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Sequined mayor would make gay pageant a smash

November 25, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

I once had a chat with a spokesman for a former U.S. president, who said he had three basic response lines he used when expanding upon the president's frequently convoluted speeches:

1. "What the president meant to say was ..."

2. "What the president was trying to say was ..."

3. "What the president really said was ..."

So it is with Hagerstown Mayor Bill Breichner, who last week compared the Miss Gay American National Pageant to a Ku Klux Klan rally, then backed off real fast. What he meant/tried/really said was that he was worried about the potential for protesters at the pageant, not the pageant itself.

OK, whatever. Hobos he might have gotten away with. They're kind of Norman Rockwellish. But the Klan? People don't much cotton to the Klan anymore, and even Thurmont, Md., hasn't had a rally in years. Kind of bad for tourism.

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In fact, isn't a gay pageant sort of the exact opposite of a Klan rally? If I remember right, gays were one of the groups that the Klan (provided the numbers were heavily in their own favor) always was trying to beat up.

The national gay pageant - dudes dressing as chicks for the purpose of ... somehow, I'm not sure how to finish this sentence - was to be held at the Clarion on Dual Highway Jan. 10, but is to be moved.

I'm slightly curious why a national gay group would choose Hagerstown in the first place. Maybe it's our campiness. I don't have any exact figures, but I'm guessing our Avon figurine collections per capita rank right up there on the national leaderboard. If you want Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie" on 45, you've come to the right bailiwick.

But a Klan rally? What if, instead of crosses they burn ruby slippers in your yard? I wish it were a Gay Klan pageant, that I'd pay to see. They still wear white hoods, but they're embroidered.

Klan gatherings are angry and violent; gay gatherings are happy and peaceful (as long as the Steve Madden outlet doesn't run out of shoes).

So there has to be another analogy. Oh right, there is: Hobos.

"It's like a hobo city," the mayor also said.

Oh great, he's having a go at the hobos now. Who knew our mayor was hobophobic?

But gays and hobos, he may have something there. It makes me have my doubts about "Boxcar Willie."

And memo to the mayor: Don't give these guys any ideas. They love a challenge. They may all descend on the town wearing hobo costumes. The pageant will have a swimsuit competition, an evening gown competition and a bindle competition.

Fun-loving? Here's the response to Breichner issued by pageant director Daniel Rotkiske: "As for the mayor likening us to hobos, I'd like to see a hobo spend $3,000 on a gown. I'd like to see the mayor spend $3,000 on a gown."

Oh man. So would we, Daniel, so would we.

Hagerstown should, nay, Hagerstown must get this group to the city. I don't care if you're the hootenist, hollerinist, Southern Sheriffist, ole boy in the county, when someone suggests your mayor dress up in sequins, some remote part of you has got to be smiling.

Look, Daniel, I know the mayor, and he don't meeeaan nothin,' even if he sounds like a recent grad from John Munson Finishing School. (Whoops I forgot, you're not from around here. See, John Munson is - oh, never mind.) Probably the mayor just feels left out. I'm thinking if you invite him to be master of ceremonies he might have a change of heart.

How great a publicity gig would that be, especially if it were held downtown? Pat Wolford, call your service. Who is not going to pay to see Mayor Breichner asking the questions of the contestants: "Good evening, Miss Provincetown, my question for you tonight is: Are you disturbed by this growing trend of urban hospitals locating outside of town vis a vis the added sewer capacity they will generate with or without annexation?"

I am sooo there. And if the pageant gets a good reception in Hagerstown, think of what they could do with our city's fine architecture, that just needs a little sprucing up. "Well first off, those curtains have got to go."

They could team up with some of the local businessmen who are trying to upgrade downtown buildings. Make a TV show of it: "Queer Eye for the Developer Guy."

As a gay friend once told me about their benefits to a downtown area, "We have great taste, we have money to spend and you don't have to educate our kids."

If that's not a win-win, I don't know what is.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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