December 01, 2009

I Won't Back Down...

As you may have noticed, I took a little hiatus from writing recently. I’d like to say that during my break I was doing something meaningful or productive like going green, campaigning for change, or rescuing orphaned cats in Zimbabwe, but alas, I was not.

I was stewing in a corner, taking a breath, counting to ten, and just trying to survive the twists and turns this road we call life throws at us. I watched friends of mine buy their first home, another get married, and another have their first child, all the while feeling inadequate because they were doing what you’re “supposed” to be doing in your early thirties.

What was I doing? Engaging in several brief affairs, busting my ass to cover the rent of my tiny, but adequate apartment, and continuing my downward spiral of addiction to hair products. Clearly, I was not on the same page as the rest of the grown ups in my life. Oh, and one of my best friends died suddenly and unexpectedly, which, for lack of a better phrase, really fucking sucked. He, like myself, marched to the beat of his own drummer and wasn’t necessarily living the way most people his age were “supposed” to be living either. He was one of the very few people who got me and my quirks. And now he was gone. Crap.

So there I was feeling completely out of place with the people still around me, and abandoned by the one who wasn’t. So no, I didn’t feel much like writing. Or laughing. Or dealing with the outside world in general, much less myself. I even lost the will to touch up my roots. Now that's saying something.

But for every frost, there is a thaw they say. Okay, I’m not sure they say that, but you know what I mean. In time, things started to happen around me and in the world that awakened that part of me that refuses to roll over and take it like a good boy. I would hear about hate crime and police brutality stories in the greater LGBTQ community that would somehow fly under the radar with hardly a mention in mainstream media. That would work me up into a state. And news of yet another state passing yet another measure further regulating us gay folk to non-existent citizens would anger me so much I could piss hydrochloric acid. And when the biggest national news story involving gays happened to be our “feud” with Beauty Queen-turned-Viper of the Decade Carrie Prejean and her work on behalf of Christianity to promote marriage as a sacred institution between men and women, well, damn it all to hell, someone needed to stand up and scream, “THIS IS BULLSHIT!” After a long spell on the island of Poor Pathetic Me, I am happy to return to my post.

The re-ignition of that spark that drives me to write about things ranging from my everyday mundane life to bigger things like political and social issues that face the gay community has reminded me of why its so important that none of us cave in to the stresses of everyday life (real or perceived) and back down from letting our “voices” be heard.

One of the greatest gifts in life, I’ve come to rediscover, is an enthusiasm for sharing stories with people. I consider this a gift because so much of our society is trained to shut up, be still and follow the status quo, whatever the hell that may be in your particular neck of the woods. If you’re a woman, you’re supposed to stand by your man, take care of your babies, and keep house. If you’re of a different race or ethnicity, you’re supposed to aspire to be like the “powerful” white man, but expected to keep your place behind him. And if you’re gay, lesbian, or trans, well, large portions of our planet would much rather not even acknowledge our presence, period.

This is where I stand up and scream, “THIS IS BULLSHIT!”

The most powerful way the disregarded can combat feeling bullied, stifled, and ignored is to stand up and speak out as often as they can, wherever they can. People like Del Shores who is the creator of the film and series Sordid Lives and writer of numerous plays touching on gay issues, radio personality Ben Harvey and comic Dave Rubin who host a weekly podcast about all things gay called The Six Pack, and local columnist/activist KaeLyn Rich who not only writes about issues facing the LGBTQ community and women’s rights, but speaks out about them every chance she gets, are people who’s work inspires me to do my part in being visible and heard. There is so much more to share and learn from each other on this planet.

Now that I’ve had this moment of reckoning, I promise to keep on sharing my stories if you promise to keep reading them! Hell, maybe some inspiration will rub off on you and you’ll want to share your experiences and stories too.

Just don’t ask to borrow my hair products. There are limits, people.

Originally written for The Empty Closet, a publication of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley in Rochester, New York.

September 01, 2009

Swinging With Lea DeLaria...

In a career spanning more than 25 years, Lea DeLaria has been entertaining the masses with her irreverent comedy and numerous film, stage, and television appearances. She has also been wowing audiences as a self described “chick singer with balls”, tearing her way through the jazz music scene and putting her own distinctive twist on the genre.

In the midst of a world tour promoting her latest CD (her third), Lea took some time out of her schedule to chat with me about her music and whether her focus on her musical endeavors means we’ve seen the last of the funny lady’s signature over-the-top humor.

Robby Morris: People see you with lots of different hats. Some people think of you as an actress. Some people think of as a jazz singer. I think of you as a lesbian icon. And obviously, there’s your stand-up comedy. How do you describe yourself?

Leah DeLaria: I always say I’m exactly like Sammy Davis Jr. except that I’m white and have both of my eyes (laughs).

Basically, all I mean by that is that I’m an old school entertainer. I do everything. And I do it well. In the old days, that’s what you had to do. Everything you just said about me you could have said about Judy Garland. It’s not that I’m comparing myself to Judy Garland, but I’m comparing myself to the thought that made a Judy Garland.

In my mind, you should be good at everything and you should do it all. So yeah, I am a stand-up. I’m sorry if I’m sounding immodest, but I’m a really good stand-up. There’s a reason why I was the first gay comic to be on television. There were a lot of gay comics in 1993, I assure you. There’s a reason why I was the one, and of all of them no one thought it would be me because I also happen to be an extremely dirty, foul mouthed comic (laughs). And you don’t get to be the leads in Broadway musicals by not being able to sing. You might do it once, but you certainly won’t do it three times like I have. You have to be a good singer.

I can belt a D sharp. There aren’t a lot of girls out there who can. And you don’t become the featured vocalist for the Newport Jazz Festival’s 50th Anniversary by just being a pretty girl with a pleasant voice. You must be a really good jazz singer. So yeah, I do all these things. And then I incorporate them on stage just like my idols did. Just like Judy did, just like Sammy Davis Jr. did, just like all the really old school entertainers, these people that I have emulated and worshiped since I was a kid. That’s why I wear so many hats.

RM: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to sing?

LD: The singing I did first. Before I was even a stand-up, I’ve been singing my whole life. My father is a jazz musician. The first thing I actually ever did professionally was sing with my father at this club where I grew up.

RM: Have you always been inspired by jazz music?

LD: Yeah, that was without a doubt my first love. Jazz is what brought me to the diva singers. It was through jazz that I heard Billie Holiday, who was probably my first big diva singer. And Billie Holiday, believe it or not, took me to Judy Garland. And then from there it was just a progression where I’ve fallen in love with these great empathetic singers. Nina Simone, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, even Marlene Dietrich; the people that pierce your heart when they sing. It was jazz that took me there.

RM: It’s interesting that you brought up Judy Garland because one of the songs I love on your last CD is your version of “Come Rain or Come Shine”, which I think is phenomenal.

LD: Well, thank you very much.

RM: Of all the songs you’ve put your own personal stamp on, do you have a favorite?

LD: It’s either “I Can Cook, Too” or “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”. It’s really hard for me to decide which one I like better. I sing them both all the time. Those are the ones everybody wants to hear (laughs).

RM: With your most current CD, The Live Smoke Sessions, you’ve gone back into the Great American Songbook. What made you go in that direction and how hard was it to choose the music you chose?

LD: It was so hard to choose that music. Once you say you’re going to do the American Songbook, even if you tackle only the five big ones, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, there are thousands of songs to choose from! Its crazy (laughs)! And Harold Arlen? Forget about it. Harold Arlen practically wrote the entire American songbook!

Some of the songs were just songs that I love and have always loved. “Night and Day” has always been one of my favorite songs. “Come Rain or Come Shine” has always been up there on my list. Others were songs that came to me. I was asked to sing at the hundredth anniversary of Harold Arlen’s birth at Carnegie Hall.

This was this big concert that had God and everybody in it, and I was one of the everybodys (laughs). They asked me to do “Devil And the Deep Blue Sea”, so me and Jeannette Mason, who produced the record and did quite a few of the arrangements, sat down and hatched out that arrangement. It brought the house down at Carnegie Hall, that arrangement! So that was automatically on the record.

What made me want to do a standards album was that it just seemed like it was time. I had done two trick pony records that were unusual, unique albums that make you stand out as a singer, so it was time for me to do some standards.

RM: Who is more demanding, straight audiences or gay audiences? Do you even look at it that way?

LD: I don’t really look at it that much anymore. The reason is so easily divided with me these days. I find the majority of my jazz audience is straight. When I’m doing something else, the majority of my audience tends to be gay. Always gay men, very rarely is it a lesbian audience. I find that the lesbians tend to be more demanding (laughs). There’s a shock (more laughter)!

But you know, whoever’s sitting in front of me is going to get the best show I can possibly do. If it’s a tired audience, an audience that’s not responding, I will make them respond. I will wake them up. It’s just a thing that I have. I don’t know what it is. Maybe a drive? But there’s no way that I’m going to leave the stage and not have every single person in that audience say, “That was the best show I’ve ever seen!” That’s really important to me. I never just go out half assed and go “it doesn’t matter.” It always matters.

RM: How important is it to you to get the gay community involved in the kind of music you do?

LD: In my mind, jazz is the one true art form that has come out of America. I would just love to get Americans involved in it. It’s odd to me that we as a people have somehow let the one thing we have given to the world kind of fall by the wayside.

We all like to dance and we all like pop music. We all love American Idol. But somewhere along the line we don’t seem to have any time for jazz anymore. So it isn’t just gay people that I want to get involved in my music, I want to get everyone involved. But gay people to me have very discerning taste. We’re always at the forefront of what’s going to be in and hip and now. In that respect, I’d love to get the gay boys out to see what I’m doing music wise and get them involved, because they’ll spread it out to everyone else.

RM: I know with your appearances on tour you’re promoting your music, but is stand-up still…?

LD: Oh, do you mean will I be funny? Absolutely! Always, honey! I never walk on stage and am not funny. Don’t you worry about that!


Originally published in the June 2009 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State's Oldest Continuously-Published LGBT Newspaper, since 1973, through The Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.


August 01, 2009

Absolutely Everybody...

You know you’ve reached an entirely new level of nuts when you find yourself taking a mini-vacation, yet you refuse to un-tether yourself from all the little gadgets that rule your life. This is a reoccurring theme for me. Not too long ago I wrote about the fabulous time my cell phone and I had in Las Vegas: the meals we had together, the shows we took in, the fabulous sights we saw! Really, I should register it as my domestic partner, because Lord knows it is the most solid relationship I have ever had.

But I digress. Every now and again, having such a device that allows constant access to the world around you can be extremely overwhelming. Take for instance a little break I took recently from the daily grind of regular life. No work, no writing, no futzing with my hair color. The only plans on my agenda were to catch a couple of movies, read a couple of books, and listen to my favorite podcast, the amusing and informative Six Pack, hosted by two of my favorite gays, Ben Harvey and Dave Rubin.

It would have been bliss. Unfortunately, every time I was alerted that a new message had come in, I dropped everything and jumped for my phone. It’s shameful the lack of will power I have. At one point, I’m pretty sure my cell phone actually called me a pussy. That’s right. Now I think the damn thing is taunting me. And with good cause. Most of the messages were hardly worth ceasing all activity for. No I don’t need Viagra and I don’t really care what Sarah Palin wore to her vacating the planet...err…resignation speech. Even I would have made fun of myself.

However, there was one message that required immediate attention. It was from a “friend” on Facebook who felt the need to share with me that he didn’t understand why everything I write about is “so gay”.

For real, ya’ll.

Typing away on my phone’s trusty QWERTY keyboard, I replied swiftly but rationally the following: “My life IS pretty gay. I write a gay column for a gay blog that is occasionally featured in a gay newspaper. I work for gay employers in gay specific retail. I am interested and invested in gay causes and entertainment. In fact, I am so gay I fully expect to burst into flames any moment now. What am I supposed to write about? Fucking sheep herding?”

So much for being rational.

I may often be ridiculous and ostentatious, but one thing I take very seriously is the need for every single queer living and loving individual to live life loud and proud. What I have to say may be inconsequential to some, but for others the simple act of me standing up and speaking out about gay anything may be a source of comfort to them or perhaps what inspires them to do the same. Also, sadly, there is still too much hatred and inequality in the world for me to sit silently in a corner. Being quiet, like me having my natural hair color, does not suit my personality.

My favorite funny lady, the incomparable Kate Clinton, actually explains it better. “Visibility is what makes it impossible for people to oppress us,” she told me recently. Amen, sister.

In any event, now that my cell phone has actually aided me in spreading the gospel about who I am, what I do, and why I do it, perhaps I shouldn’t feel so guilty about my addiction to constantly being on it. However one gets the message out there, I suppose, is not nearly as important as getting it out there period.

I’m here, I’m queer, and I am most likely going to be on my cell phone. I guess we all better get used to it.

Originally written for the August 2009 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State's Oldest Continuously Published LGBT Newspaper, since 1973, through The Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

July 01, 2009

My Favorite Clinton: An Interview With Kate Clinton...

For more than twenty eight years, self described “fumerist” (feminist/humorist) Kate Clinton has been delighting audiences with her witty commentary on issues ranging from all things political to the ongoing fight for LGBT equality and rights.

Being a huge fan of her work on stage and in print (all of which is brilliantly highlighted at her amazing website,, I was delighted when her publisher (the fine folks at Beacon Press) sent me an advance copy of Ms. Clinton’s new book, I Told You So, and had to be peeled off the ceiling when her publicist (the amazing Michele Karlsberg) made a life long dream of mine come true: the opportunity to have a conversation with a person who’s work has not only inspired my interest in humorously writing about my own experiences as a member of the LGBT community, but who has also encouraged many others to stand up and get involved in the issues facing our community.

Robby Morris: I Told You So is your third collection of writings. I loved it! Your writing is thought provoking, occasionally mischievous, often poignant, and extremely funny. How did you select what writings of yours would be used in this collection?

Kate Clinton: Some of them were from The Advocate when I was writing for them and also columns I’ve written for The Progressive and for The Women’s Review of Books. Then it was just really going through the blogs that I had written for the past three years and seeing ones that I could splice together. There was combination based on themes, you know the gay movement, the presidential campaign, the media, feminism, and also more personal entries. And then there are columns that Beacon wanted that were written just for the book. And those are the longer ones, which I really enjoyed writing.

RM: I found myself stopping every three seconds saying “this is my favorite line!”

KC: Oh, how wonderful (laughter)!

RM: Is there one particular part in your book that stands out as a personal favorite of yours?

KC: I don’t know how successful it was, but I liked the effort I put into, well, a couple of things. One, the section on race and really talking about being white. And I love to talk about humor. Those were fun to write.

RM: If I had to name one, I would probably single out the essay in your book titled “Feeling Potlucky” as one that really resonated with me. Not that I’m a lesbian nor are there any invitations to lesbian potluck dinners in my future, but because I personally long for the day when I can stop tweeting, get off the computer, leave my cell phone on the charger, and gather with a group of gay folk and discuss life, love, politics, and whatnot.

KC: Yeah, I agree!

RM: Why don’t people do this now?

KC: As a matter of fact, it has inspired a group of women to have potlucks. And the first potluck they were going to discuss my book!

RM: That’s awesome!

KC: Isn’t it?

I don’t know why. I think everyone just thinks they’re too busy and they can’t go through the trouble of scheduling and where it’s going to be and what if I bring the wrong dish. I don’t know what the thing is. I just want to be around my physical friends. I want that! But I want it when we’re healthy and know what’s happening. I don’t want to be in some gay old age home sitting with gay people for lunch but I don’t know what’s happening (laughter)!

RM: One of my favorite quotes of yours is, “Don’t ask. I am a sixty-year-old white woman with the last name Clinton. How do you think I feel?” In the portion of your book titled “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pant Suit”, you provide a commentary on the rise and the fall of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Excuse my use of the word “wrong”, but where do you think she went wrong and in fact do you believe she did go wrong?

KC: I do think there are a couple of places that she was wrong. I think people couldn’t do another Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton. I think there was that fatigue. I’ve talked about that with my political friends and they pooh-pooh it, but if you really think about it would be like 28 years of that! So I think that and I think, historically, as I said in the book, it’s time for baby boomers to step aside. It’s time for a new generation. Which Obama certainly represents.

And I just think there were tactical mistakes based on her generational understanding of campaigns. I think Obama made incredible use of the Internet and the connectivity it afforded and I think she ran an old school campaign. I think Bill harmed her in critical moments and she should have gotten rid of her campaign director, who seemed to antagonize everyone.

RM: You were able to include a beautifully written Afterward that was written a week after Barack Obama had been elected as the 44th President of the United States. We’re now well past his first hundred days in office. What are your feelings about him now?

KC: I’m enormously thrilled that we have a black president and an extraordinary first lady! I am sorry (with what) he was saddled with. I do think he has a lot of great ideas.

I had no illusions that how he got there was being a centrist and a moderate, but after what we’ve been through the last eight years, that moderation seems to be practically far left.

RM: What do you think of the current state of gay rights?

KC: I think that it’s a mistake for us to think that the world’s falling apart, people don’t have homes, food or jobs, and that we should feel silly saying “but what about my gay rights?” I think that’s a trap. We need to hold (Obama’s) feet to the fire, and insert gay issues where they should be, which is everywhere. In health care with HIV/AIDS, care for senior gay people, in education with anti-bullying laws and safe schools, and in the economy. The temptation is to say, “Oh, you’ll get these problems solved and then we’ll get back to you on the gay issues.” We just can’t back off.

I think with Prop 8 and its aftermath, the whole marriage equality issue really has galvanized the delightfully entitled gay youth. I was marching with them here in New York and they were outraged! “What do you mean we can’t get married? That’s an outrage!” And I was like, “Well, good!”

RM: I’m going to go into a psychotic direction real quick.

KC: I call it a show (laughter)!

RM: Because you refer to both of them in your book, if you were stranded on a desert island, like a castaways on ABC’s LOST, if you were forced to, who would you rather form an alliance with, Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin?

KC: Wow, that’s amazing (laughter)! I think I’d learn to swim (laughter)!

RM: Do you ever distinguish between writing for the page and writing for the stage or does it all kind of end up bleeding into each other?

KC: One does help the other. I’m working on a piece about Stonewall right now. I will be performing this weekend, so I know the things I write about that will fuel material for a show.

RM: We’ve seen Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Wanda Sykes, the list goes on and on, all get raked over the coals for being outspoken when it comes to politics. You’re pretty outspoken yourself in regards to the last administration. Do you ever find yourself worrying that “wow, maybe I’ve gone too far?”

KC: Over my whole career I think I’ve had one time. I was saying don’t you wish sometime Barbara Bush had bundled up her little boys in the family car and taken them down to the lake? It was right after that poor woman put the kids in the car and rolled it into the lake. I tried it a few times and then I thought, oh my God, that’s even too mean for me!

RM: You’ve been an activist for several decades now and have kept audiences in stitches with your live performances and writing. What keeps you still wanting to do this?

KC: I have no other measurable skills (laughter). People are always asking me to be on the boards of their organizations. I start misbehaving and trying to get other people to giggle with me and make fun of people, so they really don’t want that! But I am able to contribute by performing.

Basically I’m interested in ending the violence, ending homophobia and ending the oppression of women, so it seems like I have a couple of more year to go.

RM: PRIDE season is upon us.

KC: The trade-show (laughter)!

RM: We have so many reasons to celebrate and rejoice in our accomplishments as a community. But, explain to the less informed why it is still important for us to come out and stand up for LGBT equality, rights and visibility.

KC: I do think that it is still critical. We have created these very safe spaces for ourselves, these so called GAY-ted communities (laughter) for ourselves and we’re entitled to that. But it’s important to be visible, not just to each other and at circuit parties, but to be visible at work and visible to our families. I just think that visibility is what makes it impossible for people to oppress us. When we’re invisible, people can make the most outrageous statements about us, but when you say “You’re actually talking about ME, darling…”

As sophisticated as our media strategies, political lobbying, and organizations are, you can not underestimate the power of coming out to your bank teller and the guy at the dry cleaners.

RM: Just this morning I received a message from a friend on Facebook dying for me to ask you this one, last question. My apologies in advance. What did you think of that last episode of The L Word? (For those unaware, Ms. Clinton, with the aid of a clown’s nose, made a memorable appearance as a sex therapist in the show’s third season.)

KC: (Groans) You know, it felt like really bad sex (laughter)!

I Told You So (Beacon Press, 2009) is available in book stores now! For even more Kate Clinton (including blogs and vlogs), check out her website!

Originally published in the July 2009 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State's Oldest Continuously-Published LGBT Newspaper, since 1973, through The Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

June 01, 2009

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy...

I think this might be the year I give love a chance, dear readers.

I hear your collective gasps and am not entirely surprised. I admit, on more than one occasion I have made much ado about how I think there is not much ado about this thing you people call romance. I have watched countless friends meet the man (or woman) of their so called dreams and promptly go on mental holiday. They stop being their own people and become zombies. It’s like they have unzipped their heads and let their brain fall out. Don’t we have homes for people like that? If not we should.

I’m wary of becoming one of those people. But apparently, I’m not immune to it either.

It started out innocent enough. I encountered Soldier Boy (his name changed to protect the guilty) at one of the various events I attend and pretend to be interested in. He was tall and beefy in all the right places. That certainly caught my attention.

“Are you staring at me because you think you know me, or because you think I’m cute?” he says approaching me.

Oh shit.

“I’d like to know you,” I found myself saying out loud. Note to self: if you think what you’re saying sounds like cheesy porn dialogue, it probably does. I need to learn not to speak.

“Would you?” Soldier Boy countered with a mischievous smile.

Sold! To the flamboyant blonde with his mouth hanging open and drool forming in the corner of it.

For the rest of the evening, we sat in a corner telling each other all about our lives. I was delighted in how much we had in common. We both hail from the Midwest. We both like the color blue. I spend my day working in a gay gift store and nights writing about my big gay life. He’s in the military (hence the name Soldier Boy) and wants to write about his experiences over in Iraq. I like guys in the military. He likes guys who like guys in the military and guys he thinks are funny and cute. Like me.

Oh shit. Again.

“You should let me take you out for dinner this week.” he offered. I accepted.

We parted company that evening and I was left with this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. Kind of like all of my internal organs were doing somersaults and someone had reached in and scrambled my very being. Now for some of you, this would have been just a regular Tuesday night and it probably would have involved Elbow Grease. For me? Dare I say it was that feeling is you get when you really, really like someone. Or so I’ve heard.

A day later Soldier Boy called and we did go out for dinner and then for a walk. I’m proud to say I was a complete lady and it was a very sweet and wholesome evening. He even walked me to my door, where he proceeded to give me a simple kiss and asked if we could see each other again. I, or should I say the fat girl in high school being asked to dance that had taken over my body, said yes. So we did go out again. And again. Somewhere along the way, quicker than you can say Camp Pendleton Scandal, dinner quickly gave way to dessert, if you know what I’m saying. It was fun, relaxing, and comfortable being with this guy, something I’m not altogether used to, because lets face it, matters of the heart have never been my forte. I usually run screaming towards the hills. But not with my Soldier Boy. For the next two weeks, life was perfect.

Just when I was about to become one of those silly people that doodles their married name in notebooks and starts thinking in we instead of I, reality set in.

“I have to go home,” he said quietly.

“Oh, is that all,” I replied, somewhat relieved. “I thought you were going to say you had to go back overseas.”

“Well, I do, but I need to go home first.”

So much for relief.

“Oh, well, um, I guess that makes since. That’s your job,” I replied, trying to stay calm and reasonable. “Of course you want to see your family before you go.”

“Yeah. There’s something else I need to tell you though, but you have to promise to not get upset.”

In the next few moments, dear readers, my fantasy romance ended. Abruptly. I won’t go into the gory details because I’m really trying to limit the amount of four letter words I use in my writing. Suffice it to say, the word fuck proceeded and followed every other word out of my mouth and I was upset. But I’m not sure who I was more upset at. Him for dropping a bomb on me (ironic choice of expression, don’t you think?) or myself for taking a mental leave of absence and becoming one of those lovey-dovey dopes that I’m so critical of? Maybe I was upset because I was angry at the wrong thing.

So, are we back to square one, you might ask? Not necessarily. I leaned something extremely valuable from this episode in my life. Love, it seems, is not a weapon of mass destruction. People, on the other hand, can be far more dangerous when they use it incorrectly. But I’d like to see my mind changed about that, too.

I think this just might be the year I go about doing that, dear readers.

Title Inspired By the Song: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (listen/watch here!)
Bette Midler
Available On: The Divine Miss M.

Originally written for The Empty Closet, New York State’s oldest continuously-published LGBT newspaper established in 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

May 01, 2009

The Way That We Live...

Sitting in my living room one evening clicking through a zillion channels, I became alarmed by a horrendous sound coming from my television. What I thought was Mariah Carey caught in a beaver trap was in fact the high-pitched squeal of a thousand gay souls lamenting the sad state of gay visibility on the small screen.

Okay. Being the big queen I am, perhaps I’m exaggerating. The sound was coming from me, because we are not amused.

When it comes to seeing queer life being represented on television, the GLBT community continues to come up shorter than a box of Trojans at a frat party.

Now I know some of you will wag your fingers at me and point out that we do in fact have two cable channels devoted exclusively to homo-centric programming, Here and Logo. And while I enjoy and support the concept of these channels, let’s be honest: with all due respect to the men and women behind these ventures, their programming truly does test the limits of mediocrity, and that’s putting it mildly. A few notable exceptions are Here’s Dante’s Cove and The Lair, which are fun, and Logo’s Exes & Ohs and Sordid Lives: The Series, which are brilliantly written and acted. But for the most part, no one is going to shell out extra bucks for substandard entertainment.

Of course we have had a handful of shows that have paved the way for greatness in gay specific television like Ellen, Will & Grace, Queer As Folk, and The L Word, but all of these have become relics of queer history, and much like the final episode of The L Word, a frustrated and unexplained void has been left in their places (and speaking of The L Word, enough already! I confess. I killed Jenny Schecter! Satisfied?).

Since I’ve started bitching about my tribe’s glaring omission from the tube, friends have pointed out that there are still quite a few gay characters on television and the organization GLAAD spends hours combing the airwaves for traces of queer life for their an annual report (thus proving they actually do have something to do other than stand on a box and boo and hiss at the world to justify their existence.) But this does not satisfy me. It’s not enough that we have token supporting roles on television. Having young gays on a soap opera that went months without so much as a lustful glance at each other (Luke and Noah on As the World Turns), an orthopedic surgeon clumsily testing the waters of lesbianism (Grey’s Anatomy’s Callie Torres), a non-sexual gay assistant (Marc St. James on Ugly Betty), or a gay couple (I don’t even know their names!) whose sole purpose is to offer the occasional catty or pithy remark to a bunch of desperate housewives, one of which has a gay son we hardly see, does not balanced representation make!

I maintain that being present, yet sidelined on the tube is not enough, folks. We can fill twenty-two minute sitcoms and forty-four minute dramas in ways that are appealing to all audiences. We have histories and stories that are just as compelling and provocative as anyone else! Okay, maybe you don’t, but I do! Chubby, gay boy from the Midwest spends his time in the big city entertaining an eclectic crowd of people working at a gay gift/video store and as a humor columnist, while teaching the world that being unique is so much more interesting than being the common douche bag. Hilarity ensues. Where the hell is that show?

That powers that be (whoever they are) need to wake up and smell the coffee (delicious coffee, by the way, being served at a certain local gay coffeehouse I highly recommend!). If they want our viewer ship, I suggest they get with the program and gay things up a bit. Otherwise, I’m chucking the television out the window and am going to shove the remote control straight up someone’s…

Title Inspired By the Song: "The L Word Theme" (Follow link to hear this tune!)
Artist: Betty
Available On: The L Word, Season Two Soundtrack

Originally written for The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published GLBT newspaper established in 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

April 01, 2009


I never thought I’d say this, but have ya’ll ever felt the rapid advances in technology is ruining civilization? I do. This is huge of me to confess, because I have an obsession for gadgets and whatnots that keeps me connected to the world that borders on addiction.

Recently, four friends from work and I spent a long weekend in sinful Las Vegas. One of us was content to shut out the world and bask in the glory that was our hotel, The Luxor. Another was the social butterfly who wanted to cruise the streets (and the hot men!). The third methodically plotted his route to the bars and the bathhouse for the weekend.

What was I doing? I was busy wandering up and down The Strip texting people back home and checking my e-mail every twelve seconds because, well, thanks to technology, I could. I do believe that the only time I wasn’t futzing with my phone was during the two shows I attended during our stay (Cirque du Soliel’s Zumanity and Bette Midler’s The Showgirl Must Go On, which incidentally, were perhaps the only two things gayer in Vegas that weekend besides my traveling companions and me).

A few weeks later, when the weather was unseasonably warm and everyone was outside, where was I? I was tethered to my desk trying to recover as many files as I could from a faulty hard drive on my laptop. Faced with the prospect of losing my writing, music, and other various important items housed on my computer (and maybe not to you, but I consider my Corbin Fisher and Sean Cody files extremely important) I was not leaving the house, hell, I wasn’t leaving my chair until my beloved hard drive was restored. Occasionally I got up to pee, and even then I hesitated moving. Thank God I have the ability to back certain things up on my phone.

Insanity I tell you.

I would like to point out, though, that I am not alone in this saturation of technological gluttony. I see you with your iPhones, Blackberrys and such. You know who you are, too.
You’re the ones who are click, click, clicking your way down the street, in stores, in bathrooms, anywhere and everywhere on these pint sized little doo-hickeys, unable to make yourself stop. We are unable to complete a sentence or thought in public, but damn it we can type one hundred and forty characters a minute –with our thumbs, too.

And speaking of words and proper use of language, really, with all these magic devices, who need basic communication skills? If it’s not an abbreviation or acronym (BTW, LOL, LMAO, and my personal favorite, WTF) or some sort of deranged smiley face, you might as well be grunting like Jodie Foster in Nell, because we will have no idea what you are saying.

And don’t even get me started on how all of this nonsense has affected the art of personal relationships. Who needs that kind of intimacy? We’re too busy punching keys to actually have a physical relationship with someone. They call it sexting now, which frankly scares the hell out of me. You thought it was rough typing with one hand on a real size keyboard. “Multitasking,” if you will, on a small keypad or a touch screen, is just a catastrophe waiting to happen.

I guess my point is that I fear that if we continue to go in this direction, being technologically connected will eradicate any need to be emotionally and personally connected to real people. And it’s a damn shame. I could go on at length (and girth) about how guilty this makes me feel, but my phone just chirped and I need to check my text messages while I’m downloading the latest Cody Cummings video.

Title Inspired By the Song: "Phonography"
Artist: Britney Spears
Available On: Circus (Deluxe Edition)

Originally written for The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

March 01, 2009

I Stand...

It dawned on me recently at a social gathering that there is a part of me that feels completely disconnected from my age group. The ideals and principles my friends feel passionately about don’t seem to match up with mine entirely. They’re trying to change the world by rallying for world peace, going green, and saving everything from the animals to the rain forests, whilst I still find myself hung up and devoted to this thing called gay liberation.

“Gay Liberation? Are you being serious?” one of my queer friends asked. “Um, Earth to Robby. It’s 2009. That ship has sailed. We no longer need to be liberated.”

Oh really?

That’s the problem with kids today (and oh my God I can’t believe I just said that! What am I, a hundred and two?). Just because this isn’t Stonewall and bricks aren’t flying through the air, just because we’re better represented in the mainstream, and really, who can swing a cat without hitting some sort of gay friendly group or organization, when did we start following the general misconception that the worst is over for us gays and the struggle for acceptance is a moot point. Apparently, we’re here, we’re queer, and everybody can chill out, the world is used to it

Excuse me for a moment. I need to find a paper bag to breathe into.

Dare I say we all need to close our laptops, turn off our cellular devices, mute our personal media players and wake up and smell the coffee? We are hardly liberated, people. Of course it doesn’t suck as much as it did years ago and of course we have made huge progress in getting fair and balanced representation and treatment in the world, but, and I hate to rain on anyone’s parade here, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the problems facing gays today. There are still too many people who think the gay population should be “exterminated”. There are still too many people that hide behind religion rather than try to acknowledge our very presence and God given rights. The government, including our president (who to be fair has only been on the job a few months, but so far I like), doesn’t really seem to know how to “deal” with us either Are we tax-paying, law abiding citizens of this country or just a hot button issue? Do they shut up, listen and do something about our grievances or instead “handle” us as if we’re a bunch of unruly children who have been deprived of naps. Having all of this on my conscience makes me want to climb to the top of the tallest building and scream as loudly as possible, “Damn it! I’m a human being! What’s to deal with? I just want to be treated like a human being!”

We all deserve equal rights and fair treatment, no matter our color, gender, or sexual orientation. And though we’ve come a long ways from the days where the closet and secrecy were the only options, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that things being better than the way they were before is somehow the answer or acceptable. We still have a lot to talk about and strive for.

Until that day comes that sexual identity and orientation truly is a non issue (without exception), so long as there are people that don’t accept things that are perhaps not of their experience or preference, and as long as there are people or groups out there that make it their mission to not only deny us our rights but our very existence, you can bet my plus sized ass that there is still a need for gay liberation. I, for one, am not turning the other cheek or backing off.

Who’s with me?

Title Inspired By the Song: "I Stand"
Idina Menzel
Available On:
I Stand

Originally published in the
March 2009 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

February 01, 2009

Come Next Monday...

Have you ever had one of those life-altering experiences that dramatically changes the way you see things? Perhaps it was the beginning or the end of some relationship. Maybe you or someone you love has suffered a major illness or experienced a profound loss. Whatever the case, I truly believe that everyone has at least one serious moment of reckoning in their lifetime. Mine came 30,000 feet in the sky as I found myself strapped into what I would consider a child’s car-seat; hyperventilating while aboard what I was convinced was the smallest fucking airplane in existence.

That’s right. Yours truly is terrified of flying. Along with the basic fear of, “We’re all going to DIE!” is the fact that I have never felt that someone of my size and stature should be permitted to hover above the ground and barrel through the air at speeds usually reserved for time travel. And quite frankly, if God wanted me to be able to fly, he would have given me a hot angel, preferably in the form of porn star Roman Heart, to ride upon.

Regretfully, my angel came in the form of a puddle jumper provided by an airline that sounds a lot like UNITED. So there I was trapped on this coffin with wings thoroughly convinced that we were going to crash or that I would have a heart attack. And as you probably know, if you’re as neurotic as I, a series of events usually occur as this darkest of hours. Your life flashes in front of your eyes (I was a happy child, a rebellious teenager, and an emotionally volatile adult. I know. Surprising isn’t it?). Then you find yourself drowning in your own personal sea of regrets (I should have finished school, I should have planned better for my future, and why did I sleep with him or him or him or him?). And of course no act of contrition if complete with out the obligatory, “Good Lord, if you get my big ass safely back on the ground, I promise I will be a better person and do all those things I’m supposed to do.”

Somehow someone somewhere heard my plea because I did in fact land safely with nary a hair out of place. Thankfully I would be around for many, many years to keep my promise to the Almighty, whoever he or she may be.


Though I’m sometimes petty, bilious, and occasionally ridiculous (ahem) I do believe in keeping one’s word. So, in order to not get struck down by lightning at the next possible opportunity, in front of God, his followers, non-followers, and for the three people who read my column every month, I make the following public vows…

I will try my hardest to remember that life is a gift to be treasured and to not waste a single second of it wondering if I could have, would have, or should have done something better or different. I will embrace my journey with an open heart and an open mind with all the appreciation I can muster. And I will do so in a less bitchy manner than I’ve managed to thus far. Maybe.

I will learn to count to ten and take a breath before I react to people or things that I don’t quite understand or favor. Okay, realistically I should probably count to a hundred and have an inhaler on hand. But I will learn patience, even if I have to beat the hell out of someone to do it.

I will love my friends unconditionally and without exception. Even when they’re stupid.

I will be more appreciative of my family and focus on the positive aspects of our various relationships rather than the therapy bills they have bestowed upon me.

I will stop being so critical of the members of my own tribe, the dear and diverse GLBT community and remember that strength is in numbers. And I don’t just mean phone numbers.

I will no longer take my physical well being for granted. I will eat well and exercise more and perhaps I’ll even find out their names this time.

I will no longer take my emotional well being for granted, either. I will continue to speak my mind and rid my spirit of negative thoughts and feelings, most likely in this column. My apologies in advance.

And finally, dear readers, the next time I find myself in some sort of semi-precarious situation (real or imagined) perhaps I won’t turn into such a pussy and make promises I can’t possibly keep.

Title Inspired By the Song: "Come Next Monday"
K.T. Oslin
Available On:
 Greatest Hits: Songs From an Aging Sex Bomb

Originally published in the February 2009 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.