Friday, May 16, 2014

Not Sean

Yesterday, he stood beside me at the food bank.  I was happy to see he's still around; I'm sorry his circumstances are such that has to get help from the food bank.

I think I've written about him before.  To me he is Not Sean.  Someone on the bus told me his name and it sounded like "Sean."  One day at the Chinese restaurant, I introduced him to Jack as Sean.  He later corrected me.  His voice is so quiet and his accent is one I don't recognize, I don't know what he said his name was.  More than one syllable was involved, yet it sounded like "Sean."

The first I noticed him was a few years ago.  He was going to Harrisburg Area Community College and almost consistently got to the bus stop just in time.  He was astoundingly pretty.  I think he would be hard for anyone not to notice.  Yet so shy.

Spring, 2013, he was jubilant about being accepted at the college of his choice.  He showed me the letter; that surprised me.  This past January or February, he came into a bus shelter.  I asked if his college was having a long break or if he was on independent study.  He said, "College didn't quite turn out the way I wanted."  And it was clear I was not to pursue the subject.  I later gave him my email eddress and told him to get in touch if he ever wanted to talk.

Not Sean is maybe 20.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but he really is one of the most beautiful young guys I've ever seen.  "Twink" tends to be a pejorative term implying the young man is a himbo.  Not Sean is no himbo, although his appearance might give one that impression.

I would hope that his parents didn't banish him because he's gay.  They'd have had to know that by the time he went to HACC.  Maybe he left them.  I wish he'd trust me enough to talk.  Of course, he's maybe 20 and knows about and uses the food bank, so maybe he's getting help -- seeing a therapist or case manager.  I care about they boy.  I wish I knew how to get him to talk and understand that I'm concerned about him.  He may well be suspicious of me.  Perhaps he has reason to be wary about gay old farts.

Yesterday, he made no effort to let me know he was standing beside me.  Was he embarrassed to be seen at the food bank?  Why did he think I was there?  I suspect he was truly hoping I wouldn't see him, and that if I did, I would ignore him.  How could I ignore Not Sean?  I hope he comes to understand that if I see him I will say "hello" to him because I'm glad to see him.  He needs to know that people might like him.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Three in One

Last night, I wrote this on Joe.My.God.:
"What an amazing day. That's all. Just what an amazing day. I mean, when you grow up as the queer, faggy kid in the '50s and '60s in the wilds of eastern Lancaster County, this kind of thing still just blows me away. Good for our young folks who see today's 3 events as being great and about time. To me, it's just so unbelievable. What I was given to look forward to was a short life and an eternity in hell. Things like this...I couldn't even dream about them. And now breakthroughs in weddings, music, and football. Excuse me, please. It's the vapors."

The weddings refers to the first day a southern state -- Arkansas -- legally performed same sex weddings in Eureka Springs.  The music refers to Conchita Wurst winning this year's EuroVision -- probably not the first gay winner, but certainly the first gender fuck winner.  And football refers to Michael Sam winning a spot on the St. Louis Rams -- the first openly gay man to go into a football team; gay men have come out after their careers, but Michael is the first to enter the profession not hiding his sexual orientation.

In a way, it's a good thing that gay young people see this as a "well, why not?" kind of thing.  Good for them.  I like that such achievements are practically a given.  I do wish, though, that they had a better understanding of why this is such a big fricking deal.  And that these incredible "firsts" should happen on the same day is such a big deal.

I don't recall her name, but a woman once observed that she looked forward to the time when there was no longer a need to point out "the first woman to...", that it will just happen.  I look forward to that being true for gay people, too.  Right now, however, it's so important to observe such events.

Same sex marriage in Arkansas?  I remember the first days of integration at Central High in Little Rock in 1957, three years after Brown v. Board of Education.  Not that I was in Little Rock, but I remember the photos of African American teens walking up to the school with people screaming their ignorant, hateful, racist epithets, refusing to understand that "separate but equal" is a lie.  Separate but equal is why Jack and I will not accept the stupid offer of civil union and won't marry in a state where marriage equality is the law but not honored where we live.  It has to be real, it has to be the law of the land, or it means nothing.  We committed to each other decades ago.

Conchita Wurst?  When was the last time the world saw a bearded man in a dress sing a song that may well become an equality anthem?  I have no idea if Conchita is gay, and it doesn't matter.  His courage to appear as he is, singing a song he believes, gets my absolute respect and joy.

US football has pretty much become the US religion.  Change has come slowly in our sports.  I don't care for sports, so I don't know a great deal about it.  I DO know Jackie Robinson was the first African American to appear in US sports.  I DO remember the yelling and booing he got and the fracas over allowing black men in football and basketball.  And yesterday we saw the first openly gay football prospect be drafted into an NFL team.

It's likely that not-gay people don't understand the accomplishments, the victories that took place yesterday.  Any one of these things would be remarkable; that three such important victories took place in one day completely surpasses anything I might have thought even a decade ago, let alone when I was a kid who knew he was different but didn't know what that meant.  "Our" kids are coming out at younger ages, and good for them.  Many of them know they'll get the support that, unfortunately, is still needed.  "Our" kids will take yesterday in stride...they'll know it's important, but they won't know just how important it is to "their" elders.

Equality.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Son of Dream Center

Dream Center is what I call whatever it is that comes up with dreams that I have while asleep, not dreams as in aspirations.  It is easier for me to write about a dream in the present tense.  Because it's a dream, it does not have to make sense, nor does it have to be logical.  Therefore...

The theater is sort of a Hershey Theatre, sort of not.  I'm crew on this production.  It's a community theater production.  This is the dress rehearsal for the show which will run for one performance only.  None of us is happy about that.  We've been told that a full house in this theater is as many people as would see it in a longer run at our former venue.  I've been assigned to lights.  The control board is an old tower with lots of switches, lots of dimmers, and nothing to indicate what any of the switches and dimmers control.  The main curtain isn't quite down to the stage.  Bright lights shine through the gap.  I don't see anything on the board indicating anything is turned on.  The director angrily asks me about "the crap" against the back wall.  He's somewhat mollified when I tell him there's a backdrop that will hide it.  He tells me what he wants for lights.  I tell him no one's told me how the thing works.  He tells me to do what I can and leaves.  I snap on some switches and play with dimmers.  The orchestra tunes up.  It sounds like we have an audience.  For dress?  Were they charged admission?  Was it reduced, since this is a rehearsal?  Regardless, I'm glad people are out there -- it will make it feel like we've done two performances.  As the show progresses, I play slowly with the lights.  I notice we have a full house, not just "some" audience.  The cast is doing well.  At the end of the act, I hear shrieks of laughter and see feathers flying in from the house.  When the curtain is closed, I walk up to the balcony to look over the rail to try to figure out where the feathers came from  I see a couple of white doves flying around the ceiling and a net over the orchestra pit.  Retrieving the doves is not in my job description.  Then I hear a fight between the director and a younger person, probably the set designer.  Apparently, a lot of fake white doves and some live ones are caged somewhere and are released with some force.  The net is supposed to fly out over them, catch the live birds, drag down the fake ones (filled with helium), and drop them into the orchestra pit.  The director screams what a stupid idea it is.  The designer defends by pointing out that the audience loved it.  The director points at the flying birds.  "Who's cleaning up the shit?  And why didn't the net catch them?  And how did you think you'd get away with dropping that heavy net on the orchestra?"  "We can work on the net during the day tomorrow," the designer says.  As for dropping the net over the pit, "I asked each musician and every one of them thought it was a funny idea."  I notice the net is still over the pit, a few white feathers attached.

Good one, Dream Center.  Thank you.  But where the hell did that come from?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Go, Billy! Go!

All week, I've been celebrating the replacement of my old, broken DVD player with a new one by watching movies I have and like.  Cloudburst, Mysterious Skin, The Ritz, and scenes from others...the tornadoes and Aunt Meg scenes of Twister, the Wicked Witch of the West version of The Wizard of Oz, the first 45 minutes of Victor/Victoria, and so on.

Last night I decided on Billy Elliot, which I haven't watched in years.  I know I liked it enough to buy it, but I'd forgotten how utterly absorbing it is, even knowing the outcome.  The script is excellent, the direction is excellent, the choreography is wonderful, the cinematography is inventive, and the central ensemble are damned fine actors.  However,...

I grow tired of some words.  "Awesome" has outlived its novelty by about a decade.  "Totally" is irritating.  There are others, and one dealing with acting is "chemistry," as in, "They had great chemistry."  Yet I'm hard pressed to find a better description between Julie Walters and Jamie Bell.  The relationship between the two of them is not just convincing, because "convincing" describes the rest of the cast.  Rather, it's electric.  It's acting that I live for, when the performances leap from the stage or the screen and land in your emotions.

The progression from Billy trying to give the hall keys to Mrs. Wilkinson to their blow-up scene as she tries to prepare him for his audition is absolutely believable.  I love that during class there never isn't a shot of her without her holding a cigarette.  And anytime she reprimands one of the girls, it's always her daughter, Debbie.  The scene in which Billy lets Mrs. Wilkinson read his mother's letter sets up even more of a believable closeness between them, and that's followed by the delightful "I Love to Boogie."  She fights for him, she understands the family dynamic, but at one point she demands too much from Billy and bolts.  When she nearly whispers "Shit," it's one of the most revealing moments.  They fight in the changing room, she smacks him across the face, not unlike he'd be punished at home.  And then he cries and she holds him.  They've gone beyond forgiveness; they've reached an essential understanding.

For me, the one disappointing part of the movie is the final scene, Billy's debut in Swan Lake.  It is right that his father and brother should be there.  I love that Billy's gay childhood friend Michael is there with...his lover? his date? his boyfriend?  "I wouldn't miss this for the world," Michael tells Billy's brother.  I understand the logistics:  Billy's father and brother were comped in; Michael probably bought two tickets and they turned out to be beside the Elliots.  And yet it ticks me off that Mrs. Wilkinson wasn't there.  Maybe she died.  Maybe he will give her his house tickets for another performance.  And it's not like teachers always get their due.  However, after the intensity of that relationship, the love, the education, the care, the understanding, it felt to me that Mrs. Wilkinson was forgotten.

Still, it is one of the great movies.  If you think it's just a Broadway show, you really need to see the movie.  It is among the best.