The unbearable queerness of being

To celebrate our birthdays, Tina and I bought tickets for each other to this past Wednesday's Ani DiFranco concert at the Riverside. Melissa Ferrick, lesbian folk-rocker extraordinaire was opening for the beloved Ani, so we were sure it was going to be a beautiful way to spend the evening.

We were right. Not only were both Ani and Melissa in top form, breaking out amazing new settings for some of our favorite songs, the audience was a happy mix of women we know, women we probably should get to know, and a few of their best male friends.

I noticed right away, though, a woman in the lobby who didn't fall anywhere on the stereotypical flannel-to-flounce lesbian fashion spectrum. She was wearing tight jeans and a tight blouse with, clearly, a filled-to-the-brim pushup bra underneath. She had a French manicure and bleached blond hair. With her was a polo shirt-clad guy who looked like he was cut straight out of the middle-management heart of Brookfield.

"That's cool," I thought. "Good for them. Ani fans from suburbia over the age of 15! She's really crossing over now."

It's a good thing I thought that was cool because, turns out, they had the seats right next to me.

If you get enough gay people in one room at the same moment, the room becomes queerspace, as we fondly refer to it. That means I can hold hands with my wife and I can even kiss her in public, even if it's the Riverside Theatre and Jon Bon Jovi just played there. Unless, of course, some super-straight people sit next to you. Then you have to start asking the same questions you have to ask yourself outside of queerspace, like: "Is that guy holding back a sneeze or is he looking at me funny because I've got my arm around my girl?" And, "Is his girlfriend going to beat me up in the bathroom?"

I decided I didn't care. They were outnumbered and we were celebrating our birthday, the day we say, "I'm glad you were born," and seal it with a kiss.

P.S.: A couple songs into Ani's set, the st…


Sticks and stones

Have you heard about the lesbian gang epidemic? Recent interest in this "phenomenon" was piqued by the trial of a group of lesbian teens who were involved in a fight with a DVD salesman in New York last summer. Maybe you read about it under headlines like these:

"The Case of the Lesbian Beatdown"
"Lesbian wolf pack guilty: Jersey girl gang gets lockup in beatdown"
"Pack howls -- judge won't bend; Lesbians rip sentences in '06 attack"
"'I'm a man!' lesbian growled during fight"

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time but it's a hard story and it seems no one agrees on the facts. Agreement extends as far as this: A group of seven female friends from Newark were visiting Greenwich Village in the summer of 2006. As they walked past Dwayne Buckle, who was on the street selling DVDs, he said something to one of them, a romantic or sexual proposition of some sort, and the women told him they weren't interested.

Buckle persisted, at least verbally, and a physical altercation ensued. Eventually, two men jumped into the fray. When it was over, some of the women had sustained minor injuries and Buckle was taken to the hospital with stab wounds to his abdomen. The two men disappeared.

After almost a year of court proceedings, four of the young women were convicted of assaulting Buckle. Their sentences ranged from 3 1/2 to 11 years.

Bill O'Reilly followed up on the sentencing with a segment called "Violent Lesbian Gangs a Growing Problem" on his show, "The O'Reilly Factor." Among other homophobic falsehoods O'Reilly promoted in the show is that these women are packing pink pistols and raping children. You can do a quick internet search and find several point-by-point analyses of how this segment devolves into an almost pornographic misrepresentation of reality (e.g., the anti-hate group Southern Poverty Law Center has a very cogent rebuttal available online), so I won't …


My own private Idaho

I know it's wrong but I can't help myself. When I heard about U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) getting busted for soliciting gay sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, I laughed so hard I almost snorted hot coffee out my nose.

I shouldn't laugh. It's not charitable. But for us LGBT types, finding out that another hupstandin Republican bloviator likes it gay-n-anonymous gives us a certain satisfaction. These revelations are both unbelievable and at the same time make so much sense, in that tragic we-hate-what-we-know-we-should-resist-but-just-can't-resist TV movie of the week sort of way.

The laughter's the easy part, though, and frankly, it's getting old. We should no longer be surprised that the big ol' Republican tent is well-upholstered and nicely appointed with mid-century Scandinavian design like something out of Architectural Digest. So many Republicans are getting busted with their pants down, I think it's time for the party to have a heart-to-heart with the American public. Just march 'em all out on stage for us, tell us who's gay, and get back to planning war on Iran.

The scary part of this whole Larry Craig mess is that, instead of accepting reality, a quiet consensus on the right way to get caught doing the extramarital nasty seems to be developing. As several prominent Republicans distanced themselves from Craig, the careful observer could hear them complaining that the real problem is the senator's flat-out denial.


They point to Sen. David Vitter's (R-Louisiana) quick apology for using the services of the D.C. Madam and ask, "Why can't you be more like David?" Craig's been going it alone instead of asking for the advice of the top dogs and following it to the letter: Get busted. Say that mistakes were made. Ask for the public's forgiveness. Kiss your wife while the cameras roll. Invoke God. Go on retreat with your family and a prominent pastor. Hang at home for a while and come back to Capitol Hill a changed man. Amen.

I don…