Archives for posts with tag: American Civil Liberties Union

Orange1.

The ACLU 2012 Bill of Rights awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.   I sat with my lawyers Barry Litt and Peter Eliasberg.

We ate stewed pear salad, grilled chicken and for dessert they served a strange, solid cake.

During the dinner they projected various videos describing the work they do for Homeless Veterans, Immigrants Rights, The LGBTQ community.

Of course the work I have been contributing to was just part of what was projected.  I was incredibly proud to be asked to stand in front of the 1000 or so people and introduce myself.

Will Ferrell, Jay Roach, Ermin Chemerinsky and Jane Lynch all spoke beautifully on behalf of the ACLU and their various causes and friends.

During the interval both Usher (the singer) and Scooter Braun (2 million twitter followers) took the time to introduce themselves and congratulate me.

Of course, as usual, not one gay person, including honoree Jane Lynch made themselves known to me.  The chasm that exists between me and the gay community in LA was even more evident than usual at this event.

Only last week the gay ‘director’ Guy Shalem texted me telling me that I deserved to be in jail… mocking the time that I had spent there, telling me that I only had friends I made in jail.

Guy Shalem is a gay Israeli fame-whore who lives in Los Angeles.  I met him at some grimy gay party in the Hollywood Hills last year and he subsequently invited me to Griffith Park for a walk the following day.

The conversation on the mountain centered around his visa problems, his inability to make relationships work, his celebrity friends and his desire for younger boys.

He complained that Outfest were sniffy about his short film.  When I saw it I understood why.  “Bruce Vilanch is in it.” He boasted, “They should love it.”

After all, he’s obsessed with celebrity… why shouldn’t Outfest?

So, it was mildly shocking to see Guy at the ACLU event. Wearing a bad suit and even worse shoes.

He had seen the video lauding the work we are all doing for those held on spurious ICE holds.

He heard the applause I received when they asked me to stand.

He heard Hector Villagra, head of the ACLU talking publicly about my personal bravery and commitment to the ACLU.

Guy is the perennial plus one to any gay celebrity.  Last night, yet again, he was with Jane Lynch.   He saw me, headed toward me and shook my hand.  Apparently forgetting the vile things he said last week.

I told him in no uncertain terms how and what I felt about him coming up to me.

He motioned to his ugly short gay friends lawyer Aaron Rosenberg and his ‘husband’ that this was worth watching.  They snickered, like vile bullying children, behind my back.

Let’s face it, Guy was only there for the free dinner and to stand with his famous friend and hope to ensnare other famous people with his puppy eyes and his maudlin sob stories.

The point of the evening was completely lost on him.

After I walked away from Guy other honorees came up to me and offered their hands.

One of them, an elderly female philanthropist  said, “We are like kindred spirits, you and me.”   I was so touched by her generosity.

So many kind people… not one of them gay.

2.

There was a moment in Beverly Hills recently when my body decided enough was enough.  7am, Beverly Drive, walking the dogs… I fainted.

The last thing I remember:  kicking a fresh pine cone.  The next thing?  I crashed to the ground painfully twisting my wrist under the weight of my body.

Dude, my fat red dog ran away as fast as he could.  The Little Dog stayed beside me as loyal as any dog can be.

I probably should have seen a doctor but, like my Grandmother and my Mother, a visit to the doctor is the last thing I do willingly.

It took an hour or so to persuade Dude to come back to me.  For the rest of the day he looked at me differently.  Like I was a  stranger.

So, yesterday.

I’m sure you want to know.

Firstly, I want to thank the ACLU for co-counseling my suit against the Sheriff.

They have worked for months on this case and they have every reason to believe in a positive outcome.

My personal suit separated from the class action.

I am suing the Sheriff’s Department for a considerable amount of money.

I arrived early at the ACLU office down town.  I met with my lawyers.  I watched the 30 or so cameras being set up from TV stations all over the USA.

Jennie Pasquarella spoke first.  A more eloquent speaker one could not hope to listen to.  A more brilliant lawyer one could not hope to meet.

Like all of the lawyers who work for the ACLU she is motivated by fairness for all.

She said:

The principle of bail is something so fundamental, that you shouldn’t be held until you’re found guilty.

I waited my turn.

I listened again to this startling fact:  The Immigration Department is mandated  to deport 400, 000 people a year from the USA.

This fact alone never ceases to shock and amaze me.  The implications, I’m sure, are not lost on any of you.

The last time I faced a barrage of press like that I was at the Sundance Film Festival.  It was all about me.

Yesterday I was representing thousands of the disenfranchised, the oppressed and the wrongly imprisoned.

In light of Jerry Brown’s veto of the Trust Act and set against the back drop of a recent, damning report documenting violence and abuse in The Men’s County Jail, this case could not be more relevant.

Sheriff Lee Baca has been effectively told that he is incapable of running a jail by the board of supervisors.

Humiliatingly the Supervisors, not the Sheriff, will find someone more competent to run the jail.

Within minutes of the end of our press conference the Sheriff’s representative disputed the charge that the Sheriff’s Department has denied bail to anyone because of ICE holds.

“If you are able to post bail — say it’s $10,000 — and you’re an immigrant from wherever. With or without an ICE hold, we accept that,” said the spokeswoman, Nicole Nishida.

An outright LIE.

A report by prison expert James Austin cites data from Baca’s office indicating that at least 20,000 Los Angeles County inmates, nearly all of them Latino males, were subjected to ICE holds in 2011.

Latino males arrested, held in the MCJ, forced to accept spurious guilty pleas and deported equals: ethnic cleansing.

Nobody cares about them.  Nobody gives a damn about undocumented workers.  They are treated like animals.  Even by my most (so-called) progressive friends.

Latinos spending their lives doing jobs white people don’t want to do, refuse to do in SoCal.  They are the real victims of the economic catastrophe.

During the good times, we turn a blind eye to these men and women working at our behest for minimal wages.

When things get bad they are thrown out like yesterdays trash, rounded up like cattle to satisfy immigration deportation quotas.

It’s the same everywhere, when things get tough:  blame the immigrants.

I heard my own mother blame Eastern Europeans for ‘taking our jobs’ back at home in Britain.

The Spanish-speaking press asked me: “Do you think Lee Baca is anti-immigrant?”

“You mean, do I think Lee Baca is a racist?”  I replied.  “Well, he is just part of the racist problem in the USA but he gets to be the executioner.”

In a country where most people are enslaved by debt, lack of education, obesity, religious/corporate ideology and hubris it is very easy to forget about ones own enslavement and think nothing of enslaving and demonizing others.

The primary reason I would never vote (if I could) for a second Obama term, regardless of his so-called pro gay marriage smokescreen (designed largely to melt liberal hearts) is his appalling deportation record.

The Obama administration’s deportation policies, which rely on cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, have already been challenged in California.

Legislation that would have prohibited sheriffs and police departments from enforcing ICE holds in most cases was, as I have already written, vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month.

Barrack Obama has deported more people from the USA than any other President in this country’s history.

It goes without saying that the Gay media and my local Malibu newspaper will totally ignore this story.  I am neither pretty enough nor non-controversial for either to cover the story.

Even though it may be of interest to both communities.

Most gay men are unaware that if they fell in love with a non-American their state marriage certificate or their Foreign marriage certificate would mean absolutely nothing to the Federal Immigration Department.

Their husband/wife would risk deportation.

The gay men I know think that deportation happens to other people… you know… brown people.  Not people like us.

Those same gay men run the gay media.

Scott McPherson from The Advocate told me recently that he totally supported The President’s immigration policy and (after I explained to him what a drone was and who was being killed by them) he told me he had no interest in who drones were killing.

All Scott wants is marriage equality.  Apparently, only for Americans to marry other Americans.

You might think that Malibu is a liberal, open-minded place…. with all those rich über gays living down there on the beach… but I have endured more homophobia in Malibu than even my small home town village of Whitstable in Kent where one might expect the crushingly narrow-minded.

My Armenian neighbor was so vile about me and my young gay renter, her invective so shocking… it almost took my breath away.

So.  It has begun.

Where the runes fall… is none of my business.

Somehow the very act of laying ones self bare, open to all sorts of scrutiny, is a relief.

Regardless of the outcome, I am very happy to be of service to those who can least help themselves.

On Friday night we saw Lily perform a charming play after her month of theatre camp.  She played a slutty demon.

After the show I met the parents of a 12-year-old gay kid who was easily the star of the show.  He is obsessed with fashion.  Begging his mother to take him look at wedding dresses in Beverly Hills.

I smiled, remembering my own fashion obsessions when I was his age.

He is not having a great time at school.  The other kids are mean to him and he in turn is a pain in the ass.  I know that feeling too, being an obviously gay kid who spent the larger part of his childhood at war with other kids.

I rather hoped I would grow out of it but…I didn’t.  I am still at war.

The entire weekend was spent rehearsing and shooting tests for the movie.  I look forward to viewing the material.

After day one we met Jacob and Fielder at Laurel Hardware.  The dinner was spectacular.

We scoffed the heavenly pig cheek, sharing the lamb, the char, assorted salads and the most delicious rhubarb and strawberry cobbler and roasted peaches.

Perfection.

The ingredients are locally sourced,  incredibly fresh and the flavor combinations were perfectly well judged.

After day two of rehearsing and shooting the most dramatic scene in the film… we all took off for the local watering hole.

Boys leaping a hundred foot out of the air into the ice-cold water.

Policeman confiscating beer and … of all things… an axe.  A mostly Mexican crowd they looked horrified when the cops turned up.

After my time helping out the ACLU I now know why.

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The weeks and the months pass by.

Since my release from the county jail, life has become…tranquil…passes effortlessly…with relative ease.

I imagine this is what Percocet feels like?

I have settled back into my life but scarcely write about it.

The twins are living here with their friend Kevin. They move out on the 26th. We cook, we prepare good food. We eat at the table, we use the linen napkins before they are packed up or sold.

They drink red wine from crystal glasses they have no idea are as valuable as they are.

I know that these formal dinners are at odds not just with these youth but with all youth.

I am trapped in another universe, insensitive to their discomfort. They have no use for anything I know.

I am not sad. All I have to do is re-imagine life in jail and I am delivered from self-pity.

I have tried going back to AA but I’ve no stomach for it, nor the people. I am done with AA in LA. It’s over. Over.

Occasionally I have to go back to court and they hand me more papers to add to the huge stack I already have on my desk.

You can feel that neither the judge nor the DA has the enthusiasm for the case now I am not incarcerated.

Certainly, with the serious press and the ACLU in pursuit of answers re. my illegal incarceration and with a huge law suit in the offing…I can’t imagine that it’s party time at the DA’s office when they mention my name.

Anne Marie the special DA looked positively miserable when we saw her yesterday. Her hair looked good tho. Nicely quaffed and bouncy.

She was wearing a very chic black, cashmere coat belted at the waist with dramatic lapels and long hem line.

I was a bit hard on her in earlier blogs. She is prettier than Michelle Bachman.

I am most eager to go to court. To clear my name. To start the law suit against the realtor who started all this mess.

I am not allowed to sue him whilst we are in this criminal tangle. That’s the law…apparently.

Yet, even that may be taken out of my hands by HSBC, my lender.

The twins birthday on Monday. They will be 22 years old. Remember last year? How they bounced down stairs in the morning and sang Dave Mathews songs?

I met Miles when he was 19.

Robby has fallen for someone and my surrogate child spends nights on end away from the house with his new love.

I want him to be safe, he looks at me like I’m an idiot when I remind him to be true to himself.

Watching Robby grow into a fully formed young man, the young man he wants to be…not who I want him to be.

He reminds me of another young man who liberated himself from the closet not so long ago. Before my very eyes.

There are so many similarities. Robby and Jake. But the outcomes are so different.

Again, I play over those past events. The events of that doomed love affair. Wishing I had done things differently. Wishing I could have helped rather than hindered.

The death of love.

Mostly, as Robby reveals who he is, I have the same feeling I had when Jake came out. That he shouldn’t be betrayed, that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made.

It was so hard to let him go.

Now I can’t even remember that he was beside me in Paris or London or New York…because, I suppose…he was a ghost or I was never truly allowed to enjoy our time together.

He was tortured by self doubt. Guilt.

Sometime, I wish I could call him and listen to his voice, listen to his loves and losses. How he has evolved.

Then, seconds later, I know that I don’t want to hear anything. That it would still be too painful. Isn’t that absurd?

We are strangers. We are strangers. We will remain forever…strangers.

If I had lived in NYC when I was seeing him things would have been different. We both needed continuity. The goodbyes destroyed me. Every time he said goodbye. I was bereft.

Well, that was then…but even so, just writing about him again…my whole body ached. He was consuming and passionate and never mine to have.

Meanwhile on twitter Roseanne and I have been publicly sharing our philosophies and mutual revulsion of the way things are. Two old people meeting in the virtual town square putting the world back together the way we think it should be.

I like Roseanne.

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