In This Issue

Queers Crash Historic Gay Wedding
Paula Gunn Allen
Richmond Protests Chevron’s Dirty Crude
No ICE for Farmworker
Amendment 2.5 Under Attack at Israel Day
Berms Burst in Burma and Beyond
Act Against Torture: Shame on Yoo
JROTC Must Go!
Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Don’t Let Go!
The MOCHA Column
Okay, You Got It, Now Who Wants It?
Plus wedding announcements, Dear Crabby and where to find everything you need for the perfect wedding


Queers Crash Historic Gay Wedding

San Francisco-The first officially legal same-sex wedding in California was disrupted last week by members of a group calling itself Queers Against Having Good-times (QUAHOG), who entered the chapel wearing sackcloth and ashes and brandishing black thorny roses.  The minister ignored the troublemakers and bravely intoned, “Whosoever knows of reason why these two should not be lawfully joined in marriage.”  At that point, one of the QUAHOGs jumped up and yelled, “Fel is already married in Massachusetts.”

“It was like something out of Jane Eyre,” sobbed a distraught Dillis Marlon, one of the putative brides-to-be.  “I’ve been with Fel for over 50 years,” Dillis continued.  “If she’d taken another wife in any state, you’d think I would be the first to know.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom quickly allocated special anti-terrorism funds to produce a poster warning future altar-goers of the threat posed by QUAHOGs.  CUAV and HRC have mobilized task forces armed with pink parasols and kazoos to be on the lookout for wedding crashers.

“This is the worst thing to hit our community since that group disrupted the opening night of the opera in the eighties,” said HRC Ben Dere.  “They’re just jealous party poopers.”



The New Jersey Four are four black lesbians from Newark NJ who were accosted outside a theater in New York City in August 2006, and fought back. Last year they were sentenced to terms ranging from two and a half  to 11 years. The cases are being appealed. Kimma Walker, the mother of Terrain Dandridge, one of the defendants, will be in the Bay Area this month..

who’s got yo’ back
a night of solidarity with the NJ4
Resisting  Homophobia, Racism, Misogyny and the Prison Industrial Complex
Angela Davis
Kimma Walker (Mother of Terrain Dandridge)

Music by Ojala
Tuesday, June 24,  7 p.m.
The Women’s Building, 3543 18th St, SF
$5-$20 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds
organized by bay nj4 solidarity, (510)400-8462

co-sponsors: Gay  Shame SF, LAGAI -- Queer Insurrection, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC),, SF Women Against Rape (SF WAR), KPFA Women’s Magazine, Critical Resistance,  Radical Women, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!)


Paula Gunn Allen

Paula Gunn Allen, award-winning American Indian scholar and poet, passed away at her home in Fort Bragg, Calif., May 29 after a prolonged illness. She was 68 years old.

For the last 30 years, Allen was a foremost voice in Native literature and the study of American literature. She was also a founding mother of the contemporary women’s spirituality movement. Her most recent work, ‘’Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat,’’ received a Pulitzer Prize nomination. ‘’The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions,’’ a collection of critical essays, is a cornerstone in the study of American Indian culture and gender. Her edited anthology, ‘’Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs,’’ laid the foundation for the study of Native American literature.

One of her most anthologized essays — “Who Is Your Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism” — asserts that early feminists in the United States owe a debt to women of the female-centered Iroquois, who were their role models.

Though she once identified as a lesbian, Allen said she later realized she was a “serial bisexual,” interested in a certain type of person, unconcerned “if it’s male or a female body,” she said in a 1994 issue of the journal The Circle.

Born Paula Marie Francis, in 1939, she grew up on the Cubero land grant in New Mexico, the daughter of former New Mexico Lt. Gov. Elias Lee Francis and Ethel Francis. Both her father’s Lebanese and her mother’s Laguna Pueblo-Metis-Scot heritages shaped her critical and creative vision.

She promoted and popularized the works of other Native writers through the anthologies ‘’Song of the Turtle: American Indian Literature, 1974 - 1995'’; ‘’Voice of the Turtle: American Indian Literature, 1900 - 1970'’; and ‘’Spider Woman’s Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women,’’ which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She also authored ‘’Off the Reservation: Reflections on Boundary-Busting, Border-Crossing, Loose Canons’’; ‘’As Long as the Rivers Flow: The Stories of Nine Native Americans’’; and ‘’Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman’s Sourcebook.’’

Allen published six volumes of poetry: ‘’Life Is a Fatal Disease: Collected Poems 1962 - 1995'’; ‘’Skins and Bones’’; ‘’Wyrds’’; ‘’Shadow Country’’; ‘’A Cannon Between My Knees’’; and ‘’Blind Lion.’’ Her latest book of poetry, ‘’America the Beautiful,’’ is forthcoming from West End Press. ‘’The Woman Who Owned the Shadows,’’ a novel, was published in 1983. She received many awards.

She is survived by a daughter, Lauralee Brown (Roland Hannes); a son, Suleiman Allen (Millisa Russell); two granddaughters; two sisters; and one brother. Two sons, Fuad Ali Allen and Eugene John Brown, preceded her in death.


Richmond Protests Chevron’s Dirty Crude

By Maggie Leigh and Rosemarie Castro

We live in Atchison Village, a Mutual Homes Corporation (like a co-op, where no one owns the land) of 450 units built in 1943 and located about a mile south of the Chevron refinery, at the west end of Richmond. Standard Oil built the plant in 1902. For many years low income, minority communities who live in its vicinity have been affected with high rates of cancer, asthma and respiratory disease. 

While Shell has reduced its emissions 80%, Chevron’s emissions have increased by that percentage. The company has not cleaned up after itself, causing unnecessary flaring, explosions and other pollution. On top of that it also has not been paying its fair share of business taxes to the city of Richmond. Last year it announced plans to expand, and we even heard of its plan to build a hydrogen pipeline going from Richmond all the way to Martinez (which would impact the East Bay Shoreline and be dangerous, as hydrogen is highly explosive).

Chevron submitted an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to the California Energy Commission (CEC), in which it stated that the expansion will not increase pollution, but will upgrade existing, aging equipment. On that basis it even requested to be exempt from the application process for a permit! The Attorney General called the EIR report deficient, stated that in fact Chevron’s plan would contribute a significant increase in global warming, and encouraged the Richmond Planning Commission, which reviews applications, to propose a cap on the quality of oil that comes into the plant.

Local environmental groups with a long history of watching Chevron and representing the health interests of the people who live in its vicinity, include the West County Toxics Coalition (WCTC), headed by Dr. Henry Clark, a former  Black Panther, and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), whose chief scientist Greg Karras called a press Conference in our Village a few months ago. On that occasion he went public about his findings, to the effect that Chevron was concealing the real intent behind the expansion: that of refining cruder oil, including oil from tar sands, since the supply of the easier-to-refine, lighter oil is dwindling worldwide (except in Iraq, where Chevron has been instrumental in pushing for privatization and drafting the Iraq Oil Law, which will undoubtedly benefit Chevron). The crude contains many more toxic substances. The process of “cracking” this dirtier oil necessitates dirtier procedures and could result in 10%-50% more pollution. Chevron’s website contains a statement to its shareholders, confirming the company’s intent to process cruder, dirtier oil in the expanded Richmond refinery.

There have been several demonstrations of protest, starting in 2007 when we first heard of Chevron’s plans, bringing together the West County Toxics Coalition, CBE, Atchison Village Environmental Committee, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Richmond Alliance for Environmental Justice, SEIU Local 1021, activists in the larger community and concerned citizens. We have attended a plethora of meetings, have spoken publicly before the CEC, the Richmond Planning Commission, and privately with members of the Richmond City Council. We have gathered data and heard the results of a study done locally to measure indoor and outdoor air quality in Atchison Village.

CBE has united with international organizations like Amazon Watch, and we have heard from activists from the international community who report the same environmentally racist attitude of Chevron in their countries, the same irresponsibility in refusing to clean up the mess they have made, when they are not actively persecuting anyone who dares to protest. These activists are from the Philippines, Burma, Nigeria, Ecuador. Our struggle is a part of the protests, including lawsuits, around the globe, that hopefully will reach the critical mass necessary for Chevron to change its ways. For this we also need the support of people who are fortunate enough to live far away from the areas directly impacted. Chevron makes billion-dollar profits every quarter, and wages a media campaign to make us believe that they care for the environment and our health. But that is false. We who cannot easily move from the affected areas can attest to this. 

As of this date, Chevron has not yet been granted the permit to expand. At the last meeting of the Richmond Planning Commission on June 5th, a majority of the commissioners voted to put a cap on the crude oil entering the refinery. This is a victory for us. However, the community is calling for a cap on:

-   quality of crude oil after blending that goes into the refinery

-   quality of gas oil after blending that goes into the refinery

-   throughput volume of SDA unit

-   throughput volume of five additional cracking units

We are also calling for ways to closely monitor Chevron’s implementation of the caps.

The Richmond Planning Commission is meeting again on June 19th ,to continue the public hearing on the proposed permit.

What you can do:

1. Participate in demonstrations that seek to make Chevron accountable for its environmental impact, especially in communities of color and of low income.

2. Vote yes on the Citizen’s Initiative requiring large manufacturers like Chevron to pay a fair increase in their business license fee. The initiative will be on the November ballot.

3. Vote Green

4. Question Chevron’s ads showing the company as caring about the environment, and demand that they walk their talk.

5. Read ”The Bush Agenda”, and ”The Tyranny of Oil” by Antonia Juhasz to better understand the politics of oil, the world’s most powerful industry, in order to make it accountable.

6. Attend the June 19th Richmond Planning Commission meeting, at 6:30 p.m., at Council Chambers, City Hall, 1401 Marina Way South, Richmond, CA.

U Utah Phillips

We in LAGAI join the rest of the Bay Area progressive community in expressing our sadness over the loss of Bruce “Utah” Duncan Phillips, who died May 23.  He was a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and popular radio host on KPFA.  He believed in the power of direct action, self-identifying as an anarchist. He often promoted the Industrial Workers of the World in his music, actions, and words.

No ICE for Farmworker

On May 28, governor shwarzenegger had another photo op with United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriquez, as they walked into the funeral for 17 year old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, who died from heat illness on May 16.

“I can not emphasize this strongly enough: companies that fail to protect worker safety will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law..Every employer or labor contractor in every corner of the state of California will face the same scrutiny – obey the law or be shut down. Worker safety from heat illness must and will be protected in California,” schwarzenegger said.

Maria, who was in her first trimester of pregnancy, died on May 16 as a result of working nine and a half hours in the sun in 95 degree heat in a field near Lodi. She  started trimming vines at 6:00 a.m. on May 14 on a field owned by West Coast Grape Farming. She was working for Merced Farm Labor (MFL).  At 3:40 p.m. Maria collapsed. This was her third day working for MFL. Earlier in the day she had complained of feeling dizzy, a symptom of heat illness. According to news stories, the only water in the field was a 10 minute walk from where people were working, and they were discouraged from taking time to get water. The first break period was at 10:30, over four hours after the start of the shift.

At 3:40, when Maria passed out, the foreman told Florentino Bautista, her co-worker and boyfriend, to sit with her in a hot van in the sun. About twenty minutes later, the foreman had them driven to a store to get rubbing alcohol. When that failed to revive her, they finally drove her to a community clinic, where they decided she needed to be taken to a hospital. The foreman told Bautista to tell the hospital she hadn’t been working, that she had been jogging. When she was finally seen at Lodi Memorial Hospital, two hours after she collapsed, her temperature was 108. First her 2 month old fetus died, and two days later, she died.

The United Farm Workers led a four-day march to protest the death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez from June 1 through June 4.

So what is the “scrutiny” that the governor affirms all employer’s will face? In 2006, Merced Farm Labor was cited by Cal/OSHA for violations of the heat illness standard. They were fined $2250. They never paid the fines, and apparently never changed their practices. The mighty sword of the Cal/OSHA heat illness regulation requires only that employers provide training on heat illness and emergency procedures to employees and supervisors, provide an adequate supply of water, and provide access to a shaded area for “a preventative recovery period” of a minimum of five minutes, for employees who are suffering from heat illness or believe a recovery period is needed.

During 2005-6, when the regulation was being considered, labor and occupational health advocates urged a much stronger regulation, one that would have required regularly scheduled break periods in the shade or cooled areas and additional break periods during heat waves and for workers new to working in the heat. Breaks are particularly important because people who are working not only absorb heat from the environment, but they generate internal heat due to the work being performed by their muscles.  The labor proposal would also have applied to workers exposed to heat in indoor environments such as glass factories, foundries and metal warehouse buildings with no air conditioning. In addition, it would have required scheduling that avoided working in the highest heat period of the day, and would have required that workers be given time to adjust to working in the heat (called “acclimatization”, a process that increases the efficiency of the body’s cooling mechanisms).

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, which licenses farm labor contractors, has revoked the license of Merced Farm Labor. The county district attorney has announced he will review the Cal/OSHA investigation to consider whether criminal charges should be brought. It appears that MFL may also have violated child labor laws. So far no action has been taken against West Coast Grape Farming, which by the way is partially owned by Fred Franzia of California’s bronco wine co., the producer of “Two Buck Chuck.”

This would be an appropriate time to mention the chronic understaffing of Cal/OSHA and DLSE. Also a good time to mention the governor’s appointment of pro-industry true-believers like Bob Jones to a deputy secretary position in the labor and workforce development agency, the umbrella agency that oversees Cal/OSHA and DLSE. A good time to mention his reappointment of right-wing anti-regulation UPS lawyer candace traeger to head the Cal/OSHA appeals board.

But leaving aside the failure of the state regulatory apparatus to enforce even a minimalist heat illness regulation or child labor laws, there are two bigger issues that leave farm workers dying from the heat. The first is that the low wages farm workers are paid are based on piecework, sometimes disguised as a quota system. This means that breaks, perhaps the most important part of controlling heat stress, cannot be meaningfully required, because workers who take breaks lose money they can’t afford to give up.

More importantly, Maria, as an undocumented worker, did not have an alternative to working for the MFLs of california. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ironically, ICE) sees to that. During the weeks before Maria was worked to death, ICE was conducting major sweeps all over the country – perhaps coincidentally timed to coincide with the nationwide immigration actions scheduled for May 1. In Mid-April, they raided Poultry Pride plants in five states, arresting over 300 workers. On May 2, ICE raided 11 Taqueria El Balazo restaurants in the Bay Area, arresting over 60 workers. Then on May 5-6 ICE vans appeared in the vicinity of schools in Oakland and Berkeley. At the same time, a Latino family of four was arrested, and there were rumors that ICE agents had attempted to enter schools. Politicians and school board members went to some of the impacted schools to prevent raids, and some teachers and other school employees provided rides home to students so they wouldn’t have to pass ICE agents. On May 7, students at Berkeley high school walked out to protest the ICE harassment. On May 12 ICE assisted management in a labor dispute in the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant in Postville Iowa by conducting a raid there.

2.5 Amendment Under Attack at Israel Day

When unsuspecting activists from QUIT! and other groups dared to set up a checkpoint dramatization outside the annual Israel in the Gardens celebration on Sunday, June 1, police typically overreacted.  The sergeant in charge decided that our flat cardboard guns looked “too realistic,” and ordered them confiscated.  We suggested that if anyone were confused by the cardboard guns, they would also be confident that the police were in control of the situation, since there were twelve cops surrounding seven demonstrators, but to no avail.  Our poor paper guns were pried from our warm living hands and hauled away in a police van, to be locked away in the police property room as “evidence” of a crime that was not committed.  Police told us we were being cited, but couldn’t say for what.  In fact, we were not cited, but our guns were.  The investigator assigned to the case seemed quite bemused by it, when one of our intrepid activists showed up to get the guns released.  After four hours over two days spent traipsing around the corridors of 850 Bryant (the so-called “hall of justice”), we were joyfully reunited with our paper guns.  The activist then had the enviable task of walking through a building teeming with real guns with what could from a distance be taken for a machine gun.  Fortunately, she made it without further ado.

A spokesman for the National Paper Rifle Association condemned this assault on our freedom, saying, “When paper guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have paper guns.”

Possible Victory in Frameline Campaign

It’s unconfirmed, but it appears that the israeli consulate is not a sponsor or presenter at this year’s LGBT Film Festival, presented by Frameline.  This development follows a campaign begun initiated by QUIT! and joined by members of the Bay Area SWANA community before last year’s festival to get the israeli government out of our festival.  Last year at a meeting with members of the community, directors of the film festival said that they had received much more support than criticism for their decision to continue the relationship they have had with the consulate over some years.  However, the directors seemed concerned when a Palestinian lesbian explained that the inclusion of the consulate sponsorship made her feel excluded from the festival.  Over the last four months, QUIT and other community members got over 400 post cards signed and sent to the festival leadership, urging them to discontinue the relationship.  We are investigating to see if the festival has indeed cut ties to the consulate, and we do not expect that they will acknowledge that they have done so because of community pressure.  However, we note that this year, all four israeli films (one of which appears to have progressive politics) are co-presented by different nonprofit organizations.  We will keep you posted.

Berms Burst in Burma and Beyond

by Kate

It’s nearly three years since New Orleans was nearly wiped out, and levees are bursting in the midwest.  Many of us are watching with interest to see how the disaster plays in Iowa, whose relative whiteness was recently touted when it helped Barack Obama establish his credibility as a presidential candidate.

According to an AP story about the levee breaking in Des Moines, “Authorities knew the aging levee near Birdland, a working-class, racially diverse neighborhood, was the weakest link among the city’s levees. A 2003 Corps report called for nearly $10 million in improvements across Des Moines, but there wasn’t enough federal money to do all the work.

‘This was the first to fail, and we felt it was the one likely to fail,’ said Bill Stowe, the city’s public works director.

Some residents were upset that other areas of city have received more flood-control improvements than Birdland since massive floods hit the area in 1993.”

The immediate crisis is water; today’s news says Cedar Rapids will run out of potable water in four or five days.  Will the federal response be one of malign neglect, as it was three years ago, or will they be airlifting supplies like they should be?

And speaking of airlifts, the floods in the Midwest, along with the fires in California (not to mention the untimely death of Tim Russert) have completely obliterated any news in this country about the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.  As of this week, the official death toll attributable to the team of Cyclone Nargis and the military government is about 78,000 people; 56,000 are still missing and over 19,000 injured.

After two weeks of stonewalling international agencies , the government allowed some 900 aid workers to enter the affected area, about half of whom are still there.  “Nearly one month after one of Asia’s biggest cyclone disasters, the United Nations says fewer than half of the 2.4 million people affected by the cyclone have received help from the government, or international or local aid groups,” reports the British news agency Reuters.

The u.s. government has been among the most vocal critics of the regime’s handling of the disaster, despite obvious and eerie parallels with its own actions in the aftermath of Katrina.  White house press secretary dana perino and defense secretary robert gates criticized the Myanmar government last week for refusing to let u.s. troops in to help deliver aid.  u.s. warships have been off the coast of Myanmar for the last month.  Without excusing the junta’s lack of regard for its people, one can hardly wonder why a government backed by china would think that opening its arms to u.s. soldiers might not be such a good idea.  The fears which led u.s. homeland security to reject offers of help from Cuban doctors three years ago do not seem as well founded.

As Katrina granted the wish of developers who had been rubbing magic lamps for years, trying to rid New Orleans of its pesky poor Black majority, Nargis was a boon to the military government of Myanmar.  The devastated Iriwaddy delta is the home of dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, founder and head of the National League for Democracy, which won 392 out of 492 seats in the Parliament in 1990 but was blocked by the junta from establishing a government.  Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention for 12 of the last 18 years, including the last six years under house arrest.

Agence France Presse reported on May 27, “Despite the junta’s apparent easing over the relief effort, the regime kept a tight lid on the country’s political situation, extending the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by another year.”  They also arrested 20 of her supporters who tried to march to her house.

If you are like me, you’ve heard of Suu Kyi (who can also be called Aung San, which is the same name as her father, General Aung San), but don’t really understand much about who she is.  Her father founded the Burmese military and negotiated Burma’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.  He was assassinated by his rivals in the same year. Aung San Suu Kyi was born in 1945, grew up with her mother, Khin Kyi, and two brothers, was educated in English private Catholic schools in Burma, attended college in London and married a British scholar of Tibet.  Her two sons were both born in England.

According to Wikipedia, “By coincidence, in that year, the long-time leader of the socialist ruling party, General Ne Win, stepped down, leading to mass demonstrations for democratization on August 8, 1988 (8-8-88, a day seen as auspicious), which were violently suppressed. A new military junta took power.

“Influenced by both Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and by more specifically Buddhist concepts, Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratization, helped found the National League for Democracy on 27 September 1988, and was put under house arrest on 20 July 1989. She was offered freedom if she left the country, but she refused.

“The NLD is distinct from the NLD-LA (National League for Democracy-Liberated Areas), which operates in the Thai-Burma border areas and abroad. However, the NLD-LA advocates the position of the NLD in calling for a tripartite dialogue between the SPDC, the NLD, and representatives of the ethnic minority groups of Burma.”

The military rulers changed the name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989.  Opposition groups continue to use the name “Burma”, since they do not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling military government.  Various ethnic groups choose not to recognize the name because the term Myanmah has historically been used as a label for the majority ethnic group rather than for the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded a Congressional Medal of Freedom by the u.s. last year and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

The government held the ratification vote on the new constitution, aimed at solidifying its power, on May 10, just one week after the cyclone devastated the Irawaddy delta region.

“The [NLD] denounce[d] the regime’s claim that more than 92 percent of voters had endorsed a new constitution in the wake of the cyclone, calling the vote a ‘sham’ that was not free and fair.” AFP reported.

In a further echo of Katrina, relief workers have charged the Myanmar government with evicting people from shelters and relief camps, giving them just six dollars and two small portions of rice to return to their ruined villages.  Other storm victims were forced out of schools so that classes could resume last week, Amnesty said.

Last fall, as activists commemorated the second anniversary of the disaster in Louisiana, FEMA was quietly stepping up its closure of the mobile home parks where some survivors had been housed, leaving the residents with nowhere to go.  In contrast to the situation in Myanmar, however, half of the poor, elderly and disabled residents of New Orleans who were displaced by the storm have been unable to return as of March 2008.

Act Against Torture: Shame on Yoo

150 people protested outside u.c. berkeley law school (Boalt Hall) graduation on May 17, demanding that the university fire professor john yoo, author of several justice department memos legitimizing the use of torture by u.s. interrogators.  yoo, a tenured professor at boalt since 1999, took a leave of absence from teaching to work in the office of legal counsel to the justice department from 2001 to 2003.  Many graduates and their families supported the protest by wearing orange ribbons inside the Greek Theater.

Act Against Torture and other groups will be continuing the campaign to oust yoo when school resumes in the fall.  Meanwhile, AAT is planning its annual fourth of july guerrilla theater in san francisco on – you got it – july 4.

For more info see

Don’t Miss :
“All My Life”, a film by Maher Sabry
Sunday June 22
8:30 p.m.
Victoria Theater

Epic in length but intimate in scope — and certainly the most daring and sexually explicit portrait of homosexual life in Egypt yet put on screen — Maher Sabry’s film evocatively details the tribulations of 26-year-old Rami, an accountant and dance student living in Cairo. Rami’s boyfriend, Waleed, has just ended their relationship in order to get married. His best girlfriend Dalia is leaving Egypt for San Francisco. And his doctor pal Kareem is pestering him to be more involved in the city’s quasi-underground gay community.

As Rami pursues his own romantic path of one-night stands with closet cases and fetishizing tourists, Kareem is arrested in a police raid on a floating discotheque called the Queen Boat (based on an actual incident in 2001, which catalyzed gay Egyptians and a variety of international human rights organizations into action)

In his ambitious profile of the multifaceted world of his main character, Sabry’s wide-reaching story also includes a devout man living upstairs from Rami, who is trying to quell his longing for women, and an unhappily closeted kid named Mina, who lives across the way. All of these characters are portrayed with palpable compassion — and often in various states of undress — with a variety of dramatic denouements.
A fascinating, if dispiriting, portrait of the current situation for gay Egyptians, All My Life represents a bold cinematic step forward and sets the benchmark for future explorations. — ROD ARMSTRONG

co-presented by Arab Film Festival, Queer Jihad and South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers


Rally for Healthcare Minus the Insurance Industry
Healthcare - Yes! Insurance Companies - No!
Support HR 676 and SB 840
June 19, Noon – 1:30 p.m., Moscone Center, SF
During the American Health Industry Convention

JROTC Must Go!

The SF school board is holding a special meeting June 17 at which they are expected to vote to stop giving physical education (PE) credit for JROTC classes. This will be a significant victory, although only partial, for the counter-reecruitment movement. Many students take JROTC to avoid taking PE, so JROTC enrollment will decline significantly.

The board is making this change both in response to our campaign, and as a result of changes in state law tightening PE requirements. JROTC instructors, all retired military officers, do not have certification to teach PE


Of course, we would much prefer that the school board end JROTC completely, now.

JROTC would be gone today if the board held to its original December 2006 resolution.

We know that the military will do everything in its power to keep JROTC and military recruiters in our schools. Right now the pro-JROTC forces are circulating an initiative petition for the November ballot, asking voters to declare themselves in favor of keeping JROTC and the military in our schools, despite the ongoing illegal and immoral war in Iraq.

JROTC must go!



Monday, June 23, 2008
7:00 pm -9:00 pm
Location: Lakeside Park Garden Center at Lake Merritt
666 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland,
Sponsored by Stop the Spray- East Bay and Pesticide Watch


Abraham Lincoln Brigade

by Julie

In February 1936, a left wing “Popular Front” government was elected in Spain, establishing a new Republic. Five months later, general Francisco Franco and the military forces of Spain rebelled against this government.  With the financial and material support of fascist dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Salazar (from Portugal), Franco’s troops marched across Spain. Together with bomb attacks from the air, they devastated the countryside, killing thousands of people. By November, Madrid was under siege.

Anti-fascists around the world, including in the u.s. urged support of the legally elected ‘Loyalists’, while their governments urged neutrality, hoping that if the fascists won in Spain, there wouldn’t be another world war.  Britain, France, Germany and Italy formed a ‘Non Intervention Committee’ to prevent military supplies from reaching either side.  The end result of this Committee was that Hitler and Mussolini still sent arms and troops to help Franco and the rest of the countries didn’t send anything to anyone.  The u.s. had more than one reason not to support the government in Spain. The Popular Front coalition of Republicans, Socialists and Communists was seen as synonymous with Russia, a threat to american investments and trade.

The USSR was the only country to send military aid to the new Republic. The International Brigades (IB) were part of a plan by the Russian government to send a volunteer foreign army to strengthen Spanish forces and defend Madrid. In Nov. 1936, the first IB fighters arrived in Spain.

Anti-fascists in the u.s. quickly organized public support for Spain. Communists, Socialists, Labor leaders and many unaligned people raised thousands of dollars to send overseas in direct defiance of the “moral embargo” imposed by Roosevelt’s administration.

The American Communist Party (CPUSA) started recruiting for volunteers to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (ALB), part of the IB.  People joined the ALB for many different reasons, both political and personal, but they were all anti-fascists – resisting the institutionalized violence against the socially, culturally and sexually different; hoping to stop the spread of the purification policies of Nazism.

In some ways, the IBs came to symbolize future possibilities. The ALB was racially mixed, the 1st time in u.s. history that Black and white people would fight together as equals. On the other hand, women, both Black and white, were only recruited as nurses or for support services, reflecting to the socially conservative gender norms of the day. The view of gay people was also similar to the views of the time, made more repressive by the policies of the CPUSA.  The official line was that homosexuality was a “bourgeois deviation that derails from the main task – political change”. In the IB’s, ‘don’t tell, don’t act’ was the rule.  There were, of course, many gay volunteers in the ALB but they had to be very closeted. 

To me, it is an incomprehensible contradiction. The Lincolns were known to have a huge sense of loyalty and responsibility to each other as comrades, during the war and for years after, and to their anti-fascist cause. Yet the prejudice and mistrust against their gay comrades took an awful toll, especially when added to the prejudice of society as a whole.  There is very little written specifically about gay people in the ALB.  Bill Aalto and David McKelvey White, 2 gay men in the ALB, were both in leadership in Spain and when they came home.  Both committed suicide in the 1950’s and only a few close friends even knew why.

By the end of 1938, the fascists had won and the International Brigades were withdrawn. Franco remained in power until he died in the 1970’s. There were 2800 american volunteers including 80 women. Nearly one third were killed and almost everyone who survived had been wounded at least once. Many of the veterans remained activists all their lives, fighting against support for Franco, challenging the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950’s and later being involved in the Civil Rights Movements, raising money for the Sandinistas and marching against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. They “lost the war…but not their ideology”  (Milton Wolfe, last commander of the ALB) (Another popular saying was “They won the war but we had better songs.”)

This article doesn’t begin to cover all the aspects – political and otherwise - of the war in Spain or of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. For many more details, see Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade by Peter N. Carroll or Spanish Civil War. A very Short Introduction by Helen Graham.

“It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees” La Pasionaria AKA Delores Ibarruri, a member of the Spanish Communist Party

Don’t let go!

by lisa

One of the most critical moments in history of thought and/or cultures were those moments when some segments of “humanity” (or whatever we want to call this species) began to believe that they could divorce themselves from the rest of the living world and not only use the bountiful resources of this living planet but go much further to exploit and dominate all other species. Of course some cultures never went through this split and continued to see the reality that we are but one part of the web of life on this planet.  Unfortunately, at this point in human history the split is well entrenched and the dominant paradigm worldwide.  This worldview allows some humans to trash the world believing our trash and greenhouse gases won’t come back to bite us in the ass (or choke us or drown us) later.

Dedicated ultraviolet readers will remember a recent reference to the “plastic garbage island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean” in this column. It has come to my attention that many well-meaning radical activists are not taking this and other threats from our everyday pollution and trash seriously enough. Therefore, I am dedicating this edition to a more detailed look at plastic garbage, including balloons, and their impact on the environment. 

Plastic, including balloons released into the air eventually kill birds and other marine life including turtles and whales: from swallowing to entanglement. These facts have been known for decades.

For the latest information on balloons and impacts to wildlife, check out the UK Marine Conservation Society that just launched a new campaign regarding balloon releases (“Don’t let go”) and has assembled a lot of the data and some very disturbing photos. .  They also explode the industry-sponsored myth that latex balloons are “biodegradable” and therefore not a problem.  While the balloons may degrade into smaller pieces eventually but they degrade more slowly in seawater and persist once in the gut of a bird, turtle, whale or dolphin. Moreover, even a small piece of a balloon can block the digestive track of a small animal.  In addition, the balloons transport the long balloon strings (many of them are tied with plastic ribbons as well which don’t degrade and are difficult to cut through with a beak) far and wide where they can tangle up and kill wildlife.

It turns out that the release of balloons (black or in the colors of the Palestinian flag) were chosen by Palestinians as a tool to express their outrage on the 60-year anniversary of Israel and that the impacts to wildlife were raised by many people (including an email writing campaign to the Palestinian consulate) these concerns were ignored by those in Palestine as well as some of the local groups here in the bay area.  While LAGAI completely support the rights of the Palestinian to protest and many of us also participated in the protests at the 60-year anniversary, the use of balloons in this way ignoring the impacts to wildlife made us sick and angry.  

As the LA times reported a few years ago in an article about plastics and wildlife, particularly migratory birds and other marine life:

“This is pretty typical,” said Klavitter, who is stationed at the atoll for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We often find cigarette lighters, bucket handles, toothbrushes, syringes, toy soldiers — anything made out of plastic.”

Check out the complete article and the accompanying photo   If you have a strong stomach you might also want to check out these sites for more information and links to many articles on the plastics and the marine environment.

None of us are perfect at this and our society is currently set up to encourage maximum waste and maximum trash. So what is a good political activist to do? Reduce reuse recycle.  Carry a refillable water bottle and your own cup with you wherever you go, refuse plastic bags, and reduce the number of plastic tubs and bottles that you purchase, finally, responsibly dispose of any plastic you do use, and don’t let go of balloons or other plastic trash wherever you are!


The MOCHA Column

by Chaya and Deni with waggles from Sparky

MOCHA COLUMN QUIZ: Match the slogan with the organization

1. Forward into the past
2. Supportive, involved, committed, diverse, joyful, proud (with the rainbow flag as background)
3. Fruit forward makeover
4. United by pride, bound for equality

    a. 2008 LGBT Parade slogan
    b. Comcast
    c. UltraViolet
    d. Strawberry Shortcake doll (see Bits & Pieces below)

Skip to next paragraph


My Brother is an Only Child (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

A bunch of us went to see this movie about a leftist working class family in Italy, set in the politically turbulent time of the1960s and 70s. From the writers of “The Best of Youth” (a big hit a few years back), the story is about 2 brothers. Manrico takes a job with his left-leaning father at the local factory and becomes an activist, while his younger brother Accio is kicked out of the seminary and falls in with a gang of fascists. Numerous conflicts ensue. The film focused on the characters and events in their lives, but didn’t show the nature of the government or why the social unrest of the times spurred the formation of the Red Brigades. Kate didn’t like that it took an ex-fascist to save the day. The pop songs in Italian were fun, and one particularly entertaining scene features a performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in which the music students revised the words to better suit their leftist politics. An interesting film.

The Visitor (reviewed by Deni)

This movie, by director Tom McCarthy (of “Station Agent” which we liked) is worth seeing despite its [major] flaws. The cinematography of NYC makes you want to hop on the next plane, carbon footprint and cost be damned. Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) as a depressed and disillusioned white Connecticut college professor, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) as a Syrian musician, Zainab (Danai Gurira) as his Senegalese artist girlfriend, and Mouna (Hiam Abbass) as Tarek’s distraught mother all do an excellent job of acting. The story, however, whose subtext is unfortunately yet another version of how the “vibrancy” of people of color can turn life around for a despairing white guy, is varyingly moving, enraging, and annoying. As the plot develops to focus on Tarek’s unwarranted arrest and subsequent ICE lock-up in an immigration center, it achieves more urgency and some room for Tarek and Zainab to more deeply develop as characters, and for viewers to see the pain and destruction the ICE policies can cause. But when Mouna comes and becomes a romantic interest for Walter, things go downhill again. Walter reclaims his soul at the movie’s end, drumming in the subway, yet the lives of all three immigrants have been dismantled and destroyed. I wanted at least a scene of an immigration rally, some way of portraying that along with this fascist movement of deportations, there is resistance. As the Black Panthers used to say, “Revolution has come, time to pick up the …” drum? But the movie runs to personal transformation, not activist change. Which leaves people, who may have had their eyes opened by the film to these terrible immigration injustices, to do what exactly?

The Life Before Her Eyes (reviewed by Deni)

This movie, starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood as older and younger versions of the same person, is based on a Columbine killing prototype. The drama is supposed to lie in the experience of two best friends who witnessed it and the aftermath for one of them. Not that you were considering seeing it, but just in case – don’t. It was really awful, varying between emotionally vapid, overwrought, shallow, contrived and manipulative, with a constant replaying of gratuitously violent scenes. The most interesting part was when Claire leaned over to tell me that the other best friend, played by Eva Amurri, was Susan Sarandon’s daughter. I am usually a strict no-talker in the movies, but this was a welcome relief from the screen. But hey, it had been such a tough week that I wasn’t even sorry I went. Still, if you have a tough week, find something else.

Roman de Gare (reviewed by Chaya)

Longtime French director Claude Lelouch’s comedy-drama takes its time as it introduces characters, throws them into various situations and cleverly manipulates them and the audience. Who is the escaped serial killer? Who is the missing husband? Is the young woman Huguette in trouble as she tries to deceive her family? Is the stranger she picks up good or bad? And what about the Danielle Steel-type novelist (played by Fanny Ardant) and her enigmatic ghostwriter? Written, produced and directed by Lelouch, he allows the twists and turns of the story to unravel in a suspenseful and at times provocative way. The media made a big deal about how sexy and seductive Ardant is for a woman of her age (she was 58 when the movie was made), and how an American movie would never have done that. Are the French less ageist? Well filmed with excellent acting by Ardant, Dominique Pinon as the mysterious stranger and Audrey Dana as Huguette, and nice touches throughout such as the pop songs by Gilbert Bécaud. It’s not super deep, but it’s definitely fun and well done.

The Ballast (reviewed by Deni)

The one movie I saw at the SF Film Festival was an excellent one. Written and directed by Lance Hammer, it was beautifully filmed in the Mississippi Delta (magnificent opening shot with birds) with excellent acting throughout. A compelling and moving story about the lives of a small group of family and friends/enemies, it’s well worth seeing if you can.

Further Thoughts on There Will Be Blood (guest reviewed by Cole in the February issue)

We received Ultraviolet reader Barney Jones’ comments on our guest review by Cole too late to include in the last issue of UltraViolet. (Hey thanks, Barney, we love getting mail, infrequent as it is!) Barney was puzzled by our review, saying that oil man Plainview and preacher Sunday are really 2 sides of the same evil coin: Plainview represents the dangers of capitalism and Sunday represents the dangers of religion. “Given the nature of the film, I would have thought that UltraViolet would have praised the film rather than dismiss it as simply ‘boring and violent.’” Reviewer Cole replies: “Thanks for sharing but I still want my $10 back.” Any other readers want to comment?


Who Was in That Focus Group?: So you’re American Greetings Properties and you want to update your Strawberry Shortcake doll and cartoon character without making the horrendous mistake Mattel made in 1993 when it introduced “Earring Magic Ken.” You remember him — he had a pierced ear, blond highlights, a leather vest and a purple mesh t-shirt, but oddly enough Mattel wanted him to stay in the closet. Seems like Strawberry Shortcake is also having an identity crisis, she no longer connects with today’s girls (she’s old-fashioned, she eats too much candy, she wears bloomers for heaven’s sake!) even though she still brings in the big bucks ($2.5 billion in revenue since 2003). American Greetings has given her what it calls a “fruit-forward makeover.” (We’re confused, wasn’t that Earring Magic Ken?) She now prefers fresh fruit to gumdrops, and talks on her cellphone instead of brushing her calico cat, Custard. Or is Custard going to be renamed Yogurt?

Vatican Says It’s OK to Believe in Aliens: (This item is dedicated to Deeg) The Vatican’s chief astronomer says that believing in aliens does not contradict faith in god. The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to the pope, said that the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life beyond earth, even intelligent ones. In an interview headlined “The extraterrestrial is my brother,” published last month by the Vatican newspaper, Funes said that ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on god’s creative freedom. “Aliens would still be god’s creatures.” Our comment: Has there been a close encounter recently in Rome? Sounds like they know something they’re not saying ...

Lesbians Say It’s Not OK to Be Lesbians: Several citizens of Lesbos have sued a gay group, hoping to prevent the gay women from calling themselves lesbians in an effort to reclaim the word lesbian’s geographical meaning of women from Lesbos (hail, Sappho). The Guardian reports: “We are very upset that, worldwide, women who like women have appropriated the name of our island,” said Dimitris Lambrou, a magazine publisher who is one of those bringing the complaint with other islanders. “Until 1924, according to the Oxford English dictionary, a Lesbian was a native of our isle,” he said. (Hey! He’s not even a woman!) “Now, because of its new connotations, our womenfolk are unable to call themselves such and that is wrong.” The court hearing coincides with a highly charged national debate in Greece over gay rights. Last week, police intervened when members of the far-right Golden Dawn group attacked gay pride marchers in the biggest ever gay pride parade in Athens. Thousands of supporters marched through the capital chanting “it is our right,” but were pelted with eggs, flour and yogurt by the group. Yikes!

Utah Students Undergo Mock Military Deployment: The AP reported recently that a group of elementary school students at Hill Air Force Base in Utah got to step into the boots of soldiers and experience a mock deployment. The students, mostly from Hill Field Elementary and with at least one active military parent, went through a mock deployment complete with mobility bags, dog tags and gas masks. Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Lyon explained that “exposing the kids to the process eases their fears about what happens to their parents.” Great, let’s indoctrinate them as early as we can.

Kirk Out: When Mr. Sulu (George Takei) marries longtime love Brad Altman in September, several Star Trek castmates will participate in the ceremony: Walter Koenig (Chekov) will be the best man and Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) will be the matron of honor. Leonard Nimoy (Spock) will be among the 200 guests. But where will Captain Kirk be? Not invited. Apparently William Shatner did not treat Takei and most of the cast very well. We of course were invited (as close friends and major media film critics), but declined to attend lest our star-gazing be interpreted as pro-marriage. 



Okay, You Got It, Now Who Wants It?

by Daniel

What did Susan Sarandon say to Tim Robbins on the way to the wedding chapel? Nothing. They’re not married!

What do LAGAI-Queer Insurrection and the right wing have in common? Nothing. Which is why  we’re going to have to spend time and energy fighting an anti-gay ballot initiative seeking to outlaw gay on gay marriage in california. The struggle for queer liberation is pushed to the wayside in the rush to the altar. In the meantime, maybe all these state weddings aren’t such a bad thing. Schwarzeneggar can start taxing the rice thrown at all these ceremonies. It’s not being used as a food item. That way we can help secure the prison budget.

 Many of us have dedicated ourselves to getting the state out of, and keeping the state out of, our lives. Part of what queer liberation is recognizes humans as humans and not units in a state ordered nuclear family. However people arrange themselves romantically or sexually or economically or  whateverually should not require approval from a justice of the peace.  And what about the people, the human beings, who don’t get to be part of a nuclear family? By its nature a nuclear family is exclusive. It’s the fundamental building block of this very horrible society in which we try to live. It’s used to dole out privilege and if you don’t have a membership card, you’re fucked..

And we can’t even get a quid pro quo. It would be less galling if neo-straights were required to include in the recitation of their boy scout vows certain other provisions. “I promise to honor and obey, to have and to blah, blah, blah...and I promise healthcare for all, I promise the abolition of racism, I will not support the death penalty, I will end sexism, I will seek economic justice, I will not give in to heterosexism (and I get the irony), I will not go on my honeymoon in an SUV, I will not...

Queer liberation is a struggle for human rights. We are not alone on this planet, we are a part of it.  Queer liberation stands for freedom for Palestinians. It is the struggle to end racism. We struggle against (or through) capitalism. And now the Wedding Party is crashing our movement. They are taking our beautiful liberation and forcing us to register at city hall. They will force us to buy wedding tribute at the HRC registry (certified fair trade free). They are taking everything and they tell us it’s for the better.

By the time you read this June 16 weddings will have begun. Four lesbians in New York will still be fighting for their freedom. Being poor will still be a criminal offense. War and planetary destruction will still be national policy. Married gay people will be taking children away from the children’s cultures for adoption. After all this, congratulations.


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 Dear Crabby,

HELP!  Ever since the ca supreme court approved gay marriage I’ve been besieged by straight coworkers and distant relatives who’ve “been thinking about” me.  Crabby, how do I tactfully explain that, just because I’m a lesbian, it doesn’t mean I’m rushing down to city hall to tie the knot (which assumes that I’m in a couple, which I’m not, which makes their “thinking of” of me all the weirder).  Will I be insulting these people if I tell them that, to me, gay marriage is to straight marriage as chanukah is to christmas: like being invited to a party I don’t really want to go to and hanging out with people who feel better about celebrating because I’ve been included in their celebration.  Would they think me ungrateful if I suggested that state sanctioned recognition of my right to couple isn’t enough, that I’m holding out for the “and justice for all” part? 

Help me out Crabby,

Bent Out of Shape

Dear Bent,

I’m with you; I hate it when people are just happy to get their piece of the pie.  It’s none of the state’s business who, if anyone, I couple with and access to healthcare, immigration status and any of the other many privileges state sanctioned marriage bestows should be accorded to people regardless of marital status.  (As to your unhealthy obsession with being tactful, inoffensive and seemingly grateful, Crabby says, “fuck it”.)



Dear Crabby,

I sent my coworker “Emily” an invitation to my wedding. (My partner Pat and I have been together 13 years and feel that we’re still not complete). Emily still hasn’t responded to our invitation. She knows how important this is to me. I bring it up every time I see her. How can I let her know that her deliberate indifference is ruining the most important day of my life?

Crushed in Crockett

Dear Crushed,

With friends like Pat, who needs Emilys?



Mr. And Mrs. Richard Cheney
are happy to denounce
the marriage of
their daughter Mary
to Candace Gingrich
June 16, 2008