I Love New York – 33-29!


Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the bill allowing full GAY MARRIAGE in the state.  This is incredibly significant for equal civil rights, because the precedence set by this passage could pave the way for other states to pass the same legislation.

The bill was passed with provisions protecting religious organizations if they wished to not allow gay marriage, or to refuse couples from using their buildings and/or halls for such celebrations.  These provisions absolutely MAKE SENSE, because they are perfectly within their right to disallow such things under the proclivity of religious freedom.  The provisions greatly helped the bill to pass, and the bill passed with bi-partisan support.

It hit me earlier today that this historic vote falls as the anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969 approaches.  That this event is taking place now, on the eve of that anniversary, in the same state where it occurred, is incredibly moving.

I created the above image just as the vote was taking place.  The moment it passed, it became my Facebook profile picture, and within minutes, many of my other friends started to use it as their picture.

Feel free to pass it around.  And proclaim your love for New York loud and proud!

Happy Pride, indeed!

 

 

 

 

Dame Elizabeth Taylor – A truly one-of-a-kind woman

The divinely lovely Elizabeth Taylor died today at age 79.

She was lovely in more ways than just the physical, however.  She was a fierce advocate for numerous charitable organizations for HIV/AIDS research, the LGBT community, animal rights, and creative freedoms.

As notorious for her seven marriages as she was for her beauty, Liz never let the tabloids get the best of her.  She was quick to rebuke a story that wasn’t true, and did so with fierce voracity.  She played the spitfire in many a movie– and it was pretty obvious that she didn’t have to act all that much to play those roles.  She was a force to be reckoned with.

She was truly remarkable —generous in spirit and heart, especially through her work in helping to create amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation when others couldn’t even be bothered to utter the acronyms HIV or AIDS.  For these and all of her other talents, she will never be forgotten.

As further proof that Elizabeth Taylor was one-of-a-kind, the Grand Dame had a Twitter account (which was verified) that she used from March 31, 2009 until her last Tweet on February 9, 2011.  And in true Liz form, she didn’t just use it to share her day-to-day events—she used it to share her innermost thoughts on topics such as the death of Michael Jackson, refuting stories about her in the tabloids, and, probably most frequently, living life to its fullest.

In one of the last series of Tweets to this account (@DameElizabeth) on July 22, 2010, Liz shares her philosophy on living life, and giving generously to others.  Reading this now, it’s almost as if she was saying farewell to her fans, and giving a last bit of advice.

Hold your horses world. I’ve been hearing all kinds of rumours about someone being cast to play me in a film about Richard and myself.

No one is going to play Elizabeth Taylor, but Elizabeth Taylor herself.

Not at least until I’m dead, and at the moment I’m having too much fun being alive…and I plan on staying that way. Happiness to all.

I would like to add something to my earlier tweet. Always keep love and humility in your heart.

Never let yourself think beyond your means…mental, emotional or any otherwise.

You are who you are. All you can do in this world is help others to be who they are and better themselves and those around them.

Give. Remember always to give. That is the thing that will make you grow.

That is the thing that will give back to you all the rewards that there are. Don’t do it for yourself, because then it becomes selfish.

Because then it becomes about yourself…which is wrong. Giving is to give to God. Helping is to help others.

Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you.

What a wonderful day today! The sky is bright and clear…

…I’ve been waiting for this day for practically all of the year…
— “Parade” by Eric Lane Barnes

This weekend was Pride weekend in Chicago, and for me it was a markedly different Pride weekend, especially compared with last year.  It was also one of the best Pride weekends I have had in recent memory.

CGMC in "Over the Rainbow"The weekend started off with opening night of CGMC’s Pride show, “Over the Rainbow,” which featured the music of Judy Garland interspersed with songs about the Stonewall Riots of 1969.  This year being the 40th anniversary of both Judy Garland’s death and the Stonewall Riots, the theme of the show was perfectly selected… even if the original intent was to combine the two stories and show how they related to each other.

As it turns out, they really don’t relate to each other at all– except for the fact that Judy Garland died just days before the riots happened, and that Judy became an icon for gay men both from her portrayal of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” and for the trials and tribulations she endured during her lifetime.

The Stonewall Riots, of course, were the true defining point of the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement, which sparked GLBT people’s desire to work against, rather than within, the system to gain the rights they so greatly deserved.

False legend has it that the patrons were so upset about the loss of the gay icon that, when the police raided the bar, they reached the point where they just couldn’t take any more pain and fought back. The truth, however, was that, although the reaction of the patrons did have a lot to do with the raid, the patrons either had no idea of the significance of Ms. Garland’s passing, or did not really care either way.  In fact, many of the patrons of the Stonewall Inn were younger, more effeminate youth who were not as emotionally invested in the passing of Ms. Garland, therefore they were probably not fueled by her loss in any particular way.  Still, the connection is uncanny, and made for an interesting show for CGMC.

I loved doing this show.  I loved the music, and I loved the story the songs told; but even moreso, when we started putting the music together with the narrative that our director, Patrick Sinozich, had written; along with stories some of our individual chorus members had contributed; the show became a wonderful story of history– with pain and sorrow, joy and laughter, and hope and pride.

We did one show on Friday night and two shows on Saturday, so by the end of that last show, we were pretty well exhausted.  The weather was hot and muggy, and a soft rain had begun to fall.  So instead of going out to celebrate, we went home and, quite literally, crashed.

We… well.. I guess I should explain why I’m saying “we” instead of “I.”  You see, I’ve actually been dating a nice young man from the chorus in recent weeks.

***SCRATCHING RECORD SOUND*** WHHHHHAAAAAATTTTTT???????

rick_andrewYes, stop the world, and stop the music… it’s true.  I’ve been… DATING! *Bom Bom BOMMMMMMMM!*

The world may now officially end, and the tides may officially turn.  Those of you who have read this blog since the beginning (I can count you on one hand now… 🙂 ) know that I haven’t been much for dating lately… or ever, for that matter.  I guess I’ve always either been entirely too picky, or too afraid to start seeing someone — but lo and behold this adorable guy joined the chorus for this show and we hit it off, so… there you go!  We’re taking it very slow; one day at a time; and just enjoying each other’s company and time.  I like it.  And I like him.  So that’s a very good thing going on in my life lately. 🙂

So, where was I?

Oh yeah… we crashed on Saturday night, while the rain fell and the mugginess of the day subsided.  And as Sunday dawned, we went out to join our chorus friends on the parade route.  It was a glorious day– sunny, clear, cooler, breezy, less humid– a PERFECT day for a parade.  In all my years living in Chicago, I had never seen a more gorgeous morning.  The leaves seemed greener, the grass more lush, and the sky an even more dazzling blue.

The mood leading up to the parade route matched the beauty of the day.  Everyone felt festive and joyful.  There were smiles all around.  Oh yes… this was going to be a GOOD day.

There was a  lot of talk about how the parade was going to be organized this year.  The city came out with a thorough plan for the parade, saying that the entire route would be barricaded, and the crowd would be forced away from the street, allowing the parade to pass easily and swiftly.  I have to say, in all my years of participating in the Chicago Pride Parade, this was the swiftest moving parade I could recall.

That didn’t stop the crowds from stuffing the streets from end to end.  And it certainly didn’t hurt the crowd’s enthusiasm.  As the CGMC float passed (we were generously sponsored by WGN Radio AM 720 – our HUGE thanks to them!), the crowds erupted not only into cheers, but screams of joy.  The Chorus sang a few songs from our Pride show, interspersed with thumping dance tracks and even a few Michael Jackson tunes, all of which the crowd loved.

Michael Jackson’s death provided the soundtrack for many of the floats, as it turned out.  Once the parade was finished, we walked back the way we came and saw a lot of the floats along the way – most of which were playing upbeat Jackson tunes.  It certainly made sense, and the crowd always responded with cheers and sang along.

After we made our way back, and grabbed a bite to eat, we went home and absolutely crashed, exhausted… but snuggling up to a wonderful guy after a weekend full of joy, music and pride made the weekend extra special.

——————————-

Today I received a news bulletin from The Advocate, which told the story about a gay bar in Fort Worth Texas that was raided on Sunday, June 28.  On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the same thing that started the entire LGBTQ movement happened again.  It just proved to me that, although we are moving forward in so many ways… we still have a long way to go.

Aaaarrrrrrrggggh!! I can't take it anymore!!!

OK… OK! I have been silent long enough.

I didn’t want to make a big stink, but I just can’t help it. I have to say something, and if I don’t do it soon, I’m gonna friggin’ explode.

OK, my Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, and Questioning brothers and sisters… I am talking to you.

We’re not a happy bunch right now. Any visit to the news, or to blogs, or to chatrooms, or to Facebook or Twitter will tell you that. We are an angry bunch. We want what we want, and we want it NOW!

We want Gay Marriage. We want a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We want a repeal of DOMA. We want Anti-Discrimination laws. We want Anti-Defamation laws. And don’t forget about Gay Marriage…

Yes, we really do want what is rightfully ours, and really, who can blame us? We’ve been an oppressed group for as long as we’ve been around. Other groups have got their rights, why can’t we?

Well yeah, I agree… and I want those rights, too. But did it ever strike you as odd that we’re demanding EVERYTHING to happen RIGHT NOW? Right now, when our country is still just barely recovering from the worst economic crisis it has seen since the Great Depression? Right now, when we are still fighting a war in Iraq and still trying to find the mastermind of 9/11? Right now, when the entire world is unstable, both economically and politically, and we are relying on our country’s leadership to ATTEMPT to keep everything together?

Did you ever think that maybe RIGHT NOW is a little TOO SOON?

I have, and I have said so and thought so since before Barack Obama got himself elected. Sure, he’s made some mistakes (that DOMA brief really did suck), but I truly have to believe, in my heart, that he wants to help us out. We just need to understand that, just like Rome was not built in a day, LGBTQ rights cannot be applied to us in 24 hours. It takes time, and it takes making the right moves and taking the right steps.

Our impatience comes from years and years of pain, sorrow and neglect, and I feel that pain, sorrow and neglect just as much as the rest of you. I understand why we are angry, and I understand why we want action. And I understand why we want to yell and scream and carry on when we feel we’ve been maligned.

But at what point will our voices blend in with the rest of the background noise? How long will ranting and raving and screaming work to get our country’s attention? And will it work at all?

I’m trying to find the answers, because I don’t know what they are. I’m just suggesting that we are going about it in the wrong way, and I’m concerned that our voices will not be heard, because those who we want to hear us are just going to plug their ears to drown out the noise.

It took this much animosity for me to break out of my blogging funk and write again… maybe it’s time we all try to do the same. Pick up the pen, or turn on your computer, and write your feelings. Send them to those who you want to hear your thoughts. Think out your grievances before airing them, and put them into context. Make them understand why you are so passionate about what you want.

Screaming will just make you hoarse. Intelligent thinking will get you heard.

Change is here… hopefully!

This should be the happiest moment in many years for all Americans.  

We have just inaugurated a new president.  The air is filled with a spirit of hope and change, and all of that is for the better.  The prospects of a happy and healthy future for America look better than ever, and that has nothing to do with Republican or Democratic politics; but everything to do with a fresh outlook and a new, positive direction for our country.  

But as with every change, there is sure to be resistance.

Naturally, I am seeing resistance from staunch Republicans who think that Barack Obama’s policies are “a lot of talk that will cost us a lot of money.”  They are sure that he will fail, and that America will not step up to the challenge to come together and work for a better future for our country.  And while I respect these people for having their opinions– because they are certainly entitled to them– I wish they would just step back and give Mr. Obama a chance to prove himself before they declare him a failure.

The most frustrating thing about this whole situation is, the same can be said for many of my GLBT brothers and sisters. 

I have spent the past few weeks being a relatively silent observer to the historic events taking place around me.  

When Prop 8 passed in California, I, like many other GLBT people across the country, felt the sting of disappointment.  I wanted to join the protests but couldn’t; yet my feelings on the situation were the same as everyone else’s.  The GLBT community voiced its disappointment with a resounding and unified cry– the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Harvey Milk or the outbreak of AIDS.  It was inspiring and exciting to see.

However, in recent weeks, I get a sense that we as a community are going way too far… to the point where we could be called “The Community Who Cried Wolf.”  

Since that first group of protests, there have been at least 4 other organized protests around the country, including here in Chicago.  Those protests started out with clear goals – one was in protest of the Cinemark theatre CEO, who supported Prop 8; one was demanding that Obama repeal the Defense of Marriage Act– but when the protests actually happened, they were paired with other, much more obscure measures– measures that I had never even heard of.  Instead of unifying our voices to one cause, we began spreading ourselves too thin, and our voices became muddled.  I decided that I would not participate in any of these protests unless they were for clear and completely understandable goals.  

This spirit of anger has also begun to permeate into the support of our new President.  We have grown entirely too gun-shy… too skeptical of every move he makes; and most of the criticism came before he even took the oath of office.  

When friends and acquaintances bemoaned the selection of Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church, to give the Inaugural invocation; I kept my opinion to myself until I got all the information I could on the selection.  At that point, I decided that his selection was probably not the best move, but the message it sent to people on all sides was a message of inclusion for all- even differing viewpoints.  Later, when Bishop Gene Robinson was selected to give the invocation at this past Sunday’s “We Are One” event, I felt that the gay community’s concerns were alleviated, and we got the reperesentation we needed by our incoming President.

But when the broadcast of the event occurred, and Robinson’s invocation was cut, immediately the community started crying “Foul!” and “Betrayal!”  Granted, I was disappointed that his invocation was cut, but once again our community started laying blame before we got the whole story.  I’m sure protests against HBO and the Inaugural committee are sure to follow.

The point I’m trying to make here is:  We have a new president, with much more progressive ideas and beliefs than our former president.  As his new whitehouse.gov website outlines, he is planning to do more for our community than has ever been done before.  I just wish that our community would give the man and his administration time to find their footing and get the ball rolling before we start condemning him.  Besides, there are much bigger fish for them to fry than our concerns anyway.  They have an economy to rebuild, two wars to manage and hopefully end, and countless wrongs from the past to hopefully right.  Our concerns are just a few of a great many.  Will they all get addressed?  Probably not.  But let’s see where things go before we pass judgment.