Tag Archives: gay

Houston Pride Parade was Totally Gay

Pride Parade? That’s so gay!

Indeed it was. Here the day after, I think I’m suffering from Glitter Lung, which is not unlike Flavor Crystal Lung that besets our dear miners who toil for Frito-Lay to provide the world with coolest of ranch. Luckily I did not accidentally let ruptured glow-stick goo somehow get into my mouth. That is a lesson well learned from many a bar and bat mitzvah party. I am convinced that the odd flavor indicates glow sticks are not of this world, but are stolen alien technology reverse engineered from Roswell.

Of course, the day started at Anvil. And there is no better way to start a fun-filled event fraught with top-notch people-watching than a homemade Pride Parade Bingo game.

I don't think I saw a gay animal

I didn’t quite get a blackout, but did see most of the things. However, a good part of the game was also seeing things/people and then regretting that they weren’t on the bingo board. For example: guy in a mustache with gold lamé underwear.

We saw him first at Anvil, and then occasionally throughout the day

There was also the woman with the horse hoof shoes. Save it for Renaissance Faire, lady!

Do they have those in my size? Nay!

Of course, this was Houston and thus the usual Houston confusion as how to deal with people walking in the street. The Wendy’s on Westheimer charged $15 for parking, $2 for a bag of ice, and $1 to use the restroom. Totally gay.

Where's the beef?

Overall, the day really seemed to come into its own. First, there was the whole festival that preceded the parade. Given that the parade doesn’t start until 9 pm, that is a good day’s worth of having a gay ‘ol time.

Houston is a place that, due to city design and weather, one does not usually spot many pedestrians, even in the more walkable neighborhoods. Seeing the crowds walking along Westheimer was quite the sight to behold. If only every day were more like that.

The whole thing reminded me of being back in New York City, with youthful crowds just walking around. And best of all, random cheap hotdogs on the street! Another reason why Catbirds is one of the best bars in Houston.

the Best Bar

Grilled dogs vs Water Dogs: Whoever wins, we lose

The random mini-stages and musical groups were a surprising and welcome addition, not to mention felt like a personal fuck-you to Austin.

Yeah that's right Houston has music

We ended up in a friend of a friend’s apartment that overlooked Westheimer. The view was something else.

The sun shines on the crowds anticipating the gay pride parade

A view of downtown Houston

I kinda like this one. Thank you, Hipstamatic.

This is basically an ad for El Real.

Of course, we weren’t the only ones who recognized the benefits of an elevated view. A bunch of people climbed on top of Catbirds to watch from the roof. This also got my bingo square for “look at that fukkin’ hipster.”

Don't fall! (He didn't)

There were some great floats/cars in the parade. For example, there was the South Beach float.

The Lesbians Over Age Fifty float (Bingo!)

The marching band that played Lady Gaga.

And of course, Houston Police Department squad car number 69.

Come on, you know that totally was not on accident.

Of course, my personal favorite activity was watching the underage kids in the Wendys parking lot drinking for what was obviously the first time. They did not appreciate me yelling at them, exposing their secret hiding place behind the dumpster where the cops wouldn’t dare see them sneaking booze out of a large soda. It was all fun and games until one of the young rapscallions PTFO’d.

At least I assume that is what happened.

Luckily, he came to in a few minutes and hopefully learned an important lesson.

Overall, a fun time. It is difficult to tell whether the day was especially rambunctious because of New York having legalized gay marriage just the day before. Perhaps those on the street had a better perspective.

Here is Dan playing a ukulele at Clare’s apartment after the parade.

In which gay reality eclipses gay irony

 

This man is being oppressed.

 

 

Let us contemplate for a moment the difference between majority and minority.

Majority: the greater part or number; the number larger than half the total (opposed to minority): the majority of the population.

Minority: the smaller part or number; a number, part, or amount forming less than half of the whole.

Gays are a minority. Straights (or “breeders”) are a majority. As a majority, the straights have conscious or subconsciously formed a society around themselves — a society that responds to and serves their needs. The Gays live in this society, too — a fact that is being slowly accepted. However, Gays also need, or at least want, a society that responds to and serves their needs. At a small level, this is accomplished on university campuses via Gay & Lesbian Support Groups, or Gender and Sexuality Centers, or whatever you want to call them. In a heteronormative society that inherently offers things like insurance benefits, marriage, and positive role models for the Straights, these groups offer some minuscule sense of support for Gays who may have difficulty in a world where people blame them for, you know, bad things they didn’t do.

However, some opponents to the Gay centers see them as a threat, or through a lens of jealousy.

“Hey, how come the Gays get their own center. I want a Center. No special treatment!”

Well, it is mostly because you already have a center. It is called Everything Else.

I made fun of this not-uncommon complaint in the infamous Racist Backpage.

Well, this week has been one of those times when something that once was a Bad Joke is a now on path to be a Real Law.

Any state college or university that uses state funds for one of those sordid dens on iniquity that go by the euphemistic name of “gender and sexuality centers” (read: “Gay & Lesbian Support Groups”) must now also fund a Family Values Center.

The provision, part of a budget bill, was put forward by Wayne Christian of East Texas and passed 110-24.

Wow, what a fantastic use of resources. Bill supporter Wayne Christian defended this policy as merely equalizing the playing field:

“I’m not treading on their rights to that, to teach alternative sexual behavior,” said Christian, R-Center (right). But he said they must match it, dollar for dollar, with advocating heterosexual, “traditional values.”

Hey, but you know what else is already advocating heterosexual values? Everything else!

But what exactly will these centers teach as heterosexual values? I assume something along the lines of how to write a prenuptial agreement to make divorce a breeze!

The purpose of these Gay Centers is to provide some support for people who do not have support inherent in our societal structure. Or, as a secondary purpose, they can educate others to help reform our society into one where the centers aren’t necessary. However, given that Christian is a man who feels the need to apologize for describing the terms that he actually uses in his bill, maybe he could spend some time hanging around one of these Gay Centers.

The legislative debate on the issue included Christian apologizing to the women in the gallery when someone asked him to define “pansexual,”

In his own argument for Straight Centers, Christian inherently makes the argument for Gay Centers. In fact, he admits to this:

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, asked, “What is a pansexual?”

Christian said if Castro would go to UT’s or A&M’s gender and sexuality centers, “they would teach you.”

So given that Christian admits that people can learn things at the gender and sexuality centers, what does he think people can learn at Straight Centers? I don’t really know, but maybe he can provide the answer to one of those Questions to Never Ask. Ever.

Thank You Very Much Warren Christopher

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher died. While he has a long and important personal biography, for me he will always be the man who put an end to all wars and thus turned America’s youth gay.

Here’s to Warren Christopher, and a life overly influenced by The Simpsons.

Cleveland Sewall, and a Backpage shoutout from the Rice University historian

In the buildup to Rice University’s centennial, the wonderful historian Melissa Kean is keeping a blog about the history of that dear university. The other week, she dedicated a short entry to my own personal favorite character of Rice history: Cleveland Sewall

*cue the Cleveland Sewall theme song*

Cleveland Sewall has young bachelor friends.

Cleveland Sewall, not the marrying kind.

Its 1927, and what do you say?

He’s on the Rice board and he’s a really big donor!

Now, Kean could only find two images of the dear Mr. Sewall. First, this entry in the 1912 Makers of Houston:

I say!

However, most people who know about Cleveland know him from his portrait in his namesake Sewall Hall. And what a portrait it is.

 

Yip yip yip yip yip! Quiet, Muffy! Captain Baker is going to tell us about his time in the navy.

With a rainbow suit, yippy dog, perfect glasses and keen smirk, it is easy to see how this otherwise ignored character can become such a fantastic focus for the student body.

Indeed, as Kean points out, he has been quite the subject of a few Backpages:

Something about the combination of the striped jacket and the little dog seems to call out for Backpage hilarity for some reason.

And certainly, there were Backpages. Like the time I called for him to be elected Homecoming Queen. (pdf: Cleveland Sewall backpage)

But that is not all. Sewall was also featured in some great Dan cartoons. I think these really established the character of Cleveland Sewall beyondthe mere inside jokes we had about Sewall:

 

I think this was the first drawing of Cleveland Sewall

 

 

 

Those old-timey bikes with the big wheel in front is always hilarious

 

Even beyond the Thresher cartoons, Cleveland Sewall had developed further as a character beyond his mere historical existence. Back in junior or senior year, I wrote an outline for a Rice musical. Each scene would be a different decade of the history of Rice. For the 1920s, it would be a musical confrontation between Cleveland Sewall and James Baker.

I hadn’t read that thing in a while, so reading it now to find the Cleveland Sewall sketch has reminded me how utterly awful the end result was. Oh god, that thing I wrote was terrible. It is just a bunch of really bad gay jokes. Maybe I thought it was funny in my head at the time, but now… weeow! No.

Anyways, here it is:

[Scene 2. 1927, Rice board room]

James Baker: Big, imposing stuckup man.

Benjamin Botts Rice: Young, naïve.

Emanuel Raphael: Here

Cleveland Sewall: Paul Lynde. He wears a rainbow suit, see his picture in sewall hall.

Muffy: Sewall’s little white dog.

Baker: Welcome gentlemen to the meeting of the rice institute board of trustees. I am Captain James Baker. And I am very glad to announce that several local philanthropists have pledged $1200 to found a scholarship for our architecture students to travel to Europe. Yes, I know it’s a lot. Now let’s call role. Baker, heh, here. Benjamin Botts Rice.

Rice: Here

Baker: Emanuel Raphael

Raphel: Ahem, here

Baker: and the rest

Rest: here

Baker: And, the man who is making this all possible, William Cleveland Sewall. …. Cleveland Sewell…. [frustrated] Is Cleveland here!

Sewall: Well, if you’re going to take that kind of tone, I don’t know why I come to these meeting at all.

[song! Cleveland Sewall, has young bachelor friends. Cleveland Sewall, not the marrying kind. Its 1927 and what do you say? He’s on the Rice board and he’s really really [

sewall breaks in: Shut up!]

Baker: Ahem, yes. Now I want to thank you very much for giving this money.

Sewall: Of course Jimmy Boy! Anything to help out this university and its wonderful young boys.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: quiet muffy.

Baker: Cleveland, do you have to bring that dog with you?

Sewall: you mean my muffy? I don’t know. Do you have to bring that kind attitude with you? Maybe I don’t want to give Rice my money…. I’m sorry I don’t mean that. Why do I say such hurtful things…. I’m sorry, what were we walking about.

Baker: [increasingly frustrated] Ahem, your scholarship, Cleveland. Where should these young students travel.

Sewall: Well I remember when I was young, I spent some time in paire. Let’s just say I loved exploring the Eiffel tower. So big and hard, it really had an effect on me.

Rice: What about exploring the arc de triumph?

Sewall: No!

Muffy: Yip yip yip

Sewall: Yes muffy. Daddy only liked the Eiffel tower, not the smelly arc de triumph like that stupid Rice boy wants.

Baker: Yes, Paris would be a great idea. I would also recommend going to Rome

Sewall: Oooh! Nothing like those muscly roman gods to help our young rice boys.

Raphel: Ahem, are we sure Rome is OK? I mean, I don’t know…

Baker: Now Emanuel, I have 20/20 hindsight on rome.

[Sewall giggles]

Baker: And we certainly can’t turn our rears to those great men of civilization.

Sewall: Well maybe you can’t.

Baker: I know that the streets of Rome can be intimidating, but our students must suck it up and take it like men

sewall: I agree

Baker: No ifs ands or buts

Sewall: That’s the kind of talk I like

Baker: Besides, it is certainly better than gay Parie.

[Everyone looks at Sewall]

Sewall: … What?

Baker: Now what sort of students do we want receiving this scholarship.

Sewall: I say we give it to strapping young men. Of course I would have to interview them personally.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: Yes Muffy. Here is a snackypoo.

Baker: Well Cleveland, it takes a sort of personal strength and perseverance to travel abroad.

Sewall: Oh I don’t know, I’ve traveled as a broad with only my mothers dress and some powder make up, and let’s just say that I made some sailor boys raise there masts. Toot toot.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: Yes muffy, you’re such a bitch.

[begin rising in clamor, with two men arguing and muffy getting louder]

Baker: Now see here Cleveland! The Navy has a proud tradition of turning boys into men.

Sewall: And so do I!

Muffy: yip yip yip

Baker: I will not have you drag the name of the U.S. navy into the mud

Sewall: Ooh, sounds kinky. Do the young Rice boys do that and can I watch?

Baker: I am a captain in the naval forces. I have defeated threats and pirates on the seven seas.

Muffy: yip yip yip

Sewall: Well some people think I’m a kind of pirate. But I hope you don’t fire your big manly cannon at me.

Baker: You may think this is a joke Cleveland. But I assure you, climbing a ship’s mast is one of the most dangerous things a man can ever do.

Sewall: Well, I guess I’ll just have to make our boys face that danger head first

Baker: You do not know the danger making port in an unfamiliar territory

Sewall: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve had lots of fun dropping anchor in the south seas. Especially the massage parlors.

Baker: Cleveland Sewall, if you will not be quiet and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

Muffy yip yip yip

Sewall: SHUT UP MUFFY!

[all silent]

Baker: Cleveland, what is your problem. Something is wrong without you. Why can you not take these matters seriously.

Sewall: You’re right. Something is wrong with me.

Ever since I was a little boy

I knew something was a askew

All my friends would  play and fight

But I was not like them or you

They would mope and be all sad

Try to be just like their dad

But my mother she would always say

Don’t be mad, be happy, be gay!

Ready girls?

Gayer than springtime in gay ol parie

[yes he’s so gay]

Gayer than all of those good broadway shows

[oh don’t you know]

Gayer than crème brule served up on doiles

[oh yes he’s gay]

Gayer than anyone you ever did know

[muffy: yip yip!]

Raphel: So did you take her advice?

Sewall: Did I taker her advice?! Listen to the fucking song!

So I got my best suit and I went on the town

[all over town]

Tried to trun those young boys frowns upsidedown

[he made them smile]

It was the best night that I ever had

[oh tons of fun]

Must have fun gay fun with every young lad

Sewall: But I wasn’t done there, oh no! I had to travel the world and teach everyone how to have a gay time.

Traveled the south seas with strapping young men

[oh such young men]

Stroked the highest peak of Himalayas

[they were so big]

Went to all the Turkish bathouses then

[what did you do?]

I turned around and I did it again!

He taught men around the world to be gay

Not to frown, but to brighten their day

Kings, royalty and presidents

Here are some now, I present

King franz: gay

Lord Raulf: Faygela

Ambassador Tojo: Gayasan

Warrior Kugo: [clickclickclic, with lip wrist]

Everybody now!

Gayer than unicorns riding rainbows

Gayer than snapping and responding with sass

Gayer than wide stances in airport bathrooms

Gayer than taking it all up your ..

Sewall: Little miss muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider, sat down beside her, and told miss muffet I’m gay!

Sewall: So you see, Jimmy boy, that’s why I am how I am. Do you understand now?

Baker: I, I think I understand now Cleveland. I you know what? I’m sick and tired of being so uptight and angry all the time, like I have some stick up my ass. Do you think you could teach me how to be gay?

Sewal: Oh James, I thought you would never ask.

[embrace]

Baker: But Cleveland, is there anything that makes you not feel gay?

[butler walks in]

Butler: Mr. Sewall, your wife is on the phone

Sewall: Oh that old bag!

[closing music]

Anyways, that was pretty terrible and I don’t know what possessed me to write it at the time. But that is everything I can find, and is probably in existence, about Cleveland Sewall. And most of it is made up.

The Lost Columns: Jews, Gays, and Paladino

The Cardozo Jurist came out yesterday. I originally wrote a column following my normal trend of addressing gay rights within the Jewish community. However, after talking with other people about it, I came to the conclusion that I’ve driven the topic into the ground. Because I have never done that before.

Furthermore, the tone of the column was just a bit too over the top. Because I have never done that before, either.

Anyways, here is the Lost Column. I’ll post the one that was actually published later.

Today is election day. As a Texan, it is hypocritical of me to criticize other states’ political systems. It is also fun and easy — the New York gubernatorial race doubleplus so.

It was only a few election cycles ago when a Cuomo was the alternative to “the homo” and Carl Paladino was a registered Democrat. Of course, barring a sudden state-wide revelation that rent is too damn high, one of the two is governor-elect by now. However, the end of the election does not mean that campaign discussion has to end as well. Notably, Paladino’s tea party rhetoric about gay marriage in an address to Orthodox Jewish leaders deserves continued discussion, especially at a Jewish institution like Cardozo.

Upon first glance, Paladino’s speech does not seem too far from expected Republican talking points: “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”

Paladino even wisely omitted from his speech one especially nasty bit in his prepared text: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

However, this idea that certain demographics can be targeted within our society as less valid or less successful than the overarching uberculture is a dangerous concept, especially for the Jewish community. In New York, Judaism may seem like a well integrated, or maybe even dominant, ingredient in our pressure cooker of a nation. But for those whose world does not end at New Jersey, things can be quite different.

Back in 2007, Ann Coulter revealed in a CNBC interview an attitude towards Judaism that one does not often hear out loud: Jews need to be “perfected” into Christians. From her perspective, much like gays, Judaism is not an equally valid or successful option.

It is easy to dismiss Ann Coulter as a washed-up pundit begging for attention. But Coulter’s rhetoric is echoed in secret throughout the nation. This past month, U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert [what is the proper style here?] explained in a Newsmax magazine column that the government functions best when it is run by Christians. According to him, Christians are “the one[s] God has ordained to run the country.” Apparently other people, Jews included, are not an equally valid and successful option.

The Jewish community may be comfortable in our self-imposed urban ghettos. We can feel praised as talking heads throw around the term “Judeo-Christian” as if it meant something. And the enemy of my enemy is my friend has kept ties close during the War on Terror. But every time a pundit rants about the War on Christmas or the nation’s Christian foundations, it is a glimpse at just how thin the protective bubble is around non-Christian religion and culture. This may not be obvious at Cardozo, but it is in the rest of America. And when the courts are done explaining that Islam is actually a religion, and gay baiting no longer gets out the vote, Judaism will still be a minority, no matter how many times someone uses the phrase “Judeo-Christian morality.”

The problem is not just antisemitism or homophobia, but rather the idea that demographics can be targeted and attacked as less valid or successful than the dominating norms,  with no support but bigotry. The Jewish community must draw a line at attitudes like Paladino’s, even after election season has finished. The same moral influence that has pushed Ann Coulter and Rick Sanchez off the air should stand with anyone who wants to attack minority groups to score points. And right now that stand is with the gay community. After all, we shared the same ovens.

 

Another Evan column, and a reaction from the Dean

First, thanks to Roxanna Maisel, whose line “I know lots of things, but most of them are wrong,” I stole for this column.

The Cardozo Jurist came out yesterday, and I have another column in it. Because the paper only comes out monthly, each column needs to be a real barn burner. No time to waste precious column space on pot or masturbating. I have a list of the big wheels at the law school, and each column will address one. Last month was the Dean, this month is law journals. And you can read all about it at the Jurist website! Or here. Or whatever. (pdf: Mintz oct column)

In addition to my column, the Dean wrote a response to my column from the previous issue, in which I accused him of general cowardice when it came to gay rights. Of course my column was mean, blunt and over the top. It was written by me, Evan! However, it does raise the question of whether gay rights should be viewed as a political matter or as one of civil and human rights. I think that it unequivocally should be the latter, and there is no room for compromise. A general written statement does not have the authority of a public statement, which I guess the Dean made in this letter. So I’m glad I could force him into that position, or some such.

Also, notice the redesign of the newspaper! It looks pretty darn cool. They finally bought inDesign.

In which our hero again writes for a student newspaper

For those who didn’t see, I had a column in the September issue of the Cardozo Jurist. Mostly, I call out the Dean for trying to find the middle ground in a debate where there should be no middle ground. (pdf: Mintz Diller jurist column 9-10)

Last year, bubbling below the normal Sturm und Drang of law school, the issue of homosexuality at Cardozo was a constant thread waiting to erupt into scandal. The problem began with a letter from Yeshiva University president Richard M. Joel reacting to an undergraduate forum on homosexuality in the Orthodox world. In essence, the letter instructed gays to stay in the closet. The problem continued through Dean Diller’s unwillingness to assert Cardozo’s secular stance against discrimination. As students sat in their caps and gowns this past graduation, Diller probably hoped that the equality badges on some students’ arms would be the last of this scandal. But, the world does not live by Dean Diller’s hopes.

Over the summer, a group of more than 100 Modern Orthodox rabbis, educators, and doctors in Israel and the United States signed a “Statement of Principles” in direct reaction to that Yeshiva University forum. The Statement explained, “all human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” and that “embarrassing, harassing or demeaning homosexuals is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.” Furthermore, while the Statement said that Jewish law still condemns same-sex marriages, it instructed Jewish communities to “embrace the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting.” Despite the signing of this Statement, the controversy is still not dead, and Cardozo still has to face the extent to which it will publicly embrace the gay community.

In light of all this, Dean Diller probably imagines himself some great negotiator. On one hand, Cardozo maintains a policy that is certainly positive towards the gay community. We hire gay faculty and administrators, have talks about issues pertaining to the gay community, and overall seem like any other law school. However, to outside observers, Cardozo still refuses to assert its secular basis and a policy distinctly separate from the religious institutions of Yeshiva University. Oh, what a balance Diller has achieved. He has appeased students and faculty by maintaining a pro-gay policy within the walls of 55 Fifth Avenue. However, to outside observers and the black hat donors, Cardozo is in lockstep with Yeshiva’s religious policy. Like Lyndon Johnson, he has negotiated civil rights while maintaining the approval of his various political constituencies.

But Cardozo is no U.S. Senate and Diller is no Johnson. He is the Dean of a second tier law school who doesn’t have the guts to stand up and say that while there are religious justifications to deny equal rights to the gay community, the secular institution that is Cardozo is not bound by them. All gay panels, gay administrators, and gay clubs will not have the same effect as actively stating that Cardozo does not and will not discriminate.

Diller is trying to talk out of both sides of his mouth. But as anyone knows, you cannot really talk out of both sides at once. At one point, you have to decide who you’re talking to and who you’re spitting on. And given a three-year student turnover, he probably has no problem spitting all over the students.

The issue regarding gay rights has not died over the summer. From the Orthodox “Statement of Principles” to Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the march for gay rights continues. Hopefully, this semester, Diller will let the march for gay rights set foot inside Cardozo, and let the world, and Yeshiva University, know that it is allowed inside.

The column is somewhat ironic. I was opinion editor of the Thresher during the Prop 2 vote in Texas, which was a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or anything resembling it. During this time Ryan Goodland was leading the fight on campus against the amendment, while the Queers and Allies, or whatever the club was called then, basically did nothing. Ryan had written a column for the Thresher about it, and wanted to write another. I was hesitant to let another column on the topic run without some sort of counterbalance or opposing viewpoint.

“Evan,” as I recall him saying. “If someone wanted to run an anti-fascism column, would you insist on a column talking about how fascism isn’t so bad?”

In a few decades, people will look back at the gay marriage political battle with a similar attitude as those who look back at the ’60s’ civil rights battles. Heck, one only has to look back 6 short years to 2004 to find political rhetoric and policy about gay marriage that seems completely repulsive in a current light.

Cardozo is trying to find a middle. It should be on the forefront.