I can’t seem to find a way to paste the actual video clip here, but if you want to see an instance of an honorable politician, watch this very moving clip of the Republican mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, yesterday:
Pastor Martin Niemöller wrote this famous poem as a reaction to the inactivity of the German intellectuals leading up to the Nazi regime and its brutal repressions. And the last thing I am interested in is more mongering of fear…but just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean….
Power has learned a thing or three since those ham-handed days, but the end result is no less chilling. Speaking as someone who was maced and beaten by seven Des Moines, Iowa cops back when the last criminal administration was in power, 1969, there have been a few occurences lately that have taken my breath away. In my case, it was five in the morning and I was walking back to my apartment off campus, a half block away from it, actually, when I was stopped, maced and beaten, my shirt torn off me, and I was unceremoniously stuffed in the back of a police cruiser and taken to …a mental hospital. They told my parents I was "crazed on drugs and climbing trees." In court, I was charged with "resisting arrest and simulating intoxication" (actually the bailiff misspoke and said "resisting intoxication and simulating arrest" to which I almost blurted out a "guilty" plea! Let me just say this…I was, as they say, in an "altered state" but I assure you, I wasn’t climbing trees. They lied. And they scared the shit out of my parents so they would put a lid on me.
In any event, while the corporate media gives us their happy talk and our dose of Daily Fear, ("BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID"…of toys, cholesterol, terrorists, good food, bad food, identity theft, dogs, cats, global warming, doom, gloom…I sometimes think the only reason some of these are getting any coverage is because they’re scary and serve their larger purposes…or sometimes it’s not "be afraid" it’s "those pesky celebs!" and we’re fed a steady diet of high fructose celebrity simple syrup)…there seems to be a growing threat against free speech. Back when the Republicrats had their convention here in New York, our billionaire mayor refused to allow a peaceful assembly of dissenters to gather in the Great Lawn or the Sheeps Meadow of Central Park, putting up some lame excuse about the grass.
And while most magazines, even in the Gay community (where media is slowly but inexorably being transformed by the attrition of market failure and bankruptcy or being gobbled up into conglomerate corporate blandness)…heck, especially in the Gay community…I mean, even I was almost distracted with our friend Malcolm Boyd being named to yet another "Top 10 List! Top 40 List! Top 100"…you fill in the number…how much bread and circus does it take to glaze over the eyes of a people? How many Brittney stories? How many O.J. stories? How many celebrity weddings? Even the Advocate list, a pale attempt at depth and history, ended up being more a celebration of fame mistaken for influence. Among the top ten, of that list of "Top 40 Influential Gays," there’s Elton John, Ellen Degeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, inane, self-absorbed celebrities who basically hid in their plush-lined closets and denied beng Gay for years…thirty years after Stonewall, mind you…until it became a convenient career move.
Boy…now that’s a hero! Extra ham on mine, please.
But a steady diet of processed sugar and processed news (have you noticed how all the networks always seem to have the same stories on the same days? They Decide…You Abide) is bound to blur and confuse after a while. And that’s the point. Isn’t it? You’re just too groggy to lift your head off the couch and say, hey…wait a minute…
I wrote about the cop threatening the silly spectator at Farm Aid. What great crime was he masterminding? Strolling…skipping, actually, back and forth a couple of times in the background of a television interview being carried out in a field of 30,000 people, lifting his shirt! Momma save the children! Like we’ve never seen that on the evening news. How dare he?! And without any prompting or so much as a request from the news people (Faux…er, Fox News, actually), Johnny-On-The-Law yanked Mr. Silly out of camera range and clearly threatened him with his wagging finger and god knows what else. Mr. Silly’s friends quickly spirited him away, calming him down. His face was pale with rage.
And now we have this student (it’s always the students, isn’t it?) in Orlando, at Florida University (and no…that’s not an oxymoron) being tasered…TASERED!…for having the impertinence to ask pointed questions of John Kerry (I believe one of them was "Aren’t you and the President members of the same secret society at Yale? Skull and Bones?…and yes…they are.) The clips, all over YouTube, are pretty frightening with him being hustled out…incredibly, all the while Kerry saying "That’s all right. I’ll answer…let me answer his question,"… so Kerry isn’t asking to have him removed….this was an independent decision by campus Rent-A-Cops it seems.)
But this isn’t the scary part. The scary thing, from my perspective, is how the student is being demonized. Nice work this morning, Lauer, way to go after the lawyer of this kid. Matt Lauer questioned the student’s lawyer this morning like he was O.J. Simpson, pushing him (with his "serious face" on) with questions about "Is this guy a student? A campus loudmouth? Or a political agitator?" …like, how dare he ask those questions!!? Doesn’t he know what questions we’re supposed to ask and which ones we’ve all agreed to steer clear of? jeez, man…get professional, you know? Honestly, I think Matt Lauer saw his job flash before his eyes there …and he was scared. Where in the world is Matt Lauer coming from?
Almost all the stories are not about the over-reaction (to be kind) of the over-armed campus police (the justification, of course, being Virginia Tech…like the problem there was "not enough guns on campus") but about whether or not the student was an agitator? How dare he continue to ask questions about the stealing of a Presidential election? Isn’t that all settled? Can’t we move on!?
I hear this morning he’s being charged with "resisting arrest and disturbing the peace."
Peace? What peace?
Let’s not all forget that the U.S. government is capable of this and a helluva lot more. I have two words for you…Kent State. They weren’t tasering then…they were using bullets. Four dead in Ohio…
White Crane Institute has been presenting Mark Thompson’s Fellow Travelers photography exhibit for the past few months at the New York LGBT Community Center. In October it will move to the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. While it was here, Out At The Center, the LGBT Center video project, interviewed Mark and Bo about the show. Ok…so they misspelled Kilheffner, Monette and Ram Dass…the photos are stunning and the history is deep.
In November, Fellow Travelers will move to Salt Lake City in support of the Queer Spirit Retreat work Jerry Buie is doing. If you are interested in Fellow Travelers coming to your city, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I was at Farm Aid yesterday, standing in line at one point to use their disgusting shitters, when I saw a reporter and cameraman from local Faux News sticking their camera’s in people’s faces for "man on the street" shit for their despicable programming. There were about 35,000 people in the crowd, and one of them was a sort of tallish, straight man (I believe…at least he and I have never sucked one another’s cocks) who seemed to be being silly and enjoying it…so while this "reporter" (I have a hard time using that with respect to Faux News) was interviewing this other person, Mr. Silly was prancing along behind camera, pulling up his shirt to display his attractive torso for the camera (how they would have even got it in the shot is debatable…the camera was tight in on the interviewee, and there probably wasn’t a whole lot of background showing behind him.) Mr. Silly’s friends looked on, slightly embarrassed, it seemed, by their friend’s antics, but the interview proceeded unabated.
In any event…Mr. Silly did this a couple of times and all of a sudden, out of the crowd, came this uniformed cop, with a lot of brass on his starchy shirt. He commanded Mr. Silly, "Come over here!"…and Mr. Silly complied. And from my vantage point of about 20 yards away, you could see that Mr. Silly was getting quite the talking-to tongue-lashing, after which Brass Ass Starched Shirt marched away, and Mr. Silly’s friends had to sort of calm him down it seems, putting their arms around him and cooing calming things into his ear.
I couldn’t believe it! How DARE Mr. Silly interfere with Corporate Media’s shooting of the event!? And the amazing thing was the Faux News folks didn’t even need to ASK for this police escort, he jumped in unbidden to "preserve the peace" (yeah…right) like this silly prancer was creating some kind of threatening nuisance. Not even the Faux people seemed to think he was interfering with their interview, either. It was one of those small, little moments that makes my heart sink.
The event was…an event. Seems it actually has to be "Earth Day" and a "Save the Earth" concert, and not just farmers, for some people to remember not to throw their trash on the ground when they’re done swilling their beer and chowing down on their organic corn dogs, as I saw repeatedly. Obviously it was a small percentage of the 35,000 or so people in attendance, but then that’s all it takes to sort of filthy things up, isn’t it?
It was a nice day, not too hot, the music was good. Or at least it got better. Early sound left much to be desired. The sound guys just didn’t seem to get on the ball until later when the headliners showed up.
Counting Crows (who I wouldn’t know, other than by name, if they showed up at my front door); the ever cute Dave Matthews, singing and playing acoustic guitar fantasitcally with one accompanist. Ditto the Allman Brothers (electric), John Cougar Mellencamp (really great), adn Neil Young, who was magnificent, acoustic and quite mellow. At the end of the day, it was lovely to lay in the grass, swathed in the baby-blanket softness of the night air, and look up at the night sky and be serenaded by Neil Young singing:
Workin’ hard every day
Never notice how
the time slips away
People come, seasons go,
We got something
that’ll never grow old.
I don’t care
if the sun don’t shine
And rain keeps pouring
down on me and mine
‘Cause our kind of love
never seems to get old
It’s better than silver and gold.
I used to have a treasure chest
Got so heavy I had to rest
I let it slip away from me
Didn’t need it anyway
So I let it slip away.
I don’t care
if the sun don’t shine
and rain keeps pouring
down on me and mine
‘Cause our kind of love
never seems to get old
It’s better than silver and gold.
OK…I almost forgot about this, and it was so cool, it’s something that needs to be shared. Earlier this week, Dan and I posted our thinking about the Larry Craig debacle [see below]. Or at least some of the thinking, there’s a lot to this story (not all of it negative: entrapment, the perils of the closet, the importance of not thinking in simplistic binary terms, "public" sex, MSM, "down low" — and why is that usually only applied to African American men…isn’t Larry Craig "down low"? — and bisexuality among the more interesting ideas).
Anyway, as I sit working at the computer every day, I am, invariably, listening to New York Public Radio Station, WNYC-FM, and one of my favorite shows is the Brian Lehrer Show. Next to Terry Gross, on Fresh Air, I think Lehrer is one of the best interviewers in the business.
So I was perturbed, when Brian was discussing the Craig story, that both he and his guest commentators, continued to refer to Craig as "Gay" and talking about "other Gay men" in the same breath as though just because at some point in time some men share a physical attraction to, and seek out sexual contact with other men, that all men who do so are ipso facto "Gay." So I wrote a letter. This is what it said:
Dear Mr. Lehrer, I am a huge fan of your show, listen daily and support WNYC on a monthly basis. I beg you, please please please stop referring to Larry Craig as "Gay" as though this was the problem.
He is sexually confused. At best, Larry Craig is bisexual or homosexual. But the problem with Craig is, plain and simple, his hypocrisy and the effect that has on innocent people’s lives. It is the issue with his constituency; it is the issue with his colleagues and it is the issue with the LGBT community. The LGBT community, and Gay men specifically, have worked long and hard to establish the term "Gay" as opposed to the medically derived "homosexual." This was to distinguish it as a sexual orientation as opposed to a medical diagnosis. "Gay" specifically has connotations of pride, self-worth, self-respect and integration of one’s sexuality with one’s life. It is a difficult thing to achieve…coming out to one’s self, as well as to one’s family and loved ones. It is harrowing. And those of us who identify as "Gay" deserve to make a distinction between us, and closeted, dishonest, confused, homosexuals who have real psychological issues.
It is extremely disheartening to be lumped into the same category as this man. And it confuses the issue. Homosexual hypocrisy is the issue here. Self-loathing is the issue. I hope you can finally come to understand…and share with your listeners, that there is a world of difference.
And as for the behavior in the bathroom, it is classic closet behavior. Bathrooms aren’t being plagued with prowling, predatory "Gay" men. But they are probably frequently filled with closeted men looking to connect with other closeted men. It’s what almost every closeted homosexual man I ever knew did before he discovered he was not the only one, not sick, and could live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life…as a Gay man.
White Crane Journal
The Journal of Gay Wisdom, Spirit and Culture.
Well…imagine my surprise on Friday, when the show does a segment they call "Follow Up Fridays" on stories of the week that continue to call for comment, Brian Lehrer starts talking about the difference between "Gay" and "homosexual" and asking listeners to call in! I just about fell out of my chair when he gets to the segment, and without identifying me personally (or more importantly, alas, White Crane), proceeds to read my letter…verbatim. I was kvelling.
Mostly people responded positively. A woman called in and said she hadn’t been able to put her finger on why the story had been bothering her until she heard this. One gentleman called in and accused me of trying to "hijack the language for political purposes"…well duh! A "professor" (of …I don’t know what) called in and quibbled with my description of "homosexual" as a "medical term" averring, correctly, that homosexuality is no longer a diagnosis in the DSM. Again…well duh! But it was, at one time. It was only taken out of the DSM as a diagnosis in 1973, thanks to the tireless efforts of Barbara Gittings, Judd Marmor, Franklin Kameny and "Dr. H Anonymous" who later turned out to be Psychiatrist John E. Fryer, and the origins of the term are, in fact, from the medical community, and the origins of same-sex sexuality being pathologized. Knowing history is important. Claiming it is imperative.
Our friend Lee Mentley sent us this marvelous footage of John Rothermel and Rose Hips performing.
Long Live the Cockettes!:
Jon Stewart did a segment on this same thing last night. This is Scott Bateman’s take on it…with his usual brilliance…
But c’mon…is she really the person you want interviewing the next President? What? Were none of the Queer Eye guys available? Once again, ala The Advocate, the Gay community leadership, in their slavish currying of favor with the hetero-market, confuse "fame" with "important." Are they really prepared to say that young Gay America can’t be interested unless there’s PeepHole Magazine — sorry, I mean People Magazine content? Why was Keith Boykin just sitting in the audience? Oh…right…they already had their African American. I find it very hard to believe…and understand…that they couldn’t find a Lesbian journalist or activist.
Melissa comported herself just fine. Forgive me for thinking we might have been able to come up with someone a tad more, I don’t know…appropriate?
I was torn as I watched the Presidential "debate" last night. Granted, as we are being constantly being reminded, this forum would never have happened a few years ago. Again, we are being told to be grateful for the crumbs we get from the Democratic Party table. And if you wanted to feel good…because "feel good" is what it’s all about anymore, right?…then Dennis Kucinish had to make you feel warm and puppyish all over. Kudos to HRC, who I have little if any respect for, for accomplishing…I don’t know…what? Citizen participation in the electoral process? Logo, too. Thought the audience reminded me of the early photos of second generation Mattachines who made all the women wear dresses and all the men wear suits so we didn’t scare the straight people.
Bill Richardson, on the other hand, is obviously a clueless homophobe trying to convince everyone how well-meaning he is. The "squirm moment of the evening" tiara goes to him, hands down. It was gratifying that someone bothered to confront his "maricon moment" for which he gave a most unbelievable and insincere apology.
And yet, after all was said and done, and everyone made their "ick-factor" excuses for not providing equal rights as provided under the Constitution, nobody…that would be not one of the candidates, not one of the questioners and not even the moderator…bothered to make the distinction between civil marriage and ecclesiastic matrimony.
One is a civil right; the other is a religious ritual.
In theory, there’s supposed to be some sort of separation there.
Obviously, no one gets it.
Faerie Camp Destiny is a wonderful sanctuary in Vermont. And the faeries there have been busy…
This is the start of the new kitchen they’re putting up. For more information about Faerie Camp Destiny…and how you can provide financial support or helping hands…go here.
Dan, who so ably and beautifully conspires with me to realize this idea he and I share called White Crane, is also a poet of the D.C. variety, and has two poems recently published in the Delaware Poetry Review.
One of them is a particular favorite of mine…Emily Dickinson At the Poetry Slam because I love Emily Dickenson…and because I love Dan.
And please, visit his website to see more…