Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pink Pistols: Only 9-Words on Sandy Hook Massacre



Remember my post a month ago, about the Pink Pistols organization and their offensive poster, pictured, featuring two young lesbians draped in ammo jewelry and one holding an automatic file? I complained about the silence from the Gay NRA about the massacre in Newtorn, Connecticut.

Well, they've broken their silence about that tragedy and also weigh-in on President Obama's sensible calls for action and dialogue to make America less deadly due to guns.

At their newly-designed site where they've removed the poster and all images, longtime spokesperson Gwen Patton finally opines on that tragedy, albeit in passing and surrounded by more words of guns-first rhetoric. Underlining added:

“This is what we need, a reasoned discussion, not emotional knee-jerking. The deaths at Sandy Hook were awful and tragic. But we should not get caught up in the urge to do something, anything, and do the wrong thing.” She smiles. “I said it before, and I’ll say it again. "No compromise on either our gay rights OR our right to bear arms is acceptable to the Pink Pistols."

Only nine-words on Sandy Hook. As sympathetic to the victims killed in Newtown as Wayne LePierre.

Wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment, the Pink Pistols' release assures us they're not dead, derides Obama's initial efforts to just have a rational debate about guns and less lethality, and makes fleeting reference to gay rights.

I'm not impressed. Count me among the Americans who strongly endorses Obama's steps in recent weeks to address the myriad gun violence problems in our nation. Don't expect the Pink Pistols to contribute constructively to the national debate, since their minds are clearly no open to new thinking or potential compromises to protect school kids and everyone else.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hearst v BAR Fdtns: SF Chronicle Discloses, BAR Doesn't

Back in November, Bay Area Reporter editor Cynthia Laird penned a generally fine column, "Follow the Money", about nonprofits, transparency and the importance of examining IRS 990s. She wrote:

From time to time we get criticized by nonprofit leaders who don't want to provide current financial information when asked . . .  And although there are hiccups at almost any nonprofit, keys to success are good leadership, transparency, and the ability to explain problems and outline corrective action. When those leaders won't provide financial information, it immediately raises red flags: do they have something to hide from the public or potential donors? . . . It's all about following the money . . .

All good at face value, however, in December 2010 when I asked Laird about the Bob A. Ross Foundation, started by the paper's founder, and asked why the BAR does not disclose donations from the foundation to local gay, AIDS and arts agencies covered by the paper, her first response was to forward my inquire to the paper's general manager. She eventually emailed a note from the current publisher that failed to address my disclosure questions.

Compare the BAR's fear of disclosing they have an affiliated foundation that doles out significant chunks of change to local groups to how the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Hearst Foundation checks to area groups. In July 2012, the Chronicle wrote about the Hearst Foundations awarding $1.7 million in grants and in December 2012, when the foundations gave out nearly an additional $1 million, the paper duly noted the latest grants.

The latest IRS 990 for the Ross Foundation is for fiscal year 2011, was filed in May 2012 but not posted to the Foundation Center site for public inspection until this week. All of their filings over the past ten-years are here.

Total assets were at $7.1 million in 2010 and donations came to $335,5000, and in 2011 the assets dropped to $6.7 million but grants climbed to $435,000.

Where did some of that $435,000 go? Among the grantees were the SF Ballet, $50,000, the New Conservatory Theatre Center, $35,000, the GLBT Historical Society, Frameline, AIDS Emergency Fund, Meals on Wheels all received $30,000,  while the Trevor Project and Larkin Street Youth Services were awarded $25,000 each. Dozens of other Bay Areas agencies received smaller amounts.

I would think the Ross Foundation's largess would be something to tout in the BAR, just like the Chronicle does. It's also my contention that since the BAR covers practically all of the agencies receiving Ross Foundation grants, there needs to be disclosure about this when those agencies are reported on.

The Ross Foundation also purchased stock in the Gilead and Bristol-Myers-Squibb in 2003, and sold some of the shares in 2011. Worth mentioning since the BAR reports on the AIDS drugs manufactured by those drug companies.

The BAR should follow the advice the editor gave to nonprofits in her column and provide transparency to readers to help us follow the money of the Ross Foundation. Finally, Thomas E. Horn, is both the publisher of the paper and director of the foundation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gay Star News: 'I Am Not Propaganda' Pix Urged for Russia

(Nadia Winstead, of Gays Without Borders in San Francisco, displaying her support for gay Russians.)

The global LGBT news and entertainment site Gay Stars News, based in London, ran an excellent story on Sunday about Russia's pending 'no-promo-homo' law written by John Paul Zapata. (Disclosure: A photo of my partner Mike Merrigan and I are featured in the story.)

I heartily approve of Gay Star News urging readers to participate in the photo campaign, and including the simple instructions for making a photo along with the phrase, in Russian and English, to print on a sign in either language. Instructions at bottom. Please show some solidarity with the Russian LGBT community and make a photo of yourself saying you are not propaganda and send it today to the organizers.

From Gay Star News:

The photo campaign comes as Russia's State Duma voted in favor of the new law on Friday (25 January), which forbids 'homosexual propaganda' to minors which it links to pedophilia. 

On Thursday (25 January) the Kaliningrad region, with a population of almost a million, became the 10th Russian region to pass a law. The Kaliningrad governor just needs to sign the bill in order for it to become law. According to the Coming Out website, the campaign challenges the moral grounds of the anti-gay propaganda bill . . . 

To view the photos that have been submitted so far, visit OutLoudMag.ru. To contribute your own photo to the online campaign, take a picture of yourself holding a sign that reads 'Я человек а не пропаганд', which translates to 'I am a human being and not propaganda'. Submit your photo to yanepropagnda@gmail.com.
UK Govt: No Alan Turing Surveillance Records


Earlier this month I filed Freedom of Information Act requests for any surveillance records on gay genius Alan Turing with the National Archives, the Home Office and the Security Service in the United Kingdom. I've heard back from the first tow agencies, and don't expect a reply from the Security Service since it's exempt from FOIA laws. I filed that request hoping for at least a rejection reply.

Here's what the National Archives said:

This is a list of all the documents held by The National Archives in which Alan Turing's name features in the file title: [Many of those records are posted here. None of them pertain in any way to the surveillance of Turing.]

A search for closed records on the catalogue under 'advanced search' using the keyword 'Turing' yielded no further results. The National Archives does not hold any records of 'security clearances, interviews and surveillance' concerning Turing. It is rare for such material to be transferred to the National Archives; it probably does not survive.

This is from the Home Office:

Thank you for your e-mail of 10th January 2013, in which you ask for information related to the late mathematician Alan Turing.  Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We have carried out a thorough search and we have established that The Home Office does not hold the information which you have requested.  We suggest contacting The National Archives (TNA), a government body that holds files and records which are over 30 years old.  


I contacted Maurice Frankel of the Campaign for Freedom of Information in the UK, soliciting his opinion on these replies. He said:

If (contrary to what they say) any files did happen to be held within the Home Office they would then be likely to rely on the exemption in section 23 of the Act, which exempts information obtained directly or indirectly from, or relating to the work of, the Security Service. This exemption is not subject to the Act's public interest test.

If any files had been transferred by the Security Service to the National Archive they would be potentially disclosable by the National Archive, because the public interest test does apply to the section 23 exemption in relation to 30+ year old records held by the National Archive (but not held by other authorities).

Turing is of course a heavily researched figure and it would be surprising if historians and biographers who have studied his life had not already had a go at looking for information about any surveillance. If you have time to look at their work, this could tell you something about material which they had concluded might still exist somewhere, but which had not been releasable at the time they did their research and might be worth having another go at.

Frankel makes an excellent point in the last paragraph. I wrote him that I had searched the web for details about Turing's biographers filing requests for surveillance records, and the only relevant thing I found was a post at John Graham-Cumming's blog. He was responsible for persuading Prime Minister Gordon Brown to posthumously apologize to Turing.

Graham-Cumming in 2009 asked the Security Service for surveillance records, and received an email from them saying anything on Turing they could release was available on their site or at the National Archives site. At the time, nothing was posted at either agency's site.

I'm sharing the replies from the Home Office and National Archives as basic followup to readers, and to put info out on the web that no Turing surveillance records (if they exist and I believe they do considering the intelligence clearances he needed), have been released by the pertinent UK agencies.

One day, I hope such records are open to the public.

Monday, January 28, 2013

US Embassy: Full Response to Honduran Gay Bar Raid

 Erick Vidal Martinez


 Jose "Pepe" Palacios

Longtime human rights advocate, and my friend, Charlie Hinton of the Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition received this reply today from Nathan Anderson, who is the human rights attache at the American embassy in Tegucigalpa. Charlie asked what was being done about the recent gay bar raid and other LGBT human rights matters in Honduras. Here is Anderson's note:

I appreciate your e-mail and want to assure you that the Embassy shares your concern about the police raid of Anubis and the ensuing violence. I spoke to Erick Martinez and Jose “Pepe” Palacios of “Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia” (MDR) on the evening of January 12 at a reception at the Ambassador’s residence and was shocked to learn what happened later that night. 

The Embassy has expressed its concern about the incident with the appropriate Honduran governmental institutions and has called for a thorough investigation of the event. The Ambassador publically offered her concerns on her social media Twitter account. It is our understanding that the National Police are working in conjunction with the Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights and National Ombudsman for Human Rights in this investigation. 

As with all credible allegations of human rights violations, we will continue to monitor the investigation into this case working with Honduran government officials and civil society. 

The Embassy is actively engaged with the LGBT rights community in Honduras. The Ambassador regularly meets with members of the LGBT community and talks about LGBT rights as well as other human rights in both her public statements and in private meetings with high level government officials. 

The Embassy has supported the development of human rights training that is now mandatory for all incoming police officers and encouraged the development of LGBT specific training that is now being implemented by the Secretariat of Security. Additionally, the Embassy supports the Honduran Special Victims Unit (SVU) through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) program. The SVU investigates and prosecutes cases of the murders of vulnerable groups including the LGBT community. 

With the help of U.S. prosecutorial and investigative advisors, the SVU has arrested 19 people and won 2 convictions since its founding in 2011. In the history of the Ministerio Publico (equivalent of the Attorney General’s office) there had previously been only 2 arrests of members of the LGBT community. In a country where impunity is the norm, the SVU has become the most effective prosecutorial unit in the Honduran Public Ministry. 

We are also encouraged by the regular meetings between leaders in the LGBT community and police and prosecutors, but acknowledge that much more needs to be done. 

Many thanks to Charlie for writing to Anderson, and to Anderson for his detailed note.  Previously I've reported on the raid, the ambassador's tweet and the apology from the National Police along with photos of the raid.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekend Woof #26:
Young Dudes, Smooth & Furry

It's been a good week for snapping photos of attractive dudes as I've gone about my daily routine. Many thanks to all the guys who've smiled for my camera and just being themselves, while I've taken shots of them. Here's my latest batch of woofy pix.


Every January, I have to renew my enrollment in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to I can continue to receive my cocktail of medicines. This is Adam who works at the AIDS service agency where I had an appointment after court this week. My social worker was running late, so I entertained Adam in his office with a few bad jokes, which he was kind enough to laugh at.


This young smooth-chested man is Andy, who is one of the workers at my local bicycle shop Box Dog Bikes, is seen frequently riding on our street testing out the bikes he repairs. How do I know Andy is smooth-chested? When his shop started a blog, he posted a photo of himself drunk and dancing at a club, without a shirt and I saw just what a smoothie he is.


Two weeks ago, this youthful furry-faced boy was hawking organic veggies and fruit at the UN Plaza farmers' market and I overheard him talking about being a proud redneck with liberal opinions. I saw him today and was further inclined to like him noticing his t-shirt, which reads "Stop bitching and start a revolution". If you look closely at the top photo, his neck is rather reddish from the sun!

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.



For My Third 64th Birthday, the Best Gift


Yesterday was my third 64th birthday. For my previous two birthdays, I opted to be 64 (in gay years) as a tribute to all the living I've packed into my life so far, and because I love the Beatles' tune "When I'm Sixty-Four". There's no reason to pick a new age this year.

What gifts did I receive? Life, liberty and the pursuit and achievement of homo-happiness in abundance.

The best gift was waking up with my life-partner Mike and sharing our continuing, very deep and mutually satisfying love and laughter.

I heard from friends and family, wishing me a happy day, and hope everyone knew just how much pleasure they were giving me. I especially enjoyed the present of seeing my sister Dee Dee and her entire family in New Jersey including the pets, in living color on Skype.

The photo above of Mike and I was one I didn't use in my post yesterday about showing solidarity with the LGBT people and their allies in Russia, as a terrible anti-gay law moves closer to being enacted.

I'm using the photo because it encapsulates our mutual love and affection, shows Mike's smile, is full of vibrant colors and contains a simple yet powerful message calling for justice and acceptance, a key component to my decades of social activism.

In reality, I'm now fifty-four and fabulous!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

U.S. Gays Join Russian 'I Am Not Propaganda' Photo Campaign

(A straight ally holds a sign reading, "I am Catholic and a mother, this is why I am against homophobia".)

The discriminatory and idiotic no-promo-homo legislation that received its first reading in Russia's State Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, was approved yesterday in Moscow. This is terrible step back for the LGBT community and advocates of democracy in Russia. More info on yesterday's approval of the bill and attacks on gay people protesting the bill, can be found here.

As part of a national effort to oppose the federal "Homosexual Propaganda" bill that makes it a crime to say anything positive about gay, the LGBT organizations Coming Out and OutLoudMag.ru earlier this week proudly announced a photo project on the web.

Photos featuring dozens of ordinary straight Russian allies of LGBT people, holding signs saying "I am a _______ and I oppose homophobia", are on display here. An explanation in English about the campaign, where the following photos are from, is located here.

(This straight man's sign reads, "I am Christian and I am against homophobia".)

(An ally who can't show his face holds a sign that says, "I am a policeman and I am against homophobia, but in our country I can't say it openly".)

(This supporter's poster says, "I am a teacher and I am against homophobia.)

To show strong and deep solidarity with the LGBT community of Russia and their straight allies, my longtime partner and boyfriend Mike and I decided to join this online photo campaign. We called our good young lesbian friend Nadia, to come over to our apartment and snap our photo and then I took one of her.

(Your humble blogger holds a sign in Russian saying "I am a human being and not propaganda," which is the message of the sign held by my partner Mike Merrigan.)

(Here's our friend Nadia Winsted sending a solidarity message to gay Russians.)

Please participate in this very worthwhile photo campaign. It's very easy to do. 

Simply cut-and-paste this Russian phrase, "Я человек а не пропаганд", and print it in big letters. You can also use the English translation " I am a human being and not propaganda". Take a photo of yourself and your friends holding the sign.

Then send your photo to this email address:  yanepropaganda@gmail.com

In this desperate hour of need for our LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia, you can do a lot with a single photo to help them fight homophobia in their country. Don't delay and send your photo today!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cops Apologize, Honduran Gay Bar Raid Fotos Surface

A victory has been achieved by brave gay democracy leader Erick Vidal Martinez and the courageous LGBT community of Honduras. As I reported previously this week, on January 13 the National Police arrived at the Anubis bar in Tegucigalpa around 1:00 AM and conducted a raid.

After much pressure from gay and straight human rights defenders inside Honduras, and other parts of the world, Erick and the community received an apology and promises for change were made by government and police officials.

Let's get to the photos and then the report. Please add this line when using the images: "Photo Credit: Erick Vidal Martinez". Click the pix to enlarge.

Two uniformed officers of the National Police stood guard outside the Anubis, shortly after the raid started. The officer on the right is resting his arms on a rifle.


Another policeman inside the bar checked the identity cards of the LGBT patrons, wrote the names and additional personal information down on paper, while other officers smashed a few chairs and broke glass furnishings in the bathroom.


Questioning the LGBT patrons was conducted by more officers, seen wearing baseball caps on the left, foreground, and on the right, center. Everyone was made to sit or stand in one area.


After getting all the names, asking questions, causing damage to the furnishings and walls, and deciding who was to be taken into custody down at the National Police station house, everyone was outside.

The cops loaded up the arrestees in the back of a police pick up truck.

Three of the arrestees, moments before the truck drove away to the nearby National Police station house for Tegucigalpa.

Erick shares this message:

I thank everyone for their solidarity and words of concern about me.

Regarding the Anubis raid, Chief of Police Juan Carlos Bonilla along with the Deputy Police Commissioner Ivan Mejia, contacted me and we had a meeting this week. Among the commitments that they made:

1. Giving me personal protection measures (patrols to my house, a person assigned link for me to communicate in an emergency);

2. An objective investigation of the Anubis raid;

3. Determine which officers were responsible for violating our assembly rights during the raid;

4. Take action to ensure implementation of the Human Rights Ombudsman;

5. Develop an agreement with advocates regulating future actions of the police, such as assigning one officer to be liaison between arrestees and human rights groups.

Chief of Police Bonilla expressed apologies on behalf of women and men of the Police, recognizes that it is vital to take actions to restore the image of the institution and treats everyone fairly.

Muchas gracias, to all friends of mine and Honduran LGBTI people from other countries. We receive 53 letters of solidarity from foreigners and together we go forward.

March 1: Hearing to Set Trial Date

My lawyer Derek St. Pierre and the district attorney's office were unable to reach an agreement at court yesterday. Where we are now is our next court date is March 1 at 1:30 PM in Department 17, and at that hearing a date to proceed to trial will be set.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Friends Launch Support Blog Over My Legal Troubles

Please check out a very-welcomed blog on my behalf regarding the misdemeanor charge, filed by district attorney George Gascon, launched by my old friends Tate Swindell and Todd Swindell. Many thanks, boys! The support blog is here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Back to Court on January 24 

My third hearing for the misdemeanor charge brought against me by District Attorney George Gascon is tomorrow. I'll be appearing before the judge starting at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, in Department 17. The hearing is at the Hall of Justice.

Monday, January 21, 2013

US Amb. Tweets 'Sorry': Honduran Gay Raid, Martinez Arrest



I just checked U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske's tweets from this afternoon and as you can see in the image, she is aware and regretful about the gay bar Anubis getting raided last Sunday and the arrest of LGBT leader Erick Martinez.

Her original tweet, in Spanish:

Siento mucho saber q la comunidad y visitante a mi casa Erick Martínez fue detenido y asaltado en una redada policial en un bar. 

A Google translation into English:

I am sorry to know q # LGBT community and visitors to my house Erick Martinez was arrested and assaulted in a police raid on a bar.

Brava, Madame Ambassador, for expressing regret over the raid and Erick's arrest and mistreatment by the national police, and also acknowledging that he and gays have been guests inside your home in Tegucigalpa!

I've sent her and her staff a thank you email for publicizing the Anubis gay bar raid and what happened to Erick.

It's my belief that the courageous advocacy of LGBT Hondurans and their allies at home, coupled with the emails to the U.S. embassy staff in recent days from the Honduran Support Network, Gays Without Borders and LGBT groups in Holland, Ireland and Italy, directly played roles in this public message from Ambassador Kubiske. 

Let us hope the ambassador's tweet has an immediate impact on reining in the human rights abuses of the Honduran national police against gays, while protecting the safety and well-being of Erick.

My previous posts about the raid and arrests are here, here and here.
State Dept Asked to Deplore Honduran Gay Bar Raid & Arrests

(Erick Martinez in San Francisco's Castro District, October 27.)

As part of a joint campaign of the Honduran Support Network in the United States, Gays Without Borders in San Francisco, and LGBT activists in Honduras to bring wider attention to the gay bar raid, arrests and assaults in Tegucigalpa last Sunday, we are lobbying the U.S. State Department to issue a letter of protest.

Our ambassador in Tegucigalpa today was sent this email, requesting that she speak out about the terrible actions of the Honduran national police during the raid and their harassment of LGBT people.

Please cut-and-paste the list of recipients, including myself, their addys and the text of this letter, sign it with your name, the name of your organization and your location, then send it to these U.S. officials. Thank you for helping the LGBT community of Honduras.

Recipients:

1. Lisa Kubiske, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy
2. Nathan Anderson, Human Rights and Labor Attaché, U.S. Embassy 
3. Benjamin Gedan, Honduras Desk Officer, U.S. State Department
4. Jane B. Zimmerman, Western Hemisphere Officer, Human Rights & Labor Bureau, U.S. State Department
5. Michael Petrelis, Gays Without Borders

Emails:

kubiskel@state.gov
andersontn2@state.gov, 
GedanBN@state.gov, 
zimmermanjb@state.gov
mpetrelis@aol.com

Text:

January 21, 2013

Dear Ambassador Kubiske and Other U.S. State Department Officials,

As an American deeply concerned with human rights and democracy in Honduras, I hereby request that you quickly issue a letter of protest and concern to the Honduran government regarding the January 13 raid on the gay bar Anubis in Tegucigalpa, and the unlawful detention and police assault on gays present at the time of the raid.

Among the persons arrested and attacked was longtime gay leader and AIDS educator Erick Vidal Martinez.

He was held for more than 12 hours, his photos of the police abuse erased from his cell phone, and his car and personal effects ransacked, all for witnessing the humiliating and homophobic behavior of the police and defending the human rights of the bar patrons to peaceably assemble.

I ask that you, on behalf the U.S. State Department, immediately and publicly call upon the Honduran police force to stop this arbitrary harassment of the LGBT community and beseech the government of Honduras to offer protective measures for Erick so that no further harm comes to him as he works to defend the human rights of all Hondurans.

Please acknowledge receipt of this urgent request for action on the day you receive it.

Sincerely yours,
Name of individual:
Organization's name:
City, state, country location:


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gay Hondurans Need Emails Sent to Govt Officials

The Honduran Support Network across the United States, Gays Without Borders in San Francisco, and human rights advocates in Honduras today launched a letter-writing campaign on behalf of the gays arrested in a the Anubis bar raid on January 13 in Tegucigalpa, including LGBT leader Erick Martinez. My previous coverage is here.

We ask you to sign your name, the name of your group and your location to the Spanish-language letter below and send it to four important Honduran officials who need to know people around the world are watching how Honduras treats the gays who were arrested and beaten up by national police. Please send me a copy of the email you send to the Hondurans, and I will pass your email along to LGBT Hondurans.

The letter states facts about the raid, requests that police harassment of LGBT people end, and that the government offer protective services to Erick.

Follow these easy instructions. Cut-and-paste these email addresses into the "Cc:" box:
pompeyobonilla@yahoo.com;
derechoshumanos@yahoo.com;
custodiolopez@conadeh.hn;
apineda@sjdh.gob.hn;
mpetrelis@aol.com

Next, cut-and-paste the letter below, with your info included, into the body of your email. Then in the subject box write "In Support of Erick Martinez and LGBT Hondurans". The last step is to hit send. If you hear back from the officials, please send their email to me. Thanks for helping the LGBT people of Honduras!

Text of letter:

January 21, 2013

1. Ministro Seguridad Pompeyo Bonilla
2. Abogado German Enamorado, Fiscalía Derechos Humanos
3. CONADEH, Dr. Ramón Custodio
4. Ministra Ana Pineda, Secretaria de Justicia y Derechos Humanos

Estimados oficiales hondureños,

Le escribo para protestar la detención ilegal y el asalto policial contra Erick Vidal Martínez en la madrugada del 13 de enero, así como el acoso y el obligado cierre temprano del bar Anubis, donde estuvo presente en Tegucigalpa.

Erick es gay, y el club es frecuentado por gente de la comunidad de la diversidad sexual. Erick fué detenido por más de 12 horas, sus fotos de los abusos de la policía borrados de su celular, y su auto saqueado y efectos personales robados, solo por presenciar el comportamiento humillante y homófoba de la policía y por defender los derechos humanos de los clientes del bar.

Pido que la policía hondureña terminen este acoso arbitrario de la comunidad LGTB y que el gobierno de Honduras ofrezca medidas de protección para Erick para que más daño no le viene mientras trabaja para defender los derechos humanos de todos los hondureños.

Por favor, responda y confirme que ha recibido esta carta.

Atentamente,
Name of individual:
Name of organization:
City, state and country:
Weekend Woof #25: Fine Furry-Faced Fellas

The theme of the latest batch of attractive dudes snapped by my camera is furry faces on fine fellas. I didn't plan the theme, but I'm sure glad these guys posed for me and struck smiles like they did. Thanks for making this weekend's edition possible, fellas.

Here's my friend Bob who lives in Washington, DC, but who visits the Bay Area so often I see him more than a few of my pals who live here! We had just finished up a great lunch last Sunday afternoon, before getting ready to watch the Golden Globes.



I'm so used to seeing big and beefy John bare-chested and having a grand time at a local queer sex club, I sometimes forget what he looks like with clothes on. Here he is waiting for a bus last week down in the SOMA district.



Say hello to my pal Todd, who was doing his laundry a few days ago at the same time I was at the Little Hollywood Wash-o-Mat. I've never learned his real last name, because as far as I'm concerned, his full name is Todd Moustache.



Back in September, I featured photos of a sexi Mexi-American papi vendor at the UN Plaza farmers' market. This young guy is his son and just as friendly as his papi. As I took the son's photo, his papi asked when I would bring them some fame (and more customers).

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here
SF Mayor: No to Fly Trans Flag, May Hoist Atlanta Falcon's Flag


Almost two months ago, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee rejected a request from transgender activists and their allies to fly the Trans Pride flag, pictured, from City Hall on November 20 to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Mayor Lee and his staff never offered a satisfactory answer as to why they couldn't raise the Trans Pride flag on that date, especially after it was pointed out to City Hall officials that they fly lots of flags from the taxpayer-funded flagpole off the mayor's balcony.


On Friday, Mayor Lee put out a release regarding a friendly wager with Atlanta's mayor if his city's football team wins today's playoff game (happening as I write this post). The Falcons' flag is pictured above. Emphasis mine:

The losing Mayor will light up his City Hall for a night in the winning team’s colors – Red & Gold on the Atlanta City Hall if the Niners win and Red & White on the San Francisco City Hall if the Falcons prevail. The losing Mayor will also fly the flag of the winning team on a City Hall flagpole for a day.

Oh, our mayor can't be bothered to fly the Trans Pride flag but he's happy to hoist a flag of an out-of-town sports team if he loses a wager.

Color me not impressed with the shameful political games Mayor Lee plays with what is supposed to be a flagpole for all of San Francisco's citizens. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Honduran Gay Bar Raided, Leader Arrested

 (Standing to the right of the Harvey Milk Bust, in red shirt, is Erick Martinez, holding the Honduran flag.)

Earlier this week, members of Gays Without Borders in San Francisco received disturbing news about a weekend gay bar raid in Honduras and arrest of a brave gay leader, Erick Martinez. Our group coordinated actions with him when he was here, including arranging a photo op at City Hall near the Harvey Milk Bust in October, and we remain steadfast in our solidarity with him.

Erick is well enough, considering the traumas he experienced, and he and his supporters are circulating details about the situation, and building a high awareness about the raid and assaults is on everyone's agenda. A letter-writing campaign is in development and will shortly launch.

For the time being, please spread these details:

On Sunday, January 13th, 2013, Honduran national police arrived at a gay bar that is frequented by members of the Sexual Diversity Community in capitol city of Tegucigalpa. Police ordered the bar to close early, well before the legal time limit for bar closings at 2:30am. 

Gay human rights leader Erick Martinez was present to witness the raid. He took photos with this cell phone showing that several detainees were subject to police beatings, verbal humiliations of their sexual orientation and intimidation. 

A group of national police assaulted Erick and seized his cell phone that was documenting the abuse. Erick and two others were arbitrarily and illegally arrested and taken to the police station. During this time the contents of Erick’'s phone were erased including the photos, and his car searched with items illegally confiscated. Erick was eventually released.


Erick, pictured, is a well-known human rights defender for LBGQTI people, a coordinating member of the Honduran Resistance Movement (FNRP) and an openly gay primary candidate for congress under the LIBRE party. 

For many political reasons and his ceaseless advocacy for justice and democracy, his life is in grave danger, a matter of deep concern to his friends and colleagues in Honduras and around the world.

In October of 2012 Erick Martinez traveled to California to tell his stories to the LGBT and progressive communities. U.S. Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) sponsored a letter supporting Erick’'s visit as well as a Dear Colleague letter signed by 84 members of Congress denouncing the human rights violations of Honduran LGBTI people.
Gay Film Was 2nd Top-Grossing Doc of 2012 

(Alex Libbey, a key subject in "Bully", at the film's premiere last year. Courtesy photo.)

Over at the Indie Wire site, this is old news from January 3 but I only came across it today and it's well worth blogging about. My previous post on how well the gay-themed "Bully" documentary was doing at the box office, thanks to the showmanship of distributor and mogul Harvey Weinstein, appeared in May.

How cool is it that "Bully" was a hit at the box office last year and ranks high up, 30th, on the list of biggest money-making documentaries ever? Very.

Glad to read that this important film was a financial success, but let me temper that success with this factoid. The character assassination documentary by hardcore rightwing Obama haters, "2016: Obama's America", raked in the most doc dough in 2012. Its haul came to $33 million, making it the fourth most-profitable documentary of all time.

From Indie Wire:

It was a very good year for documentary beyond just "2016: Obama's America," with a eclectic quintet -- "Bully" ($4.1 million), "Searching For Sugar Man" ($3.1 million), "Samsara" ($2.6 million), "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" ($2.6 million) and "The Queen of Versailles" ($2.4 million) -- all crossing the $2 million mark (not to mention late 2011 release "Pina," which grossed most of its $3.7 million in 2012). That might not seem like a lot, but makes them all part of the 70 highest-grossing docs of all time. 

"Bully" was the overall top grosser among them amidst a fight between distributor The Weinstein Company and the MPAA after the latter rated the film "R," effectively keeping it out of the schools where it could the most good. The Weinstein Company ended up winning the fight, and whether the controversy helped or not, ended up up with the 30th highest grossing doc of all time.

'Zero Dark Thirty': Torture, Coke & Marlboros

(Jessica Chastain as Maya, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in "Zero Dark Thirty".)

The new Oscar-nominated film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, "Zero Dark Thirty", is playing at the Cinemark Theaters on Market Street and I caught up with it last night.

It's a dynamic procedural told in hybrid cine-journalism terms, that had me engaged from the opening moments with voices of the Twin Tower victims as fiery death approached to the gripping climax with the Navy Seals carrying out their mission at Osama bin-Laden's compound in Pakistan.

The film endorses torture and its alleged role in extracting actionable information from enemy combatants held at CIA black sites, to locate bin-Laden's courier and eventually the terrorist mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, deadly attacks.

Scenes of prisoners abuse didn't strike me as particularly graphic or difficult to watch, even though some reviews led me to believe the interrogations would be more bloody and shitty than they are. 

Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal kept me in my seat, when I needed to pee, because I wanted to know what happened next in their scenario. Top-notch cinematography that was just right with jerky hand-held cameras, and terrific editing and sound design.

The product placements of the Coke beverages, Coke Zero and Coke Classic, along with what I believe were Marlboro cigarettes, undercut the gritty cine-journalism approach to the story. (Am I imagining the distinctive red Marlboro logo on two rapid-edit scenes at the main black site?)

The prominence of a Classic Coke glass bottle on the cafeteria dining room table at CIA headquarters when James Gandolfini sits down at Jessica Chastain's table, literally put Coke and the CIA together for today's movie consumer.

How much was paid to the producers to have product placements in "Zero Dark Thirty"? Don't know, but as I read the end credits I took note of the two product placement coordinators listed, a sure sign of the import of this element in the film's creation.

Among the supporting acting standouts are Jennifer Ehle who knocked my socks off as a CDC epidemiologist in Steven Soderborg's "Contagion", and the hunky and hirsute Edgar Ramirez who ironically was so memorable as the lead in Olivier Assayas's film "Carlos", the terrorist nicknamed the Jackal.

Terrific filmmaking, terrible politics were the top take-home messages of "Zero Dark Thirty" for this viewer.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

OCC Says Castro Gay Cop On-Duty at MUMC Meeting

Here's the latest information regarding my complaint from November filed with the Office of Citizens Complaints against out gay police officer Chuck Limbert, but first a quick recap.

On November 1, the Mission Station's Limbert was in plainclothes at the monthly meeting of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro providing security services. He informed me and other activists that he was off-duty, as he told us where to sit, how to behave and when to leave.

The crux of my OCC complaint was that Capt. Bob Moser of the Mission Station wasted resources attending the meeting himself, along with 6-8 uniformed officers patrolling outside the meeting and a few inside, and that it needed to be determined if Limbert was indeed off-duty on November 1.

There was a mediation hearing on December 18 at 25 Van Ness Avenue. In attendance were two mediators, Moser, nudist and co-complainant Rusty Mills and myself. Limbert called the OCC mediator Donna Salazar earlier that morning to inform her that he was ill with the flu and would not be attending. Mediation took place anyway despite his absence and both sides felt it was productive.

Last Wednesday, January 9, in a phone conversation I had with Salazar where we were trying to figure out a date for mediation with Limbert, she accessed a police personnel database to check on his work schedule. No date was found by Salazar when we could set up that mediation with him.

At my request, she looked at what the database reported for November 1 and she told me that it showed Limbert was on-duty that date.

Salazar and I discussed if a report had been filed by Limbert after the MUMC meeting, or if I could get verification of his on-duty status on November 1. She recommended that I contact Moser (I did via email), and to also see if police headquarters at the Hall of Justice had such a report (I left vmail for that division).

A week later, despite additional emails to Moser to verify if Limbert was on-duty, I've not heard back from him or anyone on his staff.

I believe citizens have the right to know if a police officer is telling the truth when he claims he is not on-duty and performing security services for a private organizations. I've pursued this matter since November and expect it will take additional time before I hear from Moser, and a time is set for mediation between the co-complainants and Limbert.

Moser and Limbert have an obligation to perform their responsibilities without bias or hints of favoritism toward one Castro constituency over another. When Limbert is seen at many MUMC meetings in uniform and on duty, and then one month out of uniform claiming to be off duty and assisting MUMC, he's got the very clear appearance of a problem.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NAPWA's Web Site Melting Down?

The National Association of People With AIDS continues its downward spiral.

Every page on their malfunctioning web site is riddled with mumbo-jumbo code talk. There's no message from anyone at NAPWA explaining the problem and when it might be solved.

I hear that practically everyone at the organization has lawyered up for coming unspecified legal troubles. If there's any good news to be had from NAPWA, it's not made its way to my in-box.

Let me also kvetch about a totally offensive choice on NAPWA's part, speaking as a person with AIDS living with poz face and other lipodystrophy changes in my body. There web site is full of stock images of models. They are not PWAs.

Is it asking too much of NAPWA to show actual people living with AIDS and across the spectrum of the stages of the syndrome?

Just one more lousy example of how unconnected NAPWA is and has been for years to the PWA community. It's been an astro-turf organization sucking up millions of dollars from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serving as the phoney-baloney face of PWAs.

NAPWA's collapse and demise, which may have already occurred behind closed doors and with zero transparency, should not be mourned. Seeing it go out of business would be the first step in creating a better entity that is more than a front-group for the CDC and Big Pharma.
Gay Pol's Assembly Bid Opens With Airport Name Change Idea


Quick, think of San Francisco's out gay District 9 member of the Board of Supervisors David Campos', pictured, signature piece of LGBT legislation passed in his first four years in office. Yeah, I can't think of anything either.

When it comes to a piece of non-LGBT legislation he's pushed through the board's approval process, what readily comes to mind is the soon to launch free transit for economically disadvantaged youths on Muni, a program I strongly support.

But what exactly is the Campos record on creating affordable housing for low and moderate income gays or any gay matter of substance? Wish I can rattle off a long list from memory, but I'm hard-pressed to think of signature efforts or laws he's responsible for.

Campos wants to replace out gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who is termed out from the state legislature in 2014, and just as he succeeded Ammiano on the board Campos wants to repeat that line of succession at the state level.

With so little to point to in terms of widely known signature gay accomplished in his first board term, Campos needs to quickly change that dynamic.

At today's board meeting, Campos will proposed the name of San Francisco International Airport to Harvey Milk International Airport. Ostensibly, this is about another in an endless series of branding opportunities for the legacy of Milk, a man who well deserves many of the memorializing already in place in San Francisco.

But the real objective of the Campos name change is an opportunity to brand himself with the Milk legacy and finally have a signature piece of gay-related legislation to his name. When Campos introduces his legislation today, it will be the opening bid in his campaign for assembly.

The widespread attention Campos is receiving today across the mainstream media, the blogosphere and among LGBT people across the country with money to donate to gay candidates, is accomplishing an important task for Campos - raising his profile.

Personally, I wish Campos were today proposing naming an affordable housing complex (ready-for-occupancy) for LGBT people, or something else of direct benefit to the daily needs of the city's LGBT community.

Never doubt the lengths an ambitious LGBT politician in San Francisco will go to in order to wrap themselves in Milk's legacy, as they work toward moving up the political ladder.
Sunshining the Donations of Aaron Swartz's Prosecutor


Even if I weren't facing a privacy misdemeanor charge and the zealous prosecution by San Francisco's district attorney George Gascon, I would still have great concern over the suicide of web activist and transparency advocate Aaron Swartz, pictured, due in part to the judicial hounding of him by federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz.



Swartz had allegedly obtained scholarly articles and shared them for free on the web. With the full backing and vast resources of the Department of Justice, Ortiz, pictured, charged him with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and harming a protected computer in July 2011.

On January 11, Swartz tragically took his own life at the age of 26.

Here's my small contribution to bringing some justice to Swartz's life and legacy. I am sunshining the political donations of Ortiz, such as they are.
 
At the federal level, according to the Political Money Line, she has made no contributions to national candidates or PACs.


8/31/2006   Ortiz, Carmen 
[Redacted], MA 02186
Attorney
Department of Justice
Reilly, Thomas F. $250.00





In Massachusetts, a search of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance database reveals Ortiz has donated a total of $950 from 2002 through 2006 to the political campaigns of Thomas F. Reilly when he ran for state attorney general and the governor's office. Her most recent donation is shown above.

Not much, I admit, but still I feel it's important to remember one crucial lesson of Swartz's lifetime of advocacy and that is to make information transparent and that is what I am doing with Ortiz's donations.

Finally, I've signed the petition to the White House to remove Ortiz from her federal prosecutor's job. If there is any justice in this matter, she will soon no longer be a prosecutor.

Monday, January 14, 2013

CDC's Black Gay HIV Prevention Chief Resigned in Nov. 


Honest communication is an integral component to averting new HIV infections, but when it comes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention being upfront about its prevention program and the man who used to lead it, Dr. Kevin Fenton, pictured, the health agency receives poor marks.

My first post on Fenton was in January 2006 when he first began his CDC tenure, and I commented on how his gayness and his partner's were omitted from the agency's announcement about his hiring. FYI, he was born in Jamaica and attended medical school there. Links to my other Fenton posts are here. An internal memo leaked to me said:

Family: A native of the U.K., Fenton now resides in Atlanta, with his partner of seven years. In December, their family was expanded to include a beautiful Basset hound named Avery.

We learned the name of the couple's dog but not the name of Fenton's partner, and Fenton being gay was left on the cutting room floor. That same spirit of obfuscation was at play in December when Fenton quietly resigned from his federal position.



Only one news outlet, gay or straight, reported on his resignation that was tendered in November and the outlet was Project Q Atlanta for the LGBT community, in a story by Matt Hennie. I've cribbed the resignation letter from Project Q Atlanta. Bravo to them for breaking this important development. Hennie reported:

Fenton leaves the CDC on Dec. 21 and will become the Health Improvement & Population Health director for Public Health England, a new national agency that opens its doors in April. CDC Director Thomas Frieden told agency staffers that Rima Khabbaz, director of the CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases, will fill Fenton’s position while a national search is conducted. “Kevin will be responsible for improving health and wellbeing services and tackling health inequalities throughout England,” Frieden says in his email. “This prestigious appointment also allows Kevin to return home to be with his long-time partner, family and friends . . . ”

Seven-years after accepting the job, the CDC still can't simply name Fenton's long-time partner. What's up with that?

In early December, Dyana Bagby writing for the GA Voice news site, spoke with Fenton and reported on a signature accomplishment of his, a direct advertising effort targeting at-risk men of color:

“As a gay man and gay leader, I’m always been committed to ensuring we can do the best we can for the communities that are hardest hit,” he said.

Over the last seven years the CDC has ramped up HIV testing, creating culturally competent resources and utilizing social marketing campaigns such as “Testing Makes Us Stronger” to reach populations most at risk. “The Testing Makes Us Stronger” campaign is the first time the CDC really showed strong images of black gay men and also showed that caring about one’s health is valuable.

Kudos to Bagby and GA Voice for shedding light on the resignation and larger picture.

My evaluation of Fenton is that he brought a welcomed non-alarmist approach to HIV prevention, put resources into reaching black and Latino men, spent a good deal of time listening to service agencies and critics of the CDC, the community agencies and the fear-driven messaging of too many social marketing campaigns.

Wishing him all the best on his return to the United Kingdom and in his new healthcare position.

Unfortunately, the CDC has not issued an alert about Fenton stepping down and being replaced by Dr. Rima Khabbaz on an acting-basis at their HIV prevention page, nor is there an announcement about this leadership change, and how the CDC is conducting the search to appoint someone to replace Fenton, on the agency's site.

The CDC needs to do a much better job of engaging everyone working on HIV prevention, starting with immediate transparent discussions about where the agency will take prevention programs in the post-Fenton era.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Videos: Bare-Breasted Gay Anti-Pope Protest at the Vatican

My friend Bill Wilson is back from his extended stay in Rome, and he today shared with me the video from the La Repubblica newspaper and TV outlet of the pro-gay protest at the Vatican this morning during the Pope's homily.

Four women from the Ukrainian feminist activist group FEMEN bared their breasts, chests and backs with the messages of "In Gay We Trust" and "Shut Up" painted on their flesh.



This video is only 48 seconds long and provides the gist of what transpired during the demonstration in St. Peter's Square, but La Repubblica wasn't the only news source present to capture the action.




The Il Fatto Quotidiano news outlet made this almost three-minute video report that shows the young women protesters sure put up a fight when dealing with the Italian police. They appeared an uncooperative as possible, eventually being dragged then carried out of the square.

What were the reasons for the protest? Reuters provides the answers:

The Vatican underlined its opposition to gay adoption on Sunday as same-sex marriage supporters staged a topless protest in front of the pope in St. Peter's Square.

The Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano published a response to an Italian court's rejection of an appeal by a father who feared his son would not have a balanced upbringing if he lived with his mother and her female partner.
The Court of Cassation ruled it was "mere prejudice" to assume that living with a homosexual couple could be detrimental for a child's development.

While gay rights group Arcigay called it a "historic ruling" for Italy, where it is illegal for gay couples to adopt, Catholic leaders were quick to defend the traditional family unit.

Brava, to the courageous women of FEMEN for this provocative act that rightfully generated a good deal of mainstream media attention.
Vietnam Jails Bloggers for Political Reporting

(Bloggers and political activists, right, stand for sentencing in a Vietnamese court a few days ago. Credit: AFP/Vietnam News Agency.)

The Committee to Protect Journalists last week called attention to the continuing grinding down of independent bloggers and reporters in Vietnam, with prosecutions and stiff sentences from the judicial system.

Needless to say, as an independent blogger who frequently displeases the powerful and politicians with access to law enforcement agencies that create legal hassles for me, I stand in strong solidarity with the Vietnamese bloggers and journalists under attack by their government.

From CPJ's account:

At least five independent bloggers were sentenced today to harsh jail terms in Vietnam, according to local and international news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns this move and calls on Vietnamese authorities to reverse the charges on appeal and release the bloggers.

In a two-day trial, a court in the city of Vinh convicted and sentenced the bloggers on charges of participating in "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration" and "undermining of national unity" and of participating in "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," news reports said . . .  Political activists were also convicted on the same charges and sentenced, the reports said. All of the individuals received between three and 13 years in prison, news reports said.

"These harsh sentences demonstrate the outrageous lengths that Vietnamese authorities are willing to go to suppress independent reporting," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Southeast Asia representative. 

Release the bloggers, reporters and political activists currently held in Vietnamese jails!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekend Woof #24:
Sexy Smiles and Muscle Runner

There was no Weekend Woof last weekend because I was starting to feel ill with the flu, so here is the first batch of woofy dudes for the new year.

I got to the new Korean restaurant at Dolores and 18th Street too late for lunch the other day, and this young and friendly waiter invited me back for dinner two-hours later. The food is supposed to be simply fabulous and I'm looking forward to trying their soup.

Say hello to my good friend Todd, my country queer brother visiting from Sebastapol this weekend. This is his serious look for my camera.

While this is the smiling Todd posing for this series, after we had a great vegan lunch at Ananda Fuare in the Civic Center area.


This grinning sushi chef is Lee from the Warakubune sushi boat restaurant on Church Street, who serves incredibly fresh and affordable raw fish from behind the counter of passing boats in the miniature canal. I snapped the photo during one of the rare times he leaves his station.


The weather in San Francisco today is the warmest its been all week, and this jogging muscle hunk found the temperature perfect for running without a shirt or hat.


Here he from the backside sporting a tattoo between his upper shoulder blade. From the front, I thought he had the shaved head look I admire.

As always, big thanks to the guys for striking poses and smiles for this series, and for dudes without shirts!

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here