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Brandon's Big Gay Blog

Don't Flip the Bird in the White House

by Brandon Burt
Posted // 2012-06-26 -

Look, I grew up during the 1980s. I watched and wept as dear friends suffered and died while celebrity-President Ronald Reagan declined, year after year, to do so much as mention that such a thing existed as the AIDS epidemic.

It was this, among many of Reagan's political and social failures, that inspired the radical "Silence = Death" movement, leading to Act Up and a whole slew of really scary and unlistenable Diamanda Galas performance-art cassettes, but also led to a whole new level of organization among LGBT activists.

So, I have no great love for Reagan. His policies were bad for the country, and his silence was bad for my friends and my community -- other than the new level of activist organization it inspired. And also, every birthday for years during the '90s, my surviving gay friends kept giving me those damned Diamanda Galas cassettes as gifts, thinking for some reason that I might have fun listening to the dispiriting, frightening sounds of a harpy drenching herself in blood in a Manhattan cathedral shrieking about the horrible hopelessness of life.

Fortunately, times have changed. We've had many presidents -- each having varying degrees of success -- since Reagan. And today, President Barack Obama has not only come out in favor of marriage equality, but was also kind enough to invite some Philadelphia LGBT activists to a historic, first-ever gay-pride reception at the White House.

I not only envied those activists, but wished that I myself could have had the opportunity to meet the president and visit the White House. Unfortunately, I'm not from Philadelphia, but from the podunk City of Salt Lake.

Still, even though I'm a hopeless hick who grew up knowing how to change a carburetor and saddle a horse, I have over the years managed to spend a sufficient period of time among educated people to know that, when one is invited to the White House, one attempts to use the proper fork.

In addition, I have learned that, in polite company, one does not belch audibly (even if one is really filled with gas), scratch one's ass (even if one really, really has an itch) or spit upon the floor (even if one's mouth is really, really, really full of saliva). Also, one refrains from making obscene gestures (even if one is standing before the portrait of a really, really, really, really objectionable U.S. president). And this last goes double if there happens to be a photographer present.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that an invitation to the White House is a privilege enjoyed by very few. The White House LGBT Pride reception was a gala celebration, not a political protest. I'm rather embarrassed that this first-ever historical event was marred by some yahoos who thought it would be funny to take photos of themselves raising the middle-finger salute in the White House -- which, by definition, is the most fashionable, chi-chi venue in the entire country.

You Philly gay activists have the honor of representing the rest of us in the presence of the President and the lovely First Lady, both of whom I love with all my patriotic heart.

So, I'd appreciate it if you'd show a little class.

Please! I beg you!

Brandon's Big Gay Blog
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