Monday, May 22, 2023

Fuss And Feathers

Via The Defector and HT to Balloon Juice, Sen. Marco Rubio butts into someone else’s business because… well, he has issues, methinks.

The Los Angeles Dodgers this week publicly disinvited the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from participating in the team’s 2023 Pride Night, to be held at Dodger Stadium on June 16. The team originally planned to honor the activist group with something called the Community Hero Award, but after being confronted with what the team describes as “some controversy,” the Dodgers took the unusual step of announcing on Twitter that they’d removed the Sisters from “this year’s group of honorees.”

Presumably the Dodgers had a pretty good idea who the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were before this supposed controversy; after all, they had decided to give them a community service award. The Sisters have a history of charity and activism dating back to 1979, and the Los Angeles mission was launched in 1995. Members dress in flamboyant drag and give themselves funny, bawdy names—Sister GladAss, Sister Dana Van Iquity, Sister Betty Does—but their mission and works are straightforwardly good and necessary. The Sisters were essential activists and grassroots fundraisers of the AIDS epidemic era; in 1982 they made and distributed what was probably the first safe-sex pamphlet created by and for gay men, and member Bobbi Campbell (Sister Florence Nightmare) appeared on the seminal 1983 Newsweek cover that brought the epidemic to wider public recognition. They’ve raised millions of dollars in donations over the years for humanitarian causes, charities, and emergency grants, and helped bring attention to art projects, anti-war protests, suicide prevention efforts, homeless initiatives, and on and on.

On May 15, Senator Marco Rubio (R-State That Does Not Contain Los Angeles) publicized a letter he says he sent to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, tattling on the Sisters for what he describes as “diabolical parodies” of Christian faith, and asking the commissioner whether he believes the Dodgers are being “inclusive and welcoming to everyone” when they honor an organization that “intentionally mocks and degrades Christians.” Rubio’s letter seemingly helped rouse fellow bigots to action, including Bill Donohue, the longtime head of the Catholic League, a group dedicated to waging right-wing culture war under the guise of fighting anti-Catholic discrimination. (“Group” is used loosely; the usual joke is that the Catholic League consists mainly of Bill Donohue’s fax machine, which is directly connected to the front page of the New York Post.)

Donohue has been chasing around the Sisters for decades, threatening that his organization will boycott this or that venue or event or entire city for hosting or honoring them. He posted about the Dodgers Pride Night award on his Catholic League website the day after Rubio posted his letter, describing it as the Dodgers rewarding “anti-Catholic hate speech,” and accusing the Dodgers of breaking bread “with the most despicable elements in American society today.” Donohue also included Manfred’s email address at the bottom of his post, clearly intending to weaponize an audience of cranks who would never in a million years actually go to Pride Night at Dodger Stadium, but who rarely pass up an opportunity to send an angry email about how some institution or company has lost their business by going woke.

The intimidation campaign may have been straight out of the Reagan era, but it seems to have worked. Responding to the entirely manufactured offense of a scaly right-wing politician from the “Don’t Say Gay” state—a state located approximately 2,300 miles away—and a boomer nutbar pursuing a decades-old astroturfing campaign, the Dodgers disinvited a good and essential charity organization from participating in an event meant to celebrate the very communities they’ve worked to serve. In attempting to stave off phony controversy, the Dodgers now invite coverage (like this) of their cowardice. As we all know, you cannot have a successful Pride Night until your plans have received the approval of Marco Rubio and the Catholic League.

The Dodgers’ cowardice notwithstanding — shame is being poured on them from all quarters — my question is why the hell is Marco Rubio so incensed about an event that’s happening over 2,000 miles from his home state, and why is he so touchy about satire and mockery?

I would not dare attempt to shrink-rap him from this distance, but it doesn’t take a degree in psychology or a medical specialty in psychiatry to speculate that his extreme over-reaction to a bunch of guys dressing up in drag and with clever stage names tells us a lot more than we wanna know about his fears/impulses.  And if he’s not doing it because he harbors some deep need to feel pretty now and again, he needs to find another shtick: Ron DeSantis is the one waging war against men in mascara.  The mind, she is boggled.

This also brings up a fundamental misconception about drag that is being exploited by the blue-nosed panty-sniffers.  They claim that drag shows are somehow exposing children to sexual behavior that is inappropriate for their tender little eyes and ears.  In reality, and throughout history, drag is just the opposite.  It mocks sexual allure, making fun of the teasing and titillation and making it grotesque in the truest sense of the word.  A drag act turns burlesque on its head, and the very idea that somehow someone could find it either provocative or alluring would also believe that Bugs Bunny in a dress is a threat.  They’re the ones who need to be shunned from society, not the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

To the rescue, the city of Anaheim — home of Disneyland — has invited the Sisters to their Pride Parade.  Take that, Little Marco.