Excerpt from White Crane Issue #40
By Randy P. Conner
I do not believe
have made all our lies
Audre Lorde “Between Ourselves”
For Bo and David, who lift their brothers up, for Kathy Griffin, whose “Life on the D List” gave me the courage to write this, and for Ben, who made it past the Gates.
Note: The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
You want to talk about charlatans and snake oil sellers?
It’s a typical L.A. summer afternoon in 1986, blimps advertising cosmetic surgery, helicopters whirring, with onboard cops on loudspeakers yelling, “Come out of your house! We know where you are!” as we drive up to the West Hollywood ranch-style house to discuss the first magazine ever to be wholly dedicated to Gay Spirituality (at least insofar as L. A. goes, which, of course, is all that matters).
Two lesbians, sharply dressed and sporting short shag haircuts, greet us as we swerve into the driveway. The only reason I’ve come is because my friend Luke has invited me. He knows I’m into spirituality and a Faerie to boot.
Meg and Peg wait ‘til all four guests—all gay men—have arrived before they show us into their Better Homes & Gardens living room and seat us at a long table overflowing with pink boxes of donuts and #2 pencils. The aroma of Folger’s percolates throughout the house. I realize I need some—quick—as I’m experiencing caffeine withdrawal. When we’re all seated, they seat themselves at opposite ends of the table and introduce themselves; they are Meg and Peg, the most successful real estate agents in all of West Hollywood, and, more importantly, personal-friends-of-Lily-Tomlin-and-Jane Wagner. They’re pretty certain that the magazine will be called A Place for Us, since this title will let gay people know—I notice that they never utter the word “lesbian” or “dyke”—what the magazine is about without offending straight people.
They ask us to introduce ourselves and to give a reason why we think publishing a Gay Spiritual magazine is a good idea (later on I realize that “good” means “lucrative”). First, Matthew introduces himself; he hopes that A Place for Us will guide folks to Jesus. Second, Mark introduces himself; he hopes that A Place for Us will serve as a complement, supplement, or antidote to the New Age straight freebies (we’re talking covers of Tantric retreats that specialize in massage and hot tubs) that litter Melrose Avenue. Third, Luke introduces himself; he hopes that A Place for Us will serve to counterbalance all the gay magazines that feature shopping, muscles, and Hollywood-Legends-Who-Like-Us.
I try to think of something a little different, so I explain that I hope that the magazine will introduce the Gay Spiritual Community to Witchcraft and Vodou. I get the feeling they don’t approve. Suddenly, Matthew turns to me and asks, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Satan?” He pauses, and adds, “Maybe it’s the beard.” Meg nods in accord, then says, “Moving right along…we feel strongly that this first meeting needs to be about advertising. We all know that magazines can’t survive without advertising. So we’d like to have your input about how best to scout out potential advertisers. We’re thinking wine and beer.”
Matthew is a minister. Mark is a guru or something like that. But why, I’m wondering, have the rest of us been chosen? Maybe Luke knows.
I’m drifting when I begin to hear Mark murmuring something like “Blub, blub, blub.” At first I think he’s saying “blood,” but why would he be saying that? Then I think, maybe he’s really saying “Bubbie,” as he’s an awfully hot, hunky Jewish guy with gold hair and azure eyes who’s wearing a tight-fitting salmon shirt that reveals taut nipples and a silver star of David around his neck but then I think, why would he be saying “Bubbie” unless he’s missing his grandmother? Or maybe he knows that my Mom has always called me “Bubbie.” No, it’s definitely “Blub, blub, blub.” I decide to say something, anything, to distract the others from this Very-Merry-Unbirthday moment when I notice that all eyes are turned toward Mark, whose “Blub, blub, blub” is beginning to sound rather like a Tibetan Buddhist chant West Hollywood style. I blurt, “Well, it seems to me that when one considers the deep structure of Gay Spirituality…” Meg “shushes” me. This is one of the few things I simply do not tolerate. She explains gravely and ever so slowly, in the voice of my first grade teacher, who’s trying to explain to me that 1 + 1 + 1 is 3 and not 1 like they told my Catholic cousin at church, that Mark is channeling the voice of a dolphin from Atlantis. They obviously knew Mark before. I clearly need to be more respectful. Unfortunately, no one, not even Meg, seems to understand Dolphin, so we fail to grasp the oracular message Mark’s conveying.
As Mark continues to “blub,” Meg talks incessantly of advertising. At some point, she remarks, “Peg and I just know this magazine’s going to be a great success. In fact, we’ve already decided to form the Peg and Meg’s — and, of course, you guys’ — Gay Spirit Fund from the profits we…”
I honestly don’t recall what happened after that. I just kept hearing “Advertise! Advertise! Or the eagles will come and tear out your eyes!” Or maybe it was more like “You can even dye your hair to match your gown!” It was like lost time in occult lingo. I don’t even remember Luke dropping me off. Had they spiked the Folgers? We never heard of A Place for Us or Meg and Peg again.
This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane. We are reader-supportedand need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going. So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!
Randy P. Conner is the author of many wonderful books, all classics of gay spirituality and culture. These include the landmark Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions, Blossom of Bone: Reclaiming the Connections Between Homoeroticism and the Sacred, and the editing of Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol, and Spirit. He was interviewed by Toby Johnson in White Crane in 2005.
10 thoughts on “White Crane #70 – EXCERPT Randy Conner’s All Our Lies Holy”
Well now, Randy manages to find the strangest collection of folks–as usual. One wonders, does he make a hobby of this sort of thing? Given Randy’s personality, his penchant for nasty gossip, and his need to fight, I would like to get the above described people’s side of the story before I would draw any conclusions. Randy is notorious for embellishing the tale–something anyone should always keep in mind when reading any of his writings.
Of course, interestingly enough, Randy did not have the courage to give these people’s actual names, did he? I guess, he was afraid of being sued for libel. Not that it would have really mattered, since the people he describes probably could care less what he thinks, but I think before you haul me up for refusing to give names you ought to tell him to sweep his own doorstep.
And again, if you want to provide your name, we will happily print your rebuttal to Randy. Randy put himself out there with his name. You can do the same.
Well surely then, if you want a rebuttal, you can contact those people that Randy trashed in his article. I am sure that they would like to provide their real names, and give their side of the story. I am sure in the interest of fair reporting you would want to do that, now wouldn’t you? I mean, why would Randy want to change their names, if he is telling the truth? But, I am sure that you will contact them immediately in the interest of fairness and ask them their side of the story. Yeah, right.
Unlike you, Randy is at least willing to have the courage to put his name to his opinion and his feelings. That’s all we require. The issue to which you are responding has been out for almost a year, now, and you are the only negative response we’ve received to this issue, much less Randy.
So you seem to be missing the point here. We are willing to publish someone’s opinions if they are willing to own them with their own name You seem to want to hide more than Randy did. So I have more reason to doubt you than I do his personal opinion. So I see no further use to continuing the conversation. You can believe what you want in your anonymity. But we are not required to hide you.
These events described occurred over 20 years ago. How convenient for Conner and you disengenously to imply that since the article is only 1 year old, it’s current. Conner and you are aware that these people are long gone from your lives. So, no lawsuit here, right? Memories do get old, don’t they? And stories get bigger and bigger.
True, there is no further point in continuing this conversation with people who print lies, innuendo, and gossip; who refuse to interview these people that Conner disparaged in order to get their side of the story; and who engage in the hypocrisy of demanding a name when the very person they defend has not given real names at all. You hide behind a figleaf, because you know that you are exposed as poor journalist who will not verify sources.
I believe you’re the one that’s hding. We’d be more than happy to continue — and publish — the conversation or the comments. All you need to do is identify yourself.
Or, frankly, just go away and take your bitter attitude with you.
One more thing. We’re not opposed to your contradicting or arguing with anything that’s been published. All we’re saying is, if you want to make accusations, you have to do it with a name. Randy made his case. The difference between him and you is he’s willing to put his name to it. That doesn’t make him right. It just means he is stating his opinion, his experience and that’s all we promise as the publishers of a reader written journal. It in no way implies that White Crane endorses his ideas or his opinions than we do any other writer’s essays. There are many opinions and ideas expressed in our pages with which I have little if any truck.
And for your information, the article appeared in Fall 2006, nearly a year ago now. Whenever the “events” as you put it, happened is irrelevant. I fail to see how this is in any way “disingenuous.”
The only disingenuous person in this conversation is you, since you are the only anonymous writer.
Anonymity and secrecy takes real balls. You can call names all you want, but until you share your real one, nothing you say has any weight or value.
Having read the above, I must say that the discussion seems to center around credibility. I looked around on the internet for Randy Conner and found that he was or is a Phd candidate for “Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness” at a place called CIIS, a diploma mill school from what I understand. I do know that Mr. Conner’s Phd thesis was rejected at the University of Texas many years ago in the 1970’s. For all his supposed brilliance, and he is good at extrapulating large amounts of material quickly, I am surprised that Mr. Conner never made it as professor at a major university. Just thought I’d add to the discussion–most interesting.
If Randy was working in his twenties on his PhD in the 1970’s, and he’s still working on his PhD, that would make his age around 55. In his 50’s and still working on his PhD? What kind of a career track in that? Shouldn’t some one tell this girl to give it up?