NY Mirror

But the whopper issue, naturally, has been Sacrament-gate—you know, the dangerous lives of altar boys—a crisis that became an excuse for the church to bash gays one more time with a sledgehammer made out of crushed rosary beads. As the situation turned into a modern-day revival of The Crucible—but with most of the screaming accusers telling the truth—officials in gowns reacted by targeting homosexuality (and the media) as evil, forgetting that their own intolerance, denial, and insistence on the closet may have fanned the flames of hell. At one point, the Vatican went so far as to suggest that gays shouldn't be allowed into the clergy anymore—as if thatwouldn't lead to an empty cathedral. Excuse me, but while there are many self-loathing offenders here, gay doesn't equal boy-snatcher any more than church always equals accepting. One thing's clear, though: When it comes to policies and priorities, the church needs an even more massive overhaul than the FBI.

Things got even more absurd when, at the height of the insanity, the Vatican put out an edict criticizing stars like Cherfor wearing jewel-studded crucifixes. Shouldn't they be thrilledthat celebs are making the holy image massively visible? Publicist Liz Rosenbergshot back brilliantly with "Why don't you tell the pope to clean up his own house?" I guess John Paul IIwants to pick and choose exactly who can wear the cross and with what outfit. Not surprisingly, he hasn't exactly gotten behind the campaign to canonize Father Mychal Judge, the 9-11 hero who was gay and apparently not ashamed of it. I suspect even I'llbe named Saint Mychal before he is.

But the real martyrs continue to be people with AIDS, and though the accepted line these days is that the illness is more manageable, you should go tell my friend how manageable it is—the one who keeps having to be rushed to the hospital with all sorts of infections and disabilities. Go tell all the people with sunken cheeks, their facial wasting acting as a banner that screams, "I've got it." When it comes to AIDS, it's still 1981 in too many ways.

Oh, we may not live an unhappy and old-fashioned lifestyle, but we still have a long way to go, people—and the best example of that is the fact that I've barely mentioned lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and the intersex community. "Hello, kettle! It's pot!" (Laugh track, please.)

Happy Gay Day.


musto@villagevoice.com

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