Monday, February 18, 2008

Athlete Auction Action

I read on Advocate.com that the Los Angeles Rebellion, described as "a straight-inclusive gay rugby team," was recently due to hold its Third Annual Bachelor Auction Fundraiser. Naturally, this led me to imagine two prospective bidders in the audience that night at the gay bar.

Charlie: Another?

Simon: I'm nervous.

Charlie: One more of those martinis and you'll be bidding on the busboy.

Simon: What am I doing here? I don't do this kind of stuff. I'm . . . shy.

Charlie: Not tonight. Tonight you're a tiger.

Simon: Meow.

Charlie: What time is it?

Simon: 8:45.

Charlie: 15 minutes to zero hour.

Simon: We still have time to see "Atonement." Again.

Charlie: We're staying right here, and we're going to bid. You need a date, and I need to get up close and personal with a jock.

Simon: God, what if he wants to talk about rugby? I don't know anything about it! How do you play?

Charlie: I don't know and I don't care. What I do know is they wear short shorts and throw themselves at each other. How can that be bad?

Simon: There's something about a scrum . . .

Charlie: Yeah, a scrumptious butt in those shorts.

Simon: Do they wear their uniforms on the date?

Charlie: If you pay enough.

Simon: Rugby shirts! I had one in high school.

Charlie: I'm pretty sure you can't build a conversation around that. Look, just ask him how to play. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to explain it all to you.

Simon: I guess. We runners wear short shorts, y'know.

Charlie: Honey, it just isn't the same.

Simon: Why not? I look good in mine.

Charlie: I'm sorry, Simon. I didn't mean to insult you. You have a beautiful ass. Let's concentrate on getting you off it.

Simon: One date.

Charlie: Who knows? The date could actually be on Valentine's Day. A little romance, a little wine, you two might hit it off. You could be washing his uniform for the rest of your days.

Simon: Hmm.

Charlie: I just want to roll around on the field.

Simon: What if all you get out of this is dinner?

Charlie: The food better be damn good. God, it's crowded in here. I wonder how many of these guys are actually going to bid?

Simon: I just had a horrible thought.

Charlie: There's a surprise.

Simon: Didn't you say there are straight guys on this team? What if I get one of them? What if it's a set-up? What if I find myself on some reality show?

Charlie: I really doubt the straight guys would be willing to go out with gay men. Talk about taking one for the team.

Simon: Or maybe women bid on the straight guys. I see one or two females.

Charlie: All will become clear in a few minutes.

Simon: Will you be crushed if you don't win a date?

Charlie: No. I'll just go to the next auction on the calendar. Bid for gay basketball players, or swimmers, or soccer players.

Simon: There are more dating auctions?

Charlie: There should be. In fact, why do they all have to be jocks? You could hold an auction at your work.

Simon: Yeah, right. Gay accountants.

Charlie: With your lovely rear end, you'd fetch a pretty penny.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Stand-Up Politician

Politicians make us laugh all the time. In the case of one state representative, it's actually deliberate.

Jason Lorber represents the city of Burlington in the Vermont legislature. His profession is stand-up comedy. He's also openly gay.

I'm guessing the guy is rarely short of material.

A recent Associated Press profile explains that Lorber performs stand-up, runs improv workshops and produces comedy shows. This can't be an easy career in a state with no comedy clubs. Like being a lumberjack in the Sahara.

Lorber has duel passions for legislating and performing. "Politics is about changing society and trying to make the world a better place. And performing makes me feel so alive. I love the creative aspect of it," he says.

Though he resides in the Green Mountain State, Lorber, a Democrat, grew up in California. This provides more grist for his humor mill, as he eyes Vermont with an outsider's perspective.

Basically he has no choice but to comment on the frigid Vermont winters. The AP story doesn't say, but I assume he also has in his repertoire jokes about maple syrup, fall foliage, tourists, cows, Ben & Jerry's, skiing, Calvin Coolidge, flinty natives and ├╝ber-liberal flatlanders who've emigrated to Vermont.

Regarding the locals' affection for the good old days, Lorber kids, "I'm used to directions based on what street you're supposed to turn on. In Vermont directions are based on landmarks that burned down 15 years ago."

His own life is fodder for his humor. That's a good thing. A comedian whose act is solely wisecracking about a state will likely be run out of it. Or at least be defeated at the polls.

Says Lorber about his personal life, "The thing about my partner is, he's gay. Which I'm fine with. Growing up, I never pictured myself being with a gay guy. Now I've come to realize that I could never be happy being with a straight guy."

I love it. And I'm sure some in his audience don't get it.

Vermont was famously the first state in the nation to provide gay couples with legal recognition, in the form of civil unions. On an official state Web site, Lorber's bio includes the information that his civil union partner, Nathaniel G. Lew, is a college professor. I assume Lorber wrote the bio, as it also says their son Max, a year-and-a-half old, "has not yet declared his profession."

Lorber isn't all hearts and flowers about civil unions. Boston.com includes this Lorber quip: "I hate the term civil union. It sounds like a cross between a civil war and a labor union. We just call it a c.u. That way, if it doesn't work out, it's just 'c.u. later,' or a 'c.u. in court.'"

Vermont's civil union law took effect on July 1, 2000. The period before and after that date was a rancorous one in the Green Mountain State. Vermont's motto, "Freedom and Unity," could've been replaced with "If You're Giving Gays Freedom, Wave Bye-Bye To Unity."

Now Vermont is exploring the possibility of moving up to same-sex marriage. So far, reports the AP, the debate has been much tamer. But it's early yet.

It seems to me that a gay comedian in the legislature may be just the ticket for Vermont as it considers granting gay marriage. He can poke fun at himself to humanize gayness. He can reduce friction by making both sides crack up. When the tension is greatest, Lorber can unite the lawmakers by pointing out that life could be worse—they could live in New Hampshire.