Multiple Gay-Bashings in San Diego
Six gay men were attacked in five separate gay-bashings during the San Diego LGBT Pride celebration this past Saturday, leaving one man with a fractured skull and another stabbed. Police have arrested James Carroll, 24, and two boys, 16 and 17, from a group called the Lowlifes, for these hate crimes.
The assailants burst from the bushes in Balboa Park as the gay men were leaving a Pride concert headlined by Debbie Gibson. The attackers used baseball bats and a knife, shouting anti-gay slur the whole time. From Mayor Jerry Sanders on down, the city mobilized to condemn the attacks and apprehend the perpetrators. “Clearly these animals wanted to push these men back into the closet. We won’t and shouldn’t allow that to occur,” Sanders, a Republican, said.
On Tuesday night, a security guard in San Diego was assaulted in another anti-gay hate crime, for which three unidentified youths have been arrested.
In Riverside, California, three gang members were arrested for beating patrons outside a gay bar called the Menagerie, where a gay man was killed in 2002. Arrested were Juan Mauricio, 20, Sergio Rodriguez, 18, and Gerald Gallo, 18, of Riverside.
Beyond Same-Sex Marriage
More than 250 LGBT activists and some non-gay allies have signed on to a “strategic vision” for the movement called “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” lamenting the resources that have been concentrated on the fight for marriage rights and calling for a shift in focus to protecting a wider variety of family configurations, as well as not privileging couples over singles. The full document is available online at beyondmarriage.org.
“We seek access to a flexible set of economic benefits and options regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender/gender identity, class, or citizenship status,” wrote the signatories who included such leaders as Joseph De Filippis of Queers for Economic Justice, Gloria Steinem, law professor Kendall Thomas, and peace activist Leslie Cagan.
National LGBT groups are insisting that their vision already extends far beyond same-sex marriage. And Evan Wolfson told the New York Times, “My organization is called ‘Freedom to Marry,’ not ‘Mandatory Marriage.’”
Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, a right-wing group, said the new vision statement is being pushed by people “who want to tear down all the norms and eliminate all barriers.” David Thorstad, a gay Socialist activist, circulated an e-mail saying that the statement “represents an attempt by liberal Democrat Party types, mostly, to shift the terrain of the discussion ever so slightly, but without any serious critique.” Kenyon Farrow, African-American gay activist and one of the principal authors of the statement, wrote on his Web site that it is “a living breathing document for people to use in whatever way makes sense, in whatever communities they wish to use it.”
After press time last week, Mike Bloomberg’s press rep Stu Loeser called to explain why the mayor refused to sign on to a national ad supporting same-sex marriage, despite the fact that mayors from Salt Lake City to Boston did. “We had no chance to contribute to the message,” said Loeser, noting that the text was presented to them in final form. He would not specify what Bloomberg’s objections were, but speculation has centered on the prominent quote from Chief Judge Judith Kaye in her dissent from the Court of Appeals ruling against same-sex marriage won by the city.
Asked what the mayor has accomplished for the same-sex marriage cause in the wake of the court decision, Loeser did not supply any specifics. “He is committed to working with the community in New York City and Albany” on the issue, Loeser said, including working “closely” with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “In any long-term effort, there are things we participate in and things we don’t,” he said.
Gean Harwood, Gay Activist and Author, Dead at 97
Gean Harwood, author of “The Oldest Gay Couple in America” about his 66-year relationship with the late Bruhs Mero, died on July 14 at the age of 97. The two were featured in the documentary “Silent Pionners” about gay life pre-Stonewall and were the grand marshals of New York’s Gay Pride March in 1985.
Harwood and Mero also gave stirring testimony in favor of the New York City lesbian and gay rights bill the year it passed in 1986, speaking about the decades of discrimination that they experienced, including a landlord who threw them out saying that he did not rent to “fags.”
Harwood is survived by his partner of ten years, Luis D. Rey.
Eric Rofes Remembered
Gay and AIDS activist Eric Rofes, who died suddenly in June, was celebrated at a memorial service at the LGBT Community Center led by his friend of 30 years, Richard Burns, the longtime head of the Center. “He was an artist of friendship,” said Burns to a packed house of the many friends Rofes had cultivated during his long involvement with the LGBT, AIDS, gay men’s health, and feminist movements.
Crispin Hollings, Rofes’ “devoted husband” from San Francisco, spoke movingly about their relationship and of a “celebration of love and friendship” that they had 14 years ago, noting that it was “not a commitment ceremony, but a celebration of love in the moment.”
Burns also spoke about the harrowing lengths to which Hollings and his friends had to go to see to it that Rofes received an autopsy and cremation, against the wishes of his mother who the state treated as next of kin. It took several national gay leaders including Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, to get Massachusetts to honor Hollings’ request.
Man Who Came Out with Partner of 49 Years Dies
Richard Taylor and Ray Vahey lived quietly together for almost 50 years until their home state of Wisconsin threatened to enact a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships, to be decided by the voters this fall. They testified at a public hearing against the measure in December. Taylor died at 81 this past Friday.
At the hearing, Vahey said, “Richard voluntarily put himself in harm’s way to protect his country [in the Navy in World War II] and the rights of all Americans of that day, and all of the generations that have followed.”
New Yorkers Divided on Same-Sex Marriage
A WNBC/Marist poll conducted last month found 36 percent of state residents in favor of same-sex marriage, another 35 percent favoring civil unions, and 29 percent opposed to any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. In April, a Global Strategy Group poll conducted for the Empire State Pride Agenda found 53 percent of New Yorkers in favor of same-sex marriage and 38 percent opposed.
The Marist poll also asked whether voters cared about a candidate’s position on same-sex marriage. Twenty percent said that they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports it, 25 percent said they were more likely to vote for someone who opposes it, and 55 percent said it made no difference to them.
Same-sex marriage is supported by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who enjoys a wide lead in the race for governor over his Democratic opponent, Tom Suozzi, an opponent of same-sex marriage, and the Republican-Conservative nominee, John Faso, also against gay marriage.
Mel Gibson’s Goose Cooked
Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic tirade last week, for which he has apologized, has resurrected reports of his anti-gay tirades in the 1990s for which he never apologized. In 1992, he told a Spanish paper re: gay men, “They take it up the ass. This is only for taking a shit.” Asked about his own fears about being perceived as gay, he said, “Do I sound like a homosexual? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them? I think not.” (Fans of “Gallipoli” and “The Year of Living Dangerously” might be excused for thinking otherwise.)
His Oscar-winning 1995 film “Braveheart” about Scottish hero William Wallace included a ludicrous and ahistorical anti-gay scene where Prince Edward is portrayed as an effeminate gay man whose lover is defenestrated by King Edward I.
At the behest of GLAAD, Gibson tried to make amends by hosting a seminar for ten gay filmmakers in 1997, but he never apologized and went on to portray Herod in “The Passion of the Christ” as an effeminate homosexual surrounded by boys.