Ousted as Gay, Aging Veterans Are Battling Again for Honorable Discharges

This is an important article in the Times. I’m not altogether sure that we’re teaching our young people just how oppressive it was for gay people even just a few short years ago. You think the Kentucky clerk of court psychodrama is crazy, you should have been around 40 years ago. Or five, for that matter.

I am a person of a ‘certain vintage,’ but even I can’t comprehend the savagery that was the status quo in the U.S. in the, say, 30-year period between the end of World War II and when I began to come of age and wonder about sexuality.

The military committed, perhaps, more of these atrocities against humanity than did just about anyone else. We owe generations and generations of veterans an enormous apology.

Ousted as Gay, Aging Veterans Are Battling Again for Honorable Discharges – The New York Times

EastSiders Season 2 is on the Way

Look at this. How can you possibly resist clicking to see what is happening here? You cant.

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Van Hansis and Kit Williamson are back for a second season of the smash hit web series EastSiders. Available Sept. 15 on Vimeo.

Yes friends, Thom and Cal and Ian and Cathy and a veritable pantheon of guest stars are back in the second season of Kit Williamson’s brilliantly sublime web series. The season will be released on Vimeo on September 15. That’s a Tuesday, in case you’re wondering. Or in case, like me, you need to go ahead and schedule that *cough*cough* sick day in advance for your EastSiders binge.

It’s a remarkable trailer. I would say “shockingly good,” but really, nothing that Kit puts together shocks me any longer. I’m just excited to find out what he’s going to wow me with next.

For those not yet in the loop (whaaaat??) or in case you need a refresher, find links Season 1 HERE or on Hulu.

Hasta Luego, Mr. Smith

(Aug. 18, 2015) — With today’s program, Freddie Smith aired his last contract scenes after a four-year run as Sonny Kiriakis on the venerable daytime drama Days of our Lives. Smith, 27, was this year’s recipient of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor for his work in the role.

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Christopher Sean (Paul), Freddie Smith (Sonny) and Guy Wilson (Will) attend the GLAAD Media Awards earlier this year. The three were part of a particularly soapy love triangle that drove much of Smith’s last months on the show.

Sonny, one half of the WilSon supercouple, was a good guy; a rarity in the world of soap. As an out, well-adjusted young man, he helped Will Horton (Chandler Massey, then Guy Wilson) come out, fell in love with him and, in a daytime first, married him in a nearly-weeklong event in April 2014 that harkened back to the “good old days” of soap extravaganzas when audiences were large and budgets were larger.

And the plotting that led up to the wedding was some of the best I’d ever seen on American soaps, but I haven’t thought it was that great since. Oh, there’s been plenty of drama, but a lot of it has been kind of absurd and typical of American serial writers. Still, in spite of the ham-fisted plotting of Sonny’s exit, Smith has never disappointed, always playing true to the character.

Rumor has it that Smith will return to Salem briefly for the show’s 50th anniversary event in November.

Freddie Smith left an indelible mark on the canvas of Days of our Lives, but serials keep going; that’s just what they do by their very nature. Like, you know, sands through the hourglass….

Thanks, Freddie for the hours of entertainment. You’ll be well and truly missed.


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Some Other DAYS/WilSon-Related Posts
I, Do: The WilSon Wedding, Playing the Long Game, and Celebrating the Zeitgeist
More Sands Through the Gay Hourglass — Revisiting and Revising
Like Sands Through the Gay Hourglass — Ticked-Off at American Dramas. Again.
WilSon, Love & Thanks – Thoughts for Valentine’s Day
‘Sonny’ Skies or Clouds on the Horizon? The New Normal Comes to Salem
Christopher Sean and Seeing More Asian Men On Television

Homo TV: How Far Have We Come Since Jack Tripper?

Here’s an interesting look at gays on TV from Matt Baume. Like Baume, the depiction of gays in the media is something that I’m extremely interested in. As someone who grew up in the 70s and came of age in the 80s and who had absolutely no role models on television, I sometimes marvel at the broad spectrum of LGBT inclusion on the airwaves today. I mean, it’s still minute — six percent of all characters on TV were LBGT, was the last number I saw — but at least it’s there.

I’ve written about this issue several times on this blog. Like HERE and HERE. Click on “television” in the tag cloud at left and you can scroll through a lot that touches on this topic. “Web series” as well.

The importance of talking about this issue is not to talk about the “bad old days” but to show that while we have made enormous strides — like adorable young teen boyfriends on The Fosters — we have a long, long way to go — like any Republican presidential candidate debate.

Grand Eloquent Thoughts

Steve Grand

The Instagram shared ’round the world. If I looked this good in a swimsuit, I’d never wear clothes again. You might think that’s pithy; but it’s the truth, baby!! P.S. to Steve — Keep the scruff; it’s adorable! |Image: Steve Grand

Musician Steve Grand took to Facebook recently to air some dirty laundry. Grand writes:

It would be nice if any other aspect of my life/work as an artist/advocate got a fraction of the press I get for wearing a bathing suit by gay media.

Evidently, it was the photo that appears at left that was the cause of the flap. Grand posted it to his Instagram and some naysayers found it inappropriate. Or too revealing. Or too gay. Or something. Just too too.

Here’s what I have to say about that: Get the hell over yourselves. Why — WHY — must people continue to cut down others to feel better? Why do you care how much or how little of Steve Grand Steve Grand’s bathing suit covers? Are you that insecure? Are you afraid that you don’t look as good, so because you can, you will cut him down? Is it okay to do that somehow because he’s in the public eye so you think he’s fair game? Do you think it’s not good for “the cause” to have handsome men in personal photos wearing tiny little red swim trunks?

We have enough going against us as out gay men; we don’t need our own jabbing at us, too. It’s just as wrong to call out Steve Grand on his choice of clothing as it is to call out Caitlyn Jenner or Ellen DeGeneres or Neil Patrick Harris. It’s wrong to tell the trans kid they can’t use the bathroom for the gender of which they define themselves. It’s wrong to kick puppies, cheat on your taxes, lie to your spouse, be a racist, text while driving, or, quite frankly, fear that what someone else is wearing somehow reflects on or diminishes you. Because it doesn’t. So just stop it.

I encourage you read the rest of Grand’s Facebook post. He’s a smart, caring young man with a hefty intellect and a spirit not yet hardened to the vicissitudes of dumbassery. I hope that he doesn’t have to develop that thick, thick skin that is often needed in order to survive. He’s a better person for not having it.

And by the way — you really should buy his album, All-American Boy, if you haven’t already. It’s terrific.

Tom Daley – Taking the Plunge

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Tom Daley, stylishly relaxing poolside. |Image: Ben Quinton for the Guardian.

Excellent article in The Guardian yesterday, profiling British diver Tom Daley. I encourage you to read it.

Daley details where he is in his life, his career, his relationship with Dustin Lance Black. He’s cheeky and smart and humble. Generally, he comes off much more well-rounded than you would imagine for someone who is only 21 years old and who has been competing on the world stage since he was 14.

Good on ya, Tom. Not just another pretty face. (But is IS a damn pretty face!)

#LoveWins – Reflections on Equality & How Far We Still Have to Go

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This.

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about what I wanted to write about after the momentous events of June 26, and as all these thoughts bounced around in the metaphorical tumble dryer of my just-waking mind, I found myself coming back to that old Pete Seeger tune, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (The better known version is by The Byrds, but this one with Pete and Judy Collins is magical. Skip ahead to about a minute in.)

I was struck how much of the nonsense already being spouted by the Internet blowhards could be taken down by the song’s first line: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Seeger, of course, did not write that line. That’s the Book of Ecclesiastes. The whole song, in fact, is taken verbatim from the Bible and what I love about it is that it’s essentially about change being the only constant in the human condition. There is a purpose to everything.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

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We’ve accomplished equal marriage and that’s something to be celebrated, but we haven’t yet accomplished true equality. That part of the struggle begins today.

Less esoterically, it’s refreshing to see that the words carved above the doors to the Supreme Court, the central tenet of our nation — Equal Justice Under Law — has not, in fact, been lost or corrupted. We are all equal. We all, no matter what part of America you live in, woke up this morning in a more perfect Union.

THE HATE-MONGERS COMETH
You will hear today, tomorrow, next week, two weeks from Thursday, a year-and-a-half from now, and in 2025, how the “activist court” forced this decision on Americans and how it is such a violation of someone’s religious liberties. Well, friends and cousins, here’s the real truth: They are just flat wrong.

To tell me that my relationship is less than theirs is wrong. To tell me who I can and cannot love is wrong, To tell me I am not entitled to the same rights and responsibilities that are afforded to other citizens is wrong. To tell me that my ability to pledge myself to and join my life with someone of the same gender in some way violates their religious freedom is not only wrong, it’s just stupid.

And here’s why: no one says you have to like marriage equality. No one says you have to get married to someone of the same gender or witness a marriage of two people of the same gender or attend a church where they marry people of the same gender. If you don’t like it, don’t be involved. But …. don’t you dare tell me that I can’t have the exact same things that you can have. Don’t you dare tell me that I cannot have the same protections, the same tax status, the same medical and legal rights. Don’t you dare tell me that I am somehow less than. Don’t you dare tell me that my love does not matter in the same ways that yours does. And don’t you dare tell me that religion makes your prejudice acceptable. Not in 2015. Not in the United States of America.

But they will dare, campers. They will.

June 26 was not the culmination of the fight; June 26 was the beginning of the next phase. Those of you in states where there are no legal protections for same-sex couples may find yourselves blissfully married on Sunday only to find yourself summarily fired on Monday. Discrimination will come but it will be less overt. There will be a lot more of those “religious freedom acts” pushed through legislatures and more pulpit-pounding from the Right, reminding us (wrongly) that we are undermining the Christian values that America was founded on. [Note: there weren’t any.] And a mountain of blather about how laws are supposed to be made in the legislatures and not in the courts.

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The Supreme Court building in Washington. Emblazoned on the façade are the words EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.

THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY
This, in particular, galls me because it just proves how ignorant so many people are about our system. (Including, given his bizarre and completely unhinged opinion in Obergefell, Mr. Justice Scalia.) I am fairly confident that I am among the last generation who learned civics in school. If you don’t want to read up on Article III of the Constitution or learn a bit more about the importance of Marbury v. Madison in establishing judicial review and what that means, perhaps a cartoon describing checks and balances is in order. (This happens to get my vote for the worst Schoolhouse Rock song of the 70s!) You’re going to hear a lot about judicial overreach in the coming days; gird your loins.

Another thing that struck me today was one of my favorite lines from Dan Savage about America, the so-called land of the free and the home of the brave, always being last with the freedom and the bravery. It’s pithy; that’s why it gets quoted. It’s also pretty much on the mark. A great thing happened in the United States yesterday, but we did not lead the world. We are the 25th nation to allow equal marriage.

THE LIST
While there are those — on some days I am among them — who will revel in the quickness that we have arrived at marriage equality, we have been attempting to cast off the shackles of our terrible history of inequality since before the dawn of the republic. This particular issue has come to the fore quickly, but it’s been a Sisyphean struggle over centuries to mete out rights to all of our citizens. I can draw a direct line through the centuries to show how all of our civil rights struggles have been the same struggle. The list of people involved looks something like this:

John Locke
Samuel Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Dred Scott
Homer Plessy
Margaret Sanger
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Oliver Brown
Rosa Parks
A. Philip Randolph
Medgar Evers
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bayard Rustin
Frank Kameny
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
Mildred & Richard Loving
the Stonewall Rioters
Richard Baker & Michael McConnell
Harvey Milk
Harry Blackmun
Barack Obama
Edith Windsor & Thea Spyer
Jim Obergefell & John Arthur
Anthony Kennedy

This is an imperfect list, but it shows, I think, how fundamentally important it is to stand up and have your voice heard and counted. I am also struck by how few women are on this list; that’s bothersome. We need to do better. And we will.

It does, after all, get better, but dear God, what a hard slog it is sometimes to get to that better place. We’ve been trying since John Winthrop said to the Massachusetts Bay colonists in 1630, “We must always consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us.”

Thinking about Pete Seeger, made me also think of the penultimate verse of the song that became and remains the anthem of the Civil Rights movement, “We Shall Overcome:”

The truth shall make us free, the truth shall make us free,
The truth shall make us free someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
The truth shall make us free someday.

Truth, justice and the American way, the hackneyed old saw goes. Maybe it’s not just a catchphrase for superheroes anymore. Maybe that’s why, out of all of the intensely beautiful images I saw and speeches and cheering I heard Friday, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington singing the National Anthem on the steps of the Supreme Court is the one that made me weep. It made me proud to be an American in a way that has been strangely foreign to me. Until now.

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The concluding paragraph of Mr. Justice Kennedy’s opinion. This needs to go on a wall somewhere.

Gayby: The Little Movie That Could

gayby-posterI saw a piece on Decider.com this week about Gayby, Jonathan Liseki’s 2012 indie comedy about best friends who decide to have a baby. I bookmarked this piece, Was It Good For the Gays: Gayby, by Tyler Coates because I was assuming that he would have something negative to say and then I would have to refute him.

To my great surprise, we are completely simpatico: he loved it and so did I. And I said so, way back in 2013. Now, I think I may go and watch it again.

More Pride, Please

Last year, around this time, there were a number of conversations around the topic of “Is Pride still necessary?” After all, we were a year past Windsor, marriage equality was winning in the courts as well as in the court of public opinion. We were done, right? To that, Barbara Weicksel wrote on LGBTQ Nation:

“This world we live in is not always easy. It’s not always filled with love and hope and peace. More often than not, it’s filled with hate and war and people who love to judge.

“We are judged by what we wear, where we live, what we drive, the color of our skin, the tone of our voice, the car we drive, and, yes… who we love.”

This piece prompted me to post the paragraphs below:

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Image| Wikimedia Commons: Benson Kua

But today, in a world where marriage equality is surely happening in places that we never thought it might even a year ago, in a world where the web is chock-a-block with gay-themed content even while mainstream television is not, in a world where tolerance, if not outright acceptance, is at a high, certainly in my lifetime, is there really a reason for a pride parade?

Absolutely, unequivocally, YES.

When I went to my first pride parade, I was only ever-so-slightly out. I wasn’t ready to accept myself completely and I certainly didn’t believe that anyone else would. And I was scared to death.

My first pride event was the 1993 March on Washington, D.C. It was so big they made a documentary film about it. There were more people on the Mall that April day than I ever saw at Presidential inaugurals or the insanity that is the 4th of July in the capital. I was in awe of that crowd.

And I learned that I absolutely was not alone; that there were, at the very least, a million other people just like me who descended on Washington that day; that I would be all right and that, in today’s parlance, it would get better.

In spite of the Internet and web series and Sunday morning talk shows and Oprah and self-help d’jour, there is, I guarantee it, somebody in Connersville, Indiana or Orangeburg, South Carolina or Bend, Oregon or New York City who is scared and desperate and does not yet understand that it is okay to be themselves. The bloody, bold, resolute, wild and garish pride parade is a hell of a lot more than cute boys dancing on a parade float; it’s a message that everyone can and will be accepted. Keep it going!

June 2015
Flash forward a year and we are on the cusp of what could be the greatest civil rights court decision of our generation if the Supreme Court upholds the circuit court mandates that states must recognize all civil marriages in the Obergefell case. We’re on the edge of what feels like a new generation. A new hopefulness. A new renaissance of thought, if you will.

And yet, when the cover of the new Vanity Fair magazine came out this week featuring Caitlyn Jenner, I read some of the nasty, horrible, spiteful comments that are so pervasive on social media and I realized that this hopeful renaissance is just in certain bubbles. We have so much farther to go to reach acceptance. And mere acceptance is basically just the toleration of differences. We must not settle for mere acceptance.

How much does it hurt you to call someone by the name they want? To use the pronoun they want? To not worry about who used which bathroom? Did you hurl vitriol at Bruce when he was winning that gold medal? Did you watch him on TV when he was married to a Kardashian? If Bruce Jenner, as was, wants to transition, if she now prefers the feminine gender pronoun, if she wants to pee sitting down in the ladies room, what the hell business is it of yours?

Somehow there are religions being created out there evidently that require you to submit to specific gender roles defined on television shows like Ozzie & Harriet in the 1950s. It’s just nuts. I tend to think that, like in most other things, Mr. Rogers said it best:

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” 

Remember that, please, whoever you are reading this.

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Codified discrimination disguised as “religious freedom” is the watchword of the day. Beware. |Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty via Slate.

And then, if that weren’t enough, in the wackadoo state where I was born, the legislature is trying to override the governor’s veto to codify into law that it is okay for a magistrate not to do their job if they think something may violate their religious beliefs — like marrying two men. It’s just so stupid it’s laughable, but they’ve already passed the override in the senate, the house is not far behind, I fear. I just weep for the people who live in these horrible, oppressive states.

Of course, it’s not just gay people. You can use one of these crazy laws to not marry people of different genders or religions or hair textures or because you think someone once met a Muslim and didn’t stone them to death. It’s macabre. It’s medieval. There’s a great op-ed about this in the Charlotte Observer. Well, great is not the word I’d use, really; achingly sad and annoyingly outrageous, more like.

Somehow, these moronic legislators keep getting elected. Well, dearly beloveds, tell everyone you know: don’t fucking vote for them any longer.

OH, AND THEN  — because today can’t be any more surreal — the jackhole governor of Indiana, has written a letter allegedly supporting Indy Pride that never once uses any of the following words: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, inclusion or support. Fuck off, Indiana. Another place to scratch off the vacation list.

So, do we still need Pride? You’re damn right we do.

Come out, come out, wherever you are. And please, share this with a friend.