Patti LuPone who has never been one for mincing words and calling out theatergoers who fail to follow proper theater etiquette, did it again on Tuesday when she exchanged blue words with an anti-mask attendee during a production of “Company” on Broadway.
The reading extraordinaire occurred after the show, when LuPone — appeared with the rest of her cast in a post-show Q&A hosted and filmed by the American Theater Wing no less.
During the Q&A, LaDiva rightfully called out the audience member who wasn’t wearing a mask properly. Currently, the Broadway League’s COVID safety protocols requires all audience members to wear a mask inside theaters.
“Put your mask on over your nose, that is the rule,” LuPone says in a viral Twitter video. “That’s why you are in the theater, that is the rule. If you don’t want to follow the rule, get the fuck out!” I’m serious. Who do you think you are, if you do not respect the people that are sitting around you?” After a woman in the audience told LuPone “I pay your salary,” LuPone responded by telling her “You pay my salary? Bullshit. Chris Harper pays my salary,” referring to the producer of “Company.” “Who do you think you are? Just put your mask over your nose.”
The woman in the audience had the nerve to talk back to our Broadway Legend Supreme?
Homophobic Russian MP Vitaly Milonov is presenting a reality show where contestants have to guess which person is gay in order to win a cash prize. I’m Not Gay is a series that sees eight men move into a country house together. At the end of each episode, they vote to eliminate a contestant they suspect of being gay. If they correctly guess, then they share two million rubles (£21,000), but if the homosexual man dodges detection he wins the prize. In the first episode, which has been shared on YouTube, Milonov tells the contestants: “I hope that you will quickly figure out the gay.”
In 2013, Milonov declared that gay men “deserve to be punched and kicked” after a gay man was blinded in a hate crime assault. That came days after he led a police raid on a gay Halloween party.
In 2014, he attempt to ban Eurovision from being shown in Russia due to that year’s win by “pervert” Conchita Wurst. and in 2017, he attempted to ban Disney’s live-action version of Beauty And The Beast as “gay propaganda.”
So we’re the first “tributes” for the Russian Hunger Games.
MidasTouch released the video and actual receipts on Crawthorn and his “scheduler” Stephen Smith on Twitter including Venmo messages obtained by American Muckrakers PAC.
Ethics complaint filed against Madison Cawthorn claims he’s provided thousands of dollars in gifts, housing & travel to his aide Stephen Smith, who lives with him. Venmo payments include suggestive messages.
One payment made by Cawthorn to Smith dated 6/17/18 reads, ‘Getting naked for me in Sweden.’
Look’s like it ain’t no big thing. But this should be fun to watch play out.
Breaking: New leaked video shows GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn caught on video with male scheduler’s hand on his crotch pic.twitter.com/Y8gtGMFdrw
Mart Crowley’s play, “The Boys in the Band” opened in New York on April 14, 1968, at the off-Broadway Theater Four and ran for 1002 performances before being adapted to a successful motion picture. At a time when gay characters were seldom seen in commercial media except as crude stereotypes, although later in history some in the LGBT community would say that is indeed what Crowley’s play presented
The setup is pure theatrics. A melange of gay men assemble in the apartment of catholically damaged Michael for the birthday celebration of Harold a self-proclaimed “32-year-old ugly pockmarked Jew fairy.” These boys were the last ones chosen for P. E., and the first to survive by wits. Tribal unity has the ironic element of verbal onslaughts as Crowley glories in a subculture’s artful engagement with its own dialect.
Then came the backlash in the early 1990’s with a revival production by San Francisco’s Theater Rhino company when fearful of the characters images some LGBT advocates denounced it as Uncle Tomism because they were worried about the LGBT organizations attempts to assimilate the community into straight society ignoring what a groundbreaking piece of LGBT history the play was for the 1968.
The Boys in the Band is among the first major American motion pictures to revolve around gay characters and is often cited as a milestone in the history of LGBT cinema.
Loved by some, hated by others the plot is a simple one: The film is set in an Upper East Side apartment in New York City in the late 1960s. Michael, a Roman Catholic and recovering alcoholic, is preparing to host a birthday party for his friend Harold. Another of his friends, Donald, a self-described underachiever who has moved from the city, arrives and helps Michael prepare. Alan, Michael’s (presumably straight) old college roommate from Georgetown, calls with an urgent need to see Michael. Michael reluctantly agrees and invites him to come over.
Michael, who believes Alan is a closeted homosexual, begins a telephone game in which the objective is for each guest to call the one person whom he truly believes he has loved. With each call, past scars and present anxieties are revealed. Bernard reluctantly attempts to call the son of his mother’s employer, with whom he’d had a sexual encounter as a teenager, while Emory calls a dentist on whom he’d had a crush while in high school; both Bernard and Emory immediately regret having made the phone calls. Hank and Larry attempt to call one-another (via two separate phone lines in Michael’s apartment). Michael’s plan to “out” Alan with the game appears to backfire when Alan calls his wife, not the male college friend Justin Stewart whom Michael had presumed to be Alan’s lover. As the party ends and the guests depart, Michael collapses into Donald’s arms, sobbing. When he pulls himself together, it appears his life will remain very much the same.
While the movie adaptation originally received less than stellar and even sometimes hostile reviews compared to it’s widely acclaimed play counterpart because of the paradigm shift that happened with the Stonewall riots. Today it is seen as a classic of gay cinema. Both the play and the movie were groundbreaking. Despite the cries of stereotyping. No one had ever seen gay people portrayed so boldly. In The Boys in the Band, the characters dealt with homophobia whether it was internalized or came from the “straight world”. The Stonewall riots pushed gays to fight back against homophobia and not to be complacent. While the play opened in 1968, one year before the Stonewall Riots, by the time the movie adaptation was released in 1970, the gay liberation movement had moved past complacency and wanted more than what The Boys in the Band had to offer.
Bill Weber from Slant Magazine wrote “The party-goers are caught in the tragedy of the pre-liberation closet, a more crippling and unforgiving one than the closets that remain.”
The Boys in the Band showed how we, as gay men, queers, fairies, faggots and homosexuals were not alone and while compelling and at times brutally grim at times, it is a view into the dark night of the per-Stonewall gay soul.
The Boys in the Band is the essential gay drama and a piece of our history that gay person should experience.
In the late 1960’s Steve Ostrow opened the Continental Baths in the basement of the landmark Ansonia Hotel, which at one time was home to such greats as Caruso, Stravinsky and Toscanini.
Famous for its lavish accommodations, the Continental Baths was advertised as being reminiscent of “the glory of ancient Rome.” The impressive features of this bathhouse included a disco dance floor, a cabaret lounge, sauna rooms, an “Olympia blue” swimming pool, and clean, spacious facilities that could serve nearly 1,000 men, 24 hours a day. (And many patrons did!)
One gay guide from NYC in the 1970’s described the Continental Baths as a place that “revolutionized the bath scene in New York.”
An extra added attraction at the Continental was the first class entertainment provided by performers such as Melba Moore, Peter Allen, Cab Calloway, The Manhattan Transfer, John Davidson, Wayland Flowers and Madame and Bette Midler, who began her career by performing there with Barry Manilow in 1972.
Despite Midler’s constant complaints about “that goddam waterfall,” her poolside performances were so successful that she soon gained national attention, beginning with repeat performances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Many of those who were fortunate enough to see Bette’s early bathhouse shows attest to the fact that her greatest achievement in show business took place the night she convinced the otherwise shy Barry Manilow to accompany her on the piano while wearing only a white towel, which was considered “proper bathhouse attire.”
As the popularity of the cabaret shows increased, a wide variety of entertainers were invited to “give it up” at the Continental Baths, including the soprano Eleanor Steber, who gave a “black towel” concert there in 1973.
The list of visitors to the Continental Baths read like a “who’s who” of the entertainment world, from actors, singers, artists, producers, to the mafia and and even the Metropolitan Oper. They all paid a visit either to see Bette, or have some fun.
And for those unfortunate souls who never descended into that legendary basement bathhouse, the Continental Baths were able to come to them in the form of the highly popular Continental Baths towel, which was sold by Bloomingdale’s department store at the height of the club’s fame.
During this period even the mainstream news talk show The Pat Collins Show broadcast live from the club. In one segment, Pat sat by the pool and interviewed proprietor Steve Ostrow while nude men, apparently indifferent to the television cameras, went splashing (WCBS-TV received only one complaint about the program.)
Below watch one of Bette Midler’s final performances in its entirety at The Continental Baths. (With Barry Manilow on the piano of course)
Apologies about the quality of the videos below but its a miracle that it exists at all
“Friends” “Fat Stuff” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” (Andrews Sisters) “Superstar” “Empty Bed Blues” (Bessie Smith) “Marahuana” “For Free” (Joni Mitchell) “Easier Said Than Done” (The Essex) “Chapel Of Love” (The Dixie Cups) “I Shall Be Released” (The Band)
*Nobody knows just how many gay and lesbian passengers were on the RMS Titanic on that fateful night. But just by the sheer number onboard there must have been some, but their numbers are unknown. The following post contains speculation and conjecture.
Just before midnight on April 14th. 1912 the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the in the North Atlantic Ocean. The sinking of Titanic in the early morning hours of the next day caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.
At 11:40 pm ship’s time. Titanic sideswiped an iceberg and the glancing collision caused Titanic‘s hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea. By 2:20 AM, she broke apart and foundered.
Having just 20 lifeboats, Titanic was entirely unprepared for the sinking. Even if they had been filled, only half of the passengers on board would have made it safety. In fact, many of the first lifeboats to leave Titanic were only half-full because so many passengers didn’t believe it could possibly be sinking.
There were 2,224 people on board. Only 710 were saved.
Just under two hours after the Titanic foundered, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking, where she brought aboard the survivors.
Were there gay passengers and crew on the Titanic at its time of sinking?
The answer is undoubtedly yes.
Jack Fritscher, author of the gayrotic novella Titanic: The Untold Tale of Gay Passengers and Crew (Palm Drive Publishing), reckoned that “if, according to Kinsey, one out of six ordinary men is gay, 225 gay men died. If two out of six in the travel industry are gay, 450 gay men died, making Titanic an overlooked but essential chapter in gay history.” Since men were more likely to go down with the ship, the gay male casualties were undoubtedly higher than most.
Among the Titanic’s passengers there was Archibald Butt, known as Archie, was an influential military aide to US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He is described as being ‘camp’ and a ‘dandy’ who was always impeccably dressed.
Of course there is no conclusive evidence that passenger Archibald Butt was gay but when it comes to passenger Francis Millet, he was known to have an affair with writer Charles Warren Stoddard in Venice in 1875. Stoddard would later leave him, devastating Millet.
Fynney was a “confirmed bachelor” and people reported that Fynney took great interest in helping the young men circling around him, and his neighbors complained about the late-night visits of these young men. He volunteered at the local church, St. James, Toxteth, helping young delinquents. A handsome bachelor, Fynney always brought a young man with him while vising his mother in Canada.
Fynney boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger; travelling with him, on the same ticket, was William Alfred Gaskell. They both died in the sinking. Only Fynney’s body was recovered.
Learn more about the gay passengers upon the RMS Titanic and that fateful night. Watch Hugh Brewster, author of ‘RMS Titanic: Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage’ which talks about the untold gay story of the Titanic’s fatal maiden voyage.
Jeanne Deckers, better known as Sœur Sourire (“Sister Smile,” often credited as The Singing Nun), was a Belgian singer-songwriter and initially a member of the Dominican Order in Belgium known as Sister Luc-Gabrielle. She acquired world fame in 1963 with the release of the French-language song “Dominique,” which topped the U.S. Billboard and other charts.
In September 1959, Jeanne Deckers entered the Missionary Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Fichermont, headquartered in the city of Waterloo, where she took the name Sister Luc-Gabrielle. While in the convent, Deckers wrote, sang and performed her own songs, which were so well received by her fellow nuns and visitors that her religious superiors encouraged her to record an album, which visitors and at the convent would be able to purchase.
In 1961, she recorded the single “Dominique” became an international hit, and in 1962 her album sold nearly two million copies.[The Dominican Sister became an international celebrity, with the stage name of Sœur Sourire (“Sister Smile”). She gave concerts and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.”Dominique” was the first, and remains the only, Belgian song to be a number one hit single in the United States.
Deckers found it difficult having to live up to her publicity as “a true girl scout.”
“I was never allowed to be depressed,” Deckers said in 1979. “The mother superior used to censor my songs and take out any verses I wrote when I was feeling sad.”
In 1963 she was sent by her order to take theology courses at the University of Louvain. She liked the student life, if not her courses. She reconnected with a friend from her youth, Annie Pécher, with whom she slowly developed a very close relationship; the younger Pécher relocate to be closer to Deckers while she attended the university.
In 1965, the movie The Singing Nun, was released starring Debbie Reynolds which was billed as a biographical film based on Deckers. Jeanne Deckers publicly rejected the film as “fiction.” In addition most of her earnings were in fact taken away by her producer, while the rest automatically went to her religious congregation, which made at least $100,000 in royalties; in 1960s’ dollars this was a huge amount.
Pulled between two worlds and increasingly in disagreement with the Catholic Church, she left the convent in 1966, She later reported that her departure resulted from a personality clash with her superiors, that she had been forced out of the convent and did not leave of her own free will. She still considered herself a nun, praying several times daily, and maintaining a simple and chaste lifestyle.
After she left the convent, her recording company required her to give up her initial professional names of “Sœur Sourire” and “The Singing Nun.” She attempted to continue her musical career under the name “Luc Dominique” and became so frustrated at what she perceived to be the Catholic’s Church failure to fully implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council that she released a song in 1967 defending the use of contraception called “Glory be to God for the Golden Pill.” This led to an intervention by the Catholic hierarchy in Montreal, Canada, which resulted in one of her concerts being cancelled
Not long after Jeanne Deckers suffered a nervous breakdown followed by two years of psychotherapy.
Deckers then moved in with Annie Pécher whom she had first met when she worked as a counselor in a seaside camp in her youth and Annie was one of the girls in her charge. Annie, who was eleven years younger than Deckers, became warmly attached to her, a sentiment that Deckers at the time did not reciprocate. Pécher visited Deckers regularly in the convent, went to live near where Deckers stayed when sent to study at Leuven, and later fell into a deep depression and tried to kill herself when it seemed Deckers was about to be sent to a mission country.
When they began to live together in the apartment, Deckers made it clear to the by then 22-year-old Annie that she did not want to have a sexual relationship with her. Determined to remain true to the vow of chastity she had taken as a nun, she wanted them to live together simply as friends. However, her diaries indicate that, although she long resisted her growing feeling of closeness to the younger woman, a lesbian relationship between them arose in about 1980, some 14 years after they began to live together
The years that followed were n the Belgian government claimed that she owed $63,000 in back taxes from the royalties of her music. Deckers countered that they were given to the convent and therefore she was not liable for payment of any personal income taxes. Her former congregation refused to take any responsibility for the debt, claiming both that they no longer had any responsibility for her and that they did not have the funds, and Deckers ran into heavy financial problems. In 1982, she tried, once again as Sœur Sourire, to score a hit with a disco version of “Dominique,” but this last attempt to resume her singing career failed miserably. In addition to the other financial worries, that same year, an autism center for children started by Annie Pécher had to close its doors because of bad debts.
On 29 March 1985, Jeanne Deckers and Annie Pécher committed suicide together by an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol.
In their suicide note, Decker and Pécher cited financial difficulties and stated they had not given up their faith and wished to be buried together after a church funeral.
They were buried together in Cheremont Cemetery in Wavre, Walloon Brabant, the town where they died.[The inscription on their tombstone reads “I saw her soul fly across the clouds,” a phrase from the refrain of Deckers’ song “Dominique.”
“Elle est morte Sœur Sourire/ Elle est morte il était temps/ J’ai vu voler son âme/ A travers les nuages/ Sur un tapis volant.”
The Ritzwritten by Terrence McNally and performed on Broadway in 1975 earned Rita Moreno a Tony Award for her portrayal of Googie Gomez, a third-rate Puerto Rican entertainer with visions of Broadway glory and rave reviews.
The following year the play was turned into a movie with Moreno reprising her role as Googey for which she received a Golden Globe nominations in the comedy category.
The movie today even as dated as it is , is a hilarious comedy set in a gay bathhouse in Manhattan (a comedic take on NYC’s Continental Baths), where unsuspecting heterosexual Cleveland businessman Gaetano Proclo (Jack Weston) has taken refuge from his homicidal mobster brother-in-law, Carmine Vespucci (Jerry Stiller). There Gaetano stumbles across an assortment of oddball characters, including a rabid chubby chaser, go-go boys, a squeaky-voiced detective (Treat Williams), and Googie Gomez, who mistakes him for a famous producer and whom he mistakes for a man in drag. To make matters worse Gaetano’s wife Vivian tracks him down and jumps to all the wrong conclusions about his sexual preferences.
If you ever get a chance to see it DO.
In the clip below Googie Gomez (Rita Moreno) sings “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” for the boys at The Ritz followed by the movies theatrical trailer.
Decades before Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zachary Quinto there was a young man named Lance Loud who brought gay awareness, lifestyle and culture to millions of homes across America at a time when it was unheard of.
On January 15, 1973 Lance Loud came out on the PBS “series” An American Family. He was the first person to come out on national television.
Am American Family” An American Family, was a 12-episode reality documentary series broadcast in 1973 on PBS. The directors, Alan and Susan Raymond, were the first to install cameras into a real-life situation. They documented hundreds of hours of the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. During the course of the filming, the marriage of Bill and Pat Loud imploded, they separated, and Pat filed for divorce. The documentary became a real-life soap opera and the progenitor of ”reality television,” in which private lives were captured for a national audience.
An American Family also delved into the lives of the Loud children, Delilah and Michele and brothers Kevin, Grant and oldest son Lance.
Lance was the first openly gay person depicted on television, and was shocking to an audience that had rarely witnessed frank portrayals of homosexuality on television. Lances scenes were of his true self, wearing blue lipstick, moving to the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, and introducing his mother to the gay underground music and art world of transvestites, hustlers and types of gritty New Yorker’s that were never seen on television before and made an American Family a groundbreaking series first. (In 2001 Pat Loud stating that the family were all probably aware of Lance’s sexual orientation beforehand. )
After the show ended Lance remained in New York for 10 years living in a Lower East Side apartment writing for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and performing in a semi-successful rock band called the Mumps.
In 1981, Lance moved back to California, where he studied journalism. He was a regular contributor to such publications as the Advocate, Details and Interview. . He was a presence in Los Angeles’ gay community but shed his earlier flamboyance, saying he had “gone back into the closet; no more blue lipstick.” Over the years, he spent time working with animal rescue organizations.
Whenever “An American Family” was rebroadcast, Lance was cast back into the spotlight. A one-hour sequel, “An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later,” appeared on HBO in 1983. His mother reviled the original series, telling an interviewer once that she felt disgraced by it–”like letting your pants down in public.”
Lance himself always seemed puzzled by the notoriety accorded him by the series, which, he wryly observed, had “raised my family to the status of a recurring question on ‘Hollywood Squares.’
Four years later in 1987 Lance learned he had HIV. He remained in good health except for occasional bouts with Hepatitis C before his untimely death to AIDS
”It seemed like a medical miracle,” said friend Kristen Hoffman said. ”He just kept bouncing back.”
But in the end the years of partying and drug abuse took its toll.. After being told that his hepatitis C was now terminal Lance wrote one last piece “a cautionary tale” about the health risks of his partying ways for The Advocate.
At the age of 50, Lance Loud passed away on December 22, 2001
As his final request, Lance wanted his parents to reunite. Bill and Pat honored his wish and are living together again.”
After Lance’s PBS presented Lance Loud: Death in An American Family“>Lance Loud! A Death In An American Family, that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the original series broadcast and explored Lance’s legacy by looking back at scenes from the original documentary, examining the intervening years of Loud’s life and spending time with him in his final months.
Below is an interview Lance gave to Dick Cavett in 1973 after An American Family had aired.
The Advocate published Lance Loud’s final article after passing in their January 22, 2002 issue.
Preface: Why Me? What Did I Learn Last Year?
When The Advocate invited me to participate in its roundup of people sharing accomplishments in 2001, guilt bubbled right next to the pride I felt to be included in such an honor. Who was I to be included in an issue where everyone else presumably would be expounding about triumphs won over the past year? But my triumph came completely by coincidence. Like the recognition that had given me a voice in the public arena in the first place (I was in An American Family—PBS’s controversial 1973 TV documentary in which, still a teenager and more out of laziness than activism, I made no secret of my homosexuality, a “feat” considered brave at the time), this recognition is coming to me completely by accident.
And so I rationalized that in a sea of Advocate winners, some loser’s musings on his own mortality might just provide a fitting reflective glory to further flatter our issue’s winners. I don’t mind that; I am glad to help out. I have a lot in common with Lewis Carroll’s Alice (my favorite female literary heroine, besides Becky Sharp). I’ve been sent on a journey to places even bleach can’t reach. I know that I shall be very lucky indeed if Death looks like the Cheshire Cat, and even if I lose contact with my audience before his entrance, my audience—such as it is—will get as much death dirt as possible. I was, after all, a gossipy old pencil pusher in the bloom of health; no sense in letting that strong suit go.
So for a short part of this journey, you are there.
This year, you see, I not only got diagnosed with terminal hepatitis C but got checked into a local men’s hospice to await its final curtain. Though for years I had told myself that all my unbridled drinking, drugging, and unsafe sex were going to lead exactly here, I’d never really believed it.
But when the big showdown came, instead of laughing maniacally and swigging my tequila from one of my old Beatle boots, I had a response that was 180 degrees off. When I was told in the early summer that it was indeed just such outlaw ways that had been responsible for bringing me to my knees, I crumpled without any “damn the torpedoes” tribute to Billy the Kid or Bonnie and Clyde. I became a shadow, hunched over, round-eyed from fear, shuffling as I took my place in the long line of customers who are gathered here, part of a group with the same things in our mind, each of us grimly waiting to be served.
The bulk of my learning—if I may call it such—has come within the past three months, after I became a part of the fragile body of patients who make up an AIDS hospice. Here, surrounded by teams of supportive nurses, attentive doctors, and interns, one gently comes upon his own strengths and shortcomings.
So what was my “triumph” this past year? As with my “feat” on An American Family, I was, once again, merely myself. But over the course of 2001, my dormant hepatitis C and my HIV—both “silent partners” in governing my health till now—suddenly decided to step out from behind the curtain and take the spotlight. Check out uridine monophosphate for more information. I lived 18 years with HIV and 10 with hep C with very little more than a fleeting case of thrush. Now I find myself in a hospice with a limited-time warranty on my life.
“Dubious achievement,” anyone? Till now, yes. But the hep C–HIV numbers among gay men and women look to be far larger than originally expected and are rising every day. The fact that many gay men who carry the dual diagnosis are feeling fairly great, not feeling or showing signs of illness thanks to their drug cocktails or gym regimens, misleads many of those infected. I don’t know if hep C is called “the quiet killer,” but it easily could be, so unnoticeably does it nestle into your body before crankin’ up the screws and letting you race to figure out what’s going on.
Now I’m asked to put pen to paper and, in so many words, take you on a brief tour of the Rabbit’s hole that is swallowing me up. A peep into my own private dying process and what I’ve noticed over the past year as my surroundings get curiouser and curiouser. It’s not wild, but it is mysterious, and you’ll encounter some of the strangest thoughts en route to the main tunnel going straight down. My “accomplishment” of being one of the first wave of gays to deal with the messy last stages of this dreary road to death speaks for itself. Despite this writer’s basic clumsiness and dull-wittedness, I will now tell the tale. Let’s break my list of “accomplishments” down into the four seasons, shall we? Think of it as a cautionary tale.
Part I: Winter ’01 Is There a Michelin Man in My Family Tree, or What?
Last winter, ’01, was typical of any year in recent times for me. Six years earlier, my gig writing a regular column for The Advocate had to, regretfully, be put out to pasture thanks to a full-time career as a crystal addict. I’d finally rehabbed from the drugs and drink, and I was a lonely hermit, presiding over my nine stray cats in a small one-room kingdom on a hillside in Los Angeles’s Echo Park, where I took many naps and read English rock magazines. I was not in great health—big shock. But I was feeling well enough to still say yes when a girlfriend asked me to accompany her to the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the spring to move her 18-year-old son for summer break.
Shortly after the three of us set upon his dorm room to dismantle it, a small but sharp twinge of pain registered just under my left kneecap. And it would not stop. In fact, it got worse. For the duration of the weekend and through the trip home, it got worse and worse. Damn my friend, I said to myself as it throbbed away. How could she have forced me into so much work? But on returning to L.A. and going to the doctor that following Monday, I found out it had little to do with a twisted knee. It was a septic infection that had settled under my left knee. But I still believed I was invincible and continued my old lifestyle.
However, it was only a couple of days later that I awoke one afternoon in Cedars-Sinai hospital. I don’t know how the day started out, but I had been found in a mud puddle near Echo Park Lake at 4:30 in the morning. At the hospital, I had accosted the nurses and doctors. I ripped out the I.V. needles leading into both my arms. Blood. More blood. Then there was my left leg. Sometime during the previous 48 hours, it had swollen to at least four sizes larger than the right one. The skin was shiny and tight. God was partway through inventing a new Pokémon—me. Though doctors told me I should stay in the hospital, I was having none of it. I returned home; me, the cats, and my little wooden house in the wilds of Echo Park. Ready to stick it out to the bitter end, little did I know, in terms of my domestic setup, that finality was about as close as the nearest Starbucks.
Part II: The Summer of My Incontinence.
Actually, bona fide incontinence waited until fall to make itself known. Still, as we passed the halfway mark of the year, I was not without plenty of disillusion. But as we crawled toward that final quarter of the year, waves of human degradation began breaking over my body. Daily bouts of catastrophic diarrhea suggested my intestinal tract was undergoing some sort of Chernobylish meltdown. My belly—for that is the only word with which to adequately describe my stomach—had grown taut as a kettle drum. My leg was now not only swollen and unusable but had developed a needles-and-pins sensitivity that completely obscured any other feeling. While my leg still tingled constantly in a most uncomfortable manner, I could be standing on a tack and not notice it. All this plus the fact that it seemed I was now racing to the hospital every couple of weeks for a six-hour transfusion session to replace the blood my body was not replenishing. This was leaving large gaps in my energy and hollows where my cheeks had once been. I was, in short, beginning to look a little like a WeHo version of the Crypt Keeper. After a few haunted weeks spent lurking between the sheets in my mother’s bedroom, it was decided to get me back into the hospital.
Part III: Waiting, waiting, waiting…
I thus spent August and part of September in hospital rooms about town. Perhaps there is no agony worse than the tedium I then experienced waiting for Something to Happen. I should say that when you’ve grown sick of reading and bug-eyed from watching TV, when your friends are all visited out and there’s nothing else to do, no words can adequately praise the link to the outside world provided by your parents and family. I was going insane. There was no exact diagnosis. The unspoken one, everyone knew.
Suddenly…news. Word came along the hospital jungle that they were booting me out. With the newfound gusto that a minimum-wage earner gets shortly before his work day ends and his allotted amount of work still remains to be finished, I was packed up and told I had to find myself a rest home to stay in. They did not tell me what was wrong or what could be done about it. Suffice it to say that this did not give me much hope.
Part IV: Revelations, Anyone?
You know those people who tell you they’ve forgotten how to cry and that they can’t anymore? I was one of them—until I crash-landed at the Carl Bean hospice facility on the northern tip of south-central L.A. It’s not because the facility is bad—on the contrary. The food is the best I’ve had in an institution—and believe me, by the end of the summer I had become quite the hospital food gourmand. The nursing and doctoring staff? No words can do justice to their efficiency, thoroughness, and all-around human compassion above and beyond the call of duty.
But what I learned in this situation is how easy it is for me to cry. Having been one of those who didn’t cry at anything, I am now faced with mortality, finding myself on a deserted beach on the brink of a saline washout. And forget about my family; just a sidelong look at my mom while visiting her home and watching her prepare dinner struck a gusher. Or my giving a toast at a dinner for my brother and sister: Halfway through, yours truly simply kidnapped the situation by bursting into a massive crying jag that left my sisters frozen, silent, and with two long tear-stained trails on their cheeks. Definitely not the most generous move to inaugurate a “happy occasion.”
Epilogue: This is the end, my friend
I recently read that “a sentence of death concentrates the mind wonderfully.” True, but you’ve got to be able to excuse yourself from what you can and can’t concentrate on. Beware flights of fancy. Surely it sounds great to finally envision the perfect rock band, the script that is right in front of your nose, the inevitable volume of memories that the world must see.
And you must be prepared to handle those “What to do?” moments. My doctor told my already-hysterical mother, “Pat, you’ve got to face it. You’re going to outlive Lance, so you may as well get prepared!” Neither of us felt good about that moment. Or the fight between friends when a dear pal blurted out to me that he’d speak well of me at my wake.
When will it happen? That’s certainly got to be number 1 on the most-often-asked-questions-of-myself list that I usually break out at 4:12 a.m., when no one’s around to answer. All I can hear is my own breath pulling like cotton through my nostrils. Now that I’ve gotten up enough nerve to ask the kindly doctors and nursing staff for some illumination, most likely they’ll turn such queries back on me, asking how long I think I’m going to live or telling me it’s all relative.
Still, I got the truth, though it came in a variety of vague replies. And the truth was not pleasant. After the question “Am I dying?” was met with responses that ranged from “What do you think?” to “Lance, everybody dies sooner or later,” salty tears were running down my cheeks.
Such attempts on my part to sleuth out a departure date are suddenly replaced by one of the staff breezily telling me that my liver has completely stopped operating. The ammonia now racing around in my body (which must be urine, though I haven’t got the nerve to clarify that salient point) is causing me to have memory lapses, and by that time I’m about ready to get back to discussing the food, the weather, anything, as long as it is superficial.
Oh, yes, it has been a year full of dark revelations, but without the fame or glory that might help offer someone else some little shred of solace if they are on the same road.
Lance Loud was a TRUE gay hero and icon and he should always be remembered.