Five queer alternatives to the Super Bowl

Yes, Yes… I know… plenty of gay men enjoy football, are fans even, and there are lots of LBT fans as well, but if you’re like me you greet all the hoopla over the Super Bowl with a resounding “meh.”

So if you’re looking for a way to avoid a (morning) afternoon (and evening (seriously, how long are football games supposed to be?)) of indecipherable sports jargon, over-hyped commercials and disproportionate passion for the accomplishment of moving dead pig parts 300 feet here are some alternatives with a decidedly queer bent you might enjoy (don’t worry, you can Tivo Madonna’s half time show):

1. ¡Women Art Revolution at The Museum of Fine Arts

Starting from its roots in 1960s in antiwar and civil rights protests, the film ¡Women Art Revolution details major developments in women’s art through the 1970s. The Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston presents this documentary at 5 pm on Sunday at the The Museum of Fine Arts’ Brown Auditorium Theater (1001 Bissonnet). Artist Lynn Randolph and U of H art history professor Jenni Sorkin will be on hand to provide insight into the film

!W.A.R. features Miranda July, The Guerilla Girls, Yvonne Rainer, Judy Chicago, Yoko Ono, Cindy Sherman, and countless other groundbreaking figures. Tickets are $7 and are available at mfah.org.

2. The Rape of Lucrecia at Houston Grand Opera

Written by gay composer Benjamin Britten and scored by Ronald Duncan, The Rape of Lucrecia is set during the decline of the Roman Empire. When a group of soldiers unexpectedly returns home to Rome they find that their wives have all been unfaithful, with the excpection of Collatinus’ wife Lucretia. Later that night the king’s son, Prince Tarquinius, accepts a drunken dare to seduce Lucretia. After she rebuffs his advances Tarquinius forces himself on her spurring Collatinus to rebellion against the king.

The dialogue of the Opera (which is in English by the way) is punctuated by two choruses, one male and one female, who engage the audience in the emotional responses of the male and female characters respectively.

The Rape of Lucretia plays at the Houston Grand Opera (510 Preston) at 2 pm on Sunday. Tickets start at $38 and may be purchased at HoustonGrandOpera.org.

4. The Drunken City at the Rice University, Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts

“The city’s like a monster, like a sleeping dragon or some dark creature in the night that cracks open an eye, and whispers dark dangerous dark ideas into your ear.”

The Drunken City is populated by thoroughly unpleasant people, the kind of loud sequin-wearing party girls who can immediately turn a hip bar passe and the men who hunt them. Marnie, the alpha-female and soon-to-be bride, has taken her co-worker bridesmaids out on the town for a ladies night. Seriously inebriated, they soon run into Frank and Eddie. Frank quickly takes a shine to Marnie, despite her girlfriends objections. Eddie, on the other hand, isn’t interested in any of the girls but seems to know their shared boss quite well (if you catch my drift). The play is sprinkled through with warnings about human desire and the dangers of consumption.

The Drunken City is presented by the Rice University College of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Hamman Hall on the Rice Campus (6100 Main) at 3 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or by calling 713-348-PLAY .

Steve Bullitt as Hay and Mitchell Greco as Gernreich

4. The Temperamentals at Barnvelder Movement/Arts Complex

The off-Broadway hit The Temperamentals, by Jon Marans, explores the events surrounding the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of the first “gay rights” groups in America (although the Society for Human Rights has it beat by a quarter of a century). The story centers on Harry Hay (Steve Bullitt), a communist and Progressive Party activist and his lover Rudi Gerneich (Mitchell Greco), a Viennese refuge and costume designer. Set in the early 1950′s in Los Angeles, the play is an intimate portrayal of two men who created history and the epic struggle they overcame.

Sunday’s curtain for the Celebration Theater produced play is at 3 pm at the Barnvelder Movement/Arts Complex. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at buy.ticketstothecity.com.

5. Closing Night of Bring It On: The Musical at Theater Under the Stars

Bring It On: The Musical finishes up its run at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby Suite 300) on Sunday. Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) presents this musical re-imagining of the 2000 film with a matinee at 2 pm and an evening showing at 7 pm.

Two rival cheer-leading squads are out for the national championship, and neither is going to give up without a fight. The ensemble for the show features some of the nation’s most skilled competitive cheerleaders led by Taylor Louderman and Adrienne Warren as the leaders of the rival squads.

Tickets start at $24 and are available on-line at TUTS.com, by phone at (713) 558-TUTS (8887), or in person at the Theatre Under The Stars Box Office (800 Bagby).

—  admin

The Roman Catholic Church indulges in moral relativism on civil unions

The opposition of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is legendary.  Not only does the Catholic Church lobby for anti-equality constitutional amendments and against marriage equality laws, it has been known to fundraise for those efforts and circulate referendum petitions during Holy Mass while the priest gives a homily on obedience.

Not satisfied with undermining marriage equality, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States also tries to undermine passage of civil union and domestic partnership laws by alleging that those second-class legal constructs somehow erode the “sanctity” of civil marriage for heterosexuals.  Civil unions are “an assault on the sacrament and institution of marriage and the family” is how the Diocese of Bridgeport put it.

In light of all that, it is tempting to assume it was a foregone conclusion that the Illinois Catholic Conference would take a proactive position in opposition to the Illinois civil unions bill and bemoan the bill’s passage after the fact.  But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion at all, because in actuality the Roman Catholic Church indulges in moral relativism where civil unions and domestic partnerships are concerned.
Washington

In 2009 the Washington State Catholic Conference sent one man to a few legislative committees to quietly testify against SB 5688, the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009.  The man was not accompanied by supporters or sign-wavers.  

After the law passed, WSCC posted an unsigned statement on their main web page in support of a referendum aimed at repealing it.  The posting was made with no fanfare and beyond these acts the Catholic Church machine remained silent.  Unlike in other states, Catholic parishoners were not rallied at church to sign the referendum petition, donate to the anti-equality campaign or vote a particular way.

Apparently the Catholic Church, like most of its religious-right colleagues in Washington, saw this particular referendum as a non-starter and thus gave it lip service but no solid backing.  Indeed, Chief of Staff Siler of the Yakima Diocese stated that “our resources are limited, and we think the more important issue will be the question of gay marriage”.  (Curious statement, given that the Catholic Church stated that the battle over the domestic partnership law was about marriage.)

Undoubtedly the Catholic Church’s minimal participation in the domestic partnership debate was also with an eye towards keeping people in the pews.  Washington has a small Roman Catholic population, many of whom live in the Puget Sound region which heavily supports LGBT equality and sends pro-equality legislators to the state legislature.

Thus to all appearances the Catholic Church acted in Washington based on political and pragmatic calculations rather than standing on principle and boldly defending heterosexual-only marriage from what they said they considered a true threat.

New Jersey

The Catholic Conference of Illinois’ publication “Promoting Civil Unions to Undermine Marriage” was intended to explain their anti-civil union position but ironically the title can truthfully be read to mean that the Catholic Church in fact promotes civil unions when doing so might undermine marriage equality legislation.

On December 7, 2009 the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act“, a marriage equality bill (S1967).  Committee chair Senator Paul Sarlo and Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference had the following exchange (emphasis added):

SENATOR SARLO:  Thank you, Mr. Brannigan.

I have one question.  Does the Catholic Church support–  We understand there’s some potential — there’s loopholes in the Civil Union law — the current Civil Union law — that prevents same-sex couples from having the same rights as heterosexual couples.  Does the Catholic Church support this Legislature amending the Civil Union law to close up every possible loophole?

MR. BRANNIGAN:  Yes.  The Catholic Church is–  Within a week after the Civil Union Act was passed, I issued a memorandum to all of our institutions.  As a matter of fact, when Seton Hall University then did a global e-mail to all employees notifying them that they should check with their health benefits because now the University was offering benefits to same-sex couples — and the University noted myself as the author of the direction — there was — I received quite a few calls from some individuals who didn’t agree with that position.  But we do support the Civil Union Act.

This is a complete reversal from the New Jersey Catholic Conference’s opposition in 2006 when the New Jersey Legislature was working to pass the civil union law.  By 2009 however the political landscape had changed and the Legislature was considering a marriage equality law.  It seems clear that under those circumstances the Catholic Church chose to cut its losses and say it supported civil unions so it could declare that marriage equality was not necessary.  As happened in Washington state, the Catholic Church in New Jersey walked away from principle after making a political calculation.

Maine

In 2009 the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland lent its public affairs director Mark Mutty to Stand for Marriage Maine to lead the marriage equality law ballot repeal effort.  During a debate on the referendum, Mutty strongly endorsed civil unions:

However, it is totally unnecessary for marriage to be redefined in order for them to have those benefits. There are alternatives, and those alternatives I think we’re all familiar with, enhanced domestic partner legislation, and other like arrangements can be made that do not fundamentally change the definition of marriage but yet provides those same benefits that they seek. And I fail to see how those benefits would not be available through these alternative arrangements as well as they would through marriage and I think that is the ultimate compromise…

…and again, enhanced domestic partnership legislation, a number of other options, civil unions is certainly an option that will provide all those same benefits, yet recognize that the two relationships are fundamentally if nothing else biologically very different.

Of course this was contrary to the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and presumably Mutty’s boss Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland: “We strongly oppose any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage – by naming them marriage, civil unions, or by other means.”

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales openly supports civil partnerships despite pointed rebukes from Pope Benedict.  ”Civil partnerships are precisely what they say they are. They’re not gay marriages or lesbian marriages. They’re simply a legal arrangement between two people so that they can pass on property and other rights in which they were discriminated against before,” said Bishop of Nottingham Malcolm McMahon earlier this year.  His view was supported recently by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales who said “We did not oppose gay civil partnerships. We recognized that in English law there might be a case for those.”

Despite many statements to the contrary, the Catholic Church clearly doesn’t believe that civil unions and domestic partnerships are intrinsic threats to heterosexual-only marriages or they would be fighting them hard at every turn rather than quietly ducking the issue (Washington) or outright endorsing civil unions (New Jersey, Maine and United Kingdom).  Call it pragmatism, call it moral relativism, either way the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t always practice what it preaches on the “assault to the sacrament” that allegedly is civil unions.
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—  admin

The (Roman Catholic) Empire Stikes Back

From the Vatican News Service, Zenit:

In response, the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate published a communiqué Tuesday, stating, “We lament that on expressing these concepts in public opinion, there are those who recriminate and threaten, warning of intolerance, when tolerance is the possibility that we all express our opinion and positions.”

 
They warned of slander, not intolerance

“We believe that equating these unions with the name of marriage is a lack of respect, both of the very essence of marriage between a woman and a man, expressed in Article 4 of the country's Constitution, as well as of the customs and culture itself that have governed us for centuries,” the bishops affirmed.

Do you mean the culture of the Catholic Church that was imposed upon the Aztec and Mayan peoples at swordpoint, and brought them slavery, smallpox and syphillis?

The archbishopric of Guadalajara also published a communiqué, in which it warned that the American Psychological Association has indicated that children who grow up with parents who are in a homosexual relationship have three times as much risk of suffering from depression.

Which others attribute to religiously inspired discrimination….

The Church will not roll over on this, they struck back in Ireland where they re-instated Bishops enmeshed in the paedophile scandals and they got away with their abuses in Mexico. If nothing else, they will in the end try and incite a revolution or at least an electoral overturn of the government and the Courts

They have a long track record of doing that, you see, and the legal maxim is that “past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.”

Elswehere, Catholic writers and spokespeople equated the Mexican Supreme Court and the Alcalde of Mexico City to Franco and Pinochet; odd choices as it was the Roman Catholic Church who supported both and helped them into power

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright