World AIDS Day

In the summer of 1981 I was going to school at Santa Rosa Junior College.  I had a job as a lab assistant in the Electronics department.  I was putting together an inventory on one of the S100 predecessors to the PC. It has an Intel 8080 processor and something like 32k of memory.  It ran Isis a predecessor to C/PM and had something like Notepad as a word processor.

I was living in Cotati, some 10 miles south of Santa Rosa.

I had a girl friend who lived in the Mission district of San Francisco on Delores St across from the park. She had a Honda Hawk motorcycle and beautiful full back Japanese style tattoo of a golden carp swimming upstream.

I would go to the city on the weekends, escape there really.

She and her roommate lived upstairs from a gay male couple in their early thirties.  In the early summer one of them became very ill.  His illness worsened rapidly and he was dead a little over a month later.

My girl friend’s former lover had gone through the Stanford Program a few months before I had. She was an IV drug user.  She was also sick that summer.

At first it was a mystery illness.  The BAR and other gay newspapers were calling it “The Gay Cancer.”

By Christmas it had picked up the label of GRID, or Gay Related Immune Deficiency.

Suddenly it was all over the world.  It wasn’t just a few hard partying gay men in the Castro, West Hollywood and Chelsea who were dying.  It was also Haitians and straight IV drug users.

I moved to the Silicon Valley and started working for a hard drive and net working company.  By that point I had broken up with my girl friend but was hanging out in the city and going to punk concerts with a gay male friend.

GRID became AIDS.

In the summer of 1983 I moved to an apartment on Duboce near the park.  The street cars ran outside my window.  The Castro was no where near as much fun as it had been when I had visited it during the 1970s.

I worked for a computer store in the financial district.  I serviced computers for a number of the banks and businesses of the financial district.  I got to know people when I went on service calls, when I would go back a couple of months later I would learn the person I had known either died or was in the hospital.

My boss’s husband was hemophiliac and had full blown AIDS.  A co-worker was infected. My friend Bear was infected.

In 1984 I was coming home from a restaurant after dinner with a friend and there outside of the Castro Theater several gay men were gathered around a friend who had just collapsed and died.

It was like living in Camus’s novel, The Plague.  San Francisco seem full of people who were dying from the guy at A Different Light on Market Street to the man who ran the news stand in Noe Valley where they sold the European magazines.

I started drinking and doing speed, trying to escape from all the death that was around me.

I knew it was time to get out of San Francisco or lose my mind when I saw a poster in the Metro that said “We all have AIDS Now!”

The West Coast Computer Faire, the Museums, even the punk clubs of North Beach and the theater in J-Town where I went with friends to see the new wave musicians were enough to make up for the despair I felt.

In 1987 I moved back to Los Angeles.

In over all numbers LA probably had a larger number of people with AIDS but there were many more people and it was far more diffuse.

During the first few months, I was back in LA, I learned that a number of sisters, queens I had photographed during the 1970s had died.

A Creole sister who ran a catering business and made some of the best gumbo I’ve ever had was dying.

In the early 1990s, Kim the sister, I had gone through the Sanford program with and who had been so ill that summer of 1981 had died of AIDS.

As the book by Randy Shilts said, And the Band Played On.

By the early 1990s new drugs were extending the lives of people.

Then came the magic cocktail, a combination of drugs and the phrase, “Living with AIDS/HIV.”

But no cure…

And people still die…

And the band plays on…

People in lesser developed nations are still living in the plague years while the corporations still rake in the huge profits on the drugs that manage AIDS but do not cure it…

And the Band Plays On…

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Keisling Calls For Passionate Action Against Violence

From Pride Source:

National Trans Leader Inspirational At EMU

By Jerome Stuart Nichols
Originally printed 11/29/2012 (Issue 2048 – Between The Lines News)


Trans people don’t always have a lot to celebrate. Besides the fact that the odds are stacked against them financially, socially and judicially, they’re also much more likely to be victims of violence. This is why each year on Nov. 20, we take a bit of time out to celebrate and recognize those who have lost their lives due to transphobic violence.

To recognize this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, Eastern Michigan University’s LGBT Resource Center hosted prominent trans activist Mara Keisling. As she’s known to do, the towering Michelle Obama fangirl brought her patent-pending sense of humor and charm to the discussion. Her speech focused on themes of transgender rights and issues, racism in the trans community and offered tips on how to be a trans ally. It was an inspiring night capped by a lively Q and A and a reflective candlelight vigil.

Although mostly unknown to people outside the movement, Keisling is the founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality and is one of the most knowledgeable people on the topic of trans issues, making it an easy decision to invite her to share her message and perspective from a national level.

“EMU is really lucky to have her here, especially on the eve of TDoR,” EMU LGBTRC Program Coordinator Mary Larkin said. “Just being able to have such an intimate conversation with her I think is really beneficial to our students. I know a lot of the students were really excited about that happening. My Facebook status today says, ‘play it cool today’ because I feel a little excited but I want to be professional.”

The goal of the event was to remember and celebrate, but also to inform. Since people spanning the gender spectrum were in attendance, this presented a great opportunity to spread knowledge and bridge gaps.

In the fight for trans equality, it is important to connect trans and to other people. Often, it’s a lack of knowledge that proves to be a barrier to understanding. Recently, NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force quantified these issues and the results are disheartening. Trans people have an unemployment rate twice the national average, are four times more likely to live on less than $10,000 a year and 91 percent of them have faced difficulties in their work place because of their gender identity.

Then there’s the issue of health care.

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NOM’s Douglas Allen’s Latest Bogus Anti-Gay Article

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Scott Rose
on November 30, 2012

Reposted with permission

Douglas Allen is an anti-gay bigot who sits on the National Organization For Marriage‘s-linked Ruth Institute Board of Advisors and is one of its “inner circle of experts.”

In a recent commentary published in the journal Demography, Allen alleges to have re-analyzed a study by Michael Rosenfeld showing that children of gay parents do as well in school as children of heterosexual parents.

Whereas Rosenfeld — using data from the 2000 Census — took pains to compare “apples with apples” — Allen pulls a Regnerus, lumping children of gay parents into one group and comparing them to children of married heterosexual parents, to say that: “Compared with traditional married households, we find that children being raised by same-sex couples are 35% less likely to make normal progress through school.”

I asked Gary Gates, Ph.D. of UCLA’s Williams Institute for his remarks on the Allen commentary:

“One challenge with both of these papers is that, according to Census Bureau estimates, 40% of the reported same-sex couples in the 2000 Census were likely different-sex married couples who miscoded the sex of one of the spouses and appeared to be same-sex couples.”  (See here for the Census’s own report on the errors). Gates continues: “Given that the bulk of these errors are among different-sex married couples who are substantially more likely to have children than same-sex couples, we now can assume that a substantial majority of the reported same-sex couples with children in the Census 2000 Public Use Microdata samples are likely different-sex couples with children. Official acknowledgement of this problem came after the Rosenfeld paper was published. There is a way to adjust the data to minimize this substantial error and Rosenfeld does report that the adjustment does not substantially change his conclusions. However, he ultimately reports on findings from unadjusted data (remember, the Census Bureau had not confirmed the extent of the problem when Rosenfeld published his paper). This new commentary does not address the issue at all. Without adjusting the data for this now well-documented measurement error, it is very difficult to determine how much this problem might impact the new analysis.” [Bolding added]

Asked via e-mail why his commentary did not address these issues, Allen refused to provide a direct explanation. “My guess is that over the past 2 years you never sent an e-mail like this to Rosenfeld asking why he would publish a paper using the 2000 census,” he said. Allen also said that I “miss the point entirely,” as though it were of no meaningful consequence to his commentary that in the data he used, the majority of students said to have gay parents actually had heterosexual parents.

Buried in his dense commentary, Allen confesses this: “we are unable to reject the hypothesis that there is no difference.”

Despite that fact, Allen told gay-bashing lies about his commentary in a pre-publication podcast with the Ruth Institute’s Jennifer Roback Morse. At the 14:15 mark of the podcast, Morse asks Allen if the “35% increase likelihood” of failing a year in school is “due to just the gayness,” with other variables — such as poverty — coming on top of “just the gayness.”

Allen tells her that is correct.

However, that is not what his commentary says.  Allen’s commentary does not at all demonstrate causation between having gay parents and dropping out, so the phrase “due to just the gayness” is plain wrong. Allen’s commentary also does not find that gay parents’ children have a likelihood of higher than 35% of being held back a year, so Morse’s statement that other variables, such as poverty, come on top of “just the gayness” creates a false impression, a false impression which Allen irresponsibly reinforces to the Ruth Institute listenership.

Besides the Ruth Institute podcast, Allen’s commentary was first reported to the public by NOM’s William Duncan in the notorious National Review, with Duncan’s report immediately cross-posted to the NOM blog.

Rosenfeld’s response to Allen — published in the same issue of Demography — contains a point-by-point take-down of this latest NOM-linked anti-gay pseudoscience junk.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on,, The New York Blade,, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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Free to Be… You and Me — Forty Years Later

From Huffington Post:


Forty years ago this month, a group of my friends and I released “Free to Be… You and Me,” a children’s record created to expel the gender and racial stereotypes of the era, while rewriting all those pat “happily ever afters” that dominated the fairy tales of our youth. Our mission was simple: to convince children that their dreams were not only boundless, but achievable.

What happened next stunned all of us: the record immediately went platinum. This inspired us to follow up with a companion book and a TV special, both of which enjoyed the popularity of the original LP.

“Free to Be… You and Me” was suddenly no longer just a title. It became a coined phrase — a cultural touchstone — that spoke of the times in which we lived. It was also a commercial success, which allowed Gloria Steinem, Pat Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and me to use proceeds from the project to co-found the Ms Foundation, to help women and children in need.

This month’s 40th anniversary caused quite a buzz, and all of us who were involved in its creation were touched by the fuss that was made over our big birthday. Newspapers interviewed us about it; seminars were held to discuss it; even a new book was written about it: When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference it Made.

It’s gratifying to be honored for the past, but in speaking with some of my collaborators, we decided not to look back, but to look forward. And just like we ask children who are still picking up the book these 40 years later to open their minds to all the possibilities, we ask ourselves what we would tell children today that would make them even more “Free to Be?”

For me, I’d want to write them a love song. One that croons to them how beautiful they are no matter what they look like, how smart they are no matter their grades, and that each child they meet is just the same. And somewhere in the lyric (if I knew how to write a song), I’d try to teach girls and boys about the cruelty of bullying, and of telling anyone who they can love. And I’d end my song with the words: “You = Me.”

I’ve always loved the afterword Kurt Vonnegut wrote for the “Free to Be” book. That’s because Kurt crystallized the vision that all of us had for the project.

Kurt wrote: “I’ve often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they’re on, why they don’t fall off it, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on.”

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Federal judge says ‘perpetuation of the human race’ justifies Nevada gay marriage ban

Yeah like being gay or lesbian is so much better than being straight all the straight people will turn queer if we have marriage equality.

Sounds like Judgie-poo has issues.

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Friday, November 30, 2012

A Mormon federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush this week upheld Nevada’s ban on same sex marriage.

Judge Robert Jones ruled that gay men and lesbians did not qualify for protections under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because recent victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington proved that LGBT people did not face the same level of discrimination as other groups did.

“It simply cannot be seriously maintained, in light of these and other recent democratic victories, that homosexuals do not have the ability to protect themselves from discrimination through democratic processes such that extraordinary protection from majoritarian processes is appropriate,” he wrote.

Jones also contended that the state had an interest in “maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman” because heterosexual couples could produce offspring.

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Arthur Goldberg, founder of conversion therapy outfit, bilked cities out of millions

From Daily Kos:

Christian Dem in NC
Fri Nov 30, 2012

I decided to do a little digging on Arthur Goldberg, the founder of the “conversion therapy” (read: pray away the gay) outfit Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH).  Goldberg, for those who don’t know, is being sued by four gay men who say that what he passed off as “therapy” to “cure” them of their homosexuality was an incredibly degrading bill of goods.  What piqued my interest was the New York Times’ piece on him, which mentioned he founded JONAH after being convicted on federal fraud charges back in the 1980s.  Well, I peered into the guts of this fraud–and it’s absolutely nauseating.

Back in 2010, Truth Wins Out teamed up with South Florida Gay News to investigate Goldberg.  It turns out that in 1989, Goldberg, then the executive vice president of New York investment bank Matthews & Wright, admitted to masterminding a scheme  to sell $2 billion worth of worthless municipal bonds to several cities.  Read South Florida Gay News’ writeup here, and Truth Wins Out’s writeup here.  One of the victims was the U.S. territory of Guam.  From South Florida Gay News:

Goldberg and others also indicted at Matthews & Wright had knowingly conspired together to enter into a fraudulent scheme to sell fake bond issues but take commissions on them anyway. They arranged to bribe officials, deceive investors, and issue bogus checks to non existent parties.In exchange for underwriting $300 million in bogus deals, Goldberg and his investment firm, Matthews & Wright, received a fee of $10.5 million. They created the impression these bonds would be used to help construct desperately needed single family housing in Guam and elsewhere.

For this scheme, in 1987 a Guam grand jury indicted Goldbeg on 52 counts of fraud and conspiracy.  However, so many of the island’s 130,000 residents had been scammed that a fair trial there was impossible, so it had to be moved to Los Angeles.  According to K. William O’Connor, the U.S. Attorney for Guam, Goldberg’s scheme hobbled Guam’s economy in “a conspiratorial fraud spectacular in scope.”Another victim was East St. Louis, Illinois–a city which has long been one of the poorest in the nation.  According to a 1991 NYT article, in 1985 Goldberg underwrote $223 million in municipal bonds for a huge river port that he and his cronies never intended to build.

In 1989, Goldberg pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud in Los Angeles and one count of conspiracy to defraud in East St. Louis.  He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and five years’ probation, and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.  He was also permanently banned from the securities industry, and his firm was shut down.  Later, he was disbarred in both New Jersey and Connecticut–though according to Truth Wins Out, he continued to bill himself as a “Doctor of Laws” for some time.  He was listed as such on the Website of NARTH, of which he was executive secretary.

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Down with gay-healing quacks!

From Salon:

A groundbreaking case accuses a “healing” organization of fraud. Suddenly, the haters are on the run

Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012

It’s really hard to gain ground for acceptance and equality when so many people still think there’s a reverse switch on human sexual orientation. It’s just too helpful to bigots to believe that gay people are somehow misguided, or they’re just being stubborn in their refusal to pair off with an appropriately opposite sex partner. That they can be talked into a whole other identity like it’s a timeshare in Boca.

That’s why it’s significant that earlier this fall, California became the first state to ban gay “conversion” therapy on minors, because, as Gov. Jerry Brown explained, they have “driven young people to depression and suicide… These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

And that’s why what’s unfolding in New Jersey right now represents a similar blow against the absurd – and ridiculously lucrative — industry of “healing” gay men and women. In a groundbreaking suit the Southern Poverty Law Center filed on their behalf Tuesday, four New Jersey men and two of their mothers charged a gay counseling group with deceptive practices under the Consumer Fraud Act. SPLC attorney Samuel Wolfe said Tuesday, “This is the first time that plaintiffs have sought to hold conversion therapists liable in a court of law.”

The target of the suit is Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (known as JONAH), its co-founder Arthur Goldberg and self-proclaimed life coach Alan Downing. JONAH describes itself as “dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions … [and working] directly with those struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions.” But as one of the men involved in the suit told the New York Times this week, he went through months of sessions – at $100 a clip – before plunging into depression. “It becomes fraudulent, even cruel,” Michael Ferguson said. “To say that if you really want to change you could — that’s an awful thing to tell somebody.”

But it’s not just the warped premise of the endeavor that’s so problematic for these former clients. It’s what happened when they went there. According to a Reuters report, “The plaintiffs charge that during therapy sessions they were sometimes ordered to remove all of their clothing; in other sessions they were told to beat effigies of their mothers with tennis rackets or were subjected to homosexual slurs … Another JONAH client was instructed to break through a human barricade to retrieve a pair of oranges, drink the juice from them and place them down his pants to symbolize the recovery of his testicles and, by extension, his heterosexuality.”

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