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Funny Business

By Kevin Isom

I've learned to avoid depressive types in my dating relationships. My ex was so depressive that he was offered his own sitcom--Suddenly Sad. (Before I get letters from mental health advocates, I should explain that there was a happy ending, titled Pepped Up on Prozac.) I typically defend myself against sadness the best way I know how -- a good laugh. Because if you look closely enough, even the saddest things have a silver lining -- with a joke inside as the free prize.

You think I'm kidding? Let's try something really sad. How about Matthew Shepard? His scumbag killers went to a lot of trouble just so they could wear matching orange jumpsuits. If only straight men could accessorize... Or Princess Diana? Instead of staying at the Ritz, she said, "No, I think I'll just crash with Dodi." Or Presidential assassination? "And aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

See what I mean? You can usually find something funny, even if you have to twist and turn a bit. And there are a few things in the news lately that fit that category, from all around the world.

For one thing, there is the recent the crack-down on homosexuals reported in Egypt. Yes, the country with some of the world's biggest rocks has been arresting homosexuals, most recently a group of 52 men arrested in a raid on a floating gay night club in the Nile. Apparently, Egyptian police have way too much time on their hands. Mind you, homosexuality is taboo--but not illegal--in Egypt, so the men are being tried under a law passed to counter Muslim militant violence. (Note to self: Cancel all planned trips to Egypt. Moral dilemma: My grandfather was Arabic. Should I return the DNA? It's slightly used, of course, though it is proof that a descendant of Arabs can be both blond AND gay.) The men on trial have all pleaded innocent of the charges, since none of the charges are anything like "being gay." And they all look pretty terrified. I can only hope that the mummy does return and knock some sense into the modern Egyptian homophobes responsible for these shenanigans.

But homophobes are not confined to Merry Olde Egypt. They exist here in great abundance, but minus the ability to arrest folks for being gay. Witness the move in the U.S. for a constitutional amendment to "protect traditional marriage." Yes, that's right. As if the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA--rhymes with COMA) weren't enough of an insult, the so-called Alliance for Marriage (sounds innocent enough, doesn't it? almost like kittens and warm mittens) is proposing a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Under this amendment to the Constitution, our most sacred of documents and the last, best defense of individual rights, marriage would be defined as only the "union of a man and a woman." All others need not apply. So in the country that is the world's greatest proponent of individual rights and liberty, gay folks couldn't ever get married. Gee, you'd think we were in Egypt. My guess is that if the straight folks behind the amendment could keep their marriages together, they wouldn't feel so threatened. Maybe we should shoot a horror movie for them set in Egypt. Instead of The Mummy, we'd call it Mummy! The Gays Are Married!

In a related item, I was on a date recently. The guy took me horseback riding, which was kind of fun, until we ran out of quarters. The place where we were riding (outside a K-Mart) was right next to the spot where the neatly uniformed Salvation Army worker collects donations at Christmas, ringing that infernal bell until you want to throw change at them just to make them shut up. But this year, that bell will go unanswered by me. Because in a gross display of cynical, behind the scenes bargaining, the Salvation Army was recently revealed to be a so-called "charity" willing to cut a deal to cut gay folks out of their rights. Yes, though the Shrub's administration denies it made a deal, the Salvation Army, as reported by the Washington Post, seems to have thought they could throw lobbying money behind George Jr.'s "faith based initiative" legislation--in exchange for an exemption from local laws protecting gay folks from discrimination. Now, that's downright ugly. Uglier than my date's behind after half an hour on Pogo, the Wonder Horse. I can tell you what I'll be putting in the Salvation Army kettles this year: copies of my donations to gay groups, with "Nah, nah, nah!" written across the top.

So despite some of the mean-spirited stuff in the news lately, there's always room for funny business. (My motto: Don't get sad. Get even. It's much more satisfying.) And I've a feeling that laughter always wins out in the end.

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Kevin Isom is the author of It Only Hurts When I Polka. He may be reached at http://kevinisom.freeyellow.com or isomonline@aol.com.


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