I spent the weekend in Cleveland and Cincinnati and it was amazing. Even though some devastating things happened on November 4th, Barack Obama still won, and as I watched the election along with everyone else that day, when I saw that Ohio went for Obama, I said â€œYes!!! We got this!!â€ so I wanted to thank Ohio for this great victory. They had a lot to do with it.
In Cleveland, Jessie (our killer merchandise diva with the fuschia locks â€“ if youâ€™ve been to one of the â€œBeautifulâ€ shows â€“ you know her) and I visited the rock and roll hall of fame, because since I am a musician, it is just one of those things that musicians do. Oh, you didnâ€™t know I was a musician? Yeah. I have been a musician for about 3 days. Well, actually, I got an electric guitar a couple of weeks ago, but I havenâ€™t done much except pose with it in front of the mirror. I didnâ€™t actually start playing til Thursday. Maybe that should be my band name, Til Thursday. We are kind of like Til Tuesday, but just later in the week.
I was asked to perform at an anti-Prop 8 rally on the big international day of protest â€“ November 15 â€“ in Cincinnati, and I thought I should write a protest song for it. The fact that there is now a ban on gay marriage just kills my spirit, hurts my heart. I was deputized as a marriage commissioner in San Francisco in June, and I got to marry a gay couple and a lesbian couple at city hall, and it was such an honor and a blessing, and we all wept through the entire thing. It was one of the greatest things I had ever experienced, and the fact that the state considers those unions now against the law just destroyed me emotionally. Momentarily, I lost my will to fight, and I desperately wanted to get it back, and music was the only answer.
I got an acoustic guitar on Wednesday, wrote the song on Thursday, with help from my brother in law, Eric, who is a musician â€“ cuz that is who musicians hang out with, other musicians. Then I practiced for about 32 hours in a row to get ready for Saturday. On the plane I did air guitar like strumming and made the chords with my hands. In my hotel room I played the song so many times I am surprised I was not bodily removed from the premises. I tried it out on the Cleveland crowd on Friday, and they seemed to think it was ok, so I was ready for my big protest singing debut at the rally.
We drove from Cleveland to Cincinnati early on Saturday morning as icy rain pelted down all of I-71, and Liam Sullivan (Kelly) pointed out a sign next to the highway. It said “HELL IS REAL”. I guess it must have been nearby, but the sign didnâ€™t say what exit. If it is real, then they should have some more detailed directions!
We got to city hall and there were hundreds of people there, which is a lot considering that it was freezing cold and fucking raining!!! But tons of people were there with signs and everything. I stood on the steps of city hall and I got out my guitar. My hands were shaking from the cold and also the sheer nerves of having to play guitar in front of people! It was scary. I am not one for stage fright. I have been a standup comic for almost a quarter of a century (gasp), and I am real blasÃ© about the whole thing. Talking in front of people is no big deal. Iâ€™m fucking talking, there are people there. Whatever. Public speaking is supposed to be scary, but I have been doing it longer than I have not been doing it, so I am used to it and I just take it for granted like the fucking ingrate that I am. But playing music, that is something else. Wow â€“ I was really nervous. I was like my big dog Ralph when he goes to the vet, all shaking and salivating and trying to back out the front door, like no one will notice if he is walking backwards because he is still looking everyone in the eye, or the crotch, or whatever is dog level. I wanted to put my snout in someoneâ€™s elbow, like if I couldnâ€™t see it, it wasnâ€™t happening.
They introduced me, and I fumbled with the guitar for a bit. I got all scared that somewhere between me taking it out of my gig bag â€“ yeah that is a musicianâ€™s term for a bag that you bring to the gig â€“ your gig bag â€“ I got all worried that in the few seconds that it was out of the gig bag, that it would go out of tune. I managed to get the strap and get the guitar in front of me semi-correctly. Then, I started to play, and miraculously, the song I wrote just came out of me and I know I messed up some chords but nobody seemed to mind much. It was the spirit of the thing, you know? At the end everyone was singing the chorus with me â€œShove Proposition 8 up their ass!â€ and it felt really great.
I was so proud that so many turned out to protest the gay marriage ban in California â€“ in Ohio!!! That so many all around the world stood up for California that day was overwhelming. I was getting texts from friends all over the place with pictures and reports from their local rallies. I’m gonna write â€œthis machine kills fascistsâ€ on the back of my blackberry.
Photos by Amanda Ralston. Thanks Amanda!
Video by missronierho: