Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today on Bilerico: She Prayed For Love, And Guess What?

Loved receiving this letter:

Dear Father Tony,

My name is Karen.  I am writing because you were recommended to me by a friend of mine.  I have hit a spiritual crisis.  I'll be brief.  I am Catholic. I am bi-sexual.  I am marrying a transgendered woman.  I can't believe I just wrote that.  I just wrote that.  My family has been Catholic since the 1500's in France.  I can't be anything besides Catholic.  My greatest fear is that now it will be discovered, not by my family, not by my friends, but by a church.  I ceased going to mass when our relationship began almost three years ago almost entirely.  I think I've been a total of three times in as many years.  I feel torn in half.  I sound insane to people.  I love God.  I love the church.  I love this woman.  I can't, it seems have my soul and my heart enter a room without colliding.... 

For the rest of the letter and my response, head over to Bilerico.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All Christina Rodriquez Ever Wanted Was To Be A Cop

“It’s all in my high school memory book where I said I wanted to become an undercover agent, a detective and a member of a SWAT team. I accomplished my goals. Now I’m 40 and things didn’t work out the way I thought, but I know who I am and I have never been happier.”

Christina Rodriguez is able to say this wistfully but without anger or bitterness while describing her life as a Hollywood, Florida policewoman in a profession that some might call a deck stacked against her because she is a woman, a Latina and a lesbian.

Originally from the Bronx and of Puerto Rican descent, Christina grew up in south Florida where she was a popular girl who had a passion for physical activity and for helping others. She did not realize her passion for women until she began dating one within the ranks in 2003.

Check out the rest of my article in the latest SFGN.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Practicing Safe Ex

(A hat tip to a friend who suggested this subject and title but had only examples of horribly Unsafe Ex illustrating what to avoid but not what to practice.)

As the highest form of animal life on the planet, we ought to wonder why no species performs worse than we do at ending relationships. In our evolution, have our relationships become too complex for us to handle? Have our pairings evolved (devolved?) beyond our natural capacity to manage them? If so, we ought to do one of two things: improve the quality of our relationships (our general and ordinary preoccupation) or master the fine art of becoming an Ex, which is the subject of this post.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Best Job I Ever Had

1976. Paul VI created a batch of new cardinals. In that ceremony, I was given the best job I ever had, and one that made me so deliriously happy, I could barely keep from laughing even during its execution. (Please keep in mind that this was seven years before Vanna White. I had no role model.) I was assigned to carry a silver tray holding the scarlet birettas to be conferred upon the heads of the new cardinals. I had to make several trips up and down the steps to the throne to refill the tray. I had to kick forward with each step to make certain not to trip on my own cassock. ( I had, in my childhood, watched televised pageants in which contestants in gowns employed this trick.) One unforseen problem. That silver tray was extremely heavy. While I stood by Paulo as he emptied it and took his time whispering sweet things to each baby cardinal, my arms grew weak and I began to break a sweat. It took heroic efforts to keep from dropping the muffins or passing out. I managed because I am a trouper. As I glided to and fro, a verse from the Beatles' Penny Lane looped through my mind.

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she's in a play
She is anyway

He's Been In Our Bedroom For A Decade

Reading this, reminded me of this.
We have had an Yvon Goulet painting for more than a decade. Hung on our bedroom wall. Straight visitors and relatives getting the house tour pretended not to see it. Two weeks ago, in front of an art gallery in Montreal, I met a man whose face is in our painting. The meeting and the conversation that led to this disclosure were entirely by chance. He is an acquaintance of someone we had just met. I think he's easy to spot in the painting. Also in the painting is the legendary Mado LaMotte whose annual outdoor extravaganza, Mascara - La Nuit des Drags we attended during that same trip. (Mado has just released a new album, Full Mado - Le Remix Album.) Everything is just as we left it.

Balkan Beat Box - What Kind of Music Is This?

Over on QNY, The Baad Lamb takes you to Lincoln Center Out Of Doors for some incredible live music that defies definition. Is it Klezmer/Rap/World Beat? And you should definitely go past the break to watch the videos of The Balkan Beat Box led by hot Tamir Yosef.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fortunato Depero

Look at this collision of images arranged like postage stamps in an album and feel the euphoria of futurist Fortunato Depero. The one question we are usually incapable of answering about ourselves is why we are each drawn to a particular style or dialect or sound or color scheme. What is it about Depero's work that gives me that good feeling? What is it about the cadence of southern American fiction of the last century? Why the Mamas and the Papas more than the Beach Boys? Why Laura Nyro? Doctors can tell you why your head aches, but they can't tell you why your heart knows that the only place you'll ever get a decent night's sleep is in the impeccable feng shui of the attic of the Chrysler Building.

Why am I sure that no car is more beautiful than the 1964 Buick Riviera? In marlin blue, of course.
It is said that all artists inescapably fashion replicas of themselves. But if we are mystified by our own references and by our output, is it safe to conclude that we will never really know ourselves?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Everything is beautiful in Italian

One of a series in which Italian dramatic actor Vittorio Gassman reads mundane things such as the menu, the phone book and the eye chart. He was briefly married to Shelley Winters in the 1950s.  Their union disintegrated commensurate with the increase of their abilities to speak each other's language.

What You DON'T Need To Have Faith, plus my Montreal scuffle..

There are several good ideas to take home from this NYTimes piece by Simon Critchley.

Can a non-Christian or a non-believer have a "Christian" faith?

He talks about the gospel account of the Roman centurion who had the sick child and asks Jesus to cure him, and Jesus says sure, let's go, and the centurion responds that he is a Roman soldier and therefore not worthy to have Jesus come to his house, but all he has to do is snap his fingers and the kid would get well, and Jesus is really impressed and says something like I've been all over the place and never met anyone with the kind of faith that this "unbeliever" has.

The centurion is an interesting character, and one who is in stark opposition to those who espouse what Critchley calls the "triumphal evangelical atheism of the age". I have friends who wish I were more of a triumphal evangelical atheist. Like them. Their zeal makes me uneasy. Wouldn't want to become the flip side of a coin I despised....

The true Christian might be the one who - maybe often, maybe rarely - has the faith experience, and is not necessarily the one who is baptized and participates in the routine of a church.

Critchley (and Soren Kierkegaard, the theologian about whom he is writing) also talks about the "rigor" of love. Love isn't really a coddling. It is more of a jolt.

But the rigor of love is not the rigor of church membership. It is a personal sentiment. It is not necessarily found in baptism. The centurion didn't get baptized in order to receive his kid's cure and Jesus didn't seem to establish or even imply that this would be owed as the price of the cure. (This, incidentally, is where I drift into the rapids of Catholic heresy. Fasten your seatbelts, even you Protestants. There's many a Christian church that would tell the centurion that unless he were to be formally baptized, yadda yadda fires of hell yadda yadda.)

I particularly like the invoking of Paul to the Romans 13:8 "Owe no one anything except to love one another". That is not a verse of Paul that is commonly quoted by evangelical right wing Christians. It's a little too freeing and precarious for them.

I am definitely like the centurion. Except that if Jesus had agreed to come to my place, I'd have said yes, cleaned up, taken photos and made video.

Speaking of video, our recent trip to Montreal was delightful with only one tense moment. On a pilgrimage to the gorgeous central offices of The Bank of Montreal to visit the account I had established there during the years of our residency in that city, we thought we'd inspect the interior of nearby Notre Dame basilica. An older man and his wife were ahead of me and were turned away because they could not or would not pay the five dollar admission fee. Much more timid than I about the situation, they mumbled something about being charged to pray in a Catholic church. And we were off to the races.

Canon law is either vague or specific about this depending on your read of Canon 1221: "Entry to a church at the hours of sacred functions is to be open and free of charge." This canon allows a pastor to lock his church when it is not in use, but this basilica trespasses church law by establishing an entrance fee to extract money from both Catholic and heathen visitors, proving once again that wallets more than souls constitute the appetite of Catholicism. There is no sign that says entry is free if you want to pray, or that a donation is desired but not mandatory. There is only one constricted entrance for the public and it is where you get fleeced. This church also makes a secondary misinterpretation of the canon when they make exception for anyone wishing to pray. The canon does not refer to private internal personal prayer. It refers to scheduled liturgical activities. Getting into legal squabbling is of no value. What is valuable is the fact that this entrepreneurial church recognized a way to derive money from Montreal tourism. Its hunger for money and its admission booth eclipses any obscure crucifix that might hang within.

What you don't see in the video is that the elderly couple followed me into the church on my heels without paying. Once inside, they thanked me for saying what they felt. I was, however, immediately accosted by two very large men who had been summoned by the feisty lady at the door. They had the nerve to say that since I had entered the church without paying and that since this would be permitted only if I were going to pray, that I now had to demonstrate my act of prayer to their satisfaction! They also asked me to follow them into a side chapel where I could make that demonstration of prayer! The ten minutes devoted to this encounter was about all I had appetite for. Point made, we left the church (which is really a squat and gimcrack cathedral not worth seeing and certainly not worth paying for)  and walked out into the sunshine of the heathen but free Montreal streets.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The People I’ve Slept With – A Crayon Mona Lisa

What is it about gay indie films that keeps us coming back despite frequent disappointment? Their style is usually not refined because their budgets are small and their makers are relatively inexperienced with the machinery of filming. Usually, their subject matter is naïve love and first awakenings because their makers are often young and inexperienced as lovers.

When I watch an indie film, my expectations are therefore low, but I always hope to find something of promise that will bode well for future viewing. I hope to be arrested by writing that is not studied in a popular style, by unsophisticated but clever cinematography, by surprising directorial perspective, intriguing new music and fresh artistry. I look for performances that are wise beyond the age of the actors delivering them.
The People I’ve Slept With is a charming romantic romp with some of those elements that I hope for in a gay indie film. It is about a young Asian-American woman named Angela who has a picaresque sex life and a best gay friend named Gabriel. Angela is an unknown/unshown artist who uses crayons and is a sexual conquistadora. Gabriel is sparkly cute guy with a winning smile and a twinkish mind that match like a sweater set on Archie’s Betty. Both of them change for the better in the course of the film. If the maturity lessons of the young are of no interest to you, you should skip this movie and rent Autumn Sonata, but I can give you several reasons for seeing The People I’ve Slept With.

(Read the rest on QNY.)