Tag Archives: lesbian

Film Trivia

Most of the interior shots for the indie film Pieces of April (which stars Katie Holmes, who is just so pretty, and also quite a good actress) were filmed in David’s old building on Suffolk Street several years after the period during which Holding Breath takes place.  (The filmmakers managed to find an even seedier-looking building for the exterior shots, although I don’t know why they bothered.)  Watching the film the first time, I was just about falling out of my chair, looking to see if I would get a glimpse of the door to David’s apartment one more time.  I didn’t, but the hallway hadn’t changed at all, and I was glad of that (the current tenants may feel differently).

In the book, I also mention that the building was up the street from what was at the time a lesbian bar called Meow Mix.  Kevin Smith’s film Chasing Amy (one of Ben Affleck’s first) was shot there; my husband, Lorenzo, worked as the still photographer and I was an extra. In one scene you can see me and my best friend from childhood, Claudia Koeze, as part of an audience of women rapturously watching Joey Lauren Adams singing onstage (we must have been excellent actresses, as Ms. Adams was one of the rudest and most arrogant women I’ve ever come across in “real life”, and rapture–sapphic or not–was definitely not what I would have been feeling while watching her perform).  At the end of the film, in the scene at the comic-book convention, Lorenzo strides through in a momentary close-up.  It was strange to be involved in the surreal process of making a low-budget film, just doors down from the place where, a few short years earlier, I’d spent possibly the most surreal (yet very real) and intense eight months of my life.

The Lower East Side is a small world, cinematically speaking.

An afterthought: I don’t like to trash people, particularly people about whom I know next-to-nothing, so as far as Joey Lauren Adams is concerned I should say that at the time she was very young, and probably–as most people would be–a little carried away with herself and the idea that she was the star of a film, and maybe stressed out by the whole ridiculous process of making a movie.  She may otherwise be a very nice person, and may also have matured over the years (I was no doubt quite different at the time too).

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This is What I Want, Too…

I just came across this on a friend’s Facebook page, and knew I had to post it here.  It’s by a woman named Zoe Leonard, an artist and member of the collective Fierce Pussy, which is also associated with Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).  To be honest, I’d never heard of her before today (although I’d certainly heard of Act Up back in the days when I worked with people with HIV/AIDS in New York), but when I read this quote I felt that it had to be a part of this blog:

“I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no airconditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemployed and layed off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.”

I’m with you, Zoe.

A (Somewhat) Different Kind of Grief

As I said, I don’t want to post too many excerpts from Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days here, and the one that follows will be the last (the book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TV4CE6).  However, what I’ve written about here is a very important part of the book; when I learned about what “disenfranchised grief” is (the definition here is by Kathleen R. Gilbert, Professor and Associate Dean at Indiana University, and is the best one I’ve come across), it finally explained to me why the grief I’d suppressed to a great extent after David passed away came back to hit me like a hurricane sixteen years later.  It may be useful to others who experienced losses in similarly “unacceptable” relationships, so I wanted to post it for them:

“Nor did I have any idea that there was a name for what I’d somehow believed was peculiar to me, and that, especially in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, there were many people who had found themselves in the same position.  The term for it is ‘disenfranchised grief’; I don’t remember how I came across the definition online, but reading it gave me, for the first time, an understanding that at least I wasn’t alone in my transgression of the rules, and that I could perhaps at least start to forgive myself for prematurely laying my grief aside and moving on at the time:

Disenfranchised grief is the result of a loss for which they do not have a socially recognized right, role or capacity to grieve. These socially ambiguous losses are not or cannot be openly mourned, or socially supported. Essentially, this is grief that is restricted by “grieving rules” ascribed by the culture and society. The bereaved may not publicly grieve because, somehow, some element or elements of the loss prevent a public recognition.

Some of those “elements” might include a “relationship that is not socially recognized” (for example, partners in a lesbian or gay relationship), or a manner of death considered to be “fault” of the deceased (AIDS, suicide, drug overdose, etc.), or the simple fact that the deceased was not the legal spouse of the person left behind…

The description continues:

Because of the lack of social recognition, disenfranchised grief is a hidden grief and this “hiddenness” can paradoxically increase the reaction to loss…It can intensify feelings of anger, guilt and/or powerlessness, thus resulting in a more complicated grief response. Rituals may be absent or the grievers may be excluded from rituals…

Disenfranchised grief may lay hidden for years, only to be triggered by later losses…

That about covers it, doesn’t it? There were all manner of bereavement support groups around at that time, but none, as far as I know, were for AIDS Caseworkers Who Fell in Love With Their Drug-Addict Clients. There wouldn’t even be a good acronym that you could make up for that.”

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