Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"I'm From Missouri"

I don't share the enthusiasm over the Pope's remarks about gay priests during an 80 minute press conference on his flight home from Brazil.
I didn't hear anything that was a departure from the standard Vatican party line for the last 40 years on the issue.  It was the same old thing in a slightly more attractive package.

Your Holiness,
If you really do refuse to pass judgment on gay folk, then how about dropping the Catholic Church's global opposition to any civil rights legislation protecting gays and lesbians?  Have the American Catholic Bishops' Conference publicly back ENDA and all other legislation that puts gays and lesbians under civil rights protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation.  Put the weight of the Catholic Church behind global efforts to prevent hate crimes, to end oppression of gays and lesbians in Africa, Russia, Iran, and other countries, and to decriminalize same sexuality around the world.

Talk is cheap.

Show me.


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York led the opposition to including gays and lesbians in New York City's Human Rights laws for 16 years.  Thomas Cuite was the Archdiocese's point man on the City Council to stop gay rights legislation first drafted in 1970 from coming to the floor for a vote.  He stacked the committees he chaired with opponents of the bill.  The bill finally passed in 1986 a year after Cuite's retirement.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

To Boycott Or Not To Boycott

... that is a question.

Russia has declared war on its LGBT citizens.  The government, the Russian Orthodox Church, public opinion, and allied thugs are all searching out and destroying gay and lesbian Russians, especially the young.  As I've said many times on this blog, homophobia plays the same role now that antisemitism did a century ago, as a focus for anti-liberalism, anti-cosmopolitanism, and anxieties about displacement in the modern world.  Russia, famous for its historic pogroms, is starting another one against gays and lesbians, and largely for the same reasons as the pogroms from a century ago, as a divide et impera tactic.  Rally the suckers around a common threat, and they won't notice when you break into their houses and rob them blind.  The ruling kleptocracy of the Russian Federation always needs to distract its people.  And what better distraction than a small minority even more despised than the Jews?  They can't get away with singling out ethnic minorities anymore (never mind that they continue to bomb the hell out of the Chechens in the Caucasus).  International opinion won't let the Russians get away with racism.  After the Tsars, Hitler, and Stalin, there are hardly any Jews left in Russia.  So what's left?

Fags!  Thank God!  Butt-fucking perverts are there to save Holy Russia!  Finally something that no one understands and everyone hates to rally the people round the Double Eagle again!  Ring the bells!  Cense the icons!  Waive the flags!

With all that against them, Russian gay activists join their central African counterparts as the toughest queers on the planet.  No one is more bold and brave than our Russian and African comrades.

The Winter Olympics are coming to Russia, to the town of Sochi this year.  There is a lot of talk about boycotting the games in gay circles.  Frankly, I'm against boycotting the Olympics.  It seems to me that past Olympic boycotts punished not the offending regimes, but the athletes who worked and trained for years to compete in the games.  Here, one of our very own, openly gay figure skating champion Johnny Weir says as much:

The fact that Russia is arresting my people, and openly hating a minority and violating human rights all over the place is heartbreaking and a travesty of international proportions. I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof. I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world. Olympics are history, and they do not represent their host, they represent the world entire. People make their own futures, and should a government or sponsor steal that future, whether it be a Russian government or American government, it is, as an athlete, the death and total demolition of a lifetime of work. Support the athletes. There isn’t a police officer or a government that, should I qualify, could keep me from competing at the Olympics.

It might be a small thing, but gay bars around the country are starting pour the Stolichnaya down the sink, and canceling contracts with Russian distilleries.

I hope our athletes, gay and straight, make some kind of gesture to protest this latest Russian pogrom.  The Olympics are no stranger to political gestures by athletes.

Let's show solidarity with our Russian comrades by an economic boycott, by our support, by providing asylum if necessary, by public gestures, but let's not punish our athletes with an Olympic boycott.

And let's not forget the boldest and most cutting protest political band of our era now languishing in Russian labor camps, Pussy Riot.


LGBT activists in Russian have also decided against an Olympics boycott.  Here is Nikolai Alekseyev:

It's official! The organizing committee of Moscow Gay Pride and founders of the banned Pride House Sochi decided today against the boycott of Winter Olympics in Sochi and instead to organize Winter Sochi Pride on the day of the opening of Olympic Games on 7 February 2014. Join us! It will be much more effective to draw attention to official homophobia in Russia all around the world and expose the hypocrisy of the International Olympic Committee which went into discriminatory agreements with Russian regime and of the European Court of Human Rights which still has not considered our complaint concerning the unlawful denial to register Pride House Sochi! Vive Sochi Pride 2014!

Hat tip to JoeMyGod.

The Detroit Institute of Arts in Danger

One of the major museums of the USA faces an existential crisis not of its own making.  There is talk among Detroit's many creditors of selling off all or part of the museum's collections to pay off the city's debts.  That would effectively mean the end of the museum as an institution.  If even one painting is sold off, any prospect of future donations from collectors would end immediately.  Funds from donors large and small would dry up.  The building would be forced to close.
The City of Detroit officially owns the collection in a unique arrangement going back a century.  The museum is run by a non-profit organization, The Detroit Institute of Arts Corporation.

Museums sell or "deaccession" works of art very reluctantly.  Usually they do so with the prospect of acquiring another exceptional work of art.  In the past, museums would sell off works of art from periods that were out of fashion at the time, a practice which museum staffs now deeply regret (19th century salon paintings and sculptures, Pre-Raphaelite paintings, late 19th century Decadent-Symbolist works, together with Italian 17th century paintings frequently suffered this fate in the 20th century).

I have a little history with the DIA.  I used to visit it frequently when I studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1982.  I would drive my old 1972 Plymouth Satellite with the Texas plates down Woodward into town on weekends, usually Sundays, to visit the museum.  Even in 1982, the museum was having funding problems.  On some weekends, whole sections of the museum would be closed down because they couldn't afford the guard staff.

Now Detroit, its elected government sidelined by an administrator appointed by the governor by executive fiat, finds itself between 2 very desperate groups put in the position of competing with each other; the long suffering residents of Detroit and the city's retired employees who must now face a substantial reduction of benefits that they worked their entire lives to get.  The museum is caught in the middle of this fiscal crisis 50 years in the making; the cumulative effect of economic decline, white flight, neglect, mismanagement, and corruption.

Selling the museum's collection would be a one-off sale.  The whole collection might raise over $2 billion, no small sum, and would fill a large part of the hole in Detroit's finances.  On the other hand, once that collection is gone, it is gone forever.  The city will never get it back.  Any works of art sold from the museum would most likely end up in private collections and never see the light of day again.  Public institutions no longer have the financial clout to purchase major works of art in a world where a single Van Gogh painting can sell for upwards of $100 million.

This raises the basic question of what museums, especially art museums, are for.  Viewed in one light, American art museums are imperial institutions, conspicuous displays of the loot of the world (art museums line the Mall in Washington DC).  They are the creations of the old plutocratic class that ruled the USA in the Gilded Age to glorify the country that they owned, and to somehow redeem and civilize the degraded savages who worked for them (your grand-parents and great grand-parents).
Viewed in another light, art museums are very democratic institutions.  Major works of art once viewed exclusively by princes, high priests, and the wealthy are made available to anyone and everyone to look at in person in the original.  Everything from Dogon masks once viewed only by initiates to the paintings that adorned the palace walls of Italian princes can now be viewed by everyone from brain surgeons to janitors.  The cleaning lady and the tenured Harvard professor can stand together and enjoy the same work of art in the original.  Both in some way "own" that work of art.

And now in our increasingly libertarian age, the very idea of public collections available to all is in doubt.  Despite the shifting directions of the ideological winds, art remains the manifestation of individual and community thoughts, dreams, aspirations, anxieties, hopes, etc.  Works of art are the inner life of humanity incarnated.  As such, art is the common property of all.

Here are some highlights of DIA's collection, a little glimpse of what might be lost, and lost forever.

James MacNeil Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold, The Falling Rocket, 1875; Whistler's most controversial painting.  Ruskin accused Whistler of "flinging a pot of paint" in the face of the public.  Whistler sued Ruskin for libel in a trial that ruined both men.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peasant Wedding Dance, 1566

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith With Her Maidservant, circa 1623

Rembrandt, The Visitation, 1640

Vincent Van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

Frederic Edwin Church,  Cotopaxi Erupting, 1862

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals painted specially for the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1932 - 1933

Claude Monet, Gladioli, circa 1876

Henri Matisse,  The Window (Interior With Forget Me Nots), 1916

Nicholas Poussin, Diana and Endymion, circa 1630

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What If It's All Just Rubbish?

What if everything I believe and hope for is ultimately proven wrong, and in the end, there is only destruction waiting for me and for everyone, that there will be no resurrection or happy reunions.

Well, so what?

What have I really lost by believing such things?

Have I truly lost anything by opting out of the actuarial reasoning that rules the world?

Dame Julian

Page from the Amesbury Psalter

I'm not really competent to do any detailed theological analysis of Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love, and so I won't.

I'll never really understand the "tough love" crowd.  As if life for most people isn't full of enough ordeals and trials.  A world ruled by death and driven by greed and fear produces no shortage of fiery hoops for people to leap through.  Why should we add to that burden by turning the Gospel into yet another ordeal, another test?  The "muscular Christianity" crowd usually dismiss my concerns as "cheap grace."  Grace that has to be earned isn't really Grace at all.  It's merit.  Grace is a free gift or it's nothing at all.  Complain about Bishop Spong all you want, but his point about God loving "wastefully" is spot on, knowing of course that nothing is waste in God's economy.  The Gospel is supposed to be Good News and understood as such by the hearer.  We are supposed to find rest unto our souls in the shade of the Cross, not another calamity laid on top of the condemnation of the Decalogue.  I can't help but detect a little glee underneath the earnestness of people eager to lay ever more burdens on other people's shoulders.  As far as I am concerned, they are twin to the people who always go on about the "creative destruction" of the free market.  As economist Paul Krugman observes, the fans of free market creative destruction imagine themselves to be the creative destroyers, not the creatively destroyed.  So too the complainers about "cheap grace" draw circles for others to go into but not themselves.

The 14th century saw no shortage of fire-breathing preachers eager to tell people that all the calamities that they suffered -- plague, economic collapse, rebellion, warfare, famine, etc. -- were somehow their fault, that they suffered the just retribution of an angry God.  Even the art of the time is angry.  In the midst of a world filled with destitute and bereaved people who heard of nothing but God's wrath against them and everything they knew, there appeared an unknown woman reminding people in the face of so much evidence to the contrary that God did indeed love them and wanted them to be well and to be happy.  Even more, the desolate people of 14th century England who regularly visited Julian should feel confident and assured by God's love, that God shares their sufferings and their very substance.
The heartfelt desire that mankind had to be saved appeared in Jesus.  Jesus is everyone that will be saved, and everyone that will be saved is Jesus -- all through the charity of God; and through virtue, obedience, humility, and patience on our part.
When Adam fell, God's Son fell.  Because of the true unity which had been decreed in heaven, God's Son could not be dissociated from Adam.  By Adam I always understood Everyman.  Adam fell from life to death, first into the depths of this wretched world, and then into hell.  God's Son fell, with Adam, but into the depths of the Virgin's womb --herself the fairest daughter of Adam --with the intent of excusing Adam from blame both in heaven and on earth. 

And a passage from chapter 55 of the Revelations of Divine Love that meant a lot to the poet WH Auden, and means a lot to me:
I saw with absolute certainty that our substance is in God, and moreover, that he is in our sensuality too.  The moment our soul was made sensual, at that moment was it destined from all eternity to be the City of God.  And he shall come to that city and never quit it.  God never leaves the soul in which he dwells.

No one knows who Julian of Norwich was or where she came from.  Her given name remains unknown.  She took the name of the church, St. Julian's in Norwich, where she lived.  She appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared back into obscurity.  Whoever she was, she was literate, indicating a noble or affluent upbringing.  Perhaps because she was a woman, her writings were little noted by other theologians of the time.  She seems to have had a huge following among the common folk of England who flocked to Norwich just to speak with her.  She was an anchoress, a resident ascetic attached to a parish church.  She spent the rest of her life in a small cell with a tiny garden.  The cell had a small window into the church so she could hear Mass.  There was another small window through which she received meals, and another small indirect window out into the street where she could speak with people but not see them or be seen by them.
According to legend, a cat came over the garden wall and visited her regularly.  She probably kept him for pest control, but over time, the cat became her only close companion.  Dame Julian is one of history's most famous and revered cat lovers.  That's why I chose her for Betty's memorial drawing.

I always think of pets as something very modern and urban.  I used to have farm relatives whose attitude toward animals was very prosaic.  Animals were assets either as food or as labor.  That was true for the farm cat.  His job was pest control around the house, the barn, and especially around the corn crib and the silo.  And yet, I can remember as a small boy visiting that farm in central Illinois, sharing a bed with 2 other small boys, and being visited in the night by a loudly purring farm cat who wanted attention, and we were happy to oblige.
I once heard a famous biologist (I forget who) exclaim how cruel and brutal was the natural world.  He said that at any given moment, some creature somewhere is being devoured alive by another creature.  Darwin, I remember, made similar comments about how rough life was for animals .  And we are animals who prey upon other animals, and are preyed upon (aside from tigers and crocodiles who relish a meal of humans, there are the microbes that make us sick; tiny little predators who devour us from the inside out).  It amazes me that we form such close emotional attachments to our fellow creatures (and sometime competitors).  We depend on their companionship, and they on ours.  As Dame Julian reminds us, God created all things, not just us, for Love.

Chapel on the site of Dame Julian's cell in Norwich (I'm not sure if this is the original cell)

A Memorial Picture

I made a small memorial drawing for Betty the other day.  I cast her in the role of Julian of Norwich's cat.

Here's a close up:

It has lots of problems, not the least of which is trying to do baroque drapery out of my head.  I may or may not turn it into a small panel picture.  I haven't decided.  I'm in the middle of a lot of other projects at the moment.

Michael and I are still grieving for our kitty.  The house still feels very empty and out of kilter.

For our late little princess:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Happy Bastille Day Grandmere!

HAPPY Bastille Day!  It is a happy day even in a world where Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! are despised by the conventional wisdom and seem as far away as ever.
People may long for autocrats or oligarchies out of a desire for comfort and safety, but the experience of the last century demonstrates that autocrats and oligarchs couldn't care less about either.


It's a Sunday Bastille Day this year.  So how about a big French organ spectacular:

Louis Vierne's organ in Notre Dame, Paris

The Verdict is In: Trayvon Martin is Guilty

... of being an average black teenager, now a capital crime in Florida.

I must admit that I was very surprised -- shocked -- by the verdict.  I expected that anyone who followed an unarmed kid in a car and then got out to track him down with a gun would be convicted of at least manslaughter.  The legal experts that I know tell me that the prosecutors over-reached, that they over-charged George Zimmerman, and that Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law tied the hands of both judge and jury.  It seems to me that the defense attorneys very brilliantly played the old game of turning the proceedings around and put the victim on trial, both in the court room and in the media.  This is a tactic very familiar to gay men.  The defense attorneys for Matthew Shepard's murderers attempted to do the same thing, but with a lot less success.  Zimmerman's attorneys successfully planted the idea into the minds of the public (if not the jury) that Martin somehow had it coming by being, well, a teenager, and not a terribly exceptional or saintly one.

But all this legal priest-craft does nothing to address the vast difference between black and white Americans when it comes to experience with the legal system.  How many white parents have to give their adolescent sons "the talk" about how to act around the cops? (Never run, never carry anything in your hands, always be polite no matter how rude the cops are, etc.).  This issue remains at the heart of this trial.  The cops' motto may be "serve and protect" but the experience of a lot of Americans is of an occupying army there to keep them quiet.


The Gospel reading for this Sunday was the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus' answer to a lawyer's question, "who is my neighbor?"
The world today is as thoroughly riven by tribal conflict as 2000 years ago when this Gospel was written.  All that's changed is that the world is so much bigger now, and the technology tribes use to kill each other is so much more powerful and efficient.  The conflict between black and white in this country is ultimately a tribal conflict; a very old, bitter, and personal conflict.  As in so many tribal conflicts, one tribe has all the advantages of numbers, wealth, and power, and the other finds itself feared and despised despite so much struggle and progress to claim its rightful place in the nation's life.  In the face of this miscarriage of justice, we must answer again that lawyer's question, "who is my neighbor?"  Jesus' answer in the parable was everyone including those beyond our tribe and against our tribe, including those we fear and despise.

Rembrandt, The Good Samaritan, ink drawing

And on this Bastille Day, I sadly reflect that La Republique des Amis is as remote from us as The Celestial Jerusalem, and that Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite elude our grasp as much as Agape.


As passions cool a little, it appears that the real culprit in all this is not the jury or the judge or the prosecutors, or even Zimmerman's defense team, but Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws which effectively legalize vigilantism.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has some very sober reflections on the verdict.

...what caused a national outcry was not the possibility of George Zimmerman being found innocent, but that there would be no trial at all. This case was really unique because of what happened with the Sanford police. If you doubt this, ask yourself if you know the name "Jordan Davis." Then ask yourself how many protests and national media reports you've seen about him.

Andrew Cohen reminds us that criminal court is not necessarily the place to resolve issues of social justice, that the real offense is not in the courtroom but in the legislative chamber.

What the verdict says, to the astonishment of tens of millions of us, is that you can go looking for trouble in Florida, with a gun and a great deal of racial bias, and you can find that trouble, and you can act upon that trouble in a way that leaves a young man dead, and none of it guarantees that you will be convicted of a crime. But this curious result says as much about Florida's judicial and legislative sensibilities as it does about Zimmerman's conduct that night. This verdict would not have occurred in every state. It might not even have occurred in any other state. But it occurred here, a tragic confluence that leaves a young man's untimely death unrequited under state law. Don't like it? Lobby to change Florida's laws.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Alterations in the Studio

It is very uncomfortable in my studio these days.  It is hot and very humid in New York.  I spent 7 hours working in there yesterday, and the thermometer in my studio began the day at 93F and ended at 82F at about 10PM.

On top of that, when I returned from my trip to San Francisco, I discovered that the pigeons love to visit my studio and fly around and poop on everything.  Fortunately, they pooped on paintings facing the wall, but one picture suffered some significant damage.  It was a picture that I planned to repaint anyway, but the pigeon damage was very irritating and a bitch to clean.

I now have screens on the windows to keep out my feathered detractors, and I've been busy in there for the past few days despite the heat.  I'm taking a day to cool off in the AC of my apartment.  I'll do the long work of starting and blocking in a new painting tomorrow.  I need a break after yesterday.

Yesterday, I finished the repainting of the picture damaged by pigeon poop, and that I was going to repaint anyway.  It's a picture from the Wojnarowicz series, Krazy Kat Landscape.

Here is my photo of the work I completed yesterday:

And here is Steve Bates' photo of the painting in its former state:

The painting is about David Wojnarowicz's love for the American west, and his frequent travels through there.  It is also about his admiration for the cartoonist George Herriman whose Krazy Kat cartoons are set in a quasi-surreal desert recalling Herriman's frequent travels to Arizona, particularly to Monument Valley.  Wojnarowicz described the deserts of the Southwest as "Krazy Kat landscapes."

The former version of the painting recalled Herriman's work very directly.  I kept the colors bright and relatively flat.

In the current version, I decided to incorporate my own recent experiences out west, and to make the Herriman references more oblique.  Traveling through the basin and range regions of the west by car or by train is a hypnotic experience.  I sat glued to my window for the whole trip through Colorado and Utah.  The immense forces of geology on display, the colors, and the expansiveness of the whole landscape is mesmerizing.

I did some work for the next painting which I hope to start tomorrow.  I made a second life drawing from a model for the painting Hustled.

For once, the model was more comfortable that I was.  I'm amazed I didn't drip sweat on the drawing.  I spent 2.5 to 3 hours working on this.  Even with fans going full throttle, it was still hot in there.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thought For The Day

“Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself - that is my doctrine.”
 ― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason.

The Golden Rule restated politically.

July 4th

From last year:

Selma to Montgomery March, 1965

"Let America Be America Again"
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!


A speech made 150 years ago this year:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Timothy O'Sullivan's photo of the battlefield at Gettysburg in 1863

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pride Day 2013

From Gay Day yesterday in New York, a photo from the NY Times

I got up out of my sick bed to march in the Gay Day parade here in New York.   I have a very bad cold from the train trip back to New York, but that wasn't going to stop me from participating in one of my favorite days of the year.

When I was younger, Gay Day in New York was a very carnal holiday.  I scanned the eye-candy, met up with friends (old and brand new) to go to the Pier Dance, and prowled the crowded waterfront into the wee hours looking for Mr. Right-Now and usually settling for a little adventure instead.  Sure there was lots of politics and political statements, but those only made the whole thing even sexier.  I had a great time.

Today, I still enjoy looking at the eye-candy.  But I am so grateful to no longer be single anymore.  I couldn't possibly compete in that market.
Now, I end my marching at St. Luke In The Fields at their annual Pride Evensong service.  The last thing I wanted to do on Gay Day when I was younger was to spend that summer evening in church.  These days, I look forward to it.  I am encouraged by the spiritual affirmation of the service, and I enjoy the gemütlichkeit of the picnic in the church playground that follows.
This year, the new Diocesan Bishop, Andrew Griesche made a special point of attending that service.  His predecessors made a special point of avoiding it for years (usually by scheduling themselves to be as far away from it upstate as possible that day).

The Episcopal contingent in the Gay Day parade this year was the largest I can remember.  We stretched out along Fifth Avenue for about a block.  Bishop Griesche and his wife participated riding on a diocesan float for the second year in a row.  Each year, the crowds are friendlier to us; lesbians of color especially like us, though I'm not sure what the reason is.  I can remember years past when it seemed that our banners outnumbered our marchers, and we never had any bishops march until Gene Robinson showed up one year.  This year, a group of kids, teenagers and twenty-somethings, carried the diocesan banner the whole route, dancing with it and with assorted rainbow flags.  The only drawback is that we were positioned in the parade behind a spectacular bar float with magnificent go go boys and up-to-the-second club music.  It made us look so anticlimactic, a night club spectacular followed by a hymn-sing.  The kids carrying the diocesan banner didn't seem to mind at all.  They just danced to the music.

On the way home on the L train, a wino loudly said "Happy Gay Day all you mother-fucking faggots!"
At least the US government no longer calls me a "mother-fucking faggot" even if the Catholic and evangelical churches still do (in good company with an old rummy).  The struggle continues.

I'm paying for all that fun today with a very bad chest cold.  I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow.  I hope I can finally recover by the end of the week so that I can get back to work in my studio.

The 2011 Pride Evensong at St. Luke In The Fields; in the foreground is Patrick Cheng followed by L. Roper Shamhart.


Some pics from yesterday's parade:

Bishop Dietche, photo by Chap James Day

A lovely family who marched with the Piskies, photo from the Episcopal Diocese of New York

I Dream of Gene, photo by Chap James Day

It's just not Gay Day without at least a little wretched excess, photo by Chap James Day

About half of the Episcopal contingent in yesterday's parade; photo by Chap James Day


Some photos by my friend Anahi Galante of the Parade:

The kids who carried the diocesan banner all the way; they are looking uncharacteristically sedate in this photo.  They were not sedate at all.

Yours truly on the left.