Monday, August 31, 2009

Where doth lie that rarest of breeds they call "The Gay Latino"?

Here is the thing: I have no doubt truly, sincerely and authentically wants to get to know me a little bit better. Heck! I'm sure they are patting themselves in the back for showing some inclusivity. But why am I still laughing about their recent attempt at knowing LGBT Latinos?

On Wednesday, the web portal posted a column on their site (as well as on PlanetOut) asking Latinos to tell them "What’s Your Gay Latino/Hispanic Life Like?" Never mind that while I might identify as a Latino man, I'm not sure that my "gay life" is too Latino or Hispanic. I mean, should I tell them I dance salsa every morning and eat nacho chips with guacamole every night?

Digging deeper, let's take a look at how they frame Latino/Hispanic gay life:

Judging by their questions they seem to think that gay Latinos are in the closet ("As a Latino/Hispanic, do you have a 'coming out' story specific to your culture? Or do you have any stories describing why you feel you cannot 'come out' as an LGBT Latino?"), prone to being victims of homophobic attacks ("Could you provide an experience where you were a victim of gay bashing/abuse from fellow Latinos vs. non-Hispanic people, whether you were 'out' or not?"), have no access to books, television, films or computers ("How did you learn about sex and sexual orientation? Was it from family, friends, religion, etc?" or "How did you learn about STDs and safe sex? Was it culturally specific through organizations or just through personal experiences?"), and might not get what 'gayness' entails ("What are your perceptions of what makes a gay man - top/bottom or other roles? - and a lesbian in Latino/Hispanic culture?").

That's not necessarily wanting to know more about LGBT Latinos. It's requesting that LGBT Latinos respond according to a number of stereotypical assumptions about being Latino and LGBT (you know, that there are few if any out LGBT Latinos, that Latinos are more homophobic, and that we might define sexuality by the sexual positions we assume when having sex).

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but here is the kicker: What was the impetus behind's new-found interest on finding out more about LGBT Latinos? Why none other that Mexican-American singer Linda Ronstadt!

In an interview that also was posted on on Wednesday, Ms. Ronstadt, who to her credit has always been a strong ally to LGBT Latinos, speaks about lesbian ranchera singer Lucha Reyes, the passage of Prop. 8 in California last year, homophobia in the Latino community, and her role coordinating the upcoming San Jose Mariachi Festival (Ms. Rondstadt, once known more for her pop hits, has embraced Mex-Tex and Mariachi big band culture and enjoyed great acclaim and success in this stage of her prolific career).

"Ronstadt's involvement" Gay.comwrites, "made us want to know more about the cultural experiences of being LGBT in the Latino/Hispanic community."

Anyway, who knows? Perhaps will get some good feedback and profile a number of groovy gay Latinos. But, just as tells Ms. Ronstadt that "something needs to be done to bridge the gay gap in the Hispanic community", perhaps also needs to do something about the fact that, in this day and age, they seem to have no clue about LGBT Latinos nor seem to know any out LGBT Latinos they could have interviewed on these topics.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Musica: "Add this Song" to your heart

Heart be still! GusGus has a new album coming out ("24/7") and a brand new spanking video for a new sparking single "Add This Song" (above).

I dare say that they are one of my favorite bands ever, even if their last albums have been a bit disappointing. But going by this new single, I have a feeling they are back to perfection.

Part of the inconsistency in their output is that they have always been an ever-changing artistic collaborative with members stepping in and out of the actual band. The current incarnation includes Stephan Stephensen (a.k.a. President Bongo), Birgir Thórarinsson (a.k.a. Biggi Veira), and Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson.

Throughout their incarnations, though, there has always been a gay sensitivity to their high-jinx and the new video is no different. You might think it's heading in a certain direction when you take a first look and then you are thrown into a loop (see screen capture below). So give it a chance and watch the whole thing. And, if you are lucky enough to catch GusGus live, please do! One of the best live bands around.

For more GusGus wonderfulness check these out:
  • GusGus official page here
  • GusGus on Facebook here
  • GusGus on MySpace here
  • GusGus on Twitter here
  • GusGus on Defected here
  • GusGus on Kompakt here

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Argentina: 1 year after pension benefits were granted to same-sex couples, only 10 people have received them

It's been one full year since the Argentinian government announced that it would extend pension system coverage to same-sex couples. But today, quoting sources from the federal government, InfoBAE reports that only 10 gay people have received pension benefits in the year since the policy was announced.

When asked about the low number, César Cigliutti, President of the largest LGBT rights organization in the country - the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (CHA) - said that many same-sex couples had never taken the time to make sure that they had proof of their partnership.

"These are incredible cases," Cigliutti said, "We get involved with gay adults, with very difficult experiences, tremendous histories of discrimination; We are talking about an era in which the word 'gay' didn't even exist."

Cigliutti said that most gay couples never thought they would see the day in which they could access the government's pension plan as couples and that there was still a learning curve in having people prepare for filing a case
(to access pension benefits under the plan, a couple must have filed an affidavit and presented proof that they have lived together for at least five years). He said that the CHA had received more than 80 inquiries about the process and that he personal knowledge of several pension claims making their way through the system.

In September 23rd of 2008, 81 year old Alfredo Pasquale (above) became the first person to be covered by the policy after his partner of 59 years, José Miguel Castro, passed away. At the time, he had been fighting for more than 11 years to l

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mexico City adopts inclusive hate crimes measure

I might be wrong here, but Mexico City seems to have become the first municipality in Latin America to adopt a hate crimes measure that specifically includes crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The measure, which was approved on Thursday by an unanimous vote of 39-0 in the Federal District Legislative Assembly, adds a section to Article 138 of the city's Penal Code which establishes that homicides and lesions will be considered as "hate crimes" when they are committed due to hate, and when "the agent commits it based on social or economic status: By association, affiliation or relationship with a defined social group."

A hate crime, the measure says, can be motivated by "ethnic or social origin, nationality or place of origin, color or any other genetic characteristic, sex, language, gender, religion, age, opinions, disability, health status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, occupation or activity of the victim."

Milenio, which reported on passage of the measure on it's August 20th edition, says that LGBT advocates have already claimed that homophobia might be at play in the murders of six gay men during the last year, even if authorities have said otherwise. The latest, they say, occurred on August 15th, when 24 year old Victor Galán, who had moved to live in Mexico City a month earlier, was stabbed 12 times and found dead in his apartment. Advocates say that robbery was not a motive in the crime and that they suspect he was killed based on the fact that he was gay. Authorities, on the other hand, say that they have not ruled out a "crime of passion."

After the Assembly vote, Assemblymember Ricardo García Hernández applauded the measure and said that such crimes are often left unresolved. “In the majority of the cases, the investigation and the persecution of these crimes do not advance since authorities tend to classify them as 'crimes of passion,'" he said.

"Hate" will now be considered as an aggravating circumstance when it comes to determining punishment although the Milenio article does not specify the extent of any additional punitive measures when an attack is determined to be a hate crime.

According to WikiPedia, the only other country in Latin America with a hate crimes law is Brazil, but it does not specifically include sexual orientation or gender identity under the protected status.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What you learn from Twittering, Pt. 3: El Residente has bedroom eyes

Reggaeton-Cumbiamberos-Bachata-Electro-Pop-Rockeros Calle 13 recently began to Twitter at Calle13Oficial. Currently they are touring Spain and lead singer El Residente was generous enough to stop for a moment last night and post this hotel room pic.


They are one of my favorite bands out there, even if they might be a bit unpolitically correct, and have always had a social conscience behind their lyrics, which makes them sound didactic and boring but...

In May I shared some of El Residente's thoughts on HIV/AIDS (The fight against HIV in Latino communities gets a new ally).

Below is the video for one of their latest singles, Pal Norte on MTV vids. Enjoy...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Colombia: Lesbians protest invisibility at annual breast cancer awareness walk

When members of the Colombian lesbian organization Toque Lésbico found out that the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer would take place this past Sunday through the streets of Bogotá, they realized that it would be a great opportunity to participate as an organization and highlight
the high incidence of breast cancer in the lesbian community.

Using drums to create music at public events as a way to raise the visibility of the lesbian community, the organization reached out to the organizers of the march to make sure that they could participate and bring their instruments. According to a member of Toque Lésbico, the woman who answered their calls first said that "they did not get involved with issues related to diversity" but that she would check with Avon as to whether the organization could march. She called them back and reiterated that they "did absolutely get involved with issues related to diversity and that if they wanted to participate they could show up with their drums but without anything that alluded to sexual diversity."

The march representative also told the women that they would not be allowed to carry any signs, banners, or shirts that made any reference to the name of the organization.

What to do? Well, protest! Of course. My friend Mauricio Albarracín attended yesterday's protest as a supporter and captured some clips. In this one, marchers carrying pink balloons stop and take pictures of the drummers as they holler their appreciation.

Marcela Sanchez, Director of the larges LGBT rights organization in Colombia, Colombia Diversa, and a Toque Lésbico member, said that the objective of the civil protest was more than met.
I think we met the Toque Lésbico objective, which is lesbian visibility. To set our stand before the discrimination to which we were subjected, because the directives from Avons said that we could not participate in the march if we brought lesbian symbols, or titles of 'lesbians', or anything that alluded to the theme of diversity. I believe that people were able to see our message, it could have been entertaining [to them], they understood that we could also protest with music and drums.
During the protest, the women raised a banner that read: "Breast cancer does not discriminate against lesbians, and you? ... AND AVON?"

Reaction from march participants and the public seemed to be overwhelmingly positive and supportive of Toque Lésbico.

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Colombia is one of many similar events championed worldwide by the Avon Foundation for Women as a way to raise awareness and funds towards defeating the illness, with upcoming marches in Los Angeles, New York and Boston, among other US cities.

But, in the United States, there seems to be no Avon qualms about 'sexual diversity' or lesbian issues. This year, as in past years, the foundation awarded grants to the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington. DC, specifically earmarked for the care of lesbian and transgender women.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh dear, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, unhinged

So much for Republicans presenting US-based Puerto Rican Evangelical preacher - and right-wing religious darling - Samuel Rodriguez as a "centrist" (from a homily taped in November of 2006):
We have radical Muslims, radical homosexuals, radical abortionists, we need radical born-again spirit-filled Christians to arise. Do you follow me? We don't need anymore sissy Christians, Oprah Winfrey Christians. we need prophetic, devil-stomping, demon-reputing, blood washed Bible-believing, free-from-sin Christians, are you here in this place right now! Are you here in this place right now! We need Christians that don't know how to whine and complain, but have the anointy to bind and release in the NAAAAAAAYME of JEEESAHSSSSSSS
That, from a GREAT article posted on AlterNet a couple of days ago ('Hispanic Karl Rove' Helps Shape Democratic Party 'Centrist' Positions) in which Bruce Wilson takes Democrats to task for even entertaining the unhinged homophobic preacher as a 'centrist'.

From his essay:
Sammy Rodriguez is a point man working to formulate and advance what seems to be a two-pronged strategy: 1) colonize and ideologically infiltrate the left, alienate its activist base, and tie the Democratic Party in knots, 2) work to reshape and rebrand the right and the GOP, as an ethnically inclusive, pseudo-progressive "Rainbow" movement. The latter strategy was field tested in the pro-Proposition 8 push last year, in California.
Reminds me of that other right-wing 'centrist' darling, Reverend Miguel Rivera, as captured on tape by myself back in May as he riled against NYS Governor David Paterson:


Thursday, August 13, 2009

NN09: President Bill Clinton on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' and the 'Defense of Marriage Act'

Photo by Andrés Duque. Additional photos here.

I am currently attending the 2009 Netroots Nation conference and the highlight might have happened tonight, on opening night, at the opening day plenary. The key note speaker was former US President Bill Clinton who I had never personally seen speaking publicly and gave an impassioned speech about politics,the Obama administration, the health care debate and the opportunity for bloggers and online activists to create a progressive future that may well last for the next forty years, should Obama win the health care debate. U-Stream has the whole speech online here (it begins at the 1:37:46 mark).

Skip forward to the 1:59:00 mark, though, and you will hear what happened when DC-based gay blogger Lane Hudson stood up and interrupted the President's speech. Here is my transcript of the question he posed and the President's answer, to the best of my listening skills, at this late hour. I've based it on the U-Stream video feed as well as a video captured at the same event by Jeremy Hooper and posted on his blog tonight at his blog, Good as You.
Lane Hudson: Mr. President, will you call for a repeal of DOMA and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” right now? Please...

President Clinton: Hey, you know, you ought to go to one of those congressional health care meetings. You did really well there. I’ll be glad to talk about that. If you will… If you will sit down and let me talk, I’ll be glad to discuss it. But if you stand up and scream I won’t be able to talk. But the other guys would love to have ya. I wanna talk a little about that too.

But anyway, so, here we are in a different world. Now, it’s not like the 1990’s. You wanna talk about ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. You couldn’t deliver me any support in the Congress and they voted by a veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempt to let gays serve in the military and the media supported them. They raised all kinds of devilment. And all most of you did was to attack me instead of getting some support in the congress. Now, that’s the truth.

Secondly – it’s true! – You know, you may have noticed that presidents aren’t dictators. They voted - they were about to vote for the old policy – by margins exceeding 80% in the House and exceeding 70% in the Senate. The gave test votes out there to send me a message that they were going to reverse any attempt I made by executive order to force them to accept gays into the military. And let me remind you that the public opinion is now more strongly in our favor than it was sixteen years ago and I have continued supporting it. That John Shalikashvili, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under me, was against “Don’t A..” – was against letting gays serve – is now in favor of it. This is a different world. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

Let me also say something that never got sufficient publicity at the time. When General Colin Powell came up with this ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ it was defined while he was Chairman much differently than it was implemented. He said that, if you will accept this, here is what we’ll do. We will not pursue anyone, any military members out of uniform will be free to march in gay rights parades, go to gay bars, go to political meetings, whatever mailings they get, whatever they do in their private lives, none of this will be a basis for dismissal. It all turned out to be a fraud because of the enormous reaction against it among the middle level officers and down after it was promulgated and Colin was gone. So nobody regrets how this was implemented even more… anymore than I do. But the congress also put that into law by a veto-proof majority and many of your friends voted for that, believing the explanation about how it would be eliminated. So, I hated what happened. I regret it. But I didn’t have, I didn’t think at the time, any choice if I wanted any progress to be made at all. Look, I think it’s ridiculous. Can you believe they spent – what did they spend? - 150,000 dollars to get rid of a valuable Arabic speaker recently?

And, you know, the thing that changed me forever on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was when I learned that 130 gay service people were allowed to serve and risk their lives in the 1st Gulf War and all their commanders knew they were gay, they let them go and risk their lives ‘cause they needed them, and then as soon as the 1st Gulf War was over, they kicked them out. That’s all I needed to know, that’s all anybody needs to know, to know that this policy should be changed.

Now, while we’re at it, let me say one thing about DOMA, since you… The reason I signed DOMA was, and I said when I signed it, that I thought the question of whether gays should marry should be left out to states and the religious organizations, and if any church or other religious body wanted to recognize gay marriage they ought to. We were attempting at the time, in a very reactionary congress, to head off an attempt to send a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the states. And if you look at the eleven referendum much later in 2004, in the election, which the Republicans put on the ballot, to try to get the base vote for President Bush up, I think it’s obvious that something had to be done to try to keep the Republican congress presenting that. The President doesn’t even get to veto that. It’s the Congress can refer constitutional amendments to the states. I didn’t like signing DOMA, and I certainly didn’t like the constraints it would put on benefits, and I’ve done everything I’ve could, and I am proud to say that the State Department was the first federal department to restore benefits to gay partners in the Obama administration, and I think we are going forward in the right direction now for federal employees, and I don’t like that eith… I don’t like the DOMA.

But actually all these things illustrate the point I was trying to make. America has rapidly moved to a different place to a lot of these issues and so what we have to decide is what we are going to do about it.
Update: Over at FireDogLake, Lane Hudson has written a post titled "Why I interrupted Bill Clinton's speech at Netroots Nation". FireDogLake also provides the following video...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Peru: 25 hurt at Iquitos gay bar after tear-gas canisters are thrown on the dance floor

Perú's tabloid newspaper Trome is reporting that 25 people were treated for trauma and asphyxia on early Saturday morning after two live tear-gas canisters were thrown inside a gay bar in Iquitos and the more than 250 clients inside the building rushed for the doors. An excerpt from the article:
The incident happened at 2:40 yesterday morning, when two men with military garb threw a suspicious black bag inside the dance room, taking advantage of the confusion, since 250 were dancing, drinking and having fun, while they waited for the "Miss Mistika 2009" beauty pageant to begin.

"Madame Francesca", one of those present, saw the strange bag package and opened it, finding two live tear-gas bombs that had yet to detonate. But immediately she began to scream "A bomb! A bomb!", and that was enough to start a stampede of gays, lesbians and 'trans'.

Miss "Mistika" called the incident as an affront to the gay community in Loreto. "Why do they want to kill us? We are human, we don't bother anyone. A disgrace almost happened, many of the girls are hurt and scared, respect us, please!" she said.

This is the only report I have been able to find online about the incident. It doesn't say if anyone sustained any serious injuries but it certainly seems that the outcome might have been much worse. It's also unclear, from the article, whether the canisters actually went off or whether those with symptoms of asphyxia suffered them as a result of being crushed during the rush to get out of the bar.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Argentina: Attorney General files Supreme Court brief in support of same-sex couples

Imagine United States Attorney General Eric Holder submitting a brief to the Supreme Court in favor of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples...

Argentina's Attorney General, Esteban Righi (right), has filed a lengthy brief with the country's Supreme Court in which he argues that government should not ignore the realities of gay life, and asks Justices to call upon the legislative branch to "clarify" ways in which same-sex couples can attain the same rights as married heterosexual partners.

The brief was filed in response to a pending court case challenging the constitutionality of Argentina's marriage laws on the basis that they discriminate against same-sex couples.

From yesterday's Página/12:
In February 2007, María Rachid and Claudia Castro wanted to marry just as any heterosexual couple might, but the same civil court who had granted them a civil union years before, had to refuse. "I would love to but I can't. The law doesn't allow me", she explained, so the women turned the frustrated [attempt at] marriage into a claim of unconstitutionality against that law, considering it discriminatory. In mid-2007, Judge María Bacigalupo found that the denial had been most correct, which prompted another judicial claim by Rachid and Castro, this time before the Court of Appeals, which also rejected the claim. In this way, it reached the Supreme Court. Righi's statement is a response to this claim.
The claimants seemed surprised about the brief and expressed limited support to Página/12:
We think that it's favorable because there is an acknowledgement that the State has a debt with same-sex partnerships when rights are concerned, and that this debt should be paid. But, although it seems positive to us, I think that it's not the fairest thing. We believe that the fact we cannot get married makes the law unconstitutional. Our lead objective, really, was that, but - in any case - we thought that this other point of view was possible, which - I repeat - we consider to be very positive.
The latest developments follow years in a strategic divide between LGBT rights advocates in Argentina, with some arguing that it's better to fight for a national civil union bill, rather than equal access to 'marriage' rights.

The confounding fact about the Attorney General's brief is that it's uncertain whether it's meant to bolster the rights of lesbian and gay couples or, on the other hand, if it's meant to push the Supreme Court to punt the ball to the legislative body.

Nevertheless, it is certainly a surprising development and I have a feeling it bodes well for same-sex partners in Argentina.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My New York: Highlining with Doug

We've got some exciting news! Blabbeando finally went to see what the hoopla was all about and came back with photos from the new High Lane Park in Manhattan! Aren't you exited already? What!? You don't know what the High Lane Park is? OK, go read about it and come back...

Truth be told it was pretty 'pretty' but I was somewhat underwhelmed. Yes, there is that stunning view of the west side of Manhattan (above on the left, the newish InterActive Corp. building designed by Frank Ghery to resemble a sailboat ship)...

The park itself lies on top of what used to be elevated freight train tracks that had remained standing but had long been abandoned. For years, developers wanted to turn a stretch of the high lane into a park and part of it opened up to the public just weeks ago. Pieces of the rusted rail tracks remain embedded in their original place or re-arranged along the sides of the main pathway in ways that tell me that more than one gay man had a hand in the planning stages.

Blue-shaded building. I hated you at first sight. I am sorry. I now want to move in. Above, from above the high lane, below from below.

OMG! You had to walk under it and risk death by building toppelment!

Perfect for checking text messages and e-mails...

Or promoting Apple products...

I was there with Doug, who had the day off. He was particularly fascinated by the bees for some reason (you might remember Doug from our last featured outing to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year)...

My favorite part? People going to the High Lane Park to watch... uhm... traffic. Yes, traffic...

That's a full pane window (one of a four or five) in front of a small viewing stand on top of the avenue. Wide angle view here.

And then, well, we actually turned around and walked back. The section of the park that is currently open is actually a fraction of what it ultimately will end up being. A lot of the flowers and bushes seemed to be more decorative than anything else and I'm not sure they'll have an easy time taking root in the High Line.

And then it was outta there for food and drinks. And a good time was had by all. More photos here.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

OMG: "Police are confused by the tradition of Puerto Ricans gathering outside their homes..."

"Police are confused by the tradition of Puerto Ricans gathering outside their homes or storefronts. In Puerto Rico, that's how people socialize" and "Police officers should not assume that ALL Asians are new immigrants" and "People from Central and South America may also be insulted if police make an assumption that, if they look Hispanic or speak Spanish, they must be from Mexico" and "Be sensitive to transgender dress!"

"Mexicans" you will be glad to know "are NO exception!"

I kid you not! From a Chicago police department's "sensitivity" training video as posted by Everything is Terrible and picked up tonight by Andrew Sullivan. I. Just. Had. To. Share.