Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Boys With The Thorns In Their Sides

" outsider."

Those are some of the words Mike Wallace uses to summarize the place of gay people at the end of his 1967 CBS program, "The Homosexuals". This old footage has been making the blog rounds today. I just now watched/listened to it, and boy is it painful. At nearly 44 minutes, it's long, but it's worth playing all the way through.

The hopelessness of same-sex love - both in the sense that it is impossible to find, and in the sense that the world will never accord same-sex love any dignity and respect - is a theme repeated throughout this documentary, and as I was watching, it was impossible not to think of The Smiths' song, "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side".

And specifically, it was impossible not to think of these lyrics, which have always haunted me:
How can they see the love in our eyes
And still they don't believe us
And after all this time
They don't want to believe us
And if they don't believe us now
Will they ever believe us?
And when you want to live
How do you start
Where do you go
Who do you need to know?

For me, those lyrics have always been about the struggle to find one's gay identity, and the struggle to find gay love. Those struggles can feel like odysseys. So to watch that Mike Wallace program, a mainstream news program that's only about 40 years old, so casually and "objectively" play into every awful, defamatory stereotype there is about gay people was sobering, to say the least. But it was also a reminder that, purely by virtue of being born when and where I was, what seemed like odysseys to me - those journeys to find my gay self - were not nearly so epic as the journeys that all the queer boys who came before me had to endure. And for that I cannot help but be grateful, even though there's so far yet to go.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kelly Rowland - When Love Takes Over

A brand new song and video from K-Row. I agree with Joe: she clearly made this song for the gays. It's a little throwback-y to late 1990s gay house, I'd say: a fun, cheerful little summertime track.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

A little over a month ago my dad called to say that my grandmother would be going to the hospital in the morning to get the first round of chemotherapy for a cancerous spot in one of her lungs. My grandmother is not a smoker - she certainly has never smoked during my lifetime - so it's not that. She's just getting old, I guess. Her 80th birthday is in September.

At any rate, learning about my grandmother's condition was the third bad thing in a trinity of bad things that had been going on in my life at the time, the other two being Joey's death and breaking up with Brian. To make shitty news shittier still, it happened that the night my dad called to tell me about my grandmother was the night before an exam. So it wasn't until about two weeks later, when exams were done, that I was finally able to sit down with a semi-clear head and write my grandmother a proper letter to check in and see how she was doing.

It will help to know a little about her. Ginny is a New Englander of Irish/Welsh/Scottish derivation, if memory serves. She is and always has been a stoic, stiff-upper-lip, no-drama kind of gal. But she's warm and energetic, and frankly, Ginny has the most amazing skin I've seen on any woman her age who hasn't gone under the knife or the needle.

I have never felt like Ginny and I really understand each other, but I do know we are very fond of each other, and there is a lot of love between us. We find each other amusing, I think. So it took me a bit to find the right tack to take with this letter. I decided to just be honest. I referred in passing to the fact that I'd had a fairly awful few weeks but didn't give any specifics. (The letter was about Ginny, not me.) I told her a phrase that had gotten me through exams:

My constitutional law professor wore a t-shirt bearing that phrase on our last day of class. The phrase comes from a British propaganda campaign that ran during World War II, when the Germans were bombing London and other places nearby. Apparently, very few of these posters actually were posted, but the slogan has been kept alive.

So I told Ginny how I learned about it from my professor's t-shirt, and how it got me through an emotionally exhausting and extremely stressful few weeks: I wrote the slogan on whatever materials I was allowed to take in with me to each exam, and inevitably at some point in the middle of the test I'd look up and notice it on the desk in front of me, smile, and carry on. I told Ginny all she really could do, all anyone in her shoes could do, was just that - keep calm and carry on - and know that we were all thinking of her and sending her love. On Monday of this week, I got a note in the mail in reply:
I'm sending a check because I feel you might need a little extra cash. That's it.
Now, I'm writing to thank you for one of the most beautiful letters I have ever received.
I am taking one day at a time. On Monday I start my 2nd phase of chemo (they say there might be 3 or 4).
You didn't say what was going on in your own life. I hope things have all worked out.
So thanks again.

I cried, of course. That exchange of letters is probably the most meaningful communication that's ever occurred between us - certainly the most meaninful exchange I can remember. But what really got me was the check inside. Ginny is not the type to send money "just because" - she's never been profligate with money. A birthdays and Christmases only kind of person, when it comes to gifts. And my birthday was still about three weeks away from the date of the note. While Ginny is always on top of birthdays, she never sends cards or gifts that early.

Then I remembered a conversation I'd had with my sister a few nights prior, in which she mentioned that Ginny had sent her husband and her a check as a "second half of their anniversary present," or something along those lines. The check I got confirmed what my sister and I suspected: Ginny's giving her money away because she thinks she's dying.

What to make of that? I do need the money, but I haven't been able to bring myself to deposit the check yet. It feels a bit wrong to run off to the bank with it right away; it feels like that would be reveling in Ginny's cancer. And we don't even know yet how the chemo is working. It all just feels premature and anticipatory in the worst way, and I know that Ginny will not speak of this check again.

It's tucked away in a desk drawer, waiting until the fresh sting of realizing the impetus behind it wears off a bit.

Image used under a limited Creative Commons license from flickr user cromacom

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Róisin Works Hard For The Money

Róisin Murphy makes a quick quid on the street in London. How darling is she? Album version of the song and video below.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For Joey.

About six weeks ago, I lost one of my best friends, suddenly. Joey was my heart; he was my brother; he was my sister. He was my partner in crime. He was my confidant. We were co-pilots on what now seems like too few trips to the beach, and spent what now seem like too few hours generally being fabulous together.

Joey was like licorice: you either loved him, or you detested him. He was brash, he was rude, and he was often an asshole. He judged the hell out of people. But he never – and this is where I feel I have so much to learn from him – he never wrote people off. Joey’s friends, as I learned when we all pulled together to grieve as a family, are an eclectic group of freaks, geeks, fuck-ups, Type-As, creative types, destructive types – often all in the same person. In spite of being one of the most appearance-focused people I’ve ever met, Joey had an incredible, beautiful knack for seeing past all that external shit in other people and celebrating them for their substance. Luckier still for those of us who knew him, Joey also excelled at connecting friends and acquaintances of his who shared similar interests and likely never would have met without him. The interesting side-effect of all this was that we each got a different slice of Joey. Not a one of us can safely say we knew Joey completely. His personality was too broad, our individual personalities too narrow, for any one of us to get the whole picture.

Joey gave what for most people would be a superhuman amount of energy to the causes he loved. He’d walk into a woefully underprepared space where a fundraiser or arts event was to begin in a just few short hours, and he could single-handedly whip it and everyone nearby into showtime form. Joey cared deeply about animals, especially dogs (and most especially his Chihuahua, Tank). He also gave a great deal of time to LGBT causes and events, including Blue Ball and the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. As someone who grew up in a small town in the Poconos, he appreciated the importance of an urban gay community not just for himself but for urban queers in general. No doubt Joey had even more amazing contributions to the community still ahead of him.

At a Memorial Day barbeque, I ended up chatting for a while with my friend Patrick, whom Joey had dated for a while. While we talked, I looked around the room and realized that Joey was the reason all of us were there, at the same party – not because we were expressly celebrating him in any way, but just because he was the only common thread among us all. A lot of us simply wouldn’t have met without him. Finally I understood that this was how we’ll keep Joey in our lives for the years and decades to come: by getting together, crazily cobbled-together urban family that we are, to celebrate holidays, birthdays, any-ol’-days. And I think that’s exactly how he’d want it.

I love you more’n my luggage, Joey. Muah.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes. We. Did.

Holy fucking shit. More later, but that's about all I can say right now.

Photo of Philadelphians celebrating Obama's victory last night from HuffPo

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lady Miss Kier And I Need To Have A Word With You.

Three words, actually.

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, people. Between school- and Phillies- and election-related mayhem, a bitch has been busy. But not too busy to bring you an important public service message: VOTE BABY VOTE!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008



k thx 4 foto

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Fundamentalism Is Dangerous

Fundamentalism in any form is terrifying and dangerous. Sure, it makes your life easier; you don't have to worry about what the answer is because it's always Jesus or God or Allah or Whoever. But it makes you stop thinking. And it gives people the false notion that a return to theocratic monarchy would magically heal the world. News flash, Tracys of the world: it'll be the death of us all.

And the menacing "I'LL PRAY FOR HIM"? Creepy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Jeepers Crumpets, Who Could That Be?"

I present to you the first minute or so of the Sarah Palin-themed porn, Nailin' Palin. And yes, it's safe for work.