Friday, November 14, 2008


No Gays for a Day?

(courtesy of

Joel Stein

November 14, 2008

You wouldn't think gay people would need tips on staging a splashy event from Mexican immigrants. Yet since they lost the right to marry in California, gays appear to have no game plan, marching around West Hollywood and Silver Lake with their old "No on 8" signs, which makes about as much sense as holding a John McCain rally next month at John McCain's house.

That's why I'm declaring Dec. 5 No Gays for a Day day. Patterned after the 2006 Great American Boycott organized by Latino immigrants, on that Friday, gays should stay home from work, school and do no shopping, to prove how crucial they are to American society. No Gays for a Day will demonstrate what it would be like if -- as so much of the non-coastal U.S. seems to desire -- gays just disappeared. You may not even know who all your daily gays are, so there's no predicting the impact. It probably won't shut down the restaurant industry like the immigrants did, but know this for certain: Dec. 5 will be a day that fashion does not move forward.

To gauge this strategy's effectiveness, I called Sonja Eddings Brown, the spokesperson for the Protect Marriage coalition that put Proposition 8 -- which defined marriage as exclusively heterosexual -- on the ballot. Brown, to my surprise, sounded defeated. I reminded her that Proposition 8 passed, so maybe she should pep up a bit. "Did we win?" she asked. "It doesn't feel like it." When I ran No Gays for a Day by her, Brown said, "I have so many dear friends who are such invaluable parts of this city and California who are gay." It was the boldest use of "some of my best friends are ... " I had ever heard.

My main concern about enacting my plan is that I'm not gay. And my previous attempt as an outsider to rally folks to a cause was a miserable failure: Right before I applied to college, I suggested Asian students protest being stereotyped as overachievers by skipping the SAT.

Also, I'm really lazy. So I called Amy Balliett for help. Balliett is a lesbian in Seattle who, just last Friday, created, which has organized an expected 250,000 people nationwide to march Saturday in protest of Proposition 8. Balliett immediately embraced No Gays for a Day as JoinTheImpact's second event. We worked out some kinks, like "pretending you are sick" for people who aren't out of the closet at work. For economic impact, we picked a Friday -- one of the big shopping days before Christmas and the day People, Us Weekly and Star usually sell out at newsstands. We also decided that because this is a general strike, not a directed boycott, even gay-owned, gay-patronized businesses should shut down. "I hate to say this, but we should even say, 'Don't even go out to the bars,' " she said. "I just don't know if the community can stick to that."

To get media attention, Balliett -- a search-engine marketer -- is going to use the social networking sites she used for Saturday's march. Although that sounded promising, I decided to hunt for a No Gays for a Day celebrity spokesperson. I chose Kathy Griffin because she's so well connected to the gay community and because it's hard to get Ellen DeGeneres on the phone at 10 p.m. when you're drinking and coming up with ideas like No Gays for a Day.

Griffin -- who is a spokesperson for the Foundation for AIDS Research, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Aid for AIDS and, I'm guessing, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS -- was thrilled to get the official celebrity spokesperson job. And she thought our impact would be significant. "Forget Pinkberry. It's over for them. They could go under in one day," she said. "If you do two days without gays, Bravo would go under too." People, we figure, will have no assistance at libraries or gym class and will madly butcher their hair. Subaru dealerships shouldn't bother opening. Entertainment journalism will take such a hit, TMZ will have to report hockey scores.

Griffin was getting more excited about our plan until I mentioned this might slow up the remodel of her house. "My remodel? What about the audience for my shows? The only reason I'm doing this is on Dec. 5, I don't have a show. I'd never do this if I had a show that day in Palm Desert," she said. Then -- and you'll have to trust me that this actually happened -- Griffin got quiet for a few seconds. "If my assistants don't go to work," she said, "who's going to go to the bathroom for me? I'm screwed on a day without gays. I've made a huge error in judgment. Me, Cher and Bette Midler are going to be the three most screwed Americans. We all might actually die that day. And what if Ryan Seacrest doesn't go to work? The state will collapse. This will wake up California."

But Griffin decided No Gays for a Day is a cause worthy of her suffering. Now the rest of the world will find out what Griffin has known all along: We need our gays. If it turns out I'm wrong, and we don't miss them, then as a married man, I can tell you this: The best way to keep them at home is to let them get married.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Everyday Miracle

I was driving home from babysitting for Lauren and Ellie tonight, and I saw the full moon rising over the mountains on the east of the valley. It somehow seems so much more plangent in the winter...maybe I need to find out exactly what the meteorological reasons for this is. In any case, she is amazing, and the sight reminded me of this which I wrote some years ago. So here it is again, with all my love.

Moon Mother

Aisling the Bard, October 18, 2005

We stood last night, a circle of kindred, and watched Her
Coming out from behind the crag of Mt. Olympus

Not shy, this globe of glowing silver light,
But plangent, full and bursting, assertive, a Presence.

She was THERE....and we....?

We stood, cups in hand, watching the unveiling
Sight seen so often, never taken for granted,
Her bounteous presence once again with us,
And yet new, unexpected, ever vivid and compelling
like the air you breathe every morning,
essential and appreciated,
though often unremarked.

But we had to mark Her, this night, this appearance...
It was like the processional of an ancient Queen,
Panoplied in splendor, golden, coruscating, glinting with awareness...
She would not be unregarded.

And we raised our cups, and honored Her, and bowed....
None of us, we urban-dwelling Pagans,
even for a moment thinking of Science or Technology,
But all of us awed once again, as our race has been from time immemorial,
By the living presence of the Lady,
The Mother of Lights,
In Her silvered radiance.

She is a Mystery, and we watch in awe,
As her face reveals itself to us again and again,
Always for the first time.

We drank deep, mead we had made together, and savored the moment...
Ancient wine, ancient Lady, ancient mystery of craft and kith,
Loving our Presence here in timelessness
within the globe of silver light,
And still so essentially present in our own world,
The hiss of cars on the motorway resonating with the pulse of crashing surf,
Recalled in genetic memory, though never experienced.

And at that moment, we recalled
Or thought for the first time,
Of all the Hidden Children,
over our land and other lands

All of them watching
Seeing Her in radiance,
The same glowing silver face
The same breathless awakening,
The same Awe,

Time and place compelling different circumstances
But all kindred, honoring the Mother of All.

We lifted our glasses again,
Gazing ever upward,
And felt our connection
To those unknown faces,
Perhaps also raising glasses in tribute.

We drank to them
A toast to "the Others"
Her other children,
Those we will never see,
But whom we Know,
More intimately, perhaps, than those
with whom we brush careless shoulders
In offices and stores
Where her face does not shine.

We connected
In moonlight
to all those we may never see,
But whose hearts and minds are kin to us
because of Her shining silver radiance,

And She smiled.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A VERY "Special Comment"...

In case there is ONE PERSON who reads my blog who has not yet seen this, here it is. Pay attention:

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:
"So I be written in the Book of Love;
I do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name, or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love."

Friday, November 7, 2008

To Beirn, On Her Birthday...

A Sonnet For An Unknown Sister

It seems so odd to me we've never met
In any way but electronically
Because the more we correspond, I see
Some things that I have not related yet
To any realm of logic. I can try
To understand our similarities
As somehow accidental. Yet if these
Are catalogued, it seems to me that I
See congruence of talent, taste, and mind
That strike me as not mere coincidence.
We seem akin, not merely friends. And hence
What great delight it was for me to find,
That Monaghan' a name and line we share...
I knew there might be more than friendship there!