Sunday, December 13, 2009

BOYCOTT UGANDAN COFFEE, Part 2


See the previous blog post for details regarding this boycott of Ugandan Coffee. The boycott is a response to Uganda's draconian "Kill the Gays" law, which is expected to pass Uganda's parliament in the next few weeks.

To the list of coffees included in the first post, please at UGANDAN DELICIOUS PEACE COFFEE. This coffee is currently distributed in the United States by the Thanksgiving Coffee Company, located in Fort Bragg, California. The motto for this coffee is "Not just a cup - but a JUST cup." However, there is no justice at all in Uganda for gays and lesbians.

Drop this business a note or call them to tell them you why you will not buy their product and that they're supporting a homophobic and oppressive government.

Thanksgiving Coffee Company •
Mail Order (800) 648-6491 • Wholesale (800) 462-1999
19100 South Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BOYCOTT UGANDAN COFFEE!


Uganda is on the verge of passing a horrific new law that would sentence gays and lesbians in that country to death or life inmprisonment. It would sentence people who know homosexuals and do not report them to three years in prison. Rachel Maddow has covered this proposed "Kill the Gays" law extensively on her program, and news stories about this massive human rights violation are all over the internet. This law has not yet passed the Ugandan parliament, but no one doubts that it will.

What can we here in America do? Uganda's national budget is extremely dependent upon foreign aid, and the United States provides a large portion of that aid. Contact your legislators and senators. Insist that they take notice of what's happening in Uganda and urge that, if this law passes, all American foreign aid immediately be discontinued.

But we can do more. We can boycott Uganda's largest export product, and that's coffee. Particularly, it's coffee made from Robusta and Arabica coffee beans.

Do not buy coffee labeled Robusta or Arabica without consulting the label. These are the two primary types of coffee grown in Uganda. If the label says Uganda, put it back on the shelf and inform the store owner why you will not buy it.

Starbucks is a huge purchaser of Ugandan coffee. Let your local coffee shop know about this law. Inform them that you won't be buying any coffee product from Uganda. Ask them to discontinue that coffee.

Dean & Deluca, an upscale specialty store with locations in many major cities, carries a variety of Ugandan coffees.

Millstone Coffees also distributes brands made with Ugandan beans.


Boycott any coffee labeled "Ugandan Gold," which is produced and distributed by an Evanglical Anglican group in Uganda and distributed by Old Time Coffee Co out of Middlesex, PA.


Boycott any product called "Ugandan Mountain Coffee," which is distributed by Coffee Legends, Inc.

Act now. Don't wait. Enlist your friends and spread the word. Boycott Ugandan Coffee.

Friday, December 4, 2009

PA Leather Pride Donates $9,300 to Leather Archives!


PRESS RELEASE
December 4, 2009

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Rick Storer
Leather Archives & Museum



Philadelphia Leather Pride Night donates $9,300 to Leather Archives



Chicago, IL - December 4, 2009 - The first annual Philadelphia Leather Pride Night, held November 7th, 2009, donated $9,300 to the Leather Archives & Museum. The funds were raised through individual and corporate sponsorships, donations, a silent auction featuring auctioneer Jo Arnone, raffles, and the generosity of the event attendees. The evening's festivities, emceed by International Ms. Leather 1996 Jill Carter, also raised funds for the Leather Heart Foundation and By the Grace of George Fund. Philadelphia Leather Pride Night was produced by Mid Atlantic Leather Woman 2009 Cowboi Jen.

Philadelphia Leather Pride Night 2010 has been scheduled for November 6th. Visit www.plpn.org for more information about the event. Visit www.leatherarchives.org for more information about the Leather Archives & Museum.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

HOUSE OF HATE AND BIGOTRY



Over 150 protestors showed up this past Sunday at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica after learning that the archdiocese donated $10,000 to defeat same-sex marriage in Maine. The protesters included a 90-year old woman with two grown lesbian daughters and a 10-year old girl there to defend her lesbian mother.

Also attending the rally was Jacob Piwowarczyk, 21, of St. Louis, who showed up with a badly injured eye and an arm in a sling. He and two friends were attacked by four men in the parking lot of a gay bar early Saturday morning in what he called a hate crime.

"Are the Catholic dollars placed in the offering basket behind us not private? Do you tell the donors what you are doing with them?" organizer Ed Reggi of Show Me No Hate told the crowd. "Why not fund love, archbishop?"

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson released a statement in response to Sunday's protest, saying the donation came from a "special needs fund" supported with "private gifts" that is not used for formal operations. The fund is used at the archbishop's discretion, so responsibility for this act bigotry lies directly at Carlson's feet.

Show Me No Hate, the group responsible for organizing the protest, wants same-sex marriage legalized in Missouri. They plan to rally outside the New Cathedral every Sunday throughout Advent, a twenty-five day period straddling the Christmas holiday.

The Roman Catholic Church led the successful charge to overturn a law that would have made Maine the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage. Leading up to the Nov. 3 vote, 45 dioceses around the country contributed a total of $180,550 to the effort, according to campaign finance records.

Tax-exempt religious organizations are not allowed to participate in political campaigns for candidates, but they can "engage in advocating for or against issues and, to a limited extend, ballot initiatives," according to Internal Revenue Service regulations.

It's very much past time work to toward stripping churches, especially the Catholic Church, of their tax exemptions. The Catholic Church has become nothing more than a right-wing political action committee and a hate group. They recently attempted flat-out blackmail in an effort to stop a Washington, D.C. city council vote on same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

JOIN THE "GAY DOLLARS" CAMPAIGN

Last month, the citizens of Maine voted away the marriage rights of Gay people. Today, we were handed another heart-breaking defeat in New York. Maybe it's time to remind people of the real lives these votes are affting. Especially, let's remind merchants in your area of the Gay Community's spending power.

Do you want to protest the discriminatory laws and policies that make us second-class citizens? Maybe you can't take to the streets but would like to make some kind of quieter statement?

Take out a pen or magic marker and write "Gay Dollars" visibly on every dollar bill in your wallet or purse. Encourage your friends to do the same. And keep doing it. Put these bills into circulation and let the message pass from one hand to the other. They say that money talks in this culture. So let your money speak for you.

Not quite comfortable with handing your grocer a bill marked "Gay Dollars?" Then take up that pen or magic marker and write "Equality Now!"

Just Do It.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Mister Marcus" - R.I.P.

I'm horribly behind with this blog for all sorts of important reasons, but I must post on this. I'm grieved to learn of the passing of a true leather community legend. On October 8, 2009, Gilbert Hernandez, known better as "Mister Marcus," died from complications resulting from diabetes and arteriosclerosis.

Mister Marcus had a long and distinguished list of accomplishments, too many to recount here. H wrote a weekly column on leather happenings for the Bay Area Reporter for decades. He was a judge at the International Mr. Leather competition every year until recently when they stopped allowing repeat judges, and then he was named "judge-emeritus," after which he was given the honor of announcing the top-twenty finalists, always in his own inimitable style, and often in special costumes designed just for the ocassion. He judged leather contests all across the country year after year, and he mentored literally hundreds of title-holders and contestants. He was immensely generous with his time and contributed inestimable energy to community service. He served six years in the air force, is survived by four sons, had a special day named for him by the mayor of San Francisco ... so many more facts.

But a man's life is more than just facts. I met Mister Marcus on several ocassions and quickly pegged him as a witty, cantankerous, and delightful old gentleman. He was one of the judges at the first leather competion I ever entered - the Mr. Dixie Belle Contest in Kansas City. Yes, the name of that bar always got a laugh, and Mister Marcus made no end of fun. "So why would anybody want to be Mr. Dixie Belle!" Ultimately, I lost the contest by a couple of points, taking first runner-up, instead. I wasn't upset at all; indeed, I was honored. However, Mister Marcus took me aside, said many kind things, and made me promise to compete again someday.

I also discovered that Mister Marcus knew my "San Francisco grandfather" well, and held him in utter disdain. It didn't matter, I told him, I could honor and respect two gentlemen at the same time.

I saw him at other contests a few times and for the last time at the 30th anniversary of the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago last year. I thought he didn't look well then. Two months later, during San Francisco's gay pride weekend at the end of June, he collapsed and entered the hospital. He got out for only a short time, and then re-entered the hospital just before the Dore Alley Festival. And he remained there until his passing. He was 77 years old.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WE LOSE MAINE, WASHINGTON UNDETERMINED

The forces of hatred and oppression scored another victory last night as 53% of Maine voters voted in favor of Proposition 1 and to repeal the recently passed law allowing same-sex marriage in that state. The news came on the one-year anniversary of a similar decision in California.

In Washington State where voters responded to Propositin 71, which was dubbed the "Everything but Marriage" law, results are still to be determined, however, things are looking a little better. The law would grant same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, just not the word "marriage. However, because of Washington's mail-in ballot system, final results may not be known for days. So far, voters are approving Referendum 71 by a margin of 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent. Early results had the referendum being rejected but the tide turned with the infusion of votes from King and Snohomish Counties.

There were a few other bright spots in elections around the country. Kalamazoo voters decided by almost a 2-to-1 margin to retain Gay Rights non-descrimination protections, stunning opponents who had twice previously forced the city council to reconsider those protections and ultimately forced the ballot measure.

In Detroit, openly gay former news reporter Charles Pugh will lead that city's city council.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina elected Mark Kleinschmidt, the city's first openly gay mayor.

And in Houston, Texas, openly gay Houston city controller Annise Parker will face attorney Gene Locke in a run-off election for mayor. In a broad field of candidates, Parker and Locke were the two top vote-getters, with Parker receiving 30%to Locke's 25%.

Still, the loss in Maine stings. It's time to change our political stratgies and divest ourselves of the illusion that Barack Obama is our friend. Friends don't stand silently on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets while civil rights are stripped away. The words, "fierce advocate" are rotten meat in his mouth. Nor should the Democratic Party, as a whole, be let off the hook.

It's time to consider the lessons of history. Without H. Rapp Brown and Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X and Angela Davis, nobody would have given Martin Luthor King teh time of day. Where would the fight against AIDS be without ACT-UP?

It's time to consider open civil disobedience.



Monday, November 2, 2009

LEATHER AT DIVERSITY WEEKEND - EUREKA SPRINGS

On October 30th, my parter and I jumped into his plane and made an impromptu overnight trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to take part in the Friday night festivities of that town's Fall Diversity Weekend. For those who don't know, this tiny bright oasis of tolerance in the middle of Arkansas hosts two events each year - the Spring and Fall Diversity weekends -- to which gay men and lesbians from all over the country flock. It's truly a welcoming environment.

For the first time, one of the bars in Eureka hosted a Leather Night. The bar is called Henri's and is nestled right in the middle of downtown Eureka Springs. On our previous trips to Diversity Weekend events, neither my partner nor I had ever encountered much going on in the way of leather, so naturally we packed none for this simple overnight trip. When we walked into Henri's in the middle of the afternoon and learned what they had planned for the evening, we rolled our eyes and slapped our heads like extras in a Charlie Chaplin movie.



However, the afternoon visit proved fortuitous. Business was just casual enough to give me a chance to talk with Henri's manager, Lynn Whitley. Lynn explained that she came from a strong leather background, mostly in the Tulsa community. This Friday Leather Night represented the bar's first-time effort, however they plan to continue to offer leather events at all future Diversity Weekends. Lynn was very conversational, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the leather scene, and she urged us to return later that evening.

Of course, we did. With a bare minimum of leather, specifically a motorcycle jacket and my favorite polished combat boots, I returned that evening with Ron to find the bar packed. Because it's called "Diversity Weekend" everyone is welcome, whether in leather or not, but a number of hot leather men and women were present, including the current Mr. Central Plains Leather and Mr. Oklahoma Leather 1997.



In leather or not, the crowd was lively and friendly. It seemed that everyone wanted to chat. "Where are you from?" was a common question. The bar is not huge, but with a spill-over dining area, I never felt crushed. The bar staff, including Lynn on duty that night, was quick and efficient, and the drinks very reasonably priced. Along with the dance music, a little ocassional karaoke (scary-oke) gets mixed in, but not so much as to intrude on the good time.

There is no leather contest associated with Henri's event, nor do they plan to introduce one, according to Lynn. This is for the best, in my opinion, as focusing on contestants and judges would detract from a celebration in which all the guests are the town's focus. A good leather party can thrive on its own, and Henri's hosted a fine leather party.



Good luck, Lynn, and good luck, Henri's. Your Leather Night is a fine addition to Diversity Weekend. Thank you for making our visit so terrific. I'll certainly spread the word.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

FOLLOW-UP: MR. LOUISIANA LEATHER RESULTS

Thanks to the wonderful Toni Pizanie, columnist for AMBUSH Magazine and one of the judges for the Mr. Louisiana Leather contest, I now have the results. She actually reported them much sooner, but I neglected to check all my email. Anyway, on with the winners!




Five hot men competed for the title in mid-October. Contestant #1 Gray Gibson, 31, 6', 185#, active in the Radical Faeries movement. New to the Leather lifestyle. Won Mr. Phoenix contest and sponsored by Phoenix Bar. Did not place.

#2 Brad Williams, 49, 5'10", 170#, teaches high school, active in church, soup kitchen and S&M. Sponsored by Rawhide. Did not place.

#3 Doug Duke, 44, 6'1", 175#, interested in Leather history and light bondage. Supports and enjoys Lords of Leather activities. Sponsored by Panda Bear. Placed second runner up (3rd).

#4 Toby Lefort, 37, 5'4", 150#, has raised $150,000 over 13 years for the NO/AIDS Task Force, member of the Lords of Leather, and title holder of Mr. Southern Renegades in Mobile, AL. Sponsored by Southern Renegades and B-Bob's Bar in Mobile. Placed 1st and well deserved.

#5 Jose Gonzalez, 34, 6', 205#, volunteers for NO/AIDS Task Force, helps friends rebuild their homes, a worthy cause after several hurricanes. New to the Leather lifestyle and eager to learn and share his experiences with the mainstream Gay community. No sponsor. Placed 2nd (first runner up) and loved by judges for his honesty and openness.

The judges and officials for Mr. Louisiana Leather 2010 included:

Michael Albracht, Mr. Louisiana Leather 2008

Bobby Connell, Owner of the Phoenix Bar

Larry Everett, International Mr. Leather 1995

Tony Pizanie, Political Activist and Contributing Journalist to AMBUSH Magazine.

and Joe Trotta, Manager of Rawhide 2010

John and Paul, owners of John Pauls served as tally masters.


So, congratulations to TOBY LEFORT, the reigning Mr. Louisiana Leather. Toby, I wish you the best of luck and hope you do very well at the International Mr. Leather competition next May.

And to all the competitors, the judges and the LORDS OF LEATHER, who sponsored the contest, thank you for an exciting event. New Orleans is a great city and lucky to have such a vibrant and thriving leather community.







Toby LeFort, Mr. Louisiana Leather 2010

(Note: the photographs used in this article are not mine, but the work of other photographers.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LEATHER ARCHIVES & MUSEUM NEWS



Dr. Jennifer Tyburczy, Ph.D., Joins the Leather Archives & Museum as Director of Programming

Chicago, IL - October 22, 2009 - Dr. Jennifer Tyburczy joins the Leather Archives & Museum [LA&M] staff shortly after successfully earning her Ph.D. from Northwestern University's Department of Performance Studies where she specialized in gender and sexuality studies.

At the LA&M, Tyburczy continues to pursue her theoretical scholarship while at the same time mobilizing educational programming that appeals to leather/kink/fetish communities as well as scholars and researchers. She ultimately wants to continue the LA&M's current function as a community center and establish the LA&M as the premier institute for conducting research on alternative sexuality in the United States.

"We're excited to have Dr. Tyburczy on board. Her experience and expertise will heighten the quality of educational programming and research opportunities the Leather Archives strives to bring its patrons" said Executive Director Rick Storer.

Tyburczy's articles on sexuality, visual culture, and the exhibition of sexual artifacts in museums have appeared in numerous journals, encyclopedias, and newsletters. She joins the LA&M staff as a teacher with over eight years of experience in the university classroom where she has taught classes as diverse as "Gender and Performance," "Sexuality and Visual Culture," and "Exhibiting Sexualities."

Tyburczy's dissertation work, entitled, "Exhibiting Sexualities: Pleasure, Power, and Performance in Museums," is the first full-length investigation of a group of museums in the Americas dedicated to the exhibition of sexuality. It describes how museums adopt and adapt certain themes, contexts, and display technologies to exhibit sexuality for diverse museum audiences.

About the LA&M : The Leather Archives & Museum is a unique museum, library and archives with collections centered on leather, fetishism and sadomasochism. For more information, please visit http://www.leatherarchives.org

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PRESIDENT SIGNS HATE CRIMES BILL

I'm not easily excitable, but I made a point of watching the CNN coverage of the President's signing ceremony today, October 28, as he put his name to the Mathew Shepard - James Bird Hate Crimes Legislation. As I watched the event on CNN, I also listened to coverage on Michael Signorile's Out-Q radio show.

The measure expands current hate crimes law to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. To assure its passage after eleven years of frustrated efforts, Democratic supporters attached the measure to the must-pass defense policy bill over the steep objections of many Republicans.

The president signed the bill using ten (I think) pens, and my heart pounded. When the various people standing around him, including the Secretary of Defense and many military officers, began to applaud I confess that I also applauded here at my desk. I'm not convinced that the bill will have any practical effect, that it will actually lead to a reduction in hate crimes, however, America should be as much about its ideals and its ideas. The Equal Protection of law and the constitution should be guaranteed for everyone. This bill takes another step in the right direction.

I have not always been a big supporter of President Obama. Despite his claims, he is no "fierce advocate" for our community. His administration has offered a very homophobic defense of DOMA; he's done nothing to halt "Don't Ask, Don't Tell;" he's remained totally silent about events taking place now in Maine and in Washington State that would strip gay people of hard-won rights in those states. For all the many promisees he made to our community, his feet must be held to the fire.

But today, this afternoon, I'm grateful to the president for taking this action. I'm grateful, also, to Senator Edward Kennedy, who championed this legislation for so many years before his death, and to Judy Shepard, who worked tirelessly to achieve this goal. This is a bright day for the Gay Nation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mr. Louisiana Leather - A Partial Review

I'm writing this from New Orleans. My partner has had a business conference down here since the past Friday, and I've tagged along. A few days before we left, on an impulse, I checked the Calendar of Events in the Leather Journal and discovered that we were in town just in time for the annual Mr. Louisiana Leather Contest. Yippee! Now I would have dropped by the Phoenix/Eagle in any case, because my partner had never been there. This gave us an excuse to pack some leather.

Our schedule was tight, but we dressed in appropriate attire and headed to the Phoenix for Friday night's contestant meet-and-greet. The Phoenix has long been one of my favorite leather bars, and I was eager to see how it had changed in the five years since my last visit. Our hotel is on Canal Street near Harrah's Casino on Canal Street, and the Eagle is at the farthest end of the French Quarter in an area called Marigny. So we took a cab. The driver knew exactly where to go.

We were greeted by a very friendly pair of doormen. That was just the beginning. New Orleans is friendly country. The Phoenix is the downstairs bar, and the area was packed with men in leather and denim, many gathered around the pool table. The Phoenix also has an outdoor patio, which is new to me. It lends extra space and is a much welcome addition.

Up a steep flight of steps is the Eagle. Careful here - the ceiling is low and the stairway narrow, as if to give warning that you're entering a different world. The Eagle is dark and darker and sometimes, darkest, depending upon the bartender's mood. A jail cell adorns one corner. Customers sit or stand around a bar or lean on a long rail. At times, it can be hard to see each others' faces. However, Friday night the lights were just a bit brighter.

A very nice woman sat at one end of the bar, and she promptly beckoned me over. Why not? She was surrounded by attractive men. Her name was Toni Pizani. Something of a grandmotherly type, she introduced me to the other guys close by, who turned out to be members of the legendary Lords of Leather. I enjoyed her company quite a lot and enjoyed talking with the Lords. I may have to write a post about them. One of the oldest leather groups in the south, they are the first official gay mardi gras krewe. They do a lot of charity work down here, as well.

Toni, it turned out, was also one of the judges for the weekend's leather contest.

Now, as my subject line says, this is only a partial review of the event. In the crowded bar, I could not get the names of the other judges, nor were they familiar to me. Same thing for the five contestants. I had talked with several of them, but I didnt write down their names. I'm hoping to have that information soon for an update.

After the contestants and judges were introduced, the crowd began to thin out a little. A half hour later, my partner and I also headed out. The main event, the competition itself, was scheduled to take place the next evening at a different bar a giant disco called OZ in the French Quarter. I'm afraid that we declined to pay the $15 per person cover charge to view the final, not because of the cash, but because of the smoke.

Which brings me to my only problem with New Orleans bars. Both my partner and I have gotten so used to non-smoking bars in the major cities. It startled us to walk into the clouds of haze that fill the bars down here. The Phoenix/Eagle is still one of the great leather bars in the country, and the people are wonderful. However, between that bar and the numerous others we've visited, my eyes haven't burned so much in years, and I've got a suitcase full of stinking clothes.

So the Phoenix/Eagle gets an A+

Ms. Toni Pizani gets an A+ (read her column in the AMBUSH)

The hot men at the event get an A+

But the smoke gets an F. Get with the times, New Orleans. People don't want to breathe this shit anymore.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Video from the March on Washington

Watch more AOL News videos on AOL Video



This raw video is courtesy of AP.

I wasn't able to attend the march, but I did listen to Obama's speech to HRC on a live CNN broadcast. I was very moved and proud as I listened to it over the radio with my partner. Afterward, however, the speech felt - empty. The speech was sharply delivered, yet ultimately Obama said nothing new. I want to hope. Maybe the passage of the hate-crimes legislation, once that vote is finalized, will shine a brighter light on things. But hate crimes legislation can't be enough. We have to continue to hold Obama's -- and the rest of the democrats' -- feet to the fire. The must move forward on the promises they made to us, and not just the small, easiest ones.

To those who marched today, thank you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

WASHINGTON MARCH THIS WEEKEND!



This video is entitled "Will You March With Us in Washington?" Unfortunately, I will not be there. But my heart will be there with thousands of my gay brothers and sisters. These are the warriors of the gay community, the fighters. Out men and women, they are putting their bodies and their dollars on the front lines of the gay movemebt to fight for our rights in our nation's capital.

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. In its own quieter way it is as important as our Gay Pride celebrations because it reminds us of who we are, where we've come from, and where we have yet to go. It also provides one more opportunity to remind the broader straight society that we are here and we're not going away.

So much is on the line right now. In Maine we're fighting another effort to overturn our hard-won right to marry. In Washington state, we're fighting a right-wing effort to strip away domestic partner rights. A bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has just been introduced in congress. Several court cases across the country have been launched to repeal the hateful Defense of Marriage Act. In Washington, D.C. the city council is almost certain to approve same sex marriage, but that will have to be defended -- just as we have to defend every gain we've made in every state and city and town in America.

We've come a long way. But as we learned in California with Proposition 8, our gains can often be taken away with a simple vote.

Where ever you are this weekend -- on the street, in a theater or museum, in a restaurant or a bar -- remember those marchers in Washington. Power concedes nothing without action.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gay Marine - A Profile In Courage




Tim Smith, a four-year Marine, was just days away from assignment in Iraq a Marine chaplain betrayed a confidence and revealed to Smith's superiors that Smith was gay. Smith was honorably discharged and returned to his home in Memphis, Tennessee where he now attends university.

In a story that has now made national and international headlines, Tim Smith once again donned full Marine and appeared on a Memphis billboard, along with a message that said, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom." A plain simple and TRUE statement.

Then, some cowardly bigot ripped the billboard to shreds in the dark of night.

Smith says he expected some backlash, but nothing quite like this. “As a gay veteran, I have to be able to speak for those still serving in uniform that aren't able to." He added, "It was more or less shock and then it turned to righteous indignation and anger towards whoever had done it and that the act had even been committed,” says Smith.

It's not the first time Smith has faced adversity because of his sexual orientation. He was kicked out of the Marines under the 'Don’t Ask, Don't Tell policy' -- less than a month before he was supposed to deploy to Iraq.

“It was the result of a minister pushing the issue of my being gay and being allowed to continue to serve,” says Smith.

Despite the billboard's destruction, Smith says he feels the attitude towards gay people is changing. “I think the person or persons who did this are of a dying breed and that kind of hate is a dying hate.”

Smith says there have not been any threats made against him, and he's not afraid.

The billboard has gone back up, along with four other billboards with different messages, all in time for National Coming Out Day.

Memphis police say they are investigating this as a theft of property. Right now, it has not been classified as a hate crime. Duh. Memphis police have their heads up their asses.

Friday, October 2, 2009

World War II Vet Speaks Up for Gay Marriage

This is a remarkable statement by an 86 year old veteran of World War II giving testimony in Maine on behalf of Maine Equality. Listen to his response when someone asked him outside a voting booth if he believed in equality for gays and lesbians.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ATLANTA EAGLE FOLLOW-UP -- POLICE APOLOGIZE

Atlanta Chief of Police Richard Pennington has issued an apology as a result of the raid on the Atlanta Eagle Bar, which occurred last week. Twenty-one officers, nine undercover and twelve uniformed police, in ten squad cars with three paddy wagons, essentially attacked the bar and the sixty-two patrons inside.

At a press conference, Pennington said he takes seriously allegations of police misconduct. He also expressed regret that Danni Lynn Harris, the department’s liason with the gay and lesbian community, had not been notified of the raid.

“She should have been invited,” Pennington said. If she had been there, the chief said, any inappropriate behavior by the officers could have been curtailed.

“This is very unfortunate this incident occurred,” Pennington said. “I’m sorry for what happened.”

Pennington claimed that the department had received previous complaints of drug use and sales at the bar. Additionally, he said that undercover officers had visited the bar on two previous occasions and witnessed sex acts. However, despite this BLUNT SHOW OF FORCE, by Pennington's department, no drugs were discovered on the premises or any of the staff or customers, nor was anyone arrested for public lewdness or lewd acts. Nor has anyone been arrested at the Eagle for either of those charges. "We have a clean record for thirteen years," said one of the Eagle's co-owners.

A demonstration was held on Sunday in protest of the raid. At least ten people have filed formal complaints against the police department.

Friday, September 11, 2009

WTF, ATLANTA???



WHO SENDS A SQUAD OF UNDERCOVER OFFICERS, TEN POLICE CARS AND TWO PADDY WAGONS TO INVESTIGATE A "NOISE COMPLAINT?" Apparently the Atlanta Police Department.

In a move strangely reminiscent of the recent Fort Worth raid on the Rainbow Lounge, Atlanta police turned out in force to raid the popular Atlanta Eagle leather bar late on Thursday night, September 10. Officers arrested eight members of the Eagle staff, plus several dancers. They also manhandled and harrassed customers while shouting slurs and derogatory comments.

Originally, officers claimed they were investigating an anonymous noise complaint. Then they claimed they were investigating the Eagle because of reports of drug use. Later yet, they claimed reports of sex acts inside and outside of the club led to tghe raid. Yet, at the end of the evening, after shutting down the bar, ordering all the customers face down on the floor, handcuffing many of them, searching everyone and running identity checks -- after all that -- the best that Atlanta's Finest could manage was to arrest a few people because a couple of guys dancing in their underwear did not have "strippers' licenses." The eight staff and dancers were held overnight.

In Atlanta, a city with one of the highest crime rates in the country, THIS IS HOW THE ATLANTA POLICE SPEND THEIR TIME AND TAX-DOLLARS? By harrassing gay citizens for trumped up reasons that they make up on the spot? First, noise. Then, drugs. Then, heaven help us, underwear-dancing?

These cops -- I won't dignify them with the word 'officers' -- shame their badges and their uniforms.

Three hours ago, after numerous requests for information throughout the day from many media sources, the Atlanta Police Department released a terse statement. It is brief and totally non-informative. It says:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 11, 2009

The Atlanta Eagle Club Arrests

“The Atlanta Police Department conducts routine inspections of city businesses with valid alcohol permits. The City received several complaints with descriptive information about alleged criminal conduct at the Atlanta Eagle Club located at 306 Ponce De Leon.

In an effort to ensure compliance with the law, the Police Department investigated the complaints and during the investigation police observed criminal behavior taking place at the Club on September 10, 2009. While the Police were conducting a compliance check it lead to the arrests of eight employees. The Department views all complaints of criminal conduct as serious and will utilize resources to investigate and deter criminal activity in order to create a safe environment.

While there have been allegations of improper behavior by police officers conducting the investigation, there have not been any official complaints filed with the Atlanta Police Department. ”

Sgt. Lisa Keyes, Atlanta Police Department, Public Affairs Unit




Now, note that the statement does not specify the charges or specific nature of the complaint that led to this MASSIVE SHOW OF FORCE, nor does it acknowledge that the worst crime they found was a couple of guys dancing in their Calvin Kleins.

Note also that, although every single customer and staff member in the bar was searched, and virtually every piece of equipment, including cash registers and ice machines, were searched, the Atlanta Gestapo found ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE OF DRUGS. Zip, zilch, nada, no drugs. Not on the customers, not on the staff, not on the premises.

Note also those totally unfounded allegations of sex acts inside the club and out. Ablsolutely nobody was charged with a lewd act.

Indeed, the only noise was the noise made by squad cars, swat teams and mouthy laughing cops. The only lewd acts were the pathetic efforts to come up with a justification after the fact for this attack on the gay community. And the only drugs involved in this sorry matter were the ones these asshat cops must have been smoking beforehand.

"Our problem is with the way our customers were treated," said one of the Eagle's owners, Richard Ramey.

“I’m thinking, this is Stonewall. It’s like I stepped into the wrong decade,” said Nick Koperski, 31, who had just gotten to the bar when the raid, involving more than a dozen police officers, some in plain clothes, commenced.

Eagle bartender Chris Lopez said, “Before I knew it I was being handcuffed to [Robert Kelley]. They were going from patron to patron, having everyone turn out their pockets.”

Danni Lynn Harris, Atlanta Police's liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, said the volume of complaints she's received from Eagle customers suggest an investigation is warranted. Harris acknowledged that she knew nothing about the raid until she heard about it through the media.

Later, after fumbling through a series of excuses and justifications, Harris said the raid, conducted by the vice squad, was a result of a tip sent to Mayor Shirley Franklin's office alleging “illicit sex” at The Eagle, Harris said. Ironically, Franklin's election and re-election campaigns were headquartered in space adjoining the leather bar.

Harris admitted that no drugs were found, and none of those arrested face narcotics charges.

“It just doesn’t make any sense, with all the bad stuff that’s going on in the city,” Lopez said. “It felt like they had to justify [the raid].”

“What I’ve been hearing is a lot of people saying they were verbally abused, with anti-gay overtones,” the LGBT liaison said.

“I’ve never heard about something like this at a straight establishment,” Koperski said. “I do believe it was prejudicial.”

A rally opposing the raid has been organized for 5 p.m. Sunday at the bar.

“I’m concerned it’s going to be one of those things that blow up before all the facts are known,” Harris said.

Ramey, who said The Eagle has never had trouble with police before, said he may pursue legal action following the raid.

“How can I just sit here and let them get away with doing this to my customers?” he said.

The APD statement acknowledged "allegations of improper behavior by police officers conducting the investigation" but added no official complaints have been filed with the department.

As for that anonymous "noise complaint?" Steve Gower, a community volunteer with the watchdog group, Midtown Ponce Security Alliance, said the neighborhood group does not have a problem with the Eagle.

"I can assure you that the raid was not initiated by MPSA or its patrol, and we have never received any complaints, reports, or observations about criminal activity in any way associated with the Eagle," Gower said. "Further, I have spent much time on the streets of Midtown, and look under every rock to identify problem spots. Eagle is not one of those problem spots, and we have always considered the Eagle to be a good neighbor."

One patron who asked that his name be withheld said the crowd at the bar was “definitely shocked" by the raid. “I had been there less that five minutes, around 11 p.m.,” the patron told Southern Voice. “It was a pretty slow night, and I was just talking with someone by the dance floor when all of a sudden, a police officer, I’m not sure if he was in plain clothes or not, came through, knocked something over and said, ‘everyone get down.’"

The man initially thought it might have been a fight between patrons, but after seeing several officers enter the dance floor area, he knew it was serious.

“I was on my knees after they told us to get down, but then an officer grabbed me by the back of the neck and pushed me down,” said the patron. “It wasn’t necessarily abuse, but I definitely think they used a heavy hand."

Anyone who tried arguing with authorities was told to “Shut up,” and “don’t speak until spoken to," the man said.

“It was a full on police raid. For customers who were just having a drink, hanging out, it was definitely shocking,” he said. He added that he was face down on the ground through the process, hich for him was about half an hour. Others, he said, waited even longer.

According to the patron, while everyone was still face down, police searched the crowd individually without asking permission, and later took everyone’s ID. Once a patron’s ID was cleared, he was asked to leave the building.

“I heard some laughter and casual conversation during the event,” he continued. “It made me mad because I was forced on the floor, searched and held down, not able to talk while they were walking around joking and taking their job lightly.

“We were treated as criminals from the get-go,” he said. “I definitely felt harassed. It seems like the club was targeted unfairly,” he said. “And it was a raid for anything and everything they could find."

Du-Wayne Ray, store manager of Rawhide Leather, which operates below the Eagle, said that he and one of his employees heard one white uniformed officer say to another, “This is a lot more fun than raiding niggers with crack.”

Ray said he was handcuffed for an hour-and-a-half to two hours on the back deck of The Eagle, and said, “A lot of anti-gay comments were made.”

A reporter for Atlanta Progessive News was actually on the site at the time of the raid and broke the story in the early hours of Friday morning.

Another patron, Allan Vives, who was at the bar during the raid, also offered an account of events to Atlanta Progressive News on Friday.

"Everyone was ordered to get on their stomachs and face down during this ordeal. As far as I could tell everyone was searched at least once, most of us twice. Most, but not all, of the officers were incredibly derogatory and insulting whether they found evidence of drugs or not," Vives said in an email.

"When asking why, we were met with derisive remarks and no explanation. I am furious at how we were treated and can't believe that this has happened in this day and age. The officers present were incredibly rude to anyone who dared to ask what was happening and several were openly hostile towards the gay patrons," he continued.

A protest and demonstration in support for the Atlanta Eagle is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The Atlanta Police Department owes the Eagle and the Atlanta gay community an apology for this ridiculous attack. The statement it issued Friday afternoon is completely inadequate.

When police TABC agents attacked the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas on the 40th anniverary of the Stonewall rebellion, gay Texans turned out in force to voice their outrage. They demanded answers and apologies and got them. Several agents were fired or reprimanded, and new policies were put in place.

Gay Atlantans should demand no less.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whoopi Goldberg - Message to Budapest Gay Pride



Saturday, September 5, marked Gay Pride Day in Budapest, Hungary. To celebrate the occasion, Whoopi Goldberg sent a message of support and solidarity to the two thousand LGBT marchers.

The embassies of thirteen nations also sent messages in the form of a joint statement signed by all. Those nations included Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Read the Joint Statement from 13 embassies in Budapest:

"On the occasion of the 2009 Budapest Pride Festival, we express our support for, and solidarity with, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Hungary. We support the right of these communities to use this traditional occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to express their desire to end the silence surrounding the specific issues that affect them.

“Human rights – including justice, equality, humanity, respect and freedom of expression – and the rule of law are the foundations upon which democratic states are built. Indeed, international human rights law is grounded on the premise that all individuals are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“It is this respect for fundamental human values that obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and to ensure that all people enjoy equal opportunities.

“Today, many individuals face discrimination, both systemic and overt, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Our governments seek to combat such discrimination by promoting the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge all governments to ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity form the basis for criminal penalties.

Our governments` policies in this area are in accordance with the principles set out in the Joint statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December, 2008."



The parade drew support from artists, politicians and human rights organizations around the world, as well. One anti-fascist organization in neighboring Austria shipped in busloads of activists who marched under a giant rainbow flag. Former Hungarian Prime Minister Gerenc Gyurcsany marched with his wife at his side.

Several hundred protesters were also on hand to meet this year's "March for Gay Dignity," but violence was largely prevented due to a massive contingent of security forces who accompanied the marchers. Protesters, Neo-Nazis, and skinheads were kept at bay, allowed no closer than one hundred meters to the parade route. Still, there were a few isolated incidents. An Englishman was punched in the face by a group of skinheads; a woman wearing a Pride tee-shirt was beaten at a bus stop after the parade ended. A sixty year old man protesting the event was knocked to the ground and taken to the hospital after police forced the protestors back. There were a few reports of tear gas and baton charges by the police, and more than 40 arrests were made, most for possession of weapons and riotous behavior. The majority of those arrested were released the next day.

Because of the large security contingent, there were few onlookers or well-wishers along the route, however, television news stations gave broad coverage to the march and the marchers later that evening.



Protestors, Neo-Nazis and Skinheads mingle with confused European soccer fans who were in town for a major game. The protesters are chanting "filthy fags!" and various other obscenities.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Pro Marriage Television Ad Airs in Maine



On May 6 2009, Maine became the fifth state to recognize Marriage Equality for all when Governor Baldacci signed into law a marriage bill passed by the Maine legislature.

However, anti-gay forces have succeeded in pushing a "people's veto," which would overturn the new law. The petition drive to force the measure required only 55,000 signatures. Working churches across the state, the bigots collected twice that number. Baldacci, who signed the new marriage law into effect, has now also signed the formal proclamation that puts the so-called “people's veto” on the November ballot.

“I fully support this legislation and believe it guarantees that all Maine citizens are treated equally under our state's civil marriage laws,” Baldacci said about the gay marriage law. “But I also have a constitutional obligation to set the date for the election once the secretary of state has certified that enough signatures have been submitted.”

The predominantly Catholic group National Organization for Marriage has promised to pour money into the repeal effort, and the Catholic Church has also promised support. The Catholic Diocese of Portland was responsible for forming "Stand for Marriage Maine," the group primarily spearheading the petition drive.

*** To hear an audio of NOM president Maggie Gallagher and Executive Director Brian Brown talking about their anti-gay stances, go here:


http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2009/09/nun-your-business-whats-really-behind-noms-anti-civil-habit.html

I've already blogged previously about the situation in Maine. Please read that entry if you haven't already done so. Despite these early entries into the television market, Equality Maine can expect to be massively outspent by anti-gay foes. Economic times are tough, but if you can afford a donation, go to their website and make a contribution. The gay community doesn't need another "first we have it - then we don't" repeat of California. Fight to keep marriage equality for all in Maine. Fight now and fight hard.


Regards,
Storm

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

LEWIS BLACK - RED, WHITE & SCREWED



This is a clip of Lewis Black's performance at the RED,WHITE & SCREWED event, November 18, 2007. Sometimes, we all just need a laugh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Into It With OutQ's Michael Signorile





I'm normally a regular listener of Michael Signorile's show on Sirius OutQ Radio, but a segment of the August 31st show angered me so much that I called the program and actually got in. In the fourth hour of today's show, Signorile interviewed a radical fundamentalist pastor named Steven L. Anderson, who spearheads a tiny church in Tempe, Arizona. Anderson came to public attention recently by announcing that he was praying for President Obama's death. Then one of his "flock" (what is a "flock" but a collection of sheep?) turned up at an Obama rally with an assault rifle, winning more media attention for the church. Next, Anderson staged a confrontation with border patrol agents in New Mexico and posted the film - yeah, he conveniently had a camera in the front seat - on YouTube. In a very short time, Anderson has managed to score coverage or interviews on almost every major media outlet.

Oh, and guess what? Steven L. Anderson hates gay people. He really, really hates gay people. His views and pronoucements against gay people are vile and hateful. "All gay people should be killed." "All gay people are predators and child molesters." Etc., etc., etc. The Bible says we're bad. Faggot-this and faggot-that. Yawn.

Unless you're living under a rock on a very dark island in a far corner of the world, you've heard everything this so-called pastor has to say about gays and lesbians, all the bile, all the filth, all the insults - you've heard it all before.

Yet, following quick in the footsteps of CNN and MSNBC and a number of other news outlets, Michael Signorile gave this uneducated, ignorant, lunatic gas bag thirty minutes of airtime. Worse, Signorile's interview technique, usually sharp, somehow crumbled as the segment turned into a shouting match. Signorile allowed this uneducated, ignorant, lunatic gas bag to totally own the period with one outrageous declaration after the next, including that he hoped Signorile died "of brain cancer just like Teddy Kennedy."

Signorile got nothing new or revealing or even particularly informative out of this interview.

The pastor, on other hand, got exactly what he wanted -- attention, airtime, a national platform from which to spout his ugly pronoucements, and this time the opportunity to spout it right in the faces of Signorile's audience. You can bet that he'll be bragging about that, and in Biblical language. He went into the lion's den and bearded the beast.

On the air with Signorile following the interview, I criticized Signorile for what I considered a dismal performance. Signorile response was that he was -exposing- this pastor, that homophobes like this pastor -need- to be exposed. But Signorile, in fact, failed to expose the man. He argued with him; he shouted back at him; the two of them got frankly hysterical with each other. But did Signorile in any way really -expose- the pastor? I think not.

Signorile failed to mention for his listeners that Anderson holds no divinity degree. He holds no degree of any kind. Further, Anderson has been ordained by no denomination. His "Baptist" church is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination. Anderson is a pastor simply because he's given himself the title. Still further, Signorile failed to mention that the so-called "church" of which Anderson claims to be pastor is, in fact, a dinky class-room sized, basement level storefront next to a pawn shop in a tiny strip mall with no more than a miniscule number of members, estimated generously to be 20-50 at most.

Signorile responded to me at one point, "Don't you think it would come across as elitist to point out that (Anderson) had no degree?"

Elitist? Well, no. In fact, I don't. Facts are not elitist. They're the facts.

Cockroaches like Anderson are fed and watered by the media, and Signorile unwisely served up a full course meal to a noisome insect. Anderson has no message at all unless he has a platform or a stage from which to deliver it. Signorile, along with CNN and MSNBC and other media outlets, are handing Anderson that stage. By feeding Anderson's manic need for attention, they encourage him to more and more outrageous actions. The media - and this includes Signorile - have to take at least a portion of responsibility for allowing this scripture-spewing fool, who believes God wants all men to pee standing up, to spread his hate and inspire his followers. Signorile has not exposed Steven L. Anderson. He has enabled him.

I enjoy Signorile's show on OutQ. In fact, it's just about the only program worth listening to on that network. But with all the important issues deserving attention in our community, a thirty minute hate-fest with another garden variety homophobic Christoid was a waste.


Steven L. Anderson, 29 -- Is this the face of an angel or a closet-case?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Michigan Boy Beaten for Being Gay



Steven Harmon, a fifteen year old boy who told his parents only weeks before that he was gay, was beaten on August 17 in the parking lot of Walnut Trails Apartments, where he lives.

While he was talking with a friend, two older boys, aged 15 and 16, approached and attacked Steven, calling him several gay slurs. Steven suffered a skull fracture, bruising and swelling, and a busted lip. One of the attackers, the sixteen year old, has already pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in September

The County Prosecutor originally stated that they would prosecute the assault as a hate-crime, however it turns out that Michigan has no hate-crime legislation. Steven's story has caught national attention, however, and a push is now on to change that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Congressman Cleaver & "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"



I had the honor of meeting Congressman Emanuel Cleaver this afternoon at the Broadway Cafe, a coffeeshop I often frequent. I sat at a table in the sun with my partner, Ron, reading the paper while Ron played with his new iphone. At a certain point, I looked up and noticed the congressman, along with three other suited figures, in deep conversation over coffee at a nearby table. Why we kept exchanging glances, I'm not sure, but he became aware of my presence, too. As Cleaver's other comrades got up to leave, Cleaver stopped at our table. He seemed in no particular hurry, either, as we proceeded to discuss the urgency of health care reform. Another coffee drinker rose to join the conversation, as well.

But health care was not the only issue on my agenda. I would have been remiss not to bring up at least one issue of relevance to my own community, and I reminded him as I sat there in a tee shirt with a rainbow logo on it that I'd appreciate his support for overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Cleaver then took time to explain his own strong desire to overturn that silly policy and pointed out that he was one of the co-signers of a June 22nd letter to President Obama urging the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Cleaver, a black minister, has long been one of the great civil rights pioneers. In him, the gay community has a strong friend. I was honored to meet him and impressed that he took as much time as he did to converse with us and respond to our questions in such a casual and unscripted environment.


Regards,
Storm

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And God said, "Let There Be Clowns."



PASTOR KENNETH WHALUMS, JR., THE MAN WHO WANTS TO BE MAYOR OF MEMPHIS, serves as pastor of the New Olivet Church, a place that, according to its website, offers "compassion and refuge, reaching out to a lost and hurting world." This would-be mayor apparently presides over a church with some apparently serious comical religious practices.

This past Sunday, August 24th, a pair of lesbians attended his church to learn more about his candidacy and the man who would be mayor. Monique Stevens and her partner Yas Meen, were asked to participate in a "Sanctified Dance," and lie down in the floor and "blow kisses to God." They declined.



Now, I confess I rather like the idea of a preacher standing at the pulpit wielding his Big Sword, who watches the women in his church thrashing on the floor, praying at the top of their lungs, throwing open their legs to the greater glory of God as they invite the Holy Spirit into their bodies. I can just see the men grinning and shouting and urging the women on. In fact, it would make a great comic scene in a pornographic novel or the next Eddie Murphy movie.

But I can also understand why a pair of lesbians might refuse to participate. So they were called names -- "demons!" and "devil worshipers!" and roughed up and shown the door by some of the clown-congregants. Stevens' glasses were broken, and both women suffered bruises and scratches. "I was there to support him as mayor," Meen says, "but if he going to act like that in church, how will he act in front of the citizens of Memphis?"

Hmmm, I rather imagine the entire city of Memphis on its back, all the citizens thrashing their arms and legs in the air, blowing kisses while Whalums gloats over them and waves his sword. It could be a tourist attraction!

Meanwhile, enjoy another photo of "Whalums the Barbarian."




Best,
Storm

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Gay Marriage" Ad Doesn't Mention "Gay."



GAY AND LESBIAN ADVOCATES AND DEFENDERS, EQUALITY MAINE, The MAINE CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION have beaten anti-gay marriage foes to the airwaves in that state by launching a sixty-second video. Is it a brilliant advertisement? Or an attempt to drive the real issue back out of sight and into the closet? I honestly can't make up my mind yet. The television spot does not mention the words "gay," "lesbian," or "homosexual" even once, nor does it mention "same-sex marriage." It does not even urge viewers to "Vote No on One."

If you watch closely, however, you'll see a selection of Maine families, some of which are apparently the families of gay-parent households. It's subtle. I had to watch it twice to pick up on the presence of the gay families. Will this subtlety prove effective? Will this ad in any way work to counter the inevitable outrageous charges that if gay marriage is allowed in the state homosexuality will be taught in the schools, Christian churches will be forced to perform ceremonies, and the bright blue sky above will fall down on everybody's heads? I don't know.

I do know that the anti-gay marriage group, STAND FOR MARRIAGE, with the help of the National Organization for Marriage, and various church groups, and the same forces that successfully passed Proposition 8 in California, has collected over 100,000 signatures -- more than twice the number necessary -- to put the issue on the ballot and repeal Maine's new gay marriage law. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has confirmed that the question will appear on petitions as follows:

"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

Like it or not, gay marriage supporters in Maine have a major fight on their hands, and they are not going to win it by playing nice and failing to meet the core issues and questions with head-on directness. Perhaps this is just an opening salvo. I can guarantee that STAND FOR MARRIAGE and the National Organization for Marriage will respond to this advertisement in short time, and they will not respond with kid gloves.

We must not lose this fight. What happens in Maine will affect the progress of gay marriage and civil union laws all over the country. If our rights can be stripped away by a public vote in California and then stripped away again by a public vote in Maine, our cause will be damaged immeasurably.

Gay marriage supporters in Maine face implacable foes with deep pockets. They can expect to be outspent by huge margins. With that in mind, if you have not yet sent a donation to EQUALITY MAINE, I urge you to do so. Visit their website at http://mainefreedomtomarry.com/ and click on the "donate" button. Give what you can. And take a STAND FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY.


Regards,
Storm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

COLTON FORD!



I'm a big fan of Colton Ford. Like a lot of other men, I've known of him primarily through his work in porn films, such as "Bearing Leather" and "Prowl 3: Genuine Leather." His career in porn, however, was relatively short. In the course of roughly ten months, he did ten films, won a "Grabby Award" and a "GAYVN Award" for his work, and then quit. I wasn't aware until very recently that before he entered teh world of porn, he was a musician, a singer and a songwriter, and it's to that career that he returned. He's produced two albums now, TUG OF WAR, which came out in June 2008, and UNDER THE COVERS, which should appear later this year. I'm posting a couple of examples of his work.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

OUTFEST! Kansas City Event - Upcoming!


The event formerly known as "Out in Westport" has changed its name and moved its location. I have totally enjoyed this event in the past, moreso than Kansas City's June gay pride event. Last year, instead of taking place on Westport Road, it moved to Gillham Park. The organizers have decided to return to the park this year. Bring your chair or blankets, a picnic basket, and enjoy the totally local entertainment, the vendors and the booths, and the great cameraderie. Here's the formal announcement.


OutFest Kansas City
Sunday
October 18, 2009
11:00 - 5:00
Gillham Park

Plan to attend the 15th annual community festival featuring the diversity of our community brought to you by the LGCCKC. The primary purpose of OutFest is to honor National Coming Out Month and underscore the value of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Greater Kansas City. This event also highlights the diversity of Westport and Greater Kansas City, demonstrates the importance of "gay" dollars to the local economy, and supports the LGBT community by providing cultural and organizational information to all attendees.

The next planning meeting for OutFest 2009 will be August 19 at 6 p.m. in the Community Center Meeting Room of the Spirit of Hope MCC. Please contact the event chair, David Whitner for details.

NEWS FROM THE LEATHER ARCHIVES

What's New at the Leather Archives & Museum
August 2009



LA&M initiates first visiting scholar program!



The Leather Archives & Museum [LA&M] announces the 2010 Visiting Scholar Program at the Leather Archives & Museum for the Spring or Summer 2010 academic terms. A stipend of $1,000 to $1,500 will be awarded to one recipient scholar to conduct research using the collections of the LA&M. The amount of the award will be dependent on the scope of the proposed project. A $500 travel allowance and weeknight accommodations will also be provided to the recipient.

Applications for the program must be postmarked by September 25th, 2009. For information on how to apply, please visit the program's website.




Leather History ... on the web

NEW on the LA&M website


A clip from "Tom's Men : One" in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Tom of Finland Foundation

Click here


LA&M Road Show hits the pavement and kicks into high gear!

08.14.09 - 08.16.09
WOOLF Leather Camp

08.21.09 - 08.23.09

Floating World
GLLA

09.04.09 - 09.06-09
Master slave Conference

10.23.09 - 10.25.09
Kinky Kollege

10.30.09 - 11.02.09
Black Rose

11.06.09 - 11.09.09
Philadelphia Leather Pride Night

11.27.09
The Leather Masked Ball



6418 N Greenview
Chicago, Illinois 60626

The Museum is open to visitors & researchers on:

Thursday from 11am - 7pm
Friday from 11am - 7pm
Saturday from 11am - 5pm
Sunday from 11am - 5pm



Leather Archives & Museum | 6418 N Greenview Ave | Chicago | IL | 60626

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HARVEY MILK RECEIVES PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!



Harvey Milk, slain San Francisco city supervisor and major gay rights pioneer, has just been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His presentation was one in a group of recipients that also included open lesbian tennis player Billie Jean King, civil rights champions Desmond Tutu and Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and Senator Ted Kennedy, among others.

I'm not writing this blog as a news item, but as an essay. The actual White House ceremony at which the medal presentations took place was ridiculously plain and over quickly. It was, however, covered live, and as I sat here watching, my heart swelled with pride when Harvey's name was called.

In the recent movie, MILK, there is a scene in which a young kid in the midland sits contemplating suicide, but then he hears about Harvey Milk's election and he hears Harvey Milk's message. That kid might have been me. At a point in my early teens, young, terrified, bullied and abused, steeped in a fundamentalist family yet knowing that I was gay, I went outside late one night, tied a rope to a tree limb and put a noose around my neck. My father saved me and later sawed that limb off. That was maybe the first act of love I ever recall from my father. I never said the word "gay" to him, and he never said it, either. But we both knew.

Sometime not very long after, I heard about Harvey Milk on the radio or television. I forget which. He was a small glimmer of hope, but San Francisco seemed a very long way away. No matter, through Harvey Milk I realized I was not alone, that there were other gay people in the world, and that there was a movement. I learned about Anita Bryant and her ridiculous "Save the Children" crusade. I was little more than a child, myself. Who was going to save me?

Harvey's message was "Come out," but coming out was hard in the midwest. Kansas City was not San Francisco. Still, I discovered a community here; I discovered the Phoenix Bookstore; somewhere along the line I discovered self-worth. I discovered something else, too. When I heard about Harvey Milk's murder and the subsequent exoneration of Dan White with the prepostrous "twinkie defense," I discovered anger.

Anger, properly channeled, is a powerful force. Every gay person in America should be angry. You can't live in a state of anger every minute of every day, but you can turn it on and let it out and let it motivate you when need arises. We let that anger out when we fought the Briggs amendment in California. We let that anger out when the government ignored the AIDS crisis. We let it out after the passage of Proposition 8 this past year and we channeled it to make our outrage heard. We used that anger to form powerful new coalitions and to revitalize our support groups.

Don't let go of your anger. Let it empower you. Let it motivate you. We can't all be activists all of the time, but we can all be activists some of the time. Maybe you can't march in the street, but perhaps you can write a check. Maybe you can write a letter to your representative. Just do something to stand up for yourself in the face of forces that would knock you back in the closet or worse. Do something to stand up for your community.

I've stood in the shop that used to be Harvey Milk's camera shop. I've stood on the sidewalk where he used to talk with customers for hours. Harvey's speechwriter, now my adoptive grandfather and mentor, has told me many tales, often with the glimmer of tears in his eyes.

Harvey's ghost is with us now as we fight for equal rights, as we fight to repeal DOMA, and as we fight for the right to marry. He's watching over us as we fight for ENDA and for an end to the bullying of gay children in schools. And he's at our sides as we continue to fight for an AIDS Cure.

And now Harvey's ghost is wearing the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Remember that. Remember it because "Medal of Freedom" takes on an entirely new meaning when freedom is something we don't yet have. You cannot be free until you are equal.


Regards,
Storm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

THE GREAT NATIONWIDE KISS-IN! -- Upcoming!




A FASCINATING AND FUN IDEA FROM www.greatnationwidekissin.com!

We are two bloggers - David Badash and David Mailloux - who believe that any person anywhere should be able to kiss whomever they want, whenever they want.

We both believe that there's not enough love and affection in the world, because most people are afraid to show it. We should never be afraid of brief, unimposing displays of affection. There is nothing wrong with a hug, a kiss on the mouth, a kiss on the cheek.

Together, with the help of Willow Witte and the national Join The Impact group, we are coordinating a nationwide event on August 15, 2009 at 2 p.m., EDT (or 11 a.m., PDT) It's called "The Great Nationwide Kiss-In" and you're invited - all of you! - to either plan a Kiss-In event in your city or town, or simply participate in an existing one.

Okay, you ask, but what does this mean? What is a Kiss-In?

Well, it's quite simple. On the suggested date and time, in a public place - whether it's a park or plaza or popular thoroughfare in your city or town - you'll bring your husband or wife or partner or boyfriend or girlfriend or good friend, and at 2 p.m., you'll kiss. It's one of the simplest things in the world to do!

Why, you ask? Why are you doing this?

After incidents in San Antonio, TX, El Paso, TX and Salt Lake City, UT - where different gay and lesbian couples were harassed or detained by law enforcement or other people for the simple act of kissing in a public place - we need to make a strong statement to everyone everywhere: kissing is not a bad thing, nor has it ever been. It's not vulgar or inappropriate. It's a sign of affection that is as old as time itself. And it's a beautiful thing that we share with our loved ones every single day.

The more cities with corresponding events, and the more people who participate in those events, the stronger the statement.

You can read more about why we've chosen to coordinate this, by reading our blog entries below:

David Badash: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/its-time-for-a-nationwide-kiss-in/discrimination/2009/07/13/4150

David Mailloux: http://dym-sum.com/2009/07/13/no203/

If you're interested in organizing a Great Nationwide Kiss-In event, and your city or town is not listed below, please send us a message at GreatNationwideKissIn@gmail.com. We'll make sure you get all the information you need to get started as soon as possible. If your city or town is already listed, we'll set you up with organizers so you can give them a hand.

If you're interested in participating in a Kiss-In event (remember, ALL are welcome to attend and participate, regardless of sexual orientation, or gender identity), then look at the list below to see if an event is being planned near you.

SPECIAL NOTE: To ensure the idea and ideals of The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, a celebration and an affirmation of equality, are respected, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In is © 2009. It is imperative that you contact us if you plan to organize a Kiss-In event on August 15, or we cannot confirm your affiliation with us. Thank you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mr. Bootleggers Contest - Upcoming!


And while I'm making announcements of leather events, don't forget Kansas City's premiere leather competition for the Mr. Bootleggers title. The event will be held September 18-20, at the Bootleggers bar in the Missy B's Complex on 39th Street. Mr. Bootleggers is a feeder contest to the annual International Mr. Leather contest each Memorial Weekend in Chicago.

I note that the website for Heart of American Leather Productions, which normally produces the competition, is down, so for the moment if you want more information about attending or taking part in the competition, I recommend contacting Missy B's through its website or directly by phone. I'll also provide more information as I receive it.

It would be nice to see more than one or two contestants for this event.

Leather Camp V - Upcoming!




It's getting close to time for LEATHER CAMP V, sponsored by the Wichita Organization Of Leather Fetishists. The date is August 14-16, 2009, and that's very close, indeed. The weekend will feature numerous seminars and classes with a variety of presenters. Sessions include "Whole Body S&M," "Branding," and "The Fetish of Cigars."

Additionally, two separate leather title contests will be held during the weekend. These include the Central Plains Leather Sir, Leatherboy, and Central Plains Bootblack competitions. This contest is a regional title and open to residents of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

WOOLF also sponsors the Kansas Boy and Kansas Girl contests, which are open only to Kansas residents.

Tom Stice will serve as emcee for the weekend.

For more information or to register, visit www.wichitaleatherpride.com

Thursday, July 30, 2009

WORDS TO LIVE BY



I don't know yet who said this, but it's too wonderful not to preserve and share:


All the works of science cannot equal the wisdom and
ignorant scribblings of desert wandering iron age animal
sacrificing genocidal bigots who believed every animal
species in the world lived within walking distance of
Noah’s house.



Best,
Storm

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our REAL "Fierce Advocate" -- It's Not Barack Obama!



Julian Bond, president of the NAACP, speaks passionately about gay marriage rights.

I am tremendously moved by this speech from Julian Bond, one of the great civil rights pioneers of our time. If anyone, black or white, yellow, red, green or blue, thinks that gay rights are not civil rights, let Julian Bond set them straight on that matter.

Barack Obama, who has claimed to be a "fierce advocate" for our rights and our causes, needs to take a lesson from a true civil rights leader.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Hate-Folks at AFA Don't Like Us! Waaaaugh!



SPEECHLESS! SILENCING THE CHRISTIANS.

Another load of bullshit from the twisted fucks at the so-called "American Family Association." Narrated by conservative Christian talk show host Janet Parshall, Silencing the Christians promises to "reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom." The film criticizes efforts to allow gay people to serve in the military, to teach school children that homosexuality is acceptable and to pass laws preventing employers from discriminating against gay people.

This clip is just the first part of this one-hour hate screed, which AFA has paid a handful of television stations to air. If you're interested in the rest, it's available in seven parts on YouTube.com.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

THE FACE OF A HOMOPHOBIC KILLER




"GAY PANIC DEFENSE" STILL WORKS!

Joseph Biedermann, a 30-year old Chicago man with a previous history of trouble and violence, has been acquitted of murdering his neighbor, Terrance Hauser, 38. Beidermannn, who claimed that Hauser tried to rape him, stabbed Hauser with a seven-inch dagger 61 times. A jury of 12 no-doubt straight people found Biedermann not guilty of first-degree murder on Friday.

Joseph Biedermann claimed that he and Hauser had both gone to a bar and gotten drunk. Biedermann then went home with Hauser and passed out on the couch. He claimed that he woke up to find Hauser, who he said was armed with a sword and a dagger, attempting to rape him. He wrestled with Hauser and got control of the knife, he said.

According to an NPR report, Beidermann then made his way home. His girlfriend insisted he shower to wash away the blood while she took care of his clothes. When police investigated, they reported no sign of any struggle at all in Terrance Hauser's home.

Now, setting aside any attempts at reportage, let's just call this what it is - and that is homophobic BULLSHIT. I don't use the word "homophobic" often, but nothing else can rationally explain the jury's decision. Stabbed sixty-one times? That's not self-defense -- that's butchery. This verdict shames the jury, the Cook County Court System, and all of Chicago.

I don't even care that this pathetic cockroach was defended by Sam Adam Jr., the same attorney who defended R&B singer R. Kelly against child pornography charges or that he's currently defending Rod Blagovitch against coruption charges. What was this ignorant JURY thinking?

Stabbed sixty-one times.

Found innocent.

Stabbed sixty-one times.

Found innocent.

By a jury of Beidermann's peers, maybe. Not by a jury of our peers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

MORE NEWS FROM THE RAINBOW LOUNGE RAID

Chad Gibson, the young man injured during the raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, is out of the hospital and speaking out. Watch part of his interview with Fort Worth's Channel 8 News.

In further developments, the TABC has admitted that Gibson's injuries occurred "while Gibson was in custody," that is, while he was already handcuffed. Bot the TABC and the Fort Worth Police Departments are conducting Internal Investigations. The mayor of Fort Worth has asked the Federal Justice Department to monitor those investigations, as well.


View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.