the corrosive effect that bigotry and fear can have in our society. It’s also an urgent reminder that we need to do more in our schools to foster tolerance and an acceptance of diversity; that we must enact a federal hate crimes law that protects all LGBT Americans; and that we must recommit ourselves to becoming active and engaged parents, citizens and neighbors, so that bias and bigotry cannot take hold in the first place. We all have a responsibility to help this nation live up to its founding promise of equality for all. “

---

HILLARY CLINTON:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2008

Contact: Press Office, 703-875-1271
press@hillaryclinton.com

Statement From Hillary Clinton
On The Memorials For Lawrence King

“I was deeply saddened by the recent death of 15-year-old Lawrence King who was killed at his school in Oxnard, CA. No one should face intimidation or violence, particularly at school, because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender identity.

“We must finally enact a federal hate crimes law to ensure that gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are protected against violent, bias-motivated crimes. We must send a unified message that hate-based crime will not be tolerated.”

Friday, February 22, 2008

Musica: The Epochs. Again.

OK, kiddies. The Epochs' CD is out (check them out on MySpace, their Barack Obama lovin' blog, at Sneak Attack Media or on Blabbeando).

Last time I included a link to some shoddy YouTube vids I uploaded from their Feb. 12 show at the Mercury Lounge in NYC but the sound was atrocious. I am here to make amends by featuring a trio of live vids captured by Black20.com.

We'll start with our new favorite from the debut album: "Mouths to Feed."


Then we'll move on to our previous favorite, "Opposite Sides."

And we'll finish with a tasty "Right On."

Tasty, no? Well, go buy the album already!

This Tuesday: Gays Gone Wired @ Therapy

Originally I had planned to attend Tuesday's OffSprung! event - organized by the Empire State Pride Agenda - to hear some of my favorite bloggers talk about blogging (yes, I admit it sounds rather navel-gazing of me). It would have also been a chance to meet Rod McCullum of Rod2.0 as well. Unfortunately, Rod will not be able to make it and I have been recruited as a - gulp! - panelist.

I'm not so sure about being a mega-blogger (compared to David Mixner, Good as You and Queerty I'm more of a mini-blogger). But let's see how it goes.

The shin-dig is at Therapy, this coming Tuesday at 6:30pm.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My New York: A History of Gay Bars

With rumors that the city is moving to shut down the few remaining sex clubs in the city, and the Meat Packing District all but a shadow of what it used to be, there are some of us who miss the vibrant and eclectic manifestations of what gayness used to be in New York (and, no, I don't mean the Disney version of upwardly mobile, 'Chelsea-fied' or - nowadays - 'Hell Kitchen-ified', gentrifying current mold of gayness).

From time to time we get pitches for stuff that people want me to plug on this blog. I am sorry peopl'z. I try to stay away from advertising stuff or promoting things that I don't find groovy.

So imagine my surprise when I get a message that directed me to the following blog:
I clicked on it expecting to find some boring mumbo-jumbo but, lo-and-behold, I found myself enthralled!

Apparently, the bar historian has been hitting some of the most widely read gay blogs for promotion because earlier today both Good as You and Joe.My.God featured it (with Joe unearthing news that The Spike will be reopening in the near future).

Also - apparently - I'll be sharing a panel podium with the Good as You'er sometime next week. The topic? Blogging for the gay masses (details to come).

In the meantime I am still wondering just what "Matinee Toliet Tactics" entail in the 1980 Mineshaft flyer above (lifted from the above mentioned blog). I do have an impressionable mind, mind you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Argentina: A gays-only bathroom at a beach resort

Speaking of anti-gay discrimination in Argentina:

Earlier this month a gay couple decided to spend a day at Dixon Beach, a Paraná Island resort area located in Argentina's Rosario district.

Imagine their surprise when, needing to use a bathroom, they noticed the above sign ("Homosexuals Gays Faggots") posted on the door of one of the six bathroom stalls.

Andres, one of the partners only identified by his first name, quickly took a snapshot with his cell phone camera and sent it to media site Rosario3.

He tells the news site that initially he mistook it for being a gay-friendly gesture. "At first sight it appears to be likeable, amusing and even welcoming, but later it really disgusts you," he says, "furthermore, the others say 'Gentlemen and Ladies' and, under that criteria, there should only be one [sign] that says 'Heterosexuals.'"

He tried to open the door but it was locked.

Juan Cabrera, the owner of the recently inaugurated resort, told Rosario3 that there was no discriminatory intent with the sign and that it was just a joke that had been misinterpreted by the couple.

"We left it without a latch so that it was for the exclusive use of the people [who work here]," said Cabrera, "and the sign was more than anything a joke used to restrict access."

"I did not have a bad intention, nor did we want to discriminate against sexual minorities, I am a sexually open man and I would never things with that intent," he added, "If it was interpreted that way I apologize with all veracity because I do not want to anger or bother anyone. It was a joke and if I have to remove it I will."

Argentina: Authorities shut down gathering space for bears

Speaking of bears...

A few weeks ago I got news that the meeting place for the Buenos Aires Bear Club (Osos de Buenos Aires) had been abruptly shut down on January 23rd by police right in the middle of what had been a birthday celebration for a club member.

Jump back to October of 2005: When journalist Rex Wockner told me he was heading down to Buenos Aires I told him to contact da' bears and maybe pay them a visit. He did.

Let's say he was impressed. So when I got the news that the Oso clubhouse had been closed, I alerted Rex.

Rex, in turn, wrote up a summary of the events leading up to the police crackdown and the contradictory reasons given by authorities for his weekly international LGBT news column. You can check it at this Windy City Times link (2nd story down, it features a photo of Rex at the Oso clubhouse).

Not much to ad myself. Only that in the club's website - under "Events" - they still say that the clubhouse remains shut down (they still meet on Sundays at the Contramano bar).

For those of you who understand Spanish, there was a great Feb. 2nd OpEd piece by Graciela Mochkofsky in Perfil calling into question just how gay-friendly Buenos Aires is in light of the apparent attempt of intimidation by the authorities and the fact that the clubhouse remains closed.

In the OpEd Mochkofsky says that the club had already been shut down once by authorities in February of 2006 following allegations of noise violations but the club, which is a non-profit organization, had successfully applied for the appropriate permits and had been able to reopen.

This time María Rachid, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans (FALGBT), tells Mochkofsky that two inspectors visited the clubhouse on February 21st to make sure it was closed. When the club explained that they had gotten the proper permits, the inspectors stepped inside anyway and later said that everything seemed in order except for one thing: They warned that there were no condom dispensers in the bathrooms for people to purchase using coins.

The bears, Rachid said, were more than surprised: "At several places throughout the site baskets are always kept full of free condoms provided by the national government to the Bears as active participants in campaigns against AIDS."

No matter. The inspector insisted that condoms should be available for sale and not given away for free (in her column, Mochkofsky notes that - as absurd as the demand might seem - she remembered that a while back authorities had also threatened to shut down a lesbian bar under similar allegations that no condoms were being offered for sale to the bar's clients).

The authorities came back on the 23rd and shut down the club.

This seems to be the type of police harassment that was so prevalent in Latin America during the past few decades but coming from as "gay friendly" a city as Buenos Aires it still shocks. Let's hope that the bears regain access to their lair sooner than later.

By the way, a few years back a television show from Chile featured the Osos de Buenos Aires. Here is a look at the segment:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Adil Doukali on bisexuality and being a gay Muslim

Adil Doukali (pictured above), the 32 year old Moroccan man who won the Mr. Bear Spain 2007 sash last summer - and then drew heated criticism for comments he made about his sexual orientation during a nationally televised gossip show - has sent me a link to a new interview he did with a Spanish gay magazine called MOXOW.

Although I can't find a direct online link to the interview, a .pdf version of the magazine can be downloaded here (the interview is featured on page 9 of the magazine).

Here's my translation of the interview from the original Spanish:

MOXOW: Why did you decide to present yourself at [Spain's] 2007 Bear Fest?
Adil Doukali: Simply because I'm a Bear. I have a beard, I'm hairy, handsome, I had what the contest required. In my opinion the Mr. Bear contest is, before anything, a "beauty" contest, which is to say that people are judged on aesthetic terms. I match the Bear aesthetic.
M: You were named Mr. Bear 2007 last summer and you went on with a normal life until you appeared in an Antena3 show. Why did you want to appear on television?
AD: I thought it would be interesting to show that a Muslim Moroccan man could be gay. I also thought we would talk about the bear world.
M: Nevertheless things became complicated.
AD: The show's hosts stopped asking about this subject and went directly to the topic of religion. If you ask me what the Koran [says] about homosexuality I will say the same thing that I told them, that it's a sin. It was very harsh [for me] when they showed a segment taped outside a mosque and asked my countrymen about me, showing them photos of me in underwear which had been published in Hot Bear magazine - to be naked in public is a sin in the Muslim religion.
M: What we didn't understand was your desire to return to a good path by marrying a woman. Can you explain?
AD: I am bisexual and it's true that one day I may want to marry a woman. It's a possibility. What happens is that if you ask me who I am, I would tell you that I am gay. Because in Marroqui culture - and also in mine - to be gay or bi, is the same thing because in either case you sleep with men. People did not understand that a boy who says he is gay [can also] declare that he wants to marry a woman. For me bi and gay is the same thing. There were people and journalists who said that I regreted being gay and this I never said, nor is it the truth.
M: What was your reaction to everything that happened [after] that show?
AD: It hurt me that people didn't try to get in touch with me before printing that information. It surprised me that a lot of gays [reproached] me and did not want to accept that a bisexual could be Mr. Bear.
M: That is something that is still not clear to us. A bisexual can participate in the Mr. Bear contest?
AD: I wasn't told anything before participating nor was I asked anything. After the show on Antena3 I remained with the organizers of the contest. The only thing I was told was that it would have been better if I hadn't said that I was bi. But they didn't give me trouble nor was I stripped of my title as many have said.
M: Do you regret appearing on that show?
AD: No, even if things got pretty bad afterwards. The news even came out in Morocco where my whole family lives. My mother and my sister had a rough time. They wouldn't leave the house for fear of people. There were rumors that I would be killed. I have friends there who used to say I was a very good person who now say I am a woman.
M: At the very least in Spain things are better?
AD: A lot of hetero people recognize me in the streets. And that's what I wanted, that the Bear [lifestyle] reach heterosexual people. Nevertheless a lot of people have not understood me, I have work colleagues that don't greet me [Doukali works as a home painter], don't talk to me or throw insults at me. Even the old Mr. Bear 2006 took it up against me in a Barcelona magazine, calling me false and telling lies about me.
M: We hope you're not also angry with us.
AD: Nah, you are the only ones who have agreed to interview me to know what really took place. I get angry if I'm not given the possibility to tell the truth and respond. You have listened to me and that's why I respect you.
M: Well, thanks, and to finish the interview: Do you know if you are heading to San Francisco for the selection of Mr. International Bear?
AD: Well, at the moment I don't know a thing. The contest takes place in February and to date nobody has gotten in touch with me. If they ask me to go, I'll go.

The annual International Bear Rendezvous ends today in San Francisco and the International Bear competition took place last night. No word on whether Adil made it to the event or won any new titles.

Previously on Blabbeando:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gaybriel's favorite stereotypes about gay Latino men


An excerpt:
Gloria Estefan was popular twenty years ago, but you’d think she’s published relevant music every day since. Let me break it to you dear reader: Gloria is an average singer at best. I hate to get all the Cuban-American glittery g-strings in a knot, but por tu vida, please get a new gay idol.
More at Guanabee

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Colombia: One Bogota notary office, a hundred same-sex partnership registrations

Norberto Salamanca might not be a gay but he's certainly seen his share of same-sex couples come through his office doors to request his services.

Norberto is a notary public in a country that relies on notary offices for a wide assortment of legal agreements and Notary Office 76 - which he oversees - happens to be in the heart of the Chapinero neighborhood which is gay central in Bogota.

It's been a year since Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled "that gay couples in long-term relationships should have the same rights to shared assets as heterosexual couples" (AP, Feb. 8, 2007).

The Court indicated that same-sex couples who wanted full control of their joint patrimony (or shared assets) only had to swear under oath and before a notary public to the fact that they had been together for longer than two years.

On Monday, El Tiempo reported that more than 100 same-sex couples had already registered their partnerships at Notary Office 76 during the past year and that it was not the only notary that had registered same-sex couples (Bogota's Notary 40 had 22 on file and Atlantico's Notary Office 1 had seen a dozen couples from cities in the Caribbean coast register their partnerships).

Interestingly, while the Court took pains last year to explain that their ruling should not be interpreted as giving the green light for same-sex civil unions or marriages, some of the couples that have registered their partnerships at Notary Office 76 have made a ceremony out of it.

Mr. Salamanca tells El Tiempo that he's seen couples and guests carrying wedding invites in their hand, reading statements, taking pictures of the event and exchanging rings. Some couples kiss each other to seal the ceremony.

It's not all groovy. Joao Herrera, notary public at Office 1, says that some couples have expressed fears of being seen at the notary and being outed. Mr. Salamanca says that he has received letters in which he has been taken to task for "attempting against morality."

Some notaries, say a few advocates, also have refused to register same-sex couples. But openly gay lawyer German Humberto Rincon Perfetti (above) says that he's been successful in challenging some of the notaries in court when they have refused to do so.

In the meantime, Colombian same-sex partners living outside the country have also taken note of the law. Couples living in Spain, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico have traveled to their home country to register their partnerships as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Musica: A stunning debut by The Epochs

What: The Epochs debut LP "The Epochs"
When: Out on Feb. 19th, 2008
Related Sites: The Epochs Webpage, The Epochs MySpace, The Epochs Blog, Sneak Attack Media
Sounds like: Radiohead, Hot Chip, early Peter Gabriel, Crowded House, The Beatles, early Bruce Springsteen, Prefab Sprout, Prince, Carrie Underwood (hm, ok, I might be stretching it with that last one but if that's what it takes to make you buy it...)
It's been a while since I've been as blown away by a band I've just discovered (the last time I remember being this impressed was with Hot Chip's "The Warning") but - watch out folks! - The Epochs are here.

Or maybe I should say that The Epochs discovered me since I was graciously sent a copy of their debut CD a couple weeks ago and it's pretty much dominated my music listening hours ever since.

Rumors say that brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay have been toiling the midnight oil for years, passing demo tapes here and there and even releasing a 2003 EP (now selling for $199.98 on Amazon).

But that doesn't necessarily explain the poise, self-assuredness and maturity of this band in their debut album - even taking into account that they have since added bassist Kevin Smith and drummer Kotchy. I've listened it from start to finish, delving here and there, trying to find reasons not to be so taken by it, and it has just been a failing mission. So - WTF! I give in!

Things get off to a rockin' start with the apocalyptic "Thunder & Lighting" (cities will burn under the sun indeed!), which just serves as an appetizer for the stunning "Opposite Sides" - the best track on the album - which then bleeds into the album's 1st single "Love Complete" (video below):

And then it's just another bunch of great memorable tracks including "Moth to the Flame," "Right On," and "Giving Tree." A proper full album altogether from start to finish which few bands even attempt nowadays.


It's always tricky to compare any band to others because it might set up unfair or erroneous expectations but I doubt anyone will be disappointed by picking up this beauty. I'll just say that The Epochs are more dynamic and daring than any band I've heard in ages, with a sense of melody to match that of bands such as Crowded House (and that is saying a lot), and glittery synth stabs that make it so easy to compare them to Hot Chip even if I think they are actually better.

Then again, when the string section comes in or that piano line soars like no other, there's just no comparison as the warmth embraces you and you just go along with the ride.

If you need to sample some of the sweet, sweet sounds you can always explore The Epochs' MySpace page or hear the following tasty morsels:
Other reviews:
UPDATE: The Epochs, live at the Mercury Lounge (Feb. 12, 2008) - 6 videos in all, apologies for the sound distortion and fuzz (QRO Magazine review here):

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Back from the Dead: Bloggers at Creating Change

Here is the thing: I never get sick. I don't know why. That's just the way it is. So when I began to cough and sniffle last week I hoped it would not turn out to be my first bout with the flu virus since the start of the millenium. Specially as I had a scheduled trip.

Instead, it was a miracle I made it to Detroit on Thursday for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference - and survived to tell the tale!

Let's just say I spent Thursday and Friday having an out of body experience in my hotel bedroom (at least that's what I call it).

And that I managed to get in good enough shape to boogie the night away last night in the company of comedian Kate Clinton and her partner, Urvashi Vaid (a former Task Force Executive Director); Lorri L. Jean, Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center (also a former Task Force Executive Director); and a hundred or so other revelers who honored activist Trishala Deb of the Audre Lorde Project in a secret annual ceremony that ended with a "Pomp and Circumstance" march down the elevators into the Detroit's Marriot Hotel Renaissance Center (Shh! Don't tell anyone!).

Back in New York tonight, feeling much better. Day off tomorrow so I might very well have recovered 100% by the time I get back to work.

One good thing: I got to meet some other bloggers at a small get together organized by Bilerico. Pictured above (l-r): H. Alexander Robinson from the National Black Justice Coalition; Lane Hudson, the former Human Rights Campaign staffer who exposed Florida State Representative Mark Foley for his indiscretions; blogger Wayne Besen; Bilerico's Bil Browning; former GLAAD staffer and current PR maven Cathy Renna; Bilerico's Jerame Davis and - hm - yours truly (even though I don't think I was feeling my best just yet as the photo was taken on Friday).

Here is more about Bilerico contribuitors. Here's Mike Roger's take.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

In this week's Gay City News...

Today's Gay City News has an article on the strength of the general support that Hillary Clinton enjoys in New York and California. I've been quoted in support of Barack Obama. Read on here.

It had to happen: Como se dice, como se llama (O-Bama, O-Bama)

It had to happen. From Amigos de Obama: "Como se dice? Como se llama?..." to a reggaeton swing...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The day after: Latinos and La Hillary

Look at the picture above. One of them is running for the presidency of the United States and, if you guessed it was the Charytin look-alike, you get a prize!

Why, yes! That's Hillary Clinton - looking tanner than I have ever seen her - and her adopted familia! Not that wrapping yourself around a whole Mexican-American familia doesn't help anyone get some votes, mind you, but still a bit cringe-worthy to yours truly who 'gets' the concept of familia and Latinos but still think it's a crass move by la Hillary (specially with that orange skin tone).

It also screams - at least to me - that all Latinos are alike when - also at least to me - the image pitches a Mexican-American / California type of Latino familia that fails to reflect other Latino communities. Particularly in the North East. Not that Mexican-American's are not part of the United States Latino community but it does seem as if the campaign feels that as long as they include some Latino faces on their campaign materials - regardless of their ethnicity or national background - we will all respond equally to the pitch (Note to the Clinton campaign: Ask New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on how to pitch to the Latinos, as masterful as he was at it during his mayoral campaigns).

Today everyone's talking about Latino voters and how they came through big time for Clinton in New York and California.

A more nuanced view by Robert Lovato over at The Huffington Post shows that, despite the fact that Latinos did go big for Clinton, nationwide they also reflected the general pro-Barack Obama trend of the past couple of weeks:

"Obama succeeded in dropping Clinton's Latino advantage from 4-1 - 68% to 17% according to a CNN poll conducted last week- to 3-2 last night," he says, "And in almost every Latino-heavy state that voted Super Tuesday, Obama received more than the 26 percent of the Latino vote he got in Nevada just 2 weeks ago."

Call it spin but it certainly matches the overall national trend.

By all accounts, the Democratic race for the presidential nomination is too close to call with some saying that Obama won both the top number of states and the top number of delegates last night and others saying that the upcoming primaries and caucuses bode well for Obama.

Me thinks that, when it comes to the Latino vote and if it proves to be the deciding factor, we will have to wait until Texas in March.

One thing that I agree with is that the Obama camp needs to step up it's Latino outreach and pronto. They might be surprised by how many of us out there might be willing to help out.

I mean, the latest Gallup poll has Clinton opening up the lead (h/t Andrew Sullivan).

Previously: