A Change Is Gonna Come

What I've been doing lately - the songs that have not been mentioned:
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window
If I Could Turn Back Time
Carry That Weight
Golden Slumbers
Proud Mary
To Make You Feel My Love
Love Song
Like a Rolling Stone
What's Going On
Blowin' in the Wind
I Am What I Am
A Change is Gonna Come

It's these last few (not in chronological order) that I've been wanting to write about but I just haven't had time recently.  Most of my time the past 5 weeks has gone into working on a show called Oklahomo for the New York Musical Festival.  No, that's not a typo...it's a rock musical satire about a gay superhero from Oklahoma. 

Before I came on board with the project, I had a chance to chat with the director and the writer, and they both warned me, in separate phone conversations, that the script they were about to send me was a little off-color.  I assured them I'm not easily offended, and to send the script on over.  Even so, I had to ask myself, fresh from a visit to my fairly conservative, religious family, why I was not offended.  It turns out that sexual humor and foul language do not, in and of themselves, offend me (much to my mother's chagrin).  Good to know.  (I should pause to acknowledge that while this play happens to be off-color, and to deal with homosexuality, I'm not saying that the subject of sexuality - homo- or otherwise - is itself off-color.)

So what does offend me, if not F-words and bawdy jokes about gay sex? 

Discrimination - allowing someone to suffer by treating them differently or by denying them basic civil rights, simply because they are different from what is considered the norm (or... um, female, slightly more than half the population).  Malice - intention to hurt another. Violence.  I'm sickened by the recent spate of attacks against gays in New York City, particularly the assault at the iconic Stonewall Inn where the gay rights movement was born four decades ago and where I play regularly.  I'm saddened by the recent well-publicized suicides of gay teens.  The ones we've heard about are sad enough; even worse is the fact that we all know there are so many more we never hear about.  I mean, come on, people, I don't care about your personal opinion of homosexuality, this is someone's kid.

Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying.

I'm in an interesting position - a swing state native living in New York City.  I have a lot of conservative Christian and Mormon friends.  They are kind, smart, creative people who want to live their lives peacefully and find satisfaction in their work and loved ones.  Many of them are married.  I have a lot of more left-leaning friends of various religious disciplines.  They are kind, smart, creative people who want to live their lives peacefully and find satisfaction in their work and loved ones.  Some of them are happily married; many of them are single, and some have reservations or downright aversion to marriage.  I have a lot of gay friends (I mean, come on, I work in musical theater, for heaven's sake).  They are kind, smart, creative people who want to live their lives peacefully and find satisfaction in their work and loved ones. Many of them are in long-term, committed, communicative, monogamous, loving relationships.  Many of them want to get married.  Most places in this country, they aren't at liberty to do so.  Liberty.  Justice.  For all?

How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?

It's really hard for me to talk about this stuff, because my friends and family run the gamut from Bible-thumping truck drivers to latte-swilling entrepreneurs, and I love and respect them all.  But you know what? 

1. Maybe the two sides should consider talking to each other.  "Picket lines and picket signs/Don't punish me with brutality/Talk to me so you can see what's going on."

2.  It really bugs me that some people in my country are treated differently based on their sexual orientation.  It boggles my mind that the Apostle Paul's - Paul's! - words about homosexuality have somehow become more important than Jesus Christ's point blank "second-most-important commandment" (Matt 22:37-40) - love thy neighbor, (the first-most-important being love thy God, not hate thine fags).  Stop being so obsessed with sex, religious people! 

What courage it takes to own up to who you truly are.  It takes a lot of guts for me to own the fact that I'm a non-baby-wanting workaholic, and I live in a place where that's pretty socially acceptable.  I learn rock tunes, when my dad would have me playing continuo for Handel oratorios.  Pop music: he thinks it's noise; I think it's pretty.  That's small potatoes - easy.  How much more courageous to be your own special creation when society at large guarantees discrimination and threatens physical harm against you.  If there's an upside to the recent violence (or the recent increased news coverage of the violence), it's that maybe it's a sign that change is around the corner.  Long time coming.

About Oklahomo - I chose to do it because ultimately it's a story about love and acceptance. We performed one of the numbers at the Stonewall a couple weeks ago, and we got a huge round of applause at the first chorus: "rainbows and rednecks, gun racks and gay sex, why can't we all get along?" Never try to convince me that financial institutions are more important than music.  The barter system still works great, and songs deal, quite literally, with matters of life and death.

So to my Christian friends, and to my gay friends, and to my many friends who are both Christian and gay - in the words of a character from Oklahomo: flame on!