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December 24th, 2022

Beautiful Men Being Beautiful

Wonkette writes thusly…

Before The Current War On Drag Queens, There Was ‘To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar’

Republicans would have you believe that drag queens are some new phenomenon, a radical escalation in the culture wars thanks to an overly permissive society. (Thanks, Obama!) This is obviously nonsense, and a social media post reminded me that back in 1995, the camp classic To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar was released with little to no backlash, certainly no bomb threats targeting theaters showing the film.

I still haven’t watched that and I really should because it’s moved into a little slice of gay history. But as I’ve written previously, my interest in drag is limited. The guys I find most convincing at it, are always guys I would rather appreciate out of costume than in it. But the point being made here is a good one and can’t be made too often in this climate of hate mongering. Nobody really cared that much about drag…gay drag especially existed in its own little nitch. Drag has a long history in the movies and on stage. A Twitter feed I just started following is “All-male college musicals” (“Paying tribute to the oh-so-lovely but very manly drag performers in the womanless, gay college musicals of a century ago.”). It’s so far been a treasure trove of drag history from the 1940s…

This was a real thing back in the day…

 

Dig the slogan on the souvenir program, “All our girls are men yet every one’s a lady.” I wouldn’t say the drag performers back then had it going on like some of them do now, but clearly everyone was having fun. Now it’s become a culture war flashpoint, to the degree armed fascist protesters are showing up at drag shows now, sometimes facing armed counter protestors. You fear for what it’s all building up to, and then you realize that blood has already been spilled.

Again, Wonkette…

Unlike Some Like It Hot and the less artistically relevant Sorority Boys and White Chicks, Swayze, Snipes, and Leguizamo’s characters aren’t forced into drag (either to save their lives or solve a crime). It’s the life they’ve chosen, and they are happy to live openly as themselves.

Fox News was in its infancy at the time, so there wasn’t a marathon of content complaining about the overtly pro-drag queen narrative. While temporarily stranded in rural, small town America, the drag queens — Vida, Noxeema, and Chi-Chi — bond with the local women, who are inspired by their sense of style and colorful attitude. The townspeople as a whole defend the ladies from a bigoted cop, and instead of turning them over to him, there’s a Spartacus-inspired scene where every woman claims she’s a drag queen. We need to see more of this whenever busybodies try to inspect the genitals of women playing sports or using a public restroom.

There are times I wish I had more theater in me, especially back when I was younger and cuter. Every kid should be able to believe deep down inside that they are beautiful. And also, every old man too. But at least I can still appreciate a beautiful man, and feel that life is good whenever I see one.

And Happy Holidays to You Robbie (aka Mrs Cuba), wherever you are…

My cameras could have given you a lot of love…but alas…

 

by Bruce | Link | React!

August 4th, 2021

Vanyel’s Promise

Great scary wonderful news! This has been ricocheting around my newsfeeds today…

Fantasy’s First Openly Queer Hero Is Getting the TV Adaptation He Deserves

I have been waiting all my life—or at least since sixth grade—for an adaptation of bestselling author Mercedes Lackey’s wildly popular Valdemar fantasy novels. Now comes the news that Radar Pictures has secured the rights to the Valdemar literary universe, and they are developing an ongoing TV series.

The initial season is set to adapt Lackey’s Lambda Award-winning “Last Herald-Mage” trilogy, which features a young man named Vanyel Ashkevron who eventually becomes one of the most powerful magic-users in history. Radar’s press release describes Van as “the first openly gay heroic protagonist in the fantasy genre.”

I’m probably a bit older than the typical fan of this series…in 1989 I was in my late 30s, but just as hungry as the others for gay positive representation in fiction. Previously there was only Mary Renault’s historical fiction, and a few random one off novels I found at Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore. Here was a gay protagonist, center stage, in an already fully developed fantasy universe and I devoured each book as it came out, and then bought signed prints of the Jody Lee cover art.

I think it was around this time I began to insist on finding fiction to read with fully realized gay characters as central to the story, passing over a lot of popular favorites that I felt, just didn’t speak to me, getting irritated, and then vocal, about authors that played gay vague at us, but couldn’t actually make us visible in their works.

I got into an online argument with Richard Pini, co-author of the Elfquest series of comics, about his insistence to the readership that their elves were sexually liberated on the one hand, and on the other that same sex couplings (soulmates/lifemates were the terms used in the stories for the pair bonds) were just not possible. It had to be an opposite sex coupling because only those could produce children. (Where have I heard that before?) A shape-shifting alien “old one” turning into and mating with a wolf in order to insure the viability of her people on the planet they’d crash landed on…yeah that’s do-able. But not same sex pair bonds. Years later when we crossed paths online again he remembered and curtly said he would not discuss it anymore with Me. About then I was noticing that their spin-off series would suddenly find themselves cancelled if they strayed too closely toward affirming same sex relationships. I still check in every now and then and they’re Still doing it.

But let it be said they weren’t/aren’t the only ones. That’s how it went back in those days, and to a large degree that is how it Still Goes in pop culture media, though it is getting better. Slowly. I was tired of being invisible before I picked up books about Vanyel in the late 1980s. Now I knew I didn’t have to accept it.

God almighty I hope they do this right. It’s a good sign they went for a TV series and not a one-off movie where they’d have to compress/delete a lot of the story to make it fit.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Vanyel’s Promise

December 23rd, 2016

Understanding

Brought me to tears, this. Especially since the company that produced this ad, Kodak, has been such a big part of my life and they’re struggling now to hold on in this digital age (note that the filmmaker shot this in 35mm). They could have just kept silent but not only did they not do that, they went far beyond simply making a boilerplate statement of diversity: they showed us all a film about love. And now…when so many people need it so very much.

 

 

I think this may just be the best Christmas present ever. Thank you so much Kodak: from a gay guy who’s been an amateur/sometimes professional photographer since he was a teenager back in the 1960s-70s (who still loves his film cameras very much). I wish I could have grown up in the world your filmmaker shows us here…but I am glad that other gay kids will now…thanks to folks like you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Understanding

October 20th, 2016

At The LGBT Film Festival…

Posted to the NBC News website…which says something about how far we’ve come…

More than 100 features and short films are being shown at NewFest: New York’s LGBT Film Festival this year, and the slate includes the largest offering of international films in the festival’s history.

“More filmmakers around the world are interested in telling LGBTQ stories, and they’re doing them better than ever,” NewFest Executive Director Robert Kushner told NBC OUT.

 

NBC OUT…wow.  Back when I was a gay teenager I would never have expected to read  those words on a network TV publication.

18 countries are represented in the film fest. The article singles out 11 films to watch. This one…immediately caught my attention…

Esteros (Argentina/Brazil)

Would you risk it all for a second shot at love? That’s what “Esteros” explores. In the film, Matías and Jerónimo reunite more than a decade after their attraction first became apparent as teenagers. When family judgment got in the way, Matías was forced to move to Brazil. And while Matías has now returned to their hometown in Argentina, he’s brought his girlfriend along with him and complicated matters further. The men’s chemistry, however, remains. But whereas Jerónimo is a confident and out gay man, Matías has barely allowed himself to question his sexuality…

 

Yeah…there are elements to this story obviously that punch me right in the gut. But on the other hand it helps more than I can say: It means I am not alone in having this sort of experience. It’s real easy these days to be both delighted at how far we’ve come, and bitter that the point of all of it shot right past me…and so many others of my generation. This film looks like it speaks to that. I’ll be looking for it on the DVD circuit.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on At The LGBT Film Festival…

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