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Saturday, January 28, 2017

OSU Queer Archives request for my participation

As my low vision blindness, muscle paralysis and weakness has been worsening after a series of small ischemic strokes, I was honored to receive a request from Dr. Bradley Boovy, Oregon State University Assistant Professor in World Languages and Culture (WLC) & Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program (WGSS) (Curriculum Vitae (PDF)) asking for my participation in the effort of the "Oregon State Queer Archives to preserve, share history of LGBT experience on campus" (See press release from OSU News and Research Communications accessed Jan. 28, 3017). Instead of creating a dusty paper archive, used only by historians, they are creatively using modern social networking, including the "Oregon State University Queer Archives - OSQA," Facebook page (accessed Jan. 28, 3017), which is referenced in the press release that calls for a broad partcipation from OSU alumni and staff members.

Bradley Boovy made the request, to me, as a co-director of the OSU Queer Archives and he said both he and Natalia Fernandez, an OSU multicultural librarian, would like to meet with me.

I would love to contribute to this archive, but my fragile health is preventing me from meeting for long, even with close friends and relatives. In fact, a close friend who calls me every day from California to check on me was shocked when I suffered a TIA (transient ischemic attack) stroke while talking to him on the phone because we had talked too long about his blind devotion to President Donald Trump. A few days later, after I sent him an email apologizing to him for yelling at him about Trump, I sent him a link to an essay by the queer blogger Michelangelo Signorile, "Why We Can't Be 'Friends' Any Longer After You Voted For Donald Trump," posted Dec. 13, 2016 that describes how divisive the new President is to many people. (Also see previous blog post Why Trump is queer and loved by many men and women (12/23/16))

As a result, I have suggested a series of short telephone conference calls, for the initial get acquainted with each other purposes, and then, given that these calls may be limited by my muscle paralysis, I am also suggesting that we do a series of written questions and answers. This approach would allow me to work at my currently very slow pace without any issues. I am blessed to still have enough vision and the ability to touch type on a computer thanks to the various accessibility features that I first championed for inclusion in Microsoft operating systems and computers at Hewlett-Packard in the 1980's because my Mother and Grandmother were suffering vision loss at that time.

While neurologists tell me that the only area of my brain that has been affected by my stroke is the visual region, it has become difficult for me to form new memories, even though my long term memories appear to tbe unaffected, but I have lost my ability to visually navigate in even well know spaces, such as my own home or the grocery store. This has affected my ability to recall the physical location of things, and I may need to ask for your forgiveness if I am unable to answer questions that require topographical memory deductions.

One thing that has helped me has been both email and my personal Google searchable blog, because when I lose a newly formed memory, I can often search my digital cloud to refresh my memory. I had a blind research engineer working for me three decades ago, and I never understood how she functioned, but I now I understand the issues she faced with less sophisticated computer tools, which at the time were state-of-the-art HP artificially intelligent computer systems.

In any case, I am honored to have my contribution solicited to the OSU Queer Archive and I hope to figure out a way to do it with you.

Speaking of notes to myself that I can search for later on:

  • Curriculum Vitae: PDF icon boovy_cv.pdf - I wonder if there is a PDF copy of his Ph.D. thesis I could read concerning homophile magazines in 1950's West Germany? I would love to hear more about his theories on the post-war "homophile" publishing
  • "Oregon State Queer Archives to preserve, share history of LGBT experience on campus," OSU News and Research Communications accessed Jan. 28, 3017 SOURCE: Bradley Boovy, 541-737-0023 and Natalia Fernandez - OSU multicultural librarian - The Oregon State Queer Archives, or OSQA, will include documents and materials as well as recorded stories from the OSU and Corvallis LGBT communities. Bradley Boovy, an assistant professor of women, gender and sexuality studies, and Natalia Fernandez, multicultural librarian at OSU, are leading the project. "We envision the archive less as a collection of out-of-date materials that only historians are interested in, and more as a living repository that nourishes the memories and stories of OSU's LGBTQ+ communities for creative engagement and that will potentially help future LGBTQ students navigate life at OSU," Boovy said.
  • "Oregon State University Queer Archives - OSQA," Facebook page accessed Jan. 28, 3017
  • Oregon State University Dr. Susan Shaw - Curriculum Vitae (PDF) - a Professor and leader at OSU of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) - "My background is in religious studies . . . my current research interests are in feminist studies in religion. My most recent book is Reflective Faith: A Theological Toolbox for Women, a book and workbook that make feminist theology and feminist biblical criticism accessible for a general audience. I am also working with a group of feminist scholars to co-edit a two volume anthology of essays on Baptist women. . . I'm also the Director of the School of Language, Culture, and Society which is Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, World Languages, and Cultures, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Our school focuses on issues of global justice, and we've just begun a new minor in social justice studies."

See previous posts:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Medicare affordability calculated using Obamacare standard

Article on HP12C calculator 30th anniversary by Cliff Edwards, 'The Little Calculator That Could, HP's 12C: 30 years and (still) counting,' Businessweek, Sept. 12 - Sept. 18, 2011, p. 42

PHOTO: The HP-12C calculator I used to do the calculation mentioned in my letter below was featured in a 2011 article, on the 30th anniversary of the HP-12C financial calculator, by Cliff Edwards, "The Little Calculator That Could, HP's 12C: 30 years and (still) counting," Businessweek, Sept. 12 - Sept. 18, 2011, p. 42 See previous HP-12C posts HP 12c financial calculator history (6/21/06), HP-12C calculator 30th anniversary in BusinessWeek (9/16/11)

I mentioned that Medicare Part B premiums are rising faster than inflation in my previous letter: Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Why my check will be less," Gazette-Times, Jan. 10, 2017, p.A6, posted Jan. 5, 2017, and my letter drew a response in another letter by Dr. Mike Huntington, M.D., "Single-payer is best option," Gazette-Times, Jan. 17, 2017, p. A6 posted Jan. 16, who is a local single-payer activist that blogs at Mad As Hell Doctors -Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates (See previous posts Medicare premium rises faster than inflation despite 'single payer' method (1/7/17) for a copy of my original letter and also my previous post Calculation of Medicare premiums for Social Security beneficiaries revealed (1/13/17) where I document the actual 2017 premium costs)

Dr. Huntington's criticism, of my letter, included data from an older period of time that showed Medicare costs were not going up faster than inflation. When I calculated the most recent five years, the result confirmed the fact that Medicare Part B premiums have been rising much faster than inflation, just as Businessweek and others have noted, but these costs have been obfuscated by the small Social Security check cost-of-living increase, which limited how much of the increase is seen by each current recipient, but the increases are being seen by new enrollees. It took me awhile to dig up the actual data, based on actual Medicare and Social Security documents, and and after doing the research, I wrote the following letter in response:

The Medicare Part B premium during 2012-2017 rose at an annualized rate of 6 percent ($99.90 to $134) -- a rate greater than the prior 2000-2015 period cited in a Jan. 17 letter by Dr. Mike Huntington, M.D. and much more than the 1.36% Consumer Price Index of inflation rate (from Dec. 2011 CPI of 225.672 to Dec. 2016 CPI of 241.432) as calculated by an HP-12C calculator.

My concern is that this real and rapid rise in Medicare premiums will be politically exploited by Trump's Republican legislators and used as agitprop to dupe Americans into tolerating his "healthcare for all" plan that will likely privatize Medicare and replace Obamacare with "Health Savings Accounts," which primarily provide a tax break only to the healthy and wealthy.

The subsidies for Medicare make it a bargain for us current beneficiaries who worked and paid taxes for it, but in 2017 says some people will pay the full monthly health insurance premiums for Medicare Parts A, B and D of approximately $881, or $10,572 per year.

"Affordable healthcare" is legally defined by Obamacare as being annual health insurance premiums of less than 8.13 percent of "household income."

If you applied this Obamacare affordability standard to Medicare, it would mean the "annual household income" of Medicare enrollees paying the full cost would need to be at least $130,000.

In order to provide healthcare for all, the real question should be, what is the percentage of income that Americans are willing to pay?

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: The real question about health costs," Gazette-Times, Jan. 27, 2017, p. A6 first posted Jan. 23, 2017)

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made single-payer the centerpiece of his plan to save healthcare, but Sanders never explains why single-payer will control the infinite demand for healthcare, other than the usual negotiation reasons. In fact, I have found no article that covers this basic economic issue of how healthcare should be rationed in a fair manner. An overview article "Single-payer healthcare," From Wikipedia accessed Jan. 17, 2017 says, "There are pros and cons to this kind of system. Single-payer health care plan also known as "Medicare for all" is the type of health insurance where a single public agency organizes health care financing, however the actual delivery of care are still left largely in private hands."

The affordability of Medicare is put into perspective by BLS data on median incomes. "Median weekly earnings of the nation's 111.3 million full-time wage and salary workers were $849 in the fourth quarter of 2016 " according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Labor Force Statistics, "Usual Weekly Earnings Summary," For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, January 24, 2017 This weekly amount equals a median annual income of $44,148, which would mean affordable health insurance premiums of 8.13 percent of household income would approximately equal $3,589 or $$299 per month for at least a half of Americans.

The official U.S. Government's tax collection agency page, "Individual Shared Responsibility Provision - Exemptions: Claiming or Reporting," Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 13-Dec-2016 is where I first learned the fact that Obamacare ACA law says you don't have to pay a fine for not having healthcare if the cheapest health care premiums you can get are more than 8.05 percent for 2015 and for 2016 8.13% of your "household income." Of course, this penalty might not be collected in the future because of President Trump's recent Executive Order that asks Federal government officials not to force Obamacare costs on individuals. So far, nobody is sure it this is what he really means.

Finally, an indication of how Obamacare has been dividing both liberals and conservatives is the essay by Seattle alternative newspaper editor and sex columnist, Dan Savage, "Obamacare: Evil. Less Evil. But Still Evil.," posted Jan. 19, 2017, who is a Bernie Sanders supporter, but also gives an example of how people in need are getting nothing from Obamacare. Savage is an unrepentant liberal, but his criticism of Obamacare is very balanced.

See previous posts:

Listed below are links to the sources of information summarized in my letter above:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Anti-gay theocrat worships Trump and promotes sex book on his Christian TV show

Pat Robertson interviews Dr. Keven Dr. Kevin Leman 700 club Jan. 11, 2017

PHOTO: The anti-gay theocrat Rev. Pat Robertson (right) is seen hosting his Jan. 11, 1017 TV program The 700 Club on his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Robertson first worships the new Republican U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and later interviews a Christian book author (left) while showing the cover jacket (lower right inset) for the book by Dr. Kevin Leman, "Have a New Sex Life by Friday: Because Your Marriage Can't Wait until Monday," Revell (January 17, 2017). The electronic program guide and "TV Guide" description provided by CBN for this program says, "After a decade of feeling like outsiders, many on the religious right expect a resurgence in political influence" -- thanks to Donald Trump and his hand-picked U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, because Pence is a favorite of evangelicals according to Robertson. This pitiful political message of "we Christians are victims" has become a favorite one of the religious right as a political slogan to push for the "religious freedom" or "religious liberty" constitutional amendments and laws that would give them the right to discriminate against others based on religious beliefs, such as the right of a public baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.

Amusingly, Robertson expresses his shock that the book's author Leman is the first ever guest on his show to wear shorts (how gay is the implication) and Robertson then, without any censorship, graphically discusses sexual orgasms and geriatric sex issues personally experienced by Robertson and the solutions given in the book.

Ironically, Rev. Pat Robertson is a lifelong member of the Southern Baptist church that for at least the last Century has supported the traditional blue laws in many states that have historically prohibited public displays of affection, outlawed gay sex acts, and censored sex publications, such as "Playboy" magazine.

Robertson started CBN in the early days of free over-the-air broadcast TV and today the "700 Club" is still being aired locally on Eugene's KMTR-TV Channel 16 at 10:00 AM and KLSR-TV Channel 34 at 11:00 AM. The "700 Club" program can also be seen through the most commonly subscribed to bundle of Corvallis Comcast on the cable TV channel Freeform at 10:00 AM weekdays. Freeform is a descendant of a cable TV channel Robertson started in the early days of cable TV before he became a billionaire by selling it to Walt Disney Company in 2001, who renamed it as ABC Family channel, and then later it became the cable TV channel Freeform.

It is significant that the cable TV channel and both of the Eugene TV stations airing the "700 Club" now precede the program with a notice saying the following is paid program that does not necessarily reflect the views of the station's management. In fact, it was just a few decades ago when at least one of these TV stations was owned by a devout Christian who was an early supporter of Robertson's TV ministry and evangelism, which I have personally witnessed to be truly helpful to many down-and-out people in need, but I have also witnessed Robertson harming gay people from his support of laws against their equal rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Robertson previously ran for U.S. President on a theocratic platform that is still supported today by Trump's hand-picked evangelical V.P. Pence, who condemns gay people and wants to reverse much of the progress made by President Obama.

The queer blogger Michelangelo Signorile has written much on the threats to LGBT equality from the new Vice President Mike Pence: Michelangelo Signorile, "The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway," posted Jan. 1, 2017. Also see previous post Why Trump is queer and loved by many men and women (12/23/16) where I discuss and link to another excellent essay by Michelangelo Signorile, "Why We Can't Be 'Friends' Any Longer After You Voted For Donald Trump," posted Dec. 13, 2016 that describes how divisive the new President is to many people.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Calculation of Medicare premiums for Social Security beneficiaries revealed

I sent the below letter to the editor shortly after my first letter was published and I noticed that the Medicare information had been updated online with the new means testing rules, which were created by Congress to "save" Medicare and they are now required by law. In theory, if you make enough money, you will be paying the full cost of the Medicare premium with no subsidy from taxpayers -- it is phased in over a range of income levels. (See my original letter: Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Why my check will be less," Gazette-Times, Jan. 10, 2017, p.A6, posted Jan. 5, 2017 and also see previous post Medicare premium rises faster than inflation despite 'single payer' method (1/1/17)

The HTML web page now has a detailed explanation of how Medicare health insurance premiums for 2017 were calculated for each individual Social Security beneficiary; however, the printed brochure and online PDF file still contain old information.

The Medicare Part A medical insurance can cost up to $413 per month, but nothing if you worked and paid the taxes for it.

The optional Medicare Part B medical insurance typically costs $134 per month, if you enrolled for the first time in 2017, but much less for most people who were previously covered because their increase was limited by the small cost of living increase this year.

However, Part B can cost much as $428.60 per month, based on your 2015 federal tax return income, and infinitely more if you owe a penalty for signing up late.

The optional Medicare Part D drug plan costs are determined by the private providers, but many plans cost less than $40 per month.

It is still unclear who is paying the subsidy for the actual health care costs for each Medicare beneficiary of approximately $11,000 per year.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Here's more on Medicare costs," Gazette-Times, Jan. 13, 2017, p. A6 print edition and first posted online Mon. Jan. 9. 2017 1:00 PM)

This discussion traces back to a previous letter writer's question asking why many Social Security beneficiaries this year did not see any increase in their monthly check, and the short answer is it is because the Medicare health insurance premium went up more than the cost-of-living increase for many people, and Congress legislated that nobody would get an increase bigger than their individual COLA.

Listed below are links to the sources of information summarized in my letter above:

The reason for so much confusion is because the annual letter sent to beneficiaries by Social Security did not explain how the Medicare premium was calculated and I could not find any more information online, at least initially, until right after my first letter was published. Two other letter writers also speculated that the reason for seeing no increase in Social Security checks, despite a 0.3 percent cost-pf-living adjustment was due to it being limited by the rules:

Also, see the new letter by Mike Huntington, M.D.," Letter: Congress could gut health care," posted Jan. 9, 2017 that expresses concern over the repeal of Obamacare, which President Trump says he won't repeal until thye have a replacement in a few years -- a topic for another post.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Medicare premium rises faster than inflation despite 'single payer' method

Below is my reply to two letters to the editor of my local newspaper: one by Robert Hatela, "So, where's the increase?" Gazette-Times, Dec. 30, 2016, p. A6 and the other by Mike Huntington, M.D., "Why Single payer makes sense," Gazette-Times, Dec. 30, 2016, p. A6

Every Social Security beneficiary should have received a long letter in December from the Social Security Administration detailing the calculation of their monthly benefit check, which should answer Robert Hatela's Dec. 30 letter, "So, Where's the Increase?"

In my specific case, my monthly check in 2017 will actually be 40 cents less per month, despite the 0.3 percent cost-of-living-adjustment, because the "Original Medicare" health insurance premium went up 7 percent from $104.90 per month to $112, plus the 40 cents per month increase in a private Medicare Part D drug plan that is also automatically deducted.

Last year, this was not a problem because legislation supported by Democrats stopped any increases in Medicare premiums because the Consumer Price Index showed zero inflation and therefore no cost-of-living adjustment was added to Social Security checks.

Ironically, Hatela's letter was printed on the same page as a letter by Dr. Mike Huntington, M.D. that advocates a "single payer" solution to lower health insurance costs.

However, Medicare is a "single payer" system and it is experiencing premium increases that are many times the overall rate of inflation, primarily due to inelastic demand for heroic end-of-life medical care that is costing more than a million dollars per person according to a "Bloomberg BusinessWeek" article.

"Single payer" is a politically correct and polite euphemism for "rationing," which is the only fair economic solution to the inelastic demand for healthcare.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Why my check will be less," Gazette-Times, Jan. 10, 2017, p.A6, posted Jan. 5, 2017)

Also, see the previous letter by Mike Huntington, M.D.,"Letter: Health care system is flawed," posted Sep. 9, 2016 who is a local doctor that has written a series of opinion pieces supporting a "single payer" system as a solution to health care costs.

Health Savings Accounts are another proposal by some Republicans, probably because HSAs help those who can save money in a tax-deferred account. (See previous post Oregon Obamacare final rates and Republican's Health Savings Accounts proposal is not insurance (12/19/16))

When I wrote the letter above, I debated whether to mention the legislation supported by Democrats that prevents the Medicare premium increase being greater than the Social Security cost of living increase, but I am glad I said it because a notoriously anti-Democrat letter writer blamed this situation on "what happens when you elect Democrats. The Government giveth, the Government taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Government." The letter writer also refers to the 0.3 percent Social Security cost of living increase and says, ". . . the government is raising your Part B premium by that entire amount. In your case, that's about $4.00 per month, in mine, roughly $6.00. . ." (Quoted from John Brenan, "Letter: Where the increase went," posted Jan. 5, 2017)

My increase in the Medicare Part D premium was 40 cents and the Medicare monthly premium was $7.10, instead of the $6.00 and $4.00 per month increases mentioned in the other two letters to the editor. This made me curious and I have been unable to find out directly from the Social Security Administration what is the theoretical maximum amount that the Medicare premiums and Part D premiums could be raised this year and if any of these annual increases will accumulate to be later deducted in future years, assuming there is a large enough increase in a person's check due to the cost-of-living adjustment. Clearly, the calculation of what had been a simple number has become very complicated and I bet it could lead to some unexpected corner cases.

When I wrote the letter, I knew that the calculation of deductions from the monthly cost-of-living adjustment included multiple lines, including voluntary withholding deductions, but I had not yet calculated that the cost of living adjustment stated in the letter as being 0.3 percent was actually 0.3097866 (as calculated to 7 digits of precision on an HP-12C calculator) and if the Social security Administration's computer programs used the typical floating-point arithmetic software, then I believe it would be unlikely the numbers were calculated to more than 7 digits of accuracy, which given the small increases, it could mean that the rounding algorithm they used could be significant and if these errors accumulate as deferred increases, then I wonder how SSA will calculate it in the future so that there are no unintended consequences.

Also, it was never my intention to brag about the size of my Social Security check, which the original amount was determined by a complicated formula incorporating how much I actually paid in Social Security taxes over decades -- generally, the more you make the more you pay and therefore the more you will get in Social Security payments, but this is true only up to a certain capped level -- and then the Social Security check amount is increased each year by the cost-of-living adjustment determined by the Consumer Price Index. Given all of these variables, I was not worried that anyone would be able to back calculate my monthly benefit amount, which I think is still true given rounding errors and the many optional deductions one can make from the check. However, after I wrote the letter, it occurred to me that my Medicare premium increase of $7.10 can be back calculated from figures in my letter, and this is an indication that my cost-of-living adjustment was greater than the other two letter writers who therefore must have a smaller check. After realizing this possibility, I was relieved to still be unable to back calculate the actual amount, even when using 12 digits of precision, due to the dynamic range of the numbers involved and other deduction factors that couldn't be deduced from my letter.

What I find more interesting is that these letters confirm that many Social Security recipients are now having a different amount being deducted for the Original Medicare premiums, which wasn't the case just a few years ago -- the premium amount was a fixed dollar amount and easily available because it was printed in the book mailed to recipients annually and it was also posted online. This change must have really complicated the Social Security's computer programs, which is probably what is limiting how much they can easily say in a letter or explain to people over the phone. Republicans are clearly exploiting this situation by blaming Democrats, who have failed to symmetrically use it as agitprop against Republicans who are using it to agitate people so that they will be willing to cut Social Security benefits as Republicans want to do.

Some links of interest:

My local newspaper ran another article on health care costs by Tony Pugh, McClatchy Washington Bureua (TNS), "Helath care spending up 5.8% to $10K per person," Albany Democrat Herald / Corvallis Gazette-Times, Sun. Dec. 4, 2016, p. B11 online as "Obama's health care law is behind 2nd straight year of faster rise in medical spending," posted Dec. 2, 2106, which says, "Public and private spending for U.S. health care increased to $3.2 trillion in 2015 or nearly $10,000 per person, according to a government report released Friday. . . The 5.8 percent spending increase last year is up from a 5.3-percent hike in 2014. Both increases followed five straight years of historically slower growth from 2009 to 2013. . ."

After reading this article nearly a month ago, I noted that during 2015 I paid monthly Medicare premiums of $104.90 for Part B and $30 for an optional Part D drug plan, and nothing for Part A, as do most retirees entitled to the premium-free "Original Medicare Plan."

However, the actual cost of Medicare is much more because the total Medicare spending was $11,900 per recipient during 2015 (as calculated from information in the above Dec. 4 G-T article, "Health care spending up 5.8% to $10K per person." -- Medicare spending for 2015 of $646.2 billion divided by 54.3 million enrolled in Medicare.)

Prior to Obamacare the actual cost of Medicare, for people who must pay the full premium amount, was disclosed in the annual notice mailed to Medicare recipients, but I couldn't find more recent numbers with any online search. If I recall correctly, ten years ago it was at least $400 per month, and I am sure it is much more than that now.

For comparison purposes, I showed these annual health care costs, of at least $10K per person, to my 60-years-old spouse who faces an annual health insurance premium of at least $6,204 next year because the insurance provider left the Oregon market and my retirement income is too much to receive any Obamacare subsidy on our joint tax return.

No matter which way you cut it, health care costs are rapidly reaching the point where most people will be unwilling or unable to pay for it. This is the "death spiral of Obamacare" that Republicans say is going to happen, and Democrats say won't happen because the Affordable Care Act has a carrot (government subsidies will keep most people's costs low) and a stick (uninsured will be forced pay for healthcare of others). In fact, the way the ACA is written, when the cost of health insurance is more than 8.13 percent of your income, you will be exempt from this "Shared Responsibility Payment." Neither Party may be right in how this hakes out!

Gay bar culture replaced by smart phone apps and social media

Cover of 'The Gay Insider USA' by John Francis Hunter

A gay guide book The Gay Insider USA was sold in bookstores across America in 1972. It included a national listing of gay bars and State laws against homosexual behavior, such as a Eugene gay bar and the law against sodomy in Oregon. Consistent with societal homophobia at that time, the author's name listed on the cover, John Francis Hunter, was a pseudonym and it isn't until page 60 that the author revealed his real name, John Paul Hudson, perhaps to be more true to the 1970's gay liberationist's goal of being out of the closet. (See previous post The Gay Insider USA 1972 (9/15/06))

The Gay Insider USA pages 546-547 listing gay bars, etc. in 1972 Eugene, Portland, and Salem, Oregon

PHOTO: (click photo to enlarge) Oregon State University, located in the small college town of Corvallis, Oregon has never been large enough to support a dedicated gay bar, but the slightly larger college town south of it, Eugene, Oregon, home of the University of Oregon, had a gay bar early as 1972 that was named the Riviera Room at 39 W. 10th, which was listed on pages 546-547 of a popular guide book by by John Francis Hunter, "The Gay Insider USA," Stonehill 1972. (See previous posts The Gay Insider USA 1972 (9/15/06) and New gay bar mentioned on Eugene TV news station (7/20/15)

A New York City gay newspaper story covered the closing of a NYC gay bar and one writer commented:

" A spate of articles has appeared lately on the subject of gay bars shutting down, and strangely, they all conclude that it's A Good Thing. In the last two weeks, the Chicago Tribune, The Economist, and the website The Good Men Project have all published articles that examine the trend . . .

It takes a few paragraphs to get there, but the Trib finally gets to the fundamental reason that gay bars are disappearing: "'It all changed with smartphones,' LaFary said, referring to the widely held theory that mobile dating apps like Grindr, by facilitating meetups online, helped render bars unnecessary. . ."

(Quoted from Ed Sikov, "A Gay Walks into a Bar -- Ow!" posted January 5, 2017)

I vividly recall going to my first gay bar in Downtown Minneapolis shortly after reading about the 1969 Stonewall riot in the NYC Village Voice newspaper my mother subscribed to, which taught me that gay bars were where gay people met to socialize and hookup. I was directed to a bar named "Suttons" by a friendly dormitory Resident Assistant who offered to take me there. The RA patiently explained to me the social customs and I remember being terrified by all of the drunken "old men" lecherously leering at me, who I later learned viewed me as being a young "twink" or "chicken" who was probably a virgin and not of the legal age required to be in a bar.

Personally, I was never turned on by the gay bar scene, even though I admit to being curious when I lived in San Francisco, and so when I moved to Corvallis, Oregon State University, and learned that the nearest gay bars were more than an hour drive away, I was glad to become part of creating an alternative place to meet other gay people on campus in the OSU Women's Center, which had been created in 1972. Likewise, I soon learned how Corvallis was like many small towns where all types of people, loggers, farmers, college professors, etc., intermixed in all of the local social gathering spots, something that is apparently happening everywhere today according to Gay City News. For example, the Corvallis bar named "Squirrels" that was open in the 1970's and it is still in business today, was popular with both straight and gay students.

Also, I was never into cruising public parks or tearooms to hook up for sex. See my previous posts Student paper features 'cruising spot' at Oregon State University (4/20/12) and OSU gay lifestyles 1984 (7/232/06) that quotes an OSU student in 1984 saying that one particular gay guide, in years past, listed only two places where gay people could meet other gays in Corvallis, and those, Eddie says, were "two of the bathrooms on campus." [Note: Besides the bushes along the then overgrown riverfront, the sixth floor library bathroom and two MU bathrooms (MU Ballroom and 3rd floor) were both frequented by "gay cruisers." These toilet rooms were known as "tearooms" (or t-rooms) and they were documented by the sociologist Laud Humphreys in his scholarly book titled, "Tearoom Trade" (1970).

Gay bars, tearooms and public parks might not be used as much to hookup by gay men today, except for gay men who have a fetish for these types of places or who don't own a smartphone, and this might be a "good thing" or a "sign of progress" for gay men, but it raises some new sociological questions for a young researcher at OSU: What are the gay social customs in smartphone apps and on social media? Are their gay ghettos online today that have similar social issues that gay bars and tearooms had in the past, or have gay apps and social media created some new social issues for gay men? These questions are just off the top of my mind and I will leave it to a young OSU student to research it and formulate a better set of questions and answers.