Monday, April 3, 2017

On quiet heros, RIP Gilbert Baker, Filibuster Gorsuch, Black Lives Matter #NoGorsuch

Gilbert Baker at a Rise and Resist Meeting at the Center, January 2017, casually dressed
as a member of a concentration camp, adorned with the pink star that
he thought so drab, ever aware of the meaning of symbols. It was the last time I'd ever see this quiet hero. I left the meeting early.  He stayed, seemingly knowing what was at stake.

At Judson on Sunday, Micah talked about optimism. "I can't be a pessimist because I'm alive," declared James Baldwin.  "To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter, so I'm forced to be an optimist.  I'm forced to believe that we can survive and we must survive."

Sitting reading the church bulletin, I was thinking of all my friends who I had seen at street actions all week, Erik, Jenny, Ann, and my friends from ACT UP among others who I had run into Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at various resistance meetings and actions, opposing Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, standing up against Trump's executive orders gutting the EPA, and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. 

These are the quiet hero's who slowly create change from the bottom up, providing solidarity, including more voices in the movement every day.

The sermon continued and Micah mentioned the accumulation of the funeral services he'd attended or officiated lately, nine since the year began, including close friends in the Judson community.  He also mentioned Ken Kidd who had left for San Francisco after Gilbert Baker's sudden death.  Baker was the designer of the Rainbow flag, now seen around the world.

Was this really true? I thought.

I went to facebook and there was message from my friend Cleve Jones.

I am heartbroken. My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship. I can't stop crying. I love you forever Gilbert Baker.

And then, there was one by Ken Kidd:
Rest In Pride.
There was 'before Gilbert Baker' and 'after Gilbert Baker.' Every time an LGBT person sees Gilbert's Rainbow Flag--anywhere in the whole world, anywhere on Earth!--they know they aren't the only one, that they are not alone. Gilbert's Rainbow Flag is an instantly recognizable symbol that says "Please! Come in! You are absolutely welcome here."

Think about that. What a powerful, honorable, simply incomparable legacy. I miss you already, sweet Gilbert. People didn't show you nearly the love you deserved.

Gilbert was dead at 65?  He was ubiquitous.  I had seen him everywhere of late.   He was at rallies.  I'd seen him at the New York release party for When We Rise, Cleve's memoir. He'd given Cleve a copy of a larger banner he'd made declaring When We Rise.

The book chronicles four decades of friendship between Baker and Jones.

Interconnecting themes of love and connection, loss and separation meander through the story.

Baker immediately supported Jones.  Get stitching, he counseled his long time friend.

“That day when he raised the first rainbow flag, he knew that was his life’s work. And for every march, every protest, every celebration, every memorial, he was always sewing and sewing and sewing,” said Cleve Jones, a longtime San Francisco gay activist and friend of Mr. Baker’s who helped him hand-dye the fabric for that first flag.

“I take some comfort in knowing that he will be remembered. For generations to come, people will know that flag,” Jones said. “It’s an example of how one person can have an amazing and brilliant idea that reaches not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people.”

I first met Gilbert smoking a joint at the Yippie Museum on Bleeker Street with Dana Beal over a decade ago. He was always a counter cultural figure, connecting gay liberation with bigger questions about opposition to war, drug legalization, and connection among bodies.  We were included in this rainbow.

The last time I saw him we were both sitting in the back of a Rise and Resist meeting after the inauguration. There was no room inside the meeting.  So we sat outside the meeting hall.  Baker was wearing a pink star and concentration camp outfit.  He'd always found that image dreary, favoring something with more color, more inclusive, and inviting.  But he felt it was time for the concentration camp outfit in January 2017.  We talked about Cleve's book.

"Those were some heavy days," he commented. 

We chatted a bit and I left the meeting, with no idea that that would be the last time I saw him. But it was.  There were always those who hated the rainbow flag.  But that never stopped the simple message:

It always said come on in.  The water is fine. Join us.

Thanks for being one of those quiet hero's in the street Gilbert Baker.

Here are the scenes of that last standing room only meeting I saw Baker at as well as some of the resistance movement he was a part of from the very beginning.  I left early. He stayed to be part of the resistance.

Gay Liberation Now! Gilbert was always there for us.
He's always been a grand symbol in this history, always a part of it.
He never made a penny on the quilt.  It was his gift to the world.
The rest of the week, I was in meetings and actions in the resistance.  Looking through the crowd there image Gilbert in the corners along with these other quiet hero's.  He was always one of these faces in the crowd.

Street Diary
March 28, 2017
Emergency Action: Fight Trump's Anti-Climate Executive Order and Duberman Book Party

Trump is trying to gut Obama's climate legacy through Executive Order, and take our country a decade backward in the fight to stem global warming.


Trump and his corrupt billionaire cabinet are fine to see another Superstorm Sandy hit NYC, as long as they're lining their pockets with petrodollars. But we can beat this back, just like we've fought the Muslim Ban and the ACA repeal. Trump's catastrophic climate policies cannot and will not stand.

Join NY Renews, People's Climate Movement, and Resist Here for a rapid response action at Trump tower. We'll march from there to Gov. Cuomo's office on 3rd Avenue.

With Trump regressing at the federal level, real climate action will come from states like New York. That's why we need Gov. Cuomo to step up and be a real leader in the fight against climate change. He needs to eliminate climate pollution, protect frontline communities, and spark a revolution in good, green, union jobs.


Climate change is already devastating communities across the globe, from Bangladesh to the Rockaways, often impacting low-income communities, communities of color, and workers first and worst. Trump's climate denial is racist, classist, and insane. But united, we can fight it, and we can win.

This is not the time to remain idle. We need to go on offense, and push our leaders to take New York, and the country, in the exact opposite direction of the Trump regime.

All my friends were around for the Emergency Action against Trump's anti EPA executive order.
We've been reading Rachel Carson all spring, wondering what she would have done in the face of such a moment.
I even met one of my personal heros that night, Arni Kantrowitz at the Duberman Book release party.

Later in the week, we all stepped away from activism for a night to celebrate Dad at his home away from home, the Chelsea Hotel, on the third anniversary of his trip up and out, to the big poetry gig in the sky. 

Caroline, Greg and Molly even got a "whoof!" from the door guy.

Thursday, I celebrated the ACT UP thirtieth anniversary with all my friends.  Here are a few of us, including my kids and this writer taking a selfie on the left, at the ACT UP 29 demo last year.

Satuday, April 1, 2017

I  ran into everyone at the People's Filibuster on Saturday, collecting signatures, demanding
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On Saturday, April 1st thousands of Americans will protest and rally against the extreme agenda of President Donald Trump, including his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court.

The People’s Filibuster will take place in NYC as well as cities across the U.S. and feature working families speaking on why they object to the extreme agenda of the President and how the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court would advance that agenda for decades to come.

Arriving at the rally, many of my friends were there.  Most everyone signed cards asking the dems to filibuster Gorsuch.  Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland never received a vote.  Its time to bounce this nominee and bring back Garland's moderate voice.

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