Sunday, March 13, 2016

Has "Hate" Become a New American Value?

What is going on in this Country?  It seems that more and more people are screaming, yelling, shooting and throwing things at one another.

In the "olden days", it seemed that we were a more civilized country. People didn't shoot their neighbors if their Bougainvillea was hanging over the property line.  There were peaceful Church socials and picnics and neighborhood block parties.





During WWII, people came together and sacrificed their personal needs for the good of the country. There was a national need to win a war at any cost.  There was much suffering though and people made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we so dearly hold close to our hearts.


We have had serious disagreements in this country.  The Civil Rights era brought a lot of turmoil and hatred to persons of different colored skin.  We have seen the news reels and TV shows that have documented the plight of blacks in this country.  We still have inequality when it comes to people of different color.  Have we learned anything from the 1960s?


Something in the mean time has changed.  With the Supreme Court decision on Same Sex Marriage, hatred has once again reared it's ugly head.  Gay men and women have been objects of ridicule, hate and often death.  We have seen the many scenes of brutality brought against us from people who have considered us different, apart, worthy of scorn and worthy of death.

The far right now has shown that this fight is not over.  Many Religious Freedom laws and acts threaten to overturn the strides that we have made.  Politicians have often said that they will not honor the law of the land and threaten to change all the good that we have done.

Another national concern is the way that Police do their jobs.  Shooting people in the back, shooting people who are not clearly a threat to the law enforcer's  life and shooting the innocent. Our nation has seen a slaughtering of people played out on every newscast, media outlet and especially on social media.

Ultimately with the current Presidential election year,  hatred has come front and center once again. Donald Trump's rallies have turned into a free for all brawl at every event.  We see scenes of people being punched, kicked, choked and physically dragged out of rallies.

Ultimately, have we always been a nation filled with hate?  Has our country really been a nation of tolerance and "live and let live" mentality?  What causes people to come to hatred? Is it innate?  Is it circumstance?  Is it just the human condition?

I AM CAIT

I AM CAIT
The world blew up when Caitlyn Jenner came out and told the world that she is Transgendered, but she initially stunned the world with her Olympic accomplishments. She won the gold medal in the men's decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Fast forward 30 years and how things have changed.  During the past few years, we've learned that Caitlyn had been living with a secret for a very long time.  In the tabloids and through the reality show, "Keeping Up With The Kardashians", The Vanity Fair Article and The Diane Sawyer Interview, Caitlyn told the world about always feeling that she was a woman.  This revelation caused a rift in the marriage with Kris and ultimately ended in divorce.  Their children also had a difficult time coming to terms with Caitlyn's revelations.

Caitlyn, at the age of 65, finally made her world debut in the Vanity Fair article and photo shoot in July 2015, "Call Me Caitlyn".  The world went wild.  Caitlyn was written about in many news stories and photographed whenever she was in public.  Many people praised Caitlyn for this courageous coming out, but many had some reservations.

Caitlyn was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on the publicly televised ESPY Awards show.  Controversy arose over her being chosen for this award.  Many felt that Caitlyn was picked ahead of Noah Galloway, who lost most of his left arm and leg as a soldier in Iraq, then went on to become a distance runner, personal trainer, motivational speaker and, recently, a third-place finisher on “Dancing With the Stars.”  People took to Twitter and other social media to express their outrage over the choice, but ESPN said that they always had Caitlyn in mind for the award and no one else had ever been considered.

Caitlyn next came out with her own docu-series called "I AM CAIT" on E! television network.  Caitlyn wanted her journey to be documented in the series.  The reality show has brought to light the difficulties, struggles, attitudes and learning that has been brought about by her very public new life journey.  The show deals with many issues that Caitlyn had to learn how to handle and the new people in her life that have offered support and love.  Caitlyn became the face of the Trans community.  She said that she had no role models to look up to.  She said that back in the eighties, she was alone.  She said that there has been such a movement in the last ten years in understanding these issues.

LGBT people applauded her courage and she has used her fame to bring issues of the Trans community into the spotlight.

Caitlyn has certainly shown the world the trials and tribulations she had had to come to terms with, but one sticking point has been her Republican and conservative affiliation and everything that goes with that ideology.

We all know the strides that have been made with Trans Rights and Same Sex Marriage in recent years.  Generally, Republicans have pushed back against Trans Rights and Same Sex Marriage.

Many Republican leaders and congresspersons have tried to use "Religious Freedom" legislation and acts to hinder and even overturn Trans and Same Sex Marriage strides.  Caitlyn has said that she gets more flack for being a Republican than for being Trans.
Caitlyn has recently said to "The Advocate", "“I like Ted Cruz,” she declares. “I think he’s very conservative and a great constitutionalist and a very articulate man. I haven’t endorsed him or anything like that. But I also think, he’s an evangelical Christian, and probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues.”

“I get it. The Democrats are better when it comes to these types of social issues. I understand that.” So why support Republicans? “Number 1, if we don’t have a country, we don’t have trans issues. We need jobs. We need a vibrant economy. I want every trans person to have a job. With $19 trillion in debt and it keeps going up, we’re spending money we don’t have. Eventually, it’s going to end. And I don’t want to see that. Socialism did not build this country. Capitalism did. Free enterprise. The people built it. And they need to be given the opportunity to build it back up.”

She recently has said that she would love to be Ted Cruz's "Trans Ambassador". If Ted Cruz were to be elected, she said,  "Wouldn't it be great -- let's say he goes on to be President, and I have all my girls on a trans issues board to advise him on making decisions when it comes to trans issues. Isn't that a good idea?  We can say, Ted, love what you're doing but here's what's going on.'"

The latest startling comments she made were regarding Hillary Clinton. On the first Episode of the Second Season of "I AM CAIT", Caitlyn was on a bus tour with a group of transgender women when she said she didn’t want to stop at the Democratic debate.

Caitlyn said,  “If we’re unfortunate enough to get Hillary as our next president, we need her on our side,” the 66-year-old said, before adding that “she won’t be.”  “She couldn’t care less about women, she only cares about herself,” she added.

Caitlyn Jenner certainly has brought Trans issues front and center in this country.  She has a very public pulpit from which to speak.  Will her conservative leanings hinder her voice?    Is she really the best spokesperson for the Trans Community? She does have a wonderful group of women as her supporters and they definitely tell her where she may be wrong and express their views on the best ways forward.  The journey of "I AM CAIT" is not over.  What do you think?

Paul J. Senules

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The New Faces of LGBT

Well, I was born in 1958 and didn't realize that I was Gay until I was around 6 years old.  I didn't KNOW that I was Gay, because I had no concept of what Gay was.  All I know is that I liked this boy named John D. in 1st grade.  I wanted to look at him and be around him.

When I was in 5th Grade, I learned that Judy Garland had died.  I liked Judy at that time and didn't know what a great Gay Icon she was, but I knew a great entertainer had died. Of course, when I was older, I worshiped Judy.
I used to play her Carnegie Hall album in my college dorm room.  I also knew that the guy next door was Gay and that he would appreciate hearing it too.





 As I grew up, I found out about other Gay icons such as Marilyn Monroe.  She didn't have the same impact on me as Judy did, but I came to realize the impact she had on other young Gay men.  It wasn't until I was much older that I appreciated her more.  Films like "Some Like It Hot" solidified my belief that Marilyn and Gay men went hand in hand.





Fast forward to 2016.  The greatest day for me in a Gay man's life was the Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage.  I understand that not all Gay men want to get married, but for me, it was a day of liberation and acceptance.  I wish that this day had come sooner.  It is a landmark day in history.

Today, Gay men have so many people to look up to and admire and feel a kinship with.  As more and more men came out of the closet, so did Gay Celebrities.  The coming out of so many Gay Celebrities  has brought so much more acceptance and allies.

With movies like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Philadelphia", "The Band Played On", "Milk", "My Beautiful Laundrette", "Parting Glances", "Brokeback Mountain" and most recently, "The Normal Heart", Gay love and Gay marriage has come into the mainstream of our consciousness.  I could never have imagined these films being made when I was young.
It's not only the movies that have changed, but so many forms of media: TV, Internet, Blogs, etc.

One couple that has really touched my heart is Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka.  Neil is an extremely talented man.  From his hosting appearances on the Tony Awards to his starring in the Broadway production of "Hedwig And The Angry Inch", he has put Gay front and center.

Neil Patrick Harris opened the 65th Annual Tony Awards with a song titled, "It's Not Just For Gays Anymore".  And he won the 2014 Tony Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

I recently watched Oprah's interview with Neil and David for her "Oprah's Next Chapter" series.  Neil and David invited Oprah into their home and showed her a small slice of their lives as a couple and parents to twins.  You can find the interview (Part 1) on YouTube here:  YouTube.

Not only have the movies and TV brought Same Sex Marriage to the front and center, but so has the Internet.  YouTube stars such as Tyler Oakley, Joey Graceffa, Shane Dawson, Michael Buckley and so many have made a huge impact on LGBT awareness on all fronts.

Tyler Oakley                                                                                                            Noah Galvin
So, I must say that we have come so far.  I'm always excited to see new projects come to life.

One new TV show that is based on Dan Savage's life is "The Real O'Neals" on ABC. It premiered on March 2, 2012.  It tells the story of a supposedly normal Catholic family that turns out to be far from normal. The Gay character Kenny, played by Noah Galvin is hilarious.  He comes OUT in the first episode at the Catholic Bingo organized by his mother who is played by, Martha Plimpton and all hell beaks loose.

One last show that I'd like to talk about is an original series on Hulu called "Difficult People".  It stars Billy Eichner who is the comedian that runs up to people in New York City and screams at them with funny questions and sometimes a celebrity at his side.The series was created by Julie Klausner, who stars alongside Billy Eichner as two struggling and jaded New York comedians. It premiered on August 5, 2015.

I'm looking forward to the future of all types of media that will be coming along.  It's a wonderful world!



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Last Men Standing

Last Men Standing
They had the remarkable luck to survive AIDS, and the brutal misfortune to live on.
By Erin Allday

I , like so many, lived through the beginning of the AIDS crisis.  It was a terrifying time for Gay men.  We often were told conflicting information about HIV/AIDS and really didn't know what was going on or how all this started.

I lost many friends to HIV/AIDS in the beginning.  One day you're out with friends enjoying yourself and the next week one of your friends is missing.  You begin to wonder what has happened and then you hear the devastating news; John passed away.  It shakes you to the core.

I am a survivor of this era.  I made some bad decisions when it came to safe sex, but I got tested and found that I was  HIV negative.  I changed my sexual life accordingly and made sure I would not become another statistic.  But, with that, there comes a certain sadness and loss for all those friends and lovers who didn't make it this far.  Here is an excellent view into that life and the survivors.
Last Man Standing


Trump University--Is this the end for Trump?

Could Trump's "Trump University" problems bring down his candidacy?

An appeals court denied a request from Donald Trump to dump a New York fraud lawsuit against Trump University today, taking the $40 million case against the presidential front runner a step closer to the courtroom.

The suit, brought by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, alleges that Trump University “intentionally misled” thousands of people across the country with its pitch for the business mogul’s real estate courses. Schneiderman sued in 2013 for money to repay former students.

Politico

LGBT strides under fire

Will Religious Freedom Bills tear down LGBT advances?

With the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, LGBT persons won a major victory
towards LGBT and Civil Rights in this country.  Now, LGBT rights are in danger by
Religious Freedom Bills and remarks by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The Georgia Senate passed a Religious Freedom Bill. House Bill 757
passed the Senate 38-14 after three hours of debate that was, at times, heated.
Last week it passed the House 161-0. CNN


Ted Cruz Launches Anti-Gay ‘Religious Liberty’ Advisory Council (Towleroad.com)

On Monday, Ted Cruz announced the formation of a “religious liberty” advisory council intended to help the Texas senator sound the dog whistle of “religious freedom” and advocate for discrimination against LGBT Americans.

Cruz is following in the footsteps of Republican rival Marco Rubio who last month created a “Marriage & Family Advisory Board.” The expressed purpose of that board is to overturn the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. Honestly, it’s surprising it took Cruz this long to follow up with his own anti-gay advisory council given his propensity for fomenting bigotry.

Rubio creates anti-LGBT ‘marriage and family’ board

Ahead of the South Carolina Republican primary, Marco Rubio has created a “marriage and family” board for his campaign that seems intent on reversing marriage rights for gay couples. According to a campaign statement, Rubio established the “Marriage & Family Advisory Board” because he believes family is the most important institution in society and “everyone benefits” when marriage and family thrive. Washington Blade

Did Marco Rubio Just Propose a Constitutional Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment?

"We are going to be a country that says life begins at conception and the life is worthy of the protection of our laws. We are going to be a country that says a marriage is between one man and one woman."
"Unless Rubio is talking about mass brainwashing, because the majority of Americans are supportive of same-sex marriage, he means the government when he says “country,” and the only way the government can “say” that marriage is between one man and one woman is through a constitutional amendment. It’s possible that Rubio was just playing footsie with religious conservatives, and has no intention of making good on that promise, or maybe he does. Someone should ask him about that during one of his many appearances on Sunday."
Follow Mediaite.com

Monday, February 29, 2016

The 88TH Academy Awards--

Well, the 88th Academy Awards have come and gone and once again,
there was a lot of controversy, political and social
commentary.

I understand that the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences is made up of mostly older white people.  This demographic has shown, once again, how they vote.

Chris Rock decided to host the oscars and he said, "You realize,
if they nominated hosts I wouldn’t even get this job.
You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now".  Truer words
could not be spoken.  The Academy did not include one
Black actor or actress in it's nominations.  Is Hollywood
racist?  Is the Academy racist?  The Academy and Hollywood
are not racist, rather, there aren't enough Black producers,
directors and screenwriters.

"Django Unchained" was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
"12 Years a Slave: was Directed by Steve McQueen.
One stand out in movie production and direction is Spike Lee who
was given an honorary Oscar and he did not attend the ceremony.

Given that, the same applies for women.  Can you name one
successful woman producer or director?  In recent years,
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have made in-roads into the business
of movies.  With works like "Bridesmaids" and "Pitch Perfect",
other women have made a mark on the movies.  The "Pitch Perfect"
screenplay was written by Kay Cannon, but directed by
Jason Moore .  "Bridesmaids" was written by Kristen Wiig and
Annie Mumolo, but directed by Paul Feig.  Actresses
have had a long hard struggle, but the women who make the movies have had it even harder.  Men still are the movers and shakers in this business.

The shining moments for the LGBTQ community were the nominations for the movie "Carol" an adaptation of "The Price of Salt" by
Patricia Highsmith, "The Danish Girl" a fictitious love story
loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and
Gerda Wegener, Lady Gaga's performance of "Til It Happens To You" and Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes accepting the Academy Award
for best original song, “Writing’s on the Wall,” for the 2015
James Bond thriller “Spectre”.

Although Sam Smith's comments on "being the first openly gay man to win an oscar" is totally false.  I did enjoy this: in his comments he said, “I stand here tonight as a proud gay man, and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day."

So, I'll say that there is much hard work ahead for Hollywood and the Academy for Black Americans, women and LGBTQ persons.  We all have so much to contribute and these days, we have so much opportunity so lets get out there and make some Art.

Paul John Senules