Guidelines to Gay Manners for Today

June 25, 2011 The New York Times/The Bay Citizen

As gay people and issues have become more visible on the American landscape, social etiquette has been scrambling to catch up.

People may differ on the issue of gay marriage, but who wants to argue about a seating chart for a same-sex wedding? And those pesky pronouns? How should one address those whose gender preference has not been made explicit?

Enter the brave new world of gay and lesbian etiquette. This month saw the publication of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners” (Workman Publishing), a 400-page tome covering a broad range of modern issues, like coming out as transgender to your date, etiquette on sperm donation day and surviving holidays with homophobic in-laws.

When Mr. Petrow wrote “The Essential Book of Gay Manners and Etiquette” for gay men 16 years ago, online dating, “The L Word” and same-sex civil unions or marriage were not around. “It was like 1,600 years ago in gay years,” he said. “It was a different world in terms of community, technology and our legal status.” (more)

The Night the Music Died. Really.

June 10, 2011 The New York Times/The Bay Citizen

Chamber music concerts rarely elicit reactions more raucous than polite applause, but last Sunday, an artistic melee more appropriate for a Metallica show broke out at The Royce Gallery in San Francisco after a heckler interrupted a viola performance. 

Video still of JHNO's viola in flight.  Courtesy, John Eichenseer.
Adding to the drama was the identity of the heckler, who turned out to be an 85-year-old highly regarded musician.

About midway through a night of contemporary works, John Eichenseer, who goes by the name JHNO, was performing his “Untitled,” a new piece for viola and electronics, when he heard hissing, then an outburst of clapping intended to disrupt his playing, then another.

“It became distracting to the point that I couldn’t continue,” JHNO said later.

He threw down his instrument and stormed off the stage. The sound of his viola cracking — the headstock had snapped off — echoed through the small theater.  (more)