Whose byline is it anyway?

This past week has been crazy busy to say the least for this freelancer. I completed five articles, with a sixth on the way, and I must say they form a fun little cornucopia of queer culture, including incredible interviews with gay rights legend Rita Mae Brown and Nick Garrison, the actor portraying Hedwig in the American Theater Company’s current production of The Angry Inch. I had a chance to review Hedwig, in addition to the national touring production of A Chorus Line. And I had a chance to speak with some folks on Illinois’ civil unions bill, introduced by Greg Harris.

My favorite moment in the past week: This quote from Rita Mae Brown (on gay marriage): “…I do not see, if we actually believe the Constitution, how [marriage] can be denied. And I add, the only way I will tie the noose is around somebody’s neck. I don’t mate in captivity.” Check out the interview with Rita in its entirety, and the other stories, by clicking on the images below.

ritamaebrownarticle

nickgarrisonarticle


choruslinereview

civunionsarticle


hedwigreview

Weddings: How very, very queer

Wow, marriage.

Eee, gay marriage.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Iowa just legalized it, Friday, becoming the third state to do so. And there’s a tiny chance that Vermont might soon follow (though the state’s House vote fell just four votes short of the majority approval needed to squelch the governor’s intended “veto” – but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one..). As expected, the social conservatives are outraged – perhaps with even more fervor than usual given that Iowa is far from a hotbed of liberal thought.

Glum, anti-gay marriage Iowans gather in January 2008, when the case was first brought to court.
Glum, anti-gay marriage Iowans gather in January 2008, when the case was first brought to court.

You can almost write your own thought bubbles for these non-fans of not-straight-people marriage: Suddenly, it seems, perhaps it’s not so trendy to be outwardly anti-gay. It feels, at the risk of sounding naively optimistic, that positive momentum might finally be with As more and more state governments begin to take seriously their duty of protecting the rights of minorities (i.e. not putting issues related to minority rights up to majority vote), their greatest fears might just come true: Among them, the defeat of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (which President Obama has promised to repeal) and further spreading of state-approved queer unions. A right-wing nightmare, no?

But, as much as I want to throw my hands up in the air and dance wildly to RuPaul remixes, I still can’t help but feel that the Iowan decision – in the grand scheme of things, even if it does encourage similar action in other states – smells of too little, too late. For this is exactly the case for some people. Take, for example, Shirley Tan, a woman who has been in a committed lesbian relationship, mothering twin 12-year-old sons, for the past 23 years, who is on the verge of deportation from California’s Bay Area to the Philippines. If she and partner Jay Mercado were allowed to marry, it would be a non-issue. Instead, Tan (and her family) must argue her right to remain stateside, receiving a two-week emergency stay last week with the help of politicos. Learn more about the story below (and from this San Jose Mercury News article):

In light of the continued inequity in the other 47 U.S. states, activists are rightfully continuing to organize, rally and raise a general stink… But I have to question some of the tactics: Here in Chicago, the homosexual drinking establishment Cocktail has come under some fire for banning bachelorette parties from taking place on its premises. Hung outside of Cocktail is a sign that explains the ban, in addition to offering a statement:

Until same-sex marriage is legal everywhere and same-sex couples are allowed the rights as every heterosexual couple worldwide, we simply do not think it’s fair or just for a female bride-to-be to celebrate her upcoming nuptials here at Cocktail. We are entitled to an opinion, this is ours.

And other bars have followed suit. I have to wonder: Is alienating a (likely) already queer-friendly audience beneficial to the cause? Allies are crucial to any civil rights battle, and though I understand Cocktail’s point-of-view (and the fact that they are acting completely within their right as independent business owners).. I’m simply not sure how this sits with me.

No protest here: RSVP +1.
No protest here: Color me RSVP'ed +1.

On a more personal level, I recently received a wedding invitation to the ceremony of one of my dearest friends, coming up this summer. And I couldn’t help but smile when I thought ahead to the day, and the incredible impact that it will have for my friend. Flaunting a privilege? Rubbing it in? Hardly. I could not be more excited for Sarah and the life that she is building with her fiance. Ya know, happiness and eternal love. That’s all that all of us really want anyway, right?

A COUPLE WEDDING-RELATED MUSICS:

Download: Yael Naem ‘Bachelorette (Bjork Cover)’ (mp3)

Download: Born Ruffians ‘Wedding Bells and Midnight Strollers’ (mp3)

Meet me at the rally

On the morning of Wednesday, November 5, I awoke with feelings of hope, renewal and pride unlike anything I’d experienced in.. well, at least eight years. On the heels of four days spent knocking on doors; reminding voters in Madison, Wisconsin, to get out the vote; I remained physically and emotionally exhausted, but knowing that our nation had elected its first ever African American president quickly made the pain of aching feet dissipate.

My elation at Barack Obama’s victory was quickly squelched by the news from California that a slim majority of that state’s voters had chosen to reverse the state supreme court’s decision to legalize gay marriage by approving Proposition 8.

How could it be, I wondered in disbelief, that the lefty land of Hollywood, fruits and nuts [as aptly described by my right-leaning — Understatement of the Century — father] had just written inequality into their state law book? How could barely half of a state’s people take away marriage rights from our community? What was to happen to the thousands of lesbians and gay men whom had already wedded in the state? And why, I wondered, did it matter so much to those who had said ‘yes’ to overruling marriage equality? Who exactly are these people, and what do they want from us?

I’m sure that many of you reading this blog have wondered many of the same questions regarding the latest injustice to face our community. And as bothersome as these questions are, I think we need to save finger-pointing and self-deprecation in the past and look forward to the next questions: Where does our movement go from here? How do we spark a revolution?

Our answer can be found in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” We must, as a community, take each others’ hands, hit to the streets and make our voices heard.

Alongside my fellow happy, chilly protesters du jour.
Alongside my fellow happy, chilly protesters du jour.

dscn5044This is precisely what happened yesterday, Saturday, November 15, as tens of thousands of protesters simultaneously gathered in cities across the United States and world to protest the continued denial of marriage and other civil rights to the LGBT community. I was lucky enough to be present at the Chicago rally (click for video clips) which began at Federal Plaza and continued through the streets of the busy downtown loop area, blocking traffic and raising hell, just as intended. Though an accurate number would be near impossible to quote, the amount of protesters was awe-inspiring. Certainly at least 3000 gay men, lesbians and their friends and family were present, making our chants of “Yes we can!” echo against the walls of high-rise office buildings and shopping meccas.

dscn5062I was amazed as I walked alongside people from all backgrounds and of all ages, as a community united in uproar against the disgusting decision. We were greeted with thumbs up, peace signs, smiles, car honks and; in the case of one older man I observed; slow, steady applause accompanied by trembling tears of joy. Not everyone was having it, though. One woman passing by screamed at a demonstrator: “Why do you think you’re so damn special that you can shut down the streets?”

dscn5051This issue is not about being special. It’s about being equal. It’s about spreading love; and as Keith Olbermann so nobly articulated in a magical, must-see special report; treating your neighbors as you would like to be treated. I, like so many others, dream of a day when I can stand before my family, friends and community to proclaim undying love to the person that I want to grow old with. And it’s going to be to a man. It’s going to be a marriage — not anything else going by any other name — and it’s going to come complete with every other right that heterosexual marriages are granted. I believe that everyone deserves the chance to make this dream come true.

dscn5057Saturday’s protest was preceeded the previous weekend by another demonstration against the induction of right-wing-nutzo James Dobson (of Focus on the Family fame) into the Radio Hall of Fame — a demonstration which I was able to report from. Both protests were peaceful but the message was clear: We’re not going to take this lying down. I could not have been more proud of my community for getting out and demanding equality. I have renewed confidence that it is dscn5049going to happen, because — gay, straight, white, black — together we are going to make it happen.

Below are a number of pictures from Saturday’s protest. Want to get involved? Check out JoinTheImpact.com, open your hearts and minds and help to create a better and more equal world for everyone.

Download: Phoenix ‘Rally’

Download: Nina Simone ‘Here Comes the Sun’

Download: Ben Sollee ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ (Sam Cooke cover)

Have friends getting gay-married anytime soon?

It’s been a busy few months for this ghey, but sanity has finally returned and Reality TV Makes Me Cry is now coming to you live from a new location — Chicago. I may not have cable yet, nor is my Internet connection the most reliable, but I intend to update this blog as frequently as I am able to with remarks on the various crazinesses of our world.

Yahtzee, game on.

Gay-friendly cards are now available from all Hallmark locations.
Hallmark goes gay with new cards.

Ever read a news story while instantly visualizing the next three headlines on that topic in the coming weeks? This was precisely my experience with this announcement from Hallmark that they would begin selling cards appropriate for gay-marrieds becoming civilly unionized, or whatever they call it these days, just in time for Portellen’s joyous union. These new cards arrive on the heels of a series of “coming out” cards unveiled last year by the retailer.

Cue the protesters: A number of Hallmark stores in the state of Idaho have announced that they will not carry the new offerings. The esteemed American Family Association has also added Hallmark to their shit list by encouraging a protest, just as they had earlier this year with the homo-friendly, gay pride mongers McDonald’s. Their rationale?

“… promoting same-sex marriage for profit is not the very best for families or our nation. Hallmark is a private company obviously driven by greed,” reads the official AFA petition. “Let them know you do not appreciate Hallmark promoting a lifestyle which is illegal in 48 states.”

Ho hum. You would think that the right-wing conservatives would find it enough to simply not buy the ghey cards and let the Bush-endorsed capitalist marketplace work itself out by eliminating the unholy pieces of parchment stuffed in equally evil envelopes. This is almost as amusing as the post-9/11 Dixie Chicks protest.

Anna Pastuszwska fall down, go boom, at her July 19 straight-wedding.
Anna Pastuszwska fall down, go boom, at her July 19 straight-wedding.

Speaking of illegal lifestyles and weddings, check out this story about a Michigan couple that was recently straight-married and wound up being tasered and spending the night in separate prison cells. Is this proof that the homosexual agenda has finally gained steam? Or did a bunch of bitches just get schwasted? Judge for yourself

Download: Dosh ‘I Think I’m Getting Married’

Download: Wolf Parade ‘Call It a Ritual’

Download: Telepathique ‘Love and Lust’