Sunday, March 31, 2013

Supervisor Campos Ends SFO Name Change Effort

The big news coming this week from the Board of Supervisors is that a misguided, potentially costly and poorly-prepared effort to rename San Francisco International Airport has ended. Gay Supervisor David Campos, pictured, the politician behind the idea will release this statement first thing tomorrow morning:

After much consideration and listening to many constituencies since I introduced legislation in January to label SFO the Harvey Milk International Airport, I'm announcing the grounding and cancellation of the legislation.

With moderate and low income residents of my Mission district suffering displacement from rampant gentrification, recent gun-related crimes including a fatality involving a teenage student, unacceptably high levels of unemployment in the Latino/a community and a desperate need for affordable housing construction, my leadership is required to address those important and more pressing problems.

Even though the disappointment is deep that I am abandoning the new designation for SFO, legions of Harvey Milk admirers should appreciate and back my evolution of plans.

Renaming our local airport for this hero did generate ample LGBT and progressive enthusiasm and support, which has inspired me to change my name as the best and less expensive path for honoring this gay pioneer.

Last week, I was granted a legal personal name change by a judge in Superior Court, and as lawyer the process was a snap for me, and henceforth I will be known as David Campos-Milk. 

When I run for state Assembly next year, I will attract a high volume of votes from people who weren't alive and able to vote for him as was blazing a course of freedom in the 1970w. As voters head into the polling booths in 2014, their excitement marking the ballot next to my name will give them hope for equality. It will be just like voting for Harvey Milk.

And speaking of my bid for the Assembly seat now occupied by my friend Tom Ammiano, I've established an election committee for my 2014 race to serve in Sacramento. Please visit my new site and make sure you're registered to vote for me!

Yours in solidarity,
Supervisor David Campos-Milk

This is the most fab news I've heard from this politician in many moons.
Weekend Woof #34: Mormon Boys Offering 'Services'

As always, I offer deep gratitude to the guys who strike poses and smiles for my camera, and to the nice fellas pictured this week who chuckled when I promised each of them fame and fans across the country. Thanks, boys and men!

Allow me to introduce you to Michael, the general manager of Max's Cafe at Opera Plaza. I had dinner there the other night with Veronika Fimbres, who knows so many fine folks all over town, and she acquainted Michael and I. Thanks, Miss Veronika!

Our neighboring Friends School is finishing their top floor and their property manager, Paul, pictured left, held a chat to share info about the construction work soon to start. On the right is the project director Nathan. I requested regular wet tee shirt contests with the construction workers, as part of good neighbor relations, an idea they promised to run by the worker dudes!

Sometimes, I wonder if there are an higher-than-usual number of Mormon boys in town fulfilling their missionary duties to their church. I see them everywhere at times.

This week, I found a bunch of them outside their temporary housing in the Mission and as is the case with most of them, they were more than happy to engage in conversation with me. Yes, after they wanted to chat about recruiting me, I countered with my usual request to recruit them into the gay lifestyle or at least keep open minds about folks with beliefs different than theirs. That got them to smile!

I was surprised to learn they pay to go on a two-year mission. I thought the church paid them a stipend and took care of costs incurred traveling the world.

When asked what they do when not hanging out at the 16th Street BART station, they said they perform services for people. What kind of services, I wondered, thinking impure and delectable thoughts which I made known.

Once of the boys replied, "Stuff like mowing lawns and raking leaves." Since we live in an apartment without such needs, he offered other drudge services such as cleaning out a garage.

FYI, the young man on the left is from Australia, the center one is from Tonga and the last one hails from Spain.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rainbow Flag, Hero Todd Mavis & Human Rights Meeting Today

 (Todd Mavis, hero and HRC Commissioner.)

The minutes from recent February and March hearings of the Human Rights Commission reveal several key political factors that should be of interest to San Francisco's press corps, advocates for public access equality and government watchdogs.

HRC meets tonight at 5:30 pm at City Hall in Room 416, and it sure would be great if local gay, daily papers, alternative weeklies and online news and blogger sites attended and took note of the allegations that the commission could lose funding over the flag controversy.

First, Commissioner Todd Mavis is leading a valiant effort to have the HRC keep a promise made in November to hold a public meeting about the myriad controversies surrounding the rainbow flag on public property at Harvey Milk Plaza. Mavis has shone a light at alleged threats by an elected official to reduce the HRC budget if such a meeting is held.

Second, at the March 14 HRC hearing, Mavis strongly advocated for a meeting just on the alleged threats but at the urging of Chair Michael Sweet maneuvered to have the commission discuss the alleged threats in a private conversation with HRC executive director Theresa Sparks.

Click here to read the extensive draft minutes of that meeting.

Third, since October according to the Bay Area Reporter Sparks has been investigating allegations of discrimination lodged by transgender leader Veronika Fimbres. Sparks has provided no details about when her investigation will conclude and if her findings will be public.

Fourth, neither Bill Wilson who for two-plus-years has advocated for public access equality regarding control of the flag nor I have been at an HRC meeting since November. Of his own volition, Commission Mavis has adopted this matter as his cause and he's been the leader insisting HRC keep its promise of a public meeting. Thank you, Todd Mavis, for your integrity and for doing the right thing!

Since the controversy began in January 2011, public access equality advocates have been rebuffed at every turn to simply discuss the control questions at an open forum and no effort has been spared by politicians and the Merchants of Upper Market Castro to keep such a forum from happening.

Yet, we now see Commission Mavis, who has had no contact or communication with Fimbres, Wilson or myself, keeps raising the flag issue before the HRC. What that tells us, again, is that the controversy is larger than a few activists wanting public access equality. It's a question of who controls public property in the Castro and now has expanded to one of potential threats made against the HRC's funding from the City.

Theses are just a few of the reasons why the San Francisco press and bloggers should be at the HRC meeting today.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Polk Street's Field's Book Store is Now Closed

On my way to pick up food at Myconos Greek Restaurant on Polk Street yesterday, I walked past the shuttered Field's Book Store.

I shopped there over the years and am sorry to see them close the book on their retail operation. Happy to report they're starting a new chapter as booksellers by moving operations to the web. That's the good news, as we mark another San Francisco bookstore closing up shop.

The wonderful staff: David Wiegleb, Heidi Geyer, and Esther Fishman. Thanks back at you guys!

Before they vacated the stocked bookshelves, they snapped this photo of their beautiful smiling faces and holding a sign sharing gratitude with their patrons and friends, and hundreds book surround them. What a way to go!

That shingle will soon be coming down, but while it was up and swaying in the gusts that blow down Polk Strasse, it served as a signature store proving the wealth of diverse shopping options available on the street.

Signs reading "Field's physical location is now closed", are taped to the door and storefront windows and empty shelves stand in the background. A sad sight but I'm glad the staffers are staying in business online.

A lengthy letter of thanks is posted on their window and can be read at their site. Best wishes to Field's finding success via online sales.

AIDS Writer Nathan Fain's Niece Needs Info on Her Uncle

Remember that nine-page letter from gay and AIDS pioneer Nathan Fain to Larry Kramer from 1983 I shared recently? It generated a moving note from a young relative of Nathan's, and reading her words brought me to tears recalling friends and lovers from those early epidemic years and just how hated queers and people with AIDS were back then.

Two generations of our gay brothers were stolen from us because of a virus, and our blood and self-created families need to hear their lost loved ones' histories and their heroism. I, and you, have a duty to bring forward the tales of our dead and remind everyone they lived and fought in a great war.

I shared some of my pain with Jennifer Fain and requested permission to share her letter, to assist her in learning more details about her uncle. If you knew Nathan and want to pass along stories and whatever, please get in touch with her at jenniferfain[AT]gmail[dot]com.

This is the letter she shares:

My name is Jennifer Fain, and I am the niece of the late Nathan Fain. In doing some research to find more information that regards my uncle and his contributions to the movement to bring awareness to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I came across your blog posting of his letter to a Mr. Larry Kramer of New York, NY. 

I am sorry to confess that my research is going poorly and that I know very little about the context or substance of my uncle Nathan's writings and research. Like many families that felt the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, mine has been very tight-lipped about Nathan, his sexuality and his journalistic contributions. 

At first, this was to protect my brother and I, as we grew up in a small, conservative town in rural East Texas, as Nathan did. Then, it was out of mercy for my late grandmother, Lucille Fain, who was buried in a family plot not by her husband but by Nathan himself. 

Now, I think little is communicated because very little is known or remembered. I will go against the family grain and try to remain brief. If there is any information or direction you can give me in my search to know more about my uncle's life, his character and his contributions to the gay community, I would be eternally grateful if you would oblige. 

After graduating from Rice and teaching public school in New Orleans for two years, I now live in the Montrose neighborhood in Houston, Texas, very near where Nathan lived during his time in Houston. I've had the great pleasure to meet a few men here who remember Nathan, but, unfortunately, none of them know much about his later years and writings while he lived in New York. 

Thank you in advance, both for your work to bring awareness to the history of the movement and also for any help you can provide in my personal efforts to know more about my uncle.

Monday, March 25, 2013

NYT: (Lesbian) Quinn Threatens to 'Cut Balls Off' Opponent

Why has the New York Times waiting so long to publish some nasty truths about lesbian Democrat, City Council President and mayoral wannabe when surely its reporters have known about her disturbing threats to do bodily harm to opponents?

An LGBT-created and -operated blog, Christine Quinn Sold Out, has performed admirably holding her accountable for numerous betrayals and outrageous sleaziness. In September, the gays behind the blog and their supporters staged a successful protest at the Times' headquarters, pictured, calling them on the carpet for ignoring mounting qualms and criticism against her.

The March 26th edition of the Times contains a front-page story in the paper version, about some of the violent threats Quinn has promised to people who've crossed her, and the tyrannical approach she employs to govern. Curiously, the word lesbian isn't mentioned once and it should have been given how Quinn has played the queer card to advance her political career.

Nice to finally see the Times balance out its puff pieces, like the July 25th article on her and her wife spending weekends on the Jersey Shore leading the life of lesbian domestic bliss, with an accompanying ten-slide pictorial of the couple preparing for a barbecue.

From the Times tomorrow:

As she pursues a high-profile bid for mayor, Ms. Quinn, a Democrat, has proudly promoted her boisterous personality, hoping that voters will embrace her blend of brashness and personal charm. But in private, friends and colleagues say, another Ms. Quinn can emerge: controlling, temperamental and surprisingly volatile, with a habit of hair-trigger eruptions of unchecked, face-to-face wrath. She has threatened, repeatedly, to slice off the private parts of those who cross her. ... 

In strategy sessions, Ms. Quinn can speak colorfully of other lawmakers, often saying, “I’m going to cut his balls off.” In Ms. Quinn’s parlance, the phrase can apply to women, as well: in the interview last week, she volunteered that using that phrase with a gender-neutral pronoun — “their” — is “a good way of doing it, so you don’t have to wonder about the gender.” ... 

Forget wondering about the gender and instead focus on the sanity of the candidate! I can't imagine a male heterosexual politician getting away with comments promising bodily mutilation. Imagine the uproar if a GOP pol said a thing about cutting off someone's tits.
Can you believe she once earned a paycheck as the executive director of the Anti-Violence Project?

Quinn should be harshly and roundly booed for this boorishness. Oh, and keep her from becoming mayor of New York City.
Bill Wilson at City Hall to Supes: Save HRC's Budget

How's this for citizen advocacy? On Friday, March 22, veteran LGBT community photo documentarian Bill Wilson headed to City Hall to personally lobby members of the Board Supervisors and their staff. He delivered a letter on recycled tree asking members to take a stand against threats made on the budget of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, because commissioners want a town hall meeting on the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza.

Thank you, Bill, for continuing to do the right thing about the people's flag in the heart of our queer territory.

Here's Bill making his views known to newbie Supe Norman Yee, who told Bill he would look at the minutes of the HRC meetings in November, and then the February meetings where HRC executive director Theresa Sparks said an elected official had threatened her city agency's budget regarding any public meeting on the Milk Plaza flag.

The battle over a private merchants group hostile to activists including Bill, began on January 26, 2011, the day Ugandan David Kato was murdered. Over the two-years-plus controversy, David Campos has spoken at the 9/11 ten year anniversary event and also promised the Milk Democratic Club that he would tackle the flag control issue as it related to ALL flags on city property including the flagpole off the mayor's balcony.

Yet, Campos has gone along to get along and not challenged the Department of Public Works, which spends city dollars to maintain the flagpole and base, and has not challenged his colleagues about what is at fundamental level a public property and access issue.

Very glad to see Bill delivering a letter to Campos' office.

I'm including this photo of Bill at Jane Kim's office because I like the various pieces of artwork decorating her door. That splash of red so complements Bill's lime green shirt, and the nearby hearts are worth smiling for.

Check out this excerpt from Bill's letter to the Supes. He and his husband Fernando are in Washington for the Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, and when he returns I'll see what replies he's received. From his letter:

For over two years now we have simply requested a public meeting about a public policy for public access to public property. The rainbow, leather, bear, and transgendered flags have flown from the flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza to mark various events. 

The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC) have steadfastly refused to hold an open meeting where all the stakeholders could hear at the same time what everyone else was being told. They have changed their policy to now only allow the rainbow flag to fly.

We came to the HRC with the hopes that they might be the group that would provide us the mechanism for a public meeting. Commissioner Mavis, as you can see from the enclosed minutes, requested such a hearing. He wasn’t even informed when HRC's Chair decided that they wouldn’t hold a hearing.
Mayor's Paris Junket Cost Mogul Conway, BAR Owner How Much $$?

(Mayor Lee, Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe, San Francisco's Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz and Bay Area Reporter publisher Thomas E. Horn, smile for the cameras at Delanoe's office, March 20. Credit: Mayor Lee's Twitter feed.)

People with wealth, they are a different breed and enjoy access to San Francisco's mayor that mere peons can only dream about, should they win millions from Lotto. Not only do the rich enjoy the pleasure of Ed Lee's company behind closed doors to cut deals and push their agendas, they pull strings to have him and his staff make arrangements with French leaders that will benefit their business and political interests.

Mayor Ed Lee's office two-weeks ago submitted a disclosure of gifts of travel form to the Ethic Commission, which was posted to the commission's site in recent days. The first page, pictured, reveals he was in Paris from March 19 through the 21st.

Page 2, pictured, states that the entity sponsoring the trip was the San Francisco Paris Sister City Association, whose chair is Thomas E. Horn. He is listed as the contact person. Horn also owns the Bay Area Reporter, runs the Bob A. Ross Foundation which doles out a robust six-figures in annual donations to local gay and AIDS nonprofits, is the Honorary Consul for Monaco, is a board member of the War Memorial Arts Center and the San Francisco Ballet.

Three entities are listed as funders of the junket: the Conway Family Foundation, the H.B. and Lucille Horn Foundation of New Mexico and the City of Paris. Total tab paid by them is pegged at $10,000. Tech mogul Ron Conway is an active officer with his family's foundation, and Thomas E. Horn is president of the Horn foundation.

A local daily reported earlier this month that Conway would be in Paris during the mayor's visit, presumably on his own dime.

So, what happened while Mayor Lee was in gay Paree? The mayor's press release page is bereft of any info regarding what was accomplished during the junket, but a French Consulate General's press release provides answers:

On March 20th, 2013, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë and Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, focusing on the digital economy and smart cities. This agreement strengthens ties between the two cities . . .

Following the signature of this agreement, facilitated by the Consulate General of France in San Francisco, a meeting was held between Anne Hidalgo, First Deputy Mayor of Paris; Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco; Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of Innovation, Research and Universities; Ron Conway, the iconic Silicon Valley investor; and Stéphane Distinguin, Cap Digital’s President and an experienced entrepreneur.

By the way, page three of the mayor's disclosure form reveals in addition to Horn, five members of his staff were also on the junket: Charlotte Shultz, Chief of Protocol.  Mark Chandler, Director, Mayor's Office of international Trade & Commerce, Christine Falvey, Director, Mayor’s Office of Communications, Matthew Goudeau, Director, Mayor’s Office of Protocol, Caitlin Jacobson, Protocol Officer, Mayors Office of Protocol.

Wish I could recall the mayor and his staffers devoting a few days of their time and resources consulting and making deals with affordable housing advocates or ordinary folks worried about decent jobs and gentrification displacing longtime residents. Then again, such advocates don't have the wealth of the Conways and Horns to shower on Ed Lee.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Woof #33: Beards & Construction Workers

Slabs of concrete were being removed from a building on 11th Street near Market yesterday, and replaced with plate glass windows. The construction crew was having a good time using their big machines, and I had a great experience snapping photos of them with my small camera.

I'm happy to include these dudes in my latest series of hunky guys on the streets of San Francisco.

It's a good think I don't have to choose a favorite out of these guys because I find them all quite appealing to my queer eye.

The man with the sexiest mohawk, who was featured last week, makes another appearance with this shot from a different angle.

From any perspective, nudist activist Trey, who is making his third appearance in this woofy series, has quite an attractive look. Here he is in profile with that damn sexy shaved head of his shining in the sun.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dead Tree: Goodwill = Bad Neighbor

The intersection of Mission near 11th Street received a most welcome development in August. Goodwill Industries planted two trees in the middle of the busy sidewall a few feet from the main entrance to their offices and the Muni bus stop. That location bakes every day in the afternoon sun and any tree, much less one surrounded by massive concrete, is requires regular watering to survive.

Unfortunately, executives at Goodwill Industries didn't keep their promise to properly maintain the trees and keep them alive. The photo above was snapped today, showing one dead tree in need of removal and replacing. Another tree nearby, is doing okay enough and needs a thorough soaking.

Here's the first August note from Peter Gochis, who's in charge of the nonprofit's real estate:

You are absolutely right about these trees. We watered them this morning and will set up a weekly watering schedule. We will look into implementing your other suggestions shortly. Thanks again for your concern for these trees and making this urban corner a little more green.

When I saw the trees were again wilting, again I contact Gochis who replied:

We will water these trees twice a week for a few weeks—till they come back and then we will go on a once a week watering schedule. Thanks again for your input on our new trees.

I've no idea why Goodwill Industries installed the beautiful trees without a clear and doable plan of simple maintenance. Considering all the laborers they have on the payroll passing through the complex on Mission Street, I hoped Gochis and his colleagues would recruit a laborer to perform upkeep.

Let's hope Goodwill Industries' leaders soak the surviving tree, remove the dead tree, plant a new one and develop a plan to better care for all of the trees on or near their property.
'Hitler's Children': Superb Doc Screens Sunday in SF

Here's a question I've long pondered. What is life like for the offspring of Nazi leaders, especially those with notorious family names that evoke death and evil on a massive scale? Thanks to a new Israeli documentary directed by Chanoch Ze'evi provocatively titled "Hitler's Children", I have answers satisfying my basic curiosity but ones that beg further questions.

At a packed showing last night at the Yerba Buena Screening Room on Mission near 3rd Street, I felt the burdens of guilt and never-ending shame of the descendants of Nazis as they showed photos of their childhood or explained why they've written books and essays about their relatives.

Monika Goeth, daughter of notorious concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List", tells about seeing the film and the lies heard from her mother.

A great-niece of top Hitler adviser Hermann Goering, Bettina, speaks casually about she and her brother self-sterilizing to end their branch of the family when they eventually die.

We follow Rainer Hoess, grandson of the man who ran Auschwitz, looking at boyhood photos of himself playing at the family villa on the grounds of the camp, then taking the train for the first time as an adult.

The stories and emotional honesty presented whetted my appetite for more details, such as why haven't they legally changed their family names and how and when they told their children about their family's horrific legacy.

One huge drawback to "Hitler's Children" is an occasionally intrusive sound design and score. After Monika Goeth's brutal truth-telling, dissonant music plays tugging at the emotions. Her incredible aged and heavily lined face, pictured, along with her gravelly voice, more than convey emotion and depth without musical cues.

Very much a film worth seeing. The Yerba Buena Screening Room has one additional showing this weekend. It plays tomorrow, Sunday, at 2:00 pm. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Black Trans Leader to HRC: Flag Debate Now

Michael Pappas, pictured, is head of the LGBT advisory committee of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission and a member of the commission, who has spent years promoting human rights here at home and around the globe.

On Tuesday, March 19, he facilitated the monthly meeting of the advisory committee and I applaud how skillfully he ran the meeting.

Around the table in the HRC conference room at 25 Van Ness Avenue on the 8th floor, sat many members of the very diverse LGBT committee.

Public comment was taken at the beginning of the meeting and longtime black transgender, HIV positive, military veteran and global gay advocate Veronika Fimbres was the first to speak.

She spoke about the months of disrespect she suffered from leaders of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro, when trying in September and October to have equal access to the publicly-owned rainbow flag on public property at Harvey Milk Plaza. All she wanted to do was raise the Trans Flag for the international Trans Day of Remembrance, but she got such a runaround from MUMC she filed a complaint with the HRC.

Five months later, Veronika said, she's not received any updates from HRC executive director Theresa Sparks and she would like to know when HRC would help find a solution to the flag problems created by MUMC at Harvey Milk Plaza. Sparks was not present at Tuesday's meeting.

Bill Wilson, longtime community photographer and global gay rights activist, spoke next. He distributed a note and the excerpted minutes of recent HRC meetings showing commissioners were pressured to break their promise to hold a town hall meeting in the Castro about the flag.

After more than two-years of requesting numerous Castro leaders and stakeholder hold a simple open meeting for all to attend, and being thwarted every step of the way, Bill said he had expected the HRC to be an impartial leader working with all factions to create a solution.

Unfortunately, the commission has not fulfilled promises made to him but he remains hopeful the HRC will eventually do the right thing and host public discussions about the public flagpole.

I spoke after him, giving a history about the flag controversy. When Uganda's brave gay leader David Kato was brutally murdered on January 26, 2011, it sparked a request from myself on behalf of Gays Without Borders to MUMC to lower the rainbow flag. We want to mourn Kato and show solidarity with LGBT people of Uganda.

After much b.s., MUMC leaders did lower the flag for LGBT Ugandans and it opened up the question of why the LGBT community of San Francisco is not allowed to have equal access to the public flagpole and why it's controlled by a private group. That is the question we want addressed at an eventual HRC town hall meeting.

Michael Pappas thanked all of us for showing up and sharing our concerns, however, he dutifully noted that the advisory committee could not address the flagpole problems because it was not calendared for discussion. He urged us to share our concerns with the full commission, and we assured him that would happen.

All three of us -- Veronika, Bill and myself -- afterward felt so good we had the opportunity to voice our pain and reiterate our request for the HRC to play a role in foster community dialogue, understanding and an eventual compromise regarding the flag.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SF Symphony Salaries & Cayman Islands Bank Account

(Musicians picketing last week at Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street. Credit: Deborah Svaboda, KQED.)

The boyfriend and I were set to attend Sunday's Mahler concert at Davies Symphony Hall, but because of the musicians going out on strike the performance was cancelled. We are huge fans of the San Francisco Symphony and would like to see management and the union quickly reach an agreement settling the disputes.

Until then, a lot of parties are looking at the fiscal data contained in the company's IRS 990 filing for 2011 and opining about demands for better pay and benefits for musicians versus offers from management.

The union has a tough row to hoe, in that its members on average earn more than $145,000 with robust benefits and lots of ordinary folks can only dream about such annual pay and benefits. Performers want to keep pace with colleagues in other American orchestras. Hundreds of comments at the SF Chronicle since the strike began have been overwhelmingly negative toward the musicians.

Check out the Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony web site here.

Management has come off more sympathetically in much of the coverage, but they have also been criticized for the compensation given to top executives by union members and supporters. There is also a healthy reserve of funds in company coffers. The company does not post its IRS 990 and I suggest that management quickly post their three most recent filings on their site.

Since I have not seen any reporting about all of the salaries in a single post or story, including that of the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, top management personnel and the musicians, and pertinent fiscal details from the latest IRS 990, I've excerpted that info.

Total assets at the end of FY 2011 were listed at $262,684,515, a jump from $229,709,012. Revenue went from $59.4 million to $86.4 million.

There is an off-shore account maintained in the Cayman Islands, something the Southern Poverty Law Center also has (along with a similarly healthy amount in assets), and may not be unusual for a nonprofit with such robust assets. Still, it needs to be known that the account exists for the symphony.

Government grants, which are not specified as whether they're from the city, state or federal government, total $818,000

Did you know this? The music conductor and face of the symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, is not listed as an employee in the tax filing. His corporation MTT Inc is listed as an independent contractor and the compensation is $2,412,662.

Here are the compensation figures for others, as listed on the filing:

Robert Assink, executive director

Mark Koenig, chief financial officer

John Kieser, general manager

Mara Finerty, human resources director

Gregg Gleasner, artistic planning director

Nan Keeton, external affairs director

Robert Lasher, development director

Alexander Barantschik, concertmaster and violinist

Nadya Tichman, associated concertmaster and violinist

Mark Inouye, principal trumpet

William Bennett (RIP), principal oboe

Robert Ward, principle horn

The Foundation Center site provides IRS 990s for the symphony from 2002 to 2011. Click here to read them all, as the strike drags on, and registration is not required.

(Tip o' the hat to Michael Strickland and his SF Civic Center blog for his reporting on the labor and management problems, and getting the ball rolling on salary info.)
Nude-In on City Hall Steps, Friday at Noon

There are two significant blots of shame on San Francisco's pro-gay and liberal reputation, and they're based on the same fears and prejudice.

We have a ban on gay bathhouses because politicians, alarmist health officials and squeamish gay leaders in the 1980s, at the height of AIDS hysteria, said gay men couldn't be trusted to engage in safe sexual practices behind closed doors. Decades later, we have a new ban, this one prohibiting all persons but mainly gay men, from being nude in the streets.

Prudes and ambitious politicians don't want us gathering naked in private commercial spaces with doors, nor will they allow us to congregate on the public streets balls and busts blowing in the wind.

I'm so pleased to promote an action at the end of the week, organized by several of my nudist friends, to challenge the nudity ban. Mitch Hightower, nudist organizer who is a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit filed by civil rights attorney Christina DiEdoardo challenging the ban, has created a Facebook page about the action and shares these details:

Protest Info: Nudity Ban Protest
Friday, Mar 22
12:00p to 1:00p
San Francisco City Hall

Join a group of activists for a noon-time demonstration on the Polk Steps at San Francisco City Hall. We are protesting the nudity ban and the illegal arrests of nude activists by the SFPD. This protest is a city permitted demonstration. As long as you remain on the steps the SFPD has no jurisdiction to cite or arrest you. The Sheriff's Department has already stated publicly that deputies will not cite nude people exercising their First Amendment Rights at this protest. 

A press release from Hightower and other plaintiffs provides info about their filing an amendment to their lawsuit:

"The City has wasted no time to repeatedly and illegally arrest my clients in violation of both the Ordinance's plain language and the provisions of the California Penal Code," said DiEdoardo. 

Violation of the ordinance is supposed to be treated as an infraction. Under California Penal Code section 853.5(a), a police officer is required to offer an individual who is charged with an infraction and who can prove their identity the chance to sign the citation and promise to appear at a later hearing. If the person does that, they cannot be arrested. 

However, the City and SFPD have repeatedly ignored these requirements at a Feb. 1, 2013 demonstration at City Hall as well as a February 27, 2013 dance performance in the Castro. 

"Since the plain language of the Ordinance and the Penal Code are apparently insufficient to compel the City and the SFPD to live up to their responsibilities, we have asked the Hon. Edward M. Chen to issue a temporary restraining order compelling the SFPD to cease these illegal arrests," said DiEdoardo. 

I not only support the nudists in their legal fight and wish I could attend their nude-in on Friday, I also propose the lifting of the ban against bathhouses for gay adults in San Francisco. Thank you, nudists, for keeping our city fabulously weird and unique!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NYR: Stalin Humiliated With 'Homoerotic Overtones'

In a review of the "Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War" by Frank Costigliola, homo related details previously unknown to me were dropped. From the March 21 edition of the New York Review of Books:

Stalin himself was famously a night worker, which turned upside down the lives not only of his immediate underlings but of many important Communists inside and outside the Soviet Union. Few could be acknowledged as truly belonging to the Party elite unless they worked all night and slept through most of the day. As a host, Stalin liked to order his underlings to sing and to dance. In the author’s words, “Stalin liked imposing humiliation with homoerotic overtones.” ...

Official Russian receptions, however, whether at Yalta or in Moscow, aimed at getting the guests drunk, presumably in order to coax from them their secrets. In reality, the hosts did not take better to alcohol than most Americans. So these nights were marked by drunken scenes, babbled declarations of brotherly love, and traditional Russian kisses on the mouth, which Costigliola calls “homosocial” behavior. ...

By the time of the Yalta conference in February 1945, some of Roosevelt’s closest advisers, including his irreplaceable assistant Marguerite “Missy” LeHand, had died; his adviser Sumner Welles had had to resign in 1943 because of charges of homosexuality [were no longer at the president's side] ...

Always good to learn more homo history trivia and share it.

Human Rights Commission Budget Jeopardized Over Rainbow Flag

Over at the We Like Mike support blog operated by my good friend Todd Swindell, he reports on the fiscal problems faced by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission if they keep a promise to the LGBT community.

That promise was made back in November by the HRC to community documenatarian Bill Wilson, the at-large gay community and myself.

The details of what the HRC has done since then and why they could suffer a downsizing in their budget, as reflected in their extensive minutes, are shared by Todd here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

At Mediation, SF Gay Cop Admits He Lied

(Capt. Bob Moser, Castro Benefits District executive director Andrea Aiello, and Police Officer Chuck Limbert, Nov. 1's MUMC meeting.)

When police officers lie, public safety and trust are betrayed, and if it's a cop who happens to be gay and the liaison between the department and the LGBT community there's an additional degree of betrayal.

On Friday, March 16, San Francisco police officer Chuck Limbert of the Mission/Castro station finally appeared before the Office of Citizen Complaints of the Police Commission, to deal with the complaint I lodged against him on November 5. My complaint questioned whether Limbert told the truth when he claimed he was off-duty on November 1 at the monthly meeting of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro, a private organization.

At the one-hour mediation session, after I restated my complaint before mediators Bill Hafferty and Tamara Lange, and fellow activists and co-complainants Rusty Mills and Bill Wilson, Limbert readily admitted he lied at the MUMC meeting.

"I was not accurate in what I told you. I was on duty," Limbert said.

Upon questioning from me about why he lied at the meeting, saying he was acting as a security guard and hostess with the mostess telling folks where to sit, how to behave, to stop videotaping or snapping photos and drawing attention to the fact that he was out-of-uniform and in street clothes, Limbert offered lame excuses.

First, he had been so stressed from working long hours the previous day and into the wee hours of Halloween night in the Castro and was operating on only a few hours sleep he was confused about whether he was getting paid for the hours he was putting in for MUMC. Second, because so many merchants had expressed fears that public space advocates and nudists would be in attendance, he decided to help out MUMC. Limbert never stated precisely what fears his merchant friends had that forced him to lie.

If the stress was so burdensome he couldn't recall whether he was being paid by taxpayer funds for his time, he should have just stayed home since clearly by his rationale his mental capacity was greatly diminished.

Considering the Mission/Castro's police captain Bob Moser would be there along with two uniformed cops inside the meeting room at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, and 8 to 10 additional cops were stationed outside the center, was it necessary to have Limbert also present? Just how much taxpayer-funded private security and hostessing services was (and still is) provided by the SFPD to MUMC?

Limbert said he treats everyone fairly and equally regarding Castro community disputes, as both a cop and a gay man who lives in the neighborhood. I scoffed at this new inaccuracy, pointing out he had just admitted he lied in November and that his lie and actions at MUMC's meeting were clear evidence he is biased and partial toward that group.

"The Castro is harmed by the police gay liaison further fracturing the already highly-factionalized neighborhood," I said to Limbert. "We've been lied to by MUMC, falsely claiming they have a written agreement with the city to solely control the flagpole. Now, on top of MUMC's lies, we have you copping to lying."

Since we now know Limbert lied about such a basic matter as being on-duty, it calls into question everything else he has done in past and being the self-appointed "Mayor of the Castro". For years, he's thrown his weight around as a gay cop and made threats to arrest activists not breaking any laws but who are upsetting his merchants buddies. MUMC says jump, and Limbert colludes with them and asks how high.

When he explained he's worked inside the department -- from the top brass down to the new recruits -- to educate colleagues about who's who and what's what in the Castro and larger gay community, I shuddered with dismay. Not helpful to have this cop who's gay and an admitted liar poisoning the thinking of other cops. The distrust I have toward Limbert extends beyond him to the entire force.

This development showing how one component of law enforcement in San Francisco serves at the beck-and-call of MUMC, is cause to reexamine the recent behavior of another such component, the District Attorney's Office, in the matter of the SodaStream pro-Palestinian demonstration in December.

You'll recall activists went in to Cliff's Variety Store, owned by Terry Bennett who is the president of MUMC, to protest the sale of Israeli-made soda machines and sing songs. The store's workers were caught on camera assaulting and pushing the activists, who filed complaints with the Mission/Castro police station and which were passed over to the District Attorney's Office. As I reported in February, the DA has not brought charges against the workers at Cliff's.

Why did it take more than four months for the mediation to happen? In mid December, mediation was held with Capt. Moser, activist Rusty Mills and myself with the OCC and Limbert was supposed to be there. Two hours before the mediation, Limbert contacted Moser and the OCC to say he was sick with the flu and couldn't attend. After the new year began, he was out on sick leave for an extended period and I assured the OCC that whenever he was back on duty, we still wanted mediation with him.

There will be no departmental punishment meted out to Limbert over this. The mediation services of the OCC are designed to foster communication and better understanding in such community conflicts. Limbert's file will simply be marked stating a complaint was lodged against him, details and outcome omitted.

If you've had dealings with Limbert, or any member of the SFPD, and think you were lied to or otherwise question their actions, please get in touch the Office of Citizen Complaints. Click here to visit their web page and learn what their duties are and how to file a complaint.

I wonder what Harvey Milk would think of the collusion between Limbert and MUMC, and how the general LGBT public is constantly lied to by the Castro's "Mayor" and merchants.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekend Woof #32: Bronze, Ebony & Ivory Dudes

Here in the Bay Area this past week, we were blessed with simply fabulous weather. I was out and about on my bicycle, snapping photos of attractive dudes, some of whom were displaying a decent amount of skin. All very pleasing to my queer eye. Much gratitude to these fine dudes for striking great poses in front of my camera.

Here we have nudist activist Trey, dressed in business drag, after a recent court appearance with one of the sexiest shaved heads in town.

Say hello to Ron, who looked quite sexy with his perfect mohawk haircut and in a tank top tee shirt on Market Street.

These gentlemen were spotted on Wednesday afternoon down at the farmers' market at United Nations Plaza.

I know Tony from assorted AIDS functions over the years, and here he is on his way to the SF DPH's AIDS Office for an appointment.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Stephen Fry Meets Russian Gays, Promotes 'Coming Out'

Last month, I blogged here and here about out British actor and activist Stephen Fry traveling to Uganda because he's making a documentary about LGBT people around the world, and the oppression they face.

This past week, he was freezing his butt off in Russia interviewing homophobes and meeting with gay advocates, getting it all on videotape. In both countries, he skillfully used his celebrity status to give visibility to matters dear to him including gay human rights, animal and environmental protections, and atheism.

While in St. Petersburg, Fry went to the office of the Coming Out organization and met with the staff and volunteers who are providing social services to LGBT Russians and bravely push for political changes. A few Coming Out folks posed with him, pictured, and a portion of their banner is visible on the right side of the photo.

Polina Andrianova, the leader of Coming Out, had this to say after she met Fry: After adoption of the "propaganda" law, LGBT people of St. Petersburg experienced more violence, aggression, and intimidation. In the name of protecting kids, this law violates the rights of young people to information. Teachers can no longer condemn homophobic bullying, same-sex families raising children fear repercussions of this law every day. Support from respected and loved people like Stephen Fry is doubly important to inspire and encourage LGBT people to continue standing up for their dignity.

The actor was very liberal in his praise of the people he spent time with: Although I've been horrified and angry at the brutish tyranny of the many homophobic people who are supported by the government, what has touched me much more has been the work of the  courageous LGBT activists. Those who stand up to bullying, stand up to homophobia, stand up to name calling, stand up to violence. They do so, because they are proud of who they are. They have the dignity and all the rights that any human being should have. And in time, all of Russia will know that too.

At his Twitter account, Fry modestly reported that the local media had some interest in him and his agenda, and at one point he held a press conference that was quite well attended, pictured.

It makes me so happy to see Fry feeding two birds with one seed, when visiting Uganda and Russia, and probably the other countries where he is filming for his documentary. He has an impact as a proud gay celebrity who attracts much press coverage, and he shows solidarity and expresses deep concern with local LGBT people when he interviews them.

We sure could use a few more LGBT celebrities putting their stardom to good use like Fry is doing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Yorker Omits Socarides' GLAAD Link

Here's another reason why I find Democratic Party hack and New Yorker magazine blogger Richard Socarides lacks an ethical compass. Today he asks "Is there hope for Pope Francis on gay rights?" and fails to make a necessary and ethical disclosure. He writes:

Herndon Graddick, the President of GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in a statement right after Francis was named: "In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely. This, in spite of the fact that the Catholic hierarchy had been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care. We hope this Pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing."

Put aside for a moment the ridiculousness of GLAAD, an organization known more for its worthless celebrity suck-up red carpet award galas that make the Golden Globes parties look like the Nobel Prize award ceremonies, pretending to have a commitment to the poor and their dirty feet.

I wish to point out that Socarides once served as a member of GLAAD's board of directors, a fact that should have been disclosed by the either by him in his essay or in the New Yorker bio for him.

It's bad enough New Yorker editor David Remnick has devalued his brand by giving Socarides a perch from which to pontificate, without ever providing readers with a full accounting of his role in providing political cover to Bill Clinton when he screwed the gays by signing the Defense of Marriage Act.

Must Remnick also allow Socarides to quote the leader of a group he once was affiliated with and raised money for, and not disclose the affiliation? Now would be an excellent time for the few remaining media critics out there to question why Remnick hired Socarides, and point out the myriad ethical problems and baggage the former White House aide carries.

Political Prisoners' Town Hall Tonite @ 518 Valencia

Friends of mine have organized an important town hall meeting to support political or radical prisoners, or those who have served time and have regained their freedom. I'll be there to show solidarity with these folks and their causes. Please stop by and listen to what the speakers have to say. Here's the info:

Thursday March 14th 
518 Valencia near 16th Street

All Of Us Or None - Linda Evans 
SHAC 7 - Josh Harper 
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition - Azadeh Zohrabi 
Sacramento Prisoner Support - Jenny Esquivel 

Hear from former prisoners who continue to organize for a better world and activists who organize support for loved ones inside prison. Find out how to support the next hunger strike at Pelican Bay. Come together to build a multi-issued movement to fight repression & support our prisoners. 

The goal of this event is to promote movement building with a focus on prisoners. Each movement has prisoners in common and we value our prisoners' voices. When we build bridges with each other, our movements get stronger. We can create a culture of resistance that is supportive and ultimately more powerful together. A five dollar donation is requested. This is event is being held in an accessible space.
ACT UPers, GMHC Co-Founder on Fain Letter to Kramer

Several friends wrote to me about the May 1983 letter from the late gay journalist Nathan Fain to writer and activist Larry Kramer, that I posted on Tuesday. Here are their responses and I'm grateful for their insights.

Duncan Osborne, ACT UP vet and writer for Gay City News, says:

Ouch! Kramer got his comeuppance in that one, didn't he? What is the reference to the doctor who was hospitalized? I take it that was an actual person known to Kramer and Fain.

Yes, it was a real person, Dr. Larry Mass, who was a co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis and editor of the anthology "We Must All Love One Another or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer". Larry Mass writes:

As is now common knowledge and widely documented and dramatized, there was a lot of contention with Larry Kramer during that period of the founding and earliest organizing of GMHC, prior to Larry's separation from GMHC and its Board. This letter from Nathan recapitulates a lot of the concerns and free-flowing anxieties and especially ambivalence of those days and moments. Nathan went further than most of us in trying to spell out his concerns about Larry directly to Larry. ...

In those earliest days, before Larry Kramer had really established his commitment to the gay community and gay politics (prior to this, it was common knowledge in the political gay community that Larry had never participated in a gay community political initiative), it proved irresistible to many, including me but especially Nathan, to reject a lot of what Larry was saying and doing, especially his tactics, as more self-motivated, self-absorbed, self-promoting and perhaps also self-hating (internalized homophobia) than in everybody's best interests. ...

And here in the letter is the extraordinary revelation by Nathan that when all is said and done, he himself wasn't sure either [if Larry wasn't exactly the leader the gays needed]. You will have to ask Larry if this letter from Nathan planted the first or one of the first seeds for what became ACT UP, but it's the first mention of such an initiative by anyone that I know of. It represents remarkable historical sleuthing on your part, Michael. ...

It was Nathan who, after my hospitalization for depression that he alludes to in his letter here (and that Larry Kramer dramatizes in The Normal Heart), coaxed me back into involvement with GMHC. ...

Nathan was the first person I knew of to die of cancer of the kidney, in association with HIV. But more tragic were the circumstances under which he died. Nathan came from Nacogdoches, Texas, where his family owned the regional press. They were wealthy, well-connected, conservative Christians and virulently homophobic. When they discovered that Nathan had AIDS, they totally abandoned him and left him to die alone in a godforsaken small-town Texas hospital bed surrounded by God-knows what kind of prejudice and hostility.

Walter Armstrong, also a veteran of ACT UP and the former editor of POZ magazine, offers this observation:

This is a remarkable letter. I think Nathan Fain gets down in print some of the frustrations others have had with Larry Kramer, aspects of his personality that could be destructive of the trust and transparency that can keep activism alive. We saw some of that in ACT UP but fortunately he kept coming back.

Nathan is scathing about the creation of a group of angry gay men and lesbians who will follow Larry Kramer like martinets and elevate him to leadership. But it did not turn out quite that way in ACT UP—which I think was good for the group and for Larry. 

To be fair to Larry, he was pushing the other GMHC guys to be more confrontational and political, and they were scared, which in retrospect seems appalling. And ACT UP was filled with impossible people with personality disorders who got a lot done.  

Having said all of this, I have great affection and respect for Larry as an activist and a writer. He had the courage to face the catastrophe very early and enough gay pride to believe that the community could save its own life. 

Jean Carlomusto, longtime lesbian activist, filmmaker and ACT UP vet, chimes in:

Thank you for posting this. Nathan's letter contains it all. Larry's brashness, the coming together of community and the willing suspension of disbelief of how big a crisis AIDS was to become. I am so thankful you are still around to dig up these nuggets of truth. 

Me too, Jean! Many thanks to her, Duncan, Larry Mass, Walter and everyone both dead and living who banded together in the 1980s to fight AIDS, get angry and organized, and who made ACT UP the force-to-be-reckoned-with that changed and saved countless lives.

[UPDATE: Just heard from Chris Geidner who writes for BuzzFeed and he informed me of his post about the 1983 letter. It's posted here.]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Amnesty's 82-Page Iraq Rights Abuses: 1 Gay Citation

When the world learned about the horrific anal gluing and death-by-induced-diarrhea of homosexuals in April of 2009, my activist group Gays Without Borders created a Tomb of the Unknown Gay in San Francisco's Harvey Milk Plaza, pictured.

Around the globe, countless voices of LGBT people and our allies that month expressed grave concern for gays and transgenders in Iraq, targeted by militias linked to the government and subject to gruesome abuses and torture. Activists in New York City staged a vigil at and delivered a letter of protest to the Iraqi government's Mission to the United Nations.

In March of last year, graphic photos circulated on the web of dead young gays and emos and goths killed when cement blocks were dropped on their skulls, pictured.

A disturbing video also emerged a year ago showing a teenage emo executed by hanging from an overhead highway.

Gays Without Borders staged a speakout and vigil in San Francisco's gay Castro District, condemning the brutal murders of gay, emo and goth Iraqi youths, again by militias linked to the government.

The systemic torture and murder and other abuses suffered by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Iraq over the past decade, along with the spate of emo and goth deaths in 2009, has been well-documented and widely reported yet oddly omitted by an analysis published this week by Amnesty International.

From their site:

Amnesty’s 82-page report - Iraq: A Decade of Abuses (PDF) - catalogues years of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees committed by Iraqi security forces and by foreign troops in the wake of the 2003 invasion. It highlights the Iraqi authorities’ failure to observe their obligations to uphold human rights and respect the rule of law in the face of deadly attacks by armed groups.

On page 62, passing reference is made to anything gay-specific, bolding added:

Those excluded from the amnesty are defined in Article 2 of the law – these are prisoners who have been sentenced to death under the Iraqi Penal Code; those serving prison sentences for acts of terrorism resulting in death or permanent disability; those sentenced for crimes against humanity as set out in Article 1 of Law No.10, which established the SICT; and those sentenced for premeditated murder, kidnapping, rape, homosexual acts, adultery, incest, forging official documents, counterfeiting, smuggling artefacts, and offences under the Iraqi Military Criminal Code. 

That's it for this Amnesty report saying a damn thing about gays in Iraq. At least we got one citation. The emos and goths didn't receive any mention. 

The freakish hell unleashed by United States declaring war on Iraq unleashed countless acts of abuses and deaths, many of which are contained in the report, but the gay, emo and goth omissions are a blot of shame on Amnesty's resume.