Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

NOTE: Some language terms in this article are terms that were used in 1975-1976 which have been replaced in Queerdom since then. Bear with these terms and be glad we are not still living back then.

Ivan Valentin and The Connection to Connecticut. A Fight Back!

” Our strength lies not in our ability to assimilate, hide and become absorbed, but in our ability despite our great diversity to stick together and to continue to fight for rights of all men and women to be different and diverse and live their lives in freedom according to their own life choices.”  Ivan Valentin


Gay Pride March, NYC. Left to Right: Ivan Valentin, unidentified, Sylvia Rivera, Jim Fouratt, Marsha P. Johnson (photo Joe Caputo)

Ivan Valentin was quoted as saying, “A drag or transvestite is somebody who always dresses as a woman. A female impersonator is someone who claims to actually be a woman. I’m just a man who likes to dress up.” He was a good friend of Sylvia Rivera and helped to fight back during the Stonewall Rebellion where he was hit in the knee by a policeman’s Billy Club and had ten stiches to close the wound. Speaking about that time he remarked, “We had it. We weren’t going to be beaten or jailed. Those with the good jobs ran out of the bar and fled but those of us who remained fought back. ( 1 ) By 1975 Ivan was headlining Leading Ladies of New York, and appeared in Connecticut at the University of Connecticut, in West Hartford at Finocchios East and after fighting against the liquor laws in Ct. and wining in other places around the state.

We are sure very few knew that what happened on December 10, 1975 would be a blow against oppression, a fight for freedom and a big thumbs up for Queer Culture. That night in December along came Lilly Law and her boys and Ivan showed us the way to fight back. A great lesson learned from Stonewall, When you’re under attack, Stonewall means fight back.! More times than not many of our people fall through the cracks of even our ownstories, let alone the mainstreams story books. More times than not these hard fighting folks are people of color. Such is the case of Ivan Valentin in our own Ct LGBT+ stories.

Well that is what Ivan did.

What was the fight about?

“No on-premises consumption place of business such as a restaurant, tavern, hotel, café, or club ,shall permit entertainment consisting of impersonations either of females by males or of males by females, nor shall any permittee of any such establishment advertise, give, permit or participate in any obscene, indecent, immoral, or impure show or entertainment.” ( 2 )

STOP THE SHOW!!

For a brief time from November 1975 to June 1976, the nightspot Finnocchio’s East was an attraction for the gay community. Its New Year’s celebration was called the “First New Year’s Gayla Party” and featured the Arthur Blake Review. According to ads in the Hartford Courant, the Review was so popular that it was held over for four days. An attempt by entertainer Ivan Valentin to perform Leading Ladies of New York with his troop of female impersonators was shut down by the Connecticut State Liquor Commissioner in the winter 1975. Connecticut state law prohibited entertainment at a liquor establishment where men dressed as women or women dressed as men. Valentin said the show was shut down mainly because “it attracted a largely homosexual crowd.” Others argued that the show was seductive and dealt in sexual content. According to Ivan in interviews the show was not seductive and had no sexual content. In a Hartford Courant article written just 4 days after the closing of the show, William Cockerham had this to say, “According to a spokesperson from Finocchios the complaint that closed the show was made by a competitor, another café that was frequented by homosexuals.”( 3 )  Like so many other bars at that time frequented by Lesbian and Gay people a threat was made to the owner of Finocchio’s that if he allowed the show to continue the liquor license for the premises would be taken away. One way folks that those in power kept us down by threatening to close our gathering places.

Ivan a member of The Gay Liberation Front in NYC contacted the membership who came out with full support of Leading Ladies of New York and Ivan and the GLF stated they would join in any actions to be taken “vowing to fight it all the way.” Leading Ladies of New York had performed for years in New York and Massachusetts without any problems. The troupe did impressions of Bette Midler, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Ross and others. I am beginning to wonder if this attack on Ivan Valentin and The Leading Ladies of New York  was rooted in racism and classism owing to the fact that Ivan was a Puerto Rican performer and was very involved with radical politics in NYC.

By June of 1976 things along with the season began to heat up. Ads began appearing that the Chateau de Ville a dinner theater in East Windsor had scheduled a three week show staring the Female impersonator group French Dressing beginning on August 3. When news got around about the show Ivan stated, “That show will open over my dead body, unless my show is allowed to go on.” He then went on to threaten to picket the Chateau de Ville if he had to and filed a formal complaint. Richard Aubuchon, Chateau de Ville manger said, “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. We are talking about two totally different acts. The show at Finnocchio’s was seductive and dealt in a sexual content.” He said people have told him that Valentin’s show is “strictly a drag show and not very professional.” Where as French Dressing does an impersonation of Miss Judy Garland so well, “That I have actually seen people in the audience weeping because it was so real.” Aubuchon went on to say that French Dressing has performed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and has been heralded through-out Europe “as a tremendous entertainment.” ( 3 )

In the Hartford Courant article, “Female Impersonators Would Stop Rival Show,” Henry Donovan, chief inspector for the State Liquor Commission, was quoted as say, “the East Windsor dinner theater would be in violation of the law if the show, French Dressing goes on. The regulation has been on the books for years,” Donovan said. When asked if he would close the show, Donovan said, “probably not, unless there was a complaint.” (3)

Ivan Valentin disputed this by saying, “We have no nudity and we don’t used dirty words. We’re not in drag or impersonating women. We’re entertainers. When we’re off the stage, we take off the makeup, and dress in boy’s clothes.” Tom Condon writing for the Hartford Courant, began his review of ‘French Dressing’ this way, “Feminine beauty whether real or contrived is particularly skin deep on the stage. There has to be more and this is the problem with the female impersonator show, ‘French Dressing’ at the Chateau De Ville in East Windsor.” But then went on to praise some of the performers claiming that some “are seasoned night club entertainers,” another “absolutely amazing” and “two come very close to the truth.” But one just wishes there were more to the show.” ( 4 )

Another source for this ourstory lesson comes from Eric Gordon who at the time wrote for the Hartford Advocate.  In the Hartford Advocate story, Imitation of Images Mr. Gordon writes: “When the Chateau de Ville advertised a revue called “French Dressing” this past summer, Ivan betook himself down to th halls of the Liquor omission and raised a terrible ruckus indeed. Dutifully responding to an outraged citizen’s complain the Commission informed the dinner theatre manager Richard Aubuchon that he too, would be running afoul of the law.” Ivan brought his case to the University of Connecticut School of Law and its Legal Clinic. Louis Parley and a team of UConn lawyers were prepared to file suit in federal court against the Liquor Control Commission seeking to overturn the provision on the basis of unconstitutionality. Claiming that the law was overly broad, vague, and enforced in a unequal and discriminatory fashion. According to Mr. Gordon, “Ivan and the group French Dressing where prohibited while giving the go ahead to Flip Wilson and his character “Geraldine.” ( 5 )

At this time Ivan and the Leading Ladies of New York were performing at the bar in Springfield and a group of UConn Lawyers, students and other interested persons went  to the bar to see the show to, in Mr. Gordon’s words, “make sure they are taking on a worthy case.” They found the show to be harmless and points out that Ivan may be doing something very healthy. He confronts his audience head-on with their uptightness. He demands to know what is your problem with me?” ( 5 )

Ivan at the time of the fight back.

THE SHOW WILL GO ON!! (more…)

As Initial members of the Rainbow Solidarity to Free the Cuban Five we are proud to repost this greeting and solidarity. We received this via ANSWER coalition.

cuban_five.jpg

On behalf of the former National Committee to Free the Cuban Five — today, the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee — we send a warm greeting to all the compañeras and compañeros gathered today at the headquarters of ICAP, on this 20th anniversary of the beginning of the resistance of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René, when they were arrested by the FBI for daring to defend Cuba from U.S. sponsored terrorism.

Despite the 13 to 16 years of terrible and unjust imprisonment, the legal offensive that was arrayed against you Five, the abuse of your families by the U.S. system, especially the denial of visits to Adriana and Olga, you brothers never gave in, never gave up.

And all of Cuba was at your side, with Fidel at the front, the same as during the struggle for the return of Elián.
The heroic resistance of the Five gave the international Cuba solidarity movement the continuous inspiration to organize and fight for their freedom.
We started our National Committee to Free the Cuban Five in late June 2001, after the letter of the Five to the people of the United States explaining their anti-terrorist mission, was published in Granma on June 17, 1998. (more…)

This is a ideas collage, in the service of the people. It is gleaned from many sources.

“We are getting beaten, raped and robbed and we are afraid to tell the police. Why because if they find out we are sex workers then what. On your knees bitch, suck my dick. I going to arrest you for prostitution or worse, give you a fucking slap upside of the head, a night stick up your ass. No baby the police are not my friend no matter what some folks want to tell us. In fact I think all cops are bastards and I hate them.”

*********************

Thought for everyday.

Who killed our sister? Can You Spell Cops!

Comrade Marielle Franco, Present!!

Brazil and the world have been shocked by the assassination of the Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman, Marielle Franco, of the PSOL (Party of Socialism and Freedom) and her driver Anderson Gomes on March 15, 2018. Millions have taken to the streets in Rio and in other cities throughout Brazil to denounce this crime and call for justice. Marielle was assassinated after she left a meeting called to advocate for the rights of Black women–one of the most oppressed, discriminated against and exploited sectors under capitalism in Brazil, where a Black is killed every 23 minutes. Today in Rio de Janeiro, millions of Blacks, workers, students and housewives live in terrible conditions of extreme poverty in favelas (poor neighborhoods) under the threat of violent state repression, drug traffickers, arms dealers and criminals. Marielle was a young, Black lesbian and socialist activist for the rights of women, Blacks, inhabitants of the favelas and the LGBT community. She devoted her life to systematically speaking out against police and paramilitary repression and focused on describing how state violence attains levels of ethnic and social cleansing.

President Michel Temer has declared that “This crime against an elected city council woman will not go unpunished.” The spokespersons of the governing parties and the establishment media have declared that the assassination of Marielle is the product of “organized crime.” However, Marielle was murdered when fourteen 9-mm-caliber bullets were fired into her car. It has come to light that the same type of bullets is used by the Federal Police (FP), and the latest investigations indicate that the bullets belong to a lot of ammunition acquired by the police in December 2006. To read more about this go to HERE. 

Blue Lives Murder! and that is exactly what they do.

Stephon Clark, an unarmed Sacramento man killed by police in his grandmothers backyard last month was shot from behind 6 times according to an independent autopsy released Friday. Two more bullets hit the 22 year old father in the leg and the arm March 18– wounds inflicted by police who said they were hunting a neighborhood vandal. In police accounts, cops said that Clark whose death prompted major protests across the country, had been facing them holding an object extended in front of him. The object was later determined to be a white cell phone. ( 1 )

We shouldn’t expect the police to be something they’re not. We ought to know that origins matter, and the police were created by the ruling class to control working class and poor people, not help them. They’ve continued to play that role ever since.

(more…)

Trans women of color are targeted and policed for the “crime” of existing!..Queer Shame Leaflet

In Part one we explored a comment made by the Deputy Chief of Police in Hartford Connecticut and our response to the comment brought on by asking two questions. One what type of military weapons did Hartford Police have and two Why should we believe that HPD is any better than any other police department across the U.S. Both questions were answered by Mr. Foley nearly writing a book. Of course not taking it laying down we took in our best fashion of writing a book did so. The essay can be found HERE.

We are concerned when we think about this quote: “The police are going to find an excuse to … break out the toys,” he says. “When you dress them up as soldiers, and you equip them like soldiers, they’re going to act like warriors; They’re going be in our communities, on our streets, in our homes, engaging in a war.” How true. Here is an excellent article The Local Fight to Demilitarize the Police.  and, “this it’s up to cities and local governments to step in—either say “no, thanks” to such weaponry or lay out a transparent, public process by which these acquisitions will be made by their law enforcement agency.” Which we learned from Part 1 of this essay is exactly what two of our council people along with the American Civil Liberties Union-CT is doing with the police departments request to buy drones and other surveillance equipment. Someone has got to keep these lawbreakers from breaking the law.

We will continue to ask questions in Part 3 and continue to explore this issue. We will continue to inform our readers of other groups that are working on these many progressive issues and that should receive what support we can give. Check them out. Maybe you will find some new friends, a new way of seeing, a new movement to be a part of.

What’s Up Queerfolk?

We thought to ourselves Hey, Queers let’s not leave it at just that. Let’s tell whomever wants to know just where we are coming from as members of a body of queer revolutionary people. We are sure most folks in this town who are cops Mr. Foley included know the folks in the mainstream Lesbian and Gay Movement and most likely wonder what the fuck are these other queer people saying. Well folks here goes.

Queer movements outside of the mainstream LGBT movement have been moving to the forefront in recent years calling for a more inclusive LGBT movement and combining within an understanding that we can not be and are not a single issue people. We wish to take a look a several of these groups, some let me say we are firm supporters of by any way that we can. These movements work outside of the mainstream LGBT community and work on issues that most of the mainstream only give lip service to. Ending police violence against Transgender people and people of color, ending the  school to prison pipeline, stopping the police from arming themselves with military style weapons, disarming the police, putting an end to prostitution free zones, stopping the harassment of homeless queer youth, oppression by cops and the military, gentrification of poor neighborhoods, immigrant rights, of course many other issues and the bringing of Pride back to its radical roots.

No Justice No Pride is a collective of organizers and activists from across the District of Columbia. We exist to end the LGBT movement’s complicity with systems of oppression that further marginalize queer and trans individuals. Our members are black, brown, queer, trans, gender nonconforming, bisexual, indigenous, two-spirit, formerly incarcerated, disabled, white allies and together we recognize that there can be no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us. (1) No Justice No Pride issued Demands to DC Capital Pride Alliance demands that we agree with 100%. To read the demands see our notes below. (2) We are proud of these young queer revolutionaries who do not swallow the mainstream  Gay Inc way of working. These young folks understand the old message that we are here, there, and everywhere, and that an injury to one is an injury to all. They understand that it is foolish to be only concerned with LG issues, which usually are mainstream white issues. How we love these words: “As the once radical LGBTQ+ movement was consolidated into the non-profit industrial complex, Gay Inc. formed and continues to tirelessly work to assimilate itself into mainstream cis-hetero systems of power that depend upon white supremacy, patriarchy, settler colonialism, and other systems of oppression.” To read more about what this group has built in 2017 go to HERE.

On the issue of Capital Pride

“We look forward to working with Capital Pride’s new leadership to reach solutions regarding Capital Pride’s problematic sponsors who are invested in the marginalization of trans and queer people of color, and regarding Capital Pride’s collaboration with the Metro Police Department. Considering the significant uptick in MPD’s use of force against DC’s black residents — as outlined in MPD’s recent 2017 use of force report — it is now more important than ever to encourage those representing DC’s trans and queer communities to support alternatives to policing and apply pressure for significant, transformative police reform.” And that friends is happening even though MPD has a LGBT Liaison.

LAGI Queer Insurrection

One group that we have long had a fondness for is LAGI-Queer Insurrection. The group states the following: We do poster campaigns and small direct actions, and participate in larger demonstrations and organizing coalitions. We are active in protests against war, the death penalty and police brutality, in the Palestine solidarity movement and the struggle to save social security and workers’ rights.We are anti-authoritarian, anti-militarist, pro-feminist and anti-racist, and we demand that queer issues never be put on the back burner. We will accept nothing less than full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, but we believe some rights are not worth fighting for. We do not think queers or straights should be in the military of a society like the u.s., or probably any government, and we feel that the queer liberation position is to oppose marriage as the central institution of patriarchy, not to try to get married ourselves. ******

Prison Theme Party is met with resistance. We can not imagine that anyone would hold a Prison Theme Party. Where folks go and pretend that they are locked up. I don’t think in fact I know that prison is not a theme party. We as LGBT folks should be working to abolish prisons not pretend to have fun in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Queer & Trans Radicals Take The Streets Against Prison-Themed Party
by FireWorks
Monday Jun 30th, 2014 2:47 AM

Text from the flyer distributed:

While trans women and gender nonconforming people of color are kidnapped, tortured, brutalized and murdered by the prison industrial complex, KINK.COM and SF PRIDE© have once again turned these genocidal practices into a cash-making joke.

They mockingly invite people to “get arrested” and enjoy “Solitary confinement, showers, jailbreak, love and lust, freedom and confinement” at their “Prison of Love” Pride 2014 party. No honey, bye.

If You Don’t Know, Now You Do:

• 2.5 million people are incarcerated in the US

• millions more are held in ICE detention centers, juvenile facilities and psychiatric prisons

• trans women of color are targeted and policed for the “crime” of existing

• the most dangerous people in this world are not in prisons, they are the people running the government, banks, courts, and military

• we will collectively abolish this shit

GAY SHAME is a Virus in the System. We are committed to a queer extravaganza that brings direct action to astounding levels of theatricality. We will not be satisfied with a commercialized gay identity that denies the intrinsic links between queer struggle and challenging power. We seek nothing less than a new queer activism that foregrounds race, class, gender and sexuality, to counter the self-serving “values” of gay consumerism and the increasingly hypocritical left. We are dedicated to fighting the rabid assimilationist monster with a devastating mobilization of queer brilliance.

 

The Socialist Worker article The police have no place at Pride is a must read.   We like these lines  “In response, the Washington, D.C.-based No Justice No Pride is calling for an end to “the LGBTQ movement’s collusion with systems of oppression that further marginalize queer and trans individuals.” Their demands include eliminating corporate sponsorship of Pride and a ban on both corporations and police from participating in Pride celebrations.”

“When corporations like Wells Fargo–which helped sponsor the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and stands accused of contributing to the mortgage crisis with its predatory practices–also sponsor Pride parades, there’s ample reason for activists who understand the need for building solidarity among struggles of the oppressed to be concerned.
Moreover, the presence of police flies in the face of Pride’s origins. After all, Pride celebrations take place in late June to commemorate the 1969 riot at New York’s Stonewall Inn in response to the police targeting the LGBTQ community.”

And this:

“If we want liberation for all LGBTQ people, let alone equal rights with our straight counterparts, we have to learn the lessons of the era of radicalism from which Stonewall emerged–as O’Brien writes, “a time period when movements actively saw themselves in solidarity with liberation struggles taking place across the world against all systems of oppression, empire and occupation.”
Our movement has to draw a line against perpetrators of state violence, from U.S. police to Israeli occupiers. And this movement must also embrace the idea that solidarity is our strongest weapon.
Increased corporate presence and sponsorship at Pride comes at a cost–and that is heightened policing. If Pride is to be an authentic celebration of the LGBTQ community, its accomplishments and aims yet to be fought for, we must oppose police presence at and involvement in Pride. Protection of the LGBTQ community will come from below, not from above, and it will take collective resistance to the powers that be to get there.”

All cops are bastards does not mean every cop is the devil incarnate. It means that there is something wrong with the kind of person who would agree to participate in a prison industrial complex masquerading as a justice system…DariaBut Gay (more…)

I don’t know maybe we would just walk away.

Because We Remember Lynne Stewart

Facebook Page HERE.

Dick Gregory fasted to free Lynne Stewart – We must continue the struggle and FREE THEM ALL!

**Join us as we celebrate Lynne’s birthday!**

FRIDAY OCTOBER 6
6:30-10:00pm ~ Doors open @ 6:00pm
The Theater @ 80 St. Mark’s
80 St. Mark’s Place between 1st & 2nd Ave

FILM
Flavia Fontes: Lynne Stewart Documentary

PANELS
What is a Political Prisoner ?
Ann Lamb New York Jericho, Sekou Odinga North East Political Prisoner Contingent, Mimi Rosenberg Building Bridges: WBAI Radio, Frank Velgara ProLibertad
Getting Our Political Prisoners On the National Agenda
Sara Flounders International Action Center, Bob Lederer queer anti-imperialist, Resistance Bklyn, Daniel McGowan Certain Days Collective, Assemblyman Charles Barron P.O.W.E.R., Ralph Poynter Lynne Stewart Organization

(more…)

“As indigenists, as revolutionaries, we stand firm in our rejection of all heroes of empire and the distorted histories around them spun by both the forces of the colonial state and its loyal opposition among the so-called left”… Eaemaehkiw Thupaq Kesiqnaeh

An 8′ high bronze sculpture of Christopher Columbus stands on an 8′ by 10′ by 10′ granite base. The statue was created by Vincenzo Miserendino and dedicated on October 12, 1926.
The figure of Christopher Columbus is standing astride on a world globe surrounded by ocean waves that cascade onto the base. He is looking straight ahead while wearing a long 15th century garment, belted at the waist, that reaches his calfs, stocking and a fur lined coat. The front of the base is inscribed:
COLVMBVS
Presented
To The City Of Hartford
By Its
Italian-American
Citizens
Dedicated
October 12, 1926