Queer: June 2007 Archives

in this case an objective clearly worth a monstrous sacrifice

Was the sacrifice of our right to assemble and speak just a matter of "taking one for the team"? And if it was, what will there be left to win if the team makes the finals?

I sent an email out to a few friends last night after picking up a copy of this week's Gay City News. I had hoped to find an article on Chris Quinn which might explain to her larger core community why I and so many others are upset with her these days.

There was an article, but I left wondering how anyone not familiar with the subject of her collaboration and authorization of what is euphemistically referred to as the Police "Parade Rules" might be able to figure what the fuss is about.

I wrote, in part:

We can see that our most prominent community newspaper isn't really interested in the interests of its community, but rather, in its designated hero's ability [in the words of one person quoted in the article] "to take a stand on issues she believes in that aren't always popular among different constituent groups", or, to excerpt another quote from a member of the community used in the article, "any elected official's need to balance the concerns of many groups".
I received an interesting reply from Andy Podell, one of my addressees, and he agreed to be quoted. It's the best explanation I've come across for what looks like a totally baffling decision from a former community street acitivist, but although I don't consider myself politically naive its implications disturb me:
One of the unspoken rules in American politics is that politicians who come from minority communities must show the big boys that they can be tough on their own constituency. Chuck Schumer and George Bush are not required to slap the community around that elected them to show that they're impartial. But Hilary Clinton and Christine Quinn are required to reassure those in power that they no longer represent their voting base. The battle for representative democracy is over before it begins.
So, does this suggest we're better off not supporting minority politicians? I'm throwing this out mostly as a provocation; I'm depressed, but maybe not yet that depressed.

[image from perfectduluthday]


We were colorful, loud, beautiful and cute, joyful and fierce, and we never really stopped moving, even when the march did. One of the group described himself today, after eleven hours of sleep, as a survivor of "the anarcho-queer olympics that was our participation in the parade.

The crowd was crazy about this "unpermitted" band of RHA and Queer Justice League activists, even if the serious message of their visuals and their chants might initially have escaped some of the people shrieking with glee behind the barriers on each side of the street. I walked down Fifth Avenue from somewhere in the 50's and all the way to the river, and I never heard a single discouraging word.

In any event, on Sunday thousands of people saw the pink and white flyers we handed out and should be able to understand today that this group and its reason for being there on the streets related more closely to the original Stonewall than anything else in this 38th anniversary march.

I've uploaded some additional (thumbnail) images of these animated street lobbyists below [click to enlarge]:
















Friday night's NYC Dyke March

In the middle of everything else he was balancing this weekend Tim Doody of The Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA] forwarded this I-Witness Video item to me on on Saturday, when I only read it very quickly. It seemed so fantastical that I wanted to check out the story before I repeated it, but no one I talked to outside of the RHA this weekend seemed to have heard anything about it. Actually of course, I should never have had any doubts about it since the byline is that of Eileen Clancy, the video activist who was instrumental, along with many others, in exposing the lies and political arbitrariness of the NYPD arrest sweeps and citizen lockdowns during the RNC.

This is only an excerpt, from a story which only gets more interesting in a public transcript included in the remainder of the full text:

Saturday, 23 Jun 2007

by Eileen Clancy

Through the spring and summer months, the New York City Police Department has continued its campaign to shut down, suppress and contain political demonstrations, often in a completely unreasonable, ill-informed and even insulting manner. Recently, the Police Department has outright refused or stalled permits for events organized by the African Diaspora Education Society, Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered, the PrideFest and the Audre Lorde Project's Trans Day of Action.

Yet, even as many groups scramble to assemble pro-bono teams of attorneys to fight for permission to hold events, the NYPD has secretly issued a parade permit to the largest annual unauthorized political gathering on a Manhattan street, the 15th annual New York City Dyke March. Later today, tens of thousands of lesbians and their supporters will sally forth onto Fifth Avenue in a parade of lesbian visibility without knowing that their display has received the seal of government approval.

That's right, unrequested by and unbeknownst to the organizers, the NYPD has granted legally permitted status to the Dyke March and has done so for years.

How do we know this? Because Assistant Chief Thomas Graham, the commander of the Disorder Control Unit and the NYPD's expert on managing political demonstrations, says so in sworn testimony.

When I first read this story I felt like I was having a through-the-looking-glass moment. Then I got really mad. For years an alert and dedicated citizenry has been working very hard, putting their energy, time, jobs and money on the line, to exercise Constitutional rights which the police and their political allies refuse to recognize, but all along the constabulary has been justifying their occasional and apparently random passivity internally, and protecting their own rights and freedom of movement, by officially granting permits not requested.

It's incredibly patronizing, of course, but much more is going on here. Nothing may better illustrate the arbitrariness of police power in New York City, where not only does the NYPD make law on its own, but it can [appear to] violate those laws whenever it so chooses.

[image from Nicole Marti's Flckr page]

scene early today at the support truck bike for an "unpermitted" march RHA/Queer Justice League contingent

[more tomorrow]

the view from the parlor today

It's not the pedestrian street we had in mind.

We awakened this morning to the sweet refrain of amplified hawkers of corporately-manufactured goods, and the stench of greasy food. Yes it's another so-called "neighborhood street fair" in Chelsea. We get at least half a dozen each year below our windows and on the blocks radiating from the intersection one hundred feet to the west.

The city authorities seem to love these things; the neighborhoods don't. These regular floods of open stalls have absolutely nothing to do with the people or small businesses whose apartments and storefronts they engulf: New Yorkers really don't knit tubesocks in home workshops and we don't shuck corn on our fire escapes.

My real point in writing this is to point out the hypocrisy of a multi-ethnic City like this one continuing to permit these abominations, which corrupt the concept of a genuine neighborhood fair, while at the same time refusing to permit the queer community to hold their Pride Festival tomorrow, which happens only once a year, in the very queer (okay, mostly only "gay") community of Chelsea.

The content of that last paragraph comes from Barry, who made the deliciously-derisive juxtaposition immediately after I told him what I had seen outside our front windows.

One of our sources tell us that tonight's Trans March was phenomenal!

Donald Grove commented on Bloggy's post about the Audre Lord Project's experience trying to secure a permit for a transgender march tonight. This is the text of this queer supporter's brief report:

I just finished the Trans March, and I am a bit too footsore to do the Drag
March. But I am thrilled to say that the Trans March was very VERY big. I
would guess around 500 people. Lots of trans folks with a strong mix of
gender non-conforming and queer support. It was excellent!

We got to march in the street most of the way, which was smart, because the
march was so big. But we were preceded almost the entire way by a paddy
wagon, with smiling cops holding their bundles of plastic handcuffs. I
suppose they could make some screwy stupid statement about protecting the
march from bashers, but who would buy that? They were their with the paddy
wagon first because they wanted to send a message to that uppity Audre
Lorde Project for taking them to court.

Well screw the cops! The march was huge, and all the police accomplished
was to look puffy, pasty and pointless in the company of so many awesome,
sexy, spirited gender-self-defining folks, both young and old, of many

I wasn't there, but I have to add my own wee commnent:
This has got to stop! A happy group of peaceful marchers who have been brutalized by the police for millenia were forced to accept the deliberately-confrontational imposition of an NYPD police wagon, together with its armed and restraint-laden crew, as their very visible "grand marshal" when they chose to parade through their own neighborhoods.

Were there police snipers on the roof, like during the Puerto Rico Day Parade? I'm also surprised that our guardians of public order don't seem to have swept up spectators who were wearing their pink or lavender gang colors.


While we're on the subject of marches and marshals, does anyone else find it problematic, if no longer surprising, that both of the grand marshals in the really big queer march on Sunday, Sharon Kleinbaum and Troy Perry, are members of the clergy?

[image of NYC police at the 2004 RNC from Theoria via Daily Kos]

ACT UP demonstration for access to clean needles, seventeen years ago

After yesterday's post, which was totally connected to current political activism, I'm going to turn back and examine what the territory looked like in the 80's and 90's.

Although many of us are still busy working on some of the very same issues which engaged New York activists, writers, artists, and residents in the previous two decades, it would make no sense at all if we were to ignore a radical activist history which can still inform what we do today.

On Tuesday, June 26, the New York Book Club at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Gotham Center for New York City History at CUNY are hosting a panel discussion in the Museum. Called "Resistance: A Radical History of the Lower East Side", the event's participants will be Jay Blotcher, Al Orensanz and Michael Rosen. The moderator will be Clayton Patterson.

I think all of these people (with very interesting but quite different backgrounds in the same neighborhood) are contributors to a new book with the same title, a collection of writings and images. Okay, it sounds like it's also a book signing, but on Tuesday it seems both oral and written history will be shared with those who stop by.

I know Jay well, originally through ACT UP, where he directed media relations, but in addition to his AIDS activism he has also worked as a collage artist, documentary filmmaker, journalist and publicist. If he's involved in something like this, it's likely to be at least worth a detour.

The address is 108 Orchard Street, near Delancey, and the time is from 6 to 8 pm.

[image from the film "Clean Needles Save Lives: Drug Users Doing It For Ourselves" via Creative Time]

This page is an archive of entries in the Queer category from June 2007.

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