The Daily Agenda for Friday, May 13

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2011

L-R: Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (1971-1979), Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni (1986-), South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

Uganda At The Crossroads: There is no question whatsoever that Uganda stands at a historic turning point as Parliament convenes an extraordinary final session today. When Parliament suspended business on Wednesday, a day which was supposed to be the 8th Parliament’s final day, four contentious bills on the agenda remained unfinished. Women delegates walked out because of a dispute over one of the bills, depriving the House a legitimate quorum. Parliament will meet again beginning this morning at 10:00 a.m. East Africa Time (seven hours ahead of EDT, ten hours ahead of PDT). Parliament usually begins its session at 2:00 p.m.; the early start is seen as an indication that the house intends to leave as much time as possible to get through the entire agenda. Last on the agenda (as of Wednesday) is the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Possibly gone from the plan is the oft-repeated assurance that the death penalty would be dropped. That now appears unlikely. But even if dropping the death penalty were still on the table, the remainder of the bill remains so wide-reaching, so draconian, so “odious” in the words of the U.S. State Department, that anything short of killing the bill altogether would be a huge step backwards towards Uganda’s world-renowned legacy of death and destruction.

The questions that Uganda faces today are momentous. Will Uganda retreat to its blood-soaked past? Will neighbor turn against neighbor, tribe against tribe, and powerful men against innocent minorities and scapegoats as it has before? Or will the nation step away from the brink, break free from its old habits and turn toward a promise of peace?

Today, the civilized world awaits Uganda’s choice.

“Mayday for Marriage” RV Tour: The Family Research Foundation’s RV is touring the state with their message against marriage equality. Today, the hatebus stops again in the greater Rochester area — Fairport, to be exact — at noon at State Sen. Jim Alesi’s District Office (220 Packetts Landing, Fairport) FRF says they “urge concerned citizens to attend these events and remind their elected officials that base voters care deeply about this issue.” If you’re concerned, you’re invited.

Bullying Briefing: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing in connection with its 2011 statutory enforcement report, Federal Enforcement of Civil Rights Laws to Protect Students Against Bullying, Violence and Harassment at The Washington Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th St. NW, Junior Ballroom Salons 1 and 2, Washington, DC 20005. The briefing will start at 9:00 a.m. EDT and is expected to continue to 4:30 p.m. EDT. The meeting is open to the public.

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) Closes: The economy is straining everyone’s pocket books, and non-profits are no exception. After more than eighteen years of advocacy on behalf of LGBT youth, the Washington, D.C.-based national organization is closing its doors. In the past few years, more than eighty percent of the group’s funding came from a single federal grant for HIV testing and prevention. Efforts to expand their donor base came to naught, leading to today’s closure.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; and Stockton, CA.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Brussels, Belgium; Charleston, SC; Houston TX (Black Pride); Maspalomas, Canary Islands; New Hope, PA; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“Cambio de Sexo”:
1977. Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s death in 1975 brought a new permissiveness in Spanish film-making, and Catalonia-born director Vicente Aranda probed the limits in what was acceptable in a still-conservative society. Cambio de Sexo (“Change of Sex”), which debuted on May 13, 1977 to critical acclaim, starred Victoria Abril as José Maria, a shy, introverted teenager living in the outskirts of Barcelona. Bullied and harassed by his schoolmates, José is expelled from his school. His father tries everything to “cure” him of his effeminate mannerisms, including, in a pivotal scene, taking him to a strip club in Barcelona. But unbeknownst to his father, one of the acts in the strip club is a pre-operative transgender. The father, clueless to the situation and determined to see his son lose his virginity, insists that José goes home with the stripper. Let’s just say the entire experience is revelatory as José understands that he was actually meant to be a girl. But the movie is more than just a story of the teen’s metamorphosis into a young woman. The transgender theme served as a reflection of the larger social changes which were just beginning to overtake Spain.

Bea Arthur:
1922. After serving thirty months in the Marine Corps as one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve. Her enlistment officer wrote that she was “officious — but probably a good worker — if she had her own way!” That description would be a good description of the characters she would portray on television. After working on and off Broadway, she landed the breakout part as Maude Findlay on Norman Lear’s groundbreaking sit-com All in the Family. The Maude character was Edith Bunker’s cousin who was the polar opposite of bigoted Archie Bunker. That 1971 episode led to her own spin-off in 1972, Maude. As the theme-song said, she was “uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizing.” The series tackled women’s liberation, menopause, drug and alcohol addiction, and spousal abuse.  In one memorable two-part episode which aired two months before Row v Wade, Maude decided to terminate a late-life pregnancy with an abortion. Maude ended in 1978. After a few other roles in television and the movies, she landed the role of Dorothy Zbornak in the hit series Golden Girls. Between Maude and Golden Girls, Arthur became an LGBT icon. The Advocate in 1999 asked her why she thought that was. “You play strong, honest people,” she said, “and gays buy it because it’s real and it’s slightly anti-establishment.” She was certainly real. Also she was on Broadway in Mame. You can’t forget that.

Armistead Maupin: 1944. He was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He began working as a newspaper reported in Charleston, S.C. before he moved to San Francisco in 1971 to work for the Associated Press, In 1976, he released the first installment of his Tails of the City serials. first in a now-defunct Marin County newspaper and later in the San Francisco Chronicle. Those columns were re-worked into a series of books in 1978. In 2007, Maupin married his husband Christopher Turner in Vancouver. During a trip to Australia in 2011, Maupin and his husband were denied the use of a restroom at a saloon in Alice Springs where they were having lunch. The bartender told them to go across the street because their rest room was reserved for “real men.” “So we did what real men do and crossed the street to the visitor’s center where we filed a complaint,” Maupin wrote. “Impressively we received an e-mail apology from the bartender that afternoon. Fair dinkum, mate. Next time don’t [expletive] with the poofters.”

Alan Ball: 1957. Screenwriter, director, actor and producer Alan Ball was born in Atlanta George and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in theater arts. He has written two films, American Beauty (for which he won an Oscar for best original screenplay) and Towelhead. He is more familiar to television audiences for his role as creator, writer and producer of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under (for which he won an Emmy in 2002) and True Blood, a series that has been seen as a paper-thin allegory for the LGBT community. Ball has called the comparison “kind of lazy”, adding “I just hope people can remember that, because it’s a show about vampires, it’s not meant to be taken that seriously. It’s supposed to be fun.”

Ball not only has to contend with critics, but this spring he and his partner, actor Peter Macdissi, got tangled in a legal tussle with their neighbor, Quentin Tarantino, who filed a lawsuit claiming that the pair’s collection of exotic birds constantly emit “blood-curdling” and “pterodactyl-like screams” each day which have disrupted Tarantino’s work as a writer.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available). You’d be surprised how many notices I receive without these vital details. I wish I had the time to hunt them down, but I just don’t.


May 16th, 2011

In Golden Girls, Dorothy’s brother was a cross-dresser, and in a memorable episode where the gang’s gathered for his funeral, he’s being buried in one of his favorite dresses.

Sofia (Estelle Getty), mourning for her son, takes it out on her daughter-in-law, saying it’s a shame and an insult to the family to be buried that way.

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