Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pride Notes to Self

I had a peachy time marching in Seattle's Pride parade. My partner Anne and I, members of a Unitarian Universalist church in Seattle, marched with a host of Unitarians representing churches from all over Puget Sound.

Now it behooves me to make a few notes about this year's experience, just to ensure next year things go downright seamlessly.

Note #1: Our church had a stellar turnout because we began recruiting early. We must repeat this next time. We should start signing people up . . . next week.

Note #2: I was one of the organizers of our contingent, but I got sick and couldn't help for a couple of weeks. The others carried on beautifully without me.

The takeaway is next year I will again surround myself with over-achievers.

Note #3: Things work best when individuals are doing the jobs they prefer. I'm suited to firing off reminder e-mails. Had I been tasked with designing the temporary tattoos we handed out, they would've looked just like the work of Georgia O'Keeffe—when she was an infant.

Note #4: Unitarians try to do right by the earth, so it was wise to send everybody information on how to get to Pride by bus. It was also wise not to ask who actually took the bus. That's the Unitarian version of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Note #5: Gathering 80 Unitarians for a group photo before the parade began was surprisingly easy. Nobody questioned the backdrop. Nobody lobbied for a different camera. Nobody suggested we form a photo committee.

I suspect this was because we'd all been standing in the sun for a substantial period. So next year we'll make sure Unitarian contrariness gets baked right out of people before we ask them to pose. Or do anything at all.

Note #6: This wasn't the first time I've waited well over an hour after the parade's start for my portion of it to begin. Adrenaline and socializing can keep you going a long while, but there's frequently a lull before you actually step out.

Need to come up with something to fill the time. Perhaps poker with PFLAG. Or we could challenge the Methodists to dodgeball.

Note #7: I felt dandy marching when I held the church banner with one hand and Anne's hand with the other. But when my hands were empty, I remembered I'm not one for waving at the crowd.

Unitarians tend to be introverts. I guess I better organize a class at church this winter. It should be taught by the drag queen who served as a parade emcee and announced when we passed that she considered herself a Unitarian. She could teach us loads about overcoming shyness . . . and periodic gender-switching.

Note #8: Anne doesn’t suffer from parade reservedness. She waved and waved, and when she had to retire to one of our VW Bugs due to a bad knee, she waved like royalty. Must look into a horse and carriage for next year. That would be eco-friendly, wouldn't it?

Note #9: I have wussy forearms. That church banner I carried was lightweight, and I carried it with someone else, and yet two-thirds of the way through the parade I felt like I was carrying a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.

Clearly I must exercise those forearm muscles. Maybe this winter I'll practice, march up and down the sidewalk outside the church carrying the banner. Scare the Lutherans nearby.

Note #10: Immediately behind us was a small contingent of sex workers. That meant that anybody pondering our signs, our handouts, our message didn't stay focused on us for long.

Next year I want to be followed by Baptists.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Week's Quote

“Alec! Now we can get married!” – Steve Martin to Alec Baldwin, on Twitter, after New York passed gay marriage.
“Ok. But if you play that . . . banjo after eleven o’clock . . .” – Baldwin’s response.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Frum Says He Was Wrong

The phrase "axis of evil" referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea. It never referred to Greenwich Village.

But the coiner of the phrase, conservative author and speechwriter David Frum, was no fan of gay nuptials, either. In today's installment of his weekly column, Frum wrote that he was "a strong opponent of same-sex marriage," and recalled debating the subject with gay journalist Andrew Sullivan 14 years ago.

A lot can happen in 14 years. A lot HAS happened in 14 years. Frum wrote "the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test."

He noted, "If people like me had been right, we should have seen the American family become radically more unstable."

No axis of evil here. Not even a fulcrum of family failure.

So Frum isn't fretting over New York's bold marriage move. Instead he's fretting over the high number of unmarried Hispanic women giving birth. "Whatever is driving this negative trend, it seems more than implausible to connect it to same-sex marriage. How would it even work that a 15-year-old girl in Van Nuys, California, becomes more likely to have a baby because two men in Des Moines, Iowa, can marry?

"Maybe somebody can believe the connection, but I cannot."

Even he can't connect these dots. In 14 years his views—and sense of geometry—have changed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

11:00 PM, June 24, 2011

We got New York. We've recaptured the marriage momentum. Now all I need for my personal Pride-month trifecta is to walk in Seattle's Pride parade without tripping.

Question of the Week

Which New York production offers more drama, a play on Broadway or a decision on marriage equality in Albany?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Clod in the Clouds

A Southwest Airlines pilot accidentally gave air traffic controllers and other pilots an earful when his cockpit microphone got stuck. In a four-minute, expletive-laced rant to his co-pilot, he complained that Southwest was neglecting his dating needs by hiring too many flight attendants who are gay, older or overweight.

"A continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes," he said at one point, a phrase glib enough to suggest he'd given this speech before.

He held forth on March 25, but KPRC in Houston just recently broke the story of this Houston-based pilot who seems to think pilot's wings come with a flight attendant's ass.

Among the lowlights:

- "Now I’m back in Houston, which is easily where the ugliest base is. I mean it’s all these (expletive) old dudes and grannies and there’s like maybe a handful of cute chicks."

- "Eleven (expletive) over the top (expletive), (expletive) homosexuals and a granny."

- "I still wouldn’t want anyone to know if I had banged them."

In short, he's a terrific argument for lesbianism.

Because his microphone was stuck, pilots within hundreds of miles couldn't communicate with Houston air traffic controllers for the duration of his pity party.

The FAA said personal conversations are kosher during that phase of flight, but it wasn't pleased with the "offensive language and disparaging characterizations of certain groups and individuals."

An air traffic controller tried to reach the pilot, saying, "OK, whoever is, uh, transmitting, better watch what you’re saying." And later, "OK, someone’s got a stuck mic and, uh, telling us all about their endeavors. We don’t need to hear that."

That's for sure.

Five seconds after the prince of the skies either tired of chest-beating or got a clue, other pilots checked in with controllers. The first said, "Uh, Houston, Skywest 6285 . . . and that was not us." He added, "And they wonder why airline pilots have a bad reputation."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Week's Quote

My cousin Archie is into hunting, and he knows that I hate it, but that just makes him want to talk about it to me more. He called me the other day and said, "You should've seen it, Ellie. Heh, heh, heh. I got myself an eight-point duck."

Ellen DeGeneres

Source: My Point . . . and I Do Have One

A Shot of Honesty

Stephen Sweeney, the president of the New Jersey state Senate, fessed up. He said he blew it when he withheld his support for gay marriage last year, calling it the "biggest mistake" of his political life.

"I made a decision purely based on political calculation to not vote for marriage equality," the Gloucester Democrat said yesterday. "I failed in my responsibility as majority leader to actually lead. I was wrong."

Yes he was. He was, he was, he was.

But his confession on the Senate floor that he abstained from voting solely to cover his political rump is a welcome shot of honesty.

Of course, it also served a purpose. His words came at the end of a speech in support of a controversial bill of his; Sweeney pledged that his votes would no longer be based on political gain.

What a concept. I think the earth just moved off its axis.

Sweeney has expressed regret before that he didn't support marriage equality. "One of the things I was told is your vote lives longer than you do," he told the Star-Ledger earlier in 2011. "I'll live with that mistake for the rest of my life."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Let My People Kiss

Among the security guards at Target Field in Minneapolis, one stands out for his overriding moral concerns. The fellow is a little tin Moses, and the stadium is his Mount Sinai. With mustard and relish.

Taylor Campione and Kelsi Culpepper encountered him when they decided to take in a Minnesota Twins game on May 27. According to City Pages, the young women arrived a little late to the game, and Culpepper headed for the restroom, first giving her girlfriend a quick peck. A middle-aged security guard immediately walked toward Campione, shaking his head.

"I saw you kissing that girl, you can't do that," he said.

"I can kiss whoever I want to," she retorted, showing quicker reflexes than most infielders.

"Well, we don't play grab ass here," said the guard. If the women shared only a brief kiss as they claim, this man's sense of anatomy leaves something to be desired. He must think catchers squat on their ears.

Campione told Culpepper what had transpired, and Culpepper confronted the guard, saying, "I don't understand what's wrong with kissing my girlfriend."

After some arguing, the security guard declared, "Well here in the stadium, we adhere to the 10 Commandments."

That one would've left me speechless. I wouldn't have known whether to laugh, shriek or look around for Charlton Heston.

What I do know is there is no commandment about kissing, same-sex or otherwise. So which commandments was the man talking about? Which ones do they adhere to at Target Field? I suspect these are the Target 10 Commandments:

1. You shall have no other team but the Twins. Even if they're in the cellar and playing like Muppets.

2. You shall have no other idols beyond Joe Mauer. You shall not bow down to Alex Rodriguez, Joey Votto or Big Papi, nor clothe yourself in their T-shirts or jerseys.

3. You shall not swear. At least not out loud. If the Twins hit into five double plays in one game, cursing under your breath is acceptable.

4. You shall keep the Sabbath day holy by attending a Sunday game and praying like crazy for a win.

5. You shall honor your father and mother by bringing them to the ballpark. Contact a service representative for more information on the special "Honor Your Parents, Pay for Their Tickets" package.

6. You shall not murder. Even if the guy behind you spills his Landshark Lager and soft shell tacos on you during the seventh-inning stretch.

7. You shall not be gay and commit a display of affection. Try a National League park for that.

8. You shall not steal. But the team damn well better.

9. You shall not lie about being old enough to drink. If you attempt to deceive, Twins mascot T.C. Bear will stone you with peanuts and cheese curds.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's ass, your wife's ass or anybody's ass, for grab ass is not played at Target Field. However, teammates shall whack the ass of any player who hits a grand slam.

These must be the commandments the security guard was thinking of when he scolded the lesbians. If he had carried two laminated stone tablets in his wallet to whip out on such occasions, things might've gone easier.

Campione and Culpepper are filing a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. It's unknown whether the guard is filing a complaint with God.

The man has received a verbal and written reprimand for his "unacceptable" behavior, said a Twins spokesman. He's still on the job, so anyone he catches misbehaving at Target Field will be subject to ejection and locusts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Question of the Week

What's the strangest thing you ever saw at a Pride?

Anarchy Ahead

In the 2007 Super Bowl, New York Giant David Tyree made an unbelievable catch. In 2011 Tyree makes unbelievable statements.

The National Organization for Marriage filmed Tyree yesterday, the same day the New York State Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill.

If state senators go on to approve gay marriage, Tyree declared "this will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, you know, it's a strong word, but anarchy. The moment we have it, if you trace back even to other cultures, other countries, that will be the moment where our society in itself, loses its grip with what's right."

Anarchy. As soon as gay New Yorkers can marry, all forms of government in this country will cease, there will be no more military, and someone in Dubuque will marry a flagpole.

"How can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all of a sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or an agenda, and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country," he said. "It's something that's holy and sacred, and I think there's nothing more honorable worth fighting for."

It's clear throughout the video that Tyree's devout Christianity informs his opinions. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol, but after a 2004 drug arrest he found God. He obviously hasn't let go of him since.

The wide receiver also said, when it comes to parenting, same-sex parents fail a child of the opposite gender. "You can't teach something that you don't have. So two men will never be able to show a woman how to be a woman."

Some would argue that gay men excel in that area.

Tyree was apparently moved to take this public step after seeing the message fellow retired Giant Michael Strahan taped on behalf of New Yorkers for Marriage Equality. Tyree and Strahan, former teammates, now play for opposing teams.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worry Comes for the Archbishop

The battle over marriage equality in New York is in its last pressure-packed days, and Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan is worried.

Yesterday the firm opponent of same-sex marriage blogged, "Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea."

He's worried, but fretting hasn't impacted his sense of geography.

"In those countries, government presumes daily to 'redefine' rights, relationships, values, and natural law," Dolan wrote. "There, communiqu├ęs from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of 'family' and 'marriage' means."

So Albany is in serious danger of becoming Pyongyang. Does this mean Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have to dress like Kim Jong-il?

Here's my favorite line: "Our beliefs should not be viewed as discrimination against homosexual people."

They ain't exactly a pat on the back.

Dolan said the state was right to grant gays basic rights like bereavement leave and death benefits. Marriage is a different animal. "It is the union of a man and a woman in a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children."

I believe even the archbishop knows that statement has as many refutable points as a North Korean newspaper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This Week's Quote

Oscar Wilde: Do you mind if I smoke?
Sarah Bernhardt: I don't care if you burn.

Source: The Mammoth Book of Great British Humor

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quindlen's Commencement Assessment

Commencement speeches are tricky things, both for the speaker, who is charged with conveying deep thoughts, and for the graduate, who is charged with staying awake.

The New York Times
offered snippets from this season's commencement speeches, and I so liked what writer Anna Quindlen said to the graduates of Grinnell College that I'm running it here. Try to stay awake as you read. I promise it will be worth it.

"Your parents, proudly here today, and their parents before them, perhaps proudly here today, understood a simple equation for success: your children would do better than you had. Ditch digger to cop to lawyer to judge.

"We’re now supposed to apologize to you because it seems that that’s no longer how it works, that you won’t inherit the S.U.V., which was way too big, or the McMansion that was way too big, or the corner office that was way too big.

"But I suggest that this is a moment to consider what “doing better” really means. If you are part of the first generation of Americans who genuinely see race and ethnicity as attributes, not stereotypes, will you not have done better than we did? If you are part of the first generation of Americans with a clear understanding that gay men and lesbians are entitled to be full citizens of this country with all its rights, will you not have done better than we did? If you are part of the first generation of Americans who assume women merit full equality instead of grudging acceptance, will you not have done better than we did?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

June cartoon

My new favorite Pride cartoon, drawn by Paul Berge of Q Syndicate, is just a click away. Tell me if you like it as much as I do.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shock Therapy for Children

I wish I'd heard about this earlier. I need a TV addict to alert me when important things are airing, like a news program about an LGBT issue, or the Vitameatavegamin episode.

CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" already ran Part 1 of "The Sissy Boy Experiment," an investigative series about a government-funded program at UCLA designed to convert feminine boys into masculine boys. Part 2 runs tonight.

I'll be there. Finally.

"Sissy Boy" tells the story of Kirk Andrew Murphy, who killed himself in 2003 at 38 years of age.

"I used to spend so much time thinking, why would he kill himself at the age of 38? It doesn't make any sense to me," Kirk's sister, Maris Murphy, said in a story on "What I now think is I don't know how he made it that long."

And we're off on another tale of horrors visited upon gay people in the name of conformity. And science. And religion.

Back in the 1970s, Kirk Murphy was a bright, sweet five-year-old, when his mother, concerned that he liked to play with dolls and was evincing feminine traits, took him to UCLA.

There he was treated primarily by a doctoral student named George Rekers.

Oh yes, that George Rekers. Mr. Gays-Are-Awful-So-I'll-Take-One-To-Europe Rekers.

He called Kirk "Kraig" in his written account at the time, and claimed that after therapy Kraig's feminine behavior had disappeared, and he was "indistinguishable from any other boy."

Rekers' work with Kraig laid the groundwork for his ascension to the top ranks of gay-haters. He was a founder of the Family Research Council, a board member of NARTH, and he served as an expert witness against gay adoption.

Rekers would still be one of our most powerful enemies, had he not been photographed returning home from Europe with a rent boy. Funny how that made his credibility go pfffft.

So what kind of experimental therapy did Rekers put the little boy through? A room at UCLA was outfitted with two tables. At one table Kirk chose between masculine toys, like plastic guns, and feminine toys, like dolls. At the other table he chose between boys' clothes and things such as wigs.

His mom was instructed to ignore Kirk when he opted for the feminine toys, and praise him when he went the masculine route. I guess if he shot the doll's eye out, he got extra credit.

Rekers wrote that, at home, Kirk received blue poker chips for masculine behavior and red chips for effeminate behavior. Blue chips meant candy; red chips meant a spanking from dad.

The spanking was severe. Kirk's brother Mark tried to protect him, while his sister Maris would go to his bedroom after a beating and "lay down and hug him and we would just lay there, and the thing that I remember is that he never even showed anger. He was just numb."

As will everyone else be when they read this.

Kirk's mother thinks the therapy ruined her son's life. His sister said, "It left Kirk just totally stricken with the belief that he was broken, that he was different from everybody else."

Oh George. Your personal mix of conservative Christianity, educational training and latent homosexuality made you more twisted than Chubby Checker.

Rekers ignored CNN's interview requests, so CNN producers hunted him down in Florida. He sports a beard now—the better to hide behind, presumably, or else beefing up his own masculinity. Give the man a blue poker chip.

He said, "I only meant to help, do the best I could with the parents, and I've written articles you can look up, too, on the rationale for our treatment. And the rationale was positive; to help children, help the parents who come to us in their distress asking questions, 'What can we do to help our child be better adjusted?' "

I can accept that this happened over three decades ago when the thinking about gay people was much different and some parents and academics believed they were being helpful. But that day has long passed and George Rekers owes the planet a mea culpa the size of Los Angeles.

Instead, in some quarters, his work is still cited, and Kraig's case called a success.

"The research has a postscript that needs to be added," said Maris Murphy. "That is that Kirk Andrew Murphy was Kraig and he was gay, and he committed suicide."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Week's Quote

There may or may not be a lesbian comedy boom, but there certainly is a lescom circuit. Gay Pride Month, formerly known as June, is like a rolling trade show for us.

Kate Clinton


Monday, June 6, 2011

Flying the Colors

At the start of June, citizens of Richmond, Va., noticed an addition to the flagpole outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Underneath the American flag waved a rainbow flag. The two banners, Old Glory and Newish Pride-y, flapped in the breeze.

Then gums flapped, too, and within seconds Richmond had its very own flag flap. A flap over the fag flag. Gag.

I'll stop now.

The rumpus began when PRISM, a year-old employee LGBT group at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, asked for the flying of the rainbow flag to mark Pride month. The bank, a private financial institution located downtown, agreed to fly the flag for all of June, reported

Richmond's Pride actually takes place in September, but that's not the point, so forget I mentioned it.

"We strongly support a diverse and inclusive culture at the Richmond Fed and have learned that it is important to value and embrace differences, both seen and unseen," said Sally Green, the bank's chief operating officer.

"We are flying the 'Pride' flag as an example of our commitment to the values of acceptance and inclusion," she added.

Aren't those great sentiments? I'd like to work for Ms. Green, if I didn't have such a blanket distrust of any entity that might've contributed to the world's economic collapse. Forget I mentioned that, too.

So there was the rainbow flag, dressing up the downtown concrete monolith in Virginia's capital city. And there were members of The Family Foundation, enjoying their new headquarters until they looked out their west-facing windows and spotted the flag.

It's a real shame the rainbow flag won't permanently mar the view of these guardians of family values.

They blogged their displeasure, noting bank executive Sally Green's statement about inclusivity and complaining, "Apparently that inclusivity doesn't apply to those who do not condone homosexual behavior."

Honestly. How can you condone or not condone a naturally existing group of people? It's like saying you don't approve of redheads, or left-handers, or Pygmies. Don't forget I mentioned that.

The Cavalier State's protectors pledged stiff upper lips: "At The Family Foundation, we will simply choose to use this flag . . . as motivation for the work that lies ahead."

Namely attacking gay, redheaded, left-handed Pygmies.

Bob Marshall, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, pitched in with a hysterical response to the Pride flag. He dispatched a letter to Jeffrey M. Lacker, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Marshall misspelled Lacker's name, but hey, he was so upset he could hardly think straight.

The lawmaker questioned what flying the flag has to do with the Fed's mission. "Moreover, the homosexual behavior 'celebrated' by your Richmond's Federal Reserve Bank spokeswoman undermines the American economy, is a class six felony in Virginia (18.2-361, VA Code), shortens lives, adds significantly to illness, increases health costs, promotes venereal diseases, and worsens the population imbalance relating to the number of workers supporting the beneficiaries of America's Social Security and Medicare Programs."

I'm pretty sure we were on the grassy knoll, too.

Marshall continued, "The Richmond Fed's endorsement of costly, anti-social, immoral behavior is rejected by 6,000 years of Western Religious and moral teaching. You want the American people to trust your judgement in economic matters when your spokesperson celebrates an attack on public morals?"

That Virginians trust Marshall's judgement enough to elect him is what is truly scary.

The legislator ended his fanciful rant with, "Mr. Lacke (sic), take down that flag!"

As of this writing, the bank hasn't. I'm fascinated to see if it withstands the attacks, and if it hoists the flag next year.

I know one thing: These colors don't run. Unless you wash them in the wrong temperature.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Keeping It Civil

Civil unions went into effect in Illinois this week, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly got involved. In his executive office at City Hall, the mayor officiated at the union of one of his top staffers.

It is to be hoped that Emanuel, notorious for his bad language, refrained from tossing in any cuss words.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Go Figure

Here's today's civics lesson. Among the 50 states, 19 allow citizens to marry their first cousins, no restrictions attached. But only five U.S. states allow citizens to marry their same-sex partners.

Apparently my fellow Americans would have me choose inbreeding over gay marriage. There better be damn good wedding presents involved.

Question of the Week

Do you plan to go to a Pride this month?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

San Francisco Jaunt

Over the holiday weekend my partner Anne and I enjoyed the San Francisco hospitality of our friend Clare. Naturally we dropped in on the Castro. Sadly, at A Different Light we found nothing left but the awning. The gay bookstore, serving the community since 1985, has dimmed its (different) lights.
On the plus side, the Castro recently became home to the nation's first GLBT history museum. It's small but ambitious, displaying artifacts from across the GLBT spectrum. It's San Francisco-centric, but a kick for folks from everywhere.
Current displays include the clothes lesbian pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon wore when they were the first same-sex Californians to be married in 2004 and again in 2008. Aside from those belonging to Hillary Clinton, pantsuits don't get more historic. Note Harvey Milk's bullhorn in the background.
Queer beer, anyone? Apparently not. The Queer Brewing Company didn't last long.
A sign of the times, namely the late '70s, when orange-juice spokesman Anita Bryant led a crusade in Florida against gay rights. Ah, Anita, we knew you well. But you didn't have a clue about us.
A fun creative outlet.
Across the street from the museum, Anita Bryant's worst nightmare.