Outspoken

article placeholder

Melissa Carter: How our country’s journey into space inspired my own journeys

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterI still have stretch marks. They’re not from pregnancy or weight loss. Instead, my stretch marks came in the early ‘80s during a very painful growth spurt. And this week’s final space shuttle landing reminded me of that time.

My love of all things space began at a young age, and my first dream was to be an astronaut. Of course, at the same time my biggest fear was flying so I soon realized the only way I was ever going to see space was by watching “Star Trek.”

My room back in 1981 was filled with images of all things celestial and in my mind those walls doubled as NASA Control. Scotch tape framed images of the space shuttle Columbia, whose maiden voyage had just taken place, at about the time the aching of my growing legs kept me up at night in tears. And to see those images of Columbia’s dusty landing at Andrews Air Force Base helped focus my mind on something other than being elongated in torture like Stretch Armstrong.

article placeholder

Topher Payne: Learning to love the order of a happy home

Playwright and writer Topher PaynePreppy and I had to have a little family meeting about the state of our house. My tendency is to leave dishes in the sink for several days, or remove my underpants and leave them on the dining room table. So when my husband gets up in the predawn hours, he’s dodging dog treats and toys, plus my shoes and various home electronics I left on the floor.

Not much can be done about the dog’s inability to pick up her stuff, so the responsibility for improvement falls on me. It’s your basic chaos vs. order scenario, with me representing chaos. So, I have to learn to love order.

I’ve only seen a couple episodes of “Two and a Half Men,” in syndication, back before we got cable, but I got the basic gist of the premise. Charlie Sheen, boning anything with a willing orifice, is chaos. Jon Cryer is order. Flaccid, pasty, unfuckable order.

article placeholder

Outspoken: Katy Perry, Matilda Cuomo, FIFA and more

“NEW YORK! I [love] U! You’re OFFICIALLY the coolest place on the planet!”

— Pop star Katy Perry, via Twitter, reacting to the New York Senate vote to legalize same sex marriage. (MTV News, June 25)

“Not that doing the right thing should be a matter of public opinion, but support for marriage equality is climbing toward the majority. Voices of fear are being shouted down, winds of change are blowing and we approach a crossroads of possibility where the need for leadership is critical. Two words of advice, then, for President Obama: Evolve faster.”

— Syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, on how President Obama needs to speak out for marriage equality now (Daily Camera, July 4)

article placeholder

Outspoken: Tracy Morgan, Joy Behar and more…

“The truth is if I had a gay son, I would love him just as much as if he was straight. I might have to try to love even more because I know of the difficulty that he would have in society.”

—Comedian Tracy Morgan in one of his many apologies since going on an anti-gay tirade at a June 3 show in Nashville, Tenn., including saying he would stab his son if he were gay. (ABC News, June 21)

“Rock being a male-dominated, testosterone-driven place … I realized that it can be a place that can perpetuate homophobic behavior unless it’s addressed by bands like us.”

article placeholder

A little dirty talk from John Gidding gets me all hot and sweaty

Playwright and writer Topher PayneCritics claim that viewing pornography on a regular basis will eventually distort perceptions of realistic human behavior. The theory is that the first time you see that GayTube video of the UPS guy delivering a surprise package, you’ll recognize it as fantasy. But after you’ve seen 30 or 40 of those scenarios play out to delightful results, it seems a lot more credible.

Advocates argue that watching porn is more like an instructional video: We have much to learn from Matthew Rush. Instead of touching yourself, you’re supposed to be taking notes. I’ve begun to suspect the critics may be right. Porn may have caused me to completely lose touch with reality. But my porn does not feature the UPS guy. It features John Gidding on HGTV’s “Curb Appeal.”

article placeholder

As a young man weighs his options, his mother does the same

Playwright and writer Topher PayneMy friend Barbara’s son has returned from his first year of college appreciably matured, and bearing a bit of intrigue: When asked for updates on the dating front, he announced he is “currently bisexual.”

“What the hell does he mean by currently?” she ponders. “If he’s gay he doesn’t have to dance around it. I’d be thrilled.”

I’m at the convenient midway point between Barbara’s age and her son’s, so I try to explain the current setup. Back in the day, claiming to be bi was seen as letting folks down easy. It was sort of a preview of coming same-sex attractions. For God’s sake, Boy George claimed to be bi, and he’s gay as a picnic basket.

article placeholder

Outspoken: Herman Cain, Reese Witherspoon and more…

Boston Red Sox make 'It Gets Better' video

‘Lady Gaga is an active promoter of the LGTB community; a community we foster. As previously underscored by [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton, gay and human rights are one and the same. I am proud that an Italian-American artist is coming to Rome. We look to the event with interest.”

David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Rome, on news that Lady Gaga will perform June 11 at EuroPride, the continent’s largest LGBT pride event. (Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, June 6)

“Some people say you fight fire with fire: no, you fight fire with water, not with fire. We will put out the blind hatreds of sectarianism not with sectarianism of our own but with love and with solidarity.”

— American-Syrian freedom activist Amina Araf, who wrote the blog ‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’ under the name Amina Abdallah, in a post on Sunday, June 5. On Monday, someone claiming to be Araf’s cousin wrote on the blog that she had been kidnapped by armed men in the Syrian capital. (MSNBC, June 7)

article placeholder

Three decades later, we must ACT UP again

“I check the mirror for spots, irregularities, telltale signs.” — from The Adodi Muse, “It Begins”

This is a peculiar anniversary that marks a generation, a span from birth to full grown, three full decades, since the onset of the greatest public health issue of our time.

Loss is what this commemoration signifies most. Loss beyond measure, rendered in memorial quilt snapshots of real lives lived, loss evoked in the chants of survivors who touched the untouchable, fed their beloved, wiped up the puke and shit, and were given neither a passing mention nor a place at the mourning table. I am 25 years old when I first feel swollen lymph glands. I have only just begun when “It begins.”

article placeholder

Faggot: From schoolyard taunt to America’s most expensive word

Playwright and writer Topher PayneOne of the things I’m really gonna miss about Oprah is her unparalleled agility with a public shaming. Ms. Winfrey had a knack for bringing unsuspecting public figures on her program, thinking they were there to plug their memoir/project/plastic surgery nightmare. The conversation would breeze along, then it’d take an unexpected turn, as it would slowly come to light that Oprah was very disappointed in you.

There are few experiences, I would imagine, more painful than realizing you’ve disappointed Oprah. Back in Bible times, God would express disappointment through burning bushes and worldwide floods. These days, God subjects you to an Oprah Shaming, and the person on the receiving end likely wishes they could just be turned into a pillar of salt and be done with it.

article placeholder

Outspoken: Charles Barkley, Rashida Jones and more…

NBA legend Charles Barkley

“It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”

— NBA Hall of Famer and now sports analyst Charles Barkley (Washington Post, May 17)

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, girls are so pretty and soft. No stubble burn! What am I doing with guys?’ I haven’t dipped back since, but I was very appreciative of the experience.”

— Actress Rashida Jones on kissing Zooey Deschanel in the upcoming film “Our Idiot Brother,” which she says was her first lesbian kiss both on screen and off. (The Advocate, June-July 2011)

article placeholder

Ten years after cancer diagnosis, a few thoughts on survival

Playwright and writer Topher PayneWhen I was 21, I went to the doctor because there was a problem with my balls. Men do not go to the doctor; it’s not ingrained in us. But a man will go to the doctor if there’s an issue with his junk, because we’re very protective of that area.

I came back with a diagnosis of Stage Three Lymphoma. That means it started in one location, and was on the move. Stage Four means it’s everywhere. There is no Stage Five.

Science says we know more about cancer than we used to. We understand how cells metastasize, how to detect it earlier, how to fight it faster. This sounds reassuring, but as a slasher movie geek, I know that giving the killer a more elaborate backstory doesn’t change the motive. It kills because that’s what it was designed to do.

There’s no logical plan of attack. People with Stage Four go on to have healthy lives. People who catch it at Stage One will be inexplicably resistant to treatment, and dead in 90 days. You can’t predict it.