In This Issue

Obama Drops Balls in PrideCorp Scandal
Pride, We Hardly Knew Ye
Janine Abernathy
It Was a Big Mistake
Shulamith Firestone
Gay is the Loneliest Number – A Song for Bradley Manning
Our Inside Voices – Writings by Prisoners
  Act Alive
  State of Georgia Black Market: Inside the Georgia D.O.C
   All I Want
  CIM Chino
  Dear Ultra Violet
  Trans Folks Down for the Fight
  Brutality By Proxy: sex as a weapon
  My Pain
The MOCHA Column
Fuck Monsanto
Short nights of stars; keeping the lights on
California Prisoners to Resume Hunger Strike


Obama Drops Balls in PrideCorp Scandal

In the latest scandal to hit the Obama White House, Verizon has leaked phone records from former Obama campaign worker Risa Billions to the Internal Revenue Service.  Billions is now President of San Francisco PrideCorp, Inc. LLC.  The leaked phone records indicate that Billions contacted an Associated Press reporter to determine who released plans by Billions and the PrideCorp board to lease drones to spy on activists supportive of military whistleblower Bradley Manning.

“After all those crazed people droning on at our Bored meeting, we realized we need some drones of our own,” said Billions.  “And we got a great deal on drones from this Israeli manufacturer called SodaStream.”

Verizon spokesperson Ruth Fink said that Billions’ records were released to the IRS as part of its investigation of applications for 501c(4) status by affiliates of the Tea Party.  “But the IRS explained that these people were Tea Baggers, not Tea Partiers, and they were not interested,” said Fink.

“Mistakes were made,” said PrideCorp CEO Potted Plant.  “We’re not interested in defending the constitution.  We just like to put balls in our mouths.”

In order to avoid any further misunderstandings, Billions announced that the committee has changed the slogan of this year’s PrideCorp Corparade from “Embrace Encourage Empower” to “Brace Duck and Cower.”

House Speaker John Bouehner pounced on the new information to score points against the White House.  “This just proves that once again, Obama is dropping the balls,” Boehner said.


Bradley Manning
Grand Marshal not Court Martial
Sunday, June 30
Official Contingent meets at 10 a.m. at Howard and Beale
Direct actions are also being planned, email for more info.

Who Can’t Love a Gala
STOP Frameline Pinkwashing
Protest Frameline 37’s Opening Night Gala
Thursday, June 20, 10:00pm until 11:30pm
Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison (between 1st & 2nd), San Francisco
We'll have a checkpoint, signs, banner
Bring noisemakers, instruments, glow sticks, creative energy

Pride, We Hardly Knew Ye

by Deeg

“Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform -- and countless others, military and civilian alike -- will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride,” – Lisa L.Williams, President, Pride Board, April 26, 2013.

I happened to coincidentally be in New York when the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots was commemorated with a big march in Manhattan. Newly returned to the city, and new to the movement, I walked along with some friendly drag queens. There wasn’t much of a hint of the mainstream gays, who would emerge less than a year later to try to take back the gay identity from the gay liberation fronts and the radical lesbians who were busy allying with the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, the Black Panthers, Young Lords Party, women’s liberation, Palestine, and every other liberation struggle in the world. The (mainstream) Gay Activist Alliance was champing at the bit for assimilation and the democratic party. And yet, even they weren’t supporting the u.s. military, or its system of “justice.”

In San Francisco, there were similar marches for lesbian and gay liberation. Even in 1979, the first time I attended the march in SF and during the “Castro Clone” era, these were huge mass demonstrations for visibility and liberation. With no barricades to interfere, we would walk for a while with one group, walk back, catch up with another. It felt pretty similar to how the Dyke March does now, except with more political contingents. Although even by 1979, there were huge bar floats, and lots of drinking men. And not a little bit of anti lesbian sexism, but I digress.

By the mid 1980’s LAGAI was having to organize liberation contingents – a sad commentary on what used to be a march for liberation. Barricades appeared, first at Market and Powell, and by the end of the 90’s completely lining the parade route preventing entry or exit. PrideTM, already a major tourism event, was well on its way to becoming San Francisco’s biggest parade, towering over Memorial Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Chinese New Year. The demands by the city for insurance and facilities kept increasing.

The bureaucratization of PrideTM was well on its way when sometimes LAGAI member Larry Burnett was named co-chair in 1987, and convinced us all to go to a meeting to vote for a progressive chair for the next round. We didn’t know there would be warring dyke motorcycle clubs there as well. (Larry was a less-than-historic chair, having disappeared a few weeks before the march.)

Activists had a brief resurgence in the march, as tens of thousands of gay men died of AIDS. ACT-UP stopped the parade a couple years with die-ins  and other disruptions. In 1998, after PrideTM announced plans to charge money for the festival, LAGAI and friends organized a “Crash the Parade” campaign, wheat-pasting the city for two months with 20 different posters. PrideTM relented on the charge, which is now “voluntary.” Payment earns you a plastic necklace that looks just as suspiciously like it’s meant to be marijuana as PrideTM looks like it’s meant to be gay liberation. 

We were not surprised, therefore, though we were still appalled, when Lisa L. Williams, the president of the board of PrideTM issued the nefarious statement quoted above. We went to the demonstrations organized at the PrideTM office. We went to the community meeting organized on May 30 in which the community could finally speak back to the Board.

It looked like nothing so much as a meeting of the Oakland City Council, where the community had showed up in force to talk about the police shooting of Alan Blueford or the proposed youth curfew. At the front were a group of incredibly inattentive and bored looking members. SFPD were in evidence at the corner, and volunteers were straight-facedly policing the doors and hallways of the MCC church where the meeting was held. The community poured out its heart and soul, talked movingly about the history of the queer movement, about our anti-militarist roots, the army’s torture of Bradley Manning. All three members of the log-cabin republicans attended, and were the only ones to support the action of the PrideTM board in removing Bradley as community grand marshall. At the end of the three and a half hour meeting, the board did nothing but promise a decision within a week. And though a little late, the board did issue a decision on June 7and that decision was that they would take no further action. They also congratulated themselves that the SF human rights commission had decided they had no jurisdiction to deal with the complaint that PrideTM had discriminated against Bradley, even though the parade gets $85K per year from the city. In declining jurisdiction the HRC cited court decisions regarding the Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) Association that trace back to the 1995 u.s supreme court decision that the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade could exclude a queer group from participating. 

The Trans March has announced that they will be honoring Bradley as “one of our own.” The Dyke March put out a statement, “Not Proud of Pride.”  “…No matter who you believe should be Grand Marshal or what you think about Bradley Manning’s case, the SF Pride Committee’s unconditional support of the military should make your skin crawl. The Dyke March has always opposed U.S. militarism, rejected corporate sponsors, and supported people who risk their lives to further freedom, transparency, and democracy.”

Many of the activists who have been organizing against PrideTM’s actions against Bradley are encouraging people to join PrideTM so that they can vote for a new board, and presumably a new CEO and president. They are having trouble joining, because without announcing it, Pride changed to procedure from an on-line application to one requiring mailing in. You have to register now, because the vote will be in September, and you have to be a member for 60 days to vote.

Meanwhile, there will be a big official Bradley Manning contingent in PrideTM this year. Despite requests that the contingent lead-off the parade, PrideTM has made no commitment to move the contingent any further forward than its after-noon start last year. In honor of our grand tradition of breaking into our march, there may well be activists who start sooner. Look for us, and join in near Sansome and Market, in time to finish the route, and circle back to the official contingent.

Janine Abernathy

Janine Abernathy, an African American lesbian veteran, died in Oakland on May 10. She was 49.

Janine was born in Oakland, and joined the navy in 1983. She worked in cryptology, which is how she met Daniel. They had many good times in the gay subculture. Janine survived the particular gay hunt that got Daniel kicked out for being gay, and for refusing to name names. After 6 years in the navy, Janine went to Howard University, where she studied civil engineering. She then returned to Oakland where she worked for the city in urban planning.

Janine was married to Fred while in the navy “the worst beard ever” says Daniel.   One of Janine’s supervisors hinted that people were talking about her being a lesbian and her “mannish” behavior.  Fred responded in true Nellie fashion “she not like that.”  Daniel also remembers the time Janine pounded on his door in the middle of the night, because she needed him to accompany her with a new hot date.  Daniel had to hang out with the hot date’s straight friend to cover for Janine.

The rest of us met Janine during our anti-war and counter recruitment work. She joined our “We Like Our Queers Out of Uniform” contingent, and some of her experiences in the navy are discussed in her article, “It Was a Big Mistake,” which is reprinted here. Janine was smart and funny, and a very important part of Daniel’s life. One day, she informed him that he was joining her for a trip to the Grand Canyon, and off they went. Daniel offered to drive but she said oh no.  Janine was the butch of that relationship.

Janine suffered from post-traumatic stress from her time in the navy. Although she had, with the help of her sister Jamie, sought help with the VA, she had a very difficult time, and in May, she killed herself.

Janine is survived by her sister Jamie, her niece Imani, and two brothers.

It Was a Big Mistake

an interview with Janine Abernathy
(this interview was conducted in 1990 and originally published in LAGAI’s counterrecruitment packet, “We Like Our Queers Out of Uniform”)

Janine is a 27-year old Black woman from Oakland, CA. She spent six years in the Navy.

I went into the military in 1983, the Navy. I wasn't out-out, but I knew my sexuality. I was eighteen at that point and I was going to clubs and I guess I looked around and I had no place to go and here it's like ok, you have no other options than to go into the military. That's what I did. I went into the Navy, and my first day, I knew it was the wrong decision. I knew I had made a mistake. I saw all these people, they were yelling and screaming and calling us names, and I'm like what have I done to deserve this. It was very intimidating, very threatening. So you know I had no place to go, I couldn't come back. You know, I could go home, but to what? What are you going home to? My mom didn't want me there. I had to have somewhere to go.

Most of the time in the Navy I was afraid. I was afraid someone would find out. I was smart enough at the beginning to know people must not know. But I remember the first time in my boot camp company there were lesbians all around. My company commander was a lesbian. As a matter of fact, after boot camp there was a bit of a scandal and a witch-hunt. I believe seven women were kicked out. Unfortunately what happens when you're in the military is that they make an example out of you. They put you on legal hold. That means you're there for a month being processed out, or someone might be there for six months or eight months on legal hold. During that time, you're ridiculed. Your friends, people you thought were your friends, they abandon you, people are afraid to be seen with you because people might think they are [gay] too.

What was your job? I was an electronic technician-cryptologic. I was technician with a top-secret clearance. I repaired computer systems, cryptologic gear, teletypes, anything usually on a base dealing with electronics. It could be from the light outlet to the microwave to a million-dollar computer system. I was trained in the military to do that.

The best I would probably be able to do outside is to get a job as a copier repair person. Just because the training that I was given is basically black-box troubleshooting, where you can get it down to a certain area, a certain board, but to really work out here in the civilian field, you really have to understand the technology theory. We were given that, but we were given the very basics of that, and it wouldn't get you very far in the outside world.

At the end of my career, I would say I was making good money, but the reason being the fact that I married. It was a marriage of convenience; I married a gay man, and when you're married, you make more money. So at the end of my career, I was making about $1600 a month, which is good money for a sailor. Now, I'm back in school, I'm in Washington, D.C. at Howard University majoring in civil engineering. And it's wild, because it feels like I'm starting my life all over again.

What about racism as you experienced it in the Navy? It definitely exists. I had a situation with this guy, he was an instructor of mine, and I was the only female in my class, it was a very small class, it was a class of six, and he was what you'd call a redneck, a good old boy. And he told me my first day there, you don't belong here, and I'm going to be sure you don't get through here. I made complaints about this man. Everyone was having a difficult time in the course, but for some reason they singled me out, so I just stuck in there. I stuck in there and I made it through his section of the school, and what happened afterward was that they were watching me, the school was watching me, it was like Abernathy has a problem, she has a learning problem. But in fact, I graduated top of my class.

The KKK is there. When I was in boot camp, the KKK was there, when I was in Pensacola, the KKK was there because people bring their shit with them. There was always a group of people you didn't socialize with because they were the good old boys, and you knew what they were about. They were racists and bigots.

Can you tell us more about the anti-lesbian witch hunts that you talked about at the beginning? I guess the most horrible experience for me was when I was in Portugal. I would say I was no different from any other kid. You know when you're young you're wild, you go out to clubs and party and get drunk and you have a good time, the only difference is you have a different sexual preference. Because I think about it today and I wonder, what part did I have to play, and I think about it, and there was no part.

During that time I met a girl, a Portuguese girl, and we started going out and I got called in by OSI, they're like Air Force intelligence. They called me in and they say, "You're known to have relations with a known Portuguese national." And I say "What kind of relations could these be? What kind of national?" and they said, "Well, we can't say her name." And I pretended like I never even heard that gender, "her" and I said "Well I don't know what you're talking about, I can't help you." They said, "Well supposedly you've been selling drugs." It was a set-up. Sure I was sleeping with a known Portuguese national. But anybody could tell you I didn't do drugs. I drank a lot, which all sailors did, but I didn't do drugs and I didn't sell drugs, so it was really a big set-up. They searched my house, they searched my car, they gave me a urinalysis, they called my job. There are no secrets in the military so everyone knew. My reputation was ruined on my job. So I left that and basically I went into hiding for a while.

I knew these two women in Pensacola, Florida. I knew they were lovers and everyone else knew they were lovers. I didn't know them well. They were in different cliques, everyone has their different gay clique. They were softball-playing, beer-drinking, and I was just beer-drinking, girlchasing. So from what I know, they both got orders to Scotland, and I guess they got caught. They got actually caught in the act, and they both were discharged, but the catch was, if you give us names of other gays, we'll give you an administrative discharge. What an administrative discharge is, it really is an honorable discharge. You'd rather have that than a dishonorable discharge, so they gave names. They gave my name, they gave my roommate Ivy's name, and I'm sure they gave a number of other names. And what happens is, they pull you in, and they investigate you and interrogate you. And I had already been pulled in once.

They flew a guy in from Italy, and he interrogated me. You're in a padded room, beforehand they read you your rights, they show you a sheet which you have to sign which shows what you're being accused of. I was being accused of sodomy. The man did his homework so badly, this is how just incompetent NIS naval Investigative Service] is, he said, "So when were you in Edzell, Scotland?" Now this man had complete access to my naval record, and I said, "I was never in Edzell, Scotland. If you had done your homework, you would know I was never in Edzell, Scotland. "And he said, "Well we need to do a polygraph," because he asked me if I was gay, and I said no, I'm not gay. And then I thought about it, and I thought Janine, what are you doing? You're lying. You're going to take a polygraph, and you're lying. So I said, no, I'm not going to take a polygraph.

It was a huge witch-hunt. People were dropping names right and left. The way they convince you to drop names, they say we'll give you a dishonorable discharge. You'll never be able to work, no one will hire you, your career and your life will be destroyed. So they scare kids. They don't know their rights.

At that time I would do security rounds at my job. It was very funny how during all of these investigations, I had a top-secret clearance, and they never pulled my top-secret clearance, so I was still doing the security route. And in the commander's office were these interrogation books on the art of interrogation and how when you're interrogating you lie and you do anything to get the information that you need. So by that time I was an old pro and, honey, they would call me in and my attitude was like, "I can't help you. Sorry, there's nothing I can do for you. You have no proof, you have no pictures, you have nothing in writing, leave me alone."

Why didn't I say yes, and have it all over and the torture and everything? Well, listen to this, at my four years, at my four year point when you're supposed to sign the extension, I went to see a lawyer, and I said, how can I get out? He was a military lawyer, civilian, old guy, and I knew there was a way but he didn't help me. He said, it's a legal binding contract and you know, there's no way to break it. But I could tell he was pro-military, so he didn't help me out. So I just cried and decided to stick the two years out. It had something to do with what my roommate Ivy told me. I was very tired of electronic training school, and all my friends were just dropping out, all the women. I was one of the few women, the only Black woman; I think at the time there were only six Black women in the entire U.S. Navy in the same job grade, and I saw them dropping out and going to different classifications, so I started slacking up. And Ivy told me, she said, "You know what they're going to say, Janine? They're going to say, 'That Black dyke bitch couldn't make it.' That's what they're going to say." And I thought about it, and I looked at her, and I thought, you know, you're right, that's what they're going to say. And I just stuck it out. It's like, no you're not going to get me, you're not going to get me in that way. I'm going to stick this out.

So my orders finally came up, I left Portugal, I went back to Florida, I went to another school and during that whole time I was very low, very closeted, very afraid. When I got back stateside, I didn't socialize with Navy people, I socialized with civilians. Then I got orders back to California. When I got back to California, I was stationed 35 minutes from Oakland, where I came from. I moved back to Oakland, I commuted to work. I didn't tell people about my life. When they asked me questions, I would say none of your business, until my orders came up.

A bit of information, for people who are in the military, I would tell you this, if they don't have anything in writing, if they don't have pictures, if they don't have your lover's testimonial, there's no proof. For those who are thinking about entering the military, you're not free. You're not free to live your own life, you're not free to be a person, you're not free to be real. That's one thing, I felt guilty for six years that I wasn't a real person, that I had to lie on a daily basis about who I was, what I did, just about my entire life.

You sign on the dotted line and all of a sudden, you can't say, but I changed my mind. But really, you can, but you're so young, and you look at these people, they're adults, and you're just a kid, and they're very intimidating. When I first got there, a girl, she refused to get out of bed. She said, I've made a mistake, I want to go home, and she refused to get out of bed. She stayed in bed for two days. But do you know, what I heard, they took her to this holding company, and a month later, she was discharged. But, she was a very strong young girl. She was very strong willed. They yelled at her, and screamed at her and called her all kinds of names, and she had all this peer pressure around her.

What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into the Navy? Knowing what I know now, I would have continued on in school. And too, in my adolescence I was really into the bar scene, and I would have gotten more connected with the gay community, such as support groups, groups for gay youth, very positive, moved out of my mom's place. That was a real unhealthy environment. She thought I was sick and I needed mental help. I was like, no I'm not sick, I just like girls, what's so sick about that? And then I put myself in the same kind of environment. A controlling environment where they labeled me as sick. I've run into people we were stationed with in Portugal, and the ones that are out now are so happy, it's like I'm just so happy to be out, and they have lives. X and Y, who are friends of mine, they're still in, they want to get out, but they're really afraid. The whole time you're in the military, they tell you can't do anything else. Nobody wants you, they're not going to hire you. When I went in, it was a recession, there were no jobs out there. I think it's an irony, it's another recession, and they're probably saying the same thing, nobody wants you, you can't do anything, just living in that closet, telling those lies, hiding. 

Shulamith Firestone

by Deeg

I read in the New Yorker that Shulamith Firestone died in New York last August.

I didn’t know her, I knew of her. We sold her book, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, at It’s About Time (a collective women’s bookstore in Seattle) and later at Mad Woman (a women’s bookstore in Seattle run by a lesbian collective). In this book she argued that the family is the basis of all oppression, and that the fundamental contradiction is the difference in power between men and women. She believed that the oppressive nature of that relationship is the fabric into which are woven all of the oppressions of this society – and she particularly discussed racism and class oppression and exploitation. She analyzed the oppression of children and the oppression of women to be part of the same whole. She said that “romanticism is a cultural tool of male power to keep women from knowing of their condition.” She said that we need a revolution much broader than, but inclusive of, an overthrow of class exploitation. “If there were a word more all-embracing than “revolution,” we would use it.”

In Dialectic, she describes the women’s movement in the u.s. that arose in the context of the industrialization of the 1800’s, and was part of other progressive movements, including abolition and communism. She then describes the “50-Year Ridicule,” the backlash against radical women that started before we “won” the “right to vote.”

I still have the book, if you want to read it. I started reading it soon after it came out in 1970, when I was more or less of a communist and gay liberationist. I finished reading it a couple of years later, when I was an anarcho-communist lesbian separatist. I didn’t agree with all of it at either time, or today, and maybe you won’t either. But her analysis is sharp and even those who now dismiss those old baby boomer “second wave” feminists, might find a lot of interest.

Shulamith, generally called Shulie or Shuley, was born in Ottawa, on January 7, 1945. Her mother was a holocaust survivor. Shulie grew up in Kansas City and St. Louis, and moved to Chicago in the mid-60’s. She was involved in anti-racist and anti-war organizing, and helped to start the Westside Group, a predecessor of Chicago Women’s Liberation. In October 1967 she moved to New York, where she helped found New York Radical Women (NYRW).  She was also a founder of the Redstocking feminist collective, and an editor of “Notes from the First Year,” (1968) and Notes from the Second and Third Years as well.

NYRW attended the counter-inaugural for Richard Nixon and enjoyed all the benefits of the New Left’s sexism, leading her to write a letter to the left in the Guardian, which told male leftists, “We have more important things to do than to try to get you to come around. You will come around when you have to, because you need us more than we need you. . . . The message being: Fuck off, left. You can examine your navel by yourself from now on. We’re starting our own movement.”  

The article in the New Yorker, by Susan Faludi, describes the strife in NYRW that led to Shulie, and others, leaving the group. She became a painter, and in the late 1980’s was diagnosed with mental illness. Her second published book, Airless Spaces, described her life in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Although she had a group of supportive friends, she died alone in her apartment, apparently of natural causes.

Shulie, who strongly supported, and engaged in, separate women’s organizing, believed that the final result of that organizing would be a society in which the social significance of gender would be eliminated. “The end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital difference between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”

Gay is the Loneliest Number – A Song for Bradley Manning

by Kate

You can’t say Bradley Manning didn’t accomplish anything.

He caused state department spokesperson pj crowley to resign rather than defend the administration’s decision to torture Bradley.

He caused the queer antimilitarist movement to come out of hibernation for the first time in about nine years.

And he caused Daniel Ellsberg and other scions of the straight left to say the word “gay” in a positive way (we’re still waiting for “queer”).

His court martial finally began in June, three years after his arrest in Iraq.  On February 28, he pled guilty to ten charges comprising various forms of unauthorized disclosure of information.  The judge, army col. denise lind, accepted terms that would impose a maximum sentence of 16 years for those ten charges. She also ruled that any sentence should be reduced by 112 days because of his treatment at Quantico, which included being deprived of sleep and held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, sometimes naked.

Manning apparently hoped that the judge would dismiss the remaining charges, but she did not, and the military prosecutor declined to drop them.  He remains charged with 12 additional crimes, including aiding the enemy, which could – and likely will – get him a life sentence.  (It could carry the death penalty but the prosecutor thankfully has only asked for life.)  Manning opted for a judge trial rather than a jury.

Bad news for Jason Allen: Manning is now pretty much the best known gay person on the planet.  Debate rages in the pages of the Daily Telegraph and Rolling Stone over whether Bradley is a fitting gay icon or not.  And here in San Francisco, because of the idiotic decision by the Pride Parade to disinvite him as honorary grand marshal, a whole lot more people know about Manning or Pride than did a month ago.  That’s ironic, because until a couple years ago – a full year after Manning’s arrest, the people supporting him didn’t even acknowledge that he was gay.

In the first year of his imprisonment, Democracy Now! did numerous segments on him, including a full hour with his friend and lone visitor, David House.  They interviewed the gay legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about his case several times that year.  None of the interviews included one single mention that he was queer.  Whenever they had a music break during one of their segments, however, the accompanying video would always be the same two pictures. One of them shows Bradley holding a sign calling for “EQUALITY: @ The House @ The Classroom, @ the Battlefield, Everywhere,” decorated with rainbow flags. I knew what that meant, even if Democracy Now! didn’t. The other picture shows Brad – as his friends call him – arm-in-arm and cheek-to-cheek with another guy. The other guy, I now know, was Tyler Watkins, Manning’s ex-boyfriend, who identifies as a drag queen.

Having seen those pictures a couple dozen times, in June of 2011, I asked a friend who worked with Courage To Resist, the GI resistance support network, if he knew if Manning was gay.  My friend was surprised and wondered why I wanted to know.  I said that if he was out, we could potentially mobilize queer people to support him, which would also be an opportunity for queer anti-war organizing.  My friend said it seemed like a good idea, but he had no idea how to get that information.  A couple weeks after that encounter, I heard an announcement for a Bradley Manning Contingent in Pride.  I joined it, and was one of maybe five queer people among a sea of straight people, many from the Revolutionary Communist Party™.  During the endless wait for our appointed marching time (which I think was about 1:00 pm), I texted a friend, “I can’t believe I’m marching in a contingent with a banner quoting Bob Avakian.”  Just for the record, I’ve never been a fan of putting quotes on banners, no matter who they’re from.

I asked a queer activist who is connected with Courage To Resist why they had been so slow to mention the G Word.  She said she wasn’t sure, but speculated they hadn’t wanted to “distract” from his whistleblowing. She also mentioned that the right-wing had recently been using Manning’s sexuality to discredit him.

Indeed, the media continues to do that, faster and more furiously now that his trial has begun.  The first day of the trial, in an article entitled, “Bradley Manning: traitor, whistleblower, victim of Obama's bullying – and a terrible gay icon,” a horrible man named Tim Stanley wrote “Private Manning was a self-absorbed geek who should never have enjoyed the level of access that he did. His personality breakdown was there for all to see – criticizing US policy on Facebook, telling friends, ‘Bradley Manning is not a piece of equipment,’ and even entertaining ‘a very internal private struggle with his gender.’ He told hacker Adrian Lamo that he ‘listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.’ You go, girl.”  I don’t know whether Stanley considers himself gay but I’m saying right now – he isn’t.  And I’ll stick by that!

In July 2011, New York Magazine ran a long, detailed and quite sympathetic article about Bradley.  It chronicles his youth, his alcoholic but loving mother and his often absent military father, his teen years, partly with his mom in Wales and partly with his father and stepmother in Oklahoma, his relationship with Watkins, his decision to become involved with WikiLeaks, and his seduction and betrayal by (ostensibly) bisexual hacker-turned-informant Adrian Lamo.  The author, Steve Fishman, writes:

For Manning, nothing was okay. In ­October 2009, he arrived at Forward ­Operating Base Hammer, a dusty back­water 40 miles from Baghdad. There, Manning felt more isolated than ever—“it’s awfully stressful, lonely.” … An intel analyst sat at his work station and targeted the enemy, reducing a human being to a few salient points. Then he made a quick decision based on imperfect information: kill, capture, exploit, source. Any illusions Manning had about saving lives quickly vanished. At one point, he went to a superior with what he believed to be a mistake. The Iraqi ­Federal Police had rounded up innocent people, he said. Get back to work, he was told. “I was never noticed,” he later said.

Meanwhile, Manning’s concerns about his sexual identity were intensifying. In November 2009, he made contact on the web with a gender counselor back in the States. … ‘Bradley felt he was female,’ the counselor told me. ‘He was very solid on that.’ Quickly, their conversation shifted to the practicalities: How does someone transition from male to female? ‘He really wanted to do surgery,’ the counselor recalled. ‘He was mostly afraid of being alone, being ostracized or somehow weird.’ To the counselor, it was clear Manning was in crisis. ‘I feel like a monster,’ he’d typed on his computer several times. The statement referred partly to his gender struggles but more to his job….He told the counselor about a targeting mission gone bad in Basra. ‘Two groups of locals were converging in this one area. Manning was trying to figure out why they were meeting,’ the counselor told me. On Manning’s information, the Army moved swiftly, ­dispatching a unit to hunt them down. Manning had thought all went well, until a superior explained the outcome. ‘Ultimately, some guy loosely connected to the group got killed,’ the counselor said. To the counselor, it was clear: Manning felt that there was blood on his hands. ‘He was very, very distressed.’”

In response to the article, WikiLeaks published an article saying, “Bradley Manning's sexuality is irrelevant. For anyone who has read the logs purporting to document his confession, his professed motives were plain. If he is guilty of blowing the whistle, he clearly blew the whistle on conscientious grounds. His sexual identity is irrelevant to this. If he did not blow the whistle, his sexuality is equally irrelevant.”

No, WL, it isn’t.  Glenn Greenwald, who recently made headlines by uncovering and reporting the government’s massive data mining of internet and telephone records, said in an interview with the New York Times, “I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life,” he said. “When you grow up gay, you are not part of the system, it forces you to evaluate: ‘Is it me, or is the system bad?’”

Bradley Manning was a gay, geeky kid like many others.  He was a brilliant student, especially at science and math.  He won science fairs in high school.  In the New York Magazine article, his father said he rarely talked to Bradley while he lived with him, because Bradley was always playing with his computer.  He linked his Facebook page to Dan Savage and End Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and in 2009 wangled a ticket to a Stonewall Democratic Club fundraiser so he could have his picture taken with Gavin Newsom.

In the remarkable 20-page statement he made when he entered his guilty plea, Bradley described his decision to go into the Army and what that was like.

I entered active duty status on 2 October 2007. I enlisted with the hope of obtaining both real world experience and earning benefits under the GI Bill for college opportunities….

I assessed that my natural interest in geopolitical affairs and my computer skills would make me an excellent intelligence analyst. After enlisting I reported to the Fort Meade military entrance processing station on 1 October 2007. I then traveled to and reported at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 2 October 2007 to begin basic combat training or BCT.

Once at Fort Leonard Wood I quickly realized that I was neither physically nor mentally prepared for the requirements of basic training. My BCT experience lasted six months instead of the normal ten weeks. Due to medical issues, I was placed on a hold status. A physical examination indicated that I sustained injuries to my right shoulder and left foot…. During medical hold, I was informed that I may be out processed from the Army, however, I resisted being chaptered out because I felt that I could overcome my medical issues and continue to serve.

Much later in the statement, he describes his reaction to the video of a helicopter gunship attack on a group of Iraqi civilians, which was released by WikiLeaks under the title, “Collateral Murder.”

They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote "dead bastards" unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

A lot of people have wondered how a low-ranking soldier like Bradley Manning could have gotten access to so much classified information.  The answer seems to be that his job was to assess intelligence and it’s assumed that enlisted soldiers are cogs, who will do what they’re told and not think about it.  It’s kind of like how back in the 80s, a temp secretary at Bechtel ended up being in the position to discover and leak the information that Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant was built upside down on a fault.

On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the Federal Police or FP detained 15 individuals for printing anti-Iraqi literature. On 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Tactical Operation Center or TOC to investigate the matter, and figure out who the quote "bad guys" unquote were and how significant this event was for the Federal Police.

Over the course of my research I found that none of the individuals had previous ties to anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist militia groups. These photos included pictures of the individuals, pallets of unprinted paper and seized copies of the final printed material or the printed document; and a high resolution photo of the printed material itself. … I laminated it for ease of use and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category two interpreter…

I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other analysts in my section or other sections within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct or mitigate a situation.

I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time – if ever.

Bradley Manning’s isolation over the last three years has allowed many people to make him into whatever they want him to be.  A number of people, including Ellsberg, have credited him with starting the Arab Spring uprisings, because apparently some information in the cables he released were among the issues raised by Tunisian protesters.  That assertion, which embodies the typical Western attitude, reducing movements born of years of struggle by thousands of unnamed people to a story about one white hero, points to the tragedy that now surrounds Bradley Manning.

Bradley Manning is on the precipice of losing years and years of his life, having his potential locked away in a tiny military cell, because there was no robust queer antiwar movement for him to turn to when he started questioning what he was doing.  He only had the internet and the shadowy hacker community for support.  That may have led him to act before he had fully considered the potential consequences, or the best way to do what he wanted to do.

That’s not to deny his courage or the value of his action.

Manning often said, in internet conversations before his arrest, various versions of “information is power.”  Like Ellsberg before him, Bradley believed that if people only had the information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, about Guantanamo and detainee abuse, that they would act.  But it’s not lack of information that keeps people from acting.  While the specifics of the information Bradley revealed were new, it was well known that the u.s. and britain had targeted civilians and journalists.  Movies had been made about the attacks on the Palestine Hotel, which was a headquarters for journalists, and the assault on the Al Jazeera offices.  The photos of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib were released in 2004, three years before Manning enlisted.  What is needed is something that cuts through people’s apathy and cynicism, and convinces them that it’s worth it to act.  And that’s where Manning may be what’s needed.

Information is not power.  Narrative is power.  Bradley Manning has a compelling narrative.  Tory says that her clients at the Veterans Administration were moved by the video he released because it came from a soldier.  An Iraqi friend said her family is moved by him and others who take big risks.  Like so many other whistleblowers, he is someone who changed, and that’s a very powerful story in our culture.  A young person (one of the few who was there) who spoke at the Pride committee meeting said he identified with Bradley because he is young and gay.  Part of Bradley’s story is that he’s queer, and hopefully that will reinvigorate a queer left which badly needs some Red Bull.

Our Inside Voices – Writings by Prisoners

Last issue, LAGAI began soliciting work by prisoners, who make up about two-thirds of our mail subscribers.

Act Alive

Even though at a young age, I knew that who I was attracted to varied between boys and girls, id didn’t know that at 17, I would meet and fall in love with a 19 year old (MTF) transgendered woman. I had always been open-minded, but through Tianna, I learned even more to find peace, honesty and tranquility in what I made as right choices for my happiness – which was also her happiness. I learned that love happens wherever we find it. Wherever love finds us. Four years after I met Tianna, two people in a hate-filled attack took her away from me and her friends. In prison, I’m hated because I’m open about being gender-variant in my choices for friends and romance. I’m happy with my choices and honored with my friends. My testimony is this: You are alive, so LIVE. You are living so act ALIVE. Find strength in your beliefs and find strength in loving yourself and having a passion for life.

James May (Jaye) #80107-083, FCO Otisville, POB 1000, Otisville NY 10963

State of Georgia Black Market: Inside the Georgia D.O.C.

In 2010 the commissioner for the D.O.C. [department of corrections], a Mr. Owens, made an announcement to al the state and private contracted facilities; that by the end of December 2010, all of Georgia state prisoners will be non-smokers and all facilities will stop selling all tobacco products.

This is not the first time that the state of Georgia DOC has went non smoking.  Back in 1995 the DOC commissioner, a Mr. Wayne Gardner, went with the idea. That’s because he had to obey his doctor concerning his own health on the issue of smoking.  The commissioner believed he shouldn’t be the only one to be forced to quit smoking. He had every state facility quit selling all tobacco products and forced all its prisoners into quitting all at once.

Now here it is September 2011 almost a full year has passed since the Georgia DOC non smoking plan has been put into effect. In truth the only thing Mr. Owens has done is open up a brand new market item between the DOC employees and the state prisoners. Where before, the black market has been focused on selling cell phones,  which go for between $250.00 and $500.00 per phone,  and marijuana; but now the employees can sell tobacco products such as Buglar, Top, Roll Rich pouch tobacco packs for $50.00 per pack. That is the hottest selling item right now on the black market.  Cell phones were the hottest item, it falls to second place and marijuana is third.

If a prisoner has the money, whether it’s by his people or on a green dot or in cash money, he can buy from the Georgia Black Market outlets statewide. The commissioner created a way for all the guards to make a healthy living off of state prisoners.

Mr. Owens believed he was doing it to lower the medical costs for smoke related illnesses and in hopes to obtain the federal grant money the president of these united states was offering to the states.  Whether Mr. Owens received that federal money is a big question as to why he needed the money after spending 94 million dollars on remodeling the old Tift College in Forsyth GA to be the new headquarters for the DOC.

Even the governor has asked Mr. Owens why he spent all that money on that old college instead of using it to repair and remodel the state aging prison facilities.

I sit in an old state prison facility where a sewer access manhole has backup raw sewage water covering the lid of the manhole; and the showers need to be remodeled for one can smell raw sewage from the shower drains as someone flushes their cell toilets.

That’s the way the state of Georgia DOC runs backwards on every issue; and the Georgia Black Markets get richer by the day.  The End.

By a Girl speaking out against injustice, Tammy Faye Peebles in Georgia.


How do I describe the invisible Ultra Violet fringe on our (the Rainbow) flag? Just because you don’t see us doesn’t mean we’re not there. As light does not exist in itself, absent its invisible spectrum; so does not the Rainbow; so do not we, who claim it as our standard. The invisible spectrum of the Rainbow has been there as long as light has existed; we have been here as long as man has existed. To demonize us is to demonize ourselves; ignoring us is to ignore each other. Ignorance is condemning.

Gavin in Nevada

All I Want

All I want,
Is to have someone to love for the rest of my life, to wake up every morning with them by my side, know that no matter what happens, I’ll be able to come home to their loving arms.

All I want,
Is to share everything with someone, to talk to them about our ideas, our dreams, the little things that make us laugh and the not so little things we both worry about.

All I want,
Is to give someone all my love, as a place they can always come to and be accepted or the simple comfort that can bring peace that can be understood.

All I want,
Is to grow old with some one to watch our life unfold and our dreams come true.

All I want is Love.

Graphic by Ronald Clark, Florida, reprinted from

Letter from CIM Chino

I write this letter to inform the inmates, as well as the public. I am an inmate at CIM Chino. I’ve been down eight years, yet have been stuck on a reception yard for over a year now!! The powers that be all assure me things are now being done yet I still remain here!! (Why?) I strongly support the women in Chowchilla. Here we are crammed in tiny crowded cells, rodent and roach infested. We get no cleaning supplies, no hygene!! Razors once a week! Our food is cold. There is no Jewish or Muslim services. I’ve had no Kosher meals. Our mattresses are stained and vermin infested. Our warden BM Cash and Assoc. Spref, and several Lts. have known the entire year yet refuse to do anything about it!! The indigent supplies are not issued. Our CO’s refuse to sign our requests 22’s, 602 legal mail. We have no remedies!! At Chino. We need all the media help we can find! I hope you women will help me to inroduce the support group I’ve started I.N.M.A.T.E Injustice Needs Media Attention To Educate!! Our basic rights are violated many times per day!! CIM blatently refuses to adhere to the Doms or Title 15. I ask anyone who reads this article to send letters to BM Cash, Warden LIM Chino PO 128 Chino CA 91708 asking her to get Chance Marquette’s P-32844 transfer expedited!! To Mule Creek.

Thank you LAGAI.

Dr. Chance H.R. Marquette in California

Dear Ultra Violet

In a world here on Death Row, sometimes my best days are when I realize the fantastic effort to find PEACE, and not just the silent peace, but the kind that comes when you’ve done some unnoticed good deeds, gotten all of my own chores done, and maybe had a letter with a money order for next months’ food supplies, so that I don’t have to worry about eating prison crap next month! And then multiply in my body feeling good, no migraines, no sore bones from working out, and most of all the guilt of those I left behind is not sitting on my chest as it normally does, so on this peaceful day, I can breathe…………

I am all too aware of the injustice of the world, seeing the poor get fucked every day, understanding my own loving Mother’s childhood pain that scared her to the point she could not enjoy her best days, and had no understanding when she needed it most, like when raising me! But I saw it, from time to time she sparkled to my eyes, sadly she probably did not even realize she had happy moments, through her overflowing anguish that spilled onto my skin, scarring my back and buttcheeks, but when I’m asked about it when I’m in the shower, I just say it’s from crashing my bike as a kid.

People often tell me that even in the worst families, people love each other, but I say that if they never learned how, or were shown love, then what does it matter………love matters not, but my god how it leaves a well of endless despair! Funny how the soul knows what it needs, even if it never had it, but I guess through life we get a taste of it from others, seeing it in our friends’ Moms, how they tenderly kiss their own kids in front of you, never knowing how we wished they would kiss this child stranger too.  How we long for a Mother’s touch, and through the years how easily that twists up in our minds and hearts until any Mother’s affection would do, never knowing that our true nature is wanting affection from the other sex, how do “normal” souls understand others who are twisted, when we can barely comprehend our own damage, much less share it……and being behind bars, on Death Row……..we must now remain LEGALLY SILENT. This is policy, time for answers and healing is past, now all I hope for are those rare moments of PEACE.

Our fight for this human condition never ends. STAY STRONG.

Orlando Romero Jr. #K-21400, NS 25-S, San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin CA

Trans Folks Down for the Fight

Letter to Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, submitted January 26, 2013 from Jennifer G., B&P Incarcerated Leader, for the Feb. 25th Panel on Solitary Confinement:

Greetings from California! As a transgender woman prisoner and activist, I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the panel discussion on Solitary Confinement. Initially, I was convicted for the crime of armed robbery and sentenced to seven years in state prison. Subsequently, however, that “7 years” was extended to an indeterminate term of 104 years-to-life under the draconian “Three Strikes” law for prison behavior (e.g. weapon possession, assault, etc.) I have now been incarcerated for over 22 years, including more than 14 years of experience in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison and other institutions, and never raped or killed anyone.

As a survivor myself. I can state from personal experience, there is no question that long-term isolation in prison ‘control units”, under severe punitive conditions, is TORTURE! I’ve suffered beatings, food deprivation, inadequate medical and mental health care, and other forms of inhumane treatment similar to the abuses described in the case of Madrid v. Gomez.

Thanks to that legal victory, due in part to the expert testimony of Dr, Stuart Grassian, I was released from the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) in 2003, and my exacerbated mental illness improved after being provided acute psychiatric care for suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and Gender Identity Disorder. Although my current prison circumstances have improved, and I now have the prospect of a sentence reduction under California’s newly passed Proposition 36 (the “Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012), thousands of other inmates continue to languish in long-term solitary confinement.

Since the Pelican Bay Prisoner Hunger Strike began in 20__, more than 12,000 prisoners in thirteen different California prisons have participated in intermittent hunger strikes to protest the conditions of solitary confinement. At least three inmates committed suicide.

On February 2, 2012, inmate Christian Gomez died during a hunger strike at Corcoran, which houses 1400 in the SHU and an estimated 350 in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). The continued and expanded use of extended solitary confinement in control units across the United States, and particularly in California where the courts have found illegal and inhumane conditions, violates international human rights law, the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.  Furthermore, in the case of transgender inmates, the use of nondisciplinary safety concerns or refusal of unsafe housing unit/cell assignments to justify placement in solitary confinement violates the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) national standards (recently adopted federal regulations, of the US Department of Justice).

In conclusion, I urge the esteemed panel members and audience to join the struggle to ABOLISH CONTROL UNITS in the United States, which holds at least 25,000 prisoners in isolation at various supermax prisons, and an additional 50,000 to 80,000 in restrictive segregation units.  The 2006 US. Report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in American Prisons noted that beyond about 10 days of solitary confinement there’s practically no benefit to be found and the harm is clear. The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has prepared a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Human Rights Council, United Nations General Assembly, with 22 main plaintiffs at different California prisons, ranging from one year in segregation up to 39 years in complete isolation based solely on a prisoner’s affiliations or associations.

Finally, I welcome anyone that may be interested to contact me through personal correspondence concerning this issue, or concerning my campaign for release. Specifically, I need your personal assistance and support for my individual legal defense case, to be moved to either a women’s facility or other community-based housing that accommodate$ trans-women, and eventually released.

(Reprinted from Black & Pink, April 2013.  Footnotes omitted)

Brutality By Proxy: sex as a weapon

I’m 46 Qwm – ‘original Queer’ not born of convenience once the prison gates slammed behind my sexy ass. Knowing prison is a challenging and dangerous world unto itself, I always maintained a low profile and am very discrete in my relationships and intimate activities.

After eighteen years in maximum security and smooth running – the wheels finally came off the rails.

The virtually unprecedented arrest of four C.O.s for assaulting prisoners prompted a new strategy: ‘outsourcing.’

Having ended up on C.O.s ’hit list’ – they directed 3 gang members (inmate collaborators) to jump me.

I’ve been in my share of fights, but this is not Hollywood. I quickly realized I was in deep trouble and icy dread that I could die here. In moments I was beaten to floor of shower and savagely kicked. Barely conscious, I was relieved when the blows ceased. ‘It’s over…’ I thought.

The leader grasped me around my waist and began to penetrate and rape me – I struggled to crawl away but another of the attackers seized my shoulders while the other resumed raping me. I have never felt such a mash of pain, fear and utter helplessness? The one holding my shoulders pulled out his penis and tried to force me to perform oral sex on him. When I wouldn’t do it, he punched me in the face some more – then masturbated and ejaculated on my face.

They left me laying on the cold wet floor of the shower. I slowly got my self together, inventory of injuries. Glad at least they didn’t use weapons beyond their hands feet and genitals… Prompted by sharp, burning sting of the semen on my facial lacerations, I got under shower and did my best to wash away not only their come – But the whole event.

I limped off (bad high ankle sprain) and was eventually apprehended by (uninvolved) C.O. who escorted me to facility hospital. I wasn’t trying to get involved in stigma/complications of a sexual assault investigation, but nurse spotted blood on my boxers and wouldn’t be put off.

I was thrown in ‘Involuntary Protective Custody’ (PC) and stunningly, issued disciplinary charges for: ‘not reporting injury’ and transferred to SHU (‘BOX’) facility.

I received NO follow up medical care, had to file grievances to get StD testing and was denied post sexual assault mental health counseling.

More than a year after assault and rape, I’m still experiencing anxiety/panic attacks and am plagued by terrible nightmares.

After resorting to outside agencies, I learned that original medical reports did not document sexual assault. Medical file cited: ‘Inmate fell’ (yeah, fell on erect penis ‘over and over’…) This attempt (unsuccessful) to cover-up stems from Dept of Corrections ‘managing’ their statistics for Federal ‘PREA’ (Prison Rape Elimination Act, 2003) standards. If they can’t or won’t comply with this law, they lose portion of their allotted funds from Feds – And we know the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is all about the money.

There is no ‘looper’ style time machine to go back and fix or erase the harm done to me, Both in the assault/rape and the further abuse and harassment by ‘investigations’, who alternated between trying to color my orientation as mitigation in effects/blame of event, and ‘getting off’ or eliciting the fine details for their all too obvious titillation.

All I can do now, is try to shine a ray of light into these dark crevices of Abuse and Neglect – And hope there’s some in the world with eyes open to see.

‘PREA’ is Good – But only if the shroud of secrecy is pulled free from America’s prison system.


My Pain

I can feel all your pain
We are on the same plane looking at the views
  Listening to other people’s attitudes
I can’t seem to get myself out of this groove
   This horrible pain is so real
All I want to do is die
   And because I’m a man, I can’t cry
Wishing you were here to dry my eyes
   I feel completely alone, left out in the cold
Chilled to the bone looking for my way home
   My hopes, dreams, & visions is all I see
And I pray to God, they go out to thee.

Steve Howe #V27336
CSP 3BO-2-106c
PO Box 3466
Corcoran, CA 93212

The MOCHA Column

By Chaya and Deni


We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (review by Deni)

This timely film about how Wikileaks developed, focuses on the roles of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. It starts out well with good pacing and cinematography by award-winning Maryse Alberti, but about halfway through the “hi-tech” fade in/out/connecting visuals seemed overused. The cutting back and forth between stories was also confusing. I got a little annoyed at the psychologizing viewpoint director Alex Gibney imparted to Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Adrian Lamo (the one who turned Bradley in). I found myself looking at my watch several times. Gibney stdarted out with a 3½ hour cut and whittled it down, thankfully. He should have whittled more, particularly on the portrayal of Lamo, which is mostly just upsetting, and also on the “life and times of Julian” show. The parts about Bradley Manning were the most affecting, espcially the focus on his queerness. But overall, some of the political impact of what Bradley did, and why, got lost in the general cinematic verbiage. Free Bradley Manning!


Good acting, costumes and sets, but if this movie had been excellently played by two unknown gay actors, it probably wouldn’t have gotten any notice. Because it was played by two straight mega-movie stars (Michael Douglas and Matt Damon), the movie got lots of attention but came off as smarmy, Hollywood style. Though the film was passed over by Warner Brothers for being “too gay,” director Steven Soderbergh says that it’s “an entertaining relationship story.” It didn’t engage us and we found it kind of pointless. Soderbergh says this is his last film, but we’re not sure we care.

Herman’s House (review by Deni)

This film tells some of the story of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3. The Angola 3 were in solitary confinement for decades in Angola, Louisiana, and two of the men – Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox – are still in prison. But the film was marred by artist/filmmaker Jackie Sumell’s focus on her own life and process; we learned more about her than we needed or wanted to know. Instead, Wallace’s story could have been better told, and more deeply contextualized in the black and prison struggles of the last decades. For a better look at the real story, I’d like to try to see In the Land Of the Free, a powerful 2010 documentary about the Angola 3. You can also check out a video by Robert King Wilkerson (the other member of the Angola 3, released from prison about 10 years ago) on the Amnesty International site. Herman’s House will screen on PBS July 8  - the filmmaker gets more annoying as the movie goes on, so maybe just watch the parts with Herman Wallace.


This is a documentary about a young, undocumented, Latina artist, Inocente. When it was made in 2012, 15 year old Inocente had been homeless in San Diego with her mother and two younger brothers since she was seven. Inocente’s colorful and vibrant paintings fill the screen. Her art is an important part of who she is, of her personal struggles and her empowering dreams. The film was well directed by Sean and Andrea Fine and won the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. Watch for it in libraries or on TV. See it.

The Company You Keep

Chaya: Robert Redford directed and stars in this film about a former Weather Underground member (Redford)  who goes on the run to try to clear his name after a comrade (Sarandon) gets arrested for the killing of a security guard during a bank robbery in the 1960s. For me, the cast was the selling point of the movie (Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins and others). I agree with many of Deni’s criticisms below, especially – SPOILER ALERT – the lack of motivation for Christie’s character to change her mind at the end. The politics of WU were never clearly explained, so if you didn’t know much about WU you wouldn’t know why they were robbing banks. But the movie didn’t deserve a lot of the criticism it got, much of which was just plain ageist. It’s not the movie I would have made, but I thought it was still worthwhile.

Deni: I didn’t like this movie for a variety of reasons. There were the story/plot challenges and inconsistencies, like Robert Redford, about 70 years old, having a daughter of about 12. Another actor could have more believably played this part, and possibly less woodenly, too. Characters are introduced and slightly developed, but their stories are left dangling or incomplete. More importantly, the film angered me for its political implications, stated and unstated. The Weather Underground was portrayed as wantonly having taken risks with people’s lives when it carried out attacks. This was not true, and can only have been put in the film to create sympathy for the former Weather characters who “had grown older and wiser” and given up their radical (read “inhuman”) ways. Sarandon and Christie’s characters still held on to some of their revolutionary ideas but were undermined by the storyline. Christie especially was used in the end as a “sensitive woman” whose beliefs couldn’t withstand the allure/moral message of Redford. What exactly was the point of this movie? Skip it and instead, see the Oscar-nominated 2003 documentary Weather Underground by Sam Green and Bill Siegel.

The Place Beyond the Pines (review by Deni)

This movie attempted to be an epic about fathers/sons/class ramifications/moral choices. The acting by Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper was quite good, and Eva Mendes (a favorite of mine) was also good though her part was underdeveloped (surprise, surprise). Cinematography was great, often stunning. The film raised some interesting questions but ultimately was heavy-handed and self-important. The last portion was most contrived and detracted from the impact of the film.

Stark Trek Into Darkness (review by Chaya)

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise Y. Its never-ending mission is to seek out new tax forms. To explore strange new regulations. To boldly go where no government employee has gone before.” Oh, wait a minute, that’s not the beginning of the new Star Trek movie, it’s the beginning of the IRS’ parody training video starring IRS employees. Really. You can see the whole pathetic 6 minutes online. Low production values. Tsk. Bad IRS. Meanwhile, the new Star Trek movie is the second prequel with its younger cast, but it’s vintage Star Trek. You know, Kirk breaks the rules and saves earth, while maintaining his bromance with Spock. But there are a few updates. The main characters are more developed, and Spock and Uhura are in a relationship! And there’s more politics, too. Near the beginning of the movie, some characters make statements against drone strikes and extrajudicial executions. Scotty feels that the 72 torpedoes that Starfleet wants loaded aboard the Enterprise are too dangerous, so he quits (rebellion in the ranks). Yet the Starfleet Headquarters uniforms are way more military looking than previously. And why can’t Starfleet hire some LGBT crew members after all this time? 


SUPPORT BRADLEY MANNING  Check out the “I Am Bradley Manning” video on YouTube, with many celebrities expressing support for Bradley. Tom Morello, originally of Rage Against the Machine, is great as usual. But some of those progressive celebs need to do a better job of connecting their leftist dots: Singer Moby was urged by the BDS community to turn down a concert in Israel in 2011, but played it anyway. Actor Maggie Gyllenhaal starred in last year’s notorious anti-teacher’s union film “Won’t Back Down.” We could probably give more examples if we could only i.d. all the stars! So, the Mocha Column will give a free UltraViolet subscription to anyone who can send us the names of all the celebs in the video.

BRADLEY MANNING REDUCKS  In a fantastic example of resolute political wishy-washiness, former SF Supervisor Bevan Dufty has dropped out as a grand marshal of the SF Pride Parade. “I very much wanted to be a Pride grand marshal but I don't feel this is the right time,” he said. Dufty wouldn't comment on whether stepping down had anything to do with Pride’s removing Bradley Manning as a grand marshal, and just said,I'm going to let my actions speak for me in this situation.” But a secret Mocha Column source listened in on a Dufty phone conversation (President Obama says we’re not doing that) and heard him saying, “I have no principles and I’ll be damned if I will be forced into taking a stand on something so trivial as war crimes and free speech! If only Bradley had just said he wanted a gay marriage. Why do these radical queers have to keep mixing in these unrelated issues?”

STICK TO PLAIN OATMEAL  Yeah, it’s good that General Mills isn’t caving in to racists, but before you go giving them big props for standing up for their cereal commercial that features a mixed-race family, let’s check out a few other GM facts: General Mills is the third-largest food consumer products company in the US. It contributed over a million dollars to oppose California's Proposition 37 last year, which would have required mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Recently, GM marketed to children using Millsberry (an advergame – you know, advertising in video games), a virtual city that featured General Mills products. Last year, GM laid off 850 workers to “lower costs and boost efficiency,” and it’s currently fighting a union drive in its plant in Hannibal, MO. Out of 34 GM plants, 14 are non-union. (Hoping for success for the BCTGM union that’s organizing in Hannibal.) Oh, but wait, General Mills took a stand for gay marriage, and isn’t that all we queers care about? During June 2012 the company's vice-president for diversity stated that GM opposed a Minnesota amendment banning gay marriage, stating that the company values “inclusion.” Right. GM said, “To succeed today, big brands like Cheerios need to be in touch with what’s authentic and true about American families.” Gag. We’re hoping to hear from the Minnesota Queer Liberation Front as we stand together against corporate greed, not in support of assimilationist deed.

FOLLOW THE MONEY  The money seems to go in a revolving path from the US Government And Military Producers (US GAMP), to the Israeli Government And Military Producers (I GAMP). One recent example is kind of mind-blowing: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) says it has signed a long-term contract with US defense giant Lockheed Martin to produce wings for the next generation of the F-35 fighter jet, the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program. The wings will be made at an Israeli facility that already produces wings for Lockheed's F-16 warplanes. IAI, a state-owned company, said the 15 year contract could generate up to $2.5 billion in sales. Sales for I GAMP? Or US GAMP? Or WE ALL GAMP? Round and round it goes.

SHE’S GOING ANYWAY  Despite a powerful letter from Alice Walker and other voices urging Alicia Keys to honor the academic and cultural boycott of Israel and cancel a July concert in Tel Aviv, Keys is going ahead with her plans. An interesting commentary in TheGrio website took Keys to task for not taking a stronger stand around the issue of what Walker called  the “apartheid country.” TheGrio also rejected claims that the boycott is “bullying” and “anti-semitic.”

BUT HE WON’T GO  In May, British cosmologist Stephen Hawking honored the boycott by withdrawing from a June conference in Israel. One result of Hawking’s action is that for the first time a major American newspaper – The Boston Globe – supported Hawking’s use of the boycott as a means of political presure, though The Globe didn’t come out in support of the boycott itself.

LIBRARY LOVERS UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE (but maybe a book now and then)  Public libraries – those magical places where you can get free books! We’re looking forward to the completion of Free For All: Inside the Public Library, a documentary project being made by a sterling team of progressive film-makers about library stories from across the country. The project’s centerpiece film chronicles a year in the SF Public Library. If you can/want to support the project, google the film and check out their website – they still need donations. A Mocha Column reader was even interviewed for the film – we’ll see if her library story makes the final cut.

BAD CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY  It’s been 101 years this June (2013) since Local 1640 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners sent a resolution to the SF Board of Supervisors against accepting steel tycoon/ union buster Andrew Carnegie’s gift of $750,000 for library purposes. The Board passed the resolution, which included the following: “There is no person whose name is more repugnant to fair-minded persons than that of Andrew Carnegie, whose vast fortune was accumulated at the expense of every rule of humanity, thousands of persons in his employ having toiled long hours for a mere pittance, and on more than one occasion being assaulted and shot and a number killed for rebelling against the industrial slavery imposed upon them. We join in the protest against bringing shame and humiliation upon the fair name of San Francisco by having it share in the ill-gotten wealth of Andrew Carnegie to build him a monument.” So, next time you’re in a public library, think so-shhhhh-ialism.

SEX BETWEEN CONSENTING WEREWOLVES AND HUMANS RULED OK BY COURT  Props to prisoner Andres Martinez at Pelican Bay State Prison, who pursued and won a First Amendment case to allow more books into the prison, books that had been rejected as “obscene.” The First District Court of Appeal of California said one book in question, “The Silver Crown,” (which among other things includes sexual encounters between werewolves and humans), didn’t meet the legal definition of obscenity because it has some literary value. Pelican Bay officials had been ignoring this state and federal standard for obscenity so they could ban books. The guard in charge of checking books for “obscenity” said his standard procedure is “to leaf through the book and seize it” if he finds repeated sexually explicit passages. Just how many times does he have to leaf through each book and how can we satirize this process even more?


Fuck Monsanto

By Nora Roman

On May 25, 2013 two million people in over 50 countries marched against Monsanto, the leading producer of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).  Last week, Connecticut passed the first U.S. state law to require labeling of GMOs, but the law will only go into effect if 4 states pass similar laws, and one state must touch Connecticut. This weird provision is the response to Monsanto's threat to sue any state that passes a stand alone GMO bill…But, take heart: Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, NJ and NY all have GMO labeling bills in current sessions and could join Connecticut within a few weeks. Altogether, 26 states have introduced GMO bills this year, including California. There was also a Federal bill introduced in April and Washington State has a ballot initiative scheduled for the fall.

First introduced into the food supply in the late 1990s, GMOs are now found in 70% of processed food. 85% of corn and 91% of soy grown in the U.S. are GMO, and an Oregon organic farmer inexplicably found Monsanto's GMO wheat in his field (of course Monsanto will most likely sue this farmer for stealing their patented life forms).

The fight against Monsanto is just one small piece of the movement for "Food Sovereignty", a term originated by the international peasant alliance called "La Via Campesina". The food movement is now the most visible part of the "Sustainability" Movement which encompasses all environmental concerns about our potentially mortally wounded planet.

Women are in the leadership of much of this Movement. From the lesbian back to the land movement of the 1970s to current international solidarity and sustainable development work on food, women have been and are key. The book Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat by Temra Costa provides a good overview with personal stories of women working in all different ways. The Women, Food and Agriculture Network based in Iowa (yeah-Iowa) has 2800 members working "since 1997 to promote gender equality in sustainable agriculture by supporting, educating and empowering women to become leaders in the Movement, from the Farm House to the White House." According to Nancy Ging in the Bellingham (WA) Herald on May 14, 2013 "Women are the fastest growing demographic of new diversified farms (i.e. small farms growing multiple products). Women control 85% of household spending. Of the top 15 national non-profits focused on sustainable agriculture, women are 60% of executive directors (EDs) and 61% of employees."  Other groups include Women's Agricultural Network, California Women in Agriculture, Women, Food and Agricultural Network, and Ruralwomyn.

So what are they doing? Much attention has been paid to influencing the U.S. Farm Bill, which sets U.S. policy and funding. But how much can be achieved by traditional advocacy and lobbying efforts? Eric Holt Gimenez, the ED of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (one of the original groups to deal with this issue) captures the context of the fight in his blog "Occupy the Food System: Construction or Protest?"

This $6 trillion a year industry was built on violently dispossessing entire peoples from their land, water and resources as well as on indentured, coerced and slave labor. The continued dependence on cheap undocumented labor and the food apartheid that plagues underserved communities of color are not broken pieces of an otherwise benign system. They are integral to the market efficiencies of today's corporate food regime. This food regime functions precisely as a late capitalist food system would be expected to perform: it creates opportunities for speculative financial investments and concentrates resources, power and wealth in the hands of a few global monopolies (like Cargill, Monsanto, ADM and Walmart). The corporate agri-food giants are making record profits at a time of record hunger, record harvests, and a global epidemic of diet related diseases. For those who own it, the food system isn't broken at all-it's thriving."

The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance captures the goals of the work: "to end poverty, rebuild local food economies and assert democratic control over the food system. We believe all people have a right to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced in an ecologically sound manner. As a U.S. based alliance of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based, and food producer groups, we uphold the right to food as a basic human right and work to connect our local and national struggles to the international movement for food sovereignty."

How we are doing this is as diverse as we are….grassroots organizing has brought us many alternative places to put our energy. Farmworkers in traditional unions like the UFW continue to carry out campaigns that we support (fact: 45% of farmworkers are food insecure meaning they don't have enough to eat). One innovative and successful effort was Florida's Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) tomato campaign which took years to win thru direct actions like boycotts and demos. From local takeovers and planting of unused land in cities all across the country to local Food Policy Councils (FPCs), change is happening.  FPCs also have worked on things like institutional food procurement (ever eat at a school or hospital?), use of urban space, nutrition education and funding for food banks. Empty lots are turned into community gardens, free trainings and technical assistance enable backyard gardens for low income folks in food deserts like West Oakland. Teachers incorporate new curriculum and food gardens are blossoming in schools.  In California last year, local FPCs joined with Urban Agriculture Alliances and Food System Alliances to form the California Food Policy Council to work to support and strengthen each group's local work and to take up state level work together.

Even a strategy of short term efforts like the Hayes Valley Farm in S.F. have a multiplier effect: accepting the space at 450 Laguna for interim use as a community farm over just a few years has involved 20,000 volunteers and combined growing food with arts projects, education, and organizing and was run by a "lateral governance structure" (what we used to call a collective). Although the Farm was closed down in June 2013, it spawned and provided support to at least 10 other projects. And BTW, 5 of the 7 leadership team and 12 of the 19 instructors listed on the website are women.

And last but not least is one of my favorite local projects: Direct action to Occupy the Farm at UC Berkeley's Gill Tract in Albany. The efforts to save the last substantial piece of farmland in the urban East Bay from plans to sell it off and develop it for commercial use have included an ongoing occupation and multiple plantings involving large numbers of people and much creativity.

Ongoing dialogue and debate within the Movement is rich, and we can expect to continue to see people who do what moves them most as we move forward. At the San Francisco March against Monsanto on May 25, about 1000 demonstrators rallied at Union Square (where we listened to a line up of mostly male speakers with women and especially women of color being conspicuously absent on the stage) and then marched to the Embarcadero where a small disagreement arose between the event organizers and Occupy the Farm activists who attempted to plant some veggies on the public grass there…Thru my eyes as someone who's seen this dynamic in many movements over the years,  I say:  Keep it ALL UP!  ¡ADELANTE!

Short nights of stars; keeping the lights on

By Lisa

In the city, we can only see some of the stars, as you move out into less developed areas more and more stars emerge from the night sky.  There are fewer and fewer places left on the globe where the stars are not dimmed by the night lights of human civilization and many if not most of those lights are unnecessary or bigger than they need to be or glowing in all directions (including up into the sky) when they are only useful in one direction. Once in a while the lights go out – due to natural disaster or dysfunction in the grid—and suddenly millions of stars reemerge even in the middle of the big city. I think it would be amazing if we turned out more of the lights that aren’t really being used at night and re-configured the ones that are needed to be more targeted so we could see more of the stars.  Why not an urban dark sky movement to bring the wilderness of stars closer to home? And of course this would also save lots of energy and the associated impacts from all kinds of energy generation which is always on my mind as UW readers know.

Some good news this week was the announcement by Southern California Edison that they will give up their fight to re-open the San Onofre nuclear reactors that were shut down due to radio active leaks from the repaired and newly installed steam generator system last year. The pressure from grass roots activists to keep the plant closed, along with some very useful questions being asked by Senator Boxer, together delayed attempts to re-open the plant making the economics finally line up with sanity.  We need to move even more quickly to distributed energy systems and away from these massive polluting centralized power behemoths.

The San Onofre nuclear plant is right on the beach and has a puny sea wall that would not keep out a tidal wave as we saw at Fukushima—in fact it is very similar design to the nuclear plants that melted down in japan and a lot closer to big population centers. Closing and decommissioning will be expensive and problematic (since there is still nowhere to store high-level radio active waste from the core and cooling ponds) but it is a big step in the right direction. Now Diablo Canyon will be the last nuclear power plant operating in California and I’m dragging out my old t-shirts that say —SHUT DOWN DIABLO CANYON.

Speaking of t-shirts, as we move towards the longest day of the year once again, June (aka gay month aka pride month for us LGBTQQ—they gave us a month and marriage what more do you want!) makes me think about cleaning out the closets and getting rid of old clothes.  I can give away the things I didn’t wear much or that don’t fit so well anymore but why is it so hard to let go of the ragged t-shirts from dyke marches and actions of yesteryear? I keep them until they are rags and then use the rags for a few more years. The memories of demonstrations past keep the windows and floors clean today (OK not that clean, I’m a very bad housekeeper after all).

California Prisoners to Resume Hunger Strike

Two Years ago nearly 12,000 prisoners in California went on an extended hunger strike. In response to CDCR’s failure to meet the 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present a notice of, and basis for, theirr individualized, collectively agreed upon, decision to resume the nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 08, 2013.

The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined Hunger Strike [HS] – Work Stoppage [WS] action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely—until all Five (5) Core Demands are fully met. 

1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria

3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement

4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmate

In California there will be demonstrations July 8th or 9th in Eureka, Oakland, San Francisco, Corcoran and Los Angeles.  There are also demos planned in New York, Ohio and in Canada.

Go to for more info.