(I met Ken about 10 years ago through the Net. At the time, we were mostly discussing the political aspects of the continuing Christians vs. Homos / gay vs. exgays debate. However, as we became friends, I discovered that he is a talented lyricist, arranger and singer who set aside his career in the mid-80s to become an AIDS activist, creating and manning an AIDS education booth on the street corner at Hibernia Beach in the Castro in San Francisco.)I was happily congratulating him over the fact that this past year, he helped write (and received a featured solo role in) a new piece written and performed by the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus called USS Metaphor which, among other things, wickedly uses Ken's knowledge of the issues he and I have been talking about for years. I didn't get to see the performances, but I have discovered that they made a DVD and will restage the show on February 22 and 23 to celebrate the release.)
Next year is also the 30th Anniversary of the chorus. They were the first gay chorus. From their site:
Following its triumphant debut at Davies Symphony Hall last year, SFGMC's hilarious adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore is back for an encore. This special concert celebrates the release of the USS Metaphor DVD.
The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus made its official debut on December 20, 1978, though it first appeared informally singing a memorial hymn on the steps of the San Francisco City Hall in late November 1978, the evening Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated.Though he's largely unknown in the hetero community, Harvey Milk was the hero of our movement who was assassinated. Harvey had this ability to communicate with everyone from a street level. He was the first openly gay elected city supervisor. He was murdered, along with the mayor, George Moscone, by a man who only served seven years in prison. There was even a riot.
So, this next year is a very important year for gay people, but especially for the Chorus since it was the year of their birth. Out of the ashes of the death of one man, an entire generation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people discovered that they were in a fight for their own survival. This was a world that wanted us invisible.
Even today, with all our strides in the public arena, there is still a real voice out there that wants us to go away, to not exist. Sadly, the people who wish this on us are mostly religious.
On Saturday, our first full day in the city, I walked down Mason to Market St. to look at the cable cars. Down on Market where the people were lined up to take a ride, was a group of "ministers" with these HUGE signs. I mean GIGANTIC signs showing gay people burning in hell. Bla. Bla. Bla. (I'll take some pics later if you want.)
And I thought about 30th Anniversary concert of the SFGMC. 30 years ago they were shooting at us. Now, they're just a bunch of grown-up clowns, making them and whatever "Jesus" they're "worshipping" look ridiculous. I saw other people standing there angry at them, trying to "reason" with them or argue with them -- and it all made me laugh. It really did. They're literally clowns doing clown things. Their hatred for gays has made them mentally ill. Only a mentally ill person would display such an ostentatious demonstration of religiopathy.
And, yeah, I laughed. Sad, pathetic souls. I was not going to let them ruin this day. In fact, the sky was crystal clear, the air was fresh, the people were bright and cheerful, the city looked spectacular. AND I had just found a book I didn't know was out in paperback: Transcendent by Stephen Baxter, a hard SF writer I am currently obsessed with. (It's the third of a trilogy and I had JUST finished book two).
I walked up just a few blocks and found a grouping of about four Indian restaurants. I decided on the one that looked the most like a diner, sat down in the middle of the well-lit room, opened my book, and let the helplessly overworked waitress work around me. When she finally found me, she took my order and then brought me my Diet Coke, but also a pitcher of water and a dry glass. (I had asked for ice water and a Coke with ice). When she found me 15 minutes later, she saw that I hadn't touched the glass. So I asked for ice.
So, she brought me one glass of ice, which I then poured my Coke into. It was perhaps 40 minutes before any food was brought to me. I didn't care. I was reading. And it was the wrong order. So she took it to someone else. 10 minutes later, she began serving me my somosas appetizer. Then, I had Chicken Vindaloo, the spiciest thing on the menu. As she was serving the vindaloo, she noticed that I had a warm pitcher of water still sitting on my table.
Completely puzzled, she asked if I would like a glass. I look at her with a big smile (not snarky), "Well, unless you think I should drink this from the pitcher..." And the laughed out loud. As she trailed off, I shouted... "With ice!"
I love San Francisco.