Gaylingual: May 2006: Archives

May 30, 2006

Fred Barnes: Schill Plays The Gay Card genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

President Bush and fellow Republicans in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will appear in an event in the White House Rose Garden to express strong support for its passage according to an article in the Weekly Standard.

JUNE 6, 2006, is an important date, not only because it's the 62nd anniversary of D-Day. It's also the day the Senate will vote on the so-called marriage amendment, which would amend the Constitution to restrict marriage in America to a man and a woman.

It won't pass. A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House. When the Senate voted in 2004, the amendment got only 48 votes. This time, it's likely to get more--probably between 52 and 58--in part because a powerful and unusually ecumenical religious coalition is now backing the amendment. And President Bush, despite his wife Laura's admonition that the marriage issue ought to be kept out of politics, plans to host a pro-amendment event at the White House and speak out in favor of the amendment.

Thought Theater previosuly expressed the opinion that the apparent differences over the issue between Laura Bush, Bill Frist, and others was likely less about dissention and more about sending the necessary signals to various constituency groups.

The Weekly Standard article, written by Fred Barnes, goes on to point out that many Republican senators agree with Laura Bush that the issue should not be politicized and "requires a lot of sensitivity". Nonetheless, Senator Frist has moved forward with the scheduled debate and a likely vote. Again, I am convinced the Republican Party is simply playing the issue from all sides in order to appease those on the far right while also assuring moderate and liberal Republicans, the group with the biggest drop in approval numbers, that they are thoughtful and aware of the sensitive nature of the issue. Keep in mind that there is little doubt the measure will fail so the move to bring a vote is strategically motivated. Note the following excerpt:

Much of the conventional wisdom about the amendment and the marriage issue turns out to be wrong. For instance, the amendment is not being pushed by Republicans as a wedge issue aimed at dividing Democratic voters. Republican senators regard the issue as touchy and awkward.

Really? What's that little saying about a duck being a duck? Barnes conveniently goes on to connect the issue to the activist judge's rhetoric. The inference is that Republican's are being forced to confront the issue. I have no doubt this coy framing of the issue is entirely an orchestration by Karl Rove.

A second misconception is that it's sufficient for an elected official merely to declare his opposition to gay marriage. It's not anymore. The question now is whether an official will support efforts to block gay marriage from being imposed by judges at the federal or state level. And the way to do that in the Senate is to vote for the amendment.

The problem is not voters or legislators. They overwhelmingly support traditional marriage. Thirty-seven states have enacted laws in recent years--19 by referendum, the others by statute--to bar gay marriage. The problem is judges. On May 16, a Georgia judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, which had been enacted in 2004 with 76 percent of the vote. The judge seized on a technical point, ruling the referendum covered two issues, same-sex marriage and civil unions, and not one, as Georgia law required. In truth, the referendum was drafted to deal with one issue, the protection of heterosexual marriage. At least nine states face lawsuits challenging their traditional marriage laws.

Note how Barnes clearly establishes the courts as the problem and even goes so far as to use the words "in truth" when telling the reader the judge is wrong. Whose truth is Barnes referring to with that remark? Clearly this is a continued escalation of the attempt to undermine the authority of the courts to interpret the law...which by the way is solely their constitutional purpose.

In Nebraska as well, a federal judge on May 12 nullified a referendum barring gay marriage. And in Massachusetts, the state supreme court by a 4-3 vote imposed same sex marriage, basing its decision on a state constitution adopted centuries before gay marriage became an issue.

Here we see Barnes using the strict constructionist rhetoric that is frequently put forth by Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas. The suggestion is that anything not specifically mentioned in the constitution cannot now be adjudicated based upon new information or changing circumstances. That notion is ridiculous.

In response, the Religious Coalition for Marriage was formed specifically to back the amendment. [...] The coalition was created to put strong public pressure on both politicians and judges.

The coalition's initial statement said: "We take the unprecedented stand of uniting to call for a constitutional amendment to establish a uniform national definition of marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman. . . . This is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society."

Once again, Barnes seeks to point out that these good people are simply responding to the unwarranted actions of others in order to defend the will of the majority. Clearly he is wrong. The courts are not in place to simply support the will of the majority. Were that the case numerous instances of injustice would have remained in place far longer and may have potentially still been in place today. Anyone that believes that the Republican Party is in the midst of wholesale disarray might want to take another long hard look. This is full-on campaigning.

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2006 | 11:43 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 25, 2006

Military Discharge Of Gays On The Rise genre: Gaylingual & Just Jihad & Polispeak

The Los Angeles Times reports that military discharges of gays increased 11% in the last year. Read the article here.

WASHINGTON — The number of military members discharged under the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals rose by 11% last year, the first increase since 2001, officials said Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, said 726 service members were discharged under the policy during the 2005 budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with 653 discharges the year before. She released the figures after a gay rights group said it had obtained the statistics on its own.

I completely disagree with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and I find it curious that during this time of war that we can afford to lose qualified and trained military personnel. If I were into reading tea leaves, I might be inclined to believe the recent rumblings that the administration will reduce troop deployments in Iraq before the end of the year. Certainly the fact that this is the first increase in discharges since 2001 is a mere coincidence, right? Regardless, the policy is deplorable.

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2006 | 3:09 PM | link | Comments (0)
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May 24, 2006

Scientists Get New View Of HIV genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Using a new process to view the actual structure of the HIV virus, scientists were able to get the best look at the virus structure since it's discovery. The hope is that the new information will hasten the process to find a vaccine. Read the full article here.

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in the United States have taken a close up, three-dimensional look at spike proteins on the surface of the AIDS virus which could speed up the search for a vaccine.

The proteins, known as gp120 and gp41, allow HIV which causes AIDS to bind and fuse with human cells.

Dozens of AIDS vaccines using different approaches are being developed and tested. Roux believes part of the reason vaccines have failed so far is that, although scientists were aware of the spike proteins, nobody had really known how the spikes were put together.

Their findings, reported online by the journal Nature, show that the spikes consist of three gp120 proteins that make up the protRudyng cap and three gp41 proteins that make up the stalk.

"There are already two labs, that I am aware of, which have taken this information and are using it to try to redefine the vaccine," he said.

Scientist have not been able to scrutinize the intact spikes on the virus in such detail until now because the technology was perfected only in recent years.

Daniel DiRito | May 24, 2006 | 2:30 PM | link
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May 21, 2006

Progressivism: Myths & Realities genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

We hear abundantly about the netroots and the progressive nature of the blogosphere and yet I find myself asking what denotes a progressive movement? The dictionary defines progressive as, “making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities…and...one believing in moderate political change and especially social improvement by governmental action." As I’ve thought about the definition, I began to wonder at which point that which is different or original about or within any progressive movement becomes or seeks to establish nothing more than convention. Further, at the point that it does become convention, does it or can it still remain progressive?

My initial conclusion was that anything defined as progressive must necessarily be in a constant state of evolution in order to remain progressive. That immediately led me to ponder whether today’s progressive movement has remained true to the definitional concept or if it has become an ingrained ideology that simply seeks to unseat and replace the one which currently prevails. I was immediately reminded of the psychological concept that asserts that the healing process cannot succeed through the application of power but only through the power inherent in persuasion. Fundamental to this construct is the value of dialogue and debate such that consensus is achieved by choice; not by force. Unfortunately, there are times when the blogosphere acts in opposition to this construct.

Before reaching any conclusions, it is necessary to understand the dynamics of any movement…whether cultural, political, or religious. While each movement possesses some uniquely defining characteristics, they all share some prevailing similarities. There is a commonality of purpose, a predominantly shared set of values, and a desire to effect the changes that legitimize both. Even so, if a movement doesn’t also possess an unyielding commitment to ascertaining more of the “truth", it is destined to fail. The fine line of distinction seems to be the degree to which those who lead a movement seek compliance with what is known and generally accepted as opposed to tolerance for what is still uncertain yet worthy of further investigation. If the goal becomes primarily compliance, progressivism has been hijacked.

An example to demonstrate the distinctions might be helpful. I personally grew up as the gay movement was evolving. I began the journey when being gay was equated with pathology. Nonetheless, we knew the premise lacked “truth" and we refused to accept the status quo. In so doing, the movement embraced the full spectrum of our constituency and we valued and celebrated our differences. Many of us sought tolerance and acceptance without recognizing the dangers of succumbing to assimilation. Some in the movement sought assimilation knowing full well the cost would be foregoing much of the difference and diversity that we represented, shared, and celebrated. The former were progressives and the latter sought to hijack the movement. Essentially, the progressives sought acceptance while the others sought assimilation in order to participate in the established power system and structure. I contend the cost of assimilation was too expensive.

It then becomes increasingly necessary to determine the true nature of those who participate in movements. It does not necessarily follow that those who are a party to a cause, which can be defined as progressive, actually possess the true traits of progressivism. For many, they simply seek the power that they perceive to be held by the opposition. Therefore, their goal, despite being consistent with progressivism, may simply be to assume power for the sake of implementing and imposing the beliefs they hold. Sometimes it can be nothing more than being granted the opportunity to fit in. Far from being about debate and dialogue, those who pretend to be progressives only embrace both until such time as they can dictate their own doctrines and dogma or, even worse, simply be relieved of their designation as part of the minority view.

To say it another way, gray can only be achieved by combining black and white. Gray cannot be chosen as an act of capitulation. To do so simply removes all the pigment leaving the absence of color…and we become invisible. It is also impossible to dictate or legislate gray…an action too often sought by those who oppose progressivism. Those who attempt to do so run the risk of destroying those on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Therefore, gray is an act of awareness…a deliberate action premised on the broadest view of humanity in order to understand all the “truths" that are inherent to humanity. It embraces black and white and in so doing becomes authentically gray.

As I sorted through these thoughts, I found myself both hopeful and doubtful. Hopeful because the signs of progressivism are alive and well within the blogosphere; Doubtful because there also exists ample evidence that a number of imposters have infiltrated the debate and the dialogue fully intent on co-opting the movement for their own pursuit of power or, sadly, for even the lesser reasons outlined above.

The task at hand is how to inoculate progressivism against the dangers of succumbing to the very disease it seeks to supplant…fear of the unknown and unexplored. I can only offer my own thoughts and feelings. My own conclusion is that progressivism succeeds when individual fears are managed such that they are not allowed to stifle debate and dialogue. Conquering our individual fears allow each of us to risk being exposed to difference and diversity. If fear is allowed to succeed, we each remain isolated in our own narrow interpretations of “truth" and the society remains poised for and rife with the conflict that comes with the unknown and the unexplored.

In the end, I’m afraid of what I don’t know…but I am far more afraid of not being willing to find out exactly what that might be. If that’s progressivism…and I think it is…then in the words of our president, “Bring it on!"

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2006 | 5:19 PM | link | Comments (4)
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Pope Assails Secularism (Update) genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Update:

Pope Benedict XVI continued his attacks on secularism and asserted that low birth rates in Canada were the evidence of the growing problem. Read the full article here.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that low birth rates in Canada are the result of the "pervasive effects of secularism" and asked the country's bishops to counter the trend by preaching the truth of Christ.

Benedict, who has spoken out several times in favor of large families, blamed Canada's low birth rate on social ills and moral ambiguities that result from secular ideology.

"Like many countries ... Canada is today suffering from the pervasive effects of secularism," Benedict told visiting bishops from Canada. "One of the more dramatic symptoms of this mentality, clearly evident in your own region, is the plummeting birth rate."

In my opinion, the linkage of low birth rates to secularism is an absurd generalization. The assertion seems to argue that having more children is an inherent good and a necessity. I'll offer my own generalization to expose the degree to which oversimplifications become the rhetoric of institutional ideologies. "The accumulation of wealth by the Catholic Church, that includes seeking money from struggling parishioners, is responsible for the pervasive poverty in the world." Taking it a step further, it seems far more logical to conclude that the growing cost of raising children has a much larger impact on the decline in birth rates in developed countries than does secularism. Consequently, one could easily make the generalized argument that the church is simply motivated by monetary considerations when it promotes higher birth rates...with the obvious intention being to create more Catholics to contribute more money to preserve the institution.

Separately, Benedict told the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See that family based on marriage should not be "replaced or confused" by other institutions -- an allusion to gay marriage, which is legal in Spain.

Continuing with my generalization, the church opposes gay marriage and homosexuality because neither has the likelihood to create more Catholics who will contribute more money. Given the waning influence of the Catholic Church, particularly in Europe, it seems obvious that these antiquated doctrines no longer withstand the tests of reality. As people have become more aware and more educated, they have begun to rely on their own ability to understand the world in which they live...leaving behind much of what they see as irrelevant rhetoric.

_________________________________________________________________

Original Posting:

Pope Benedict has condemned gay unions; calling gay love weak. My own speculation on what is actually "weak" follows excerpts from the article.

From Bloomberg:

``Only the foundation of complete and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of forming the basis of a society that becomes the home of all men,'' Benedict told a convention of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute today. The pope said ``confusing marriage with other types of unions based on a love that is weak'' should be avoided.

Still, more than 71 percent of Italians are favorable to gay civil unions such as those allowed in the U.K., Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, according to a January report by research group Eurispes.

While the 1929 Lateran Treaty outlines the separation of church and state in Italy, about 43 percent of Italians believe the pope has meddled excessively in politics, according to the Eurispes report, published Jan. 17.

In my opinion, what seems weak to me is the character of the priests who violated the law and their vows when they decided to molest innocent young children. What seems weak to me is a hierarchy that allowed the molesting to go on for decades. What seems weak to me is those in positions of authority who covered up the molesting and moved priests from parish to parish knowing full well they were likely to re-offend.

What seems really weak to me is that these hypocrites think they hold infallible moral authority. History is riddled with examples of the Catholic Church burying its collective head in the sand when courage and candor was needed. See a prior Thought Theater posting on the silence of the church during the Holocaust and their continued misguided opposition to condoms with regards to the AIDS epidemic here.

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2006 | 12:06 PM | link | Comments (2)
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May 19, 2006

George Bush: Uniter, Not Divider genre: Gaylingual & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

George Bush: Uniter, Not Divider

Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2006 | 11:43 AM | link | Comments (2)
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May 16, 2006

Mary Mary Mercenary genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

Mary Cheney Mercenary

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 6:32 PM | link | Comments (0)
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May 14, 2006

Mad TV: Gay Thugs Spoof genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2006 | 7:57 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 11, 2006

Ford Shareholders Uphold LGBT Protections genre: Gaylingual

Ford shareholders voted by an overwhelming 95% to suport the continuation of protections and benefits for LGBT employees. The motion was forced onto the ballot by shareholders sympathetic to the groups that are currently boycotting Ford. The primary organizer has been The American Family Association. You can read the full article regarding today's vote here and the article on the boycott here.

From 365Gay.com:

(Dearborn, Michigan) An attempt by a Ford shareholder to force the automaker to drop protections for LGBT workers from its human resources regulations was swiftly defeated on Thursday.

Shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Dearborn voted 95 percent to reject the proposal.

The motion called for Ford to change its policy to exclude any reference to sexual interests, activities or orientation. Ford argued to the SEC that the proposal would hurt the company's ability to recruit and could hurt sales to gays and lesbians. The SEC rejected the argument.

Ford then issued a recommendation to shareholders to vote against the measure.

The AFA says at its Web site that "It appears that Ford is more willing to face bankruptcy than ending their support of homosexual groups and causes."

Daniel DiRito | May 11, 2006 | 1:59 PM | link
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May 9, 2006

Sugar Baby Love: French AIDS Awareness Ad (Adult) genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Video-Philes

This is an AIDS awareness video (gay version) that was aired in France. Not only is it well done, it is candid and clear in its message. Sadly, something like this would likely never be approved for viewing in the U.S. The straight version is posted here on Thought Theater.

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2006 | 5:22 PM | link | Comments (6)
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May 7, 2006

Newsweek: "How AIDS Changed America" genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

It was at a meeting in 1984 when I first heard the theory that AIDS would be a force in mainstreaming homosexuality. I was meeting with the publisher of a gay magazine at the time. His words have never left my psyche. At the time, it was a bold prediction in the face of what appeared to be the beginning of a relatively devastating, yet unknown future for the gay community. In retrospect, it was an insightful statement, though one few were willing to speak. Newsweek, in their May 10th edition, chronicles some of that very phenomenon. You can find the full article here. Some excerpts from the article follow.

The plague years: It brought out the worst in us at first, but ultimately it brought out the best, and transformed the nation. The story of a disease that left an indelible mark on our history, our culture and our souls.

At a time when the mere threat of avian flu or SARS can set off a coast-to-coast panic—and prompt the federal government to draw up contingency plans and stockpile medicines—it's hard to imagine that the national response to the emergence of AIDS ranged from indifference to hostility. But that's exactly what happened when gay men in 1981 began dying of a strange array of opportunistic infections. President Ronald Reagan didn't discuss AIDS in a public forum until a press conference four years into the epidemic, by which time more than 12,000 Americans had already died. (He didn't publicly utter the term "AIDS" until 1987.)

As AIDS made its death march across the nation, killing more Americans than every conflict from World War II through Iraq, it left an indelible mark on our history and culture. It changed so many things in so many ways, from how the media portray homosexuality to how cancer patients deal with their disease. Through the crucible of AIDS, America was forced to face its fears and prejudices—fears that denied Ryan White a seat in school for a year and a half, prejudices that had customers boycotting restaurants with gay chefs. Watching a generation of gay men wither and die, the nation came to acknowledge the humanity of a community it had mostly ignored and reviled. "AIDS was the great unifier," says Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles and HIV-positive for 25 years.

Without AIDS, and the activism and consciousness-raising that accompanied it, would gay marriage even be up for debate today? Would we be welcoming "Will & Grace" into our living rooms or weeping over "Brokeback Mountain"? Without red ribbons, first worn in 1991 to promote AIDS awareness, would we be donning rubber yellow bracelets to show our support for cancer research?

"Gay Cancer," as it was referred to at the time, wasn't a story the press wanted to cover—especially since it required a discussion of gay sex. The New York Times ran fewer than a dozen stories about the new killer in 1981 and 1982, almost all of them buried inside the paper. (NEWSWEEK, for that matter, didn't run its first cover story on what "may be the public-health threat of the century" until April 1983.)

With death a constant companion, the gay community sobered up from the party that was the'70s and rose to meet the unprecedented challenge of AIDS. There was no other choice, really: they had been abandoned by the nation, left to fend for themselves. "Out of whole cloth, and without experience, we built a healthcare system that was affordable, effective and humane," says Darrel Cummings, chief of staff of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. "I can't believe our community did what it did while so many people were dying."

It took a movie star to get the rest of the nation's attention. In the summer of 1985, the world learned that Rock Hudson—the romantic leading man who'd been a symbol of American virility—was not only gay, but had full-blown AIDS. "It was a bombshell event," says Gottlieb, who remembers standing on the helipad at UCLA Medical Center, waiting for his celebrity patient to arrive, as news helicopters circled overhead. "For many Americans, it was their first awareness at all of AIDS.

If TV was slow to deal with AIDS, cinema was downright glacial. "Longtime Companion," the first feature film about the disease, didn't make it to the screen until 1990, nine years into the epidemic. "There was a lot of talk before the movie came out about how this was going to hurt my career, the same way there was talk about Heath Ledger in 'Brokeback Mountain'," says Bruce Davison, who received an Oscar nomination for his role. As for "Philadelphia," Hanks is the first to admit "it was late to the game."

Broadway was the major exception when it came to taking on AIDS as subject matter—in part because so many early casualties came from the world of theater. By the time Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Angels in America" made its Broadway debut in 1993, some 60 plays about the disease had opened in New York.

"Everywhere I go, I'm meeting young people who've just found out they've been infected, many with drug-resistant strains of the virus," says Cleve Jones, who two decades ago decided to start stitching a quilt to honor a friend who had died of AIDS. Ever-expanding, it was displayed several times in Washington, transforming the National Mall into what Jones had always intended: a colorful cemetery that would force the country to acknowledge the toll of AIDS. "If I'd have known 20 years ago that in 2006 I'd be watching a whole new generation facing this tragedy, I don't think I would have had the strength to continue," says Jones, whose own HIV infection has grown resistant to treatment.

Daniel DiRito | May 7, 2006 | 10:09 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Divine (Glenn Milstead) genre: Gaylingual & Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Glenn Milstead - Divine

Divine (Glenn Milstead) was a well known drag queen and actor who starred in many of John Waters movies. He died suddenly at the age of 42. I saw him perform live in Seattle in 1985. For me, his on-screen performances were far better. I have included some video footage at the bottom of this posting. If you've never seen any footage of Divine, he had a unique persona. In many ways, his career mirrored the emergence of gay culture as an increasingly visible segment of mainstream society. The following bio is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Harris Glenn Milstead (October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988) was better known by his drag persona Divine.

Born in Towson, Maryland to Bernard and Diana Frances Milstead, at the age of 12 the family moved to Lutherville, a suburb of Baltimore. John Waters was a childhood friend who lived six houses down the street.

Milstead starred in a number of films and was part of the regular cast known as the Dreamlanders. The Dreamlanders appeared in many of John Waters' earlier works such as Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Polyester, and Hairspray. Repeating their successful pairing in Polyester, in 1985 Divine appeared opposite Tab Hunter in their bigger hit Lust in the Dust. Besides these roles, Milstead was the inspiration for the appearance of Ursula, the half-octopus villain from Disney's 1989 animated movie The Little Mermaid.

He is also remembered as a major character in the documentary homage Divine Trash by Steve Yeager, covering the life and work of John Waters.

In the 1980s, Milstead's comedy records were hits through America, Europe, and Australia. The typical progressive type of synthesizer disco music was composed, created, performed and produced by Bobby Orlando.

Late in his career, Milstead also played in non-drag roles in his last three films: Trouble in Mind, Hairspray, and Out of the Dark. In Hairspray he played two roles - one male and one female.

In 1988, Milstead was chosen to portray the character of Uncle Otto on the new FOX prime-time series Married With Children. Quite unexpectedly, he died at age 42 from sleep apnea in Los Angeles, California. The cause was attributed to his obesity.

He was buried in Towson, Maryland, which was accompanied with a funeral procession attended by thousands.

Glenn was born before civil rights, gay rights, or women's rights...God doesn't want people created out of a Xerox machine...The tragedy is that Glenn was cut off right at the point of becoming who he really was, and the world will never see how that flower could have unfolded."

–Reverend Leland Higginbotham at Divine's eulogy; Baltimore, Maryland, March, 1988



Love Reaction

I'm So Beautiful

Walk Like A Man

You Think You're A Man

Daniel DiRito | May 7, 2006 | 7:18 AM | link | Comments (4)
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May 3, 2006

"Tit For Tat": Part II genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The following is a posting by John at AMERICAblog. The basic issue is that a gay friend of John's was fired by Howard Dean shortly after the partner of the fired man wrote a letter objecting to the lack of support offered by the Democratic Party in fighting gay wedge initiatives sponsored by Republicans in a number of states.

Howard Dean fires gay man in apparent retaliation against his partner
by John in DC - 5/03/2006 10:53:00 AM

Can you say Valerie Plame?

The Democratic National Committee yesterday fired its gay liaison, my friend Donald Hitchcock, and immediately replaced him with someone else (thus showing the position wasn't phased out). What's odd about the firing, to put it lightly is that it comes within days of Donald's partner, Paul Yandura, publicly criticizing the DNC for not being pro-gay enough.

The DNC claims they aren't retaliating against the spouse for the other spouse's politics. From all appearances, that's exactly what they're doing.

Howard Dean would never fire a straight woman because her husband had criticized the DNC. But somehow when it's a gay couple, Dean has no problem giving the appearance of taking revenge on an employee who has done nothing wrong. Then again, the employee is gay, so you know, perhaps that makes him only three-fifths an employee in the eyes of the DNC.

You just don't fire someone days after their spouse criticizes you and expect people to believe anything but revenge is at play. It's petty. It's sick. And it's one more sign that Paul Yandura may in fact be right - the DNC appears to have a very serious gay problem.

It's Valerie Plame all over again. But this time, when it's Democrats taking revenge on the spouse, somehow we're to accept this kind of vicious crass politics as "fair game"?

Howard Dean owes all an explanation, unless he wants to see all hell break loose between now and the election.

First, I understand John wanting to come to the defense of his friend. I would want to do the same. Where I differ from John would be in how to go about offering that support. Specifically, I find some of his remarks merely undermine his position as an advocate for defeating the Republican Party in order to advance the causes that he finds important. John is an intelligent person who understands Washington politics. In truth, many see him as an insider...I can't speak to that assertion. What I can do is point out my own perspectives, particularly as this issue relates to my thoughts on the pervasiveness of a "tit for tat" mentality.

I'm not privy to all the details and I suspect neither is John as it relates to the termination of his friend. It's doubtful that information will ever be discussed publicly given the sensitivity surrounding personnel issues. If a suit is filed, perhaps we will know more.

In the meantime, the rush to extreme statements simply fuels conflict and consternation amongst what many might perceive to be allies who are otherwise united in an effort to promote change. There will be a disconnection when those observing this interaction attempt to make sense of the events they are witnessing. Most importantly, there is the palpable potential to question both the motivations and the sincerity of the combatants. If the observers begin to question these basic tenets, the seeds of inertia are planted.

This is not the first time John seemingly overreacted. I'm reminded of a situation where he blamed a campaign operative's "irrelevant" email announcing the candidate’s participation in a Habitat for Humanity project. Apparently, the precipitating event was that John missed an email about a speaking opportunity such that he concluded that the causative factor was the superfluous email. John went on to state the idiocy of those who send unsolicited emails and that he had blocked the candidate's email address...even though the candidate didn't actually commit the perceived offense.

Here's the problem. John often pitches for Democratic candidates in need of support on his website. The oversight of the campaign worker had now seemingly become a legitimate reason to abandon an otherwise acceptable Democratic candidate. If the objective of John's website is truly as stated, then the actions were wholly contradictory and indicative of conflicting and ulterior motivations that serve to undermine his sincerity.

I'll be honest with you at my own peril...I believe John was wrong then and that he's wrong again today. In life I have always looked for deeds to match words and while many might accuse me of possessing the memory of an elephant (but I'm not a Republican), it is simply the means by which I feel I can discover more of the "truth". I've occasionally been accused of pulling out the gottcha card...but the essential thing to remember is that I am comfortable with that being a reciprocal proposition...besides, "truth" is not a gottcha. I've been wrong before and I will be wrong again...but I'm committed to trying to use each experience to learn more "truth". That's simply who I am.

As an aside, I think it’s worthwhile to tell you a story about a situation when I was in the second grade. My school had a program whereby students could receive a carton of milk at lunchtime. I didn't like milk as a kid so I didn't participate. On Fridays, as a treat, the students received chocolate milk. Well apparently someone was taking extra cartons of chocolate milk thereby leaving others without their lunchtime beverage. Our teacher sat us all down and said that we were not going to recess until the culprit stepped forward. As expected, no one admitted to the offense. As I sat in my chair, I was debating with myself if I should take the blame in order to end the stalemate so that life, absent conflict, could resume. Before I was able to conclude that I would take the blame (even though I hadn't taken the milk), our teacher issued a warning that the problem had better cease or she would have to consider other consequences...at which point she allowed us to go to recess.

I share the experience because it has been, by and large, a fundamental part of my life story. I prefer resolution over conflict and I am willing to participate in finding solutions. Don't get me wrong, I have a temper and I can be as stubborn as they come...but as we like to say in my family, the sooner you get done with the fighting, the sooner you can resume the laughing. You know, winning is great, but winning because you're right is even better. We can all learn to win without being right but it will never alter the "truth". As my old boss and friend has said so many times with just the proper degree of sarcasm, "it’s great to be able to explain something...but it’s all the better when it has the added benefit of also being the "truth".

I don't know if Howard Dean is wrong...my own impression of Dr. Dean is that he often speaks before he fully thinks. Is it possible he fired someone without ample consideration...sure. Is it possible he had legitimate reasons for the termination but unfortunately his timing was terrible...yes.

Is John justified in supporting and defending his friend...sure if it's a thoughtful action. Is it appropriate for John to say Dr. Dean "owes all an explanation unless he wants to see all hell break loose between now and the election"...only if he's comfortable that many may grow skeptical of his priorities and his motivations. Is a "tit for tat" smack down going to advance our professed collective goals...absolutely not. I've said it before, but it bears repeating...a good friend once told me that in all decisions, make sure the impact of your actions matches the intent with which you began. It seems fitting for this situation.

The good news...we live in a country where we each get to make choices. Hopefully, those choices will amplify the "truth" that we say we are committed to pursuing. The bad news...if those choices are inconsistent with the "truth", we become disconnected from it and the legitimacy that it rightly commands.

Daniel DiRito | May 3, 2006 | 2:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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