Brothers Parker & Monk
The dog days are done. They arrived somewhat late a month ago while I was still in northern New Hampshire, followed me to New York City and out to Long Island’s North Fork, back up to Boston and across to upstate New York. Now in Brooklyn, I’ll soon head home to Amsterdam. For me the dog days of summer correspond to the seasonal transition from one place to another – and not only geographically.
Ralph and Gypsy in the White Mountains, Swee’Pea in the Catskills, Jackson and Lily in Clifton Park, Max at Mirror Lake, Parker and Monk on Long Island, and Leo in Brooklyn. Connect the canine dots and you’ll find a dog days map of my summer journey, roughly shaped like the constellation Canis Major. “He really likes you,” I’m told again and again. It’s reassuring to know I’ve not lost my empathic bond with the descendants of Sirius, the Dogstar, brightest beacon in the night sky.
Nicole Lewis flashes a mischievous grin as she hands me a plate of freshly made blueberry oatmeal pancakes. “I’m warning you. They’re very healthy.” It’s not my usual breakfast of coffee and a cigarette, but change is good. Nicole and I agree on that. It’s part of why we’ve become friends. We met when she arrived in New Hampshire in June to direct a play at the Weathervane Theatre. I arrived a month earlier to visit my college friend Joanne who owns the Inn at Whitefield, right next door.
Photo: Frits de Ridder, 1986
In September 1986 I died of AIDS. That’s me – center in the photo – playing one last game of Scrabble. An hour later, handsome Tony in the white shirt died in the arms of Steve, who left the hospice soon after to spend his final days with his family. I passed quietly, offstage. Five nights a week, above a gay bar in Amsterdam.
The rainbow flags are out in Amsterdam today. No, we’re not celebrating Gay Pride early this year. It’s part of a citywide action to “welcome” Russian President Putin. The official reason for his visit is to celebrate 2013 Year of Friendship, marking 400 years of ties between the Netherlands and Russia. But as Putin dines with Queen Beatrix at the Maritime Museum on Monday April 8th, thousands of protestors are expected to gather outside to express strong disapproval of Russia’s proposed anti-gay legislation.
Back in January, the Russian State Duma voted 388-1 in support of a bill that will make “promotion of homosexuality” – particularly by providing information to minors – a punishable offence. More recently there are reports of plans to ban adoption of Russian children by foreign gay couples. The anti-propaganda law is already in force in St. Petersburg and has had a profound effect on the LGBT community there.