Daily Agenda for Thanksgiving Day
November 22nd, 2012
My parents and Chris’s parents, both sets, are coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year. His parents are coming in from Texas; mine from Ohio, after having performed their duty of selecting the next President on behalf of the entire nation. On the menu: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread dressing, oyster dressing, green bean casserole, savory tomato crisp, deviled eggs, assorted veggies, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and pecan pie, all of it home made (except for the cranberry sauce, which, by tradition, must be jellied and cylindrical, retaining the indentations molded into its sides by the can from which it came). There will also be wine and Miller Lite and football. Pretty ordinary, I guess. No mac and cheese though — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
British Producer of Gay Play To Appear in Uganda Court: Kampala, Uganda. Last September, David Cecil was arrested and charged with “disobeying lawful orders” after he staged a play, “The River and the Mountain” at two small venues in the Kampala suburbs. He went ahead with those performances after the Uganda Media Council had banned its performance at the National Theater. The Uganda Media Council reportedly determined that the play, which depicts a gay business man who experiences harassment by the friends, family and government and is murdered by his employees, was “obnoxious.” Cecil contends that the order banning the play at the National Theatre did not clearly state that the play was banned altogether everywhere in Uganda, so he went ahead with the performances at alternate venues. He was released on bail after spending four days in Uganda’s notorious Luzira maximum security prison. Cecil is due back in court today for a second hearing, where his lawyer will argue that the Media Council is an advisory body with no regulatory authority. If Cecil is convicted, he faces up to two years imprisonment.
Benjamin Britten. 1913. Fame came early to the English composer with his a cappella choral work, A Boy Was Born when he was just 21, and his 1945 opera Peter Grimes sealed his international reputation. His compositions were both prodigious and varied: working in orchestral, chamber, instrumental, choral and solo vocal. Much of his vocal work was written for tenor Peter Pears, who he met in 1937 and who became his musical inspiration and life partner. In 1939, Britten and Pears went to America, where his friendship with Aaron Copland inspired the development of Britten’s own work, notably his operetta Paul Bunyan.
Britten’s sexuality wasn’t the only thing controversial about him: he was was also a pacifist during World War II. On returning to Britain in 1942, he fought a long battle to wing the status of conscientious objector. That greatly hindered his ability to have his works performed in London both during and after the war. It also shaped his work; many of his operas throughout the 1950s and 1960s featured an “outside” character on the fringes of society, many of them at least suggestive of being gay. His 1973 opera, Death in Venice, based on a novel by Thomas Mann, is perhaps the first to feature an openly gay character. As the decades wore on, Britten found that he was no longer an outsider, but an acclaimed 20th century composer. On July 2, 1976, he was awarded a life peerage as Baron Britten, just a few months before he died. Pears died ten years later, and was buried next to Britten at a churchyard in Aldeburgh.
Billie Jean King: 1943. Like all tennis greats, she started playing at a young age and won her first Wimbledon double’s title in 1962 at the age if eighteen. That was the the first of 20 Wimbledon titles between 1961 and 1979. she also one 13 U.S. titles, four French and two Australian. Throughout her career, she fought for equal prize money for men and women players. When she won the U.S. Open in 1972 but received $15,000 less than the men’s champion, she announced that she would not play the next year if the prize money weren’t made equal. The following year, the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to equalize its prize money for men and women.
Her campaign for tennis equality took a particularly public turn in 1973 when Bobby Riggs, a champion mens player from the 1940s, claimed that women’s tennis was so inferior to men’s that even a fifty-five year old like himself could beat the top women’s players. King accepted the challenge, and the Battle of the Sexes was on. Before more than 30,000 spectators at Houston’s Astrodome and a worldwide audience of 50 million people in 27 countries, King beat Rigs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
In 1974, King became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association. In 1983, she retired from singles play, but continued to play doubles sporadically from 1984 through 1990. In 1981, King was sued for palimony by a former lover with whom she had had a relationship since 1971. The lawsuit effectively outed King, making her the first prominent professional female athlete to be openly gay. This came about despite her having been married to her husband since 1965. They divorced in 1987. Since then, she has been very involved with the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barrack Obama for her work in advocating for the rights of woman and the LGBT community.
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As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.