Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Forget Star Wars -- We've Got Real Wars

I was 11 when the first Stars Wars movie hit the screen. It was probably the second movie I'd ever seen in a theater. The special effects, the sounds. It was awesome, and my TV-tweaked imagination loved it. George Lucas, reportedly, was never happy with it because he believed the effects could have been better. You've gotta love an artist who is always trying to make their work better.

I haven't seen the new movie, and I must admit that I've only seen the first three movies from start to finish, so I'm behind in my Star Wars viewing. Unfortunately, there are far more interesting wars at hand, and as interesting as Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea -- oops, did I say that out loud --- are, they aren't nearly as interesting as the culture wars.

Book banning, book editing, changing the laws to fit arcane ideas of family, urban sprawl, class warfare, it's a scary cartoon-type snowball charging downhill with no signs of stopping. Remember cartoon depictions of snowballs? They'd start as tennis-sized balls, then as they roll downhill, they pick up more snow, and anything or anyone in its path. By the time the snowball reached the foot of the mountain, there were branches sticking out, and usually a pair of skis.

I have to once again express my terror that soon queer people; not just the same-sex attracted, but people in committed polyamorous relationships and opposite-sex couples with no desire to get married as well, will be forced underground somehow or rounded up and placed in re-programming camps. Think about the sheer terror of it, and think about how things are being set up to enable such enterrment. Okay, sodomy laws have been thrown out, but state laws specifically banning same-sex marriage have passed, including the barring of any benefits of marriage such as estate protection, hospital visitation, medical decision-making. Some states have banned adoption by unmarried persons or same-sex couples. And a group in California is introducing its bill that would ban:
Same-sex marriage
Foster parenting by gay couples
Second-parent adoption (a lesbian mother gives birth to a child, the non-birth parent becomes the second parent)
Health insurance
Medical leave rights (which could make the enforcement of FMLA difficult, and pave the way for its nullification)
Inheritance rights

A recent episode of "Queer As Folk" featured as one of its subplots a "Proposition 14" that if passed would void domestic partnerships, powers of attorney, gay and second parent adoptions, nullify contractual agreements such as mortgages obtained by unmarried same-sex persons, visitation rights, and health care proxies. Although fictional, it's not impossible to imagine. What the religious right doesn't want to admit is that they're not merely interested in preserving what they call traditional marriage, but their focus is the erosion of anything that makes day-to-day living for Joe Gay and Jane Lesbian possible. No job, no money. No money, no housing. No address, no applying for welfare or other government support. No government support, limited access to healthcare. Cutbacks to healthcare, eventual death. If we increasingly lose our foothold in the game of life, we eventually have to cry uncle, and give in to a heterosexual way of life. Which is pretty much what they usually accuse us of; indoctrination.

The real war isn't being fought in Iraq, although we are deep in hell in that morass. It's being fought in the name of evangelical Christianity, and who wants to argue with the Bible? Do you feel like fighting God? Consider this. I once went to a taping of "Showtime At The Apollo" which features the audience's assessment of performers. If the audience boos enough, "Sandman" Sims, a loveable hoofer in a silly costume, comes from the wings with a giant hook to drag the offender off the stage. However, few people ever boo someone who sings gospel. Even if they can't carry a tune in a bucket, no one wants to boo God.

Billy Graham's Last Crusade (it had to be capitalized because of the huge media coverage) was big news. This guy has advised Presidents, including the current clown. Supposedly, GWB stopped drinking, and devoted himself anew to his loving wife. Rev. Billy doesn't have that great a track record when it comes to non-evangelical Christians, or with non-Christians, for that matter. He's been recorded making disparaging remarks about Jews. He's skirted questions about his feelings on same-sex marriage, claiming he's more interested in matters of spirituality than of politics, while his son Franklin is a big supporter of a Constitutional banning of same-sex marriage. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed, all names you've heard, are all captains of the army in the war on the homosexual. And I'm betting that one of these clowns has called Tom "I know everything about everything and can't stop telling people how much I know about everything" Cruise to see if he'll offer his two cents (again) since L. Ron Hubbard wasn't exactly supportive of the gays.

And we need to wake up and pay attention. Although Canada is looking like a pretty good place to live, especially since same-sex couples can marry almost anywhere there, but I'm not Canadian. This is my home. I was born here. My African ancestors bled and died building this country. Immigrants like my Jamaican mother came here looking for a better way of life, and worked and contributed with tax money to build this country's infrastructure. It wasn't that long ago that Blacks were not only treated like sixth-class citizens, but these same evangelical firebrands preached against integration and equality, or were criminally, numbingly silent in the face of brutality, and the holocaust of lynching. Black evangelicals need to stop settling for the crumb they've been thrown, and recognize that's all they're going to get. They will not get the whole loaf. They won't even get a slice in exchange for their betrayal of Black gays & lesbians.

I'm not really sure why I'm so pissed off today, but it doesn't matter. More of us need to get pissed off. More of us need to recognize that battle lines have been drawn. What do you plan to do?

Where will you be when they come? -- Pat Parker, Poet

Monday, June 20, 2005

We Scare Them! We Scare Them!

This will serve as my official LGBTQ Pride Post. Yes, I write about homosexuality often. Yes, I'm always admonishing closet cases to come out. Yes, I'm often striking the religiously narrow about the head and neck with my pissed-off stick. However, every LGBTQ/SGL-identified writer ought to say something inspiring about Pride, or pride.

It is the day after my group has performed at New York City's Heritage of Pride Rally, in front of a few thousand, including friends and co-workers, gay and not. And, interestingly enough, it is also the day after Father's Day. And, also as interesting, many churches use Father's Day as Men's Day.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Black Church's celebration of Men's Day, it usually goes like this. If the church doesn't already have a men's choir, it will put one together for this day. The men who have made a significant contribution to the well-being of the church will receive a certificate. The men of the church will be asked to wear a special color or outfit, like a black suit, white shirt, and red tie. Or at least the men's choir will. And there will be a special sermon on the fathers of the Bible, like Noah, who got drunk and had sex with his daughters, and Abraham, who cheated on his infertile wife with another woman, got her pregnant, and then cast her and the child she had out once he got his wife pregnant, only to then put that child on an altar for sacrifice, and perhaps even Lot. Ah, Lot.

Lot is the main character in the Sodom & Gomorrah tale. This is the oft-abused story used to show homosexuality bad, heterosexuality good. The story goes that a group of angels are sent by God to check out these twin cities because they have a reputation for being arrogant and nasty to strangers. Sounds a lot like the religious right, hmm. So, upon arrival, the angels end up chillin' with Lot, who is the only one to welcome them, but the angels are also subject to interrogation, and threats of violence from the townies. They want "to know" the angels, usually interpreted as knowing in the conjugal sense, and to appease the townies, Lot offers his virgin daughters instead, in the conjugal sense. Nice, huh? So, we don't have a story of normal sexual behavior in adults, but of warped power relations and rape, which as we know is not about sexuality, but of power and violence.

Unfortunately, some nutcase read the actions of the mostly male townies (as stories without gender specification involving Jews are overwhelmingly male) toward the male (use the same formula for assumption) angels as sexual, rather than violent, and there you have it. I realize I've veered a bit from the premise in my first paragraph, but bear with me. I promise to pull it all together.

We're so frightened of the power of sexuality and we are overwhelmingly misinformed about what makes the plumbing work, or what defines males and females, that we automatically assume that any male that doesn't conform to what we think should define male, is suspect. And that brings me back to Pride, with a capital "p."

What makes Gay Pride to me so wacky and wonderful, and wackily wonderful, and well, wonderfully wacky, is that the outside world sees exactly what those of us "in the life" see all the time. We see girly boys and boyish girls, like me. We see men who love dressing up like women, and we see men who take all that is thought to be masculine to the extreme. We see women who love women who look like women who love men, replete with long nails, painted faces, high heels and short skirts. We see parents at the Lesbian & Gay Pride Rally, who wish the host comedian wouldn't use adult language in front of their kids. We see couples, male and female, holding hands, gazing into each other's eyes as if no one else in the world existed. We dance for hours, trying to block out the reality that just outside the doors of the club, or just outside the doors of our home await people armed with weapons of physical destruction, and politicians armed with weapons of emotional destruction. We scare THEM, they, who, frightened of what is unfamiliar and undefined, work tirelessly to keep us from living, and from all that helps us live; a home, access to complete health care, employment, and yes, celebration; celebration in worship of a God who loves us as we are and welcomes us to the table.

We scare them, especially gay men, because society is sure of its knowledge of men and how they walk in the world. Sure of how men want to love, even when it's assumed they don't really love except in the context of sex. Sure that men, because of their greater physical stature, must be the dominant party in the sexual encounter. Sure that men, who are dominant, couldn't possibly want to be anything other than dominant, whether in the sexual encounter, or walking through life. We scare them, and it's a damn good thing. Fear begets chaos, and chaos begets order.

So, to my lesbian sisters and gay brothers, keep dancing for hours, gazing into each other's eyes, and raising your kids. Come out, live well, love strong, and play safe. Keep scarin' em, and Happy Pride.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Today's "Lord, Help Me" News

Quick, fast & in a hurry...

The Schiavo Case

Let it go, already. The fundies are jonesin' so hard for a "proved my case" piece that even AFTER an autopsy supported Michael Schiavo's assertions that Terri would not be even close to normal if kept alive indefinitely, and that he didn't abuse her, the state or Florida just won't give up. Now, according to an AP report, Gov. Jeb Bush is calling for an inquiry into Schiavo's delay in calling 911 for assistance. Florida has been the scene of a lot of dopey things (not counting Dopey), but this is the winner for the week. Move on. Terri is dead. You're looking for a reason, other than, um, what's the word I'm looking for here, SCIENCE, for her death, and there's nothing there. Let it go.

The Edgar Ray Killen Trial

God, bless Edgar Ray Killen. I mean that with all sincerity. May God have mercy on you, for if there is any justice in the world, the jury won't. I feel compassion for your many illnesses, but no illness compares to that of good ol' soul rot. Even if you never pulled a trigger, never lit a match, or tied a noose, you, sir, are guilty of aiding in the killing of three men who only wanted to help a deserving group of people get what they deserve. And, so should you.

And, to the media, who have spent more time on Natalee Holloway than on this trial, shame on you. Shame on you for spending endless hours on the Michael Jackson trial, which will eclipse the Killen trial in your eyes. Shame on you for continuing to sensationalize the missing who are White and female, as opposed to the missing men of color, and children of color.

Somebody Still Believes White is Right and Blacks Should Step Back

This is my favorite of today's news. Two Princeton researchers published the results of a study showing that White men with felony records were offered entry-level jobs more often than Black men with the same felony records, and Black men without felony records. The researchers sent out 13 White, Black and Latino men (no info was given on Latino men) to interview for more than 3500 jobs ranging from deli clerk, cashier, and telemarketer. The test subjects were coached on what to say about the neighborhoods they lived in, work history, and education (only high school). 7 out of 10 White ex-cons were offered jobs, while 3 out of 10 Black ex-cons were. In someone's eyes, if you're White, you're less likely to drive that knife you're cutting my turkey with into my chest than if you're Black.

Lord, help me.

A Standing Ovation

I really dig Dr. Julianne Malveaux. She always seems to say what needs to be said and it doesn't hurt that she has the credentials to back it up. How many Black female Ph.Ds in economics (from MIT!) are speaking openly about race in America? As educated at Condoleeza Rice is, I'm not convinced that she didn't drink the Kool-Aid. But, Dr. Malveaux is the kind of Black person; the kind of Black woman most White men in power are totally scared of.

In an opinion piece on USA Today, Dr. Malveaux tells the truth about the recent apology offered by the Senate for the abhorrent lynching legacy in America. A token, at best, Dr. Malveaux suggests that if the Senate; nay, if America is really serious about reconciliation (which is different from apology) with the African-American community, it needs to put its money where its mouth is. She cites reparations, but I ain't holdin' my breath, nor am I planning to use it as collateral for buying my house.

I hope you'll visit her site and read her writings. From nasty things America doesn't want to talk about like lynchings, the role of slavery in the building of corporate America, to the flawed homeownership and credit system, I think she deserves a standing ovation for avoiding the "talkin' loud and sayin' nothin' " syndrome, and really speaking truth to power about what ails the Black community.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shared Strengths, Shared Stigmas

In today's NY Times, an article on China's HIV prevention programs says they are modeled after New York City's programs from early in the crisis. Another article, published on 365gay.com, cites a report by Human Rights Watch that says HIV workers in China are routinely harassed, which I suppose would draw similarities between programs here and in China.

In the early 90's, I worked in HIV prevention programs, one in particular, that worked primarily with IV drug users. Instrumental in getting New York City to fund a needle exchange program, they kept watch on how cops treated IV drug users. Under current law, you can be arrested for possession of drug paraphenalia unless you have a prescription (say if you're a diabetic who take IV insulin). Exceptions are supposed to be made for participants in a needle exchange program, who are issued an i.d. card, which should prevent arrest. As you can imagine, cops have arrested needle exchange clients, confiscated works, confiscated and/or destroyed said i.d. cards.

In China, facing a health crisis similar to Africa's, condom advertising is illegal, as well as any website that mentions homosexuality, whether or not specifically sexual messages appear on the site. Mainly, however, the concern is with needle-using heroin addicts and prostitutes, as it is in Africa.

Oddly enough, China once had a birth restriction, where couples were limited to having just 2 children, and the practice of aborting girls was, and in some areas still is, routine. Recently, however, NBC News reported that China's population was becoming unbalanced in favor of boys. For a country with unusual, to say the least, sexual habits, dictated by the government, more often than not, it is sad that opportunities for the government to step in again, to work for good, are being missed.

It seems that no matter where you go, sex still represents the final frontier. Almost every major scientifically-sophistcated nation can send, or has sent, missiles, satellites, or vehicles into space, but can't seem to conquer its fear of the body; its drive for pleasure, the need for love, and the hunger for escapism.

Sigh.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Is There Anything New Under the Sun?

"... we must look out for squalls, for a strong man with homicidal and religious mania at once might be dangerous." Dr. Jack Seward's journal; Dracula, by Bram Stoker

The blurb of the handy 5-buck pocket edition of Dracula, from Barnes & Noble, reads thusly:

In this story of a prim and arrogant society, threatened by a supernatural force, Stoker captured the fears of his age. Dracula represents everything respectable Victorians feared: the irrational, the pagan, the erotic, and the foreign.

Oooh, juicy. So, in 1897, ol' Bram (and we thought we had interesting names in this modern age), pens a tale of a freak and his freakishness, and the freaks he clips to his belt, along with the wannabe freaks and those set out to destroy the freaks. All would be well if Drac just stuck to killing rats.

I'm not supporting killing, so don't trip. I'm just saying that in film adaptations, including the most recent, 2003's Van Helsing (not a cinematic tour de force, but a fun action flick featuring the marvelously cartoonish Hugh Jackman), the upshot is that Dracula is simply misunderstood. Deep down, he's a dude done wrong, and isn't seeking to do evil as much as he wants to live his life his way and on his terms. If you look closely, you might even see a similarity in the "homosexual agenda" argument. Gays & lesbians want to live their lives on their terms; have legal ties supporting their relationships, protection of their homes and jobs, protection for the children they raise. LGBT people aren't going away, despite calls for their wearing of labels, the branding of the HIV-positive, and this gem, from the great state of California, whose very own, elected by the people governator wants to call a special election to mute special interest groups, including teachers and union leaders, who disagree with shitty policies rolling downhill from Sacramento.

In a Catholic school in Costa Mesa, California, a group of parents raised a major fuss over the enrolling of 2 children, parented by two men. The argument was that the school violated Roman Catholic Church policy by permitting the kid to come to the school simply because Skippy and Sammy have 2 daddies. This isn't being mean-spirited, says the parents' group, it's an attempt to make sure the school is teaching, and abiding by Catholic doctrine. The parents lose, and the kids attend the school. In the latest news about this debacle, the school tells the fathers of Skippy & Sammy (I don't know what their names are) that they CAN'T APPEAR AT SCHOOL FUNCTIONS TOGETHER.

So, you take my money. You let my kids attend your school because you've taken my money, and now you're telling me, and other parents that we have to "display appropriate conduct, in order to support the school's mission and provide positive role models to our students." Here's what you have to do: make sure there aren't any pedophile priests handling my kids, ya great living-in-a-glass-house-stone-throwing-hypocrite. Provide a positive role model for your students, who include my kids, by dropping the "I'm okay, you're going to hell" act. Oh, and in case you thought Dad & Pop were off the hook, I say find another school for your kids come September. No, you're not caving in to pressure, you're making sure your children receive the best education possible, and they won't get it in that bigot pit. No matter how high the state testing scores, no matter how many graduates go on to Ivy League schools, no matter how many athletic accolades or great arts programs that school has, none of those things will leave a bigger impression than the school-sanctioned bullying your kids will suffer at the hands of children raised by bigots, and patted on the back by the PTA.

Nope, there isn't anything new under the sun. Ol' Bram Stoker hit the nail on the head in 1897.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why? Why? Why?

I've just learned that an old friend passed away after fighting breast cancer for several years. I'm just gonna go into a pissed-off rant, if you don't mind.

Of all the fucking people in the fucking world, Dee Thompson shouldn't have been the one to go today. She shouldn't have, nor should Jaysane Wright, or Dorothy Dantzler, or Bathsheba, or any of the good, decent, kind, people who were beautiful gay & lesbian, strong Black warriors. Why, God, are we left to deal with the lowlife excuses for people that work and work, exploiting your name to make life so hard? Why?

Dee Thompson was a butch, an aggressive, the kind of lesbian you might think was a man. Her voice was deep. She was one of the best tenors in my choir. She had a heart of gold. Ask her for something, she was there. Ask for help, she said yes. She was the salt of the earth. Her partner is also a sweetheart, and I pray that comfort will come swiftly. I pray that Dee's family won't turn out to be one of those that wants to take away any recognition of Dee's relationship with her partner, Janette.

3:30 PM. Of course, the words haven't come off the keyboard, and I've found out that one of Dee's sister, some bitch without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of has dared to say to Janette : Who are you to say what my sister wants?

I'm trying not to bust out into tears at work, but I'm hot right now. Queer couples, if you're reading this, make sure everybody knows what you want. Write it down. Get it notarized. Become domestic partners, if your city has DP's available. Make sure your partner knows where your important papers are, including insurance policies, wills, living wills, health care proxies, and make sure at least 2 blood relatives know where they are.

Butches, aggressives, put away your fear of the doctor, and get regular checkups. Dee would never have found out she had cancer were it not for an exam for something else. Within days of that checkup, she had a breast removed. Within the next 12 months, the other would be removed. She fought homophobia, alcoholism, and she even fought cancer. In the end, even though it took her life, it didn't win.

Deborah "Dee" Thompson, God bless you. Represent for the butches in heaven, okay?

Flag Day

June 14 is Flag Day. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Flag Day was arranged by a teacher in Wisconsin, and later made into an official holiday by President Harry Truman in 1949.

I don't particularly believe in saluting a flag, or in the Pledge of Allegiance, or the singing of the National Anthem, mainly because its idolatry, but also because in an atmosphere that routinely steps on the things the flag, pledge, and anthem are supposed to stand for, and I try not to be hypocritical. That being said, I offer this.

I am an American. I am an American-born woman of African descent, who is also a lesbian. I don't take it for granted that I couldn't be any of those things publicly in many countries, and I am grateful that I can be who I am where I am. I am patriotic in that in all of its imperfection, America does present opportunities for people to do what they want, when they want, and how they want as long as it is within the law and doesn't harm anyone else. I am also patriotic in that I exercise my right to say what I want, even if it differs from commonly held or acceptable views.

Let's reflect on Flag Day, not so much as an opportunity to worship the flag, but as a chance to remember that Americans aren't just White Christian middle-class heterosexuals. Be all that you are, whoever you are.

By the way, check out the CS Monitor article. It's all about flags, and it's neat that they look at the flags that fly over countries with Black and Brown populations. Just ignore the colonial past.

I Forgot I Was a New Yorker

Holy cheesetoast, Batman, I totally forgot I was a New Yorker for a minute. I've written so much about queer issues that I've completely neglected to say anything about the 3 biggest fiascos in recent New York history: the Brooklyn Nets Stadium, the West Side Stadium, and the Olympic bid. Let's just go in order, shall we?

The Brooklyn Nets Stadium

As a Park Slope resident, formerly a Fort Greene and Clinton Hill resident, my stomach absolutely turns at the thought of living so effing close to such a mess. As corny and cliche as it sounds (and it does), I live in Brooklyn, well, truthfully, because I can afford it (although I have lived in Tribeca, but that's another post), but mainly because it isn't Manhattan. People living really close together, the constant traffic, loud drunken posers, rampant classism. It's all just nauseating. And then there's Brooklyn, the county of Kings. Oh sure, it's not Utopia. And it hasn't been without controversy, including gay bashings and racial incidents, but this beats all. So, last year, we hear that developer Bruce Ratner has purchased the New Jersey Nets, and has big plans to bring the team to Brooklyn. On its face, that doesn't seem so bad. A basketball team with winning potential. Beats the Knicks, certainly. Well, further down the road, us mere mortals find out that part of bringing the Nets to the big BK involves building a stadium which would have proverbial arms into several communities: Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Park Slope (mainly the northern end). Additionally, thousands would be displaced as ineluctable abuses of eminent domain, AKA "Get the hell out 'cuz you don't deserve to stay; we makin' money, and you blockin da flow" ensue. Already, entire buildings have been purchased, and residents forced out. In one building, a lone holdout (God bless this dude!) refuses to sell.

The West Side Stadium

The Jets somehow broker a deal with the city to build a stadium for the Jets to play in. Oh, and as an afterthought, it would also be a convention center. Like the already-existing Javits Center. Yes, another pro team would play here, and there would be meetings and conventions, exhibits and displays. The big deal is that the plan is to build on land that is currently vacant and pretty much function-free. Oh, and the city would be asked to kick in $300 million. That's 300 million dollars. Teachers who work for New York City public schools have been working without a contract for 2 years, firehouses have closed. Gov. Pataki is pushing for the state to sign on even though the money would probably be better spent on say improving transit, keeping token booths open. Certainly, those who are big on Lower Manhattan say rebuild. And God bless Sheldon Silver, he's the only one with stones big enough to say this is a bad idea.

The Olympics

I don't know of an American city that feels it has fared better after hosting the Olympic Games. Hell, I went to the Gay Games held here back in 1994, and we're talking a similar scale (thousands of athletes, millions of visitors). That event pretty much went broke. Atlanta hosted the Olympics in 1996, and there was a bombing. Los Angeles was too far back for me to remember (1968? I was 2 years old!), but if I recall, under then-governor Ronald Reagan, the city experienced its worst racial conflicts. And, when they came back to L.A. in 1984, it wasn't much better. Anyway, I'm just a fat-ass who'll never make the Gay Games (except in the chorus), much less the Olympics, but it seems to me that a city spends 10 or so years building and improving its infrasturcture for an influx of a few extra million people who spend less than a month in that city, hardly seems worth it to me. Yet, here is Mayor Mike "We've let America down" Bloomberg, pushing like mad to get the Games here. And, whaddya know, someone figures out, at long last, that maybe Queens is the better place. Or, we can even use an already-existing venue!

What Sucks About All Three

The union boys crying "they'll bring jobs to the city" are talking about a tiny amount of permanent jobs, and mainly for, well, union boys. Yes, you need a convention hall electrician to hook up the electricity in your convention booth, but how many of you cats need to be in full-time employ? Or would be, even? Most of these same unionistas are White men, and not residents of New York City. Their payroll tax wouldn't benefit the City, they'd benefit locales as far away as the Poconos (believe me, I've been on commuter buses with these guys; lots of them are willing to take a 3-hour ride one way to come work here). Sure, they'll put out a call for female and minority-owned vendors, but the cats who'll end up working on these monstrocities, both in Brooklyn and Manhattan, aren't the ones who really need a job. Your 4-bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom, 2-car garage with swimming pool in the back, and his & hers SUVs are proof of that.

The traffic in Midtown is hell. It's cold, stinky hell at Christmas -- have you ever tried to drive down Broadway from 57th street to 28th street during the holiday season? Imagine the same kind of traffic on Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue, where Saturday morning shoppers at Pathmark, the legit gypsy cabs, the minivan owners who aren't cab drivers, but are hustling rides anyway, and jaywalking pedestrians clamoring to get to Party City so their baby's daddy can pay for Man Man's balloons for his birthday party (the one that will have more adults than children in attendance) or to wretched Chuck E. Cheese for a slice of frozen pizza microwaved to just the right hot cheese stuck to the roof of your mouth second-degree burn temperature, all bring a 4-lane thoroughfare to a screeching, accident-causing halt. Why in hell would you subject 3 communities to that? Oh, silly me. It's all about the Benjamins. 'Cuz really, the stadium, and its thinly veiled public good bullshit is a front for a bunch of luxury high-rise developments that won't benefit anyone except Cleveland-born Bruce Ratner.

And, finally, the Olympics. What a total pantload. I have yet to understand why -- yes, yes, I know, money -- anybody thinks this is a good idea. Olympic marathoners have run the New York City Marathon in November, when it isn't always optimal running temperature. Why would they want to do it in August -- has anyone ever experienced summer in New York? New York streets have this grease slick, rancid garbage smell exacerbated by rats using the street as a toilet, fed to fatness courtesy of rotting refuse in overflowing garbage cans. The heat wafting up from smoldering asphalt is vile. Thousands of tourists create sidewalk bottlenecks as they stop to buy a $20 Louis Vuitton bag (girl, don't try to pass it off as real -- it totally looks fake!). Car fumes, too much perfume, too little perfume. It's ghastly. And how much did New York spend on the Republicans during their convention last year, to have them turn around this year and demand we give back September 11 money?

I knew the end was near when Times Square was sanitized. I knew trouble lay ahead when St. Marks Place was no longer home to tattoo parlors and head shops. Hell, I knew something wicked was this way coming when Dojo, home of the $3 tofu burger with brown rice plate, opened a pretty little outpost near NYU. But, come on people, this stuff just doesn't make sense. Yes, the titty bars, porn theaters, and peep shows were nasty, but Times Square today, with its light-up marquee McDonalds, and endless crap souvenir shops isn't much better. And, at least the porno theaters saw more action than the highly touted New Victory Theater does. The closing of CBGB, the West Village piers being turned into a waterfront park where queer kids of color will no longer be welcomed, are tragic.

There comes a point in every native New Yorker's life where she longs for days of yore. The days of yesteryear where a young lesbian roamed the streets of the Village because that's were the gay people were. The hetero days, spent with an alcoholic freak of a boyfriend in a porno theater on 42nd street with a giant dick on the giant screen plowing a giant pussy while the mice ran across the floor. Walking through Washington Square Park to the chants of "smoke, smoke." I know it all sounds absolutely skanky, but that's what made finding the little sparkling places so cool. Referring to the A train as the Africa Express because it took Black gays & lesbians home to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, now home to White yuppies and hipsters. I miss those days. Hell, I miss not paying so much for my New York experience.

Maybe it's time for me to find a new New York. Somewhere that isn't New York.

Jumping On The Bandwagon -- Let's Get It Over With

Okay, I'm weighing in on the Michael Jackson thing, and then I'm moving on.

Having served on a jury after dodging the bullet a couple of times, I understand what happened in the case. The jury has to determine if a crime has been committed based on how the law is defined, not on the appearance of committing a crime according to the court of public opinion. The question, did the defendant commit X crime based on the evidence presented, is what has to be answered. And, if the answer is no, everybody gets to go home and sleep in their own bed that night. And, that's what happened.

As I said yesterday, everyone suffers in these celebrity trials. The defendant, the victim, even the ever dumbening (thank you Lisa Simpson for the word!) public. I was on the train on Sunday morning when this dumbass is talking about Mike Tyson and his assorted sordities, including the time in jail for rape, and this failed experiment says:

You gonna go up to a man's room at 2 in the morning, and turn him on? What do you expect?

I refrained from responding, even though I did shake my head in disdain because I was on my way to church, was already pissed about something else, and didn't want to get Mr. Intelligence agitated even further, but I digress. My point is that a majority of the public gets stupider and stupider as time goes on, including supporting those who are guilty of inappropriate behavior, which is different from committing a crime. That's one side of the suffering triangle. The second is the side of the victim. It's tough enough to bring a case forward. You will always be seen as exploitative if you go after a celebrity, the stupid public taking the side of the celebrity (as my man did above), because a celebrity can't EVER be wrong. So, you were genuinely wronged, and you bring your case to trial. You're exposed to the world (remember the victim in the Kobe Bryant case?), and once that happens, you have difficulty, to say the least, in getting your life back; support of friends and family, privacy, normalcy. And, last, the accused. Let's say you really didn't do it. You're never viewed the same again, even if found innocent. You've paid thousands to lawyers and "experts" to prove your innocence. Private details are exposed. Your privacy was tough to maintain anyway, but it's shot to hell now. And if guilty, even the humbling time in jail is media fodder.

Frankly, I'm glad the damn trial is over. I'm always glad it's over. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks half of these things are purposely staged to keep the non-thinking percentage of the public from wondering what the hell their tax dollars are paying for. And what the hell will the draft, which is coming back, and will include women, for the first time in U.S. history, mean for American society? Why don't we talk about the hundred-thousand-plus Iraqis killed in this farce of a war in addition to the more than 1700 Americans killed? Why aren't we screaming about the renewal of the Patriot Act and why aren't we putting a foot in the ass of our elected officials that support the ever-increasing invasion of our privacy?

Okay, I've gotten this trial business out of my system. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Verdict

4:55 pm. I, like the rest of America, am waiting patiently to find out if Michael Jackson breathes the air of the free again, or if he's going "away to school." I haven't said much about the case, because I'm trying really hard to stay away from Hollywood news. It's much too anxiety-causing. I will say, however, that in most of these trials, no one wins. Lives are ruined, reputations scarred. It's not pretty. And, it's not like Mike has that much of a career to resurrect. Neither did the other Mike (Tyson, that is). One Mike got an ass-whuppin, let's see what the other Mike gets...

5:00. Still waiting. Hands shaking like a dope fiend. Heart racing like I've just had a cup of coffee. Geez, this is nerve-wracking. My head is starting to hurt.

5:14. Nothing. Of course, everyone is visiting CNN.com.

5:19 Not guilty. Anyone who is surprised needs a smack to the temples. In the court of popular opinion, it was probably a split verdict. But, according to the question of law, he's cleared.

Hope he can get his life back.

More Media Madness

Once again, my girl Angry Black Bitch, has scooped me on a juicy bit of social gristle, but where she was pretty righteous with hers, I'm taking mine to the dark side, no pun intended. So, a young woman from Alabama, goes missing during a senior class trip to Aruba. Not a college trip, but a high school trip. I'll leave the child of privilege thing alone.

The story changes from week to week, but here's what we have so far. Natalee Holloway, along with 123 other graduating high school seniors, traveled to Aruba to celebrate their graduation. There were 7 chaperones. Let's stop there.

124 horny, privileged White kids, more than likely with a propensity for binge drinking when Mom 'ndem ain't lookin', are given a trip to Aruba. I'm not too old to remember my high school senior trip -- it never took place because the class from the previous year got busted with pot & booze, and were having sex everywhere and with anyone. 7 chaperones to 124 kids means each chaperone is responsible for 17 or 18 kids. Put 2 kids in a room, that's 9 rooms to watch. Somebody is sneaking out after curfew. And, it's no secret that many young White people, as shown on MTV Spring Break, are likely to get fucked up and go after some dick or pussy, whatever the preference. Don't call me racist -- watch MTV's annual coverage of spring break. I'm not making this up.

So, surveillance tapes from the hotel's casino show some of these kids playing poker with one of the suspects. According to Aruba.com, Aruba's official tourism site, the gambling age is 18. How many of these kids were actually of age? One chaperone to every 17 kids. Next, the victim reportedly hung out all night with the suspects, who, by the way, as of yesterday were not the security guards originally thought responsible, but two others, closer in age to the victim. That doesn't mean the security guards have been released, though, but I digress. The victim was reportedly kissing one of the new suspects, and that's all we know happened. Somebody said this, somebody said that, they said they dropped the girl back at the hotel, but surveillance tapes don't show that, blah blah blah. It's the same shit in rape cases all over again.

I say hang the bastards if they're guilty of harming this girl. Lock 'em up for life. But the media angle has gotten way out of proportion. It's no coincidence that this girl is from Alabama, the same state that brought you the Scottsboro case, where 9 young Black men spent most of their lives in jail for the lynchworthy crime of raping a White woman, which later turned out to be false. It's been a minute since the Black man with the voracious sexual appetite, the great Black beast, was vilified in the media, just after the whole DL debacle hit the crapper. Back in 2000, a travel writer named Claudia Hirschhoch, went missing in Jamaica after she was seen being friendly with a Jamaican bartender. Some physical evidence was found in his car, but authorities haven't charged him with the crime. She was declared legally dead in 2002, but her body never turned up, and her parents are still pursuing the case.

I'm sorry, as I would be in such a sad case, that Natalee Holloway is missing, but she's not the first tourist to fall victim to foul play. And I'm not convinced that this should be news. Curse out the 7 shitty chaperones who had no business letting young people out of their sight. Slap the hell out of her roommates who should never have said it was okay for the three, or however many of them, to separate. I'm a grown-ass woman, but when 6 of us grown-ass women went to Cancun, and went out at night, we went out together, we stayed together, and left together.

This is media madness. Let's move on to real news.

How Dumb Can You Be?

I swear, all I have to do is read the headlines to be reminded how much work sane people have to do in order to remain sane. In "do some research before you open your mouth" news, the leader of the New York Christian Coalition, a conservative (you couldn't tell by the name?) lobbying group, suggests that gays should have warning labels, like, um, booze, cold medicine, and cigarettes. Here's what he says:

"We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports," said Rev. Bill Banuchi,
executive director of the New York Christian Coalition.

What a gem, eh? This guy is a genius. Psychological Reports is some relatively obscure journal that's damn near impossible to find, and has previously published questionable studies, like one that claims that one-third of children in foster care in the state of Illinois during a six-year study period were the victims of homosexual abuse (note: the author of said study is involved with the Family Research Council, a rabid right-wing Christian org, and said author was thrown out of the American Psychological Association for publishing shoddy research, and no doubt being an ass). And, where did he get the bit about smoking only takes off one year of your life? According to the American Cancer Society, between 1995 and 1999, nearly half a million people (444,000), or 1 in 5 Americans, died from tobacco-related illnesses, as opposed to 143,095 adult men & women in America who died of AIDS during the same time period (as reported by the CDC). I wonder what fine institute of higher learning this clown graduated from. Probably one of those schools advertised in the back of a comic book next to the ad for sea monkeys. So, while that pantload continues to steam, I do agree with him on this one:

He called on people to "pray for those who are deceived by the lies of popular culture, who are caught up in a destructive lifestyle, and for the children who are being zealously evangelized by radical homosexuals."

Now, I only agree with part of what he says. I believe we should pray for those who are deceived by the lies of popular culture; i.e. popular Christian culture, "caught up in a destructive lifestyle," one where suicide and violence is engendered because of the constant barrage of harsh words cloaked in religion. And as for the children who are zealously evangelized, let's look at that phrase, shall we?

Zealous(ly): in a manner filled with or characterized by zeal
zeal: eagerness and ardent interest in pursuing something
evangelize: to preach the gospel to; to convert to Christianity
gospel: the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation; an interpretation of the Christian message; the message or teachings of a religious teacher; something accepted as infallible truth or as a guiding principle.

Obviously, the last definition is my favorite, and the one I'm drawn to. It's common for Christian obssessives to take the things of Christianity and the Bible to make them work for their cause, and to turn on those with opposing views and accuse them of doing the same thing. So, as I said, I agree with ol' Bill (I'm really not feeling like addressing him as Reverend because there is little that is reverent about him).

Yes, we do need to pray for those deceived by the lies of popular culture: the lies that say gay & lesbian couples aren't monogamous, don't live as long as heterosexuals, are solely responsible for the spread of sexually transmitted disease (none of these so-called Christians have anything to say about the rise in HIV infection among heterosexuals in Africa, Latin America, and increasingly Asia). And, we do need to pray for those caught up in a destructive lifestyle: ANYONE having unprotected sex, drinking, drugging, and smoking too much; anyone who is overweight, and therefore subject to illness associated with that. And, we absolutely should pray for the children who are being zealously evangelized by radical homosexuals. We need to pray that every teacher, guidance counselor, mentor, principal, social worker, and preacher with sense offers words of comfort and support to every kid who thinks they might be gay. Zealously offer a shoulder to cry on. Give them the good news that life is worth living -- too many kids kill themselves because they identify as gay or lesbian. Do the radical thing and come out. Show the world how good your life is.

Save me, Lord, from your people.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Give Me Strength

In today's WTF news, a photo caption in the NY Times reads thusly:


Raymond J. McGuire, who just left Morgan Stanley for Citigroup, is one of the top bankers on Wall Street, and one of the unlikeliest.


Okay, I'm pissed. Click on the link if you don't believe me. One of the unlikeliest? Is that not the most inflammatory pieces of dung you've read in at least the last 24 hours? Of course, the way race matters work in this country, my first thought was its implications about race as Raymond J. McGuire is a Black man.

Actually, by the time you find this, and click on the link, the Times online's cover will have changed, and you probably won't see that caption. Smart people, those Timesies. I read it though, and I'm still pissed.

Just in case anyone thought racism was dead, the Times actually thinks it wasn't making a big deal out of his ethnicity by waiting until the last paragraph of the article to bring it up. But, why not just state it from the beginning since you've made it the lead for the fucking story!

Read about a person of color in a prominent position, and you get their family history, and how they worked their way through whatever school, or how they overcame adversity, as if White people don't have the same struggles. What absolute crap. What a stinking pantload.

I'm glad I only read the Times online. I wouldn't waste a penny on this shitrag.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I Remember When

I remember when I was a kid, we'd have these "lessons" about race. The upshot was always that we're all a little different, and it's the differences that make us cool (remember, I was raised in the 70's; cool was something to aspire to). Some of us were Black, some were White (no one really cared about or spoke about Asians or Latinos as if you couldn't tell they weren't White, or their "difference" as it were, wasn't as "different" as Black), but we were all precious in His sight, yada yada.

So, we've sorta conquered the race thing, or at least as far as Black evangelicals are concerned. Racism has become the sin that has officially been reconciled. Reformation has taken place. Blacks have forgotten good ol' Barry Goldwater and how he shaped the new Republican Party, the one that sits in office now. The ones who attend the evangelical churches that work actively to deny gay & lesbian people anything that implies ordinariness; protection from bullying in schools, the rtight to adopt children, protections for same-sex couples, protections against education and job description (don't get me started on the beauty school that put out a student after he publicly admitted he was HIV-positive). Yes, yes, White evangelicals have started to let go the ol' curse of Ham (Legend has it that Ham, one of Noah's sons, was cursed by God for disobedience to his father by fathering dark-skinned children) and fallen hook,line, and sinker, for acceptance by America's current ruling class, the Christian conservative.

Blacks in the church quietly ignored the gay man and lesbian serving in the church, putting money in the plate, or helping to bring money into the church. Black lesbians & gays contributed to our own crappy treatment by remaining silent when the preacher launched a diatribe on the sin of Sodom, rather than remind the preacher, the trustee, and the congregant that while the splinter of homosexuality was dragged around, the log of so-called sins including greed (a rich pastor driving a luxury car and building a million-dollar church in the middle of a burned-out ghetto), gluttony (let's get real about the number of fat people, especially women, in the Black church), infidelity, lack of hospitality, and all-around what=were-you-thinking and you-call-yourself-a-Christian scripture regurgitation that supposedly passes for Biblical scholarship, was ignored.

The White House throws a little money at struggling churches, and suddenly everyone has the same rallying cry: homosexuality is a sin! No gay marriage! Don't let gays teach your kids! Don't let them serve in your churches! And my favorite, so far, comes from Dwight McKissick, a pastor in Arlington, Texas, who says:

"Don't compare your sin with my skin."


What a gem. So, what would his response be to Black lesbians and gays? Are we okay as long as we're not gay, or is it that gay is less confounding that Black? Does he, or any other heterosexist preacher (like Eddie Long, who led a march against same-sex marriage to the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, whose song "Suddenly" is incredibly hot right now among Black gospel choirs), or that buffoon who would rather march with the Klan than support same-sex marriage, really think their Blackness is acceptable?

I keep promising not to write or talk any more about how irritated I am with the whole "you're a sinner if you're gay," wedge-driving nonsense that should be driving Black queers in droves from the church, but isn't. I keep promising myself that I'm going to make my voice heard by returning to the Methodist church that prohibits openly-gay clergy from serving. Instead, I seek refuge in a predominantly-gay, predominantly Black gay populated and led church because I'm weary from the fight. I'm tired. I'm tired of the growing list of gospel artists whose records I won't buy anymore. I'm tired of the knot in my stomach I feel every time I come out in a Black church environment, usually as a musician (and usually as the only female musician), only to await the inevitable "you know the Bible says" blather.

I remember when difference really was okay, when we as a society didn't try so hard to create a homogeneous glop. Will we ever get back to it?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Celebrity? Yes. Expert? No.

Since ABB, who has become my new guilty pleasure (hehehehehee), shouted me out on Thursday (and I forgive you for the botched spelling of my name), I'm returning the favor today. Who knew Tom Cruise was such a case? Closet case, yes. Nut case, no, but then he dumped Nicole Kidman, so what can I say.

Here's the quick & dirty. Brooke Shields recently published a book about her bout with postpartum depression, in which she says antidepressants helped her recover. Tom, who by the way, as far as I know, didn't birth no babies, and probably had a nanny, er, an au pair, help with his family with Nic, says Brooke should've taken a vitamin and gone for a jog and she'd a'been a'ight. And then, in bitchy queen mode (sue me if you want, but most catty men I know are booty bumpers), follows with "she's a talented woman, but look where her career has gone." Saucer of milk at table two!

Yes, that last remark was flip. Please don't misunderstand me. I take postpartum depression very seriously. Having a baby is tough. Having a crying, needy baby is tough, especially after your hormones are all over the map. Your body has been taken over by some bio-force for almost a year, and you have to quickly pull your socks up to take care of it for 24-hours a day for at least the next 12 years (understanding that at some point, s/he can microwave some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, thereby giving you a breather). The outside pressures are worthy of a huge big-up to moms doin' their thing (and dads too), but to couple that with the hormonal changes and what they do from the inside, is phenomenal. I can't imagine how difficult it must be.

Brooke was a lady about it, kept it simple and kept it moving. Says she "Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens."

Click on the link in the first paragraph 'cuz Tom tells all about all. He's quite the know-it-all. Celebridom is not the same as expertise. Having your face and voice exposed to millions of people does not create a wealth of knowledge. I'm a woman, and because I've never given birth, I wouldn't dream of offering one cent, much less two, on the subject of postpartum anything. You, Tom, are an ass. It's not enough that we have to see you fawning over Katie, and quite frankly, I wish you'd just shut up about it already, but I really wish you'd just shut the hell up. Period.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

And in DUH news...

Scientists have discovered that combining the best of low-carb and low-fat diets are best for successful weight loss. Despite the misspent years in college where I was a dismal-at-best bio major, I'm no scientist, but I know shit from strawberries. Isn't what makes low-carb and low-fat diets succesful is the cutting of overall calories? Forget the glycemic index and forget the quick ketosis that helps you drop weight, what both diets have in common is calorie cutting.

Isn't that what Confess Your Sins, er, Weight Watchers, NauseaSystem, er NutriSystem, and ShitFast, I mean SlimFast have advocated? Great Caesar's Ghost, it's like folks just don't see it coming.

Eat less! Move more! Save your money. Cripes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!

Forget Jim West and his insipid, self-loathing, chicken-hawkin' ass. Here's juicy for ya. The AFA, the American Family Association (as opposed to any family association that isn't American), is launching a nationwide boycott of Ford Motors for its pledge to donate $1000 to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for every Jaguar and Land Rover sold. Heavens to mergatroid!

For those of you unfamiliar with these nutbaskets, the AFA is an ultra right-wing, ultra conservative Christian group that pretty much protests everything that's sexy, mocks religion, makes gays look good, and just about causes them discomfort. According to an MSNBC report, as of Tuesday, the AFA has protests mounted against:


  • Carl's Jr.
  • Kraft Foods
  • Mary Kay Cosmetics
  • Old Navy
  • NutriSystem

They recently ended their nine-year protest against Disney for a number of things, including but not limited to Gay Day and Miramax Pictures, the film company that produced and distributed such Christian baiters as "Priest" and "Dogma." The AFA hit Disney because of its, DRUMROLL PLEASE:

“attitude, arrogance and embrace of the homosexual lifestyle.”

So, according to BoycottFord.com, Ford is quite the little conglomerate. In addition to Ford, they also own Lincoln Mercury (the preacher's car), Mazda (the cheap car), Volvo (the soccer mom's car), Jaguar, Land Rover (the Litchfield County SUV of choice), and Aston Martin (of 007 fame). Thus, the idea is, don't buy or lease any of these cars, and let the dealers know you're pissed off. What fools these mortals be. First, the people who buy these cars could give a rat's ass about how Ford chooses to get a tax break, er, give back to the community. Second, the AFA ended their boycott (or chosen to "move on") because they feel they've made their point. Funny, Disney hasn't sold off Miramax. Gay Day is still taking place this weekend. And, God help me, they've pretty much stink bagged even megacompanies closest to their own imperialist agenda, including Wal-Mart (for having an LGBT employee group) and S.C. Johnson Wax. Pampers, Crest, K-Mart, Burger King, no one is safe. Oooh, let's go run and hide in the closet now.

You know what to do, people. Spend your meager tax refund on a car, preferably a Mazda (I thought these yahoos didn't like foreign cars anyway). Clean your house with Clorox. Get those Crest Whitestrips so your teeth will be sparkly in time for your local Gay Pride March. Eat Kraft Mac & Cheese -- it's the cheesiest! Go to Disney for real cheese!

Seriously, none of the companies hit by these protests have suffered. America protects its corporations too well. But, as I've said over and over and over, boys who like boys and girls who like girls need to come out, stay out, and stop acting like you don't matter. It's not as though no one knows about you anyway.