Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gay letters to the editor

I’ve turned into quite an out activist! The preceding letter was one of a dozen I wrote and sent to various newspapers. It ended being printed in two newspapers. The day after it was in the Palo Alto Weekly, it also appeared in its rival, the Palo Alto Daily. So far, no adverse feedback. Several people at work that I have not explicitly come out to have said they saw my letter. I thanked them for mentioning it and added how important the issues are to me. There are probably a dozen others who saw it but are too polite to mention it.

I don’t believe the governor will sign the marriage-equality bill that the California legislature put on his desk. His ratings (poll numbers) are slipping and he wants a second term. However, I am very concerned about several proposition ballot measures that are gathering signatures for next year’s election. Not only would they ban same-sex marriage but it would also eliminate domestic partnership rights. “Voids and restricts registered domestic partner rights and obligations, for certain same-sex and heterosexual couples, in areas such as: ownership and transfer of property, inheritance, adoption, medical decisions, child custody and child support, health and death benefits, insurance benefits, hospital visitation, employment benefits, and recovery for wrongful death and other tort remedies.” If passed, this would be a hateful and bigoted law. It would make “out” gay people second class citizens. The scary thing for me is that in every state that this kind of law is put to a popular vote it passes. Minority rights have never been a popular vote getter.

Meanwhile, in the local Jewish press, the battle of the letters still goes on. First back in July, The J (the Jewish news weekly of Northern California) printed our wedding announcement. In August, they printed a wacko letter from nutcase who compared our announcement to pornography, Arab terrorism and bestiality. That was followed by four letters that supported us, our family and our marriage. After two more weeks, The J printed another letter from a reader who said shame on The J for printing the wacko letter in the first place. The writer said it was not an example of balanced coverage. In a snarky comment, the Editor replied homosexual weddings are controversial and illegal in California and banned by traditional Jewish law. This lead to another barrage of letters to the editor. The J selected one that pointed out that same-sex weddings are not illegal; they just are not recognized by the state and that many things are banned by traditional Jewish law such as interfaith marriages. The editor also added a final comment. They apologized for offending the GLBT community and wished E and I a mozel tov and a happy life together.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Days of Equality

A couple weeks ago the California legislature (both houses) passed the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act". The legislation protects religious freedom while ensuring equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples by allowing them to marry. This bill would remove the discriminatory barriers to equal protection under the law by returning the relevant California Family Code statutes to gender-neutral terms, as they were from 1850-1977. Governor Schwarzenengger has said he will veto the bill when it lands on his desk in the next couple days.

The HRC and Equality California have urged people to write letters to local newspapers. Today mine was printed in our local weekly newspaper, Palo Alto Weekly:

    Equal-rights awareness
    I am a gay Californian. My same-sex partner and I are proud parents to six kids. My spouse, E---, and I were married in a religious ceremony on June 19, 2005, in Los Altos Hills.
    Our wedding was performed by the head rabbi in our synagogue. It was a celebration of family and faith. The wedding affirmed the groundbreaking stand Reform Judaism has taken that same-sex unions are holy and valid.
    Although we consider ourselves spiritually married, we lack the legal rights and privileges given to opposite-sex, married couples with children. We are second-class citizens in the state.
    Early this month, the California Legislature passed a historic marriage-equality bill. The courage and integrity that our representatives have shown is especially moving. There is real harm in denying same-sex couples the right to marry. For the sake of all Californians, our governor must stand on the right side of history by signing this bill.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Date Out

Last Saturday night we decided to have a special date night. We were going to celebrate the anniversary of our “coming out”. I came out Labor Day weekend three years ago. E came out two weeks later just before Yom Kippur. We walked downtown to find a nice restaurant to have dinner. We tried to go to a new Italian restaurant but it was booked and had at least an hour wait. We then decided to see if we could get in to Café Fino. We had eaten there a couple times but not for many months. At 7:00 pm there were a several people at the bar but we were the only ones there for dinner. Nevertheless, they were scheduled to have a jazz trio start at 7:30. We figured it would probably fill up soon. The place is like a small, dapper supper club from the 30’s or 40’s.

We started with cocktails. E had a dry vodka martini and I ordered a Cosmopolitan. For Starters E ordered a Caesar Salad and I had the Caprese. We ordered a nice bottle of Chianti to go with our pasta meal. E ordered Putanesca (anchovies, Calamata olives, capers in spicy tomato sauce) and I had the Pasta Limon (chicken and spinach with pecans and sage). It was delicious. For dessert we ordered coffee and Cherries Jubilee. It was prepared table side on a special cart with a burner on it. The maître d' prepared it in a grand, showy fashion. Flames everywhere! After that we sipped port. All the while we listened to the jazz trio. They mostly played Gershwin, Berlin, Porter and Rodgers and Hart tunes. The pianist had a beautiful Mel Torme type of voice. We stayed for all four band sets.

We were going to leave around 10 pm but a couple came in that E knew. They were on the town celebrating their 22 wedding anniversary. They insisted we share a bottle of champagne with them. By this point we were feeling no pain. E and I even got up and danced together with the half dozen straight couples on the floor. We pretty much closed the place up and then walked home.

We were signed up to run a charity 10K the next morning but we blew that off and spent the morning in bed.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Kid Daze

Who could guess they would turn out that way!
Why can't they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids?
What's the matter with kids?
What's the matter with kids today?
--Kids from Bye Bye Birdie
The high school kid (HSK) came home Monday night after visiting some friends. He made it in by his curfew time of 11:30. He ran up stairs and slammed his bedroom door. This behavior is not too unusual. He has done it on occasion. An hour later he wakes us up with retching noises from the bathroom. The kid is drunker than a skunk. While holding the toilet, puking rum into the bowl, he denies that he is drunk or even had a drink. He doesn’t know what we are talking about! The next morning he still denies it. What is it with these kids that they just lie, deny and argue?
E spent a good part of Tuesday talking to the parents of the other boys involved. Everyone seems to be at a loss of what to do. Most of the boys have been grounded for previous infractions. HSK and his friends have enough grounding time to last well into their twenties! In addition, many of the kids have been told not to interact with each other because of the bad influence of the other.
The good news is that E has made contact with the other parents. Most of the parents are concerned about the same things…the welfare and safety of the kids. There tends to be a lot of hesitancy for the parents to talk amongst each other. Hopefully this group will now stay in contact when the issues come up again.
There is one thing E and I don’t understand. When we were kids and got caught doing wrong by our parents the first thing we usually did was to burst into tears and start blubbering we’re sorry. There was no denying or arguing. What happened to that?
In other kid news, the ex-wife calls Tuesday morning. The youngest kid (6 yrs) has fallen off the jungle gym at school and broken her wrist. She is doing OK and will have a cast for several weeks. However, she is the daring and adventuresome one. Can’t wait to see what she is going to be like as a teenager.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Vacation Theatre Beat

During our 200 mile trek across Northern England, we did not have an opportunity to catch any shows. However, amongst the ruined castles, abbeys and priories, we did visit one theatre. In North Yorkshire, in the town of Richmond, we visited the Georgian Theatre Royal. It is Britain’s most complete Georgian playhouse. The theatre dates back to 1788. It was just recently restored to how it looked in the early 1800’s. The theatre tour we took was fascinating. The legendary English actor Edmund Kean started his life on stage playing in this theatre. It also displays Britain’s oldest set of stage scenery, known as ‘The Woodland Scene’. It was painted on canvas, probably between 1818 and 1836.

Edinburgh’s International Fringe Festival. According to their website, the festival presented 26,995 performances of 1800 shows in 247 venues. We only saw 25 of them in 6 ½ days:
Theatre Productions
A Swell Party - Cole Porter, John Kane -Musical revue of Cole Porter's life; very well done.
Almost There - Foteini Georganta - Three person comedy about love, jealousy, death and moments that change your life.
Apocalypse the Musical - Heather Newton, Ernest Merry – Wacky and campy musical. A tale of milkman falling in love with a whore set against the backdrop of the end of the world. God and Satan bet the house.
Beautiful Thing - Jonathan Harvey - The story of sexual awakening of two lads in Southeast London. Also a 1996 movie. Excellent cast.
Bus! A Jazz Musical - Tim Norton, Ned Bennett – Musical drama that occurs during the British General Strike of 1925. Similar in scope to ‘Ragtime’.
Corpus Christi - Terrence McNally - Passion play told with a gay twist. Good college cast.
Dark Horse, Indiana - Eric Barry, Punch Theatre - Gay world where heterosexuality is outlawed. Coming to New Conservatory Theatre in SF this fall.
Mikey the Pikey – Joel Horwood, Ben Rous - A “chav” musical of the young, urban poor. A modern day British ‘Grease’. A hot topic; there were over a dozen productions about chavs at the festival.
Nuts Coconuts - Jordi Milan - The story of the ‘Gibraltar Follies’ variety theatre company. Don’t be late! Is it a (gay) revue or deconstructionist theatre? Great fun.
Out on the Fringe - Philip Giorgi, Stephen Hancocks, Heather Weir and various contemporary composers - A musical conversation about gay life and love. Done by the same company that did the Cole Porter show but not as well.
Parade - Alfred Uhry, Jason Robert Brown - Musical based on the trail of Leo Frank in 1913, Atlanta, wrongly accused for the murder of a child. Best show we saw at the festival. Hopes to move to London.
Shakespeare for Breakfast - William Shakespeare, Judith Quin - Classic characters vie to win on a Survivor type reality show. Fun and witty.
Songs for a New World - Jason Robert Brown - Tedious selection of songs about choices and new beginnings.
The Bicycle Men - Skullduggery Theatre Company - Funny musical tale of an American trapped in a small French town with a broken bike.
The Fix - John Dempsey, Dana P Rowe - Political musical about the rise and fall of a polished but dysfunctional American politician and his almost First-Family. Good material.
Tomfoolery, The Songs of Tom Lehrer - Tom Lehrer - Musical revue with Kit and the Widow, and Dillie Keane. Songs just as relevant today as they were 40 years ago.
True West - Sam Shepard - Drama of two brothers, a screenwriter and a drifter/thief, who can’t get along.
Twelfth Night -The Musical - William Shakespeare, various contemporary songwriters, Rhythm Shakespeare Co. - Snippets of contemporary songs interspersed. Plus a live mermaid and Shakespeare at the keyboards! Very enjoyable.

Other type of performances
All Wear Bowlers - Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford - slapstick absurdist comedy by two film clowns who fall off the screen.
Caesar Twins and Friends - Acrobatics and cabaret show by two hunky brothers. One jumped off the stage and onto my lap. We were the only gay couple in the front row. We were surrounded by women who could play the lead in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo - The music and marching of the massed Pipes and Drums of the Scottish Regiments and the Massed Military Bands. Bagpipes galore.
Kiki and Herb – Comedy act of a washed up (drag) chanteuse and her life accompanist.
La Clique Un Spectacle Sensuel - Late night circus cabaret of strange and sultry performers.
Out of the Blue - Oxford male a cappella group. Great harmonies and song selections. Wish I bought one of their t-shirts.
Rigged - A joint modern dance concert by Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and University of Nevada Las Vegas.
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