Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Homophobia: It's A Disease

Homophobia isn't just an uncool thing people feel. It's a disease. It's a blight on our society and we need to all reach out to those who feel it, and try to cure them.

Members of the queer community-- gays, lesbians, bisexuals, the transgendered-- and their allies need to have the guts to confront homophobia where they find it. If people are making jokes at work, call them on it. If you see a kid picking on another and calling him a sissy or a fag, tell them why that's wrong. Engage in debate with those who say it's a choice. Challenge the notion of a "gay agenda." Support politicians who protect and try to extend our civil rights. Encourage artists to express their truest feelings.

Above all, realize this: all the gay pride in the world won't make a damn if straight people don't open up their minds and hearts and accord us the rights we want. Our future is in their hands, like it or not. We need as many allies as we can get.

For those who think the teasing and discrimination doesn't have an effect, read this piece that Abby posted on the MySpace bulletin board. Some of you may have read it already. If you haven't, take a minute, it's pretty powerful. I don't know if she wrote it, but thanks to her for sharing it. After you read it, pass it on to your straight friends. And ask them to do the same.

I am the boy who never finished high school, because I got called a fag everyday.

I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.

I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.

I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.

We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.

I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.

I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.

I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.

We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.

I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.

I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.

I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.

I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.

I am the woman who died when the EMTs stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual.

I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I didnt have to always deal with society hating me.

I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don't believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.

I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most, love.

I am the person ashamed to tell my own friends I'm a lesbian, because they constantly make fun of them.

I am the boy tied to a fence, beaten to a bloody pulp and left to die because two straight men wanted to "teach me a lesson."

It's time to end all this madness. Play with the gay, but educate the straight. My love and peace to all of you.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday Night Very Special

I just got back from the Sunday Night Special at the Lip. A lot of you may think I'm in the Lipstick Lounge every time the doors are open, but that's not so. I do spend a hellacious amount of time there, and an equally hellacious amount of time thinking about it when I'm not there. Sunday is usually my night to chill out at home.

But Jon Bozeman wanted me to come see him play there. I hooked him up with Cathey Stamps about six weeks ago, and he's been so excited about his gig. I love Jon's CD, so I figured I'd check him out live. I was not disappointed. My favorites from the album were really nicely done, all stripped-down and acoustic, with Stamps backing him up on percussion. Jon put out one song that really knocked the crowd out. It was called "Best of Me," and he has blogged the lyrics on his MySpace page. Check it out.

Also on the bill were Amy Loftus, whom I knew by reputation but hadn't heard, and our very own MIss Tasha Valentine. Tasha mentioned that she "hardly ever does anything acoustic," but I gotta tell ya, as much as I like her on Monday nights with her fired-up band, it was awesome to hear her powerful, soulful voice with just an acoustic guitar and percussion (granted it was Stamps and the formidable Wayne Avers from the Lipstick House Band). I'd like to hear more of that sound from her, more often. Wendy from 3AM also joined Tasha onstage for a song and provided beautiful harmony. 3AM was originally on the bill, but Ligaya's under the weather. I hope she gets better soon. If she needs some chicken-soup, or lemongrass soup or wonton soup or whatever it is those wily Filipinas like to eat, I'll bring her some.

The other nifty event of the evening was running into an old college chum, Laura, whom I hadn't seen since she graduated back in... well... a while ago. She's now living with her partner here in Nashville and hadn't changed much at all since I last saw her. Coolest thing about Laura that I remember is they shot this kinda lame movie, Making the Grade, on our college campus and she got to be a scene-stealing extra in it. I hope to see her back often at the Lip.

The point of all this is, make a point of coming to the Lounge on a Sunday night. Cathey puts on a great show every week, with a varying lineup of very talented artists. You should check it out.

And I know it's cold, but it's not as bad as it has been. Spring will spring soon enough. Put on a damn coat. Come on out and play!



Friday, March 24, 2006

Some of Our Best Friends Are Black

It's time for another little rant. Here's a conversation from the Lip last night that I found offputting and disturbing.

A patron who comes in from time to time-- a white, middle-class, unassuming gay male-- approached me, and we conversed for a minute. Then, it got ugly.

He: There sure are a lot of black people in here tonight.
(quizzically arching an eyebrow) And?
He: Just are, is all I'm saying.
Me: There are also a lot of white people.
He: Yeah, but that's normal.
Me: Black people in the bar aren't abnormal.
He: I'm not saying they are, it's just weird to see so many.
Me: Weird? Have we reached our limit? How many is too many?
He: I didn't say "too many." I said "a lot." There are a lot of them.
Me: Did you ever stop and wonder whether blacks think, "Ooh, there sure are a lot of white people in there!"
He: They probably do.
Me: Think it makes them nervous? Like it's making you?
He: I just don't want it to get rowdy.
Me: Oh hell no, you didn't....
He: Don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are black.
Me: Awwww.... lucky them!
He: No, seriously, you know how they get.
Me: God, and they're gay! It could be rowdy and gay! God forbid!
He: Stop, Tom. You know what I mean.
Me: Yeah I do. We're done. I'll see you later.
He: Tom, why are you so mad?
Me: In the words of En Vogue, "Free your mind, and the rest will follow." By the way, they were black.

And then I walked away 'coz I was angry. It really chaps my ass how anybody-- but particularly gay folks-- could possibly hold those antiquated stereotypes as a valid worldview. Anyone who's ever felt out of place, discriminated against, frightened, oppressed or unwelcome should know-- you don't pass it on. The only way to squash prejudice and ignorance is to do just that. Squash it. Maybe I was a little rude to the guy, but I hope it made him think.

That one line-- "Some of my best friends are black"-- just crawls up my hole, and not in that fun, spanky way. And it's not just black, you could substitute any adjective there-- gay, Asian, deaf, elderly, whatever-- and it would still be condescending and elitist. As though you should get a badge of honor for being white and associating with the colored folk. As though you've lowered yourself to reach out to the less fortunate Negroes.

Some of my best friends really are black. Some are foreign. Some are Muslims. Some are women. Some have kids. Some are skinny. Some are smokers. Some are transgendered. Some are Republicans. Some are pierced and tattooed. Some of them even like opera. And I love, value and prize them because they are different from me, not in spite of it.

So as you journey through this life, and you cross paths with folks who are different from you, embrace them for the richness they add to the landscape. Dialogue with them so you can understand where they're coming from and what makes them tick-- not as a demographic slice, but as individuals. Accept them and hold them dear for who they are, no matter what they are.

Love somebody today. Peace.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring Has Sprung: A Horoscope for Everyone

Coinciding with the vernal equinox, the Sun passed into Aries yesterday, giving us the start of a new astrological year. Aries is the sign that rules the self, so everything you do this month should be all about you. Start by buying yourself dinner in a nice restaurant. Talk to yourself, and be really honest, but complimentary. Then, go to a movie alone, preferably something to put you in the mood. Finally, return to your abode for some really indulgent masturbation. Congratulations, you're your own best friend-- I prefer this term to "complete loser."

Mercury's still in retrograde for four more days, so communicating may be difficult, or things you say may be misunderstood. Take my advice: edh guel nur ti useraf bai plozuer, nas weshel brigh queve nasce kileter fi niscal tace. That's always worked for me, but if it doesn't, stick your hands down someone's pants.

Jupiter's in retrograde too, so don't rely on your luck to get you out of tight situations. Use your wit, your good looks, your charms, and other tools at your disposal. If that doesn't work, stick your hands down someone's pants. And as if Jupiter's screwed-up orbit weren't bad enough, dark and mysterious Pluto goes retrograde on the 29th, and won't be direct again until September. So needless to say, Mickey, Donald and Goofy will be amply tired of his shit come autumn. Finally, one mixed blessing: Saturn comes out of retrograde on April 5 for the first time since November, which means somebody should probably fumigate up in there.

Also on April 5, Venus enters Pisces. Pisces usually enters Venus, but Venus is feeling froggy this month. That means good things for sex. Stick your hands down someone's pants.

Daylight savings time hits us April 2, which means we lose an hour that we won't get back until October. By then, it will be all crusty and smelly and we won't want it back anyway. Damn it.

So what does all this star-babble mean to you? A few things are revealed by charting the astral bodies. First, your mom really does love you. She's just disappointed in a certain choice you've made. Maybe that tragic haircut, but who am I to say?

Financially, things have been tight lately, but money should start flowing in once you find a buyer for your kidney on eBay.
When you get the check, go buy an iPod. Not a knock-off, or one of those stupid chewing-gum ones either, but a real iPod. Download into it the following music, which all appeals to the pervasive sense of self governed by Aries: "I've Never Been to Me" by Charlene, "Vacation from Myself" by Jason Eklund, and "Dancing With Myself" by Billy Idol. Also, as soon as you are able, stick your hands down someone's pants.

On the health front, tequila is not the answer. "Tequila?" is the question. "Yes please!" is the answer. That pain in your left leg is not "restless leg syndrome," so stop worrying about it. But you should probably get tested for ebola.

Your lucky number: seven, duh! Best chance for romance: the bus station in Birmingham, Alabama, behind the lockers. You should have a two-hour window between 4 and 6 AM on April 8th. Don't wear panties.

It's Tuesday, come out to the LIp, let's have some fun. And remember, it's important to make friends. Stick your hands down someone's pants.

Peace and love,


Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's Not Nice To T's

We live in a world where everyone takes you at face value. You're immediately evaluated, classified, categorized and, yes, judged by your appearance. But what if your appearance belies who you really are? What good is being taken at face value if there's something wrong with your face?

You'd want to show the world who you really are, right? Wouldn't you want people to see beyond the obvious, delve deeper into your persona, get under your skin and know the true person inside? To help them, you might change your face-- enhance it, make it more demonstrative of your actual identity. It's only natural, after all. You want your expression-- the one on your face-- to express something about you. To actually be an expression of your inner soul.

Yet there is one segment of the population who is victimized time and time again by the schoolyard bully that still lives deep within us as adults. For reasons unexplained, this particular type of person is the butt of jokes, catcalls, whispered slander, speculation, dirty looks and other societal displays of ignorance. Social order around them just completely breaks down. The rules of polite society fly out the window. People who are otherwise kind and balanced feel the license exists for them to walk up to these people, sweet as you please, and tell them they are weird. Comical. Ugly.

I'm talking about T-girls.

T-girls, for those of you who aren't in the know, is the polite colloquial term for genetic males who identify as female, and as such, wear women's clothing and makeup, adopt female names and mannerisms and display their feminine identity in public. Terms like drag queen, cross-dresser, transvestite, transsexual, intersex, shemale and others are bandied about, but they all mean something different and are not always either appropriate or appreciated. "T-girl" is pretty much universally accepted in the community.

I've been guilty of discrimination against T-girls myself in the past. It's not something that I readily identify with. Although I am personally bisexual, attracted almost equally to females and males, I am all man, and I have never once felt a need to express my feminine side by taking on female affectation. I couldn't understand it. And like so many things we don't understand, it was easier for me to make fun of it than to accept, explore and embrace it. But I set out to do so when I spoke to a friend of mine who is a part-time T-girl. He was outside the lounge, on the sidewalk, looking like the handsome man that he is much of the time. But he was downcast, and I could see once I approached him that he had been crying.

I asked what was the matter, and he replied:

People can be so shitty. Last night, I was out in my girl clothes, with my hair and makeup done, and somebody came up to me and said, "Good lord, why do you dress up like that? You look ridiculous. You are such a good looking guy, but in that get-up you are so ugly." She called me ugly. You will not find any situation in society where people think it's okay to walk up to somebody and tell them they're ugly. But when you're a T-girl, folks think they have the right to say anything they want to you. They think you have no value, no dignity and they owe you no respect. It's insane that the laws of propriety and human kindness break down just because somebody wears a skirt and a pair of fabulous pumps.

His remarks struck me as so poignant and tragic. I've been derided and ridiculed for being fat, for liking dudes, for being a nerd. But nobody has ever called me ugly. Ever. And I'm nothing to look at. So who was I to declare what was normal? And indeed, who are you? Who are any of us to decide that we can poke fun at a person for being who they feel they are?

To that end, here's a wee primer on dealing properly with T-girls:

1. First thing you have to learn is that it isn't kinky. It isn't a fetish. This is how these folks identify themselves.

2. Gender identity is intensely personal, variable, and completely independent of sexual identity and orientation. T-girls can be attracted to women, men, or both. They can be attracted to one gender when showing feminine and the other when showing masculine traits.

3. The proper pronoun set to use is the one they are clearly trying to display. If a T-girl is in women's clothes, you should refer to her as "she." Under no circumstances are you to say "it" or "he/she" or "whoever they are."

4. Let them use the ladies' room, for God's sake.

So next time you see a 6'2", broad-shouldered, hipless woman with a square jaw, makeup that can't completely hide five-o'clock shadow, an Adam's apple or big hands with Lee press-on nails, remember these T-girls are only making the best they can with what they have. Remember that they are human beings who deserve respect and kindness. And they are beautiful, if for nothing more than the courage it takes to be who they are.

For more information on T-girls, visit the Tennessee Vals' website.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Luck O' The Irish

Okay, it's Saint Patrick's Day. I'm wearing some ugly-ass green sweater so people won't pinch me. What the hell is up with that nasty little tradition?

Congratulations to Kelly & Debra, who are getting married this weekend. Y'all go girls!

Last night was a typical Thursday, it was packed as usual and very very fun. Debbie from Eye Candy was in wearing a big St. Paddy's Hat.

It was good to have the beautiful and talented Angie in the house. We got up on the karaoke stage and rocked "Pour Some Sugar On Me" together.

I got to talking to beautiful Christina toward the end of the night. Wow, she's gorgeous. Hands off! I saw her first!

I met Jay, and he promised that he'd go out with me and my buddy John and get some tacos and margaritas sometime. We were all pretty hammered on Jäger, but what else is new?

Tonight, it'll be Ronda and Jonda, so come on out.... Fridays are always a trip, but St. Pat's means we have $5 patty-cake shots, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey specials and green beer. Yeah! See ya there!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Welcome Back!

It's been like "Old Home Week" lately at the Lounge. We've seen the smiling faces of some dear friends that haven't been in for a while. So props to y'all. Here's an update.

It's always nice to have LaRonda and Henry in the house. We don't see nearly enough of them, because they're always working. They both manage restaurants (Rafferty's 100 Oaks and Mafiaoza's respectively) and they don't get off until the wee small hours of the morning. They were out with Cheley Tackett last week, chillin'. By the way, if you haven't heard Cheley sing, you need to check her out, she's an amazing vocalist.

The police were out front on a routine stop last week fighting evil in the world, and Cheley noted that some of the officers appeared "sexually confused." I assured her that they weren't confused, they were just lesbians. She seemed relieved. I think confusion bothers the divine Miss Tackett. While I'm thinking about it, the East Nashville Precinct is the best damn force of folks in blue in the whole world and they take great pains to keep the neighborhood safe, hats off to them.

We had a visit from Mikey, Gary, Peter and Roger, who came in looking like the modern-day version of the Rat Pack. They're always fun.

Tegan was on the fuckin' stage, doing her fuckin' rendition of "Total Fuckin' Eclipse of the Heart." Heh.

Chris Mitchell (who's playing at the Basement next Thursday) was in, making the rounds as only he can.

On Tuesday, we had THE IRENES back in the house for Music Trivia. The combined forces of Mark & The Junebugs stopped their juggernaut to victory at the last moment. It was very exciting!

Greg and Matt introduced the world to "Diva Dogpuss." That's a blog entry all to itself, soon to come.

Plus, my buddy Bob visited from NYC again. What a great week!

Haven't been in the Lounge in a while? Well, get your happy ass back in here! See ya soon!


Friday, March 03, 2006

Ronda and Jonda

The great thing about the Lipstick Lounge is that everybody who comes in gets to be pals with Ronda and Jonda. You know them.... they're twin sisters who, along with their partners, own the joint.

"Sometimes Ronda," as we like to call her, is always puttering around with a hammer or screwdriver, slinging plates of loaded fries and emptying ashtrays. Ronda's really a dude on the inside, with her soft butch clothing, pleasant smile and caring ear available to anyone.

By contrast, Jonda is a mouth on legs. She's the girlie-girl, slinging drinks behind the bar and sharing her fantastic stories. Plus, have you seen her tits? The way to remember which one's which: Jonda jiggles. She's proof of the adage that says, "If God didn't give it to you, buy it in a store."

These two girls are friends to everyone who know them... and they've never met a stranger. When you come into the Lip, you are going to be greeted with a smile, and if they're not so busy they can't talk, you'll get a conversation you'll remember for sometime to come.

But in addition to being gabby hostesses, Ronda and Jonda are the front of an ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners blues band that plays the Lounge on Friday nights. If you haven't seen them perform... what are you waiting for? You need to get in here on a Friday and watch these girls throw down. It's a hell of a show, and it will still end by taking you to church... the girls grew up singing gospel music (they even recorded an award-winning album back in the 1980s) and as a tip of their hat to their daddy, they end the show with "Jesus On The Main Line" every week. So get your hot tail in here, bring your friends, and let's party with the girls!

Plus, Christa and Traci are out in the audience so you can chat with them while the girls are on stage. We'll see you tonight, I hope!