People Are People

There is a time in our lives where meeting someone we may be attracted to leads to some somewhat embarrassing moments. That particular moment is when you approach someone at a bar or social setting and ask them out only to learn that they are gay or lesbian. Immediately the apologies and blushed faces are apparent where the brain exclaims, “I wish there were labels to identify who is who?”  Our obsession with labels or our own personal gaydar has become slightly problematic that when someone hears pansexual, gender non-binary or aromantic. It becomes a lesson defining moment sometimes leaving us more confused than educated. Even for the LGBT community, such labels create a learning moment. At least LGBT members embrace most anything thrown at them to learn and assimilate. It is a shame that same quality isn’t shared in the heterosexual community as a whole.

But when labels transfer away from sexual identity towards registered offenders, those on parole, individuals with criminal records, or just everyday humanity, then the labels become forms of weapons with mass destruction appeal. Often we hear of the stereotypical and somewhat sexist, racist or name-calling tone of “Tyrone, that black dude that looks like he was just released from prison” or “Chris, the guy that looks like a molester.”  There is no basis as to why people enjoy appalling and unpleasant descriptive values when attempting to describe one another. But such sarcasm spills over without defense from humanity to uncomfortably laugh at such descriptors. It is slightly similar to how Nazi’s attempted to label Jewish citizens by nose size, eye and hair color, or particular skull features. It was all hocus-pocus noise however people actually believed it – and some supremacists still do today.  Perhaps our obsession to label is a convenience? Somewhat like unofficial nicknames were given as a child that stuck with us. However, if someone has a criminal record, is a registered offender, or is a member of the LGBT community shouldn’t be the sole basis to stigmatize or label individuals. Doing so is not only wrong and hurtful but is nothing more than adult versions of bullying. The past is the past, but adults should learn to act like responsible adults.

I don’t introduce my friend Martin as, “this is my black friend Martin.” Instead, I introduce as “this is Martin.”   I don’t say, “this is my dike friend Carol.” Instead, I say, “this is Carol.” If an individual wants to learn more about them instead it is an LGBT or perhaps rumor that need put to rest, there are times and appropriate places to continue that conversation as long as it is respectful and allows open dialog.

Recently there was a discussion about how to label registered sex offenders.  This was perhaps a thorny issue to tackle. However, I strongly feel and suggest that all forms of labels that diminish the humanity value offer more harm than good. I suggested, “this is Steve” followed by “someone affected by the registry.” That way the conversation can begin if Steve is a registered offender or if Steve has a family member on the registry. But we will constantly learn that ill winded people will suggest “Steve, that dude that looks like a creeper.”  We see the postings and hear the noise all the time yet do very little to advocate or redirect improved language. Comedy is one thing if you are a skillful comedian. However, there is nothing funny about the misuse of labels and how it stigmatizes others.

Gender may create a bit of an issue for many trying desperately to become politically correct. First of all, there is no political correctness in the LGBT world. It is learned as you go because diversity knows no limits. The term mister goes a long way but can be interpreted as differences between LGBT members. However, straight men shouldn’t begin throwing the enthusiastic term of girlfriend around unless you are sensibly fashionable, have perfect teeth, and can recite all song lyrics by Madonna. I have discovered that titles should be a doctor, professor, queen, princess, mom, dad or other obtainable and qualified appropriate titles. Sure, the LGBT community does occasionally throw the term Miss Thing around, but in a lighthearted joking manner. The LGBT community is one of the communities that embraced people of color, those affected by HIV or AIDS, the homeless, transgendered, convicted, and registered offenders. Why? Because it was those labels and human beings that were shunned and abandoned as a second-class citizen. While the heterosexual community tends to forget its cruel past, the LGBT community continually reminds its members to not forget how we got there and keep moving forward. That is the real gay agenda to allow everyone to become inclusive and break down barriers that divide us.

There was a time where there was a gay club, and a lesbian bar usually separated miles apart from one another (because gay men could figure out where to put the pool table as it would take away from the dance floor). Today, the gay clubs are united dance clubs where people of all backgrounds are free to be themselves and sometimes experience conditions they never thought would be mentally possible. You don’t turn a person gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Just as you don’t make a criminal or sexually deviant. People make mistakes and poor judgments. Pay the price and move on. There are situations no matter how brief that people experience for themselves. Labels create obscurity of learning from one another. But labels are an eerie reminder of the pink triangles during the Holocaust. Never again will LGBT members be labeled and ridiculed by policy.

The musical artist Depeche Mode wrong a song called People Are People. The lyrics are:

People are people so why should it be

You and I should get along so awfully

So we’re different colors

And we’re different creeds

And different people have different needs

It’s obvious you hate me 

Though I’ve done nothing wrong

I never even met you

So what could I have done

I can’t understand

What makes a man

Hate another man

Help me understand

These lyrics from the 1980’s describe a time where racism, religion, sexuality, and only being different created a mound of labels. Perhaps people should learn from those lyrics as to become less obsessed with labels and more driven to become assimilated into a society that embraces and accepts them for face value.

Grammy Predictions

I decided to take a moment of my free time and search the upcoming Grammy nominees. That way I can determine if I am giving music a chance or actually listening to anything worthwhile. Instead, I want to have a little fun and predict who I think will win and add who or what song I enjoy.

 

Record Of The Year: I predict “Hello” by Adele will win. But my favorite song in that category is “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots.

 

Album Of The Year: I think “25” by Adele will win this category. But I think “Lemonade” by Beyoncé has an equal change. Otherwise look for Kanye to leap on stage just to give some added drama.

 

Song Of The Year: While I am not a Justin Bieber fan I predict that he may win in this category for the song “Love Yourself” which was co-written by Ed Sheeran. Otherwise a close second will be Mike Posner for “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” which was a very catchy and favorite summer tune.

 

Best New Artist: Of course this is the kiss of death category because those that typically win in this category usually are one hit wonders. But The Chainsmokers may win this one hands down.

 

Best Pop Solo Performance: I have mixed feelings about this, but a strong contender and winner in this category is Ariana Grande for “Dangerous Woman.” The voters may see Beyoncé as a potential win.

 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Again I will lean towards Twenty One Pilots as the winner. But let’s not forget Rihanna featuring Drake with the powerful hit “Work” as a possible winner.

 

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: I think Bob Dylan will capture the most votes overall in this category. After all, he is a legend in the music community.

 

Best Pop Vocal Album: Actually I think Sia will win a Grammy for this with “This Is Acting.” She had many top hits under this release, and DJ’s are still spinning her catchy records from the past to present.

 

Best Dance Recording: The Chainsmokers will walk away with a Grammy for Don’t Let Me Down.

 

Best Dance/Electronic Album: Okay, I didn’t actually listen to this category so my prediction will be like rolling dice. I’m clueless to any winner.

 

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: Human Nature by Herb Albert is my favorite pick.

 

Best Rock Performance: I think the Grammy artists will overwhelmingly pick David Bowie although Disturbed with The Sound Of Silence (Live on Conan) should win the category.

 

Best Metal Performance: I have no idea who will win. But I will take a stab at Korn.

 

Best Rock Song: I think Twenty One Pilots could steal this from David Bowie.

 

Best Rock Album: It may sound silly, but Weezer may still have what it takes to score a win. After all, they have been doing this for nearly 20 plus years.

 

Best Alternative Music Album: I pick Radiohead.

 

Best R&B Performance: I think Rihanna will take the Grammy.

 

Best Traditional R&B Performance: I haven’t heard too much in this category, but my bet is on Fantasia with “Sleeping With The One I Love.”

 

I will stop there because I have no idea about the other categories ranging from Polka, Country, and Classical to Gospel. The Grammy’s will air February 12th so I will check back to see how well or poorly I predicted. Please share your thoughts in comments.

The Day the Music Died

I was listening recently to Eva Cassidy’s recording of Songbird and thought it would be wonderful to see her in concert. Suddenly it hit me that Eva died in 1996. It was then I thought that my music icons seemed to be fading away. Sure, 1996 was a while back, but it only seems like yesterday when we lost Karen Carpenter or just recently Prince. You see my taste in music is purely universal and appreciative. I may not be able to attend concerts of those that have departed, but they do leave an incredible collection of music that I can sing along with.

Today, while I am attempting to be appreciative, I don’t find the music to be as appealing as it once was. Many recordings must use or purposely use auto tune and other computer generated fusions that take away from the simplicity of just singing along. It’s not as fun as it once was with songs. In fact, the sing-along songs of today seem more repetitive and about the beat rather than the story or message. I am a fan of Adele, but I feel the need to have a few stiff drinks and pop a Xanax if I am to sing along. Of course, Adele is gifted and has once of the best vocals since the departing of Amy Winehouse. But at least I could sing along with Amy with some angst and purpose while with Adele I’m ready to break open a box of tissues and share among friends.

I can’t help but think about the song American Pie by Don McLean. There is a verse about “the day the music died.” Of course, that reference has differing meanings for different people. But perhaps our music dies at some point because of an event or tragic loss of our favorite musical artist. There was a time in our lives that we would watch the Grammy awards with excitement either to see our favorite artist win or just for the mere awe of performance value. As time passed we still watch but the enthusiasm has died down, or we turn off entirely thinking, “this isn’t music, its garbage!” Funny, how we start to sound more like our parents.

The Grammy’s are just around the corner, but I’m not so sure I will be watching. I think I’m at the point in my life where the Grammy’s have killed my music or the ability to diversify myself with good music. As a young boy, I used to watch every category just to have a brief moment and education about other genres. The Grammy’s have killed that segment for large corporate sponsorships and pyrotechnic-filled arena jammed concert experiences. Sure, it’s entertaining, but I want to hear music and make a decision about the artistry. Instead, I will watch a movie or something else. I still miss Eva Cassidy and her music. Maybe I should let Pandora pick out several artists similar to her style. Maybe I can generate a bit of life and reflect on the old as if it’s new again.

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