White Crane #70 – Elizabeth Cunningham’s The Passion of Mary Magdalen

Rvu_cunningham The Passion of Mary Magdalen
by Elizabeth Cunningham
Monkfish Publishing
640 pages, $29.95
ISBN: 0976684306

Reviewed by Steven LaVigne

“The road to the country of life is hard. It blisters your feet and breaks your heart” writes Elizabeth Cunningham in her remarkably exciting new age biography, The Passion of Mary Magdalen. Subtitled The Maeve Chronicles, this massive, but refreshing feminist approach to the woman who’s a hero for many who draw strength from the Bible’s most enigmatic character couldn’t have been published at a better time. The worldwide sensation of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code has raised so many issues among the Christian population, it was only a matter of time before alternative viewpoints regarding the key people in Christ’s ministry would appear.

Cunningham takes us into the world of Maeve, nicknamed Red, who’s the daughter of the warrior witches of Tir na Mban, including Cailleach, Bride, and Dugall the Brown.  Using traditional Biblical concepts that she’s a reformed prostitute, rather than the theory she was born into a wealthy French family, Cunningham’s take on Biblical history and her epic storytelling style are unique.  Often The Passion of Mary Magdalen is written in the romantic style of a Harlequin Romance (she even asks readers if the story is “starting to read like a romantic novel,”), yet by combining modern phrases, such as “get a life” or “get over it” with such beautiful metaphors as “the wood is so still you could hear the leaves breathe,” Cunningham gives us a feminist hero for modern times.
Sold into Roman slavery, Maeve’s saga moves quickly from the brothel to servitude to Paulina, the virgin wife of the ancient Claudius. Befriended by Reginus, a gay slave, Maeve’s spiritualism is recognized and after an encounter with her stepfather, Bran, a Druid warrior who, as Rex Nemorensis, guards the holy tree in Diana’s forest, she’s raised to the level of priestess in the Temple of Isis.

The Fascist emperor, Tiberius Caesar forces changes in Rome and the story moves to Judea for its second half, where it really takes off.  Using William Blake’s poem “And Did Those Feet” as a basis, Maeve explains that the lost (Gnostic) gospels are mostly speculation, when Esus (the Celtic name for Jesus) aka Yeshua, enters the story in Chapter 37.  Franco Zefferelli modernized the Virgin Birth by having Mary go through labor pains in Jesus of Nazareth and Cunningham further modernizes the Mother by drawing an unflattering portrait of Miriam/Mary.

Cunningham creates a complex woman, conflicted in her love for Jesus and her need to serve Isis.  She has a sexual relationship with Jesus, thus humanizing the man, and she connects the tale of the Good Samaritan to Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert, having the Samaritan deliver him to the Temple Magdalen, built to worship all goddesses and gods, because “all things are possible.”  Baptized by John in the river Jordan, Maeve dislikes Simon Peter, calling him “Rocks for Brains,” and Cunningham focuses on Maeve’s passions, especially in the saga’s compelling second half.

The Passion of Mary Magdalen has been rightly compared to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon.  Just as that book told the legend of King Arthur from the women’s viewpoint, The Passion of Mary Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham brings its title character into modern times by creating an extraordinary perspective of the woman loved by Jesus.  For the novice, the Biblical scholar and the Feminist, this is a book that’s not to be missed.

Steven LaVigne lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a contributing writer to White Crane.

White Crane #70 – Lawrence Schimel’s Two Boys in Love

Rvu_schimel Two Boys in Love
by Lawrence Schimel
7th Window Pub
170 pages, $13.95
ISBN: 0971708940

Review by Steven LaVigne

If you pick up a copy of Lawrence Schimel’s Two Boys in Love, your first impression is that it’s a beach read. Two hunks are facing away from one another, the blond cruising the dark-haired man in the foreground. But what riches are hiding inside this delicious collection of short stories.

The first half features nine stories, all of them told in a second person narrative that creates both a comfortable mood and an erotic tone. In “The Book of Love,” one man cruises another at the bookstalls of Barcelona’s Ramblas, taking a chance on love, while “Marchen to a Different Beat” brings Hansel and Gretel into Cinderella territory with a high school dance, a gay fairy named, of all things, Mary, and a Prince Charming named Jack, complete with a comment about his “beanstalk.” In another gay fairy tale, a young man asks a witch for help by working to earn a love potion.

Two of Schimel’s erotic New York tales are rich in sexual images. In “Season’s Greetings,” two men pleasure themselves at the window across an air shaft, while “The Story of Eau” has never made bathing seem so exciting. By far, the most compelling story in the collection, however, is “The River of Time,” wherein the narrator disposes of his best friend’s ashes in the water near the Christopher Street docks, only to encounter strange happenings later on. This story is remnant of “The Brocaded Slipper,” the Vietnamese version of the Cinderella legend, which brings redemption and resurrection to the story.

The second half of Two Boys in Love is a series of five short pieces about Carles and his mysterious boyfriend, Javi. Throughout the tales, told from Carles’ point of view, he fends off the feeble advances of a Frenchman, fantasizes that the motorcycle man who delivers Javi for a date is David Beckham (who’s evidently had gay affairs if you read the tabloids, although no one’s ever come forth to confirm this), and learns about Javi’s relationship with a straight couple who wants to experiment. In the end, though, it’s clear that these two boys are really in love with one another.

Two Boys in Love may be a book for the beach or the bathtub, but it’s a pleasurable experience wherever you partake in Schimel’s exquisite writing.

Steven LaVigne lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a contributing writer to White Crane.

White Crane #70 – Mark Jordan’s Blessing Same Sex Unions

Rvu_jordan Blessing Same-Sex Unions:
The Perils of Queer Romance
and the Confusions of Christian Marriage

By Mark Jordan
University of Chicago
258 pages, HB, $29.00

Reviewed by Toby Johnson

Mark Jordan is Professor of Religion at Emory University, author of two influential and mind-blowing books on the history of the idea of “sodomy” in Christian Church history and several other books, and he is a marvelous writer and rhetorician.

Blessing Same-Sex Unions is a delight to read. At times, of course, it is precise and theological. There’s nothing lax about the book’s argumentation. But it’s written with a certain whimsy and delightfully arch rhetorical style. In the Epilogue, Jordan compares the book to an opera buffa, a comedy of manners, and his narrative voice perhaps to what he calls “the avuncular parson’s winking approval.” From behind the curtain of his serious theological and cultural commentary, you can occasionally imagine the author sticking his head out, smiling at the audience, and delivering a great one-liner—or maybe giving a campy raspberry to all the seriousness.

Blessing Same-Sex Unions takes a different point of departure from usual for discussing gay marriage. Instead of arguing about rights and benefits and human or American liberties, Jordan addresses the question of ceremonies: what is a “wedding”? how do you put on a properly “gay” wedding? what does it mean to “bless” the union? what is the “union”?

One of the reasons, perhaps, that Jordan’s prose is so pleasantly mannered is that he is acutely concerned with language and complains that the language used to debate this contentious issue is usually imprecise and misleading. So he spends considerable space in the book analyzing the language of religion and particularly of marriage and relationship.

I recommend the book simply for its enjoyable readability and its occasional comedy about what is often so “deadly serious” on both sides of the debate. But, of course, the content matters and Jordan’s take on the content is refreshingly different from the usual.

As part of analyzing “marriage,” Jordan looks at the real issues: the wedding and the commitment (to what?). In one of the more humorous sections, he picks apart an issue of Modern Bride Magazine, showing that weddings are really for ceremonies for women and they’re mostly about spending exorbitant sums of money on dresses and catering. He jokes that gay men are intrinsic to weddings—but usually as the dress designers, the planners, and the caterers (and maybe the priests!). Weddings are big business in America. They’re done through the Churches, but really have very little to do with religion.

As a Church historian, Jordan solidly refutes the notion that heterosexual marriage is the fundamental building block of society and has remained unchanged through Church history. Early Christianity did not approve of marriage at all. St. Paul wanted all Christian believers to abstain from sex, reproduction, and marriage as he did. The early Christians believed the end of the world and the return of Jesus were imminent. Having children and planning for the future were signs of unbelief. And monogamy and indissolubility as the central characteristics of Christian marriage are new ideas, certainly not consistent with the polygynist model of the Biblical patriarchs. Even Jesus’ teachings on marriage have more to do with honoring women as equal human beings than with offering a legal structure for or a theology about sex.

Christianity has been traditionally anti-sex and anti-pleasure. So marriage is less about legitimating sex or discovering the mystical significance of sexual consciousness than it is about keeping inheritance lines clear and placing sexuality in a pattern that ultimately subordinates it to child-rearing.

A theme that runs through the book is how modern gay men and lesbians might be reforming marital and childrearing expectations, perhaps, by doing it better. The (surreptitiously anti-sex?) Fundamentalists complain that gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed because gay people (men especially) are more likely to be pro-sex and liberal (adulterous?) with one another. We gay men might argue, for instance, that a little outside sex, especially engaged in honestly and forthrightly within rules like “only when the partner is out of town,” can actually strengthen the bond of love between the partners. That’s what the “family values” people call redefining marriage and worry that our gay adaptations to reality might allow all marriages to be happier, more stable, and—god forbid!—more sexually satisfying.

One of the most interesting discussions in the book is based on analysis of love letters from earlier times. In the letters between the literary critic F.O. Mathiessen and the painter Russell Cheney, for instance, who were lovers from 1924 to 1945, Jordan finds a definition of male love and bonding that blends Walt Whitman’s enthusiasm for embodiment with conventional marriage to come up with a notion of loving “companionship, devotion, and laughter” that enhances personal freedom rather than constraining it.

Jordan looks at “rites” and “liturgies” to see just what is being blessed. Looking at several scripts for gay marriage ceremonies, he elucidates just what kind of commitment the partners might be entering into based on the words they use in their, perhaps personally composed, vows. He also analyzes John Boswell’s arguments that “Pre-Modern” Christianity actually had rituals for same-sex bonding.

If you’re rushing out to join the crowd demanding the same rights—and rites—as heterosexuals because it’s the cause celebre of the moment, you might be more interested in one of those guides to gay marriage, with referral pages for the best costumes or most stylish comestibles for the reception. But if you want to delve deep into the meaning of what such a “blessing” is, here’s the book for you. And it’s a fun read!

Toby Johnson is former publisher and current contributing editor  to White Crane.  His newest book, Two Spirits, is reviewed in this issue.

White Crane #70 – FM3’s Buddha Machine (Music)

Buddhamachine Music
FM3 – Buddha Machine
Label: Staalplaat 2006 $22.99

Reviewed by Bo Young

FM3 is an electronic act based in China, an act known primarily for a (very) minimalist bent and, apparently, their ability to subdue live crowds into absolute Alpha-wave silence. As such, it only makes sense that they be the act to introduce Staalplaat’s Buddha Machine series. The Buddha Machine is a unique sound box, made in China (isn’t everything these days?) that comes with an integrated speaker, a volume control, mini jack-out…even two AA batteries…and a switch to choose between nine different loops stored on a small chip and can be directly played by…and only by…this mini sound system.

The Buddha Machine is ambient music. If you ever listened to flautist Paul Horn’s classic Taj Mahal recordings you are halfway there. It’s background music, but it is also art form in and of itself. The music, that never stops, relaxes you and stimulates you at the same time. And, it’s a nice little adult toy that you will like to hold in your hands, play with and carry it with you.

It’s a little plastic box that plays music. FM3 composed (constructed?) these nine drones (or so we are told…it’s kind of hard to count them, I keep drifting off or I go off into some creative jag when I am listening to it. I can’t swear to the nine) that vary from two seconds to forty-two seconds; they repeat endlessly in the listener’s ear until the "track" is switched to the next drone (or the two AA batteries run out).
The machine has (is?) its own built-in speaker, in case one would like to fill a room with the drones, but there is also a headphone jack for more personal meditative experiences. There’s a switch on the side that allows for traversal of the tracks, and a DC jack (no AC adapter) for those who would like the Buddha Machine experience be truly endless. In a way, it’s like the cheapest pre-loaded iPod you’ll ever be able to buy. It even comes in different colors, displayed minimally on the side of the lotus bedecked, blue box in which the box comes. Seven colors. (Mine’s a monkish saffron). Nine drones. Having only purchased one of these (well, two if you don’t count the one I had sent to Dan) I can’t verify that every Buddha Machine has the same content. Somehow I’d like to imagine they don’t. Collect them all!
At its minimalist little heart (see illustration), however, the Buddha Machine flies in the face of the downloading—if not the collecting—age. First: the entire point of the release is to have the little box.

Sure, theoretically you could download each of the drones (available in mp3 form on FM3’s website), set "repeat" in your media player of choice, and have something close to the original effect, but you lose much of the effect, the “aura,” if you will, of the work that way—evaluating the drones purely on the basis of their musical merit is entirely different than evaluating them as an aspect of an odd little artifact. Second: the sound of the drones via the machine is, in fact, very, very lo-fi; there is an audible buzz in the speaker as the volume gets higher, not to mention a fair amount of hiss that accompanies the drones at any volume. An argument could be made that the constant hiss and crackle is a part of the music (much as the point of John Cage’s 4’33" is not the silence, but the sounds surrounding that silence), lending a bit of entropy to the largely static drones.
All of this is not even to mention the idea that in an age where "how much have you got?" is at least as important a question as "how good is it?", an entire release that contains just under three minutes of unique sound is quite the rara avis.
The drones themselves are largely wonderful, whether carefully studied or relegated to the background. Most of the drones are (if my online translation skills don’t fail me) named after animals and musical instruments, with a couple given the nondescript names of "b1" and "b2", and the final drone named after the verb "To Dance.” The first drone, translated "Horse," is particularly lovely, two repeated organ-like tones that last about fifteen seconds each, which after a while create a lovely, moody, minor-key atmosphere. "Sheep" actually features a melody, that when repeated for a couple of minutes, becomes one of the most peaceful of the drones for its simplicity and use of empty space. Even "b1," (that’s “be-one”…or is it “bone?”) composed with a single, decaying chord only six seconds in length, could slow your heartbeat with its insistence on never, ever moving. The process itself is mesmerizing. I would listen to a drone—for who knows how long?—and then switch the little side switch, back or forth, switching from one drone to the next. Like I said…there are, reportedly, nine of them. I can’t quite count that high when I listen to this…this…box…

The Buddha Machine is more than a little novelty. That’s part of its charm. You can have a little pink (or red, or black, or orange) box that plays ambient music. You can display it. People will ask about it. It’s an icebreaker. But what’s truly special about it is what FM3 has done with a tiny bit of recording space on a little speaker. It’s mesmerizing. It’s portable relaxation. And if you’ve read this far, admit it—you know you want one.

Buddha Box is available one line at Jazz Loft or at Amp Camp at Amp Camp 

Bo Young is Publisher and Editorial Director of White Crane.

Gay Men’s Leadership Academy – Part Deux

Peter Lien is a friend, a photographer, a genius, a sweetheart and a faerie king.

When you click on that link, be sure to watch his film on HIV in Uganda: The Wisdom Keepers of Uganda: Effectively Responding to HIV in Africa. It is incredible.

Because that film is so lovely, it is even more exciting to tell you that he did a wonderful, short (41 minute) interview video of the White Crane Gay Men’s Leadership Academy.

Enjoy the beautiful men.

Enjoy the sweet stories.

See who we might be…

Gay Men’s Leadership Academy

My…haven’t we all been busy lately!? I’ve been trying to set down my thoughts on the most recent activities in which I participated and for which White Crane is a sponsor. Just a little over a year ago, I sat down with Eric Rofes to go over what turned out to be one of his last published articles, Gay Bodies, Gay Selves: Understanding the Gay Men’s Health Movement. Eric was one of those people who simply brimmed with ideas, and out of this conversation grew a new formulation of his Gay Men’s Health Summits that he wanted to call Gay Men’s Leadership Academy.

The more we talked, the more we realized that his definition of "health" was nearly identical to White Crane’s definition of the term "spirituality." And so the White Crane Gay Men’s Leadership Academy was born. As usual, Eric called in all of the talent he knew….Chris Bartlett and Kevin Trimmel Jones from Philadelphia…T. Scott Pegues from Denver…and they got started. Good thing that was how Eric did things, because half way between the first Academy (attended by 35 amazing men at the Wildwood Retreat in Guerneville, CA) Eric dropped dead of a heart attack.

But because of his brilliant way of delegating and organizing, this group never dropped a stitch (Chris, honey…that reference was for you, my sweet-faced knitter!)…The second Academy was equally well-attended by equally amazing men of every age, race and stripe, from Boston, Providence, New York City, Albany and Philadelphia.


Somewhere, Eric was smiling.

The idea always was to create an opportunity for leaders working in gay men’s health, to meet other leaders…from as broad a spectrum of fields as we could imagine and attract. The idea was to stretch, challenge and stimulate…to move people out of the old boxes of thinking, particularly the way of thinking of gay people in troubled, pathological terms…in HIV terms…in addiction terms. In what I personally think of as Stockholm Syndrome terms of attempting to show straight society that "we’re just like you except for what we do in bed"…when the bedroom is probably the only place we have in common. How do gay people begin to celebrate and embrace their unique differences, their healthy, different perspective on things? And how, as leaders, do we demonstrate what a valuable contribution to society, not hat in hand, but proudly showing off our "healthy psychic drag"!!!

This wasn’t Eric’s phrasing, but it comes to mind, again and again for me, and it seems clear to me that what we were asking anyone who was inspired to attend:

Who would we be without the struggle?

How might we be without a struggle?

How do we formulate what a healthy life is for gay people? What are the markers and milestones from which we might build and measure a healthy life as GLBT people? These are questions White Crane has been asking for almost two decades. These leaders gathered to continue that discussion.

When it is a given that perhaps 10% of our brothers and sisters may be struggling with HIV or methamphetamine addiction, doesn’t this necessarily mean that 90% of our brothers and sisters are leading lives of quiet — but healthy — isolation? How do we connect? How do we build on this? How do we capitalize on what Eric (and Chris and Scott and Kevin) term an "asset-based," rather than deficit-based, way of thinking? Is methamphetamine really worthy of being called "an epidemic"? Sure it’s a problem for some people…so is smoking in the gay community. There are probably a lot of people for whom sexual addiction and drinking are problems, too. But are we being stampeded into a panic? Is the fear-mongering that we see in the news on a nightly basis, being used to keep us as a community off balance? Is it possible that by strengthening  areas where we are successful, healthy individuals as a whole, that this will redound to those members of our community who need help?

Is there a healthy forest beyond the pathological trees?  Just asking…

These were just some of the questions that inspired this undertaking. I was unable to attend the first of the Academies in Guerneville, but was able to get to Easton Mountain for the second.

First of all, what a wonderful place! If you haven’t gone to Easton Mountain,either for a workshop or a personal retreat, please do. Check out their programming. This is a marevelous asset in the community, run by a community of men with a really big vision of health, spirit and community. P1010002

For four days, absolutely wonderfully intelligent, sensitive and imaginative men…ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s…gold to gray…black to brown to yellow to pink… African-American, Asian, Latino, Caucasian…if anyone was left out it wasn’t from lack of trying to be as inclusive as possible…got to know one another, shared, confronted and otherwise debated, demanded and decided. Exercises in expanding thinking and challenges to old thinking were interspersed with and nourished by incredible meals in the idyllic setting that is Easton Mountain.P1010013

What did we learn? What did we decide? In all honesty I would have to say the answers to these reasonable questions are still formulating in my mind. I look forward to hearing from the colleagues I made that weekend. I know for certain that White Crane will continue with the Academy, on both coasts, with Chris and Scott and Kevin….and David A. and Tauheed Z. and Steven B., Pablo C., Matty H., Andres H., Tim C., Michael M., Marc M., Harlan S., Angel O., Eric K., Chris M., Bill J, Fred L., Brandon A., Peter L., Nayck F., Dennis H., Rexaford D, William K., and Michael D. Thanks gentlemen, for an amazing weekend.

A word on the "age range" mentioned above…as well as the focus on "health." I know of at least one, esteemed leader in the arts community here in NYC who opted not to attend because he felt he might be "too old." And I think he was struggling with how to connect his expertise in the field of theater and arts with the stated purpose of "gay men’s health."

This was a pity…and I plan on continuing the conversation with this friend. Because it was the very differences he would have brought to this weekend that would have made his contribution unique, interesting and valuable. Remember, the intent was to break out of the old boxes of thinking. So the differences of age, race and areas of expertise could only add to the mix and make it richer. A good deal of time was spent even defining the term "leader." Old accepted definitions were challenged, reexamined and, I think, a new seed of an idea… about how to lead, and who leads, and where we might be being lead…was planted. I mentioned that Eric’s definition of "health" was the same as our definition of "spiritual." That is to say, it is anything that provides you with, and nurtures in you, a deeper relationship with yourself, your community and the world. It is consciousness…of yourself, your community, the world. It is a form of  "deep ecology."  P1010014

The plan is to continue. A Gay Men’s Health Yahoo! group has been set up for attendees to continue the conversation…to continue the network…to plan for next year’s Gay Men’s Leadership Academy (coming soon to a link near you!).

We hope you think about coming. We hope you come.

Mid-Atlantic Men’s Gathering

1herm1_1This weekend I attended the Fall Gatherette of the Mid-Atlantic Men’s Gathering (MA-MG1herm4).   This is the Autumnal installment — a little smaller and less structured — of a larger Spring gathering that has been held in the Mid-Atlantic region for over 20 years.

It is now held at The Hermitage, an amazing intentional community built by two gay men in Central Pennsylvania.  These two caretakers have gathered, nay, rescued, historic buildings from the surrounding valleys of 1herm3_1this historic farming region. They have transported them to the site, lovingly rebuilt and preserved them for future generations. So, stepping on to the land, is like transporting oneself to a farmstead of two centu1herm5_1ries ago. 

The Gemeinehaus is the jewel in the crown, a Moravian  meeting house from the 1700s with its original stone hearth and circular staircases. It is a wonder to behold, a pleasure to walk through, and an experience to spend a night in.  The setting is rustic but the furnishings are all period and the experience is singular.

This Fall we had a dozen men, all gay,  who gathered to renew themselves on the land — far from the hum of electricity or the busyness of modern bother. 

1herm2_11hermI am always struck by the profundity of gay men gathering in nature to reconnect with one another.  It is too rare an occurence in our life and they stand as experiences of grounding one another in our nature as loving men. There were artists and novelists and cooks and all gentle souls who created a few days space for happiness with fellow travelers.

What other gatherings do people take part in around the country?  May you all experience many such weekends of easy joy.

Change in Editors Leaves Gannon Behind

For over a year I’ve been on a personal media boycott against the Washington Blade, DC’s largest gay news weekly. Why? Because of executive editor Chris Crain’s continued, pigheaded printing of editorial commentator Jeff Gannon. Gannon, a former gay-escort-service-boy-turned-right-wing-political-sockpuppet has been spewing vitriolic, self-loathing, gay-baiting garbage all over the editorial pages of the Blade for over a year. His columns were so foul that I would always walk away from them with anger written all over me.

There were dozens of other reasons to hate the Blade, repeated transphobic comments among them. To me, however, seeing Jeff Gannon’s bald head in the paper made me want to vomit all over it and shove it back in the box. I couldn’t believe that a gay newspaper would print something so wrong, by someone so virulently opposed to the gay rights movements that he would actively work against it. It was like having Roy Cohn as a guest writer. 

Hundreds of people complained, and complained regularly.  But for whatever reason (maybe Crain liked hate mail?) Gannon continued to be printed.  The letters to the editor would pour in and Crain would say that they just couldn’t get anyone better.  In one editorial he even went so far to say that if he could sign on an ex-gay writer to the staff he would do so in a heartbeat.  It was more than gross irresponsibility, it was a full on assault upon the readers of the paper.

However, all of that is changing. Last Friday, September 15th, Chris Crain announced his departure from his executive editor position at the Blade. He seems to be moving on to the greener pastures of Rio de Janeiro with his partner. Good for him, and good for the Blade. Kevin Naff, formerly managing editor, will take his place. In an article published today on Media Bistro Kevin says that his first action will be to drop Jeff Gannon. Even better!

So for me, the boycott is over, and as of this week I’ll be picking up the Blade once more. Let’s hope that Kevin does more work to turn the paper around and up the quality of the editorial page.


Circle Voting

We wanted to call particular attention to White Crane contributor and Advisory Board member Murray Edelman’s newest project, Circle Voting. To quote the site:

    "The circle is an important symbol in the lives and ceremonies of traditional people as it refers to the connectedness of all life. When we meet in a circle we are all at the same level and interdependent.

    "The important policy issues of today are also about circles, living in balance with the environment and respecting circles of different peoples (human rights, education, social justice) and honoring the value of life (affordable healthcare); these can be called the "Circles of Life."   

    "In politics today, these issues are objectified and manipulated to be used as weapons for gaining power in a campaign, and the issues are often used for pitting one group against another. For politicians it is about getting elected and re-elected — raising large amounts of money and getting the right people to vote. But these are issues about our hearts and lives. It is no wonder many of us are alienated from politics today."


Murray Edelman is one of the innovating elders of the gay community, going back to his early work in gay bathhouses, as a faerie, his support of Arthur Evans’ seminal writings and many years of service and support with Clyde Hall, now as the President of the Board, for the Naraya Preservation Council. We urge you to check out Circle Voting.

Viva Pedro

Vivapedro Last night my boyfriend and I had the luck to notice that the Pedro Almodovar film "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" was playing at the AFI Silver Theater in Washington, D.C. (well, Silver Spring, Maryland, but it’s close enough). When we got there we saw that this was just the beginning of something much more exciting.

Viva Pedro is a retrospective re-release of eight classic films by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, all leading up to the U.S. release of his latest film "Volver" opening on November 3rd.

Almo1Selected theaters around the country will be showing these movies, and copies of the VHS and DVD’s have been pulled from store shelves until the series is over. The selections include: "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," "Talk to Her," "All About My Mother," "Live Flesh," "The Flower of My Secret," "Law of Desire," "Bad Education," and "Matador."

Now I hadn’t seen "Women on the Verge" in like 10 years, and it was a very different experience watching it on video then and seeing it in the theater now. For one, I was only 20 when I saw the film and being young and naive camp humor was pretty much lost on me. No longer! Oh my god, it was a RIOT in that theater! The credits alone had my gay heart singing with glee. But the scenes themselves were just beyond compare. Pepa setting Almo2_hfire to the bed and putting it out with the garden hose with the look of joy and hate in her eyes, the girlfriend who had a fling with terrorists and was running from the law, the psycho wife with two revolvers in her handbag, the closeup shots of high heel shoes walking on marble, doing voice dubs for Joan Crawford movies… I mean the list goes on and on and on. It was a great experience, and if you have the chance to go out and see one of these movies, please, do yourself a favor and go!

Building Connections & Community for Gay Men since 1989