HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ and childhood trauma

HBO’s new series, The Leftovers, looks very intriguing. And a little scary. After roughly 2% of the world’s population disappears in a rapture-like event, the show follows what happens to those who remain behind. This reminds me a bit too much of the movies I was forced to watch as a child while attending a Southern Baptist school.

I grew up without television, so when our teachers decided to show us a movie it was usually a treat. Not only did we get to feast our hungry eyes upon delicious cartoons like Bambi, we got to skip the monotony of classroom activities. Unfortunately, the movie selection wasn’t always so innocuous.

While still in elementary school, we were shown A Thief In The Night and A Distant Thunder – films that detailed the Rapture and the horrifying events that followed. These movies not only showed people being forced to receive the Mark of the Beast, but what would happen to those who refused. The first movie in the series had a particularly haunting song that is stuck in my head to this very day.

There’s no time to change your mind; the Son has come and you’ve been left behind. I wish we’d all been ready.
Children died, the days grew cold. A piece of bread would buy a bag of gold. I wish we’d all been ready.

Because the Holiness church had taught me nothing about the Rapture but everything about what would happen in the End Times, I knew I would be one of those who was left behind to either take the Mark or be put to death. I wept hysterically throughout both films, so much so that my teacher mistook my tears for a desire to be born again. She led me in prayer a couple of times, but soon realized she was getting nowhere and told me to talk it over with my parents when I got home.

Needless to say, it was a traumatizing experience. Almost as bad as the time my aunt and uncle (also Baptists) showed my family a video of people dying in car accidents and going to hell. Good times.

So, it is with trepidation that I am actually looking forward to watching The Leftovers. Hopefully I have watched enough horror movies and reality television over the past 20 years to desensitize myself.

‘Bridegroom’

Just watched Bridegroom on OWN, and I’m feeling a myriad of emotions. Heartbreak over the death of a talented and beautiful man in his prime and in love, anger over the way his partner of six years was treated after his passing, and an even deeper appreciation for my partner and our relationship.

I wish both of my parents would watch it. Even though we have afforded ourselves some legal protection with wills and powers of attorney, I still worry about what might happen if one of us dies. People who make an effort to accept a son or daughter’s spouse for the sake of family unity might not be so inclined once their child is no longer in the picture. I don’t want to consider that my partner could be scorned by my family upon the event of my death – during the very time he would be struggling through the grieving process. It is unimaginable.

Shelter

This now ranks as one of my favorite LGBT films. There are plenty of parts of the movie that aren’t perfect, but what is perfect are the feelings expressed between the two main characters as they fall in love. The desire and desperation are downright palpable. It also doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is so full of great music – like the luscious “Lie To Me” by Shane Mack.

Yum’s the word

thanksgiving-food

I have never cooked an actual Thanksgiving dinner before, but I’m going to give it a shot this year. We typically fill up on holiday eats at our respective mom’s houses and then bring the leftovers home. While we will still follow that tradition this year, we have decided to invite a couple of our friends over for a traditional home-cooked meal Thanksgiving evening.

Here’s the menu so far (subject to change):

Turkey
Dressing – Mom’s making me an additional 9×13 pan from her fabulous recipe
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Whole Kernel Sweet Corn
Sister Shubert Rolls
Pumpkin Pie

I’m starving just thinking about it!

After eating, we’ll relax in front of the television to watch my all-time favorite movie, Home for the Holidays. Can’t wait! =)

Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’

Last Wednesday evening, I donned a wig, fedora, red satin jacket, black surgical mask, and a sequined glove to go watch Michael Jackson’s This Is It – a documentary chronicling the King of Pop’s last days. Before leaving, I jokingly referred to the four people accompanying me as my “entourage.” It turned out to be not far from the truth when they almost had to drag me to the car a few hours later.

As soon as we arrived at the theater, two women spotted me and freaked out. As other fans arrived, several began to ask if they could either photograph me or have their picture taken with me. Some brought their children to greet me, whispering in my ear that they wouldn’t know the difference. This scene continued up until we were able to go into the theater and grab some seats on the top row.

I had been looking forward to seeing this film for weeks, and it exceeded all my expectations. I saw Michael Jackson as I had never seen him before – a man in charge of the smallest detail, but a human being who was full of love and graciousness towards others and filled with concern for our planet. I have no doubt that the concerts he was rehearsing for would have been some of the best that the world had ever seen. It’s a shame that this is the closest we will ever get to seeing the final product, but also a blessing that his death has exposed so many more people to his message.

I had been expecting to have a strong emotional response to the film, but found myself only tearing up a few times – once when Michael referenced his brothers and parents, and again when he sang a few lines of “Speechless.” MJ was thin, but amazingly energetic and his voice was flawless. It was much easier to be enthralled than emotional.

As the film ended and we made our way toward the exit, people once again started coming up and asking me for photos. I met one very nice lady who insisted her kids stand beside me for a picture. She adjusted my hair, stood beside me for a snapshot, and then gave me a hug as other fans gathered around with cell phones and cameras pointed in our direction. She began talking about what a wonderful person Michael was and her eyes welled up with tears. As she walked away, I heard her daughter ask, “Mom, are you sure that’s not Michael Jackson?”

After posing outside the building with a few more beaming MJ fans, my partner insisted that I go to the car. I was getting quite a head rush from my five minutes of fame and also felt inspired that so many people in my area are fans of Michael Jackson.

There is an instant kinship among Michael’s fans. We understand what it means to love someone that the world considered to be outside the concept of normal. We know what it’s like to be ridiculed for having that appreciation, and to constantly have to defend someone whom most of us never even had the privilege of meeting in person. As crazy as it might have seemed to some, I felt honored that these people allowed me to be their substitute for the evening; a way in which they could continue to physically cling to the thing they miss the most.