Wednesday, December 30, 2015



A happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to all.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


(Note in a travel guide: "Here in Naxos, the village, as is true of all the [Greek] islands, is to be found atop the highest mountain peak.")

Why did they come here, here to this barren, unyielding mountain top? The cliffs are so steep. How did they get here? Which leader of which seafaring tribe called out: "Here we shall settle. Disembark. Bring your tools. Climb the mountain after me. Here shall we be safe from pirates from the shore below. Here shall we build our lives and bear our children"?

                                                                 ---Velma Jean Robinson Reeb

Reeb, a former resident of Manhattan's Upper West Side, now resides in Portland, Oregon. For a brief time, she and her son lived in Greece.

Merry Christmas to all the readers of this blog!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015



Last week I visited the Steven Kasher Gallery on 26th Street, in the Chelsea section of Manhattan to view the photographs Thomas Roma took in the Vale of Cashmere, a gay cruising section of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The photos are featured in his coffee table book, In the Vale of Cashmere. I hope to write more about what I saw at the exhibit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Alex Haley's Proposed Musical

In Alex Haley and the Books That Changed A Nation (St. Martin's Press, 2015), Robert J. Norrell has written that during the time Haley (1921-1992) was preparing The Autobiography of Malcolm X for publication, he "had an idea for a musical about black life, which he called 'The Way.' In 1961," continued Norrell,"Haley had gotten to know Lena Horne, who had starred in Cabin in the Sky, and Haley's musical bore some similarities to that film. Haley's musical would be set in a cosmetics factory run  by a black executive who was surrounded by several stereotyped characters, including a hipster, a white racist, and a black racist. Alternating black and white choruses would sing 'Camptown Races,' with the black group performing spirituals in black dialect. [Paul] Reynolds [Haley's literary agent] called the idea 'very, very interesting.'"

How long before some Broadway producer will learn of Haley's proposed musical and want to put it on the stage? And what will the public and the critics say about it once that happens? Will black audiences see it as an embarrassing minstrel show or a hard-hitting and insightful lampooning of race relations in America? Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Homophobic Buffoonery At ATLAH Church

One word accurately describes both the weather and Rev. James David Manning's attitude toward the "Love Not Hate" demonstrators outside the ATLAH Church in Harlem on November 23--chilly.

For months  the church's outdoor message board carried homophobic rants like the one on display that evening--"YOU SODOMITES AND FREAKS HAVE SOILED HARLEM. BUT YE SHALL BE MOVED. PAYBACK IS A  BITCH."

As the ethnically and racially diverse demonstrators held anti-hate signs aloft, Rev. Manning , standing inside the church 's gate, under the watchful eye of the police, an open Bible in one hand, a microphone in the other, railed against his opponents. Next to him stood a handful of his congregants, silent witnesses to the high emotions on both sides of the gate.

For a while it was impossible to hear what he was saying because his voice was drowned out by the protestors shouting "Shame on You!" and "Love, Not Hate!"

A flyer was distributed among the 75 or 80 demonstrators that told them if Rev. Manning "responds to our rally in an aggressive and/or insulting manner, DO NOT ENGAGE HIM. LEAVE HIM BE. We don't want to give  ATLAH any of video of  'clash' [sic] they crave for their own purposes." But the demonstrators could not resist confronting Rev. Manning's open hostility. Especially when he called one female protestor "a witch" and beckoned to another one with "Come here, lesbo. Come here, lesbo." During all of this a male demonstrator sang We Shall Overcome. Rev. Manning mocked him by saying "Niggers are always singing We Shall Overcome." The demonstrator ignored him and kept on singing.

Rev. Manning's buffoonish behavior revealed him as unchristian and undignified. It made me wonder about the character of those who chose to join his church of hate.

An obviously unrepentant and unenlightened Rev. Manning now boasts on the message board that "NOVEMBER 23 [IS] A DAY TO REMEMBER WHEN JESUS VERBALLY STONED THE SODOMITES THAT ATTACKED ATLAH CHURCH."

What he fails to see is that his messages of hate have won the "Love Not Hate" rally organizers allies. Along Lenox Avenue some merchants have posted in their windows a blood-red "Love Not Hate" poster.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Real People

The following essay is by Leonard Green, a gay syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and political strategist. He is the publisher and editor of The Right Angle, a conservative newsletter.

When an effeminate man or a masculine woman walks down the street heads turn. People assume they are gay. Some are not. Those who are gay face discrimination and ridicule not only in the straight world but also in the gay community. Historically effeminate gay men and masculine lesbians have taken the heat while many lesbians and gays have been in the closet. They have suffered physical and verbal abuse while on the front line fighting for our rights. But instead of seeing them as heroes and heroines, we attempt to disregard them.

Masculine gay men and effeminate lesbians are threatened by them. Those lesbians and gays whose sexuality is not obvious feel they project the wrong image. They argue that these non-traditional behaviors misrepresent the gay community and makes it difficult for gays and lesbians to be accepted.

Like many heterosexuals, "straight-acting" homosexuals assume effeminate men are attempting to be women and masculine lesbians are attempting to be men. Michael Sainte-Andress, a seasoned activist, says they "are living a fantasy." Sainte-Andress, who is effeminate, says, "Anytime you are outside the reality of what you are, it's a fantasy. I have lived a fantasy for a large portion of my life by choice and understand the ramifications. People can live fantasies but [must] prepare to accept the consequences."

Contrary to this attitude, many are merely being themselves. Some are pretending but so are some "macho gay men" and "lipstick lesbians." Curtis, a 31-year-old personnel analyst who does not want his last name identified, says "I'm sure in every gay man's lifestyle, beyond closed doors or with a bunch of friends, they may do and say feminine things. But it's kind of like I'm performing. When I'm out in public, this is where it stops." Many gays and lesbians refuse to associate with them in public. To do so would painfully remind them that they are connected by the same common thread."I don't have anything against them," says Curtis, " but that is a group I keep a distance from. In a large gathering I will associate with them and maybe in conversation. But I will not get involved with them because of society's roles."

When choosing a mate, many "straight-acting" gays and lesbians overlook effeminate men or masculine women because they do not consider them "real" men and women. They also fear that involvement with them will cause people to assume or wonder whether they too are gay. Fortunately, some gays and lesbians understand the danger of condemning others. Cherisse Gardner, 34, says, "I have a couple of cousins who are effeminate men. I know better than to criticize them. They are different." She adds, "If you catch me out in a dress and heels, I feel I'm in drag even though I'm a woman."

Activists talk about hate crimes, domestic partnership, the repeal of sodomy laws, and homophobia, but they seldom discuss discrimination against effeminate men and masculine women, many of whom are excluded from social circles. Many are denied employment and other opportunities, even by gays and lesbians who feel they do not fit the proper corporate image. "Black gay men should not discriminate against feminine people," says Sainte-Andress. He suggests that those who do should be given "a mind injection that would propel them to think differently."

We must recognize the tremendous value of our community. We should not be limited by stereotypical attitudes about male and female behavior. We must not condemn each other in our quest for acceptance.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Visit To Poros

I am beginning to understand the young college woman [my son] Joey and I met in Poros. She has haunted my imagination. She was there and could not leave nor could she (did she wish to) learn the language. She was protected, accepted, and safe. The Porosians gibed her for not making more of an effort to learn Porosian Greek and for wishing to sleep with her door open to relieve the heat at night.

She was a lovely girl and sat all day at the coffee house where George, the proprietor and her boyfriend, picked up some English from her. She said she wanted to return--rather, felt impelled to return--to Connecticut, home and college the next autumn, but for now was content to sit on Poros.

I remember her lovely long black hair, beautiful eyes, and chubby figure. So young, so wise, and perhaps, so weary. She'd come to Poros in the spring--at Easter time when a solitary re-colored egg is given one and all to commemorate grandly the Resurrection, and she had never left.

Two or three ferry boats came by daily; otherwise, nothing happened on Poros, sun and sea eternally. I often wonder if she ever left and how she feels if she did not--and how, if she did. Surely, she came in search of a family, this child from Upper Exurbia, New England, and she found a ready one. But she was silent, except to speak with American and French tourists, only to guide them to rooms or restaurants.

George spoke "hallow" and "Go right on block. Ask for manager." He was proud of his English, very Greek, dark, black-eyed, and lean. He had a not-disgruntled, but rather sinewy, stern quality about him. He disliked and at the same time depended upon the seasonal tourist trade. A young man bred of Poros. Closed-in, trying hard to keep out the world that had found his island, loving by night a lovely dark-haired American girl, keeping her in check by day, at once proud of and a little afraid of this stranger from across the sea, sharing all there is without many words.

                                                                             ---Velma Jean Robinson Reeb

Reeb, a former resident of Manhattan's Upper West Side, now resides in Portland, Oregon. For a brief time she and her son Joey lived in Greece.

                                                                   * * *

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. As you may know, in 1941, Japanese war planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sinking ships and killing and injuring many American sailors. This led to the United States entering World War II.

Saturday, December 5, 2015



December marks the seventh anniversary of this blog. I plan to post a lot of new content in 2016.

Thursday, December 3, 2015