- August 2021
While the Olympics were unfolding, Russians fumed on state-run TV over the presence of openly gay and transgender athletes in Tokyo. One male talk show host wore a wig and mocked transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard before calling trans folks "psychopaths." On another talk show, a guest who's a member of the Russian parliament, said he was "disgusted" by gay and transgender people. Pointing to an image of Hubbard, he declared, "We stand opposed to all this smut and perversion, strongly opposed."
I'd like to know the Russian word for "irony," since all this moral indignation comes from the country that was officially banned from the Tokyo Games due to its penchant for stuffing its athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.
Russia: home of state-sponsored doping and state-sponsored dopes.
- June 2021
Warning: I'm about to use so many baking references you might want to toss your cookies.
Last week, a bakery called Confections in Lufkin, Texas, posted a photo of rainbow heart cookies to its Facebook page, along with the sentiments, “More LOVE. Less hate. Happy Pride to all our LGBTQ friends! All lovers of cookies and happiness are welcome here."
It took no time at all for tempers to rise. (I warned you.)
Confections reported the next day on Facebook that it had lost a lot of followers over the post, and a dough-head of a customer had cancelled an order of five dozen cookies.
“My heart is heavy," wrote one of the owners. "Honestly I never thought a post that literally said more love less hate would result in this kind of backlash to a very small business that is struggling to stay afloat and spread a little cheer through baked goods."
Yes, the pronounced reaction did take the cake. Though I can't imagine any queer person was surprised.
Confections announced it would sell the canceled order as individually wrapped cookies, on the theory that half a loaf is better than none.
The next day, well, Lufkin proved that it's not a cookie-cutter Texas town. Confections opened to a line of supporters that lasted until it had sold out of every single thing.
The icing on the cake? "The last several people in our shop put money on their credit card for us to donate because there was nothing left to purchase.” The money will go to local animal rescues, so even cats and dogs got a piece of the pie.
On that memorable June 4th, the goods sold like hotcakes and the bakery found itself rolling in the dough. Confections had an actual pie-in-the-sky experience.
And I'll now shut my cake hole.
In Washington state, about 100 miles west of Spokane, is Moses Lake, where you can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming and watching karma be delivered on a platter.
At least that was the case over Memorial Day weekend, according to a person named Robbie, who was one of four people on a boat sporting Pride flags. Another boat carrying three people sped toward them; a woman yelled something unintelligible and flipped her middle finger. Then the boat circled Robbie's at least six times.
“At this point I could clearly hear the words ‘gays’ and ‘flags’ being shouted from their boat,” said Robbie.
I first read "flags" as "fags." Force of habit, I suppose.
Noticing that Robbie's brother was filming, the boat's driver tried to hide his face, then sped off in a macho cloud of smoke.
Seconds later, Robbie's group heard a loud bang and saw black smoke and flames.
“Help us! We’re burning!” shouted the woman with the twitchy middle finger. Robbie and friends pulled them all aboard, raced away and called 911.
The driver sure couldn't hide his face at that point. Perhaps to hide their embarrassment at this turn of events, the passengers behaved boorishly, shouting over their rescuers and vaping without asking permission. They transferred to a friend's boat and never said thank you, noted Robbie.
Well, look at it from their point of view. Queer-bashing on water or on land is supposed to end in a triumphant sense of superiority. It isn't supposed to end with needing life-saving help from your victims. There's real humiliation when you think you're James Bond in a boat, only to discover you belong to McHale's Navy.
- March 2021
A Republican state representative in Tennessee has introduced a bill that would forbid the use of any instructional materials in schools "that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyle."
This goal of making queer people invisible could backfire. After all, high schools wouldn't be allowed to perform "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The Skin of Our Teeth" or "Into the Woods." It would be a strange American lit class that omitted Walt Whitman. Or Edna St. Vincent Millay or James Baldwin or Truman Capote or Alice Walker or Willa Cather or Richard Blanco or John Cheever.
An anthropology class without Margaret Mead? Ancient history without Plato, Socrates or Alexander the Great? African-American history without George Washington Carver, Langston Hughes or the March on Washington? Art history without Michelangelo? American government without the Department of Transportation?
If this bill becomes law, Tennessee youngsters will be left with nothing to study but the Bay of Pigs and algebra.
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