Thursday, July 23, 2009
Massachusetts City Becomes A Haven for Persecuted Gays
by Kilian Melloy EDGE Staff Reporter Tuesday Jul 21, 2009
In 80 nations worldwide, it’s a crime to be gay or lesbian. In some places, same-sex intimacy between consenting adults can be punished with steep fines, jail time--or even death. In countries without harsh legal penalties, the social costs, including harassment and murder, might be tolerated by officials disinclined to offer the protection of the law to gays.
But in Massachusetts, one of the focal points in the birth of modern democracy, the town of Worcester is a beacon in a new cause: that of GLBT equality.
According to a July 21 in the Worcester Telegram, Massachusetts is regarded by gay asylum seekers as a state where they might get a fair hearing; Worcester County is a hot spot within the state for GLBTs of various nationalities who have fled persecution in their countries of origin.
The article cited the case of a young Jamaican man, who saw a friend beset and beaten by a mob; when the police arrived, they simply watched.
The article also related the story of a gay Ugandan man who was taken captive and subjected to torments; after that, his business was razed by the government.
A Lebanese man was also profiled, a Muslim with nowhere to turn because both secular and religious law condemned him for being gay.
The article said that Lutheran Social Services of Worcester and Hadwen Park Congregational Church, also in Worcester, were instrumental in helping gay refugees looking for safety in America.
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.
(Note: the article’s author has been here at the Center taking a workshop, is an excellent arts critic (and not JUST because he gave one of my scenic designs a rave review in print), and a very nice guy.
The man who cannot pass up a meme strikes again—this time my enabler is Dr. Michael Rockwell, famed blogger Ur-Spo of Spo Reflections.
Are you a “clothes person”?
Sort of, yes. I like to dress interestingly in clothing that somehow reflects who I am. The men’s clothing industry makes this very difficult for me. I made a strategic withdrawal from the world of the business suit many, MANY years ago--that dreary world where all men look exactly the same, and brown in all its many manifestations is a major no-no, as is anything approaching interesting design in a tie.
What this translates into is that I have, on occasion, built my own clothes (in the manner of the provider of this meme, whose shirts and the fabulous fabrics he picks for them are the envy of all who’ve seen them. I also enjoy shopping at thrift shops, the thrill of the chase for the rare but still findable garment that is quirky, individual, and cheap. It’s a win-win situation.
What size shoe do you wear?
9, at least medium and sometimes wide depending on the style.
Oldest item of clothing in the closet?
A 1960s District of Columbia policeman’s winter greatcoat. I bought it at a surplus store in Boston to get me through my first winter in college. It is made of a navy blue wool fabric that is so tightly woven (and the coat so well lined) that howling winter winds simply do NOT penetrate it. It’s a long coat—mid-calf length and heavy but comfortable to wear. And the collar flips up just so and makes the wearer look kick-ass handsome!
An item you won’t discard?
Any pair of socks with a hole somewhere I think can be darned together again. (that voice in the background is Fritz saying, “just throw the damned things OUT and buy new ones!”)
Have you ever bought any clothes items from the following places?
Land’s End? No
International Male? One or two items. Decades ago. Never again.
Goodwill stores? YES!
Do you wear neckwear to work?
No, and not just because I don't work in a conventional office situation--or ever did. I do wear a tie with a vest when going out to performances, but the design of it MUST be interesting and NOT involve stripes at an angle.
How much ‘pink’ is in your wardrobe?
About one tenth of one percent, as a minor accent color in printed fabric.
(for those with partners) Do you share clothing items?
Any leather? Yes
Any drag wear? No
Any fuzzy slippers?
Yes. a pair of faux fur-lined moccasin slippers.
The most ‘colorful’ T-shirt?
About half of them
Are you a Project Runway fan?
Have you ever made your own clothing?
Yes, as mentioned above, the major item being a very handsome Norfolk Jacket out of an gorgeous hunk of sage green Irish tweed.
I long to have…
A couple more Australian Wildflower T-shirts from the Sydney Botanical Gardens Shop. The flowers were embroidered on, not printed. I bought one (the flower called the waratah) while I was there and should have bought two or three of the other designs.
Most cherished item?
The Thai silk vest I had built for me to wear at my elder daughter’s wedding.
What is forbidden/not allowed to stay in the closet?
These days, any trousers with pleated fronts, or anything DULL.
If I had the money I would buy a …..
Custom made, extremely elegant formal vest with lapels, made of a really fine grade of leather in a dark tobacco brown with antique buttons, a leather back instead of the usual sleazy acetate, and a high grade silk satin lining.