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Posts Tagged ‘Proposition 8’

Turns out, you can’t pass laws taking away the rights of people you don’t like! Imagine that.  In a country literally built on the principle of inalienable equal rights, it has taken all this fuss to determine that the majority can’t take away the rights of folks they hate.  And we’re still going to have to ask a few more people before we can be sure.

Honestly!

But, that said, the world is a little less hateful today than it was the morning of August 4th.  I’m relieved and glad and celebrating.  The gay boys and girls in California are still singing.  I feel like I can celebrate the outcome of the November 2008 elections for the first time.  At the time, I felt so excluded from that exultant outcome by the electoral expression of hatred that is Prop H8.

But the end of a little more voter sponsored bigotry is a victory for every American, not just the gay ones.  Everybody is a member of some minority.  That’s right, no matter how mainstream you are there’s someone out there who hates you for it.   Save for the ideals that, in theory at least, protect us all, I could make a list of the groups I don’t like and put together a campaign to systematically take away their rights through grotty little ballot initiatives and special interest legislation.

For instance, were it up to me Rightwing radio and TV hosts would be off the air and forced to give up all their money and property to the poor, barred from speaking in public or publishing their hateful, untruthful and misleading words.  I’d give five dollars to Deport Rupert dot com.  And bottom feeding, fear mongers are a tiny group.  It would be easy to take away their rights.

What about hateful religious groups? The reason we have separation of church and state is actually not so churches can play politics tax free.   It’s because many immigrated to this country initially to escape the religious persecution where they came from.  That’s changed.  Today churches are in charge of religious persecution.  But, church by church, each denomination is still a minority.

What if a group set about to take away one specific denomination’s tax status, strip them of non church property, bar them from voting and prevented them from marrying or adopting in an effort to get their group to die out? Unlike being gay, religion is actually a choice.  Who would choose to convert to a religion when doing so would cost them their rights as citizens?  Another easy five dollar donation.  And, after the Mormons and the Catholics actually gave money to Prop H8 and promoted it from the pulpit, maybe even ten dollars of my money would be winding it’s way to Get-the-Hypocrites dot com.

I’m not saying that anyone should do any of this.  What I’m saying is that the rights of Pious Jerks and Radio Wingnuts are safer today, because a few more gay people fought for and won the same rights everyone else already had.

If you can’t take away my rights because you don’t like me, then I’m less likely to be able to take away your rights when I don’t like you.

It isn’t perfect, but it is a little less hateful.  I think that’s what this is all about.  The Constitution points out, we are seeking to “form a more perfect union.”

Today, that union seems a little more perfect, to me.

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Whenever I’m offered something that’s “Home Made” I always ask myself:  “Who’s home?”

I’ve been in some homes where I would not have eaten anything offered.  Got a Home Made Pie from a home with unemptied cat boxes, overflowing trash and a texture to the kitchen counters?  Well, I’ll pass.

I kind of feel the same way about the Family Research Council.  “Who’s family?” and perhaps more to the point, “What research?”

Theirs is the kind of family where Dad campaigns against equal rights for all Americans, particularly the gay ones, and then hires a young man half his age from Rentboy.com to accompany him on vacation.  Then, because dad is such a great guy, he lies about hiring the prostitute even though there’s home movies of them together at the airport.

If dad wants to take a hooker on vacation, I don’t really think it’s any of my business.  Mom’s maybe, but not mine.

But let’s say dad founded an organization called the Family Research Council, as George Alan Rekers did.  And suppose that organization is devoted to preventing Americans from having the right to marry people of the same sex, just as the Family Research Council does.  What kind of research would then convince Daddy George to pay someone of the same sex hired off of Hustlerboy.com to go on holiday with him? Was it these same findings that told him to lie about it? Or was it a different study?

Either way, theirs is a family reunion I don’t want to attend.

And what about Uncle Tony and his prayer group of Christian Law Makers? Was it research data or just good old fashioned Christian family values that brought AFC President, Tony Perkins together with those Godly legislators in a televised prayer circle to entreat the Lord for the poor health or, better still, the death of an ailing Senator so they could prevent poor people from having access to healthcare?

Whichever it was, I’d rather pass on Thanksgiving at their table.

Now, the good family folks at the Family Research Council want to ban groups they are prejudiced against from access to public transportation.  That’s right, not just the back of the bus, they want the right to keep other people off the bus entirely. Or in this case, off the train.

Just like in the good old days, the FRC family values bigots actually object to sharing public transportation with minorities they are prejudice against.  Fortunately, it’s gays they hate.  If they came out against black or Hispanic Americans on public transpiration they might actually have more to fear than sharing a seat.  (Head’s up though, research shows it was okay to be for whites-only drinking fountains not so long ago.)

What kind of family are these people a part of? And what is their research telling them? That God hates poor people? That Christ would pray for a man’s death to get his way? That calling for a return to Pre-Civil Rights Act restrictions on public accommodations and transportation is a good or even a popular idea?

My research indicates that none of those are particularly family values.  But then who’d order cat hair pie, right? They can hardly call themselves the Voice of Evil and expect to raise the kind of money they need to protect the health insurance industry.

So apparently, according to the latest Family Research Council data, it’s okay to take a rentboy on vacation, just not on the train.

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Prop H8

The closing arguments in the Prop H8 federal trial will be heard today.

Proponents big argument is that gay people would not be good parents.  I can hardly believe that teaching hatred and intolerance is considered a good parenting skill.  And what about the gay kids? They can hear you, you know? Is this an example of how you would take care of children?

This is personal.  It hurts when people get up in court or congress or on the campaign trail and say mean, ugly, untrue things about me.  I can only imagine how deeply it hurts scared little gay children, hiding in plain sight with no one to tell or confide in.

Maybe that’s next.  First we tell people who they can marry and then we tell them who is allowed to have children.  I don’t really see much difference.

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Words are how I enter the world.

I actually thought I was going to be an actor.  I still do a little bit.  I miss it a lot.  When I was a baby, before I could sit up on my own, I would recite poetry.  I did a particularly stirring Owl and the Pussycat, I’m told.

I loved the power of words from the start.  I could talk at six months but didn’t walk until I was three.  Why get up when you can just ask for it?  But alas, I could not seem to learn to spell or punctuate and still don’t know which sides the knife and the fork go on or which way is west with consistency.  And so I fell in love with the power of the spoken word.  Stage left and camera right never change no matter which way you’re facing, so I felt at home there.

It was acting that brought me to writing where I discovered the power of creation that exists there as nowhere else.  Writing brings whole new worlds into existence and invents the future through collective dreams.  There were no submarines when Jules Verne wrote 10,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea or pocket communicators when Gene Roddenberry put them into the hands of Captain Kirk and his crew.  Today we’ve been to the bottom of the Marianas Trench and our pocket communicators have become so ubiquitous they are arguably our single greatest addiction issue.

Still, writing is sort of an accidental career for me.  When I was in college I got a part time job as a writer.  Given my abilities or lack thereof,  I’d never pursued it.  I took one writing course in college because they made me.  I couldn’t diagram a sentence, still can’t.  I can’t even think why you’d want to.  It just never occurred to me that I might be qualified to write.

So, when everyone else in school was getting a job waiting tables — I tried to get one, too — I found myself in need of employment and short of employable skills.  In the free time that unemployment offered, I auditioned for a production of Wild Oats that was being mounted near my college.  I got cast.  The director, who owned an ad agency, hired me.  I wrote copy, ran errands and answered the phone often, as it turned out, at the same time.

I’ve been writing ever since.  Writing for advertising and public relations lead me to writing plays of my own — some for client trade shows, some just to live in my bottom desk drawer.  I began writing an arts and entertainment column for the Free Times, a local entertainment tabloid.  My words there got me hired to do arts and entertainment reporting on-air for the local NBC affiliate WIS with my own weekly feature Backstage with Eric Shaw Quinn — catchy right?

With the three jobs and continuing to act and direct, I found myself with Saturday mornings free.  An idea came to me one day born out of my own vague attempts to grow up — I’m still working on that one.  I’d always considered that being gay was more incidental than significant and I just figured that I’d have basically the same experience as everyone else save that it would be me and another man rather than me and a woman, but the rest of the details, I assumed, would be the same.

But when I didn’t meet him in college and marry him after graduation as I’d planned, I began to see that it really was different.  I wondered about some of those other details, not the least of which: children.

Would I? And if I did, what would that be like?

I began to explore those ideas on paper.  Yellow pads and pilot razor points, one page at a time, it became my first novel Say Uncle, the story of a gay man raising a child.  Given the prevailing political climate, it was some time before it was published.  But when it happened, the time was right.  I actually got my first movie deal with Propaganda Films before the book came out.  I even got hired to write the screenplay.  I got the chance to work with the legendary director John Schlesinger and to collaborate with the sublime Lewis Colick and the sublimely funny Amy Heckerling on the script.  Several drafts and several years later, with Amy stepping in to direct and Billy Crystal ready to play the lead, the studio was sold and my beloved Say Uncle was delayed in coming to the screen.  Someday.

The book was a critical success, but it was the readers that really made it worth the wait.  People came to my appearances to get their books signed and to ask me parenting questions! I could not have been more surprised or delighted.  Probably my favorite moment from the book so far came rather anonymously, in line at the San Francisco airport several years after the book’s publication.  I had been E-ticketed and presented my driver’s license to the man working at the desk.  Noting my name, but without any other explanation or a mention of Say Uncle, he began telling me the story of how he and his partner had adopted and were raising a little boy.

Imagining a future into being.

When I wrote the book, courts were taking people’s actual children from them because they were choosing to be true to themselves and live as out gay people.  Today “Gay-bies” are as common as tight tee shirts in the gay community.  I don’t think that Say Uncle caused that, but I hope it helped to.

With the movie deal off and my editor departed from my publisher, the sequel to Say Uncle languished.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had made bigotry a bumper sticker and there were growing numbers of people who called themselves Christians but who spoke mostly of hatred and intolerance.  My father, in an effort to help me see that there was maybe room in the tent for all of God’s children, pointed out to me the stories of the books of Samuel and the verse that inspired me to write my next original novel.

And it came to pass that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David

and Jonathan loved him as he loved his own soul.

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant,

because he loved him more than he loved his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:1 & 3

It has taken some years to complete this rather ambitious project, I knew nothing of 10th Century BC Israel, let alone the bible.  I’m not even Jewish.  So there was a lot to learn.

In the interim, I worked with the producers of the television series Queer as Folk to write two original novels based on the early lives of the show’s characters, Never Tear Us Apart and Always Have Always Will.  My work on those books brought me to a new publisher and the racy content caught the attention of my next collaborator.

I was driving home from the gym one day when the cell phone rang and a young woman asked me if I was available to meet with Pamela Anderson’s manager.  Well who could say no to that?

One thing led to another and before you can say “boob job” I was sitting across the lunch table from Pancho, Lefty and the girl they’ve taken along for the ride, Pam.  I wrote my next two books the hit Star and the unfortunate Star Struck based on a series of breakfasts with the then most famous woman in the world.  I was supposed to work as a ghostwriter, but Miss Anderson said no one would believe she had written the books and she did not have room in her closet for any more secrets.  She outed me on Jay Leno and very generously took me on a book tour quite unlike any I’ve experienced so far.  So, if you read Pam’s books and thought they were hot and sexy, that’s me.  In the end it wasn’t my favorite experience.  Still, I’m a New York Times best seller now, so there’s that for the obituary at least though by then I fear no one will remember what the New York Times was.

After the Pam project subsided, shall we say, I found myself with that pesky free time again.  It was a new century but despite huge cultural changes for gay people, civil rights were and are still not among them and the bible is regularly used to justify bigotry and worse.  That verse from Samuel came back to me and the time seemed right.

It’s several years later.  Star Crossed is written.  I know way more about the bible and the laws of Leviticus and ancient Israel than I’d ever thought I would.  What will happen next? I can only imagine.

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