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?