As I sit in my V.I.P. seat up against the bathroom on the Bolt Bus back from D.C. to New York this Monday morning, waiting for last night's Ambien to wear off, I reflect on the 10 most important things I learned this weekend at the National Equality March (and related alcoholic events) about the struggle for LGBT equality, about ourselves, and about D.C. gays and their fashion sense.
1. OBAMA REALLY EXISTS.
Yes, this may sound silly, but, well, have you ever, when you finally saw a famous person in person, been like, "Oh, they really exist, they are not just a digital concoction"? Well, that's how I felt when I saw the president give his oratorio homsexualis at the big fancy Human Rights Campaign dinner Saturday night, the eve of the march. There he was at the podium, though, frankly, from the press balcony, I was so far away, it could have been a stand-in. (Fred Armisen, perhaps?) The overwhelmingly white, male, tuxedo'd diners went gaga (I'll get to her in a minute) over O-Man, even though he didn't lay out a time line or a concrete step for anything except to say that he'd soon sign into law the Matthew Shepard measure, which will expand hate-crimes legislation to include LGBTs.
2. LADY GAGA IS MORE HELPFUL TO GAY RIGHTS THAN OBAMA.
The president himself made this clear when he said he was honored to be "opening" for Gaga at the HRC dinner. And, well, let's face it, every generation of gay activists needs their extreme diva to attach to, their fabulous bespangled mascot, some outsize gay who vocalizes all their dreams, hopes, desires. Judy for Stonewall, Madonna for the ACT UP era, and now Gaga for the gay kids, except the cool thing is that Gaga is unambivalently into being the celeb face of gay rights in a way that Madonna never fully has been. At her tender age, self-described bi-chick Gaga is smarter and more articulate and, somehow, despite the futuro-sexbot costuming, more worthy of respect than Madonna was at the same age (and also perhaps a bit more humble?), perhaps because Gaga grew up in Manhattan while Madonna only had Detroit? Let's think
about that a bit. At the march (see a clip of her speech on the right), Gaga told Towleroad's so-cute-I-want-to-pinch-his-chunky-cheeks Corey Johnson that gays have been her best friends as long as she can remember, "I'm here to protect my friends." Gaga, you are awesome. But you still look like Janice the Muppet.
3. SHERRY WOLF DOESN'T NEED A MIC. Sherry Wolf is an author (Sexuality and Socialism) and activist who spoke alongside Cleve Jones the day before the march at a packed talk at the way-cool cafe Busboys and Poets. "This is our Rosa Parks moment," she told the lefty-ish LGBT-ish crowd. Something about how we wouldn't be on the back of the bus anymore. And also lots of talk about American Empire, and how LGBTs are all caught up in the same struggles as other working-class Americans. But mostly, what you (and Sherry) must know is that Sherry didn't really need that mic. Because she is the World's Loudest Woman. And she probably didn't need the mic she had the next day when she spoke to tens of thousands of people in front of the Capitol. She is That Loud. But certainly also very smart.
4. CYNTHIA NIXON IS SUCH A CUTE FIERCE LESBIAN.
She was always the butchest of the four Sex and the City gals, with her love of pro basketball and beer and all that, but still, how cool is it to see Miranda Hobbes up there talking about equal rights for her and her wife instead of bitching to Steve and poor little Brady about how bored she is in Brooklyn without her girlydrink-swilling girlfriends? A bunch of actors came down to D.C. from New York for the march with the Broadway Impact group, and Cynthia was one of them, and I wish it had been my shoulder she had slept on in those wee early morning hours, and perhaps my Dunkin' Donuts napkin that had gently wiped that bit of cream cheese from the side of her mouth as she dozed, dreaming of her next substantive off-Broadway role. Love you, Cyn!
5. THESE NEW YOUNG GAYS SEEM SO WELL-ADJUSTED, IT'S BORING.
Where are the insane, damaged young queens, the terrifying lesbians bristling with homicidal rage? If there's one thing I noted sweeping the crowds yesterday en route to, and in front of, the Capitol, it's that the crowds were (in addition to being, in my highly unscientific view, overwhelmingly white) young, which is amazing and exciting and as it should be, and it's very moving to see a gay-rights and AIDS-struggle vet like Cleve Jones inspiring these kids to rise up. But, kids, you are all so normal looking. Even if you are not as damaged and twisted as we 40-somethings and up are, can't you at least look like you are? You are not edgy with your American Apparel-Human Rights Campaign "Legalize Gay" T-shirt. And you were all wearing them. Every single one of you, and those of you who say you weren't -- don't even, I know in your heart you were wearing one.
6. THE D.C. GAYS AND HOW THEY DRESS.
Euh, this is such a painful issue I can't even form it into a declarative statement -- it just comes out as "an issue." D.C. gays, where do you I begin with you? I love your city -- it is very beautiful. Coming from New York, I certainly envy your lovely townhouses, your deco and mid-century apartment buildings, the fact that you live in a city but you still have trees and sky views around you, that people don't walk on the streets like they're stalking, or being stalked by, the Devil. But D.C. gays...you have to put the flare-leg jeans away. The short hair with the little gelled quiff in the front. The A&F fetish -- at your age. You are not doing the equality cause any good carrying on like it's still 2002, before even Massachusetts had marriage, or worse yet, like you're stuck in the N'Sync 1998 warp, before even Vermont had civil unions. At least buy some straight-leg jeans and grow out your hair a little. I know there's not much you can do about the tribal arm tattoos without some expense, time, and discomfort.
7. THE TWO BEST SIGNS I SAW YESTERDAY.
I was actually hoping to see more sassy posters. My friend Harold Levine, who nicely arranged for me to stay with Bob and Alex, two lovely, gracious lawyers who basically live in a mansion, carried a funny sign reading, "Zsa Zsa Gabor had nine husbands, I only want one," but as he rightly pointed out, most of the well-adjusted, fresh-faced kids who dominated the march didn't know who Zsa Zsa Gabor was. So probably the two best signs I saw were (I'm paraphasing on this one), "Jesus hung around with 12 dudes...go figure the odds." And: "Jesus Had Two Dads." Which I had to think about for a minute, then, I was like, DUH! Carpenter Joseph...and GOD!
8. THE AMBIEN IS STILL ACTIVE.
Which is making this hard to write, and making it hard to recall much of the past two days. I liked the dance party Blowoff, which is thrown by Hsker D guy Bob Mould and Richard Morel. It was at the satisfyingly dive-y 9:30 Club in the gritty-turned-hipster U Street area, where after the party I had sick-good fried chicken wings, mac and cheese, waffles, collard greens, and candied yams at this old soul place called Oohs and Aahs. Oh, but I didn't tell you about the
moment at Blowoff where Lady Gaga appeared in the V.I.P. balcony. It was cool, because she just stood there with her glass of (I think) wine, wearing the same dark round glasses and black, pouf-skirt dress she'd worn to do her acoustic piano version of "Imagine" at the HRC dinner earlier that night (where she changed the lyrics a bit: "Only Matthew in the sky..." That was lovely.) No announcement or "Here's Lady Gaga!" or anything, so most guys at first thought she was a drag impersonator. Then people were like, "OMFG, it's really her." And the gays started worshiping her from below like poverty-stricken Argentinian serfs did to Evita, waving up to her and screaming. And she was awesome, she didn't smile, she just kind of feebly waved and at one point leaned over like she was trying to hear what someone was saying, then picked up her wine and left. She gave total hard, stern, bored bitch-ass diva (with a touch of Muppet), which, after the role she played this weekend, she totally deserved to do, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
You know, all things considered, having learned eight things at the march is enough. Go to this website and figure out whom you're supposed to bitch at in your state to get your rights and all that crap, wasn't that the point of this party? It wasn't just for the chance to do drugs in a new city, and D.C. gays, it certainly wasn't for you to show off your flare-leg jeans. Let's keep our eyes on the prize.
For more info on the March On Washington, head over to Advocate.com