Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Mormons threaten gays and the Constitution

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Affirmation, the Mormon gay and lesbian support group had no idea what the Church was up to but agreed that getting two Moroni's together at any time for any reason was better than leaving one Moroni alone up there all by his lonesome these past 100 years. Image and quote by cricket

If you think for one minute that everything is going swell for gays and the gay marriage movement, well think again. We all saw and laughed at that commercial against gay marriage where the storm clouds were gathering. Well the National Organization for Marriage, which made that piece of propaganda has a new board member, a leader of the Mormon Church who has just written one of the most frightening anti-gay and anti-American screeds I have read in the past ten years.

The column, which you can read in its entirety in the Mormon Times is titled "State job is not to redefine marriage." It is written by Orson Scott Card. Here are some of the more horrifying excerpts, you can judge their danger to not only gays but to America itself. I think Fred Phelps has been one-upped:

By whatever means necessary

Faithful sexual monogamy, persistence until death, male protection and providence for wife and children, female loyalty to children and husband, and parental discretion in child-rearing.

If government is going to meddle in this, it had better be to support marriage in general while providing protection for those caught in truly destructive marriages.

Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.

Conspiracy theories

And you can guess how long it will now take before any group that speaks against "gay marriage" being identical to marriage will be attacked using the same tools that have been used against anti-abortion groups -- RICO laws, for instance.

Overthrow the government

Why should married people feel the slightest loyalty to a government or society that are conspiring to encourage reproductive and/or marital dysfunction in their children?

Why should married people tolerate the interference of such a government or society in their family life?

If America becomes a place where our children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught that cohabitation is as good as marriage, that motherhood doesn't require a husband or father, and that homosexuality is as valid a choice as heterosexuality for their future lives, then why in the world should married people continue to accept the authority of such a government?

What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Mormons Gone Wild. Mormon Missionaries sport plaid ties.

The Mormons pretend to be Christians, pretend to be Americans and pretend to be nice people. But those who follow their precepts have no choice but to pick fights with anyone who looks or behaves differently. Their bible makes it clear. Despite their PR ploys and re-interpretations of their core beliefs which happens suprisingly often as the political winds shift, they are a cult, and a danger to American freedom.

Clearly this is a group of dead-enders who will stop at nothing to see the USA adhere to their religious principles, and it will take not only the gay community, but all Americans who believe in freedom of choice to answer them. In a Mormon world, only Mormon men have rights, not women, not gays, not people of color. No matter what they say, this is what it comes down to.

It's all in the Book of Mormon if you don't believe me.

"And [God] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities." (2 Nephi 5:21)

Later, the Book of Mormon records that an additional group of Lamanites converted and that "their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites… and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites" (3 Nephi 2:15-16).

The Mormon position on women has changed little since the early 1800's, when the official view was that "woman's primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband" (McConkie 844). This attitude, coupled with the doctrine of polygamy and the absolute power claimed by the men of the church, created a legacy of profound sexism which modern Mormonism has been unable to escape.

Latter Days is an entertaining film about gay relationships and Mormons.

As to gays who are trying to change the LDS into a more loving place for lesbians and gays, their Affirmation website covers the conflict quite thoroughly.

Its purpose is to provide a supportive environment for relieving the needless fear, guilt, self-oppression and isolation that LDS gays and lesbians can experience in an era where willful ignorance about human sexuality is too often a reality.

I am always amazed at the number of Christians, Muslims and Jews that try to reconcile the religion of their youth with the nasty treatment and condemnation they receive at the hands of those who presume to speak for God. After all, there are so many churches that would welcome them without reservations. Especially here in the Berkshires.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brandon Cutrell Open Mic Cabaret Arrives in North Adams Friday

Brandon Cutrell is at Taylor's in North Adams
on May 1, 2009

If you live in New York City and love Broadway show tunes, cabaret style singing and improv, there are a dozen competing venues. In the Berkshires, it is less common, and usually available only in the summer in connection with the Barrington, Berkshire and Williamstown theatre operations. So it comes as great news that the leader of the pack in Manhattan - the gorgeous and ridiculously talented Brandon Cutrell - is going to provide our own Spring Awakening on May Day.

Thanks to the MCLA Presents! program, he is arriving in the Berkshires - North Adams - for an evening that promises to be the most fun in ages.

Not only will you get to hear this marvelous tenor sing obscure songs that will break your heart, but there also will be an open mic for Berkshire fans of Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb and other songwriters of the stage and screen to show they have what it takes to belt out a song. MCLA alumna Katie Johnson '07 is expected to make an appearance, so we know there are surprises in store.

Cutrell's Cabarets are always surpising for the talent he brings out. Here Brandon Cutrell and Brian J. Smith deliver a duet.

And this show isn't at a cavern of a theatre, but in an intimate and friendly cabaret setting especially created for this occasion - at Taylor's Fine Dining, 34 Holden Street in downtown North Adams, just off Main Street. The May 1 show begins at 9 pm (earlier if you like dining on the steak and seafood this restaurant is famous for) and to reserve your tickets call 413-662-5204.

I spoke with Jonathan Secor about this unusual booking and he told me that he and a group of MCLA students have been making regular forays to he Big Apple to sample real cabaret performances, and that there is a pent up demand for such experiences in the Berkshires. He is so right. If you enjoy cabaret-style singing and performances, this evening is a must.

Brandon Cutrell - An Artist Worth the Trip

In Europe, the Michelin Guide rates restaurants by the star system, saving its multiple stars for establishments that are "worth a detour" or even "worth a special trip". Brandon Cutrell is both. Brandon Cutrell is a Bistro Award and two-time MAC Award winner. His New York credits include Broadway By The Year at Town Hall, The 2nd Annual Broadway Unplugged at Town Hall, Pippin (where I first saw him with Ben Vereen and Rosie O'Donnell), La Gioconda at TheatreSource, David Friedman's King Island Christmas, and Liz Swados' Waiting For Lefty. Nationally he has appeared at the Theatre of the Stars, Goodspeed Musicals, the Human Race Theatre and with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

His popular CD is in its second printing.

Brandon's self-titled debut CD was released on June 4th, 2007 at Feinstein's. You can find out more about all his activities and performances in detail on his website, Please visit

Lisa Asher and Brandon Cutrell sing "When you are love with your clearly gay friend."

There are dozens of video excerpts of Brandon on YouTube, and his music can be downloaded via iTunes as well.

From Indiana, Brandon Cutrell constantly surprises his dad, a Methodist Minister.

For nearly two years, Brandon was the original host of the MAC Award nominated show, Mostly Sondheim. In December of 2005, Brandon made his debut in the world-famous Oak Room at The Algonquin Hotel. In June of 2006, he made his solo debut at Feinstein's, New York's legendary nightclub on Park Avenue. Currently, Brandon can be seen every Friday night at The Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street as the host of The After Party, a weekly open-mic, musical theatre soiree. Every Monday from June to August, Brandon is the host of Brandon & Ray's Broadway at the Beach, a musical theatre party at the Ice Palace in Fire Island's Cherry Grove.

Brandon Cutrell has created a fun on-stage persona.

This is Brian's first trip to the Berkshires, and - following his appearance here - you can read our interview with him next week on our Arts America blog.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Northampton Pride March and Rally May 2, 2009

Northampton LGBT Pride parade kicks off at noon from Lampron Park on Bridge Street (see map at their website ) and heads through the downtown to our rally site behind Main Street. The parade will get to the rally around 12:45pm, at which time the stage acts will start. The rally will end at approximately 5pm.

For all the information and details, go to


Welcome by Mistress of Ceremonies (Lorelei Erisis)

Proclamation (Northampton Mayor)

Reverend Tinker Donnelly (Spirituality)

Girl Gang (Rock)

Arjuna Greist (Acoustic Rock/Slam Poetry)

Jesse Molina Band (Rock)

Speaker, Jack Hornor, MA Equality

Emily Nyman

Drag King/Queen Contest (Comedy/Drag)

Tomas (Urban Dance)

Gay Men’s Chorus (Men’s Choir)

Nedra Johnson (R&B/Acoustic Funk)

Sister Funk (Commercial Pop/Rock)

Jonathan Mendelsohn (Dance/Pop)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meet The Rainbow Times in Williamstown April 23

The Current Issue

Short notice I know, but you may want to take an hour out of your day April 23 to meet the key people behind , The Rainbow Times our regional newspaper for the LGBTQ community. It is one of the best things to happen in years, and it seems to be growing even as other newspapers are shrinking.


If you are a business or on a business track, you might want to attend the informational session with the publishers at 3:30 pm, April 23 at the Hardy House living room at Williams College. The Rainbow Times depends on advertising to support its publication, and it is important for our community to note and patronize the supporters whose ads appear in the newspaper.


This will be followed by a more social reception at the Mezze Bistro and Bar on Water Street in Williamstown at 5 pm on April 23. The current issue has a superlative guide to the NoHo (Northampton) Pride festivities taking place on May 2 in our neighboring community just across the mountain.

The Rainbow Times is the region’s premiere LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) newspaper, It serves both to increase awareness of LGBT issues and as a vehicle to unify and strengthen the communities of Western MA, the Capital District of NY, Northern CT, and Southern VT.

The Rainbow Times is written and published by experienced and professional members of the newspaper industry with over 20 years of publishing and journalism experience. Their team strives to bring much needed news and information of interest to the LGBT community in Western Massachusetts, the Capital District of NY, Northern CT, & Southern VT.

Most importantly, their purpose is more than just reporting gay issues and events but to also act as a collaborative voice for our underserved community.

In the Northern Berkshires you can pick up a copy at Wild Oats, Mass MoCA, Papa Charlies, Images, Cup and Saucer, Brew HaHa, the Milne Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center. Thanks to Justin Adkins for providing this information.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Teens and Suffocation Roulette, Blackout, Gasper, Space Monkey

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At least one third of what are reported as teen suicides - perhaps a thousand each year - are actually accidental strangulation during solo and group play. Sure, give the practice exciting and challenging names like tingler, twitcher, space cowboy, American dream and flatliner and the gullible teens will try it just because it is so forbidden. The practice, often thought to be safer than doing drugs, appeals to "smart" and "good" kids.

Those between the ages of 9 and 16 of both sexes - though most often male - are the ages most often drawn to it. But the warm fuzzy feeling that supposedly is the "payoff" in reality is the result of brain cells dying by the thousands. The cheap laugh friends get is hardly worth the damage that can be done. Teens of course often give in to peer pressure, but life is worth far more than being popular with a few idiots. The practice can lead to silent strokes, seizures and even heart attacks.

Usually, the game is done in groups at parties, sports events or even in gym classes. In its most common form, young people bend over or squat down while hyperventilating, stand up and then hold their breath as someone else pushes on their chests until they lose consciousness.

Less frequently, a ligature of some sort -- a belt, necktie or rope -- is used to cut off the air supply. Often the practice is first done with friends, but it can be addictive, and some teens begin doing it alone, sometimes combining it with masturbation. The results can be both embarrassing and deadly.

"It is very difficult to get at the extent of the problem because people are very reluctant, both from the medical end and the family end, to acknowledge that this practice is taking place," said R. Carl Westerfield, former dean of education at Lamar University in Beaumont, Tex. "It's in the closet." - Washington Post Report

The practice of auto-erotic strangulation goes back at least to the 1600's but few people continue the practice as they mature. There are far better ways to get your kicks, though things haven't changed much since the late 1800's when sex information was even more sanitized than it is today. Even in today's supposedly enlightened information age, it is amazing how few adults know about blackout roulette, much less are willing to discuss it candidly with their children.

There are two websites, set up by parents and friends of victims of this practice, which attempt to state the facts simply and honestly. The first is Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play (Gasp).

The website answers questions about the practice. It’s not a game at all—just an act of suffocating on purpose.

How it works: adolescents cut off the flow of blood to the brain, in exchange for a few seconds of feeling lightheaded. Some strangle themselves with a belt, a rope or their bare hands; others push on their chest or hyperventilate.

When they release the pressure, blood that was blocked up floods the brain all at once. This sets off a warm and fuzzy feeling, which is just the brain dying, thousands of cells at a time.

And if the strangulation is self induced, and you pass out, well, then that brings about death. And there is nothing at all funny about that. You can easily find videos of teens doing this on YouTube, and even Wiki lists dozens of nicknames for the practice, most of which I guarantee you have never heard of.

Airplaning, America Dream Game, Black Boxing, Black Out Game, Breath Play, Breathing the Zoo, Bum Rushing, California Blackout, California Choke, California Dreaming, California Headrush, California High, California Knockout, Catching Some Zs, Choking Game, Cloud Nine, Crank, Dream Game, Dreaming Game, Dying game, Fall Out Game, Flat Liner, Flatline Game, Flatliner Game, Funky Chicken, Getting Passed Out, Grandma's Boy, Groobling, Halloween, Harvey Wall Banger, High Riser, Hoola Hooping, Hyperventilation Game, Indian Headrush, Knockout Game, Passing Out Game, Pass-out Game, Purple Dragon, Natural High, Neckies, Redline, Rising Sun, Rocket Ride, Sandboxing, Sleeper Hold, Sleepers, Space Monkey, Speed Dreaming, Suffocation Game, Suffocation Roulette, The Game, The Mysto World, Tingling Game, Trip to Heaven

Don't let the cute names fool you. Wikipedia is clear about its dangers, and its unfortunate appeal to youngsters, but it is a dangerous, deadly practice.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last Chance to See Art of Women at Pittsfield's Ferrin Gallery

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At the Ferrin Gallery: Shannon Trudell's provocative "Sovrapposizione Series: Studio di Davide di Michelangelo", 17 x 12.5 Drawing.

This is the last weekend to view Leslie Ferrin's incredible buffet of art titled WOMEN: Portrait + Figure, a group show of sculpture, painting, mixed media and photography. The concept of the show is to present images of women by both men and women and explore the idea of artist's gender and the role/non role it plays on the portrayal of women.

Nest by Stefanie Motta, 16x20 photograph

It is part of the county wide focus on Women in the Arts, and of course a frequent topic of discussion in the GLBTQ community. The best work of the show is women painting and drawing women, though the men certainly have an eye for the female figure, though sometimes to the exclusion of the person behind the body or mask. Homoerotic art of males is often similar in its emphasis on the physical, often torsos without heads or faces turned away. For me, I look at the eyes that are rendered, since they are the window to the soul.
Sonia by Elizabeth Stone, charcoal on paper, 41x26.

The Ferrin Gallery is located at 437 North Street, Pittsfield, MA 413.442.1622 and is open 11-5 Wednesday to Saturday, and once in a while on Sunday. But do get there soon, this show is up only through April 18, 2009.

Michael Rousseau, "Michigan", 2007, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 24"

This show features several local and regional artists, many of them are presenting portraits of themselves or recognizable members of their community. Through this show and the resulting series of portraits the viewer gets a glimpse into the lively art scene in the Berkshires at this point in time. The artists whose work is included are:

Chris Antemann
Scott Barrow *
Jessica Calderwood
Cynthia Consentino *
Wayne Duffy *
Lucy Feller
Debra Fritts
Paul Graubard *
Julie Heffernan
Jessica Hess *
Jason Houston *
Sergei Isupov *
Lisa Krivacka *
Maggie Mailer *
Susan Mikula *
Stefanie Motta *
Brooke Noble
Anita Powell
Michael Rousseau *
Katy Rush
Diane Savino *
Kevin Sprague *
Elizabeth Stone *
Mara Superior *
Mark Tomasi *
Ben Tritt *
Shannon Trudell
Tabitha Vevers
Nanny Vonnegut *
Rebecca Weinman *
Kurt Weiser
Michael Zelehoski *

*'s are artists from Western Massachusetts

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ed and Howie - Thirty Years Together

Howie's work is always distinctive, even his picture! Howie is the smoocher on the left, Ed the smoochee on the right.

I can not let today go by without wishing a Happy 30th Anniversary to Howard Cruse and Ed Sedarbaum who are celebrating their third decade together. Besides, they finally made it legal in 2004 when marriage became legal in Massachusetts, before which they were living in sin. How delightful!

My neighbors in North Adams have made me feel quite at home here, and Howie is a wonderful artist whose blog, Loose Cruse, is well worth visiting.

Here's to another 30 years, too!

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Healing the Heart by Writing About Our Lives and Prayers

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The workshop enhances all spiritual traditions.

Fill up the bowl then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there, for why
Should every creature drink but I,
Why, man of morals, tell me why?
-Abraham Cowley

An Ancient Psalm Scroll

Freeing our inner selves to write freely about things that are important to us is not an easy task for many in the LGBTQ community. Most of us lived early lives where we chose our words carefully. It was necessary to self preservation in an often hostile world. Getting over this sort of self-induced censorship is not always easy.

That's why the upcoming workshops, "Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-Inspired path to Appreciating and Writing Sacred Poetry" are so fascinating. Being offered in several locations in Western Massachusetts between April 29 and May 6, two will take place in Williamstown and the first of these sessions in particular will have a special welcome and focus on the needs of the LGBTQ community.

The two Williamstown sessions will be held April 30 and May 5. Both will be held from 7 to 9:00 pm at the First Congregational Church in Willliamstown. The programs are being prepared in collaboration with the Williams College Chaplain's Office, Inkberry Books, and the First Congregational Church. The workshop will be held in the Church Library, at 906 Main Street (Route 2) Williamstown.

The First Congregational Church is conveniently located right on Route 2 in the heart of Williamstown.

The April 30th session in particular is designed to provide a comfortable writing space for GLBT and queer folks, offering a warm welcome and hospitality to all who participate. The workshops themselves focus on journal writing, poetry and spiritual themes. There is a second workshop on May 5. Participants are invited to explore the thin spaces where creative writing and spirituality meet by writing their own new Psalms, or spiritual poems. Each workshop will cover different material, so participants may choose to attend both.
Ray McGinnis

Talking with Ray McGinnis about the GLBTQ Community

Ray McGinnis has taught over 8000 people how to write prayers, poetry, and autobiographies, all the while guiding them to bring their whole heart, mind and spirit to the process. He provides a safe, nurturing space for those who maintain a regular writing practice and for those who have never put pen to paper.

I asked McGinnis how the workshop would benefit someone who was lesbian, gay etc. He answered: "Despite the topic of Psalms, this really is about empowering the human spirit in each of us to connect with whatever we think holds the world together, including oneself and our neighbor." Is this just for religious people, I asked. "You do not need to consider yourself "religious" to attend and get a lot out of this workshop."

I then asked him why anyone, gay or straight, would even consider writing a psalm in the 21st Century. "A Psalm, he replied, "is basically a poem written by someone who either explicitly or implicitly seeks to express something to the Divine.

"You can ask for guidance, wisdom, a renewed relationship, whatever is on your mind. The language the writer uses depends on your own spiritual path, directing it to God, Beloved, the Source, Higher Power, Gaia, Allah, Buddha.
"For anyone who has a growing awareness of their sexual identity there has been a process of paying attention: What is my body, my heart, my mind communicating when I am with another person?

"When awareness is coupled with information that a person I am attracted to is of the same gender, there is a journey that may include self-acceptance, affirmation, celebration. The journey may involve obstacles such as shame, guilt, self-doubt, denial. And often we are brought face to face with our essence as we seek wholeness, balance, energy, self-recognition, support, inclusion, places to belong and safely explore our new awareness."

"For some gay people this journey of personal/sexual growth and naming involves for them an integration of their spiritual self. Writing a new spiritual poem could reflect some aspect of the challenges and small victories of coming out, lamenting what needs to be let go of, or expressing thanks for what has been sustaining and life-giving. Poetry most often opens our hearts, tells an important truth, shines a light on something hidden, demonstrates courage, helps us feel compassion for ourselves or another. "

I wondered how we could possibly compare to the ancient writers. McGinness pointed out that "in gathering to write a new Psalm or spiritual poem, participants at a Writing the Sacred workshop would not be expected to write and sound like the writers of the Hebrew Psalms 3000 years ago. Anymore than the writers of the Hebrew Psalms tried to compose their Psalms to sound like people who lived in the ancient Near East 6000 years ago. When we write a new Psalm or spiritual poem, we write with our own language, slang, common conversational cadences of our time, our decade."

I suggested that GLBT people are pretty involved in their own lives, and are dealing with their own day to day problems. He agreed. "A gay person may be inspired not necessarily to write a new Psalm, but from exposure to selected Psalms and other poems, to address a particular aspect of their unfolding life journey in a new way by exploring the thin spaces where creative writing and spirituality meet."

Signed copies of the McGinnis book will be available.

Cost per workshop is $15 for adults, $13.50 for Inkberry members, free for Williams College students. Ask about special rates for attending both workshops and for student rates for non-Williams students.

Contact Inkberry at 413-664-0775 or use this link to register. Additional information about Ray McGinnis and the other Western Massachusetts locations for his workshops can be found at his website.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reconciling Religion and our LGBT Identities

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There is much to be said for the sense of community a positive church can bring to gays and lesbians.

When it comes to he GLBT community there is no knottier subject to unravel than religion. It has plagued me for decades, and probably you, too. However, there are changes afoot, and the possibility of reconciliation with our spiritual side is becoming more common as time goes on.

Nevertheless, for some of the GLBT community in the Berkshires, finding GLBT welcoming congregations is difficult. Many find they have to return to the closet to practice their faith. But others have found a few churches where it is possible to be both Christian and LGBT. There are Berkshire churches that are GLBT affirming, and welcoming. Please note that this list may be incomplete, and will be updated from time to time.

Great Barrington
South Berkshire Friends Meeting (Quaker)
Church on the Hill (UCC)

First Baptist Church
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
South Congregational Church (UCC)
Unitarian Universalist Church

First Congregational (UCC)
First United Methodist Church
St. John's Episcopal Church

There is a website dedicated to gay Christian needs. There is an Integrity Episcopal Church group (413) 568-8477. I could not find anything for Dignity (Catholics) in the Berkshires, but there is a Boston chapter.

For those of other faiths, it is even more challenging. The Berkshire Jewish GLBT Group can be contacted at (413) 586-2627.

A fine book on the subject.

Exploring this Difficult Subject

No one who hasn't lived it can possibly totally understand the anguish of being born gay or lesbian and being raised in a damning evangelical or fundamentalist faith. To those who do not wish to merely abandon the church upon coming out, the struggle remains poignant, painful, and long. There is a great book by the Rev. Mel White for those who have lived through it and for those who want to understand the issue.

Try to find the book: "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America" either at your local library (they may be able get it for you from another Berkshire library) or online.

The Rev. Mel White

The Reverend Mel White used to work for the Jerry Falwell's of this world, and knows how the fundamentalist churches use gay bashing to raise money. He also is a devout Christian who seeks to remove bigotry and hatred in this world through the organization, Soulforce using nonviolent means.

Amazon Censorship or Evil Hacker?

Jeff Bezos, suddenly a censor?

The social networks have been atwitter over the temporary de-ranking and de-listing of some gay authored books on Amazon.

Of course, rumors and snarky comments immediately began circulating that Amazon was anti-gay and Jeff Bezos was removing gay content from - I won't bore you with all the evidence that exists to prove that this is pure poppycock.

But that didn't stop the weeping, wailing and canceling of Amazon accounts from the shoot-from-the-hip crowd who immediately took this as a personal affront. Not too long ago, Jeff Bezos and I spoke about marketing gay materials in some depth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and believe me, he sees the gay market as vital to Amazon's success.
Thelma and Louise suddenly a no-no?

Ennis and Jack, no longer allowed to love?

In the cold light of a new day it is becoming clear that this was most likely the work of a hacker and the story behind that is fascinating. Read Valley Wag's summary of the happenings and decide for yourself. Now, this does not excuse the clueless customer service rep who made matters worse by improvising answers, nor the lack of directness and clarity that Amazon is still exhibiting.

The most obvious reason that this is not some new Amazon policy or plot is that it only affected some books, not others, and did not affect DVD's CD's and other gay related items on Amazon.

But there is always tomrrow, I guess, for the hackers to try again.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bollywood Comes to Antwerp's Cavernous Railway Station

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Watch this gloomy terminal spring to life!

It was serendipity at work as commuters were taken by surprise by dancers celebrating Bollywood style, set to the tune of Julie Andrews singing Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music. Some say Brussels and Belgium can be boring, but Antwerp sets the record for dancing in the streets, clubs, and now the famous railway station. Some enchantedly genius choreographer worked out this surprise gift to the dazzled commuters which has now gone viral on YouTube. There were 200 dancers, and I lost count of how many plain folks just jumped in and started dancing.

Antwerp's Central Station is a gorgeous, cavernous kind of public space, just begging to be used for happy events. That potential has now been fulfilled. Imagine Boston's South Station filled with music and dancers.

Come to think of it, it's already been done. I organized a "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" party there in the late 80's with John Skanse from the old Hub Club. Disco and Ballet mixed, as did gay and straight.

There should be more gay fun like that shown on the YouTube video, don't you think? Antwerp is famous for its trashy, wonderful bars and the most open Gay Pride celebration in Europe. It takes place at the end of June, followed by the Euro Games in July, and of course there is the Dance Festival in May.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

LGBT Town Meeting in Williamstown

Northern Berkshire Gathering set for Tuesday, April 14, 2009 - 6:30-8:00 pm

An open invitation has been extended to all LGBT folks - and their allies and friends - to get together for an ice cream social in Williamstown. In addition to the socializing, there will be discussion about events and happenings in and around Williams College.

The organizers welcome LGBT folks and their allies who not only live in Williamstown but in the surrounding towns as well. And just in case there is a lull in the conversation, there is an official Topic: What is an ally? How can I be one?

Where to meet? Just head for The Log - you will see the rainbow flag, it's on Spring Street between Images and Tunnel City Coffee (on your left).

"Who ordered the Rainbow ice cream?"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MeetUp Saturday April 18 for Berkshires Gay Professionals

Did you know there is a small Berkshire Gay Professionals Club which is having a mid-day Meet Up on Saturday, April 18 at Mass MoCA in North Adams. It welcomes a wide range of gay and lesbian people - maybe you? - from the greater Berkshires area. Participants include students from Williams, BCC and MCLA who are on a professional track, web designers, artists and business people - anyone who wants to meet and network both socially and professionally. It welcomes everyone from the diverse GLBTQ community.
A typical MeetUp group.

To find out more go to the MeetUp page See you there?

Ten Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Era Ends: Gay Legend Jack Wrangler is Dead

Once an icon, now a memory.

(Compiled from various sources)

JACK WRANGLER (1946 – 2009)

(Philadelphia / New York, April 7, 2009) Jack Wrangler, iconic adult and musical theater performer passed away today from complications from lung disease. He was 62 years old.

With piercing blue eyes, unruly blond hair, a chiseled physique and cocky swagger, Jack Wrangler was the king of ‘70s gay porn. Forging a gay sexual revolution, he wasn’t the typical object of homoerotic desire but an intelligent, full-bodied, self-confident male. Exulted for his 80-plus adult films, the openly gay superstar even conquered the straight adult world and legitimate theater. Mr. Wrangler eventually married pop vocalist Margaret Whiting and their relationship would last for the rest of his life.
Jack was a smoker and died from lung disease.

The documentary Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon, recently won the 2009 GayVN Award for Best Alternative release.

“It was truly an honor and a privilege to get to know Jack Wrangler through making the documentary about his life. Jack was truly a class act.” said director Jeffrey Schwarz. “He was a pioneer, a born showman, and a loving husband to Margaret Whiting. Jack Wrangler knew the power of image-making and inspired an entire generation to be comfortable in their own skin and to become the man of their dreams. He lived his life with grace, humor and confidence and will be missed.”

“Jack was one of the earlier pioneers in helping to bring awareness to the gay community by being open about who he was and about following his dreams,” said Lewis Tice, Director of Publicity and Marketing for TLA Releasing. “We are deeply saddened as he is an essential part of our gay history. Our sympathies go out to his family.”
Wrangler and his wife the singer Margaret Whiting

Wrangler Got His Start in Christian Television!

Wrangler came from a prominent Hollywood family and got his start in Christian television, only to go on to become one of the first gay porn actors to achieve star status and a cult following in the 1960s and ‘70s. He made over 80 adult films, including Wanted and Sex Magic. His rugged, masculine good looks helped define the sexual attractions of a generation of gay men.

Wrangler stunned fans when he switched over to straight porn later in his career -- confounding them yet again when he retired from porn all together after meeting and eventually starting a relationship with pop singer Margaret Whiting. He did not spend his last years alone.

Wrangler went on to enjoy a successful career in musical theater.