Grok These, Please: Queer Slam Poems and Creative Poetry Videos

 

Praising and Raising our Work: On Mindshare and Memory

Riveting. Emo. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Heart-opening. Poetry heals, helps and heartens all who encounter its majesty, power, artistry.

When a poem is passed from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, the bearer and the receiver are forever changed.

Writer Neil Hilborn’s touching performance in his slam poem “OCD” has recently gone viral, bringing to mind the many LGBTQIA poets and creatives in our midst with their own stories of love and life.

Slam poems and artistic poetry performance videos dovetail so nicely into the framework of social media, aka “Short Attention Span Theater.” All the while, the popularity of such creatives and their efforts debunk the myth that we’re all becoming bots, drones and distracted Internet denizens who can do nothing but lower the bar when it comes to being entertained. As we praise the art, we raise the art.

Queerly Speaking: Queerious Poems & Artistic Feats

There are many queer artists of late who’ve come to shine brightly, find their audiences and clock hundreds of thousands of views for sharing their feelings, style, art, writing and messages in video form—and thank goodness for them. With each new word experienced, we’re reminded to walk through this life: chin up, spirits high, feet facing forward.

Women of the World Poetry Slam winner Denice Frohman’s “Dear Straight People” video is one of the many gorgeous works capturing our imaginations. Garnering clicks, attention, ongoing #lolz and serious praise, Frohman’s hard-hitting truths hammer out insightful words of witticism and encourage laughs of recognition. Here are but a few gems encapsulated in a handful of minutes:

“Sexuality and gender…? Two different things. Combined in many different ways. If you mismatch your socks, you understand.”

“Dear Hip Hop: why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers? Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.”

“Dear straight bullies, you’re right: we don’t have the same values. You kill everything that’s different. I preserve it.”

Words cascade like waterfalls. Prosaic glitter and poetic license, new beats and audio treats make their way towards all who have ears to hear, fingers to snap, hands to clap, and believing hearts to respond.

Visit the links below to watch these and so much more: it’s compelling, queer-powered poetry in motion.

Denice Frohman

“Dear Straight People” (WOWPS 2013)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5frn8TAlew0#t=154

Xavier

“Invisible”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Weo5EQyqxnM

Tanya Davis

“How to Be Alone”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CchQgz7Fpg

“Art”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDDWbjTKh2w

Shane Koyczan

“Pork Chop” from the To This Day Project

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY

Shanita Jackson and Dakota Oder 

“Civil Rights”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcdONSoq7EQ

Noah St. John 

“Noah St. John Performs at Queeriosity 2010”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02ucYu8MBtc

Stayceyann Chin

“Feminist or a Womanist”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQOmyebFVV8

Andrea Gibson

The Jewelry Store

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C-dPyu8_iI

~

To watch all of these videos as a playlist, please click the link below.

 

Mindshare & Memory: Slam Poems & Creative Poetry Videos

 

Disgraced Bob Filner Leaving Mayor’s Office

Openly Gay Interim Mayor Todd Gloria Takes Reins

Todd Gloria, the President of the 9-Member City Council, will replace the resigning groping Bob Filner until an election can be held. Gloria, age 35, will take over on August 30th. Gloria has not confirmed that he will be running for the permanent job in ninety days, but during his mayoral job, he will no longer act as chairman of the council meetings nor be allowed to veto City Council actions. Councilwoman Sherri Lightner will run City Council meetings while Gloria serves as Mayor.

Elected to the council in 2008, Gloria was re-elected last year. At the start of his second term, Gloria was unanimously elected council president. Democrat Gloria, a graduate of the University of San Diego, represents District 3 which includes the city’s popular gay neighborhood of Hillcrest where he lives.

Replay of 2005

In similar circumstances, Toni Atkins, also openly gay, in 2005, became Mayor of San Diego for four months after Mayor Dick Murphy and Acting Mayor Michael Zucchet resigned. Mayor Filner was forced to resign on August 24 as part of a mediation agreement met in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide, Irene McCormack Jackson. Eighteen women have made sexual harassment allegations against Filner.

Mediation Deal Made With Filner

The Council last Friday voted, 7-0 to accept a mediation deal that included a swap: Filner resigns and the city will allocate $98,000 for his private lawyers in the sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner and the city. The city would pay his share of any damages awarded in court or in a pretrial settlement. The city, in the form of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, and Gloria, spent three days in negotiations with Filner.

In the fall elections, Gloria endorsed Filner, but Filner, combative, criticized not only Gloria, but also Jan Goldsmith, accusing her of being unprofessional and bringing high-profile misdemeanor prosecutions from her office.

Filner, who had served in Congress for ten terms, the San Diego school board, city council, complained that the council “strong-armed” by refusing to pay for his legal defense unless he resigned.”

Gloria’s Plans

Said Gloria, a former member of the San Diego Housing Commission and former chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, “we have lost ground over the past few months. As of today, we are done losing ground. San Diego is back.”

At a news conference, Gloria said “over the next few months, until an election can be conducted, I’ll be working together with the council and the city’s executive team to establish priorities for the concerns addressing our city.”

Gloria is having a ‘top down review’ of all city departments, ‘swift action’ on items that sat inoperative on Filner’s desk for months, and weekly media briefings to assure transparency and accountability. He said that there would be some staffing changes and that a backlog of public record requests would be administered.

“We must communicate, said the acting Mayor, “that we are making every effort possible to correct our problems and that nothing less will be acceptable. Our objective is to provide our citizens with a fully functioning city government with ethics, integrity, and transparency.”

The Gay Divorcee, No, not the 1934 Astaire-Rogers Movie

Statistics from The Williams Institute

One of my favorite comediennes and television stars lesbian Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester, the caustic cheerleading coach on the popular GLEE television show, filed for divorce on July 13, 2013. Lynch, who has won Emmy, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice Awards, married in May 2010 psychologist Lara Embry who has a child. A wonderful actress, Lynch has had several recurring guest roles as Charlie Harper’s psychologist in Two and a Half Men. She played a lesbian in the hilarious mockdocumentary “Best in Show” as well as in the “L” Word.”

How Many Other LGBTS Are Getting Divorced?

With gay marriage is so much in the news, especially since the June Supreme Court ruling last June, you wonder how many average Joes and Janes have filed for divorce? To find out, I turned to a reliable source: The Williams Institute, a gay-legal think tank located at UCLA – Los Angeles Study of Divorce and Marriage Rates for Same-Sex Couples.

Williams Institute Findings on Divorce
Although the study by M.V. Lee Badgett and Jody L. Herman is dated almost two years ago when same-sex marriage was legalized in only six states (as opposed to thirteen plus the District of Columbia currently), the authors found that:

• The data shows that same-sex couples marry at much higher rates than they enter civil unions or other legal statuses.
• When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60% of those who marry come from other states.
• The divorce rate for same-sex couples in legal unions is about 1.1 percent as opposed to 2% of married different-sex couples divorce.
Researchers concluded that the lower divorce rate may be owing to the fact that gay couples tend to have been together for longer periods of time, and have “weathered the stormy middle years of coupledom.” The LGBT persons have consciously committed to being a family, according to Badgett and Herman, lawyers.

Limited Data Available

As gay marriage is so new, and not every state has legalized same-sex marriage, it is difficult to gather statistics. The Massachusetts Health Department, says “there is no gender field on a divorce certificate in Massachusetts,” the first state to legal gay marriage. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate at 2.2 per 1,000 married couples. Generally, the divorce rate is 20% lower in states where gay marriage is legal. In Nevada, where gay marriage is not legal, the divorce rate is the highest.

“It’s Complicated”

According to Susan Somer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal which litigates on behalf of gay rights, most states won’t grant divorces for same-sex unions formed in other states. It gets exceedingly complicated if, for example, a same-sex couple moved to a new state, splits, can’t get a divorce, and one of the partners wants to re-marry someone of the opposite sex in a new state.

While no one wants to walk down the aisle with divorce in mind, attorneys say the smartest thing is to plan for a possible divorce in the state in which you live.

Monument for Gays Persecuted by Nazis Planned in Tel Aviv

Symbolic Pink Triangle in Meier Park Planned

Israel’s first monument to homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis will be erected later this year near the headquarters of the Gay Center in Tel Aviv. There is a concrete triangle containing a pink triangle, the symbol used by the Nazis to mark homosexuals. A plaque beside the monument and a bench will give information about the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. The memorial will be inscribed as such: “To the memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual preference and gender identity.”

Park Setting

The monument, erected in central Tel Aviv’s Meir Park, said attorney Eran Lev, the ‘brains’ behind the project,” is highly significant. One of the first restrictions the Nazis imposed on the Jews was against going to public parks. We’re bringing that memory back into the public space. It’s very moving, We felt it was important to present it as part of the park.” It will be guarded all the time.

Professor Yael Moriah, a landscape architect, is responsible for the park’s renovation over the past years, is in charge of the planning. Lev, a member of the municipal council from the Meretz party, received support from Mayor Ron Huldai.

References Hirschfeld and Beck

The only homosexuals who will not be mentioned on the new memorial are those who are members of the Nazi party. Although the monument is universal, and does not distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Nazi regime, it will also contain a reference to Jewish gays, including Magnus Hirschfeld, a prominent doctor and advocate for sexual minorities as well as Gerhard Beck, the last gay Holocaust survivor who died in 2012.

Even After Camps, Returned to Prison

Similar monuments to the gay victims of the Nazis have been built in Sydney, San Francisco, Cologne, Montevideo, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin. Most of them contain the triangle. It is unknown how many closeted gay men were sent to concentrated camps under other pretexts. Following the WWII, many men who had been imprisoned for their sexuality by the Nazis were returned into the German prison system under the Allied government and they were denied the compensation pay outs given to other groups of victims.

Paragraph 175
In fact, Paragraph 175 of the Nazi penal code, which made gay sex a crime, remained on the books until after WWII. The law was finally repealed in 1969 (the pink triangle was not displayed at Dachau until forty years after the camp was liberated!).

Lesbians

Approximately 50,000 gay men were convicted under Paragraph 175. Between 7,000 and 10,000 were murdered in the camps. Historian Moshe Zimmermann, pointed out that “the persecution of lesbians was often concealed using other pretexts. They were considered “asocials,’ a group that included unemployed people and alcoholics.”

Lowest Regard by All

“The numbers aren’t official,” states Zimmermann, “as for the Jews and Gypsies, but the deportation of 15,000 people to the concentration camps for homosexuality was a deliberate act of persecution.”
The “homosexuals” were regarded as the lowest of the low, even by the other inmates, prisoners, and guards. They were often subjected to the most grueling labor.

Movie Industry Lags Behind TV in LGBT Roles

GLAAD Faults Hollywood Studios

Media watchdog group GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) criticizes Hollywood in its first substantial study of releases from the major film studios. Called “2013 Studio Responsibility Index,” the study found that of 101 films from the six major studios in 2012, only fourteen included characters who were identified as LGB, and none were transgender.
GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz found that as opposed to movies, television has become increasingly inclusive , including a record high percentage of LGBT characters in the 2012-2013 broadcast season. Says Cruz, “as a major influence in American culture and one of our nation’s largest media exports abroad, the lack of LGBT characters in big-budget films needs to change. Until LGBT characters are depicted in these films in a substantial way with more regularity, there will remain the appearance of LGBT bias on the studio’s part. Whether it’s an action hero or a supporting character, moviegoers should be able to see LGBT people as integral players in the stories told by leading Hollywood studios.” Although this year’s hit, Skyfall, had a bisexual main character, Javier Bardem, he was portrayed as devious and villainous.

Cruz’s organization plans to meet with the major studios about the absence of LGBT characters. Just two decades ago, there were more films, 48 with significant LGBT characters, that grossed over $1 million dollars at the box office.

Conclusions of the Study

The study also found that:
• 56% of those inclusive films featured gay male characters, 33% featured lesbian characters, and 11% contained bisexual characters.
• Of the 31 different characters counted: 26 were white, four were Black/African-American, and one was Latino. There were no Asian-Pacific Islander or recognizably multi-racial characters counted.
• There were more LGBT characters in 2012 releases in comedies. 34 genre films (action, sci-fi, fantasy) made up the majority of the 2012 releases, though only three of those included any LGBT characters. Only one of 21 dramas and one of four documentaries were inclusive.

Report Card for the Studios

The criteria to measure the quality of the LGBT roles was whether a character was identifiably LGBT: whether it was not solely or predominantly defined by its sexual orientation or gender identity, and whether it was tied into the plot in such a way that its removal would have significant effect.
Cruz uses the animated family film “ParaNorman” as a good example of an LGBT-inclusive film in 2012.

The six studios were rated by the SRI and their grades are as follows:
• 20th Century Fox and Disney received failing grades.
• Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. got “adequate” grades.

Other Tests to Pass

Before the SRI Index, there was the Bechdel Test to ascertain if a movie properly represented female characters. A Bechdel-inspired set of criteria developed into the Russo Test, named for GLAAD co-founder and film historian Vito Russo. Less than half of the films of 2012 passed the Russo Test.

Criteria for Vito Russo Test
• The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.
• That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters).
• The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect.
• Only 6 of the 14 studio films featuring LGB characters actually passed the Vito Russo Test, including Cloud Atlas, Pitch Perfect, Rock of Ages and The Five Year Engagement.

“One of Us?” Not As Much…On Fatboy Slim’s Queer Behavior

“The most ironic thing is that most of what we do was invented by black, gay Americans in the first place.”

– Fatboy Slim, on EDM / House Music

Fatboy Slim: Queer…or Just European?

Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) is not one to dither around or dilly-dally when it comes to sonic expansiveness and creative perception. While serving as producer, writer or DJ, Fatboy “Jack-of-All-Genres” Slim happily bounces from genre to genre to suit each new mood, project or opportunity. His range of landscapes at-play include Independent Pop, British Hip Hop and House, Big Beat and Dance music, naturally.

Born Quentin Cook, this UK underground boy gone massive came from punk rock beginnings and scruffy indie aesthetics before heading away to college in Brighton, then segueing into club and DJ culture.

Cook enjoyed a brief stint as the bassist for UK alt-pop outfit The Housemartins and experienced his first dash of fame during the band’s “Happy Hour” phase. Soon enough, Cook worked his way back to clubbing and DJ’ing, finally gaining a critical mass of attention and fans with his production and mashup skills, and eventually coming into his own with the fame and success of the hypnotic tracks “Praise You” and “The Rockafeller Skank.”

Some lads hear it more than others, but the “Is He Gay or Just European?” trope prevails in a culture where a metrosexual is a term the British media coined to describe a distinctly European look, sensibility and sexual fluidity (often but not always attached to disposable income and class). Such themes include but are not limited to: effeminate fashion, unisex/asexual presentation and (ahem) sexual experimentation or fluidity. The fact that all metrosexual men are “straight” is of course hogwash. Too–more and more, youth culture refuses to “pick a team” or define themselves by any label whatsoever.

So now, we have the news that Fatboy Slim is a regular Pride entertainer, a staunch LGBTQ advocate, and has ‘experimented with’ men sexually.

If you’d hear it from Cook himself, it’s N.B.D., but perhaps of some interest: back in 2004, Fatboy Slim told the press, “Well, everyone’s had one try-out experience, haven’t they?”

On his relationship with wife Zoe Bell, Fatboy Slim went on, “Me and Zoe have always been convinced [our son is] gay anyway.”

The fact that such goings on were mostly laughed off and minimized typifies the sexual fluidity that is our shared human experience. In less of a “bi-chic” moment and more of a “yeah, that happened” moment, Cook’s language wasn’t quite politically correct but his sentiment speaks to a nonchalance that reveals how natural and fluid sexuality is.

Is this something we can or should ignore?

Being that Fatboy Slim’s son’s still of a tender age, Cook may be keeping laser-point specifics of his son’s life private and deflecting the concept of queering personal life or relationships. However last year, Cook told Pink News UK his that supporting equal marriage is a ‘no brainer’ and revealed, “I talk about the issue with my son.”

Cook, who’s done much education and advocacy work for local young artists in his hometown, once performed at the Terrace Bar of the House of Commons to support even more community-based music initiatives for youth. By having done so, could he be, however subconsciously, helping to open the minds of UK lawmakers to queer culture, sexually fluid living and LGBTQ art and iconography?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, are Fatboy Slim’s remarks about his own ‘sexual experimentation’ dismissive…or “normal?”

In essence, you cannot un-queer yourself, culturally or sexually. What’s definitive here is that Cook is decidedly an ally. And for the time being, the rest is none of our “B.I.-IZ-NESS.”

Have a nosh on the concept while you nod your head to Fatboy Slim’s video, “Weapon of Choice” feat. Christopher Walken.  (Yes, Hunty’s: come back and share your thoughts with us after the jump-off.)

 

 

Gay Activist & Writer Larry Kramer Weds

Marries Long-time Partner Architect David Webster

Larry Kramer has always done things his way.  While many people would shop for the perfect venue for their wedding and the perfect outfit to wear, Larry, on July 24, 2013, married David Webster his long-time partner in the ICU unit at NYU’s Langone’s Medical Center.  Wearing a hospital gown and recovering from a surgery performed on July 21, owing to a bowel obstruction, Kramer and husband Webster, an architect and designer, were married by Judge Eve Preminger in a noon ceremony. Twenty friends and relatives attended the unscripted vows that included an exchange of Cartier rings. The groom, Kramer, was not able to make his own reception afterward at Riverpark. ”We’ll have a party once he’s out of the hospital,” said Webster, 67, who met Kramer in the 1970’s.

The couple had planned to be married on their Greenwich Village terrace of their apartment (they also have a Connecticut home that Webster has renovated) a few weeks earlier before Kramer’s health flared up while Webster was on a trip. Kramer, for a long time, was critical of state laws permitting what he called “feel good” marriages for gays without federal benefits. Once the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in states where same-sex marriage is legal, Kramer decided it was time to marry his partner of over twenty years.

A Lifetime Spent in Opposition

Larry Kramer now seventy-eight, attended Yale University where The Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies is now named in his honor.  After the Centers for Disease Control declared that a “gay” cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, was affecting young gay men in New York and San Francisco in 1981, Kramer founded, along with others, in 1982, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York City-based non-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based AIDS Service organization still active. It was the first and largest advocacy and protest organization.

Once called “the angriest man in America,” Kramer resigned in 1983 to form the more militant ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in 1987 when the AIDS crisis was in full bloom.  New York’s and President Reagan’s Administrations were not responding quickly enough to the tragedy – the thousands of lives that were lost.

Kramer’s play, “The Normal Heart,” dealt about this 1980’s plague and had more than 600 productions.  Revived in 2011, the same year that New York legalized same-sex marriage, it was a roman a clef about his involvement with Act Up.  Winning a Tony for best play revival, I happened to see the riveting drama after which Kramer was handing out fact sheets about HIV and AIDS at the theatre exits.  He’s never lost his chutzpah nor energy for which he received a Special Tony for humanitarian service in June.

 

 

 

Log In, Get Off, Tax Write Off? Charitable Pornography Making A Stand

With vision and the internet, you can basically do anything anymore. Two organizations are showing how that is possible using the pornography industry to raise money for different types of charities. I’ll let you read that again if it seems surprising.

A newly-launched all-male porn studio—Boys Town Studios—will be releasing videos and donating all profits to the lgbt community to support gay rights.

Mike Kulich, owner of Monarchy Distribution, says that in order to benefit from the charity, “Anyone will be able to write Boys Town Studios and tell their stories about how bigotry and homophobia has affected their lives, and we will step in to help those victims as much as we can.” The first video’s profits will go toward helping queer Russian refugees because of everything happening to the lgbt community in Russia.

The first film to be released is entitled Deep In The Dark sometime in October, and the studio is planning to release at least two films per month, including branching into genres like twinks, bears, s&m, and other fetishes. Kulich’s reasons for launching the not-for-profit porn studio is because he wants “to help the people suffering all over the world and living in persecuting countries using the best way I know how: making quality porn.”

Not only will the studio have videos, they’ll also be branching out into other markets. As Kulich explained, “100 percent of the profits from all these movies, including DVD sales, video-on-demand, cable and broadcast will be donated to our newly created non-profit.” Monarchy Distribution is the parent company for the new studio and primarily handles straight titles, so it should be able to give a quality backing for everything Boys Town Studios creates.

Another creative solution to issues facing queer people worldwide comes in the form of something you can not only buy, but actually participate in.

Michael Wondercub has created a Rockethub, a “crowdfunding machine” similar to Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, for his brainchild “Benevidz—Sex for Charity” project. The website is made up of webcam models who perform for money, and then can donate between 10 and 15 percent of what they make during their time online to a specific charity, of which the site has six so far willing to accept donated money from sex workers.

The Rockethub announcement describes the idea stemming from Wondercub’s past, and why charities he has lined up include aiding victims of domestic abuse and cancer research. He also got the idea for cams for charity from his college days, when according to an interview with The Huffington Post he raised money for college masturbating online and felt empowered by it.

Benevidz.com will have male, female, and trans performers; gay, straight, old, and young (over 18 of course), and work to appeal to a large range of people. Wondercub hopes that if he can tap into just a tiny percentage of the adult entertainment industry, he could donate more than $1 million to charities in all of his causes, which his video speaks a lot to.

Wondercub is looking to raise $15,000 for overhead costs associated with starting up the website in order to more quickly be able to donate money toward his causes. He’s hoping that you’ll be able to give you a helping hand so he can give you one back when his website goes live. You can also sign up to be part of the action and star in your own show.

Maybe the world of pornography is changing, or maybe porn studios are hoping people will pay for pornography based on moral grounds. If both endeavors are successful, it sounds like they’ll be doing good things for everyone involved, so be on the lookout for some new things.

Remember The Alamo, And How It’s A Little Bit Homophobic

Planning a trip to the Alamo anytime soon? Nationwide, people are remembering the city where it’s near but not for positive reasons.

LGBT grassroots social justice organization GetEQUAL Texas recently issued a travel advisory warning for queer people wanting to visit San Antonio. In its official statement, the advisory includes a warning that, “The city of San Antonio does not currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (“LGBT”) people from being legally ejected from their hotel rooms or other places of public accommodation.”

The reason is twofold. The first came after attendees at a city council meeting on August 16th booed a gay marine for advocating for a non-discrimination ordinance that is in front of its council for consideration.

Eric Alva, a gay Marine and a Purple Heart recipient who lost his leg during combat in the Iraq War, spoke in front of the San Antonio council that Friday. He testified that the seventh largest city in the U.S. was the only major city in Texas and the country without a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in city employment, public accommodations, housing, city contractors, and appointments to boards and commissions. An audience of around 300 people booed and hissed Alva after he said, “Without this ordinance I can be denied from applying for a job or thrown out of an establishment, regardless of if I’m a purple heart recipient or a wounded warrior.”

Alva was shocked and upset at the reaction of the crowd. Opponents to the ordinance demonstrated outside of the city hall before the measure, riled up after radio talk shows and webpages claimed that the ordinance would be used to discriminate against Christians who opposed same-sex unions and homosexuality on religious reasons. After the crowd’s negative reaction, he exclaimed, “To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me!”

The second reason comes from secretly recorded anti-lgbt comments made by San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan released just after the meeting.

In a May 21 meeting, a former aide to the councilwoman recorded a conversation of Chan where she called homosexuals “disgusting” and said they shouldn’t be able to adopt children. Chan has made her views clear from the start that the recording was an infringement of her First Amendment rights, that the meeting was closed-door and meant for freedom of expression, but that hasn’t alleviated peoples’ concerns of the city or its reactions to lgbt issues.

Alva and others have disagreed with the travel warning, saying that the city as a whole is welcoming to lgbt individuals and that it is a safe place. Mayor Julián Castro said that, “This advisory unnecessarily stands to hurt the city. The fact is that San Antonio always has been and remains welcoming to all.” Some say that the alert doesn’t mean much, that visitors will still go to the city and it won’t affect their travel plans. Supporters of the alert cite discrimination at the hands of the city council and their unwillingness to meet with lgbt groups and talk about political issues.

The city’s non-discrimination ordinance will be put to a vote September 5th, and the travel alert will expire September 6th, although GetEQUAL Texas assures that it could be extended.

As long as you avoid angry-looking conservative Christians and aren’t someone who’s sacrificed body parts for the freedom of this country, you’ll be more than fine on a romantic vacation to the Alamo.

“Moscow Is Not Sodom:” Valeriya, Russia’s Madonna, Worries About Gay Propaganda

| “ RT @BBCNewsnight: Russian Singer Valeriya Perfilova says she worries about..influence of ‘gay propaganda’ on her children #newsnight ” |

Don’t Tell Me.” I Won’t Ask You.

Gay? Out? Don’t tell Valeriya about it. The living, thriving spirit of Pussy Riot continues to push the dialogue forward and keep LGBTQIA rights, allies’ rights and progressive activism in the planet’s consciousness.

In what’s being called a new gay holocaust, Russia’s resurgence of anti-gay sentiment (including myriad anti-gay/anti-ally/anti-activism laws) continues to change hands and to be bandied about by various talking heads. The revolving door of anti-gay rhetoric moves from the streets to the legislature to celebrity mouthpieces and back again.

One of the more prominent voices fearful of “gay propaganda” is Valeriya Perfilova, considered by many to be Russia’s version of Madonna. The singer directly benefits from (but does not publicly acknowledge) the love of her LGBTQ fans.

 

Using the Word “Propaganda” As Propaganda

Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Perfilova is mainly known by her one-name moniker (see: Cher, Madonna) Valeriya. In her press materials, she appropriates much of Madonna’s heat, style and vibe—but somehow, she manages to kick the gay-friendly part of Madonnaisms to the curb. This is particularly unfortunate, as the singer’s a domestic abuse survivor and her body of work does much to buoy the spirits of female abuse survivors (all the while redirecting abusive behaviors toward another culture).

In a June 2013 broadcast with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Russian gay activist Anton Krasovsky, Valeriya championed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-esque” viewpoint, towing the party line that LGBTQ persons should not be seen or heard as such.

Regarding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, Valeriya began:

“It was funny to me, because it’s nothing to do with politics. Being the mother of three children, I approve this [anti-gay] bill… I don’t want to meddle with other people’s lives. I don’t care what they do behind their doors. But I do care about my children’s bringing up [i.e. upbringing]…. The vast majority of people in Russia, 88 percent of people, support the ban of homosexuality propaganda. That’s a fact. And this bill responds to people’s demand. That’s all.”

 

L.W.Q: Living While Queer & Beingness As Illegal

Here’s a bit of a backgrounder: in January of this year, former Russian TV journalist and presenter Anton Krasovsky came out on Russian television and was fired immediately thereafter.

Now, back to Newsnight—during the BBC television broadcast, Krasovsky brought forth the idea—and his lived experience—that essentially now in Russia, it’s illegal to be gay.

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Krasovsky couldn’t hold back the irony of the situation:

“I’m glad that that situation is funny for Valeriya,” he responded. “But it’s not fun for me. I think it’s against me. Against my family. Against all gay people in Russia…. From today, I cannot say that I’m gay and I’m the same human being…like all of you. From today, I’ll have to pay for this. From a hundred to two-thousand pounds. Because these words could be taken as propaganda.”

The beingness of gay life, being LGBTQ, being a questioning soul, being LGBTQ and out, or even advocating for those who are—in Krasovsky’s experience and in his own words, now this is a crime in and of itself, no matter what one does or does not do. It’s about the beingness now. Beyond being a thought-crime, this is L.W.Q. “living while queer.”

Illegal.

 

Some of My Best Friends Are Gay…

Ironies continue to prevail. In 2008, Valeriya became a goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency to combat human trafficking. She’s been bequeathed with honors and endorsement deals from Avon, from a custom perfumier, from MuzTV and MTV Russia. She was awarded the title of “Honoured Artiste of Russia” by Putin, and has been cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most highly-paid people in movie, sport, literature and music.

All this to say her platform and audience is immense, and the Russian government is using her star power to their full advantage.

During Newsnight Valeriya continued, “I have a lot of friends who belong to gay society, and they do not support their unisexual marriages. They would never take part in gay parades. They’re just normal people. They do their business…. are still working on TV, the media. I don’t know why it happened to you [Anton].”

But of course, the “friends” are not out—or as Anton Krasovsky put it, they are not “open gays.”

To watch the full video, visit the YouTube link below.

BBC News – What gay ‘propaganda’ vote tells us about Russia Today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KfROu8AaU

Connect with Anton Krasovsky at @krasovkin and share your thoughts with BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight.