Saturday, June 26, 2004

Senate Ready to Vote on the FMA

The Human Rights Campaign has announced that a vote will take place in the Senate in early July on the Federal Marriage Amendment to the US Constitution. The HRC is asking everyone to please contact their Senators today and ask them to oppose this hateful legislation. Visit the HRC action center to easily email your Senators or to find text for a letter. A little input could make a huge difference in our lives as American citizens.

Personally, I don't think the FMA has much chance of passing, but we cannot be complacent on this issue. We need to send a clear message NOW that this politicially-motivated and Religious-Right pandering homphobic piece of legislation is unacceptable and unAmerican.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Mythic Proportions

"The evil that men do lives after them,/ The good is oft interréd with their bones." So sayeth Marc Anthony in Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar. However, just as President Ronald Reagan dodge the bullet of Tecumseh's Curse, perhaps he has also dodged the Bard's bullet as well.

Perhaps it is the American way to build up our fallen leaders. We certainly seem to enjoy tearing them down while they are alive, but a dead American President tends to be a saint. Even Nixon has been much less maligned after death, while controversy swirls around Clinton and Bush the Second.

I was not out or even aware that I might be gay while Reagan was president. During the 80's I had a huge crush on my high school best friend, but had no idea that meant I was gay. As so we cross path with another friend of Julius Ceasar, Cleopatra, Queen of Denial. In any event, I do not remember much about how he handled anything much less gay issues. Recent editorials concerning Reagan have shown that he didn't really get involved with any gay civil rights issues, mostly because gay civil rights was not a topic of national thought, concern, or debate. It is generally conceeded that he ignored AIDS until almost the end of his presidency, when he made some initial attempts to combat it, although at that point it was too little too late. Many believe that his inaction allowed AIDS to progress much further than if research was carried out sooner.

We'll never know. And although AIDS was primarily a gay issue in the 80's, we all know now that AIDS is a human issue and not the "gay cancer" people believed it was two decades ago. So, I don't have much of an opinion on how Reagan benefitted or hindered gays.

What does bother me, however, is the iconic status that has generally been bestowed upon him. He has become the Man Who Did No Wrong and most notably the Destroyer of Communism. I'm not a fan of the man, but I'm not out to villanize him either. I suspect that years from now we'll find out that, much like Woodrow Wilson, he was incapacitated for much of his second term and Nancy and his advisors ran the government. Alzheimer's, upon initial symptoms, often sets in about five years or less. And he was showing signs during his first half. Still, I'm not interested in that debate currently.

The man is quickly being lost in the myth. Like some Greek hero, he's becoming invincible and a conqueror of giants. Some have called for his face to be added to Mount Rushmore. Others suggested replacing FDR's face on the dime. When Nancy objected, they suggested he share every other dime. These are presidents who formed and gave direction to the country during crucial and unstable times. Reagan, for whatever good he did, was not even president during any particularly delicate time. Sure we had the Cold War going on, and everyone was afraid of Russia, but the country was not going through any true war or upheaval, as was the case with the presidents on these monuments and currency. Class points to Nancy Reagan for nixing the dime idea and for also asking for her husband's image to be striken from a Bush political ad seeking to capitalize on the current groundswell of positive feeling for the departed President.

So let us pay our due respects to the dead, feteing what he accomplished, but tempered by his faults and errors. The Bard also reminds us in Twelfth Night that "some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them." Let us not thrust greatness where it does not fit.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Gay Days

The following comes from a column from the Orlando Sentinel on June 9, 1999. It just made me laugh.

Well, I spent three hours at the big Gay Days bash Saturday at the Magic Kingdom and didn't get hit on once.

Nobody likes older men anymore.

After talking to David Caton of the American Family Association, I expected a San Francisco-style gay parade. In fact, there were more traditional families than there were gays. And all the latter did was mill around, looking hot, eating ice cream, socializing, a few discreetly holding hands. Kind of what we all do at Disney. If not for the red shirts, I doubt anyone would have known it was Gay Days.

But I must say the lesbians were completely out of control.

Two hugged when greeting each other by Cinderella's Castle, and a couple on the ferry boat exchanged a quick peck.

If I had had my camera, I could have snapped off a picture for Dave to put on his Web page. The American Family Association says the event is designed for Disney and gay leaders to acclimate children to the hedonistic homosexual lifestyle.

Well, they did a darned poor job of it. The only thing the kids probably noticed was that the adults were hogging the line at Winnie the Pooh.

Friday, June 18, 2004

This Little Light of Mine

Although you've probably rarely heard of him unless you like watching the cotton-candy hair changes of Jan Crouch on Trinity Broadcasting Nework, Benny Hinn is one of the most prominent modern faith healers. Most sensible people write him off as a sham and modern carpet bagger, and you can even find many Christian websites warning devotees of Hinn's errant teachings.

You can take Hinn about as seriously as you do Pat Robertson. Their predictions are about as accurate. Robertson claimed several years ago that Orlando was about to be devestated by a hurricane. (I believe because said devestation would take place for a reason related to Disney hosting gay days.) You'd think that a fairly safe prediction would have come true by now, but hasn't.

Far better and bolder than this prediction, however is one made by Hinn on December 31, 1989, :

"The Lord also tells me to tell you in the mid 90's, about '94-'95, no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community of America. [audience applauds] But He will not destroy it - with what many minds have thought Him to be, He will destroy it with fire. And many will turn and be saved, and many will rebel and be destroyed."

The prediction is laughable. It's so far-fetched, it's comical. I wish Mitt Romney and some others could see that not even the threat of gay marriage has brought down this fire. Although it's hard to claim victory against such a controversial and fringe element like Hinn, still, Cheers, queers, we're still here!

What is not so laughable is the audience clapping immediately after Hinn says God will destroy homosexuals. Although this happened on the last day of the 80's, it chills me to think that anybody who is supposed to be a follower of Christ would applaud the destruction of a people. (Although one has to wonder if God was going to destroy a particular community: the Castro? South Beach? Palm Springs? And will God be destroying gay Christians too? Or do we only get partially destroyed?)

Maybe I'm forgetting the part where Jesus said to nuke thy neighbor. Relgion doctrine aside, (ideally I should be asking "what, in spite of religious doctrine...") what causes humans to feel so deeply against other humans that they want them eradicated?

Racist thought has been driven underground. It's not socially acceptible to be racist; that's the good part. The bad part is racism is now more covert and insidious. Homophobia is going down the same path. Within the next decade we will likely have full civil marriage. We may have federal employment protection even. But we still have work to do with how people perceive us. We must continue to work to help people understand that being gay means you're like anybody else: different. Not better, not worse, just different. Let this extreme example remind us of the mainstream impact we have left to make.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Reality of the Situation

Fox network canned the upcoming reality show "Seriously Dude I'm Gay" where two straight contestants tried to convince friends and family they were gay for a monetary prize. Reports indicate that thecontestants found their experience "hell[ish]" and a "nightmare." Fox decided to cancel after prescreenings with GLAAD and other groups did not go well.

I am also glad that Fox, for once, displayed taste and decorum. Lately they had been travelling the Jerry Springer route to fame, trying to out-low themselves with each new show. Out of the litany of reality programming Fox has brought us: Joe Millionaire, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, Paradise Hotel, Forever Eden, Temptation Island, Mr. Personality, The Littlest Groom, and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance (among others), none have shown the slightest modicum of respect or decorum towards their contestants or the audience. Luckily, this long list clearly demonstrates that Fox is an equal opportunity humiliator and opportunist. It's hard to call them homophobic when they haven't exactly done the straight community any service.

Still, the fact the network thought the show stood a chance does point to America's latent homophobia. The show was originally marketed with the phrases "It's a heterosexual male's worst nightmare: turning gay overnight" and "a jury of their queers." Even though these phrases were pulled even before the show itself was, this is a clear indicator that, and they were probably right, most Americans would be drawn to the show because being gay is still seen as humiliating and degrading. Reality shows for the most part are just freak shows at best; The Littlest Groom is obviously evidence of the circus having come to television.

So it is with us queers. If being gay were not still seen as something undesirable, freakish, or lurid, shows like this would not be made. Probably shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy would not be made because people wouldn't care. To me, being gay is something special and distinctive about myself. I take pride in being gay. I don't want to lose what I perceive to be almost a cultural distinction as we gain the civil rights and acceptance we deserve. Nonetheless, we still have a lot of education and outreach to do to change the way our fellow human beings (particularly American citizens) see us. Getting rights does not mean losing distinction. But getting rights does not mean gaining acceptance. We still have a road of activism we must travel after gaining our full rights; that's just the reality of the situation.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


This year's Tony Awards was an even gayer celebration than usual. Super-hot host Hugh Jackman aside, several shows with gay stories, characters, and/or themes took home the more prominent awards.

AVENUE Q which features the hysterical yet affirming song, "If You Were Gay" along with "Fantasies Come True" by Rod, a puppet in the closet, took home Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book. Avenue Q is an irreverant, non-PC musical comedy featuring puppets and live actors that features other songs such as "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet is for Porn." It definitely carries queer sensibilities,although not exclusively a gay story.

Hugh Jackman took home Leading Actor in a Musical for THE BOY FROM OZ. This play showcases the life of Peter Allen, the gay ex-husband of Liza Minelli, and famous song writer who died of AIDS in the 80's.

I AM MY OWN WIFE took home Best Play and the leading (and only) actor, Jefferson Mays, took home the Leading Actor in a Play award. This one man show is about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a real-life German transvestite who survived both the onslaught of the Nazis and the repressive Communist regime that followed after World War II.

It's nice to see such strong support for works of art featuring gay themes and characters, particularly in a year that has seen polarization around gay issues. It could have been easy for voters to be turned off from all the "gay hype" and go with potentially less controversial or, in their eyes perhaps trendy, choices.

It's Fun to Marry at the YMCA

According to Vh1's "Best Month Ever" show, the cowboy from 70's disco gay super-group The Village People has married. What, didn't know the VP were gay?

A little googling revealed this AP article:

NEW YORK - The cowboy from the Village People has gotten married. MTV News reports Randy Jones married acid lounge artist Will Grega Friday at a New York club.

Grega and Jones have been together for 20 years. Grega proposed that night and they were married on the spot.

Gay marriage is still illegal in New York state, but Jones says, "It's only a matter of time before the courts rule in favor of what's morally right and humanly decent." Grega, meanwhile, points out, "I have a lifetime membership to the YMCA."

It kills me not knowing if the perennially favorite wedding reception song "YMCA" was used for the happy copule.