Hello Lady G

There is only so much a white guy like me should weigh in on in regards to Black Lives Matter and the coast–to-coast protests regarding the very recent public execution of George Floyd via the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Us white people could say a lot, and many of us have as we’ve lent our support and voices to nationwide (and international) street protests, but even more important is LISTENING and really HEARING.

However, if you happen to be a white GAY guy like me, there is something you most certainly can and should weigh in on.  And that’s the outing of Lady G.

No not LADY GAGA, who happens to have a new album (Chromatica) out now, but LADY G.

Make that a HELL NO

Who is Lady G?

Well, pretty much the opposite of Lady Gaga.

Lady G is a pseudonym for a longtime U.S. senator from South Carolina at the top echelons of power in this country (Note:  Chair of the Judiciary Committee and a frequent golfing companion to Electoral College President Donald J. Trump. And no, it’s not Tim Scott, South Carolina’s junior, and only OTHER, senator).

Oh no.. I’m shocked.. can’t believe it…

Lady G is also, more importantly, someone who has consistently and vociferously publicly denied being homosexual while very consistently and very vociferously voting and advocating AGAINST every major piece of legislation/law in support of the LGBTQ community for the last two decades.

Lady G voted:

  • Against same sex marriage, compared it to polygamy, said changing marriage would be only to suit the gay agenda and that, most importantly, it was against the national interest.
  • For the Federal Marriage Amendment (Note: To enshrine in the US Constitution that marriage be between a man and a woman) because a handful of liberal judges in Massachusetts should not be able to change the definition of marriage for the rest of the country.
  • Against including LGBT people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, claiming it was unnecessary.
  • Against same-sex couple adoptions, because to change the adoption laws to recognize same-sex couples, would be not consistent with our state (South Carolina).
  • Against including LGBTQ people in the federal hate crimes bill, proclaiming there was no need and it would ultimately divide America.
  • Against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because there was no groundswell of opposition to it within the military. (Note: And later criticized its repeal, arguing it would cause an increased risk of casualties).

We could go on and on and on but click here for more info.

Yep, we are with you Gaga

Some of the above is what spurred a gay adult film actor and sex worker (nee escort for hire) named Sean Harding to several days ago post the following on Twitter:

There is a homophobic republican senator who is no better than Trump who keeps passing legislation that is damaging to the lgbt and minority communities. Every sex worker I know has been hired by this man. Wondering if enough of us spoke out if that could get him out of office?

Since then at least two other sex workers have personally come forward to Mr. Harding with corroborating stories about the senator that go back for years.   Not to mention Mr. Harding and the Lady G moniker began trending on Twitter.

Cue Pence clutching his pearls…

Many more sex workers have also posted online about similar encounters with Lady G but, like Mr. Harding, they are a bit frightened to come forward because they all signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) about their encounters since the Lady is a very experienced attorney.

Yet in the truth telling age of sex workers like Stormy Daniels, Mr. Harding and his colleagues are in the process of hiring legal representation in order to unmuzzle themselves and speak their truths.  The latter would presumably include giving specific and indisputable details of their encounters with their said client.

So — what is their end game?

To expose this senator for the hypocrite that he is and get him voted out of office.

Time’s up… for both of you

See, if Lady G were not in such a public and powerful position to continue to do so much damage to a community he claims to NOT be a part of but clearly IS a part of, there could be a debate about things like a right to privacy.

But when a person of power is instrumental in passing and arm-twisting for legislation that publicly criticizes, condemns and denies rights most specifically TO that community, all bets are off.

Unlike people of color, there are those in the gay community who can hide their identities, publicly blend in and actively participate in the repression of that which they would ideally choose not to be in the name of career or some twisted sense of self-loathing morality.

Certainly they have a right to do this.

In the same way that those in that repressed community have the right to speak out and fight back against that said repression.

This is not to equate this fight to what is currently going on in our streets in the name of Black Lives Matter.  It is simply to point out that nothing will change if we continue to sweep hypocrisy under the rug and fail to speak truth to power.

Lady G was once far ahead in the polls for reelection in 2020 and is now polling dead even (Note: Even pre Mr. Harding’s tweet) with the competing candidate from the Democratic Party.

Take down time (amazing photo from Mother Jones)

Ironically this person is a Black man who has never held public office but has an impeccable and extensive resume in both the private and public sector.  He is the current associate chairman and counselor to the DNC and his name Jaime Harrison.

Mr. Harrison is the former head of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a political science graduate from Yale University who went on to receive a law degree from Georgetown University, a former high school teacher, a former leader of a non-profit (College Summit) that helps low income youth find a path to college and a career, and former director of floor operations for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC)  (Note: A longtime Joe Biden confidante) when he was Minority Whip of the House.

In addition to his current duties at the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Harrison has in his more recent past even co-taught a course at the University of South Carolina with Matt Moore, a political rival but also his very good friend who happens to be the chairman of South Carolina’s Republican Party.

Go Jaime Go!

Prior to and all during his campaign Mr. Harrison has consistently stated that he doesn’t see his message to voters in the traditional progressive vs. conservative/ Democratic vs. Republican mindset but instead notes it’s really going to boil down to right vs. wrong.

Of course in the long run, that’s what it always boils down to – whether you’re a sex worker, politician or voter.

Lady Gaga (ft. Ariana Grande) – “Rain on Me”

The Past, The Protests, The Privilege

I’m a middle aged white guy who grew up with that privilege.   Sometimes I’ve been aware of it and sometimes I’ve been blithely unaware.  Right now, well, it’s hard not to be fully awake.

Many tens of thousands of us of all colors have taken to the streets this week, both physically and virtually, both non-violently and occasionally violently, to demand consequences for the death of a 46-year-old Black man, George Floyd, at the literal hands (well, knee) of a Minneapolis police officer as three of his fellow men in blue watched.

Found in Minneapolis

I dislike violence but I’m not surprised or even OUTRAGED by it.  Frankly, I wouldn’t blame many of us if we burned numerous landmarks in numerous cities down at this point.

Don’t take this as an endorsement of violence but more as an observation of the breaking point of human nature and what it seems to take, now and at various points in our history, to achieve any sort of meaningful social change.

Target will recover, trust me

Mr. Floyd, compliant and handcuffed, was nevertheless prone in the gutter with that police officer’s knee to his neck for a full EIGHT MINUTES, cutting off his air.  As Mr. Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe and called to his dead Mom for help, the officer kept pressing down, on his neck.

In the last three of those minutes Mr. Floyd was no longer breathing and likely dead as the officer blithely looked around him and up at the sky, just sort of passing the time.  Yet his knee never moved, nor did any of his fellow officers.

It’s all captured on video from numerous angles and on numerous cameras.  So don’t even try arguing about it.

The impact of the iPhone cannot be understated

Mr. Floyd’s death is the latest of dozens and dozens and dozens – and dozens – of similar acts perpetrated by police all across the country on an ever-growing list of Black and Brown men, and sometimes women, in the last number of years. They have crossed over the line of guilt or innocence to techniques of interrogation engagement that end in viral recordings of Roman Coliseum-type murders.

What once seemed to many of us informed white Americans as complicated, perhaps nuanced issues of policing are now live examples of what is being perpetrated by representatives of the white patriarchal power structure in our names.  It’s the cost of doing business and what’s perceived as being needed to keep us at the top of the social order and ensure our continued and absolute white privilege.

It’s time to listen

I used to think as an openly gay, Jewish guy from New York City who could never hide who he was because of my surname and less than macho affect, I was not truly the beneficiary of all of this.

But over the years when I’ve considered the fact that I’ve never feared the police, have never been suspected or questioned by law enforcement about crime, and have certainly NEVER been warned by any relatives or friends on how to behave if a policeman happened to pull me over or approach me, I began to recognize the undeniable.

From the perspective of the law, I am LUCKY to be white.

Recognizing your privilege is step 1

Not only was that revelation embarrassing, it was enraging.   Until I indulged in the luxury of partly forgetting about it until the next viral act of racial injustice at the hands of the law came along.

These days it happens if not daily, then weekly or monthly.  So while I am more than able to forget where I put my keys and my wallet I’m seldom EVER able to misplace my white privilege.

What a sorry turn of current events.

Watching spots in Minneapolis and other cities burn as our POTUS fanned the flames of racial injustice and re-tweeted old law and order threats from the 1960s designed to incite more rioting and thus distract from his epic failures in so many other areas, everything seemed hopeless.

It’s hard to even look at a cartoon of him…

But then I began thinking about the death of Larry Kramer, a writer, AIDS activist and one of my personal heroes of courage, and I somehow began to have a vague scintilla of hope – and change.

To call Mr. Kramer a mere AIDS activist is, of course, to sell him short.  By all accounts he was THE FIRST AIDS ACTIVIST in the early 80s, someone who possessed a personal, unrelenting megaphone of activism so loud, unpleasant and in your face that it demanded to be heard until it finally was.

Don’t take my word for it.  Read his NY Times obituary. 

and consider the words of the leading voice of our medical community (Note: And one of Mr. Kramer’s chief nemeses) in 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci: There is no question in my mind that Larry helped change medicine in this country.

The reason Larry did this was that, as he looked around the streets of his neighborhood, he saw dozens and dozens and dozens – and dozens – of his friends being brutally murdered by a relentless foe – the AIDS virus.  But crazy as it was, the white power structure, of which he was theoretically a member of like myself, was doing little to nothing about it.

Worse yet, they seemed to have little interest to radically change their ways and pay more than a little lip service to it despite the pile up of bodies not only in his neighborhood but all across the country.

So he realized if anything were to get done he and his comrades in arms (nee other potential victims) had to take to the streets and do it themselves.

1989, ACT UP protest, Wall Street #thanksLarry

Mr. Kramer founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and later ACTUP, two organizations that slowly, and eventually in very impolite ways, pushed AIDS activism and solutions into the public square by EVERY means necessary.

ACTUP, and Mr. Kramer in particular, set a road map for the modern day, post-1960s activists, creating loud, live events that were so disruptive they couldn’t be ignored.  These included theatrical demonstrations that interrupted Mass presided over by unsympathetic priests inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral and other Catholic Churches; die-ins at the White House and on Wall Street; name-calling political leaders murderers and much worse on national TV (Note: Dr. Fauci included); as well as very publicly outing any closeted gay person (or suspected gay person) in power who he deemed hiding (nee murdering us) instead of helping.

Combine this with more cutting-edge research done by younger people in the movement that backed up his demands with black and white science, and proposing well thought out solutions for improving current policies using logic, medicine and, most of all common sense.

Rather than say something was impossible based on what had happened in the past, they saw things that were possible by dreaming of and then inventing a better future.

It was yet another iteration of any number of American protest techniques that came before but at a different speed and adjusted to yet another time.  Think Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and the Freedom Riders of the 1960s demanding civil rights, the Suffragettes before them fighting for a woman’s right to vote and to use birth control and then go back a century and a half to the Boston Tea Party and the birth of the American Revolution.

The Boston Tea Party, or as POTUS would say, “Thugs”

Americans have ALWAYS been all about taking to the street, rattling the cages and engaging in very public, and yeah sometimes a bit over the line and occasionally violent (Note: On BOTH SIDES) social protests.

Of course, those were the pre-social media days, not to mention even pre-Internet, so cutting edge radical solutions look quite different now.   In these times we intellectually refer to it as the weaponization of social media via sophisticated disinformation campaigns using fake bots, algorithms and any other means necessary to achieve our agendas.

That friggin bird

If it’s receiving help from foreign actors, such as Russia, China and North Korea, states hoping for the devaluation of our country, it’s never been more available for the average protestor.  We’re all just any number of clicks and screen windows away from marshaling aid from any where in the world.

The ends justify the means is much more than a dusty old bromide of how to get ahead these days.  In many circles it’s a contemporary marching order that you WILL achieve your agenda by any means necessary, dire consequences of their domino effect into any other areas be damned.

And we’re bridling at people blocking traffic and setting fire to a few landmarks??

What is it that writer and philosopher George Santayana, once said:  Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?

Exactly.  And in endless iterations over time.

Hozier featuring Mavis Staples – “Nina Cried Power”