Monday, April 28, 2008

Obama and Rev. Wright

I want to say something about life in regard indirectly to the issue of Obama’s former preacher, (Wright) who seems to be more important to our media than any other issue in the decision as to who is best qualified to be the next president.

From what I’ve heard, most of what Wright has said about our nation’s history is true. I can testify to it, as I grew up in Louisiana. It is not relevant if Wright himself did not suffer in such segregation or poverty, although most people in the depression era did.

What Obama is saying, correctly, is that while that was the past, the present is different. Again, I as a homosexual citizen can testify to that, partly because I have worked to make the change happen, and the progress has been made with little support from the majority of homosexuals (in fact with opposition from many closeted queers)and under all presidents, governors, etc.
And this is true for black Americans, again, with not much help from a lot of black citizens, many of whom did NOT support Dr. King, et al.

The current media frenzy over elites calling people bitter is important for a reason most people do not understand. If the right-wingers are sure our nation needs to stop the spread of Islam, because of the fanaticism of the Taliban types, they should, as Wright suggests, seek to know where this fanaticism comes from. And ironically last week’s Newsweek discusses just this topic. It asks if a small town in Africa, Libya I think, has sent at least 10 men to die for the Islamists, why? Is it religion? Poverty? Lack of hope for the future?

That may be what Obama suggests is the question we must ask about Americans in small town which have lost their main source of income, as factories and jobs move to other countries. Have they sought refuge in religion? Do they see any future for their families? Who do they blame for their situation? Immigrants? Blacks? Homosexuals? Democrats?

Who do they think will help them if they become president? They will get no answers from the media.

What they get from the media is talking heads, with no more information or knowledge than the viewer, and with agendas, such as seeking more viewers to make more money from advertisers. So they play up irrelevant issues such as asking religious questions from politicians instead of what things they will do to make our nation better for us all.

If the average American voter thinks it is more important to know what Obama, Clinton and McCain believe about some religious doctrines, then our nation is lost, and all the sacrifices from the founding and through world wars, etc, has been wasted by this generation, which lives better than any generation in history, because of what previous generations of Americans did.

And the worst part is that such attitudes make these Americans exactly like the poor Africans who supply the Taliban with suicide bombers. And perhaps for the same reasons, religious beliefs and lack of knowledge of the real world.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dolores Reflections

When driving down the highways of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, Ron, Paul and I talked, the subject of Tony's talking about how he met Don Slater came up and the question was, did what he said contradict what Joe says in the biography.

I don't think so. But a few things Tony said sounded to me like a few of Don's (or worse, Dorr's) sayings—for instance I think Tony said he met Don in about 1955, which of course is not true, and that he might have 48 acres of property—which is not true, they started with what? 32 or 33 1/2 and he sold either 4 or 13 to Kevin (actually first to Susan of the house above him) and so has about 28, plus of course the house, and the mobile home which he may try to rent out, MINUS the darn log cabin which managed to burn down. I say darn because the new owners of the Dutton "resort" asked to buy it back, and he refused. (National Geographic has an article on places and lists Dutton in it.) Don and I went there while "touring" the land above Dolores and toward Rico, in the old Studebaker.

So I am not sure that Dale is right/was right. He left soon after anyway. But I doubt Don and Dorr would have just quit. But the issue shows how important others have been, in this case Eric Julber, as later on Herb Selwyn has been, etc. They would have had to change course, gone to the "education" another way, but that may have been hard since it was the magazine that brought in enough money to do the work, which in a sense caused the inevitable "separation" since Dorr Legg, the practical one, etc., was the one who lost common sense and wanted to stop the magazine and just push the (at most Quarterly) classes, etc.

In a sense he did after we left, but he failed, even after getting the Institute's accreditation. The magazine failed too, eventually, but not for quality but for being overtaken by newer, more "commercial" publications such as Advocate, Drum even, etc. But Dorr survived, as we knew he would, because of the money from ISHR/Reed, which of course then ended in a legal battle and splitting up, etc.

The only question today is can ONE Institute do its job, not only save the material, but get it known about and used by scholars and students and the public? And the same for HIC material. Getting much of it "online" is a good part of the answer.

Visiting Tony in Dolores

I want to get down my thoughts on the visit with Tony that Paul Harris, Ron Tate and I enjoyed this week (Tuesday night to Wednesday morning) at the house in Dolores, or rather on Summit Ridge above Dolores.

We left San Antonio Sunday, spent the night in Clovis NM, got to Tony late Monday, ate a good local restaurant with alovely name (The Naked Moose) and spent all day Tuesday with Tony (and cat Lucky). He invited two friends over to meet us, one just moved there about a year ago and lived in house he moved across the road and put on land sold by Tony first to a neighbor, Susan of the lamas, and sold by her to Kevin, who sold a restaurant in Leadville to “retire” but now is studying to go into solar panel work, and a forest ranger. Later another friend came by.

Ron had brought a video camera to record Tony talking and playing. He did and if sound etc. is ok, will put on a disc. As I had done so often in the past, my favorite time was walking up the hill from the house to look over the valley down into Cortez, or north west to the Blue Mountains of Utah, or south east to Mesa Verde. North east would be toward San Juans and Telluride but that view is blocked by a small mountain, as is the view down to the river and town. I think there are about 28 acres left. Tony sold the irrigation water share, but has city water and thus can rent out part of the acreage to a young woman for two horses—she is manager of the Super 8 Motel in Cortez.

Tony has spent time, energy and money to fix up the house, which Don would never allow—he would not even have a phone, etc. The small stucco house now has a cover of siding and three patios. The basement is now Tony’s art studio. And he added a large bedroom on the back—the small downstairs bedroom was the only one as the upstairs were not completed, but we used them happily anyway.

He covered over the potato underground room outside, and lost the garden the Wheatlands had—the first year we ate asparagus and strawberries out of it. It was—and now is confirmed to my way of thinking—that this, like the wonderful Victorian house they bought in Echo Park/Angelino Heights—was a great move. They got the house after looking in ads all over CA but this was the best buy, and so we drove in the old Studebaker to Cortez and met the real estate people and they put down $5,000 and got the house including about 33 acres, part of which were across the road and most in steep drop in valley below where the old train ran from Dolores to Durango. The Wheatlands had built the house, but Nell wanted to move down into town and so Winfred went along and she died shortly after and it seemed they were colder down in the valley than on the ridge. He later lived until he died across the valley in the wonderful housing built for the city for elderly people.

Tony looks still after Hazel, who played the piano for his dancing, etc, and is in a nursing home - may come out, but its doubtful. She has a lovely house on the Dolores River in downtown Dolores, which may be taken by state if she stays in the nursing home.

We went to the lovely Dolores Library, overlooking the river also and used the laptop for a second. And, looking at the books we saw on display with lots of others, a picture on the cover of a book of Bayard Rustin, so glanced at the book, mostly a picture book aimed at young people, but it was sure a sign of something that it was there in this small four Corners library. I could not find out in a short time, but think there is a gay/lesbian group in the area and perhaps at Fort Pierce College which overlooks lovely Durango.

Tony looked a little older but good, tanned, drives a new white pickup, still paints and even sells some at flea markets, sings and play guitar for events and in nursing homes, etc.

He seems to have been able to adjust to being alone well, and put away the income from selling the house in L. A., the irrigation shares, so is ok financially. Don of course did not save money as he put it into the organization.

I thought Tony did not feel comfortable talking about “history.” He did mention to one of Ron’s questions that Don thought I was a good proofreader, but what he didn’t say was that Don didn’t think I was a good writer, and he often said he was frustrated that if he wanted me to interview someone, I would end up in giving my views to the interviewee rather than get his/her views.

In a sense I felt Tony still evades thinking about the old days, so we get little information on his work with ONE, etc.

I do think it is important if possible, to learn more for my personal interest, more than of historic importance, as to just how he did meet Don. Joe’s (Joseph Hansen) biography of Don (A Few Doors West of Hope) says that they met in Pershing Square. This does not necessarily mean that that is not true but Tony feels he got to know Don at a meeting at Clifton’s Cafeteria on Broadway. I am not sure he said that a mutual friend introduced them, but I am sure he said he wanted to be near Don, so went to USC and was allowed to attend a sculpture class by either the friend or arranged by the friend. I am not sure of the years of this period. I think he had left Dallas, where he lived, with a brother, and they got separated in L. A., so where did Tony live and how did he get income?

Tony played the piano and banjo for the taping.

Ron gave Tony a used computer and hopefully the neighbor can get him on the internet so we can get him to email. There are still so much we would like to know. But the trip, fast and short though it was, was great. Visiting with Tony was a pleasure, and it is only because Ron and Paul covered the expenses that we were able to go. And as I sit in Ron’s house in San Antonio trying to remember what was important, rather than just that I enjoyed, perhaps I will think of more later, but I wanted to let everyone know something of the visit.

Is there anything “relevant” about Ron having a cat—Afandi of course stayed home so that Silver was looked after, and I have 3 cats hanging around my house, which Donnie and Jamie and even a neighbor are looking after, and Tony has a male black and white good sized cat, Lucky, that talks to Tony, but didn’t seem to like me, but curled up on the couch next to Paul, who does NOT have a cat. (As Joe “covered,” the Slater/Reyes household has had dogs, cats and a rooster, so animals are a part of life.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Guest Blogger: Ron Tate

After serving Billy and Paul a huge BBQ dinner yesterday on the patio, we are preparing to head off toward the western sky later this morning. We hope to reach Albuquerque by nightfall. However, I am not sure how far we will actually make it today.

If all goes well, we will be in Dolores, Col. by Mo! nday evening. Supposedly there is a town about 10 miles away from Dolores, that has a market, so we can buy groceries to cook. I am not sure if Tony has a stove. They think he has a TV but no cable or DVD. Perhaps a VHS player but I gave away my VHS movies over 10 years ago. We will bring along some blankets and pillows just in case Tony doesn't have enough. Tried to call him about it yesterday and left a voice mail msg but no return call.

There was a gluttony of food at the BBQ. I cooked tons of salmon and chicken breasts. We also had baked beans, cole slaw, macaroni salad, wheat rolls, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and red wine. Both Billy and Paul were stuffed and could barely move for hours. Paul managed to hit his sugar free ice cream several times yesterday between meals.

We watched the DVD movie last night, De Lovely, about the life of Cole Porter. The music was catchy and the acting quite good. I tried to show them Mrs. Henderson Presents but the DVD copy kept freezing. Afandi will get a copy of it from while we are away. It should be here in time to see this coming weekend.

Dry and cold weather will greet us all the way to Delores. Jackets and long sleeve shirts are in order. It is 44 here this morning in San Antoneand will stay chilly for the next several mornings. No rain systems within thousands of miles and of course nothing on the extended horizon. San Antonians are using from .6 to .8 feet of the aquifer water supply each day now as the arid, dry atmosphere is taking its toll on the vegetation. I dare saw we will be under severe water restrictions by June. If the city officials had IQs above 60, they would be instituting restrictions immediately, as this drought is of the severity never experienced in this part of the world. Stay tuned!

More while on the trip if we find a free wireless bookstore or coffee shop along the way. My T Mobile will not work in New Mexico, so calls will be minimal at best.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bayard Rustin covered in documentary, Out of the Past

Of course I spend most of my time thinking about the homosexual movement, so it is not surprising that I keep finding things connected, so here I get to San Antonio and Ron has just gotten a DVD called Out of the Past and it has coverage of Bayard Rustin.

It was good on him, pointing out mostly how J Edgar Hoover/FBI tried to destroy Dr. King by exposing Rustin’s arrest/homosexuality. At first King let him resign but (partly due to A Philip Randolph I think it was) he came back in time to do the March on Washington.

I liked the plan of the documentary. It is wrapped around the young lesbian in Salt Lake City in I think 1993 or so who started the high school gsa group. And then pointed out—even though she was not aware of the early people—Gerber and Gittings/Kameny, ending with the young teenager meeting Barbara and Kay as they are riding in a car in a pride parade (I assume in New York but it could have been the gay march in DC), but it seems that it would not have been he first one, so I was confused.

My usual complaint is that this is only an East coast “production” even though the basic theme is the Salt Lake City teenage lesbian. It covers mention only, as far as I can recall of DOB. I don’t think anything from Henry Gerber “happened” until the Daughters in the East, Gittings. I’m not sure it even mentions Kameny as being Mattachine, but it sure never mentions Harry Hay et al, and never ONE. What kind of a history ignores the very basic people and group that started a continuing movement?

I continue to have mixed emotions about the basic issue of this and almost all “histories” or biographies of homosexuals. I did not follow the usual trip apparently. I never sought out a book or worried about being the “only” one. Even at LSU I did not seek out more info—just “got it” in the psychology class and did then wonder why sociology was not covering this issue. BUT why didn’t the teenagers in 1993 have all the info they needed—not in a Mormon library perhaps but LIFE had had Don Slater and Hal Call pictured as having a publication in their 1964 article, and even by the ’80s most coverage had stopped being so negative. I was glad they covered Kameny and Gittings getting the psychiatric issue covered, but intelligent people know that a lot of “education” including ONE the magazine, institute, etc had led up to that point.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dr. King: black civil rights people and homosexual rights people

It’s sort of like the old days with Don Slater, but Paul and Ron and I are talking about various issues of homosexuality, starting even with the definition—Kinsey versus? Don of course, like Kinsey, said it is an act. I agree. But it is complicated by people like me, who have no sex, even for 20 years, but we are still homosexual. And some people have a homosexual act but are not homosexual. That is why I think I’ve said the person is homosexual if he or she has even the slightest number of acts over 50% of the time with someone of the same sex, by choice, or would have, if they could. I think it has been said that if you dream of a homosexual act, that also is an indication.

But what is still on my mind is the current discussion on the black civil rights movement, people mainly, brought on by the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s death and my finding the book on Bayard Rustin, telling of how hard life was for him being black, trying to travel around the nation promoting pacifism, not even sexual or racial issues. And how many “liberals,” black and white, refused to help the movement people for fear of themselves being hurt. And then how some black ministers seemed to be jealous of King et al. getting too much power and publicity. And how some movement people had trouble “confusing” the public by trying to take on more than one issue—Bayard Rustin was first into Communist Party work as it seemed to be supportive of helping the blacks and trying to fight the American government, and its secret support of England, etc. against Germany and then changed when Germany invaded Russia, saying they didn’t want to “undermine” the Americans since they would be helping Russia fight Germany, so they no longer supported the black civil rights cause.

Both Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert last night covered this issue, also an issue now because of Obama and his preacher. Jon had coverage of black speakers pointing out how the media and historians, and people with motives/agendas, have tried to “Santa Claus” King and take off the truth, that he did not always get support and many people didn’t like him, He was not a saint, and he said America was bad towards blacks and talked against the Vietnam war, etc. They said that did not make him un-American, that patriotism in not in just saying America is perfect but in trying to make America more perfect.

And it seems to me this is the same thing for women’s rights, our rights, etc. We acknowledge the great progress made, and each generation builds on what it receives and adds to, builds on that work, so that future generations will have an even better life.