Daily Archives: August 19, 2010

Jim Crow

That was then.

This is now.

Could he be any clearer? How about when he says it right to our faces? How many times do we have to be kicked, spat and shat on before we get the picture?

Hey, let’s stop counting. The KAPOS will never believe that He’s just not that into us.

One of the most contentious issues discussed was President Barack Obama’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“It was the only time where I felt the temperature go up in the room,” Kenny said. “Part of it is that these are the people who have been leading the fight at the state level [against the marriage amendments] so they have passions that are perhaps not reflected by all LGBT people.”
Broaddus agreed.
“I don’t think [his position] is satisfying to any of us who support full equality for LGBT people,” she said. “You can’t support equality for LGBT people but not marriage for LGBT people.”

Can I get a “Well DUH!!!!” ?

In the new comedy-drama Get Low, Robert Duvall plays an aged hermit who emerges from decades of backwoods isolation in order to stage his own funeral. He’s not actually dying, you see, he simply wants to hear what everyone has to say about him in advance. In any number of ways being a gay American in 2010 is lot like this. No we’re not a pack irascible old coots. We’re all sorts of people trying our best to live honest lives as best we can. Moreover the ceremony we want to have isn’t funeral — its a wedding. But in the wake of Prop 8 and the ongoing battle to have it overturned, we’re hearing what Duvall’s hermit wanted to hear — over and over in exhaustive detail.

True for the better part of our lives we’ve faced a ton and a half of insults of a far more dire nature from school bullies attacking us in the hallways to parents tossing us out of the house. But it’s quite unique to have our lives and loves dismissed with “polite” disdain by something called the National Organization for Marriage and any number of “Conservative” pundits with an anti-gay axe to grind, the most recent being former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese on the pages of the “Liberal” Washington Post. Meanwhile actor Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend David Burtka have announced that though unmarried they are about to become the fathers of twins via an artificially inseminated surrogate in October.

Speaking as a gay man of 63 years of age I never in my wildest dreams imagined we’d come to this pass. When I came of age in the 1960’s being “openly” gay was utterly avant-garde. Anti-“sodomy” statutes were in full effect and those that chose to live in defiance of them were select in the extreme. Back then honest gayness meant belonging to a band of outsiders, complete with its own language, rituals and modes of social congress. The sole alterative was “the closet,” that system of disguise and denial the majority took refuge in against a culture that not only disapproved of us but sought our eradication though religion, prison, psychiatry and pre-frontal lobotomy. Moreover if your gayness was known you could lose your job — without any legal recourse to fight back. No wonder then that the chief activity of the Gay Liberation movement wasn’t simply to change the laws but to get closeted gays and lesbians to “come out.”

And then came AIDS.

When the epidemic hit in the early 1980’s many thought this was the literal end. Not only were our friends sick and dying by the score, President Reagan didn’t see fit to
even mention that fact. But as that irrepressible wisenheimer Friedrich Nietzsche once quipped “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” And from the wreckage of AIDS surviving gays not only transformed the community — ACT-UP rousing us from the horror to force an indifferent culture to take life-saving action an invent new drugs — it transformed our lives as well. AIDS made clear that “the closet” was no place to live one‘s life. Likewise being a free-wheeling sybarite was no longer the gay ideal. Serious “long-term relationships” were what mattered. And what could be more “long-term” than marriage.

No, I’m not going to run through the usual arguments pro and con. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years you’ve heard them all before. All I want to do is mention what happened to me the other day when the good/bad news came down. The good was that appeals to Judge Walkers ruling in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger were being “fast-tracked” the Ninth Circuit court of appeal. The bad was that no same-sex marriages would be taking place in the immediate future. Cheered and depressed at the same time, I switched the channel and found Four Weddings and a Funeral playing on AMC.

That 1993 British “Rom-Com” classic made Hugh Grant a superstar, while translating into a modern idiom much of the fun of classics of the past like The Philadelphia Story and It Happened One Night. What it had that they didn’t was a gay couple who go to all the weddings of their pals without ever expecting one of their own. And that’s where the funeral came in. No it wasn’t AIDS that killed the cheery Gareth (played by the actually gay Simon Callow) but his death had much the same impact. A fortiori at the funeral in question his lover Matthew (played by the actually straight John Hannah) read “Funeral Blues” — a lovely bit of verse by the really gay W.H. Auden.

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good. “

The impact of this poem was such as to inspire a run on Auden, and make a generation of straights sit up and take notice of the gays in their midst — whose unmarried couplings were often stronger than that of those who find no difficulty in getting a license and an Elvis impersonator to have them say “Til death do us part” — even if a parting came well before the grave.

The fight for same-sex marriage is a “long-term relationship,” as “in sickness or in health” we’re not giving up. For there’s not a single clock that anyone can stop. Nor a pseudo-chef like Barry Obama with all his blather about “The Mix.”

What “mix”?

Bisquick? Is that ordained by The Big Invisible Bi-Polar Daddy Who Lives in The Sky ?

Sing us out Raul