The news that Tommy Kirk died the other day at age 79 filled me with a sense of irony and, yes, sadness.
I grew up with Tommy Kirk appearing on my TV screen. He was one of the child stars employed by the Disney company. He was a Mousketeer. He appeared in TV dramas along with other fan favorites. His was as much of a household name as, say, Annette Funicello.
Tommy Kirk also was a gay performer. He “came out” as a teenager. The price he paid for his honesty? Disney fired him essentially on the spot. Ain’t no way the entertainment giant was going to allow a gay youngster perform before audiences comprising children.
It didn’t matter, of course, that Kirk didn’t portray gay characters. Not ever! To borrow a phrase, Kirk played it straight.
That was then. The Disney Corporation has traveled many symbolic miles since that dark time. It now has Gay Pride Days at its theme parks, namely at Disneyland and at Walt Disney World.
I am glad to see the company has opened its corporate heart and it seeks to understand that one’s sexual orientation is not merely a matter of choice. It is who people are. Period. Full stop.
As for Tommy Kirk, well, he paid the price for his employers’ lack of understanding back then. May he rest in peace.
I just want to thank him for the memories he gave me as a youngster who laughed and cried at the performances he delivered.
You can rest assured that I am not a college basketball fanatic who lives, dies, eats and sleeps according to the bracket I might fill out for the men’s college basketball tournament.
However, the cancellation of March Madness — the men’s and women’s tournaments — is a big, big deal.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed a gigantic “victim” in the form of these two major sports and entertainment events.
Disneyland has closed its park in Anaheim, Calif., the NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons until further notice; Major League Baseball has delayed its opening day for two weeks (but I’ll bet real American money it’ll last longer than that); colleges and universities are canceling “face to face” classes; school districts are closing for two weeks.
Major disruption anyone? Hmm?
Meanwhile, the Trump administration seeks to restore some semblance of order to the chaos that has enveloped the nation. Its strategy ain’t working. Donald Trump’s speech last night from the Oval Office was meant to quell the stock market turmoil, but it made matters worse; what’s more, the White House issued a “correction” two minutes after Trump’s speech to “clarify” what he had just said in announcing the travel ban from some or most of Europe … whatever the case may be.
So, lots of public institutions that rely on men’s and women’s basketball teams to make money for them are going to do without. Professional team owners that rake in millions every day when their teams performing against each other are watching the turnstiles remain quiet. Same for the Disney Corp.
Oh, how I wish this wasn’t happening. Wishing it, though, won’t solve this problem or end this crisis. Patience and prudence are the rule of the day … and likely beyond the foreseeable future.