Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SF's Central YMCA Has Closed

There was much sadness at the city's Central YMCA on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin during it's last hour of operations today. I'm going to miss this place.

The building, opened way back in 1910 to replace the facility destroyed in the fire after the 1906 earthquake, has been sold to a nonprofit housing corporation that will transform it into affordable housing for low-income seniors.

I've heard talk that the Y wants to build another facility in the same neighborhood in the next few years, but given the state of the local economy, I don't really expect that project to break ground before the first Obama term is over.

Besides missing the convenience of the location, healthy exercising and sweating, the affordability, the total lack of music on the 5th floor workout room so one could hold a conversation without shouting, and all the sexy guys, one thing I'm really to going to miss are the diverse people who went there.

How diverse was it? Well, in the first week I was a member, I saw gay millionaire Jim Hormel, who could easily afford a gym in his mansion, working out next to a friend of mine who lived in a local homeless shelter. A genuine cross-section of folks - all colors, ages, shapes and weights, orientations - from all parts of the city and wider Bay Area, used this Y.

Like many others, I'll be transferring to the Embarcadero Y, and hope to see familiar faces, and bodies, down there. And in disco heaven, the Village People are singing their classic gay anthem tonight with a degree of sadness.

Here are a few pics from the last hour of business at this YMCA:

Ah, the fabulous men and fun activities I saw in the steam room and sauna.

The empty shower annex in the basement.

From the rafters of the 5th floor basketball, well-hung banners proclaiming financial donations from members such as former gay leader and businessman Rick Stokes, and the gay bathhouse of the East Bay.

The banner in honor the Spam heir.

The triangular sign over the entrance, which used to be lit up in pink neon.

Conference Call 08/02: DC March Plans,

Nationwide Press Conferences 08/08

If you've given your addy to the folks organizing the march, your in-box this week received a message about a conference for later this week, and it looks like there will be nationwide news conference next week. As of next week, the organizers will be looking at only three months remaining till their action happens. We'll see if a miracle occurs and there's a decent-sized turnout on the Mall.

Here's the email about upcoming organizing for the march:
Thanks for signing up for the National Equality March this October 10-11 in DC! We're excited to take to the streets in a few months, but the real work is about to begin.


In early July, we're going to launch a new national campaign called Equality Across America with one simple demand: full federal equality for all LGBT Americans in all matters governed by civil law. Now.

We hope you're fired up and ready to make change in your community. If we're going to win full equality, we need grassroots organizing in every one of the 435 Congressional Districts.

On July 8, will you hold a press conference in your Congressional District to announce the new campaign? We'll provide you with talking points and a sample press release during a conference call with Cleve Jones on Thursday evening of this week.

Please take the time to tell us what you're doing in your community. If your group can organize locally as part of this national movement, let us know what you're up to and how we can get in touch with you. And when we launch our new website in a couple weeks, we'll have a map that shows all of the groups fighting for full equality across America.

See you in the streets,
Equality Across America and the National Equality March team

Mayor Newsom Zapped w/Ketchup

at Pride Over AIDS Cuts

(Mayor Gavin Newsom, center in white dress shirt, is zapped by activists at the SF Pride Parade on Market Street. Photo credit: Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com.)

The anger in some parts the gay and AIDS communities over the city and state budget cuts to HIV programs surfaced at the Pride Parade on Sunday, according to reports from the FogCityJournal.com site and the SF Chronicle.

First up, a recap of the action during the parade from FogCityJournal.com:
On the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, LGBT activists and SF Pride-at-Work held a die-in at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade today in front of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s float to protest his budget cuts to public health. Protestors lay down in front of the Mayor’s float to symbolize deaths that will follow from his defunding of HIV/AIDS services. The action was reminiscent of the ACT UP die-in’s of the 1980’s and 90’s which used civil disobedience to urge a co-coordinated response to fight the AIDS epidemic.
Second, the Chronicle's gossip maven, Leah Garchik, informs us a condiment was tossed at Newsom and his wife, but the symbolic blood missed hitting them:
The huge line ringing City Hall for the after-party propelled us to lunch at Citizen Cake instead. But I heard the party buzz was about the Mayor and the Mrs. getting attacked by ketchup-wielding protesters complaining about budget cuts for AIDS. The mayor's pretty much a hero in the gay community, and the mood as he passed (on the street, shaking hands) was nothing but admiring. And the ketchup missed its exact target (but a mayoral aide said Monday that it washed out easily with water).
Third and finally point, watch a short video of protesters blocking Newsom's vehicle by staging an old-fashioned die-in on the street:

Monday, June 29, 2009

TABC: Not Enough Info on
Ft. Worth Gay Bar Raid

On Sunday, I sent an email to the top public info officer for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Carolyn Beck, requesting a few answers about the raid on a gay bar in Ft. Worth. My questions were also left on Beck's voice mail.

I want to know why the raid was conducted, who from TABC authorized the action, and what state liquor laws were supposedly being violated.

This was the reply I received this afternoon:
Hi Michael,

I got your message. If we release a statement today, I will definitely e-mail it to you. Right now, I don't have enough information to answer any questions except to confirm that we had agents in the bar on Saturday night along with the Fort Worth Police Department.

When I have more information and can answer questions, I will call you. If you would like to e-mail me questions, please send them to this address. I know you intended to send an e-mail yesterday.

If you did, I did not receive it.

Carolyn Beck
Public Information Officer
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
Even though Beck's reply skimps on any substance and details, it's a lot more than the non-responses to the raid from the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

I can't locate any statement on the raid, or the gay man who suffered head trauma and is hospitalized, on the HRC site. Their Monday morning wrap up has an item on the Vermillion, SD, school board expanding protections for LGBT people, and since my partner is from there, I'm happy to see the town's advance for us getting some attention from HRC. But was that the only thing of importance to happen over the weekend in our national struggle for liberation? I guess HRC can't cover things in South Dakota and Texas on the same day.

You won't find anything on the raid or injured gay man from NGLTF on their site, but the leader of the group wants your opinion on what issues she should raise with the president today at the White House cocktail party for LGBT people.

And at GLAAD's site, same nothingness on the terrible events in Fort Worth, but there are not one, not two, but three things on Perez Hilton using the word fag recently.

I guess it's unfair of me to think Gay Inc groups could get all dolled up for the White House reception _and_ also issue statements about the raid and hospitalized homosexual in Texas.

To their credit, the folks at Equality Texas have issued a statement and plan of action on their blog. They also shared with readers a news release from the Fort Worth police department about the raid:

On Saturday morning, June 27, 2009, a person identifying himself as the owner of the Rainbow Lounge called the local police station and spoke with a supervisor to ascertain if there was a problem at the Rainbow Lounge. At approximately 3:30 p.m., a Fort Worth Police sergeant spoke with the owner of the Rainbow Lounge and explained they were conducting alcoholic beverage code inspections in the area. The owner advised the sergeant officers were welcome anytime to conduct an inspection of his establishment. The sergeant advised the owner of the Rainbow Lounge that officers would return to the area this evening to continue inspections and would inspect his establishment.

On Sunday morning, June 28, 2009, at 12:30 a.m., six (6) Fort Worth Police Officers, two (2) TABC agents and a supervisor conducted inspections at 160 W Rosedale (Rosedale Saloon and Cowboy Palace). This inspection resulted in nine (9) arrests. Once the inspection was completed at these locations, officers proceeded to the Rainbow Lounge.

Officers arrived at the Rainbow Lounge to conduct the scheduled inspection. Some officers remained outside while some entered the club. While walking through the Rainbow Lounge, an extremely intoxicated patron made sexually explicit movements toward the police supervisor. This individual was arrested for public intoxication. Another intoxicated individual also made sexually explicit movements towards another officer and he was arrested for public intoxication. A third individual inside the lounge assaulted the TABC agent by grabbing the TABC agent’s groin. He was escorted outside and arrested for public intoxication. The decision was made to release him to paramedics due to his extreme intoxicated state as he was repeatedly vomiting. While dealing with this person, another officer requested assistance from inside the club as he had an intoxicated individual that was resisting arrest. This person was placed on the ground in an effort to control and apprehend. A total of seven (7) arrests were made from the Rainbow Lounge during this inspection. The total arrest count for the entire evening totaled 16.

I wonder why HRC, GLAAD and NGLTF remain silent on the raid and the gay man injured and hospitalized. When will Gay Inc make a statement about the situation in Texas?

Keep up to date on the raid's aftermath, and the condition of our injured gay brother, at the excellent Dallas Voice blog.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cops Raid Texas Gay Bar on Pride Sunday;
Protest Planned in Ft. Worth

(Cops raiding a Texas gay bar early this morning. Photo by Chuck Potter of the Dym-Sum blog.

(More photos from Chuck Potter, posted at Dallas Voice site.)

The good people at the Dallas Voice blog Instant Tea, are doing a great job reporting on the raid this morning at a Ft. Worth gay bar. While it's totally awful that the cops chose to bust this bar and arrest folks, the spirit of Stonewall is alive and well and fighting back. A protest is already planned for later today.

How did that old chant go in the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation? Oh, yes, I recall it.

"Gays and lesbians under attack. Waddya we do? Act up! Fight back!"

Some posts
from the Dallas Voice blog:

I got a phone call at 3 this morning from Todd Camp, the founder of Q Cinema and former reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was Camp’s birthday and the night of a special Q Cinema screening of two Stonewall documentaries… because it was ALSO the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, as anyone knows.

Except, apparently, the Fort Worth PD.

Or maybe worse, they DID know and wanted to make a point.

The horrific details after the jump.

According to Camp, the newly-opened Rainbow Lounge is “the only cool gay bar in town,” but the police raided it, arresting numerous patrons for no reason.

I got another perspective in my in-box this morning:

The not awesome thing was the paddy wagon of homophobic police that showed up … looking for trouble. My group and I were sitting on the back patio at a picnic table. Nobody was being wild out there.

[The police] came through with flashlights, being loud asking what was going on out here, then asked why everyone was all the sudden being quiet.

When one group started up their conversations again, they took one guy away. I left shortly after and as I walked through the front bar there were numerous cops with plastic handcuffs all ready to go. I [left] the bar and they [had] a big van in the parking lot and numerous cars on the street.

And just so you know, it wasn’t fire hazard crowded or seedy wild in there. … The worst part is [friends later told me] that [the police] had numerous people face down on the ground outside.

I just moved to Fort Worth from Dallas, so this is such a shock to me. I know Dallas would not put up with this. … I am still so shocked it is 2009 and this just happened.

Here's the info on the protest:

[Bar patron] Chuck Potter called. They are asking that people gather at the Rainbow Lounge at 5 p.m. today. Then there will be a protest outside the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth at 7 p.m.

Rainbow Lounge is located at 615 S. Jennings. The courthouse is on Weatherford at Main St.

Parking downtown in all parking garages and at all meters. There is a parking garage very near the courthouse, at Weatherford and Throckmorton.


Dear Michael:

I really appreciate that you acknowledged my blog this afternoon. Even more, I appreciate that you acknowledged the horrible events in Fort Worth last night.

On the other hand, I have to correct you: Chuck is not part of my blog. I'm the only person over here in DYM SUM land. Trust me, though, Chuck sounds like a really fantastic guy, and we could use him in our grassroots organizations in Massachusetts. I'd love to actually talk to him someday.

At any rate, thanks again, and Happy Pride! :-)


Dave Mailloux

SF Pink Triangle Burned on Pride Sunday

At church services this morning, friends who help create the annual pink triangle display on Twin Peaks told me about the attempt to burn it. We were all upset at this act of vandalism, on Pride Sunday no less, and expressed hope that the small fire will serve as a teaching lesson.

As we can see from the two KPIX photos, there was visible damage to the enormous pink triangle. However, from a distance it looks repaired. We'll see more news reports about this vandalism, and reaction to it, on the news later today. Expect gays to use the crime as a reminder that tolerance and acceptance are things we still are striving for, even in San Francisco.

From KPIX and Bay City News:
Arson investigators were trying to determine what caused a fire that damaged the Pink Triangle on San Francisco's Twin Peaks Sunday morning just hours before the city's annual Pride Parade was set to kick off, a fire department lieutenant said.

"Right now investigators are looking at all possible sources of ignition," San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

The blaze was reported at about 5 a.m. near Christmas Tree Point Road and was extinguished about 30 minutes later. A 25-by-30 foot area was damaged, she said.

The Pink Triangle, which will be taken down Sunday night, is a fabric installation constructed on Twin Peaks each June in recognition of Pride Week. More information about it can be found at:
http://www.thepinktriangle.com/. ...

"We are keeping our fingers crossed that things stay quiet," Talmadge said.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hill: Levin: Obama Must Lead DADT Repeal;

Survey Troops on Openly Gay Integration

As I write this, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is assembling on the streets of Washington for a march on the White House over the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. They expect at least 265 demonstrators to pound the pavement for equal treatment of gay people in the U.S. armed forces, according to a story in The Hill from yesterday.

What caught my attention was a comment from a powerful senator tossing the hot-potato issue back to the president, and also calling for a survey of the troops about integrating the services with open homosexuals.

I'm not an historian and I don't know if Harry Truman polled the troops when he moved to end racial segregation in the military, but I suspect that if he had, the white troops would have largely opposed working and serving alongside African Americans.

Haven't enough polls and respected military leaders come forward in the 16-years of DADT and agreed that it's time to lift the ban?

In any event, both the LGBT community and Congress are saying the same thing regarding DADT: Leadership needed from Barack Obama.

From the Hill:
However, his Senate counterpart, Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who supports a repeal, was noncommittal on Thursday and shifted the burden entirely onto the White House.

“It requires presidential leadership. This cannot be addressed successfully without that kind of leadership,” Levin told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

“It’s going to take some real kind of preparation inside of the services for us to successfully deal with that question.”

He said he hoped Defense Secretary Robert Gates would conduct a survey inside the military services to get the attitudes of the members of the military.

“These attitudes change all the time,” Levin said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SF Gays Hit $10,000 Mark
or Iraqi LGBT Refugees

(May 17 solidarity rally at Harvey Milk Plaza. Gary VA is on the far right, with mic.)

I was wrong and I publicly apologize to Gary Virginia, community organizer and miracle worker. Last month I accused him of being a "ka-razee ka-ween" when he told me over tea at Cafe Flore that he and Gays Without Borders/SF would raise ten thousand dollars for gay Iraqi refugees in Beirut. He's fond of saying I shot him the strongest "no" look.

Gary has stopped at nothing to hit the $10,000 mark and yesterday, we found out from our colleague, Jeff Cotter of Rainbow World Fund that after tallying up the money raised at Gary's party at Cafe Flore in Friday, online donations and old-fashioned checks via snail mail, we were at approximately $10,100 in funds received since our campaign launched in May.

That money goes to the Lebanese LGBT and HIV advocacy group Helem, which helps with housing and the welfare needs of Iraqi gay refugees in Beirut. Tax-deductible donations are still being accepted, via the Rainbow World Fund.

Damn good work, Mr. Virginia! Here is the note he sent this morning:
Hey Jeff and Michael ... I just read your notes re hitting our $10,000 GOAL and am in tears here at home. Tears of joy in recognition of our unlimited power to create our own reality and tears of compassion for the Iraqi gays still in need.

I can't think of a better Pride 2009 gift than for us to have worked together on this noble cause and reach our first set of goals: to raise awareness, move people to action, get Pelosi to make a formal statement, get the State Department to address the issue, get the Board of Supes and State Assembly to make formal demands for investigations and pressure the Iraqis and US occupiers to intervene to enforce the Iraq Constitution ... and to raise $10,000 for verifiable relief. WOW!

I accepted a Heritage of Pride Community Award last night at the Pride Media Party and although we were instructed that speaking was not being asked in our acceptance, to my surprise Lt. Dan Choi presented the first award to me and basically handed me the mic by mistake.

I took the opportunity to say thanks and remind people of our IRAQI LGBT effort and gave the URL for donations. People cheered enthusiastically (and I was the only awardee who spoke all night). Also, in my bio for the media packets, our Iraqi campaign was cited.

So thank you both ... we have much to be proud of (and thankful for) this year.

Now back to work on my two events on Saturday!!!!!! We'll celebrate our $10K goal later.

Gary ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

100 at Gay Shame Protest Against

Empty SF LGBT Center

(Sandbags keep the sign from blowing in the wind.)

No one was in front of the gay community center on Market Street when I arrived late for a protest that was scheduled to start at 6 pm. After locking up my bike, I saw two Gay Shame members on the cement divider taking pics of the building. Behind them was a large crowd in front of the It's Tops greasy spoon, and I quickly joined them.

From the top floor patio, six activists unfurled an anti-center banner and we all cheered. Actually, we cheered and everyone with recording devices documented the action.

But something was terribly wrong with the scene in front of eyes. There were no people entering or leaving the building's four-door entrance, no cops, and no center personnel trying to stop the folks on the patio.

And the center remained remarkably devoid of even trickles of community members, never mind hordes of locals or out-of-towners utilizing it. Only three center employees sat at the info desk, friendly enough, all things considered. I'll charitably say 25 people went in to the center during the 90-minutes I stayed with the Gay Shamers.

My estimate is that a solid 100 people participated in the action and good time of fun was had by all.

The crowd was overwhelmingly young, hip, gender and costume bending, sexually charged, colorful and pierced, and not buying the HRC/Gay Inc/Democratic Party/Marriage & Military agenda or leadership. It was fine revolting queer street theater, done on the cheap, with a potent message: We will not assimilate.

Oh, and the damn center has to meet the needs of low/no income queers, allow for community direction over programs and room fees, and curb its consumerist gay agenda.

Here it is the Thursday before the big LGBT Pride parade in what many consider to be America's most gay loving city, and the community center is a hollow shell. It's been that way for way more than a year and there is no rallying cry to save the center. But the foundation and government grants, corporate sponsorships and donations from individuals dwindle, and prop up an all but dead center.

Four days before Pride, and the San Francisco gay community center was, for all intents and purposes, empty of queer life.

Here are some pics:

Speeches getting started. Near the tree branches, the well-hung banner, an hour into the demo, was still in place.

I'll stop body profiling, but can I please continue cruising the crowd?

The view from inside the center's lobby.

A Stonewall Girl Wannabee, with leg in the air. Should be showing pubic hair.

This sexy and peppy Papi bear spoke to the crowd in Spanish.

Another handsome mature man watches the protesters ham it up.

My instructions to them were to strike a pose for Michael Jackson.

She needed no one to tell her to smile her great outfit.

That damn HRC equal sticker shows up everywhere.

Up close, he seemed barely out of his teens and snarled naturally.

The Gang from the Market Street Co-op medical marijuana dispensary.

Queen getting the props ready for the show.

BAR: EQCA's Kors Skips AIDS Inc
on Services v Prop 8 Repeal

There's an incredibly important and lengthy article in today's Pride issue of the Bay Area Reporter, written by ace reporters Matthew S. Bajko and Seth Hemmelgarn, about the funding troubles of LGBT and AIDS service providers and advocacy organizations.

With lots of cutbacks in government funding streams to people with AIDS, many HIV organizations are holding meetings to discuss how to deal with the money crisis and meet the direct daily needs of PWAs. Among the items on the agenda, merging groups and cutting overhead, according to the BAR.

In the past, the dozens of AIDS groups in San Francisco have strongly resisted ceding any turf and putting institutional egos aside, merging their services and better helping PWAs survive and thrive. Let's hope such thinking radically changes as we all grapple with the budget crisis.

One part of the BAR article forced me to raise an eyebrow; the part about an initiative to repeal Prop 8 and its potential adverse impact on AIDS groups. I think this is the first time I've read in a San Francisco publication, debate about how raising millions of dollars for another gay marriage ballot proposition could negatively affect service orgs, and the people they serve.

What also surprised me is that leaders of AIDS Inc tried to meet with Geoff Kors of Equality California, and a defacto honcho in any ballot initiative, and that he missed a meeting to discuss the matter.

Not only that, as the BAR reports, the same leaders, like many regular LGBT community members, are not sure who's in charge of making the decisions about an initiative.

It doesn't say much good about California's gay community that, eight months after we lost Prop 8 and the right to marriage equality, we cannot pinpoint who the leaders are for either a 2010 or 2012 return to the voters.

From the BAR:

As the community prepares for a Prop 8 repeal campaign sure to cost tens of millions of dollars, nonprofit leaders are expressing concern about the impact the looming battle will have on their ability to raise funds.

Last year's Prop 8 fight cost the LGBT community and its allies $40 million, largely spent along California's liberal coastal areas. The repeal fight is expected to cover the entire state, ensuring the next ballot battle will be far more costly to the community.

"I don't know of any LGBT organization in the state that's focused on direct services and advocacy outside of marriage that isn't worried about fundraising in light of another ballot initiative," said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which has received more than 1,200 requests for assistance this year.

Dana Van Gorder, executive director of Project Inform, and several other AIDS agency leaders had hoped to meet with Equality California's Geoff Kors this past Monday to discuss how to fund the next campaign, while at the same time, ensure local agencies serving the community do not see their fundraising efforts adversely impacted. But Kors was a no-show and the AIDS executives said they're confused on just who is leading the repeal effort. ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gay Iranian Students:

We Need Global Solidarity

At the request of Scott Piro, I am sharing this important message. I am proud to say, a handful of gay people in San Francisco took to Harvey Milk Plaza on June 18 to stand in strong solidarity with Iran's democratic revolution and the peaceful protesters in the streets, which, of course, included LGBT Iranians.

This is my message back to the LGBT Iranians and all Iranian freedom-lovers: The LGBT community of San Francisco supports you in your hour of need.

And I still wait for Scott Long and Human Rights Watch to finally release their gay Iran report, that has been promised for four years now.

Here is the message I received this morning, with contact info for gay Iranians pushing this open letter:

Dear Michael -

On behalf of our colleagues at the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), we are distributing an open letter to the international community from the Network of Homosexual University Students of Iran.

The voice of Iran’s LGBTs in North America, IRQO conveys it has received this urgent appeal to enlist the world community in protecting Iran’s population in the events unfolding there.

The media contact from the IRanian Queer Organization (IRQO) for this letter is:

· Saghi Ghahraman

· Phone: 416-407-5451 or 416-534-0931

· Email: board (at) irqo.org

The Persian language version of IRQO’s website is: http://blog.irqo.org/


Scott Piro, Communications Director

ORAM - Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration


Distress and Despair in the Streets of Iran today:

Open letter By the Network of Homosexual University Students of Iran

To The International Community

The painful incidents of the past few days reached their peak today. On Saturday June 20, the Islamic regime carried its violations of human rights of the past 30 years, further. The People’s desire to choose their government peacefully in a fair election was frustrated by the Regime and the Supreme Leader with deception and imposition of force. This led to a silent protest after the election results shocked the whole country. In the streets of Tehran, miles and miles of tolerant, calm, and resolved masses, about 3 million strong, confronted the rigged election. This peaceful yet determined protest was met with brutal force by the regime’s strongmen, shooting from rooftops and windows.

What the People of Iran want is democracy and free elections even if these are secured within the framework of an Islamic Republic. But apparently, an Islamic Republic is unlikely to give way to democracy. Reports of the dead and wounded in last week’s attacks on civilians vary, but facts are available through eyewitness accounts, images captured on cell phones and cameras, and messages typed online. Most significant is not our numbers, but the fact that we are being shot down in the streets in front of everyone, or being cut open in the detention centers where the protesters are being taken. Video clips and photos displaying killing and wounding, slitting of throats or tearing of bodies require no captions.

Strongmen and military forces are attacking civilians, using all sorts of weapons from boiling water to bullets. The basij, plain-cloths cultural police recruited to enforce religious morality, are now attacking people in their homes at night.

The People are still calm and determined; they have vowed to take back their stolen votes and to stop the government’s fraud with their bodies. Since the Supreme Leader announced the election results a ‌definitive victory this Friday and ordered the People off the streets, the demonstrations have been perceived as open war on the legitimacy of the Regime itself. Tehran was a bloodbath today. Other large cities report assaults and military attacks on civilians; there are many fatalities.

In the hands of the Government today, the citizenry’ lives are as subjected to horrible violence, as is their hope for democracy and a just society. Following the Islamic Regime’s crackdown on university dormitories on the first three nights, five student activists, Mobian Ehterami, Kasra Sharafi, Kambiz Sho’a’ee, Fatemeh Baratee, and Mohsen Eemani were killed. The rest of the students murdered and wounded have not yet been named. By now, all outside Iran have had a chance to see images of the People’s silent screams and the torn and bleeding bodies of the same protestors. Those who were arrested or kidnapped and released wrote accounts of the horrors they experienced. Still we fear the grave reality is not yet understood by outsiders. We know that our realities can sound like passages from an Eastern tale.

For this reason, queer students in Iran feel compelled to tell of these tragic measures to the world and to stand witness. As we mourn the loss of innocent protesters and worry about the fate and whereabouts of those who have been arrested and not yet released, we are proud of the patient, determined long lines of people displaying the most amazing face of a society which remains refined in the presence of utterly brutal circumstances. We are united in this and we are one voice demanding democracy. Those of us who are alive today live by chance. This calm and refined crowed is devastated and distressed today. We live in fear and we anticipate the worst.

If Ahmadinejad backed by the Supreme Leader managed a coup against the elected president of Iran Mir Hosein Musavi, and seeks to divert the course of democracy, our hope and our goal is to not allow this to happen. Now that the Assembly of Guardians has turned down the People’s demand for new elections, the fear is that if the protests are crushed, the regime will oppress individual freedoms and civil rights much more harshly than before.

The Islamic Regime of Iran, with its history of human rights violations, suppression of minorities and targeting of homosexuality by threat of execution, has chosen to repress democratic aspirations and demolish civil institutions in order to further its control of People’s lives in a widespread, veiled brutality. This will culminate in the wounding of Iranian society as whole and from there it will compromise human rights symbols around the world.

The Homosexual community of Iran has been living under harsh conditions of harassment and fear. We identify with the pain the People endured this last week; those who fought back tears and kept calm under attacks and assaults in which silence was the most effective or only shield. These days, the Government is dismissing demands for justice, opening fire on people, and calling them “less then dust,” “dirt,” “dirty” and “fags,” eliciting years of dual oppression in the mind of homosexual community.

Iranian queers have been struggling with the merciless oppressive Regime for years; we know very well what it means to endure cruelty. In recent days, the Islamic Regime has been treating people in the same way it has treated the queer community over the past three decades. It is with this understanding in mind and with a hope for a fair and free future based on equality that we fight side by side, hand in hand against the dictator. We urge the international LGBT community to hear our voice and hear the People of Iran in their demand for new elections. We ask the international LGBT community to assist us in alerting the world of the cruelties and the killings taking place in Iran during these days. We fear that in the days to come, if the dictator wins, a generation -- our generation -- will simply be eliminated.

These days, the queer movement of Iran is alongside the people’s movement. We are certain that the death of democracy in Iran will sooner or later mean the death of all humanity. We are certain that in the denial of civil and individual rights – as Ahamdinejad did in his first speech after his second round of his appointment to power, calling all protesters “thieves,” “ruffians”, and “fags” – all hopes for a civil society will be wiped out. Yet we live with the hope of rescuing Iran from the spread of fascism. On the fourth day of the Silent Resistance, one protester held a placard pronouncing: I’m not afraid of death, my fear is of life ... three days has passed already.

Equality, social justice, respect for different ethnicities, religions, languages, and sexual minorities are indeed possible, if people are not denied their rights within the framework of democracy.

We ask the international community, the international LGBT community, and human rights organizations or the world to be watchful of the atrocities in the streets of Iran today, to respect the Iranian people’s vote and their wish to live in a democratic society, and to refuse to recognise Ahmadinejad as Iran’s elected president until a new election is held in the presence of UN monitors. We ask the international community to support people of Iran through diplomatic pressure and UN intervention.

We ask the international community to stand by us and to urge governments to respect the Iranian People and their vote, to refuse to recognise Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president until we have the opportunity to elect our president with our own votes. What we want is a new election. The People are resolved to take back their vote. For the people of Iran, particularly for the queer community and all other minorities, this is the only possible way forward.

Today the Iranian People are relying on their own capacity to resist and assert their quest for justice. This will not happen without the support of the international community.

Praised be the day when Iran is responsive and responsible for all its children and citizens.

In the name of freedom and social justice,

Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran

June 20, 2009

Daneshjooyan.hamjensgera (at) gmail.com