Category Archives: Television

A Gay Paradigm Shift

Tyler Clementi II I've been reflecting on the recent news coverage of gay teen suicides for a week now. While for those of us in the queer community, where the knowledge of teens committing suicide as a means of escaping the daily psychological torture of coming to grips with sexual identity is nothing new, it seems the mainstream media have finally caught on to this very serious problem.  But why now?  Why not 40-50 years ago in the infancy of the American gay liberation movement?  Why not 30 years ago during the peak of the AIDS crisis coverage?  Why not 12 years ago when the Trevor Project started?  Why are gay teen suicides finally getting mainstream national media attention?  Because we're finally starting to see the overwhelming change in social attitudes required to shift mainstream thought to be inclusive of gay people in general, and the deaths of these young people are catalyzing that change.  I know the phrase "paradigm shift" has been used ad nauseum since Thomas Kuhn wrote his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, but that premise still holds true.  It takes years for a change in society to really take hold of people, and what I think we're seeing in this news coverage is a huge step forward not just for acceptance but more importantly for inclusion in the larger social fabric of the nation. 

In this very year we have seen the transcript from the Prop 8 trial, and the ruling of Judge Walker in that case which held that the proponents of this proposition had no defensible reason to support the exclusion of gay people from the institution of marriage.  What little evidence they presented was unsupported by history or fact, and their expert witness (of which there was only one) was basically rejected as unqualified to actually comment on the matter at hand.  It was abundantly clear that the sole motivation of proposition 8 was to oppress a sexual minority for no good reason.  Even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who were instrumental in the campaign to support proposition 8 are looking back at the division and strife that they have caused and it is driving them to tears.  I have no doubt that as the wheels of the judicial system continue to grind away, that this and all other state constitutional amendments that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples will be erased as a thing from a less enlightened time.

Also in this very year we have seen Bishop Eddie Long, Ted Haggard, and many, many others.  These men, a product of a conservative ideology that says that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, have worked diligently to uphold that worldview, even unto the suppression and utter destruction of their own self-identity.  The lives and well-beings of gay people everywhere have been dramatically influenced by people like this through religion and politics.  These are gay men  who live in denial, believing that their lives are wrong, that we must continue to support the heterosexual relationship as the only type of relationship that matters.  But in secret, their hearts pull them elsewhere, and they turn to abusing themselves, others, or both.  Ultimately we get fire and brimstone from these bully pulpits, where they push their own self-hatred outward to others, forcing more gay people and their families to experience the same pain and conflict that they are feeling.  Again, there is no defensible reason for this, and ultimately these structures will change both from within and from without.

It's these very outre political and religious statements against homosexual people that have brought to light the gay teen suicides.  It took a political campaign the size of prop 8, the national conversation that surrounded it, the trial that brought out the facts behind the prop 8 supporters, exposing the hypocrisy of the political and spiritual leadership who wrangled it into being and seeing the emotional damage that it caused, for people to finally realize that anti-gay speech and actions are a devastating practice that can drive young people to suicide.  When your state tells you that you don't deserve the same rights as other people, when your minister tells you you're going to hell for what you feel, when you believe no one around you feels the same way you do and calls you names for what's inside of you, when you fear what may happen to you if you share this secret with your own family, is it any wonder that you would become isolated, downtrodden, lonely, despairing and feeling that there is no hope left.  Suicide seems like the only option.  It is a tragedy, and one that has sadly been repeated for a very long time, long before these most recent notable deaths.

But the fact that these suicides, which under any other circumstance would have been the story in a local newspaper if that, have been taken up by the mainstream media like CNN and the New York Times, to me that says there has already been a change.  Poll numbers in support of gay marriages are rising.  Important religious figures are taking a stand and changing the tone in the church and calling their faith traditions on their stance.  Don't Ask, Don't Tell is on the brink of repeal.  The teen suicide stories have sparked a number of celebrity campaigns to speak out against anti-gay bullying including the star studded "We Give A Damn" campaign and the more down to earth "It Gets Better" campaign onYouTube.  Anderson Cooper called out a Michigan Assistant Attorney General for stalking and cyber bullying the openly gay president of the U of Mich student council in a hate filled blog.  All of these stories combined tell me that we are already living in a different time, and that there is no turning back any more.  The American public is finally looking critically at homophobia and its disastrous consequences, and it is only a matter of time before we have a sea change of public opinion.  

Top Chef

Like any self-respecting Gay Foodie, I’m a long time fan of Top Chef…and I must admit to a crush on Tom Colicchio (both a culinary crush and a flat he’s-hot-crush). Now I have another reason. An upcoming episode of the show has one of the Lesbian chefs balking at a “wedding challenge”.  Kudos to her.  But to add complement to spine, Colicchio had this to say in a blog post of his own:

Colicchio“I’m going to go out on a limb and say a few words about same-sex marriage: First of all, part of the problem with the issue is that it is framed by opponents as a discussion of whether gay people should get special rights. This is specious – yes, special legislation or court decisions grant them the right to wed in a particular state, however this is done to ensure that they share equal protection under the law by finally being able to avail themselves of the same rights as everyone else.  They are not seeking special treatment, just equitable treatment. Second, religion has no business being part of the discussion. When a couple is wed in a house of worship, the officiant may be performing a religious rite, but as far as the law is concerned, that officiant has been authorized to perform a civil function, plain and simple. And even were same-sex marriage to be legalized by the state, no one would be holding a gun to the heads of the clergy to require them to perform a ceremony that their faith or personal creed does not condone.  Just as some rabbis would not perform my marriage to my wife because I wasn’t Jewish, clergy can decline performing same-sex marriages; gay couples can either find clergy willing to officiate or can be wed in a civil setting. The idea that religious leaders are continuing to shape state law is just wrong. The institution of marriage should be available to all. The idea that you can have a life-long partner and not make decisions for them in a hospital, not share in insurance benefits, not automatically have parental rights unless you are the birth parent, is just flat-out wrong.”
 
I don’t think I’ve seen it expressed quite so well, anywhere, by anyone else. Bravo, indeed.

Looking for a Map

Our friend, White Crane contributor, and author of Stonewall: The Riot That Sparked The Gay Revolution, David Carter sends this…

Dear Friends, The first rough cut of the full-length PBS film on the Stonewall Riots — now one and a half hours longStonewallHRDCVR — is close to being assembled and we are looking for era maps of Greenwich Village to use in the film. 

I will make inquiries at the usual and obvious archives and collections, but we all know that one can't assume that one will find the best such map in any one collection … and that any friend who either lived in New York at the time or has moved here since and who loves the Village might have a much better map than even New York's most famous archives might own: so if any of you happen to own a map that was made in the late 1960s or early 1970s of Greenwich Village, especially one that is detailed or features the area around the Stonewall Inn, and you would be happy to share it with the world in an American Experience documentary … please let me know.  The filmmakers are on deadline for submission of the rough cut to a film festival and need a PDF of such a map ASAP … they'd like to receive the PDF this coming week if possible.

If you have a map that they can use and can help, please contact David at History69@aol.com or the editors at White Crane at editors@gaywisdom.org

Rise Up and Shout!

RISEUP_FILM_POSTER_Small Got some good news in the morning email (almost called it "the post" which has a whole new meaning now) from psychotherapist and filmmaker, Brian Gleason, who works so hard in Los Angeles.

Some of you may be familiar with the Rise Up & Shout! project with which White Crane has been associated. It started in Los Angeles, with people like Brian, Malcolm Boyd, Don Kilhefner, Mark Thompson (I'm leaving out many, may other names of people…this kind of thing takes dozens of people…just don't have them in front of me as I write. I'll find them and include them later, promise) working with young GLBT people in L.A. to produce a talent show showcasing their various and sundry talents.

More importantly, it offered young GLBT people a chance to come in contact with elder GLBT people and let the intergenerational transfer of wisdom and experience mingle with the exuberance and freshness of youth. The first Rise Up & Shout, was a live stage production at the Barnsdall Park theater, directed by award-winning Broadway director, Jim Pentacost, and benefited White Crane, among others. And it was filmed by Brian Gleason.

That film will now receive the wider audience it deserves when it is aired on the Sundance Channel, later this month. The schedule is:

Mon 06/22/09 9:00PM       Sat 06/27/09 3:35PM       Sun 06/28/09 06:40AM

This is MUST SEE TELEVISION folks! Stirring, inspiring, touching. Worth getting cable for, even.

Check your local listings, as they say, for airtimes in your area.

BUT DON'T MISS THIS WONDERFUL FILM.

It’s none of your business!

…and furthermore…if the churches continue to actively lobby against these particular legislations and participate in the electoral process by taking sides, we need to demand that their nonprofit status be TAKEN AWAY! They have a right to their opinion…but they don't have a right to my tax dollars to promote it.