Friday, May 29, 2009

National AIDS Strategy and

The Denver Principles

AIDS Inc put on a damn excellent show last night at the Friends Meeting House on 9th Street in San Francisco. It was a meeting for absolutely any person wishing to attend, including even me. ;-)

My expectations were low. Probably every staffer from the DPH and service orgs, all desperate to keep the funds flowing to their institution, would be there, and few people with AIDS consumers. Oops, I was wrong. The place was over-flowing with people of all sorts.

Sure, the usual AIDS Inc suspects, service org staffers who rarely attend Ryan White or HIV Prevention council meetings, were all there, but so were many PWAs, and we're talking PWAs of means, and lots of us on the lower economic scales.

Why was everyone there? For a round-table public discussion about the National AIDS Strategy, which basically calls for practical funding of AIDS programs and leadership from the White House and Health and Human Services.

So great to see active engagement of the local gay and AIDS communities, where every voice was being heard, with an incredibly politically and racially diverse range of people sitting around tables, mapping out strategies.

My time there was mostly spent bending the ear of Judy Auerbach, director of science and public policy at the SF AIDS Foundation, about my prevention agenda. Spoke with her and two PWAs about the modernization of the Denver Principles, which were developed in 1983 and demand full engagement of PWAs at every level of decision-making.

Similar meetings are taking place around the country, according to Auerbach, who explained how the findings of the community meetings will be funneled to the new AIDS chief at the White House, Dr. Jeff Crowley.

Many in that room are on board for making the Denver Principles the guiding light of local and federal AIDS matters, as we present a comprehensive HIV agenda to the president and Congress.

Here are some pics from the open forum last night:

At this table, the discussion was on prevention funding and effectiveness.

Attendees finishing up their discussion group notes, for presentation back to the entire group.

My friend Carlos smiling for me.

One of the posters defining the agenda for overall discussion.

State Dept Mourns HIV Denier's Death;

U.S. Silent on Gay Iraqi Torture

(Tate Swindell and I at the CA Supreme Court building, moments before the Prop 8 ruling was made public earlier this week.)

This is a twisted tale, and I hope you'll bear with me through the many turns that eventually lead to Baghdad and the torture of gays.

Let's begin with Thursday's State Department press briefing. On behalf of the United State government and people, spokesman Ian Kelly used 260 words to mourn the passing of longtime correspondent Lambros the Greek, who was also an HIV denier:
This is a sad day for all of us here. We learned this morning that our long-time friend and colleague Lambros Papantoniou passed away. Lambros was a veteran member of our press corps family here and he was proud to say that he covered the State Department from Nixon to Obama. He loved his work here and we loved him.

He had very strong ties to my country, to the United States, beginning with his birthday. He was born on the Fourth of July. He arrived in the U.S. in 1973, earned advanced degrees in international law and political science from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1975, he began his career as a journalist, ultimately specializing in U.S. foreign policy relating to Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and the Balkans.

Over the years, he wrote thousands of articles and became a leading voice on issues related to Southeast Europe.

We here at State will miss our lively interaction with our friend Lambros during the daily briefings where he offered us ample opportunity to engage on many important issues. We extend our sincere condolences to his family in Greece and here in the United States and to his many close friends among you all in the press corps. I understand a memorial service is being arranged on Monday and we will, of course, share with you any information we receive about this service.

Finally, I would just ask you all today to spare a thought or a short prayer for our friend Lambros, a man who touched all of our lives.
No mention of his beliefs that HIV doesn't exist, AIDS is a boon to Big Pharma profits and the drugs persons with AIDS take are poison. We also were not informed by the State Department, or an obituary from the Greek press, of what killed Lambros.

After reading Lambros' comments from the December 1, 2008, State press briefing regarding World AIDS Day, and his questions about proof of HIV isolates, I contacted him. Even though I believe HIV exists and is the cause of AIDS, and take my daily drug cocktail, I spoke to Lambros about foreign gay people and their human rights violations.

From the start of our acquaintance, as two highly-opinionated and passionate advocates of Greek heritage, we had lively, sometimes forceful phone and email discussions on a lot of topics.

I made my goals plain to him in December: In the future, ask on the record questions of State regarding gays in other countries, struggling to come out of the closet and gain dignity and respect. He agreed and requested that I send him updates on foreign gay issues, until the time I really needed him to pose questions to the officials.

That time came in April, when mainstream news outlets and NGOs reported on the growing and horrific torture and murder of gay Iraqis. My emails to Lambros, begging him to raise questions about the torture being forced upon Iraqi gays at a briefing, bounced back because his AOL inbox was full.

On April 17, I learned why from a State briefing:
I’d also like to make one other brief announcement. We – I think you all know our colleague, Lambros, who I understand has been hospitalized. And we wish him a very speedy recovery and our thoughts are with him and his family.
What does the death of Lambros and the State Department's comments on his hospitalization and demise have to do with gay Iraqis? The answer starts with a story yesterday from ABC News, which reported on the continuing torture of Iraqi gays:

The army source said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City March 25, each bearing signs reading "pervert" in Arabic on their chests. All the bodies found bore signs of torture, and were found fixed to poles when they were killed. The Iraqi army source also said two of the men found dead were wearing diapers and women's lingerie.

Two gay men were found elsewhere in Sadr City, alive but bearing the scars of severe torture. They were beaten, their chests showed signs of cigarette burns, and when police found them they were rushed to the hospital. They had been sodomized with iron bars, sources said. Other men said they had had their chests slashed and their nipples cut off.

Here's what the State Department had to say yesterday about this story:
"_______________________________," was the on-the-record non-response.
Not a single word uttered at Thursday's briefing on the dead and butchered homosexuals in Baghdad, but 260 words spoken by a State Department official regarding the death of a reporter and HIV denier.

If we lived in a world that valued gay men, State reporters would cite the ABC News story and pose questions to the department about the torture, but that didn't happen yesterday. Actually, since the gay torture reports surfaced in April, the matter has not been raised once at a State presser. Great reminder of how dead faggots are of little concern to many.

Perhaps I should not be so hard on the State Department spokespersons and the press corps that covers the department, given that the "good German" professional LGBT leaders running Gay Inc organizations, especially HRC, NGLTF, and GLAAD, act as though their mouths have been glued shut on this matter. We have not seen a push by Gay Inc to pressure the U.S. government to either condemn the torture or assist the Iraqi gays.

The continuing anti-gay violence in Baghdad, coming on years of targeting gays for death, unquestionably reeks of annihilation of homosexual Iraqis, leading me to charge that a gay genocide is being organized and perpetrated.

I believe Article 2 of the international Genocide Convention, which President Reagan made the U.S. a party in November 1988, is the foundation for making the charge of gay genocide in Iraq:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; ...
How much torture and death must gay Iraqis suffer before our State Department deplores the abuse, and Gay Inc understands that we are talking about genocide of our brothers in Baghdad?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Islam Online: Iraqi Gays Thriving

Baghdad Blogger Says

Afif Sarhan, Iraqi Writer
[I apparently made a mistake here. Afif says in the comments that he is Brazilian, not Iraqi. I stand corrected.]
I couldn't have thought of more radical look at what life is supposedly like for Iraqi gays than this report, written by a young male journalist from the war-torn capital, who says the situation isn't as dire as we've been told.

The piece presents a totally different view of gay life in Iraq than has been reported by ABC News, the NY Times, CNN, a few NGOs, and many gay refugees who've managed to get out of Iraq.

I don't put much stock in the writer's overall take, so at odds with the media and NGOs, but select elements he writes about - the gathering spots for gays, quotes from a hustler and a cinema owner - ring true, as best I can tell from San Francisco.

The writer, Afif Sarhan, blogs from Baghdad, about the the continuing U.S. occupation and the war's impact on his country. He also had a piece about the selling of Iraqi babies in the Guardian back in April.

Excerpts from Sarhan's story for
Gay life is thriving in post-invasion Iraq with many places becoming openly homosexual-friendly amid efforts by social groups and religious leaders to reverse the trend.

"The gay community in Iraq is increasing despite the fear from extremists," Salahdinne Abdullah al-Rabia’a, a social worker in the capital Baghdad, told

Contrary to reports that homosexuals are going underground, gays are reportedly gaining choices and places in the war-torn country.

In the first years after the US-led invasion, militant attacks had led gays to go into hiding.

But now, nearly seven years, gay life is taking some roots with central Baghdad emerging as their popular meeting point.

With very few money, as cheep as US $3, gay couples are able to spend hours in hotels with no worries of attacks or security arrests.

Cinemas, taverns and specific corners are the new havens for homosexuals, particularly males.

"I have to allow such sexual behaviors in my place because if I don’t, I will be forced to close my business due to the lack of clients," argues Abu Ruwaida, a cinema owner in downtown Baghdad. ...

Kammar, not his real name, spends hours standing at the corners of central Baghdad streets looking for clients who usually drive slowly around the roads looking for gay prostitutes.

"I’m gay but what drove me into prostitution was the unemployment in Iraq," said the 26-year-old, adding that he is paid between 5-15 dollars.

"Most of my clients are old men who are married and with kids. They don’t speak much but the ring shines," he said.

"The obligation to get married turns many gay men into betrayers, taking the risk to catch a disease outside and transmit it to their wives."

Like others in his profession, Kammar is unfazed by neither police crackdowns nor by militant attacks.

Since January, 25 boys and men were killed in Baghdad because they were, or were perceived to be, gay, according to Baghdad’s police.

"It is a risk, but like me, many others are taking."

The rise of gays activity in Iraq is alarming religious leaders.

"It is clear in the holy book that homosexual behaviors are unacceptable," Sheikh Abdel-Rahman Abdun, the imam of Rahim mosque in Baghdad, told IOL.

Many scholars have raised their concerns and have been alerting followers at Friday prayers to look after their sons and protect them from such behaviors. ...

Dallas Principles Leader in SF for Gala;

No Grassroots Forum Planned

A key architect of the Dallas Principles, an effort to motivate and engage a large cross-section of the LGBT community, Lane Hudson, who once worked for HRC and lives in Washington, is coming to San Francisco this weekend. He's in town for a gala fundraiser for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Here's Hudson's response to my post yesterday about David Mixner's concern that AIDS was omitted from the Dallas Principles:
I just wanted to make sure you saw our Goal #7, as it was written with HIV/AIDS, Trans health care, hospital visitation, medical decisions, child health care, etc. in mind. It was meant as a holistic approach, as was the overall document. If you notice, it doesn't mention any specific legislative initiatives, as they all should fall under the overall goals.

7.HEALTH CARE. Every person should have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally competent health care without discrimination.

I'll be in San Francisco on Saturday night for the NCLR Dinner. If you would like to join me at the Bolthouse Farms table, I'd love to have you. We would have time to talk about The Dallas Principles in more detail. Let me know.
I thanked him for the invitation, but explained that I would not be able to accept his offer. I asked Hudson if he would be holding a public forum, maybe at the local gay community center, while he was here. His reply:
Unfortunately not, Michael. I arrive just before the dinner and leave early the next morning. If you find you are able to make it to the dinner, don't hesitate to let me know.
There's a pattern here for Hudson. As with the meeting in Dallas, he parachutes in, doesn't hold any open meetings, strategizes and networks at an event that is either closed-door or costs a pretty penny to attend, then jets out.

I naively thought Hudson, and the two SF reps who were at the Dallas meeting two weeks ago, might put on a town hall this weekend, especially right after the CA Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, and so many in the local grassroots trenches are fired up.

Why not talk with the A-gays at the gala _and_ also discuss the goals of the principles with regular gays who can't afford to attend the swanky dinner?

Now seems like an excellent time for the Dallas Principles' organizers to tap into the anger and commitment of Bay Area gays, through public engagement and forums, but it's not about to happen.

Regarding the NCLR gala dinner this weekend, here's part of their pitch for it:
If there was ever a time when we all needed a party, it’s now. We’ve been through a lot this year and for the past 32 years and we need to come together.
How about partying _and_ organizing through public forums that bring us together at this crucial time, and don't cost a couple of hundred bucks?

Speaking of NCLR's dinner, which is at the St. Francis Hotel, it's not the only costly event they're hosting this Saturday night. There's also their party at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. While they're promoting public transportation between the functions, the group has also lined up an official limo service for it all:
Virgin Limousines is NCLR's transportation partner to and from the Anniversary Celebration from anywhere in the Bay Area. Book your limo online or call 800.421.LIMO (800.421.5466) and mention “NCLR” to get 10% off.
If there's a grassroots element to either the Dallas Principles' leaders organizing, or the NCLR shindigs this weekend, I've missed it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Castro's Giant Rainbow Flag is Lowered;
Milk Plaza Beacon Gets a Black Stripe

Early yesterday evening, the San Francisco LGBT and allies community held a well-attended rally on the steps of City Hall. Afterward, the crowd marched past the state Supreme Court building on McAllister Street, then proceeded down to Yerba Buena Gardens at Mission and 4th Streets.

Instead of joining that march, my friend Nadia and I rode our bikes up to Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro, because we wanted to be in our spiritual and political home. We also knew that after a few speeches at Yerba Buena Gardens, the crowd would head up Market Street to the Castro.

As we waited for the march to arrive, I snapped a few shots of the enormous rainbow flag in the center of the plaza. It had been lowered, I assume, because of the court's ruling upholding the will of the voters regarding Prop 8 and gay marriages.

The flag was not quite at half-staff, and a black stripe, to symbolize mourning perhaps, flew on top of the rainbow flag.

The marchers got to the Castro a bit after 8 PM, and it felt good to participate in the spontaneous shut-down of the intersection at the plaza, listening to people on bullhorns articulate their anger and calls for justice, while the flag waved above us.

Two shots from last night:

Photo taken with the Pink Triangle Park behind me, looking toward Milk Plaza and the top of the Castro Theatre marquee.

From the subway entrance, looking up

SF Chron:
Prop 8 Protest Was 'Well-Scripted'

Maybe the co-opted protest organizers should be awarded an honor, perhaps something from GLAAD, for their highly-orchestrated action yesterday. It sure as hell lacked originality, urgency and spontaneity.

Nice of longtime political writers Phil Matier and Andy Ross to run this item in their column this morning in the SF Chronicle:
Newsom wasn't the only star playing for the cameras Tuesday: The anti-Prop. 8 protest that started outside the state Supreme Court building on McAllister Street was pretty well-scripted, too.

Protest organizers met with San Francisco police in the days leading up to the court's decision and negotiated just how the arrests would go down.

The organizers even sent out a press release Friday announcing the plan.

The cops were to start the arrests with protesting clergy members, many of whom had to get back to their churches for afternoon services. The arrests also began at noon- just in time for the live TV shots for the noon news.

Organizers even had preprinted forms for protesters to fill out so they could get out of jail when the time came.
The spirit of the Stonewall Rebellion is not alive and well on the streets of San Francisco.
Mixner: AIDS Missing from Dallas Principles;
Arnold: Cut $55M From AIDS Drugs Program

David Mixner, a gay political consultant and blogger, has noticed the Dallas Princples are missing a very important element - AIDS, and I thank him for holding the invitation-only attendees at the Texas meeting almost two week ago accountable for omitting AIDS. From his blog:
The LGBT community has been abuzz about the group of twenty-four self described 'thinkers, activists and donors' who recently gathered in Dallas, Texas. Out of this meeting came The Dallas Principles which are demands for full equality now for the LGBT community. They are well thought out and well written but wish our community would also remember the huge numbers in our community with HIV/AIDS.
And speaking of HIV, in California, people with AIDS, a community which includes an overwhelming number of gay and bisexual men, myself included, are extremely worried about our state's budget crisis and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed reduction of a life-saving program.

Excerpted out of today's SF Chronicle:
Some proposed cuts, such as a $55.5 million reduction in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and other state Office of AIDS programs, would be life-threatening ...
I'm not counting on the leaders behind the Dallas Principles to get too concerned about the looming battle with Sacramento over the HIV drug program. After all, they couldn't be bothered to even mention AIDS once in their preamble, call to action or goals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Corrupt Dyke Cop Controls SF

Prop 8 Street Demonstration

(Lt. Lea Militello co-opting Kip Williams and his group, One Struggle One Fight.)

From about 10:20 AM on, hundreds of protesters, upset over the CA Supreme Court doing the correct legal move today and upholding the will of the voters that passed Prop 8, sat and stood at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street. The dome of City Hall looming in the background.

As the highly controlled oh-so-civil and obedient disobedience sit-in wore on, and on, it was very obvious the organizers of the action were tightly under the thumbs of the SF police force. According to a Twitter post:
"Every officer here is LGBT, says Lt. Lea Militello. Also folks in crowd are buying and bringing us water. This is community."
No, to me, it is most certainly not community when a corrupt SF police officer, who just happens to be a dyke, has co-opted the anger and a lot of the political will of LGBT persons hitting the streets for liberation.

Lt. Militello ran the entire show at Van Ness and Grove, probably letting the protesters sit for almost ninety-minutes on the hot pavement, to drive down the numbers of people risking arrest, and standing on the sidelines.

At 11:30 AM, an old buddy from ACT UP/NYC days, Steven Crouch, along with some Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and others, all of us not-sitting-in in the street, starting chanting: "Let's go to Market Street!"

We were scratching heads wondering why the hell the folks risking arrest, were complacent and just, um, sitting there. The non-action before us, was bad political masturbation. If they were so committed to getting arrested, why didn't they get off their scorched butts and march elsewhere, and engage in civic disobedience?

Worse, it was with the consent of the cops. Ugh. I prefer my queer liberation un-coopted and un-controlled by the police, and especially by a corrupt dyke officer.

Sure, make plans, at arms-length, with the law enforcement officials, but don't let them control any queer street activism, and there is no doubt today's SF action was in the vise-grip of the cops.
NGLTF: CA Supreme Court Ruling
on Prop 8 and Gay Marriage?

The incredibly useless National Gay and Lesbian Task Force continues its great slide into irrelevance.

Their web site has absolutely nothing posted about today's CA Supreme Court and the decision on Prop 8. Not a single word about the importance of today with this court.

Oh, and the last update for the NGLTF blog was on April 10. Someone should tell Rea Carey and the other highly paid professional gays at this group to get more active with engaging the community through blogging.

Be sure to check out the NGLTF weekly newsletters about all their (non) important work. That section of the task force's site was last update on March 11.

NGLTF is a farce and should stop wasting the community's money on their irrelevance.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Video Reply to Dallas Principles'

Invitation-Only Meeting

Thanks to the NG Blog, I learned today that someone critical of the folks who put on the top-secret, closed-door meeting in Dallas over the May 15-17 weekend, and the Dallas Principles, has created a video response. I don't know who created the video, but if you're the person who made it, please contact me. We have much to talk about. Check this out:

NYT, Media Hunt for Castro Street Stories

on Eve of Gay Marriage Ruling

The streets of San Francisco are very low-key today, because of the Memorial Day holiday, and I rode my bike up to Castro Street, just to get a sense of the neighborhood, the day before the state Supreme Court rules on the validity of the passage of Prop 8. Have a look at my pics from this afternoon:

A sign was posted on the Diesel store facade at Harvey Milk Plaza, giving info about actions happening tomorrow. Notice that at 7 PM, the City Hall rally will turn into a march, headed toward Yerba Buena Gardens, located at Mission and 4th Streets. You may be wondering, as were a number of acquaintances I spoke with today, why will the march, likely to attract thousands, will not be going to the heart of the gayest neighborhood in the country.

March organizers decided to instead go to Yerba Buena Gardens because there is a Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial, with a cascading waterfall that obscures photos from King's life, along with his most famous quotes for social justice. I believe their thinking was to show a link between gay marriage struggles of today, and King and the black community's fight for civil equality.

Noble intentions certainly, but my heart cries out for some action also to take place in the Castro. But who the hell am I to question my leaders and their gay marriage decisions? After all, mine a voice ignored before November 4 demanding LGBT be shown in No on 8 ad, so don't count on anyone listening to me, desperately desiring a vigil/protest/party/kiss-in/community speak out/whatever in my little gay part of the world, the Castro.

As I snapped some pics, this handsome man was photographing me, snapping away at the sign. He's Jim Wilson of the New York Times and his assignment was to get photos of San Francisco gays preparing for the court's decision. I wished him luck finding a true action shot for his paper's photo needs.

John Lewis, the white man holding a book, who is partnered to Stuart Gaffney, two gays who've sued for equal marriage rights, in the shade under the Castro Theatre's marquee. John had just been interviewed by a reporter from our local NBC affiliate. The station was also looking for gays in the Castro getting ready for the big day tomorrow.

KRON sent this two-fer, a reporter, who was also a camerawoman, to the Castro to get "LGBTs on the street" comments. After she interviewed me, she asked when the community would rally in the Castro tomorrow. Yes, she was surprised to learn there are no plans for an action in the Castro.

Some police barricades lining the sidewalk on 18th Street, alongside the LGBT Historical Society's storefront window for the the exhibit "Passionate Struggle." Maybe the police, despite the announced plans to stage all street actions tomorrow outside the Castro, are still expecting a crowd to descend upon the neighborhood. I sure hope we see a small gathering take place on Castro Street tomorrow.

No matter how the court rules on Tuesday morning, I'll be at Harvey Milk Plaza tomorrow night.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dallas Project Leader:
No LGBT Credentials?

In looking over the names of the lucky 24 LGBT leaders who attended the invitation-only and closeted organizing and strategizing meeting in Dallas from May 15-17, the name of Allison Duncan, of San Francisco, stood out. Who?

I've never heard the name before and Googling "Allison Duncan, lesbian, LGBT, gay" turned up an Alison (one-"l") Duncan, who's a lesbian and a Green Party politician. No hits for the SF one, and every local gay person I asked if they knew her or her name, said no.

If she was one of the very lucky few, out of millions of LGBT Americans, to attend the Dallas meeting and create principles and a call to action to inspire gays like me to get behind their effort, then surely there would be a trail of details about her involvement with the community. I'm trying to find that trail.

Here's the info from her bio page at Amplifier Strategies, the political and social change consulting firm she founded and is the head of:
Allison Duncan is the founding principal of Amplifier Strategies, Inc. She is recognized for her ability to aid organization leaders in developing the operational frameworks and internal capacity to successfully carry out their strategic purpose. She is widely known for her unique expertise in financial and operational risk management, program portfolio management, and defining creative strategies for increasing program success.
Cool, but I don't see anything about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender persons mentioned here.

Before launching Amplifier Strategies, Allison held various executive positions at the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. She led mission-critical initiatives including designing and implementing the foundation’s strategic program finance practices, directing one the foundation’s environmental programs and serving on the executive committee to guide the foundation’s day-to-day operations. Allison also has extensive experience managing large-scale global environmental initiatives. She was the Foundation’s program director for the Conservation International & Global Conservation Fund, operating in Brazil, Guiana, Madagascar, Andean countries and countries of Melanesia. Allison worked with colleagues to finance comprehensive, science-based environmental outcomes and broker multi-lateral partnerships with key stakeholders including international economical development banks and numerous South American NGOs and state agencies.

Certainly sounds impressive, but, um, has she done a thing about LGBT persons, anywhere in the countries listed?

Prior to joining the Moore Foundation, Allison was a client service manager at Deloitte & Touche, LLP. At Deloitte, Allison was chosen for high-profile assignments in Russia, New York and Silicon Valley. Her positions ranged from managing complex business transactions to researching emerging accounting issues for mergers and acquisitions, stock compensation, derivatives and hedging activities, and internal controls. She worked closely with lead research partners to implement strategic solutions for clients.

Okay, I give up trying to find out anything about this Dallas project meeting attendee and her possible LGBT political experience from her firm's site.

Allison contributes frequently to national trade journals and has developed several technical training modules. She routinely leads implementation and facilitated technical training for professionals of all levels nationwide and internationally.

That's nice, but I'd like to know if Allison has a gay resume of any significance. Other than being a lesbian, potentially with bucks, what are her LGBT credentials? What were her qualifications for helping draft the Dallas Principles?

Allison and her cohorts want me to find inspiration from their secretive gathering, and I'm just not feeling inspired to support the group.

When I spoke with another Dallas meeting attendee, Jon Winkleman, a man I know from back in the day of the height of ACT UP/NYC, I told him how I and a few of my SF friends simply couldn't believe the hard, losing and disastrous organizing lessons behind the debacle of the No on 8 executive committee were not being heeded.

As one queer Californian, who for seven long months watched in frustration as the right to gay marriage slipped way, mainly because of the invitation-only, closeted nature of No on 8 campaign leaders refused to be transparent and inclusive to the larger community, I simply can't abide or support any new efforts that gets off on the wrong foot.

With the Dallas meeting and those behind it, I am in agreement with their frustration at the lack of urgency and engagement from HRC, NGLTF, GLAAD, SLDN, Stonewall Democrats, and the rest of Gay Inc.

But starting off on the right foot, to me, to correct the injustices being perpetrated against us by our professional organizations and the well-compensated executives running them, means beginning any new serious effort to change the situation for us with full transparency and a welcome mat at an open door meeting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dallas Principles: AIDS is Over?
Confusion With Denver Principles

This note was sent to Pam Spaulding, the creator of PamsHouseBlend blog, who, up until now, I would never have associated her with an invitation-only, closed-door strategy session organized by disgruntled former employees of HRC and the DNC, and A-gays who have lots of bucks.

To bring folks up to speed, last weekend in an air-conditioned hotel conference room, 24 LGBT consultants and bloggers, with nary a street organizing activist among them, met in Texas to create the Dallas Principles. These principles are designed to motivate the White House , Congress and political institutions, oh, and the LGBT community, into action for equality.

If you have an addy for the other Dallas meeting attendees, please share this with them:
Hi Pam,

I'm addressing this note to you, since you're the one organizer of the Dallas Principles and last weekend's meeting who I'm familiar with and have an addy for.

As you must know, HIV/AIDS cases, new infections and deaths in America are primarily among gay men, and this health crisis for a significant portion of of the LGBT population, is far from over.

The CDC reported in December the good news that HIV transmission rates in the United States have dramatically declined, and these excerpts from the agency's study need to be repeated today:
Declines in HIV transmission rates reflect the success of prevention efforts across the US, on a national, community, and an individual level ...

These findings add to several recent signs of success in HIV prevention ...

Despite these successes, we must remember that the fight against HIV is far from over ...

HIV continues to take a severe toll on multiple communities in the US, with gay and bisexual men of all races, African Americans, and Latinos bearing the heaviest burden. Waging a continued battle against HIV will take a continued commitment across the country to address HIV among these populations ...
I'm quite disappointed you and the other leaders at the Dallas meeting didn't see fit to mention HIV/AIDS and its continuing impact on the gay male community in any of the papers you've issued.

The omission of HIV/AIDS from all of your documents and demands sends a not-so-subtle underlying message to the community and all of America that is over, and not worth even a passing reference in the Dallas Principles.

Why are HIV/AIDS issues not included in your call to action?

The second thing I wish to raise with you is the confusion some PWAs, persons with AIDS, have mentioned to me regarding the Denver Principles and the Dallas Principles.

What are the Denver Principles? The National Association of People With AIDS explains:
In 1983, a group of people living with AIDS got together in Denver and wrote a manifesto of self empowerment—known as the Denver Principles—for those living with HIV. The Denver Principles demanded that the voices of people living with HIV be heard. It asserted the right of people living with HIV to participate in the decision-making processes—at all levels—that would fundamentally affect their lives.
A concerted effort by PWAs, NAPWA, HIV groups, gay and women's health advocates, recently launched a campaign to modernize the Denver Principles, an effort I fully endorse.

I wonder if you and your colleagues have plans to clearly distinguish your principles' project from the Denver Principles. Maybe you can amend your effort's name to the Texas Project for LGBT Americans. Have you considered a name change?

Finally, I want to share with you a note from a widely-respect reporter at a California gay paper, which raised vital accountability and transparency concerns:
I don't see much new in the so-called Dallas Principles (besides being confusing with the PWAs' Denver Principles project. Also, I find it somewhat arrogant that 24 gay leaders (mostly from the coasts) can secretly meet in Dallas and come up with something the community is supposed to automatically buy into. Definitely not very transparent, when that's what everyone's complained about re: No on 8 campaign, etc.
It is generally accepted among lots of CA gay marriage advocates, that a huge problem with the losing strategy of the No on 8 committee was that it was a bunch of self-appointed LGBT leaders, with an invitation-only, closed-door meetings, A-gays only, way of operating.

This lesson from the No on 8 debacle doesn't appear to be something the organizers and attendees of your meeting in Dallas have learned. I hope that quickly changes.

I hope you or your Dallas meeting colleagues will address my concerns.

Best regards,

SF Chron: Obama in LA the Day After

CA Supremes Rule on Prop 8

Over at the San Francisco Chronicle's political blog, veteran reporter Carla Marinucci wrote yesterday that the president is coming to Southern California on Wednesday, which, as we now know, is the day after the state Supreme Court renders its decision on Prop 8.

I wonder how big a demonstration the LA gay community will organize in conjunction with Obama's appearance next week:

Just days after the California election highlighting the state's dire budget troubles, President Obama is making his second trip to the state -- to star in a $3 million fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the Democratic National Committee.

Wednesday's trip is Obama's first to the Hollywood vicinity. And the stars will be out: powerhouse singer Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar and Grammy winner, will perform along with Earth, Wind & Fire, says LA Observed.

The $30,400-per-couple event -- hey, who said the economy is in trouble? -- will be preceded by a $1,000-per-person ($2,500 VIP) reception, reports Wilshire & Washington, the Variety blog.

It's still not clear if Obama will do any public events in the Southland during his state stop; the White House says there's no information on that available yet.

I'm sure with the announcement this morning from the state Supremes that they're issuing their ruling early next week, the White House is factoring that, and the potential for large-scale LGBT street actions, into their decision about those public events.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Global Equality Still Waiting

for State Dept Reply on Gay Iraqis

The Human Rights Campaign on April 23 reported on its advocacy, in conjunction with the Council for Global Equality, on behalf of LGBT Iraqis:
The Council for Global Equality, of which HRC is a member organization, has been in communication with the State Department in Washington, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, calling on them to investigate this critical situation and to intervene with the Iraqi government.
A few days later, I contacted the executive director of Global Equality, Mark Bromley, to gather details about his communications with the State Department, which, were only verbal. Bromley relayed in emails that he had not written any letters to the department about the torture and murder of gay Iraqis, but that he soon would:
I will try to start writing and posting more once State has a little more time to reply. I do think they are trying to find an appropriate response, so I want to give them some room to maneuver – but not too much. I will try to push with more than phone calls in the coming weeks.
This week, I followed up with Bromley, and his colleague Julie Dorf, and received these replies. From Bromley:
Sorry, Michael, I was out of the country all last week. Based on further phone conversations, we have reason to believe that the State Department is following up on our request to investigate. Will continue to follow this now that I’m back in Washington.
Yes, it's good to know Global Equality is still in verbal communication with the department, but I find it quite strange, given all the horrors suffered by LGBT Iraqis and reported by the press and NGOs, that the group has yet to write a single letter to State about it all. No, phone calls are not enough, given the severity of the torture and killing of Iraqi gays. And note that Bromley says he believes the department is following up on their push to investigate, because of phone talks.

Interestingly, Dorf, in her email to me, says they're waiting for a reply:
Yes, Mark has been traveling and is just getting back today. Sorry for the delay. We don't really have much to say yet about State's response to our requests for further investigation into the abuses in Iraq. We are still waiting to hear back from them. Sorry there isn't more to report yet.
Let's give Bromley and Dorf the benefit of the doubt, and trust that the hadn't checked in with each other about a response from the department, before they separately wrote to me.

I'm also curious if their communications with our embassy in Baghdad, as reported by HRC, were just verbal, and what, if any, reply they've received from the embassy.

Hoping to find anything on their web site about LGBT Iraqis and Global Equality's phone calls to State, I checked their site and found nothing related to the gay Iraqi problems.

However, I learned that Bromley was at a world congress on human rights in Paris recently, something Bromley and Dorf omitted in their emails, giving me reason to think they're not very forthcoming with basic info. They seem dedicated to keeping info close to their vests, rather than just saying Bromley was at a human rights conference in Paris.

By the way, the Global Equality site hosts a PDF of remarks made by the State Department's Atul Keshap, director of the Office of Human Rights, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, at the Paris meeting.

Nice of Global Equality to promote the State Department official's comments on the UN LGBT declaration and related matters, but I think the group needs to be much more assertive about showing some tangible proof their oral communications with the department are moving State to investigate anti-gay human rights abuses in Iraq.

Frankly, as we're about to enter the third month of reports about the current atrocities being suffered by LGBT persons in Iraq, I think Global Equality ought to finally write a letter to the State Department, post the text on their site, and tell us what they're doing to move the department to respond.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blade: Gays Need Liaison at State Department

I'd like to express my gratitude to Keven Naff, the editor of the Washington Blade, for working his editorial magic on this column of mine, and for running it this week.

This idea may be quite unrealistic, at least in the short term, but I believe now is a good time to put forward creative ideas on how our State Department becomes more responsive the human rights abuses happening in too many parts of our planet.

How do you feel about the State Department creating a liaison for LGBT issues unfolding abroad?

Here's my Blade column:

WHEN SECRETARY OF State Hillary Rodham Clinton was on her European tour this spring in her new role as our country’s top diplomat, she held a town hall and asked the audience of average citizens for questions. A young gay Moldovan wanted to know what changes she would implement to aid LGBT persons beyond America’s borders suffering human rights violations. Clinton’s answer was succinct.

Mincing no words, she said, “Human rights is and will always be one of the pillars of our foreign policy, and in particular the persecution and discrimination against gays and lesbians is something that we take very seriously. It is terribly unfortunate, as you just recited, that right now in unfortunately many places in the world, violence against gays and lesbians — certainly discrimination and prejudice — are not just occurring, but condoned and protected. We would hope that over the next few years, we could have some influence in trying to change those attitudes.”

After eight years of tremendous personal dismay and anger over President Bush’s State Department too often ignoring foreign LGBT matters, Clinton’s words raised much hope on my part. And I’m a longtime, staunch critic of hers.

AS AN ACTIVIST who has engaged State’s human rights division since 1991, when the annual human rights report contained a mere single LGBT citation, and applauded the department expanding the reports to include hundreds of such citations in recent years, I will do my part to make sure Clinton keeps her promise to the gay Moldovan.

Delivering tangible results will happen more rapidly, and have more of an effective impact on the lives of LGBT persons internationally, if Clinton heeds this advice: Create a liaison for our community and our diverse human rights issues.

An LGBT program specialist at the State Department would have many duties and functions, all directed at making U.S. foreign policies more aware of and responsive to the suffering our brothers and sisters face daily, and the advances being made in a good number of nations.

What would some of the liaison’s responsibilities entail? She would coordinate the flow of news stories and reports from local media and LGBT organizations to the public affairs office, the human rights division and the desks for each country.

After evaluating the stories and reports, the liaison would determine how the department should respond — for example, releasing statements from the secretary or press office, ensuring inclusion in annual reports, maybe directing our ambassador or embassy to respond at the local level.

The liaison also must serve as the initial point-person for LGBT persons abroad seeking redress or attention for their problem from the U.S., and assist them in reaching the appropriate desk or diplomat to devise a solution.

ADDITIONALLY, I’D LIKE to see this program specialist help activist bloggers like myself, who regularly write on global gay issues, or advocate within the department on behalf of foreign LGBT citizens of the world. My time and energy for global advocacy is quite limited. Having a specialist at State would make it easier for me to quickly find the departmental information I need to write about global matters.

Then there’s the matter of LGBT issues and the United Nations. The liaison must keep apprised of our issues across the U.N.’s vast bureaucracy and commissions, and press the international body to do more for us.

We’ve waited long enough for America’s State Department to go beyond simply recording the increasing numbers of abuses in yearly surveys. I see no reason why this important federal agency should lack an LGBT liaison.

If Secretary Clinton is serious about transforming her words into actions and deeds that recognize and challenge the serious human rights violations of LGBT persons abroad, and I fully believe she is, then she will embrace the liaison idea and direct her top staffers to create the position, and fill it in four or five months’ time.

SF Gays to Pelosi:
Condemn Torture of LGBT Iraqis

My good friend and political artist Clinton Fein has made a terrific video of the May 17 solidarity rally and fundraiser for gay Iraqis at Harvey Milk Plaza, in Nancy Pelosi's congressional district.

For me, the most relevant and emotionally moving speaker was community organizer Gary Virginia, who demanded our member of Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speak out against the torture of LGBT Iraqis.

It's unacceptable that Pelosi, who represents the most energized gay political district in the nation, is getting a free ride about the abuse and gruesome murder of gay Iraqis from Democratic gay leaders at HRC, NGLTF and GLAAD, at a time when she is mired in controversy over torture.

I'm proud to associate with Virginia and other San Francisco voters who want our Congressmember to use her voice to bring attention to the plight of the gay community in Iraq.

After you watch Fein's video, give Pelosi's speaker office in DC a call and leave a message, demanding that she forcefully condemn the torture and killing of LGBT Iraqis. Let Pelosi hear your voice on behalf of justice for our brothers and sisters in Iraq. Her number is 1-202-225-0100.

And big thanks again to everyone who turned out for Sunday's important rally, and to Clinton Fein for creating the video.

Look at this tape, and spread it far and wide:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

SF: 100 Protest LGBT Iraqi Murders, $5K Raised;

Pelosi Criticized for Silence

Never doubt that a handful of pissed off queens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that has ever moved the queer movement meaningfully forward.

At least one-hundred people came out in today's heatwave over the course of a one-hour rally and participated in San Francisco's first action for IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia, Sunday afternoon at Harvey Milk Plaza. We rallied against the killings and torture of LGBT Iraqis, and expressed unwavering solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the U.S.-occupied country.

Thanks to the efforts of my organizing colleagues, Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders and Jeff Cotter of Rainbow World Fund, and several members of the ever-fabulous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, over the past week and today's bucket brigade, slightly more than $5,000 was raised. The funds will go to direct-relief aid for the LGBT Iraqi community. Tax-deductible donations can be made at

My favorite moment came at the end of the rally. Gary Virginia criticized our very own Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who, he pointed out, is also Speaker of the House, and whose district includes the possibly gayest neighborhood in all of America, was recently in Baghdad and she was silent during her visit about the LGTB murders.

"She's said nothing about the atrocities and that has to change," explained Virginia, to boisterous applause and cheers.

How the hell is it possible our Congressional rep is 100% mute about the murders of homosexuals in Baghdad, is the great unanswered question of the day.

Artist and activist Clinton Fein is editing and preparing a video of today's demonstration, which will be made public tomorrow. Look for it here and on his site

Let's look at photos from today and see a few of the fine people who showed up. On behalf of the organizers, we thank you. Most photos, except where noted otherwise, were snapped by me.

From the left, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, SF Police Commission president and transgender leader Theresa Sparks, political artist Clinton Fein, MCC Rev. Lea Brown, State Senator Mark Leno, and with the microphone, community organizer Gary Virginia. (Credit: Bill Wilson Photos.)

Theresa Sparks speaking to the crowd, about her son in the military who just returned for another tour of duty in Iraq.

Lesbian leader Debra Walker questioned America's continuing presence in Iraq, and restoring our moral authority on human rights and torture.

Holding the mic, Iranian-American Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who is straight, talked of the necessity to demonstrate, even if the corporate media ignores us.

Under my umbrella hat, I thanked everyone for coming out for IDAHO, and led a short chant: "Gays and lesbians under attack. What do we do? ACT UP! Fight Back!" (Credit: Bill Wilson Photos.)

On the left, Jeff Cotter from Rainbow World Fund, I don't know who the man in the middle is, and on the right is Japanese-American humanitarian advocate with RWF, Karen Kai. (Credit: Bill Wilson Photo.)

One of our posters on a lamppost. (Credit: Bill Wilson Photo.)

One of the Sisters, in her own shade, sending a message to the universe.

Is this eye candy to you? Not my type at all, but who the hell cares. They were there and gave a few bucks. "Are you wearing sunblock?" I asked them. "Yes," said the one in the hat. "And torture is wrong." Out of the mouths of young hairless hunks oft times come gems.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rep Polis: Iraq Feels Pressure to Act

on Violence Against Gays

As San Francisco prepares for the May 17 rally at Milk Plaza for LGBT Iraqis, I wondered what openly gay Congressmember Jared Polis had done lately about this matter, on top of the many avenues he's already pursued to help the LGBT community of Iraq and keep their desperate needs in the news.

Thanks to an interview in this week's edition of Washington, DC's Metro Weekly, I know Polis is keeping in touch with the State Department on behalf of LGBT people in Iraq.

Excerpted from Metro Weekly:

MW: From what you learned during your trip to Iraq, from your interviews with Doug Ireland and speaking with the State Department, what is your assessment of the situation for GLBT Iraqis? And what can you do about it?

POLIS: There's certainly a very serious problem with the level of dedication that the Iraqi regime has toward human rights. This is being felt most urgently in the human rights of the LGBT population of Iraq, which in Baghdad and many other areas lives in fear. There have been several killings [and] imprisonments.

I think [the Iraqi government is] beginning to feel the pressure to do something about it. Our efforts have been to encourage the American government to emphasize the importance of protecting human rights, including protecting all minorities, whether they're gay or Christian or atheist or Jewish. The real test of whether Iraq is dedicated to protecting human rights is whether they protect some of the less-popular minority groups in their country.

We are currently circulating a letter to Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton and there's been great support from my colleagues here in Congress. We had a couple good calls with Ambassador Karen Stewart, the head of the human-rights division of the Department of State. They've addressed it at the human-rights level. But we need to make sure we, through normal diplomatic channels, try to get the Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and the civilian leadership to more broadly condemn this practice. They have issued a condemnation, stating that people have to follow the law, basically. But they need more specific actions to combat this anti-gay violence.

I raised the issue with a member of the Iraqi Parliament, the chairwoman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. Part of the problem is that their committee doesn't have very much authority to actually protect human rights, but she was generally receptive to the arguments. I think that there are allies within the Iraqi government, but the prime minister needs to take these allegations more seriously and really promote more of a culture of tolerance, of diversity.

Keep up the terrific advocacy, Representative Polis.

[Solidarity Rally With LGBT Iraqis.
Sunday, May 17, Noon - 4 PM.
Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets
San Francisco, CA, USA.

Gays Organize Rally for LGBT Iraqis;

Leaders Want End to Torture and Murder
(At least three suspected homosexuals were murdered March 20, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraqi. Photo by Bilal Hussein/AP.)

(San Francisco, CA) – A broad united coalition of human rights advocates and politicians will hold a spirited rally this Sunday, May 17, in solidarity with the LGBT citizens of Iraq, who face surging violence and killings. Recent reports out of Baghdad document the gruesome gluing of anuses of gay men, who are forced to swallow laxatives, leading to death by diarrhea, come amid continuing genital mutilation of gays.

Responding to the atrocities, lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community organizers will hold a demonstration to support LGBT Iraqis:

WHO: Human rights activists and elected officials

WHAT: Rally and fundraiser

WHERE: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets

DATE: Sunday, May 17

TIME: 12:30 – 1:30 PM

A diverse array of leaders will speak at the rally, including Sen. Mark Leno, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, SF Police Commission President Theresa Sparks, Karen Kai of the Rainbow World Fund, Rev. Lea Brown of the Metropolitan Community Church, Debra Walker of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, political artist Clinton Fein, and community organizers Michael Petrelis and Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders.

There will be also a “bucket brigade” at the rally and circulating through cafes and restaurants of the Castro soliciting donations for groups working with LGBT Iraqis. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a social advocacy organization, have donated $1,000, and will supply volunteers for the brigade.

Rainbow World Fund, a LGBT international humanitarian relief charity, is serving as the fiscal sponsor, and donations made through it are tax-deductible. The fund’s colorful and eye-catching school bus will be parked at Milk Plaza, to serve as a welcome-wagon full of banners, posters and donation buckets. Donations will be used to provide direct aid to the Iraqi LGBT community. More at

Speaking for Gays Without Borders/SF, a group focused on global issues, Gary Virginia explained the motivations for the May 17 actions.

“We San Franciscans have a solemn duty to denounce anti-LGBT hatred in Iraq. Our demands to President Obama, the State Department and Congress are simple and doable – condemn the torture and slayings, investigate the human rights abuses, and create a sizeable number of asylum slots for LGBT Iraqis to enter and reside in America,” said Virginia.


Michael Petrelis Phone: 415-621-6267 Email:

Gary Virginia Phone:415-867-5004 Email:

# # #

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gay Jamaican Questions Boycott Opponents;

So Does Sapphocrat Blog

Over the past few days, I've corresponded with a gay Jamaican who gave me permission to use his emails here, as long as I didn't reveal his name or addy. He raises many interesting concerns about the complex problems facing LGBT Jamaicans, while supporting the boycott and pushing JFLAG to be more assertive about changing the situation.

As if it weren't enough to trade emails, this gay Jamaican called today to chat. What a pleasure to hear this young man's voice express a strong desire for JFLAG to take action, something more than just trying to stop the boycott. His is not the only voice asking for more leadership from JFLAG.

Check this out from the Lavender Liberal blogger Sapphocrat, posted yesterday:
And while we’re “tolerating” the violence, and what passes for Jamaican “law enforcement” that not only turns a blind eye but actively encourages (and often participates in) that violence, what does anyone — including JFLAG — suggest be done to stop the madness?
Certainly count me in the crowd with Sapphocrat who would like to know what JFLAG wants to do about the violence. It's not enough for JFLAG to put energy into opposing the boycott, while offering no alternative plans.

Here is the message from the gay Jamaican, who chooses to remain unnamed at this point:
I am an artist, who happens to be homosexual, born and raised, and living in Jamaica. For quite some time, I have heard calls for a boycott of Jamaican products, etc., and in my reading this morning, I came upon your website.
The state of affairs in Jamaica concerning GLBT citizens and their rights is a dire one, as you know. However, in some spheres of society (particularly the upper classes), one's real or perceived orientation is often considered inconsequential, particularly among artists.
The major problem really lies with the more disadvantaged Jamaicans; those who have not been very exposed to individuals who are gay or lesbian, who have fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and who have not necessarily had access to structured, formal education.
The responses of the Prime Minister, the Honourable Orett Bruce Golding, in last May's BBC HardTalk interview were a personal attack to me, and many other GLBT Jamaicans who desire to see change in our country; the kind of change that affords us the basic freedoms of self-expression that our heterosexual counterparts often take for granted. He refuses to take on the issue, as many political analysts have referred to the tackling of this issue as "political suicide" for quite some time now.

The Bruce Golding administration is unlikely to tackle this issue any time soon, considering the fact that this is the first time in 18 or so years, that the monopoly of the People's National Party (PNP) has been broken by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Our politicians are now certainly more concerned with securing another victory in the next elections, than being seen as a party promoting social and moral decay. The country desperately needs politicians who will use their power and influence to advocate for the equitable treatment of all Jamaicans, and not just mainstream, heterosexuals.
Concerning your boycott of Myers Rum and Red Stripe Beer, whereas I may understand Gareth Henry and Jason MacFarlane's views, they are incorrect in their assessment.

JFLAG is not as vocal as it could be (or should be, for that matter). I do understand its disinclination to put faces in the spotlight, but at this pace, it might take another century or more to get anything done in Jamaica. We need action now (which is what you are doing)! JFLAG needs a swift kick in its behind! :)

Admittedly, Red Stripe and Diageo have a high rating with regards to their policies, etc., but if they feel the pinch of the boycott, then perhaps they can attempt to do more. I believe that in an attempt to restore confidence in their brand, they will possibly be forced to put more pressure on the government and other corporate partners to do more.
It is painful for me to see the economy that has been decimated by the PNP tyranny fall into further despair, but the truth is that the pain I feel when an attack is made on me personally by schoolmates, the society at large and, even more so, the government that is supposed to protect the rights and freedoms of all individuals, is even greater.
I would urge you to take your fight on an even larger scale. The endorsement of one Australian politician is not enough; the encouragement of a boycott by American citizens is certainly not enough. For this strategy to be most effective, a boycott would have to be made of Jamaican dancehall artistes and other performers who use their medium to promote violence; the food; the Jamaican brand, particularly the tourism product (you can use your imagination for other ways to increase the effectiveness of your campaign), by many, many more countries.
Jamaica was once a leader in the Caribbean; many of the other territories looked to Jamaica for inspiration and direction with their own policies, etc. Now, Jamaica is more or less at the bottom of the food chain. Other Caribbean territories have been making much more progress. I am particularly impressed and encouraged by the work of Ms. Castro in Cuba. [Referencing Castro's pro-gay niece.]
I wish you the strength, courage, and resolve that you will need in this battle to help GLBT Jamaicans be established as worthwhile citizens in a country in which we give so much of ourselves with very little in return. The battle will be long, and hard; but victory is ours for the taking if we use the right strategies. This is not a war of centuries ago with swords being brandished on a large battlefield; it is one of might and will. The army in Jamaica has suffered many losses; but you, and other well-thinking individuals like yourself are our reinforcements, and we need you more than you may realize. Godspeed...

DC Ex: AIDS Group Losing Govt

Grant Because of Executive's Salary

(You'd be smiling too, if you were earning $382K. Craig Shniderman in a recent Blade photo. Credit: Henry Linser.)

Do you recall the Washington Blade's recent survey of compensation packages for gay and AIDS executives running our advocacy and direct-services organizations? Not easy to forget what was uncovered. The paper found that the salary paid to one local director was inching closer to the $400,000 mark:

Craig Shniderman, executive director of Food & Friends, which provides meals and nutritional services for homebound people with HIV/AIDS in the Washington, D.C. area, had the highest salary among the heads of the nation’s most prominent LGBT advocacy groups and groups that provide AIDS-related services in Los Angeles, New York and D.C.

A survey of the compensation paid to heads of 30 LGBT and AIDS organizations, conducted by the Washington Blade, shows that Shniderman had a total salary and benefits package of $382,200 in 2008, the latest period for which the organizations’ salary and annual revenue data could be obtained for a completed fiscal year.

Well, the public relations nightmare for Food and Friends, got a little worse in the past few days. That's because a DC suburb is cutting back on their grant to the group, all due to the outrageous sky-high level of pay for greedy Shniderman.

Let's look at the story from today's Washington Examiner, about the decision made by the suburban government, and the reaction from Food and Friends:

The Montgomery County Council is withholding funding for a local charity in an effort to send a message that the charity pays its director too much money.

The council voted to remove $55,000 in county funding for Food & Friends, a D.C. nonprofit that delivers meals to people living with HIV/AIDS and cancer, because its executive director, Craig Shniderman, made $357,447 in salary and benefits in 2007.
“This situation appears abusive,” said Councilman George Leventhal, D-at large, who spearheaded the effort to remove funding for Food & Friends.

According to Internal Revenue Service records, Food & Friends’ budget was more than $9.7 million in 2007. In 2006, the organization’s budget was $7.5 million and it paid Shniderman $334,551, tax records show.

What a minute here. The Examiner should have Googled "Craig Shniderman, salary, Food and Friends," and learned that the Blade reported this executive's pay was actually $382,200 for the most recent fiscal year. Okay, details on his current pay aside, it's still good to see the Montgomery County officials taking action.

“What we have here is the recommendation that 8,000 specialized meals and nutrition counseling will not be funded by the Montgomery County government on the strength of Mr. Leventhal’s personal objection to compensation determined after careful study by the board of directors of Food & Friends,” Robert Hall III, president of the board of directors at the charity, wrote the council in an e-mail.

Leventhal said he recognized that Food & Friends was entitled to set its own compensation levels, but said he wanted to “send a clear signal” that Shniderman’s pay was unacceptably high.

“They can keep paying him, but we’re not going to contract with them,” he said. ...

Oh, hogwash to what the nonprofit's board president says. The problem is not an elected official upset with Schniderman's salary; the relevant issue, in this economy is one HIV executive's big take home pay.

Thank you, Mr. Leventhal, for doing the right thing and sending a much-needed message to Schniderman and his board.

Will the people running Food and Friends ever develop some shame over how much Schniderman earns? Only if they keep getting bad press and donors object to how much of their donation is not making it to ill people in need of hot food.

LA City Council Unanimously

Passes Gay Iraq Resolution

Mike Bonin, the chief of staff to Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl, shares some fantastic news, about a resolution for LGBT Iraqis that should garner some media attention:
The resolution passed unanimously. Ten of the council's 15 members rose to speak, many quite eloquently and emotionally, in support of the resolution. Local LGBT activists spoke in favor of the resolution, and did a representation of the SEUI local, who was at council on another matter.
Kudos to Councilman Rosendahl, Bonin, and the entire LA City Council for speaking out against the violence and murder against gays in Iraq. Here is the text of what passed this morning:

WHEREAS, any official position of the City of Los Angeles with respect to legislation, rules, regulations or policies proposed to or pending before a local, state or federal government body or agency must have first been adopted in the form of a Resolution by the City Council with the concurrence of the Mayor: and

WHEREAS, very disturbing reports are surfacing from Iraq about torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people; and

WHEREAS, for the past three weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on in Iraq based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted and some religious leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels; and

WHEREAS, attacks against homosexuals have been abundant in certain neighborhoods, especially poor regions and remote areas such as the southern provinces and the Hurriya, Sho’la and Sadr neighborhoods in Baghdad; so far, 63 members of the group have been tortured; and

WHEREAS, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist has reported that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using “Iranian gum” a very strong Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery; after they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea and since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death; and

WHEREAS, many young men who have been tortured by this method have gone to the hospital for treatment and in some cases they were refused treatment; and

WHEREAS, according to newspaper reports from local news sources in Sadr City in East Baghdad, a previously unknown group “Ahl al-Haq” (the followers of Truth) have stepped up the persecution of Iraqi homosexuals after the murder of a number of them in the past few days; and

WHEREAS, local police authorities have stated that “the extra-judicial killing of any citizen is a crime punishable by law. No one has the right to become a substitute for judicial authorities or executive authorities, and if there are complaints against individuals, there is law and there are police and there are government agencies. No group or class has the authority to punish people instead of the state;” and

WHEREAS, As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life (Article 6) and the right of all its citizens “to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (Article 7);

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the Mayor, that by the adoption of this Resolution, the City of Los Angeles hereby includes in its 2009-2010 Federal Legislative Program support for legislation and administrative action which calls upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council hereby calls on the United States government, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to take action to end the persecution and murder of Iraqi gays, including but not limited to making a strong, public and international statement condemning the action and exerting all necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to take action.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council hereby calls on the mainstream media to shine a light on and draw attention to this largely ignored story of brutality, discrimination and human rights violations.

Councilman, 11th District

[Solidarity Rally With LGBT Iraqis.
Sunday, May 17, Noon - 4 PM.
Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets
San Francisco, CA, USA.