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Posts for February, 2013

Who’s Gonna Cheer the ’49ers Now?

Jim Burroway

February 1st, 2013

In 1981, Hudepohl Beer was beer to Cincinnati as Rolling Rock was to Pittsburgh and Coors to Denver. Locals called it Hudy; it was the brew of Cincinnati’s working class. Its name was emblazoned on the windows of the city’s thousands of “pony kegs” (what locals called the neighborhood small grocery or package store), and the call of its vendors was an iconic part of the soundtrack for every Reds and Bengals’s game at Riverfront Stadium. “Hudaaaay… here!” The vendors called it out in a particular sing-sing, with their voices dipping on the second syllable and trailing off, almost, before punching the air with a sharply rising “here!”

Hudy drinkers that year had much to celebrate when the ever-suffering Bengals were suddenly transformed into a real, honest-to-God Super Bowl contender. Cincinnati suddenly had Super Bowl fever and everyone was sporting the orange and back stripes. The city hadn’t seen that kind of excitement since the Big Red Machine of the mid-1970s. But here they were, going crazy once again, this time over professional football, no less, in what had been a dyed-in-the-wool baseball town.

That winter was blistering cold. The conference championship game at Riverfront Stadium against the San Diego Chargers (Bengals: 27-7) broke the record for the coldest game in NFL history (air temperature: -9°F, wind chill with sustained 27 mph winds: -34°F.) We were tough; those pampered SoCal wimps couldn’t cut it. Notice, I said “we.” A winning football team, particularly one that’s Super Bowl bound, has a way of unifying the most unlikely people, even closeted nerdy engineering student fags like me who knew next to nothing about sports. But that year was different: Quarterback Ken Anderson, the (adorable) wide receiver Chris Collingsworth, Anthony Muñoz, Pete Jackson, Dan Ross. I could recite those name and actually sound like I knew what I was talking about, like never before or since. Look at me, I remember thinking, being all sports fan-ny and shit. And we all joined in with the rallying cry, inspired by the Hudy call we heard at the stadium all our lives: “Hooday! Hooday! Hooday think gonna beat them Bengals?”

Leadups to championship games like this have a way of unifying a community in ways that are nearly impossible by any other means. Cincinnati is a city of neighborhoods, and residents are much more likely to identify themselves accordingly rather than as Cincinnatians. But for one season, whether they were transplanted Appalachians of Lower Price Hill or the old families of Mt. Storm, the down-in-the-heels denizens of Over-the-Rhine or the the urban pioneers of Mt. Auburn, the Proctor and Gamble executives downtown or the auto workers building Camaros in Norwood, the Hudy drinkers of Western Hills or the Chablis sippers in Hyde Park or the disco queens and their Long Island Iced Teas at the Lighthouse discotheque in Clifton, everyone had that moment of common cause. Even on the fractious city council, with the Kennedy-esque Jerry Springer (seriously, I kid you not! What happened since then is still a mystery) and the increasingly arch conserviative Ken Blackburn (now a pundit at the Family “Research” Council), they finally found that one thing they could all agree on.

And during those weeks of universal camaraderie, jocks in the bars would turn to me — me! — and smile — sure, they smiled because they were drunk, and they looked at me just because I happened to be standing in some random direction outside of their huddle, but who cares? — they looked at me, smiled, hoist their Hudys and shouted, “Who dey think gonna beat them Bengals?” Gee, nobody had ever asked me that before. But I knew the answer, along with everyone else, and the entire bar would erupt with “Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat them Bengals?”

It turned out the 49ers did, in a heartbreaking Super Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan. The score was 26-21, a score made respectable only by two late Bengals touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Those ’49ers. God, we loved hating them, but they played a good game. And then everything more or less went back to normal in Cincinnati. But for most of an unforgettable football season, everything had changed, and I still get goose bumps writing this.

This Sunday, the 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Ordinarily that should be a great focus of pride and unity for the city and all its residents. But the 49ers seem to be going out of their way to alienate a very significant part of that community. On Tuesday, 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver was on the Artie Lange Show, where he was asked if there were any gay players on the team. Culliver made it very clear that there were none and there wouldn’t be any: “I don’t do the gay guys man. I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah, can’t be in the locker room man.”

He later apologized, and people started to try to move on. But then suddenly, yesterday, linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who participated in the ’49ers’ “It Gets Better” video last year — making the ’49ers the first NFL team to make such a video — denied taking part in it:

“I didn’t make any video,” Brooks said. “This is America and if someone wants to be gay, they can be gay. It’s their right. But I didn’t make any video.”When told USA TODAY Sports had seen the video and he was in it, Brooks replied, “I don’t remember that. I think if I made a video, I’d remember it.” He was shown the video on an iPhone.

“Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay (rights) video,” he said.

When told that studies show that the majority of teens who are bullied are harassed over sexual identity issues, Brooks thought for a second. “I know that. I know that,” he said. “Okay, you’re right and I’m wrong. Are you from one of those New York newspapers?”

…Sopoaga, too, denied making the video, even while teammate Will Tukuafu, who overheard the question, tried to refresh his memory. “Yeah, you made that video, remember?” Tukuafu said.

“No,” Sopoaga said. “I never went. And now someone is using my name.” Sopoaga was shown the video. “What was that for?” he asked.

To ask teens to stop bullying other teens because of sexual identity, he was told.

“Yeah, OK,” he said. Would you like to comment on it, he was asked. “No,” he said.

Dan Savage, who spearheaded the “It Gets Better” project, pulled the 49ers’ video from the web site. The 49ers’ organization disavowed Culliver’s earlier comment but has remained silent over the latest controversy. I gotta tell you, I love San Francisco. I love the people, the energy, the night life, the compactness, the walkability, the museums, everything. I even like the Muni. But I am so incredibly thankful I’m not a San Francisco resident right now. If I were, I’d have to find some other way to spend Super Bowl Sunday where I’m not surrounded by people cheering on the ’49ers. And I’d probably yearn for a Hudy and the memories of better times.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, 11/11/11

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Veterans Day: Nationwide. This will be the first Veterans Day commemoration since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which means that this will be the first Veterans Day commemoration in which gay and lesbian servicemembers will be able to participate fully. I know of two cities  in which LGBT veterans will be celebrated as part of the mainstream events:

  • San Diego, CA: San Diego LGBT Pride extends its welcome to all LGBT veterans, active duty servicemembers, and their families and supporters to walk with us in the San Diego Veterans Day Parade. The contingent will meet at 10am on the west side of the north Parking lot of the Country Administration Building, 1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego CA 92101. The Parade will kick off at 11am.
  • San Francisco, CA: Today’s 92nd annual Veterans Day Parade will be led by San Francisco Freedom Day Marching Band. “It’s just the right thing to do,” said Wallace Levin, the parade coordinator. “Future generations of Americans will look back on this issue and wonder what all the fuss was about.” The parade begins at 11:00 a.m. at the corner of Market and Montgomery streets, and will go down Market Street to McAllister Street and then continue up McAllister to the reviewing stand across from City Hall.

I’m sure there are others. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Lou Engle at TheCall in Nashville, 2007

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Lou Engle’s TheCall Rally: Detroit, MI. Engle is apparently transfixed by certain numbers when they repeat themselves on the calendar. When July 7, 2007 rolled around, Engle held a TheCall rally in Nashville which he believed would mark the end of a forty year period of rebellion since the “Summer of Love” in 1967. Apparently believe that God conforms himself to the man-made western Gregorian calendar, Engle has managed to read some sort of significance into the date 11/11/11, although what that would be is anybody’s guess. Targeting the substantial Arab-American community of Dearborn, Engle’s goal for TheCall Detroit is the conversion of “millions of Muslims” to Christianity and what he calls the transformation of “urban communities.” And gays. Don’t forget the gays, although it looks like he really has his sights set on Muslims this time. He took care of the gays in 2010 at a rally in Kampala, Uganda, where he lent tactical support for the proposed “Kill the Gays” Bill.

Today’s rally begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. and continues for twenty-four hours until tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. And Engle has issued some pretty crazy warnings if he doesn’t get a massive turnout in Detroit: ” If we actually have The Call and you don’t sustain prayer ongoing you open a vacuum for demons seven times worse to come in. If black and white can’t move together in prayer and sustain it, forget it let’s not even go there, you get demons seven times worse.” So yeah, there’s that to chew on.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Woman Who Posed As Man 60 Years, Dead: 1907. That was the headline in The Trinidad (Colorado) Advertiser above this news item:

Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years posed as a man, wearing male garb, living the rough life of the pioneers in the Southwest and who even “married” another woman, died yesterday morning at the San Raphael Hospital in this city, where she had been a county charge since he secret of her life was discovered by Dr. T.J. Forham, of this city two years ago.

Born nearly four-score years ago in France of a good family, this remarkable woman donned male garb when but a slip of a girl, came to America and worked as a back clerk, bookkeeper, restauranteur, cook, and sheep herder for over half a century without her sex being known.

In July, two years ago, “Frenchy,” a cook and sheep herder on the Sam Brown ranch, near this city, was taken with pneumonia and brought to the hospital where her secret was revealed. Even then, this strange woman refused to wear skirts. Clad in regulation man’s attire, she has since worked about the hospital and was known by the nickname of “Grandpa.”

Katherine Vosbaugh was left an orphan at the age of twenty years. Her father, a well educated man of considerable means, gave her an excellent business education. At hi death she was an expert accountant and spoke her native tongue, English, German, and Hungarian. Her only motive in assuming the disguise at first seems to have been to enable her more easily to secure employment.

She worked in several cities all over the country before settling at Joplin, Mo., where she worked for fifteen years as a bank clerk, and it was in this city where she married. The name of her “wife” was never learned, but the ceremony seems to have taken place for the purpose of saving the woman’s good name. A few months after the marriage a child was born to the wife, which died after a few months.

Shortly after the death of the child the two women came to this city and opened a restaurant on Commercial street. Here she was known as “Frenchy” and the establishment was one of the most popular restaurants in the Southwest.

Wheat became of “Frenchy’s” wife is not known. She drifted away and her “husband” refused until the time of her death to reveal the woman’s name.

After leaving here the woman secured a position as cook on a big sheep ranch near Trinche ranch. The eccentricities of youth became more pronounced as she grew older and more and more she came to look like a man. For years she lived with men on the ranch, cooking for them, assisting them in the ranch work, and sleeping in the same rooms, but her secret was never suspected.

Two years and four months ago she was stricken with pneumonia, and it was then that her secret was discovered. Since then she failed rapidly in body and mind and her death was due to a general breakdown.

From Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 323-324.

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

San Francisco Giants: “It Gets Better”

Jim Burroway

June 1st, 2011

There’s hardly a gay male alive who wasn’t tormented by jocks while in school, which is why this video by the San Francisco Giants so incredibly moving. The video features four current players — pitchers Matt Cain and Sergio Romo, outfielder Andres Torres and Cy Young Award winning pitcher Barry Zito — and Giants hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Muelens.

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Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Where Does San Francisco’s AIDSWalk Money Go?

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2010

You’d probably guess San Fransisco, with some maybe to other bay-area communities like Oakland or Daly City. How about Ukraine?

This Sunday, San Francisco will host its annual AIDSWalk in Golden Gate Park. As with AIDSWalks that take place around the country, I would imagine that every one of those 25,000 participants are volunteering for this important charity event to raise money for AIDS charities in the local community. But according to the New York Times, the bulk of the money raised by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation will actually go to Cambodia, China, Ukraine, and five countries in Africa.  In 2008, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation awarded 57% of its grant money to the Pangea Global AIDS Foundation, a separate international charity founded by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 2001 and with which it shares office space and employees. (Update: Michael Petrelis notes that Pangea was headed by Dr. Eric Goosby in 2001. He is now the United States Global AIDS Coordinator.) In 2009, 73% of the Foundation’s grants went to Pangea.

Ms. Kimport [Barbara Kimport, the Foundation’s interim Chief Executive] said that in recent years the foundation’s support of Pangaea had come from other sources of money, not AIDS Walk donations. The walk last July raised $3.5 million. Foundation records show only $246,000 in grants to local groups in the 2009 calendar year. During the same period, the records show, Pangaea received $500,000.

Reactions were mixed. One participant in the Foundation’s cycling fundraisers said, “I recognize that the epidemic is universal.” But others feel deceived:

“I have friends who are positive,” [Jamie] McPherson said, believing that the money would go to support them. “Does it bother me?” he said. “Yeah, it does. You’ve got to take care of home first.”

Local AIDS charities report financial strains due to the financial crisis:

Mike Smith, president of San Francisco’s H.I.V./AIDS Providers Network, which represents 40 nonprofit groups, said the recession had strained budgets and fund-raising. “We have the highest density of people living with H.I.V. in the nation,” Mr. Smith said — 35,000 people infected in a city with a population of less than 800,000. “It’s staggering.”

The “Not Gay” Scarfboi’s Ties to Lou Engle

Jim Burroway

June 22nd, 2010
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Adam Hood’s two videos have gone viral throughout the web. In this video, Hood provides a bit more background to his life story. It turns out that Hood is associated with Morningstar House in the Portola district of San Francisco. He also works with the so-called “Justice House of Prayer,” the evangelical group which is often seen “witnessing” in the Castro near the Bank of America or on Harvey Milk Plaza. Engle says he sent his son to establish JHOP just a block off the Castro “where the homosexuals boast the dominion of darkness.”

ENDA Sit-ins Result in Arrests in DC and San Francisco

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2010
DC Sit-in (Omar Clarke, GetEqual.org, via Pam's House Blend)

DC Sit-in (Omar Clarke, GetEqual.org, via Pam's House Blend)

In Washington, DC, eight activists arrived for a meeting with the staff of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, demanding that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) be brought to a vote. They then barred the doors and staged a classic, old-fashioned sit-in augmented with modern-day Tweets. After about four hours, police were able to get into the offices and arrest four lesbians for unlawful entry. They were taken to DC Central Cellblock — the same location where Daniel Choi  and Jim Pietrangelo were taken following his arrest at the White House —  and released without bail. Their court date is April 6. Choi and Pietrangelo were held overnight.

While the protest in Pelosi’s DC office was taking place, another seven or eight protesters occupied her district office in San Francisco. Arrests also took place there. Both events were coordinated by GetEqual.org.

Not So Ex-Gay “Ex-Gay Leader” Closes Shop

Jim Burroway

March 16th, 2010
Matthew C. Manning

Matthew C. Manning

Last summer, Ex-Gay Watch’s David Roberts published a very carefully resourced investigation into the three arrests of Matthew C. Manning, who runs a California-based ex-gay ministry known as Lighthouse World Evangelism. Manning had been charged in 1998, 2000, and in 2005 with complaints of soliciting other males for sexual encounters in public parks and other venues. He was not convicted in the first two cases but the 2005 episode, in which Manning pleaded “no contest,” includes an order to stay away from Santa Rosa-area 24 Hour Fitness locations for one year.

Roberts’ investigative journalism is truly remarkable, and he has repeated that careful attention to detail in today’s carefully researched follow-up to that story. The very day after Ex-Gay Watch’s investigative report appeared online last June, Manning petitioned the California courts to have his 2005 conviction expunged from the record, a move that California law provides for in some cases. That petition was granted in August. Since then, Manning tried to re-establish his ministry in San Francisco, but now Manning claims that a revelation from God has told him to close up shop.

Manning had made a big splash in the ex-gay world in 2002 when he appeared on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, claiming to have been “delivered” from homosexuality in 1989, and miraculously healed from full-blown AIDS in 1994. The extraordinary claim of a miraculous healing has never been documented. As Roberts points out, Manning also spoke alongside other illustrious ex-gay leaders such as Exodus President Alan Chambers, former ex-gay spokesman John Paulk, and Focus on the Family ex-gay speaker Mike Haley. He now appears focused on arguing with the heart-wrenching blog of a mother whose two sons fell under Manning’s influence.

No, the SF study did NOT illustrate that half of gay marriages are “open”

Timothy Kincaid

February 10th, 2010

One of the primary purposes of Box Turtle Bulletin is analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric. And perhaps the largest component of that is to review “studies” that relay astonishing “facts” about gay people and to determine whether they have any basis in fact.

Sometimes these are efforts conducted by anti-gay activists seeking to support their presumptions, but more often it is misrepresentation of legitimate work. One such misrepresentation has been making the rounds purporting to show that gay couples reject monogamy.

For several years, Sean Beougher and Colleen Hoff of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University have been looking sexual agreements among gay men. This interest was generated by incidences of HIV transmission within relationships and a desire to understand how sexual agreements relate to this phenomenon.

But analysis of investment of couples into agreements and how that correlates with adherence (which impacts transmission within relationships) doesn’t make sexy headlines. So when the New York Times’ Scott James reported on this study, he decided to talk about something else entirely:

Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret

A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

The sensational (but as I’ll illustrate, flatly untrue) statement that monogamy is not a central feature for many gay relationships is exciting and sure to elicit conversation. But it just wasn’t defamatory enough for those who wish to portray gay people as sex-crazed and incapable of commitment.

Conservative NewsMax reported:

Study: Gay Marriage Involves More Outside Relationships

A federally-funded study by San Francisco State University that followed 556 local male couples for three years found that half “have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners,” according to The New York Times.

On its website, the Center describes the importance in conducting the study as revolving around the fact that “gay and bisexual men in relationships engage in substantially higher rates of unprotected” homosexual activity than do “single men with their casual partners.”

A commentary on GetReligion.org took the opportunity to say

I’m not sure if the description of the study’s findings is written up as well as it could be. If 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their primary relationship with the knowledge and approval of their partners, that’s an utterly fascinating, and newsworthy statistic. Still, I’m curious about the remaining half. What percentage of those surveyed have sex outside of their primary relationship but don’t have the knowledge and/or the approval of their partners? It seems like a key piece of information.

Certainly there’s at least one person in the world who thinks that sex with multiple partners is not the key to a successful marriage, right? And I’m not just talking about advocates of traditional marriage vows, or advocates of spousal fidelity.

The bottom line, though, is that this study breaks news. Really interesting and important news.

And even gay sites got on board with this notion with Edge Magazine running the headline, Surprise! Lots of Gay Marriages Are ’Open’, and Dan Savage declaring Half of All Gay Couples Non-Monogamous (though Edge did note some caveats).

But those who delight in denouncing the hedonistic sex-driven homosexuals and their non-monogamous marriages share a problem with those gays who may champion the abandonment of the heteronormative demands of conformity and spearhead the evolution of marriage: this study tells us nothing whatsoever about gay marriage and little about monogamy within gay relationships as a whole.

In order for a study to report on the characteristics of a population, it must be representative of that population. If a study selects a convenience sample rather than a statistically valid sample, the non-representative demographics of the sample cannot be presented as a “finding”.

For example, if I went to Dodger Stadium, i might find a sample which was useful to tell me whether Dodger fans think Dodger Dogs taste better than garlic fries, but I could not claim that my sample proves that 80% of all baseball fans support the Dodgers. That is simply a non-representative demographic of my sample, not a finding of my study.

So to see if this study supported the claim that half of gay marriages are open (non-monogamous), I contacted the study authors and obtained previously published information that reveals the sample methodology. I do not have all of the data on which the final study is to be reported, but the sampling methodology was consistent.

Let’s look at how the sample for this study was constructed and how that differs from the population as a whole.

Definition of relationship:

To be eligible participants had to have been at least 18 years old, have been in a their current relationship for at least 3 months, have knowledge of their own and their partner’s HIV status, be fluent in English, and be residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.

All were men. Contrary to James’ breathless reporting (and the example with which he started his article) the researchers said nothing about lesbian relationships. They were excluded.

The study was conducted in several phases and the details of each is not available, but the sampling methods were consistent. The breakout for Study 2 found that only 13% of participants identified as being married (perhaps the 2004 San Francisco variety) and only a third had made any sort of public commitment.

It is ludicrous to suggest that a study which includes three month long relationships without any public commitment is informative about marriage. The average length of the relationships was 7 years (more or less) but the median length was about three years earlier (half of the relationships were less than 4 years in length), suggesting that there were a few very long relationships and many much shorter ones.

The way this study has been reported, it has been suggested that gay relationships are more likely to be open than straight relationships, but no comparison was made and I’m not aware of any study that looked at the level of fidelity in three-month-old heterosexual relationship and pretended that they were representative of straights as a whole.

As the research was not applied separately by relationship structure or length, this study says nothing about gay marriage or even domestic partnerships. And any use of the results which makes (or even implies) a comparison to straight relationships is bogus and irresponsible.

Location and social perspective of the population sampled:

It must be emphasized that gay men living in the San Francisco Bay Area are not representative of gay men as a whole. In fact, it would be difficult to identify a group of gay men less representative of the US gay population.

Significant factors in the consideration of monogamy surely must include attitudes about sexuality and whether one’s general approach is more conservative or liberal overall. Additionally, the perspectives of the community in which one lives most certainly effect the values that one adopts.

While I cannot point to a study and state with certainty that those who view themselves as “conservative” are more likely or less likely to value monogamy, I can state that selecting only participants from the SF area sharply skews the sample towards those who identify as “liberal” and significantly under-represents a sizable segment of the gay community.

The means of reaching participants:

Active and passive recruitment strategies were implemented in community settings. Field research staff reached potential participants either by handing out study postcards or placing flyers and postcards in gay-identified social venues such as bars, clubs, and cafes, as well as in community health and HIV and AIDS service organizations and by placing advertisements in gay-oriented publications, Web sites, and listserves.

Recruitment materials contained text describing the study as “one which examines important relationship dynamics associated with HIV.” Recruitment strategies were designed to produce a diverse sample in terms of race or ethnicity as well as serostatus.

Recruitment in bars and clubs and on listserves skews the sample towards those who are actively seeking sexual connections. While some gay people go to bars solely for social interaction, monogamous couples that do not regularly go to bars or look at Craigslist were far less likely to hear of this study.

Additionally, this study was more likely to attract those who were interested in how relationship dynamics impact HIV transmission. I think it is a reasonable assumption that, on average, couples committed to monogamy might not have the same interest level as those who have open relationships.

The demographics of the sample:

For two of the studies, 41% of the participants were HIV positive (Study 3 had 32%). While this may be advantageous to a study which seeks to look at sexual agreements, it is not representative of the population of San Francisco, and has almost no reflection of the gay male population at large. Only about 12% of gay men in the United States are infected with HIV.

While this is undoubtedly useful for looking at variances of agreement structure among sero-concordant and discordant couples, claiming a blended rate of monogamy as though it were reflective of the community would be bad science.

This study found that couples which were both HIV negative were far more likely to establish monogamy than those in which one or both parties were positive. So by significantly over-representing HIV positive participants, the percentage who embrace monogamy were skewed downward.

About half of the sample had a bachelors degree (more than 20% had a post-graduate degree). Yet only about 43% were employed full time, with another 10-12% employed part time and 9-12% self employed. I don’t know whether there is a correlation between employment and valuing monogamy, but I think that we can all agree that 35% unemployment is not reflective of gay men as a whole, especially in the mid 2000’s when the participants were questioned.

About half of the men made less than $30,000 per year, with only a quarter making over $60,000. The average salary for San Francisco Bay Area jobs is about $65,000 and it is absurd to assume that gay men make, on average, less than half of their heterosexual counterparts.

I do not have adequate research at hand to correlate gay male monogamy (or fidelity) with employment or economic position. However, I believe that social position can influence relationship structure so it is a reasonable assumption that a study which is skewed towards a lower economic status may not accurately reflect the extent to which gay male couples as a whole value monogamy.

Conclusion:

The Gay Couples Study does reveal valuable information about the formation of sexual agreements among gay couples. For example, it reveals that gay men are almost universally talk about monogamy and fidelity and define the rules of their relationship. This seems true regardless of the structure, length, or investment into the relationship. And research into breached agreements and how it impacts HIV transmission is essential to targeting prevention efforts.

But in my opinion, Scott James’ statement that “New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area” may be among the most irresponsible reporting I’ve ever seen. The study says nothing whatsoever about lesbians and it tells us little about “just how common open relationships are” among anyone. It’s pure sensationalism and shoddy journalism.

But the real culprits are those who saw this study and decided that it says something about, for example, gay couples marrying in Iowa or New Hampshire. This was either lazy response or a deliberate attempt to fraudulently demonize gay couples for political gain.

In short, those reporting on this study got it wrong. If there is any story here, it would be that a study of San Francisco bay area gay male couples, a sample which was highly skewed to include many participants who are less likely to value monogamy and which defined “couples” to include those who have been dating as little as three months, still found that half of them set monogamy as the agreement for their relationship.

SF Supervisor Introduces Resolution Condemning Church Vandalism

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2009

Here’s something worth noting. San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty introduced a resolution condeming the recent vandalism of the Most Holy Redeemer Church. You can read the text of the resolution here.  By the way, this is especially notable because Bevan Dufty is gay.

On Monday, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League issued a long and convoluted statement denouncing the vandalism, and blaming the gays for it despite a complete and total lack of evidence, adding this latest incident to a long laundry list of “attacks” — both exaggerated and imagined — against Catholicism. He also implied that the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors were partly responsible. Now that the Board is on record condemning the attack, I wonder if we’ll hear a mea maxima culpa from Donohue? Don’t bet on it.

[Hat tip: Joe My God, Towleroad]

Vandals Strike Pro-Gay Catholic Church

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

The Most Holy Redeemer Church, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro district, was targeted by vandalsover the weekend, presumably over the Catholic Church’s support of Proposition 8. The parish church was spray painted with swastikas, the slogan “Prop H8,” and with the names “Ratzinger” (referring to Pope Benedict XVI) and San Francisco Archbishop Niederauer. San Francisco police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

Impressively, the erudite vandals spelled Niederauer’s name correctly (a feat that I can’t accomplish without the old trusty cut-and-paste). Niederauer became an outspoken proponent of Prop 8 during the campaign, sending a pastoral letter to all churches in his diocese — including Holy Redeemer — calling on parishioners to vote for the proposal.

Holy Redeemer however is known in the Castro as being decidedly gay friendly despite the larger Church’s stance on homosexuality. Holy Redeemer bills itself as “your Catholic Church in the Castro,” and “an inclusive Catholic community,” welcoming everyone “regardless of their background, gender, gender identity, race, social status, or sexual orientation.” According to Rev. Donal Godfrey, some two-thirds of the Holy Redeemer parishioners are gay or lesbian. Many of them are married couples, and some of their children have been baptized in the church.

Holy Redeemer has had an active AIDS ministry since 1985, becoming one of the earliest Christian ministries to serve people with AIDS with compassion — a move that most Christian churches still have not embraced.  In 1986, the convent was converted into a hospice to care for people dying of AIDS-related illnesses. Contingents from Holy Redeemer also participate in community events like the Castro Street Fair and the annual Pride celebration.

Pastor Steve Meriweather told KCBS his parishioners actually share the vandals’ sentiment against Prop 8. “I think it’s unfortunate that they selected our community to attack,” said Meriweather, “because it’s the wrong one.”

But even if the vandal had picked “the right” target, this is still incredibly stupid. This episode will play perfectly into the hands of anti-gay activists. Those who successfully targeted gays and lesbians for constitutional discrimination will cry “discrimination!” and claim that this is yet another example of “persecution.” Which just goes to show that all hate crimes have one common thread: regardless of their particular grief, all hate crimes are committed by morons.

Update: Some anti-gay web sites are claiming that “gays” vandalized Holy Redeemer. In fact, we do not know who spray painted the graffiti on the church. It could have been opponents to Prop 8, or it could have been a prop 8 supporter trying to garner sympathy — and spelling Niederauer’s name correctly in the process. Who knows? We don’t, and unless police are able to shed more light on the subject, we won’t assume or speculate either way.

U.S. Catholic Groups To Hold Vigils At Cathedrals

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2008

Three Catholic groups which support LGBT equality have announced plans to hold vigils in five U.S. cities today to call attention to the Vatican’s opposition to a U.N. resolution calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality. DignityUSA, New Ways Ministry, and Call To Action will hold vigils in the following locations:

  Read the rest of this entry »

Today In History: Candlelights At City Hall

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2008

Harvey Milk finally succeeded in becoming the first openly gay non-incumbent candidate to win a political office for two reasons. One, he refused to hide who he was; and two, he made it his mission to build alliances with groups that other gay activists thought were impossible to reach.

So to those who knew Harvey well, it came as no surprise that shortly after the 1977 election, Harvey was on good terms with Dan White, a conservative supervisor representing a blue-collar district in the city’s southeast. White, a former cop, was supported by the city’s police union whose leaders were angry over  city policies which they considered to be soft on crime and homosexuals. There couldn’t have been two politicians from more opposite ends of the political spectrum. The local media ate it up as the two made joint appearances on local talk shows where they both talked warmly of each other. Harvey began to privately telling friends that he thought White was “educatable,” and that the two might actually be able to work together.

The warm feelings didn’t last long. During the election campaign, White had made a centerpiece of his campaign his opposition to a proposed psychiatric treatment center in his district. Neighbors worried that the center would put “arsonists, rapists and other criminals” in their neighborhood. Harvey was inclined to support White, which would have given White the 6-5 majority he needed to block the facility. But as Harvey learned more about the center, he discovered that San Francisco children would be sent instead far away to a state hospital where they would be cut off from their families. He concluded that “they’ve got to be next to somebody’s house,” and switched his vote.

The loss infuriated White, who blamed Harvey for the loss. For the next several months, White would not speak to him or his aides. Other supervisors noticed that White stopped spending as much time at his office in City Hall, and he was sullen during the weekly board meetings.

White retaliated by switching his vote on Harvey’s gay rights bill. Before the vote on the psychiatric center, White voted for the bill in committee and spoke passionately for it, tying it to his experiences as a paratrooper in Vietnam. But when the gay rights law came before the entire board a week after the vote on the psychiatric center, White changed his vote. The bill passed 10-1.

These two episodes were the start of a bitter public feud between White and Milk. White opposed every street closing or permit involving the gay community — he was often the only supervisor to do so. But as the year went on, White became increasingly disillusioned with politics. He also found that the $9,600 per year salary wasn’t enough to support his wife and infant child. He had opened a potato restaurant at Pier 39, but that business was struggling. Citing these pressures, White abruptly resigned on November 10, 1978.

This resignation gave Mayor George Moscone a tremendous opportunity to reshape the Board of Supervisors. The makeup of the eleven-member board was roughly split 6-5, and White was part of the majority who favored of conservative, business-friendly, pro-growth policies. With White’s resignation, the Mayor now had the opportunity to tilt the balance toward those who favored a more neighborhood oriented approach.

White’s supporters in the business community and police union were alarmed at his sudden resignation. They met with him to promised some financial support, and urged him to ask Moscone to reappoint him to his seat. Meanwhile, Milk and other progressive leaders lobbied Moscone to appoint someone more in line with their views. The fact that Milk vigorously opposed White’s reappointment was an open secret. Randy Shilts, writing in The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, described an encounter between Charles Morris, a publisher of a local gay paper, and White at a political fundraiser. White appeared to be in a good mood, so Morris struck up a conversation with him. At one point, Morris suggested that “there are some in the gay community who think that you might be anti-gay.” White replied, “Let me tell you right now. I’ve got a real surprise for the gay community — a real surprise.”

Mayor Moscone set Monday, November 27 as the day he would announce whether he would reappoint White or name someone else. The night before, a reporter from KCBS called White to say that a source told her that he would not be reappointed. White refused to comment. He hung up the phone and stayed up all night, eating cupcakes and drinking Cokes. The following morning, his aide called to say that a group of his supporters planned on going to city hall to present Mayor Moscone with petitions and letters of support. Since his wife had already taken the car to go to work, Dan asked for a ride to city hall. He hung up the phone, got dressed, and loaded his .38 Smith & Wesson.

White’s aide dropped him off at City Hall. White paced around a bit, then found an open basement window. He jumped through the window, allowing him to avoid the metal detectors at the building’s entrances. He made his way to Moscone’s office, who agreed to meet with White in the outer office. White asked Moscone to re-appoint him to his former seat. Moscone declined, and their conversation turned into a heated argument. Moscone then suggested they move to a private lounge attached to the mayor’s office where they could speak privately. Once inside the small room, White pulled out his pistol and shot Moscone twice in the abdomen, then twice more in the head.

White then reloaded his gun and went down the hall to Harvey’s office. There, he asked to speak privately in an adjoining room. White later recalled that he began to scream at Harvey and that Harvey got up out of his seat. White then pulled his gun and shot Harvey three times in the chest, once in the back and two times in the head. White then fled City Hall, and eventually turned himself to his former co-workers at the police department.

Thirty years ago today, on November 27, 1978, tens of thousands of stunned mourners gathered in the Castro for an impromptu candlelight march to City Hall. The sea of candles stretched ten city blocks long. At the steps of city hall, Joan Baez led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace” and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sang a hymn by Felix Mendelssohn.

About those “Peaceful Christians” In the Castro

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2008

I think it’s safe to say that Joe.My.God was at least as alarmed as I was over news reports of a so-called “Christian” group being escorted out of the Castro by a heavy protective police contingent.

Well Joe.My.God has learned that at least one of those so-called “Christians” is associated with Lou Engle, who is a pastor in the Christian Dominionist group Joel’s Army. She appeared with Engle in Kansas City to call for a “mass exodus from the demonic influence of the Castro.” Engle described the confrontation os “a confrontation of the Spirit” and called on God to “turn back this evil that is rising” in the fight against “the powers of darkness.”

Christian Dominionism is a harder-core, more violent offshoot of Christian Reconstructionism. Christian Reconstructionists are on record as calling for the biblical punishment of stoning for gays and lesbians.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified Joel’s Army as a potentially violent Dominionist group which believes that the United States “should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law.” Engle was a lead organizer of “The Call” at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium just before the election.

According to SPLC’s Casy Sanchez:

As even his critics note, Engle is a sweet, humble and gentle man whose persona is difficult to reconcile with his belief in an end-time army of invincible young Christian warriors. Yet while Engle is careful to avoid deploying explicit Joel’s Army rhetoric at high-profile events like The Call, when he’s speaking in smaller hyper-charismatic circles to avowed Joel’s Army followers, he can venture into bloodlust.

This March, at a “Passion for Jesus” conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.

“I believe we’re headed to an Elijah/Jezebel showdown on the Earth, not just in America but all over the globe, and the main warriors will be the prophets of Baal versus the prophets of God, and there will be no middle ground,” said Engle. He was referring to the Baal of the Old Testament, a pagan idol whose followers were slaughtered under orders from the prophet Elijah.

“There’s an Elijah generation that’s going to be the forerunners for the coming of Jesus, a generation marked not by their niceness but by the intensity of their passion,” Engle continued. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Such force demands an equal response, and Jesus is going to make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire.”

Joel’s Army maintains an apocalyptic vision of their role in the world. They see themselves as members of the final generation with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision as a new Passover:

Everyone born after abortion’s legalization can consider their birth a personal invitation to take part in this great army,” writes John Crowder, another prominent Joel’s Army pastor, who bills his 2006 book, The New Mystics: How to Become Part of the Supernatural Generation, as a literal how-to guide for joining Joel’s Army.Both Bentley and Crowder are enormously popular on Elijah’s List, an online watering hole for a broad spectrum of Joel’s Army enlistees, from lightweight believers who merely share an affection for military rhetoric and pastors who dress in army camouflage (several Joel’s Army pastors are addressed by their congregants as “commandant” or “commander”) to hardliners who believe the church is called to have an active military role in end-times that have already begun. Elijah’s List currently has more than 125,000 subscribers on its electronic mailing list.

Rick Joyner, a pastor whose books, The Harvest and The Call, helped popularize Joel’s Army theology by selling more than a million copies each, goes the furthest on Elijah’s List in pushing the hardliner approach. In 2006, he posted a sermon called “The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church,” in which he claimed that a last-day army is now gathering and called believers “freedom fighters.”

“As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel’s Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces,” Joyner wrote. “In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

Joel’s Army began in the 1940’s, and was based on the preaching of Assembly of God pastor William Branham. The Assemblies of God has banned Joel’s army as a heretical cult and disavows all association with the movement.

All of this places the recent protest in the Castro in an entirely different light.

Civil Disobedience in San Francisco

Timothy Kincaid

November 17th, 2008


One of the notable attributes of the protests in response to Proposition 8 is that they have for the most part been peaceful. In all reports I have seen, the police worked with the community to minimize conflict and keep peace and the gay and gay-friendly protesters have not rioted or destroyed property.

There have been reports of some vandalism in Utah caused by a BB gun and someone sent some white powder to a couple Temples (harmless, it turned out); these incidents may be related to the Proposition 8 and the gay community. And a few folks have stepped over the line (sometimes literally) and been arrested. But otherwise, the nationwide protest has been peaceful.

Gay folk have, for the most part, stayed on the approved protest route, stayed off private property, and did what we were told. But during the protest on Saturday in San Francisco, one group decided to engage in an act of civil disobedience. A group of 15 protesters were arrested for closing a freeway offramp. (from CBS5)

The offramp from U.S. Highway 101 to Octavia Street in San Francisco was temporarily closed today and traffic in the area remained heavy at around 1 p.m. due to an anti-Proposition 8 march traveling down Market Street, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Octavia Street offramp from Highway 101 closed and a Sig-alert was issued at about 12:30 p.m., CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said.

“They’re kind of locking things up there for a little bit,” Van Eckhardt said.

Van Eckhardt said the intersection at the offramp was cleared, but traffic in the area remains heavy and drivers should avoid Market Street while the march continues. He added that police have arrested several protestors.

One of the participants who was arrested, Ryan, is a reader here at Box Turtle Bulletin. He explained that he is not your usual activist and has a fairly conservative job. But he felt strongly that the population at large was not recognizing how hurtful it was to have a fundamental right stripped from you and he was willing to make a sacrifice to raise visibility.

Some readers will no doubt feel that such acts of civil disobedience only give fuel to those who like to describe gay people as unlawful and a threat to society. Others will call for more disruption and higher visibility; as I heard recently, “If you can take away my fundamental rights, I can at least inconvenience your drive home”.

Ryan has poetically expressed his emotions and his reasons for taking part:

On Saturday, on a sunny day in San Francisco, 15 beautiful people were arrested for you, your neighbors, your friends, your family and the people you love. We did it for people you may not even know, we did it for people you may fear and we did it for people you may not understand. Most importantly, we did it for civil rights.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the nation on Saturday November 15th in a heartfelt cry for equality. We came from different backgrounds but all with heavy hearts. On November 4, 2008, Californians voted by a simple majority to amend the California Constitution to remove the fundamental right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

This led me, on Saturday, to walk into a room full of over 20 people from all races, creeds, socioeconomic backgrounds and beliefs. We came unified. We came with courage and conviction. We came with one goal — to orchestrate and support a direct act of civil disobedience in the name of civil rights.

I didn’t recognize all of our faces; some of us had never met. Others of us met tirelessly throughout the week to share our feelings, set our goals and plan our action. We found ourselves unified around human rights and we vowed that we would not be silent.

At first, I was there to support our action. I would not risk arrest. I was afraid and I’d never been arrested before. Yet, on that Saturday a spirit of tearful hope called me to overcome my paralyzing fear, uncertainty and grief. After pacing the room for what felt like an eternity, I tore my shirt off to don one with the message “Repeal Prop 8.” With that symbolic gesture I joined the “arrestables.” We were clergy, activists, lawyers, heterosexuals, queers and most importantly humans who love, live, feel and want a world where all persons are treated equally as they were created. We are you.

Together, with our wonderful supporters, we walked down a sidewalk toward a large group of police officers with batons standing in directly in our path. Together and afraid we walked proudly in front of those officers, linked arms and sat blocking the off ramp of a major highway in San Francisco, as cheering marchers passed us by. Despite our fears, with officers surrounding us and hundreds of cars bearing down upon our backs we sat in solidarity. For you.

We were warned to move. We were warned we would be arrested. Still we sat and then stood, with a banner in our hands that read “Human Rights Now — Repeal Prop 8.” We chanted for justice and for equality over the menacing message coming over the megaphone. One by one we were handcuffed and led into police vans. We sang songs of joy and hope on our way to the police station.

We hope that, if our action teaches anything, it is that we cannot and will not point fingers or target individual races, religions or persons. This movement is about all of us.

We were arrested for you on Saturday. Feel our hope, feel our unity, feel our love for each other and feel our love for you. Embrace our love, for we are you.

A video compilation of protest pictures can be seen here.

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