Rhode Island Senate Committee Considers Marriage Bill: Providence, RI. Last January, the Rhode Island House overwhelmingly approved a bill to provide marriage equality for the state’s same-sex couples. The tally was 51 to 19, with even the Republican Minority Leader urging the Senate leadership to bring the bill up for an up-or-down vote. One problem though is that the Democratic Senate President, Teresa Paiva-Weed, is an outspoken opponent of marriage equality. Paiva-Weed assigned the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where four Senators support marriage equality, and four oppose, although one of those who oppose said he would vote to move the bill to the floor because his constituents asked him to. That makes five of the six votes needed for the bill to pass out of the committee, with two others not yet announcing their position.
Meanwhile, the waters were muddied when a senator proposed a competing bill that would allow Rhode Island voters to vote on a constitutional amendment allowing same-sex marriage. But that bill provides such broad religious exemptions that it would eviscerate the state’s anti-discrimination laws which prohibit discrimination in employment, credit and public accommodations. That proposed amendment posed a serious threat by drawing support away from the bill passed by the House. But earlier this week, three Democratic co-sponsors announced they were withdrawing their support of the bill after getting an earful from their constituents.
All of this means that it’s anybody’s guess what will happen when the Senate Judiciary Committee meets today to consider both bills. The meeting will take place beginning at approximately 4:30 this afternoon in Room 313 at the State House.
Banned Ugandan Play To Be Staged In U.S.: Baltimore, MD. Last summer, an unusual play was performed in a couple of small venues in suburban Kampala, Uganda. What made the play so unusual was that it was the first known play on the Ugandan stage to feature gay characters in a pro-gay setting. British national David Cecil, who served as the play’s producer, was soon arrested, jailed, tried and acquitted of charges in connection with staging the play, only to be re-arrested again and deported a month later. That play, The River and the Mountain, will be presented as a stage reading beginning today and through the weekend, in four venues in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area. The reading was supposed to feature Okuyo Prynce, a Ugandan actor who played the leading gay role in the original production in Kampala, but his entry into the U.S. has been held up by the INS. Playwright Beau Hopkins however hopes to be on hand for the stage readings.
Readings of The River and the Mountain will be conducted:
- Thursday, March 21, at Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD., at 8:00 p.m.
- Friday, March 22, at Bowie State University, 14000 Jericho Park Road, Bowie, MD., at 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday, March 22, at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA., at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, March 24, at Single Carrot Theatre, 1727 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD., at 5:30 p.m.
Readings are free, though donations will be accepted. Click here for more information.
Events This Weekend: European Gay Ski Week, Alpe d’Huez, France; Exeter Pride, Exeter, UK; Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, London, UK; Black Party, New York, NY; European Snow Pride, Tignes, France; OutBoard, Winter Park, CO.
Vadim Alekseevich Kozin: 1903. The great Russian tenor Vadim Alekseevich Kozin was celebrated throughout the Soviet Union in the 1920s for his recordings and concerts specializing in gypsy romances and love songs. He sang those songs, which he wrote himself, with such passion and tenderness that garnered him the title of the “Russian Orpheus.” He once gave a concert with American Paul Robeson and is said to have performed for Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Tehran conference in 1943. But in those precarious days during Stalin’s rule, Kozin fell out of favor with the Kremlin and was arrested in 1944. He was sent to a prison camp near Magadan in the Russian Far East for five years for political offenses, “corruption of youth” and homosexuality. From that moment on, his songs disappeared from the radio and his public concerts came to an end.
After his release in 1950, Kozen resumed performing in local theaters in the Russian Far East and Siberia, but he was prohibited from performing in Moscow and Leningrad. It was during this period when Kozen began to keep a diary. “How I would like even just once,” he wrote of one unnamed man in 1956, “even for one instant, to look into the depth of those green eyes. Why does it happen like this? One person appears, and there is nothing else sacred in the world. He has filled it all himself. Who that person is, no one will ever find out.”
Kozin also used his diary to express his impatience with the official attitude toward homosexuality. “There is nothing unnatural in the life I want to live,” he wrote. “There is real, good friendship and complete mutual trust.” In another entry, he criticized actors with their “demonstration of fictional family values” and waving of party cards. “Do I have the moral right, with my defects, to see them that way? After torturous and long thought, I have realized that I do. They are much more rotten people.”
But Kozin worried that he risked further imprisonment. In another entry, he was alarmed by another actor while on tour. “His behavior will lead him to the camp. I must tell him that his sexual motives shouldn’t affect me at all. … I don’t want people to think about me like that again. I will try to suffer alone.”
Kozin’s fears were well-founded. He was arrested again in 1959 for homosexuality and was forced to write a humiliatingly detailed confession. Despite a brief revival in the 1980′s when his records were reissued, he was never officially rehabilitated. He died in Madagan in 1994 at the age of 91. Since his death, Vadim Kozin has become an icon in Russia’s gay community. One of his most famous songs is one called “Friendship” which, he later confided to a friend, was dedicated to another man:
“We are so close that words do not have to be repeated. Our tenderness and our friendship are stronger than passion and greater than love.”
Vadim Kozin with friends in Madagan in 1993:
Rosie O’Donnel: 1962. Times change, don’t they? During her years hosting her popular daytime talk show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, from 1996 to 2002, she developed a reputation for being “The Queen of Nice” and for her self-professed crush with actor Tom Cruise. Two months before her talk show ended, she came out, saying, “I’m a dyke!” When she became a moderator for The View in 2006, her “queen of nice” persona was ancient history, as she engaged in several public controversies and on-air disputes. She was encouraged by the program to be provocative and outspoken, and she certainly delivered. She picked a public fight with Donald Trump, she compared the Mark Foley congressional page scandal to the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandals, and she condemned the Bush Administration’s Iraq war policies. The final straw for O’Donnel was during an on-air argument with co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the producers showed O’Donnel and Hasselbeck in a split screen, which, O’Donnel, said, “they (the producers) had to prepare that in advance… I felt there was setup egging me into that position.” Tired of the confrontations, O’Donnel left the show in May, 2007. Parade magazine named her “The Most Annoying Celebrity of 2007,” while Time called her one of their “100 Most Influential People.”
Since then, O’Donnell has been involved in several projects, including acting as Executive Producer of a Lifetime movie, hosting SiriusXM’s “Rosie Radio” from 2009 to 2011, a short-lived talk show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, and a collaborative partner in the LGBT family vacation company R Family Vacations. She has also been involved with several charitable causes, including early childhood care and education, adoption and foster parenting, and rehabilitation therapies for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Her For All Kids Foundation has awarded more than $22 million in grants to 1,400 child-related organizations. Overall, O’Donnell has given more than $100 million to charity. O’Donnel herself is a foster and adoptive mother, and in February of 2004, she married Kelly Carpenter in San Francisco when Mayor Gavin Newsom launched an ill-fated effort to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the couples split in 2007. (Those marriages were later declared invalid by the California Supreme Court.) In 2012, O’Donnel married Michelle Rounds in a private ceremony in New York.
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
This your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?