Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Have a Change of Address

Come read my blog at:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heading to the Principal's

I'm always a little nervous when I think back on High School, because I was really unhappy then and sick a lot. I was certainly the kind of kid who would have been sent to a fake prom. I mean if I had gone to the prom, and if my classmates had ever dreamed of doing such a thing. Oh, and if in my Catholic school anyone would have ever dared bring a same-sex date.

Water under the bridge...

Today I wrote to Constance's principal about the whole mess;

My letter's below:

Dear Ms. McNeece,

I'm deeply saddened by the events that took place during your school's recent prom(s). It is always difficult to acknowledge what extreme capacity for cruelty we, as human beings, have. It reminds me how much work we all still have to do.

The events of last weekend can not be altered. Most of your high school's senior class--with the support of their parents--willfully shunned a small minority of students by their duplicitous act. What they did was perhaps within their legal rights, but clearly it was morally wrong. And not the kind of behavior that should be tolerated.

I am not writing asking you to punish or expel these students--I realize you can not expel an entire graduating class. I am writing in hopes that you will truly seize this moment to educate your students and your community. Perhaps you and your staff will find a gift in this horrific event. You have been given an opportunity to create change. A chance to engage in dialogue. You have this time now to talk to your students. Discover what fears they hold so deeply within themselves that would cause them to act with such disregard toward these few ostracized classmates. Explain to them that it is the acceptance of our differences--not the rejection-- that makes us, as a society, flourish.

Right now great leadership is called for. I believe if you take charge and act you will transform this moment.

I have spent the last several years writing a novel about marriage equality called, "The Marrying Kind." It will be published later this summer. The story is sweet and funny but also challenges us all to stand up against injustice. If you would find it helpful for me to plan a trip to come and talk to your students and staff about equality, I'd be honored to assist you.


Ken O'Neill

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Stuff of Nightmares

Perhaps because my book is coming out in a few months and so I'm feeling a little more stressed than usual, I've been having some unsettling dreams. In addition to being a writer, I am also a licensed massage therapist. The other night I dreamt that a real life client of mine named Paul came over for a session. He pulled off all of his clothes, started to hop up on the table and then stopped. He stood before me naked and said, "I just want to thank you for never once, in all the times you've massaged me, ever making an issue out of the fact that I am transgender.

I want to make it clear that I would not find it at all unsettling to massage a transgender person. I did however find the dream unsettling because Paul isn't transgender. In the dream I became confused. Was this man who I have seen naked multiple times actually born female? Or was Paul just messing with me. I wasn't sure but I was leaning toward the later explanation.

The dream reminded me of other dreams I've had, like when you show up at a party and you're suddenly aware you've gone to the wrong place and you panic because you're lost and you don't know how to get to where you really belong. And then, if you're me, you realize you forgot to wear any pants.

And you wake up. Thank God. And it was all just a bad dream.

Only sometimes it's not a dream. Sometimes, something terrible has really happened.

On Friday night Constance McMillen-- the high school girl from Mississippi who has gotten so much attention for wanting to take her girlfriend to the prom-- arrived at the event to discover there were only a few other students in attendance.

The rumors that this event was created to keep Constance from attending the "real prom" have not been confirmed. But as far as I see it there are only two possibilities.

Either Constance was at the real prom but no one else would go because there was going to be a lesbian there.


There was a real prom some place else that Constance wasn't told about because she's a lesbian.

I'm not sure which explanation I find more despicable.

I'll leave it up to you. Feel free to weigh in.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Catholic League Prepares for Holy Week.

It's holy week.

For believers, it's the most solemn week of the year. A time of prayer, reflection and repentance.

It's a time to remember Jesus not merely as man, but as God. To think of his death and glorious Resurrection--his gift to mankind.

It's also a time for the faithful to remember to act like Jesus. To strive at all times to be Christ-like.

And so I was saddened to read in The "New York Times" that Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, chose to run an add blaming gays for the church's insidious pedophilia epidemic instead of owning up to the Vatican's shameful attempts to cover up abuse.

Wayne Bessen, Executive director of Truth Wins Outs, had this to say about the ad. “We should remind Donohue that there is no child sexual abuse crisis in gay community centers, neighborhoods, churches or social organizations. This nightmare has to do with Catholic pedophile priests and those who served as their enablers. The Catholic League thinks it is mounting a defense, but it is only exacerbating the pain felt by the defenseless who were taken advantage of by authority figures in the church.”

I believe that It is possible for the church to recover from even this heinous crime. But not without remembering that the church is made up of men, not God. And all men are capable of sin. Even Popes.

After we sin, at least as I was taught in Catechism, we ask for forgiveness. We do not blame others.

We take responsibility. We are humble.

We are penitent.

I hope that someday soon the church will recall its teachings.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Major Celebrities Help Jonathan & Gregory!

It's funny how fame works.

At this moment, I have 440 fans on facebook. By contrast, though I don't have the exact figure, Ellen has more than two million.

True, Ellen is seen on television everyday. Whereas I have what can best be described as a cult following.

I don't even need to use Ellen's last name for you to know who I mean. If I were to attempt going by one name, I would most likely be mistaken for Barbie's boyfriend--a dashing fellow. But, in fact, not who I am.

Here's my dilemma. I'd been thinking that my fan base--my star power, if you will-- was great enough to assure a victory for Jonathan and Gregory (Jonory) in the Crate and Barrel Ultimate Wedding Contest. But now I'm having doubts.

Maybe Ellen and I, because we're both famous, should partner on this project. You know, like Co-Chair the event to make sure that it's truly a success.

I think it's not a bad idea.

Inexplicably, though I've searched my address book, I seem not to be able to find her phone number. I mean we're both queer and celebrities, how can I not have her number? I've obviously misplaced it.

But with so little time--just six days-- I have another idea.

Why not just obsessively post to her fan sites. You know, like all day long.

Of course, I can't do it all day long because my personal assistant is off today.

But if I, a celebrity, can find the time to post three or four times, surly you, a normal person, can do it once or twice?

If not for Jonory, well then for me, Ken O'Neill

Oh, and if you do get a hold of Ellen give her my love.

Have her people call my people. We'll do lunch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Like so Much Trash

My first impulse always is to give up and lie down. Get a big blanket, throw it over my head. Retreat from the world.

Maybe eat a cookie. A cookie would be good.

I'm not doing that, not even the cookie part. Instead I'm typing--two finger style. It's not much, but it's something.

When I feel like I can't do anything to help--when I'm forced to face ugliness in the world--my default emotion is hopelessness.

And then I remember that I've made this challenging decision to be present in the world. To be (God help me) a role model.

And so I don't give into despair.

This is my way of explaining why it is that I'm not hiding (with a bag of cookies) now that I've learned that Derrick Martin's parents have thrown him out of the house upon discovering that he had the nerve to be a well-adjusted, smart and personable, gay high school senior, instead of what they would clearly prefer, a self-loathing, deeply-closeted, suicidal one.

For those of you who don't know Derrick Martin is the Georgia High School senior who successfully petitioned his school to allow him to bring a same-sex date to the prom.

I don't know this young man, but my guess is he had a sense of his parent's views on homosexuality before he decided to take a male date to the prom. Derrick's actions can only be described as heroic. He made a choice to value his integrity more than his personal safety. (I think it's he, not I, who is the role model.)

I don't believe any parent is ever really surprised when they find out their child is gay or lesbian. Somewhere inside of themselves they know. And they have always known.

I feel fairly confident saying that this is also true of Derrick's parents. And so what to make of their shocking act of neglect and abuse? My guess is Derrick is not being punished for being gay. He's being punished for having the audacity of being proud of who he is. He's been tossed out for having courage and conviction. I'm not a parent, but it's my understanding that courage and conviction are traits to be encouraged and nurtured, not to be scorned.

His parents have cut him loose for being a leader. If he was quiet. If he wept and begged forgiveness things might be different. If only he tried to change, was repentant, remorseful, played the part of the sinner--he'd still have a bed.

But what would the cost of that behavior be on his soul? What lifelong damage would be caused?

His parents realized that because of Derrick's action's the world would know he's gay. They could no longer pretend otherwise.

It's a shame they didn't focus on all the other things the world has learned about their son. Like that he has strength, and fortitude,that he values honesty over hypocrisy.

Under different circumstances I would have thought that Derrick had become the great man that he is because of the influence of his parents.

I guess he just found his greatness within himself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Right to Dream

Until recently I thought one of the few perks I had being gay was my inability to serve in the military. Oh that and not being able to donate blood. (Not really a fan of needles).

I don't believe this anymore. (Well, maybe I'm still a little on the fence about the blood).

I have certainly believed that Don't Ask Don't Tell should be eliminated for the sake of Dan Choi and the thousands of other enlisted LGBTs whose lives and careers have been devastated by the policy. What I have never thought, though, is that this discriminatory law had any impact on me personally.

Until now.

I just made a brief appearance at the Queer Rising sponsored protest in front of the Army Recruitment Center in Times Square. And while I watched young gays try and fail to enter the building, I for some reason began thinking about my childhood.

I was not one of those kids who knew that they were gay at 4. I didn't even know it at 14. I insulated myself from those feelings so securely that if I was in a closet, I was unaware of it. At the first sign of a crack in the walls I built around myself, The plaster was out. The damage, repaired.

Still, all this self protection could not completely shield me from the knowledge that I was somehow different from most people.

At an early age I knew I wanted to be an actor. But I didn't talk about that. Because I felt I was not the same as the men I saw in movies. Not strong enough, or virile, or SOMETHING intangible that I couldn't articulate.

And now I must stop writing and ask my sad, little inner-child a question: "You didn't think there was a place for yourself in the arts?"


Wow. That's incredible.

Suddenly, I realize I have an obligation to the generations that come behind me. Being in the military wasn't anything I ever wanted for myself. But for some kids, that's the dream. They want to serve and protect this nation. Unfortunately, unlike me, who only thought I did not have a place, this outcast child knows for a fact that he or she is not welcome. Their call to be brave and honorable and true can not be realized. Not today anyway.

This child is forced to let this dream die.

And as a result, how many other dreams will also die?

Here's one for sure: If you can not serve in the military you can not be the President of the United States.

Of course we have had presidents who have not been in the military. We've even had a president who was a draft dodger. But all of our presidents have had the ability to serve. It has been within their rights to serve.

There will never be a commander in chief who is forbidden by law from protecting his country.

And so what are we stealing from our LGBT youth if we don't demand the repeal of DADT? We are taking from them their ability to aspire to greatness. Greatness in all fields.

There is a ceiling pressing down upon my head. I am trying, trying to break through--for myself and for all those children.

Because now I see clearly before my eyes every moment I settled for something safer. Something lesser. Something that would not rock the boat, because I taught myself not to aim too high.

This law has destroyed the careers of 13,500 gay and lesbian soldiers. That is a shameful statistic.

But what is equally shameful is the way in which this ban keeps us all in our place. Like segregated marriage, DADT tells every LGBT American that there is a place for you.

And that place is in the back.