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A Bit of SF History –SF MUNICIPAL ORGAN

SAN FRANCISCO THROWS A PARTY!

PPIE

Having risen from the ashes of the great quake and fire of 1906, The City was ready to invite the world to a party.

To celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and the rebuilding of the city, San Francisco played host to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. Many architecturally rich, though temporary structures were built for this world event. One such structure, Festival Hall, was a large dome-shaped auditorium and served as the first home of the Exposition Organ.

The search for the perfect pipe organ befitting the fair’s tradition of exhibiting the latest advances in technology began in 1913. The new organ was to have a four-manual movable console, 7,500 pipes and not to exceed $50,000 (the equivalent of roughly $1.5 million today). Thirty-one American organ builders vied for the honor of constructing the instrument.

Competition among these prominent builders was fierce, but in March of 1914 the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut was awarded the contract. The Austin firm had only eleven months to build and install one of the largest pipe organs in the world. The organ was so technologically advanced that its reputation alone attracted attention and brought notoriety to the Exposition.

San Francisco’s Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons, longtime installers of Austin organs, took on the heroic task of installing this monumental pipe organ. Eventually, four generations of Schoensteins would care for the instrument over several decades.

The organ was shipped in five large railroad cars and arrived in San Francisco in late October, 1914. A team of horses and a flat body truck were needed to move the material from the train and through the mud of the unfinished fairgrounds. Actual installation began on November 7, 1914. With carpenters, plasterers and painters still constructing Festival Hall, installation was frenzied. Pandemonium reigned in the huge structure as the various contractors took an “every man for himself” attitude. The fair had attached a $100 per day fine for unfinished exhibits to each of their contracts.

The Schoensteins had only three and a half months to finish the installation and eventually worked in double shifts: during the day they assembled the mechanical parts of the organ and during the quiet of night tuned each of the 7,500 pipes.

A WORLD’S FAIR

On the morning of February 21, 1915, whistles were blowing and spirits were high; it was opening day of the World’s Fair. Seated at the Exposition Organ’s console was the fair’s official organist, Wallace Sabin. With a large chorus and orchestra, Sabin opened the Panama-Pacific International Exposition with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

A lavish nine month program of musical entertainment followed. In addition to orchestral programs featuring the organ, daily recitals were given by some 60 of the nation’s leading organists. But none was more legendary than world famous Edwin H. Lemare.

Lemare’s contract with the Exposition Company forced him to leave his pregnant wife behind in Liverpool just days before the birth of his daughter. In the midst of the Great War, Lemare braved a U-boat infested Atlantic ocean and arrived in America mid-August.

Despite the urgency to reach San Francisco on time, Lemare’s first recital was heard by only 400, a mere 10% of Festival Hall’s capacity. Attendance however soared once word spread that the greatest living organist was performing. Soon the concerts were sold-out affairs. The front rows were filled with organists who paid the 50-cent admission to the fairgrounds just to hear Lemare play. His wife, son and new born baby would soon join him in San Francisco.

Nearly every day Lemare played at noon and again at 8:30 in the evening. Each performance with a different repertoire. At every concert Lemare improvised on themes sent up by the audience. His concerts became so popular that fair officials approved the expansion of seating in Festival Hall. By closing day, 18.5 million people had come to the fair and Lemare had played 121 concerts to almost 150,000 people.

Unlike most world fairs, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition closed with profits. The Exposition Company decided to donate these unexpected funds to the City of San Francisco. A large building called Exposition Auditorium had already been erected in the city’s Civic Center. It, along with the Exposition Organ, were deeded to the city. Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons was contracted to dismantle and reinstall the instrument in the new Civic Auditorium. The dismantling process began two days after the close of the fair. Lemare was contracted to supervise the revoicing and reinstallation.

SAN FRANCISCO’S MUNICIPAL ORGAN
SF-Municipal-Organ

Several months after the fair ended, Lemare was honored with the position of San Francisco’s first Municipal Organist in which he was contracted to perform two concerts weekly. San Francisco had become home.

Lemare’s salary was ten times that of the average worker and was guaranteed, regardless of ticket sales. Lemare was one of the highest paid organist in the world. But his impressive salary did not go unnoticed. City supervisor J. Emmet Hayden–earning a modest 15% of Lemare’s annual wage–publicly attacked Lemare’s salary and performance, encouraging city officials to reconsider the musician’s value to San Francisco.

When the time came to renew Lemare’s contract, the city offered a mere 60% of his original earnings. After heated negotiations, Lemare agreed to a salary that was only slightly better. This was to be only the first of many political battles to come.

Angrily clutching a handful of Lemare’s concert programs, rival Hayden questioned why a competent musician would play the same piece at every concert: “There it is in black and white,” he exclaimed, “Improvisation!”

The final blow came from the city elections of November 1920. A proposed ordinance submitted by Supervisor Hayden and the Board of Supervisors, would reduce the salary of the city’s municipal organist to $3,600, a far cry from the $10,000 salary originally paid to Lemare. Despite opposition by The American Guild of Organists and then Mayor James R. Rolph, the voters approved the ordinance. On Sunday, June 26, 1921, Lemare performed his 190th and last official concert on the organ he had come to cherish. Feeling rejected by the city he loved, Lemare accepted a position as the municipal organist for Portland, Maine and, later, Chattanooga, Tennessee. He eventually retired in Hollywood, California.

Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s the Civic Auditorium and organ would remain the cultural focal point of San Francisco. Both the symphony and the opera would perform in the auditorium until the new Opera House opened in September of 1932. Historically significant concerts by world famous organists and composers including Marcel Dupre and Camille Saint- Saens would over time be featured on the historic Exposition Organ.

civic-auditorium

Throughout the 1940s and ’50s the Exposition Organ was used occasionally for conventions, graduation ceremonies and large religious events. But for the most part, the popularity of organ recitals and interest in municipal organs began to decline. New sources of musical entertainment such as phonographs and radios, the growing popularity of big bands, distractions and restrictions during World War II and a tendency among professional musicians to disregard the artistic limitations of “average concertgoers” began the downward momentum.

In 1962 a $20 million bond issue was voted in by the citizens of San Francisco. These funds allowed for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and modernization of the Civic Auditorium. Considered a part of the building, the Exposition Organ was entitled to a small portion of these funds and underwent a thorough cleaning, releathering and installation of a new console. But the windfall proved to be a double-edged sword as the ill-conceived remodeling robbed the auditorium of its good acoustics, dampening the sonic character of the organ. Furthermore, a “casino-style” curtain was hung in front of the Exposition Organ muting its tone and concealing the great instrument from public view.

As a result of cost overruns on the Civic Auditorium reconstruction/modernization project, the city stopped appropriating funds for maintenance of the instrument and it fell into disrepair. Now cloaked in a curtain of darkness, the once distinguished Exposition Organ faded into obscurity.

DISREPAIR AND TRAGEDY

In 1984 the Citizens Committee to Preserve the San Francisco Municipal Organ was formed. Spearheaded by organ historian Charles Swisher, the committee began an effort to renovate the instrument. Over a period of several years Schoenstein & Company (formerly Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons) began working pro-bono to restore the instrument to playing condition.

loma-prieta

Just as the restoration was nearly complete and the Exposition Organ was ready to be brought back into the spotlight…tragedy struck. The wrath of the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake caused the back inner wall of the Civic Auditorium to crash down on the fragile pipework. Four feet of plaster and debris covered the floor of the huge pipe chamber. Unplayable and suspended in silence, the great Exposition Organ lingered in uncertainty…behind the velvet curtain.

Two years of political discourse ensued as the fate of the historical instrument was debated in City Hall. The Civic Auditorium needed major repairs, so it was determined that the organ would have to be removed. FEMA funds had been secured and the Citizens Committee persuaded San Francisco to go forward with repairing the organ rather than selling it.

A complete overhaul of the organ would be necessary. So in late 1991, the instrument was sent back to the Austin organ factory in Hartford, Connecticut. Seventy-five years after the great Exposition Organ was born, almost all of the 40-ton instrument was loaded into three tractor-trailers and moved nearly 3,000 miles back to its place of birth.

The staff at Austin Organs, Inc. was very excited to undertake the restoration of this important legacy from their past. Work began right away dismantling windchests, stripping reservoirs, revoicing reeds and repairing and replacing damaged pipes.

While work on the organ continued expeditiously, the large formerly occupied space in the Civic Auditorium was beginning to look quite useful to the city for other purposes. Several months after refurbishment had begun, a cease-work directive was received in Hartford. All organ components, whether whole or in pieces, were to be packed and shipped back to the West Coast for storage. The reason for the city backing away from the project was a combination of cost overruns on the Civic Center repair project along with the realization that the organ was occupying space that might be put to other purposes. The order was a bitter blow for the Hartford staff whose enthusiasm for the project was high.

The shocking news was also felt throughout the nationwide organ community. Here was a historic instrument on the verge of a rebirth–having survived physical abuse, a major earthquake and the indignity of changing tastes–now to be relegated to certain oblivion.

San Francisco historians and citizens were concerned as well. The San Francisco Fox Theater, considered to be the most elegant and opulent of all the Fox Theaters was lost to the wrecking ball in late 1963. The City of Paris Department Store, a beaux arts architectural master piece with its genuine Tiffany Dome, was lost in 1980 and The Fitzheau Building, the Train Station and several landmark hotels were also gone.

 

A TREASURE WITHOUT A HOME

treasureIn late 1997 the City of San Francisco began the last phase of the Embarcadero reconstruction project. The Embarcadero looked nothing like it did before the Loma-Prieta quake. A beautiful tree-lined boulevard and rail system now replaced the ugly two tiered freeway. A new pier, wider sidewalks and new outdoor public spaces had also enhanced the waterfront.

In April of 1998 an article appeared in the newsletter of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. It said “Flash! The City of San Francisco (with help from SF/AGO) is developing a likely new venue for the 1915 Exposition Organ (Austin Opus 500). Recent meetings with Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Sue Bierman have advanced the project…”

The site under consideration was a half-block of open space, bordered by the Embarcadero, Market, Steuart and Mission Streets. It was being developed as part of the Mid-Embarcadero Waterfront Transportation Project.

By mid-1999 the City of San Francisco had approved plans to install the Exposition Organ in a proposed pavilion at the waterfront. The project became known as the Embarcadero Music Concourse and Organ Pavilion. It would provide a large open space where downtown workers, tourists, waterfront visitors and ferry and streetcar commuters could take a break and enjoy free daily organ recitals, special concerts and even silent movies. The Music Concourse was designed to provide outdoor seating for 3,000, becoming the center for many community events.

By the early 2004, a ballot measure to raise funds for the organ and several other projects had been put before voters of San Francisco. It was defeated. Also numerous businesses surrounding the proposed Music Concourse site protested the idea for a music pavilion because they feared the volume of the organ would be too loud and disrupt their businesses. The Music Concourse faded into oblivion.

THE FRIENDS OF THE EXPOSITION ORGAN
Determined not to let the Exposition Organ linger and perhaps be destroyed, The Friends of the Exposition Organ was formed to keep the fire alive and to safeguard the instrument from neglect and destruction.
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France’s Jews Flee As Rioters Burn Paris Shops, Attack Synagogue

France’s politicians and community leaders have criticised the “intolerable” violence against Paris’ Jewish community, after a pro-Palestinian rally led to the vandalizing and looting of Jewish businesses and the burning of cars.

It is the third time in a week where pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with the city’s Jewish residents. On Sunday, locals reported chats of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews”, as rioters attacked businesses in the Sarcelles district, known as “little Jerusalem”.

Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister said: “What happened in Sarcelles is intolerable. An attack on a synagogue and on a kosher shop is simply anti-Semitism. Nothing in France can justify this violence.”

Religious leaders gathered for an interfaith service on Monday to call for calm, and Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, and Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy shook hands on the steps of the synagogue.

Francois Pupponi, the mayor of Sarcelles, told BFMTV that the violent attacks were carried out by a “horde of savages.”

“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,” interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters at a press conference at the local synagogue.

  • A worker prepares to repair a shop windowin Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb, a day after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence
  • A man walks in Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb, by broken windows as he enters a shopping center in Les Flanades neighborhood
  • The broken shop window of a restaurant in a shopping center in Les Flanades neighborhood, damaged on July 20 after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses
  • MIGUEL MEDINA via Getty Images
    Projectiles were thrown at police, burned cars and looted shops
  • The Parisian suburb is known for its multiculturalism
  • Damages in a restaurant of a shopping center in Les Flanades neighborhood
  • A policewoman takes part in an investigation in Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb in front of a chemist in a shopping center of Les Flanades neighborhood, which was burnt down
  • The Imam of the eastern suburb of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, the President of the Central Jewish consistory of France, Joel Mergui, the Great Rabbi of France Haim Korsia, and the Bishop of Pontoise for the Conference of Bishops of France, Stanislas Lalanne attend an ecumenical ceremony at the synagogue of Sarcelles
  • STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN via Getty Images
    French singer Enrico Macias (4th L), French writer Marek Halter (C), the Imam of the eastern Paris suburb of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi (4th R), the President of the Central Jewish consistory of France Joel Mergui (3rd R_ and Bishop of Pontoise for the Conference of Bishops of France Stanislas Lalanne (2nd R) pose during an ecumenical ceremony at the synagogue of Sarcelles, north of Paris

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Eighteen people were arrested for attacks on shops, including a kosher supermarket, a Jewish-owned chemist and a funeral home. Rioters, who carried batons and threw petrol bombs according to eyewitnesses, were yards from the synagogue when they were driven back by riot police who used tear gas.

“They were shouting: ‘Death to Jews,’ and ‘Slit Jews’ throats’,” David, a Jewish sound engineer told The Times. “It took us back to 1938.”

“We called our town ‘Little Jerusalem’ because we felt at home here,” Laetitia, a longtime Sarcelles resident, told France 24. “We were safe, there were never any problems. And I just wasn’t expecting anything like this. We are very shocked, really very shocked.”

Roger Cuikerman, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France told Radio France International: “They are not screaming, ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris. They are screaming, “Death to the Jews.” The community was not just scared, but “anguished.”

The government had banned a demonstration planned in Paris for Saturday, but posters were seen around the area which said “Come equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and batons” and promised a “raid on the Jewish district”.

France has around half a million Jews, the biggest population in Europe, and around five million Muslims.

The Society for the Protection of the Jewish Community’s figures suggest that anti-Jewish violence is seven times higher than in the 1990s, and 40% of racist violence is against Jews, despite them making up just 1% of the population.

In March 2012, a shooting spree by Mohammed Merah in the south of France left three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi dead. The gunman claimed a connection to al Qaeda.

More than a thousand Jews have made aliyah (the term used when Jews immigrate to Israel) in the past 10 days, according to the Israeli government.

“I came because of anti-Semitism,” said teary-eyed Veronique Rivka Buzaglo, one of 430 immigrants who arrived from France the day before. “You see it in the eyes of people. I see it in everything,” she told HuffPost.

Buzaglo says nothing would have stopped her from becoming an Israeli citizen this week – not even the rocket sirens frequently blaring in the south of the country, where she plans to live.

 

From the Huffington Post

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Looking Intently: The James Cahill Legacy

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents

Looking Intently: The James Cahill Legacy

July 23, 2014–December 21, 2014

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Dai Jin: Summer Trees Casting Shade, 15th century; ink and colors on silk

The late James Cahill, Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, was known as a brilliant scholar, exceptional teacher and writer, and extraordinary connoisseur and collector of Chinese and Japanese paintings. He began collecting in the mid-1950s as a Fulbright Scholar in Japan, where he encountered significantly undervalued Chinese paintings of the Ming and Qing periods. At the time few collectors were interested in these later paintings and fewer still understood their inherent value. But Cahill recognized their importance and so began a lifelong pursuit of fine paintings. His collection became known by his studio name, Ching Yuan Chai, given to him by his own teacher, Shimada Shujiro. As Cahill wrote, “It could be either Studio of Someone Looking into the Yuan (as I was for my dissertation) or, more prestigiously, Someone Gazing into the Abstruse.” Today paintings associated with that studio name are among the treasures that make up the core of the BAM/PFA Chinese painting collection. In fond memory of James Cahill (1926–2014), we present this selection from the collection in tribute to his tremendous generosity and commitment to Berkeley and to BAM/PFA.

Cahill, unlike some of his contemporaries as well as historic Chinese collectors, did not mark with a seal or inscription the paintings in his collection. Rather, he made his mark by donating—and encouraging others to donate—exceptionally fine paintings to BAM/PFA. This small exhibition presents just a handful of works, but they demonstrate the unparalleled range of Cahill’s collecting interests, fromSummer Trees Casting Shade, a large decorative painting by Dai Jin (1388–1462), to the quietly cerebral The Zhiping Temple by Wen Zhengming (1470–1559).

Cahill frequently used the collection for teaching, engaging students in dialogue about brushwork, connoisseurship, authenticity, and condition, and looking intently at real works of art, a tradition that continues today.

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Saturday, July 26 Grand Opening of SF’s New Independent Living Resource Center Marks Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Blind Bay Area Architect Christopher Downey Designed Cutting Edge Facility

 It’s the blind leading the blind. When the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (www.ilrcsf.org) opens its new state-of-the-art facility this Saturday, July 26  – the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act – this often negative cliché will become a high compliment, especially to the facility’s architect, Christopher Downey of the Bay Area: one of the world’s very-few, working, blind architects.

“Both the visually impaired and the sighted rely on information and architectural cues to navigate the built environment,” says Downey, who lost his sight in 2008 following surgery to remove a tumor that was pressing on his optic nerve. “I draw upon my experience as an architect to help design teams and client organizations to create enriching environments for the visually impaired and, not coincidentally, the sighted as well.”

Downey, 51, starts each day rowing with the East Bay Rowing Club on the Oakland Estuary before commuting on public transit to his office in San Francisco. He has been featured in local, national and international media stories and speaks regularly about architecture and visual impairment including his inspirational TED Talks. He also teaches accessibility and universal design at UC Berkeley and serves on the Board of Directors for the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco.  Downey consults on design for the blind and visually impaired, encompassing specialized centers as well as facilities serving the broader public. His work ranges from a new Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center, to renovations of housing for the blind in New York City, and to the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco.

“With over 98,000 people with disabilities in the City of San Francisco, we know that our goal of expanding access for all was ambitious, especially given the current real estate climate, but that didn’t stop us, and Chris was integral to helping us realize our dream,” says Jessie Lorenz, Executive Director of the Independent Living Resource Center, noting that fully 25% of their clients are current conflict vets with disabilities.  “We exist to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, both within their families and in a fully accessible community. What a perfect way to mark almost a quarter century of the ADA and the lives this law has improved.”

According to Lorenz, the Independent Living Resource Center’s new facility at 825 Howard Street is “truly a community center.” It is a purpose-built, ground floor, fully accessible location in the heart of San Francisco’s South of Market district. An integral part of its neighborhood, the new center is a welcoming place with street appeal where people with disabilities feel comfortable dropping in, participating in workshops, and seeking support and information as they establish or maintain their independence.

“Our new home was designed and built to anticipate disability as the rule, not the exception,” Lorenz emphasizes. “It has an open floor plan guided by a forward-thinking green design that is made expressly for enhancing community for people of all abilities. We endeavored to create space to allow for dynamic interaction and group presentations. The lobby will be for waiting, greeting, and exhibiting veteran and community artwork. The built environment will showcase the best principles of accessible design, responding to the growing needs of a technologically savvy disabled community.”

Additionally, Schindler Elevator Corporation, a pioneer in building mobility, has partnered with the Independent Living Resource Center to pilot the next generation of features for PORT Technology, an innovative destination-dispatching system that revolutionized the way people move through buildings.

Founded in 1977, the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco exists to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, both within their families and in a fully accessible community. ILRCSF core values are: Choice: the right of individuals and families to make informed decisions about their own lives. Persons with disabilities are experts on their own needs. Consumer leadership creates an accessible community. Full access to and inclusion in the community for all people with disabilities means the same range of choices as the general community. Universal usability means that services, housing and consumer products are designed to be used by all members of the community.

“Establishing a more accessible and visible office will position us as a model community-based center for independent living in an urban area,” Lorenz sums up. “We hope to move from a model of solely offering support and services to individuals with disabilities, to becoming an incubator and community center where the Independent Living Movement can build the next generation of leaders who will be empowered and engaged citizens who are fully integrated in their communities.”

This Saturday’s grand opening events features a free lunch catered by Buca di Bepo and guided tours from 10am – 12noon; 2pm – 3pm. The facility’s official dedication will take place at 1pm

 

 

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Old days in S.F. not so good

John Martini is an eminent local historian. He can see the past with a professional eye.

He writes about swimming at Sutro Baths, a Sunday outing in the park in Victorian times, how the Golden Gate looked before the bridge, the life of the soldiers at the Presidio long ago.

So, I asked him once, “Would you like to live in the past?”

“No,” he said. “No. But I would like to take a vacation there.”

He said he’d like to perhaps spend two weeks in San Francisco at the turn of the last century. “I’d head for my great-grandfather’s bar in North Beach,” Martini said. “He was a partner in a grocery store with a bar in the back on Broadway. His name was Giuseppe Martini, and he was born in Lucca, Italy.

“I’d sit back and watch the scene, be a fly on the wall. I don’t know what I would say to him, though. You can’t affect the future by going into the past.”

Martini smiled at the thought of seeing his own ancestor as a young man. Time travel is always intriguing.

One of the problems, though, is that a trip back in time might be a shock. The Good Old Days weren’t so good. “Living in the past in San Francisco would be great if you were white and male,” Martini said. “It would be a lot different if you were Chinese, or Mexican, or one of the tiny number of black people who lived here.”

Women couldn’t vote, much less become U.S. senators or corporate executives. Their lives were constricted in a hundred ways. Prostitution was open in San Francisco, and tolerated. It was one of the rackets operated under a corrupt city government.

The smartest man in the city was political boss Abe Ruef, a native San Franciscan who was one of the most promising young men ever to graduate from UC Berkeley. The big corporations bribed him, and he paid off the mayor and the supervisors.

If you think the streets are dirty now, think about old San Francisco, say just before the 1906 earthquake, when the streets were littered with the droppings of thousands of horses that pulled the freight wagons and delivery trucks.

Garbage was routinely dumped in the bay, and so was sewage. McCovey Cove at the site of the present ballpark was an open sewer. Despite its healthful climate, San Francisco was famously unhealthy. In 1900, there was even an outbreak of bubonic plague in the city, but the news was suppressed. It was bad for business.

Health insurance? Unemployment insurance? There wasn’t any.

People worked harder and were paid less than they are now. There was a huge income disparity between the rich and poor – and serious trouble was always on the horizon.

There were violent strikes and riots: Five people were killed in a 1901 teamsters strike; 31 were killed and over 1,100 injured during a streetcar strike in 1907; and in 1916, a terrorist bomb set off during the city’s largest parade left 10 dead and 40 injured. The district attorney framed two labor leaders for the bombing and they served time in San Quentin.

San Francisco was not the tolerant place it became later. It had an ugly edge.

You can still find people of a certain age in Chinatown who will tell you about being beaten up for crossing Broadway into North Beach. It took riots and sit-ins to get the city’s large hotels and auto dealers to share good jobs with minority workers – and that was in the ’60s, not long before the Summer of Love.

The city’s gay community operated in the shadows; police raids on gay bars were common. There was a certain agreed-upon standard in San Francisco, and the cops enforced it.

And yet San Francisco was always The City, even in its ugly moods. It always had something special. It attracted people like Mark Twain and George Sterling, the poet who saw stars at the end of the streets, and William Saroyan, who thought every block had a story. It has changed beyond belief and sometimes for the better.

The old San Francisco would be a great place to visit, but I don’t think most of us would want to live there. For people of this generation, these are the good old days.

Carl Nolte is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. His column appears every Sunday. E-mail: cnolte@sfchronicle.com

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Poll: Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit is backfiring

If you think House Speaker John Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit against President Obama for failing to implement Obamacare quickly enough makes him look like an obstructionist jackass who is more interested in political stunts than doing the right thing for the country,you’re not alone:

A majority of Americans view House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) lawsuit over President Obama’s delayed implementation of ObamaCare’s employer mandate as a “political stunt,” according to a new poll released Monday.The survey, commissioned by liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, found that 51 percent of voters don’t believe the lawsuit is legitimate, versus just 41 percent who do.

Moreover, 56 percent say the lawsuit is wasteful spending, with just 36 percent saying it is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

Here’s the kicker:

The survey found that a plurality of Americans — 46 percent — say the suit makes them less likely to vote for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. By contrast, three in 10 say the suit makes them more likely to vote for the GOP.

And why is that? Perhaps because of this:

Some 58 percent of voters say the suit will not help improve the lives of people like them, and 63 percent say Congress should be more focused on taking action to create jobs.

On the one hand, these results are heartening, because it’s always good to know that a solid majority of the country hasn’t gone completely bonkers. On the other hand: Who the hell are the 37 percent of morons who wouldn’t rather see Congress focused on jobs instead of Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit?\

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The Emmys are gayer than ever: ‘The Normal Heart,’ ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and …

It wasn’t long ago that shows like “Ellen” and “Will & Grace” made history for the LGBT community at the Emmys, but gay, lesbian, and transgender visibility made further strides in 2014.

Below-the-line Emmy nods may foretell Best Comedy win for ‘Orange is the New Black’
“Orange is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox made headlines as the first openly transgender acting nominee at the Emmys; she’s nominated for Best Comedy Guest Actress alongside co-stars Uzo Aduba and Natasha Lyonne.

“Orange” as a whole presents a progressive view of sexuality, and its six nominated actors play roles including straight (Red, played by Kate Mulgrew), bisexual (Piper, played by Taylor Schilling), and gay (Aduba as Crazy Eyes and Lyonne as Nicky Nichols), in addition to Cox’s groundbreaking role as transgender inmate Sophia Burset. Also, Jodie Foster, who came out as gay more or less officially at the Golden Globes in January 2013, is nominated for directing an episode of the series.

One of Foster’s rivals in that race is Emmy-favorite Paris Barclay, a gay director competing for the third time for “Glee”; he previously won a pair of Drama Directing prizes for “NYPD Blue.”

Elsewhere, HBO’s telefilm “The Normal Heart” racked up 16 nominations. Not only does the film explore the lives of gay men during the turbulent early years of the AIDS epidemic, it also features several out individuals nominated for their work in front of and behind the camera: actors Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, and Jim Parsons, writer Larry Kramer, and director Ryan Murphy.

Parsons also earned his sixth Comedy Actor nomination for “The Big Bang Theory”; he has three previous wins.

Beau Bridges earned a Drama Guest Actor bid as a closeted hospital administrator in “Masters of Sex,” while Andre Braugher is up for Comedy Supporting Actor as an openly gay police captain in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Braugher competes against out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who picked up his fifth consecutive nod as Mitchell Pritchett in “Modern Family.” This past season, Mitchell married his longtime partner Cameron (two-time Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet) in a wedding organized by Pepper Saltzman, played by another out nominee, Comedy Guest Actor contender Nathan Lane

Even “House of Cards” got in on the action. We learned in season one that corrupt politico Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) had a gay relationship with a schoolmate, and season two revisited that side of his character with a secret service agent who went above and beyond the call of duty.

Out Emmy-winner Jane Lynch earned a couple more nominations this year: Reality Host (“Hollywood Game Night”) and Narrator (“Penguins: Waddle all the Way”).

Lynch isn’t the only gay performer nominated for a hosting gig: Ellen DeGeneres (“The Oscars”) and Neil Patrick Harris (“67th Annual Tony Awards”) are up for Best Special Class Program. It’ll be an interesting contest, since they’re competing against the “Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony”; Russia was widely criticized during the games for their recent crackdown against the LGBT community. Olympic opening ceremonies are usually strong contenders at the Emmys, but its association with a controversial host nation might hurt it.

 

By Daniel Montgomery, Gold Derby

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Dick Cheney says screw highways and food stamps, defense spending is all that matters

Boy, Dick Cheney really is determined to caricature himself:

During an event sponsored by Politico, Cheney said the next president needs to “turn around the whole trend” of cutting defense dollars.

“That ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else,” Cheney said. “Your No. 1 responsibility as president is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. [Obama] is the commander-in-chief and he’s absolutely devastating the United States military today.”

Since when are increasing the defense budget and supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States synonymous? I guess if that’s Cheney’s understanding of the Constitution, it might explain a thing or two. But, aside from the moral bankruptcy of his dismissal of feeding the hungry, let’s talk logistics. Let’s say you cease funding highways in order to buy more bombers and tanks. Do you then have to use the tanks’ capacity for driving across rough ground to take them off-road from the factory to the military base? Do military recruits prove their mettle by hiking to boot camp? For that matter, let’s get back to the food stamps for a second. Military food stamp use rose in 2013, and that doesn’t even take into account all the veterans on food stamps. Except as we’ve had ample opportunity to observe, Dick Cheney doesn’t give a single damn about the people who make up the American military. He just wants giant pallets of cash for defense contractors and an American political culture geared toward war rather than the economic strength of the nation and its people.
And, for the record, Mr. Cheney, American defense spending is still huge. Though maybe not quite as huge as your ego, your arrogance, your monumental callousness.

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President Obama Asks Joking Cashier If He Is Gay

President Obama and his entourage had lunch last Thursday at the Franklin Barbecue in Austin Texas. When it came time to pay, the cashier, part-time drag queen and comedian Daniel Webb, slapped the counter in front of the president and said enthusiastically: “Equal rights for gay people!”

The president replied good naturedly to Webb, “Are you gay?” Without missing a beat, Webb told the president “Only when I have sex.”

Webb’s quip earned a laugh from the president, who told Webb to “bump me” and exchanged a fist bump.

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Philip Wilder named new executive director of New Century Chamber Orchestra

Philip Wilder is the new executive director of San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra, Board President Mark Salkind announced today. Wilder, who brings multifaceted experience in leadership, programming, and management of several nonprofit arts and music organizations to the role, is also a musician and performer with deep experience in music education. He begins in the position July 21. He replaces Parker Monroe, who served as executive director for New Century Chamber Orchestra for 18 years. Monroe announced his retirement in December.

Wilder is well known in music circles in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was the founding director of education with acclaimed vocal ensemble Chanticleer, where he served also as artistic administrator and assistant music director during a 13-year period while singing with the ensemble in more than 1,000 concerts around the world. He launched the annual Chanticleer Youth Choral Festival for San Francisco Bay Area high school students, and led its nationwide Singing in the Schools program. He was associate director of the capital campaign for the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and was awarded a fellowship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ DeVos Institute for Arts Management. As vice president of 21C Media Group public relations firm in New York, he represented clients including Yefim Bronfman, Susan Graham, Joyce DiDonato, Steven Stucky, and Jeremy Denk. Wilder has also consulted for artists and arts organizations, including Dallas Opera, the Grand Teton Music Festival and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. He was executive director of communications for the Eastman School of Music, and most recently was the founding artistic and executive director with Sing With Haiti, a not-for-profit organization supporting the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“Philip Wilder was the unanimous choice of our board and music director to take on the role of executive director,” said Salkind. “His breadth of experience, his many accomplishments as a leader and consultant to arts organizations, his fundraising and public relations experience, and his longtime Bay Area musical background with Chanticleer are all vital assets that will guide the vision of New Century Chamber Orchestra as we evolve and grow in the years ahead.”

“We owe a great debt and enormous thanks to Parker Monroe, our outgoing executive director, who is retiring after 18 years of creative and successful leadership of New Century Chamber Orchestra.”

“Philip’s background as a musician, his leadership experience with Chanticleer, and his professional guidance on behalf of so many classical music artists and organizations make him a perfect fit for New Century Chamber Orchestra,” said Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. “I’m excited to work together to create new opportunities for New Century Chamber Orchestra and to bring our music to more people, both here at home in the Bay Area and around the country.”

“It is a great honor to be chosen as New Century Chamber Orchestra’s next executive director, which brings me back to the city that gave me my start in music 24 years ago,” Wilder said. “After 11 years of appointments in Washington, D.C., and New York City, I return home with a wealth of experiences in the field of music to share with one of San Francisco’s most innovative arts organizations.

“I have been a fan of the New Century Chamber Orchestra since its early concerts in San Francisco in the 1990s. Since then, I have been a proud observer of the orchestra’s growing national and international reputation under the leadership of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. I look forward to joining with Nadja, the staff and board of New Century to lead the orchestra in the next chapter of its illustrious career.”

ABOUT PHILIP WILDER
Philip Wilder is a classical music industry specialist with 24 years of multifaceted experience as an artistic programmer, administrator, educator, fundraiser, marketer, PR consultant, recording producer, and musician in the not-for-profit and corporate classical music industry. He was appointed as executive director of New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco in July 2014. A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy (major in piano and organ), the Eastman School of Music (Bachelor of Music in organ performance), and the DeVos Institute for Arts Management, Wilder began his professional career as a member of the San Francisco-based vocal ensemble Chanticleer, where he became artistic administrator, assistant music director and founding director of education.

During his 13-year association with Chanticleer, he performed as a countertenor in more than 1,000 concerts worldwide, and fostered collaborations with many composers and performers, including Sir John Tavener, Frederica von Stade and Dawn Upshaw. His 14 recordings for Warner Classics and Chanticleer Records garnered four Grammy nominations and two Grammy Awards. As Chanticleer’s founding director of education, he developed and implemented programs for music students in San Francisco and across America, including its Singing in the Schools program and the Chanticleer Youth Choral Festival, an annual event for San Francisco Bay Area high school students. Wilder also served as Chanticleer’s spokesperson, appearing on CBS, NBC, NPR, and other prominent national news outlets.

After leaving Chanticleer, Wilder took a position as associate director of the capital campaign for the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and was awarded a fellowship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ DeVos Institute for Arts Management. While there, he managed the first American tour of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra for the United States Department of State, and collaborated with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser on an instructional workbook for strategic planning for emerging arts organizations.

In 2005, Wilder joined 21C Media Group, the New York-based independent public relations, marketing, and consulting firm specializing in classical music and the performing arts. In 2012, he was named executive director of communications for the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

During his seven years with 21C Media Group, Wilder developed an impressive roster of clients, including Grammy Award-winners Yefim Bronfman, Susan Graham, and Joyce DiDonato; Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky; and MacArthur “genius” Jeremy Denk. He also advised organizations, including the Dallas Opera, the Grand Teton Music Festival and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, founding partner Albert Imperato named Wilder vice president of 21C Media Group.

Currently residing in San Francisco, Wilder continues to consult for artists and arts organizations, and is a producer of new media content for Music Makes a City, a PBS documentary film and arts advocacy project produced by Owsley Brown Presents. He also served as the founding artistic and executive director of Sing With Haiti, a not-for-profit organization supporting the ongoing operations and rebuilding of the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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Newly Minted Insane GOP Candidate Wants to Force Atheists to Undergo Exorcisms

Gordon Klingenschmitt, who’s running on the Republican ticket for a state house seat in Colorado, has some serious words for atheists. According to Right Wing Watch,he thinks atheists need to undergo exorcisms, to get rid of the devil inside them, so they’ll feel comfortable in church. They’ll also then be “free to enjoy the worship of Jesus Christ.”
Klingenschmitt was referring to a court case that the Supreme Court refused to hear. In that case, a Wisconsin school district was under fire for holding its graduation ceremonies at a local church. Because the school in question is public, the 7th Circuit Court ruled that holding graduation ceremonies at a church was unconstitutional, according to theMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case earlier this year.

Klingenschmitt said, according to Right Wing Watch:

“If the atheist complainer is so uncomfortable when they walk into a church that there’s something inside of them squirming and making them feel these feelings of hatred toward the cross of Jesus Christ, don’t you think it’s something inside of the atheist complainer that’s wrong?”

Well, no, actually. That’s just one of the many tropes that narrow-minded, tunnel-visioned evangelicals love to trot out when talking about atheists. They literally can’t imagine peoplereally thinking that way, so if someone does, obviously it’s demon possession. That’s the only possible answer. Other stupid tropes include: Atheists are angry with God, they can’t possibly know right from wrong, and they can’t be good people without knowing the love of Christ.

In short, evangelicals like Klingenschmitt don’t understand atheists at all. Atheists aren’t uncomfortable in a church per se, they’re uncomfortable with having religion shoved at them as though it’s the only “decent” way to live and breathe. They’re uncomfortable with someone deciding for them that they must go into a church to see a graduation, when a graduation is not a religious ceremony, and the school is not a religious school. Atheists would most likely see the situation completely differently if the ceremony in question was religious in nature, or at a religious school.

They might even “brave” the “discomfort” of entering a church if we were discussing a Christian ceremony. Sometimes, people who aren’t Jewish attend things like bar mitzvahs, which are held in synagogues. They’ll go into the synagogue for it, instead of protesting the location, because they know it’s a Jewish ceremony. For Klingenschmitt to assume that atheists are uncomfortable with merely even walking into a church shows that he’s like most evangelicals. He doesn’t get it

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Project Open Hand Expands Services, Launches Food = Medicine Pilot Study

projectopen3By Kevin Winge

For nearly 30 years, Project Open Hand has been here for our community.

In the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, founder Ruth Brinker prepared healthy dinners for seven men who were dying of AIDS. On the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake, Project Open Hand began serving clients in Alameda County. In 1998, when the Salvation Army lost its contract to provide meals to seniors because it didn’t comply with San Francisco’s domestic partners law, Project Open Hand stepped up. When women with breast cancer told us that they needed nutritious meals, we started serving them as well.

Since 1985, Project Open Hand has prepared and delivered more than 16 million life-sustaining meals to sick and elderly neighbors. We continue to provide our signature “meals with love” to people with HIV, breast cancer and seniors. And now, once again, we are stepping up to do more.

This summer, we’re expanding our grocery and meal services to serve people living with acute symptoms of more than ten additional disease diagnoses, including diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C, among others. With this expansion, we are using the skills we gained through almost 30 years of helping our clients survive and thrive and leveraging our core strength: providing the healthiest meals possible for people in the Bay Area with the greatest medical need for good nutrition.

Like all nonprofit organizations, Project Open Hand doesn’t exist in a bubble. External forces—like the economy, politics, medical advances and changes in our healthcare system—all impact our work. As an example, with new medical innovations, people with HIV are living longer and managing the disease instead of dying from it. We no longer need to provide meals for those who are in good health, and we want to provide meals for those most in need. This changing landscape means that some of the clients we currently serve, those who are healthier, may no longer qualify for services.

projectopen2For clients who are no longer eligible, we will refer and transition them to other food resources in our community, including our Senior Lunch Program located in 12 sites across San Francisco. And for those HIV+ clients who need us and are still struggling with the severe symptoms of this disease, we remain committed and continue to stand by their sides.

To support our expansion, we are working hard to demonstrate the value of our nutrition services, so we can continue to attract new partners and funding. To that end, we recently launched our Food = Medicine Pilot Study in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) AIDS Research Institute.

Approximately 60 study participants with HIV and/or diabetes will have 100% of their nutritional needs met by Project Open Hand. In addition to nutritious meals, participants will receive intensive case management and enhanced nutritional counseling and education. The UCSF research team will monitor participants’ physical and mental health, frequency of doctor and emergency room visits, adherence to therapy and medical costs. If successful, this study will demonstrate what Project Open Hand has known anecdotally for three decades, that Food = Medicine.

By demonstrating the healthcare benefits of our nutrition services, the pilot study will enable Project Open Hand to seize new funding opportunities, continue to expand our services, and explore the opportunities for reimbursement under the Affordable Care Act—but most of all, serve our clients better.

projectopenProject Open Hand will be here for as long as there is a need for our life-sustaining nutrition. As we have done since Ruth Brinker prepared and delivered those very first meals, we will continue to depend on the community to realize our vision: “No one who is sick or elderly in our community will go without nutritious meals with love.”

Kevin Winge is the Executive Director of Project Open Hand.

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Castro Street’s Hot Cop Is the Batman to Sexy Mug Shot Guy’s Joker

He’s handsome, ridiculously buff, and armed with one of those toothpaste-commercial smiles. Chris Kohrs is the hot cop fighting crime in San Francisco’s historic gay neighborhood.

San Francisco police officer Chris Kohrs is hotter than the devil’s backside on an August day in Georgia. At 36, and almost six feet tall, Kohrs looks like he just stepped out of a GQ centerfold. He’s upsettingly handsome, he’s got one of those smiles you see in toothpaste commercials and a body that would make Mario Lopez run to the gym. All that would be tolerable if he were an arrogant jerk, or just plain dumb. Sadly, he is neither.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” says Kohrs when I tracked him down in his hometown. “They call me ‘Castro’s Finest’ now.”

These days Kohrs is enjoying the popularity usually reserved for Hollywood stars. He’s had dozens of articles written about him, he’s got his own fan club and just in the last couple of days he’s been approached to appear on magazine covers and even Good Morning America.

In his six years on the force, Kohrs has kicked some Grade A ass. Once he lunged at a man trying to rob a convenience store, subduing him with his bare hands. Another time, he came to the rescue of a young woman whose iPhone had been snatched by a petty thief. Kohrs, who wasn’t even on duty at the time, heard the girl screaming for help and chased the perpetrator on foot until finally tackling him to the ground. The phone was later returned to its stunned owner, who must have felt like an extra in a superhero movie.

Kohrs is one cool dude under fire. But all his training and experience couldn’t have prepared him for what happened when a stranger on the street asked to take his picture. Kohrs, who was assigned to the legendary gay Castro district that day, obliged. It was just another civilian showing support for the SFPD. Or so he thought.

Turns out, the man from the Castro was gay novelist Mark Abramson. And Abramson’s innocent Facebook post about a young cop, whose name he didn’t even know, quickly went viral, sparking a mini-sensation within the gay community. Soon, social media feeds from coast to coast (and even across the pond) were blowing up with pictures of the young officer’s chiseled face. It wasn’t long before gay blogs and news sites took notice, writing articles about Kohrs, who became known simply as “The Hot Cop of Castro Street.”

What’s most surprising about all this is the fact that Kohrs had no inkling any of it was happening. “I’m not really a Facebook kinda guy,” he says. He actually first got wind of the story after his colleagues printed out some of the articles and taped them all over the precinct walls. “I was never going to live that down,” he says, laughing.

Then, Kohrs got another shout-out, this time from one of the city’s most famous residents, Armistead Maupin, author of the best-selling series Tales of the City. Maupin posted a picture of Kohrs on his Facebook page with the caption: “I finally got to lay eyes on the legendary Hot Cop of Castro Street.” Kohrs was now a bona-fide gay-lebrity with A-list admirers.

Hot Cop

It didn’t hurt that Kohrs could be Channing Tatum’s twin brother in Magic Mike. He looks like he’s been plucked straight out of central casting. And then, of course, there’s that uniform.

“He looks like a porn star,” says Abramson, the man responsible for Kohrs’s newfound fame. “But of course, he’s anything but. He’s just a really nice guy.”

It didn’t take long before the gays came flocking down to the Castro to see the hot cop everyone’s been talking about. And not just men. “I’d jump the fence for that,” said Donna Merlino, a 54-year-old lesbian from San Francisco. Merlino says she first noticed him on her Facebook feed and quickly became a die-hard Kohrs fan. “He looks so sweet and innocent, with a hint of sexuality.”

Ironically, the man who wasn’t even on Facebook now has his own Facebook fan page. “Obviously his good looks were the initial reason he caught everyone’s attention, but when people started to recognize him and talk to him, they saw what a great guy he was,” says Nathan Tatterson, creator of Kohrs’ fan page. “He is nice, funny, and professional, traits most people don’t associate with police officers these days.” The page, which was created on June 26, has already garnered an impressive 9,500 likes in only a few weeks.

“I’m flattered, it’s been a hoot.”

Kohrs is getting attention far beyond the Bay Area. According to Tatterson, he has admirers from as far as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and even Pakistan. But, aside from the United States, the biggest country that’s gone gaga over Kohrs is France. “In France, we are not used to that kind of gay-friendly officer, and that’s why I had a crush on him,” says Philippe Lowinski, a 53-year-old from the suburbs of Paris. Lowinski became so enamored with Kohrs, he’s traveling all the way to San Francisco in August just to meet him. “He seems like such a nice guy. En plus il est charmant,” he says in French, meaning, he’s also very charming.

It’s a far cry from the White Night riots, in May of 1979, when gay men stormed San Francisco’s City Hall following the lenient sentencing of Dan White, a city supervisor charged with murdering Harvey Milk months earlier. White had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter, the lightest possible sentence for his crime. The announcement triggered a violent reaction from the gay community, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, as well as injuries to police officers. Cops then retaliated with a raid of their own on a gay bar in the Castro.

“As a child and teenager, I feared the police and hated them. They were awful,” says gay rights activist and San Francisco resident Cleve Jones. “They were violent and homophobic and racist. When I arrived here, the cops were a symbol of what we were fighting against.”

Public relations guru Howard Bragman says the SFPD “is well aware that this is helping build a bridge to one of their most important constituencies in San Francisco.”

It’s no surprise then, that today’s SFPD couldn’t be happier that Kohrs is getting this kind of attention now.

“I think that it’s a great story, that we have an officer with a fan base in the Castro,” Albie Esparza, public information officer for the SFPD, tells me. “It’s always reassuring when we hear about any positive interaction between one of our officers and the community that we serve.”

Apparently, both Officer Kohrs and his bosses see his newfound popularity with gays as a badge of honor.

“I’m flattered, it’s been a hoot,” says Kohrs, flashing his signature aw-shucks smile. “If I can make one person’s day, then I’ve done my job.”

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Coming Out Video Series Begins Raising Money For Public Broadcasting Documentary

The Pye Harris Legacy Project (PHLP), non-profit that teaches young people about the modern LGBT movement through interviews with elders, has begun a crowdsourcing campaign to edit videos into one-hour documentary.  The project hopes to raise $60,000 to edit existing interviews and add more historical footage and photos of the Coming Out experience from different eras.

The Projects four short videos (Coming Out in the 1950s. Coming Out in the 1960s, Coming Out in the 1970s, and Coming Out in the 1980s) are available on youtube and have over 50,000 views.   The success of the short videos has garnered interest from other non-profits and public broadcasting stations to create a longer video that can be broadcast in 2016.

“We are hoping that our Indiegogo campaign will get the word out so we can get these stories out to as many kids as possible” said Phil Siegel, Executive Director of PHLP.  “We want future activists to know that we all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us, and that the LGBT movement did not just happen by itself.   We have to make sure that we never become complacent.”

PLHP has also created a companion curriculum that has been distributed to schools that dovetail with the videos.  The curriculum includes a series of activities and age-appropriate questions for young people to ask elders so they can learn directly from those who Came Out in other times.

Siegel adds “If we can just get one suicidal kid to realize that he/she is not alone, we have done our job.”

The PHLP was created in 2012 in honor of Ed Pye and Bob Harris, who met after WWII and were together for over 50 years until Mr. Harris death in 2008.   Mr. Pye, who came out in the 1930s, created the PLHP to teach young people that there is a lot to learn from those who came before.   And even though the social climates change, Coming Out can always be difficult if you thing you are alone.

For additional information or to donate to the series, go to

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-coming-out-project-in-5-decades-they-changed-the-world

 

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After Hobby Lobby, Seven Top LGBT And Civil Rights Orgs Drop Support For ENDA

Seven of the nation’s top LGBT and civil rights organizations today have announced they are withdrawing support for ENDA after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

After 40 years, the LGBT community in part has decided that not only is ENDA not good enough, it’s potentially dangerous because the legislation contains strong carve outs for religious organizations. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, ENDA could become a license to discriminate rather than the legal protection it was designed to be.

In a dramatic move today, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announced it was dropping support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Hours later, a coalition of five LGBT legal and civil rights groups — the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Transgender Law Center — made a similar announcement. (Pride at Work announced they are dropping support after this article was originally published .)

The coalition of five groups calls their request “a simple one.”

HRC Charts Lone Course, Reiterates Support For ENDA Despite Religious Exemptions
“Do not give religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT people when they have no such right to discriminate based on race, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information,” the group say in a joint statement just released. “Religiously affiliated organizations are allowed to make hiring decisions based on their religion, but nothing in federal law authorizes discrimination by those organizations based on any other protected characteristic, and the rule should be the same for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Religious organizations are free to choose their ministers or faith leaders, and adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression will not change that.”

They say their “concerns are not hypothetical” and that “the American people oppose efforts to misuse religious liberty as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people.” Increasingly, this is what employment discrimination against LGBT people looks like.

Take the example of Matthew Barrett.

In July 2013, Matthew was offered a job as food services director at Fontbonne Academy, a college prep high school in Milton, Massachusetts that is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston.  Fontbonne Academy has employees and admits students of various faiths. Yet, two days after Matthew listed his husband as his emergency contact on the standard employment paperwork, and despite twenty years of work in the food services industry, his job offer was rescinded.  Although nothing about the food services job involved religious rituals or teaching, Matthew was told by an administrator that the school was unable to hire him because “the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.” The current version of ENDA would authorize this sexual orientation discrimination.

The groups add that until the “discriminatory exemption is removed so that anti-LGBT discrimination is treated the same as race, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information under federal workplace laws,” they think “ENDA should not move forward in Congress.”

That request will likely be granted, as Speaker John Boehner has stated he believes LGBT people — as do the majority of Americans, wrongly – are already protected and can’t be fired for being LGBT. Boehner refuses to bring ENDA for a vote.

“In addition,” the coalition states, “we will oppose any similar provisions at the state and local level.  We are hopeful that the many members of Congress who support this historic, critically important legislation will agree that singling out LGBT people for an unequal and unfair exemption from basic workplace protection falls unacceptably short of the civil rights standards that have served our nation well against other types of discrimination for fifty years.  We stand ready and eager to work with them to achieve the long-sought goal of explicit, effective federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.”

Rea Carey, Executive Director, Task Force Action Fund, adds:  ”The campaign to create broad religious exemptions for employment protections repeats a pattern we¹ve seen before in methodically undermining voting rights, women¹s access to reproductive health and affirmative action. It is time for fair minded people to block this momentum, rather than help speed it into law. We need new federal non-discrimination legislation that contains a reasonable religious accommodation. LGBT people should have the same protections as those contained in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Legal equality is legal equality.”

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Fake Job Applications Prove There’s Real LGBT Discrimination in HirinQ

Jennifer and Michelle both apply for an administrative assistant position at Exxon Mobil in Illinois.

They went to the same high school and the same college, and they have a similar work history, though Jennifer got better grades and achieved management positions. Yet it’s Michelle who gets the callback for an interview.

The only other real difference between the two is that Jennifer has a history of LGBT activism.

If you haven’t already guessed, Jennifer and Michelle are the names on fake resumes that were submitted to eight different federal contractors as part of a recent study by the Equal Rights Center and Freedom to Work, an LGBT organization pushing for equality in the workplace. Although the applicants in the study are fictional, the results are very real: LGBT applicants were 23 percent less likely to get an interview than their less-qualified heterosexual counterparts.

“Despite significant progress in advancing civil rights and equality, employment discrimination remains a persistent barrier for the LGBT community,” said Melvina Ford, executive director of the Equal Rights Center.


(Photo: Freedom To Work)

A pair of resumes was submitted for 100 different jobs at eight different federal contractors, including Exxon Mobil and General Electric Co. Seven of the selected companies have their own internal employment policies allowing for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The study began in December 2012 after advocates were informed that President Barack Obama wouldn’t be signing an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against prospective employees based on sexual orientation or identity. This “long-stalled” order was at the forefront of their minds when they decided to test how severe LGBT discrimination really was, said Tico Almeida, president and founder of Freedom to Work.

“As much progress as our LGBT community has made in freedom to marry, there’s still a lot to be done to make sure our LGBT community has the freedom to work without discrimination,” said Almeida.

The study lasted a year, ending in December 2013, and the results were released earlier this week. Although not every resume received a callback, the straight applicants received callbacks more often, even though they were much less qualified. The findings have already been shared with the White House and the Labor Department, Almeida said.

The results of the report come just a few weeks after Obama announced he would finally be moving forward with the federal contractor executive order.

Federal contractors employ about 20 percent of the total U.S. workforce, and a few key employers have been publicly criticized for refusing to protect LGBT workers. Exxon Mobil, for one, has repeatedly shot down proposals that would ban discrimination of LGBT employees.

“An executive order by President Obama would force Exxon Mobil to adopt LGBT workplace protections in order to continue profiting from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts,” said Almeida.

Workplace discrimination comes in many forms, experts say, from being passed over for promotions to receiving a lower salary, being unjustly fired, or being harassed. There is currently no federal law protecting LGBT workers from hiring and employment discrimination.

While some states have protective measures, it’s still legal in 29 states to fire or refuse employment to a person based on sexual orientation.

Although Almeida is confident the president will sign the executive order this time around, he and many other LGBT advocates support more sweeping, comprehensive change.

This comes in the form of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a piece of legislation—with its own shortfalls—that passed the Senate last year but has petered out in the House.

LGBT supporters continue to raise money and lobby for ENDA, and Almeida’s Freedom to Work has launched a concentrated campaign to target specific prospective ENDA supporters in the House. The 218 project, named for the magic number needed for majority support, will feature five House members a week and encourage voters to contact them voicing their support for antidiscrimination legislation.

 

Haley Fox, TakePart

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BROADWAY AND TELEVISION STAR CHEYENNE JACKSON SINGS MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES WITH THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY JULY 24-25 IN DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL

Featuring special guest appearances by

Broadway Star Faith Prince and drag artist Courtney Act

After starring in sold-out concerts of West Side Story with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) last season, Broadway and television star Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock, Glee) returns to perform with the SFS in “Hello, Gorgeous!” July 24 and 25 in Davies Symphony Hall. The program features favorite movie and musical songs like “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “A Little Less Conversation” from Live a Little, Love a Little, and “Luck Be A Lady” from Guys and Dolls, as well as songs from GoldfingerWest Side Story, Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!,and more. Jackson is joined by two special guest performers for these concerts: singer Faith Prince—known for her Tony Award-winning performance in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls—and Australian drag queen, pop singer, and entertainer Courtney Act.

Jackson was last seen at Davies Symphony Hall in the role of Tony in MTT and the SFS’s complete concert performances of Bernstein’s West Side Story in 2013. The CD recording from those performances was released on the Orchestra’s own SFS Media label in June.

Prior to his San Francisco Symphony appearances, Cheyenne Jackson performs at the opening ceremonies for the San Francisco AIDS Walk on Sunday, July 20 in Golden Gate Park. Jackson is an ardent supporter of a variety of social issues, including LGBT rights, marriage equality, and HIV/AIDS research. He is a board- appointed international ambassador for amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), and he serves as the national ambassador for HMI (The Hetrick-Martin Institute). He was also a Grand Marshal of San Francisco’s 2013 Pride Parade.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

An actor, singer, and songwriter, Cheyenne Jackson released his latest album of original music, “I’m Blue, Skies” on SONY/ATV in 2013. Jackson’s television roles have included series regular Danny Baker on NBC’s 30 Rock, and as Dustin Goolsby, the coach of Vocal Adrenaline on the TV seriesGlee. He recently began filming a pilot entitled Open in February which will air on HBO. In 2012, he starred on Broadway opposite Henry Winkler, Ari Graynor, and Alicia Silverstone in David West Read’s play The Performers. He appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s Emmy award-winning film Behind the Candelabra, a Liberace biopic, with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. He works regularly in films, including the portrayal of Mark Bingham in the 2006 Academy Award-nominated United 93The Green opposite Julia Ormond and Ileana Douglas, Price Check with Parker Posey, and Lola Versus. Upcoming 2014 films include Mutual FriendsLucky StiffSix Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Gena Rowlands, Opening NightThe Song with Christopher Lloyd and Kevin Pollak, and Day out of Days.

On and Off Broadway, Jackson has starred in 8Finian’s Rainbow (Drama Desk nomination), Damn YankeesXanadu (Drama League and Drama Desk nominations) The Agony & the AgonyAll Shook Up (Theater World Award, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle nominations), the premiere cast of Altar BoyzAidaThoroughly Modern MillieOn the 20th Century, and The 24 Hour Plays. Other TV credits includeFamily Practice, Life on Mars, Ugly Betty, It Takes a Village, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Local Talent. In concert, he has sold out Carnegie Hall twice, in “The Power of Two” in 2010 with Michael Feinstein followed by his solo debut concert with the New York Pops in 2011 entitled “Music of the Mad Men Era.”

 

Faith Prince has been dazzling Broadway audiences since winning the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance as Ms. Adelaide in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls. She most recently starred as Miss Hannigan in the Broadway revival of Annie. In 2008, she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for A Catered Affair.  Other Broadway credits include The Little Mermaid, Bells Are Ringing (Tony, DD, OCC nominations), Nick & Nora (OCC Award), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Tony, DD nominations), Little MeThe Dead, andNoises Off.  She also starred in the world premiere of Terrence McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion and in the national tour of the Broadway hit Billy Elliott. Ms. Price just wrapped her five-season run as Brooke Elliott’s mother on Lifetime’s hit series Drop Dead Diva.  She was a series regular on Showtime’s Huff, and was a recurring character for five seasons on Spin City. Other television credits include Melissa & JoeyA Gifted Man, Happy Endings, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, FaithHouse, Medium, Sweet Potato QueensMonk, Now and Again, Welcome To New York, and Law and Order.  Film credits include Our Very OwnPicture PerfectDave, and My Father the Hero. Faith Prince just wrapped an Australian concert tour with her Annie co-star Anthony Warlow, which included performances at the Sydney Opera House and the Adelaide Festival. She works often with the Boston Pops, Utah Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, and Philly Pops, and starred in the Orlando Philharmonic’s concert version of Sweeney Todd. Her most recent album, Total Faith, was recorded at the Royal Room in the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach and was released by Broadway Records.

Courtney Act recently finished in the top 3 of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which premiered on Viacom’s Logo Network in February 2014. Bette Midler has described her as a “sensation” and Chita Rivera says of her, “Immense recognition is on the way.” Ms. Act first garnered attention in 2003, when a young gentleman from Sydney named Shane Jenek tried out for Australian Idol. Although he did not quite make the cut, he wasn’t discouraged. Shane bent the rules and his gender, returning the next day as Courtney Act, and made it through to the finals. Courtney’s explosive energetic performing style, coupled with her joyous personality, sent audiences wild and Australia had a new, albeit slightly unconventional, sweetheart. Her appearance on Australian Idol led to the phenomenally successful national arena tour and a record deal with Sony/BMG. Over the coming years, Courtney Act forged a name for herself in the Australian entertainment industry, garnering chart hits, television appearances, and national advertising campaigns. She was voted one FHM’s World’s Top 100 Sexiest Women (despite not actually being a woman), sang at Lady Gaga’s private birthday party, and opened for Gaga on her Australian club tour. Courtney Act has written for such publications as NWTV WeekDNA Magazine and has appeared as a social reporter for The Daily Telegraph. New York’s Out Magazine named her one of the World’s Most Influential People.

 

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Bump in the Road for Pinterest: Design Center Not Up for Grabs

It looks like Pinterest won’t be pinning its headquarters in Showplace Square after all.

A measure that would have replaced dozens of tenants at 2 Henry Adams St. with a San Francisco headquarters for the tech darling is all but dead after the Board of Supervisors Land Use & Economic Development Committee voted Monday to table the matter indefinitely.

RREEF, the owner of San Francisco Design Center at Showplace Square, had sought to take advantage of a city zoning ordinance that allows owners of designated historic landmarks to change zoning from so-called PDR – production, distribution and repair – to traditional office space. That would have allowed Pinterest to locate its offices there.

While Supervisor Malia Cohen said the Design Center building deserves landmark designation, she was uncomfortable with the property owner’s plans to move many longtime design businesses out. As the sponsor of the property’s landmark legislation, Cohen is the only supervisor who can revive it. She said she has no intention of doing so.

The 600,000-square-foot San Francisco Design Center consists of two buildings: 2 Henry Adams St. and 101 Henry Adams St. While some of the design center’s tenants supported Pinterest moving into the building, many others said it would lead to the demise of a collection of home-furnishing showrooms just rebounding from the recession.

Bay West Development, the management company that operates the property on behalf of RREEF, pulled out all the stops in its effort to persuade tenants, and the committee, to support the landmark designation. For the 77 tenants in the 2 Henry Adams building, the management company promised to find space for the vast majority of them, either in the 20 percent of 2 Henry Adams that would have remained PDR or across the street at 101 Henry Adams.

Bay West partner Sean Murphy had said his group would pay brokerage fees and relocation costs for displaced tenants. Pinterest sweetened the pot, saying it would pay the first two months’ rent to any tenants made to leave the design center.

But Cohen stressed that the land-marking bill was not about Pinterest, or even the design center. Some 15 buildings totaling 1 million square feet could be landmarked and converted to office space from PDR under the land-marking loophole, she said.

She said the legislation allowing landmarked property to convert to office space is meant as an economic incentive for property owners to do expensive seismic retrofits and renovation. But 2 Henry Adams has been “impeccably maintained through the downturn.”

“This isn’t in the spirit of the code or the landmark legislation,” she said. “We are not talking about one building, but 15.”

She also said she didn’t buy Bay West’s assurances about the tenants. “I still think there is significant amount of confusion about what will happen with the tenants,” she said.

After the vote, a spokesman for Bay West said the group was “disappointed the item was tabled” but that it would continue to seek a compromise. “We agree with them that what the Design District has always been about is finding a good mix of uses,” said spokesmanCharlie Goodyear.

John McEvoy, an art dealer who has been in the design center for 24 years, said Pinterest is not the issue. “I use Pinterest. It could be State Farm Insurance. The problem is putting office tenants in the shrinking PDR space of San Francisco.”

 

From SF Gate

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When Conservatives Engage in Islamophobia and Homophobia, and Then Evoke Nazi Analogies, Hitler Smiles Gleefully In Hell

 

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Conservative media personalities from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh, as well as lawmakers and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, have done their best to create a revisionist historical narrative of the Holocaust, Third Reich, and Nazism.Saddam is another Hitler, therefore we must invade Iraq and engage in nation building through a decade of insurgent war. Liberals who admonish Bill O’Reilly are engaging in Nazi tactics by lying, even though politicians throughout history have lied and lying (although relevant) isn’t what allowed Hitler to engage in genocide or conquer Europe. Another great leap of logic is the talking point claiming Nazi Germany didn’t allow citizens gun ownership, so therefore anyone who advocates gun control is allowing another Nazi Germany.

Well, Hitler also had a German Shepherd and was a vegetarian, but that doesn’t make PETA a fascist organization or vegetarians Nazis. In addition, making childish leaps of logic is the hallmark of those who claim Islam is responsible for terrorism, even though George Bush never had a problem dancing with a Saudi prince and said verbatim after 9/11 that, “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends.” There are many other examples of conservatives mangling historical accuracy to further an extreme agenda, but these historically inaccurate analogies often begin with an altered definition of words. Altering words in the hopes of marginalizing and demonizing groups based on their identity, for example condemning someone for having a beard or labeling homosexuals asabnormal, is how Goebbels, Hitler, and the Nazis killed six million Jews and millions of other human beings-including homosexuals. According to the University of Minnesota, up to 63,000 men were convicted of homosexuality in the Third Reich and about 15,000 or more were murdered in concentration camps.

In order to legitimize a new, right-wing version of history (a history where the NRA would have overthrown Hitler), people like Glenn Beck in particular have worked hard to change the definition of words like, “racism.” Whereas the Willie Horton ads of years past once served a purpose for Republicans, today even mentioning something is racist is met with a similar response. To Glenn Beck, for example, racism is no longer minorities claiming persecution because of the color of their skin or ethnic background. Rather, racism according to many conservatives like Beck is having the audacity to claim someone is racist for making outlandish statements like, “Obama has a deep seeded hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Furthermore, Islamophobic diatribes from Bill O’Reilly like, “he absolutely looked like a Muslim… I stand by it” are also used by Republicans and conservatives to demonize, or marginalize a segment of the population. Apparently looking like a Muslim is a bad thing to the Fox News pundit, even though we’ve spent over a decade in two insurgent wars trying to help Muslims and engaging in nation building within two Muslim countries. Also, the LGBT community has never been immune to ignorant statements from conservatives, including Rick Perry’s recent gem (the same Rick Perry with the N-word at the entrance of his Texas ranch) when he stated, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” As for the level of vitriol the LGBT community has faced for decades, conservatives have often times utilized religion to claim homosexuals could be “cured” from their homosexuality, as well as claiming for years that homosexuality was a sin.

The GOP’s level of homophobia is far more reminiscent of the Third Reich than any of the ridiculous analogies of liberals being fascist for wanting to make gay marriage legal or enact sensible gun legislation. According to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, homosexuals were a targeted group in the Third Reich:

Hatred of homosexuals was determined by both party ideology and the personal obsessions of the leaders, and especially of Heinrich Himmler, the main originator of the plan to exterminate homosexuals. For Himmler and other Nazi ideologues, homosexuals — like Jews — were the incarnation of degeneracy. They saw Jews and homosexuals as outsiders and inferior human beings who threatened the purity of der Volk…They accused Jews and homosexuals of using the fact that they were different as a weapon against society.

No, Republicans are not Nazis. However, many in the GOP see homosexuals as “outsiders” and have often claimed a “homosexual agenda,” or conspiracy to further LGBT rights. As Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted on his Facebook page a little while back, “Part of the homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle.”

As for other types of fear mongering, a recent Heritage foundation conference exemplified a sad display of Islamophobia. During the panel discussion, American University Law student Saba Ahmed made the relevant point that most Muslims are good people, yet are labeled as threats by the media and lawmakers. Brigitte Gabriel, a panelist at the Heritage event, responded by using the following illogical and dangerous analogy:

“When you look throughout history, most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and, as a result, 60 million died…”

“On Sept. 11, we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims in the United States. It took 19 hijackers, 19 radicals, to bring the United States to its knees… the peaceful majority were irrelevant.

What better way to combat prejudice and ignorance than focusing on 19 terrorists while completely marginalizing 2.3 million innocent human beings? Reducing all of WWII to less than three sentences was also classic.

The truth of the matter is that genocidal regimes are started through words and propaganda that marginalize a certain group; a minority of people who are blamed for the perceived or actual infractions of a few within their religion, race, or ethnic group. While Rutgers University Professor Emeritus Peter Golden has explained that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are ”two ugly twins”, the fact that both hatreds begin with prejudice and dangerous leaps of logic (“the peaceful majority were irrelevant”) speaks volumes. Also, as explained by Edward Kissi inAuschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, genocides are enabled by fear, prejudice, and myth making:

Genocide happens through a combination of factors: 1) ethnic prejudice, racism, and other forms of hatred; 2) fear of the other; 3) extreme forms of nationalism; 4) radical and absurd ideas of social change; 5) myth-making–just simply the idea of creating mythologies around a group, constructing the group as the embodiment of all evil; and 6) the desire on the part of the state to engage in extreme propaganda against the group that motivates large numbers of people to go out and destroy that particular group.

Which political party in the United States engages in “fear of the other?” How do both political parties in the U.S. view the LGBT community, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and people on government assistance? Which political party furthered the myth that President Obama is a Kenyan with a forged birth certificate, or that the ACA will lead to death panels?

As Jasjit Singh of SALDEF eloquently penned in a recent article, ignorant statements hurt all Americans:

“They have fostered a climate of fear and hostility, which has threatened the safety and liberty of millions of Americans — Sikh, Muslim and otherwise. We must stand up, not just as Sikh Americans, but as Americans, to defend tolerance and acceptance. The beard is not a threat. It is our right.

The political goal of making a different group become the enemy and “the other” is what every Hitler analogy should revolve around, not the vapid uses of quotes from Nazis that could apply to all politicians.

With every accusation that links all Muslims with terrorism, gay people with some genetic abnormality, or allegations painting a political rival as a traitor (Anne Coulter’s book, example), Adolf Hitler smiles gleefully from a blazing inferno below.

 

H.A. Goodman, from Huffington Post

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Z Space and Joe Goode Performance Group present two signature works by Joe Goode Wonderboy and 29 Effeminate Gestures

Joe Goode Performance Group and Z Space are pleased to present encore performances of two of choreographer Joe Goode‘s signature works, Wonderboy and29 Effeminate Gestures, September 25 – October 4, 2014. These performances build on JGPG and Z Space’s successful partnership, which began with the co-production of When We Fall Apart in 2012 and followed with HUSH in 2013.

 

An unexpected and poignant tale of a puppet that overcomes his peculiarity and gift of sensitivity to become a superhero, Wonderboy first premiered in 2008 to critical acclaim. Wonderboy was created by Goode in collaboration with celebrated puppeteer Basil Twist, who is best known for his underwater puppet show, Symphonie Fantastique. Showcasing Goode’s fearless innovation, the integration of puppet with dancers provides audiences with a unique creative experience highlighting the great humanity and sensitivity embodied in Twist’s puppet work. The operation of the puppet becomes part of the dance, at times invisible and other times integrated.

 

Harking back to 1987, Joe Goode’s now legendary 29 Effeminate Gestures is a 12-minute solo set to music by Erik Ian Walker. Stereotypes of masculinity form the basis for what the San Francisco Chronicle at the time called, “a masterpiece of gender deconstruction.” Now a full 27 years after its debut, this seminal (and often comic) work of social relevance takes to the stage in much different times. With performer Melecio Estrella taking over for Goode, this is an opportunity for multiple

generations to sit down and savor how far we’ve come, and perhaps ponder how far we still have to go.

 

29 Effeminate Gestures was a watershed work for me,” says Goode. “I pushed myself to take a very personal topic (the fear of being perceived as effeminate) and to delve into it, to stand on the precipice of what is scary and see if I could peel away some of the fear. To revisit such a work, and to translate it to another body, another soul, was a huge challenge. I was curious to see if I could relinquish ownership of the piece and let it assume new meaning with a new proprietor. The process of ‘turning it over’ has been less painful than I assumed. I have enjoyed watching it transform and yet still retain some of its original intent.”

 

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Ten Reasons Women Are Losing While Gays Keep Winning

Even as gay equality becomes one of the fastest-advancing civil rights causes in history, reactionaries are still turning back the clock for women. Why?

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, among its many troubling consequences, is yet another entry in the latest disturbing trend of civil rights cases, in which gays win, and women lose.

Juxtapose Hobby Lobby with the recent fate of Arizona’s “Turn the Gays Away” bill. In Arizona, a religious exemption that would allow business owners to refuse to serve gay people died a fiery death. The issue was basically the same as inHobby Lobby: when businesses can discriminate on the basis of religion. Yet gays won, and women lost.

This has been going on for years. Consider: in 2004, being gay was a fireable offense in a majority of states and in the U.S. military. The first same-sex marriage case, in Massachusetts, had just been decided. It had only been a year since “sodomy” was illegal in 14 states. Gay politicians were few and far between; gay celebrities were closeted.

This week, a same-sex marriage ban was struck down in Kentucky, yet barely made the national news. Kentucky.

In the same 10 years, women’s autonomy to make their own healthcare decisions has been steadily eroded. Fifty-four abortion clinics have closed since 2010 alone, out of fewer than 800 nationwide. “Conscience clauses,” originally intended to allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions, have expanded to include entire health systems. Gag orders are in effect around the world. It hasn’t been this hard to get an abortion in 40 years.

Why is this happening? Why has the progress on LGBT equality been accompanied by regress on women’s equality? And can advocates for women take any lessons from advocates for LGBTs?

There are many possible answers to these questions. Here are my top 10.

1. Born This Way. In the 1970s and 1980s, gay liberation was about the liberation of sexual choice. “Homosexuality” was as much an act as an identity—as it still is today in some quarters of the Christian Right. Only in the 1990s did the mainstream LGBT movement (to the continuing consternation of radicals) start saying that gays are “born that way”—i.e., that sexual identity was a fundamental, and ultimately unchangeable, trait.

Abortion and contraception, however, are acts—as is the sexual act that brings them into necessity. And pro-choice activists have repeatedly failed to reframe them as issues of discrimination against women. Look at how Hobby Lobby went down: as long as women can purchase contraception elsewhere (act), who cares about the harm to their humanity (identity) that comes from an employer making decisions for them?

Unfortunately, even the name “pro-choice” reinforces that the movement is about acts and not identity: freedom of choice, not equality of status. This may be a noble goal, and it is one which many more left-wing LGBT activists still hope to pursue, but it is also one that plays badly at the polls—as the mainstream gay rights movement learned in the 1990s. ‘Thick’ liberation appeals to the left but alienates the center.  At present, many Americans oppose discrimination, but they’re okay with restricting personal freedoms. Sucks, but there it is.

2. Love is Love But Abortion Isn’t Childbirth. Together with the LGBT movement’s identity frame, it has successfully defined same-sex marriage in terms of universals to which everyone can (supposedly) relate: love, family, equality. The pro-choice/reproductive justice movement has not yet been able to do so. Yes, autonomy, freedom, and liberty are important, but the context in which those abstract values are enacted remains particular, not universal. Men cannot relate to being pregnant. Conservative women cannot relate to “choosing” to end a (prospective) life. And so far, there has not been a universalizable narrative in part because there is no …

3. Edie Windsor, by which I mean, poster children for the cause with compelling mainstream narratives. Personal stories have been shown, in several polls commissioned by the LGBT equality movement, to be the single most effective way to change minds and open hearts. The LGBT equality movement has many, from Ellen to Edie to Laverne Cox. The pro-choice movement? Not so much. Because of the continuing shame and stigma associated with abortion, and because abortion just is not that joyful, few women have shared their pro-choice journeys—and I can’t think of any who have done so as a redemptive celebration of life and freedom. Look what happened to Sandra Fluke, who was shamed as a slut for defending the right to control her body. (More on that below.) But even setting aside such outrageous rhetoric, abortion and contraception are just not as photogenic as weddings at City Hall. It’s easy to shame, stigmatize, other-ize. And shaming is a cycle: because women are ashamed to come forward, the stigma persists, shaming more women, etc.

4. Rights Lose. In addition to lacking compelling personal narratives, the “pro-choice” frame is itself a loser. This is why LGBT activists don’t use the term “gay rights” anymore: because no one likes them. In the nineties, “gay rights” came to mean “special rights,” which may be ridiculous, but which was a successful opposing frame. As with the act/identity dichotomy, “rights” also isn’t existential enough to persuade people. So LGBT activists changed their tune, shifting from rights-talk to love-talk, equality-talk, language about basic humanity. Gloria Steinem famously said that feminism is, at its core, humanism. But this message hasn’t trickled through. Many Americans still think reproductive justice is about the act of abortion, rather than the humanity of women.

5. It Pays to Have Dumb Enemies. Let’s face it: anti-gay zealots did themselves in.  Their cartoonish exaggerations of LGBT people, their closeted-gay leaders, their Bible-thumping—these play well to the base, but alienate moderates. So too the inability of all but a few conservatives to articulate a non-religious, non-bigoted-seeming objection to homosexuality. To be sure, there are wackos on the anti-choice side, with their photos of fetuses and extreme rhetoric. But the anti-choice mainstream has gotten much more sophisticated. They are putting women on the front lines (and unlike the “ex-gay” crowd, these women are only slightly creepy). They are winning incremental battles under the pretense of health regulations and parental consent. They are smart and methodical. And they don’t seem dumb, because…

6. Reasonable People (Including Women) Disagree. Arguably, reproductive freedom should not be controversial among small-l liberals.Whether a fetus is a “person” or not is a complex moral question, and since we can’t decide it as a society, it should be left up to the woman in whose body the fetus resides. But unfortunately, abortion remains controversial. It’s morally complicated, and it’s not discussed in polite company. I have no idea what celebrities or culture-makers think about it. (See: shame, above). Many people are ambivalent about it, including many ardent pro-choice activists. Think of the phrases “anti-abortion but pro-choice” or the view that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Can you think of reasonable analogues among LGBT activists? I can’t. And then there’s the brutal fact of how abortion is seen by its opponents. As loathsome as gay marriage may be to religious conservatives, at least it’s a perversion of marriage. Abortion is a kind of murder.

7. Capitalism. Because LGBT equality has been successfully framed in the context of discrimination and fairness, and because it has many privileged male champions, it has been easy for corporations to line up behind it, and reap the financial rewards of being seen as pro-gay. Sure, there are a few anti-gay outliers:Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, whatever. But this past month’s Pride festivities were like a showcase of Fortune 500 companies: banks, airlines, insurance companies. Meanwhile, I can’t think of a single A-list brand that is out, loud, and proud for reproductive freedom. That makes a big difference in terms of movement dollars and public awareness. Once again, more radical queers may bemoan the corporatization of the LGBT movement, but capitalism has a way of winning.

8. Feminism Has An Image Problem. If the pro-choice movement hasn’t been capitalist enough, it also hasn’t been grassroots enough. “Feminism” is now unfairly associated with a certain kind of privileged, coastal, irreligious white woman. For a variety of problematic reasons, it’s been disclaimed by celebrities and politicians who are obviously feminist in values but who aren’t “Feminist” by label. Most of this is unfair. But at the same time, the leadership of Planned Parenthood, NOW, and the other major mainstream organizations does tilt in that demographic direction. There is hope: younger organizations like Choice USA are more grounded in people of color, people of faith, and rural communities. And the majors are trying sincerely to catch up. But then there’s…

9. Religion. Contrary to the myth of “God vs. Gay,” progressive religious leaders have been instrumental in the LGBT equality movement from its very beginning. Like African-American civil rights leaders, they have made not just a neutral case but a positive moral case for equality. Where are the religious leaders preaching the gospel of bodily autonomy for women? Yes, there are excellent organizations like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women, and many others. But in my experience, I haven’t seen the message trickle down into the pews.  Nor are faith leaders are central to the pro-choice movement as they seem to be in the LGBT movement. Just a few years ago, it seemed like the religious obsession with homosexuality was a curse. But it turned out to have been a blessing, because it provoked the ‘down-home’ moral conversations that changed people’s minds. Secular arguments about the separation of church and state may play well to the base. But they don’t move the middle.

10. Sexism. Finally, and maybe it should have been first, is sexism. Men, including gay men, have much more access to power and privilege than women do. And while masculinity may be threatened by effeminate gay men crossing gender boundaries, the threat is far more immediate when it’s your own wife or daughter. If women can control their own bodies … well, what about my wife! Meanwhile, since women aren’t really people entitled to make decisions for themselves, it’s okay to slut-shame Sandra Fluke, claim (as one GOP Senator recently did) that birth control is for “recreational behavior,” and decide for everyone that fetuses are people. “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” has been used as a weapon against gay people for some time. But Adam and Eve has been a weapon against women since the moment the myth was invented.

I, for one, am hopeful that Hobby Lobby becomes a rallying cry. I hope it gets liberals to vote this November, and gets moderates to rethink their positions. But there’s also a danger of continually playing to the base, and that is ignoring the tactics and strategies that appeal to the movable middle. For that reason, I also hope Hobby Lobby helps create a revitalized, intersectional, pragmatic, faith-affirming, message-savvy pro-choice, reproductive justice, gender justice movement.

Unlike the tidal wave of state restrictions on reproductive choice, Hobby Lobbytook place in the spotlight, on the national stage. It remains to be seen whether it also signals a change in direction.

Jay Michaelson, as originally published in the SF Bay Times

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Anthony Turney Succumbs to Cancer

December 23, 1937 – July 4, 2014

Surrounded by family and friends, the Venerable Anthony Turney died peacefully on July 4, 2014 at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco following three years living with cancer. He was 76 years old. His death came on the 38th anniversary of his becoming a United States citizen.

Throughout his esteemed and varied career, and most recently as Archdeacon for the Arts at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, Anthony epitomized what it was to be a servant minister, both in the church and in the wider community. He was a profoundly gifted man, a lover of the arts, a gardener, a Brit, and a committed leader in non-profit endeavors. His career included positions as Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC; Executive Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem; Administrative Director of the San Francisco Opera; and CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation. He was ordained to the Episcopal diaconate in 1996 and continued to serve through his work at Grace Cathedral and in the Diocese of California.

Anthony was born in Sutton, England, on December 23, 1937, second oldest of three children within a family that soon broke up. His first years were spent in a Church of England children’s home for ‘waifs and strays,’ although he claimed he was never certain which of those he truly was. At the age of four, he was adopted by the Turney family who lived in Aylesbury, about 40 miles northeast of London. That same year marked the beginning of the Blitz, thus defining his childhood in wartime England. In his mid teens, he served as a police cadet and thought of joining the force. Then at the age of 17, Anthony joined the Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army and the most senior regiment of the Guards Division. Besides serving in the Guards’ iconic ceremonial duties outside of Buckingham Palace, Anthony also saw distinguished service under fire during the Suez Crisis. Afterwards, he spent his 20s at various jobs in London, “lost in the wilderness,” as he put it.

Anthony spoke often of the defining moments in his life, and the most significant of these was his move to the United States in 1968. He jumped right in to the non-profit world, discovering his talent for leadership in the arts. First establishing himself in New York City, Anthony made a name for himself as an independent event producer, especially proud to have once presented Buckminster Fuller at Carnegie Hall. Over the years he also lived in St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and finally, San Francisco. He became a United States citizen on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of his adopted country.

With the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Anthony’s life changed course once again. In mid 1991, he quit his work to care for his partner, James Brumbaugh, who was dying from AIDS-related complications. It was a devastating loss. In 1992, after completing Jimmy’s AIDS Memorial quilt panel, he asked, “What would you have me do now, God?” Within months, he moved permanently to San Francisco, was appointed CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation, and after only three years, would bring more than 42,000 panels of the Quilt to Washington, DC for display on the National Mall. It was viewed by 1.2 million people.

In 1996, Anthony was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2000, he was a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, assisting in the agency’s efforts to partner with faith-based organizations in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

In San Francisco, Anthony found his spiritual home at Grace Cathedral, where he served as parishioner, as Canon for Development, and then, through his vocational calling, as clergy. Several years before his retirement, Anthony was appointed Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, as such serving the whole community of deacons, administratively and pastorally, and was very much a person on whom the Bishop relied centrally and heavily. Afterwards, Anthony was named Archdeacon for the Arts at Grace Cathedral. He also served as Chaplain to the Dean’s Search Committee for Grace Cathedral. As an openly gay member of the clergy and a vocal advocate for marriage equality and other social justice issues, Anthony was a tireless champion of the LGBT community. An energetic volunteer and traveler, Anthony spent a month walking across Spain along the Camino de Santiago and successfully biked, three times, from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS LifeCycle. After Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a group from Grace Cathedral to assist in rebuilding a home for a young woman who had lost her home.

As accomplished as he was, his friends and family will remember Anthony most fondly for his commanding personality. He filled a room with grace and dignity – and then used his keen humor to destroy any remaining decorum. Anthony was an extraordinary friend and companion, always caring for those around him. He listened intensely and valued each person who came into his life. His friends and colleagues were blessed by his giving nature. Those who loved and admired Anthony continue to do so with passion and loyalty.

A final gift that Anthony bestowed on his friends and family was the way in which he lived out his dying. He did so with integrity, dignity and humor. Those who witnessed his journey learned with him. Dying often reveals a great many things about a person, especially those who are in the public arena. We watched him from a distance as he made his private journey, and, when invited, we walked part of that pilgrimage alongside him. We are grateful for both the public and the private blessings.

Anthony is survived by his San Francisco, St. Louis and Los Angeles family; his Episcopal Church friends and colleagues; beloved friends from across the world; his canine companion, Drew; and his newly found – and greatly loved – biological family in England and in Canada. His, truly, was a life well lived: in love, friendship and grace.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Anthony’s memory may be made to one of the following: The Sacred Dying Foundation (www.sacreddying.org), The Rainbow Honor Walk (www.rainbowhonorwalk.org), the Ghiberti Foundation, the arts and culture foundation at Grace Cathedral (www.gracecathedral.org) or the San Francisco Opera Archive (www.sfopera.com)

A funeral and celebration of Anthony’s life will be held at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (1100 California Street) on Monday, July 14 at 11am.

Anthony’s body in closed coffin will lay in the Cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Chapel beginning at 7am for all those wishing to pay their respects prior to the funeral.

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On Scene with Bill Wilson: Reflections on Pride

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Self – Portrait in Reflection

GLBT Pride weekend was one I will never forget. There was so much history on view. I had the opportunity to acknowledge and thank some the people who blazed the path for me to follow. Perhaps it was a combination of getting older and the advances that the GLBT community has achieved in the past several years, but I feel like I’ve been witness to a completion of a cycle. One that I never thought I would live to see.

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 Lea DeLaria and Tom Ammiano on Twin Peaks.

The fun started Saturday morning at the Pink Triangle ceremony on Twin Peaks. Lea DeLaria had been asked to read the history of the Pink Triangle. She did that with solemnity that befitted the occasion and reminded us that the pink triangle was not just an icon from the past, but a reminder of where hatred and bigotry can lead. It was a very poignant moment. When Lea found out before the ceremony began that Tom Ammiano was one of the speakers she asked if she could do his introduction. I can’t begin to do justice to the ensuing tribute to Tom. Suffice to say that Lea was Lea at her best and Tom was Tom at his best and everyone had a good laugh and more.

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 Felicia Elizondo (Compton Cafeteria survivor) and Miss Major Griffin-Gracey (Stonewall survivor).

Donna Sachet and Gary Virginia’s Pride Brunch to benefit the Positive Resource Center on Saturday always includes the opportunity to hear from the Community Grand Marshals and the celebrities being honored that year. This year there were two honorees that stuck out in my mind. Felica Elizonda was a participant in the Compton Cafeteria riots that preceded Stonewall by three years.  Also honored was Miss Major Griffin-Gracey. She participated in the Stonewall riots. Afterwards as I was leaving they were sitting together. I asked if I could take their picture. I told them that I was thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph them because I admired their courage in standing up and not taking it. Miss Major said something about me being younger. I interrupted and said, “I was born in 1950. I would have been 19 at Stonewall, but I was so deeply in denial that I really believed I wasn’t good enough. I accepted second class. It wasn’t until they stood their ground and said, “No we don’t have to take this.”  that I realized I was good enough.  I didn’t just have to accept second class.

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Congresswoman Pelosi, James Hormel ride in the parade on Sunday as Christine Pelosi and Stuart Milk walk along with her.

For the second year in a row Leader Nancy Pelsoi rode with James Hormel in the parade Sunday morning. To me there is no better symbol of political acceptance of the GLBT community than her participation in the parade. As there was a temporary pause n the parade I said to both Stuart and Christine, “We no longer have to explain why the GLBT community deserves their rights. A majority of people are on our side, it is the other side that now has to explain why we shouldn’t have equal rights and I attribute that change to politicians like her (Nancy Pelosi).” To be clear – I do not feel the struggle for equality is over. It isn’t. Justice can’t be just us. There are so many edges we still have to push to ensure that everyone is a part of our gains. I do however think that the impact of having a President and Vice-President on our side should not be minimized.

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We no longer need to mask our true selves.

 

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Oakland Mayor’s Race: Candidate Bryan Parker is Focus Of Unfair Domestic Violence Attacks

Bryan Parker, Candidate for Oakland Mayor, Faces Unfair DV Attacks

Bryan Parker, Candidate for Oakland Mayor, Faces Unfair Domestic Violence Attacks

Bryan Parker, the man I’m backing in the Oakland Mayor’s Race, is the focus of an unfair and hidden attack, writes Oakland blogger Zennie Abraham in his Zennie62.com blog. The rest of his post from yesterday is a fascinating overview of the silent attacks in political campaigns in Oakland, and in general.  We publish the column here for our readers:

For months, there’s been a whisper campaign brewing among Oakland insiders about the problems and issues of most all of the candidates. One of the most insidious rumor campaigns is about Bryan Parker. With 20 candidates now in the race for Oakland Mayor (not including Charlie The Dog) it was only a matter of time before the attacks started.

Soon after those whispers started, I received an anonymous package with two unverified, but authentic looking police reports filed against Parker a decade ago that describe two separate domestic issues between him and two different women, one in 2003 and one in 2006.

I have reached out to both of these women for comment and noticed that one is actually a volunteer on his campaign. I have chosen not to identify the women involved until at least I have the chance to discuss it with them.

As for the allegations in these reports, they show heated arguments between Parker and the women involved. They paint a less-than pretty picture and allege such things as harsh words and the brandishing of a hand gun used for intimidation purposes.

Bryan and I have talked about this issue before.

I reached out to Parker and he provided me with the statement that appears here (Bryan Parker Statement On Smear Campaign), saying he, too, had also received these police reports anonymously several months ago when someone left them in his fiancé’s mail box (which, if you think about it, is a form of harassment and intimidation).

 

Although Bryan was not surprised these incidents had come forward given the competitive mayoral campaign, he also had no awareness that these reports existed until now.
This made me curious as to the source of the information.

Considering the timing, all logic would suggest it was an operative of Mayor Jean Quan who was distributing these reports in an attempt to eliminate potential competition. Parker was one of the first candidates to announce and has remained a formidable frontrunner, although the field has recently grown widely.

Whether or not Quan’s campaign is behind this (and I’m told that it is, so Mayor Quan’s going to have to stop texting and driving and talking) there’s no doubt that the distribution of these reports are tactics being used by an opposing campaign.

For me, the question becomes should this be an issue?

These police reports were taken at the request of the women involved. No follow up investigation or reports exist about whether Parker was ever personally contacted by police about these allegations.

More important, no charges were ever filed against him because it appears the facts of both cases did not merit further investigation or action.

If all that is true – and these reports do in fact document heated disagreements between Parker and past partners – should they matter in this Mayor’s race?

As so often the case in politics, opponents are prone to cast broad and damaging allegations supported by little proof. Those of us who cover politics are accustomed to smear campaigns.

Character does matter and while it seems that Parker may have had some anger issues as a young man, but by all accounts there is just no semblance of that by anyone who has worked or dealt with him currently, including his fiancé Kamala Peart. (Kamala Peart Statement On Smear Campaign)

When reached for comment, Peart told me that she and Parker have shared the ups and downs expected of long-term relationships, saying: “While Bryan is not perfect, I know he is a man of kindness and compassion who has never been in trouble with the law or otherwise. I am proud to know that I am marrying a man who cared enough about his own self-improvement to seek counseling and work on his spirituality so that he could learn how to be the best man and partner he can be. I would never expose my children to a person who was anything other than kind and loving.”

I also spoke to some of my friends in law enforcement. They said that that they take and such reports seriously – if they had any merit, they would have followed up on them with urgency. The fact that they did not can only mean that officers found the allegations to be less than credible.

As I considered my pick for Oakland’s next mayor, I’ve weighed all of the issues against my own experience as Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, and President Of The Super Bowl XXXIX Bidding Committee, including character, vision and, more important, a candidate’s ability to lead. Bryan Parker is still my top contender, and in rank choice fashion followed by Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf and Joe Tuman, 1, 2, and 3.

Not only does this latest incident demonstrate personal growth in Bryan, but it also shows integrity – here’s a candidate who is not shying away from his past and who is using personal experience to become a better person and leader in the future.

Meanwhile, Mayor Quan still has to talk about the active lawsuit filed against her by Donna White, who asserts that an “entourage” representing Oakland Mayor Jean Quan blocked Ms. White from sitting in an area that’s normally designated for the disabled.

Stay tuned.

By Zennie Abraham of Zennie62.com, an Oakland political blogger and opinion leader.

 

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George Takei: What if Muslims Owned Hobby Lobby and Tried Imposing Sharia Law on Employees?

I’ve often said that these conservatives wading into the tricky waters of claiming “religious freedom” to justify breaking (or passing) laws should really be careful what they wish for.  It’s advice I’d give to all of those conservatives who are celebrating the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

And based on his brilliant response to that ruling, George Takei seems to be an individual who understands this as well.

Posting his response on the website for his play Allegiance, Takei made several fantastic points concerning not only the hypocrisy of this ruling, but the dangerous precedent it could set going forward.

Takei wrote, “The ruling elevates the rights of a FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION over those of its women employees and opens the door to all manner of claims that a company can refuse services based on its owner’s religion.”

“Think about the ramifications: As Justice Ginsberg’s stinging dissent pointed out, companies run by Scientologists could refuse to cover antidepressants, and those run by Jews or Hindus could refuse to cover medications derived from pigs (such as many anesthetics, intravenous fluids, or medications coated in gelatin).” he continued.

And that’s the slippery slope for which this ruling potentially opens the door.  Where will the line be drawn where you say to a company, “Sorry, but your religious beliefs aren’t protected?”

What if someone who owns a corporation is anti-vaccine?  What if they then say it’s against their religious beliefs for their company to offer health care that covers vaccines?  Based upon this Supreme Court ruling, they could theoretically be within their rights to claim that.

But the best point Takei made was in a direct shot at right-wing ignorance.  He wrote, “In this case, the owners happen to be deeply Christian; one wonders whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.”

As we all know, when these conservatives talk about “religious freedoms” they’re really only referring to Christianity.

He also went on to make the point that Hobby Lobby has invested in companies which produce the morning after pill and it gets much of its inventory from China, a country where forced abortions are common.

In other words, they’re blatant hypocrites.

“Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that,” Takei continued.  “Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue. Indeed, this is the same logic that certain restaurants and hotels have been trying to deploy to allow proprietors to refuse service to gay couples.”

Once again, he’s absolutely right.

For some reason conservatives seem to think that a lack of options equates to “more” freedom.  Before this ruling, women working at Hobby Lobby had the option to have access to these contraceptives.  Now they won’t.

If the owners of Hobby Lobby reject specific types of contraceptives, that’s fine.  They don’t have to use them.  But now their beliefs are being imposed on women who might not share those same beliefs.

Take a good look, because that’s how an employer can determine an employee’s health care coverage.  Because a woman working at Hobby Lobby now can’t get health care coverage for certain contraceptives, not because she’s against them, but because her employer is.

How exactly is that respecting her religious freedoms?

Takei also points out religion is a way many conservatives have tried justifying discrimination against homosexuals.  These “religious freedom” bills that essentially give businesses the right to deny service to homosexuals based on their religious beliefs.

The bottom line is, religion has no place in government or in business.  If someone wants to express their religious views to others, they need to start a church – not a for-profit corporation.

- See more at: http://www.forwardprogressives.com/george-takei-muslims-owned-hobby-lobby-tried-forcing-sharia-law-employees/#sthash.ZcPXE80H.dpuf

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