Never Forget This:

Remember when the New York Times ran “Portraits of Grief” – a series of profiles of those lost on 9/11? They didn’t cover every single person who perished, but these were published daily for months and later compiled in a book – 1,800 individual stories. It was hard to grasp the number of lives lost.

We are now losing a 9/11’s worth of lives every 2-3 days. Over 190,000 people in this country have died. If the New York Times were to profile one person each day, it would take – are you ready? – over 520 years. And that’s if COVID “magically went away” and didn’t claim another life after today.

Where are these people being honored other than @facesofcovid? At the very least, why aren’t U.S. flags flown at half-staff? Is it because they die in solitude and not on a clear day, live on television?

To those who aggressively wave their flags and yell “Never forget” as an angry cry for revenge – still calling for the blood of those responsible for the 9/11 attacks even though we got them long ago – let us never forget this:

Trump dismantled the Pandemic Response Team that was already in place.

He threw out the Pandemic Action Plan given to him by the previous administration.

He purposely downplayed the virus and lied to the American people.

He continues to put concern for the economy over the safety of the public.

He continues to put us all in danger by ridiculing those taking precautions for their own lives.

Other things to never forget:

Remember that he invited Taliban leaders to the White House while simultaneously withdrawing our troops from Iraq.

Remember that he still has not condemned Putin’s bounty on the heads of U.S. soldiers.

Remember that he refers to service people as “suckers and losers.”

These are just the highlights.

Never forget what this traitor has done – and continues to do – to us and to the country.

Fax You & The Horse You Rode In On

I just got back to the office after 5 months of working from home. Naturally there’s a pile of spam faxes that has wasted half a ream of paper. I take the time to unsubscribe from these because, in previous experiences, it actually seemed to work.

Roof
Most spam faxes have an “unsubscribe” phone number to call, but this particular one only had a website listed in tiny print. So I went to it….
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The website has a vintage GeoCities feel with a stock office photo containing a finely mixed interracial group of 10 imaginary co-workers here to assist you with your fax removal. Let’s not pretend that the reality isn’t some half-dressed schlub in a basement home office clouded with cigarette smoke.

Please note the repeated instruction to make sure that you are AUTHORIZED to unsubscribe from this fax list… because that’s a thing that happens, right? Unauthorized fax unsubscriptions are rampant and millions of co-workers nationwide are missing out on valued fax opportunities because of it.

Think of all those leaky roofs.

 

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I enter our fax number and pause over the button verifying that I have Proper Authorization to Unsubscribe Our Fax Number. Yes, I am authorized. But they had to ask again because… really… they got nothin’ else.

I am also reassured that there is No problem if I turn back now.

Should I be thinking harder about this decision?

I click Submit. And… BAM! A pro-Trump page pops up on my screen:

 
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Why am I surprised? Of course it’s Trump spam… because your Fox News-lovin’ Dad made this webpage on Angelfire. I had the sound muted on my computer but this page was probably auto-playing a midi file of God Bless The U.S.A.

This unanticipated assault took me by surprise though. And yet I scroll down further…. because I am a glutton for punishment.

BAM! Here’s another finger in your eye, snowflake!

 
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Note the vintage counter on the bottom that clocks me as sucker #342 who actually landed on this page. Not a whole lot of other unsubscribers out there, I guess.

What is with the “Like & Share” nonsense – as if this was pulled from Facebook? Didn’t Dad have his readers on when he cut and pasted this? Or is the advanced internet lingo just beyond his comprehension?

Perhaps I expect too much from a site brought to you by the people who send fax spam for a living. And – if you think about it – it makes perfect sense that a person with a fax spam company would be pro-Trump. They are upset that you do not want their faxes – the world is leaving them in the dust in more ways than one. So they are angry dinosaurs.

I would be surprised if Trump didn’t have a pro-fax platform. Just like his stance on coal – its another dying industry that he would only try to prop up if he was fossil-fueled by financial backing from fax machine manufacturers.

Some other ‘Murican MAGA supporters:

The Pager industry
Teletype Readers
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
North American Photo-Engravers Union
Castor Oil companies

They are all sending me fax spam right now.

 
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San Francisco In Touch (1979)

I recently posted two San Francisco-based articles from the September 1980 issue of Blueboy magazine – one by Armistead Maupin and another by Randy Shilts. I was ready to move back to the east coast when I came across a third article – written by Dan Turner for the Nov/Dec 1979 issue of In Touch Magazine. It seemed to work as a literary triptych with the other two articles. Also… it looked somewhat familiar….

The flipped version of the shot below accompanied the Armistead Maupin piece in Blueboy. And no, those are not nude sunbathers on the roof – it’s an overlapping photo.

SF Flipped Blueboy photo

The shot below was from the Nov/Dec In Touch Magazine article. Same guys, same clothes or lack thereof. Some people have shifted around a bit, so it was taken at a different time on the same day.

SF IT photoThrough internet magic, I did a little “Google map virtual walk” down Castro Street, which led me to the corner of 18th st. And there it is: the boys’ perch, 40 years later. The pharmacy is now a Walgreens:

495 Castro 18th st

I felt like I was slipping down the rabbit hole. Next stop: YouTube with a search of 1979 Castro Street Fair videos! Sure enough, there they were – captured in grainy home movie footage.

Theses guys were photographed more than the soldiers at Iwo Jima. Call it Gay-wo Jima.

Before I started to save videos and crop and edit and convert to gifs and blah blah blah, I took a step back from the edge. I felt that I had lost the plot at this point. Where were we? Oh yes.

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In Touch Magazine.

Nov/Dec 1979, Issue #44.

San Francisco: Ever Onward.

Written by Dan Turner.

Cover model / Centerfold: Todd Denson.

There is also a New York-centric piece in this issue that I will be posting soon. I wanted to complete this three-part series first.SF1

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SF3

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Dan TurnerThat last paragraph just hurts. How could anyone have known what the future held? In 1981, the author of this piece, Dan Turner was one of the first people diagnosed with AIDS. This was before it even had a name. He helped found the AIDS Foundation, People with AIDS and the AIDS Switchboard. He was the longest surviving person with AIDS when he passed in 1990 at age 42.

“…they are not just pretending to be the heroes they admired. They are becoming the heroes themselves.”

SF Map

Castro st2020

Revisiting Blueboy Magazine (1980)

Torso cover 1980

A recent post – the one featuring an essay written by Armistead Maupin for the September 1980 issue of Blueboy Magazine – was my most-viewed ever. This was thanks in part to links from Queerclick and KennethInThe212. I threatened to upload another article from the San Francisco-themed issue written by Randy Shilts: What If They Gave A Backlash And Nobody Came? Several people requested it, so here it is.

But first… a couple of other items of interest from this same issue:

 

Uncle CharliesGrace Jones

There used to be a whole lot of Uncle Charlies in New York City! None of those advertised above is the one that lasted longest: The Uncle Charlies bar on Greenwich Ave. in the West Village, which closed in 1997. And then there’s the one that has been on E. 45th st for 10 years now.

And Look! It’s an advertisement for Grace Jones’ fourth LP… her first good album!

2 tuns of fun

Record review: San Francisco’s very own Two Tons O’Fun. Izora Armstead and Martha Wash had been Sylvester’s backup singers. They soon changed their name to The Weather Girls when it started raining men… and the rest is history. Hallelujah!

 

 

 

PM Movies
10 time capsules from PM Productions. Check ’em out! They’re a hoot. And Christopher Street Blues has a zippy little theme song.

And now for our feature presentation. This article recounts several significant incidents where backlash against the San Francisco gay community was anticipated, but did not happen. It’s interesting to read Shilts’ account of what had been accomplished up to this point in time – with no idea that they were standing on the precipice of a health crisis that would decimate the community and undo so much of the work towards assimilation that he was highlighting.

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Randy Shilts Interviews Harvey Milk ca1977_8
Randy Shilts Interviews Harvey Milk (1977/78)

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Randy Shilts CRose 1993
Randy Shilts on The Charlie Rose Show (1993)

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Shilts Lily 1993
Randy Shilts with Lily Tomlin (1993)

Shilts would go on to write three books, all important documents of gay history: The Mayor of Castro Street – a Harvey Milk bio, And The Band Played On, which chronicled the early days of the AIDS epidemic and Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians In The Military. He died of AIDS complications in 1994.

Just imagine what he would have to say about the current administration. Or Mayor Pete. Picture him as a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow. His voice is sorely missed.

 

RIP Porn Star Turned Activist Terry DeCarlo

Terry DeCarlo was only 57 years old when he passed away earlier this week, yet he seemed to have lived multiple lives. His partner of 23 years, Bill Huelsman announced on Facebook that Terry had lost his battle with cancer on January 27th.

Terry DeCarlo with Pete Buttigieg in June, 2019

DeCarlo held many jobs over the years – his Instagram account lists Communications Manager of Broward County, Co-Hosting Out & About America and USAF Intelligence Officer in addition to his most prominent position as Executive Director of The LGBT+ Center in Orlando. DeCarlo became a national figure when the Pulse massacre occurred and led a grieving community through a tumultuous time.

He is seen here in an appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show:

All of his obits and online tributes – including this New York Times piece – have rightfully focused on his 20+ years of activist work in Florida, so it’s easy to forget that he first came to prominence as a porn star.

In the early 90’s DeCarlo was a fixture on the New York City gay nightlife scene, appearing regularly on the Robin Byrd Show to promote his adult films and ongoing residency at Show World strip club. One particularly memorable performance featured a giant live snake. (Insert python joke here)

Terry DeCarlo (center) with Dave Logan and Mark West on the box cover for Lunch Hour 2 (1992)
Lunch Hour 2 (1992)

He appeared in films alongside (although not necessarily in scenes with) porn legends Jon King, Joey Stefano, Karl Thomas and Mark West.

DeCarlo in Solid Intake (1993)
19 Good Men (1993)
DeCarlo (right) with Storm, Giovanni and Jason Lamont in 19 Good Men (1993)


A partial filmography:
Lunch Hour 2 (Catalina video 1992)
19 Good Men (Robert Prion, Bijou 1993)
Put It Where It Counts (Robert Prion, Bijou 1993)
What Men Do (Tenderloin, 1993)
Solid Intake (Robert Prion, Bijou 1993)
Leather 2 (Catalina video, 1994)
Forever Hold Your Piece (Catalina video, 1994)

Forever Hold Your Piece (1994)
Box cover with Jon King and Devyn Foster

After he retired from performing, DeCarlo moved to Florida and focused on his activist work. Besides those previously mentioned, he also worked at other organizations such are Care Resource and the Broward House, helping to ensure that health care, medication, shelter and basic needs were available for all. He was an integral part of the White Party, AIDS Walk Miami, Dining Out for Life, the Smart Ride and countless other fundraising events.

He dedicated his life to helping others and will not be forgotten. My heart goes out to his partner Bill and their Wilton Manors community.

My Fellow Americans…

What follows is the piece I read for Meditation On A Theme at the Gay & Lesbian Center in New York City on December 16, 2016. The theme was ‘My Fellow Americans…’ All of the pieces that night dealt with the election results. The response in the room was really enthusiastic – moreso than for anything else I had previously presented. I had every intention of posting it here, but procrastinated. Now, over a month later on Inauguration Day, I’m not sure if I am posting it too late. Or too soon. Maybe it’s the perfect day to do it. I don’t know. Here it is:

thisiI don’t even know what to say – in the end I thought I would get up here and just walk around shaking my head and doing different shrugs for 10 minutes. This is what I feel like I do all day since the election.

Honestly, I did not want to come here tonight. When I write for Meditation On A Theme, I immerse myself in the material and think about it 24/7, for better or for worse. That’s the only way I know how to get to the meat of the matter. I totally creeped myself out with the Kitty Genovese murder  I talked about last time I was here. I was afraid to walk alone at night in my neighborhood. Cuz, ya know, I’m such a delicate young thing.

But here we have a topic that is forcing me to face the very thing that I have been trying to avoid for the past 6 weeks. I’m one of those people who watches the morning news, the evening news, the 11 o’clock news and the rest of the time, if there is nothing good on TV, then I switch on MSNBC or CNN…  while I’m scrolling around the internet. That all changed on Election night when I turned off the TV around 11:00 pm. Things weren’t looking good and I just knew how this was going to end up. At 3:00 am I woke up and looked at my phone – there was a CNN headline on a black background that just said “President Trump.” And I put the phone down. And I couldn’t sleep. And I stayed off Facebook for a couple of days. I put the TV on an environmental music channel. Who knew Enya was still a thing? I didn’t want to hear any more talking about the election. Because with all this talking, we still ended up here. He won… No. He is perceived to have won. No amount of talking bobble head media analysis was going to change that. I just wanted everyone to just shut the fuck up. Well… now a little time has passed and I’ve eased back into it all a bit,  but still… coming here tonight to talk about it was not my idea of a good time.

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And then I thought I had the hook into the ‘My Fellow Americans..’ theme: Four years ago I was on a jury for a murder trial – 6 weeks I spent on that case. Both sides agreed that the guy committed the murder and that he had a history of mental illness… the debate was whether he was guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. Almost every juror started deliberations feeling as I did – that he was guilty. But one by one the jurors started getting coerced by these two jurors who muddled up the facts of the case and kept sharing their own personal experiences with schizophrenics, which was completely unethical. And there were jurors who were willing to compromise and vote for acquittal just to end the trial “for the victims of the family, who had suffered long enough.” But I don’t think any victim’s family would be happy with a not guilty verdict that was compromised just for closure…. and you start to question how these jurors who have seen the same thing you have seen and heard the testimony and saw the evidence and can turn around and completely say the exact opposite of the truth. Of what you KNOW is true. And you start to think: Something is not right here. What is going ON here? Is it me? And this year, as this election progressed, I would see these completely fake news stories and watch these fucking Trump spokespeople twist the truth… not even TWIST the truth but just out and out LIE about things that that asshat had said on LIVE television just minutes before. And then people on Facebook would either believe it…. or dismiss the whole thing. And I kept feeling like I was back in that jury room. And you start to wonder if you stepped into some bizarro world where common sense is out the window.

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But there was this one other person in the deliberation room… this one female juror – early 20’s, very quiet, very stylish. And as the numbers shifted from 10 for guilty and 2 not guilty and then it was 8-4, and then 5-7… and we’d catch each other’s eye, like… what the hell is going here? And we started sticking together for the sake of sanity, and looked to each other for strength and stuck to our guns and said… NO. This isn’t right. This is NOT right. It was just like 12 Angry Men, but in reverse.

And this is how I have felt watching all this – like that jury room was this microcosm – this cross section of society. We ended in a hung jury and then the following year, a different jury convicted the guy. But unfortunately, for all of us here and now, there is no hung presidential election. There is no do-over. We all just look at each other and shrug and shake our heads…

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So that was topic #1, and then I went back to the theme and thought about it. “We the people.” When I did go back to Facebook… MY Facebook, that is. See – that’s what you have to do – you have to make it your own. You control your settings – you control what you subject yourself to and what you don’t. You need to feel free to send people to the cornfield, as it were. Banish them to Bogeyland.

In recent years I reconnected with a lot people from my childhood and teen years. The number of Facebook friends I have from high school is much larger than the number of friends I actually HAD in high school. And when you are talking about music or TV or posting pics of your dinner or your pets or your pets’ dinner, it’s easy to think that everybody’s awesome and wonder… why weren’t we closer friends back then? Well… not anymore. Stupid stupid people who never got the HELL off Long Island and fell for this orange buffoon’s line of garbage and believe all that Breitbart bullshit and forward fake news all over the goddamn place. Unfollow unfollow unfriend unfriend block block BLOCK.

And this one dipshit was one of the people right after the election who posted that pic of Trump at the rally with the rainbow flag with LGBT FOR TRUMP scrawled on it (The flag was UPSIDE DOWN but neither Cheeto Voldemort nor his flunkies knew or cared. They just told him to hold it up for 20 seconds and the unwashed masses would eat it up. Sure enough, they fucking did.)

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So this former friend who I never really liked too much anyway is one of those whose voting obviously upset some gay person in his life.  He was re-posting that pic with the message “I voted for him, but we got your back. Nothing bad is going to happen to your rights.” And the problem right there is that… well, there are several problems, really. Really? You think you have power? ANY power over that? And you really think so little of the gay people in your life and your hatred of Hillary is so intense that you are willing to jeopardize MY rights? Or the reproductive rights of any female you know? Because it’s ultimately secondary to you. It’s not important enough for you. *Unfriend* Goodbye! To the cornfield with you!

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I don’t care about these people. Just let them go. Make your Facebook your own, because you have to stay present with what is going on. Fill your newsfeed with people who you want to converse with. Debate if you want. I’ll debate with likeminded people who have differences of opinion on how to handle this mess, but I’m through with calling this a level playing field for everyone anymore. As quickly as I make people go away, I find more reasonable people to associate with.

I have no time or interest in continuing to address people who say shit like “Now you know how I’ve felt for the past 8 years.” Really? You were scared for your safety? Was the legality of your marriage ever in jeopardy? Your healthcare? Your reproductive rights? What manufactured fear of your rights were you afraid for, which didn’t even happen? Everybody’s still got their guns that Obama was supposedly coming for. These people under the delusion of “Fox News thinking” believe that Obama was the worst president ever. They wouldn’t give him credit for the lowered gas prices, but you can bet they’d blame him if gas prices were sky-high. And DO you care about the environment AT ALL? Such nonsense.

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Maybe I’ve missed this but here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Wouldn’t you LOVE to see the stats on who just doesn’t bother to file taxes this year? What kind of example has been set? Just don’t pay your taxes! And what does it say to people when every single cabinet appointment is about nepotism and paying back a buddy who donated money and there are NO qualifications? What does that do to the psyche of Our Fellow Americans? The most experienced, qualified presidential candidate EVER has been bested by the most inept charlatan ever to run for the office. I still will not say he won. This election was stolen. Fuck them. It’s not my president, or yours. I have no respect for that office when the Republicans had no respect for it for the past 8 years.

If you voted for that windbag piece of shit, I’m sorry, but you’re out. It’s a waste of my time. So you make them go away. But we can’t just unplug from what’s going on. We have to pay attention.

I’m not just talking about Facebook – use whatever platform you want. When I say Facebook, more often than not I’m referring to links to opinion pieces on other sites. There have been plenty of times in the past few weeks when I didn’t know what to say, or I couldn’t find the words to express how I was feeling, and it was the words of other people that made me feel validated.

Right after the election John Oliver said you need to put this on a post-it. This is not normal. Put it on your fridge – read it every day. They are going to try to normalize his behavior. Don’t let them. Do not get to a place where this is “normal” to you. This is not. Normal. I see this every day and I post this often. I have a .jpg of a post-it that says This is not normal. And I keep it on my desktop and use it as commentary frequently.

this-is-not-normal

I know that it’s preaching to the choir but sometimes you HAVE to, for your own sake and theirs. Sometimes you have to raise your voice to remind yourself what it sounds like and to know that you still can.

So I have two mantras: This Is Not Normal. And the other is this: She won the popular vote. She. Won. When you can’t stand the thought of all that hate out there and feeling like a majority of the people voted for this clown, remember – she won the popular vote by 2.8 million. That’s higher than the population of 14 different states. We are the majority.

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“For the sake of our children and our families and our country, I ask you to stay engaged, stay engaged on every level. We need you. America needs you. Your energy, your ambition, your talent. That’s how we get through this. That’s how we help to make our contributions to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.” —Hillary