Comments Round-Up: KY clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

By : Jamie Hyman
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Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of courts who is refusing to give same-sex couples marriage licenses – in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling making marriage equality in the law of the land – is sparking a strong reaction from Watermark readers.

Here’s a roundup of comments posted to our stories covering Davis:

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Preaching to the converted: Say Goodnight and Go

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshot_808353452Last week, I had the occasion of being in Orlando for a big technology conference. The timing was fortuitous. I am also in the process of putting my Audubon Park house on the market. This gave me the excuse to combine business with…well, personal business. I went by the old girl on Virginia Drive to clean out what I had left and turn it into the hands of my very capable broker.

I bought the house in 2003 and expanded shortly after. If I had sold the resulting three bedroom, two bath house when I moved to NYC in 2007, I would have made an almost 100% return on my investment. Nineteen months later, I was upside down on my mortgage.

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Preaching to the Converted: From Kundis to Kelly

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshot_808353452In the movie Dangerous Liaisons, the John Malkovich character tells the story of a man who had an affair with an inappropriate woman. When the man would be questioned about it, he would simply reply “It’s beyond my control.” He said this so often, in fact, that he began to be comically and derisively linked to the phrase. It turned the man into a caricature.

I have a similarly odd imprimatur. Specifically, that of a Kelly-holic. The “Kelly” being the original American Idol, one Kelly Brianne Clarkson of Burleson, Texas.

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Words to Live By: Community

By : Rick Claggett
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Rick Claggett

Rick Claggett

My entire life is gay. I work in arguably one of the gayest offices in town, my gay friends and I mostly hang out in the locally gay-owned watering holes and I have played on gay softball, bowling, kickball and volleyball teams.

In fact, I even turn what’s straight about my life into something gay. My best friend, Jen, and I have lived together for almost 15 years.

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Preaching to the Converted: Fighting the Stroke

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshot_808353452When I was just dipping my toe into gay life as a senior in college in New Orleans, there was a man who frequented the triumvirate of the most popular gay bars in the French Quarter. He was inevitably fall-down drunk, often inappropriately flirtatious to an embarrassing degree, and clearly too old and feeble to be anywhere but somewhere warm, having a nice nap and an early bird dinner.

We called him ‘Fighting the Stroke.’ He was a talisman, a cautionary tale. At 22 and on (as he remained a fixture on the scene for many years after I graduated and would see him during my many visits to New Orleans in my 20s), he represented to me exactly what I did not want to become. Some sad old desperate queen trolling gay bars, ignorant of how depressing I looked.

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On Watermark’s anniversary, founder Tom Dyer reflects on two transforming decades

By : Tom Dyer
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When I started Watermark back in 1994, my goal was to share—and encourage—the richness of the local LGBT experience. Looking back, I see now that I had only the slightest idea what that meant.

In the last 20 years, Watermark has been my entrée to unimagined people and experiences—and I hope yours, too. We’ve stood up to discrimination in its ugliest forms, been patient as friends and representatives evolved, and discovered a real—almost cocky—pride in our uniqueness. And we’ve laughed with, and been inspired by, legends of this unique time in history.

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Issue 21.19: 20 Amazing Years

By : Jake Stevens
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20 Amazing Years: On Watermark’s anniversary, founder Tom Dyer reflects on two transforming decades. Also: Local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events, and much, much more!

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Preaching to the Converted: How Watermark Ruined My Life

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshotDamn you, Watermark!

In celebration of this newspaper’s 20th anniversary, I’ve been asked to share my observations as a long-time contributor.

My first piece was for the second issue and I have now appeared in the paper more than 500 times—as a first person editorialist, reporter, feature writer, summer fiction author, music critic and advice columnist. I think I can summarize my experience pretty succinctly.

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Preaching to the Converted: Scripting a Shaming

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshotAccording to Wikipedia, JavaScript is a dynamic computer programming language. It is most commonly used as part of web browsers, whose implementations allow client-side scripts to interact with the user, control the browser, communicate asynchronously, and alter the document content that is displayed. Its okay if you don’t understand any of that. I’ve worked in IT more entire career, and I can barely keep up.

Suffice to say that if you use, or have used, a PC, tablet, or smartphone in the past ten years, you have interacted with JavaScript. It was developed in 1995 by Brendan Eich. It’s easy to call people visionary, but Eich is one of a small subset of American technologists who genuinely and meaningfully changed the technology landscape for business and society.

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Preaching to the Converted: Coming Out? Who Cares?

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshotRecently 80-something music mogul Clive Davis came out as bisexual in his forthcoming memoir. Anyone who has ever heard him speak or seen him walk probably had a reaction similar to mine: “Bi-sexual? Please, girl.”

And his is only the most recent of a spate of high-profile comings-out that characterize a new phase in our out lives as gay people. That of, yeah-we-know-what-took-you-so-long. This may not be a popular view but Jodie Foster’s recent mannered, torturous ‘coming out’ speech at the Golden Globes was a disappointment. Especially compared to the truly brave comings-out of years passed. Compare the yammering and stammering of Foster’s speech to Ellen Degeneres’ simple declaration from the cover of Time magazine now over fifteen years ago: “Yeah, I’m gay.”

While I never approved of dragging anyone out of the closet, it seems the celebrities that are coming out these days are the ones about which we never had a moment’s doubt and there is something unsatisfying about that.

While I don’t want to diminish their bravery in coming out, such proclamations simply don’t hold the weight they once did. The reasons for this in my mind are all positive ones:  as a people and society it seems we are much more accepting, young people are more liberally minded in general, and more and more people have friends or family members who are out gay people.

But it seems we still care. Column inches are still devoted to it. There is almost a seeming obligation to come out if you’re gay and famous. Americans still get a giggle out of gay people it seems.

As I write this, I happen to be at my company’s headquarters in Bangalore, India. A good friend of mine, an Indian, and I engaged in a conversation I began by wondering aloud what the ‘organization’ thought about having an out, gay American man in their midst. She looked at me as though I had just sprouted a second head.

“I don’t know what the organization thinks (the emphasis was hers), but as a people I can tell you what we think:  It’s none of our business.” And as I thought back on the last 16 months of my employment with this India super-company, I realized I agreed.

Knowing next to nothing of Indian culture before I joined the company, I was substantially trepidatious on how I would be received when that information, pardon the pun, came out. Look, the time of me being willing to hide my sexuality is long gone. I couldn’t pretend if I tried. But similarly, my days of wearing it like a political badge are also in my rear-view. In many ways, that’s the best possible news.

I would like to think that those at Stonewall would have welcomed the day when being gay was a thing, but not the  thing.

As a gay man working in American business, I have long wondered how impeded I have been by the dim views of gay people held by those that run the country (and more specifically the companies for which I’ve worked). Other times, there was no need to wonder. It was right there in front of me. Diversity programs aside, hearts and minds still lag behind in the corner offices of many American companies. Yet here I am working for a company half a world away, in a country that is religiously-connected by definition and history, as well male-driven and patriarchal to say the very least. Some would use the word ‘machismo,’ and you see it all around: In their mass media. In the different attitudes and dress of men and women.  In their religion(s).

And me?  I am just as out here as I ever was.

I talk about my partner and make no attempt to disguise his gender. When I first joined, I’d scan faces (or tones on the phone) for a negative reaction. But one never came.  Turns out, it is a cultural imperative in India that people stay out of one another’s way and focus on what is in front of them. To them, I’m Ken Kundis, the Head of Marketing for their Americas division. If I am thoughtful in my work relationships and do a good job, I will be lauded and promoted. If I don’t, I’ll be terminated. It’s as simple as that.

And as a gay man who has been sniggered about behind my back and surely passed over for opportunity by the straight white men who have managed me in the past, for what more could I possibly ask?

The sad part is that I had to fly 12,000 miles to find it.

“[title of show]” Wins with Exuberance and Talent

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The concept behind [title of show], a one-act musical, could have been trivial and self-indulgent. The conceit is basically that you're watching a musical about the creation of the very musical you're watching. The plot runs you through the writing process, taking the show on the road to festivals, then off-Broadway, and ends directly before â┚¬â€œ and I hope I'm not issuing a spoiler here â┚¬â€œ it's premiere on Broadway.

Having run for 102 performances in 2008 on Broadway's Lyceum Theater, the show proved to be anything but trivial. As it turns out, the script was deftly handled and hilariously funny, and the music infectious and memorable. While its run was relatively brief, it garnered rave reviews and ignited a rabid following of supporters.

Two of those supporters are my best friend and his partner. So while I only saw [title of show] twice during its run at the Lyceum, it was the subject of scores of conversations, complete with recountings of the literally dozens of performances my friends saw, their personal interaction with all four stars of the show, and general worship. In fact, [title of show] is so permanently attached to my memories of living in New York that year that I was not perhaps the best person to offer criticism of a local production.

And as I settled into my seat, I found my brain picking apart components of the show â┚¬â€œ particularly around casting â┚¬â€œ that would seem jarring for those who know the Broadway incarnation. The casting of the two leads features a weird coincidence: the person playing Hunter (Kevin Kelly) bears a striking resemblance to real-life show writer and star Jeff Bowen. The actor portraying Jeff (Rob Lott), meanwhile, bears a similarly eerie resemblance to the real-life Hunter Bell. They are so similar to the other's real-life source, in fact, that it's practically impossible to believe it was by accident. While I'm confident the producers saw the Broadway production, based on the faithfulness of their version, it was almost as though they cast the parts based on unattributed photos of the stars and assumed that one was the other. It took me 20 minutes to stop thinking of the oddity of that.

It also has to be said that the relative age of the actors was a bit undermining. One of the great things about [title of show] is that it is about two young but knowledgeable and talented â┚¬Ëœnobody's from New York' doing the unthinkable: staging a Broadway show with a bare stage featuring four chairs and a piano, and four unknown actors. Lott is perhaps too young for his role, and Kelly perhaps just a bit too old. Kelly has an avuncular presence when dealing with Lott as Jeff, and it makes some of the later conflict ring a little hollow.

The show itself brought me out of my analysis. Consistently clever and funny, if not a bit too referential of Manhattan and Broadway to keep Orlando audiences in the joke, the show contains laugh on top of laugh, and musical numbers that are both tuneful and advancing to the plot.

So at some point, I stopped looking at it and started watching it. What is revealed is a tremendously entertaining and joyous 90-minute musical. Not only does the whole cast sing well, they're all clearly having a great time.

Kelly's performance as Hunter, in particular, is original and organic as he creates a lighter, but believable persona for the writer of the show book. Robyn Kelly as Susan steals a good many scenes with her natural stage presence and believable quirkiness.

The other performances are more uneven. Rob Lott as Jeff is an enormously affable stage presence, although he doesn't quite pull off the hopeful yet world-weary Manhattanite/Broadway-phile persona effectively. He sings better than he acts, and some of the sharpness in the script is lost in his reading. Sometimes it doesn't seem that he quite understands the references he's making.

Melissa Mason as Heidi rings the falsest note, but that said, this was also probably the hardest part to cast, given that it is the big female â┚¬Å”Broadwayâ┚¬Â voice in the production. While one could see the other three characters being friends, Mason sticks out in a pedestrian, uncool way. She just doesn't fit, and is unbelievable as a Manhattanite, let alone a Broadway actress. (Better costuming and styling would have helped.) Also, during her one â┚¬Ëœbig' solo, she performs beautifully, but her singing throughout is a bit more up-and-down.

John B. DeHaas as the musical director/pianist Larry is an even more vacant presence than in the Broadway version. In the original, Larry had a presence onstage even without lines. He was engaged and emoting during the production. He mugged for comic effect. (That said, he was also lit, which the character in this production is not.) DeHaas looks like he's multi-tasking the entire time, so inert is his expression throughout. He appears startled when he has to deliver his very few lines in the show.

But these are just nits. The sheer fun of it all had me smiling, cheering, and at the end, joining in the standing ovation offered, deservedly, to this imminently watchable cast.

It was a tough ask, but this production of [title of show] won me over through its respect for the material, its exuberance and the talent of the performers.

Show: [title of show]
Theatre Group: Wanzie Presents â┚¬â€œ Orlando, FL
Venue: Silver
Remaining Performances:
5/24 Tue. 5:00 PM
5/26 Thu. 10:10 PM
5/28 Sat. 9:40 PM

Purchase Tickets Now

7.23.09 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotFifteen years ago, I founded Watermark for two principal reasons. First, we needed a way to communicate with each other about each other. Back in 1994, if someone was upset by the actions of an elected official or just wanted to start a softball league, there was almost no way to get the word out.

And second, I yearned for an ongoing statement about the vibrancy of our community. I came out late, after more than a decade of fear and denial. I wanted to share my growing sense that being gay offers entrée into a world of fresh thought and possibility.

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