Friday, 8 December 2017

The Globe and Mail Demonizes Gay Life



Do you frequent Church Street? Do you like to meet guys on Grindr? 
Are you living in fear?
According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail you are terrified because ‘unease has been growing in recent years as a result of a spate of missing-person cases that remain unsolved.’
Tu Tanh Ha’s article is blatantly homophobic: filled with unproven speculation and misinformation.
Yes, it is true that queer people (gay, trans and lesbian) have been, at times in the past, beaten and killed by homophobic and transphobic people. And yes it’s also true that recently there have been posters in the gay village for a missing man --Andrew Kinsman. And it’s true that recently a woman named Tess Richey was killed near Church Street.
But are queer people scared to go out on Church Street? Should they be?
The answer is a resounding ‘NO.’
The article in the Globe and Mail seems to lay all the blame for one young woman’s death on Crews and Tangos, and blames the disappearance of Andrew Kinsmen -- with no proof -- on online dating apps. First of all, the writer calls crews a ‘village drag bar.’ In actual fact Crews and Tangos -- as anyone who hangs out on Church Street knows, is a bar that, like many other bars on Church Street, features drag queens. But its clientele is made up mostly of younger bi and straight people of all genders, many of whom are just ‘out’ or experimenting with their sexuality. Secondly, just because a woman who visited Crews and Tangos was tragically killed is that the bar's fault?
And when it comes to gay online dating apps, are they dangerous -- as this article says -- because gay men aren’t properly introduced online to their sexual partners? 
Who says? Where’s the proof?
Why is the Globe and Mail publishing this garbage and fermenting fear and lies around queer institutions and organizations?
I don’t know. But it sure seems like somebody at the Globe and Mail doesn’t like us.
This is an era when all around the world people who are threatened by terrorists have decided not to live in fear but instead  bravely party as usual, no matter what the threat.
But the Globe and Mail is implying that queers should stay home.

It’s negative propaganda about our community, and I, for one, don’t like it one bit.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Noel Coward Outsmarts Justin Trudeau



The recent apologies to the LGBT community on behalf of the Canadian government are certainly admirable. But one wishes they might be more comprehensive and look towards the future, rather than the past. Interestingly, the apology at this point has not extended so far as to offer compensation to those who were victims of the Bawdy House Laws during the 1981 Toronto bath house raids; men who were publicly exposed for being gay ‘perverts’ and in some cases jailed as found-ins. I find this interesting because -- although straight culture seems comfortable with granting queers civil rights -- straights are still not too comfortable with the gay ‘lifestyle.’ No one has ever really defined the gay lifestyle -- though in most people’s minds it seems to have something to do with ascots, extravagant vacations, and an effeminate drawl. However the real gay lifestyle is this: honestly admitting that a separation exists between love and sex, and that the two don’t always happen at the same time -- and what’s more; that's perfectly okay.
In terms of the ‘gay lifestyle,’ Trudeau (and most present day heterosexual culture) still trails behind Noel Coward. I treated myself recently to the new movie release of Present Laughter brilliantly directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel and starring Kevin Kline (the entire cast was superlative). The play -- which recently closed on Broadway -- is often dismissed as a trifle. But it is actually one of  Coward’s three great comedies; plays that are not only witty and touching explorations of human love and loneliness, but have a particularly modern attitude to sex.
Present Laughter offers us not only a funny and touching portrait of a man who has an irritating tendency to perform his own life, but the leading character Garry Essendine reveals, in one of his several hilarious speeches, that sex is ‘over-rated.’ What Garry (with two ‘R’s -- he is a star!) means is that we should just stop worrying about sex, and instead start having lots of it. All of the characters in the play, married or not (just as in Coward’s two other comic masterpieces Private Lives and Hay Fever) are engaged in different varieties of promiscuous activity outside of the marital bed. Essendine implores all of his friends, essentially, to -- calm down, forget about ‘sacred institutions’, and have a good-old time, carnally. 
In the post-1950s sexual culture we now live in -- where even gay men get flushed and embarrassed by their own profundity when describing the precious holiness of matrimony -- it’s refreshing to know that Noel Coward would have had us do precisely the opposite (something present day gays promised to do but never have) open up relationships, and ‘queer’ marriage.
Shocking ideas, eh? 
In 1942 they were shocking for Coward’s audiences, and here they are, shocking us yet again today.
Everything old is suddenly new again.

Friday, 3 November 2017

DEAR ANTHONY RAPP: SHUT UP!



Sexual abuse is serious. Anthony Rapp’s accusation against Kevin Spacey may serve his career but it will do little to halt the sexual abuse of women -- because it sets up a false equivalency. By raising this issue at this particular time, Rapp’s abuse inevitably becomes part of the ‘Me Too’ campaign, implying that Harvey Weinsten and Kevin Spacey are somehow comparable.
They are not.
Harvey Weinstein is a rich white heterosexual man. Heterosexism gives him the power and in fact congratulates him on ‘conquering’ women. Kevin Spacey is a rich white homosexual man. He was in the closet until Anthony Rapp ‘outed’ him without Spacey’s consent. (Rumours about Spacey’s homosexual orientation were inflamed after an Esquire article in 1997. Spacey moved to London in order to avoid Hollywood homophobia.) 
Gay men are part of an maligned and hated minority. Queer youth are still afraid to ‘come out’ to their parents; Gay/Straight Alliances are still contentious issues in high schools. The fact that Rapp was abused by a closeted gay man doesn’t excuse Spacey’s actions. But if we really wish to fight the abuse of women then we must dare to be unforgivingly critical of heterosexual culture and stop making false equivalencies. We must come to the painful understanding that male abuse of women is rooted in heterosexual sexism which can no longer be tolerated; it is not simply a ‘universal’ problem that everyone faces on daily basis.
Why did Anthony Rapp ‘out’ Kevin Spacey in this manner? It’s important to note that Rapp himself is not fully ‘out.’ He’s been playing the same game Spacey has been playing for years -- because like all gay actors in Hollywood, he is frightened by homophobia in the entertainment industry. He has been quoted as saying “I have been in loving relationships with men...I haven't said 'I am gay.’” Rapp wants us to know that -- unlike the ‘gay’ Spacey (meaning the lecherous, profligate Spacey) -- he is a good person (which means a loving, not very sexual person). And, let’s face it, Rapp is obviously quite thrilled to be famous. And like so many gay men today, he wants everyone to know that though he may not be straight, he is just the same as every straight person in practically every way.
Well, he’s not; he is part of a very different culture -- gay culture.
I was told recently by one of my students that young straight men these days actually speak of female sexual conquests as ‘kills.’ 
We might think about the implications of that.
And forget about the opportunistic Mr. Anthony Rapp.


Monday, 16 October 2017

The Appropriation of Jackie Shane



Jackie Shane was gay. She was a drag queen.
It’s time to state the facts.
Lately her story has been appropriated by opportunistic academics who have misrepresented her as having been, historically, a ‘trans’ performer.
This is not simply a mistake; it’s homophobic.
Jackie Shane was, according to all witnesses, a brilliant drag singer/performer who was much beloved by the gay community in Toronto in the 60’s. She eventually moved back to her native Nashville; now her brilliance has been rediscovered and soon she will be coming back to Toronto to perform once again.
Hallelujah!
However, academics -- who often have a tendency to be out of touch with the truths of street culture -- have decided to take advantage of the resurgence of interest in Jackie Shane to advance their own trendy theories, and promulgate homophobia.
They are attempting to erase history by representing Shane’s story as that of a trans activist -- rather than as the history of a gay man and a drag queen. 
Why am I concerned here with labels?
I am a gay man and a drag queen. Homophobia has increased in the last couple of years. I notice this in the context of what I call a rising ‘Fear of Drag Queens.’
Even Ru Paul has to deal with this. As in the old days of homophobia and anti-sexual feminism, drag queens are now being castigated for ‘nasty humour,’ and for ‘making fun of women,’ and even for ‘making fun of trans people.’
This is homophobic slander. Drag queens love women. They pay homage to them through drag --  and historically, they are the pioneers of the trans movement.
If Jackie Shane wishes to to become an icon for the -- very important -- modern transgender movement, more power to her. 
But the historical facts are these. Jackie Shane was performing in drag long before the term ‘transgender’ even existed. When she performed in the 1960s ‘trans’ meant transexual. She represented herself as a gay man and a drag queen -- not as ‘trans’ -- and was known as such. She was a leading force -- as was Craig Russell -- in gay liberation, along with the drag queens at Stonewall.
Those are the historical facts.

And no amount of academic obfuscation can deny them.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Why Are So Many Young Gay Men on Drugs?



Okay so I know that lots of young men -- of all kinds -- have been doing drugs for a long time; nothing new there. But it seems to me that there is a crystal meth epidemic among young gay men.
I know this because -- now that I’m an old guy -- young guys are always asking me to buy TINA for them.
It makes sense to me though, to be on drugs, if you are a young and gay. Because I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a young gay man right now.
It seems to me that since bars and baths and parks and toilets and ‘gay men’s groups’ are over for gay men, there’s only two things left: online ‘dating’ apps and, well -- gay marriage.
(Of course I know that some young gay men do go to bars and bathhouses, but these places are generally thought of as being ‘over.’)
Because if all we have is online sex and marriage what kind of future is that?
I know that SCRUFF and SURGE can be fun but it sure is tough to live up to the expectations of online dating apps: most people looking for sex/love or ‘friends’ online don’t like fats or fems.
Can I be frank here? Most of us are just a little bit fat and a little bit fem. Not if you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or Captain America. But the rest of us; the ordinary guys, well -- we’re all a little pudgy here and there, and yes now and then our wrists go limp and we just wanna be petulant. 
Of course if the pressure of living up to the porn star ‘ab’ standard and the Sly Stallone masculinity standard doesn’t send you to crystal meth, then the pressure to get married will. We, as men (gay or straight) are socialized to capitalize on what our testosterone tries to tell us: that we must compete, and fight, and conquer -- and win. Unlike women, we are not socialized to be loving and caring; we are socialized to achieve. Good luck having a gay monogamous marriage! Monogamous marriage doesn’t work for most straights; I can’t see why it would work for gay men.
I certainly don’t long for the good old days. But back before AIDS there were not only gay bars but people were beginning to think that maybe there might be other gay social gathering places, and there was a sense of the possibility of meeting new people in a gay community that actually existed, in the real world. Gay coupling didn’t mean monogamy; and being a bit femmy was still part of being gay.
I know we’ve got the new Will and Grace and Ru Paul’s Drag Grace to remind us of the old days -- the days when everyone gay didn’t have to be perfectly masculine, built and/or perfectly married. But are those two shows enough to make us happy, healthy gay men? 
All I can say is Good Luck To You, Young Gay Men!

Because unfortunately, you’re going to need it.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Circus Awesomeus -- Not So Awesome



I don’t know what made me turn to HBO that night. 
Yes I do. They usually show great stuff.
But this night it was Neil Patrick Harris’ Circus Awesomeus.
Let’s just talk about the Neil Patrick Harris thing. He is our one and only out-of-the-closet top level TV/Hollywood gay actor in 2017.
So what does he get to do?
Well, apparently, though straight people are increasingly tolerant these days they can’t handle real out-of-the-closet actors and actresses in gay or lesbian roles in mainstream movies. And they certainly can’t handle out gay actors in straight roles (the reviews always say ‘the chemistry wasn’t convincing’). But what they can handle is when we host. (See: Ellen!) We now host straight lives. After all, this our calling isn’t it?  To facilitate the lives of straight people: serve them drinks, renovate their houses, and most importantly -- make them laugh?
But it isn’t just the host thing. The acts on Circus Awesomeous are -- almost without exception -- boring as hell. There is the ‘Beardyman’ who just makes boom box sounds as far as I can tell. It’s kinda like being very good at farting. It is this behaviour we should be rewarding him for? Then there’s the midget standup comic who I tried so hard to like, until I realized that the funniest thing he did was run. Yes, unfortunately his major talent seems to be displaying for us a body that is -- well, to most people --  odd. Then there is a large woman in a shiny dress who talks dirty. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against large women in shiny dresses who talk dirty -- some of my best friends are large women in shiny dresses who talk dirty. But the ones I know are actually funny.
The act that really tells it all about Circus Awesomeous is Sammy J and Randy -- an effeminate gay man who sings with a foul-mouthed redneck gay puppet. The puppet (of course they could never let a real gay guy do this on TV) shouts out the details of gay sex acts while the effeminate guy looks shocked.
I’ll tell you what this show is. it’s a taste of ‘homosexuality’ for straights. It’s kinda like the old days when they used to snicker and throw eggs at drag queens in the Pride Parade on Yonge Street. This show makes it all too evident that straights think we are a bunch of freaks. Nevertheless they welcome the opportunity for a voyeuristic peak into our titillating sex lives -- something Neil Patrick Harris allows them to do.

Yulch!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

ATOMIC BLONDE....Oh Dear...





I don’t know what to say about ATOMIC BLONDE. I wish I could be as terribly modern as everyone else and say that it’s a step in the right direction. No. Sorry. I know the attitude we’re supposed to have is to just take it for granted that Charlize Theron has a lesbian affair in the movie. She’s not a lesbian, though -- that would be old fashioned -- because the ‘Atomic Blonde’ of the movie’s title was in love with a man at the beginning -- at least that’s what’s insinuated. So Charlize Theron is not a lesbian in the movie then. She’s a bisexual -- no. She’s just....fluid. Right? Cuz sexuality is fluid, right? And if you are a modern-millennial-type person you will watch this movie and go --  ‘Oh yes, I get it. I didn’t even notice who’s having sex with who. That’s what a long way we’ve come, baby.’
Yeah.
Okay. Don’t get me wrong. I think the movie is incredibly stylish, gorgeous really, and addictively watchable. I mean I hate complicated plots and the plot of this movie sure is complicated but I still enjoyed it. (Who is ‘Satchel’ anyway?)
But dare I mention -- and you know me, the last thing I would want to do is upset anyone, but -- um, isn’t it kind of crazy that Charlize Theron is so incredibly proud that there is a lesbian sex scene in the movie? I mean when I google ‘ATOMIC BLONDE lesbian’ all that comes up is Charlize gushing about how much she loved doing the kiss with Sofia Boutella so....? I mean if lesbian sex is just well -- everywhere, and so accepted by everyone -- then why is Charlize so proud of herself for having lesbian sex in this movie? 
And the fact that there is a ‘Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella Kiss’ clip on youtube -- well I’m sure straight men aren’t jerking off to it. I mean this is not straight porn right? I mean this movie isn’t straight porn, if anything it’s lesbian porn, right? Or lesbian love, or something lesbian? Or bisexual? Or fluid? Yes, that’s it. It’s fluid porn.
But what I actually think this movie is, is violence porn. Charlize is kicking people’s heads in and the blood is gushing out --  practically every thirty seconds. Good for her, eh? I guess. She’s a strong woman then, I guess.
I mean come to think of it, I’ve convinced myself. I really think this is a step forward, not just for ‘moviekind’ but for ‘humankind’ everywhere.
And certainly for ‘womankind’
Yes, Charlize I congratulate you. Not since MONSTER have we seen such  an important and forward-looking representation of a ‘fluidly sexed’ character. In MONSTER, you murdered men -- but in this movie you just kick them in the nuts over and over and over and over.
That’s a step forward, isn’t it?

Gee, I sure hope so.