Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paper Roses and Banana Cream Pie

Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to KGIL, LA's self-proclaimed, retro AM radio station. You know, Harry Belafonte, Herb Alpert, Lena Horne. And to announce an upcoming song, the DJ said, "Sit back and enjoy Paper Roses by Anita Baker." What? Soulful, smooth-as-smokey-scotch Anita Baker did a cover of the country tearjerker, Paper Roses? Was this before or after Marie Osmond sang it into the top five with her "I'm a little bit country" vibe? As the music was swelling, even before I heard the vocalist, I knew the DJ had misspoken. And I involuntarily winced.

We all have that place in the back of our brains that stores all sorts of ridiculous trivia. Some of which are at the ready for witty repartee, but the more arcane facts are buried deep behind layers of rat turds and cobwebs. And when those buried facts are dusted off and brought to the surface, I am amazed at the mound of crap I know.

It seems at some point in my life I must have slipped my knowledge of Paper Roses away, like a phone number into a brassiere, possibly never to be seen again. Because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Anita Baker was not about to wow me with her chops. Instead, I was going to be met with the dramatic stylings of Miss America second runner up, orange juice hawker and homophobe, Anita Bryant.

And rightly or wrongly, Anita Bryant always makes me think of the following...



It's odd... I haven't put myself in many positions where I felt like a second class citizen for being homosexual. When Michael and I adopted, I imagined a whiff of discomfort from the social workers or other prospective adoptive parents, but there was none. Both times Michael and I got married (the big church wedding in 2001, and then the legal wedding last year) I wondered if angry evangelicals would show up brandishing protest signs and pitchforks, but no, only loved ones with flowers and confetti. So, personally, I've moved forward, marrying, having kids, taking them to school, gymnastics, speech therapy, what have you, and remarkably I haven't felt the hate. Granted, I've lived in San Francisco, New York and now Los Angeles, but still, that's an amazing admission.

Watching Anita Bryant pray for the men who pied her, hoping to deliver them from their deviant lifestyle really kicks me in the navel oranges each time I watch this video. Her misuse of the Bible is both breathtaking and dangerous. In her hay day, Bryant certainly lit fires with her rhetoric, "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes, and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters."

Don't sell this beauty contestant short. Her mark was significant. In 1977, she helped the state of Florida to prohibit gay adoption. Sadly, this law was only overturned last year. Then, she successfully campaigned to repeal an ordinance in Dade County which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1998, twenty years later, Dade County repudiated Bryant's campaign, and the anti-discrimination ordinance was once again in place. And even though it seems a no brainer that any type of discrimination should be illegal, in 2002 there was a ballot initiative to repeal the 1998 law! Thankfully, that was voted down.

I spelled out that last bit of Florida history because it shows how tenuous laws can be, voted in one year, repealed four years later. Just look at the mess California has made about gay marriage. There are eighteen thousand legally married gay and lesbian couples in the state, and yet at present it's illegal for homosexuals to marry. HUH? (And peculiarly, we have our own little beauty queen at the center of our controversy.) I understand each state has the right to have a certain amount of autonomy, however when it comes to human rights, we should be united in our thinking.

President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law this week. I may not have experienced any profound homophobia in my lifetime, but I doubt if Michael and I started our family in a different state, one with a decidedly red hue, we would have had the same experiences. There are certain places in this country where we wouldn't even think of holding hands for fear of what might happen. So, yes, this protection is necessary. Our whole country has to move collectively into this millennium even if it's kicking and screaming.

To boldly shift to one of my random thoughts... I wonder if Obama signed this into law before Halloween because he knew the haters cannot abide queens having fun. And when you think about it, what makes a queen more happy then a day that celebrates sparkly costumes and a bit of mascara?

For the record, I didn't change the radio station. I listened to the whole of Paper Roses, and Anita Bryant not Baker really has a beautiful voice. (Definitely not as reedy as Mormon Marie's.) It's too bad though, in the future when I recall Anita Bryant, I will not first think of her singing or her orange juice commercials, but that she spent a great deal of her life trying to do away with the homosexuals and the banana cream pie oozing down her face.

I thought that you would be a perfect lover
You seemed so full of sweetness at the start
But like a big red rose that's made of paper
There isn't any sweetness in your heart.

Shall we pray?

5 comments:

Alexis! said...

I saw an amazing show about Anita at Fringe Festival in Orlando a while back, the story is truly ridiculous. How one person can hate so many is appalling, yet I am never surprised when one person loves so many.

The Good Cook said...

I have completely forgotten about Anita... now I wonder what she was so afraid of?

Knucklehead said...

Wait a minute, we've given equal rights to NAIL BITERS?!?!

What the hell is this world coming to?

Vodka Mom said...

I have to say that I cringed when i saw that clip of her. Honestly, I can't understand how people can think like that. I just can't.


I am thinking of how far this country has come, but keeping in mind how far we have yet to go.

xoxo

Melissa said...

I may be a bad person, but the video made me laugh; I believe that is called karma. To think that people REALLY think that way, will never fail to amaze me. Ignorance...