Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You Got to Give 'em Hope

Today marks the 34th anniversary of the martyrdom of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. A man who gave little gay boys like me hope with his every word and deed, even though he was long dead well before I was born.

We've come so far in the last three and a half decades I'm not sure even Harvey Milk himself would believe it if he were alive today.

In fact we've come so far since 1997, the year both Ellen DeGeneres and I came out of the closet, I'm still not sure *I* believe it.

The teevees are awash with gay story-lines, characters, and even whole shows.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been struck down, and homosexuals are now serving openly in the military.

Same sex marriage has been ordained in eleven states, either by judicial, legislative, or popular decree.

And this year Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly gay person to be elected to the US Senate, giving us a voice in the highest legislative body in the land. As Ms. Baldwin herself said,

"If you are not in the room, the conversation is about you. If you are in the room, the conversation is with you. We never had an openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, and even though there are strong pro-equality allies who serve there, it has always been a conversation about a group of people. So this changes everything.”
We are now full fledged, indivisible, participants of that conversation. And we will look back on 2012 as the year we became true stake-holders in the American Dream, the year "hope" became a reality.

We couldn't have done it without you, Mr. Milk. Thank you for giving us hope.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Just a little something from one of my favorite Holiday Movies to help those candied yams go down extra smooth.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wiener Ban

(if only all nudists looked like this guy...)
It's one of life's unfortunate ironies that nudists are rarely the sorts of folk you'd like to see naked, and the cadre of skin-clad sunbathers who congregate at Jane Warner Plaza in the heart of San Francisco's Castro Village are no different. Generally flabby, paunchy, falling demographically somewhere between Jurassic and Antediluvian, and usually wearing nothing more than sneakers and the occasional sun hat.  It's... not a pretty sight. But fear not citizens! Scott Wiener has a simple solution to the plague of wrinkled old man flesh polluting Cloud City's pristine streets; make nudity a crime.

Mr. Wiener is the City Supervisor for San Francisco's 8th District; my old stomping grounds and the seat once held by Harvey Milk (though back then it was the 5th). He's a nice enough guy; soft spoken, polite, tall as a sequoia, and up until now his legislative claim to fame has been the introduction of San Francisco's so called "skid mark law" which (sensibly) requires a towel be placed between naked buttocks and public benches and chairs, and vigorous support for SF's "Sit/lie" law which essentially criminalizes homelessness.

(a Wiener with a plan)
Now Mr. Wiener has introduced legislation which would ban nudity in the sidewalks, plazas, parklets,  and on the mass transit of San Francisco. He says he doesn't have any problem with nudity per se, but that the situation has gotten "out of control" and that he is responding to complaints from the community. But the community is by no means unified in their disgust, and the nudists have as many supporters as detractors. In an attempt to bolster support for his crusade against balls and buttocks Mr. Wiener released a statement citing "irresponsible behavior" on the parts of some of the sun bathers, such as "wearing cock rings" and "walking past girl scout troops" because WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!

All of this needs to be put in the context of the many MANY problems which are facing the Castro. Brutally high unemployment (especially among the trans population), shuttered storefronts as far as the eye can see, rampant drug abuse and a staggering rate of youth homelessness. All of which leads me to the conclusion that he either truly believes the human body is disgusting and shameful and needs to be wrapped up and hidden from the world in order to protect humanity (especially the children! oh God, THE CHILDREN!), or he's cynical enough to think he can use this issue to recreate Harvey Milk's "dog poop" moment to gain broad middle class support, and he's willing to trade his community's Liberty for political gain.

Make no mistake, this is a matter of Free Expression. Citizens of a free country should have the right to say what they wish to say, create the art they wish to create , and wear what they want to wear; even if that means wearing nothing at all. If the city of San Francisco can tell you you have to cover everything below your waist, what about above your waist? Mr. Wiener and his supporter will say that I'm wrong. That this isn't about the First Amendment because a few of these nudists sport cock-rings and have thus crossed some theoretical line from free expression into exhibitionism and obscenity.

(careful ladies...)
But the problem with "obscenity" is that everybody has a different definition. It wasn't so very long ago that two men kissing or holding hands on a street corner was considered "exhibitionism," and not so long before that that two men dancing together was considered so dangerous to the fabric of society that they could be thrown in jail. Some San Franciscans might object to pants-less sunbathers, while others take offence with bare-breasted lady-bikers, and yet others would prefer to see all women draped in head-scarves or burqas. My dad used to love to say "My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins," meaning that we should all be allowed to do as we please up until it harms others. And public nudity does absolutely no harm to anyone, least of all children. We all have to ask ourselves "What right do I have to impose my sense of propriety on anyone else?"

In my brief life I have had the pleasure of visiting almost every major city in the United States. And the quality that makes San Francisco shine more brightly than all the others is it's dedication to personal liberty and tolerance for other people's way of life, even when we don't understand those life styles or find them distasteful.

To support Mr. Wiener's proposed ban on nudity is to implicitly agree with the Talabanic notion that the human body is dirty and shameful and must be hidden away in order to protect the world. And it is an arrow through the heart of that which makes San Francisco unique among America's cities.

It's Freedom.

(many thanks to the anonymous grammar Nazi who pointed out I spelled "per se" "per say")

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tranny Thursdays: Let's Have a KaiKai

This afternoon's Tranny Thursday offering is a new music video from Los Angeles drag stars Willam Belli and Rhea Litre, parodying The Scissor Sisters' slightly over-played (yet still awesome) "Let's Have a Kiki."

I wasn't rooting for Willam during her time on Ru Paul's Drag Race but everything I've seen from her since then has been hilarious. When it comes to entertainment Ms. Belli is a professional.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The World of Next Tuesday

I have been blessed with a pretty warped sense of humor. And though the lion's share of the blame for that can probably be set at the feet of my of my crazy parents. I'd be remiss if I didn't give a little credit to a classic 90's cartoon called "Ren & Stimpy," which ran on Nickelodeon from 1991-96 and follows the adventures of hyper-violent chihuahua and his sweet-natured (but poorly hygiened) feline side-kick.

Although possibly tame by today's standards (though I doubt it), I'm not sure how "Ren & Stimpy" made it to the air and stayed there, obsessed as it was with nipples on horses and the secretion of fluids. Somehow this amazingly effed up cartoon survived and thrived rubbing shoulders with the likes of "Doug" and "Rugrats."

And when I think back on this crude and savagely violent piece of children's entertainment the episode which always  immediately springs to mind is called "The House of Next Tuesday," which I decided to re-watch today, to see if it held up to my memory. And it does! It is a fantastic homage to the Tex Avery "House of Tomorrow" cartoons from the 50's (which are also super effed-up, but with less violence and fart jokes, and way more sexism), but with a classic "Ren & Stimpy" take. And I realized as I hunted down clips on the youtubes, this show didn't just warp my sense of humor, but it also reinforced the idea that humans are capable of anything.

There is no problem we can't figure a way around (world dominate by giant ants? build giant magnifying glasses!), and even if our solutions cause more problems, well... that just gives us more problems to solve.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Music Matinee: Burning Man

Good morning Fellow Travelers, and happy Labor Day! Here in California, Labor Day is more than a rememberence of railroad workers slain by the US Military (know your history, kids!), it's also the day when all the Burners come home from Black Rock City. Thousands of dust-coated campers, brains fried crispy by the sun (and possibly various hallucinogenic substances), pile into their RVs and make the arduous trek from the that temporary metropolis in the alkali deserts of central Nevada, back home to the glittering sea-side cities here in the Golden State and elsewhere. I say "back home" though many regard that strange and ever evolving city their true home and speak dismissively or disinterestedly about that which the call the "default world."

And though I don't share that sensation of feeling at home there, it's not hard for me to see the attraction. Black Rock City is a world unto itself. A vibrant explosion of color and sound and experience resting in the bowl of a stark dead lake. A city built of dreams and populated almost entirely by people who believe in The Possible. It's an astonishing place, unlike any other place in the world, and it's siren call has pulled me back seven times in the last ten years. The years I don't manage to make the pilgrimage I miss it terribly, and I have developed a number of coping mechanisms for dealing with this light melancholy, not the least of which involves a whole bunch of music.

I'm an admitted late comer when it comes to acknowledging Grimes' awesomeness, her music runs a little synthier than my usual tastes and her lyrics border on repetitive. But something about this video, with it's Mad-Max-meets-Kill-Bill-on-the-streets-of-Beverly-Hills aesthetic, made her click for me (it's pretty much what I'm aiming for all the time on the playa) Now i'm listening to visions and watching my newsfeed for stories of safe returns, and imaging what life would be like if Burning Man where all the time.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tranny Thursday: Gula Delgatto

Somewhere in the barren plains of central Oregon there is a dusty trail; unmarked and little traveled by any but the most desperate or unsavory. Those who trod the Whiskey Trail tell strange tales. Stories of animals that talk like men, encounters with the ghosts of friends long past, and of a cruel temptress known only as "Gula Delgatto."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friendsday: Where The Bears Are

Hey gang it's Wednesday-Friendsday and before I head out to picnic in the park I want to share this new web-series with you. It's a mystery-comedy set right here in Silverlake called "Where the Bears Are." It's "The Golden Girls" meets "Murder She Wrote" but gay gayer. And it features my buddies Chad Sanders as a sexy detective trying to solve the mystery and and Mario Diaz the sleazy (possibly evil) bar owner. The episodes are super short and the jokes are genuinely funny, especially several episodes in as the actors really begin to inhabit their characters. Get into it.

(hi chad!)

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Music Monday: Esthero

I've always loved Esthero, ever since those halcyon days when the late 90's became the early aught's and my basic uniform went from Hawaiian shirts and corduroy shorts to fat pants and finger-less gloves. Her first album, Breath From Another, makes up a large piece of my aural landscape from that time and I can't listen to "Heaven Sent" or "Country Livin'" without being flooded with memories of late night drives to the beat-filled warehouses of Los Angeles, or a dozen drug deals that almost went wrong. But despite being awesome, Breath From Another, wasn't a big commercial success.

Esthero's second album, Wicked Lil' Grrls, is also seeped in Los Angeles for me. Though this time the LA of 2005, when I lived my life as study in making poor choices. I was pretty miserable in those days; my dad had just died, my boyfriend and I broke up, and my life generally fell apart. I spent a lot of time getting wasted with unsavory characters and listening to this album. It was also not a huge success, commercial or critical, but was still awesome (despite the awful Myspacian spelling in several of the song titles.)

Now Esthero is going to be releasing her third studio album. It's called Everything is Expensive and its not supposed to come out until October, but she's already released the first single, and if it's anything to go by, this album is going to be a big hit. The lyrics are clever the hook is catchy and beat propels my body into motion. Get into it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Friendsday: Summertime Realness

This music video by my little brother, Little Rikki, and Chicago-based Bear-hopper, Big Dipper, came out a few weeks ago. But as I was cruising the hot and sticky streets of Los Angeles today I found myself humming it today, and I just had to share. Happy Friendsday everybody, enjoy!