Not so long ago my "Traveling Companion" and I were walking down the street and he pointed out a spot on his chest with an expression of grave concern. "I hope it isn't cancer."
"it's not cancer," I replied with what I would consider to be an air of certitude, "It's a pimple." -as it WAS a pimple.
"Oh no... It's been there too long. It's got to be something more serious. You're always looking at life through rose-coloreds... You can't make light of my situation in hopes that it will just go away! How can you be so cruel and insensitive!!!"
All this bickering and to-ing and fro-ing went on for awhile until finally I shouted in mock-exasperation...
"ALRIGHT! IT'S CANCER! YOU WIN!!!"
At which point an elderly gentleman (isn't that a patronizing term) who was walking in front of us turned around and looked at me in absolute horror and revulsion.
Now, the reason I'm telling you this story is because for some reason it makes me think of the whole gay marriage/Prop 8 scenario that has turned into a great big pimple on the LGBTQ community.
First of all we weren't really arguing, we were just pretending we were an old married couple - our particular icons are Minnie and Roman Castavet from 'Rosemary's Baby' -because THAT'S THE WAY WE ROLL-play. Obviously, we take turns being Ruth Gordon.
We PRETEND we're an old married couple but in reality we could not be one -nor would we want to.
Over the years I've been asked to perform at various benefits and shindigs in support of "Gay Marriage" and I've never been able to do it. I find the urge to get married an understandable one. Most of our parents did it, our brothers and sisters do it, our friends do it and yet because we're same-sex loving people we can't do it.
So ever since the urgency of the activism spawned by the AIDS epidemic has died down it seems the entire gay movement has been hijacked by one major issue -this fight for marriage. It leaves me cold.
I've been so disappointed by the whole thing. Firstly, and maybe this is just me, I had much higher hopes for homosexuals. For some reason I believed that by being forced to live outside the mainstream and being told we weren't "normal" for all these years we would have gleaned a little wisdom or at least insight into how oppressive and simplistic "normal" really is. That, in fact, even the concept of normality is a farce and is not to be aspired to -only imitated as a safety precaution until one can escape to a less harsh and more loving environment!
Of course that utopian ecosystem is not always easy to find.
When I was a teenager I was teased and tormented for being a gender-queer fag (or in old-school lingo a "sissy cock-sucker") to such a degree that I was really acting out and my grades were suffering. I was, as are so many other young oddballs, miserable. Fortunately, the guidance counselor at my school suggested to my parents that we go in for family counselling. The shrink, who was basically an ignorant homophobic woman, said one thing that may have saved my life. "Your parents are planning to put you through college. As soon as you graduate you can get out of this town and you'll meet lots of other types of people and when you do you'll find some that are like you and you'll be okay. Just play the game, get decent grades and coast through as well as you can." I got it.
Looking back, I realize I was lucky because my parents -although not sensitive or open-minded in the ways I would have liked them to be- had planned on giving me a college education and for some reason didn't put up too much of a stink when I said I wanted to study acting in New York. Like I said I was lucky.
But even being in a theater program at a University who was surrounded by other LGBT students didn't help much. There was so much homophobia both external and internal -especially because it was a professional acting program and in those days, "You would never be a successful actor if you were 'openly gay'"! No, for me it wasn't until I moved to San Francisco and found a bunch of anti-assimilationist, radical queer, gender variant activists that I found a sense of wholeness and community.
I would imagine that most people wouldn't want to live the way we did. They might look at us and be entertained or possibly even inspired, but we would probably not be what they had dreamed of being as little children. I know I wasn't what I had dreamed of being as a child, but as I got older my dreams changed. I've always said, the truth changes, and what we believe to be true at one point in our life can change at another but at neither time is it a lie. It's just what we believe.
Which brings me back to marriage. Marriage isn't something created by God. In it's most elevated sense it is something that is born out of love and is a celebration of the union of two souls who pledge to share their lives in a very deep profound and meaningful way. It is a sacred spiritual covenant. But over the years it has become loaded with tradition and tethered to a hetero-centric religious establishment. Some religions condone same-sex marriage, some don't. That is the business of various religions and their followers. Religion is a choice.
Fortunately, in this country there is a constitutionally guaranteed separation between church and state. But for some reason marriage has been able to straddle both.
As I said earlier, the idea of fighting for the majority of Americans to grant us the right to get married leaves me cold. And the reason is this. I believe in the separation of church and state. This entire struggle has, in my view validated a social, political and "spiritual" hierarchy which in the best of times has treated us with loving condescension and at the worst -as in the 80's and early 90's stood idly by and watched us die -sometimes actually taking glee in it.
Marriage should be left strictly to religion. Get married in a church, temple, mosque or synagogue, have a hand-fasting ceremony, do whatever you believe to be the right thing. If your religion is an oppressive one that won't allow you to do it in their church then you're going to have to search your soul and make a decision as to what kind of fucked up doctrine or dogma you want to place your faith in.
But in the meantime... Now that Prop 8 has been struck down by what appears to be a concentrated effort by tax-exempt religious organizations across this country it seems we need to be fighting for two things.
1) The repeal of tax-exempt status for any organization that uses that status to disrupt our democracy or affect the outcome of free elections by tax-paying citizens, effectively stripping our citizens of their basic constitutional rights- and by this I not only mean to create homes and families, but to have free and fair elections.
This prop 8 victory if allowed to stand can lead to numerous problems. Organized religions must be put in check in order for this to be a free, rational and peaceful society.
As members of a minority who have repeatedly felt the sting of their hateful oppressive tactics it is up to us to stand up to them and refuse them their power.
2) The word 'Marriage" should be stripped from all civil codes and laws. Let marriage be what its supporters believe it to be -a 'sacred' right. Then let's get on with fighting for 'equal rights' for all citizens of this country by giving organized religion its right to oppress its own believers -not us! We, and all people who choose to form a legal partnership should be demanding the government create a class of civil union that applies to all couples gay, straight or otherwise who seek to form a legal and binding partnership with equal rights and privileges afforded to all those who choose to enter it. The word 'marriage' should be stricken from the law books as it is unconstitutional and oppressive to minorities.
Once that is taken care of anyone who has a love and compassion-based spiritual community will be able to get married in peace and without government interference. PRAISE THE LORD!
Holy shit! I didn't realize I was going to go on such a tirade, but I'm so sick of giving these oppressive wackos our power. In California they are looking at some constitutional issues regarding "The tyranny of the masses", which is the terminology used when a simple majority of voters are allowed to take away the constitutionally guaranteed rights of a minority group. Eventually gay marriage will be allowed but at what cost? Even within the LGBTQ world queers are being subjected to the tyranny of the assimilationist majority who are wasting valuable resources fighting to be accepted by, or equal to, corrupt unloving forces.
In the same way that so many people across this nation were appalled by the waste of 20 million dollars by the Mormon church to propagate hatred on Proposition 8 -20 million dollars that could have been used for good- many of us have in the LGBTQ Community have been appalled by the energy and resources used by mainstream gay and lesbian organizations on a struggle to take part in the antiquated rituals of an oppressive majority.
My hope is that as we move onto the next stage of this battle we will do it with an eye toward progress that is beneficial to and respectful of the beliefs of all our citizens. Let marriage be what it was originally intended -a religious event. Get it out of our legal and tax system and usher in a new era of equality and enlightenment.
Christ I sound preachy!
and NOW for more important things............................
I WOULD LIKE TO ANNOUNCE THAT MY NEW WEBSITE IS UP AND TURNING!
check out my song "The New Depression" on the music page. It's a recording of the first live performance of it EVER at Joe's Pub with arrangements and piano by Our Lady J, flute by Timothy Johnson, cello Allison Seidner and drums by David Berger.
A MASSIVE THANK YOU GOES TO JEMMA NELSON. YOU ARE AMAZING, YOU BIG ART STAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!