Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - STONEWALL TO FT WORTH AND 40 JUNES BETWEEN.

Matthew K. Miller, a friend of mine, wrote an amazing blog posting about Stonewall entitled "Here, Queer, and 40 years later." Check it out.

Forty years ago this past weekend, New York City Vice police raided an unremarkable gay bar on Christopher Street in New York's Greenwich Village. The mafia-affiliated establishment was known as the Stonewall Inn and this was not its first raid. Tonight, however, was special. This was the night that Judy Garland, the gay man's only friend in Hollywood, was buried after a troubled life filled with heart-break and pills. This was not the right night to pick a fight with a queen. That night a HUNKY Raymond Castro was there and fought back against the police. Martin Boyce and Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt did too. Many people did. The riot began with queens, homeless youth, and young regulars--the outcasts of the gay community. People started showing up from the neighborhood, the cops became outnumbered and a full-scale riot began--the riot flared up every night for three nights until finally the city began to acknowledge they had a BIG PR problem on their hands. A "Homo Next Raid" as the New York Daily News called it, had become a bit more than a routine game of catch the fag. The cops, to this day, stand behind their actions--and frankly our movement sort of has them to thank, in a way. If the chemistry hadn't been perfect that night, it might have gone down a lot differently. We may still be waiting for our landmark moment.

SEE STONEWALL: A PHOTO RETROSPECTIVE. Also watch the AARP video.

Almost immediately after, the energized and militant youth of New York began the Gay Liberation Front, and their movement spread throughout the nation, quickly. The next June there were marches in San Francisco, New York, and other cities to commemorate the uprising. Gilbert Baker sewed together 8 (well, actually 7) color strips to create the first rainbow flag. The next year, the marches continued, and the next and the next and the next. This year, even the casts of Hair and West Side Story stood with us. The Empire State Building was illuminated in lavender. It grows every year. Even CNN has remarked on its significance (though ABC, CBS and NBC all ignored the milestone). Yahoo and Google are fighting over which search engine loves the gays more. We are visible.

Every year right around June 28, LGBT people around America celebrate "PRIDE"--Pride in being unabashedly who we are unapologetically. Pride in standing up for ourselves and defending our rights. PRIDE is celebrated world-wide--all with that same familiar rainbow (now 6 colors). From New York (where, strangely, zero State Senators showed up--even though the Senate Dems sponsored it) to Chicago. We may not all agree on the appropriateness of the 'image of gay America' that Pride sends, but regardless of who you hope come, and who you'd wish stay home and in the closet, Pride is for everyone to come and be who they are with no questions--and its always been like that. It re-energizes us and reminds us of what we're fighting for, and how much more we have to go! This weekend is also the tenth anniversary of what is believed to be television's first gay kiss--on the Today Show--long after Ellen and Will and Grace had been on the air. Look at how we celebrate in New York City! We've come a long way, but we have a long way to go!

Nancy Goldstein wrote an interesting piece in the Guardian called "Stonewall's Unfinished Legacy" which is summarized and brought into context over at Pam's House Blend. While we've been fighting a good fight for 40 years, we've yet to see satisfactory progress in most areas of the nation. Though there are now 7 states who allow full Marriage Equality, more on the way, and still more that allow unions with many of the same rights and responsibilities, you can still get fired in most of the country for being gay--including in the Military. Lt. Dan Choi, who grand marshaled San Francisco's Pride, knows this first hand. Another reminder right in San Francisco of the hate we still endure is the arson vandalism that befell the giant pink triangle placed above the city as a reminder of the gay Holocaust victims.

We can't forget those brave men and women who kicked the movement off. Surveys find a huge generation gap in the gay community--and we really don't need to read a survey to know that. You young readers: how many people over the age of 40 are you friends with and OF those men over the age of 40, how many have been out for more than 20 years? How many of my older readers write-off young gays as immature or just juvenile partiers? See my point? I think that the young appreciate what has come from the past, but are making no effort to connect to it.

But we MUST connect to it, because it still happens today. By now, it should not be new news to you that there was a code inspection this weekend on the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas, in which things turned ugly very fast, and now a man is in intensive care in the hospital. While I don't want to be too quick to pin the homophobia meme to the police, there is a definite lack of education. earlier today I talked with a police Sargent who told me that this was their first contact with this particular bar, and that he'd never even HEARD of the Stonewall uprising until now--and now he is sure he will never forget it. At least he responded, the TABC, which also participated in the sweep, are refusing to comment.

The evidence is mounting that there is a bit of "gay panic" at work here--and though, the officer I spoke to seemed very open to learn from this, I'm sure that there's going to have to be a lot more teaching--especially when the Chief of Police blamed Chad Gibson's condition on alcohol poisoning and not a severe head injury. The police are denying targeting the gays in the sweep--which I believe, because all bars have to undergo such sweeps, and according to my source, they bring the Paddy Wagon with them every time. However, the fact that the situation turned bad so quickly is proof that there was a lack of understanding and compassion for the special considerations that the police have to take when dealing with gays and lesbians, who historically have a HORRIBLE relationship with the police. Even the local mainstream press is calling into question the excuses why things got so violent, Fort Worth city council members are calling for investigations, and the Dallas Morning News is calling for a full investigation--which shows just how many folks are looking for answers. And we're the ones that are going to have to do the teaching, once we get those answers. We can't live in a bubble and expect other people to understand our particular issues. Pride must go BEYOND the parade route--we need to take it everywhere so we can educate others and make the world better. The eyewitness accounts show that this was excessive for sure. The stories are so compelling.

Chad Gibson is still in the hospital--here is his story. He has a blood clot on the brain, and his recovery could take anywhere from 6-24 months--and the process could be very dangerous for him.

Donations to help defray Chad Gibson's medical bills can be made to Q Cinema, BoxTurtleBulletin provides the information.

The Ft. Worth police didn't know what to expect at the bar when they got there, because we--as a community--have done a poor job of reaching out to the world outside of our safe little walls and trying to make positive connections. Had the community already had a relationship in place with the police department, the managers and workers and some of the regular patrons would have seen familiar faces walk in--the tension would have been broken, and things would not have spiraled out of control. The officers might have been familiar with the patrons and knew that when Joe over there in the corner was spinning around, it didn't mean he's drunk, he's just feeling the music. Now, the police very well could have done this too--they could have already had a liaison officer in place coordinating the development of this relationship--but if we want acceptance, then its our responsibility to ask for it. We can't wait for people to come to us and offer it, we have to reach out. Come out of our closets again--and bust into the real world.

Its the spirit of Stonewall, and its just what makes sense. So enjoy your parades, your floats and your booths, but the other 364 days of the year, educate those who need it, and build those bridges so that this never has to happen again.

GUEST COLUMN - MATT MATTINGLY ON THE DURHAM, NC PEDOPHILE

The following is the FIRST EVER Ameriqueer guest column from Charleston, IL peer, Matt Mattingly. Matt and I often DISAGREE on Obama, but we very MUCH agree on this story here in two respects: sexual abuse and assault is heinous and evil; and that the gay community has an obligation to call attention to and be angry about evil committed by those who fuel our enemies' fires, rather than sweep these awful things under the rug. When we show OUR own anger as a community over these atrocities--and others, like racism, prostitution, risky sex and indiscriminate drug use--we do the responsible thing, and pull the rug out from under those who want to convince others these things are characteristic of our community. There is a little bit of self-loathing involved in ignoring these evils, and the sooner we address them, the more legitimate our fight becomes. The religious right is ALREADY trying to spin the evil of one gay man against OUR WHOLE COMMUNITY--be outraged about this child abuse as you should be, and make this about abuse NOT about being gay!

It is a horrible enough crime in itself. A 42-year old man allegedly having committed sexual acts upon his 5-year old adopted son and posting it on the Internet. Worse still, this man is accused offering up his 5-year old adopted son up on the internet for sex. Arrested in his home in Durham, North Carolina, this man faces 20 years if convicted.

To any rational human being, the guttural reaction to hearing about this story is an indescribable disgust and rage, mixed with heartfelt sympathy for the child whose childhood may very well have been stolen from him by a soulless monster. We all should protest evil acts such as this.

But we in the LGBT community must also gird ourselves against the possible rhetorical ramifications of this tragic situation for this man, an official at the Duke University Center for Health Policy is also, according to the earliest media reports, a gay man who lived with his partner and had another adopted child as well. According to the CNN article on this crime, the man told an undercover police officer over the internet that he had performed multiple sex acts on the boy and was willing to let the police officer do the same. The reports say the man claimed he had, at times, drugged the boy to perform the acts, and had managed to hide the abuses from his partner.

When those who would seek to prevent the acquisition of total equality for LGBT people seeking to marry their loved ones or adopt children put up their arguments against such rights, they often make the insidious claim that a child adopted by a same-sex couple will be confused, traumatized and perhaps even abused. We scoff at their argument, deem it to be unscrupulous and bigoted, and move on. But we cannot move on, for those who oppose equality now will have a recent event to use as Exhibit A in their argument.

In the past few weeks, we have seen the considerable affect that mobilized masses of LGBT men and women have had in their heated attitude toward President Barack Obama’s perceived inaction on gay rights issues. Whether one believes that heated attitude is just and warranted or impatient and overemotional is irrelevant, but the mobilization has seen some stirrings develop from within the Administration.

It is our responsibility – as LGBT citizens of these United States, as committed prospective partners and parents, as human beings—to aim that same power of assembly and that same anger and outrage at this 42 year old man from Durham, NC as well as all sexual predators who lust after innocent children and traffic in their flesh. By doing so, we give the appropriate emotional response to such a heinous crime and, from a cold, political perspective, find common ground with those who oppose are equality.

Ultimately, this story isn’t about same-sex adoptions or equal rights. It’s about protecting children from these monsters, and providing them with parents –heterosexual or homosexual—that will love and care for them in the way that they should be.

MATT MATTINGLY, GUEST COLUMNIST FOR AMERIQUEER.

If you liked reading Matt's wonderful piece, please let us know!

ROUNDUP 630 - GET YOUR NEWS FIX NOW!

BREAKING--AL FRANKEN WINS! Harry Reid congratulates!

IF YOU'RE ANGRY ABOUT THE RAINBOW LOUNGE FIASCO IN FT. WORTH TEXAS, THAN YOU NEED TO GET INVOLVED. We have a long way to go to full equality, and we have many fronts we are pushing on right now. One of those fronts is Employment Discrimination. If you DON'T know what it is, the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will protect LGBT people nation-wide from sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination in hiring/firing. CLICK HERE AND LEARN ABOUT HOW TO GET YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO SUPPORT ENDA!

In.D.C|| Joe Biden acknowledges things are moving too slow at that controvercial DC fundraiser that DISAPPOINTINGLY raised $1M. Read LAW DORK'S AWESOME ACTION PLAN on turning rhetoric into results! Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) demonstrated in front of the White House on Saturday to protest DADT--watch the video here. President Obama acknowledged the shamefulness of the discharges and the speed at which change is occurring at the White House cocktail party Monday, but stopped short of announcing an Executive Order ENDING the insanity. He did say some powerful things that were right on the mark, in my humble opinion. That is why--while I am very frustrated with this president--I still really expect great things from him.
And I know that many in this room don’t believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.
LAWDORK has a powerful entry in his blog about what the president did right at this event, and where he fell short. Here is the VIDEO--my favorite part is the duck. Listen to him FINALLY SAY THE WORD TRANSGENDER! BoxTurtleBulletin's Jim Burroway expresses his optimism after this reception. There is some concern that the President may be behind the times with corporate America and many states already far ahead of the president's goals. However, people aren't yet content, and poor ole Bobby Gibbs is getting the sharp end of the stick--here he is on Hardball getting grilled again by Chuck Todd on DADT and DOMA. Secretary of Defense Gates says the Pentagon is looking at "more humane ways" to apply DADT until it is changed. Labor Secretary Solis condemns defacing of Pride posters.

Why are the big gay organizations known popularly as "Gay, inc." reversing their opposition to the Boies and Olson Federal challenge to Proposition 8? Maybe its not a total turn-around, but the legal groups in the bunch have all filed court briefs supporting Olson/Boies this week, most likely because its unstoppable now, so they mine as well get involved and be sure its done right. I absolutely love Jared Polis' stance on Obama. Hell I love him. Is he single? I did get to meet my Illinois gay politician crush this weekend finally--hey Greg Harris!

BY THE WAY, the Washington D.C. Superior Court just dismissed the case filed by anti-gay Bishop Harry Jackson on that voter referendum, which means the District will start RECOGNIZING SAME-SEX MARRIAGES ON JULY 6TH. This should be interesting.

STATE2STATE|| In PENNSYLVANIA, the Steel City Stonewall Democrats have created an awesome video denouncing State Senator Eichelberger's comments that straights are "allowing" gays and lesbians to exist. Senator Eichelberger is refusing to back down. In CALIFORNIA, San Diego cops busted up the Home Fundraiser for Democratic candidate Francine Busby--the home belonged to a lesbian couple. In ILLINOIS, Peter LaBarbera was at Chicago Pride and so was I! FROM MY HOME STATE OF MICHIGAN, The City of Kalamazoo has approved an inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance in employment, housing and access to public accommodations! In NEW YORK, Senator Duane is "optimistic" about passing the Marriage Equality bill this session, even as the Senate has become a total circus. And not even a good Circus like Britney's. Joe Biden's DELAWARE adds sexual orientation and gender identity to anti discrimination laws!

AROUND/THE/GLOBE|| UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown banned UK's most famous gay activist, Peter Tatchell from attending the Government sponsored gay pride event. In INDIA, gays held a successful second ever Pride event demanding decriminalization there.

SPIRITq|| 60% of gays say faith is important to them.

OFF/THE/MAP|| Last week Stephen Colbert had two of his most hilarious gay-related sketches ever--my favorite being the day's word Thursday: "Stonewalling!" McCain campaigners called Palin "Little Shop of Horrors!" HX Magazine may be doomed.

OURstory|| Today's OURstory should be titled THEIRstory--the story of the 'gayby boomers'--the generation of the first kids who were raised by openly gay parents--two daddy, two mommy households. They're entering their 30s and ExGayWatch profiles a few of their stories. I am combining a detailed Stonewall coverage with coverage of this weekend around the world and specifically reactions to what happened in Texas--since I think the three seem to all be made of the same stuff.

TOAST TO CHAD GIBSON--GET BETTER QUICK!

UPDATE ON CHAD GIBSON'S CONDITION

I have received word earlier this afternoon from an editor at the Dallas Voice that Chad is improving. According to the Dallas Voice's Tammye Nash:
The latest I have heard on Chad is that the bleeding has slowed but he is not out of the woods yet. I have not spoken with his family today.
When I know where you can send flowers, cards or just drop an email with your thoughts and encouragement, I will post it. Until then, if you want to send positive thoughts to our brother Chad in Texas, please post them as a comment to this post, and when I can, I will forward them to whomever can get them to him. In the mean time keep Chad and his family in your thoughts and prayers! Thank you!

BREAKING - MY CONVERSATION WITH FT. WORTH POLICE DPT.

This morning, bright and early, I got a call from Sgt. Pedro Criado--a man who sounded like he'd lost quite a bit of sleep lately. I had called the "media contact" number last night and left my information, expecting a standard email, and to my surprise I got a call back bright and early (7am, Texas time). Sgt. Criado was very cordial and forthcoming in answering my questions about the "code inspection" at the Rainbow Lounge, and he was able to clear up some mysteries--though now I have more questions for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; who, by the way, are those guys in the tan shirts that say "State Police."

In fact, there needs to be a separation made here between the guys in the tan "State Police" shirts and the guys in the blue "Ft. Worth Police" shirts... I've taken a look at all of the pictures from the event--all of the photos of people being calmly handled (hand-cuffed or not) being questioned in a standing position are being handled by men in blue. All of the photos of people being violently shoved to the ground are being handled by men in tan. Sgt. Pedro Criado said that he can't speak for the TABC--and the press release below is ONLY from the Ft. Worth Police Dpt, it is NOT a joint press release--so I think I have way more questions now for TABC than the Ft. Worth Police. Like, "why couldn't you follow the Ft. Worth police lead and be decent people, rather than go around getting photographed beating the shit out of people?" I was not there, so I therefore do not know which officers were being 'over-zealous' and which were not, but I do now recognize the distinction in the pictures.

Sgt. Criado's wanted me to encourage anyone who was there to please come and lodge formal complaints and make formal statements because they are trying to conduct a formal investigation and he seemed quite sincere when he said they want to get to the bottom of it. He said that they released their press statement earlier than they normally would, though later than people wanted because they wanted to be thorough, but they still want more information.

He is asking for pictures and video. Though I'm pretty sure that I don't have any readers in Texas (though I do in Belgium--hey Belgian reader, whoever you are!) if you DO happen to read my blog and were there, please take WHATEVER evidence you have down to the station. This Sgt. Criado really sounded like a good one, so you can ask to talk to him if the other people are less than nice.

He expressed concern with me at the hate and vitriol they have been receiving--and he said "you have no idea what people have been saying"--which I saw as a teachable moment, and explained to him that many gays and lesbians have to experience that kind of hate every day in their life, and hopefully this is an opportunity for the Ft. Worth police to learn something and become educated about this segment of their city's population. He seemed to get it--he's been studying the Stonewall Uprising ever since, and said he had never heard about it before that night, but now he will never forget about it--or the date.

He wanted to be clear to me that homophobia would not be tolerated on their force "Everybody deserves respect; black, white, latino, or whatever your sexual preference is. Our officers should give respect to everyone--unless they give you a reason not to." I totally agree, and if anyone was threatening officers, then I think that WOULD be grounds to arrest them. I think I take exception to arresting someone for being flirty with an officer, but I kept my mouth shut, because I'm pretty sure the Ft. Worth Police are going to learn that on their own before this is all done. That I did press to him--this is probably going to take a long time to go away.

About that flirtiness, however, he said the commander made him change the language in the press release below to "sexually suggestive movements" but it sounds like the first two people who got arrested were arrested for grinding on the officer's legs--not his words, but mine. I don't think that grinding is all that horrible--how many girls probably go up to the officers in straight bars, and flirtily grind against them when they come in. I'm sure I've SEEN it before. However, what he DOES have a point with here, is that that is a good indication that that person is fairly drunk (unless that person is me, because I am a clown drunk or sober).

MY QUESTION NOW IS: IF THAT'S THE CASE IS THIS ENFORCED EVENLY? If they walked into a packed straight bar, and some cute big-boobed chick with big frizzy blonde hair, and a low cut top came up to them and danced provocatively on them, would SHE be zip-tied, no questions asked?

My first reaction that I interjected quickly with Sgt. Criado was "maybe they thought they were strippers or go-go dancers." Its true, if I were in a bar, and a few people came in dressed as cops, it wouldn't be too far fetched to think this was a performance deal.

The most surprising thing, however, was the answer about the "breathalyzer" issue--if you read a previous post, I quoted the Dallas Voice's account of a patron who was insisting that they were sober, demanding a breathalyzer, who was being hustled out. Sgt. Criado said that breathalyzers are only used for traffic issues, and that assessing if someone is overly intoxicated at the bar is "up to the officers' discretion." Here lies the rub. This is where the Ft. Worth Police and the TABC are going to get stroked over the rails EQUALLY. Regardless of who was rougher with the patrons, police-gay relations are already sensitive everywhere in the world. You add to it that its the south. You add to it that it is a brand new gay bar and its the officer's FIRST contact with it. Add to it the FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF STONEWALL, things are VERY sensitive. This is not a good time to leave things ambiguous and subjective. They should have gone a little extra and brought breathalyzers in and made SURE that people they arrested were INDEED at a dangerous level of intoxication.

He did point out that not everyone taken outside was arrested. The officers--as they well should--make an assessment visually or by breath or speech slurring, and then take someone outside to make the determination as to whether or not they are really overly intoxicated--away from the noise and the crowds and in better light. This right here is something I see no problem with. However, with a community where police relations are sensitive, an objective instrument like a breathalyzer must be used, and only then you should ONLY cart off people who were planning on driving home, or whose BAC is at a dangerously high level and any more drinks could lead to alcohol poisoning.

When the police are dealing with a community who have HISTORICALLY been not only harassed but even BRUTALIZED by police, its in their best interest to cover THEIR own asses to avoid this kind of firestorm. After talking to the Sgt. I do believe HE at least is not homophobic--just not familiar at all with the gay community. Looking at the pictures, I see no Ft. Worth police handling people they are talking to in inappropriate manner--though I'm disturbed by the TABC officers in the pictures holding patrons to the ground. However, there is no way to contest allegations of unfairly targeting a group if you're leaving that determination of who goes in the paddy wagon and who doesn't up to the officer's discretion. What's worth, you're putting that officer in a very awkward position. You have one officer who gets it wrong more than the others--he pulls five people out and none of them ended up being actually intoxicated--and what is now going to be said about him?

Regardless of whether he is or not, now that guy looks like a homophobe. That's a big burden to bear.

The Ft. Worth Police ought to take from this that actions need to be modified when the situation is more sensitive--more precautions taken, more care and time in planning and execution, and better care made in making an objective determination if someone, indeed, deserves to get hauled off and booked.

Speaking of that paddy wagon, apparently it IS typical--especially during the summer--for officers to bring the transport vehicle to a code inspection. That IS enforced evenly, he says they bring it to all of the code inspections. Glad I don't live in Texas!


BELOW is the press release as it was emailed to me. I want to thank Sgt. Pedro Criado for his time, his transparency and his willingness to deal with me courteously and carefully. I HOPE that the ENTIRE police force there is doing the same with EVERYONE involved. I was not there, but I'm very upset about this too. He said they are getting calls from coast to coast--some not so constructive (please DO NOT contact them just to scream, curse or call names)--and I think that this is going to turn out to be a positive learning experience for the Ft. Worth Police Dpt. They seem to me to be open to learning the lesson. Let's hope that they do.

<span class=FWPD">

Media Contact:

Sergeant Pedro Criado

817-392-4214

Pedro.Criado@fortworthgov.org

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

6/28/2009

FORT WORTH, TX -

PRESS RELEASE:

DETAILS AND SEQUENCE OF EVENTS LEADING TO A BAR CHECK AT THE RAINBOW LOUNGE:

On Thursday evening, June 6, 2009, a TABC Agent entered into NPD2 and teamed up with a patrol officer in order to conduct alcoholic beverage code inspections of area clubs. While they were out, they performed these inspections into the Friday morning hours. At approximately 10:00 p.m., Thursday evening, they stopped by the Rainbow Lounge located at 651 S. Jennings in anticipation of conducting an inspection as this club is newly opened and has not received an inspection before this date. While waiting on the supervisor to arrive, which is standard operating procedure, the owner of the Rainbow Lounge approached the officers asked if there was a problem. The TABC agent explained they were waiting on a patrol supervisor to make the scene before conducting an inspection of his establishment. An inspection at the Rainbow Lounge was not conducted on this date (Friday). Other locations, however, were inspected as a continuing effort to educate and enforce over serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals.

On Saturday morning, June 27, 2009, a person identifying himself as the owner of the Rainbow Lounge called the local police station and spoke with a supervisor to ascertain if there was a problem at the Rainbow Lounge. At approximately 3:30 p.m., a Fort Worth Police sergeant spoke with the owner of the Rainbow Lounge and explained they were conducting alcoholic beverage code inspections in the area. The owner advised the sergeant officers were welcome anytime to conduct an inspection of his establishment. The sergeant advised the owner of the Rainbow Lounge that officers would return to the area this evening to continue inspections and would inspect his establishment.

On Sunday morning, June 28, 2009, at 12:30 a.m., six (6) Fort Worth Police Officers, two (2) TABC agents and a supervisor conducted inspections at 160 W Rosedale (Rosedale Saloon and Cowboy Palace). This inspection resulted in nine (9) arrests. Once the inspection was completed at these locations, officers proceeded to the Rainbow Lounge.

Officers arrived at the Rainbow Lounge to conduct the scheduled inspection. Some officers remained outside while some entered the club. While walking through the Rainbow Lounge, an extremely intoxicated patron made sexually explicit movements toward the police supervisor. This individual was arrested for public intoxication. Another intoxicated individual also made sexually explicit movements towards another officer and he was arrested for public intoxication. A third individual inside the lounge assaulted the TABC agent by grabbing the TABC agent's groin. He was escorted outside and arrested for public intoxication. The decision was made to release him to paramedics due to his extreme intoxicated state as he was repeatedly vomiting. While dealing with this person, another officer requested assistance from inside the club as he had an intoxicated individual that was resisting arrest. This person was placed on the ground in an effort to control and apprehend. A total of seven (7) arrests were made from the Rainbow Lounge during this inspection. The total arrest count for the entire evening totaled 16.

Alcohol beverage code inspections are conducted frequently at establishments located within the city limits of Fort Worth. These are conducted in order to ensure a safe environment for all. A thorough internal investigation into the allegations made is being conducted as all allegations against officers are investigated.

For additional information, or to download any included attachments for this post, please login to the FWPD Public Information Portal at: http://www.fortworthgov.org/applications/Media/Post.aspx?PostID=548.

Monday, June 29, 2009

POST YOUR WELL WISHES FOR CHAD GIBSON IN MY COMMENTS

Chad Gibson was brutally attacked this weekend by police on a "routine code inspection" at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth Texas. He is in intensive care, and--though at last report his prognosis was decent--we have no idea what the long term effects of this police brutality will be. All of this happened on the EVE OF THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL UPRISING, ANOTHER BRUTAL GAY BAR RAID FORTY YEARS AGO. We are angry and we want IMMEDIATE change... but in the midst of this lets NOT forget about the PERSONAL TOLL that violence takes. I want this post to be to welcome positive comments of hope for Chad Gibson, which I will forward to him once I get his contact information. I have woken up in the hospital after having the shit beat out of me before. Thankfully it was not by the police and not because I was gay. It also wasn't in Fort Worth Texas, though. I know how much it meant to have my friends come see me and sit with me until I was released. I want to pour that same love out A THOUSAND FOLD to Chad Gibson. I will be SURE to keep YOU ALL updated with his condition if I learn more in the next 10 hours before the Dallas Voice offices reopens. Follow my coverage of the Rainbow Lounge incident.

PLEASE LEAVE POSITIVE MESSAGES OF SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR CHAD GIBSON HERE!

DALLAS VOICE PUBLISHES EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF RAINBOW LOUNGE RAID--NEED NEWS ON CHAD GIBSON'S CURRENT STATE.

My previous post is here.


Here is a little taste of some of the eyewitness accounts in the Dallas Voice trickling out from the Rainbow Lounge bust in Fort Worth Texas from two nights ago. The General Manager's statement is the most striking to me:
Randy Norman is general manager for the Rainbow Lounge. He said he saw a man on the dance floor, dancing, who was approached by police officers.

“They threw him down, put the zip ties on him and took him out,” Norman said. “He told them he was not drunk, and asked that they do breathalyzer on him. But they refused.”
In 2009 its unfathomable that this is even happening. This is obvious police harassment and obvious brutality and terrorism. A new gay bar opened in town, and these little-prick/big-britches douche-bags wanted to assert their dominance. I can't tell you how angry I am after reading the eyewitness accounts.

Chad Gibson remains hospitalized. Last report had him listed as in Intensive Care, though I've been having trouble verifying that. If anyone knows which hospital he is at, I would really appreciate an email. I'm waiting to hear back from the Dallas Voice as well.

At the time that this was published, my calls to the Fort Worth police department Media Relations number had not been returned. Some questions that I think we ALL want to see answered: why bring a "paddy wagon" to a code inspection? Who were the "state police?"


TEXT OF THE UPDATE: THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS RELEASE ON FT WORTH Ch 11 WEBSITE, LINKED ABOVE:

Council Members Want Investigation Of Gay Bar Raid

ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) ―

Two City Council members said Monday that the public deserves answers about a weekend police raid at a gay nightclub where a man suffered a serious head injury.

"I've asked for as thorough a report as possible ... to reassure folks that the police are not singling out any group," Councilman Joel Burns said Monday.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks said she was "very concerned" after hearing from patrons and others in the community about what happened early Sunday at the Rainbow Lounge.

Chad Gibson, 23, remains hospitalized with bleeding on the brain, his sister Kristy Morgan told Dallas-Fort Worth television station WFAA. Gibson is not violent, and "for anyone to come back and say he did something to provoke this is ludicrous," Morgan told Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW.

Fort Worth police went to the Rainbow Lounge with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents early Sunday as part of routine alcoholic beverage code inspections, said police Sgt. Chad Mahaffey. They first went to two other bars and arrested 10 people, he said.

Then officers went to the Rainbow Lounge and encountered two drunk people who made "sexually explicit movements" toward officers and another who grabbed a TABC agent's groin, according to the police report.

No one was arrested for assault but about half a dozen people were arrested on charges of public intoxication, according to police records.

Police Chief Jeff Halstead said Gibson had grabbed at the agent's groin and was so drunk he was vomiting and fell and hit his head. Gibson was one of those arrested but was taken to the hospital instead of jail.

Halstead said he did not know more details about how Gibson was injured but that the department had started an internal investigation into the raid.

The TABC is waiting on a report from the Fort Worth office about the weekend incident, but "given the concerns that have been raised, it would not be unusual" for an internal probe to be launched, said agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck.

George Armstrong, 41, said he had been at the Rainbow Lounge about 30 minutes and had ordered one drink when officers stormed inside. He said as on officer passed him, he smiled and flashed the peace sign, but then he was suddenly grabbed and tackled to the floor with his arm twisted behind his back.

"He was yelling at me to stop resisting arrest, but I wasn't doing anything. It was horrible. I really thought he had broken my shoulder," Armstrong told The Associated Press on Monday. "I've never been so embarrassed and humiliated. I didn't do anything to him."

Armstrong was arrested, but he said no officers advised him of his Miranda rights or administered any tests to determine his blood-alcohol level.

He said he noticed that other people who were arrested were injured or said they had been tackled by police.

When Armstrong was released from jail the next day, he went to the hospital, where his arm was put in a sling after X-rays determined his shoulder and back were severely bruised and strained, he said.

Armstrong said he never saw anyone inside the Rainbow Lounge make lewd gestures at or grab the officers. He said the raid happened very quickly at the club that had just reopened.

"To me it seemed like they were trying to make a point," Armstrong said.

The Human Rights Campaign on Monday also called for an investigation into the incident. It is the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

Burns said he also was disappointed that the raids took place on the 40th anniversary of New York City police raids on the Stonewall Inn, but he said police didn't realize it was the anniversary. The 1969 raid touched off demonstrations that helped lead to the gay rights movement in the U.S.

(© 2009 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

SPECIAL ROUNDUP 629 - The day after TEXAS GAY BAR raided... STONEWALL 2009!

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in NYC. Today is the livestreamed controversial White House cocktail event commemorating the evening. But all eyes, today are on TEXAS, where, on Saturday night (the night before the 40th anniversary of the uprising caused by a violent police raid) Fort Worth's new gay bar, the Rainbow Lounge, was violently raided by police. 18 people were thrown face-down on the street and then tossed into a PADDY WAGON and arrested (sound familiar?). There are many pictures and video of the incident. Sunday--THE Pride day--protesters demonstrated in front of the bar, expressing frustration that gays and lesbians are STILL experiencing the SAME treatment and terrorism that existed 40 years ago. The strange thing is that pictures and video confirm that men dressed in uniforms reading "State Police" were recorded clearly on the scene--except that Texas doesn't have a State Police! Chad Gibson--a patron whose head was slammed so hard on the pavement that he received a closed head injury--is getting worse by the minute, and could be facing some very serious health problems. Apparently, the forces on hand there were investigating "possible code violations," alleged "groping" and found people publicly intoxicated... inside of a bar. This comes just days after a poll found a majority of Texans favor legal recognition for same-sex couples.

In GREAT news, however, the Obama administration has announced they have taken steps to ensure the HIV+ travel ban is lifted by this fall. Though unfortunately, that LGBT DNC fundraiser last week raised record-setting amounts of money ($1M) for the DNC and sending the WORST possible message. The White House thanked us by announcing there will be no stop order on DADT. However, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton HAS IMPLEMENTED DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS FOR OFFICIALS ABROAD!

In IRELAND, Civil Partnerships are now available for all couples.

I really don't know who to toast today. I guess Roy, for a great weekend!

Her name is Martha Mother Fucking Wash.

FIRST, I don't want you to think that this is becoming just another queer entertainment blog. I posted Friday morning about Michael Jackson, and now I'm going to post about a bunch of 70s/80s/90s gay icons--I must be just losing my edge. I do plan on making these non-roundup posts much more current-events based. However, this weekend I traveled to Chicago for PRIDE, and enjoyed all of the entertainment that came with it, so there is no reason that I can't share something whimsical every once in a while between the topical!

This was my first Pride with no responsibilities other than show up. For the past 5 years I've been Michigan's Membership and Community events chair for the Human Rights Campaign, which placed me squarely in charge of everything Pride-related that HRC did in Michigan for a half-decade. This was not a boring or grueling responsibility--I absolutely loved it--but it IS a lot of work, and requires me to sacrifice enjoying a majority of the rest of the Pride schedule in order to attend to my managerial duties. A few years ago, I was BRIEFLY able to catch Crystal Waters at Motor City Pride, and I've been able to grab a beer and walk away from the booth for a half hour or so every other year. I didn't just do ONE Pride in Michigan--as if I would EVER do anything in a small way--I INSISTED we have a booth at EVERY Pride Festival IN the state of Michigan EVERY year (unless that Pride festival ran concurrently with another larger festival). Yes I discriminated agaist the small festivals--I was the one spending MY money to buy gas and rent rooms around across the state. I wanted to reach as many people as possible when I had to do that, no offense Washtenaw, Blue Water, Northern Michigan, Holland or Kalamazoo Prides.

However I digress.

I've attended a LOT of Prides since 2004, when I attended my first Pride--even then as a volunteer. I have never, however, just been an attendee. I've always had duties. Thousands of acts have taken and left the stage over the past 6 years without my knowledge--and I really don't mind. However, this year as I am no longer Michigan's Membership and Community Events chair, I wanted to experience my first un-obligated Pride in a big way--Chicago Pride, the midwest's biggest Pride Festival! As I had no responsibilities to schedules for the first time in over half-a-decade, however, I didn't bother to study one. I'd looked at the overall schedule for the weekend, mused running in Saturday morning's 5k--but since I'd never really NEEDED to study an "acts" schedule, it hadn't DAWNED on me to do so for the first time this year! I had no idea who they had pulled in for Pride. I'd known in Michigan whom I was missing as a matter of chance--since I would inevitably get so tied in with the leadership and set-up for the Pride, I would eventually always hear about "So-and-so has been such a HASSLE with the contract," or "Did you hear that whats-his-face might have to cancel?"

The four of us--Mike, Roy, Nathan and myself--had packed Roy up Friday afternoon and headed in Mike's beat-up-bumper-falling-off Honda Civic up I-57 to the Windy City with a cooler full of Gatorade and unpitted cherries and hearts full of excitement. Moving Roy into his new apartment! When I say we packed Roy up, I mean we packed up about 9000 cubic feet of Mike's stuff, and one box of Roy's. Roy has movers coming on Wednesday, however, so its all good. That morning I had burned "The Essential Michael Jackson" and shoved it into Mike's single disc player as we ran around town last minute doing what everyone had forgotten to do before we left, and then switched up to my personal "Pride Anthems Vol I" once we hit the highway (I've done a mix for Pride every year since that first one, but the first is still the best). Since there was only one box, the "moving Roy into his new apartment" part was particularly short, so we were quickly on our way exploring Roy's neighborhood. After a dinner at an amazing Thai restaurant about a half of a block north of Roy, we walked up about 1 more door and stumbled upon a record store ENTIRELY DEVOTED TO MADONNA!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, Roy moved to the right neighborhood.

So we see a sign up in Borderline Music advertising an Ultra Naté record signing. Being that Roy and I both love pretty much ALL of the same music (though I still don't get all that The Jets stuff) we were both very eager to learn more. The adorable Cubano boi behind the register who couldn't have been older than four (okay, he was probably 24, but he had SUCH A CUTE babyface) explained that Ultra Naté was here for Pride and would be THERE IN BORDERLINE MUSIC THE VERY NEXT DAY to sign autographs! I don't even have to describe how excited Roy and I were that we were going to be meeting Ultra Naté the very next day. This made us realize, however, that we had no idea what else was happening this weekend. We quickly grabbed up a "Pride Guide" there in the store (after our free complimentary glass of wine!) and headed up the street to explore the rest of the neighborhood while Nathan read aloud the Pride Entertainment schedule to us.

"Tonight... there's some acoustic artists named [Bob Blahblahblah] at 6:30... oh, we missed that one... then something else. Now there's a drag show, and then some Martha Wash lady--"

"MARTHA WASH?!?" Roy and I cry out in unison.

Martha Wash, the queen of clubland, is the ORIGINAL screaming big black woman in the dance music world. She began singing background for Sylvester--the original drag queen superstar--and became most famous for writing and recording "Its Raining Men" as one half of the Weather Girls. She's the voice behind Black Box's "Everybody Everybody," and "Strike it up." And, well, all of Black Box's hits. You know her best, probably, as that BIG VOICE in C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)."
.
C & C Music Factory- Gonna Make You Sweat (THE MASTER MIX)

Yes, that Martha Wash.

"WHEN?" I asked.

"Right after the drag show, at 8:00." It was 7:30 just then. "Who is she now?"

As we ran up Broadway to Pride's North Entrance, Roy and I did our best to try to sing every Martha Wash hook ever. Nathan pretty much only knew "Its Raining Men," which was good enough for him--he was excited enough for just that.

But for Roy and myself, this was like meeting the Pope.

The dreg queens that were keeping Martha off the stage only barely entertained us. Most seemed to be well under the influence of heavy horse tranquilizers, which makes me understand now why the C-Street queens seem to think that there's nothing wrong with their sleep-inducing performances. I was raised on Michigan's GREATEST female illusionists, each of which hold more trophies than the Yankees, the Cowboys and the Lakers combined. I wanted them to go away and let Martha on. Then there was this over-glorified karaoke singer--tone deaf, mind you--who did entertain me by being quite adorable and opening by singing Erasure's "Chains of Love," which I do believe I was the ONLY audience member to know every word to.

This was followed by a Drag Queen that was actually QUITE fierce, gave great face, had a HUGE headdress, turned it out AND sang her own song, which she had written and recorded. A fitting last act before the QUEEN came out.

Then she emerged--and noone has had a grander entrance at a Pride. The crowd went absolutely crazy when a voice from backstage commanded "EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!"

That night, as we drank Bud Light Lime and highlighted Nathan's hair, Roy and I went over the next day's schedule--2:30pm, Deborah Gibson... DEBBIE GIBSON?!? WHAT?!? 4:00pm, Thelma Houston... THEEE THELMA HOUSTON?!? 6:30pm, Crystal Waters--REALLY? 7:00pm Inaya Day. WHAT??? 8:00pm, Ultra Naté--YES!!!! This was like a big entertainment GAYSPLOSION! Thelma Houston, the voice of "Don't Leave me This Way," is responsible for more of my bodily injuries on the dance floor than anyone else--how can I not hurt myself when she screams out "MY HEART IS FULL OF LOVE AND DESIRE FOR YOU!!!" Inaya Day recorded some of my favorite dance covers ever--including the BEST version of "Nasty Girl," (sorry Vanity Six). Crystal Waters needs NO introduction, but if you don't know, in the 90s you heard her "100% Pure Love" EVERYWHERE and two years ago you heard "Destination Unknown," or "Destination: Calabria" at every club. However, Roy's head nearly popped when it came to Debbie Gibson--"Shake Your Love," the ballad "Lost in Your Eyes," and the ever-present (in 1987) "Only in My Dreams." Anyone shopping for school clothes at J.C. Penny, Kohls, Sears, Marshalls or Montgomery Ward in the late 80s or early 90s should know her entire catalog by heart. Michael understood who she was when we explained she is the ORIGINAL American Robin Sparkles.

The problem, Saturday morning, was schedules. When taking a trip to a city like Chicago, there is a GREAT diversity of things to do when you're not from town. The trouble is, you have so many diverse agendas on a trip like that, that its bound to lead to conflict, and you're going to miss stuff. Thelma Houston was high on my list, and I couldn't wait to see her. However, we were there that weekend for Roy, and Roy needed to look into getting a Chicago Card so that he could ride the buses and trains once he's officially moved in. We headed downtown early on Saturday to shop on Michigan Ave, except that I had no interest in spending money. I just wanted to get back to the stage and spend the day listening to some of my childhood/teenagehood/adulthood idols! After figuring out this shopping trip was not my cup of tea that day, Mike agreed to just split off, shop alone, and let Roy and I do our own thing. Roy and I head quickly to Union Station, only to find that the Chicago cards are not available there. Now we've lost Nathan. Its 2:30. Looks like we missed Debbie.

Well, luckily for Roy, but sadly for me, Thelma and Debbie had switched. Scratch one of my goals off of the list. We found Nathan, pushed him onto the train and got back just in time to catch Debbie at 4:00. Next to the stage. We were literally front row for Debbie Gibson. 21 years earlier, our seats would have been hundreds of dollars and we would have been the envies of all of our friends. I was really amused that 21 years after not caring much, I was screaming and clapping front row for Debbie Gibson--who gave us "Shake Your Love" right off the bat. She looked amazing--Roy thought too skinny--but I thought she looked awesome. I actually REALLY enjoyed her Broadway stuff. It was a lot MORE fun than a lot of the songs I hadn't really cared for in the first place. However, we still had another priority--Ultra Nate--and so when she sat at the piano for "Lost In Your Eyes," we slipped away to Ultra Naté.

Ultra was amazing, and so friendly. When we started talking to her, it was like we had been friends for years! Before we left, I thought her and Roy were going to move in together. But by that point, we had missed Crystal Waters, and still needed to find Michael (and now Nathan again).

By the end of the night, we effectively missed everyone else I was excited to see. However, I was so excited to have met Ultra Naté and Martha Wash, and seen Debbie Gibson and Martha live! What was best, however, was NOT living tied to the Pride schedule. Missing my favorite artists was freeing in a way. Had it been another year, I would have HAD to be at a certain place at a certain time. However, I was liberated by flying by my pants. Maybe next time, however, just two of us would be good. Fewer agendas means even MORE time to just run around doing what I want!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering the Michael that once was.

Michael Jackson was no hero. He lived a life of seclusion and isolation, surrounded himself with fantasy and delusion. Regardless of how you feel about whether or not he did 'it' we can all agree that his life as an out of touch recluse was certainly bizarre and made him target to every type of joke. Since the album HIStory came out, Michael has been an ugly characature of himself--out of touch with reality, and being very adept at making all of our skin crawl.

Let's go back, however, 25 years--before most of my readers were even born--when a superstar was born and the music industry was changed forever. Today, I'd like to remember the M.J. that once was--once was the most powerful man in the entertainment industry, and the idol of BILLIONS of people worldwide.

When I was 1, I wasn't paying much attention to music. The year was 1983 and the record company named for my hometown--Motown--was celebrating 25 powerful years. Motown had changed music forever, creating a hit factory and furthering the development of Rock & Roll from it's infancy as a blues offshoot, to a grown-up genre that would become the most importand movement in musical history. In the midst of Motown's meteoric rise was a group of five little boys from Gary, Indiana, and one little boy with a voice like noone else on the planet. The Jackson Five's harmonious and bluesy brand of rock and roll helped set the foundation for the early pioneers of Funk and Disco and--ultimately--all Dance music as we know it today. Michael made history as a young teen when his first solo number-one single, the song "Ben" theme of the movie of the same name, made him the third youngest person with a number-one hit, and earned him Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. He performed "Ben" live at the Oscars 10 years before Motown 25.

Which brings us to my era. In 1983, Michael was the first artist to have four album singles peak in the Billboard Top 10 four years earlier on Off The Wall, but he was still just the solo act from The Jackson Five. That night, March 25, 1983, as Michael Jackson prepared to perform the second single off of the Thriller Album, "Billie Jean," the world had no clue what was about to happen. Michael Jackson moonwalked on stage for the first time in front of over 45 million viewers, and the buzz hit a fever pitch like it never had before. Thriller--whose first single, Paul McCartney duet "The Girl is Mine" was considered 'good not great'--went on to become the best selling album of all time at over 109 Million copies sold. One of which was in my living room.

As a toddler I remember being FASCINATED with Michael Jackson. I viewed the world in its relationship to two people: Michael and Madonna (whom, as a naive three year old, I thought would someday get married). When at about four or five I first began to become aware of the black civil rights struggle that took place in my parents' youth, my first inquiry about separate drinking fountains; back of the bus; and segregation was "Did they do that to Michael Jackson when he was a kid too?" When Michael Jackson met Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, I mused at how lucky these two guys were to meet the most important man alive. At 3, the "Thriller" video was my favorite thing about television (that and "Material Girl, of course). I don't remember any Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers episodes from my childhood, but I remember dozens of MJ television appearances. I learned 20th Century history in terms of its relationship to Michael Jackson's life.

With socially conscious songs like "We are the World," and "Man in the Mirror," I saw the importance of compassion and empathy. I think Michael Jackson might have given me my first lesson on social justice, which is no wonder that social justice is my number one passion to this day. Bad was the first CD that my family purchased. I learned to moonwalk and dance like Michael in the "The Way You Make Me Feel" video. I was astounded by the magic of the "Smooth Criminal" video and gasped in awe at the crazy animation of "Leave Me Alone."

I remember one MTV special I watched as a kid--Michael live from Budapest, in the last days of the Soviet Union when American artists were first allowed to perform in the Soviet states. The concert looked epic--but the real show was in the audience. Men and women of all ages were fainting in the crowd and being carried away in stretchers. Every forty or fifty seconds, it seemed, the camera was focusing on another passed-out Hungarian. I was amazed. I asked my father, "why are so many people passing out?"

"These people have been under Communist control their whole lives. They've been sneaking tapes of Michael Jackson and rock and roll in under penalty of prison and persecution. Now they get to see him live. This is freedom to them."

Right then and there Michael Jackson became a symbol of freedom for the world to me. And not just to me, Michael was a symbol of the success of the Civil Rights movement. In Michael's boyhood, a black man could never expect to hold a position of power, a place of prominence. Now the most famous man in the world was a black man from Indiana--admired and loved in every nation on earth, with loyalty from every single demographic--young and old, all genders, nationalities and religious backgrounds. Michael Jackson stood for unity--even if it was unity over nothing more than pop music. It was symbolic. The world was becoming closer--old barriers were breaking down, old rules were being erased and being replaced with new more inclusive ones.

This morning as I wrote and listened to my MJ catalog, "HIStory" came on which really summed it all up for me. Michael Jackson was a flawed creature, and in the end, his legacy was tarnished. Yet, there is no denying that legacy: Michael has secured himself a solid place in the pantheon of history because of the lives he touched and the people he made very happy during the height of his career. He may have fallen far, but that was only because he had so far to fall--he reached a zenith that few people ever will for the next million years. And best of all, it was through a message of positivity, love and happiness. Everything he did in his career he did to make people happy, and to bring more joy into the world. He also changed the industry for good in favor of artists over recording companies--something that has brought us much higher quality mainstream music ever since. He set a threshold and a work-ethic that compels our musicians to work harder and set higher goals--which in turn inspires us all. And he taught us all to LOVE dancing.

If there is no other reason to love him, its that he made dancing very cool.

Whatever his flaws, he will be terribly, terribly missed, and I for one am very sad he is gone, but cherish his legacy with my whole heart.

TOAST TO MICHAEL.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

ROUNDUP 625 - CONTACT YOUR SENATOR NOW ABOUT SAVING THE HATE CRIMES BILL!



UPDATE 3: IGNORE REPORTS ON JEFF GOLDBLUM OR HARRISON FORD'S DEATHS--THEY ARE STILL ALIVE, HERE IS THE LINK! I got cited on one of the best LGBT websites in the world for this tip: BILERICO!

FIRST|| FARRAH FAWCETT HAS PASSED AWAY--GOD REST HER SOUL. IN ADDITION, MICHAEL JACKSON HAS SUFFERED CARDIAC ARREST, AND IS IN DIRE STRAITS. I'm not going to lie, I'm not feeling good about that. He's a screwed up beast of a man, but the music he made still means a lot to me.

Meanwhile, the Republican party continues to lose credibility on the "moral values" meme. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARK SANFORD. Yesterday, FoxNews decided to identify him as a Democrat instead of a Republican... all afternoon. I'm sure they'll just write it off as a clerical error... and I'm sure Ethel Backwater in Swansoon Louisiana will notice the retraction as it quickly scrolls the bottom of her screen while she watches her Bill O'Reiley, wondering why Democrats are all so slimy and Republicans so Godly!

In.D.C|| Roll Call details a House Leadership meeting to hash out the plan to get AN LGBT EQUALITY BILL PASSED AND SIGNED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY!

Attorney General Holder urged Congress to pass a new LGBT HATE CRIMES BILL. Here is his statement. The HATE CRIMES BILL, however, is being attached to the Dept. of Defense Authorization Bill, which could mean that it could become casualty to the tug-of war that normally accompanies this bill; Bil Browning at Bilerico and Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend are both pretty certain that the bill is doomed to die. YOU ARE BEING URGED TO CALL YOUR SENATOR RIGHT NOW TO TELL THEM TO SAVE THIS BILL! Listen to the Shepards on CNN discuss the bill in honor of their slain son. Judy is such a remarkable lady. I've had the fortune to meet her twice now, and she gave me a big hug the first time she met me. She's incredible.

NOW that ENDA is on the schedule for the House, YOU need to sign up for a FACE-TO-FACE meeting with YOUR Representative. Mine is Tim Johnson, and I've sent a letter to him about ENDA, and I hope to follow it up with a Face-to-Face meeting--who is your Rep, and have you contacted them yet?

STATE2STATE|| DELAWARE has after 10 years finally passed their anti-discrimination bill!

AROUND/THE/GLOBE|| Check out this AMAZING anti-prejudice poster from ITALY; I wish we could do something as in your face as this all over America! In TURKEY, the football referee that was fired for being gay is fighting back. In ISRAEL, thousands turn out for Jerusalem's gay Pride!

PINK$BUCK|| SiriusXM--the same company that brings us OutQ--has hired on Rosie O'Donnell for her own satellite radio show!

OURstory|| Pride and Preservation online video series--please visit and learn!

TOAST TO BETH WHO DID AN AMAZING JOB WITH MY MOHAWK TODAY!