Howard has indeed “done us proud”.
We really should be grateful for all the wonderful callers who have called for us over the years. And remember that it wasn’t always like this!
How things have changed for the better in the last twenty years! “In the olden days,” Times Squares only enjoyed national callers by playing their tapes and records. Homophobia and/or fear of the unknown prevented the Bid Cats from calling for us. The came Betsy Gotta!
Following in the tradition of social responsibility set by her father (one of the first callers to actively encourage Jewish couples to join the dance, breaking the unwritten code of anti-Semitism rampant in the nation), Betsy started calling regularly for us. In recognition for her support of Gay Square Dancing, Betsy was the recipient of last year’s GOLDEN BOOT award at the IAGSDC convention.
And once the door was opened, other callers worked up the courage to start calling for same sex couples. Don’t forget: those were the days when straight couples usually wore “twin-look” western garb, making it a lot easier for callers to recognize who was whose partner. To suddenly be confronted with a floor of same gendered couples, many of whom kept change “roles” during the evening, presented a significant new challenge for callers.
Praises be: homophobia is no longer sanctioned in the larger square dance community and we regularly have some of the best callers in the word at our dances.
For example, did you know that Mike Jacobs is the Chairman of the Board for Callerlab, the largest and most influential association of square dance caller in the word. Todd Fellegy, Anne Ueberlacker, Saundra Bryant, Ben Rubright, John Marshall, Ron Libby, Lee Kopman, Vick Ceder, Barry Clasper, Deborah Parnell Carroll, Lloyd Sparks, Ed Foote, and … and … and … – are among the international callers who have shaped the word of square dancing as we know and love it – and called for us.
Among the big cats, not to forget our own home-grown cubs – Nick Martellacci, Howard Richman and Geo Jedlicka – who qualify as international callers too.
Geo, regularly calling at the highest levels for those clubs here and I Europe who can field C-4 dancers; Howard, on stage at The Met; and then there is Nick.
Many of you who started dancing under Nick’s tutelage may not yet appreciate how incredibly gifted he is – not only as a teacher, but as a choreographer and performer. We have every right to be proud of our pride of Kings and Queens.
This is the last in our series on drag in Times Squares. View previous article.
A dress code has been adopted by the Board of Directors, with input from interested members of the club. On behalf of those who cross dress, Antonio reported that they will not wear drag where the Club is being represented publicly, including the Gay Pride parade and the Grand march at the annual convention. They would like to wear drag at regular club meetings and Club socials. The Board unanimously agreed.
I’m not into wearing drag. And so, I don’t do it. But there are a few of our club members that (thank goodness) do. So often they are ridiculed for it and I guess that’s the price they pay for being outrageous. Still, their outrageousness ignites a spark of gaiety in our bunch of squares. It’s my thought that we gay men and women could benefit from encouraging and supporting those who share their harmless fun of dressing up.
As much as I would like lesbians in our club (so other women will feel more comfortable) I feel that that is their choice to make. (Editor’s note: Pete is referring to the lesbian organization that was looking into joining our club, but decided against it when they saw some members in drag at the parade.) If they accept us for what we are – GREAT! If they don’t – who needs them anyway? We don’t need militant dykes that love to fag bash. Then there is this creep who for whatever reason was going to donate some money to our cause, but the poor thing had a change of heart because one of our muscle-bound girls was mentioned in a city newspaper.
What’s up dude – are you jealous?
Our number of dress-ups are minimal. So many homosexuals lose their jobs or seek less paying jobs just to be free to be who they are. Are we to sell ourselves dead city to please some jerk with big bucks because he doesn’t enjoy associating himself with drags? How far will this go? Will some heterosexual sponsor OUR GAY CLUB as long as we don’t do-sa-do with the same sex? I feel sick! My stomach turns at the thought that money would override our right to be. Why don’t we all just join a straight square dance club where we can be assured that those who dress up are biological women?
I heard tell that less than a hand count showed up to march with us in female attire and were criticized for doing so. I’m shocked that even a hint of negative thought was judged against them on the day that was supposedly our proudest day of all. And I though t fish was stinky.
Where is the BOARD in their duties of protecting these MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING’S dignity? Why don’t I hear them sneering at those who would stomp all over us? It is so difficult for many of us to come out of our closets – and finally when we do, some along with their sister’s high heels and their mother’s bag and pearls … are we to abandon them?
To our ladies of the mustache persuasion – I’ll defend your honor. I hope I’m not alone. If the world sees you belles as an exact representation of us – so be it. We know we don’t all dress up, but the ignorance of the world at large doesn’t have to be ours.
Luv Ya Gals!
In lieu of Gay Pride, while parading
Some members preferred masquerading.
In The Times, they expressed
That they weren’t overdressed.
But to others, it seemed quite degrading.
This issue of the newsletter is full of commentary about the issue of drag within the Times Squares. Since my profession is advertising and public relations, I thought a few of my thoughts on the subject might be appropriate.
The Gay Pride Parade is our community’s single most visible public relations display to the world at large each year. The media loves to show pictures of men dressed as women, or as butterflies, or as anything other than what appears to be “normal” people; these images are more colorful, provoking and in general make for much better press than reporting that, for the 19th year in a row, 100,000 “normal-looking” people, who happen to be gay, went marching down Fifth Avenue to show that they are everywhere and want to be accepted by society for what they are – normal, productive, valuable human beings with a right to their place in society without fear of hatred, prejudice, violence or death on account of their sexual orientation. And let’s not lose sight of the goals of the ”gay liberation movement”. The gay movement is a movement looking to achieve acceptance for our community by society regardless of our sexual orientation, not to reinforce society’s rejection of us.
From a public relations point of view, those who appear in women’s drag, leather drag, or any other ‘outrageous” form of costume play in the desire of the media to portray our community as a bunch of “freaks’ and ‘queers”. Does this mean that no one should appear in the parade in this fashion? As much as the public relations man in me wants to say “yes.” The civil rights activist in me says “no”. Who are we, who have suffered so much as a result of trying to make our true natures conform to the constraints of “straight” society, to demand that our brothers and sisters in the gay community now conform to a dress code so as not to offend the sensibilities of that same society?
On the other hand, my perception is that none of our members is clinically a “transvestite,” which calls into question whether or not we are truly dealing with a “civil rights” issue in this situation. Drag is used in our club for laughs and for a good time at our own affairs. What we must address here are two issues: 1) assuming that we are not defending the civil rights of any clinical transvestite to live out his (or her) true nature shouldn’t those of our members who dress is drag “for a laugh” be more conscious of the appropriate times and places for these laughs and be more sensitive to the possible media and image repercussions of drag when at such a public media circus as the Gay Pride Parade, and 2) does the Times Squares as an organization have any right whatsoever to determine its own public image – both within and outside of our own community – or is the organization ‘s image always to be determined by the whims of any individual member at any time regardless of the desires of the majority of its members?
Many of our members have strongly objected to drag at public functions in the aftermath of this year’s parade. Should those of our members who wish to march in drag be told that the club does not wish to project this image to the community at large, and that if they wish to appear in drag in the parade, there are other places in the line of march where such attire would be more welcome? I don’t claim to know what the desires of the club’s majority is, but perhaps the board should put the question of drag at public functions to a vote of the entire membership just to ascertain the feeling of the club members about these two central questions.
The reprinted articles in February will revisit the responses we had as a club around the issue of drag and how we were perceived my the straight community as a result of an article about the 1988 Pride Parade in the New York Times excerpted here:
“A bearded man calling himself Virginia Hamm, wearing a blond wig, a pink dress, pink gloves and white high-heeled shoes, marched with the Times Squares, a New York square dancing organization.
Was he overdressed for a parade?
“Only if it rains,” he said.
After scattered showers in the morning, the afternoon was hot and hazy, and it didn’t rain on his parade.”
Read the next article.
I was deeply disturbed by the tenor of the announcements delivered at club night last evening. Taking the lead from the movement slogan “SILENCE=DEATH,” I feel I must speak out on the issues raised last evening.
If conformity were a prime value of gay people, there would be no gay movement. Those who would have our members be more conformist should just as well send us back to Iowa, Texas Georgia, Montana and all of the other places from which we have fled conformity and bigotry to be able to live our lives as who we truly are.
The themes of tolerance, acceptance and respect for diversity and individual differences are not only at the foundation of the gay movement but at the foundations of this nation. If we begin by actively discouraging “drag” in our club because some people are offended, then other activities with which we feel at home in our club may also be discouraged. Will we be told that leather is unacceptable; that kissing is unacceptable at club functions’ that hand holding and embracing while not dancing is unacceptable? Where might this end? If conformity is so highly valued, why do we, as gay people form our own clubs? Why don’t we just join “straight” clubs?
Those who are quick to express their displeasure with drag are likely to always find causes for their displeasure. Those who would not join the Times Squares because of drag activities or any other characteristic of the club do not really want to dance with us and are probably not the kinds of people who would assist the club in growing and flourishing
I also feel the need to stress that announcements of a serious nature need to be carefully considered and thoughtfully worded. They should be expressed by peers to peers without hostility or condescension. In communications, both style and substance are important if significant issues are to be discussed without divisive effects on the club.
We are fortunate to have a large club with a wide diversity of members. This diversity should be cherished and nurtured.
F. William Chickering
Consistent styling makes the flow of our dancing so much smoother. It’s the difference between dancing and just walking through random patterns.
As a club, we have been dancing sloppily of late (and not so of late). Sometimes it seems as though we are more concerned about getting in the maximum number of twirls, claps, stomps, etc., than in ending up in the correct position at an appropriate distance from one another.
One of the things that happens frequently is that we end up with our square spread out or our line ragged, or our columns all over the place, or our waves looking like a hurricane just passed through. This may, just possible, have something to do with BREAKING DOWN.
Everyone needs to know where you need to be in relation to the other seven dancers in the square. There is a certain precision to square dancing that at times has been missing in our dancing.
KEEP THOSE SQUARES TIGHT!
Good words from our own “Bossy Betty”.
Having been nominated for the “Bossy Betty Award” for several years running, the following words of encouragement from A Ceder Chest of C-3 Square Dance Definitions by Vic and Debbie Ceder apply to me as well as a few other Times Squares members, both in classes and at dances:
Being a good dancer has nothing to do with level. It has more to do with being a good team member. Dance your part and allow the others to dance their part. A truly good dancer will wait until the last moment … before offering help if necessary. Please don’t be the obnoxious dancer who must help every other dancer in the square whether or not they need it.
The truly important things are the ones we learn after we know it all.