THEATRE REVIEWS: “Mothers and Sons”

mothers and sons marqueeMothers and Sons, by Terrence McNally, starring Tyne Daly, Frederick Weller, Bobby Steggert, Grayson Taylor, at The Golden Theatre [CLICK HERE FOR OFFICIAL SHOW SITE AND TICKETS]

Full disclosure: (Why can’t I ever write a review without a Full Disclosure?) Bobby Steggert is from my home town, where I still (again) live, Frederick, Maryland and though he and I never worked together — which is some sort of weird miracle – I taught virtually everyone in his age group and cohort while he lived here, we shared a singing teacher, and some of my best friends and dearest children are his actual friends though we were never introduced prior to this weekend after I saw this show.

I have long loved the work of Terrence McNally and Tyne Daly, so when it came time to choose shows for my birthday wish list, Mothers and Sons was a no brainer. From the moment the curtain rose, exposing a beautiful New York apartment and Tyne Daly as Katharine, wrapped in the armor of her second-hand, full length fur and Frederick Weller as Cal, wearing clothes and mien that communicated without question that he had not been expecting any visitors, this one in particular, I was riveted by the artistry and construction of this piece of theatre — No, not just theatre, but, even more importantly, History. Capital H, History.

Long story short, Katharine is the mother of Cal’s deceased lover, the son she never fully accepted. Cal is now married to the fifteen years younger Will and they have a son. Katharine, recently widowed, has ostensibly come to return to Cal her dead son’s journal that Cal long ago sent to her, a journal neither has yet read. But there is, of course, much more going on, and much more at stake.

I know (and hope) that it will someday soon be inconceivable to people, both gay and straight, what it was like to be a gay man during the 20th century — specifically the 1960’s through the early 2000’s — and I fervently pray that some day the ways we define and limit people by gender and the gender of those to whom they are attracted is a distant memory. I am the sort of Pollyanna who wants to think that we will achieve a Utopian world in which gender race age religion size etcetera will be details that have nothing to do with how we are seen or what we are allowed, that the ONLY thing that will matter is the quality of one’s soul. I want to think that.

But it isn’t so now and it certainly wasn’t so in recent history. And being a gay man and living through the age of AIDS (which, by the way, isn’t over yet) and the indignities and the hate and the perfectly legal and — even — expected and accepted by the mainstream discrimination was a horror from which I do not expect ever to actually recover.

And I certainly won’t forget it. And the generations to come should not forget it either. We need to know the history. When Cal speaks McNally’s words about the horrors of AIDS and having been gay during that era some day being a quaint footnote in history books, I sobbed without shame. I sobbed because — like Cal and his dead lover, I too fought a fight the details of which will never be known. I spent my life changing minds one by one, and in the middle of it had to spend years in fear that who I loved, how I loved, might have been a death sentence, watching my peers and my cohort die and watching as government did NOTHING for YEARS to ease the ache, the pain, nothing to stop the disease.

Attention — as another playwright once said — must be paid. Mr. McNally pays it, in spades, and without polemic or lecture or judgment. He tells a story that tells the story. And Katharine is not unlike many people I have known, basically good, decent, loving people whose fear and ignorance caused them to be cruel, to offer silence where they ought to have offered love, who thought they had the right to judge and sometimes, even, the obligation to judge.

The world is still full of Katharines. And we do ourselves no favors — we who have been judged because of our genders ages colors religions sexualities and labels ad infinitum — by hating Katharines. We must strive NOT to judge as they have, but, rather, to understand. Not to be silent and accept their ignorance or hate, but to see beyond it, to change minds with love.

Mr. McNally does so with his work. I honor him and his journey and his experience and the ways in which he has shared it with us.

Mothers and Sons John Golden Theatre

Bobby Steggert, Grayson Taylor, Frederick Weller, Terrence McNally, Tyne Daly

As for this production, I stopped weeping long and often enough to laugh and appreciate it. Funny. Touching. Well wrought and constructed. Tyne Daly is a glorious presence, her eyes transparent screens to her soul. She plays a woman who might be called despicable and makes you want to embrace her, and yet Ms. Daly does not pander nor soften the sharp, unloving edges of the character, she simply reveals in moments of such clarity and insight this woman’s fear and loneliness and anger that she has never, herself, been seen.

Frederick Weller was me in many ways. An older gay man, still enmeshed in what it was and how it was before, amazed and abashed and astonished at how it is now, and still not quite sure in which of those worlds he really belongs. I thought the manner in which he radiated his love for the younger Will, and his surprise at that love, and his gratitude, and yet his reticence to really believe it, somehow still connected to what was, was simply brilliant and lovely and sad and moving.

And Mr. Steggert, well, yes. He was. He simply and truly was. That he was playing a novelist with no novel yet, ha, that was enough for me. On top of that he managed, somehow, to radiate the energy of a younger gay man who is impatient with the past, with the history, but still, a little in love with it — well, he turned what could have been a caricature — a role that might have come off in lesser hands as a symbol rather than a person — into a living, breathing, I would like to marry him too human being. Lovely work. (Let me add that I also had the honor of seeing Mr. Steggert on the closing night of Big Fish in which he was equally marvelous. Believe me, if you lived in Frederick, as do I, you would be bursting with pride — and you — unlike me, did NOT get to see Mr. Steggert as Joseph many years ago in that Lloyd Webber Dreamcoat thing. So, there!)

In short — though not so short, really — I laughed, I cried, I recognized, I gasped, I argued along, I grasped at the hope, I saw the past, I envisioned the future, I thought, I remembered, I experienced along with Cal and Will and Katharine and Bud (the son) all the ups and downs and ins and outs that Katharine’s visit brought about.

Katharine, mother of Andre. Because, in the end, we must all find those who see us not just as someone’s mother or son or lover or any other label-ed thing, but, indeed, as someone with a name.

We must all be seen and have our names spoken to us, with love, with appreciation of who we are.

I am Charlie. And here I am, going. Thank you for reading me.

Please, go see this play.

 

 

READING: BITTER EDEN by Tatamkhulu Afrika

Bitter EdenBitter Eden is not an easy book to read. That is, I realize, a difficult start to an essay meant to encourage you to give this book its chance to touch your heart. But, it is my truth, however difficult and not easy that may be, as this novel was the truth of Tatamkhulu Afrika’s life.

Now, I had never heard of Tatamkhulu Afrika when this book was brought to my attention; here is his bio, from the publisher’s website [you can CLICK HERE to visit the USMacmillan booksite for Bitter Eden]:

Tatamkhulu Afrika was born in Egypt in 1920 of an Arab father and a Turkish mother. He was brought to South Africa in 1923, orphaned, and raised by Christian foster parents. He served in World War II in the North African Campaign, and was a POW for three years in Italy and Germany. At the age of seventeen he published a novel in Great Britain entitled Broken Earth, but did not write again for fifty years. Bitter Eden was first published when he was eighty years old. He died in December 2002.

This is where I ought to offer a synopsis of the novel. Ought to. But, how? Do I share the surface action? Narrator Tom (Tatamkhulu) is a heteronormative WWII POW who finds  himself stalked by Douglas, a man harshly judged for his feminine characteristics, with whom he becomes close, until a typically macho fellow, Danny, becomes his prison mate. How Tom survives the dangers and challenges of his journey through the exclusively male energy and company of POW camps is a startlingly prescient apologue for the state of male interaction in modern times in ways that sucker punched and gut kicked me.

Many reviewers have remarked on the lyrical and poetic nature of Afrika’s prose. Indeed. But, not easy. The syntax is winding, unfamiliar, its sentence structure and rhythms are unexpected and require careful attention, a willingness to slow down and go back and consider what was meant, what was hidden, what has actually happened behind and beneath and before and within the convolutions of phrasing, to translate the coded language and behaviors specific to the rarefied situations in which the characters are living.

Which is perfect. The characters, too, must make an effort to adjust to this new world into which they have been forced. They discover new parts of themselves, and must somehow integrate those, or not.

For me, like politics, all art is personal. This particular story struck raw nerves on many levels; issues of presumptive heterosexuality and the ways in which those who are not conventionally gender-appropriate are judged and bullied, and, most of all, the challenge of acknowledging and making fit an unexpected love and attraction, one that does not fit easily into the assumptions one has about one’s self, nor the assumptions the world has made about you.

I have loved seemingly-heterosexual-identified men who loved me in return, who were tortured by that love, who — in some cases, assumed it had to have a physical element and were freaked out and ruined by that attraction, and, also, in other cases, those who fought so hard against any element of physical attraction, they felt the need to attack me — physically in some cases, with slander and whispered imprecations in others. In the end, it was those who were certain of their primary physical attraction to the opposite gender who were comfortable having sex with men, because they knew who they were and felt “approved” ultimately by social norms, while, on the other hand, it was those men uncertain of themselves who had internalized cultural homophobic beliefs, who were freaked out at the prospect of physical intimacy with another man.

Such is society. We see now, again and again, those who are most homophobic who justify it and rationalize it by citing the most ridiculous tenets and outrageous lies about homosexuality; to them, every gay person is a sinner, criminal, pedophile, etc, and even in the face of endless evidence that their homophobia is unjustified, the continue to crow and bark and accuse and hate.

And fear.

Bitter Eden was not, I suspect, meant to serve as such an allegory for the dangers of repressed feelings and imprisonment in the constricted, confined worlds  we make. It was, I suspect, the love story Mr. Afrika had lived with his whole life and never been able to tell, or, to recover from. Because he dug to the core of that, told the truth of that, this novel speaks with the searing voice of love possessed, love lost, love acid etched onto the soul forever changing the landscape of the life.

And so, as I said at the start, it is difficult.  Bitter Edens poetry of the perplexity of the dichotomy of passion and deprivation will speak to that part of the reader’s heart where love and loss and memory and sorrow meet. Brilliantly, honestly done.

But, not easy.

I ordered my copy of Bitter Eden at my favorite, local, independent bookseller; THE CURIOUS IGUANA. Click here for their website and visit them (or your local independent bookseller) to have satisfied all of your literary desires. You know the damage repressing your desires will do!

I OBJECT(ify)! 2014-3-21: TAYLOR ELLIS IS MY HERO!

TAYLOR ELLIS IS A HERO [CLICK HERE]

I OBJECT. Taylor Ellis, Arkansas high school student, being excluded from yearbook and being made terrified in his school – by students and administration ALIKE – because he is gay.

Taylor Ellis

Taylor Ellis 2A clearly misinformed and ill-equipped for her job administrator, Brenda Haynes, issued a statement rife with ignorance, the same sort of “excuse-my-bigotry-it’s for the greater good” bull that homophobes and haters have been blathering since time began. I think it would be GREAT if everyone in the world went here: http://www.sheridanschools.org/contact.cfm and, with RESPECT, and ask why Taylor Ellis is being treated with less respect and consideration than heterosexual students and what she intends to do to remedy the bigotry and hate she has encouraged and espoused by her actions, letting her know that the next gay-teen-suicide of a child who has heard about her actions is on her conscience, karma, and soul for having encouraged this ostracizing and fear.

I did.

But I emphasize – AGAIN – I did it with absolute respect. Hate is never an answer. Hate never begets anything but more hate. Let us all take an example from Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy, on the recent passing of a famous promulgator of hate; here – which I was made aware of by JOE. MY. GOD. blog [click here] is her statement:

“Regarding the passing of Fred Phelps, Dennis and I know how solemn these moments are for anyone who loses a loved one. Out of respect for all people and our desire to erase hate, we’ve decided not to comment further.” – Judy Shepard, in a posting on the Facebook page of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard – In Memoriam

Indeed. And, amen. If only people like Brenda Haynes of the Sheridan School District could be made to understand the effect their hatred and ignorance has on the world, maybe they would change. Stand up for Love. Stand up for Taylor Ellis. Again, I plead with you, click on the link below and make your voice heard:

http://www.sheridanschools.org/contact.cfm

 

 

Rainbow Notes: Being Joey … (Luft, that is)

My niece recently told me that she has recently experience a huge “popularity bump” because of me. Her peer group thinks it’s uber-cool that she lives with a (crazy) gay uncle. I intuited the unspoken (crazy) – my niece would never use a label, any label, on anyone, well, perhaps her younger brother. In any event, in an effort to maintain my cred as house homo, resident radical, local loon, I have decided to regularly recount Rainbow Notes; light-hearted, good-time, old-and-new-school remarkings, snarkings, barkings and larkings concerning the tropes of Queer Culture from the erastes and eromenos of ancient Greece to the mod-day diversions of Grindr and “It Gets Better.”

This is all – mind you – an excuse for me to write regularly about Judy Garland without shame. And thus, at the Oscar ceremony this coming Sunday a 75th Anniversary salute to The Wizard of Oz is being scheduled and holy Oscar Fucking Wilde, not just Lorna Luft, not just Liza with a Z (not Lisa with an S, cuz Lisa with an S goes SSS not ZZZ), but ALL THREE OF JUDY’S KIDS – including the almost NEVER seen nor heard from JOEY LUFT – are part of the tribute. I AM RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS! Read the story here at The Hollywood Reporter.

Watch this clip from The Judy Garland show in which Frances Ethel Gumm sings to her son:

And, to add to my recent (as in, yesterday) rant (CLICK HERE TO READ IT – and see naked basketball players!) about Alec Baldwin’s “forgot to check my privilege” screaming fit, click here for a great link to Noah Michelson’s Open Letter to Alec Baldwin. I would especially like the friends of my niece who have been raised in mostly hetero-normative/white privilege and think I’m cool (but a token) and who continue to use words like (I apologize for even typing these)  “bitch” and “nigga” and “faggot” and “gai-bois” as casual patois, to read this and understand why THEY SHOULD STOP USING THOSE WORDS.

Tyler Poset being an ass.

Tyler Poset being an ass.

Speaking of foolish youngsters (and oldsters) using thoughtless language and allowing homophobia to invade their thoughts (not that my own internalized acculturated homophobia doesn’t still get the best of me sometimes), Tyler Posey, once the lead of MTV’s incredibly homo-erotic and queer-centric remake of Teen Wolf until he was replaced in the fan’s hearts by the remarkable Dylan O’Brien, recently started an uproar by his careless disdain for those fans (me included) who are Sterek-obsessed. If you don’t know what that means, this Rainbow Note doesn’t apply to you, so skip ahead.  I’m sure it must rankle Posey that O’Brien has become a cult-figure, gotten leads in huge films, and seems to be taking off in ways that Posey is not as an actor. Still, that is no reason to denigrate the interests of what is obviously a huge fan-base, a fan-base powerful enough to get O’Brien made into the main character this season – and, worse, to do so using language that has long been “coded” as anti-Queer. Think before you speak, Posey. (And everyone else.)

And, finally, I’ve been the gay uncle for four decades now, a couple of generations’ worth of uncle-ing it up, and long ago I was – once – even a gay godfather (not in the gay mafia sort of way that Alec Baldwin derides, but, rather, in the actual baptismal font in a Catholic church way) for my fabulous nephew, yep, Joe. Joe is the nephew who now works at the White House and gave me a private tour one day ( READ ABOUT IT HERE). YES, HE DOES. I have BEGGED and PLEADED with him to keep the gig until Hillary gets there, because I HAVE GOT TO MEET HER. He laughed. In fear. Because, you know, when you work in the White House, sometimes having a CRAZY gay uncle is not quite as beneficial as it is when in high school. LOL. When I was still singing, I always meant to sing Happiness is Just A Thing Called Joe, as did Ms. G in the above clip – but, I never did.

tin man cropDamn. Don’t get me started on things I should have done and songs I should have sung (which was the name for my aborted cabaret evening – alas) because I will turn into melancholy baby, and, frankly, already uncomfortably close today. Later, heading over the rainbow – meaning, to the locker room and sauna at the gym in search of the TinMan.

Later . . . oh, and watch out for that bicycle riding harridan . . .

Nothing but NET (basketball, neutrality, and nutcases)

NET THING ONE: That gay basketball stuff

Yes, Jason Collins was signed by and played for the Brooklyn Nets making him the first active, openly gay player in pro sports. Woo-hoos in order indeed.

Still, not to be paranoid, but I’ve been around long enough to know how these sorts of things go and I worry that if openly gay men start getting signed by pro athletic teams, we’ll be forced to start allowing openly straight men in musical theatre.

And, frankly, I don’t want gay men to start influencing sports too much, because, you know, we’ll make it all interesting and exciting and next thing you know:

basketball naked 2 Basketball naked Blurred

– I’ll be forced to watch.

NET THING 2: That neutrality/Comcast and Verizon are about to ruin our lives some more thing

Once upon a time … not that long ago, a person couldn’t access endless, uninterrupted hours of bootleg television, movies, theatre, and most-important, blowjobs and bukkake on one’s laptop and cellphone. The on-line experience was about waiting (and waiting and waiting and…) for sites and images to load. And videos? Forget it. A person had to have a “convenient-to-you-but-unlikely-to-be-accessed-by-others” spot in which to store the porn to which one turned for companionship and fun.

Then dial-up died and we said good-bye to that ubiquitous sound of AOL connecting (well, and AOL, mostly, although I am still Luddite enough to have kept that email address) and we went to broadband heaven. It was never going to last.

Welcome to hell.

It was January when a federal court struck down net neutrality, which, long/short, means that companies willing (and able) to pay broadband providers blackmail ransom fees to receive preferential treatment will see their content being streamed quickly and instantly, while those unwilling (or unable) to do so – you know, little bloggers using free sites – like me – and random porn-channelers – will find their content not loading, or, loading at such an antiquated, dial-up like pace as to lose every click and view it might get because no-one used to insta-loads (ha-ha-ha, I said “loads” in a porn story) will be willing to wait for content.

Like I said, hell. And don’t you know, I got rid of all my hard(so to speak)copy porn.

And speaking of broadband and net-neutrality hell issues; I have become crazy-man (shut up) about pop-up ads and force-you-to watch 15 to 30 second vids before being taken to the content you want. I have stopped visiting Salon at all because of this. I have backed off YouTube because of it. And this morning, reading about NetFlix agreeing to pay Comcast (the devils taking us back to hell – along with Verizon, mark my words) to give them preferential streaming – I was assaulted on Gawker/Gizmodo by an ad.

Calling Dante.

I mean, I knew it was too good to be true, but, really? With the amount of money we are monthly paying to access content – as in our phone and wi-fi and cable providers (oh wait, would that be Comcast and Verizon again?) raising rates at levels outpacing healthcare costs, how is it that the service is continuing to become less and less consumer friendly? Oh, right, CAPITALISM.

Like any drug, at first they make it cheap and easy to get and use, then, once you are hooked, they screw the shit out of you.

NET THING 3: I may be a little bit crazy but . . .

… I got nothing on Alec Baldwin. And his screedy-ranting in New York Magazine is just exactly the sort of proof of internalized, acculturate homophobia I have been talking about in this blog SINCE I STARTED WRITING. Alec, trying to prove he’s not homophobic, lashes out and attacks the homos with all sorts of coded talk about mafia and cabals and implications of hidden agendas. You see? He pretended – claimed – convinced himself how NOT-homophobic he was FOR AGES, the whole, “I have gay friends” etc thing, but when life’s going got tough for him and he needed to step up and own those friendships and examine his own behavior and make hard choices – BAM – throw the fags and dykes under the bus.

LISTEN – I have had this VERY EXPERIENCE in my own life with people Baldwin-esque, who claimed to love me, claimed to adore me, claimed to be friend, claimed to be open-minded and horrified by homophobia, who, all along, thought their so-called homo-positivity was  a badge they’d won, something for which they deserved a prize and praise – BUT WHEN THE GOING GOT TOUGH, and they needed to examine their behavior and make some inconvenient choices in support of me – under the bus went this fag, code talk, “oh he’s crazy” etc innuendo, on and on.

If your pet homos are that disposable to you (including the ones in your family) then – guess what – you’re NOT so homo-positive.

Yeah. Well, maybe – like I said – I am a little crazy – but if anyone needs to be caught in a net, it’s the hypocrites and haters who pose as human-positive and then revert to the easy patois of hate and cliché when it’s convenient for them; let’s gather THEM up (and they know who they are – and when they read or hear stuff like this they get all – you know – accusatory and pissed off and say “He’s crazy” or “He’s impossible” or start with the stories about – you know – pick a coded innuendo, any coded innuendo -) and send them to HELL – as in – that circle create by Comcast and Verizon where their music videos, television shows, bootleg movies, music videos, and porn NEVER EVER LOAD.

Bwah-ha-ha! I’ll contact Elton John, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Degeneres, and the other members of the HomoMafia Board of Directors to get this taken care of.

… lines and labels and language and the X factor…

Some time ago I did a post about the word “bitch” ((CLICK HERE TO READ IT)) and why I no longer use it and the cultural biases about gender and sexuality which pervade the language, which are part of the consciousness and vocabulary of perfectly lovely people.

I add to the list of sexist, culturally biased language the phrase “man up” – which I find completely offensive. It is usually used in a way meaning that the person being told to do so is somehow less than and ought – by virtue of fulfilling their masculine potential – to be better, MORE – as if “man” = “better/stronger/braver/more than” – and that is patently ridiculous and biased.

NOW HERE IS THE THING (without discursive caveats – I would not have a blog) – I’m trying NOT to judge.

AND HERE IS THE THING – what do I do with that?

Example: I find people who work against equal rights for all people to be people with whom I do not wish to spend a great deal of time. SO … when Mr. Romney, during the last presidential election, embraced a platform that was anti-gay and anti-woman and anti-most minorities – that ALONE was enough for me to know that I could NEVER vote for him.

But, I know people who did. Now, here’s the thing: they did not vote FOR his anti-equality stances, they voted for his economic plans (which, it could be argued, are – in fact – anti equality; but that’s another discussion) and foreign policy stands.

So, I don’t hate Mr. Romney, but I feel his anti-equality stands mean I could never spend time with him, I don’t want to be around people who embrace such things; but, I do love very much some people who would be around him.

Where’s the line? If you are someone I love and you vote for Mr. Romney – who embraces a platform which espouses the denial of my full humanity and rights – then, what does it say to me about you? Or, how much do I mean to you?

Now, Mr. Romney didn’t target Gays (or women or etc) personally – one by one. He didn’t say, “I want to deny Neil Patrick Harris his right to marry Mr. Burtka and raise their children.”

What if he had? What if someone targets someone you love PERSONALLY; attacks or slanders or sets out to make their life difficult; what do you do?

I have a dear friend (Z) who was treated quite badly by another someone (Y) I know, and when the badness went down, it wasn’t about choosing sides – it was the fact that if Y could treat Z, someone I love, with such vitriol, speak so ill of them, whisper and imply, then, well, I can’t help but believe that should it be beneficial for Y to do so to me – Y’s professed “love” or “affection’ will morph into self-serving spin and I’d find myself under a bus. In this equation, however, I am X.

Now, here’s the thing – since Y did throw Z under a bus, what is my responsibility as X? Everyone thinks they know what went down with Z and Y – and in most cases, they really do NOT – but, I sort of do, and so, if I continue to spend time with Y, or frequent Y’s restaurant, am I not – in some way – approving of Y’s targeting of Z?

If I am a vendor or consumer who benefits financially from continuing with Y – does that change the equation?

And if Y campaigns to win me, dangles carrots and cash, and Z refuses to stoop to “win” such a vote – what then?

These are ethical dilemmas we all face – I think – all the time. Where are our lines when it comes to what is and is not acceptable from others before we need to remove ourselves from their circles – and to what lengths will we go to justify our remaining within the circle of someone who – to whatever degree – has hurt or targeted someone (or some group) we love as “less than” or wrong or bad?

Or am I just too sensitive? A bitch who needs to man up?

Exactly. My. Point.

… it was 26 years ago today … marching on d.c. …

April 2013 5Twenty-six years ago today I marched with some dear friends in Washington, D.C. along with an indeterminate number of people in support of equal rights for everyone regardless of who they loved. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful event, and in the quarter century since, there have been many, many beautiful changes and forward strides toward equality and embrace of all people which have made the world a better, safer, more loving place.

Are we finished? Never. Being alive is about evolution. There will always be ways we can improve – ourselves and the world. But, having fought and pushed and argued and striven for equality and recognition and understanding in ways that were sometimes angry, strident and reactionary to wounds I felt I (and others) had suffered, the very most important thing I have learned is that freedom begins in my individual soul, heart, and mind.

I am more and more careful with my words, with my reactions, and am much more easily shocked by the things people say to and about one another. I have learned now to remain silent – sometimes – at least until my heart stops pounding, until I am breathing normally again and can acknowledge the humanity of all the sides, all the points of view, until I can remind myself that everything – every word, every action, every atom of reality – no matter how heinous, hateful, and incomprehensible I may find it – begins at Love. It may become distorted, twisted, poisoned – but my goal as a human soul, is to always REMEMBER that somewhere – somehow – the initial intent, at the beginning, somewhere in EVERYTHING – there is a seed of Love.

I try NOT to respond until I have ACTIVELY thought that thought. And then, I try to respond FROM that thought.

I fail, every day. But, I’m learning. And still, quite surprised. As in today when I received an anonymous attack which began: “You talk waayyyyyyyyyy to [SIC] much. Why don’t you shut the fuck up.” And went on in that vein. I knew that I should NOT engage, but NOT engaging is difficult for me. So, I did, in a questioning way, saying, “I’m sorry my words caused this response in you but I’m not sure why you think it is incumbent upon you to share that with me. And, it should be ‘too’ not ‘to’.”

You can imagine the vitriol that ensued, including “The world is full of pussy faggots like you” and “Lucky me to get a spelling lesson from a pissed on old queen.”

First of all, no one ever has nor ever will piss on me. Secondly, many a Queen would be insulted to have me added to the ranks. And, old? We know how I feel about old.

It’s 26 years after the march. So, I had to wonder to myself where was the love in this attack? All I saw was sorrow that someone could be so full of hate and anger they had to strike out in such a way, and anonymously? And too, what had I done to encourage such a thing? c blog 3

That’s my sticking point: in those things – the behaviors and words of others with which I have difficulty finding the seed of love – how have I shaped my life to make space for them? How have I allowed them in? And how can I let them (and the people who bring them) go? Is it hubris to think that I can help to heal such disconnect? Certainly I have been burned in the past by my ego telling me I could or should save someone. Who am I to decide someone needs saving? Maybe I should shut the fuck up. (Happy now?)

It’s about evolution. It’s about asking the questions and looking for the Love inside even the hardest, most hurtful situations, and moving on, growing on, becoming on.

Happy Weekend, Friends. And happy loving whomever you love.

 

… fall comes out … the revelations … and acculturated homophobia and sexism …

I love the Fall. I love the cool of it, the beginning of chill, and the changing colors, and the way it promises a slowing, how its downshifting and stripping reminds us that every cycle requires an ending, a purging before rebirth, and too, the endings and purgings have a particular, specific and glorious beauty of their own. Fall: It celebrates with the death-bursts of beautiful hues and experiences unique to this phase of being.

I also love that this reveal, this Fall, is a reminder that the “end” is always present in the “beginning” – those spring buds, those summer leaves, the bold color-statements of the fall fashions before the strip to naked branch, even those empty, resting Winter landscape branches, are all of a piece, all part of the being, the truth of the landscape. The circle.

It is, sometimes, hard to remember when Spring and Summer are in full swing that there will be a Fall and a Winter. It is, sometimes, when one is a Fall person, difficult to remember in the throes of Spring and Summer heat and madness that the Autumn will return and embrace you, that if you look carefully and breathe deeply enough, you can feel it there in the Spring and Summer.

It is, sometimes, difficult to learn – when one is terribly attached to one or another season – to actually appreciate and enjoy the season in which one is living rather than to spend all one’s energy yearning for another time of year.

I love the Fall. It is a comforting season for me in which to sleep, the weather seeming to reach out to caress and cradle me into a comfortable slumber. I love the Fall. I am not a wonderfully-nature aware person as are some of my gardening and hiking friends, but in the Fall, I am hypnotized by the changing colors of the mountainside vistas I see and will lose myself in staring in awe and wonder at the pointillist glories of the horizon.

I have been thinking about this a lot; this reveal and the promise of all seasons in any season. I have been thinking about it because one of the themes of one of my current writing projects is the acculturated homophobia and misogyny embedded within the language, reactions and behaviors of otherwise completely loving and good-intentioned people. I was prompted to explore this theme by my own use of the word “bitch” and my discovery that its use was, ultimately, anti-woman and sexist – two things I NEVER thought I was in any way to any degree; but the cultural anti-woman and sexist bias had, to some degree, at least to the degree I used the word “bitch” – infected me.

Another example is the acculturated homophobia I have witnessed and, in fact, been subjected to by people who could never, would never in any way to any degree consider themselves anti-gay or homophobic; some of them are themselves gay. The gay MALE culture (I am not qualified to talk about the Lesbian or Transgender communities) has a sub-culture (not so sub actually) of stratification and pecking order wherein “personal preference” about age and “masculine” and the whole top, bottom, twink, bear, hairy, smooth, big, small, on and on delineation of who is and is not one’s type or hot or whatever seems to me a continuation and projection of an acculturated judgment about homosex and gender and masculine power.

I am, however, NOT allowed to talk about or say this because to do so – to in any way discuss it or suggest there might be an issue – is taken by some branches (see how I worked the trees back in – clever man) of the male gay culture and community as a betrayal, as opening doors for homophobes to attack.

Well, homophobes attack without needing my help.

But, this isn’t a dissertation – it’s a personal observation, sharing my experience, and while the acculturated homophobia (and sexism, good heavens, the sexism) of gay men is troubling enough, I don’t know a huge number of gay men, so what I have found more disturbing has been the hidden and unrecognized homophobia of the otherwise loving, liberal community.

Now, this is a touchy subject. I have found that often-times when a member of a minority group discusses his/her perception of minority-phobia in the behavior of society or individuals in that society, those individuals or society at large dismiss it as “You’re playing the homophobia/sexist/race/etc card” – and feel that the minority member is being overly-sensitive and trying to claim a victimhood to which they are not entitled.

I’m NOT saying that doesn’t happen. I’m also not saying I am a victim of anything. I am saying that I have had things said to me that felt to me shockingly homophobic – puritanical – sexist in foundation. One such example was some time ago and came from a Lesbian friend who would NEVER intentionally hurt my feelings and has a heart as loving and beautiful as the Fall horizon (she also never reads anything I write, so she won’t see this and if she did, she wouldn’t recognize herself, trust me – I would not risk causing her pain) so when she said what she said and did what she did – none of which I will go into – timed in reaction to me being more open and honest about my sexual feelings and experiences, I was quite taken aback, shocked, and fairly devastated.

Now, we have both pulled back from one another; she, for whatever reasons she has – I would guess she attributes it to being busy and feeling I’ve changed in ways with which she is vaguely uncomfortable – and I have retreated because, I have difficulty enough traversing the minefield of this puritanical culture’s anti-sex, homophobic, sexist, classist structure and strictures WITHOUT judging myself; I don’t need my friends to do the “Charlie … you’re being ….” or worse, the sort of implied “tsk-tsk” of judging me without actually KNOWING they are doing it.

Yes, I am expressing more anger than I have in the past in some of my thinking and writing and exploration of the why of things and the how of things; I think I am entitled. Yes, I am being more honestly myself and following urges I long submerged, exploring and expressing colors that were not there in the Spring and the Summer. Yes, I am changing, but this season of Charlie, this Fall, as it were, of bright colors and new bursts before that de-nuded landscape of the long Winter to come, is nothing that wasn’t there before, nothing that wasn’t always a part of me.

I am, I guess, a bit hurt by those who would rather I be Spring and Summer again, who have, in some ways, packed bags and left town until the season ends. But, I am who I am, and I apologized and held at bay who I was and what I needed to do for such a long time, often in the service of others, that I now expect people to have some patience with whatever sneezing or allergies my fading into reds and oranges and incipient defoliation causes them. We should all – each day – make sure to be aware of our acculturated puritanism, homophobia, sexism, and classism – to check at the door our acculturated sense of privilege and judgment – all those things which impede our realities and brainwash us into circumscribing and thwarting our creativity and self-expression.

I will change colors. I will ALLOW FULLY this part of my cycle, rather than the ways in which I obstructed and restricted my Spring and Summer, and I will NOT be judged nor tsk-ed nor marginalized. This Fall, I will only be celebrated.