Thursday, October 31, 2013

SF Supes Pull Navy Vet From Mic in Handcuffs: Why?

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(The incident starts at the 4:00 minute mark.)

Every week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting show their deep contempt for their bosses, the voters and taxpayers, by never having a fixed time for public comment. They willy-nilly allow public comment and generally require ordinary citizens to wait hours for a chance to address the board - for two minutes, at the end of the meeting. During public comment, the supervisors either take a pee break, cruise the web on their computers or chat among themselves.

On Tuesday, October 22, during public comment longtime good government advocate and U.S. Navy veteran Ray Hartz was handcuffed by two sheriff's deputies at the direction of board president David Chui. What was Ray's offense? The speaker before him, Peter Warfield, a sunshine advocate, had the mic cut off by Chui, for a very minor infraction. Peter reports:

Ray had called out "Gestapo" as he approached the lectern -- because a sheriff's deputy was approaching me as I finished my comment a few seconds longer than the unlawfully-minimal two minutes (Sunshine Ordinance says speakers are to be given three minutes). [Open government advocate] James Chaffee was arrested a year ago in the chambers. 

And what does Ray have to report?

What I said was one word, which disrupted nothing!  It was also during Public Comment and I was the next speaker, approaching the podium when I said what I said.  I have to go back and check, but, I think Chiu had already said "next speaker," which was me.  As Mr. Chaffee noted earlier, Chiu had a number of options and he chose to act in what I consider an illegal manner.  He could have admonished me, other many other things, but, denying me my Constitutional right to speak was not one of his options!

In the excerpted video above, Chui is heard talking about an alleged outburst by Ray and that is reason enough to deny him a chance to use public comment. I'd sure like to see the law that allows the board president to decide what defines an outburst and how that precludes making public comment. Watch almost any Tuesday meeting and you'll hear plenty of short seconds-long outbursts of applause or booing from the audience.

Ray said one word, a bit loudly, interrupted none of supervisors and was clearly not engaging in a sustained disruption, yet Chui gave him no chance to collect himself and simply speak for two-minutes. Instead, Chui bullied Ray when he directed the deputies to handcuff him and then force him out of the board's chambers.

(Ray, in the center, before he was handcuffed. Credit: Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press.)

Despite the facts that the manhandling of Ray and stifling of his free speech rights were broadcast on SF Gov TV, and that San Francisco is an alleged bastion of free speech and the right to petition local government, not one supervisor protested during or after the incident. Hello, alleged progressive members of the board - David Campos, John Avalos, Eric Mar, Jane Kim, Norman Yee - why do you remain silent on this?

Heck, I'd also like to know why the progressives are not pushing for a fixed time at Tuesday's meetings for public comment.

The only media coverage about the incident was by Josh Wolf at the SF Public Press. Thanks and good work, Josh.

Over at the Bay Guardian, which claims to be the paper of record for progressives, nothing about the incident has been reported on their site or in their print edition. Sure would be great if the Bay Guardian took its tongue off the buttholes of Campos and Avalos, and pushed them to develop a board policy mandating an iron-clad time for public comment.

Just before the incident, Hartz said that he resented the way the supervisors were talking among themselves during public comment. Chiu had been in a private conversation with two other supervisors during the previous speaker’s comment.
The supervisors “do not feel any obligation to actually listen,” when the public addresses them, Hartz said after the confrontation. “They always talk this line about how much they appreciate public input, but when members of the public actually get up to give their public input, they do everything but spit in our soup.”
Hartz was escorted out of City Hall and admonished for his behavior, said Susan Fahey, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. Hartz said he planned to file a complaint against Chiu with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.
- See more at:
Just before the incident, Hartz said that he resented the way the supervisors were talking among themselves during public comment. Chiu had been in a private conversation with two other supervisors during the previous speaker’s comment.
The supervisors “do not feel any obligation to actually listen,” when the public addresses them, Hartz said after the confrontation. “They always talk this line about how much they appreciate public input, but when members of the public actually get up to give their public input, they do everything but spit in our soup.”
Hartz was escorted out of City Hall and admonished for his behavior, said Susan Fahey, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. Hartz said he planned to file a complaint against Chiu with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.
- See more at:
Outcome of SF HIV Councils' Votes to Merge?

Earlier this week, I blogged about an upcoming vote at the San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council during a joint meeting with the HIV Prevention Planning Council on Monday to merge into a single council. More than one-hundred members of the councils, assorted staffers from the Department of Public Health and AIDS Inc groups, along with a few members of the general public were in attendance during the three hours I was present.

During public comment, at which I was the only person with AIDS to speak, I argued for merging the councils to make it easier for PWAs to attend meetings and lessen our meeting-burdens as we juggle doctor visits, picking up prescriptions and alternative healing appointments. With dwindling dollars from federal agencies, the councils need to show PWAs and at-risk populations that council members are doing all they can to diminish duplication of services and reduce overhead costs.

During the presentation by Michael DeMayo, longtime consultant to the councils, and CARE Council members Laura Thomas and Andrew Lopez, it was clear what they were outlining regarding the nuts-and-bolts of a merger would greatly benefit consumers of prevention and treatment programs in San Francisco. 

Check out the proposal here.

They also said something I was unaware of that is San Francisco is one of the very few areas with two councils, and that lots of cities and counties years ago merged councils without disruption of services. Instead of being a leader, San Francisco is sorely lacking in terms of integrating these decision-making bodies and improving services for consumers.

The prevention council has already voted in favor of merging, but on Monday night the CARE Council rejected the proposal to merge. The motion needed a two-thirds majority to pass but with 14 yes votes, 10 no votes and 2 abstentions the motion didn't pass.

Make no mistake. The CARE Council's rejection of the proposal harms PWAs. It will take more time and attending lots of additional meetings, but I believe in the long run San Francisco two panels are eventually going to become one.

Many thanks to the prevention council members who endorsed merging and to the 14 members of the CARE Council who voted yes. You did the right thing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NYC HIV Stats Down 38%, DoH Preps New Epi Profile

What's happening with statistics for new HIV diagnoses in the five boroughs of New York City, according to the Department of Health? The October 2012 semi-annual HIV epi survey's historical chart, above, shows in the light blue line on the lower right that such diagnoses are in a decline.

It's not only new HIV diagnoses that have fallen but also full-blown AIDS cases and deaths are also decreasing. But what is the percentage decline from 2001 to 2011 in new HIV diagnoses?

Since there are no hard numbers behind each yearly blue dot, in the historical chart up top, I don't know the number of new HIV diagnoses in 2001 but I estimate the number was 5,900. Numbers of HIV and AIDS diagnoses are counted in the four-digits, as explained on the far left sideways explanation in red.

Using the 2001 estimate of 5,900 against the 3,400 figure for new HIV diagnoses in 2011, a figure that comes from the NYC DoH's PowerPoint presentation HIV/AIDS in New York City, 2007-2011, above, I guesstimate the drop at 38%.

This chart is from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, from their HIV-STD-Hepatitis C epi report which was published in May, and shows newly diagnoses HIV cases statewide from 2002 - 2010.Here's are the excellent declining developments:

Newly diagnosed HIV cases have fallen steadily over this time period, with over 6,000 cases in 2002, which decline to under 4,000 in 2010. This represented a 37% drop in newly diagnosed cases over this 9-year period.

The statewide drop of 37% I believe bolsters my contention that the decline in NYC stats is 38%, for roughly the same time period.

The state epi profile also contains welcomed news about new HIV cases by racial categories. The orange bars represent black cases, Hispanics with green bars and white cases are the blue bars:

This figure demonstrates that the successes observed in [over all HIV cases] have also been observed among the three most populous racial/ethnic groups in NYS. In fact, the sharpest decline was observed among black persons, with a 42% decrease, followed by Hispanic (35%) and white (26%) persons. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Multi-race were too small to provide meaningful trends, therefore are not shown.

Another important decline among a very high-risk population is seen in the state chart for people who inject substances:

The substantial decline in newly diagnosed HIV cases among injecting drug users represents another significant achievement in the history of the AIDS epidemic. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injecting drug use declined by 78% from 2002 to 2010.

I asked NYC DoH spokeswoman Diane Hepps why there is no October 2013 semi-annual epi report, as there have been such reports for the past seven years. Hepps replied:

Note we won’t be releasing a report this October but we will be releasing an annual report by the end of the year. The inaugural annual report will be released by end of year and we will continue to publish mid-year reports. 

Whenever a department of public health is ending publication of any HIV epi reports, I believe there should be a public notice about it on the department's web site. That is not the case with DoH. There is no info on the surveillance page about ending the October semi-annuals and that they are are launching a new annual report. Let's hope DoH soon informs the public about the pending changes.

Finally, here is Hepps' reply to my question about why the NYC stats for new HIV diagnoses are down:

It is likely that the reasons for this decline are multifactorial and include a broad scale-up of routine HIV screening in NYC with prompt linkage to care, support for staying in care and adhering to HIV treatment, as well as widespread availability of sterile syringes and free condoms, among other factors.

When the inaugural annual report is released in December, we'll see if the declines continue.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blade: NAPWA Trademark Sold to Health HIV for $3,000

(In other NAPWA news, the organization's site has finally closed. A note has been posted about the end of the group.)

Longtime Washington Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro delivers much needed accountability to the demise of NAPWA. Many thanks, Lou!

Wish I could say it's shocking how AIDS Inc and the former leaders of NAPWA have swept the problems under the rug, but I've learned over the decades of the epidemic that full accountability is as rare as the cure for AIDS. From Lou's story in the current Blade:

In a little-noticed development, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Maryland last month agreed to reopen the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case of the National Association of People With AIDS three months after the court closed the case and ruled more than $750,000 owed to creditors could not be paid.

According to court documents, Judge Paul Mannes agreed to a motion by bankruptcy trustee Laura Margulies requesting that the case be reopened to allow NAPWA to sell its trademark for the name “National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day” to the recently formed organization called Health HIV, which is located at 2000 S St., N.W., near Dupont Circle.

“This asset is unlisted in the Debtor’s Petition; however, the Trustee and Buyer have agreed upon a value and entered into a purchase agreement,” according to an Oct. 3 “notice of private sale” of the trademark issued by Margulies. It lists the agreed upon purchase price as $3,000. [...]

Brian Hujdich, executive director of Health HIV, said none of the people from NAPWA would have any involvement in the financial aspects of the organization and would be limited to policy-related issues. Hujdich couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about his group’s arrangement to purchase the trademark for National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

What a waste of $3,000. Hujdich and his Health HIV organization could have saved themselves that amount, on top of lawyer and court fees, and simply come up with a new name for an AIDS awareness day targeting gays.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ignoring Judge's Order, Castro Supervisor Emails Me - 6th Time

(Click to enlarge and see the date stamp of when the victim sent me his latest newsletter.)

The District 8 member of the Board of Supervisors wasted an estimated $26,000 in City funds to carry out a vendetta against me after I snapped his photo in a public City Hall men's room a year ago this month. He ginned up the criminal justice agencies - the sheriff, the district attorney and the police - to put the screws to me and clogged up the court with a matter that could have been settled via mediation at the Human Rights Commission.

The Supervisor had the district attorney's office drag me though eight months of court hearing, alleging great fears if I came near him - with a camera. During negotiations, Superior Court Judge Sam Feng ordered the district attorney to tell the victim and his staff to cease and desist with any contact from him and his office to me. Did the DA fail to follow the judge's directions?

As I blogged about in September, he's sending me his monthly newsletter again via one of his City-funded email accounts. During the eight months of court proceedings where he had the district attorney arguing there should be draconian measures to keep me from contacting him, the Supervisor emailed his newsletters to me four times.

Here it is October and he's still hitting my in-box with his current newsletter, which contains invitations to several events where he'll be speaking. Ugh.

Maybe the Supervisor's fans and mouthpieces in the local media - Joe Eskenazi of the SF Weekly, C.W. (Chuck) Nevius and the editors of the SF Chronicle - can tell me how many victims in such criminal matters as the one I had with the politician, continue to communicate with their perpetrators and extend invitations to join them at public functions, while willfully disregarding a judge's order.

Really, six emails with newsletters from the Supervisor undercut his victim status and many of the allegations he lodged against me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Merger? SF's HIV Prevention & Treatment Councils' 10/28 Meeting

When my friend Hank Wilson was alive and we were attending the monthly HIV Prevention Planning Council and Ryan White CARE Act councils, along with their many various committees, to exert influence as persons with AIDS and consumers of services at AIDS Inc groups funded by the councils. At times, Hank and I would split up attending meetings separately to prevent stress and burnout, and make sure at least one of us was present to use public comment.

We pushed for merging the councils for a host of reasons. Better coordination between the federal agencies funding the councils and service agencies to meet the needs of consumers, via the guidance of the SF Department of Public Health. Less burden on PWAs and activists not working for AIDS Inc to carve out time and expend energy getting to and participating in council meetings.

Over the years, AIDS Inc folks have also embraced the calls for at least expanded and formal coordination between the councils, and the radical idea to merge them into one occasionally comes up for discussion. With the scaling back of federal HIV dollars and programs, increasing needs of PWAs who are living longer and genuine structural innovation required to reflect the reality of HIV today in San Francisco, it's time to create a single council.

On Monday, October 28, the prevention council is holding its regular quarterly meeting at 3:00 pm at the SF DPH AIDS Office at 25 Van Ness Avenue on the 6th floor.

At 4:30 pm at the same location is when the prevention and Ryan White councils will hold their semi-annual joint meeting. On the agenda is developing more cooperation between the councils.

What's the big ticket item on the agenda? This is what will be bringing a substantial crowd to the joint meeting, according to DPH's site: Collaborative Planning Presentation Jurisdictional Plan Update.

Click here to read the full agenda, which has ample opportunities for public comment which I will take advantage of. I expect not just a long meeting but one that is also lively and productive, all to directly benefit people living with HIV/AIDS and gay men's wellness.
Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson Smashes Salary Ceiling

For years, I've pushed the executive director of the gay marriage group Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson, pictured, to get with the voluntary transparency agenda and he has steadfastly refused. It's a shame he won't join the likes of G/L Advocates and Defenders, which shares eight years' filing on their site; HRC, GLAAD, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and GMHC all of which post five years' of IRS 990s, and Lambda Legal, three years' worth are shared on its site.

FTM stands alone in that it posts not a single 990 on its financials page. (Ok, not quite true because National Organization for Marriage currently also doesn't post any 990s, like they once did. Isn't weird to think FTM and NOM would share anything in common?)

I obtained Wolfson's 2012 IRS 990s, for FTM's 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 arms, from their chief operating officer Scott Davenport recently and here are the listed names and salaries:


Marc Solomon, national campaign director:

Thalia Zapatos, director of public engagement:


Scott Kongslie; development director

Wolfson has smashed the quarter million dollar salary ceiling and this week I asked Davenport to explain why their group keeps their 990s off their site, and he replied:

Our rationale is that Freedom to Marry provides 990s swiftly to anyone who requests them, as required by law and with complete transparency. As a campaign, we like to know who is requesting the data, as permitted by law and reciprocal transparency. 

Sounds like they're nervous over who is requesting public info and may be too invested in keeping fiscal matters private. After reading the New Yorker magazine paywalled profile on DOMA's successful lesbian litigant Edie Windsor, and an alleged quote from Wolfson, I have a better understanding of why his group isn't fully and voluntarily transparent like so many Gay Inc organizations:

Some of [Robbie] Kaplan's movement colleagues felt that Windsor's finances, conversely, were overly sound. "Evan Wolfson would call me and tell me, 'Ooh, don't talk about the money,'" she said. They thought Edie would seem too rich. I mean, they're so condescending in their thinking."

Wolfson said, "Robbie's misremembering." But, he allowed, "There were some people who felt that, while Edie is a wonderful and compelling person, the story of an estate tax bill might not be as compelling as a more relatable injury."

After years of battling with Wolfson to just post FTM's 990s to his site and the explanation from Davenport, yes, I believe Kaplan was accurately remembering what Wolfson said to her.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Woof #56: Hard Hats and Knee Pads

After a hiatus, I'm pleased to create this final weekend woof for the month of October. The photos of the construction workers and young man from Best Buy were snapped before my trip back East, and obviously so were the Folsom Street Fair dudes in September. What can I say. There were so many fine fellas at the fair and a lot of pix of them worth sharing.

The super friendly and hunky Mario down at the Best Buy store on Harrison Street has loads of patience. He's been quite helpful solving my latest problems with electronic devices.

This is my friend Rudy striking a masculine pose for my camera one sunny afternoon outside Cafe Flore.

This construction worker seem to take much pleasure smiling and showing off his fine bald head, as I clicked away.

My queer eye couldn't get enough visual stimulation from these two macho construction workers, and their thick and tough knee pads.

Three assorted shirtless dudes from the 2013 Folsom Street Fair. Just a few reasons why we appreciate the Dore Alley and Folsom Fairs.

Friday, October 25, 2013

GLAAD's 2012 Deficit Was How High?

(Page one of the nonprofit's current tax filing. Click to enlarge.) 

Over the past five years, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a true leech upon the gay body politic, ran deficits and half a decade of such stewardship is just one more aspect about the poorly managed organization.

According to their 2012 IRS 990, which I must point out and laud because they voluntarily posted it on their web site within two weeks of filing it with the Treasury Department, GLAAD had a deficit of $1.2 million. See line 19 on the image. Revenue was listed as $4.1 million, the same amount as last year.

I also praise their transparency because three years' worth of tax filings are on the GLAAD site. Five years' are listed but the 2008 and 2009 versions are missing.

Only two executives' names and salaries are disclosed. Executive director Herndon Graddick earned $184,000 and vice president for operations Charlotte Wells took home $112,450.

Here's the annual breakdown of GLAAD's deficits. In 2008 and 2009 the deficit amount was $1.4 million, for 2010 it dipped to $450,000, peaked at $2.5 million in 2011 and for 2012 it was $1.2 million.

GLAAD's primary purpose is to stay in business, paying employees quite decent salaries, raise funds hosting galas where they bestow useless awards, not rock the LGBT Democratic Party boat, none-too-subtly solicit donations from media organizations they lobby.

Consign GLAAD to the dust bin and we'd do the movement a huge favor.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back in SF: Fotos of My East Coast Trip

I had a simply fabulous nine-day visit with friends and relatives back in New Jersey and New York, and returned home on Tuesday to my sweetie Mike. Still not over the stress of travel and jet-lag, but slowly getting back in the swing of things in San Francisco. My camera malfunctioned so all of these photos were snapped by my loved ones. Much gratitude to everyone who helped me have a joyful trip!

Say hello to my beautiful grandniece Malina, the big reason for my trip. She is held by my niece Alexis standing next to her hubby Kevin. 

My immediate family members gathered for this shot after we had lunch in Caldwell, New Jersey, with a few relatives where the star attraction, Malina, pictured in her car-seat, slept through it all. Front row, from the left: Kevin, Alexis and Mailina. Back row, l-to-r: niece Rose, me, brother John, sister Diane, nephew Keith and sister Angela. 

Last Saturday, I spent a wonderful afternoon visiting with Angela and her husband Tony, pictured, at their home in Wallkill, New York. Loved seeing them, laughing and eating, and also re-setting my seasonal clock enjoying the autumnal weather and the foliage of the mid Hudson valley area.

Tony and sister Angela smile for the camera in their kitchen.

Joining us at Angela and Tony's was Jay Blotcher, pictured, and his husband Brook Garrett, a very happy queer couple living the country life. 

On Monday evening, I saw friends from my activist days in New York and Washington, DC, at a diner in Chelsea. Starting on the left, Andy Humm, me, John Voelcker, Margaret Cantrell and Allen Roskoff. 

This is my friend George Carter, who gave me good advice during my episode with Bell's palsy and had me laughing during our informal and fun gathering.

Here I am with Saint Margaret of ACT UP/DC, who now lives in New Jersey with her wife. I fell in love with Margaret when we activists and roommates in Washington from 1990 through 1995. It was the late George Guarino who first designated her as a saint, and did so because she in the daytime was a pre-school teacher who at night dealt with angry and terrified boys. 

If it has not been for Saint Margaret keeping us focused on fighting HIV/AIDS and not each other, our ACT UP chapter would not have been as effective as we were. She truly was key to keeping us balanced and united.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

RIA Novosti: SF Backs Out of Russian Commemoration Over Gay Law?

The anti-gay propaganda law sign into law by Russian president Vladimir Putin continues to create diplomatic headaches. Reporter Maria Young of the RIA Novosti news service has the details to the latest fallout over the law. Until I spoke with her, I had no idea the October 23 commemoration was in development and knew nothing about the cancellation due to promises of a protest by LGBT people.

One aspect that I find highly amusing is the chief of our local fire department in the spring had invited Putin to attend the now-cancelled ceremony. Imagine how gay and straight human rights defenders would have reacted and publicly demonstrated against his over all terrible human rights record: loudly and proudly!

It's quite pathetic that neither Mayor Ed Lee's office nor the fire department, both stacked with plenty of staffers paid to communicate with the press and public, and both pro-gay to the max, had nothing to say to RIA Novosti's Maria Young about a gay-related matter.

Why the silence Mayor Lee and Chief Hayes-White?

Excerpts from Young's article published today, where she shares the fire department's letter to Putin and the letter of protest to the mayor over the cancellation:

The city of San Francisco has cancelled plans to participate in an upcoming 150th anniversary ceremony recognizing the Russian Navy for its critical, historic assistance in fighting a massive fire that consumed much of the San Francisco financial district in 1863, an organizer of the event told RIA Novosti.

“We had an agreement with the City Hall, with its fire department, police department, port administration, that they will participate in the event,” said Leonid Nakhodkin, chairman of the nonprofit United Humanitarian Mission (UHM), a civil society group which describes its mission as the promotion of “universal human values.”

“At the last minute, I got a message from the City Hall of San Francisco saying that the municipality ceases all plans to participate in this event, and the same message was received by the Consulate General,” said Nakhodkin, who was born in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan and raised in Ukraine before immigrating to the United States.“Why? Because gay community threatened the San Francisco City Hall to hold a protest against Russia at the event,” he told RIA Novosti in recent conversations about the ceremony originally slated for Oct. 23. 

Documents from a San Francisco Fire Commission meeting on March 14 show that Nakhodkin discussed plans to order medals commemorating the Russian Navy’s assistance in saving lives in the 1863 fire.

A letter dated April 2 from San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White to Russian President Vladimir Putin detailed the “huge fire” with “catastrophic potential to destroy the Bay Area,” and invited Putin to attend the festivities. [...] “We… would be honored to have you visit San Francisco." [...]

“These are humanitarian acts, existing above and beyond any politicization,” and the commemoration ceremony “aims at removing the barriers between our peoples,” wrote Nakhodkin in an August letter to San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, asking him to reconsider his position and take part in the ceremony. [...]

Since June, when Putin signed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” to minors, there have been at least half a dozen protest rallies held around San Francisco, including a vodka dump on the steps of City Hall, a rally at the Russian Consulate, and a demonstration at St. Nicholas’ Russian Orthodox Church in the heart of the city’s gay district. [...]

Contacted by RIA Novosti, a number of prominent LGBT groups in San Francisco said they had no plans to protest the event commemorating Russia’s assistance fighting the 1863 fire, and knew of no plans for such a protest. But they also expressed frustration at what they said has been a stunning lack of response from the mayor’s office in the face of vocal opposition to the Russian law.

“Now, this is San Francisco, it’s a gay mecca, it’s a gay capital of the world practically,” which means the mayor has “a responsibility to take a stand, number one on the Russian vodka dump, and number two, a symbolic stand and agree not to serve any Russian products at any city functions,” said Michael Petrilis, a community organizer with the San Francisco chapter of Gays Without Borders.

Gay rights activists have called on Lee to support their boycott of Russian vodka and to publicly oppose the Russian law, but Petrelis said the mayor has not responded to those requests. He added in an interview with RIA Novosti that Lee was elected to office with large support from the gay community of San Francisco, and backed a boycott of national fast food franchise Chick-Fil-A last year, following statements by the company president opposing gay marriage. 

Lee’s office and the San Francisco Fire Department did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls from RIA Novosti seeking comment for this story, although in August the mayor’s spokeswoman told the LGBT newspaper, The Bay Area Reporter, that "Mayor Lee is deeply concerned and troubled about the discriminatory legislation and anti-gay laws recently passed in Russia and he is interested in actions that can help the LGBT community there."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gone to New Jersey to Meet My Grandniece

I'm heading to New Jersey early Monday morning to meet the daughter of my niece Alexis and her husband Kevin. My grandniece Malina Rose, pictured, was born in early September and it's time for me to tell her how beautiful she is and how much I love her. Oh, and also have plans to see other relatives and friends too!

Lacking a laptop, blogging will be light if I do any at all from the road. Mike is not making this trip with me, but I'll keep in touch with him over the telephone. I'll be back home in San Francisco on October 23. Wish me safe travels and good times.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harvard Ends Fellowship With Disgraced Ex-HRW Gay Chief

Scott Long, pictured, the former head of the LGBT division at Human Rights Watch, notes in his automatic signature on all of his emails that he is a fellow with Harvard University. In February 2012, when he was again engaging in personal attacks on global gay activists with opinions different than his, I wrote to Jeremiah Montgomery-Thompson at the university asking for accountability and transparency about his research for them. Harvard said:

Dr. Scott Long is indeed visiting fellow with the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. He is undertaking independent research and writing on the topic of global LGBT and human rights advocacy in his time here as a fellow. Dr. Long's research findings, the conclusions he draws, and what he chooses to publish, however, are his responsibility, and do not reflect the intent or official position of Harvard Law School or the Human Rights Program, and should not be imputed as such. That being said, if you have questions about his research you can send them to this email, and I will try to have someone contact you in a timely fashion.

My questions about his research were never answered and, of course, Long continued with his nasty jihad against gay activists and emails signed as a fellow at the university. This week, I contacted the university again about Long's latest attacks and asked if he was still affiliated with them. Robb London, the chief of communications for Harvard Law School, replied:

Your email has been forwarded to me for reply. I can confirm that Scott Long was a visiting fellow at HRP and is not currently a fellow. Beyond confirming prior affiliation, the Law School does not publicly disclose any other information in response to public inquiries about former fellows. [Link to page listing former fellows.]

So much for Harvard explaining if they have concerns about Long still identifying himself as a fellow and his research, which judging on his continuing vendettas will probably be another one of his grudge reports.

Here's some important homo-history about this self-appointed global gay gatekeeper. He and his former employer in June 2010 were forced to issue this amazing statement:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) apologizes to Peter Tatchell for a number of inappropriate and disparaging comments made about him in recent years by Scott Long, director of HRW's LGBT program. We recognise that personal attacks have no place in the human rights movement.

Mr Long said: "Although we have our different viewpoints, I respect Peter Tatchell's contribution to human rights and apologize for any condemnatory and intemperate allegations made in haste and for any inaccurate statements made in my personal capacity."

Two months later, Long resigned from HRW and despite his apology to Tatchell he's kept up a jihad against the London-based campaigner on various listservs and his blog.

According to Long, it's not just Tatchell but practically every other Westerner who's expressed concern or shown solidarity with gay Russians in recent month that is a problem bigger than any Russian anti-gay propaganda law or hateful politician. Name almost any global LGBT issue that generated a modicum of interest from activists or reporters, and you can be sure Long has attacked them.

Why? Because they are not toeing his party line, asking his advice or as brilliant as he thinks he is. It says much about what so terrible about Long that his paper trails and email trails show more criticism and personal attacks against LGBT activists and straight allies than anything to do with holding anti-gay politicians accountable for their human rights abuses targeting gays.

Permit me to say I am not pleading for no criticism against Tatchell or other activists and reporters. Heck, I've taken my friend Peter to task recently and even though we have opposing views, we can criticize each other and still work in unity on global LGBT issues.

Regarding Long and his endless picking on and demonizing of an ever-expanding list of enemies, I know he's never going to curb his ego and attacks, but I would like that any nonprofit or university that associates with him take public stands against his abusive methods especially when his emails are signed identifying him with the institution.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ukraine's Oscar Entry 'Paradjanov' About Gay Soviet Director 

Before there was the New Queer Cinema movement, there was Sergei Parajanov, pictured at right, a Georgian-born Armenian screenwriter and director who was openly bisexual and suffered artistically and personally at the hands of the Soviets. Born in 1924 and living until 1990, he made tremendous contributions to Ukrainian, Armenian and Georgia cinema.

Parajanov had a queer gaze in his films, one that focused intensely on the male actors and where his appreciation for beauty found cinematic expression and success on the art house circuit. He made his own rules for story-telling, employed static camerawork allowing scenes to unfold at natural pacing and jumpy editing. His most famous works are "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors", "The Legend of Suram Fortress", "The Color of Pomegranites" and "Ashik Kerib".

A new Ukrainian film based on his life that's been making the rounds on the festival circuit, using one of many variations on his surname titled "Paradjanov" was submitted as that country's entry for a best Oscar in the foreign language category, according to the Los Angeles Times story yesterday about the 76 films submitted for consideration.

(Three stills from his movies.)

In a favorable review, the Hollywood Reporter said of the biopic:

"Paradjanov" is far from a complete compendium of all the major events in the director's life. Indeed, in what almost amounts to a case of willful poetic irony, the filmmaker's two marriages and his son are barely suggested, though his run-ins with the Communist authorities because of his "suspected" homosexuality are documented in quite some detail (he would eventually be sentenced to five years in prison).

Good to know the queer aspect of his life and work is not glossed over, and the trailer for the film does not shy away from the queerness.

Given the hostile laws and attitudes prevalent in the Ukraine against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, not to mention the hatred of the Orthodox Church, I am surprised the Ukrainian film establishment enter "Paradjanov" as their country's Oscar-hopeful because I believe the establishment is dependent upon government support and politicians have influence over the film industry.

On the other hand, since Parajanov is a firmly established in the international cinema pantheon of great filmmakers and enjoys a well-deserved reputation as an artist of a multitude of talents the Ukrainians may think the submission honors one of their own so well they are willing to overlook his homosexuality and convictions.

Western LGBT activists may recall the terrible public bashing received in May of 2012 by Ukrainian gay leader Svyatoslav Sheremet, pictured on the ground, that was recorded by the media as he and other LGBT people attempted to stage Pride March. The bashing didn't thwart Sheremet and other activists to hit the streets again this year with positive results, according to a Truthout story last month:

While being gay in Ukraine is no picnic and the entire region is a hotbed of homophobia, modest advances in the country have been made - advances that are now on the line.

In May, Ukraine held its first ever Pride march, an event Olena Semenova, one of the organizers, stated would "go down in the history of Ukraine as one of the key developments in the fight for equal rights." Although the March originally was canceled by court order, campaigners chose to push ahead anyway. As in Russia, ultra-Orthodox protesters attempted to disturb the campaigners, yet, unlike in Russia, the Ukrainian police held back the zealots.

Let's hope "Parajanov" gets U.S. distribution or makes the rounds of domestic film festival and we're given a chance to see it. At the same time, I'd like to see Parajanov's film shown at festival sidebars or our remaining art houses and film archives.

SF Pride Meeting: Faggot Family Feud & Gayja Vu

It was gayja vu all over again. Last night's SF Pride meeting at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center in the Castro suffered from the same lack of simple communication at the disastrous May 7 board meeting. While more than 100 people gathered in the street half an hour before the May meeting, the board sent no one down from their office to explain how they would conduct a meeting in a room that holds about 40 people. That meeting was cut short due to poor planning.

I got to the rec center shortly after the announced start time of 7 pm, saw the new board members behind a table intently looking at laptops and mobile devices and maybe thirty members waiting for the meeting to start. No board member told us why the meeting was delayed or when it would commence.

About 7:15 pm I took to the floor and asked when we'd get started, and chairman and my friend Gary Virginia said they were waiting for latecomers to arrive and to get their devices ready for me to just chill.

Moments later, Gary stood up and made a pitch for a raffle basket of goodies we could win by purchasing tickets and that money raised would go toward Transgender Day of Remembrance. Sure, a worthy cause, but what did it have to with Pride's meeting?

At 7:35 pm Pat, a member, said a young lesbian and very new member named Jennifer had arrived at 7 ready for the meeting and Jennifer expressed frustration that we were all just sitting there waiting.

We finally got started and Gary gave us a history of recent controversies and such leading up to a reform slate of candidates taking over the board, and Pat looked at her agenda, made motions asking what this had to do with the evening agenda. I stood up yet again and asked what agenda item was being discussed and who was keeping time.

Board member Jesse Oliver Sanford said they had to wait for latecomers and that so few people were there at 7 pm. He asked that more folks arrive on time. In my view, there were enough folks present to get the meeting going by 7:10 and it was very disrespectful to the folks who did arrive by then to have us wait and wait.

The meeting more or less proceeded according to the printed agenda until Marilyn made a motion to have (old) board members Lou Fischer and David Currie removed from their positions. Procedural questions and answers ensued, until we got to public comment. More procedural matters considered before Gary announced at 8:20 pm or so that we had to be out of the room by 9:00 pm.

Why the hell didn't the board have it's act together at 7-ish to get the show moving when they knew we had only two-hours of meeting time and couldn't go past 9:00 pm, and why didn't they explain the cut-off hour when they finally started more than thirty-minutes late?

For the last forty minutes of the meeting, other folks expressed anger with the new board about problems from their last meeting (which I wasn't at) and the dissatisfaction and frustration hung thick in the air.

What was accomplished? Much clarification about procedural questions, a vote for Pride to cosponsor a local fundraiser for WikiLeak heroine Chelsea Manning and a commitment to hold a public forum about military recruitment at the Pride Celebration in Civic Center.

It's plain to me that Pride, regardless of who's on the board or serving as executive director, is cursed with poor facilitation and communication skills at meetings. Yes, for Pride, well-run meetings that deliver on set goals and keep the temperature from heating up to uncomfortable levels are rocket science and beyond our grasp, right now.

Last night was another episode of Faggot Family Feud and I doubt many or anyone left the meeting feeling satisfied and that our time was well-spent.

I have these big requests for Pride leaders and the November meetings. Please engage with the folks who show up at 7 pm by 7:10 pm about what ever is happening with starting the meeting, talk about housekeeping items like when we must vacate the room or who will be time-keeper, write the agenda on an easel that all can see, and clue us in.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

If SF Closes Parks at Night, Will it be the End of Gay Cruising?

Outdoor sex in San Francisco's public parks among gay men and those on the down-low is a cherished aspect of being queer in this City.

A proposal by Castro district's member of the Board of Supervisor, would close the parks from midnight to 5:00 am, and the driving factor behind this closure effort is a desire to ban sleeping by the homeless in the parks.

According to Joshua Sabatini in today's SF Examiner, the proposed law passed out of committee yesterday and now goes to the full Board for further consider. Expect civic fireworks to ensue. Sabatini reports on concerns that the law will have a detrimental effect on homeless people:

The proposal has advocates for the homeless upset, as they say people without housing find safe havens in city parks.“This is going to have the impact of displacing very vulnerable people,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness [...]

Supervisor Jane Kim, who cast the lone opposition vote Monday, expressed concerns about the impacts on homeless people while suggesting that some parks could be excluded from the law. 

But others, including one gay man, who live one of the parks famous for queer nighttime cruising, expressed support for the proposal:

Some neighborhood leaders, however, say operating hours are overdue. Richard Magary, head of the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, said the community has “seen enough of [vandalism] in Buena Vista Park.”

“Having park operating hours is just good business. It’s common sense,” Magary said. 

My first question is if this proposal becomes law and the homeless are rousted from the parks during the closed hours, where will they go? The existing shelters are bursting at capacity and nightly turn away folks because there simply are not enough beds. I guess we can expect to see more homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks if the Supervisor gets his way.

Another question is will the law end gay male cruising for sex in the parks?

I've asked a number of gays about such activities and they assure me the likes of Manhunt, Grindr and Craig's List have not made cruising in the parks of San Francisco obsolete.

So far, I've read nothing online about the impact the law would have on same-sexers in the parks after midnight and hope that my questions are addressed by the Bay Area Reporter in its coverage of the hearing on Monday.
Fabulous Queer Russia News Portal Launches English-Language Site

Ruslan Porshnev, pictured, is a gay Russian activist with an excellent command of English and was responsible for organizing the Queer Russia group on Google in March 2011. It's a terrific listserv of Russian and Western activists sharing information and ideas, which I've been a part of since it started.

In recent weeks, Ruslan launched an English-language news portal also named Queer Russia and it's a fabulous site regularly updated with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender news from Russia unavailable anywhere else on the web. Here's how he describes the portal:

Queerussia brings together Russian and foreign LGBTQ activists, bloggers, journalists and concerned citizens who want to know more about queer issues in Russia, progress on LGBTQ rights, queer activism, public events, advocacy, homophobia, etc.

This video was posted earlier this week and is a fine example of important gay news from Moscow, that I believe should be of interest to the many Westerners who in recent months developed concerns for gays over there. A description of the action comes from the creators of the video at the site that was cross-posted to Ruslan's site:

Rayda Lin, Nix Nemeni, Ildar Dadin and Roman Petriscev were detained by the police during their march on Arbat street. [...]

A team of paramedics was called to Arbat police station to give medical help to Ildar Dadin, reports OVDinfo – a site that monitors state’s violence.”Putin began with actions against gays”, “Hitler began with actions against gays” – LGBT action was held demonstratively at the same time when President Putin was receiving the Olympics’ Torch at the Red Square and by the opinion of LGBT activists had to show the same ideology roots of the two politics and their regimes.

The police today was so tough that several witnesses of the action were protesting aloud. Passersby started discussion with gay activists and did not agreed with their position, nevertheless, eyewitnesses were trying to calm down the policemen. The situation deteriorated due to action of a passerby man who voluntarily “helped” the police and used force and violence against LGBT protesters.

In the centre of a poster that was held by gay activists was a collective portrait of Hitler, Putin, deputies Mizulina and Zhuravlev. [...]

Six gay activists were participating in Arbat action. Two of them have managed to escape, four – arrested. project uploaded the LGBT action’s video to the Internet. English translation presented by Yerdna Bananes.

Let's hope the four people arrested have their charges dismissed and they are ok.

Stay informed about our brothers and sisters in Russia via Queer Russia, and help spread the word about the news portal far and wide.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Why is Manning on SF Pride Agenda for Tuesday Nite?

There are two San Francisco Pride meetings of the board of directors open to the public every month, but unfortunately that info is not currently on the organization's site. The page for the board lists only their regular board meeting, held the first Tuesday, and then a general membership meeting on the second Tuesday.

To better engage with the community, both voting members and the general queer public, Pride needs to share the info about tomorrow night's meeting along with informing visitors to their site about the general membership meeting schedule.

I don't know why the agenda shows 25-minutes are set aside to deal with a proposal to have Pride endorse a gay vets' group's fundraiser for WikiLeaks heroine Chelsea Manning. As someone who was critical of Pride rescinding a grand marshal honor for Manning and a support of hers, I don't see the value of Pride devoting more meeting time to a matter very tangential to the organization and next year's event.

I'm not sure that Pride should be in the business of endorsing this and other fundraisers or protests and other actions, because I can easily see the board and membership's time and energy getting very side-tracked with an long list of events wanting an endorsement.

As a voting member, I was sent this info via email and I appreciate receiving it:

Due to an expressed increased interest in the upcoming membership meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 7pm, SF Pride has acquired a larger venue so that all members present may more comfortably attend. 

We wish to cordially invite you to the October SF LGBT Pride Celebration Committee members meeting which will be held at: The Eureka Valley Rec Center, 100 Collingwood Street near 18th Street in the Castro.

Items for discussion include: 

- Approval for SF Pride to co-sponsor a benefit for Chelsea Manning on Oct 27, 2013 being hosted by The Bob Basker Post 315 of the American Legion, San Francisco Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69 and the Private Manning Support Network. 

- Scheduling a forum on military recruiters at the Pride Celebration. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Weekend Woof #55: Fine Folsom Fellas

There are a number of photos snapped at last weekend most fabulous Folsom Street Fair ever, that I wasn't able to use in my official report and photo-essay about the fair. I'm putting the photos up now and going over them again, I am reminded just how terrific the fair-goers were both in terms of sharing their fine selves and getting their freak on in a very public way.

Many thanks to all the dudes who struck a pose or two for my camera and the men who caught my queer eye as my camera was ready to snap away.

(One of the best set of nipples I saw all day belonged to this dude. Click to enlarge and truly appreciate his erect nipples and large hand tugging down at his pants.)

(The super-friendly sexy chub Charlie, who was one of my faves at the Dore Alley Fair, parading around Folsom with a drink.)

Mother Nature cooperated so well at last Sunday's Folsom kink extravaganza, shining down lots of sunlight and warm temps, that led many fine fellas to remove their shirts. If I hadn't been so busy posing for pix myself in my rainbow burka, I would have captured many more images of dudes attractive to my queer eye.

Let's not overlook our sexy friends who weren't shirtless who also graced my lens. The top dude in the white tee shirt had just enjoyed a laugh as he took my photo, the middle guy is Isaac who is so appealing he was in my Folsom report and now appears in a second photo with his fuzzy smiling face, and the final image is of my good friend John. When I see John in his dapper and comfortable finery, having just the time of his life at the fairs, I feel he blesses me with his happiness.

I hope your Folsom fair was as excellent as mine!

Friday, October 04, 2013

KQED Omits Castro Sup. from Homeless Gay PWA Story

(Tom Oviatt, when he was living in his car over the summer. Credit: Bryan Goebel, KQED.)

This is rather telling and embarrassing for the Castro's member of the Board of Supervisors. He's omitted from KQED's story today about the wave of evictions of gay men living with AIDS in his district. Has he done a darn thing about housing and health menace for a growing number of gay PWA? Nothing that I'm aware of.

While the Supervisor and his three paid staffers devote much time and energy to stopping nudity, removing benches from Harvey Milk Plaza, outlawing sleeping in City parks, doing the bidding of the businesses in the Merchants of Upper Market Castro group and making sure the Supervisor gets much press, the evictions of too many people in District 8 mount.

The Castro Biscuit web site happily serves as the Supervisor's mouthpiece and rarely criticizes him, can't recall the last time they took him to task over anything, and I expect that site will attempt to spin his omission from the KQED piece as something positive.

If Harvey Milk were alive, you can rest assured he'd be fighting like hell to stop the evictions and help his gay brothers living with AIDS and all District 8 residents who are displaced or facing eviction.

From KQED reporter Bryan Goebel:

Tim Oviatt, 64, had a tough time getting into low-income housing after he was kicked out of his apartment. He has a job at a local retail store. When I interviewed him, he took me to the store's parking lot, where he was living in his Chrysler convertible.

“I have blankets and pillows in the trunk and just put the seat down as low as it'll go and just cocoon up in there. It doesn't make for a great night's sleep.”

For 26 years, Oviatt, who moved to San Francisco in the 70s from Detroit, owned a boutique store in the heart of the Castro known as All American Boy.  When the recession hit, a string of calamitous events began. He lost his shop, made some bad business decisions, couldn't pay his mortgage and his partner died from AIDS.

Oviatt, also living with AIDS, said his feet swell up when he sleeps in the car and it's been broken into. “It truly has worn me down. I mean, I’m pretty strong but this takes the hell out of you and it’s expensive, believe it or not, living on the street, because you have no place to cook.”

Oviatt said his co-workers were supportive for the eight months he was forced to live in his car. Since our interview in July, he's found housing, thanks to the AIDS Housing Alliance, which in recent years has helped more than 1,000 LGBT people avoid becoming homeless.