Why I’m Kind of Over “Pride Day”

For one thing I remember when “Pride Day” commemorated the Stonewall Uprising.

Back in those days it was political.

I didn’t go to the Christopher Street West Gay Liberation Marches until 1974.  The prior years I was dealing with more pressing issues including surgery dates.

I went to my first Christopher Street West March and Rally in Hollywood, 1974.

It wasn’t a huge event. But there were a lot of TS/TG women there, Hollywood was our turf, home to the few bars and restaurants that would serve us.

A couple of bars had floats, as did a couple of bath houses.  MCC was represented and the Christo-Fascists stood off to the side at the corner of Hollywood and Vine with their signs of condemnation and hell fire.

The Parade/March started at Hollywood and Argyle and made its way west to Las Palmas.  There it turned south down Las Palmas, past the Gold Cup and the Church on Selma Avenue where the male hustlers displayed their merchandise.

The rally was held in De Longpre Park, south of Sunset Blvd and had speakers, not well known celebrity entertainers.

Morris Kight and Jim Kepner introduced the speakers.  To their credit they remembered me from conferences.

The Founders of the Modern Gay Liberation Movement made an effort to reach out, recognize the diversity of a community that was already fragmenting into various identities.

I was there to enjoy the day and photograph the event.  I didn’t have a prepared speech, but I got up and spoke anyway.

I spoke about how beautiful it was to see gay men, lesbians transsexuals and queens all together on this one day and how sad it was that the rest of the year we lived in our own ghettos with others excluded from our bars.

By 1976 the festival had started featuring entertainment as well as speeches. Booths selling beer, food and trinkets now occupied the park which had been the site of a political rally just two years prior.

By the 1980s  the connection to the Stonewall uprising had become tenuous at best.  The AIDS crisis dominated the LGBT scene as did the militant politics of Larry Kramer and ACT-UP.

Then in the 1990s as the AIDS crisis lessened it seemed as though LGBT people became a demographic to the point where community isn’t defined by relationships, affection or love, nor even by politics, but rather by patterns of consumption.

I’m a product of the 1960s, an unrepentant hippie anti-establishment sort. Many years ago marriage was the last thing on my mind, but old age and awareness of my own mortality as well as that of my life partner have made the legal ties and rights purchased with marriage into something desirable. But the marriage parasites shouldn’t start salivating over the thought of getting a bunch of money from us when we marry. We already had the ceremony performed by our peers a year and a half ago.  We just want the paper and the rights. I sure don’t need an expensive dress or ceremony.

Once upon a time being LGBT was like being a hippie in many ways.  Our lives served as an example of an alternative to the consumerist, the patriarchal institutions of the straights.

With our lives we questioned their assumptions.

Now it seems as though we want to be just like them.

Join the military, wage imperialistic wars of conquest to fatten the wallets of the rich.

Get the useless education in being an efficient corporate tool, destroying the planet and walking on the backs of the working class so you too can afford to attend the MWMF/Dinah Shore/Black Party/White Party with a winter share in Aspen  and a summer share in the Hamptons.

There are a lot of pissed off TS/TG folks who feel forgotten.  Too queer to be a part of the A-List LGBT club.  From the floors of the Big Box Stores to the street corners and squats they still see the personal as the political.

Maybe it is time for working class folks, both White and People of Color who are LGBT to realize many of our issues are class related and not simply LGBT related.

I held my tongue over all the Gays in the Military hoopla.  Because there are LGBT people who are in the military and who need the benefits they earned.  But somehow serving as part of the imperialistic corporate war machine always seemed like a pretty dubious right.

Particularly given the history of the US and its support of brutal dictatorships along with the over throwing of elected democratic governments.

I have to ask, “Who all are you protecting, the people of the US or the profits of the ultra rich corporate overlords?”

This brings me to the latest act of craven cowardliness on the part of the A-List LGBT folks who run the movement:  Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced

It seems that some of the A-list corporate suck-ups were afraid of the controversy surrounding Bradley Manning.  Perhaps they were afraid people might be reminded of the gentle, angry, loving people who marched in the 1960s and 1970s when standing for something was more important than buying the next expensive toy, the next exotic and exclusive gay/lesbian cruise.

Maybe as an old post-transsexual lesbian and left wing hippie I hold the A-List LGBT folks values in contempt.

Maybe I have more in common with the LGBT folks who go to the same concerts at the same funky venues as old straights with hippie roots.

Funny thing is I still feel pretty damned comfortable at demonstration where folks are holding Teachers, Nurses, Communication Workers and Teamster Union signs protesting cuts to Social Security and the war against working people.

More comfortable than at LGBT events featuring A-List members of LGBT Inc.

Speaking of which…  While a lot of gay men died during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s a lot of lesbians didn’t and a lot of us working class LGBT folks are facing pretty desolate lives of loneliness and poverty as we age.  Social Security is another inconvenient issue.

From where I stand the suits of Gay Inc or perhaps more accurately LGBT Inc seem pretty much isolated from the depredations of poverty.

But I can pretty much guarantee you this issue will not be raised at the Corporate Sponsored Pride Day Celebrations across the nation.  Mustn’t let corporate selling opportunities be tainted with politics or anything that would cause LGBT consumer to think they are living in a dystopia instead of a virtual paradise.

Maybe it is time for a counter-cultural LGBT revolution, one that throws off the chains of identity politics and forges bonds based on common cause with workers, older people, environmentalists, the lumpen folks who are homeless or working the street, the anti-war folks.

Perhaps we need to reclaim the concept of liberation.  Freedom isn’t choosing between the latest iPhone and the latest Samsung Galaxy.  Freedom is about having equality and dignity.  Not having to go to bed hungry, having a roof over your head, not having to do sex work.

Maybe we need a New Deal 2.0

I’m pretty sure we don’t need a whole lot of what the corporate sponsors of LGBT Inc are selling.

Free Bradley Manning

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Lynn Stewart

Free Cece McDonald

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

LGBTQrstuv: Bisexuality & Transgender – John Corvino

No Rich Child Left Behind

From The New York Times:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

April 27, 2013

Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.

Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.

What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.

One way to see this is to look at the scores of rich and poor students on standardized math and reading tests over the last 50 years. When I did this using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago.

To make this trend concrete, consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.

In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race.

Continue reading at:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

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The Digital Education Divide

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/14870/the_digital_education_divide/

Massive Open Online Courses threaten to aggravate the problems they were designed to solve.

BY Susan J. Douglas
April 24, 2013

The latest, hottest thing in higher education is the MOOC: Massive Open Online Course. Students—tens of thousands, supposedly—can now sit in their PJs in their bedrooms and take an online course, free and typically for no credit. If they finish, they get a certificate. The really hot MOOCs are taught by renowned experts whose lectures can now be seen by anyone with Internet access. As Stanford, Harvard, MIT and others have introduced MOOCs, there’s been something of a panic among universities to get in on the ground floor or else be left in the dust as some old, out-of-touch, brick-and-mortar has-been.

The hype: MOOCs will revolutionize higher education. “The single biggest change in education since the printing press” is how Anant Agarwal, the computer scientist who heads the MIT-Harvard consortium offering MOOCs, has described them. “There’s a tsunami coming,” says Stanford President John Hennessy. Thomas Friedman has hailed MOOCs as driving down the cost of college and possibly even replacing traditional higher education.

Time for a skeptical breather. Would it be educational to sit in—digitally—on a free course taught by a world-famous expert in, say, art history, astronomy or Internet law? You bet. But no one knows what the funding model for MOOCs is going to be. If they’re free, how are they supported over time? Lurking in the background, given the need for a workable financial structure, is the further commercialization of higher education into for-profit centers.

The excitement about MOOCs coincides with widespread defunding of public higher education. State after state has slashed its education budget, forcing tuition prices up and constricting the ability of many institutions to hire or retain faculty. Federal funding cuts to agencies like the National Science Foundation are hampering the country’s preeminence in research. And conservatives who hate science and the liberal arts have stereotyped college professors as pampered divas who work six hours a week, when most faculty I know work somewhere between 60-70 hours a week, sometimes much more.

Online courses represent yet another way that corporate-minded administrators can squeeze more work out of faculty for less pay. Teaching an online course is considerably more labor-intensive than teaching in the classroom: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that professors typically spend over 100 hours preparing MOOCs, and then there are the 8-10 hours every week presiding over chats, responding to emails and updating material. Right now, faculty are not being compensated for this extra work.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/14870/the_digital_education_divide/

See Also:  The New York Times: Two Cheers for Web U!

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Slaves to Our Stuff: A Creative Vision to Break Away From Consumer Culture’s Destructive Grip

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/slaves-our-stuff-creative-vision-break-away-consumer-cultures-destructive-grip

Billy Talen, known as Reverend Billy, talks about his new book and says, “We need to be honest with ourselves about the danger we are all in with the natural world.”

By Sabrina Artel
April 24, 2013

his article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

Need a creative way to fight fears of our planetary demise? A new book by Billy Talen prophetically titled, The End of the World (OR Books), may be just the trick. Talen, also known as Reverend Billy, and his Church of Stop Shopping, exposes the socio-political structure of consumerism and the commoditization of the earth with songs, impassioned preaching and theater events. Talen has been arrested 70 times along with members of the Church for their acts of civil disobedience in banks and other places of corporate mediation. Their decade-long collaboration, under the direction of Savitri D, has brought them to communities throughout the U.S. and internationally where they have built a performance institution of communities of action with songs and uplifting protest spectacle on the streets and in concert halls. Talen and the Church’s inspiring and engaging performances ask us to take action on behalf of our home on our rapidly dying planet.

The End of the World is being promoted with the launch of the international Revolt of the Golden Toad tour, which began in San Francisco on April 22. The End of the World is a poetic cry of sermons to wake people up about the climate crisis, destruction of biodiversity, and catastrophic consumption orchestrated by global capitalism.

Talen spoke with AlterNet about his new book and what motivates his creative actions.

Sabrina Artel: How did this book project come about?

Billy Talen: Because of my growing feeling that human beings are losing. We’re losing ground to the corporations and the big banks, and the earth movement is losing. The big bank system needs to multiply their products and keep us in a state of consumption. Consumerism needs to be defeated.

As I started watching the sack of diapers next to [my daughter] Lena when she was born in the hospital at St. Vincent’s they were covered by Mickey Mouse faces. Here in NY we have high pressure tests confronting first-graders. The Church of Stop Shopping and I have been active in the movement to stop paying back student debt because it’s reached a trillion dollars so that young people can’t defend the earth; young people can’t be politicized because they are saddled with debt along with their marching orders to become consumers. Climate change kills people every day. It’s dangerous. Certainly it certainly kills people who don’t have the resources to defend themselves. It’s a conscious class war.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/slaves-our-stuff-creative-vision-break-away-consumer-cultures-destructive-grip

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‘We Speak for the Bees’: Marchers Urge EU-Wide Ban of Killer Pesticides

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/26-2

‘This is not abstract theorizing. Bees are dying out. Now.’

Jon Queally

They came to speak for the bees.

Ahead of an expected EU vote on Monday that will determine a possible ban on a class of pesticides that scientists say are killing off the continents’ bees and other pollinators, a coalition of beekeepers, conservationists, gardeners, and environmental activists marched on Parliament in London on Friday as a way to urge the UK to join other European nations in supporting the ban.

Yellow and black dominated the scene as many in attendance dressed as bees, wore their apiary suits and carried signs that read “Like Food? Love Bees” and “No to Neonic,” referring to pesticide class called neonicotinoids that a number of recent studies have tied directly to the decline of bee populations.

The organizers of the so-called “March of the Beekeepers” included Avaaz, Friends of the Earth, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, Soil Association and the group 38 Degrees.

“Ministers can’t ignore the growing scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline,” said Friends of the Earth’s campaigns director Andrew Pendleton. “Their claims to be concerned about bee health will ring hollow if they fail to back European moves to restrict the use of these chemicals.”

He continued: “If we lose our bees and other vital pollinators it’ll have a devastating impact on our food, gardens and environment. We urgently need tougher pesticide restrictions and a British Bee Action Plan to tackle all the threats they face.” Protesters came together to demand Environment Minister Owen Patterson back moves to ban the worst bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. European countries will vote on the issue on Monday.

Underlining the urgency of the threat on Friday, Greenpeace’s Graham Patterson issued a stark warning: “This is not abstract theorizing. Bees are dying out. Now.”

He explained:

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/26-2

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Don’t Let Monsanto Kill the Humble but Wholesome Dandelion

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15982-dont-let-monsanto-kill-the-humble-but-wholesome-dandelion

By Phreddy Wischusen
Thursday, 25 April 2013

I was watching TV the other day.  Commercial break.  Cut to a lush green lawn.  A single yellow dandelion springs up through the emerald expanse.  The heroic protagonist appears left.  He spies the flower, runs, dives, somersaults onto the lawn and pops up sturdily on one knee. Brandishing a bottle of weed killer, he fires.  The patented nozzle rains hell on the defenseless sunbather.  The flower withers. And dies. The lawn-owner is triumphant.  Right?

Though considered a weed by Round Up and many home/lawn owners in the United States, the dandelion is actually an incredibly nutritious food.  It’s a great source of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.  It’s replete with vitamins A, C, E, K, Niacin and Riboflavin.  Chock full of beta-carotene. The lecithin in its golden top detoxifies the liver.   The roots can be roasted to make a coffee substitute, or used in soups.  The leaves (tastiest after they first emerge for the season or after the first frost) can be eaten, as can its sweet yellow blossoms.  People use them in salads raw, boil them, fry them with bacon, marinate them in vinegar, and sauté them with fresh garlic. Did you ever notice that if you break the stem of a dandelion that a milky white liquid comes out?  Well, you can use that liquid to ease the pain of bee stings and sores.  Remember the advice of the great ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.  These vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, fight anemia, and help prevent the development of type II diabetes.  Remember the brain is a part of our body as well.  Healthy bodies mean healthy brains.  Proper nutrition prevents depression and anxiety and improves concentration.  Scientists even believe that lecithin may help combat Alzheimer’s.

Other cultures consume dandelions regularly.  My friend Ricardo has spent many summers living in Greece. I asked him how similar the food in Greek town was to food “normal” people eat in Greece.  “Very similar” he told me “with one crucial difference.  The Greek grandmothers gather fresh greens (dandelions especially) every day.  Then they add these greens to tomato and cucumber salads, to meals of roasted lamb, and spinach pie.”  Even in Pensacola, Florida, my friend Kate’s yaya would often demand that the car be pulled over so she could pick fresh dandelion greens off the side of the road.

The dandelion doesn’t simply nourish humans; it nourishes other plants as well.  Year after year this perennial often reappears in spite of all the mowings, weedings, and poisonings it endures.  This is because the dandelion has a “taproot”, a long twisted root that can grow three feet deep within the earth.  The taproot brings minerals and nutrients not available at the soil’s surface to neighboring plants with shorter roots.  The taproot connects us to less contaminated parts of Mother Earth.  It connects us to our foundations.

In the Round Up commercial, the protagonist is only truly successful in poisoning his home, his body and his mind while he prostrates himself before his corporate overlords.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15982-dont-let-monsanto-kill-the-humble-but-wholesome-dandelion

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