When I was in high school, I earned weekend money by playing in a band which performed at various school dances, weddings and bar-mitzvas around town. At some point we got a gig in a private club somewhere on the Jersey shore which featured a group of very talented female impersonators performing a gay version of the Radio City Rockettes. The club was private because in those days, the 1950’s, you didn’t walk around advertising the fact that you were gay. And you certainly didn’t let it be known that a bunch of ‘female imps’ as they were known, were performing on a public stage.
I got friendly with the members of this troupe and I never imagined that I would ever see the Supreme Court of the United States proclaim that these talented artists could live and behave any way they chose to be. Which is why, believe it or not, I remain convinced that someday gun violence will also come to an end, because ending gun violence rests on a moral imperative – thou shall not kill – and morality will sooner or later always win.
In that regard, I take a special interest in the doings of an organization, Gays Against Guns (GAG,) whose mission can best be described in a statement from their website: “Gays Against Guns NY is an inclusive group of LGBTQ people and their allies committed to nonviolently breaking the gun industry’s chain of death–investors, manufacturers, the NRA and other lobby groups, and their puppets in Congress that block good gun laws.”
There are other GAG chapters around the country, but the New York group has provided some of the most original responses to the continued flood of gun violence, in particular some very engaging videos that spell out their message loud, hip and clear. Their latest production is a theatrical performance with original lyrics set to the song ‘My Funny Valentine,’ which is apropos as I am writing these words on February 14, which happens to be Valentine’s Day.
This brief musical theater is staged in the Union Square subway station in New York City, and features a character made up like Trump and another character playing the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. The lyrics, of course, reflect the group’s concerns about gun violence, along with the flinging around of a pile of money obviously representing the dough spent by the NRA on the Trump campaign. The musical performance jumps back and forth between the subway platform and above ground next to the famed arch in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park. It’s a funny, lively spoof on the relationship between the NRA and Trump but it has its serious side as well, particularly a scene above ground where players in the troupe display pictures of a gay couple, both of whom were shot to death during the massacre in The Pulse.
When you finish viewing this video, jump to another video which shows members of the GAG group staging an appearance in front of the NRA booth at last year’s New Jersey State Fair. Now you would think that at a state fair, particularly at a booth for the NRA, that the appearance of a gay group talking about gun violence might provoke some rather heated or even nasty comments from the passing crowd. But watch this video closely and you’ll see that with the exception of one older guy who appeared to be either confused or pissed off, most of the crowd were polite in their reaction to the GAG folks, and engaged them in brief discussions about gun violence in a proper and respectful way.
I think that this country has come a long way in its attitudes towards LGBTQ. Not that there won’t always be a few hardy souls coming out of the woodwork to lay claim to the idea that non-traditional lifestyles are the Devil’s own work. But think about how a culture has changed as regards LGBTQ and don’t dismiss the idea that the same culture change can’t happen when it comes to guns.