Ash Beckham’s Lesson for us all:
I have long believed that the world would be a better place if, in order to get your drivers’ license, say, or some other equally critical coming-of-age milestone, everyone had to work as wait staff in a restaurant for 6 months. Many, many lessons come from that. So it should not be so surprising that a profound and widely applicable lesson in how to have ANY hard conversation would come from – well, actually, an activist who also waits tables. I bet this TED talk will be the most worth-it 11 minutes you spend today, except hugging someone you love. May I suggest you do both, simultaneously.
To Ann Falchuk.
Parents have to come out too.
It’s supposed to be about the kid, and our job is to give the best support and guidance we can. Coming out is usually a process that takes kids some time to get their own heads and hearts around. No surprise that it might take parents some time too. But there is no law of physics that synchronizes these schedules. Kids might be lucky enough to have Gay-Straight Alliance chapters or designated Safe Spaces at school, but what about affinity groups for parents?
Ann Falchuk writes beautifully about this on Keshet’s blog:
RIP, Lou Reed. His passing last week has me mulling (and humming) “Walk on the Wild Side.” Despite not-very-hidden references to oral sex, male prostitution, drug use, drag queens, and “colored girls” (not PC even then) it was his most commercially successful song. The doubled bass line, at once solid and subversive like a low-grade infection for your brain, gets some of the credit. Ditto for the chorus, a pop trope upended: here the song’s hook and chorus pride-of-place are given to a doo-wop style backup trio. Yet that’s what everybody sings along to: doot, doo-doot doo-doot….
It was 1972: Watergate, revelations about unethical syphilis research on black men at Tuskeegee Institute, 17 killed at the Munich Olympics, Christmas bombing of North Viet Nam and other events made for a bleak and cynical cultural backdrop. “Wild Side’s” stories appear to fit this emotional ecology. And yet, Reed’s matter-of-fact near-chant and the soothing chorus seem to make the characters normal, somehow approachable, survivors in a complicated city. Their offer to the rest of us almost sounds safe – it’s just a walk, a temporary adventure.
The song made it past censors of the day, which is usually explained by the idea that the term “giving head” was not widely recognized. I find it more likely that fascination with Andy Warhol’s Factory and its denizens lent equal parts gloss and voyeuristic thrill to the lives of the people of these verses. Are these real people, with the song their documentary? Or are some of the illusion layers part of the reality? Little Joe’s verse describes the character played by the actor Joe Dallesandro in Warhol and Morrissey’s Flesh, according to Dallesandro’s official website. Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling performed as drag queens, worked at the Factory in drag and both took female hormones but eschewed surgery. Jackie Curtis, an actor who performed both male and female roles, did die of a heroin overdose.
Are their lives wild? Sad? Artistic? Lonely? Or, finally, still hidden behind the makeup, sequins , bravado, and doo-wop chorus? The closing saxophone solo finishes with a sweet-tart taste; there might be beauty in their lives, but we still don’t really know Holly, Candy, Little Joe, the Sugar Plum Fairy, or Jackie and it’s probably our loss.
Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.
— Laurie Anderson
quoted in East Hampton Star
National Coming Out Day (a whole week in some places) is 25 years old!
And the stories are still fresh. Check the <a href=”http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/11/national-coming-out-day-stories-gay-pride/”>Guardian</a>
L’shanah tovah (happy New Year) to Keshet, a grassroots organization working for the the full inclusion of LGBT people in Jewish life. Why should your spiritual life be separate from the other parts of your life, including gender and sexuality? And best wishes to Idit Klein, Executive Director, in her sabbatical time (she returns next month).
Check it out here: