Recent Comments


    Ann Rostow: Angels in America

    By Ann Rostow–

    Angels in America

    Before I started this column today, I was checking a list of ideas that I posted on my “notes” iPhone file. Usually, I delete the ideas after I mention them or decide not to use them, but sometimes I keep older ones around if they’re not time sensitive. For several years, I’ve had the notation “717!” on this list and I’ve never erased it because I have no clue what it means and I still want to remember what the hell it referenced. The exclamation point suggests I obviously thought it was interesting at some point. Yet other than the 717 airplane, the number is now meaningless to me. 

    Or is it? I just read that the number 717 might be a blessing from angels, or a hint that you’re going through a spiritual awakening. Alrighty then! And speaking of spiritual awakenings, what just happened last Tuesday? Did we actually win something? Did we keep the Senate? Did democracy as we know it survive a showdown with history? Are Republican leaders pulling away from Trump? If we’re dreaming, let’s pull up the covers and sleep a little longer.

    Mel and I are faithful watchers of MSNBC, but we were switching around the other night and hit CNN just in time to watch their numbers guy, John King, explain some new votes out of Arizona or Nevada, the two states that I kept confusing for each other all week. After King gave a lucid and brief report, we quickly went back to MSNBC because, to us, nothing is real unless Steve Kornacki tells us so. 

    To my distress, Kornacki preceded to deliver the same information in a muddled barrage of hems, haws, and paper shuffling, descending into the weeds for no reason and leaving us less informed than we had been two minutes before. Could it be, I wondered, that the whole Kornacki hype was just that? Hype? Surely not; he’s such a nice guy! At one point, someone asked Steve the status of the House races, and he proceeded to run through some 15 races in a row, throwing in distracting bursts of information like fireworks to the extent that we could no longer assess which party had an advantage overall. If John King was drinking cognac, Steve Kornacki was mixing Red Bull and meth.

    To be fair, many of the problems were not Steve’s fault. And we have to wonder why the vast majority of states can count votes within 24 hours of polls closing, while a handful of others seem to be relying on a backroom filled with senior citizens using abaci. Then there were the befuddling different categories of ballots.

    “So, Steve, when will we find out who won the Attorney General’s seat in Nevadizona?”

    “Well, Nicole, tonight at 6:35 Eastern Time, we’re expecting 12,435 votes out of Jambalaya County, but those will be from military personnel who sent their ballots using red ink prior to November 1st, but have since ‘cured’ their votes by returning affidavits in black ink that arrived by midnight Thursday.”

    “Hmmm. Do we know whether those votes are Democratic or Republican?”

    “No, we don’t Nicole! And that’s the big question. Because in 2018 the same kind of votes went Republican big time. But those votes were absentee ballots written in green ink, turned in on Election Day, and allowed to be counted without needing a cure by court order. On the other hand, Jambalaya is a Democratic County, and voted for Biden by 4 points in 2020 when these same votes were marked provisional and not counted until June of 2021.” 

    “Gosh, Rachel, what would we do without Steve Kornacki!”

    “You said it! I think there’s a rule that he has to stay at his desk all night, even if he sleeps here at the studio!”

    I also wonder why all these Congressional races in California seem to be counted by that character on The Carol Burnett Show who moves at a snail’s pace. Tim Conway! I know many of you weren’t born then, but at the rate he moved, Conway’s act is still in progress. Actually, he’s dead, so he’s slowed down even further.

    Say My Name

    I know there’s important news this week. Lots of GLBT people were elected to various offices around the land, including lesbian governors in Massachusetts and Oregon, our incumbent gay governor reelected in Colorado, and Mel and my favorite lesbian Congresswoman reelected out of Kansas City, Kansas. Yay, team!

    Speaking of teams, the U.S. soccer team has a rainbow logo it intends to use frequently during the World Cup in Qatar, where male homosexuality is outlawed. I am also hearing the old pronunciation, “CA-TAR,” more often than the new cool pronunciation, “cutter.” Which is right? After much research I can tell you that the local pronunciation is a guttural sound that few English speakers can reproduce. And yes, CA-TAR is quite acceptable. After all, no normal English speaker says “Pahr-EEE.” We say “Paris” because, just as we are not locals living in Doha, we are not French speakers living in the Ile de France.

    It’s like people who say “N’awrlins” or “Looville,” instead of “New Orleans or Louisville.” Since when do we all have to mimic the residents of these localities? We sound like pretentious idiots, n’est-ce pas? I’m considering going back to “Key-Yev” rather than “Keeve.”

    RESPECT, Find Out What It Means to Me

    As we go to press, the Senate is preparing to vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would formally repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and require the federal government and all states to recognize all marriages legally contracted in the U.S. and elsewhere. The bill will prevent the High Court from summarily reversing the impact of its 2015 legalization of same-sex marriages. That kind of reversal was most unlikely, but given some bizarre comments by Clarence Thomas, and in light of the Dobbs decision, an act of Congress will give all of us some peace of mind. 

    Keep in mind that unlike the Supreme Court decision, the new bill doesn’t force any state to perform same-sex marriages. In theory, therefore, some right-wing state could vote to stop performing gay weddings, although under this new law they would be required to honor them. 

    Gay residents who want to wed in this ugly fantasy state would a) have to go get married in another state, and b) likely ask the courts to enforce the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision and force the mean state officials to license gay marriages once more. If somehow the justices refused and overturned their own precedent, the Respect for Marriage Act would act as a safety net, ensuring that everyone stays married and has some ability to marry going forward. That said, I can’t imagine a state would go back to what is now a very unpopular antigay policy. And I can’t imagine the High Court would screw with fundamental rights a second time.

    But never say never. Also, if the Respect for Marriage Act passes with a 60-plus vote majority in the Senate, it will send a nice signal to the gay and lesbian community to indicate how far we’ve come in the last 20 years. Now it’s the outliers who disapprove of our unions, and the vast, not so silent, majorities who support us. 

    The first procedural vote is taking place as we go to press on Wednesday. The final vote is expected “in coming weeks,” according to majority leader Chuck Schumer. The House had already passed a version of the bill before the midterms, but the Senate was waiting to get all its lame ducks in a row.

    Grave Mistakes

    Before we leave the subject of same-sex marriage, I was just reading about a widower, Darrell Frye, of Dayton, Ohio, who lost his husband, Jason Neto, at a young age. According to LGBTQ Nation, Frye bought a double plot in Catholic Calvary Cemetery, since Jason, who died of a heart attack in 2020, was Catholic. Frye also installed a double headstone with both their names, and the line: “Married 23 July, 2016.”

    Frye had checked with the cemetery people to make sure two gay men were allowed to be buried together, and he was told it was no problem. Yet when he returned a few months after the headstone was erected, he found it was missing. The cemetery told him the stone was removed “for maintenance,” but when it returned, the line with the marriage was simply gone. Someone had literally chiseled it out and smoothed over the stone. 

    At first, Darrell Frye got no explanation from the authorities at Calvary, but after hiring a lawyer, the tune changed. Earlier this month, Frye told the local TV. station that Calvary “offered a full and unconditional apology for their mistake and expressed a sincere interest in making amends and in restoring the memorial boulder to its original state or an acceptable equivalent.”

    Cavalry confirmed, adding: “We will be working with the engraver to restore the memorial immediately.” 

    Nothing like lawyers and the local news cameras to get the ball rolling back in the right direction. But what were they thinking?

    Peppa Pig to The Dark Side

    Have you noticed that they’re starting to air those disturbing commercials with cold stray dogs shivering through a winter night because (your name here, you self-centered skinflint!) refused to send money to the SPCA? The sad creatures are curled up behind the dumpster in an alley, abandoned by humankind like the little match girl who froze to death in front of the cheerful bakery window. Can’t you help?

    What? You have to buy Christmas presents, pay your rent, buy a plane ticket to Chicago, and donate to the Warnock campaign? But the animals!

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but to my shame I have no problem watching the ad about the old people with no money for food, yet I have to mute the sound on the hungry dogs.

    In other animal news, albeit animated animals, One Million Moms has come out from under a rock to send an “alert” to parents:

    “Many parents have found the prominent animated children’s program Peppa Pig to be a clean show,” they began. “One Million Moms has recently found this to be no longer true. Peppa Pig has added a same-sex polar bear couple to the program.”

    Oh, no!

    “In the Peppa Pig episode titled ‘Families,’” Moms inform us, “a polar bear cub speaks about her lesbian parents to her class.

    “‘I’m Penny Polar Bear. I live with my mommy and my other mommy,’ the cartoon character explains to her classmates. ‘One mommy is a doctor, and one mommy cooks spaghetti. I love spaghetti.’”

    “So, beware,” warn the Moms. “Peppa Pig is now boldly glorifying gay marriage.”

    Bad pig! No slop.

    More Information, Please

    I intended to skip the fraught subject of puberty blockers this week. Did any of you read that lengthy article in The New York Times the other day? It seems that puberty blockers may in some cases have a negative impact on bone health, depending on when they are administered, how long they’re taken, and how quickly hormones are started after the blockers are halted. That negative impact, in turn, can be mild and reversible, or quite severe and harmful. It all depends on a number of other factors.

    Of course, the decision to use puberty blockers depends on many factors as well. How confident is your child about his or her gender identity at, let’s say, age 10 or 11? How much do you trust your medical and psychiatric experts? Bone health is put at risk by many cancer treatments, which are still pursued when it seems the risk to bones is outweighed by the positive aspects of the treatments. It may well be the case that the risk to bone health is worth taking, given the value of puberty blockers to the life of a transgender tween. 

    Or not. Maybe your child is experimenting with gender and can’t articulate to themselves or to you what the future will hold. Let’s just say that osteoporosis at age 15 is not on anyone’s list of good outcomes for that future.

    The problem is that politicians, particularly right-wingers, don’t deal in gray areas or uncertainties. And yet that is exactly where we are in terms of transgender care for pre-teen children, an area that is growing not only because more trans kids are recognizing themselves in society, but also because more kids in general look at their identities more broadly. 

    At any rate, I decided not to bring up the subject because I thought I’d find it hard to limit the topic to a few paragraphs. And voila, I was right. More on this, I’m sure.

    GLBT Fortnight in Review
    Published on November 17, 2022