Australian 2011 Mardi Gras was riveted together with performances and spirit unlike any other I’ve seen in the world. From the parade to the parties, the momentum kept building.
The theme this year was a blank speech balloon like those used in comic books. The idea behind it was for people to ‘say something’ by filling the balloon with your personal message for Mardi Gras and GLBTQ rights.
Whether it be gay rights, trans rights, bullying, gay marriage, you could say anything you wanted.
It was explained to me, like many large events, that no matter what theme gets chosen–year after year–someone’s point of view always gets left out. However, this year there was no way to not be included as the theme was completely customizable and open ended. Pretty brilliant in my opinion.
A man named Kabi thought of the Say Something theme. I had the pleasure of hanging with during my time with the Wet Ones Swim Club and then at the Mardis Gras 2011 Harbor Party. I can say he is as brilliant as he is humble. Not to mention he is a snappy dresser.
From the Say Something 2011 Mardi Gras site:
Kabi has been volunteering for the Parade since 1988 when he made the Cupie dolls’ angel wings that accompanied the Order of Perpetual Indulgence’s infamous Fred Nile head in the Parade of that year. Kabi and his group ethel yarwood enterprises have since created some of the most memorable and iconic Parade entries of the past 23 years. They have collected 8 Parade awards for their efforts and entertained whilst contributing to the fame and prominence of the Festival.
Here he explains the reason and purpose for the 2011 season concept.
The equal rights movement for gays and lesbians in Australia was ignited because in 1978 activists took to the streets of Sydney to bravely Say Something about the criminalisation of our sexuality and the oppression of our culture. From this seed of the 78′ers dissent, The Sydney Gay Mardi Gras was established. Through the combination of art, politics and courage we have employed this platform to Say Something about ourselves, our struggles and our triumphs, our losses and our gains.
Over the ensuing period, through its many forms and structures, this protest has grown into a world renowned festival encompassing multiple disciplines of the arts, parties, community gatherings and the Parade. Saying Something is a thread that runs through the entire festival. Writers Say Something to their readership. Speakers, performers, painters, photographers, dancers, actors, film directors, artists of all persuasions want to Say Something to their audiences to share an idea, an experience, to connect.
The very fact that 70,000 proud community members assemble at the Fair Day/Launch including our supporters, friends and family really Says Something about the power of the tribe, the strength of kinship.
The parade offers the community and sponsors the opportunity, and lays down the challenge, to pass commentary about issues affecting the local and international GLTQ family, and use our uniquely camp, larrikin view of the world to highlight and lampoon topical issues. Whether a single entrant or a marching mass of muscle marys, we will have an impact that resonates beyond the moment if we actually Say Something.
Additionally we will endeavour to exploit the digital age of the interweb. We will present to you new and exciting formats in which to participate in this campaign so that your messages can be instantly broadcast around the world.
So Say Something about injustice.
Say Something to your mother.
Say Something critical.
Say Something funny.
Say Something with passion.
Say Something to the cute visitor that will have him or her return to our shores again.
Say Something about equality.
Just get out there, this is your chance to Say Something.
Find them on Facebook.
Here’s Kylie Minogue’s Mardi Gras 2011 Say Something Message:
Reader Struggles with Knee Jerk Reaction to Saving Historical Gay Bars – What Are Your Thoughts on Passive Gay Culture?
My post on the Death of Beloved SF Institution: The Eagle resulted in a number of emails and comments. While the end for the Eagle may or may not be near, a dialogue this post sparked is worth sharing.
Read the following and let me know your thoughts on the evolution of gay culture.
From Riley, regarding my post on the death of the Eagle:
I struggle with the knee jerk reaction to “save historical gay bars”– our “gay culture” is radically changing- morphing into something we don’t seem to be guiding – so we jump to save the past versus sweating to build a future– many people criticize our ‘passive gay culture’ as compared to generations before– but it’s not a simple discussion: it’s complex and includes big topics such as our relevance/potency as a RACE of people to the rest of the people/races on this planet!
So much of our history is steeped in bar culture (which has been slowly dying and proving an antiquated model for social interaction/ transcendence): just as the clubs/nightclubs have become nearly non-existent in SF, it seems the bar culture is facing the same fate.
Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is what new concepts/constructs do we need to BUILD for the modern queer race.
What is the evolution of the bar? I believe this also ties into the dialogue of what is the relevance of “gay community” centers…
I’m not sure locking myself to a bulldozer going nose to beak with the Eagle is activism. I’m more interested in rallying every young LGBTQ (etc, etc) individual to interview/document the stories/struggles/history of his or her eldest queer friend–now that’s saving our history!!!
The SF Eagle is a place of Sunday ‘worship’ (yes a double entendre). It’s a place of brotherhood and transcendence for many men (from raw laughter, to raw sex, to stimulant inspired highs). I am thankful it exists, thankful for its history; thankful of its influences on me, and for the many, many, many memories it holds. And for the many who have held me there.
The beauty/liberation of our bar culture is tempered with the destructive nature of bars in general. For the many people we lose to abuse, we still don’t seem to have created an option– a new forum/model.
Some say the Internet/technology and online sex killed nightlife/dance clubs-and now killing the bar scene–some say it was/is drugs that kills the scene– some say its because gay bars have become so body/age/race specific — Darlings, WE kill the optimism by misusing the tools — so don’t blame the tools- we simply need to figure out how to use the tools to build a better solution.
“Gay bar” owners have a larger pressure than a str8 bar owner… They inherit a responsibility to the queer cultural as their businesses are frequently the PRIMARY hubs for queer culture (which historically use to be sanctuaries/havens, now really just venues with ties to a historic past). Look at Lonestar, the difficulty of those boys navigating through honoring the past/present/future generations. They struggle at great expense to innovate new ways to mix the segregated gay community” – pay homage to the past while welcoming the future.
Perhaps there is a poem/hidden message in the story/potential fate of the SF Eagle (a gay American icon).
I personally know Stanley (the architect with the proposed schematic), he is a wise, talented, potent and influential architect- and he is an openly gay man. He is a credit and trophy to our race. His ideas/aesthetic have added to the evolution of SF. He is an ACTIVIST in my opinion because his actions are conscious contributions to find/create better ways of living verses talking about contributing (as so many others do). I have not discussed the Eagle site with him- but I guarantee he has something interesting to say.
Hmmmmm? The potential replacement of the old ‘dirty’ Eagle with a stark minimalist/contemporary community dwelling (likely with gay/straight tenants living side by side) designed by a widely celebrated ’gay /South African architect’ — is this a poignant commentary of our own queer gentrification?
I miss the era when gay culture contributed beauty– when the angst of our struggle/oppression was expressed through influential/inspiring aesthetics.
Perhaps as we grow closer to the prize of ”acceptance”/”integration” we will lose more and more of what bonded us together – pain/angst… Desperation for expression of self.
I’m eager to see what this gorgeous thing we once called “gay culture” is going to evolve into if into anything, I know I have to let go of my definitions of what it has been- my nostalgia is part of my personal identity. But keepsakes get heavy— the young queers of today are living in a world I never thought I’d see in my lifetime- And they appear to be packing very lite baggage. I hope they can help develop new tools or better ways to use the old ones.
Earlier this week I saw a post on Facebook talking about the sale of the SF Eagle. Today it became all too much of a reality, when another reader sent me mock-ups for the building proposed to go on the site of the Eagle.
According to Socketsite, renderings for “1600 Harrison” have sat perched in the Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects portfolio. The site also reports there have been rumors the Eagle has been up for sale since the beginning of 2010.
For those of you that may not know the Eagle, it’s an institution here in San Francisco and one of original watering holes for the gay community that remains intact.
If we don’t stand up to this gentrification our entire GLBT history will be lost and our social circles crushed. It’s not just a bar. It’s part of our communities fabric.
I’m not sure what we can do, but will keep you posted if I find out anything more.
If anyone has more information, please let me know.
My love affair with Juanita More – More! than a icon, More! than star, More! speaks Super Bear This Wednesday
Juanita graced the decks, standing behind the studded leather DJ Booth, she glided record after record into place. A poodle could be seen over her shoulder. This was no miniature Poodle, it was a standard, and it was gilded in gold.
The poodle wasn’t alone. Juxtaposed across a stairway–twelve steps lead up or down–was his mirror image. Coming up the stairs you could see that each stair was etched with some inspiration of deviance.
While we danced, the poodles spent the entire night on their hind legs, two paws in the air, peeing into golden vats that supported their stance. Their aim was precise, and so was Juanita’s set.
And so began my love affair with Juanita More!
It’s almost like she knew. She invited me to amazing meals, in the coming years, serving her famous funky fried chicken. Granted there were 30 – 40 other people at Mars Bar shuffling in and out that day, but I didn’t care. This was between Juanita, me, and her chicken. Her honey kissed deep fried chicken, pressed to my lips.
Shortly after this delicious meal, my suspicions were confirmed, Juantia not only felt the same, she spoke Bear. It was right around Christmas and she sent me a holiday card. Inside was a recipe for meatloaf. At this point I knew it was love.
Let me tell you, I hit his party Fag Bash, in Provincetown this summer, and it was an unbelievable musical experience.
He is one of the finest DJ’s I know. To hear some of his sets, click.
Juanita Speaks Bear Everyday – Awesome T’s
Be sure to check out Juanita’s T-Shirt collection. My favorite is More! Bear.
The only offensive things left on planes are garlic breath, babies not on Benadryl, and flight attendants.
I miss smoking.
Sure smoking was unsanitary and unhealthy, it was also the zeitgeist of an era. Living for pleasure. Pleasure being addiction. And no one caring.
Not so coincidentally, anyone who has been to Zeitgest, a bar in SF, have likely seen all the above. Bad stuff can be really fun.
So what’s next?
While math is not a strong suit, physics are incomprehensible to me. I do know, however, through dating and a multitude of abuses for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.
Make people stop drinking at 2 am, binge drinking happens @ 1.30 right before everyone jumps in their cars. Continually overreact to your three year old, who just learned the word FUCK at preschool, you will likely never get them to stop saying it. The other option, ignore it, don’t react, and eventually–typically one week–it goes away.
Tell kids they can’t drink and they become alcoholics at higher rate of kids in countries where alcohol consumption isn’t an issue, regardless of age. Legalize drugs and watch crime rates drop. Criminalize drugs, give them three strikes as they do in California for even non-violent crimes, and watch the prisons fill beyond capacity without a reduction in non-violent crimes.
Why ‘Just Saying No’ Doesn’t Work
This is a partial expert is from an awesome site called Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. It helps explain the issue, and the power or harm reduction.
Over the past few decades numerous approaches have been tried to detour drug use. The reality is it’s fun and not as bad as authorities say. Early methods emphasized information provision and scare tactics. In the 1980′s America embraced “Just Say No” campaigns. The success of any of these approaches has been questionable at best.
I as many, feel that a major limiting factor of these approaches has been a faulty assumption — namely, that all drug use is unhealthy and therefore that the goal of drug education should be the elimination of all drug consumption.
A harm reduction approach could offer a greater chance of mitigating the negative consequences of drug abuse in the future, because it considers the realistic dynamics of human drug consumption in our past.
Harm Reduction, Sign Me UP!
So while I don’t know what’s going to happen as a result of banning smoking all over the world—including France for god sakes–I’m looking forward a new bad habit and some form of harm reduction so I can enjoy it even longer.
Suicide, the most tragic hate crime of all – five gay teens dead in three weeks as a result of being harassed for their sexuality – What can we do?
Pushed by bullying to the ultimate choice, between life and death, five teens in the last three weeks have killed themselves as a result of being harassed for their sexuality.
Allowing hatred to irreversibly snuff out life is an unacceptable result of the messages and messengers of hate that prey on the GLBT community. The loaded guns are being brought from home, into our schools, and ultimately being put into the hands of those who are unable to fend off their attackers, any longer.
Exhausted, alone, and void of hope the resulting suicides are especially horrifying, as they could’ve been prevented.
The following video narrates a real suicide note of a gay teen (NOTE: this is graphic in nature)
What can we do? Let GLBT youth know they aren’t alone
While many of my friends are gay, it’s especially important we remind our friends and family, who are not, how scary and painful growing up GLBT can be.
Regardless of people’s orientation, religious background, or age we all have to stand up to make sure this doesn’t keep happening.
If a GLBT kid knows they have a straight ally, this can mean the difference between life and death.
We need to arm our kids, and ourselves, with the gift of hope to win the war over hatred.
The Trevor Project can help — 24 hours a day – anywhere in the nation
The Trevor Project provides counseling for youth in risk and guidance for educators and parents with teens at risk.
The Trevor Helpline, a toll-free number, is a confidential service that offers trained counselors. The Trevor Project also provides guidance and vital resources to parents and educators in order to foster safe, accepting and inclusive environments for all youth, at home and at school.