Wednesday, August 30, 2006
HBO and Spike Lee have collaborated on a documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. It is a chilling indictment on the current administration and its complete inability to govern in the face of adversity.
While I was watching this last night, my phone rang and it was El calling from Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. I posted about El last October. She was a Katrina evacuee that I took into my home for a few months. She had gone to work at a hotel in New Orleans with a couple of days worth of clothes in a beach bag, thinking she would ride out the storm in the hotel and then go home. She never went home again. After being evacuated to Texas, she was sent to Massachusetts. Her close family was scattered all over the country. Some of them have never returned, choosing to stay in the area they were relocated to.
El went back to New Orleans in January to try to rebuild her life. She has a new job and a studio apartment in Metairie. Last night she was thinking of me and her first few weeks in my home, about her disorientation and despair, and the trials and tribulations we went through to wade through bureaucracy and red tape just to get her a drivers license and car. We shared some laughs and some tears. She is doing well now and happy to be back in the area that she lived in all her life but she wanted me to know that it is still a disaster there and it is worse than they show on TV.
So watch Spike Lee's documentary if you have HBO or get someone to tape it for you. We should never forget the lessons this disaster has shown to us. And we need to make this administration pay the price when we go to vote this fall.
Monday, August 21, 2006
"I waited, along with my friend The Countess, until every one else had had their turn talking to Scott and getting their photos and autographs. When the coast was clear, I stepped forward and introduced myself. I told him I wasn’t there for an autograph but to say thank you, and I told him my story, and thanked him for the show that had such an impact on my life. I was more emotional about it than I had thought I would be, and I stumbled a little over the words. But it didn’t seem to matter. To my amazement, his eyes got misty and he hugged me and told me how glad he was that I’d told him, that he thought it was wonderful and he congratulated me and seemed, to my delight, to be impressed by what I’d accomplished. And he said that he was going to pass what I’d said on to everyone else and that they were always thrilled when they heard stories about the show making a difference in people’s lives."
One woman's story......
“I only came out totally a few years ago. For a few years before that I was out to some people I trusted, and before that I was firmly in the closet. I hid for years in a straight marriage and a straight life and was painfully miserable. I drank a lot, did a lot of drugs, and spent a lot of time trying to forget how unhappy I was. I had a job that took me away from home and allowed me to pretend to be somebody else for protracted periods of time. In short, pain management 101. I was born in the 50’s and being gay while I was growing up was not only uncool it was pretty much the end of your life, sometimes literally. Gays got tossed out of their homes, had their children taken from them, were thrown out of their churches, were denied loans, jobs, legal help, medical care, and sometimes even service in restaurants. We were taunted, harassed, and made fun of, and more often than not, people turned a blind eye. In short, nobody stood up for us. So most people, when they found out they were gay, fought it, hid it, lied about it, denied it, and did everything they possibly could to make sure nobody found out. Brokeback Mountain was no fairy tale…that’s just how it was back then – and still is in a lot of places. That’s why Health Ledger’s character, Ennis Del Mar, resonated so with all of us. We knew how real his fear was because many of us had felt it first hand. The idea that we could be happy was unfathomable.
So, wind the clock ahead 30 years or so to the turn of the century. The concept of civil rights and women’s rights have been ensconced in the social psyche, and the idea of gay rights has come just far enough to make it possible for this amazing TV show to turn up on cable TV. OK, some of the writing is bad, some of the plots a little hard to swallow, but, dammit, those are GAY people! And they’re not clowns or freaks or criminals or psycho child molesters….they’re PEOPLE. And they’re cool. These are people you want to be friends with. They’re normal people with faults and good qualities, just like everyone else, and they just happen to be gay! They were people like ME that I could be proud of. And that, believe me, that changed EVERYTHING.
When I was in college I took an elective entitled “Contemporary American Art and Artists” because the two alternatives were even worse. As bad as the class was, one thing from it has stuck with me. It was in an essay written by a contemporary modern artist that I had never heard of, and I still can’t remember his name. His art stunk, in my opinion, but he said something that I’ll never forget. He said, commenting on the difference between art and pretentious shit, that “…one can recognize art because it inspires….it makes you see possibilities you’ve never seen before…..it makes you reach out for more.” When measured against that yardstick, for me, Queer as Folk is a masterpiece. When I watched it, I wanted the life they had. I wanted to be out and proud, and didn’t want to give a fuck what anybody thought. I wanted to live MY life with no apologies and no regrets. So, I went to my job of 7 years and announced that I was gay and if they didn’t like it they could kiss my ass. I came out to my friends, my colleagues, to most of my family who didn’t know already, and basically to anybody else who would stand still long enough to listen. I was a veritable frenzy of outness. Now, to their credit, nobody was shocked, or even particularly surprised, by my revelation. Nor have any of them treated me one iota differently than they ever had. But coming out wasn’t about them accepting me….it was about ME accepting me. Which, of course, is true for everyone, but you never know that until it’s over. Not only did I come all the way out; after watching Queer as Folk I decided to DO something about it. I knew what it had felt like to be in that closet all those years and I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure other people didn’t have to hide in there like I did. But what to do? Where to start? Well, I volunteered. It was as simple as that. The AIDS Quilt came to town and they needed volunteers to help with the Quilt while it was on display, to talk to people about the AIDS epidemic and the various panels, so I did. I met so many people and they were all so nice to me, and when I said I wanted to volunteer and help with other things, they made phone calls, introduced me to people and set me on my way. The next thing I volunteered for was the Pride planning committee and I met more wonderful people…and so the story goes. The end of the story goes like this….I started out scared, hiding, sure that if anyone found out I was gay that my life as I knew it would be over and ended up on the board of directors of our local Gay and Lesbian Council, the chair of our annual Pride planning committee and a frequent speaker on gay rights and champion of gay causes. But it all started with Queer as Folk – which inspired me, which showed me possibilities I’d never seen before, which made me reach out for more. I owe the show an immense debt of gratitude because, in all the ways that matter, it changed my life.”
Friday, August 18, 2006
Graffiti isn't just in the big city....
My favorite gay cowboy artiste, Knotty Boy, had a graffiti artist paint an enormous cock picture on the highway in front of his art gallery. Go to his blog and read about it.
This is a picture of one of Knotty Boy's creations which Mr. Brian purchased. While you are visiting KB's blog, take a stroll through his art gallery. It is unique and very beautiful, just like Knotty Boy himself.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A quiet and relaxing trip to Ogunquit...NOT!
We began at the Front Porch to catch Khris Francis' fabulous comedy show. Khris gets the audience involved and soon everyone knew that The Countess Bedelia was there with her entourage. DuBarry was laughing so hard, I thought for sure she would have a seizure. Mark and Brian, those very bad boys, have enough pictures of Bedelia to blackmail me for life! Somehow time flies when you are having fun and next thing we knew the second show started. Much alcohol was consumed and I think some food was thrown in there somewhere.
Next we proceeded to Main Street where we cheered our very own rock star in the making, B, as he belted out a number and brought the house down. This is also when we started to realize that our fame had followed us from The Front Porch. "Hi, Countess...saw you at The Front Porch" was the greeting of the night. The boys were amused and I was having so much fun with it all.
We ended the night at the dancing hot spot, Inside/Out and danced until the wee hours.
The next day we started out around noon (we all needed our beauty sleep!) and took the trolley around town and down to the beach. There was a brief discussion of looking into some of the antique shops when we suddenly found ourselves in front of The Front Porch. "Anyone feel like a drink?" asked Brian. We all turned as one and walked into the first floor bar.
DungeonMaster Tim was our bartender and his name alone will tell you that we were on another adventure! In addition to serving up a mean cocktail, The DungeonMaster educated us on the finer points of paddle spanking among other bits of information! And, of course, some of the other customers came over to say "Hi, Countess....saw you at The Front Porch last night."
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Dinner with the boys
After a tour of the Palace we headed to Salem and Capt's Restaurant which is right on the water. We scored a table on the second floor balcony and made a toast to our friendship, then a toast to Mark's safe arrival, then a toast to....well, you get the picture....then we were toasted! (I cropped out B because he is not a blogger and I didn't know if he would want his picture posted but since I am sure he is going to be a big rock star very soon, he probably should get used to it!)
Being in the company of these handsome men reminded me of when I was young and beautiful. This was way before digital cameras and the internet made recording every moment so easy. So I scanned some old photos and here I am. I was 40 years old in this picture.
Having the boys here was a real treat. We had so many laughs and we all enjoyed meeting Rick. Mark has left for a weekend in Newport with Mrs. Astor's sister, The Countess duBarry. While he is gone I am entertaining myself by listening to B's demo CD. The boy has talent!
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Royalty checks into The Countess' Palace Hotel
The Countess' Palace Hotel has been booked by Mark, one of the original members of Mrs. Astor's 7th Calvary and a member of The Tinkerbelle Brigade. The Red Carpet has been rolled out in anticipation of the arrival of such an auspicious guest. The Grand Hall has been decked out, the maids are sweeping and dusting as we post, the refrigerator has been stocked with Ben & Jerry's Black & Tan, and the staff is on notice to give their very best service.
A grand soiree is planned for his arrival. Noted guests will include Mr. Brian and Rick, of Bandit Talks. The local press has been notified and the Witches of Salem are waiting to welcome him. The Countess, herself, has commissioned a designer frock to wear to the Grand Ball welcoming Mark to the North Shore of Boston.
Stay tuned for updated reports.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Congratulations are in order!
According to OUT.com, Kyan Douglas and his partner, Greg Durham, are getting married.
I hope the society pages report all the details. Who do you think will be on the guest list besides Carson, Thom, Ted, and Jai?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Summer fun in New England
Canobie Lake Park, in Salem NH, is a fun place to take teenagers. And also a good place to tire them out! Thankfully, this grandmother did not have to go with them today and that is why I have time to catch up with my blog buddies.
One night we watched the DVD of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and the next day we went to the theater to see PotC, Dead Man's Chest. The second movie has a lot of continuity from the first one, great special effects, and Johnny Depp is as wonderful as ever. A fun movie for all ages.
The next few days include the Boston Duck Tour and a visit to the Museum of Science, a whale watch boat trip, and a day at the beach.