Posted by: facetothewind | October 15, 2004

Sissystrata – for NPR

Written for NPR but Never Aired


A few years ago I made a bold move. When I no longer could afford to live in the liberal enclaves of Northern California, I packed my piano and books and headed for the sunny desert of Arizona where I could afford to buy a house. But what I hadn’t realized at the time was that I had moved myself to a battleground state. Yes, folks, I the flaming homosexual liberal activist of California, a solidly democratic state, found myself getting thrown out of bars for dressing in drag, banned from the local public radio station for being too controversial and generally at odds with a “don’t rock the boat” mentality.

Dorothy was no longer in Kansas. She was in a swing state furiously clicking her heels together. But this IS home now and I’ve had to make peace with it.

In several attempts at dating I found myself in the awkward post-coital realization that I had just slept with… gasp… a gay republican. Certainly I had heard about Log Cabin Republicans – a group of conservative gay folks who believe they can change the system from within, but I never imagined that I would find one in my bed.

One morning while bathing in that rosy afterglow with an Army Captain (unknown to me at the time), I discovered that not only had I come home from the local gay bar with a republican, this time I picked someone who was actively engaged in the war in Iraq.

Now, I come from a land where people don’t have Kerry stickers on their car. Although they may very well vote for Kerry, their cars still bear Kucinich stickers. And I had NEVER met a gay person who supported the war.

But never one to shed my value systems for my new locale, I am American after all, I decided that I needed a new strategy to dissuade my gay brothers from war. Something softer. Something more effective. I transformed myself into Sissystrata!

Surely you’ve heard of Lysistrata, Aristophane’s heroine who leads the women of ancient Athens to end the 21 year war with Sparta by refraining from males altogether. Each wife was to refuse sexual favors until the men come to terms of peace. At the end of the play, Lysistrata leads a batallion of women to the Acropolis. The men storm the doors and the devices of Lysistrata prove effective. Much cavorting and hilarity occurs between the warring factions.

“Out!” – I said to the Army Captain touting the virtues of war from my bed! “And take a cab home, too,” I commanded with pointed finger like the Wicked Witch would have said “and your little dog too.”

Like Lysistrata, Sissystrata now struts into the gay bars, scented and dressed for seduction. In a state like Arizona with its active Air Force bases and legions of retired military, chances are good that Sissystrata will find her man.

And when I get them worked-up and ready to head for the door with me, I pop the question: “Who will you be voting for on November 2?”

Hopefully the answer leads to much cavorting and hilarity.

Host close: David Gilmore is the host of Public Radio International’s Outright Radio.

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