Thursday, June 30, 2016

Random Musings

Carlos doesn’t see well in the dark, and his eyesight really suffers when we walk into a dark restaurant from the bright sunlight.

Last week, we ate at Cantina 76, a taqueria near downtown Columbia, and so, as I do, I walked behind Carlos in the restaurant telling him where to go. Sadly, I said,

“The hostess has our table right there on the right.”

And Carlos tried to sit down at a table that was already occupied.

Luckily we were able to giggle about that.
Bye Felicia … and Felicia …

This week in South Carolina voters sent a slew of incumbents to the unemployment line and here they are ….

Senator Mike Fair, who voted to remove books from colleges that, ahem, promoted the homosexual agenda by telling stories about gay people, is out. In the June 14 Republican primary, William Timmons unseated Fair, the twenty-one-year incumbent by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

South Carolina Senator Lee Bright, who tried and tried and tried and failed and failed and failed, to get a Bathroom bill passed in South Carolina, is also gone.

Sure, they were replaced by other Republicans, but being bigots and haters and anti-LGBT it’s nice to see them go … before someone dropped a house on them.
Remember when Mike Huckabee cheered alongside Kentucky Kounty Klerk Kim Davis at that rally last year while Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blared over the loud-speaker?

Well, it turns out that failed and failed and failed Republican presidential candidate Huckabee will have to pay $25,000 due to copyright infringement. And when his campaign was sued for copyright infringement, an out-of-court settlement was reached and Huckabee was required to pay $25,000 for the error.

He paid half in May but the other half he tried to have listed as campaign “debts and obligations.” Huckabee petitioned the Federal Elections Commission to start a legal defense fund to pay the remaining amount, but the organization issued a statement saying he’d need to alleviate the debt on his own.

Basically, they gave Huckabee the finger and said pay for your own debts, you stupid asshat.
In Hot Men on TV …

Devious Maids trotted out a new gay character, hairdresser Fabian, who is Genevieve’s new Best Gay Friend, or Gaybian. He’s played by cutie Broadway vet, Christopher Hanke.

And over on Ray Donovan, we met sleeping-with-his-half-sister, boxer, Hector, played by Ismael Cruz Cordova; torts adorbs, and a little beefy man.

And lastly, back on Devious Maids, Ryan McPartlin plays a hot nerd, and I wish he’d be a Hot Gay Nerd but one cannot have everything.
In Sweet Gay news …

For Pride last week, the NYPD rolled out a new patrol car.

This one, a Ford Interceptor, unlike the traditional blue striped police vehicles, was emblazoned with rainbow-stripes and heart stickers that read “NYC Pride 2016,” and “Our ♥ goes out to Orlando.” And, rather than the slogan “Courtesy Professionalism Respect” this car said, “Pride Equality Peace” and “NYPD out and proud.”

Times change, y’all.
In other Stupid Politician News and from the She Isn't Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader File:

A ten-year old boy asked half-term, half-wit, former Alaska Governor Mama Grizzly Bore™ how she could endorse and support The Rump after his infamous "blood" comments and attacks on Fox News host Megyn Kelly:
“How come you're endorsing Donald Trump? How can you endorse someone who’s sexist?”
And how did the MGB™, who plays up the fact that, at least she thinks, she’s a good mother, respond?
“Donald Trump isn’t sexist. If he were, I wouldn’t be endorsing him.”
And then she walked away because, well, she’s not smarter than a fifth-grader.
NOM doesn’t know when to give up, though their supporters have abandoned ship.

Last week NOM held its fourth consecutive anti-same-marriage march … ironically nearly a year to the day after they lost that battle and literally fives of tens of people showed up.

Last year’s march drew about 3,000 haters but it was held just before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Brian Brown, the last NOM man standing, tried to spin that march as saying 15,000 showed up.

Can’t wait to see how he spins tens into thousands this year.
In other It’s Funny Cuz It’s True News …

It used to be that speaking at the Republican National Convention was kind of a career-maker and a way to get your name out there in front of GOP donors and activists; people begged to speak at the convention.

This year? Not so much.

A convention that will probably see The Rump crowned the GOP nominee will have little to no big names speaking because, well, The Rump. In fact, many in the GOP, those big names, won’t be going to Cleveland at all.

The Rump’s team is oddly silent about whom it’ll extend speaking invitations, but most of the party’s most prominent politicos aren’t interested.

Last I heard the biggest name was Mike Tyson and Clint Eastwood’s chair.
In Hot Cats On TV News …

It looks like Tuxedo is auditioning for Corpse # 4 on an upcoming episode of Major Crimes.

Meanwhile Ozzo will be playing Rip Van Winkle at Doggy Day Care, with MaxGoldberg in the audience. Consuelo Roca-Jones, Miss Jones to you, will be watching it all from her spot in the balcony.

Mitch McConnell Screwed America on Gun Control ... All In The Name Of The NRA

So, what did Mitch McConnell, who worships ate the altar of the NRA and keeps his permanently pursed lips pressed tightly to Wayne LaPierre’s sphincter, do in the days following the mass shooting in Orlando, in the days after that fifteen-hour filibuster to demand action on gun control, following that epic 26-hour Democratic sit-in, in regards to the news that ninety-percent of Americans, including Republicans, want some form of gun control?

Well, he covered his ass because it’s an election year and dead Americans don’t matter to Mitch McConnell as much as staying in office and cashing those Blood Checks from the NRA.

Yup, mere minutes after House Democrats ended their historic sit-in to demand that Speaker Paul Ryan allow a vote on gun control, Mitch McConnell let it be known that he was going to allow the Senate to vote on two gun control bills making it look like he was coming down on the side of humanity, of stopping this gun crazed lunacy in the country, of finally doing the right thing for We The People.

Except he didn’t; both bill failed, as McConnell had planned. Now he can shrug and say, “I tried,” and then go back to snogging LaPierre’s bunghole.

McConnell allowed the Senate to vote on Senator Susan Collins’ bipartisan version of the "no fly, no buy" terrorism watch list bill — which the NRA opposes — and he would allow a vote on Senator Ron Johnson’s NRA-endorsed bill; or, at least a bill the NRA didn’t “officially” endorse.

The Collins Bill would also mandate FBI notification if anyone who has been on the terror watch list within the past five years tried to purchase a firearm; the NRA calls that unconstitutional.

The Johnson Bill would mandate that the Department of Justice have a mere three days to find a reason to deny a gun purchase to someone who is or had been on the no fly or terror watch lists; after the wait, and considering no name on the list, the weapons could be purchased.

But since Mitch McConnell serves only Satan, er, Wayne LaPierre, he used a procedural tactic to assure the failure of both bills.

When Collins Bill survived an initial "test" vote — something it was not expected to do — McConnell swung into action and suddenly put both bill up together, thereby splitting the number of votes that the Collins bill could have gotten. And then to make it even more difficult, the Collins Bill vote was not to pass it, but to fail it; in effect, if you voted ‘Yes’ on the Collins Bill it was a vote to fail it.

Yes = Bad.
No = More NRA checks for Mitch McConnell.

The Collins bill got 52 votes, but not the 60 needed to pass, so the Senate, and Mitch McConnell, can say they tried, but the votes just aren't there.

They tried; the GOP tried. But, in effect, what they did was to make it look like they wanted some form of gun control, especially the part about allowing people on a terror watch list buy guns, but what they did was to make sure that fellow Republicans, and NRA goose-stepping, ass-kissing lapdogs, like Senators Ron Johnson, John McCain, Rob Portman, Richard Burr, Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio—who said he was done with the Senate when he was running for president but that was apparently a lie—are up for challenging reelection races this fall.

So, Mitch McConnell never wanted gin control; he wanted to make it look like he wanted gun control, and then he worked to make the NRA-opposed bill, the Collins Bill, fail, so he could save himself and the rest of his GOP cronies and their cushy jobs at the expense of dead Americans.

How you like the GOP now?

Well, then, Vote Them Out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Architecture Wednesday: Eberl Residence

Last week was all about a place that seemed a world away but really was just a stone’s throw from Downtown Miami.

So, this week, we’re headed to the Rockies … way up in the Rockies, a true world away.

A luxury home crafted of traditional building materials for Colorado — wood and stone — while offering a modern, open feel. Still, the architect chose to integrate the home into the landscape, around trees and boulders, up hills and down.

The home was designed for a cowboy and an artist, with an emphasis on massive raw steel beams juxtaposed with refined larch cabinetry, heavy lashed timber set off by the lightness of window walls.

Monolithic stone walls lay perpendicular to a curved ridge, organizing the home as they converge in the protected entry courtyard. The walls radiate outwards from there, both dividing and capturing spacious interior volumes and distinct views to the forest, the meadow, and the Rockies.

It truly is a getaway home …

Good News, Bad News: South Carolina Has Its First Openly Gay Legislator

Last week, while driving home from Columbia, a car pulled in front of us, forcing me to hit the brakes to avoid a collision and forcing me to unleash a torrent of foul language … and something about lesbians not knowing how to drive. See, it was a woman who nearly caused the wreck and there was a wee rainbow flag bumpersticker on her car so … yeah, Lesbian’s are bad drivers and F-bomb, F-bomb, F-bomb.

Carlos asked why I was picking on my LGBT sister and I said something to the effect of ‘Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re not an asshat.’

There are gay asshats and straight asshats; black asshats and white asshats; male and female asshats. Republican and Democrat asshats, though that number seems to skew a bit more to the right. But your sexual orientation doesn’t preclude you from asshattery, which leads me to the Good News and Bad News …

Next January, Greenville attorney Jason Elliott will become South Carolina’s first openly gay lawmaker, representing a portion of Greenville that includes conservative and virulently homophobic Bob Jones University.

Elliott is taking his win over incumbent Wendy Nanney — who recently authored the state’s new highly restriction abortion law — as a sign that the GOP … oh, yeah, he’s a Republican … is a more inclusive party.

Still, Good News, right? South Carolina’s first gay representative! I instantly began re-writing a song from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas — the tune ‘Texas Has a Whorehouse in It’ — into ‘The Statehouse Has a Homo In it.’ And I was also kinda pleased that Elliott wasn’t playing the ‘I’m a gay congressman card,’ but instead was saying:
“I am a Republican and proud to be one. I’m also proud of the fact that I’m a white male, 6 foot, 2 inches with too much gray hair for 45 — and also happen to be gay.”
I mean, does gay have to be our main identifier? Am I a gay man or a man who happens to be gay? Am I that one thing or am I many things? I tend to prefer the latter, myself, starting with the big picture, and working inward … human being, male, white, gay, though I like to think sarcastic and hysterically funny fit in there, too, before The Gay.

Anyway. I liked that we have an openly gay man in the House until …

He is an anti-choice, gun-loving, [t]Rump supporter:
“Trump speaks to the frustration of the American people. I understand that frustration.”
And so maybe I do more readily identify with The Gay part of me because any self-respecting gay man, whether he starts with the gay or ends with it, who will support a man who’s formed an evangelical team of anti-LGBT leaders, doesn’t know from The Gay.

Cue a slew of F-bombs about gay asshats. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Rump Says Something Stupid [AGAIN!!!] And Twitter Goes Nuts

Last week the United Kingdom voted to Brexit … to exit the European Union [EU] in favor of isolationism, xenophobia, and economic collapse.

In effect, they built a wall around Great Britain to keep out the brown-skinned immigrants fleeing the Middle East.

Sound familiar? Walls? Xenophobia? Anti-immigrant?

Sound stupid? Well, here’s stupid. Donald [t]Rump was in Scotland the day of the vote and as the results were announced he Tweeted:

Now, to be fair [t]Rump is an ignorant turd who gets his facts from Melania when she’s posing nude for a men’s magazine, but even he had to have been aware, even his people had to have made him aware, that Scotland overwhelmingly voted — 62% to 38%  to stay in the EUU.

Yes, the man running for president cannot even get a simple fact right.

And so the great thing was the Twit-response from some Scottish folks, and others, to The Rump:

And there you have it, the man who would be president — goddess help us all — doesn’t even know what’s going on in the UK … when he’s in the UK.

Oh ... and "fucktrumpet"!!

Being Transgender In High School ... In Pittsburgh ... In Utah

Late last week, calling it the right thing to do for some of their “most vulnerable” children, the Pittsburgh Public School board voted unanimously to enact a nondiscrimination policy that outlines the rights, protections and support systems that area schools must provide for transgender students.

The guidelines allow transgender students to use bathrooms and participate in physical education classes and intramural sports that align with their gender identity; even better, it asks that trans students be addressed by their preferred name and gender pronoun. Trans students may  request alternative accommodations, including a private office restroom, curtain partition or a separate changing space if they feel uncomfortable but the new policy also makes it clear that “under no circumstance should any student be required to use sex-segregated faculties that are inconsistent with their gender identity.”

It’s a move in the right direction, and a continuing understanding of what it means to be transgender; it’s a good move for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

But … at the very same time, Utah’s Alpine School District board members are pushing the district to reject $40 million in federal funding because of the Obama administration’s order for public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Basically, they’re saying, ‘Keep your 40 million, we want to discriminate transgender students instead.’

I guess teaching hate is better than having an extra $40 million in your school budget.

Mississippi Told To Knock Off Their Lame Attempts To Circumvent Marriage Equality

A year ago this past Sunday, the Supreme Court ruled that The Gays were free to marry the person they loved and we rejoiced.

Well, most of us rejoiced; Mississippi did not. In fact, after that SCOTUS ruling Mississippi passed a law allowing county clerks to recuse themselves from granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples because, well, God Hates Fags Who Get Married … or something.

Then, this week, a year and a day after Obergefell, Federal Judge Carlton Reeves told Mississippi to ‘knock it off,’ though in more legal terms than that; he said the state’s newly passed law allowing clerks to Just Say No Cuz The Baby Jeebus — i.e. their religious beliefs — was just a lame attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision.

Reeves was particularly critical of the decision of state officials to respond to the Obergefell ruling by passing such a law and taking other related actions aimed at avoiding the existing injunction:
“The Fifth Circuit long ago chastised our State for such ‘a carefully calculated campaign of delay … and masterly inactivity’ … Mississippi’s elected officials may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example. But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session.”
Sometimes you gotta drag these states kicking and screaming into the 21st century and simple equality and Civil Rights.

Still, one would have thought Mississippi might have learned their Civil Rights lesson last century.

Monday, June 27, 2016

President Obama Declares Stonewall A National Monument

A week ago, President Obama declared that his Obama administration would designate the Stonewall Inn. In his weekly address, President Obama explained why he made that decision:
"The story of America is a story of progress.  It’s written by ordinary people who put their shoulders to the wheel of history to make sure that the promise of our founding applies not just to some of us – but to all of us. 
"Farmers and blacksmiths who chose revolution over tyranny.  Immigrants who crossed oceans and the Rio Grande.  Women who reached for the ballot, and scientists who shot for the moon.  The preachers, and porters, and seamstresses who guided us toward the mountaintop of freedom.
"Sometimes, we can mark that progress in special places — hallowed ground where history was written — places like Independence Hall.  Gettysburg.  Seneca Falls.  Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.  The Edmund Pettus Bridge.  
"One of these special places is the Stonewall Inn.  Back in 1969, as a turbulent decade was winding down, the Stonewall Inn was a popular gathering place for New York City’s LGBT community.  At the time, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender was considered obscene, illegal — even a mental illness. 
"One night, police raided the bar, and started arresting folks.  Raids like these were nothing new — but this time, the patrons had had enough. So they stood up, and spoke out, and over the course of the next several days, they refused to be silenced.  The riots became protests; the protests became a movement; the movement ultimately became an integral part of America.
"Over the past seven years, we’ve seen achievements that would have been unimaginable to the folks who, knowingly or not, started the modern LGBT movement at Stonewall.
Today, all Americans are protected by a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.  'Don’t ask, don’t tell' is history.  Insurance companies can no longer turn you away because of who you are.  Transgender Americans are more visible than ever, helping to make our nation more inclusive and welcoming for all.  And one year ago this weekend, we lit the White House in every color — because in every state in America, you’re now free to marry the person you love.
"There’s still work to do.  As we saw two weeks ago in Orlando, the LGBT community still faces real discrimination, real violence, real hate.  So we can’t rest.  We’ve got to keep pushing for equality and acceptance and tolerance. 
"But the arc of our history is clear — it’s an arc of progress.  And a lot of that progress can be traced back to Stonewall.  So this week, I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights.  I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country — the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.  That we are stronger together.  That out of many, we are one.  That’s what makes us the greatest nation on earth.  And it’s what we celebrate at Stonewall — for our generation and for all those who come after us."
As I have said many, many times over the last seven years, “Thanks Obama.”

Forty-Seven Years Ago Today

It was forty-seven years ago today … a lifetime to some of us, a minute to some others … but it marked a turning point for the LGBT community. It marked one of the first, and definitely the loudest, times that gay men and women stood up en masse and said:
“No. We will not be treated like this any longer!”
The weekend of June 27-29, 1969 began what is considered to be the modern day LGBT movement. Oh sure, there were gay and lesbian activists before that weekend, but the confrontation between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City lit a fire in the hearts of the LGBT community like it had never been done before.

And like any good story, there is controversy surrounding the Stonewall Riots; there are arguments and differences over what happened, over how it started, over how it ended. But the main thing we need all remember is that it did happen, and it should continue to be a rallying cry for the LGBT community to be considered equal in the eyes of America.

It all began Friday, June 27, 1969, when the world was still mourning the death of Judy Garland a week earlier. Could it be that the death of one of the most famous gay icons was what sparked the fire of the modern day LGBT Rights Movement?

There are many people who have speculated that Garland's death did push the gay community into the streets of New York City that night, but it was also hot, and some folks say it was the heat that spurred the fight.

I think maybe it was both Garland's death and the hot summer night; or maybe it was just that our brothers and sisters had finally had enough of being told what to do, what not to do, and how to live our lives. Whatever the reason, it was enough; finally, enough.

In the early morning hours of June 28, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a small bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. Stonewall, like other predominantly gay bars in the city was routinely raided by the police, and, typically, the more “deviant” patrons — the drag queens and the butch lesbians, especially if they were black — were the ones who were arrested and taken away, while white, male customers looked on or quietly disappeared.

On this night, the charge at the Stonewall was the illegal sale of alcohol. The raid began as they always did: plainclothes and uniformed police officers entered the bar, arrested the employees, and began ejecting the customers one by one into the street. For some reason, however, the crowd that had gathered outside the Stonewall, a somewhat campy and festive crowd, began to cheer as the patrons were pushed out of the bar.

But soon the mood changed; it was Judy Garland's death, or the summer heat, or the fact that the summer of 1969 was a particularly busy one for police raids on gay bars … or maybe it was seeing drag queens and lesbians being pushed and shoved and kicked into paddy wagons.

Whatever it was, the on-lookers lost their patience. No one really knows who threw the first punch; some say it was a drag queen, some say it was a rather butch-looking lesbian, but someone defied the police that night … someone had finally had enough.

The crowd — well over a hundred people by now — suddenly exploded; people began hurling coins at police officers, and then moved on to rocks and bottles, whatever they could grab. The police, at first stunned that the normally docile and shamed-into-submission homosexuals would react in such a fashion, soon began beating the crowds with nightsticks, but this group was too sad and too hot and too angry to be pushed down again, and police officers were forced to take refuge inside the Stonewall.

As news spread throughout Greenwich Village the crowd grew ever larger; many residents, some gay, some not, raced down to the Stonewall Inn to join the fight. Lighter fluid was squirted inside the bar and someone tried to light it; others grabbed a downed parking meter and used it as a battering ram against the front of the Stonewall; someone began chanting "Gay Power!"

And then the riot-control police unit arrived to rescue the trapped officers and break up the demonstration; it took them over an hour to disperse the crowd and, in an effort to taunt their attackers, a group of drag queens began to sing at the top of their lungs:
We are the Stonewall girls
We wear our hair in curls
We wear no underwear
We show our pubic hair
We wear our dungarees
Above our nelly knees!
That first Stonewall Riot ended in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 28, but the fight was far from over. That night a second riot broke out and the crowd now numbered in the thousands, filling the streets in the name of Gay Pride. They marched to the Stonewall Inn and waited for the police to arrive; and they did, in the early morning of Sunday, June 29. The crowds fought, rioted, screamed and chanted, and the police squads worked to arrest who they could and send the others home.

For over a week, though in smaller numbers, protests and demonstrations continued in Greenwich Village. There was finally a sense in the gay community of what could be accomplished if we banded together, if we came out, if we were seen, if we were heard.

Being angry created a new day, and a month after the riots, the Gay Liberation Front [GLF] was formed. Radical and leftist, the GLF was one of many politically focused lesbian and gay organizations formed in the days and weeks following the riots. The number of lesbian and gay publications skyrocketed as well, which led to an even greater sense of community. We were no longer marginalized in society; we were out; we were proud; we weren’t going to sit by and watch our brothers and sisters be treated as less than any longer.

Since that weekend, marches have taken place in New York City — and all over the world — every year on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In June 1994, hundreds of thousands of people converged in Greenwich Village to celebrate Stonewall's 25th anniversary and in 1999 the United States government proclaimed the Stonewall Inn a national historic site. The following year, the status of the Stonewall was improved to "historic landmark," a designation held by only a small percentage of historical sites.

Stonewall is our Plymouth Rock. It's where the gay community landed and came together and began the march toward equality. Stonewall was our first glimpse of a new world where we weren't alone, we weren't all that different, where we belonged.

It makes no difference how it started; the death of an icon; the summer heat; a sense of frustration. It makes no difference who started it; drag queens or lesbians; coin tossers or rock throwers. The difference is that it happened.

Forty-seven years ago today.

Still, the march, and the fight goes on; we’ve seen so many changes in these last decades; equality; marriage; non-discrimination laws. But we’ve also seen hatred, and, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen our brothers and sisters gunned down in another club, another bar, perhaps simply for being gay and out and open.

And so we’ll pick up again, and we’ll continue to fight against that hatred, and we’ll continue to stand with, and for, our community, and let everyone know that we are here, and we are queer.

Get used to it.