Entries from July 2005 ↓

Clear Reception

Happiness can only be faked but for so long. Eventually maintaining the elusion becomes tiresome and real feelings and needs either have to come out or theyll eat us alive.

In writer/director John G. Youngs engaging second feature film The Reception, four people find themselves making compromises they can live with in the short-term, but which begin to strain normal levels of tolerance during one tension filled week at an upstate New York farm house.

The house belongs to Jeannette (Pamela Stewart), a single, divorced French woman, who along with her companion Martin (Wayne Lamont Sims), a Black gay painter, has escaped New York City and past negative experiences there in exchange for a bucolic life in the country. They both have enough money to live on, Martin has a converted barn for a workspace, and they have each other. Their relationship is one of genuine love and support in every way except physical intimacy.

They make it work by overlooking obvious signs of unhappiness. Jeannette has a weakness for red wine which she regularly consumes to numb hurt feelings from past failed relationships with straight men. Martin locks himself in his studio every day before tucking his drunk wife into bed at night, to avoid dealing with the absence of other Black or gay people in this town.

This daily routine gets broken up when Jeannettes estranged daughter Sierra (Margaret Burkwith) arrives with her new husband Andrew (Darien Sills-Evans), another Black man. She has not seen her mother in years nor told her of a wedding, but Jeannette is willing to put all of that aside to have her daughter back in her life again. To celebrate, she plans a big reception, causing what was intended to be a two day visit to stretch to a whole week.

If time apart heals all wounds, perhaps time together opens new ones. Four people alone in a big farm house in the middle of the winter forces interactions that reveal true feelings and intentions. Jeannette was a teenage mother when she had Sierra and her ex-husband was not only abusive but adulterous. Her current mistrust of men was undoubtedly shaped by that experience.

Sierra stands to inherit the farm house with her life seemingly together now. Grandmother wanted it kept in the family and Jeannette will feel secure passing it on to a daughter married to a man in law school.

But being cooped up in this house has the most profound effect on Andrew and Martin and sheds light on the loneliness all four characters share. While at first keeping his distance from the openly gay Martin, Andrew forges a bond that opens a door to long untapped feelings and emotions which come to a head in one vulnerable, drunken moment. Martins quest to discover the cause of Andrews show of affection serves as the twist that unravels the self-deceptions all of them have created. From then on it is a precarious balancing act as they teeter between what they really want and what they are willing to live with.

Young has written a funny and smart script that while briskly paced at 78 minutes, still allows us to really know these characters. Issues of race, class, sex and sexual orientation are the obvious topics, but so is the true meaning of family and how people deliberately seek out those who make their lives complete. No heavy-handed sermonizing or ponderous plot devices, these are real people viewers will recognize, who have made choices of convenience. Now faced with new choices they have opportunities to get what they really want.

Seeing love expressed on screen between two Black men is rare and images of physical lovemaking rarer still but this film refreshingly captures both with realism and compassion. While Hollywood regularly offers up special-effects-heavy, poorly written crap shot on an 8 figure budget, The Reception–an independent film shot in 8 days for $5,000–eclipses all of their recent attempts.

The Reception is in limited release across the country and at Quad Cinema in New York City.

A Previous Stop

Went to the barber during lunch today. Ran into an ex. The one who first told me about the place. I was cordial, as I am with (almost) all of my exes. I met him years ago before I moved to New York, but he was not the reason why I moved. We met in February, I moved in June, we were history by October. He dumped me, to go back to someone he was previously seeing. Someone fourteen years his junior. Dont know if theyre still together. Dont really care. That was 98, this is 05. He still has a jet set life and was just back from Egypt, Greece and Turkey. He also has several pounds around his mid-section and a noticeably fuller face. When we parted, he said, Ill call you. He wont. Neither will I.

The journey continues.

Questions Raised About Iranian Hangings

The two Iranian the teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, whose executions were spread all across the Internet leading to public outrage on several continents, may not have been killed for being gay as originally reported.

A published article in the New York Blade and its sister publications claim that watchdog organizations have uncovered new information about the circumstances of their hangings.

Research conducted by the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has found, so far, that the teenagers were convicted of and executed for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old male, a crime that occurred when the two teens may have been minors.

Asgari’s lawyer, Rohollah Razaz Zadeh, told the Associated Press that Iranian courts are supposed to commute death sentences handed to children to five years in jail.

“The judiciary has trampled its own laws,” Razaz Zadeh told AP.
But the lawyer said Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict and allowed the execution despite his objections.

It appears that reports claiming the boys were executed for being gay originated with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group that is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Accounts of the executions on gay news Web sites referenced reports by the group and its English language news site, www.iranfocus.com.

Gay activists in the U.S. and Great Britain protested to Iranian officials in the U.K. and Canada (the United States broke off relations with Iran and that country has no permanent mission in this country), and some still wonder if Iranian legal officials have trumped up these and other allegations against the two young men to quash public outrage.

Update: Terrance reports on a rebuttal from the British gay activist group Outrage!, calling into question the information in the aforementioned news article. Clearly we may never know the truth about this incident. Hanging still seems to be a most severe punishment for any of the allegations raised thus far.

Balls

The New York Knicks will make it official today, naming former Detroit Pistons head coach Larry Brown to their top coaching position at a scheduled noon press conference. The 64-year-old Brooklyn native who grew up rooting for this team, will become the franchises 22nd coach and fourth in less than a year. Larry Brown.jpeg

In 22 seasons as a professional coach, Brown has compiled a 987-741 record, leading the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets. Brown also coached Kansas to an NCAA title in 1988, had stints with UCLA and the Carolina Cougars of the ABA, and led the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that finished a disappointing third. The title he won with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 was the only NBA championship of his career.

Pardon me if Im a bit skeptical. I think the Knicks will need more than a new coach to turn this ship around. Theyll need to add some size, learn to play defense and drop some dead weight. Like too many previous instances, this seems like just another ploy to get fans in the stands. Ill believe they are improved when I see it.

Its my favorite time of the year againFOOTBALL SEASON! Camps open up this week, and my Giants will begin their 10th year up in my old stomping grounds in Albany. I was there for the first several years, and since the waiting list for game tickets is years long, training camp is about the closest I ever got to them personally.

They finished 6-10 under first year coach Tom Coughlin, who may have to change his style if he wants to get more productivity out of them. His tough as nails approach last year pissed the veterans off and they never played up to their capability. Ready or not, Eli Manning gets the start at QB and hell have former Pittsburgh Steeler Plaxico Burress to throw to, among others. Unlike the last 5-6 years, the offense must start the season the same time as the defense if they are going to go anywhere.

The second half of the baseball season should bring New York fans lots of excitement. The Mets and Yankees are both still in the hunt for playoff positions if not in fact division titles. The NL East is about the most competitive division in baseball and despite the current standings, anyone, including the Mets, can take this thing with a good winning streak. The AL East looks to be a two team race, between Boston and New York, and will come down to pitching. Either way, August and September should be barn burners.

Finally, what more can you say about Lance Armstrong. Seven Tour de France victories is not only a record that may never be broken in cycling, but unprecedented in any sport. In a sport not followed by most Americans, he has dominated what is a truly grueling event, and he beat cancer too! Sadly, what is quite an exciting sport may never again get this much attention in this coutry.

Big City Politics

The Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC), a four-year-old New York City-based non-partisan political organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited (LGBTTS) people of color, held an endorsement meeting July 26, to pick candidates for a number of city offices in this years election.

“Our endorsements reflect the diversity of our city and the deliberative process that highlights some of the tough choices we had to make,” said OutPOCPAC Co-President Gerard Cabrera. “The races in which we made no endorsement signify that the club will neither rubber stamp incumbents nor make endorsements without meaningful dialogue with candidates.

Newcomers to the political field received a respectful hearing and their willingness to come and talk with us demonstrated their own understanding of the important role the LGBT people of color community has to play in these upcoming elections, Cabrera continued. The club was likewise willing to not just look at a candidate’s achievements but also their aspirations and vision for the city.”

Co-President Doug Robinson added: “We were particulary impressed by many of the candidates in the Manhattan Borough President’s race, some of whom have proven themselves as effective leaders and valuable allies to our community in their own right. The club felt that Margarita Lopez best represents the values and goals of our community. We look forward to working with her to ensure her victory in the fall.”

At an earlier endorsement meeting, OutPOCPAC backed Democrat Fernando Ferrer for Mayor.

The full list of endorsed candidates:

Mayor: FERNANDO FERRER
Comptroller: WILLIAM THOMPSON JR.*
Public Advocate: NORMAN SIEGEL
Manhattan Borough President: MARGARITA LOPEZ
Manhattan District Attorney (New York County): LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER
Brooklyn District Attorney (Kings County): MARK PETERS

City Council

District 1 (Lower Manhattan): ALAN GERSON*
District 2 (Lower East Side, Gramercy, Murray Hill): ROSIE MENDEZ
District 7 (West Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood): ROBERT JACKSON*
District 8 (East Harlem, Mott Haven, Upper West Side): MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO
District 9 (Harlem, Morningside Heights, Manhattan Valley): No Endorsement
District 20 (Flushing North): JOHN C. LIU*
District 21 (Corona, East Elmhurst): HIRAM MONSERRATE*
District 25 (Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst): BRYAN PU-FOLKES
District 34 (Bushwich, Ridgewood): No Endorsement
District 35 (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights): LETITIA JAMES*
District 42 (Brownsville, East New York): No Endorsement
District 49 (North Shore Staten Island): MICHAEL E. McMAHON*

*denotes incumbents

OutPOCPAC is the nations first political club for LGBTTS people of color. For more information, check out their website, email outpocpac@yahoo.com, or call 917-804-9579.