The dynamic duo is back, and admit it, you missed us! Peterson and Zack fill you in on all the crazy fun stuff that’s been happening in their lives, Peterson brings us some more queer erotic poetry, and then the two launch into a roundtable on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Prop 8, Trans Day of […]
From Cosmo Jarvis, a tribute to gay pirates: You may recall that according to the beliefs of Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (of which I am a member), pirates are “absolute divine beings,” essentially the great prophets of Pastafarianism. It has never been a secret to me that there are gay pirates, but it […]
Satire is a great way to pay tribute to the people you know and love. That’s why I enjoy the opportunity to occasionally write for The Cronk of Higher Education. Here’s my latest. All similarities to other individuals or names are PURELY coincidental, I assure you……. All 16 members of Sparta College’s acclaimed all-male a […]
(Note: Spoilers ahead! Go watch the season finale if you haven’t yet.) Like a good (gay) son, I got my mother hooked on watching Glee. This was a mistake. Now, every week, she wants to watch, but then I have to hear about everything she doesn’t like about the show. The most common complaint? “The […]
Zack has never heard Peterson‘s “From Soup to Nuts” expression, but it apparently defines our tenth episode well! After several mono-topical episodes, we dramatically over-compensate by limiting discussion on any topic to three minutes. We have a big pile of topics in a hat. Some were submitted by listeners, but we each contributed some of […]
You may recall that according to the beliefs of Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (of which I am a member), pirates are “absolute divine beings,” essentially the great prophets of Pastafarianism. It has never been a secret to me that there are gay pirates, but it is a sad part of our church’s history that gay pirates have been treated just as poorly as any other members of the LGBT communities.
I applaud Cosmo for bringing attention to this sensitive issue.
The “It Gets Better” project started off as a community response to growing up gay in a society where that’s not accepted. The gay teen in me — exiled to some remote corner of my consciousness — feels a little less isolated when I see Fort Worth City Council Member Joel Burns talk about his fear of being rejected by his father and his happiness the day he got engaged. It would have been nice for the public at large to join the conversation, but instead, they changed the subject.
After you read that, watch this beautiful new video from friend of the blog, Tom Goss. The song is called “Lover” and speaks to the pain of losing a same-sex partner at war under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Satire is a great way to pay tribute to the people you know and love. That’s why I enjoy the opportunity to occasionally write for The Cronk of Higher Education.
Here’s my latest. All similarities to other individuals or names are PURELY coincidental, I assure you…….
All 16 members of Sparta College’s acclaimed all-male a cappella group, Spartappella, announced this week that they would not be returning to campus after Fall Break. After negotiations all summer, the group has secured a professional recording contract and will begin work on their premiere wide-release album immediately.
The group’s conductor, Bobbie Fritz ‘10, explained that even though the membership of Spartappella changes from year to year, this year’s group members were “uniquely in sync and eager to take our sound to the street. According to a recent Washington Post article, the street is crying out for dorky but charming college guys.”
I offered some music this weekend at a memorial service for someone whom I didn’t know, but it got me thinking about my own funeral. That might sound kind of morbid, but only if death really bothers you. Losing someone is sad, but death is only scary if you’ve been conditioned to worry about the afterlife.
For the record, I have no expectation (and certainly no intention) of dying anytime soon.
So, I thought I’d write some things down now, at age 25, in regards to my funeral. I could, in fact, die tomorrow, which would make this document incredibly valuable. If I change my mind down the road, I’ll write a “Rules and Requests For My Funeral 2.0.” No big whoop. But just in case…
Dear friends, family, and loved ones,
If you’re reading this, you read my blog (thanks!) or I’ve died and someone thought to dig this post up out of my blog archive. I’m really sorry to hear about my death; obviously, I would have tried to avoid it if I could have. But, we all die someday, and my day arrived. I hope you are coping well.
For the record, if I’m dead, I’m really gone. I know this reads like it’s from “beyond the grave,” but I’m writing it back in 2010. At this point, Zack Ford has totally ended. I haven’t “moved on,” I’m not “in a better place,” I’m not connecting with other lost loved ones, I’m not reincarnating, I’m not still with you “in spirit,” and I’m not looking down on you. The coroner’s word is final. It’s over. Kaput. THE END.
And even if by the time I’ve died we’ve developed Caprica-like avatars, I highly doubt that my avatar is exactly me. If the real me is dead, then the real me is dead. I don’t know what year it is when I’ve died, but if people still aren’t watching Caprica, you should go back and hulu it, if you even still have hulu. Good show.
Now, as you plan my funeral, you’ll probably be thinking about “what Zack would’ve wanted.” This is both a good thing and a bad thing. See, I’m dead. I’m not going to be there for the funeral. And the funeral isn’t for me. It’s for you! So, to a certain extent, however you choose to memorialize me really ought to help you feel good about letting go and remembering me in the way that best helps you continue with your life.
It is possible though that in seeking your own solace, you disrespect me and what I stood for. I’m not around to do anything about it, so, frankly, you can do whatever it is you want to do. But if you knew me, you knew one of my biggest pet peeves is when people selfishly justify things for themselves. So, let me help you keep your conscience in check.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but unfortunately I have to say this: Don’t pray for me. Seriously, don’t. This might be the hardest thing I ask of you and I understand that. But don’t pray that I’m in heaven or that I watch over you or that God watches over my soul or any of that. And certainly don’t pray for others on my behalf. Talk about disgracing my life! There are no gods, and I think you know that I’d be really pissed if you were using your grief for my death as another self-conditioning mechanism to reinforce your delusions of a higher power. (If you do believe in God/prayer and you violate this wish of mine, then I hope I appear to you in your prayer and wag my finger at you for being so selfish and insecure.)
I really do like the idea of living on in hearts and memories. Go with that. Remember me, but do not try to hold onto me. If there’s anything I left behind that can help others, make sure they see it, but don’t try to keep me going. Cherish what you will from my life and move on.
So, no talk of an afterlife and no prayer. Got it? Oh, and if I died unexpectedly, like in a car crash or something, do not put one of those gawdy crosses up on the spot. A cross would have zero significance for my life (and would offend it quite a bit), nor would the spot where I died. Ugh! Also, donate my organs, and then donate my body to science, cremate it, or bury it without embalming it so I become a nice feast. It was hard enough to be sustainable in life; I don’t want to be unsustainable in death, too. (As an aside, at the time of this writing, I’m very sad that SunChips stopped making their decompostable bags because they were too loud. Christ, Americans are whiny. Do you still have SunChips in the future? I hope so. They’re delicious! Garden Salsa are my favorite.)
I think that covers my most important wishes. If you’re curious about what kind of memorial celebration I’d like, I’ve shared some thoughts below. It’s a lot to ask, but I think it would be the best way to celebrate my life. Is it feasible? I don’t know, but I’m dead, so what do I care? You going to tell a dead guy that he thinks too much of himself? I don’t think so. Well, maybe. Besides, I already said I want this to be what works best for you; so you can ignore everything else I put forth for all I care. (I’m dead, so I don’t care at all.)
Anyways, I think it should be an all-day affair and all of my Facebook friends should be invited, plus anyone else. Why all my Facebook friends? Well, because I was diligent enough about making sure that no one was my FB friend if they didn’t make at least the slightest impact on my life, so they should all get the chance to be a part of remembering me. It’s not like they’re all going to come, and I don’t expect it of anyone. But it’d be really cool if they did, because I know a lot of very different and interesting people and you all might learn some interesting things from each other. Everyone should wear name tags.
Why all-day? Well, because during the day, I want people to do a service project! It’s not a requirement for people who want to participate in just the evening’s events, but it should certainly be an available option for those interested. Just find some great way that everybody interested can take a little time to make other people’s lives better. (Please keep the cause secular.)
Now, I wasn’t some grand humanitarian, and I don’t want you to think I have this inflated sense of my impact on the world. I just figure, if I’m going to give people suggestions on how best to memorialize me, I ought not to be totally selfish about it. Plus, I know that there have been a ton of very loving and giving people in my life and I don’t want grieving for me to get in the way of the potential you all still have to do good works.
You know how you feel when you finish a good book (if you still have books)? It’s like… you’re kind of bummed that the book is over, but it’s kind of exhilarating because it was this complete story. It’s over now, but it was complete, and it was great, and you want to take the impact that the book had and incorporate it into your life and into your thinking. That’s kind of how I think about life. Death isn’t tragic (except when it is); it’s just the closing of a book. A memorial should be a celebration of what was great about the life and what can be taken away from it, not a time to mourn the end of it.
So what I would ideally envision then for the evening is some sort of epic roast/concert, with plenty of alcohol for those who fancy it. It should be very Ford Fest-like. In fact, why not do it in Ford Hall? That’d be fitting. People should be set up to have a good time and maybe they’ll even want to hook up with a new friend afterward, because, why not?
Why a roast? Well, enough people have told me in life that I’m going to Hell, so I might as well burn at my funeral! Besides, I know that I’m a quirky enough character that people could get some good laughs. I’m sure MG, if he’s still around, would make a great host, and I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would jump at the opportunity to tell some very funny stories about me. At least, I hope they would. (If I’m not currently a very interesting person, could some of the people reading this in the present give me a head’s up so I can make some necessary adjustments? Thanks.)
And it should be a concert too. I’m not going to tell you what songs to pick, because, come on, it’s more fun if you have artistic license! But music was super important in my life, so here are some general suggestions if you’re looking for ideas:
I would actually like a big fabulous gospel choir to be utilized for at least one song, but of course I’d prefer if the song’s lyrics were not too gospelly… like, at all. In fact, despite my normal anal retentiveness, feel free to rewrite any lyrics for humorous effect. But I want the crowd on its feet and arm-in-arm having a good ol’ time, you know? At least one sing-along would be great, too, as well as some dancing. There should be some sexy musical theatre with belty voices blending some fierce harmonies in a hugely over-produced (but low-budget) fashion. Any classical music should be comedically over-dramatic or silly and fun. Special musical guests ought to include a gay men’s chorus and/or Ithacappella, a winner of Molson Canadian Idol (LD), brass players from the 518 (RP and JH), and of course my siblings of Mu Phi Epsilon.
Given the amount of work some people would have to put in to make that kind of event happen, you should totally take an offering and/or make the whole event a fundraiser for a good secular cause. Why miss out on another great opportunity to help others? (Please do not try to actually profit from my death. Covering the costs to humor my over-inflated sense of importance is fine, but make sure the rest goes to charity.)
At the end of the three-and-a-half hour extravaganza, people should stay up late talking (and not necessarily about me) and then go out for (probably a very late) brunch the next morning. The more time for old friends and complete strangers to learn from each other, the better. Don’t forget those name tags.
Then, get on with your lives, please.
Remember: No afterlife, no prayer, no Bible readings, and no burial, but plenty of drinking and debauchery is fine. And just do good works. I wasn’t a saint, but neither are you.
A whole lot of people have been saying lately that it gets better. They’re (we’re) not wrong to say that. Life is not a prison, nor a canyon river with only one path.
But one of the ways it gets better is if you make it better for yourself. You have so much strength, so much power. You probably don’t even know it. There is so much you can do to create change in your life, but one of the most fundamental is to just be honest with yourself.
I still remember quite clearly the friend I had who badgered me about coming out. Even though I “knew” I was gay, I didn’t understand that I was gay. I hadn’t come out to myself. I hadn’t figured out that all the sexual and emotional attractions (including legitimate love) I’d had for men meant that I was gay. I thought “gay” was something else, something bad. I knew whatever I was, I wasn’t something bad.
And that’s what my friend hammered into me. I wasn’t being honest with myself. I was denying myself love. I was denying myself sex. I was almost 19 years old and I really hadn’t been out on a real date that meant something to me. I hadn’t flirted with somebody. I hadn’t danced with somebody. I hadn’t felt the heat with somebody. I hadn’t found somebody who loves me because I didn’t love myself.
All I had to say to myself was, “It’s ok.” All I had to do was realize that it all makes sense. “I’m gay,” and the lightbulb goes off. There’s nothing wrong with me, and all those people who don’t get that? They’re the ones with the problem. They’re just plain wrong. They can say the nastiest things and they can even hurt me, but they can never be right.
That’s when it all got better for me. On July 19, 2004, I said to myself, “I’m going to let me be me.” It was like I was reborn, and I don’t even remember who I was before then, because it feels like it was somebody else—somebody who carried this huge weight of guilt and shame for no good reason. I’ve stood proud and confident ever since.
Today is National Coming Out Day. It’s a day when we celebrate this important step in our identity development, the moment when we each break free of the chains of heterosexism. It reminds us that “pride” is about being true to ourselves and owning our identities no matter what the rest of the world says about us. We are here and we deserve to love and be loved.
You can only come out when you’re ready, but if you’ve been thinking about it, maybe today’s your day. Maybe today you’re ready. It’s not easy, and it won’t always be rosy, but you will not regret it. And you will never have to stand alone.
So come out, even if it’s just to one person… even if it’s just to yourself.
I never thought way back on Valentine’s Day of ’09 that the singer of the video I posted here that day would become my friend! Tom Goss is an incredible singer/songwriter and really just a great guy all around. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform right here in little ol’ Harrisburg, PA last night and it was an absolute delight.
I think there is something so important about celebrating our out LGBT artists. There are a lot of artists out there who can do things for our community, but artists from our community can really project our experiences with profound power. Tom is a great example of that, particularly in the way he’s so open and casual about his relationship with his amazing fiancé, Michael, who was also at the show last night, and for whom many of Tom’s songs are unabashedly written. Here’s a video Tom recorded of a song he’d just written about watching Michael snore, which he recorded while Michael was snoring. It’s incredibly sweet:
I remember when I first discovered an out gay artist. It was Levi Kreis, and his album One of the Ones was this lovely collection of songs about love and relationships, and even if there wasn’t a single gendered word in the song, you knew they were about another man. There is something so important about hearing songs that are about our own experiences. I think so many in our community are still deprived of that opportunity: to see a fellow queer person communicate through music testimonies of our own lives.
While the music of the civil rights movement was very spiritual and inspiring, it seems music in the LGBT movement has been more about liberation. More than anything, ours has been a struggle against repression, a war against the closet and against those who would keep us there. When we celebrate ourselves, we celebrate our freedom and those chance opportunities to let loose. It’s unsurprising that dance and techno music has largely defined that, because that is exactly what dance music communicates: it makes you want to dance. It’s light and yet fierce at the same time; it’s incredibly freeing.
Unfortunately, many of the musicians we celebrate (Cher, Robyn, September, Ke$ha, Miley, etc.) have been heterosexuals, and while dance music may energize us, it lacks a real human connection to the joys and challenges of our lives as LGBT people. That’s why music like Tom’s is so important; it’s music for the 363 days we’re not at Pride. I wonder how many people re-closet themselves after they leave Pride and just ignore the reality of their own identity because it’s easier for them to do so. Truly queer music might be challenging to some in that it helps break down self-constructed closet walls, but the consequence is, I think, a deep sense of validation and connection. We are real people with real relationships and real emotions and there needs to be a soundtrack for our lives too.
I hope you, my reader, will take some time to find an artist who really speaks to your experience. Don’t settle for the spoon-fed mainstream pop music; it alone will not speak to the life you lead. Find the artists who do, and you will be amazed at how they impact and empower you.
Thanks for a great show Tom! If there are other openly queer artists out there who I can help connect with a queer audience, please let me hear from you! I like new friends and I like supporting queer musicians (and any other kind of visual/theatrical/etc. artists too)!
I’ll leave you with a song Tom Goss co-wrote with Matt Alber (who I featured here on Valentine’s Day ’10) about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell called “Who We Are.” Enjoy!
Like a good (gay) son, I got my mother hooked on watching Glee. This was a mistake. Now, every week, she wants to watch, but then I have to hear about everything she doesn’t like about the show. The most common complaint? “The plot is so unrealistic.” My most common response? “Duh.”
But I think there are all things that we don’t like about Glee. Here are a few of mine. Don’t worry, I’m not going to dwell on these; I’ll only be talking about Glee in a positive light after I get through them.
First and foremost, given my background in music education, I hate how easy they make show choir look, especially with the absurd quantity of songs they develop. The same goes for “the band” that just happens to always be there to slavishly play at the group’s whim, plus the sets that build themselves, the lights that set themselves, and the costumes that sew (or buy) themselves. (I got over all this back at the pilot, but it’s still in the back of my mind every week.)
I hate Sandy Ryerson, the creepy-ass glee club director, who luckily hasn’t been around as much as he was at the beginning. Similarly, there are some weeks where I hate Kurt too. Gay men have only been demonized as pedophiles since they first started coming out—can’t we make them just a little less creepy and stalkery in 2010? Similarly, it’d be nice if Artie could show us what it means to be a part of the disability community instead of playing out the tired old “I still want to walk/dance” plot line. I think we got enough of that from Jason Street on Friday Night Lights, thank you very much. And let’s not get started on the racist jokes that make it into almost every episode.
And last but certainly not least, the show absolutely drives me crazy with all its loose plot lines. I don’t expect full treatment of every character in every episode, but can’t we at least pretend that the previous episode happened? For example, Burt kicked Finn out of their house. So……… what happened to Finn? Nada.
But when I sit down and think about these things, I remember something very important:
Glee is unique.
That’s the entire reason Glee works. It doesn’t try to be anything else. There’s really no model for a television show like it. It lives in its own world.
And I think that’s why we’re unfazed by our own critiques. See, we try to fit Glee into the schema we have for all other television shows and it just doesn’t work.
We see an uplifting show about a group of outcasts succeeding and we think, “Oh, this should have a lot of positive messages like a good after-school special!” Nope.
We see a complex serial drama with interweaving story lines and think to ourselves, “Oh, I can expect to see the next part of the story in the next episode!” Nope, not necessarily.
We have watched so much reality television that we see things on Glee and think, “Oh, that would never happen,” but yeah, on Glee, it does.
What is this amorphous quality that makes us like Glee despite all its incongruities? Why is it that we continue to be obsessed about a show that simultaneously drives us kind of crazy? How does it make us cry when we feel like we haven’t even gotten sufficient character development?
The answer, my friends, is not so amorphous. Glee is musical theatre.
Did you not realize? It’s been hiding there all along.
Most people that I know who claim to not like musicals say it’s because they think it’s unrealistic the way people just break into song. Well, duh, it’s a musical. Hey, this conversation sounds familiar…
Have you ever wondered why “camp” (as in over-the-top extravagant expressionism), and by association, the stereotypical personality of gay men, is all associated with musical theatre? That’s what makes musical theatre work! Musical theatre has to take itself too seriously and be over the top. (And for gay men, this reflects the freedom of not conforming to masculinity as part of hiding in the closet.) For example, in Oklahoma! (a classic), Curly doesn’t really care that it’s a beautiful morning; he’s just horny for Laurey (who later has one of musical theatre’s many drug-induced ballet “dreams”). Realistic? Not entirely. Frankly, think of any musical’s impact and imagine it working without the music. It doesn’t. Let’s not even consider Cats. Yikes.
Music enhances the drama. Music helps us escape the drab reality we live in and takes us to a heightened emotional state. It communicates things we can’t say with words. It builds a connection between us as human beings that is unique. Just as the music lifts us just a little above reality, so too are we then able to appreciate plots that are a little above reality. It’s the music that grounds them for us. The plot lines, at face value, are absurd and campy, but they still reflect real emotions and feelings we can appreciate. The music lets them make sense, and if anything, the impact is all the greater for it. The whole experience is an emotional extravaganza, and when it’s over, we float back down to earth.
Think about this week’s finale. I was really bored by Vocal Adrenaline’s performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but I loved the way it was juxtaposed with Quinn giving birth (which we knew had to happen in this episode). It was kind of hokey, but it still worked. It used music to tell the story. (Psst… that’s musical theatre.) And of course “To Sir, With Love” and “Over The Rainbow” made us cry. Hell, “To Sir” even made Sue tear up! Those songs communicated something that mere spoken word couldn’t have replicated. Music is that venue and we just get lost in it and it feels wonderful.
Further proof is in how barren we feel by the emotionally charged scenes that do not include music. They feel quite real, and often quite salient. Think back to when Will finally found out that Terri was faking the pregnancy and the way he unloaded on her. It was so raw, but felt so validating after weeks of her scheming. There was nothing fantastical about it. The same was true of when Kurt’s dad lectured Finn for calling Kurt a “fag” (which I think was one of the most important scenes the show has ever aired). These are the little clues that remind us that the show takes itself seriously and that we should too. Of course it’s absurd most of the time; that’s by design. But it’s that “camp” that helps us appreciate reality all that much more.
Glee isn’t fabulous because Jane Lynch is funny or Cory Monteith is cute. It’s not because Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison sing our pants off every week. It isn’t even because of Madonna, Lady Gaga, or Journey. In the end, all our little complaints melt away and we love Glee because Glee reminds us what it feels like to love one another.
Musical theatre is kind of weird; I’ll be the first to admit it. Think whatever you want of it, but you can’t deny it makes you feel. Glee has successfully encapsulated that for us in weekly supplements in a way television has never tried. It brings us together and I think it deserves a standing ovation.
Zack has never heard Peterson‘s “From Soup to Nuts” expression, but it apparently defines our tenth episode well! After several mono-topical episodes, we dramatically over-compensate by limiting discussion on any topic to three minutes. We have a big pile of topics in a hat. Some were submitted by listeners, but we each contributed some of our without the other knowing what they are. We don’t get to them all, but we do address a total of 19 topics! Tune in to hear about Muslims, Catholics, Country Music, Goth, Glee, pansexuality, hats, and more! Special thanks to Gavin, Christopher, Peter, Scott, and everyone else who submitted topic ideas this week!