Pretty well sums it up. Lovely singing by Andy Williams.
Pretty well sums it up. Lovely singing by Andy Williams.
My column this week looks at a recent flare-up in the culture wars. Here's the opening:
Sierra Mannie, a University of Mississippi senior, wrote a commentary picked up by Time last week titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture." Here's a portion:
"I need some of you to cut it the hell out. ... I don't care ... how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you've been bottoming -- you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood."
Someone was looking for a throwdown. She talked about Beyoncé, white privilege and the legacies of racism and sexism. She made some valid points. She also said that black women "cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality."
Let's pause there. David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community, posted a response on Tumblr. He did not imitate a black woman saying, "Oh no you dih-int." He was conciliatory and thoughtful:
Follow the link above to read the whole thing at Metro Weekly.
NYT reports that legendary Broadway actress and comedian Elaine Stritch has died at age 89. May she rest in peace.
The video above shows her onstage in 2002. Below, she appears with David Letterman in 1996.
Granted, I haven't paid much attention to the comics in a very long time, but they've certainly goosed up Archie from the piffle I remember. Rolling Stone reports:
Archie Andrews fans already know that their beloved, red-haired comic book icon is going to die while trying to save a friend's life. Now Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater has offered more specifics about the character's sacrifice: Archie will perish after intervening in an assassination attempt on the series' first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, The Associated Press reports.
Really, Mr. Goldwater? Assassinations? I think I'll send this to the reader who ranted at me from Rehoboth for interrupting his beach reading with my views on current affairs.
Sierra Mannie is a senior at the University of Mississippi, in whose student newspaper she wrote a strong article that has been picked up by Time. It is titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture," and here's how it opens:
I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.
She then explains. She makes legitimate points. But then I read a response on Tumblr by my friend David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. Here are a few excerpts from his thoughtful and eloquent piece:
The second thing I need you to know is that I can’t change who I am. I know you may suggest, as you did in your article, that gay men can simply ‘hide’ who they are. Perhaps I should lower the pitch of my voice artificially? Butch it up? Let me assure you, I tried that for the first twenty years of my life, and it came very close to killing me. I can’t hide who I am, nor should I....
Fourth up, and I really need you to hear this one, many of the expressions, sayings, mannerisms, and culture that you claim white men have appropriated from black women.... well a lot of it never really belonged to to straight women to begin with. It originated from LGBT culture, and predominately the Black and Latino Gay scene. Do a little research and look into Ball Culture. Watch Paris is Burning or Tongues Untied. Learn where all those expressions come from.
I encourage you to read both pieces. In a diverse society, respect and understanding must be reciprocal.
UCBComedy explains: "Ron Spiner is the only candidate brave enough to fight for your right to marry whoever you want, as long as they're a dog and not the same sex as you." Apparently they're parodying Dr. Keith Ablow, who is seen below on Fox News discussing his concerns about polygamous bestiality.
For students of depravity, I note that these guys don't go nearly as far as Madonna did in her sex book twenty years ago. But what's with the guy and the peanut butter? How insensitive toward people with peanut allergies.
The British sitcom starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a long-time gay couple is coming to PBS, NYT reports. Good for them, but from the YouTube clips I've seen, Jacobi's over-the-top stereotypical queen is too much. Such a pair of world-class actors deserves better material. I have seen both of them in theaters give extraordinary, nuanced performances. Don't expect that here.
From WorldPride, now going on in Toronto.
Alec, babe, you should watch this. Thank you, Jonah.
Congrats to LeVar Burton on his huge crowdsourcing success with his Reading Rainbow reboot. He exceeded his $1 million goal within 24 hours, and has now set a new goal of $5 million to expand the program into more classrooms. A great many of us fell in love with him (and those eyes) 37 years ago with his legendarily soulful and shattering performance as Kunta Kinte. How the hell can we be that much older? Anyway, the cause of literacy just got a much-needed boost. Good on him and all the people who joined the cause. You can kick in here.
New York Daily News reports on a documentary that actor Robert De Niro has made about his gay father, who was an artist and died 20 years ago from cancer:
The award-winning actor took a seat behind the scenes to produce a documentary about his late father, who was openly gay, called "Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr."
"I felt I had to. I felt obligated. It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him," he said in an interview with Out magazine about the film, which includes archival footage from the '70s, and was edited by Thelma Schoonmaker, a longtime editor for Martin Scorsese.
A great spirit has left us. And yet, of course, she hasn't. Keep rising, Maya Angelou.
Our friend Ernest Hopkins writes on Facebook:
Hard, very sad day. It is impossible to measure of the depth and import of her contributions to our culture. Her impact is broad and rolling like the sea. The Gods are smiling with her return. Rest in Peace Sister Angelou. Job well done.
A tribute for Memorial Day.
(Hat tip: David Sisson)
A belated happy 75th birthday to the magnificent Sir Ian McKellen, born on May 25, 1939. In this clip, matched with Peter Jackson's flawless composition and special effects, he falls through fire into the abyss battling the Federal Marriage Amendment in the form of a balrog: "You shall not pass!" And indeed it did not. All hail our brother Sirina, whose career certainly was not harmed by coming out.
Six young Iranians have been arrested after they uploaded a video of themselves dancing throughout Tehran to Pharrell’s “Happy.”
“Happy in Tehran” was uploaded to YouTube last month and garnered more than 165,000 views before being made private. It shows three men and three women — all unveiled — looking, well, happy as they dance and lip-synch to Pharrell’s hit.
But authorities in Tehran are calling the video “vulgar,” and all six were arrested and forced to formally apologize on state television. (Under Islamic law, women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, a rule monitored by “morality police.”)
Do not take your freedom for granted.
NYT talks to Larry Kramer on the occasion of the TV version of his landmark play The Normal Heart. Congrats to him.
However. "We have no power in Washington, or anywhere else," says Kramer, who doesn't do nuance. In the week of Frank Kameny's 89th birthday, I say what he once said to Kramer in Lambda Rising bookstore: Larry, you are wrong.
That we haven't won everything doesn't mean we won nothing. Kramer has done much to admire; but his boorishness and disrespect are gratuitous and increasingly ridiculous.
(Photo of Larry Kramer by David Shankbone)
On what would have been Harvey Milk's 84th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service and the Harvey Milk Foundation hosted a ceremony at the White House unveiling the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp.
Zach Ford at Think Progress gives us 5 Amazing Harvey Milk Quotes That Are Too Long To Fit On His New Stamp.
Meanwhile, there's a Harvey Milk musical.
As The Independent reports, "The Russian Orthodox Church’s condemnation of Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision victory is being ridiculed on social media."
God is great, and She has a sense of humor.
(Hat tip: Joel Lawson)
From Australia. The astrophotos begin at 2:21. Photographer: Mike Salvay. Soundtrack: Vangelis - Across the Mountains (2004). Project, concept and design, light effects and editing by Sandro Sansone. Source: www.mikesalway.com.au.
(Hat tip: Dickie Popp)
Austrian drag performer Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen on Saturday with "Rise Like a Phoenix." As others have observed, right wing heads must have been exploding yesterday.
Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:
HGTV announced today that the recently unveiled reality TV show, Flip it Forward, about realtor David Benham, a virulent anti-gay activist, will not move forward after all.
In this closely watched news from the National Zoo, the lion cubs all passed their swim test. Below is a video from two weeks ago showing the cubs' first time spent in the same enclosure with their father.
HBO's new show, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," had a great debut last week. I'd have embedded the video, but they don't allow it. Click on the link and check it out. My favorite line was when he expressed sympathy for His Former Holiness Benedict XVI on the occasion of the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II as saints: "It cannot be easy to be the fourth most popular pope in a room -- especially when two of the other popes are dead."
I thought the President was pretty funny at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Joel McHale, OTOH, whom I confess I never heard of before, was mainly mean. Oh, Chris Christie is fat! Ha ha! But the really important thing is that the Washington Blade was there. Who wants to ogle Richard Sherman when you can set your eyes on these handsome gents?
Stephen Colbert's right-wing persona has a problem licking the back of Harvey Milk's stamp, even if it's self-adhesive.
On a more serious note, others have noted unhappily the lack of similar recognition to our late colleague, gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, whose contribution was far more extensive than the martyred Milk. I agree, but I am rather worn out on the fighting-over-a-grave front.
If you are a slave to fashion, forever worrying about what "they" will think of your choices in clothing and personal grooming, I suppose you may be interested in this article in Salon. It states:
Attention all persons sporting a full visage of facial hair: If you’re trying to attract a mate, you might want to rethink your beard. That is one takeaway from a new study published this week in Biology Letters.
“We may well be at peak beard,” researcher Robert Brooks told the Guardian Australia. Brooks is part of a facial hair research team at the University of New South Wales; previously the team found that beards signaled virility. This year they discovered a different behavioral effect related to facial hair: If everyone is bearded, women prefer a clean shaven man. The same principle also works in reverse.
They don't need to change a hair for me. Affleck in particular looks stunning in his beard. I don't care a fart about someone's notion of fashion.
[I]n early 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution declined music impresario Sol Hurok's request to book Marian Anderson into its Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Her race was evidently the reason. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt then resigned from the DAR, an act that increased public awareness of the controversy. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes arranged for a concert on the Lincoln Memorial steps. On April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more.
Mrs. Roosevelt's immortal resignation letter to the president general of the DAR began, "I am afraid that I have never been a very useful member of the Daughters of the American Revolution...." It was politely devastating. Any course in rhetoric should include it.
America's Best Christian, Betty Bowers, gets biblical with her bedtime stories for children. If you think this scriptural stuff is harsh, you should check out the original fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. Or perhaps Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Verses for Children.
Actor Mickey Rooney has died at age 93. A tribute is in order. This may be heresy, but there's something about those old Mickey & Judy "let's do a show" movies that makes me gag; so I chose the trailer for 1938's Boys Town, in which Mickey starred with Spencer Tracy.
Below is "Yakko's Universe" from the 1990s TV show Animaniacs, which was deliberately annoying but had its moments. This song includes a reference to Rooney. Hat tip to Sean Bugg.
[Above, the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda tells the story of how hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, hid and protected 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. Rusesabagina's story was told by Philip Gourevitch in his book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.]
20 years ago the horror was already planned, and needed only surface-to-air missiles to set it off. Wiki reports: "On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying [Rwandan President Juvénal] Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into Kigali, killing all on board. Genocidal killings began the following day: soldiers, police and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi. These forces recruited or pressured Hutu civilians to arm themselves with machetes, clubs, blunt objects and other weapons to rape, maim and kill their Tutsi neighbors and destroy or steal their property."
The commemoration to be held in Kigali tomorrow, April 7, will not include a representative of France. Al Jazeera reports:
WAMU reports the demoralizing details.
The Shondes’ singer and bassist, Louisa Solomon, said, "The occupation is illegal, brutal, and unjust, and it is hard to imagine anyone with both a heart and a mind concluding anything else." Well, we can't have that kind of talk at DCJCC.
As a longtime defender of Israel, I increasingly find myself asking: If willful moral blindness is necessary for that defense, does it not undermine itself? As J Street understands, the West Bank Occupation is itself an existential threat to Israel. A two-state solution is the only sane path forward. Given demographic trends, if Israel stays on its current path, it will either stop being a Jewish state or it will stop being a democracy. It is unfathomable how the denial exemplified by DCJCC on this situation can possibly help Israel or the Jewish people.
I wrote to the leaders of DCJCC on this subject a year or two ago in response to an email I received from them. I got no response. If you have to hunker down and shut out contrary views, including from friends like me, you are not headed down a sustainable or happy path. This makes me inexpressibly sad.
Joe Jervis writes:
Beautiful, the Broadway musical that tells Carole King's life story through her songs, has been running for months to record crowds and rave reviews. King had famously declined to see the show, telling Playbill in December after walking out of a reading, "I can't watch my life played out before me." She changed her mind on Thursday, choosing to attend the show during the week that Broadway casts issue curtain call pleas for donations to Equity Fights AIDS.
Lovely. Especially nice for those of us who were in our teens during her peak years.
Jonathan Capehart pays tribute to house music legend Frankie Knuckles, who died on Monday at age 59:
The National Public Radio obituary noted that “By the mid-1990s, house music was so mainstream that a song by Frankie Knuckles was played in a commercial for Lipton Iced Tea.” The New York Times remembrance highlighted the Grammy he won in 1998 for nonclassical remixer of the year. And the Chicago Tribune obit pointed out that Knuckles would build “dynamic ebb-and-flow sets that would keep his dancefloor filled from midnight to noon on weekends.”
A controversy has arisen over Stephen Colbert's use of an offensive Asian stereotype to mock Dan Snyder's "charm offensive" over the racist name of the Washington football team. (The embed wasn't working, so click on the above link if you want to see the clip.) The question is, does Colbert's satirical purpose make it any more ok for him to do an Asian caricature than, say, a Stepin Fetchit impression? I agree with @suey_park that the answer is no. But she was barraged on Twitter by over-the-top threats and insults.
Really, people? The speed with which some resort to the most extreme language in online forums is scary, and does raise questions about the willful obtuseness of privilege by some and pandering to it by others. Okay, so you're being meta. The racist stuff is still offensive. Please knock it off.
She's mad because her husband used to do "Straight Porn for Gay Eyes." Sounds like a niche market to me.
Right Wing Watch shares the latest in wingnuttery.
I have no particular reason to post this interview with Lupita Nyong'o and Conan O'Brien. She is just so stunning and poised. Their discussion of the advantages of wearing a cape does remind me of a revue at the National Theatre in the mid-1980s (it was an MLK Birthday celebration) in which a bunch of us from the Gay Men's Chorus were in the balcony watching an Elizabethan dance troupe which, let's just say, was way more gay than we were. One of the dancers wore a cape, and his absurdly elaborate and stylized moves caused a very bad boy among us (whom we nicknamed Crystal) to call out, "Work the cape, honey." I remember my friend David Sisson dissolving into tears of laughter.
(Hat tip: Rod 2.0)
Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday mentioned the D.C. Council's action to decriminalize mj possession. (He also mentioned the bill last fall.) Oh, what we have to do to get attention!
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following statement:
In a country where many states are permitting medical marijuana, or have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, I do not expect Members of Congress to interfere with D.C.’s local right to pass its own law on marijuana decriminalization. If Members try to interfere, however, I will stoutly defend D.C.’s right to pass such legislation, just as 17 states have already done.
I encourage you to take the time to watch these remarks by Lupita Nyong'o on the gatekeepers of beauty and learning to love oneself and the beauty inside that has no shade. This was prior to her winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. What a class act this young actress is, and how well she is using the limelight. Brava.