Monday, March 31, 2008

Homophobia and racism in soccer, part 65

Newspapers throughout the world have tried to adopt elements of the blogosphere, some by inviting some readers to create their own blogs on their online pages. Mexico's El Siglo de Torreón is no different.

Earlier today, one such blog post found my way and I didn't know what to make of it. It listed a litany of quotes from a Hugo Sánchez, which I gathered was either a soccer player or a coach (Sue me! I'm not much into soccer!) and included the following beauts:

* "He is a fag and he will be rewarded by his pedophile leanings" (referring to Leo Beenhakker [a renowned Dutch football coach currently leading a Polish soccer team] after winning 4-1 in the azulgrana).
* "I'll cut the negro's throat. I will [defecate] on the mother whore that gave birth to that negro" (referring to Castillo, a player of the Santos Laguna in the pre-Olympic trials).
* "The Brazilian negros's at the American Cup 2007... They looked like the Congo, speaking with all respect. You looked to one side and there were four negros warming up, you looked at the other and there were five and three more on the field."

A caveat: I'm not sure whether these quotes are accurate (after all, they were posted by an anonymous Torreón blog author who calls himself GeneralDisarray) but I now know who Hugo Sánchez is (thanks to MachoChip and the Associated Press) and how he just got fired yesterday as the official Mexican Olympic soccer team coach after the team failed to gain a spot at the upcoming Olympics.

That's right: He got fired because his team did not perform to expectations. NOT because of his past comments (if the quotes above are true).

Let's hope that somewhere in the future we will come to a time when no one involved in soccer who makes these sort of statements can even been considered for employment.

Previously:

Ecuador: President Correa on same-sex marriage, abortion and including 'God' in the constitution

After two weeks in which front page headlines blared that members of his own political party were pushing for changes in the Ecuadorian constitution that would 1) remove existing constitutional language protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation; 2) ban the official recognition of any sort of same-sex partnerships be it through marriage or civil unions; 3) determine that life starts at conception and ban all forms of abortion; and 4) enshrine the word "God" in the magna carta, President Rafael Correa (right) finally went on the record and addressed these issues in his weekly radio show on Saturday.

As Ecuador Inmediato (freebie online subscription needed) reports, Correa said the following:

On same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex partners: Correa stated that it wasn't even gays and lesbians who were asking for the right to marry. Instead, he said that it was a "story invented by certain communication media" and by groups that wanted to make an issue out of it to distract voters and to draw opposition to a new draft of the constitution.

"Every person has dignity, in other words, one must respect a person independently of their sexual preference," Correa stated, "Be careful on denying employment to someone based on their sexual preference, this is discrimination, that is unconstitutional."

But when it came to specifics he didn't offer many.

"Let it be clear that the profoundly humanistic position of this government is to respect the intrinsic dignity of everyone, of every human being, independent of their creed, race, sexual preference, and that [the government] will seek to grant certain guarantees to stable same-sex unions, but without ever arriving at the point of marriage."

To me this sounds more like the piecemeal approach to partnership rights that has been taking place in Colombia in which courts have ruled that same-sex couples have the right to share and inherit belongings without necessarily recognizing civil unions or same-sex marriage. In this respect, Correa might be ceding ground to those who would deny same-sex couples any recognition of their partnership through civil unions while extending a few protections of their joint belongings.

El Comercio seems to back this up. In their coverage they say that Correa gave an example: "Now, if one dies, the other cannot inherit anything, for this reason we will give certain guarantees to the stable gay couples, but matrimony will continue to be reserved for a man, a woman and the family."

On abortion: Correa said that abortion wasn't even a constitutional issue and that the government was already in agreement with "defending life" (according to this site "In Ecuador, abortion is allowed in cases of rape, but only if the woman is mentally retarded or insane").

"We believe that one of the duties of the State is to defend life, defend it from conception, we are - Sirs - the staunchest defenders of a full life."

On inserting the name of "God" into the constitution: Stating that Ecuador is a secular State that respects all religions, Correa said that the name of God should not be included in the constitution.

"If the name of God is not in the Constitution it doesn't mean that we are rejecting God, a secular state means that there is respect for all beliefs, but as there is respect for believers that have a particular religion, there is respect for those who don't believe there is a God, atheists,"said Correa.

He added, "If we [include] the name of God there is inclusiveness of the believers, but there is discrimination against atheists and that's a contradiction in a secular state, I am saying this as a practicing catholic and don't let those fundamentalist priests come to tell me 'There you are, Satan, 666, the anti-Christ,' because they want to take the name of God from the Constitution and I am pretty coherent in my beliefs."

Bizarrely, on this point El Comercio, disagrees with Ecuador Inmediato's coverage. According to El Comercio, Correa stated "If the majority wants the name of God in the Constitution, it will be. We want a Christian Ecuador, more just, with better income, without discrimination."

In any case, at least Correa is confronting right-wing fundamentalist leaders.

Related: Liking Ecuador tonight (Rex Wockner, March 31, 2008)
Previously:
A push to eliminate constitutional protections for gays and lesbians (March 26, 2008)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

SacraVato's Gayest Look

What's yours?

UPDATE (as of April 1st, 2008): Jay Leno has apparently apologized, according to GLAAD.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Film: "Las Dos Caras de Jano" to premiere at 24th Annual Chicago Film Festival

Las Dos Caras de Jano ["The Two Faces of Janus"], a thriller produced and filmed in Puerto Rico based on a novel by Wilfredo Mattos Cintron, will be premiering on April 5th as an official selection of the 24th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival.

It's the second time that Puerto Rican actor Modesto Lacén (PBS's My Family and Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights) has played the role of detective Isabelo Andújar after Desamores which was released in 2005 and brought a modest review from Variety. Both films were directed by Edmundo H. Rodriguez.

Of interest is the fact that the basic plot of the new film revolves
around a serial killer who is targeting closeted gay men in the island. When an acquaintance of Detective Andújar is murdered soon after he comes out to him, the detective races to catch the killer in order to prove that the man's wife is not his murderer.

According to press materials, "The investigation uncovers prejudices against gays in Puerto Rico, the shaky ties between college buddies, and countless other truths."

Mattos Cintron is known as a political writer who has advocated for Puerto Rican independence and been part of peace and justice movements in the Caribbean and, in these novels, he seems to be writing in the vein of Walter Mosley and his Easy Rawlings detective series, particularly with a black detective as the protagonist. These issues seem to have been preserved by script writer Gilberto A. Rodriguez who adapted both novels for the screen.

This is why I am intrigued about how they tackle issues relating to homosexuality, bisexuality, being closeted and racism in a Puerto Rican community that still has deep pockets of homophobia combined with machismo.


"Las Dos Caras de Jano" has also been submitted for consideration at the New York International Latino Film Festival set for July of 2008.

You can check the Director's MySpace page here or a Spanish language movie trailer below.

UPDATE 1: The film will also be shown as part of the Havana Film Festival New York on April 14th at the School of Social Work of Hunter College and on April 16th at the Quad Cinema. More info here.

UPDATE 2: J's got a review of the film over at his blog ("Review: Las Dos Caras de Jano / Two Faces of Janus," April 7, 2008)

Costa Rica: President Arias designates May 17th as "National Day Against Homophobia"

My friend Francisco Madrigal, a long-time LGBT rights advocate from Costa Rica, sent me wonderful news earlier this week.

On Wednesday, the Costa Rican government released Executive Decree 34399-S with signatures from President Oscar Arias Sanchez and Health Minister Dr. Maria Luisa Avila designating May 17th as the nation's official "National Day Against Homophobia."

The measure, which came at the request of the Center of Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America (Centro de Investigación y Promoción para América Central en Derechos Humanos or CIPAC), was actually signed on February 12th of 2008 and reads:

"Public institutions must amply disseminate the objectives of this commemoration. They also must facilitate, promote and support activities directed at the eradication of homophobia."

The May 17th date was chosen by advocates as commemoration of the date that the World Health Organization officially removed "homosexuality" as a mental illness in 1990.

Efforts to declare May 17th as an "International Day Against Homophobia" or IDAHO have been led by Frenchman Louis-Georges Tin and the International Lesbian and Gay Association as well as the Fondation Émergence in Canada.

There have been sporadic events and demonstrations throughout Latin America in past years on May 17th but this is the first time that I know of a Latin American president signing an official declaration recognizing the event.

In Mexico, LGBT rights advocates were successful in getting Mexico City to officially recognize May 17th as a "Day Against Homophobia" but efforts to have the federal government recognize a national commemoration have faltered.

Santo Gay unmasked! Why Jesús Chairez has decided to leave the US for Mexico

One of the very few US-based Latino gay bloggers writing about LGBT issues and politics has decided to leave his Dallas home and move to Mexico.

Santo Gay, who we have featured on our blog roll - and long known to be Dallas LGBT activist Jesús Chairez - tells the Dallas Voice that it's become impossible to keep up with the increasing costs of living in Texas. In addition, the Texas-born 54 year old also says that he is drawn to Mexico City because it's more accepting of LGBT people than Dallas has ever been.

"What I see here by caring, loving GLBT people with each other in public is more than I ever see in Dallas or most Texas cities, and this is another reason I am moving — to be more liberated as a gay man,” he tells the Dallas Voice, “Though I will miss Dallas, especially my friends, I won’t miss the not-so-friendly Texas hospitality our GLBT community gets from Texas’ conservative community."

Chairez is often called the "godfather" of the Latino LGBT movement in Texas and the accolades are well deserved. It will be a loss to the United States LGBT rights movement and a gain to the Mexican LGBT rights movement, if Chairez decides to become as politically involved in Mexican LGBT issues as he was here in the United States. We wish him the best of luck as well as our admiration for the legacy he leaves behind in Texas.

For the full Dallas Voice article and to see Santo Gay unmasked go to:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Queer eye for the Cuban male hustler

You might remember my post Queer eye for the migrant worker (Feb. 2nd, 2007). In it I took issue with a Manhattan gallery exhibit featuring painted portraits of migrant workers who had been paid to pose for a gay artist in Los Angeles.

I didn't question the artistic merits of the exhibit but I did ask whether the paintings were truly a "collaboration" between painter and subject - as the New York Blade writer described it - or whether the men were "not objectified" as the gallery assured potential visitors.

Never mind that, according to the article, the artist had "become fascinated with the mostly Mexican and Central American immigrants hoping to be hired for a day’s work as they wait on street corners near his Los Angeles studio."

Turns out this might be a trend!

Today Christopher Murray has an article in Gay City News ("Painting Cuba") about New York gay artist James Rauchman and his series of paintings depicting day to day life in Cuba. I won't be as harsh to Rauchman as I was to the other artist because I've checked his site and actually love some of his stuff (including the painting above) but the article certainly plays to the objectifying angle by featuring images of a Cuban male hustler in bed in the print edition as well as the online edition. Rauchman also says that his infatuation with depicting Cuba involved an "Ill-fated infatuation with a male hustler there" which seems to play out through some of the images on his site.

This rubs a raw nerve in me because I recently found myself in an online debate about gay rights in Cuba (always a thorny topic in itself) in which someone from Europe argued that Cuba was not the anti-gay bastion that people in the United States depicted (for the record - I agree that it's not).

His reasoning? A friend who had just returned from Cuba on an academic visa had told him that he'd been able to bed as many young Cuban hustlers in his hotel room as he wanted, that the police didn't seem to care that he'd picked them up in plain daylight, and that the hotel staff didn't seem to mind him bringing men to his room. Proof, according to him, that same-sex liaisons were permitted in the island and not seen as out of the ordinary.

Call it a pet peeve of mine but I abhor sexual tourism and particularly in Cuba where hustlers are out to make a buck from wealthy left wing tourists - sometimes out of necessity - but still do not have the means to leave the island or are allowed to do so if they so desire.

At least Rauchman addresses some of the dynamics at play in Cuba in the GCN interview.

As for Cuba, I do believe that there has been a sea change in the government's approach to LGBT issues and the BBC reports today on some of the advancements ("Castro champions gay rights in Cuba"). And I predict that Cuba will continue to advance on LGBT rights and perhaps have a same-sex union bill by 2010.

It still does not allow dissident and non-dissident LGBT rights organizations or leaders to speak for themselves. Or acknowledge the wrongs it has done to the LGBT community in the past. Until that day, I will still criticize Cuba on LGBT rights.

Denver's Gay and Lesbian Latino Alliance closes its doors

News of the closing of Denver's Gay and Lesbian Latino Alliance (GALA) comes to us from La Gente Unida through their quarterly e-mail bulletin.

I have taken the liberty to re-post the full message sent to bulletin subscribers. More information on the bulletin at the bottom...

LA GENTE UNIDA NEWSLETTER (April through June 2008)

THE NONPROFIT GAY AND LESBIAN LATINO ALLIANCE recently dissolved and donated its bank balance to the nonprofit Latin American Research And Service Agency (LARASA) to start a scholarship fund for Latino gays and Latina lesbians.

Always using the acronym GALA (not GALLA) throughout its duration the past 18 years in Denver, the alliance started in 1990 as a project of People Of Color Consortium Against AIDS (POCCAA), a nonprofit agency where long-time Chicano activist and visual artist Carlos Santistevan was employed at the time. POCCAA initially planned to start a Latino HIV support group, but discovered that such a group already existed. POCCAA then started the advocacy group GALA, which soon became a spin-off of POCCAA.

Because he is not gay, Santistevan enlisted the help of two Chicano gays in starting GALA. A long-time organizer who believed in self determination, Santistevan upheld that it was vital for a Latino gay group to have Latino gays as co-founders. Enrique "Honko" Montoya and Robert Garcia-Williams were the Chicano gay men who joined Santistevan as co-founders of GALA.

In the same year that GALA got started in 1990, Santistevan and Montoya sought the legal help of Walter Gerash, a nationally-known civil rights lawyer whom Santistevan and Montoya knew from the days of their 1960s involvement with the Chicano nonprofit Crusade for Justice of which Montoya's father and Santistevan were among the incorporators. Gerash's legal expertise was pursued by GALA on behalf of Edward Modesto, a gay Latino whose 17-year military career was in jeopardy due to facing a court martial when U.S. Army officials learned Modesto was gay. Gerash stated in the Denver media at the time that the Modesto case generated national concern among gays and lesbians, who saw Modesto as a symbol of persecution of their lifestyle.

"This treatment of human beings will be as dead as a dodo in your lifetimes," said Gerash to the media in 1990 regarding the Modesto case, which predated the military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy.

Throughout its long and rich history, GALA was the annual sponsor of the "Mr., Miss and Ms. Gay Latino" pageants that each year raised hundreds of dollars that were donated to Denver-area charities. The annual pageants always had an awards ceremony at which several community activists, such as long-time Chicano gay activist Donaciano Martinez and the nonprofit La Gente Unida, were honored. Some awards were named after GALA co-founders Montoya and Garcia-Williams, both of whom died in the 1990s.

In the spirit of its autonomous origins, GALA always was and remains unaffiliated with any other Latino gay or Latina lesbian group in Colorado. With its formal Articles of Dissolution on file with the Colorado Secretary of State, GALA is now a defunct organization. In compliance with the law that requires a dissolved nonprofit corporation to donate its remaining funds to an existing nonprofit, GALA recently donated its bank balance to LARASA, which was incorporated in 1964 as the first Latino nonprofit 501(c)(3) agency in the U.S.

"Now that GALA has been laid to rest, that does not mean GALA's spirit is dead. With the donation of GALA money to LARASA to start a college scholarship fund for Latino gays and Latina lesbians, the spirit of GALA lives on as a new chapter in its 18-year existence," said Santistevan, the sole survivor of GALA's co-founders.
---
About the newsletter:
This newsletter is provided by La Gente Unida, Inc. lagenteunida@hotmail.com
P.O. Box 11714 Denver CO 80211 Voice mail: (303) 831-6086.
We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) group whose purpose is to educate ourselves and the public about issues of concern to Latina lesbians and Latino gays. We are an all-volunteer group with no paid staff. We provide: speakers for classes and other public forums; periodic lobbying on legislation and ballot initiatives; newsletter and updates; and, a referral network about resources in the community. Donations to us are tax deductible.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ecuador: A push to eliminate constiutional protections for gays and lesbians

Ecuadorian Assemblymember leads push to remove constitutional language that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Show anyone from Ecuador a photograph of Rosanna Queirolo (left) and they will probably recognize her.

A former model, television news anchor and triathlon athlete, Ms. Queirolo ran for the Ecuadorian National Assembly on a platform promising to protect the environment and to provide a bridge to the Ecuadorian immigrant community in the United States and she won.

Immigrant rights! Environmental protections! Stunning beauty! What's not to love?

Well, since joining the Assembly she certainly has made an impact but not necessarily on environmental issues (she has admitted in interviews that her interest on environmental issues is recent and stems for her admiration of the work of former United States Vice President Al Gore on global warming, not that she has any environmental protection experience or capacities).

To her credit, she did do a photo shoot at the Galapagos Islands for a coffee table book printed by her ex-husband which they supposedly developed to promote the island's natural beauty (I assume the bikini was bio-degradable).

But I digress.

Instead of making a mark as an environmentalist, Queirolo has instead come to prominence for her embrace of the country's nascent ultra-conservative Christian Evangelical movement and for championing a few of their interests.

On abortion: In a YouTube video uploaded last week that is also being prominently promoted on her website, Queirolo is asked in a television interview if women who are raped should have access to abortion. She first tries to avoid the issue by raising questions as to whether women who are victims of rape are actually at high risk of becoming pregnant [these particular translated comments come in at the 2:56 mark]:
We should also know that the product of that rape, in the majority of the cases, a woman is not left pregnant. Why? Because we have to see if that woman is fertile. Two: Normally, the woman doesn't ovulate due to her state of anxiety. And three, 58% of men who commit rape have a sexual dysfunction, in other words, they have premature or tardy ejaculation, for these reasons it's very difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
Yikes! You don't need to be pro-choice to detect the dismissiveness of those words. Only Ann Coulter could get away with such a statement on American television.

Queirolo, who has advocated for the constitutional recognition of life at inception, goes to argue that if there is a pregnancy, the woman should have the baby and let him/her in the care of a government agency if she elects not to raise it. And - big surprise! - she blames "sexual minorities" for policies that allow people to abort [at the 4:o4 mark of the video]:
We are talking about the issue of 'sovereignty of the body' which was created by groups of the extreme-left - feminists, sexual minority groups, travestis, transsexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals [interviewer tries to cut in and express his surprise at the comments; Queirolo finishes her statement] ...this concept was created by sexual minorities who defend the right of people to make decisions about their own bodies, to abort whenever they want to abort, to practice euthanasia whenever they want to practice it, and something much more dangerous, including something as important as abortion." (emphasis added by yours truly).
OK, then!

The drive to kick gays out of the constitution: In 1998 Ecuador became the first country in the Americas to adopt constitutional language granting protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

But now, under President Rafael Correa, the country is looking at yet another stab at re-drafting the constitution.

Enter Queirolo and her religious supporters.


A week ago today Queirolo stunned some legislators, including some from her own party, when she stood up at a public hearing and asked the Constitutional Assembly to consider changing parts of the constitution pertaining to "sexual orientation". She claimed that the word "orientation" should be changed to "preference" since, in her interpretation, the former word also pertained to "pedophiles and other degenerates" (El Universo, March 22, 2008).

Outraged, members of the LGBT community responded by sending messages to legislators blasting Quierolo's comments and rejecting her attack on vulnerable communities. In a new blog set up by the LGBT rights organization Friends for Life Foundation (FAMVIDA), activists posted an image of a young man being crucified for being a "maricon" (you might recognize the image from this previous entry).

They ask supporters to send messages to Assemblymember Queirolo expressing their repudiation of her comments respectfully by writing to queirolorossana@hotmail.com and rossana.queirolo@asambleaconstituyente.gov.ec with a CC: to other Assemblymembers at asambleistas@asambleaconstituyente.gov.ec and miembrosasamblea@asambleaconstituyente.gov.ec. They also ask to post copies of the letters on their blog.

In the meantime, Queirolo has been talking to members of the press and expanding on her comments:

"The best thing would be to remove the words 'sexual orientation' and to include 'sexual preference.' The word 'orientation' leaves the door open to pedophiles, to bestiality" (El Universo, March 25, 2008)

"Sexual orientation can include not only homosexual, bisexual and transsexual groups but also pedophile organizations... God created us to procreate and the only way to procreate is through the union between a man and a woman. Any human invention cannot fit within a constitution" (El Universo, March 25, 2008).

She also added that God should be named in the Constitution as the ruler of mankind.

Evangelical groups react, promote ex-gay therapies: Not surprisingly, right wing religious denominations grabbed on to the spotlight on Queirolo and announced that they were on their way to gathering 2 million signatures demanding that God's name be included in the constitution, that abortion be penalized and that same-sex marriages be banned. Otherwise, they said, they would ask their followers to vote against any new constitutional drafts that did not include these three demands (El Universo, March 24, 2008).

By the time they held a vigil yesterday, they said that they had already gathered 100,000 signatures and were also demanding that the Constitution declare homosexuality a "a pathological state of a human being" and that it guarantee access to treatment for rehabilitation of gays through "therapies based on psychology, science and Christian faith." Two members of the PAIS political party, Assemblymembers Balerico Estacio (an evangelical preacher himself) and Teresa Benavides, joined them.

PAIS political party member Rolando Panchana said he agreed with the demands when it came to banning abortions but distanced himself on the other issues stating that he considered that calling gays "sick people" was discriminatory.

Assemblymember Tania Hermidia, also from PAIS, rejected their petition outright and said that the proposals "reveal a profound ignorance in what concerns human rights, the new [constitution] will have to expand on already conquered rights" (El Universo, March 25, 2008).

Official repudiation?: Despite some of the comments by some of the PAIS Assemblymembers above, most legislators were so disturbed by Queirolo's comments that there were internal calls for an official condemnation of her statements (Queirolo, as well as President Correa, are also from PAIS).

Instead, members of the PAIS party are said to be drafting a statement unequivocally stating that same sex marriage, abortion and the invocation of the name of God are not constitutional matters and will not be considered in the new constitution.

Fernando Cordero, Vice President of the Assembly, told El Universo that "Those who promote this debate seek to tarnish the name of the Assembly, to divide Assemblymembers and the Ecuadorian people" (El Universo, March 26, 2008).

So it appears that for now these drives to undermine protections for gays and lesbians in the Ecuadorian constitution seem to be dead on arrival. Unfortunately, expect some of the same ugliness in months and years to come particularly if Queirolo remains in the Assembly.

Update: President Correa on same-sex marriage, abortion and including 'God' in the constitution (March 31, 2008)

My New York: Wanna be in a Langhorne Slim video?

Troubadour Langhorne Smith (left courtesy of Crackerfarm Photography) will be performing "Restless" live tonight on the David Letterman Show in advance of the launch of his self-titled debut which will be out on April 29th, 2008.

But big news, shoppers! You too can be a video star! The band is shooting a video for "Rebel Side of Heaven" this Monday from 2:30pm to 6:00pm in a Lower East Side location and they'd like a live crowd feel for the shoot. And - here's the thing - they want YOU to be there.

If you are interested, send a quick e-mail to slimvideo@kemado.com so they can send full details by Friday.

Sneak Attack records has graciously provided access to the MP3 here so download and practice, practice, practice - and maybe you'll be seen mouthing the entire lyrics!

You can check out more Langhorne Slim at their MySpace page here.

Here's a video for "Be Set Free"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Musica: Rap boy rap!

We all have them: Memories that inexplicably remain embedded in your brain throughout your life despite having no discernible purpose. For me, one of them was noticing a black and white flyer announcing a show by a band called Thompson Twins touring in support of their 1983 "Sidekicks" album (Originally, when it was released in the UK, the album was called "Quick Step & Side Kick," a much better title).

I only knew their "In the Name of Love" single but I wasn't sure I was ready to plunk down money on the show. Years later it is the one live concert that I have always regretted not attending. Maybe that is why the memory still remains.

Still, this week - more than 20 years after their original release - I am glad to report that two Thompson Twins classic albums have gotten the deluxe treatment. Sorta.

Those of us from the "New Romantic" generation idolized these albums. As an artsy fartsy geek I certainly dug the three-headed Thompson Twins logo, Alannah Currie's hair-do, and their bitchin' fashion sense (I knew a couple of guys who took it to the next level and dressed like them). And with space-age suicidal songs like "Kamikaze," celebrity stalking murder songs like "Judy Do," and betrayal songs like "Love on Your Side" what teen could be immune? (I mean, "If You Were Here" was featured in "Sixteen Candles" with MOLLY RINGWALD!! Enough said!).

Most importantly: Some of also discovered that the tape cassette version of the records had the full album on one side and a dubby groovy remixed version on the other side (who knew tape cassettes could hold so much music?).

Jump forward to 2004. Superfecta Recordings, which specializes in re-releasing 80's classics, goes through the painstaking process of remastering the originals and releasing "Quick Step & Side Kick" in an "expanded" edition with four extra tracks (here) and their 1984 "Into the Gap" with two extra tracks (here). But watch out for the wrath of 80's geeks! Superfecta were eaten alive for the limited additional material considering the wealth of music still out there.

Enter Edsel Records this year with definitive 2-CD package versions (here and here). They include ALL the cassete dubby versions PLUS the released 12" mix LP mixes and B-sides making them an 80's music geek lover's dream come true! 'cept that reviewers are now complaining about their quality since, unlike Superfecta, Edsel apparently did not remaster the recordings.

Hm. As long as I get B-side classics such as "Leopard Ray" and "You Take Me Up (Machines Take Me Over)" I don't think I'll mind. I guess I will wait until I get the new versions to pass judgement on the sound.

In the meantime, here is "You Take Me Up!" from "Into The Gap" (though the "Machines Take Me Over" version is fiercer). Long live Thompson Twins!

Dominican Republic: Gays seek more visibility

Michel Lavers, Mid-Atlantic Editor of EDGE Publications, recently spent a few days in the Dominican Republic reporting on life for gays and lesbians in the island. His article can be found at "An Open Door: Gay Dominicans seek more visibility" (EDGE New York, March 24, 2008).

You can find more of Michael's writing at his blog Boy in Bushwick.

For the article he also interviewed one of our favorite bloggers: Monaga.

Originally from Harlem, Monaga moved to the Dominican Republic back in 2004 and has never looked back.

His blog is the place to go if you want to find out what gay life is like in Santo Domingo.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spanish language TV reality show features Latino boxers, promotes respect for gays and lesbians

Something startling is taking place at Azteca America Sunday nights at 8PM (check local listings). The fastest growing Hispanic television network in the United States has a reality show called "Retador Azteca" [Azteca Challenger] in which they pit eight up-and-coming Latino boxers from the United States against eight Mexican boxers. The boxers live in a "reality" home and one from each team faces one another until the final two meet up at the grand finale which will take place at the Las Vegas Caesars Palace on May 18th.

Yeah, I know, amazing!

Thing is that all the "challengers" are required to go on camera and agree to a set of principles that include the following:
  • Domestic violence is not a way of life. Protect others.
  • We challenge you to protect yourself when you have sex. Remember: AIDS still kills.
  • We have gay and lesbian friends and as Azteca Challengers we are respectful of people living their sexuality freely. Gays and lesbians are part of the Azteca Challenger family.
  • We all have the same rights. Do not discriminate against anyone.
It might sound a bit didactic but I, for one, am impressed. It certainly carries a message to audiences that are rarely reached. Let's hope other Spanish language networks will follow their lead.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My New York: Charles Ober for City Council

UPDATES:
On March 2nd, I mentioned that a few friends - all openly gay - were considering running for the City Council in Queens making some of the local match-ups some of the most interesting in the upcoming city-wide elections.

On Tuesday, one of them made it official: Charles Ober, who I have known for more than a decade, threw his hat into the ring.

Although certain areas of Queens remain conservative (and in this case Charlie would, if elected, take an open seat vacated by a Republican councilmember who resigned in a sexual scandal), Queens is certainly not the land of Archie Bunker anymore.


That's a picture of Charlie I took in 2004. I am biased but I think he'd make a great city councilmember. Here is the press release announcing his candidacy:

OBER FOR City COUNCIL
For Immediate release

March 18, 2008

Contact: Saverio Esposito
718-641-4414
Email: rgse90 @aol.com

CHARLES J. OBER CANDIDATE FOR CITY COUNCIL 30TH COUNCIL DISTRICT

Charles Ober today announces his candidacy for city council in the 30th city council district covering the Queens communities of Glendale, Liberty Park, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven. Mr. Ober will run in the election to fill the unexpired term of councilman Dennis Gallagher who announced his resignation yesterday. Charles Ober, a resident of Ridgewood for over 27 years, is a civic leader who is an officer and board member of a number of local community organizations.

He is currently 1st Vice President of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, Treasurer of the Asian-American Consulting/New Land Community Center, President of the Ridgewood Democratic Club, board member of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corp., legislation committee member of the Queens Civic Congress, and a member of the President’s Roundtable Advisory Board at La Guardia Community College, the Richmond Hill Kiwanis, and the Steuben Society.

The civic work of Mr. Ober in all these community-based organizations in recent years has included advocacy for quality of life issues including sanitation, graffiti, policing, housing, preservation, and various community projects including after-school programming, educational forums, membership services, legislative advocacy, non-partisan voter registration, advocacy for city capital projects and fundraising.

Charles Ober stated today, “My extensive civic work provides a clear choice for the voter in the 30th Council District. My experience and civic work provide a firm foundation upon which I can base my service to the community in the City Council. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle the problems our communities face, including flooding and sewer under-capacity, safety of railroad crossings, overdevelopment, historical preservation and policing. I intend to run a positive campaign about my ideas for preserving our communities and our quality of life. I am particularly proud that

I most recently led the civic effort for the Queens Civic Congress that led to the passage of a graffiti nuisance abatement law in the City Council.”

Charles Ober worked with City Council members in the graffiti nuisance abatement bill drafting and organizing civic groups in support of the bill. Previous attempts to pass a similar bill over many years had failed. The graffiti nuisance abatement law, enforcement of which began in 2007, gives the city the authority to enforce cleaning of buildings of graffiti that mars our neighborhoods where absentee owners refused to sign waivers.

In 2003 Charles Ober co-founded the Coalition for a United Ridgewood, a coalition of churches and civic groups to bring the community together after the redistricting of Ridgewood. That effort led to an award from the Citizens Committee for New York City. He is past president of Queens Pride House, a community health advocacy center founded in Queens Borough Hall and now located in Jackson Heights. The past two years Mr. Ober has led the efforts to restore the historic Ridgewood Democratic Club building.

Charles Ober graduated from Marist College and has an M.B.A. in quantitative analysis from St. John’s University. He is currently a financial executive with a local building supply company. He was in the teamsters union and department stores union before that.

Bill Richardson endorses Barack Obama

An excerpt from the endorsement statement sent out overnight (h/t: Bilerico):
As a Hispanic, I was particularly touched by his words. I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants--specifically Hispanics-- by too many in this country. Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result and now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats and I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences--and place blame on others not like them . We all know the real culprit -- the disastrous economic policies of the Bush Administration!
From the New York Times this morning:
As the nation’s only Hispanic governor, Mr. Richardson could become a champion for Mr. Obama among Hispanic voters, who have been a key voting bloc for Mrs. Clinton in the primaries thus far. And his endorsement is also notable because he is a friend and admirer of Mrs. Clinton, and was widely viewed as a possible running mate for both her and for Mr. Obama.
That speech earlier in the week which to many of us felt to be courageous, historic and moving - but failed to move many a television, press or online political pundit - seems to have been a catalyst in the New Mexico Governor's endorsement. I assume there might have discussions as to a possible Vice Presidential nod as well even if I don't necessarily see an Obama - Richardson ticket down the line.

A note: In his endorsement the Governor calls himself "a Hispanic." Sure, I have people describe themselves as Hispanic or of Hispanic background but I have never heard someone call himself "a" Hispanic. Perhaps it's a regional thing?

Reminds me of a national gathering of Latino LGBT leaders in which levels of tension rose on whether we should describe the community as being Latino or Hispanic with left people evenly divided between Northerner Latinos and Southerner Hispanics (we avoided a civil war by ultimately using both terms).


The New York Times might be right. Richardson's endorsements might bring in additional support for Obama from Lati.. - ehem - Hispanic voters in the primaries and caucuses ahead. And that's my hope. But I have a feeling that the impact of the Richardson endorsement will be regional rather than national when it comes to the Latino/Hispanic community, much like his appeal as a presidential candidate to specific Latino communities throughout the United States.

In any case, thank you, Bill Richardson.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Retired Miami lawyer ordered to pay Brazilian gay lover thousands depite being married to US woman

A Brazilian court has ordered a retired lawyer from the United States to pay thousands of dollars to his young Brazilian male ex-lover despite being married to a woman from Massachusetts.

According to court papers, retired US attorney Daniel McIntyre - who lives in Miami - carried a four year romance with a young man in Brazil who he eventually named to be his representative on business ventures he'd developed there, including a footwear company. The relationship began in 1999 but by 2003 it had turned sour.

The court ruled that the young Brazilian man did not have the right to demand an equal claim to all of Mr. McIntyre's patrimony but said that he had a right to sue for half the earnings that the retired attorney had made in Brazil. They based their decision on previous rulings by various Brazilian courts recognizing the rights of same-sex partners.

According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Mr. McIntyre is appealing the decision claiming that the only person that can have a claim to his fortunes is his wife (who lives in Massachusetts). He admits that at the beginning of the relationship with the Brazilian young man there was some sexual contact but denies that it was in any way romantic or that it should be construed as having been part of a stable partnership.

This despite the fact that the Brazilian man was able to show that, in the United States, Mr. McIntyre lived in a different city than his wife and was all but separated from her. He also submitted documents showing that Mr. McIntyre took him on several international trips, named him on a joint health benefits plan and put his trust in him when it came to the management of his money and businesses in Brazil.

According to O Globo, the Court settlement ruling ordered Mr. McIntyre to release to his ex-lover "a farm in the Rio Grande Do Sul, two automobiles, two apartments in Porto Alegre, a house of a thousand square meters in the same city, half of the actions of a footwear company, and income from financial actions of more than $86,000 US dollars a month."

The ruling is fascinating to me because it crosses borders and makes an American accountable for his liaisons with a boy toy elsewhere. We'll see where the appeal goes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Speech reactions

Here is a sampling of excerpts from reactions to yesterday's speech by Barack Obama on race, religion and the presidential race from other blogs I read frequently:

Unlike Kennedy, he was not born to great wealth, pedigree or expectations. What this speech, and his willingness to deliver it, his skill at doing so, the passion in it, represented is what I mentioned second, a quality of mind that is very, very high, certainly in the same league with Kennedy, perhaps surpassing him. I don't know if it will save Obama's candidacy; those who would find a reason not to vote for him now have one, if they didn't already, and as I saw tonight on the monitors at my gym, CNN is still flaying the Wright outtakes and pumping its pundits as if Obama had not said a word today - J's Theater

Having been in the civil rights movement for over forty years, I have heard numerous speeches dealing with race in America. In my mind, this speech occupies the same rank as Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Granted the rhetorical flourishes were missing but the substance, honesty and bravery of this speech was simply stunning. He did not duck the tough issues no matter what the political consequences. The Senator bared own personal journey and those that came before him to the entire nation - David Mixner

This searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime. It is a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation. Its ability to embrace both the legitimate fears and resentments of whites and the understandable anger and dashed hopes of many blacks was, in my view, unique in recent American history - Andrew Sullivan

I thought this was one of the best speeches of his career, and one of the most nuanced speeches on racism of any Presidential candidate with perhaps the exception of Shirley Chisolm. I think one people will be critiquing and debating for years to come - Kenyon Farrow

In Obama's speech I was reading the words of a man that gets it, regardless of the fact that he is a candidate for President of the United States of America that resonate with me on this issue. That he is this close to becoming president of this country -- and to risk it all by cracking open this door on a painful area of this country -- is something I thought I would never see. He is giving voice to a healthier view on race relations that needs to be embraced from a stage where it's hard to argue that it is not an issue worth tackling - Pam Spaulding

I am convinced now more than ever that Barack is the president that we need to move our country forward and to help us create a more perfect union - Bloggernista

He stepped up to the plate, and talked about race and what it has meant to this country. I have been killing the guy since day one to get just a little real, so when he does, I am going to give him credit - The Field Negro

The brilliance of the speech instead was evidenced by the way he leveraged the issue of Wright's comments to examine not only the reality of African-American life, particularly for those of the minister's generation, but also the fears, resentments, and anger that the issue of race has spawned within the nation's white majority. In doing so, Obama's words were significant not only in what was said, but as well in what was not said - Paul Schindler, Editor in Chief, Gay City News

In some ways the furor over the incendiary sermons by Rev. Jeremiah Wright played right to Obama's strengths -- a controversy he could address with a powerful speech, expertly delivered. Certainly anyone with an open mind who heard Obama speak so forcefully about his love for country and faith will accept that no part of Obama agrees with his pastor's outrageous statements... For the immediate future, however, Obama did not do all that he could have to relieve legitimate doubts raised by the controversy - Chris Crain

The question I have is, when will Hillary give her address on race issues? Why was it necessary for Obama to repudiate Rev. Wright when Hillary has so reluctantly distanced herself from racist statements coming from her camp? Why is it Black people always have to take on the responsibility of educating the rest of society on race? - Bejata

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if Obama could stand up and say: "I agree with a lot of what that pastor says! We do act like terrorists sometimes. And whitey is a mean, oppressing motherfucker who's made life hell for us!"? And if Geraldine Ferraro could stand up and bray: "I have to admit, I was idiotic to suggest that being a black man would be someone's entrée into the White House! Perhaps the fact that not one black has ever been allowed to come close would have been a pretty good clue!"? - Michael Musto who blogs here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Speech


Damn if you do, damn if you don't. This morning I got to work later than I have in quite a while. The reason? Barack Obama's speech on race, religion and the presidential race (YouTube video above, transcript here).

It was as moving a political speech I have heard in ages. Maybe ever. And it really hit the ball out of the ballpark in addressing the issues - while transcending them - and calling them for what they really were: An attempt to steal the Democratic nomination from the person who leads in the popular vote as well as the delegate race (I also learned how to pronounce the word chasm!).

Or at least that was my take.

This afternoon proved to me just how divided people are, at least when it comes to the Democratic presidential candidates. Personally, I think it stems from the hurt that Hillary supporters feel that her once supposedly unstoppable nomination has been all but derailed. Nothing that Obama does will be enough to convince some Clinton supporters that he is the real deal and that, should Obama win the Democratic nomination, they should vote for him.

When I first expressed my support for Obama on the eve of the Iowa caucuses (caucusi?) he certainly wasn't being accused of empty inspirational oratory (as a matter of fact he'd been pretty boring at some of the Democratic debates before then). I 'came out' for Obama purely on his record and his stand on LGBT rights. It was seen then as a risk considering how few of New York political movers and shakers had come out as Obama supporters.

Looking back, I am thrilled that I decided to express my support. And, even if he ultimately is not the Democratic nominee, I will be eternally proud that I endorsed Obama relatively early and that he has proved to be much more than I even expected back then.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

On immigration, a couple of out-of-the-box advocacy tools


As a long-time immigration rights advocate, some of the most indelible memories I have are the couple of times I visited immigration detention centers in New Jersey along with Will Coley. I have been to many an asylum court hearing acting as as translator but it was shocking to realize that local detention centers are run by independent contractors (much like Blackwater USA is contracted to do the dirty stuff in Iraq and Afghanistan) and that some people are held indefinitely and are rarely provided access to legal representation, translation services, or hearings.

I also have been at many a political asylum hearing (also as a translator), so when Will sent me a link to the YouTube video above, I certainly recognized some of the asylum court procedures that the video parodies (Will wrote the clip's script which was taped as a response to a YouTube contest launched by the Movement Vision Lab).

On the same vein, I also received info about a BreakthroughTV video game called "ICED - I Can End Deportation" in which "you can step inside the shoes of one out of five immigrant teens, each of a different ethnicity and immigration status," according to press materials.

Not sure how I feel about the immigration issue becoming an internet video game, even if it's for the right reasons (plus I am always weary about organizations reaching out to 'the kids' by using new technology), but you might as well give it a try and tell me how it goes! Haven't played the game yet so I am not sure if the game programmers did a good job or not. In any case you will be able to test it before I do and give us feedback.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A word or two from Washington, DC


This blogging thingie is bringing me some interesting opportunities.

In February, I was drafted for a panel on
blogging and the LGBT rights movement in which I shared a stage with a personal hero, David Mixner.

Recently, I was also drafted to a panel on the international LGBT movement that took place last weekend in Miami with an array of international LGBT leaders including
Glen Murray, the first openly gay mayor to be elected to office in a North American city (he was named the mayor of Winnipeg, Canada, in 1998). I was in awe as he gave a moving presentation on his life as an openly gay politician and his recent efforts to find safe refuge for foreign LGBT immigrants escaping their home countries due to persecution based on sexual orientation.

Recent months have also brought an increased openness about support for the candidacy of IL Senator Barack Obama - including efforts to get other LGBT Latinos involved in the campaign. An official press release will go out in the next few days but after weighing the pros and cons of actually becoming involved with the campaign, I have accepted to be an adviser as Co-Chair of the Obama LGBT Latino Comittee (Gloria Nieto is the other Co-Chair). More on that on a later date.

Then last week,
Michael Rogers of Page One Q and Blog Active, suggested I look at a blogger summit taking place this weekend in DC and, well, here I am.

The summit, organized by the
New Organizing Institute, held at the Center for American Progress, and sponsored by The Arca Foundation, Media Matters for America and the Center for Independent Media, has brought together an impressive number of progressive political bloggers from throughout the United States.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pam from Pam's House Blend, meet other Latinos doing political blogging including the wonderful Marisa Treviño
of Latina Lista and Man Egee from Latino Politico, and exchange blog-roll links with The Field Negro - who happens to be my roommate for the weekend (more about him here).

Not sure that my blog necessarily fits with the profile of some of the others - particularly those that write exclusively about state politics - but it's been an interesting weekend.

The list: