Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year! (A Holiday News-Letter from The ‘Ric and Rob’ Family!)

Hi y’all! 
Just a cheery note to keep you what’s been going on with the Rob and Richard family.
2015 has been a great year for us, as we hope it was for you!
We got a new puppy this year. His name is Buddy, and he really loves wagging his cute little tail. He is especially excited about the daily feedings, and always barks when we come home!
Another happy addition to the household is our houseboy Alon, a recent immigrant from Tel Aviv. Alon doesn’t have much money so we were happy to help him out by providing room and board in return for him offering a few essential services not just confined to the kitchen! We love Alon and he loves us!
This year Rob and I did a lot of traveling.
In May, we spent a gloriously sunny month in Barcelona. When we weren’t visiting Gaudi’s famous architectural marvels, we hit the back room of every bar in that fabulously glamorous city. The people were so friendly there, and always greeted us with charming, if somewhat messy smiles!
June is always a perfect time for rehab, which Rob certainly needed after our fun-fulfilled little European ‘vacay'! As many of your know, Rob has been struggling with a Crystal Meth addiction for a number of years. He has his ups and downs, but we are confident that he will come out of the positive side of this particular dilemma! In July, Rob was voted ‘Most Likely to Stay Off the Crank’ by his doctors at the Ocean Rehab in Streetsville! We’re all rooting for him, and so far, as we cruise into 2016, all signs indicate that the award is well deserved!
As for me, I’m happy to say that my viral load has consistently stayed at non-existent! And Ol’ Dr. Pete and I decided that it was okay for me to have unprotected sex with guys who are on PREP! Rob and I give thanks every day for PREP, because — as  many of you know from experience — I’m a bottom who loves unprotected anal, and now I never have to worry about that very special load increasing my viral one!
As usual, August means Gay Pride in Puerto Vallarta! Happily Rob met some several talented couples who invited him to their palatial mansions in the hills. He managed to stay away from the ‘Meth Monster’ tho (Sincere Congrats Honey!) and only ended up in one situation involving guns. All indications were that it might have turned into a somewhat violent scene, and Rob acted so sensibly! He simply made his apologies and took a cab back to our hotel room. I helped him find a non-gun related trick on SCRUFF to keep him out of any real trouble!
September and October are often placid months for us, as life returns to ‘normal.’ There’s been lots of time for the a-hole bleaching (something we both urgently needed this year!) as well as silicone injections. My nuts resemble a tennis ball now, plump and smooth — always cause for comment at the baths!
This holiday, you’ll find Rob and I seated in front of the fire, with our our new puppy Buddy and our new houseboy Alon curled up contentedly at our feet. It’s the kind of satisfaction that only the visions of sugar plum fairies can bring!

Happy Holidays — and we’ll be sure and chat again next year!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Brooklyn and the Queer Idealization of Family

A tendency that has not been as yet observed, but that deserves noting, is a queer idealization of the family in literature, so evident this year in two hit movies based on novels by queer authors: Brooklyn and Room
Brooklyn is the type of movie that is often described as luminous, and certainly one that (as many reviewers have mentioned) you can comfortably bring your grandmother to see. My eyes were wet with tears through most of it. Though the piece is ostensibly about a young Irish woman’s experience as an immigrant in America, the actual subject matter is family; a young woman’s devotion to her mother and her sister, and eventually to her future husband. The conflict set up is a rather false one; will Ellis return to the man she loves, or will she return to Ireland and desert him? There is no question really, it’s a matter of growing up, and what every young heterosexual woman eventually must do, leave the bosom of one family to create another.
Brooklyn is based on a novel by gay writer Colm Toibim, and Room is based on a bestseller by lesbian novelist Emma Donoghue. There is no reason why the sexuality of these two authors should be mentioned, except for what you will read here. For what I find fascinating about both of these movies is a particular kind of idealization of the family that I think is specific to the experience of authors whose sexuality is outside the norm. 
My theory is that queers of all stripes are often born into families that are heterosexual and thus, they feel fundamentally alienated from them. This is not to say that all gay and lesbian people hate their families, or even that they harbour a conscious awareness of difference. But we queers know — sometimes in a subconscious way — that we will not grow up to be heterosexuals. We know that the choice offered us: the desires, role models and ultimate outcomes will never apply. This makes us  feel like outsiders, no matter how much our families love us, how much we love them, or how relaxed they may be (or may become eventually) about our sexualities.
For some gay and lesbian writers (not all, of course) this profound alienation is transformed into art. They express, in literature, a poignant longing for a family bond that is impossible because it is perfect.The epitome of this kind of nostalgia can be found in the work of several prominent queer literary outsiders, including: Thornton Wilder, Marcel Proust and J.M. Barrie.
Our Town represents perhaps the epitome of this sentiment. At the centre of this play is an unrelentingly elegiac longing for small town family connections. Of course such intimacy is possible; but what makes Wilder’s play rare is his insistence that such intimacy is not only absolutely necessary, but deeply profound. Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time famously creates a myth around the memory of his mother that captures piercing, heart-wrenching essence of an ultimate epiphany of love. And J. M. Barrie (a man of dubious and perhaps scandalous sexuality who never had intimate relations with women) created a fantasy based on a real life (his friends the Du Mauriers) that he loved almost to death. “The Darlings’ are certainly a family that few of us will ever forget.
I am not judging these writers — or the movies like Brooklyn, or Room. Rather I am observing a literary tendency which is interesting, because it is so often associated with iconic works that may shape our worldview in ways we may not be fully conscious of. 
Be forewarned. You may feel a twinge of insecurity about the portrait of family life presented in these holiday movies because it appears to be too good to be true. It may help to remember that in actuality — it is.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Ten Reasons Why The End of the World is Nigh

When I say ‘The End of the World’ I mean the end of the world as I know it.

1) Gay apparently only happened in the past and is now exclusively played by straights.
I know we’re supposed to be really happy that we have three gay Christmas movies this year but could they be any straighter? Tom Hardy, Cate Blanchett and Eddie Redmayne all play gay people from the past. But umm…they’re all straight in real life. And um…what
about dealing with modern gay issues? Carol made me cry, but what about a real gay situation like: ‘‘My girlfriend and I are dykes but now she wants to get dick surgery!’ or ‘I want to marry my 23 year old gay boyfriend but he’s on meth and is addicted to hooking up for unsafe sex online?’ Oh no, it’s all 60s British psychopaths, kisses in the snow, and butch Eddie Redmayne — so damn straight in those interviews about The Danish Girl that I could kill him with a gun. Ugh. Well, I’m sure he just wants another Oscar.

2) Tyler Oakley.
Have you seen this guy? He’s a youtube sensation. He’s 27 and holds mass slumber parties for fat girls and jumps up and down in ‘onesies’ and high heels (if you don’t know what a ‘onesie’ is then you are definitely very very old) . And what is the Tyler Oakley phenomenon? Well, remember once, there was Dan Savage — kinda out there, kinda non-monogamous — and kinda sexual? Well the new gay role model is  Youtube Sensation Tyler Oakley, and like everything else these days, he is all about the kids. The fan base for his shows is mainly female and 13-17 years old (this would be the crowd that feels they have moved beyond Hunger Games). I was trying to figure out exactly what Tyler Oakley stands for and all I could come up with was — he supports your body image issues and he is very much in favour gay marriage. But where do you stand on anal fisting,Tyler? 

3) Donald Trump and Rob Ford.
Need I say more?

4) No more cocktails or Splenda.
This is beyond huge. I walked into a Queen Street bar the other day, gazed lovinglyup at the thirty or so whiskey bottles under the mirror and politely requested a cocktail. The very hot guy behind the bar looked at me like I had lost my noodle. “We don’t serve cocktails,” he said, with great disdain “only wine, beer and booze straight up." Well pardon me for being such a girly man. But much more distressing is the disappearance of artificial sweeteners from the coffee bars on Queen Street West. You should have seen the expression of the face of the bun-headed barista when I asked for Splenda. “We have honey.” Well sorry, I didn’t take a shit on the floor, I just didn’t realize that  craving aspartame was now actually a crime.

5) You can’t get a good blow job anymore
without having to chat up some damn hipster. What are you doing hanging out in a back room if you just want to have a caustic chat? And why do you want to have sex with me? I’m old enough to be your very old….father.

6) My computer knows more about me than I do.
No, really. I used to ignore those purchasing suggestions that Amazon used to make. But, oddly chillingly and frighteningly, those suggestions have recently become, well….right on. 

7. My students at university don’t shock me anymore.
I shock them.

8. You can’t turn on a tap anymore. Or flush a toilet for that matter.
I go to plays and movies and operas etc a lot and there we are, the sad guys, all lined up at the sink flicking our hands around under the faucets, this way and that, randomly touching things that look like they might trigger water — and swearing. ‘How do you turn this damn thing on? Oh great you found one that worked. Can I put my hands under it? How come it worked for you and not for me. Do I have the wrong hands?’ I mean Is this sanitary? All the toilets now have piles of shit in them cuz all the toilets are supposed to flush themselves but don’t. Can somebody call the health department pull-eaze?

9. The oddest people are suddenly aboriginal.
I know I’m going to get into trouble for saying this. But what’s going on?  I knew you as a white girl but suddenly you’ve found out that you have an aboriginal ancestor somewhere and you just won’t shut up about it. I’m all for learning about another culture
but not from some mainly white girl who looks white and who everybody thought was white until last week she decided she suddenly discovered she had a proud heritage that is the very essence of her and that she now talks about, everywhere, every day, on every freaking website there is. 

10. The end of intermissions is the end of the world.
I’ve ranted about this before. But it’s gotten so out of hand. Routinely now, house programs say the show is an hour and a half long with no intermission and then you get there and find out that it’s really  two hours long and it’s Soulpepper and you’re in the middle of the row and you can’t leave without waking up some oldster who’s asleep beside you.
Enough already. 
I saw an old (1905) play in New York City this fall. There were three acts and two intermissions. Each act was a half hour long.


Friday, 11 December 2015


I must say I have mixed feelings about Paul Gross. Mainly because he is so beautiful.
When I was a young, semi-handsome gay playwright desperately running a theatre company so that I could get my plays produced, he was a supremely handsome, younger, straight playwright with the world at his feet.  
Also, I have always wanted to lick him all over — and only Martha Burns gets to do that — which makes me cranky.
I only met Paul Gross once, when I was having lunch with Jackie Burroughs in Yorkville. She dragged me over to his table and gushed in her irresistibly childlike way— “Oh you just have to meet Paul Gross! You would love him, and he would love you!”
Sadly all that ‘loving’ never came to pass. But that doesn't mean I can’t be objective about the play Paul Gross is starring in — Domesticated (recently produced by Company Theatre at Canadian Stage). 
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to review the damn thing. These plays that come from New York City are pre-reviewed anyway; what we say about them (way up here in the provinces!) doesn’t really matter.
But I must say I am fascinated by what these American cultural products are selling. And in this case it was clear to me that Domesticated makes a very sharp, entertaining, and carefully crafted case for ‘men’s liberation.’
Men’s liberation — in case you haven’t noticed — is a growing movement in North America. Straight men everywhere are getting a little tired of feminists pushing them around. Poor boys —  they’ve been blamed for everything — when most of them are just nice guys who happen to get a little horny now and then. And sure — and they acknowledge this — they might also be, occasionally, just a teeny-weeny bit insensitive once in awhile. But hey — being horny and insensitive -- isn't that what being a real man is all about?
Though playwright Bruce Norris has laboured to convince us he has created a balanced view of the feminist cause and its effects, Domesticated is clearly focused on the leading male character’s journey. The leading female character never gets to articulate her rage, she just gets to break his (spoiler alert!) guitar.
Afterwards I chatted with two female friends and one female acquaintance about the piece. I was astounded. My two friends agreed with my opinions about it. But the third (younger) woman expressed a surprising idea: “I didn’t think it was an anti-feminist play,” she said “I mean Paul Gross’s character was so obviously an asshole.”
I looked at her, knowing I might regret playing the ‘age’ card.  “Are you a millennial?” I asked?
“”I’m on the cusp,” she said.
“Well I’m awfully sorry, and this is going to sound very condescending,” I said “but I’m very very old, and I noticed that millenials have a tendency to be overly cheery when confronted with racism, sexism and homophobia. They’ve been brought up in a product-oriented, celebrity dominated cyber-world where everything is nice (except for the occasional comment on Facebook). You young’ uns  just figure racism, misogyny and homophobia  are over; that everyone is ‘super aware’ of what is right and what is wrong. I glanced at a middle-aged men sitting next to me at Domesticated, and when Paul Gross’s character was raging against feminism, he was leaning forward, drinking it in; the play was speaking directly to him.”
“She screwed up her attractive face. 
“Hmm. I don’t get it.”
And this young woman is actually very smart.
Be forewarned; Domesticated is not just your garden variety anti-feminist diatribe — it’s for everyone. And millenials, especially, like it too.