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Sunday, May 29, 2011

BLACK GAY PRIDE (ACCORDING TO BERNARD JACKSON)

This week I wanted to have a different voice on a particular subject.  I asked my friend Bernard Jackson to tell me what he thinks about Black Gay Pride.  His response was a broad and poignant understanding of this event.

BERNARD JACKSON
Gay America seams to be okay with having a marginalized community. Feeling less part of the whole gay community  in participation, organization and administration blacks and other ethnic groups hold there own pride festivals.  There was also the social, cultural, economic and political factors that prohibit all cultures full participation in the gay community movement.

The Black Gay pride was born when a small number of friends decided to gather at the beach Los Angeles in 1988 for an event known as ATB "At The Beach". Understanding the strong rejection of the larger black community, due to strong family structure, cultural and religious factor, many refused to be seen while others yearned to celebrate and enjoy their identity as black gay men. ATB was held several miles away from the city at Dunes Beach. The success of this even eventually started a movement that grew to be know as Black Gay Pride. Today Black Gay Prides is well established in over 30 cities in the United States with events that unite and bring together black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people to celebrate both their African heritage and sexual orientation.

There are those who wonder why there is such a thing as black gay pride.  Why can’t we all be one voice and stand united. The truth is were not united. Being gay in America means different things for different people. Wearing it as a badge has different ramifications for those who pick up the banner of “gaydom” and decide to run with it.  Not every one wants gay marriage nor is it the biggest issue in the gay community. If there was more cohesion within the community there would be more healing. For gay America to be one voice America has to be one voice. Unfortunately I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

It’s important to see communicate and fellowship with others who have similar experiences, mindset and understanding. Internationally we’ll all americans. Internally we sub divide ourselves, our friendships and our communities. Our bars are sub divided into categories, where we choose to live and congregate gets sub divided. Its part of being American.

Friday, May 27, 2011

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANGEL POVENTUD

Angel Poventud is one of Atlanta’s gay icons. Everyone knows who he is—some for very different reasons than others.  Some know him as “that Latin guy with the long hair that rides his roller blades while wearing a green dress and smiling a lot”.  Some know him as the guy who is making the Beltine happen.  Some even know him as the best option for the next mayor of Atlanta.

Angel is a very dear friend of mine—but if you have ever met him, even only once, would be inclined to say the same thing.  He has no capacity for ignorance, hate, or ill intentions.  He is the most loving and caring creature you could meet.  He lives for Atlanta, and the bettering of many aspects of the city.  Without people like Angel, my faith in humanity would take a sore beating.

No matter what, people know Angel as prominent member of the gay community and the Atlanta community alike.  He is wonderfully optimistic and naturally progressive, and he lives to invoke positive change in individuals, communities, local politics, and Atlanta as a whole.

As I conduct this interview, he is cooking lunch for a slew of visitors headed to his home.  This weekend is Mondo Homo—an annual queer arts and music festival of gigantic independent proportions.  This festival draws lots of Radical Faeries from around the country—and most of them end up at Angel’s to eat at least once during their stay.  Angel is preparing a three-course meal.  Everything is entirely vegan, ridiculously healthy, and undeniably better than anything you can find in an Atlanta restaurant— R. Thomas: eat your heart out.

Have you ever heard of the rail transit system that Atlanta is building, the Beltline?  You probably wouldn’t have heard about it if it weren’t for Angel.  Since the idea was put out there, Angel has made it his mission to increase awareness, raise money, and hassle the local politicians to not let such an amazing idea slip through their fingers.  Angel has organized the art efforts on the beltline, taken several thousand people on tours of the beltline, and even had 500 people walk the beltline from Freedom Park to Piedmont Park holding homemade Chinese lanterns.  Angel believes, as do most that know anything about the Beltline, that this transit system would be the biggest and most beneficial transportation developments since Marta.

I started off the interview with the basics.

How long have you lived in Atlanta?

13 years. April of 98. Before there, Miami for 26 years.

Why do you love Atlanta so much—what keeps you here, and makes you need to make it a better place?

I think its got to be the trees.  HAHA.  It’s really a couple of things that most people don’t know about Atlanta.  We are the most forested urban environment in the country, and the least dense in population.  We just have a lot of space—and a lot of that space is green.


Because people want to know—and because so far there have been several obstacles along the way--when is the first operating station on the Beltline going to open?

Best case scenario: January 2015.  If the one penny transportation sales tax goes through next year, funding for the Beltline begins immediately.

How tough will it be to get this tax hike through the books?

No city votes yes on this tax the first time--anywhere.  However, we just had a bunch of people here from Denver, holding a symposium for us on this subject, and they believe we have a 55% chance that it will pass on the first try.

Toll roads on I-20 (on both ends of 285) are another option that has been discussed as a method of raising money for transportation and the beltline—as well as regulating traffic.  Would you think this would work well?

Yes, except we would have to have toll roads on 75/85.  London is doing it, New York is doing it—these congestion alleviation efforts.  That’s the only way to reduce traffic: charge people for the specific use of the highway while regulating the flow of traffic.  If you build more roads, you don’t decrease traffic—you increase mobility.  You should never do any project--whether it’s a road, or transit, or trails—and say, “if we do this, it will alleviate congestions”.  By providing more options more people use more options.  The Dutch figured out that the more transit you make available traffic would increase.  The infrastructure is so that having mobility increases more mobility.

But if we get this Beltline up and running, wouldn’t the goal be to reduce traffic?

It will INCREASE traffic across the board.  More people will be coming to the city—in their cars—because they will have more options.  Right now it’s the car, or MARTA—but even with those two, there aren’t a lot of options.
           
When the streetcar funding came through, experts insisted that nothing is going to alleviate traffic on the highway—unless you tax the highway usage.  That’s the only thing that would.  No transit project outside of the highway is going to affect the use of the highways until to start doing congestion taxing.   It’s a specific cause and effect.

People think that the fourteen cents a gallon transportation tax should cover all the cost needed to make the changes need to deal with transportation issues.  The average car will get you twenty miles with one gallon of gas.  Fourteen cents does not cover 20 miles of highways, roads, and transit projects.  Its silly that these people argue “I pay my taxes, I shouldn’t have to pay more…I don’t want to support transit, because you want to tax me on it”.  Transit is never paid for—but we continue to build roads.

There is also a stigma applied to new transit systems: new transit will bring more poor people to the areas it is offered.  That is a ridiculous way to think about it, but the people that are needed to make these changes believe it.

Beyond the transportation tax, another simple way of raising money for transportation needs would be to tax people based on the mileage of their car when getting their tags renewed—you use the highway this much, then you pay this much.  It seems like this would work, but something tells me that it wouldn’t be hard to pull off.

We are in the South, so it takes a little longer for progressiveness to happen.  But we have to talk about it; you have to put these ideas out there.  If you just throw your hands up and say, “Oh, that will never happen here”, then you can’t expect it to happen.  You just have to get the ideas out there, have to start talking about it, get people excited and involved—you HAVE to get people involved, get them behind it.  That’s the only way things change.  Rather than staying home and watching TV, thinking your government isn’t doing these things for you.

I am sure you get this one a lot: why the green dress?

Instead of answering my question, Angel linked me to a written response he gave to that question.  To sum it up:  For costume purposes, Angel developed an affinity for wearing a dress.  Only under specific weather conditions and a certain mood.  He likes to gently push the societal norms, feel the freeness of form that comes with wearing the dress, and rollerblading all day long.

I really wanted to hear what Angel had to say about the Eagle Raid—specifically, the implications behind a large cash settlement for the individuals involved in the lawsuit.

Do you think the settlement made in the Eagle case showed an admittance of guilt—or at least an apology to the victims—from the city of Atlanta, the Mayor, the Chief of the Police and the APD?

Neither.  The judge decided that settlement—not the City of Atlanta.  To the point that the victims that were not included in the lawsuit:  when the city issued an apology, they intentionally left out the other people who were victimized at that raid because they would then be liable to those people.

There were 70 people in that bar that night—and the only people that were issued an apology were those that filed a lawsuit.  That is fucked up.

Its obvious at that point that there was no real admittance of guilt—merely a legal settlement made to prevent an admittance of guilt from being necessary.  I think what happened was the city paid X amount of money to each person and a whole lot more to the lawyers.

Would you consider the settlement made to be “hush money”?

No, because they should be paying us hush money NOW.  They should be paying each and every individual that was there that night the same amount of money for having to go through what they went through.  Instead they pay out about a million dollars—say half of it goes to the lawyers, and the rest is split between 30 or so people.  If that is the way the city apologizes, then pay the other 40 people who were there that night to make those people whole.  But that would be an admittance of guilt, and a proper apology, after the fact.

My research shows that the efforts made by city sense them have been valid and honest efforts to better the relationship between the City of Atlanta and the gay community.

Regardless of whether or not they are making such efforts, they HAD TO.  According to the courts, these measures were mandatory.  If the courts had not decided this, who knows what the City of Atlanta would have done to improve this relationship.

At this moment, his home became flooded with gay hippies, laughter, and feast.  If you ever want to know more about Angel, just ask him.  He is an open book—and a wealth of useful information, inspiration, and insight.

Friday, May 20, 2011

SPORTS: GAY IS ON ITS WAY INTO THE BIG LEAGUES

STRAIGHTS HELP GAYS FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

Recently, a famous rugby player retired from the sport to start the world's first anti-bullying foundation: Ben Cohen's Stand Up Foundation.


He started his international campaign tour in Atlanta--partnering with Atlanta's gay rugby team, the Atlanta Bucks.  Ben understands that people are being bullied because of their sexual orientation.  He wants to make a change and raise money for LGBT organizations to help end the bullying and suicides that happen because of peoples intolerance.  Even adults are being bullied by other adults--especially when it comes to sports.

DID I MENTION THAT BEN COHEN IS STRAIGHT?

Recently, many athletes have been called out for using prejudice slurs against gays.  Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling a referee a "faggot".  Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger Mcdowell was suspended and fined for using anti-gay slurs against fans of the opposing team.  The Kansas City Chiefs' running back Larry Johnson was fired for ill behavior that included using anti-gay slurs against his coach.  There are several other instances, but I think you get the point.

Gays are finally being recognized and defended by the media and major sports organizations.  Using anti-gay slurs to be mean is no longer okay.  If I wanted to offend someone that I had a problem with, should I call them a "nigger"?  No.  And that is what is happening with the public's understanding of the use of such words as "faggot" or "homo".  Hopefully, the rap industry will start using the same rationale--but that might take a while.

SPORTS: PRETTY DAMN GAY IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT

GAYS AREN'T USUALLY ASSOCIATED WITH SPORTS

Most people think of straight dudes when they think of sports.  You know, masculine men that curse and chew dip and scratch their crotch with a mean look on their face.  This makes sense.  I understand that most people don't think of gay guys when they think of a football player, or an NBA star, or one of the Atlanta Braves.  Although major sports culture usually doesn't vocally support the gay community, gays love their sports!  We have gay sports bars, gay sporting leagues, and even the gay olympics!

In Atlanta (as well many other major cities) there thousands of gays involved in gay sports leagues--GAY RUGBY, GAY TENNIS, GAY WATER POLO AND SWIMMING, GAY SOCCER, GAY SOFTBALL, GAY VOLLEYBALL--even GAY RODEO!  There are teams of gays in every sport you can think of.

Now, try and consider sports from my point of view.  When I think of sports, I think of a team of dudes.  These dudes play hard, sweat a lot, grab their crotches and spit.  They share a locker room, wear jockstraps, and smack each other on the ass for encouragement....who cares if they are straight?  That sounds about as gay as you can get.  Don't even get me started on the Boy Scouts.

I grew up watching action flicks, playing sports and going to watch other people play them, hollering for my favorite American Gladiators and professional wrestlers--Jake the Snake lived right around the corner from me where I grew up!  This didn't make me straight--in fact, I think these things helped me understand my sexuality better.  Gays and straights like a lot of the same things.  Straight guys don't really stop to think why gays (other than just being a fan) could enjoy these types of things.  They also don't stop to consider how much their attraction to the same sex plays into their love of muscular, sweaty, grunting men that beat each other up for fun.  I will leave that topic for another time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

WHAT GAY ATLANTA IS PROTESTING

Did you know that Chik-Fil-A is considered a threat to equality?

Over the past several years, Chik-Fil-A has been found to support and facilitate many different efforts to keep gay marriage from becoming possible--i.e. they are using their customers money to prevent them from achieving equality....not to mention, they are doing what they can to maintain the obesity rate of this country.

Many argue that the accusations made against Chik-Fil-A are mere matters of unintentional association...most of the people that make this argument either don't know what they are talking about and/or can't pull themselves away from that amazing spicy chicken sandwich.

Chik-Fil-A constantly insists that they are not anti-gay--that they love all of gods children.  No matter how often they refuse the connections made between them and anti-gay causes funded by their contributions, another discovery is made to prove that their association is far from coincidental in nature.

An imaginative protest was brought against Chik-Fil-A in Atlanta recently.  Using cow suits and signs fashioned after the wretched and ingenious "Eat Mor Chikin" ad campaign, protesters tried to put Chik-Fil-A in their place.

I do not support Chik-Fil-A.  I stopped eating there YEARS ago when A) I was sick and tired of only craving their food on Sundays (when they refuse to open, regardless of the religious beliefs of their employees or their customers) and when B) I realized that their food always makes my stomach hurt.

Though I refuse to release my sources on this information, I have been told on several occasions that Chik-Fil-A has the highest likeliness of food poisoning among any fast food chain in the United States...but honestly, that wouldn't stop people from eating fried chicken.

THE ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT KEEPS MAKING CHANGES

APD IS DOING EXACTLY WHAT THEY SHOULD DO


Not only have the Atlanta GLBT Liaisons been approaching issues within the LGBTQ community by means of compassion and personal attention to the victims, the APD has been sending their people to the heart of the heart of Gaylanta to build trust with the community.

A few weeks ago, the APD made an impressive appearance at Outwrite Bookstore and Coffee House for a meet and great.  The group consisted of the APD's GLBT Liaisons, a few members of the Community Oriented Policing Services unit (C.O.P.S.), and a handful of other APD officers came to.  Members of the APEX team--the new swat team that has replaced the Red Dog Unit that was known for Atlanta Eagle Raid--were there to assure that things were going to be different in the APD and its Swat Team operations.

The big surprise was Brian Walters.  He used to be part of the Red Dog team, and was there the night of the Eagle raid.  He claims to have nothing to do with the harsh allegations against the Red Dogs--because he was a rookie and left outside the raid to survey the perimeter.  Now he is a member of the Atlanta C.O.P.S.

There is a lot of buzz going around about this guy...partially because he is incredibly attractive.  This guy doesn't know what he has gotten himself into!

Friday, May 6, 2011

GAY PRIDE: SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT GAY PRIDE?


Although Atlanta's Gay Pride isn't for another five months, there are some things that I think everyone should know about this holiday: how is started, and why it is an important and meaningful holiday.

HOW IS STARTED
In late 1960's New York, people that openly identified as homosexual were not welcome in many places.  Bars were about the only place that provided a space for these people to gather--and police raids on these gay bars were very common.  In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police without cause.

The Stonewall Inn was an establishment owned by the Mafia.  Often this bar would be the meeting place of New York's most ridiculed Gays--drag queens, hustlers, gay youth, etc.  This brutal police raid was the last straw for gays in New York.  Gays gathered in large numbers and started riots against the police and the establishment that had spent so long trying to keep them down.  These are known as the Stonewall Riots.  You could compare these riots to the Watts Riots of Los Angeles in 1965.

Two years later, on the same date as the Stonewall Riots, the first Gay Pride marches began in L.A., Chicago, and New York.  The people that died during these riots, and the people that fought back against a corrupt and violently prejudice system are why we have Gay Pride on this date.  Today, most people--including younger gays--have no idea about what these riots meant and what they started.

WHY GAY PRIDE IS IMPORTANT
If you are not clear about what we mean when we say "pride", here it is: as a people, we are proud to live in modern society as the homosexual individuals we were born.  We are proud to say that, in the face of prejudice and at the threat of physical, mental, and social harm, we stand up to affirm our beliefs as equals in this society.  As a community, a minority, and a people, gays could not remain cohesive or socially accepted by a society--that still finds it easy to ridicule and speculate of the fundamental ideas of equality that this country was founded on--without a sense of pride for what they believe in.

Aside from Gay Pride being about a proud people, this event is also there to remind everyone else that we are here...we are queer...get used to it!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gay Rights Movement=Civil Rights Movement

In order to get an idea as to the relationship between the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's and the Gay Civil Rights movement of current times, I will take a look at Dr. Martin Luther King's family.

Though it is not certain as to where Martin Luther King would stand on these issues today, it is assumed that he would back us whole-heartedly.  His daughter, Bernice King, disagrees.  In 2005, she had the audacity to light a torch at her father's grave to begin a march against gay marriage.  The march was organized by none other than the bigot Bishop Eddie Long.  If you are not familiar with this villain, you should be: Bishop Eddie Long uses the word of god to make a lot of money, spread hate, and get away with his inappropriate abuse to his ex-wife and his sexual conduct with multiple young male members of his congregation.  His congregations was hardly effected by these allegations, as his sermons made sure of.  If only his congregation would read the news once in a while.

As for MLK's niece, Aveda King:  she recently labled the effect of gay marriage "genocide".  She stated, "I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to be extinct, and none of us want to be."
I should mention that Aveda has been divorced: how in the hell are you going to support the institution of marriage after failing an attempt at marriage?  Aveda also used her lineage and the symbology of her uncle's effort to support an anti-abortion campaign.  Please pardon my french, but FUCK YOU.  You shame your family's name, and prolong the oppression of a minority that many of your people belong to.


"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice...But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere' ... I appeal everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

RIP Coretta Scott King.  We need you, and people like you, to lead these minorities to greater pastures.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

GAYS AND BLACK ARE OF THE SAME COLOR

In America, there is often and great divide between black and gay communities.  This strikes the gay community as a hurtful and negligent misunderstanding of the common place that these two minorities hold.

Even in a city as gay as Atlanta, there is an uneasy relationship between the black and gay community.

I recently went out to a black gay bar known as Bulldogs.  This bar has been open since 1978.  I have avoided the bar like a plague for one reason: SO many white people told me not to go because I wasn't welcome there--because I would be treated poorly for being white.  I am ashamed to say that I listened--and I am sure that so many other people over the years have avoided this bar for the same reason.  It turns out: I LOVE THIS PLACE! It's the ONLY gay bar in Atlanta that plays hip-hop, serves super cheap drinks, and contains the essence of gay black club life.  But that's my point: people believe what they hear, and therefore inadvertently participate in an active and ignorant prejudice between two cultures.

I find it odd that there is a Black Gay Pride separate from Gay Pride.  Although I understand there is pride to be had by those whose face the hardships of being both gay and black in the south, I believe such an intentional segregation will only hinder our ability to achieve equality in the eyes of the law and our communities.

In my experience, many black do not like gays referring to themselves as a "minority".  This is a silly and ignorant offense to take because of A) the definition of the word "minority", and B) how much these two minorities have in common.  Some people, like NAACP leader Rev. Keith Ratliff, don't approve of the term "civil rights" being applied to the gay struggle.  Currently, gays are fighting for the right to marry, the right to fight for their country, and the right to have a family.  Gays know what is like to be abused, singled out, discriminated against in the workplace, public, and in school.  The struggles gays have had and continue to go through mirror those of the African American population and the Civil Rights Movement--and it would be unfortunate if the rift between these two minorities would continue to remain without the proper bridges being built.

Atlanta: Not Progressive--But Working On It!

Although I insist that Atlanta isn't as progressive as it should be, I shouldn't be such a cynic when it comes to the politics of the city. Politics are only what the citizens make them; if the citizens aren't voting in their best interests, then their best interests will not be represented.


Since the Eagle raid, the APD has appointed two new GLBT liaisons.  According to sources, Brian Sharp and Patricia Powell have been very active in confronting the concerns of the GLBT community.


Also, the APD has formed a 9 member GLBT advisory board.  According to the new Chief of Police,
George Turner, "One of my priorities on becoming chief was to 
repair the relationships and build the trust we had lost in various communities over the years...We recognize the importance of the GLBT community all over Atlanta, and want to make sure we are listening to their concerns."


Recently, a landmark decision was made by the Chief Turner to train ALL of the APD officers (and civilian employees) on LGBT issues.  This training will be a constant and yearly effort to make sure all of the APD staff is prepared to properly deal with situations that have not been dealt with before.


Bravo to the Mayor, the Chief of Police, and all of the people involved in making these important changes happen.

Atlanta: Gay, Not Progressive (continued)

Another incident that scared the glitter out of the gay community occurred last summer, when a group of three gay college students were subject to constant anti-gay harassment in their East Lake neighborhood:  their cars were vandalized and stolen, they were constantly being called "fags" to their faces, and their door was kicked in.

Even after complaints to the APD and the apartment home security, the young men were confronted by a mob of neighborhood teenagers and some of their parents with baseball bats and dogs in tow.  I am tempted to refer to a group like this as a lynch mob--but people tend to be very sensitive about the use of some phrases.

It breaks my heart to think that in Atlanta--the center of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's--members of the black community use the tactics once used to oppress and threaten their people to oppress and threaten a minority within their community.  This is a ungodly hypocracy--that which the NAACP isn't doing much to rectify.

I will post more on this subject later, but I should make note that one of main reasons there is such a strained relationship between these two minorities (communities that were holding hands to fight the good fight in the 60's) is religion.  Churches fund the NAACP, as well as fuel the fire for hatred against the gay minority.

I am relieved to understand the method in which the incidents the the three young (black) men in East Lake.  The young men refused to be forced out of their neighborhood, and decided to fight fire with love.  They made an active effort to reach out to the youth in their community--and in some cases, have become friends with this youth.  One of APD's two new GLBT liaison's took the effort to investigate this instance, interviewing the young men and some of the suspected culprits.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Atlanta: Gay, Not Progressive

Although Atlanta is considered the gayest city in America, that doesn't mean they are well recieved by the police and politicians of Atlanta.  One specific instance that rocked the gay nation (for a unusually short period) and still sends shivers down the spines of Atlanta gays is what is known as "the eagle raid".


THE EAGLE RAID
On Thursday night, September 10th of 2009, the Atlanta Police Department and the Red Dog Swat Team.  The raid was conducted due to allegations made to Mayor Shirley Franklin that there was public sex and the use and distribution of drugs at this establishment.  I should preface this story in saying that there WAS, in fact, "public sex" and drugs at the Eagle--but this should come as a surprise to anyone who has heard of an Eagle bar, nor to those that attend the Eagle.  The Eagle is a leather bar--an establishment that is centered around the BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) scene.  Any bar that supports this scene is (at some level) known for the behavior allegedly occurring at the Atlanta establishment.  Then again, drugs happen at any, maybe every, establishment  that sells alcohol.


On that night, more than 60 people were assaulted by the APD and the Red Dog SWAT Team.  The Red Dog unit is known for their violent and prejudice tendencies, excessive use of force, and even sexual assault.  These people were forced to the floor of the establishment, and instructed to remain there for over an hour--some of them in puddles of beer and broken glass.  During this time, several of the officers used anti-gay slurs and harsh language to describe the patrons and the situation they were in.  There were sixty patrons in the bar, and FIFTY OFFICERS...


Eight people were arrested.  They were charged with running the establishment without proper licenses--this was on "underwear night", where a handful of patrons and several dancers remain in their underwear and dance to entertain the crowd.  It was later found that these individuals were NOT GUILTY of the charges brought against them.


NO ONE WAS FIND ENGAGING IN PUBLIC SEX, AND NOT ONE OF THE 60 PATRONS HAD DRUGS ON THEM.


Soon, a lawsuit was filed by 25 of the people at the Atlanta Eagle, against 35 police officers.  During this lawsuit, it was found that the Atlanta police blatantly tampered with, erased, and withheld THOUSANDS of pages of documents relevant to the case. a large portion of all the material produced by the investigation.  This included the text logs of the police officers participating in the rave--I bet there were some interesting texts that night!


In late 2010, a settlement of $1.025 million was awarded the plaintiffs, as well as an agreement by the APD to modify their standard operating procedures.


The chief of police stepped down, a new mayor was sworn in, money exchanged hands, and it all went away....


Since the Atlanta Eagle Raid, there have been many cases in which the hate crimes against gays have been swept under the proverbial rug.  Some of these instances include arrests being made, court dates being set, and the cases completely disappearing--much to the dismay of the victims.


Although I wasn't alive in the 1960's I guarantee you that anyone who was in Atlanta during that decade recognize these instances at history repeating itself in the very place that it should not.


Although many of you feel safe when you go out with your friends to have a good time, some of us have to watch our back.

Monday, April 18, 2011

WHAT IS GAY?

Everyone seems to have a personal opinion on what "gay" means--how one becomes gay, whether or not its a sin in God's eyes, etc.  In the past 40 years, the understanding of homosexuality has changed dramatically--and it is still changing, due to scientific and social research.  I would like to make sure everyone knows the facts about gays before they end up saying something stupid to the wrong person.
So let me break it down for you.


WHAT ISN'T GAY
Michael Jackson wasn't gay.  Why is this important? Because some people (and in my experience college professors) have it in their heads that if a man molests a boy, that makes him gay.  There is NOTHING gay or straight about child molestation.  Homosexuality and heterosexuality is based upon and attraction between two people with developed sex organs--sexual deviants such as child molesters are not engaging in adult sexuality.  And, just so you know, male child molesters are almost NEVER homosexual when it comes to their adult attractions.


BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE
Although I am sure in some instances a decision could be made to label one's self gay, this doesn't mean it's a choice.  Gay people are born gay.  Recent discoveries have proven that the sexuality of a person is determined in the womb--which is also the case for animals.  Ask yourself these questions:
1. Can a child's relationship with his parents--whether it be bad or good, abusive or smothering--lead to the child becoming gay?
2. Can homosexuality stem from a fear or hatred of the opposite sex--is it a matter of not developing a healthy understanding of the opposite sex?
3. Would a child that is sexually molested be more likely to become gay?
The answer to all of these questions is NO.  This is not a matter of opinion, this is a matter of fact.


YES, ANIMALS CAN BE GAY TOO
Scientists have discovered that homosexuality is sort of a biological means of population control--and not just in size, but in structure.  Take sheep for instance: 10% of sheep are gay.  Why? Because when a heard of sheep becomes a certain size, the female body senses that it may not be able to sustain itself if it were to grow too large.  So they produce offspring that are less likely to have sexual relations with sheep of the opposite sex.  Crazy, huh?  The same thing goes for humans!  The human female's chance of having a gay baby boy is 3%.  If she were to have another boy, the chance would increase to 4%.  And the next boy she has will have a 5% chance of being gay.   Its kind of odd--but it makes sense.


GAY ISN'T ONLY ABOUT SEX
Scientists have been studying the human body and brain in relation to sexual orientation.   Gay men tend to go through puberty earlier than straight men.  Gay men are also more prone to having maternal instincts.  Gays are much more likely to be artists, poets, writers, and musicians.  Gay men are 31% more likely to be left-handed--where as gay women are 91% more likely to be left-handed.  They have found that gay men's brains have much more in common with the straight female brain--even our fingerprints are more alike!


THE DOUBLE STANDARD
Because this country (and the world) is run by straight men, the definition of gay heavily depends on what straight men believe.  Unfortunately for men, this leaves them very little room to wiggle within their sexuality.  Because straight guys tend to like the idea of two girls having sex, when a woman has sexual relations with another women--especially in a college setting, or around alcohol--they are considered "freaky" or "kinky".  If a man were to have sexual relations with another man--even if its only once, and without penetration--he would be considered gay from that point on.   "GAY" is passed out like a sentence or a judgement by people that are made uncomfortable by the thought of gay sexual relations.  If a gay man were to have sex with a women (and believe me, they do), their gay friends are going to label them "STRAIGHT" because of it--I would just say he likes having sex with girls sometimes.
Funny thing is: homophobes tend to pretty gay on the inside.


GAY IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT
Just because a guy hooks up with another guy does NOT make them gay.  Sure, they are participating in a homosexual act, but they are not subscribing to the gay label just by doing so.  Its all pretty silly because most people have some sexual experimentation with members of the same sex--its just that men don't like to talk about it, and women aren't judged for it.  Ironically, it is considered abnormal to NOT have an attraction to the same sex.  I know it may sound crazy, but I have known many straight men that like to get down with other men from time to time.  Its not like they want to date them, or cuddle with them, or go shopping with them--its more like they enjoy getting off with someone like them from time to time.  Sure, I know what you are thinking: "well then that makes them bisexual."
Perhaps you are right, but it is up to the individual to take on that label if they see it necessary.  The only people I know to be self-admittedly bisexual are those that like to date both sexes.




America is having a tough time with coming to terms with its homosexual population--just because Will and Grace was on primetime, and Patrick Swayze played a drag queen, and Kevin Spacey won an Academy Award, doesn't mean this country is accepting of gays.  In case you didn't know this: gays are in the middle of a civil rights movement.  In many ways, things are getting better for us.  In many other ways, things are getting worse.  We have been in the middle of this fight for our rights since the civil rights movement of the 60's--and now we stand without our revolutionary counterparts to fight for our rights as a minority in the face of danger and ridicule.

GAY SUBCULTURES: THE MOST COMMON STEREOTYPES

Today we are going to take a look at the popular subcultures of gays and lesbians in Atlanta.  At the risk of offending anyone, I should preface this post by stating that I am intentionally stereotyping in order to introduce readers who are not familiar with these subcultures.



THE GENERIC GAY
The generic gay is what most people think of when they think of gay.  Typically, these are good looking, well groomed men--with sculpted hair, excellent fashion sense, and a body they work hard for at the gym.  There are plenty of urban professionals in this group, as well as hospitality industry workers.  After midnight, you can find these out and about at bars and clubs--often watching drag shows with their stylish girlfriends, or dancing with their shirts off to house music.
BEARS
Bears are large culture group of gays.  People without refined gaydars wouldn't peg this type as gay on first glance: typically bigger, modestly dressed, with trucker hats, and an affinity for body hair.  Think Larry the Cable Guy--except with a friendlier smile, and a the ability to belt out Donna Summers at karaoke without blushing.   Younger bears are considered "cubs", and hairier guys with smaller framed bodies who prefer the company of bears are called "otters".  The labels are often assumed, it is up to the individuals whether or  not to have a label based on their physical appearance be used to describe them.



RADICAL FAERIES
Though quickly growing in popularity and size, this group is hard to be missed.  Though a definition of them is somewhat beyond their their beliefs, I would say the Faeries are a progressive and stylish movement of individuals from all corners of queer culture, who embrace the previously negative associations with gay culture and gender identity, while rejecting conformity to useless mainstream cultural norms in an attempt to positively affect their surroundings....so if you ever see a pile of 30 people with barely any clothing (and/or outlandish accoutrements) in the park, using hula-hoops, making human pyramids, doing yoga, and holding giant signs that read "LOVE" and "PEACE", you are looking at the Radical Faeries.  Faeries typically have a moniker they prefer to be referred to as by other Faeries or people that understand them within a similar capacity.




HIPSTER GAYS
If you are familiar with the term "hipster", then hipster gays is pretty self-explainatory.  On the other end of the spectrum from the generic gay, the hipster gay prefers the stylish thick-rimmed glasses, lots of tattoos and piercings, and "who give a shit?" attitude about style.  There is SO much to be said about hipster culture, as it is transitioning from derogatory slur to a substantiated culture, so I will just leave it there.  Want to know what a hipster gay is? Head over to East Atlanta Village.  Here you can play what internet bloggers refer to as "hipster or gay?"

THE OLDER CROWD
There are plenty of older gays in Atlanta, but not many of them have been in Atlanta since they were younger.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to describe this group of gays--but it is important to mention them because they are a link to our past as a minority.  Twenty or thirty years doesn't seem that long in the grand scheme, but SO much has happened in the past 3 decades in the progression of this minority.  I used to bartend at a small bar in midtown.  My clientele was mostly older gentlemen.  To hear them speak of the 70's, 80's and early 90's was almost like hearing of another country all together.  Tragically, the 80's saw the rise of HIV and AIDS in america, and took so many of these individuals with them.  Without these people and the lives they have lead in the face of prejudice and bigotry, I would not be the person I am today.

LESBIANS
In the south, lesbians and gays tend to be segregated from each other.  This shouldn't come to a surprise to anyone who knows how the south works when it comes to minorities.  Gays and lesbians have plenty in common as minorities, but often they have less in common on a personal level--I mean, think about it...
I am happy to say that, in the past few years, I have noticed that this gap is closing as these two groups are gaining more similar interests within their established communities.   There are several stereotypes that I could apply to this wonderful and prominent group of people--Decatur Soccer Mom, Southern Power Belle, Down and Dirty Feminist--but I don't think its necessary.


Lesbians are, and have been, a more public and accepted minority amongst Atlanta's various communities.  Decatur is a popular city for Lesbians--growing up and working in Decatur has given me a unique experience with the lesbian community.  There are many lesbian couples with children in Decatur and Atlanta, and I have noticed many lesbians in the political field in the past decade.  I am grateful for the lesbian community for all that they have done to increase awareness, change our surroundings, and make it easier for gays to be who they want to be.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why are we the gayest?

The Advocate is America’s leading gay publication.  Though many have disagreed with the Advocates designation of Atlanta as the gayest city in America (in February of 2010), I would argue great validity in their results due to the point system created for the article.  Let’s look at how we scored the highest.  The points given are based upon 7 categories:
  1. Same-sex couple households per capita: based on statistics provided by the HRC and the Census, these numbers may be just as unreliable as they are accurate--it is largely based upon households with 2 members of the same sex who aren’t related.  We scored a measly 4 points on this category, being 11th out of the top 15.
  2. Statewide marriage equality: we scored -2 points on this one because of our state’s statute that defines marriage between one man and one woman.  It should be noted that there are many businesses and major corporations (such as Turner Broadcasting and Coca-Cola) that provide equal benefits for same-sex couples.
  3. Gay elected officials (U.S. representatives, senators, governors, and city officials):  we got 3 points for this category.  Atlanta, and the surrounding cities, have several gay political figures.
  4. Gay dating/hookup profiles per single male population:  You probably wouldn’t believe how many of these profiles are made by “straight” men.  We scored a whopping 5 points, being 10th out of the top 15.
  5. Gay bars per capita: with 30+ gay bars, Atlanta gets the highest score of all cities with 15 points for this category.
  6. Cruising spots per capita: “cruising spots” refers to (mostly public) areas where (mostly male) gays meet to find sex.  What better way to judge how gay a city is?  Again, we achieved the highest score of 15 points for this category.  Though I will neither condone nor condemn this behavior, I am not sure how I feel about this score lending itself to our gay factor.
  7. Gay films in Netflix favorites:  This makes perfect sense.  Using Netflix’s listings of the 25 most popular videos for every major city, we receive one point for every gay movie--and that doesn’t include Disney movies, Mommy Dearest, or Grease.  We scored 14 points in this category.  I believe this to be VERY indicative of the gay stature of Atlanta.
With a total score of 54 points, Atlanta achieved the title of gayest city in America.  If this doesn’t surprise you, take at look at #2, 3, and 4: Burlington, VT., Iowa City, IA., and Bloomington, IND.
And here is some other basic information about gay atlanta that you should know:
Highest density of gay population in Atl: Midtown.  If you didn’t know this already, notice how many of the men in midtown are attractive, well-dressed, and look like each other.
Other popular gay neighborhoods:  East Point, East Atlanta, Grant Park, and Decatur.  Gays are considered a valuable asset when it comes to the strength of a neighborhood community, the aesthetics of said communities, and most importantly the PROPERTY VALUES within these communities.  Its common for an “up and coming” areas to be littered with gay homeowners, or for the “gentrification” of otherwise unsavory neighborhoods to be accredited to gays.  These are what some people refer to as "Gayborhoods".  To be more accurate, one may refer to them as gay ghettos.

If you aren't convinced of how gay atlanta is, tune in next week to learn more about the history of Gay Atlanta--as well as some important historical notes on gay history in general.

Welcome to Gaylanta!

I recently stated that Atlanta is the gayest city in America to a room full of people mostly in their 20's.
The average response was, "really?!"


I find it hard to believe that an individual who lives in Atlanta doesn't notice the ridiculously obvious gay factor in this city.  There are rainbow flags displayed in chinese restaurants.  There are drag queens serving sushi.  One a year the entire midtown area is crawling with what is obviously several hundred thousand gays and their supporters.  There are billboards on the highway advertising gay churches using pink steeples.  Elton John lives here....


WHAT ARE YOU MISSING HERE?!


Mind you, most of the people in the room were straight--regardless, they were all residents of Atlanta.  Some were even raised in Atlanta!  At that point, it's not about having a good "gaydar"--its about having basic knowledge of gay trends, symbols, language, and demographics.


Beyond the ignorance of the plain-as-day gay status of Atlanta by its heterosexual residents, the gay population of the city (especially the youth) doesn't seem to grasp the more important historical and contemporary elements of Atlanta: just because this is the gayest city around, doesn't mean it is progressive.  In georgia, you can still be fired from a job for your orientation.  The police force is unsympathetic to the gay minority.  You are more likely to find a church willing to marry to men than a politician willing to support it--just because we consider ourselves "the hole of the bible belt" DOES NOT mean we aren't part of the same outfit.


The purpose of this site is to familiarize readers with what makes Atlanta, Ga the gayest city in America--as well as educate readers on the basics of gay culture, history, and current events.  I encourage readers to comments on my posts, ask questions, or express your true opinions of the subject matter.
So, here begins my dissection of Atlanta: the gayest city in America...