Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 1998-1999

Warren Allen Smith

Gossip from Across the Pond

by Warren Allen Smith

His problem is on everyone’s tongue. Not just Monica Lewinsky’s.

Gay and lesbian humanists at first assumed that “impeachment” referred to President Bill Clinton’s curious Baptist custom of feeling guilty each time a Jewish girl showed her thong and started things, then of his finishing up solo in the bathroom.

But, no, it turns out to mean that according to the US Constitution if a person is asked under oath about his private sex life, he must – se offendeno, as even Ophelia’s gravediggers knew – be impeached in the event he skirts the issue or jockeys with legalisms.

Lawyers now look forward greedily to querying politicians, not just gay and lesbian members of the armed forces, about their private affairs. Already three Republicans have confessed to having had adulterous affairs, too: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (who presided over Clinton’s impeachment inquiry), House Speaker-not-to-be Bob Livingston (who favored Clinton’s impeachment for lying), and Indiana Representative Dan Burton (who, although accused of sleeping with female staff and groping a lobbyist, once called Clinton an immoral “scumbag”). Female Republicans also are confessing: Idaho Representative Helen Chenoweth has admitted to having had “it” with a married man, but “I’ve asked for God’s forgiveness, and I’ve received it.”

Secrets, alas, used to involve privates. “Faith, her privates we”, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern told Hamlet when asked for the truth. These days, however, royalty finds itself being fervently photographed in the nude. Clinton’s curved privates are no longer so private. And Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank’s breakup of a ten-year relationship with Herb Moses has been outed. To bring things to a head, one is no longer even certain what is meant by a “member” of Congress.

As America goes, so goes the world. Already the appropriately named Rev Canaan Banana, formerly the President of Zimbabwe, has been caught. He was convicted in November of sodomy with young bodyguards, gardeners, and cook. Also, Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has been in court for allegedly having sodomized his wife’s former chauffeur. Nova Scotia’s former premier, Gerald Regan, was tried but found not guilty of rape, attempted rape, and indecent assault upon three women. So, who next, now that the suspected virgin Mother Teresa is no longer alive to preach against the pleasures of sex!

Gays and lesbians who are Republicans (conservatives, moderates) have hoped that Clinton will get kicked out. Those who are Democrats (moderates, liberals) have hoped he’ll finish out his presidency. Many remain angry that Clinton in his World AIDS Day remarks did not mention gay people, that his administration has opposed needle-exchange programs, that it fired Joycelyn Elders as Surgeon General for speaking out about safe sex and condoms, and that it has rendered gays and lesbians second class citizens in the military and in marriage. In the Puritanical environment we inherited from England, Americans generally think that Clinton has betrayed friends and colleagues, has done a good job as President during a period of prosperity, did not deserve Judge Starr’s (a minion of the tobacco lobby) and the Republicans’ mirthless satire of attempting an entrapment and coup d’état, and has given the fine old term “philandering” a dirty name.

Quentin Crisp, the gay non-theist, spent Christmas off-Broadway celebrating his 90th birthday. The ex-Britisher who wrote The Naked Civil Servant in 1968, tells Yanks that Lady Diana, before she was Princess Diana, knew that royal marriages are never about love. Didn’t Queen Alexandra, Crisp relates, when Edward VII was on his deathbed and knowing about his mistress, say, “Let Mrs Kepple be sent for”? In England, Crisp wittily says in his Gay Nineties show: “Adultery is condoned, divorce is not. In the United States it’s the opposite. Every American woman knows marriage is for a little while alimony is forever.”

Two leading gay playwrights, both humanists, have had big successes in New York. Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi was a memorable dramatic experience. Ticket holders started by passing through a group of protesting religious fundamentalists in order to get in, then they passed through a metal detector to make sure that whatever the guard saw bulging wasn’t a gun. The play was panned by theists with a vested interest, of course. However, its central theme – acceptance of outsiders and the need for tolerance – was praised by the cognoscenti. Its lead character, a Texan named Joshua, spread his Jesus-like gospel of affirmation in saying to his childhood lover, Judas, and others, “God loves us most when we love each other.” Judas, of course, betrays him to “the fag haters in priests’ robes,” and Joshua is crucified by the very ones who jeered him as a young boy, something with which it is easy to empathize. But many found the work less impious than Monty Python’s The Life of Brian or Jesus Christ Superstar.

Far more blasphemous is Paul Rudnick’s The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, one of the theatrical season’s funniest comedies. God, according to Rudnick, actually created Adam and Steve as well as Janet and Mabel, not just Adam and Eve. The same-sex couples quickly fall for each other. Adam is unsure where he came from, but he does find Eden a “fabulous” place except – true to his orientation as a nervous aesthete – is concerned about his hair and says, “I mean, I would have put the lake over there.” Steve is the secular humanist type who points out that the Bible has to be wrong because, look, there’s no Eve. Janet, meanwhile, is the butch type. Mabel’s a dippy spiritual sort.

This is a delightfully irreverent work, guaranteed to rile the religious right, particularly because of some frontal nudity (the cute priest, alas, never gets unfrocked) and a scene with godly-possible backdoor intercourse. “Believe in not knowing” and “Take a real risk – ask nothing” are two statements playgoers receive from the script. In Britain, pray that the play will be resurrected there – don’t miss any such second coming. Also pray for a resurrection of Rudnick’s 1990s play, The Naked Eye in which a man on a cross has an erection.

The Winter Solstice arrived in Manhattan at 20:56 on December 21 almost entirely unnoticed except by secular humanists who were not taking advantage of the ChristMyth 60% Off sales.

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Created : Sunday, 1999-02-28 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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