July 8, 2011

Lambda Legal: Don't endorse Lucas' right-wing, anti-speech campaign

Last week, Lambda Legal sent around invitations to a Fire Island Pines party -- co-sponsored by Michael Lucas and his boyfriend Richard Winger (former president of the LGBT Center's board.) Queers for an Open LGBT Center asked Lambda: really?!

Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director
Lambda Legal // 120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904

7 July 2011

Dear Kevin,

Lambda Legal is one of the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations in the country, and it is because of our recognition of the prominence and importance of your organization that we are writing to you to express our concern about the inclusion of Michael Lucas in the list of sponsors of your 33rd annual Fire Island event on July 9.

We fully recognize the need for any 501(c)(3) organization to raise funds to support its work, especially in an economic downturn such as we are now experiencing. However, we feel compelled to bring to your attention the involvement of Mr. Lucas in the operations of the LGBT Community Center -- in particular, his pernicious influence in persuading the Center to expel and ban the Siege Busters Working Group in March of this year and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) in May.

It was the ban on the Siege Busters and the silencing of free speech at the Center that prompted us to form Queers for an Open LGBT Center (QFOLC). Unfortunately, the ban on both of those organizations remains in effect to this day, and represents an unprecedented as well as entirely unjustified exclusion of individuals and groups working on behalf of the liberation of the Palestinian people -- including LGBT Palestinians -- who currently struggle to survive under an illegal and oppressive Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Michael Lucas has consciously and deliberately mischaracterized both groups as being 'anti-Israel hate groups' and its members as anti-Semitic -- despite the fact that many members of both groups are Jewish -- while he himself has made outrageously bigoted statements about Arabs and Muslims. Lucas has been quoted as saying, "I hate Muslims, absolutely. It’s a horrible, horrible religion. It’s a plague." Lucas has also said of Muslims, "They have not contributed to civilization in any way, in any field — political thought, science, music, architecture, nothing for century after century. What do they produce? Carpets. That’s how they should travel because that’s the only way they travel without killing people." And Lucas has slandered the proposed Islamic cultural center on Park Place in Manhattan as a "monument to Muslim terrorism."

We have to assume that Lambda Legal as an organization does not endorse Michael Lucas's virulently Islamophobic and anti-Arab/anti-Palestinian bigotry or his efforts to exclude QAIA and the Siege Busters from the Center and repress queer political speech -- in particular, his campaign to marginalize Arab and Muslim LGBT people and to silence community members who speak out against racism and bigotry. However, we would have to ask whether Lambda Legal would want to be seen as legitimizing the position as an LGBT community leader that Lucas so obviously wants to claim for himself.


Naomi Brussel
Leslie Cagan
Bill Dobbs
Emmaia Gelman
Andy Humm
John Francis Mulligan
Pauline Park
Brad Taylor
Queers for an Open LGBT Center (QFOLC)

July 1, 2011

At NYC Pride, Israel contingent attacks LGBT Palestine supporters

Will the Center provide safe space for queers under attack? So far, it's just providing safe space for attackers.

NYC's Pride March saw a scary escalation of the effort to squelch queer political speech -- this time with violence. Pride marchers carrying Palestine-related signs were physically attacked by marchers from the Israel contingent. Facebook posts on "Queer support for Israel" (now apparently removed) indicated that the attack may have been aimed at Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

June 23, 2011

Article on QFOLC, QAIA and more: "Protesting apartheid at Pride"

Here are some excerpts from "Protesting apartheid at Pride" by Frankie Cook (June 22, 2011)

"While QAIA received a surprising amount of support and interest at the first two New York City-wide Pride parades, the same cannot be said of NYC LGBT Center, which has kicked pro-Palestine queers to the curb. 
...The center essentially took the same position as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs by saying that it's illegitimate and illegal to call Israel an apartheid state. Until now, the LGBT Center has been a place where activists of all sorts have come to organize--from antiwar, to abortion rights, workers' struggles and many others. 

June 22, 2011

QFOLC Tells Garden Partiers: Stop Censoring Viewpoints of Groups that Meet at Center

Patrons of the LGBT “Community” Center’s Garden Party at Pier 54 on Monday evening, June 20, were greeted by an informational picket urging them to tell Center board members that their policy of censorship and exclusion is unacceptable. About 45 members of QFOLC, QAIA and their supporters joined the picket.

Board chair Mario Palumbo briefly stopped to speak with us, but reiterated his refusal to have a meeting between QFOLC and the board, which is one of our demands. Palumbo kept parroting what are now the Center’s talking points on the controversy: that LGBT people who are concerned with Palestinian rights are a “distraction” from the mission of the Center. He said that there is nothing to talk about and walked away when he realized that a member of the press was recording him. Stonewalled again. Palumbo took special exception to our references to “OUR Community Center.” I guess it belongs to the funders on the board now.

June 21, 2011

QFOLC Garden Party protest: some photos!

About 45 people turned up to protest the LGBT Center's censorship and general bad behavior yesterday, delivering 600 flyers to partygoers and a strong message to the Center: "you can't avoid controversy by slamming the door on the queer community!" More to come on the protest. Meanwhile, here are a few pics from Pauline Park. (Full album on Facebook here.)

June 17, 2011

Trans Day of Action takes on the Center, links queer/justice struggles

The NYC Trans Day of Action takes place next Friday, June 24th. This year, as every year, it makes strong links between the rights of trans people and other queers; demands to end racism, anti-immigrant  and "war on terror" policy and repressive policing, and battles on other social and economic justice fronts. This year, the points of unity include specific support for the push to open the LGBT Center back up to the community, and end censorship there.

In the wake of protests against the Center's exclusion of queers and its odd community forum in March, many folks noted that the board (particularly Board President Mario Palumbo and Tom Kirdahy, the only board members who showed up at the forum) and director Glennda Testone seemed oblivious to the depth and history of LGBT organizing -- particularly queer work on issues they seemed to deem "not queer enough," like racial and economic justice, and human rights.

Maybe the Center bigs only attend Manhattan pride, where they could -- if blinded by beads tossed from club floats and given enough promotional Absolut cocktails -- convince themselves that all queers do is dance and join support groups. (And many of us do!) But they'd be better advised to check out the Trans March, the Dyke March, and pride marches in Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn that show the vastly wider reach, and the deep political engagement, of the queer movement.

If the Center's decision-makers were really part of the larger community, we wouldn't have to explain it to them. And they wouldn't be in so very much trouble right now.

June 16, 2011

Protest the Center, and Protest its Welcome to Mayor Bloomberg.

by Andy Humm, Queers for an Open LGBT Center

We're protesting the LGBT "Community" Center's lack of transparency and openness at its Garden Party on Monday from 5:30-7:30 PM with an informational picket at 14th St. and the Hudson River. But now we have another reason to protest as the Center is welcoming Mayor Bloomberg to his first Garden Party and hailing his "incredible support" for LGBT rights. The fact is, Bloomberg's record on LGBT rights and civil liberties in general has been a disgrace.

Yes, Bloomberg is putting himself out there as a champion of same-sex marriage, but if it passes--as it may--it will be in spite of Bloomberg not because of him. Bloomberg has given MILLIONS in donations to prop up the anti-gay Republican Senate majority. This majority is blocking every piece of progressive legislation we care about from transgender rights to stronger tenant protections to universal health care for New York.

QFOLC slams censorship @ NYC LGBT Community Center

Statement from QFOLC
June 16th, 2011
(QFOLC has called a protest at the Center's annual Garden Party! Monday 6/20. Btw, it's NOT at the Center -- instead, at 14th St. & West Side Highway.)

• Lift the Ban Against Siege Busters & Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
• Open Board Meetings
• Free Speech at the Center

New York's LGBT Community Center has served as an indispensable resource since its founding in 1983. But now, something has gone very, very wrong at the Center. Its Board has turned the simple matter of renting space to queer groups for organizing into a giant mess. Groups have been told they can meet and then are banned. Suddenly there’s a cloud of censorship on 13th Street.

Claiming it "has been forced to divert significant resources from its primary purpose of providing programming and services to instead navigating between opposing positions involving the Middle East conflict," the Center announced "a moratorium, effective immediately, on renting space to groups that organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Summarily canceled were scheduled meetings of the group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA), which the Center had approved only eight days earlier. One such meeting took place without incident.

Previously, the Center banned the group, Siege Busters, from further meetings because of its organizing around Israeli Apartheid Week. Center Executive Director, Glennda Testone, stated that Siege Busters was expelled because it was both non-LGBT and controversial, with neither factor alone being grounds for refusing meeting space. Obviously, QAIA met this announced criteria. Also obvious―now―is that the banning of Siege Busters and the criteria were a smokescreen for something else.

By banning queer political organizing groups in response to "controversy," the Center is moving into a dangerous world of policing the queer community on behalf of outside forces―forces that are openly trying to silence anyone with a position different from their own. Making matters worse, by banning discussion of the Middle East conflict, the Center is, indeed, taking a side: implicitly endorsing Israel's policy on Palestine as well as the dangerous idea that anyone who objects to this policy is "anti-Semitic." Only groups opposing that occupation had been meeting there, so the ban affects them only. Despite the extreme controversy surrounding this issue, these groups have affirmed the right of those supporting the opposite position to meet at the Center as well.

The Center's "primary purpose" as described in its release is historically inaccurate. The Center was founded in 1983 to provide meeting and office space to community groups for the purposes of organizing, developing programs and rendering services. That the Center now itself performs some of these functions is great, but this role should never be used as an excuse to negate its founding purpose by limiting access to community groups.

Contrary to the Center's claim, there is nothing around which to "navigate." Republicans, Democrats, socialists and anarchists have met at the Center; so have Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists. Before this latest statement from the Center leadership, no one―including the Center itself―had ever suggested that the provision of rental space implied an endorsement of the groups renting rooms or of their political perspectives.

Siege Busters was banned under pressure from anti-free speech, Islamophobe Michael Lucas who threatened to organize a donor boycott of the Center. When QAIA was briefly allowed to meet, he threatened to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times against the Center, calling it an "anti-Israeli nest." Thugs like Lucas are the last people the Center should be listening to when developing policy.

Clearly, secret conversations are taking place behind the closed doors of the Center's boardroom. But if the word "Community" in the Center's name has any meaning, we all have every right to know what's going on. Instead of responding positively to requests from community activists to meet on this matter, the Center board hired a consulting firm to formulate a space utilization policy at exorbitant cost that is a complete waste of community resources.

Calls for open board meetings have been heard before. Now, with the latest flip-flop and ever lengthening trail of obfuscation, the need for the Center to heed this call is more urgent than ever.

• Lift the Ban Against Siege Busters & Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
• Open Board Meetings
• Free Speech at the Center

June 15, 2011

Reporter stumped by pretzel logic of censorship.

From Duncan Osborne's blog:
'I was struck by one thing on June 11. Lucas and the folks who joined him in pressuring the Center to give these two groups the boot prevented them, or tried to, from meeting and talking among themselves. When I asked Lucas if he had any plans to challenge the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in the gay pride marches in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, he said “I don’t care. They can do whatever the hell they want.”
So it is beyond the pale for these groups to meet quietly, but perfectly acceptable for them to carry their message to what will have been hundreds of thousands of people by the time they are done marching in the June 26 pride march on Fifth Avenue? So the objection is what? I remain confused.'

Protest @ the Center's Garden Party! Mon 6/20 @ 5:30pm

We're trying to put the community back in NY's LGBT Community Center. Please join us at a protest at the Center's Garden Party on Monday evening. Mayor Bloomberg is attending for the first time and being greeted by the Center as a "strong supporter," despite his terrible record on LGBT rights and civil liberities.

June 14, 2011

GCN on QAIA & Queens Pride: Queer speech in queer space, what's the big deal?

Another vote against censorship, this one from the Queens Pride Committee and Councilmember Danny Dromm. From Gay City News: The World, Again, Comes to Queens.
'...Queens Pride also played host to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA), a group who used the parade to loudly voice their opposition to the Jewish state’s policies toward Palestinians....
[Councilmember Danny] Dromm voiced uncertainty about the specifics of QAIA’s stance, but said he had no doubts about their right to participate in the parade. 
 “I don’t know exactly what their stand is, although I have heard some of the press around it,” he said. “I know that the Pride Committee, when they discussed the participation of that group here, felt that, look, they’re gay, they should be allowed to march and to express their viewpoint. We all agreed on that.”'

June 8, 2011

LGBT Center sit-in: weird success, failure & pix.

This evening's sit-in by Queers Against Israeli Occupation and Siegebusters, with support from QFOLC, went oddly unchallenged by the LGBT Center. About 60 people gathered in the lobby to hold the scheduled-then-banned QAIA meeting, since the Center had refused to allow QAIA to rent a room.

The meeting went on for about 90 minutes and broke just about every rule the Center has ever enforced about the lobby: meeting attendees sat on the floor, blocked the flow of traffic (not on purpose, but because there were so many people), spoke and applauded loudly, etc. The Center made absolutely no response -- staff just let the meeting go on. And amazingly, the sky didn't fall as queers discussed controversial topics and organized action.

While the Center was arguably wise to just let the moment pass without escalating (remember that in March they panicked and hired private security goons, ostensibly to protect the Center from the queer protest outside), it doesn't necessarily add up to good news. Instead, it seems like the Center will just go along with whatever pressure it most currently feels.

The LGBTQ community urgently needs the Center actually to stand up for queer space, for openness, for community and accountability. That includes refusing to be bullied into pushing queers out of the Center, making its operations transparent and public, and explicitly affirming that the Center is open to all facets of the community -- not just whenever it's convenient. Nothing like that happened tonight, and the fight goes on.

Here are photos from the sit-in. More will be listed here as we see them posted.

Gay City News:

Critics of Israeli Occupation Occupy Center Lobby

Queer group terming treatment of Palestinians “apartheid” defies ban on its meetings

June 7, 2011

For tomorrow's LGBT Center Sit-In: the flyer.

Village Voice: LGBT Center's self-imposed "public humiliation."

This VV post speaks for itself. And for a lot of us.
"This is not particularly shocking, but it is the most blatantly embarrassing example of how both the Center's Board and its executive director, Glennda Testone, have been willing to placate Lucas and publicly humiliate themselves. It also shows how thoroughly they are willing to turn their backs on the Center's 28-year history as a locale of controversial free speech in order to become just another censored venue catering to influential donors."

June 6, 2011

QAIA calls Sit-In at LGBT Center - Wed 6/8

In response to the LGBT Center's second (or third) refusal to rent space to anti-Occupation groups -- and its announcement that such refusal is now the Center's policy -- NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is calling a sit-in this Wednesday, 6pm at the LGBT Center.

Many other cities have queer groups organizing around Palestine, in some cases actively supported by queer institutions like Pride Committees. In Toronto, where the city's Pride march was threatened with de-funding because of the participation of Toronto's Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, the exclusion was overturned as improper. As in New York, the politics in Toronto are complicated and cross over queer-straight boundaries. (But they're not too complicated to muddy the difference between those who would silence queer organizing, and those who would fight to hold space for it.)

Here's NYC QAIA's call for this Wednesday's sit-in.
The Center has done it again. After a brief flirtation with openness, the NYC LGBT Center has capitulated to right-wing pressure – and shut down progressive queer political organizing again.


Wed., June 8, 6pm

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was supposed to have our meeting at the Center at that time... but since the Center won't stand up for us, we have to SIT IN! 
Last week, the Center responded to community demands that the Center remain open to queers, by finally granted meeting space to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. But on Thursday, after a new round of threats and bullying from the right, the Center cancelled all future QAIA meetings. In short, the Center has said that it won't stand up for queers' right to organize if that organizing becomes “controversial.” (Read statements from the Center and QAIA here.) 
Please call and/or e-mail Center director Glennda Testone and board president Mario Palumbo (again!) Tell them they can't avoid controversy just by slamming the door on queer activists. You can email from here: http://openthecenter.blogspot.com/p/action.html

June 4, 2011

Siege Busters statement on exclusion of all Palestine organizing groups

Siege Busters Statement - June 4, 2011
Regarding LGBT Center Exclusion of all Groups Organizing in Support of Palestine

It is with deep disappointment that we, the members of Siege Busters, receive the news that the Executive Committee of the LGBT Community Center has decided to extend the ban of our group to all of those organizing for justice in Palestine. It is clear from the established pattern that this decision reflects capitulation to an exceedingly small number of financially influential donors who have threatened to destroy the Center for renting space to groups who hold an opinion that differs from their own. In response to these threats, the Center has in every instance complied with the demands of this small number of donors by cancelling events, banning groups, and even disallowing an entire category of activism and speech from taking place within the facility.

Of particular concern to Siege Busters with this latest incident of exclusion is the adoption by the Executive Committee of demonizing language. By stating that all groups organizing around the Palestinian liberation struggle were to be banned due to “anti-Semitism in political expression,” the Executive Committee has chosen to promote the characterization of pro-Palestinian activism as hateful and racist. This despite the fact that a large number of the activists banned from the Center are themselves Jewish, and not a single incident of anti-Semitic language or action has been cited by the Executive Committee when this characterization has been challenged.

Gay City News sifts through the wreckage of the LGBT Center fiasco

Gay City News tries to sort out who exactly is pushing the Center to slam the door on queer political organizers. The verdict: a whole lot of Lucas' friends, Retail Workers Union leader Stuart Applebaum, maybe some elected officials (but maybe not.)

Also, GCN's Osborne asks, how much is the Center spending on a consultant to sort this out instead of actually talking to the community? (Way too much! Since bringing on the consultant, the Center's handling of the situation has just gotten worse. It's taking a major beating from all sides.)

"Opponents of QAIA said they spent the week following its meeting urging groups, individuals, and Center donors to contact the agency and ask it to reverse the decision, which it did on June 2... Lucas then said he had been copied on “well over 100 emails, but it's not 1,000” to the Center. Other groups and “lots of donors” contacted the Center, he said, though he would not identify any... 
Stuart Appelbaum, the openly gay president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said he had spoken with many people, including elected officials or their staff. 
"The Center is developing a new space rental policy with help from Ritchie Tye Consulting. The Center did not respond to an email asking what the consulting firm would be paid. In 2007, Ritchie Tye charged the Gay Men’s Health Crisis just under $92,000 for consulting, according to GMHC’s IRS filings from that year."

June 3, 2011

Lucas: Out against truth and history on more than one front.

Queers for an Open LGBT Center has not focused on Michael Lucas. He's vile, but it's the NYC LGBT Center that's the point. That said, Lucas' deliberateness in snatching away progressive queer political space -- and the huge latitude he's been given by queer institutions to do it -- is worthy of notice, if only because it's  a surprise to many of us who believed that even queers who deeply disagreed probably shared some common ground. Now that it's not necessarily radical to be queer anymore, do we still share that ground?

From PinkwatchingIsrael.com, here's a piece on how deeply political was Lucas' film "Men of Israel," using the icon of unashamed public queer sexuality to virtually kill off the Palestinian history of a village, and claim it for Israel. The tactic will be familiar to New Yorkers fighting off Lucas' attacks: he tells a silly fictitious story ("The Center is supporting terrorist groups!), tags it with buzz words about queer community and freedom ("they're providing a fig leaf for Arab homophobia!"), and then spreads it so far and wide that it no longer matters whether it's true -- it's just part of the narrative that everyone "knows."

June 2, 2011

NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid: statement on the Center's ban of their meetings

Statement from NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid:
Pro-Israel pressure machine is shutting down NYC queer community organizing.

June 2, 2011

This afternoon, the NYC LGBT Center summarily cancelled all future meetings of NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid -- and all LGBT groups organizing around the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Center claimed in a press release that it has been diverted from its "primary purpose of providing programming and services" by the protest and rhetoric around the question of meeting space.

We object completely to the idea that the Center's "primary purpose" is for "programming and services" -- it was created as, and has always been, a community space for queer organizing and self-determination. We object to the Center's spineless attempt to hide behind social services to queers, as if political organizing were not also critical to queer community and survival. We already know that the Center's board suffers from serious disconnection with the larger LGBT community and its history, but we are shocked and aggrieved at this slap in the face to queers as makers of our own path rather than passive recipients of "programming."

The Center's failure to stand up for queer communities' right to use its space sadly goes further, though. In banning "groups that organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the Center is telling queers that we will be out on the street as soon as we are challenged by powerful forces. The Center is clearly responding to pressure mounted by well-resourced pro-Israel forces -- including right-wing activist Michael Lucas, who recently moved the Jerusalem Post to write an article full of absurd accusations that the Center is anti-Semitic and is "providing a fig leaf for Arab homophobia."

LGBT Center strikes again: another queer group banned.

The LGBT Center is amazing... they've done it again. They've completely given in to right-wing demands to cancel the meetings of anti-Occupation groups (and no other groups, btw.) This time they're saying it's just too hard to stand up for queers' right to organize, and it's impinging on their provision of "programming and services" -- as if queer organizing is marginal. What horrifyingly short memories.

The LGBT Community Center Calls a "Time Out" In Renting to Groups Organizing Around the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Thu, June 2 2011
Media Contact
Cindi Creager, Director of Communications & Marketing
(212) 620-7310, ccreager@gaycenter.org
New York, NY June 2, 2011 -- The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center today announced a moratorium, effective immediately, on renting space to groups that organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision comes after months of divisiveness, protest, and heated rhetoric regarding whether the Center should rent space to two groups organizing around these issues.
The Center has been forced to divert significant resources from its primary purpose of providing programming and services to instead navigating between opposing positions involving the Middle East conflict. The Center, which does not endorse the views of groups to whom it rents space and requires all groups to sign a non-discrimination pledge, has decided to implement this moratorium to allow a cooling off period.
“We must keep our focus squarely on providing life-changing and life-saving programs and services to the LGBTQ community in New York City,” said Executive Director Glennda Testone. “We respect those who are deeply passionate about these issues, and we respectfully ask that they take meetings outside of the Center. Make no mistake, everyone is welcome at the Center; but these particular organizing activities need to take place elsewhere.”
In February, the Center declined to rent space to a group called Siege Busters, a non-LGBT-focused group whose presence at the Center provoked controversy and diverted energy and resources away from the Center’s core mission. The Center subsequently agreed to rent space to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which conformed to the Center’s application guidelines and signed its non-discrimination agreement. But the ensuing controversy has again consumed significant time and resources and forced Center staff to negotiate issues of anti-Semitism in political expression – an area outside the Center’s expertise. For these reasons, the Center has adopted an indefinite moratorium.
“We have tried in good faith to weigh each space request while considering the deeply held beliefs of members of our community about these issues,” said Board President Mario Palumbo. “But we are first and foremost a community services center and need to ensure that all individuals in our community feel welcome to come through our doors and get what they need to live healthy, happy lives. This must be our priority.”

How fire spreads: Jerusalem Post jumps on the "Center is anti-Israel" message

A new article from the Jerusalem Post calls the LGBT Center "anti-Israel" and says that anti-occupation queers are just providing "a fig leaf for Arab homophobia." Wait -- it just reports that other people are saying that. But you'd have to do some real filtering to understand that the JPost isn't endorsing that view.

In truth, the Center's board and staff are the farthest thing from anti-Israel: if anything, they appear to be so apolitical that they default to "shh, don't say anything about the Occupation!" And queer anti-occupation activists support Palestinian queers' demand to end occupation as a starting point for opening up civil society. But that matters not to sensationalist reporting.

This is the kind of baseless but effective pressure tactic that makes middle-of-the-road organizations buckle -- unless they have some core principles about free speech, openness and truth. The LGBT Center has not been strong on any of that lately, so this is worrisome.


NY LGBT Center slammed as center of anti-Israel activityBy BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
06/01/2011 23:58

Manhattan institution providing fig leaf for Arab homophobia, Wiesenthal Center says.
New York City LGBT Community Center’s decision to host an event of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid last week has drawn sharp criticism. 
Prominent US gays and the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Wednesday laced into the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. 
Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center’s international director, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was a group of “self-hating gays” who “are working against the interests of their own brothers and sisters and should be shunned by all LGBT NGOs. By accepting them, the New York center is providing a fig leaf for Arab homophobia.”

June 1, 2011

Summary of the LGBT Center/Palestine drama so far: Pauline Park

Pauline Park (of Queers for an Open LGBT Center, among other groups) blogged a how-we-got-here history of the LGBT Center's ridiculous floundering that has resulted in their alienation of queers of color and progressive queers, and the suppression of queer political organizing. It's a sad read.


Within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, the slogan “we are everywhere” is not only wonderfully true but painfully true as well, as LGBT people are found both among the Jewish Israeli and Palestinian and Arab populations living within the borders of the State of Israel. And LGBT people in the United States are found on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian divide, scattered on a continuum from those who see Israel as the only legitimate claimant to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean to those who believe that all of that land is the home of the Palestinian people alone. Many queer Americans, of course, are somewhere in between, recognizing as legitimate both the State of Israel and the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Perhaps a majority in the LGBT community in the United States is either frustrated to the point of giving up or apathetic after years of war and conflict.
And the story of how the Center became drawn into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, despite the desire of its board and staff to avoid such entanglement — or perhaps because of it — is a cautionary tale for LGBT community centers and LGBT organizations and queer politics more generally — both in New York and beyond.

May 26, 2011

QUEER VICTORY! Today's action is still on!

Dear friends,

Pressure works! Yesterday afternoon, the LGBT Center reversed itself, and offered Queers Against Israeli Apartheid a meeting room for tonight's meeting. Thanks for all your very effective emails, calls and action RSVPs.

But the huge problem at the LGBT Center is not fixed.
  • The Center is clearly still panicked over queer political organizing -- they jettisoned their whole space request process because they didn't like the name of a queer group.
  • The Center board is still refusing to meet with queer organizers about these major accountability issues. Supposedly they've hired a consultant to "figure this stuff out" -- but they're not talking to the community!
  • Board meetings are still closed-door, unlike other queer community centers.
  • The right-wing gay forces who touched off this firestorm are gearing up again -- hoping to claim that allowing political groups to meet is a violation of the Center's non-profit status. It's ridiculous, but also scary.
PLEASE COME TONIGHT: It's still very useful and important to be at the Center at 6:30pm tonight.
The Center has just started to feel the pressure -- but truly, they still haven't gotten the message that they can't act this way. Filling the room (and the hallway!) tonight will help them get it.

Tell the Center's board: We refuse to have to organize actions and sit-ins in order to use our community space.
The Center must be transparently run, and be accountable to all queers.
The board must open its meetings, restore Siegebusters' right to meet there, and meet with Queers for an OpenLGBT Center.
Send your email from here: http://openthecenter.blogspot.com.

Join us tonight! Meet in Rm 412 to support Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Overflow into the halls!

Michael Lucas kicks up again.

This email from Michael Lucas circulated after the LGBT Center announced that it has approved meeting space for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Terrifyingly, it proposes that the Center is not allowed to host any political group meetings, and that the Center is itself an "anti-Israeli nest." (What does a pro-Israel nest look like, then?!)

If ever there were a time to shore up the Center's principles of openness and commitment to queers' long history of political organizing, it's now.

From: Michael Lucas
Date: Wed, May 25, 2011 at 4:47 PM
Subject: Bad News
To: Michael Lucas

Dear friends-

I have a very unfortunate update. The group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was just granted the ability to have their meetings in the LGBT Center. As I always believed, the LGBT Center of NY is an anti-Israeli nest and we did not put enough pressure on them to stop their efforts to harm the Jewish state. But we have the power to stop them. The LGBT Center receives city, federal, foundation, and private funding. We have to work on reaching the government officials and ask them to cut that funding unless the Center changes its decision. We should also reach out to different organizations and individuals and collect money to take a full page ad in the New York Times Magazine. I know this is not cheap and I myself will generously contribute. I also believe that their support of political activity may jeopardize their ability to maintain tax-free status. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts, input, and suggestions. I do need your help.

Best regards,

Michael Lucas

LGBT Center's press release on Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

Here's the LGBT Center's press release on giving Queers Against Israeli Apartheid some meeting space.

It's something of a mystery that the Center did not send this statement to any of the folks who wrote from Queers for an Open LGBT Center, nor the folks who send them emails about QAIA. So whom were they talking to with this press release?

And second: really, it was worthy of a press release?! Then we still have a problem...

May 25, 2011

Statement on Decision to Allow Space Use by Outside Queer Identified Group

The Center recently received a request for space rental by a group called “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” for the purposes of holding recurring meetings to plan for local Pride events. This afternoon we informed the group that the Center would allow access for these meetings.

The decision is consistent with our current guidelines. Under the guidelines we provide space to community groups for a fee on a case-by-case basis, asking that they abide by the Center’s Space Use Agreement, Payment Terms, Code of Conduct and Good Neighbor Policy. Earlier this year we denied space to a group with a similar profile because among other reasons, it was not LGBT focused. In addition, the Center has a longstanding practice of allowing non-LGBT groups to meet so long as it doesn't distract us from our primary purpose of serving the LGBT community; the circumstances surrounding the group in question diverted us from our core mission and we therefore asked it to move an event and all future meetings.

LGBT New Yorkers are facing urgent issues including: youth homelessness, violence, bullying, substance abuse, health disparities and the other myriad of challenges our community members encounter each and every day.  The Center is here to help address these issues 365 days a year. Six thousand people pass through our doors every week.  We have a responsibility to meet the vast and diverse needs of this community, and our number one priority is delivering critical services to the people we directly serve.

The Center also provides space for a variety of LGBT voices in our community to engage in conversations on a range of topics. The Center does not have a position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, nor does it endorse the viewpoints of this group or any others that use rooms here. This is a complex issue, and there is a tremendous diversity of viewpoints within the LGBT community.

We are currently undergoing a review of our space-use guidelines to ensure we have the most robust standards moving forward. As an interim step we are asking all new and existing groups to sign a Space Use Pledge of Non-Discrimination as part of their rental agreements. The group we approved today has signed this pledge.

Most recently we have also engaged the firm Ritchie Tye Consulting, Inc. to help facilitate a thorough review of the Center’s current standards and procedures for determining space use by outside groups, with the ultimate goal of strengthening our guidelines. Ritchie Tye Consulting, Inc. is a New York-based organizational development consulting firm with a long tenure of work with the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities.

The firm has already been working closely with Center leadership on a process that includes opportunities for input from a diverse cross-section of Center and community stakeholders through interviews and small groups, and will deliver recommendations to the full Board of Directors later this year. At the conclusion of this process, we will apply the newly adopted guidelines to all existing, recurring and new space-for-fee requests.

The Center continues to welcome community input and feedback on this topic through our online suggestion box. http://mycenter.gaycenter.org/Page.aspx?pid=324

May 24, 2011

Join the QFOLC mailing list.

QFOLC email updates and action alerts. Infrequent emails!

Google Groups

Subscribe to Queers for an Open LGBT Center


Visit this group

May 23, 2011

Action Alert! Thursday 5/26 - come out for an open LGBT Center!


WHAT:  LGBT group that is being denied meeting space at LGBT Community Center will show up to try to take it.
WHEN: Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 PM
WHO: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid supported by Queers for an Open LGBT Center
WHERE: LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., Manhattan
MEDIA CONTACT: Pauline Park, Queers for an Open LGBT Center at (718) 424-4003 (phone); (718) 662-8893 (cell); e-mail: paulinepark@earthlink.net

Join a support action at the Center on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 pm.

Call or email Center director Glennda Testone on (212) 620-7310/
glennda@gaycenter.org to demand meeting space for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.
Call or email Center board chair Mario Palumbo at (212) 875-4900/

Statement to the Community: Stonewalled by the Center -- Enough is Enough


Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to Meet at LGBT Center May 26 at 6:30 PM
Request for Space Stonewalled by Center
Queers for an Open LGBT Center Say, “Enough is Enough”

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid will hold a planning meeting for participation in New York-area Pride marches on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 PM at the LGBT Community Center at 208 W. 13th St. Queers for an Open LGBT Center is calling on community members to show up on Thursday in solidarity with their request for meeting space.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid works to build LGBT opposition to the Israeli government’s institutional racism and occupation of Palestinian lands and in solidarity with Queer Palestinians who identify how these issues are a necessary part of their Queer agenda.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid applied for meeting space on May 10. The Center’s stated policy is to respond to such requests within “two to three business days,” but the Center has still not confirmed a meeting space and time for the group almost TWO WEEKS later. Instead of receiving an answer, the group has been stonewalled, asked to answer a raft of questions about its intentions and stonewalled again. Promises were made

Press Release: Center denying space to queer political groups

Call to Show Solidarity as Group Tries to Meet at Center May 26, 6:30 PM

Below is a joint statement from Queers for an Open LGBT Center and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid protesting the LGBT Community Center’s ongoing attempts to filter and censor queer political organizing. The Center staff has most recently refused to grant meeting space to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Pride-season organizing or even make a decision about the group’s request in a timely fashion.

Time Mag on queers & Palestine (will the Center's board read it?)

This blog is not about queers and Palestine -- it's about the Center. But one can't help pointing out: even Time Magazine gets that queers are organizing around the Israeli occupation, and it's a queer issue. The Center's refusal to deal with queer organizing on this issue smacks ever more of censorship reflecting the specific political opinions of the board -- and some donors.
Is Israel Using Gay Rights to Excuse Its Policy on Palestine?Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2070415,00.html#ixzz1NBCzfFtp
Next month is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month, an international season of parades, cultural festivals and street parties celebrating gay rights. But amid all the good cheer, tensions are rising over a controversial issue that is splintering LGBT communities. Around the world, major pride events are being used as battlegrounds to combat what some pro-Palestinian, progay activists are calling pink washing: Israel's promotion of its progressive gay-rights record as a way to cover up ongoing human-rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.

Another group facing denial: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

The Center is using "procedure" and delays to deny space to yet another queer political group that it apparently finds uncomfortable. Queers for an Open LGBT Center supports the right of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to use our community space for queer organizing.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid made a standard request for space on May 10th to organize the group's participation in upcoming Pride events. Space requests are supposed to take 2-3 days to approve.  So when QAIA didn't hear back from the Center in three days, its representative called the Center to ask what was up.

May 13, 2011

Pauline Park in Village Voice: LGBT Center 'Gave the Community the Finger'

More coverage of the LGBT Center's censorship of "controversial" queer political organizing, from the Village Voice's Steven Thrasher. Pauline gives some history of the Siegebusters/LGBT Center issue, and some sorely-needed fresh air on the Center board's skittish response to queer political engagement.

​Veteran transgender activist Pauline Park — responsible for adding the "T" to Manhattan's LGBT Center — blasts the center's controversial decision in March to cave to pressure from pro-Zionist gay-porn impresario Michael Lucas and ban an "Israeli Apartheid Week" event sponsored by Siege Busters. The Queens Pride House, of which she is board president, hosted Siege Busters' screening of Arna's Children (a documentary sympathetic to Palestinians) last weekend in Jackson Heights. We spoke with Park about why she thinks the Manhattan LGBT Center has "basically given the community the finger" and has said to other gays — in her words — "Fuck you, drop dead, we only care about the bottom line."Officials at the Manhattan LGBT Center, the city's major gay community center, will no longer talk about the controversy, telling the Voice, "At this time, we are not doing any further interviews on the topic."
[Interview with Pauline follows... click to read it!]

Stonewalled: Center rebuffs queers seeking sunshine.

On April 5th, Queers for an Open LGBT Center wrote to the board to ask for an update on their progress -- and some accountability to community members engaged in this issue, in the form of a meeting with the board. No dice. A week later, board chair Mario Palumbo referred us to staff as the administrators of the old policies still in place, said they were working on it, and shut the door.

It's worth noting that the Center's "community forum" was heavily attended by long-time organizers from many corners of the queer community. The Queers for an Open LGBT Center letter is signed by some of them. Others, including many groups of queers of color, have made their own contact with the Center. The Center's refusal to meet because "more people might also want meetings" is seriously bad behavior for stewards of a community space. Queers who are organizing are the Center's constituency, and must be at the heart of this discussion, if it's honest. The Center board's odd, ahistoric removal from queer organizing is clearly part of the problem.

Here's the thread:

April 13, 2011

GCN: conservative gay institutions vs. progressive queer communities

Gay City News has done a pretty thorough job (in one person's opinion) of documenting the Center's brazen attempt to quash queer dialogue about Palestine and pinkwashing, progressive queer movement, and the Center itself. Now GCN follows up on the bigger picture of how queer movement has been pushed to the right. Messages on marriage, DADT and other issues have come from institutions that took on leadership through big funding (rather than the support of an active LGBT community, on which political groups relied before funding became commonplace.) Those institutions are focused on normalizing gays rather than carving out space not to conform to simplistic norms, and queers who object are silenced.

GCN's argument is that this dumbing down of queer politics is a function of an expanding set of people who identify as LGBT, and who are themselves less radical and more normative. But in the case of the LGBT Center, it looks like the staff and executive board members are far more focused on mainstreaming than the Center's constituency.

“I think that the scope of discussions over the past 30 years... has become increasingly limited and diminished in the broader community,” said Michael Bronski, a professor at Dartmouth and Harvard Colleges and the author of “A Queer History of the United States” due to be released on May 10.
That narrowing came as the community’s membership grew. In order to include new members, the radical politics that informed some early gay groups were softened and became more centrist.
Community groups have increasingly relied on the mainstream press to get their messages out. Mainstream outlets have never been interested in the community’s internal debates, nor will they cover sexual politics in the LGBT community

March 31, 2011

The Center's fear of controversy strikes again.

Here's Gay City News on the cancelled/moved GLYDSA meeting (link below.) Did the Center push to cancel another event because it was going to be controversial?! Interestingly, Michael Lucas is now calling the Center reps liars, and saying they deliberately went after a vulnerable group. Maybe the Center would be better off making decisions based on principals of community and openness, rather than trying to please a nutty loose cannon of a right-wing funder?
Asked by Gay City News if the Center asked GLYDSA to cancel its meeting, the group wrote, “[W]e were not asked to cancel or move our meeting... Yes, we were pressured to cancel Mr. Lucas. This was in addition to potential unwanted intrusions by outsiders, including the press. We made the decision to move away from any potential disruption for the benefit of our members who trust us to guard their privacy and confidentiality. As long-standing constituents and supporters of the Center, we thought it might also diffuse some of the tension there as well.”

March 29, 2011

Phyllis Chesler basically says queers against Israeli occupation are mentally ill

Can't post this one without some comment. Now that Jews are so visibly organized against Zionism and Apartheid, and queers are organized to demand the rights of Palestinians and decry Islamophobia, the right is finding it tough to claim that Israel is all that's keeping Jews and Middle Eastern queers (and women, etc.) safe from the ravages of the Arab world.

To keep the right-wing case afloat, Chesler is now arguing that we're "obsessed with our own victimhood" to the point where we support our oppressors (Muslims, presumably.) What will Chesler make of the Palestinian queer movement, and its insistence on the inextricability of occupation with homophobia, whenever she finally notices it?

And here's a nutty snippet:
I have seen gay and lesbian contingents marching together with leftists and Arabs outside presentations I have given; they have heckled, hooted and tried to silence me in the lecture hall. The loudest chants of "From the River to the Sea -Palestine will be free" are coming, not only from the Muslim student associations or from the Palestinians with loudspeakers; they are coming from the mouths of American Jewish lesbian feminists whose very lives, certainly their political identities, are strangely bound up with Arab territorial claims.

The Jewish lesbians among them are not "self-hating Jews." They are political opportunists obsessed with their own victimhood posturing -even if it means they must sacrifice the cause of both women and homosexuals in the process.

Village Voice: Some info on Michael Lucas, and the Center's initial resistance to kicking out Siegebusters

Village Voice's background on right-wing gay activist Michael Lucas. Maybe most interesting: reporting that the Center rejected his attempts to intimidate them. What made them cave?
Michael Lucas: The Zionist Porn Impresario Waves His Political Muscle in the Left's Face
... By the end of the week, Lucas became known for flexing his political muscle: He intimidated New York's LGBT Center into canceling its hosting of another group's Israeli Apartheid Week event scheduled for next month. And it took him only a few hours of emails and phone calls, plus a little more than $1,000, to do so.

"At first," he tells the Voice, "they tried to tell me, 'Don't intimidate us.' " He says he was told the Center had an "open-door policy." (Center officials have repeatedly refused to answer the Voice's specific questions on the matter.)

Within hours, the Center's open-door policy shut down. Lucas says: "[Executive Director] Glennda Testone responded directly to me, writing, 'We are canceling the event. Next time, maybe we can talk more about it before you do all of that.'"

Village Voice: Testone fails to make amends in mtg with Siegebusters

Village Voice's Steven Thrasher covers Siegebusters' meeting with Testone. Outcome: no movement from the Center.
'Party to End Israeli Apartheid!' Still On at Gay Center, Activists Vow, But With Picketing, Not Dancing

The Center's officials, smarting from criticism, have announced a March 13 "Community Forum," saying, "Recent events have led us to build on our process for providing space."
The Siege Busters folks are not impressed so far. After a week of silent treatment from the Center following their ejection, they say, Testone finally agreed to meet with them, but with tight restrictions on what could even be discussed.
When they arrived at the Center, Taylor and two others were escorted to meet with Testone and two members of her staff. As Taylor recalls it, "We basically said, 'We're here to help you handle the fact that you've made a terrible mistake. A terrible PR mistake, and a terrible political mistake. We'd like to discuss the way that we can, in a facesaving manner, reinstate this event and allow Siege Busters to meet at the Center again. We don't want to rub your nose in it, we don't want to attack the Center or you personally. The only thing we want is for the Center to rescind the decision.' "

Jewish Voices for Peace decries Center's censorship of discussion of Israeli policy

Jewish Voices for Peace blogs about pinkwashing, and the Center's collaboration with the effort by Lucas and others to depict Israel as gay-friendly, and its opponents as anti-gay. Snippet follows the link.

Taking Pinkwashing to a whole new level, one of Israel’s very very good friends– gay male pornographer Michael Lucas– is boasting that he single-handedly got NY’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans Community Center to not only cancel a “Party to End Apartheid” fundraiser to cover costs for Israel Awareness Week, but to ban the group from ever renting there again. How? You know, the usual calls from supporters and threats to withhold major donations (according to Lucas).

Village Voice on GLYDSA/Lucas event cancellation

Village Voice's Steven Thrasher sheds some light on the difference between Lucas' and GLYDSA's versions of why Lucas' speaking event was moved from the Center. Snippet follow the link.

Gay Center's Feud Over Middle Eastern Politics Flares Up Again

Lucas was to speak about his role in lobbying for the cancellation. But at the last minute, the Orthodox Jewish gays decided to call off their own meeting at the center and hold it at another location.
Members of Siege Busters, and others who supported the anti-Zionist activists' right to meet at the Center, howled, questioning the double standard of allowing a pro-Israel group to host a controversial speaker, while forbidding a pro-Palestine group from doing it own thing at the Center.

But on the eve of yesterday's event, the Orthodox Jewish gay group moved it to another locale.
Fanning the flames of the feud, Lucas added, "The problem is that the Center got so much involved with anti-Semitic groups that now Jews don't feel safe meeting there any longer."

There's no evidence of that, and the Center's officials — and GYLDSA — deny that there have been any threats or pressure. "We are a small private group with no interest in publicity," a group spokesman tells us. "We received no threats, nor did the Center ask us to 'un-invite' Michael Lucas."

March 28, 2011

Lucas surfaces again at the Center, then cancels himself.

On March 17th, the Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association (GLYDSA) posted this announcement of an event -- at the Center -- featuring Michael Lucas. A few days later, Lucas seems to have pulled the event from the Center himself. (Read more after the jump.)

Queers for an Open LGBT Center, along with some members of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, intended to leaflet the event to decry the hypocrisy of the Center -- giving the controversial Lucas a platform, even as they bars others from speaking either at his behest or because they're "too controversial."

Center's response to follow-up letter

Hi Bill and everyone,

Thank you for checking in with us. We are continuing to carefully review the community feedback from the forum and the input coming in through the online suggestion box. This issue is a priority for us and we will keep you apprised. One of the things we heard loud and clear at the forum was that people wanted more avenues to communicate input and concerns to the Center, so in addition to the initial community forum and the online suggestion box, we have decided to offer other community forums as well. We also plan to share the details of our process for analyzing and revising our room rental policies in a public memo as soon as possible.

Thanks again,

Queer organizers pull together to challenge Center's ban

In the wake of the Center's inconclusive public forum, a growing group of queer activists planned an organizing meeting. Just in advance of the meeting, some of us sent this follow-up letter to the Center's director Glennda Testone, board chair Mario Palumbo, and the only other board member present at the pubic forum, Tom Kirdahy.

March 21, 2011

Dear Glennda, Mario and Tom,

We're writing to stay in touch about the issues raised in the
community forum and to get an update. There were several issues on
the table when we ended the forum--particularly the questions of
whether the Center would invite Siegebusters to resume meeting there,
and whether the Center Board of Directors would open its own meetings
to the community.

We are members of an ad hoc group meeting tonight to talk about all
this and we would appreciate knowing whether the Center has made any
decisions about any of the above.

Thank you,

Bill Dobbs
Ann Northrop
Naomi Brussel
Brad Taylor
Leslie Cagan
Pauline Park
Emmaia Gelman
Lisa Duggan
Steve Ault
Jasbir Puar
Andy Humm

Gay City News on Center's public forum


LGBT Center’s Ban on Israeli Critics Debated at Forum

March 13 town hall draws crowd of 100, deeply divided, with some faulting content standard for access

Glennda Testone, executive director of New York City's LGBT Community Center.
Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 4:18 PM CDT
While the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center can legally ban a group that opposes Israeli government policies toward Palestinians, it was clear at a town hall meeting held at the Center was that some in the community expect more from the 28-year-old institution than merely complying with the law.

“I think the Center cannot, in any way, make decisions based on the content or controversial nature of the event,” said Urvaishi Vaid, the longtime queer community leader, at the March 13 event. “I want the Center to be a place where people like Michael [Lucas] can come and organize and people like Siegebusters can come and organize.”

Village Voice on the Center's public forum

Here is Steven Thrasher's reporting on the forum. Boring comment war not re-posted here, but you can read it on Thrasher's blog.


More Sniping in the Gay Center's Battle of Zion

The LGBT Center
​Michael Lucas, the pro-Zionist pornographer who led thesuccessful effort to get the LGBT Center to cancel an anti-Zionist "Israeli Apartheid Week" event, once again dominated discussion at what was billed a "community forum" last weekend on who gets to use the Center.

The spirited, standing-room-only crowd, on the other hand, appeared to consist mostly of Lucas's foes: supporters of Siege Busters, an activist group that was trying to put on the anti-Zionist event.

At the heart of the debate was the right to free speech for anyone renting space in the Center versus the right of donors to have their say about who gets to use the space. That argument is far from settled.

A large number of those present seemed to feel uncomfortable allowing the Center to decide what is or is not "too controversial" or "gay enough." Some said they'd feel uncomfortable coming to a Center where a group using the words "Israeli Apartheid" was allowed to meet. But more said they had met at the Center for years around "non-gay" issues like war, the death penalty, and South African apartheid.

About Queers for an Open LGBT Center