Monday, April 27, 2009

Fred Phelps Protests RENT At High School


I've written pretty extensively on Corona del Mar High School's struggle to perform the musical RENT. First, they had to convince their bigoted Principal Fal Asrani to even allow a production of the heavily-edited school edition. Now, they've had to deal with famed bigot-nutcase Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, who flew across the country to protest the show.

The picture above is a church-member in front of the high-school with a bunch of amazingly nutty signs and below is text from the flyer they distributed to their congregation.
The Westboro Baptist Church protest flyer states: “Those who enable fag filth by such projects as Rent are also worthy of death (hell). (Ro. 1:32.) God Hates Fags and Fag-Enablers; Ergo, God Hates Corona del Mar High School!”
Dealing with such crazies can be difficult, but the students handled the protest perfectly, launching a 'Silent Counter Protest' along with other local peace organizations. I applaud them for their continued courage in the face of hate.

Here are some pictures from their successful protest, which outnumbered the bigots many times over.


I love the "God Hates Signs" sign.


Remembering Bea Arthur With The Golden Boys

I was sorry to hear that Bea Arthur recently passed away. She was an incredible talent.

Below is The Golden Boys, a short I directed last year with gay boys playing the roles of The Golden Girls. Jeffery Self plays Dorothy, the role made famous by Bea. Also featured are Kevin Curtis, Matt Sigl, and Cole Escola. It's a fun tribute.



We'll miss you Bea!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is Megan McCain Dumb?

Megan complained on her Daily Beast column that Karl Rove was following her on Twitter and that she was being "Twitter stalked" by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

On Karl Rove: He follows over 40,000 people on Twitter - I promise you Megan he isn't paying any attention to your tweets about indie rock.

On Joe Arpaio: The account that's stalking you is clearly labeled "Faux Joe Arpaio." Faux means fake Megan, it's not the real sheriff. Take a minute to look at his profile, it's obviously a joke.

This sorta silliness makes me wonder if she's deliberately lying or just plain dumb. What do you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mr. Broadway Report

Monday night's 2009 Broadway Beauty Pageant was a huge success! We raised over $33,000 for The Ali Forney Center, doubling the 2008 take. Symphony Space was totally packed and everyone had a wonderful time. The above picture is me with 2009 Mr. Broadway Anthony Hollock (Hair) and judge Charles Busch.

I was so happy for Anthony! He got the evenings only standing ovation after his talent, which Adam Feldman of Time Out NY describes as "a hilariously weird medley from the movie Fame: singing, prancing, playing trumpet and piano, baring his chest in mock trauma." Bravo Anthony!

For many great pictures from the night, including the swimsuit competition, visit Homo-Neurotic or After Elton.

I was thrilled that this year Jeffery Self (my friend & pageant creator) and I got to introduce Ali Forney Executive Director Carl Siciliano. Carl is one of my heroes and deserves much praise for his work with the center.

If you didn't make the pageant this year, you can still make a donation on-line to support Ali Forney's work





Monday, April 20, 2009

Mr. Broadway Is Tonight!


The 3rd Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant is tonight at 8PM! I'm headed to tech now, but I wanted to give you all a special $25 Ticket Code - RAC102. Purchase tickets here.

From today's Playbill:
Multiple Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh, currently back on Broadway in Irena's Vow, hosts the third annual Broadway Beauty Pageant April 20 at 8 PM at Symphony Space in Manhattan.

The evening, according to press notes, features "male cast members representing their respective Broadway shows, competing for the title crown through talent, interview and swimsuit competitions. The contestants will go head to head in front of a panel of celebrity judges, but ultimately, the final vote is in the audience's hands." Celebrity judges include Beth Leavel, Seth Rudetsky, Ana Gasteyer and Charles Busch.

The 2009 contestants are James Brown III (Mr. Little Mermaid), Adam Fleming (Mr. Wicked), Anthony Hollock (Mr. Hair), Tony James (Mr. Lion King) and David Larsen (Mr. Billy Elliot).

Past winners include Frankie James Grande (Mr. Mamma Mia) and Marty Thomas (Mr. Xanadu), who are both set to perform.

The Broadway Beauty Pageant is written and conceived by Jeffery Self and directed by Ryan J. Davis, with musical direction by Sonny Paladino. The evening is produced by Ryan J. Davis, Jeffrey Self and Wil Fisher in association with Tim Hur.

Proceeds will benefit the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Casting: Steet Lights - A New Musical

We're producing a reading of Joe Drymala's new musical Street Lights at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios, on May 15th. I'm directing and we're currently casting! Details below. Please submit or e-mail the notice to friends who may be interested!

(Picture is from the 2008 Street Lights concert fundraiser for Barack Obama at The Zipper. Photo by Cassie Corrigan.)

Street Lights, a new Hip-Hop Musical
Venue: Manhattan Theatre Club Studios
AEA Approved 29HR Reading (guidelines pending)
AEA/non-AEA
$100 Travel Stipend

Producer: Martin Giannini & Brett Hunter Levenson
Director: Ryan J. Davis
Book: Joe Drymala
Music & Lyrics: Joe Drymala
Musical Director: Sonny Paladino
Casting: Daryl Eisenberg Casting
Auditions (by appointment): 4/29 & 4/30
Rehearsal: 5/10/09-5/15/09
Performances: 5/15-5/17

More Info At: www.streetlightsmusical.com

To make an Appointment:
SUBMIT BY E-Mail At: streetlights@decasting.com
OR
SUBMIT HARDCOPY TO:
Daryl Eisenberg Casting
180 West End Ave, Suite 17G
New York, NY 10023
Attn: Street Lights

SEEKING:
[ MONIQUE WILLIS ]
17 y.o. female, African American, high school senior, singer and piano player. Alto/high belt.

[ ROCKY WILLIS ]
18 y.o. male, high school senior, African American. Monique’s bookish brother. Tenor. CAST - DO NOT SUBMIT.

[ DAMON CRUZ ]
Early 20s male, Puerto Rican. Handsome & Confident. A little bit dangerous. Tenor/Reggaeton singer.

[ X.RAY (RAYMOND) HOBBES ]
18 y.o. male, high school senior African American. Raps, sings backup. Charismatic. A dynamic and political DJ and performance artist. Rocky’s best friend. Must be comfortable with rap/spoken word performance.

[ REGINA CRUZ ]
15 y.o. female, high school freshman, Puerto Rican. Raps, sings alto. Damon’s younger sister.

[ MRS. WILLIS ]
Late 50s female, African American. Alto. Old school soul singer sound. Grandmother to Monique and Rocky, and a pillar of the community.

[ MR. KINNEY ]
Mid-20s male, Caucasian. A young high school choir director.

[ CAROL ARMSTRONG ]
Elderly woman, African American. Nonsinging.

[ SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS ]
35-60 y.o. male. Tenors, comfortable with R&B/pop music.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Backstage Live @ 9:45 AM

Watch me on Backstage Live, a web only version of CBS Saturday Early Show, today (Saturday) from 9:45-10:15AM EST. Tune in here or watch live below.


Was viewable live only.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What Would An Omnibus LGBT Rights Bill Contain?

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) is an openly gay freshman congressman who has been making lots of news lately. He just returned from Iraq, where he asked the American & Iraqi governments to investigate the murder of gay Iraqis. Now, he's talking about an omnibus LGBT rights bill.

What would such a bill include?
The nonprofit donors group eQualityGiving.org last month proposed that Congress tackle omnibus legislation that would include language regarding hate crimes, employment non-discrimination and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” as well as language from other LGBT rights-related bills.

The group’s proposed measure would also contain a clause requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships legalized by states.
Marriage rights wouldn't be included. Polis said that if the bill contained marriage language, “it’s a more difficult battle.”

President Obama is a supporter of gay Civil Unions. From the White House website: "Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights."

Could the omnibus bill contain some sort of gay civil union or domestic partnership language? It very well could. Recent national polls have shown majority support for civil unions, so it's not politically impossible. Excited to see how this develops.

Watch Me Saturday Morning

I'm appearing on Backstage Live, a web only section of CBS' The Early Show, tomorrow from 9:45-10:15AM. I'll chat with host Cali Carlin about topics ranging from Gay Marriage in NY to the upcoming Broadway Beauty Pageant.

Watch on-line here, Saturday from 9:45-10:15AM.

More On Gay Iraq

Gay City News shows why having independent gay papers are really important, with this great piece of journalism from Doug Ireland.

In addition to interviewing gay Congressman Polis, who recently returned from Iraq, Ireland speaks with Iraqi LGBT coordinator Ali Hili and gets new insights on life for gay Iraqis.
Ali Hili, the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT, who briefed Polis by telephone for his Iraqi trip, told Gay City News from London that "we have been able to confirm 63 more murders of gay people in Iraq just since December," bringing to nearly 600 the number of cases of LGBT Iraqis killed for their sexuality that his group has documented since the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of all Iraqi Shiite Muslims, issued a death-to-all-gays fatwa in 2005. But, Hili added, "Since there are parts of Iraq where we have no correspondents or members, we are convinced that the actual number of gays killed in these last months since December is much higher." At the same time, the BBC reported last week that according to Amnesty International "in the last few weeks 25 boys and men are reported to have been killed in Baghdad because they were, or perceived to be, gay." In an unusual move, Amnesty International wrote to the Iraqi President, Nouri al-Maliki, demanding "urgent and concerted action" by his government to stop the killings.

Hili told this reporter, "There is an intensive media campaign against homosexuals in Iraq at this time which we believe is inspired by the Ministry of the Interior, both in the daily newspapers and on nearly all the television stations. Their reports brand all gays as 'perverts' and try to portray us as terrorists who are undermining the moral fiber of Iraqi youth." Hili said the current homo-hating media campaign appears to have been sparked as an unfortunate reaction to an April 4 Reuters dispatch that reported: "Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, a local official said, and police said they had found the bodies of four more after clerics urged a crackdown on a perceived spread of homosexuality... The police source said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City on March 25, each bearing a sign reading 'pervert' in Arabic on their chests."
The whole article is well worth a read.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gay Marriage Reintroduced In New York

Earlier tonight, I appeared on Brooklyn News 12 to talk about Gov. Paterson's reintroduction of a gay marriage bill in New York. You can watch the interview here.

I'm writing a piece for The Huffington Post on the increasing use of gay marriage as a tool to garner leftist support, that should be posted on Monday. For now, I'll say that I'm always happy to see politicians advancing progressive legislation and I hope Paterson has some clue on how to get 32 votes in the Senate. I also hope this doesn't all blow up in our faces and set the NY gay rights movement back several years.

Flashback: Read my Huffington Post piece Gay Marriage In New York Unlikely in '09 or '10, from February 6th 2008.

News 12 Brooklyn Tonight

I was interviewed today about Gov. Paterson and Gay Marriage for News 12 Brooklyn. It airs locally tonight on Channel 12 at 5:30PM. I'll post a video if one becomes available.

Update: Posted video.

Remember, It's #TheaterThursday!

Last week's #TheaterThursday was a big hit! We had users participate from all over the country and I hope today is bigger!

It's easy to do - If you're on Twitter, give your favorite theater tweeters a shout-out, using the tag #TheaterThursday. Please spell theater with an "er" - a few people used "re" last time and that gets you lost in the search! Oh, and give me some love - @ryannewyork.

Also, don't forget the real life theater blogger meet up, hosted by Broadway's Ken Davenport on April 23rd in NYC.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Interview with Ray Kurzweil

Great four-part interview with Singularity author Ray Kurzweil. He even talks about the current recession, predicting that technological growth won't be affected - "Just look at the new iPhone." He also notes technological growth wasn't slowed during WW2.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming documentary on his life, Transcendent Man.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thanks Rep. Jared Polis

Congressman Polis, the first openly gay man elected to the U.S. Congress as a freshman, recently returned from a trip to Iraq. This was Polis' second trip to the region and he went to investigate claims of violence toward Iraqi gays.

During his tour in Iraq, the Examiner reports that Polis is also liaising with human rights groups about human rights violations that have recently been reported, such as the unconfirmed discovery of a shallow mass-grave of 25 gay Iraqis, and further cases including the death of two more men on April 4th who, again, unconfirmed but startling reports suggest were killed by a faction of the Iraqi military who, in turn, are blaming the killings on the families of the men, because, they say, they were so ashamed at a member of their family being gay.

The Denverpost also reports that Polis was given a letter that was allegedly written by a man who had been incarcerated and severely beaten until he confessed to being a member of the UK based LGBT rights group Iraqi-LGBT. The man, the letter went on to allege, had been sentenced to death by the Karkh court.
Polis wants action from both the American & Iraqi Governments:

"We will now wait and see whether the Iraqi government is serious about protecting the human rights of all Iraqis and what role our own State Department has to play in helping to protect this minority in Iraq," Polis said in the release. "I am most disturbed by allegations that the Iraqi government itself may be involved in the persecutions. This warrants an immediate investigation from both American and Iraqi governments."
Kudos to the courageous Congressman.

I've blogged about the Iraqi LGBT crisis recently.

Pictures From The Broadway Beauty Pageant Rehearsal


Yesterday we had our rehearsal for the opening number of The Broadway Beauty Pageant! Sonny Paladino, our music director, taught the contestants the opening number (by Tony-Winner Lisa Lambert & Glen Kelly) and Kenway Kua taught Christopher Gatelli's choreography. It went very well and it's shaping up to be a great year!

Mr. Broadway is on April 20th - buy tickets now!




Sunday, April 12, 2009

Atomic Theater

On Thursday I saw Trinity 5:29 at The Axis Theater on Sheridan Square. The play surrounds the creation of the first atomic bomb, oddly told as a "medieval cycle play."

That turns J. Robert Oppenheimer into an Adam character. The weird setup keeps the audience from ever really becoming involved in the story. The performances aren't any help either. Luckily, the show is under an hour and I can't complain about that.

It was my first time at the Axis and it's a beautiful space, one of the nicer Off-Off-Broadway venues that I've been to. My friend Adam said it looked like a theater designed for the X-Men with all the stainless steal. While I didn't like the play, Trinity had top notch production values; great lighting, set, and costumes. Great place to see a show, just not this one.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Burlesque!


This week Kevin and I went to see Big Apple Burlesque's long running noir-musical Last Call At The Starliner Lounge. They perform every Wednesday at this very cool, intimate space - Corio's Supper Club in Chinatown. This isn't a variety show, but a fan campy musical with a loosely constructed plot surrounding the murder of, who else, but a beautiful show girl. The music is top notch, they have a great jazz band.

The group has been performing burlesque in the city for five years and this show is their latest creation.

Broadway Brassy (Cara) is the show's star and I've known her since I was 15. We were both in a community theater production of Bye, Bye Birdie in 1997 in Salisbury, Maryland. I still remember that she had one of my favorite lines, "Let's have an orgy!"

I took the above picture on my iPhone during Curtain Call. That's Cara on the right!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Charles Busch To Judge Mr. Broadway

Charles Busch, a prolific actor & writer who was nominated for a Tony Award for his play The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, joins The Broadway Beauty Pageant this year as a judge. He replaces the already announced Michael Urie, who had to leave the pageant due to conflicts with his Ugly Betty shooting schedule.

Yesterday's announcement of Tovah and the new judges has gotten some coverage, including Playbill, Theatremania, and Broadway World.

Also, our hot contestants are featured in the current issue of NEXT Magazine, see the article here.

I recently went on a walk through of Symphony Space, where the pageant is being held. It's a really beautiful 800 seat theater, our biggest yet for the competition! I'm excited to work on such a big stage.

The Broadway Beauty Pageant is Monday, April 20th and tickets are available here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Broadway Bloggers Unite! It's #TheaterThursday

Twitter follow days are a great way to connect with like minded people in the Twitterverse. It all began with #FollowFriday and grew into #SameSexSunday (for gays) and #MusicMonday(for music). Hash tags make organizing via Twitter easy.

If you're on Twitter and you Tweet about theater - give a #TheaterThursday shout-out to your favorite theater Tweeters! Hopefully, one of them will be me - @ryannewyork.

For real life organizing, theatrical producer Ken Davenport is hosting a theater blogger meet up at Planet Hollywood in New York City on April 23rd. You can find all the details on his blog.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Twitter Revolution


10,000 young protesters against the Communist in Moldova organized over Facebook and Twitter. This story is pretty amazing.
While people in the U.S. were twiddling their thumbs, Twittering about plans to see Fast and Furious or run to the grocery store yesterday, thousands of Moldovan youth were busy using the social messaging network to assemble a massive rally in response to Sunday's election results and the country's bust economy.

Protesters organized using Facebook and the Twitter tag #pman, which stands for Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, a large square in the capital city Chisinau, where the demonstrators gathered.

The protesters, some of whom pushed their way into government buildings, were reacting in part to the weekend's parliamentary elections, in which the Communist Party won half of the votes – enough to make changes to the constitution and select a president. The European Union recognized the election as legitimate, but some maintain that it was fixed. As the demonstration – and live Tweets – increased in fervor, Internet was cut off in the small eastern European country's capital Chisinau, and by this morning police there had re-established control of the major offices, according to The New York Times.

Ukraine protests in 2004 and Belarus protests in 2006 were bulked up by cell phone messages, the Times notes, but texting seems to be giving way to social networking sites as the preferred method to distribute subversive communiqu├ęs. Moldova's current government – led by President Vladimir Voronin, who has been in office since 2001 – however, shows no signs of ceding to the opposition.

The Times reports that in a televised speech Voronin said the rally "well designed, well thought out, coordinated, planned and paid for." Viva la Twitter, indeed.


The authorities had to cut off the Internet!

One of the great things about Twitter is that it can be operated over your cell phone via text messaging, so the internet isn't even required.

NY Times On Iraqi Gays

Last week I asked gays to be mindful that despite victories in Iowa (and now Vermont & D.C.) we still had a long way to go to provide the most basic human rights to gays in The Middle East.

My piece was met with more scorn that I expected. One reader told me that we need to mind our own business! I truly hope isolationism is not the lesson that the left has learned from the Iraq War.

Now, The New York Times has stepped up with a brilliant (yet horrible) piece on gay Iraqis. It's worse than I thought.

In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.

“Three of my closest friends have been killed during the past two weeks alone,” said Basim, 23, a hairdresser. “They had been planning to go to a cafe away from Sadr City because we don’t feel safe here, but they killed them on the way. I had planned to go with them, but fortunately I didn’t.”

The entire piece is worth a read for a look inside Iraq's developing gay culture. It's extraordinarily unfair of American gays to advocate for gays to come out and express themselves and then abandon them to be murdered by thugs.

Queerty has more on what you can do.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rock Of Ages



We went to see Rock Of Ages on Broadway last night. The 80s jukebox musical features the music of Journey, Styx, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia and many other bands that I'd never heard of. The crowd knew every lyric (I at least recognized most of the songs) and openly sang along while waving the plastic fake lighters handed out before the show.

Constantine Maroulis, from 2005's American Idol, stars as an L.A. newbie trying to become a huge rock star. He's perfect for Rock Of Ages and has the audience loving him from the start. I've worked with Constantine before, in Jacques Brel... when I assistant directed that Off-Broadway, and it was great to see him insomething where he could truly let loose.

He's joined by the wonderful Amy Spanger, who I've loved since I saw her as Maureen (she was amazing) in a D.C. production of RENT in 1998. Another standout is Adam Dannheisser, as the rock club owner, who nearly 'outdudes' Jeff Bridges here.

It's well directed by Kristin Hanggi, best known in NYC for Bare, with a very funny book by Chris D’Arienzo. They both get the tone exactly right for this sort of endeavor.

Rock Of Ages opened tonight on Broadway and it's already getting some really good reviews, even from The New York Times! It'll be rocking Broadway for a long time to come.

On a side note - you can drink beers in your seat! It's nice to be treated like an adult in the theater and allowed to sip a beverage while enjoying the performance. Other houses take note - it's 2009.

Trio Of Stars Announced For Broadway Beauty Pageant

We're thrilled to announce that four-time Tony Nominee Tovah Feldshuh will return to host this year's Broadway Beauty Pageant. Tovah was our first host in 2007 and can currently be seen on Broadway in the title row of Irena's Vow.

Joining the already announced judges (Seth Rudetsky & Michael Urie) are Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel (Drowsy Chaperone) and SNL's Ana Gasteyer. It's an amazing team and I'm looking forward to working with all of them.

The Broadway Beauty Pageant is Monday, April 20th and tickets are available here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Here comes Mr. Broadway!

The 2009 Broadway Beauty Pageant is fast approaching. It's on April 20th! Tickets are available and start at only $50. Proceeds benefit The Ali Forney Center.

Our title song, written by Glen Kelly (The Producers) and Lisa Lambert (Tony Winner - The Drowsy Chaperone), has been updated by them again this year. It's really funny! Watch this YouTube of the 2007 version, which is choreographed yearly by Christopher Gatelli (9-5, Altar Boyz).

Below are pictures of two of this year's contestants from Carol Rosegg's shoot last week.


Mr. Little Mermaid - James Brown III
Mr. Hair - Anthony Hollock

Being 27.

I turned 27 today. I've been dreading it since I read this article a few weeks ago,'Old age begins at 27: Scientists reveal new research into ageing.' Apparently, "our mental abilities begin to decline from the age of 27 after reaching a peak at 22." Looks like it's pretty much all downhill from here. This morning, I expected to wake up and get lost in my apartment but so far I seem okay.

London's Telegraph says that "Twenty-seven has long had negative connotations," because it is the "age at which many popular musicians died, including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain." Feeling lucky I don't have any musical ability.

Good things have happened to 27 year olds too, Kurt Vonnegut quit his job at GE to become a full-time writer and Henry David Thoreau went to live in a cabin on Walden Pond. Maybe I'll try something like that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Says Yes, We Can

Iowa's Supreme Court handed down an amazing unanimous decision striking down a 1998 gay marriage ban.
Equal protection under the Iowa Constitution is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike. Since territorial times, Iowa has given meaning to this constitutional provision, striking blows to slavery and segregation, and recognizing women’s rights. The court found the issue of same-sex marriage comes to it with the same importance as the landmark cases of the past.”
This is great news. No doubt that the cultural zeitgeist is changing and Iowa is on the right side of history. This is the best thing Iowa has done since giving Barack Obama a big win in the Democratic Caucus.

Yesterday, I blogged about the disconnect between the American gay rights movement and the big picture. My argument stands that gay marriage shouldn't be at the top of our agenda. Bob Ostertag's brilliant piece on The Huffington Post is well worth a full read - but I'll give you a taste.
The fact is most of us won't marry even if we have the right to. We are putting all our resources into winning a right that only the few of us in long-term conventional couple relationships will enjoy. What's more, we are creating a social climate in which young queers are encouraged to recast their vision of the relationships they seek to favor the married couple. This is not only a loss for the vibrancy of queer culture, it is a disservice to young people who will not be well served by their nuclear family ambitions. Just consider the high number of gay and lesbian divorces (yes, the rate is already high despite the fact that we have not even fully won the right to marry yet).

It is no secret that marriage isn't working for straight people. That's why religious institutions are so up in arms about it. The institution of marriage is in crisis. On what basis does anyone imagine it is going to work better for queers?

Through years of queer demonstrations, meetings, readings and dinner table conversations, about gay bashing, police violence, job discrimination, housing discrimination, health care discrimination, immigration discrimination, family ostracism, teen suicide, AIDS profiteering, sodomy laws, and much more, I never once heard anyone identify the fact that they couldn't get married as being a major concern. And then, out of the blue, gay marriage suddenly became the litmus test by which we measure our allies. We have now come to the point that many unthinkingly equate opposition to gay marriage with homophobia.

As Bob says, marriage is a largely failed social institution. We're talking 40-50% of marriages fail, no small amount. Marriage doesn't have anything to do with my life, I only know it as something my parents did before they got divorced.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Reasons To Be Pretty


Last week Kevin and I saw Neil Labute's first Broadway production - Reasons To Be Pretty. It's a solid play, not my favorite of Labute's work though. His first two movies, In The Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors were both explosive and exciting in a new way. His current stuff seems light compared to the major dark stuff he was writing in the mid-90s.

I guess he had to mainstream to make it to Broadway.

That said, Reasons... is a completely entertaining production that "confronts America's obsession with physical beauty headlong. Greg's tight-knit social circle is thrown into turmoil when his off-handed remarks about a female co-worker’s pretty face (and his girlfriend's lack thereof) get back to said girlfriend."

I'd have cut the intermission and 20 minutes out of it, there were times when I felt like the characters didn't have much to say. But, there was enough sharp humor to keep me interested. Steven Pasquale's character, Greg's womanizing friend, was my favorite part of the show. I was captivated by Steven's performance.

Reasons... officially opens tonight on Broadway.

Gays Should Care More About Iraq Than Iowa


In the last couple hours I've gotten several messages on Facebook about Friday's impending Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage. Several of the activists groups I loosely belong to are planning a "celebration or protest" rally Friday evening in New York's Union Square from 6:30-7:30PM. The ruling is important, but it's likely to fall short of the full marriage rights that we're hoping for.

On the other side of the world, the idea of gay marriage is a total fantasy. In Iraq, over 100 gays have been scheduled for execution. They will be murdered by their government for being born homosexual.

Anyone brave enough to be a gay activist in Iraq is hunted down and murdered. One such activist group, Iraqi-LGBT, says:

“Raids by the Iraqi police and Ministry of Interior forces cost our group [to the extent of] disappearing and killing of 17 members working for Iraqi-LGBT since 2005.

“The death penalty has been increasing at an alarming rate in Iraq since the new Iraqi regime reintroduced it in August 2004.

“In 2008, at least 285 people were sentenced to death, and at least 34 executed. In 2007 at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 were executed, while in 2006 at least 65 people were put to death.

There isn't anything wrong with caring about gay marriage, it's certainly something we should work toward. But scheduling a rally to protest (or celebrate) the decision of Iowa's Supreme Court in the face of gay genocide in Iraq, rising HIV rates among young gays, and the increase in gay youth homelessness seems fairly trite to me.

Bottom line: It's time for the gay civil rights movement to expand it's agenda.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Clinton Doubts God Paints Pictures On Earth

I feel sorry for U.S. Politicians who walk the delicate balancing act of being committed to reason and pragmatism, while also believing that paranormal forces govern Earth from a Celestial Kingdom. Lord knows, I could never do it.

Hillary Clinton got herself in some trouble last Thursday when she was in Mexico, while visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Catholics believe: "The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted by Mary on the tilma, or cloak, of St. Juan Diego in 1531."

Clinton asked Msgr. Diego Monroy, the rector of the Basilica, "Who painted it?" He replied "God!" I wish I could have been there to see the look on her face!