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    Ann Rostow: Trump Might Be an Island

    By Ann Rostow–

    Trump Might Be an Island

    I’ve noticed a number of articles pointing out that George HW Bush was no particular friend to the LGBT community while in office. It’s quite true that he empowered the religious right, avoided gay civil rights issues and finessed the fight against AIDS. Still, I’m okay with emphasizing his positive qualities in the immediate aftermath of his death. This was the 1980s, after all, and his Democratic successor initiated Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and signed the Defense of Marriage Act. The 20th century was not a great era for us in general, so I will cut him a break on our behalf for now.

    I have a Keats-like sentiment at these half-staff moments in the life of our nation—the bells are tolling for all of us, right?

    I also wonder what will happen when or if Trump kicks the bucket. I say “if” to keep alive the possibility that the man is a specter or perhaps an alien from outer space, two remote explanations for his manifest lack of human characteristics. Barring those, I shudder to imagine the jarring display of his coffin draped in the American flag. And what will people say? Will Michael Beschloss or Doris Kearns Goodwin be required to expound on tax cuts or tweaks to NAFTA? Let’s just say that good manners will be sorely tested all around.

    Oh, and no, the bells won’t be tolling for me in that moment.

    No Umami in Catholic Taste

    I see that the Pope has advised gay priests and nuns to stay celibate or leave the Church. I’m not sure if this pronouncement is viewed as an insult to our community, but it doesn’t seem like a surprising suggestion. Don’t all priests and nuns have to be celibate? Why should gay ones be any different?

    I think he meant that people should resist the urge to use Church vows as a mechanism to rein in their gay impulses. Again, I consider this a sensible proscription. If you’re gay and unhappy about it, get thee to a therapist.

    I haven’t read about any sexually abusive nuns lately, or ever. But those pedophile priests are a piece of work. I don’t know if they’re technically gay or just deranged, but they’ve been allowed to run rampant for nearly two decades since the scope of the Church scandals became public. What the hell, Catholic Church? How come these predators continue to pop up in the headlines? Why are they still tolerated? Why, as a matter of fact, are more of them not in jail? Did they all outlast the statutes of limitation? Has Alex Acosta been consulting at the Vatican?

    Dumb and Dumber

    So, I have sort of good news. All of the GLBT petitions set for discussion at Supreme Court conferences are now rescheduled for January at the earliest, so our holidays will not be marred by disturbing thoughts of Gorsuch, Alito and company gleefully preparing to undo much of our recent legal progress in the name of “religious freedom” or “Congressional intent.”

    Speaking of the Trumpi-fied Court, I was just reading a lawyerly post about a recent oral argument on whether it is fair for law enforcement to impound a $40,000 car that was used in a relatively minor drug infraction. I guess the Constitution doesn’t encourage excessive punishments, but in truth I know nothing about the underlying legal issue that had something to do with the extrapolation of the Bill of Rights into state law.

    The guy writing the article, however, was indeed an expert, who expressed astonishment that, while asking their questions from the bench, neither Gorsuch nor Kavanaugh appeared to have any idea what they were talking about, and that Gorsuch (who is proving himself a supercilious prig) added insult to ignorance by making sarcastic comments to the state attorney general facing the Court.

    Just what we need! Not only are these guys hardcore anti-gay conservatives, but they’re a couple of know-nothings to boot and at least one of them is a pompous ass. Alito is just as bad, and Thomas is, well, Thomas is another thing we can add to the ugly side of George HW Bush’s historical ledger once we have paid our respects.

    Help Wanted: Editor

    I’m scrounging for gay stories this morning because it’s Christmas time, an extended excuse to drink and ignore professional responsibility, and also because there aren’t too many GLBT U.S. political or legal topics into which I can delve right now. Instead, dear readers, let’s consider Bush 41’s service dog, “Sully,” and the online news service, Slate, which published a mildly disparaging piece aimed at those who would elevate Sully’s role in the late President’s life.

    Maybe you saw the heart-rending shot of Sully lying in front of Bush’s coffin with a sad look on his sweet face. Get over it, Slate writer Ruth Graham insists. Sully was no longtime soulmate, but a working canine who spent less than six months helping Bush during the waning weeks of his life. Now, Sully is off to his next assignment at Walter Reed hospital. Chop chop! Why must this simple, pragmatic situation be transformed into the contrived saga of a devoted dog who refuses to leave his master’s side until his duty is done?

    You would have thought Graham unearthed an old shoplifting charge against the Bush twins, or accused GHW of cheating at golf. The reaction from people on all sides was apoplectic. A key quote from Slate reading, “Sully … has been with the president for six months, not his lifelong companion,” was juxtaposed on Twitter with a shot of Sully walking in a patriotic vest. “Shut it down, now,” said one of the 3,400 subsequent commentators. Another called Graham a “soulless monster.” “‘That dog is NOT cute or loyal’ is not the hill you want to die on,” wrote someone else. And then there was my personal favorite: “A cat wrote this.”

    I sympathize with Graham’s frustration towards the sentimental horse pucky that immediately rose up once Sully’s dramatic pose was widely publicized. But as a cynic myself, I could have told her there are times to swallow, smile and keep your snide thoughts to yourself, later to be shared over a cocktail with friends and family. Instead, Graham barged right on, even expanding her misguided theme to dogs in general.

    “Also,” she writes, “if dogs are subject to praise for obeying their masters, what do we do about the pets who eat their owners’ dead (or even just passed out) bodies?”

    Woah, Nelly! Here Ruth Graham becomes the overserved intern at the company’s Christmas party who started to lecture the head of accounting about Bernie Sanders and found herself defending Stalin’s five-year plans. Weren’t we talking about Sully, the relatively new, but much loved and very adorable, service dog? How did we get to household pets ripping flesh off the disabled bodies of their masters and mistresses? It’s Christmas!

    Look, just as we will reserve commentary on GHW Bush’s lack of serious action to combat HIV until after the flag returns to the top of the pole, so we will keep our reservations about Sully the service dog to ourselves. Personally, I thought he seemed like a very good dog.

    Girl! It’s Cold Outside!

    I love the story of the gay weatherman from Norfolk, Virginia, Blaine Stewart. According to an article in The Advocate, Stewart has been on the air for some twenty years on stations around the south and getting away with murder, it seems. In one illustration, Stewart tweets a map of predicted snowfall with the caption: “UPDATE: Get ready for a pounding. Some of us could see 8 inches or more. That’s too much—even for me.”

    In another, the forecast map again shows snow ahead while Stewart comments: “THESE ARE NOT @GRINDR INCHES. THESE ARE *ACTUAL* INCHES!”

    I guess Stewart is very popular and has won awards, so good for the bosses at wherever he works in Norfolk. Either the people there are nicer than I thought, or we’ve come a long way, or both.

    Speaking of Grindr, Scott Chen, the relatively new president of the gay hookup app, wrote the other day that while he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman, he will still boycott HTC, a conservative Chinese tech company. Most observers pounced on the first part of that commitment, particularly Chen’s reference to “holy matrimony.”

    “Some people think marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman,” Chen said on Facebook. “And I think so too.” After an outcry, Chen responded, calling himself a “huge advocate” for gay rights and insisting that, in fact, he does support gay marriage.

    “The reason I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience,” Chen “clarified.” “I am a straight man, married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage.”

    Hmmm.

    Grindr is owned by the Chinese gaming company Kunlun Group Limited.

    Him Too

    You’ve no doubt read about Eric Bauman, head of California’s Democratic Party, who has been forced out of office in a blizzard of nasty anecdotes and accusations. Bauman, who is gay, blamed alcohol for his constant sex talk and unwelcome provocations. Only a year into his current job, Bauman spent most of his career running the Democratic Party in Los Angeles County. The accusations of sexual abuse, generally making everyone uncomfortable, and heavy-handed bravado on the job run back many years.

    So, what else is new? Checking my news list, I see there are a couple of mystery items that defy my ability to read my own writing. “Kustle girl?” Or maybe “Kiestle girl?” “Days stay celebration?” As a rule, if something gets written down on the list, it’s worth a mention, so I feel as if I’m letting us down by abandoning these topics without a fight. But these scrawls defeat me.

    And apropos of nothing, did you see the picture of the giant steer who was too big for the slaughterhouse machines and was allowed to retire to a field in peace? “Knickers” is seven-years-old, lives in Australia and weighs 3,000 pounds. I love him and I relished his story, a bright flash of good news that lit the darkness of our dystopian politics for one lovely moment.

    Knickers Prevails Again

    What do you suppose the Kustle girl was up to? Was she the one who was awarded an athletic scholarship after her parents disowned her for being gay? No, that was Emily Scheck, who was allowed to benefit from a GoFundMe page after the NCAA initially said she would lose her eligibility to run track at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

    Actually, this is a good one, and it has nothing to do with an athletic scholarship. Emily had just arrived at college when her parents found an incriminating photo and disowned her, driving up from Rochester with all of her possessions, which they stuffed in her car. They also took the car’s license plates, and ordered her never to speak to them or her siblings ever again.

    After friends set up a donation page, the NCAA noticed it and told her she could not use any of the funds if she wanted to maintain her NCAA eligibility. Thankfully, the organization reversed itself, and meanwhile, GoFundMe raised $100,000 before Emily stopped the process, thanking her donors and explaining that she now had enough cash to proceed with her college plans.

    Those parents have to be two of the most despicable people we’ve ever encountered in these pages, even taking into account some truly hostile enemies of our vibrant and lovable GLBTQLMNOP community. How incredibly horrid they seem.

    I’m hard pressed to say whether my love for Knickers the steer is more powerful than my hatred for the Schecks. When I weigh the balance of my emotions after writing about these two, am I left with a slight excess of happiness? Or have the evil Schecks destroyed any shred of joy I might have retained from the valiant bovine?

    “No” is the answer to that! Knickers restores my faith in the world.

    arostow@aol.com