Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Going to watch a film later, "Anal Lesbians." It's a film about a group of women going through the fridge, labeling everything.
Source: The Mammoth Book of Great British Humor
Source: The Mammoth Book of Great British Humor
Monday, July 30, 2012
I went on vacation expecting to visit old friends, see my brother get married, and bake in the sun. I did all that—and watched my partner devour every lobster in three New England states.
But even more than that happened. Near the end of the two weeks, as Anne and I sat on the grass outside Provincetown’s town hall, eating linguica and egg sandwiches and fried dough, we talked about our future.
Anyone who eats such a meal regularly would have no future, but we were on vacation. Just ask the lobsters.
By the end of our conversation, I reached the decision I’ve been sneaking up on for a while now. It’s time for me to make a change. It’s time for me to stop writing this column.
I’ve been hammering out General Gayety for a dozen years or so. When I began, Vermont was putting in place the nation’s first civil unions, which resulted in acrimony not seen in Vermont since Ben called Jerry a Chunky Monkey.
Now assorted states offer same-sex marriage; polls show a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage; and for the first time a sitting president endorses same-sex marriage.
That’s social change moving at Mach speed.
I’ve written about the landmark Lawrence v Texas decision, the death of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the world’s first openly lesbian prime minister, and LGBT teens with more leadership ability than George W. Bush ever thought of.
I’ve also written about corrective rape in South Africa, gay domestic violence, murderous homophobia, and fundamentalists blaming us for everything from 9/11 to cellulite.
During this period, I’ve seen a lot of gay newspapers come and go—mostly go—and the explosion of online LGBT outlets. Now major online purveyors of LGBT news speak of their wobbliness. Place your bets now, ladies and gentlemen, on the future of gay journalism.
For all the difficulties inherent in writing for gay publications—like low pay, low pay, and low pay—it’s one of the best things I’ve done. Writing General Gayety allowed me to combine my love of humor with my commitment to the LGBT cause.
I extend my thanks to the editors and publishers from Charlotte to San Diego, Detroit to Dallas, Seattle to Philadelphia, who have run my column in their pages. And I thank the readers from around the country and around the world who have let me know what they thought of my work.
I even thank the homophobes who saw fit to drop me a line. Their venom provided me with column fodder. Really quite thoughtful of them.
I’m not disappearing completely. Because so much is always happening in the LGBT sphere, I might find I simply have to write a column now and then. It’s a release for me. Beats exercise.
But mainly I intend to focus on two areas. The first is my blog. It’s a home for LGBT humor, so it now carries forward the “General Gayety” name. The blog is chock-full of cartoons, videos, photos that I don’t create—for which we can all be grateful—along with posts that I write.
Dropping the column will allow me, perversely, to write more often and address issues more quickly in the form of pithy posts, so come visit me in blogdom at www.generalgayety.com.
My second aim is to write a book. It won’t be a gay book, but I’ll sure enough be coming out in it—as a person with OCD.
That’s my version of coming out as a never-ending exercise.
So wish me luck and strength, and I wish the same for you.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Last Sunday after church here in Seattle my partner Anne chatted with one of the older members of our Unitarian-Universalist congregation, who had the weekend nuptials of a certain gay Massachusetts congressman on her mind.
She said to Anne, "Did you hear Barney Fife got married?"
She said to Anne, "Did you hear Barney Fife got married?"
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
I met Elizabeth about five years ago at a mostly gay party. She was a graduate nursing student, who looked every inch the straight girl. It took hours along with alcohol for her to confess that she was involved with a woman for the first time in her life.
Over the next years, Elizabeth and I walked regularly around Green Lake in Seattle, parsing her lesbian adolescence. That adolescence is complete, but we still walk the lake. Last night she told me about her cousin who’s now coming out, and filling Elizabeth in on every wobbly step. The rookie lesbian has become the coach.
Elizabeth couldn’t have imagined herself being able to advise anyone on dykedom during our early strolls. At that time her new experiences were thrilling, confusing, terrifying, exasperating and liberating. All before lunch.
Having been only with men, Elizabeth found herself going through a second adolescence 15 years after her first. So we had a lot of ground to cover, ranging from the evolving reactions of her family to her yearning for her girlfriend in California to the hot guest lecturer in class.
We peered backwards at the hints sprinkled throughout Elizabeth’s life that she might be gay; the hints now looked like neon billboards. We dealt with her coming out to roommates and nursing professors and strangers. Her naiveté flared when she had trouble believing that lesbians with partners and kids could behave as wolfishly as any guy—and she scared herself when she realized she enjoyed the attention from one big bad wolf.
Although she developed crushes as easily as she flossed her teeth, she never acted on them. Her heart lay with Ann in San Diego. One sure way to get a rise out of Elizabeth was to mention that first lesbian relationships rarely last. “I know!” she’d bark. “I wish people would stop telling me that!”
Maintaining a long-distance relationship is difficult at any time, let alone when you’re in your lesbian adolescence and anyone with a Sapphic sensibility looks lip-smackin’ good. It’s a testament to Elizabeth and Ann that they both avoided distractions and honed in on what was most important to them, namely each other.
I must note that Elizabeth found a vicarious way of getting her ya-yas out: setting me up. When she would begin our walk by announcing, “I found your wife today!” I knew I was headed for another misadventure in lesbian dating. Back then she hadn’t grasped that pairing two lesbians on the basis that they’re both breathing does not a sizzling Sapphic romance make.
Now Elizabeth’s cousin Claire, at age 40, is being bombarded by emotions and discoveries, which she shares with Elizabeth via the phone. The other evening Elizabeth delayed a dinner meeting so Claire, who’s just gotten involved, could read a note from her new love aloud—six times.
Elizabeth pulled from her shelves books she’d bought in her early days, and sent a sort of lesbian care package to Claire. The stories of first lesbian loves particularly resonate with this family member who’s gleefully gathering material for her own story.
Elizabeth is elated that her cousin is so happy. But now that Elizabeth is the coach and not the rookie, she says to me, “I can’t believe how much crap you listened to!”
She didn’t want me to include those words here, fearing they could hurt Claire. But I bet that soon enough Claire will get it, and say of her own lesbian adolescence, “I was a mess. And it was wonderful.”
When she reaches that point, Claire will be in coaching shape. Then she too might gay it forward.
Friday, July 6, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
I’m appalled that I’d never heard of Gad Beck. Not only was he an important figure in LGBT history, he was a hoot.
Until his recent death just shy of his 89th birthday, Beck was the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. Also a resistance fighter, Beck’s experiences during World War II were such that he quipped, “Only Steven Spielberg can film my life—forgive me, forgive me.”
He’s forgiven. Because he’s right.
Consider his attempt to rescue his Jewish boyfriend. According to Wikipedia, Beck donned a Hitler Youth uniform and entered a deportation center to free Manfred Lewin.
Thereby setting a ridiculously high bar for standing by your man.
Beck asked the commanding officer to release Lewin for use in a construction project, and he must’ve been convincing, because the officer agreed.
When they got outside, though, Lewin said, “Gad, I can’t go with you. My family needs me. If I abandon them now, I could never be free.”
The two parted, not saying goodbye. “In those seconds, watching him go, I grew up,” recalled Beck.
If you’re weepy already, don’t read the next sentence. Lewin and his whole family perished at Auschwitz. I warned you.
Beck’s father was Jewish, and his mother converted to Judaism. Under the Nazi racial laws, Beck was a half-breed, and he and his father landed in a holding compound on the Rosenstrasse in Berlin. He was released after the non-Jewish wives of inmates protested in the street.
They set a pretty high bar, too.
Beck learned from those women. He said, reported The Jerusalem Post, “The Rosenstrasse event made one thing absolutely clear to me: I won’t wait until we get deported.”
He joined a resistance youth group, and helped Jews in Berlin survive. Beck noted that “as a homosexual, I was able to turn to my trusted non-Jewish, homosexual acquaintances to help supply food and hiding places.”
It helps to have friends in homo places.
A Jewish spy working for the Gestapo betrayed Beck shortly before the war ended, and he was held at a Jewish transit camp. After the war, he assisted Jews emigrating to Palestine, and he himself lived in Israel from 1947 until 1979, when he returned to Germany.
I don’t know why he returned. But at his death he was survived by Julius Laufer, his partner of 35 years, which means the two men got together in 1977, two years before Beck went back to Europe. It would be gratifying to think he returned to Germany for love, considering he left it for the opposite reason.
But if he returned just because he missed the beer, that’s okay, too.
As the director of the Jewish Adult Education Center in Berlin, Beck organized gatherings of gay singles at the center. “He was open, sweet and would speak with everybody,” said the editor of Berlin’s Jewish magazine, who also recalled Beck’s fondness for waving the Israeli flag at Berlin’s annual Pride parade.
He sounds like the kind of guy you’d want to have at a party. If he could keep the flag-waving to a minimum.
Beck’s heart-centeredness combined with a notable wit. On a German talk show, he said, “The Americans in New York called me a great hero. I said no . . . I’m really a little hero.”
Of his life as a homosexual Jew, Beck averred, “God doesn’t punish for a life of love.” He wasn’t the first to say that, and he won’t be the last, but it’s tough to imagine the line suiting anyone better.