Saturday, April 25, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy 725th Birthday
Edward II, King of England (1284-1327)

Historians largely regard the reign of Edward II as one of the most ineffectual of the Middle Ages. The nobility deemed his intimacy with Piers Gaveston (d. 1312) inappropriate and excessive; and Edward's insistent loyalty to his closest friend only further alienated them, ultimately contributing to his own fall from power.

Edward was born on April 25, 1284 at Caernarvon Castle in Wales. . . His pursuits were not those typically approved of in kings at this time. Edward preferred such activities as swimming, boating, thatching roofs, and arranging theatrical and musical events.

Edward also gambled, frequently losing large sums of money. In addition, he formed intense friendships with men whom his father felt wielded too much influence over the prince. Piers Gaveston, a knight from Gascon, was the first and most important of Edward's favorites.

Gaveston and Edward may have become intimate friends during the Scottish campaign led by Edward I in 1300. The king became critical of this friendship, and exiled Gaveston from England.

In 1307 Edward I died, and Edward II became King of England. He immediately called Gaveston back from exile, despite the opposition of most of the English barony, who disapproved of the new king's close relationship with his favorite.

Edward defied the barons and even allowed Gaveston to serve as regent when he traveled to Boulogne in 1308 to marry Isabella of France. The nobles' increasing dissatisfaction with Edward led them to use Gaveston as a way to gain power over the king.

In 1311, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, led the barons to demand a number of political reforms, as well as the exile of Gaveston. Edward bridled at the restrictions, and Lancaster's faction rebelled.

Edward and Gaveston were ill-prepared for the rebellion, and after being besieged in his castle, Gaveston quickly surrendered, assuming he would be treated favorably by the Earl of Pembroke. The Earl of Warwick subsequently captured Gaveston and after a bitter exchange, he was tried and convicted of treason, handed over to Lancaster, and summarily executed.

These events enraged Edward, but also left him almost powerless. For the next few years, Lancaster dominated Edward's reign.

There has been much speculation as to the exact nature of the relationship between Edward and Gaveston, most of it largely inconclusive. Gregory Bredbeck argues that the idea of Edward's homosexuality is "almost entirely an invention" of the late Renaissance. He credits Christopher Marlowe's play The Tragedy of Edward II (1590?) as largely responsible for his inclusion in gay and lesbian history.

Yet the historical record is decidedly vague. As Paul Hammond notes, medieval historians are uncertain how to describe the relationship. Edward's love for Gaveston certainly defied conventional boundaries, but it is hard to pinpoint whether Edward's ultimate transgression was simply loving one man too much, thereby unsettling the delicate balance of patronage, or was a violation of sexual boundaries as well.

Several of the contemporary chroniclers, including Raphael Holinshed, while not saying specifically that the relationship between Edward and Gaveston was sexual, certainly describe it in sexual terms, one saying that the king fell in love with the young noble "at first sight." Moreover, as Alan Bray points out, one royal document characterizes the union between the two men as a kind of "wedded" or "sworn" brotherhood, a form of voluntary kinship.

We can not say with certainty that Edward practiced same-sex sexual activity with Piers Gaveston. We do know, however, that later in his reign, Edward formed an equally intense relationship with Hugh Despenser.

Unlike Gaveston, who had little interest in wielding political power, Despenser used his influence to gain power for himself and his father. In 1322, Edward defied renewed attempts by the nobles to restrict his power and allowed Despenser and his father to rule the country.

In 1326, Isabella, who had been estranged from Edward since 1322, and Roger Mortimer, a baron who had become the queen's lover the year before, invaded England and captured Edward and the Despensers.

They quickly tried, convicted, and executed Hugh and his father. They officially removed Edward from the throne and imprisoned him. His son became king, while Edward languished in prison. After being tortured, he was killed on September 21, 1327.

According to contemporary chonicles, Edward was killed by having a red hot spit thrust into his anus. While this method of execution may have been chosen to conceal signs of torture, the fact that it symbolically suggests homosexual intercourse was not lost on later poets and playwrights who told the story of the king's tragic life and death.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The New GOP


Today in Gay History

Happy 54th Birthday

John Epperson (b. April 24, 1955)

"Lypsinka" debuted 1988

Credit to glbtq

John Epperson has had an extremely successful career performing as the glamorous and hilarious drag character Lypsinka. In addition, he has appeared, both in and out of character, in several plays and films.

Epperson was born April 24, 1955 in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, not a particularly gay-friendly place to grow up. He said in a 2002 interview, "I was always like a changeling in my home . . . like an alien among them." He wondered "why I was so fascinated by show business, when no one else in my family was."

Epperson rejects the term "drag queen" for himself and has stated that he does not enjoy much of the drag that is being done because "it is loud and tacky and trashy and has no sensibility or thought behind it." He intends his own work as "a commentary of performance in general and drag performance specifically." However outrageous Lypsinka may be, she is always at heart affectionate toward the women to whose work she performs.

In his cabaret act as Lypsinka Epperson typically does not utter a sound. The entire shows are meticulously crafted from recordings of music and the spoken word, which Epperson interprets through expression and gesture. He has been praised for his ability to convey the wide array of emotions to which Lypsinka is subject as she works her way through the existential crises of her life.

Epperson has also written a play, My Deah, his version of the Medea tale transplanted to Mississippi. It . . .debuted at the June Havoc Theater in New York.

In Epperson's play, Euripides' tragic heroine is re-envisioned as My Deah Hedgepeth, a Louisiana State University beauty queen who has committed the heresy of falling in love with and marrying a football star from arch-rival Ole Miss. My Deah finds the couple settled in Jackson, Mississippi and surrounded by a colorful bunch of friends and neighbors.

Epperson does not see himself as a particularly political person. On the possibility of gay marriage he commented in a 2002 interview, "I understand why people want the legal benefits of marriage. It just doesn't appeal to me to be married at all." A year later he called himself "too idiosyncratic for anybody to live with me," adding that "traditionally most gay guys aren't interested in going with drag performers, because they just can't go there."

Epperson has stated on various occasions that although the status of outsider can be difficult, he prefers individualism to assimilation. In a 2003 interview he said, "When I see [gay] people who want to be assimilated into the mainstream, I can only say that if Tennessee Williams had wanted to be assimilated into the mainstream, he would never have written Streetcar. Being an outsider made him what he was."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Only Love


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Fascist Threat From the Radical Right

Click on the images below to read the distortions purposely spread virus-like by the uber Right wing nutjobs, aided and abetted by Fox News, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter (right) et al.

These are the same folks who promoted the anti-American Tea Parties last week.

The above e-mail was circulating last week from the Conservative Book Club folks. It's actually a promotion for Human Events magazine, but check out the narrative.

It actually almost perfectly encapsulates the emerging narrative for mainstream conservatives, like a handy set of talking points all put together in one place.

The relationship between this kind of rhetoric and the even crazier talk coming from the radical right is inescapable. Because unlike the armchair right-wing pundits who indulge this stuff because it's a useful way to bestir the troops but couldn't act to save their asses, some of these other people, the radicals who hear this talk and then pump the irrationality even farther, to its illogical extreme. Thees people, and Crapaud doesn't say Thees People often, will fan the flames of radical right wingery and the full weight of responsibility for the next right wing terrorist attacks on America will be theirs.

And to listen to them talk, they are primed for action -- the irresponsible wingnuttery of the mainstream right can come to no good for our beloved country.


Today in Gay History

April 21, 2005

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed that state's historic Civil Unions law. Even the Log Cabin Republicans bestirred themselves and came out in praise of her actions back then:

" ...Governor Rell becomes the first Governor in history to sign civil union legislation without being forced to do so by the courts. We thank Governor Rell for recognizing that all families deserve basic fairness, including gay and lesbian families," said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Guerriero.

Legislation establishing civil unions in Connecticut passed the State House and State Senate by wide margins and with bipartisan support. Governor Rell previously signaled her support for civil unions by stating, "I don't believe in discrimination of any sort, and I want people to have equal rights and equal opportunities."

"The Governor's signature on this bill is an important reminder that the fight for basic fairness for gay and lesbian families is a bi-partisan fight," continued Guerriero. "Log Cabin praises the bi-partisan work of the Connecticut legislature and the state and local groups, including Love Makes a Family, who have encouraged this important debate on civil unions and civil marriage equality, . . ."

Governor Rell, having assumed the office in 2004 (upon the less than auspicious and premature departure of her predecessor) learned to navigate the troubled Connecticut political waters. As a Republican she worked toward bipartisan progress with the heavily Democratic state legislature on many issues. She was elected in her own right in 2006 by a wide margin of victory.

In October 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the Civil Unions Law declaring it violated the Equal Protection of Laws by creating a separate but unequal system parallel to marriage.


Monday, April 20, 2009

The Last Hurrah of Homo-Bigotry?

Frank Rich had this astounding summary opinion piece in the NY Times this week. Is the horror of homo-bigotry's "acceptability" nearly over? Are we really witnessing the "Last Hurrah" for this hatred as Rich points out? Read the whole opinion, it's worth the time!

And for a further hilarious take on this "last hurrah" see the below Colbert Nation Classic parody.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where Bible-Based Homophobia Leads

Click on the image for an enlarged, readable view
of this quaint little poster appearing in opposition
to a recent visit to a California campus by
the nefarious FredFiends of Westboro Baptist.

Democrat In Name Only

Every Republican senator earlier this month pushed for another tax break for the super-wealthy, voting to raise the full exemption on inheritances from $7 million to $10 million for a couple, and to drop the top rate on fortunes over $10 million from 45 percent to 35 percent.

President Obama tried to keep the estate tax at the current rate in his budget proposals and the House agreed, but 10 Democratic senators joined the Republicans to pick a fight on the estate tax – Senators Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and Jon Tester, D-Mont.

These 10 have formed a pact to be a gang of 10 "fiscally conservative" Democrats in Name Only on many issues. They have joined the likes of Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller and certainly this vote shows they are way beyond just being middle of the road conservatives. Watch for future revelations about how some of them have their votes bought by powerful interests.

For now, this take from From The Left, herebelow:

10 DINO Democratic Senators Pushed for a Tax Break for Multimillionaires

Earlier this month, every Republican senator was joined by 10 DINO Democratic senators to push for yet another tax break for the uber-wealthy — the elite 5,854 estates in all of America valued at $7 million or more per couple.

So who are these DINO Democratic senators so distressed that the children of the uber-wealthy won’t be able to afford a second yacht, or private jet, or vacation home in Maui, or Picasso in the living room?

The 10 DINO Democrats:

1. Evan Bayh (IN)
2. Max Baucus (MT)
3. Maria Cantwell (WA)
4. Mary Landrieu (LA)
5. Blanche Lincoln (AR)
6. Patty Murray (WA)
7. Bill Nelson (FL)
8. Ben Nelson (NE)
9. Mark Pryor (AR)
10 Jon Tester (MT)

In order for the U.S. to have a progressive and fair tax rate, former President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals needs to be repealed. And these 10 DINO Democrats need to be voted out of office.