#ThrowbackThursday “Spring Fling ’86” The Birth of Penguin Place. (The William Way LGBT Community Center)

In 1986, I had the pleasure of working with some very special members of Philadelphia’s LGBT community to produce a “Spring Fling” fundraiser for what was to become Penguin Place. At the time, ours was a Community Center without walls.

Penguin Place 1

Spring Fling was held at the Mask and Wig Club (located on south Camac St.) I will never forget the Spring Fling or the months of planning that led up to it. Each of us made a special contribution. We had battling DJs, planned “spontaneous” entertainment that seemed to manifest out of nowhere (think “flash mob” but with jugglers, magicians, and musicians), and brilliant slide show presentations that were revealed on a rear projection screen behind a beautifully painted stage backdrop.

I was working as an AV technician at the time so my contribution was the rear projection screen, the slide projectors, lenses, and animation fader which I borrowed from work.

I have always regretted that I didn’t get to know Bill Way better. In our short friendship, he was very supportive and encouraged my creativity.

Shortly after Spring Fling, I left Philadelphia for a new job out west. By the time I returned, Bill had died. Penguin Place was a reality and had a permanent facility just two blocks north of the Mask and Wig Club. The New organizers had taken Way’s dream to the next level and was serving the community.

That the William Way LGBT Community Center has been in it’s permanent home at 1315 Spruce St. for nearly two decades is a testament to the work and dedication of the community.

I think about William Way and that odd bunch of people who inspired me to get involved in my community. It was a very brief moment in my life but it reflects the very best of the LGBT community. As we just saw with Marriage Equality, when we work together the possibilities are endless.

Post Cards from the In-Laws: or (What are you trying to say?)

My in-laws went to California for a wedding and sent this postcard.

Postcard from mom frontPostcard from mom black out

And no… it wasn’t a “same gender” wedding! 😁


This postcard brings up a few questions.

  1. Did they leave the wedding to tour Alcatraz?
  2. Are they comparing marriage to maximum security imprisonment?
  3. And what are they implying by, “You guys would have loved San Francisco”?

What are they trying to say? I’m so confused. 😛


Actually, my in-laws have accepted me into their family. To them, I’m not just my other half’s “friend”. They recognize that we are two men in love. They just don’t talk about it, which is why this postcard is so funny to me.  😊

While We Celebrate LGBT Pride, LGBT Ugandans Fight for Their Very Lives.

“People’s willingness to believe the most outlandish lie in exchange for a promise of salvation never ceases to amaze me.”
I watched an Independent Lens documentary called “God Loves Uganda”  on PBS the other night and was utterly disturbed by it. — Not so much by the movie itself, but by the extent to which white Christian missionaries have gone in order to spread their Anti-Gay hatred globally.

Produced by Roger Ross Williams, “God Loves Uganda” shows the senseless violence that LGBT Ugandans are now faced with because of the vicious lies and hateful propaganda spread by Christian missionaries like Scott Lively.

It’s pretty horrific.
In one scene, we see a pastor tell the crowd that homosexuals hunt and rape children. In another, the pastor shows the crowd pornography depicting anal sex. In yet another, the pastor tells the crowd that President Obama is forcing women to have abortions.
Unbelievable, right?
This all can be traced back to the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, when the US began sending much needed medical and financial aid around the globe in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Then, during the GW Bush administration, strings were attached to that funding. Suddenly, instead of an overall approach of condom distribution and education, American evangelicals demanded “Abstinence-Only” education. …and we all know how well that worked out for the US Bible Belt.
God Loves Uganda is available on Netflix streaming.
The thing that bothers me most about all of this is the utter disregard for human life. Christian missionaries like Scott Lively will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of demonizing LGBT people around the world. Even lie! His lies have created a dangerous atmosphere for LGBT Ugandans. These pastors don’t understand Ugandan culture. So when they spread lies, perpetuating the myth that gay men are child predators, the locals believe it and take the law into their own hands. Countless LGBT people have been murdered. Many more have gone missing. If God exists, I don’t think he’d approve of hunting LGBT people for sport. Scott Lively, and pastors like him, have blood on their hands.

proxy
 .


If you get a chance, “God Loves Uganda” is worth a look-see. It’s a little rough at times but does shine a light on the dishonesty used by Christian fundamentalists who are, in my opinion, no different than any other religious fundamentalist. — Including those vicious animals who have stolen the name of the Egyptian goddess of magic and creator of life, Isis.


As we here in the US celebrate hard won victories in the advancement and acceptance of LGBT rights, I’ll be thinking of those around the world who continue to struggle simply to exist. Especially those whose suffering is a direct result of American interference.

#InternationalHolocaustRememberanceDay Remembering Gay Victims of the Holocaust

“In 1928 there was an estimated 1.2 million “out” homosexual men living in Germany.  As Adolf Hitler rose in power, gay organizations were banned and scholarly books regarding homosexuality were burned. Hitler’s racial state ideology branded homosexuals not only as “parasites” and degenerates, but as enemies of the state. In 1935, the Nazi government significantly expanded the criminalization of homosexuality.” via Stop Homophobia

If this doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps you should take a look at the rising anti-gay hysteria going on in Russia since Vladimir Putin enacted the Russian LGBT Propaganda Law which claims to “Protect Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” but in has since led to an increase and justification of violence against LGBT people. To be clear, these laws have nothing to do with family or children. These laws are meant to scapegoat gays in very much the same way Germans scapegoated Jews and other “undesirables”.

The following is a collection of quotes and links compiled from around the web that shine a light on the forgotten victims of nazi terror.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Mug shot of a homosexual prisoner in Auschwitz. Pink triangles were used to designate homosexual inmates. State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

Mug shot of a homosexual prisoner in Auschwitz. Pink triangles were used to designate homosexual inmates. State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

“In Nazi Germany, homosexuality was persecuted to a degree unprecedented in history. In 1935, the National Socialists issued an order making all male homosexuality a crime; the provisions governing homosexual behavior in Section 175 of the Criminal Code were significantly expanded and made stricter. A kiss was enough reason to prosecute. There were more than 50,000 convictions. Under Section 175, the punishment was imprisonment; in some cases, convicted offenders were castrated. Thousands of men were sent to concentration camps for being gay; many of them died there. They died of hunger, disease and abuse or were the victims of targeted killings.” — Travels of Adam

By now, most people are familiar with the Pink Triangle which, along with the Lambda and the Rainbow Flag, is a symbol for LGBT pride. But it has a dark history, one that isn’t taught in school. I remember a teacher talking about nazis exterminating millions of Jews and “others“, as if the others were an insignificant footnote of world history. When pressed, he explained that the ‘others’ were made up of gypsies, socialists, deviants and political prisoners.

triangle key2

Nazi Badge Chart identifies prisoners according to “offense”

 

Under the direction of SS head, police drew up “Pink Lists”, and embarked on a vicious crackdown on homosexual men and women. Many were sent to mental hospitals, others were castrated by court order, and 100,000 of these men were sent to concentration camps.The pink triangle (now a symbol of Gay Pride) was placed on the prisoners to mark that they were homosexuals. An estimated 55,000 were executed.

Heinz Dormer, spent nearly ten years in prisons and concentration camps. He spoke of the “haunting agonizing cries” from “the singing forest”, a row of tall poles on which condemned men were hung: “Everyone who was sentenced to death would be lifted up onto the hook. The howling and screaming were inhuman, beyond human comprehension”. source

Here is the badge chart translated to English

Here is the badge chart translated to English

The vast majority of those forced to wear pink triangles didn’t survive.

The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than “Aryans,” so anything that diminished Germany’s reproductive potential was considered a racial danger” — US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Eventually, the LGBT community took back the symbol of oppression.

LGBT reclaim the Pink Triangle (1980s)

 

Nazis interested in finding a “cure” for homosexuality expanded this program to include medical experimentation on homosexual inmates of concentration camps. These experiments caused illness, mutilation, and even death, and yielded no scientific knowledge.– source

“There are no known statistics for the number of homosexuals who died in the camps.”

I don’t know what it’s like to have family members that have survived the horrors of Auschwitz. It’s something for which I have no frame of reference so I would never assume to put myself in the same category as those with a direct familial link to nazi persecution. But I can identify with those who were singled out for something that is innate, especially when I look around and see history repeating itself.  I can honor forgotten victims.

Nazi Holocaust – The Forgotten Gay Victims

The fight against fascism and bigotry must also incorporate the defence and support of the Gay and Lesbian Communities. The message needs to be made loud and clear, and repeated often; ANY form of discrimination, bigotry or oppression must be fought and defeated in the 21st Century!!! — PNW

 

When we say “Never Again” we’ve got to mean it for everybody. It’s the only way to ensure that we are all safe from persecution because, if they come for one group they will come for yours too.

For more on Gays and the Holocaust…

#WAD2014 – #Reagan, #AIDS, and ACT-UP

For those of you who don’t understand why I dislike Reagan so much, here’s a poster from 1987 protesting our president’s silence on the deadliest virus that America had seen.

AIDSGATE, 1987, posterThink about that for a minute. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were sick and dying, and the American president was silent!

Ronald Reagan’s silence led to the organizing of LGBT protest/action group, The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, or “ACT-UP”. Their slogan, “Silence = Death” is based on Reagan’s silence.

AIDSIntroPicSilenceDeathSo the next time a conservative talks about how great a president Reagan was, ask them if they think it’s okay for an American president to ignore the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Ask them if they ever wonder how much closer we might be to finding a cure for HIV had Reagan actually done something.

If it sounds like I’m angry it’s because I AM angry. A whole generation of gay men from artists, writers, athletes, and teachers to doctors, lawyers, friends, lovers, and family, an entire generation was lost because of the callous attitude of Ronald Reagan and his successor, George HW Bush. Those of us who survived watched the ones we loved die all around us.

Gran Fury, The Government Has Blood On Its Hands, 1988, posterBoth Ronnie and Georgie Sr have blood on their hands.

I am dedicating World Aids Day 2014 to the fighters, the people who stand up for justice. From ACT-UP to protesters in Ferguson, we are all fighting for our lives. Never stop fighting. Sometimes shouting is the only way we’re heard.

Remembering the Everyday Heroes of September 11th

The thing I remember most about that Warm and Beautiful Day in September is people’s unconditional willingness to help one another.

I spent most of the day today trying to come up with something brilliant as a tribute to the memory of the many lives lost in, and those affected by, the 2001 terrorist attacks. I wanted to say something about America’s resilience. But looking back at the past four years of childish political posturing, and the increasing frequency of racist violence perpetrated by those entrusted to protect and serve, it’s hard to imagine that we ever all stood together as one United States.

But we did! I saw it with my own two eyes. People with absolutely nothing offered total strangers food to eat, a place to get cleaned up and rest, or just a safe place to sleep for the night. In my own city, which was not directly affected, everyday people did whatever they could. Some traveled to affected areas to join the rescue effort. These were everyday heroes.

Then on September 13th, just Two Days Later, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson appeared on The 700 Club and claimed that God smote America because of all the “Pagans, Abortionists, Atheists, Feminists, Gays, and Lesbians, the ACLU, and People for the American Way”. What a vile, evil thing for two purported men of God to say.

Why must Americans be so ugly to one another every chance we get?

For a few months following the September 11th attacks, most of us stood together and pitched in where we could. We did it because we cared. We did it to help heal the open wound. We did it because it was the right thing to do.

But why does it have to take a tragedy for us to treat each other like human beings?

It’s Been A Rough Week, So…

I thought I’d share a cute video by Steve J Boyle called “I Hit Send, or Modern Meltdown“. It’s a poetry reading about Steven’s first crush, post-coming-out.

Some of the language may not be appropriate for all audiences, but it’s adorably funny.

I figured a little light humor would be good thing after such an unbelievably bad week.

Enjoy!