Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Obama’s Report Card on Gay Issues: C+

President Obama fired his first gay military officer today. Navy Lt. Dan Choi was fired under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy because he is gay. His appearance on national television, as a spokesperson for Knights Out, a group of 38 GLBT military women and men,  violates the antiquated and discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Aaron Belkin of The Huffington Post argues that, if he chose, President Obama could issue an executive order that would effectively end the policy.

As most of us know, the firing is a loss not only because of its discriminatory stance, but because Choi is an Arabic translator, and the military is desperately short in this field.

Overall, President Obama’s report card on gay and lesbian issues has been mixed, and outlets such as the Times have been pressing the President on his cautious agenda on GLBT issues. I’m giving him a C+ because of his hiring of several high profile members of his cabinet (can you tell that I’m in grading mode?). However, he merits only an average rating because of his failure to move on campaign promises to GLBT constituents. So far, he has remained silent on the gay marriage legislative decisions in Iowa and Maine, and now failed to act upon the firing of gay servicemen and women.

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Filed under: gay rights, government, politics, , , , ,

Two Takes on Promiscuity

I’ve been reading the thoughtful, non-puritanical writing of Dan Savage for years now, both in his weekly sex-advice column “Savage Love” and in his nonfiction books like Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (2002).

What I admire about Savage is his reasoned, articulate (albeit polemical) perspective on gay politics, sexuality, and morality. In the clip below, he responds to an audience member’s question, “How many partners is too many?”

Savage’s thoughts on promiscuity catches my interest because it aligns with some other thinking I’ve been doing on promiscuity in other cultures, namely in Africa. I’m just begun to advise a solidarity trip to Uganda with twelve B.C. undergraduates, and one of the books we will be reading is Helen Epstein’s The Invisible Cure. Though many have chimed in on public health policy in African countries, Epstein argues that most Westerners approach HIV/AIDS in Africa as a problem to be solved: through abstinence, or condom use, or better sexual health education.

However, in The Invisible Cure, Epstein argues for a paradigm shift: an empathetic approach to Afrocentric solutions to health crises, and a challenge to understand a way of life foreign to Westerners: a culture, in some African countries, in which a man may have several wives or sexual partners. Here is an interview with Epstein on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, as well as her understanding of promiscuity in this culture:

Promiscuity. In the U.S., we discuss sex and sexuality most often through a moral lens. Are we sex-positive? What should be allowed and forbidden? How do we achieve gay rights and breakdown a heteronormative society?

In African nations like Uganda, we discuss sex through a lens of public health. How do we reduce the HIV/AIDS crisis? What is the best method of prevention? Who is being infected, and how is the disease transmitted?

Hard to get out of a Western mindset, but always food for thought.

Filed under: africa, health, , , , , , , , ,

Straight Talk Doesn’t Have to Be a Bore

carsonkressley_largeCarson Kressley, that queen of comedy, has a hilarious how-to video (lots of alliteration in this post) about “How to Talk Straight Talk” on Funny or Die. I was chuckling over my left-over pizza this morning. Click on his photo to watch.

And how about props to legislators in Maine yesterday?

camilla_taylor_200In case you missed it, there was a fantastic interview with Camilla Taylor, the lead attorney (who happens to be straight), in the Iowa lawsuit on behalf of GLBT folks on NPR’s Fresh Air.

An unrelated but thought-provoking video from yesterday’s media is from the women on The View (don’t laugh–I have an unhealthy admiration of this showmaybe it’s my Filipino heritage and its matriarchal society). In this clip, they’re debating whether to teach Darwinism in public schools. A frightening thought that the science of human life would not be taught in public schools.

My favorite part is when Joy Behar says that the absence of Darwinism in schools is “child abuse, in my opinion.”

Filed under: entertainment, gay life, , , , , , , , , ,

Hypocrisy and Ignorance from the Right’s Spokespeople

I hate to give more publicity to Miss California, Carrie Prejean, and her discriminatory ideas. Like a car crash, I can’t help myself. 

The twists and turns of Prejean’s strange saga are laid out in full on Towleroad, including the breast implants, the nude photos, the Bible-thumping. Many folks have referred to Prejean as the new Anita Bryant–a parallel that I would be saddened to be saddled with. I think it’s important to note that all of these potentially damaging items about Prejean are important not because individuals wish to slander or demonize Prejean; her actions and behavior have relevance because she has taken on the role of public spokesperson for “opposite marriage” (whatever this means).

As a spokesperson, Miss California’s behaviors and actions as a self-proclaimed person of faith must include a discussion of hypocrisy. How can a person repeatedly speaking against (in her opinion) immoral behavior cast the first stone?

Above, Keith Olbermann provides an incisive critique of the whole mess in his conversation with Melissa Harrison. He also throws in a few reasoned words about Joe the Plumber’s latest inanities about, as Olbermann puts it, “catching The Gay.” Interesting word that arises in Olbermann’s discussion: Opportunists.

Filed under: gay rights, government, homophobia, media, , , , , ,

Slideshow: Obama’s First 100 Days

slide_1500_21170_large1The White House released a photostream of President Obama’s first 100 days in office. It’s a delight to see images of the President both at home in his job–and, in some of the photos, seemingly in awe.

The photos include everything from meeting with Secretary Gaithner (one can only assume they’re trying to unravel the knots) to greeting everyday visitors inside the White House to glimpses of his love for his family and the First Lady.

Interestingly enough, alongside the photos of the Cabinet meetings and press conferences, there’s photos of the women and men who cook in the White House kitchen, who polish the White House floors, and who open the grand double doors for President Obama to walk through. 

One can’t help but feel a bit optimistic at our President’s youthfulness and energy.

Filed under: government, , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
May 2009
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https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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