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As the world moves forward on the subject of gay marriage, it's especially painful when some parents refuse to do so, citing their biblical beliefs as an excuse for not supporting their child's legal and loving step into wedlock. Patrick Bradley, a New York-based food columnist and founder of TheGayFoodie.com, recently contacted me to say his parents had unapologetically served him just such a dis a few years ago, and he's now ready to reply to them, in this open letter he's penned to address the hurt they caused. Patrick's rebuttal to his parents' intolerance provides a stinging rebuke to the small-minded way in which, to this day, supposedly responsible adults can turn against their own.
Dear Mom and Dad,
It's been 890 days since the day that you both decided not to partake in my wedding. I don't know why it's taken me this long to say anything about it. Perhaps I've been afraid of what the family will think, what the family might say. Or perhaps I've been afraid of losing even more of my wonderful, beautiful family, whom I think about day and night.
But the time is now because I've finally grown too tired of the 890 days and nights of being haunted by your presence--by your lack of presence, to be more precise. I'm tired of night after night of dreaming of you. And tonight, I had the most unpleasant of dreams--one that jolted me from my sleep and disallowed me to return to it. So at 6:22 a.m., after little more than three hours of sleep, I'm writing this letter to you--knowing that it is taking from my opportunity of getting a full night's rest before work; but I'd rather work on little sleep than on little dignity.
As not to keep anyone in the family excluded (any longer), I'm sending this letter to everyone involved. I want everyone to know what had happened on my last visit to you, before my beautiful, wonderful wedding. I'm not writing this letter in an act of vengeance (even though it feels like it is), but rather, I'm doing it because I'm tired of walking on eggshells around my siblings, godchildren, nephews and nieces. I'm tired of having to be "civil" with both of you, "for the sake of the family." I'm also tired of the unwanted holiday and birthday gifts, and I'm tired of you having the audacity to speak to my husband (and myself) as if nothing has happened. Have you no shame?
I think it's time that I told my side of the story to the family, as I'm sure you have already told yours. I want everything to be out in the open, so that I can feel like I have all of my dignity with me when I will undoubtedly see you at family gatherings--gatherings which I now would rather avoid if it means that either of you will be present; I have other ways of seeing my family.
On May 13, 2013, I made the trip out to New Jersey--the day after Mother's Day--to take you out for lunch because I had to work the previous day. You picked me up at the train station and we stopped at A & P to pick up a birthday card for one of the boys. On the way there, I told you about how Michael's extended family, who'd be traveling from Georgia, Colorado and beyond--in part to meet you!--were so excited about meeting you. You simply replied that you both would not be going to the wedding. I tried my best to retain composure, thinking that I'd be able to change your mind before the big day.
By the time we left A & P, you started citing the bible, while unsuspecting shoppers were bustling about us, running their afternoon errands. And by the time we got back to the car, you'd mentioned your fear of an angel appearing to you, saying, "Stop praying for Patrick! He's already in hell!" I knew then that it was time to go to my last resort and give an ultimatum which I never expected would be fulfilled.
I explained to you, simply and calmly, that if you (both) did not attend my wedding, you would not see me again after the wedding: no holidays, no birthdays, no hospitals, no funerals. What I heard next put me into a state of mild shock. You followed up, quickly and readily, with, "We know that! I talked to your dad last night and we already accept it! We said that we give you back to God!" I recall other things being said, which I'll omit here. As I sat in shock--shock that you would rather never see me again than attend my wedding--you simply moved onto your next subject: "Well, I guess you don't want to go to lunch anymore." As I opened the car door to walk back to the train station, you offered, "Let me drive you back to the train. Let it be the one last thing that I do for you." If there was any doubt in my mind that I'd misunderstood what you'd said to me previously, you had clarified your intentions then and there.
Mom and Dad: By not attending my wedding, you rejected me, and you rejected my husband, who is my own immediate family. I, in turn, reject anyone that rejects my family--out of dignity and respect for it. But I am offering resolution.
I will forgive you both for what you have done, if you, in front of the entirefamily (from youngest to eldest) admit that what you both did was wrong; admit that you both should have been at the wedding. Because I do think that what you both have done is shameful. You've torn a family apart. But what breaks my heart most is what this has done to the youngest in the family--the ones who were too young to know, or too young to understand what was going on. The ones whose only conclusion was perhaps "Patrick must be bad" or "He must have done something wrong because Grandma didn't go to his wedding." That is where I think you both should bear the shame, not me.
I want everyone to know everything. And maybe tonight, I'll finally be able to sleep the whole night through.
With Best Intentions,
TRIBUTE TO SHAIMAN AND WITTMAN A REAL 'SMASH'
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I wish my parents were alive to go with me to last week's luminary-studded Primary Stages gala celebrating composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist/writer Scott Wittman, the guys behind Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, and Smash, not to mention some outrageous club extravaganzas featuring yours truly in the great beyond of the distant past. Before the presentation, I asked Wittman what he and Shaiman were working on and he replied, "The sequel to Mary Poppins." "A movie?" I asked. "Yes! Fuck Broadway!" he laughed. [Well, not totally. A stage version of Bombshell, one of the musicals within Smash, is being developed too. Insiders are guessing it'll be better than the legendary 1983 flop, Marilyn, An American Fable.] Is the Poppins thing based on the book? "All eight of them," Wittman said. "Like Misery Chastain," I retorted. "No, that was nine. Anyway, what tone will this movie have?" "Well," Wittman said, "we're writing it, so it'll have a slightly different tone." "So Mary will be a transsexual?" I joked. Wittman laughed again and said, "Remember the Disney show we did with Holly Woodlawn singing 'Supercalifragilistic?' " Please--I not only remember it, but it actually happened!
Just then came showtime, with funny lady Jackie Hoffman thanking Shaiman and Wittman for "plucking me from the depths of downtown and putting me into Hairspray." Currently, Hoffman claimed to be working on a play called 'Night Brother, "in which I spend 90 minutes trying to convince my brother to kill himself." More realistically, Hoffman recently auditioned for Fiddler on the Roof, but the result was no miracle of miracles. "I sang in Yiddish," she related, "and I might as well have been singing to Mel Gibson and Isis. Needless to say, I didn't book that gig."
SUCCESS KEEPS DOGGING HER
I'm glad Tony winners Annaleigh Ashford and Lena Hall have booked imminent gigs at Feinstein's/54 Below, and even more tickled that I got to chat with them at a promotional meet-and-greet at the club the other day. Ashford won the Tony for her daffy modern dancer in You Can't Take It With You and is currently reaping raves for hilariously playing the flirty, squirty dog in the comedy revival, Sylvia. She told me that when A. R. Gurney wrote the play, Mrs. Gurney wouldn't talk to him for a few days because he'd depicted the wife as dog-hating. (Still, it's possible to see the play's jealous spouse as the protagonist since hubby goes so overboard with interspecies desire.)
At Feinstein's/54 Below, Ashford (who's also on Showtime's Masters of Sex) will ring in the New Year with disco songs and stories, helped by her band, the Whiskey 5. "I do a Donna Summer medley and tell the origins of this room," she informed me. "We do 'White Christmas' with a giant coke spoon I got from Pier 1 Imports. And I tell last year's major events and predict how they'll unfold, while I do really bad magic tricks in case it doesn't go over." (She laughed, appreciatively.) Midnight will be brought in with everyone standing on their chairs and singing "Auld Lang Syne," after which Ashford will belt "Proud Mary" as "a river of ribbons" overtakes the audience. Sounds worthy of the original 54, as I can personally attest, since I was there (even before that Holly Woodlawn Disney show).
Meanwhile, Lena Hall--who copped a Tony for playing Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch--will bring to the cabaret room a show called The Villa Satori: Growing Up Haight Ashbury. Hall told me her show will consist of songs her parents played, like "White Rabbit" and Beatles tunes, along with the very rich memories attached to them. "It was very hippie dippy," she said. "I come from seven generations of artists on my father's side. He was a choreographer and mom was a prima ballerina--and my sister was into punk rock. I'm going to show a video of me dancing in diapers in an outfit I put together from our costume room in the basement, to a Debussy song." You certainly can't say "That's been done," especially in diapers.
Was her childhood a fab gender mashup? "It was!" Hall replied. "The LGBT community is my family. That's how I grew up. There were all kinds of interesting people around me. I never questioned anything in front of me. I just thought, 'This is my family.' Everything from the greatest drag queens to transgender people in transition to gay to lesbian to bi..." No wonder she fit so well into the Hedwig grid.
"WINNING!" AT THE GLAM AWARDS
From Tony winners, we move to the Glam Awards, which are basically Lena Hall's childhood experience put on a stage. The Glams are Cherry Jubilee's annual gala honoring the wildest and best of NYC LGBT drag queens, gogo boys, promoters, and (most importantly) bartenders. Host Bianca Del Rio was on fire, observing, "Charlie Sheen is off filming a show called Two and a Half T-Cells... Oh, come on. Those of you who are booing probably fucked him!" Later, during a glitch, Bianca dared, "This is going worse than Charlie Sheen's test results." When slimmed down presenter Gusty Winds appeared onstage, Bianca shot out, "You've lost weight...and your sense of humor." And when eager nominee Marti Gould Cummings copped a prize, Bianca squawked, "All right, you finally won something. Now shut the fuck up!"
The night was peppered with kooky speeches and performances (like Tina Burner's wondrous tap extravaganza, with more costume changes than Ann-Margret). And then it came time for Entertainer of the Year, which went to Bob the Drag Queen (who's heavily rumored to be on the next season of RuPaul's Drag Race). Cracked Bob, "This is the Bianca-doesn't-live-in-New-York-anymore award." Oh, by the way, I won Best Nightlife Writer/Blogger for the seventh year in a row and gushed, "Thank you for giving me this instead of a room at Shady Pines."
'COMEDY TONIGHT' IN NEW JERSEY
"Something appealing" is the Jessica Stone-directed all-male revival of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. The show--which cleverly blends farcical, vaudeville-style slapstick with Sondheim's wry wit--is constructed as a play within a play, so the all-men approach clicks, adding campy humor and homoerotic raunch to the proceedings. (And when the drag twist that's already written into the script turns up, it leads to a very funny new exchange.) In the role of the cunning slave Pseudolus (once played by greats like Zero Mostel, Nathan Lane, and Whoopi Goldberg), the nimbly comic Christopher Fitzgerald tirelessly proves to be funny, game, and utterly adorable. Michael Urie is perfection as the frantic slave Hysterium. He's hilarium whether twitching through "I'm Calm" or preening through "I'm Lovely," bringing quirky charm and humor to the part. And David Turner (from the gay retread of On A Clear Day...) is a delight as the dumb as dirt virginal courtesan from the house of Lycus. The extraordinarily entertaining result is just the kind of potion we could all use, down to the post-curtain call bit where the cast balances objects, makes toy balloons, and engages in other stunts of practical magic that Annaleigh Ashford might want to try and learn.