Sunday, June 28, 2009
One of my first childhood friends was gay. We both spent a lot of Saturday nights at our babysitter Betsy's house where her disturbed grandson Leland often exposed himself to us and locked us in closets until someone heard us crying and let us out. Besides the obvious downsides, these nights were pretty fun -- we watched "The Lawrence Welk Show" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" while waiting for our dinner of instant mashed potatoes and Hamburger Helper, followed by bowls of ice-milk sprinkled with Nestle Quik. We both adored Betsy, and I loved my friend whom I will call R, but I wasn't surprised when my dad took me aside and told me he wasn't like the other boys, that he would probably grow up and like boys instead of girls and that was fine, that there were a lot of people in the world like that, but that most people didn't understand and could be cruel. R was five at the time and already had a theatrical sense that could rival Liberace. My dad was a kind, sensitive man and thought R was great, especially when he told jokes or sang Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes" while floating around in the baby pool.
Today marks forty years since Stonewall, the riots at a bar in NYC that marked a beginning of sorts for gay rights. Other groups like the Mattachines had been around for a long time, but had taken a more secretive, conservative approach. Stonewall meant fighting back against police oppression (homosexuals were routinely rounded up in bars and arrested not so very long ago). So much has changed since then; when I began teaching, I had one extremely brave student who was "out" and read his paper about his sexuality in the heart of redneck Texas to a class composed of many football players while I hoped and prayed that nobody would say anything hurtful. By the time I'd been teaching for a decade, almost all of my classes had students that were out. Even so, I take this time as a call to people to show more love, more live and let live. The first time I went to San Francisco, I saw a poster about safe sex with two men kissing. You'd never see that in Texas, I thought. When I returned that night, someone had scrawled Faggots in blood red ink over the poster. Classy. What a great use of someone's time and energy. Or my personal favorite, the so-called religious protesters at funerals with compassionate signs that read -- God hates fags or Your son is burning in Hell. As a person of faith, I find this especially disgusting. I think back to those nights in front of the television with R, watching the goings on in Hazzard County, debating who was cuter, Luke or Bo Duke. For us, Daisy never even entered the picture.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law." James Baldwin
Working on a mojito video -- my favorite rum drink! It's very difficult to make, so if you guys have any tips, send them along.
Benedictions and Maledictions