A Maskless Proposal

The following may or may not be inspired by a renowned yet these days too seldom read 1729 essay, A Modest Proposal, by the late, great Dr. Jonathon Swift.

Thanksgiving 2020 is upon us and even the most virtuous in American society would have to admit this year has been… memorable.

Pretty much sums it up

The way I see it, we are standing at a precipice.  We can continue on as we have, squibbling and squabbling for the last gasps of healthy air, hair dye, and toilet tissue at our local markets as the weather turns cruel and we are forced inside.

Or we can take matters into our own hands.

We Americans have never been ones to back away from a fight to be EXACTLY who we are and get WHAT we want, WHEN we want it by challenging WHOMEVER we want in order to defend our freedoms to do so.

Through the generations this has meant standing up for our rights, taking to the streets and, well, even bearing arms if necessary in order to defend our TRUTHS that we PERSONALLY hold SELF-EVIDENT, no matter what anyone else says.

We’ll take small victories whenever we can #2020

It is the American way.  It has thus always been and always will be.

In the 1800s a number of us grabbed our whips, chains and gunpowder, holding firm to the grounds of our towns in order to preserve one of the then enduring traditions upon which our country was founded – SLAVERY. 

A very dedicated, very bold, very self-proclaimed group of PATRIOTS had the courage to put their muskets where their mouths were and fight to the death in order preserve their inalienable rights to make a living and feed their families on the backs of anyone deemed 3/5 human.

They dedicated their lives so their future generations could continue to live free and thus pass down whatever property, human or otherwise, they had managed to support, cultivate and grow through the years so their namesakes could continue to live well on what their ancestors had both literally and figuratively wrought.

Where are you going with this Chairy? #keepreading

This same inborn national verve translated to the early 1900s when any number of American men, and even women, did their damnedest in order to ensure that females could NEVER have the right to vote.  The patriarchy was being challenged and, though arguments were vociferous, those patriots upheld this tradition for almost 150 years from the day on which our country was founded.

No matter how you slice it, that’s quite a long winning-streak and just goes to show what can happen in these United States when one side believes in the rightness of their position on an issue and in both the inferiority and made up fake logic coming from the other side.

I can’t look!

Using this line of thought, Americans have continued to stand up for all kinds of rights, particularly from the 1960s on. 

Speaking of which, who could forget the crusaders who, with the support of law enforcement, took to their local bridge in order to beat back the invasion of those who didn’t sport their same pigment at THEIR neighborhood lunch counters, schools or local watering hole?

That is not to negate those who several decades later stormed the Capitol to ensure only members of the same sex could legally marry.   Having years before lost the fight to deprive people of different pigments of that right, those naysayers still managed to hold the line with solely traditional opposite-sex marriage for more than two centuries.

Valid

Particularly impressive was their ability to do so through a murderous, worldwide pandemic in the 1980s and 1990s that they cleverly employed to prove their point of the moral unworthiness of many of those new potential same-sex spouses to respectably enter into our country’s version of legally enshrined, wholly American wedlock.

It is then, that now, in the midst of yet another, albeit different global pandemic, a new but no less patriotic group of Americans are standing up in much the same tradition of those that came before them.

Let them hence be known as THE MASKLESS.

Also these idiots #COVERYOURNOSE

This is not their official title but for clarity’s sake it embodies the right for which they fight.  This fearless group among us CHOOSE to fight the new (though now seemingly old) 2020 virus that has murdered more than 1.4 million worldwide, almost 20% of them American, armed only with good, old-fashioned American GRIT.

Eschewing prevailing societal and medical sentiment and guidelines on public health, the latter of which they consider as freedom suppressing, fake and phony as any expert testimony in our recent history, the MASKLESS have proclaimed to any of us that will listen that this Thanksgiving they are taking to the streets, and the airports, and their houses of worship and any other local establishment or relatives’ home that is open to them.

They will do so in as LARGE NUMBERS as THEY choose because enshrined in our Constitution since the beginning of our time has been their RIGHT to assembly.

Maybe more my speed

They will do so because they say to NOT do so, will mean the DESTRUCTION of the ECONOMY they and their loved ones have built.   Its destruction would mean an equally awful END to all of us, death by a thousand cuts to their businesses, savings and 401Ks, instead of death by some silly, overblown medical condition. 

If it means sacrificing the oldest or sickest of the herd, so be it.  Those citizens should be proud to go down as human collateral damage in order for our society to live on and thrive as it always has.

Dowager energy in 2020

Given the rampant and ongoing polarization in these supposedly United States, and in the spirit of American grit and self-determination, the street would seem a good place to play out this issue that divides, though in their view clearly does NOT plague us, this holiday season.

We certainly don’t want to silence the Maskless, that would be un-American.  But nor do we want to discount the overwhelming majority opinion of professional medical advice and adhere to minority, fringe theory in order to get through god knows what else remains for the rest of this year.

I guess it’s good to be prepared

That would be like applying leeches to a bad bruise you received at a 21st century freedom march that is now suddenly festering with infection.

Therefore, rather than endure years of continued argument and litigation where both sides will get heard but no one will really listen, an immediate 21st century compromise is very much in order. 

And it is this:

Those who want to shelter in place in single, twos or fours during this holiday season should immediately do so and remain SILENT.  Eat turkeys or whatever else you choose with or without masks – in the privacy of your own homes.

Will do!

Of course, it’s unlikely the latter could happen under this plan.

Because given their history and acknowledging their predilection towards street fighting for absolute freedom at the absolute cost of anything that inconveniences their traditional ways of life as THEY know it, the Maskless shall henceforth be awarded their own designated section in every suburb, city and Town Square across the country for public and private assembly.

These areas will be walled off and offer unlimited free food, shelter and even lavish restrooms, during the Thanksgiving and, eventually Christmas 2020 Holidays.  There will be NO MASKS, NO SOCIAL DISTANCING and NO CHARGE for anything.  In fact, those outside the walls will shoulder the ENTIRE cost to keep THEM INSIDE and among themselves in a generous reach of across-the-aisle patriotism.

Ca Ching

There will be a limited but sufficient medical staff comprised of those health professionals who adhere to the same way of thinking as the Maskless.  And these people will have access to every medical treatment available to the rest of us WITH THE NOTABLE EXCEPTION OF ALL MEDICINES AND/OR EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO TREAT COVID-19.

These treatments will remain outside, on the other side of the wall, where the rest of the citizenry now live in constant, though perhaps irrational, fear supplies will run out in the coming winter months. 

Since the Maskless have NO such FEARS, or believe the virus causes nothing more than benign or medium range flu with the usual and very treatable symptoms that can concurrently be resolved with the said medicines available to them, this decision should not be controversial. 

Oh Chairy #nailedit

Thus, rather than be made to eat their words, the Maskless can instead eat their yams, their string beans and their sweet potato casseroles, in addition to their turkeys.  The can do so in peace, without the ranting and ravings from friends, relatives and other unknown or perhaps even illegal American citizens seeking to limit their rights.

In turn, those friends, relatives and unknown/illegal citizens, will  concurrently and finally be able to relax for their remaining  and likely dreaded weeks of 2020.  Crazy, hateful and freedom-hating as THEY… okay WE  – okay I –  might be – we will all also finally feel SAFE and SANE or the first time in almost, well, FOUR YEARS.

Keep Calm and Joe/Kamala on

And hopeful that the Maskless that are no longer among us will finally EAT THEMSELVES alive with the unlimited sides of ALL of the freedoms they feel they so richly deserve.

It’s their right and their choice.  Right???

The All-American Rejects – “Gives You Hell”

Robby and Me

So 31 years ago this month I spoke to a guy I didn’t know on an actual landline.  No, it wasn’t like that.  He was a friend of a friend who was new to town and he had the soft, sexy voice of a young Robby Benson.

For those who don’t know – Robby Benson was a big film and TV star in the seventies with great hair, impressive acting chops and endless boyish charm.  Extremely smart and fun loving with a talent for playing often troubled though never irredeemable characters.

NOT ROB LOWE. #better

Anyway, I agreed to take Robby’s voice to a party because It/He didn’t know many people in town and when he came to my door I was taken aback.  He not only looked a little like Robby, by way of Italian heritage, but was smart, fun-loving and far LESS TROUBLED than any of the people he played.

This was Robby as you wanted him to be.   Or so I thought.  And it turns out I was right.  That night turned into that morning and more than three decades later here we are, his voice still intact and my crush now my husband.

and they lived happily ever after #AWWWWWW

It is important to remember Robby my husband and I met in 1987 in the height of the AIDS crisis.  The idea of finding a person with whom you could survive with 31 years later seemed…well, no one was thinking that far ahead.  About a week or two was all you could manage, and even that was pushing it.

We were ending the horrible Reagan years where gay people were branded nationally as diseased sinners whom the public at large needed to be protected from.   It wouldn’t get too much better in the four years of George H.W. Bush, though one of my favorite political moments of that time was when a former boyfriend gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention nominating Bill Clinton that chastised Bush, Sr. for willfully ignoring so many of the sick (nee gay) members of his (Note: Bush, Sr.’s that is) American family.

That boyfriend is long dead but his words linger in my mind.  I think of him and so many others often, though not in tragic terms.  I wonder – what would they make of Ellen coming out nationally?  Will and Grace and the return of Will and Grace 15 years later?  Could they have imagined RuPaul would not only have a high-rated show but win an Emmy and spawn a nationwide trend towards EVERYONE workin’ it 24/7 by simply being your true self?

Preach Ru

This is to say nothing about gay marriage in the age of Grindr, gay parenting, #ItsGetsBetter, gays in the military and, well, pretty much gay everything, anything and in any way possible if you so choose.

Exhibit A  #heyantoni

That does not mean there are now zero consequences from family members, neighbors and the world at large for one’s choices.  But pretty much every choice we make has consequences.

The fact that there is even this much of a level playing field felt like a quaint pipe dream in 1987.   Kind of like your parents saying you were not even a twinkle in your mother’s eye five years before you were born.  (Note:  Okay, maybe my family were the only ones who spoke this way but nevertheless the star metaphor feels apt).

It is in this context that I tuned in NBC’s The Voice this past week and saw a gay male couple in their 30s – one African American, the other lily White but both super hot – talk about meeting, singing together, falling in love and forming their own singing group.

They then discussed their parents and siblings, families who were finally face to face for the first time at this about-to-be televised audition.  Amidst all this we were also told they had an upbringing steeped in the church, information that would have been the whole point of their appearance even a decade or two before.  Assuming, that is, they would have even been let on TV as their true selves, which they wouldn’t have been.

Never mind that I thought their musical act was kind of corny, albeit sweet – sort of Up With People trying to mix with vintage Temptations music.   What was being broadcast here was in PRIME-TIME NETWORK TELEVISION.  More than their music, their story had reduced their four heterosexual vocal coaches/International music stars to sighs of admiration and tears.

YES IT IS LISA #exceptyourlips #help

It was also pre-determined by a corporately held network, owned by a conglomerate, that this would similarly tug at the heart strings of America’s heartland. Why else make them the lead off act in the 8:00pm family friendly time block?

Heck, I wondered, what does my sometimes still stuck in the eighties self make of that?  What would any of my friends, particularly the musical ones and specifically those who were long gone, make of it?

Answer – most of us around these days don’t think of it much at all.  Those not around couldn’t think of it as real.  At least that’s what I and my husband concluded.

None of this is a reason to pat ourselves on our collective backs and break out in cheers as a nativist movement sweeps the country and the world, imperiling minorities everywhere and even thumbing its nose at some MAJORITIES, nee WOMEN.

OK OK Stay with me!

It is only to say, sometimes one has to look at where they came from as well as from where they started in order to gain perspective and energy about where they are now and in what way they are to proceed.

This year there are dozens and dozens and dozens of LGBTQ-themed films already or about to be released.  Click here for a list

Sure, we are still a niche audience but so is pretty much EVERY audience these days.  In 2018, it’s all about niche music, niche TV, niche radio, niche….don’t get me started.  So much to catch up on, so, so little time.

I’m sorry Sarah.. there is literally no time #AHSApocalypse #netflixIguess

But ultimately it’s more about subject matter and the lens within that niche.  In the seventies and eighties it was acceptable for straight male characters to make “fag” jokes without retribution.  The notable major LGBTQ crossover releases in 1987 were Maurice and Prick up Your Ears – two period pieces about a time when gay meant sick and in the shadows, and lesbian love or BTQ existence were barely an onscreen flicker.

It would be five years before Neil Jordan pulled off an international gender hat trick in The Crying Game.  This was 23 years before TLC aired its first episode of a reality show focusing on a transgender teenager, I Am Jazz.

We’ve learned that the point is the lens from which something is viewed.  We are offered the travails of a white suburban gay kid coming out in films like Alex Strangelove and Love, Simon (Note: L-O-V-E) and the oppressiveness but ultimately unapologetic victories young gay protagonists can have when their parents try to convert them to straight in movies such as The Miseducation of Cameron Post and the upcoming Boy Erased, all of them 2018 releases.

YAS. YAS. YAS

This doesn’t erase the tragic last days of Oscar Wilde in Rupert Everett’s The Happy Prince, now out at theatres.  As its star, writer and director, Mr. Everett effectively reminds us that this literary giant served TWO YEARS hard labor for engaging in gay sex (aka sodomy) with the man he loved at the turn of the century and was damaged beyond repair, not to mention shunned by society, in the few years he had left after he got out.

Yet in 2018, it’s an openly gay artist telling the story about an iconic gay artist from the past to a world that in the great majority, at least in the U.S., are on HIS side.   If that weren’t the case, you can bet Sony Pictures would have NEVER picked up the film for distribution.   

We’re not exactly to Avengers level, but good on them.

Nor would a gay Black man co-write the screenplay to his own autobiographical story, Moonlight, and then watch his story become 2016’s surprise best picture Oscar winner.

So as we all deal with the Trump America of it all, the international Nativism that could be our ultimate destructions, not to mention the latest U.N. report on climate change and the tragedy of global warming that threatens the extinction of the human species, it’s nice to remember history, progress, regression, revolution, resistance and more progress is our legacy.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions, dear.

History can turn on a dime, either way, and many of us have lived through periods where all fights seemed in vain and the best we hoped for was simply getting through.

What we didn’t know was that the future could be brighter than we imagined, BLINDING so DAZZLINGLY as to be rendered un-seeable, with only inevitable dollops of dark.

And that dream Robby Benson can appear at your doorstep just when you thought there was never a chance.

If this last thought seems too LGBTQ Hallmark, check out what one member of our new generation just unabashedly posted on his YouTube Channel.  Colin O’Leary you are 2018 Robby – reincarnated.