Singing the Praises of Gay Propaganda

steve-nyman-shirtless-skierAt the end of the summer of 2012, a story of mine was included in EM Lynley’s Olympic-themed anthology Going for Gold.  The collection of eight stories about gay Olympians (and their boyfriends, natch) was something of a Reader Favorite, and has seen renewed interest during the ramp-up to the Games of the Twenty-Second Winter Olympiad in Sochi, which arguably has a higher profile in the Queer community than Games past, due to the visibility and virulence of recent anti-gay laws passed in their host country.  Hell, I’m paying attention, and Michael Phelps doesn’t even ice skate.  Specifically, Russia has outlawed “gay propaganda,” which includes not only art and literature but any kind of public or private speech that seeks to legitimize gay people or equalize their families with any that hew to the more traditional model, in order to Protect the Children from being exposed to these notions.

Laff-a-lympicsAnd frankly, I kind of dig being a part of a project that links Gay and Olympics quite so explicitly at this moment in time.  The International Olympic Committee is not exactly famous for its explicit support of LGBTQ equality.  Yes, we’ve had the Laff-A-Lympics, and the Pig Olympics, and 2014 has already crowned the winner of the Selfie Olympics, but if you travel to Cleveland this summer, you will be invited to enjoy the ninth quadrennial Gay Games, so called because weeks before the First-Ever in 1982, the IOC (and the USOC) sued to block the use of the word “Olympics” in conjunction with this particular sporting event.  More recently, a member of the IOC from Italy called the United States’ inclusion of three gay athletes in its official delegation to Sochi “absurd.”  From where I’m sitting, it takes a certain amount of guts to roll up in a country that has recently chosen  not only to pass, but in some cases to harshly enforce, laws against being visibly gay — you know, lest it harm The Children to behold you — and then go on and be gay on what will, for two weeks, be the most visible stage in the world, but I don’t speak it — maybe that’s what “absurd” means in Italian. Continue reading

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You Go, Grandma

wheres the beefI had two pretty boring grandmas.  As far as I know, anyway; it’s not like I ever made much of an effort to get to know them as anything other than a great fan of the bargain basement and the Lawrence Welk Show (my dad’s mom) and the chain-smokingest, best meatball maker ever to come out of Potter, Nebraska (my mom’s). They both lived through the Depression and watched their husbands march off to war and raised reasonably well-adjusted families (we’ll say, for the sake of keeping this post moving…); my dad has four brothers and four sisters — maybe that was quite enough excitement for my Grandma Mil.

rosie-riveter-woman-1944

But, try as we might, we never unearthed much in the way of a secret past for either one of them.  Mil wasn’t a riveter or a welder or a test pilot during World War II; Edie didn’t spy on Hitler or seduce Picasso or play professional baseball.  They were housewives in sensible shoes (Edie did sport the occasional spectator pump in her day, but Mil was Keds all the way) who cracked the very occasional joke and day-to-day did the best they could, and who wants to watch a movie about that? Continue reading