Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chile: Mexican team wins international gay volleyball tournament

There is a perfectly nice article in today's Mexican news daily Milenio about a gay volleyball team from Mexico winning what they call the First International LGBT Volleyball Tournament this past weekend in Santiago, Chile ("Mexico wins international volleyball tournament for homosexuals").

To win the championship, the Mexican Union team beat others from Colombia, Chile and Peru. A second Mexican team, Traks, came in third.

"We are very happy with the quality of this event and for each and everyone of the players," said a member of the winning team, "we hope to be the hosts next year."

The event was organized by the Chilean Gay Volleyball Association and sposnored by the National Institute of Chilean Sports, the Chilean Volleyball Federation and the Chilean Integration and Liberation Movement.

All very nice and dandy and good of Milenio to cover it. But someone should tell the person loading images at the Milenio site that gays would rather not be called putarrones (loosely translated as 'big fags').

The title they gave the image above? "Voli-putarrones" [at the Milenio link above, right-click on the image and download it to see the image name]. Oh well, at least the actual coverage didn't go there.

Update: Reuters on cloudier prospects for a same-sex marriage bill in NYS

From Reuters:
New York is close to becoming the first state to pass legislation making gay marriage legal but, like many political issues in the state capital Albany, it has fallen victim to a power struggle.

Democrats won a majority in the upper house Senate for the first time in more than 40 years in the November 4 election, but three Democratic senators refuse to back fellow Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith as majority leader without concessions.

The Republicans could regain their power in the Senate if the three Democratic senators, who include longtime gay marriage opponent Sen. Ruben Diaz, opt to vote with them.

"I will not give my vote to a leader that will bring gay marriage to the state," Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, said in an interview. "Have a voter referendum. Let the people decide"...
Read on: Power struggle complicates NY bid for gay marriage (Reuters, Nov. 26, 2008)


Monday, November 24, 2008

Richard Rodriguez on Prop. 8 and the aftermath

In Latino activist circles, Richard Rodriguez has always been the black sheep of the family... even among Latino LGBT activists... even after he came out...

The (current? former?) NPR commentator and PBS News Hour panelist drew ire for arguing that Latino immigrants should learn English upon arrival in the US and for defending his allegiance to the Catholic church. But deeply, secretly, I have been such a fan.

Weird. I have to say that I am not a religious person. And that I also have been supportive and in awe of ACT UP's daring (and still controversial) action at St. Patrick's Cathedral back in 1989 (something that Rodriguez doesn't share).

But tonight's piece ("Why churches fear gay marriage") is such a snapshot at why Prop. 8 opposition failed among some Latino Californians that I'd be remiss if I didn't share.

An excerpt:
...the real challenge to the family right now is male irresponsibility and misbehavior toward women. If the Hispanic Catholic and evangelical churches really wanted to protect the family, they should address the issue of wife beating in Hispanic families and the misbehaviors of the father against the mother. But no, they go after gay marriage. It doesn't take any brilliance to notice that this is hypocrisy of such magnitude that you blame the gay couple living next door for the fact that you've just beaten your wife
The full read is illuminating. Click on the link above to read it.

Update: The Gang of Four... no, Three... hm, Two... er, None?

Despite doing some huffing and puffing and threatening to introduce a statewide referendum to ban same-sex marriage in New York State last week, there has been no indication that the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. - a New York State Senator - actually did such a thing.

The Reverend, a Democrat, is among the biggest homophobes in New York State politics and has used his stand on same-sex marriage and his opposition to abortion rights to endear himself to Senate Republicans over the years.

This year, as Senate Democrats gained the upper hand from Republicans by a slight margin, the Reverend saw an opportunity for a power-grab and joined three dissident senators who threatened to vote with Republicans on key issues unless their needs were met (according to Gay City News Diaz wanted "an assurance that either the same-sex marriage bill will not be brought to the Senate floor for a vote or that a statewide referendum be held on the question").

The so-called "Gang of Four" threatened to withhold support for Malcom Smith for majority leader come January demanding that Latino elected officials also be given prominent posts (three of the four dissidents were Latinos).

Within hours, though, the "Gang of Four" was just "Three" as Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate announced that he would back Smith after all (Monserrate, who has a great track record on LGBT, apparently received certain assurances from Smith in return so the whiplash switch wasn't purely altruistic).

Then on Friday came a potential shocker: Politics on the Hudson speculated that the next to abandon "The Gang" and back Smith would be Diaz himself ("'Gang of Three' meeting today").

That Diaz might abandon "The Gang" has been rumored since last week but news that he might actually back Smith? The same Diaz that issued a press release on Nov. 10 with a direct dig at Smith that read "my position as an ordained minister and a pastor will not allow me to support any would be leader that will bring gay marriage to the Senate floor"?

At least one [anonymous and GOP-leaning] blogger hypothesizes that this might mean that Smith has come to the conclusion that he will not have enough votes for a same-sex marriage bill as majority leader and might sacrifice a marriage vote for Diaz' backing - which would mean Diaz would have actually kept true to his stand even if he backs Smith.

Not sure I buy that scenario.

Still, as Elisabeth Benjamin reports today in The Daily Politics, Smith has accepted an invite to an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration staged by Diaz which will take place tomorrow.

Bizarrely, Senator-elect Pedro Espada - the third Latino in the original crew of four and the one least likely to make overtures to Smith at this moment - seems have agreed to support Diaz' same-sex marriage referendum as part of Diaz' conditions for remaining in the "Gang of Three."

I seem to remember that when Espada wasn't trying to be Diaz's BFF he was seeking LGBT support for his campaigns (the two were literally each other's nemesis for decades). Does this mean that if Diaz ends up splitting from "The Gang," Espada will drop his support for a referendum banning same-sex marriage?

Ah! New York State politics, don't ya love the stench of how things get done in the Empire State?


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dominican Republic: Gay beauty pageant to go on despite earlier threats from local governor

LGBT advocates in the Dominican Republic are up in arms over conflicting reports that the Governor of the Santiago province might ban a drag show / beauty pageant scheduled to take place next month.

As EFE reported on Thursday, Governor José Izquierdo appeared at a local radio station for an interview and announced that the authorities would not allow the Dec. 27 event to take place because it "undermines the morals and good customs of the Dominican society."

The article says that owners of a local gay bar where the event is scheduled to take place said that only 13 of 27 homosexuals had qualified for the pageant this year after a preliminary swimsuit competition. Owner Denis Gonzalez said that gays and lesbians had the right to live a normal life in society and reminded the Governor that the bar was a private establishment.

The bar is no stranger to media attention. Now called Tailú Bar, last year they staged what they promoted as a "gay wedding" under their former name Skrupulus which had Dominican media and local leaders all aflutter [same-sex partnerships have never been recognized in the island].

Online rumors had gossip reporter Francisco Sanchis as a judge and showbiz television personality Brenda Sanchez as the MC but yesterday they both told Diario Digital that this was not the case.

Sanchez said that she had been invited but had other commitments. She added that she didn't have anything against the gay community and would show her support when the time came to do so but also said that she was "a Christian woman and family-oriented"

Sanchis said he was neither in favor nor against the event and would attend if invited but not as a judge. He said that everyone had the right to choose what made them happy.

Today, El Caribe reports that LGBT rights advocate Leonardo Sanchez, director of the non-profit organization Friends Always Friends (ASA), said that Governor Izquierdo's plan to ban the event was discriminatory and threatened to take the issue to the International Court of Human Rights.

Izquierdo (left), for his part, backtracked from the comments made on the radio last week and now says that he has no legal power to stop an event that takes place in a private establishment.

"If they do the pageant in a closed space, respect the time limits for serving of alcohol and do not allow entry to minors under 18 years of age, we have no problems," he stated but also said that if any of these rules were violated he would shut the event down.

"They have the right of doing their activity within the legal norms of the Dominican Republic, personally I do not agree," he added.

Reporter Sanchis, who is from Santiago, went further in El Caribe than in his statements to Diario Digital yesterday and argued that it was time to end a certain Dominican 'double-morality.'

"What makes you a better human being are your feelings," he told El Caribe, "It is not your sexual preference nor your religion. I think that we have to end with that double-morality that exists in our country. We are not in agreement with these kind of things happening to us but, perhaps, after the criticism, we do worse things that the ones that will be done there."

Here is a news report from Dominican TV.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Politics: Bronx borough prez Carrion for HUD head? Vet this first!

Let's say I have never been a fan of Latin American caudillo politics even when local Latino politicians seek to recreate them here in the United States (see "Dizzying Bronx Family Tales Spawn Unlikely Alliances" from the City Room blog at The New York Times).

So while I am glad that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is emerging as a likely candidate for Commerce Secretary in the Obama government, I am less than thrilled to hear that current Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. is being considered as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Yes: Carrion, who in the past has been an associate pastor at a Bronx church, has been less homophobic than his Pentecostal preacher buddy (and State Senator) Ruben Diaz, Sr. - but he certainly has not taken a strong pro-LGBT stand and has tried to keep his involvement in LGBT issues on the down low.

In 2004, under his watch, his office allowed the largest ever anti-gay marriage rally in New York City (see photo above, more here) - and refused inquiries as to his office's involvement in allowing permits for the politically-biased demonstration (a "No to Homosexual Marriages, Yes to President George Bush's Amendment" banner was allowed to hang on the facade of the Bronx Court).

Grass roots LGBT orgs have also criticized his appearances (and lack of support) for Bronx pride events in 2006 and 2007.

I certainly don't want to be unfair or harsh to Mr. Carrion. In a great 2005 interview in Latino Journal he is asked about the brutal beating of a gay teenager and he responded as follows:
These tragic incidences demonstrate that we've lost a grip on sort of a moral barometer. Some people who talk about moral issues, will banish the gay community and the lesbian and transgender community as being immoral, which creates the environment that says, 'you can go out and beat up on these people because they are immoral.' What I've done with the clergy in the Bronx is to flip it on its head, because I say that the most tolerant community has to be the religious community. The clergy has a social responsibility to help us govern a society that is tolerant, accepting and embracing of diversity
I just wish he was on the record as to that huge anti-marriage rally in the Bronx, his office's lack of support for gay pride events in the borough and his views on marriage rights for same-sex couples in New York.


Ivy Queen is not a lesbian but raps like a man

Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Ivy Queen is no stranger to rumors that she is a lesbian or a transgender woman.

Online commentary, most of which make usage of the gay and trans tag despectively, probably stems from the fact that the 36 year old singer is one of the few female performers in the ultra-macho reggaeton world or the fact that her looks match the tough lyrics of her music and are not nearly as pop-friendly as Jennifer Lopez (think of a Latina Wendy Williams).

The singer, who was a recipient of a GLAAD award earlier this year, has always embraced her gay fans and never let the homophobic banter detract from her appreciation.

Last week she addressed some of the rumors in an interview with Hoy, a Dominican Republic newspaper ("Ivy Queen: 'I think like a man, rap as one, but I am no lesbian'"). The paper asked her if she was aware of the rumors about her.

“I have heard everything," she said, "but, look, I had a matrimonial relationship of eleven years and carry one of two, which is evidence of my sexual orientation."

According to the paper, the singer says that she "thinks, negotiates and raps like a man" since she doesn't believe that thinking like a woman is not a good idea in her chosen business (oh oh). She also expressed an interest to have children in the future.

As for the awards and honors she has received in the past, she stated “I got tired of awards, I don't think they make me more or less of an artist" and added that she was more interested in her album and concert sales (appropriately, she was visiting the Dominican Republic on tour and promoting her latest CD "Live").

I tried to find a video clip of her great 2005 single "Cuéntale" to no avail. Instead you get a clip of her appearance in "El Show de Cristina" with a bevvy of hoochie-mama wannabees in the audience.

Yes. She is a favorite among drag performers at East Coast gay Latino bars.

Sports Illustrated Latino is no more but Maximo is forever!

As all trends go, they do come to an end and this seems to be the case with the announcement that Sports Illustrated will stop printing issues of their Sports Illustrated Latino off-shoot after three years of publication.

The glossy Spanish-language quarterly, skimpy on content but big on ads from the auto industry and from the US military, was never sold on newspaper stands but was mailed to subscribers for free.

On Thursday, online publishing industry information site Portada indicated that this reliance on auto industry ads was ultimately what led to the magazine's demise at a time when the US auto industry seems to be on the verge of collapse. Subscribers will receive the last issue in mailboxes in the next few weeks.

And, trendwise, it's not the only Latino off-shoot publication that seems destined to end according to Latino Business Review.

So what does three years of SI Latino leave us? Well, it does leave our lives a little bit richer in that we would otherwise not have known about the 'exotic' Mexican lucha libre super star Maximo! And what would our lives be without him?

Although I also have some disconcerting news for all you Maximo fans out there (and if you are easily impressionable I suggest you stop reading this right this second).

How can I say this in a gentle way. Let me see. Hm. Sorry. There is no way but to tell it like it is: Maximo is **gulp!** not gay! He is just interpreted as gay. His real name is Jose Christian Alvarado Ruiz and he is married to female lucha libre fighter India Sioux.

Here is Maximo in 2007 in a Galavision show explaining why he chose to be an exotico:

An excerpt (beginning at 00:29):

Interviewer: We are very, very pleased to have amongst us a man who brings out many people - an exotic fighter. It's been a while since there was an exotic fighter who brought out so many people to the arenas as Maximo does.
Maximo: Well, it's a very beautiful thing, specially as you just said - that concept was lost - so I am happy about the public's acceptance.
Interviewer: Let's explain a little bit that concept to people because many will think, or some will think, well "Maximo is gay or isn't gay" which in the end is not what matters... they're gay... well, we know that in the case of Maximo "No," but that is what he simulates up on the stage. How do you explain this concept to the people.
Maximo: How to explain it! Well, part of what is an exotic, is a refined person who is well-behaved and detail-conscious, who always demonstrates his affection towards his mates and the public.

So as we bid farewell to SI Latino and to Maximo's gayness, let's just look at Maximo's biggest moments.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Colombia: A question for Miss Antioquia

From Monday's Miss Colombia Beauty Pageant in Cartagena during the Q&A segment...

Do you believe that a woman is the compliment of a man?

Miss Antioquia:
Good night to everyone
I believe that a man himself compliments a man
Woman with woman
Man with man
And also, woman to man, in the same manner, in the opposite sense
And we exist to give each other care
[audience members start to giggle]
To give ourselves love
A woman is the compliment of a man
In a very beautiful sense
Because love is given
And also provides care
Eh... the world is evolving
And each time we give more love to the men who... in the case of Colombia... used to be machistas once upon a time...
[audience applauds]

I could not have said it better myself! At the end of the night, Miss Antioquia emerged as the 3rd runner up. She was robbed!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to scare away the Latino vote: Voto Latino

The presidential elections are over. Obama won. Some say that the Latino vote was key in flipping states like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida (though the ones who say that are the ones who most benefit from painting Latinos as a powerful voting block). And even if that's the case it couldn't possibly have been thanks to this:

Oh my! Where to start. Well, the video was produced by something called Voto Latino, founded in 2004 "to promote an enfranchised America by leveraging celebrity voices, the latest technology and youth themselves to promote positive change" [Latino youth! Celebrities! Technology! Co-founder Rosario Dawson! Enfranchification! Yay!].

But wait! Pray tell: How can Voto Latino best engage the Latino youth of America? Wait! I got it! Spoofing the telenovelas that their moms watch!! [Huh?].

Yes! I kid you not but the clip above is but part five of a five clip series! [Must be a California thing, the No on Prop. 8 Latino outreach spot went the telenovela route as well].

Not surprisingly, the "edgy" and "now" concept received major coverage... for Rosario Dawson ("Rosario Dawson offers tips on romance", "Kenneth Cole's Awearness", "Rosario Dawson & Voto Latino on OPRAH!").

Which is all good and stuff since I don't take away the fact that she is using her celebrity for a worthy cause but...

1. Jane Fonda.

2. What!? JANE FONDA? Why yes! JANE FONDA!

3. The script! Who wrote it! (Ai, Dio... mio..., PLOP)

4. Is it better when English-dominant Latinos do funny fake stereotypical Latino accents? (Voteen's arrr'rite, not a prrrivilege!)

5. WEST SIDE STORY? Yeah, that'll get the Latino youth rushing to the voting booth.

6. Jokes about illegals? In a Latino vote drive project? Again: Who wrote the script?

7. And Wilmer Valderrama, eh, "singing"? Yikes!

Perez does do a nice pope-type priest, though.

Aside from coming out looking like a vanity project, I swear it's the most cringe-worthy thing I have seen in recent memory. Enjoy!

Update: Or... I might be totally wrong (see comments)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wockner: Stonewall 2.0 vs. Activisim 3.0

Rex (right) has a few choice comments about the No on Prop. 8 campaign as well as last weeks Prop. 8 protests across the country. It is worth a read:
The organization No On 8 failed us. Before the TV ad war started, we were up 14-17 points in the polls. Then No On 8 spent some $37 million of your money to spam the California airwaves with really lousy ads, while the other side spent a similar amount to spam the California airwaves with ads that were, whatever else they may have been, effective. While the bad TV ads were not the only component of our loss (last-minute preaching from the pulpits was a factor), had our ads been good ads, we would have held onto our lead. And producing those mindnumbingly expensive ads (which I and many others publicly criticized as they were airing) was one piece of the war that No On 8 had 100% control over...
For the full post click on "The day the music died for the gay leadership"


NYS: Revernd Ruben Diaz, Sr. will introduce anti-gay marriage referendum today

One of the striking things about yesterday's El Diario La Prensa editorial backing marriage rights for same-sex couples was their explicit rejection of efforts by New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. to derail any legislation granting same-sex couples the rights afforded to married couples or to sponsor bills that discriminate against same-sex couples (the Senator also happens to be an ordained minister).

From the editorial which I quoted in full yesterday:
Rev. Diaz and others are supposedly not for denying rights to gays and lesbians but believe that marriage should be between a man and woman. Yet, it’s this very discriminatory position that serves to exclude lesbian and gay couples from accessing rights, benefits and treatment that heterosexuals take for granted.

This use of religious beliefs to block basic civil rights undermines the separation of church and state in this nation.
In today's edition, El Diario La Prensa runs an interview with the not so good Reverend in which he once again spouts off his mouth on his favorite topic: The gays ("Reverend Diaz: Gay marriage goes to referendum" by Jose Acosta).

In it, Diaz announces that he will introduce a State Senate bill today pushing for a statewide referendum on same-sex marriage:
I do not think it is appropriate that a group of lawmakers are the ones to decide whether or not gay marriage is approved in New York. I, as a legislator, do not want to impose my will, and this is why I am asking that there be a referendum on the issue as was done in California, and that the 20 million inhabitants of the State of New York be the ones who decide in a democratic election
OMG, thank you for protecting the electorate from efforts to grant a much-discriminated minority equal rights, Senator! Makes you wonder if the Reverend would feel the same about it if he felt there was enough support for a legislative ban on same-sex marriages!

But how about that pesky separation of church and state? hm...
I am a pastor and cannot, with my vote, bring homosexual marriage to the State of New York. My dissent would come to an end if my colleagues support the bill I am submitting
Well, so much for that! At least he never ceases to disappoint... in a bad way, of course.

As for the chances of a referendum moving forward in New York State, here is how Paul Schindler puts it in last week's Gay City News:
Despite the press play that proposal got across the state and on some blog sites that usually show greater political acumen, the referendum idea is, in fact, a non-starter. New York voters do not currently have the right to initiate such ballot questions, and though Senate Republicans have at times flirted with passing a law to enable them to, they have not seriously advanced the concept, nor are the Assembly Democrats about to surrender their prerogatives in this way.

The only other way to put the question to the voters would be for the Legislature, in two successive sessions, to approve a constitutional amendment referendum. That approach, too, has no support among Democrats, in either the Assembly or the Senate.


Monday, November 17, 2008

New York's largest Spanish language newspaper backs marriage rights for same-sex couples

I might be wrong but this might be a first. Today New York's El Diario La Prensa - the Spanish-language newspaper with the second largest circulation numbers in the United States - published a strong editorial backing same-sex marriage rights for same-sex couples. This in the wake of weekend nationwide demonstrations against Proposition 8 in California and recent anti-gay statements by the reliably homophobic Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. (also a NYS Senator).

From the editorial:
A Stand for same-sex marriage
El Diario La Prensa, Nov. 17, 2008

Latinos have fought too hard and long for equal rights. This is why we must rally around a sector of our community that remains even more discriminated against--gays and lesbians.

Across the country this weekend, people protested against measures banning same-sex marriage. One of these bans came as a harder blow in California, where thousands of couples had married since that state’s Supreme Court had legalized same-sex marriage in the spring.

After that legal decision, Governor David Paterson announced that New York state agencies would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

But there are loud voices, among them State Senator Ruben Diaz, who threaten to thwart any legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in New York.

Rev. Diaz and others are supposedly not for denying rights to gays and lesbians but believe that marriage should be between a man and woman. Yet, it’s this very discriminatory position that serves to exclude lesbian and gay couples from accessing rights, benefits and treatment that heterosexuals take for granted.

This use of religious beliefs to block basic civil rights undermines the separation of church and state in this nation. The basis of that separation lies in the experience of early American colonists who had fled religious persecution elsewhere to pursue tolerance and freedom in the “new” world.

Latinos, as well as other groups, should have an honest conversation about homophobia. Discrimination, whether within or outside of our communities, on the basis of color, immigration status, gender or sexuality is just not acceptable.

Across the nation, a gay rights agenda must be representative of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Latinos and the deeper inequities they confront. The gap between the struggle for LGBT rights and the struggles for economic and racial justice needs to be closed.
Back in October of 2005 I highlighted their strong editorial against efforts by the Vatican to purge gay priests from their rolls but this is the first time I remember the paper standing unequivocally for same-sex marriage rights.

I say: Thank you! La Opinion, which is based in Los Angeles and has the largest circulation numbers among Spanish-language news dailies in the US, did it first. It is very welcome nevertheless.

Update: Here is the Reverend's unhinged response to the EDLP editorial -

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My New York: "Girl, you did not just steal our rights. DID YOU. Seriously?"

NOTE: My entire photo album of today's events in NYC here, a run down of events in other cities at Towleroad and media coverage at Chris Crain's blog.It was supposed to be a rainy day but the rain didn't arrive until a few moments ago. Instead, for what was one of hundreds of demonstrations throughout the United States against California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage, the sun shined brightly on the thousands of people that descended upon City Hall in Manhattan. I haven't seen crowd estimates but overheard a few people say that they thought it was a larger crowd the one on Wednesday (which drew 7,500 to 15,000 - depending on who you ask).


Best sign of the day! "Girl, you did not just steal our rights DID YOU? Seriously" (Update: Vinney has the T-shirt here , his flickr page is here).

Runner up: "Prop 8 Kills Kittens" (those on the East Coast who have seen the recent Time Warner commercials will get the joke).

Runner up: "Bisexuals won't settle for 1/2 equal"

Runner up: "If homosexuality is a disease, let's call in QUEER to work. 'Hello,can't work today, STILL QUEER"


Heather Matarazzo: There were the usual array of speakers including openly gay Councilmembers Christine Quinn and Rosie Mendez and the openly gay Assemblymember Danny O'Donnell but the one that truly moved my cynical heart was Heather Matarazzo (above). Part of it was that I felt star-struck (I have been in love with Heather ever since I saw her performance in Todd Solondz' "Welcome to the Dollhouse").

But no. I think what struck me of Wednesday's and today's demos were how unlike other demos they were (in terms of drawing record numbers of chi-chi gays - who usually never get caught at a political demo thingie - as well as the throngs of younger people who seem to have engaged in ways that I have never seen).

It's the Facebook generation (or what Rex calls Stonewall 2.0) and for some reason Heather seemed to fully embody the moment. So when she looked at the thousands of people in front of her and choked-up with tears as she said "I love you all" I couldn't help but tear up a bit as well. Yes, old cynical me.

Wilson Cruz: A while back I checked in with the Obama campaign and urged them to recruit Wilson Cruz for their media-friendly events in California if their goal was to attract a younger Latino gay following. When pundits were questioning whether Obama could draw the Latino vote, Wilson was out there challenging that notion and I was glad to have tried to connect him to the campaign. Glad to see him in the crowd although I didn't have a chance to say hi.

Emanuel Xavier was there as well though and got to address the crowd as well (pic courtesy of Leo Toro). Yay! (Wait! I detect a wardrobe change!).

John Norris: Oh, and yeah, MTV's John Norris was just behind me (above in shades).

Matt Foreman: The fabu-tastic Matt Foreman was in his old stomping grounds as well (he now lives in California). That's me on the left, him on the right. Don't mind my spazzy smile: Francisco De Leon, Matt's husband, was making lewd motions at me to get me to smile.

PJ, Steven and the hubby: I hung out all day long with Steven (in the white shirt), PJ (in the cheap leather jacket), and Raul (the hubby, in stripes). Good times.

And then there was flower girl and the ACT UP guy!

Yes, peoplez, it was all about love.

ACT UP guy was holding on to a banner that read:
You might remember a similar banner led the march down Broadway on Wednesday except that one read "God Loves Gay Marriage."

The creator of both banners is none other than rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker. Perhaps between Wednesday and today he read this piece in POZ magazine by Peter Staley?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My New York: Gotham City stands up for same-sex marriage tonight

Update: Towleroad, as always, has the most comprehensive rundown.

Oh what a beautiful sight! Thousands of people in a semi-impromptu demonstration the likes I haven't seen since that huge rally in Manhattan after the death of Matthew Shepard. All demanding equal rights for same-sex couples following the passage of California's Proposition 8 and chastising the Mormon church for pouring so much money into the effort to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

Back then, after the Matthew Shepard rally, I was quoted in the Village Voice marveling at how e-mail networking had made the humongous vigil a reality. Appropriate, then, that tonight's vigil was brought to you pretty much courtesy of Facebook. To be sincere, I expected perhaps 1,000 people or less. As if! One estimate I heard tonight placed the crowd at 16,000 (smaller than the Matthew Sheppard vigil but just an amazing number for something that was almost ethereal in execution. Rex Wockner has a post on what might be called Activism 4.0 (personally - despite the turn out - I am uncertain how the energy can be truly channeled effectively in the future). Kudos to organizer Corey Johnson.

BTW - If you missed tonight there is another protest Saturday (more details here)

Snapshots from tonight:

Winner! Best sign of the night!

Runner up!

Le Joe Jervis est hoaging le camera (jeez! is Joe.My.God everywhere?)

The closing shot: The end of the night rally at Columbus Circle just outside Central Park.

'cept c'est le moi! c/o le Ozed guy! Thanks John!

More pictures here

A short vid below:


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poll results are in: Facebook 'Status Updates' indicate...

I will pull a Manhattan Offender quickie and peruse the day in "Status Updates" from my friends in the the last few hours (did YOU make the list?):
  • AM: just voted and he will cut you if you are not voting today too. :)
  • ES: says GO OBAMA !! If He don't win - I will slap yo mama
  • KF: just got a text from her cousin Philly: A black man is running and it ain't from the cops. Go Obama!
  • OP: says vote or you are not getting any from me
  • RVH: is sad erection day is armost ovel
  • RHT: looks forward to election celebratory sex [editor's note: a theme emerges?]
  • KM: done baracked the vote! ... fuck ann kobayashi! YES TO RAIL NOW! lol. [editor's note: whotf is ann kobayashy? only hawai'ians know, I guess]
  • RM: cried because of the beautiful people who voted at PS 289
  • LB: holding onto her new (for the 4th time) wife, talking to voters one last time at a polling place, and hoping Californians vote for equality today! [editor's note: those californians!]
  • FA: thinks that only in the South would someone pull up with a BBQ grill and start cookin burgers to sell to voters in line. Haha.
  • BT: wants to remind all registered Republicans, your election day is Wednesday. Democrats on Nov. 4, GOP on Nov. 5. Shorter lines that way
  • KP: is standing out in the rain protecting folks right to vote. it's just that serious.
  • MD: is pondering... Which came first, the Chicken Nugget or the Egg Mcmuffin? [editor's note: oh, wait! that wasn't an election "status Update"]
  • RG: is at voting poll at Rosemont elementary. The students keep shouthing GOBAMA! at the grown folks in line. One wiseguy shouted McCain. It's very much like The Wii [editor's note: finally! a mccain reference!]
  • DM: enjoy this historical day. Went to jail forty years ago with Dr. King in South for right to vote. This makes it worth while....Wow..simply Wow [editor's note: he really did! after all, it's David Mixner!]
  • CG: loves that the entire country of Kenya will have a national holiday tomorrow if Barack wins. I think I'm converting to Kenyan
  • Ask a Mexican's Gustavo Arellano: wants everyone to vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially against Prop. 8 in Cali... [editor's note: darn! forgot to make that one anonymous]
  • BW: invites Bill Clinton and Morgan Freeman to step aside for America's first black President
Reminder: CALIFORNIANS!! If it turns out to be an early night, go to the polls at all costs anyway and VOTE 'NO ON PROP. 8'

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pitchin' for Obama: A plea to my white women of OH, MI, NH, NM, VA and NV

One of the funniest YouTube videos of the campaign season (and very appropriate two days before the presidential election). Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you Boybama's "Battleground to Your Heart".

I particularly cracked up about the broken voice of the mom's son on the ice hockey ring.

Come hell or high water: "The Call" sends the heebie-jeebies in San Diego

What on earth is going on here!? Rex Wockner explains the scariness that was yesterday's "The Call" here (organizers were hoping to draw the largest ever anti-gay religious crowd in California history to support of Prop.8 which would ban same-sex marriage rights in the state).

An excerpt from his post: "If I hadn't once upon a time been a Catholic seminarian and hadn't emerged from those days with near certainty that all this God/Jesus stuff is pure myth and mass delusion, it could have been dangerous to be there. It would have been dangerous for any gay person struggling with internalized homophobia or religious guilt, I think."

How scary was it? Well, watch the ad below (yikes!):

Nevertheless it seems that the conveners had trouble filling the stadium as Juls comments at Daily Kos ("They 'Call'ed and nobody was home") and Lucas reports at Calitics ("The Call at Qualcomm: Nobody's here").

In the meantime, to counter the scary bives coming from Qualcomm Stadium, a few San Diegoans (San Diegoettes? San Diegans?) organized a counter-protest in groovy Hillcrest in opposition of Prop. 8. Check out "It's Pray Day" at Mike Tidmus' blog.

UPDATE: After attending "The Call" and stopping home to report on it, Rex biked over to Hillcrest where I am certain he regained some sense of sanity. Full report here.

An excerpt: "Amazingly, the gay protest was organized entirely via e-mail and, to the best of my knowledge, it was the biggest gay street action in the 14 years I've lived here, apart from the gay pride parade, which draws about 150,000 people."

Mike Tidmus also has an update on the Hillcrest candle-light rally here.

Both photos courtesy of Rex Wockner. Click on them to make them larger. More scary photos of the first event here.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

My beef with the "No on Prop. 8" ad targeting Latino communities...

In my previous post I took a slight dig at the "No on Prop. 8" campaign ads targeting the Latino community in California. I wasn't going to comment further but then comes an article posted online yesterday at The Advocate on the inside game at the campaign ("In the belly of No on 8"):
The media revamp has included a new Spanish-language push, with ads running on Spanish-language media outlets featuring Ugly Betty stars America Ferrerra, Tony Pena, and Ana Ortiz. Getting the ads done was a challenge, considering the three actors were in New York and the campaign had less than a few days to write, produce, and distribute the ads.

“That spot seems to be touching people,” said one of [Patrick] Guerriero’s colleagues, a senior executive at a major media company who took a leave of absence to work full-time on the campaign. “Young Latinos were looking for a way to talk about this with their parents. They didn’t feel comfortable having that conversation in Spanish. This is definitely filling a need.”
I think it's great that the stars donated their time and were willing to be part of the campaign. Kudos to them. But here's what rubs me the wrong way.

1. They used the wrong "Ugly Betty" cast: "Ugly Betty" is an English-language version of an incredibly popular Spanish-language television soap opera. I am no pollster but I have a feeling that the Latino viewers who watch the English version are not the ones that need to be convinced to vote against Prop. 8. They already sit to watch the gayest show on network television to begin with and the fact that they understand English means they probably are more acculturated than recent US citizens which are probably the ones that need to be made at ease about opposing Prop. 8. The "No on 8" campaign might have done better by reaching out to the cast of Mexican version of "Ugly Betty" if they were looking for a bigger impact.

2. All Latinos are not the same: For some of us who watch the show from time to time, one of the most jarring thing is that the cast of the US show is the fact that we recognize that the actors all come from different ethnic backgrounds even if they are supposed to be from the same Queens family. America Ferrera, who plays Betty, was born in Los Angeles to Honduran parents; Ana Ortiz, who plays her sister Hilda is of Puerto Rican-Irish descent; and Tony Plana, who plays their father Ignacio, was born in Cuba - and it shows in the way the carry themselves. This is fine for a television show where you can look over these type of discrepancies but I'm not that certain that using the actors to carry the message to Latinos in California speaks to California Latinos specifically. As with the presdiential campaign, it looks as if the folks who decided to use the cast of the American version of "Ugly Betty" fell for the generalization that any Latino can sway another Latino and that's just not the case (it's that mythical political Latino block that has been so elusive this year). Ferrera, who made her career in California, looks and feels authentically Californian which actually really counts when it comes to the Latino community in California.

3. Accents: In the Spanish version, below, Tony Plana is the only one of the three actors who speaks Spanish without an Americanized accent. Not that America or Ana do bad at all (actually, they do great) but you still notice it. But, again, I have a feeling that the movable Spanish speaking masses might be more movable if it came from spokespeople who did not have an Americanized accent when they spoke Spanish.

4. La familia: OK, I acknowledge this is a personal pet peeve but how come every time someone says 'We gotta reach Latinos' the immediate reaction is 'familia'? "For Latinos family is important" says the video. Hm, yes? Same as with other cultures? To be fair, this Latino familia trope is not limited to Anglos seeking Latino authenticity. Latino organizations do it too. But, personally it drives me up a wall. It brings up trite hacienda images of abuelita rocking in her rocking chair as her grandson makes a call on an AT&T phone or of Jimmy Smits in the trite (and cancelled) "Cane". But that's just me. Perhaps swayable Latino Californians truly really think about family above all but methinks a lot of them don't necessarily have the wealthy extended hacienda-type families of "Cane". I'm just sayin'.

Which brings us back to quote from The Advocate. Statements that the campaign only sought to create a Spanish language campaign late in the game (as they "revamped" the message) and assurances that it "seems" to be touching people betray the fact that they should have known for a long time that minority communities should have been included in the game plan long before now.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Perhaps I'm being one of those angry politically correct Latinos who only think about la raza! (Hm, not really?). And perhaps I read waaaay too much stuff into little things. But come Tuesday (and I truly hope that Prop. 8 is defeated and for some reason I think it will) it speaks to the divide between state and national LGBT organizing strategies and LGBT communities of color.

Spanish language version of the ad below:

The gays MADE Eduardo Verastegui, in return he stabs them in the back

With the presidential election just days away, the other nerve-wracking waiting game for the gays is seeing if attempts to ban same-sex marriages rights in California (Proposition 8), Florida (Proposition 2) and Arizona (Proposition 102) pass muster on Tuesday - with a very real chance of defeating all three (please click on each link and find out more and, if possible, donate).

Although the campaigns to defeat the discriminatory initiatives in AZ and FL must feel relegated to the sidelines as they look at the mammoth battle taking place in CA, it must be said that a California loss will be devastating to efforts to build a future where same-sex couples are not discriminated in the United States based on who they love. If passed, California would also become the first state to strip away marriage rights already granted to its state residents (couples who have gotten married would not lose their marriage status but unmarried partners and future partners would not be able to have access to them).

The extreme right-wing certainly understands that it's the battle to end all battles when it comes to the issue and have been acting accordingly treating it as if it were Armageddon itself or the final End of Days battle (a poll released yesterday shows a 49% to 44% lead for "No on 8" which is good but that lead might evaporate come election day).

Tonight, the Associated Press has the latest ("Anxious eyes on California gay marriage vote").

The Latino vote: Despite the slight lead, it's a slight lead that might easily evaporate.

Unfortunately this has led to some generalizations on both sides of the equation that the minority vote might end up deciding the future of same-sex marriages in California with the common assumption that most blacks and Latinos will vote do deny rights to the gays.

First came fears that a strong minority showing for Barack Obama in the California voting booths might mean additional support for the marriage ban ("Obama surge confounds gay marriage"), then came indications that both sides were targeting Latino voters believing that they might be the ones to push the ban over the treshhold or keep it from passing ("Leaning on Latinos" and "Prop. 4, 8 campaigns battle fiercely for crucial Latino vote").

Let me say this: I don't have much money but I have donated to the "No on 8" campaign to support their efforts (as well as "No on 2" in FL and "No on 102" in AZ); I also know that they have attempted to make inroads among Latino communities; but I was less than thrilled by their discourse in media during these last few days on the issue of Latino voters and not too impressed by their ads targeting Latino media.

Sure, they got the stars of "Ugly Betty" to do an ad in English and and ad in Spanish. Not sure how it plays out to California Latinos and particularly those undecided or supporting Prop. 8 but to me it certainly plays up the stereotype that familia trumps everything in our lives (it may or it may not but not in that La Cosa Nostra creepy way that ends up implying all Latinos are conservative because we love La Familia - which plays right into the right wing's hands). And, secondly, I also have a feeling that Latinos who watch "Ugly Betty" on ABC are not necessarily the Latino population that needs their mind changed on Prop. 8. I mean, they probably get Justin already .

Having Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa be a lead spokesperson and supporter is much better but I have yet to see efforts to engage truly popular Spanish-language television stars or singers that might reach out to a wider Latino community. This, despite the fact that Paulina Rubio and Gloria Trevi - who are hugely popular among the Mexican and Mexican-American communities in California - came out strongly against Prop. 8 this week. They should be in ads today!

[BTW: No poll is perfect but a poll released yesterday and forwarded to me by my friend Evan Wolfson actually shows Latinos in California OPPOSING the ban 51% to 46%].

Now, I've been peppering this post with a few images that seem to have no relation to the topic at hand. Heck, if you go for that metrosexual, pouty-lip, hairless chest bimbo look, you might even still be reading this post because of him. Me? Eek! Not my type at all.

Now, watch this video of the '90's Mexican boy-band (er, man-band?) Kiero and pay attention to the guy with a wife-beater shirt and no leather jacket or - alternatively - no shirt and lotsa sweat plus all his queerrific dance moves:


Why it's Eduardo Verestegui! And ever since he was introduced as the Latino face of the "Yes on 8" campaign I have heard nothing but shock and disgust from most of my Spanish-speaking Latino friends throughout the country.

Part of the shock for some friends is that they assumed Verastegui was gay (a lot of them grew up watching him perform with Kiero and playing leads in popular Mexican soap operas). I mean, just by the photos and video above there's no doubt in my mind he knew exactly who his fanbase was and that it was tres-gay. So forgive some from feeling ultra-betrayed.

But those are the gays. He also has a huge female fan base (for some reason they love the bimbo pouty-lipped look too) and he certainly used it to play up his Hollywood debut in the failed attempt at cross-over success otherwise known as "Chasing Papi".

Enter his 2006 anti-abortion message movie "Bella" and his embrace of the whole US right wing enchilada (immigration issues be damned!) and lo-and-behold - he becomes a poster child for the worst right-wing policies being channeled by the McCain camp as of late (Hey! What do ya know! He endorsed McCain this week as well!).

As a matter of fact, bimbo-boy's fabulous right-wing adventure was what elicited reactions from Mexican mega-star Paulina Rubio (who called him "ignorant") and Gloria Trevi (who taped her own message urging voters to vote against the California and Florida propositions).

Let truth win on Tuesday! Vote "No on 8" if you live in California.