Tuesday, June 7, 2011

San Francisco Is Doomed!: Will the "Tales of the City" Bastion Of Love And Compassion Withstand The Coming Onslaught Of Righteousness?


"If God doesn't destroy San Francisco, he should apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah"
"OK, so it won't burn down in the traditional sense, but where is that earthquake when you need it???"
"It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world"
The first two quotes were from religion-based blogs. The third was from that classic reprobate,  Oscar Wilde.

"Your city is remarkable not only for its beauty. It is also, of all the cities in the United States, the one whose name, the world over, conjures up the most visions and more than any other, incites one to dream. " - Georges Pompidou
Understatement has its purpose I suppose, but when it comes to certain topics, understatement always eludes me. So when I saw the musical Tales Of The City at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater, I knew that understatement would be impossible: after all, I actually LIVED through all of it. I even topped Michael Mouse in some respects.[1]

It's not a great musical by Broadway standards, but what makes it superlative to San Franciscans is that it is as true as it is heartfelt: it tears down barriers and replaces them with freedom, love and understanding. It's San Francisco at its best.

Of course, it will be reviled, boycotted, demonized, and deemed absolutely criminal by all the Bryan Fischers, James Dobsons, Beverly LaHayes, Lou Engles, Herman Cains and Tony Perkinses of the country. And since the musical's premier is in San Francisco during Gay Pride month and before San Francisco's million-in-attendance Gay Pride celebration, those people will be working feverishly to revile, boycott, demonize and deem absolutely criminal the city of San Francisco itself. 

Thankfully, every year the City has managed to rise above all the vitriol and deliver an astoundingly loud "FU!" to those who don't admire it for what it is: the country's most accepting and compassionate city. It rises above the vilification, above the overt attempts to "save" it. It rises above the hysterical preachers (Lou Engle has called gays in the Castro "Those people who embrace the darkness"). This year, however, might prove more difficult to be celebratory than in the past: the Christian Right is ramping up the vitriol with impunity. It realizes that an attack on San Francisco is a powerful punch against the current Obama administration, the MSM, Hollywood, and every single liberal on the planet. It will try desperately to counteract the reactions to the Gallup poll that discovered over 50% of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage. It will revel in photos of the Pride parade showing "perverts" and it will fervently hope that last year's violence at the Pink Party will be repeated - in fact, escalate into chaos and even more bloodshed. [2]

Yes, that last statement was meant to alarm: the Christian Right is becoming more violent in its hate speech, comparing gays and lesbians to N*zis, linking them to pedophilia, incest and bestiality. Granted, they use archaic stereotypes and dismissed "research," but they are mobilizing the fringe as never before with videos, ads in newspapers, politicians and a string of radio hosts who use those same politicians brazenly to promote a neo-Reconstructionist agenda. And the fringe is reacting: hate crimes against the LGBT community are up. Violence is just around the corner: it just needs a verbal spark to set off one individual, one group.

"San Francisco has been wicked from the very beginning"

I stumbled upon an ironic video while googling "San Francisco Sodom and Gomorrah". It supposedly focuses on the firebombing of a church when anti-gay preacher Lou Sheldon was supposed to speak. Edited by an evangelical Christian, it sets out to tell people how absolutely horrible and sinful San Francisco and its gay community are. In the process, however, if you count the lies and distortions you come up with, you realize that the primary purpose was to make people totally fearful of homosexuals.[3] It reeks of  "This could happen to you!" In addition, it features Scott "Pink Swastika" Lively, one of the architects of the "kill the gays  bill" in Uganda. In their momentum focusing on gay political power, they forget the oppression gays had seen well into the 80s.

Perhaps this White Night Riots incident can put things into perspective:

The second stage of the violence was a police raid/riot hours later in the predominantly gay Castro neighborhood, which vandalized the Elephant Walk bar and injured many of its occupants.[34] After order was restored at City Hall, SFPD cars carrying dozens of officers headed into the Castro District.[35] Officers entered a gay bar called the Elephant Walk, despite their orders not to do so. They shouted "dirty cocksuckers" and "sick faggots", shattered the large plate glass windows of the bar, and attacked patrons. After fifteen minutes police withdrew from the bar and joined other officers who were indiscriminately attacking gays on the street. The incident lasted nearly two hours.[4]

I was there, at both City Hall, then later in the Castro. You haven't lived until you've seen 50 riot-helmeted cops marching toward you, shields touching each other to form a wall of plexi-glass armor ready to throw tear gas. It was sooo much fun! 

"But the Christian Right didn't cause the riot!" Perhaps because, at the time, the big CR was not as powerful as it is today. Its rhetoric not only kills indiscriminately, it owns politicians: just look at some of the proposed draconian laws in Texas.

Besides linking the LGBT community to pedophilia, incest, Nazism, witchcraft and bestiality, it has now focused on the idea of "recruitment," especially in schools. It's really a non-issue, but Tony Perkins of the disingenuous Family Research Council has sounded the alarm of "recruitment" in schools if anti-bullying education is enacted. 

Mr. Perkins will doubtless take umbrage with this passage from Tales of The City:

[In a letter written to his mother, Michael (Mouse) Tolliver telling her that he is homosexual]. 

No, Mama, I wasn't "recruited." No seasoned homosexual ever served as my mentor. But you know what? I wish someone had. I wish someone older than me and wiser than the people in Orlando had taken me aside and said, "You're all right, kid. You can grow up to be a doctor or a teacher just like anyone else. You're not crazy or sick or evil. You can succeed and be happy and find peace with friends - all kinds of friends - who don't give a damn who you go to bed with. Most of all, though, you can love and be loved, without hating yourself for it."[5]

So will the beautiful, wicked City-by-the-Bay be able to prevent possible extreme attacks? No. Nothing can prevent hate crimes perpetrated by zealots spurred on by the Religious Right. Zealots have, in fact, become the new home-grown terrorists, oblivious to the parallels their preachers have to radical Islam's imams. And will it survive the amped-up volume of rotten rhetoric? Yes. The performance of a show like Tales of the City is certainly a testament to that: San Francisco will survive because basic humanity, love and compassion will always survive, despite the efforts of some to make the very soul of The City extinct.

Alright, this piece may go down as just another rant, so as to end it with a more PC tone I will force myself to understatement: the attackers  (he says with teeth gritted) against the glorious City of San Francisco are ... not … very…nice … people.
1 Before the "Jockey Shorts Dance Contest" started, I was a go-go dancer in the infamous End Up's cage. I lasted more than three months. I was popular … as well as hungry.
2 I always seem to be close to crimes in The City: I was very near the Pink Saturday homicide (and I  was in a Castro bar during the White Night Riots), so I was able to ask police about it: it was gang-related and had nothing to do with the gay community or the Pink Saturday Party. The Christian Right, however, omits this fact, hoping that their profile of gays as violent will be proved correct.
3 FYI: Harry Hay did not intend to replace Judeo-Christian principles with his own ideologies. Furthermore, gay politics has never been as powerful as the video might leave you to believe. Gays have always been creative in their vociferousness, leading most to believe that they have enormous amounts of power. 
Police also shouted "sieg heil!" and "bonzai!" When they herded us all onto the intersection of 18th and Castro they were astounded at the number of patrons in the bars - approx. 1500. When we started to shout "Go Home! Go Home!" the 50 policemen reasoned that the crowd was unsustainable and ... went home. One bartender at the Elephant Walk couldn't go home: after having scalding hot water poured over him, he was clubbed viciously enough to lay in a coma for over six months. 
5 Interestingly enough, this is the same letter Maupin published in the San Francisco Chronicle, telling his own mother that he was homosexual.