Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wiener & MUMC to People w/AIDS:
Drop Dead from Pigeon Poop

For all the hot air that's been wasted by Scott Wiener and MUMC in the 22-months since the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza was put on the Castro's agenda and their concerns for the entire plaza, you might think some of it would have been about the health menace of the pigeon poop in close proximity to people with AIDS.

In August, through photos and complaints to the Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, I waged a campaign to rid the plaza of roosting spots for disease-carrying pigeons. That history is here.

Wiener and his staffers, same as MUMC leaders, were alerted to my posts about the serious threat to the immune systems of people with HIV/AIDS and other health-compromised persons, yet he made no transparent moves to address this issue.

Now, two-months after the city applied anti-bird gel to the Muni and utility cables over the empty and useless news racks cluttering up the corner of Market and Castro at the lip of the subway entrance, the birds and their crap are back.

Just what the heck is it gonna take for Wiener and MUMC to address the disease-carrying pigeon poop, which is also a hell of lot more nasty to look at than any of the nudists in the gayborhood I might add and is the sight that first greets visitors as they exit the Muni station?

At the same time, let's not absolve AIDS Inc from their responsibility to address this poop problem. MUMC and AIDS Inc groups are sponsoring their second annual World AIDS Day effort to increase profits for merchants and pass along some dough to the six-figure executive directors running multimillion dollars organizations.

The effort is called "Paint the Castro Red" and what they really mean is "Paint the Castro Green" with AIDS dollars. How do AIDS Inc and MUMC want you to respond when remembering our dead and those living with AIDS today? By spending money shopping, drinking and eating.

How important is World AIDS Day to making money for MUMC businesses? It's so crucial that MUMC will fly a red ribbon banner just like on the days when they hoist the leather and bear pride flags because they want dollars from consumers.  Fine, whatever guys, just please get rid of the damn roosting spots for pigeons in the heart of the community.

Do any of these civic and nonprofit leaders ever walk past Castro and Market? How can they be blind to this health threat?

If that gross-out video I shot this afternoon doesn't spur Wiener, MUMC, AIDS Inc and the city, to action, nothing will.

Chamber of Commerce Presents
Wiener's Castro Summit on Nov. 7

If you need a reminder of Scott Wiener's, pictured left, shadow campaign for higher office above supervisor and his coziness with downtown business forces, look no further than this notice from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce:

District 8 Neighborhood Business Summit 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 
6:00 – 8:00 pm 
The Center 
1800 Market Street, at Octavia 

The Office of Supervisor Scott Wiener, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and local business and merchant associations are pleased to present the District 8 Neighborhood Business Summit . . .

The Neighborhood Business Summit is an excellent opportunity to meet elected and city officials, network with other merchants in District 8 and strengthen neighborhood business ties. 

Attendees can expect to: 
- Hear remarks specific to the district’s businesses from Supervisor Scott Wiener 
- Have a Question & Answer session with the Supervisor 
- Network with each other, city officials, community leaders and the Supervisor 

There is nothing in the chamber's announcement inviting members of the general public, the voters who don't have access to the supervisor and the merchants group who make public policies in private.

All the more reason to simply show up at this free event at the LGBT community center and finally have a public discussion with Wiener and the Merchants of Upper Market Castro.

One way to activate more of the public space in the Castro and restore good social health to how we handle differences, would be for Wiener and MUMC to begin engaging with the public at forums that all can attend. We are all ill-served by the current elitist approach of MUMC and Wiener's divide-and-conquer by never having his many adversaries all in the same room.

By the way, he's pulling his usual over-reach in his anti nudity legislation. As with other legislation from Wiener, it's initially draconian and he says he's open to modifications after listening to his opponents, giving folks the false impression that he's made a comprise.

But before the legislative process has begun he already knows the section of the nudity legislation pertaining to ass-less chaps' wearing outside of permitted street fairs, a major concern of leathermen, was inserted into the proposed language because he knows in advance its a compromise he's willing to grant.

Here's a community law to consider enacting and enforcing.

Before Wiener makes an introduction of legislation pertaining to the Castro's public spaces and general gayborhood issues, he must first hold a town hall forum in the community. He can still hold all the closed door meetings he wants at his office and with MUMC, but in addition to that he gotta present himself and the legislation at an open forum, like the one his friends at the chamber are presenting for him.

See you at the summit on November 7. Bring a few friends.
Pix of LGBT Historical Society's
Broken & Boarded Up Windows

The night the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, hundreds of fans poured into the streets of the Castro district for some partying. A few hours after midnight, plate glass windows at several businesses were damaged.

According to reports from the Castro Biscuit the Magnet gay health center, Harvey's Bar, Outfit Clothing and the GLBT Historical Society had windows smashed early Monday morning and are now in need of being replaced.

I was in the Castro late this afternoon and snapped some photos of the society's storefront, with one window boarded up, another held together with thick tape, signs saying they're open for business, metal barricades and orange plastic safety cones on display. Visual reminders of the drunken behavior of a few Giants fans.

Let's hope there is no more damage done to the gayborhood during tonight's unsanctioned Halloween revelry.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

$77K in Wiener's 2 SF PACs

With boundless ambitions, an extensive network of downtown and neighborhood donors, three taxpayer-funded assistants to help carryout his City Hall agenda, and some legislative notches on his belt, Scott Wiener is keeping himself moving forward on a self-created trajectory to run for mayor of San Francisco.

You read it here first. Every political move he makes is with an eye on ascending to Room 200 at City Hall and servicing at the first gay mayor. Gay, schmay, he's a rigid political climber who's slowly plotted his public service career with one goal - keep himself moving up the ladder - and deserves much scrutiny.

It's never too early to follow the money of an ambitious gay lawyer and politician. Let's go over some of his money trails.

His still-active Wiener for Supervisor 2010 has $59,300 in the bank, according to SF Ethics filings current through June 31, 2012. The Wiener for Democratic Country Central Committee 2012 filing through the same date shows he's got $17,700 in that account.

A lot of pols would love to be sitting on two nest eggs totaling $77,000 for use in various ways.

BTW, the SF Chronicle in June informed readers of the record-breaking amount he raked in for a seat on the Democratic Party central committee earlier this year:

Larry Bush, who publishes the CitiReport blog, said he’s never seen this much money flow in a DCCC race. Wiener alone raised $70,000, roughly double the second biggest money raiser, Zoe Dunning.

Raising that kind of dough bodes well for Wiener's reelection effort for a second four-year term as District Eight supervisor, and is enough to scare off potential contenders to challenge him and goddess knows, if there is any politician who need a decent opponent it's Wiener.

More on his other money trails coming soon.

SF Lauds Gay Honduran Leader
at Milk Bust & Castro Rally

Erick Martinez is a courageous gay Honduran leader involved in many political struggles in his homeland, who paid a visit to San Francisco last week and I was privileged to assist in organizing some of his public activities and meet him.

This photo shows Erick in Harvey Milk Plaza on October 27 for a solidarity rally staged by the Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition, the Honduran Solidarity Network, and Gays Without Borders. He's holding a poster of his murdered colleague Walter Trochez and the Honduran flag, before he addressed the crowd.

On October 26, we staged a photo-op at City Hall so Erick could meet two openly queer and Latino/a politicians. He is running for a Congressional seat in the upcoming Honduran elections and we wanted to show him where Milk served as supervisor.

In the photo from the left is yours truly, Supervisor David Campos, the Harvey Milk Bust, Erick, Supervisor Christina Olague and activist Charlie Hinton. I'm pleased to see Erick's hand holding the rainbow and Honduran flags, showing solidarity between LGBTI people and Honduran resistance leaders.

Here is a short video of the politicians and Erick waving for my camera in the Grand Rotunda of City Hall.

After the City Hall visit, Erick on Friday evening spoke to forty-five people at a public meeting held in the Mission District. He lectured about the coup three years ago that saw the democratically elected president overthrown by the military, and how LGBTI people are part of the resistance movement and that more than 80 gays are known to have been murdered since the coup, many for their political advocacy.

We sang a song at the conclusion of his talk and assembled a few of the attendees for a group photo, again making good use of the rainbow and Honduran flags for visual messaging, but this time also including the banner for the Honduran Solidarity Network.

During his final day in San Francisco, a one-hour solidarity rally and sing-along was held at Milk Plaza with the historic Castro Theatre marquee in the background. Before ending the event, two handfuls of activists surrounded Erick as a symbolic embrace of him and his colleagues at home.

Videographer Peter Menchini taped the rally and created this terrific video of Erick's emotionally-charged speech presented in Spanish, and translated into English by Charlie Hinton.

A second video of Erick's speech was created and is all in Spanish, so his friends and colleagues in Honduras can listen to his words without the English translation.

To keep in touch with Erick now that he's back at home, visit his Facebook page or his Facebook fan page.

Many thanks to all who helped make Erick's visit to San Francisco a success and to everyone who attended any of the public events and made our amigo feel our love and concern for him.
MUMC Vote on Thurs:
Return Flag to City Control & Ban Nudity?

One thing you can count on from the merchants of the Castro when it comes to the rainbow flag. They don't have a clue about what to do.

Since January 2011 they've buried their heads in the sand to ignore community calls for public discussion. MUMC said I was the only person pushing for change. (Hello, trans community to prove MUMC way wrong!) The SF Chronicle was used by MUMC and Wiener to engage in character assassination against me. MUMC played endless games with requests from anyone. To no avail.

The headache that bedevils the merchants is now on their meeting agenda this Thursday at 9 AM at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, a city-owned building. I will be there, and hope my colleague Bill Wilson has returned from New England by then to join me.

If you give a damn about the gayborhood, who decides public policies for our public spaces, and the political leadership that listens only to a small segment of the electorate, be at MUMC's meeting.

From MUMC president Terry Bennett:

Just earlier this month MUMC’s Board has decided that the community would be best served by revisiting our current Rainbow Flag policy as soon as possible - at the November 1 Members Meeting instead of waiting until January, as indicated earlier.

We have been counseled that there are only two acceptable, nondiscriminatory polices from which we can choose for MUMC’s continued stewardship of the Flag: 

Option 1 – Only the Rainbow Flag flies at full mast every day, no substitutions, no adornments at any time 

Option 2 – Any group that can provide a flag made to the specifications of the flag pole may fly their flag at full mast. 

[...]The Board does not feel that MUMC has sufficient infrastructure to manage the flag, nor is it in our best interest to try, if the Membership chooses the second option. 

Therefore, the choice you will be asked to make on November 1 is between: 

Choice 1 – Only the Rainbow Flag flies at full mast every day, no substitutions, no adornments. MUMC maintains stewardship of the flag. 

Choice 2 – Any group that can provide a flag made to the specifications of the flag pole may fly their flag at full mast. 

In this case, MUMC returns stewardship of the Flag and pole to the City. Either choice will become effective as of January 1, 2013. 

I think Bennett is saying the second choice returns the flagpole back to the city government, which is an idea I want to hear more about. There's also this item in Bennett's announcement for Thursday's meeting:

Supervisor Scott Wiener is asking for a vote of support for his public nudity legislation.

This meeting is an opportune time for the nudists and their supporters to stand up for their right to be naked in the public square, and object to MUMC and Wiener making public policies in private meetings. I hope to see a few nudist pals on Thursday at the Rec Center on Collingwood. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekend Woof #14:
Men at Milk Plaza

This new Canon PowerShot camera on mine was put to good use this weekend, as the SF Giants won the World Series and the city experienced the best autumnal weather, snapping photos of attractive guys. Still learning all the functions of the camera and happy to experiment with it as these nice fellas pose for me. Thanks guys!

Meet Harry, one of the friendly volunteer Information Ambassadors from the Castro Benefits District, meeting and greeting visitors as they exit the Muni station at Harvey Milk Plaza. Glad I persuaded him to remove his tinted glasses, so I could capture a bit of that devilish twinkle in his eyes.

This friendly man came to the Friday evening town hall meeting with visiting gay Honduran leader Erick Martinez. I didn't catch his name with all the schmoozing going on, but like all of us at the meeting, we are in awe of Erick's brave political advocacy and worry for his safety back at home.

One of the interpreters at the Saturday rally at Milk Plaza for Erick was this young man named Juan, who had a slight endearing hum in his voice when speaking into the microphone. Do you agree the new camera the fine darkness of his chest hair peeking over his t-shirt?

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oops: SF Chron Forgets
Halloween in the Castro is Banned

The city that knows how to ban gay bathhouses for more than 20-years and counting, ban backroom bars on Folsom Street, is considering banning public nudity because Scott Wiener is unwilling to bring warring factions together at neighborhood public meetings to create acceptable-to-all social policies, is also known for banning Halloween in the Castro.

Lots of locals know about that last fact, except folks at the San Francisco Chronicle. From their story tonight about the SF Giants receiving a celebration parade and party from the city government and a very happy populace on Wednesday, Oct. 31:

The city that revels in Bay to Breakers, Halloween in the Castro, and any chance to dress up (or down) and party, will throw an orange-and-black celebration to rival all others.

Our major daily needs a homo history lesson, pronto. That should read, "The city that formerly reveled in Halloween in the Castro". This is excerpted from a story by Dennis McMillan in the Bay Times, September 2007:

In response to plans championed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to shut down businesses in the Castro and eliminate the traditional Halloween celebration, a group of long-time San Francisco gay activists have formed Citizens for Halloween . . .

Citizens for Halloween says it is disappointed that the Newsom administration did not follow through on its Nov. 2, 2006 promise to convene a public task force, in response to the trouble at last year’s event, which involved a shooting at Sanchez and Market.

Halloween in the gayborhood has been banned since 2007. The Chronicle should get up to speed about this fact.

Let's see what Wednesday brings, what with the Giants party and it being Halloween everywhere in the city, including the Castro. Wouldn't surprise me to see throngs partying in the gayborhood Wednesday night.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Peeking at Wiener's Wiener
in City Hall Men's Room

Of all the luck an activist could ask for in terms of an impromptu run-in with an ambitious homosexual politician of the Democratic persuasion.

My new camera was ready for use in the second floor men's room at City Hall on Friday afternoon when I walked in. Scott Wiener was standing at the urinal and had just started to tinkle as I entered and the camera took 4-6 seconds to focus, enough time for him to put away his wiener and zipper up.

The only photo I caught was of him grabbing his toothbrush from the wash basin. He sighed heavily and with exasperation having to not only have to interact with me, but in a restroom and with a camera going off. I made small talk the beautiful day and he left in a huff.

After peeing, I rejoined my friends for a photo op in the rotunda near the Harvey Milk bust marking the visit of gay Honduran Erick Martinez to the Bay Area. More on all that soon.

In the meantime, mark your calender for November 1 at 9 AM for the monthly Merchants of Upper Market Castro meeting and mutual rim job with Wiener's butt. MUMC meets at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center on Collingwood.

Longtime community photographer Bill Wilson, who's been my trusted 'good cop' for almost two years on the rainbow flag reclamation project, and I are going to the meeting because we have a few outstanding issues with MUMC and Wiener.

Bill is at the end of his rope with MUMC's latest b.s. on the trans flag and he's going to the Nov 1 meeting to ask questions and yeah, he is well aware of how just attending never mind speaking up is in violation of MUMC's rulebook and they're not gonna be happy with him refusing to leave until his concerns are heard.

I've joked with Bill about this may be his Norma Gay moment, and how it's nice to have him play the 'bad cop' role for once!

If you give a damn about any or all of the problems with MUMC or Wiener and how they treat the Castro's public space and civic policies, please attend this early-hour meeting and speak directly to the two forces controlling too much municipal ground behind closed doors.
S.F. City Hall 
Flies Piss Pink Giants Flag

Because I was bullied as a sissy in grammar school with no interest or prowess for team sports, I don't follow major league sports and championships or know how teams make it to the playoffs but one thing I know for sure about the San Francisco Giants. Their team color is Giants orange.

Why then, is the mayor's balcony overlooking Civic Center flying a Giants flag the shade of piss pink?

Before going into City Hall late yesterday afternoon, I snapped these photos of the Giants flag with the wrong background color and wondered why this town has such a problem with simple flag displays:

I'd like to see Mayor Ed Lee fly a Giants flag from City Hall's balcony with the correct colors. Surely the city can locate one the proper size and string it up on Sunday as the team heads into the fourth game of the World Series.

This couple was spotted on Church near Market today wearing and riding the Giants fandom and color to the hilt. Here's how the photo shoot chat went between the driver and I:

"Are you guys fans of the Giants?"

"Yes, we are."

"Lemme grab some photos. Are you wearing orange underwear?"

"Nope, no underwear today!"

Hey, Ed Lee. Get a genuine Giants flag up at City Hall. Go Giants!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gay Honduran Leader's Town Hall Tonight 
& Sat. Milk Plaza Rally

Two public events are scheduled for today and tomorrow featuring gay Honduran leader Erick Martinez, pictured, who is a candidate for a seat in the Honduran Congress.

Martinez is on a speaking tour to bring attention to the more than 80 murders of LGBTI people in his country in the past three years. In addition to his human rights work, Martinez is also an HIV prevention activist.

His two public events in San Francisco are as follows:

Friday, October 26: 7 PM
Public Meeting at 518 Valencia St. (near 16th)

Saturday, October 27: 1 PM
Rally at Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets

The Honduran Solidarity Network, Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition and Gays Without Borders groups have coordinated Martinez's visit to the Bay Area. Martinez is available for telephone interviews with reporters and bloggers. Let me know if you wish to arrange a chat with him.

Please join us tonight and tomorrow and welcome Martinez to San Francisco, and show him our commitment to global LGBTI solidarity.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Huff Post: Tensions Ignited
Over SF's Rainbow Flag Management

(The leather flag about to be raised in Sept. 2011. Those transit cables in the background are more than half a block away from the flag, whatever position the flag is in. Credit: Bill Wilson.)

Need more proof this story has legs? Check out this Huffington Post story by Robin Wilkey yesterday:

Controversy has erupted in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro District over the management of its historic rainbow flag, igniting tensions throughout the district and questions about how to honor the many faces of the community . . . 

In the denial [to hoist the trans flag on Nov. 20, Merchants of Upper Market Castro] Terry Bennett noted the board's policy to fly the rainbow flag at full-mast at all times with few exceptions, "symbolizing the strength and pride and the community, even in times of sadness, anniversaries of important events, etc." Bennett also noted the safety hazard of flying the flag at half-mast, potentially entangling its rigging with the city's Muni busses . . . 

According to Supervisor Wiener, the flag management isn't an issue of inflexibility, but of an overwhelming number of requests.

There will be no end to the controversy over who controls the rainbow flag on public land in the Castro until there is a fully transparent process establishing a public entity to determine when to modify what goes up on the flagpole and at which position.

A few questions need answers, after the latest spate of attention and anger regarding MUMC and their inconsistent and unequal flag policies.

Whether the flag is at half or full staff, it's the same distance away from Muni cables, and there were no problems when the flag was lowered for friends of MUMC leaders and on Sept. 11, 2011, when Mayor Ed Lee spoke at the base of the flagpole. Why, all of a sudden, is the position of the flag a danger to public safety?

Where are all of the supposed requests to modify the flag's display? Wiener is the latest person to tout this MUMC claim of an "overwhelming number of requests", and I believe he and MUMC have duty to produce the requests. 

Why is permission granted to fly the leather and bear pride, without excuses, but hoisting the trans pride flag required almost two weeks of controversy?

Why was it OK for MUMC and AIDS Inc to display a red ribbon on top of the rainbow flag for World AIDS Day last year, without any safety concerns raised? Was it because participants at a remembrance ceremony were encouraged to "Shop, Eat and Drink" at Castro businesses and increase profits with a portion going to AIDS Inc and spending money is the theme again this year?

One day, when the public reclaims this piece of public property and a transparent process is in place, we'll look back at this controversy, just like we'll eventually view the opposition to gay marriage, and say, "Why was there so much unreasonable opposition?"

This comment, by Castro resident Roy Steele, at the Huff Post article makes valid points that need extra attention:

Both sides have to be reasonable. MUMC bears the cost - and then MUMC also acts like a dictator as far as the flag goes. There is no appeal process and their decision is final. Therein lies the rub. If they would have an open process where an impartial mediator or disinterested party could hear any appeals, it would go a long way toward appeasing the community.

An open process? Yes, it was needed yesterday and it's not too late to develop such a process.
Blissful Bach Concerts
Performed by Andras Schiff

San Francisco classical music lovers were treated recently to outstanding performances by the brilliant pianist Andras Schiff, pictured, at Davies Symphony Hall, playing J.S. Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier", Books 1 and 2, which Big Mike and I attended.

Schiff's masterful playing brought exquisite pleasure to our ears and we noticed he had a small smile on his face, when finishing the more lively of the preludes, almost as if he was teasing the audience into thinking the conclusion was at hand only to complete the prelude and go on to the next one. We didn't mind the teasing one bit.

Hearing this composition performed live for the first time, and by such a brilliant interpreter of Bach, practically erased all the recordings of it we've heard on CD or over the radio. During the concerts, a state of bliss enveloped us.

At the first concert on October 7, the notes lifted us into the realm of stunning musical artistry every time Schiff put his fingers to the piano keys, and when it was over the audience quickly stood and gave Schiff the standing ovation he had easily earned. Big Mike shouted many boisterous "bravos" he was so impressed with what we had just heard.

For the second performance this past Sunday afternoon, most of the audience showered Schiff with applause and another standing ovation at the end of the first half of Book 2. No need to wait till it was all over to show our deep appreciation. Schiff seemed humbled at the rapturous attention.

These concert are the start of Schiff's two-year residency with the San Francisco Symphony and he returns in April 2013, to again delight us with more Bach and bliss. Click here for more info on the spring events with Schiff and all other programs at Davies Hall.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Flip-Flopper Creator:
Fly 8-Color Rainbow Flag at His Whim

One of the biggest control queens over the rainbow flag in Harvey Milk Plaza has been New York resident Gilbert Baker, creator of the original flag who played a major role erecting the flagpole on public land. All well and good, but such status does not entitle this grande dame the right to perpetually retain a voice in the local Castro district debate over reclaiming public control of public property.

Baker was all in favor of modifying the Milk Plaza display, until he was against it. Basically, what he terms his artwork, the flagpole and what flies from it, was open to amending only when he wanted to fly the U.S. flag when the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in the Lawrence decision, or when gay pioneer Frank Kameny passed away.

Something I had forgotten from 2000, and I vaguely remember the story because it omitted mention of whether the flag was on public property, had to do with another time Baker, in full Dubya mode, unilaterally decided to raise an eight-color version of his rainbow flag.

This excerpt was written Joel P. Engardio, who is now running for supervisor in District 7, and it ran in the SF Weekly, May 2000:

Now, more than 20 years later, Baker has decided it is time to bring his initial design out of the closet. Using $3,000 in donations from last year's Castro Street Fair, Baker bought enough material to make a new banner [of eight colors] to replace the giant six-color version that flies in Harvey Milk Plaza at the corner of Castro and Market streets . . . 

But the new-old flag, which was unfurled with no fanfare or explanation on Valentine's Day, left many Castro residents and tourists puzzled . . . 

[MUMC president] Patrick Batt says the prospect of having to revert to an eight-color flag after more than 20 years of using the six-color version is cause for major headaches . . . 

[Batt says,]"It took too much time, effort, and money to get those banners up in the first place, for Gil Baker to come out of left field after all these years and say the flag is wrong. If it should've historically been eight colors, you'd think something would've been said or done before this February." 

Oh, this is rich. My reclaim-the-public-flag colleagues and I have been accused by the likes of Baker and MUMC as wanting control for ourselves and would make modifications without community community. And what did Baker do a dozen years ago? Act like a lone decider-in-chief, do what he alone wanted and damn the merchants and the community.

And to think MUMC, after being screwed by Baker, now turns around and screws the rest of the community by retaining private control amongst the merchants alone and put the trans community and their allies through 8-9 days of emotional and political turmoil before agreeing to simply fly the trans flag on Day of Remembrance.

If we had transparent and consistent flag policies, San Francisco queers could have avoided so many days of anguish.

Why is it San Diego's gay community in Hillcrest can erect a flagpole larger than ours, on public grounds, create rules governing when and how flags can fly at public meetings between merchants and activists, allow community-wide stewardship and ownership of the flagpole, and not go through all the b.s. of dealing with MUMC?

Whatever is in the water down in Hillcrest, we need it imported to the Castro pronto.
Gay Honduran Leader Visits SF:
Town Hall and Sat. Rally Planned

On behalf of Gays Without Borders, I've been working with other progressive activists organizing events and meetings with Erick Martinez, a gay and AIDS leader from Honduras. Three public events are on his schedule and I hope you'll come out to one or all of them and listen to what Erick has to say.

His California travel itinerary began last weekend in Los Angeles where he received a human rights advocacy award from the Federation of Gay Games, which paid for his airplane tickets. All of Erick's appearances in San Francisco are free or low-cost, but we'll be passing the hat for donations to cover local expenses and a portion of proceeds will go toward gay humanitarian work in Honduras.

If you can make only one event, attend the rally on Saturday in the Castro. We've got a great line up of speakers, singers and our emcee is man-of-many-talents Gary Virginia. Here's the scoop:
Erick Vidal Martinez is the 2nd openly gay candidate to run for Congress in Honduras. The first, Erick Martinez Avila, was assassinated in May, 2012, one of more than 70 LGBT activists who have been murdered in targeted killings since the 2009 coup against democratically elected president Manual Zelaya. 

Erick is a human rights trainer who helped found the Diversity Movement in Resistance. He is running as a candidate with the LIBRE Party, an electoral party that has grown out of the resistance movement to that coup.

Thursday, October 25 at 1 PM 
Brown Bag Lunch at Global Exchange 
2017 Mission St. (near 16th) 2nd Floor; Free

Friday, October 26 at 7 PM
Public Meeting at Eric Quezada Center 
518 Valencia St. (near 16th) $5-10 No one turned away 

Saturday, October 27 at 1 PM 
Rally at Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets

Join us to show the Honduran people we stand with them in their fight for democracy and freedom, against death squads and repression.

Sponsored by the Honduran Solidarity Network, the Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition/BALASC and Gays Without Borders. 

Endorsed by Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, Pride at Work, Task Force on the Americas, Global Exchange. 

Please join us!
Malia and Sasha:
Why Obama Will be Reelected?

Not since Ike and Mamie Eisenhower were President and First Lady have we had a Commander in Chief with only sons. Their first son, Doud, died at age four of scarlet fever, and the second son, John, is still alive and 90-years-old. Every president since Ike has had at least one daughter.

The daughters include Caroline Kennedy, Lynda and Luci Johnson, Patricia and Julie Nixon, Susan Ford (whose brother Steven was a presidential son I had a major crush on), Amy Carter, Patti and Maureen Reagan, Dorothy Bush, Chelsea Clinton, and Jenna and Barbara Bush.

In modern times, seems clear to me that American voters prefer their presidents and their wives to have a daughter or two. Well, Barack and Michelle Obama have two adorable daughters Malia and Sasha, pictured, and I fully expect them to be spending another four-years in the White House and attending classes at the Sidwell Friends School. 

(Left-to-right: Tagg, Ben, Josh, Mitt, Matt and Craig Romney.)

Come January, I wager we'll see Ann and Mitt Romney and their brood of boys nursing their wounds over the lost presidential race at one of their many houses around the country. It gives me great pleasure to know that after the election, all of the Romney's will have plenty of time to take care of designing and installing their car elevator system at their San Diego compound.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Urgent Town Hall:
October 28 at the Castro Theatre

Steven Soderbergh's movie "Contagion" was one of the best films I saw last year, with a relevant story similar in a few respects to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a fast-paced narrative acted out by an engaging cast and terrific camerawork by Soderbergh himself. 

It's now serving as a jumping off point for public discussion, in the neighborhood decimated by AIDS a generation ago, so the better question for the forum organizers to ask is, are we prepared for a second pandemic. One was more than enough, thank you, very much.

From the Castro Theatre's site:

Is the Bay Area prepared for a pandemic? The Skoll Global Threats Fund invites the public to join us at 7:00 (organ at 6:45) for a special screening of Contagion in conjunction with the launch of Flu Near You, our collaborative project with the American Public Health Association and HealthMap. Find out how you can help put the public in public health . . .

A panel of experts including technical consultants on the film will engage the local audience of invited public health officials, healthcare providers, teachers, students, law enforcement, military, churches and corporations in a town hall discussion after the film.

We are reserving a limited number of free admission tickets for the general public on a first come basis:

I've got my tickets for this town hall, and am looking forward to it for the obvious cinematic and civic reasons. I can feed two birds with one seed. Watch "Contagion" again on the big screen and participate in a public forum in the Castro district. 

As anyone who's read my blog in the past two years knows, I've been demanding democratic engagement from Scott Wiener and MUMC over many public space control issues and the thing they are loath to do is throw open the doors and welcome one and all to a public discussion. 

There's a crying need for town halls in the Castro that are organized regardless of MUMC or Wiener participation or endorsement. With inter-community tensions so high over myriad public space issues and who sets public policy for the Castro for our collective gathering grounds, we could cool things off with open forums and create solutions acceptable to more folks than just the merchants.

If Wiener and MUMC need a town hall model to emulate, they need look no further the October 28 event in their own backyard. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Woof #13:
Sweet Boys, Furry Beefy Men

A bit light on original photos this week. I'm getting a new camera this week, so expect more and better-looking pics next weekend. As always, many thanks to the guys for posing in front my camera or those of my pals.

Say hello to Chad, one of the fine stable of boy waiters at Orphan Andy's on 17th Street in the Castro. I recently had dinner there with my trans girlfriend (and troublemaker extraordinaire) Veronika Fimbres and several nudist friends also sitting at the counter. Veronika was just shameless coming on to Chad and making him strike poses for our cameras.

If memory serves, the tall boy working that night with Chad is named Max, on the left. Making no pretense to hide her interest in Max's junk, Veronika rubbed her palm over his crotch for the pose and a five minutes more after I closed my lens.

This is Scott, who worked for Mayor Gavin Newsom back in 2006, waiting to speak at a rally in Harvey Milk Plaza. I developed a crush on him because he had the charm and vulnerability of Jeff Bridges from his "Last Picture Show" days. The photo was snapped by my comrade Clinton Fein.

And finally, this shot was taken by my friend Bill Wilson at the Dore Alley Fair in July. I occasionally see the beefy dude on the right, who lives in our neighborhood, and he's always putting out cheerful vibes when walking down Valencia Street. Glad Bill caught him and his equally beefy and slightly more furry friend at his side.

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
HRC's Low Bar:
1 Marriage Prop Win = 'Narrative Change'

My gay journalist friend Duncan Osborn back in New York expressed his reservations with me earlier in the week about the Human Rights Campaign's president Chad Griffin, pictured, telling the AP that if we win one out of four on the marriage votes on November 6 that will constitute a "narrative change":

From the AP:

The national gay-rights group is contributing more than $4.4 million to the four state campaigns. "If we're able to win one of these four, it will be a narrative change - proof that the public has moved our way dramatically," Griffin said.

Duncan writes:

This is the first time that I have seen one of the Gay Inc. groups make a prediction or evoke a benchmark for our performance on that day.

As you have reported previously, we have lost more than eight out of 10 ballot initiative fights dating back to 1978. One out of four is 75 percent so Chad's standard is just slightly better than our performance historically. I'm not sure why that should be seen as success.

But do remember that I have written to you previously that I think two out of four would be quite good, three out of four would be incredible, and a sweep would leave me speechless. Or something like that. 

And I do think the gay groups have created an expectation that we will do better than one out of four on November 6. They have been touting these national polls for some time saying those polls show a sea change in support for us. I don't know this empirically, but I do think a lot of LGBT folks are expecting better than one out of four on November 6.

I say it's a step forward if one of the gay marriage propositions goes our way on November 6. By definition a narrative change would be more than just one state voting in our favor. HRC's bar for the four November props is too low. 

A narrative change, for me, would be if HRC began pushing for affordable housing for all low and moderate income LGBT Americans, regardless of martial or relationship status. Or putting on town hall meetings, taking questions from ordinary gays about HRC's agenda. Finally getting with a democratic engagement agenda would also qualify as a narrative change with HRC.

Let's see what happens with the props in November.
Wiener Killed Sunshine Panel:
13 Cancelled Meetings and Counting

I last wrote about the death throes of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, a demise brought on by downtown's favorite Supervisor, Scott Wiener, back in September when the number of cancelled SOTF meeting was at 7.

The current number of cancelled meetings since June is now at 13, according to the SOTF's web page, pictured. Unlucky number 13 should be the death knell for this deceased panel. No meetings are scheduled in the near future, or ever, as far as I've heard.

Except for the Bay Guardian and the Sunshine network of open government watchdogs, it's been as quiet as a mausoleum in terms of other supervisors raising public concerns or other publications covering the SOTF's shuttering or more citizens demanding the resurrection of the panel.

Here's what the screen grab looked like when only 7 meeting had been cancelled:

When Wiener officially announces he running for mayor in a few years, expect him to tout his killing of the SOTF as a reason to elect him to Room 200 at City Hall.

Friday, October 19, 2012

BORE Publisher Horn 
Too Chickenshit to Sign Anti-Nudist Editorial

(From the left: Horn, Paris Mayor Bernard Delanoe, SF Mayor Ed Lee, ex-SF Protocol Chief Charlotte Schultz. Credit: Catherine Bigelow.)

San Francisco's weakly gay rag the Bay Area Reporter enjoys an undeserved and unearned reputation as an impartial newspaper. Let's go over a few ethical problems for the BORE.

I've blogged in the past about publisher Tom Horn's donations to politicians covered by the rag, donations never disclosed by editor Cynthia Laird or reporters Matthew Bajko and Seth Hemmelgarn, see here and here. There's also the Bob A. Ross Foundation headed by Horn, which annually doles out hundreds of thousands of dollars to LGBT and AIDS groups receiving coverage and the foundation's donations are omitted from the reporting.

What other ethical failures do Horn and Laird keep from readers? The fact that their ad sales rep is a voting member of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro, a group that has escaped critical scrutiny related to the rainbow flag controversy. The BORE rep's board membership at MUMC since April wasn't disclosed until this week.

Just how complete has the blackout been about MUMC and this two-year controversy in the BORE? The rag's fabulous transgender columnist Gwen Smith, founder of Transgender Day of Remembrance, admitted this amazing fact in her column this week:

Last month, I heard of Veronika Fimbres's request to see the transgender pride flag raised onto the flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza on November 20. To be honest, until that moment I did not know there was an organization that oversees the flagpole and considers all requests surrounding its use. 

Um, if the BORE had not been keeping the MUMC flag controversy off its news pages, Smith would have learned a long time ago about this group that oversees the public flagpole.

There's always space to cover Horn's powerful buddies like Nancy Pelosi and Jim Hormel. Why, just three weeks ago the BORE informed us that she received a useless award (photo op!) from the SF AIDS Foundation, presented by Hormel:

(Credit: Rick Gerharter.)

Speaking of the AIDS Foundation, which frequently runs full-page ads and the occasional (and quite pricey) full wrap-around ad for the first section of the BORE, the foundation must be pleased that Laird hasn't reported on how 58% of profits from last year's AIDS Walk went toward expenses. Can't have the rag pissing off big advertisers.

The current BORE contains this photo-op of Hormel and Pelosi smiling after he's presented her with another worthless award, this time from the Shanti Project:

(Credit: Jane Philomen Cleland.)

Enough digressing. This week's main editorial, written with the elan, lawyerly arguing and grammatical finesse of French-speaking powerful attorney Tom Horn but not signed by him, unfairly demonizes nudists in the Castro. Laird's editorials are penned with a social worker tone and the current one lacks her voice. Penned, but not signed by chickenshit publisher Horn:

The controversy over nudists in the Castro is an example of what happens when a group of people overreach. In this case, a d├ętente of sorts had existed . . .

But when one person's liberty infringes on the rights of others, it is time to strike a reasonable balance . . .

Governments place reasonable restrictions on freedom of expression all the time: people can't play loud music all night long; protest zones are established for demonstrations. A fundamental tenet of the First Amendment is the regulation of time, place, and manner . . . The nudists are degrading the neighborhood.

In my view, the nudists are enhancing what makes the Castro so special. On the other hand, Horn and the BORE are degrading impartial and ethical journalism, especially when they title this editorial "Put your clothes on". Horn should put his name on this editorial and all that he authors.

Just one more ethical lapse for this rag.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bay City News:
Cliff's Boycott & Castro Flag Controversy

(Boycott organizers in front of the variety emporium, top two pics. During the protest, police officers were called to tell us we couldn't use the sound amplification device, a bull horn, without a permit. Credit for all images: Bill Wilson Photography.)

Reporter Sasha Lekach of the Bay City News service came to our presser on Tuesday afternoon to launch a boycott of Cliff's Variety Store, and she filed this terrific story picked up by the site:

A handful of protesters, including a few in the buff, have vowed to boycott a Castro neighborhood store in San Francisco over an ongoing dispute concerning the iconic rainbow flag and other uses of the neighborhood's public space. 

Terry Asten Bennett, one of the owners of Cliff's Variety store at 479 Castro St., sits as the president of the Merchants of Upper Market Street and Castro, and her store is the target of the small boycott because of merchant group's decisions regarding flag modifications . . .

Regardless of the successful campaign for the transgender flag to fly in November, gay rights activist Michael Petrelis teamed up with three nudist activists and stood in front of the store Tuesday afternoon holding signs stating "Boycott Cliff's" and bellowing into a bullhorn. 

Petrelis said MUMC needs to offer the Castro community more transparency with their decisions and use of public land. "We are asking them to hold public meetings" and in the meantime asking customers to boycott Cliff's, he said . . .

Cleve Jones, a prominent LGBT activist who worked with assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk for human rights in the 1970s, walked through the store doors during the boycott to show his support for Asten Bennett and Cliff's. 

What union organizer other than Jones, who works for the UNITE HERE union, would ignore a picket line and not show solidarity with protesters?

Come out this Saturday, October 20 at 2 pm to Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro for a rally to support nudists and wresting control of public spaces from private merchants. After a fun nude-in at the plaza, we're probably going to march to Cliff's and hold a speak out. Join us!
Many thanks to Mitch HIghtower for creating this poster.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Text of Wiener's 
Anti-Wiener Legislation Released

Politician Scott Wiener is terrible when it comes to solving Castro community problems of all sorts, but especially when the matter is our public spaces. He's been in office almost two years and has yet to hold an open-to-all public meeting in the Castro.

He's like Mitt Romney in that he does not like to be publicly challenged, is awkward in social graces and public situation, and prefers to speak only to slices of the community either behind closed-doors at his City Hall office, or at groups that bar public participation such as the Merchants of Upper Market Castro.

The first public discussions he held about sweeping legislative changes to sleeping out in Jane Warner and Harvey Milk Plazas, and his useless law about nudist placing a towel under their butts before sitting down, were at City Hall hearing after months of rising rancor and confusion in the community. He makes no effort to find solutions through community engagement beyond his donors and fans.

On Monday, November 5 at 10:00 AM at City Hall, the first chance for all stakeholders concerned about nudity in the Castro will take place at a Board of Supervisors meeting. Not the best way to find an equitable and fair solution that all will be able to accept and live with.

Up for discussion on November 5 will be this frightening piece of legislation outlawing public nudity. I believe this legislation is dangerous to San Francisco's tolerance for public nudity at the Dore Alley and Folsom Street Fairs, and the Bay to Breakers race. Oh, I also don't think the ban would do much to stop our fab and wonderful naked guys and gals from disrobing.

Check this out:

HRC Emails: Secret MUMC/Wiener
Castro Meeting Over Trans Flag

For the nearly two-years of various requests from gay men to the Merchants of Upper Market Castro to modify the public rainbow flag and pole at Harvey Milk Plaza, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission has ignored the controversies.

But last week, the MUMC insulting rejection letter to a trans leader denying use of the flag pole for Transgender Day of Remembrance generating renewed controversy, the transgender executive director of the HRC, Theresa Sparks, got involved. One of the actions she undertook was an invitation-only meeting with Terry Bennett of MUMC and politician Scott Wiener.

Sparks told me in a phone conversation yesterday that the meeting was part of her confidential investigation into whether there was a human rights violation at issue with the MUMC rejection. In that chat and a voice mail message, Sparks revealed many details even though she claims this is all confidential.

It's troubling that the public flag on public property has yet to be the subject of a single open public meeting in the Castro. So much for TRANSparency.

As you see in the copy of emails below, a secret meeting was held on Monday at Cliff's Variety Store. I would not have a problem with that, if there were a meeting for the public to attend about all of this controversy.

I filed a public records request for all of her emails about the flag flap and here is the HRC reply:

On or about October 12, 2012, you contacted HRC with a verbal complaint about Merchants of Upper Market Castro (MUMC)’s refusal to fly the transgender flag in place of the existing rainbow flag. In response, HRC agreed to meet with MUMC. 

As of today, October 16, 2012, HRC, has not yet made a final determination with regard to your complaint. Please be advised that while a complaint is active, the contents of the complaint filed are not public record. Disclosing the contents would affect the integrity of our investigation before we have weighed all of the evidence and made a determination. 

Accordingly, HRC is hereby providing you with certain items responsive to your request but which will not affect the integrity of HRC’s investigation of your complaint. 

Specifically, please find attached: 

1) A copy of Theresa Sparks’ calendar for October 2012; and 

2) A redacted copy of all emails exchanged to date between HRC staff and various parties in connection with your complaint. 

Once HRC has completed its investigation, you may resubmit your request to HRC. At that time, HRC will be able to provide you with all non-privileged and non-confidential statements exchanged in these emails and any other documents that may exist at the time of your subsequent request. 

And here are the two pages of redacted emails:

The battle for public discussion about the public flag continues, along with efforts to hold MUMC accountable for their wildly inconsistent rules and stewardship of the flagpole at Milk Plaza.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Weekend Woof #12:
Michaels and Flexing Construction Worker

What with so many developments on the Milk Plaza rainbow flag front taking up my time, I didn't get around to posting my latest batch of pics of attractive guys over the weekend. Yeah, this more a Weekday Woof and one I hope you appreciate. I sure appreciated these fine fellas posing for my camera.

Say hello to Michael, who works at the Eureka Valley Rec Center in the Castro. His shirt says "I'm OK", and that's not quite the truth. He's very fine and quite charming, and possesses a deep sensual voice.

This is Michael, a young gay man about town, who I usually see at rallies and such in San Francisco with his friend Mitchell. We rode the BART train together to the East Bay last week. He's quite the adorable pixie in photos and up close.

And yet another Michael. This man said he was a construction worker on his way to the SF Giants game, and was tanked up on booze yesterday along the Embarcadero. I had barely said he had nice guns before he flexed for my camera.

As always, lots of thanks to the guys for smiling and flexing for me. Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.