Friday, June 29, 2007

Teens Indicted in Hate Crime Attack

The three 19 year-olds charged in the hate crime attack of Jenine Nickola in Lowell on June 2 were indicted today by a Middlesex Grand Jury. The men are being charged with violation of constitutional rights, assault and battery for purpose of intimidation due to sexual orientation, and assault and battery.

Both the Lowell Sun and the Boston Globe use the wrong pronouns in reporting the story.
"According to police, James Nickola of Lowell was walking alone to his [home] from a nightclub in downtown Lowell when he heard someone behind him call him "faggot." Nickola, who considers himself a transsexual, quickened his pace when his attackers caught up with him."
The attackers are being charged with a hate crime because they believed Jenine Nickola was a gay man. The Boston Globe reported that "the men allegedly used epithets about the man's [sic] sexual orientation prior to and during the beating and told the victim, 'We don't like your kind in our neighborhood.'"

The Massachusetts hate crime laws do not protect transgender people. If the attackers had used epithets about Jenine's gender identity or her gender expression they may not have been charged with a hate crime. This is
blatant discrimination that needs to be corrected.

This year, Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing introduced House Bill 1722, "An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes". We need to make this bill our community's top priority. Go to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition for more information.

UPDATE: Local LGBT newspapers are split
in reporting the story, disappointing the community they are supposed to serve. In Newsweekly gets it wrong, refers to Jenine as a man. However, Bay Widows gets it right, refers to her as a transwoman.

FURTHER UPDATE: In Newsweekly re-writes their article to correct themselves, refers to Jenine as a transwoman. Better late than never.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stonewall Rebellion Anniversary

Today is the 38th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion that started the queer revolution in America. It was just after 1:30 a.m. when New York City Police busted into the the gay bar in Greenwich Village like they had done so many times before.

That night was different. The bar patrons were fed up and decided to fight back. This is a good description of what happened. This is another short description of what took place that night.

The first Pride parades took place in June of 1970
across the United States to commemorate the first year anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The LGBT community has been celebrating Pride once a year, usually in June, ever since.

A couple years ago I met a Stonewall Veteran living with his partner on Cape Cod. David Bermudez was there the night the police raided the Stonewall Inn. David was part of the rebellion that started the gay movement. He is one of about 30 Stonewall Veterans that are still living today. I had a chance to hear about the night of the raid and the following events.

David told me that in the early morning hours on June 28, 1969 he was mourning the death of the gay icon Judy Garland. She was buried earlier that night and everyone was feeling down. David was out with his friends and decided to go to their usually hangout, the Stonewall Inn. He said that Stonewall was raided by police on a regular basis.

David showed up at Stonewall around 12:30 in the morning. No one had any idea what was about to happen. An hour later David was standing near the rear of the bar. He noticed smoke near the entrance. At first he thought there was a fire. He told his friends that they had better get out of the bar.

The next thing he knew he was being hit and starting punching back. David explained to me that when the police raided the bar, as they had done so many times before, they started to rough up some of the guys. He said that the drag queens started pushing the cops back. This started the fight. People who usually would not fight back were so upset over the death of Judy Garland that they decided they were not going to take it anymore.

David started to make his way to the front of the bar. He realized that the smoke was not from a fire, it was tear gas used by the police. He was being hit by police and had to punch his way out the door. Once he made it outside, he met his friends at the park across the street. They watched as the police patty wagons pulled up. The police started hauling people away.

A large crowd of LGBT people gathered outside the bar. They banded together and began to fight back.
They started throwing rocks at the police. The crowd outnumbered the police and overtook the officers. The police retreated into the bar, dragging people with them and beating them. Someone uprooted a parking meter and used it as a battering ram to force the police officers out of the bar. Someone else set a fire. The crowd started chanting, "Gay Power" as they fought back for the first time in history. The rebellion continued for the next few days.

There are no pictures from the five days of the rebellion because the media completely ignored the entire event. There have been a couple of documentaries made about Stonewall. There was even a movie, titled Stonewall, made in 1995 based on the actual events. The film is excellent.

Today David lives with his husband Bob on Cape Cod. David and Bob have been together for over thirty years. They were legally married in 2004. Both David and Bob are very involved in politics to this day.

David is a member of the Stonewall Veterans Association. He and his partner marched at the front of New York City's LGBT Pride Parade two years ago as the first Stonewall Veteran to legally marry. It is an honor to know them both.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Happy Gay Sex Day!

It was four years ago today that the United States Supreme Court legalized gay sex. The court handed down it's historic decision in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down the anti-sodomy laws across the nation. The court's decision overturned it's 1986 ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick which stated that laws against gay sex were perfectly legal.

"Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled," wrote Justice Kennedy.

The court's majority held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. This includes the decision to engage in sex with a same-sex partner.
Justice Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion, referring to the overruling of Bowers as "a massive disruption of the current social order". He argued that Lawrence set the legal groundwork for the legalization of same-sex marriage. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalized same-sex marriage just five months later.

Many conservatives considered the ruling in Lawrence v. Texas to be judicial activism. Conservative groups held protests on the steps of the court. They knew the implications of the court's decision.

The landmark ruling in Lawrence v. Texas laid the foundation for the modern day fight for equal rights for queer people. We are gay or lesbian because we desire to have sex with members of the same sex. While the right to marry one's partner is important, the right to have sex with one's partner is fundamental.

If it were against the law for us to have sex, it would be illegal for us to be gay. This ruling opened the door for gays and lesbians to be treated equally in all aspects of the law.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Transgender Civil Rights Bill Must Be Our Community's Top Priority

Now that we have defeated the anti-gay marriage amendment, many in the LGBT community are asking, "what now?" Where do we go from here? Where should our community be directing its efforts? What is the next fight?

These questions are being asked and speculated upon all across Massachusetts. It has been said many times that our next fight should be to repeal the "1913 law" that prohibits gays and lesbians from other states from marrying in Massachusetts. This law is clearly discriminatory and it needs to go.

However, before we take up the fight to allow gays and lesbians from other states to marry here, lets make sure we take care of all the members of our own LGBT community first. The right to marry is important, but
there are still some basic human rights being denied to some in our community today. We need to make sure that everyone in the Massachusetts LGBT community has the same basic protections that gays and lesbians have been enjoying since 1989.

Transgender people are not protected in our state's non-discrimination or hate crime laws. Transgender people in Massachusetts have been fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and beaten up on the street. Before we do anything else, we must address this blatant discrimination.

Of course we have the ability to work on more than one issue at a time. However, our top priority must be to fight for the basic rights of those in our LGBT community who are not yet protected under the law. We should all be
able to work, go to school, and live without fear.

This year,
Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing introduced House Bill 1722, "An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes". The bill is currently sitting in the Judiciary Committee. We need to make it clear to the leaders in the LGBT political movement that this bill is our top priority. We have the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House on our side. They have each made a commitment to our community. Let's use that to get this bill passed.

Please join me in advocating that the Transgender Civil Rights Bill be our community's top priority. Go to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition for more information.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What We Have Been Fighting For

Today I was reminded of what the fight for equal marriage rights is all about. I attended my cousin's wedding in Buzzards Bay. It was a beautiful ceremony in a gazebo by the Cape Cod Canal. The happy couple was joined by friends and family members rejoicing in the spirit of love.

This is what the marriage equality movement is all about. It is not an abstract idea, it is two people in love. This is what we have been fighting to protect. This is why we made all those phone calls, wrote those letters, and spent countless hours at the State House for Constitutional Conventions.

My cousin Steve and his husband Mike set their wedding date months ago. It seems appropriate to me that the wedding took place exactly one week after we secured equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. They said their vows at exactly the same time the winning vote was announced last week.

While we celebrate our huge win over the anti-gay forces and debate where our movement should be headed next, let's not forget what we have been fighting for. It's about love. It always has been.

Congratulations Steve and Mike. May you have many happy years together.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Legislators Being Bombarded

The 11 legislators who switched their votes to protect marriage equality are being bombarded with phone calls, emails, and letters from same-sex marriage opponents. The anti-gay marriage callers are harassing legislators and yelling at their aids.

In this recent article, Representative Paul Kujawski, who switched his vote to protect marriage equality, said that he doesn't know how many calls he has received since the vote on Thursday.

“There are some people who called who said ‘You’ll never win (an election) again.’ There were emotional outbursts of disappointment," Representative Kujawski said.

“They called me unmentionable names. There have been some real insulting and unmentionable statements.”

This is not surprising given the recent email that the organization leading the fight against equal marriage rights, Vote on Marriage, sent out to their members. The email is titled "Tell the 11 Benedict Arnolds how you feel about their betrayal".

Vote on Marriage portrays itself as a professional "mainstream" organization. Yet, in this recent email to their members, they sound more like the radical fringe group MassResistance than a "mainstream" organization.

Ironically, in another letter to their members titled "Keep the Faith", the leader of Vote on Marriage, Kris Mineau, wrote "We have always conducted ourselves in a professional matter." What do you think?

This is the latest Vote on Marriage email to their members:

Dear Supporters,

After a few days to ruminate and digest the events of last Thursday, it is time to remove the knife from your back and let the eleven legislators who betrayed the people of this state know how outraged you are at their betrayal.

Last Thursday, after the votes were cast and the final tally revealed, eleven legislators (nine who had voted for the Marriage Amendment at the Constitutional Convention held on Jan. 2; two freshmen legislators who ran and won election on "letting the people vote" last year) turned their back on the citizens of this Commonwealth and voted to deny the people a say on the definition of marriage. This is an outrage and these eleven legislators must understand that disloyalty has consequences.

The Traitors

Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton

Rep. Christine Canavan, D-Brockton
Rep. Paul Kujawski, D-Webster
Rep. Paul Loscocco, R-Holliston
Rep. Robert Nyman, D-Hanover

Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield
Rep. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham
Rep. James Vallee, D-Franklin
Rep. Brian Wallace, D-South Boston

Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham

Sen. Michael Morrissey, D-Quincy

These eleven Benedict Arnolds not only lied to the leaders of our movement, they lied to every citizen in this state. Right up until the day of the vote, each of these legislators reiterated their commitment to voting "Yes" to give the people a right to voice their opinion on same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, the true character of these so-called "public servants" became apparent once the final vote was recorded.

The day of the Constitutional Convention, Arline Isaacson, the chief lobbyist for the homosexual movement, was quoted in the Boston Globe saying, "It's very frustrating because legislators keep upping the ante on what they want to get for their votes." What could she possibly mean by that sentence other than bribery? How do the eleven legislators who switched their votes feel about that quote?

Please visit and click on "Click Here for the 11 Benedict Arnolds" in the red "Alert Area." (You can also just CLICK HERE.) This link will bring you to a page that has all the contact information for the eleven vote switchers. Please call, email and write to them today. Let them know, in civil but strong terms, how you feel about their decision to change their votes. They need to know that the outrage over their betrayal is real and will not go away overnight. Get your family, friends and neighbors to join in as well.

Our opponents may have won this round, but the fight is far from over!

It is no wonder these legislators are being harassed. It is extremely important to let these 11 legislators know that we truly appreciate their vote against the discriminatory amendment. They are being flooded with calls and emails from the anti-gay side, lets make sure they get plenty of calls and emails from the pro-equality side as well. (Don't forget to call and email your own legislators)

Rep. Geraldo Alicea 617-722-2060

Rep. Christine Canavan 617-722-2006

Rep. Paul Kujawski 617-722-2017

Rep. Paul Loscocco 617-722-2220

Rep. Robert Nyman 617-722-2020

Rep. Angelo Puppolo 617-722-2011

Rep. Richard Ross

Rep. James Vallee

Rep. Brian Wallace 617-722-2013

Sen. Gale Candaras

Sen. Mickael Morrissey 617-722-1494

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Provincetown Film Festival

I am in Provincetown this weekend for the Provincetown International Film Festival. There are a bunch of films playing that I have wanted to see. This is a great a way to wind down after a long Pride week and the emotional Constitutional Convention.

After reading an article in the Advocate about the new film Red Without Blue, I was please to see that the movie is playing at the film festival. It looks like an interesting movie:
Twins Mark and Alex Farley came out in their early teens. A tumultuous divorce, boredom, and sexual abuse led to drug addiction and a failed suicide pact. Separated for several years during and after treatment, the pair reconnects as Mark starts art school and Alex begins to transition to Clair.
Some of the other movies I am looking forward to seeing are
Itty Bitty Titty Committee, Full Grown Men and Everything's Cool.

I will be spending the rest of the weekend watching independent films, relaxing on the beach, and strolling down Commercial Street. This is a perfect way to celebrate the huge win at Thursday's Constitutional Convention.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The Massachusetts Legislature defeated the anti-gay marriage amendment today by a vote of 45 to 151. This was the state's seventeenth Constitutional Convention regarding gay marriage.

It is finally over.

Hundreds of people cheered and protested outside the State House today for hours before the vote. When the vote was taken, gay marriage supporters rejoiced by cheering, clapping, singing, crying, and hugging each other.

It has been a long fight. Along the way we lost a few battles, but today, we won the war.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to make this victory possible. Every phone call, letter, email, and visit to the State House was needed to win this fight.

You did it!

I will be posting pictures and videos from inside and outside the Constitutional Convention, including a video of the crowd erupting the moment the vote was announced.

UPDATE: The video below is of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom Marry marching from the interfaith service at 7:30 in the morning, across Boston Common, and across Beacon Street to join pro-equality demonstrators in front of the State House.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Seventeenth Constitutional Convention

This Thursday, June 14, will be the seventeenth Constitutional Convention in Massachusetts to deal with an anti-gay marriage amendment.

This battle has been going on for over five years. We have watched, argued, maneuvered, protested, cheered, sang, cried, yelled, clapped, and chanted for countless hours while our rights have been debated in Constitutional Conventions. We have seen two anti-gay constitutional amendments move forward and we have seen two anti-gay marriage amendments defeated.

We have had to defend ourselves through sixteen Constitutional Conventions and endless hours of debate. Here is the list:

May 1, 2002 - The Constitutional Convention convenes to consider the initiative petition amendment (H 4840) to the Constitution relative to the "protection of marriage". RESULT: Recessed until 6/19/02.

June 19, 2002 - The Constitutional Convention reconvenes to consider the amendment (H 4840) that would ban same-sex marriage. RESULT: Recessed until 7/17/02.

July 17, 2002 - The Constitutional Convention reconvenes to consider the anti-gay marriage amendment. Senate President Birmingham adjourns the convention. RESULT: The amendment is effectively killed.

May 14, 2003 - The Constitutional Conventions meets to discuss a new proposed amendment (H 3190) that would ban gay marriages and marriage-like benefits for same-sex couples. RESULT: Recessed until 11/12/03.

November 12, 2003
- The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to take up the anti-gay marriage amendment (H 3190). RESULT: Recessed until 2/11/04.

February 11, 2004 - The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to take up the anti-gay marriage amendment (H 3190). After much heated debate, the concon recesses until the next day.

February 12, 2004 -
The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to take up the anti-gay marriage amendment. Hundreds of people fill the State House as the second day of the Constitutional Convention heats up. Lawmakers on both sides debate and maneuver. The night ends with pro-gay marriage legislatures conducting a filibuster until midnight. RESULT: Recessed until 3/11/04.

March 11, 2004 - The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes. The legislature votes three times on a gay marriage ban that would also establish civil unions. Maneuvers by both opponents and supporters of gay marriage leave it unclear whether the constitutional amendment would ever get to the voters. RESULT: Recessed until 3/29/04.

March 29, 2004 -
The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes and votes in favor of the "compromises amendment" that would ban gay marriage and establish civil unions. RESULT: The amendment passes and moves to the second round with a vote of 105-92.

May 11, 2005 - The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to debate the anti-gay amendment. RESULT: Recessed until 8/24/05.

August 24, 2005 - The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to debate the anti-gay amendment. RESULT: Recessed until 9/14/05.

September 14, 2005 -
The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to debate the anti-gay amendment. Pro-gay marriage forces have enough votes to kill the amendment. Anti-gay marriage groups drop support for the amendment in favor of a new amendment that does not include civil unions. Both sides urge legislators to vote against the amendment. RESULT: The amendment is defeated with a vote of 157-39.

May 10, 2006 -
The Constitutional Conventions meets to take up a new amendment to ban gay marriage. This new amendment does not include civil unions and, because it is an initiative petition, needs only 25% of the legislature's support to pass. RESULT: Recessed until 7/12/06.

July 12, 2006 - The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to debate the anti-gay marriage amendment. Marriage equality advocates do not have enough votes to win. RESULT: Recessed until two days after the general election, 11/9/06.

November 9, 2006 -
The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to debate the anti-gay marriage amendment. Marriage equality advocates still do not have the votes to win. In a procedural maneuver designed to kill the amendment, the legislature votes to recess until the last day of the session. RESULT: Recessed until 1/2/07. MassEquality declares victory.

January 2, 2007 - The Constitutional Conventions reconvenes to take up the anti-gay amendment. After a lawsuit filed by anti-gay marriage advocates, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said that state lawmakers have a constitutional duty to vote on a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment only needs 50 votes to pass. RESULT: The amendment passes and moves to the second round with a vote of 62-134.

May 9, 2007 - The Constitutional Conventions takes up the anti-gay marriage amendment in the second round. RESULT: Recessed until 6/14/07.

Many in the LGBT community, including me, are sick and tired of going to Constitutional Conventions. They can be incredibly draining. I can think of a million things that I would rather do than go to the State House and fight for my rights...again.

However, we can't give up, or even slow down now. We are so close to winning. State House sources say that we are just three or four votes away from winning. We need to be there on Thursday, even if there is not actually going to be a vote. We need to be there to show the legislature that we are not giving up our rights.

We have survived sixteen Constitutional Conventions. We can make it through the seventeenth one as well. See you there!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pride Week Recap

Boston Pride ended today after a week filled with celebration and controversy. This was the 37th Pride Celebration in Massachusetts.

The first official Pride Celebration w
as in 1970. It was a week-long series of events to mark the one year anniversary of Stonewall. The theme that year was "Love Is All You Need". The week culminated on June 28 with a Be-In on Cambridge Common with balloons, banners, dancing - a day of peace and love under the sun.

This years Pride theme, Ask. Tell. Proud to Serve Our Community, Our Country, Our World, created a lot of controversy with-in the LGBT community. The militaristic theme was opposed by many organizations and individuals in the community, including me. The Ask. Tell. Act. Coalition was formed in response "to encourage our community to think about the issues of militarism, corporitization, transphobia, sexism, and racism that are presented by the theme." Pride participants were encouraged to wear hot pink as a sign of opposition the the militaristic Pride theme.

Pride Week began Friday, June 1 with the Flag Raising at City Hall. Mayor Menino's liaison to the LGBT community presented a declaration from the mayor proclaiming the start of Pride Week. The Pride Marshals were introduced and the rainbow flag was raised over City Hall Plaza. The Ask. Tell. Act. Coalition raised their own hot pink flag at the same time.

Tuesday, June 5 was
the 12th Annual Pridelights Tree Lighting. This event marked "the unofficial kick-off to Pride Week in Boston". Boston Mayor Tom Menino spoke to the crowd, encouraging people to get involved with the fast approaching constitution convention. City Counselor Sam Yoon also spoke to the crowd about the significance of pride in the community.

The best speech of the night was by Abe Rybeck, Artistic Director of The Theater Offensive. Abe spoke about embracing sex and sexuality in the LGBT community. The Theater Offensive's guerilla AIDS activist theater troupe, A Street Theater Named Desire, does shows and HIV prevention outreach in the heart of the Fens.

Wednesday, June 6 was the GLBT Holocaust Commemoration Service at the holocaust memorial. This service is always very powerful. Especially this year, after an anti-gay crusaders had just testified at the State House that homosexuals were not targeted by the Nazis.

Wednesday was also the Pride Idols Finals where Miss Kitty Litter stepped over the line from distasteful to racist. QueerToday has the full report. Rumor has it the Boston Pride Committee will be issuing a public apology.

Thursday, June 7 was the candlelight vigil in response to the hate crime in Lowell. Jenine Nickola was attacked over the weekend while walking home. The vigil was attended by over 100 people. Jenine identified herself as a trans woman to the press at the vigil. I have nothing but the utmost admiration for her honesty and her courage. She is recovering well and wants to tell her story.

Friday, June 8 was the Dyke March. This is my favorite event of Pride Week. This event is free from the corporate sponsorship that has branded the Pride Parade. The people are fun and the energy is amazing. It is what a Pride fest should be.

This years Dyke March had its own controversy when the transphobic performer, Bitch, was
scheduled to play. The Dyke March states that their top priority is, "to provide a dynamic and welcoming space for participants of all sexualities, genders, races, ages, ethnicities, sizes, economic backgrounds, and physical abilities." After much outcry from the community, the Dyke March Committee decided to cancel Bitch just in time. This years march was a blast.

Saturday, June 9 was the Pride Parade and Festival. Governor Patrick made history by becoming the first Governor in the Commonwealth to march in the Pride Parade. The opposition to this years militaristic Pride theme was apparent throughout the parade. There were hot pink shirts, hats, signs, and over 500 armbands worn by parade participants. QueerToday has the report with photos.

The Pride Parade is Boston's largest parade of the year. It is attended by hundreds of thousands of people. Think that's a lot? Check out this years Pride Parade in Brazil. It was attended by an estimated 3 million people. That's a lot of queers.

Boston Pride Parade Photos

Boston's 2007 Pride Parade was a lot of fun. The new route brought the parade up Beacon Street, in front of the State House, and ended up on City Hall Plaza. The route was lined with people cheering and taking pictures.

History was made today as Governor Patrick became the first Governor in Massachusetts to march in the Pride Parade. Even though the sky was gray, the crowd was very gay.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hate Crime Victim Comes Out as Trans Woman

When I heard about the beating of "a gay man" in Lowell last weekend, I knew that I had to do something. I drove down to Lowell to find the victim, "James" Nickola.

After a bit of detective work, someone led me to her house. I met "James" and talked with her for a while. I told her that there was a candlelight vigil being planned in response to the violence she experienced.

While talking with "James", she disclosed to me that she is not a gay man, but a transgender female named
Jenine. I gave her some information about Fenway Community Health's Violence Recovery Program and we talked for awhile about what happened the night she was attacked. Then I headed back to Boston.

I have not mentioned on this blog that
Jenine is transgender. I am writing about it now because Jenine has disclosed this information herself during an interview with Channel 7 News. I applaud Jenine for her honesty and openness. The reason I did not mention that Jenine is transgender is because the Massachusetts hate crime laws to not include gender identity or gender expression.

Jenine's attackers have been charged with a hate crime. Once the lawyers for the men who attacked her find out that Jenine identifies as transgender, they will try to have the hate crime charges thrown out in court. They will argue that the men attacked Jenine because she was transgender, not because they thought she was a gay man. This argument could very well result in the court being forced to drop the hate crime charges.

This is a huge problem in Massachusetts. Gender identity and gender expression are not covered in the state's hate crime or non-discrimination laws. There are 17 states that do cover gender identity and gender expression in either their hate crimes or non-discrimination laws. Massachusetts usually leads the country on issues of fairness and equality. In this case, we are behind 17 other states.

This year a bill, H1722, was introduced to include gender identity and gender discrimination in our hate crimes and and non-discrimination laws. This bill must become law to protect people like
Jenine. If her attackers are successful in arguing that the hate crime charges do not apply to their case, it will be a real blow for justice in Massachusetts.

Go to the Massachusetts Transgender Polititcal Caucus website to find out what you can do to right this wrong.

UPDATE: Bay Windows article on the attack and the vigil.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hate Crime Vigil Draws Large Crowd

The candlelight vigil in response to the recent hate crime in Lowell drew a crowd of over 100 supporters. The vigil was held at St. Anne's church in downtown Lowell.

Speakers included Lowell Mayor William Martin, City Counselor Eileen Donoghue, State Senator Steve Panagiotakos, and Father
Ramón Aymerich. The speakers all touched on the subject of combating violence against LGBT members of the community.

Marianne Gries, a Lowell resident and former MassEquality employee, took these pictures of the vigil.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Candlelight Vigil in Response to Hate Crime in Lowell

The Greater Lowell Equality Alliance is sponsoring a candlelight vigil in response to the recent hate crime that took place early Saturday morning in Lowell.

Candlelight Vigil
Thursday June 7th
7:30 PM
St. Anne’s Episcopal Church
(corner of Merrimack Street & Kirk Street)
Downtown Lowell

Early Saturday morning, James “Jimmy” Nickola was the victim of a hate crime while walking down the street in Lowell. Jimmy was brutally assaulted by three individuals. The attackers shouted homophobic slurs while nearly tearing off Jimmy’s bottom lip. Hate crimes affect more than the individual who is attacked, they affect the entire community.

This candlelight vigil is to show that Lowell is a welcoming community that will not tolerate this type of violence. Lowell is a strong, diverse, and vibrant community. Let's show the unity in our community.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gay Man, 22, Taunted and Beaten in Lowell

James Nickola, 22, was attacked in Lowell on Friday night while walking through a residential neighborhood. His attackers allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs while beating him. One of his attackers yelled, "We don't want you in our neighborhood".

He told officers that three men began to taunt him as he walked along Bridge Street in Lowell.
They caught up with him on West Fourth Street where he was jumped and beaten while being called a "faggot."

He was able to make his way to the
Lowell police station, his face covered in blood. His attackers beat him so bad, while shouting homophobic slurs at him, they nearly tore off his bottom lip.

Although prosecutors asked that his attackers be held on $2,500 cash bail, a Lowell District Court judge released the three 19-year-olds on personal recognizance with the condition that each report to probation and abide by a 10 pm to 6 am curfew.

The men who attacked Nickola face three charges: violation of constitutional rights with bodily injury, assault and battery, and mayhem.

District Attorney Gerald Leone is treating the case as a serious hate crime.

"We take our responsibility to protect citizens' rights and liberties extremely seriously," said Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. "To the extent that hatred of any kind is a motivation to target a particular person or group, we place a high priority on prosecuting those defendants and sending a strong message that that type of hatred will not be tolerated."

Read the Lowell Sun article here.
Read the Boston Globe article here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Macy's Still Apologizing to Queers

One year after Macy's Pride window display debacle, the company is still trying to make amends to the LGBT community. They have a new window display this year celebrating Boston Pride. This time there are no mannequins.

Last year Macy's caved in to the anti-gay group MassResistance and removed the mannequins from their Boston Pride display window. MassResistance complained to the company that the mannequins featured in the display were offensive because they had "enlarged breasts".

After Macy's removed the mannequins, they were flooded with calls and emails from people criticizing them for caving in to the anti-gay radical right. QueerToday organized a protest in front of the store. We marched into the store and to the management offices to voice our outrage.Even Mayor Menino chimed in, "I'm very surprised that Macy's would bend to that type of pressure," Menino told Bay Windows. "Macy's was celebrating a part of our community, gay Pride, and they should be proud of the gay community, and I'm proud of the gay community and gay Pride. Once again it's the radical right wing that's doing it. They don't represent the people."

Macy's eventually apologized for removing the mannequins and admitted they had made a mistake. Now Macy's is trying to make good with the LGBT community. They have again apologized for their mistake with last years Pride display. The CEO of Macy’s East blames an “internal breakdown in communication” for the debacle last year.

This years Boston Pride window display was designed by a member of
the Boston Pride Committee. I took a walk downtown last week to see the display. It is nice to see the large rainbow flag backdrop and the silhouette of two men holding hands along with the Boston Pride Calender.

However, the display seems a bit empty to me. How did we go from two life-like full scale mannequins, to just a silhouette of hands holding? That seems backwards to me. I can't blame Macy's for this though, it was designed by a Boston Pride Committee member.However, I will give the Boston Pride Committee props for not letting Macy's off the hook too easy. Instead of praising Macy's for actually having a Pride window display again this year, vice president of the Boston Pride Committee, Keri Aulita, said the organization isn’t going to forgive and forget. “Does one action make amends for something that was really painful for the community? No,” Aulita said. “They’re very well aware that the road to repair is not going to be a quick fix. We’re holding them to a continued relationship, and so far we’ve seen nothing but them willing to do so.”

Update: According to Kyle Hemingway, the designer of the Pride display window, he "was
only charged with the creation of the graphic, the emptiness of the window is the artistic intention of Macy's".