May 1, 2023

It’s the first of May. I suppose I have my choice of putting some flowers in a basket and leaving them on a neighbor’s doorstep, donning a red arm band and marching down Arlington Avenue, or putting on the Original Broadway Cast album of Camelot and singing along with Julie Andrews. But, alas, I am likely to do none of these things. I had a doctor’s appointment this morning so I took the whole day as sick leave and spent this afternoon catching up on work paperwork and taking a nap. I don’t get a lot of those these days and they can be salubrious in the right circumstances.

I haven’t written for a few days. Some of that was due to various and sundry things going on such as rehearsals and some of that was due to not having a whole lot to say. And some of it was due to the calendar. Last Friday marked the fifth anniversary of Tommy’s death. Five years feels in some ways like an eternity and in other ways like yesterday. The pandemic has played a lot with my perceptions of time in recent years. A couple of years of standstill in my usual patterns and it now feels in some ways like those years have ceased to exist and things from five years ago should only be a year or two in the past. And then there’s the scary thought that we are nearly a quarter of the way through this new century. And it’s the century that will encompass my death as I’m highly unlikely to make it to age 138. I really should go out to Parrish and visit his grave. But I don’t feel like going alone. If anyone wants to take a day trip to the wilds of Walker county sometime, let me know.

The big activity of the last few days was my fetching my drag persona of MissClairol Channing out of mothballs in order to let her MC my church’s drag fund raiser. Alabama, like most of the other Southern states is in the process of passing anti-drag laws under the ridiculous premise of it’s damaging to children or some such. It’s really about trying to put the LGBTQ community firmly back in their place and it’s not going to stop with transgender bashing or outlawing drag shows. More is coming and from what I can tell the big national advocacy groups have more or less written off the red states and are doing very little to prevent this. Given that national surveys have shown that there are more LGBTQ people living in the Deep South than in any other region, this strikes me as being a rather stupid strategy but I noticed some decades ago that the national LGBTQ organizations, after their major wins, more or less became more interested in building K street lobbying offices and the DC cocktail circuit than in actually doing grassroots work where people are suffering.

The Alabama Law, which hasn’t been signed yet but certainly will be when it hits the governor’s desk will ban the performance of drag in public places where minors may be present. The bill mentions schools and libraries but does not mention churches so I suppose the UU Church of Birmingham can continue to put on a family friendly drag show going forward as an annual event and flout the law as it won’t be applicable. Personally, I think a good police raid on a local conservative academy’s elementary school production of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ when the male wolf appears dressed as grandma would be just the ticket to show everyone how ridiculous and wrong headed the whole thing is. These laws are written so vaguely and are so punitive that they’re really designed to make entertainment producers stop and think twice about doing certain kinds of material just in case it might fall afoul of the law. One of our local theaters is doing Peter Pan this summer. I wonder if that will be allowed as the title role is traditionally cross gender cast as it comes out of the British pantomime tradition.

MissClairol was a success, but let me tell you, two and a half hours in those shoes and doing her voice was enough to leave me in need of a quiet weekend with a dish tub full of epsom salts for a foot bath. There was nothing risque in my material or in any of the other performers, mainly lip synching to female diva ballads, and I can assure you that none of the children in attendance came to any harm and had a great time dancing along. As a bit, I asked one four year old if he had had his psychosexual development permanently damaged by standing and talking to a man in a dress. He didn’t understand the question. Kids understand dress up. They love doing it. They aren’t in the least bit confused by men dressing up in traditional women’s costume or vice versa. It’s just an extension of ‘Let’s pretend’ and, after all, isn’t that what all theatrical performance art boils down to?

I’m back into editing mode for Volume III of the Accidental Plague Diaries and hope to get the majority of it done by mid-month. Then I can start thinking about what comes next. But first perhaps, a few weeks of down time. I haven’t had a lot of that in recent years and maybe it’s time.

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