07 August 2013

Mr. President, It's Up To You.

What has been simmering in the background is now becoming a full-fledged bonfire and I can not, with all the fibre of my being, continue to remain silent about the injustice going on.
The United States must lead the nations of the world and call for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be removed from Sochi, Russia to another host country or for an all-out international boycott of the Winter Games itself.
Gay men and women are being baited, beaten, raped, and killed all with the sanction of the Russian government simply because of who they love. A portion of humanity is being hunted and punished simply because they are different and the world can NOT simply stand by and sanction these horrific acts by staging an international sporting event, pouring millions and millions of dollars into their country, and turning a blind eye to the willful hatred perpetrated by the powers that be on not only their own citizens, but those gay men and women competing in and attending the Games as spectators and fans.
With the recent announcement that anyone displaying overtly gay 'propaganda' that attends the Winter Games will be arrested and forced to answer to this draconian Russian law, Vladimir Putin has declared all gay men and women targets of his government and we can not allow our fellow Americans to walk into such dangerous conditions.
How can we allow our citizens enter a country that has threatened their very rights as Americans to live their lives freely, in the pursuit of happiness? How can we look away when our American citizens may be jailed or assaulted for being who they are?
Shall we, as Americans, attend the Winter Games knowing what is happening like we did when we entered the Berlin Olympiad in the 1930's knowing what Adolph Hitler was doing to those he considered inferior? The laws against Jews had already been passed by the start of the games and the same thing was happening to them that is now happening to Russian gay men and women. This is government sanctioned bigotry, this is government sanctioned hate, and this will be government sanctioned murder, no, this will be the genocide of a group of people who had the misfortune to be born gay under this fascist regime if we don't take a stand.
History has already shown us the way this will end. We can not, as citizens of the United States of America and members of the human race, blindly participate in the Games being held in a country that is blatantly, willfully, and openly denying it's own citizens the very rights we hold so dear. We can not give President Putin validation by holding the Games in his country.

Call to remove the Winter Games from Russia, President Obama.
Do not allow this horrific part of history to repeat itself.


21 July 2013

I read the headline "Parade organizers say event bigger, honors city spirit' and nearly spit my coffee across the table since, just a few days prior, I was informed that the float we were planning was rejected by the Miss America Parade committee because we were deemed a 'mockery'. They evidently thought the former winners of the Miss'd America Pageant were not respectable enough to be included in the parade this year. The theme of the float, sponsored by a local seafood restaurant, was going to be Under the Sea and we were planning to dress as glamourous mermaids with light-up tails. That constituted a 'mockery' and we were denied entry.
I would like to let them know exactly what Miss'd America represents and detail our city spirit.
In September of 1993, after a horrific decade of losing our friends and families to A.I.D.S., a small group of drag performers in a local gay bar put together a good-natured spoof of the venerable Miss America Pageant, calling it the Miss'd America since we 'missed' being in the actual pageant (get it?). It was a fundraiser to help our friends in the local community. What started that year as a small spoof quickly blossomed into a smashing success, year after year, bringing more and more people to the show and raising much needed money and awareness of A.I.D.S. All the proceeds raised went to the South Jersey A.I.D.S. Alliance (S.J.A.A.) and was distributed through them to people of all races, creeds, orientations, and sexes who were in the South Jersey community and living with the disease.
This is how we show city spirit.
In addition, the producers, writers, actors, musicians, technicians, venue owners, waitstaff, choreographers, set builders, back-stage hands, costumers, and anyone else involved in the production of the Miss'd America Pageant have never taken ONE THIN DIME for their services. Every Miss'd America since 1993-2006 has been done FREE OF CHARGE by everyone involved. The chairs and tables were donated by the casinos, lighting and sound and video were also donated, no one expected payment nor would they have accepted it if offered. We all realized that by taking one dollar, that was one less dollar that could help the members of our city, of our family, of our community who were battling the effects of A.I.D.S.
This is how we show city spirit.
The old adage, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, could never be more appropriate than in this situation. We, as a community, have ALWAYS enjoyed the Miss America Pageant and parade. Most credible accounts give credit to the gay community for the whole 'show us your shoes' phenomenon. Everyone knows to go to New York Ave. and the boardwalk during the parade, long known as the gay street in Atlantic City, for the most enjoyable time. And any look backstage at Miss America will find many gay men and women working behind-the-scenes. We have honored and supported our Miss America for decades upon decades and took great pride in Atlantic City's grande dame of pageants.
This is how we show city spirit.
Now, Miss America left the city, rather abruptly, for the west coast and we were devoid of our beloved pageant. Many non-casino businesses relied on the revenue generated by Miss America week, since most of the support staff have been coming back for decades and knew the city well and frequented it's many hidden gems year after year. The city suffered, but we endured. And Miss'd America continued on. We got bigger and better, and even performed the production twice in Boardwalk Hall, which was the pinnacle of our little 'mockery' of a pageant. We continued the tradition of the pageant, in our own little way, and brought fun and excitement back to the city whilst Miss America was gone.
This is how we show city spirit.
And now that Miss America is back, they have the unmitigated gall to deny us a float in their parade and declare us a 'mockery'. We, who have selflessly put on our little pageant to raise money for the community, is being called a mockery by an institution that only raises money for itself. We, who were born out of the very community we live in, are denied entry in a parade by the same organization that wants to promote city spirit. Although I am angry with their decision, I am more hurt than anything else. Our mockery was always done with love. Our mockery was always done with admiration. Our mockery was always done in honor.
And I consider it a slap in the face that I can not show my city spirit in the parade that was born in this city.

Miss'd America 1995

28 May 2013


I've been going through some emotional turmoil recently that I've been keeping off the social media sites and have only discussed with a few close friends. I'm still not altogether comfortable writing about it but today is especially trying and I needed an outlet for my feelings and, hopefully, some support.
Today, my friend (and step-mother), is undergoing a double mastectomy and reconstruction due to the cancerous masses they found under her arm and in her breasts. All of this has happened quite fast, she was only diagnosed two weeks ago, and I'm still trying to come to grips with all the implications. My father is taking this stoically, as usual, but I know he's extremely worried.

During this crisis, my sister had long-overdue surgery to fix a series of sinus problems and my niece had a recent health scare that had us all worried. She's going to Philadelphia today to undergo steps to resolve the issue and her prognosis looks great.
I have to work today, so I can't be with the family for support (which is killing me). I've been an emotional wreck for the past two weeks and, predictably, I've been trying to ignore the problem since I don't know exactly how to deal with it.
I've been counselling with a few friends who have gone through this and they have eased my mind, I know intellectually that she'll be fine and that this diagnosis isn't the death sentence it once was but this is all new to me. I know A.I.D.S., through all my years raising money for the S.J.A.A. and having friends living with the disease. I don't know cancer, so this is all unknown territory for me.
Today is going to be a rough day of many phone calls and emotional rollercoasters. I have faith in Sally's doctors and in her strength that she'll recover and flourish.
Keep her in your thoughts, if you would.

30 January 2013

Flexing My Creative Writing Muscles

 The following is a "definition" I came up with out-of-the-blue for my Facebook nightly Safe Word: 
He sat down, exhausted and covered in the spatter of blood. He couldn't catch his breath, the excitement and thrill of the kill still coursing through his veins, the adrenaline pumping his heart into overdrive. His brain couldn't focus on one thought for long, he was in ecstasy. This was the culmination of an entire day of stalking and he felt a vicious satisfaction in the final resolution. His murderous intentions hit the magic number and he was surprised at who drew the short straw at the end, surprised and happy. The first person he saw was the paper delivery boy, driving by with his pimpled face and throwing the newspaper onto his lawn. He began his grim count of the day, that was one. He will live. 

When he went out to get it, he saw the little neighbourhood children lined up at the bus stop just a few yards from his home. He slowed his movements, keeping his gaze on them as he bent over, silently counting them, adding them to his daily tally. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. And the parent standing there with the kids, that's eight. Now his count was nine, nine who will live and his quota was nearly half over. He retreated back into the house, stifling the horrific visions that clouded his mind. Visions he found exhilarating. 
After breakfast, he holed up in the darkened bedroom, savouring his isolation, not wanting to rush through the day, making it last. He wrote a little, checked a few websites. Read the paper. He waited. 
A knock at the door roused him from slumber, he must have fallen asleep. He padded to the front door, peered through the spyhole and saw blurry, distorted faces moving to and fro. He opened the door. Standing there were two Mormon missionaries. He made his excuses, parrying any argument they had to convert him, he was beyond redemption today, and got them to leave, to bother the next house along the way. 
That was now ten and eleven. 
He ordered lunch from the local pizza joint. His usual meal, half a cheesesteak and fries. The goateed delivery guy came quickly, considering it was just after noon. He paid, with a nice tip and let him go. That was only number twelve. Not yet. 
After eating, he cleaned up and decided to take a shower, he was getting closer and closer and he wanted to make sure everything was ready when it happened. 
He sat in his living room, towel draped over his waist loosely, clicking through the channels and mindlessly watched whatever was on. He liked the feeling of his leather couch next to his naked, wet skin. A dog barked outside, from the fenced-in yard next door and he turned his head to peer out the partially opened drapes to see two young teen girls walking by, books in their arms, loudly chatting about whatever it is young girls chat about. Numbers thirteen and fourteen. They, too, will live to gossip another day. 
Suddenly, the postman came into view and walked up to his door, he could hear the sound of the mailbox open and close through the wall as he dutifully shoved the letters and magazines and bills into the little tin box. He continued to watch him through the window as he walked away, and got up, securing the towel around his waist and opened the door to get his mail. He watched the postman, number fifteen, walking up to the house next door and hand the mail to his neighbour that owns the barking dog. There's number sixteen. 
They will all live today. 
He threw the day's mail on his kitchen table, the excitement building too much now for him to concentrate on what was there. He'll deal with it later and went into the bedroom to get dressed. It was getting close now, and he wanted to be ready. 
As he got dressed, formally, with a clean white button down shirt, a nice pair of black trousers, one of his nicest ties, skinny and striped, he could hear noises coming from the backyard. From the bedroom window he saw the landscapers unloading their equipment, doing it with a practised ease, both tanned and dirty from the constant sunshine and the job, respectively. They started up the lawnmowers and began their work. He added them to the count. Seventeen and eighteen. It was getting so close now. 
Too close, his pulse quickened and he retreated to the bathroom to finish getting ready, trying to focus on the task at hand and calm his rising nerves. He combed his hair, adding a little gel to keep it in place. Brushed his teeth. Retreated into the mundane in an effort to savour the moment that was coming so soon. 
The phone rang, loudly and unexpectedly, jarring him out of his reverie, and he fumbled with the touch screen trying to unlock it so he could answer. It was his daughter. 
"Hullo, sweetheart! Why are you calling?"
"Daddy", she said in her high, plaintive voice, "can I go over Jessica's house now? We have to do a project for class and she's my partner and we need to get this done by tomorrow and her mom said I could have dinner there and she'll bring me home after that so can I please go to her house? PLEASE?" 
She said this all in one breath, the way children her age talk, as if the fate of the world hinged on his answer. 
"Of course, sweetheart. Just tell Mrs. Kane that you need to be home by eight, I want to check your homework before you go to bed."
His daughter screamed in delight and thanked her daddy over and over and hung up abruptly. 
He smiled to himself. 
The doorbell rang at that moment and he went to answer it, noticing the FedEx truck parked out front through the partially opened drapes in the front window. He opened the door and saw a clean-cut young guy, impatiently waiting for him to sign for the package. He quickly did so and let number nineteen walk away to live, and deliver again.
At that moment, he saw his beautiful wife drive up to the house and pull into the driveway. He waved to her and waited for her to get out of the car. She walked over, and he couldn't help notice how beautiful she was, and gave him a big smile and kiss, asking him about his day. He kissed her back, long and deep, savouring the moment, feeling the love he had for her. And knowing now what he must do. 
They walked in the door and he shut it firmly behind her, turning the lock on the handle quickly, silently. She took off her suit jacket and threw over the back of the kitchen chair, picking up the pile of mail sitting on the table and rifling through it, inanely talking about something that happened earlier today at the office. 
He wasn't listening. 
He slipped the knife silently out of the butcher block holder, the largest one in there, and stood behind her. She was intently looking through one of the bills, her focus on her conversation and the paper in her hand. He got closer and closer, smelling her perfume that still lingered on her blouse from this morning and he plunged the knife in her back. 
She gave a little strange sound and he pulled it out and plunged it in again... and again... and again. 
Unfortunately, vigesimation was a cruel and random condition. Fate took him through the day, through the grim count, and she ended up being number twenty. 
She had to die.