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Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Say My Name

So this is where I am: I cannot speak to actual humans supporting Donald Trump. This is not a boilerplate statement, and not a bumper-sticker quote I'd paste to my non-existent car. It's a simple fact: I am incapable of speaking with, conversing with, interacting with, or otherwise engaging with any human enabling Donald Trump.

It's true—eight years ago I was not on board, or in the pantsuit pocket, of Hillary Clinton. It's also true—I have not always been a fan of President Obama. It's also true I gave up on The Walking Dead after season 2... but I was an early adopter of Breaking Bad so I know I can be right more often than wrong.

Breaking Bad was one of the best shows in the history of televised entertainment. If Shakespeare had been alive during its run, he would've put his pen down occasionally and said, 'Wow, I wish I had thought of that line.'

The one who knocks... Wait. Not my point here.

Some years back, I wrote a very long screed for a website that no longer exists (I wrote the screed as Samuel L. Jackson, and was apparently so good at writing Samuel L. Jackson blogs that the site was sued by Jackson's lawyers) that America did not need another Clinton or a Bush. I, as Sam-Jack, was referencing the fact that since 1980, there had been either a Clinton or a Bush in one of the top two positions in United States government.

We needed a breather. And we got one. We got Obama.

Obama did some things, and then he did some other things, and then he announced he was for marriage equality. And the White House did this:

A year ago, I went back home for a funeral. I was still amazed, excited, energized from that moment, seeing the White House bathed in rainbow colors and celebrating not just marriage equality but my own marriage. My own union.

Keep in mind: most of my family like Greg—my husband—more than they like me. Which I get. He's more pleasant than I am.

Also keep in mind: My family is in Alabama.

Alabama is not as backwoods as you'd think. Alabamians are fine with the gays, the lesbians, the trans, the poly, the differently-colored, and the differently-religious. Even the non-religious.

The hard truth I've come to—and realized during my last visit home—is that they are not fine with people pointing out faults.

The funeral was for my step-grandfather, and there's nothing I can say about it. But the funeral coincided with Donald Trump's rally in Birmingham. Perhaps you recall this rally. It's what made him the nominee. 

What I learned during the meditation on death and the visits with family is that there is no true acceptance. There is always some suspicion. If no one voted on my marriage, as they never voted for desegregation and they never voted for the very idea of voting—if the Supreme Court forced the point rather than waiting on a referendum—my marriage was, and remains, null.

Donald Trump does not give a shit, even a poople, about this. In his interviews over the many, many years, Trump has supported gay rights, LGBTQ rights, abortion, and, I'm sure, a new season of Breaking Bad (But he thinks it is called 'Breaking Nad').

Donald Trump is a bit like my family. They are fine with me. They support me. But they will be not be told how to make being me a legal and safe reality, and they will by holy hell never assume that that such protections cover anyone who is not Greg's husband.

So I cannot have sensible conversations with Trump supporters, or those who play games with the voting options. It's very true that we need a third party. Any other election I'd agree, but now is not the time to make the point and veer into Perotvia. If you're feelin' the Bern, I get it, but the Bern himself has asked you to vote for fucking Hillary Clinton.

If you're liking Jill Stein: I get it. I mean, you should probably put down the Stein and vote for Hillary Clinton, but I get it (not really). But well-intentioned.

Just remember this, you upside-down voting Bernie-bro Stein lifters: there are people who support my gay marriage but are still resistant to the idea that I can be married.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

USonian Arc

If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk. --Newt Gingrich (July, 2016)

Token, I get it now. I don't get it. I've been trying to say that I understand how you feel, but, I'll never understand. I'll never really get how it feels for a black person to have somebody use the N word. I don't get it. --South Park (March, 2007)

The most profound thing a person can do is admit there is a problem. This week, USonians admitted they have a problem. It was an obvious problem. And, as problems go, it had many symptoms, and many couch-doctors offering up well meaning diagnoses.

"Too many guns," some said.

"Not enough guns," others said.

"Racism," more said.

"Blue lives matter."

Orlando, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Mathew Shepard. James Byrd.

More guns, less guns, love, empathy, rule of law, Second Amendment... everyone had a general diagnosis for this week, but it reminded me of the story of the blind men and the elephant--you know, the one where some blind men feel up an elephant and conclude that the molested beast is anything other than what it is.

We have a race problem. True. Very true. So very true that even racists step back occasionally and say, "If you are a normal, white American, you don't understand..."

We have a white privilege problem. Also true. I know I've done things that would've gotten me put away for a long time if I'd been a different color. Or a different sex. Or a sex different from the one with which I identify. (I'm white.)

Which, by the way: We have a gender problem. If you don't know what CIS means, please look it up. And if you don't understand why nodding 'yes' at every Caitlyn Jenner interview is a failure on your part, take a moment to consider that Caitlyn Jenner supports a political party that endorses, in an Old Testament sense, her eradication.

Also, we have a gun problem.

Which is an interesting problem to have. It is quite literally the Founding Fathers anticipation of Anton Chekhov--they hung the Second Amendment up over the mantle, and we're now in the third act (which is funny because there are no second acts in American lives--we've already beat conventional wisdom!).

There are no good guys with guns. There are humans with guns, of course. But there are humans with spades as well. There are humans with knives. There are humans with screwdrivers. There are humans with fingers. There are humans with many kinds of tools, and a gun is a tool. Fingers, knives, screwdrivers, hammers, remote controls--all tools. All tools are, if used with enough determination, lethal. I get it.

But the Second Amendment only protects the right to wield one of those tools. The Second Amendment does not cover--in fact, no where in the Constitution is it stated that we have the right to--fingers. Hammers are not mentioned. Knives are not included. We did have the right to own people the same color as Tamir Rice, but we didn't have the right to own our own fingers, which with enough determination can be as deadly as a gun.

You can take my fingers from my cold, dead hands.

What's interesting about this week is that people did not vilify #BlackLivesMatter. An angry Black man shot a lot people, and for the most part we...

took a moment. We, no matter our politics and no matter our Cis/race/age/finger-count, took that...

moment. It gives me hope. It gives a lot of people hope, which validates my own hope and so I feel okay in acknowledging it: Hope.

Some have tried to dull the overall arc of the moral universe, which is okay. That's why the arc isn't truly an arc. It bends, but it also doesn't form a beautiful rainbow (Because I'm gay, I think in rainbows).

Dr. King said this: The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

There are a lot of people who would like to make that arc a scythe.

There are a lot of people who have made the arc a dull and jagged thorn.

But it is amazing to me that everyone I know has decided two things:

1) Understand that the 5 cops in Dallas were killed by an insane person. Guns are not fingers. Guns are not humans.

2) Understand that love is a nice thing, with frilly bits and occasional hugs. We can disagree a lot, but we all should disagree with a bend toward justice. And justice bends.

Just, you know, be kind to one another. And do not assume you know it all. Black lives matter and...

I shouldn't have to tell you this.

Jesus, I'm a gay man who has a pretty secure gay-to-white ratio. I'm not likely to be shot, but there is a spectrum--if I kiss my husband in the wrong restaurant, or on the wrong streetcorner in the wrong state... All it takes is one insane person having a very bad day. But while I worry about assholes, I am not black. I know the bending arc. I know justice. It bent very sharply for people like me.

For black men? It doesn't bend. It dawdles, meanders, and bullets travel much more quickly than justice.


Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

Life is awful for every one of us.

Be kind.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pride, a brief

I've been to the Pride Parade--the one in NYC, the one that started it all--and I hated it.

I went with a group of people, and we spent most of our time trying to keep together, searching for one another, signaling to one another where we were, sending up flares.

I went with my to-be husband. We got bored, grabbed dinner at a route-adjacent restaurant, and went home.

I went with friends and the to-be husband, had a panic attack, and vowed I'd never go again.

I made that vow, which was half-assed, five years ago. But whatever. I'll be going alone this Pride.

Alone, because my now-husband will be working. Alone, because it really cuts down on my social anxiety--I don't feel the need to keep track of anyone, and I don't panic when I get lost in the crowd.

Alone, because there is no way I'd miss this particular parade. It's only been a year since Obergfell v. Hodges, and it's only been three years since US v. Windsor. And less than two weeks since the Pulse slaughter.

I know the parade will be loud and crowded. It will also be a nice time for me--alone--to take a moment for myself. Odd, I know, in that it should be a time to be among friends, and one with a community, but this year? This year it just seems right to be there alone, and consider everything it means to be gay in the US, and appreciate the LBQT, and remember less than a decade ago my now-husband and I were worthless in the eyes of the law.

Maybe I'll take the dog.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

He's Outside Again

We were sitting down for dinner. As always, one of our kids--this time Lewis--was having a kid issue easily solved over the mashed potatoes and the meatloaf.

"It wasn't my fault," Lewis said. "Mooo-ooom. This meatloaf is dry."

"Not my fault," my wife, Iz, replied. "I just cook here."

Mysterious applause from the neighbors.

As Iz heaped a pile of dry meatloaf onto May's plate--dear May, with her pigtails tightly secured with yarn and her bright smile held up by childish innocence--I proposed a solution to Lewis. "Lewis," I said. "How is it not your fault?"

Lewis picked at his food for a moment.


"Dad. Really. It wasn't my fault because Jamie was letting me read off his test." There were chuckles from outside our dining room, probably the neighbors watching a sitcom. "I didn't want to do it, Dad, but his answers were right there, dangling off his desk."

"Like when my scab dangled off my knee a few days after I had that rollerskate accident!" May offered.

Again, weird laughing from next door.

"Son," I said, putting down both my knife and my fork as a way to signal a very important moment of advice. "Just because--"

"He's outside again." Iz, who hadn't yet picked up her own knife and fork, nodded to the front door of our living room, which was connected to the dining room. In fact, the dining room and the living room were the same room--with some creative furniture placement, we'd always made it seem like the one room was, in fact, two separate set spaces.

I followed Iz's gaze to the door. There were bright lights suddenly pouring in through the curtains of our front door window. And we heard a voice: "Yeah, this is where I used to live. Right here. It's where I grew up, and where I learned the importance of survival."

Lewis looked at me. "Dad, can he just--"

"Hush, son. Eat your... what is this?"

"Dried meatloaf," Iz replied. "You were eating it just a few minutes ago without questioning it." Again, the neighbors laughed and hooted a bit.

"Dried meatloaf. I mean, good meatloaf. Son, just eat what's on your plate and ignore--"

"When I lived here," we heard the asshole on our porch say as the lights shifted, "we were so poor I'd never think I'd be so rich now."

"Goddammit." Yes, I cursed. And I apologized. "Sorry, kids."

May gasped. Iz shot a look at me that should've been from a grassy knoll. Lewis assumed he was now off the hook and muttered, "Goddamn is right" under his breath. The neighbors laughed even harder than before, and there was a smattering of applause.

"Go on," Iz said, her eyes stuck to me. "Finish that sentence."

"Alright. Goddammit, I will. Goddammit, every time we sit down to eat, this asshole has another news crew following him up to our porch, where he talks about how poor he was when he lived here, and how he overcame his poverty, and do they honestly, every time, need to get footage of him standing on our goddamn porch talking about how awful it was for him to live in what is now our goddamn house?"

The neighbors--annoyingly--reacted to whatever was on their TV set with a loud 'Oooooooo' sound.

"I mean, every goddamn time there's a documentary about assholes, there's one scene where they go back to 'where it all began.' And it is always our goddamn home. Here we are, trying to have a nice life of dried meatloaf and working-class situations, and then this asshole is showing up on our porch to tell a film crew just how awful and hard-scrabble it was to live here."

Iz shifted her eyes. When she shifts her eyes, I always get it. It's a signal, always, and her shifting struck me in a way no outside light or laughs ever could.

"You can see how the neighborhood is now, but imagine how much worse it was when I was here," the asshole on our porch said. His voice, like the kleigs, and the neighbors' laughter, cut into our dinner. "It is my hope to inform people of just how awful it is to be in these homes."

I met Iz's eyes. Nodded, which is my own signal. "It's not dry meatloaf, son. And it doesn't matter what's dangling off what. You don't cheat."

The neighbors burst into applause. I assumed some resolution had been made on the show they were watching, but the asshole on the porch continued talking, as always, for another 30 minutes.

"We're a two-parter!" May shouted, clapping.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Euthanize Yourself First

"We didn't name him Satchel." Mia corrects me in my first question. "He did. I didn't know who Satchel Paige was, really. I mean I sort of got it, and thought, 'Okay. Your wish, whatever.' It's a shame Ronan doesn't like the name, but I understand."

I'm in Farrow's undisclosed apartment somewhere in the northeast United States. These days, we'd all like to think she is in the Dakota, hanging out with her fictional counterpart Rosemary Woodhouse, and her implied counterpart Yoko Ono. Like Rosemary, the character she played so ably in the 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby," Farrow seems to have given up one of her children to the Hollywood gods to secure a husband's career. And like Yoko Ono, Farrow has seen the hatred of fans blaming her for the tarnished and neglected reputation of a Hollywood institution.

Unlike Rosemary and Yoko, Farrow has never lived at the Dakota. Also like Rosemary and Yoko, Farrow never married Woody Allen. She did, however, marry Andre Previn and Frank Sinatra.

Not bad!

"I live a life. It's not like I think much about the show-business stuff anymore." Farrow sits across from me, barefoot and bright-faced, a cup of hot tea steaming beneath her unadorned nose left untouched by surgery. "I had my moments of fame. But I'm comfortable in my infamy."

One can't help but notice the photos in Mia's home. Or at least in her living room, as she does not let people wander about her home. In her living room, one can spy the pictures of her life: a framed photo of an empty frame; a cropped picture of a frame with Dean Martin; Roman Polanski giving her direction, with a hot tub in the background.

"My life has been rich," she replies when I ask about these pictures.

"What was it like to be served with divorce papers by Sinatra while on set?"

"Well. When I finished off that movie screaming 'What have you done with his eyes' I wasn't actually asking about the damned baby. Sinatra was--"

"Known for his eyes." I nodded. Noted.

Asked the question I'd wanted to ask: "So you defend Roman Polanski. You gave a deposition defending a child-molester, right?"

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