Philosophical Epigrams

What follows is a list of my personal beliefs and special guidelines to life.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” leaves everyone blind and
toothless.
There are no accidents.
Everything happens for a reason.
People are the way they are for a reason.
There is nothing new under the sun.
There’s no place like home.
Home is where the heart is.
We make our own Heaven and Hell right here on earth.
Judge not lest ye be judged.
They who is without any sin may cast the first stone.
Forgive us our trespasses.
I can forgive even if I don’t forget.
To err is human, to forgive, divine.
To go together is blessed, to come together, divine.
Nobody’s perfect.
There is some good in everybody.
You cannot please everybody.
I don’t put anything past anybody.
I am not one to gossip, but…
I tend to confirm gossip and hearsay by going right to the source.
There are at least two sides to every story.
People believe what they want to believe.
Just because you yourself don’t believe something, it doesn’t mean
that it’s not true.
People will believe a lie more readily than they will the truth.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.
Honesty is the best policy (ideally).
To thine own self be true.
And the truth shall set you free.
Truth needs no justification.
I calls ’em as I sees ’em.
People will get away with only what you let them get away with.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Don’t try to bullshit another bullshitter.
It takes two to tango.
You’ve got to have a gimmick.
Misery loves company.
Your temper is one thing you can’t get rid of by losing it.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
I’ll try most anything at least once, except marriage and
heroin.
Assume nothing (to assume makes an ass out of you and me).
Nothing is forever.
Nothing is sacred.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Respect yourself.
Get over yourself.
Tempus fugit.
Chacun à son goût.
Que será será.
Live and let live.
The meaning of life: Don’t just sit there–do something!
If you don’t like your life, change it.
Variety is the spice of life.
Laughter is the shock-absorber of life.
Life imitates art and vice versa.
Life goes on.
Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die.
Life is what you make it.
Life is too short.
Life is a cabaret (old chum).
Work is what you do for others; art is what you do for yourself.
You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.
Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?
Everything in moderation.
The love of money is the root of most evil.
It’s always about money.
Take the money and run.
Love is blind (and deaf, in some cases).
Love conquers all.
It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.
Friendship is the foundation of any lasting relationship.
Trust is a two-way street.
You can be betrayed only by someone you trust.
Those who can, do; those who can’t, criticize.
Always be thankful for what you have instead of complaining about
what you don’t have.
You’ve got to do with what you got.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
I ain’t got no shame (doin’ what I like to do).
The more, the merrier (within reason).
So many men, too little time.
Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.
Reality is only a state of mind.
Age and maturity are states of mind.
Age is merely a number.
Age matters only if you are a cheese.
Aging is not a curse but a privilege.
You shouldn’t underestimate old people; we didn’t get to be old by being stupid.
I try to say what I mean and mean what I say.
I always put things back where I find them.
What goes around, comes around.
Ignorance is bliss.
You are what you eat.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There is a thin line between pleasure and pain.
If you want something done your way, do it yourself.
When there is a will, there is a way.
Sleeping is a waste of time.
Every goodbye ain’t gone; every shuteye ain’t sleep; every lie-still ain’t dead.
Every litter bit hurts.
There is a sucker born every minute.
Be careful what you wish for, because you may get it.
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can do
permanent damage.
There is always a choice.
The only thing that we have to do is die.
You cannot get away from yourself, because no matter where
you go, there you are!
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Black don’t crack.
All the world’s a stage, and we all are merely actors.
Play the scene.
The early bird may get the worm, but it’s the second mouse
that gets the cheese.
If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.
The higher a monkey climbs, the more of his ass is revealed.
One monkey don’t stop the show.
No one is indispensable.
Next!

[Related article: Likes and Dislikes]

Likes and Dislikes

# These are a few of my favorite things. #

Acrobatics and gymnastics, as a spectator

All-time favorite films: Auntie Mame, Ben-Hur, La Cage aux Folles, Caged, Ghost, The Green Pastures, High Anxiety, Hollywood Shuffle, Imitation of Life (remake), Inherit the Wind, The King and I, The Lords of Discipline, Murder by Death, My Cousin Vinny, Night of the Living Dead (original), The Odd Couple, The Out-of-Towners? (original), Same Time Next Year, Silver Streak, Sister Act, Some Like It Hot, The Ten Commandments, Theatre of Blood, 12 Angry Men (original), Wait Until Dark, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, What’s Up Doc?, Witness for the Prosecution, The Wizard of Oz, The World According to Garp

Bitchfights

Books, bookstores and libraries

Bridges

Cinematic train wrecks

Eating and food

The Empire State Building

Favorite acappella groups (other than those I have been involved with myself): The Bobs, Chanticleer and The King’s Singers

Favorite female actors: Jennifer Anniston, Lucille Ball, Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Loretta Devine, Edith Evans, Anna Faris, Whoopi Goldberg, Julie Hagerty, Goldie Hawn, Eileen Heckert, Allison Janney, Madeline Kahn, Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury, Queen Latifah, Cloris Leachman, Jenifer Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, Hayley Mills, Mary Tyler Moore, Niecy Nash, Edna May Oliver, Geraldine Page, Rosalind Russell, Margaret Rutherford, Susan Sarandon, Madge Sinclair, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Emma Thompson, Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Shelley Winters

Favorite male actors: Matthew Broderick, Michael Caine, Steve Carrell, Jim Carrey, Robert DeNiro, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr., Peter Falk, Colin Firth, Michael J. Fox, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, Jonah Hill, Dustin Hoffman, John Hurt, Leslie Jordan, Christopher Lee, Jack Lemmon, Thomas Lennon, Steve Martin, Roddy McDowall, Eddie Murphy, Carroll O’Connor, Al Pacino, Tyler Perry, Sidney Poitier, Vincent Price, Richard Pryor, Eric Roberts, Adam Sandler, George Segal, William Shatner, Kevin Spacey, James Spader, James Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christoph Waltz, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams

Favorite adventure film series: The Indiana Jones Tetralogy

Favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber work: Tell Me on a Sunday

Favorite animals: chimpanzees, dolphins, felines, most baby animals

Favorite authors and novels of theirs: Dan Brown (Angels & Demons), Stephen King (The Stand), Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City series), Thomas Tryon (Harvest Home)

Favorite automobile: Ford Mustang

Favorite card games: Hearts and Spades

Favorite cartoonists: Gary Larsen and Don Martin

Favorite character names: Cruella DeVil, Elmer Fudd, Motel Kamzoil, Foghorn Leghorn, Scrooge McDuck, Strangé, Truly Scrumptious, Pootie Tang

Favorite choral works: Beethoven Ninth Symphony “Ode to Joy” Finale, Bernstein Mass, Handel Messiah

Favorite colors: black, green and purple

Favorite conductors: Ernest Ansermet, Robert Shaw, Arturo Toscanini

Favorite film producers: William Castle and Tyler Perry

Favorite flavors: coconut, garlic, lemon, mint, pepper

Favorite foods: cheese, deviled eggs, pasta, pizza, pork, potatoes, poultry, salads, soups, veggies

Favorite game shows: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Duel, Hollywood Game Night, Jeopardy!, The Million Dollar Money Drop, 1 Vs. 100, Password, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (of course!)

Favorite Italian opera composer: Joe Green (aka Giuseppe Verdi)

Favorite lyricists: Oscar Hammerstein II, Tom Lehrer, Stephen Sondheim

Favorite movie directors: Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Alfred Hitchcock, Mike Nichols, Frank Oz, Carl Reiner, Steven Spielberg, Billy Wilder

Favorite non-rhyming inspirational poem: Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Favorite opera divas: Marilyn Horne and Leontyne Price

Favorite operas: Aida, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Carmen, Porgy and Bess

Favorite operatic arias: “E Lucevan le Stelle,” “Glitter and Be Gay” and “Nessun Dorma”

Favorite people: actors, babies, men(!)

Favorite plays: The Boys in the Band and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Favorite playwright: Neil Simon

Favorite poet: Ogden Nash

Favorite reality-based TV shows: America’s Got Talent, Big Brother, Inside the Actors Studio, Penn and Teller: Fool Us, RuPaul’s Drag Race

Favorite real person’s names: Fletcher Surratt, Ciro Tesoro, Tonda Tiedge

Favorite snacks and guilty pleasures: cake, egg nog, ice cream, marshmallows, pie, popcorn, potato chips

Favorite sisters: Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad

Favorite standup comics (still living): Margaret Cho, Ellen Degeneres, Alec Mapa, Trevor Noah

Favorite Stephen Sondheim musical: Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Favorite tenors: Mario Lanza and Karen Carpenter

Favorite TV characters: Archie Bunker, Lt. Columbo, Sheldon Cooper, Genevieve Delatour, Fran Fine, Jessica Fletcher, Lorelei Gilmore, Scott Guber, Maxine Gray, Thelma Harper, Sue Heck, Florence Johnston, Adrian Monk, Bonnie Plunkett, Lucy Ricardo, Alan Shore, Wilhemina Slater, Suzanne Sugarbaker, Douglas Wambaugh

Favorite TV dramatic series: American Horror Story–Freak Show, Any Day Now, Army Wives, Boston Legal, Boston Public, Breaking Bad, Bull, Castle, Charmed (the original), Chicago Fire, Chicago Hope, Chicago Med, City of Angels, The Closer/Major Crimes, Columbo, Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Diagnosis Murder, Drop Dead Diva, Father Dowling Mysteries, Feed the Beast, Forever, For the People, The Fosters, Franklin and Bash, Gilmore Girls, Glee, God Friended Me, The Good Doctor, The Good Wife, Greenleaf, Grimm, The Haves and the Have Nots, House, Judging Amy, L.A. Law, Lethal Weapon, Lincoln Heights, Matlock, Medium, The Mentalist, Monk, Murder She Wrote, Murdoch Mysteries (aka The Artful Detective), 9-1-1, Nip/Tuck, Northern Exposure, Orange Is the New Black, The Orville, Oz, Picket Fences, The Practice, Proven Innocent, Rescue Me, The Resident, Rizzoli and Isles, The Rookie, Royal Pains, Scorpion, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Scandal, Smash, Suits, Switched at Birth, This Is Us

Favorite TV producers: Marc Cherry, David E. Kelley, Norman Lear, Ryan Murphy

Favorite TV sitcoms: All in the Family, Ally McBeal, American Housewife, The Big Bang Theory, ‘black-ish,’ The Carmichael Show, The Cool Kids, Designing Women, The Exes, The Goldbergs, The Golden Girls, Happily Divorced, Hot in Cleveland, I Love Lucy, Impastor, The Jeffersons, Malcolm in the Middle, Mama’s Family, The Middle, Mom, The Nanny, The Neighborhood, The Neighbors, The New Normal, The (New) Odd Couple, Psych, Raising Hope, Roseanne, Schooled, Sirens, 227. Ugly Betty, Young Sheldon

Fresh chlorinated water for swimming in

Games and puzzles, especially word games (particularly cryptic crosswords)

Ghost stories

Grocery shopping

Magic acts and illusions

Making lists (Hello?!)

Most-talented artist, in my opinion: Noel Coward–he was an actor, dancer, singer, songwriter/composer, playwright, director and humorist.

Movies and television

Music in all its aspects–performing, composing, arranging, sequencing

My three greatest inspirations and admirations: Michael Callen, Nelson Mandela and Elizabeth Taylor

The number five

Parties and social gatherings

Peeling things

Poetry that rhymes

Producing and compiling thematic audiotapes and compact disks

Records (listening, playing, shopping and collecting)

Riding my bicycle

Rollercoasters

Satisfying an itch

The sex act

Smells that I love: bacon cooking, coriander

Solitude

The Statue of Liberty

Taking pictures

Visiting houses of worship

Walking

Warm and hot weather

Wearing caps

Words

Writing/typing

****************************************************************
# On the list of the things that I will not miss… #

Alcoholics
Bigotry
Chain letters
Deceit and dishonesty
Extremely cold weather
The filth on New York City streets
Firearms of any kind
Gin
Hypocrisy
Injustice
Loud, obnoxious or incredibly stupid people
Megalomanic law enforcement officers
Perpetual inflation
Politicians, especially those in higher positions
Religious fanatics
Saltwater for swimming in
Smells that I dislike: cigarette smoke, garbage truck, shit, stale piss
Spectator sports
Strenuous exercise
Vandalism and destruction of public property
Waiting in lines
War
Wasting things

[Related article: Philosophical Epigrams]

Let’s Have an Outing

# Come out, come out, wherever you are… #
# I’m coming out; I want the world to know… #

In addition to yearly pride celebrations, the first March on Washington for gay civil rights was held on October 10 and 11, 1987. So for a number of years now, October 11 has been designated as National Coming Out Day, and I think that’s a good thing. I wish that every gay person in the world would just come on out. For this reason I am a firm advocate of outing, voluntary or forced, if need be. I believe that there is strength in numbers, and until mainstream society is ultimately bombarded with the overwhelmingly vast number of queers there are, we will never receive the proper respect and recognition that we deserve.

I have a T-shirt that reads, “One percent? Did anyone check the closets?” I have never accepted that conservative belief by some that only one percent of the population is homosexual. Come on, I probably know more than that myself! And how can they ever ascertain a true census when so many closet cases simply refuse to admit it about themselves? So, of course, the percentage is always going to be unrealistically low. But suppose we do consider even one percent of the world’s population? As of June 2019 the population of the world has reached 7.710 billion, and one percent of that is 77,102,426. That’s still a lot of faggots and dykes by anybody’s standards! It is certainly enough to merit some recognition and to lend some attention to our basic human rights. Interest groups of much smaller numbers have demanded social consideration.

And I would make a wager that the number of gay people in the world well exceeds that number. If you hear anyone nowadays say that they don’t know any homosexuals, they must be really out of it or just in major denial. How could that be, when we are everywhere? Of course, they know some! They just probably don’t want to know that they do. That’s like saying that every gay person in the world has no family, friends or any social acquaintances whatsoever. You can’t possibly get away from us. And since we are not going away, those who don’t want us around?…well, that’s just tough!

Did you ever stop to think about what the world would be like if there were no gays or if none had ever existed? It certainly would be devoid of many wonderful and beautiful things. I defy anyone to think back through the history of the world, at any specified period of time, and not encounter some significant contribution to our lives, especially to our cultural heritage, that a homosexual person was responsible for. I’m sure that everyone has a favorite author, artist, performer, athlete, teacher, inventor, innovator, some hero or role model, somebody in your life that you greatly admire and respect, that was or is gay, whether you may be aware of it or not. Let me cite some random examples of historical and current homosexual influence on our civilization.

For instance, there was a very popular 18th-century song called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” the tune of which later became our American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The subject of the song, Anacreon, was a prominent Greek poet, who was gay. Due to the difficult singability of the song, there have been many attempts to convince Congress to seek a new national anthem, but to no avail so far. I’ll bet we could speed up the movement if they knew that the tune’s origins is about some foreign fag who used to diddle little boys!

I even take issue with the lyrical content of the song. It’s a song that glorifies war and aggression. “…through the perilous fight… / …and the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air…“ Is that what and all this country is about?  There is a third stanza of the Francis Scott Key poem, which is never used, thankfully, that alludes to freed slaves, who as British soldiers, were put on the front lines as the first to be sacrificed in battle.

“America the Beautiful” would be my choice for our national anthem. It honors the positive, aesthetic qualities of the land. The song is about the country itself, and it has a lovely, singable melody. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a flag song. I think that national anthems should be about the specific country, not about some stupid flag! We could even keep it gay, because the words to “America the Beautiful” were written by Katherine Lee Bates, a sapphist!

Tutankhamen’s predecessor, Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten (who ruled from about 1375 to about 1358 B.C.), introduced the concept of internationalism to the ancient world. He also challenged centuries-old traditions and beliefs by introducing monotheism, the idea of a single, omnipotent God, rather than a whole bunch of lesser gods, as had been believed up until then. In doing so, he greatly antagonized the powerful priesthood, but set the groundwork for modern religions. The fact that Akhenaten was gay—he even had a lover (they were the first documented male couple in history)—did not seem to bother his contemporaries. He and his lover were assassinated because of their religious views.

While we are on the subject of religion… Who has had a bigger influence on the world at large than Jesus Christ? In my prior treatise about him, I suggest that he was probably gay. Without going through it all again here, you should read that particular blog (Jesus H. Christ!) for the specific details. But Jesus and his Disciples were not the only alleged homosexuals in the Bible. Just as famous and well-respected was their Old Testament soul brother David, who was a shepherd, warrior, musician, poet, popular king of Israel, and purported author of the famous, oft-recited and sung “23rd Psalm: The Lord Is My Shepherd,” among many others. Even though David was married more than once and had several children, he also had a torrid love affair with King Saul’s beautiful son Jonathan. In 1st Samuel David admits that he loves Jonathan “as he loved his own soul,” and later David tells Jonathan directly, “Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

Ruth, too, seemed to have had a special affection towards her mother-in-law, Naomi, which went beyond mere family devotion. “I will never leave you. Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge with you.” Someone might tell me, “Oh, that’s not what any of that means.“ How do you know? Maybe that’s exactly what it means! Anyhow, I can interpret Biblical passages any way I choose to, just as everyone else does.

What gets me are the clueless, uneducated ignoramuses in this country alone who don’t know any history or much of anything else, but always have so much to say about and criticize things that they know nothing about. I hate it when somebody tells someone, “In the Bible, God says that homosexuality is wrong.” First of all, God didn’t say anything, and “He” didn’t write the Bible. People did!  And second, where can I find those words quoted exactly?  They often are unable to cite where they are getting this information.  It’s probably just something that they have been told, and they are too stupid or too lazy to do their own research in order to validate such hearsay.

They think, too, that gays in the military is some new thing that just cropped up in the last few years, and something that just should not be, not knowing that there have always been gay soldiers somewhere in the world.  For those who just cannot imagine a military unit with faggots in it, as far back as the 4th century B.C. there was the Sacred Band of Thebes, which was composed entirely of 150 pairs of gay lovers who had taken a vow to stand or fall together.  They were unbeaten in battle for many years but were eventually defeated in 338 B.C. by Philip II of Macedon, who was the father of Alexander the Great (another queen).  You see, there is nothing new in this world.  So gay people are not allowed to serve in the military, huh? Then why at the end of World War II, for example, were there over 9,000 homosexuals discharged from the armed forces?  And these are just the ones that they found out about.  So, all you opinionated blowhards, know some history or at least something about your subject before you go spouting off your mouth about it.

I contend that gay people are everywhere, and not even the nation’s capital, including the White House, is exempt. We have heard about same-sex dalliances on Capitol Hill among Congressmen, Senators and their pages, but certain historians have delved into the personal lives of our U.S. Presidents as well, specifically trying to discover if any of them could possibly have been gay. Well, what do you think they found? Several likely candidates: the bachelor James Buchanan (but I always suspected him anyway), James Garfield, and even Abraham Lincoln!

But the biggest discovery is none other than George Washington! Yes, Virginia, it seems that the Father of Our Country was a queen! Some of the dirt that has been dug up on ol’ George was that his marriage to Martha was just a pretense. You know how that goes. They were friends, she was rich, and he needed a “beard,” okay? Well, she didn’t have any children by him, did she? A beard, incidentally, is a virility symbol—whereby it’s a woman who dates or even marries a gay man to help him socially and/or to prevent suspicion of his being gay. There are many of your “bearded ladies” in Hollywood, for example. One revealing tabloid headline once read, “Tom Cruise Shaves His Beard!” when said actor announced his divorce from Nicole Kidman.  Get it?

George “Dubya” (the First) loved men in uniform, and playing soldier was his favorite hobby and pastime. In 1759 he recognized his own gay heritage by purchasing for his collection, busts of six famous generals, all gay: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar (who was purportedly hailed in the streets of Rome with the cries of “Regina! Regina!”), Charles XII of Sweden, Frederick the Great of Prussia, Prince Eugene of Savoy and the Duke of Marlborough (ancestor of Winston Churchill, who also was gay, by the way). So here is another indication that “Gays in the Military” is not some new thing.

There is documented evidence that Georgie had a longtime love affair with Alexander Hamilton, who was 24 years his junior.  They were best buddies and spent much of their time together.  Alex even served as George’s personal secretary and aide-de-camp.  (Yeah, I’ll just bet they used to “camp” together!)  There exist love letters that they wrote to each other, and they were known to have passionate lovers’ spats in public.  I have not seen the Broadway show Hamilton, and I wonder if this affair is at all alluded to. George also had a thing for the Marquis de Lafayette.  It sort of gives the notion “Washington slept here” a new perspective, doesn’t it?

Where can you go in this country and not encounter the name or image of Washington somewhere? It is the most popular place name in America—with a state, 27 counties and 34 towns, including the capital, as well as a number of bridges, monuments, statues, schools, public parks and thoroughfares. But have you ever noticed that the family surname of Washington, at least in this country, is used exclusively by black people? Ironically, every Washington that I have encountered in life, even TV characters, are black. Have you ever met a white person named Washington? Since George never had any children of his own, these subsequent Washingtons must be descendents of the slaves that he owned, who took his name as their own.  You did know that our dear George was a major slaveowner, didn’t you?

Incidentally, the U.S. Senator from Alabama, William Rufus DeVane King, referred to as the First Lady “Miss Nancy,” was the best friend and purported lover of President James Buchanan. Don’t think that all of our real First Ladies are off the hook either. There is documented proof that Eleanor Roosevelt, for one, was a sapphist, with a girlfriend and everything! The tabloids ran articles a few years ago exposing Hillary Rodham Clinton and her sapphist lovers! No wonder she was so forgiving of Bill’s extramarital indiscretions. If the stories are true, she was off doing her own thing, too.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ own father, John Vernou Bouvier III, was openly gay. One of his many lovers was songwriter Cole Porter. Chester Arthur’s grandson, Gavin Arthur, was notoriously gay. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, is a sapphist.  Another famous dyke, whose image actually made it onto an American coin, is feminist, suffragette and abolitionist Susan B. Anthony, who is also one of only three women honored on a statue in the Capitol building’s rotunda.

Anyone who lives in or has visited the southern African country of Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, or is or knows anyone who has been the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship (and that includes our very own former President Bill Clinton, for one) should be aware that namesake British statesman and empire builder Cecil Rhodes [1853-1902] is the homosexual responsible for their assisted education.  And the next time you are at the doctor’s or in the hospital, keep in mind that sapphist Florence Nightingale, the founder of trained nursing and advocate of hospital reform, is indirectly responsible for the care that you now receive.

To the homophobic Jews, they may owe their very survival to a faggot.  Alan Turing [1912-1954] was a British mathematician who played an instrumental role in the defeat of Adolf Hitler.  While working for British Intelligence in 1942, he succeeded in cracking the German secret code that allowed the Allies to gain access to Hitler’s most secret communications, thus subsequently bringing the War to a close.  His story is depicted in Breaking the Code (1996) with Derek Jacobi portraying Turing and the more recent The Imitation Game (2014) with Benedict Cumberbatch.  Turing also invented the digital computer.  Look what a major influence that has made on the entire world of today!

By the way, there is also some historical speculation that Hitler himself was gay. You see, some homosexuals are indeed very unhappy people. Homophobic blacks, too, should appreciate the tremendous influence that gay political activist Bayard Rustin [1910-1987] had on the civil rights movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  He was an advisor and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and may be at least partly responsible for many of the freedoms and rights we Americans-of-color now enjoy.

How many millions of tourists have made pilgrimages to the Louvre over the years to view the “Mona Lisa” or to the Sistine Chapel to appreciate the paintings on the ceiling, as well as other great works of art as The Last Supper and the famous statue of David?  Well, Leonardo da Vinci, generally considered to be the greatest of universal geniuses and visionaries, and Michelangelo Buonarroti both were unabashed homosexuals.  Who, but a queen, would spend four years painting one room?  In the 1965 Hollywood film about Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy, there is, of course, no mention of his homosexuality.  They even gave him a romance with a woman.  The producers did not dare to suggest that such an artistic genius could possibly be gay.  Heavens forbid!  How could we enjoy the film or respect the subject matter knowing that?

At least, they wouldn’t come right out and say it. They did drop an ambiguous hint, though, that I, and I’m sure others in the know, certainly picked up on. Charlton Heston as Michelangelo has gone into hiding at one point in the film, and everybody is looking for him. When the Roman guards checks a local brothel, the madam there assures them, “You can search the whole world and you’ll never find Michelangelo in a place like this! Ha ha, imagine, Michelangelo here!” Of course, she could mean that Michelangelo, being such a pious, moral-minded zealot, would never hire the services of a female prostitute, but we know what she really means, don’t we? (Heh, heh, heh.) Perhaps they should have checked the local bathhouse!  Since it is more accepted nowadays, I expect that a new biopic about Michelangelo would freely explore his true sexuality.

Oh, and the next time you are on an airplane, or jump out of one, keep in mind that Leonardo was probably the first to experiment with aviation. That was 400 years before the Wright Brothers came along. He is also accredited with inventing the parachute, the helicopter, the automobile, the drawbridge, revolving stage, the piano, scissors, the telescope and contact lenses, for the vain, sight-impaired.  And your latter-day militaries would appreciate that Leonardo gave them machine guns and armored tanks to play with.  Plus, he is said to have served as Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, the secret society that is in charge of guarding the legendary Holy Grail.  If that weren’t all, Aristotle, Socrates and Zeno, 4th-century Greek philosophers who influenced universal thought of their day, all were gay!

Incidentally, Michelangelo is not the only gay character that Charlton Heston got to play in the movies. His Judah Ben-Hur (1959) also was secretly gay, but one has to read between the lines to discern that fact. In fact, the whole film is quite gay, if you examine it closely. The back story is that Judah and Messala had a romantic relationship during their youth, and when they are reunited years later, Messala wants to resume the relationship, but Judah flatly rejects him, which is why he becomes his bitter enemy. It is simply a case of a lover scorned. That whole thing about Messala wanting Judah to join his forces against the Jews is just an excuse for them to get back together. Gay author Gore Vidal, who wrote the screenplay, did confide this little inside intrigue to the director William Wyler and even to Stephen Boyd, who plays Messala, but they didn’t let Heston in on what was going on, fearing his reluctance or objection.

Notice that in the scene where the two see each other for the first time and embrace, Boyd has this expression of utter delight on his face. He is so glad to see his boyfriend again. When they both throw their spears at the crossbeams in the room, Messala says to Judah, “Still so close, “ and Judah replies, “In every way,“ to which Messala adds, “I hope so,“ as he lovingly fingers Judah’s arm!  A very subtle gesture, but I caught it.  Then when they toast, they lock their arms to drink.  Who does that besides those enamored of one another?  Messala even utters this non sequitur: “Is anything so sad as unrequited love?“ Say what? Maybe there were missed opportunities when they were young, but now as an adult, Messala is ready to act on his desires. And finally, after Messala is fatally wounded during the chariot race, whom does he summon to his dying bedside but Judah?  Whom would you want to see one last time before you die, someone you hate with a passion or someone that you love?

How about when Judah is sentenced to serve time on the galley ship, and on the way there he collapses from exhaustion and thirst?  He is given water by Jesus Christ (his face is never shown), who is stroking Judah’s hair and face and caressing him while he drinks.  When Judah looks up at Jesus, he has this look of loving admiration on his face, and he is still looking at his savior as he is being dragged away.  Judah attempts to return the favor later when Jesus is in a similar situation.

I even suspect that Judah and his captor on the galley ship have a thing for each other.  Of the 200 slaves on the ship, Quintus (Jack Hawkins) singles Judah out to speak to–he even summons Judah to his chambers one night to “talk.” And later, while all his fellow rowers are chained together, Quintus orders only Judah to be unshackled.  So when the ship is attacked and Quintus is thrown overboard, Judah dives in after him and saves his life, which prompts Quintus to free Judah and later adopt him as his son and heir.  You might say that Quintus is Judah’s “sugar daddy.”

When Judah returns home, he is more concerned about seeing Messala again than renewing a romance with Esther, the girl he left behind.  They barely embrace after having not seen each other for four years–they don’t even kiss.  Yeah, he’s gay.  It’s all there, people.  You just have to be observant, and having cinematic “gaydar” helps, too.

There are many subtle gay references in old films that go over some people’s heads. Let me cite a few more. Some characters use coded metaphors and innuendo to mask their true intentions. Like Laurence Olivier in Spartacus (1960) during the notorious bathing scene with his slave Tony Curtis. Sir Larry is trying to put the make on pretty-boy Tony and asks him if he prefers “oysters” or “snails” and admits that at times he himself likes to partake of both. “How about you, dear boy, do you fancy oysters and snails?”

Cowboys Montgomery Clift and John Ireland are comparing their guns in Red River (1948), trying to determine who has the more impressive one! “Let me see your gun.  Do you want to see mine?” Then they whip them out (of their holsters) and actually stroke them.  Hey, boys, stop that!  I think John wins, though.  It was rumored that Ireland did indeed have a fully-loaded “gun,” and little Monty Clift, not so much.  In a later scene, Ireland is with a group of other ranchers and when asked why he agreed to go on the cattle drive with them, he tells them, “Because [John Wayne] asked me to go, and besides, I have taken a liking to that gun of his.”  Oh, have you now!  A little less subtle is the scene in which Joanne Dru chides the spatting Monty and Duke Wayne with, “Stop fighting! You two know that you love each other.”  Well, she had their number at least, huh?

In Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (also 1948) John Dall and Farley Granger have just murdered their friend for kicks and are discussing the experience. It’s obvious, at least to me, that these two are lovers. “How did it feel when we did it? Was it as good for you?” Do you need reassurance, John? Are you that insecure? In Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers, the dykish housekeeper, is showing the new Mrs. DeWinter, played by Joan Fontaine, the room and belongings of her former mistress, whom it’s apparent that she still has a thing for. She has kept this dead woman’s lingerie and is shown lovingly caressing her panties and even sniffing the crotch!

Similarly, in The Uninvited (1944) the character of Cornelia Otis Skinner apparently had a sapphic relationship with a woman who is now a house-haunting ghost. “Miss Holloway” refers to “Mary” as her “darling” and relates the plans they had as a live-together couple before the woman died. She also talks often to the large portrait of her dead girlfriend that hangs on the wall of her office. But nobody alludes to their sapphism. “Oh, they were just good friends.”  Sure, they were.  Friends with benefits!

In Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Sal Mineo’s character has an obvious crush on costar James Dean. How about when Sal opens his school locker and instead of a picture of Betty Grable or Rita Hayworth, there is hanging a publicity headshot photo of Alan Ladd! Well, now! The signs are there, you just have to be astute enough to spot them. Check out Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet (book and/or 1995 film-documentary) for these and other instances of gay moviedom.

Not so subtle, and unenlightened children may not be aware, but Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (1939) is a blatant flamer!  Of course, the kids think he’s funny, and it’s true that during that period, nelly characters were used basically as comic relief.  Lahr’s mannerisms and even some of his lines are so gay.  He tells us right off the bat in his introductory song, # Life is sad, believe me, Missy, when you’re born to be a sissy, without the vim and verve… #  Well, now!  Then, # I’m afraid there’s no use denyin’, I’m just a dandy lion… # So you admit it.  Later he sings, # If I were King of the forest, not queen (oh, really?!), not duke, not prince / My regal robes of the forest would be satin (satin robes?), not cotton, not chintz. #  Chintz?!  How many straight men even know what chintz is?  And the Lion would have to know what it is in order not to want it, wouldn’t he?  Anyway, even as tacky as it is, I think that chintz would be right up his alley! # As I click my heels… #  Miss Thing, why are you even wearing heels?!  When Dorothy first meets the Scarecrow and is asking him which road to take, he tells her, “Well, some go this way, and some go that way, but then some go both ways.” They certainly do, don’t they?  The film is just loaded with camp!

There is apparently a Gay Revolution occurring in the entertainment industry, as popular magazines like Entertainment Weekly, People and Time have reported of late. The decade before last was even hailed as “The Gay ’90s,” as gay pop culture definitely infiltrated the mainstream. It seems that practically every new TV series since the 1996 Fall Season (at least the ones I’ve seen) features a gay character or includes some gay reference at some point in the show. At first they appeared to serve only as a token, because they were usually single. If gays have the reputation of being so promiscuous, why were they seldom shown having sex or with a lover or other gay people? We certainly get enough of men and women rolling around in bed together all the time. I guess the producers thought that one faggot in a situation was ideally quite enough, and we certainly didn’t want to see them making love!

Thankfully, there have been huge changes in that department. Now being gay seems to be no big deal. And they are all open and up front about it, too. They can volunteer the information that they are gay without any negative response from the other characters. The character, Steven Carrington on the original “Dynasty,” created a family scandal when he finally decided that he was gay and ended up with a live-in male lover. On the new reboot of the series Steven‘s being gay is nothing special. He is just another character who just happens to be gay.

The original “Roseanne” featured multiple gay characters on a regular basis, including a gay wedding. The short-lived “Courthouse” and “100 Centre Street” both had a sapphist relationship, where one of the women in each series was a judge! “The Tracey Ullmann Show,” whose regular character, Francesca, is a young woman who was raised by her gay father and his male lover. “It’s All Relative” and “Marry Me” also stars two married gay men with an engaged daughter.

One of the main characters in the hit series “Glee“ is a high school girl with two gay fathers. “Picket Fences” featured a gay couple on more than one occasion, and “Northern Exposure,” whose featured gay male couple also had a wedding in one of the episodes. The writers went so far as to name the town where the series is set (Cicely, Alaska) after a beloved sapphist who once lived there with her female lover. “Ellen” featured a married, gay male couple, and the sitcom’s star, Ellen DeGeneres herself created much controversy when her character came out on her show as well as for real! I think that it was a daring move, although it was no great surprise to me, as I always thought that she was a sapphist anyway. Way to go, Ellen!

Another series, “Felicity,” featured more than one gay character, including one season finale gay wedding. “Friends” also featured a sapphist wedding, which was officiated by homophobic former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s sapphist sister Candace! “Desperate Housewives” and “Modern Family” both feature married gay couples as major characters.

Also, we are learning that one does not have to be grown to realize their own gay identity. “The Secret Life of an American Teenager“ and “Ugly Betty“ both feature out and proud high school teenagers. Tween Justin on “Ugly Betty” was the youngest gay character on TV until the series “Back in the Game” came along, where there is a kid character younger than Justin. This boy must be 10-years-old, and from his demeanor and interests, it’s pretty obvious that the boy is a budding faggot. The sitcom “Champions” features an out and proud gay tween. “The Middle” has a gay teen, too, but the running joke on there was that he and his girl friend had not figured out that he’s queer until the final season of the series.

“Dawson’s Creek,” “Nashville” and “Will and Grace” have featured primetime kisses between two men. “Dante’s Cove,” “Queer As Folk,” “The L Word” and Logo’s (our very own gay network) “Bad Girls,” “Banana,” “Cucumber” and “Noah’s Arc” all feature gay main characters and explicit (although simulated) on-screen sex on a regular basis. Let’s have a sitcom (other than “Noah’s Arc”) on a major network, like “Friends,” where all the leading characters are gay. Gay people are funny, too. There would be much camping and cruising and even dating! Since both “Sisters” and “Girlfriends” are already taken, I thought of another punny title and premise. How about calling it “Friends of Dorothy”? “Dorothy” could be the resident fag hag of the group. Get it? Now watch somebody steal my idea. We queens have even jumped on the reality-TV bandwagon with the cable shows “Boy Meets Boy,” “Gay Weddings,” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and PBS ran a monthly, gay newsmagazine series called “In the Life,” on which I appeared several times with The Flirtations.

When someone is developing a TV series with a family setting, they have to decide how many children there are and which gender they shall be. I have noticed that in the case of two gay men with a child (“Tracey Ullmann,“ “It’s All Relative,” “Modern Family,” “Glee” and “Marry Me,” for examples), it’s always been a girl. As there are no accidents, what I think is the reason for that has to do with what ignorant, uninformed Americans think about gay men. When it comes to TV-watching sensibilities, the producers tend to want to appeal to the lowest denominator of viewers, apparently. With a girl there is not likely any impropriety going on, since they wouldn’t have any sexual interest in a female, and girls tend to relate more to their fathers, which is fine. A boy, on the other hand, would be subject to the two men’s constant molestation (you know that we all lust after little boys), and without a female, mother figure in the home and with the dads’ influence, the boy will probably grow up to be gay like them. Of course, we know that that’s all bullshit, but that’s how they think we all think.

But then gay producer-writer Ryan Murphy defied convention a few years ago to be the first and only one so far to make the child of the main characters of “The New Normal,” two married gay men, and provided by a surrogate, to be a boy. But then the show was promptly cancelled, so we never got to see how that played out. In the case of “Two and a Half Men,” their casting a boy instead of a girl is okay, because the two male parents are not gay, therefore no purported sexual threat to the child. And we all know that straight men never molest children, right?

A “character du jour” that has cropped up on TV nowadays is the transsexual. As long as thirty years ago much of mainstream America were probably unaware that these people even existed, let alone to be featured as prominent characters on their favorite TV shows. Since Olympia Dukakis starred as transgendered Anna Madrigal in “Tales of the City” in 1993 (and its sequels), other trannies have turned up on “All My Children,” “Ally McBeal,” “Becoming Us,” “Big Shots,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “The Fosters,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Pose,” “Transparent” and “Ugly Betty,” to name some. Theatrical films, too, have been featuring transsexual characters now more than ever before. Although real women are usually cast to play these characters (at least the man-to-woman variety), there are a couple of instances where they are played by real transgendered actors, like Candace Cayne and Laverne Cox. Even the reality show, “Big Brother,” included its first transgendered houseguest/contestant two seasons ago. She didn’t keep it a secret either, but was open and forthcoming about it.

The daytime serial “Passions” came up with an absurd storyline featuring a vengeful, blackmailing, incestuous, split-personality, intersexual serial killer! Valerie/Vincent also knowingly had sex with his/her own father, became pregnant and had a baby by him!  Can they stop?!  (“She’s my sister and my daughter!”)  Slap that bitch…again.  She deserves it.

Mike Brady, the partriarch of the ever-popular, syndicated sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” was played by Robert Reed, who was gay. And we mustn’t forget the Bradys’ housekeeper, Alice, played by Ann B. Davis, Nancy Kulp from “The Beverly Hillbillies” and Sheila James Kuehl from “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” Sherman Hemsley of “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” was gay, as well as Damon Evans who played his son, Lionel. Dick Sargent of “Bewitched” was gay and even came out publicly a few years before he died. Richard Chamberlain, of “Dr. Kildare,” Shogun and The Thorn Birds fame, finally came out publicly himself a few years ago. The late Raymond Burr, who is associated with portraying, perhaps, the most famous defense lawyer of all time, Perry Mason, was also gay, as well as Grandpa Will Geer of “The Waltons.” Incidentally, Geer was at one time the lover of gay political activist and founder of the Mattachine Society, Harry Hay.

Two of the most popular, long-running TV game shows, “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” (since 1964 and 1975 respectively), were created by multi-millionaire mogul and homosexual Merv Griffin. The very popular “Desperate Housewives” and “Devious Maids“ were created by gay writer Marc Cherry, “Six Feet Under” by Alan Ball, and “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee,” “American Horror Story,” “Scream Queens” and “Pose” by the aforementioned Ryan Murphy. You Trekkies will be pleased to know that the “Star Trek” series have some gay actors among their ranks, including René Auberjonois, LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart, George Takei, and even William Shatner!

(# Who’s the leader of the Club that’s made for you and me?…D-I-S-… # “Estimate the number of your gay employees…” # N-E-Y… # “Why? Because it’s time to out you!” # W-A-L-T! #) The Walt Disney Studio and its film company affiliates of today have a very high percentage of gay employees. All those best-selling cartoons from The Little Mermaid (1989, and even before) up through to The Princess and the Frog and beyond have a number of gay people connected with them—from animators and writers to the directors and composers. And there is a rumor that even ol’ Walt himself was a closeted gay man, and a chicken queen, to boot! It was revealed in a question on “…Millionaire” one day that just before he died, Walt uttered Kurt Russell’s name! He did star the youth in several of his films. Might he have had a secret, unrequited crush on the boy?

Walt’s being gay is perhaps why he didn’t hire known homosexuals to work for him while he was alive. He probably was afraid that they might out him and blow his cover. Walt even fired Tommy Kirk, one of his biggest juvenile stars, when the young man’s homosexuality became publicly apparent. But he later hired him back when a couple of his recent movies made the studio so much money, and Walt needed Tommy for a sequel. He must have had a conniption in the afterlife, or maybe he was delighted, when he first learned that Walt Disney World celebrates an annual Gay Day at his park. So now I have outed him as being a closet queen and a racist! (See my other blog about him.)

Who is not an all-time fan of Bugs Bunny? What’s up, Doc? Can we talk? Now, I ask you, is that a queen, or what?! Well, check Miss Thing out! He’s always “in drag,” in practically every cartoon. He has had a love scene with most of his male costars. In his feature film, Space Jam (1996), Bugs gives basketball star Michael Jordan a big smackeroo kiss right on the mouth, and he’s not even in drag this time! She’s such a camp! The Harry Potter books have become the most successful and most popular novel series of all time. Author J.K. Rowling revealed to the world in the last book that Dumbledore, the beloved headmaster of Harry’s school for wizards, Hogwarts, is gay!

What about Statler and Waldorf, those two old heckling balcony queens from “The Muppet Show”? I love them. And aren’t Bert and Ernie from “Sesame Street” a darling couple! Fans of “The Simpsons” will have heard Waylon Smithers declare his undying love to his employer and mentor, the evil Mr. Burns, on more than one occasion, and Akbar and Jeff (of Life in Hell) are quite open about their lover relationship, as are Logo’s Rick and Steve. Some recent commercial ads have suggested that Popeye and Bluto are now a romantic couple, much to the perplexity of poor rejected Olive Oyl. And who hasn’t figured out that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are lifetime lovers. How do I know? Well, elementary, my dear Reader. Batman and Robin, too, must be porking each other, although Bruce Wayne tries to pass off Robin as his “ward.” Yeah, right. It is also suspected that Xena the Warrior Princess and her “protégée,” Gabrielle, are more to each other than they let on.

In the real world, what about your Butch Cassidy and your Sundance Kid? I suppose that practically everyone presumes that live-together illusionists Siegfried and Roy are lovers. I’ve never heard them deny it. Actor Sylvester Stallone is always dropping little hints in public as to his being gay, but people seem to think that he’s only joking. They think that someone that macho just couldn’t be gay. I am convinced that Stallone and John Travolta had a thing going during the filming of Staying Alive (1983), if not before and maybe even since. There is a scene in the film which shows Travolta walking down a crowded street, being heavily cruised by a man who is none other than Sly himself, in a Hitchcockian cameo appearance! Sly smiles at John through the crowd and makes this really nelly gesture at him. I think that’s pretty blatant. It’s Sly’s film—he wrote and directed it—and if he didn’t want that scene in there, it wouldn’t be. Or he could have had anybody else play that part. So I think he must be trying to tell us something. I have even heard him make self-incriminating comments about himself during interviews. Maybe he’s counting on his fans not to take him seriously. More recently, John himself was publicly outed because of his dalliances with loose-lipped masseurs. George Clooney does the same thing. He regularly admits his strong attraction to fellow actor Brad Pitt. We can only speculate if he has physically acted upon his desire.

Though he never wants to admit that he is, in fact, gay (or at least bisexual), I have it on pretty good authority that Tom Cruise was a regular fuck buddy with producer David Geffen, among others. From that earlier cited news report, there must be others as well who suspect as much. I’ve been told that Italian film directors Luchino Visconti and Franco Zefferelli were lovers for many years. I also heard some dirt on the aforementioned Ann “The Man” B. Davis and Nan “The Man” Kulp. Their respective TV shows were filmed in nearby studios, and Barry Williams of “The Brady Bunch” reported to someone that on many occasions Nancy would pick up her friend Ann after work on her motorcycle, and they’d go riding off into the sunset together. Dykes-on-Bikes, Hollywood-Style!

An outraged Frank Sinatra purportedly caught his then-wife Ava Gardner making it with Lana Turner during an intimate slumber party. Heartthrobs Cary Grant and Randolph Scott shared a Hollywood beach house for 12 years. As with Rock Hudson, studio heads pressured Grant to get married to a woman. Scott accompanied him and his first wife of five, actress Virginia Cherrill, on their London honeymoon. The marriage lasted less than a year, and Cary was back at the beach house with Randy.

I recently learned from an elderly actor friend of mine, who knew him personally, that Spencer Tracy was gay! Although they were good friends, if only platonic, Katharine Hepburn was merely his beard for all of those years. He left his wife but he never divorced her, something about their being Catholic and all. Tracy’s sexual interest was for young men and boys. I expect that working on Boys Town (1938) must have been a heavenly experience for him, and he was awarded an Oscar for it besides! Maybe he was Kate’s beard as well. I always perceived sapphist vibes from her. Her whole demeanor and dress just screamed “stomping bulldyke.”

Look at how many men and women all over the world still love and worship Elvis Presley. I learned that he, too, led a closeted gay life. He had been linked with fellow actors Nick Adams and even James Dean, among others. Other famous Hollywood same-sex couples, however unlikely, were Tab Hunter with Anthony Perkins, Danny Kaye with Sir Laurence Olivier, Julie Andrews with Carol Burnett, Joan Crawford with Barbara Stanwyck, Marilyn Monroe with both Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Taylor, Claudette Colbert with Marlene Dietrich, Penny Marshall with Lori Petty, Ethel Merman with Jacqueline Susann, Agnes Moorehead with Debbie Reynolds, and Tallulah Bankhead with Hattie McDaniel! Go ‘head!

Look at how our culture has been influenced by William Shakespeare, debatably the greatest, but at least the most-performed, most-adapted and most-quoted playwright that ever lived, even though the authenticity of his authorship has been put to question and challenged as of late. Yep, another queen! And of course, the works of gay playwrights Edward Albee, Noel Coward, Mart Crowley, Jean Genet, Lorraine Hansbury, Lillian Hellman, William Inge, George Kelly (Princess Grace’s uncle), James Kirkwood, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Federico Garcia Lorca, Christopher Marlowe, Terence McNally, Moliere, Joe Orton, Robert Patrick, Terence Rattigan, Sophocles, August Strindberg, Oscar Wilde, Emlyn Williams, Tennessee Williams and Doric Wilson have been performed all over the world.

How many children all over the world have read, or were read to, the “fairy” tales of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen? Chicken queen, by his own admission! Children’s authors James M. Barrie and Lewis Carroll had similar reputations. In addition, the works of gay authors like, Horatio Alger, James Baldwin, Brendan Behan, Rosa Bonheur, William Burroughs, Samuel Butler, “Truewoman” Capote, Willa “Catheter,” Jean Cocteau, Patrick Dennis, Daphne DuMaurier, Dominick Dunne, E.M. Forster, André Gide, Bret Harte, Christopher Isherwood, Henry James, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, T.E. Lawrence, Somerset Maugham, Armistead Maupin, Carson McCullers, Herman Melville, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sir Harold Nicholson, Edgar Allan Poe, Marcel Proust, Harold Robbins, Frederick Rolfe, Saki, Vita Sackville-West, Madame de Stael, Gertrude Stein, Robert Louis Stevenson, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh, T.H. White, Thornton Wilder, Virginia Woolf (ooh, I am scared of her!) and others, have made it to the movie screens for millions to see.

Widely-read gay poets include, W.H. Auden, Joe Brainard, Rupert Brooke, Lord Byron, Colette, Hart Crane, Countee Cullen, Dante, Emily Dickinson, Lord Alfred Douglas, Robert Duncan, T.S. Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Allen Ginsberg, Friedrich Hölderlin, Gerald Manley Hopkins, A.E. Housman, Langston Hughes, Chester Kallman, Edward Lear, Audre Lorde, Amy Lowell, Rod McKuen, James Merrill, John Milton, Alexander Pope, James Whitcomb Riley, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine (lovers), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sappho, May Sarton, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Moray Stuart-Young, Algernon Swinburne, Torquato Tasso, Sara Teasdale, Virgil and Walt Whitman.

Is there anyone alive over the age of five who does not know who Frankenstein is or has not seen a film based on the character or his monstrous creation? Well, here’s one for you. Not only was James Whale, the director of the 1931 horror classic which introduced them to the movie-going public, gay, but so was Mary Wollstonecraft, the woman who produced Mary Shelley, the author of the original novel!

Being a musician and composer myself, I am always interested in who among my fellow artists are gay. The reported gayness of some of the following (mostly) dead classical composers and popular songwriters is pretty much common knowledge, but there are those whom you may not have heard about but of whom there is some evidence, or at least some speculative suspicion. They are: Thomas Arne, Samuel Barber, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincenzo Bellini, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Johannes Brahms, Benjamin Britten, Frederic Chopin, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Henry Cowell, Carl Czerny, Claude Debussy, Frederick Delius, Manuel de Falla, Duke Ellington, Stephen Foster, George Gershwin, Percy Grainger and Edvard Grieg (who were lovers), Charles T. Griffes, Calvin Hampton, George Frederick Handel, Roy Harris, Lorenz Hart, Hans Werner Henze, Jerry Herman, Jean Baptiste Lully, Gustav Mahler, Alan Menken, Modest Mussorgsky, Francis Poulenc, Maurice Ravel, Ned Rorem, Camille Saint-Saens, Erik Satie, Franz Schubert, Marc Shaiman, Stephen Sondheim, Igor Stravinsky, Billy Strayhorn, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Karol Szymanowski, Thomas Tallis, Peter Tchaikovsky, Virgil Thomson, Sir Michael Tippett and Richard Wagner.

Yes, Beethoven! How about that? I learned that there is no evidence that he was ever in a relationship with a woman. But we do know about his affection for his young nephew, Karl. So don’t believe that “Immortal Beloved” bullshit in the 1994 film. In real life at least, the title don’t refer to no woman! Handel, too, had no female attachments his entire life. Were they asexual celibates or closet queens? You decide.

(# I like a Gershwin tune. How about you? #) Who does not have a favorite piece of music or has not heard something written by at least one of the aforementioned composers? The Catholics, for example, could not have avoided Schubert’s “Ave Maria” all their lives. There are very few wedding ceremonies occurring anywhere, whether they be actual or cinematic, that don’t include Wagner’s “Bridal March.” And who can get through an entire year without hearing Handel’s Messiah, something from a Jerry Herman or Sondheim musical or even a Gershwin or Cole Porter tune?

Princess Grace of Monaco’s favorite piece of music was said to be Barber’s Adagio for Strings,” which was played at her televised funeral. It was reported that the amount of people who witnessed Princess Diana’s funeral in September 1997, at which her close gay friend Elton John performed, at the royal family’s request, numbered in the billions! Look at what influence to popular music The Beatles has had on the world. Their phenomenal success has to be credited in part to their gay manager, Brian Epstein. I even have some dirt on The Beatles themselves! And the next time you are at a public event and you have your hand over your heart singing “America the Beautiful” with the rest of the crowd, why don’t you nudge the person next to you and say, “I just love a good ol’ sapphist sing-along, don’t you?”

Speaking of closet queens, there were four politically-influential men whom the Gay Movement doesn’t even want to claim. They are Roy Cohn, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy and Francis Cardinal Spellman. They were “running ho’s,” my slang term for pals, buddies, compadres, friends who hang out together. They loved getting dirt on people and using it against them, and they were so anti-gay, despite the fact that they were big ol’ queens themselves. Can we talk here? Now, you know that I’m not one to gossip, but… J. Edgar Hoover had to have been gay! Look at the evidence. He and his constant companion, Clyde Tolson, both lifetime bachelors (at least neither ever got married to women), had a very close “relationship” for 44 years! And who would you leave your half-million dollar estate to when you die, if not your spouse or lover?

How dare that Senator Joe McCarthy go about ruining all those innocent people’s lives and careers and besmirching their reputations by intimating that they were Communists and/or homosexuals, when he and his partner-in-crime Roy Cohn were probably getting it on with each other themselves! Why should anybody’s political affiliation be their personal concern anyway? Might there be a connection that McCarthy died in 1957 of “acute hepatitis, cause unknown” and Cohn of AIDS in 1986, both which are usually sex-related conditions?

And what about “Sister Mary” Francis Spellman? A 1985 biography asserted that the Cardinal was a practicing homosexual and his sexual conduct was the source of much embarrassment to his fellow clergy. But he always came to the aid of his pals Hoover and McCarthy whenever they were under attack. La cage aux folles. You know, birds of a feather flock together. He publicly supported the Vietnam “War,” and anyone who opposed it was labeled a “commie.” It is people like them who need to be outed. For a shocking disclosure of some gay Popes, check out my blog, A Critique of Catholicism.

What follows is an additional list of gay, sapphist and bisexual actors and other show biz folk, past and present, not mentioned previously, of whom there is some pre-ordained, personal knowledge or merely rumor of their queerdom. I don’t apologize for outing anyone, because somebody apparently beat me to it. You, however, may not be aware of some of these. They are: Clay Aiken, Chad Allen, Peter Allen, Mitchell Anderson, Jillian Armenante, Alexis Arquette, Dorothy Arzner, William Atherton, Mark Baker, Paris Barclay, Javier Bardem, John Barrowman, Roger Bart, Lance Bass, Alan Bates, Byron Batt, Meredith Baxter. Amanda Bearse, Michael Beck, Maria Bello, Polly Bergen, Sandra Bernhard, Nate Berkus, Jorge Bolet, Matt Bomer, Chaz Bono, Christian Borle, David Dean Bottrell, David Bowie, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Marlon Brando, Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Breen, Patrick Bristow, Bill Brochtrup, Victor Buono, Richard Burton, Charles Busch, Dan Butler, Spring Byington, Mario Cantone, Pat Carroll, Capucine, Tracy Chapman, RuPaul Charles, Margaret Cho, Robert Christian, Montgomery Clift, Kate Clinton, James Coco, Chris Coffer, Frederick Combs, Anderson Cooper, Gary Cooper, Laverne Cox, Quentin Crisp, Darren Criss, Richard Cromwell, Wilson Cruz, George Cukor, Alan Cumming, Matt Dallas, James Daly, Lee Daniels, Jaye Davidson, Brad Davis, Robin DeJesus, Lea Delaria, Dom DeLuise, Sandy Dennis, Portia DeRossi, André DeShields, Billy DeWolfe, Sergei Diaghilev, Guillermo Diaz, Divine, Jason Dottley, Val Dufour, Blake Edwards, Billy Eichner, John “Lypsinka” Epperson, Melissa Etheridge, Rupert Everett, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Harvey Fierstein, Errol Flynn, Jodie Foster, Virgil Fox, Peter Frechette, Jonathan Freeman, Leonard Frey, Robert Gant, Victor Garber, Greta Garbo, Willie Garson, Anthony Geary, Kirk Geiger, Boy George, Richard Gere, Malcolm Gets, Frank Gifford, Allan Glaser, Ron Glass, John Glover, Marga Gomez, Farley Granger, Al Green, Michael Greer, Tim Gunn, William Haines, Todrick Hall, Harry Hamlin, Herbie Hancock, Neil Patrick Harris, Randy Harrison, Laurence Harvey, Charlton Heston, Edward Hibbert, Maurice Hines, Geoffrey Holder, Earl Holliman, Vladimir Horowitz, Edward Everett Horton, Rock Hudson, Barry Humphries, Pat Humphries, Linda H(r)unt, David Hurd, Janis Ian, Mark Indelicato, Cheyenne Jackson, Michael Jackson, Derek Jacobi, Mick Jagger, Michael Jeter, Cherry Jones, Janis Joplin, Keith Jordan, Leslie Jordan, Kurt Kaszner, Phillip P. Keene, Paula Kelly, Gus Kenworthy, Larry Kert, T.R. Knight, Carson Kressley, Nathan Lane, k.d. lang, Darrell Larson, Queen Latifah, Robert LaTourneaux, Rex Lee, Jack Lemmon, John Lennon, James Levine, Liberace, Greg Louganis, Charles Ludlam, Jane Lynch, Paul Lynde, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, James Macarthur, Madonna, George Maharis, John Mahoney, Barry Manilow, Alec Mapa, Ricky Martin, Steve Martin, Heather Matarazzo, Johnny Mathis, Kerwin Matthews, Ross Matthews, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, Kelly McGillis, Sir Ian “Sirina” McKellan, Steve McQueen, Lauritz Melchoir, George Michael, Wentworth Miller, Sal Mineo, Elvis Mitchell, John Cameron Mitchell, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Robert Moore, Jim Nabors, Kenneth Nelson, Paul Newman, Olivia Newton-John, Vaslav Nijinsky, Cynthia Nixon, Ramon Novarro, Rudolf Nureyev, Laura Nyro, Rosie O’Donnell, Tatum O’Neal, Ken Page, Peter Paige, Franklin Pangborn, Jim Parsons, Dolly Parton, Sarah Paulson, Charles Perez, Brock Peters, Walter Pidgeon, Charles Pierce, David Hyde Pierce, Jada Pinkett, Danny Pintauro, Jon Polito, Albert Popwell, Billy Porter, Tyrone Power, Keith Prentice, Zachary Quinto, Ma Rainey, Andrew Rannells, Lionel Richie, Christian Siriano, Raven-Symone, Sir Michael Redgrave, Rex Reed, Christopher Reeve, Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Reubens, Frank Ripploh, Robin Roberts, Jai Rodriguez, Howard Rollins Jr., Cesar Romero, George Rose, Richard Roundtree, Adamo Ruggiero, Thomas Schippers, John Schlesinger, Maria Schneider, Reid Shelton, Christopher Seiber, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, Will Smith, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Spinella, Darryl Stephens, Raymond St. Jacques, Tom Selleck, Wanda Sykes, Holland Taylor, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Roy Thinnes, Michael Tilson Thomas, Scott Thompson, Lily Tomlin, Thomas Tryon, Michael Urie, Rudolf Valentino, Conrad Veidt, Tom Villard, Robert Wagner, Alice Walker, Fred Ward, William Warfield, Isaiah Washington, John Waters, Tuc Watkins, Clifton Webb, Alan Weeks, Alexis Weissenberg, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Danny Williams, Karen Williams, Paul Winfield, B.D. Wong and Pedro Zamora.

You must be aware by now that there seems to be a strong connection between homosexual identity and artistic temperament. I don’t think it’s any accident that so many artists, musicians, performers and writers also happen to be gay. Creative art does require a certain amount of sensitivity and self-discipline, character traits which gay people seem to have more of than your average straights. In the case of your closet gays who lead a double life, that in itself requires great self-discipline and restraint. Concert pianist extraordinaire Vladimir Horowitz once said, “There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists.” Horowitz was in no way a bad one.

So the next time you encounter someone who wishes “Death to all homosexuals!” tell them to make sure that they have gotten positive heterosexual clearance on all their relatives and friends, their father and mother, their husband or wife, their sons and daughters, their employer who pays their salary, some benefactor who paid for their education or supports their livelihood, the law enforcers who protect them and their family, everybody near and dear to them, before they pass such a sentence. I don’t see how anyone could make such an unreasonable and hateful pronouncement anyway. They are saying that it doesn’t matter who you are or what significant contribution you have made to humankind—if you are in any way gay, you must be put to death, no exceptions. There are some dangerously sick people in the world.

Pick any profession or walk-of-life and there will be a gay person, past or present, that is or was involved with it, I guarantee it. The point of all this has been to make you aware of the fact that every aspect of our culture, religious, political and social amenities are touched or influenced by gays. I’ve shown you geographical locations and even whole countries that were created by or named in honor of certain gay people. The homosexual is a vital, very important and necessary commodity of our society, whether you would like to admit it or not.

Since homos are even mentioned in the Bible, as we have discovered, we must have been around for a long time, probably for as long as there have been people in the world, and we will continue to exist until the end of it, I’m sure. You homophobes need to deal with that fact and just get over yourselves. If you are shocked or surprised or dismayed in discovering that certain beloved individuals are, were or could be gay, then that’s good. Maybe that knowledge will change your previous attitude. It just goes to show you that we are so prevalent, it’s very difficult to avoid us all.

I said right from jumpstreet that we are virtually everywhere. Of course, some of the aforementioned outings are pure speculation, rumor and hearsay, but I would love for all of it to be true. I don’t have first-hand proof on everyone mentioned in this treatise, as I didn’t or don’t know them personally, but there are some that I do know about for sure.  As Tallulah Bankhead allegedly replied, when once asked if Randolph Scott was really gay—“I’m sure I don’t know, Dahling. He’s never sucked my cock!”

[Related articles: Celebrity Anecdotes and Other Fun Stuff; Conspiracy Theory, Pt. II–The AIDS Epidemic; Gay Pride and Homophobia; Sexism and Gender Issues; Jesus H. Christ; Marry, Marry, Quite Contrary; My Combatless Tour-of-Duty; On Being Gay; On the Road With Cliff; Parenting 101; School Days]

Gay Pride and Homophobia

Homophobia, the fear or dislike of gays and homosexuality, is not really a straight thing, as some people might think. In fact, I have concluded that your larger number of homophobes are not the straights at all, but the homosexuals themselves. I expect that there are more closet cases and latent queers in the world than there are real straights who are antigay, and they are the ones who perpetuate homophobic attitudes. For the straights who don’t like queers, it’s more a case of bigotry or mere ignorance on their part than homophobia.

Well-adjusted heteros, who are secure in their own sexual orientation, have no reason to fear or dislike the queers. We’re no threat to them. It’s the hypocritical, insecure gays (and that includes your fag bashers) who, because of their self-loathing and hatred and fear of themselves, use straight society’s persecution tactics to hide behind and to justify their latency. They come up with reasons why it’s better to play it straight than be true to themselves. That’s homophobia.

If being gay means a life of misery, unhappiness and lonely, unfulfilled relationships, then that must mean that all heterosexuals’ lives are uncomplicated with happy, perfect relationships. But we all know that there are many lonely, miserable, straight people in the world. Our life is what we make it, and although it may be influenced by our sexual orientation, it certainly is not defined or destined by it. And how can they be truly happy when trying to be what they are not?

Consider that the concept of gay pride is synonymous with self-respect. How do you expect to be accepted for being gay if you don’t even admit it to yourself? Just tell people, “This is who I am. Now deal with it.” These closet gays won’t come out to their families because “they don’t need to know that about me” or the fear that they will be ostracized or disowned. “I’m afraid that my parents won’t love me if I tell them that I am gay.“ That’s homophobia. Of course, it could and does happen, but I think that it’s worth the risk. I think that they do need to know that about you. Unenlightened parents need a period of adjustment themselves. You should realize that sometimes it’s just as hard for them as it was for you. But trust them enough to know that they will come around eventually to acceptance, just as you did, if you give them the chance.

Coming out to people close to you might initiate a discussion for understanding. The reason they have these negative opinions about gays is because nobody close to them has ever taken the time to tell them anything different. As long as it’s “someone else’s problem,” they don’t have to be concerned about it. You are doing each other a favor by educating them. They just might not hate all faggots and dykes if their own loving son or daughter is one.

In case you don’t know or have not read my detailed account about them, The Flirtations [1986-1996], was the first and only, at the time, openly-gay acappella singing group, and everyone who came to any of our shows would become aware of that fact, if they didn’t know beforehand. We played to many straight audiences as well as gay ones and received many comments and letters from our het fans, telling us that they didn’t know much about gays or our lifestyle before, but after seeing us and getting to know us, it has made them more accepting and appreciative of gay people in general. We were accredited pioneers of the Gay Revolution of the 1990s.

Distraught parents of gay teenagers have been known to send them into therapy in the hope that the psychologists and psychiatrists will make the kids realize that they are not really gay but only going through a phase, when the parents should be the ones in counseling to address their own homophobia and lack of education. “We love you, son, that’s why we are trying to help you.“ Well, if you loved him, you would accept him as he is and not try to make him be something that you can feel comfortable about. “Son, you are sick! You need help,“ is said as a disgusted accusation. So if he is “sick,” why are you so angry with him? Would he say the same thing if the kid had cancer or diabetes? He is still sick and needs help, but I don’t think Dad would blame him and consider that particular illness his own fault.

The youngsters aren’t the ones with the problem, necessarily. The problem lies with the parents and those who are being rejecting and non-supportive and absolutely clueless as to what being gay is all about. Instead of trying to get their sons and daughters to change into somebody they’re not, just to please their families, these parents should join a support group like P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to learn about gay tolerance and acceptance.

Many gay teens have been disowned by the very people who are supposed to love and care for them unconditionally. How responsible is the parent who would willfully kick their own child out of the house just because they learned that the kid is gay? One mother beat her son with a baseball bat and told him that homosexuality is a sin. Uh, I think that beating your own child with a bat is what is sinful, bitch! “Get out of my house, Timmy. You’re going to burn in hell!” So where does a person who disowns their innocent, loving child think they are going after death? “Well, I’ll see you there, Mom!”

There is a common adage in Latino cultures that affirms, “Es mejor ser ladron que un maricon—It’s better to be a thief than a faggot.” They would prefer their child to be a criminal rather than be gay. Then these poor, homeless kids actually do turn to crime and prostitution in order to survive, and many don’t have the strength or resourcefulness to cut it out there in the world alone and end up being murdered or killing themselves instead.

Some closeted gays won’t tell their buddies because they don’t want to lose them as a friend. Another cop out. If they are a true friend, then that shouldn’t matter, should it? And if someone throws you down over a little thing like that, then they aren’t too much of a friend anyway. Wouldn’t you rather find out now so that you won’t have to waste your time with such a person? I don’t want someone to like me for who they think I am or who they would like me to be rather than for who I really am. Then there are the ones who tell you that they can’t come out at work because they are afraid of losing their jobs. Big cop out! I don’t buy any of these excuses. No job should be that important that you should sacrifice your integrity and true self. There are always other and better jobs.

The Flirtations got to play in Richmond, Virginia three times. The first time, in September 1991, we were there to perform for their “Gay Pride” celebration (those are sarcastic quotation marks, as you will soon see). There was a parade through town, although very few showed up for it. They also published an events booklet that included a Foreword pep talk by one of the organizers, encouraging every gay person in town to come out and make themselves known, stop hiding, strength in numbers, and all that gay pride rhetoric. But when I got to the end of the editorial, I found the salutation, “Name withheld upon request, for fear that I may lose my job as a teacher.” Hunh?! I thought, What two-faced hypocrite wrote this?! He’s telling us all to come out, and then he neglects to give his own name?!

The author turned out to be our promoter, a white guy, who I had already met, and when I found him to be the culprit, honey, did I light into him! He had a good, secure position as a public school teacher, a post that he had held for 15 years, but he was afraid that if he revealed himself, he would be fired from his job. I said, ‘How dare you be such a fucking hypocrite!’ He was the primary organizer of the entire Gay Pride event, but was afraid to be out about it.

I tried to impress upon him my color analogy, reminding him that suppose I hid my race from my employer for 15 years, then when I finally revealed to them that I am really black, would they actually fire me? I’m the same good teacher I was a minute ago, before they found out. He got the point, but I don’t know if he did anything about it. He must have been under the impression that nobody at his school has already figured out that he is gay. Everybody is not that clueless. People know or suspect even if they don’t say anything to the person. I had this guy’s number the moment I met him.

Also, on the door of the hall where the festivities were being held, was a sign which requested that everyone with a camera should get permission from anyone they took a picture of, as that person may not want to be photographed for reasons of keeping their identity a secret! So what are they doing at a gay pride celebration if they are reluctant to have anybody know that they were there?! Plus, many of the people there had an air of that Southern snobbery and pretense about them. I was so disgusted with the whole thing, I couldn’t wait to get away from there.

Consider the situation from both sides for a moment. If someone actually fired you because they found out that you were gay, why would you want to be associated with somebody that petty, bigoted and narrow-minded anyway? Wouldn’t you rather work where you can be comfortable with yourself and not have to lie to everybody? On the other hand, as an employer, I would like to know if those working for me were gay or not. If a person willfully conceals their very identity from you, how can you trust them completely? What I am saying is that to know someone’s sexual orientation should not matter to you. Of course, it should not even be an issue in the workplace, or anywhere else for that matter, but since it is, let’s try to do something about it.

Heterosexual employees should know who their gay co-workers are just like the gay employees should know who is straight. If anything, once they get past their perceived bigotry, it should make for better working relationships. There are certain things that I would say to a gay person that I would not to a straight person, and vice versa. A sapphist would not be subjected to unwelcome advances and come-ons by the guys in the office, because they would know right offhand that they don’t have a chance with her. Your co-workers would not always be trying to fix you up with their straight friends if they know that you already have a same-sex lover at home. If their attempts to hook up with you are consistently turned down, they are going to suspect something about you anyway. So you might as well tell them the truth about yourself.

Some incidents of perceived sexual harassment might be excused if you know where people’s interests lie. If a male co-worker, who is gay, greets a woman regularly with, “Ooh, girl, you are working that outfit today, and those shoes are fierce!” she would not take that comment the same as if a lecherous, straight guy often tells her, “Hey, Sweet Thang! You sure are looking yummy today. Good enough to eat. Can I have some of that?”

Considering how many gays there are in the workforce, these bosses wouldn’t dare fire everybody! Who will be left to work for them? These closeted gays should have more confidence in themselves and their abilities and worth, and faith in their employers, for that matter. For example, openly-gay Hollywood mogul David Geffen has many gay people working in his company, but some still choose to remain in the closet out of shame and their own homophobia, not for fear of losing their jobs for being gay.

You know, the whole problem of being found out can be avoided if people are open and honest right from the beginning, at the time they take the new job. One doesn’t need to volunteer the information–they should be able to figure it out on their own–but if asked, they should admit it. I hate that tired old, hypocritical excuse by the Government that wants to deny employment to closeted gays for certain high-ranking positions because they are a “security risk” and “subject to blackmail.” Well, that’s the very reason to have one’s gayness out in the open! How can they be blackmailed if there is nothing that they consider scandalous to reveal about them? Besides, I don’t think that anybody (or most anyway) even cares anymore about who is gay or not, so that type of discrimination does not fly anymore. If one chooses to hide their being gay, that’s their own hangup. Don’t try to blame your reason for secrecy on others.

A sapphist-run boutique in Northampton, Mass., I suppose as an experiment, once offered a discount special for all sapphist shoppers. To take advantage of the 20% discount, all a woman had to do was admit that she is a sapphist. One apparently homophobic woman (I’m not saying that she was straight) approached the cashier with her purchases and was informed that a “lesbian” discount was in effect. “Are you a lesbian?” The poor woman gasped, clutched her pearls, stammered, “Well, I…uh…” “20% off! Are you a lesbian?” There was nobody else in the store. No witnesses. Who would know? Still she wouldn’t bring herself to say that she was a sapphist, as if that were the worst possible thing in the world that she could call herself. I wonder if no charge to her at all would have decided her. My mother told me that she would have done it. Hell, I would be a sapphist to get a discount!

A woman went to her gynecologist complaining about some green circles on the inner sides of both of her thighs. After examining her, the doctor asked, “Are you a sapphist?” The patient replied, “Uh, no, I’m not.” “Well, okay then. Apply this ointment as directed and come back to see me in a week.” A week later the woman returned to the doctor and upon examination found the green circles still to be present in the same place. The doctor asked her again, “Come on now, are you a sapphist?” The woman hesitated, then finally answered, “Well…I wasn’t honest with you before, Doctor. Okay, I admit it. I am a sapphist. But why do you ask?” The doctor replied, “Well, that explains your problem. Tell your girlfriend that those earrings of hers are not made of real gold.” Think about it.

We can go for long periods of time, years in many cases, leading a perfectly carefree existence, playing the game, doing what’s expected of us and what’s acceptable to the society in which we live. What happens, though, sometimes, when we finally decide to come clean and divulge little secrets about ourselves and/or others, things that still may be objectionable to some? There are certain aspects of our individual identities that we are not responsible for. They are our gender, our age, our ethnic origin and our sexual orientation. The first three are rather discernible in most cases, however there are exceptions, but the last aspect is not always so apparent. In the case of a gay person coming out to co-workers and other acquaintances, and even to family members and so-called loved ones, the onus of the revelation seems to be always on the confessor rather than the ones receiving this new “shocking” information.

What I mean is, like when a closeted gay man or a sapphist finally decides, after a long while, to stop lying to the people they care about, it is most often the gay person who is required to make all the adjustments. What has changed for that person? They are exactly the same person they were before they said anything and are not doing anything different. But now they are rejected, reviled, dismissed from their job, kicked out of their apartment, and have their children taken away from them. Why should their life have to change so drastically? If you don’t like working alongside a homosexual, living with or near one, having them teach your children, then why don’t you find another job where there aren’t any? Why don’t you move to another building where there aren’t any? Why don’t you send your children to a school that is absolutely queer-free? You make the necessary sacrifices, since you are the one with the problem. Why do we have to be the ones always to make the concessions and do all the compromising? It’s not we who need to change for society’s sake. It’s the homophobes who need to get their minds fixed.

The TV series “The Commish,” “Law and Order” and “NYPD Blue” have all done episodes with storylines about gay cops who were deliberately abandoned by their fellow officers while on duty during an arrest. The ironic absurdity and hypocrisy of their rationale is that the homophobic straight cops argued that the gay guys could not be depended upon to do their job when a dangerous situation occurred, when it was they who turned their backs on their gay partners and denied them proper backup when they needed help.

Look at the opposition that Dr. Tom Waddell faced from the U.S. Olympic Committee, when he tried to establish the Gay Olympics in 1982, their claiming that they had exclusive use of the word “Olympics” and that he was infringing upon their copyright. Of course, this was a bogus reason for the injunction, because there were already more than a dozen other Olympics, including the Special Olympics, the Police Olympics, the Armenian Olympics, the Eskimo Olympics, the Rat Olympics, and even the Crab-Cooking (!) Olympics, but the Committee just would not accept the Gay Olympics, and we eventually had to settle for “Gay Games.” Clearly a case of unjustified, homophobic bigotry. So what else is new?

What’s even more ironic about it is that the original Olympic Games (held from 776 B.C. to 388 A.D.) were made up almost entirely of gay athletes! Homosexuality during that time in Greece was neither looked down upon with disapproval nor otherwise ignored. In fact, it was freely encouraged. Virgins were forbidden any male contact until they married, therefore the men were all off-limits to them. Furthermore, the participants of the Games were the best-looking, most physically-fit men in the kingdom, so of course, they all had the hots for each other! Okay, you have these hot, horny, virile young jocks, all romping around together naked, with no access to any women. Now, what do you think they were doing with each other? It’s no different in other similar situations—prisons, boys’ schools, seminaries, Navy and pirate ships. Hello?!

Oh, yes, the Games were performed completely in the nude, by the way. The early Games was a religious event, you see, and the athletes were required to wear the “uniform of the gods” while competing. When the Olympics resumed 1508 years later, in 1896, of course, times had changed. But we seem now to have come full circle. I’m sure that there are still people who think that gay athletes are a novelty, though. 1994’s Gay Games IV brought in more than 11,500 participants from 44 countries. (I don’t have the latest statistics.) There were even several world records made and broken, as there have been every time. I think that an event of this magnitude should be taken seriously and given the same attention, funding, coverage and respect by the mainstream media as the other Olympics events.

I want to talk more about gays serving in the Armed Forces and why we are considered such a threat to the established status quo. So some of you straight men don’t want us in there, sharing barracks space with you and, God forbid, have to take showers with us? What, are you afraid that we might do to you what you have been doing to women for all times?! First of all, don’t flatter yourselves. We probably don’t want you anyway. We don’t normally prey on straight guys. With us, it has to be consensual. And unlike you, we are able to restrain ourselves. These het homophobes are directing their hate and distrust on the wrong people. They had better check out themselves and others like them.

Let’s take a look at the Navy’s Tailhook Scandal of 1991, when several female officers were sexually assaulted and harassed by their fellow male officers during a rowdy party. It was next to impossible for the Navy to bring charges against their own personnel. I mean, this was a traditional “guy thing,” you see. “So the men felt up you women’s asses and breasts a little bit. No reason for you to get all upset about it. Why do you want to make waves and cause trouble? After all, boys will be boys, heh heh heh.”

Okay, Admiral, if that’s the way you feel about it, then you shouldn’t mind, do you, if the gay guys in your unit come on to the straight guys and feel them up in the shower? It’s a traditional “gay thing.” No reason for them to get all upset about it. Why do they want to make waves and cause trouble? After all, faggots will be faggots, heh heh heh (who are boys, too, aren’t they?). Yeah, let’s see how lenient and understanding the Navy Brass is about that!

Of course, this Navy atrocity is only one such incident. There are thousands of reported cases every year of female rape that occur in every branch of the military, and nobody is doing anything about it. Just like most every organized society, the Armed Forces is still a male-dominated structure, and if they could have their way, many of the men would like it to be exclusively male. But with more and more women taking an active part in the military and the corporate workforce in general, there is a great power struggle going on, and these chauvinistic, misogynistic men feel very threatened by this new crop of highly-qualified, confident women. They feel that the women need to be tamed, as it were, you know, cut down to size. “What that bitch needs is my dick up in her! That’ll make her behave!”

Of course, there are a few exceptions, like gay child molesters, but your average sex offenders are more often heterosexual and misogynistic males. It’s insecure straight men that have little or no respect for women, not gay men. They are the ones who exploit, harass and degrade women, put out anti-feminist rap records, whistle and make catcalls (excuse me, I mean “mancalls”) and obscene gestures at them, grope their asses and crotches, try to control them and exert their power by seducing them into unwelcome submission, are guilty of stalking, cyber- and otherwise, send them phone pix of their dick, even when she didn’t ask to see it, beat up on them, commit rape, sometimes causing unwanted pregnancies, and sexually abuse others’ children as well as their own.

I, and every gay person I know, have never done any of those things. So why is it always we gay men who get the bad rep? We certainly have more respect for other people’s sexual orientation, and humanity in general, women included, than the male hets apparently have. The irony is that there is always this unwarranted hoopla of trying to keep the often celibate gay men and women (and now transgender individuals are being targeted) who haven’t done anything to anybody, out of the military, when they should be more concerned about keeping all those rapists and women abusers out instead? And they are so worried about us gays looking at their tired butts in the shower? How dare they! Such hypocrisy!

It appears that physical as well as verbal gay-bashing is the last frontier of socially-accepted injustice. Whenever any other social group comes up against public negativity, it is met with moral outrage and support. But it’s still open season on queers. People are made to feel that they can say and do anything to us without receiving any peer recrimination, because, in most cases, they don’t.

The self-loathing homophobic gays do more disservice to our cause than help it. By not coming forward and speaking up, they give credence to the bad things said about us. If someone makes a disparaging remark about gays, they won’t defend it because people will think that they must be gay, too, or accused of being a sympathizer or of guilt by association. Well, so what if they do think that? Make a stand, share the stigma! American slavery probably never would have ended if the abolitionists were not willing to allow themselves to be called race traitors and “nigger-lovers” all the time.

There is a disturbing scene in Armistead Maupin’s Further Tales of the City, when the main gay character, Michael, and his straight friend and housemate, Brian, are attacked on the street by some young fag bashers. While Michael is being beaten himself, he tells the thugs who are pummeling Brian, “But he’s not gay!” So they should leave Brian alone and beat up only on the real faggot, then? How is that for self-hate, as if he is getting what he deserves? It’s all about perception. If you’re hanging out with a known faggot, then you must be, too, so expect to be treated accordingly. As RuPaul says at the end of all his shows, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here?”

Until just very recently, most leading men in films and TV as well as on the stage, especially if they were gay, would not portray a gay character, due to their own homophobia. When a good gay role does come along, who almost always gets it?–a straight actor. Most closeted gay actors don’t like to play gay characters, because the people who know about them will conjecture, “He’s not really acting, you know. He’s just playing himself.” I say, so what? I consider that an asset. A gay actor would have the proper insight to portray a gay character.

A case in point. I like Tom Hanks most of the time, but his portrayal of a gay lawyer in Philadelphia (1993) left me rather underwhelmed. I don’t think that he deserved the Oscar, because in the whole movie he never convinced me that he was really gay. We knew only because he told us that he was. He shouldn’t have to tell us. Even when a straight actor plays gay, we should know it without him saying so. They can convey it in other ways. And most do succeed in that respect. Two good examples are Robert Downey Jr. and Robin Williams. Their gay characters are/were always convincing.

But back to Tom Hanks for a moment. There is a scene in Philadelphia where Tom’s character is explaining an opera aria, playing in the background, to his defense lawyer Denzel Washington. It is quite a dramatic and poignant scene, which a real die-hard, gay opera queen would have done a lot more with than Tom gave it. The fervor and passion just wasn’t there, I’m sorry, Tom. Perhaps the fact that the director, Jonathan Demme, was also straight, he didn’t know enough himself to direct the scene properly.

The thing about “he is just playing himself,” you never hear that said about straight actors, of course. “You realize, don’t you, that Bruce Willis is not acting in that love scene. He really does like women, you know.” Who actually believes that any actor is in reality every role that he portrays? So an actor who plays a wife beater, rapist or mad slasher in a film must really be one, right? Are all those actors who have appeared in drag in the movies really closet drag queens in real life? It seems that these closeted actors would rather be perceived to be women-hating serial killers than have their public think that they are gay.

After I learned that Rock Hudson was gay, for instance, it doesn’t bother me that he played all those heterosexual characters in the movies, just like it apparently doesn’t bother most people that openly-sapphist Amanda Bearse and openly-gay actors Dan Butler and Neil Patrick Harris play het characters on TV sitcoms. Come on, give us some credit. It’s not the moviegoers that give a hoot about an actor’s sexuality. It’s those pathologically-paranoid producers, directors, executives, agents and the actors themselves who are so homophobic.

The late Elizabeth Taylor once said on TV that it’s so ironic that (in her day) there is so much homophobia in the film industry, because without the gays, there would be no Hollywood! It’s so true. And Sister knew, major fag hag that she was. It’s a shame, though, that gay actors are even more uptight than the straight ones. At least we have/had secure enough gay, sapphist and bisexual actors who ignored imagined public opinion to play a variety of interesting gay characters on stage and screen. Consult my blog, Let’s Have an Outing for the full list.

Some parents, upon learning of their child’s queerdom, expect them to change for the parents’ benefit. A stubborn mother tells her confused teenager, “You will have to do something about this, because I simply will not have a gay son.” That sounds like an ultimatum. So the boy kills himself. His suicide note to his mother reads, “Mom, you told me that you will not have a gay son. So now you don’t. Are you happy now?” Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it. How can you change one’s inner being, and why should you? Did that mother actually think that by giving her son a choice, he would honor her wishes by choosing not to be gay? Now realizing that she is responsible for her son’s death, only then does she seek therapy, which she should have done in the first place. There was nothing wrong with the boy. It’s his mother who has the problem.

When a study group of confused, self-loathing gay youngsters were asked, “If there were a pill that you could take that would make you straight, would you take it?” they all raised their hands. When asked why, they agreed that they don’t like society’s regard and treatment of them and would prefer to be like “everybody else.” Everybody else? But everybody is not straight. Who specifically do you want to be like? My argument would be, Why should I change my very being just to gain Society’s acceptance of me? You’ll never please everybody anyway. I will use my race analogy again. If there were a pill to make me white, I wouldn’t take it either. Why don’t they make this pill for the homophobes and racial bigots that would change their feelings toward gay people and others and cure them into sexual and racial tolerance and acceptance? They are the real sickos in the world, not us gays.

The fact of the matter is, you cannot change a person’s sexual identity. We are what we are. We can only change our behavior, if need be. Just because a few of my gay friends don’t have sex with men anymore, it doesn’t mean that they are no longer gay. Throughout the history of the world, there have been homosexuals, and despite that social inconvenience afforded us, we always have managed to succeed in our particular lives and careers. Our being gay has never stopped us from excelling. The previously-mentioned other blog illustrates the point.

Parents could look at the situation in another way. Having a gay teenager is not any worse than having a straight one in many cases. Parents with boy-crazy girls tend to be over-protective and are always worried about them getting themselves knocked up or about their boys getting some girl pregnant. Gay teens don’t have that particular concern. Those parents should consider that a blessing. I suspect that their feigned concern has more to do with future grandchildren, which is a selfish attitude. Just like their choosing to have children in the first place is a selfish act, they then want their children to have more children for them, or why would they care whether their kids had children or not? Even with their childless married children, you hear all the time, “When are you going to make us grandparents?” Why is it all about you? I would hope that they would prefer their sons and daughters, if they do decide to have children, to have them with someone they really love—even if it is with a same-sex partner—than to have them with anybody, just to please their parents.

Of course, these parents of gay kids will say that their concern stems from how “Society” treats gay people, and they don’t want them to have to go through that. Well, if acceptance of them begins there at home, then maybe they won’t have to “go through that!” Kids care more about how their own family and friends feel about them and how they are treated, rather than what “Society” at large thinks. We seldom make a personal life decision taking Society into consideration, but we often make life choices to get approval from our parents.

Some TV parents seem to be catching on, though. On “Rescue Me” star Denis Leary’s character, Tommy, is separated from his wife and with a teenaged daughter. He is understandably worried about boys sniffing around, since he is not there to look after her all the time. Well, Tommy was thrilled to no end one season when he found out that his daughter is a sapphist! Now he can rest easy.

On “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” the older of two teenaged sisters got pregnant and kept the baby. The younger daughter has a male fellow student as her best friend who is openly-gay and whom her parents like a lot. They don’t have to worry about him knocking her up, plus he frequently sides with them when the girl makes unwise decisions about her life.

On the short-lived “Committed,” Valerie Harper doesn’t like any of her son’s girlfriends. She bemoans, “Oh, why couldn’t you have been gay?!” I read that actor Tori Spelling prayed for a gay son. On the now-cancelled sitcom, “Sean Saves the World,“ Sean Hayes’ character was a gay (no surprise there), divorced man with a teenaged daughter. His mother, played by Linda Lavin, not only accepted her only son’s being gay (he was also out at work), she helped him with his love life and tried to set him up with dates with other guys.

On the sitcom “Mom,” the character of Anna Faris’ pregnant, teenaged daughter is thinking of putting up her baby for adoption after it’s born. “Violet” finds a gay male couple who want to adopt, but the baby daddy’s parents–judgmental, staunch fundamentalists–have also expressed interest in taking the child. Violet expresses her opinion. “I don’t want this baby to be raised by religious fanatics. I want him to be raised by homosexuals!“ Attagirl!

Let’s hope that other parents will finally come around to acceptable tolerance. A young, gay man called home and told his Jewish mother that he had decided to give up his gay lifestyle because he had met a wonderful woman and wanted to marry her. He told his mother that he thought that she would be happier, since he knew that his being gay had been very disturbing to her. She responded that she was indeed delighted and asked tentatively, “I suppose it would be too much to hope that your intended is Jewish?” He told her that not only is the girl Jewish, but is from a wealthy Beverly Hills family. The mother, overjoyed by this news, then asked, “What’s her name, son?” He answered, “Monica Lewinsky.” There is a long pause, then his mother asked, “Uh, Harold, what happened to that nice Catholic boy you were dating a while ago?”

[Related articles: Conspiracy Theory, Pt. II–The AIDS Epidemic; Sexism and Gender Issues; Jesus H. Christ; Let’s Have an Outing; Marry, Marry, Quite Contrary; On Being Gay; Parenting 101]

Crime and Punishment

Our American justice system is supposed to be based on the premise that everyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. If that were only the case. It’s really the exact opposite. The fact of the matter is that a person always is presumed guilty until proven innocent. If that weren’t how it is in reality, then people wouldn’t be arrested, detained in jail indefinitely, and required to stand trial in order to clear themselves. People go on trial in order to try to prove their innocence, not their guilt. We must be already presuming that they are guilty, or else they wouldn’t be there, would they?

People tend to make up their own minds about the accused anyway, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence or even the outcome of the trial. Look at the O.J. Simpson case, for example. As soon as the murders occurred and O.J. was arrested as the sole suspect, people were already saying that he was guilty. That early on when we knew next to nothing about the murders, my friends were telling me, “I know that he did it!” How do you know? I asked. You didn’t actually see him do it. The media and press pretty much agreed. They told us that he was guilty even before the trial began. Then even when the verdict came in “Not Guilty,” there are many of those who still think that he did it. So even though the trial supposedly proved his innocence, people are still upset about it, saying that he got away with murder and criticizing the jury for rendering the wrong verdict.

For the record, I am one who had, for the whole time, always maintained O.J.’s innocence, as I didn’t see him do it and I can’t prove that he did. But as time has passed, public opinion has swayed me to think that he probably is guilty. Although after viewing the recent TV miniseries “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” (2016), which was a dramatic re-enactment of the entire case, I have come to the conclusion that the jury did render a fair verdict. I, too, have reasonable doubt about it.

The testimony, or rather lack thereof, of L.A. police officer Mark Fuhrman was a deciding factor, in my opinion. Fuhrman was put on the witness stand on two occasions. The first time he out and out lied when asked if he had ever used the N-word in the past year or so, but at the time they couldn‘t prove that he was lying. O.J.’s defense team later discovered from recorded evidence that Fuhrman had in fact uttered the word many times in his duties as a cop. So when he was put back on the stand the second time and asked the same question, so as not to commit further perjury, he refused to answer “on the grounds that it may incriminate me.” But to me, when somebody does that, they must be somehow guilty of the accusation or else they would answer, wouldn’t they? To keep from lying, just don’t answer the question. When Fuhrman then refused to answer any questions posed to him, including this one: “Is the L.A. police department guilty of planting or manipulating any evidence to frame Mr. Simpson?” by his not answering in the negative, he is saying, “Yeah, we did try to frame him.”

Then there was the matter of O.J.‘s blood found at the murder scene and whether it was planted there. The police had a full vial of his blood taken from him after his arrest. The person who had the blood sample took it with him to the crime scene, and later it was discovered that some of the blood from the vial was missing! When asked what happened to the missing blood, the reply was, “It must have spilled out somewhere.” Or it could have been poured out somewhere! If they were all so sure that O.J. had committed the murders, why would they need to plant evidence to help make their case? So it was the perjured and non-responsive testimony and tampered evidence that created the reasonable doubt. The jury had to come up with the Not Guilty verdict. That is how I would have voted.

My dissatisfaction with the whole thing, however, is, officially the case is still unsolved. The question still remains, if O.J. didn’t do it, then who did? The best way to clear a wrongly-accused defendant is to reveal the real culprit, or at least present other possible suspects, which during all that time they never did. Simpson’s own lawyer, Robert Shapiro, suggested that more than one knife were used in the killings and that there were more than one person involved. Even if O.J. is one of them, maybe he did not act alone. Since O.J. did serve nine years time in prison for another lesser offense, if he is in fact guilty of the murders, I think that justice eventually has been served. Do you know about O.J.’s previous web site: OJ/(slash)Nicole.com?

Why do so many murders go unsolved? Because they are not all properly investigated. And why is that? If the authorities don’t care enough about the victim, they won’t do much about it. Why do many convicted murderers get acquitted? They get clever lawyers who know how to work around the system to their advantage. It depends on who the criminal is, who the victim is and how much money the defendant has to give to their lawyers. Truth, fairness and justice are only incidental. In this way, our judicial system is greatly flawed with many defects. It could be effective and virtually foolproof if everybody played fairly and always told the absolute truth. But there are those who constantly abuse and manipulate the system. Witnesses give false testimony, even intentionally lie under oath, and defendants are sometimes victims of mistaken identity. With all the plea-bargaining, loopholes and lawyers’ tricks that are used, criminals who have been proven guilty get off scot-free all the time, and innocent people are always being convicted, incarcerated and even executed.

A guy is on trial for murdering his wife. But even though he confessed, after a police officer found her corpse in the trunk of his car, he is acquitted because the cop had pulled him over without “probable cause,” therefore anything that was discovered after the fact is inadmissible. What?! So although everybody knows that he is guilty, he gets away with it. A lot depends on how rich or poor the client is. If one has enough money, they can buy any defense. Even corrupt judges have been paid off to render favorable verdicts.

I bring even the jury system itself into question. They always say that it’s a “jury of your peers,” but that’s another hypocritical lie! It’s hardly ever the case. A peer is defined as “one that is of equal standing with another; one belonging to the same societal group, based on age, grade or status.” If a poor black kid from the urban ghetto is on trial for something, and his jury is made up of upper-middle-class to rich, suburban, white folks, how are they this boy’s peers? He doesn’t have anything in common with those people, as far as his social status goes. How can they judge him fairly when they don’t know anything about his life or how he came to be in the situation he is in?

Not so long ago in the South, when juries were made up entirely of white men—some, if not all, of them belonged to the Klan—would be the ones passing judgment on some black person on trial, that is, if the poor bloke even made it to trial. There is only one way it could turn out. They never get people from the same neighborhood or income bracket as the defendant they’re hearing. They might be too sympathetic and unwilling to convict an actual peer. That would defeat their purpose, wouldn’t it? It turns out that they are really a jury of their peers, not the defendant’s. They become the object of “peer pressure” and are compelled or encouraged to go along with the consensus, even if one or more jurors want to vote Not Guilty.

Poor Rubin “Hurricane” Carter just couldn’t get a break. According to the movie The Hurricane (1999), starring Denzel Washington, Rubin was sent to juvenile jail for 10 years when he was only 11-years-old, for defending himself against an adult child molester, whom he stabbed with a knife to stop the man from throwing him over a cliff. He didn’t even kill the guy. But the white man pressed charges, and of course they took his word over the black boy’s. Then when Rubin got out of this prison and became a professional boxer, he again was wrongfully convicted of a triple murder this time and sentenced to life imprisonment! All the evidence against him was fabricated, as there was no real proof that he had done anything. After serving 30 years (!) he was granted another trial which cleared him of all charges, and he was finally set free. But that was 40 years of his life of wrongful incarceration! I find that utterly shameful.

Although the court system is not perfect, I would hate to be one of the mistakes in judgment, especially if my life depended upon it. Some juries have concluded that a defendant is guilty based solely on eyewitness testimony. I don’t consider that real proof in convicting somebody, especially when there is no other real evidence connecting them to the crime except that one person’s account. Circumstantial evidence is not always reliable or positive proof. Since they weren’t there, jury members tend to base their decision on what is learned during the trial. But suppose that witness is mistaken or intentionally lies about what went down? I wouldn’t want to be responsible for sending an innocent person to prison or to be executed.

In November 2013 (21-years-old at the time of conviction) Ryan Ferguson was cleared of murder after spending almost ten years in prison, after two witnesses finally admitted that they both lied on the witness stand when they accused Ferguson of the crime. And this was a young white man, too, from a nice, middle-class family. So it’s not only poor blacks who get the shaft. It can happen to anybody, it seems. Now suppose Ferguson had received the death penalty before he was exonerated?

There have been many unfortunates–too many, in my opinion–who were executed and then afterwards it was discovered and proved that the poor chap was innocent. How can they convict, let alone, execute anybody based solely on unsubstantiated hearsay and supposition? That’s no real proof of anything. Did anybody actually see them do it, or did they confess?

I wish it were like the TV murder dramas where the real killer is revealed by the end by proving his guilt along with a confession. There would be no need for a trial then. Like TV’s “Murder, She Wrote,” for example (still in syndication), Jessica Fletcher discovers who the murderer is by the end of the episode, and with law enforcement present, they will proceed to admit that they are the killer and will tell them how and why they it. I always want to tell them, ‘Why are y’all confessing to Jessica and telling her all your business? She ain’t nobody!’

Look at how much time and money is saved by doing that. But then the lawyers wouldn’t get their cut, would they? I realize that trials and the whole justice system is all a business. There is always bail, fines and court fees implemented. For all those involved, their very jobs and livelihood depend on arrests and convictions and “due process of the law,” regardless of the outcome. If there is no trial, then there is no show and less to no pay.

Here is something that always gives me pause. How can they convict someone of murder when they don’t have the body of the supposed murdered victim? They can’t find the body so the defendant must have killed him, right? That’s no real proof of anything, only supposition. Did they even look for the missing person? They have to be somewhere. Even if the body was completely disposed of, that’s still no real proof. Maybe you can’t find it because the person is not really dead, perhaps, only hiding out somewhere. People have been known to fake their own death, sometimes even to frame somebody. I would still need undeniable proof in order to convict somebody. I consider the lack of habeus corpus to be reasonable doubt in itself. You show me the undeniably-dead body, and then build your case against somebody, not the other way around.

There is also the “nut role” defense or testimony, where a testifying witness conveniently doesn’t remember or recall what is being asked them. That way, they can’t be charged with perjury, because they are not intentionally lying–they just don’t recall what went down, you see. That tactic would create reasonable doubt for me. How can I know for sure what really happened when the primary eyewitnesses “don’t” even remember?

It’s been reported that up to 136,000 persons at any given time are serving time in prison for crimes that they did not commit. That is a frightening realization. And of course, this is no accident either. It has been revealed that certain penal facilities, like New York’s Rikers Island, for instance, recruit people to incarcerate so that they can keep the place open and continue to receive funding, and the wardens and guards can keep their jobs. Unfortunately and intentionally, it is your poor blacks who are targeted and arrested for the most minor of offenses, sometimes even made-up offenses, then are relegated to the prison and held there indefinitely, because their bail is set so high they cannot possibly pay it. It’s a despicable racket which is still being allowed to continue.

I am always hearing about how the American justice system is the best in the world. But you will pardon me if I don’t agree. With those disturbing statistics of wrongful convictions, my faith and trust in the courts is less than positive, certainly far from being the best. As I, myself, have been a victim of unfair court proceedings, I’m sure that other unfortunate individuals who have been abused by the system would readily concur with my assessment. These fast-talking lawyers confuse and manipulate juries so well that they don’t know what the truth is most of the time, and the lawyers don’t even care. It’s just a game with them, after all, and their main objective is to win their case at all costs, to hell with truth and justice. It’s all about who is the better player. Therefore, the ultimate purpose of a trial is to determine grounds for punishment, which in turn is decided by judgmental human beings who are guided by their own biases and opinions, which don’t necessarily have anything to do with the truth.

Sometimes the wrong charge presented to a jury will render an unjust verdict. Those cops in the Rodney King case were not charged with attempted murder, like they should have been, but some lesser charge, like nervousness or something, and the jury had to rule on the charge that they were given, so they all got off with a lighter sentence. Christian Brando, Marlon’s son, killed a man in premeditated, cold blood, but his lawyer got him to plead “voluntary manslaughter,” which is considered a less-serious charge, I guess, than first-degree murder. I don’t see any difference in those two terms. The result is the same. Somebody is dead by intentional means. And then young Brando served only half of his 10-year term.

What is the legal time-limit on so-called premeditation? Did they plan to kill that person a year, a week, a day, an hour or a minute before they did it? Why should it matter when or whether it was planned or not? “But I didn’t mean to kill him. We were struggling and he accidentally fell on my knife.” So you were brandishing a knife that you didn’t intend to use? When you pushed your pregnant wife down the stairs, on the spur of the moment, you see, you didn’t mean to kill her? You were just trying to make her miscarry? Oh, well, then. I think that when someone is responsible for another person’s death, they are guilty, regardless of their intent. Whether they meant it or not doesn’t change the outcome.

I think that attempted crimes should hold the same weight as actual execution. If a person tries to kill somebody but the victim survives, it shouldn’t make the charge less serious. If murder is defined by intent, he intended to kill his wife; she just didn’t die. So shouldn’t attempted murder have the same penalty as actual murder? In the 1936 Fritz Lang drama Fury, innocent traveler, Spencer Tracy, who is thought to be guilty of a kidnapping, is targeted by a lynch mob in a small town. While held in custody in the local jailhouse, the mob sets it afire with the intent to burn the prisoner therein alive. But Tracy escapes, and out of revengeful anger he decides to bring the mob participants to justice. Now although they shouldn’t be convicted of actual murder, they are at least guilty of burning the jailhouse down with the intent to kill. Just because he didn’t die doesn’t change the situation. So it would be murder only if he had actually died in the fire?

Then there is the person who kills the wrong person by mistake. If first-degree murder is deemed to have intent attached to it, if they didn’t intend to kill that person, should they be held accountable, even though they did kill somebody else instead? “I didn’t mean to kill her, Your Honor. I was aiming at that other bitch!” “Oh, well, then.” And what about the person who “kills” someone who is already dead? I mean that they didn’t realize that the person was dead when they shot them or stabbed them or bludgeoned them with something. Should that person be absolved because they didn’t really kill anybody, although they certainly meant to?

I don’t like the “insanity defense” either. You know, when a remorseless killer is found “not guilty by reason of insanity.“ Well, so what if the guy is crazy, temporarily or otherwise? I think there is some degree of mental ill-health when anybody kills another person. That’s no excuse to let them off the hook. If they are really sick, then hie them to a facility for the criminally insane. Don’t exonerate them of their crime. They still committed murder and should be held responsible.

I heard of a man who was convicted of the attempted murder of his wife and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. When his parole came up at 12 years, he swore to his parole board that when he got out, he would “finish the job” on his wife. Now, isn’t that a good enough reason to keep his butt in there? If he is freely admitting to a future crime, then apparently he has not been properly rehabilitated, has he? How can they ever let him out, knowing that? There are those, too, who, when they are released from prison, will attempt to exact revenge on those who were responsible for putting them away. They think that they are above the law and shouldn’t have had to pay for what they did, and how dare you do your job as a prosecutor or jurist to see justice done. You need to pay!

There are certain areas in some major cities that experience regular incidents of black-on-black crimes, including murder. One example is my own hometown of South Bend, Indiana. When I was growing up there in the ’50s and ’60s, as far as we all knew, our neighborhood was virtually crime-free. There were no vandalism, robberies or burglaries, we didn’t even have to lock the house when we went out. Everybody respected each other’s property and privacy. So I grew up with a sense of safety and security, a peaceful, carefree existence. A good 20 years later, however, during the ’70s and ’80s, things had changed quite drastically. Drug use and dealing had entered the picture, and my once-secure neighborhood eventually turned into a crime-ridden, black ghetto.

My sister and her husband were living in that same house during that time, and their two daughters were still young children. My brother-in-law, Sam, came home from work one day and found bullet holes in the front of the house, I suppose the result of a drive-by shooting. What if my nieces had been out in the front yard playing that day? It was then that they decided to move, afraid for their lives. They moved to a fabulous house in a crime-free area on the outskirts of town.

Only two blocks away from where our family homestead was located, became known as “The Block,” an unmonitored, regular criminal hangout. My mother used to report to me that there were almost daily news reports of shootings on that corner, and little or nothing was ever done about it, which is why it was able to occur so often. There were never any investigations or if there were, nobody was ever convicted. People soon learned that they could kill anybody they wanted to and get away with it. Since it was just blacks killing other blacks, the police department didn’t seem to care. I’m sure that if it was happening in the predominately-white areas of town, they certainly would have taken notice. The city of Chicago is experiencing the same sort of violence. They are daily killings of black youths from gangs and other factions, and the local police department and even the mayor are not doing a damn thing about it.

You must be familiar with the concept of cause-and-effect. I find it interesting that as a result of the case of Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 which legalized abortion, there was a major decline in American crime during the ‘90s. The theory is that a lot of women stopped having unwanted babies that they didn’t have the means to support, and since these are the children who are more likely to resort to crime as they get older, the fact that they were never born, it spared the community of their criminal influence. In general, wanted children with loving, responsible parents of financial means are more inclined to grow up to be law-abiding and with a good moral sense. But now it’s a generation later, and it looks as if things are back the way they were before.

Many criminal acts are money motivated, like robbery, embezzlement, extortion and blackmail. The persons who commit any of these crimes usually have some kind of paying job, but it’s apparently not enough. Even those who have a lot of money always seem to want more. Whether they have a regular salary or not, some willingly resort to crime rather than finding an honest job or just be satisfied with the job they have. I’ve never been a greedy person. I’ve never made as much money as I would like, but I have managed to make do with whatever I earn. I have never considered resorting to crime to get something that I don’t have. I learned long ago that I have to get along without certain things. It’s a sacrifice, but I just do with what I got. Therefore, I contend that crime commitment is a choice. Nobody absolutely has to break the law. They just choose to do so. Suppose I wanted a car. I can’t afford to buy one, so why don’t I just steal one? No, I will just do without it instead.

In theory, laws are set up as moral guidelines for society, and the threat of consequential punishment is supposed to be an incentive always to obey the law. But since incarceration and even execution are not effective deterrents, apparently, why even bother with trials and convictions? What good are they (except for the aforementioned monetary compensation involved)? The laws themselves and the ensuing punishments have never prevented people from doing exactly what they want to do. Do you honestly think that a person who would dare to rob a bank today actually thinks that they will never get caught? People get desperate enough and are willing to take the chance.

I’ve heard TV ads that proclaim, “If you break the law, you will go to jail.“ Not necessarily. We all break laws and commit crime everyday; we just don’t always get caught. We jaywalk, double-park, litter, use illegal drugs, commit assault, cheat on our income taxes, whatever, but consider them only harmless misdemeanors, if even that. I don’t commit robbery, murder or sell crack to schoolchildren—not because it’s against the law, but because it’s wrong and it hurts people. Since scruples and ethics are not governed by laws, people do terrible things to each other all the time and still manage to remain within the law. So if we don’t get caught, accused or convicted of something, is it a crime?

There is a comedy film called Meet the Blacks (2016), starring Mike Epps (there may be others with a similar premise), in which the city of Beverly Hills, California implements “The Purge.” That’s when all matter of crime–theft, physical assault, even murder–is allowed for a 12-hour period. I wonder how we all would fare in a real situation as that. It would be a test of human morality, wouldn’t it? Would certain people use the opportunity to rob, steak. commit rape and get rid of each other with no legal ramifications, or would these same people refrain from committing any kind of crime because it’s wrong?

The current U.S. prison population (as of this writing) is 2,400,000, the largest in the world, and juvenile detention is up to nearly 7 million! Something must be terribly wrong when 7 million of our children are serving time in jail. Of course, some of that number are probably innocent, but we should assume that most of them are not. That still is way too many. Then, too, we know that there are many more who should be in prison but are not. We need to look at the bigger picture. If our world necessitates the maintenance of jails and prisons to confine our social miscreants, then the main problem must be the lack of human morality itself. We all should be taught to feel reproach and culpability for our wrongful actions and then have the resolution to punish ourselves, which some of us tend to do anyway out of remorse. Fortunately, many of us already harbor enough inherent guilt and have a good sense of right and wrong that prevents us from doing intentional wrong in the first place. That is perhaps why there is not a lot more crime in the world than there already is.

Recently, upon watching a drama about art forgery, it got me to thinking. Now I can understand so-called plagiarism to be an unethical indiscretion–attempting to pass off someone else’s work as your own, therefore taking the credit and remuneration–but in the case of someone copying a work of art, I have trouble finding the criminal element of that. A person who copies a famous painting does not claim it for their own glory or profit. They are most likely paid for the job, and what happens to the copy afterwards is out of this guy’s hands. Admitting to anybody that it is a fake sort of defeats the purpose. If someone chooses to pay a lot of money for a copy, thinking that it is an original, it’s not the forger’s doing.

Visual art is completely subjective. I think that art should be judged and regarded on its appearance appeal rather than who actually created it. It’s like with wearing apparel. If I like a certain garment, it doesn’t matter to me who made it. I don’t care about the name label on it if I like the product. So by the same token, if I like a certain painting, it doesn’t have to be the original. A reproduction will do me just fine. If they are charging more for it than I am willing to pay, then I just won’t buy it. Its authenticity is inconsequential. At any rate, I certainly don’t accuse the person who make the copy of committing a criminal act. The gift shops in art museums regularly sell reproductions of their acquisitions. I have one or two myself. I am sure that the ones responsible for creating all those reproductions are not considered forgers. It’s just their job, like anything else.

The same can be said of imitation jewelry and fur. The manufacturers of rhinestones, cubic zirconia, fake furs and such are not considered forgers. They only reproduce less-expensive facsimiles of precious gems and animal pelts. When we know that they are not the real thing but go on and buy them anyway, we don’t accuse the makers for giving us a cheaper option.

Another unfair, victimless crime, in my opinion, is the receiving of stolen property. When we buy or are given anything, how can we know for sure whether it was stolen or not? People shop at flea markets, thrift shops, street fairs, garage, yard and rummage sales on a regular basis. Might any of those items had been stolen from somebody else before they were resold? How is the innocent buyer at fault? I’m sure that many of the items at pawn shops, too, are stolen. I expect it is where years ago my burglarized property ended up. Even if you know that you are in the possession of a hot item, why is that a bad thing? I need a certain thing and somebody is able to get it for me for real cheap. How does that make me the criminal? I have a friend who actually had to serve prison time on the charge of receiving stolen property. Of course, the person who did the actual stealing is nowhere to be found.

In a perfect world there would be no crime. And since everything that we do in life is a choice, it would mean that every single person would make a conscious effort never to do wrong and have the moral sense always to treat each other righteously. There is a religious philosophy that contends that if you even think about committing a wrong, it is the same as actually doing it. But then that would confirm the fact that we are all sinners. Who has never in their life thought of doing something that they know is not right, even though they probably would never actually do it? I don’t agree that thinking and acting upon our thoughts are the same thing. Otherwise, we’d all be locked up somewhere!

I find a certain irony in being incarcerated. Although confined against their will, it gives prisoners a kind of freedom to do whatever they want, in spite of the house rules. They can speak their mind and exhibit any personal quirks or fetishes that they may have. They can commit any crime, including theft, assault, rape and even murder, the penalty for such unlawful acts being prison time. But since they are already there, what’s stopping them and what is anybody going to do about it? What do you do in the case of a person serving life, for instance? Extend their sentence? Putting someone in solitary confinement is not such a terrible deterrent for some. Take me, for example. Solitary, in itself, would not be a punishment, as I am used to spending time with myself, sometimes several days on end. I prefer it, in fact, instead of sharing a cell with somebody (unless he‘s my boyfriend and lover). Even if I am deprived of any reading material, with my extensive music repertoire, I would just sing and recite monologues to pass the time. It would be a punishment only for the person who hates ever being alone. Indeed, there are far more things that we are not allowed to do here in the outside world than are forbidden to do in prison.

People rally for the death penalty as if that will change the situation. It doesn’t undo anything. It won’t bring the murdered victims back to life and it won’t stop the acts of murder and mayhem from ever occurring again. All it does is stop that particular person from committing any more crimes, but it also prevents them from doing anything constructive or socially beneficial. Moreover, death is not a real punishment, in my opinion. A punishment should teach a lesson, let the person know that they have done something wrong and acknowledge personal atonement for it. One cannot experience conscious retribution while dead. For those doomed prisoners who want to die, it’s not a punishment for them either, as you are giving them what they want.

Although I am more for self-punishment than penalties imposed by others, I have some alternative suggestions to execution. Why not keep doomed killer convicts alive and attempt some sort of rehabilitation, or if they are a hopeless case, at least put them through a living hell? Instead of killing these people or confining them to indoor prisons, why not force them to do hard labor, for example? I believe in constructive punishment. Let’s make use of the available manpower in a positive way instead of stifling it or eliminating it altogether. We need roads built and maintained, buildings constructed, and how about making them clean up this filthy City? The punishment is that they will be doing it without any pay. What is the fun or reward of undesirable, backbreaking work without any monetary compensation? The wardens wouldn’t have to follow Union regulations, so they could deny the prisoners regular breaks and make them work much more than only 7 hours a day. They would get time out only for meals and sleep. That’s the same as slavery.

But in this case, it is imposed as an individual punishment for committing a crime, not automatically foisted upon innocent people who only happen to be of a particular ethnic group. That seems like fitting punishment to me. “But that’s taking good paying jobs away from those who want to do that kind of work,” you may say. Well, they didn’t consider that fact or seem to mind when it was we blacks doing it for all those hundreds of years, for no pay! It might even create some incentive for people to do right. Do you want to have to work for no pay, or do the same type of work and get paid well for it? Then stay out of trouble and obey the law!

For the real hardened criminals, deny them any recreation, exercise, hobbies, leisure time or any companionship, but subject them only to work and isolation. Deny them of their basic human rights. There are too many perks in the prisons nowadays. Some inmates have it so good in prison that they never want to leave. That goes back to the notion that prison affords more liberties than what we are allowed here on the outside. Men with serious medical conditions have been known to want to go to prison to get the free medical treatment that would be available to them and that they have been denied outside because of their lack of health insurance, for example. Also, prison inmates should be subject to regular psychological therapy to help rehabilitate them and try to prepare them to reenter civilized society.

For the ambitious, hopefully-rehabilitative, I would consider an education program which offers academic courses and career training for those who have so far lacked them and now desire to better themselves when they are eventually paroled. Their lack of proper education is one of the reasons why many of them wound up in prison in the first place. Too, their counseling sessions would teach them remorse for what they have done wrong so that they won’t do it again when they get out. Every case being different, each should be handled accordingly. At any rate, I don’t think that anything is accomplished by putting convicted criminals to death.

For violent wrongdoing other than murder, I could go along with letting the punishment fit the crime. For the man who likes to rape women, for instance, the courts could enlist a man, who’s bigger and stronger than the other guy, to rape him. For battery cases, hire somebody to beat the shit out of the abuser. Let them know how it feels, what they put their victims through. I do realize, though, that most of them already know what it’s like, being probable victims of abuse themselves when they were children. But maybe it would serve as an unpleasant reminder to them. Look, you didn’t like being beaten, so how dare you put somebody else through the same thing, especially someone whom you claim to love?

Be advised that I am offering these suggestions only to those offenders who have been proven without any doubt that they did what they have been accused of, by actual confession or undisputed eyewitness account of their crime. I realize that many prisoners serving time are actually innocent, having been convicted on unverified circumstantial evidence, mishandled trials because of incompetent lawyers, and by manipulating and abusing the justice system. I certainly wouldn’t want to impose such harsh punishments on those innocent convicts. It’s enough that they are in there at all.

I have always enjoyed lawyer shows and courtroom drama on TV and the movies, and I watch them with appreciation and insight. I am greatly disillusioned by our American court system. It’s a farce. It’s all just a big game with the lawyers, and it’s all about money and winning in any way possible. They unabashedly play with and destroy people’s lives in the process, often without any remorse or conscience. I rankle and bristle when I hear two lawyers plea-bargaining on behalf of a client. They sound as if they are haggling with an antique dealer. “I’d like to give your guy 20 years in prison.” “How about 10?” “Fifteen and you’ve got a deal. I‘ll even throw in the possibility of an early parole with good behavior.” But they are not the ones serving the time! I hate how they manipulate a person’s life like that, especially the innocent ones who haven’t done anything to merit it.

I’ve heard lawyers and judges, when deciding upon bail or punishment, will take the defendant’s criminal record into consideration. “Since this is the defendant’s first offense, I will set bail at only $10,000.” So this guy has been convicted of burglary, but he has no priors, so we will go easy on him this time. If he does it a couple more times, however, we’ll have to be a little more strict. “This is only my client’s first bank robbery, Your Honor.” “Oh, well, then.”

And I hope that those clichéd objections uttered in filmed courtroom dramas are not common real life occurrences. “Objection, Your Honor! Argumentative.” Well, isn’t that what lawyers do, argue their cases for their clients? If somebody says something that’s not true or inaccurate, I expect my lawyer to argue the point. Isn‘t that their job? “We will now have your closing arguments.” Hello? I find that to be a stupid objection, but nobody ever calls them on it. “That’s hearsay, Your Honor. Not admissible.” So any testimony made not under oath is not admissible, even though it may be quite pertinent and could solve the case? Isn’t anything uttered by a person in someone else’s presence hearsay? I think that all testimony should be allowed, no matter where or who it came from. Let the jury decide whether it’s valid and to believe it or not. That’s why they’re there, isn’t it?

“The jury will disregard the witness’ last statement.” Why should we? They said it, so let’s deal with it. What they said could be entirely relevant. “I object! Council is badgering the witness.” Well, so what? If that will get them to tell the truth, I don’t care if the lawyer goes a little rough on their witnesses. Some people need badgering. The D.A. is trying to prosecute an innocent defendant but he‘s so concerned about a witness‘ feelings? “This witness is not on trial!” They’re not? Then maybe they should be. Why are they testifying? All participants in a trial are “on trial.” If I know that my client is innocent and I think that this witness knows more than they’re telling—they could even be the guilty party—then I should be able to ask them anything that I want to.

With Ben Matlock, for example, his prosecutors were always objecting to him, like he was wasting time with pointless interrogation. “Mr. Matlock, what is the relevance of this line of questioning?” Well, if you’ll shut up and let the man do his cross-examination, you will see the relevance! Ben has the real killer on the stand and he is relating to the court how this person committed the murder. He has to explain the situation to the jury so that they will understand what happened. He can’t just cut to the chase without first setting the scene. If he did that, someone would ask, “But how did he do it? I don’t understand.” Well, that’s what he was trying to explain when you interrupted him!

The prosecutor jumps up and says, “That’s pure speculation!” Well, since Ben’s client is innocent of the crime, the D.A.’s case against them is also speculation, isn’t it? He didn’t actually see them do it. It’s all circumstantial. So since the prosecution has apparently come up with its own erroneous scenario of the crime, the defense should be allowed to present their version. Allow the jury to hear another take on the case, so that they can make an informed decision. Again, that’s why they are there.

Ben seldom lost a case, but they were always second-guessing him and treating him like he didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He never asked a question that he did not already know the answer to. That way he knew when people were lying. “Are you acquainted with ‘John Doe,‘ the victim?” “No, sir. I’ve never heard of the man.” “So then, why did you and he make several phone calls to each other the very week that he was murdered?” Why would they lie about something that can so easily be confirmed, obviously committing perjury? Just say, “Yes, I knew him,“ and leave it at that. One can answer a simple question without admitting to anything incriminating.

So then after Ben lays out who did it and how the murder was committed, the D.A. and judge insist that he prove it. Why does he need to prove it? The prosecutor didn’t prove the defendant’s guilt. Isn’t it supposed to be, innocent until proven guilty? All Ben needs to do is establish reasonable doubt, which he has already done. If you want proof, why don’t you do a more thorough investigation this time, just as Ben did, and get the proof yourself?

A testifying witness is sworn in to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.“ Some won’t volunteer any information unless directly called on it. That “pleading the Fifth” also serves as a convenient loophole for the witness, discussed earlier, as it creates reasonable doubt for the defendant. If we don’t get the answers to pertinent questions about the case, then how can we render a fair, informed verdict? I still will have reasonable doubt. There are too many rules of protocol in the courtroom. How can attorneys get at the truth when the judges and opposing council are constantly tying their hands with petty and unwarranted objections and restrictions?

Here is a little-known historical note that you may find interesting. You already know that modern courts of law administer the oath by instructing the witness to place their right hand (why the right?) on the Bible. But before there was the Bible to swear on, the solemn method of taking an oath demanded the putting of one’s hand on the penis of the person to whom the promise, statement or vow was made. As the organ of reproduction, a man’s genitals were regarded as his most sacred possession, and to expose them to view, caused not shame but awe. Therefore swearing by, and literally on, the penis presupposed extra sanctity and inviolable obligation. The meaning of the procedure implied that should he who was taking the oath ever break it, his “issue,” the yet unborn generations, would punish such disloyalty and dishonoring of a pledge.

Of course, later periods, regarding this system, or even its very recollection, offensive, changed the Biblical terminology from penis to the thigh or loins. This also implies that at one time only men could testify in a court of law, just as juries, too, used to be all-male. The tradition survives, at least etymologically, in the Latin word for witness—testis, and from that we get the words testament, testes, testicles, testify, testimonial and testimony.

I would love to be able to make a controversial statement someday, if I am ever required to testify under oath in a court of law, to be sworn in by grabbing hold of my crotch with my left hand and taking the solemn oath to tell the truth. Why should I have to swear on a Bible? That doesn’t mean anything to me. My dick means more to me than some ol’ Bible. If the judge protests, I’ll just point out that what I did was the original basis of the procedure. Let them try to argue with that.

Of course, I would probably be cited with contempt for such a stunt. So, I’m a rebel! I am reminded of Mae West in the hilarious courtroom scene in She Done Him Wrong (1933), when Mae, on trial for being accused of jilting her several suitors, is actually “holding court” and throwing shade on her accusers. The judge asks her, “Are you trying to show contempt for this court, young lady?” Mae replies, “No, Judge, I am trying my best not to show my contempt!”

The swearing in of witnesses is pointless anyway, due to the fact that people still lie under oath. A truly honest person will tell the truth anyway. They don’t have to take an oath. By the same token, a person will lie if it suits their purpose. The lawyers and judges know that. That’s why they came up with the crime of perjury. The last time I was on jury duty, one of the lawyers actually warned us that just because a witness swears on the Bible, we shouldn’t let that influence whether they are being truthful on the stand or not. So I said to him, ‘Then what’s the point of swearing people in?’ He had to help me say. He thought it was pointless and unnecessary, too.

I have heard police officers deliberately lie on the witness stand, in order to disparage and convict an innocent defendant. When the defendant’s friends actually tell the truth about what really happened, which differs from the cops’ testimony, the judge chooses to believe the officers instead, even though they lied about everything. “That guy would say anything to help his friend.” Even if it’s the truth? So it’s like with everything else, people believe what they choose to believe, regardless of whether it’s actually true or not.

Tipping

I want to talk about the American custom of tipping. You know, it looks like everybody has their hands out these days. Why should we be expected to pay extra for certain services that people are already paid to do as their regular job? A gratuity is supposed to be a monetary reward given freely in appreciation for some special favor above and beyond normal service. So if I just paid this cab driver for taking me to my destination, why must I give him some more money for taking me to my destination—especially when he has added on night surcharge, tolls and gotten us lost while taking the roundabout route? I just paid my barber his normal fee for giving me just a haircut. So now I should give him some extra money for giving me just a haircut? The pizza boy is paid for delivering pizzas, so why should I pay him again for doing what his employer is paying him for?

I am assuming that nobody works for free, so if a doorman or bellhop is employed at a hotel, he must be getting some sort of salary. So their normal duties are the same things that the hotel guests give them tips for. A bellhop is hired to take guests’ bags to their rooms. That’s part of their job. So why should I pay him for taking my bags to my room?! The same goes for doormen and concierges. I guess people don’t realize that those hundreds (at some places, thousands) of dollars per day that they pay for a room or suite in somebody’s establishment, some of it is used to pay their employees’ salaries. So what you’re doing, in actuality, is paying these people twice for the exact same services.

My most recent vocal group, the New York Vagabonds, had the good fortune of performing on luxury cruise ships for 8 years (2005-12). We worked on Holland America, Norwegian, Regent and Royal Caribbean, for the most part. They have a particular racket going on Royal Caribbean. Whereas the other cruise lines do encourage the guests to tip the crew for exceptional service, Royal Caribbean actually adds a daily pro-rated surcharge to their account, whether the service is exceptional or not or whether you even receive a particular service. They want you to tip your stateroom attendants and your dining room waiters (three in all). And it’s not what amount you choose to give them. They suggest that it be ten dollars a day for each of them. Forty dollars a day for a seven-day cruise, that comes to $280 per person!

Now even though we are guest entertainers, therefore employees ourselves, they expect us to honor this “gratuity” system as well. I’m sorry, but that’s not right! Gabe, our leader, tells us that this cruise line pays us more than the others do, but if we end up giving back as much as $920 to the ship, then that‘s taking away from our would-be increased salary! “I’ll give you more money if you’ll give a good portion of it back.” What?! Besides, I have not been at all pleased with my stateroom attendants on some of the ships. They would close the curtain over my porthole at night (Why? Nobody’s peeking in). I like to see daylight when I awake in the morning. If I want the curtain closed, I will close it myself. What, am I helpless? They always moved my wastebasket from where I kept it–I want it over here where it is convenient to me–and they couldn’t even manage to deliver my daily schedule to my room the night before, so that I can plan my activities for the next day. They keep the schedules with them, so what’s the problem? I had to retrieve one from the front desk every day, which was not a convenience. Every locale on the ship requires a certain amount of travel to get to. I didn’t consider any of this outstanding service that I should pay extra for.

Still referring to Royal Caribbean, for every drink ordered on the ship, a “service charge” of over a dollar is added to your bill, which in itself can be considered a compulsory tip. It’s certainly not voluntary. They add it on automatically. You see, they don’t handle cash on the ships; everything is signed for to be added to your shipboard account. Now that they have your credit card number, you are at their mercy to be charged for anything, at their whim. At the bottom of your drink receipt is a space for supplying “an additional tip for outstanding service.” Do you believe those crooks?! All they did was bring me a drink. What is so “outstanding” about that? Isn’t that their very job? So the $8.00 I was just charged for this tiny cocktail isn’t enough that they have the audacity to ask for more money? And this is for every single drink, mind you, even sodas and juices. The only beverages they don’t charge you for is tap water, lemonade, coffee and tea, hot or iced. It’s a fact that people will try to get away with what you allow them to get away with.

I’ll bet you that whatever they pay these ships’ crew, it’s more than what I get for my job. They get their regular salary–I mean they are not working for nothing, they must be getting something–plus they get all that extra money from the guests, I’m talking about thousands of passengers, on a daily basis! Don’t be crying the blues to me! They must be getting over! Since they live there on the ship, their room and board is provided for free, and they get to travel and see the world. The only time they get to spend any money is when they get into port and get off the ship, and they don‘t have to spend any money even then. I seldom buy anything while on a cruise. Whatever I need, I will bring it on with me. There are many crew members who don’t ever get to leave the ship, because they work all the time. So they must get to save almost everything that they make. I don’t have that luxury. I have rent and other monthly bills to pay. I certainly don’t feel sorry for those ship employees about whether or not they are underpaid.

If I were a rich man with unlimited amounts of money at my disposal, giving it away at will would not be that big a deal. I am quite generous when I have plenty of something to give. But as I am, and most of my life, have been on a fixed budget with an indefinite income, living from varying paycheck to paycheck, I have learned to be frugal and not to spend money unnecessarily. This freelance job I have today might be my last, for all I know. This way I have managed to live within my means and not to spend money that I don’t have.

I am a professional entertainer, as I‘ve told you. I don’t get paid what I think I’m worth, but I do receive something for my work, usually. I do, however, do things that most other performers don’t. When I was with The Flirtations, for example, and then with the Vagabonds, I would stay around after my shows to meet and greet my public, shake their hands, talk with them and sign autographs. That is certainly above and beyond the call of duty. I don’t have to do any of that, nor is it expected. And the people seem to appreciate it. I would prefer to go to my dressing room and change out of my hot, sweaty clothes. So why don’t I ever get tipped for the extra service that I provide my “customers/clients”? We should be put on the ships’ gratuity list, too, along with their other employees.

When female impersonators perform—oh, excuse me, I mean to say “gender illusionists”—most of them lip sync to recordings, and the patrons throw money at them and stuff it in their gowns. When I am on stage, I do my own singing with my own voice, but nobody gives me any extra money. I don’t mean it to sound like sour grapes, but if I’m not expected to be tipped for giving extra service over my regular duties, then all those other people should not expect tips for doing just their regular jobs. That’s all I’m saying.

But the biggest racket, I think, is in the food service business. In the olden days, a tip was given to the server at the end of a meal, maybe for being extra-courteous or super-efficient. The way it is now, at least in this country, a tip is pretty much mandatory, and in some places, is automatically added to the meal bill. Plus, the amount is determined by a percentage of the total check. Neither of these conventions have anything to do with the actual service rendered by the server. It all depends on the eating establishment and the menu prices. Dinner for two at $100 probably requires no more work from the server than dinner for two at $20. The incentive to give the best service is gone. The server doesn’t have to concern themself with what kind of service they give their customers. They can be as rude as they want, inefficient, and the food could be unsatisfactory, because they know that they will still get that tip.

I have eaten in restaurants with groups of people where the service was horrendous, and the food was just as bad, and at the end of the meal, I’ve had to sit there and watch my eating companions figure up the 15% (or 20%) tip to leave this incompetent boob. ‘What are you people doing?!’ Talk about aiding and abetting! But yet I’m “cheap” because I choose not to be a willing co-dependent. Why would this person bother to clean up their act if everybody continues to reward them for their inefficiency? If they would withhold the tip, it might compel the server to ask, “Was the service not to your satisfaction?” Then you can tell them, “No, it wasn’t. For one thing, you didn‘t come back once to refill my water glass. I need water throughout my meal. I asked you for mayonnaise for my burger and you took forever to bring it. I specifically asked for well-done, and it’s quite red inside. Did you even tell the cook how I wanted it? I wanted to drink my coffee with my dessert. I‘m finished eating it, so I don‘t need it now. It is possible to bring them both together, you know. How difficult is it to give us separate checks? Are you trying to save on pad paper or something? Why should we have to do all the required arithmetic?” I never make unreasonable demands on my servers. It’s what I do when I am preparing meals for myself. My requests are always part of their job to give me decent, satisfactory service.

Most of the blame, however, lies with the management of these restaurants. The problem is that waiters don’t get paid a decent enough wage, so it has to be supplemented by the tips they receive. So in reality, we patrons are paying these people’s salaries. In most cases now, these projected earnings from tips are what the servers’ hourly wage is based on, and they have to declare their tips as taxable income. I’m sorry, but that’s not a gratuity anymore. We are supplying the payroll for someone else’s employees! Think about it. That’s not our responsibility. These bosses should be required by law to pay their employees a fair salary (at least minimum wage—some don’t even get that), then they wouldn’t have to depend on what we give them to live on. So we, too, should report these paid wages as a business expense for a legitimate tax deduction.

My friend Lloyd and I eat at those buffet-style, self-service places a lot, where they employ waitpersons only to serve beverages and clear the tables after. Now these people expect to be tipped, too. I’m thinking, “Wong Foo” hired this woman. He should pay her for bringing me this glass of water! Or better yet, leave the water where I can get to it, so that I can pour my own. I don’t mind. I’m not that lazy. In the case of a Chinese-run buffet restaurant, the buspersons are often family members of the owners, who expect us customers to supplement their workers’ meager salaries, that is, if they are paying them anything at all. This way they get to keep all the money that they make, theirs as well as ours! I know for a fact that in some eating establishments the servers are required to turn over a portion of their daily tips to the management. So then, you are not really helping that poor, underpaid server, but putting more money into the pockets of their greedy bosses!

Another probable racket that I am suspicious about is that “handling” charge that we incur anytime we do mail order. I use the mail services often, the regular post office as well as United Parcel Service, and I am familiar with the rates and how much it costs to send things. This added fee is almost always more than it costs to send the item, especially since it’s apparently sent via Conestoga wagon, judging from the long time it takes to deliver it. So I’m wondering, who actually gets that extra fee? Like the servers and buspersons, are we unwittingly supplementing the salaries of the postal stevedores, too? I mean, isn’t handling the mail their very job? “Those guys back there are bitching for a raise again.” “Oh, yeah? Do you think the company will comply?” “Hell, no! We’ll make the naïve consumers pick up the slack. They won’t know the difference, suckers that they are.”

We know now that since it is possible to deliver ordered merchandise by mail without the shipping fees, they must be entirely optional. They don’t have to add on those charges, apparently. I regularly order merchandise from Amazon, and sometimes they will charge a $4.00 shipping fee for each item ordered and other times it’s waived. So it seems to be completely arbitrary. I know for a fact that some theaters and ticket outlets are running this sort of racket. What is this “service charge” added on whenever we purchase tickets for theatrical events or use an outlet? Well, I have news for you. All we are doing is tipping the ticket sellers. Again that extra money is used to supplement their incomes. With all the money they take in for Broadway shows and big concert events these days, don’t you think they could pay their employees out of that instead of our having to do so? I’m telling you, it’s minor extortion…and corporate greed!

Some of the local bars and “social clubs” hire young men to work the entrance door and operate the clothes check. There is a charge to get in, anywhere from $5 to $25, plus another charge for checking your coat. Now these guys expect to be tipped as well. Even if the manager doesn’t pay them anything for working there, he could give them one dollar out of every admission fee they receive. Even if they got only 200 patrons in one evening, that would still be a nice piece of change for them. I don’t have to know where all the money goes, but can’t they use some of it to pay their fucking employees?!

I am sure that a portion of the “offering” money and tithes that are collected from churchgoers every service are used to pay the salaries of the church’s working staff. I, however, don’t at all object to this practice, since I, as an employee, am on the receiving end this time. But as we are providing a needed service to these people—worshipping opportunities and musical enrichment—why shouldn’t they have to pay for it, churches’ being “non-profit organizations” and all that? But even with this, I receive only a regular paycheck. I am never tipped anything extra, like when I am asked to do a solo during the service that does not involve the other choir members. That requires preparation and rehearsal, so I am doing extra work and effort but getting paid the same as those doing less.

Now I don’t want to leave you the with the impression that I am against tipping, per se, because I’m not. I don’t mind at all throwing in a little extra to a friendly, cute waiter at a favorite eatery. But it should be my choice and my decision to do so, how much and when. What I do object to is compulsory tipping—being coerced to do it, people telling me when and how much I have to leave on the table or trying to make me feel guilty about it and judging me harshly if I don’t comply or if I don’t leave the amount that they decide I should.