Authors Behaving Badly: New Hope Gay Marriage Saga

Authors Behaving Badly

In the past few years we’ve heard a great deal about authors behaving badly. There’s even an acronym…BBA…badly behaving author. But this following list mentions a few alleged BBAs who aren’t new authors, or even self-published authors, and I found the comments fascinating.

Here are just a few names mentioned. There are fourteen mentioned altogether, twelve of which are showcased in detail.

Jonathan Franzen:

While we love Franzen’s work, he doesn’t seem to be the friendliest guy in town. First, he insulted Oprah. Who insults Oprah?! When Oprah wanted to make “The Corrections” one of her book club picks, Franzen was insulted. He notes, “I think she was surprised that I wasn’t moaning with shock and pleasure.” Um, why wouldn’t you be? Oprah is about to make you rich. Jonathan Franzen thinks he’s too good to have suburban housewives reading his books. To make matters worse, he wrote that horrible piece about Edith Wharton in the New Yorker that basically talked about how she hated other women because she was so ugly, so she only created tragic beautiful female characters. Yeah, Jonathan. We’re sure that was the reason. Just totally undermine the first female author to win a Pulitzer for her fiction. Good job.

I’ve loved everything Franzen has ever written. But I do marvel at his luck sometimes. And while I do believe that we create our own luck for the most part, I also think there’s something working in the metaphysical background for some people that most of us can’t figure out. It’s not every author who can write one book with bad sex scenes and annoying characters every ten years and make millions.

James Franco:

James Franco likes to call himself a part of the literary community, but unfortunately for him, they don’t really seem to want him (in fact, it might be a stretch to call him a “famous author” in the first place. He’s more “famous” and, in addition, an “author”). The LA Times recently ran a post called Will James Franco Please Stop? However, Franco insists that his undertaking so many artistic projects and trying to look like a renaissance man does not, in fact, make him a jerk. He told E! “If anyone wants to say that my doing these things makes me a jerk, that’s not about me—that’s about people reacting to me.” We see both sides of this coin. However, we think it’d be one thing if writing poetry and novels was just a hobby of Franco’s and he wasn’t pursuing getting them all published. That’s just obnoxious.

This one is tricky for me. Franco has done so many things I admire I just don’t get him being called a BBA. In 2006 James Franco went to UCLA to get his degree. He took 62 credits a quarter, where the normal load is about 18 or 19. And for some that’s even pushing it. He received his degree in 2008, and he never stopped acting during his time in school. He wrote his thesis under Mona Simpson, an author I’ve mentioned here before (she was Steve Jobs’ sister, who didn’t meet Jobs until many years later because Jobs had been put up for adoption…and she also wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, Anywhere But Here). And this is only a partial list of James Franco’s credits. So I personally don’t find him anything but inspirational. And I think calling him a BBA is really reaching too far.

As a side note, the author of this article made a few fundamental mistakes, which are all updated at the bottom of the post. I couldn’t actually find a byline anywhere. You can read more here.

New Hope Gay Marriage Saga

I’ve been following the story of gay marriage and the Mayor of New Hope, PA, where I live, and it continues to devolve. I posted about this early last week. The gist of all this is that Mayor Keller of New Hope believes it’s more important to follow the law than it is to question ethics and inequality. And even though a clerk in Montgomery County, PA, a few miles away from New Hope, has been issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples illegally, Mayor Keller refuses to honor those licenses and he refuses to perform same sex marriage ceremonies in New Hope because same sex marriage in Pennsylvania is illegal. Most legal analysts claim there is limited risk if Keller were to perform same sex marriages, and right now a judge is about to rule on what the clerk in Montgomery County did.

In any event, this was a recent article I read in a local newspaper about Keller.

On one side is the four-term Republican incumbent, Larry Keller, who supports legalization of same-sex marriage and recently declined to perform a wedding ceremony for a gay couple, citing Pennsylvania law, his oath of office and the legal advice of the borough’s solicitor.

On the other side is the Democrat challenger, Donna Deely, who had said she would, if elected, perform such ceremonies and now says she would respect the decision of the state court system, whatever that might be.

At the end of the article, a very clever little small town journalist adds this:

A recent poll by Franklin and Marshall College found that 76 percent of respondents disapprove of elected officials ignoring laws with which they disagree.

The journalist must have looked for ages to find that piece of information. And, there is no mention of the types of laws. In other words, Keller is upholding a law that’s not only unethical, but it is as steeped in US history as segregation laws and slavery laws. In other words, if there were a law in PA that stated people of African descent could not use the same water fountains or public bathrooms that white people use, would Mayor Keller be a hero for upholding that law?

I have the highest respect for the law. We need laws and we need to follow laws. But every so often a law comes along that needs to be challenged, and in this case it’s same sex marriage. What is going to be most interesting out of all of this is whether or not Keller is relected this fall. New Hope has a large gay community, but it’s not all gay. And if Keller is relected it’s going to speak loudly about where the straight community in New Hope stands on the issue of same sex marriage. Because it’s one thing to say you support same sex marriage, but it’s a completely different issue to actually support it.

Here’s a letter to the editor from one local paper.

New Hope Mayor Keller brought disappointment and sadness to me this week. My life is peppered with many amazing and happy times in New Hope. I shake my head. One of the friendliest places to gay people in Pennsylvania has a mayor who refused to marry a gay couple. Amazing!

Why would someone support a law that is obviously unethical? I remember my father telling me the Army (he served in the Korean War) gave a soldier the option to not follow an order if the soldier felt the command was unethical and/or immoral. If Mayor Keller is for gay rights, then why would he morally or ethically uphold the current marriage law?

As a local official, Mayor Keller should call Gov. Corbett and ask him to stand down and bring down the state marriage law. He should be an advocate for gay rights and not against gay rights.

I was married in New York in July the week of the Supreme Court DOMA decision. My wish was to marry among my family and friends in Pennsylvania, but I could not. Mayor Keller of New Hope was given the chance to stand up for equality and change. He sat down and supported the current law. Amazing!

Now this is an interesting spin. In the same article I linked to above, this is mentioned.

Keller said he is one of about 350 mayors nationwide who have signed a letter by Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and this week sent a letter to Governor Tom Corbett that said although he always will uphold his oath, ” … in my heart, I strongly believe same-sex marriage should be legal.”

And this is how the New Hope Council responded. It’s an online version of the newspaper, and I couldn’t find another link. But I wanted to add the link becuase I know several of the people on the list are openly gay, and in long term relationships. One I’ve met at parties and she and her partner recently married on Cape Cod this summer, in Provincetown. In other words, she’s legally married in MA, but not in New Hope, where she selflessly gives her time to work for the town of New Hope as a council member.

The following members of the New Hope Burough Council want the public to know that we support marriage equality and will do all in our power to put pressure on our state senator, state representatives, and Gov. Corbett to change the biased unconstitutional law banning same sex marriage. We are proud members of a town that supports diversity and equal rights for all. We will not stop our pro-active role until Pennsylvania supports marriage equality.


Almost Gay Guys; New Hope Mayor No Gay Marriage for ME

Almost Gay Guys

When I read the article to which I’m linking, I had to admit it was the first time I’d really ever seen anything like this spoken about so openly. It deals with men who are mostly straight, but sometimes almost gay, and stuck somewhere in between bi and gay. I know that sounds complicated, but there is validity here. The focus of the article is a young man named Dillon who is interested in women and sometimes men, but is not actually gay, straight, or bisexual.

By his own admission, Dillon says he resides in the “Sexual Netherlands” (his words), a place that exists between heterosexuality and bisexuality. In previous generations, such individuals might have been described as “straight but not narrow,” “bending a little,” and “heteroflexible.”

Dillon is part of a growing trend of young men who are secure in their heterosexuality and yet remain aware of their potential to experience far more—sexual attractions, sexual interactions, crushes, and, occasionally romantic relationships with other guys. Dillon lives these contradictions—seemingly hetero guys who now reject that label, sexual description, and identity.

Although I’m no expert on this topic by any means, I will admit that I’ve run across guys like Dillon before when I was single. (Actually, I still run into them, especially at weddings for some reason.) I once dated a marine who was very open about his sexuality with me, and he told me up front he was mostly straight. I dated a semi-pro baseball player…I was eighteen he was thirty…and he basically explained his situation as being almost gay, but only sometimes. I know that sounds odd to some people, but they were very nice guys and I found them very simple and easy to be with. In fact, in most cases they were easier to be with than out, openly gay men. Many who have read my novels will notice that I sometimes have characters in my books with men who are like this, and many of those characters were loosely based on my own personal experiences.

The article goes even deeper and it’s a very interesting read for those who haven’t heard about men like this before. The one part I didn’t buy totally was that these guys care more about romance than sex. That was never something I experienced. These guys care about sex. It’s not that they aren’t romantic at all, but I’ve never seen that as the main focus. The one thing I can say is that they’ve always been cool and honest about it, which was actually kind of romantic itself. And these guys can be very adorable under the right conditions.

You can read more here.

New Hope Mayor No Gay Marriage for ME

When I read this article late last night, I can’t say I was totally shocked. I know many people are because New Hope, PA, (where I live) is such an openly gay friendly tourist town, and has been for many years. We even have our own Gay Pride Festival in May. We have more gay owned establishments than I can count. At one time, we had more gay nightclubs than I can count. New Hope has always been a small gay mecca, like Provincetown, MA. Without apology, it’s the reason Tony and I live here.

But I have seen more than a few interesting things living here. There was once a very wealthy woman who owned property and several high end businesses in town. She lived with another woman and we all knew she was a lesbian. But she never came out, and never openly supported the gay community in New Hope. The mayor of New Hope right now, Larry Keller, the one who refuses to perform gay marriages, is middle-aged and has been a confirmed “bachelor” as far as I know all his life. So when I read that this particular mayor will not perform gay marriages for legal reasons, no one had to bring my smelling salts.

In any event, this is what’s happening:

Amid the typical discussions about zoning and amplified music at this week’s borough council meeting in New Hope was mention of an Aug. 16 letter from Mayor Larry Keller to council in which he explained the reasons for his declining the recent request “by two gentlemen to officiate their wedding.”

The letter went on to say, “As part of the official duties of the office of the elected mayor of New Hope Borough, I am permitted by law to solemnize marriages between persons who produce a marriage license issued by any County Clerk of Orphans’ Court. This authorization is not mandatory. A Mayor is not obligated to officiate any wedding.

To backtrack a little, I recently posted about how they are issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in Montgomery County, PA, which is only a few miles away from New Hope.

Even though same sex marriage is still not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County in PA issued marriage licenses to same sex couples today in defiance of the ban on same sex marriage. Tony and I live in Bucks County, PA, which is only a few miles from where the marriage licenses were issued, and it’s s significant move for those who issued the licenses and those who obtained them.

The key words above are defiance and ban. It’s obvious that in Montgomery County they are intentionally challenging the law in order to push things forward. Pennsylvania is the only mid-Atlantic state that doesn’t even have civil unions for same sex couples. And we’re tired of it.

What I found most refreshing about the article dealing with New Hope Mayor Keller was this:

Donna Deely, the Democratic contender for Republican Keller’s job in an election scheduled for this November, took it a step further: “If I am elected mayor I will officiate same-sex weddings. I think the risk there is minimal, and it’s the right thing to do, not only because it reflects the current prevailing legal winds and the country is moving in that direction, but also given New Hope’s rich tradition of acceptance. That’s why we chose to live here, and in my heart of hearts, I think it’s the fair and just thing to do.”

Even though there are legalities involved here, sometimes it’s important to be on the right side of history in order to make a change. There was a time when people of African descent were not allowed to use the same bathrooms and water fountains as white people. Clearly, Mayor Keller doesn’t believe the issue of gay marriage is important enough to take a stand and challenge. And this is in spite of the fact that his business has been supported by the gay dollar for many years, as well as his political ambitions. The most interesting thing here is that Keller is a Republican, and gays here have supported him in spite of that, too.

Now, Mayor Keller does have a history of issues regarding marriage.

Keller’s reluctance to engage in activity that may draw litigation seems to be founded in personal experience: he was questioned some years ago during a politically-charged environment about the propriety of the charitable donation of marriage fees he had collected, a charge he defended “at great personal cost.” Keller said he sought the advice of Borough Solicitor T.J. Walsh in this marriage request, who said “You don’t want to touch this. If he [Hanes] did something they said is illegal, you are going to be an accessory to an illegality.”

I can’t find any links to that controversy now, but I do remember it. The issue eventually died down and no one heard a word about it again. However, it’s important to note that marrying people is not unusual for mayors, and New Hope is also a destination for many straight couples to get married. Famed author and cook Julia Child and her husband were actually married in Lumberville, a few miles away from New Hope, many years ago. And Mayor Keller has performed marriages for straight couples.

Many are disagreeing with Keller’s decision, including attorneys:

David S. Cohen, associate professor of law at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law disagreed. “There is no clear decision from any binding court in Pennsylvania or the Federal court about the state’s marriage law, but officials like Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Montgomery County Clerk Hanes both have decided that the marriage law is unconstitutional. As a law professor and one of the attorneys representing same-sex couples in Montgomery County, I agree wholeheartedly,” said Cohen.

“If the mayor doesn’t want to go along with what the Attorney General and Montgomery County Clerk are doing, he will find himself on wrong side of history,” added Cohen.

Sometimes that’s what it all comes down to in the end. And I think it will be interesting to see if Keller holds his ground with this, and, if he gets reelected this November.

Photo here.

Papillon Center for Transgender Transition New Hope, PA

I’ve lived in New Hope for over twenty years and just learned there’s a place for transgender transition assistance called the Papillon Center. A friend sent me a link this afternoon and I checked it out thoroughly and from what I see on the web site it’s extremely well executed. I post these things from time to time because the T in LGBT is often overlooked, and also because I’ve written a few transgender romances that garner a decent amount of e-mails.

From the web site of the Papillon Wellness Center:

Papillon Gender Wellness Center was created in the fall of 2000, when Dr. McGinn discovered through her transition, just how daunting it was to find a competent, affordable and comprehensive care for her own journey. It began as a web-based resource for contra-hormone therapy and transition information for gender variant individuals, their loved-ones and their health providers. In 2007, the clinic opened in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and aspires to be a center of excellence for the care of transgender individuals and their families.

This is the address:

Papillon Center18 Village Row, Suite 43
Logan Square
Lower York Road (202)
New Hope, PA 18938

I must have passed by it a million times because Tony’s family PC is located in that same office complex. But it doesn’t really surprise me because New Hope has been welcoming the LGBT community for the past fifty or sixty years. It all started with an art colony that’s now become well known in art circles called The New Hope school. Then it progressed with the theater crowd in the middle of the last century when Broadway shows came here to open at the Bucks County Playhouse. Although it’s a small town…only a mile square…there have always been LGBT bars, restaurants, and guest houses. Tony and I chose to live here. It wasn’t an accident. We even argued with a real estate agent once when she wanted to show us listings ten miles away. She finally “got” it.

One of the things I like about what I’ve read at the Papillon Center’s web page is that they focus on a holistic approach, too. If anyone has more information about it, please feel free to share.

Cities with Highest Number of Same-Sex Couples…New Hope Among Them

This was only supposed to be a one post day. But I saw this and couldn’t resist. I didn’t know I was living in a city with one of the highest numbers of same-sex couples. I just thought it was a nice little artistic town with a lot of gay people. Now I’m glad all the stress I went through nine years ago to buy this house has paid off.

Cities with highest number of same-sex couples per 1,000 people

1. Provincetown, MA: 163.1

2. Wilton Manors, FL: 139.6

3. Palm Springs, CA: 115.2

4. Rehoboth Beach, DE: 106.9

5. Guerneville, CA: 86.6

6. West Hollywood, CA: 66.7

7. Pleasant Ridge, MI: 59.6

8. New Hope, PA: 58.6

9. Rancho Mirage, CA: 57.4

10. Oakland Park, FL: 56.0

Source: The Williams Institute

Julia Child’s Local Ties to New Hope, Bucks County, PA

I’m still working on the pond. It needs hydroponic plants. But I’m in the middle of reading Julia Child’s bio this month. I posted something last week here. If you’re a fan, I can’t recommend this book more…especially if you’re a fan who was left cold by the film, Julie and Julia. (I’m reading the e-book on my Kobo look book, and the photos on the back lit screen are excellent.)

Julia led a fairly mundane life up until World War II. After that, she flew in dangerous planes, crossing dangerous territory. She lived in open huts and washed her undies out in rationed water. Ironically, food wasn’t a huge part of her early years, other than the fact that she had a ravenous appetite.

I’m at the part where she marries Paul Cushing Child. And though I’ve lived in New Hope, Bucks County, PA for almost twenty years…ten in town, nine here in my home three miles outside of town…I never knew Julia had such strong local ties to this area. Her brother-in-law, Charlie Child, who also worked in Washington with his twin brother Paul, had a home in Lumberville, which is a few miles north of New Hope. It’s still a quaint little enclave overlooking the Delaware River, where tourists from all over the world pass through. There’s even a general store.

Julia and Paul were actually married in Stockton, NJ, just over the bridge from Lumberville on September 1, 1946. But the reception was held at Charlie’s house in Lumberville. And they would return to visit Charlie and his family many times after the wedding.

When I owned my art gallery in town, I met tons of celebs passing through. Soap star Eileen Fulton bought a silver tray from me. Lanie Kazan bought a rug. Mick Jagger stopped in, Streisand passed through the door, and the artists from the New Hope school were everyday fixtures. I’ve heard stories about how Jackie Kennedy dined at The Canal House, and how Jessica Savage drowned in the Canal. But I’d never heard a thing about Julia Child. And, surprisingly, there isn’t much information about it on the web.

Pierre’s Chocolates: My Home Away From Home

Everyone has something in which they indulge. Chocolate is mine.

And I happen to live in a town with one of the best chocolate shops in the country, Pierre’s Chocolates.

It’s on the same order as Sees in San Francisco, only better for me because it’s only three miles and one quick left turn.
And there’s an online store where you can order anything you like.

Eileen Fulton: The Sweetest Celebrity I’ve Met…

For ten years, I owned and operated an art gallery in New Hope, PA, not far from my home on the outskirts of New Hope. It’s a tourist town that attracts all kinds of people from all over the country…and the world. And in the ten years I owned the gallery, I met my fair share of celebrities.

Some were clients; others were browsers. Lainie Kazan came in wearing a sweat suit and dark glasses, and Mick Jagger pulled up to the curb in a long limo. When Barbra Streisand came to town, everyone was on the lookout. Unfortunately, when she walked into my shop I was working on a manuscript for Cleis Press and I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t even know it was her until someone across the street pointed her out. Ah well.

My brother, Mark Field, owns a wonderful business in Manhattan, . His client list includes celebs like Lucy Liu, Matthew Broderick, and Danielle Steel.

But the sweetest celeb I’ve ever met was Eileen Fulton. Eileen is most famous for her role as Lisa Grimaldi on “As the World Turns,” but she is also an accomplished singer with a very excellent cabaret act. I met Eileen the first weekend she started doing her act in New Hope in the late l990’s, at Odette’s (formerly owned by Odette Myrtle, the famous Hollywood actress). She walked into my shop with her manager, Richard Barclay, and I was dumbstruck. She’s just as gorgeous as all her photos, but her southern charm calmed my nerves. Eileen was spending the weekend at the Inn next to my gallery, and she was doing four shows that weekend for a sold out crowd.

I quickly made a few phone calls and got a couple of tickets to her show. And I never do that. I’m not starstruck and at the time I was putting long hours at the gallery. But I was glad I did. The show was excellent, and Eileen Fulton made the crowd roar.

But more than that, she came back to New Hope, twice a year, for the next five years to do other shows at Odette’s. I saw them all, and never got tired of hearing her sing. And when she wasn’t rehearsing or performing, she was hanging out on the streets of New Hope, charming everyone with her endearing personality. She purchased a large sterling tray from me for her home. I liked her so much I didn’t even want to charge her. But she insisted, so I gave her a huge “friend” discount.

Unfortunately, Odette’s nightclub was lost in the last huge flood we had here in New Hope. And the owners didn’t rebuild and Eileen stopped coming to New Hope. Then I closed the gallery and started writing fiction full time instead of part time. But, Eileen is still doing her cabaret act in New York, and I’ve seen it there, too. I know she just did one in June at The Metropolitan Room, and I’m sure she’ll be doing others. I’ll post dates when I get an update from her.

Thanks, Eileen, for some wonderful memories and some nice times.