Top of the Line
Alaska Air plane crash victims reportedly include a gay philanthropist who gave to AIDS causes, as well as Toni Choate, a Santa Cruz man who was living as a woman, and who was returning to the San Francisco Bay area with daughter Jacquelyn. People reports that Choate was a general contractor and cabinet finisher originally from Visalia, Calif. He was formerly known as Larry D. Choate, but changed his name and started living as a woman in the mid 1990s.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Feb. 1 that "An independent committee working to re-elect San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown directed more than US$173,000 to a top lesbian and gay Democratic club in the last weeks before the runoff race against gay challenger Tom Ammiano, according to expenditure reports filed yesterday. The Willie Brown Leadership Political Action Committee, whose donors included restaurant owners and real estate interests, gave US$100,000 to the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club on December 1, US$50,000 more on December 2 and US$23,000 on December 10, according to reports filed with the city's Ethics Commission. The Toklas Independent Expenditure committee paid nearly US$154,000 to Action Media Inc. of San Francisco for a TV ad in support of Brown." The problem of soft money used in campaigns is not faced in SF alone, but this certainly makes it seem like the gay community is as easily bought as the next constituency.
Saul Bellow's next novel, Ravelstein, is based on the life of the late political philosopher Allan Bloom, who was Bellow's friend and colleague at the University of Chicago, writes Sam Tanenhaus, contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Tanenhau states: "The novel, the 84—year—old Mr. Bellow's first full—scale work in more than a decade, reveals that Bloom was a homosexual who died of AIDS, a truth long kept quiet out of respect for Bloom's privacy. Has Mr. Bellow abused a friend by 'outing' him? Allan Bloom ... was a celebrity, whose 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind—published with a glowing foreword by Mr. Bellow—remains a touchstone for defenders of high culture. A debunking of Bloom will be taken by many as a gratuitous assault. Yet there is no evidence that Mr. Bellow is bent on cutting his subject down to size. ... This is important because Bloom has lost the iconic status he once enjoyed among conservatives, who initially hailed his work but have been more subdued in recent years, owing mainly to uneasiness about his homosexuality. What is more, Bloom asked Mr. Bellow to write about him. Even if Bloom evidently preferred a memoir to a novel, he had to be aware that Mr. Bellow had been freely combining these formsin the tradition of Rousseausince the publication of Herzog in 1964."
The sequel to the popular Brit show Queer As Folk is airing this month in England. Queer As Folk 2: Same Men, New Tricks, will be out on video March 13. If you order the video from the site listed below they will convert the video to U.S. standard for an extra charge of $26. Go to: www.gayvideoshop.co.uk
On Feb. 3, two-time GLAAD Media Award winner Chicago Hope presented a complex, compelling episode about gender identity called "Boys Will Be Girls." Dr. Jack McNeil ( Mark Harmon ) is surprised to discover that his female teenage patient was actually born a boy. An error during the infant's circumcision resulted in the loss of the boy's penis; and while doctors advised the parents to raise the child as a girl, the adolescent Deborah now desires to live as a boy. When Chicago Hope's doctors offer Deborah a procedure that will undo the mutilation suffered during the circumcision, Deborah's parents and the hospital staff face off in court to determine the best interests of the child. The doctors support Deborah's insistence of being really a boy and treat their patient with respect and dignity, GLAAD said.
NYPD Blue's Jan. 25 episode included a story about the detectives' investigation into the killing of a man by a male prostitute. While the topic is one of reality, the presentation, particularly in the character of Detective Sipowicz, crosses the line to being offensive. In the series, Sipowicz is played as a tough, longtime New York cop who has seen and done it all, yet in this story he is shocked and disgusted by simply being in a gay bar and later, its bathroom, GLAAD says. Looking at some bland framed nude drawings on the bathroom wall prompts him to say in distaste, "How can you urinate in this type of environment?" Sipowicz also uses such derogatory terms as "fairy bars," "queer moron" and "fruits" without ever being challenged by anyone.
The Jan. 19 episode of City of Angels, a new hospital drama on CBS, contained a story line about a man who comes to the emergency room with a Golden Globe Award lodged in his rectum. He and his male partner are played for humor as the hospital staff makes puns and jokes about the situation, GLAAD reports. Later, a senior physician reprimands staff members on their poor attitude and lack of compassion.
For both NYPD and Angels, contact: Steven Bochco, Steven Bochco Productions, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Bldg. 1, Los Angeles, CA 90035; fax: ( 310 ) 369— 3236.
The WFLD Fox 32 Evening News special report on discrimination against transgender people has been postponed, possibly to Feb. 22. The WTTW program on Rev. Gregory Dell and same-sex couples was also postponed, possibly to Feb. 20.
Absolut Tom of Finland ...
Last weekend, Absolut Vodka presented Tom of Finland's Clothing Fall 2000 collection during their debut at New York's 7th on Sixth Fashion Week. Tom of Finland designers Gary Robinson and David Johnson debuted exclusive Absolut fashions created with inspiration from the world-famous Absolut bottle. Absolut's collaboration with Tom of Finland, a clothing line historically designed by and for gay men, highlights the brand's continued support of up-and-coming fashion designers as well as the gay and lesbian community. "Tom of Finland presented an opportunity for Absolut to demonstrate its support of two very important constituencies: the fashion and gay communities," said James Schleifer, director of marketing for Absolut Vodka.
"We are thrilled to be creating Absolut designs that portray the masculinity and positive sexuality evident in our Tom of Finland Clothing line," Robinson said. "The Absolut bottle, known for its unique sleekness and beauty, when woven into selected pieces creates designs that are uniquely Absolut, yet very Tom of Finland."
The late Tom of Finland helped define masculinity in the 20th Century through his artistic and unique portrayal of gay men.
POZ Magazine named 25 U.S. corporations with the best workplace policies for HIV-positive workers in its January issue. The companies are: American Airlines, American Express, Bank of America, Bell Atlantic, Ben & Jerry's, Charles Schwab, Chase Manhattan, Coors Brewing, Eastman Kodak, The Gap, Glaxo Wellcome, IBM, Levi Strauss, The Limited, Liz Claiborne, Lucent Technologies, MCA/Universal, Naya Inc., New York Times Co., Polaroid, Quark, Starbucks, Time Warner, Unumprovident and Walt Disney. The criteria used to rate corporate policies included: access to good employee insurance, including domestic-partner healthcare coverage; a non-discrimination policy and action plan for supporting the needs and confidentiality of employees living with HIV; a manager or work-group committee in charge of addressing HIV issues; a strong track record in recruiting, employing and promoting women and minorities; and a documented history of charitable giving to AIDS organizations.
Southwest Airlines has amended its non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies to include sexual orientation, according to Chief Executive Herb Kelleher. The move came after alleged anti-gay harassment, which led some employees to raise safety concerns. The tensions boiled over when Southwest Airlines' Pilots' Association published a homophobic letter from one of its members in its December newsletter.
More than 100 demonstrators gathered outside ExxonMobil offices in Houston Jan. 28 to protest the company's decision to end domestic-partner benefits programs and not include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy. Meanwhile, 24 members of Congress sent a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Lee R. Raymond Dec. 22 expressing their "deep concerns" regarding the company's decision to end DP benefits and not adopt the former Mobil Corp.'s non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation.
The first publicly traded ( Australian Stock Exchange ) gay and lesbian services company, The Satellite Group, has added a sixth Australian capital city newspaper to its network of media titles, confirming its status as one of the most significant owners of gay media content in the world. Satellite subsidiary Satellite Media Pty Limited has purchased Perth, Australia-based free-to-street newspaper Westside Observer and its associated gay and lesbian tourism and venue guide. This gives Satellite over 80 percent of the Australian gay publishing market. The company has wasted no time since listing on the Australian Stock Exchange this past September, becoming the world's first publicly traded gay company.