Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rum Dump at the Stonewall Inn

I've reported in the past how utterly disappointed I was in the "new" Stonewall Inn -- to put it mildly -- the historic bar where began the modern-day Gay Rights movement. (There was a movement even before the Stonewall rebellion, let's make that clear.) This mostly straight-owned bar with its deluge of drunken straight tourists from The Duplex, closeted bartenders, weird hostesses, and an almost total absence of gay pride finally made a little burp in that direction, although it was activist Wayne Besen who deserves the credit for it. He got the bar's owners to stage a "Rum Dump" at the bar to protest and publicize the fact that Jamaica (from whence comes Myer's Rum and Red Stripe Beer) has become "the most homophobic place on Earth." But there are other world-wide trouble spots, as Besen reports on his blog, which is essential -- and scary -- reading.

I've no doubt the owners of the Stonewall see this as a chance for publicity and probably don't care all that much about the situation in Jamaica (and can probably afford to lose the one or two bottles they had of Myers Rum) but at least it's a step in the right direction. But this Stonewall Inn is not and never has been (nor, I believe, will it ever be) the "historic" Stonewall Inn" regardless of its name and its location. LGBT groups will hold occasional events there because of this "history," but it's clear to me, at least, that the owners are less interested in history than they are in the kachung of the cash register, and I'm sure they would say "we're businessmen, who can blame us?" But they did play up the history of the bar in interviews for the gay press, in which they were often mistaken for a gay couple.

Wonder how big a crowd they got for the Rum Dump?

But if Besen can keep at the owners and get them to support more activist-oriented events and protests, maybe the bar can at some point turn into what it should be, or at least some approximation thereof.

But forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

In the meantime, if you see any of the offending Jamaican brands in your local gay bar, ask the manager not to order any more. A complete and total boycott of Jamaica and its products is what is called for, as Besen has noted.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

George Weber, R.I.P.

The news tonight is full of the murder of the "masseuse" who was killed by the clean cut guy who found her on Craig's list. About a month ago there was another murder that probably didn't get quite as much attention in the general media. Former ABC radio man George Weber hooked up for "rough sex" with a guy he met on Craig's List. This other guy, John Katehis, who says he is heterosexual (naturally) is 16 but looks older. Apparently you have to be 18 to use the sex ads on Craig's List, so there's a possibility Weber thought he was dealing with an adult.

There have been interesting reactions to this terrible event in the blogosphere. Weber was apparently a closeted conservative who didn't support gay marriage. He was into S & M and gave drugs and alcohol to a guy who looks like the poster boy for "bad news." But who among us hasn't occasionally exercised bad judgment when it comes to sex? And certainly Weber didn't deserve his fate just because he liked it rough and dangerous. [Was this an extension of his internalized homophobia?]

While one should not chortle over the horrible murder even of a closet case or hypocrite like Weber, I can't blame those who have suggested that this gruesome scene may never have enfolded had Weber been an Out and Proud self-accepting man with a loving partner and a healthier attitude toward himself. At the same time, we have to remember that any gay man -- even those of us who are Out and Proud -- can accidentally hook up (on line or in bars) with someone who turns out to be violent and dangerous. People always cluck their tongues when the sexually active get their "comeuppance" as if the murdered ones are sacrificial offerings for their bitterness over being left out of the party -- and that really stinks.

Weber was working in what some might considered a "macho" profession (newsman) and that may have been in part why he stayed in the closet, but I'm willing to bet it was more than that. It's more problematic to explain why he was a Republican,and why he was against gay marriage. It's likely that he had zero gay identity but rather was one of these allegedly "heterosexual" men who liked sex with other men. (I don't buy this heterosexual business for one minute, of course. I've no doubt some of Weber's straight friends, fearful of "guilt" by association, will paint him as a hetero.) Did he tell fag jokes one minute and make dates with men on Craig's List the next? Weber was probably homosexual but he was not a Gay Man.

One thing is certain: Weber has been demonized as a "pedophile" but even if he knew Katehis was 16, it would hardly make him a child molester. Pedophiles generally target much younger children. Besides, Katehis looks about as "child-like" as a panther. Apparently his lawyer is planning on painting Weber as a predator and his client as his victim. As others have pointed out, Katehis' youth may work in his favor at trial. Katehis claims that he stabbed Weber --- fifty times, mostly in the back!-- in "self-defense" when Weber took out a knife to cut the duct tape binding his legs. (Need I say anymore?)

Whatever one's feelings about this, the whole business is just sad on so many levels. Here we have another "self-hating homo" who probably avoided gay bars and gay men like the plague, but was driven by that very self-hatred into a violent encounter with someone most of us would cross the street to avoid. And Katehis is probably another conflicted type, just as self-hating, stabbing to death the man with whom he'd just had a sexual encounter (if you can even call it that).

The ultimate irony is the very gay activists that guys like Weber generally have disdain for will be on his side when the defense argues that he was just a predator who got what he deserved.

The saddest thing is that Weber was deprived of the day when he might have finally come out proudly as a gay man. He might someday have actually done some good for the gay community. Who knows?

Instead he became the subject of a lurid news story.

A fate I wouldn't wish on anyone.