In fine and moving contrast to the recent spate of hate crimes, a man uses a flash mob to propose to his lover at the Bethesda Fountain. Yes, the same fountain that inspired Angels In America playwright Tony Kushner.
If I were proposing to my partner in such a big, dramatic, public way (which I cannot imagine wanting to do), I think that after the music, my partner's name followed by four classic words would suffice: "Will you marry me?" This guy has a whole speech. But it's lovely to see such a public affirmation, and it demonstrates something the haters refuse to understand: it's not all about sex.
The above topic has arisen from time to time in the black community since Barack Obama became President. Tonight at 7:30pm ET on Sirius/XM Left (Channel 127), Mark Thompson talks with Morehouse alumnus Rev. Kevin Johnson on the subject. Johnson wrote on April 14. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote on May 20. Jonathan Capehart wrote today.
I can't help thinking that a real Morehouse man wouldn't complain.
Now it appears that the hopes of binational gay families like mine are pinned on DOMA being overturned in United States v. Windsor. That does not, however, make me happy with Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, or Barack Obama. (Michael Bedwell, please note.)
President Obama's commencement speech over the weekend at Morehouse College, the all-male liberal arts school and one of the nation's most renowned Historically Black Colleges and Universities, included these remarks:
Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner. Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important. [...]
As Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; know what it’s like to be marginalized; know what it’s like to feel the sting of discrimination. And that’s an experience that a lot of Americans share. Hispanic Americans know that feeling when somebody asks them where they come from or tell them to go back. Gay and lesbian Americans feel it when a stranger passes judgment on their parenting skills or the love that they share. Muslim Americans feel it when they’re stared at with suspicion because of their faith. Any woman who knows the injustice of earning less pay for doing the same work — she knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.
So your experiences give you special insight that today’s leaders need. If you tap into that experience, it should endow you with empathy — the understanding of what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, to know what it’s like when you’re not born on 3rd base, thinking you hit a triple. It should give you the ability to connect. It should give you a sense of compassion and what it means to overcome barriers.
On May 17, Kenyan LGBT activists marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHO) by marching for their rights. Before I head off to set up GLAA's table at DC Trans Pride, I wanted to share this inspiring video. Bravo to these brave people. The persecution of LGBT people in Kenya and other countries is a reminder that it was not homosexuality but homophobia that was spread by colonialism. And as long as American missionaries of hate use foreign aid to spread their malign influence abroad, those of us who are rightfully ashamed of such exploitation must not forget our brothers and sisters in the Global South.
Half a lifetime ago, I was on a flight back to DC from the GALA Choruses festival in Minneapolis when I read Justice Harry Blackmun's stirring dissent in Bowers v Hardwick. 17 years later, Bowers was overturned and we were no longer habitual criminals. Ten years further on, Minnesota becomes the 12th marriage equality state. How incredibly fast. Yet so many did not live to see it. The more victories we rack up, the more I think of vanished friends. Tonight I will raise a glass to them.
Our friend Joe Cantor especially raises a glass to our late friend Steve Endean, the founder of the Human Rights Campaign who's been gone twenty years now, whose home state did him proud today.
This has to be one of the best breaking news interviews ever.
PS: No, Mister Ramsey doesn't look a thing like D.C.'s former police chief of the same name. But he is one upstanding citizen. As he was eating McDonald's takeout when the rescue incident started, he got the following tweet from the fast food giant:
This week's coming out by NBA player Jason Collins is momentous, but the Jackie Robinson of gay rights was Glenn Burke, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A's from 1976 to 1979. He tried to change sports culture three decades ago—but back then, unlike now, sports culture wasn't ready for a change.
Burke made no secret of his sexual orientation to the Dodgers front office, his teammates, or friends in either league. He also talked freely with sportswriters, though all of them ended up shaking their heads and telling him they couldn't write that in their papers. Burke was so open about his sexuality that the Dodgers tried to talk him into participating in a sham marriage. (He wrote in his autobiography that the team offered him $75,000 to go along with the ruse.) He refused. In a bit of irony that would seem farcical if it wasn't so tragic, one of the Dodgers who tried to talk Burke into getting "married," was his manager, Tommy Lasorda, whose son Tom Jr. died from AIDS complications in 1991. To this day, Lasorda Sr. refuses to acknowledge his son's homosexuality.
Oprah Winfrey's interview with Jason Collins and his family will air on Sunday, May 5 at 7:30/6:30c on OWN. In this clip, Oprah asks Jason's twin brother Jarron about the day last summer when Jason told him he was gay. The easy humor of these brothers just shines.
Jason Collins is interviewed by Bill Simmons at grantland.com. Jason's voice is smooth. It's like a cat purring; it comes right over and snuggles up next to you. With it he conveys maturity, seasoning, thoughtfulness, self-assuredness, and a winning sense of humor. I bet a lot of listeners forget to put up their defenses and are more receptive than they might be otherwise. When his NBA career is over (which I hope is not yet), he can make a fortune with that voice and the character that it helps convey. This guy is solid. This extended interview makes that evident.
The Daily Beasthas retracted the erroneous Wednesday piece by Howard Kurtz on NBA player Jason Collins, who came out on Monday in Sports Illustrated. As I was typing that sentence, I learned that they have also parted ways with Kurtz.
Follow the links to get the rundown on Kurtz's amazingly clueless story. But I loved yesterday's Eat the Press telestrator (see pic below) showing how utterly wrong Kurtz was in his initial claim that Collins had not mentioned having once been engaged to a woman, a claim that showed Kurtz hadn't even read Collins's coming out story. But it was even worse than that. Kurtz showed a complete lack of understanding of the self-denial and pressure to conform endured by closeted gay people, even though Collins wrote about it quite lucidly.
As I said on Facebook earlier today, before Daily Beast dropped Kurtz: Mistah Kurtz, he done. (Apologies to fans of Joseph Conrad.)
Memo to Bryan Fischer: If Jason Collins were inclined to eyeball his teammates in the shower, he'd have been doing it his entire career. Apparently you'd prefer that he and other gay players do their eyeballing secretly. As to players' wives not wanting gay men to ogle their husbands: Really? With TV cameras routinely prowling locker rooms, you're worried about some live glimpses of beefcake? Unless you're also prepared to open girls-only gatherings for inspection by the prurient, I think it would be best to let the boys attend to their after-game activities themselves. They're big and tough; they can handle it.
Or is this really about Mr. Fischer's fearful fantasies about how he might totally melt under the gaze of this seven-foot-tall athlete in the naked vulnerability of a locker room?
Look at him. In the game, on the court, confident, smiling, gleaming in sweat. This is 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins. He is no rookie needing to prove himself. While not one of the big stars, he has been a solid contributor on six teams (most recently our own Wizards), and been in multiple playoffs. He is ready for his moment. Below, in a post-game interview from December (when he was with the Celtics), his poise comes through.
Ian McKellen had an unrequited crush on Derek Jacobi when they were at school together fifty years ago. Well, now they are playing an old gay couple in a new British sitcom. From this brief clip the material looks awfully dated, and Sir Derek's broad performance makes Nathan Lane look restrained. But if it comes available on Netflix, I'm sure I'll watch it. I've had the pleasure of seeing both of these marvelous actors perform live at different times over the years, but as both spent their careers playing leading men, Vicious is the first time since school that they've appeared together.