Daily Archives: December 22, 2008

Jeff & John

First the good news:

IF you were part of the New York art world in the 1970s, or read about it, the name John Perreault is likely to be familiar.
He was an art critic at The Village Voice and then The SoHo News, and his nude portrait by the painter Alice Neel is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
“I was one of the people who didn’t know how well known he was,” Jeff Weinstein, 61, an arts and culture commentator, said of their initial meeting in 1976. “That appealed to him.”
The setting for that meeting was a San Diego bowling alley, where a country music band was playing. “A very Southern California thing,” said Mr. Weinstein, who was then an English lecturer at San Diego State University.
Mr. Perreault, 71, said he doesn’t recall the music or whether they even bowled. “I mostly remember him.”
A week later they had dinner together, and Mr. Weinstein’s attraction grew in direct proportion to Mr. Perreault’s dining pleasure. “He looked like he was sensually enjoying what he was eating,” said Mr. Weinstein, who is also a food writer. “This was a guy I could like.”
They were a study in congruent contrasts, according to Carrie Rickey, who introduced them and is now a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Mr. Perreault was “tall and gingery,” she remembered, while Mr. Weinstein was short and dark. “John is a slow burner, and Jeff is a live wire,” she added.
“Jeff is more of a people person, and I’m more of a loner,” Mr. Perreault said. “It could be seen as complementary or irritating.”
They decided it was the former, and spent almost every day together until Mr. Perreault, who had been a visiting professor of art criticism at the University of California, San Diego, returned to New York.
But he somehow left his typewriter behind. “It was one of those unconscious things that only seem to happen in books,” said Mr. Perreault, who admitted it was evidence he didn’t want the relationship to end.
Mr. Weinstein had similar longings. “When John went back to New York, something dramatic happened: I woke up one day and couldn’t see colors,” he said. “Everything was gray.” Before rushing to a hospital, he called a friend, who offered a simple diagnosis. “My friend said, ‘You’re not sick, you’re in love.’ ”

( Cue Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor)

He flew across the country with Mr. Perreault’s typewriter and the hope that they could be together.
On a cold December day, they discussed their feelings while walking through Greenwich Village. Mr. Perreault surprised Mr. Weinstein by saying he was not interested in dating. Instead, he proposed they make a monogamous and potentially lifelong commitment.
“We looked into each other’s red faces and dripping noses, and I remember saying, ‘I want to live with you,’ ” Mr. Weinstein said. They embraced and went to McSorley’s pub to celebrate their union.

Thus making the place really gay (Though probably not for the first time, if you catch my drift)

“The gay culture was not about commitment at the time,” Ms. Rickey said. “They were swimming against the tide.”

(Cue Busby Berkeley)

As the years passed, the tide changed. It rankled the couple that their relationship was not granted equal legal status, so Mr. Weinstein, who had become the food critic and a union shop steward at The Village Voice, set out to change that. He won employee health benefits for same-sex couples in 1982, a benefit the New York weekly already offered its unmarried heterosexual couples. “It was groundbreaking,” he said.
In 1997, after two decades together, the couple exchanged platinum friendship rings. “Both of us just had the monogamous gene,” is how Mr. Perreault explained their longevity. “I have friends who are perfectly happy having several relationships. Sometimes simultaneously. But I was never happy being a bachelor.”
They have been each other’s safety net and sounding board. “I haven’t written anything that I haven’t read out loud to John,” Mr. Weinstein said.
Friends describe them as able to read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. But Mr. Weinstein, who has watched his partner morph from published poet to art critic, and from curator to artist, said, “I can’t predict what he’s going to say or do.”
Except, of course on Dec. 6, when they celebrated 32 years as a couple by getting married at the Carpe Diem Guesthouse and Spa in Provincetown, Mass.

Carpe Diem indeed! Besides being an utterly fabulous person what Jeff will always be remembered for in my book is the night (many years ago) when he appeared at a panel at the New School entitled “Is There a Gay Sensibility and If So What Influence Does It Have On Out Lives?” Grabbing the mike Jeff cherrily but decisively announced “There is no such thing as a ‘Gay Sensibility’ and yes it has an enormous influence on our lives.”

Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Perreault wept while reading Walt Whitman poems to each other. Then, standing before Rachel Peters, a Massachusetts justice of the peace, they vowed their love as they removed the friendship rings from their right hands and placed them on each other’s left ring finger.
“The whole ceremony was more emotional than I expected,” Mr. Perreault said. He even teared up when applying for the marriage certificate. “I thought it would be just like getting a driver’s license, but it wasn’t.”
Equally moved, Mr. Weinstein was looking forward to what lies ahead. “John continues to surprise me,” he said. “I still don’t know what’s deep inside him. And I still want to know.”

I don’t usually cry at weddings, but I’m sobbing buckets right now.

Meanwhile in sunny Italy, the leader of the world’s largest, welathiest, and powerful pedophile cult. . .

Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
“(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed,” the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration.
“The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”
The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound.”
The pope said humanity needed to “listen to the language of creation” to understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behavior beyond traditional heterosexual relations as “a destruction of God’s work.”
He also defended the Church’s right to “speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected.”

Cause if it isn’t they won’t have a fresh supply of little boys to fuck.

And speaking of fucking — or in this case getting fucked overa Kos-ack named Christie Keith has said quite a mouthful that bears repeating.

I have not been one of the “OMG Obama is betraying us” crowd. Once he was elected, I pretty much let it all go. Before the election and in the aftermath of the passage of Prop 8 I was over here 24/7, but it died down. I honestly didn’t even pay that much attention to his appointments and transition statements. I have a life, a family, dogs, my job, and my friends, all of which needed some attention.
But when I heard Warren had been invited to pray at Obama’s inauguration, I felt sick to my stomach. I cried. It wasn’t a judgment; it wasn’t an intellectual assessment; it wasn’t a political strategy. It was just genuine pain.
But it was nothing — NOTHING — compared to what I felt when I started reading diaries here on Daily Kos, full of smug, ignorant pontification on how we need to not be SO ANGRY or SO HURT, and lumping us in with the “What Obama is doing wrong” crowd, and ignoring that our response to the Warren invitation is a completely separate phenomenon.
Let me explain something very carefully, for those who don’t know: none of what’s going on in the fight for LGBT rights is part of a strategy, as should be apparent by our lack of a cohesive movement and any viable leaders. It’s a true grassroots uprising among people who got a taste of freedom and decided we wanted more. We were no longer willing to settle for a long, slow, state by state battle, for death by a thousand cuts, for an extended period of second class citizenship.
I’ve lived through a lot of watershed moments in this movement, including the assassination of Harvey Milk and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and the rise of ACT-UP. I know like I know my name that this is another one.
Whether it’s “strategic” or not, whether it’s what our “leaders” think we should do or not, it’s pretty clear that real actual LGBT people are done with the closet. We’re seeing things in a new way. We’re no longer willing to settle for simply not getting beaten to death, for being able to live in our constricted safe zones without fear of baseball bats to the head and getting fired.
It’s not okay anymore to have to decode when and where we can be out, who can and can’t be trusted to really know us. We’re done with glancing around the restaurant or the street before taking our partner’s hand if we’re not in a gay bar or walking down Castro St. Done with paying for living fearlessly with broken bones or even death.
But to people outside of this struggle, I think that sea-change is invisible. Many of you really have no idea what just happened or what it’s done to us, both good and bad. It’s outside your circle of perception.
So I can understand that our anger must be kind of scary to some of you. It looks like it’s way out of proportion to what you think happened. And it’s not like us, really, even if our movement was born at a riot.
So in the interest of building bridges, which apparently many of you are really big on, I’ll share a secret: my anger is scaring me, too. I haven’t summoned it, cultivated it, or even welcomed it. It’s just there, like the bricks and bottles thrown at Stonewall. It’s real like that.
At first I thought the fact that many of you had no idea what’s going on for us was our fault. We must not have been telling you our stories. We must have been burying our fears, trying to look smart and strong and successful and PROUD. Like kids with an alcoholic parent, we denied anything was wrong with how we were being treated by our families, government, churches, and armed forces.
So we wrote diary after diary explaining what it’s really like to grow up queer in America — to often find no safe harbor even in our own families, who throw us out, or in our churches, which call us sinners, or in our schools, which fail to keep us safe or even alive, or in the army, which uses Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a license to rape female soldiers and cleanse the ranks.
We told you about how many of us are haunted by things that happened to us — like when I had my head smashed into a car windshield for being so utterly uppity as to use the ATM while lesbian — or to others — like Jennifer Gale, who last week died of the cold on the streets of Austin because the only shelter in town, run by the Salvation Army, wouldn’t let a transgendered woman stay under its roof.
We thought you knew, but in case you didn’t, we told you how our youth are being tortured, isolated, and abused in religious centers that claim to be able to change them into straight people — places people like Warren advocate and even run.
But I saw that to far too many of you, knowing our stories made no difference at all. There’s just something about the fight of LGBT people for our civil rights that makes a whole lot of you here feel uncomfortable.
You keep saying things like, “Just because someone is against gay marriage doesn’t mean they’re a homophobe or a bigot,” even though there are no non-bigoted, non-homophobic reasons to oppose marriage equality.
You say that equality for LGBT citizens is an “issue” that needs to take its place on the list of progressive causes, and not a fundamental civil right that is the very foundation and bedrock of our entire constitutional system: equality under the law.
You say we’re too angry and it’s not an effective strategy, completely missing that we’re not strategizing; we’re really this angry — even me, a 49 year old lesbian who lives in San Francisco and has a good job. I’m so furious I often can’t sleep, can’t eat, and sometimes I shake with rage.
You keep telling us we need to reach out and build bridges to the religious right. Do you really think there is any point at all in telling us we need to reach out to homophobes and bigots, to the people who run the churches that abuse our youth and shove us out the doors, that have brainwashed our parents into rejecting us, that tell us they “love” us while they knife us in the hearts with their laws?
Why don’t you tell them to reach out to us? We’re the ones who have been wronged and harmed, disenfranchised, electro-shocked, had our kids taken away in ugly custody battles, lost our homes when our partner died, been thrown out of the hospital rooms of our lovers, had wills overturned and benefits denied. We’re the ones who had our equality thrown up for a popular vote, and whose rights are denied us in the constitutions of 29 states. Telling us to reach out to them is like saying battered women need to reach out to their abusers, or children to the priest who molested them.
You lecture us not to hold this against Obama, but newsflash: at least for me, this has nothing to do with Obama. I knew he was regressive on my rights when I supported him; he always was, as was every viable presidential candidate. I also knew he had some weird idea that his religious beliefs were some valid explanation or even justification for his views on my civil rights. I’d like to see a Democrat get elected who can be for marriage equality and doesn’t have to be a devout Christian, but I live in the reality based community and none, absolutely none, of this was any kind of surprise to me. I’m not a sulking scorned supporter who thinks Obama owes me something, and my support for him has not changed.
No, the people I’m mad at are some of YOU. I’m angry at your ignorance of our lives, for your complete lack of understanding of what a claim for equality under the law is, for telling us to shut up or quiet down or stop being angry or stop making trouble for the progressive movement or stop drawing negative attention to our party or Obama.
You call yourself a progressive and swear you’re not a bigot? Well, if you’re not with us, completely in support of our full and unconditional equality with straight citizens including marriage equality, then you’re a progressive who’s also a bigot — even if your bigotry is a side-effect of your religion. And when bigots give advice to the people against whom they are bigoted, it is, at best, a form of concern-trolling. Your advice is not about us and our real best interests; it’s about you.
So stop. Just stop telling us not to be angry or hurt or so emotional. This happened to us. It damages us. It reminds us of our pain, which many of us put behind us at great personal cost. I have lost dozens of friends to suicide, alcoholism, and depression. I’ve lost friends to gay bashing, and to a disease that ran unchecked and ignored because it “only” killed fags. I live in San Francisco, and there are huge parts of this city I wouldn’t feel safe holding my girlfriend’s hand. Do you not understand what it’s like to live like that?
If you can’t stand with us, at least have the grace to stop giving us advice, advocating our
silence, lecturing us about our behavior, or telling us who and what we are.
What we do as a movement now is in our hands, and those of our allies. If you’re not one of them, shut up and get out of the way.

Can I get a SING OUT LOUISE!!!!!

And speaking of the less-than-Magic Negro, there’s THIS ITEM about one Elizabeth Allen, an African-American poet who has been called upon to versify for the noe-less-than-august occasion.

To prepare, she has delved into W. H. Auden, particularly his “Musée des Beaux Arts”

Whoops, a FAG!

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W. H. Auden
“About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

Yes Wystan knew quite a lot about suffering. Hell, it was all over his face!

“Paul Muldoon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who teaches at Princeton and is poetry editor of The New Yorker, said he guessed that Ms. Alexander was chosen on “literary merit.” He said her work “addresses a wide range of issues with terrific complexity.”
And Ms. Angelou said that when she heard of Ms. Alexander’s selection, she smiled. “She seems much like Walt Whitman,” she said. “She sings the American song.”

Whoops — ANOTHER FAG! (And a fave of Jeff’s and John’s to boot.)

“IN paths untrodden,
In the growths by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish’d, from the pleasures,
profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul,
Clear to me now standards not yet publish’d, clear to me that
my soul,
That the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades,
Here by myself away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk’d to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash’d, (for in this secluded spot I can respond as
I would not dare elsewhere,)
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet
contains all the rest,
Resolv’d to sing no songs to-day but those of manly attachment,
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing hence types of athletic love,
Afternoon this delicious Ninth-month in my forty-first year,
I proceed for all who are or have been young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.”

Yes we all know what comrades need — don;t we now Walt.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Ferran has the last word.

I cannot sit here idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.” — Dr. King, 16 April 1963

The news of your choice to honor Rick Warren with the privilege of delivering your inaugural Invocation — on a day that so many of us worked for with every wit, penny or hope we had — has caused more pain and sadness than you can imagine. Because any invocation that issues from Rick Warren cannot be an appeal to a higher power’s blessing but a conjuring of the basest spirits plaguing and dividing the American people.

While you may be right that the American people and in particular, that your supporters are “noisy, diverse and opinionated’, Mr. Obama, civil rights are not an opinion. Civil rights is not one side of a balanced disagreement and it was saddening beyond expression to hear you frame the rightful and widespread recoiling from your choice in this way. Contrary to the headlines, it’s not only the gay community that has been hurt by this choice to showcase Warren. It is also women like me who believe our choice is inherent and who seek to safeguard it for our daughters. It’s also those of us who will never countenance anti-Semitism no matter the fount, and especially those of us who will never agree to the idea that there are some people in our society who are not fully human and so, whose life and dignity are somehow available as a bargaining chip in political negotiations.

The GLBT community has been made, unfairly, to bear the brunt of the opposition to Mr. Warren. Warren is a Dominionist, an extreme ideology associated with white supremacy, with homophobia, with anti-Semitism, with misogyny and with the intrusion of radical right wing religious views on our secular democracy. If the repudiation of Mr. Warren and his views is being labeled “gay” at the moment, then anyone who supports the Constitution and equal rights must also be gay by that measure. Mr. Obama, it seems that as people of conscience, many of us are proudly gay right now.

“This is our time”. At some point soon, we will come to the understanding that “social conservatism” is a euphemism, code for “public discrimination we still accept”. Because “social conservatism” has nothing to do with conservatism or with civil society. It is an implicit packaging of a group of bigotries that we as a nation still allow to pass as acceptable in our democratic society. “Social conservatism” is a rubric that allows racists to face the light of day and to openly pray for harm to come to women and to gay people. We accept that these bigotries are fanned in radical churches much as anti-American sentiment is fanned in radical madrasas. We accept them to be broadcast in public, too, just as open racism once was. The agency that a woman has over her body or that a gay person has over their life are now both more commonly accepted targets. To our shame, we have normalized these hatreds and accept them as “social” and “conservative” when they are anti-social and destructive.
Normalizing this group of institutionalized bigotries is what Rick Warren does for a living.
I can’t know why you chose Warren but, with respect, it cannot be as a credible gesture of unity. The authoritarian right reads all such gestures as surrenders and surely you know that. Reaching out to Warren and all he stands for (all that he advocates, anyway, in his cottage industry of division and disrespect) is to reach out to discrimination and so, to exclusion — the antithesis of the purpose you describe. One of the very particular delights in your candidacy was a pleasure in your nimble intelligence, education and sweeping empathy. It’s exactly because of such bright promise that seeing you embrace this destructive man and hearing you invoke “inclusion” is particularly painful. How can it be our moment when the man you’ve chosen to hail an Almighty advocates against the human dignity of so many? Adding that negative man to our national celebration is clearly subtraction, not addition.

It may be that the American people have for once surprised even you, Mr. Obama. It may be that for once, we’re a little ahead of your estimation in our appreciation and in our respect for our fellow citizens and so, can calmly and rationally tell you: Rick Warren cannot possibly represent us well enough to summon any greater spirit of peace and strength and unity from his toxic, public positions of dehumanizing exclusion and ofdivision. Especially not on the one day every four years when we yearn most to cohere as a people. I hope coming to know we’re a little better than we seem to be, noisy and diverse and opinionated as we are, is not an unwelcome surprise to you.

On the night of your election, you reminded us that what we had achieved was only a chance to effect change. While you seem to be saying your goal is to bring us together as a nation, trading political cover to discrimination cannot result in unity. On the contrary, it’s the premature precluding, the closing off of our hard won chance. That surely is the old politics that you so often dismissed on the stump. As Dr. King said in a letter you might recognize, “I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.”

May you see the wisdom of that affirmation anew so all Americans can share the joy of your inauguration on that so long awaited day.

Bob Dylan (with an assist from Todd Haynes) will sing us out.