Category Archives: Opinion

How To Make An American Quilt

My apologies to those who might think this is about the new movie starring Wynona Ryder and others. I admit it. I did it deliberately to draw you in.

Two weeks ago, outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, I was fortunate to view once again the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I first saw it in April, 1993 when I attended the March On Washington. It was then and now a powerful experience.

The Quilt is massive. I was told in Pasadena that it is 35,000 panels large. And, it grows at the rate of 5,000 panels a year. If you get the opportunity to see each panel, it can represent one or more persons who have died of AIDS and its complications. In my two experiences with the Quilt, I’ve become overwhelmed by its awesome size and by what that size represents. That’s thousands upon thousands of Americans who have died of this painful scourge. Thousands and thousands of Americans who have been seemingly ignored by their own government.

The Quilt holds a special place in my heart. My sister, a practicing heterosexual, died of AIDS in 1991. She was 41. In fact, I didn’t realize until this moment that in terms of years, I have outlived my sister. Marcia was a beautiful woman who had five children. Two of those children, my youngest nephews, have NO parents. Their father had also contracted AIDS and died years before. Marcia was much on my mind when I first saw the Quilt in Washington, D.C. that spring day. I looked at the panels, thought of my sister, and looked at those alabaster buildings which seem to contain an uncaring, unfeeling bureaucracy uninterested in the plight of millions of Americans.

Some of my friends from The Fireplace and I are getting together next October in Washington D.C. We want very much to put faces and human contact on the correspondence of people we’ve only met on cyberspace and on the telephone. We also want to view the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt on the Mall. It will be a massive effort, but I — for one — feel that it will be necessary to demonstrate to the American government and the people it represents the awesome responsibility it faces every day until this plague is wiped out. I can’t think of a better time, one month before the National elections, of making this pilgrimage.

I wish you will join us there.

Don’t settle for misinformation. I hope you’ll check out some of the resources below the line for information about AIDS and HIV. Thanks!

Ciao for now!
Mike

Resources

[Links deleted]

And Now… The President of The United States

As an Afro-American male, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that I’d be proud to have Colin Powell as my President (and, obviously, as yours as well). I think he represents what’s best about America and just coincidentally happens to be an Afro-American (or if you prefer, an African-American) himself.

As a gay male, however, I am disquieted by Gen. Powell’s dual nature about gays in the military service. On the one hand, there is the General’s public persona where he claims that gays and lesbians would be disruptive to the military services. On the other, there is the private persona where, if I am to believe what I am told, he openly accepts gay military on his staff. Now, I understand the necessity of having a public persona and a private persona. However, to have such diametrically opposed views as these seem to be seems to me to be a cause for concern.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to David Mixner, whom you may recognize as President Clinton’s advisor on gay and lesbian issues. (I hesitate to describe Mr. Mixner as that considering how Mr. Clinton has treated him since the inauguration.) Mr. Mixner stated that gay and lesbian politicos will be meeting with Gen. Powell to determine what his stand is on issues important to the gay and lesbian community. Mr. Mixner feels that, although the President has been a firm (albeit invisible) supporter of the community, we should not put “all our eggs in one basket.” This is a sentiment to which I wholeheartedly agree, as a gay man and a Black man. Mr. Mixner also stated that Sen. Dole, who had been a supporter of gay and lesbian equal rights recently returned a contribution, presumably so as not to appear beholden to the gay and lesbian community.

Of course, all of this is so much conjecture, but it gives us pause — time to reflect on the things that we should be doing with one year remaining before the presidential and Congressional elections. I, for one, will be reading Gen. Powell’s book, My American Journey (Random House, 1995). Realizing that the views that I am reading are distilled, I want to be able to understand where the man is coming from. Also, I’ll be looking into Mr. Clinton’s and Mr. Dole’s records regarding the things I heard about them as well. I’m already registered to vote, as you should be, and I participate in all national, state, and municipal elections, except party primaries as I am not a member of a political party.

I remember my awakening as a gay male in January, 1993 when President Clinton proposed the abolition of the ban on gay and lesbian military personnel. I also remember my disappointment when the President failed to appear at the 1993 March On Washington. And my disappointment when the government imposed their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on the military. It seems that for as many moves as we make forward, we take as many in reverse.

The time is once again coming for us to step us and make our voices heard. Let’s do it intelligently from a position of knowledge. Let’s not do it from a position of fear and intimidation.

Ciao for now!
Mike

It’s Not My Fault

Hey! It’s not my fault.
He was just standing there.
I can’t help it if he didn’t have any clothes on.

It’s the homophobe’s worse nightmare.
A gay man let loose in the locker room of any of your trendy health clubs. And, yes, the gay man is me. The time was yesterday.

I was changing clothes, not lingering.
It’s not my fault.
I have eyes. I wasn’t staring. Not too much anyway.
If I looked straight ahead, he was in my field of view.
I looked straight ahead. Several times. But, I didn’t stare.

It’s not my fault he wasn’t wearing any clothes. I’m not responsible that he had just the right amount of fur covering his nice tight butt.
Hey, I was moving as fast as I can!

Seriously, though, a lot of heterosexual men get really uptight about being seen (or watched, if you prefer) in the locker room. Why? I don’t know. I just think they think that we (the gay men of America) are all out to get them. I don’t know about that. Gay men just have a healthy fantasy life. Personally, all men are gay. It’s much simpler that way. It would be even simpler if those homophobic dudes just chilled out and accept whatever attention we’re giving them. After all, there’s nothing to fear from us, right? We’re all girlie men, eh?

I think the problem is that those guys are afraid… of a couple of things. They’re afraid they might enjoy the attention. Or, that they might be treated by us the way they treat women. Maybe they think that we won’t take “no” for an answer. Hey, “no” means no, unless they’re being coy like they accuse women of being.

Remember what FDR said.
To paraphrase, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

So, homophobic men of America, be cool. The next time you’re in the locker room, or on the streets, or anywhere, and you catch me giving you the eye, don’t fret about it. It just means you’re a hot looking dude and you should be proud of that.

After all, it’s not my fault!

Ciao for now!
Mike

Cry The Beloved Country

Dateline: Los Angeles, CA

The airwaves have been full of the sound of the so-called Fuhrman Tapes for two weeks now and the sounds are deafening.

Lawyers hurling insults back and forth;
jurists becoming part of the game;
reporters covering the trial like the latest soccer match.

Two people are still dead.

Dateline: Washington, DC

Like the Baltimore Colts before him, Sen. Robert Packwood skulks out of town in the dead of night. Despite a Senate process which would result in his explusion, Sen. Packwood is allowed to resign with an apology and a Federal pension in his pocket.

Second Opinion:

Joe Weider
Men’s Fitness, September 1995 issue
©1995 by Men’s Fitness Magazine, Inc.

Today’s guest editorial comes from an unlikely source, which proves, once again, that there are no unlikely sources.

…I know it’s a long leap from parking violations to terrorist bombings. But while the disease is different, the symptoms are the same: If a person doesn’t personally approve of laws that managed to work their way through our system of checks and balances, he feels no obligation to obey them. … the winds of anarchy — of self-absorption taken to a dangerous extreme — are blowing. We ignore them at our own peril.

Final Comment

Thanks. Joe.
Folks, pick up the issue.
It’s worth it for Mr. Weider’s Publisher’s Letter if nothing else.
Personally, I enjoyed the hunky dude on the front cover!

Random thoughts today. My apologies. It’s a little hard for anything to break through the morass of the Simpson nonsense and a twice daily 35 mile commute; so, I don’t really have any one thing on my mind today. In fact, I don’t have anything on it at all.

Thank God It’s Friday.

Ciao for now!
Mike