Archive for July 2007

When Ordinary is Extraordinary

July 29, 2007

Last night John and I went to the taping of Ordinary Couples/Ordinary Lives, a documentary about same-sex couples who have been together 10 years or more (One couple, Ian and Ambrose, have been together for 55 years. They were hilarious.) Anyway, we went to support the director, Mark Lee, who is a good friend of ours, and one of the couples being filmed, Duane (Potterdad) and Todd, who are like family.

I was so proud of Duane and Todd. They are not overtly political (though these days, if you are a long-term, same-sex couple you are by default, political). No, they are a hard-working American couple that has been together for 20 years. In addition to their day jobs, they manage a big farm in the country and are raising two of the most loving, kind and respectful kids I know. They, like many other gay families raising children, don’t have a lot of time left over to fight for equality.

Todd is shy and both he and Duane have been reticent to put their family on public view, for obvious reasons. But listening to them and the other couples talk about their lives, their getting together and staying together stories and the challenges they’ve faced was so powerful.

The documentary is being produced from filming to set design by the hard-working Indiana Youth Group, a social/support group for glbt young adults. During the taping I saw the IYG folks paying close attention as the couples spoke. Afterward I noticed some of them snatching up the relationship books that moderator Michelle O’Mara brought for them.

I thought to myself how lucky these kids are to start their young lives with the knowledge that trust, honesty, kindness, support, a strong sense of self, communication, compromise and hard work can result in long-lived love and healthy families for them. Society may tell them otherwise, but as more families like these come out of hiding, the younger generation has better access to the truth.

I didn’t have access to the truth. I was raised to believe the opposite, that all gay people were unstable and promiscuous and that they could not form good relationships until they were “fixed” to be attracted to the opposite sex, a theory I worked for 10 years to apply with nothing but sublimated desires, self-hate and deception to show for it. John and I both drove home last night thanking God that we got through that forest and found each other on the other side. It still seems like a miracle to us.

The most powerful and unexpected moment for me last night was when Duane mentioned in passing that he was youth pastor for our church as part of an answer to a question. When Duane took that job the fact that he was gay didn’t even register to anyone we know as being out of the ordinary because Broadway doesn’t see people in terms of their sexual identity anymore than they see them in terms of eye color.

I realized the full power of that moment after the taping when an obviously religious female couple with six children came straight over to Duane to talk to him about Broadway’s kids program. The number of churches that accept them is small. Evidently, the number with strong kids programs is even smaller.

Then other people including more couples with kids came up to talk to him about the same thing-they were Christian and wanted their families to be in a church but couldn’t find a place to go. Those were sweet conversations to hear, and I would love it if they end up visiting Broadway. We want them. Who am I kidding -we need them — families so strong that they stay healthy and joyful despite opposition from extended family and “you’re not worthy” messages from their former churches? Are you kidding? These are people who understand the value of love.

February 2008 is the tentative documentary debut date. I’m excited about it and the connections that were made last night. Thanks Mark, and Duane and Todd, and any of the other nine couples who happen to read this for sharing who you are. Your vulnerability has already resulted in good things. And as always in the kingdom of God, this is just the beginning.


Grocery Store Confessions

July 24, 2007

I was picking out tomatoes at the grocery store yesterday so I could make fresh salsa. As I tried to imagine what possible virtues hydroponic vegetables possess to offset their tastelessness I noticed a little girl, probably around 6 years old, fondling a pile of fresh green beans nearby. She looked past me to her mom who also was picking tomatoes and asked, “Mommy, what are these?” I thought it was kind of cute but a little sad that she had to ask what a green bean was. Then her mom said, “I don’t really know.” In quiet shock I turned to put the tomatoes in my basket.

It was then that I realized the basket I was using wasn’t mine. I must have mistakenly grabbed someone else’s before I came to the produce aisle. I left the basket there as I looked for someone who appeared to be as confused as I, someone other than the clueless produce mom, who was smartly holding on to her own basket.

I had no luck finding confused people, which isn’t that surprising. Were I a person missing a basket (and I was) I would stroll around the store trying not to look spacey enough to misplace a shopping cart. Happily, I bumped into basket #1. I’d left it in the frozen foods section. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I never went back to the one in produce I’d nabbed. Once I found mine, I just acted as if I’d left it to pick up some tomatoes, grabbed the handle bar and headed for the check-out.

My punishment for not trying harder to reconnect the owner with the stray basket and for pretending not to be senile was forgetting the cilantro I’d planned to use in my salsa.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Are Upon Us

July 24, 2007

Back in the late 1980s,just before the PTL scandal broke I watched a lot of PTL, not because I connected with it personally, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of the spectacle of everything they did. From fundraising to throwing up a Christian theme park, Heritage USA in what seemed like a day–it was a frantically billowing mushroom cloud of gospel glitz.

But within days, Jim and Tammy’s scandal brought down all of the superfluous mess in a heap and left their souls and thousands of others searching, humble and financially strapped.

It was the humility-filled Tammy Faye that I fell in love with. Her heart became so tender after that time. She didn’t pretend to have all of the answers, and I don’t know that she ever really figured her life out (who does?). She kept her faith pretty much as it was, but after the salacious dust settled she just came out loving everybody in a whole new way.

Tammy did the interview a few days before she died. Knowing how put together she preferred to look, I think it represented a new level of humility for her, and it was, in my opinion, the most glorious farewell performance she could have mustered.

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll put the documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye in your Netflix que. As the tagline says, “she’ll make a believer out of you.”

Just Can’t Stop the Beat

July 20, 2007


Back in 1988 I talked some college friends at U of A into seeing John Water’s movie Hairspray with me.   I loved it.  They hated it.  I liked the subversive optimism of the film.  They didn’t get it.   Whatever you think of Divine, she certainly was in this film – kind of trashy, innocent and sweet. 


The little movie has had quite a life, becoming a Broadway musical in 2003 and now it will re-premier this weekend on the big screen as a movie musical.  People talk about how this film genre is dead, but I think as long as some people depend on movies as an escape pod, the movie musical will live.   


Anyway, we’re going to see Hairspray: The Musical this Sunday.  In a rare leap of faith that the movie’s re-adaptation(?) will be successful I bought the soundtrack (the only one left at Borders) earlier this week so I could sing along during the film.  I promise I’ll just mouth the words.


The soundtrack is really fun. I was glad to hear that the songs keep an inexplicable hope in the future in spite of current circumstances.  Tracy Turnblad seems to live as if the big changes have already happened.  At a time when I frequently can only think of the battles left to fight, it does me good to hear a more “You just can’t stop the beat” kind of message.    

A Question For John Edwards

July 18, 2007

Over at Pam’s Houseblend I learned that CNN is working with You Tube to come up with questions for an upcoming Democratic presidential candidate debate. This 30-second question for John Edwards from Rev. Reggie Longcreier of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory North Carolina is one for which I would love to hear an answer.

More Than Meets the Eye

July 17, 2007

When John got home from Puerto Rico last Friday I told him we only had two things on our to do list for the weekend – 1. See the new Harry Potter movie, 2. See Transformers. HP was quite satisfactory. But Transformers was everything a summer movie should be–funny and fast-paced with lots of things being blowed up real good.

Kudos to Hasbro for making a movie that would appeal to the nostalgia of early 30-something fathers who will take their kids to see this movie and create an entirely new generation of Transformer consumers for them.

If you go, know the movie definitely has the obligatory requisite snarky kid moments, but the acting and writing are pretty solid, even though I didn’t really understand the Autobots’ logic behind having a showdown with Megatron in a large city where humans are in greater danger of being trod upon (silly Autobots, the goal is to SAVE the humans). Still, I was more than normally slack-jawed throughout a good portion of the film because the visuals are incredible. On the way home I had to confess to John and brother Ben, who joined us for both movies, that even though I know Transformers aren’t really hiding among us I kept half expecting one of the semis driving next to me on the interstate to rear up and turn into Optimus Prime.

All in all, it was a near perfect movie going experience – we got to the theater early, refills on Icees were free (I got another one before the previews even started), we had our pick of seats, and the movie was totally entertaining. A great night of summer fun.

Icee Me!

July 11, 2007

cupI buy an Icee, those cups of mushy, frozen sugary goodness you eat with a spraw (spoon/straw) anytime I see a functioning machine that makes them. I prefer Coke flavored ones, with cherry running a close second. But I’ll eat any flavor in a pinch, except orange. Who am I kidding? I would totally eat an orange Icee.

I think I’m such a compulsive Icee buyer because they’re so ephemeral. While you can always count on 7-11 to carry Slurpees, their version of an Icee, the odds of the Coke side actually working are about 4 to 1. In fact, there is a 50/50 chance that all of the flavors will just be sitting their twirling in their disappointing liquid form, so normally I don’t stop at 7-11 only to get a Slurpee. But if my gas gauge reads below half a tank as I pass one you can bet I’ll pull in so I can check to see if things are solid that day.

Why is it so hard to keep these machines working? Icee machines have been lame since I was a kid when my mom bought them for me at Magic Mart. Aren’t we talking simple thermodynamics? Do they need a plutonium core or something to keep things frozen on a consistent basis?

The good news is that more places carry Icees these days. Movie theaters! And Target has them, too, but as Karen pointed out to me, where we shop (the Target in Nora, or as Dave calls it Target High School [THS], because the building looks, well, like a suburban high school) you pay for them at one counter and fill them up in the Starbucks (?). You can’t see if the machines are working where you pay, so remember to check first.

Yes, I love Icees. You can keep your Mister Mistys and their poor Quicky Mart cousins the annoying Slurpees (I meant Slush Puppys, sorry). The closest thing to an Icee in terms of summer refreshment, in my opinion, is a Cherry Limeade from Sonic (crushed ice only please), but you can always count on those, so there’s no gambling involved. Give me the pay off of discovering the perfectly ready to pull Icee and I’ll be happy.

Update: I only realized this when I saw it on my “party” tag surf results, but yesterday when I posted this was 7-11-07, 7-11’s birthday and they were actually giving away free Slurpees! I was totally channeling Slurpee mojo.