National Commentary

Anything But Straight: The Week In Review

I told a few friends that I was going to the annual Winter Party in Miami Beach, and by their strong reactions you might have thought I announced I was going to an Al Qaeda meeting.

"So, you have finally joined the dark side of shallow body fascists," shrieked one friend.

I have to admit I had a great time, but I can see why these "circuit parties" freak out or intimidate so many gay men. For starters, I had never before been to a pool party where 5,000 men had 30,000 visible abs. In this place, "carb" was definitely a four-letter word.

The whole scene reminded me of the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" where the main character was called "six," referring to her supposedly plump dress size. At the Winter Party, I was expecting people to address each other by the number of abs.

"Hey, four, are you going to the club tonight?"

"No, five and a half, I’m going to the gym so I can be at least a four-point five for tomorrow’s party."

Drug usage appeared to be way down. I’d like to attribute this to gay men wising up, but it seems they have given up drugs for a newer addiction – text messaging.

Everywhere I looked, people were huddled in corners pecking away at their cell phones. I don’t really get this new fad. Wasn’t the telephone invented so we wouldn’t have to type our messages? It is back to the telegraph, I suppose.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force sponsored the festivities and deserves credit for throwing one heck of a party. A little eye candy for the cause is never a bad thing.

In other news:

Bob Hattoy Dies: Bob Hattoy was a trailblazing activist who delivered a powerful and historic primetime address to the 1992 Democratic National Convention about living as an HIV positive gay man.

However, what I most remember about Hattoy was that he was an ebullient, larger than life personality in a city full of suited clones and bureaucratic drones. In the mid-nineties I moved to DC without a job, which was a great conversation stopper at parties. The moment some people found out that I had no business card, they quickly excused themselves to "get a drink."

Hattoy was different. He treated me like a Senator when I had nothing to give back in return. Even at the height of his fame, he was incredibly down to earth and quick with a joke. While he will be lauded for his contributions to mankind, I will remember him for his humanity. We will hear much about his public life, but the true measure of the man was his private acts of kindness.

Al Gore: Al Gore had the foresight to help invest in what later became the Internet, and yet, people see him as a stiff. The former Senator from Tennessee was right on the war in Iraq, but the Democratic establishment would rather listen to Hillary parse her war position. Gore is ahead of his time on global warming, and all the pundits can do is discuss his ballooning weight. Suddenly, he wins a little gold trophy at the Oscars and now people are encouraging him to throw his hat into the presidential ring!

How screwed up are American values when leadership matters less than showmanship? Have we learned nothing after electing Bush because he’d be fun to share a beer with on the ranch? With the advent of cable TV, politicians are our new rock stars and elections have become just another form of entertainment. Why don’t we just drop all pretenses and have Rosie run against "The Donald"?

Nadine Smith: Equality Florida activist Nadine Smith was unfairly arrested for "disrupting" a Largo, Fla. city commission meeting where city manager Steven Stanton was railroaded out of a job because he was planning to have a sex-change operation.

The thugs who arrested Smith justified manhandling her because a flier she gave to a man who requested one posed a serious "fire hazard." Thank God for the police, because we know how deadly fliers can be and how they have already caused an epidemic of city commissions across the nation to be reduced to ashes.

Please consider giving a donation to Equality Florida. Our GLBT heroes, such as Smith, deserve our support as they fight in the trenches, so most of us can enjoy events like the Winter Party in peace.