Monday, October 25, 2010

A Toast from the CEO

The LTR is at a business retreat at a beautiful resort in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania and I'm along for the ride as significant others are welcome. The fact that the world has evolved enough so that the LTR could bring his same sex partner to a business function is remarkable in and of itself. But, it gets better.

At the opening reception the LTR and I were talking with a clutch of his colleagues that included his CEO. Someone asked us how long we'd been together. When we answered 23 years, the CEO proclaimed it remarkable and made a toast to us. This boggles my mind: my partner's employer, openly celebrating our same sex relationship at a business function.

It wasn't like that 23 years ago. Then, we, like most gay professionals, carefully hid everything about our relationship. We scrubbed our casual talk of pronouns like "we" lest we invite scrutiny into who "we" was. When we moved in together we carefully constructed the fiction of being "roommates." When family would visit one bedroom was set up as a decoy to show we weren't more than the fiction of platonic roomies. We would carefully clean the house of any pictures or mementos that might have suggested something more intimate was going on. Like many other gay couples going through the same thing, we called this "straightening up" the house (and I know some gay couples still go through the same thing). Such paranoia was born out of the fear that we could be fired or disowned if the truth came out. Hiding our relationship required a great deal of emotional energy and thought. If it sounds like we lived in fear, it's true. We did.

Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, we're no longer hiding. We're attending a company function as a couple and the CEO is raising his glass to our relationship.

And that's a whole lot better than the way it used to be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where'd All the Good People Go?

I've been wondering this since the 2008 election of Barack Obama.

Mythological Washington Post

Duh. It's on the opinion page. But you would expect a series titled "Five Myths about _____" to have some objectivity.

My naivete was shattered with last Sunday's "Five Myths about Sarah Palin" which was written, not by an objective analyst, but by the partisan Palin hagiographer Matthew Continetti. The piece should be called Five Spins about Sarah Palin. Can you expect straight talk from a guy whose book about the half-term governor is titled: The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

American Culture and the Promise of Living

One of my friends is from Brazil and his take on American culture is that it's too focused on money. He makes his viewpoint known in little jokes and asides. I don't take offense, because I largely agree with him. But recently I was reminded that this view of America is too shallow. That's not all there is to us.

I happened to be driving through rural Illinois and Indiana between rolling farmland and forest on a sun-soaked fall afternoon. My iPod was on random, and Aaron Copland's "The Promise of Living" from his opera The Tender Land began playing over my rental car's speakers. In the song, the characters celebrate these values:

The promise of living with hope and thanksgiving is born of our loving our
friends and our labor.

It continues with an ode to neighborliness, shared labor and shared blessings, optimism and love. This is surely part of our culture too, though I think it's harder to see in urban America with the relentless drive for money and celebrity that obscure these values.

And I don't think these values are dead. I've seen it recently, in the way my parents' community has embraced them, literally and figuratively, as my father continues his battle with cancer.

The promise of growing with faith and with knowing Is born of our sharing our
love with our neighbor.

What challenges these values now is the notion that in a much smaller world our neighbors no longer look very much like us. Our neighbors are black, they are gay, they are Muslim. It's harder to share love with those who are different. But if we're going to honor our American values, that's exactly what we must do.

I've added two clips of the song here. One is from the opera, so you can hear how Copland
originally envisioned it. The performance of the bass and soprano are fine here, but I can't quite figure out what is going on with that background.

And in case you still don't get it from the Berkley Opera's more subtle version, John Williams and the Boston Pops will hit you over the head with it in their version. I was initially annoyed by Williams' slower tempo, but like it better on second hearing.

And the Boston Pops version:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Log Cabin Republicans 1; Obama, 0 in DADT Repeal

In this topsy-turvey political season, things just got a little topsy-turveyer. The Log Cabin Republicans have succesffuly (for now) ended DADT while the Obama Fierce Advocate Administration will apparently fight that decision.

When justice rolls down like waters Obama wants to build a dam.