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.


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."


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 and click on the "donate" button. Give what you can. And take a STAND FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


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
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.


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

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

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, 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.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009



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:

David Mailloux:

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 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