Monday, July 6, 2009

Flashing Their Independence

Today is the Fourth of July. As fireworks boom outside in celebration of Independence Day, I’ve decided that a number of people have displayed various forms of independence lately.

Take William Crilly, whose actions at the Omaha, Neb., Pride parade displayed a total freedom from common sense.

The Pitch reported that Crilly attended Omaha’s Pride with a rainbow-colored wagon. Atop the wagon, which judging by the photos was meant to look like a coffin, a sign read, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

Obviously Crilly hadn’t come to ogle the fellas. Or maybe he had—you just never know.

Kansas City resident Kendra Konrady also came to Omaha with a purpose. As a Human Rights Campaign volunteer she handed out HRC stickers along the parade route. She saw Crilly’s mini-float and heard the men with it spouting Bible verses. She tossed a few stickers onto the wagon.

A voice said, “You better not do that.” Crilly pushed Konrady away from the wagon and put her in a headlock.

Whiplash is not your average Pride souvenir. I usually wind up with just stickers, beads and candy.

The crowd responded and Crilly let her go. She found a cop, who arrested him for assault.

It might come as a shock, but I feel some sympathy for Crilly, who’s described as 66 and wearing two hearing aids. Here’s an older deeply religious man from the heartland who is seeing his world turned upside down by gay freedom.

Or he could be a hate-filled bastard with tiny nuts. I don’t know.

Either way, Crilly did a stupid thing. Making the affair worse yet for him, news of what happened spread through the Pride crowd, and HRC signed up 159 new members.

Oh, the wages of putting a Pride marcher in a headlock and showing a remarkable independence from self-control.

Martina Navratilova grabbed independence from her relationship over a year ago, but now the icky details are coming to light, thanks to the lawsuit filed by her former partner Toni Layton, who told Britain’s Daily Mail that the tennis legend threw her out faster than you can say “Judy Nelson.”

Layton claimed that Navratilova ambushed her, suddenly ejecting her from their Sarasota, Fla., home in a scene that included aggressive security guards, changed locks and lawyers waving a $10,000 settlement document at her. “I was thrown out, left homeless, penniless and with only the clothes on my back.”

Martina was kinder to Wimbledon opponents.

Layton has filed a domestic partnership lawsuit against Navratilova, claiming she suffered “emotional, mental and physical trauma.” The lawsuit maintains the two agreed to split “all funds and assets earned and obtained by either while together.” Which means Layton is due a pretty Czech penny.

Layton said, “The greatest irony is that all this is happening in Florida, a state that doesn’t recognize gay rights. Marti makes out she’s a champion of gay rights, yet here she is, hiding behind Florida’s antiquated same-sex laws.”

This battle is shaping up to be both personally and politically ugly. Meanwhile Martina reportedly has a new girlfriend. Despite her throwdowns with Judy Nelson and now Toni Layton, Martina shows no inclination to be independent of women.

Gay and lesbian Mennonites hope to be free of discrimination from their church. While the Mennonite Church USA conference was going on in Columbus, Ohio, some 100 ministers and church members prayed and sang outside. They were dressed in bright pink.

The “pink Menno” protest was all about independence from spiritual pain. And independence from good fashion sense.