Monday, September 28, 2009

Lila Cante a new play by Mark Snyder

Next Friday a new show hits the scene in NYC by playwright Mark Snyder. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mark en vivo yet, but we know lots of the same cool cats, and he loves Minneapolis, so he is a neato keen groovy dude in my joy book. And as is my pleasure, I am very happy to share information about the works of kick ass artists keeping creativity alive.

Later this week, you will have the chance to read an interview of Mark done by yours truly for the good readers here at My Feet Only Walk Forward.

Do yourself a favor: support local artists. If you don't usually get out to see a show where the actors are actually in the room with you instead of on the screen in a far away place at some point in the past, try this one out. Why? Cuz it's what your Mama would want you to do.

LILA CANTE by Mark Snyder

LILA CANTE is a thrilling new play by emerging playwright Mark Snyder. Set during the turbulent era of file-sharing and torrent downloads, the play examines two siblings who, after their legendary mother's sudden death, must deal with her legacy and the demons that may plague each of them as they try to create in the shadow of a single rock album that changed the world. LILA CANTE is about music and art, connection and isolation, power and commerce, and the ever-changing landscape of what it means to be a family today.

LILA CANTE is being produced by At Hand Theater, a NYC non-profit company that produces original work using sustainable means (

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Efficacious HIV Vaccine Found!

Let the joyous news be spread the Red Ribbon Witch May One Day Be Dead!

Even though the study found that the vaccine only reduces the risk by 31% (which is way fucking better than 0%).
Even though the study was only done in Thailand with the strain of HIV most prevalent in Asia.
Even though the U.S. Army was the main funder of the vaccine trial.

I am still tickled red by this news.

Never before has any HIV vaccine been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of the infection. But some brilliant doctor in Thailand combined two previously ineffective vaccines and came up with a vaccine that, in fact, prevented, completely, HIV infection in a number of patients. It works. Dear God it works.

Now, before anyone starts screaming cure, the truth remains that it doesn't always work. As a matter of fact, 32% reduction in transmission still means 69% transmission. But before every single vaccine that came along was like a shot in the genetic viral RNA dark. Now there is something to build upon. It will take years before any vaccine is perfected, and there is still the question of whether or not it will be effective against the strains prevalent in Africa or the one in North and South America, but this discovery, ladies and gentlemen, has just won someone a Noble Prize (don't EVEN doubt it) and will, one day, be hailed with the vaccines for Small Pox, Polio, and most likely the discovery of penicillin.

And let's not minimize the importance of this for the region even if it turns out the vaccine is not effective against the African and American strains of the virus. HIV infection rates are through the roof in India and in China, the world's two most populous nations. Stopping the tide of HIV infection rates or lowering them significantly in those two nations will, intrinsically, reduce the overall infection rates across the region. Since most research shows that super infections are not only rare but most likely improbably, as the stronger of two strains tends to crowd out the other strain, it means that, perhaps, we can cut off the HIV explosion in Asia, which, almost uniformly, is developing with less than stellar health care and high rates of AIDS mortality.

I am excited.

Now, don't get me wrong, though I play a blond on TV, I actually have a decent grasp of the basics of scientific research. I moonlight, what can I say. I understand that the experiment has to be replicated. I understand that there needs to be further study and refining. I understand that if the pharmaceutical companies get their hands on this it is going to be priced out of the reach of the poor of Asia.. I understand the U.S. Army doesn't do shit squat number one out of the goodness of its heart. There is something related to biological warfare or may I turn into a fucking Power Ranger over night. I understand that this could be as good as it gets.

But what if it isn't?

A vaccine is not a cure. Lord knows I know that. There has to be continued studied for folks like me to be free of the disease that already have it. But for the vast majority of the people in the world that never need to get it, for the rape victims in Africa and the US prison system, for the AIDS babies and the transgender sex workers, this could mean the difference between life and slow death.

So do not begrudge me my joy. I understand the limitations and boundaries of that joy, but hope breeds faith, and faith has been known to change the world if we let it.

For more information on the discovery turn on the goddamn television set or click this link.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sarah Palin Goes to China and Gets Dumber

Lord have mercy somebody PLEASE take away Sarah Palin's passport. The snow heifer will not miss it considering she didn't even have one until 2007. Let her continue to stare at some barren Russian islands out of her foyer window and create soccer Mom foreign policy while fingering wild Alaskan salmon.

Good grief.

So, Sarah Palin aka The Woman That Made Tina Fey A Saint, was in Hong Kong giving a speech to a group of investors and bankers. Hello? Has anyone checked out the economy in Alaska. It's in the shitters. That would be like CapitalOne paying me to give credit card advice to shopaholics. The only outcome would be that I would make a fool out of myself and the people in the audience would have instant garnishments levied against them.

I mean, come on. There has to be some sort of law on the books that says the Village Idiot is not allowed to leave the country unsupervised! I am going to write my legislators and ask them to install one of those microchips that they implant in domestic pets. It is in the best interest of U.S. National Security that we know where Sarah Palin is at all times.

Right next to the red phone and the "button" in the White House, Obama should have a remote control that allows him to activate the microchip in Palin's neck and taser her via satellite any place on planet Earth. If they put THAT into the Patriot Act, I would vote for it myself. Habeas Corpus be damned!

I mean, there are laws against severely mentally ill people making decisions for themselves. And if Palin believes that she has a snow balls chance in Paris Hilton's pussy of being President of the United States, then that is evidence enough for any court in the land to judge her mentally unfit to make her own decisions. She should be put under house arrest in a gulag in Siberia and made to watch her interview with Katie Couric on repeat until she expires from an overdose of her own stupidity.

And since she couldn't convince the majority of Americans that Obama is to blame for the collapse of Wall Street and the financial crisis, she thought she would try and convince the Chinese. Of course, they can't vote, and the Chinese basically invented the calendar, and since Lehmann Brothers collapsed in September 2008 and Obama took office in January 2009, it doesn't take a whiz on an abacus to determine that the meltdown happened during the Bush administration.

Forget a Spin Doctor, she needs a brain surgeon. Lobotomies all around!

The best thing that Sarah Palin ever did was let her daughter get knocked up my Levi Johnston. The kid is dumb as shit and about half a swastika away from being a member of the Michigan Militia, but he is hot as fuck and his shirtless pictures almost make up for his almost-mother-in-laws political career and complete embarrassment of the United States on the world stage.

You know you are basically a rat bastard when Kim Jong Il is more likely to get elected to the White House than you are. Mrs. Palin, have you thought about a career as a North Korean Dictator?

In the end, I look forward to more public appearances by Sarah Palin. And I pray to God Almighty that she runs for the presidency in 2012 just for Saturday Night Live bonanza that will entail.

God Bless Tina Fey.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Limerick from a Reader

Today, I received my first limerick from a fan ;-). Well, she is also a friend and a person that I think is so hilarious that I pee myself every time I read something she tweets. As a matter of fact, she is a former One Liner of the Week Award winner and a very pithy mother of two.

I opened my Twitter account today and discovered a gift that brought out a broad smile and my crazy clown laughter. Thank you Vikki (find her at! Next time I am in Minneapolis, it's all about gin and tonics on the veranda (or if it's Winter, it'll be gin and tonics in long underwear and a parka in front of the boiler).

Here's Vikki's limerick:

There once was a guy named Brandon
who wrote with wanton abandon
he was funny and gay
and brightened the day
of all who were part of his fandom.

Vikki ROCKS. Thanks love.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

People with Disabilities are PEOPLE

I had heard horror stories in the news about West Indian nurses and caretakers that take on jobs looking after people with mental and physical disabilities. I chalked up the stories to racism, xenophobia, and generalizations. While I will not play the game of generalizing the behavior of one person out to the an entire group of people, today I came face to face with a black West Indian woman that I wanted to grind into the ground.

I am no saint. God in Heaven knows I have made fucked up jokes about people with disabilities. I have laughed at times when I knew laughing was wrong and in fact reinforced ableism. I knew full well what I did participating in those moments was no less wrong and evil than when white folks tell nigger jokes amongst themselves or make comments about spics and gooks when they think no one from those communities are listening or watching. There is no excuse for it. I live with a permanent disability, so I should know better, but my disability is invisible, so I don't have to outwardly carry the burden of it on a day to day basis. I commit myself today to being a better person and intervening in those moments and spaces when ableism is brought to play.

Today, I participated as a volunteer with the Oxfam Human Countdown in Central Park. Members of the community were gathered to take part in a mass action around global warming. More than 2,000 people showed up today to form the shape of the Earth inside of a giant hour glass. In a choreographed moment the Earth trickled through the hour glass like grains of sand and settled in the bottom to spell the words TCK TCK TCK. I was in the park for more than eight hours and for most of that time I was amazed at the people that took so much time out of their day to participate. Check your local news listings and the Internet, there were participants and media from around the globe present.

There was one moment when I noticed a woman with a disability in the wheel chair being brought down the ramp. She was being pushed by her caretaker. The sun was brilliant and hot. More than one person had asked to sit in the shade or for sunscreen. But this woman in the wheel chair, Carol, wanted to be in the sun. She wanted to participate in the event. Her caretaker did not.

Her caretaker, from the moment she arrived, complained loudly to anyone that would hear that she had no interest in being in the sun. She could care less what Carol wanted. Her caretaker bitched and moaned and hollered finally leaving Carol in the sun to go and sit some 100 to 200 yards away where she continued her bitching to anyone that would listen.

So I decided to talk to Carol. Turns out that though Carol's body was not under her control (I was to find out later that she is fighting a disease that is hardening all her bones and joints), Carol's mind was sharp and her eyes were bright. She introduced herself to me with difficulty. I shook her hand, and she started to cry. I asked her if she needed anything, and she said no, just to sit in the sun and that she wanted to participate. I asked her if she wanted me to get her caretaker, and to that she had an emphatic no.

Her caretaker ultimately returned and at one point, as Carol attempted to move herself slightly closer to the area where the performers were practicing the moves for the event, her caretaker smiled at us, the volunteers, and laughed at Carol's attempts to participate on her own.

I wanted to harm that able bodied black woman. Even after I spoke with her and found out that she is a recent breast cancer survivor and had a legitimate reason to want to rest, I still wanted to scream at her. Her job was her job and she spent all of her time complaining. She had just beaten a horrible disease but the woman she was being paid to caretake was going to, eventually, die from hers. All Carol wanted was to be a part of the group. She cared about Global Warming. SHE CAME TO THE EVENT TO PARTICIPATE, and yet her paid caretaker could do nothing but moan.

So I spoke to her. Calmly and gently. I said that I could see clearly that Carol was going to be heart broken if she had to leave. We, as volunteers, could not take her into the crowd as there was no liability insurance for us. I explained that. I also explained that if the caretaker was not going to help Carol participate then she was going to have to remove her from the walkway, as it was not going to be safe for Carol there with thousands of people moving back and forth around her. The caretaker continued to try and make excuses, and I was kind but firm.

Indeed a participant standing by said that I was very compassionate and very skilled in dealing with the woman. If she knew how angry I was or if she could have read my thoughts, she would have been less inclined to praise my calmness. The only reason I didn't scream at the caretaker was that I was unsure of how it would affect Carol.

I walked away from the caretaker and brought Carol a cup of water. She thanked me, and I thanked her for being there. She smiled and shook my hand again.

In the end kindness won.

Not only did the caretaker take Carol out into the performance piece, she stayed there with her until almost the very end (which means that Carol was filmed by no less than nine different media outlets as part of the event).

I am so not a perfect person. I have done some fucked up shit in my life. But this was one of those obvious moments. This was not a morally grey situation. This was one where the right and just thing to do was to be legs for the woman that could not walk. It was right to help her participate in something she could not do for herself. God help me for judging the caretaker, as I know what it is like to be judged and judged harshly. But today I failed at being greater than my shortcomings. I judged and I judged hard.

But I can only hope that her reason, in the end, for taking Carol out in the crowd was that no one around her, none of the other volunteers or the people with whom she was attempting to bond, were willing to laugh at her inappropriateness or keep silent when they saw that a person with a disability was being treated poorly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Risk and Death

One year ago today, I lost my cousin to leukemia. In less than three months, my little sister will be shipped back to Iraq for her fourth tour of duty. Last spring, I lost a friend and mentor, Mona Harris, to cancer. My little brother recently returned from Afghanistan, and with that war showing no signs of ending, it is almost a surety that he will also be sent back into harms way.

I am sick and tired of death and the risk of death.

At the age of 32, I should rarely have to think of death. If I do, it should come in the form of elders that have lived long and fulfilled lives, individuals that die surrounded by the people that love them knowing that they are loved.

How fucking naive is that statement.

Unfortunately, I know that because I am not white and most of the people around me are not white, they will die younger than they should. I know because I have had one family member die from cancer that now it is more likely that others will also pass along.

And then there is war.

When a country enters into a war it enters into a compact with death. It promises to the Reaper the certainty of soul collection in order to achieve some goal. Some wars are fought because they must be fought. Though the impetus for the United States to enter the Second World War had little to do with justice and everything to do with empire, entering World War II was just. Hitler was an evil man with evil ambitions that caused great and destructive harm.

No war since then that has been fought by the United States has been right or just, they have simply been the United States trying to protect or enforce a particular corporatized political ideology or protect our own selfish and self-destructive political and economic interests.

The rest of the world and the families that sacrifice their children on the altar of false patriotism be damned.

The death of my cousin and Mrs. Harris and the risk of death of my little brother and sister are connected.

We spend BILLIONS of dollars each month on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forget Korea, forget Vietnam, forget the silent invasions of Grenada, Panama, Somalia and the first Gulf War. Just calculate the amount of money that we have spent in the last six years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now imagine if even ten percent of that money had been spent on cancer research and treatment.

My cousin almost survived leukemia.

He had an experimental bone marrow transplant, and for months the doctors at the University of Illinois-Chicago were calling him the miracle guy. Except the cancer came back and took him down quickly.

Afterwards they examined the data and thought perhaps they had done the transplant to soon, too quickly, they hadn't given his own immune system enough time to resist the cancerous blood cells. What if they had been granted a billion dollars to do their research? One billion dollars is LESS than we spend on war in one month. YET imagine what it would mean to research labs across the country. A year ago, perhaps the researchers would have known what they WILL know five years from now. If only they had the staff, equipment, lab space, and materials to move forward. If ONLY Bush hadn't restricted stem cell research during his eight years in office. If only we cared more about preserving life than we did about preserving the bottom line of corporations and shareholder profits.

If only.

But we don't. Instead, I am sitting here nearly a year after my cousin's death. I am remembering that I couldn't afford to fly from California to Minnesota to be with my family. To this day the guilt of that sits in my stomach. I saw my Aunt in June for the first time since my cousins death. All I could think of was that I was my cousin's closest family member outside of his Mom, Dad, and two brothers. I WAS the cousin that made sure to see him when he was in the hospital. I was the cousin that his wife loved. I was the cousin that went to see him when he got back from Korea. I was his friend.

And there is a good chance that if we spent more on life than on death that he would still be alive today, and I would still get to see him at family reunions and on holidays. I would have gotten to be at his wedding, and I would, perhaps, be with him right now.

Instead I am wondering how his nephew, the son of his twin brother, will ever know how amazing his uncle was. Instead, I wonder if my Aunty Susie, a woman that treated me like one of her own children, a woman that I love and look up to, a woman that understood me when I didn't really understand myself...I wonder if she will ever be the same aunty that I have known and loved my entire life.

And all because of a stupid disease that we could cure, except that we are too busy spending our money on war. And I am too busy worrying if I am going to lose my brother and sister too soon as well.

One Liner of the Week Award: Renee Humphries

Lo and behold! There were many moons between the previous One Liner of the Week Award (given to the brilliant Yuval Sheer) and the one previous to that. Perhaps levity had suffered its own Mercury in retrograde, perhaps the ban on travel to Cuba had been extended, secretly, to smart-assery. It is one of the great mysteries of the the origin of life and the purpose of bologna.

Yet, a wonder of wonders has occurred, Renee Humphries has dazzled mine funny bone with her quip yestereve.

We were having a lively Perez Hilton bashing session. After a particularly vibrant slam down of Perez by yours truly, dearest Renee expressed her appreciation saying,

"Brandon, you make my day almost daily. I just adore you."

That was very sweet of her. Then she continued,

"Too bad you're up in the trees with the fruit and not down here in the pond with the fishes."

Oh. My. God.

And that, my dears is how you win the One Liner of the Week Award. Congratulations Lady Humphries.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tell The Damn Truth

I am not sure if you all have noticed, but the Republicans are doing every damn thing they can possibly do, short of drawing a pentagram in virgin blood and opening the Hell-Mouth, to stop health care reform from happening.

Joe Wilson of South Carolina is a member of the Sons of Confederacy, tried like Hell to keep the Confederate Flag flying on TOP of the South Carolina State Capitol building, and his sons are all shocked and awed because Jimmy Carter told the damn truth and said that Rep. Wilson is a racist sommamabitch.

John Boehner, House Republic leader, perpetually lives with his head up his ass and hasn't come up with one viable or original piece of legislation since Big Daddy Bush left office. He basically spends his time jacking off on the hopper whenever a Democrat executes the duties of his office and proposes legislation. Hooked on phonics didn't work for him. I am not even sure the man can read English, though I am sure he has portions of Mein Kempf set to memory.

Sarah Palin is off somewhere in the wilds of Alaska plotting her next round of public crazy.

Dennis Kucinich voted AGAINST censuring crazy ass Joe Wilson's YOU LIE outburst at the joint session of Congress. What the HELL has he been smoking in Ohio. I know the man is about as Green as a Democrat can get, but he needs to lay off that Humboldt County shit while Congress is in session.

Serena Williams lost her damn mind at the U.S. Open, cussed out a line ref and then half-assed apologized for it (in her defense, it was a shitty call, but she didn't have to go all ape shit booga booga over it...she still walked away with $350,000).

And don't EVEN get me started on Kanye West's crazy ass. OBVIOUSLY, he and Dennis Kucinich were hanging out mainlining Draino or something cuz his Prime Time Ass Showing Extravaganza at the VMA's was a historic low in Black History.

And lord I am trying to be a saint today, but I just heard that Perez Hilton is producing a music tour and is launching his own label...what's it going to be called? Here's a title suggestion, "I'm A Fat Disgusting Ignorant No Talent White Boy Wanna Be With Bad Hair and Horse Teeth Records."

This here country has me so riled up that I am announcing the launch of my own damn weekly VBlog called Brandon Tells The Damn Truth.

Every Friday, I will be releasing a 20 minute or so video show via our friends at YouTube where I review the news of the week, active the Bullshit-o-meter and tell you the damn truth behind the headlines.

Watch out America...I am like Opera but broke and Wendy Williams with class....this is going to be some live shit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interview with Two Sexy Beasts: April Donato and Sam Lawrence

If you have spent any time on my blog, you know quite well that I love sex. I have spent years working to understand my own sexuality and my desires, and how those two things interact with and are acted upon by socialization, history, queerness, religion, and gender. I believe that a human being has the capability to love more than one person at the same time, I believe that having sex with someone that is not your partner does not take away from your relationship, and I have struggled to align my beliefs with the overwhelming feelings of jealousy and fear that have surfaced when I have tried to buck my socialization and live life according to my own mores. I have led workshops and training sessions on the realities, complications, and joys of living a non-monogamous/polyamorous life.

In the end, I believe that people enter my life for a reason, and I want to be free to know, understand, and explore those reasons without having to fit myself into a social convention framework that dictates my possibilities and the limits of my connection with another human being. I have a partner that I love, but I don't own him nor does he own me. If our capacity to love outpaces our ability to quantify that capacity, then perhaps setting up artificial boundaries on love's capabilities is not only a disservice to oneself perhaps it is a non-dogmatic blasphemy. If one chooses monogamy because that is the right path for an individual that has thought carefully about it and made a choice based on his or her own feelings and beliefs, I can stand behind it. If one is monogamous because God, the Koran, Billy Graham, or his Sunday School teacher told him that is what he must be, then I heartily reject it and encourage that he make choices for himself instead of following outdated conventions by rote. You are your best and greatest moral compass. If your choice harms no one, celebrates life, and creates peace with you, then that is a better guide for decision making than a celibate priest or a book written two millennium ago.

I am not anti-religious or anti-faith. Quite the contrary. But, I also happen to believe that The Ethical Slut, one of the leading discourses on non-monogamy and polyamory, should be added right after Genesis in the Bible.

A few months back, April Donato contacted me on Twitter to let me know about a new social networking site that she was working to set up that celebrates sexuality and sexual openness. She invited me to check out a magical place where queer folks and straight folks, kinky folks and vanilla folks, trannies and bio kids of all shapes, sizes, sexualities and distinctions could build an intentional community where sex is an integrated and healthy part of the connections between human beings. That magical word is the Blackbox Republic.

I joined the site as a Founding Member, and I am proud to support its work and mission. I asked Sam, another co-founder, and April if they would be willing to do an interview for My Feet Only Walk Forward. They gladly agreed.

I encourage you all to check out Blackbox Republic. When it goes live, I encourage you to join up. The interview follows.

Interview with Two Sexy Beasts: April Donato and Sam Lawrence

Sam and to me a wee bit about how you two came to know each other/work together?

Sam and April: We peripherally knew each other when we both had totally different lives. Sam was an exec at a software company, I owned a boutique and we shared some social circles. Everything really came together at Burning Man 2008. That's when we came up with the idea for Blackbox Republic.

April, you write a sex positive blog that I love love love. Talk to me about your experience as a sex positive a world that still believes that a woman that owns and controls her sexuality is a slut (with a pejorative meaning) do you own your sexuality and put the positivity into a framework that says powerful, sex positive, brilliant women are here and need no stamp of approval or to make any apologies.

April: I make no apologies for who I am. Everyday is an intersection, everyday is a choice. Probably like everyone, there are some days I feel sleek, a bit sexier, and spunky. I have assertive, submissive and kid-like days. I guess I never got the memo that women can't have the power to control their own lives--emotional lives, spiritual lives and sex lives. I'm inspired by other women that strut their stuff and own who they are. There's nothing more attractive than that.

Tell me a little bit about how BlackBox Republic came to does this jive with the way you move through the world?

Sam: April and I looked around and realized how sexpositive people are hard to find. I mean, could there be more fake profiles on the Internet? Between dating sites, hookup sites, and the harsh public spotlight of social networks, our personal lives are stifled. Even with all those profiles, we're still in neutral. We just want the freedom to be ourselves, whatever that is right now, and with other people who are real. That's not something you can do on eHarmony, Facebook, or Twitter. 140 characters, a photo album and a chemistry test won't get you there. The journey is just not that simple. We need a different melting pot. A label-free place to be the real you. Social networking revolutionized lives for millions. And that revolution has remixed dating, love and sex life. And the next generation of sexpositive people has emerged. Blackbox Republic is a place to let go. No matter where we are or what we're doing, we can instantly discover what we need today. Whether it be sex, dates, friends or a hot party. This is our scene and it grows with us. Sure. Sex will happen. It matters how you get there.

What is the mission of is it different from every other hook up site out there in the world? How do you hope that BlackBox will change the fundamental dialogue that is available via the Internet about sex, love, friendship and how those things intersects.

April and Sam: Blackbox Republic is a new kind of online community that fuses dating, sex, and friends so that sexpositive people can get whatever they want whenever they want.

Let's talk about sex positivity in a time/world/place where HIV/AIDS is still very real and very present. And let's frame this a world where sex positivity is looked on as dangerous promiscuity and HIV+ people are desexualized and sexually shunned in many circles, how does BlackBox Republic challenged those frameworks?

April and Sam: The big thing that Blackbox Republic does is bring people together who may not have mixed before. It unites people and phases of their personal life into a single home. From couples, multiples, singles, LGBT, straight, kink, poly, swinger, HIV/AIDS positive-- all these people will find a home. This new melting pot will reframe many things for many people and provide a dialog for these very things. Opening up the lines of communication between us, is the biggest thing we can do.

If a person wants to find out more about BlackBox Republic and your work, how can they best do that?

April and Sam: They should visit We will be open for business in just a couple of months. In the meantime, they can add their name to the long list of people excited to get started. :)

Thank you Sam and April for doing this work and creating a sex positive place on the web for folks that are looking to make multi-layered connections with their fellow wo(men).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Human Countdown: A Climate Wake Up Call

Julio Dantes is a fierce activist that I have known for more than a decade. We met as student organizers when he was a staff member at the United States Student Association, and I was elected to it's Executive Board of Directors and as co-chair of the National Queer Student Coalition (which, contrary to the claims of my friends at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is actually the oldest national LGBT rights organization in the United States). Since 1997, our lives and paths have intersected in the best and most interesting ways.

This important event in Central Park needs YOUR help. Already roughly 1.000 people have signed up to participate next Sunday, but we need 1,500 more to make this a true success. If you are in New York or will be in New York on September 20th, come out, join us, and let's demonstrate to President Obama and the world that the United States is ready to share in the responsibility for reversing climate change...before it's too late.

The HUMAN COUNTDOWN: A Climate Wake Up Call

On Sunday September 20, people of all walks of life will come together in New York’s Central Park for a bold creative action to tell world leaders that the TIME TO ACT is RUNNING OUT.

More than 2,000 people will form a moving human sculpture of our world in a race against time – a massive, living Earth and Hourglass to be picked up by the media worldwide.

Our unique call to action occurs as world leaders, including President Obama, prepare to attend the UN climate summit in New York. Our Human Countdown will urgently call for a fair, ambitious, and binding new climate treaty, and launch global actions for the Tck Tck Tck Global Climate Wake Up Call and Climate Week NYC.

We will assemble in two groups. The first group forms the living Earth and convenes at 9am in the morning to rehearse the movements. All others come at 1pm to form the Hourglass. We will perform the Human Countdown together at mid-afternoon, hear from notable national and international speakers, and conclude by 4pm.

We need a global climate treaty. This is the time, this is the place to make history – we need YOU to join the HUMAN Countdown!


Climate change is happening right now. While least responsible for causing climate change, the world’s poorest bear the brunt of the impacts. It is imperative that world leaders agree on a global climate deal that is fair, ambitious and binding in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

The Human Countdown is the flagship event kick starting the Climate Wake Up Call, a series of coordinated events happening around the world.

Organized by a broad global coalition fighting climate change as part of the TckTckTck Campaign, it will frame events during Climate Week New York City.

More Information:

Oxfam America Climate Change Campaign:Campaign information and updates.
Climate Week NYC: The Calendar of Events and background about the week.
Tck Tck Campaign: Information on key issues and the road to Copenhagen.

Questions? Contact Júlio

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ganymede #5

There is a hot new queer literary journal that has been getting the best reviews and has published some of the top names in art and literature from the gay world.

I have the honor of having a poem that has been accepted for issue #6. My poetry was also published, recently, in Ganymede Poetry Anthology One.

Below is a release for Ganymede Issue #5, now available. Watch for issue #6 in January.

Our biggest ever--a whopping 344 pages!
Gay men¹s lit/art print quarterly published quarterly in New York
as a paperback book.

Table of contents and readable sample pages:
Purchase (print or download) at

--EDMUND WHITE on writing gay
--OSCAR WILDE's delicious 1889 dialogue on art, ³The Decay of Lying²
--GLENWAY WESCOTT's rare 1928 story of a little boy going to a ball in drag
--BERGDORF BOYS by Scott Hess: first of four parts serializing a complete
novel, both witty and dark, about gay party boys in New York
--TEN gay poets in 36 pages--the finest survey of gay poetry in print today
--EIGHT cutting-edge gay visual artists from around the world
--SUSAN GLASPELL's 1917 story ³A Jury of Her Peers,² now a discovered text
in feminist lit
--INDIE EYE returns with tips on obscure movies to rent, including the first
gay Bollywood flick!
--The Paris of Our Dreams: the 19th-century transformation of Paris
coincided with the birth of photography, and the rise of archival
photographers who snapped parts of the city either rising or falling. Our
portfolio shows these precious images.

"When I pulled Ganymede #5 out of its box, I held a spine nearly an inch
thick, healthy for an annual but unheard-of for a quarterly. And when I
reached the end of its 344 pages, my head was spinning. Nothing remotely
like Ganymede has been seen in the gay community in my lifetime. After
crucial essays by Edmund White and Oscar Wilde, each section, presented with
style and snap, leads you deep into gay male experiences of genuine interest
and pungency. Ganymede has already been praised for its textual importance
and visual splendor, but with this issue, it rises to real historic
grandeur. No literate gay man can afford to miss it."
--Erik Mitchell in

"Ganymede is gaining momentum and is definitely a journal to watch."
--CHROMA, Britain's top gay lit/art journal

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Moment of Silence for 9/11

I am copying and pasting here a post that I got from my friend Emanuel Ortiz on Facebook. I met Emanuel 12 years ago when I transferred to the University of Minnesota. He was the first person to invite me to read my spoken word in public, at the release of his first chapbook back in 2002 or 2003.

The poem that you find below was written seven years ago on the 1st anniversary of 9/11. I was there the first time it was read in public. It says everything that I need to say and communicates everything I feel about that tragic day, it's meaning, and it's limitations. Emanuel captures it perfectly. Much love to you Manny. May we continue to walk together down this long road for another decade.

Dear friends and fam-
On this, the 8th anniversary of what we commonly call "9/11", many of us are reflecting back on that day, and the days proceeding the incidents of that day. I hope that we can also reflect upon the days (years, decades) that led up to 9/11. I hope that we, as a nation, as a people, as a planet, are learning lessons from what has happens and continues to happen.

As usually happens at this time of year, I've been getting a number of notes and requests regarding a poem I wrote and released on the 1st anniversary of 9/11, which over the years has certainly made its rounds on the internet & taken on a life of its own (most recently, I have received e-mails from India and Bangladesh seeking permission to translate the poem, just in the past month). I continue to be humbled and amazed at the life of this poem, and at the same time, I cannot help but acknowledge that perhaps it speaks to a sentiment many of us around the world feel, but don't have the voice to say (or, perhaps more accurately, the audience to be heard). I think the attention the poem has received speaks far more to the significance of its message, the experiences and sentiments of the world's marginalized majority, especially in the wake of the U.S. governemnet's responses to 9/11, than it does to this writer's skills.

Given the requests I have gotten, I have decided to post the poem here, on this date - a date the gov't has tried to put a ridiculously insulting spin on by calling it "Patriots' Day" - as food for thought, a call for reflection that shakes loose the political & historical amnesia of an imperialist, racist agenda. I might add that a change in administrations in the U.S. has not changed much on the global front - we still pursue wars of occupation and domination. We still target, attack & discriminate against "Illegal" immigrants - even in the effort to push for health care reform! We continue to operate as an Empire.
Therefore, this poem, this message (and many others like it,***** will remain relevant.
I hope something in this poem touches you, moves you, changes you. Please feel free to share it.
And for you "patriots" out there, spare me the hate mail, I've heard it all before.

In struggle,
Emmanuel Ortiz

(PLEASE see Suheir Hammad's "First Writing Since - and Arundhati Roy's speech "Come September" - for shining examples of brilliant exampls of poetry and speeches in the wake of 9/11 that give voice to resistance, struggle, affirmation...)
*also, see this - the poem put to dance/percussion by Restless Natives, performed in front of the US Capitol Building:

A Moment of Silence
by Emmanuel Ortiz

Before I begin this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.

I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the U.S., and throughout the world.

And if I could just add one more thing…

A full day of silence… for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence… for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 12-year U.S. embargo against the country.

…And now, the drums of war beat again.

Before I begin this poem, two months of silence… for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where “homeland security” made them aliens in their own country

Nine months of silence… for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence… for the millions of dead in Viet Nam - a people, not a war - for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives bones buried in it, their babies born of it.

Two months of silence… for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,
Seven days of silence… for El Salvador
A day of silence… for Nicaragua
Five days of silence… for the Guatemaltecos
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence… for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas…

1,933 miles of silence… for every desperate body

That burns in the desert sun

Drowned in swollen rivers at the pearly gates to the Empire’s underbelly,

A gaping wound sutured shut by razor wire and corrugated steel.

25 years of silence… for the millions of Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
For those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees

In the south… the north… the east… the west…
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.

100 years of silence… for the hundreds of millions of indigenous people

From this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness…

From somewhere within the pillars of power

You open your mouths to invoke a moment of our silence
And we are all left speechless,
Our tongues snatched from our mouths,
Our eyes stapled shut.

A moment of silence,
And the poets are laid to rest,
The drums disintegrate into dust.

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence…
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.

Not like it always has been.

…Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,

It is a 9/9 poem,

A 9/8 poem,

A 9/7 poem…

This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then

This is a September 11th 1973 poem for Chile.

This is a September 12th 1977 poem for Steven Biko in South Africa.

This is a September 13th 1971 poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York.

This is a September 14th 1992 poem for the people of Somalia.

This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground amidst the ashes of amnesia.

This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told,

The 110 stories that history uprooted from its textbooks

The 110 stories that that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.

This is a poem for interrupting this program.

This is not a peace poem,

Not a poem for forgiveness.

This is a justice poem,

A poem for never forgetting.

This is a poem to remind us

That all that glitters

Might just be broken glass.

And still you want a moment of silence for the dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:

The unmarked graves,
The lost languages,
The uprooted trees and histories,
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children…

Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

So if you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships

Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights
Delete the e-mails and instant messages
Derail the trains, ground the planes
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell

And pay the workers for wages lost
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July,
During Dayton’s 13 hour sale,
The next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful brown people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Before this poem begins.

Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
Take it all.
But don’t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.

And we,

We will keep right on singing
For our dead.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

By The Power of Greyskull

Since I can remember I have been fascinated by all things Nerdtastic. My favorite cartoons as a child were those that dealt with the fantastic: He-Man and She-Ra, Scooby Doo, Thunder Cats, Super Friends, the Smurfs. Anything that had to do with magic was enough to make me sit up and pay attention. When I first saw Jim Henson's masterpiece, The Dark Crystal, I wanted to be a Gelfling (a girl Gelfling...they were cooler...they had wings). I wanted to ride on a Strider and fight the Skeksis. When I saw the Labyrinth, I wanted David Bowie to win. I was the Sorceress in He-Man, I used magic to fight Bamvmorda in Willow (CLIMANE! LUNANAR!)...simply put from Dungeons and Dragons to Magic the Gathering, I have been fascinated by fantasy.

In the 7th Grade I found a book underneath my desk called Spellfire by Ed Greenwood. The year before I had read the Hobbit for the first time, but Spellfire introduced me to the modern fantasy genre. From that day to this I have been hooked on speculative fiction. Though my tastes have matured from TSR's Dragonlance novels, I am happiest when I am lost in Jacqueline Carey's Terre D'Ange or wandering the stars with Octavia Butler and Ursula Le Guine. Good fantasy (and sci fi, though I am not as big a fan as sci fi) tells us, using the metaphoric fantastic, about our world, how we face or fail to face the challenges we meet, and it gives us an opportunity to dream something different: Shangri-La, Utopia, Middle Earth post Sauron.

In Spring 2010, my first book will be out. It is a collection of my poetry. Less than a week ago I started on my second book: a novel. Drawing on some of my own past, I have started telling the story of a young man named Emanuel. Emanuel in some ways is me, but in so many other ways isn't. He is a separate entity, and I feel as if he is retelling a portion of my story but also telling his story. When I lay down to sleep at night, more of the story unfolds in my head, when I take a nap or a shower, when I am working out or jacking off, more and more of the story comes to the forefront. It is amazing.

I feel as if I am a channel for this fantastic child that lives in our world but walks in multiple worlds. So far I have discovered that he can interact with the dead. He can see spirits of the once living, and he can see beings that have never been alive in a human sense nor can they die. These others are spirits of place, the spirits of homes, natural spirits, tricksters, goblins, fairies, those other creatures that have come down to us from the stories of our ancestors, except, in Emanuel's world, he is just discovering that they are real. Or he very soon will. At the same time he is trapped in a home with a mother that is being violently abused by her husband. He is the six year old knight protector of his infant brother. His body bears the scars of his stepfathers impotence and anger.

I can't wait to find out what happens next.

I can already tell that this story is huge. This is just the beginning, the story of his young life, how he comes to understand or fight against his gifts, his connection with his greater family, an awareness of himself, of his sexuality, of his own power and limitations, of his responsibility and his own ugliness. And, ultimately, his own beauty. He is me but he is himself, and I have no idea where the story is going to end. Or if it does.

I only know that it feels super right. I have tried writing fiction in the past. I have attempted to create worlds on paper, fantastic creatures, and amazing mages...but, in the end, the character that came to me was a little mixed kid, living in Northern Minnesota that discovers that there is magic and power right here in our own world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Poop Stopping Lasagna

I can't admit to having come up with the name for the lasagna myself. The award for that goes to my sister Meta. But, whatever its name, this completely vegetarian lasagna is damn delicious. If you are on Weight Watchers, forget it...a single piece of this is about 492 points.

Keep your treadmill handy folks. This lasagna is a once a year sort of deal.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

1lb lasagna noodles
2lbs mozzarella cheese
1lb Colby jack cheese
1lb natural cheddar cheese
1lb ricotta cheese made with skim milk
2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Spicy Tomato Basil from Paul Newman)
1 package button mushrooms
5-6 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup red onion
2 small jalapenos
1 cup red wine

First things first. Dice up the garlic, oregano, basil, red onion and jalapenos. Thinly slice the button mushrooms. Wash and dice the spinach. Place it all in a large pot and pour the sauce into the pan. Add some water to the sauce jars in order to get all of the sauce out of the jar. Pour it into the sauce pan. Next, pour in the red wine. With a large spoon stir the sauce together. Turn it on a medium heat and let it simmer. Stir regularly to keep the contents from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Let the sauce simmer for an hour then set aside.

While the noodles are cooking cut up your cheese. Cut the cheese from the blocks in medium thick square strips. Set them aside.

In another pot cook your lasagna noodles. Cook them until they are just short of al dente. Make sure to add a little olive oil to the water to help the noodles keep from sticking. When the noodles are done cooking, run them under cold water and set them aside.

Now it's time to assemble the lasagna. First heat your oven to 375 degrees. Next in a large, long baking pan, lay down a layer of noodles no more than two noodles thick across the bottom of the pan. Next, pour a layer of sauce across the noodles. We will be doing three layers of sauce, so make sure the noodles are covered but not drowned. Next, lay down a layer of cheese, alternate the various types of cheese. On top of the hard cheese, smooth a layer of ricotta cheese.

Repeat the step with the next layer.

Finally, the last layer should end with a layer of hard cheese but without the ricotta.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. If you'd like for the last minute or so turn on the broiler and brown the cheese on top.

Remove from the oven and prepare for a saucy cheesy explosion.

I posted this recipe here as it costs too much to make for it to qualify for The Fairy Chef recipe roster. The cheese will set you back about $25. The total cost to make this meatless lasagna is about $35. I also have a meat version that will blow your damn mind, but it costs almost $50 to make and uses three types of meat: spicy Italian sausage, Italian sausage and ground beef. If you want to make that version, add a step. Brown the meat before you make the sauce and add it into the sauce.

This recipe will EASILY feed six people to capacity.

One Liner of the Week Award: Yuval Sheer

So, one of my favorite people in the whole world is Yuval Sheer. Yuval is an old friend of David's and happens to be married to the equally delightful and amazingly talented Admi Marom. Yuval, a brilliant blogger that can be found at, often has hilarious and insightful quips about life.

A few days ago I wrote a blog called Health Care Companies Can Suck My Dick. Yuval read the blog, and this was his response:

"Brandon, I don't think they will suck your dick since It's a pre-existing condition."

And that, ladies and trannymen, is the One Liner of the Week Award.

Congratulations Yuval on your distinguished honor.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Interview with a Man Who Tells The Damn Truth: Kenyon Farrow

In 2006, I received a phone call from my best friend RJ. He told me that he had a friend in NYC that was touring the country promoting a new anthology: Letters from Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out. The man was Kenyon Farrow. A few weeks later he walked into my my studio and my life. The friendship and the association has been one where I have found myself constantly and urgently challenged through the honest way in which Kenyon lives, works, writes, and struggles. Kenyon has enough manic energy that there are times I want to stick a plug in his ass and power my apartment. ConEdison better watch out. He is brilliant and passionate; anyone that had a chance to hear his speech at Creating Change in Denver last February on the realities of HIV/AIDS and the black community, will know that when Kenyon tells the damn truth people jump up and say amen. This Midwestern brother from another mother of mine is someone that I honor, that honors my community, and that lives the shit he talks about.

Months ago, Kenyon was featured in Out Magazine as one of 2008's Out 100. At that time, I asked him if he would be willing to be interviewed for my blog. He said yes. Now, 3/4 of a year later, I finally got him the interview questions. Know Kenyon. Listen to Kenyon. You will be a better human being for it.

1.) In 2008, Out Magazine named you one of the Out 100. You were one of a very few people of color on that list. What did that "honor" mean to you? What does it mean that there were so few people that looked like you on that list?

KF: Well I was honored by the Out 100 nomination precisely because it was people of color who told the editors at Out that I should be nominated, so it was definitely nice to be recognized by other people of color who think highly of my work. I guess in terms of the lack of representation of Black people or other people of color on the list, is simply reflective of gay magazines in general, so I guess I had low expectations in that department to begin with. Sometimes I do those kinds of publications or engage more mainstream outlets because I think about those black gay boys like me, in places like Ohio, who may only have access to these mainstream publications, or who may not have black gay activists or spaces that have a certain political vision I have. So for me, it is important to me to reach them, the same way I found Barbara Smith's work in a cheesy gay bookstore in Columbus, OH. I would not have had access to that kind of political work in Ohio otherwise. I sometimes worry about people critiquing me for making that choice, or calling me a media whore or something, but the reality is not everyone who has an interest in certain kinds of political discussions or ideas reads some underground zine or even a progressive magazine. My family is super-politically engaged and some of the most politically astute people I know, but they do not, and never have read The Nation, let alone something even smaller. So I sometimes engage mainstream stuff to get my work out to people that are not "The Left".

2.) You have been a tireless advocate, researcher, and speaker on issues relating to HIV and queer people of color, specifically youth and African-Americans. I was at the speech you gave at Creating Change this year. Whooo child. In an America that believes itself post-AIDS, how is your work different than HIV/AIDS Advocacy, say, in the early 90s?

KF: Thanks for the compliment on that speech. I am really humbled by the impression it (and the rest of my co-panelists) left on the attendees (Editor's Note: Bishop Yvette Flunder also let us all have it). In any case, I think that my work on HIV/AIDS in some respects looks more like some of the work in the 1980's and early 1990's, that really understood the AIDS epidemic in the US as a manifestation of other kinds of injustice, as opposed to a manifestation of problematic behaviors that we need to teach "certain" people to curb. Other than that, I think that my work is not only about drawing together the issues that are driving the epidemic among black gay/bi men and black trans women, but also to just actually remind people that the epidemic didn't go anywhere. I am beginning to hear a lot of gay organizations saying that they "don't do AIDS" anymore, and I think we need to call them out on that shit too.

3.) You are HIV-, what does it mean to do significant work in the black queer positive community while both being a part of and being distinct from that community? How do you integrate and organize around economic justice issues as a negative person while supporting the positive community?


You are HIV+, how does your HIV status inform your work both as an advocate but also an organizer for social and economic justice?

KF: I am actually glad you asked my HIV status to some extent. I think it is something I struggle with how to talk about as an AIDS activist. I am HIV negative, but I don't know how to talk about that in a way that doesn't seem like I am trying to let everybody know, I don't have it. Kinda like when straight allies to queers always have to remind people that they're straight. How dreadful. The fact remains, that though I do not have HIV, I am personally impacted by the epidemic in that several family members have died of AIDS, and probably half of my black gay/bi men and transwomen friends are positive. Not having HIV does not mean that it doesn't impact my life in some very dramatic ways on a daily basis. As consistent as I am with practicing safe sex and whatnot, I am beginning to feel the need to begin to talk and write more publicly about feeling like condoms as the only real strategy I have is not something I don't know that I can maintain for the rest of my natural born life. I am almost 35, and have been having sex with men for about 15 years. And if I am lucky I have another 50+ years, and I plan to have sex for as much of that time, as often as I can. LOL!!! Am I supposed to wear condoms all the time for the next 50 years? It makes no fucking sense, but that's all we got right now. And I am tired. And given the HIV rates among gay men in general, and certainly among Black men, the idea that I can sero-sort my way through it for the next 50 years is just fucking ridiculous. And I am almost afraid to say that, but fuck it. It's the truth and people need to hear it. As much stigma as there is for HIV+ black gay men, there is no space for negative men to say any of this. We're treated like we ought to be fucking glad to not have it. But the odds are so against us and we're so traumatized by the spectre of contracting HIV, or having witnessed the death of friends and family and nobody being able to talk about it, or people being ostracized, negative men are carrying the weight of this too. And if that's the case, being negative doesn't seem like much to fucking celebrate--the impact of the virus and what it means is kicking your natural ass anyway. And that's the truth that is so scary to say out loud. But as you can tell, I am tired of holding this. And I think it is this kind of frank discussions about sex and sexuality for Black gay men as it pertains to HIV is where I want to go with my work--ground my political writing about AIDS in my own sex life. We can sometimes cloak ourselves in "the issues" and not be brave enough to tell our own truths for fear of being judged often in our professional spaces, and by people we can't fucking stand anyway.. Well, I am about to throw caution to the goddam wind.

4. In addition to being a tireless advocate for health issues, you are also known (and worshipped) as a leader in the economic justice movement and its intersection within and throughout queer about how you frame issues of HIV/AIDS in the context of economic justice?

KF: Well there was a study that recently came out, where they interviewed 1,115 Black and Latino men who have sex with men in Philly and NYC about how they identify-gay, bi, down-low or some other term. 35% of them made less than $5,000 a year. Now they used money incentives to recruit people, so that skewed the number of poor men who participated in the study very high, and also the number of HIV+ men who already knew they're status high. But that should tell you something about where the epidemic is--among poor black and Latino gay men. Or the impact of getting and HIV diagnosis actually increases one's likelihood of becoming poor if you weren't already. If that diagnosis means you are socially isolated from family or communities of origin, who do you rely on to get needs met in times of hardship? What if you can't afford treatment if you have no health insurance? If you're working in a low-wage job with little benefits or with no sick days or vacation, how do you take time off for doctor's appointments without raising the suspicion of co-workers or your boss? Medicaid is the largest insurer of people with HIV. If you're transgender woman or just a gay man who like to press your hair or wear nails, where do they even get work in the overground economy anyway--performing drag, or maybe working the MAC counter at the local mall, or maybe in a beauty salon. Those are your options and not everybody can or wants to to that kind of work. To me, there are some very clear reasons that HIV is an economic justice issue, and yet, no economic justice organizations that I know of even mention it. But QEJ is going to be at least putting this kind of analysis out in the world soon.

5.)You are also a brilliant writer...if folks want to read more about you, your work, and what you are doing, how can they find out more about you?

KF: Well, the tension I have now is that the activism, and the demands of working at QEJ which is a full plate on top of the other work I do, is taking me more and more away from my writing, and is keeping me from actually working on my own book project, which I am really desperately trying to do. But folks should check my blog, and I am also writing for this new site called pretty regularly, so check me out there as well. Lastly, I am co-editing a book that should be out next year called A New Queer Agenda on NYU Press. It's a project of QEJ--a collection of writing critiquing the mainstream LGBT movement, as well as pieces about how other racial and economic justice issues impact the lives of queers. I co-authored a piece in the book about the "War on Drugs" and queer communities with gabriel o. sayegh, who works with the Drug Policy Alliance.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review: Emanuel Xavier's Christ Like

In early fall 2007, I received a phone call from legendary poet, and my friend, Bao Phi asking me if I would be interested in performing at the October Equilibrium show. I would be opening for a dynamic queer spoken word artist from New York by the name of Emanuel Xavier. Now, if Bao Phi asked me to walk on water for him while carrying a vat of bubbling acid, I would try my best to do it. He has been an immense supporter of my poetry. Also, the Equilibrium series at the Loft Literary Center is the “it” place for spoken word artists in the Twin Cities. The series celebrates the best of the best of local and national spoken word artists of color, the crowd is always live, and it is my poetic home.

I, of course, said yes to Bao’s request. Though I had not met Emanuel Xavier, I knew who he was. I knew him from his poetry, and we both had selections in the anthology Queer Codex: Chile Love. We have an ex-boyfriend in common (shout out to Joe Jimenez of Corpus Christi). I also knew him from the movie “Ski Trip,” where he played a water-downed version of the character Mikey X in his novel, reviewed here, Christ Like. I also knew him from the brutal gay bashing he survived, and I, like many of my community, were pissed off and saddened by the attack.

Emanuel came to town with his best friend and manager, Leo Toro, and we quickly became friends. We went out that night, toured the underbelly of the Minneapolis club scene, and got a little wasted. Since that time, I have been honored to perform with Emanuel, to have been featured in his anthology Mariposas, and to call him a friend y comadre.

Last weekend, I saw Emanuel and Leo for the first time in about a year. They came through my birthday party, and Emanuel gave me, as a gift, a copy of his newly re-released novel: Christ Like.

I finished the book about ten minutes ago, and I decided to review it for you, my readers, here at My Feet Only Walk Forward.

A Review of Emanuel Xavier's Christ Like

As a club kid wannabe that remembers the flash bulb end of Limelight, aka The Sanctuary in Emanuel Xavier’s novel, the opening salvo of Christ Like grabbed me by the throat and dragged me into a ride into the Hell mouth of my own twisted personal history.

From the gate, the sex, drugs, rape, brutality, and vibrancy of this novel lets the reader know that the writer isn’t taking any prisoners. The semi-autobiographical nature of the story adds an extra punch to the groin and leaves you feeling ripped open and exposed to the early morning Sunday sunlight after a night of drugged out partying. Been there, done that, relived it all with this novel.

There are times when the novel comes up for air and the writing becomes rapid fire and surface level. It is clear that the story could use the help of an editor with a keen eye that would give the author a chance to dig deeper in some places, leave some places on the cutting room floor, and give the novel more space to breath and the story to develop.

But the truth is that I finished this book in record time, consumed it in large mouthfuls, and sometimes forgot to swallow before shoving the next bit in. The hard core reality presented and the conscious honoring of the sweet and ugly truth of being queer, homeless, fierce, powerful, terrified, abused, alone, loved, ashamed, and celebrated all at the same time, communicated a stark and beautiful reality. The realness and beauty of it excused the sometimes poor editing and skin-deep storytelling, and left this reader wanting to know what happens next to Mikey X.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Health Insurance Companies Can Suck My Dick

After spending half a year working at the Center for Media Justice and basically deepening my distaste for the media to the point where saying FOX out loud is enough to make me projectile vomit down the nearest news anchor's open mouth, I have been reduced to scanning the headlines via Yahoo and watching CNN on the treadmill at the gym. I figure I can learn all of what I need to know in terms of distorted media biased issues reporting from one of those sources, in small spurts, without risking nausea or a brain tumor.

Today, though, I was reading an article on Yahoo that talked about the upcoming speech that Obama is planning to a joint session of Congress. First of all, joint sessions of Congress are extremely rare occurrences. The only time they happen regularly is during the State of the Union. Otherwise, they are generally reserved for things like announcing a formal declaration of war, the end of a war, the death of a someone of near God-like stature, or the annual Congress Christmas Party and Intern Rubdown.

In the aforementioned article, it happened to say, punnily, that one of the opposition points of the conservative lobby and GOPers is that they are worried about the health of private health insurance companies.

Excuse me? The HEALTH of private health insurance companies? Did United Healthcare come down with tuberculosis, AIDS, or malaria and I missed it? No? Until then shut the fuck up talking to me about some goddamn entity that exists on paper as having any health needs whatsoever. I have health needs...I need to be healthy; I need to be able to get sick and not have to worry about dying from a heart attack when I get the doctor bill; and I need to not have to decide whether or not I should spend money on electricity or Zoloft.

Health of health insurance companies. Nigga please.

This is the one time in all my life that I have heard Democrats advocating for a full on market system that will force private companies to play by the rules of capitalism by competing with a new and larger player that will force bloated, vampiric, profit mongering private health insurers to stop price gouging, price setting, and profiting from the illness, death, and misery of people and start looking at ways to keep people healthy, reduce costs and provide the most effective treatment for the lowest price. That is how the fuck you stay in business in any other damn industry...hey health care...suck my dick...I don't give a shit about the CEO of United Heath care raking in a salary of $124.8 million (and yes kiddies that is what former United Health Group CEO Bill McGuire made in 2005).

This is also the first time I have ever heard Republicans talk about protecting the market from competition. Excuse Rush Limbaugh back on those pills? Is Trent Lott back to advocating for the return of the Dixiecrats? Is someone up in the Senate Office building smoking crack rock? I find it highly amusing the inviolate free market economy beliefs of Republicans are about as deeply held and inviolable as 13 year old boy at Neverland Ranch.

There is no health care reform without a public option. Period. Without a public option the health care reform becomes a minor tweak of the health care system where teeny changes will be made, that will save money in the short term, will not address the fundamental underlying problems with the system, will result in bloated health care premiums over the long term, and will inevitably lead to a return to the status quo or worse...the collapse of the U.S. economy under the burden of health care costs. States are already seeing this happen, for example, in Minnesota, the majority of every new tax dollar raised goes to offset state health care costs. When all of our money is going to pay for bloated programs that do not work and to premiums and systems that create poor care and massive numbers of underinsured or uninsured, why the hell wouldn't we do anything and everything possible to address the real issue: CREATING A HEALTH CARE PROGRAM AND SYSTEM ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE, AFFORDABLE TO EVERYONE, and SOLVENT!

Anticipating Obama's speech to Congress, I can feel the spirit of my Big Mama sitting with me. I am about to pull on my house coat, lube up my slippers, chew on some tobacco, and cut a switch. I am going to sit in the gallery in Congress, spitting in to my chaw bucket, and slappin' my switch menacingly on the bench...staring down at Obama and daring his narrow black ass to back off a public option. And the minute some cock-eyed, short dicked, Cadillac insurance carrying Republican member of Congress (or Blue Dog Democrat for that matter) opens his or her mouth to as much as yawn during or after the speech, I am going to lay into their asses like their Mama's should have and scream at the top of my lungs, "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You...You Don't Like A Public Option? Then YOU PUT THE 40,000,000 uninsured on YOUR health care plan."

Don't worry GOPers and Blue Dogs...the ass whoopin' you got comin' is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.

No it ain't. Bend over and take it bitches. Cuz you have earned this whoopin', and I hope Obama tears your fat asses up.