Friday, 23 October 2015

Why I Hate Beards

I’ve had it with beards. You can’t go anywhere without seeing them. And men think beards are so ‘trendy’ and ‘hot.’ 
I’m a gay man who has never liked beards. And I know there are a lot of women who share my distaste for that pesky facial hair.
First there’s the scratchiness when you kiss the guy.
Then there’s just the general grossness of the fuzzy monster, things get caught in beards (egg salad — yulch!).
Finally — truth be told, what I find attractive about men is — their faces. (No, not that other thing!) Give me a good face — really, it doesn’t matter what’s going on anywhere else. Of course there are lots of different faces out there, and thank God, there’s something for everyone. But what defines male attractiveness for me (and this is just me, I know) is the square jaw with a hint of peach fuzz around the edges, and  a hint of nature’s own pink blush on the cheeks, and a big pair of lush pouty kissable lips plunked right smack in the middle.
If the guy’s got a beard all that luscious male beauty is covered up.
So what’s with the mania for beards these days?
In the gay community — where everything always tends to get out of hand, for some reason — guys are going nuts with this beard thing. You can’t get a date with a guy if you don’t have a beard. Remember obsession over penis size? Gone. It’s been replaced with obsession over beard size. The bigger, the messier the beard, the better. We even have a name for the (many) gay men obsessed with The Smith Brothers — we call them ‘lumbersexuals.’
So what are all these ‘beardos' trying to prove? 
(Because it is my contention that they are definitely trying to prove something.)
The clue came to me when I was looking up at a sign for a store in the gay village that sells stuff for ‘men with beards and those who love them.’ The sign said: “Be proud of your beard — it’s what your Dad gave you!”
So it’s all about Dad.
And then I remembered that other era where all the men in North America and Europe had beards. It was called the Victorian era.
You see it’s my theory that the beard equals patriarchy, oppression, and celebration of all things masculine.
Yulch, again.
I hope you don’t think I’m crazy if I tell you I have great deal of old fashioned affection for the feminine virtues: vulnerability, beauty, grace, tenderness, kindness, etc. And I’m a bit worried that after coming a long way baby — and celebrating women — we may have come to a full stop. I mean even some women these days value all that’s ‘masculine’ over what used to be called ‘feminine.’
So this celebration of Dads and ‘maleness’ just makes me what to puke.
I mean are we going back there again?
To the Victorian era?
Is that why the Christian Right is working so hard to get rid of Planned Parenthood? 
Okay, so you may think I’ve  gone too far, that I’m reading too much into this whole beard thing.
Maybe I am.
But that doesn't change anything.
I HATE beards.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Reading Too Much into Ricky Martin

The New York Times today featured a review of Ricky Martin’s recent concert in Madison Square Gardens. Martin is singular for — if nothing else — being the only out-of-the-closet gay pop singer of any stature to seriously entertain the notion of having a career.
I suggest, with all good intentions, that he give up now. 
Jon Pareles' review of Martin’s work is so subtly laced with homophobic innuendo, that —although it would take someone part culture critic, part detective, to tease it out (i.e., myself) — it nevertheless succeeds in effectively diminishing Mr. Martin’s career to zero. 
It’s up to you to decide if it is I who am reading too much into this Ricky Martin review, or if it is indeed the reviewer who is deliberately reading far too much into Ricky Martin.
Pareles starts out innocently enough. He quotes Martin as saying “I’m obsessed with performing.”
Nothing particularly gay there.
Let’s move on.
Pareles then goes on to describe Martin as ‘exultantly boyish.’ This appears innocent on the surface. But I ask you, what grown-up, heterosexual man wishes to exult in boyishness? Is that not more appropriate to a boy band member (which Ricky Martin once was and I’m sure wishes never again to be)?
Pareles goes on to quote Ricky Martin again, this time bringing up Martin’s sexual proclivities in the context of audience response: “In 2010 Mr. Martin told interviewers that he is a ‘fortunate homosexual man.’ On-stage, he was welcomed as an all-around sex symbol. He drew loud female shrieks.”
Ah. So Ricky Martin can breathe a sigh of relief. Although he has admitted quite brazenly to enjoying both anal and oral intercourse with members of the same sex, nevertheless somehow female fans continue to be attracted to him.
Pareles goes on to say that Martin celebrates ‘seize-the-moment-lust’ in his songs. He then quotes Martin saying — “This is the moment where you have to allow yourself to be free!”  urging concertgoers to shout — “I don’t care” — and wave their arms upward and downward.
Now the reviewer’s intent becomes clear. This is no ordinary rock concert. It’s something akin to a gay revivalist meeting. Concertgoers have been nothing less than brainwashed into celebrating hedonistic non-monogamous homosexual lust.
Some will contend that since Ricky Martin has discussed his sexuality publicly, it’s fair game for a reviewer to include references to it in an assessment of his work. 
There is precedent of course; John Simon once spoked disparagingly of Liza Minnelli’s  “desperately uplifted breasts.’ He justified his comments by saying that since Minnelli had proudly displayed her upper body area, he had every right to review it.

I fear that Ricky Martin may have spoken too soon about being a ‘fortunate gay man.’ For unfortunately, like all openly gay musicians, he will most likely end up a fallen pop star.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Roland Emmerich Is Not The Enemy!

There is much outrage over Roland Emmerich’s film STONEWALL. 
Outrage in the queer community that is.
I doubt whether any straight people will even see it.
STONEWALL got 9% on Rotten Tomatoes; straight critics have dismissed it. That along with ‘queer outrage’ over the film will probably kill any chance the film ever had of being seen.
That’s a shame. For as it is, it is a damn fine film — and an important one.
First let’s clear the air about what’s wrong with STONEWALL. Yes, it’s definitely a problem that Emmerich chose a pretty white boy to play the pretty white middle-class leading character. It’s also a shame that the movie is a traditionally constructed, sentimental, romantic tearjerker in the old-fashioned Hollywood tradition. In that sense, STONEWALL is certainly no cinematic milestone. 
But let’s look at the criticism levelled against it.
CBC news says: ‘Although eyewitness accounts cite black, trans activist Marsha P. Johnson as the instigator of the riot, the trailer for STONEWALL seems to give a fictional, white, cisgender character named Danny with a key role in starting the riots.’ 
There are several things wrong with this statement. First of all, Marsha P. Johnson was not a ‘trans activist’. She was a drag queen and the founder of an organization for transvestites; there was no such thing as ‘trans’ (in the modern sense of the word) in 1969. Second, no one knows who threw the first brick at the Stonewall riots, and no one ever will, because there is no filmed footage of the event. 
So why are queer critics of the film turning Roland Emmerich into our enemy? At worst, he is a well intentioned gay man who has created an important movie that makes the mistake (as so many gay and lesbian films do) of trying to present its radical ideas in traditional, mainstream style.
The theme of STONEWALL is fundamental and significant. The film’s protagonist struggles with an important dilemma — do you change the world through anger and violence, or through gentle, reasoned argument? To Emmerich’s credit (and to the credit of the excellent, unsung, gay screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz) the film unequivocally sides with anger and violence, clearly sympathizing with the drag queens and sex trade workers — the black and hispanic outcasts who radicalize the leading (white character) and turn him into an angry revolutionary.
At last! A film that dares to criticize the middle-of the-road politics that have dominated gay activism since AIDS. A film that dares to imply that although gay marriage is fine and good — it will not clear homophobia from people’s hearts. The message of STONEWALL is that it takes anger and radical action to effect change. STONEWALL says that acting polite, wearing suits, and sucking up to the straights is simply not enough!
Gee whiz, everybody loves ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK even though everyone also knows that the outrageously talented Lea DeLaria should be the lead. But no network would ever dare star a out butch lesbian actress in a TV show no matter how talented she is. Emmerich made the same mistake as the creators of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK —he chose a lead that is palatable to a middle-class movie-going public. So why is he being pilloried for it?
Crazy ‘victim politics’ like this is what killed the Queer Nation movement. It’s what will eventually kill what’s left of gay liberation. We have to learn to pick our enemies. Our enemies are Ted Kruze, The Pope, and Robert Mugabe — to name a few.

Not Roland Emmerich.