Archive | June 2020

On the last day of Pride Month: Police Brutality and Religious Bigots

“The Supreme Court ruled that police have no duty to protect or serve. This guns are not for your protection.”

Several federal cases (including to the Supreme Court) have reached the same conclusion, the police have no obligation to protect the public, nor can they be sued for failing to do so (Warren v. District of Columbia, Lynch v. NC Dept. of Justice, Riss v. New York)

Aggressive NYPD Officers Rough Up, Pepper Spray Peaceful ‘Queer Liberation March’ Participants.

Of course they did. Because that’s what they do. They inflict violence on people they perceive have no power, and that they believe will lose any we said/cop said scenario. They almost always escalate. It’s a version of the old “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Police academy training primes them to assume that everyone not wearing a badge is just someone waiting for an excuse to attack them, and they only tools they believe they can rely on are violence and the complicity of their fellow officers.

The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It.

Sticker on the base of a light pole reads, “Stonewall wasn't about Marriage Equality, it was about police violence.”

The Stonewall Riots, usually cited as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, was a reaction to police brutality and harassment.

Which is why we’re protesting and making various demands. Congress critters claim they have heard us and are ready to get serious on reform. One of the problems is that one of the only tools Congress has is money. Which means that any reform bill they come up with is going to result in more money going to police departments, not less.

If they were serious at reform they would look at those federal cases, we see that in the eyes of the law, cops are just crime accountants, not crime fighters. Their only obligations are to observe and record the aftermath of crimes, not prevent crimes, and not even to arrest criminals if they don’t want to.

So what we need is a Law Enforcement Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed various kinds of discrimination under an argument that while the Constitution guarantees basic civil rights, it doesn’t always spell out what those rights are. Though the Tenth Amendment does say that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution belong to the States and to the People. And the Fourteenth Amendment says that no person can be deprived of the equal protection of the law and that citizens can’t have their rights abridged has often been interpreted as affirming that people are entitled to rights not spelled out elsewhere. That was most of the legal justification of the Civil Rights Act: at attempt by Congress to define what some of those unspecified rights are, and to provide a framework for the enforcement of both enumerated and unspecified rights.

The Law Enforcement Act could extend that framework, though the points I suggest such an Act must have can be read right out of one ennumerated right from the First Amendment, and one part of the Fourteenth.

Lots of people claim all sorts of things are protected by the First Amendment, and I don’t want to get into that debate. For this purpose, I’m going to stick to the text. One of the rights specifically mentioned in the First Amendment that most people forget about is the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” My proposed Law Enforcement Act would define the following things as part of that right to petition the Government:

  • The right to sue individual police, police departments, and local and state governments which fund those police departments for failure to protect ordinary residents, or for police misconduct that harms a person or deprives them of property, or for wrongful death. In other words, repeal limited immunity.
  • The right to require public hearings for police misconduct allegations, and a right for ordinary residents who make such allegations to appeal any findings of the misconduct hearings to a civil authority outside the police department.
  • The right to demand judicial review of clauses of police union contracts which in any way impede those aforementioned rights
  • the right to have any property seized through asset forfeiture returned (and in the case of cash, with interest) unless there is a conviction by a jury of a crime related to said assets. (I would prefer that asset forfeiture be outlawed completely, but I know that’s not going to happen.)

Next, turning to the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the rights that it forbids States from infringing is “the equal protection of the laws.” And so the act should spell out the equal protection includes:

  • An obligation of the police to protect all persons within their jurisdiction.
  • Any State the fails to enact laws that protect the rights listed in the Act shall be denied all federal monies for any current or future program to support law enforcement.

There are a lot of others things that Act ought to have, but if we can just get the right to sue the police and government over misconduct and failure to protect citizens, the stick of all those lawsuits is going to force police reform.

Let’s change topics

“So you oppose gay rights because of the Bible? Unless you also try to outlaw: Shrimp cocktail (Lev 11:9), Cursing (Lev 24:16), Women's jeans (Deut 22:5), Lying (Prov 12:22), Bacon (Lev 11:7), Adultery (Deut 22:23), Working on Sunday (Num 15:32) Please shut the hell up!”

Yes, please! (Click to embiggen)

Since the surprisingly pro-LGBTQ pro-trans Supreme Court ruling about employment discrimination, I have heard and read a lot of queer folks incorrectly saying that the Court found employment discrimination about queer folks unconstitutional. No. The ruling was not about constitutionality. It was a statutory interpretation ruling. It was a logical recognition that discrimination against LGBTQ people is a form of sex discrimination. The ruling could probably be undone by the simple passage of a law of Congress that “clarifies” the meaning of sex discrimination in the earlier law.

Now, as long as the Democrats control at least one house of Congress, that isn’t likely to happen. And, heck, if you noticed how few Republican Senators put out a spirited criticism of the ruling, reflects the reality that a large majority of voters support the ruling, so support for such a bill is likely soft on the Republican side.

However, religious freedom is explicitly protected in the Constitution, so we shouldn’t be surprised if, before the Court adjourns for the summer, one of those so-called Religious Freedom cases doesn’t walk much of that ruling back (Like Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru which was just argued last month). And whether it does or not, we can expect a lot more attempts to invalidate our lives in the name of religion.

Anti-LGBTQ industry will speed up usage of religious beliefs as a discrimination weapon after SCOTUS loss.

Indianapolis Catholic Schools’ New Policy Forces Gender Conformity on Trans Kids.

Confessions of a rainbow wearing queer geek in quarantine

Queer Geek

Yep, that’s me!

If this has been a normal year, for this weekend my husband and I would have checked into the hotel where the Locus Awards Weekend is happening on Friday. We would attend the reading and evening events there, then the panels on Saturday morning and the book signing, then the awards banquet…. When on Sunday morning we wouldcheck out, confirm with the hotel we can leave the car in the parking garage until 4pm, and walk two blocks to watch part of the Seattle Pride Parade, then walk a couple more blocks to see the Pride Festival, buy t-shirts or other things that catch our eye, before heading 8 miles north to our home.

Last year the festival put all the booths that were gaming stores, comics shops, and two publishers that specialize in queer comics and such inside one of the air conditioned buildings. It was almost as if there were a mini queer sci fi convention going on within the Pride festival!

When I was much younger, 4pm wouldn’t have been late enough to have free parking on Pride Day, but my knees aren’t what the used to be. Plus, I’ve always had problems when being out in the sun too long, so the 4pm deadline has been fine the last few years.

The in-person version of Locus Awards Weekend, as well as the majority of Pride events everywhere, being canceled due to the pandemic, that didn’t happen this year. I did sign up for the virtual Locus Weekend this time. There were more readings, but they were streamed recordings, so there wasn’t any audience reaction, which I found I missed a lot more than I thought. The panels were as fun as ever, even it was a little weird not to hear and feel the crowd of other fans around you during the con. On the other hand, because the panels were live streamed on Zoom, we did have a text chat to do some interacting with other audience members.

If we wanted to participate in the traditional Donut Salon, we had to provide our own donuts. And there wasn’t a banquet for the awards, obviously. Connie Willis, the MC, was wonderful, as always. There weren’t any acceptance speeches (which would have been very difficult to arrange virtually, I understand). I thought all of the winners were good choices, though in every category there were a bunch of other entries which I would have been just as pleased had they won instead. To see the winners: 2020 Locus Awards Winners.

I was particularly pleased that “This is How You Lose a Time War” won Best Novella, because at this point it is also at number one on my Hugo ballot in that category. I was also extremely happy that Nisi Shawl’s anthology, Different Suns: won Best Anthology.

I’m not the most extroverted person in the world, but I did miss chatting with people that I regularly see at this event, an seeing faces both familiar and new.

One of the things I love about the Locus Awards is that they have several different Novel categories. So three of the books that are on the short list for Best Novel Hugo walked away with Locus Awards this weekend.

Virtual Con was fun. It was certainly better than moping at home sad that I had missed it. And there are some things that we better, IMHO, with the virtual venue:

  • I didn’t have to contend with not always being able to get a seat close enough nor on the side of my fully functional ear in order to hear as well as clearly see faces and facial expressions of the panelists or readers
  • I sincerely doubt that Karen Lord has ever unsheathed that fancy sword in the middle of a panel before
  • CLOSED CAPTIONING – now, I’m pretty sure it was on-the-fly AI closed captioning, so much less accurate that others, but still, YES PLEASE
  • I enjoyed the adorable two-year-old twins and the puppy that all escaped Djèlí Clark’s spouse and briefly joined us in one of the panels
  • You can join the text chat without feeling like you’re disturbing others listening to the panels.
  • No con crud (which is the whole reason we’re virtual now, but y’know, even when there isn’t a deadly pandemic, con crud is no fun!)
  • People who can’t travel to the con (whether because they can’t afford it, or health issues, or other issues) can participate in the events.

There are also disadvantages, of course:

  • Spontaneous hall/bar/room party conversations don’t work in the virtual tools that facilitate the panels and readings and such
  • No dealer’s den (which at Locus Weekend is ALL BOOKS, NOTHING BUT BOOKS, the biggest vendor is University Book Store bringing books by authors nominated for the awards [not just the books/collections nominated—also other stuff they have in stock by said authors]), and while I don’t always buy stuff at the den, it’s fun to browse.
  • While we’re on the subject of books: normally there are piles and piles of books on every table at the banquet and the organizers urge you to take these free books home. I missed coming home with a huge pile of books.
  • You don’t get that amplification of enthusiasm/joy/amusement that happens when other people in the audience laugh, or applaud, or otherwise signal they also agreeing with/laughing at/et cetera something a panelist or audience member said

It was a decent substitute for the in-person event. And I hope that now that we’re doing this for some conventions (WorldCon is going to be all virtual this year, as well), I hope that conventions find ways to make more content available to stream like this for at least supporting members going forward.

An alternate outfit. Though given my sun burn issues, if I had worn a cap like this without the rainbow parasol I would have really regretted it!

The rest of the weekend I spent sampling various streamed Pride events, or watching some queer movies that have been in my to-watch list on various streaming platforms for a while. I also took some time to take some selfies (and play some more with the tripod and related things which I have acquired with the eventual intention to make some more videos to post) so I could have a suitable new rainbow picture to put on yesterday’s post.

I missed the in-person aspects of the convention. And I missed not seeing the fabulousness of the Pride Parade, and hanging out at the festival.

But it’s better than getting sick!

It’s Pride Day, 2020 — Happy Pride!

Love is love!

Love is love!

This has been a weird week (heck, it’s been a surreal year!). But today is Pride Day. A day when ordinarily I and my husband would be walking from the hotel where we had been attending Locus Awards Weekend the previous two days, and we’d watch the Pride Parade, then walk to the Pride Festival. But this year everything (including sci fi conventions) has moved on line, so that we can avoid gathering in large groups and causing more spikes of the pandemic.

But it is still Pride Day, even if we’re all social distancing and meeting virtually. It’s a day to commemorate the time that a bunch of queers got fed up with police brutality and decided to fight back.

Two signs being held up in a crowd, each depicts Marsha P. Johnson, sports the Trans Pride Flag colors, and the phrase: “There would be no pride without black trans lives!”

There would be no pride without black trans lives!

It was the night that Marsha P. Johnson hurled a shot glass at a cop when they began their usual routine of lining up everyone in the gay bar, then singling out all the trans and gender-non-conforming people to arrest. Marsha wasn’t the only trans person of color to fight back that night, and she wasn’t the only one to keep fighting for queer rights, helping to found several of the organizations who took the fight to both the streets and the halls of government. When you hoist that rainbow flag, remember to thank those trans women of color who started it all.

Pride Day Links:

Corporations disappointed they won’t be able to commodify queer culture this year .

Every year Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God.com reposted the complete text of the very condescending story that the New York Daily News ran shortly after the original Stonewall uprising. I think it’s good to remember how people saw (and many still do) our community and concerns: LGBTQ History: “The Foot Wore A Spiked Heel”.

Gill Foundation Pledges $250K To Protect Stonewall Inn.

LGBTQ people have been marching every June for 50 years.

Marsha P Johnson’s home town petitions to erect statue of her to replace Christopher Columbus.

Happy Pride Month!

President Barack Obama Celebrates LGBTQ+ Equality (Clip) | Logo TV:

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Black Trans Lives Matter | Full Frontal on TBS:

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The Kinsey Sicks: The Sound of Sirens (Simon & Garfunkel Parody):

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Show Me Your Pride – By Miss Coco Peru – OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO:

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This Is Me | Boston Gay Men’s Chorus:

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If I had gone marching, this would have probably been my ensemble. Happy Pride!

Friday Five (love is beautiful edition)

Black Lives Matter. Black LGBTQ Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

We have reached the final Friday in June, aka Pride Month.

Since this is Pride Weekend, I decided that this week’s Friday Five is going to skip certain topics. Also, I’ve got a four-day weekend which I will be spending attending Locus Awards Weekend and Pride virtually. Should be interesting!

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories about homophobes and other haters, five stories about the blue & rainbow wave, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Hundreds of rainbow flags are flying in a small town thanks to a 13-year-old.

Aimee Stephens won at SCOTUS but fight for trans rights isn’t over.

90-year-old comes out because he can’t forget the man he fell in love with 70 years ago.

Supreme Court: LGBT discrimination ruling supported by 9 in 10 adults – Almost every single American agrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling banning workplace discrimination for LGBT+ people.

After a man ripped down a small town’s Pride flag, the residents took to the streets – The town only has 25,000 people, but they poured into the streets to send the message that “Watertown won’t stand for this.”.

This Week in Homophobes and Haters:

5 examples that prove the NRA hates LGBTQ people as much as gun control – If you think the NRA and its leaders confine themselves to Second Amendment issues, you’re wrong.

One of the nation’s largest conversion therapy networks is disbanding – Hope for Wholeness, an “ex-gay” ministry with a presence in at least 15 states, advocated “freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.”.

AG Becerra adds Idaho to restricted state travel list after anti-trans laws.

Christian pundits say homosexuality is a bigger sin than slavery, so Black people should get over it. Um, what?

Jeffrey Dahmer Fan Accused of Mutilating, Torturing Gay Teen, But Police Say It Wasn’t a Hate Crime.

This Week in the Blue & Rainbow Wave:

Gay congressional candidate Ritchie Torres destroyed the most anti-LGBTQ politician in New York – In what is considered the most Democratic district in the nation, a primary victory is pretty much a direct road to Washington D.C..

Jamaal Bowman declares victory over Rep. Eliot Engel in NY primary upset; mail-in ballots still uncounted.

Victory Fund Endorses 27 More LGBTQ Candidates for 2020; LGBTQ People Running in Key State Legislative Races.

Florida Democrats gain vote-by-mail advantage.

Trump Lawyer: If You Hate LGBTQ Rights, Vote Trump.

In Memoriam:

Gay former SF supervisor Harry Britt, who succeeded Harvey Milk, dies at 82.

Joel Schumacher: Reluctant and Conflicted Gay Trailblazer.

Ian Holm Dies: ‘Lord Of The Rings’ & ‘Alien’ Star Was 88.

Ian Holm, Shakespearean Actor Who Played Bilbo Baggins, Dies at 88.

Peter Jackson Recounts Working With Ian Holm on Final Film Performance.

Things I wrote:

The Symbols of Pride Have Always Been Fluid.

Remember: the First Pride was a Riot Against Police Brutality.

The law is often a tool of oppression, or, more lessons from 50 years of Pride.

Still a joyful, radical fairy—and still proud of all my fellow survivors.

Videos!

Ahead of the Curve Trailer (HD):

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Billy Porter & Pose cast perform “Love Yourself” for Pose-A-Thon special – LGBTQ Gay Pride Month:

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Fab The Duo – Our Love Is Resistance (OFFICIAL Music Video):

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Born This Way | Virtual Boston Gay Men’s Chorus:

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Panic! At The Disco – Bohemian Rhapsody (Live) [from the Death Of A Bachelor Tour]:

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Still a joyful, radical fairy—and still proud of all my fellow survivors

“STONEWALL MEANS REVOLTING QUEENS…AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT,” Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade, Boston, Massachusetts, June 1984. Photo c/o Men of All Colors Together collection, via @northeastern.

Revolt!

I had several ideas for today’s post, but the craziness of fitting a week’s worth of work into four days so I could take Friday off got in the way.

So I decided maybe I should just repost this, originally posted on 21 June, 2018.

Pride means love and survival—confessions of a joyful fairy

“Queer as hell and felling swell”

(click to embiggen)

I’ve been to a lot of Pride parades and festivals since attending my first in 1990. One year I participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade one weekend, flew back home to Seattle where I marched in our parade the following week, and then in August I found myself in Vancouver, British Columbia where I hadn’t realized it was going to be their Pride Parade. San Francisco’s was like so gigantically larger and brasher than any other I had ever seen, while Vancouver’s was small but very enthusiastic.

“Pride equals power”The reason for the parade, ultimately, is to declare our existence–our survival in a society that is less than welcoming. We’re here. We’re your daughters, your neighbors, your sons, your co-workers, your friends, your siblings, or your parents. We’re not mysterious creatures lurking in seedy clubs–we’re the guy sitting across from you on the bus reading a book, or the two gals sitting in that next pew at church, or the pair of guys in the grocery store discussing how many hot dogs to buy for the cookout, or the grey-haired guy trying to read a label on a bottle of cold tablets in the pharmacy, or that kid on the skateboard going past your bus stop, or that guy sipping a coffee at Starbucks, or that gal a couple table over at the same coffee shop laughing at something on her computer.

We’re real, we’re everywhere, and we have hopes and dreams and worries just like you. We’re not asking for special rights, we’re asking for the same rights you take for granted. We’re asking to live our lives as openly as you live yours.

I enjoy watching the parade to acknowledge that survival. I cheer while watching the parade to express my admiration, support, and love for all of these survivors.

I cheer for people who are being brave and marching in their first parade; we see you and welcome you to the tribe.

I cheer and applaud so that those whose families rejected them and told them never to come back will know they have another family, and we’re clapping for them right now.

I cheer so that group of teen-agers (half of them straight and there to support their bi, gay, lesbian, and trans friends) will get the recognition they deserve.

“Why do some people feel more comfortable seeing two men holding hands than holding guns?”I cheer so the couple in their matching sequined costumes will know someone appreciates the work they spent (perhaps being up all night gluing those sequins on).

I cheer the older couples walking together holding hands; we see your love and we celebrate how long you and your love had endured.

I cheer the younger couples walking hand in hand; I wish I had felt free to do that at their age, but I hope they have a bright future.

(click to embiggen)

I applaud and cheer so that the trans* gals and trans* men know they are seen for who they are and we think they’re beautiful, wonderful, and I am proud to call them brothers and sisters.

I cry when I see those who are carrying a photo or wearing the name of a deceased loved one; we see your loved one and share your grief.

I cheer for PFLAG so that straight parents who have spent countless hours explaining to friends and relatives that their queer kids have nothing to be ashamed of, and yes they are very happy, and no those things you’ve heard or read about their health and lifespan are all myths will know their efforts are appreciated by the whole community.

I clap and cheer and laugh and cry as the parade goes on and on showing how big and wonderful and diverse and amazing our community is.

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The very first Liberation Day Parade in New York City, was a protest march on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (the first Pride was a riot). People were afraid of what would happen at the first march. Only a couple dozen people showed up at the starting point, with their protest signs. But they marched. And all along the announced route of the march, the sidewalks were lined with people. Street queens, and trans people, and gay men and lesbians and queers of many other stripes.

(click to embiggen)

And then completely unplanned thing happened. As the small group of marchers went by, queer people and supporters started stepping off the curb and joining. By the time the marchers reached the Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, the crowd numbered in the thousands.

It has been a tradition of Pride Parades ever since, that spectators step off the curb and join the march.

So when I march, there comes a point where I do that. I have cheered and applauded and made sure that others were seen. I have witnessed their love and courage and unique style. Until it is my turn to join the march. To be visible. To declare by my presence in that throng that I am queer. I’m here. And I will never go back into the closet.
Me with my rainbow parasol

The law is often a tool of oppression, or, more lessons from 50 years of Pride

Protesting police harassment and brutality have been at the core of the LGBTQ rights movement for at least 60 years.

Laws have frequently been used to target minorities and marginalized people who are not doing what most people would think of as criminal activity. When writing about the origins of Pride Month, I often mention that before the early-to-mid-seventies it was illegal for a woman to wear pants in public. This seems crazy to most people now, and it sometimes came as a shock to people back then, but there it was.

Other laws sound more reasonable until you understand how they were actually applied. For example, in 1968 the Nixon campaign committee came up with the idea of the War on Drugs as a way to target two groups which opposed all of Nixon’s priorities: black people and those opposed to the Vietnam War. Many years after the fact, Nixon domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, explained it:

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Long before that loitering laws were used to harass anyone that the powers that be found undesirable. Loitering was usually defined as “a person simply being in a public place for no apparent reason.” In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that loitering ordinances and vagrancy ordinances were unconstitutional for two reason: they were so vague that a common citizens couldn’t be sure what behavior constituted the crime, and police were able to arbitrarily enforce it on people who were poor, members of minorities, and so forth.

Historically, the laws were almost always used to target minorities.

The Supreme Court ruling led many jurisdictions to replace the ordinances with so-called “loitering plus” laws. These were ordinances supposedly didn’t make simply being in a public place a crime, but rather being in public for various nefarious purposes. And one of the most popular in the late 80s and 90s were so-called “drug loitering” laws. These laws allowed police to demand ID and to perform personal searches on anyone who was in public and behaving in a way that made the cop suspect that maybe they might possibly be trying to buy or sell illegal drugs. Common activities that could get you arrested under these laws were such horrible criminal acts as: looking at the cars driving by on the roadway, waving at someone, appearing to be trying to make contact with other pedestrians on the sidewalk.

And the sad thing is that even though people tried to appeal these laws to the Supreme Court, it hasn’t accepted such a case for review in decades.

The City of Seattle passed one of these laws back in the 90s. I donated money to a campaign that tried to appeal the low through the courts. When that didn’t get anywhere, I donated money and even volunteered to phone back for a campaign that tried to get an initiative on the ballot to repeal the law. We didn’t succeed.

Year after year people brought forward evidence that both the drug loitering ordinance and the prostitution loitering ordinance were disproportionately used to target black people and gender-non-conforming people, the laws stayed on the books. A few years ago a new city attorney was elected he ceased prosecutions on the two laws precisely for those reasons, but it didn’t really solve the problem, because the next city attorney could just start filing the charges again, and cops would know they could start harassing people in the name of those laws again.

Finally, the laws have been repealed: Seattle City Council Repeals Loitering Laws – The council has voted to repeal two loitering ordinances, which they say had racist origins and disproportionately targeted minorities.

This is a direct result of the Black Lives Matter protests still going on in the city. So we’ve made a teensy bit of progress!

There are many other problems to address. The biggest problem is that virtually all politicians and most common people believe that myth that police forces protect the public from crime. Statistically, they don’t. Of the most common categories of property crime (burglary, larceny, auto theft), only between 13% to 22% of those reported result in an arrest. And those percentages have been so low, that by best estimates, less than 29% of burglaries and larceny are even reported—that means fewer than 4% of such crimes are ever solved!. Heck, fewer the 70% of car thefts are reported to police!

Only abut 38% of rape cases reported to police are cleared (and a laughably even tinier percentage result in any conviction). And since only 25%-40% of sexual assaults are even reported to the police, again we’re looking at fewer than 10% leading to an arrest. Only about 60% of murders are ever solved.

Meanwhile, through abuse of asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement agencies steal far more from the people in their communities that all the burglaries and other robbery categories combined!

There are many reasons for this. One is that in most police departments across the country, the units tasks with investigating robberies and sexual assaults get the lowest budgets, and for various reasons even then, they are the departments most likely to be understaffed (as in, fewer officers actually working in those divisions than is budgeted for).

And then there are the cultural issues. K.L. Williams is a former police chief who now runs the Institute of Justice and Accountability, trying to reform police training (among other things). He sums up the police culture problem this way: about 15% of officers will do the right thing no matter what. And approximately 15% percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70% could go either way depending on whom they are working with.

At first glance that might not seem too bad—only 15% of cops are abusing their authority, right? But with 70% willing to look the other way and even cover up for the bad cops, that means that it’s 85% of cops who are bad, nut merely 15%. And surveys of cops have shown that a clear majority of cops admit that most of the colleagues routinely look the other way and often help cover up misconduct by other cops.

Which leads us to: Why police often single out trans people for violence – The deaths of Layleen Polanco and Tony McDade highlight how Black trans Americans are treated and criminalized.

It’s just just that systemic racism, homophobia, and misogyny leads policing to victimize, rather than protect, minorities and marginalized people—those things combined with police attitudes about the public in general and anyone they perceive as being worth even less than the public means that queer (especially gender-non-conforming) and trans people have been oppressed, harassed, and abused by police forever. And as the article above explains, race, perceived ethnicity (not always the same thing), and perceived immigration status simply amplify that.

Which brings us full circle back to the trans women of color who threw the first bunches, the first bricks, the first shot glasses, that started the Stonewall Riots.

Why do cops notice anyone who doesn’t conform?

It’s not the genderqueer who routinely pervert the course of justice…

Sticker on the base of a light pole reads, “Stonewall wasn't about Marriage Equality, it was about police violence.”

The Stonewall Riots, usually cited as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, was a reaction to police brutality and harassment.

Remember: the First Pride was a Riot Against Police Brutality

“It's Pride Month. ALWAYS remember the black trans women that fought for our rights and made it possible to Pride for Generations to come!”

#BlackLivesMatter #PrideMonth #TransLivesMatter

I know this is something I’ve written about before on this blog, but as we approach what would have been the weekend of the Pride Parade here in Seattle (and many other cities around the country)—while the world is engulfed in a pandemic, and many protests about police brutality and racial inequality—it is vital to remember that the first Pride was a riot. Or, rather, a series of riots the continued for several nights after that first uprising in response to yet another police raid on a gay bar. No one knows for certain why that night people started fighting back. I think it was simply that a bunch of those trans and gender-non-conforming women of color were simply fed up.

And no, the Stonewall riots weren’t the first time that queers had protested and rioted over police brutality of queer people.

In 1959 in Los Angeles, for instance, there was the Cooper Do-nuts Riot. Cooper Do-nuts was a 24-hour donut shop located about halfway between two of the city’s gay bars. It was a place where queer people often congregated at night. At the time it was illegal in California (and many other places and would remain so for many years after), for a person to appear in public wearing clothes traditionally worn by the opposite gender. Because cops liked having an easy excuse to harass queer people, the gay bars didn’t like lots of trans people and street queens to be inside. Cooper Do-nuts served everyone, so it was always full of not just LGBTQ patrons, but specifically trans people, drag queens, and other very obviously gender nonconforming people. So the cops routine showed up there, demanded to see people’s ID and would arrest anyone whose legal ID showed them to a different gender than how they were dressed.

And remember, at the time, that law meant it was illegal for women to wear pants.

Anyway, in May of 1959 a couple of cops came into the shop, demanded to see everyone’s ID, and then tried to arrest two drag queens, two male sex workers, and a gay man. As at least one of those being arrested protested, the crowd erupted, pelting the cops with donuts, trash, and in some cases hot coffee. The cops fled the scene without arresting anyone. Unfortunately, the cops came back with backup and blocked off the entire street. A lot of people wound up arrested.

In 1966 in San Fransisco the management of a Compton’s Cafe decided they didn’t like how many transgender people were hangin out in their cafe, and they started calling the police to get the customers arrested. This caused the community to organize a picket line outside the cafe. Cops were called to arrest the trans people again, and this time a riot broke out. The windows of the cafe were smashed, along with a lot of furniture and all the windows of the first cop car. Eventually reinforcements came in and the riot intensified, but a lot of the riots were beaten, shoved into paddy wagons, and thrown in jail.

While the riot didn’t inspire a national movement, it did motivate a lot of homeless queer youth and others to join an organization called Vanguard Street Actions which staged various mostly peaceful protests, and over time the city began to try making changes in policy to reduce police harassment of queer people.

On New Year’s Eve 1967, at a Los Angeles gay bar called the Black Cat Tavern, a busy New Year’s Eve party took place. The newspaper accounts later said the party was “hopping” and the crowd was happy. Right up until midnight, when couples all over the bar started kissing to ring in the New Year. And then a bunch of undercover police started beating and arresting those kissing couples. Fourteen people were arrested that night. There was no riot. Some weeks later there was an organized public demonstration, and organizations that were lobbying government officials for LGBTQ rights raised a lot of money for among other things to try to appeal the convictions of some of the arrested same-sex couples. The Advocate, which remains a leading queer news source, was founded as a newsletter as part of the organized protests because of the Black Cat raid.

Seven months later, at another Los Angeles gay bar called the Patch, police raided one night, and started arresting people. The owner of the bar, Lee Glaze, jumped up on stage and got the crowd to chant various slogans and tried to convince the cops to let the arrestees go. When they didn’t work, they did not riot. Instead, Glaze led the rest of the crowd up the street to a flower shop, where they bought every single flower in the shop, and then marched to the police station, handing out flowers and chanting as they went. The protested peacefully outside the precinct until everyone arrested made bail and was released.

One of the protesters was a formerly-closeted pastor (who had been kicked out of the church) named Troy Perry, whose boyfriend (Tony Valdez) was among those arrested. After making bail, Valdez told Perry that his jail experience convinced him that god doesn’t love queer people. Perry decided to stop trying to fit in at the established churches that looked at his queerness as a sin, and to found a gay friendly church, which is how the Metropolitan Community Church came into being.

And then the next year the Stonewall Riots happened in New York City…

So that night at Stonewall wasn’t the first time that queer people got fed up with police harassment and brutality, but it was the first time where the protests and rioting continued for many days afterward. And probably because one of the newspapers that tried to cover the events objectively, The Village Voice, was read by a lot of professional journalists and academics far outside of New York City, is why Stonewall seemed to kick off a more organized fight for LGBTQ rights. Within a year, chapters of the new Gay Liberation Front had opened in many cities around the country, and within a couple more years nearly every college town in the U.S. had a chapter.

Most of the people targeted by the police in all of those incidents were those who were gender-nonconforming and/or not white. The cops harassed any queers that they could, but those were the people who got singled out every time. And in most of the cases they were the ones who get fed up and fought back.

I’m an old, white-bearded, cisgender blue-eyed white gay guy who is college educated and work in the software industry. A lot of people think that the LGBTQ rights movement is about and for people like me. But the real heroes, the first leaders, were the trans women of color. And just as we should never forget that they only gave us rights because queers gave them riots, we should remember that it was those trans and gender-non-conforming people of color who started and inspired the riots by fighting back against police brutality.

“Who gave me the right to marry? NOT the Supreme Court. YES: Trans Women of Color throwing bricks at cops.”

The first Pride was a series of riots…

The Symbols of Pride Have Always Been Fluid

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danielquasar/progress-a-pride-flag-reboot

I wasn’t aware of this Kickstarted until this month… https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danielquasar/progress-a-pride-flag-reboot

I am not certain exactly when I first heard about Pride Parades. The Stonewall Riots happened when I was 9 years old, but were almost completely ignored by the national media. I’m fairly certain that the local news stations in the small Nebraska town that my father’s nomadic petroleum industry career had taken us to by June of ’69 felt no need to cover it. Similarly, I am even more certain that the one and only television station available to an even tinier town of eastern Colorado (where we lived for most of June, 1970) would not have covered the very first Freedom Day Marches held in New York City on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

I think, but am not entirely certain, that the first inkling I had that any sort of Gay Rights movement existed at all was probably sometime in middle school… so sometime between 1973 and 1975. I remember a film shown in one of my sociology classes that included a very short clip about the extremists in California calling for legal rights for gay men–and it was extremely disparaging.

The Pink Triangle along with a slogan related to the AIDS crisis.

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I actually saw a Pride Parade, so this was in the mid-to-late 1980s, and at that time the predominant symbol for Pride was a Pink Triangle. The Pink Triangle was originally used by the Nazis in Germany in the lead up to World War II and throughout the war to identify prisoners in the concentration camps who were sent there because they were accused of breaking the laws agains sodomy. Because of the extremely specific ways that German law identified sodomy at that time, this means that the men forced to wear this identifying tag were being accused of having committed sex acts with other men.

In the Nazi camps, the Pink Triangle was not ever attached to women, because Lesbianism was not perceived as being the same category of crime by the Nazis. I could write many blog posts about that, but most of the lesbians who were thrown into the camps were charged not specifically with being lesbian, but with the (rather bizarre to modern readers) crime of not being willing to marry a proper Aryan Man and produce beautiful blond-blue-eyed children for him. Or other things.

The point is, that even though Gilbert Baker created the original Rainbow Pride Flag in 1978 for the San Francisco Pride commemoration, in 1987 when I attended my first Pride Parade in Seattle, the Rainbow was not considered a universal symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. There were one or two rainbows visible in that first parade I attended, but they were lost in the see of thousands of Pink Triangles and scores of Purple Labryses (a symbol many Lesbians adopted at the time). The Rainbow was still mostly thought of as a San Francisco thing at that time.

Gilber Baker's original flag design had 8 colors: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet.

Gilber Baker’s original flag design had 8 colors: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet.

The Rainbow flag spread to other communities over the years between my first Pride Parade in 1987 and the early 1990s. Baker’s original flag had consisted of 8 colors, but for a variety of reasons, Baker agreed to let the flag be simplified to only six colors over the next few years. And that’s what the symbol was during the early 90s when it seemed like all the Pride Parades suddenly began sporting the Rainbow rather than the Pink Triangle. That wasn’t the only change. I should mention that while I attended my first Pride Parade in 1987 and marched as a member of a group for the first time in 1989, I was still mostly closeted until late 1991. This probably skews my memory a bit.

Before I go on with my perception of the history of pride symbols, I should list Gilbert Baker’s original explanation of the meaning of the flag he created. The colors Gilbert chose represented what he saw as pillars of the non-heterosexual community. Hot pink represented Sex; red represented Life; orange represented Healing; yellow represented Sunlight; green represented Nature; turquoise represented Magic; indigo represented Serenity; and finally violet represented Spirit. All of which makes a lot of sense to those of us who spent part of the 1990s as members of the Radical Fairies but might not resonate with a lot of other members of the non-heterosexual community.

Within a year or two of me coming completely out (by which I mean not only that close friends knew I wasn’t straight, but also extended family members and co-workers), I witnessed the backlash against the Rainbow Flag as a symbol for the community. I remember specifically a comedy routine by one specific performer that was circulated a lot called “I Am So Over the Rainbow.” And the first time someone played a recording of it to me (by chance, the man who was my supervisor at my place of employment at the time), the entire thing came across to me very much as a variation of “You kids get off my lawn!” I mean, I know the people in the audience were laughing, and the show was billed as a comedy act, but to me it was One Thousand Percent Bitter Old Queen Whining, and not much humor to speak of.

I should also mention that 32-ish year old me listening to that is where I made a solemn promise to myself that if I ever turned into that kind of bitter queen I would put myself out of everyone else’s misery. I hope that as I am now approached 60 that I have succeeded in not going down that bitter road.

But I should back up a bit…

During the 1980s, as the AIDS Crisis killed thousands of gay people and representatives of the president of the United States and the so-called liberal press laughed at anyone who suggested that people should be concerned with tens of thousands of (mostly gay) people dying, several radical homosexual rights groups rose up, and a lot of them embraced the word “Queer” precisely because it had been a term used to attack us, and also because it was quickly becoming clear that thousands of people dying upset fewer of the bigots than the word “Queer” did.

So in addition to ACT-UP, other radical organizations such as Queer Nation and Q Patrol came into being to fight against the complacency of society about the deaths (whether due to the new disease or from homophobic gay bashers) that most of us experienced during the 1980s and 1990s.

Two more digressions worth noting: during the mid-1990s I was personally involved in arguments within the Seattle Lesbian/Gay Community about whether to add the term “Bisexual” to the official name of the Pride Parade… and then a year or two later whether we should add “Transgender” to the name. I found myself in very heated arguments over both, which really pissed me off. I was well aware that most of the leader of the original Pride Riot (or Uprising or Rebellion) were trans/nonbinary women of color. How could anyone think that trans people weren’t part of the community? And yet a lot of people made that exact argument. And very similar ones for bi people… which are equally absurd.

There have been many variants on the basic Rainbow Flag. The Victory Over AIDS version, for instance, consisted of the Six-color Rainbow plus a black stripe on the bottom. The black stripe represented two things: first, our sense of mourning over all the people who have died of the diseases; but second, it was at the bottom of the flag to represent our hope that one day a cure or a vaccine would be available and end the deaths from the disease.

Many groups within the community have felt that the rainbow didn't explicitly include them, and have opted for other flags to use either instead of the rainbow or along side it.

Many groups within the community have felt that the rainbow didn’t explicitly include them, and have opted for other flags to use either instead of the rainbow or along side it. (Click to embiggen)

Many flags similar to the Rainbow Flag for various communities within the LGBTQ+ community have been introduced. The Bisexual Pride Flag (pink, purple, blue) for instance, inspired by a symbol that was used by some bisexual people as a variant of the Pink Triangle: a pink triangle and a blue triangle overlapping, with the overlapping area being purple; the two triangle symbols represented a metaphor of those attracted to the same sex, and those to the opposite, and acknowledging that there were those who formed romantic or erotic relations ships with both/either. Then there is the Pansexual Pride Flag (magenta, yellow, cyan), where the three stripes represent masculine, feminine, and non-binary–an overt acknowledgment that the notion of same- and opposite-sex doesn’t cover everything. Or take the Asexual Pride Flag (black, grey, white, purple), where the colors represent no sexuality, and then the grey area between sexualities, and then sexualities that exist in various contexts, and finally the purple represents community which can encompass many different people.

Many, many more variants and alternatives to the rainbow flag.

Many, many more variants and alternatives to the rainbow flag.

Then there is the Transgender Pride Flag, the Non-binary Pride Flag, and the Gender Fluid Pride Flag. Because each of those communities, while clearly being part of the tribe of non-heterosexual/non-heteronormative/non-genderconforming persons, they also experience the world (and discrimination within society) differently than other parts of the broader LGBTQ+ communinity.

“#MoreColorsMorePride” Supporters of Philadelphia’s revamped version of the Pride flag say it’s meant to be more inclusive to nonwhite LGBTQ persons.

“#MoreColorsMorePride” Supporters of Philadelphia’s revamped version of the Pride flag say it’s meant to be more inclusive to nonwhite LGBTQ persons.

A couple years ago in Philadelphia another version of the Rainbow Flag was introduced with a brown and black strip added, but this time to the top. There have been many reactions to this redesign. I wrote about my reaction to first seeing this flag on this blog three years ago. The “#MoreColorsMorePride” flag added a black and brown stripe to the top of the six-color version of the Rainbow flag, with the new colors recognizing that black and other non-white queer people experience discrimination differently than white queer people do, and despite the Stonewall Riots being started by queer people of color, they don’t always feel welcome or included in many LGBTQ spaces.

Gilbert Baker's final flag, the 9-stripe or Diversity Pride flag.

Gilbert Baker’s final flag, the 9-stripe or Diversity Pride flag.

In June 2016, Gilbert Baker, the original creator of the Rainbow Pride Flag, met Barack Obama in the White House, and presented him with a framed recreation of the original 8-stripe flag. After the election and then inauguration of Trump, Baker felt that the flag needed one more update, and he hand-stitched a new, 9-stripe version of the flag, adding a lavender strip which he said symbolized Diversity, a concept that he feared was going to be trampled in the age of Trump. Baker died only a few weeks after releasing his new flag.

Others have tried to design variants of the flag which incorporated symbols for more communities who were not specifically represented in the “standard” six-stripe flag. That’s where we get flags such at the Progress Pride Flag pictured at the very beginning of this post. I’m not sure any of those variants will catch on. But then, in the early 80s most queer folks outside of the Bay Area didn’t think the Rainbow would catch on.

Outside my window this year I have three Pride Flags: a recreation of the original 8-stripe flag, the “standard” 6-stripe flag, and the More Colors More Pride/aka the Philadelphia Rainbow Flag. They are all recognizable as the Pride Flag. I suspect that the Rainbow Flag, possibly in many forms, is going to be with us for a long, long time.

Friday Five (white entitlement edition)

We have reached the third Friday in June, aka Pride Month.

And even though it has only been a week since the last Friday Five doesn’t it feel as if it’s been a rough year or two since?

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: a story of this day, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about the fight of justice, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about science, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Story of the Day:

From Juneteenth to the Tulsa massacre: What isn’t taught in classrooms has a profound impact – On the eve of Juneteenth, educators said the history of systemic racism in this country and the contributions of Black people have been erased.

Stories of the Week:

Tucker Carlson Expertly Trolled By Owner Of Porn Site ‘IsMyGirl’ – Tucker Carlson went off the rails again, this time attacking porn sites who monetize homemade explicit photos and videos, then promptly got pwned by the owner of one of those sites.

L.A. County has found the cause of its hourslong poll lines. It wasn’t the new voting machines – Voters waited for hours to cast ballots in California’s Super Tuesday primary March 3.

Elite CIA unit that developed hacking tools failed to secure its own systems, allowing massive leak, an internal report found. Remember this the next time the FBI, et al get up in arms about Apple not giving them a backdoor into your phone and so on…

How the Name ‘Karen’ Became a Stand-in for White Entitlement.

Please stop the beat: why we’ve had enough of musical episodes .

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Understanding the generation gap within the LGBTQ community – Many generational issues separate the LGBTQ community — and also bring them together.

Neil Gorsuch embarrasses his conservative backers with pro-LGBTQ ruling.

HRC To Sue Trump Administration for Eliminating Anti-Discrimination Health Care Protections.

Gender identity: The difference between gender, sex and other need-to-knows.

Openly Gay Black Bishop Ordained by Missouri Episcopalians.

This Week in Demanding Justice:

Arrest Warrant and Indictment Issued in Two Separate Murders of Transgender Women Last Week.

Families Of Two Black Men Found Publicly Hanged In CA Believe They Were Lynched – Communities are demanding investigations and justice for Malcolm Harsch and Robert Fuller, found hanging from trees in Victorville and Palmdale. Police said they found “no foul play” in Mr. Harsch’s death, and ruled Mr. Fuller’s death a suicide.

Trans woman killed by cruel teen who returned to scene of crime to shoot her dead body again.

Police Work Isn’t as Dangerous as You May Think.

Trump Campaign Tied To Second Leader of White Nationalist Party.

This Week in the Pandemic:

It Doesn’t Look Like the Protests Are Causing a COVID-19 Spike – What does that mean for other outdoor activities?

COVID-19 case clusters offer lessons and warnings for reopening.

California requires masks statewide in bid to slow coronavirus spread.

10 states are seeing their highest average of daily new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started.

Texas coronavirus hospitalizations hit record highs for a full week.

This Week in Science and Technology:

Scientists Have Discovered Vast Unidentified Structures Deep Inside the Earth – Scientists combed through nearly 30 years of earthquake data to probe huge and mysterious objects near the Earth’s core.

Asian giant hornet found in Bellingham.

Endangered cheetahs snapped in award-winning photos.

Scientists Find The Biggest Soft-Shelled Egg Ever, Nicknamed ‘The Thing’.

Black hole plasma jets are shaped like bell-bottoms – Streams of plasma shooting away from galaxies flare at the ends.

In Memoriam:

Jean Kennedy Smith, former Ambassador and last sibling of JFK, diesv- She played a key role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Legendary Batman writer, Denny O’Neil dies at age 81.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 6/13/2020: Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, and Dang it Wear a Mask!

Confessions of a homo godparent, or, Transphobes not welcome here.

Sunday Funnies, part 40.

Supreme Court rules that existing federal law prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in workplace.

Tuesday Tidbits 6/16/2020: Differing definitions of tyranny….

Videos!

So Much News, So Little Time: Aunt Jemima & New Trump Tell-Alls:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Supreme Court Hits Trump Where It Hurts With DACA And LGBTQ Decisions:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Supreme Court Rules on LGBTQ Rights, Police Reform Gains Steam: A Closer Look:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Facial Recognition: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Nick Pes – The Feeling (Music Video):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Tuesday Tidbits 6/16/2020: Differing definitions of tyranny…

Keep your distance…

Jesus Christ, Just Wear a Face Mask!

“Libertarians” (in brackets) are resisting mask wearing on grounds that it constrains their freedom. Yet the entire concept of liberty lies in the Non-Aggression Principle, the equivalent of the Silver Rule: do not harm others; they in turn should not harm you. Even more insulting is the demand by pseudolibertarians that Costco should banned from forcing customers to wear mask — but libertarianism allows you to set the rules on your own property. Costco should be able to force visitors to wear pink shirts and purple glasses if they wished.

Note that by infecting another person you are not infecting just another person. You are infecting many many more and causing systemic risk.

Surgeon general says wearing masks will give Americans ‘more freedom’.

To No One’s Surprise, More Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Traced Back to Churches.

“We don't want your cis kids to be trans. We want your trans kids to SURVIVE.”

…We want you trans kids to survive.

The transgender woman whose lawsuit resulted in landmark SCOTUS decision didn’t live to see the outcome.

The Supreme Court Just Tanked Trump’s Anti-Trans Agenda – The administration has spent years crafting a multipronged assault on LGBTQ rights.

“NRA Accidentally Forgets to Rise Up Against Tyrannical Goverment”

Forgets… right…

The NRA Has Spent Decades Warning About Police Crackdowns. Now It’s Utterly Silent. …because their definition of tyranny only applies to white people. Because they aren’t just cowards, they are also racists.

Gun-toting Trump supporters attack George Floyd protesters in rural Ohio town.

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