This lovely song by BeBe Winans was played by my friend Mark Thompson Tuesday evening on Sirius/XM Progress. A nice lift.
This lovely song by BeBe Winans was played by my friend Mark Thompson Tuesday evening on Sirius/XM Progress. A nice lift.
50 years ago, famous attendees at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included Charlton Heston, James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte, and (in the background) Sidney Poitier.
Please join us on Saturday, August 24th for the 50th anniversary march. Civil rights are under renewed attack from the nativist right, and we must organize to defeat those efforts to turn back the clock. RSVP here: http://www.naacp.org/march.
LGBT Weekly reports the death of Jose Julio Sarria, who in 1961 became the first openly gay candidate for public office when he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was also the founder of the Imperial Court System.
GLAAD pays tribute to this pioneer. GLAAD national spokesperson Wilson Cruz writes:
José Julio Sarria's passing today is an enormous loss. His work as a politician, humanitarian, and performer was unprecedented, and has rightfully earned him a place in history. He was an icon who stood his ground for himself and so many others when it was hardest to do so. During such a formative time for the LGBT and Latino communities it is crucial that we remember and honor the exceptional people like José for making our successes possible. He will forever reside in the hearts and minds of the LGBT and Latino communities and their allies. Thank you, José.
May Sarria rest in peace.
Joshua Lazard at Religion Dispatches discusses the recent flap over "ex gay" singer Donnie McClurkin being disinvited from a concert connected to the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. McClurkin is not being honest about his bigoted statements, as usual with gay haters on the right, who love to turn the truth on its head and claim that they are the victims.
(Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters posts a superb story on the removal of anti-gay Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin as the headliner at a concert at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The bottom line:
[Bayard] Rustin never got his due for what he did in the Civil Rights Movement. Now I ask you, does it make sense to honor the 50th anniversary of a march whose coordinator was shoved in the background due to homophobia by inviting someone as a headliner who is committing the same offense against gays in the present?
Thanks to our friend Philip Pannell for his timely advocacy on this, and to Mayor Vince Gray for stepping in to ask McClurkin to withdraw. McClurkin is playing the victim, and is being joined by some anti-gay local ministers. But we have a long list of gay-affirming ministers. How many times do the haters want to make us prove it?
President Obama today announced the list of this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among the sixteen is the late civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who among other things was the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, whose 50th anniversary will be observed later this month.
The announcement says the following about Rustin:
Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.
This year's recipients also include the late former astronaut Sally Ride.
(Hat tip: Bob Witeck)
Charles Francis writes in HuffPo about the Dowdy hearings which were held 50 years ago today, and about their modern relevance. Rep. Dowdy was pushing a bill of attainder to revoke the nonprofit status of the Mattachine Society of Washington. Mattachine co-founder Frank Kameny's forceful testimony at the hearing was a landmark of gay rights advocacy.
Thanks to Charles for reminding us of this history anniversary.
There has been much hand-wringing in the past several hours over the sale of The Washington Post for $250 million to Amazon's Jeff Bezos. There is little reason for such fretting other than silly romanticism regarding the history of newspaper ownership in this country. News is a business, and a fast-changing one. There are different sorts of owners, some braver and smarter and more committed to the enterprise than others. You cannot tell in advance who will thrive and who won't. With Mr. Bezos we'll just have to wait and see; but he was pitch perfect in his message to Post employees:
"I would highlight two kinds of courage the Grahams have shown as owners that I hope to channel. The first is the courage to say wait, be sure, slow down, get another source. Real people and their reputations, livelihoods and families are at stake. The second is the courage to say follow the story, no matter the cost. While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Graham’s example, I’ll be ready."
For those whose knowledge of the Watergate scandal of four decades ago is spotty, Bezos refers to the notorious threat by Richard Nixon's campaign manager and former attorney general, John Mitchell, against then Post publisher Katherine Graham via reporter Carl Bernstein, warning of the consequences if the paper did not stop its reporting on Nixon's crimes:
"All that crap you're putting in the paper, it's all been denied. Katie Graham's going to get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published. Good Christ, that's the most sickening thing I ever heard."
After the Post emerged from the Watergate scandal with its reporting vindicated and its reputation enhanced, Bernstein and Bob Woodward presented Mrs. Graham with an antique laundry wringer to thank her for standing up to the powerful in defense of her paper's mission. For Bezos to invoke the glory days of the paper he has purchased may turn out to have been merely a nice gesture. Time will tell. On the other hand, he just might mean it, which would be a very fine thing.
Update: BTW, Bezos gave $2.5 million to the successful fight for marriage equality in Washington state. That earns him some good will from me. He is a libertarian. He has given money to both Democrats and Republicans, but mostly to Democrats like Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
Monica Hesse wrote in WaPo on July 25:
In one corner of the climate-controlled manuscript division, on a series of otherwise empty shelves, sits Lilli Vincenz’s unprocessed collection. It’s new. It just got here — the library announcement of the acquisition is scheduled to go out today....
In 1968, Vincenz made a movie. A short documentary, called "The Second Largest Minority," about a Philadelphia picket. It is seven minutes long and black and white. In the footage, men and women wearing starchy business attire pace in a silent circle holding signs that say, "Homosexuals Are Citizens Also." Two years later, she made another film. This one is 111 / 2 minutes long. It documents the sun-kissed revelers of New York’s first gay pride parade, grooving out on the street and chanting "Gay and proud, gay and proud, gay and proud."
AP reports as well.
The acquisition of the Vincenz collection for the Library of Congress was a project of the new Mattachine Society of Washington, whose mission is the rescue of LGBT history. The original MSW was allowed to lapse in 2004 by Frank Kameny, who died in 2011.
Annie Kaylor, namesake of Annie's Paramount Steakhouse on 17th Street NW, died on July 24 at age 85. Metro Weekly reports:
To allow patrons and friends to pay their respects and honor Kaylor's long life and the mark she has left on this neighborhood that is home to so much of the city's LGBT history – as underscored by Frank Kameny Way, the specially named stretch of 17th Street on which Annie's sits – DeGuzman says the restaurant will hold a memorial event at the restaurant Tuesday, Aug. 20, what would have been Kaylor's 86th birthday, from 6 to 10 p.m., as a celebration of Kaylor's life.
The Blade also reports.
Annie was working behind the bar when I first went into Annie's (at its previous location down the street) in 1979. She helped set the tone for the restaurant's friendly, welcoming atmosphere that made it a gathering place for the gay community. I last saw her there a few months ago, having lunch with a friend in a booth by the bar. As always she had a warm greeting. May she rest in peace.
(Photo by Todd Franson, Metro Weekly)
The face of great vision matched with great courage.
"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
- Nelson Mandela, Rivonia trial, April 20, 1964
His colleagues begged him not to stand in the dock and dare his oppressors to kill him. But he knew the power of those words. He says that after he spoke them, the courtroom was silent except for sobs from the balcony. For 27 years the Apartheid government jailed him, but they dared not let him die. When he got pneumonia, they took him by boat from Robben Island to Cape Town, where his nurses fussed over him so much that his guard became cross and ordered them to leave. He said to the guard, "Are you jealous of an old man?" The guard was shamed into relenting. Mandela launched secret negotiations with his enemies from a prison cell. Then, when he gained power, he forgave them for his country's sake. That is power.
Happy birthday, Madiba.
Sent today to GLAA's listserve:
The peaceful, multiracial crowds that protested the verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin offer a hopeful sign that some Americans are heeding the better angels of their nature. But the message the verdict sends to our children—that there are two standards of justice in this country—is poisonous and reminds all of us who work for equality that we must rededicate ourselves to the difficult work of coalition building.
George Zimmerman is but the latest in a long line of people, many of them real cops, who have killed unarmed black men and boys. See this item from The Root:
Profiling is a real and terrifying reality for many Americans—as I certainly don't need to tell our transgender sisters. It will not end without a challenge or without our cooperation.
My own commentary, "Seeing Trayvon," is now online at Metro Weekly:
Our society's discussion of the issues highlighted by this case must go beyond consideration of further indictments or lawsuits against Mr. Zimmerman (analysis of which I will leave to others). We must ask how meaningful or secure our legal rights can be amid the legal sanctioning of vigilante justice.
Instead of Trayvon, the innocent victim of this unpunished crime could have been one of the students I advise, or my own fiancé. As long as prejudice and privilege cause some people to be treated as automatic suspects who can be killed with impunity, justice is a mirage. An increasingly unhinged gun culture is put in service of social division to perpetuate minority rule. The same right wing that demonizes LGBT people also devalues and disenfranchises black people, Muslims, and immigrants, and works relentlessly to control women's wombs.
Frank Bruni at NYT discusses the release last week of thousands of pages of records on the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and in particular the role of its former archbishop, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Bruni makes the central point regarding the Roman Catholic Church:
[O]ver the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.
Exactly. It is not simply about a long list of individual abuses. It is about the coverup and facilitation of those crimes at the highest levels of the Church. It is about the attitude and expectation of non-accountability to civil authorities for those crimes. It is about the belief that churchmen should be above the law. It is about the corruption of privilege and authority. These men (and they are men, whose disrespect for and harassment of women's religious is an outrage) continue to issue pronouncements seeking to obliterate the wall of separation between church and state and to impose on the rest of us their opposition to women's reproductive freedom and gay people's right to equal protection of the law -- despite the churchmen's utter moral bankruptcy. They have shown themselves highly and aggressively resistant to learning any lessons. And so the Church's destruction from within continues.
(Hat tip: Craig Howell)
The former Archbishop of Cape Town describes how his country found its way out of a stalemate. This is several years old, but bears watching.
The outrage of America's involvement in the Vietnam War screams from Jimi Hendrix's electric guitar in this virtuosic, unforgettable rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, performed live at Woodstock in 1969. Is it irreverent? You fucking bet. If you cannot deal with that, then your love of country is a hollow farce. Patriotism must be more than a series of self-congratulatory gestures, otherwise it becomes corruption, like Dorian Gray's portrait. The beautiful and talented young Mr. Hendrix, who would not live long, showed a more profound love of country in his musical protest than anyone who has ever been in the employ of Fox News.
Tulsa is using the Trail of Tears to market its 2024 Olympics bid. This is shameful, but no more so than the fact that the man who signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 is honored on our $20 bill.
(Photo of President Andrew Jackson)
A great moment from 48 years ago, dishonored today by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Due for a July release, director Ryan Coogler's drama Fruitvale Station, portrays a real event. The film, produced by Oscar-winning Forest Whitaker, won the Prize of the Future at the Cannes Film Festival.
In the early hours of New Year's Day 2009, unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back on the platform of Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California by Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle was subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months of a two-year minimum sentence. He said he had accidentally pulled his gun instead of his taser gun.
The disturbing court-released compilation of video from the actual shooting, taken by witnesses with their cell phone cameras, is below. One thing about such incidents that adds insult to outrage is the increasing illegal habit by police of confiscating cell phones from witnesses. If you are doing no wrong, why the need to harass bystanders and destroy evidence?
June is always the gayest month because of the many LGBT pride celebrations around the country. The possible Supreme Court decision on DOMA and Prop 8 have magnified that this year. Adweek has a collection of 16 advertisements One Million Moms would strenuously object to. And there is an article on how advertising to gay people has changed in the last century.
This great TV moment came fifty years ago on The Judy Garland Show. The two performers were 21 and 41 years old, respectively. Streisand remembers:
She was holding my hand and I thought, "Gee, she seems nervous." At that time, I wasn't nervous. I was still very young, I think, about to do Funny Girl, and now, when I think back on it, I think, "Oh, my God, I know exactly what she's feeling." Or, you know, the fears. It's like, as you get older and people are kind of looking for you to fail more, I think—not people, not the audience—but, you know, critics or producers or whatever. And I just felt her. I felt her anxiety.... Part of me is much more relaxed than I've ever been, less frightened, less anxious. On the other hand, it's a coming-of-age-thing, and she was much younger than I am, but there are things with careers.... I just understand the anxiety even though in a sense I'm calmer. It's a dichotomy. It's hard to explain.... You wonder, "Well, do I give it up? Do I retire? Or do I get more in before my time is up?"
(Hat tip: Steven Publicover)
Happy LGBT Pride! It's been a busy year for LGBT advocacy in D.C., and below is a list of highlights.
GLAA's next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 11 at 7:00 pm in Room 104 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. (Closest Metro stations: Metro Center, Federal Triangle.) Click here for the meeting agenda. Please bring your concerns and issues you want us to address, and your ideas and suggestions for our next efforts. I am going to propose that we change from the quarterly meeting schedule that we implemented earlier this year to a monthly meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. (I expect, however, that we will take the months of July and August off.)
Three bills that GLAA called for in our Agenda: 2012 policy brief are currently before the D.C. Council:
This 52-minute video on how we won marriage equality in Washington, D.C., was made by students at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School on Capitol Hill in March, 2013. Thanks to them and teacher Ayo Magwood. There are many more videos by a variety of advocates in various fields, and I will post some of them in the days ahead.
They were just little girls when they were killed in 1963, in what came to be known as the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. And now Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley have been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, nearly 50 years after the attack in Birmingham, Ala.
President Obama signed the legislation Friday to award the girls — all of them 14, except for McNair, who was 11 — with the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian.
The girls' deaths, from dynamite hidden under a bathroom by white supremacists, helped propel the 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress. They were eulogized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who famously asked, "What murdered these little girls?" — a sentiment echoed in director Spike Lee's film about the incident, 4 Little Girls.
This is beautiful news. The murdered girls would now be in their 60s. This story is as vivid a lesson in man's capacity for hatred and cruelty as I can imagine. As it was reported and retold, it seared into many Americans' minds the truth about the terrorism under which millions of African Americans lived for so long. This holiday weekend honors those who died in America's wars; but Addie Mae, Carole, Cynthia, and Denise died for our country too. Here is to their memory.
Half a lifetime ago, I was on a flight back to DC from the GALA Choruses festival in Minneapolis when I read Justice Harry Blackmun's stirring dissent in Bowers v Hardwick. 17 years later, Bowers was overturned and we were no longer habitual criminals. Ten years further on, Minnesota becomes the 12th marriage equality state. How incredibly fast. Yet so many did not live to see it. The more victories we rack up, the more I think of vanished friends. Tonight I will raise a glass to them.
Our friend Joe Cantor especially raises a glass to our late friend Steve Endean, the founder of the Human Rights Campaign who's been gone twenty years now, whose home state did him proud today.
Allen Barra writes in The Atlantic:
This week's coming out by NBA player Jason Collins is momentous, but the Jackie Robinson of gay rights was Glenn Burke, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A's from 1976 to 1979. He tried to change sports culture three decades ago—but back then, unlike now, sports culture wasn't ready for a change.
Burke made no secret of his sexual orientation to the Dodgers front office, his teammates, or friends in either league. He also talked freely with sportswriters, though all of them ended up shaking their heads and telling him they couldn't write that in their papers. Burke was so open about his sexuality that the Dodgers tried to talk him into participating in a sham marriage. (He wrote in his autobiography that the team offered him $75,000 to go along with the ruse.) He refused. In a bit of irony that would seem farcical if it wasn't so tragic, one of the Dodgers who tried to talk Burke into getting "married," was his manager, Tommy Lasorda, whose son Tom Jr. died from AIDS complications in 1991. To this day, Lasorda Sr. refuses to acknowledge his son's homosexuality.
"Certainly I would not be here" without the scientific contributions of the National Academy of Sciences to the Union in the Civil War, the President quipped in remarks celebrating the organization's 150th anniversary. (Click on link for video.)
GayPolitics.com has an interview with the producer and director of a documentary due to be released this summer on the purge of gay men and women fired from the federaly government in the 1950's and beyond. It was 60 years ago today that Executive Order 10450 was signed by President Dwight Eisenhower authorizing the firing of all gay government employees.
The renewed effort to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act launched last week came days before the 60th anniversary of a defining moment in LGBT history, when thousands of employees and contractors were purged from the federal government because they were gay or lesbian.
On April 27, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued an executive order calling for the removal of homosexuals from all federal agencies. Gay and lesbian government workers were immediately fired or resigned out of fear of being publicly outed. Even LGBT people working in the private sector whose jobs required them to have a federal security clearance were also fired or resigned.
Congrats again to all five honorees from GLAA's anniversary reception on April 25. For me, the highlight of the evening was this inspiring speech by the remarkable Jason Terry of the DC Trans Coalition.
JASON A. TERRY
REMARKS TO GLAA AWARDS RECEPTION
25 APRIL 2013
Thank you to GLAA, and especially to Rick, Charles, Kevin, Gary, and Alison, for this distinct – and truly undeserved – honor. Thanks also to those who have shaped me, guided me, and inspired me all through life: the fierce and fearsome Appalachian women who raised me; my three grandfathers who taught me patience and calm; the teachers, choir directors, and old school activists who lit my path, taught me discipline, and gave me hope; and to my beloved and ever-growing community of rabble rousers here in DC who make this city more livable, and bring us closer to peace. Chief among those, I have to thank Ruby Corado for teaching me everything I know. And, of course, I must thank my partner Elijah Edelman, who is with me not just in life, but in an ongoing journey towards justice, and who, without his unending support, absolutely incredible intellect, and remarkable strength, I would be less than half the activist I am.
Thanks to everyone who made GLAA's 42nd anniversary reception a success on Thursday - from the fabulous community organizers and change agents we honored to our friends in high places to public-spirited business leaders and donors at every level who support our advocacy.
Beyond the champagne and hors d'oeuvres, the gathering was a reminder of the cooperation it takes to create change. We even had a taste of politicians rewriting history, in accidental tribute to the GWB presidential library opening. (We can blame the cocktails.) "Thanks for holding on," one honoree said to me. And that's the key thing: holding on. It hasn't been easy, and we're not done, but look how far we've come. Washington takes a lot of knocks, but we are blessed to live in this city.
Later I'll post the speeches and presentations on GLAA's main website, and perhaps post a few highlights here (though it's a lovely day and I'm heading to the park for some sunshine and fresh air); but for the moment I want to thank everyone for helping us celebrate. As Paul Kuntzler said in the Founder's Toast, "Much has been done. Much remains to be done. Here's to the cause."
This clip from 1987 shows then-PM Margaret Thatcher speaking against gay rights, because The Children! The following year, Parliament passed the notorious anti-gay Section 28. As Maggie gets the grand send-off, this is worth remembering.
In 2004, former PM Margaret Thatcher attended Ronald Reagan's funeral at Washington National Cathedral. Her health was not vigorous, however, so she pre-recorded her eulogy. She sat right next to former Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, watching herself. I post this now as a reminder of how masterful she was. Mind you, I say masterful, not accurate. This is an incredible pile of well-crafted and superbly delivered political bullshit. My favorite moment comes at 9:17 on the above clip. Nobody did it better than Maggie. There was not a cloud in the sky of her serene convictions. Never a second thought, never room for reconsideration. Such a person is dangerous.
Our friend Peter Tatchell writes from London about former PM Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday at 87:
“Margaret Thatcher was an extraordinary woman but she was extraordinary for mostly the wrong reasons. So many of her policies were wrong and heartless. Nevertheless, I don’t rejoice in her death. I commiserate, as I do with the death of any person. In contrast, she showed no empathy for the victims of her harsh, ruthless policy decisions,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“Thatcher initiated policies that paved the way for the current economic crisis: the decimation of Britain’s manufacturing base, the get-rich-quick business mentality, the promotion of the free market and the poorly regulated banking sector. This led to imbalances in the economy. The financial sector gained undue influence, with few checks and balances. These distortions were exacerbated by Blair and Brown but Thatcher began the train of events that led to the present economic meltdown.
“In 1988, the Thatcher government legislated Britain’s first new anti-gay law in 100 years: Section 28. At the 1987 Conservative party conference she mocked people who defended the right to be gay, insinuating that there was no such right. During her rule, arrests and convictions for consenting same-sex behaviour rocketed, as did queer bashing violence and murder. Gay men were widely demonised and scapegoated for the AIDS pandemic and Thatcher did nothing to challenge this vilification.
“To her credit, she shattered the sexist glass ceiling in politics and got to the top in a man’s world. However, on becoming Prime Minister she did little for the rights of women. She was a macho, testosterone-fuelled right-wing politician.
“Her political agenda was almost entirely divisive and destructive, including mass unemployment and urban decay. She emasculated local government and boosted police powers to the detriment of civil liberties. The striking miners and their families were ruthlessly crushed on her orders. She oversaw the use of police state methods. Baton-wielding police struck down peaceful miners. People travelling to support the strikers were pre-emptively arrested. Protesting miners at Orgreave were framed on false police evidence.
“On a personal note: Thatcher once unintentionally praised me. It happened in 1981 in the House of Commons. SDP MP James Wellbeloved urged Thatcher to denounce me for advocating extra-parliamentary protests against Tory policies. She responded by saying that she had not read the remarks by the “honourable person.” This was the first and last time she ever described me as honourable,” said Mr Tatchell.
I'm not sure that her heartlessness was fueled by testosterone, but Peter's criticisms are on the mark. I always found her fascinating, especially her absolute, impenetrable serenity in her convictions, which were usually wrong. Yesterday I found myself doing my Maggie Thatcher impression with dramatic readings of some of her most famous quotes.
Below, Lawrence O'Donnell corrects the record on Thatcher, showing among other things that she was much more socialist than her American admirers want to admit.
The thought of that awful day 45 years ago makes me too sad and angry to say much. ABC News has a photo gallery from those days here. Thoughts from Democracy Now!, NYT, The Root. My own meditation from 2008 on the 40th anniversary of the riots that followed Dr. King's assassination is here.
Below, one picture of what was stolen that day in Memphis.
The conclusion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Mountaintop" speech, delivered forty-five years ago today in Memphis on the eve of his murder. His challenge rings down to us to carry on the unfinished work.