We drop friends all the time for a whole variety of reasons—they messed with our loves lives, they lied, they weren’t supportive—so why do some people think it’s such an outlandish idea to dump them for their political views? I think there’s a misguided sense that, “It’s a free country and people have the right to believe what they want. Why should I let their political opinions interfere with a long-running friendship?” The truth is, there is no law that “free speech” means you have to keep a friend who promotes the Republican agenda any more than you have to keep someone who calls you a cow. Everything in a friendship that might have seemed good suddenly goes sour when I learn that they advocate Trump and his hideousness, which involves attempting to diminish rights for women, LGBTQs, Muslims, immigrants, the arts, and the non-rich, not to mention all those treasonous-sounding doings with Russia. Am I supposed to understand that a gay friend is simply concerned about tax breaks and therefore can’t be bothered to devote any energy to little things like human rights? Bye, Felicia!
My time spent on social networks has been way more gratifying since I decided to block anyone who’s tried to crawl out from under a rock and chirp about how Trump isn’t really bad to LGBTQs at all. (“After all, everyone said we’d be in death camps, and we’re not” is a typically lame-brained argument). You can’t control what happens to you in the real world—someone might yell epithets at you or maybe throw paint—but the great thing about your Facebook page is the ability if affords you to weed your garden and make it your own personal playground. You don’t have to tolerate bullshit. Naturally, trying to talk sense to these people is a valuable route to go—why not try to have a conversation?—except that more often than not, you’ll find that they’ve already imbibed the Kool-Aid and aren’t going to budge from their throne of denial, no matter what facts you lay at their feet. As Pride month went by without a mention from the White House—to name just one of many indignities aimed our way—the army of gays who were still willing to cut Trump some slack was appalling to me, and I now don’t have to worry about indulging their head-in the-sand points of view any more than I’ll be inviting Milo over to a non-toxic dinner any time soon. (Yes, we’re all just preaching to the converted on my pages these days, but hey, it feels good. I’ll take our fake news over their fake news any day).
Similarly, if a real-life friend—someone who knows my plight, my accomplishments, and my oppressions—decides to trumpet in my face the alleged glories of the Republican party, I simply have to show them the hand and the door. Friendship over. I don’t care if they once helped me into an uber or maybe clicked on my links a couple of times. I don’t give a shit that they sent me birthday wishes on Facebook and also treated me to a half priced burrito for Christmas. They are as over to me as a boyfriend who cheated with someone I was cheating with. I have no use for them and would find it more than strained to attempt exchanging friendly banter with them, knowing full well that they’re basically self-loathing climbers who are furthering the mistreatment of mankind with their empty headed emissions. Am I cutting myself off from meaningful discourse? I don’t believe so; I feel I’m short circuiting the chance to hear odious apologias and offensive attempts at spin. Dropping Repubs (especially gay Repubs) from my guest list is a complete no brainer, which makes my life more aromatic while also sending out the message that self-loathing isn’t going to be tolerated around here, fellas. Pretty soon, I will put out a friendship alert that specifies, “Femmes and fats allowed, but no Trumpettes, please.” In the meantime, be warned.
A PENNY FOR HER THOUGHTS
There are other icky issues within our own backyard, as longtime performer Penny Arcade astutely points out. Arcade is a bisexual fag hag, who finds that bi people are routinely ignored in the community. (She likens it to being a part Jew who’s Jewish enough for the Nazis, but not enough for the Jews). What’s more, she’s a self-admitted fag hag who’s been diminished for that too, and has lobbied to put an “F” for “fag hag” into LGBTQ. (She poignantly describes such people as “despised women who troll for love in gay bars.”) Penny revealed these thoughts at her Summer of Love Redux show at Pangea last week (it runs two more Tuesdays), which is a kaleidoscopic look at the queer experience, done in collaboration with Steve Zehentner, who spins old hits as Penny emits her stream of commentary. Penny honed her craft by improvising with the Theater of Ridiculous, so she now ad libs in front of her collaborator, then lets the audience be her producers as she tweaks and edits the material.
Penny—who’s best known for her revelatory Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! show—took us through her childhood with an old-school Italian family, the kind where if you had a headache, they brought out a tub of olive oil to douse you with as they tried to scrub out “the evil eye.” Covered in oil, little Penny always said “yes,” but she defiantly did whatever she liked anyway, and ended up greeting puberty in a house of detention. As she grew up, she took a magic carpet ride to a life with other LGBTQs, whether in the East Village, the West Village, Provincetown or San Francisco, finding that “We developed our dance moves and relationships at the same time. We became friends with people because we liked the way they danced.” While busting moves to the Supremes, Penny fell in with a cool crowd and realized that queers had founded a subversive but vital community where they clung to each other for comfort while operating under different rules than prevailed in outside society.
Class, gender, and race distinctions went out the door, as fringe characters bonded and made their own extraordinary universe. Describing colorful drag queens and trans women on the scene, she talks about finding herself drawn most of all to the older queers, who elevated your IQ level with their very presence. She also takes a side trip into her family’s religion and reminds us that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, but somehow that’s what’s always quoted, while the Christian right willfully ignores his actual statements about love and compassion. She decides that Jesus has been coopted from us, when in actuality he was a loser, outsider, and activist, just like we are. In fact, Jesus was totally gay—and so was Joseph, who decorated the manger!
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Penny coming to New York, and also the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, an explosion of peace and drugs founded in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury. As it skirts through both her personal evolution and that of our community, the show spans a lot of topics, but Penny keeps it together as a tribute to the LGBTQF experience, especially in the days when there seemed to be even more at stake. (Yes, I added the F as a tribute to Penny). The show should be required viewing for anyone who cares about the dangerous magic that emanates from being gay and gifted.