Monday, August 29, 2011

In wake of scandalous resignation, Puerto Rican Senator Roberto Arango's homophobic legacy lives on

[NOTE: A version of this entry has been cross-posted at The New Civil Rights Movement]


Last week Republican Puerto Rican Senator Roberto Arango became embroiled in a public scandal when images of a shirtless man who appeared to be him were leaked to the press.

The images were from the gay dating phone app Grindr, which was a tad curious considering Arango's public image was that of a divorced heterosexual man who was raising a daughter.  The Senator was also known for voting in favor of several anti-gay bills.

Initially, Arango scoffed at suggestions that he was the man in the images. Then he admitted he often took photos of himself shirtless to document a weight-loss regimen but didn’t remember taking those specific images. When more explicit images leaked out, the Senator stopped talking to media altogether.

Yesterday, he resigned from the Senate.

Our favorite Latino gossip site Guanabee, broke the news in the United States.  Since then, several people have asked me if I have documentation of the Senator's homophobia. It’s been surprisingly tough to find articles and reports because most of it is offline. But, going through my files, I managed to find a few tidbits.

Senator Arango and civil unions / marriage rights for same-sex couples:

In early 2007 reports emerged that a legislative commission studying changes to Puerto Rico’s Civil Code was considering allowing civil unions for all couples regardless of sexual orientation. Conservative religious organizations were outraged and warned that civil unions would weaken marriage and change the family structure. They mounted a campaign against the measure and Senator Arango served as their messenger in the legislature.

From “La Católica contra unions de hecho / The Catholic leadership against civil unions” (El Vocero, March 27, 2007 - No online link):
From his seat in the Senate chamber, Senator Roberto Arango of the New Progressive Party spoke about the recent mandates from the Catholic Church regarding the governing body and announced he would present thousands of signatures against changes to the book of law.
According to his statements, the signatures were given to him on Saturday during a rosary ceremony organized by the Catholic Church on the vicinity of the Capitol building. The signers want to put a stop to the proposed changes to the Civil Code that have received sustained opposition from the more conservative organizations.
“We have received 150,000 petitions signed by people of all orientations in favor of maintaining the current Civil Code,” said Arango during yesterday’s senate session. “We will hand them over to the Secretary of the Senate so they take into consideration the massive support of the people.”
The pressure from conservative groups led the legislative commission to shelve debate on changes to the Civil Code.

Emboldened by their success, religious organizations went a step further and called for an amendment to the state constitution banning legal recognition of any relationship other than marriages between a man and a woman.

A bill was quickly introduced and, on November 7th of 2007, it passed in the Senate by a vote of 20 to 2 and 1 abstention. Senator Arango voted in favor (a tally of those voting in favor can be found in a blog post by leading Puerto Rican LGBT rights advocate Pedro Julio Serrano titled “The New Progressive Party and the LGBT community”).

"Resolución 99", as the constitutional amendment bill is known in Puerto Rico, was blocked in the House of Representatives that same year and proponents have dropped efforts to re-introduce it for now.

Senator Arango and adoption rights for same-sex couples:

In September of 2009, Senator Kimmey Raschke managed to sneak in a bill banning adoption rights for gays by keeping the language of the bill under wraps until the last day of the legislative session. Arango, a close ally of Raschke, defended the secrecy behind the bill and assured reporters that it would be brought to the Senate floor. From “La adopción en el menú del dia / Adoption on the day’s menu” (El Nuevo Dia, September 25, 2009) :
“You will see the bill. I already spoke with Tommy [Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz]”, said Arango, who stated that he had yet to see the amendments despite being a member of the conference committee created to iron out the [bill language] differences between the legislative bodies.
Arango would go on to vote in favor of the adoption ban and the bill. It eventually passed both houses and is currently the law in Puerto Rico.

Senator Arango and the word “pato”:

The allegation that had been the toughest to confirm over the weekend were reports Arango had held a rubber duck at a public rally during his first electon campaign and used it to mock an opponent’s sexuality by making quaking noises and calling him a “pato” [“Pato”, the Spanish word for “duck”, is used in the island as a pejorative word for gays, akin to calling someone a “faggot” in English].

Lucky for us, today’s print issue Primera Hora includes it in a chronology of the Senator’s career and even provides a photo.

The chronology says that Arango’s political career began in 2004 when he led the Bush – Cheney presidential re-election campaign in Puerto Rico. It was then that Arango decided to run for office and became a strong ally of San Juan mayoral candidate Jorge Santini. And it was at a Santini campaign event that Arango called Santini’s opponent a ‘pato’.

From the chronology:
On October of 2004, at the closing of the San Juan mayoral campaign, rumors of [Eduardo] Bhatia’s homosexuality spread through the New Progressive Party’s rally and its leaders as they danced to a song with a chorus duck quacks. A featherless rubber chicken was thrown at the stage and rescued by Arango who referred to it as a ‘rubber duckie’
A photo caption reads Arango was overheard talking about Bhatia to someone else on the stage and saying "No le vamos a dar donde le gusta… sino hasta dentro del pelo".  It's a difficult phrase to translate but could be interpreted to mean “We won’t give it where he likes it… instead we’ll drill it deep inside him.”

Reaction from Puerto Rican LGBT-rights leader Pedro Julio Serrano:

In researching these articles, I reached out to my friend Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of the leading LGBT-rights organization Puerto Rico Para Todos. He sent me this excerpt from a press release he released to Puerto Rican media yesterday (a full Spanish-language statement is available at Pedro Julio's blog):
This isn't a moment to kick someone when he's down, but I have to denounce senator Roberto Arango's complicity with a fundamentalist agenda that promotes the exclusion and marginalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. His votes in favor of Resolution 99 which would have amended Puerto Rico's constitution to ban the recognition of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, his homophobic acts such as using a rubber duck to make fun of an opponent because in Puerto Rico the word duck means 'faggot,' and violating his constitutional duty to guarantee equality for all should be the real reasons for his resignation.
Senator Arango's homophobic legacy is still in full effect:

In the meantime, Arango might be gone from the Senate but his legacy remains.

Yesterday’s Primera Hora reports that the legislature seems ready to re-open debate of changes to the Civil Code --- except for parts of the draft that address civil unions or partnership rights for same-sex couples (“Family topic postponed in Civil Code debate”).
That sole part of the draft caused so much public controversy that it swallowed the rest of the work that had been done and there was no expectation that we’d get back to it,” said Jennifer Gonzalez, President of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives, “So what did we do? We looked at all the [Civil Code] books and we took out those issues that might generate public controversy and that might block passage of the other books, and we will start with those four.
Allegedly, once there is legislative agreement on the 'non-controversial' areas, they will come back to address whether the gays deserve human rights.  In other words, Arango’s homophobic spirit lives on in the Puerto Rican congress.

UPDATE: This is my exact point ---

Not one hour after I posted this entry a friend on Twitter alerted me to an article from today's El Vocero ("Rivera Schatz: Bhatia and Garcia Padilla are the ones who should talk the least").

While Arango has yet to speak to press about his resignation, it was a close ally, Senate Presdent Thomas Rivera-Schatz who yesterday told reporters he had received the resignation letter from Arango.  Today, in an audio interview posted in El Vocero, Rivera-Schatz goes after Arango's past political opponents and tells them to watch their words.

So, get this: Arango quacked like a duck when making fun of then mayoral candidate Eduardo Bhadia all those years ago in 2004.  Today, now that he has resigned, we get this from the Senate President:
People are tired of "the bla, bla, bla of the PPD President and the 'quack', 'quack', 'quak' from Bhadia"
So there you have it. The Puerto Rican Senate President calling Bhadia a fag just today. INCREDIBLE.

Pedro Julio has replied ("Rivera Shatz reckless and recurring homophobia condemned". He states, in part, "It's not the first time that Rivera Shatz has recklessly used sexist and homophobic comments, as he has called us 'mentally ill, deviant and criminal."

Pedro Julio calls for Rivera Shatz to keep his homophobia in check or resign.


Friday, August 26, 2011

The Michael Musto Interview

PHOTOS: Above: The great Michael Musto at an ACT UP Times Square rally against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. Below: Former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey and I at the same rally.

I have lived in New York City for approximately a third of my life and I truly don't know anyone who has been as brilliant at capturing the city's queer nightlife and LGBT revolution quite as successful as Michael Musto. Michael is usually described as a gossip maven, which might be quite alright, but I just think he is so much more than that.  We run in a few common social circles but I had never really gotten the chance to interview him. I am glad to say I finally had an opportunity to do so.  One caveat: I was just as nervous as when I interviewed JLo and might have tried to cram too many questions into the interview.

Other than that, enjoy, plus or minus a tape-recorder snafu:

Blabbeando: It took a while for it to come out but it’s finally here. I know you have a new book. What’s it called, when is it out and what’s in it.

Musto: Well, it first was supposed to come out last year on Alyson but, then I don’t know – you can read the gossip columnists for what happened there. But now it’s coming out on Vantage Point Books and it’s currently available on Amazon and the official pub date is September 1st.

It’s called “Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back” and to me the title hopefully show the way I like to throw the bourgeoisie cultural standards against the wall and to shatter everything and say ‘I may have the fork in the proper place but I’ll definitely be using the knife to stab you in the back’.

Though of course I have gotten stabbed myself sometimes. It’s a collection of some of my best columns over the years. I’ve been doing The Village Voice column now for over 26 years.

Blabbeando: Are there some new essays as well?

Musto: There are. The introduction is new and I have a new essay about social media, a new one about what’s so appealing about blind items, I have one about the celebrity closet and I have one about why I finally started blogging and what that experience has been like.

Blabbeando: It’s not your first book but this one seems to have a specific focus on the 1990’s and the so-called noughties. I know a lot of things have changed since the days of Michael Alig days and kids voguing at the West Side Piers. I wanted to find out what you felt has changed for the better and what’s changed for the worse.

Musto: Well, in the mid-90’s the club kid scene imploded and this kind of ‘Sex and the City’ mentality started taking over – a very kind of affluent, little black dress, bottle service, Meat Packing District kind of lifestyle. And it seemed like the clubs were fading from view in favor of bottle-service lounges and it was all based on credit cards and just using your expense account as a weapon.

Blabbeando: So in some ways the 80’s are coming back and people spending all that money on drinks and all the other stuff…

Musto: Well, as tacky as it is, I hope it’s coming back in some ways because it would mean that there is some money being pumped back into the scene - but nightlife is usually not about money, it’s usually about the disenfranchised people. The people who own the clubs can have money but the people who go there should be the oppressed underprivileged people who come together to create family and to celebrate and to misbehave in interesting ways so that’s what I long for.

It’s like the Meat Packing District was the enemy that was destroying the nightlife but now it’s all come together on the same plane because every Tuesday and every Thursday all the club kids go there. You know, Le Bain is the roof top place there, so it’s almost like we’ve all have found each other on the same plane.

Similarly, I used to be against people like Jim McGreevey and I thought he came out for sleazy reasons - that he had a lawsuit for sexual harassment – but now we are all on the same level because I run into him at all the same activist events so we are all fighting for the same thing - and we all end up on the same level. That’s the great thing about New York.

Blabbeando: Well Jim McGreevey is always at the ACT UP rallies…

Musto: Yeah, you know what I mean? And some of the columns in this book are me sorta screaming about Ellen DeGeneres who believe it or not wasn’t out at one point? And there was a big debate about whether she should come out and even whether her fictional character on her sitcom should come out and I wrote a piece about the absurdity of how we were debating whether a fictional character should come out of the closet. But now Ellen gets all the props for being not only openly gay but really having done so in a very fierce out open way. And Rosie, same thing.

I mean so much has changed. It’s a whole different landscape from when I started out in the 80’s. Back then there were just a handful of people who were out. I think I was the only out gossip columnist and that, of course, was pre-internet – and that changed everything. Information became available and accessible to everybody and the proliferation of cable channels changed everything because everything became visible, drag queens and a whole variety of gay representation. So this is the world I dreamed of, in a way. But there is still so much more to fight for.

But you are right about Broadway; a lot of these super-liberal Broadway shows were leading the parade for gay equality.

[In setting up the interview I had mentioned Broadway Impact and their role in the marriage equality fight in New York State]

Blabbeando: I might be wrong, but I’ve been reading your columns since the mid-80’s and I think for a while there you wrote a lot about how bad your sex life was…

Musto: [Laughs]

Blabbeando: But then something happened recently, within the last five years, and you started writing about how it’s getting better. Does get better?

Musto: Yeah, it’s weird because I am past the age when you’d see anything happening. It’s probably because I dropped down my wall. I always had a wall around myself. If someone approached me I would do anything possible to scare them away.

Blabbeando: Well, I don’t know if you mom is alive, but did she react?

Musto: [Pauses....] To me getting fucked!?

Blabbeando: Well…

Musto: [Busts out laughing]

Blabbeando: …to you writing about all the sex you’re having.

Musto: Well, you know, I don’t really tell my family that much of anything. The less you let them know the better. Thank God they don’t read my column or if they did they’d have a heart attack.

Blabbeando: Going back to marriage equality and all that other stuff: I know there is talk about a new gay metropolis hotel with a huge gay dance club and we might have a lesbian mayor in Christine Quinn and all the gays are getting married and, you know, isn’t it a little bit much?

Musto: [Laughs] Well, I would never complain about it because it’s the world I fought for and dreamed of but as gay becomes more and more common-place there is a risk of it being a little bit banal. I think thanks to Lady Gaga and “Glee” and all that stuff ‘gay’ is kinda, you now…

[OMG, I know this makes me a Luddite dork but the cassette tape stopped at this point. Yes. Cassette tape. Don’t ask. Michael and I began discussing ways in which there are a plethora of issues that have yet to be tackled before achieving full equality, including transgender rights and the alarming issue of homeless LGBT youth. So, in other words, ‘we join this interview while already in progress’ as they say in the news biznez]

Musto: We are never going to be able to say ‘Oh, we’re there, we’ve arrived, we have a place at the table’. No way. To this day gay marriage is a huge issue, Christine O’Donnell just walked off Piers Morgan’s show because he asked her about it. So it’s absurd that we have to fight for the right to be human. It’s like we are living these incredible lives, we are doing all the things that we want and yet there are still people who think we have to prove our right to be American citizens? It’s so ludicrous.

Blabbeando: For a while there, all these channels - VH1, The E! Channel – everybody was rushing to do these talking head gossip shows and I know you were invited to be part of some of them but sometimes you’d get booked and then be dropped. What was that experience like and do you get recognized more out on the street for being on those shows.

Musto: I’m still all over TV. Just in the last month alone I was on talking head shows on Current TV, TV Guide Network and Biography Channel and then I pop up on Theater Talk, and I was on Keith Olbermann, so I’m still getting massive recognition from being on TV.

The funny thing is none of these things pay so you are basically a free unpaid whore and you have no rights. They can cancel you at any moment. Or you can do a two-hour interview where they grill you about every aspect of - let’s say Lindsey Lohan’s career - and then they’ll just use one sound-bite that you could have done in your sleep or you could phone it in. But ultimately it’s worth it because it is kinda intoxicating to see yourself on TV and people respond to it in a way that they don’t necessarily respond in print. You know what I mean? When they see you and they recognize you from TV they really wet themselves. And it’s nice for me, I get a nice feeling about it because I have low self esteem [laughs].

Blabbeando: OK, you now this is coming and I am going to ask for a reaction. I’m going to read something that Anderson Cooper read out loud live on TV sometime last week. He was reading a Tweet about himself and he said:
Watching Anderson Cooper giggle is like watching a unicorn fart rainbows. 
Did he come out?

Musto: He said that?

Blabbeando: Well, Is he now officially out? --- or not?

Musto: Well, he giggles like a schoolgirl every New Years when he’s on with Kathy Griffith

Blabbeando: Or like a hamster…

Musto: Or, like a gerbil, maybe, I don’t know, but he's in what I call a glass closet. In other words, he lives a gay lifestyle but he won’t say on the record that he’s out and I’ve always had a problem with it. And I think Don Lemon coming out kinda showed, obviously, you can be a CNN anchor and be out. You can do it.

Blabbeando: Well, I just felt that going out live on his show and mentioning ‘unicorns farting rainbows’ was pretty close to saying "Yes, I am".

Musto: That pretty much, yeah, that says it all. That’s basically his coming out. I thought the giggling itself was his coming out but the unicorn remark just confirms it.

Blabbeando: And, finally, I know you’ve taken to blogging and also to Twitter and I wondered if you had any advice for newbies who wanted to start.

Musto:: I would say first of all, to really find your voice and you can only do that by doing it, by writing. The more you write the more you’ll be able to find your particular tone as a writer. And also don’t just write about anything. If you don’t have any passion for a subject don’t even address it. I mean, I’m not gonna write about the Superbowl. I don’t even know when it is. I may write about the half-time show. But people can tell if you are faking it or if you are just doing some kind of rote, routine blog or Tweet. So just send out stuff you care about. And don’t blog or Tweet every time you go to the bathroom - unless it’s a really major bowel movement.

Blabbeando: And do you have any favorite bloggers that you read?

Musto: I try to follow as many celebrities on Twitter as I can. I just love reading Paris Hilton, Jane Fonda, Roseanne, anybody famous. And I think in a way Facebook took away from blogs, like it’s kind of a new blog. People that in the past would have had a blog or a website now just put their brainfarts on Facebook all day. So that’s where I find myself drawn. I post my blog posts all day there and it’s fun to see the conversations that you start when you throw an idea out there into the blogosphere.

Blabbeando: Yeah, and once you start blogging then there is something new, there’s Twitter and then there’s Tumblr, and whatever comes next.

Musto: I know! And my fingers are like in agony. All that linking!

Blabbeando: So anyway, thanks a lot for the interview, Michael.

Musto: Thank you so much.

  • Michael Musto's column at The Village Voice here
  • Michael Musto on Facebook here
  • Michael Musto on Twitter here

Monday, August 22, 2011

Warning: This banner might induce transgender threesomes (UPDATED)

  • UPDATE: La Prensa reports that a number of unknown individuals identified themselves as members of the Free Expression Foundation to get past security and removed the banner overnight on August 22nd of 2011. The matter is under investigation by university authorities.
In January of this year United States president Barack Obama took the highly unusual step of publicly calling on the Honduran government to step up its investigations of a series of brutal murders committed in recent months against the LGBT community - and particularly against transgender women.  The statement was quickly followed by Honduran press reports that the U.S. Department of State, under Hillary Clinton, had committed to send trained personnel to investigate the murders.

I am not aware of additional information on efforts by the United States to assist Honduras in the investigate these crimes but a week ago members of the Honduran LGBT community staged a protest outside the Honduran Congress in Tegucigalpa once again calling for justice.

In such an environment you might think a campaign calling for respect for diverse communities might be welcome with open arms. Instead, a pro-diversity campaign organized by students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras has drawn the ire of some parents and faculty members who allege that a prominently placed banner promotes immoral behavior.

"I want the authorities in charge of making the banner visible to university youth to remove it for the sake of the mental health of the students - it does nothing more than to promote homosexuality among students" said María Antonia Cruz, identified by La Tribuna as the mother of two students attending their first semester at the university.

Editors at La Prensa, covering the story in yesterday's paper, stated rather matter-of-factly "This banner invites men to have relations with men, women with women and there is even an image of a threesome, which shows a man dressed like a woman grabbing the hands of two men."

Responding to the outrage and irresponsible press coverage, a representative of the non-profit student organization that developed the campaign said it only was meant to promote tolerance and that, while the focus of attention had been placed on a banner that alluded to sexual diversity, it was one of five different banners, including one promoting racial tolerance and another promoting and end to violence in sport events.

"Students are deeply engaged in their campaign because it's about tolerance, respect," said Angela Valladares of the Free Expression Foundation as quoted in Tiempo, "Young people have raised their voice [in favor of] tolerance, choice and respect".

The banner in the middle of the controversy shows a lesbian couple and a gay couple holding each other with a transgender woman in the middle holding the hands of a man and a woman.  A legend on the top of the banner reads "Freedom starts with the respect of differences; you decide if you want to free."  It hangs prominently from the side of a university building.

The banner promoting racial and religious tolerance shows five young women each holding a heart in their hands.  The legend reads "It's not the skin that makes you different, but what you hold inside; we are more than 7 ethnicities and 2 religions - we are what we can do with our minds."

Interviewed by La Tribuna on the decision to leave the banners up despite the protests, the university's director defended the student-led campaign.

"In this country I think we sometimes lack profundity in the analysis, and institutional functions are debated and misunderstood because the role of the church is one thing and that of the University is another" said Julieta Castellanos.

Castellanos said the University did not function as the church nor did it exist to preach the gospel.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Musica: Doctor Rosen Rosen's Girls, Vol. 1

Los Angeles-based music producer/remixer/writer Doctor Rosen Rosen is not necessarily a household name but I have been keeping an eye on his talents since he released a semi-authorized re-rub of UK singer Lily Allen's 2009 album "Allright, Still".  He used Lily's original vocal tracks but built up a brand new aural soundscape around them delivering a pretty stunning companion piece to the original album.  If you haven't done so yet, you can download all twelve tracks for free here.

If you love the original album and have yet to hear this companion piece, download it here and  It still stands as a great companion album to the original.

The Doctor has also taken stabs at remixing tracks from other artists, some by commission and some not, including Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, La Roux, M.I.A. and Phoenix (you can download some of those tracks here).

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!: This week, though, brought the release of Doctor Rosen Rosen's first proper original artist album in the form of a 4-track EP called "Girls, Vol. 1".  And, let me tell you, it's a great blast of sugary summertime pop.

On his website, the Doctor explains that this is the first of several EP's he'll be releasing in the next few months and that each track will feature a different female vocalist.

For this release, the tracks are:

"Five O'Clock" (feat. Jessie & The Boy Toys)": A rollicking kiss-off track that starts with the tic-toc of a clock and, at times, sounds like a modern version of "Rock Lobster" from the B-52's.

"Poison" (feat. Meg Myers): Over at Arjan's blog, Rosen says he drew inspiration for this track from The Cure's "Lullaby" but, to me, it sounds a bit more like late 80's Siouxie infused with some M.I.A./Basement Jaxx swagger over a Nirvana-ish grunge guitar background.

"Hot" (feat. Kay): A slowed-down ragga-infused deep-bass party track. "All my party people are you feeling the bass yet?" Kay sings. Oh, yes.

"Sex-Ed" (feat. Anjulie): This is just pure NYC summer fun, circa 1985, probably the best song of the lot. Then again, I've always loved a bouncy, cheeky, blippy track you can blast while driving a jeep.  And I don't even have a jeep.

Really, it's a great EP and I love the fact that it gives four different up and coming female performers a chance to shine.  Go download it now and let me know what you think about it.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazing transgender rights campaign ad from Argentina

On the early morning of July 15 of 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples. Such a tremendous human rights victory did not take place in a vacuum: It counted with the support of the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and it was the culmination of a long and effective marriage equality campaigned led by the Argentinean LGBT Federation (FALGBT), a coalition of LGBT organizations throughout the country.

Even then, as they pulled efforts and resources towards the marriage equality fight, the FALGBT never lost focus on what they said would be their next battle: The push for a law which would allow transgender individuals to change their name on their ID's and birth certificates.

Several bills have been introduced in the Argentinean legislature and the day has come for debate on the law. From xQsi Magazine:
On Thursday, August 18, 2011, the Argentinian Congress will begin the debate on a proposed gender identity law. If passed, this law would allow anyone to correct hir name, gender and image registration in all public records through a quick and simple procedure.

Currently, trans people who wish to obtain a government ID with their true gender and name must wait years for a judges ruling, often being denied and forced to go through a lengthy and costly appeals process.

In preparation, the Argentinian Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people (FALGBT) and the ATTTA (Asociación de Trasvetis, Transexuales y Transgéneros de Argentina) launched earlier last week, the campaign “Identidad: Derecho a ser” (“Identity: The right to be” in English).
As part of the campaign, ATTTA and the  FALGBT contracted Director Juan Pablo Felix and producer Matías Romero to come up with the first video for the transgender rights campaign. It's amazing. Take a look:

If you recognize somebody from the video it's because you have seen him on this blog before.   On December of 2010, Alejandro Iglesias shocked viewers of the Argentinean version of the Big Brother reality show by disclosing he was a transgender man and had entered the house seeking funding for gender-reassignment surgery.  Once in the house, Alejandro found some allies and revealed his identity to his house-mates as well.  The revelation quickly became common knowledge around the house, bringing with it a subtle and not-so-subtle rejection from some of the male house members, and a few outright transphobic questionning of his identy - particularly from a gay house member.  Alejandro would eventually leave the house without making it to the final.

The most interesting part, for me, was watching Alejandro not only become a national sensation, but see his blossoming activist awareness.  Challenged by ATTTA and the FALGBT to help them raise awareness about the gender identity bills now in play, after leaving the house, Alejandro kept his promise and became a visible partner of both organizations.  In April, with their help, Alejandro became one of the few transgender individuals to receive a new ID card when he went to the courts to ask for it.  The new law, if passed, would facilitate the process without having to go through a court battle.

In the meantime, as an aside and going back to marriage equality: The banner above is what you see when you go to Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's re-election campaign YouTube Site.  It includes a video that celebrates diversity and the moment she signed the marriage equality bill into law.

It's not hard to miss, but that's Alex Freyre kissing his husband José Maria Di Bello right to the left of the president --- and this is on President Kirchner's general re-election YouTube campaign page!

Alex and José are, of course, the first gay couple to marry in Latin America.  Alex tells me that it's not only the first time that a presidential campaign has used the image of a gay couple so prominently.