Monday, September 27, 2010

Statement of Solidarity with Activists Raided and Subpoenaed on 9/24/10

Below is a solidarity statement crafted by some folks from Minneapolis in response to the FBI raids. Information about signing on to the statement is included. Please distribute widely.

Statement of Solidarity with Activists Raided and Subpoenaed on 9/24/10

The raids and grand jury subpoeanas against antiwar and international solidarity activists on the morning of Friday, September 24, 2010 are not just an attack on particular activists, but on our movements for social justice as a whole. With a united voice, we condemn this repression; we demand the federal government cease its investigation and withdraw the subpoenas immediately; and we vow to continue our work for true justice.

We reject the allegation that the government's investigation into our movements is based on "material support for terrorism" in any form. This allegation is particularly ludicrous considering the terror tactics the U.S. government engages in on a daily basis, both globally and domestically. Aimed against valued members of our community, the raids against activists on Friday morning were particularly offensive to us. However, we recognize that they are unexceptional instances of repression when compared to the daily crimes against humanity carried out by U.S. imperialism.

We refuse to let the accusations of a notoriously untruthful, repressive government divide us in any way. Because an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, we resolve to set any ideological or other political differences aside and respond in solidarity with one another. Our struggle will continue.


(All organizational affiliations listed are for identification purposes only unless otherwise noted)

Adam Briesemeister
Adam Greeley
Alicia Ronney
Amy Selvins, AFSCME 3800
Andrea Palumbo
Andrew Carhart, AFSCME 3800
Andrew Somers, Students for a Democratic Society
Angel Buechner, Welfare Rights Committee
Angella Khan, Welfare Rights Committee
Anne Benson
Bill Sorem
Brandom Madsen, Socialist Alternative
Brett Hoven, UAW 879, Socialist Alternative
Brian Payne
Bruce Berry, Vets for Peace
Bryan Berry, Junkyard Empire
Bryan Jones
Catherine Salonek, Socialist Alternative
Chante Wolf
Charlene Wilford, Welfare Rights Committee
Charles Underwood
Christopher Clauson
Christopher R. Cox, Junkyard Empire
Chuck Turchick
Cian Prendiville, Socialist Party--Ireland
Coleen Rowley
Colleen McGilp, Women Against Military Madness
Communities United Against Police Brutality (organization)
Cynthia Clark
Dan DiMaggio, Socialist Alternative
Danny King, Welfare Rights Committee
Darryl Robinson, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Dave Bicking, Green Party
David Keuhl, Anti-War Committee
David Riehle, United Transportation Union
Deb Konechne, Welfare Rights Committee
Deborah Howze, Welfare Rights Committee
Dori Ullman, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Doug McGilp, IBT--Retired
Earl Balfour, Mayday Books
Earth Warriors are OK! (organization)
Elizabeth Raasch-Gilman, RNC 8 Defense Committee
Eric J. Angell, Our World in Depth
Erik Zakis
Eryn Trimmer, RNC8
Garrett Fitzgerald, RNC 8
Gary North
Gaylyn Bicking
Greg Gibbs
Hallie Wallace
Heather Haymond
Jaime Hokanson, RNC 8 Defense Committee
Jane Franklin, Twin Cities Indymedia
Janelle Colway, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Janet Nye, Green Party
Jean Heberle, Women Against Military Madness
Jennie Eisert, Anti-War Committee
Jim McGuire, Industrial Workers of the World
Joan Feakins
Joann Gonzalez, Welfare Rights Committee
Joanne Schubert
John Everett Till
John J. Braun, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Pax Christi USA
John Kolstad
Joyce Wallace, Women Against Military Madness
June C. Conner, Welfare Rights Committee
Karen Redleaf, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network--Twin Cities, Our World in Depth
Karthik Ramanathan, Minnesota Cuba Committee
Katie Molm
Katrina Plotz, Anti-War Committee
Kieran F. Knutson, Industrial Workers of the World
Kimberly A. DeFranco, Welfare Rights Committee
Kira Downey
Kristen Keuhl
Kurt Seaberg
Linda Leighton, IPAC, SEIU 284, Industrial Workers of the World--Twin Cities
Linden Gawboy, Welfare Rights Committee
Lucas de Gracia
Luce Guillén-Givins, RNC8
Marie Braun, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, WAMM
Max Specktor, RNC 8
Melinda McGowan
Melissa Hill, Twin Cities Indymedia
Mia Overly, Univ. of Minn. Students for a Democratic Society
Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Michelle Mandeville
Mickey Patterson, Women Against Military Madness
Minneapolis Autonomous Radical Space (organization)
MK Davis
Monica Bicking, RNC8
Nicole Duxbury
Phil Grove
Phillip Lickteig
Phyllis Walker
Polly Kellogg, Professor, St. Cloud State University
Rachel E.B. Lang, National Lawyers Guild--Minnesota Chapter
Rebecca Zaremba
Riva Garcia
RNC 8 Defense Committee (organization)
Robert Heberle, Veterans for Peace
Roger W. Cuthbertson
Roshaun White, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Sandra K. Bandli
Scott & Carrie Support Committee (organization)
Socialist Alternative (organization)
Stephen Abraham
Sue Ann Martinson, Women Against Military Madness
Susan Kolstad
Susanne Waldorf
Suzanne Linton, Green Party of Minnesota
Theodros Shibabaw, Socialist Alternative
Thomas Dooley, Mayday Books, Veterans for Peace
Timmy Ramone, Usual Suspects
Tom Schumacher, Boneshaker Books
Tonia Secor
Treana Mayer
Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative
Virginia Amy Weldon, Welfare Rights Committee
W. Brandon Lacy Campos, My Feet Only Walk Forward
Welfare Rights Committee (organization)

If you would like to add your name and/or organization to this list, please email

We Shall Not Be Moved

On 9/24/2010 the homes of several of my friends in Minneapolis were raided by the FBI. My friends have been subpoenaed and ordered to appear before a Grand Jury on charges of providing material support to terrorist groups in Palestine and Colombia. The same happened to activists in Chicago and in other parts of the country.

This election year ploy to "look tough" by law enforcement and federal agencies is nothing more than an intimidation tactic in the long tradition of state and federal sponsored anti-justice organizing (reaching back to anti-farm workers organizing in the 18th century through anti-slavery and anti-suffrage work, right up to anti-union, civil rights, and the peace and justice organizing of today). Never have the state or federal government been allies to peace and justice work of whatever stripe, nor have those entities ever been more than reactionary to organizing for liberation, workers rights, fundamental human rights, or any other economic, peace, or justice work of, for, and by the people (no matter what the Declaration and the Constitution may declare). This is simply another, predictable, carry forward of a long history of COINTELPRO type programs aimed at destabilizing the forces for truth, peace and justice in this country (and around the world for that matter).

And let's be clear, it is no coincidence that during this time of political and economic instability (to state the obvious...the two go hand in hand), the time and elements are ripe for a coalition movement to challenge the underpinnings of the capitalist corporate state. The Tea Party movement, no matter how misguided, is one example of every day folks that are (sadly) trying to reinforce the corporate values of the system, which the system may not love but tolerates since it does not fundamentally challenge the base structure of power. But the government and those that benefit from the status quo are deathly afraid that the Left will use this strategic opportunity to call BULLSHIT on the continuing vicious corporate political cycle that creates Great Depressions and Great Recessions, Oil Crises, and Housing Crises, Health Care Crisis, and double digit unemployment.

And so, staying true to form, the government has decided that the best defense is a good offense.


We see ourselves in solidarity with the liberation struggles of people without regard to man made, created, and colonial borders. We see ourselves in solidarity with women, people of color, queer folks, differently abled communities, working people, the working poor, developing nations and First Nation's Peoples. We see ourselves as true democrats, that believe in the empowered right of each person to participate in creating the structures and avenues for sharing power in a manner that respects the individual but sustains the communal. We reject corporate personhood and corporate democracy and corporatism that is ripping apart the heart of America and the world. We reject bailouts for those without need. We demand a fundamental right to free education, free health care, and freedom from the shackles of the corporate cycle which demands our labor while maintaining our poverty. We demand justice, and no invasions of our homes or intimidation of our friends, family, allies, or community is going to deter us from our work, our cause, and our liberation.

It's a damn shame when photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Malcolm X are taken as proof of material support for terrorism.

We are not the terrorists, we do not participate in unjust attacks on our people, but the government, through these raids, has demonstrated that it does not share our principles. It has more in common with Al-Qaeda than it does with We the People.

Shame on you FBI. Shame on you Department of Justice, and shame on you Barack Obama.

We shall NOT be moved.

And so I call on each of you that believes in justice, that believes in peace, that believes that you have the right to live free from intimidation and fear from the government that is supposed to represent not repress you, to lift your voices against this injustice. Pick up your phone and call the FBI, call the Department of Justice, call the White House, and then call your Mama, your sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, your neighbors, your teachers, your students, random numbers out of the damn phone book and tell them about this injustice. Raise the cry and ask people to set aside their strategic differences and embrace their fundamental realities as peace and justice organizers. Trust, it doesn't matter if you are a progressive Democrat or a member of the Socialist Party, if you are to the left of Bill Clinton, then these attacks were aimed directly at you, at anyone that thinks like you, at anyone that would dare suggest that we live in an imperfect world with flawed values and that the answers and responses of the government are aimed only at ameliorating and not eliminating the root causes of why we find ourselves in this economic crisis. We are in a spiritual crisis, in a freedom crisis, in a justice crisis, and instead of reaching out to lift us up, the government has demonstrated that all it cares about is keeping us down, in our places, as cogs in the wheel of a broken system that doesn't work, doesn't serve, and doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything but the dollar.

Last time I checked the dollar didn't eat, breathe, sleep, make love, have children, cry, laugh or starve. The dollar doesn't go homeless or get sick. It doesn't die from neglect.

People do. Paper doesn't.

I stand with all those that were raided and intimidated on 9/24/2010. I choose people. I choose justice.

Friday, September 24, 2010

FBI Raids Activists Homes Across the United States

This afternoon, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war and solidarity activists across the country, including the homes of three personal friends of mine: Steff Yorek, Jess Sundin and Meredith Aby. For nearly a decade, I worked with Steff, Jess, and Meredith either directly through the Anti-War Committee in Minneapolis or through solidarity work around queer liberation, the Puerto Rican independence movement, and efforts to halt the march towards war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These are women that I love and respect. I also know that they have done their work and organizing with integrity and respect. These raids are an election year ploy, and must be denounced by folks that believe in justice and the right to organize.

Statement from Fight Back News below. Also see coverage from Star Tribune, MPR.

Activists Denounce FBI Raids on Anti-war and Solidarity Activists Homes

Subpoenas, Searches, and FBI visits carried out in cities across the country
By Staff | September 24, 2010

We denounce the Federal Bureau of Investigation harassment of anti-war and solidarity activists in several states across the country. The FBI began turning over six houses in Chicago and Minneapolis this morning, Friday, October 24, 2010, at 8:00 am central time. The FBI handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to about a dozen activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. They also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina.

"The government hopes to use a grand jury to frame up activists. The goal of these raids is to harass and try to intimidate the movement against U.S. wars and occupations, and those who oppose U.S. support for repressive regimes," said Colombia solidarity activist Tom Burke, one of those handed a subpoena by the FBI. "They are designed to suppress dissent and free speech, to divide the peace movement, and to pave the way for more U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Latin America."

This suppression of democratic rights is aimed towards those who dedicate much of their time and energy to supporting the struggles of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples against U.S. funded occupation and war. The activists are involved with well-known anti-war groups including many of the leaders of the huge protest against the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN in September 2008. The FBI agents emphasized that the grand jury was going to investigate the activists for possible terrorism charges. This is a U.S. government attempt to silence those who support resistance to oppression in the Middle East and Latin America.

The activists involved have done nothing wrong and are refusing to be pulled into conversations with the FBI about their political views or organizing against war and occupation. The activists are involved with many groups, including: the Palestine Solidarity Group, Students for a Democratic Society, the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Colombia Action Network, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera (a Colombian Political Prisoner).
Steff Yorek, a long-time antiwar activist and one of the activists whose homes was searched, called the raids “An outrageous fishing expedition.”

We urge all progressive activists to show solidarity with those individuals targeted by the U.S. Government. Activists have the right not to speak with the FBI and are encouraged to politely refuse, just say “No”.
Please contact or if you would like to provide support to the targeted activists.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two Year Anniversary of Cousin Jim's Death

Two years ago today, my cousin and friend Jim Wakefield left his journey in this world for another one. He was 28 years old.

Jim was an amazing human being. He was a social justice organizer working with new immigrant communities in Chicago. He'd lived, worked, and taught in West Africa and Korea. He was funny, brilliant, and loving. He is the kind of person that this world craves.

Like all humans he had his faults. He smoked too much, and every time I would see him I would tell him that his teeth were as ashy as my feet (which is pretty damn bad). When he taught me how to ride a back when I was seven, we were at our Grandma's house, and he neglected to tell me how to stop. Thank God the garage stepped in and showed me how to stop the hard way. His ex-girlfriend stole a t-shirt that I'd left at my cousin's parent's home when I was visiting during college. She took it to France and brought it back to me with a cigarette hole in it (damn those French! It's Freedom Fries from now on), and since I would never have known Allie...I blame Jim for her Francophone ways. But other than those foibles, my cousin was pretty damn cool (though, like most of the straight men in my family...I always wanted him to consider something other than a raggedy ass pair of jeans an and old stained white-ish t-shirt as daily wear).

Today, I am remembering the awesome human being that Jim was. From the time when we were all too damn young and Jim's older brother danced around our grandparent's hunting trailer with nothing on but some tube socks and an attitude and danced around singing, "Babies are made when the man puts the penis into the vagina," to drunken antics we shared at my cousin Dawn Michelle's wedding when Dawn asked my Mom to go commando on my Aunt Joanne's drunk and lecherous boyfriend...Jim figures prominently in some of the best times of my life.

I love you, Jim. I miss you, Jim. Say hi Grandpa for me, and save me a spot, k? I'll see you one day (but not too soon, I hope...and if you know something more than I do...keep it to yourself. Cheeky bastard!).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Interview with a Musical Genius: Tori Fixx

In 2004, I was a featured performer at PeaceOut East the International LGBT Hip-Hop Festival in New York City. I was one of two folks from Minneapolis at the festival; the other individual was Tori Fixx.

I was blown away by his performance during the festival, and I thought it was hilarious that I had never met him in Minneapolis. In fact, it would be another three years before our paths crossed again. In 2007, I started hanging out with some fantastic human beings in the Twin Cities. I ended up playing softball with these peeps (SLAMMERS, YOU KNOW!) and volleyball. My life, for two years, was built around these amazing humans, and at the center of this community was the artist known as Tori Fixx aka DJ Naughty Boyy aka Lar'Isha Mae aka my friend Larry.

It is my honor and pleasure to share with you an interview with Tori Fixx. Also, DOWNLOAD ALL OF HIS MUSIC! I am currently listening to three of his newest tracks, and I am bouncin' in my chair like a drag queen in Atlanta during Freak Nik. His music IS the definition of HOTNESS!

I love you Isha.

Tori Fixx Bio

One of the pioneers of what is now called “out hip hop”; Rap, funk and R&B artist and one-time personal DJ for Prince - Tori Fixx is the Timbaland of out hip hop. The Minneapolis based Recording Artist, Producer, DJ; Vocalist & Emcee has been heralded as the “most ready for prime time” by music critic Ernest Hardy (Vibe, Rolling Stone) in the nationwide publication, The Advocate and he has appeared on The Tyra Banks Show, and CNN’s Paula Zahn Now show.

1.. The first time I met you was in 1994 at PeaceOut East, the queer hip-hop festival (which was funny because we were both living in Minneapolis, and I met you in NYC). Talk to me about that experience, what was it like to be around other out and proud LGBT hip-hop artists?

Not to quote Paris Hilton, but that was a HUGE weekend for me. For all of us, actually. Not only were there a bunch of out hip-hop artists and a massive concert weekend (by our standards) but we were filming a documentary that eventually became "Pick Up the Mic". I cannot explain how high I was that weekend, from the energy and love that was all around. Not really that "kum-by-ya" type of love but you could feel the power of the entire movement. We were all there for (and unified through) one purpose, Out Hip-Hop and to be amongst so much talent is indeed a Blessing. Even more so, in being an artist who's allowed to "be who I am" and still be allowed to take the stage and obtain the utmost respect is something that I'll never tire of and this happens everytime I'm at a function like Peace Out East.

2. How did you come up with the identity of Tori Fixx? Why Tori and not Larry?

It's a spiritual thing, really. Larry is like the "home base" for so many different talents and in the beginning of my career I found it difficult for people to accept one person utilizing so many of their talents all at once. For instance I'm a Dj, Producer, Remixer and Recording artist who makes House, Dance, Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, New Age, and Movie Score music and that just doesn't sit right with people so one has to divide it all up. It just so happend that Tori Fixx "found me" after a battle with suicide many moons ago. I survived, thankfully but in being given a chance at life again I wanted to start over and do it right and eventually Tori Fixx was born as an outspoken hip-hop/activist who was both a person of color and openly gay. Plus it just had a nice ring to it. LOL.

3. Like many of the people that love you, I was transfixed to the television set the day that you were on the Tyra Banks Show. What was it like to have such a mainstream figure as Tyra do a show about homo-hop? Did that appearance have any impact on your career? Did it have any impact on the way that the general public thinks about hip-hop and R&B?

The taping of that show was great. It was one of those moments where I "just know" that this is the life for me. Tyra was so fierce. Plus she loves her gays. That first show was a "good start" but I think we actually needed an entire show and she even said so herself. I really felt like we had a short time to try and convince the world that we exist. It's been helpful with the career this far, but unfortunately more is needed. I'm still wishing for another show to come along (like Ellen) and pick up where that left off. Maybe get some performances in there as well. THAT would really let people know that the Out Hip-Hop community and music genre is ALIVE AND WELL......and it's just as HOT as anything on the radio, today.

4. You are a proud (and pretty) black man. How has your music been received in the black community?

It's been received pretty well, thus far but I really want to penetrate the community further. No, I'm not on the radio next to Beyonce. I don't have Beyonce budgets for things like fierce videos and other marketing so that means I have to do all that I can to try and get the attention of DJ's and potential fans and consumers alike. Right now all I care about is getting the music to the people, especially glbt people of color because this music that I make is truly FOR US and I'm trying to go every route possible just to get the music and the name further into the community and all around the world.

5. Your music exudes a sexuality and sensuality that is palpable...sometimes I listen to "Good Morn'ting," and think about the twins that were in the video and have to have some private does your sexuality inform your music?

OMG. Thank you. I've always wanted to know if I could turn someone on with my music. My sexuality is a major part of my life and my life informs all of my musical creations so you're going to get it all. I can't help it. Sometimes I write things and later on go, "oooooh did I write that? Ooops!" I usually always write a song starting with the music and then I'll just play the instrumental for awhile until the lyrics come to me and that's how I get something that turns into "Good Morn'ting".

6. Finally, if people want to get them a piece of Tori Fixx or DJ Naughty Boyy (your DJ persona), where can they get some of you? Do you have any tours coming up? New albums coming out? Space for new mens in your life? Spill the T.

There is still space for a man in my life and if you know of someone in need of a good piece of chocolate in their life please send them my way. For better or worse they make for really great songwriting. LOL. As for the music.....umm, well I have about 4 projects in the works right now, maybe a few more. I just finished producing a NYC native named Jesse O. His CD Love & Go Crazy can be found on iTunes, also Shunda K (of Yo Majesty) is about to drop her new album featuring a handful of T. Fixx produced tracks. There's 2 Tori Fixx solo records in the making, and two duet projects as well. One of the projects is a group called LGTFX and its myself and another New York emcee named Lester Greene doing some serious out Hip-Hop/Electro-dance realness and we've been working on it for the past year and it's pretty much done now. Yet there's still MORE to come but I won't try and tell it all here just visit both of my websites ( and and I always encourage everyone to feel free to spread the word.

Thanks again, BLC. Love uuuuuuuuuuuu!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

POETRY: A Birthday Poem for David

Today is David's 46th birthday. If I were a rich man, I would have bought him a gorgeous artist studio on a lake where he could escape to make beautiful things.

I am not a rich man, but I can always write.

Happy Birthday baby. Love you.

A Birthday Poem for David

I love you
Like the morning loves the dawn
Yet slowly
My love rises
Each morning
Like a fresh day
A little brighter
No matter the weather

I love you
Like the sea loves the shore
Kisses it gently
Washes over it
To smooth away worry
To calm it
To change it
Just a little
As the two change
With each other

I love you
Like the Moon loves the night sky
Sometimes silently like the new moon
Sometimes brightly like the full moon
Never waxing or waning
Like the tide
We push each other
To reach for the stars
To touch the face of heaven

I love you
More than yesterday
Less than tomorrow
Just right for right now
Sometimes it feels like it is too much
But the heart can grow
As much as love can
Getting stronger
Day by day
I love you.

-Brandon Lacy Campos
-September 12, 2010
-New York. NY

Saturday, September 11, 2010

POETRY: Honey Bun

I have a Great Aunt whose name is Edith Daughtery. Folks my age and older call her Aunt Sis. When Aunt Sis' grandson Ryan was born, she would call him Honey Bun, and so he started calling her Honey Bun in return. All of my younger brothers and sisters know Aunt Sis as Honey Bun.

This short woman with a giant's spirit still lives in the same house that is right next door to where the house she grew up in once stood. She still lives, in her mid-80s, by herself in Ronceverte, West Virginia. Ronceverte is the town where my family were slaves. My Dad travels from Charleston to Ronceverte to see her every other weekend, and this spitfire woman still works as a house cleaner, still runs the street like a fast teenage girl, and teaches the children's service at her church.

When I came out of the closet, she shrugged and said to tell her something that she didn't know.

I love my Aunt Sis, and I wrote this poem for her.

Honey Bun

Sweet like honey
She is
Those hills
Are powerful
Green shoulders
Hunched and laughing
Streams course along her
Telling stories
'bout blackberry brandy
Brewed up out back
'long side the white lightning
Fried chicken and chittlin's
Collards green like those hills
Just out the backdoor
The stone wombs
That sheltered Her
That child of 1709
According to the Bill of Sale
African embryo
Artificially inseminated
Across the Middle Passage
Implanted in those Hills
born from a coal mine
And mountain granite
Gave birth to a black bird
Sweet like fresh honey
We shall overcome
As she built a bonfire
To celebrate Brown v Board of Education
Said, "Don't know who burnt down the Negro school."
Hehehe she laughed
"But I do know they wasn't sending my children back."
Black bird said, "I am old and crazy as hell."
She'll not be with us much longer
Daughter of those hills has bone cancer
It doesn't matter cuz she's been to the mountain top
And took us with her
Honey Bun coating our tongues and spirits
With sweet strength
This Black Bird gon' sing a little bit longer
Stronger than those granite hills
Spill stories like rivers of honey
Sometimes bittersweet memories
Of mill slaves marched off to glory
Sweet like honey
She is all we could dream to be
Strong like those hills
Those Greenbrier hills that gave birth
to a blackbird
sweet like honey
sing us home.

-Brandon Lacy Campos
-New York, NY
-September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

iPhone Hacked....Again!

My iPhone was hacked. Again. Over the last five years or so, I have had my computer hacked a number of times and my phone hacked twice. I know exactly who hacked my computer. When I was using and not being up front about my HIV status...someone to whom I had disclosed my status hacked my computer and was sending information out about me to potential hook ups. The cause was noble...though the person doing it was ignoble to the core. I always found his moral superiority suspect since this particular human being had been my number one meth dealer and had no qualms about supplying me (and anyone else with money to pay) with drugs. The irony (and hypocrisy) was something to boggle the mind. Yet, it was what it was, and that time has long past.

About six months ago, my iPhone started doing something peculiar. In addition to having a pass code to unlock an iPhone, there is also an additional pass code to unlock the SIM card. I discovered this by accident once when I was monkeying with the settings on my phone, hit the wrong button, and my SIM card locked itself. The first time your card locks itself, you have to call AT&T to get the factory built in pass code in order to unlock the phone. Once you unlock it the first time, it prompts you to enter a healthy numeric code that you will remember.

Did it. Set the new code. Thought it was the end of the story.

Then, about a month after I'd first changed the code...I turned on my phone one morning to find that the SIM card was locked. Now, normally, the card only locks in response to user input or a failed attempt to access the SIM card. But, I shrugged it off to some random glitch with the phone and entered my pass code.

The code didn't work.

So, I called AT&T and asked them for the code, which they happily provided. I entered the code, the phone unlocked, and I hung up with the good woman at AT&T.

No sooner had I hung up the phone than I looked down and the damn phone's SIM card was locked again. So, I entered in the new SIM code that I had just chosen, and the phone wouldn't open.

How curious.

So I called AT&T again, and the woman gave me the code (which was not the one I had chosen nor the one that she had given me before), and we did the unlock game again. This time she asked me to stay on the phone during the process. The phone unlocked, I set a new pass code, and about a minute later the damn thing locked itself again.

Once again I tried to unlock it with the new pass code that I'd chosen, but no dice. The woman on the phone looked up the SIM code and lo and behold it was another completely different code.

She then informed me that nothing like this had ever happened to her before in her x number of years working at AT&T and specifically with the iPhone. So, due the wonders of modern technology, she executed a three-way call with an Apple iPhone representative. We got a gentleman from the Genius Bar at Apple on the phone and went through the whole process again with exactly the same results.

Dude was dumbfounded. This had never happened to him either. In the meantime, I had done my Inter Webs based research and found out about iPhone hacking. I suggested this as a cause. At first, neither of them really wanted to admit it was a possibility. But after a few more minutes...they both agreed...something shady was going on with my shady in fact...that they paid for me to get a new SIM card, and I almost had to give a pinky swear that I wouldn't tell anyone else about this ever.

Steve Jobs is the Don of the Apple Mafia. If he makes you an offer, and you say no, you end up as a SIM card in an iPad. Just saying.

The point ended up becoming moot about that iPhone when I dropped it in a toilet bowl during a Pride party in June. You can't hack a phone when you can't dial the 0 button. Just saying.

So, in July, I got a brand spanking new iPhone. It has worked flawlessly without any craziness or magic SIM card moments.

That is until today.

Today, I texted David to let him now that I'd seen "Ted on the street."

David texted back, "Who's Ted?"

I responded, "Joe's Boyfriend."

A few moments later, my phone went off with a text alert. I opened up the phone to David's response of "Ah."

Except between my text, "Joe's boyfriend," and David's text of "Ah," there was a text, supposedly from me, that said, "FBI."

Now I promise you that after hitting send on the "Joe's boyfriend," that I clicked the lock button on my phone as I was in a meeting with my boss. No second text did I send. Which means that either Carrie Anne from the Exorcist left the TV and ended up in my iPhone or the motherfucker has been hacked again.

I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do I do I do believe in spooks.

But I also believe in fucked up hackers that need to get the hell up out of my shit.

So, once again, I am faced with a piece of expensive ass technology that has been iRaped by an iHacker that can kiss my iAss.

Oops, did I say that out loud?

Apple likes to pretend that their shit is invulnerable, but last fall a couple was awarded $15,000 because they demonstrated how you could hack an iPhone, without ever seeing or touching the target iPhone, using a glitch in the Safari Browser.

Ladies and gentleman gird up your loins and put a firewall on your iPhones because there are stank biznatches out there that are passive aggressive hacking sons of bitches that like to cause mental drama for fun.

I'm just saying.

Tomorrow me and Lady Betty Ignatious Pennybottom (aka my iPhone) are going to take a little trip to AT&T for a long conversation about iPhone security.

But let ye all be warned....don't buy the hype....don't put anything on your iPhone that you wouldn't mind being broadcast during the middle of the Superbowl like Janet's wardrobe malfunction.

Ye have been warned.

(PS And if the FBI did hack my better have a warrant...and isn't there a crazy preacher in Florida that you should be harassing? I'm just saying.)_

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bareback Sex: Human Need vrs Condoms

I think about sex quite often. Even before testing positive for HIV, I thought about sex, well, almost constantly. Whether it was the politics of sex, teaching my peers about sex positivity, deconstructing sex, looking for sex or having sex, I was (and still am) thinking about the various ways that sex impacts my life and our lives as humans.

As humans as the key part of that statement, as more often than not we attempt, or others attempt, to separate sex from our basic humanity and the fundamental connection that sex provides between two (or more) human beings.

Today, I received an email from a good friend (and super smokin' hot friend) of mine from Minneapolis. He has been positive for two decades, and he is one of the people I know that lives, and fucks, beautifully with HIV. When I have struggled and needed someone to share emotional vomit, angst, shame, or fear around HIV, and particularly being an HIV positive man that refuses to walk away from his sexuality, this friend is the person to whom I have turned.

Today he turned to me. His note to me wasn't about sex per se but was more about at times realizing there are things that he can't do and limitations he has because of being immuno-compromised. I won't go into too many details, but because of his upcoming travel, he won't be able to visit some family because of their geography and the risk of some nasty health complications due to the make up of the natural environment where they live. This triggered for him some personal regret around decisions he made as a young gay man coming up in the 1980s around sex. Those decisions lead to him testing positive.

Please, please please note the realness of his regret. He isn't angry at the person that infected him. He isn't blaming the other. He regrets the decisions HE made around HIS sexual choices in the 1980s. In this age of over information with regards to the risks of unprotected sex, it is down right ludicrous, except in very discrete situations around sexual assault and rape, that an adult that contracts HIV from consensual unprotected sex should place the burden of his or her choice on someone else.

This man has been HIV positive since the mid-80s when the White House wouldn't acknowledge the existence of the HIV virus, there were few prevention programs, and people were dying left and right while also marching in the streets demanding that Congress pay attention (God Bless ACT-UP). He could blame a whole lot of people, particularly our elected officials, and rightfully so. But he doesn't. He is also clear that this, for him, comes up every five years or so...he sees it...holds it...looks at it...and then lets it go.

I wrote back to him this message:

You know you can emotionally upchuck here any old time. We all need to do it. All of us. I used to not do it, and that is why I ended up with these three letters attached to my identity...I didn't know how to externalize the damage and the pain, and so I found other ways to make it go away...temporarily.

And, I believe this with all of my heart, condoms save lives but there is also a biological imperative to feel that basic connection with another person that happens through sex. Because we don't talk about that, because we believe it doesn't exist, because it is shamed as something purely psychological, we don't really teach ourselves, our children, or each other how to make the best decisions concerning when to have that experience that all of us need...and that some of us may never get again or think we never will. It is a loss. We don't talk about that shit either.

Let me be clear. I am talking about having unprotected aka bareback sex in the note that I sent back to him. Because of the fear and shame that was created around HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, because the virus was so virulent and people were dying, and because the evolution of the messaging was so retarded by the lack of information available, the message came out that any sex but sex with a condom under any circumstances unless you are married (meaning a man and a woman) is wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Meanwhile, HIV and STD rates continued to climb, and they are climbing again. Why? Do all of us having a fundamental death wish? Does no one anywhere care about his or her own sexual health? While there is a woeful lack of education in certain quarters over what types of sex can transmit HIV (please note that a study in NC in 2000 of high school students found that 80% of high school students in that abstinence only education state thought that unprotected anal sex was abstinent behavior), the general messaging about how to protect oneself is out there and most folks know the basics of it now.

Let me suggest what others that are smarter and wiser than I am have suggested: in addition to the psychological damage reasons why a human being may disregard their sexual health, there is a psychological need (and a healthy need) to want to physically connect with another human being without any barriers.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, that tells you that sex with a condom is just the same as sex without a condom is telling you a goddamn lie.

But, because it is not PC to talk about unprotected sex openly. Because we don't talk about both the need to connect with someone else without barriers nor how to do it in a healthy way or in a way that reduces risk of contracting HIV or an STD, as a community we walk around, many of us pretending like we are condom commandos and are always safe all of the time, and that is just a comforting lie we allow ourselves so that we can look down, shame, and wag our figures at other people...all the while bending over and taking it raw again and again and again.

And let me be clear, I am not talking just about queer folks here. Very recently, in the last few days, a straight person close to me told me that she is on the pill because the person she is sleeping with hates condoms and won't use them. Now, I have fucked or known one too many of my friends that have taken a supposedly straight man for the pony ride of his life, to even have to talk about why that is not the smartest sexual move. And, also, HIV can be transmitted from penis/vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman. It is less likely, but it does happen. But the assumption that the only risk from unprotected penis/vaginal intercourse is pregnancy is one of the reasons why women of color are the fastest rising population of people being infected with the HIV virus.

Yet, for many of my highly educated straight sisters, having unprotected vaginal intercourse while using chemical contraceptives is so common as to quite often be the norm. These women know all about dudes on the down low. These women know all about high risk transmission rates, yet they still participate, and most of them happily, in straight bareback sex.

I thought we learned long ago that the thing that we do not talk about is usually the thing that is most likely to kill us. There is a reason why the HIV prevention slogan from the 1980s was SILENCE=DEATH.

If HIV infection is the symptom of unprotected sex, then why aren't we having a frank, non-shaming, and healthy discussion about bareback sex? Haven't we learned, and don't I know from personal experience, that by creating shame, risk, and danger about bareback sex, we actually heighten the desire for it in unhealthy ways? In the same way that we drive fast cars, go bungee jumping, and slather ourselves in fish blood and then go diving in a cage in a great white shark spawning ground, the forbidden factor/the danger/the excitement of bareback sex is, in my honest opinion, part of what makes it so appealing to so many people: gay and straight.

Why aren't we talking about the intensely erotic and often deep, if only temporary, connection that occurs from bareback sex. People aren't just having bareback sex because of the riskiness of it. People are having it because humans are biologically/mentally/spiritually designed to have sex.

Please note I am not advocating in any way for people to throw out their condoms and blame it on biology. We are also biologically predisposed to solving problems through physical violence, yet we don't go around whacking people in the head that get on our nerves. If that were the case, I would have the biggest biceps on the East Coast.

Instead of criminalizing people living with HIV (which, btw, does nothing for prevention, disregards personal responsibility for negative people, heaps more shame on people living with HIV, and keeps people from getting tested), instead of pretending that everyone uses condoms, instead of reacting high and mighty when a friend talks openly about bareback sex and then going out and starring in an Xtube video ass up in a sling with cum dripping out of your ass, and instead of denying that there is a need and something that can be truly beautiful about connecting with another human being, consensually, without a condom, why don't we actually talk openly about bareback sex? Why don't we look at new HIV prevention models that focuses on a whole person healthy view of sex that includes risk reduction and strategies for how, when, and under what circumstances to have unprotected sex? How about stripping the fear and shame out of sex education and injecting positive sexuality as the core of sex ed? Condoms are one strategy, and it is a strategy that is not working effectively. We still have idiots that believe that abstinence is the only answer while denying that it doesn't work and in the absence of any kind of education, STI and HIV infection rates among youth continue to rise.

Let's have a revolution in the way we think and talk about sex. Let's have a revolution in the way that we have sex. No one, positive or negative, should have to walk away from bareback sex, nor should it be reserved to straight married couples that are trying to procreate. Nor should we believe that it is only wildly idiotic irresponsible queer men that are having it. What we need to do is talk about sex (thank you Salt-n-Pepa), and talk about it without shame, without guilt, and with a realness that honors our physical and emotional need to connect to one another as part of our fundamental humanity.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

One Liner of the Week Award: Shannon Lacy

Smart-assery, as I believe I have mentioned before, is an inherited trait in the Lacy family. Like storytelling and makin' shine, it is an ancient family tradition.

My little sisters are currently visiting me from Atlanta. Last night, we were chilling in their hotel room in Times Square, watching a random crime show, and I kicked off my flip-flops and stretched out on the bed.

The room went eerily silent.

My sisters then started laughing and asking me why my feet were so messed up and ashy.

Jasmine said, "Ewwww, you look like you been walking around in high heels."

Shannon said, "High heels hell, it looks like you been walking around in concrete bricks."

If she wasn't in the military, I woulda whooped her tail last night.

And that, ladies and gentlenerds is the One Liner of the Week Award.

Friday, September 3, 2010

POZitively Struggling with Sex

Living with HIV is a constant fucking struggle. It's a struggle against yourself and the internal tapes associated with being positive. It is a struggle to deal with stigma perceived or otherwise. It is a struggle to master fear and fear of rejection. It is a struggle to just live your life like any other human being does or gets to do.

I have been trying to do some serious work integrating HIV and acceptance of it into who I am. Yesterday, I taped a video interview talking about that process for Since May, I have been writing for, and I have received some really amazing support and love from other poz folks in the world struggling with the same shit that I am attempting to deal with, and that has been truly a wonderful experience.

But, translating these thoughts, experiences, and feelings into daily actions is sometimes very hard to do.

All of this is complicated by semi-attempts to try and venture back out into the world and enjoy the benefit of being in an open relationship, to make connections with people (sexual and otherwise), to enjoy those possibilities, and to navigate what it means to be a positive individual while doing so.

The paranoia and fear around situations, even ones in which there has been no responsibility to disclose, has me at a spiritual and mental tipping point.

Then, on top of all that, add to the mix that I am a recovering meth addict. One of the loveliest and most fun long term impacts of meth use is a syndrome called PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome), which is basically the fun experience of having, from time to time, bouts of mild paranoia that can come on suddenly. This lovely by product of meth use can last for up to three years after use has stopped.

Hands down the only times that I have experienced PAWS has been when I have been worried about a failure to disclose (whether or not it was necessary to disclose) or some other circumstance where, to use a recent example, where I connected with someone, there wasn't a need to disclose, but he chose not to continue in communication.

Now, for most people, someone not calling you back after having a minor hook up with some heavy petting, would simply mean that it was a one night stand or dude decided after all that he wasn't interested. For me, my mind and spirit immediately jump to a place where he Googled my name, found my blogs, and is now waging a silent war against me for being HIV positive and not telling him. Even knowing when there has been absolutely no risk of transmission, I still end up in this place.

That is some fucked up shit.

And it really doesn't matter. I could hook up with a dude that never asks about my status, doesn't care, and has an entire collection of photos and video tapes of all the men that he has hooked up with and practiced unsafe sex, and I will still feel the responsibility of the world coming down on my shoulders for his choices and mine. I repeat HIS choices and mine.

I need to have my own conspiracy theory show. Because, really, this shit is better than anything on the Spike Channel or Lifetime.

So, being a Virgo and thinking logically, and also never wanting to go through another PAWS experience in my life (I can avoid PAWS experiences...for the most part....I will never be able to avoid poz experiences...that's just my reality), and knowing that most often my PAWS experiences are triggered by hook up situations or even just plain old dating situations where no one has lied to anyone about anything, but I don't know the other person's status, and they don't know mine...I have come to the conclusion that the only way to avoid PAWS situations caused by a poz situation is to make a commitment to only date and/or hook up with other HIV positive guys from now on.

At this point in my journey into integrating my identity as an HIV positive man, I haven't found a way, yet, to bring up casually while negotiating a blow job from a hot guy at a party that I am HIV positive. And since not having found the strength or whatever it takes to disclose in a situation like that or any other random hook up moment, the best thing I can do is avoid them altogether until I can find a way to do so without having a complete and total breakdown.

And walking down the street sober and believing that there is a queer mafia out there watching your every move and judging you or somehow monitoring your computer usage or cloning your cell phone to read your text messages is not worth it. It just really isn't worth it. And, truly, I don't want to end up pushing a cart full of old cat bones up and down 10th Avenue talking to my invisible friend Buttons and singing the Star Spangled Banner every time a car alarm goes off.

Yes people, I am on medication. Zoloft is my bestest friend ever.

It doesn't really matter that this moments are rare. It doesn't matter that 99.8% of the time, I go about my life, eating, shitting, talking, praying, laughing, and loving. One single evening, like tonight, where the issues converge by a chance moment and grow into something so unwieldy, uncomfortable, and avoidable, is so not worth it.

Maybe six months or a year from now, I will have done enough internal work that I can once again open myself up to deeper physical connections with negative folks. Perhaps I will get over whatever it is in my life that will not allow me to see, own, and be responsible for just my actions and not the actions of folks with whom I have connected, but that day is not today.

But I also refuse to walk away from being a sexual being. That is what so many would have us do, stripping an integral part of our humanity away from ourselves or boxing in our choices for us. Also, it is what so many of us living with HIV do to ourselves, denying that we are inherently sexual beings and that having a sex life is critical to being a healthy person.

Dealing with the mental health impacts of meth use is no joke people. Struggling with addiction is no joke people. And living with HIV isn't either.

And, just to answer a question that has been asked by more than one person, "Why/How do you write about some of the things you write about so openly," and the answer is so simple: I am not the only person that is going through this in the world.

We hide anything to do with mental health. We pretend it doesn't exist. We judge and look down on anyone that openly acknowledges that they are living with a mental health diagnosis. I don't have to tell you that addicts are dehumanized (and we won't talk about the fact that 75% of all queer people are either active or recovering addicts or alcoholics). We do the same thing to people living with HIV.

And, because of the work I have done or the way people perceive me or the way I project myself or the education I have or the opportunities I have had, when I talk about my struggles as openly and candidly as I can, it puts a different mental image in peoples heads about who it is that lives and works and even thrives living with addiction, HIV, and mental health diagnosis (temporary or otherwise). It also lets people know that living is work and growing is work and sometimes it is hard work.

So I try to struggle openly. I try to share what I've attempted and how it turned out...whether it is a recipe gone wrong or a date gone wrong. Just like with queer folks, the more of us that are living with HIV, addiction, and mental health diagnosis come out of our closest, the easier it will be for those that come after us to live better, healthier, and less stigmatized lives.