PERSPECTIVE/ LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Matt Foreman, the head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and dozens of prominent leaders in the queer community are right. This is no time for the LGBT community to pull back in its struggle for equal rights. Foreman and his allies made their views known in a letter dated December 9 that was sent to every member of Congress. The immediate impetus for the letter was obviously a front-page story in The New York Times the same day reporting that the Human Rights Campaign had looked to the election results and was prepared to trim its sails on the fight for same-sex marriage recognition. The story also included the curious suggestion that HRC might be willing to throw its support behind Pres. George W. Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security in return for the administration’s agreement to include gay partners to participate.
On the day that The New York Times ran a front-page story reporting that the Human Rights Campaign was moderating its push for same-sex marriage rights and willing to entertain a discussion of supporting Social Security privatization in return for recognition of gay and lesbian partners in the program, dozens of LGBT leaders sent the following letter to every member of Congress. Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, initiated the letter and HRC was invited to sign on, but declined.
PERSPECTIVE/ SNIDE LINES
Peace has a way of bombing you back to the Stone Age, Doctor. Peace is that thunderous sense of dumb, heart-splitting glory in the most negligible of things. People say they can’t "Visualize World Peace" because it’s boring? They are so wrong. Peace is horrifying because all your boundaries are gone. You are no longer female nor male; you’re not black nor white nor red nor brown; not rich nor poor; you have no sexual orientation—and what’s more, none of that matters. Peace is beyond words or identity or recognition or prizes. That’s why nobody gives Peace a chance. They’d lose everything if they did.
In Order to Defeat Right Wing, Gays Need Consensus BY NATHAN RILEY
After losing 11 referendums on gay marriage, can gays win any victories against right-wing Republicans during the next four years? Recent news stories about divisions in the gay activist community revolve around the difficulties of creating a four-year plan for opposing President Bush and his anti-gay allies. Will the LGBT community continue to improvise or can it develop a strategy that will appeal to a majority of Americans, and help gays be part of a new majority in the next presidential election?
It’s your turn and this week Gay Men’s Health Crisis writes in twice––once to clarify an error in our reporting of new federal HIV drug treatment guidelines and the second time to dispute a mischaracterization of its client base that was a quote from San Francisco AIDS activist Cleve Jones in a recent article. A Tennessee reader writes to discuss his reaction to the storm over the “20/20” Matthew Shepard murder report aired last month.
French Gay Union Law to Be Enhanced
courtesy david zwirner gallery, new york and regen projects, los angeles
An image from the artist Raymond pettibon’s “No title (whatever we may),” 2004
Raymond Pettibon’s work stands some where between pulp novella, punk rock, graffiti and underground zines from the fringes of a subculture that often gets quickly absorbed by the mainstream. His work has graced the album covers for groups like Black Flag and Sonic Youth. Emerging from the 1980s art world with a narrative impulse hard to ignore, Pettibon’s roughshod ink washes and figurative vignettes peppered with quirky handwriting gain attention as much from their content as their presentation.
The Latest News
For the first time, a military appeals court has ruled that servicemembers have a constitutional right to engage in consensual sodomy under certain circumstances. On November 30, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, reversed the sodomy conviction of Specialist Kenneth M. Bullock, who pled guilty to engaging in oral sex with a woman in his barracks quarters, a crime under Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits service members from engaging in oral or anal sex.
For those legally challenging the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces, an army court’s November 30 ruling provided a glimmer of hope that they might prevail.
As New Zealand’s Parliament moved last week to adopt a nationwide Civil Union Bill covering both same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships, public opinion poll findings that a clear majority of New Zealanders still oppose explicit same-sex marriage rights convinced gay rights proponents that taking that last step across the boundary into full marriage equality was not politically feasible.
The lobby of the $25 million headquarters for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. has gleaming clear glass walls. This entirely deliberate melding of architecture and message for the home of the world’s largest gay advocacy organization was to make the space to feel “open” and “honest.” But, honesty, openness—and perhaps, most importantly, clarity—are difficult to maintain at a time of institutional change and in the wake of an election widely viewed as a disaster by gay rights advocates.
In a quick, unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held on December 6
that the San Diego Police Department did not violate the free speech rights of an officer discharged because he sold gay porn videos featuring himself on the adults-only part of eBay’s auction website. Taking the unusual step of ruling without receiving briefs or hearing oral arguments, the court issued its ruling overturning a contrary decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
In an interesting instance of simultaneous progress, two member nations of the British Commonwealth—on opposite sides of the world—took significant steps toward legal equality for same-sex couples on December 8 and 9, as the New Zealand Parliament approved a Civil Union Bill and the Supreme Court of Canada issued an important advisory opinion that clears the way for a vote on same-sex marriage in the Canadian Parliament.
Informal polling of the Canadian Parliament indicates that members, by a 25-vote plurality, favor legalizing same-sex marriage, said a survey by The Globe and Mail following a decision by the nation’s highest court to give approval to such legislation. A final vote may come as late as spring, a time that opponents have vowed to use to turn up the political heat, despite the fact that 85 percent of Canadians already live in provinces where gay people are allowed to marry by judicial order.
Spokesmen for two leading gay civil rights groups say that despite same-sex marriage’s poor showing at the ballot box this year, securing recognition of gay marriages through court challenges based in state constitutional guarantees remains central to their mission. “Our goal has always been to win marriage under state constitutions,” said Michael Adams, director of education and public affairs for Lambda Legal.
Roughly four years before he sold ABC’s “20/20 television newsmagazine a piece on the Matthew Shepard killing, the freelance producer who brought the story to the ABC program asked the Shepard family for help in producing a film on Matthew’s and was rebuffed. And Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, is charging that the producer’s relationship with the attorney for Russell Henderson, one of Shepard’s killers, significantly influenced the content of the “20/20” story.
The heated debate over institutionalized homophobia on the island-nation of Jamaica took a decisive turn in mid-November with the release of a comprehensive report by Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based non-profit organization, detailing extensive, state-sanctioned abuse in Jamaica of sexual minorities and people living with HIV.
The Latest Arts
In an inspired statement that accompanies Tamara Gonzales’ exhibition “Seed,” the artist touches on a concert this past summer’s by Donovan and the notion that plants can talk, then more pessimistically wonders if Americans are really interested in dying free.
Not unlike so many young painters before him, attracted by New York’s promise, the Spaniard Pablo Piccinali has soaring ambitions, so intense that, when asked, he levels his gaze and emphasizes, “Mucha gana” his response is clear. A lot of ambition.
Günther Domenig is an architect, in New York because of the exhibit titled “Günther Domenig: Structures that Fit My Nature.” Two of those brilliant structures are Domenig’s own dwelling and office called the Steinhaus, and the Documentation Center of the National Socialist Party Rally Grounds in Nuremburg, Germany.
The Metropolitan Opera can be a pretty dreary place when presenting an under-cast and under-rehearsed revival. But their new production of Handel’s “Rodelinda” on December 6 was of festival quality, brilliantly prepared and boasting a superstar cast that included David Daniels and Renée Fleming.
It always amazes me that lots of whom seem like longtime Met patrons rarely arrive at the opera house with any idea of who’s in that night’s cast. At best, they remember a key name or two from The Times review—great, but casts change over the cast of an opera season, sometimes very rapidly indeed.
“We had nothing,” Billy Crystal insists in “700 Sundays,” his solo Broadway show that traces his modest childhood in Eisenhower-era Long Beach, Long Island, where he grew up in a crowded tract house with paper-thin walls. Yet during the course of the alternately hilarious and heartwarming evening, he proceeds to prove just the opposite.
John Patrick’s “The Hasty Heart” is an intensely sentimental play with a creaky structure and obvious plotting. The exposition is clumsy and feels dated. And yet, only the abjectly cynical could fail to be moved by this lovely, intimate production by the Keen Company.
Playing the conniving Rev. David Marshall Lee, Neal Huff is one of the definite bright spots in the madness that is the Roundabout Theatre’s revival of Larry Shue’s play, “The Foreigner.” Huff’s character undergoes a surprising, scary twist in the second act, and, of this, Huff said, “I think it must have been much funnier in the original production in 1983. Now the zeitgeist has kind of put a damper on the comedy, and people aren’t quite sure whether to laugh or not.”
“Open My Heart” opens with two sisters—the 17 year-old Caterina (Giada Colagrande, who also directs) and her older sibling Maria (Natalie Cristiani)—sharing a bed. Yet sisterly affection is soon revealed to be more intimate than one might expect or even appreciate. Maria is seen naked writhing in ecstasy as Caterina pleasures her sexually. This lesbian incest scene is not the most shocking development in this bold DV film directed in a cool, minimalist style.
Award-Winning British Novelist Visits N.Y.
Fresh from picking up the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his critically acclaimed new novel, “The Line of Beauty,” British author Alan Hollinghurst treated a packed audience to an illuminating reading at the LGBT Community Center on Dec. 10.