Sunday, September 06, 2009

Boom and Bust
(It's not about economics!)

Today I read of the passing of Al Gordon, a true hero in a great way and his tribute is in the LA Times.

On one day he was my own personal hero, but I confess, this story is much more about me than him. I only met this gentle warrior briefly when he got me out of the Hollywood Jail, and I've never had the opportunity (or thankfully, the need) to see him again.

But a posting about Mr. Gordon's passing, provoked some questions, so here is the whole story:

One summer day in 1982 the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence went on a tour of Hollywood. We made a pilgrimage to Frederick’s thereof and Boom Boom got a new bust.

Actually we’d been invited to speak to the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity and had a nice long weekend, half a dozen of the impish and possibly impious nuns in the City of the Queen of Angels. We were Sister Missionary Position, Sister Vicious Power Hungry Bitch, Sister, Mary O’Stop, a couple of others…. Oh, dear, forgive me, but it was 27 years ago… and of course, your own erstwhile Sister Boom Boom. One day was spent as a pilgrimage to various holy sites. We started our tour at a grand cemetery where we saw the columbarium that included what was left of Marilyn Monroe. A demure little plaque in the wall marked her spot.

A much grander and utterly poseworthy tomb held the remains of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and adding splendor to his bier was a long reflecting pool. The sisters, processed along the pool, the others in traditional robes, Sister Boom Boom bringing up the rear in fishnets and a black and white polka-dot bathing suit, accessorized with a chain for a belt, on which I had my big, multi-colored baby’s rosary, keys, and handcuffs. (Never leave home without them!) Swiss tourists went frantic with their cameras, yelling at each other (auf Deutsch) “Look over there! Look there! It’s Fellini!!!!”

From there we were conveyed to Hollywood Boulevard where we caused a huge stir. In San Francisco people would always engage with the Sisters, ask us questions, chat and joke with us. In Los Angeles they crowded and stared, preserving the show-biz tradition of the fourth wall. After just a few minutes admiring the impressions at Grauman’s (now “Mann’s”) Chinese Theatre we were asked to leave – for upstaging the cement? Well, we’ve been kicked out of better places… or have we? Hmmm… Out on the sidewalk of the stars, Sister Boom Boom sat by a star making a leggy cheesecake pose while another Sister took pictures. But, wait! I should have checked first. Whose star was that? Zsa Zsa Gabor??? Thank you very much, I’ll have my own star! Pulling out my lipstick I autographed a blank star and Sister Boom Boom was briefly a meteor on the sidewalk of the stars.

The pictures taken, we processed to our pick-up truck where a few of Hollywood’s Finest (so to speak. Actually they weren’t too bad!) came up to us asking, “OK, who defaced the sidewalk?” Seeing where this was going, and to save trouble (and as there were too many witnesses to deny anything!) I raised my gloved hand and admitted to the “crime.”

This wasn’t my first arrest (That was at the Pentagon with a group of Quakers when I was 14, at a war protest.) so I knew to co-operate, take the full rap and keep the other Sisters clear of trouble, so they could do what was necessary. Of course, the tourists were having a field day, crowding around with their cameras and asking Sisters at the periphery if we were making a movie. The police were very professional, polite and gentle throughout. (Thank God for all those people and their cameras!) When it came time to handcuff me one of the cops saw my accessories and asked if he should use my handcuffs or theirs. “Yours, Dear,” I answered., “Let’s keep this professional.”

Sister Mary O’Stop was careful to get pictures of the officer with his badge name and number. It’s the usual smart thing to do when your friend is getting arrested, but I had that info burned in my brain. The number I’ve forgotten in the many years since, but I’ll never forget Officer Tabak. He was a real cutie! Anyway, I later told Sister that instead of focusing so much on him, handsome as he was, she should have been getting pictures of me for Sisters’ archives. Sigh! God bless the novice!

While the police read me my rights, the tourists were snapping away and I was giving the cameras my best, reaching my arms out from behind, the best I could to show my cuffed wrists. The officers told me to stop posing for pictures, and I protested that they were taking the photos, shouldn’t I be polite? Cuffed and put into the car we drove off to Hollywood Station. The cops were joking all the way and I joined in the jolly banter. Rule one when getting arrested: be calm and co-operative. Rule #2: show no fear. Truth is I was more than a little nervous, but I wasn’t about to let anyone see that.

They lectured me like a child, with silly questions: “Do you know how many thousands of dollars it will cost the taxpayers to clean up your damage?” Right. A little lipstick on the sidewalk. I offered to tackle the job with a soapy rag. “What if somebody steps in it?” They might get a little lipstick on the sole of a shoe? People step in much worse all the time. I kept responding to silly questions with sensible answers, and they kept shrugging acceptance of my replies, but they persisted. Oh, well. It was Hollywood. They had their role to play and I had mine. Working with these gentlemanly professionals was a true pleasure, and I’d like to thank the academy…

Once at the station I was put on a bench with a chain across it, my cuffed wrists behind me locked to the chain. It wasn’t really uncomfortable, but in the time I was there (It felt like hours, but I couldn’t look at my watch) chained to a bench in my fishnets and bathing suit, not a one of the handsome, rugged policemen took advantage of me. That wounding of my pride is really the worst that happened all day. Never mind the continuing silly questions. (“What the hell are you?” I’m Sister Boom Boom from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, in San Francisco – always answered with a bright, cheery smile.) But while I was chained down, a policewoman – of course it would be a woman – asked the one sensible question I heard all day: “What shade of lipstick was it?”

“Loganberry Frost” I announced, “It’s the only shade I ever use!” (Actually it was Ming Rose, but I had to offer tribute to our most fabulous Sister Loganberry Frost!)

Some poor girl was chained down next to me. I think she was on drugs, and given our bondage and location I don’t blame her at all for not offering to share. They’d pulled her out of a stolen car where she was a passenger. Where the driver of said vehicle was there was no indication, but the poor dear was just a passenger, and apparently she had a record. The poor thing was panicking very loudly and I tried offering her comfort. “Keep, cool, Honey. Save your energy, and don’t let them see you panicking. It only plays into their hands.” Of course I was talking to myself as much as to her.

They took my belongings and inventoried everything, fingerprinted me and took my mug shots. The photographer was disturbed by my photogenic smile and told me to stop smiling so big. Just as I was about to be put into a big cage with a very colorful collection of fellows (and here’s where I really got nervous!) the word came down that I was to be released.

My wimple, purse, and waistchain were returned to me and I was released due to the kind efforts of Al Gordon, a darling, softspoken, grandfatherly figure who had gotten me out on recognizance and later got the charges dropped. As for his charges, it was all pro bono – icing on the cake! God bless Al Gordon!

The other sisters met me telling how they had gotten a bucket and towel and cleaned the sidewalk – getting before and after pictures – saving the taxpayers of Los Angeles the onerous costs of cleaning lipstick off a sidewalk. We were far from the police station when I realized they had taken my handcuffs from my chain! How dare they! Well, we had to head back to San Francisco. It would be much easier to replace them than to go back and make a fuss, and we certainly didn’t want any more trouble with the police.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Let the Moon FIGHTING begin!

Any Islamic month starts the night of the first visible crescent moon. What's "visible" remains an open question and when we start Ramadan fasting, and celebrate Eid at the completion of the month can be a point of some conflict.

For this year anyway the beginning of Ramadan should be pretty clear. On the evening of August 20, almost everywhere in the world, the Moon will not yet be far enough from the Sun to be visible... only 10 degrees when it sets over San Francisco. By the next evening, the 21st, it will be easily visible wherever the sky of the Western horizon is clear. Fasting begins on August 22.

Eid is celebrated at the beginning of the next month and then the visibility of the moon is less certain. September 19th it MAY be visible in parts of the American southwest, setting Eid celebrations on the 20th. Or it may not be visible anywhere in America that evening, so perhaps we should celebrate Eid on the 21st. A group of sheikhs somewhere will have already decided. It's not worth fighting over. I may disagree with ruling councils on matters of principle, but there's no point in arguing over one day more or less of fasting. Besides, if you don't go with your mosque on this one, you just miss a party -- and gain nothing for it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A response to Tariq Ramadan's statements on Islam and Homosexuality

Tariq Ramadan, a leading European Muslim intellectual has posted an article "Islam and Homosexuality"

My response to Brother Tariq:

Assalaamu Aleikum,

The way homosexuality and Islam are being positioned against each other
creates a false dichotomy and does no favors for GLBT folks or for Muslims.
One of the more interesting facets of this issue is how many people who have
been outspoken anti-gay “defenders of tradition” have suddenly decided to
include gays in their defense of Western Culture. "Friends" like this
nobody needs.

Brother Tariq here takes on quite a few issues, rather confusing the point.
But one of the beautiful things about Islam is that it recognizes that we
all bring our own backgrounds, biases, and information gaps to any argument
and should listen to diverse opinions with respect.

The word “homosexuality” and the understandings of that word have a peculiar
history. The term was itself coined in 1868 for political purpose and
quickly found a medical niche. We know that there has been same-sex love
through history, that it exists in all human cultures and that there is
same-sex activity in hundreds of animal species. There is a growing body of
scientific evidence that same-sex attraction is innate, that it has a
largely genetic component. Like left- or righthandedness, one’s eye color
or height, it is part of a range of normal variations. However the way
sexuality is understood varies greatly from one culture to another.

Brother Tariq makes a very firm declaration about the universality of
religious rejection of homosexuality, but there are in fact a growing number
of religions that accept same-sex love. Unitarians, Quakers, and an
ever-expanding range of protestant denominations accept GLBT members and
offer same-sex marriage to loving couples. In the largest denominations –
the Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians – the issue has been
controversial exactly because same-sex love has been gaining so much
acceptance. What “a majority of rabbis” accept I can’t say, but the Reform
and Conservative branches of Judaism are accepting of homosexuality. Gay
and lesbian rabbis are common and serve on rabbinical boards. A small, but
growing number of Muslim groups are even becoming more accepting.

In Islam condemnations of homosexuality rest on the story of Lot (Sodom and
Gomorrah) which is about men raping men. This is common in prisons, and we
see it mostly in situations where men who identify as heterosexual attack
men they perceive as gay. I’ve personally known men who were savagely
attacked and gangraped by groups of men this way. There are also stories of
such abuse by Egyptian and Iranian police. This has nothing at all to do
with men loving men or women loving women.

Brother Tariq’s assertion that “Muslims are now being called upon to condemn
the Qur’an, and to accept and promote homosexuality to gain entry into the
modern world,” is quite an overstatement. There are people like Geert
Wilders who urge us to reject or revise the Qur’an, and that of course is
impossible. Some people do make impossible demands only to create trouble.
That is quite separate from the issue of homosexuality, even if they do
exploit that issue. Homosexuality is not something that can be promoted any
more than blue eyes or being six feet tall can be promoted. People can
experiment and “fool around” just as they might wear contact lenses or high
heels, but in the end you are who you are. Heterosexuality is promoted, and
in many places even mandated, but our God-given human nature will out, and
homosexuals forced into heterosexual marriages by cultural and familial
pressures live unhappily in loveless marriages, often leading double lives,
cheating on their mates. Not only are gays and lesbians being deprived of
fulfilling, loving partnerships but so are their heterosexual husbands and
wives. Gay people know that a sexual orientation cannot be promoted. It
can only be accepted – or rejected – that there are people of different
sexual orientations, and that everyone, regardless of orientation is
entitled to equal rights.

Brother Tariq is addressing the situation of Muslims living in western
nations. Muslims who live in pluralistic societies, or as minorities, are
obliged to respect the laws and customs of the lands we live in. In
democratic nations where we are part of a dialogue where attitudes towards
homosexuality are changing, we can take a voice in that conversation.
Politically it is in our interest to promote acceptance for diversity. Our
religion tells us to “live and let live.” Brother Tariq is quite correct
when he says:

“There is no ambiguity, and ample clarity: European Muslims have the right
to express their convictions while at the same time respecting the humanity
and rights of individuals. If we are to be consistent, we must respect this
attitude of faith and openness”

This is exactly what GLBT activists are working for – no more; no less.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Response to a Critique of "The Reader"

I’m glad your friend’s grandmother survived the camps. Nobody in my German Jewish family did. Some, including my grandparents, were lucky to get out early. The rest didn’t. I grew up on stories of my great-grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins disappearing into ghettos and camps. Some of these I confirmed myself at Holocaust museums and at Dachau. I’ve known survivors socially and from working for years at a Jewish Community Center, but none of my own family…

And I’ve wondered how an illiterate got into that SS job – well, it was late in the war, maybe they were desperate, who knows? One can quibble over what may be simply artistic license. And can the shame of illiteracy be worse than the shame of killing so many other people? All too easily. I know people with reading disabilities and the stigma is tremendous. In contrast, in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” we see insurance executives and bureaucrats who think nothing of letting people die for the sake of profit. From gay bashings and reports on racial lynchings we see how easy it is for people to dehumanize others, to trivialize murder, even turn it into a sport, or entertainment.

While “The Reader” can provoke all kinds of questions about historical accuracy and credibility of motivation (neither of which necessarily invalidates a work of fiction) the real difficulty of the movie is that it asks us to see this SS guard who casually, thoughtlessly participated in mass murder as a human being. And this is the challenge, to see Nazis as human.

We see other genocides all too often, from Armenia to Cambodia to Rwanda, the annihilation of Native Americans, and of Bosniaks. Yes, the Nazis were monstrous in the extreme, but inhuman?

I make no defense or justification of Nazism. Anyone trying that would infuriate me. I am profoundly disturbed by any ideology of hate and this one in particular fills me with revulsion that goes to my earliest childhood, the stories from those who survived, and those who didn’t. The sight of a swastika makes me sick. And yet, the most horrifying thing about them is that indeed they came from the same DNA as any of us, they and we are made of the same stuff, and as much as they debased humanity they are still a part of it. What really separates us but upbringing, character, and circumstance?

The human capacity for what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil” the casual disregard that allows us to justify and shrug away murders is not limited to one horrific aberration of the mid-twentieth century. Was that even an aberration in anything but its mechanical devotion and efficiency? History suggests not.

And this is the hardest part of it. If we fail to see the humanity of the Nazis we fail to guard against the human capacity for evil, and can fall into replicating that evil all too easily.

The historic suffering and persecutions of the Jewish people are deep in our experience and the trauma of the Shoah is all too powerful. But what to do with that power? There are two general paths that trauma victims tend to take. (And they’re not entirely mutually exclusive.) One is the path of the healer, seeking to identify one’s suffering with others. A lot of Jews got into the anti-racist struggle and worked with Black leaders for civil rights. Jewish participation with blacks in the post-war era was big! And there has been lots of Jewish participation and support of other civil rights struggles.

The other path is to identify the trauma as unique. “Nobody’s suffered as I/we have,” and that can become license to act out. It doesn’t always. Some people carry their “special and unique” wound through life, causing no harm to anyone else. We also see it with abused children who become abusers, spouse-beaters, and criminals. They identify so deeply as a victim, that no matter how they harm others, how strong and aggressive they may become, it is they who are being victimized. We see it with Israelis who shoot Palestinian children and drop white phosphorus into crowded neighborhoods.

Yes, Nazis have rejected their own humanity so profoundly that the notion that they can be dehumanized seems redundant. But it’s not about them; it is, at this point, about us. We have to recognize the evil of dehumanization as part of the omnipresent peril of being human. We have to recognize what is human in Hannah Schmidt if we are ever to protect our own humanity from falling into the same pit that swallowed hers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Gay Liberation Front 40 years later!

This June will mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and the Gay Liberation Front that started out of that. Members of the GLF are organizing and participating in events marking our history. I just learned this morning that we've been given the best spot in the SF Gay Pride Parade, and I damn well think we deserve it. What a 40 years it's been!

But it's a profoundly bittersweet occasion as I remember all the many men who did not survive the AIDS crisis. I can only think of a few from our group in Washington DC that might still be alive. Maybe. Where are they? Oh, yes. There's Tim. Thank God for Tim; dear, sweet, kind, beautiful Tim. As for the rest, the only ones I am sure of are those who have passed: friends, lovers, beautiful, brave, and brilliant young men who soared like Icarus daring things that few would even dream of, and they changed the world.

I hope and pray that others from our group will surface, but who knows? Other men and women from other GLF chapters are coming together and we will have a chance to share our histories, recalling great events and amazing people, so much gained, so many lost, the pride, the joy, the wonder of it all, and the grief are all beyond measuring.

Friday, January 23, 2009

News from Gaza

This is not for the squeamish. It is one of the most disgusting, awful things I've ever read -- a letter from Barbara Lubin who is in Gaza bringing medicines and food. I've long said that Israel is better than the Nazis, but that's too low a standard. Now I can't give Israel even that much credit.

You can help get food and medicine to the Palestinians by donating to the Middle-East Children's Alliance

January 23, 2009
Dear Jack,

I entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night with my friend and fellow activist Sharon Wallace after waiting ten hours at the Egypt/Gaza. The destruction and trauma is even greater than I expected.

In just two short days I met with families who were given minutes to evacuate their homes and are now living in overcrowded UN schools; I saw the ruins of bombed greenhouses; I looked out the window at fields and roads torn up by the tread of Israeli tanks; and I visited two universities where MECA supports students with scholarships-severely damaged by Israeli bombs.

Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to "give as a gift to Israel." As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. The concept of "Jewish morality" is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.

I spent the first morning visiting Rafah then drove north to Nuseirat Refugee Camp where our partner organization Afaq Jadeeda Association is buying food a delivering cooked meal to displaced families with funds MECA provided. Then to Gaza City.

Today I visited Jabaliya Refugee Camp and the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, two of the areas hardest hit by Israel's brutal attacks. Pharmacies, schools, and homes were indiscriminately hit in Jabaliya. Mohammed, one of our volunteers in Gaza, and his family were forced to evacuate their home because of intense bombing in their area.

In Zaytoun, I saw families gathering wood from charred trees. The almost two-year blockade of Gaza has deprived people cooking gas, so these terrified families build fires to keep warm and cook the little food they can get.

I talked to people on the street who told stories of wild dogs coming to eat their dead neighbors, relatives bleeding to death because Israel would not allow emergency workers into the area, and Israeli soldiers entering homes to beat and kill.

But despite the immense mourning and devastation, people are starting to put their lives back together. Sabreen, a young woman from Rafah, told me, "We are a strong people. No matter how many times Israel bombs us we are not leaving. We will keep trying to live as normal a life as possible."

Barbara Lubin
Gaza City, Gaza, Palestine

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope and Change

Assalaamu Aleikum

I sat at my desk this morning watching the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, and after the historic event itself I had to turn off the TV, ostensibly to get to work, but who can work? Since this morning I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, sometimes crying, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes exhausted with the relief of waking up from a horrible nightmare. Several horrible nightmares.

President Barack Hussein Obama. Saying that aloud, or just repeating the phrase in my head, it’s like listening to the angels sing. I remember attending Dr. King’s march on Washington. I remember the TV news with Sheriff Clark in Selma Alabama attacking civil rights marchers with dogs and fire hoses. I remember the freedom rides, the marches, black friends telling me how they couldn’t get service at a restaurant or a hotel. Only two years before I was born my mother went to the only public high school in her county, and black students were not allowed. Any who wanted a high school education had to go to the next county, and their family had to make any arrangements for travel, lodging, etc… And with such segregation, what kind of school would be awaiting those who made the effort? In my lifetime we have gone from Jim Crow segregation to having a black President, no less one with an African name reflecting his Muslim roots.

I remember coming out in 1970 when Illinois was the only part of the US where lovemaking between two men wasn’t a criminal act, when being gay was a shameful secret, when the only ones who were out were the few weirdos too flaming or radical not be in a closet. And how they paid the price! Bashings were common, even murders. Forget getting a decent job, and you were very lucky if your family wouldn’t banish you.

Things do change. In fact change is the only constant.

Now in contact online with GLBT folks in Muslim countries I hear their stories and try to offer hope. “Oh, but here is not like in America” they tell me. No, it’s not like America now. It’s like America 40 years ago. And it will change. We have changed. You will change.

The world is all about change, and today we have seen a change that is a culmination of centuries of striving and sacrifice on the part of so many African Americans who worked so hard to give their children better chances than they ever had, not to become president, but sometimes just to get their kids a decent education or a decent meal, and all too often just to survive the slave market and the whip, to escape the dogs and the lynchings.

President Barack Hussein Obama. Oh, how I love saying that! I have my reservations and doubts about this particular man. I’ve followed his record, and as we should regard any politician I only trust him so far, but after what we’ve had, we can at least count on President Barack Hussein Obama to be a huge improvement. He has a very tough road ahead of him and I hope and pray that he is up to the challenges. Jimmy Carter, a good, humane, and very intelligent man stumbled under the load of wreckage he inherited from his Republican predecessors. We enter uncertain times with the handicaps of the last eight years of hideous malfeasance. And for all that the mere fact that we have a president named Barack Hussein Obama and that suddenly our White House is not so entirely white, all inspires hope beyond reason.

President Barack Hussein Obama. Why does a black man in that White house matter to gay kids in Pakistan, Yemen, and Malaysia? Exactly because he does show that there is change, there is reason to hope, that things can eventually get better, and that there is a historical wave washing humanity of its prejudices, all our most stupid bigotries.

When I was a little boy with my family at Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, I had no idea that one of the organizers at that march was a man named Bayard Rustin, an African-American community organizer who helped Dr. King learn the ways of Mahatma Gandhi. Rustin had been arrested and exposed as a homosexual 10 years earlier and it hurt his career in the movements for peace and racial equality. He was much kept away from the cameras for fear of scandal, but Dr. King kept him close and never shied away from Rustin’s friendship, never pushed him out of sight.

And just a few months ago we saw a movie about Harvey Milk, a gay community organizer in the 1970’s. He learned organizing tactics from the example of Martin Luther King who had learned from Bayard Rustin who learned from Gandhi’s followers in India. And Harvey Milk came to the same end as Dr. King, and Mahatma Gandhi, and so many others, and perhaps that’s part of why I’ve been crying today – for Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, for the four little girls in Montgomery, for Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Viola Luzzo, and so many others who were murdered on this terrible road of necessity. And make no mistake, racism is still strong in America and there is so much work left to do, but here we are with our president Barack Hussein Obama, showing that for all the work ahead of us there is so much that is truly, at last behind us.

And with President Barack Hussein Obama we already have four open gays and lesbians in high posts in the White House. Just twenty years ago that would have been impossible. Change happens. Wherever you are, whenever you are living, change happens!

Never forget that. Never forget that God is compassionate and merciful and that no matter how bad things are, and however slow and difficult the road is, change happens.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Gays for Gaza Demonstration in the Castro

Saturday 10 January 2009

The rally for Gaza at the San Francisco Civic Center went well, pretty much as expected and by the numbers. Over a thousand, maybe 2 thousand ofr us rallied, we marched around downtown, came back to Civic Center. There were maybe a hundred Zionist demonstrators across the street by City Hall.

My signs were much photographed and appreciated. On one side

“Never Again”
must be a cry in defense
for all humanity.
If it is used to justify brutality against others
it makes us no better than our past oppressors.

And on the other:

German Jews 1939
Palestinians 2009
Property confiscated and destroyed
Food & basic medical care denied
Deprivation of jobs & livelihood
Religious discrimination/Racism
Mass Round-ups & Detentions
Mixed marriages outlawed
Squalid relocation camps
Children murdered
Resistance labeled as “terrorists”
Settlements = Lebensraum
“Never Again” is for everyone!
What did we learn from the Holocaust?

The “Never Again” side, in larger print was clearly visible across the street when I held it up to the Zionists.

Where it got a little more interesting was in the Castro at 3:00 where Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism in Palestine (QUIT Palestine) led a demonstration of GLBT support for Gaza. We had several dozen, maybe 50 people at Harvey Milk Plaza. What would have been a nice little hour, maybe an hour and half of waving signs and chanting was energized into so much more by a group of about a dozen Zionists across the street from us. We really should thank them for giving us so much focus and energy.

Having taken a lunch break between the two demos I got to the Castro a little late and when I arrived some of our folks were on both sides of the street. I decided to go where the fun was. The anger and vehemence were so – well, scary. They weren’t seriously dangerous then and there, but they were spitting out insults and names, making odd assertions and screaming “Lies!” at any disagreement.” One guy instantly asked me when was my last therapy appointment. One woman said, “Did you know all the Gay Arabs are fleeing to Israel?” A few, yes, most no. (And never mind the absurdity of her statement!) “Oh, you’re such a liar!” she yelled. Some of the women kept shouting “Remember Mumbai!” Which has what to do with Israel and Palestine? I guess that Muslims are scary terrorists – unlike the IDF bombing schools and hospitals in Gaza.

We eventually went back to “our” side of the street and not only did we have many more people, but we clearly had more gay people, and we even had more Jews on our side of the street. As for all those gay Arabs fleeing into Israel from oppression in their own lands, all the gay Arabs present were on our side.

Finally they rolled up their flags and went home, and after a little bit longer, so did we.