request for solidarity letters/support for escalation of racist/homophobic threats and transphobic violence

Posted in lgbt, transgender by SCHA-LA on April 23, 2010

NOTE: “Last week a transgender student was attacked on the CSULB campus. This person does not want to disclose identity, this person is dealing with it privately and wishes for it to remain that way. This person is thankful for the concern the community is showing and is grateful for your well wishes. Thank you for respecting this person’s privacy at this time”

From: Katherine Ojeda Stewart

Hi friends,

Sorry to blast on email and sorry for the scary subject heading – but I was asked to pass this information along. Note: what I’m passing on is pretty graphic and upsetting, just so you are prepared . . ..

I shared with some folks that recently California State University Long Beach has had a pretty serious anti-LGBTQ response to a Chicana Feminisms conference that was hosted there about a month ago. The conference was organized by the student group Conciencia Femenil. The attacks came in the form of remarks made on the student newspaper (online) that included calling the conference organizers “a bunch of lesbians hiding under the guise of feminism”, calling Alma Lopez a “fucking idiot” and her art sacrilegious, Cherrie Moraga a “perverted dyke”, the conference an “abomination”, stating that “lesbians and homosexuals . . . . practice their abominable sexual perversions [and] want to be able to destroy the religions which oppose them,” and finally . . . a call to murder all LGBTQ folks under Aztec Law, and specifically noting the *way in which they should be murdered*.

Big sighs.

So apparently, people are taking the violence from the page, to real life. Below is part of an email from Clarissa Rojas, a former INCITE! National person. She teaches at CSULB, has been working with the students both on organizing the conference and organizing in response to this violence.

*From Clarissa*:

*i have some bad news tambien to share with you, i’ll post something on it today on facebook and if you could also share with folks.* *there was a recent escalation of the violence at csulb, we’re gathering with some new students to talk about how to organize against the stuff we’ve been dealing and this new attack: a trans student left class [one] night to go to the bathroom and on the way there was assaulted by someone who knew [X] by name but whom [X] didnt know. he beat [X] and threw [X] against a wall then carved “It” on [X’s] chest with a knife.*

I know this is intense and a lot to pass on in an email – but I wanted to let you all know. Also, I know I’ve stepped out of INCITE until after the bar is over, but if there is any capacity to support CSULB I really hope our chapter can take that on. Clarissa’s email is: .

Sending love to you all,


Katherine Ojeda Stewart, M.A.
J.D. Candidate, UCLA School of Law, Class of 2010


80s and 90s queer activism

Posted in lgbt by SCHA-LA on February 17, 2010

What did “queer” activism look like in the 80s and 90s, and who was doing it? What are the differences to activists of the 60s / 70s / 00s? What did visibility mean, and what did it look like? Who were your activist heroes of those days?

I’m using “queer” as a blanket term – not to assign identity – but rather to focus on activism through a lens of gender & sexuality, (perhaps) outside of mainstream feminism, and inclusive of HIV/AIDS. Did activism focus on L/G/B/T issues specifically, or were there other issues in which we were visibly active? What of the lesbian ‘sex wars’? What role – if any –  did performance/arts play in activism (remember the NEA 4?) What role did organizations play in activism?

I eagerly seek your memories. And, if you happen to be Los Angeles focused, please leave contact information if you are so inclined.

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

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.