Sunday, November 28, 2010

It indeed gets better

Bizarre and surreal are two of the more appropriate ways to describe Manchester Memorial High School’s Class of 2000’s 10th year reunion at Jillian’s in the Queen City on Saturday, Nov. 27. The evening, however, proved far more meaningful than simply catching up with old classmates.

To put it bluntly; high school sucked. “Yellow teeth,” “open ass” and even “faggot” were three of the more common taunts to which I was regularly subjected. My weight also provided additional fodder to those who took it upon themselves to torment me. High school proved an isolating, depressing and even hopeless experience. And June 7, 2000,--graduation day--was nothing short of a personal emancipation.

Fast forward more than a decade: I am a proud gay man, I live and work in New York City, I have lost more than 80 lbs., people know, (largely) appreciate and (even respect) my work and I have a wonderful boyfriend. I struggle with insecurities and a sense of inadequacy to this day, but I continue to turn the page on those who tormented me (and the hometown I maintain largely incubated them.)

The rash of LGBT teenager suicides over the last few months have provided an all too tragic reminder that bullying remains a serious problem in this country. I could have very well become one of those statistics, but life happily dictated otherwise. It indeed gets better. And last night’s reunion provided some welcome closure.

After graduation on June 7, 2000.

With an MMHS classmate at Jillian's on Nov. 27, 2010.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Wednesday morning in Bushwick

On this Thanksgiving eve, here are four snapshots of Bushwick from earlier this morning.

From 322 Jefferson Street

Maria Hernandez Park

Playground in Maria Hernandez Park

Circo's on Knickerbocker Avenue

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another day, another headline for Sarah Palin, Inc.

My “does not care one iota about anything related to ‘Dancing with the Stars’” Facebook proclamation sparked four comments and nine likes, but what is this expression of e-love's broader takeaway?

As last week’s post on Willow Palin’s homophobic rant on Facebook categorically proved, anything remotely related to the former Alaska governor and her family sparks immediate reaction—and a lot of blog traffic. The buzz around whether Tea Party supporters have rigged “Dancing with the Stars” to make sure Bristol Palin wins continues, but mama grizzly herself made headlines yesterday when she told Sean Hannity she would not sit down for another interview with Katie Couric.

"I want to help clean up the state that is so sorry today of journalism," said Sarah Palin, as reported by the Washington Post’s Rachel Weiner. "And I have a communications degree. I studied journalism -- who, what, where, when, and why of reporting. I will speak to reporters who still understand that cornerstone of our democracy, that expectation that the public has for truth to be reported. And then we get to decide our own opinion based on the facts reported to us. So a journalist, a reporter who is so biased and will, no doubt, spin and gin up whatever it is that I have to say to create controversy, I swear to you, I will not my waste my time with her. Or him."

Just another day—with an all too predictable headline and blog post—courtesy of the well-greased machine Sarah Palin, Inc., has become. Journalists, bloggers and anyone else who cares should obviously take note!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homophobic Palin family values

Willow Palin apparently has a homophobia problem of her own.

The teenager called a critic of her mother’s new reality show a “faggot” in a Facebook exchange TMZ posted late on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Bristol Palin, who is a finalist on “Dancing with the Stars,” also chimed in.

“No you just run your mouth just so you’ll get a reaction,” wrote the teen activist. “You’re a typical shit talker. Talking shit cause you have nothing else going for you. Just like you pretended you didn’t know what Dancing with the Stars was.”

What does Mama Grizzly Palin herself have to say about her two cubs' antics? Perhaps the world will find out once she has finished promoting her new reality show, declared herself a presidential candidate, left Christine O'Donnell's coven and even proclaimed she can see Mars from the Eastern Aleutians. Just a thought...

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Indian summer grows in Brooklyn

This past weekend in New York City felt more May than mid-November.

I spent Saturday afternoon perusing the Middle Eastern food stores along Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn—Moroccan and Egyptian olives, bay leaves, dried apricots and cranberries and falafel for lunch were among the items in my shopping bag. And a wedding reception at the River Café, which is directly under the Brooklyn Bridge, provided some unexpected entertainment for those who were waiting for a Lower Manhattan-bound water taxi.

Here are some of snapshots from the beautiful day.

Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn's Pier 6.

From Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Revelers dance at the River Café under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Lower Manhattan from Fulton Landing.

Fulton Landing under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

RIP Jorge Steven

Today marks the first anniversary of the brutal murder of gay Puerto Rican teenager Jorge Steven López Mercado.

Juan José Martínez Matos stabbed López to death on Nov. 13, 2009, before he dumped the teenager’s decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body along a remote roadside near Cayey.

López’s mother, Myriam Mercado, told me in June “with a crime so atrocious, it is important people unite in their pain.” Her strength—and especially the unconditional love she continues to show for her son—remain an inspiration to everyone who has met her over the last year. It must be said, however, 12 LGBT Puerto Ricans have been murdered since López’s brutal death.

Recent events in New York City and around the country prove anti-LGBT hate crimes remain a serious problem. And on this grim anniversary, it remains imperative that everyone step up and say enough is enough.

Friday, November 12, 2010

LGBT Community Center hosts “don’t ask, don’t tell” panel

Optimism in journalism proved somewhat less than eternal this week, but the “don’t ask, don’t tell” panel at the LGBT Community Center in lower Manhattan last night provided some valuable insight into the issue.

Former White House advisor Richard Socarides moderated the panel, which featured Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, historian Nathaniel Frank and Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress. Gregory T. Angelo, chair of New York Log Cabin Republicans; Barbra Caspar Siperstein, co-chair of the National Stonewall Democrats PAC Board; and activist Jason Haas were among those in attendance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Wednesday afternoon in Herald Square

I'm back in Bushwick after lunch with David Mixner, but these breakdancers into whom I ran in the Herald Square subway station earlier this afternoon proves New York remains the best city in the world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gay N.H. bishop announces retirement

It was sad to read about gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s retirement announcement over the past weekend, but it goes without saying this truly remarkable man’s humility, grace, sense of justice, dignity and humor have touched more people--LGBT and otherwise--than anyone can possibly imagine.

The Episcopal Church consecrated Robinson at the University of New Hampshire in Nov. 2003. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church were among the hundreds of people who protested in Durham on that cool November morning. It was quite an eerie sight to see sharpshooters positioned on rooftops around the Whittemore Center--Robinson himself wore a bulletproof vest during the consecration because he had received credible death threats. In spite of the fanfare, rhetoric and outright homophobia that surrounded this watershed moment, however, the vast majority of New Hampshire Episcopalians seemed genuinely uninterested in Gene’s homosexuality.

“New Hampshire is always the place I remain, simply, ‘the bishop,’’’ and not “the gay bishop,’’ said Robinson, as the Boston Globe reported.

Thank you Gene.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day in Bushwick

An expected package delivery kept me away from the polls until 3:30 p.m., but it took less than 10 minutes to vote at my polling place here in Bushwick once I arrived.

Here are some snapshots from the day.