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It’s a hideous lie to say Republicans are more gay-friendly because of Trump


I don’t particularly like the San Francisco Chronicle’s political columnist, Joe Garofoli, because he’s always taking cheap shots at Gov. Newsom, whom I admire. I suspect he’s secretly a crypto-trumper.

Especially obnoxious was his headline yesterday: “GOP gets gay-friendlier—thanks to, yes, Trump.”

You read that right: Donald Trump, protector of LGBTQ people, is making the homophobic Republican-Evangelical Party gay-friendly!

Now, I have to say Garofoli may not have written the headline; his editor might have been the culprit. And Garofoli wasn’t actually responsible for the subject of his column, whom he quoted: Charles Moran, managing director of the Log Cabin Republicans.

The LCRs are a rather queer (in the old sense) group of gay rightwingers. For all their 40-plus years of existence, they’ve puzzled and infuriated the vast majority of gays, who wonder why anyone gay would support an outfit that wants to obliterate LGBTQ people.

The weirdo headline was based on Garofoli’s interview with Moran. It stemmed from his statement that “One of the best things about [Trump] is that he helped get the Republican Party beyond the hang-up around LGBT equality issues.”

Now you, Dear Reader, might be scratching your head in wonderment about how Trump moved his party beyond their gay hang-up. Well, Moran’s thesis is that Trump wasn’t as horrible toward LGBTQ people as most Republicans might have been. And so, in Moran’s fever dream, because he wasn’t as Hitleresque as other Republicans, he actually helped the Republican Party toward gay acceptance.

There’s so much wrong and dishonest about this that it’s hard to know where to begin, starting with Trump’s alleged gay-friendliness. To set the record straight, the Trump regime “gutted LGBTQ+ rights,” says the decidedly conservative-leaning USA Today newspaper. The article details some of the more homophobic things the Trump regime did, including

  • Removing all mention of LGBTQ people and issues from the White House website
  • Barring transgendered people from the military
  • Pushed for exemptions that would allow health care providers to refuse care to transgender people and those with HIV/AIDS
  • Banned U.S. embassies from flying the rainbow flag to mark global Pride Month
  • Outlawed the words “transgender” and “diversity” in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports
  • Stopped data collection for LGBTQ+ kids in foster care
  • And, of course, appointed some of the most rightwing, homophobic fanatics to the Supreme Court—justices whose anti-gay rulings will turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights for decades to come.

Do you remember that scene from The Caine Mutiny when the Jose Ferrer character tosses a glass of water into the face of the Fred MacMurray character? That’s what I’ll do if I ever have the non-pleasure of meeting Charles Moran. The guy is a tool, a liar, and a self-professed apologist for the infamies of the homophobic Trump Party, which are legion. Mr. Moran may say to himself that he’s not a single-issue voter, and that the mere fact that he’s gay doesn’t prevent him from voting Republican. I can accept that, although it rubs me the wrong way.

But for Moran to claim that Trump pushed the Republican Party in a gay-friendly way is appallingly dishonest spin. It’s the kind of propaganda we’ve come to expect from Republican extremists, and it’s sad that San Francisco’s paper of record, the Chronicle, has chosen to plaster those rightwing lies on its own pages.

The World According to Trump


Part 1. The Conspiracy

October, 2019

Scene: A secret house in Wuhan, China.

In attendance: Chinese President Xi. Hillary Clinton. George Soros. Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Ma Xiaowei, Chinese Minister of Health, and various translators.

President Xi: I welcome everyone to our secret meeting, to develop a plan to overthrow U.S. President Donald Trump.

[All]: Thank you, President Xi.

President Xi: I will turn the floor over to Dr. Xiaowei.

Dr. Xiaowei: Thank you, President Xi. Ladies and gentlemen. We have developed in our laboratory here in Wuhan a brand new virus, capable of causing a pandemic.

Dr. Fauci: I thought as much!

Hillary Clinton: Dr. Xiaowei, how will this new virus help us in our goal of getting rid of Trump?

Dr. Xiaowei: I am glad you asked. For the answer, I turn the floor over to Mr. Soros, who has financed our effort.

George Soros: Thank you Dr. Xiaowei. We have carefully analyzed this situation, and—

Hillary Clinton: –Who is “we”, George?

George Soros: Well, in addition to myself, there’s the Obamas, Jeff Bezos, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Cher, Bill Gates, George Clooney, Steve Heimoff, David Hogg, Antifa of course, and–

President Xi: –In other words, the entire left wing power structure of the U.S.

George Soros: Well, Oprah didn’t want to get involved. But pretty much, yeah. And our conclusion is that, if we can spread an incurable virus in America prior to the election next November, we can turn public opinion against Trump, and he’ll lose.

Hillary Clinton: Diabolically clever.

George Soros: I didn’t make $100 billion by being dumb.

Dr. Fauci: But tell me, Dr. Xiaowei, how did you manufacture this virus? What sort of virus is it? How do you propose to unleash it in America? How will you prevent it from spreading to your own people, much less the entire world? How many people will it kill?

Dr. Xiaowei: You ask many questions, Comrade Fauci. It is a coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci: I love it. Aerosol spread. Impossible to contain. No cure. Looks menacing on T.V. But aren’t you afraid it will contaminate your own people?

Dr. Xiaowei: No. The strain we developed isn’t particularly lethal. It’s no more serious than the average flu.

Hillary Clinton: Then how will it contribute to Trump losing the election?

George Soros: This is where Dr. Fauci comes in. With his credibility, he can convince the American public to shut down the entire economy. He’ll scare the kreplach out of them. As the economy tanks, we’re pretty sure Trump will downplay the virus and tell people not to worry. But Dr. Fauci will keep up his fake warnings, which will be amplified by the useful idiots of the media. Then the American people will blame Trump for the virus, and they’ll vote him out of office.

Dr. Fauci: It’s a great plan. I can do that.

Hillary Clinton: Count me in!

President Xi: Then we’re all in agreement?

[All nod]

President Xi: Excellent. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Xiaowei will give you a vial containing trillions of germs of the new virus. It shall be your responsibility to spread it across America.

Dr. Fauci: Excellent! I’m already thinking where to start: New York City.

Hillary Clinton: The media capital of the world!

President Xi: Well, we consider Beijing the world’s media capital.

Hillary Clinton: Except that your media is state-run.

President Xi: As if yours isn’t? What do you call Fox News?

George Soros: Secretary Clinton, President Xi, please! Can we get back to the secret plan?

Dr. Fauci: After New York, I’ll bring it to Seattle. There’s a public market near the Space Needle that tourists go to. The virus will spread like wildfire. Between Seattle and New York, it will vector out to the rest of the country in [takes out his calculator and starts punching numbers] 28.5 days.

George Soros: In other words, by mid-November.

Dr. Xiaowei: I’d give it a little longer. These things never develop the way you expect them to.

Dr. Fauci: Okay, mid-December. By the end of January, beginning of February, I’ll be able to create genuine panic across America.

George Soros: Fauci, you’re the original Doctor Evil!

Dr. Fauci: I thank you, good sir.

Hillary Clinton: The Democratic National Committee and our friends in the media can help. I know I can count on Rachel.

Dr. Xiaowei: Oh, are you close to Rachel Maddow? I love her!

President Xi: And the next thing you know, it will be November, 2020, and your presidential election.

Dr. Fauci: And [punches more numbers into his computer] about 400,000 dead Americans.

President Xi: You can’t make egg foo young without breaking a few eggs.

[All laugh]

President Xi: All right. Thanks, comrades! Meeting adjourned.

A visit from Trump-loving cousins


Cousin Justin and his wife, Elaney, were driving up from Tulsa to stay with us for three days, now that the pandemic was easing. We hadn’t seen them for ten years. Justin was retired from his mid-management job at a pharmaceutical company. Elaney had been a schoolteacher before marrying Justin—the second marriage for both—after which she worked at Wal-Mart for a while. They enjoyed a comfortable retirement in Tulsa; Justin played a lot of golf and Elaney contented herself with baking and crocheting.

Hazel and I had the extra bedroom, now that the kids were gone, so they could stay there. We figured we’d show them San Francisco’s famous sights, drive across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands, and go down Highway 1 to Princeton and Santa Cruz. Elaney had never been to the Bay Area and wanted to see everything.

Their flight was right on time. We met them at SFO’s Terminal 2. Justin was grayer than I remembered, while Elaney had gained a lot of weight. “Oh, God,” Hazel whispered when they hove into view. “Don’t say anything.”

Neither wore a mask, although mask-wearing was still required at the airport. I’d heard from another cousin that Justin and Elaney thought that masks were unnecessary and that the shutdowns had been unwarranted, but then, they lived in Oklahoma, one of the reddest states in the country, and Justin had always tended to veer Republican. Hazel and I had decided we’d do our best to steer away from politics during their visit.

It was sunny and warm at SFO, but on the drive back to Pacifica the fog closed in, as usual, and the temperature fell by a good 15 degrees. Elaney was fascinated. “Ah jus’ cain’t believe it!” she said, in her Sooner State accent. “Why, y’all must have a heckuva time figurin’ out what to wear!” We all laughed. “The weather’s one of the things we love about the Bay Area,” Hazel said. “It’s so diverse.”

Justin was looking out the window. We’d left the freeway and were driving up to Skyline Boulevard through suburban neighborhoods. Many of the houses still had Biden-Harris signs in their yards, left over from last year’s election. “Guess we’re in Blue Country,” Justin mused.

Hazel, who was in the front passenger side, and I glanced at each other. “Anyone want to listen to a CD?” she chirped. “We have Beatles, Carole King, Kenny Loggins…”

“Got any Christian music?” Elaney asked. I almost braked the car, I was so taken aback. Hazel seemed to be struggling to find something to say. We were all Jewish. Justin, like me, had been bar mitzvah. We knew that Elaney wasn’t Jewish when Justin married her, but the subject of her religious beliefs had never surfaced. We’re liberals; it doesn’t matter what religion you practice, as long as the marriage is based on love.

“Umm,” Hazel muttered, rifling through the CD box. “I don’t think so.”

Justin changed the subject. “People out here still wearing those masks?”

“They are,” I replied, as we turned west on Sharp Park Road, headed down the hill toward the sea. “Even though the Bay Area has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, second only to Seattle, I believe. But people are still wearing masks.”

“Why” Elaney asked.

This time it was Hazel’s turn to answer. “Well, I think for a couple reasons. One, the variants are out there, and people still aren’t sure about them. Also, it’s common courtesy to wear a mask, even if you’ve had both shots. Have you guys had your shots?”

I flinched. Hazel didn’t really have to ask that question at that time.

“’Course not,” Elaney said. “It’s all fake. I mean, the virus and all.”

Justin picked up the theme. “That’s what I don’t get. This Fauci—who’s a real socialist looney—convinced everybody to be paranoid about COVID. I mean, people die all the time. More people die of the flu every year than supposedly died of COVID, but we don’t shut the country down every time somebody gets the flu.”

A heavy quiet filled the car.

“President Trump was right,” Elaney volunteered. “The Chinese Flu was introduced to hurt America. Everybody knew it then, but the antifa atheists and big international money hoaxed people into it. And look what happened. Gonna take decades for the U.S. to get back on its feet.”

We hit Highway 1 and swung south toward our house. I knew that Hazel was thinking the same thing as I: It’s going to be a long three days.

An Urban Morality Tale


I was second in line for the register at the CVS, waiting to pay for a bottle of vitamins and a can of Ajax. The lady ahead of me clearly needed extra help. The cashier had come out from her place behind the counter to help the lady consolidate her shopping cart of stuff—mainly junk food and toilet paper—into three large bags. The lady was very short and obese, middle-aged, probably Latina. She was practically naked below the waist, her heavy thighs jiggling, but her calves were wrapped in Ace bandages. She wore a heavy, long black hoodie. Her dark hair, streaked with gray, was neatly pulled into a pony tail.

When she was finished, I stepped up to the register; my transaction was short. As I approached the store’s door, the lady was struggling: as soon as she exited the store, her shopping cart’s wheels had frozen up. She didn’t seem to realize the cart was going nowhere. I went back and told the cashier that the lady’s wheels had locked up. “I told her they would,” she replied, shaking her head. There was nothing she could do.

When I got back out to the sidewalk the lady was muttering to herself, trying to push the shopping cart. It was completely jammed, but the lady didn’t seem to realize it; she pathetically tried to push it along. Well, part of me just wanted to get on with my day, but the other part—my conscience, I suppose—wouldn’t let me.

“Can I help?” I asked. She was very sweet, with a beautiful smile. “Oh, yes,” she said. “Your cart is broken,” I explained. “Where are you going? Can I help you carry your packages?”

“Albuquerque,” she responded. Obviously I couldn’t leave her alone. She needed help. I took the heaviest bag as she started walking down Broadway, east toward the hills. I tried to make conversation. “Albuquerque is a long way from here,” I said. “Are you sure that’s where you’re going?”

“The Post Office,” she said.

“There is no Post Office this way,” I said,

“Oh yes there is,” she insisted. “On 41st Street.” Then I remembered, she was right. But we were on 30th Street. “That’s a long way from here,” I said. “And you can’t carry all your bags. Let me see if I can get someone to help.”

I asked her to put the bags on the sidewalk and wait while I turned away and dialed 9-1-1. I was on hold for maybe a minute and then the dispatcher answered. I told her the situation and described what the lady looked like. She said we were assigned a high priority and someone would be coming to help us.

We were now across the street from Sprouts. It was a beautiful, sunny day. “Let’s just wait here for a while,” I told my new friend, whose name was JoAnne. “Someone will be coming to help you.” She was exceedingly friendly, and while she didn’t have much to say, she answered all my questions; I tried to engage her. Yes, Albuquerque was a nice place. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and there were cacti. Yes, she had a son, 44, and a daughter, 22.

“You can’t have a 44-year old son,” I said. “You don’t look 44 yourself!” She smiled. She was leaning on her cane and didn’t look very steady. Just then a man showed up. “Would you like a chair?” He was a developer who was building the new condo building we were in front of. He went inside and got a folding chair and JoAnne sat on it. Then the man went away and said that we could just leave the chair there when we were finished with it.

If you’ve ever waited for a 9-1-1 call to show up, you’ll know what I was feeling. JoAnne kept trying to pick up her bags and walk down Broadway, but since she couldn’t carry all of them, and was unsteady on her feet, and was disoriented, how could I let her go? Why was she out on her own in the first place?

“Where do you live, JoAnne,” I asked.

“On 20th Street.” That was downtown, in the opposite direction from where she was trying to walk.

“Twentieth Street is back there.”

“Albuquerque,” she repeated. I smiled. She smiled. It was almost like a game.

The minutes ticked by. Every so often JoAnne would pick up one or two of her bags and set off up Broadway again. I realized that she was a free, sovereign being, entitled to go where she wanted; but still, was it right to let her go? And what about her third bag, the one she couldn’t carry? Why was the 9-1-1 taking so long? What was the right thing to do?

I convinced JoAnne to sit down again but she seemed fidgety. I made small talk. What was her favorite T.V. show? “Good Morning America.” What was her favorite food? “Burritos,” she smiled, with a wide grin. “And tacos.” “There’s a great taco truck just down the block,” I said. She smiled and nodded. Then I could think of no more questions and we lapsed into silence.

“Do you like music?” I asked. “Oh, yes.” “Would you like to listen to a song?” I took my iPhone from my pocket and went to my iTunes library and believe it or not the first song to play was “She Loves You.” JoAnne immediately recognized it and sang along, and she did a little dance and so did I and we must have made quite a sight on Broadway.

Just then a bus pulled up; we happened to be at a bus stop. JoAnne got very excited and tried to pick up her bags to board the bus while I asked her if that was what she really wanted to do, and wouldn’t she rather stay with me because someone was coming to help her. She didn’t answer and made for the bus but she’d taken so long that the bus driver pulled away and disappeared down Broadway. “Oh, darn it,” JoAnne said.

Maybe ten minutes went by and I was getting antsy. Was I doing the right thing or the wrong thing? Was I wrongly detaining this perfectly nice lady from going where she wanted? Was I, in fact, breaking some kind of law? But all I wanted was to help her. She wasn’t capable of being on her own, or so I thought. And where was the damned police car anyway? It had been at least 30 minutes since the dispatcher said we were high priority.

Then another bus approached. I told JoAnne. Excitedly, she picked up her two bags and hobbled over to the curb on her cane. I took her third bag. The bus pulled up and the door opened and JoAnne began to try to get up the stairs with the bags. The driver, behind his plastic shield, was not amused. The look on his face said, “Great. Another one.” As JoAnne struggled up the steps I said to the driver, “She’s a little disoriented.” He clearly didn’t want any part of it, and I couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t his problem. JoAnne trudged to the middle of the bus, found a seat and put her two bags on the floor, while I followed her with the third bag, telling the driver not to pull away because I wasn’t taking the bus, I was just helping this lady with her package. The poor driver…

“JoAnne, here’s your other bag. Keep an eye on it, okay?” “Okay,” she said. I left the bus, troubled.

Forty-five minutes later my phone rang. It was the Oakland Police. Two cops had arrived at 30th and Broadway, across from Sprouts, but there was no one there. Did I still need help? I tried to explain what had happened—I couldn’t stop JoAnne from boarding the bus. But the dispatcher plainly didn’t want to hear a story. She just wanted to know if I still needed help.

“No,” I said.

I don’t know what happened to JoAnne. I’m not blaming the cops. OPD is severely understaffed because the city won’t adequately fund them. There’s a lot of talk, in this “Reimagining Policing” era, of replacing cops with social workers in responding to situations like JoAnne’s. But nothing has been done and I don’t know what can be done; I mean, would a social worker show up faster than the cops? Is JoAnne the new normal, a nice, sweet, peaceful lady with mental impairment who thinks she’s going to Albuquerque, or maybe it’s the Post Office? Is there no one to help her? Or was I, perhaps, out of line? Maybe she was perfectly capable of getting to where she thought she was going; maybe I was a meddling old fool. Maybe she’s still out there on the streets, wandering around with her bags, naked from the waist down. What would you have done?

Guest editorial: Bill Bratton on “defund the police”

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(Bill Bratton served as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, chief of the New York City Transit Police, and commissioner of the Boston Police Department and the New York City Police Department. This piece has been adapted from “THE PROFESSION: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America” by Bill Bratton and Peter Knobler. Published by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by William Bratton.)

You can’t defund an institution to punish it and think that this action is going to make it better!

Like Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police is a political hashtag that means different things to different people. Some want to abolish the police altogether; others want to take money out of police budgets and give it to social‐service agencies to be used for community needs and activities, particularly focused on minorities. Still others want to, as they put it, redesign or reimagine policing. 

All are centered around the idea of taking from law enforcement organizations of the responsibilities and associated funding that have become flash points—dealing with the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicted—and putting them in other hands.

But there’s a reason those responsibilities have fallen to the police over the years: society in general, and the state in particular, decided it did not have the willpower or the funds to run programs that would handle them successfully. Mental institutions closed; shelters became unwelcoming and unsafe; addiction services became underprioritized and overwhelmed. 

So who ended up as the dumping ground for the homeless in the 1970s? The police. The drug addicts of the ’70s and ’80s? The police. 

Who is having to deal with the issues of today? The police. 

Police departments around the country would be pleased to pass along many of these responsibilities and focus on more traditional policing concerns, but they cannot do that until some other fully capable entity is prepared to step into the breach.

Replacing the police as government caregivers is a great concept; its advocates just have it backward. We saw how small‐government representatives sucked funding out of most social programs since the Kennedy administration. Neutered them, starved them, and then tried to eliminate them. And we saw that the only one standing at the bottom of all society’s safety nets, when people fall through the holes because they are frayed and worn down or purposely ripped open, is the cop. And the country got very comfortable with that.

Shall we invest money in developing more care for emotionally disturbed people? Shall we increase hospital beds and institutions for the mentally ill? Shall we adjust the insurance laws so their needs actually get covered? Or should we just say, “Ahh, screw it. The cops will handle it”? 

Society had made that choice already, now they were rethinking it. Should we deal with the homeless with treatment and housing? Or should we tell the cops to tell them, “Keep moving it along”?

Again, we’ve done that before; that’s how the cops became the enemy of the homeless. Should we deal with drug addiction and rehab and programs on a national basis, or should we just say to the cops, “Try to arrest your way through this and make it better”?

You can’t defund the police before you make those investments. You can’t withdraw police services until you have sustained and secured those services in other ways. You can’t take the money from the cops and throw it to failed agencies that don’t know what they’re doing. 

You have to make those investments, and then over time, as these specifically trained organizations get into gear and respond successfully to the responsibilities being given, the police can relinquish their role and defund themselves. The NYPD goes on an emotionally disturbed person call every 4 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If it was not the department’s responsibility, think of all the time that would be available to reduce disorder and prevent crime.

The money must be reinvested first, and then one day police departments across America should be able to wake up and say,

“Wow, we don’t need that many cops. We don’t have that many calls, we don’t have as big a drug problem, we don’t have a serious homeless problem, we are not affected as seriously by mentally ill people who are neither being cared for in a hospital nor supported on the outside.” At that point the departments themselves can say, “You know, we’ve got lots of cops who don’t have that much to do. You can have a few thousand of them back.”

You can’t defund an institution to punish it and think that this action is going to make it better.

But we are not there; we’re nowhere near. And we can’t possibly get there by taking a billion dollars out of the police budget, as has been proposed for the NYPD, including 60% of overtime funding, which is the department’s go‐to tool during a crime wave.

It seems to me that a formidable portion of the effort to defund the police, abolish the police, f*ck the police is just punitive. People are angry and hateful and spiteful. It doesn’t make sense, it’s not well thought out. 

You can’t defund an institution to punish it and think that this action is going to make it better. Under normal circumstances, you have to pour more money into an institution with needs, not less. 

So “Defund the Police” has never made sense to me. “Defund the police and send the money elsewhere” is at least rational, but that money isn’t being sent anywhere else, and the government and/or private agencies in line for those funds didn’t become any smarter or more efficient in the meantime. Those agencies must be rebuilt. Meanwhile, we are going to see exactly what we’re seeing, which is the police doing the job that every other agency has failed to do.

If you defund the police and tell them to stop doing those jobs—to disengage from the homeless, to walk by the mentally ill—the streets will not be pretty. 

As funds are being withdrawn and no replacements are being put in place, nothing is working. In June 2020, the 60% cut in overtime pay resulted in thousands of New York City cops being taken off the streets. The crime rate, particularly shootings, went through the roof. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea equates it to turning off the hoses while a fire in a building is raging. He asks, “What did you expect would happen?” 

#DefundThePolice was a catchy hashtag driving policy. However, policy needs to be based on facts, figures and an understanding of the issues. Defund, redesign, reimagine, abolish the police all had their moments.

The worst idea is that somehow America should simply abolish the police, yet you can hear that call emanating from any number of protest podiums. There is an active opposition to the entire concept of policing that is using this upheaval as a shovel at a grave, saying, “We can abolish this!” What could they be thinking?!

Anytime police are absent, society degenerates. When the powerful but sociopathic decide they are going to take what’s not theirs, who is best trained and able to prevent bad actors from preying upon the community? Cops. With no cops in the streets, lawlessness prevails. Robbery, rape, casual violence, horrendous murder rates. 

Who’s going to stop them? Social workers? Self‐appointed citizen vigilantes? Who are those people and who sets their agenda? It’s not pretty, armed anarchy. 

So, please, that is not going to happen. Forget about abolishing the police.

Celebrating Gay Pride Month


Those of us of a certain age who were born gay have special reason to celebrate this Gay Pride Month of June. It represents our release from the Babylonian Captivity of the homophobic hysteria that gripped the world for millennia.

A young gay boy or girl growing up in America today can have no idea what life was like prior to the Gay Liberation Movement of the last 40 years. This isn’t a criticism of them. Thank God they have no idea. Born free, they can look forward to living full, productive lives, knowing that here in America, at least, a majority of people happily accept the LGBTQ rainbow.

For me, discovering I was gay at the age of about 8 or 9 was one of the most awful things I’ve ever experienced. I’d had no way of knowing there was anything wrong with my natural desires, which were attracted to my male friends. It was beautiful to mess around with them. But one day, I was hanging out with some of the older boys, guys who were 14 and 15. One of them—let’s call him Larry–told a story about how he’d been flunking one of his classes, so he went to see the teacher and asked if there was anything he could do to pass. As it turned out, there was. Larry proceeded to tell his friends that the teacher, an older man, said if Larry let him perform oral sex on him (actually, Larry used the more common vulgarity for the act), then the teacher would pass him. And that’s what happened.

As Larry reached this point in the story, the other guys groaned and made various expressions of disgust. “Oh my God!” they said. “That’s disgusting.” Larry said, “Yeah. There’s people like that around. They’re called ‘fags.’ They like other guys, not girls.”

As I took all this in, my head began to spin, my heart pounded and my stomach sank into my bowels. “That’s what I am,” I thought to myself. “A fag. And, judging from the reaction of these guys, that’s a terrible, awful, horrible thing to be. I have to keep it secret for the rest of my life.”

That was the moment I disappeared into the closet. I didn’t come out for nearly 30 years, when, in 1982, living in San Francisco and leading an active gay life, I finally decided to overcome my fears and let everyone know I was gay.

This June of 2021 also marks the 40th anniversary (if that’s the right word) of the appearance of AIDS in the world. In San Francisco, of course, we were at Ground Zero of the epidemic. For a while, it seemed like we were all going to die. Many of us did. I did not. Those of us who survived made it through, which is another reason to celebrate.

After the AIDS pandemic broke out, I volunteered for a nonprofit called The Shanti Project. They assigned me clients who were very, very sick, and I helped them out a few times a week with chores like laundry, dishwashing, food shopping, vacuuming and dusting and the like. It was my privilege to do so. I’d not been a particularly compassionate or caring person in my life, and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction to do something, little as it was. Every one of my clients died during my service to them.

The gay struggle, however, isn’t over. Nations around the world still arrest, torture and murder gay men and women. Even here in our country, the so-called City on a Hill, there are millions of benighted people—primarily conservative Christians—who hate gay people and would do terrible things to us, if they had the power. They say, “Oh, I hate the sin, not the sinner,” but that’s a lie. I can imagine some Nazi pig in the 1930s in Germany saying, “Oh, I don’t hate the Jews. But we must do something about them.” I have nothing but contempt for homophobes.

To all who are gay who read this – to all who are not gay but who support LGTBQ rights – bless you and keep you in this summer season. Be healthy, continue to do right as you perceive the right. May we all succeed in the continuing struggle for human rights.

Defund the defunders, or how a truly stupid slogan is destroying the Democratic Party


(I also posted this today on my blog at the Coalition for a Better Oakland.)

Barack Obama is against it. Joe Biden is against it. Two-thirds of the American people are against it.

What is “it”? Defunding the police—surely the stupidest, most damaging political slogan in recent American history.

No one is sure where the slogan originated. According to one version, it started in Minneapolis, after the George Floyd murder, when a group called Defund MPD” [Minneapolis Police Department] was formed. The group describes itself as “a Black-led multi-racial coalition of people and organizations in DC who share a common vision of a city without prisons and police.”

No more prisons and police! Imagine that. This swords-into-plowshares vision surely is as old as human aspiration itself. Isaiah prophesized, “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” But he also based this prayer on a proviso: it would not happen until a time when “a king will reign in righteousness, and rulers will rule with justice…[and] My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes.”

Have we reached that point, here in America? Are we living “in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes”? Far from it. “Violent crime is rising in American cities,” The Economist wrote just two days ago. Here in Oakland, we know all too well that “The city of Oakland is in the midst of a violent crime wave,” as the Oakland Police Officers’ Association reported last week. We can debate the causes of this spike in violent crime, which is happening across the country, but what is not debatable is the public’s alarm. “78% of Oakland residents want more police officers,” according to a poll cited by Mayor Libby Schaaf when she presented her 2021-2022 budget, which would largely protect Oakland Police Department funding.

In modern American politics, nothing ever gets 78% support, so for Oaklanders to want a fully-staffed police department is historic. But the will of the people apparently counts for nothing among the defund crowd on the City Council, on the Police Commission, and in radical cults like the Anti Police-Terror Project. In those bastions of woke-ness, an attitude of “We know better” prevails. Damn the public’s desire for safety! Damn the public! We elites of the Left know better. Leave everything to us, and the lamb shall lie down with the lion.

Sorry. We, the public, aren’t buying it. The defund crowd is on the run, and they know it; but, ironically, that makes them all the more dangerous. Like a cornered rat, they bare their teeth and make snarling noises, threatening anyone who comes near with a mauling. We know that the defunders have already cost Democrats scores of seats at the local and Congressional level in the November, 2021 elections. We know, also, that “Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.”

Is that what the defunders want—a Republican wave that destroys the fragile Democratic majority in Congress and leads, frighteningly, to a Trump restoration? The defunders claim to be liberals, but honestly, what they sound like is nothing less than crypto-fascists.

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