Friday, July 31, 2015

Those Were The Days (2)

Lately I've been thinking about a song that was popular in 1968, Those Were The Days My Friend by Mary Hopkin. 

It was played over and over on the juke box in the student center at Loyola in Rome, Italy where I spent a lot of time writing letters and poetry, drinking cappuccino and eating cornetti

In this slide show are several photos from my memoir plus many more previously unpublished photos. Some, about which I should probably be embarrassed. 

But isn't that the whole point of nostalgia? To celebrate, not so much the past, but the fact that we were there, where ever that was. That we proudly occupied a space in time and in history.





I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

GAY LIB June 28, 1970

NYC's first Gay Liberation Day [Pride] Parade Celebration. Thanks to all those LGBT folks for marching ahead of us, so young and cute!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Gay Popcorn Movie - ANY DAY NOW

- A Netflix Movie for SCOTUS

Just finished watching Any Day Now, a Netflix movie that exemplifies the importance of Friday's SCOTUS ruling making marriage equality the law of the land...in case there are a few Justices and a slew of Republicans who still don't understand that LOVE MAKES A FAMILY, I would suggest they view Any Day Now.





Highly recommended. The stars are not typical drop dead gorgeous men, rather very ordinary guys in 1979 who become lovers and do their best against all odds to care for child with Down's syndrome who was all but abandoned by a drug-addict mother.

Advice: Popcorn during 1st half of movie, Kleenex during 2nd half.


In the 1970s, a gay couple fights a biased legal system to keep custody of the abandoned mentally handicapped teenager that comes to live under their roof.

Director:

 

Friday, June 26, 2015

CELEBRATE OUR RIGHT TO BE MARRIED IN ALL 50 STATES! "It is so ordered."

This is a Post Script at the beginning of the Post: You know, I am more moved by the support of our allies and friends, average folks here and there, businesses and the media, than I am by SCOTUS. 

Excerpt from the ruling:
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed."
Graphic from the internet/The Advocate
We are now legal in all 50 states!

A great big "Thank You" to all those who have been a voice for this victory - all who have fought for LGBT rights for decades, all who have marched, voted, written, filed lawsuits, told their stories, lived courageously!

The SCOTUS decision, I felt, was self-evident. Our STATES can never be fully UNITED if we allow individual states to make their own rules about such a matter as crucial as the legality of a contract between two parties - in this case, the marriage contract.

That is not a "romantic" notion at all, and certainly not a "religious" notion; but when Leon and I traveled by car to New Mexico this past winter, we had legitimate concerns about how we might be treated in some states should we have an accident or illness. The possibility, no, probability, that our relationship of 27 years, which we recently "made legal" last October, might have been disregarded was frightening and disconcerting. But now we can travel within the boarders of OUR OWN COUNTRY and feel a bit more secure. I do say a bit more secure.

But hold on, and stay vigilant.

This victory is tempered by the fact that none of the four most conservative justices could be persuaded by logic and legal arguments. I find that frightening.

First, because the judgment is so divided and second, because I was not at all impressed with the majority's reasoning. I think the majority was searching for something that it couldn't quite articulate. It was full of niceties, but as legal reasoning, I think it fell short.

The idea of the Constitution “was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U. S. 624, 638 (1943). This is why “fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

I don't think they effectively addressed the Constitutional issues. And that is what the dissent focused on.

The dissenting opinions on the other hand seemed to be saying that the majority "invented" an argument that was not substantiated. And those dissenting opinions will certainly be used in whatever way possible against us, against LGBT persons, against our rights and against our relationships. There will be a backlash, and I fear that it could be vehement and ugly.

We need all of our allies to stand with us now, to celebrate and to voice their support - and to refute those who have vowed to fight against the SCOTUS ruling and against us.

But for today...CELEBRATE WELL!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Despite Endless Human Tragedies There Is Still Beauty In The World

I'm not much for overpriced guest houses, pretentious restaurants, gay guys with attitude or outfits that cost more than I make on Social Security in a week, or t-shirts or tourist souvenirs.

Here is respite from the horrors that plague the world of humanity.

This is my Provincetown. Natural beauty. Solitude. Peace. Quiet.

Sunset at Race Point last evening.


Off on the Snail Trail this morning. The dunes are spectacular. The sand is not hot at this time of year, so you can hike out barefooted. No cacti to worry about.
This Desert Has No Prickleys 


Helpful Trail Marker

I'm whooped!



Finally at the beach
Wild Orchids - The iPhone doesn't do macro I guess.




A long hike back to the car

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Gay Pride?

I met a delightful gentleman this afternoon while strolling the beach in Provincetown. I'll call him Luke.

We got to talking. The usual stuff: the tide, our dogs, what has changed since last season, our dogs, the piping plovers nesting on the beach, our dogs, stuff like that.

Luke told me that he bought a condo in town and moved here from New York.

"Culture shock," I said. "Especially in winter I should think."

"Nothing here in the winter. You're just left with the natives," he said.

"The townies," I said.

"Yes, and they're not very friendly, to any outsiders," he said.

"Especially since you haven't been here long. Two years. You're the new kid on the block. Even among the wash-a-shores," I said.

"I'm definitely a newbie," Luke said.

Did I mention that Luke is in his seventies? Somewhere in between talking about our dogs and the plovers and the early bird specials, he mentioned that he was seventy-something.

And that he remembers Stonewall and lots of the gay lib stuff that took place in New York back in the 60s and 70s and more recently. And being involved in gay rights, politics, marching bands, Gay Pride parades, Act-Up and all.

"I moved here hoping to be in a lively, artsy community. It's not," Luke said. "It's not as friendly as I'd hoped it would be."

Luke told me that his neighbor, a young gay man in an adjoining condo has been difficult to get along with. He didn't go into details. No specifics. Except that it had to do with the fact that he is older and his neighbor has no use for old people, gay or otherwise.

Then Luke told me something that nearly made me cry. Not the fact that his partner of many years passed away. No, not that. That is just ordinary sorrow.

Luke said that his neighbor's boyfriend, who he'd never met until this week had come to the condo for a few days. They crossed paths at some point during which the boyfriend, pointing to Luke, asked his  young friend, "Is this the guy you've been telling me about?"

The young man replied that it was. The boyfriend turned to Luke, stuck out his tongue and made a noise like "Yugk!"

Luke said he was so stunned he couldn't think of a response or a come-back. And for a New Yorker, that is pretty unusual.

I can't imagine a person treating another person like that. I can't imagine one gay person treating another gay person like that. I can't imagine a young gay person having so little respect for an older gay person, without whom he might not enjoy the freedom and privileges he takes for granted.

I can't imagine how Luke felt. But I know I felt for him. Not so much angry or humiliated, but sad. It nearly made me cry.

Gay. Pride. Not so much.

[So that is the caption for the tattered rainbow flag in a previous post a bit down the page.]
Gay. Pride. Not so much.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happy Gay Pride Month!

 I'm celebrating (that might be too strong a word, although I did have a beer out on the deck last evening with Leon and two of our friends) my personal thirty years of Gay Pride.

Thirty years since finally breaking out.

Thirty years ago I would have NEVER even entertained the possibility that I would be MARRIED to a man. 

Thirty years ago I was an adolescent in an exciting new world, full of possibilities and infatuations and thrills and disappointments and joys and sorrows. A time that I cherish still. (The details, I've written about in my memoir which you can refer to in the sidebar.)

Last night I had a dream about an old gay man in his eighties...not much else to say about that.

Circa 1985
Circa 1989
Caption Needed

Friday, June 5, 2015

Metacomet Trail Prickly Pear:Sub-urban Legends

I've recently become aware that I was the cause of a widespread botanical myth in these parts.

(All the photos in this post were taken by me a few weeks ago when I went to check out how my old Prickly Pears were doing.)



A blogger named Steve writes Connecticut Museum Quest a website/blog about things of interest and particularly hiking trails in Connecticut. I came across a post of his where he describes a hike on the Metacomet Trail and posts a few photos of prickly pear cactus:

That, my friends, is wild Connecticut Prickly Pear cactus. Something that in my ignorance, I would never have believed unless I saw it with my own eyes. (In fact, I’ve told a few people most of whom simply refuse to believe what is in the three pictures above. Since it’s so easy to access, they can go check it out themselves.) Perhaps this offers more of an authority on the matter.) It’s okay to be surprised, Hoang and I certainly were.

I felt compelled to comment:

Many years ago, I was given some Eastern Prickly Pear Cacti by a friend who grew them in his garden. They were ostensibly gathered from Martha’s Vineyard where they grow as native plants. In my garden they flourished like weeds. I was fascinated by dessert plants at the time and by the terrain of the southwest US. 
I always admired the rocky out-croppings and dessert-like appearance of the ledges off of then Route 72 (now 372). 
Because my Prickly Pear were so prolific and could take root just about anywhere with little attention at all, and because I hate to throw away plants, I decided after thinning my plants to manageable mounds, to try an experiment: I scattered some of the pieces along the ridge mentioned (and in a few other places as well). This was circa1980s. 
I was delighted to see that the plants had thrived every time I checked on them for years later.
But now I am somewhat dismayed at having set into motion what seems like a huge botanical myth. I would say hoax, but certainly this was unintended.
These particular plants are not “native” to the area, certainly not native to the ledge along Route 372. But attempts by others who have encountered them to explain their presence has spawned fantastic theories of the indigenous nature of the prickly pear in Central Connecticut. (I believe are indigenous to shoreline areas in the Northeast, but not this far inland. For example, I have seen them growing wild along sections of land adjacent to the New Jersey shore – at Sandy Hook, NJ)
So, in an attempt to set the record straight, the Prickly Pear Cacti along the Metacomet Trail off of Rout 372 in Plainville, and in a few other spots as well, originally came from my garden sometime in the 1980s.
For anyone skeptical of this explanation, I still have these plants in my garden and if the DNA ancestry could be traced, I will guarantee that the specimens in question are related to those in my garden.
It is a bit disconcerting to know that what I will call an “innocent experiment in public gardening” could have had such unintended consequences. I am sorry for creating such confusion, but hope that you have enjoyed discovering my secret garden.
FDeF, Bristol, CT
To which Steve replied:


You, sir, have written my favorite comment on my site in a long, long time. (About the prickly pear in Plainville.)  I love being the place where these stories are shared, so thank you very much.  

As you probably gleaned, I was still skeptical about the “native-ness” of that patch even after finding stuff online about how it was possible.  As you may or may not know, your rogue planting is in the official CT Walk Book (At least I think it is) and I can tell you with certainly it is referenced in a few other CT hiking resources. 

As a rational thinker, I much prefer the truth – and your story is infinitely better than perpetuating the myth of their nativity.  

Also, I checked out your blog – great that you guys are ‘getting out there’ and promoting our woods and trails as well.  And next time I’m out and cross paths with a huge group of men, I’m just going to start yelling, “Frank! Frank!” to meet you and thank you in person.(He is referring to the post with Connecticut Pride Hikers a few weeks back)

Thanks for reading, 

Steve

P.S. For many years I hosted a "Cactus Blossom Party" when I lived in New Britain. The blossoms always coincided (more or less) with Gay Pride celebrations at the end of June. Back then I had a very nice cactus garden that enjoyed a lot of sun and heat. Now, in Bristol, not so much. Here the flowers usually bloom in early July - about 2 weeks later than in New Britain.

The Beautiful Cake was made by
a Neighbor - a gay guy, of course


Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Little Something From The Garden or If It Ain't One Thing It's Another

I've done garden posts before but never with less enthusiasm. I don't know if it is just the emotional drain that has carried over from this past brutal, ugly winter or if I am just a tired gardener.

The flowers are sparser this season than usual and my photos not as sharp or studied.

I see the weeds growing and part of me doesn't care anymore. I won't use Round-up, a despicable poison that should be banned, so unless I get out there on my knees, the weeds will take over.



After the snow melt I noticed some standing water over our leach field and I knew what that meant. The septic guy checked it out, then brought the other guy, the one that installs septic systems. Looks like we will need either a new system or we my be able to rap into the sewer system of the adjacent town which part of our property abuts.

I don't know at this point how much damage will be done to the lawn or gardens, so I am just doing as little upkeep as necessary.
So I haven't roto-tilled or planted any veggies
New leach field or city sewer - Either way we're looking at $30,000 to $40,000 going down the drain, so to speak.

Which means tapping the home equity.

I wonder if we had known, would we have installed a new railing? Our friends said we overpaid for that, and that didn't make me too happy. Whether we did or not, it was not good to hear. But we have a railing, should we decide to sell, that would be required.
The new railing - so now our guests will not complain.
The Hostas waiting for the deer to munch on
The Mountain Laurel are just beginning to bloom

This is where they want to put the new leach field -it
is up the hill, above the septic tank
It means clearing trees and putting in a pump system
Can we say ca-ching?
I've gotten rid of some of my potted cacti -
too much hauling in and out every winter and spring


The trips to the garden shop have been fewer as well
Why is gardening becoming a domain
of the privileged and well-to-do?
It is often an idyllic setting - rustic and rough around
the edges - certainly not perfect

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ireland Votes YES on Marriage Equality

Congratulations Ireland!

Marriage equality approved by 62% of those voting.  

SCOTUS take note! This is revolutionary! This is the future.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sister Mary Ann "Dee" DeFrancesco, RSM

Greenhouse
Watercolor by MaryAnn "Dee" DeFrancesco
The Sisters of Mercy held a funeral Mass this evening for my sister, Mary Ann DeFrancesco, RSM (Religious Sisters of Mercy). She was 75 and died unexpectedly, likely from a sudden onset recurrence of a rare blood disease called TTP. Her obituary can be seen here, if you are interested. 

MaryAnn had some intuition that she might not survive another bout of the disease and had set forth her wishes including the readings and music selections for the Mass this evening. The readings and hymns were well chosen and the ceremony was both simple and beautiful. It reflected her personality, her spiritual values and her simple faith.

In addition to my relatives, so many of my and Leon’s friends came to the service. Their presence there said more than words can convey. We are blessed with such good people in our lives. Thank you all.

There are a few things I want to say about my sis, Mary Ann. She was a modern nun. Hadn’t worn a habit in years. She was a lover of nature, of the seasons, of the sun and the ocean and I think much of her spirituality was nurtured by the beauty of the natural world. She was never preachy or judgmental, though she didn’t hesitate to express her opinions about a number of topics.

She, and many other sisters were deeply hurt and distressed by (what I call) the Papal Inquisition that was initiated under Benedict 16 to investigate and intimidate women in (American) Catholic religious orders who were acting on the directives of the Vatican Council 2 under John 23 and as a result were modernizing their ministries and way of life. I would say that the Sisters of Mercy of the Northeast are quite progressive.

In addition to investigating the nuns, a major crackdown on progressive Catholics was begun by Ratzinger under JohnPaul 2, continued by him as Benedict 16  and is continuing even now by many Bishops who haven’t gotten the memo that JP2 is dead and Benedict has resigned. 

It was for that reason that prior to Leon and I getting married last October, I told my sister that while she was certainly invited and welcome, I was afraid she might be excommunicated if she were to attend a gay wedding. She said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there.” Her presence at our wedding was so important to both of us and she seemed to enjoy it immensely. Even the sisters in her house sent Leon and I a lovely card and personal note of congratulations on the occasion. These nuns have chutzpah. 

But I was totally unprepared for what the priest said this evening during his homily in front of the entire congregation of sisters (there had to be 75 or more) and family and friends. When, at the end of his brief sermon and remarks he offered condolences to Sister Mary Ann’s family: “to her brother Frank and his husband Leon, her brother Michael and his wife Claire, nephew Joseph and niece Andrea.”

Leon, too, was surprised to hear himself being referred to as my “husband” by a Catholic priest speaking from the sanctuary of a Catholic chapel. Something I couldn't have imagined, given the times. Somehow my sis was responsible, I’m certain. Thank you, Mary Ann. 

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