Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013) and Chinua Achebe (1930 - 2013).
“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” ~ Nelson Mandela, 1996
San Francisco is often viewed as a Mecca for gay people. But the warmth of the city’s welcome can quickly vanish for those who are poor.
City leaders were startled this year when a survey revealed that 29 percent of the homeless population —about 2,100 of the 7,350 people counted — identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Bevan Dufty, the director of the city’s homelessness initiatives, said he was surprised the percentage held true for all age groups, even adults and the elderly. “What was really staggering was to see that it didn’t change as you got older,” he said.
The survey found that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who are homeless had higher rates of disability than homeless heterosexuals and were more likely to be homeless when they arrived in the city. Some of them were older gay men with AIDS who had been evicted from their apartments or people who had been cast out by their families in other states. Others, like Mr. Bolvito, a native of Guatemala who graduated from college in Hayward, Calif., with a degree in political science and once worked as a real estate agent, had good jobs that disappeared during the recession.
In response to the findings, Mr. Dufty and Kara Zordel, a coordinator of Homeless Connect, organized an event in October that offered medical and dental services and other assistance to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who are homeless. And in August, the city’s planning commission approved permits for a 24-bed shelter with a focus on helping them. The shelter is expected to open in the coming months. Other cities have shown interest in San Francisco’s efforts, Mr. Dufty said. Officials from Santa Clara and Phoenix attended the Homeless Connect event.
Brian Basinger, a co-founder of the AIDS Housing Alliance in San Francisco, said the harassment of gays is common in the city’s shelters.
People there “do not have a lot of status in society to begin with, and so the way they protect or generate status in these social environments is to step on the queers,” Mr. Basinger said.
Gay and transgender residents have their shoes stolen, he said. They are robbed or beaten up in line.
Supervisor David Campos, who held hearings on the shelter problem, said that even though the homeless population may not have grown, homelessness has become more visible in San Francisco recently, perhaps because of an increase in evictions. Mr. Basinger and other advocates held a “sleep in” in Dolores Park in October to protest a proposed ordinance that would close city parks, where many homeless people sleep, between midnight and 5 a.m. The proposal narrowly passed on Nov. 5.
Disclosure: Only the facts and statistics were published in this post. Check out the article by the New York Times to read about the life and experiences of the homeless queer people who were interviewed.
I AM A GRAVEYARD follows undead detective Jim Strick as he navigates through life, dealing with everyday stresses, a new relationship, and a bevy of supernatural threats. At its heart, I AM A GRAVEYARD is about learning to accept who and what you are, decaying flesh and all.
The book is 192 pages and you can buy it here.
Reblog this post and enter to win a free copy of the book and a piece of original art. I’ll randomly pick two winners by 11:59 EST on December 13th.
Chelsea Manning on "Giving Thanks"
I’m usually hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. After all, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony systematically terrorized and slaughtered the very same Pequot tribe that assisted the first English refugees to arrive at Plymouth Rock. So, perhaps ironically, I’m thankful that I know that, and I’m also thankful that there are people who seek out, and usually find, such truths. I’m thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.
Such people are often nameless and humble, yet no less courageous. Whether carpenters of welders; retail clerks or bank managers; artists or lawyers, they dare to ask tough questions, and seek out the truth, even when the answers they find might not be easy to live with.
I’m also grateful for having social and human justice pioneers who lead through action, and by example, as opposed to directing or commanding other people to take action. Often, the achievements of such people transcend political, cultural, and generational boundaries. Unfortunately, such remarkable people often risk their reputations, their livelihood, and, all too often, even their lives.
to avoid paying a construction fee, jack mubiru, a father of the skateboarding scene in uganda, fabricated a story about building a private enclosure for a pet crocodile. most local officials and neighborhood residents had never heard of skateboarding. yet six years later, the sport has spread from the skate park to the streets, attracting children as young as five and adult women.
photographer yann gross always takes his deck with him on his journeys. during one trip to easter africa, yann ecnountered a group of skaters in kitintale, a suburb of kampala, who had built the first and only half pipe in uganda. he ended up spending several months with the skaters, becoming a full member of the group, documenting a unique skate culture that, given the area’s contingencies, has styles and tricks all its own.
"One of the reasons for the extraordinary pressure of consumerism, which goes back to the 1920s, is the recognition by the business world that unless it atomizes people, unless it drives them to what it calls the “superficial things of life, such as fashionable consumption,” the population may turn on them. Right now, for example, about 80% of the U.S. population believes that the country is, in their words, run by “a few big interests looking out for themselves,” not for the benefit of the population. About 95% of the population thinks that the government ought to pay regular attention to public opinion. The degree of alienation from institutions is enormous. As long as people are atomized, worried about maxing out their credit cards, separated from one another, and don’t hear serious critical discussion, the ideas can be controlled."-Noam Chomsky (via noam-chomsky)
The growing fracking industry is “yielding gushers” of campaign donations for congressional candidates—particularly Republicans from districts with fracking activity—according to a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington.
The report, “Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress,” examines a period spanning from 2004 to 2012. In that time, CREW finds, contributions from companies that operate hydraulic fracturing wells and fracking-related industry groups rose 180 percent, from $4.3 million nine years ago to about $12 million in the last election cycle.
These donations are flowing to members of Congress at a time when some legislators are trying to increase regulation of fracking, a process in which drillers inject a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into the bedrock to release oil and natural gas reserves. The most serious of these legislative efforts is the FRAC Act. First introduced in 2009, the act would require EPA regulation of the industry and would force fracking companies to disclose the chemicals that they inject under high pressure into the ground. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill are stalled in committee.
"So far, the industry has successfully fended off almost all federal regulation of fracking," CREW’s report notes. The report adds that the biggest increase in donations from the fracking industry came between 2010 and 2012, when Congress was particularly active on fracking issues.
Candidates from districts where fracking is concentrated—CREW identifies 94 such districts—experienced the biggest windfall. (CREW built an interactive map showing the industry’s contributions over time in states home to fracking.) The industry’s political contributions to those candidates rose 231 percent, from $2.1 million to $6.9 million. That’s nearly twice the increase in their contributions to senators and members of Congress from districts without any fracking activity. CREW identified ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Chesapeake Energy as the industry’s three largest donors.
The fracking industry’s increase in giving far outstrips the increase in political donations from the oil and gas sector at large, which rose 104 percent over the same period. The whole oil and gas sector gave $35.6 million to congressional candidates in last year’s election.