Friday, March 30, 2012

8 Emails &
Wiener's Anti-Homeless Law for Milk Plaza

(Jane Warner Plaza at dusk.)

Thanks to several public records requests I've made to the Castro Benefit District, a well-funded civic group covered by Sunshine statutes, I've learned that only eight emails to the CBD directed to Supervisor Scott Wiener last spring played a key role in two anti-homeless debates in the Castro recently. Three of the eight messages were from the same person, one Nelson Murcar.

The first debate was at the CBD in May when eight emails addressed to Wiener were copied to the CBD, complaining about homeless folks using the benches at Harvey Milk Plaza all hours of the day and night, and for some unsavory behavior. Large benches were installed by the CBD and the May debate considered removing them, but they were retained and instead both police and private security surveillance of the plaza were enhanced to crackdown on abusive persons.

A second debate flared earlier this year, as Wiener's legislation to enact additional nuisance restrictions on Harvey Milk and Jane Warner Plazas at the intersection of Castro and Market Street churned through the legislative process. Homeless persons and their advocates knocked back provisions targeting this population.

Reading internal CBD emails and minutes from their public meetings, it's evident a few Castro residents pushed for and got the debates, captured Wiener's attention and gave him cover to introduce another nanny-ish law, that passed the full Board of Supervisors and doesn't seem to have made any noticeable difference at either plaza.

I've posted the full batch of emails here, which were documents shared with the CBD's paid secretary Richard Magary from May 2011. Here are two of the Nelson Murcar emails that got the plaza debates rolling:

SF Police to 
Crackdown on Drivers and Bicyclists

(SF police officers speaking with Randolph Ang on July 15, after he ran a red light and knocked over a pedestrian who died a few weeks after the collision. Credit: Joshua Elinson, Bay Citizen.)

After reading the vague joint statement from the San Francisco Police Department and Walk SF, a pedestrian safety organization reluctant to criticize dangerous bicyclists, regarding targeted enforcement of traffic laws after a pedestrian was struck and seriously injured by motor vehicle, I had no idea if the enforcement would include bikers.

Walk SF omits bike, bicyclist and biker from the joint statement, which according to Sgt. Daryl Fong of the police media office was the sole responsibility of Walk SF, and I contacted their executive director Elizabeth Stampe for clarification. Was she urging a crackdown on bad bikers?

An automated reply said she's out of town until April 4, and I hope to hear from her upon her return.

My next contact was with Sgt. Fong. I requested that he check with colleagues to determine if bicyclists are included in this crackdown. Here's his reply, with bolding  and underlining added:

In response to your inquiry regarding the joint statement issued by Walk SF in conjunction with the Police Department, the Department will be conducting Citywide enforcement activities in an effort to improve pedestrian safety. These enforcement activities will be carried out in neighborhoods by the District Stations as well as by the Traffic Company citywide. The enforcement will be focused on locations identified statistically as being the highest injury corridors and intersections. The enforcement will focus on the behaviors of motorists including bicyclists deemed as most dangerous: speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, and running red lights or stop signs.

The question must be asked why Walk SF failed to mention the comprehensive approach of the enforcement. Walk SF's joint statement, which is not posted to the police department's site, gives the false impression that only motor vehicle drivers are targeted and ought to be immediately amended to reflect the reality of the enforcement.

I believe there is much work to be done among all folks who use the public streets and sidewalks, to keep us all safe. And I'm a slow-biker who contends with cars and buses, other bikers and spacey pedestrians who feels a big matter in need of addressing is the unsafe riding behavior of many bikers.

Just yesterday, a pedestrian was hit at Castro and Market Streets by a bicyclist who may have run a red light and both were sent to the hospital for medical attention, according to a Bay City News story carried by the SF Appeal.

One more reason for Walk SF to not limit its safety and police enforcement perspectives only to automobiles and public transit vehicles.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SF Board of Supes:
Lower UN, US Flags for Day Against Homophobia

There's the most fantastic news to share today from San Francisco, where the United Nations was chartered, that just came to the Gays Without Borders groups from Latino gay Supervisor David Campos's office.

The Board of Supervisors yesterday unanimously passed the resolution he introduced last week on our behalf to direct the city to recognize May 17 as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, as to lower the UN and American flags for 24-hours at UN Plaza.

Thanks to Gays Without Borders, which has staged four previous IDAHO actions, and our united Supervisors speaking with one, clear, loud voice from City Hall, this is the first year when San Francisco is officially endorsing, promoting and participating in IDAHO. 

Major gratitude to the eleven Supervisors for this fabulous development and may our city now join every IDAHO in the coming years!

Here's a snippet of the vid of the March 27 meeting. The IDAHO discussion and vote starts at the 00:50 mark and runs until the 03:06 mark:

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Many big thanks to Campos for taking the leadership role on the resolution and to all of the Supervisors for voting in favor directing the Department of Public Works to lower the iconic UN and American flags for a solid day to send a visual message of solidarity to the many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals who daily contend with threats of violence and murder.

Gays Without Borders is very pleased with the Supervisors showing international solidarity with LGBTI people and we look forward to continued coordination on the flag lowerings in May.

The Supervisors not only have an clip-and-paste edit function for the vids of their meetings, but they also provide the caption notes to the public. These are the very rough phonetic notes of Campos making his speech for IDAHO and UN Plaza flags flying at half staff on May 17. I've made minor cuts:

President Chiu:  Item 13.  oaking withizing a day against homophobor and transphobia and calling on officials to lower the united

nations flags in united nations

plaza for a 24-hour period on May 17, 2012. Supervisor campos?

Supervisor campos: thank you. I wanted to make a couple points on this item.

This a resolution that

recognizes international day of homophobia and transphobia. It's important to simply note

that often here in supervise we take many things for granted.

The reality is in most parts of

the world, lgbt people are

still suffering not only discrimination but in some of these countries you're talking about violence and at times even death and I think it's

important for those of us who

live in places like san francisco where we don't have

to deal with those -- with such a horrible situation that we acknowledge the suffering that other people have and that's

what this resolution is about.

i think it's important for us to recognize that and I know that other countries like

spain, belgium, mexico, costa rica have recognized this day

and we are calling upon the city officials and specifically the director of the department of public works to lower both

the american flag and the U.N. Plaza flag on May 17 and I want to thank the co-sponsors of this resolution.

Supervisor olague, supervisor kim, and President Chiu.

Thank you very much.

President Chiu: thank you, supervisor. Unless there's any further discussion, colleagues, can we take this item, same call?  Mr. President, it's not the

same house, we have supervisor olague back.

President Chiu: roll call vote. item 13, vfsor kim?; aye.  supervisor mar? ; aye. Respect sprfors olague?; aye.  supervisor wiener?; aye.  supervisor avalos?; aye.  supervisor campos?; aye.  President Chiu?; aye. supervisor chu? Aye. supervisor cohen?; aye.  supervisor elsbernd?; aye.  supervisor farrell?; aye.  there are 11 ayes.

President Chiu: the resolution is adopted.
Anti-Eviction Forum:
March 31 @ 1PM in the Mission

This is the kind of alert I approve of because it's to-the-point and gives the important details on where, when, who, why, what in the opening paragraph.

Only two bits of info need to be added. The closest cross street is 16th Street and two Muni bus lines, the 22 and 33 routes, get you near the meeting location.

There are many worthwhile organizations and good activists behind this meeting, and sure hope I can attend and participate. Here's the info:

Occupy SF Housing, a coalition of Occupy SF, SF Tenants Union, Causa Justa::Just Cause, Housing Rights Committee, Eviction Defense Collaborative, Occupy Bernal, AACCE (and more) is holding a Community Meeting this Saturday, March 31 from 1-3 PM at 1590 Bryant St. (Grotto Room of Sports Basement) to discuss and strategize how to stop evictions and foreclosures in the Mission District.

Neighborhood organizing, such as Occupy Bernal, aimed at bringing together residents as foreclosure & eviction fighters and defenders—has been a success story of the Occupy movement and has demonstrated that neighbors can unite and fight the big banks.

From the March 31 meeting we hope to develop a self-sustaining group of neighborhood residents working on an ongoing basis to fight evictions and foreclosures by big banks.

At the meeting we want to hear from foreclosure and eviction fighters who successfully saved their homes by pressuring banks and landlords with the help of their neighbors.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sisters' Hunky Jesus Flesh Fest;
Proudly Ruining it for Everyone

Oh, God, they're at it again. Those lovably wacky, political charitable do-gooders known as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are celebrating their 33rd year of ruining it for the rest of us gays on Easter Sunday, which falls on April 8th.

There's another Hunky Jesus contest on the lineup of the party the Sisters are staging in Dolores Park, if the weather permits and if not, go here to find the alternate indoor location. Rain or shine, the celebration will go on, as will the usual boring controversy from upset Christians who don't know how to take a joke.

With all the fusses lately over Catholic religious leaders wanting to impose their beliefs on public health matters for women and attempts to deny LGBT people civil rights, what better way to expunge some of the centuries of oppression and stigma than through humor and bawdiness on public property?

We should all remember to tickle our funny bones with the Sisters for Easter whether you live in San Francisco or not. Don't forget about all the good community-based work the Sisters perform year-round, and thank the Lord for them and their activism. Let's honor their "Ruining for Everyone" spirit and sistory and share some laughs on April 8th.

If the coverage around the web from previous Hunky Jesus contests is any indication of how folks beyond the Bay Area love this sort of "only in San Francisco" phenomenon, there will be oodles of commentary starting next Sunday. OK, there will also be plenty of eyeballs checking out the Jesus-wannabes in the flesh and there ain't nothing wrong with that!

More info from the Sisters' site:

It's our birthday and we want you to come to the place where the Sisters started it all back in 1979 - Dolores Park - and help us celebrate in proper style with the ever-popular Kiddies' Easter Egg Hunt at 11am on April 8, followed later in the day with the Easter Bonnet Contest and the Hunky Jesus Contest. This year's theme is "Pumps & Circumstance" so dress accordingly and be sure to bring a picnic blanket, some nosh and, of course, a little libation and then sit back and enjoy the show, which will be translated by ASL interpreters.

And Sister Connie Pinko shares info about where to go if the weather is wet and cold:

Foul weather plans will be posted on our website on the Friday or Saturday prior to Easter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cameron's Christian Movie = $33M;
Black Lesbian 'Pariah' = $770K

That creepy Christian bigot and actor Kirk Cameron had a film in the theaters back in 2008, which was news to me when I read a reference about the flick at Nikki Finke's Deadline site. In a Friday post about the preliminary opening day box office numbers for the anti-abortion movie "October Baby", Deadline said:

It is that dedicated, laser-targeted audience that helped make fellow faith-based fare Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron, one of the most successful independent films of 2008, grossing $33.5 million.

The audience referred to is comprised of moviegoers whose tickets are purchased by conservative churches and religious schools in large blocks, then given to parishioners and students go catch the movie for free. Distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films works closely with the institutions to make all this happen. Deadline also reports:

It’s an extension of a strategy that began last fall when October Baby was released for three weeks in 13 theaters in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, timed to to an ultimately unsuccessful Mississippi “personhood” ballot initiative and backed with funding from the American Family Association.

So, not only does the distributor find a very willing, and paying, audience to get butts into seats and profits in the bank, it also collaborates tangentially in the political arena with the churches and colleges. Pretty creative way of making money on a movie and reaffirming a core message to the target audience.

Nothing wrong with that, and it's a strategy that other distributors and filmmakers ought to consider and copy for their own needs.

In the instance of the excellent independent "Pariah" about a teenage black lesbian coming out and to grips with her sexual orientation, which I saw and recommended, distributor Focus Features might have brought in more coin using the conservative Christian model. "Pariah" was the first feature written and directed by the keen-eyed and talented Dee Rees.

How much did I enjoy the film? So much that I tolerated the shortish times when Rees uses a jerky, hand-held camera and too-fast (for my eyes) editing. Let's not overlook the captivating performance by Adepero Oduye in the title role. Did you know that acting goddess Meryl Streep gave a shout-out to Oduye during awards season?

"Pariah" couldn't crack the $1 million mark in theatrical release profits, according to the authoritative Box Office Mojo site which reports that it took in all of $770,000 during its run.

What if Focus Features coordinated ticket-purchasing in bulk with LGBT youth groups, the Gay-Straight Alliances, gay and allied religious groups and black LGBT advocacy organizations, then gave away thousands of tickets? Would the box office returns for "Pariah" have been in the millions instead of the high six-figures?

It wouldn't have hurt the distributor's bottom line, while the audience receiving the free tickets and catching the movie would have seen part of their lives up on the silver screen, told honestly and with grit that gets the heroine to a happy ending.

I'm just saying if Cameron and his religious and entertainment backers can produce a movie with limited reach that still rakes in millions of bucks, the likes of Dees and everyone involved with "Pariah" should be able to do better at the box office with proven effective strategies used by the conservatives, but adopted for our special LGBT communities.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Magnificent Restored 'Napoleon'
Screens Only 4-Times in Oakland

The dress rehearsal and tech run-through for "Napoleon" yesterday at the Paramount Theater in Oakland started at 10:15 a.m. and ended, after three intermissions, just shy of 6:00 p.m. and I was there to experience it.

This was my fourth time seeing this cinematic milestone and I had no problem giving up a beautiful sunny day in the Bay Area to feast my eyes upon the most complete "Napoleon" and hear the magnificent score performed live and with such passion and precision.

Seated down in the fourth row center of the orchestra, I marveled again at the powerful composition of practically every shot not just battle scenes or the section on National Convention featuring a cast of thousands but also the intimate scenes of Napoleon with his family or learning to flirt with his future wife Josephine.

The editing throughout is fantastic, while the handful of times when director Abel Gance employs rapid-style editing stunned my eyes with pleasure. It goes without saying that the sets and costumes are dazzling, adding depth and grandeur to the film.

And then after five-hours of Napoleon's life and times gloriously unfolding on a single big screen, the extraordinary twenty-minute finale starts and the Paramount Theater's specially-designed stage expands to three screens. The triptych panorama of Napoleon massing his troops for his Italian campaign, with the Oakland East Bay Symphony giving their all with the triumphant music filling the auditorium, left me in a state of awe.

Here it is the following day I am still rhapsodizing to my partner Mike about the stupendous thrills of this version of "Napoleon", which contains thirty-minutes of new footage found in various film archives around the world. There isn't a new thirty-minute section, but instead a minute or two added scenes of battles or balls.

During the Victims Ball sequence, at which only people who lost fathers, brothers, husbands or sons to the Reign of Terror are invited and showcases some of the happiest, partying victims ever put on celluloid, a fun queer moment occurs.

A thick-armed, drunk woman shares laughs and champagne with a man equally soused, before she pulls him close for a kiss before taking off her large wig to reveal she's a man in drag and getting a good laugh from the shock of the man she was smooching.

Needless to say, in this five-and-half-hour film, there are countless moments of movie magic to enjoy. This is one film that demands to be seen only in a big theater.

After today's screening, there are only three more opportunities to catch this monumental cinematic masterpiece. You can see "Napoleon" in Oakland on March 25, March 31 and April 1, starting each day at 1:30 pm. Click here for details about this special presentation and ticket information.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Video: Dead Iraqi Emo/Gay
Hanging From a Bridge

It was terribly difficult to watch this video, and the howling wind only added to the tragic scene on the screen. The LiveLeak site headlines the video as the "Execution of an Iraqi Emo Hanging from a Bridge" and shares this vague overview description lacking specifics about the victim:

The execution of the "emo" is a new bizarre craze to sweep across Iraq after the dictator was overthrown. An emo in Iraq is regarded as someone who dresses in western clothes. The killings are random and brutal, conducted by unknown militias, and target especially any long haired young men wearing jeans.

We don't know if the youth was hanged because religious militias thought he was emo or gay or dressed the wrong way, and if anyone has details about the victim and why he was hanged, please let me know.

Looking at the disturbing video, it was impossible not to recall America's history of hangings and vigilante executions of black men and women:

And, of course, it's an easy leap from the Iraqi and American images of hangings to the Iran's hanging of gay teenagers Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in 2005:

Whether its Iraq, Iran or America doing the executing, I am against it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

US Ambassador to Jamaica
Dodges Soft LGBT Question

Last Tuesday I blogged about submitting questions to the State Department's Dip Note blog's request for questions to be asked of the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, career diplomat Pamela Bridgewater.

Not only were my questions posted to the Dip Note, but they were asked during the chat with Bridgewater and Ambassador Curtis Ward, former ambassador of Jamaica to the United Nations and currently President of the Caribbean Research and Policy Center, which took place at the department on March 16. The conversation was moderated by deputy assistance secretary Cheryl Benton.

Benton projected my questions on the screen and read them aloud to the ambassadors. Here is the video of the conversation and the LGBT questions come up at the 20:24 mark:

To my disappointment, our ambassador dodged the soft questions and unfortunately didn't address the specific matters of LGBT people and issues in Jamaica. This is a transcription of Bridgewater's response:

Well, as the individual stated, our human rights report is being vetted right now, so I will not comment on what it states because it has not been released. But I will say that our embassy has engaged very, very aggressively with Jamaica with Jamaicans on a plethora of human rights issues. 

Women's issues, the rights of vulnerable populations, children, trafficking in persons, LGBT. I have worked personally on these issues and will continue to do so. So I can assure the questioner that we are involved very vigorously on these areas.

Disappointment with our ambassador's dodge aside, I was quite pleased that Ward took the opportunity to address how the new prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller would hire a gay person for her administration:

If I might add to that Ambassador, you may recall that during the last election campaign in Jamaica, the now current prime minister had made a statement.

Which in effect, was a deliberate shift from what had been the perception at least, if not the practice, that she would not be discriminating against any individuals who were gay. That they could serve in her cabinet, that they could be appointed to high positions. So this is a big step in the right direction for Jamaica.

I think the questioner needs to . . . should understand there are steps being taken for greater tolerance and societies like Jamaica will never shift overnight from one position to another. It has to be a gradual process. I think we are in the right direction.

And Bridgewater replied:

We certainly commend that and are certainly looking forward to other opportunities to expand human rights in Jamaica.

This conversation is remarkable for the fact that Jamaica's former representative to the United Nations was more direct and specific about gays in his country, than the American ambassador who tip-toed around gay concerns.

Kudos to the State Department of hosting these conversations, engaging with the public for questions and issues to be addressed, and many thanks to Bridgewater and Ward for participating. On behalf of Gays Without Border, I applaud this public diplomacy effort by the American government.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3 SF Supes Request UN/US Flag Lowering:
Intl Day Against Homo/Transphobia

Earlier this week members of Gays Without Borders made a request to Supervisor David Campos to introduce a resolution directing the city to lower the United Nations and American flags at UN Plaza on May 17 to honor IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Today, Supervisor Campos agreed to our request and we are so pleased.

He secured the co-sponsorship of Supervisor Christina Olague and Supervisor Jane Kim, before making this brief verbal request on the resolution to be considered by the full board in the near future. This is from today's Board of Supervisors meeting and Campos begins to speak for less than a minute at the 00:31 mark:

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It's terrific to see Campos, who is gay, Kim who is straight, and Olague who is bisexual, presenting a spectrum of sexual orientations, political stripes and supervisorial districts united for this very important global gay day. Here is the full text of the resolution:

Resolution recognizing International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and calling upon city officials to lower the American and UN Flags in United Nations Plaza for a 24-hour period on May 17th.

WHEREAS, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is celebrated each year on May 17th, marking the day that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1990; and

WHEREAS, IDAHO is a rallying event taking place across the world that offers an opportunity for people, regardless of their sexual orientation, to counter homophobia and transphobia and demonstrate their solidarity with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities; and

WHEREAS, LGBT people across the world continue to face discrimination, violence, and even death because of their sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS, Several nations have officially recognized IDAHO, including the governments of Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, France, Luxemburg, and Brazil as well as several local governments including the Province of Quebec and the City of Buenos Aires; and

WHEREAS, a main objective of IDAHO is to provoke action across the world to fight against homophobia and transphobia using local strategies that correspond to the given cultural, political, and historical context of the place; and

WHEREAS, San Francisco has an international reputation as a beacon of hope, love, and acceptance for LGBT people around the world; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the City and County of San Francisco officially recognizes the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors calls on City Officials, including the Director of the Department of Public Works, to lower both the American and UN Flags in United Nations Plaza on May 17th for a 24 hour period.

In response to this fabulous beyond belief development, the following note of genuine gratitude was sent:

Dear Supervisors Campos, Kim and Olague,

Thank you for the rapid and articulate introduction of the resolution to request the flags at UN Plaza be lowered as well as to recognize International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

We believe it will send a powerful and important message, portraying San Francisco as the inspirational city it is, in which diversity of its citizens is not only tolerated, but respected, celebrated and nurtured.

We also appreciate the efforts of Hillary Ronen and Chris Durazo on your behalves.

We understand that the lack of a protocol and uniqueness of the situation with Merchants of Upper Market/Castro and the flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza precludes their inclusion in the resolution, and while our preference remains to perform ceremonies at both places to maximize the impact, we are grateful for the resolution you have introduced as written and the powerful symbolism and education that will result from it.

If there is anything else we can do in this regard, please let us know.

We will keep your offices informed of the specifics of the event once we have planned them in more detail, and would welcome and encourage your involvement, either by attending the ceremonies or conveying a few words marking the occasion.

Once again, thank you for your cooperation.

Clinton Fein
Isak Lindenauer
Michael Petrelis
Gary Virginia
Bill Wilson

As soon as we hear from Supervisors Campos, Kim and Olague about the next step forward at the Board to turn the resolution into reality, we'll let everyone know.

In the meanwhile, check out previous posts about what Gays Without Borders did on IDAHO in previous years. In 2008 we showed solidarity with LGBT Russians, for 2009 we called for Iraq to stop murdering gays, in 2010 we staged a kiss-in, and for 2011 we gathered at Cafe Flore.

If the resolution becomes city policy it will mark the first time in our proud five years of participating in IDAHO that we have our city government standing in solidarity with Gays Without Borders and our brothers and sisters around our small planet.

Let's all work together and make IDAHO 2012 in San Francisco the best yet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sheriff Mirkarimi Says 
Web Site Needs 'Modernizing'

The latest turn in the Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi drama played out this morning in court, when he appeared before Judge James Collins for sentencing.

According to the Bay City News via the SF Appeal, the sheriff's punishment includes a day in the lockup, three-years probation, one-hundred hours of community service, fifty-two-weeks of domestic violence and family counseling, and must pay $600 in fines and fees.

After his court appearance, the sheriff sent me this note in response to my post yesterday about his office's lame site. I sure would like to know when he plans to get his office's web site functioning and providing the necessary engagement with citizens.

From: Ross.Mirkarimi
To: mpetrelis
Sent: Mon, Mar 19, 2012 11:48 am
Subject: Re: Anemic S.F. Sheriff's web site still 'under construction'?

Thank you, Michael -- there is a significant amount of electronic upgrading and modernizing that needs to be done, among them the website.

Be well,
Ross Mirkarimi
'Napoleon' Conquers 
Oakland's Paramount Theater

Back in the day, I saw Abel Gance's "Napoleon" presented at Radio City Music Hall three times when I worked for the publicist Renee Furst who was promoting the extravaganza engagement with Francis Ford Coppola's backing and flair for hoopla. Those screenings rank high on my list of cherished cinematic pleasures pursued over a lifetime.

I'm still in awe of the grandeur of "Napoleon" in its entirety and the final section when it expands to three synchronized screens and almost overwhelms the eyes.

The daring folks behind the San Francisco Silent Film Festival are the lead partners with Photoplay Productions, the British Film Institute, American Zoetrope and the Film Preserve Limited in a truly once-in-a-generation opportunity to see this monument of cinema in Oakland over the next two weekends at the Paramount Theater.

What will be shown is the fullest version of "Napoleon" with newly-discovered footage and the existing footage restored to all its glory.

Film historian Kevin Brownlow, who received an honorary Academy Award for his heroic efforts restoring "Napoleon", is overseeing the four screenings on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. Have a look at the thrilling trailer for these screenings:

Brownlow will be at the Pacific Film Archive on March 30 for a reception, book signing and lecture about the restoration, with Judith Rosenberg providing piano accompaniment to the film excerpts. Go here for more info on the PFA event.

According to the Silent Film Festival, the showings start at 1:30 pm, and there will be two 20-minute breaks in addition to a dinner break of 1-hour and 45-minutes, and the film lets out around 9:45 pm.

Click here for more info on tickets and how to get to the Paramount Theater. Wise movie-lovers know not to miss this rare chance to see "Napoleon" in a fabulous Art Deco theater, with live orchestra accompaniment and a screen area big enough to accommodate the three-screen Polyvision finale.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Anemic SF Sheriff's Site
Still 'Under Construction'?

Remember my post back in January about the quite lame state of the San Francisco Sheriff's web site? I kvetched that the new top dog, Ross Mirkarimi, who maintained his legal troubles were no hindrance to his running the department, had no apparent public information office in place and operating in the modern age on the web. The site contained the bio and photo of retired boss Michael Hennessy.

Alas, two-months after my previous look at the sheriff's site, it's still "under construction" with a smiling portrait of Mirkarimi on the left and this info:

Welcome to the new web homepage of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. Continue to check this site for information about the Department, and how we are working hard to provide the best service to the People of San Francisco. While this site is under construction, if you should need the assistance of the Sheriff's Department or require more information, please contact us @ 415 554-7225 or email us at

Even before Mirkarimi took charge, our sheriff's site stank. It's embarrassing to compare the SF sheriff's web presence with that of the Alameda county, the San Mateo county and Marin county sheriffs' departments.

The "under construction" site is just another small sign of how Boss Ross ain't doing such a good job running his department, because of his personal and legal troubles. How many more months are needed before this here podunk municipality gets a functional sheriff's site to finally engage citizens on the web?
Castro Group, Wiener Hide Name
of Person Making Threats: Why?

Earlier this month I blogged about the troubling obfuscation by the publicly-funded Castro Benefit District to divulge all of the details regarding an individual who I thought had made threats against the CBD board members at only one meeting. It was outrageous to watch the CBD adamantly refuse to name the person and give the full context of his threats.

Now, thanks to a public records request I filed with Mayor Ed Lee's staffer responsible for all benefit districts in San Francisco, I know that even with seeking help from the city, the CBD refuses to name the person posing so many threats.

Andrea Aiello, the executive director of the CBD, emailed the Mayor's office detailing numerous threats the individual has made, the many times and locations where he made threats, as shown in the printout of her email.

What continues to strike me as so odd about this matter is how Aiello conveys the deep fears of herself and her board members in her note, that the police department has taken reports about the unnamed individual, while officers have attended at least one meeting to protect the CBD members if the individual should how up again. On top of all that, Supervisor Scott Wiener has been made aware of the situation.

And yet none of these parties have contacted the media and have kept the Castro community in the dark about the threats and this apparently dangerous person, against whom Aiello wants under a restraining order.

I would think Aiello, her board, Wiener, and the Mayor's office, would collectively provide all the facts in this case to the larger Castro neighborhood beyond the CBD, and additionally contact the news media and solicit coverage. The safety and security of the Castro is not served by this obfuscation. What possible reasons could they all have for keeping this case under wraps and from public discussion?

Here's the text of Aiello's emails and Wiener's reply, and all mistakes are in the original. Unfortunately, the batch of emails released to me didn't include any messages about what happened after police reports were filed.

A certain individual showed up at our Services Committee meeting [on February 29] and was very threatening to all of us. He threatened several of the committee members and their family members and he told us all he would see us in court and we needed to get lawyers. This is a very serious matter. My board members are volunteers and they also live and work in the neighborhood. This individual has threatened them before as they were walking down the street in the middle of the day, he has threatened them as they were gardening, he has threatened their business, on and on. The only reason he has access to us is because of the California Brown Act. I don't know who or how to do this, but I want to register a formal complaint and limit him from attending all our functions and meetings. I also want to have a new neighborhood restraining order.

My board members are volunteers. They do not have to put up with someone personally threatening themselves, their livelihood and their families. It is absolutely unacceptable that the City sits back and does nothing.

Please let me know the steps I need to take to register a formal complaint with your office and the steps I need to take to ensure the safety and security of my board members. It is important to understand this harassment is not only at CBD Board occurs in our daily lives. He can easily find where we live, in plain words, it is scary.

Supervisor Wiener received a copy of the complaint and sent this reply:

Andrea, did you make a police report?

Ailello responded:

Dennis Z. [a CBD board member] and I are going to the Mission Station tomorrow a.m. to file police reports. I am telling my other board members to do the same.

Friday, March 16, 2012

NYT: Book Says No Evidence
FBI's Hoover Was Gay, Had Sex With Anyone 

 (Hoover, right, with FBI associate and rumored partner Clyde Tolson.)

Former New York Times reporter Tim Weiner has new book out, "Enemies: A History of the FBI", which the paper favorably reviewed yesterday. The matter of J. Edgar Hoover's sexual orientation and sex life are addressed, and quickly dismissed, in the book:

Hoover as a man never really comes alive in “Enemies”:’ Mr. Weiner is far more concerned with policy than with private life. He briefly addresses the idea of Hoover’s closeted homosexuality, even the hoary old story that he was a cross-dresser, dismissing both notions out of hand, saying there is “not a shred of evidence” that Hoover was in fact gay or ever had sex with anyone. 

Well, if there were some evidence, I wouldn't be the least bit shocked to learn it was destroyed by Hoover or the FBI.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainbow Iraq Plea Read
at SF Vigil for Slain Gays, Emos, Goths

(Credit: Bill Wilson.)
The rainstorms couldn't dampen the commitment of forty to fifty activists who participated in the Gays Without Borders vigil in the heart of San Francisco's gay neighborhood today, which lasted two hours.

(Credit: Clinton Fein.)

We tied our banner to the center of the steel bars on the large bank window at Castro and 18th Streets, taped posters showing one of the dead Iraqi emo victims and placed a memorial floral wreath on the sidewalk, and created a striking scene that caught the attention of people driving or walking past us.

(Credit: Dan Nicoletta.)

Among the community folks who came by to lend solidarity with gay, emo and goth people in Iraq were African-American transgender advocate Jazzy Collins, AIDS activist Gary Virginia, photographers Rick Gerharter and Dan Nicoletta and Bill Wilson, Bay Area Reporter writer Heather Cassell, drag artiste Donna Sachet, political artist Clinton Fein, parishioners from Metropolitan Community Church, members of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club and the Log Cabin Republicans.

(Credit: Clinton Fein.)

There was no formal program. Those of us who have read the news stories about the skull-crushing murders of young Iraqi male who are gay, emo, goth or just weird or perceived to be weak and effeminate, and have some knowledge of the crimes and the political reactions or apathy chatted with the many people who were ignorant of the situation.

(Credit: Clinton Fein.)

At various times, Gary and Clinton would take to the bull horn, make short speeches or read the letter from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad strongly condemning the murders.

A ton of gratitude to everyone who pitched in to make the vigil happen, all who were able to be there, the people who stopped for more information. Thanks!

 (Credit: Clinton Fein.)

I was honored to read a statement from Bissam, a gay Iraqi who started the blog Rainbow Iraq in reaction to the killings. Go to his blog now and leave him and his Iraqi readers messages of solidarity and love. Please.

Bissam is a pseudonym used to protect his personal safety, and here are his words that were read aloud and heard tonight in San Francisco:

We See You, They Don't

A comment from Benjamin from United States says we see you on all out website said the whole truth in one short sentence. And it is real that the whole world is seeing what is going on but the Iraqi government and the authorities. While the world is protesting against the brutality of these crimes the people in charge disgrace the victims. The Iraqi prime minister didn’t speak at all.

The Shiiat leader says it is a strange phenomenon has a devastating influence and the head chief of Baghdad police says it is a revenge and honor killings. He didn’t even have a courtesy to call them crimes.

Sad, bad and unethical actions against innocent people all what they did are to be themselves. The heart of the humanity is bleeding for what is going on. They say they are not 100 people who get killed. Does it matter if they are 1 or 1000?

Killing is killing and this is a forcing for a stupid culture upon people who they are so peaceful. For how long these crimes will go without any punishment or even a small investigation? From gluing the rectum of the gays to smashing the Emo and gays with bricks, what next?

I ask you all to stand as one with us to safe the rest of humanity remained in Iraq. And to tell the Iraqi authorities that everyone has his freedom of speech and express himself as he believes.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being there for us.

SF Vigil Today:
Iraq: Stop Killing Gays, Emos and Goths

As I write this, a light rain is falling on San Francisco and regardless of the weather there will be a vigil today starting at 4:00 PM in the Castro district. Our group Gays Without Borders will display a banner and posters demanding that the skull-crushing murders of gays, emos and goths in Iraq immediately end. Please join us.

Political artist Clinton Fein designed the powerful poster above, which is quite difficult to look at but we must show the world the brutality of the murders of young people in recent weeks in Iraq. Permission is granted for everyone to use the poster to call attention to the killings.

And Gary Virginia, who penned the appeal below to the goth community, has also created a memorial wreath commemorating the young Iraqis who've died during this spate of murders:

I'm an activist and community fundraiser in San Francisco and am reaching out to your Facebook Group GOTH CLUBS for support.

I'm with a group called Gays Without Borders and we're having a vigil on March 14, 4-6pm, at Castro and 18th streets denouncing the brutal killings of Goths, Emos and Gays and suspected Gays in Iraq.

It is believed that 100 have been killed in recent weeks with a witchhunt mentality. Many of the victims are straight but dress differently so they were targeted. The killings are continuing.

Here is the FB event if you are able to quickly post it:

We are of the belief that we are ONE human race on a very connected planet. These types of brutal slayings of innocent people should not be occurring in the 21st century. We appreciate any support.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gay Jamaica Questions Needed
for State Dept Ambassador's Chat

(A transgender Jamaican person under mob-attack in April 2007.)

I just submitted several questions and a comment to the U.S. State Department's Dip Note blog post, for a conversation scheduled tomorrow with our ambassador to Jamaica. Read this excerpt requesting engagement and questions from the general public:

Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, will hold a conversation with Ambassador Curtis Ward, President of the Caribbean Research & Policy Center, on U.S.-Jamaica Relations. The discussion will be moderated by Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and will be available for on demand viewing soon on DipNote, the Department of State's official blog.

You are invited to participate by submitting questions, some of which will be selected for response during the broadcast. Submit your questions below on DipNote and on Twitter using the hashtag #Jamaica by March 14 for consideration.

Of course, there are a few things on my mind to share with the State Department, since they are asking for my participation in their public diplomacy:

I am a member of Gays Without Borders, a group concerned with the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Jamaica. We applaud the State Department's advocacy for the respect of LGBT Jamaicans and request that LGBT issues are raised during the conversation.

How is the U.S. prodding the Kingston government to investigate and prosecute bias motivated crimes and will the upcoming annual human rights report mention an improvement or setback for LGBT concerns in Jamaica?

Are there plans to counter the virulent anti-LGBT preaching of religious leaders? What movement can be taken to repeal the anti buggery statues through legislative or judicial avenues?

Looking forward to having these and other LGBT concerns on the tape of the conversation. The conversation, asking folks for questions, and then making the chat available as on-demand media is all good. I would suggest also transcribing the entire conversation on Jamaica to further engage stakeholders.

That comment is awaiting moderation. As of this writing, there is not a single question in the comments section of the Dip Note post. Do the movement a favor.

Go there right now and leave a question or two, please. Let's interact with the State Department on global LGBT issues in as many creative and diplomatic ways as possible.

It's terrific our embassy in Baghdad responded to questions from Gays Without Borders regarding the skull-crushing deaths of gays, emos and goths in Iraq. Just one of hundreds of ways our foreign affairs federal bureaucracy is taking action to better the lives of LGBT people around the world. I like it.
Metro Weekly: US Embassy in Iraq
'Strongly Condemns' Gay, Emo Killings

(Screen shot of the recent New York Times story and photograph from Baghdad. Credit: Metro Weekly.)

Two sites in Washington today write about Gays Without Borders contacting the American embassy in Iraq over the brutal deaths of gays and emos in that country.

Kudos to the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance's Rick Rosendall for giving the embassy's note some attention, and to Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly for not only writing about the note but for also contacting the spokesman in Baghdad for additional comments.

It's always good for embassy officials to hear from American gay activists and reporters about such atrocities, if only to remind them that we are concerns about the murders and expect our government officials to act to stop the killings.

From Metro Weekly:

Addressing the recent spate of "emo killings" in Iraq, in which young gay men and others with similar public presentation have been targets, the spokesman for the American embassy in Iraq told the San Francisco-based group, Gays Without Borders, that the embassy "strongly condemns" the killings and "is fully engaged at the highest levels to end these attacks, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure a secure and free future for all Iraqis."

In a response to Gays Without Borders, embassy spokesman Michael McClellan, who confirmed the email to Metro Weekly, wrote, "Along with the Embassy, the U.S. Department of State strongly condemns the recent violence and killings in Iraq by groups who appear to be targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or personal expression. These acts of intolerance should have no place in any society." . . .

The response to Gays Without Borders was first reported by one of its members, Michael Petrelis. In the NYT report, Jack Healy writes, "An Interior Ministry security officer said that in the past two weeks, officials had found the bodies of six young men whose skulls had been crushed. Reuters reported the toll to be 14 or more, citing hospital and security officials, while rights groups say that more than 40 young men have been killed, but have provided no evidence for this figure." . . .

McClellan told Metro Weekly early this morning Eastern Time that there had been no further developments in the day since he had sent Petrelis the letter.
$408,000 Catholic Hater Donohue:
'We Don't Need Altar Boys'

Today's front-page of the New York Times' print edition contains a fascinating story by Laurie Goodstein, all about Catholic church leaders putting legal pressures on a group dedicated to helping people who have suffered all sorts of abuses from priests over the years. A quote from a notorious hater of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, not to mention feminists and others working to curb Catholic influence over public health and fairness matters, Bill Donohue, pictured, stands out, bolding added:

But William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP [Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests] is a menace to the Catholic Church.”

Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.” 

Oh, really? That metaphoric altar boy reference is rather unfortunate, given that many of the abuse charges involve altar boys who were mistreated by Catholic priests.

I last wrote about Donohue in April 2010, because of his $372,000 salary reported in his nonprofit's tax filing. Donohue, who has not taken a vow poverty or living within modest means, has received raises since 2010.

The latest IRS 990 for Donohue's charity reveals his compensation has jumped to $408,000, and they have $28 million listed in assets.

To view the tax filing, go to the Foundation Center, where you don't have to register to view IRS 990s, then search for the Catholic League's returns. Unfortunately, the center does not create URLs for individual filings.

Lastly, if Donohue wants to talk about menaces, let's expand the discussion to include the menace of the Catholic Church toward women's health, reproductive freedom and privacy, and respect for LGBT people.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

US Embassy in Iraq, State Department:
'Strongly Condemn' Anti-Gay/Emo Killings

This just hit my in-tray. I wish to commend the American embassy in Iraq for this statement, its work on stopping the killings of gays, goths and emos and for including the U.S. State Department in the wording deploring the situation for the targeted communities.

Good to see them clearly spell out sexual orientation and gender identity matters as part of their agenda.

A reminder that Gays Without Borders holds a vigil in San Francisco on March 14. Please, no matter where you are, take action for gay, emo and goth Iraqis today.

The full email from our embassy in Baghdad:

-----Original Message-----
From: McClellan, Michael W (Baghdad) (Baghdad)
To: mpetrelis
Cc: Wilcock, John D (Baghdad) (Baghdad)
Sent: Sun, Mar 11, 2012 11:14 pm
Subject: US EMBASSY BAGHDAD - RE: Info needed: Gay, goth, emo killings reported from Iraq
Michael Petrelis
Bill Wilson
Gary Virginia
Executive Committee Members
Gays Without Borders
San Francisco, CA,
Dear Executive Committee Members:
Thank you for your letter. This embassy shares your concern about the recent attacks in Iraq against individuals identified as gay or part of the “emo” culture.  When NGOs here in Iraq first brought this issue to our attention, we immediately expressed our concern to the Government of Iraq, urged immediate measures to combat this violence, and undertook to try to ascertain the details of these attacks. 
Along with the Embassy, the U.S. Department of State strongly condemns the recent violence and killings in Iraq by groups who appear to be targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or personal expression.  These acts of intolerance should have no place in any society.
We have been encouraged by the degree of prominent public condemnation of these attacks.  A representative for Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani condemned the violence and called the killings “terrorist attacks.”   The Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee within Iraq’s Parliament condemned these actions as well.   These statements indicate that an increasing number of Iraqi officials are ready to take these crimes seriously.  Through our advocacy and diplomatic efforts, we will continue to urge the Iraqi government to condemn attacks on the LGBT community and to devote all possible attention to preventing such crimes.   
The State Department will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
I appreciate your concern for the Iraqis who have suffered and who are at risk of suffering from this violence.  I assure you and the members of your organization that the Embassy is fully engaged at the highest levels to end these attacks, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure a secure and free future for all Iraqis.
Michael McClellan | مايكل مكليلان
Spokesman/Deputy Public Affairs Officer | المتحدث الرسمي بإسم السفارة
Embassy of the United States of America | سفارة الولايات المتحدة الامريكية
Baghdad, Iraq | بغداد، العراق
E-mail: mcclellanmw[at]state[dot]gov
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.
SF Vigil for Iraqi Gays & Emos;
March 14, Castro & 18th Streets

[UPDATE: Rain or shine, the vigil goes on as scheduled!]

In April 2009, when the world learned of the deaths by anal gluing of gay men in Iraq, our grassroots activist group Gays Without Borders held a vigil in San Francisco to express sympathy and call for an end to the brutal murders.

Now, with reports emerging from Iraq of more than 100 deaths of gays, emos and goth persons many killed after their heads were bludgeoned with cement blocks in the past four weeks, and threats of additional atrocities, Gays Without Borders is taking to the streets of the Castro to send a message to Iraq's government, clerics, militias and citizens: Stop killing gays, emos and goths.

If you're not familiar with the details of these murders, click here to read numerous mainstream and gay press accounts of the forces behind the murders of young individuals who dress and act differently than normal conservative Iraqi society. Be sure to also check out the Rainbow Iraq blog operated by a gay Iraqi in exile using the pseudonym Bissam.

Here are the details:

WHAT: Vigil for Iraqi Gays, Emos and Goths
WHEN: Wednesday, March 14
TIME: 4pm - 6pm
WHERE: Castro and 18th Streets, San Francisco

The demonstration has a main goal: Create photos and videos illustrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support for the besieged and fearful targeted communities in Iraq. Then use those images to show the world and our friends in Iraq that LGBT activists are not silent over the murders.

At Castro and 18th Streets, the crossroads of gay America, we will display our "IRAQ: STOP KILLING GAYS!" banner, and tape enlarged photos of the victims when they were still alive, after being murdered, along with news stories to the walls of the Bank of America. Candles will be lighted in remembrance of the dead and hope for an end to the killings.

No speeches are planned, but we will have a bull horn for anyone who wishes to speak out. For two hours on Wednesday, we are asking those walking past our vigil to take a few minutes and bear witness to the unconscionable deaths taking place in Iraq.

Our action is one part of the global response to the Iraqi situation - from pressuring governments and the United Nations to take action protecting the at-risk communities to using social networking to sustain visibility. We hope other street actions take place in coming days.

The March 14 protest is endorsed by Clinton Fein, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Melanie Nathan, Danny Nicoletta, Gary Virginia, Bill Wilson and myself. Please join us.


Below are some of the images of the victims found on the web, and that will be on our posters. They're graphic and may not be suitable for all readers. I do not know if the dead bodies are of the living young men in each image. Notice that the corpse in the last two composites appears to be the same but the accompanying photos show two different living males.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Kameny Estate Lawyer Also Reps
Gay Museum that Wants Icon's Papers

Legal minds will eventually have to weigh in on the evidence I am presenting here and decide if ethical lines have been crossed.

This is follow up to my post this morning about the Blade story on attorney Glen Ackerman suing longtime friends and caregivers of gay icon Frank Kameny on behalf of his heir plaintiff Timothy Clark. Let's look at public records found through Googling and other search engines, after a brief reminder why Ackerman, pictured, has filed a lawsuit.

He claims that the defendants wrongfully removed possessions from Kameny's Washington home shortly after passing away in October. Ackerman seeks return of those possessions to the care of his client Clark.

Another client of Ackerman's is the Velvet Foundation, a nonprofit pushing for a National LGBT Museum in DC and he's not only listed on their site as providing community support to the project, he also is the attorney of record for the trademark application for the word mark HERE I AM.

The owner history shows it's the Velvet Foundation, and all correspondence is directed to Ackerman at the physical address for his law firm.

The 2010 IRS 990 tax filing for the foundation reports revenue of $99,313 and net assets listed at the end of year were $77,054. Since Ackerman is not an officer of the nonprofit, his name is absent from the filing. However, the foundation reveals $14,000 and $10,000 in assets for the Kameny Project Collection.

First I'm hearing about this collection and certainly wonder what it contains. Curious to know if Ackerman hopes to recover the possessions for the plaintiff and then sell or donate them to the foundation.

I do know the Kameny Papers Project, started by some of his friend being sued, donated a portion of his archive to the Smithsonian's National Museum and a much larger amount of his records is now with the Library of Congress, and would like to learn if the papers in Kameny house at the time of his death were left to one of those institutions.

Here's one ethical question to consider. Can Ackerman represent plaintiff Clark and the Velvet Foundation simultaneously without any conflict of interest?

Googling turned up a 2009 press release from the nonprofit, stating a number of things I was not aware of regarding the gay pioneer's archive:

Velvet Foundation is pleased to announce its purchase of the Kameny Papers Project’s remaining artifacts. The collection is now part of the Foundation’s permanent collection . . .

"We could not be more happy with the acquisition of the Kameny Papers. While many believe that the entire collection went to the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, a substantial portion of the collection did not," said Timothy Scofield, Executive Director of the Velvet Foundation. "The items in this collection are key to telling the full breadth of American experience. We are honored to have gained the trust of Frank Kameny [and] the Kameny Papers Project . . ."

FYI, Scofield has since married furniture mogul Mitch Gold and now goes by the name Timothy S. Gold. The New York Times covered their wedding in Iowa with a story and photo in July 2010.

The lawsuit clearly illustrates how that trust the project has deteriorated and the motives of Ackerman, the plaintiff Clark and the National LGBT Museum need to be made more transparent.

Even way out here on the Left Coast, something just doesn't smell right about Ackerman's lawsuit and how he can serve two clients without stumbling over ethical quandaries.  
Blade's Kameny Lawsuit Story Omission:
Paper's Lawyer Reps Plaintiff

(Icon Dr. Franklin E. Kameny. Credit: Washingtonian, Simon Bruty.)

[UPDATE: The Blade has posted the following to its story: Editor’s note: The law firm Ackerman Brown PLCC, of which Glen Ackerman is managing partner, represents the Washington Blade.]

What a disappointment it is to read in the Washington Blade today that my late friend Frank Kameny's heir has filed suit against several of the gay pioneers friends, over his estate. Lou Chibarro writes:

The man named by the late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny as the main beneficiary of his estate has filed separate lawsuits against four of Kameny’s longtime friends and fellow activists, charging that they “wrongfully” removed property from Kameny’s house shortly after his death last October.

The lawsuits, which were filed in D.C. Superior Court on March 3 and March 5, came days after one of the men now named as a defendant, Bob Witeck, announced that a March 3 ceremony for the interment of Kameny’s ashes at Congressional Cemetery had been postponed in “deference” to Kameny’s estate.

“Timothy Lamont Clark, the Personal Representative of the Estate of Dr. Franklin E. Kameny, filed Complaints for Writ of Replevin against Dr. Marvin Carter, Charles Francis, Richard Rosendall, and Robert ‘Bob’ Witeck in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Civil Division,” says a statement released by attorney Glen Ackerman, who is representing Clark and the Kameny estate.

Since I'd never heard of this lawyer Glen Ackerman and wondered if he had a track-record in other community matters, I Googled him, to discover he's legal counsel for the Blade, a fact omitted by Chibarro and the paper. What's up with that?

Check out this story from Metro Weekly by Will O'Bryan that ran on February 16:

A longtime fixture of the local LGBT community, photographer Patsy Lynch reports that she found resolution Tuesday evening in a deal with the Washington Blade, following a months-long impasse regarding a photo Lynch shot decades ago . . .

Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 14, Glen H. Ackerman, managing partner of Ackerman Brown PLLC, who represents the Blade's parent company, Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia Inc., released a statement from both parties that they ''have authorized me to report that they have resolved their dispute to their mutual satisfaction. … Brown Naff Pitts respects the rights of artists including, but not limited to, photojournalists like Ms. Lynch.''

Hey, Lou, please amend the online version of your report this morning to include the fact that the plaintiff's lawyer also represents the Blade, and mention that fact in future coverage of this story.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Only in SF: Castro Meeting:
Sexscort, Dancing Pig & Cops

Allow me to introduce the super sensual sexscort, and so much more, Starchild. He was at the board meeting of the Castro Benefit District tonight and turns out he endorses my campaign to reclaim flagpoles on public property.

For every agenda item that allowed for public comment, he had something to say. After backing my arguments about expanded Sunshine at the CBD, Starchild spoke about his own Castro concerns.

He was a breath of fresh air and quite a dish in his skimpy outfit.

The owner of the newly-opened Dancing Pig, Larry Metzger, made a presentation about the parklet soon to be installed in front of his joint, and brought along free samples of his wares to share.

He's a great guy and I'm sorry I didn't get photo of him tonight. Looking forward to eating at his place real soon.

Check out the menu here. Any establishment in the Castro with the word pig in it is guaranteed to succeed.

The meeting was facilitated by Gustavo Serina in an officious manner, with lots of shade thrown my way. He's not the least bit pleased dealing with my public records requests and read a written statement explaining a few ways the CBD is changing records management. I quickly verbally requested a copy of that statement per Sunshine provisions.

As at the executive committee on Tuesday, Serina again did the community a disservice withholding details about the violent episode at another committee meeting last week.

Keeping the facts hidden about who, what, why, where, etc, were at play last week is unnecessary, but that's a standard problem with control queens. If you've got two San Francisco police officers sitting through most of the meeting because of the violence at the committee, then full details should be disclosed.

Today I sent a complaint to Serina about how, based solely on minutes prepared by Richard Magary, it appears as though the CBD violates Robert's Rules of Order Number 59 requiring minute-taking by the secretary because Magary is always listed in the minutes as a member of the public. I further complained that all minutes prepared by Magary, and shamefully approved by the board, omit the name of every speaker during public comment.

Well, Serina disclosed that Magary is an independent contractor paid to take the minutes at board meetings. Until tonight the CBD had never shared this info and it raises troubling questions about why they kept it secret, why the secretary is not taking minutes and what else they are not telling the public about how the CBD operates.

During general public comment I used my two minutes to excoriate Magary, by name, for his massive shameful failure to include the names of every community member who's spoken before the CBD in the past three years. "This is not the Mattachine Society, is it?" I asked.

Magery has rendered invisible every public speaker and the contents of their comments, and he has done this on the public dime. The historical record as prepared by Magary are far from an accurate picture of what really happened at CBD meetings for three years. Why worry about the homophobes keeping us out of historical documents when Magary and the CBD do it so well with taxpayer money?

This is a major sustained disrespect to the entire community and CBD would be wise to amend the minutes include the names of speaker and their comments, using all of Magary notes and the sign-in sheets he passed around every meeting.

Furious, Magary interrupted me to say I was mispronouncing his name and I told him to cease, then claimed an extra ten seconds of time to make up for his rude outburst.

Many thanks to Starchild for his big presence tonight and all of what he had to say and display. He's a good man, and reminded me that while I may not enjoy widespread backing within the community, there are special queers like him who understand my advocacy and the need to reclaim our lost public spaces in San Francisco.

Starchild, please come around to next month's CBD meeting and speak up again. And wear as little clothing as possible!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tanzanian Gay Eddy Cosmas
Wins Asylum in the United Kingdom

This just hit my in-tray. It's from Roberto Malini of the EveryOne Group, which has gay leadership and focuses on political refugees and asylum seekers of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Feels good to have a victory to celebrate on the global level! All the best to Eddy Cosmas, pictured, and congratulations to everyone who worked on his behalf.

Here's the news:

An extraordinary result that the Movement for Justice and EveryOne Group share with a network of activists and NGOs that have worked in perfect synergy to ensure a bright future for this young man.

London / Rome, March 6th, 2012. Eddy Cosmas, the young homosexual man from Tanzania who last year was just a step away from deportation, has seen his dream of avoiding a terrible fate in the country he had fled from finally come true.
Anna, from the Movement for Justice, wrote to us from London immediately after hearing about this great humanitarian and civil achievement: "Dear friends of EveryOne Group, we won. Within three weeks, Eddy will get political asylum. I want to let you know immediately, even before our press release. In the case of Eddy Cosmas, our common action, which has raised much international publicity, has reversed the situation and led to a victory over the system."
The Movement for Justice and EveryOne Group have been supported by a network of activists and human rights activists, including Peter Tatchell, MP John McDonnell, the Mayor of Richmond (California), Radical Party, the National Union of Students (NUS), Black Students Campaign, NUS LGBT campaign, Gary Virginia and Michael Petrelis of Gays Without Borders (San Francisco), Skyline High School Gay / Straight Alliance (California).

Related links:!.html!.html