Monday, June 27, 2011

56th Day of Summer

Oh yeah, my blog. I watched something on the news the other night about how some people are making money off of their blogs, so if you could tell your friends and I could gather 5000 or so followers, I'd appreciate it.
Let's see, New York decided to make an appearance to the 21st century. The gays can get married, or as my dad says "Do they not see married people, why do they want to torture themselves????" I have to agree with the far right, homosexuals getting married is going to ruin the "sanctity" of marriage...... ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!???!! The sanctity?? Sanctity?? You might be able to come up with a lot of arguments why you're against it, but please keep sanctity out of the equation. Have you watched tv lately?? Do you see who is holding up the sanctity of marriage in our country? Britney Spears, Dennis Rodman, Elizabeth Taylor, Lindsay Lohan, the entire casts of the Bachelor and the Bachelorette, Larry King, Hugh Hefner, and everyone else who has made their marriages last as long as Britney Murphy's drug career.
I would comfortably say I have a couple hundred friends who are in openly gay relationships. Most of them put my heterosexual friends relationships to shame. Hell, they put my past relationships to shame. There might be large groups of people who would give me a list of "facts" why this law shouldn't have passed. I'm truly hoping that none of these protestors are either women or a member of a minority race. Guess what? I never lived through the civil rights movement or when women weren't allowed to even sit in a classroom or church, but I'm assuming it's about the same thing. Here are people, who are happy WITH THE WAY THEY WERE BORN, and want the same rights everyone else gets. Isn't that what Martin Luther King wanted? Or Virginia Woolf? Or Betty Friedan? Now the names are George Takei or Rosie O'Donnell. I think we made a huge turning stone this week and I bet when my generation's kids are my age, they won't be able to think of a time when homosexuals couldn't get married. The same way that I don't remember blacks not being allowed to vote. Or women holding a public office. Or minorities being allowed to play on professional sports teams. I mean this is the white heterosexual male's country!! At least that's what we told all the native americans before we took the land and killed all of them. Duh.
But.........I do believe in change. I do believe in progress. I believe living in the stone age prohibits our growth. I believe times change and we adapt to those changes. But it takes some time and patience. I remember when the no smoking law hit NYC while I was bartending and we were convinced all of our jobs would disappear, no one would go out anymore, and people would rather buy a six pack and smoke in their apartments than have to go out to a smoke free bar. We were wrong. It took about 6 months for everyone to figure out how it was going to work, but 10 years later, no one thinks twice about the rule now. And it's spread across the country but it's not made a big deal of anymore. People adapt.
Gay rights has been a hot topic for years. Extremely hot. So hot that half of our country thinks the other half wants to kill them all and send them to hell. The "God Hates Fags" church appears at military funerals to protest. I can't believe no one has shot them yet. I'm very surprised by that. When this law passed last week, the first people I thought of were some of my closest friends who have been together for years and can now share the same bond that my parents have. Men who have lived together for 20 years and love each other the same amount they did the first day. Women who tell there co workers that they've been dating each other for 5 years and get the response, "Wow, I didn't even know you were gay".
So the next morning rolls around and the news on all the stations are how the law passed in NYC and everyone's reaction to it. And my worst fear came to light. CNN cuts to a celebration, most likely in Chelsea, from the night before and you would think Studio 54, La Cage aux Folles, and Ru Paul's drag show looked like they were having an orgy. Now..... as someone who lived in NYC, I know where these parties were and most likely us actors would have ended up somewhere near them if I lived there, but here I was in Orlando Fl watching 4 men in body glitter and thongs grind up on 3 drag queens wearing extremely flamboyant pink feather costumes. I smiled. I was so happy for them. But then I thought of the 6 men sitting in a bar in Mississippi who don't even think they have seen a gay person in their life thinking that this was what this law meant. The "freaks" getting their way. The reason people are prejudiced and racist is because they usually don't understand. They have preconceived stereotypical images in their head that are the worst of what they can imagine. I was upset at CNN for not helping this "change" be shown for how special it really is for so many millions of Americans. I wanted to see the young couples. The older couples. The couples that defined exactly what love means and how happy they were. This is why the theater community rose up together. We have so many friends who feel equal. That they can hold their head up high. That they fought and won.
There will always be hate in this country. For every race, gender, and orientation. Hate crimes will continue to happen and that's just sad. This law is not going to change anyone's mind over night. But I do think that over time this will come to be a thing of the past. We'll laugh that we kept a group of Americans on the back of the bus or out of the church. We'll change and grow together. People will think that NY has given rights to their "images" of what homosexuality is, but they're wrong and we as a people have to grow up and realize that we are here for each other. We only slow ourselves down if we're against one another. We make people aware. We do our job to promote how much good all of us can do. As someone in the heterosexual community, I hope we don't ever let the gay community down. You know the people you can count on. Congratulations.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30th Day of Summer

A lot calmer of a day. I know some of you said couldn't wait to see what happened on day #2 but we started off with sitting on the couch watching mickey mouse and pouring cheerios. Much easier than the bread instructional video. After that we ventured off to Cedar Point. This was a whole new experience of an amusement park for me. It was just me and her.
After getting into the park and looking at all the big rides and being jealous of all the high schoolers who were going to the upside down, twisty, corkscrewy, fasty, and screaming rides..... Tatum and I went into the Hello Kitty store and she told me about all the characters and more facts that I forgot by the time we walked out. We braved it and rode the Merry Go Round. I rode a rabbit in honor of my roommate, Russell. Then we went to Snoopy Land. Yup, next to Snoopy Land is the...well, I don't know the name of it but it should be called "Holy Shit this ride is awesome!!" I watched them as I was lifted up and down on the Snoopy submarine. From there we got icees and made our way to Camp Snoopy to see the shows.
After getting lost, three times, we found snoopy land and we instantly went to the Tatum's favorite ride, The Jr. Gemini. This is a roller coaster that is actually pretty good for very young kids. It's "just right" for them. The downfall is it takes longer to get strapped in than the ride actually lasts so they let you go twice. She rode that 7 times. We didn't put our arms down once the whole time! Probably more of feat for her than me. I was trying to grab the tree limbs as we went by. Another icee later and a corndog, we went to see the Peanuts Gang dance. Holy crap. It was 90 degrees, these actors were in full costume, probably 130 degrees inside and had to dance for all..... 4 of us. There were more characters than people watching. My need to take care of the uncomfortableness set in and I made a fool of myself and did more entertaining than the characters who looked like they'd rather be at the hello kitty store.
After that was Karaoke with Snoopy. "With" is a stupid word here since sweaty actor playing Snoopy just stood there and gave high fives. Since the place was packed with Tatum and I, she of course got embarrassed and guess who sang at the 3'4" microphone stand: Uncle Jason. I tore the place up with killer rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and when I busted into my opera voice Tatum curled up in a ball and looked around in case any of her boyfriends saw her. Tatum still didn't want to sing but I finally convinced her to sing the alphabet song. I told her it was in alphabetical order so she should have no problem. She sang it and the girls working the gig told her how great she was. Of course she was! She's my niece!
But this brings me to my lesson of the day. After we left karaoke with standing silent Snoopy, I asked her why she was so hesitant of singing. Surprisingly she said "It was embarrassing". There were 2 girls, a standing sweaty Snoopy, and eventually a father and son and she was embarrassed. To some this wouldn't be big news. Kids get embarrassed, they get shy and hide. But I have been doing soul searching lately that would leave Buddha amazed and the issues I'm finding with shame, embarrassment, fear, and risk taking seems like it's something learned in life. We as humans are scared to death of embarrassing ourselves. Shame tears or insides apart. We fear showing someone that we aren't as good as we want to be and that will destroy our future and opinions made of us. If we can avoid looking bad in front of someone, we will. We'd rather do nothing than something if it meant we'd be comfortable. We prefer to only do things we're good at and are quick to point out when someone doesn't do something that is up to our standards. OUR standards. If people lived up to OUR standards, the world would be much better. At the age of 35, I understand the logic of this and see that it happens. But a 6 year old? Where does that core emotion of embarrassment stem from? What does this girl have to fear by doing something. What in our society has started those feelings at such an early age? Let's say she sings and does awful, what deep feeling has already formulated inside her that she has fear of the consequences. We all live with fear. Most problems we suffer from are all fear based. Fear of ___. What in the hell does a 6 yr old have to fear? This isn't about her personally, she just opened my eyes to this question that has been floating around in my head for awhile.
To be in front of someone is being vulnerable. We hate to be vulnerable because it usually leads to pain. By protecting our vulnerability, we protect ourselves from pain. Has she experienced pain? And if so, what kind of pain does a young child experience that we forget about as we get older? We hate to be wrong. We would give anything not to be wrong. Kids are always wrong. What difference do they know?
The funny thing about this story is if you asked my family to name the two people who were always the center of attention, they'd name me and Tatum. But when I looked at her saying that today, it's the curse that haunts every performer I saw in her behavior. As much as we perform, entertain, make people feel included, are the first to volunteer for anything..... we possess a fragile side of us that doesn't coincide with what we do. It's what has held as back as artists for centuries. We are scared to embarrass ourselves. We are afraid to be wrong. We are scared to be negatively judged. We are one pin prick away from everything we know ourselves to be from exploding into nothing. Here's my frustration: If we as artists did away with those negative feelings, there is not one thing in this universe that would stop us from being able to make every thing we dream of to come true. To change the world. To create art that was more powerful than any other force. But........ we're scared..... so it doesn't happen.
I was able to think through all this while she rode the bumper boats and Snoopy bounce house. Later, we got back to the car and it took her about 30 seconds to fall asleep. I didn't need to ride those big rides. I had the most fun thing with me the whole day.