Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NYC Pride Parade, 6/28/09: Law Enforcment Edition

It was really a delight to see the number of law enforcement officials at the NY Pride parade who seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. Here are a few pics I took while riding the CORE float.

I just likes his eyes!

Kitties on parade.

They were taking pictures of us!

Stern one

nice stache.


Bear cop!

And the Gay Officers Action League in the parade itself.

Any picture here, it should be noted, IS NOT indicitive of a sexual preference.

Monday, June 29, 2009

NYC Pride Parade, 6/28/09

Me, Joel's Daughter Miriam and Joel

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Don't Ask. Don't Tell. Don't Donate.

Dear Mr President, Mr Vice president, Madame First Lady, David Plouffe, et. al,

Over the last week, my e-mail inbox has been flooded with messages from BarackObama.com. They are mostly requests for whatever the current pet project is this week, including but not limited to Health Care and Energy Policy. At the end of each is a bright blue prompt button that reads “Donate Now.”

So why am I so reluctant?

Last year, at the ripe age of 48, I did something I have never done before. I volunteered for a political candidate. During the Pennsylvania Primary and the general election, I worked a phone bank in the Philadelphia Suburbs and went door to door in get out the vote efforts. After eight years of ignorance and mean-spirited government, I could no longer see myself sitting by as the party in power found more and viler things to do to America. That is what I saw coming in John McCain and to a greater extent with Sarah Palin. I even went further. I donated money to then candidate Obama’s campaign. Bought t-shirts and memorabilia. Even put signs in the front yard. One of the main reasons I went all in?

One of the most horrific things I have heard a president utter was when George W Bush stood at a microphone and tried to get a constitutional amendment off the ground to equate marriage as one man one/woman. He wanted to take an entire segment of the population and give them a separate set of rights. The irony of this was: The week he made this putrid statement, I was visiting Jerusalem and been to the Holocaust Museum. Enshrined early on one of the many walls is the historical moment that began Adolph Hitler’s move to his “Final Solution,” when he proclaimed that Jews (and others) were non-citizens of Germany and therefore not subject to the same rules protecting “real” citizens. To see and hear an American President suggest something similar sent chills down my spine.

Then came Candidate Obama. A man who said he would be a “Fierce Advocate” for gays and lesbians. Who openly said on the campaign trail that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was weakening our military by excluding the best and the brightest, like Dan Choi. Mr Choi, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic. Let me repeat a key part of Dan Choi’s credentials: fluent in Arabic. The candidate who said that “For the record, I opposed DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] in 1996. It should be repealed.” A Candidate who looked at me and my partner as something other than a wedge issue to bring out the lunatic fringe. So while I was working what is basically a call center job that pays a bit better than minimum wage, I clicked that “Donate Now” link several times in 2008. My partner and I were moved to tears on Election night, when the news reports decisively stated that history had been made that moment. My partner, whose mother had been involved in Civil Rights marches in the 60’s and himself a teenager that stood next to her at the infamous “I Have A Dream” speech. I was in Washington DC in January of 2009, surrounded by an incredible amount of positive energy. Seas of smiling faces, thrilled that the reign of stupidity was finally coming to an end, and I had been a small part of that change.

At last, hope. At last.Or was it?

Imagine my dismay when a news item came up just a short time ago in which President Obama's Justice Department issued a stunning brief on the Defense of Marriage Act, once again equating the relationship my partner and I share to incest and pedophilia. President and Mrs Obama, in my life I have had three life partners, and have buried two. Do you have any concept of how hurtful being told the memory in my heart of our years is equal to the crime of child molestation? Then there is the case of Mr Choi. An Arabic Translator. Who returned recently from Iraq, only to be told in May that the Obama administration was about to dump him. The guy who can actually be in the cell where those terrorists we are all so afraid of might be and understand what the hell they are saying. Or are we still more afraid of the fact that the man who could understand the terrorist's confession might have a boyfriend than of a budding terrorist plot against that United States? Or is the man who once claimed to be a “Fierce Advocate” for the gay community and told Rolling Stone Magazine that “I don’t do cower” suddenly mortified that almost 400 translators could be kissing someone of the same gender after telling their commanders what the kid who witnessed an Afghani bombing was saying? Where’s the “fierceness?” Where’s the “hope?”

Were the gay supporters of candidate Obama just props to be used, a basis for coin? Because right now, that is how I feel. When President Obama hastily arranged a benefits package for Federal Employees, it seemed like a lame attempt to staunch bleeding support from the GLBT community. It looked almost cowardly, like a half-assed brushing of crumbs from what was described a year earlier as a potential boon. Because all President Obama would have to do is muster up the courage President Harry Truman displayed when he signed an executive order as Commander in Chief, instituting the immediate racial integration of the US Military. When some of his generals made the expected bigoted objections, Truman’s response was to tell them they could place their resignations on his desk in the morning. None did. That was July 26th, 1948. The 61st anniversary of which is coming soon.

Perhaps I will get an e-mail on that date with a fresh “Donate Now” button at its base. But until I see some real, aggressive, progressive action on the promises candidate Obama made, my gay wallet is closed. Emotions and civility do not seem to make enough of an impression in politics…so it has to be the one that comes in dollars donated. Poetry is not policy. Neither are proclamations. Statements of solidarity are not real change. We spent a lot of time during the campaign discussing “The Audacity Of Hope.” The hope is dwindling. It has been replaced by the toxicity of audacity.

Tim Brough

Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A King and an Angel are Gone

I am sitting here, stunned. Michael jackson, a mere year older than me, died this afternoon. While I would not count myself as a fanatic, I was always in awe at the man's immense talents. When I was a kid, one of my first 45's was "ABC." When I graduated from college, the first Top 40 stations I worked for was one of those "Hot Hits" stations that would repeat the top ten in about a three hour period. WQBQ started in 1982, and the Top Ten included "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," with the recurrents including "The Girl Is Mine" and others. It was likely that you'd hear 2 or more Michael Jackson songs an hour. Yet the public seemed to not tire of them, and "Thriller" remains one of the largest selling albums in history. I still have the CD in my collection, an album that has been in my music probably two or three times. And when I worked as a club DJ in Dover, Delaware, the albums "Thriller" and "Bad" still made people dance.

While his public antics, trials and health issues had long overshadowed his recorded work, I can't begin to estimate what Michael Jackson did to influence music and pop culture. I can still vividly remember watching an elementry school band slog their way through the usual marching band stuff and pop oldies that every young kid has to play, but then the band leader made an announcement that the kids had a special song that they wanted to play. A steady drumbeat began and dozens of little feet began to ecstatically tap and play "Billie Jean." Despite the somewhat studious nature of their playing prior to this, you could see their faces light up as they leaned into their instruments and put all their hearts into playing this, the coolest of songs for these kids to be playing. For these elementary school kids, Jackson was their gateway into loving music.

Michael Jackson may have been overwhlmed by the court cases and the plastic surgeries, but for me it is those kids in the school band that will be my measure of what Jackson accomplished. It will be the night I watched him doing the moonwalk on TV for the first time. It will be the fans who rallied to the Sunset Blvd Tower Records to see the "HisStory" statue when the box set was released. And even if he spoonfed and obligated newspapers to call him "The King Of Pop," he managed to make himself into the stuff of his dreams.

Had hers been the only celebrety passing today, Farrah Fawcett would still have been newsworthy, but add Michael Jackson's sudden death, and Farrah was almost overshadowed. Yet it is hard for me not to notice, because as a gay man not yet out of his teens, the infamous "Farrah" poster was one of only two women to be pinned on my teenaged wall. (The other was Linda Rondstat.) And while news reports had been making us aware that her battle with cancer was on the brink of taking her from us, the announcement of her passing still felt like a tug at the heart. I always have an issue with people who discribe a battle with Cancer as "Couragous," as cancer is an illness and not a challenge you choose. You would never consider describing anyone with cancer as "cowardly." Her fight with her Cancer was one she took on with dignity and determination. She looked at what she was doing as an opportunity to show women what dealing with cancer was, realistically. It was honest, it was heartbreaking. What she did in 1976 was charm us as a glamourius Charlie's Angel. What she did in 2009 was win us with her warmth and honesty, even if her 'glamour' had long passed, but her charm never went away.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Stupid Republican Homophobe

From Keystone Progress.org:

I listened to it live, but I couldn't believe my ears. So I waited for the podcast and listened again. And he really said it. Last Friday, a Republican Pennsylvania State Senator told a Philadelphia radio audience that our society is "allowing" gay people to exist.

Click here to read the transcript and to tell Eichelberg to apologize on air. http://www.keystoneprogress.org/page/s/paeichelberger

Senator John Eichelberger (R-30) made his remarks on June 19 in a live radio debate with Senator Daylin Leach (D-17) on the Radio Times show on WHYY-FM. The debate was over the senators' competing bills on marriage equality. Eichelberger's bill would enshrine discrimination and bigotry by amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to ban same-sex unions. Sen. Leach's bill (SB 935) would expand the definition of marriage and allow same-sex couples to wed.

No matter what you think of same-sex marriage, the thought that someone believes he is being tolerant because he is "allowing them to exist" is outrageous. The implication of "allowing them to exist" is that he, his party or the government can end their existence if they so choose. This is the view of leaders in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia, but it's hard to believe that someone in the United States believes this. Especially an elected official.

If you're as angry as I am, please take a moment to send an email to Sen. Eichelberg by clicking here. http://www.keystoneprogress.org/page/s/paeichelberger.

Tell him no one "allows" LGBT people to exist. It's time to stand up and say we won't allow bigots to say things like this with impunity. Take action now! Write to Eichelberger by clicking here

Michael Morrill
Keystone Progress

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ice Cream for Bears!

Favorite new product of the year!!
I mean, seriously!
Ice Cream snacks for Bears?
They should be taking out adverts in Bear's Life magazine.
Advocate. Out.