Thursday, September 30, 2010

SF Mayor Signs Supervisor's Resolution
for Gay Serbian March on 10/10/10

The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, today signed a resolution introduced by Board of Supervisor member Bevan Dufty, that passed unanimously at Tuesday's weekly board meeting, and they again make me proud of my city's deep commitment and activism on behalf of global gay solidarity.

Special thanks to Bevan, for rapidly moving on my request for the statement. I extend laurels and kudos to the Mayor, all of the Supervisors, and the City Hal staffers who made the resolution a reality, and who stand with gay Serbians.

A reminder. On Friday, October 9 at noon, Gays Without Borders holds a press conference at the Serbian Mission to the United Nations, located on 5th Avenue near E. 67th Street. We will present the Serbian Ambassador the UN with a solidarity letter signed by many important gay leaders, community activists and politicians. Please join us.

Below is the image of the Mayor's signature on the resolution, making it official city policy, then the text of the statement:

Resolution No. 438-10
ADOPTED: Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco

Resolution supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) marchers and their supporters as they peacefully exercise their human right to be visible in the streets, free from violence and fear, during the Gay Pride Parade in Belgrade, Serbia on October, 10, 2010.

WHEREAS, The Gay Pride Parade on October, 10, 2010, in Belgrade, Serbia will be the first gay rights march in Belgrade since 2001, when anti-gay extremists attacked the participants and forced the event’s cancellation; and

WHEREAS, A parade was planned for 2009 but was called off hours before it began because bodily harm was threatened against the participants; and

WHEREAS, A survey by the Youth Initiatives for Human Rights indicated that Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender persons experienced widespread discrimination, threats, hate speech, verbal assault, and physical violence in Serbia; and

WHEREAS, Serbia’s Gay community has received violent threats when it announced plans for the October 10, 2010 parade; and

WHEREAS, Serbian Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic has made a public commitment to protect the safety of the marchers on October 10, 2010, and Serbian police have pledged to protect the Belgrade Gay Pride Parade; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors supports the LGBT marchers and their supporters as they peacefully exercise their human right to be visible in the streets, free from violence and fear, during the Gay Pride Parade in Belgrade, Serbia, on October 10, 2010; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors shall transmit copies of this resolution to Serbian Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic, Serbian Ambassador to the United Nations Feodor Starcevic, Serbian Ambassador to the United States H. E. Vladimir Petrovic, Serbian Consul General in Chicago Desko Nikitovic, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, United States Ambassador to Serbia Mary Burce Warlick, and Belgrade Pride Organizers Lazar Pavlovic, Boban Stojanovic, and Adorjan Kurucz.

Weak GLSEN Statement Omits Victims' Names;
No Pressure on Obama

As I predicted yesterday, GLSEN's statement on the recent deaths of gay or questioning kids - Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas - and the suicide of college student Tyler Clementi, fails to call on either President Obama or the Education Department and its silent Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings to raise their voices about the suicides and bullying.

From the get-go, the statement is not about the kids and the bullying. It's about the media stories:

Recently, there has been heightened media attention surrounding the suicides in New Jersey, Texas, California, Indiana, and Minnesota of several youth who were known to be bullied relentlessly because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Must be too much trouble to name the victims. Why the silence about the names?

These horrific stories across the country reflect on school bullying culture and how it can lead to tragedy. Such cases are not new, but actually do reveal an important trend: the public is becoming more informed and in tune to the realities that adversely affect our youth. However, it is now up to the public to not just be aware, but to be active in changing this reality.

Um, allow to disagree and say the cases I named above are indeed new and represent a frightening rise. And what important to GLSEN out of the anguish the families and friends of the dead are going through right now, along with the grief and anger in the gay community? An unsourced claim of a trend of a more informed public.

Instead of demanding at least some speaking out from Barack Obama and Kevin Jennings, GLSEN says "the public" has change the situation. Might be easier for "the public" to do that, if our Fierce Advocate and the Safe School Czar were lobbied to end their silence.

Groups like the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and The Trevor Project have been working to educate the public on this issue, and, more importantly create ways for us to put an end to these tragedies.

Okay enough, the standard self-promotion of the orgs behind the weak statement, but what are the ways in which they're trying to halt the deaths?

Through policy efforts to pass legislation like the Safe Schools Improvement Act (HR2262 and S3739) [...]

Like a law is going to change the public? Sorry, can't say I've seen much love coming from the public since the hate crimes law was signed last year, ostensibly to help gays. In case these orgs haven't noticed, the White House, the House and Senate, along with our Democratic Party friends are exactly burning the midnight oil or breaking into a sweat to pass any freaking law for fags. Suppose that Act did become law, I'd like to know how it will affect the thinking of the bullies.

While the orgs behind the release are too fearful of coming right out and saying the recent cases represent an escalation, none other than the p.r. guy for GLSEN said EXACTLY that yesterday to the Christian Science Monitor:

“It appears that what has always been a crisis is that much more severe right now,” says Daryl Presgraves, spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

In the five years that Mr. Presgraves has been tracking media reports of such cases, this past year has included the largest spike he’s seen, including the suicides of four students in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District who were reportedly discriminated against because they were gay or were perceived as gay.

If Presgraves can tell the Monitor that the latest deaths and bashings are more severe and causing a spiking, then GLSEN ought to say so in a statement. And now that we have this statement, what about some visible action, GLSEN?

Jennings to Speak on School Bullying;
GLSEN's 24-Word Statement

After four anti-gay-bullying suicides this month, and a broken arm suffered by a male cheerleader who was also subjected to bullying, America's Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings, who seems to be afflicted with Mute Gay Obama Appointee Syndrome, will end his silence on the tragic deaths and assaults. White House gay liaison Brian Bond, another appointee from the Gay Inc Democratic world, suffers the same syndrome.

With gay or questioning kids enduring verbal and physical abuse at school, and some school administrators ignoring the problems, and too many schools hostile environments for gays, I would think a school would be the best location for Jennings to break his silence, but he and his Education Department bosses see things differently.

He speaks tomorrow in public at a Manhattan restaurant. From ED.go:

Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, will discuss bullying and what parents and educators can do to stop it during his address to community leaders at the YMCA of Greater New York’s annual Legislative Breakfast. [...] The breakfast will take place at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at Tribeca Grill, 375 Greenwich St., New York City. Jack Lund, CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, will join Jennings.

Why bother going to an actual school where the bullies and gay kids attend classes, and use such an institution as a symbolic location, to really drive home a message? The Tribeca Grill is owned by a roster of celebrities headed by Robert De Niro and is not where the bullying problem exists.

And despite promising his and Jennings' former org GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, would have a joint statement ready to go today, spokesperson Daryl Presgraves has posted no such statement on their site, as of 11 am PST.

However, at GLSEN's Twitter page, and that of the executive director Eliza Byard, the following 24-word comment has been posted:

Amist [sic] tragic news, visible support is critical to LGBT student well-being. Thank you to school staff who are there for students every day.

What tragic news are they not spelling out for us? How about naming the victims and detailing what led to their early deaths? I'm all for that visible, and vocal, support for the bullied kids of _any_ sexual orientation, but I can't see GLSEN's, beyond this terse Twitter remark.

Shame on Jennings and GLSEN for such anemic reactions this week to the bullying suicides and attacks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GLSEN on Silence over Bullying Deaths;
Statement Coming Tomorrow
(Eliza Byard, GLSEN's current ED, listening to Obama adviser David Axelrod, on June 29, 2009. Will she jeopardize White House access and demand administration action? Credit: GLSEN.)

Before he joined the Obama administration as the Safe Schools Czar and took a vow of silence, Kevin Jennings was the executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, an advocacy org for safe learning environments for students. I checked GLSEN's site today, hoping to find a statement over the recent bully-driven suicides of two young male students, Adam Walsh and Asher Brown. My post on their deaths and Jennings' silence is here.

After nothing nothing nothing at the GLSEN site, I sent a query to the org's p.r. guy, Daryl Presgraves. He sent back this explanation:

We have not issued a statement. We are very concerned, obviously. But out of fear of suicide contagion, we have chosen to be cautious in our public response. I assure you we are working behind the scenes to address these specific incidences, but we are trying to tread carefully. We will have much to say in the coming weeks, including a new nationwide effort to make schools safer for LGBT youth. We want to make sure we do and say the right thing. [Emphasis mine.]

Of course, I was not the least bit satisfied with Daryl's reply and reasoning, so I sent him this:

I come out of the Silence = Death generation and never trust gay orgs when they say they're working behind the scenes, when we are dying from AIDS or bullying. Do you have proof that speaking about the bullying deaths does lead to copycat deaths?

As you know, GLSEN 's silence is on top of the silence from Kevin Jennings. So we have a professional advocacy org silent and the Safe Schools Czar is silent. I don't think that is the best way to deal with this deadly problem.

You say you want to tread carefully. Ok, but why? Who are you afraid of offending or what problems/harms would come from speaking about the Walsh and Brown deaths?

How do you respond to longtime gay activists like myself who want loud leadership from our orgs about this problem, which other bloggers are labeling an epidemic?

While I waited for Daryl's new response I came across this April 9, 2090, release from GLSEN, in which they not only speak about recent bullying deaths, but also exploited the most recent to promote their then-upcoming Day of Silence. Needless to say, I sent off a follow up, with new concerns. From GLSEN's 2009 statement:

An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hanged himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother's weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.

Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence. [...]

So, why a statement last year, but silence now? Lo and behold, in this reply Daryl goes on the defensive, and all of a sudden, it turns out his org is going to make a statement:

If you look on our Facebook page ( and Twitter page @glsen, I was very vocal until the Seth Walsh news broke. Then you'll notice a silence. I understand where you are coming from, but please understand we did not come by the decision to pull back publicly lightly. We may be wrong but it's a chance we were willing to take.

We are very proud of our work. (We also have had four different national staffers, including our ED, in a MN school district in the past two weeks. They've had 4 LGBT suicides in the past year. We're more than just an org that puts out statements.) There hasn't exactly been a dearth of gay orgs putting out statements. We are trying to be responsible. Please judge us by what we do the next two weeks not just the past few days.

For what it's worth, we will be releasing a statement tomorrow with our sister orgs that responsibly reflects our commitment to supporting young people. [Emphasis mine.]

Bravo, GLSEN! For in a matter of less than an hour having no statement at present, something in unnumbered weeks, you are going to be breaking your silence - tomorrow. Damn, I'm glad I opened my mouth about all this.

When the statement is released, I will curious to see if there is any backbone demanding action and speaking out from the White House and the Education Department.

For what it's worth, it's not just a simple matter of an advocacy org dedicated to fighting bullying to be vocal in offering condolences to families and friends of suicide victims, condemning the school officials that may have ignored the bullying, and also telling the gay community and politicians what the hell you're doing about the problem.

Silence is deadly. It has killed fags for centuries, in many forms and societies. I will not accept silence from Jennings and GLSEN with these new tragic deaths in California and Texas.

I speak as a gay man who was bullied in the 4th grade at Woodrow Wilson Grammar School in West Caldwell, NJ, because I played hopscotch with the girls. I was taunted as a sissy because I not only didn't play basketball, I didn't know its rules. This is mentioned to give you a sense of why I am so upset over the bullying deaths. I identify with the dead and bullied kids.

Sorry, Daryl and all the other professional gays at GLSEN, and your former boss Jennings, but I will not rest until you have properly fulfilled your duties. The dereliction of responsiblity to not be a silent observer is outrageous.

Finally, I will not suffer Gay Inc fools who think stating their org is working behind the scene is going to satisfy me. If that approach did any good for America's gays, DOMA and DADT would be in the dustbin of history, and we'd all be toasting the passage of ENDA.

(Eliza Byard, center, flanked on the left by Rea Carey of NGLTF, and Byrd's partner Eva Kolodner, at the Whtite House, June 29, 2010. Risk some access, on behalf of the dying bullied kids, please! Credit: NGLTF.)

Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings
Speaks on Gay Kids Bullied to Death?

There have been two deaths recently of school children who have died after making suicide attempts, after relentless anti-gay bullying by classmates. One of the late victims was a 13-year-old in California. From KGET's site:

Seth Walsh
Seth Walsh, the Tehachapi 13-year-old who hanged himself from a tree in his back yard after years of being bullied, died Tuesday afternoon after nine days on life support.

Tehachapi police investigators interviewed some of the young people who taunted Seth the day he hanged himself and determined despite the tragic outcome of their ridicule, their actions do not constitute a crime.

"Several of the kids that we talked to broke down into tears," Jeff Kermode, Tehachapi Police Chief, said. "They had never expected an outcome such as this."

He said the students told investigators they wish they had put a stop to the bullying and not participated in it.

Friends said Seth was picked on for years because he was gay. [...]

Down in Texas, another 13-year-old boy was driven to kill himself because of ceaseless bullying. From the Houston Chronicle:

Asher Brown
Asher Brown's worn-out tennis shoes still sit in the living room of his Cypress-area home while his student progress report — filled with straight A's — rests on the coffee table.

The eighth-grader killed himself last week. He shot himself in the head after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.

Brown, his family said, was "bullied to death" — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.

The 13-year-old's parents said they had complained about the bullying to Hamilton Middle School officials during the past 18 months, but claimed their concerns fell on deaf ears. [...]

A Google news and blog search reveal that Kevin Jennings, an openly gay appointee of President Obama's to run the Department of Education's Safe Schools program, made the following statement about the grief-inducing deaths of Seth Walsh and Asher Brown:

"_____________________________________________," said Kevin Jennings.

This good gay Democrat's deafening silence is a tragic testament of how Jennings has allowed himself into being bullied into that silence by rightwing nutcases. What benefit is Jennings' muteness at this time? Who in the Obama administration has forced him to take a vow of silence. Did Jennings take lessons from Clintonista Richard Socarides in how to be a gay Democrat and screw the community, while maintaining an administration job?

Shame on Kevin Jennings. Seth and Asher are dead, will never speak again, and the Safe School Czar ain't got no nothing to say.

Let Jennings know you're not the least bit happy with his continuing silence. Send him some email:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

HRC, Courage Campaign Nuke a Gnat;
Democrats Get a Pass

For the past year, at least, gay frustration with Democrats and party leaders has hit new highs and even spawned a donor boycott against the Democratic National Committee. A message from the grass and netroots is being sent to Democrats. Stop screwing us and deliver on your many promises. Without question, from smart gay elites to most self-respecting community members, more of us are upset with this party.

And how do our un-elected, out-of-touch-with-homo-reality leaders Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign and Rick Jacobs of the fiefdom known as the Courage Campaign tap into our widespread anger with the Democrats? They don't.


Joe and Rick act like the Democratic stooges I know them to be. They are diverting attention away from the party, with little more than a month before the crucial midterm elections, and asking the community to applaud them for nuking the National Organization for Marriage. Did I miss the surveys and town halls getting community feedback about this diversionary plan before the elections?

HRC and CC have concocted the NOM Exposed web site, with lots of info on the nutcases behind the anti-gay-marriage org, that holds no sway over the U.S. Congress and has a rundown bus-and-truck roadshow traveling the country. Yawn. NOM leader Maggie Gallagher is this year's Anita Bryant, and that is who Joe and Rick are targeting.


Hello? Planet Queer to Joe and Rick, you're missing the real target: the Democrats.

Real homosexual leadership would see HRC and CC created the DNC Exposed web site, examining how we're more being screwed than helped by our friends the Democrats. If HRC and CC were worth more than a warm spittoon of gob, they would now be launching an assault on the political party that really owes us fags a few long-overdue favors.

But good Democratic homosexuals Joe and Rick are not about to upset their access to the DNC leadership. Joe and HRC continue to endow the Democrats with millions of gay dollars. HRC executives would rather eat razor blades than stand up to the DNC.

Rick is a longtime heavyhitter donor at the federal level. In 2006 his contributions totalled $31,500 to Democratic candidates and PACs. During 2008 the donations to Democrats came to $10,550. For Rick's other donations in additional years, check out his FEC files. Such largesse doesn't lead me to think Rick is interested in upseting his DNC buddies with an effort to expose their lies.

By the way, I couldn't locate a figure for how much money is going into the NOM Exposed effort. It's not on their site. Adam Bink at a CC site omitted a cost figure, as did Andrew Belonsky at Towleroad. Like slaves to Gay Inc, Adam and Andrew run the entire NOM Exposed release, fail to raise any mild questions about it, omit cost info and don't ask how much the project director, Kevin Nix, is getting paid. So much for holding our orgs accountable.

NOM Exposed? We need DNC Exposed.

Should Gay MSM Reporters
Question GLAAD's Stewardship?

(Mr. Barrios, in Florida last week. Credit: Jon Schwenzer, of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.)

More than a week has passed since I emailed 10 simple questions to executives at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Arcus Foundation, regarding an $80,000 grant the former received from the latter, and I'm still waiting for answers from these community groups.

Yesterday I spoke with Carol Snapp, head of communications for Arcus, who said she would see about someone getting back to me. Haven't heard a peep from them. Let's recap the situation.

I blogged about this info on the Arcus site:

$80,000 for support of the Digital and Online Media Program to strengthen the ability of LGBT blogs to mobilize readers to take action, amplify their messages in the mainstream media and become more financially sustainable.

To confuse matters, inaccurately reported this claim, in reference to my post:

[GLAAD] was supposedly setting up a $80,000 grant fund for LGBT bloggers [...]

I never wrote that, but that bit of truth didn't get in the way of GLAAD executive assistant Richard Ferraro from saying this to

"The blog post that Queerty references in this article says that GLAAD received an outside grant to set up a 'grant fund for LGBT bloggers' where GLAAD was supposed to delegate funds to LGBT/progressive writers. This is wrong. The grant was not intended or given for this reason. It was given to build GLAAD’s internal capacity to better work with bloggers and to do media advocacy in the digital space. "

Um, no, the blog post Queerty references never said the Arcus grant was to set up a fund for gay bloggers, so why is GLAAD telling a lie? And if the grant was to help GLAAD's bloated infrastructure, that is at direct odds with what info is posted at Arcus.

At this point, it is necessary for Arcus leaders to make the GLAAD grant in question publicly available on the web. Good community relations with these orgs demands a full transparency effort on their part to open the documents, for all to see.

Separately, I wish to raise the issue of gay mainstream reporters and their role, if any, in holding GLAAD leaders accountable. At Steve Rothaus' blog over at the Miami Herald site, he on Monday called attention to Jarrett Barrios making an appearance at a fundraiser for the org in Florida. Rothaus linked to a photo stream of the event, and his post was no more than two-sentences long.

Also on Monday, MarketingMag reported on a GLAAD panel in the Big Apple, that was headed by the powerful ad industry beat reporter Stuart Elliott from the Gray Lady:

While the marketing and advertising industry has long-targeted specific ethnicity-based demographics it's only recently that brands have begun to recognize the potential of marketing to the gay community.

The opening day of Advertising Week 2010 in New York marked the first time the issue has been discussed at the conference. GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios opened the panel discussion, called "Gays & Lesbians: Know Them?" by saying the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community has seen a lot more legal and cultural acceptance in the last 25 years, but advertising is still lagging.

The panel, [was] moderated by New York Times' advertising columnist Stuart Elliott, [...]

On the surface there's nothing inherently wrong with a short blog item mentioning a GLAAD fundraiser, or a NY Times writer participating in a GLAAD-sponsored discussion. But digging a bit deeper, I see two instances of mainstream gay reporters not questioning GLAAD's serious identity and cash problems, and those instances are in the larger framework of no serious scrutiny by the straight media to report on GLAAD's troubles and dissatisfaction from bloggers and former co-chair Laurie Perper.

I'd like to see gay and straight reporters in the mainstream press look behind the curtain at GLAAD. There is a legitimate story to be reported about what is happening behind the gala receptions and ad industry panels.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rearranging Deck Chairs 
on the Sinking SF Gay Center

(Fire sale notice at the main entrance to 1800 Market Street. Photo taken tonight around 7:30.)

Our local community center continues to repulse ordinary gays, who stay away from the empty shell of a center. The latest sad chapter in the death-watch of the center comes from reporter Chris Roberts over at the SF Appeal site today.

Imitating the crew on the S.S. Titanic after hitting the iceberg, center executives and politicians rearrange the deck chairs, desperate to find anyone with a couple bucks to step inside the center.

The SF Appeal writes:

In its quest to become fiscally-sound, San Francisco's LGBT Center wants to rent itself out to a bar, a club, a restaurant, a theater; and no part of the 35,000 square-foot center is off limits to prospective renters, the center's executive director said Monday.

The Market Street institution has been losing money for years, running $250,000 in the red recently, according to executive director Rebecca Rolfe. That led the city to float the center a $157,000 loan earlier in the year, a cash injection needed to satisfy the $3.15 million the Center still owes to the Nevada bank that financed its construction.

Changes to the city's zoning laws, introduced by Castro representative Supervisor Bevan Dufty, would allow the center to rent out up to 6,999 square feet of its 35,000 square feet to new prospective tenants.  [...]

After Dufty's legislation clears the full Board of Supervisors over the next few weeks, prospective tenants could begin issuing bids to use the property as early as next month, Rolfe said. [...]

Just how hungry is the center to bring in some dollars? The sign on the front door announcing that office space is up for rent suggests efforts to find tenants by listing the availability on CraigsList and other web sites have failed, so the center posts another S.O.S. notice.

It was time years ago to stop putting band-aids over the gaping holes sinking the San Francisco gay center, and the Board of Supervisors must halt enabling this dysfunctional, and costly, experiment at community engagement by the A-Gays. We must face up to these cold, hard facts: the gays have rejected the center, it's political purpose and refuse to open wallets for it.

Political egos created and killed this monstrosity. Neither Bevan nor Rebecca were part of the crew that developed this center, and I don't like that they are mopping up the mess others made. Let me name the two culprits responsible for giving us the center.

They are: Scott Shafer, a former gay Democratic political operative who served as chief of staff to Gray Davis when he was CA State Controller and is now a reporter for KQED radio. And Dana Van Gorder, another such Democratic operative, who lives in the East Bay and did back when he was the prime mover of the center, who has served as associate and executive director at San Francisco AIDS Inc orgs.

Together, all of those folks should do the movement a favor. Admit the center was a mistake, has failed, and gracefully and with some dignity allow the center to go out of business.

And please, dear community, the next time A-Gays come around with a house-of-cards scheme lacking in support from rank-and-file queers, and they proffer an expensive proposition in the name of "unity," just say no.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

HRC Gave How Much Money
to Dems Since 1998?
During the Watergate scandal, the man leaking much damaging information that helped bring down President Richard Nixon, associate director of the FBI Mark Felt, alias Deep Throat, offered three words of advice to unravel the mysteries of the crimes committed by Nixon and his staff: follow the money. Good advice at any time.

I decided to see what data on the Human Rights Campaign's donations to Democratic and Republican federal candidates and PACs was available for public inspection at the OpenSecrets site.

The data stretches back only to 1998. I extracted amounts given by HRC to Senate and House incumbents and challengers, and PACs, then added them up by party for a given election cycle. Here is the rough breakdown:

Dems = $828,950
GOP  = $109,425

Dems = $935,536
GOP  = $139,500
Dems = $1,200,800
GOP  = $192,835

Dems = $1,191,151
GOP  = $114,850

Dems = $776,424
GOP  = $79,835

Dems = $1,294,504
GOP  = $52,789

Dems = $646,500
GOP  = $18,838

For the most recent twelve-year period, HRC gave $6,891,865 to national Democrats and assorted party PACs.

Over that same time, HRC's donations to GOP politicians and PACs came to $708,072.

What did the gay community get from HRC funneling nearly $7 million to the Democrats since 1998? A hate crimes bill that has greatly benefited Matthew Shepard Inc, but done so little to prevent attacks against gays and nothing to move employment or housing protections forward.

And the $708,072 to the GOP side bought us nothing of lasting value, but allows HRC to maintain the fiction that they're a bipartisan org.

To be fair, some of those millions helped lift the HIV travel and immigration ban, and that is something I applaud HRC and AIDS organizations for accomplishing.

What about your thoughts on HRC contributing almost $7 million to Democratic candidates and PACs? Are you satisfied with what those seven million gay dollars bought us?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gay Serbs Release Fabulous 
10/10/10 Pride Promo

On Thursday the organizers of the October 10 Gay Pride Parade, that starts at 10 AM in Belgrade, released a subtle and emotionally powerful promotional video.

It conveys a sense of not being able to clearly come and show gay folks, as they're getting ready to spring into action, they take to the streets, low-key music plays on the soundtrack, a narrator speaks in Serbian, the rainbow flag weaves across the screen, and the gays hold hands. My activist heart was aflutter!

Watch this:

Don't forget. There will be a picket and press conference on Friday, October 8, at noon at the Serb UN Mission, 5th Avenue and 67th Street. Be there if you can, and show your solidarity with gay Serbs.

One Bloody HIV Vote for Jerry Brown


For most of this week, I've had nosebleeds strike without reason and the bleeding in the middle of the night was beyond freaky. When the bleeding starts, I follow the advice of Nurse Dafna from the Castro Mission Health Center to stop the flowing bodily fluid. Calming my nerves is another story, and early on Thursday morning as I was trying to get back to sleep my mind flashed on the possibility that Republican Meg Whitman could be the next governor of California. A political nightmare on top of a personal health scare.

With my clean nostril covered with Vaseline, the bleeding over, and sleep about to resume, I decided to vote for Democratic Party candidate Jerry Brown for governor. Whoever captures the state's top office, they're going to have to deal with making cuts in the HIV/AIDS budget, across several state agencies that directly impact me, and it ain't gonna be easy choosing where to scale back or eliminate a program.

My general rule of thumb when voting in a general election is to cast a ballot for the Greens or another third/independent party. For me voting Democratic is a waste, and I'm usually more inclined to use my ballot to chip away at the duopoly of American politics. Not this year for the gubernatorial race in California.

A few reasons why I'm voting for Jerry Brown this year. To start, he's been to the rodeo before and knows how Sacramento works, he's a hands-on type of office-holder, has been a mostly compassionately engaged politician and occasional gadfly. During his time as Mayor of Oakland, I saw him plenty on the local news or read about his actions on blogs.

Compare Brown fully devoting his attention to fixing Oakland's problems, and giving folks the lowdown, you should pardon the expression, straight, to the obnoxious, slumbering and arrogant tenure of Ron Dellums as Mayor. What you get is a clearer picture of how Brown puts his various life experiences to the advantage of citizens and improving things at the neighborhood/street level, while a less experienced hand is learning the ropes.

Here's another reason why I'm for Brown. In the fall of 1992, a few days after he announced his candidacy for the Oval Office, I attended a town hall meeting of his in Boston. I was moving up to New Hampshire to launch an ACT UP chapter there for the coming primary, to guarantee AIDS issues would be on that year's election agenda.

Brown spoke for no more than 2-3 minutes of introduction at the Boston College auditorium then asked folks to raise their hands, identify themselves and ask a question on anything. My hand was the first up, he called on me, and I set out to make some news.

After identifying myself and my cause, I asked him two questions. "What are you going to do about AIDS and lack of effective treatments? Also, do you personally practice safe sex?" Some in the audience were surprised at the last question, but not Brown. He asked me what I would do about treatments, and I spoke about ACT UP's plans to change clinical trials and the drug approval process, and he said he would look at our ideas, and tried to move on to the questioner.

"But what practicing safe sex? Do you engage in it?" I asked, while standing making sure he knew I wouldn't sit down without a reply.

"It's none of your business," he said, mostly in good humor and the audience laughed. Both the Globe and the Herald the next day gave our exchange some ink, and the start of AIDS being a 1992 campaign issue began. The experience showed me up close how he pulls people in to help him formulate a position, and when necessary, to tell someone to bug off.

But I digress, and the matter before me is my HIV blood and which candidate is (way) more apt to make hard budgetary decisions, that will do the least harm to the greatest number of people. All of my political conviction would never allow me to cast a vote for candidate like Whitman, who for too long showed no interest in a basic component of democracy, voting regularly.

Sure, he's not perfect and I've disagreed with his views on the death penalty and other issues, and expect to be criticizing from his face day back in the governor's office.

And while in less desperate times for California I would be voting Green or independent, dirty and frightening nosebleeds, this time around, Jerry Brown has earned my trust, respect and vote. Who would I choose to help me at 2 AM contend with a bloody nose, Jerry or Meg?

Next week, I'm putting a Brown for Governor sign in our front window.

HRC's Leader-for-Life:
David M. Smith - Fire the Bastard!

(From the left: David Smith, Elizabeth Birch, Cathy Nelson, and Joe Solmonese, celebrating the signing of the Hate Crimes Act on October 28, 2009. Photo credit: National Conference on Civil and Human Rights.)

This week's failed Don't Ask, Don't Tell train wreck is the fault of many political leaders, gay and straight, but there is one key architect of the gay side's strategy who is escaping attention and criticism. His name is David M. Smith, a longtime vice president at the Human Rights Campaign.

Back in the spring of 1993 when I still resided in Washington, I met David at the opening of the P Street office for the Campaign for Military Service. He was a lieutenant in CMS, which was a Gay Inc collaboration, with the late Tom Stoddard and David Mixner at the helm. David is a creation of many useless or ineffective professional advocacy orgs.

I found David to be an arrogant bastard, with an irritating argument about how CMS and its allies were going to lift the military's ban on gays, and he offer little proof of actual grassroots support among the street activist orgs. Of course, CMS failed and President Clinton steamrolled over the org to create the DADT we have today.

Here it is 16-17 years later, the policy is still in place, as is David in his role as setter of the HRC agenda, and to some degree the gay agenda in DC. HRC executive directors come and go, but David stays. From the tail-end of the Tim McFeeley tenure, to Elizabeth Birch and Cheryl Jacques, on through the Joe Solmonese years, David remains firmly entrenched, making key decisions on our legislative agenda.

With more than a decade-and-a-half to organize for the day when we have a Democratic White House, the party controlling both the Senate and House, what was part of the major public engagement plan pieced together by David? A minor red-headed reality star comic headlining a rally, that was zapped by GetEQUAL leaders, and in key House or Senate districts and states, the planting of America flag at statehouse grounds, symbolizing the missing activist troops from HRC's efforts at the local level.

As I've said in the past about my occasional adversary, the former publisher of the Washington Blade Chris Crain, moderate voices such as his have long warned us about the crappy strategy of David and the executive directors at HRC. Crain, from June 2009:

I've been writing for years and years about the tragic willingness of those in "leadership" roles of the gay rights movement to cut deals that betray their supposed constituents. Joe Solmonese and David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign are archetypes of this pathetic trend -- grossly overpaid lobbyists who spend far more political capital lowering the expectations of gays on behalf of the Democratic Party than they do pressuring for equality in Washington.

On his blog yesterday, Andrew Sullivan called for Solmonese to be fired, after a path to DADT repeal went down in flames in the Senate. While I surely wouldn't mind if that happened and Solmonese went to work for his real bosses at the Democratic National Committee, or began a new career in the fashion world, Andrew shouldn't have been so narrow in his call for who to let go at HRC.

David M. Smith should be made to walk the plank, yes, for the DADT repeal disaster, but also for actively putting Democratic Party needs first, and selling the gay community down the Potomac River, for almost two horribly long decades of minuscule federal progress for ordinary gays.

To improve our lot in Washington, we'd be most wise to pay very close attention to the man behind the HRC curtain.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cleve's March Gets Pass from GetEQUAL;
435 Congressional District Teams?

Last summer and fall, Robin McGehee and Kip Williams were leaders with Cleve Jones in organizing a gay march on Washington. One of the many grand, and broken, promises they made to the community included a supposedly already-existing network of activists, numbering in the hundreds.

A release from march leaders, made the following claim:

"Equality Across America (EAA) is a network of decentralized organizers in every one of the 435 Congressional districts. These organizers form Congressional District Action Teams (CDATs) that work within their own communities to achieve full equality for LGBT Americans and their families. [...] The event will be held Saturday, October 10, and Sunday, October 11, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Each EAA Congressional District Action Team will mobilize its community to attend the event."

After the march, the Bay Area Reporter wrote about how those teams weren't exactly coming together:

From the beginning, Jones insisted that the event would be a scaled down affair, with the only goal of the march being full federal equality and that the way to best achieve that would be to establish action teams in all 435 congressional districts across the country.

It remains to be seen exactly how many of those teams have been formed. Jones said Tuesday that he thinks groups have formed in some 200 districts. "But that's kind of fuzzy," he added.

Unfortunately, those teams never materialized, but a few months after the big promise of the Congressional district organizers was made, McGehee and Williams, along with others, started GetEQUAL, at an invitation-only retreat in February. Too bad they and Jones didn't deliver those promised teams.

Today, GetEQUAL released pretty good vid, visually and politically speaking, but with the most annoying and distracting music-track, looking at historical promised made to the gays by the likes of Pelosi, Senator Harry Reid, Congressman Barny Frank, and Human Rights Campaign leader Joe Solmonese. Check it out:

I have no problem attacking Democratic Party leaders for their failures to deliver change to the gay community, but GetEQUAL is too restrictive in who they single out for criticism.

Why no footage of Republicans and their trashing of us and our plight? Would it kill GetEQUAL to spread the blame and criticism to both parties? How about also providing us with answers about the broken promise of the Congressional district action teams? They might have helped prevent our losses this year.

That extremely narrow focused vid isn't even the tip of the iceberg of truth about all the guilty parties, political and within the community.

Here's a notion: GetEQUAL starts to apply equal criticism toward Democrats, Republicans and the leaders of last year's march on Washington.

 Serbs Arrest Man Threatening Gay March;
'Cure' Clinic in Belgrade

As gay Serbians continue to make plans for their October 10 Gay Pride Parade, threats of violence are being made against the gays and straight Serb leaders. According to a story at Pride Belgrade 2010 web site, law enforcement agencies taking the potential for assaults seriously. Here are excerpts, roughly translated by Google:

He Was Arrested for Threatening Pride Parade

Self-styled commander of the Guard of Tsar Lazar, Hadzi Andrej Milic was brought to the police because of threats [against] Pride Parade participants and the state [officials] at the top.

The prosecution said that all of these cases will be prosecuted and that the state must ensure that the Pride Parade to be held.

As the pride parade approaches, and are often threats are directed to the participants of this event. The latest come from the organization "United Movement of Serbs" and "Tsar Lazar Guard". [...]

Local TV station B92 reported on the man making the threats, and also took film of some brave gay Serbs being visible this week. The vid is in Serbian, but the images carry the story. Check this out, after a 30-second commercial:

In other news from Belgrade, the daily newspaper Alo recently reported on a nutty doctor who runs a clinic to "cure" homosexuals of their gayness. Alo said, again, in an automated Google translation, some disturbing fact about the doctor and his wacko, discredited theories:

While Serbia is largely prepared for the "Pride", Miroljub Petrovic, director of the Institute of Natural Medicine, which last year opened the first center for the treatment of homosexuality in this country, [... and gave assistance to] two dozen people. [...]

According to him, homosexuality is a difficult psychiatric disorder that occurs as a result of poor education, unhealthy life, and the use of drugs. [...]

[The doctor said] "sexual abuse and murder are an inevitable part of living in which they dragged the members of this population. Unlike other places where the killings take place in a predictable manner, in homosexual environments are accompanied by slashing and killing of the worst kind, which testifies to the kind of disease [homosexuality is]. [They] Participate in a bizarre sexual rituals, and the dominant place in the celebration of holidays as monstrous as Halloween, just a few examples of manipulation of these people."

Okay, even allowing for the automated translating, this Serbian doctor clearly is pushing dangerous allegations about gays and homosexuality.

I share news about the arrest and threats being directed at the gays in Belgrade, and the loony doctor, to give us American gays just a small taste of some of the forces and dynamics at play for our brothers and sisters. We gays everywhere stand in strong solidarity with gay Serbs now, and certainly on October 10 when they march in the streets.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Never Heard from GLAAD

on $80K Grant to Help Bloggers

(Queer bloggers and friends staged a vigil for assassinated gay Honduran human rights advocate Walter Trochez, at the country's S.F. consulate, Jan. 2010.)

I have more questions on top of what I posted yesterday about GLAAD's ex-chair speaking out against the group. While checking for funding sources that prop up the useless Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, I stumbled up this info from the very well-endowed, financially speaking, gay Arcus Foundation:

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Los Angeles CA

$80,000 for support of the Digital and Online Media Program to strengthen the ability of LGBT blogs to mobilize readers to take action, amplify their messages in the mainstream media and become more financially sustainable.

I surely never heard from them and they might have good advice about attracting more gays to my global organizing, get attention for actions at foreign consulates in San Francisco like the one above I staged earlier this, oh, and maybe how to get funding to sustain my blogging and activism.

Off went a query to other gay bloggers, asking what they knew about GLAAD's program to help us with their expertise. Here are the replies:

Will Kohler,
Never heard a damn thing from GLAAD and of course never recieved one red cent. They probably used it for the Chocolate Fountain at the Media Awards.

Andy Towle,
GLAAD is in frequent contact with me regarding their action alerts and events, but I have not heard about any such grant, and they have not mentioned it.

Bil Browning,
GLAAD has been a good partner for actions around homophobic/transphobic media, but they've not offered any money to assist with our work.

John Aravosis,
That's news to me. This is the first I've heard of this.

From Pam Spaulding,
Nope. Never heard about the project. Given GLAAD has not been on the cutting edge of new media or handling its own mission, I don't see how it could legitimately nail a grant like that. I'd love to know that back story.

Like Pam, the back story was of keen interest to me, so I fired off ten easy questions to both GLAAD leaders and a half-dozen leaders at the Arcus Foundation. I wanted to know which bloggers were assisted by the program, who ran it at GLAAD, the grant monitor at Arcus, the outcomes, why money from Arcus is not just given directly to bloggers such as myself to do _exactly_ what the $80,000 grant was supposed to go for, etc.

Here is the combined response:

"_______________________," said the loud silence from GLAAD and the Arcus Foundation.

For a organization dedicated to communication and dialog about gay issues, GLAAD might get around to doing exactly that with me. They should also explain precisely what went down with that grant.

Buju Trial Near: Jamaicans: Gays Set Him Up;

OutRage! UK Responds

Longtime London gay activist and friend Brett Lock, who's been integral in the global effort to stop murder music that encourages and applauds attacks on gays, today made me aware of a head-scratching news article that ran on Sunday in the Jamaica Observer. From Tampa, the story said:

As the entertainer's Monday trial date looms, supporters living here have expressed their desire to see the four-time Grammy nominee freed of the drug-related charges against him. [...]

Some supporters here believe that the artiste is innocent and that he had been set up. [...] On one hand there are those who believe, as Banton's legal team is contending, that the Government had set up the artiste. But there are those who believe that he was set up by the "powerful and influential" gay community. [...]

The years of acrimony between Banton and the gay community and the financial toll it has taken on the artiste forced Banton last year October to meet with members of the gay community in Los Angeles [sic]. [...] (That controversial meeting, to which I was a party, took place in Larkspur, just north of San Francisco. -MP)

Federal U.S. prosecutors have cut a deal with Banton's two co-defendants, who have been singing like canaries against the singer's cocaine dealings over the years. It is utter nonsense for anyone to claim gays conspired with the federal drug agents to put Banton on trial and behind bars. His genuine problems are the evidence against him, his co-defendants and U.S. drug laws.

On behalf of the OutRage! activist organization, Brett Lock issued this comment to me:

"It is typical of the kind of mindless bigotry of Buju Banton's supporters that they would ignore the facts of the case and instead invent bizarre conspiracy theories in which gay people - one of the most institutionally persecuted and discriminated against groups around the world today - are really all-powerful and pulling the strings of government and law enforcement.

"Perhaps if they stopped to think for a while they might consider that were this surreal scenario true, gay people might instead use their 'power and influence' to end antigay laws and stop homophobic harassment by many police forces around the world, including in Jamaica.

"Instead they've constructed a fantasy in which we apparently squander our supposed 'power' victimising this minor celebrity. It's insane."

Thanks, Brett, for expressing what many gays must think about all this. The Banton trial starts next week, and I expect the Jamaican press will continue with their gay-conspiracy-driven insanity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Peter Tatchell:
Stonewall UK Opposes Gay Marriage

(Mr. Summerskill, right, with Mr. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK. Photo credit: Piers Allardyce.)

After getting some push-back against my post on Gay Inc remaining silent while the Russian police detained, interrogated and possibly drugged the country's leading gay advocate Nikolai Alexseev last week, I received a mass email from international gay campaigner Peter Tatchell in London, on a matter directly unrelated to that post.

Thematically, his note was a reminder of just how much of a hindrance professional gay advocacy orgs can be regardless if they're in the USA or the UK, Peter brings attention to some craziness on the part of the Stonewall org, the counterpart to our Human Rights Campaign.

Peter writes:

Britain's leading gay equality lobby group, Stonewall, is now actively undermining the campaign for marriage equality.

While many straight politicians support same-sex civil marriage, the head of Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, is refusing to campaign against the homophobic ban on LGBT couples getting married. Among other excuses, he says it will cost £5 billion to implement.

This is staggering! A gay equality organisation opposing equal rights legislation because it might cost too much. Unbelievable!

Where does Ben Summerskill get this £5 billion figure from anyway? If civil marriage and civil partnerships are the same, as Stonewall always claim, how could marriage equality cost more?

Included in Peter's note was the full article from the Pink News article today, detailing Summerskill's opposition to gay marriage. Here are excerpts:

The chief executive of LGB lobby group Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, this evening told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats party conference that the group is not actively campaigning for marriage equality because it would cost a staggering £5 billion to implement. The charity have been stonewalling questions on its exact position on marriage equality for some time.

Zoe O'Connell, who writes the Complicity blog, described the meeting: "Of all the bizarre places to come out against marriage equality, an event run in conjunction with DELGA, the Liberal Democrat LGBT organisation, would seem to be the most odd. But that’s just what Ben Summerskill, head of so-called 'equality' organisation Stonewall did today." [...]

Why worry about any enemies outside the community when leading, well-funded, supposedly politically-savvy Gay Inc groups everywhere are woefully out of touch with the needs and desires of ordinary gay people?

Forceful and effective advocacy. Respectful community engagement. Genuine fiscal and political transparency and accountability. Leaders with backbone. All these, and so many other factors I don't associate with Gay Inc.

And for my critics who kvetch about my complaints against professional gay advocacy groups are like a broken record, lemme say a few things. My constant demands for forceful leadership and action are not a detriment. There should be more of us demanding better representation and lobbying from Gay Inc.

The real problems are the lack of federal changes in the USA that would protect us from myriad discrimination policies, international orgs that remain isolated on the conference circuit and fail to do community organizing, and Stonewall's leader opposing gay marriage because of a statistic he has not verified.

How many years more must gays around the globe tolerate lame and dangerous Gay Inc stewardship of our agenda?