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A Pioneer Sashays Offstage

1940s San Francisco was a lot different for the gay community than it is today. Back then gays weren't allowed to drink in bars. They weren't allowed to dance or hold hands. Sometimes the police would pull up and arrest everyone in a bar on the charge of being an "inmate of a disorderly house," and there was a good chance that, by being swept up in that net, your name and employer would be published in the paper. Also: no posing as a member of the opposite sex. Jose Sarria and his fellow drag queens got around this by pinning a note to their dresses saying, "I am a boy." Yes---it was that ridiculous. With the exception of one night a year (Halloween), the cops, and the string-pullers behind them, were relentless.

Randy Shilts' must-read 1982 book The Mayor of Castro Street is primarily a biography of Harvey Milk's life and groundbreaking political career in San Francisco, but it's also an indispensable history of the evolution of the LGBT community's rise to power. Jose Sarria, a drag queen at the Black Cat bar, was among the first to stand up to the police bully tactics:

LGBT rights activist and drag queen Jose Sarria
Jose Sarria in 2010.
Jose pioneered two battle cries: "There's nothing wrong with being gay---the crime is getting caught," and "United we stand, divided they catch us one by one." At the end of every night at the Black Cat, he would order the patrons to stand in a circle, join hands, and sing "God Save the Queens," sometimes flocking them outside to do a final stanza to friends across the street in jail. "For one moment," Jose said, "be proud of who you are."
Nationally Jose Sarria was far less known than Milk and other gays who entered the political arena. But he was first. Shilts writes:
Jose Sarria in drag
Drag queens like Jose Sarria have
been in the thick of the LGBT rights
movement from the very start.
They're loud 'n proud, honey.
By 1961, the harassment proved too much for Jose Sarria. He abandoned his red gown and high heels, donned a suit and tie, and stomped into City Hall to file his petition to run for the Board of Supervisors, the eleven-member body that serves as both city council and county commission for San Francisco's city-county consolidated government.

Jose had no problem raising money for a filing fee, but he faced a major obstacle in getting twenty-five signatures necessary to put his name on the ballot. In a city that already had the reputation as one of the freest gay centers in the world, it was still difficult to find twenty-five people who would sign their name to a paper endorsing an acknowledged gay. Jose got his signatures, however, and filed his candidacy. He did no campaigning; he simply spread the word among friends. Every vote would be a protest vote against police harassment of gays, he said.

On election night, political pundits were amazed when the drag queen entertainer polled an amazing [5,600] votes, not enough to win, but far more than many better-known political names. The fact that the first openly-gay candidate for public office in American history could tally such a total stirred the imaginations of the handful of activists who then dared consider political action as a future option. Few had thought of themselves as equal human beings and citizens, so few had bothered to consider that no matter what police or judges could deprive them of, they could still vote.

When you hear about "pride" parades, festivals and galas every year (usually June), you need look no further than the life of Jose Sarria to understand the origin and context of the word…and why the bigots and bullies will continue to lose the fights they keep choosing to pick with us.

Jose Sarria---aka "Empress José I, The Widow Norton"---was 90 when he died Monday. The country and the LGBT community in particular have lost a legend. God save the queens.

Cheers and Jeers continueth below the fold...

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, August 22, 2013

Note: (To avoid NSA surveillance, write all sensitive information in parentheses.)  Ha Ha nothing to see here!  (Trust me, it works.)  We're just crocheting!  (The revolution starts at 9 sharp.)  Puppies and rainbows!  (Bring your own pitchfork.)


Minnesota State fair logo
Starts today!!!
By the Numbers:
Days 'til Keith Olbermann's new show premieres on ESPN2: 4
Days 'til the Minnesota State Fair: 0!!!
Rank of the University of Iowa, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign among college students in terms of being a party school: #1, #2, #3
(Source: AP)
Number of drivers in Maine with 4 or more---yes, or more---OUIs since 1982: 5,391
(Source: The Maine Sunday Telegram)
Percent of Americans who believe the government is winning the "war on drugs": 4%
Percent who don't: 82%
(Source: Think Progress)
Highest face-value coin ever circulated by the U.S. Mint: $20---the double-eagle gold coin, circa 1849-1932
(Source: Postal Commemorative Society)


Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Molly ivins publicity photo  --- small
Seems like every year at the end of summer there's this sense of coming back from somewhere, whether we've gone anywhere or not.  Whatever the summer pattern is---a swim, the kids, a stroll---it's as though we sort of blink and there's the world again, still there. Very much still there.
---August, 2005

Puppy Pic of the Day:  Of course, if a Democratic congressperson's dog wins, Darrell Issa will launch an investigation of the Obama administration.


CHEERS and JEERS to the end of the interminable.  Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced yesterday, ending a slog to judicial resolution that took forever and included torture of the defendant.  USA. USA.  Though it'll end up being far less, on paper it says he'll be locked away for 35 years minus time served and a 112 day courtesy credit for the aforementioned torture:

Dick Cheney sneering
Now can we PLEASE sentence
this asshole to thirty-five years?
Manning himself did not testify during the trial itself, but in a pre-trial hearing said he wanted to expose what he called the American military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as its dishonest diplomacy, and that he carefully selected material that wouldn't put troops in harms' way. His attorney has tried to portray Manning as a whistleblower with good intentions.

During a sentencing hearing, Manning apologized for causing harm to his country.
"I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that they hurt the United State."

Our glorious overlords learned nothing from the document dump of military abuses except this: the glorious overlords must squeeze their iron fist ever tighter until no whistleblower can ever blow their whistle again.  (Good luck with that, Darth Clapper.)  Meanwhile, the power-abusing torturers and warmongers are free to romp in the summer mansions and cocktail circuits of the One Percent.  May they spill Grey Poupon on their Monolo Blahniks.

JEERS to the crazy around us.  Quick summary of what's going on elsewhere in the world, which continues to function under human management:

International Space Station
"We're fine up here, thanks."
Syria: attacks with chemical weapons
Iraq: suicide bombers
Egypt: massacres by the military
Yemen: al Qaeda mobilizing
The Philippines: killer flooding
Japan: major radioactive Fukishima H2O leak
Britain: journalists treated like terrorists
Canada: Ted Cruz is one of us? Ick, eh!
Russia: LGBT citizens no longer exist…by law.
Greece: economic suffering continues
The North Pole: now called Lake Santa
Afghanistan: still no Club Med in Kabul
Qatar: superyacht paint scratched!
No wonder the space station guys never insist on coming home.

Gong!  Gong!!  BuddaBuddaBudda… GONG!!!

This is another edition of The One Word Answer Man.  Patrick Appel at The Daily Dish asks: Will Conservatives Come Around On Climate Science?


Now back to Cheers and Jeers.

Gong!  Gong!!  BuddaBuddaBudda… GONG!!!

CHEERS to tea and bragging rights.  162 years ago today, in 1851, the schooner America outraced a small fleet of British ships belonging to the Royal Yacht Squadron off the English coast to win the trophy that came to be known as the America's Cup.  I believe I speak for all Americans today when I say: [Pulls down pants] "Kiss me bum, blokes!"  (With all due respect.  Bless yer hearts.)

CHEERS to righting a wrong in the history of perfection.  President Richard Nixon was too busy floundering under the rising tide of the Watergate scandal, so an official White House welcome for the 17-0 Super Bowl-winning Miami Dolphins got pushed onto Ford's plate, who pushed it on to Carter's, who pushed it on to Reagan's, and etc. etc. etc. all the way to the current occupant.  Finally, 40 post-Super Bowl years later, the '72 Dolphins got their due:

President Barack Obama talks with former coach Don Shula prior to a ceremony honoring the 1972 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins, in the Blue Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Obama talks launch codes with Don Shula.
They clambered gingerly up the riser behind President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House, white-haired, bespectacled, their coach in a motorized chair, former athletes there to receive an accolade 40 years late.  Members of the Miami Dolphins, whose undefeated 1972 season culminated in a Super Bowl victory in January, 1973, stood smiling behind the president on Tuesday, blinking in the TV lights and basking in the applause of the crowd and the praise of the First Sports Fan.

It is the only National Football League team to have gone undefeated or untied all season since the National and the American Football Leagues merged in 1970.

Obama asked the team to stick around long enough to teach House Republicans how to pass a bill, and was politely informed they they may be old, but they're not crazy.


Five years ago in C&J: August 22, 2008

JEERS to the end of a pleasant global diversion.  There's always something comforting about the Olympic games.  It's nice to know that, yeah, maybe we can all get along---if only for a couple 'o weeks----and win and lose gracefully while engaging in lots of after-hours international athlete sex.  (Post those videos!)  China, you've got lots of work to do before you come close to being anything resembling a role model nation.  But you did run a flawless show (lip-synching, fake fireworks and underage athletes notwithstanding), and you've come a long way since Chairman Mao strung up peasants by their thumbs just for fun.  Oh, and one more thing: Last one to Vancouver's a rotten egg!  [8/22/13 Update: Now it's Russia turn.  What could go wrong?]


And just one more…

Fantom, circa ugust, 2013 (Cat belonging to Bill in Portland Maine and Common Sense Mainer)
Fantom sunning on the roof last week.
CHEERS to the birthday kitty.  Four years ago today, Michael and I visited our local shelter in search of a fuzzball with an attitude to adopt, and chose the pootie that bit our ankles the least.  We named her Fantom on account of she has a mask like the Phantom of the Opera (but with an F to avoid any more Andrew Lloyd Webber lawsuits, like the time he went after us for naming a previous pootie "Jesus Christ Superstar").  Fantom is a petite calico with stubby legs---the dachshund of the cat world, we call her. She's pretty much in the middle of the Sociability Scale: says hello half the time, says goodbye half the time.

Molly and Fantom, dog and cat belonging to BiPM and CSM.
Molly & Fantom in 2012.
Earlier this year our household went through a traumatic period when we had to take our cancer-stricken chocolate lab, Molly, on her final journey to the vet. Maybe Fantom simply noticed that the house was quieter, or maybe she knew that Molly had gone to her great reward. But the way she'd sniff Molly's empty bed and give us puzzled looks (they looked like puzzled looks to me, anyway) seemed to indicate that she knew something was…off.  They were buds.  Fortunately our new puppy, Haley, is all about peace and harmony and playtime, so it didn’t take long before the pootie and the woozle were bunking together.  (Please don't tell Rick Santorum.)

Other than that, her days are filled with typical cativities: eat, barf, sleep, drink out of the faucet, barf some more, have stare-downs with squirrels, torture bugs, purr when skritched, and turn down any food not topped with beluga caviar.  She's a cat schooled in the mysterious arts of "teh kitteh," and today we prostrate ourselves at the altar of Fancy Feast and wish Fantom a Happy Barfday.  Did I mention she barfs a lot?

Have a nice Thursday.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?


Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Here’s something that’s high on the list of stuff we missed without realizing we missed it: Thinking about Bill in Portland Maine!


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