Category Archives: Advice & Editorials

EDITORIAL That’s so Gay!

Did you notice that the word “gay” is being used in schoolyards the same way the word “retarded” was back in the last millennium? It doesn’t seem to mean homosexual at all when people use it.

According to Oxford English Dictionary editor Jesse Sheidlower, “gay” and “retard” occupy parallel linguistic positions when it comes to schoolyard trash talk. They mean the same thing — “stupid” or “bad.”

Sheidlower can trace the use of “retard” as an insult back to the late 1950s. The first reference he could find was in a book about jazz. In a reference to Playboy magazine, a character says, “that Hefner jazz is for retarded jockstraps.”

“Retarded,” like “gay,” functions as an all-purpose put-down, says Sheidlower. If you say, “Stop being so gay,” or “That movie was retarded,” it’s not meant to be taken literally — as in “Stop being so homosexual,” or “That movie was intellectually disabled.” That differentiates those words from racist slurs. Ta-Nehisi Coates has written on the topic in his column in The Atlantic.

Coates says that in order for hateful language to become socially unacceptable, it needs to be linked with the kind of bigoted behavior no one wants to be associated with. And he suggests that there needs to be a fundamental cultural shift in empathy. So far, the empathy seems to be spreading. The Black Eyed Peas recorded a “clean” version of their song “Let’s Get Retarded” that changed that line to “Let’s Get It Started.” And a few months ago, popular gay sex advice columnist Dan Savage renounced his use of the word.

NPR did a story on this today. You can visit their website here to learn about these interesting transitions.

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EDITORIAL Let’s Be Adult: Gay Marriage vs. ?

It seems there are two sides, at least, to the whole Gay Marriage issue, which (by the way) seems to be of much more concern to non-gay people than to men who love men. Either you are for settling down and being just like a traditional religiously and socially mandated male/female relationship – or you carry on like an obsessed, sex-crazed bohemian. Surely there is a middle way.

As gay men we have the pleasures and responsibilities of living outside the box. Our morals, behaviors and needs are not necessarily the same as a male/female couple. Some gay men try their best to create the “perfect relationship” they envision, including even marriage vows and mortgages. Other gay men live completely free of emotional or economic commitment and fill their social worlds with fleeting sexual encounters.

“The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage in 2001. Same-sex marriages are also recognized in Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts and in dispute in Iowa as of early September 2007 where a district court judge issued a stay of his ruling that Iowa’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Two male college students became the first same-sex couple to marry in Iowa before Judge Robert Hanson, in Polk County District Court, filed an order to delay the issuing of any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Iowa pending further review of the district court’s ruling.”

Infidelity is defined by Dictionary.com as “marital disloyalty; adultery; a breach of trust or a disloyal act; transgression…” In gay relationships, perhaps more than mainstream society, there is often an openness and a trust that allows for sexual experimentation. After all, that is what defines us as different. So fooling around isn’t always against the rules – sometimes it is part of the rules. Gay men, and in fact all persons, get to make their own rules … in real time and on a per-person basis.

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Accepting Same-Sex Marriage Begins With Us

I was driving up I-275 the other day when I saw
something that made the whole same-sex issue seem very
clear. On the back of a YWCA van was written, “More for
girls does not mean less for boys.”
When I was in high school the athletics department
seemed to have unlimited funding. In the fall it was all
about football; in winter, basketball reigned supreme. Of
course, this was boys football and basketball. Girls didn’t
do sports. Sports were for boys!
Sure, the girls had the volleyball team, but nobody
really paid any attention to it.
All of that changed with Title IX, the 1972 Federal law
that bars discrimination in all federally funded educational
activities. Suddenly schools were required to fund girls
athletics equally to boys. More importantly, the new law
forced people to confront those long-held gender stereotypes
that athletics was the domain of boys and that playing
sports was unladylike. It took legal action to force a societal
change, and there was a lot of resistance to that change (but
I don’t recall any mention of “activist judges”).
Now, nearly 35 years later, no one gives much thought
to girls being athletes, and in many cases, the girls’ teams
engender as much excitement and school spirit as the
boys’ teams. Society’s perceptions of gender roles have
changed, and continue to evolve, and we wonder what all
the fuss was about.
More for girls does not mean less for boys.
Same-sex marriage is very similar. The legalization of
same-sex marriage is a virtual inevitability. The rhetoric
surrounding efforts to ban it becomes more and more
ridiculous as one by one, the arguments against it fail to
stand up to rational debate. The recent Washington state
court ruling upholding that state’s ban on same-sex marriage
was no exception. “Under this standard, DOMA is
constitutional because the legislature was entitled to believe
that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation,
essential to survival of the human race, and furthers the
well-being of children by encouraging families where children
are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological
parents. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not, in the
legislature’s view, further these purposes.”
Neither, it would logically follow, does allowing postmenopausal
women, infertile couples or couples not wanting
children, further those purposes..
In other words, same-sex marriage threatens the very
survival of the human species. As a columnist in the St.
Petersburg Times stated, the courts are fast reaching the
point where all that is left is to grasp at straws in their efforts
to continue to legitimize discrimination.
As in Massachusetts, ultimately it will be the courts that
demand that same-sex marriage be legalized. And until
there is a societal change in the perception of what a
marriage is, there will continue to be resistance.
We ask how same-sex marriage threatens the sanctity of
heterosexual marriage.” In reality it doesn’t challenge
heterosexual marriage. It challenges our perceptions of
what has been the “natural order” of things.
This is new, uncharted territory. It’s different, and
different is uncomfortable until it’s not different anymore.
It will take time for people to change their perceptions
about marriage, just as it took time to change their perceptions
about gender roles and girls’ athletics.
And that change of mindset must include the GLBT
community. How many of us really take same-sex marriage
seriously? How many of us really fathom the level of
commitment that marriage involves?
I have always found weddings to be deeply emotional
experiences. My niece’s wedding this past winter was no
exception, and being the first wedding of that generation of
our family, it was especially so.
I have to wonder, however, if she had married a young
woman instead of a young man, would I have had the same
feelings? Would my eyes have welled up with tears of pride
and joy?
Regrettably, if I am completely honest I would have to
admit, probably not. And I don’t believe I am alone.
It’s not enough for us to “support” same-sex marriage.
We need to change our perceptions of what a marriage is.
We need to let go of our own comfort zone of what has been
familiar, and give our relationships the value they deserve.
We need to celebrate the same-sex marriages of our gay
and lesbian loved-ones with as much fervor, emotion and
tears of joy as our most beloved straight family members.

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Wicked

It was a horrible nightmare. Freedom of speech was curtailed. National leaders iconized and demonized in the winks of eyes. History was treated as flexibly as a fairy tale or a make-believe Sunday matinee. I watched in terror as sweet hoi polloi exploded into a fire-burning pitchforkwielding lynch-mob ready to shred the very same being they had wooed just moments ago.
Meanwhile, those who would speak out have been locked up. The military has been beefed up. And the rest of you had better shut up!
It truly makes the heart and stomach plunge to witness from a comfortably velvetized balcony just how US people … oops, I mean OZ people … were manipulated by the sham wizard. “The people need an enemy” he explains.
And so he and his complicitous media hack turn reality into a twister, obscuring the truth and downright lying about the guilt of those currently filling the glittery shoes of leadership.
How far can this go? How long can this metaphor, this nightmare, continue? Clearly, nobody is encouraged or taught how to think in this world. The few who refuse to go along nicely are either corrupted or destroyed.
And what about you, reader? Do you think? Are you thinking that this is no longer a theatre review and has become a political editorial? Perhaps that is because Oz, Baum and especially the Wizard have always been vehicles for sociopolitical commentary. Novelist Gregory Maguire and playwrights Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman were stepping into rich and dangerous territory when they braved the likes of Dorothy, Boq and the other denizens of Gilliken, Winkie and Quadlinglands.

What’s that? The stage show doesn’t match the movie? Or the books? Or even the novel **Wicked,** upon which it is based? Don’t worry. None of it is really true! It’s all merely pop fiction. And even it weren’t just a uniquely American fantasy metaphor, who decides Witch history is the correct one? Ding Dong!
Regarding Elphaba of the West, the baddest bitch of the silver age screen, well, we are told the secret story of her hideous birth, emerald florescence and enviable end. Forget the “official” version and leave your childhood beliefs behind. We are let in on the true story, if truth really
exists. Wicked suggests, and I agree, that truth is malleable and entirely subjective. Given only a few, spectacularly-lit-yetflimsy gowns of evidence, the smallest fear can billow into a beautiful banshee, filling the stage with amorphous black evil, diaphanous and eerie, truly Defying Gravity and sanity.
The real terror in this world is when people buy into the idea of 100% good or 100% evil. When there is no room for gray (or green), decisions can be hasty and deceptively clear. But in fact, says Wicked, clarity is just another malleable tool, used by the media/reality wizards. Is that so
surprising? Your own Mom probably used the line “Because I said so” to instantly and irrevocably shape your reality with mere verboserocity. Just put on your green glasses and play nicelike … or else!

The language used by these Ozites, especially Goofalinda and Madame Morrible, is delightable and quirkacious, and entirely Baumian; contemporary-ish to the Bowery Boys and certainly a welcome delight when so much theatre seems to go for guttural grit over mental grist.
The costumes in this production were obsessively superb, honoring the cinematic and literarily established flavor of Oz garb — a sort of baroque anything goes formality — and the men dancing in dresses almost make up for the lackluster score. Perhaps if the chorus were more goodly elocuted and audibillable over the underwhelming  orchestration they would stand out better. Or maybe the tunification was a bit unispirable. Oh sure, it was all Wonderful (and yes, I cried at the end, ok?) but the real strength of this particular production was not musical. It was verbal and philosophical.
Stephanie J. Block is a splendid icky-witch, instantly endearing us all to the Scourge of Munchkinland. Margaret Hamilton would no doubt be delighted that her character has been repainted as an odd beauty with a honorable soul and the “hottest” of boyfriends, would-be Winkie King Sebastian Arcelus. Perfect Kendra Kassebaum no doubt fabulously glistens even out of costume, and somehow outrageously lampoons Glinda the Good without actually destroying the fragile eggshell of confidence and security that we remember so well from Billy Burke’s twittering blip. One thing is for sure, after this, watching Judy’s slippered sachet down the golden lane will never be the same.

Which witch are you with? Wicked asks: when you to look into the mirror do you find the protector of free speech with a beryl pallor, or do you see the bubble-wrapped fuchsia bimbo of Popular-ity? Doors open, doors close, people change and make decisions that may or may not be good. It just depends on how you look at it. Life and love are complex, and you are in big bad trouble if you don’t try to see things from many different points of view.

There’s also this curious Miss Piggy/Kermit lesbian love undercurrent that runs through the musical production of Wicked. The sweetest ballad by far is “For Good” sung not between hetero love interests but by Gay-Linda and the Wicked One herself, proving beyond dispute that pink and green are complimentary polarities just as black/white, good/evil, truth/whatever.
Wicked exonerates Elphaba, sort of. In the end she becomes obsessed with power and those fabulous shoes.
More importantly Wicked also implicates Galinda, and her gaggle of ignoramus sycophants, Dancing Through Life and willingly accepting pablum, coverups and happy untruths as the price of “party-on” simplicity. Could they have it any other way?
It is a fabulous, exotic and terrifying dream to be stuck in. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Dodo, and if only I could just wake up with Dorothy, everything would be Wonderful.

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