Friday, March 27, 2009

As the Gay World Turns

Never did I dream that one day I would be recommending a soap opera, but I have to say that the gay developments on a CBS soap called As The World Turns have become increasingly interesting and decidedly pro-gay.

Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) are the young college-age gay couple on the program. Luke came out of the closet first, while Noah -- whom Luke suspected was gay -- was dating a young lady. Noah resisted at first, but eventually came out of the closet, which prompted his homophobic father to take a shot at Luke. Luckily, Luke survived the attack and Noah's father eventually died.

After awhile the producers introduced a young lady who needed to get married or else she would be sent back to her homeland and in all likelihood killed. So she and Noah got married and moved in together, but the producers assured gay viewers that the storyline was not going to go the way they feared. Noah and the young lady did not hop into the sack, and in fact so far the show has resisted making Noah bisexual. [TV shows often make gay characters bisexual not to explore or highlight the bisexual lifestyle, but because they know the mostly heterosexual viewers will feel more comfortable with a character who, despite their same-sex attraction, can enter into an audience-pleasing relationship with a member of the opposite sex at any time. And anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.] Noah, like Luke, appears to have been conceived as a gay character, and hopefully that is the way it will remain.

Luke and Noah nearly broke up for one reason or another before they even had a chance to make love. Complaints that they rarely kissed were responded to with a scene of them happily smooching. A few weeks later they finally went to bed together. Now, we didn't actually see them in bed together the way we see straight couples -- which is, admittedly, annoying, and not because I have a prurient interest in seeing anything -- but at least they have given the guys an active sex life.

I also like the way that Luke is the more political and militant of the two, an activist, while Noah, who took much longer to accept himself, is more of a laid-back, make no waves kind of guy. It makes for interesting conflicts. But the two have also argued, like most couples, about things unrelated to their sexual orientation. However, they were recently denied housing because they were gay, which prompted Luke to hold a rally. I was ready to go until I remembered these are just ficitional characters, although they're playing out situations that occur in real life.

An interesting development occurred when Luke's grandmother's new, much younger and rather handsome husband made a pass at Luke! At first he denied being gay, then said he didn't label himself (where have I heard that before?) then came out only a few days after Lucinda, the grandmother, threw him out of the house for lying to and using her. Frankly, I think the show should have let this situation go on a little longer. The guy, who was closeted for years, seemed to find self-acceptance almost overnight. The producers seemed too anxious to wrap up the storyline. (Maybe the whole bit about married homosexuals just made them too nervous.)

A wild moment occurred when Luke came on to this guy on the very same night that he and Noah were supposed to make love for the first time. Noah went off with his ex-girlfriend -- now just a good friend -- but Luke, misunderstanding, got paranoid and drunk [Luke is not perfect and neither is Noah, another thing I like about them] and made a flagrant pass at his grandmother's husband. Noah, of course, came across the two of them making out and was furious. Most guys would have found it kind of funny -- your boyfriend kissing your grandmother's gay husband -- but Noah has always been a bit humorless as compared to Luke. They made up eventually, of course.

Just this week Luke's biological father Damian -- who sent him to a horrible camp when he found out he was gay -- is back in town, saying he's changed, and begging forgiveness. Frankly, I think it would be great if this sexy Italian told his son "I couldn't accept that you were gay because I couldn't accept myself" so he could come out of the closet, too, and maybe look up Lucinda's gay ex-husband-- they'd make a hot pair!

Ah, but has the homophobic Damian really turned over a new leaf -- or is there something else on his mind? Stay tuned.

Seriously, think what you will about soap operas, this is certainly a major development in the treatment of gay characters, who have been disproportionately non-existent on most soaps. If the storyline of Luke and Noah will make some housewives, house husbands, college kids and others rethink their position on Gay Rights, so much the better. It's also refreshing to see an uncompromising gay activist on daytime television (or anywhere for that matter). This would have been unheard of back in my Gay Activists Alliance media committee days, when all you generally saw were self-hating homos and suicidal lesbians.

As The World Turns has proven that there can be compelling drama in the story of a man's coming out, accepting himself, and fighting against prejudice in the most uncompromising of ways.

As for the rest of the show, I admit I fast forward through the other storylines because I just don't have time to watch a whole hour every day (Luke and Noah are not on every day or every week).

Finally, a clap of my hands to those young actors Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann who, in my opinion, do a splendid job of playing Luke and Noah. I have no idea of their private sexual orientation, and while it might be nice if gay actors were enacting these roles, I have to say that whether they're gay or straight they have my admiration for a job very well done.

As the World Turns is on Monday - Friday from 2 PM to 3 PM on CBS.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Attack of the Self-Hating Homos

Okay, you've heard of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Attack of the Giant Leeches, but have you ever been subjected to an attack by a self-hating homo? As much as I'd like to think that SHH's are a dying breed, they still exist. Most of them are in the religious ex-gay camps or on the down low, but a few identify as gay and can be found in gay bars and parties. They can strike when you least expect it.

It usually goes like this. SHH is offended by your gay identity because he or she has none of his/her own. Instead they're dealing with a lot of internalized homophobia. They are almost never out of the closet, even to family and [non-gay] friends, even though just about everyone knows that they're gay anyway.

What brings on an attack can be anything, but especially a discussion on gay rights and gay marriage. Self-hating homos will employ the same arguments that straight bigots use when discussing gay marriage and gay rights ["special privileges" to them]. Regardless of how old they are, they're stuck back in the 1970's.

Because they are on the periphery of the gay scene, they have little knowledge of it beyond their own sexual urges. They know little of homophobia or of the struggle for acceptance, and couldn't care less -- to their minds, it doesn't concern them. They tend to eschew relationships and their sex is of the anonymous (as opposed to casual) variety. They have sex not in actual beds and bedrooms but in parked cars and bushes. Even if they are not in heterosexual relationships (wife and kids), they very much resemble those kind of closet cases. Since they think of gay men in the most stereotypical of terms, and feel they are not in any way like them (except, ahem, for the attraction-to-men bit), they want to disassociate themselves as much as possible from gay guys. They deign to have friendships with openly gay men. [As if we need them.]

They speak of gays as if they are somehow apart from them (which in many ways is true; these people are homosexual but hardly Out and Proud). Like straight bigots they will point out all the outrageous [to them] participants in Gay Pride parades -- "those drag and leather queens, why would I want to march with them?" -- blindly ignoring the fact that most participants in Gay Marches are just average folk who happen to be gay. [Let me make it clear that I am not putting down the more flamboyant marchers.]

They speak of total disdain for gay culture, gay life. Because they are essentially unhappy, they blame it all on their being homosexual. They brag about how they hardly ever go to gay bars, how they have few if any gay friends. In their own minds this somehow makes them better than the rest of us. Their superiority complex only masks an inferiority complex -- but it doesn't fool anyone.

An aside: Most of us certainly have and should have heterosexual friends. But whenever I meet a homosexual person who says, in that certain "superior" tone, that most of their friends are straight, I always get an impression that they feel this makes them somehow better in their own eyes because after all, they think heterosexuals are better than gays [or at least that it's better to be straight than gay].

Sometimes you can help a self-hating homo to find acceptance. More often they set up a stony wall of attitude that it's impossible to breach. They need therapy and counseling but will rarely seek it. They prefer to wallow in their misery.

Some of these people stay shivering in their closets. Others do real damage to themselves and others. They never understand that by acting as if there's something wrong with being gay, they insult every gay person they choose to associate with.

SHH's are all over the Internet. They have strong opinions, but their opinions are always ill-conceived and uneducated because, as they admit, they are on the periphery of gay life. Still they persist in mouthing off on message boards and blogs.

Always anonymously.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cutting Through the Bullshit

I'm still getting some responses to my post on asexuality, but I'm not going to revisit that issue, except to include one final comment that I received a few days ago, which actually raises a whole other issue; It goes like this:

Look... Buddy...I actually agree with a few of your points here. I agree that this is not a natural orientation. I agree that the LGBT community taking it on is a very stupid idea. I agree that all those who are asexual and experience problems because of it [are] in need of help. I especially agree with your last paragraph that states that if they don't want help, let them go for it. I myself have an asexual friend who is perfectly content with it. There's nothing wrong with that. I may not think it's natural but they're far more content with life than I myself am, so, let them.But your wording - your referring to it as a disability - your tone... It's just far too offensive. Many of your points are valid but you are not going to convince anyone with an approach like that. If anything you're just going to make them more resolute in their ways. I can understand how you would be upset and offended about this, but to have any hope of a credible point, you just need to calm down. (Shinkada) 3/4/09

Shinkada makes some good points. Actually I am a pretty calm person for the most part. But I've never suffered fools gladly, and my sense of humor, irreverence, and my refusal to always adhere to political correctness, may make me seem overly blunt, even nasty, to some people.

I myself have told others that if you tell somebody something in a nasty tone, the other person will miss your message and only focus on the nastiness. That being said, I don't think my post was especially nasty -- when I come across something that I just feel is kind of dopey, my let's-cut-through-the-bullshit attitude comes flaring forth and there's little I can do to stop it. My irreverent tone, my belief that there's humor in almost all things, pisses off those who take themselves, perhaps, way too seriously.

Anyway, on to other issues ....