Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Closet Corrupts, Absolutely

A Republican Mayor in Mississippi is the latest GOP anti-gay politician to get caught being gay himself. While preaching his family values he was apparently using public funds to buy gay porn in Canada.

The typical reaction of many in the gay community is to want to see him burn with the maximum amount of scorn and laughter heaped on his hypocritical head. Witness some of the comments on this Joe.My.God post.

I understand the emotion to pillory the guy. I just can't take part in the lynching. As despicable as his behavior seems to be, he too, is a victim.

This doesn't mean that I approve or justify the actions of those public officials in the closet who take anti-gay positions (or make anti-gay jokes, or tease, humiliate or even beat up gays when in school as part of their closet smokescreen - it's all part of the same pattern). It's wrong, it's hurtful, it's hypocritical, and on and on. I can condemn these behaviors but I can't bring myself to hate or gleefully mock those found cowering inside the closet. Instead, it's more productive to turn my scorn and anger toward the homophobia and hate that makes the closet seem necessary in the first place.

Let's remember what happens in the closet. The closet isn't a passive place where you go to hide and merely wait, a harbor protecting you while you lie calmly at anchor as the storm rages around you. No, the closet forces you to lie and deceive willfully and at times aggressively, to those closest to you and oftentimes to yourself. It is not a place where one finds courage or virtue. It's also a place that many (most?) of us who are gay, at least my generation and older, have chosen to reside for a time. It's a loathsome place, but memories of my time in the closet makes it difficult for me to loathe those still languishing within its narrow confines. The closet creates many victims and a pattern of self-destructive personal behavior that, if carried too far in life, will catch up with you. The Mayor is the latest example. Recent public life is full of other examples of smoldering wrecked public reputations.

I don't believe any one should hide in the closet. Coming out is the firmer moral choice and I have great respect for any gay man or woman who has done so, especially at the risk of losing the love and esteem of family, friends and colleagues. But having faced that choice myself and blinked I can understand it when someone else does. Count me opposed to any public official (closeted gay or not) who takes anti-gay actions. Just don't expect me to cheer when the closet finally crushes the unfortunate who sought its illusory safety in world still full of callous homophobia.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Time to Say Goodbye?

Dying from cancer gives you time to say goodbye.

I've heard this said, and it's true that my Dad's death from cancer was no surprise. Like a well=predicted hurricane we knew it was coming and knew it would sweep him away.

But during my Dad's illness we weren't saying goodbye. We were too busy fighting.

I don't know what it is like for other cancer patients. For us, there was always hope that each day might be a good one, that there might be some sign that Dad would get a little longer, that he might make it to his 50th wedding anniversary with Mom. When it became clear that wouldn't happen, each day we hoped for a sign he would make it to the family vacation we moved up to make sure he would be able to go. And then it became clear he would be too sick to travel. But with each setback and dashed hope came another one, another milestone we hoped to reach. Perhaps we were foolish but I think hope is the last thing to go.

And so each day became a battle, against the pain, against the despair, against the gathering weakness. It became harder and harder for him to eat and so we fought for every calorie. When pain and fatigue seemed to be all that was left we fought for even fleeting moments of connection, conversation, closeness.

Even the last time I saw him conscious and I knew it was probably the final goodbye, I couldn't see it that way -- I still thought there was more time, however little time that might be. I was wrong. Dad's last words to me in the kitchen that morning I left three weeks before he died were the last words he would say to me in person.

But even then I refused to see it that way. As much time -- two years -- as we had to "get ready," death was still a shock, a crushing finality that can't be understood in the abstract. It's the actual absence that makes "goodbye" a reality.

No matter how one loses a loved one, whether from sudden death or lingering illness, it's the time we have together and hat we do with life that matters. No one is ready for that final "goodbye."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Need a Good Sammaritan? Only the Non-Accented Need Apply

A pilot gets himself stuck in the lavatory midflight and a passenger "with a thick foreign accent" comes to his aid by (at the stuck Captain's request) alerting the rest of the cockpit crew.

Hilarity -- and F-16 Fighter Jets -- ensue as the crew suspects a terror plot.

Enjoy the Friendly Skies this upcoming Thanksgiving Season.

Gay Republican Official Comes Out in Texas

And apparently he's lost the support of at least one endorser who's worried about gay cooties.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

More Cain

Several commentators and bloggers, notably this one, are making the argument that the women accusing Cain should be allowed to speak so we will know if Cain is guilty.

Really, even if the women come forward how will we know? Ultimately isn't it Cain's word against one other persons? While mounting reports certainly make Cain look like he's less than innocent, unless there are pictures or videos or incontrovertible eyewitnesses who saw more than Cain and a female employee leaving an event together, what are we left with except two people with two differing accounts of events 15 years old? Accounts that are being told in the glare and circus of presidential campaign?

Look -- I'm not trying to defend Cain here. Sexual harassment is serious stuff. I just doubt the public's ability to make a factually grounded determination of guilt or innocence based on what we know and what we might know if the NRA lifts the so-called gag order. Determining what really happened will certainly be much harder than those who so breezily assume that all we have to do is lift the gag order and then we will instantly know exactly what happened between Cain and his accusers. Maybe we will. More likely we won't.

Besides, we don't need to know if Cain is guilty to determine whether or not he is fit to be President. We already know that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Politico Should Report the Facts on Cain but isn't Able

I often get the impression the political media is mostly an echo chamber that reports on what it tells itself. It will break a story and then create a narrative for the story to maximize conflict and drama independent of what's really happening.

A story in Politico on the Herman Cain scandal is a case-in-point.

Let's take a look at some of the statements in today's story, "Herman Cain's Sexual Misconduct Allegations: Damage Control Marked By Inconsistencies."

From the lede:

"Herman Cain's presidential campaign enters Tuesday facing a full-blown political crisis."

Full blown? How? He's pulling out of primaries? Donors are jumping ship? Staff are quitting in droves and issuing news releases? Mark Block announces it's a bad week for him to quit sniffing glue? Are we reporting here or editorializing? Politico may think it's a "full-blown" political crisis -- but are any outside the media saying this? If so, report that. But don't make it up.

"Cain and his spokesperson have offered a shifting and inconclusive series of responses."

Note the plural. Later, the article says "But by the end of the day, Cain reversed himself on many of the essential facts of the case."

It's true, Cain did initially say he wasn't aware of a settlement and then later reversed himself. While this is not a minor flip-flop, it is one. Not "many." If there's more than that, the Politico story didn't report it. It just stated it without evidence.

I'm not saying Cain has done a great job managing this media crisis (and that's where the crisis seems to be isolated now, in the media). But this Politico story does a lousy job reporting it, by not citing facts or third-party sources to back up its hyperbole.

It also would have been helpful had Politico bothered to report what HR experts and employment attorneys have to say about how business handles allegations of sexual harassment, where "settlements" don't automatically mean a determination of guilt. But I don't think comprehensive coverage was Politico's goal here.

And finally my favorite part of the story:

"Republican super strategist Karl Rove..."

Super Strategist? What? Faster than a speeding pundit? More powerful than a local elected official? Able to leap tall bromides in a single soundbite?

Just another day of creative writing at Politico.

Why are they Burning the Gays?

First Scotland, now Texas.

We like Michelle Better than Barack. Why is This News?

So, Michelle Obama is more popular than the president. And her favorables are higher among Democrats than Republicans. This is news, Politico?

Why wouldn't she be more popular? She doesn't make controversial decisions, she doesn't have campaign promises to break of fulfill and she can play the role of loving mother and spouse in the public eye as much as she wants to.

Seriously, all the First Ladies in recent times (with the possible exception of Nancy Reagan) have at one time or another been more popular than their husbands. It would be news if they weren't.

Of course Michelle Obama is more popular than her husband -- we'd expect that unless she were caught slipping arsenic into the chocolate bars she handed out to the kids at Halloween at the White House.

If only the media would stop treating fake news as the real thing. Then, for the first time in my adult lifetime, would I be proud of my newspaper.

Friday, April 29, 2011

World According to Trump

If Lincoln, in his first Inaugural address, instead of appealing to "the better angels of our nature," had only said "Get back in the Union, Mother Fuckers," we could have avoided that whole nasty Civil War thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya -- The First Act

Well, good news from Libya today. But, just as you can't judge the outcome of a theatrical play by its first act, you can't judge the success (or failure) of a military action by the completion of its first phase.

After all, if we were to judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by the completion of their first acts (the fall of Saddam, the ouster of the Taliban) they would be viewed as rousing successes. But no, it was the mess of problems that came in the Act II to follow that we're now trying to resolve in the never-ending Act Three that forms the basis of how we view these conflicts.

Obama can claim a good First Act in Libya. What follows will be much more difficult to navigate. I'll see how well (or not) he does that before passing judgment on the soundness of his decisions to jump to the rebels' defense.

But I will note one remarkable thing that I think is under-appreciated. On Friday, U.S., English and French patrols over Libya were joined by planes from Qatar and the UAE. There aren't many of them and apparently they won't take part in combat operations. But last year who could have predicted that the West would be joined by the East to oppose the actions of an Arab leader? This is, possibly, a shift from the West vs. East narrative of the Bush years and a real transformative moment. If so, this is one hell of a first act.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farewell, Old Friend

Buster was with us since June of 1997 and left us today, nearly 14 years old.

He was a small puppy abandoned to the animal shelter in Jacksonville, Florida, where we were living at the time (we were living in Jacksonville, not the animal shelter). He was the second dog we adopted from there. The first left us two years ago. With Buster's death, it feels our last connection to our former home there has been severed.

Buster was a very easily intimidated puppy, and when I would come home from work he would run through the house and in his excitement pee the whole way. He would leave a spaghetti trail of urine on the carpet tracing his path. To help him get over this, the vet told me I needed to be less intimidating when I came home at night. She advised me to get down on my hands and knees and crawl into the house, like a dog, so I'd be closer to his level. I did this and it worked. What the neighbors thought of this I'll never know. Or want to.

Buster was a great trail dog and we spent many hours with him in the Shenandoah, hiking. He loved the water and would splash or swim across streams. The other dog, Ranger, who feared the water (we would have to carry her across) would then bark and scold him on the other side. He didn't care. He was a happy-go-lucky dog who didn't seem to let anything worry him, except food. He was the ultimate food hound and as age and arthritis withered him, that never changed.

When he began to slow down about seven years ago on walks we at first thought he was lazy. Then one night he just collapsed and refused to continue. The vet told us he had serious arthritis in his hind legs, back and tail. We were devastated that we hadn't seen the clues and caught this earlier, although nothing could have been done. Except medicate him. So, for the past seven years, Pfizer has helped him live a relatively pain-free life, although his mobility deteriorated gradually.

But I'll try to remember him as the puppy dashing through the house, leaving a loopy trail of pee. Or the dog who, in his eagerness to get to shore, jumped out of the row boat, thinking he'd land on ground underneath the waves, only to sink. I'll never forget the look of great surprise on his face, right before he disappeared under the water (to re-emerge again, swimming. He was a good swimmer).

A dog's life is too brief. All too brief.

Farewell, friend. If dogs do go to heaven, I hope you are chewing on lots of bones, leaving a trail of pee through God's living room and swimming with abandon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let Them Have Their App -- The Ex-Gay One, That Is

If Apple wants to let the Ex-Gay crowd have their app on iPhone, I don't have a problem with that (which is not the same as having a problem with people who think you can pray away the gay).

As long as we are free to have pro-gay apps (Grindr, hello?) and the ability to renounce the idiocy of the ex-gay movement, I don't think we should resort to censorship.

Tell me why I'm wrong.

At least Matthew agrees with me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Animal Rescue

You've undoubtedly seen where you can go to help the people of Japan recover from the horrible events there over the past week. A friend writes that the animals of Japan need help too. The Animal Rescue Site offers a way to help.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Edward Albee in Metro Weekly

Metro Weekly has a great feature interview with playwright Edward Albee this week (well, last week, since they're out with a new issue today). Albee's response to the question "how do you feel about the flops" is a good one:

"One of the things you have to learn very quickly if you're going to survive in the theater...is that the way people respond to you, to what you do, doesn't necessarily have very much to do with the quality of what you've done. Some of your best stuff can be condemned and some of your less ambitious things will sail right through. You can't worry about that stuff. As long as you do your job as honestly and well as you possibly can, you can't be responsible for the minds of critics or the taste of an audience. You can't be responsible for those things because you're not a servant."

I think that's great advice, not just for creative work, but for life. Or, as another playwright put it: "To thine own self be true."

I admit I've only seen one Albee play, "The Play About the Baby." And I'm still confused. But I'm going to add "Virginia Woolf" in my queue.

The MW interview ended on a playful note. Asked "what is the best thing for you, personally, about being a gay man," Albee responds: "You get to go to bed with guys."

Rage Against the Cyclist

This morning I witnessed an all-too-common site: a motorist expressing anger at a cyclist. What was the cyclist doing? He was riding lawfully down the road, on the right side of the lane. The driver, and not just someone driving to work, she was driving a DC Public Schools School Bus, was in full rage, pumping her fist and white-eyed. Now, I suppose it's possible the cyclist may have made an illegal move that I didn't see, but if so, should a professional driver (in the presence of children) be expressing road rage on the job?

But as far as I could tell what was pissing off the city employee (trained in safety, I'm sure) was the mere presence of the cyclist on the road. "Get the hell off the road!" is the thought I'm sure was going through her head -- it's an attitude I experience every time I commute by bike to work.

"Share the road" applies to city employees. At least it should.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Anne Coulter in the Alley with a Maryland Redneck

It was the man with the tattooed arms in the passenger seat of the convertible that drew my attention at first. Then I noticed the Maryland tags. I really couldn't see the driver until I got closer, making my way up the alley on the way to meet my trainer for the usual session that I think should require the sanction of a Bush Justice Department legal memo. As I got closer to the car, I could make out a silhouette of a thin woman with straight hanging long hair.

Then she called out to me. "Hey! Hey! I want to say something to you." My first thought was she was going to bitch at me since our jeep Liberty was parked in the alley behind the garage, partly blocking the alley (though there was still enough room to get through). Bracing, I walked closer to the car on the tattooed man's side, and leaned down. And came face to face with Anne Coulter.

"I want to tell you something," she repeated. I braced myself, not knowing what to expect. Anne closed her eyes, and then silently gave me an air kiss.

I recoiled from the car and quickly walked up the alley toward the gym. Okay, it probably wasn't Anne Coulter and was just another prostitute trying to use our alley as her little temporary love shack. Not Anne, and just another hooker. When we first moved here our garage didn't have a door, we didn't have a car to park in it and many times hookers would drive their johns to our garage, park in it, do the nasty and leave, the only sign of their presence the used condoms and condom wrappers we would find. A garage door was one of our first home improvement projects.

But man, it sure looked looked like her. But she was just another prostitute. Although if you think about it, the two women aren't that different. One makes money for fucking citizens in public, the other makes money for fucking the public civility. But, I'm probably being insulting to the prostitute for the comparison.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Newt

I'm a little late to the story about Newt being so concerned about America that he cheated on his wive(s).

I guess he was trying to say he's a Star Spangled Banger.

More fun with Newt here.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Manna from Heaven (well, Tennessee)


There is a danger in checking e-mails late at night. You risk opening an e-mail that may contain bad news or flaming anger. Or, you may simply mis-interpret "tone" and take insult where none was intended. Opening your e-mail is like opening your door to a vampire. He may look all charming and sexy, but if he comes in he can suck the peace out of your night.

And so it was I found myself relaxing late (for me) Thursday night watching the fish in the aquarium. It has been a tense time for me lately and I treated myself to a session with my massage therapist and so was more relaxed than usual. I could have sat there and enjoyed my fish and the soft gurgle of water while my muscles continued in an afterglow of "ahhhh," but no -- I reached for my iPhone and tapped the e-mail icon like a nicotine fiend reaching for his third pack of the day.

And received my Manna from Heaven. A good friend who left DC to embed herself in a red state e-mailed news of her (unexpected) return to DC. It's one of those unexpected, good news and feel good messages you hope to get when you open your e-mail, especially late at night.

Now, maybe I'm being overly dramatic (yes, I heard you mummer "drama queen" - I prefer the term "high-strung") but I have opened enough e-mails that upset me that the LTR has chided me, "why do you look at e-mail past 8 p.m.?"

Here was the answer -- that maybe, once in a while, an e-mail will bring you an unexpected treasure.

Friend, I am glad you are coming home.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Tucson "Memorial"

UPDATE: The president's speech was magnificent. Still, I found the cheering throughout the event to be a bit distasteful. I hope the families found some comfort in the president's stirring words.


So far, it seems more like a pep rally instead of a memorial. I was expecting a somber and respectful event.

Paranoid

You know this would so totally freak me out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Americans in Honduras Won't Shut Up

I just returned from a holiday in Honduras. We encountered many ex pats there, all very nice and all very eager to talk the ears off of visiting Americans. The LTR and I have been studying Spanish for the last four months and we found that with our limited abilities we were much farther ahead than the Americans who live there. So I guess they were just eager for people to talk to.

But it started before we even set foot in Spanish-speaking Central America. Boarding our flight at Dulles, I had the aisle and the LTR took the center seat next to an elderly white-haired gentleman with the window seat.

The wheels hadn't left the runway before he started telling us about himself. It was charming at first, an Episcopal Priest, he. Traveled to Central America a lot. Drove there from here, in fact. His son is in the foreign service in Honduras. But after about an hour it became tedious. I began to feel like the unfortunate woman sitting next to Ted Stryker and wished I had packed a rope in my carry-on.

But the kicker was about two hours in when he elbowed the LTR out of a dead sleep to say we were over the Gulf of Mexico (we weren't). And then he pronounced we were flying over New Orleans (it wasn't). There's Cuba (nope). La Ceiba (our destination in Honduras) is on a flat coastal plain (it's mountainous). His error-filled travelogue prompted us to give him a nickname: Father Geography.

We think he was a bit touched, as they used to say. He was the first of several interesting characters and places we would encounter on our journey. I hope to have time to write more about it.