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Lighting A Candle

June 13, 2016

Once again, today’s post has been preempted. I’ll bring this post around to food, it is a food blog after all. Please just be patient.

Last night Hamilton did gangbusters at the Tony Awards. Lin-Manuel Miranda presented a sonnet in lieu of an acceptance speech. Just in case you didn’t see it, or just in case this link fails at some point down the road, I took the liberty of transcribing his words. Why? Because last night, this was just what I needed to hear to shake me from my cynicism and growing detachment at each new horror of our modern age.

My wife’s the reason anything gets done
She nudges me towards promise by degrees
She is a perfect symphony of one
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.

We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless act of tragedy remind us
that nothing here is promised, not one day.

This show is proof that history remembers
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall, and light from dying embers,
remembrances that hope and love lasts longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story.
Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.

Ok. Music and Love, I’ve got covered. Pride is going to need some work. But I’ve got a plan for that.

You can go and get political somewhere else. No matter what the motive, identity of the attacker, or tools of destruction, this was an unspeakable act of violence upon the gay community. Hopefully, that’s a statement everyone can agree upon.

And the gay community is important to me. Admittedly, it wasn’t always on my radar. When I was younger, homosexuality was more in the shadows. Or at least it was to me as a kid in the 70s. Heck, I didn’t even realize when I was roller skating around to Freddy Mercury belting out, “another one bites the dust” that the front man for a band called Queen might possibly be gay.

I was a product of my time and place.

But when I was working in San Francisco, gay was the air we breathed. It was an eye-opening experience. There was no separating the gay community from the community as a whole. And it was a life enriching experience. I worked for, with, and around gay people of all stripes, colors, and backgrounds.

Stereotypes were smashed. Eyes were opened. And everyday exposure led to the simple fact that gay life looks pretty much exactly like non-gay life. Over time, I forgot that hating people because they were gay was even a thing.

Then I moved to Albany, stumbled upon the fag bug, and remembered that not everywhere was so open minded.

Fortunately, there is an active gay community in the Capital Region, and it intersects with many aspects of my life. There are gay parents at the kids’ schools, gay participants in the Yelp community, gay members of our temple, gay friends and colleagues, and so on. I’m proud that gay couples can now be married in New York. I’m proud to be teaching my kids about the universality of love, and that they are growing up to view all families as equal.

Which is why I think it’s important to bring them to tonight’s candlelight vigil at six o’clock in Albany’s West Capitol Park. Is it going to be hard? You bet. But these are critical conversations to have with kids. And frankly, I’d rather my children hear what’s going on in the world through me, instead of on the bus.

Oh, and food? Right.

Well, I’m sure there are a lot of gay owned and operated restaurants and bars in the area. Not all of them make themselves so well known. But Matt Baumgartner certainly does. He owns Bombers, Wolff’s Biergarten, and The Olde English. Back in 2012 he was listed by advocate.com as being one of 40 under 40 young leaders in the community. Plus, he’s a really great guy.

So either before or after the vigil, I’ll take the kids to one of his places for something to eat. Sure, they are fairly bar-centric, but my children know how to behave.

I’ll leave it up to them if they are feeling more in the mood for sausages, beans, or fish and chips. Mrs. Fussy may have to work, but I’m sure she’ll be there in spirit. Please consider lending your own light to the vigil. Because the small act of showing up, is a big deal.

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