Today is a day of celebration. Across this great country of ours, people from all walks of life will plop down before a backdrop of fireworks and take great pleasure in the consumption of hot dogs, baked beans and coleslaw. But in the midst of their rampant reveling, many will do as they do at Christmas and forget the real meaning of this holiday: celebrating the fact that we live in the world’s greatest country – indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Right.
After watching local or national news or reading any recent edition of The New York Times one might beg to differ. Even the feature stories in today’s NYT seem to suggest that America is taking giant leaps backward: a story on the paintings of Normal Rockwell subtitled “Harmony and Freckles for Tough Times,” a letter from a mom concerned about swear words her daughter’s friend is posting on Facebook, and an article on heterosexual dating trends that completely sidesteps gays and lesbians (fondue dates are so yesterday; today’s heterosexuals get to know one another over lobster rolls). But just when I thought I must have been reading the 1955 issue, I was whisked back to the present by the wedding announcements. Typically littered with blurbs and photos of multi-million dollar heterosexual marriages, today’s section opened with two large color photos and a half-page article on the wedding of furniture mogul Mitchell Gold and Tim Scofield (pictured). It was a refreshing reminder of the fact that while our country appears to be stuck in reverse, things are also moving forward. Once again, we see the remote chance for the possibility of hope.
When I read the feature story on this wedding, part of me rejoiced because there was once a time when I thought I’d never see something like this in The New York Times. But another part of me had a knee-jerk reaction: It’s still not enough. It’s not enough until all newspapers adopt this practice. It’s not enough until there are legitimate same-sex weddings in every state. It’s not enough until the AGMC can, in good faith, remove the G from its name because it’s outdated. Until such time, however, we sing. We sing in the universal language of music. We sing for our freedom. We sing because speaking is not enough.
Oh, Kevin, don’t wax so political here. It’s the music of The Beatles.
Yes, it is. And one can’t help but draw parallels when you consider that, just as The Beatles were at the peak of their career, we were beginning a revolution of our own – one that is still underway four decades later. The music and lyrics of The Beatles are timeless; seldom was either confined by the era in which they were written. In fact, many say that together they defined an era that culminated, at least for us, with the Stonewall Riots. Perhaps the best example of why we’re singing this music can be found in the lyrics of “Revolution”:
But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is, brother, you’ll have to wait.
Expressions like this take on a slightly different meaning when we sing them (especially references to the Constitution and “the institution”), but Paul McCartney would tell you that however you interpret the message, one thing is certain: We all want to change the world.
Next weekend, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus will do its part and embark on a journey not only of The Beatles’ greatest hits, but of the soul of their music. I believe we’ve woven the arrangements and the action of this piece into something significant. And while our modest production may not possess the glitz and glam of Cirque du Soleil, it is full of life and speaks from the heart, providing real comfort in difficult times – comfort that goes way beyond the freckled faces of Norman Rockwell.
Yeah, it’s gonna be alright.