Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Year's Resolution That Lasts Beyond Next Year

A New Year’s Resolution That Lasts Beyond Next Year

As the holiday season comes to a close, New Year’s resolutions abound as we typically vow to lose that extra five pounds we gained. Many of us go to a Pilates class for our “Core,” only to drop out after two weeks.
But how about a plan for a core that will have durable, meaningful effects on your relationship with your gay child?
 To do this, you need to get information and support to understand what your child is experiencing. Get suggestions for books and internet sites that can enlighten you and broaden your knowledge.
·     Educate yourself.  While you can not know what it feels like to be gay as a straight parent, ask your child to educate you.This is a role reversal; now your child is the one who has more information!While this new role may make you uncomfortable at first, keep these thoughts to yourself until you can find a support group.
·      Join a support group and find others who have coped with and conquered the same negative feelings of failure, helplessness, depression and anxiety you may be feeling.PFLAG(Parents of Lesbians and Gays) has nationwide meetings where you will find advice and role models.
·     Offer unconditional love and support.That’s what your teen wants. It’s not about YOU! He/she may be experiencing shame, loss, depression, knowing he is disappointing you. Put your withered dreams on the back burner and focus on your child’s happiness.  Teens don’t like to be different, and a gay teen constantly fears being singled out.
·     Accept that your child is gay/ bisexual. Don’t try to change his orientation so you feel better.The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University found that positive family attitudes and behaviors protect GLB kids against depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
With documented facts like those, why not make a resolution to develop a spiritual core with your gay child?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Aids Awareness Starts at Home

You know your kids, whether homosexual or heterosexual, are sexually active. Sure, they’ve heard of HIV that causes AIDS, but because they’re teens, they think they are immortal and will not transmit or “catch” the virus. They are too young to remember the scourge of the 80’s that rendered AIDS an automatic death sentence. No longer incurable, AIDS is still infecting people faster than they can be tested and treated. Half of new HIV infections in U.S. occur in people under 25. Did you know that 3 in 4 Americans don’t have the disease under control?
Teens Want and Need More Information
The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 1500 American teens, ages 12 to 17, this past summer and found that all teens regardless of age, sex, race/ethnicity, even if not sexually active, want to know more.
According to U.S. government statistics, 62% of teens, aged 15 to 17, say they have considered getting tested for HIV, and only 48% said they would know where to go for a test should they want to do so.
Whether it’s a HIV test that shows results in 20 minutes or a test that takes three days to conclude, parents should find the nearest testing centers through Planned Parenthood’s website: http://Planned Parenthood.org and direct their children to them. Get the facts about HIV from a reliable source such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://cdcinfo @cdc.gov) and share your findings with your teen. Even if infected, the earlier your teen starts on antidotes, the quicker his/her treatment will “kick in.” It’s not enough to talk about condoms preventing HIV.  
Does your teen know how to use a condom properly? It may be “cool” to carry one in your wallet, but does he know how to use it? Have him/her practice putting and taking off a condom on a banana. Bananas don’t have Erectile Dysfunction.
While YOU may squirm or blush instructing your child, you can be assured that you are fulfilling your parental duty. Make these dialogues ongoing about sexual disease prevention, not just on World AIDS day, December 1.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Over the River and Through the Woods, To Straight Relatives We Go"

Over the River and Through the Woods, To Straight Relatives We Go”
All traditional family relatives revisit roles of your childhood:  “the black sheep” who disappoints the family, the perfect sister who visits with her baby, and you, who always felt estranged for being “different.” 
Somewhere between the cracked walnuts and the football game, the air is heavy with tension.  Thanksgiving is not a great time for good conversation and introducing your lover to your seldom-seen relatives.  With your hosts obsessing about the gravy’s consistency and trying to put on a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, do you really want to subject your new girlfriend/boyfriend to what can be a nerve-wracking experience?
Alternatives to Holiday Introductions
Perhaps, a better time would be a non-holiday time when the family is more relaxed such as a summer barbeque.  “Coming Out” to your family with your lover should be an occasion in itself and has its own agenda. It may take several visits for your family to get to know your companion. You want your mate to feel welcomed and not secondary to the perfectly-browned turkey.
Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with Your New Partner:
You may want to consider these options if you have already made your plans to go home:
·      Have your boyfriend/girlfriend bring flowers/candy/wine as any houseguest would.  This gesture starts your lover out on the right foot.  He/she should follow up with a “thank you note” after the holiday.
·      Do not insist on sleeping in the same bed even if your parents allow your sibling with his heterosexual “live-in” to do so.
·      No public signs of affection that could possibly make others uncomfortable.
·      When you know there are homophobic relatives, stay clear of topics that will incite anger such as Prop 8, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  You’ll be guaranteed to alienate.
·      If your parents are not homophobic, but your “dyed-in-the-wool” grandparents are not accepting, have your parents clue in your grandparents in advance of the holiday.  It will pave the way for you.  Or, you can pretend that your companion is just a friend for now.  There will be another time to “come out.”
For more tips on surviving the holidays with your lover, check out
What worked for you in introducing your partner during holiday time?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

GLB Servicemen Finally Get Respect

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. While we remember all our servicemen who nobly fight for our country, let us not forget the more than 13,000 members who were discharged since 1993 from the military for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
It has been less than two months since the military’s eighteen year-old policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”(DADT) of the Clinton-era came to an end. Today, GLB Armed Force members can serve without keeping their sexual orientation a secret.
GLB service members have finally won their personal battle within the U.S. military. May they the United States of America with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Making Nice

Your teen has been in school for almost a month now. As a parent, you worry about him being treated as an outsider. Is he being bullied? Does he only hang out with only girls? Are his only friends, like him, forced into a segregated minority of gays and lesbians?

What is a parent to do? How do you make sure that your gay or lesbian child mainstreams socially with the straight kids in their middle or high schools? If he/she joins a Gay-Straight Alliance, will she make lasting friends with the straights? How can you ensure that your child at lunch will sit with the straight kids and not be relegated to a table deemed “losers”? You can’t hover like a helicopter parent over their daily lives.

What has worked for you? If you have a suggestion or comment how gay and lesbian teens can successfully navigate the heterosexual groups in their schools, please post here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Cuomo Has Wrought Let No Town Clerk Put Asunder

Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti at work

Deirdre DiBiaggio, who owns a Finger Lakes working farm, decided she wanted to get married to her lover of ten years, a filmmaker. So, she went to the Town Clerk’s office in nearby Ledyard, New York, to apply for a marriage license.

The Town Clerk, Rose Marie Belforti, declined. You see, Ms. DiBiaggio and her partner, Katie Carmichael are gay. Yet as of July 24, 2011, they were legally allowed to wed in New York State. Ms. Belforti, who has worked as Town Clerk for ten years, told the couple that they should make an appointment and return later when a deputy could issue the marriage license. If the couple had been heterosexual, would they have been told to wait? Was Belforti shirking her duties as Town Clerk?

The issue has divided Ledyard: a religious freedom claim by a local official against a civil rights claim by a same-sex couple. Belforti believes that the state’s Marriage Equality Act, the measure that approved New York’s same-sex marriage, violates her religious beliefs. She cites a passage from the Bible’s first chapter of Romans which, she interprets, condemns homosexuality as her underlying cause célèbre. To Belforti, state law protects her right to hold both her job and her beliefs.

But DiBiaggio and Carmichael believe that the law requires all clerks in New York to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Governor Cuomo is not sympathetic with Belforti and told a New York Times reporter, “when you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose.” The State Health Department issued a memorandum to clerks (two clerks resigned rather than comply with the law) that it is a misdemeanor to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

How do you stand on this issue? Should Rose Marie Belforti be reelected in November? Does the right to religious freedom give a person liberty over the law? If DiBiaggio and Carmichael are issued an apology and marriage license immediately, do those legal actions eclipse Belforti’s religious beliefs? Please post your beliefs here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Caspian Julius, Welcome!

The announcement read: “Baby and parents are doing well, baby has learned to cry already. No gifts please, just nice thoughts for Caspian, humankind, the planet, and the universe.”

Caspian Julius was born on September 30, 2011. I don’t know if he was produced by artificial insemination or adoption. Nor does the public. What we do know is he made headlines because he is the son of the first openly gay member of Congress to become a parent, Jared Polis (D-Co), and his life partner Marlon Reis.

In the baby’s photo, he looks earnest, with eyes wide open. Caspian wears a knit newborn cap and is swathed in an animal-printed blanket, typical accoutrements of infants. He looks innocent, but will probably be judged by those who deem his family of two “daddies” unconstitutional and blasphemous - an assault on “family values.” By his very existence in this modern family, he will become, if he hasn’t already, a poster boy for the religious right who regard marriage as solely a union between man and woman. Caspian, without lifting a finger, has become a symbol of controversy.

He is not alone. According to The Family Equality Council, an organization that advocates for LGBT families, there are one million LGBT parents raising two million children. Yet, Caspian will know that having two dads is different. Although studies have shown that children of committed same-sex couples fare just as well, if not better, than heterosexual couples, it will take more than his snowy village to raise Caspian. His well-meaning parents will have to fight for his acceptance in mainstream society, from day one.

Is it smart for same-sex couples to adopt if they know they are exposing their children to ridicule by mainstream society? Please post your answer here.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ding, Dong! The Wicked DADT Is Dead!

The Military Thought You Had To Be Straight to Shoot Straight

Gays in the military have been fighting an uphill battle since 1982 when The Department of Defense officially put in writing that “homosexuality was incompatible with military service.” Between 1993 with the Clinton era compromise “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the 2011 repeal of the ban, 13,000 service members were disgracefully discharged. Why? They engaged in homosexual activities while in the military or told someone about their sexual preferences. Gay men and women who were willing to put their lives “on the line” but not live life in the closet were fired at the alarming rate of approximately 1,000 per year. 

How does the Repeal Affect Gays in the Military?

The lifting of this 18 year-old ban this week affects an estimated 48,500 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who serve on active duty or in ready reserve in the U.S. military, while an additional 22,000 are in standby and retired reserve forces.These 70,500 service members make up 2.2% of the total force according to the most recent findings from the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. in Los Angeles.

“No One Should Have To Die In the Closet”— Mayor Sam Brown of Portland, Oregon

DADT violated equal protection and first amendment rights of service members. Put more simply by Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen in a February 2010 speech in favor of repeal: “it was fundamentally everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform. We are better than that.”

The American Public Knew Better

Despite Republican senators Orrin Hatch and John McCain’s opposition to the repeal, 57% of U.S. citizens supported an end to the military ban on gays as far back as 1992.

What’s Good for Gay Service Members is Good for the Military

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which repealed DADT, could save $200 million and add 41K troops to the U.S. military. A recent Cornell University survey confirmed that keeping DADT would have been a bad choice for the military. Gay and lesbian study participants who were asked to conceal their sexual orientation performed 20% worse on spatial reasoning tests and 50% worse on physical endurance tests as compared to those who were not given this instruction.

Serving Openly, but not Equally

While this week’s repeal is a step towards dignity and respect for gays in the military, the fight for equal rights is far from over. The next battle for homosexuals is to convince the Pentagon to give federally-financed benefits to same-sex couples in the military. Federal  DOMA or Defense of Marriage Act prohibits health insurance, campus housing, certain death benefits, legal counseling, to name a few of the 100 benefits denied to gay couples in the service.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parental Homework for Anti-Bullying Defenses

On my last post, I gave readers tips and links for parents to practice anti-bullying defenses at home with their teen. Now, I am giving you additional suggestions from Donna A. Henderson, Professor at Wake Forest’s Counseling Department:
  • To find out what’s going on at school, and what types of situations your child may face, have your child describe events that he/she interprets as bullying.
  • Who did what, what happened afterwards, what the school has said about bullying, and what to do when it happens.
  • Next, talk about what works and what doesn’t in those situations. Ask your child whom he has seen handle the bullying well and who hasn’t responded appropriately.
  • Come up with a 2 or 3 step reaction process that’s easy to remember. You might practice his/her defense.  
  • Emphasize that an adult should know what happened and that this shared information is not “tattling.” Mind this is a tough conversation as teen want to protect their parents while proving they can handle their world by themselves.
If you have had any successful experiences with preparing your child at home for harassment at school, please post a comment.

    Anti-Bullying Tactics Begin At Home

    Whether it's “cyberbullying,” or bullying in person, Lisa Furst, LMSW, Director of Education with the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC), has these suggestions for parents to practice—yes, practice. Here’s her homework for parents:
    • Talk daily to your teen and find about their school lives and their relationships with friends and peers.  
    • Listen thoughtfully to their answers. Your teen will then know you are interested in his/her emotional state and will later come to you when upset.
    Learn the Signs of Possible Bullying
    • Signs of physical injury
    • Torn clothing or broken or "lost" possessions
    • School avoidance
    • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches to excuse him/herself from school.
    • Mood changes that exceed "usual" mood fluctuations of teenagers. Note increased episodes of tearfulness, anxiety, irritability or apathy.  
    Teach Positive Ways of Protecting Themselves
    • Walk away from a bully.
    • Avoid physical aggression which may escalate the situation. 
    • Practice verbal assertiveness such as saying "Stop!" to a bully.This demonstrates that the bully's behavior is intolerable. 
    Get Professional Support When Needed
    If your teen is showing the following signs, seek professional help:
    Learn more about this topic in my next blog post, and please share your experiences in the comments.                                                 

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    When the Fail-Safes Fail at Your Child’s School

    Last week, I wrote about the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which promotes safety in schools through its programs. Unfortunately, as a parent, you can’t assume that these programs will be put into play. Many schools don’t have the interest or the comfort level to implement those GLBT regulations often regarded as inciting controversy.

    The Law and You
    According to the United States Constitution’s 14th Amendment, all students are entitled to equal protection under the law. It’s too bad that some schools don’t feel obligated to intervene on your GLBT child’s behalf. According to several surveys, 4 out of 5 gay and lesbian students say they don’t know one supportive adult at school. And they report that 97% of the time the teachers ignore student harassment.                                         

    Educate the Educators                                                
    Then, how can a parent safeguard his child?
    1. Your first step is to check your school’s policies.
    2. Then make an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss your child’s abuse.
    3. If you don’t get results from the teacher, next talk to the principal.
    4. Every time you/your child speaks to a teacher or a principal or school official or he/she files a complaint to a school administrator, keep a record. You’ll need them for your case.
    Your Allies Outside The School
    If teachers and administrators do nothing about the bullying, contact these GLBT-friendly organizations:
    Next week, I will share with you ways you can teach your child at home to stand up to bullies. If you have found any solutions to dealing with apathetic school officials or have any reactions to this blog, please leave a comment.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Reading, Writing, and Harassment

    Your gay child may ace Algebra I this year, but don’t think his social life will be as easy.  According to a 2009 survey by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), nearly two thirds of gay and lesbian teens feel unsafe in school.

    Unfortunately, untrained teachers, and even principals, in middle and high schools often don’t take action to protect your student from bullying or hurtful remarks such as “that’s so gay” meaning that’s so lame.

    Fortunately, parents have an ally in GLSEN. This leading national education organization fights to end anti-gay bias in K-12 schools. It has step-by-step guides to hosting educator, community training programs as well as age-appropriate anti-bullying measures such as Gay-Straight Alliances.

    To find a chapter near you, visit this website: GLSEN

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    No General Swim, Lanyards at This Camp. Just Drama and Horror Stories at the Campsites!

    While the “dog days of August” may seem like the perfect time to send your(gay) child to camp, don’t be tempted by ex-gay camps! You may be a Molotov cocktail of emotions at this time: sadness, fear, disbelief, guilt, shame, right? But whatever you’re feeling, don’t think your child’s sexual orientation is a problem that needs “fixing,”and can be solved by one of these brainwashing programs! Ask yourself why is it important for your gay child to become heterosexual in the first place!

    What are these “Pray-a-Gay Away” Camps?

    These boot camps are run by Christian ministries. They may sound good on paper, but they use behavior modification to make your child act straight and suppress his/her homosexual feelings. The camps operate on the premise that people are gay because of early childhood abuse and/or arrested emotional growth. Ionically, they arose in the 1970’s when the American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a “mental disorder.”

    Gay-to-Straight Seldom Works! Think “La Cage Aux Folles.”

    In 2009, the American Psychological Association concluded that

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Your Child Came Out, YOU Blew It! Tips to Recover

    Your son or daughter came out to you and you were so shocked that you were tongue-tied. Or, more commonly, you reacted by getting angry and saying things that smack of denial such as “You can’t be! You’re too young to know!” Studies have showed that 2/3 of parents who are caught off-guard do not take coming out stories well. Your child may have thought about his or her coming out for months, even years, but you, the parent, only has a split-second to respond to your child’s disclosure.

    If teens see that their parents are uncomfortable discussing gayness then they may conclude that there is something wrong about being gay. They may also decide that if being gay makes their parents feel so uncomfortable then they shouldn’t talk about it.

    So, how do you recover when the initial conversation whipped up a tempest of anxieties? It’s easy for a parent to take his child’s coming out personally and react with hurtful comments. As a parent, you want to

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Superman Comes to New York's Gay Pride Event

    Happy (and famous) faces at the Gay Pride Parade on June 26th 
    (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
    The New York Times and New York Post awarded Governor Andrew Cuomo “rock star” status when he came to New York for Pride event on Sunday, June 26th. It was more like Mighty Mouse ”saving the day.” In the eleventh hour in Albany, with a close vote of 32 to 29, the legislation of same-sex marriage passed in a Republican-controlled Senate. The Governor, a “super” politician had kept his word.          

    Why Did It Pass?
    Two years prior, the legislation was defeated. The shift last week was precipitated by the growing constituency within the Republican party who supported and donated to the cause. Four Republican senators: Alesi, McDonald, Saland, and Grisanti bucked their traditional party’s anti-gay marriage stand to do what they knew was right.  A May 2011 Gallup poll bore their views out:  an opinion change within the American public: 53% of Americans believe that the law should recognize same-sex marriage(New York Times, June 27, 2011).
    Independent Mayor Bloomberg, who has a gay niece, went to Albany to rally Republicans to vote yes.  Celebrities like lesbian Cynthia Nixon, looking stunning in her sheath, testified in Albany. Singer Rufus Wainwright entertained at dinners on the Upper East Side to raise money, and actor Neal Patrick Harris, had a gazillion-a-plate event.  Even President Obama, who is still “evolving” was in town, but has upset the gay community because he has not come out for gay marriage.
    Although Mayor Bloomberg was at the Parade, City Council Leader Christine Quinn with her partner-of-ten-years lawyer Kim Catullo, the hero of the parade was Cuomo who certainly received more than 15 minutes of fame.
    “I Love a Parade!”
    The day was pluperfect for the Pride event in New York City:  70’s, sunny, with none of the violence that the San Francisco pride had. The crowd was extremely organized into groups that started on East 39th St. and ran down to Greenwich Village. Still “high” from the Victory, they were a motley group: lesbians with tee shirts that read "No one knows I’m a lesbian.” The gay men ranged from older clean-cut types to younger youth with rainbow hair spiked into a Statue of Liberty “do,” black leather clad half-naked men walking cheek by jowl with straights waving their rainbow flags. There were drag queens splattered with body paint on floats. Everyone was unified in celebrating his/her identity, but came to thank Cuomo who was basking in his glory as a hero. 

    Not Everyone Was in Favor

    Of course, not everyone was thrilled with the outcome of the vote.  Archbishop Timothy Dolan, as could be expected, stated that the Catholic church considers marriage to be only for a man and woman (even though the bill excused religious organizations and other non-profits from performing  same-sex marriage). Governor Christie from nearby state of New Jersey said he would not change his state’s civil unions. And of course, Preacher/Senator Ruben Diaz, even though he has a lesbian relative, could not be persuaded to change his vote to the yes column.
    The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage.  Twenty-nine states have constitutional amendments that define marriage as between a man and a woman and twelve states have laws that ban recognition of same-sex marriage.
    Just a Beginning….
    Great strides were made in the largest of the six states that allow gay marriage. Many people know or are related to an openly gay person, yet there is an uphill battle for gays and lesbians in the rest of the country. When will GLBT persons be able to get married in all fifty states? Now, that calls for a celebration!
    How would you feel if your gay or lesbian child wanted to get married in a state that prohibits gay marriage?

    The Normal Heart Had MY Heart Thumping

    Larry Kramer and Daryl Roth (producer) accept their Best Revival Tony

    I never saw the original 1985 play “The Normal Heart.”  At that run at the Joseph Papp theatre, Joel Grey (who now directs the current play with George C. Wolfe) played the confrontational Ned Weeks, the protagonist. Its revival, which I recently saw, was voted “best” on Broadway at this year’s Tonys, and stars Joe Mantello of “Angels of America” fame as Ned Weeks, a.k.a. Larry Kramer, Normal Heart’s author. (See some of the moving awards acceptance speeches at the end of this post.) This revival closes on Broadway today (7/10/11) after a glorious 12-week limited run. I hope it'll come back someday soon.

    What’s Eating Larry Kramer?

    Kramer, in real life, and portrayed on the stage, is a bristly Gay Rights activist from the 1980’s, who, with his gay friends, are focused on raising awareness about an unidentifiable disease which is killing off their friends.  The time is 1981-84 during the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis before the development of antiretroviral drugs.  It’s the swinging 80’s when casual sex was rampant in the baths and discos that many gay men frequented.  

    Weeks’s loud efforts are met with indifference by the press and Mayor Koch during this calamitous era when this mysterious disease was known as a “gay plague.” To make matters worse, there is infighting among the closeted members of Week’s grass-roots organization which later became The Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

    In the play, Kramer’s live-in lover, the closeted New York Times writer Felix Turner, dies of Kaposi’s sarcoma, a once-rare form of cancer, as a harbinger of HIV.  Turner, like other cast members, is a patient of Dr. Linda Laubenstein, a.k.a. “Emma” played by Ellen Barkin who won a Tony for this debut stage role. She is as frustrated as Weeks is and cannot get funding for this mysterious disease that has her baffled and advocating abstinence. According to Kramer, but not stated in the play, ex-President Ronald Reagan did not publicly utter the word “AIDS” for seven years.

    The Grim Reaper is Busy

    When the play starts, there are forty-one AIDS-related deaths on the defining white brick wall of the stage. It records he history in raised letters, like Braille, of the AIDS disease. By the play’s end, the numbers have mushroomed and can no longer be contained on the stage; they have insidiously crept beyond the stage’s boundaries.

    Young Gay Audiences Don’t Know From ’80s Plague

    Powerful, intense, with good acting and writing, this play moved the audiences to tears and standing ovations. The young gay couple next to me did not know of the political scene of the 80’s and the beginning days of this plague; it was an eye-opener.  They had grown up in a more complacent world where HIV was not considered a death sentence, but could be handled with a cocktail of drugs, protease inhibitors.

    30 Years Later, Still an Uphill Battle
    Yet, this year marks thirty years since the discovery of the first case of AIDS that took more than a quarter-of-a-million lives. There is still no cure. The money spent on AIDS is still miniscule considering there have been 35 million deaths and seventy-five million infections world-wide.  The Centers for Disease Control Aid’s Prevention Center states that the majority of the estimated  56,000 new H.I.V. infections that occur each year are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infection. (New York Times, June 28, 2011). Shouldn’t we be paying more attention to this horrible disease and, like Larry Kramer, crusade for more funding and education?

    Have YOU spoken to your child about HIV/AIDS and safe sex?

    Following, some moving acceptance speeches from the Normal Heart winners at this year's Tony Awards:

    Neal Patrick Harris Offends This Theatre Goer

    Ex-Doogie Howser, M.D.’s Diagnosis of Broadway Audiences Makes Me Ill

    He’s adorable.  He’s talented: he can sing, dance, and act. He was named by Time Magazine as one of the magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010. He’s won Emmys and has a hit show “How I Met Your Mother.”  Yet, on the June 12, 2011th 65th Tony Award Show, the host Neal Patrick Harris offended a minority: me.

    His opening song “Broadway is not Just For Gays Anymore”  drew praise from the press and suggested he host the Oscars, yet to me, it was too edgy. As a theatre goer since childhood, who grew up memorizing the lyrics of my mother’s “Gypsy” and “My Fair Lady” albums, I don’t need to be serenaded by Harris that: “people from red states, people from blue:  A big Broadway rainbow is waiting for you!  Come on in and be inspired, there’s no sodomy required.” These X-rated lyrics are better suited for HBO or Cable T.V., not national television and could easily offend potential theatre goers who visit New York and want to see a Broadway show. 
    While the lyrics were clever, and drew guffaws from the theatre professionals, they were “in jokes” insulting the very audience who keep theatre alive. We know the theatre isn’t just for gays and Jews anymore. But why denigrate these minority groups, of which Harris is a member? Or knock  ” the cousins in from out of town you have to amuse, the foreign tourists and the beats of senior citizens and well-to-do suburbanites and liberal intellectuals.  (oh, that group is only really Jews and homosexuals).” These groups are buying tickets to the shows.
    Two-thirds of the seats in Broadway theatre are taken by women, like myself. The audience has remained status quo over the years. What has changed are the “out” actor’s acceptance speeches in which they thank their partner or lover. And the profusion of plays in recent years dealing with homosexual themes.

    This popular actor has been out since November ’06  yet his sophomoric observations about theatre attendees  were so “gay” (lame). I don’t know if Harris composed the lyrics or merely sang them, but Harris and the networks should remember their mission: to fill theatre seats.

    Have you talked to your kids about the media’s stereotypical representations of gays?

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    J. Crew Executive Mom Paints Son’s Toenails Pink in Ad and Conservatives See Red!

    Molly Ringwald might have looked “Pretty in Pink,” but so does J. Crew’s president Jenna Lyons’s son Beckett. Or so his mother thinks. In an ad sent to J. Crew customers a few weeks ago, J. Crew President Jenna Lyons is having a fun time painting her five-year-old son Beckett’s nails. It’s a lighthearted portrait of a busy J. Crew President spending “quality time” with her prepubescent  son on a weekend. The ad’s caption reads: “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun In neon.” (To see the full ad and an ABC News piece about it, click here.)
    The ad has created a backlash from social conservatives. Fox News’s Dr. Keith Ablow ran an opinion piece on the issue and Erin Brown of Media Research Center called the ad “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children. J. Crew does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the façade of liberal, transgendered politics.”
    Complaints about the ad are countered by Mara Keisling of the National Center for TransgenderEquality: “This is not how the world works and not how children work, and not even how trans advocacy works.” Well-known psychiatrist Jack Drescher, M.D., who happens to be gay, confirms “most research on gender identity and sexual orientation concludes that neither is a choice. Nor can they be shaped by a parent’s wishes.”

    What is all the fuss about? In today’s world, don’t hetero men wear pink ties? What sibling hasn’t had their nails painted by their brother or sister, played house with them or like my mother-in-law, when she was small, had her hair set by one of her four brothers?
    During the early 60’s, a man was considered “queer” if he wore an earring in one particular ear. Nowadays, heterosexuals are wearing piercings in both ears like rock stars or all over their bodies. Goth dudes wear nail polish. It used to be that only sailors had tattoes, now it’s a common denominator for the young, rich and poor alike. The world is adorning their bodies regardless of sexual orientation.
    For a child as young and innocent as Beckett, nail polish is not a political statement nor a rebellion against gender behavior. For a moment, it may be a connection to his mom. It won’t change his sexual identity, but it will have the power to evoke another fond memory of his time spent with her. 
    What do you think? Is painting a boy's toes with pink polish deserving of all the controversy?