Wednesday, September 24
by Sue on Wed 24 Sep 2008 10:54 AM EDT
Clay Aiken came out. On the cover of People magazine. I know a lot of folks are rolling their eyes, but I've been thinking about all those middle aged ladies who like to listen to Clay. People tend to idealize their cultural heros, so I'm suspecting a lot of "Christian" wimmin are spinning him from scary gay man into doting father who is gay and has a beautiful voice. Like the hairdresser. The choir director. You get my drift.
Pam Spaulding has a term in an excellent post about John McCain .... "professional anti-gay personal homosexualist" In other words, a person who is personally okay with the gays in his or her circle, but publicly supports discrimination by opposing gay marriage, ENDA, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, GSAs, etc, etc, etc.
This is a common phenomenon here in Pittsburgh. My family, for example, treat me very well and have embraced Ledcat into our lives. They purchase us identical holiday gifts. They always include her in gatherings, both large and small. They do not ask us to hide our relationship in front of the children. But that's different, in their minds, from voting to extend civil rights to all homosexuals. There's a difference.
My neighbors are the same way. No one ripped down our rainbow windsock. They sort of choke on the words to describe our relationship "Your .. umm ... friend ... said you would buy candy for our fundraiser." They wave to us and come trick or treating to our door. They would provide assistance in an emergency. Pretty much the modern neighbor relationship. None of them would wish us harm as individuals, but there is no support for us as a group (I've heard the chat and it is about "them" not "us" if you know what I mean).
Finally, there is the slew of socially conservative politicians known as Democrats here in Southwestern PA. The ones who way back in 2006 voted to amend the constitution of our state to ban gay marriage and civil unions. The vast majority who had to play a very screwy game of "I'm for this version, so I can be against the real issue" to defend us. Two years later, the legislation stalled so I suppose that's progress. Our Mayor accepts gay contributions to his campaign, but has yet to follow through on promises to gay up his administration with a LGBT liaison and LGBT advisory board. Owners of bars and taverns and inns who take gay dollars, but targeted a significant ally of our as payback for voting against their interest.
All of these folks -- the House Reps, the Mayor, the owners of the bars -- like the private relationships with the homosexuals -- they have gay friends, gay donors and, probably, gay relatives -- but their public agendas are anathema to our community.
So, we cannot be content with this dichotomy. It is not okay. We should not be celebrating stalled legislation. We should not be content that privileged gays -- typically, those with money and connections -- have access and the buffer of their privilege to spare them the indignities everyday homos endure. The burden is on us to push through this "professional anti-gay personal homosexualist" mentality and unpack the hypocrisy.
The truth is that there are gays -- mostly upper-upper-middle class, white businesspersons -- who are going to vote for McCain. The economic gains they will see from his Administration cushion the fallout from his anti-gay rhetoric. They aren't going to serve in the military. They have money to pay for health insurance. They can afford enough lawyers to deal with bureaucratic red tape. These are the Robert Traynhams of the world -- remember him? The gay man working for Santorum.
Clay Aiken is a new father so his attention should rightly be on his young child. I hope that he moves along the Ellen continuum and uses his celebrity -- his relationships -- to connect his fans with the issues that impact their personal gays.
Tuesday, September 23
by Sue on Tue 23 Sep 2008 02:33 PM EDT
Well, I'm soon off for my Vacation Day 2 Adventure -- a much delayed, highly anticipated "coffee" with Bram of The Pittsburgh Comet. We are meeting at Amani International Coffeehouse on the Northside. Amani is in between webpages, so I can't post a working link. I have been rah-rahhing Steel City Stonewall to hold an event at Amani because they are smoke free, have delish food and a large television. I am going through a big cable envy phase. It will pass as soon as I get my first gas bill for the autumn.
Other items on my fun to do list this week include a massage with hot stones, lunch with my friend Amy, a debriefing with my therapist who does not look like Barbra Streisand, a much overdue oil change and farmers' market date with my friend Adrienne. Plus, enjoying my first ever pedicure. My toes are blue!
Less fun on the agenda includes cleaning out my closets (not the Eminem version), washing the pile of jackets the cat slept on all summer, scrubbing the litter boxes, and replacing all the dog bedding. Fun, fun, fun ...
by Sue on Tue 23 Sep 2008 10:20 AM EDT
Oh, those naughty little penguins and their homosexual desires. I know this post is going to attract at least 37 google searches desperate to identify a homosexual tidbit about a professional hockey player, but I am referring to "And Tango Makes Three" which topped the charts of the book most often challenged in school and public libraries. It among others will be recognized this coming October 2 during the ACLU's Banned Book Week celebration.
Tango is about two male penguins who build a family together. A zookeeper gives them a fertilized egg and ... poof! they raise little Tango to be a healthy, well-adjusted penguin.
I have to work on October 2, so I cannot attend. This is an important issue, especially since Sarah Palin has demonstrated that she's no friend to Tango. Please try to attend and stand up for freedom of expression. It is imperative that we tolerate expression we find incongruent with our personal beliefs and values in order to foster an ongoing healthy public discourse.
Whenver the topic of banning books comes up, I always think of an episode of The Waltons where John-Boy finds a copy of the Bible among a pile of to-be-burned books written in German. I remember thinking to myself that the Bible was available in English -- what about all those other things written in German that might not be translated? Not quite what the writers were going for, but there you have it.
Monday, September 22
by Sue on Mon 22 Sep 2008 04:32 PM EDT
One of our favorite bloggers has just reported that John McCain's Chief of Staff, Mark Buse, is an openly gay man. Mike Rogers has the details.
After I finish shuddering that yet another talented queer person is lending themselves to a virulently anti-gay agenda, I'll be with you. Western Pennsylvania was home to two of 'em ... working for Santorum and Hart. To my knowledge, we have no openly gay people working for Democrats. But then we only have one openly gay Democrat anyway, right? Do two national staffers trump one City Councilman? Hmmm.
Anyway, Mark Rogers and Mike Signorile have all the proof. Buse is a big flaming homo. Mark suggests that the American LGBTQ community take action to thank the right wingnuts for supporting a candidate with an openly gay senior staff person. Actually, that's not a bad idea.
Granted, it shouldn't be a big deal. And there are those who fear this will spin McCain as an inherently decent gay-friendly guy who hires one talented, educated white gay man even as he votes against what's good for the rest of us. Like marriage and employment protections and immigration rights. And serving openly in the military. Yes, there probably are people who will use this as a reason to vote their pocketbook. If they still have one.
Others worry that this is the sort of sexual witch hunt that we deplore. Who cares who Buse is sleeping with! Except, that he's sort of having his cake and eating it, too. That's not okay with me.
Finally, there's the argument that no one cares. That no one cared abour Robert Traynham (Santorum's gay). Except Santorum lost. So maybe some people did care that he was a big fat hypocrite.
Homos working for McCain are like women working for Palin. WTF?
by Sue on Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:33 PM EDT
Last week, I posted a little banner to help generate some donations for Bitch magazine -- my favorite (and among Ledcat's top 5). While the little weiner dog indicator doesn't seem to work, the good news is that they met their fundraising goal in 3 days! The flip side is that independent voices in the print media are going to continue struggling without our help. I took down the dog-mometer b/c it isn't accurate, but please consider Bitch when making your donation decisions.
by Sue on Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:22 PM EDT
Here are some articles I would like to read in the City Paper. In no particular order.
1. Who are the Flower People? You know them. They walk up and down the lanes of traffic at busy intersections, hawking flowers. There is one older gentleman along Penn Avenue. I want to buy flowers b/c I feel sad that someone has to do something so risky to earn a living. But I never have cash and usually get the light. So I drive off wondering who he is and how he came to sell flowers. There used to be a woman at the intersection of Penn and Fifth Avenue, but she disappeared one day. What happened to her? The guy selling flowers at the insection of Allegheny River Blvd and Washington Boulevard wore the same outfit every single day and seemed fearless in traffic. What is his story?
2. Profile of the Apple Guy at the Farmer's Market (Northside). The gentleman with the white mustache who offers everyone a free slice. His fruit is delishus and his cider - so tangy. His lines grow longer and longer. One of my coworkers wonders if he's married. What is the secret to his appeal? Where is his orchard? Does he have any recipes to share?
3. Can anyone save Century III Mall? Is it destined to become the next Eastland?
Is there anything you'd like to see the City Paper explore? Send me your ideas. Or send them to Chris Potter. He doesn't get nearly enough email.
I'm going to go wait for Gab Bonesso to post her review of her show and watch Young & the Restless. Then I might get my first ever pedicure. Maybe. These are my planned activities during vacation instead of spying on dumpers in the field behind my house and moving stuff around the attic in a futile attempt to convince Ledcat I've been productive.
by Sue on Mon 22 Sep 2008 11:07 AM EDT
The Post-Gazette's "Next Page" featured a fascinating article on the implementation of deliberative polling around marriage issues.
My interpretation of this process is that it strives to create an informed voter, rather than create systemic changing dialogue grounded in consensus.
Sounds interesting. Proponents of gay-rights have long argued that when our opponents get to know us, they will experience our issues in a personal way that should overcome the us/them dichotomy.
Saturday's event is sort of an all-day education session. Participants have homework, they engage in small groups and they learn the facts about the history of marriage in our culture. I'm going to read that booklet myself. At the end of the day, participants will be polled for their individual views, not a collective decision. That polling data will be made public.
The poll is designed to have a policy impact, presumably by turning out informed voters (and informing their networks). I wonder about the choice of this issue. Neither Presidential candidate is in favor of gay marriage and the issue is fairly dormant in Pennsylvania. Equal protection would seem more fitting since it has legislative life. However, those pesky State House elections remind us of the importance of retaining as many progressive reps as possible. As progressive as Pennsylvania goes.
This strikes me more as an intellectual exercise on a hot button issue, but not necessarily a Pennsylvania issue.
Sunday, September 21
by Sue on Sun 21 Sep 2008 12:40 PM EDT
Last night, Ledcat and I stayed up very late to go see John McIntire's show at a new season of Late Night Cabaret at Theater Square. It was a fun evening with lots of snark and wonderful off the cuff comments. And in the great Pittsburgh tradition, the panel on sexism and racism included three straight white guys (with the host) and one straight black guy. No women. No women (including me to be fair) even asked a question. One woman did some heckling from the audience. I think we know how that discussion came down.
Actually, the conversation was thoughtful and the lone Republican was a very good sport (and very, very smart). I could listen to Chris Potter and Tony Norman agree with each other all evening. It would be great if they added a woman for the November performance. I nominate Maria from 2 PJs.
The most magnificent moment from the entire evening was Gab Bonesso's performance. I love her to pieces and think she's hysterical and edgy and brilliant. Last night, she transcended her comfort zone and demonstrated the potential to do amazing political comedy. She gave a layered performance that drew on her underground comedy themes with a deft political twist. I'm not all suggesting she should abandon her stoner fanbase (relax, shlubs), but she clearly has the talent to walk through the abortion-joke gasp to find that one single a ha moment of humor and observation. I cannot aptly descibe that type of comedy, but I did read about it in Rolling Stone. I wanted to stand up and cheer, because she did not "tone down" her stuff last night ... she went in a different provacative direction. That's the talent of a woman who has stuff to say.
John did a good job with her first venture into cabaret and, hopefully, we'll see more of this. I like smart comedy.
by Sue on Sun 21 Sep 2008 12:23 PM EDT
Today's Post-Gazette includes a reflection from a member of Calvary Episcopal Church on the impending vote of the local diocese to leave the US branch and join a more conservative branch. It is very flourishy, too much so for a beautiful late summer Sunday in the sense that I prefer to go for a drive to look at covered bridges and enjoy my time with Ledcat rather than rail further against yet another example of religious intolerance and bigotry.
I will say that the essay rightfully questions the motivation of Bishop Duncan and his ilk. Is the homosexual/female ordination question really the cause of such a drastic rip in the very fabric of the worldwide church? Or is an excuse for a power grab?
If that latter, it does not absolve Duncan and his merry minions of their responsibility for sowing intolerance and hatred into the hearts (and actions) of the faithful. If they indeed are not true believers, perhaps their culpability for hateful actions infused with theocratic righteousness is even weightier. That's not my call to make.
I do urge you to read the reflection. Then go outside and enjoy the only real evidence that God has walked among us this holiest of weekdays -- the loveliness of a September afternoon.
Saturday, September 20
by Sue on Sat 20 Sep 2008 10:49 AM EDT
Two articles in today's Post-Gazette caught my attention.
First, the ongoing drama of the Pittsburgh Episcopals. First, the local diocese decides to vote themselves off the American Episcopal Church island over the ordination of woman and gays. A few Pittsburgh churches stay on the island. Then the island itself (American Church - stay with me) debishops the Pittsburgh Bishop, Robert Duncan. Then some worldwide dioceses headed by a truly heinous man, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, deemed Duncan a "martyr" and welcomed him and his merry flock of bigots to their island.
All that's left is more finger pointing and the sorting out of the diocesan possessions. What a nasty, ugly divorce this has been and too bad for the kids.
One does not, however, have to look too far for the fallout of this type of theocratic driven intolerance and hatred. Just flip to this story in the Post-Gazette of a 75 year old man who was murdered by an 18 year old young man. Guess what brought them together?
Now here's the thing. Mr. Jones was a 75 year respected businessman from a prominent family. Why is he trolling for sex with an 18 year old? How on earth does a 75 year old get to the point that he picks up a practical child to have sex? There are tons of ways he could be having sex in a healthy, constructive manner even with 18 year men-children. On the flip side, what's going on with Mr. Mowry's self-loathing? Beating an old man to death with a candlestick to steal $400? After using himself as bait? What?
It is a lurid, horrific tale that I'm sure the Episco-bigots could spin three ways to Tuesday to describe why gay people are immoral. I choose to look at this tragedy as a consequence of a society and societal institutions -- LIKE CHURCHES -- that promote this distorted perspective on homosexuals and promulgate the self-loathing that was coursing through the veins of these two men.
While Bishop Duncan and the members of his former diocese are not directly to blame for the obviation of these two men, there is certainly some culpability in the fact of their outright rejection of Bishop Gene Robinson's homosexual identity. It sends a message to the entire community that you think we are second class citizens, folks. And you bear some moral responsibility for that message. Because it is your example that parents invoke when they boot their 17 year old gay son out on the street. It is your example in the minds of young men who beat up two men for looking queer. Your example that underscores the hisses of "dyke" when women who don't conform to gender normative behavior walk across the parking lot of the Waterfront.
You all may be good church going, God-fearing people who would never lay a hand on another individual or deny a child a place to lay his head at night. But the tremendous amount of energy you have put into this message of hatred and intolerance has forever scarred American faith communities. You can run away to Nigeria and seek refuge with other defenders of a faith that condemns human beings for simply being gay. Your self-righteous hate may protect you from remorse or regret.
But who is protecting the next William Jones? Or the next Anthony Mowry?