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Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 05:41 PM PDT

Riots: From Stonewall to Baltimore

by FogCityJohn

The unrest in Baltimore, brought on by the death of Freddie Gray, has been the source of a lot of commentary in the world of social media. My Facebook feed is full of people offering their opinions about what many call the "rioting" or "violence" in Charm City.  Mind you, most of those commenting use those words only to refer to destruction of property and throwing of rocks. Strangely, they're not talking about the actions of the police, this despite the violence that characterizes so much of the police's treatment of poor black communities.

Lots of those appearing in my news feed are gay white men like me. Some of them have been very critical of the protestors in Baltimore, and they've decried the resort to "violence" and condemned the people for rioting. I'm not a violent guy, and I don't support the indiscriminate destruction of property, but as a gay man, I find it a bit hypocritical when white members of my community wag their fingers at the so-called rioters.  

I'll explain below the nuage de kos.

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Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 05:39 PM PDT

The Good "Side" of DailyKos

by FogCityJohn

Do you find yourself tired of DailyKos lately?  Are you sick of the pie fights, the meta wars, the HR abuse, the endless Rox vs. Sux conflict, and all the different packs, cliques, and factions?  Do you find yourself wondering why the f*ck you hang out here?  I mean, really, don't you sometimes ask yourself why you spend time on this site?  With all of the aforementioned problems, why, why, why do you still bother?

I'll tell you why.  Or at least I'll tell you why I do.  It's because for all of its nastiness, cranky behaviors, rude commentary, vulgar remarks, and occasional boneheaded stupidity, this site has allowed me to come to know some pretty wonderful people.

Some time ago, I wrote a diary about an exceptionally kind Kossack who goes by the name anotherdemocrat. And if you follow me beyond the orange nimbus, I'll tell you about another one.  

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I'm honestly hoping this diary is unnecessary.  I'm posting it to explain some things I don't think I should have to explain on a progressive blog.  Unfortunately, after reading some comments in a recent diary cross-posted here from the blog Virally Suppressed, I'm afraid I may have to do a bit to educate some in this community about HIV and those of us who live with the disease.  

So you can understand where I'm coming from, the diary that inspired this one is entitled Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged: A Review of Tyler's Perry's Temptation.  VS's review of the film was unfavorable, and one of the reasons it criticized the film was this:

There is no mistaking Tyler Perry’s message here: HIV is God’s punishment for straying from His path and falling prey to the allure of infidelity and passions of the flesh.
To me, this criticism was both obvious and justified.  I thought we were well past the days in which people (or at least progressives) thought of HIV as some kind of divine punishment.  But that's not how a couple of commenters saw it.  They didn't see anything wrong with portraying HIV as the negative consequence for what they viewed as immoral or irresponsible behavior.  So here I am, doing something I almost never do -- writing a diary.  

So for those of you who aren't familiar with it, in this diary I'd like to introduce you to the word "serophobia" and talk about some of the negative (pardon the pun) messages about HIV-positive people that appear in the film.  There's more after the jump.

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Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM PDT

Blue Angel: Seeing the End of DADT

by FogCityJohn

It's Fleet Week here in San Francisco.  This annual event brings our city a host of events, including the Parade of Ships, the America's Cup race, concerts by the Navy, Marine, and Air Force bands, and of course the impressive air show featuring the jets known as the Blue Angels.  Fleet Week also brings thousands of sailors to San Francisco.  During the week, you'll find them everywhere as they roam this town seeing the sights of the City by the Bay.

But this year, Fleet Week also brought me the chance to see something for the first time.  It gave me the chance to see the end of DADT with my very own eyes.

I'll explain after the jump.

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Regular readers of this site know I don't write many diaries.  Part of the reason is that in my professional life, I spend a large part of my day writing.  So it's not often that I can bestir myself to write even more once I get home from the office.  No, for that, it takes inspiration, and for me, that's usually in rather short supply.

But today is different.  I'm writing to ask for your help.  Oh, don't worry.  I don't need any help myself.  I'm fine.  I'm asking for another Kossack.  She needs your help, although she's actually fine, too.  The reason she needs your help is so she can help others.

Scroll past the delicate orange squiggle for more details.

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Usually, I try not to write diaries about subjects with which I am unfamiliar.  It's always nice to feel like I actually know what I'm talking about, and knowledge normally requires some acquaintance with the subject matter.  So I ordinarily write about things with which I have personal experience or which I've studied in some detail.

Sometimes, though, you have to break that rule and just write from your gut.  Sometimes you simply have to trust that your instincts about something or someone are right.  This is definitely one of those times.

Follow me below the now-famous orange curlicue for more.

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This will be a short diary, but it's one that's meant as a breath of fresh air.

After my little rec list rant yesterday, I was heartened to discover that, occasionally, a prominent politician can speak the actual truth in clear, bell-like tones.  Unfortunately, I had to cross the fucking Atlantic Ocean to find him, but these days, I'll take what I can get.

The politician in question is named Vince Cable.  He's a member of Britain's Liberal Democratic Party, is the MP for Twickenham, and currently serves in Prime Minister David Cameron's government as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.  (Quite the portfolio, eh?)  Anyway, the Guardian is reporting on one very interesting comment Mr. Cable had about American politics.  Appearing on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, Cable had this to say about the Republicans in the U.S. Congress who are currently playing with fire over the debt ceiling:

So I mean the irony of the situation at the moment, you know looking to markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right wing nutters in the American Congress rather than the Eurozone.

Cable was discussing the debt crisis in the Eurozone, but it was remarkable to me to see someone so high in the U.K. government do something that almost no American with any authority or influence seems willing to do -- tell the truth.

So let's celebrate the fact that a prominent high-ranking politician has finally managed to speak the truth about the Tea Party Republicans who are pushing the U.S. to default on its debt and endangering the full faith and credit of the United States government.  They are indeed "right wing nutters."

I wonder if Mr. Cable is available for speaking engagements here in the U.S.

(You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.)

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Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 07:22 PM PDT

None Dare Call It Bullsh*t

by FogCityJohn

As most of you know, I don't write many diaries, and when I do, they usually concern issues that touch my life as an HIV+ gay man.  But this one will be different.  The circus in Washington over the (entirely manufactured) debt ceiling "crisis" seems to me to be further proof of something I've thought for a long time now.  

My thought is simply this -- propaganda has disastrous consequences.  I'll explain this a bit more below the curlicue.

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This will be a short diary, since I'm at work, but I wanted to let everyone know that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has now lifted the stay in the Log Cabin Republicans case challenging DADT.  The Court of Appeals had earlier stayed enforcement of Judge Virginia Philips' injunction that prohibited the Department of Defense from enforcing DADT.  Now, the Court of Appeals has granted LCR's motion to lift the stay.

Here's the text of the court's order:

The Clerk shall amend the docket to reflect that Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense, is substituted for Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, as an appellant/cross-appellee. See Fed. R. App. P. 43(c)(2). Appellee/cross-appellant’s motion to lift this court’s November 1, 2010, order granting a stay of the district court’s judgment pending appeal is granted. See Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987) (stating standard); Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011) (same). In their briefs, appellants/cross-appellees do not contend that 10 U.S.C. § 654 is constitutional. In addition, in the context of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. § 7, the United States has recently taken the position that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subjected to heightened scrutiny. See Golinski v. U.S. Office of Pers. Mgmt., No. C 3:10-00257-JSW (N.D. Cal.) (Doc. 145, July 1, 2011) (“gay and lesbian individuals have suffered a long and significant history of purposeful discrimination”); Letter from Attorney General to Speaker of House of Representatives (Feb. 23, 2011) (“there is, regrettably, a significant history of purposeful discrimination against gay and lesbian people, by governmental as well as private entities”). Appellants/cross-appellees state that the process of repealing Section 654 is well underway, and the preponderance of the armed forces are expected to have been trained by mid-summer. The circumstances and balance of hardships have changed, and appellants/cross-appellees can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay. Appellee/cross-appellant’s alternative request to expedite oral argument is granted. The Clerk shall calendar this case during the week of August 29, 2011, in Pasadena, California. Briefing is completed. [7809248] [10-56634, 10-56813] (KD)

Clearly, DOJ's recent changes of position regarding the constitutionality of DOMA are having an effect.  

Sorry to be so brief, but that's all I've got right now.

[UPDATE]  As Clarknt67 points out:  "This is the Log Cabin Republican's lawsuit which resulted in a finding that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was unconstitutional.  Trial Court Judge Virginia Phillips ordered a worldwide injunction, which was stayed shortly after by the 9th. The LCR returned to court in April 2011, again seeking a lift of the stay, and apparently today received it."

[UPDATE, Part 2]  Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has released a statement on the ruling:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today enthusiastically applauded the order issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifting its own stay of a lower court's injunction barring enforcement of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. This move once again renders "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" unenforceable by the Pentagon.

"With the wait for certification dragging out beyond a reasonable time frame, the Court has once again stepped in to require the Pentagon to stop enforcing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and this time it very well may be for good," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole veteran plaintiff on the case. "I am proud to have worked personally worked with Log Cabin on this case for more than five years now and to have represented the gay military community as the sole named veteran on this lawsuit. Despite the criticisms and years of waiting, this case has yet again successfully eviscerated this outdated, harmful, and discriminatory law."

The Log Cabin Republicans vs. U.S.A. lawsuit is the only contemporary successful challenge to the constitutionality of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which requires the Department of Defense to abruptly fire any servicemember found to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips found the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law to be unconstitutional after a two-week trial, and issued an order barring enforcement of the law worldwide. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently issued a stay of that order pending appeal by the government. Today's order from the Ninth Circuit overturns its own previous stay, rendering "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once again unenforceable.

Nicholson added, "Servicemembers should still remain extremely cautious with information regarding their sexual orientation for the time being. The issue remains in a state of flux, although guarded optimism is certainly warranted."

For more information about Servicemembers United and the gay military community, please visit our new home on the web at www.servicemembers.org.

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Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 03:16 PM PDT

HIV: A Question of Priorities

by FogCityJohn

This diary is primarily directed at my fellow members of the LGBT community, and in particular at my gay brothers.  I want to talk about an issue we all used to think was really important, but which seems to have fallen off the radar screen recently.  That issue is HIV.

HIV/AIDS used to be an existential threat to our community, and we treated it as such.  Nowadays, medical science has made HIV a chronic illness, at least for those of us lucky enough to have access to very expensive antiretroviral therapy.  Nevertheless, HIV remains a tremendous health problem, and it's still rampant among gay men.  Yet our community seems to have decided to direct its attention elsewhere, and I'm trying to figure out why.  So if you're interested in that discussion, please join me below.

A few words of warning at the outset.  First, I said that this diary is intended primarily for the LGBT community, and I meant it.  It's not that I'm not interested in what straight folks have to say, but this is really a conversation about what we as a community choose to prioritize and why.  So what I'm most interested in hearing are the views of my LGBT brothers and sisters.  

Second, if you're what I call an "HIV poser," then move along.  You know who you are.  You're the person who only brings up HIV when you're trying to win an argument.  You use HIV as a moral cudgel whenever you want to criticize LGBT activists who are pushing marriage equality, the Uniting American Families Act, trans rights, or whatever.  You try to seize the high ground by asking sarcastically, "Do you really think this issue is as important as HIV?"  You then drop HIV like a hot potato and never mention it again -- until it's time for the next argument.

So if that's you, please know that you will be extremely unwelcome here.  The LGBT community is fighting a lot of battles simultaneously, and I'm not going to be using this diary to denigrate the work of those who are engaged in other aspects of the struggle.  So if you only think of HIV when you're trying to score rhetorical points, please get lost.  Sorry, but HIV is way too serious to me and to the millions of other poz people out there for me to tolerate its use as some kind of club.  

Now that that's out of the way, you can follow me below the squiggle.

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Today is the fifth annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day dedicated to increasing understanding of the problem of HIV among Native Americans.  To that end, I'd like to try to provide a few basic facts about HIV among America's Native population and to touch on a some of the issues Native Americans face when it comes to HIV.  In addition, I'll offer a few links to relevant resources and introduce you to a Native American blogger and HIV activist.

Follow me below the fold for a bit more info.

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This is going to be a short diary.  My only purposes here are to note the fact that today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and to link  members of this site to some of the discussion among members of the African-American community who are involved in the fight against HIV.  As someone living with the virus, I didn't want to let this day pass unnoticed.

Follow me below the fold for a bit more info.

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