Archive for June, 2011

Photo diary: Gay Pride March, NYC, 6-26-2011

June 29, 2011

I've participated in the gay pride march for many years but not recently -- it had started to feel very been-there-done-that. But after Friday's gay marriage triumph, I knew the energy would be high, so I marched with Andy and Team New York Aquatics, the swim team.

There are many good reasons to march with the swim team. They get a lot of attention (and it's all about attention, right?), partly because most of them parade down Fifth Avenue in Speedos (see Andy and his bff Randall modelling the team suit)...

...and partly because they come armed with gigantic water guns and create pandemonium by squirting the crowds all along the route.

The turnout was indeed spectacular, the mood was ebullient. I realized that something I love about the march is that it's one of the few places where I get to see huge contingents of gay girls manifesting in public.

You see everyone in the parade, even three-month-old babies.

And of course fabulous creatures out of your dreams.

this pride of lions suddenly showed up somewhere along the way and positioned themselves between the swimmers and the truck from the sports bar Boxers.

a lovely day of community

In this week’s New Yorker

June 29, 2011

Two interesting long pieces — a profile by Evan Osnos of the young Chinese pop novelist (and race car driver!) Han Han, and a reporting piece by Nick Paumgarten about online dating services, specifically covering OK Cupid,, and eHarmony. The most remarkable fact in Paumgarten’s story is that he has only been on two dates in his entire life — he’s been married for 23 years to the second woman he dated. Also commendable: Lauren Collins’ “Letter from Luton,” about the English Defense League, a product of the anti-Muslim-immigration sentiment in the U.K. The racism of the EDL lads is very disturbing, but so is a sheik’s refusal to shake a female reporter’s hand.

R.I.P.: Alice Playten

June 27, 2011

The morning after the good news from Albany declaring same-sex marriage to be legal in New York State, the sad news arrived that Alice Playten died at age 63. Alice was one of those performers who wasn’t necessarily a household name for most Americans but was absolutely legendary and beloved in certain pockets of New York theater as a comic actress and singer. Her resume came loaded with classy credits: after making her stage debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Wozzeck at age 11, she appeared in the original productions of a bunch of famous musicals, from Broadway classics (Gypsy, Hello, Dolly!) to Off-Broadway landmarks (from Al Carmines and Irene Fornes’s Promenade to Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline or Change).

Funnily enough, I first encountered Alice as a comic spoken-word presence on Martin Mull’s 1977 album I’m Everyone I Ever Loved. I moved to New York in 1980 and commenced a long-term relationship with Stephen Holden, who knew Alice slightly through the music business and had adored her crazed performance in National Lampoon’s Lemmings Off-Broadway. When I met her and her husband Josh White (of the famed Joshua Light Show), we hit it off like gangbusters.

The four of us became very good friends, spending many birthdays and holidays together, bonding over our love of good theater, good music, good movies, and good laughs.

It was fun going to see shows with Alice because she was an enthusiastic theater- and concert-goer with very discerning tastes. She liked to love things and often had extremely nuanced appreciations (especially of song lyrics) but she wasn’t a pushover and called out performances whose quality was sub-par. (I remember her remarking of one male stage star’s performance on Broadway, “That was so hammy I could smell the pineapple!”) She was very plugged-in, loved being in the know, dishing the dish and sharing show-biz gossip — less about who was an asshole and who did what to whom but more about what exciting projects by excellent artists were coming down the pipeline.

at dinner with Josh, Alice, Jonathan Hadary, and Annette Bening

Alice would have been perfectly content working in theater or movies 52 weeks a year but like many great performers didn’t work as much as she would have wanted to. Knowing her meant getting a peek inside the life of an actor whom everybody in the theater knows but who still spent way too much time waiting for the phone to ring with the next job. I have very fond memories seeing her at Playwrights Horizons in Mark O’Donnell’s hilarious That’s It, Folks! and many times in Caroline or Change, first at the Public Theater and then on Broadway. And I remember what a big deal it was for her to be cast in Ridley Scott’s fantasy film Legend, which starred a quite young Tom Cruise.

After Stephen and I broke up in 1993, some of our friends felt the need to take sides, and Stephen got Alice and Josh in the divorce. After that, they were cordial to me but not close. But I wished them well and cherish the times we spent together. Through thick and thin, enduring many ups and downs, Josh was the epitome of a devoted partner to Alice, and I share with him both the sadness of her passing and the many joys of having known her.

Photo diary: scenes from Schlusshof

June 26, 2011

I spent a delicious eleven days back in the woods of northeast Germany recently co-facilitating a workshop for an organization called Gay Love Spirit.

My co-facilitators -- Kai, Volker, and Andy -- had spent the last two years working with a group of men in seven sessions on different themes, and they invited me to join them for the eighth and final module on Sacred Intimacy.

The four of us slept in the Bootshause (Boathouse) overlooking a beautiful lake.

We did most of our work in the Seepavilion...

...which we converted into a temple for meditation, bodywork, teaching, rituals, and recreation.

The lake was home to many ducks, geese, and swans.

The Bootshaus was home to many spiders.

The temple was home to numerous impromptu ceremonies of celebration, worship, and heart-connection.

During breaks, it was easy to hop in the lake for a quick, refreshing swim.

It was a peaceful and nurturing break from life in the big city.

good stuff online: how marriage equality happened in New York

June 26, 2011

I came away from the events of June 24, 2011 — the passage of a law in New York state permitting same-sex marriage — with a lot of respect for the politicians who made it happen, especially Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made it their ardent mission to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. The cover story in today’s New York Times by Michael Barbaro gives a fascinating description of how it actually happened — worth reading to see progressive politics in action on a highly practical level, Andrew Cuomo-style.

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