Monday, June 02, 2008

Cyndi Lauper's "True Color Tour:" Great performances and clueless commentary

Yesterday I jumped in the car with my partner and drove down to Jones Beach Theater on the south shore of Long Island to see the True Color Tour. Headliner Cyndi Lauper was joined by the Indigo Girls, the B-52s, and Rosie O'Donnell (who was actually tender and poignant throughout, but then blew it as we exited the theater...more on that later). It was a great outdoor concert on the ocean with balmy summer breezes and fun performances. From a musical perspective, it rocked: Lauper jumping into the audience to sing, people dancing in the aisles as the B-52s wailed on Love Shack and Rock Lobster, and a lot of 'nostagia' as we sang along with the Indigo Girls.

The purpose of the Tour was to raise awarness of GLBT issues, and to encourage involvement in the political process to secure rights. From that perspective, the evening took on even more significance. Lauper should be congratulated for her heartfelt approach to the issue, which she did in a professional, non-partisan way that delivered a powerful message.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as professional as Lauper.

The Human Rights Campaign, a sponsor and strong presence on the Tour, states the following as its mission:

'The Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization with more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. HRC works to secure equal rights for GLBT individuals and families at the federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grassroots supporters, educating Americans, investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials and partnering with other GLBT organizations. "

Taken at face value, thats a noble mission statement. But to listen to the night unfold as emceed by Carson Kressley....well, they might as well admit to being an Anti-Republican Propaganda machine. And this is where HRC and the Pink Mafia just don't get it.

Kressley is annoying in his own right. The fashion guru on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," few men have so single-handedly reinforced the public's stereotype of gay men as flamboyant, arrogant, self-centered limp-wrists than Kressley. I admit I am no fan.

But fan or not, Kressley's 'jokes' in between each musical act were like nails on a blackboard. No fewer than four times did he make Republicans (or those who would dare to support them) the object of his ridicule. At one point, he was speaking of the diversity within the gay community, and mentioned various subgroups...and the punch line was that he mentioned the existance of "the Gay Republican." Yeah..singular....and he said it twice for emphasis. As he rolled along with his humor, he made it very clear that there was no room for Republicans in the Tour. Not once did he refer to Hillary, or Obama, or ridicule Democrats (who, he forgets, gave us "Dont Ask Dont Tell). He found a way to cheer California's court decision permitting gay marriage, (but conveniently forgot to mention it was a Republican court). At the end of the evening, as we were leaving the theater, Rosie O'Donnell belted out her final thought, as she shouted "Hey, DONT vote for John McCain!," a completely intrusive and unnecessary bit of partisanship.

The HRC just doesnt get it. Gay rights need to be won in millions of places: in town halls, in state legislatures, in county administrations...and there are lots of Republicans out there. You do not win your arguement by vilifying those you need to win over. The constant anti-Republican intimidation, along with a strange insistence on using the "F-word" for no apparent reason, and the needless jokes at the expense of straights (Kressey's reference to straight people as 'breeders' did *not* elicit the laughs he expected), do not help the cause, they hurt it, as they continue to isolate gays into a small 'corner' of the political spectrum.

Get this, HRC: There are Gay Republicans, Gay Independents, Gay Conservatives, and Gay Libertarians. We do not, and will not, march to your required drum. We do not all embrace every liberal cause under the ozone. And we *do* need to work with politicians and citizens of all persuasions if we are to win equal rights.

GREAT Concert. Cyndi, you're awesome!

POOR politics. Kressey, find someone else to represent. PLEEZE.