Thursday, December 08, 2016

Isabelle Huppert Refuses HIV PEP in 'Elle'

They're minor mentions, but stood out for this queer and poz cineaste.

In Paul Verhoeven's new French film "Elle" starring the amazing Isabelle Huppert delivering a monumental career-capping performance, two references to HIV crop up.

First, after she's gone through the trauma of being raped by an unknown assailant, she's seen getting blood drawn for STD tests and is offered PEP, post exposure prophylaxis, to avert acquiring HIV.

She declines PEP, citing the relatively minor side effects of taking well-studied HIV drugs for two-weeks.

Later on, in a scene with her mother enjoying the erotic attentions of her very hunky and handsomely paid boy-toy, Huppert who disapproves of their relationship, she interrupts them sharing a kiss

Huppert asks if he knows her mother is HIV poz, which she isn't, and everyone wanly smiles and sighs.

The HIV mentions aside, "Elle" is a terrific film on many levels and Huppert is receiving widening and well-deserved accolades from critics and groups that bestow awards, for her work. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Political Organizing Without Electeds & Nonprofits

This essay was written yesterday before the Bay Area Reporter published Liz Highleyman's story about the meeting last Saturday..

It is in response to a post from longtime queer feminist writer Anne-christine D'Adesky that she posted to the Bay Area Queer Anti-Fascist Network's Facebook page. That page has been unavailable today, so I've not been able to share this with the network yet.

Reading how Liz gave a lot of space in her story to the electeds and nonprofits, I feel doubly justified in putting forward this response:

Many thanks for the dense fact filled report back, Anne-christine D' . In my queer book, it's sign of mature organizing when reports are written up on meetings and actions by those who organized the events. My feedback follows, as someone who wasn't present and has been around a number of decades queerly agitating.

You cite ACT UP as your primary organizing model and I come outta that school, and one reason ACT UP succeeded was because of egalitarian ways. We didn't carve out time for electeds and non profit leaders. They were certainly free to speak like everyone else and participate.

I'm uncomfortable, not the best word but it will do, that two elected were given mike time in the big group meeting, as were four or five folks from nonprofits. As you may know, I have allergies with politicians and nonprofits, generally speaking.

What I'd like to suggest is that at future big group meetings that no time be alloted to electeds or nonprofits. Let them wait like everyone else to speak during public comment time.

There is a need for queer and progressive organizing free of domination by electeds. Last week, in addition to the Bay Area Queer Anti Fascist Network, which doesn't roll off my lisping tongue so easily btw, the San Francisco Vision political network or whatever the hell it is, held a "What the Hell Just Happened?" town hall at the Women's Building in San Francisco.

Over 350 people showed up to hear a current and former member of the Board of Supes, and aide to another current supe, and a paid political consultant, and to have about 40 minutes of public comment time. So I am told by those who were present, which doesn't include me.

Let's talk ineffective organizing. The organizers didn't, um, organize themselves to take notes and maybe a foto or two so they could issue a report back to those who weren't in attendance.

Seriously, if you gonna gather that many folks to prep for further resistance to Trump and his policies, take some damn notes and tell us what the hell was discussed and decided. Otherwise, it's just political masturbation.

We must create space that is community driven and free from colonizing by the electeds and nonprofits. They don't allow us to attend their strategy meetings at the Board of Supes or City Council or the board meetings of nonprofits - two privileges I want.

I am advocating for keeping the electeds and nonprofits on a tight leash, to better develop activist leadership or strenghen what exists, and a network that can sustain itself for the coming battles with the Trump Administration.

A bit of history. Eight years ago, I saw Prop 8 have great polling before the election and we lost on the measure. Folks had dreams dashed at the voting booth, we took to the streets, community meetings were organized to fight back and Join the Impact and Courage Campaign mobilized.

Two presidential elections later, we've not heard from either of those groups, if they're still around, and all the post election 2008 agitation seemed to produce two major victories for LGBTs: gay marriage and gays in the military.

What I'm asking of this new network is a conversation that takes into account these concerns so that this current wave of anger and organizing doesn't crash with little to show for our efforts.
My prison pen-pal Michael Johnson celebrates his birthday this Sunday, December 11th. I've mailed him a birthday card, which I hope cheers him up. If you wish to send Michael a card, email me for his address.

Donald Trump & ACT UP Shared the Same Publicist

History, like life, is strange.

If I knew this factoid from back in the AIDS plague years when I was in the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, it faded from my memory.

According to David France's new book "How to Survive a Plague," there's a connection between the activist group and president-elect Donald Trump:

"As the group entered its second year, the pace it set was numbing. Each week brought expanding reports from Staley, whose efforts succeeded in making ACT UP-branded clothing among the city's most popular fashionwear.

"An intense man with a large voice named Bob Rafsky headed up the Media Committee, as good a match as Staley was to fund-raising. By day, Rafsky was spokesman for the real estate developer Donald Trump. He knew assignment producers and editors at the highest levels."

Of course, no one knew back in 1988 that Trump would run for and win the White House. Who would have thought there was a connection between an ACT UP leader and Trump?

You may recall that Rafsky gained national attention for HIV matters and people living with AIDS when he famously confronted Bill Clinton, during the New York primary in 1992. Here's a photo from that zap, next to the pertinent passage from the "Plague" book:

Monday, December 05, 2016

BART Vote Total = 10,500 and Big Thanks!

The semi-final vote count from the Department of Elections last week shows I received 10,499 votes in my race for the BART board. 

I've rounded the figure up by one for headline purposes and because it's easier to tell folks 10,500. That's 6.91% of votes cast. What fine numbers, especially considering I spent less than $100 for the entire campaign.

The department has no more ballots to count and Gregory P. Slocum, their campaign services director, says there's no chance a single stray vote will be found for me. 

A big shoutout and thanks to all who cast ballots for me or in any way supported my BART campaign, with special gratitude to my loving hubby Mike, who was willing to don a goofy hat to help me get votes!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

SF Vision: 350 At Meeting, No Report Back & Banishment

Some things about progressives in San Francisco never change. After suffering losses at the ballot box, the usual Democratic clubs and electeds host town halls about what just happened.

The panelists are never held to account for their lousy organizing and failures with various ballot props and attempts to win seats on the Board of Supervisors or in Sacramento. We also rarely get a report back about what transpired at the town hall. If you weren't there, you're shit outta luck.

The latest installment in this saga was organized by soon-to-be SF Chronicle columnist and writer David Talbot's group/political party known as San Francisco Vision.

Their "What the Hell Just Happened?" meeting took place on Wednesday, November 30 at the Women's Building and about 350 people attendance. A great turnout.

The panelists included Sup. David Campos, former supervisor Christina Olague, Sup. Aaron Peskin's aide Sunny Angulo, political strategist Jim Stearns and Talbot, and comedian Yayne Abeba was the facilitator.

As I expected, neither SF Vision's nor the event's Facebook page has shared a followup report with the community. Just more of the same poor organizing from San Francisco progressives.

This is so in keeping with these folks never stopping to think they may lose elections, preparing for a loss, and after suffering at the ballot box, hosting crisis town halls that lead to not much but the usual political leaders sucking up activist oxygen.

Here's the closest SF Vision came to a report back: "Thank you to everyone who attended Wednesday night's event. We really appreciated every one's feedback and questions. The one thing that we heard over and over was fear. People are afraid. People are also angry. Wednesday night was not a solution it was the beginning. We now have to figure out what is next."

Last night, I posted a request at the SF Vision Facebook page for a report back and shared the full report from Anne-christine d'Adesky, excerpted below, from the Bay Area Queer Anti Fascist Network's meeting on Saturday, December 2 in Oakland.

My note was deleted and I'm now banned from posting at the SF Vision page. So much for diverse voices in that group. Additionally, I tweeted to Yayne Abeba asking why she deleted my post and banned me. Her response was to block me on Twitter. Guess we can't question SF Vision leaders.

I strongly suggest the SF Vision folks look at d'Adesky's report and learn how to inform folks who aren't meetings about what was said and planned:

THANK YOU and Shout Out to the 150+ activists and members of our network who participated in our first Bay Area Queer Town Hall on Strategic Responses to Trump. We had a full house, packed, active, reflective, forward looking, and spirited.
WHAT FOLLOWS IS A LONG, DETAILED POST of the HIGHLIGHTS of the TOWN HALL. We will soon make available the Videotape of the main presentations . . . 
We welcomed LGBTQ officials including Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan and our Emeryville City Council representative . . .
We heard from Tara Shannon, just back from Standing Rock, who is the newly designated Two Spirit representative for the camp/ # No DAPL resistance . . .
Thanks to Vicki Castro at La Raza Centro Legal (LRCL), Carolina Morales of Harvey Milk Democratic Club for sharing updates about the attacks on Latinx folks and immigrants.... from them we learned that, even before Trump inauguration, the ICE (Immigration) has NEWLY carried out raids of undocumented students/ immigrant families in several SF schools (concern Oakland is next)... and we MUST STOP THEM . . .
TAKE NOTE: A important action is taking place this TUES at UNION SQUARE at NOON to demand Sanctuary City protection from deportation for DACA cases . . .
An additional note: I shared a message, a plea for help, from Subhi Nahas, representing Syrian queer asylee group SPECTRA -- he is in SF now -- who said, as of Dec. 3, his network learned ISIS was shooting anyone who tested positive for HIV . . .
SMALL GROUP STRATEGY DISCUSSION: We had three (not) very small groups (about 30-50 ppl) strategic discussions on these priority topics:
1) immigration,
2) healthcare/health/disability justice
3) intersectional community organizing/ anti-white supremacy work (covering climate change, covering NO DAPLS, covering police brutality (Black Lives Matter) etc.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Renoir & Magnani's 'The Golden Coach'

There just aren't enough hours in the queer day for this culture vulture to indulge in great artistic pleasures.

At 4 pm today, the Pacific Film Archive is showing the delightful and gorgeous-looking "The Golden Coach" directed by Jean Renoir and starring the force-of-nature actress Anna Magnani. Wish I could be there for it.

I was lucky to see this film at the Castro Theater, and a newly-restored 35mm print no less, a few years back and one day will catch it again on the big screen.

Magnani plays a forceful leader and actress with an 18th century acting troupe in Peru, having a high time arguing, singing and dancing her way into hearts of the audiences in the film and those of us watching it all unfold in glorious colorful sets and costumes.

Check out this fabulous video of Magnani entertaining her fans on YouTube.

Friday, December 02, 2016

FOIA for FBI Files on Lynchings of Blacks & the KKK

Does the Federal Bureau of Investigation have a central file on the lynchings of African Americans, since 1990? What about records on the Ku Klux Klan since 2000?

These questions have been on mind for a year and there's no time like the present to file a FOIA and see what the agency has to say, and what, if any responsive public records are released.

My mantra and default mode of activism under the Trump Administration is the same as it's been for decades: Follow the money. File a FOIA.

Do democracy a huge favor and make a public records request with a government agency. Do it today, please.

Here are the replies from the FBI regarding my requests made this week. More FOIAs to come.

SF Symphony to Perform Rodgers & Hammerstein Classics

Let's hope I control my urges to sing-along tomorrow night, December 3, at Davies Symphony Hall. Same goes for my hubby Mike.

The San Francisco Symphony is presenting a selection of clips from the film versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, as the orchestra plays the scores live.

Co-hosting the evening is conductor Todd Sperling, who'll be joined by singer Laura Osnes. In addition to the Saturday concert, there's also one tonight, December 2, to enjoy.

On the program are selections from "The King and I," "South Pacific," "The Sound of Music" and "Oklahoma!"

In anticipation of what will be a divine night, I'm listening to the great works of Rodgers and Hammerstein on YouTube today. Always a pleasure hearing the fantastic voice of the late Marni Nixon dubbing for Deborah Kerr for the "Getting to Know You" number.

The symphony promises we'll be humming along - and without a doubt - yes, we will!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

SF Weekly: Poz Inmate Michael Johnson & HIV PrEP Costs

The practice among some HIV negative gay men willfully seeking to become infected, bug chasing, is getting renewed attention on this World AIDS Day.

Over at the SF Weekly, the relatively new managing editor Channing Joseph, who's black and gay, has a cover story about this queer sexual subculture.

He requested my thoughts related to my prison pen-pal Michael Johnson and separate from that, he quoted me criticizing HIV prevention advocates especially at AIDS Inc group failing to campaign for lower Truvada pricing from Gilead.

I'm pleased to see Michael receiving a bit of mainstream media attention today. I'll be mailing him a copy of the article so he read it and know that he is remembered. An excerpt from the article:

"San Francisco has not made a practice of criminalizing HIV infection, as has occurred in some other places. For instance, Missouri is at the other end of the spectrum.

"Last year, the state sentenced a former college wrestler, Michael Johnson, 23 at the time, to 30 years in prison for infecting one of his sexual partners and putting four others at risk.

"Michael Petrelis, a longtime San Francisco AIDS activist and advocate for the repeal of HIV criminalization laws, has been corresponding with Johnson in prison.

"Petrelis tells SF Weekly that he applauds the city’s efforts to promote awareness of PrEP but says the effort falls short when it comes to making the drug affordable.

"'PrEP is one vital tool of prevention but advocates … do not address the pricing of Truvada …' he says. 'Yes, let’s applaud the effective prevention capability of PrEP, but we can’t overlook how much all HIV … drugs cost.' (PrEP can run to between $1,300 and $2,000 a month without insurance.)"