Sunday, March 29, 2009

Castro's Boycott Jamaica Launch:

New Pics From Clinton Fein

My friend Clinton Fein has posted his photos from yesterday's launch of the Boycott Jamaica campaign, and they're so fabulous I'm sharing the best of the lot here. Many thanks to everyone who helped make the rum dump fun and successful, and to all of those supporting the boycott. Be sure to visit for the latest and most comprehensive info on this important global mobilization against Jamaica's human rights abuses against its gay citizens.

With the historic Castro Theatre dominating in the background, a handful of advocates pour Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer onto Castro Street.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, wearing his Boycott Jamaica tee shirt subverting the Red Stripe logo, has a hearty laugh before he speaks about his endorsement of the boycott.

Longtime leather community organizer Gary Virginia looking colorful holding a sign he made to send a message to Jamaica's leaders.

Veteran queer community organizer Todd Swindell tapes up boycott posters on a pole in Harvey Milk Plaza, before the rum dump begins. His tee shirt reads, "The Religious Right is Dead Wrong."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

SF Jamaican Consul to Meet Gays at City Hall;

Bars Boycott Myers's Rum, Red Stripe Beer

[If you decide to reproduce any of the photos on your news site or blog, all I ask is that you use the following text with the image: "Photo credit:" and that you link to the site. More photos will be available later tonight here at Clinton Fein's site.]

Group shot at Harvey Milk Plaza, after the rally,with unopened bottles of Jamaican drinks that had been donated by an individual who wanted the swill out of his home.

From the left: Clinton Fein, with camera; Veronika Cauley dumping Myers's rum, and Gary Virginia wearing yellow and green boas. Notice the wet street, soaked with Red Stripe beer.

Our diva Veronika dumping every drop of Myers's rum on Castro Street.

From the left: Veronika Cauley, Duane Cramer, and
Jack Smith
at Cafe Flore, a boycott supporter.

Under the enormous rainbow flag hung on the large pole at Harvey Milk Plaza, today at high noon, a handful of homosexual human rights advocates gathered to launch the Boycott Jamaica campaign over the escalating violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and HIV poz persons in Jamaica.

At the event, Supervisor Bevan Dufty delivered the incredible news: He had arranged a meeting at his City Hall office with the honorary consul of Jamaica for San Francisco, Dr. Newton Gordon, DDS.

At the April 7 meeting, boycott organizers and elected officials will discuss their concerns over the latest State Department report that said Jamaican gays were victims of mob violence and targeted shootings. The group will urge immediate action and demand that Jamaica's government protect its GLBTI citizens.

The crowd was pleased to hear of this diplomatic development between gay leaders and the Jamaican government's official representatives. Activists were equally delighted when Dufty promised to get Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer out of the gay bars in San Francisco within 30 days time.

Our event's diva, Veronika Cauley, gave heart-breaking remarks about the abuses gay people are suffering on the island nation. She reminded us that as an African-American, transgender woman, who is living with AIDS, her moral duty was to speak out for boycotting Jamaican liquor and telling travelers to not visit the country.

In my comments, I read a short list of assorted bars, restaurants, civic leaders, web sites and political organization supporting the Jamaican boycott:

1. Cafe Flore, San Francisco

2. Buck Tavern, San Francisco

3. Gallery Lounge, San Francisco

4. DaDa Bar, San Francisco

5. Sidetracks, Chicago

6. DeLessio Market & Cafe, San Francisco

7. Woodhouse Fish Company, San Francisco

8. Chow, San Francisco

9. Patricia Nell Warren, Author of "The Front Runner"

10. Sean Strub, Founder of POZ Magazine

12. Bevan Dufty, Elected Official

13. Michael Petrelis, Community Organizer

14. Wayne Besen, Truths Wins Out

15. Jim Burroway, Box Turtle Bulletin

16. Clinton Fein, Political Artist

17. Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Housing Advocate

18. Gary Virginia, Leather Community Organizer

19. Veronika Cauley, Black Transgender Organizer

20. Duane Cramer, African-American HIV/AIDS Advocate

21. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, South Africa

22. Alexander Hamilton GLBT Veteran's Post, San Francisco

23., USA

24. LGBT Hip Hop News, USA

25. Same Gender Loving Universe, USA

26. The Brother Love, USA

27. TransGriot from Monica Roberts, SA

28. Seattle Gay News

Clinton Fein, political artist and activist, creator of the Boycott Jamaica/Red Stripe image, spoke about the Facebook page he's created for the boycott. He has also made fabulous Boycott Jamaica icons and such that would look great on blogs and gay news sites.

All in all, a great start to the Boycott Jamaica campaign.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cancer Society:
Jamaican Fear of Gays = More Prostate Cancer

There are many ways in which hatred of homosexuals harms a civilized society. First, there is the violence and stigma directed at same-gender loving persons. Then there is the rippling damage that strikes at the well-being and good health of heterosexuals.

The Jamaican press recently reported on the country's world ranking as a top spot for prostate cancer, and that the high level of disease is directly attributable to the fear of homo-sex and being tagged inclined toward same-sex attractions.

From the Jamaica Observer:

CHAIRMAN of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Earl Jarrett, has raised concerns that the fear of being labelled homosexuals [sic] is causing some Jamaican men to shy away from doing prostate examinations, resulting in the country maintaining the record of having one of the highest prostate cancer rates in the world.

Jarrett who was addressing the Rotary Club of New Kingston at the Pegasus Hotel recently, implored more men to encourage each other to do the prostate examination, which could eventually save their lives.

"In 2009, there is no reason why Jamaican men should still be of the view that to have a digital rectal examination is an indication of some homosexuality. There is no reason why we should allow the homophobia to get to the stage where it impacts on our health," he said.

Jarrett said the mortality rate for cancer is still on the increase despite the Jamaica Cancer Society's efforts to provide education and free screening for many Jamaicans. He noted that the compliance rate for Jamaican men is extremely low.

"In Jamaica there is a extremely low rate of compliance for Jamaican men to be screened for prostate cancer. Jamaican men are still hung up on the simple test that needs to be done to fight prostate cancer," he said. ...

Seems to me the Jamaican Cancer Society could do a lot to save the lives of all Jamaican men, from both prostate cancer and homophobic violence, through social marketing campaigns addressing both problems.

Kudos to the society's president for publicly addressing the intersection of homophobia and prostate cancer, and to a lesser degree, to the Jamaican press for covering his remarks, albeit in a very slanted NY Post-style kind of way.

(Photo credit: Jamaican Observer. Jamaican Cancer Society chairman Earl Jarrett, second from right, at the Kingston Rotary Club.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bay Area Reporter: Boycott Jamaica

The Bay Area Reporter's guest opinion column this week is my column about the boycott of Jamaica I'm helping to pull together. Hoping to see lots of friends and activists on Saturday, at noon, at Harvey Milk Plaza, for the official launch of San Francisco's contribution to the boycott Jamaica campaign.

My column:

Regardless of who's sitting in the Oval Office running the country or leading the State Department, every year the U.S. survey of human rights practices for Jamaica and the deadly violence and other horrific acts perpetrated against LGBT people makes for grim reading.

The reports never contain any good news for Jamaican LGBT people, and the latest report, issued in February, documents a dramatic surge in human rights violations, that too often go uninvestigated and unprosecuted. Here are some depressing highlights:

"The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals ... a fire bombing at the home of two men that left one of them with burns on more than 60 percent of his body ... Lesbian women were subject to sexual assault as well as other physical attacks ... No laws protect persons living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. Human rights NGOs [non-governmental organizations] reported severe stigma and discrimination against this group."

Also well-documented in the Jamaican press, with gruesome photos included, are mob attacks on transgender persons, often beaten bloody, left with no protection from the police force.

The nation's prime minister, Bruce Golding, recently called for strengthening and preserving the draconian buggery law, which fuels much of the burning homo-hatred across Jamaica's political and religious institutions.

Golding boasted to parliament: "We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organizations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalize the laws as it relates to buggery."

Translation? Jamaica is happy to take gay money and do nothing to eradicate the penal code sections that criminalize LGBT citizens and marks them with heavy stigma. There is no end in sight to the hellish miseries suffered by the LGBT community in Jamaica.

But starting this weekend, at Harvey Milk Plaza, site of many actions by Milk in his crusade against Coors beer, a coalition of activists will gather to launch the boycott of Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer.

The time has come to ask all gay bars and restaurants in San Francisco to boycott Jamaican rum and beer. Switch to serving rums from Puerto Rico and beers produced in countries with enlightened gay laws and social acceptance.

The Jamaican boycott encompasses not only Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer; we are also asking travelers to avoid cruises to the country. There is no justifiable reason for gays and our allies who value the lives of LGBT and persons with AIDS in Jamaica to vacation there, or consume their alcoholic drinks.

Across the USA, gays are stepping up to create a successful boycott of Jamaican products and cruises.

In Brooklyn, Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out is developing a Web site to provide background information. He's working closely with Jim Burroway of Arizona, researcher and editor of the Box Turtle Bulletin blog. Besen and Burroway have both written extensively on the need to flex gay economic muscle and not spend our dollars in a country that explicitly hates us.

We also have Art Johnston, owner of Sidetracks, Chicago's largest video and cruise bar, pulling Myers's rum from his shelf, and working with other gay bars there to come on board the Jamaican boycott express. Across the pond, UK activists are poised to promote the boycott in their pubs and newspapers.

Small, but very important steps toward building a public relations nightmare for the county's political and religious leaders, who remain silent about the anti-gay human rights abuses.

There are several avenues of participation I ask you to consider. Personally boycott Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer. Ask your favorite bars to boycott them also. If you're a bar or restaurant owner willing to pull those products, call me to add your establishment's name to the growing list of gay venues boycotting Jamaican drinks. My phone number is: (415) 621-6267.

And deliver a pro-gay and pro-boycott message to Mr. Anthony Johnson, the Jamaican ambassador to the U.S. Send e-mails to: You can reach the embassy by telephone at: (202) 452-0660.

Our demands are simple and doable: 1) Repeal Jamaica's oppressive sodomy law, 2) Issue a statement from the prime minister clearly and unequivocally condemning violence against LGBT people and apologizing for past violence, 3) Implement a gay-affirming program to train police officers.

It will take many political and economic strategies to bring about the change we all want to see in Jamaica, and the one Web site to learn about those strategies goes live this weekend. Check out and tell your friends to visit the site.

Let's start the Jamaica boycott with a rousing and fabulous launch on Saturday, March 28, at noon, at Harvey Milk Plaza, that would not only make Harvey proud, but also send a powerful message to Jamaican leaders to start respecting the human rights and dignity of LGBT persons across the island country.

Join us on Saturday as we pour Myers's rum and Red Stripe beer where they belong –down the sewer.

Video of Jamaican Tranny-Bashing

Remember my earlier post about the April 2007 bashing of a Jamaican transgender person, a brutal and bloody attack that was photographed and reported by the local media? Well, since writing that post I've learned through site, that someone shot video footage of the attack.

Terrance in DC, who operates the site, took the footage and wove it around photos of lynchings of black men in America, creating a disturbing and violent montage of hatred. BTW, Terrance proclaims he's black, gay, a Buddhist, has kids, is liberal and a vegetarian. Sounds like quite a guy and I hope one day to meet him.

The three-minute video turned my stomach. Absolutely ALL of the photos and video images serve to remind us much education and change is needed to overcome racial and homophobic hatred.

Thank you, Terrance, for making the video and drawing links between the American lynchings and a Jamaican transgender man publicly brutalized.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Video: Jamaican MP:

'Many Homos Are Holders of Licensed Firearms'

Over at the KingstonStateofMind blog, covering all things Jamaican, we find this goofy and awful clip of one nutty homo-hating Member of Parliament, Ernest Smith, railing against gays during the recent floor debate on the buggery law:

The blog provides this transcript of some of Smith's remarks:

“I am very concerned that homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they have formed themselves into organizations. They are on the street. In fact, they are abusive. They are violent. And something the Minister of National Security has to look into, why is it that so many homosexuals are holders of licensed firearms.”

Smith and his attitudes are a reminder that anti-gay politicians exist everywhere, and are a danger to the safety and lives of GLBT people. Many thanks to KingstonStateofMind for posting and sharing the video. I don't sense that the blogger behind the site is gay himself, but he sure ain't buying the "blame the homos for Jamaica's woes" b.s. being peddled by MP Smith:

Homosexuals are also responsible for the Jamaican dollar sliding off a cliff, banning “daggering”, motor vehicle accidents, bad roads and the many layoffs in Jamaica due to the “world economic crisis”, Air Jamaica’s soaring debt, JUTC in the red and the recent out break of Malaria.

If only there were no homosexuals in Jamaica then everything would be excellent.

Which 'Boycott Jamaica' Logo is Best?

Cast Your Vote Now!

A handful of gays in San Francisco will launch a boycott of Jamaican products and tourism on March 28 at noon at Harvey Milk Plaza because of violence and human rights abuses suffered by GLBT people down there. I'll be sending out a release on the Saturday kick-off tomorrow.

But today, I need your help evaluating three fine logos that all send the same message: Boycott Jamaica. Not sure which is the absolute best for our campaign, or if there should be only one official logo for us organizers to promote. Give them all a looking-over, then leave a comment about which you approve of the most.

Here is my favorite, because it delivers the message, No Myers's, cruises or Red Stripe beer, without words. I'm also partial to logos that feature the international "no" symbol. Would this image be more effective with "Boycott Jamaica" added underneath? This was designed by Wayne Besen, a boycott organizer.

Two snaps up for using an existing, well-recognized corporate symbol and subverting it for gay political purposes. Boycott Jamaica is readable, but the line above, "No To Gaybashing No To Red Stripe & Myers's Rum", is hard to make out. Same goes for the Jamaica tourism board's slogan in red letters, which I think confuses the boycott message. This was created by Clinton Fein, artist and political activist.

I found this image on the GBMNews site and approve of the message getting across through text as the eyes scroll down. But visually, it doesn't resonate with me, and I wonder if the Jamaican Lion of Judah in green is recognizable to a wide cross-section of people. Not sure who designed the image.

Finally, here is an excerpt of a news story from Jamaica that I wasn't aware of until yesterday, and provides more reasons why this boycott is necessary, and overdue.

March 31, 2008
The Jamaica Star

Though incident-free for the most part, there were at least two major events that marred yesterday's staging of Jamaica Carnival 2008.

Men, believed to be gay, earned the wrath of spectators who attacked them damaging a bus and injuring a police officer.

Superintendent Lenval Hutton, who was on the scene, said the parade was moving along Waterloo Road when, upon reaching the intersection with West Kings House Road, some men joined the parade.

The men were allegedly gyrating and wining on each other and this angered spectators who started to stone them. Police, in an attempt to prevent any further incident, placed four of the men into a police bus which was working at the festivities. However, this did not stop the spectators from continuing to attack the men. Someone threw a stone through the window of the bus, shattering one of the windows and cutting the hand of a corporal who was also in the bus.

One of the men who were attacked was slashed across the forehead. The police did not hold anyone in connection with the incident as the perpetrator ran off. But the Superintendent said a report was made at the Half-Way Tree Police Station and the matter is being investigated.

The men were taken to the police station where they were released.

Anyone know what "wining on each other" could mean?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Essence: Bishop Says Gays
Are Killing Gays in Jamaica

(A transgender person under attack from a mob of heterosexuals, April 2007. Source: The Jamaica Observer.)

Ah, the twilight zone. A space between reality and willful fantasy. On at least one occasion, an influential religious leader in Jamaica was in the twilight zone when he made incredibly ignorant and outrageous claims about the violence gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face in his country.

From the March issue of the black women's magazine Essence:

Bishop Herro Blair, one of Jamaica's most respected pastors, who presides over 22 churches on the island, dismisses the notion that men are being beaten for being gay. He offers his own theory for the violent killings that have been reported in Jamaican newspapers—that they are lovers' quarrels. "I can safely say, nine times out of ten, that when a homosexual is killed, it's by another homosexual," he declares, leaning forward over the desk in his stately office in the capital city of Kingston.

"Homosexuals are the most jealous community you'll find anywhere in the world," he adds.

I sure would like to know there the bishop got his statistic from and who has verified his claim. It certainly was not the U.S. State Department. Echoing the bishop's nonsense is a high-ranking government official in charge of, ahem, justice:

Minister of Justice Dorothy Lightbourne also isn't convinced gay men are being targeted. "There have been reports in the paper of incidences," allows Lightbourne. "But I wouldn't say it's so widespread. I don't know, sometimes it could be youngsters too-young boys-who carry on these acts. I'm just making a suggestion."

But as activists and local officials square off about the severity of homophobia in Jamaica, gay men and lesbians say they are struggling just to stay alive.

As troubling as these comments may be, I'm still glad Essence included them, if only to educate readers about the awful stupidity of religious and political leaders of Jamaica. And because I hope the remarks move more gay people and human rights advocates to support the boycott of Jamaica that launches on March 28 from San Francisco.

Who can read those dumb comments and think the safety of gays on the island nation is well understood by the country's leaders?

The magazine devoted lots of space to the extreme violence facing GLBT Jamaicans. Here are excerpts:

Gareth Henry is haunted by a memory. When he tells the story, his voice starts to crack. It was a sunny day, June 18, 2004, and Henry, a slightly built man with a round, boyish face and quick smile, was relaxing on the beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with a few friends. From where he sat, he could see three police officers approach another friend, Victor Jarrett, who was farther down the beach. Henry vividly remembers one of the officers pushing Jarrett, 24, while another yelled at him that no battymen (local patois for faggot) belonged on the beach. Henry winced as the officers began to beat Jarrett with their batons and fists. ...

"I will never forget it," Henry, 31, says, speaking in the vaguely British lilt of a well-educated Jamaican. "There were about 100 people and they were saying to the officers, 'Hand him over; let us finish him.' " According to Henry and several eyewitnesses who would later report the incident to the international rights organization Human Rights Watch, the police walked away from Jarrett, leaving him to the angry mob. "Beat him because him a battyman!" said one of the officers. Men picked up sticks and stones and started pummeling Jarrett. ...

Not depressing enough for you? Then read this:

Even children are not spared the abuse: In one of the more shocking examples cited by Amnesty International, in February 2004, an eleventh-grader at a Kingston high school was assaulted when his father, suspecting his child was gay after finding a picture of a nude man in the boy's backpack, summoned other students to beat him.

The island's gay rights organization, Jamaica's Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), notes that between 2006 and 2008 more than 150 homophobic assaults and murders were reported to the agency. Gay men and lesbians have been chased, chopped, beaten, raped and shot.

Does that sound like a tourist destination gay dollars should support? The boycott of cruises to the island nation, Myers rum and Red Stripe beer is long overdue. More horrors from Essence:

J-FLAG, which is funded by anonymous donors and international human rights agencies, provides assistance to gays and lesbians who have been harassed or attacked, helping them find safe housing and making sure they get medical attention. According to the organization, gay men suffer the most abuse, but lesbians are not immune.

In August, for example, [JFLAG volunteer] Karlene was called to help Stephan, a young lesbian, and her brother, Karl, relocate after they were shot at by neighbors. (Both Stephan and Karl declined to use their full names.) The two were outside their home one night, looking for a set of car keys that had fallen in the dirt. Suddenly two men who were sitting on a nearby veranda opened fire. Stephan was shot through the abdomen, the bullet piercing her kidney and liver. Bleeding profusely, she fell to the ground and pretended to be dead. As she lay there, one of the gunmen shot her between her legs.

"He was aiming for my vagina," she says, "but the bullet only grazed my buttock."

Jamaica. Hell on earth for LGBT people. The boycott of Jamaica begins this weekend.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NYT: ACT UP Writer, Companion
'Affirm Their Partnership'

Just a few weeks ago, I ran into my friend Karl Soehnlein at the DeLessio Cafe on Market Street, where we bump into each other these days. We know each other from the dark, awful deadly days of ACT UP/New York's glory days. I flapped my jaw about political stuff and Karl mentioned a new book he has coming out soon, but he said nothing about getting marr-, oops, I was about to say married, but that is the wrong word.

Today, over the breakfast table, my partner Mike and I shared the news from the paper edition of the New York Times, including the big write up on Karl's affirmation with his partner, as the Gray Lady described their getting hitched:

Kevin Patrick Clarke and Karl Manfred Soehnlein affirmed their partnership Saturday night at the Lodge at the Regency Center in San Francisco. The commitment ceremony was led by the Rev. Trismegista Taylor, a minister affiliated with the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministries in Berkeley, Calif.

Whatever it is they did on Saturday night, it sure sounds New Age-y, and I wish the newly affirmed all the best. ;-)

Mr. Clarke, 41, (left) is a performer and member of both the Art Street Theater and the Chris Black/Potrzebie Dance Project. He is also a freelance graphic design consultant, working mostly with nonprofit arts groups. He graduated from Cornell. ...

Mr. Soehnlein, 43, [right] a novelist, is the author of “The World of Normal Boys” (Kensington, 2000) and “You Can Say You Knew Me When” (Kensington, 2005). He teaches in the Master of Fine Arts writing program at the University of San Francisco. He graduated from Ithaca College and received a master’s in creative writing from San Francisco State University. ...

How did the two happy homos meet each other?

The couple met 10 years ago when they were living around the corner from each other in the Mission district of San Francisco.

Their first encounter was at a cafe. Mr. Clarke said he attempted to start a conversation, but admitted, “My opening gambit was a miserable failure.”

Mr. Soehnlein said that Mr. Clarke “asked if my name was Darren, “so I assumed he thought I was someone else.”

About a week later Mr. Clarke spotted Mr. Soehnlein at a neighborhood laundry.

“I caught him alone, folding a yellow T-shirt,” Mr. Clarke said. “He flashed me a let’s-try-that-again grin.”

I know that grin well from ACT UP meetings at the NYC gay community center and know how it and Karl can motivate men. But what mighty force brought them together?

They were both involved with others at the time but over the next nine months they ran into each other in the neighborhood and gradually became friends. They discovered that they both had artistic sensibilities and had gone to college in the same town. It was a bicycle accident that made them realize they were right for each other.

“Karl’s apartment was above my favorite coffee shop,” Mr. Clarke said. “Early on I used to plan my morning caffeine run to coincide with his departure for work. One morning I spotted him on his bicycle, looking somewhat dazed, traveling toward his home, not toward his work. Calling out to him, I learned he had just had a bike accident.” ...

Bad biking or a lousy bus driver made them into a couple? Is this out of a gay urban romance, or what? Let's find out how they progressed in their romancing:

“He was not only dazed, he was banged up,” he said. “I helped him get home, sat him down and got out the peroxide. I made him an ice pack for his head but not before I scolded him for riding without a helmet.”

Later that day, Mr. Clarke was back in his apartment when the doorbell rang.

“I looked out my window,” he said, “and there was Karl, a shiny new gold helmet he had just purchased in one hand and a fist full of daffodils in the other.”

Mr. Soehnlein said the flowers were actually paperwhites.

“Anyway, he wears a helmet now,” Mr. Clarke said.

I'm putting my inner Thelma Ritter aside, and not making a wisecrack, because I find it touching that Karl took care of not only being sweet to his future honey, but also bought a damn helmet for protection.

Best of luck, boys. And Karl, wear that helmet. Bikers in this town are more dangerous than car drivers.

SF DPH Slide:
AIDS Plague Coming to an End?

Apologies for the fuzziness of the graph, but you can view the original, from the December 2008 SF DPH year-end AIDS surveillance report, by clicking here. It appears on page 2.

What we have here, in my opinion, is the latest piece of evidence from America's AIDS Model City, that the plague has not only long been over, but that there is no resurgence of full-blown AIDS cases or deaths.

The graph shows three colored lines of great news. The light purple line represents numbers of AIDS diagnoses, while the red line is for AIDS deaths. Both peaked in the early 1990s and continue to fall.

Then there is the upward shaped gray line, for number of people living with AIDS. I'm not applauding that more people have the disease, but rather saying it's a good thing more PWAs are still alive.

None of this is new news in any sense of the word. It's simply a continuation of trends underway here for quite sometime. So why call attention to AIDS statistics when we all know the real focus of AIDS Inc is on HIV statistics and transmissions?

For one reason: I'm obsessed with following the AIDS and the HIV figures. The numbers may no longer warrant media attention or come under scrutiny at City Hall or get debated at the HIV/AIDS planning councils, but it's to our detriment to ignore the newest surveillance report.

Finally, when plagues end, or there is mounting statistical evidence a viral epidemic is ending, I want to make sure there are lots of surveillance reports to back up any claims made.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

GLAAD's View of Anal Condoms and Gays;
Two Rebuttals

Last week, after I blogged about the FDA giving approval to a new version of the Reality female condom, a device that can and is used for anal sex, as barrier to HIV and STDs and pregnancy, I spoke with my friend Richard Ferraro in NYC who works as the spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

I asked him to have GLAAD issue an action alert over the news accounts on the FDA approval, because the reporters failed to mention Reality's role in stopping new HIV infections among gay men. He promised to look into the matter and get back to me, which he did yesterday.

Richard's reply disappointed me because GLAAD so narrowly focused on the federal agencies involved in researching and potentially promoting new HIV barriers, agencies not known for being gay-friendly nor actively looking for new ways to work with the gay community for better gay health.

It's so tiresome to see GLAAD not engaged in creative thinking either about recent Reality stories omitting gay men, or the need for more scientific studies on use of anal condoms during male-on-male sex. Has this group lost all urgency to promote better ways of stopping new gay HIV and STD infections? If GLAAD has, well, then it's not alone. Lots of gay and HIV/AIDS nonprofits are complacent about advocating for improved prevention methods.

Regardless of the studies or federal approval, the Stop AIDS Project of San Francisco, a group run by and for gay men, has long distributed the anal condom as an effective barrier to halting new anal transmission of HIV. The San Francisco Department of Public Health funds distribution of Reality through such groups, and also makes anal condoms available at city-run clinics.

If the Stop AIDS Project and the SF DPH can promote and hand out Reality to gays, it would be wise of GLAAD to speak with those organizations and work with them to renew attention on anal condoms and reinvigorating the debate about HIV prevention.

I shared Richard Ferraro's thoughtful reply with Thomas Kraemer, a gay scholar and researcher based in Oregon, who has tracked new developments in science-based HIV prevention on his blog. You can read his response after GLAAD's reply below.

Even though GLAAD is not mobilizing any resources about Reality and its coverage regarding gay men, I"m still pleased Richard wrote back because his reply is a small contribution to the debate about better HIV prevention for our community in the new century.

The reply from GLAAD:

Hi Michael,

As we always do, our Programs department researched this issue before determining if our media advocacy work is appropriate and spent a great deal of time doing so to ensure accuracy - which is cause for the delay in my reply to you.

The female condom is not approved by the FDA and clinical trials have been inconclusive. The FDA has included that “Female condoms are neither approved nor for anal sex, either for MSM or heterosexual women.” Studies that we reviewed conclude that there is difficulty inserting and keeping the female condom in place for men who have sex with men. Design modifications and trainings may be needed before MSM can use the product safely. The FDA, CDC and studies our Programs team reviewed conclude that without being educated on proper usage and without design modifications, the product at times can be dangerous. Media outlets rely on the work and official statements and stances of the FDA and CDC.

It would be a disservice to advocate that the media report on off-label use at this point. The education and instructions for proper use by men who have sex with men is not readily available and the studies we reviewed call for design modifications.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best, Rich

And here is the response from Thomas Kraemer:

Dear Michael,

GLAAD's concerns about the "female condom" being used for gay anal sex are well-known, but they ignore the underlying political problem that anti-gay policies of the Republicans and Bush administration eliminated funding of the research needed to adapt the "female condom" to be an FDA approved "anal condom" for HIV prevention among gay men.

Right now, most research efforts are being directed toward reducing heterosexual HIV-2 infections in Africa because of anti-gay Bush policies. Researchers are afraid of losing funding if they apply their work also to gay men in America.

Also, GLAAD is missing that the required FDA research studies on the "female condom" for anal sex were done in the 1990s, but the company did not have the financial resources to seek final FDA approval, especially given that sodomy was not legalized in the U.S. until 2003.

In fact, many gay men have been using the female condom despite the lack of FDA approval.

Other new alternatives needing research funding include PEG-ES enemas that can be used either by itself to reduce intestinal wall damage, or as a delivery mechanism for a rectal microbicide to prevent new HIV infections.

Where is the leadership needed to obtain research funding support for new methods, such as the "female condom" and PEG-ES enemas, to prevent HIV-1 infections from gay anal sex in America?

Best, Thomas

Thank you, Thomas, for not only discussing Reality with common sense, but for also calling attention to the other methods of unapproved ways to stop HIV in the gay community. We need more thinking like yours.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Diva Mag: No Woman No Cry:
Lesbians in Jamaica

My recent campaign organizing a boycott of Jamaican rum and beer has included posts about attacks and murders of gay men and transgender persons, with little said about lesbians. Except for a one-sentence mention in the State Department report on sexual assaults suffered by Jamaican lesbians, I've not found anything of more substance to post. Until now.

There's an article from Diva magazine out of London on our sisters in Jamaica and what life is like for some of them, including a recent wedding:

It was a bright spring day in April when the two women walked down the candlelit aisle of their church in New Kingston. Behind the locked church doors, a congregation of 80 friends and family, many of whom had flown in from Canada and America, came to witness the extraordinary and courageous event. ‘All my friends and anyone I’ve talked with for a while knows about my sexuality; I refuse to pretend. I’m a proud lesbian. And it was a real thrill for me to have one of my sons walk me down the aisle’, she said. ‘We had a cake-cutting, union candle, toast and the works: I wore a traditional white dress made by Christian Dior. We sealed our union with a kiss and signed a Power of Attorney to each other’.

Beverly’s decision is all the more poignant, considering the catalogue of abuse she’s experienced since she came out a few years ago. The last time, she was threatened by a mob who saw her with a young, gay man at a Burger King outlet. The assault was preceded by an angry exchange and verbal taunts of ‘sodomite’ and ‘lesbian’. ‘It’s all part of what we’ve grown to expect,’ Beverly explains. ‘Verbal abuse takes place on a daily basis, and I regularly see and hear about lesbians who’ve been raped and beaten. We can’t hold hands safely, regardless of whether you’re middle- or working-class, and we’re routinely run out of regular dancehalls. Gina fears losing her job if her boss finds out she’s gay. We both live in fear of officially sanctioned persecution’.

Most of the media coverage of Jamaica’s homophobia has focused on the violently anti-gay lyrics of the country’s dancehall and reggae music, and brought to the world’s attention the murder in 2004 of Jamaican gay rights campaigner Brian Williamson, founder of J-FLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gays, the country’s first and only LGBT lobbying, advocacy and support group.

But little has been written specifically about the experiences of Jamaican lesbians. Although lesbianism isn’t a criminal offence under Jamaican law, lesbians are significantly affected by Jamaica’s climate of homophobic violence. Karlene is co-chair of J-FLAG, and uses only her first name because of fears for her safety. Against inconceivable odds, J-FLAG runs a women’s group. Says Karlene: ‘We have socials where we’ll lyme – hang out at someone’s house – and some of us host little events at our homes, but they must be in a safe area. Everything must be done in secret – we don’t want unexpected visitors’.

While in Britain we’ve been celebrating the right to join in Civil Partnership, lesbians in Jamaica struggle for the right to exist. ...

To learn more about JFLAG, visit their web site here and then click here to check out their blog.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jamaican Guilty in Gay Murder;

Grim Pics of Tranny Attacked by Mob

This story from the CaribWorldNews site has fallen through the cracks. To correct that problem, I'm posting the story here:

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tues. Mar. 17, 2009: A 25-year-old man was yesterday found guilty of manslaughter in the murder of former Jamaica trade ambassador, Peter King.

Sheldon Pusey was found guilty by a 12-member jury who arrived at a manslaughter verdict. Pusey, of St. Mary, was charged in 2007 with the March 20, 2006 murder of King.

King was found with 32 stab wounds at his home in Waterloo, St. Andrew. During the trial, the court heard tapes of alleged homosexual acts at the victim's home and testimony as to the slain ambassador's sexual lifestyle.

Pusey is set to be sentenced on April 1. He admitted to stabbing King because the former ambassador, he said, tried to drug him and then have sex with him.

This conviction is unusual because many murders and gay people in Jamaica go unsolved and not prosecuted, or, the sentences are light. In this case, there had been speculation the jury would return a murder conviction, but that was not the judicial outcome.

I'll find small solace knowing at least for the murder of the former ambassador, whose social status must have been a contributing factor toward pushing the police to investigate, find and prosecute the culprit, and bring some justice for Peter King.

Let's move on now to the grim photos I discovered recently of a transgender person being assaulted, and surviving, a mob attack. Here's fair warning: The pics are graphic and upsetting.

Back in 2007, Cheril N. Clark over at, a gay wedding service agency with a political bent, wrote about a brutal attack on the trangender person that took place in April, and also shared these photos from the well-documented attack.

She wrote:

I'm quite surprised that he was even brave enough to walk the streets there, but disgusted over the situation. It's not a surprise. It's not a surprise at all, but it doesn't mean I'll ever get used to the thought that people think it's perfectly okay to STONE someone else. Is this 2007 or 2000 years ago? There are several other pictures of this person, but I don't have them anymore. Some of you may have seen how battered he was after the beating. I have to make some time to write something in depth on this and pass it on...more people need to know of Just How Bad it is there for LGBT people. I would not spend one dime in that country---will miss my own family reunion because I refuse to step foot or give even a penny to a country who allows this type of behavior to go unchecked.

The following is a statement by the site's owner, in response to Clark's post and the pictures:

I pledge that will no longer book nor recommend any holidays, honeymoons or villa rentals in or to Jamaica for our clients from henceforth, effective immediately. Nor will we endorse any commercial support of any other kind until GLBTI people in that country are treated with dignity, tolerance and simple human respect.

Thank you for highlighting this horrible incident and for the great translation. The world is watching.

MW Savant, CEO

Sure sounds to me like these folks are already boycotting Jamaican over it's anti-gay abuses, which can only help the launch of a more formal boycott from San Francisco on March 28.

Two days before our transgender brother was attacked in 2007, in another part of the country, according to the Jamaican Star, it was freaking "Gay Eradication Day" and our brothers and sisters were publicly and in no-uncertain terms, threatened, without the damn paper reporting on the police response to such a scheme:

Today has been proclaimed 'Gay Eradication Day' by residents of the McGregor Gully community in East Kingston. Residents say that they will be taking action as a two-week notice given to all gays and lesbians to flee the community has now expired.

THE STAR learnt that about two weeks ago angry residents who declared that they were fed up with seeing the activities of several gay persons in their community, ordered that they leave by today or suffer the consequences.

Some residents who admitted to THE STAR that they are a part of the "gay clearing out" scheme said that it is being done to protect their families and the community on a whole. ...

What.The.Eff? Where was it proposed the cleared out gays should go? Into the ocean?

Here's more info from a news account of the attack in the pictures below:

A cross-dreser [sic] was set upon and severely beaten by a mob in Falmouth's Water Square yesterday morning.

Police who were called to the scene had to fire warning shots to disperse the stone-throwing, stick-wielding mob, which succeeded in tearing off the man's black-and-white form-fitting blouse and jet black wig. ...

The news of the man's presence in the community spread rapidly and in a matter of minutes scores of angry residents converged on the scene and began to rain blows all over the cross-dresser's body with sticks, stones and whatever weapon they could find.

"Where is the police station at?" the frightened man screamed. ...

I fully believe the mere existence not to mention tolerance of "Gay Eradication Day" and the sickening photos are more fodder for why gay Americans must finally organize a proper boycott of Jamaican products and cruises to the the island. Will you endorse and participate in the boycott?

Enough digressing. Here are the photos:

(I find this photo begs the question of the apparent attacker under the sign: Would Jesus Christ chase after this person?)

$357K DC HIV Executive Gets $25,000 Bonus

A little bird in Washington sang an anger-inducing song to me this morning, all about Craig Shniderman, the executive director of the hot meals Food and Friends AIDS service organization, receiving a $25,000 bonus since he faced brutal criticism last year over his $357, 447 salary.

Here's the scoop. The Washington Blade, which has extensively covered Schniderman's pay and the cuts in services at Food and Friends with accuracy and balance, will report on its front-page tomorrow that this avaricious AIDS leader got a nice five-figure bonus recently. The story will also be on the paper's web site.

Given the extreme reactions of donors, clients and accountability activists upon learning of his $357,447 pay last summer, how the heck could the board of Shniderman's agency even think of giving the man a bonus, and in this economy too, not to mention the American public's anger over bonuses to corrupt Big Banking executives? What the eff was going through the minds of Food and Friends' board members when they decided to fork over $25,000 on top of his salary?

I was convinced upon learning of Shniderman's greed last year that the man lacks any shred of decency. Today's news shows me his board is as shameless and out of touch with reality as the top guys at AIG.

How will the local community react tomorrow when the Blade story is published? I've followed the Blade articles on the deep financial troubles besetting the Whitman Walker Clinic, leading to staff cuts, closures of facilities and curbs on services to people with AIDS, which have raised the concern of many gay and AIDS activists. My gut tells me the activists are going to be upset and demanding changes from Food and Friends.

If the board of Food and Friends simply had to write a bonus check of $25,000 to their greedy leader because the money couldn't be spent on something like, oh, organic bananas or protein drinks for persons with HIV, they should hold a town hall to explain why Schniderman deserved the extra bucks.

Frankly, I would rather see that money given to the Whitman Walker Clinic and earmarked for direct services to clients. That $25,000 should be spent on helping people with AIDS stay healthy and alive, not on one AIDS executive with no shame.

(Photo credit: Henry Linser, Washington Blade. Craig Shniderman preparing dessert for clients of Food and Friends.)

CORRECTION: The $25,000 is not a bonus. It is a raise on Shniderman's old salary level.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two Jamaicans Charged in Killing of Gay Man

The Jamaica Star today reports on developments in the case of man who may have been murdered because he was gay:

Two men charged with the murder of a man whose decomposing body was recently found in Havendale, St.Andrew, are accused of killing the man because it was believed that he was gay, the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court heard.

Charged with murder are Dwayne Gordon, 23, and Andy Williams.

The allegations are that Gordon was being interviewed by the police as a possible witness to the crime. His statement however turned into a confession. He reportedly told the police that on February 23, he and Williams stabbed Dane Harris several times.

It is alleged that Harris made sexual advances towards Gordon, who told Williams about it. The two reportedly devised a plan where Gordon would agree to meet with Harris, so they both could ‘beat’ him. ...

The body of the deceased was found on February 26. Gordon told the court that Williams was just a contractor he had met through a relative.

The gay-led Jamaican boycott will launch on Saturday, March28, at 12 noon, at Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets, in San Francisco. Economic pressure must be brought to bear on Jamaica's leaders and businesses.

Boycott. Jamaican. Products.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obama Asked to Sign Stonewall 40 Proclamation

The last Sunday in June this year, June 28, marks the 40th anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City, and I had a wonderful 420-medicated idea to make sure this year's pride events are noted by our president, Barack Obama.

My friend Patricia Nell Warren, the fabulous wordsmith and author of "The Front Runner," agreed to write a proclamation to submit to the president, and I promised to contact the White House and solicit Obama's support for it.

I tried to find an addy for Brian Bond, a liaison in the White House's Office of Public Liaison, but the page for the office doesn't list his or anybody's addy. I've snail-mailed a letter and the draft proclamation to Bond and others in the office, but if you have addies for them, or other gays and gay-friendly folks in the White House, please share them with me.

June 28 is practically right around the corner, so there's little time to campaign and persuade the president to issue a proclamation commemorating the Stonewall Riots almost 40 years ago.

I'd like to think that after Obama wrote a proclamation of sorts when he wrote a letter to the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club of San Francisco for Gay Pride Month in 2008, he'll be inclined to issuing an official declaration for Stonewall 40, and hopefully this draft, by Patricia.



By President Barack Obama

Forty years ago this month, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a courageous group of women and men resisted harassment and mistreatment by law enforcement, setting in motion a chain of events that would become known as the Stonewall Uprising. More important, the event marked the birth of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered civil-rights movement. It pushed into higher gear the previous efforts of many generations of gay people, starting in the 19th century and extending into the post-World War II period, to win what gay people have never had -- a position of equality under American law.

Today lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered/intersex people, as well as their families, friends and allies, celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall every June in America as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. In 1999, during the last Democratic administration, the National Park Service added the Stonewall Inn, as well as the nearby park and neighborhood streets surrounding it, to the National Register of Historic Places.

I recognize that the message of “change,” that American voters so overwhelmingly supported at the polls in November 2008, is very personal and urgent. But while we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.

I am proud of the changes that my Administration has already made to help end discrimination against LGBT people, and to ensure that they have the same rights guaranteed to their fellow Americans. Shortly after taking office, I reversed U.S. policy at the UN regarding including inclusion of sexual orientation in any international statement of human rights for LGBT people, and ordered that the U.S. support this inclusion, rather than opposing it as we had done in the past.

To bring about changes that are still needed, I aim to do the following:

· Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. I aim to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, or on gender identity and expression. I will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within federal government – tests which often resulted in barring LGBT people from serving in government. I aim to strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate-crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice’s Criminal Section.

· Fight Workplace Discrimination: I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy.

· Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: I support full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. I also believe we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

· Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: I voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

· Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: I agree with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. I will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

· Expand Adoption Rights: I believe that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. I think that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

· Promote AIDS Prevention: I will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies, and have appointed an openly gay man, Jeffrey Crowley, to the Office of National AIDS Policy. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. I will support common-sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education. I am willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS, and will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

As I said in my inaugural address, the time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do thereby proclaim June 2009 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity, as well as the era of change and healing upon which our nation has embarked, and to remember throughout the year the LGBT Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

Barack Obama

SF DPH to Jamaican Consul:

Cease Diplomacy on City Property

It's mighty unusual, to say the least, that an individual representing a foreign government, and one that is so homo-hating as the political leaders in Jamaica, has been allowed to conduct consular affairs on San Francisco property. Last week, I filed a Sunshine Act request with Ms. Eileen Shields, public information officer for the Department of Public Health, for all contracts and leases between the DPH and the honorary consul of Jamaica. This was her first reply:

My initial information is that a while back a UCSF oral surgeon from Jamaica inadvisably used his work address at SFGH as the contact point for an "honorary consulate." It does not appear there was any formalized agreement, it was more a Jamaican resident who wanted to be available to other Jamaicans in the Bay Area. Still, the information managed to work its way onto the web.

As soon as this was discovered, he was asked to remove reference to it and discontinue any association with a Jamaican consulate at SFGH, including and especially reference on the internet. Evidently the internet posting still has not been pulled off the site and remains there, as you have discovered. This was what I was told but am still awaiting a review from UCSF.

I believe there will be no documents on this subject and can assure you that DPH has no agreement with Jamaica or any other consulate or embassy to maintain facilities on DPH property.

How you manage to find these things is the real mystery.

Yesterday, I sent off this note to the head of DPH, openly gay doctor Mitch Katz, pushing him to take some action and promising to show up at today's Health Commission meeting to use public comment time to press my case:

Dear Dr. Katz,

I have been made aware that Newton Gordon, DDS, and a UCSF professor with an office on the SF General Hospital campus, is listed by the Jamaican foreign ministry as an honorary consult conducting diplomatic business from a DPH facility.

He is also registered with the US State Department as a representative of Jamaica, with his campus address as his place of business.I have blogged about these matters on my site.

As a gay citizen of San Francisco I am formally asking you to cancel any agreements or leases DPH has with Gordon pertaining to his diplomatic duties.

Furthermore, I want DPH to instruct Gordon to write to the Jamaican foreign ministry and request that they not list his address as SF General Hospital, and that he and the ministry both send out letters to the press explaining that he does not conduct any Jamaican government business on DPH property.

Gordon should be directed to widely spread on the web, another location where he can conduct his consul business.

Allow me to remind you that Jamaica has a bloody and long record of murder and denial of basic human dignity and rights toward gay people.

The prime minister, Bruce Golding, is leading the fight to retain laws that criminalize consensual sodomy between adults, and hold hostile views against gay citizens.

Click here to read the latest grim human rights report from the US State Department on Jamaica's gay and AIDS record for 2008.

Please make it clearly understood to Dr. Gordon that he is take concrete and measurable steps to no longer feed the public perception that he is allowed to conduct consulate business for the homo-hating and AIDS-phobic nation of Jamaica.

I will be at tomorrow's Health Commission meeting and request that a written reply be presented to me at the meeting.

I received the following response, and while the DPH is not doing everything I requested, I'm deeply pleased they've made it quite explicit to the honorary consul that he is to address some of my concerns, which are in alignment with the DPH's views. Not only that, I must applaud the DPH for sending copies of the cease and desist letter to the appropriate people at UCSF, which actually employs the consul, and at the city attorney office, which would pursue legal remedies if the consul does not comply with the requested actions.

To: Newton Gordon, DDS
Chief of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

From: Yvonne Lowe
SFGH Compliance Officer

Date: March 16, 2009

Re: Honorary Consul Activities

The Public Records Act request regarding the operation of a Jamaican Consulate’s Office and your response that you actually serve as an Honorary Consul of Jamaica have been referred to me. This memorandum is to advise you that you are to immediately cease any and all activities related to your role as Honorary Counsel for Jamaica on the premises of San Francisco General Hospital. This includes use of your SFGH/UCSF telephone, computer and office and removal of any signage.

To be specific, none of the following activities are to take place on the SFGH campus:

1. Promotion of the national interest and culture of Jamaica,
2. Protection of the interest of Jamaican nationals,
3. Processing visa applications,
4. Witnessing signatures on passport applications and other documents, and
5. Assisting visiting dignitaries and in-transit officials.

We do not allow our staff to use our public premises and equipment for personal business or purposes. Although your activities as an Honorary Consul may be minimal, it is still inappropriate and in violation of hospital and university policy to exercise them on publicly funded premises. It is to stop immediately.

Sue Currin, Chief Executive Officer
Sue Carlisle, MD, UCSF Associate Dean at SFGH
Kathy Murphy, Deputy City Attorney

Have I mentioned that a boycott of Jamaican rums, beers and cruises is in development?

Monday, March 16, 2009

State Dept: Targeted Shootings of
Gays in Jamaica;
Boycott Developing

The State Department recently released its annual human rights survey and the entire chapter on Jamaica was a horrific read. As in years past, the chapter's section on gays and people with AIDS/HIV was particularly frightening.

There are "targeted shootings of homosexuals" among other ills facing our brothers and sisters in Jamaica, giving more impetus to the development of a boycott of Jamaican rums and beers, along with cruise lines visiting the island nation.

I'll soon share more information about the boycott and the demands that will be made on the government in Kingston. In the meanwhile, give this extract from the State Department 2008 human rights report some attention:

The law prohibits "acts of gross indecency" (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy) between men, in public or in private, which are punishable by 10 years in prison.

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals. Police often did not investigate such incidents.

J-FLAG members also suffered attacks on their property, home intrusions as people demanded to know the number of persons and beds in a home, and in one instance, a fire bombing at the home of two men that left one of them with burns on more than 60 percent of his body. In addition homosexuals faced death and arson threats, with some of these directed at the J-FLAG offices. J-FLAG did not publicize its location due to such threats, and its officials reported feeling unsafe having meetings with clients at the organization's office.

In February a mob broke into the home of four presumed homosexual men, killing three of them. The fourth was missing and presumed dead. The men had reported being harassed for their perceived sexual orientation prior to the fatal attack. Police made some inquiries in the case but did not conduct a full investigation or make any arrests by year's end.

The trial of six suspects arrested for the 2005 robbery and murder of Lenford "Steve" Harvey, initially begun and then postponed in 2007, was scheduled to recommence in January 2009.

Male inmates deemed by prison wardens to be homosexual were held in a separate facility for their protection. The method used for determining their sexual orientation was subjective and not regulated by the prison system, although inmates were said to confirm their homosexuality for their own safety. There were numerous reports of violence against homosexual inmates, perpetrated by the wardens and by other inmates, but few inmates sought recourse through the prison system.

Homosexual men were hesitant to report incidents against them because of fear for their physical well-being. Lesbian women were subject to sexual assault as well as other physical attacks. Human rights NGOs and government entities agreed that brutality against homosexuals, primarily by private citizens, was widespread in the community.

No laws protect persons living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. Human rights NGOs reported severe stigma and discrimination against this group. The ILO worked with the Ministry of Labor on a program to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS in the workplace and to assist employers in designing policies for workers with HIV/AIDS. Although health care facilities were prepared to handle patients with HIV/AIDS, health care workers often neglected such patients.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What I Saw on Castro Street This Weekend

The weather was overcast in San Francisco on the weekend, but there were bright people and things everywhere, bringing their own brand of sunshine and I've got the pics to prove it.

Three rays of sunlight, after enjoying a hearty brunch of food and lots of good gab about modernization of the Denver Principles for persons with AIDS, a project of POZ magazine and the National Associaiton of People With AIDS. From the left, Sean Strub of POZ, Randy Allgaier of the HIV Prevention Planning Council, and me. They went on to the life-celebration service for Marty Delaney of Project Inform.

The folks at the Human Rights Campaign clearly have a long-term contract on the outward-facing bus shelter on Castro near 18th Street. The ad caught my eye because it features a black lesbian, unlike the NGLTF ads for their Winter Party in Miami recently.

Dr. Marcus Conant, one of the first doctors in the world to treat people with AIDS, walking up to the service for Delaney. Conant asked me to be at his Tuesday night forum at the gay community center on HIV and hepatitis.

I didn't know friends and lovers of Leonard Matlovich had purchased a plaque for him. It's on the large green apartment building on 18th Street, walking toward the Bear-bucks coffeehouse. Nice to see other activists besides Harvey Milk getting some recognition for their contributions to the neighborhood, and the movement.

Chris Bowman, head of the local Republican Party office, on his way to get a burger.

Paul Boneberg, executive director of the Gay Historical Society, who was all giggles when first seeing me, then got serious once I started snapping pics. Also on his way to Delaney's service at the Eureka Valley Rec Center.

HRC equality symbol = Mercedes Benz icon. I loathe how HRC's insipid image has colonized so much of gay life, but I must admit it looks great on a red luxury imported automobile.

"I was supposed to die, but I didn't. Gave up activism and went back to school," said my pal Matt Chappell, of the defunct ACT UP/Golden Gate chapter. He was on his way to the Delaney celebration. I wasn't. I went off to catch the new Russian film "12" because I needed a dose of art-house cinema.

Jamaican Consul in S.F. Won't Meet With Gays;
Concern Raised Over Buggery Penalties

According to an article in Jamaica's leading newspaper, The Gleaner, in early March the prime minister, Bruce Golding, renewed his campaign against gay people when he opposed a legislative effort to decriminalize the sodomy statutes:

[Golding] described gay advocates as "perhaps the most organised lobby in the world", but has vowed not to yield to pressure to wipe buggery from the books as a crime.

"We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery," Golding said in Parliament yesterday. ...

But Golding made it clear that his government was not prepared to accept suggestions or demands for the crime of buggery to disappear from the books. ...

After years of reading accounts of horrific violence perpetrated against gay Jamaicans, and rampant police and government indifference to the well-document human rights abuses and daily fears faced by gays, I left a message with Newton Gordon, DDS, the honorary consul in San Francisco for Jamaica, requesting a meeting to discuss the prime minister's remarks. Gordon and I spoke on Friday.

He explained that he's not a citizen of Jamaica, is not an official agent of the government, has absolutely no contact with the foreign ministry and that he was the wrong person to speak to regarding my concerns.

When I pointed out his listing as an honorary consul on the government's web site, listing his dental office at SF General Hospital as his official consular address, he said he had no control of such listings.

Well, what exactly does he do as the honorary consul? "Answer questions about visas," Gordon said. "I don't have a flag or a plaque or a coat of arms here at my office."

I mentioned how odd it was that the Department of Public Health allowed him to conduct consular business on the hospital's campus, and he replied that he's actually a professor with the University of California. Okay, I said, you're a UCSF employee with a diplomatic function that you carry out on the municipal hospital's campus.

Gordon suggested I pursue a meeting with either the embassy in Washington or the consulate in Miami, to which I replied I was hardly in the position to fly to either city for a meeting, and again requested a meeting with him.

After all, a letter from even an honorary consul about the concerns of San Francisco gays would carry more weight than a letter written by activists, and would be one of the points of our chat. Again, Gordon said no.

Before ending the phone conversation, I informed Gordon that moves were afoot for a boycott of Jamaican rums and the Red Stripe beer in the gay bars, restaurants and cafes of San Francisco because of the Jamaican government's deadly homo-hatred.

I didn't mention that I have also requested the health department brake any lease or agreement it may have with him to provide any consular services. If there is no such document, then I want the DPH to instruct Gordon and the foreign ministry to remove his name and contact information on all their web sites and issue a notice of such changes to the press in Jamaica and the USA.

And regarding the contention by Gordon that he's just a very minor cog in the Jamaican foreign ministry's machine, he sure didn't sound that way in this letter, in which he touts his link to the government, an ID card from the US State Department and a listing in the phone book as a rep for another nation. If that ain't someone to talk to in San Francisco about the abuse of gay people in Jamaica, then who is?

Here's the letter to the Jamaica Association of Northern California from Gordon, who is the president of the board of the group:

Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000

Please be informed that I was appointed Honorary Consul for San Francisco by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, Seymour Mullings. This appointment was certified by the U. S. State Department on January 31, 00, [sic] with issuance of a Consular Identification Card. The State Department recognizes one of my offices Locations [sic] as the address of the consulate:

Dept. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
San Francisco General Hospital
1001 Potrero Ave., NH-1N1
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tele: 415/206-5833
Fax: 415/206-5834

The home number will be listed under Consulate and Other Foreign Government Representatives in the yellow pages of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Jose and Santa Clara.

I am confident there will be a mutual working relationship between the Consulate and JANC.

Dr. Newton Gordon

[Photo credit of Newton Gordon: UCSF.]