Oh behave! I did my best -- but I'm sure you all will agree that the dynamic DJ duo The Perry Twins are just too hot too ignore! Check out my interview with the boys behind the turntables -- and catch them at a city near you!
If you still need proof that things get better check out this extended version of my interview with comedian Wanda Sykes. I spent some time with the funny-lady who is also a very close friend and one of my greatest inspirations. Wanda and her wife Alex are two of the most courageous individuals I know, and it's by their example that I aspire to have just as great an impact on our community as they have demonstrated. Never give up! I learned that from Wanda! Read and let me know what you think!
Unabashedly charming and without parallel -- Justin Utley is one of the most talented individuals I've ever met and he faces every challenge with great optimism and joy! His latest accomplishment -- his musical theatre debut in Tony Asaro's Our Country. A reminder of the bigger picture and scheme of things living as a proud, out gay American. This is your country too! You have nothing to fear!
I found myself walking home the other afternoon, all set to catch the 7 train on 42nd and I walked past The Chrysler Building, and realized that I had a lot in common with New York City's deco-style skyscraper. For the longest time, I thought that the Chrysler Building was actually the one scaled by King Kong in the original movie classic -- it was indeed in fact the Empire State Building, which the Chrysler lives in the shadow of. But as I walked by this New York City landmark, admiring it's angular lines and smooth gray surface, it's one of the taller structures in the manmade concrete jungle that is adorned with powerfully godlike griffins near the top arching spectacularly into the building's monolithic upper structure. It's really very impressive! It's just one of the impressive sites in our great city, but at the core when you think that it was imagined by another human being and then realized by a group of workers -- that's what is spectacularly impressive!
And here it sits in midtown Manhattan drawing tourists from all over the world -- the second most famous building in Manhattan...and it looks really happy. The Chrysler Building looks settled and content with it's location...and that gave me great pause. Because when compared to my own life -- I think that I also would feel like the Chrysler Building -- if I wasn't struggling to be like the Empire State Building. The Chrysler is every bit (if not more) majestic than it's sister building -- it draws just as many tourist and it isn't often the focus of impending destruction in sci-fi or disaster movies: you don't see the Chrysler Building getting shot up by alien invaders, ever.
When I look at the Chrysler Building and admire it's strength, it's purpose -- I find a kindred spirit. I respect it's majesty and how it stands mighty and poised for battle -- it's powerful looking without having to boast about it. It shines upwardly reaching to the sky and when it glows it's vibrant from within. The building looks like it's smiling standing vigil over the denizens of the streets below, and where the Empire State Building appears imperious and royal -- the Chrysler is like an accessible celebrity who rides the subway. It maintains an amazing polish and sheen! It doesn't look a day over 30. Above all it looks like it's having a better time than any other building skyscraper (except the Conde Nast Building down the street) in the city! And like that!
Someday perhaps I'll feel like the Empire State Building. Until then I'm happy to live up to the Chrysler's reputation...if only 20%. I don't think I've earned it's full regality but I'm working on it. And it will be soon in the meantime I'll wink and smile at the building that does the same back everyday and all over New York City!
Without a doubt this past week was among the most tragic faced within our community. Needlessly the lives of 6 gay youth were lost primarily because they were bullied or disrespected. The burden of acceptance was just too much for them and these young innocents decided it was easier to just take their lives. Among the sadder cases was the story of a young Texas youth, Asher Brown -- he was 13 and from the looks of him and the pictures his family shared of him in telling his story, Asher was a very happy boy -- small for his age, but with a round happy face and gifted smile that was certainly destined for something great. Asher has been made fun and teased at in school, and in the week leading up to his suicide, was pushed down the stairs at school and watched as his abusers kicked his books down the hall. The day before he shot himself in the face, Asher had asked if he could speak with his step dad and told him that he knew he was gay. It was never made clear in the media how his step dad responded but from how his parents spoke of young Asher it was difficult to imagine that they would loved him any less. Instead of facing the unexpected joy of his life, Asher was so distraught he ended it.
Another teen, one much closer to home Tyler Clementi through himself off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate conspired to openly reveal on the internet through a live web chat, the 18 year old Clementi engaging in sex with a male companion. The roommate cruelly opened the feed to the world wide web offering disdainful commentary like: "He's at it again." to God knows how many people online. Worse of all, this wasn't the first time the roommate had done this -- the first time the live web cast and utter invasion of privacy failed to post. Instead of finishing his school term at Rutgers University because the embarrassment was just too much, Tyler jumped off a bridge. We'll never know what potential he was destined to realize.
These stories and the ones from other gay teens this past month: Seth Walsh, 13 from California, Justin Aaberg, 15 from Minnesota, Billy Lucas, 15 from Indiana, and Raymond Chase, 19 from New York -- are the worst tragedies and the most shameful because they could have been prevented. How many other young teens, gay or straight, have recently taken their lives because of the thriving and malicious "mean girl" epidemic? We live in a culture that celebrates and glorifies, awards and makes millionaires of people and their bad behaviors! WIth the country entering what seems it's most undignified era of social strife and racism, with what looks like a fanatical group of white supremacist ranting on about having to take the country back, do we have the luxury anymore to turn a blind eye and not be proactive? Not hold any accountability for the person standing next to you?
Let me tell you something: No one has taken the country anymore, but some folks are prepared to take us back into the dark ages. As a culture and society we Americans are way behind the curve, and if we don't show accountability we will lose this country for sure and the 21st Century will be the era of un-enlightenment. You can't stop the evolution of the human culture.
My message to young people out there, especially those who have faced or are facing the challenges that these young people did as well and find themselves losing the battle -- I ask and I plead that you hang in there, because it gets better. Your life is a gift and everyday you have the opportunity to open it again as if for the first time -- imagine it's like getting a box that you have the ability to find anything you can imagine inside of it. That's the gift of life! I'm not going to tell you that it's easy, but it's worth living. Please do not deprive the world of what you are capable of becoming, because you haven't nearly realized all of your greatness...and what's more incredible is -- you never do as everyday is a new opportunity to be greater and better than the day before.
Do not deprive yourself of the success of achievement, of making your parents proud, your first dance (no matter how badly you did it) and most of all your first kiss. Don't lose out on your very first 4th of July celebration wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you and hearing the words "I love you." It changes your life and is without question the best feeling in the world...and it happens again and again.
It gets better! I promise you -- it's worth living...for yourself, for your families and the friends that you have yet to make that will support you through thick and thin.
If there's anything that I want to achieve with my writing and my notoriety as an interviewer it's that I strive to bring to light the successful and honored stories of strength, joy and character of the people in our community that are doing it every day. What is it? They are living! And if they've taught me anything it is that no one day is like the last...and that each is just one more step to greatness.
Don't let them win! You are valuable -- you are great!
Tonight I met comedian Kate Clinton. She's kicked off a special run of performances at the downtown spot Dixon Place in the Bowery. And with all the sad trappings of the week to be able to engage in some good vibes and humor with Clinton was very necessary. In this trifling day and age when everyone seems to be asking where are all the role models within our community, the individuals who have paved the way and pioneered the movement so that the rest of us could eagerly sit still and comfortably in our skin -- I'm reminded that the courageous Kate Clinton has been an openly gay comedian and performing for 30 years. Kate was gay and out when it wasn't cool!
When there wasn't a weekly sitcom character to degrade or movie villain that wasn't a deviant, Clinton was out there breaking barriers with her wit and humor...all the while proving that it gets better. To take that pride in one's self and to stand in front of an audience fully realized, it takes wonderful amount of nerve -- to do it for 30 years...it takes enormous talent. Tonight Clinton discussed politics -- the movement (or lack there of) of gay civil rights, the embattled task of our current President -- the first minority to take the seat. She shared her insights on our diverse gay culture and the perceptions within (and without) the community. She even touched on bullying and how she handled it.
She proved her strength is in her talent as a humorist -- one of the greatest of this generation; and although she doesn't have the star-power of some of her contemporaries there isn't anyone that can deny what it has meant for Kate Clinton to do what she does -- and most of all: the grace she displays through her honesty and humor. It is without comparison.
It saddens me that this week alone 3 young people took their lives and they will never know the power of humor that Kate Clinton possesses. I wonder if they had sat with me in the audience tonight and looked at Clinton doing her thing...I wonder how differently their lives might have turned out. Because if Kate Clinton has the power to do anything with her comedy it's to inspire!