C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Off the Hook

May take a break from blogging this week.  Work is kicking my butt.  Don't feel very well, either.  And for another thing, it's one of those times when the general foolishness of collective humanity just irks the hell out of me, to the point that I don't want to comment or even think about it all.  Rather just curl up with a good book in a cozy, sunlit corner and let the world roll on by.

Y'all be careful out there.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lovelight: Tender Moments

What it should be like, the way I used to dream that it would be.

Good night, guys.  Have sweet dreams.  Like this.

Standard Time: I've Got a Crush on You

Ella weaves her sinuous sound around the Gershwin classic in this high-quality audio recording.

Sunday Drive: Spring, from Vivaldi's Four Seasons

As played by prodigy Elli Choi.  I think you'll be charmed and amazed, as I was.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Big Clock

The fabulous Steve Hayes gives the goods on the Ray Milland/Charles Laughton film noir thriller.

And here's the trailer:

A tip for film fans:  Noel Neill is the elevator girl.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Afternoon Drive: Wake Me Up Inside

Sunny and 70 here in Texas, perfect spring weather.  Y'all have a good one, see you down the road.

Writer's Lives

Found on Sullivan's blog::
The intimate lives of writers have always had a special attraction for readers, perhaps because we imagine that people who can shape ideas and arrange scenes on the page should be able to offer us some special insight into how to order our messy off-the-page lives. This has rarely been proven the case—writers often seem less, rather than more, gifted at the mechanics of everyday existence; all the same it has not stemmed our interest in finding out what Sylvia said to Ted or why Simone pimped for Jean-Paul. This interest speaks, I think, to a dream of coherence—a matching-up of intellect and emotion, of romance and reason—that continues to inspire us even as it eludes our grasp.
And of course, that idea that we can truly know someone merely through what they write is utterly fallacious.  As anyone who's ever tried online dating knows, or ought to know.

Rush to Judgment in Sonoma County

Joe.My.God. and other blogs are now reporting new details on that Sonoma County case of two elderly gay men allegedly victimized by the county and nursing homes.  According to the Sheriff's Department and news reports, domestic violence is part of the story too, and the county acted appropriately to protect the two men, and at their request.  From the local Press-Democrat:
Spaulding said the allegations of abuse is the real case. Greene, he said, attacked Scull and the county stepped in to protect the elder man at his own request. In court documents, Spaulding said Scull was admitted to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa on April 27, 2008 as a result of domestic violence-related injuries inflicted by Greene. The case was reported to the Sheriff’s Office, adult protective services and the county’s public guardian, who all conducted investigations, he said. Scull allegedly told officials he no longer wished to live with Greene, so he was placed in a nursing home. Greene was later deemed incapable of caring for himself and was sent to a different facility, Spaulding said. The men were given a chance to remove possessions from their rented Sebastopol house, he said. What was left was sold at auction to cover their expenses, Spaulding said.
Which just goes to show how important it is for you and for me not to make snap judgments based on only one side of the story.  And there are two sides to every story in the world.

We pride ourselves on the fact that our government, our way of life, is based on the rule of law, and that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, with the facts established in open court.  We all need to keep that rule in our hearts and minds, too.

Just because you want to believe something is true doesn't make it so.  That's in fact the very definition of prejudice, right?  And it works both ways.

Workin' on the Railroad

A trailer for a Pentrex video showcasing some of the latest MOW equipment, among other things.

Dayyum. These machines are so butch, they're almost a turn-on, ya know?  Scoop me, spread me, shoot it out, baby.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"There's a Communist in the White House": Tea Party Tax Day

Tragedy and comedy, all at the same time.  Away with the federal government - but keep my Social Security because that's not government.  And lower taxes for the rich, who shouldn't have to pay more than anybody else. 

Cover your keyboard before viewing.

Note that most of these people at this particular protest are not Southerners.  I can tell.

And BTW, who the fuck is this Lord Monckton, and what the hell business does he have sticking his British nose into our politics?

Honk to Culture Choc.

Something That Won't Let Go

Is there a South anymore?--Willie Morris
This morning I stumbled upon something I read many years ago but had forgotten:  an essay by the late, great Willie Morris, first published in 1986.  (I was a charter subscriber to Southern Magazine - not to be confused with Southern Living - which, alas, folded after only a few issues due to a massive cancellation of subscribers:  they had dared to publish an article discussing how the gays were gentrifying an old neighborhood in Birmingham.  With pictures, even.  Which of course was completely unacceptable for a family magazine down here, even in the Eighties.)

A quarter-century later, I think it is safe to say that yes, despite the advent of home computers, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, Supercenters, and Starbucks, there is still a South, still a Southern identity, both vulgarized and modernized beyond what our grandparents would have believed possible - changed but unchanging, attenuated but still palpable and vital in the music and manners, speech and thought, of the great arc of piney woods and verdant fields that extends from Virginia to Texas, this green and pleasant land.  Something different, something apart from the rest of the country that still lingers for good or ill in the rhythms of mind and memory.

I used to be proud, fiercely proud of my Southern identity:  a form of patriotism.  You Yankee boys don't know anything about that, this middle allegiance between the loyalty you feel to your family and the love you feel for the United States.  Southerners of the old school - down till my generation, anyway; I don't know about the young people today - felt just as passionately a third loyalty that fell somewhere between the other two, and partook of both, but was distinct, a pride and an identity all its own.  George Wallace in a speech one time referred to Southerners as "the greatest people on the face of the earth."  Which of course was an unremarkable phrase down here:  anyone who heard it would have thought the Governor was merely stating the obvious.  Yes, it was that kind of pride:  unreflecting and immovable, determined to take a stand, to live and die in Dixie.  My country, right or wrong.

It took a long time for the full consciousness of all that was wrong, deeply and tragically wrong, to dawn on me.  I was long past grown before I could understand why some writers and artists, like Willie, seemed to turn their backs on the South, moved away, distanced themselves from all the goodness and glory of being Southern.  Now, of course, the scales have long since fallen from my eyes.  Now, of course, I am not deceived, I see clearly what lies in the dark shadows of our moonlight-and-magnolias landscape:  the ignorance, intolerance, and cruel, overweening pride.  The self-perpetuating lies beneath our lilting tongue that every closed society is prey to.  I understand now why Willie and others left - why they had to leave. 

Though of course in a very real sense, you never can leave:  the South, after all, is not so much a place as a state of mind. 

An excerpt from Willie's essay:
DOES THE SOUTH exist any longer? One has to seek the answer on one's own terms, of course, but to do that, I suggest, one should spurn the boardrooms and the country clubs and the countless college seminars on the subject and spend a little time at the ball games and the funerals and the bus stations and the courthouses and the bargain-rate beauty parlors and the little churches and the roadhouses and the joints near the closing hour.

I did not judge the South remotely dead in a roadhouse near Vicksburg on a recent Saturday of the full moon. The parking lot was filled with pick-up trucks. That afternoon, only a mile beyond the hill, they had put 20,000 miniature American flags on the Union dead in the battlefield for Memorial Day, and the bar talk was vivid on this and other things. Dozens of couples in all modes of dress gyrated on the dance floor to Willie Nelson tunes, and the unprepossessing interior echoed with wild greetings and indigenous hosannas. There was a pride in this place that I knew in my ancestral soul, a pride not to be unduly tampered with, and if you had had the mettle to ask one of those people if the South still existed on that night, he would have stared you up and down and replied: "Who you, boy?"

I know a black South African student whom the Soviets courted at the University of Moscow before he decided to take a fellowship here. I enjoy watching the South through his eyes. "When I first came, I was afraid I'd made a big mistake," he says. "But the South grows on you. It seems so removed, but it's vividly real. I'll miss it when I go home. I don't understand why your national media wants a uniform U.S.A."

Nor, for that matter, do I. But I can testify to the hostility and ambivalence toward the South that still exists in many areas of the nation. Is it the lingering fear of differentness? I testify also to my own self-ironies, for when I dwelled in the North I felt more Southern than I ever had before; back home again to stay, I feel more American.

Perhaps in the end it is the old, inherent, devil-may-care instinct of the South that remains in the most abundance and will sustain the South in its uncertain future. The reckless gambler's instinct that fought and lost that war. Snake Stabler calling a bootleg play on fourth down, a Texas wildcatter putting his stakes on the one big strike, a black mother working 16 hours a day to educate her children, a genteel matron borrowing from the banker to send her daughter to a university sorority so she can marry well. It is gambling with the heart, it is a glass menagerie, it is something that won't let go.

Photo: The Ruins of Windsor by Eudora Welty, 1935.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First Rose

Dan Choi Arrested at the White House - Again

Lt. Dan Choi, Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, Petty Officer Larry Whitt, Cadet Mara Boyd, Airman Victor Price, and Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen - a transgender woman who regularly blogs on Pam's House Blend - were arrested at the White House today after chaining themselves to the fence.  Newsweek's Human Condition blog has short profiles on the group here.  Choi and Pietrangello, you remember, were already arrested for doing the same thing just last month.  Raw video of today's arrests from CBS:

And in an unprecedented move, White House Police cleared reporters from the area and barred them from covering the story:  this from "the most transparent Administration in history":

The President was heckled during a speech yesterday by protesters demanding an end to DADT, to which the President responded, "I agree"; both this and the White House protest were organized by GetEqual:

An apt quote from Rep. Barney Frank, speaking over the weekend to the Victory Fund about the passage of ENDA:
Here's my radical homosexual agenda:  Let us get married, join the military and hold down a job. Very few radicals in history would have thought much of that.

In Memoriam: Dorothy Height, 1912-2010

I'm astounded that I never heard of Dorothy Height - the "Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement" - until I saw this post about her death on Joe.My.God. today, but what a fascinating person.

A very interesting series of oral history interviews with her at this link:

Dorothy I. Height: Visionary Videos: NVLP: African American History

Posted using ShareThis

Mapping It

So I came across this wonderful quote from a piece by Mary McCarthy written for the New Yorker back in the 1950's.  McCarthy was one of those great intellectual writers back in the day, fiercely political, who got involved in feuds with other intellectuals that led to no end of sniping and quarrelling amongst other New York types that I really have very little interest in.  However, I can recommend her book, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, which sounds like it ought to be a sweet, sentimental little memoir - and is anything but.  If you like fine writing and vivid storytelling, give it a try; she wields a pen the way a surgeon wields a scalpel.

Well, having been reminded of McCarthy, I went to refresh my memory of her life and times, and one website led to another - you know how that goes.  But somewhere along the way, I made a pretty cool discovery:  how to create and embed a personalized Google map in your blog, so I thought I'd share that with my truckbuddies. 

View Some Long Automobile Trips in a larger map

This map is pretty lame, I only spent five minutes on it, but it was the first thing I could think of to try.  I can see a lot more possibilities of things to do with this though.  So if you guys want to give it a try sometime, here's two sets of easy directions to get you started:

Embeddable map samples

How-to video.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Details on Gay Couple Victimized by California County

Available at the NCLR blog here.  Sounds to me like a case of greedy county officials wanting to liquidate all the couple's assets in a hurry to pay for the nursing home bill.  Read it and see what you think.  Emphasis mine:
“In the 33 years of our organization’s history, this case is perhaps among the most tragic NCLR has ever been involved in,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Clay and Harold had taken all of the necessary precautions, including living wills and powers of attorneys, to protect them in a time of crisis. Not only were their relationship and legal documents ignored, Clay and Harold literally lost everything. These appalling events demonstrate how urgently same-sex couples need full equality rather than a patchwork of rights that can be dismissed and ignored in a culture that still treats LGBT people as second-class citizens. This never should have happened to Clay and Harold.”
The couple lived in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California, about fifty miles north of San Francisco.  Ironically, according to Wikipedia, "the county's tolerant political environment have made the Guerneville area along the Russian River the home of a number of gay and lesbian resorts, which have catered to the San Francisco LGBT weekend-getaway community since the 1970s."

If you really want to read something that will make your blood boil, check out the pdf of the actual court petition filed by Clay and his attorney here (honk to Heretic Tom for the link).

In particular, note the repeated, public homophobic insults and intimidation of Clay by county and nursing home employees - "you know how those gay boys are," etc. - detailed on pp. 12-16.  And then notice on page 51 how, after they had utterly cleaned out the couple's house, and even taken all of Clay's clothes and shoes and underwear away, they left him sitting there alone without even a bed for several days until they came and locked him up in a home for dementia patients.

And when they took his two cats away by the neck and threw them in a truck, somebody shoved Clay to the ground when he tried to protest.  Nobody now knows what became of the cats.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage, among other bloggers who are writing about this:  this needs to be protested more than Constance McMillen's prom, far and wide and loud.

A word to the wise:  Take a tip from your Head Trucker, guys.  If you live with a partner, and you intend it to be permanent - be sure both your names are on the deed, the mortgage, the lease, or the rental agreement.  You have been warned.

And if your partner isn't willing to do that, well - the two of you need to have a serious heart-to-heart talk about what your true intentions really are.

Actions speak louder than words.  It's very, very easy to say "I love you," anybody can do that. 

But how many can show it?   There is a difference.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lovelight: Thirty Minutes

Good night guys, sweet dreams.

That's Gay: Prom

I didn't go to my prom, didn't have a girlfriend at that time, and so never got swept up in the excitement of all that.  So it was a non-event in my world, and as I recall I was much more focused on graduation and getting out of high school hell.

Did any of you guys go to prom, I wonder, and was it fun?

Update:  Via Joe.My.God. - down in Cochran, Georgia, about 40 miles south of Macon, Derrick Martin took his boyfriend Richard Goodman, both 18, to Derrick's prom on Saturday night, and a good time was had by all, no incidents.  The local school board acquiesced after they discovered they had no rule in place to justify prohibiting a same-sex couple from attending. 

I love this picture, they look just exactly like me and my contemporaries did when I was in high school:

And this is a picture of real courage.  You guys have to understand - it's small-town Georgia, which, like small-town Texas, is extremely homophobic and hostile to anything gay.  Derrick's parents, in fact, have kicked him out of the house over this.  In my day and time, that would have been only the beginning of troubles.

But what a difference forty years makes.  When I stop to think how very different my life might have been if only . . . .   OMG.

Canada's Rosa Parks Vindicated at Last

A story I stumbled upon this morning over at Culture Choc:  in 1946 Viola Desmond, a black Nova Scotia businesswoman, was forcibly dragged out of a movie theater by police for sitting in the downstairs "whites only" section (rather than the "colored" balcony), spent the night in jail, and was ultimately convicted of tax evasion for - get this - not paying the extra one cent sales tax for the downstairs seat, and fined $20 plus costs.  Even though she'd offered to pay the extra charge, but the theater manager refused, telling her he couldn't sell a ticket to "you people."

I never knew before now that Canada had any kind of racial segregation in that period, but it just goes to show that racism is definitely not unique to the South, or to the United States.

Last Thursday, however, the Premier of Nova Scotia apologized on behalf of the province at a ceremony honoring Desmond - who died in 1965 - and representing the Queen of Canada, the Lieutenant Governor, herself a black woman, signed a free pardon for the wrongful conviction.  Good deal.  Story and video here and here.  Viola's 83-year-old sister, Wanda, was present to receive the honors accorded her late sister.

Sometimes you may think your one tiny act of courage or decency is too small, too obscure, to be remembered or make any difference in the universe.  But you never can tell what the ultimate effect of doing the right thing will be, even if it comes many years after you've gone to dust. 

So just do the right thing anyway.

Wanda Robson looks on with Premier Dexter and Paris as Lt. Governor Francis signs a pardon for her sister in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sunday Drive: Simple Gifts

Photographs by Ansel Adams.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why You Should Care about Equal Marriage

Quite often when I'm reading news stories about the struggle for marriage equality, I notice reader comments - over and over again - to the effect that, "Oh well, the government should just get out of the marriage business entirely, the government shouldn't tell you who you can love," etc.

Which is such a juvenile, brainless, totally non-comprehending attitude.  It makes me want to slap somebody.  Hard.

So for all the party boys and dickheads out there who still have not got a fucking clue, I'm going to say it again:  Marriage is not about "who you can love."  Nobody gives a crap who you love, butthead.

Marriage is all about making other people leave you the hell alone, and keep their goddamn hands off you and your money and your property

Can you hear it any plainer than that?

Marriage, at the bottom line, is not about love and romance and crepe-paper hearts and sentimental songs.  That's a wedding.  Try to get it straight in your mind, goober.

Marriage is a safety zone for two people protected by the full force of the law.  It makes the two of you a family; which love alone absolutely does not.  It makes, forces, all the rest of the world to respect that bond between you, and that boundary around you.  Which they will.not.do. unless the law compels them.

And that means you get to keep your car, your house, your bank account, your furniture, your belongings, your pictures, and your privacy and your dignity.  You, the two of you, get to decide what happens when life takes a turn for the worse, and not your greedy-ass relatives - stop and think about it, bud - and not some we-know-what's-best-for-you stranger.

Case in point, via Joe.My.God. from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a legal rights group now taking this case to court:
Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.
Are you getting this picture?  Notice that these guys had all the legal paperwork like wills and medical directives already done - and still they were trashed, spit on, walked over, and shoved aside.

Because they were not married.  Just that one little word is worth more than all the paperwork in the world.  Just say that one word, and everybody backs off, stops, calls off the dogs, and shuts the fuck up.

Don't think it can't happen to you, pretty little thing.  You won't always be young and beautiful and the center of an adoring crowd.  One day you too will be old and gray, and utterly invisible to all the cool young sexy studs.  One day you too will want a little circle of peace and security in which you can live out your life with someone who truly cares about you and not your wardrobe.  And that day is coming at you a helluva lot sooner than you think, buster - long before you need a walker or a wheelchair.

So wise up and give a damn.  Marriage is not about declaring your love, it's about protecting it - and protecting yourself and protecting the person you chose to share your life with.  Trust me on this, guys.  I could tell you stories.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Obama Orders Hospitals to Respect the Gays

Huh.  Didn't know he could do it that easily, but here's the WaPo story on last night's Presidential memo:
President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients' choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.

The president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo that was e-mailed to reporters Thursday night while he was at a fundraiser in Miami. Administration officials and gay activists, who have been quietly working together on the issue, said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation's health-care institutions. Obama's order will start a rule-making process at HHS that could take several months, officials said.

Hospitals often bar visitors who are not related to an incapacitated patient by blood or marriage, and gay rights activists say many do not respect same-sex couples' efforts to designate a partner to make medical decisions for them if they are seriously ill or injured. "Discrimination touches every facet of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including at times of crisis and illness, when we need our loved ones with us more than ever," Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement praising the president's decision.

Obama's mandate is the latest attempt by his administration to advance the agenda of a constituency that strongly supported his presidential campaign. In his first 15 months in office, he has hailed the passage of hate crime legislation and held the first Gay Pride Day celebration at the White House. Last month, Obama's top military and defense officials testified before Congress in favor of repealing of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the armed forces. . .

The new rules will not apply only to gays. They also will affect widows and widowers who have been unable to receive visits from a friend or companion. And they would allow members of some religious orders to designate someone other than a family member to make medical decisions.

"The General Accounting Office has identified 1,138 instances in federal law where marriage is important," said one gay rights activist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the White House formally announced the directive. "We've knocked off one of them."
Full text of the directive is here.  Also, the President did a very touching thing:
Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side.

Obama called Langbehn on Thursday evening from Air Force One as he flew to Miami, White House officials said. In an interview, Langbehn praised the president for his actions.

"I kept saying it's not a gay right to hold someone's hand when they die, its a human right," she said, noting that she and Pond had been partners for almost 18 years. "Now to have the president call up and say he agrees with me, it's pretty amazing, and very humbling."
Well I don't know about you guys, but the President's stock just rose about a thousand points with me.  I'm going to write and tell him so.

Thank you, Mr. President.

White House Video: Letters to the President

Over at whitehouse.gov, I found this cool video and thought I'd share it with my truckbuddies.  The President reads ten letters from the public every day.  Every day.  Think about that.

Afternoon Drive: Hombres Sexys

I don't know if the title is good Spanish or not, but with guys like these - who cares?

Friday is finally here.  Y'all have a good one, see you down the road.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Torch Song

Steve Hayes gives us the lowdown on Joan Crawford's 1953 campfest musical - and on Miss No-Wire-Hangers herself:

Just for fun, here's the original trailer:

I have to wonder, did straight guys ever find this persona to be sexy?  Dramatic, sure, and nice legs - but who would ever actually want to sleep with a gal who acted this way?  A two-by-four would be softer and sweeter.

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Thing

The first iris:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lovelight: Tonight

Good night guys.  Sweet dreams.

Sunday Drive: The Boxer

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In Memoriam: Dixie Carter Dead at 70

80th Academy Awards Nominees LuncheonOne of my favorites is gone:  Dixie Carter, wife of Hal Holbrook and immortalized in many minds by her role as Julia Sugarbaker in Designing Women, died Saturday morning.  Where and how she died has not been made public, but her husband said in a written statement, "This has been a terrible blow to our family.  We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy."

How sad.  Joe.My.God. has some Julia clips over on his site if you want to see them.

Update:  Carter died of enodmetrial cancer in Houston, the New York Times reports.

Also, from Box Turtle Bulletin, this excerpt of an interview Carter - a Republican - gave to MetroWeekly in 1998:
MW: Let me be more specific. What about the possibility of gay marriage?

Carter:  That’s hard for me, because I’m very old fashioned, very old-timey. So that idea is hard for me. On the other hand, maybe the most loving marriage that I’ve ever seen is a gay marriage. It has not been codified as such by the church, but it is a marriage. And has been for years and years and years. But to answer your question, I have to work through what marriage means — and the first thing in my mind goes to is that marriage is for the procreation of the race. It’s a sacrament to unite people so that they can begin a family and have children. But Hal Holbrook and I got married at an age past when we can expect to have children. So here I am in a very happy marriage that I think is fine. So if I feel that way about my marriage to Hal, why would I have a problem with a gay marriage? Still, it’s hard for me. I’m very traditional.

Love Potion Number 9

Benefit Performance of A.R. Gurney's
Rumor has it that longtime AIDS activist - oh, and um, ultra-famous movie star - Elizabeth Taylor, 78, is all set to hitch up with her ninth husband, Jason Winters, a man thirty years her junior.  Well, there's life in the old girl yet, good for her. 

But gotta love Joe Jervis's take on it:

Straight folks can get married again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. And most of us can't get married once.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gay Jesus Play Nixed Again

So on Wednesday, Fort Worth's Rose Marine Theater announced it would allow the cancelled student production of Corpus Christi to be performed on its stage.

And then on Thursday, after receiving at least one threat of violence, the theater's board of directors withdrew the offer.

Meanwhile, Gallaudet University in Washington, D. C., is putting on three performances of the play this weekend.  In which the Christ-like figure is not only gay but deaf, too.  Imagine that.

Naturally, the rightwing homophobes up there are protesting too, but Gallaudet officials have not backed down.

By coincidence, I suppose, playwright Terrence McNally, who grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, made news for a different, but serendipitous reason this week, as the Washington Post reports:
Married: Terrence McNally and Tom Kirdahy Tuesday in Washington. The Tony-winning playwright, 71, and lawyer, 46, tied the knot on the banks of the Potomac near the Kennedy Center, which is running a series of McNally's plays. The couple had a civil union in Vermont seven years ago, but wanted a marriage: Rev. George Walker of the People's Congregational United Church of Christ performed the ceremony -- Kirdahy read a scene from McNally's play "Corpus Christi" -- and actress Tyne Daly served as a witness. The couple live in New York City.

Afternoon Drive: I Knew I Loved You

Have a good one guys, see you down the road.

Confederate History and Other Delusions

Found on Joe.My.God.:  Obama makes clear that slavery is not a negligible item in the history of this country.

What I Say:  Ever since Appomatox and right down to this present moment, a great many Southerners, high and low, have been swearing that "slavery was not the cause of the Civil War."  This was accepted truth, an article of faith during my childhood in the segregated South, a "fact" nobody questioned.

Which is pure and simple bullshit:  a willful denial of the historical facts, a wishful thought that elevates the secessionists into great heroes of liberty rather than people whose consciences were calloused by the practice of a great evil.

If anybody ever tries to pull this argument on you, boys, all you have to do is refer them to the Declaration of Causes written by the Texas Secession Convention, where it is all laid out perfectly plain, and in passionate detail:  the North wants to take our slaves away and by God we ain't a-gonna stand for it, oh hell no.  An excerpt:
In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color--a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy [here, meaning the United States as a grouping that can be seceded from, not a permanent union], the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States. . . .

In view of these and many other facts, it is meet that our own views should be distinctly proclaimed.

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy [here, meaning the United States] itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.

By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South. . . .
"The debasing doctrine of the equality of all men."  And black slavery is the Will of God.  Right. 

And of course, this is but one of many, many documents in the historical record that prove the point.

But of course the biggest and deepest river in the South has always been Denial.

Even a century and a half after the whole rotten structure of slavery and secession was crushed by force of arms.  And now this kind of fanatical, self-righteous, reactionary thinking is resurgent.  Andrew Sullivan quotes Noah Millman on "Who Closed the Conservative Mind?", one answer to which is this:
--Blame the South. The argument, in a nutshell, is that a successful political coalition in America cannot be dominated by the South, as the GOP currently is. The South is a distinct region in America, significantly different in history and political culture from the rest of the country. Moreover, regional identity in the South is manifested substantially in opposition to the rest of the nation. A political movement dominated by the South will necessarily manifest a political culture that is more similar to that of the South than to that of the rest of the nation, and that political movement is also going to absorb this oppositional element of Southern identity, and will necessarily become overly invested in intellectual shibboleths. What looks like epistemic closure is really just identity politics.

I don’t think this explanation can be dismissed out of hand – in particular, dismissing it out of hand as “insulting” to the South would be an instance of precisely the dynamic I’m outlining. The South does have a distinct history and culture; that culture is substantially oppositional; and the American right is dominated by the South in a way that it has not been before. Dominance of a party by an atypical and oppositional region is just a structural problem. And, if this is a problem, it is going to be a hard one for the American right to solve, because the South is now large enough and strong enough, and remains cohesive enough, that its leaders should expect to lead any coalition of which they are a member.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.  If you listen to the Teabagger crowd and nearly all the rest of the Republican leadership, they sound just like the guys who wrote the Declaration of Causes.  Just like them.

Which brings all that boring old American history you learned in school into a whole new perspective, doesn't it?

And here's a vision of the future history of this country coming straight at you, boys, the overthrow of everything Obama and the current Congress will have done.  Newt Gingrich at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference:

A Republican President and Congress in 2013:  if that doesn't scare you shitless, what will?

More seditious ranting from the oh-so-holy, thrice-married, serial-adulterer Newt here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Harry Truman on the Underdog

President Truman has always been a great favorite of mine for several reasons, not the least of which are his great common sense and his clearsighted understanding of human nature.  I just happened to come across this remark by him from his 1947 diary, at a time when the world was much exercised over events in the Middle East - and isn't it always.  Nevertheless, this particular remark, I think, has much wider application.
Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I've found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes.
Now insert the word Gay into Truman's list, and you'll have something to think about.

Waitin' for the Weekend

Today's Quote: Colin Farrell

Actor Colin Farrell in a statement to Ireland's BeLonGTo Youth Services:
Irish Film And Television Awards - ArrivalsI can't remember much about the years of physical and emotional abuse my brother Eamon suffered. I was very small. The thing I do remember though, quite literally, is blood on his school shirt when he came home in the afternoon. The beatings and taunting were very frequent for my him and a constant part of his school years. I didn't understand at that time the concept of "difference". Back then, as now, he was just my big brother. If I did understand what difference was I understood it in the most pure and unaffected childlike way. To me then, as a child, difference meant being left out. Joy and laughter came with being included, being embraced , and BELONGING to.

People are often afraid of difference. They feel that anything that causes fear, should be turned away from. My brother represented fear for so many people, but caused joy in my life. From a very young age he made me laugh with his intelligence and wit, made me aspire to his strength and goodness. He was to be embraced. To many of the students of his school however he was to be feared. He was to be turned away from. I didn't understand it then, and I still don't know. As a race we humans are united and divided by emotions. The mother and father of all emotions, the queen and king are love and fear. Love unites, it brings us closer to an understanding of the possibility of beauty amidst all the confusion and pain that life can bring. Hate is a disease. It is fear's messenger and it makes us do terrible things in a shadow of our better selves, of what we could be.

Intolerance is not genetically encoded - it is taught. It is learned at home. It is learned in the classrooms and it is learned anywhere else we gather as a group. But it is usually learned early and added onto from there. If there is nothing to feared, there is nothing to hate. If there is nothing to hate there is no pain. My brother was so forceful in standing up for who he was, and for the good that he knew was inside of him. Many people missed out on an opportunity, not only to enjoy him, but to enjoy themselves by embracing his "difference". They missed out because they saw him as a threat - not as a testament to the kaleidoscope and diversity of this beautiful world. Bullying is torture, it is another betrayal of basic human decency and its scars reach way into the future of its survivors. But the saddest truth is that not all children survive it. It is a potentially fatal societal illness and must be respected and not feared. Respected and dealt with as a very real problem and as an adversary of a potentially harmonious world, that should have no place for bullies or bullying.

Honk to Joe.My.God.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Rains Came

Steve Hayes reviews the 1939 disaster film, the most expensive Fox production up till that time, starring Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy in an illicit, interracial love affair set in India.

Wait, what was that about Tyrone and Cesar?  Come on, Steve - dish!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Census

Lots of things are going on in the world that a dedicated news blogger would be posting all kinds of stuff about right now, gay-related and otherwise.  But since it's just my hobby and not my job, I'll let you guys read all about those things from the serious bloggers listed in the column at right.  If you feel like it.

I'm moved, or saddened, or outraged about some of those things, sure.  But I got other serious stuff on my mind right now, and a lot of work and other things taking up my time and energy.  Sometimes you just have to keep your head down and nose to the grindstone, and can't bear to wrassle with all the stupid shit going on the world; takes all you can do just to tend your own little garden, you know what I mean?

But I did perform the one semi-patriotic duty I was called upon to do this week:

Mailed mine in on Monday.  And I was like, totally underwhelmed with it this year.  Name.  Address.  Age, race, and sex.  And that was pretty much it.

And here are all these people ranting and raving about what an awful thing it is, and all the terrible effects it will have.  Please . . . .

Though I would have loved to mark the "married" box for the first time ever; but that was not to be.  Oh well.

Barring that, if I'd known about them ahead of time, I would have liked to slap one of those queer-pink stickers on the back of the envelope at least.  Which of course is utterly pointless; the envelopes all go straight into the trash before the forms ever reach the bean-counting machines, I'm sure, and no one gives a rap.  Still, it would have added a splash of color to the banal memory of sticking the form in the mailbox slot. 

Otherwise, it was a non-event for me, what about you guys?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jonathan Rauch: Letting Go of My Father

In this month's Atlantic, a very poignant essay by gay scholar and author Jonathan Rauch about the overwhelming task of caring for a helpless, elderly parent - a subject I suppose many of us can relate to, or have faced, or will face.  An excerpt:
Broaching the subject and confessing desperation was like uttering the password to a secret brotherhood of beleaguered, overwhelmed, weary, or sometimes just resigned adult caregivers. But the sect seemed ashamed to be seen.

As I reached my own breaking point, two things happened. First, my father caught sight of my distress. He would not accept assisted living on his own account, but when I told him that he was already in assisted living but that I was the assistance; that I was overwhelmed, underqualified, and barely hanging on emotionally; that I wanted to be his son again, not a nurse and nag and adversary—when I told him all that, and when his sister and the social worker chimed in, he acceded. He was still, after all, my father, and it was still his job, he understood, to care for me. Second, the inevitable happened. As his disease overtook him, not even he could deny his incapacity. And so he moved, reluctantly, to a nearby assisted-living place, which gave me the help I needed and, to no one’s surprise but his own, gave my father more rather than less independence. Another phase of the story then unfolded, ending with his death in December. His last gesture to me, so very characteristic, was to wave me away. He wanted me to go on with my life rather than hover by his bedside.

I did go on, but I emerged from the whole experience not a little indignant. The medical infrastructure for elder care in America is good, very good. But the cultural infrastructure is all but nonexistent. How can it be that so many people like me are so completely unprepared for what is, after all, one of life’s near certainties?

I would only add, the "medical infrastructure for elder care" might be "very good" in Washington, D.C. - but that, too, is all but nonexistent in smaller cities and rural communities across this country. Unless you have lots of money, of course. I cared for my dear mother for her last ten years of declining health, and it was just hell on wheels, boys, the crappy, indifferent care from doctors and hospitals - and no way to get her any home health care at all. Just me, and nobody else to help.

Pretty damn rough, let me tell you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Leave Her to Heaven

Steve Hayes knocks it out of the park again with this review of the Gene Tierney film noir classic - in Technicolor!

Sex and the Sacred

Rich Heffern in the National Catholic Reporter:
Why is sexuality so precious? “Because it is the great enabler,” writes Diane Ackerman, “that allows us to commune with every aspect of being alive, with people and objects, landscapes and cities. One needs love to feel harmonious, to feel part of the rich landscape of one’s life.”

To say that sexuality is just an animal instinct, an obstacle to holiness, is to say that sexuality has nothing to do with our humanity. But in fact our sexuality is an integral part of our personal and interpersonal identities. From childhood it looms large in our lives, and we must deal with it one way or the other. Thomas Moore, in his best-selling book The Soul of Sex, writes:
We have a habit of talking about sexuality as merely physical, yet nothing has more soul. Sex takes us into the world of intense passions, sensual touch, exciting fantasies, many levels of meaning and subtle emotions. It makes the imagination come alive with fantasy, reverie and memory. Even if the sex is loveless, empty or manipulative, still it has strong repercussions in the soul, and even bad sexual experiences leave lasting, haunting impressions.
There is an ancient wisdom, even within the Judeo-Christian tradition, that maintains that sexuality is primarily spiritual, possibly the single greatest source of spiritual vitality in the human psyche. Sexuality is a mode of interaction with divinity.

The Old Testament’s Song of Songs describes the relationship between Yahweh and humans in the most gloriously sensual and erotic images and poetry. Catholic mystic St. John of the Cross used sexual intimacy as the effective analogy for understanding intimacy with God. St. Augustine referred to the cross of Christ as a marriage bed, intimating that our sexuality has infinite redemptive dimensions. . . .

In short, our sexuality is a rich source of religious experience, a great and holy mystery that brings beauty, meaning and divinity to our lives. Human love is a shape taken by the love of God.

Honk to Andrew Sullivan.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lovelight: Oh Love

No pictures needed, really: just close your eyes and listen.

Really listen.

Good night guys, and sweet dreams.

Sunday Drive: Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Alleluia.  Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.
To the glory of God and in memory of those I love but see no longer:  a hymn without which, in these parts at least, it just wouldn't be Easter at all.  I came across two kickin' versions of it, and couldn't decide between them.  So I used both, hope you enjoy.

The peace of the Lord be with y'all, this day and always.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Agnus Dei

My only Lenten offering this year.  And my favorite classical piece, which will be played one day at my funeral.  Some of you know it as the Adagio for Strings.

Peace to you all.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unexpected Meeting

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
My religious history is a long and winding road, from my christening at the age of six months down till now:  a story much too tedious to relate in one sitting, and of no use or interest to anyone but me.  Nor has it been a casual stroll down a blossom-covered lane; rather, times without number it has seemed a stony, uphill path leading only to Calvary.  As C. S. Lewis phrased it, I have "learned my driving in a hard school"; though whether anything I have learned can be of the slightest help to anyone else, I cannot possibly say.  I can only share and relate what has happened in this obscure life of mine, for whatever it may be worth to anyone else, and that is probably not much.

And I can speak only in Christian terms, because that is the only religious grammar and vocabulary I know.  Though I have come to realize at this late age that God is bigger than the Church, and bigger than the Bible; inconceivably bigger than we can comprehend:  a mystery, a joy, a boundless love at the heart of things I can in no way define but merely affirm.

Tonight I will share with you my Maundy Thursday story; and all I can do is tell it, not explain it. 

Continued after the jump . . .

Mixner Says "Enough!"

An excerpt from David Mixner, now marking 50 years of activism for civil rights, who has these trenchant observations on President Obama and LGBT rights - emphasis in the original:
How bad is the situation? Really bad. We are not anywhere near there yet. By any stretch of the imagination. . . .

President Obama Addresses The Annual Human Rights Campaign National DinnerFor the last year, over and over again in the blogsphere, we have written about how 2009 was our year. We understood never again would we have the kind of margin the Democrats had in Congress in the future, that it wasn't an election year and that the time to act was then. The Obama team, and yes HRC, told us to wait; that they had a grand plan and everything would take place in time.

Well the time is over for poetic words and empty promises. Our patience has run out. If HRC has a master plan and time schedule, we at this stage, have a right to know what it is and what the Obama team promised them last year. Simply put, enough of these political games and giving our friends permission to take detours, prolong the trip and deny us our freedom.

As our president memorably said a while ago, "Enough." Really and seriously - enough.

Honk to AmericablogGay.
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