Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some People Just Don't Get It


Boston Legal craps out.

On tonight's episode of Boston Legal -- the series finale, and not a moment too soon -- two heterosexual male characters, Denny (William Shatner) and Alan (James Spada) get married.

Anybody really feel like watching this storyline considering what happened with Proposition 8 and so on?

Boston Legal has had a few pro-gay episodes in the past, but this one -- written by the producer David E. Kelley (pictured) comes off as something cobbled together by a liberal -- who like many liberals -- just doesn't get it when it comes to gays.

Frankly I'm sick of shows and movies that try to equate the platonic love between two heterosexual men with the romantic love between two gay men. [And yes, I do understand that Kelley was in part underlining the irony that the most significant relationship these two skirt-chasing heteros had was actually with each other.] I have lots of friends -- gay and straight, male and female, but for now let's stick with gay men -- whom I love and care about very much, but I would never consider marrying them. I have experienced romantic love and passion and know that it is very different from the love of platonic friendship. Non-romantic love, especially between a parent and child, can certainly run very deep, but it is a different experience altogether from romantic passion.

On the show Alan argues before a judge and snippily debates a gay activist who, rightly, finds the idea of these two straight guys getting married to be offensive, making a complete mockery of what marriage equality -- emphasis on equality -- is all about. Alan insists that having sex is not always a deciding factor in marriage, and that many people marry individuals that they do not love in the romantic sense. The judge adds that homosexuals often marry heterosexuals in passionless relationships, and sometimes gay men marry lesbians. "You wouldn't want the government telling them they couldn't do that, would you?' she asks the activist.

Of course this sentiment completely misses the point that the whole emphasis of gay liberation (including marriage equality) is to remove the stigma and shame that is still attached to being gay for those very people who wind up in those sham "mixed" marriages. Besides, even in cases such as those -- as well as cases where one person marries another for, say, financial gain -- at least one party has some romantic feelings for the other (for instance the straight wife of a husband whom she doesn't realize is secretly homosexual). In the case of Denny and Alan, neither party feels any romantic attachment to the other. But hey, they love each other, Kelley seems to say, so they're just a gay couple without the sex.

Wrong.

To be fair, Boston Legal is all about being irreverent, and the show has been playing up the brotherly love between the two men for quite some time now. They have had sexless sleepovers, for instance. Perhaps we're supposed to see these fellows as being so cool and secure that they can get married and have no problem with it, but it's hard to forget that Denny is a Republican who in one episode referred to a character as a "faggot, a total faggot." As is often the case with Boston Legal, the whole situation is completely contrived anyway. Denny wants the younger Alan to get his money, and could simply leave it to him in a will, but even the judge observes that a marriage will give them certain tax benefits. Chuck and Larry anyone?

So this is a mockery and nothing more. Even the supposedly more liberal Alan doesn't seem to understand what he's doing wrong. The gay activist says -- and the judge agrees (although she allows the marriage to take place) -- that this will only open the door to the kinds of excesses and stupidities predicted by the religious right. [Let me make it clear that gay marriage opponents argue that if gays can get married simply because they love each other, then why can't, say, a sister and brother, or mother and son, get married as well because, after all, they love each other too. Yes, they are that stupid.]

Gay marriage equality is being compared to the fight against interracial marriage years ago. One can't imagine Alan -- or David E. Kelley -- arguing during that period that if a white and black person could marry one another then two white male friends should be able to get married, too, because, well, love is love.

Yes, some people don't marry for love. And yes, there are sexless marriages. But I can bet that the vast majority of gay couples who line up in Massachusetts and hoped to line up in California to get married did feel romantic passion for each other and that most of them had a fulfilling sex life as well.

To say that the "love" between these two silly guys Alan and Denny (they chase after women so relentlessly and indeed pathetically at times that they come off like Don Juan homosexuals, but Kelley never had the guts to go into that) is similar to the romantic love between two gay men, two lesbians, or indeed a straight man and woman, is ludicrous. Besides, after what happened in California and elsewhere, who the hell wants to see a show where two straight guys get married when millions of gay people who truly love each other can't?

When it comes to gays, some people just don't get it and probably never will.

How sad that this sometimes applies to the purportedly gay-friendly as well as to the bigots.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mixed Emotions


I have very mixed emotions, as many gays do, with the results of the recent elections.

One one hand, the democrats won, which is good, to say the least. We have the first Africa-American president -- also very good. And he is at least gay-friendly, although he doesn't support gay marriage and has too many evangelical-type friends to suit me. The main problem -- among many -- with the Republicans is their idiotic alliance with the religious right, their failure to understand the need to separate church and state. I hope Obama doesn't make the same mistake. Certain of his remarks during the whole mess when he had that homophobic, ex-gay gospel singer on his tour gave me the idea that on some gay issues Obama just doesn't get it. But that's true of most family men when it comes to us gays.

At least we have a better chance under the democrats of getting various gay rights bills and gay marriage bills passed. If the Republicans had won, we wouldn't have had any chance at all.

Still, whatever [relative] elation many of us feel over Obama's win is minimized by the passing of Proposition 8 in California, which bans same-sex marriage. While I appreciate that Obama always mentions gays and lesbians when he talks of Americans, we must keep in mind that religious family man Obama does not support gay marriage (which, I have said, is as much about human equality as it is about marriage).

Wayne Besen looks at the reality that many blacks do not support gay marriage or gay rights and are indeed homophobic, but he argues -- correctly, I believe -- that it is more about educational levels than race. His column on this makes for an interesting read. While I think an anti-gay "machismo" can affect even educated men, it does tend to be less educated males of all races who are externally or internally homophobic, and are -- if homosexual -- on "the down low." Still, many gays -- many of whom supported civil rights for blacks their entire lives and even worked hard for civil rights -- are disappointed that some members of this oppressed minority group are so willing to oppress another.

But as I have said before, rather than letting this engender inappropriate and equally hypocritical racist feelings in those of us who are gay and non-black, it is better to remember that their are many out and proud black gay people, and many straight blacks are very supportive of gay rights. Besides, think of the mixed emotions that many Americans who are both black and gay feel during this time.

Let's keep things in perspective.

Still, it's hard not to see the irony and feel just a bit bitter. The same day that the first African-American president is voted into office -- an historical occasion, long in coming -- gays are told by the passage of Proposition 8 and other bills that we are second-class citizens. that our lives and loves are unequal and our feelings don't matter.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Write to Marry Day


The fight for gay marriage is in reality a fight for equality. There have always been loving, committed gay couples-- many of whom have been together longer than many of their straight counterparts -- and gay couples deserve the same protections and privileges under the law that heterosexual couples have.

Sure I may snicker from time to time at modern-day gay couples who lust for the proverbial house with the white picket fence in the middle of the suburbs, not to mention 2.5 children -- it almost seems like an imitation of the conventional straight life I was raised in and longed to escape from -- but since I'm always yammering about the diversity of the gay community I have to say I'm all for everyone getting what they want whether it's my cup of java or not.

So I support gay marriage hands down. It won't automatically make some people easier with what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms, but it will bring us one step closer to equality.

Bloggers of all stripes and persuasions across the land are posting on or before October 29th to register their opposition to Proposition 8, which would amend California's constitution by banning sex-sex marriages. This would not only be a giant step backward, but would increase the likelihood of a national bill, such as that supported by the likes of Sarah Palin, opposing same-sex marriages.

In these days of an uneasy economy, there are those who might feel that gay marriage is not an important issue. I say that when the equality of several million Americans is called into question, then that certainly makes it an extremely important issue.

It goes to the very heart of the bedrock upon which this nation was built. Freedom from intolerance, equality for all. It is as much of paramount concern as the ongoing civil rights struggle for African-Americans, not to mention the fight for women's rights and against anti-Semitism and all other forms of blatant discrimination.

Hence this post in honor of "Write" to Marry Day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nastiness in the Blogosphere


I've been a bit appalled by the level of nastiness I see on GLBT message boards and blogs and I wondered if it was getting worse (due, perhaps, to the election year) and what other factors might be responsible. I contacted some prominent as well as lesser-known bloggers and well-known gay people (Wayne Besen, Andrew Sullivan, Michael Musto etc.) from all sides of the political spectrum for their responses and have written an article which I call "Nastiness on the Blogosphere." I think it contains some interesting opinions on the subject. [This was originally intended for the New York Blade, but since they've gone from weekly publication to bi-weekly they don't have as much room for general think pieces as opposed to hard news.]

On the gay web site queerty, a heated debate is going on as to whether a certain gay periodical has improved since the new editor has taken over, and if said editor is gay, straight or bisexual -- and if it matters. A diversity of opinions are expressed, so diverse in fact, that it’s as if the people posting are not only not part of any community, but are actually from separate planets. The comments become increasingly personal. One poster who is an actor is told that he’s too ugly and untalented to get a job. Another person, quivering with self-hate, leaves a message that reads "I’m not bisexual but I wish I were and I’d kick the asses of all the faggots who say it has to be one way or the other." The majority of posts, at least on this particular thread, are jarringly nasty.

What’s going on here? Is the level of viciousness on LGBT blogs and message boards increasing, and if so, why is it happening? There could be several factors to blame for all the in-fighting: 1.) different factions of the LGBT movement who have been lumped together for political reasons but who may not really relate to one another; 2.) Out and Proud gays versus in-the-closet gays who use the anonymity of the Internet to put in their two cents but who look at gay life very differently from out-of-the-closet gays; 3.) young gays versus older gays; 4.) Other, less obvious factors. The question was put to several bloggers.

Andrew Belonsky of Queerty says " I think it's primarily political differences - on queerty, at least. I don't think that blogs have made gays any nastier, no. There's always been infighting in every social community, so why should we be any different? That said, however, many commentators can get particularly cruel and ugly, which really isn't the most constructive activity unless you actually have a point."

Andrew Sullivan sees it a bit differently: "I'm afraid it has always been true that gays have viciously attacked other gays online." he says. "It gets personal very quickly. Some of it is classic minority group self-loathing; part of it is just classic gay bitchiness; part genuine outrage, especially at pretty useless gay political groups; and partly it's a function of very familiar patterns of varying outness. We really do need to get better at being calmer."

Andres Duque, who has a Gay Latino blog entitled Blabbeando [blabbeando.blogspot.com] says "Some bloggers engage in over the top demagoguery, sensationalistic arguments and shock tactics to engage their readership -- and increase traffic -- and some responses might react to that. Personally I prefer to stake a view without slandering or insulting others and try to be respectful of others who may disagree with my views and perhaps this is why I rarely get a negative or nasty comment on my blog. It might not be as titillating to some, but not sure that I want to attract readers who run on the latest scandal."

Aureliano DeSoto, Post-Doctoral Fellow in LGBT studies at Carleton College in Minnesota [americanqueer.blogspot.com], says "LGBT folks as well as everyone else, have very little sense of etiquette or really know, for that matter, how to articulate critical commentary in ways that are not ad hominem and personal. This might just be a general function of the coarsening of our larger public culture."

"From a socio-cultural perspective," DeSoto adds, "lesbians and gay men have engaged in sometimes quite vociferous debate over what, how, why, and who constitutes gayness, really from the Mattachine Society of the 1950s onward, when the question was whether gay people constituted a separate category of experience or were just sexually different ...The movement of these questions onto the Internet is just a continuation of conversations that used to mostly happen in community papers, newsletters, flyers, wheat-pasted manifestos, and at the bar.

"And I would say, for what it's worth, that LGBT people are avatars of Internet culture, so perhaps there is some greater meaning to whatever perceived increase of hostility and aggression [there is] on gay blogs. Generational differences and dimensions of outness do seem to be more prominent in online media, especially the latter, since for many the Internet is an anonymous space, and that has empowered ... closeted men who have no public expression of gay identity but an investment, sometimes quite conservative, in these questions -- not to mention their participation in sexual online cultures such as Manhunt or Craig's List."

"I think the Internet has always been a place where cowards become bold and attack anonymously," says activist and Truth Wins Out President Wayne Besen [waynebesen.com]. "What has changed, of late, however, are the issues - two in particular. The first is the presidential elections. There are many spiritually and emotionally empty people who live vicariously through candidates and wrap their identities around these leaders. They become larger than life - almost like Gods. So, if you criticize the candidate, these individuals take it as a personal sleight and react insanely over the Internet. I saw a glimpse of this when I criticized Obama over using "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin. The level of irrational Internet comments and e-mail was mind blowing. People really need to get lives - or at least get a grip."

"The second issue was the debate over including trans people in ENDA," says Besen. "From the standpoint of trans people - and many of their supporters - this was not just policy, but an existential question. If abandoned by the GLB community, they would have been left to fend for themselves. So, it was quite understandable that it got ugly, raw and personal. Were the trans people about to get shafted supposed to smile and take it? Sometimes it is important to throw down and duke it out. Much of this occurred on the Internet and it wasn't pretty - but, in the end, the fight may have been pretty important."

Some bloggers have had kinder, gentler experiences. Says Michael Musto, "I recently started a blog, "La Daily Musto," on villagevoice.com and the tone of the comments is generally upbeat. There’s some bitchiness, but generally in a good-humored way. So not all gay blogs elicit pure hate from their readers -- except whenever I mention Clay Aiken. But if there IS a rise in blog comment bitchiness, I’d say all of those factors [you mentioned] are involved. The anonymity gives people who generally can’t express themselves a chance to vent and to go overboard because they don’t have to suffer any consequences for it. And the different LGBT subgroups often resent each other (the "straight acting" ones often hate the out, femmy ones, and so on), and drag out their darkest biases which they probably would not trot out in public."

"This is a political year with much at stake," says Wayne Besen, "so there is a natural tendency for such attacks to multiply. Politics is about power and with this comes a brutal struggle, and this accounts for much of the nastiness online.

"I wouldn't get alarmed, as things ought to calm down in 2009."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Endangered New York City Nightlife?


In the past few months there as been much talk of an anti-nightlife campaign being waged in the city, with gay venues especially being targeted. Is this an exaggeration or are gay New Yorkers really in danger of losing a lot of their homo-friendly spaces?

Last March several clubs in Chelsea, including gay bars Splash and View, were raided, along with several non-gay establishments, a few of which held gay parties on occasion. Drugs were cited as the reason for the raids. Back then several owners of gay bars in Chelsea, as well as a representative of the New York Nightlife Association [NYNA] told The New York Blade that gays or gay clubs were not being targeted. Despite highly exaggerated accounts of the places being shuttered for good, most of the clubs were re-opened within days.

The problem was not just drug use, but the fact that residents of the area dialed 311 to complain of the noise generated by bar patrons lounging on the sidewalks to have a smoke. This is a problem for straight bars as well as gay. According to Robert J. Benfatto, Jr., the president of Community Board 4, which oversees the Chelsea area and determines which establishments will be granted liquor licenses, "The clubs can’t control the crowds once they leave the bar."

The situation was not helped when Splash and two other bars that had planned to hold Gay Pride events were again raided over Gay Pride weekend. The timing understandably engendered much suspicion and paranoia. However, Splash was the only gay bar out of the 13 establishments to be hit over that weekend. Nevertheless, given the negative history between gay bars and the police, gay activists are quick to investigate any possibility of discrimination.

Much of the controversy recently centered on the Roxy nightclub on West 18th Street. The
Roxy was not a gay place, but had a popular gay night on the weekends. Suspicions were fomented when the Roxy reapplied to Community Board 4 for a liquor license and the hearing was delayed on more than one occasion. On August 12th the application for a license was withdrawn by the club itself, and they will probably not reapply. Robert J. Benfatto, Jr. told me "it is my understanding that something happened between them and the landlord."

According to Benfatto, the problem with the Roxy and other clubs has little to do with an anti-nightlife attitude in Chelsea or anywhere else. "Years ago The Roxy was in a manufacturing area that was approved for big clubs. Re-zoning has turned the area into a residential neighborhood." It is no longer a good mix.

Many of the people who seethe when the noise level of the street smokers goes too high don’t necessarily have anything against nightlife and may even enjoy it themselves. It’s when they’re trying to sleep and have to get up early on weekdays to go to work that they reach for the phones. Some bar owners in Chelsea have gotten together to address the problems. One solution was to hire off duty cops to stand outside the bar in their uniforms and keep order. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t allow "pay detail" – the name of this program – for establishments that have liquor licenses, with the exception of large venues such as Madison Square Garden. As for the drug issue, the Roxy went so far as to hire undercover agents to make sure their employees weren’t dealing.

The New York City Council introduced a Nightlife Security Initiative to address some of the problems. Their suggestions included changing the shift of the cabaret unit of the police to last until 5AM instead of four, so that they could deal with the noisy flow of often drunken patrons coming from the bars. Responding to the death of bar patron Imette St. Guillen, who was killed by a bouncer with a criminal record at The Falls, bars were to do background checks on all employees – this was also supposed to help deal with the drug problems as well, which persist.

Nightlife – gay or straight – isn’t going away any time soon. Benfatto told me that "most applications that come before this board are approved. Very few are turned down." But the larger clubs with the noisy smokers and drug deals in the bathroom will have to take more of the initiative in policing their establishments and patrons – and cooperating with the police and State Liquor Authority – or the raids will undoubtedly continue.

As for the Roxy? The beloved club appears to be gone for good. However, some people aren’t willing to let it go. Or at least let our nightlife go without a fight. Ryan J. Davis, who headed a "Save the Roxy" campaign, told The Blade "We’ll be turning the 'Save The Roxy' nightlife movement -- and it is a movement, with over 300 people activated -- into a committee as part of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. There, we'll be able to provide oversight of New York City's Appointed Community Boards."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Family" Men


The number of supposed "family men" who fool around sexually with guys is probably legion, but because there's only an occasional Jim McGreevey "scandal" outing these guys most of the public still thinks if a man's got a wife and kids he's straight.

Now let's talk about Paul Newman.

Years ago I tricked with a guy who said to me: "Paul Newman is gay."

"He is?" I said. "How do you know?"

He said: "I only say people are gay if I've had sex with them."

Now it's true that many people will say they have had sex with celebrities as a way of making themselves more fascinating and the like, but I found this guy completely credible. He was also an actor, one of the actors in The Boys in the Band, in fact, and I could certainly see him and Newman together.

Whether you believe this or not, if it's true, Newman would certainly not be the first family man who liked dick. Whether you want to call him a bisexual or a married homosexual, I wouldn't be surprised if, however he defined himself, he was attracted to men and suppressed it as much as he could because, after all, "fags" don't become superstars. In this Newman would not be the first or the last movie star to closet himself with a wife and children for the sake of a career. Newman was not known as a skirt-chaser. He built a private cottage for himself on his property which wife and children were not allowed to enter. If he occasionally indulged in his passion for men while presenting a heterosexual front, it would make him no different from tens of thousands of other men over the decades. It's ironic that he played the conflicted "Brick" in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

When it came to Gay Rights Newman could be quite contrary. On one hand, he and wife Joanne Woodward were liberals who presumably supported Gay Rights. Newman gave serious thought to playing the gay coach in the film version of Patrica Nell Warren's gay novel The Front Runner. On the other hand he decided to make the film Slapshot instead of Front Runner, and while the homophobia of the hockey players and fans in the movie was hardly unrealistic, the script also had him telling a woman that her son would grow up to be sucking dick (the old domineering mother creates faggots nonsense). He also taunted a hockey player that his wife was a "dyke, dyke, dyke!" which some dumb-ass New York Post critic, writing about the "best" scenes in Newman's movies, seemed to think was hilarious (it wasn't). Many gay activists thought Newman's guilt or fear over his own activities so panicked him that he chose the macho, homophobic role of Slapshot over the sympathetic gay role of The Front Runner coach.

Whatever the true story with Newman, his legacy will be that of the typical heterosexual family man whose wife and kids meant everything to him. Of course, men who love dick can certainly love their children and (in their own way) care deeply about their wives, but it's not the whole story. Had he come out at least as a bisexual -- had he only appeared in The Front Runner -- it might have done a lot of good but he chose not to. Those heterosexual privileges, even when he was wealthy and essentially retired, clearly meant too much to him. Some men in this position don't come out because they don't want to hurt or embarrass their wives, but in Newman's case I bet it was more about his image. So the "family man" legacy, no matter how much of it is pure bullshit, will go on until some biographer or other person with solid, substantiated information tells the world otherwise, and even then much of the world won't want to believe it. Paul Newman a fag! We in the Gay Community have made great progress in the past few decades, but sometimes I think we haven't made any at all.

One last thing about Newman. As co-author of a book on Robert Redford, I can tell you that the rumors of an affair between Newman and Redford, no matter how delicious some people may find it, appear to be completely unfounded, and I've never uncovered any substantiated gay rumors about Redford.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dealing with Getting Older


A friend of mine looked over the crowd at Ty's bar one night and said, "Everyone here is over the hill."

"Speak for yourself!" I told him.


Everyone knows that it's no picnic growing older in a society that
mostly scorns and demeans older people, sometimes out of ignorance and stupidity and more often out of fear. Younger people mock those who are older because they're terrified of growing older themselves. This is true in both gay and straight communities.

The thing is that, while no one wants to get older and that much closer to old age, possible sickness and indignity, and an undeniable death, having a bad attitude will only make things worse. It's one thing when twenty somethings make stupid remarks and give attitude to older people, but let's not do it to ourselves. Getting older is like being gay. There are enough people out there putting us down, let's not make things worse by adding to it.

When it comes to middle-aged gay men (and this probably applies to straight men as well) I've noticed there seem to be (for our purposes, at least) two kinds.

The first kind has completely given up on love and sex and dating and doesn't remember the last time they got laid or the last time they were on a date -- it's been that long. They may feel they're too old, or have let themselves go and have a negative self-image (more on this later), or they just want to drink, have fun, and forget about everything else. To quote a line from Dodsworth (the film version) they're rushing at old age. These men may only be in their forties but they might as well be elderly (although may I say right now that there are elderly men who are more vital and active than their middle-aged counterparts).

The second kind (count me in this group) don't let age -- however old they are -- stop them from doing whatever it is they want to do. And they certainly haven't given up on sex, dating, the search for love, or what-have-you.

A lot of middle-aged men have let themselves get out of shape, but this should not be a deterrent to a love life. In the bear community, for instance, you don't have to be slim, handsome or smooth-skinned, and for those who are looking for younger conquests, there are many cubs looking for "daddies." True, not all out-of-shape men have a bear "aura," but it isn't all that difficult to get back into shape. I found that regular exercise -- nothing too extreme -- and watching what you consume worked wonders.

Frankly, I can't understand people who let their age define them. One of my closest friends, Larry, enjoyed the pursuit (and you shouldn't have to ask pursuit of what) until he was in his seventies, and was successful more often than not. But it isn't just about sex; it's about everything. I refuse to put limits on myself as I age and I don't want anyone else putting limits on me.

The friend who made the "over the hill" remark wasn't being unkind. He's certainly not over the hill but he's in a difficult period of his life, grieving for a lost loved one, and this understandably colors his attitude.

Later that night at Ty's I met a guy who was as horny as I was and helped remind me that Ty's -- even if most of the customers are middle-aged and up -- can be very cruisy, and that the party doesn't stop at 45, 50, or older. Many middle-aged men, even senior citizens, are still quite attractive -- and damned good in bed (experience never hurts). There's a reason why there are jars full of condoms on the bar at Ty's.

Sure, guys in their 20's may snicker at the thought of, say, a hot 52-year-old, but they don't know what they're missing. Far from being over the hill, I'd dare say I'm better at just about everything than I was twenty years ago.

The sad truth -- one which younger people often just don't want to face -- is that we all get older and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

Except adjust your attitude and live life to the fullest regardless of how old you are!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Things Change -- But Not That Much


The straight people who went into gay bars twenty years ago are often very different from the straight people who go into gay bars today.

Twenty -- or even ten -- years ago the straight people (unless they wandered into the wrong bar) were generally accompanying gay friends, were very gay-friendly and supportive, and knew how to behave in a gay bar. Gay Liberation has helped make some straight people more comfortable around gays (good) and depictions of gay life on television have made gay bars seem like fun, straight-friendly places. So nowadays we have more and more straights going into gay bars -- but while they may be more tolerant, this doesn't always mean that deep down they're really that supportive or gay friendly. Besides, being tolerant of someone does not mean you think they're your equal (and if you don't believe me look at all the supposedly liberal democrats who support gay rights but won't go so far as to stand up for gay marriage).

Straights today often go into gay bars for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude. They're not afraid to go into a gay bar (since lots of straights do so they assume no one will think they're gay, God forbid), and often they feel a kind of titillation, like they're being just a bit hip and naughty by partying with homosexuals (although they often take up a corner of the gay bar and keep to themselves). Some of them smile or giggle when they see two guys kissing, staring as if the smoochers are behind bars in the zoo. And most of them have no problem with standing at the bar making out, as if arrogantly assuming that every gay person (who has seen straight couples necking in real life, in movies, and on television ad nauseam) is just dying to watch "normal" people show them how it's done. Some of them are just shit-faced and don't know or care where they are, driven by alcohol and lust to sloppy public displays of affection, but others clearly want to put on a show. We're here, we wanta neck, and it's too bad if it's a turn-off to you. As if straight couples couldn't go anywhere they wanted and neck -- including gay bars.

The thing is it doesn't work in reverse. You can say all you want that gay bars are dying out because gay couples feel comfortable being affectionate anywhere, but that's a load of horse shit. In mixed gay/straight bars or trendy lounges frequented by many gays, maybe. But if a gay male couple in particular were to try making out in one of the singles bars on Manhattan's second avenue (never mind Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx!), I doubt that the bartender would be anxious to serve them a second drink or that most customers would tolerate it for long. Hell, I could stand down the block from the Stonewall Inn near 7th Avenue embracing a guy on a Saturday night and I wouldn't be surprised if even today someone driving by might not yell out "faggots!" and lob a bottle or two.

I rarely see gay couples walking down the street holding hands even in the West Village or Chelsea, and when I do they generally have a kind of wary look in their eyes, as if wondering where the verbal or physical attack might come from at any second. Not to whine or exaggerate, but Gay People who think there is no danger and total acceptance even in a big, liberal city like New York are living in a fool's paradise.

The thing is that even today gay couples can not be that demonstrative in public except in gay bars, whereas straight couples can make out anywhere. That's only one of the reasons why I can do without men and women lustily smooching in my local gay tavern. On the street or in the subway I can see a straight couple kissing and not be annoyed by it -- I may even find them charming, attractive and sexy -- but in a gay bar I can really do without it.

The most frustrating thing is that when it happens it's often at a point when the gay customers are just talking politely and no one gay is smooching, damn it -- automatically the homoerotic level of the bar sinks to zero. Whenever straights kiss, I would love to see some gay guys start carrying on like the guys in the photo above, showing the necking, arrogant straights how it "should be done!" Sure, one straight couple necking in a bar full of gay men may not seem like much, but the very fact that it's one couple (or more) makes them stand out from the crowd.

It practically makes me go limp, if you know what I mean. It's not what I go to gay bars for.

On occasion I suppose one member of the straight couple could be bi-identified. If that's the case all I can say is bi men should neck with women in straight bars and bring their male dates to gay bars for smooching (and vice versa). Let's keep the homoerotic level of our spaces way up for those of us who are gay, still sexual, and are, after all, the chief customers of these places. Which is why they're called gay bars.

As I've said before, the owners and managers and sometimes the bartenders of gay bars welcome straights because they want to keep the cash registers ringing. Sometimes the straights (eventually the gay-friendly ones bring their not-so-gay-friendly friends, or they just wander in the door when they see all the heteros) chase off the gays, and the bar not only loses its gay clientele but the straight one as well, who figure they might as well just go to a regular straight bar now that the gays who made the place interesting are gone. Or the bar just goes straight.

Magazines can talk about the death -- and supposed dearth -- of gay bars all they want (Manhattan still has sixty or so, including popular new ones, so perhaps the death knell is quite premature), and the new "acceptance" (tolerance) of gays, but the fact remains that many of us, no matter how many great straight friends we have, will still want to have those golden hours in the company of our gay brothers or sisters in our favorite gay nightspot. We have a right to on occasion feel not like the minority we are constantly reminded we are, but like the majority, the rulers, in spaces we can call our own.

Any why not?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beware of SCB's!


Many gay men will at some point in their lives have an encounter, experience or relationship of some kind with an SCB.

SCB stands for Straight/Conflicted/Bisexual. An SCB is a man who flits around the gay community and gay men for one reason or another but does not identify as gay. He may be straight (or simply say/think he is), conflicted (not certain what he is, which usually means he's gay but can't quite get past the shame/stigma of it even though he may know many happily Out and Proud gay men) or genuinely or technically bisexual, which especially in the latter case means he may date/sleep with both men and women but even if he has a decided preference for men will never admit it -- not even to himself. [This is in contrast to those openly bi-identified men who admit they prefer men and/or have strong sympathetic ties to the gay community. Okay, I'm being a little PC here. Sue me!]

Some SCBs are hustlers, go go boys, bartenders in gay bars, models, work in the porn industry etc. As I say, they flit around getting what they can get, but they have no gay pride whatsoever -- which is my problem with them. They want the advantage of being gay -- or should I say they want to take advantage of gay men -- but as macho as they may think they are they completely lack the courage to deal with any possible disadvantages of being out of the closet.

Frankly, I think these guys -- while they can at times be charming and attractive -- are asses and bores. They act like it's 1950 instead of the 21st century, like we haven't had forty years (and more) of Gay Lib. Their attitudes are strictly pre-Stonewall.

Some of them can, however, bring out feelings of lust, romantic yearning, affection, and even love in gay men their own age and (especially?) older.

I remember an older acquaintance, "Joe," who lived in Boston and had a lover we'll call Frank. Joe was older than Frank but the age gap was not that wide. The two lived together, travelled together, the two seemed in every way a couple. Frank and I would dance together in Boston's gay bars (Joe did not enjoy dancing).

On one trip to Boston I ran into Joe who told me that Frank had married a woman. He said he knew he liked women and was perfectly okay with it. How could anybody be okay with having the man they were in love with go off with someone else? I never did get all the facts. Was Frank bisexual, and did he prefer this woman (or perhaps more to the point, a straight life) to living with Joe? Had he only been using Joe (I mean, who was paying for their vacations together?) While I seriously doubt if Frank was totally straight, perhaps he -- and even Joe -- thought of himself as a heterosexual. Was Joe so in love, so lonely, that he'd take up with a "straight" guy, knowing all the while that he'd inevitably walk out on him? Was Joe invited to the wedding? Did he stand there pretending to be happy for the man he loved while his heart was breaking? Did he make any attempt to make Frank see that his marriage could merely have been an act of internalized homophobia? (Joe was not exactly an activist type, however.) We lost touch and I never got the answers to these questions, or learned how he ultimately dealt with losing his companion. I don't even know if he's alive.

I think some gay men just fall for these SCBs and desperately hope that they're not only gay but will eventually feel the same way about them. Or at the very least that the SCB will make the smitten one part of their lives. Maybe they hope that they'll be able to turn them into loving friends or son substitutes -- they're just so infatuated that they desperately need to be part of their lives in some capacity. (And of course there are some self-hating homosexuals who feel they can only love a "straight" man -- talk about pre-Stonewall attitudes!)

Another friend of mine fell in love with a younger, straight co-worker. He denied he felt this way -- for some reason the gay men who fall for SCBs never want to admit it (more on that later) -- but (as is always the case) he talked and talked about the SCB practically to the exclusion of all else, which is a dead giveaway, trust me on this. The two became fast friends, a friendship which has survived the straight guy's two or three marriages. My friend has sort of been adopted by the family, and is godfather to some of the younger man's children. For his sake I hope that by this time he thinks of the SCB as a good, loving friend and nothing more. But this friend has always had strong guilt feelings over his homosexuality, and a sexless relationship with a straight man is, to him, sadly, preferable to a romantic and sexual relationship with another gay man. [This is of course similar to the situation with married homosexuals.]

Since I have no guilt feelings over being gay, it was a surprise to me when I (briefly) became infatuated myself with one of these SCBs. This was a complete surprise to me and I was not in any way thrilled with the development. After a couple of months of intense, foolish feelings, something clicked in my brain and common sense prevailed. I made no passes, asked for no dates, and certainly spent no money (he was not a hustler in any case). Now a bar friend of mine has become "best buddies" with the very same guy, goes out to dinner with him, exchanges text messages, and so forth and so on. He vehemently denies that he is in love with him, but talks and talks and talks about him incessantly....

Oy vey. When I look at him and see the goofy love light in his eyes, I can only shake my head ruefully and think "better him than me." Who on earth knows where this will lead but I know it probably won't be anywhere good -- or at least very sexy.

I dodged a bullet and don't I know it!

We gay men do not need SCBs. There are plenty of Great Gay Guys out there, out and proud men who will never give us half the grief and bullshit of the SCBs. Sure, gay men aren't perfect, not every relationship works and some gay guys wind up married to Out and Proud stinkers, but at least you don't have to spend half your time wondering "Is he or isn't he?" or "Is he really 'bi' or just ashamed ?" and all the rest of the crap.

SCBs haunt the gay community like prick-teasing incubi. Hopefully some of them will finally grow up and turn into Out and Proud Gay Men -- and the rest will just go away!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The "He Was Gay" Defense


There's something disturbing (on many different levels) going on in recent high-profile murder cases.

You could call it the "he was gay" defense.

That is, the defense team for an accused murderer (or murderess) suggests that the victim was gay, a closet queen, or had homosexual impulses, and that this was what led to their death. It wasn't their client who committed the murder; It must have been the proverbial gay stranger, someone they picked up, who stabbed them or bashed them to death. Why could it not have been a stranger of the opposite sex who did the deed? The implication seems to be that people who practice gay sex are somehow weirder, edgier, nastier than heterosexual people, it's that whole sick gay lifestyle. Men who have sex with other men are strange, perverted, somehow deserving of their brutal fate. Then there's the implication that closet cases are more likely than other gays to take chances with risky people.

Then there's the other side of the coin. Naturally the loved ones of the victim, as well as reporters and others, cry foul. Why, the victim isn't around to defend himself from "charges" of being gay. I find this even more obnoxious and perhaps even more homophobic. It's like being gay is the worst possible thing you can be.

The "he was gay" defense was used in two recent murder trails: the murder of Ted Ammon (pictured) at the hands of his ex-wife's lover, Danny Pelosi. And the trial of Nancy Kissel for the murder of her investment banker husband, Rob.

You've probably heard of these two cases. Nancy Kissel was the American woman in Hong Kong who poisoned her husband (who told her he wanted a divorce, thereby ending her cushy lifestyle) with a milkshake, and then left his body to decompose in a carpet. Smart, this woman was not. Her defense team made much of the fact that, according to computer experts, Rob spent several hours looking at gay porn and gay prostitute web sites not long before he died. While this doesn't necessarily make the man a closet queen (although it's certainly compelling) the defense introduced this material to make the jury feel that he was into sick, twisted things and this may have led to his death. However, they weren't able to come up with a suspect, a gay stranger or prostitute who may have poisoned him and put him in the carpet (and would he have had somebody like that come to his home? Hardly). Curiously, the toxicology report confirmed that Rob's body was full of the same prescription drugs that Nancy had recently received from doctors, all of whom would have made him sleepy and unable to defend himself from her attack.

In the case of Ammon, Danny Pelosi's defense team brought forth a man who claimed to have had sex with Ammon on the gay beach near his estate. Ammon supposedly called his girlfriend and told her he was walking near the beach and wasn't sure if it were gay or not. People have said that it was unlikely Ammon wouldn't have known about the beach's reputation. Would Ammon have mentioned that he was on this beach to his girlfriend if he was a closeted gay/bi, or was he afraid she would somehow find out about it and wanted a ready explanation? Was he testing the waters, trying to come out to her slowly and carefully?

On an episode of Dateline this past Friday (7/18/08) that went into the case, a man who had written about the murder trial for Vanity Fair was interviewed and poo poohed the idea that Ammon could have had an interest in men. "He certainly has had a long history of enjoying the company of women," he told Dateline. Which certainly doesn't mean that he didn't also enjoy the "company" of men. I still find it amazing that in this, the 21st century, there are people who don't seem to realize or recognize that many married men with children -- be they bisexuals or married homosexuals -- are fooling around with guys as well. (What made it stranger was that the Vanity Fair reporter, whatever his sexual orientation, was kind of "queeny." Does he think that because Ammon wasn't limp-wristed this means he can't possibly be gay?)

Both Ammon and Kissel may have been closeted gay/bi men, but this doesn't mean that contributed to their deaths, unless Nancy Kissel and Danny Pelosi found out about these interests and were homophobically repulsed, or felt they were deserving of death because they slept -- or wanted to sleep -- with men.

Many people have wondered what Ammon's wife Amarosa (who died of cancer) saw in Danny Pelosi, who I happen to think is one of the grossest, least attractive men on the planet. I mean, the man turns my stomach! Apparently she wanted to rub Ammon's face in the fact that she was sleeping, spending Ammon's money, with someone as dead-common and disgusting as Ammon was classy, handsome and successful.

Whether these two victims, Rob and Ted -- if they were gay -- would have ever accepted themselves and come out, we'll never know.

Their murderers took away that option forever.

Of course sometimes it's the prosecutors who use the "he's gay" bit to demonize a defendant. This happened in the case of a man who was accused of murdering his wife. She had supposedly fallen down a flight of stairs while drunk. Amazingly, this also happened to another woman in the guy's life a few years earlier. The defendant had contacted a male prostitute, who smirked in the witness box as he told of how they'd exchanged emails (but never met in the flesh). I wouldn't necessarily say it was homophobic of the prosecuting team to bring in the hustler, as sometimes married homosexuals do come to hate and resent their wives, but I've no doubt they were hoping the jury would have a negative reaction to his possible interest in men.

Just as I've no doubt that -- sadly -- many of the defendant's loved ones would think the "accusation" that he was gay was just as bad if not worse than his being accused of being a murderer.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brokeback Mountain -- The Opera

NOTES FROM AN "ART AND CULTURE" OTTER

First, let's deal with the movie. This is what I had to say about it when I first saw it:

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005). Director: Ang Lee.

This is based on a novella by Annie Proulx that appeared in The New Yorker in 1997. The story deals with an awkward, stumbling, but affecting love affair between two stoic cowboys, Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger), and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), both of whom marry women and have families while keeping the other in his heart – and having infrequent assignations -- until a tragic conclusion ends their affair forever. The story begins in 1963, when it was much less easy for gays to accept themselves and come out, but these men, especially Ennis, still seem comparatively closeted twenty years later when it was a different story. The film works on two levels: as an examination of the stifling, hypocritical, mendacious half-life inside the closet, and a sub-text of all the emotional damage that men like Ennis and Jack do to the women who innocently love them. The performances from everyone in the cast are excellent, with Ledger particular outstanding, although he doesn't register a strong enough reaction to the devastating news he gets late in the picture. In fact, the film tries a little too hard not to be overly sentimental or manipulative. The screenwriters aren't always on target. Since both del Mar and Twist are essentially homosexual, the movie doesn't have them getting jealous of their various opposite sex involvements, but two people in love would get jealous no matter what the sex of the other lover. The movie doesn't really delve that much into the ironies of the closet [when one says “I'm no queer” after their first sexual experience together, the other replies “Me, neither,” in spite of the fact that he's just taken it up the ass.] The sexual interludes are initially devoid of tenderness, kissing, but become more romantic – but never pornographic – as the film proceeds. Ang Lee proves a better director of dramas than of the action films he's done in the past. Not necessarily a masterpiece, but certainly an interesting, absorbing, and worthwhile motion picture. However, it's hard not to notice that this film doesn't exactly detail a positive, openly gay relationship between two liberated people, which Hollywood still may not be ready for. William Schoell.

The New York City Opera Company (NYCO) -- not to be confused with the more prestigious Metropolitan Opera Company (The Met) -- commissioned composer Charles Wuorinen to work on an operatic version of the original story. Proulx may or may not work on the libretto; Wourinen, who may or may not be gay, won't start work on the project until 2009. NYCO doesn't plan to premiere the work until 2013, by which time Wuorinen will be 75. But let's remember that Richard Strauss wrote some of his greatest operas when he was older than that.

Okay. A quick aside about the relationship between gay men and opera. There is none. I happen to love opera, but few of my gay friends of any age will even go with me. I know there are other gay guys who like opera, but we're not as large in number as people seem to imagine. Just another cliche about the gay community. (Although, may I say, that since opera is a pretty classy art form, if we all were opera fans, so much the better. But we're not. Trust me on this.)

This is how it came about. Tom Hanks played a gay man in the mainstream movie Philadelphia. He played a gay man who loves opera. Lots of people went to see the movie. And somehow it came into being the idea that not only are all gay men obsessed with show tunes, but with opera as well.

(I believe my love of this type of music has little to do with my sexual orientation. Rather I was raised by two parents who went to see virtually every Broadway show that opened, and my mother and grandfather were big opera fans. I was also lucky enough to have a good family friend who was very much into the art form as well.)

So what do I think about Brokeback Mountain -- The Opera? Well, I'll try to keep an open mind, but two thoughts do come to mind.

A.) Apparently Wuorinen is an very modern, atonal composer, and I happen to prefer music from the romantic period. My favorite operatic composers are Pietro Mascagni, Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppi Verdi, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold (who slummed when he wrote some excellent scores for Hollywood movies but was essentially a composer of opera). If I felt Wuorinen had the stuff of these guys, that would be one thing, but few if any modern composers do. I have a feeling if the opera works at all it will work because of the story, not the music. I fear it will be two or three hours of blathery tuneless "arias" that no one will want to hear once, let alone twice. But I could be wrong.

B.) Here we have an opera -- one that may well get a big attendance -- not about two Out and Proud gay men who happen to suffer the torments of a homophobic society, but two closet queens. Admittedly there may seem to be more drama and poignancy in this situation. Or at least straight people and married homosexuals may think there is.

Jeez. Let's see. Just what we need. An opera about married homosexuals.

Oy vey!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gay Pride Doings


THE BEST LAID PLANS

Okay, these are two things I don't usually do on this blog, run sexy photos like this one of these two leather guys kissing, and talk a bit about my personal life. But what the hell?

Gay Pride weekend didn't quite go off the way I intended it would, but what can you do? I think the Gay Pride March in New York is extremely important, but I can also be a little cynical about it. I wonder how many of those marching -- or parading -- go right back in the closet as soon as they get home. Still, at least it's good that they "come out" for that one day, though preferably we'd all be out 365 days a year. How else will people learn who and what we are?

Despite this cynical feeling I was going to march but a very close elderly friend of mine asked if I would accompany him to the PRIDEfest on Hudson Street instead -- the march would be too much for him. I agreed, but on the Sunday in question he didn't want to go out in the rain. Well, when you're elderly I say you've earned the right to say, fuck it, I don't wanna go and that's that! But by the time he'd come to his decision the march was nearly over.

It's too bad the PRIDEfest --due to permit hassles and so on -- had to be held the very same day as the March. The rain came and went but it was not a terribly festive event, at least when I was there. There were the usual booths selling food and other items like are featured in every other street fair. The thing that made this one different were that now and then there'd be a booth from GMHC, the New York Blade, Human Rights Campaign, and so on, and if some people from small towns were able to gain info and insight from these booths, I guess the PRIDEFest served its purpose. I saw none of the promised street entertainers but at least we were spared mimes (sorry).

So that night I was all ready, willing and able to party. I made new friends, saw old ones, and re-connected with some people I haven't seen in a while. I had a great time all told, although there were "incidents" in every bar I went to.

Down at the Dug Out at the bottom of Christopher Street I ran into a guy that I was supposed to have a date with on Friday (we'd met some weeks earlier in a bar). Unfortunately, there was some confusion and misunderstanding and it never came off. He was not too thrilled with this development -- neither was I, of course -- and I wanted to sink into the floor with guilt and slink out the back door. Still, it was odd. He said he had the use of a friend's apartment for the night and wanted me to come up. Instead of simply giving me the address and apartment number -- which, after all, would be the usual thing to do -- he told me he'd meet me on one of the four street corners nearby, this on a busy Friday night on one of the busiest intersections in Manhattan. It just seemed weird to me, and it seemed even weirder when he later told me that he did this because "I didn't know the address."

"But you told me you were calling from this friend's apartment?" I said. How could he not know the address? And there was some other stuff relating to this, none of which made much sense.

You see, I figured either he was blowing me off ("Gee, I guess we must have missed each other in the crowd") at best or at worst something else strange was going on. Was there even an apartment? Did he have the friend's permission to use it? Was I being overly paranoid? Possibly. But I decided not to go.

"I waited for 45 minutes!" he said. "I checked out every cab! What's wrong with meeting someone on a street corner -- You could go to an apartment and get jumped by four guys!"

I apologized profusely, wishing I had handled it all better, and knowing he had instantly classified me as "asshole." I mentioned a terrible thing that happened to an acquaintance of mine a few years ago. Still, I wish he had accepted some responsibility for what happened. I asked a number of people about it and everyone told me they also thought that meeting at an intersection when there was an apartment waiting seemed a strange thing to do. I had suggested to him that we might have a drink or two at a bar beforehand, but he said if it was up to him he'd rather we just get down to business. As one guy said, "it's like he didn't want to be seen with you in any bar where people knew you."

Too bad. He's probably a perfectly nice fellow, an attractive man, but all I can say is if I was as anxious as he says he was to get my hands on somebody I would have made damn sure I knew the address and the apartment number and told my date to ring the buzzer at the prescribed hour. But maybe that's just me.

Anyhoo, the next incident was at Ty's bar. My favorite place, it's generally a no-attitude bar and that's one of the things I like about it. Tonight, a few fellows brought an Eagle/Aren't I wonderful? attitude with them, these absolutely massive men brushing past everybody without even bothering to say "excuse me" as they stepped on your feet and practically knocked the drink out of your hand, not bothering to turn sideways or something so that they could walk on by without knocking into you.

Then there was the bathroom monitor, some guy I guess they hired for the night to direct the customers into which bathroom they should go. (Don't ask me why. We've never needed a bathroom monitor before.) Talk about attitude -- this guy had not a trace of friendliness about him and this in a bar where the staff is very friendly and down to earth.

To cap it all, I was cruised (I think) by a guy with a really bad pick up line: "I love my wife."

Well, then, go home to her and leave me the fuck alone. Yes, it was my umpteenth married homosexual talking about how he loved his wife (but was probably not in love with her) but absolutely hungered for a man. Conversationally, I asked if he might be bisexual, and of course he seized upon this, but we both knew he was homo, not bi, and that whenever he has sex outside of wedlock it's with a man. (You see, it sounds much better to say you're a "hip" swingin' bisexual than a pathetic old-fashioned closet queen.)

"I love my wife," he repeated. "What do you want me to do?"

I wanted to say, just leave me alone, that's what you can do, but before I could tell him I didn't want him to do a damn thing but go, he disappeared into the crowd, which is what married homosexuals always do when they meet someone Out and Proud who are in no mood for their bullshit. He wasn't celebrating Gay pride by coming out or getting past his shame over being homosexual, he just wanted to get laid and go home and lie some more to his wife.

Up at Boots and Saddle near 7th avenue, there was a lively, affectionate crowd. It's becoming a fun place again. Then suddenly I turn my head and find myself staring into the face of The Malevolent Munchkin of Christopher Street. How ironic to find him there on Gay Pride Sunday. Apparently he was working at some place across the street and was on a break or something. The last time we faced each other he was trying -- unsuccessfully -- to throw me out of the bar (he no longer works there) because I supposedly said something he didn't like. (Imagine, bartenders who want to monitor your conversation and insist you leave because they don't like what you're saying! And no, it wasn't because I had too much to drink, because you can practically be lying on the floor at Boots and they'll serve you.)

Mercifully, the munchkin took one look at me and went outside to chat with one of his former co-workers, now the manager. I used to be fond of the munchkin, but when someone I'm nice to treats me like shit I write them off at least until they apologize.

Munchkins! Married Homosexuals! Angry Intersectionists! Big Rude Guys with Attitude "straight" from the Eagle!

You never know what or who you'll run into on Gay Pride Sunday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oops!


DON'T POST WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPY!

Okay, in my last post on the possibilities of Tyrone Power, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy being homosexual, there was this incredible sentence:

His daughter, who died before he was even born, insists he wasn't gay.

Man, that's quite a feat, dying not only before you're born, but before your father's born. (Power's daughter was actually born after the death of her father. )

Thanks to ksen, who pointed out this error. The sentence has since been changed.

Wish this would be the last time I make a bonehead mistake that bad, but it probably won't be!
In any case:
HAPPY GAY PRIDE EVERYONE!
And let's hope the days of the closet, of shame, of lying about your sexuality and hiding the truth about others', will one day be over!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So What If Somebody's Gay?


I don't know if actor Tyrone Power (pictured) was gay, but I remember all the controversy that happened when Hector Arce came out with a biography that claimed he was either gay or bi. As I've said on previous posts, an author had better have some sort of substantiation, some interviews with those in the know, or else the whole thing backfires. My take on Power was that he was essentially a homosexual man who knew that if he didn't have relationships with women to quell any rumors of his frequent homoerotic activities, he could kiss his Hollywood career good-bye.

His daughter, who wasn't even born until after he died, insists that Power wasn't gay. I mean, come on. How the hell would she know one way or another? Does she really think gay men aren't capable of fathering children? (Even after the Jim McGreevey scandal I can't believe how this nonsense persists.) Power's fans give evidence of all his relationships with women -- he dated this one and that one -- and how that allegedly proves he was straight.

Jeez. A few months ago The Advocate ran a story about a military man who'd been married for years and had five children and came out of the closet as a gay man after one of his sons came out.

What really bugs me is the always-homophobic notion that a certain individual couldn't possibly be gay because:

1.) they were married and/or had children.

2.) They dated members of the opposite sex.

3.) They were, like, nice people and just couldn't be "one of those," as we're all so nasty and "kinky" and immoral.

4.) They didn't conform to any of the stereotypes of gay people.

And so on.

Just this week Gay City News ran an interview with Katharine Hepburn's niece, who refutes the assertions by two biographers I respect that both she and supposed "lover" Spencer Tracy were gay or bi. She particularly snickers at the suggestion that macho Tracy could be gay. Then of course, we get the usual disclaimer. "I'm all for anybody being whatever they want to be" or words to that effect. Sure. As long as it's not a member of your family or someone you otherwise respect. Bullshit.

Why did Gay City News give space to this homophobe -- and on the eve of Gay Pride Sunday no less?

Sure, I'm all in favor of accuracy -- as I've said you can't just claim someone was gay because you feel like it -- but when will people get over this whole notion that it's something shocking and shameful?

So what if somebody's gay?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some A-holes Never Go Away


You remember Matt Sanchez, the marine who became the Republican party's darling, until they found out he had starred in several gay porn films and had been a prostitute with male clients? Is he gay? Well, if you want to think totally straight guys act in hardcore gay porn films and have sex with other men, go ahead and think he's straight. Oh, what's that? -- he's "gay for pay, huh?" I'm not saying he's gay or bi, but it seems to me that guys who are really hetero can think of easier -- ahem, straighter -- ways of making a dollar. I believe on one radio interview Sanchez claimed that when he was with his male sex clients they weren't really engaging in gay sex (despite the sucking and fucking, yeah) because -- get this! -- his clients were in the closet and didn't think of themselves as being gay. Apparently he doesn't either. Therefore it wasn't gay sex. But it was definitely homosexual, what with there being two guys on the bed and all.

I wouldn't necessarily call Sanchez and his clients, or porn co-stars, gay men --as in "Out and Proud" gay -- but 100% hetero they're not. (I'll have more on this men-who-have-sex-with-men-but-who-are-really- hetero nonsense -- which apparently at least one gay therapist has swallowed -- on a future post.)

As for Sanchez, you'd think this self-hating jerk would have run and hid himself away -- or at least stopped yapping about the gay community -- but he's recently written a piece on "Obama's 'gay' problem" on something called worldnetdaily.

In the article Sanchez writes:

"Obama ruffled LGBT sensitivities when an ex-gay gospel singer headlined during the early days of Obama's presidential run. Gay activists protested to have the singer removed from the campaign The peddlers of pride, diversity, free speech, tolerance and fairness in the workplace wanted the singing black guy fired for disagreeing with them. If that sounds as inconsistent as the vows of two men publicly promising to be monogamous to one another, don't worry; none of this stuff is supposed to make sense..."

Here we go again. Those of us who are oppressed are being "hypocritical" if we protest against a political candidate giving added national exposure to a man who preaches intolerance and who spews ridiculous lies about the gay community. Surely most political candidates would not want to ally themselves with blatant Nazi's or racists, but it's okay to have a homophobe who spouts garbage be highly visible during your campaign? Oh, I get it. We progressive, wimpy gays are just supposed to sit back and let stupid, bigoted people say any damn thing they want about us, especially when they attach themselves to a political candidate, which may give their stupid views more weight and exposure. Blacks and Jews would certainly not put up with that crap, so why should Gays?

As for Sanchez' snide comments about monogamous gay couples, all I can say is they come from a porn star and a prostitute. I couldn't care less about Sanchez' background; I've never been a boy scout and have no moral objection to pornography or prostitution. The trouble is Sanchez' utter hypocrisy. Funny, conservatives like Sanchez are the ones who argue that no one is born gay, that it's a choice (even if it were, which it isn't, that doesn't make it wrong. But homosexuality isn't a choice -- the choice is in deciding to be open and proud as opposed to closeted and dishonest.) So I can imagine what the conservatives Sanchez courts really think of him -- a supposed "straight" guy who chose time and again to engage in homosexual acts -- for money, no less. (Or enjoyment.) By the way, his porn star/prostitute past is not mentioned on worldnetdaily. Wonder why?

I mean, is this guy a complete asswipe or what?

Matt then decides to rewrite history a la Sanchez with this paragraph:

"Ever notice the LGBT advocates constantly compare the same-sex struggle to the civil rights movement? According to polls, African-Americans are the most opposed to the legalization of gay marriage, and no black leader has endorsed the comparison between racial equality and the "right" for pre-op transsexuals to get a taxpayer funded sex change. The liberal interpretation of the civil rights struggle through the rainbow-colored glasses of the "queer theory" activist would have given the Rev. Martin Luther King a nightmare, rather than a dream."

Okay, Sanchez has a hot line to Martin Luther King, eh? Actually, if King were alive today, he might well be pro-gay and pro-LGBT. There are many black leaders who support Gay Rights and Gay Marriages, including New York's new governor David A. Paterson. And he's just one of many. Sanchez is such a pathetic loser that he thinks it's okay to sow divisiveness between the LGBT community and the African-American community, forgetting that there are many people who belong to both communities and not only that a.) many gays fought for civil rights, but that b.) many blacks are entirely sympathetic to, and in part identity with, the LGBT struggle.

But in Sanchez' sad, sorry, self-hating worldview, all that matters is that the defrocked media darling attack the Out and Proud community that snickered at his "straight"ness and recoiled from his hypocrisy. I'm sure he got a big surprise -- thinking the whole gay community would eagerly embrace this modestly-attractive ex-porn star and hooker -- But I'm so hot how can they reject me? he thinks -- instead of puking. Hell, he could be the hottest porn star-hooker on the planet. Stupid is not sexy.

So puke is what we all did, and will continue to do every time he opens his mouth and attacks us. Maybe someday he'll get the message and just go away.

Matt Sanchez -- forgotten but not gone.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pesky Flies


Okay, a few months ago as I reported I was at a party at the gay -- I mean, LGBT -- center on 13th Street in Manhattan. Towards the end of the party this very inebriated woman began a conversation with me. "My boyfriend used to be gay," she said. (And this at the LGBT center.)

"I don't think it works that way," I told her. Taking pity, I decided to take a stab as well. "Do you mean he's bisexual and happened to fall in love with a woman?"

"That's right!" she said. "A lot of people don't get that." (No kidding.)

I felt like saying, "well, why didn't you say that in the first place instead of saying he used to be gay, which sounds moronic" -- but she was too drunk.

The boyfriend flounced into the room and believe me he was the gayest thing in New York City. Right away I pretty much knew who was paying the bills.

Some how I got on this gal's invitation email list so I get invites to parties that I have no desire to attend. On her web site she has photos of "her boys" -- I guess all the gay men she's managed to sleep with or whatever. Jeez, there's (supposedly) a lot more straight men in this world than gay men, can't she find herself a straight guy and leave the gay (or bi) guys to us men?

Now I've met gals like this before. They're basically "fag hags" -- a term that I hate since it's disparaging of both gay men and women in general -- although today they often use the term "fruit flies." (Get it? Fruit? Fruit fly. Ha ha! How progressive!) On another post I mentioned how "fag hags" often suffered from severe lack of esteem and could be quite homophobic as well. The whole concept of "fag hag" is dated anyway. There are plenty of straight women who happen to have a few gay friends, big deal. The idea of a woman completely immersing herself in gay culture instead of finding a straight boyfriend and having a few gay friends has always been a little pathetic anyway. But at least the "fag hags" of old didn't try to date or sleep with the gay guys they hung out with. Today's "fruit flies" or ffs take it a step further. They turn their gay pals into boyfriends. Oy vey!

Most if not all of these women have bucks, either from good jobs or-- more likely -- trust funds. They have plenty of free time. Since they suffer from low self-esteem they somehow feel more womanly or sexier or something if they can seduce a man who's essentially homosexual. (Since their boyfriends tend to be very effeminate maybe they're just repressed lesbians. They stroke them in bed while they dream about Jodie Foster.) Well, I'm sure there are a lot of Starving Artist Gay Guys who are only too willing to be seduced by a woman if a new wardrobe, a beautiful apartment, and never-having-to-pay-another-bill-again (until the ff finds a new victim) goes along with the occasional foray into pussy during which they desperately ponder Brad Pitt or whoever just to keep it up. [So there we have it. She dreams about Jodie, he thinks about Brad, and as they're screwing or whatever they think they're both being heterosexual!]

FFs can be reasonably attractive women, but they are never "babes." Real babes can have their pick of men and they don't need to raid the gay bars for their next date.

I believe I saw this particular gal -- I think she calls herself Madame Frutefly or something similarly silly -- at one of my local hang outs a couple of weeks ago [what on earth were they doing there?] and she was with her nelly (not that there's anything wrong with that ) boyfriend or maybe he was a different one -- I mean, who can tell? -- In any case when he kissed her on the lips at what appeared to be her direction he not only looked uncomfortable but as if he'd rather be kissing just about any man in the room, and the bar was full of middle-aged (or to the young nelly guy's mind old) guys and some even had beer -- or bear -- bellies which I'm sure he detests but believe me he'd have rather swapped spit with any of them instead of his girlfriend -- who, of course, was buying the drinks. But then again -- nelly guy, modestly attractive older woman -- for all I know this was another ff and another boyfriend entirely. I'm sorry but they all look alike.

These pseudo-relationships last until the gal moves on or the guy finds -- well, a guy -- who can foot the bills or who will promise to make him a star. Maybe he'll even fall in love and risk poverty. Or maybe the ff will kick the guy out if she finds him in bed with a man about 20,000 times too often. Or she finds another nelly guy who looks even more like Jodie Foster. Who knows?

The thing is that ffs aren't really pro-gay. Their attitude is strictly pre-Stonewall. They won't accept that gay men should be with other gay men. They try and convince their boyfriends that they're bi when in most cases they aren't. They're not about helping men accept their gayness, they're about helping men repress it. Of course some ffs are smart enough to know that you can only repress so far, and they maintain an open relationship in which the nelly boyfriend can on occasion have sex with a guy (thank God, thank God, thank God thinks nelly boyfriend as he finally gets to have more fun in bed.)

But the eventual fate of most ffs is that they either run out of time or patience (despite the claims of the ex-gay movement you really can't turn a gay man straight) and move back to the small town that they all come from. (Not the same town, of course, but you never know. Maybe there's a place in New Jersey or Arkansas that spits these gals out.) Once there they marry the pudgy chiropodist or chiropractor and think "well, he's straight and he's a complete bore but at least when he makes love to me he's thinking about me and not Brad Pitt."

But she's wrong, of course.

He's thinking about Jodie Foster.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Doo Wop at the Stonewall -- or Not


OR HOW THE GAY COMMUNITY WAS HOOD-WINKED BY THE STRAIGHT OWNERS OF THE STONEWALL
So exactly how gay-owned is the new Stonewall Inn anyway?

While reviewing and updating my piece about being pounded on by an inebriated, supremely hideous straight guy at the not always gay-friendly Stonewall, something clicked in my mind about the name Bill Morgan, who is one of the co-owners of the Stonewall (as well as the primarily straight Duplex Inn up the street.)

I recall a few years ago there was a guy named Bill Morgan who sang and worked in the Duplex and other bars in the West Village area. He would occasionally poke into the Five Oaks and sing, and he was bartender there for a brief time (perhaps he was just filling in for someone). I only saw him in the mixed bars, never in the out and out gay cruise bars for hungry men such as Ty's and Boots and Saddle, and I really had no reason to think he was anything other than straight (and still don't for that matter). Morgan seemed perfectly pleasant and more or less gay-friendly, but I never did get to know him very well. I had a gay friend at the time who was a little smitten with Morgan -- I don't think poor Morgan quite knew what to make of him -- but Morgan was not my type and I had no particular interest in ferreting out any hidden truths about his orientation, assuming there were any. All I can say is that he specialized in a kind of "doo wop" kind of singing, that I have no appreciation for, and whenever he came on at the Five Oaks (I didn't go to the Duplex very often, and when I did usually went to the gayer bar upstairs) I figured it would be a good time to go to the rest room. I've no doubt he did Doo Wop as well as anyone, but I'm not surprised he didn't make a career of it. Can anyone make a career of Doo Wop these days -- who knows?

I read that after working at the Duplex for many years, he became the co-owner of that bar along with Tony DeCicco. Writing about their acquisition of the Stonewall Inn in 2007 (along with Kurt Kelly, who now manages Stonewall), most reporters assumed Morgan and DeCicco were a gay couple, but it is quite possible both are simply heterosexual business partners. On his "My Space" page Morgan mentions how he owns both bars (he does not mention either co-owner) and on the list of personal statistics says that he is "married" and "straight." Oddly, while there are several photographs on his page, there is none of his wife -- there doesn't even seem to be a mention of her. (I'm assuming there is or was a wife because he says "straight" and "married.") Morgan does not mention being married on his page on the Duplex web site, but DeCicco mentions his "lovely wife Donna" and his two children on the same site.

Now let me make it clear that I am not saying that this is the case, but wouldn't it be bizarre -- and a little funny/sad considering the bar they co-own -- if DeCicco were Morgan's "wife?" If Morgan and DeCicco were gay or bi but say they're strictly straight when they co-own the bar that ushered in the whole modern-day Gay Rights Movement? I'm not saying this is the case -- and frankly I hope it isn't -- but remember it was in the Stonewall Inn that I met young Mike, the bartender who told everyone he was straight with a girlfriend but confided in me that he also "fooled around with men" (but couldn't even go so far as to identify as bisexual). So who the hell knows?

Now if both Morgan and DeCicco are actually straight -- which they may be (and with a wife and children DeCicco is clearly living a straight lifestyle, but this doesn't necessarily make him a married homosexual) -- they get points for not going out of their way to point that out in all the interviews they gave on their acquisition of the Stonewall. They could be two cool straight guys who know there's nothing wrong in being gay and don't really care if some people wrongly think they're homos. Or do they get points? Perhaps they only let everyone assume they were gay and didn't correct them because they didn't want everyone in the gay community to know that the ol' Stonewall was still primarily straight-owned, that it was two straight businessmen who were taking over a spot that meant so much to the gay community. Which may explain why the place hasn't fulfilled its promise to become a great gay bar for the whole community and has just turned into a bland (gay and straight) mixed cocktail lounge that might as well be called The Duplex II. They downplayed their hetero status, played up that house queer Kurt Kelly would be co-owner (of how big a chunk, one wonders?), and made him manager, even as all three men made statements about how the previous owner of the Stonewall had done such a lousy job because he was -- you guessed it -- a straight guy (with a gay staff and probably gay manager, so what's the diff?)

I'd be willing to bet that the two straight guys are really calling the shots at the Stonewall Inn, and that they bought the place not to preserve it for the gay community but to eventually turn it into just what it's become, the Duplex II. They brought in prominent and gullible gay and lesbian investors for cash and appearance's sake, all the while knowing that most of the younger bar-happy gays in the city didn't remember and in general couldn't care less about the Stonewall Rebellion. If the straight overflow from the Duplex drove the gay customers away, why should Morgan and DeCicco care? That's ultimately just what they were hoping for, and that's just what's happening. If some gay groups who aren't in the loop occasionally hold a function there, so much the better. The bar will continue to hold on to some form of gay pedigree, and gay tourists with a sense of history will inoocently wander into the place and buy drinks -- although they probably won't stay very long.

I have to say I'm troubled that on Morgan's MySpace page he has a photo of himself with good buddy Danny Bonaduce - I think I'd be embarrassed to be a friend of Bonaduce's -- and lists one of his favorite TV shows as Hardball with the virulently homophobic host Chris Matthews! Also on his MySpace page Morgan has one "moving" photo of himself standing in front of the Stonewall. Jeez -- the camera pans down over his basket as if its some gay code or something. I'm not saying there aren't some gay people who might find him attractive but he's more likely to find them across the avenue at Boots and Saddle or down at the Dug Out -- well, maybe not, he's not exactly a macho bear-type -- than at the Stonewall, which seems more welcoming these days to drunken straights than it is to Out and Proud Gay Men.

But who knows?

All I know is that the slogan of the Stonewall Inn is "Where Pride Began" without the word "Gay." And I also know that a straight man (no matter how presumably gay-friendly or gay-supportive) -- or possibly a gay/bi man who says he's straight on his MySpace page? -- is probably not going to have much of a vested interest in making The Stonewall Inn the living homage to Gay Rights, and the Great Gay Bar, that people like me were hoping it would be.

Personally, I think the gay community was taken for a ride.

But then, The Stonewall Inn is all about money and has nothing whatsoever to do with Gay Pride. And anyone who doesn't realize it is a fool.