Saturday, June 27, 2015

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows

Pat Dwyer, left, and Stephen Mosher after exchanging vows in front of the Supreme Court. Credit Andrew Councill for The New York Times
"Fortune favors the BOLD who ACT with DECISIVENESS and CLARITY."
~Dan Kennedy

Marriage Equality: LGBT Pride 2015: Leave It to Beaverhausen by Charles Truenski
Happy PRIDE!
I hope all that sees this are doing well and celebrating YOU and US! This has been an amazing month with so much happening to remind us daily how precious we ALL are and how we are all interconnected regardless of race and or sexual orientation or gender. In the last week alone, Confederate flags are coming down across the south, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare subsidies, and marriage equality was enshrined as a constitutional right.
The Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare won't expand Medicaid to the poor in states where Republican governors and legislators have blocked it.
Simply put: This was an incredible week, but our work is far from over.
The highlight of these last few weeks for me was the Supreme Court ruling of yesterday.  Can you believe the ruling yesterday? In OUR lifetime! But our work isn't done.
 I very rarely talk about my personal life in my blogs beyond the events I attend and my personal views on people and certain events. I have written in the past about my beginnings. 
I grew up in South Carolina. I left home when I was eighteen right out of high school. My favorite movie growing up was The Wizard of Oz. I didn't realize until many years later that it was even a cult film.
A cult film, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following.  
Being a baby boomer and growing up in the sixties and seventies, I could only see it once a year. 
These, of course, were the days before DVDs, videos,DVRs, and/or any other devices to save copies. Everyone who knew me from my family, to my extended family, and beyond KNEW that this was my movie! 
Dorothy aka Judy Garland as I saw her on our black and white TV
I religiously looked through the TV Guide to see when it was going to air and when I found out, that day became a red letter day and was as important to me as my birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, or any other special holiday.

My world centered around that movie.
I don't know why The Wizard of Oz has become such an integral part of gay culture

I certainly did not know growing up that I was gay. 
As a matter of fact, I was probably the most asexual person to ever come out of the state of South Carolina. I was/am a fan of Judy Garland, but did not then, nor do I now, attribute that to being gay. I still don't understand why those connotations are there. 

Judy Garland is widely considered a gay icon. According to Wikipedia, the reasons frequently given for her standing as an icon among gay men are admiration of her ability as a performer, the way her personal struggles seemed to
mirror those of gay men in America during the height of her fame, and her value as a camp figure.
The tragic aspects of gay identification with Garland were being discussed in the mainstream as early as 1967. Time magazine, in reviewing Garland's 1967 Palace Theatre engagement, disparagingly noted that a "disproportionate part of her nightly claque seems to be homosexual.

Time then attempted to explain Garland's appeal to the homosexual, consulting psychiatrists who opined that "the attraction [to Garland] might be made considerably stronger by the fact that she has survived so many problems; homosexuals identify with that kind of hysteria" and that "Judy was beaten up by life, embattled, and ultimately had to become more masculine. 
Goldman at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo
Writer William Goldman, in a piece for Esquire magazine about the same Palace engagement, again disparages the gay men in attendance, dismissing them as "fags" who "flit by" chattering inanely.
He goes on to say that if [homosexuals] have an enemy, it is age.He goes on to say that homosexuals tend to identify with suffering.
To me, she was just Dorothy. As a matter of fact, Dorothy was just Dorothy until June 22nd, 1969. I didn't even know that I was considered a "friend of Dorothy: until much later! That was the day she transitioned. 
To me, she never died. I've written about this before, but I will revisit that day. 
It was a Sunday night and my Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Christine Lewis and their six daughters were coming over for dinner that night and my parents and Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Christine would play canasta after dinner. This was such a part of my childhood, when those cards came out, all of us kids were excited because it meant hours of unsupervised play!  

I also have several memories of us watching The Wizard of Oz together. The memory that stands out the most is when they received their first color television set and Aunt Christine tried to adjust the color settings at the beginning because she KNEW this film was in color! 
I was so exasperated! Especially when the colors came on and they were distorted. 
Well back to June 22nd, 1969...the Lewis clan arrived at our home on Highway 544 in Conway, South Carolina for supper, canasta, and childhood frolic. I was eight years old. As soon as Patsy, the third in line of the girls, also my age, jumped out of the car, the first thing she blurts out is that Dorothy has died! I couldn't make heads or tails out of the fact that she was telling me that Judy Garland had died. Our three networks were not giving enough information for my satisfaction but I was obsessed on finding out how Judy Garland tied in with Dorothy Gale.
The next day, my dad dropped me off at Hazel Elvington's. She was baby sitting us that summer. Her son, Andy, was the real live Wicked Witch. 
He bullied and tortured me mercilessly! When I complained to my dad, I was simply told to fight back.
Well, the next morning, when we were dropped off, I asked Miss Hazel, as we called her, if she had the newspapers from the day before. 
She asked why and when I told her that I wanted to really find out if Dorothy had died, she helped me go through the papers. 
When we found the papers, I remember feeling numb. What did this mean? Would I never see The Wizard of Oz again? Would they stop showing it out of respect for her? I obsessed over this that day. I went home that night and broke down in our kitchen hysterically crying! Little did I know that I was not alone! That pain was real and was felt in New York on such a level that I will discuss in my next blog.
My mom yelled at me that I was crazy and that I didn't even know this woman!
Well, I was going to find out who she was. The earliest TV images I remember are several of the "concert" shows from her TV series started airing on late night television. I was two when the series ran and therefore missed those shows during their initial run. I also remember seeing Jim Bailey performing as Judy on the Ed Sullivan and Marilyn Michaels on the Kopykats. I also remember seeing the Sixty Minutes segment on Judy.
Then the books started pouring out. To be continued...
Thank you to all who paved the way for me and for the gifts they have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,



Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!                
Garland with Tony Bennett in episode 5. Garland would shortly be instructed to stop touching her guests.

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Barbra Streisand Appears on Judy Garland's Variety Show (October 6, 1963)
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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper,
Julie Budd I'm Always Chasing Rainbows


  1. Oh, Richard, this was wonderfully expressed.

  2. Always interesting your blog.

  3. A few years ago, I went through about a year of not sleeping more than an hour or two a night, and some nights, I couldn't fall asleep at all. Then, I discovered that I could watch The Wizard of Oz and could often drift off to sleep (but not always). One night I couldn't get to sleep at all, and watched The Wizard of Oz five times in a row without stopping. Is that a record???