The Latest

Today: National Day of Silence stands in solidarity with all of the young people across the nation participating in the Day of Silence to draw attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. This year's event is in honor of Lawrence King, the 8th grader who was murdered early this year for being gay.

Break the Silence at the new by starting a blog and sharing your experiences with the Day of Silence or anti-lgbt harassment.

Break the silence here:

Greenwashing of the Gays!

Welcome New Englade Blade Readers!

The Boston Pride 2008 theme "Sustaining our Community, Conserving Our World" presents queer activists with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate why environmental justice is important. I applaud the activists who voted for it on the Boston Pride web site.

Though it is a great theme, I worry it could be a reflection of the "grenwashing" of the gay community. We must remember that corporate sponsors of gay events and publications such as Ford, Bank of America, Chevy, Clorox, Pfizer, and Proctor and Gamble are not "green."

Being "green" has become more trendy and popular than we could have ever imagined, even after Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth I don't think anyone saw this coming. In the past few months the magazine shelves have been filled with "green issues." Not to be outdone The Advocate premiered its "green issue" this week. Aside from the color choice the content was far from green. Maybe a little racist (see below), but not "green."

The Advocate's corporate advertisers submitted a bevy of "greenwash." The first ad in the magazine is for a Hybrid Lexus. There is not a peep about corporate destruction of the environment in the Editor's letter. And the first article in the magazine about "green" issues is one that praises Ford motor company for having the largest "green roof" on a building and the company's 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign (I just threw up a little in my mouth because Shell Oil is one of HRC's major corporate funders).

The magazine continues by giving lots of tips, geared towards the wealthy, on how to go "green." Paint with organic paint. Change your light bulbs. Drive a hybrid SUV. Pay for carbon offsets. Even Rufus Wainwright chimes in telling Advocate readers to turn off their electricity for a day.

Then there are the "green warriors" who the Advocate admits were hard to find. Yes, these folks are on the front lines of fighting for environmental justice (a term I couldn't' find in the entire issue). There is a fashion designer, an architect, and an interior designer. Heroes!

Next up, an interview with General Motors praising their "concept" car. (The gays like totally forgot who killed the electric car.)

Finally, on page 48 of the "green issue" the Advocate has an advertisement for itself featuring a photo of a person of color's hand holding a white hand set in a forest. The tagline: "he wanted to show me some exotic places." So there you have it. Buy a hybrid SUV and have sex with an "exotic" brown person and your martini sipping Friends will be "green" with envy!

Now I do my fair share of little "green" things. I use my own cloth bags when I shop, I eat a plant based diet (yes that saves your health, saves money, animals, AND the environment - but you won't hear Al Gore admit that little inconvenient truth), I use energy saving light bulbs, I don't wear leather, and I've asked my employer to green their products in the staff kitchen. But I'm also realistic about the fact that even if we all do those little things the ocean's plastic garbage bin that is twice the size of Texas will not disappear, and the entire world's environment is doomed unless we get the oil companies and their buddies to stop.

As the gay community jumps on the green trend, it is up to queer activists to expose the scientific truth. We must join hands with our friends at organizations like ACE in Boston - an organization that empowers teens to fight for environmental justice issues such as better public transportation, and no biolabs. We must make our voices heard by first creating coalitions with activists on the front lines, and then by educating others at events like Boston Pride, where corporate Coal Industry investors like Bank of America will likely engage in well-funded "greenwashing" campaigns.

On May 10th (Youth Pride Day) will launch a new social network and publish a green toolkit that you can use to inform yourself and others about environmental justice during this "green" Pride season.

In the Life: Beauty on the Black Market

Exposing Teen Jails

"Erica was 16 when she was sentenced to Columbia after running away, a probation violation of an earlier marijuana conviction.

She admits she was a girl quick to sass her parents, full of anger about the death of a relative that happened around the same time Katrina wrecked her family's Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, home.

Nervously touching a sparkly barrette in her red hair, she cries as she describes how guards forced her legs into tight metal shackles. She said she was cuffed and chained when she ate and used the bathroom -- and was even forced to play soccer that way against other girls." Read more at CNN>

This is why we must radically change our justice system, and we must immediately legalize marijuana.

AIDS Drug Maker Inflates Cost 400% - Wants Documents Sealed

Photo: ACT UP! Protests Abbott's 400% cost increase of AIDS Drug Norvir.

Today my employer Prescription Access Litigation asks:
What is Abbott Trying to Hide?

In December 2003, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) decided to increase the price of its HIV/AIDS drug Norvir (ritonavir) by 400%. PAL member Service Employees International Union Health & Welfare Fund filed a class action lawsuit against Abbott in October 2004, alleging that the price increase violated the antitrust laws.

Norvir is a “protease inhibitor” (PI) that is commonly used as part of AIDS “drug cocktails” (combinations of prescription drugs working together). Norvir is very important because it “boosts” the effects of other PIs taken by HIV/AIDS patients. Abbott, by increasing the cost of Norvir by 400%, effectively forced HIV/AIDS patients to pay significantly more for their life-saving drug regimens. (The Wall Street Journal did an excellent story in Jan. 2007 laying out the history of the price increase, “Inside Abbott’s tactics to protect AIDS drug“)

Abbott faced a firestorm of criticism for this outrageous price increase — there were shareholder resolutions, protests at Abbott headquarters, a boycott by hundreds of physicians, Attorney General investigations, numerous newspaper editorials lambasting the move, etc. But Abbott refused to even consider reducing the price. The only significant challenge to Abbott’s conduct is the lawsuit brought by SEIU Health and Welfare Fund and two patients.

The lawsuit has overcome significant hurdles (the Court denied Abbott’s motion to dismiss and motion for Summary Judgment, and certified the case as a class action), and the trial is scheduled to begin this summer. Abbott has again filed a motion for Summary Judgment. Such motions are filed with the Court after the parties have completed discovery (exchange of documents, depositions of witnesses and experts) but before the trial. Abbott is essentially asking the Judge to rule in its favor, arguing that based on the evidence, there’s no way a reasonable jury could find in favor of the plaintiffs.

Both Abbott and the plaintiffs have filed numerous documents with their Summary Judgment motions, and now Abbott is asking the Court to “seal” many of those documents, i.e. make them not available to the public. The motions and papers concerning Abbott’s request are here, here and here.

Why does Abbott want to keep these documents a secret and out of public view? "

Rainforest Action Network Shuts Down Bank of America

Today. Copley Square, Boston

Members of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) have connected themselves with metal tubes in front of Bank of America at Copley Square to protest the corporations funding of the coal industry which destroys communities. Police are currently breaking them apart.

Bravo! Boston is desperate for more direct action protests!

RAN should jump in the Pride parade this year since the theme is sustaining our world/communities.

Join their facebook group. Join the facebook group.

Thanks to Trevor for sending photos from his fancy schmancy I-phone!

From Their Flyer:
While the world is calling for immediate action to confront climate change reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and end our reliance on dirty coal energy, Bank of America (Boston Pride Corporate Sponsor) is continuing to use your money to invest in the most destructive and polluting industries.

  • responsible for 40% of US greenhouse gasses (2 billion tons/year)
  • largest source of toxic mercury contamination
  • power plants are the leading cause of asthma and lung cancer responsible for over 24,000 death annually
  • Mountaintop removal mining has destroyed over 450 mountains in Appalachia, buried thousands of miles of streams and poisoned water supplies.

Bank of America made headlines with an environmental initiative pledging support for "environmentally sustainable business…. (and) to address global climate change." While hailing themselves as leaders in addressing climate change – CEO Ken Lewis' lofty rhetoric is at odds with his company's track record. This pledge commits less than 2% of their assets to this cause, spread out over the next 10 years. What are they doing with the other 98% of their $1.4 trillion in assets? Raking in record profits from America's fossil fuel addiction.