Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director
Lambda Legal // 120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904
7 July 2011
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.
John Francis Mulligan
Queers for an Open LGBT Center (QFOLC)
July 8, 2011
July 1, 2011
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
"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
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
June 17, 2011
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
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.
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.)
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
'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.'
June 14, 2011
'...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
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
"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
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.
SIT-IN @ THE LGBT CENTER
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
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.
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
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
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."
(212) 620-7310, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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.
- 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 RAMP UP YOUR EMAILS AND CALLS TO THE CENTER.
Join us tonight! Meet in Rm 412 to support Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Overflow into the halls!
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
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.
May 24, 2011
May 23, 2011
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: email@example.com
HOW TO SUPPORT:
Join a support action at the Center on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 pm.
Call or email Center director Glennda Testone on (212) firstname.lastname@example.org to demand meeting space for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.
Call or email Center board chair Mario Palumbo at (212) email@example.com.
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.
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.
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
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!]
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
“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
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
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
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.'"
'Party to End Israeli Apartheid!' Still On at Gay Center, Activists Vow, But With Picketing, Not Dancing
MuzzleWatch: NY’s famed LGBT Center folds under pressure - bans “Party to End Apartheid!,” Israeli Apartheid Week event and groups
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'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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
|Glennda Testone, executive director of New York City's LGBT Community Center.|
“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.”