Sunday, October 11, 2009


He did it! Now for the follow-through

The intense speculation that the President would make a big announcement on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was fulfilled last night during his appearance at the Human Rights Campaign dinner. I think this statement was made in far too specific terms--he said he was working with the Pentagon and with the Congress to introduce legislation to end the ban--and at a far too high visibility an occasion for him to drag his feet any longer.

Regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, that too depends on Congressional action which he says he is going to initiate. I suspect this initiative will face greater opposition than the repeal of DADT. And I bet there are some outraged sermons going on at Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches today.

It's the right thing to do and it's about time. The march in Washington today should be hugely energized by this announcement.


From the New York Times Arts section:
October 1, 2009, 11:24 am
Study Finds More Gay Characters on Broadcast Networks, Fewer on Cable
By Dave Itzkoff

Rex LeeHBO Rex Lee as Lloyd, a gay character on the HBO series “Entourage.”

The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters has grown in recent years on prime-time network television, but decreased on cable, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said. For its recently published “Where We Are On TV” study, the alliance reviewed 79 scripted comedies and dramas announced to air on the broadcast networks during the 2009-2010 season, and found that of 600 series regulars on these shows, 18 are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The study said that ABC has the most such characters, with 8 out of 168 total series regulars; Fox has four (including cartoon characters from “The Simpsons” and “American Dad”), NBC has three, CW has two and CBS has none. In its review of mainstream cable channels, including HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, AMC and others, the alliance found that the number of series regulars who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender decreased this year to 25 from 32 last year. When the gay-oriented cable channels here! and Logo were accounted for, the study said, an additional 27 such characters were added to the tally.


With all my studies into the European-Islamic interface form the seventh through seventeenth centuries--it's been a lot of reading--one area I haven't explored is the major literary voice of Islam at the time, poetry. For all the astonishingly advanced works on medicine, astronomy, mathematics, geography, history, engineering, and other branches of science, it was lyric poetry that was considered the major literary achievement. The form was so respected and so deeply interconnected with the culture that a large number of the major scientists and mathematicians were distinguished poets as well.

One who has become somewhat popular currently is Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī,
1207-1273), jurist, mystic and theologian. I first came across his work when I was invited ot sit in on the studio reviews at the MIT Architecture School, where one of the senior architects used poetry to encourage students to think first in images and themes rather than running immediately to practicalities like plans and site analyses. He assigned this one tgo a group working on the design for a library:

When I am with you we stay up all night
When you're not here, I cannot go to sleep
Thank God for these two insomnias
and the difference between them

and one reason for assigning this particular poem is that the object of the all night insomnias in the poem isn't a beloved person, but a book.

Because same-sex love was honored in Islamic cultre during the medieval period, Rumi has become a frequent read for gay men. Here is a short poem of Rumi's, a kind of Islamic haiku:

There is only one way to win him, this beloved of mine:
Become his.

The old scam resurfaces from a new location:

Good Day,

I am Mr. Hung, I've in my bank deal worth $32.5M, to transact with you. Reply me for more details

Best regards
Kwok Kin Hung
Chief Operating Officer
Wing Lung Bank
Hong Kong.

Short and sweet, no flowery introductions or explanation of relationships to cousins of high government ministers. And he says he's hung . . . .

I like Rumi too.
I see Mr. Hung has contacted you too. Geez, and I thought the $32.5M was mine only.

Morris! Growing up I had a cat just like him.
I have been reading Rumi also... great minds thinking alike?

I have been sticking with Modern Family because the gay couple are funny & refreshing.

Mr. Hung puts our quite the offer, huh?
I love Rumi! So was he "gay"?

I don't watch TV - no cable! But I love that there are so many gay characters.
That's such a good question. I stand with Larry Kramer in rejecting the theorists' idea that there were no gays or homosexuals in the eras prior to the coining of those terms. But in the Islamic world of the middle ages, same-sex relationships seem to have been accepted along with opposite-sex relationships and many men appear to have had both whenever they desired. A separate category based on what we call "orientation" didn't need to exist as there seems to have been no division.

The appalling situation we have now with gay teenagers being hanged in Iran is a much later and wholly unwelcome development, another disastrous legacy of Imperialism.
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