Alright, so here I will begin with part 2 of my chronological journey through my blog thoughts.
So, I ended my European excursion by flying to New York, where I met my mom and spent a week with her – 2 days actually in New York. Being a person who loves (LOVES) shows and musicals, I insisted that we see at least one show while we were there (I will not tell you how many times I went to the theater in London on the grounds that… well, it would be embarrassing). I actually very much wanted to see Wicked, having seen it in London and loved it (it’s my new favourite show) and I wanted to see the New York production… I like the idea of seeing the same story played out by different actors. My mom, on the other hand, had heard good things about The Color Purple, which made me very nervous. This may cause you some confusion, because, as I noted in a recent blog entry, The Color Purple is my favourite movie. If my mom hadn’t been there, The Color Purple would have been very high on my list of shows to see, it’s just that… well, it is my favourite movie, I’ve seen it many times… and I’ve read the book. The movie is fairly clear in expressing how the two main female characters have a lesbian relationship (incidentally, this is in no way the reason for this movie being my favourite), but I suppose if you chose to you can ignore this fact (it’s amazing how many people do). But I have also read the book, and the book is explicitly clear about the relationship between Miss Celie and Shug Avery. Miss Celie is a lesbian, Shug is bisexual, and they have a long term relationship that actually carries over into some of Alice Walkers other books (I went through an Alice Walker phase a few years back). So, when my mom suggested this particular show to me, I got nervous, because I didn’t know which end of the spectrum the musical would take… would it sort of skirt around the whole lesbian thing? Or would it be explicit… maybe somewhere in the middle? Where ever it landed on the whole ‘gay spectrum’ I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to enjoy sitting next to my mom during the show.
She was insistent, however (and in case you’re wondering, we reached a ‘compromise’ by going to both shows… an expensive compromise, to be sure), and so we went. And I was right, it was uncomfortable. It didn’t help that the first thing I did was look through the playbill at the song list to try see if I could determine how gay the show was going to be by the song titles. It didn’t really help me figure that out, but one of the songs in the show is called “Push Da Button”, and like I’ve said, I read the book, and knew exactly what that song was going to be about. I don’t think anyone would like the idea of sitting next to their mother during a song about… well, if you don’t know, I’m not going to spell it out for you.
So, where did the musical land on the ‘gay spectrum’? Much closer to the book than the movie, by which I mean it was extremely clear that Miss Celie was a lesbian, and her relationship with Shug was very much in the forefront. At one point I was actually afraid my mom was going to make a scene or walk out… I sat there praying that she would at least wait until the intermission to express her disgust. But aside from not clapping at the end of the big lesbian love song, she made no comment.
And at the end of the show, she jumped up and applauded long and loud, even shouting out an “Amen!”. As we walked out, she exclaimed “Wow, that was as good as going to church!” I was stunned. As I said to my good friend, “it’s like she just blocked out all the dykey bits!” She kept pointing out how she could see the actresses mouthing “Thank you Jesus” at the end (which is true, we had excellent seats, and could totally see what Fantasia was saying at the end, which was cool). And I cannot deny that it is an incredibly affirming and spiritually moving show, it is… I enjoyed it… go see it if you can. But seriously, my mom? The anti-gay crusader… she should have been all over that. But I wasn’t about to point that out to her so I left it alone.
The next day, we were walking down 8th Ave when she turned to me and said “You know, I woke up last night thinking about The Color Purple… it suddenly occurred to me that it could be a subtle advertisement for homosexuality.”
I stopped walking and just stared at her because… well, first, an advertisement? Seriously? No one who knows anything about the story could see it as an advertisement for anything really, no one is going to watch that show and think “Man, that looks like a good life, I think I’ll be a lesbian like Miss Celie…” I mean, come on! That’s just insane. But, to be honest, what shocked me more was her use of the word ‘subtle’. And she realized that almost immediately because she corrected herself. “Well, it wasn’t really all that subtle, was it?” I could only shake my head. She went on to say “well, at least it tried to explain it, you know, explain homosexuality in a new and different way.”
Again, there was nothing to say to that. The “explanation” that I’m assuming she saw was hardly ‘new and different’, it’s what conservative Christians have been saying for years… the only explanation that they can come up with for lesbianism (the Freudian explanations they use for male homosexuality seem to fall short, even to them, when it comes to women) is sexual abuse, or to use a quaint phrase I once read on one of those books “the misbehavior of men”. I, of course, being the coward that I am, said nothing at all in response to anything she said as she went on trying to justify the fact that she liked this show that showed a lesbian relationship in a positive light. A later conversation between her and my aunt (whom we went to visit after New York) went on to say that Miss Celie was so desperate for love, and Shug just wanted to ‘bless’ her… which, seriously, I wouldn’t mind a blessing like that! Just kidding. Sort of. But whatever my mom needed to do to get around it, it was weird.
And, as our conversations continued, it became quite clear that my mom has either forgotten that I’m gay, or has decided that I’m not gay anymore or something like that. She had stopped making reference to my ‘future husband’ after a conversation we had a few years ago where I told her flat out that I didn’t think I would ever marry a man and would appreciate it if she stopped trying to force that on me. But she told me, while we were out for lunch somewhere in New York that she has been praying for me to meet ‘a nice older man, I don’t know why I think he should be older, that just seems right to me’. Of course, that might have had something to do with the fact that she saw a ‘nice, older man’ start a conversation with me in a restaurant and thought that he was hitting on me, which I doubt, I just have some sort of weird personality quirk that makes strangers talk to me – male and female. I don’t know what it is, it just happens, and I doubt this man was hitting on me, but even if he was, well, I just am not interested. But back to my mom and the whole ‘gay amnesia’ thing. I don’t think I’ll come out to her again, I’ve had that conversation with her twice and it isn’t fun. Unless something happens (ie: I meet someone and end up in a long term relationship of my own), I don’t really see the point if she’s going to keep forgetting like this.
As a complete aside, I loved New York! I want to find a way to live there at some point… only for a year or so, maybe even just 6 months, but I don’t know how to go about doing that, as I would most definitely need a job, which means having a work visa and all that. It would be doable as a teacher, I think, but honestly, in New York I wouldn’t want to teach because I’d want to have time and energy to explore the city, so I’d kind of want a crap job, like sweeping up after shows on Broadway (that would actually be a total fantasy job, not a crap job at all!) or something like that that wouldn’t require much thought. Any thoughts on how a Canadian citizen could go about doing that?
And I’ll leave you with this, it has no relevance at all, except that I talked about Wicked earlier in this post and I love that show so very much -- the soundtrack is in my car and I'm having a blast driving singing along at the top of my lungs, so I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you. Enjoy.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Alright, so here I will begin with part 2 of my chronological journey through my blog thoughts.
Posted by JJ at 7:13 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2007
So… once again, it’s been a while. When last we met I was in Amsterdam. Had a wonderful time there, I was able to meet up with one of my best friends – and to meet his boyfriend for the first time (they’ve been together for 3 years, it’s pathetic that it took me so long to meet the lucky fellow). A weird thing happened while I was there. Well, it probably happened before I was in Amsterdam. I somehow lost a week of my life. I know what it looks like, my losing time in Amsterdam… but it is not what it seems. As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certain that I lost the week in Venice (I just LOVE that city!), but what happened was I was out with my friend and his boyfriend on what I thought was Sunday, April 2nd. I was right about the day, but I was off by a week. It was, in fact, April 9th, which really freaked me out. A week. Gone. I rushed from Amsterdam to London where I spent a few days before heading up to Edinburgh to spend more time with my dear friend (the one I had met in Amsterdam, quite by accident, at least on my part). I had a wonderful time with him, it’s always nice to reconnect with people – not that we’d been out of touch, or anything – God bless the internets! – we do manage to ‘talk’ quite frequently, but face to face is better. Much better for cuddling on the couch and the like (something that is very difficult to do via MSN).
Anyway, the reason I explain all that is to attempt to justify the lack of blogging. Once I realized my error, I felt kind of frantic and just didn’t really feel like I had time to blog and get all my traveling in. I could have done it in the extended time before, but… well, I just wasn’t aware of time passing. I suppose that’s a good thing, it’s a sign that I was having a good time, but still… I am still kind of weirded out by missing that week entirely.
Regardless, here I am, and I have blog-relevant thoughts and experiences to share! Yay! So… I have a few blogs to write and I’ve decided that writing them out chronologically is as good a way to go as any. So, we’ll begin in London. I once again sought out a gay-friendly church and, wonder of wonders, managed to finally make it to a regular service with an actual sermon (as opposed to a lecture having to do with the ‘topic of the day’), and it was wonderful! The sermon would have fit right in in any church that my mother would willingly attend… well, except for one thing. Once again, gender was avoided in referencing God… the term “The Parent” was used a lot, which, to me, sort of robs some of the intimacy from that language used in the Bible – The Father just sounds more personal. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t understand the problem with gender, maybe that’s just because I don’t have that issue myself. But other than that, the sermon was Bible based, thoughtful… and kinda Pentecostal. The preacher even referenced Azusa Street several times. People were raising their hands, shouting “Amen!”, even waving flags like they do at my mom’s church.
One of the most wonderful things that I encountered there happened at the first service I attended, which was Sunday afternoon… it was a small service, only about 7 people were there (it was during this service that I learned about the evening service with all the singing and stuff), and it was very meditative service. It was very nice, but what I was most impressed by? The first person I met there was a young girl, about 7 or 8 years old, who was there with one of her moms. She was outgoing, funny, confident, eager, secure, and yes, vocal about her love for Jesus… I know I can’t be making a diagnosis based on about 2 hours of contact, but she is the first child I have met (knowingly met, anyway) who is being raised by gay parents, and while I have never doubted that two men or two women can give a child the love and security they need to be happy, healthy, and well adjusted, it was just nice to see evidence of that. I suppose she could be severely messed up, but… well, I think making that assumption based on knowing nothing about her except for the gender of her parents would be even crazier than my assuming that I can tell whether or not a child is emotionally healthy after observing her for a couple of hours.
Anyway, I’m back home in Ottawa now (although I’m leaving tomorrow to spend a couple of days with my mom – Sunday is Mother’s Day, after all). I apologize, both for the long gap in posts, and for the haphazard state of this entry… I’ve written it rather quickly, and I don’t feel like taking the time to go over it and make it sound better… I kinda just want to get into the swing of blogging again. Hopefully this will do it. I probably won’t write again until I’m back from my mom’s, but for now, it’s good to be back, and I’ll be writing again soon.
Posted by JJ at 9:43 AM