Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beefy, Tattooed Bear Librarian?
Only in San Francisco: Woof

Say the word librarian, and I automatically picture Mrs. Plotkin, one of the great librarians at the West Caldwell, New Jersey, public library when I was growing up in the 1960s. She was so friendly, always helped me find the books and magazines I wanted to borrow, her hair had a blue rinse hue and she wore a time-piece on the left side of her blouses.

That mental image has to be updated, now that I've had a look at Octavio Ruiz, a librarian at the local Excelsior branch in San Francisco. He was featured in a recent SF Chronicle story about the evolving services at the public library, and the paper ran the color photo above of him helping a patron.

Can we say beefy, woofy tattooed bear whose sizable biceps are barely contained by the tight fabric of his shirt? Yes we can!

Count me as one citizen who has always supported public libraries and the many fine men and women who work there. I'm so old-fashioned about such things, I still borrow books from the library and wish I had reason to borrow one from the Excelsior branch, I could check out both Octavio Ruiz and the book.

(Photo credit: Noah Berger, SF Chronicle.)
EQCA Silent on Medi-Cal,
SSI Cuts to Low-Income Gays

Earlier this month, the Social Security Administration sent me a letter stating my monthly SSI payment was being reduced by 15 percent. The letter said: Your SSI consists of money from the State of California. Your State changed the amount of money it tells us to pay its residents. Therefore, we will decrease your State payment for July 2011 ... and your regular monthly check [will be reduced] ...

Every other person with AIDS or disabled or senior gay person in California receiving SSI benefits received a similar letter, informing them of this decrease. By the way, according to the Associated Press, there has not been a cost of living increase for Social Security beneficiaries since January 2009.

Today's front page of the SF Chronicle, in a story penned by Victoria Colliver, reports that the state budget will have a serious impact on health care services for low-income residents:

The California budget approved Tuesday includes a number of cuts to the state Medi-Cal health program for the poor. They include:

Co-payments: New $5 co-payments for doctor visits and $3 co-payments for prescriptions.

Visit limits: A limit of seven physician visits a year, unless additional visits are certified by a doctor as medically necessary.

Hospital visits: $50 co-payments for emergency room visits and $100 for admission to a hospital (to a maximum of $200). ...

So, here we have two programs that assist thousands of gay seniors and disabled folks and persons living with AIDS in California, about to be cut and negatively impacting the wellness of these people and I want to know what our statewide lobbying organization, Equality California, has to say about it. Nothing. Nada. Not a word of protest or concern.

The EQCA web site today contains notices about political redistricting, the death of a Democratic Party leader who was a lesbian, the passage of gay marriage in New York state, and the latest legislative action on a gay education bill of dubious merits.
I'm not suggesting they should not issue alerts about those items, but where the heck is EQCA's alert about these health care and benefits cuts? I suspect we are again seeing how EQCA has very little concern for and expends microscopic resources regarding anything to do with low-income gay people.

Just a reminder, that in recent weeks we learned EQCA had endorsed AT&T's position on net neutrality, written a letter to the FCC carrying water for their corporate sponsor, a letter they eventually withdrew and they kicked AT&T lobbyist Troup Coronado off their board of directors.

Let's be perfectly clear about this: EQCA's silence, again, about important issues affecting gays beyond their small circle of A-gay board members and deep-pocket donors shows their narrow focus doesn't include low-income gay people.
SF Pride Threatens Videographer
With Legal Action Over Shooting Tape

(Screen grab of David Wilton's vid, as captured by SF Appeal.)

The overly corporatized parade and party masquerading as SF Pride for the gay community, in recent days has made bullying noises against a gay attorney and videographer, according to a story at the SF Appeal written by Aaron Sanken:

Just a few blocks from the Civic Center SF Pride celebration, the festive atmosphere of Market Street Pink Saturday night was punctured with the sound of gunfire.  ...

Like virtually everything else that happens in these times, a portion of the event was captured on video. David Wilton recorded the shooting's grisly aftermath and posted it on YouTube. Wilton titled the video San Francisco / Civic Center Shooting at Pride 2011 - Sat 6-25-2011, "based on the direction of the people coming and going in the area, the way these people were dressed and the close proximity of the incident to the parade route and the festival," Wilton said.

Shortly after posting the video, Wilton was bluoz reports, contacted by Brooke Oliver, SF Pride's General Counsel, who said the videographer "simply chose to sensationalize your posting by wrongly associating a violent tragedy with the safe and peaceful, SF Pride."
Wilton, Oliver said, had three options:
1. Take down the above referenced video. 2. Replace it with an affirmative public apology to SF Pride for wrongly associating it with violence, and clarifying that the shooting on Market Street had nothing to do with the SF Pride festival, and was blocks away from it;
3. Pay SF Pride $10,000 in damages and costs. Any delay will certainly see this amount increase.
... Instead, Wilton retitled the video with no mention of SF Pride and put in the YouTube description an explanation of everything that had happened up to that point, posting Oliver's letter in its entirety. Embedding was also disabled on the new, reposted video. ...

The SF Pride committee suffered a meltdown after last year's events, leading to the resignation of the executive director and president of the board, over serious financial mismanagement, executive incompetence and confusing communication problems.

Many grassroots activists, myself included, have long viewed the committee as far too concerned with securing corporate sponsorships and currying favors with office-holders or office-seekers, among the troubles afflicting the committee. If there is a grassroots component to the SF Pride events, one that challenges businesses and politicians instead of kissing their butts, I'm not aware of it.

The committee's meltdown has been covered in detail by the Bay Area Reporter, whose work inspired additional reporting in the SF Weekly and the SF Chronicle. Good to see gay and mainstream media outlets serving as watchdogs over the parade committee.

Reading the SF Appeal article today, reminded me of an extravagance on the part of SF Pride reported last week in the Chronicle that raised a few eyebrows:

All the stages and venues will be back, although without the JumboTron. The large-screen attraction was a discretionary $30,000 expense, Hemenger said. ...

Thirty-freaking-thousand dollars for a JumboTron? I can think of lots other ways to better spend that robust five-figure amount. In 2010, all the talk about the JumboTron was how it was used to screen a pre-taped short speech and appearance by Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

From forcing a videographer to censor his tape, to wasting good money on electronic gadgetry to providing a butt-kissing platform to career politicians who need a few kicks in the butt, with an over-emphasis on partying and keeping corporations happy and tapping into the gay marketplace, the organizing committee has proved itself to be SF Profit.

Pride left the parade and stage a long time ago.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NY Flag Didn't Fly at SF's
Milk Plaza for Gay Marriage: What About July 24?

Several friends have asked me since Friday evening, when elected officials in Albany, New York, passed legislation legalizing gay marriages that was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, leading to massive celebrations in Greenwich Village and gay communities around the country and planet, why didn't the New York state flag fly at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood.

Lacking an answer, I sent a few questions this morning to the Castro's very out member on the Board of Supervisors, Scott Wiener.

Simple queries, including did Wiener attempt to hoist the New York flag over the weekend to fly with the rainbow flag, in a show of solidarity with the Empire State? Would he consider flying that state's flag on July 24, the day gay couples across New York can legally get hitched? If the city government doesn't possess a New York flag, would Wiener reach out to the community for an appropriately-sized version to proudly blow in the wind on July 24?

As of this writing, Wiener's office has not responded to my questions but if and when they do, I will share the reply. If you think San Francisco's gay community should display hope and solidarity with our brothers and sisters back in New York by adding the state's flag for a solid 24-hour period to the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, please let Wiener know your feelings.

His addy is: You can reach his office via phone at this number: 415-554-6968.

By the way, lots of times folks around the these parts ask, "What would Harvey do?" when trying to determine a path of action. In this instance, considering he was from Woodmere, New York, I think we all could agree that Harvey would make sure to fly an Empire State flag in the heart of Gay Mecca. Heck, I imagine he would get in touch with Governor Cuomo, request a flag, receive it and put it to good use.

Let's hope Wiener does the right thing on July 24 and makes sure the New York flag flies proud and triumphant with the rainbow flag at the public plaza named in honor of the gay leader from Woodmere. 

(Milk at the 1978 Gay Freedom Day parade on Market Street. Dig that crazy sign, daddy-o! Credit: Terry Schmitt, SF Chronicle.)
FBI Releases 1,700 New Pages
on Milk and Moscone Murders

As part of the response and search conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to Freedom of Information Act requests I had made for any records on Harvey Milk, George Moscone and Dan White, the agency in March 2010 sent me sixty-four pages of documents. But they were by no means everything the FBI had in the archive on these men.

Kathleen E. Miller of Raw Story penned an excellent news story, based on the newly released documents, last year about Milk and Moscone being probed by the feds for potential political corruption at the time of their murders.

When I received those pages, an FBI FOIA manager informed me that more documents had been found after the initial search, documents that were either recently declassified or transferred from the San Francisco bureau to the agency's headquarters in Washington. The FBI, in other words, was cleaning out more its paper records closets.

In recent months, the FBI has sent me two discs, one containing 728 pages and the other with 1,064 pages, for a total of just over 1,700 pages that need to be examined. Frankly, I'm been overwhelmed to even open the discs and have just a cursory look at the new documents and hope to locate someone in San Francisco to pore over and write up a report on what's in them.

If someone steps forward offering to post all of the new pages on the web and allow everyone interested in the lives and times of Milk, Moscone and White, I'd consider such a proposal. The crucial issue for me with these two FBI discs is to bring light to what they contain.

Lemme know if you're up for helping with this project.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gay Syrian Hoaxer Gets to Censor my Site

(Tom MacMaster, "Amina Arraf" & "Miriam Umm Ibni". Credit: Alexander Christie Miller.)

On Friday, I received two notices from regarding a post of mine about the Gay Girl in Damascus hoaxer Tom MacMaster and how he tried to secure a book deal posing as Amina Arraf. The post relayed info I had found on Minal Hajratwala's blog and I quoted an email she had received from MacMaster posing as Arraf. His email was under 30 words. appended this note to my dashboard, bolding in the original:

We have received a DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] complaint for your blog, Petrelis Files. An e-mail with the details of the complaint was sent to you on Jun 24, 2011 , and we reset the post status to "Draft"; you can edit it here. You may republish the post with the offending content and/or link(s) removed. If you believe you have the rights to post this content, you can file a counter-claim with us. For more on our DMCA policy, please click here. Thank you for your prompt attention.

Notice that it says nothing about what exactly in my post is a supposed violation. I filed a counter-claim stating I needed know which words had to be altered. To make sure I got the message, also emailed me a longer version of the note, which again omitted reference to the specific text that prompted the complaint.

Suspecting the complainant was MacMaster, I emailed him and asked for an explanation and have not heard back from him. Very sorry to see him use to censor my site, but he's man without integrity or scruples so it's not surprising censorship is one of his tools in attempting to restore his tarnished reputation.

My post in question is in draft mode and I will not be amending it in any way until I hear back from or the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I filed a complaint with the EFF and hope to receive advice from them about challenging the copyright violation claim.

In other news on MacMaster, it appears as though he's created a second female Syrian on at least one web site, MondoWeiss.

Click here to read the post that generated a note from the alleged female Syrian, a reply from another commentator who found MacMaster's fingerprints on the female Syrian's note and then an admission by the hoaxer that a "friend" wishing to defend his actions has used his computer to post the note and wished to remain nameless.

Over at the Guardian's web site, Esther Addley, who has been following MacMaster and his hoax, write an excellent piece about his latest act of b.s. on the web. Addley writes:

The Guardian has seen screengrabs of the IP data, emailed by one of the site's hosts Adam Horowitz, that show the post originated from the address

Journalists, bloggers and web users unmasked MacMaster earlier this month as the unlikely hoaxer behind the Amina blog, in part after its posts were traced to the address.

In an email, later posted on the site, MacMaster acknowledged that "Miriam Umm Ibni" was a fake identity, but denied being behind it, saying a "friend of mine who would really like to remain nameless" had posted the comment in his defence. It came from the same IP address because she had been staying with his wife and him, he wrote. ...

How many sockpuppets has MacMaster created and when will he stop putting out the lamest of excuses for his stupidity? He should get a clue as to how many folks around the world are tracking his online efforts and also know how to detect his fingerprints on his "friends" messages left at various blogs.
N. Ireland's New Gay Bathhouse;
San Fran Ban Still in Effect

Earlier this month, in Northern Ireland, of all places full of political and religious fanaticism hostile to homosexuals, a gay bathhouse (shown above) with private rooms was approved to operate. From the Derry Journal:

The Cage, which houses a sauna, steam room, cinema, sling room, dark rooms, private cubicles and cafe, has been at the centre of a storm of protest from several Protestant ministers since Belfast man Barry McGonigle proposed it for Derry last year. It has been operating since the start of the year without planning permission, which was approved this week.

Despite the green light local Baptist Minister Mark Bradfield, from the Bethel Baptist Church in Campsie, has vowed to protest on to make sure The Cage shuts its doors. ...

BTW, there is another bathhouse in Northern Ireland. It's called the Pipeworks and is located in central Belfast.

Since the mid 1980s, the self-proclaimed gay mecca of America and sometimes the world, San Francisco, has banned private spaces in commercial sex venues and enforced monitoring policies at gay sex clubs. In all of San Francisco's sex clubs, there are no doors and no right to privacy, the Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision be damned.

No other American city that I'm aware of followed San Francisco's misguided gay bathhouse prohibition.

Around the Bay Area, the Steamworks bathhouse in Berkeley and the Watergarden club in San Jose, neither of which ever faced closure by public health officials or anti-sex advocates, are thriving and both heavily promote safe sex practices, offer lots of condoms and not only encourage testing for STDs and HIV, they provide testing services on site. The Watergarden, also hosts nude yoga sessions.

But Podunk San Francisco doesn't even debate the potential reopening of the bathhouses. Our gay elected officials, political clubs and AIDS Inc groups are happy with the prohibition in place. With so many gay leaders and activists pushing marriage, unnatural  monogamy and white picket fences, sexual freedom and liberation are not even on the stove top, forget about being on the back burner.

The owner of Northern Ireland's new gay bathhouse, which promotes sexual safety, Barry McGonigle, opined about those who oppose his venture, with words I long to hear from gay politicians here:

And he rejected criticism of the business. “It is a gay sauna. If any sexual encounters happen within the rooms it is between two consenting adults. It is simply a place for gay and bisexual men to meet and socialise.” ...

Why can't the San Francisco gay community, heck, the national gay movement too, push for both gay marriage and bathhouses? Not every queer wants to be partnered or get hitched and walk down the aisle. Let's have a gay agenda that embraces diverse relationships and sexual venues for adults.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HRC Meatrack at Macy's;
Gratuitous Cub-cake Pix

This Pride weekend has been the delightful, low-key affair for my partner and I. We generally avoid as much of the official hoopla and profiteering and drunks as possible, and stick to 420 for mood elevation.

On Friday, I participated in the trans march on Dolores Street, with dozens of friends and acquaintances I haven't seen in many a moon, was recruited to help organize the August 6 Slutwalk For Safety, and didn't see one damn corporate logo on any signs or banners or clothing gear. Quite an old-fashioned queers, steers and a few bears visibility and solidarity parade.

The gay grapevine was buzzing about the Human Rights Campaign's action center, er, store down at Macy's on Union Square. It's a temporary set up in the Men's Store Annex, on the ground floor, more of a display with a few mannequins and tables of useless products with the equal logo on everything, with a DJ spinning dance music and a meatrack of two young smooth, skinny guys.

Definitely an awkward situation for the time I observed the HRC store, late Saturday afternoon. The models remained standing, putting out unfriendly stiff vibes, sported pouty looks and shoppers walked past them quickly, gays too, or showed more interest in the HRC merchandise.

Early Sunday afternoon, I brought all of my laundry to the Little Hollywood wash-n-dry on Market and Laguna Streets, and spent most of the time watching the hordes of colorful, sun-basted crowds walk in both directions on the sidewalk.

The laundromat's manager allowed anyone who asked for the bathroom to come in and use it, bringing many smiles to faces and relief to bursting bladders. A parade of diverse folks came and went, but one young muscular cub stopped to chat with me about how hard it was to call a cab for a pick up today.

A cub does not necessarily have to have a hairy chest or belly. It's more about possessing a friendly attitude, and he had plenty to spare. Told him he should grow a beard and really drive the cub-cake admirers crazy, an idea he liked. In the flesh, he has quite a deep innie navel, with a thick dusting of black fuzz surrounding it.

When asked if his father was half as handsome as he, a grin spread across his face and he told me he was good-looking, with more fur, some of it gray. I should have asked if the father was down at Civic Center. ;-)

Our adorable cub was traveling with a precious princess who forgot to slather on the sun screen lotion this morning. I thanked them striking a few poses for my camera, and for not having any HRC stickers or clothing on their bodies. Princess also complained about not being able to hail a cab today, before they went back out on the street and headed up toward the Castro.

And how was your Pride weekend?
an Additional $58,000 for its Advocacy?

(AT&T lobbyist and former GLAAD board member Troup Coronado, left, presents ex-GLAAD chief Neil Giuliano with a check for $33,000. Courtesy photo.)

As far as I've been able to determine, the Politico site is the source for the info about AT&T giving the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation $50,000, a donation that played a role in GLAAD's soon-to-be departed executive director Jarrett Barrios shilling for the company at the FCC.

From Politico:

GLAAD — which has received $50,000 from AT&T — recently backed the deal as well, saying it had “the understanding that the merger will increase functionality and speed, thus growing engagement and improving the effectiveness of the online advocacy work that is advancing equality for all,” a GLAAD spokesman said. ...

If you know more details about the $50,000 grant - when it was given, was it in one lump sum, for what purpose - please let me know the additional facts.

The reason why I'm trying to nail down more details on the $50,000 donation is because I located two old announcements from GLAAD about gifts from AT&T that may be in addition to that amount.

This is from December 2007, when Neil Giuliano was still the chief at the corporate and media lapdog organization:

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced today that it was the recipient of a $25,000 grant from AT&T. The grant was awarded to the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization to support its ongoing work to promote and ensure fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. ...

And here is what they had to say in February 2009 about another gift from the phone conglomerate:

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced today that it was the recipient of a $33,000 contribution from AT&T. The contribution was awarded to the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization to support its Student Fellowship Program, which trains and prepares young adults for future professional success by providing hands-on experience working with GLAAD staff and other media professionals. ...

These two gifts total $58,000, so maybe the $50,000 figure Politico and others have been using comes from those grants and is slightly off. Or is the $50,000 figure on top of the combined $58,000 given in 2007 and 2009, bringing AT&T largess to $108,000?

I think it's important to have GLAAD provide full information about all the grant money it has received from AT&T - dates, amounts, purpose, favors expected - along with posting on their web site all agreements signed between the two entities. Full and comprehensive transparency now.
Red Vic Theater is Closing;
Film Society Leases Viz Cinema

Let's just chalk up these local cinema-going changes to the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus, who provided the also the name and inspiration of the key distribution company Janus Films that created a canon of masterpieces every serious movie-lover simply couldn't miss.

San Francisco is losing the cherished and wonderfully alternative Rec Vic theater in the Haight. No more calendars with an eclectic program, stretching from an old Muppets flick to the Wim Wenders' classic "Wings of Desire", featuring the recently-deceased Peter Falk playing himself in a fable about angels in Berlin.

This sad news was reported at in late May, and since the news broke, the collective that runs the mini-cinema have not announced a reprieve in the offing on their site:

The Red Vic Movie House will be holding their final screening this summer unless some generous patron of neighborhood theaters steps in to save the venerable Upper Haight institution. KQED reports that recent fundraising attempts and even the strong local film community haven't done enough to keep the theater from going under. As Claudia Lehan, one of operators of the theater, puts it: "We're hoping for a miracle. But it's not looking good... We need George Lucas or Pixar or somebody really big to step in and we haven’t found them yet." ...

(Soon to be gone with the wind. Credit: Stephanie Wright Hession.)

It was great while it lasted, and I'm going to miss the cushioned bench seats, organic concession stand, good movies with a grooving audience and the film aficionados who lovingly kept the theater alive for just over three decades. Hey, all past and current Red Vic workers and patrons, take a bow for a job well done showing films on the smallish screen lo these many years.

While we mark and mourn the pending demise of the Red Vic, let's also herald and celebrate the fabulous announcement this week from the San Francisco Film Society that they are entering into a collaboration with the Viz Cinema.

This up-to-the-minute venue gained a sizable cult following, including this cineaste, for their annual classic Japanese summer programming featuring rarely shown works by venerated such as Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. Where else could you catch the latter's small gem of a drama depicting young female prostitutes surviving hard times, "Sisters of the Gion", and see a newly struck print with improved sound quality?

(Courtesy photo.)
Here's the splendid news for Bay Area movie lovers:

The San Francisco Film Society and New People today announced a historic signing that will enable the Film Society to offer its acclaimed exhibition, education and filmmaker services programs and events on a daily year-round basis for the first time in the organization’s storied 54-year history. Beginning in September, San Francisco Film Society and New People Cinema will open its doors in the supremely stylish state-of-the art 143-seat theater located in the ultra-contemporary New People building at 1746 Post (near Webster) in Japantown. ...

The Viz Cinema will now officially be known as the New People Cinema, which sounds utopian and socialistic, pluses around these parts for attracting a diverse crowd. Check out their summer schedule of works by Ozu, Akira Kurosawa and Shoshei Imamura, and a special screening of the director's cut of the German WWII submarine drama "Das Boot".

The film society for the past number of years has offered occasional one-week engagements in the smallest theater at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema. Films that otherwise would not have been screened in the city - "Carlos", "Silent Light", "Opera Jawa" - enjoyed limited runs at the Kabuki with some of the films moving over to the Roxie for a week or two.

I'm looking forward to the film society expanding such short-runs and expect the programmers will experiment with repertory series, and other yet-to-decided movie pleasures for hardcore cineastes and people with more mainstream tastes.

See you at the movies, and remember, no talking during the feature and step outside the auditorium to use your cell phone or electronic device.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lesbian Blogger Pam Spaulding
Endorses Town Halls for Gay Inc

[Part 2 of an essay about bloggers, GLAAD and Gay Inc. The first part is here.]

With the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation self-destructing in recent weeks, I was concerned with the lack of calls by prominent bloggers for structural changes at the group. After bemoaning the latest woes afflicting GLAAD, many bloggers said a few personnel changes - Jarrett Barrios and Troup Coronado must go - would be enough to solve the problem at the organization.

I reached out to Pam Spaulding, a lesbian blogger in North Carolina, and Karen Ocamb, another lesbian writer based in Los Angeles, asking them a few questions regarding their views on asking GLAAD to get with the transparency and democratic engagement agenda.

Since I had not read much at their sites, Pam's House Blend and LGBT POV, regarding the profound absence of democracy at GLAAD and related matters. Pam took the time to reply, but Karen has not. Here's Pam's comment:

No conspiracy to avoid mentioning town halls or more democratization within the groups at all. I just focused on the problems that inevitably plague groups like this. I have been on the road and not really writing much about it at all; the only reason I posted something is that I was quoted as calling for Jarrett's resignation, though I had not posted anything on my blog (I gave permission to use my quote from an email). 

That said, I think your suggestions about transparency are merited. The problem here is, at best the lack of board engagement on issues that can compromise the integrity of an organization, and two, the laziness of leadership to take communications like this AT&T letter seriously. Being asleep at the wheel is a terrible problem.

Major changes need to be made, particularly regarding boards, if they are there for prestige and access and not there to work as a board, they need to be much more open and accountable to community leaders -- open town halls are a good idea, and not just at GLAAD. The fact is that they cannot represent the LGBT community if they are in a closed bubble.

Her endorsement of town hall meetings is most welcomed, and comes on the heels of a protest staged by grassroots activists this week against the NYC community center and its board for refusing to get with the transparency and accountability agenda, and to open their board sessions to community scrutiny.

I asked Pam some follow up questions pertaining to her talk earlier this year at the Outgiving conference and its lack of openness, the Haas Fund's weekend spring junket in San Francisco co-organized by the head of that was invitation-only, being nominated for a GLAAD award, oh, and how she views her role as a watchdog. She replied:

The reason why I didn't call for more transparency at Gill is because I already had discussed with Bobby Clark to open up the Outgiving web site to include all of the programming at this year's conference, which they have. That, given the reticence of donors to be "exposed' in any form was a big step toward more transparency. That's certainly more than HRC (though that's a low bar). It's a good start re: Gill.

Re: Jarrett, I was clearly one of the few to publicly call for him to step down right away; I have no problem calling people I know out for abdicating their professional duties. What he did was wrong, and it thankfully opened the door to expand the investigation of other orgs and how they handled AT&T. It's not OK that Jarrett take the whole fall for this. I've blogged that this is about institutional rot and laziness; more heads need to roll and board members who are this unengaged need to step aside.

I think I was invited to Haas, but it was an offhand invitation from Bil Browning that didn't disclose any level of exclusivity at the time. I couldn't attend (I was recovering from surgery) and didn't even  remember anything about the invite until it became an issue down the road.

The GLAAD awards, as I explained to you, was something I didn't even request to participate in. They came to me as the deadline ended and I never filled out anything; they did it. Like any other award, I didn't give it much credence (awards are all relative anyway). The fact that GLAAD wasn't even willing to feed any nominee that would have traveled to NY to receive it was laughable. I doubt any of the stars they fete had to go find a sandwich. Joe will have to answer as to why he still has the award. But really, it's his choice whether returning it is any more meaningful as a protest. I haven't checked JMG to see his reaction to the whole flap.

In any case, my influence is only as good as my ability to give the time to writing, and between Righthaven and figuring out what to do, if anything about PHB (now moving to FireDogLake) and the demands of my day job, I certainly cannot carry the weight of the watchdog movement on my shoulders at this time.

She has a valid point about watchdogging. It's going to take dozens of bloggers and reporters, along with hundreds of activists and ordinary gays, demanding genuine democratic engagement with and beyond town hall forums from GLAAD and Gay Inc.

What about you adding your voice and talents to the chorus of the NYC gays pushing the community center to become transparent, Pam endorsing town halls for GLAAD and myself pressing Equality California to hold regular public meetings?

Let's not allow this crisis at GLAAD to be wasted on minor, cosmetic or a few personnel and board resignations. We need radical and fundamental changes, or GLAAD and Gay Inc will weather this storm and slink bank to business as usual and that will have a tremendous negative impact.

Open. Meetings. Now.
Gay Bloggers & Reporters Enabled
GLAAD's Dysfunction & Corruption

Even though a blogger based in DC helped launch the recent exposure of the tremendous incompetence and commercialization of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, it's my view that some gay bloggers and reporters have contributed to the lack of transparency and accountability at GLAAD.

For too many years, big bloggers such as Jeremy Hooper have studiously avoided even writing about the myriad problems at GLAAD, never mind calling for democratic engagement with the group. Jeremy wrote this week about the group's meltdown:

Around here, we try to avoid in-movement dramas as best we can. But honestly: This GLAAD thing has gotten so out of hand and potentially damaging to our movement, that it simply cannot be ignored anymore. ... This site takes no joy in covering this in-movement stuff. In fact, it makes me angry that I even have to write about this. ... Decisions not only for the GLAAD board rooms and executive offices, but rather for all of us who make up and foster the equality movement. The ones who own *all* of these organizations.

What he calls drama, I label decades of Gay Inc board isolation and alienation from the grassroots finally hitting the fan. What is damaging to our movement is how many bloggers refused to call GLAAD on the carpet and demand that they hold regular town hall forums. Unfortunately, Jeremy does not go beyond his hand-wringing to push for structural changes.

His distaste for serious accountability demands was strikingly similar to what former Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld wrote in October, regarding her observations of Gay Inc:

I usually refrain from saying much about how the national LGBT groups acquit themselves because I generally find finger-pointing only serves as a counterproductive distraction from the most critical tasks at hand. But quite frankly, watching some of them at the federal level over the past two years has been a lesson in political malpractice that has left me ill and speechless more times than I care to count. [...]

Corruption and political malpractice are allowed to flourish when nice gays denigrate accountability efforts as finger-pointing. 

I think GLAAD leaders count on such relunctance to publicly criticize them or Gay Inc, and it was troubling to see GLAAD create an award for outstanding gay blog. None of the five bloggers nominated, as far as I know, and if I'm wrong about this lemme know and I'll amend, objected to the nominations or questioned how the whole award matter could jeopardize their independence and ability to watchdog the very group potentially giving them an award.

Showing a bit desperation for acknowledgement, Bil Browning of the nominated site gushed like a Hollywood starlet at being a nominee:

We've been honored to be nominated for a 2011 GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Blog category. You can check out the nominees for all the other categories to see a star-studded list of media personalities and properties. ...

Can you imagine other online news sites willing participating in a sham award effort from an advocacy group they should be covering with impartiality? I opined in March about being co-opted by GLAAD and cited the many instances of fawning coverage of the group's red carpet bull shit gala events.

The winner of GLAAD's dubious blogger award, Joe Jervis of the JoeMyGod site, is loathe to say the least critical thing about the group and uses, even after weeks of controversy, the GLAAD logo on his Twitter account and showcases an icon on his blog heralding being the recipient of the award. Ugh.

Over at Queerty, under the old regime, GLAAD regularly came in for much-needed constructive challenging, though I'm not recalling any instance of calls for open meetings. With Queerty now being run by a more GLAAD-friendly crew, the site is not pushing for democratic principles and transparency at the group. Queerty thinks the problem is isolated to just Troup Coronado, an AT&T lobbyist and now-former of the group's board:

Well Coronado just quit GLAAD and good riddance. But what about the other queer boards he’s on? ...

Well, the dearth of democracy at GLAAD and the other queers on staff and the board, and their still-stinking operation is of little concern to Queerty.

Want an example of a traditional print gay reporter and paper failing to serve as GLAAD watchdog? Check out what Ken Williams, editor of a publication in Southern California, said this week:

So far, there has been no official word from GLAAD on the matter. San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, which is a media partner with GLAAD, would like an explanation on this whole sorry mess. For a non-profit watchdog of the media, you would think transparency would be at the top of their list of things to do. ...

Sadly, media partner means SDGLN takes GLAAD material and runs it verbatim. Good luck trying to find a single word of criticism about their media partner at the paper's site.

Indirectly contributing to the overall lack of democracy and transparency are efforts like the invitation-only weekend organizing meeting in May 2009 that produced the Dallas Principles. The intent was to develop a list of inspiring reasons for everyone to get politically active, but a good number of folks instead questioned why the meeting was not open to all and said that such non-transparency was not inspiring because it followed the Gay Inc model of invitation-only elitism.

Among the attendees were Jarrett Barrios, who had not yet become head of GLAAD and Pam Spaulding, the influential lesbian of color based in North Carolina, who blogs at Pam's House Blend. The authors of the principles did not include a thing about democratizing Gay Inc.

Other recent examples of weekend organizing summits closed to public involvement or scrutiny include the launch meeting GETEqual held in Tennessee and the Haas Fund junket in San Francisco for select bloggers chosen by Bil Browning and Matt Foreman. Not a single public forum was held related to the October 2009 National Equality March in DC.

But I digress. Let's get back to GLAAD.  In December 2009, a few months after he was picked to lead the group, I wrote one of my usual skeptical pieces about his selection and the group and their political agenda, along with a post titled, "Who Owns GLAAD?" It didn't touch upon the corporatization of them and was about the gay foundations pouring millions into the GLAAD coffers. Someone has to broach the subject of accountability with them.

There were others who publicly challenged Barrios and GLAAD, including Matthew S. Bajko in his April 2010 Bay Area Reporter article about Barrios refusing to disclose his pay level, and former board co-chair Laurie Perper taking Barrios and GLAAD to task for many transgressions. Nothing would please me more then to say lots of bloggers and reporters picked up on the critical thinking by Bajko and Perper, but the words of Bajko and Perper didn't echo around the gay blogosphere.

GLAAD's dysfunction and incompetence flourished so long and to such a damaging degree, because of its board and executives over the years, and it's highly unlikely the group's devastating problems would have been solved even if large numbers of gay bloggers and reporters had performed consistent watchdogging.

But that lack of watchdogging can change, and at least Pam Spaulding has told me how she embraces calls for town halls and other methods of democratic engagement at Gay Inc. Check out part 2 of this essay for her comments.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Boston Globe: GLAAD 'Shilling for AT&T
... More Than a Whiff of Hackery'

Attention, GLAAD: This beautiful story about your decades of corruption, star-gazing sleaze and pimping of the community to corporations has a fabulous pair of legs. This editorial in Saturday's Boston Globe, in gay Democratic Party pimp Jarrett Barrios's backyard, is just the punch to the gut to this rancid organization that must be dismantled needs.

The GLAAD crisis must be used to open up the slime under the rock to gay sunshine. They must immediately disclose all their corporate sponsorship agreements, begin regular town hall meetings and make the board members available to the press and bloggers.

Much gratitude to the Boston Globe editorial page writers for this fine piece of a call for accountability:

Wireless phone service has about as much to do with gay rights as zebras have to do with waterskiing. So gay bloggers were justified in hounding Jarrett Barrios, who until this past weekend was president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, after he wrote the federal government on behalf of AT&T, a corporation that had donated $50,000 to Barrios’s watchdog group.

Barrios’s fall tarnishes the reputation of the former Massachusetts state senator, a charismatic politician once thought to be destined to hold higher statewide office. But the episode raises deeper questions about GLAAD and its peer organizations. Two other organizations with no official business related to telecommunication ... Clearly, some activist groups have grown a little too fond of their corporate backers, at a cost to their credibility. ... 

Shilling for AT&T makes them seem more like paid lobbyists than clarions of justice; it carries more than a whiff of hackery. ...

Barrios’s decision to step aside was a step in the right direction. But [GLAAD] must do much more to regain the public’s trust, and all nonprofits should take the opportunity to clarify their relationships with corporate sponsors. ...

What a great idea. GLAAD clarifying their relationship with its business world backer. Let's start with immediate release of every contract GLAAD has with any corporate sponsor and the disclosures must be posted on their site.
Who Owns GLAAD?
Rokk Vodka's SF Ex Wraparound Ad

The gay who think the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation need to disabuse themselves of this fallacy. GLAAD is nothing more than a corporatized, foundation-funded dumping ground for gay Democrats and social climbers that dabbles in media advocacy.

As part of my years-long challenge to GLAAD, in December 2009 I wrote a post asking "Who Owns GLAAD?" My central point was that the following gay foundations called a lot of the shots:

The Arcus Foundation
The David Bohnett Foundation
The Gill Foundation
The Michael Palm Foundation
Terry K. Watanabe Charitable Trust
Ric Weiland

I'm surprised I omitted any talk about the corporate masters of GLAAD and their perversion of the group's agenda, so I'm making up for that omission today.

The Friday edition of the San Francisco Examiner tabloid newspaper featured a double-faced wraparound ad covering the front and back pages, promoting Rokk Vodka and GLAAD. For your info, this liquor product is owned by the giant Diageo alcohol and beverage company.

Recall the billboard in the Castro recently, because there's a now print version to offend self-respecting queers. Pimping out the community to Diageo is not liberation. Transparency and town hall meetings are not only liberating for queers, but vital to our survival as something more than a market to be sold to the highest bidder.

Filtering out inequality? No. Filtering out democracy is what GLAAD is doing.

This screen grab is from Rokk Vodka's site, cross-promotion to the gay community with the blessing of rabid pimp Jarrett Barrios, and his nearly quarter-million salary:

This question is in need of addressing at a GLAAD community forum: What is the total amount of funding you have received from Diageo for their sponsorship, what is their projected level of future grants and when will you web-publish the agreement you have with the drinking conglomerate?

Okay, more questions for GLAAD. How about disclosing figures for how much you've taken from AT&T, what's in the pipeline from them and the contract spelling out details of your sponsorship arrangement? While you're at, make such info for _all_ GLAAD corporate sponsorships open for public inspection on the web. Amplify your documents before us. Let's enough the darkness and non-disclosure at GLAAD today.

Here's the cover section of today's wraparound ad:

And this is the inside of it:

GLAAD is a business poorly masquerading as an advocacy organization. Democratic engagement with the grassroots community equals full disclosure of GLAAD's contracts with every corporate sponsor they're pimping us to. I want liberation from Gay Inc and their commodification of gaydom.
NYC Gays Demand Open
Board Meetings at Community Center

(Protesters outside the NYC gay center's fundraiser on June 20. Courtesy photo.)

It's quite rare to find other gays calling for genuine, regular democratic engagement from our alleged community organizations, the executives paid robust salaries to run them and the boards that oversee the operations and staff.

I'm pleased to report on a new coalition of diverse activists in New York City who have formed the Queers for an Open LGBT Center, which grew out of the controversy back in the spring about gay groups concerned with Israeli and Palestinian matters meeting the community center on W. 13th Street in the Village.

Last week QFOLC issued a release recruiting activists to come picket at the center's annual Garden Party fundraiser to demand the following:

• Lift the Ban Against Siege Busters & Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
• Open Board Meetings
• Free Speech at the Center

What a radical notion. Demanding open meetings with leaders of, ahem, the community center in NYC. The center's board, like practically every other board in the Gay Inc orbit does not allow for community to observe their proceedings and forget offering comments to the board members.

Several members of QFOLC have told me they cite the example of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center making all of its board meetings open to the public, in arguing for a similar policy in NYC.

Here's a report from QFLOC about the June 20 picket:

About 45 people turned up to protest the LGBT Center's censorship and general bad behavior yesterday, delivering 600 flyers to partygoers and a strong message to the Center: "you can't avoid controversy by slamming the door on the queer community!"

The shameful lack of democratic engagement by the NYC center and too many Gay Inc groups is so obvious I'm surprised billionaire financier and promoter of democracy in former Communist countries and other repressive nations George Soros has not started an LGBT democracy project.

The question of when was the last (or first) time HRC, GLAAD, NGLTF, Lambda Legal, Freedom to Marry, or the Victory Fund, or the foundations that endow Gay Inc organizations with money - the Gill, Haas, Arcus, van Ameringen, Michael Palm, David Bohnett, et al - held an open community meeting should be asked over and over until they fully commit to democratic engagement and full transparency.

Many thanks to the QFOLC folks for being public with their demands for democracy and open board meetings at the NYC center. We need more folks pressing all Gay Inc group to adopt transparent principles.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

3 SF Groups Got AT&T Grants,
Did Not Endorse Merger

Many in the gay movement are questioning these days how our community groups are partnering with AT&T, in light of the crisis at GLAAD that has shed light on the group shilling for the phone giant at the Federal Communications Commission.

Other organizations that have received grants from AT&T and sent letters to either the FCC or the California Public Utilities Commission include the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Equality California and the SF LGBT Community Center. My coverage of the center's letter is here. NGLTF and EQCA have retracted their letters supporting AT&T's proposals.

Yesterday, I sent informal surveys to three San Francisco-based groups whose web sites showed they had partnered with AT&T and received financial backing from them. The groups surveyed were the gay film festival Frameline, the Horizons Foundation philanthropic umbrella and the National Center for Lesbian Rights advocacy nonprofit.

First of all, let me say a big thank you to all of the groups, and the community center too, for responding so quickly to my requests for info - and during Pride Week, no less. Second, I want to name those who provided me with answers, starting with Rebecca Rolfe who is executive director at the center, Frameline's executive director K.C. Price, the Horizons Foundation's development director Deb Stallings, and Erik Olvera who works in the communications department at NCLR.

Here are the questions and the replies:

How much money did you receive from AT&T this year or in total?

Frameline: I don't have this info at my fingertips since I'm at the Festival right now. Approximately, $55,000 this year.

Horizons: Since 2006, AT&T has contributed a total of $110,000 to Horizons in unrestricted operating support.

NCLR: AT&T has pledged $26,000 since 2008. We have received $1,000 of that total pledge.

Have you sent a letter to any regulatory agency about the merger?

Frameline: No, Frameline has not.

Horizons: No.

NCLR: NCLR has not sent any letters regarding the AT&T merger.

Do you have a position on net neutrality?

Frameline: No, we're an arts and culture organization and don't take such positions.

Horizons: No.

NCLR: We have not discussed internally any position on net neutrality, and thus have not taken a public position.

Do you have any board members who work for AT&T?

Frameline: [The board president, Randy Quebec, works for the company but since the group didn't send a letter on AT&T's behalf it's moot to ask if he played a role. -michael]

Horizons: No.

We don’t have any board members who are employed by AT&T.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Did GLAT&T's Barrios Push Merger
at His White House Meetings in February?

The White House visitor records are a step in the right direction for transparency, but two aspects seriously undermine the info and its usefulness. Point one, the layout of the records involves quite a bit of left-right/up-down scrolling because of the horrible horizontal presentation of data that is user un-friendly. Second point, the info is thin gruel or missing.

Two visits earlier this year by Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD's outgoing executive director and AT&T lapdog, highlight both points.

The records show that Barrios had two meetings with out White House assistant for public engagement Brian Bond on February 2 and 4, and they were the only persons in attendance, for unknown period of time.

For the February 2 meeting, the description is left blank, while the February 4 session is defined simply as a "meeting".

As with so much in terms of the dearth of democratic and respectful public engagement from Barrios and Bond, neither informed the at-large gay community about what was discussed. Why should we worry our pretty little heads over what they strategized about? They would never cook up plans or letters to regulatory agencies that would do harm to gay Americans, right? Every reason in the universe to trust these knights of the Gay Inc leadership round-table.

Bond, who before he hooked up with Barack Obama's 2008 campaign was the head of the Victory Fund, an affiliate of the Democratic Party whose purpose is to elect gays to political office.

Recall that in 2000 with Bond at the helm, the fund endorsed Barrios in his bid for a Massachusetts state house race. In May last year they appeared together on a panel in Philadelphia discussing the Obama administration's gay appointments and related concerns. To my queer eye, I see two bosom buddies there to support each other. Fine for them.

But what about the rest of us who want to know what the heck it is that our public gay leaders discuss behind closed doors, both at the White House and elsewhere, ostensibly on the behalf of the LGBT community? When do we get a clue about what Bond and Barrios were collaborating on in February? Was the AT&T proposed merger with T-Mobile on the agenda? I'm more likely to get answers from a crystal ball than Bond or Barrios.

The best solution to the corruption of Gay Inc and the stench of rancid gay Democratic Party stewardship of our community organizations is transparency that strictly adheres to regular town hall meetings, board of directors opening their sessions and decisions to scrutiny, monthly reporting back to the community about their closed-door and letter-writing activities with government agencies and other methods of democratic engagement with ordinary gays.

Anything less is not just accepting the status quo, but is really a step backward. Let's not waste this meltdown and crisis at GLAAD that reaches far beyond just one group and permit business as usual at Gay Inc. Be smart and reject calls just for certain board members at GLAAD to hit the road. Troup Coronado leaving the board will solve very little structural problems.

Open. Meetings. Now.
BAR: Text of SF LGBT Center Letter
Endorsing AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

Kudos to Matthew Bajko of the Bay Area Reporter, who unbeknownst to me was in touch with the local LGBT community center's leader about her letter on behalf of the phone giant AT&T and their pending merger with T-Mobile. Matthew has a story up at the BAR site that includes the full text of the center's letter to the CPUC last month. The whole piece is well worth a read:

[Gay center director Rebecca] Rolfe told the B.A.R. this week that the center has no plans to send a similar letter to the FCC nor has it taken a stance on the issue of net neutrality, which argues for no restrictions on people’s access to the Internet. Some Internet service providers, such as AT&T, have been fighting against net neutrality provisions that would restrict their ability to charge customers various usage fees for Internet access.

“We were not asked to submit one to the FCC,” wrote Rolfe in an emailed response.

In an exchange with local blogger and gay activist Michael Petrelis about the center’s CPUC letter, Rolfe noted that Albert did not request the board to submit the letter. She also stated that he didn’t take part in the board’s discussions about whether it should back the AT&T merger.

Petrelis told the B.A.R. he believes the center owes the community an explanation of how backing the merger ties into its mission statement.

“People have decided that a phone merger is a vital gay issue,” said Petrelis, who has been blogging about AT&T’s ties to various LGBT nonprofits. He referred to the company as an “octopus” in a phone interview with the B.A.R. for its multiple affiliations with LGBT groups coast-to-coast.

Here is the full text of the LGBT Community Center’s letter:

May 25, 2011

Michael R. Peevey President, California Public Utilities Commission 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear President Peevey,

AT&T has been a long standing ally and champion for the LGBT community and a close partner to the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Community Center (the Center) in our work to serve the needs of the LGBT community. I am pleased to submit this letter supporting their efforts to merge with T-Mobile.

The Center’s mission is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other in order to create a stronger, healthier and more equitable world for the LGBT people and our allies. We offer a range of resources to support the health and economic well being for the LGBT community, including help in finding jobs; starting businesses; building financial stability for individuals and families; getting connected to vital medical, legal, and social service resources; and programs to meet the needs of children, families, and seniors.

The ability to connect people with resources and opportunities – electronically as well as physically — is critical to our mission, and AT&T has been a strong partner in these efforts. From our very beginning, they supported our capital campaign, which resulted in the construction of our 35,000 square foot building, housing all of our programs and services. Most recently, they provided significant support to increase access to technology for our community, with an emphasis on access for low to moderate income individuals and community members who do not have access to technology. This support allows us to upgrade our CyberCenter which provides free access to computers and the internet, and through which we provide computer classes for seniors, youth and job seekers. AT&T’s support is also allowing us to create a new website which will provide community access to critical safety net resources, opportunities for volunteerism and civic engagement, a community wide calendar of events, and direct linkage to hundreds of resources supporting healthy and thriving individuals, families and communities.

Beyond their financial support, AT&T has been a strong community partner, encouraging their employees to volunteer and participate in community events. Over the past 10 years we have had a number of highly skilled employees volunteer with the Center, in activities ranging from serving on our board of directors to staffing our information and referral desk.

In addition, AT&T is a champion for LGBT rights in the workplace. The company received the “Corporate Leader Award” from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. This recognition showcases AT&T’s pioneering policies, including protection against discrimination, legal support, family and medical leave, employee benefits for same sex couples, and an all-around culture that promotes openness and trust.

We urge the CPUC to support this merger. We thank you for your consideration.

Rebecca Rolfe
Executive Director
San Francisco LGBT Community Center
SF Gay Center Endorses
AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

The gay agenda: Marriage, military and mergers. Well, for some, but not for me. Who knew phone company mergers were a crucial gay issue?

Due to the meltdown at GLAAD over its support for AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile, and the role GLAAD board member and former AT&T lobbyist Troup Coronado played in the controversy, we've seen the influence peddling problems extend to NGLTF, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Equality California.

Today the narrative shifts a bit to the local level. Since AT&T is prominently mentioned as a sponsor of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center on their site, and the secretary of the center's board is an employee of AT&T, Michael Albert, I asked executive director Rebecca Rolfe a few questions.

My concerns included learning how much money AT&T had donated, the role of the AT&T employee on the board and if the center had written any letters related to the proposed merger. Turns out the center received a robust $100,000 grant, the center sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission endorsing the mergers, and the AT&T employee played no role in the communication with the commission, according to Rebecca, bolding mine:

AT&T has a long history of support of the LGBT community and the SF LGBT Community Center, starting with a gift to our capital campaign. Their support currently consists of a $100,000 grant to increase technology access to the LGBT community, made in the fall of 2010. ...

Michael Albert is currently a board member, and serves as our board secretary. As such, his responsibilities include taking minutes, documenting board decisions, and ensuring timely filing of legal and reporting documents. Outside of his board role, Michael is an Area Manager at AT&T, where his job responsibilities include leading a team of service executives who manage the service relationships between AT&T and their largest customers. ...

The only policy issue related to AT&T that the Center has engaged in is a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission supporting their proposed merger with T-Mobile, based on our long term partnership with AT&T and our experience of their dedication to supporting the LGBT community. Michael Albert did not request that we submit a letter, nor did he participate in any discussions about whether to submit a letter on behalf of AT&T.

[W]e exceed compliance with all public disclosure requirements, including public access to organizational documents (via public access binder and posting information on our website) and a long standing policy that all board meetings are open to the public. While we did recently update the web site to provide more explicit information that all board meetings are open to the public (based on your suggestion), we have long publicized board meetings on our calendar, on our website, and on public information sites such as the library and city hall and continue to stand by our policy of open board meetings.

Great to see Rebecca disclosing all this info and reminding me that the center's board meetings are open to community members. The next meeting is Monday, July 18 at 7 pm, and I will be there.

More gays need to press GLAAD and all Gay Inc groups to make their board meetings transparent, while also demanding regular town hall meetings open to all. A big reason why corruption flourishes within Gay Inc, and growing numbers of average gays are alienated from it is because of the lack of democratic engagement. That must change, pronto.

I've asked Rebecca for copy of her letter to the CPUC and hope to receive it before the week is over. At the same time, I've had a long conversation with a spokesperson for CPUC about the center's letter and letters from any other California gay groups weighing in on the pending AT&T merger with T-Mobile. Will let you know what I hear back from CPUC.

We need to insist Gay Inc regularly inform us of their communications with regulatory agencies, government agencies or political operations at the federal, state and local levels, and what they are saying on our behalf. It's my strong gut feeling that Gay Inc folks are not just writing to the FCC and CPUC about AT&T/T-Mobile.

Who else are they communicating with, on which issues and when will Gay Inc get around to informing us, say, on a monthly basis, about their lobbying on issues of importance to their corporate sponsors?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

EQCA's Palencia = GLAAD's Barrios;
Pay Stays Flat as he Changes Jobs

If there is one thing you can count on from Gay Inc when they play executive musical chairs, it is that the salary of the incoming honcho will be omitted from the press release issued by the agency hiring him or her. And if one of the handful gay reporters or bloggers who ask rude questions about salaries try to find out the new ED's compensation, they would not get the info.

One of the warning signs many missed about Jarrett Barrios was the "GLAAD prez refuses to disclose salary" piece by Matthew Bajko in the Bay Area Reporter in an April 2010 story. Nine months after becoming ED of the communications group, the leader wouldn't communicate about his compensation:

During his first interview with the Bay Area Reporter since being hired, Barrios last week declined to disclose the actual amount of his compensation.

Look at where he is now. In hiding, not speaking with the traditional and online gay press, avoiding the corporate media, refusing emails requests for comment, and on his way out the door. And GLAAD, whose board includes Troup Coronado who is the AT&T lobbyist at the center of the group's meltdown, is suffering numerous crises.

Let's dig in and examine how Equality California's new ED, Roland Palencia, handled the salary question when raised by Seth Hemmelgarn in the B.A.R. and resembles Barrios' executive style. BTW, Coronado is also on the EQCA board:

Palencia, 53, declined to state his salary, but Vaishalee Raja, an EQCA spokeswoman, disclosed that it's $170,000. 

The commonalities are striking. Both Barrios and Palencia are Latino gay men, they won't answer simple questions about pay, their respective organizations are quite irrelevant, more beholden to the Democrats and corporations than ordinary gays, and AT&T well has its hooks in both groups, with Coronado serving on both GLAAD and EQCA boards, while each agency has not been upfront about their views on  the AT&T merger with T-Mobile.

Speaking of Palencia's salary, I filed a public records request with his former employer, LA Care Health Plan, for his compensation info for the past three years. In 2009 his package was $148,859 and jumped in 2010 up to $174,908. For all intents and purposes, his pay level remained flat changing jobs. Oh, how gay leaders are hurting in this economy.

The crisis hitting GLAAD is showing us, so beautifully too, how incestuous Gay Inc boards are, why they lobby regulatory agencies on issues many never knew were gay issues, and the meltdown has many links to EQCA. Lots more accountability getting produced right now.

Call me realistic as I predict Palencia closely follows Barrios' executive leadership agenda - no town halls, fear of directly hearing average gays, looks sharp in a tux, carries the water of corporations first and LGBT people second - and further drives EQCA into the ground.
Rabid Anti-Gay Dungy Wrote
Foreword for GLAAD Chair's Book

I don't follow sports and today was informed that a rabid anti-gay advocate by the name of Tony Dungy, a former National Football League coach, penned the foreword for GLAAD co-chair Roxanne Jones' 2010 book on black athletes "Say It Loud". It was published by Jones' employer EPSN's book division.

As reported previously, Jones is as straight person.

Before joining forces with Jones, Dungy was roundly criticized by gay advocates in 2007 when he was the honored speaker at a fundraiser for the Indiana Family Institute  organization, which is affiliated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family and opposes liberation and fairness for gay people.

According to the Associated Press, at the 2007 IFI dinner Dungy endorsed the group's agenda:

The coach told the audience he supported the group’s efforts to amend the Indiana constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

“I appreciate the stance they’re taking, and I embrace that stance,” Dungy told the crowd of about 700 people. Dungy said his comments should not be considered gay bashing. ...

In 2009 he was selected to serve on President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and GLAAD condemned the White House nominating him to the council:

It’s unclear exactly what role Dungy will play in the advisory council. However, [GLAAD has] serious concerns that he can work objectively and effectively with LGBT nonprofits and LGBT community organizations. Will he shoot down or undermine worthy plans submitted by LGBT groups simply because they are LGBT?

This is an area where the media (traditional and bloggers) needs to dig in and consistently report on to ensure all communities are served for the better. ...

Dungy eventually didn't serve on the council due to scheduling conflicts. Don't you just love how GLAAD directs others to dig in and make sure the gay community is well-served in matters related to Dungy and the council?

Let's dig in and ask some questions. Why does the co-chair of GLAAD, after years of anti-gay controversies with Dungy, work with him on her book and use an essay of his as the foreword? Why did GLAAD stay silent on Jones collaborating with the homophobe, when it had plenty to say at the time his name was floated to serve on a White House panel?

More questions. Does GLAAD have different standards about when to publicly criticize an entity from working with him, one for the White House and another for a co-chair?

If there is a shred of integrity among the board members or executives at GLAAD, I'm not aware of it. With straight allies like Jones giving cover to and willfully ignoring a homophobes obnoxious bias against us, with don't need adversaries.

Let's put GLAAD out of business and halt the damage it does to the LGBT community.

(Screen grab of the opening page of the foreword. Hat tip: NG.)
GLAAD Co-Chair is Straight

(Russell Simmons, GLAAD's Roxanne Jones, Al Sharpton and GLAAD's Scott E. Miller attend the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards presented by ROKK Vodka on March 19, 2011 in New York City. Credit: Larry Busacca, Getty Images.)

Do you recall my post in September about many problems at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, including the fact that a board co-chair was a straight woman and GLAAD omitted that info from a number of releases? Exactly a year ago, Roxanne Jones of EPSN Publishing was elected co-chair of the group, and nothing was mentioned about her heterosexuality in the GLAAD announcement.

Given the recent hoaxes of phony lesbians at the Gay Girl in Damascus and LezGetReal sites, and the ensuing community-wide discussion about straight allies speaking either as lesbians or on behalf of them, I would think there would be some attention paid to the straight woman who is GLAAD's co-chair.

But Jones' straight identity is not referenced in any of the news accounts in the past few days about the resignation of GLAAD's abysmally incompetent leader Jarrett Barrios and the controversy surrounding their view on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

Not in the Boston Globe:

Roxanne Jones, cochairwoman of the board of directors, confirmed in a statement that Barrios had resigned and said the board would discuss the matter tomorrow.

Same goes for a DC gay publication:

Beyond that, however, Roxanne Jones was unable to provide Metro Weekly with many specifics in a discussion about recent happenings at the media watchdog organization over recent weeks.

Also silent her straight status is the Boston Herald:

GLAAD co-chair Roxanne Jones said the board received Barrios’ resignation letter and discussed it on a conference call Sunday night.

Nothing from

Roxanne Jones, co-chair of  GLAAD’s board of directors, emailed us this statement ...

One online source confirming Jones' non-gay identity comes from GLAAD's page on her, bolding mine:

And she was also elected co-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) becoming the first straight ally to head a national LGBT organization.

Very odd, even by GLAAD's low and dubious standards, that this straight ally distinction was omitted from their announcement about her election as co-chair.

As far as I can tell, Jones is the only voice and face right now for GLAAD before the media and gay community. Yep, a straight woman is speaking for this gay group and by extension the LGBT community.

Here's a radical idea. Each time a gay blogger or reporter, or someone in the mainstream press writes about GLAAD or quotes Jones, it is clearly stated that she is a heterosexual and that the group's co-chair is not a lesbian.

Monday, June 20, 2011

LezGetReal Owned by 'Bridgette LaVictoire',
Not Male Hoaxer 'Paula Brooks'

("Bridgette LaVictoire" in a courtesy photo.)

Let's recap the sordid tale that leads to the LezGetReal web site and the hoaxers behind it. More than a week ago, suspicions were raised about the existence of Amina Arraf and her blog A Gay Girl in Damascus, which we have learned was actually a fictional character and phony site created by a straight married Anglo-American male named Tom MacMaster.

Many of MacMaster's flawlessly written posts as Amina were heavily promoted at the LezGetReal site, until the Washington Post unmasked that site's alleged creator, top editor and controlling agent Paula Brooks as another married heterosexual male. Paula was really Bill Graber, a supposed ex-military vet and construction worker in Ohio.

Paula's closest LezGetReal associates were two dubious characters, Linda S. Carbonell, who claims to be a 60-plus straight woman, and Bridgette P. LaVictoire, who says she was born male and is in the process of transitioning to being a woman and identifies as a lesbian who's never had sex with another woman.

As the criticism and demands for transparency fell around them, Linda and Bridgette cast themselves as victims and dupes of Paula, and started telling tales about how Paula was always in charge of LezGetReal:

Bill Garber has turned over the site to Bridgette LaVictoire, with me as her assistant. We are still trying to sort out the mess in here, and that is being complicated by the fact that the site has received so much traffic in the past 36 hours that we are crashing every five minutes. We are trying to find a computer programmer we can afford.

More spinning here:

[T]hey have agreed to step in as the managers of Lez Get Real, all while trying to grapple with their own conceptions of what was and was not real.

And also here:

He was already in the process of turning over the site to others and withdrawing the Paula Brooks character from the internet. The exposure of Tom MacMasters cost us the opportunity to let “Paula” retire quietly.

Still more here:

The [Paula Brooks] persona is most famous for her work on Lez Get Real, which she founded in September 2008 with fellow writer and gay rights activist Julie Phineas. ... Yesterday, Graber ... also announced that he would step down from the website and allow two successors - Bridgette LaVictoire and Linda Carbonell - take the reins of Lez Get Real.

I believe all those claims about Paula being the big boss of the site are false, because a search of the internet records for the blog conducted last week at located this info, bolding mine:

The Registry database contains ONLY .COM, .NET, .EDU domains and Registrars.


The data contained in, Inc.'s WhoIs database, while believed by the company to be reliable, is provided "as is" with no guarantee or warranties regarding its accuracy. This
information is provided for the sole purpose of assisting you in obtaining information about domain name registration records. ...

Bridgette LaVictoire

[Redacted] Street
Rutland, Vermont 05701
United States

Registered through:, Inc. (
Created on: 29-Sep-08
Expires on: 29-Sep-11
Last Updated on: 15-Sep-10

Administrative Contact:
LaVictoire, Bridgette bridgettemacbride (at)
[Redacted]  Street
Rutland, Vermont 05701
United States
+1.802 [Redacted] Fax --

Technical Contact:
LaVictoire, Bridgette bridgettemacbride (at)
[Redacted] Street
Rutland, Vermont 05701
United States
+1.802 [Redacted] Fax --

Bridgette was sent the evidence three times, and I requested a comment from her about how the registrant data contradicted what she and her alleged mother have been saying in the past ten days. The normally long-winded Bridgette remained mum and didn't respond.

There is still many credibility matters about the LezGetReal mess, and the Bridgette and Linda personae, for me to grant them much credence about any damn thing they claim about their site, who started and managed it, and every bit of information they've offered about their lives.

Finally, the general contact info for the phony lesbian site is still listed as hoaxer behind LezGetReal have a lot more accountability to deliver.