Monday, December 31, 2012

IRS 990 Transparency:
NRA v Brady, Focus & Heritage

When it comes to providing donors, reporters and bloggers and the general public with modern fiscal transparency, and meeting the widely accepted best practice of nonprofits posting their most current IRS 990 filing, the National Rifle Association is back in the pre-web age.

The NRA's site omits reference to their IRS 990s on their About Us page, does not post a single filing or link to the three most current tax filings available at the GuideStar site. At least the NRA Foundation's site contains information about whom to contact for their annual report, but that site also fails to mention the NRA and the NRA Foundation's 990s. The NRA sites also don't share any annual reports just a click or two away. You have to request both their 990s and annual reports.

On the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's page for annual reports makes the five current reports available for public inspection along with links to what they say are their most recent IRS 990s for the center and Brady Campaign affiliate.

However, those 990 filings are for fiscal year 2008 and the center needs to post the 2011 annual report but the center gets credit for making those previous 990s available.

I've emailed the NRA and the Brady Center requesting that they immediately share their most current IRS 990 filings and annual reports on their respective web sites. They sure as heck don't sure the same policy positions, but on fiscal sunshine matters let's hope both organizations find common ground and soon are as transparent as possible.

If the NRA wants a prime example of another well-funded conservative nonprofit voluntarily meeting generally accepted principles of fiscal sunshine, the gun rights group can look to the Focus on the Family organization.

Their financials page shares three years' worth of current annual reports, IRS 990 and IRS 990-T filings for a total of six tax filings just a click away. Actually, the Brady Center could also learn from the Focus on the Family example of transparency in action.

Another conservative group with decent transparency principles in effect is the Heritage Foundation which on their About Us page is well-stocked with ten annual reports and audited financial statements available, and a link to their most current IRS 990 posted at

Sure, I would prefer that Heritage post their 990s on their site, they get credit for the link.

Let the sunshine in, with just a few clicks and without having to file a request for IRS 990s!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Is There an FBI File on 'Punch' Sulzberger?

My Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a copy of any records on the late New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger brought forth the letter above this week, which states in part:

A search of the Central Records System at FBI Headquarters indicated that records potentially responsive to the FOIA have been sent to the National Archives and Records Administration. Since those records were not reviewed, it is not known if they are actually responsive to the FOIA.

I've sent a letter to NARA officials asking them to provide me with copies of those records that may pertain to Sulzberger. Hopefully, there will be as quick a responsive with those files as with my request to NARA for the records on radical leftist journalist Alexander Cockburn.
Weekend Woof #23:
Smiling Sexy Fellas

The latest batch of attractive fellas catching my queer eye features dudes all smiling and putting out the charm for my camera. All photos were taken after the Christmas holiday, and like the guys in the images, I think we're all glad the holiday is behind us and we're moving toward the new year.

This is my friend Robert, who I literally bumped into while looking at a painting in the fabulous William Paley collection at the De Young Museum. Being culture vultures, we had nothing but praise for the collection and also both liked the exhibit celebrating the career of Rudolf Nureyev.

Say "Ola" to Joao, one of the waiters at the We Be Sushi restaurant on Valencia at 16th Street. He's originally from Brazil and speaks with the most adorable Portuguese accent, that perfectly matches his sweet friendliness.

Given how cute this cub is, I couldn't understand why no one stopped to say hello to him, even if he was soliciting donations. His name is Jonas, he's new to San Francisco and trying to get established in the city. I wished him the best of luck putting down solid roots.

As always, many thanks to the guys for striking poses and giving me the smiles!

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 and here.
Albanian Govt:
Colleges Must End Using Anti-Gay Books in 60-days

The LGBT community in Albania has scored another victory, this time involving textbooks at the university level, according to a statement from Altin Hazizaj, pictured at the microphone, a leader with the Pink Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania coalition. From Tirana, Hazizaj shared the good news received over the Christmas holiday:

The office of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination (CPD) notified us on December 24 on its decision regarding university texts which discriminate openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Albania.

On November 7th, PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania submitted a complaint to the CPD asking the removal from market of all texts which discriminate against the LGBT community and the update of all academic texts where same-sex relations and identities are discussed, including here the two texts used by the Faculties of Medicine and Law of all Universities in Albania.

In its decision, the CPD found that the text “Legal Medicine”, published in Tirana 2007, on page 140 listed homosexuality along with “sexual perversions most commonly encountered” such as fetishism, exhibitionism, sadomasochism, zoophiles and necrophilia . . .

The CPD has clarified in its decision that “such definitions which include homosexuality in the group of sexual perversions make for an inadequate definition, non scientific and discriminatory because of sexual orientation and gender identity. Introducing students with such concepts, creates wrong perceptions on this group and affects the education of students as future lawyers and doctors.”

The Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination has decided that the content of the book “Legal Medicine” is discriminatory; that the authors who have produced this discriminatory material should modify the text and if that is not possible should remove the book from the market and libraries of all institutions within 60 days . . .

Hearty congratulations to the activists in the Pink Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania coalition for persuading a government agency to take against vile and incorrect statements about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in college textbooks.

BTW, I checked out the CPD's web site and read on its English-language page that the commission came into existence after the Albanian Assembly passed a law protecting citizens from discrimination. Sexual orientation is listed among the reasons for which discrimination in the Balkan nation will not be tolerated.

Keep up the great work, LGBT people of Albania!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pic: SF Police Get
Statements from Cliff's Xmas Protesters

When I blogged yesterday about the Christmas Eve protest inside Cliff's Variety Store on Castro Street by pro-Palestinian activists, who want the store to stop selling SodaStream products which are manufactured in Israel, it was unclear if activists made complaints about alleged assaults to the cops.

This photo comes from Rae Abileah's Twitter account where she self-describes as a
"CODEPINK Co-director, Young Jewish Proud & Jewish Voice for Peace member, human rights advocate and creative activista," and shows two members of the San Francisco police force taking statements from two of the protesters.

We now must wait for the police to investigate the allegations and if they believe assaults did occur on the part of Cliff's employees, the matter is turned over to the district attorney who will weigh whether to bring charges.

Brock Keeling over at SFist provides details from the store regarding what took place on Monday:

SFist talked to Cliff's Variety manager Martha Asten on Thursday morning. When asked to give us the store's side of the story, she told us, "This group has been protesting Soda Stream for years now at Cliff's. On Christmas Eve, they came into the store unannounced and uninvited, straggling in and collected near the Soda Stream and announced who they are . . . I had to shout because I could not be heard over them. I asked them to leave and I called the cops. At which point things escalated and they put cameras in my employees' faces," Asten explaining [sic], going on to allege that one of the protesters even tried to sink his teeth into an employee. "The guy with the purple hair [seen in the video] tried to bite my employee," she said.

Given how this story has generated much attention on Bay Area blogs and Facebook pages, including a call from the Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers site to spend money at Cliff's Variety, and a vigil is scheduled in front of the Castro Street store tomorrow, Friday, December 28, from noon till 1 pm, I soon expect this controversy to receive attention from Israeli and Palestinian newspapers and blogs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vid: Palestinian Carolers
Assaulted at Cliff's on Xmas Eve

Longtime videographer for many progressive causes and political protests, Peter Menchini, shared this video taken on Christmas Eve at Cliff's Variety Store on Castro Street.

You may recall that nudists and I staged a protest at the store in October over the owner Terry Bennett's heavy-handed refusal, as president of MUMC, to allow for community control of the rainbow flag on public property at Harvey Milk Plaza. We called for a boycott of Cliff's and generated a great story on the Bay News Service wire.

Now, queer supporters of the Palestinians have issues with the variety store carrying products made in Israel. To show their displeasure, a musical protest took place at the store on December 24 and in response to the physical assaults from employees at Cliff's, the protesters are calling for charges to be filed.

So far, no charges have been filed and no arrest warrants issued.

Here is the description of what happened at the store from Peter at his YouTube channel:

On 24 December 2012, Holiday Carolers -- including elderly women -- went into Cliff's Variety Store and began a peaceful protest. Employees -- including managers -- immediately began assaulting the carolers! They grabbed, shoved, pushed and dragged people out of the store. An employee twice grabbed my cell phone from my hand, cutting my hand in the process. Boycott Cliff's!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry, Merry From Mike + Mike

Holiday greetings from the House of Mikes in San Francisco, where the weather is wet and chilly making it a perfect time for us to share brotherhood, fine food, goofy jokes, exchange gifts including deep love and mutual pleasures.

It's soon time for apple pie and a game of Scrabble, just the perfect evening activity on this day of celebration for us.

We wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stop Armor Piercing Ammo Exemption:
Email ATF by 12/31

(B. Todd Jones)

The federal government is considering a dangerous exemption to more regulation and control of bullets that can pierce armor, under the guise of giving people who hunt more rights. According to the Sunlight Foundation, there is no formal rulemaking process yet in place at the ATF on this matter, but that is no reason to not speak out against the proposed exemption.

Public comments are due by December 31, and I've emailed and snail mailed the interim head of the ATF. Please do the same.

This letter was sent to these addys: and

Feel free to cut and paste my text and use as your own note. Let the ATF know you want more restrictions on guns and ammo.

B. Todd Jones
Acting Director
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20226

Dear Mr. Jones,

I am responding to your request for public comments regarding ammunitions which may be used in a handgun and which are constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten, alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium, copper or depleted uranium.

You are asking whether these bullets pose a threat to public safety and law enforcement, or are, "primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes" and therefore may be exempted from classification as "armor piercing ammunition".

Yes, the bullets are without question a deadly menace and must be tightly controlled. I plead with you to NOT exempt armor piercing bullets from classification as such.

There is no rationale that would justify the BATFE allowing the sale of any handgun ammunition that can pierce body armor and endanger first responders and the general public.

America needs much more stringent regulation of such projectiles and I demand that you and the BATFE reject any effort to exempt such bullets on behalf of hunters. A prompt reply stating you've received this letter is requested.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rainbow Over San Francisco;
NEMA District Debuts

Last September, while I was at the Little Hollywood laundromat, a rainstorm hit the city and afterward a rainbow was visible over Market Street and inspiring awe in lots of folks.

Today, I was again washing clothes when a downpour occurred and on my way home another rainbow shared its beauty over San Francisco. This image was shot at Duboce and Guerrero Streets and brought me great pleasure.

Here's another shot of those striped rays of color streaking across the sky this afternoon.

The goddess sure is blessing our fabulous city with her gorgeous rainbows this year, for which we should rejoice.

In other news here, I didn't know San Francisco gained a new district recently, until I noticed this sign today on the scaffolding at Market and 10th Streets where condos are under construction.

Click the image to enlarge it and you'll see that NEMA stands for New Market. The condos are being sold as the New Market Apartments.

Sure, Market Street from 5th up to Van Ness is undergoing rapid redevelopment, and the NEMA condos are across from Twitter's headquarters, and in some ways it's accurate to describe the gentrifying area as New Market.

However, given the influx of tech firms in the area and the workers employed by them earning robust salaries, it might be more honest to designate the debuting district as NEMO. That stands for New Money, and you're gonna need lots of it to move into the NEMA apartment or keep your affordable - if you're lucky enough to have it.

Weekend Woof #22:
Boys, Boys and Boys!

As you see, the look and layout of my blog is evolving. Tried previewing some potential changes and accidentially changed the layout. I'm taking it as a sign to revamp things and hope you'll bear with me as I try out a few changes.

Here are the latest cute guys to either pose for or pass before my camera, and please my queer eye. Thanks, fellas. Happy holidays to them and to you!

This young man is a student at the acupuncture drop-in clinic I visited earlier the week. He's very skillful with the needles and finding the right points to hit, bringing forward deep stress reduction.

Introduce yourself Xavier, an adorable sexy young chub who's the assistant manager at a nearby Walgreen's store. Come the new year, Xavier says he'll be shaving off all his hair and that I should stop by again to get a photo of him with his bald look.

I may have to visit Four Barrell Coffee on Valencia Street more often for a fix of java, and a dose of Owen in his crisp-and-tight leather apron with thick straps pressing against his shoulders.

By any measure, the weather in San Francisco on Tuesday morning was downright cold, but that didn't stop these two young slabs of compact beef from strutting up Market Street in tank tops. As far as I could see, neither one of them had goose-bump skin from the chill and wind.

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 and here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Please Pardon the Dust

We're going through design and layout changes around here, so please pardon the experiments and changes.

If you use Google's Blogger and care to make suggestions regarding the layout, installing a Facebook like button without joining Facebook and taking advantage of other social marketing tricks, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

As the look changes, one thing won't. The Weekend Woof series of photos of all kinds of nice looking men and boys, each adorable or sexy in his own way, will keep expanding. The latest update appears tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

NAPWA's Crises;
Strub's Smart Suggestions

 (People with AIDS at a gay health conference in the early 1980s.)

When the National Association of People With AIDS was first getting established as a nonprofit advocacy group, they hired Stephen Beck as their executive director. Stephen was quite sexy in a stocky wrestler way and he had the right kind of smarts to navigate the needs of PWAs, service organizations and federal agencies to keep the group viable and supported by PWAs.

He once told me that he had to have honest and substantive answers to my questions when I would call him on the telephone, and that I kept sharp and ready to deal with pesky bureaucrats and funders. Stephen never avoided responding to my concerns.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of NAPWA's current leadership. After eight days of not receiving a response to questions emailed to NAPWA's board chairman Tyler TerMeer, I got him on the phone at the Ohio AIDS Coalition where he works. It was painfully obvious Tyler was unprepared to speak with me and provide substantive answers.

He mentioned that the NAWPA board had decided months ago that when questions arose about their many problems from the press or community, that the board as a whole would reply. Oh. Well, why didn't NAPWA get around to telling the PWA community about this policy in writing on their site?

Tyler didn't say, but he said the board is meeting this weekend to address problems and respond to my questions. Nothing more screams "crisis" at a nonprofit than being told the board is meeting over the weekend a few short days before the Christmas holiday.

My original questions last week dealt with any pending investigations by law enforcement agencies or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, why NAPWA does more to get negatives tested for HIV than delivering programs for positives, where is the grassroots membership or support, and could NAPWA become less beholden to Gilead and OraQuick and more active for PWAs.

Here's the response, in full:

As a cost cutting measure in November, NAPWA eliminated the positions of Executive Vice President, Vice President for Development and Vice President for Communications. Any questions regarding any investigation by a law enforcement agency should be directed to the appropriate law enforcement agency. As a matter of policy, NAPWA does not comment on individual personnel matters, and it declines to comment.

If only NAPWA's current leadership would honor and learn from the Stephen Becks who founded the organization, they would not insult me and other PWAs with such a vague reply. Coming on top of months of NAPWA remaining secretive and frightened about its latest crises, the reply signals it may not be possible to rescue and revive the organization.

To get a more moderate perspective on the situation, I turned to my friend Sean Strub who's been living with AIDS for decades, founded POZ magazine and now battles criminalization of PWAs, for his opinion. Sean said:

The situation at NAPWA is unfortunate, sad and unnecessary. People with HIV in the U.S. have suffered for not having a strong, cohesive voice putting their interests first; perhaps the crisis at NAPWA will be a step towards allowing such a voice to emerge.

I don't understand why their board of directors has been so closed and secretive. That does not serve the public interest, the effort to fight HIV or people with HIV. Crises are when non-profit agencies should make an extra effort to be transparent and accountable, especially if they expect to rely upon the goodwill and support of the people they purport to serve.

I've suggested privately to a number of board members that they create a process to work with a blue ribbon commission of people with HIV who are not directly a part of their mess to get outside, objective guidance from community stewards who can help guide them out of the financial hole and crisis of leadership, accountability and transparency in which they find themselves.

The people with AIDS commission idea is something I can embrace, and I'm glad Sean proposes potential solutions. If that commission gets formed, much good can come of it simply by bringing diverse PWAs together and letting us decide our agenda for 2013, especially regarding federal programs.

Proving just how far removed NAPWA is from the affordable housing, uninterrupted access to healthcare and drug cocktails, and debilitating stigma faced by lots of PWAs every day in America, their newsletter published three days ago discloses no details about their troubles or how they're helping PWAs.

However, the lengthy lead story is all about the Prop 8 case and the Supreme Court agreeing to review Defense of Marriage Act legal challenges. Absolutely nothing remotely directly affecting the current daily concerns of people with AIDS.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advocate Magazine = GLAAD's Lapdog

It's a depressing trend, the co-opting of what remains of the independent gay press.

Back in May, I blogged about the Washington Blade entering into a partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. A gushing release from the paper said:

“As a longtime supporter of the Task Force, I am excited to work with this important organization as a National Corporate Partner,” said Blade publisher Lynne Brown. “The Blade looks forward to furthering our mission of informing the LGBT community while supporting the Task Force’s work for full LGBT equality.” 

Say good-bye to any independent or coverage critical of this Gay Inc group from the Blade with that announcement.

This week, the leech upon the gay body politic known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced that's made a similarly cozy relationship with the publisher of the Advocate and OUT magazines. Sure, it further diminishes what little creditibility the Advocate has as in impartial journalistic operation but the partnering also is quite apt, given how superficiality and full of empty gloss both the Advocate and GLAAD share.

From the gay kiss-ass organization:

Give the gift of equality this season, and receive a free subscription to Out and Advocate magazines!

As part of a partnership with Here Media, when you donate $50 or more to GLAAD ( and indicate you want to receive the magazines) you get a free subscription to the publications! . . .

We want to be able to provide this rapid response work for 2013 too, but we can't do it without your help! So, donate $50 for the holidays, and get a gift from Here Media! 

So! Many! Exclamation! Points! Why?

Here on the Left Coast, for all practical intents and purposes the Bay Area Reporter is in partnership with the Merchants of Upper Market Castro in several ways. First, the paper's advertiser director is a voting member of MUMC, the organization regularly purchases display ads and so do many businesses that belong to MUMC.

The BAR has never provided timely, accurate or balanced coverage of the many controversies surrounding MUMC on issues ranging from attendance at their meetings where public policy is created to control of the rainbow flag to disrespecting transgender people.

Our LGBT community needs media outlets to serve as watchdogs not lapdogs and it becomes ever more important for bloggers and activists to bring transparency and accountability to the likes of NLGTF, GLAAD and MUMC.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pink Pistols, Red Blood:
Lesbians With Assault Rifle Poster

Guns are a menace to American civilization and I have previously disclosed that in the past I have donated small amounts of money to be a member of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

That said, I'm quite disgusted today with the silence of the Pink Pistols, the Gay NRA, over the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Their web site, which, granted is quite bare bones on everything, offers no condolences to the families of the victims murdered last week.

Googling for any comments from Pink Pistols' leaders turned up only a passing reference in a column by Rick Rosendall in Metro Weekly.

This offensive image of smiling and intimate young lesbians, with one holding an assault rifle and an obnoxious simplistic equating of gay rights with gun rights, appears on the Pink Pistols page. Frankly, I don't see bullets, like the bracelet made of them, as mere fashion accessories.

Check out this other image from the Pink Pistols site. The sign on the far left reads, "H8TRS [haters] Can Suck My Glock". Nope, I don't want to link cocksucking in any way with using a Glock handgun. And what the hell do these gun-toting gays mean with "Carry Rights" and "Marry Rights" placards?

Finally, this image featuring an assault rifle with parts encased in pink plastic and text stating "Gays wear many hats, but keeping their loved ones safe is Job One", was found at this blog. I'm not sure it was created or endorsed by the Pink Pistols, but its underlying message that guns equal safety for gays nevertheless is a message that I don't agree with.

Whether the pistols are pink or black or another color, all victims of gun violence bleed red blood.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brewery Lowers Flag for CT Deaths;
Castro Merchants Snub Prez

(Top photo shows the tower and flagpole from Mariposa Street, and the bottom photo was taken on the DeHaro Street side. Click to enlarge.)

The Anchor Brewing Company is located on the same block as the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where I went today for much needed acupuncture healing.

San Francisco's hometown beermaker, as with millions of other private companies and decent individual Americans, has lowered the U.S. flag atop their iconic tower in the Potrero Hill district in sympathy with the grieving families who lost loved ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

After snapping a few photos of the flagpole, I went into the brewery and told the young woman at the reception desk that seeing their flag at half-staff helped me to grieve over the senseless loss of so many young lives on Friday.

Nice to know Anchor heeded President Obama's proclamation to lower flags, even though he ordered only flags on U.S. government property to fly at half-staff, I told the receptionist. She appreciated the positive feedback and told me how upset she's been over the tragedy.
Unfortunately, Terry Bennett, pictured, the president of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro and whose family owns Cliff's Variety Store, and her MUMC colleagues have not lowered the LGBT rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza.

Citing cockamamie and absurd reasons for never lowering the rainbow flag on public grounds in the Castro, MUMC, after refusing to fly the flag at half-staff as requested by Obama after the Colorado movie theater and Wisconsin Sikh temple gun-related massacred, has new rules banning lowerings.

While the gays of the Castro, a community that all too well knows the sorrows of death from guns, have not been allowed to use our rainbow flag on city grounds to show condolences and solidarity with the families in Connecticut, the folks at Anchor Brewing Company have simply done the right and honorable thing and respectfully lowered their flag.

May MUMC one day either learn from the decent people at the brewery about properly responding to a national time of mourning, or relinquish control of the Harvey Milk Plaza rainbow flag so it can be used at appropriate times to show LGBT Americans care about massacres from gun violence.

Thank you, Anchor Brewing Company!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekend Woof #21:
Dudes of Color

I hope everyone is warm and cozy on this chilly and gray day in San Francisco. It's time for my latest batch of photos showcasing attractive men, albeit a smaller number of images than usual but I think the extra cuteness of these two dudes shines bright and more than compensates for fewer photos.

Say "Hola" to Cesar who is the nurse in the office of one of my doctors. When not catching up with him during a medical appointment, I usually run into Cesar down at the Embarcadero YMCA. These pictures were snapped after he had just worked out.

This handsome fella is William, who works at the Mission and 16th Street BART station. Last week, I saw a wallet near the (working) public telephone inside the station and turned it in to William. If that's your wallet, pick up at the BART information booth and tell William I send my regards.

As always, thanks to the men for striking handsome poses for my camera.

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 and here.
Tegucigalpa Gay/Trans March
For Walter Trochez & Democracy

Leaders of three courageous Honduran advocacy groups - Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia (Movement for Sexual Diversity in Resistance), the lesbian network Cattrachas, and the AIDS organization APUVIMEH, La AsociaciĆ³n Para Una Vida Mejor de Personas Infectadas/Afectadas Por El VIH-SIDA en Honduras - marked the third anniversary of gay leader Walter Trochez's assassination on December 13 in the capitol of Tegucigalpa.

When Gays Without Borders staged its vigil on the same day at the Honduran consulate in San Francisco, we were unaware of the actions our friends had planned. After emailing contacts in Honduran, I soon received photos, a note of solidarity and thanks, and details of the Tegucigalpa events.

Our Honduran friends shared this message with us, on behalf of APUVIMEH, Cattrachas and the MDR:

"Dear partners in San Francisco and beyond our borders: 

"On behalf of APUVIMEH we would like to express our appreciation for your solidarity in support of the struggle of the members of our LGBTI community in Honduras who have been assassinated and whose cases - in many circumstances - have yet to be brought to justice. 

"Thanks for your solidarity. We know that without support from abroad, our fight would go nowhere. We thank you and ask you to never forget Walter Trochez. 

"As activists from MDR, Cattrachas and APUVIMEH we remain united in sorrow but we remain committed to living in a country that respects our lives and the right to express our sexual orientation and gender identity. 

"A big hug from Honduras!"

Dozens of activists marched in the streets during the daytime wearing colorful masks and clothing, among them elderly women who carried banners and flowers, children with political posters, a good number of transgender people and young men dressed as angels.

This photo illustrates quite clearly the strength in diversity proudly on public display in Tegucigalpa. From the left, it appears a child carries the rainbow flag, next to her are transgender women parading with the light blue, pink and white Trans Flag on a pole.

Three people, including a woman of mature years and dignity, hold up a large memorial placard honoring Trochez, and in front of them is a black youth displaying a big W created out of red fabric, probably symbolizing Trochez's work as an AIDS advocate.

The march stopped for a while at the headquarters of the Public Ministry, the government office that has failed to investigate Trochez's and the murders of nearly one-hundred LGBTI individuals, peasant and labor organizers. Since Trochez's death, activists have staged speak outs at the ministry on the 13th of every month.

Protesters held signs featuring Trochez's young face as a transgender leader gave an interview to a local television station.

A temporary shrine in a public square was created combining lighted candles, a rainbow flag and an enlarged photograph of Trochez, as daylight hours were coming to an end.

Several dozen activists occupied a section of the square as the evening began . . .

 . . . and watched an acrobat played with a metal wheel on fire and balanced on a wire string and entertained the crowd . . .

. . . which had laid a large rainbow flag on the stone plaza, upon which they placed remembrance candles, flowers and a photograph of their absent amigo Walter Trochez.

On behalf of Gays Without Borders in San Francisco, I reiterate our promise to remember Walter Trochez, fight for justice and democracy, and to stand in strong solidarity with the LGBTI, peasant farmer and labor communities in Honduras.

Muchas gracias amigos y amigas of APUVIMEH, Cattracthas and the MDR for sharing your photos and activism with us!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Castro's Rainbow Flag at 
Half Staff on Sun. for CT Gun Deaths?

 (The portable flagpole can be used at either Milk or Warner Plaza. Photos by longtime community photographer Bill Wilson, who purchased the 21-foot flagpole seen here.)

President Barack Obama today ordered all American flags on government property around the world to fly at half staff until Tuesday to honor the victims killed at a Connecticut school this afternoon. Like millions of people across America, I've been upset about this latest gun-related tragedy and wish to honor the president's proclamation and the dead.

That is why I am proposing a one-hour candlelight vigil Sunday, December 16, starting at 5 PM, and using the Gays Without Border mobile and adjustable 21-foot fiberglass flagpole and heavy metal stand to fly a 3'x5' lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rainbow flag at half staff in the Castro.

The simple point would be to show regret over the tragic loss of so many young lives, express sympathy to the survivors and condolences to all who lost love ones back east today. No formal speaking program, but anyone who wants to speak out is more than welcome to do so.

A few friends have said they'd come to the vigil, if it gets organized, so I'm gauging the level of interest among Castro stakeholders and the LGBT community that is grieving over the killings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Just a reminder that the MUMC-controlled flag has not and will not be lowered to mark this terrible loss of life.

Ideally, I'd like a solid commitment from a minimum of ten folks to show up and make the vigil happen at either Harvey Milk or Jane Warner Plaza. Are you someone who would attend a vigil this Sunday at 5 PM as dusk descends on the Castro neighborhood, where we are all too aware of tragedies brought about because of guns?

Time is of the essence, and if the Sunday vigil is to become reality, I'd like to have at least twenty-four hours to get the word out far and wide.

That is why I'm asking all interested folks to contact me by 2 PM tomorrow, Saturday. Should enough people commit to participate on Sunday, we can move ahead with organizing the event. Send me an email if you want to attend or assist in organizing the vigil:
Report: SF Vigil 
for Honduran Gays & Democracy

The Gays Without Borders one-hour vigil yesterday, December 13, at the Honduran consulate in San Francisco was attended by a handful of dedicated human rights activists. We staged the vigil to demand a full and impartial investigation into the assassination of gay man and democracy fighter Walter Trochez, who was killed by right-wing militia forces on December 13, 2009.

Among the participants were Ckiara Rose, left, a straight woman born in Guatemala who made comments in Spanish expressing solidarity with the LGBTI community in Honduras. Longtime global AIDS activist Gary Virginia, right, said that as a gay man he supports the Honduran peasants and labor leaders who are targeted by death squads for organizing resistance to the junta that seized control of the country in a June 28, 2009, coup.

Michael Bass, right, who is straight, joined the vigil to represent the School of the Americas Watch's chapters in San Francisco and the East Bay. He demanded that U.S. military aid and support immediately end for the the anti-democratic government now in power in Honduras. Respect from the American government for the human rights of all Hondurans fighting to restore democracy was also a concern of Michael Bass and his organization.

Gary Virginia displaying a poster demanding "Democracy Now in Honduras!" and "Justica for Walter Trochez!" There's been no investigation into Trochez's assassination and no one charged with his killing.

Holding the Honduran flag is Veronika Fimbres, and yours truly waving our posters featuring the visage of Walter Trochez. She spoke as a veteran transgender leader and deplored the torture and murder of dozens of transgender and intersex individuals in Honduras since the coup.

Veronika was cruising for a new husband at one point, and she recruited this furry fella join with us for a short while. I didn't catch his name but he thanked us for organizing the action and fighting for justice for Walter Trochez.

A few San Francisco police officers leaving the Flood Building, which houses the Honduran and various other consulates, after speaking with the Honduran consular staff about our plans. We stayed outside on public property and didn't enter the building and try to speak with staff. However, through phone calls and emails to the consulate, we made them aware of our vigil.

 Here's a terrific short video of our diverse crew of activists assembling for the vigil. Many thanks and big hugs to everyone who came out yesterday and made the action a success.