One of the downsides to publishing biweekly is that I never get to have one of those breaking news moments. Big events happen and then by the time I publish, everybody is focusing on what J-Lo is wearing on the Red Carpet. However, this event is a bit more interesting than watching Joan Rivers rip people apart on “Fashion Police.” With this historical change in the Roman Catholic Church, the gay community can bid farewell to someone who certainly has never been a friend to us. The big plus is we get to do it guilt-free. Popes don’t typically retire; they are usually called to the home office.
To be fair, this pontiff had a tough act to follow. John Paul II, while conservative, was still a dynamic personality. People thought of him as humbly human and he was easy to like. When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict the XVI, he brought a bit of dirty laundry with him. It’s kind of hard to shake off an association with something like the Hitler Youth Movement. OK, he says he had no choice; but it’s still not a bullet point I would want on my resume. Can you imagine one of our iconic Southern politicians such as Strom Thurmond being associated with the Ku Klux Klan? Oops, bad example. My point is that Benedict had a less than infallible history and then implied that his predecessor had not been tough enough on the liberals. Add to that the fact that he looks like a villain from a Dr. Seuss book and you have a guy who is not going to be extending any olive branches to the gay community.
Not long before deciding to stage a Greta Garbo “I want to be alone” moment for the world, Benedict chose to celebrate the holiday season and denounce gay marriage in his Christmas message. After all, nothing conveys the warmth of the holidays quite as well as telling people who love each other that they are manipulating nature. Well, unless you decide to turn the knife once you stick it in and state that gay marriage, like abortion and euthanasia, is a threat to world peace. Who knew that having two guys on the bridal registry at Neiman-Marcus would be the thing to kick off Armageddon? All this time, we have been distracted watching Iran, Iraq and Israel.
As a sign of the changing times in our country, the Public Religion Research Institute released a study, which showed that 59 percent of the Catholics in America are in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. This poll was released in 2012, which is a bit more progressive than the Vatican’s point-of-view, which is around 1512. For the Vatican, anything after the Reformation is an indication of the decline of Western Civilization. Once Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door, it was only a matter of time before gay couples started to adopt Chinese babies.
Another epic fail in the reign of Benedict XVI has been his response to the AIDS crisis in Africa. In a continent where HIV-AIDS is shown to be on the rise since 2009, the old school Catholic dogma of no condoms still prevails. HIV/AIDS is not just a gay problem in Africa or anywhere else for that matter. However, in Africa, we’re talking about 22.9 million people who are living with HIV-AIDS, including 2.3 million children. To intensify the problem, 90 percent of the 16.6 million children orphaned in Africa are orphaned because of the AIDS epidemic. For someone to tell people who are suffering on such a massive level that their salvation lies in abstinence and not condoms is like standing in front of starving people and telling them they need to plant some damned corn and learn to eat a healthier diet.
It’s not as if there is going to be a reprieve with the election of the next pope. There’s something about that job description that inherently prohibits one from celebrating diversity. The current College of Cardinals is made up of about 117 men who will enter the conclave next month and select one of their own as the new leader. All of these deciders were selected either by Benedict or John Paul II so don’t look for any wild card names to step out onto the balcony wearing the tiara and doing his best Evita Peron impression. Personally, I would like to see one of the nuns from the Catholic schools I knew in childhood take over the reins of the church. Who better to crack the current crew of gerontocratic Gentiles across their proverbial knuckles and tell them to knock off the bullshit?
Almost poetically appropriate, only three days after learning that we will soon be living in a new post-Benedictine era, the Illinois State Senate passed a measure to approve same-sex marriage on St. Valentine’s Day. That puts yet another state halfway there in declaring marriage equality for all. That’s like a nice going away present given to a exiting boss along with the Baskin Robbins ice cream cake with the words “Good Luck Chuck” scrawled across the top. Then of course, once the buzz kill boss is gone, the real party begins.
A PERMANENT TIME OUT?
Many people were saddened by the recent announcement that Time Out! Bar & Nightclub would not be reopening. Time Out was one of the first bars in the Myrtle Beach community to cater specifically to the LGBT community. The club opened more than 23 years ago and continued to be a flagship presence in nightlife of Myrtle Beach for a wide variety of local residents and visitors. Tragically, the club was destroyed by a fire in October, basically gutting the building. The building is scheduled to be demolished in the very near future. Many local and out of town fans of the club have sent their expressions of sadness at this loss along with their fond memories of the club. We would like to craft a retrospective feature about Time Out! and its impact on the LGBT movement in the area. Please send me your anecdotes and memories during the next few weeks (contact info is listed at the end of this column). Let’s honor this important cornerstone of our community.
OUT & ABOUT
Friday, March 1 – First Friday Happy Hour host its monthly gathering this time at Martin’s Restaurant in Myrtle Beach from 5;30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Friday. Come out and join your friends and meet new friends. The First Friday Happy Hour group is growing and adding new venues to the schedule. Located at 7200 North Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, Martin’s is part of the Oceanfront Long Bay Resort. For additional information on the restaurant or for directions, visit www.firstfridayhappyhour.org.
Friday, March 1 - Pulse Ultra Club, along with Curtis Slade, hosts The Snow Ball. Just like South Beach in Miami, this is the White Party that will take care of your winter blues. To add to the heat, Chantel Curtis and her All Male Revue will be there for your viewing and tipping pleasure. There is also a Grand Prize for the Best Costume. Everyone is asked to wear white to this event. Club Pulse is at 803 Main St. in Myrtle Beach. For additional information call 315-0019.
Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal. Ding-Dong, the Pope is gone