sunrise and smoke

Posted in Altadena, Los Angeles fires by SCHA-LA on August 30, 2009

well, there is voluntary evacuation a few blocks from us, so we are going to go. the smoke is REALLY bad. here are some pictures from the sunrise today.


evacuation to-do/what to bring list

Posted in Altadena, Los Angeles fires by SCHA-LA on August 29, 2009

thanks, Lynn, for sending this to us:

if an evacuation should become necessary, the sheriff patrol cars will come through the neighborhood with loud speakers

a few things to keep in mind if you leave your house
1. close all window and move curtains, furniture (everything that could burn) away from windows
2. leave the lights on in the house (so firemen can find your house in the smoke)
3. close all doors inside the house (to contain fire to one room – if possible) move BBQ (propane) away from the house

the pasadena humane society is taking in animals (for free) for people who have to evacuate

there is a shelter at the la canada high school

Your Evacuation Plan
Local government officials, not the Red Cross, issue evacuation orders when disaster threatens. Listen to local radio and television reports when disaster threatens. If local officials ask you to leave, do so immediately!
If you have only moments before leaving, grab these things and go!
• Medical supplies: prescription medications and dentures.
• Disaster supplies: flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, bottled water
• Clothing and bedding: a change of clothes and a sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
• Car keys and keys to the place you may be going (friend’s or relative’s home)

If local officials haven’t advised an immediate evacuation:
If there’s a chance the weather may get worse or flooding may happen, take steps now to protect your home and belongings. Do this only if local officials have not asked you to leave.

Protect your home.
Turn off electricity and water. Turn off electricity at the main fuse or breaker, and turn off water at the main valve.
Leave natural gas on. Unless local officials advise otherwise, leave natural gas on because you will need it for heating and cooking when you return home. If you turn gas off, a licensed professional is required to turn it back on, and it may take weeks for a professional to respond.
Turn off propane gas service. Propane tanks often become dislodged in disasters.
If flooding is expected, consider using sand bags to keep water away from your home. It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a wall one foot high and 20 feet long. Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
Make a visual or written record of all of your household possessions. Record model and serial numbers. This list could help you prove the value of what you owned if those possessions are damaged or destroyed, and can assist you to claim deductions on taxes.
Do this for all items in your home, including expensive items such as sofas, chairs, tables, beds, chests, wall units, and any other furniture too heavy to move. Store a copy of the record somewhere away from home, such as in a safe deposit box.
If it’s possible that your home may be significantly damaged by impending disaster, consider storing your household furnishings temporarily elsewhere.
Gather essential supplies and papers.

You will need the following supplies when you leave your home; put them all together in a duffle bag or other large container in advance:
• Flashlight with plenty of extra batteries
• Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Prescription medications in their original bottle, plus copies of the prescriptions
• Eyeglasses (with a copy of the prescription)
• Water (at least one gallon per person is recommended; more is better)
• Foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking
• Items that infants and elderly household members may require
• Medical equipment and devices, such as dentures, crutches, prostheses, etc.
• Change of clothes for each household member
• Sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
• Checkbook, cash, and credit cards
• Map of the area

Important papers to take with you:
• Driver’s license or personal identification
• Social Security card
• Proof of residence (deed or lease)
• Insurance policies
• Birth and marriage certificates
• Stocks, bonds, and other negotiable certificates
• Wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns


Posted in hiv by SCHA-LA on August 27, 2009

Thoughts on an article from the Bilerico Project

As our state has gone bankrupt and defunded virtually all HIV services, one would think that the cry for universal, single-payer healthcare – or even healthcare reform – would reach a deafening din. It hasn’t, and rather, what I have heard is that people worry that if some sort of healthcare reform is achieved, it will be at the expense of all of the non-medical services that “AIDS, Inc.” provides: housing, case management, financial assistance, food banks, mental health, treatment education, transportation, language assistance, childcare etc. We believe that people living with HIV have more needs than prescriptions alone can fill. And the utilization of services seems to confirm that belief. As did the outcry when our governor line-item vetoed funding for almost everything we provide. Our community came up with these services and built this framework for care.

Eventually, the need for these services surpassed what community could provide (which, in the beginning was advocacy, activism and emotional support, “buddy programs” and things like that), and we moved to a grant-financed (meaning taxpayer financed) system which enabled us to have the capacity to provide more, and more expensive,  services.

Why did the government start funding these programs specifically for HIV positive or at-risk folks? For the same reasons that the state requires people to wear seatbelts in the car. It’s not because they care about the value of human life, it’s because the cost of treating someone after they had a debilitating accident is more than the state/taxpayers want to (or, in some cases, are able to) bear. One can obviously not rule out homophobia or transphobia, racism or sexism when talking about how the state doles out tax dollars, especially when it comes to social services, and doubly-especially when it comes to HIV. We can easily make the case that critical services are underfunded. That isn’t the question when it comes to barebacking, though.

Is it homophobia when a low-to-moderate income earner who pays a higher rate of taxes than the superwealthy resents their tax dollars going  to provide housing to someone who seroconverted despite the presence of free condoms at every gay bar in town? Especially when that same taxpayer can barely afford his or her own housing? Or can you call it sexphobia when someone balks at having to support the cost of a lifetime of antiretrovirals rather than a short-term PEP or PrEP protocol? And if it is homophobic, what is is when the person who has decided that it is their right to have unprotected sex glories/revels in that decision? Couldn’t a case be made that this is also homophobic? At the very least, I think a case could be made that it is a slap in the face to the very notion of community.

A personal decision is simply that: a decision one makes for one’s self, the outcome for which one is personally responsible. When one turns to ADAP or MediCare or any of the other services that they need to live a long, healthy lifestyle after seroconverting, there should at least be an understanding that this wasn’t merely a personal decision. It’s now become a community responsibility. It is also a requirement that taxpayers  outside of our community are forced to take a part in. We don’t want them to be able to police our bodies or our actions. We also don’t want them to ration our healthcare. Eleanor Roosevelt said that “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.

I understand that any suggestion that people behave responsibly is often read as blaming the victim, or as sex-negative (have people framed things this way since the 90s?).  Perhaps having been raised as a girl, I was better prepared than some to expect to have to sacrifice pleasure (condomless sex) to avoid a heavy cost (pregnancy). This was drummed into my head as soon as I started learning about sex – from adults and peers. I didn’t pay that much attention, since I was a lesbian from the gate, but it must have become ingrained because it was what I went back to in my head, when I first heard my gay male friends whining about how unpleasurable and anti-passionate latex-barriered sex would be. How it is the opposite of connection.

I do understand this. I have had unprotected sex with HIV positive women. I have felt like a judgmental traitor when the thought “maybe we should use a barrier” crossed my mind in a way it never did with women I knew to be HIV-negative.  I totally get that. Maybe that’s what’s going on in the minds of some of the barebackers. Maybe not. I doubt in the case one of the posters noted in which his partner lied about wearing a condom that the issue was bonding or closeness.

Another analogy: we (the tax-paying public) might laud a firefighter who, while trying to save someone from a house on fire, becomes disabled. We pay his medical bills (actually his salary), honor his bravery, and share in the pain he & his family suffers. When, on the other hand,  someone sets himself on fire so he can have a cool video to post on youtube, we (rightly) castigate him. We resent having to pay for his stupidity, his narcissism, his utter lack of care for himself, the danger the imposes on his community etc. I  think an analogy might be made to intentional barebacking (especially when one or more of the partners is HIV+ or doesn’t know his status), versus, for example, relationships (or interactions) in which there is a power imbalance and one partner can’t protect himself.

But I don’t really think we need an analogy here. I think it should be said that we ARE a community, and we need to keep acting like it. Especially when it’s hard. Especially when the stakes are high. We need to protect ourselves and the people in our community. But more than that, we need to want to. If we can’t see the value on keeping ourselves, our partners, our friends, our institutions, our art healthy and strong, we will be left to fend for ourselves in a racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and ageist world. And no one will care.

TIME SENSITIVE: health campaign needs images of transfolks

Posted in transgender by SCHA-LA on August 26, 2009
Images can be sent to

she is particularly looking for Transgender images and is having a hell of a time finding what she needs. They can be portraits, or lifestyle type photos, candids if they are specific enough…please can you reach out further …would really like to see the Trans community have a say in how they are seen. I don’t know how big of a project this will be but seems to be for Cancer screenings. She is a NY graphic artist, with quite a reputation in her field. She has images for lesbians and queer men already I believe but is looking for something fabulous for the Trans images. As she said earlier there could be $$ involved but it is a grant so she wasn’t sure how much but definitely photo credit.

Thanks. Here is the copy for the cards: Something along these lines.

Take pride in your body. Take control of your health.

Empower yourself. Get screened for cancer in a safe and friendly LGBT environment.

Lesbians have increased cancer risks. Take pride. Take control. Screen today.

These could be good taglines….
Take pride. Take control. Screen today.
Dream. Aspire. Screen for life.

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Office of AIDS FY2009-10 Budget Implementation Plan

Posted in CA Budget, hiv by SCHA-LA on August 19, 2009

first 12 pages (summary) of 78.

Approximately $85 million General Fund (GF) was eliminated in FY2009-10. This is approximately half of the FY2008-09 GF. The total OA budget for FY2009-10 is $487.6 million. This includes $154 million in Federal Funds and $251 million in ADAP rebate funds (Special Fund).

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free night of LGBT stand-up comedy for recovery month

Posted in lgbt by SCHA-LA on August 13, 2009
09-26-09 OGAAT

One Gay at a Time

images from 08/11/09 protest against the hiv budget cuts

Posted in Activism, CA Budget, hiv by SCHA-LA on August 13, 2009
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can I talk about gay marriage?

Posted in CA Budget, hiv, lgbt, transgender by SCHA-LA on August 10, 2009

some thought off the top of my head after reading this article:

I am uncomfortable writing about this, because my wife and I got married and our marriage was upheld, so in a way I feel that I’ve lost the right to discuss this issue. I don’t want to come off as “ha ha! I got married and you can’t … but let’s move on”. Because I don’t feel that way. In fact, we have really had to – and continue to – soul-search about what it means that we are married now.

But if I had the right, I would say this:

It is unconscionable to pursue marriage in the state of California during this budget nightmare, which is hitting the most vulnerable folks in our various lesbian, gay, trans- communities very, very hard. And which isn’t going away or getting better.

Before the budget situation, I had qualms about centering marriage in the public gay & lesbian discourse because it took focus off of issues with real-world, on-the-ground ramifications (incarceration, the criminalization of poverty and poverty itself, HIV rates, homelessness etc. in our communities to name a few examples). Plus, there are the political and ethical issues which retain to marriage: propping up a sexist institution, inequality, assimilation, freedom etc., which, while all worthy of thought and discussion, don’t have the same material impact. And then there was my now-wife’s adamant insistence on political grounds that she would never get married. We were already domestic partners, and there are no real material benefits to marriage here in California. It’s not like I can sponsor her green card if she gets laid off just because we’re gay-married in California.

Of course it would be a different story all together if we were talking about federally recognized marriage with all of the rights and responsibilities it accrues. But we’re not. And since we’re not – I have to say that soliciting money to move forward with anti Prop 8 ballot initiatives now is wrong.

And social service organizations that serve the LGBT community are worried that there won’t be enough money for social services, especially after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut $52 million in AIDS services from the state budget last month.

Actually, it was $82 million, and remember that this budget isn’t going to hold. the state is expected to be $7 – $8 billion dollars in the hole at the start of the next fiscal year. Which will certainly mean more cuts to HIV – if there is anything left to cut.

If we really want to put our proverbial money where our mouths are, we could do well to remember that virtually all services for transfolks in California are funded through HIV money. As an “LGBT community” I think that we need to consider this when we are thinking about where to donate money.

And many of the non-HIV-specific cuts the state has enacted disproportionately impact HIV+ folks and the people most at risk for HIV infection or transmission. The cuts to HIV in the state include, in addition to care, HIV testing, prevention and education and risk reduction. Keep that in mind.

One of the reasons to press on with a ballot initiative in 2010 that the article lists is that they have been reaching out to new audiences. And by that, they say they are talking about communities of color, and communities in the central valley. I wonder what it looks like to those communities – both hard hit on many fronts – by the budget cuts. I would imagine that it would seem, at best, to be a campaign that is out of touch with the people of the state and their financial concerns. At worst, it looks like privileged gay and lesbian couples who don’t care about anyone’s issues besides their own.

I fear that both of those are true to an extent.

If I just got laid off (or, in my case, furloughed – which I already have) and I opened my mailbox to a solicitation for money for this issue, I’d be fucking furious! And I’m gay! Imagine how irritated someone might be who is on the fence about gay marriage, or who is willing to give this issue some thought. Anyone who has done the slightest bit of research knows that there are no real benefits which are going to accrue to CA gay marriage. Yet they are informed that a successful campaign will cost $50 million.

Even though they got the figure wrong in their article, stating that $52 million was being cut to HIV – how can anyone look at that, and compare $50 million to get this on the ballot and think that this makes sense right now? If they can raise $50 million and they throw it into an election – what does that say about what we think about our community: who we are, what our needs are, or what values we hold?

So why muddy the waters for the agencies which are going to go under – whether it’s HIV prevention, small community agencies or health clinics, or whatever – why make it harder for them to fund-raise? If we believe that gay marriage is an equal rights issue, just like any equal rights issue, than we must consider that the right to stay healthy, housed, or HIV-negative – the right to attend college, (or to know how to read, for that matter!), the right to be free, the right to be safe in one’s school or community (or family), the right to eat –  are also civil rights. And these rights are life-and-death for many people in our communities.

So please … let’s lift up the most hard-hit in our communities. Let’s figure out how to get our people healthy, safe, and strong – then we can all move forward together. And that will provide the strong foundation we need to build true community and strong coalitions and alliances.   And then we can (and must) debate on the issues around marriage itself.

2 fliers Protesta Vigilia y Marcha

Posted in Activism, CA Budget, hiv, Uncategorized by SCHA-LA on August 10, 2009



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flier for protest

Posted in Activism, CA Budget, hiv by SCHA-LA on August 6, 2009
Tuesday August 11 at 7pm

Tuesday August 11 at 7pm