Archive for January, 2008

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It’s Time to Get Married

January 31, 2008

With one small action, I took a big step today.  As a matter of fact, it felt like stepping into the breach.  It was simple, just 2 phone calls.  I’ve used the phone before so making these calls should not have caused the anxiety that it did.  I hesitated to dial the numbers, which surprised me, because I’ve had experience in facing the fears and taking the necessary steps to combat the big things in life. 

I called the local offices of my state Senator and state Representative.  I’ve requested an appointment to meet with them and discuss a few bills that have been introduced into the State House and Senate.  House Bill 1400 is the topic of conversation I have planned when I meet with my Representative, Deberah Kula.  This bill would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission law to add sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression to the list of protected minority groups, which already includes the following:  race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, use of guide or support animals because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals. 

Do I feel oppression based on my orientation?  Generally, no, I do not.  However, I have been subject to discrimination, harassment, and have been served poorly by cashiers or wait-persons which I suspect has been based on my being gay.  Would I like to see some state-wide uniform policy about that kind of discrimination?  You bet I would. 

Of greater importance is my meeting with Senator Kasunic.  He is the only democratic sponsor of Senate Bill 1250, which is a proposed amendment to the state constitution.  This amendment is the so-called  “Protection of Marriage” amendment.  I’m not sure why marriage needs protection, but a fair number of extremely conservative and fundamentally religious types seem convinced that if gays are allowed to marry, the institution itself will suffer irreparable harm.  Pennsylvania already has laws denying marriage to homosexual couples.  I see no reason to write discrimination into the state constitution. 

I also wonder why some people are so concerned about allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Increasing the number of eligible participants seems to make sense.  There is  obviously a significant number of gays and lesbians who wish to purchase a marriage license.  Marriage discourages promiscuity, enforces certain social standards, and allows couples to care for each other in a way that no other relationship can provide.  My relationship with my partner is very much like a marriage.  We don’t have the license, and we don’t have the financial benefits, nor do we have the more than 1200 benefits granted to straight married couples, but we do live our lives as spouses to each other.  None of the straight couples in the neighborhood seem to be suffering because of our presence.  I doubt that a legal document, and the attending benefits, if we could ever secure that license, would affect the quality of the straight marriages here on our street.

We’ve decided that we cannot wait.  We will continue to fight for our right to marry, which is why I made that phone call to my state Senator.  We’ve also made plans to get married.  That’s right, we’re having a wedding.  We will declare our love and allegiance to each other in front of God and family and friends on a bright summer Saturday in August 2008.  It won’t matter that our home state won’t give us the license.  Our love will be the same.  Perhaps you’d better call a marriage counselor, just in case our vows make yours null and void.

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MRSA Gay USA

January 17, 2008

It looks like it is time for hysteria, histrionics, tongue-clicking, and finger pointing.  What’s it all about this time?  It’s a multi-drug resistant methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus MDR-MRSA, for short. 

Oh.  Is that all?  MRSA has left the hospital and invaded our schools and the gym, and anywhere else humans happen to hang out.  What’s with the panic?

 Well, it appears that this particular strain of the bug is hitting the gay community, gay men in particular, pretty hard.  Reuters reports on the study that points the accusatory finger at those bad boys with the fabulous clothes.  The study says that certain geographical communities, and the health services in those communities that serve a relatively high population of homosexual men, are seeing an increase in the number of cases of the MDR-MRSA. 

It seems that the hysteria is premature though.  Numbers may be being twisted.  Careful reading of other reports, like this NPR news story, indicate that the placing of blame may be misleading.  The new strain of the infection is affecting only 20% of gay men who have contacted MRSA:

Among gay men with resistant staph infections, Diep says, about 20 percent in San Francisco and up to 50 percent in Boston “are infected with this more-difficult-to-treat form of USA-300.”

That is 20-50% of the population that has already contacted some form of MRSA has this new MDR-MRSA, and these numbers are from clinics that serve a higher number of gay men than other health clinics.  The CDC states that 12% of clinical MRSA infections are community associated, and that this number varies by geographical location and population.  This report from 2003 is already talking about MRSA moving out of the hospital, into the community, and into certain minority populations.  It also warns that “We should not think of MRSA as either some type of super-staph infection or as a specifically gay health issue.”  according to Kenneth Haller, MD, President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. 

It remains to be seen if the study by Binh Diep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine is politically driven.  However, it is clear that the religious fundamentalist groups with an agenda against the gay community are already latching onto this.  It won’t take long for more to jump on the bandwagon.  Even in the time it has taken for me to do the research for this article, the “news” articles from conservative and religious-based sources with anti-gay biases increases with each search I perform. 

Sadly, it appears that we are in a DeLorean, travelling back to the 1980’s.  The accusations of a new “gay” epidemic, and calls for quarantining the gay population are being raised once again.  This time, we are educated, strong, and powerful.  We will not let intolerance, bigotry, and homophobia wipe out another generation of gay men. 

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Let the Music Begin

January 7, 2008

Being a musician and teacher, you’d think I’d talk more about this kind of thing here on the terrestrial ball.  I try to talk about the various aspects of my life here, and not limit it to one or two particular topics. 

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at our small, local, theater.  I’ve done projects with our hometown theater for many years now.  Most of the time, I have the job of Music Director for our productions of Broadway musicals.   Our theater has even billed itself as Scottdale’s little Off-Broadway Theater because it really is just a few doors off of Broadway Avenue. 

I spent the afternoon there to listen to auditions for Into the Woods.  Tonight, I am returning for additional auditions.  We have some parts cast already and we’re looking to round out the company with strong singers and actors. 

Last year, I was the music director for High School Musical.  Our theater company was able to obtain the performance rights almost as soon as they became available.  After that production, which was trying, to say the least, we decided that we would retire from directing.  “We” includes Marlena, the Director, myself, and possibly Janet, the Stage Manager.  However, just like Cher’s Farewell Tour, we have returned for this production of a favorite musical.  We’ve already announced our retirement again, with this being our absolute last production.  We’ll see.

So in just a few minutes, I will leave here, and drive over to the theater and begin the process again.  I’ll listen, I watch, I’ll check vocal ranges.  The director, the stage manager, and I will discuss all the possibilities for casting, and soon we’ll hold a first rehearsal.  I promise, I’ll write more about this experience as we approach the performances in March. 

 Thoughtful insights for this blog entry?  Oh, yes, I’ve got one.  I’m amazed that the small town of Scottdale, with such a small population, is supportive of live community theater.  I’m grateful for the opportunities that this provides for our youth, as well as the adults here in our little borough.