Wednesday, February 22, 2012

FOX News Has Lost Its Damn Mind: Racism, Whitney, and Rep. Maxine Waters

Dear FOX News:

Last week the United States lost an icon. Miss Whitney Houston was not only a singular voice and the voice of a generation, she was also emblematic of the problem of U.S. celebrity, the ways in which, particularly people of color performers, are commodified, superhumanized, idolized and then, when the pressure, stress, strain, racism, stardom, use, and abuse gets to be too much, we delight, in an old school Roman Coliseum way, in watching their slow and devastating decline...extracting the last bits of their humanity before they expire and we then memorialize them when it would have been more fitting to cauterize their words and had them still living amongst us. But I digress.

This week was lost an amazing woman, Whitney Houston, and I, and many folks of my generation, mourn her loss. She was responsible for her own actions, but we are responsible for cannibalizing her and her pain.

And then comes along FOX News.

Now....I make it a point to never ever watch FOX News...mostly because I choose not to go to folks in the midst of a permanent psychotic break to get my news. The reality that the folks at FOX News are seeing and the one that the rest of us are living in seemingly have nothing to do with one another. I seem to recall something about the news being objective, or, at the very least, it is supposed to make an attempt to report the facts as they and again FOX gets a date or a location correct, but everything they say after that point seems to come from a badly translated neo-conservative fortune cookie.

The other day, while at the gym, my friend Brian swooped in for a butt grab to catch my attention...seeing as he is easy on the eyes, I didn't mind. But when I removed my headphones he asked me if I'd seen the clip from FOX News concerning Rep. Maxine Waters, a crack pipe and Whitney Houston comment, and the House Banking Committee, and my eyes burst into flames from a sudden bout of FOX News Induced Rage (FNIR).

Whitney Houston hadn't been dead three days, and FOX News had already found a way to use her death in a supremely fucked up and racist way.

By the time I left the gym, Brian had posted the video clip on my Facebook page. In it, Eric Bolling, after rolling a clip of Maxine Waters making a statement about taking back the House, and, when doing so, becoming the chair of the Banking Committee as Rep. Barney Frank is retiring and she is next in line. Her comments went further to say that she would use the powers of the committee to hold big banks accountable for this here recession they put us in. Sounds like common sense to me. Sounds like justice to me. But apparently, to Eric Bolling, it sounded like a perfect moment to speak ill of the dead and make a racist crack head comment about Rep. Maxine Waters.

Specifically, he lost his mind and said:

“What is going on in California? How’s this? Congresswoman, you saw what happened to Whitney Houston. Step away from the crack pipe, step away from the Xanax, step away from the Lorazepam because it’s going to get you in trouble.” Bolling said about Waters on “Fox and Friends.” “How else do you explain those comments?”

Read more:

If a commentator on CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, or the Home Shopping Network had made a comparable comment, he or she wouldn't have made it to the end of the segment before being fired. But oh no, not FOX News...the last best defender of the 1st amendment freedom of speech and the press. Bolling made a half-assed apology and said he was joking, and he continues on the air...a racist neo-con time bomb just waiting to explode again.


Since Obama took office it has been a free for all on Black elected officials. White folks have felt free to say whatever the Hell pops into their minds about the president and other African-American electeds. At this point, I want to start passing out white hoods to half the pundits and all of the GOP. The only thing that is post-racism about the United States is that it is post-time to get real and recognize that racism is alive, well, and taking center stage in a way that it hasn't since before the Civil Rights era. If Eric Bolling had signed off his segment with, "Good night, niggers!" I couldn't have been any more shocked or surprised.

I would suggest a boycott of FOX News, but no one I know watches FOX News, and ain't none of the gays I know about to give up on Glee. So, instead, I am encouraging folks to call FOX News and let them know how you feel about Eric Bolling's comment: 1-888-369-4762.

And I hope if Rep. Waters ever gets that man alone for five minutes she takes off her belt or cuts a switch and beats his ass like his Mama should have.

And Whitney...if you could ask JC to send Eric boils or shingles or Ebola...I would be much obliged.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So Not Perfect

Anyone who has ever read my blog knows, without a doubt, that I am not perfect. I make mistakes all the time. I have made some huge ass mistakes that have hurt folks and I make smaller mistakes on daily basis. I do not claim perfection. I reject perfection. If I am aware of anything it is that I am terribly and tragically flawed.

Lately, several times in the last few days, folks have said to me in real exasperation that I need to stop being perfect. Let me clarify the undertone...both times this was said as if the folks involved had something on me or knew something about my history and because I said please, thank you, and asked permission before using the bathroom or taking a stick of gum, I was somehow putting on a mask to hide my hideously flawed nature.

Nope. I am flawed. I know it. I make mistakes. I know it. And when I have made a mistake, or hurt someone, or broken something...I try to make it better when I can. But sometimes I am petty, and sometimes I am scared, and sometimes I am angry, and sometimes I am not the always happy angel that folks want me to be.

Here's the trick...I gave up on perfection a long time ago...but lots of folks in the world only see me through a certain lens or a snapshot of time or in a certain circumstance or they know about me through my writing or from hearing me perform and so, in the end, get only a portion of my story and fill in the rest of the blanks themselves. And what happens is that I am either vilified or sanctified but either way...if I am your villain and yet do not ooze out evil or your saint and fuck up...what happens is that I no longer get to be human because someone else's world they built up took a hit.

Here's the deal...I wanna be human. I don't want to be a super hero. I don't want to be a savior. I don't want to be brave all the time. I don't want to keep making the same old mistakes. What I want to do is get to be a sometimes gifted, sometimes brilliant, sometimes wonderful, sometimes loving person that strives towards being those things more often than not. And I want to walk in the world alongside other humans that hurt and laugh and fuck and cry and break things and put them back together again. If I piss you off or make you angry or make you happy or make you giggle...I want to know about all those I can address the things that need address and keep doing the things that bring folks in my life joy and peace. I am not superhuman, so reading minds doesn't work, I am not a magical elf from Happy Land, so I can not cast a spell and make all the bad things disappear from the world...but I do believe that by investing in each other's stories...beyond the narrow view that we might see...we will figure out how to see the humanity in so many many more people and in ourselves.

I am not perfect.

Please and thank you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Everyday Heroes: Wilson Cruz

So, being gay famous and all, I have had the occasion, upon occasion, to meet folks that are actually famous. One of my best friends is Bebe Zahara Benet, I am acquainted with Cheyenne Jackson, though better with his partner (fellow Minnesotan) Monte---you meet the craziest people at our dog park including Michael Urie---, as well as Wilson Heredia (the other Angel from Rent), but there is one person I have come across, that is legitimately famous, that is not only really real and sweet but lives his life, his politics, and gives to his community in a way that goes way beyond cutting a check or posing for a PETA ad.

I first met Wilson Cruz when he was still living in Los Angeles but was in NYC visiting. He was working out at my gym when I met him. Wilson's best friend is one of the most important and most valued people in my life, and so I broke my rule around approaching celebs, and I introduced myself as Russell's friend. We had a brief conversation, he was truly sweet, and then I went on to my work out, and he went on to his.

About a year passed between that moment and when I next saw him, which was this last fall when I stumbled on him and Russell out at Industry for Russell's 40th birthday party. First of all, it was sweet that Wilson remembered who I was after such a brief meeting, but we hung out that night, chatted, and it was cool. At one point in the evening, though, someone loosely affilliated with the crowd of folks out celebrating Russell's birthday was getting flirty with me, we were dancing, and then he asked me if I was HIV positive.

I said yes.

And his response was, "That's a boner killer. Sorry."

Now, I am used to dealing with folks' shit around HIV. It comes with the territory, but generally, when someone asks you that question in a moment like that...they legitimately want to know because either they are also positive or they want to hook up with you but need to know the lay of the land before doing so...and then have at it.

His response was like getting kicked directly in the chest with metal cleats. Wilson was standing near by us, and he saw the look on my face and asked me what happened. I told him.

Before I go on let me teach you the term, "Puerto Rican War." As a Puerto Rican, I engage in this type of warfare often. A Puerto Rican War is when you fuck with a friend of Puerto Rican and the Puerto Rican gets angrier and wilds out more than the aggrieved party.

Wilson's eyes started to glow in the dark, and he grabbed Russel and pointed to said Evil Queen, and stated, "Oh this girl is tripping and has gotten on my last damn nerve. She has got to go. GOT TO GO."

In that moment, the pain/anger/shame/hurt that was building up....went away. I was so very grateful.

I saw Wilson recently. Last week actually. I wanted to thank him for being a friend and an ally in that moment to someone he really didn't know. Our breakfast in Baltimore was not really the place to appreciate him, and so I am appreciating him now...openly and publicly to you my readers. Support this man's work....wherever and whenever he is doing it. Because he lives it. And he gives it back con ganas.