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October 9th, 2017

The Power Of Stories

I posted a short cartoon below about how it was being a gay teenager growing up in the late 60s to early 70s. How, no matter which direction you turned, the message was you don’t exist, or if you did, you should not. At best you were invisible…something not spoken of in polite company. At worst…well…you probably don’t want to hear it here.

Now at least we are visable. We can’t be arrested simply for being visible. Before Stonewall that was a fact of life. The riot happened you may recall, when the police came to raid one of our few bars in New York City. Now we can live our lives openly. Now we can tell our stories in our own words. And now we are, tentatively, becoming part of the audience. Stories are being told, not just about us, but To us.

That’s a problem for some people, who would rather the old rules still applied…

“Black”, “Homo” And “Freaking Females”: Heated Scenes As Retailers Turn On Each Other At Marvel NYCC Q&A

This was about the recent trend in comics to include, or even reimagine characters as women, black and gay. A recent storyline in the X-Men series had younger versions of the team being transported in time to meet their adult selves. One of them, Bobby Drake aka Iceman, is forced to come to terms with his sexual orientation that his adult self relentlessly denied. It made for some amazing and heartfelt drama, of the sort you didn’t use to see in the comics, especially of the super hero kind, and yet which you could have only have found within that genre…

Marvel Comics – Uncanny X-Men #60

This was just amazing, absolutely amazing storytelling. It took the gay generation gap and played it at an angle only this, or a science fiction tale could do, and in doing it made plain the horrible burden the older generation lived under due to the prejudices of their day. What do you do when the kid you once were, comes face to face with you and asks why he should have to live his life in the closet? It’s one thing to tell how it was to the new generation that doesn’t have to live it the way you did, doesn’t have to make the bargains with hate that you did. They need to know this history, if only to keep their watch against it all coming back. But how do you justify it to the kid you once were? What do you say to him?

This is what those retailers, and the readers they speak for, were protesting. And what you reliably hear is something along the lines of hey I don’t have anything against the gays, I just don’t want it shoved in my face. ‘It’ being the fact of our existence. Yes, you don’t have anything against the gays…so long as you don’t have to know we’re there among you. But it’s more than that.

Stories have power. Stories are how we pass down knowledge of what it is to be human. How are we supposed to grow and mature and live our lives as fully realized human beings if we are not allowed to know the stories of the lives of others like us. How are we supposed to grow as decent people if we cannot hear the stories of others who are not like us. How do we see the common human heart we all share. The myths, the legends. The hero’s journey.

The answer of course, is we’re not supposed to grow at all. Black…homo…freaking females. We have to stay where we’re told. In our place.

Marvel Comics – All-New X-Men #17

No we don’t…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Power Of Stories


The Rain, The Park, And Other Kids…

Posted to Misc Cartoons.  What it’s like growing up in a world where you don’t exist…

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

August 4th, 2014

The Militant Homosexual I Became Was Nurtured By Hollywood’s Homosexual

A friend on Facebook turned me onto this…

vito_documentary

I have both editions of “The Celluloid Closet” published while he was still with us. If any one thing could have been said to have radicalized my attitudes toward gay equality it was this one, even more so than “And The Band Played On”.  The book opens with a story about how a gay friend of his was telling another gay friend about a new movie that had a gay character in it, and the other friend immediately asks how the character dies. In a nutshell, that’s how it was.

I ordered the DVD of Vito and it came Friday and I had housework to do so it just sat for a while. Last night before bed I watched the first two thirds of it. It filled in a lot of blanks for me because I only knew of Vito Russo from his groundbreaking film history The Celluloid Closet. I didn’t know, but I should have guessed, how the activist predated the historian. The part showing him struggling to pull together all the hidden threads of our presence in the movies really brought back home to me that sense of isolation and cultural invisibility I hadn’t felt in decades.

Back in the 1970s, that homosexual characters were occasionally included in movies, either for laughs if they were flaming sissies or as the embodiment of unnatural evil, was something probably everyone knew. Russo was the first person to actually gather all the pieces together, all the little walk on toss off parts along with the major roles, all the sissies, all the evil psychos, all the tragically dammed, and look at all critically.  And the book he produced hit gay people everywhere who read it like a ton of bricks, because you knew the scapegoating and stereotyping weren’t just how your heterosexual neighbors were taught to look at you, but also how you were taught to see yourself.  Heterosexuals could dream of the happily ever after, could see that dream on the silver screen, could picture themselves there, having that life, or something like it.  Hollywood flushed our dreams into the sewer from the moment we first walked into a movie house.  We weren’t lovers, we were sissies, we were dangerous sexual psychopaths, we were the butt of dirty jokes, we were the personification of unnatural evil, we were pathetic, we were terrifying, we were not human. But you really didn’t see it all that clearly because the one thing we were most of all was something not to be discussed in public among decent normal people.

Then Vito Russo gathered it all together and put it in front of us.  And it just took your breath away…to see it all there, laid out in front of you.

And it made you angry…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Militant Homosexual I Became Was Nurtured By Hollywood’s Homosexual

January 13th, 2011

All Together Mouseketeers…You Too Tommy…You’re One Of Us Too…

This was a part of my childhood.  Not a huge one, but an important one…

I never became a member…even at that tender age I wasn’t much of a joiner…but I watched what Walt Disney put on my TV screen regularly.  Mostly it was for this…

And this…

His vision of the future was a big part of my kidhood dreams.  I wanted to be there, to grow up into that world where a great big beautiful tomorrow was shining at the end of every day.  Somewhere along the line I stopped dreaming it.  Somewhere past adolescence, somewhere after the country as a whole, tired of the war in Vietnam, tired of the race riots, fatigued by so much inter generational conflict, lost interest in the frontier of space, so terribly soon after we’d just put our footsteps on the moon.

Though I never stopped dreaming about it, I stopped believing in Disney’s great big beautiful tomorrow.  I put it down to fantasy…a beautiful story I was told as a kid that I wanted to believe in, but would never happen.  The world just didn’t work that way.  But I think there was something else that was missing from that dream.  Something that, had I seen it, might have made me hold onto it for a little longer…maybe even leave childhood behind with a vow to work a little harder to make it real.

That something, was me.  I was missing from that future.  And so were a lot of other kids just like me.

Disney Channel’s Strict ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy

In the original ‘The Flintstones’ series, the only characters of color to appear were natives of Africa who participated in a cave scout jamboree. Worse yet, far off into the distant future, on ‘The Jetsons,’ the universe seemed completely dominated by white people as well.

These were just signs of the times and while toon tones began changing in the 1970s, it’s almost blasphemous nowadays to have a television show that doesn’t include diversity, often to a point where it almost just seems forced.

So at four decades post-Stonewall and more than a decade into the age of ‘After Ellen,’ it wouldn’t be unnatural for one to wonder just where The Walt Disney Company draws the line at diversity. In all fairness, the company has teetered on the issue, having both progressive human resources policies for same-sex couples (which incited the infamous and rather seemingly innocuous Southern Baptist boycott) as well as just recently relenting on allowing same-sex commitment ceremonies at the theme park resorts under public pressure.

So where exactly does Disney draw the line when it comes to acceptance of gays in ‘everyday life’?

Well you already know the answer.  Yes, Disney has been very progressive when compared to other media and entertainment companies.  Behind the stage.  On it…well we’re all still in the closet.  And if we’re invisible on stage, we’re also invisible in the audience.  To each other.  To ourselves.

That’s a shame.  Disney wholesomeness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and in fact it’s only mine provisionally.  I like it to be there, but a steady diet of it would suffocate me.  And it would have when I was a teenager too.  But that Disney-esq sensibility about life is more me then not. I like my visits to Key West, they relax and de-stress me nicely.  But my visits to Walt Disney World rekindle something inside of me that I had thought long dead.  That, it’s a small world after all attitude.  That idealized Main Street USA.  That Tomorrowland, where we would all live someday in a world where science and the pursuit of knowledge weren’t just good things, but a great adventure.  Sniff at it if you like, but there are worse visions to have become attached to as a kid, to keep close to your heart as an adult, to hand down now to the kids among us.

I should have been a part of that vision when I was a kid.  All of us gay kids should have.  We were there in the audience, but invisible…even to ourselves.  So instead of Disney’s future, we got told we were mentally ill.  Instead of Disney wholesomeness we were taught that our desires were a sickness best kept hidden away from decent people, and especially children.  Our friends got the happily ever after.  We got the gutter.  The great big beautiful tomorrow we could all look forward too would be a better place because we would not be in it.  You can’t tell me that didn’t make a difference in the adults we all eventually became.

One of these kids will later come out of the closet…

I like to think that if Disney was alive today (yeah…he’d be 110 now…But if…), we Would be a part of that vision of the future.  Walt Disney was a pioneer, who revered the old days and idealized them in his Disneyland.  But he also never let the past keep him from moving forward.  The caretakers of his vision today alas, aren’t the visionaries he was.  But this world doesn’t get very many of those…

So according to [Disney Channel Worldwide President of Entertainment, Gary Marsh], if a character hasn’t had a crush on someone, it’s okay for the viewer to assume they character is implicitly gay and that should simply be enough. At least until the character develops an attraction for the opposite sex anyway.

Perhaps the correct answer is “we just aren’t ready yet.”

“A man should never neglect his family for business.”
-Walt Disney

Gay kids need to be brought into the Disney “family” audience too because they are part of the family too and there are worse examples out there to set for them then Disney.  “Someday” should come sooner rather then later.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
-Walt Disney

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on All Together Mouseketeers…You Too Tommy…You’re One Of Us Too…

September 29th, 2009

Apology From ABC In 3…2…1…Never…

The other day, while Judy Shepard, the mother of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard, was giving a talk about hate crimes, a man rose from the audience to call her a liar

About 45 minutes in, a man rose and asked a question that amounted to repeating a current popular right-wing lie – Matthew Shepard was killed because his killers were high and wanted to rob him; his sexual orientation was irrelevant. Mrs. Shepard refuted the claim – pointing out that in one of the killer’s confessions, he admitted they acted because of Shepard’s sexual orientation; the other, in his statement in court, admitted the same. Neither men tested positive for drugs or alcohol after Matthew’s murder. The interlocutor asserted at this point that she was lying and doing a disservice to history by lying about the reasons for her son’s murder. To my eyes, Judy Shepard appeared visibly upset by the man’s accusations. He claimed to be relying on a report from 20/20…

Ah yes…the 20/20 whitewash.  That gift to America’s bigots that keeps on giving…

“The Matthew Shepard Story: Secrets of a Murder,” which aired Nov. 26, promised shocking new information about the case. But it contained mostly speculation, scandalous details, unreliable new witnesses and revised confessions. The premise of the report by Elizabeth Vargas was that McKinney attacked Shepard during a robbery under the influence of crystal meth and that the murder had nothing to do with the victim’s sexuality…

Vargas went out of her way to show that McKinney and Henderson did not hate gay people. She questioned previous reports that characterized them as “rednecks” (her word), and tells viewers that in fact they had steady jobs and girlfriends. Vargas reported that Shepard’s friends promoted the hate crime theory in the days following the attack…

Emphasis mine.  I’ve written about the hacktacular 20/20 piece before.  But it is best summed up by Rob DeBree, the lead investigator on the case…

In his confession to DeBree, McKinney had denied using meth the day of the murder, and while McKinney had been arrested too late for the police to confirm this through blood testing, DeBree felt certain that McKinney had for once told the truth.  Obviously it’s unsurprising that the lead investigator would disagree with the defense, but DeBree had some compelling reasons on his side.  "There’s no way" it was a meth crime, DeBree argued, still passionate about the issue when I met him nearly six months after the trial had ended.  No evidence of recent drug use was "found in a search of their residences.  There was no evidence in the truck.  From everything we were able to investigate, the last time they would have done meth would have been two to three weeks previous to that night.  What the defense attempted to do was a bluff."  Meth crimes do have hallmarks.  One, "Overkill," certainly seems to describe what happened to Matt, but no others so seamlessly fit that night: "A meth crime is going to be a quick attack," DeBree pointed out.  "It’s going to be a manic attack…  No.  This was a sustained event.  And somebody that’s high on meth is not going to be targeting and zeroing in on a head, and deliver the blows that they did in the way that they did," with such precision.  "Consistently it was targeted, and even if you’re drunk, you’re going to have a tough time trying to keep your target.  No.  There’s absolutely no involvement with drugs."

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 133 – 134

A week after we met in his office, Rob [DeBree] took me to the crime scene.  As we drove out to the fence in a Sheriff’s Office SUV, he stopped in mid-sentence by the Wal-Mart"  "Here’s where it began," he told me and gestured in imitation of McKinney striking Matt.  We restart the conversation, but he’s made his point: the drive to the fence seems unimaginably long.  It’s not far – no more then a mile or two – but the rutted dirt road they turned on to makes for extremely slow driving.  When I say something to Rob about how long it takes, he agrees.  "They were coming here to finish him."  On that dirt track, it is hard to believe the defense attorney’s claims that the two killers had been drunk or high on drugs or crazed by homosexual panic.  It just takes too long to get to the fence…

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 155 – 156

"I have never worked a homicide with this much evidence," Rob says, all these months later a bit of wonder still bleeding into his voice.  "It was like a case of God giving it to us.  I’m not kidding.  The whole way it broke down from the beginning to the end – it was like, here it is, boys: work it.  It’s almost like it pissed off God, and he says, oh well, come here, let me walk you over here, walk you over there, pick up all this, pick up all that.  It was just a gift.

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 157

I drove that same path when I was in Laramie, to the extent I was able to before coming upon all the "private property signs", and that same impression swept over me like a cold clammy sickness.  You simply cannot drive the path that Shepard’s killers took and come away from it believing that it was simply a robbery gone bad.  Unless of course, that is what you need to believe. 

Considering the sorry state of American journalism, to say the 20/20 piece represented a new low is almost complementary.  But historically it is unremarkable.  Since the 1950s, mainstream American journalism has always excused anti-gay violence, usually by blaming the victim.  ABC didn’t so much sink to a new low, as pound some well worn territory.  There is no violent anti-gay hatred in America, only homosexuals who go too far and suffer the consequences.  That is what the news media in this country believes, if not on the beat, then without a doubt in the boardroom.

But now the creators of The Laramie Project have returned to their work to write an epilogue.  And in the process they’ve interviewed one of the killers, Aaron McKinney…

"As far as Matt is concerned, I don’t have any remorse," McKinney is quoted as saying in the script, which was provided to The Associated Press by the production company.

McKinney, according to the script, reiterates his claim that the 1998 killing in Laramie, Wyo., started out as a robbery, but makes clear that his antipathy toward gays played a role.

"The night I did it, I did have hatred for homosexuals," McKinney is quoted as saying. He goes on, according to the script, to say that he still dislikes gays and that his perceptions about Shepard’s sex life bolstered his belief that the killing was justified.

Emphasis mine.  But wait…there’s More

According to the script, McKinney expresses empathy with Shepard’s parents over the loss of their son, though he adds about Judy Shepard: "Still, she never shuts up about it, and it’s been like 10 years."

Gaze for a moment, if you have the nerve, into that utterly empty heart and then contemplate this fact: mainstream American news publishers, editors, owners, that rarefied media club of old boy straight male testosterone, still believes, 40 years after Stonewall, decades into the gay community’s struggle for equality here in America, that gay kids like Matthew Shepard are less a normal part of American society then this cold blooded killer is.  The killer they can understand.  They don’t approve of what he did that night, but they understand him.  The gay kid they simply cannot.  He was flaunting it.  He was coming on to someone who was disgusted by homosexuals.  He should have known better.  He brought it on himself.  In the end, when all the other excuses have withered away…it was a robbery gone bad…it was drugs…that knee-jerk understanding of McKinney’s disgust at homosexuals, that if Shepard hadn’t come onto him he would still be alive today, will remain, unmovable.

The media establishment does not regard homophobia as a problem because in the boardrooms, among the CEOs, media owners and big dollar producers, disgust is a normal reaction to homosexuality.  See it here, in this article on 10 Sexual Controversies That Changed TV… 

With everything from the new Melrose Place to trashy Twilight knockoffs, the new Fall TV season promises steamy viewing. Hemlines may rise and morals may fall, but TV writers would do well to remember that presenting sex on network TV has always been a tricky business. Though we’ve come a long way since Ricky Ricardo knocked up Lucy, only to discover that the network censors wouldn’t let him say the word “pregnant,” it’s amazing how sensitive the suits still are to sex. Here are ten TV shows in which the sex lives of their characters dramatically changed the entire series, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Yet in one instance after another that the authors cite, it’s homosexuality that causes an uproar, not so much among the viewing audience, as in the boardroom.  Are you old enough to remember watching all of these TV shows and wonder why the gay characters never had lovers and somehow always ended up dating women…?

In the end, the network had it both ways, collecting their big ratings when everyone tuned in at the start to see what the fuss was about, then ordering that the creators downplay the sexy stuff and reshape the central storyline into a murder mystery. The worst damage was done to Crystal’s character, who attempted suicide in the hospital after being dumped by his boyfriend on the eve of his gender-reassignment surgery. He survived, but while the character continued to identify as gay, he never hooked up with another guy in the course of the series; instead, he had a quick fling with a woman, got her pregnant, and spent much of his remaining time on the show fighting for custody of his daughter…

…religious groups, rather than being impressed with Sidney’s anti-abortion bona fides, made such a stink about the idea of a gay man on TV that NBC delayed airing the pilot for a year, then insisted that Sidney be gelded. Apparently Sidney was so crushed by the death of his one male lover (whose photo on the mantelpiece watched over the action like a baleful ghost) that he could never date again. When, towards the end of the second season, he dipped one toe back into the dating pool, it was with a woman, as if he’d been on the shelf so long that he’d forgotten his orientation…

…Early ratings were shaky, and the CBS brass decided that it must have something to do with viewers being put off by threatening lesbian vibes. Though both characters were supposed to be straight, it was felt that when the two dark-haired, hard-edged actresses were seen in close proximity to each other, they looked like, in the words of an unidentified CBS executive, “a couple of dykes.” It was decided that the best way to solve the problem was to fire Foster and replace herwith the blonde Sharon Gless, who, according to some mysterious executive calculation, was judged more Malibu Beach than Isle of Lesbos…

…Coming at the end of an episode, the kiss was tantamount to a cliffhanger; it all but guaranteed that slack-jawed viewers would tune in next week. Those who did got to see Donohoe deliver a back-pedaling speech about how she liked both men and women equally and would be happy just to be friends if that’s what her new friend preferred, while Greene “considered” exploring a new side of herself before deciding that, nope, she wouldn’t be going there…

The show had a resident good-looking gay guy — Matt Fielding, played by Doug Savant — who, in contrast to the juicy goings-on by the hormonally deranged straight people all around him, seemed almost pathologically stable. When Matt was permitted to enjoy an on-screen kiss with a man, the network edited it out of the program before allowing the episode to be broadcast, though they had no problem with having him gay-bashed on camera, twice

…As the show neared its seventh season, there was a persistent and widespread rumor that the youngest Connor child, D.J., was going to announce he was gay. It never happened — the big surprise of the season premiere turned out to be that Roseanne herself was pregnant again…

In 2005 the Hollywood establishment fled from Brokeback Mountain into the comforting arms of Crash, a self-serving story about racism in Los Angles, so John Wayne wouldn’t be rolling in his grave.  Next year saw a remake of 3:10 to Yuma, with an added psychotic homosexual killer subtext that wasn’t in the original.  Of course the psychotic homosexual killer is himself killed in the film’s climax, to avenge the heterosexuality of the hero.  So the establishment returns again and again to its comfort food:  Homophobia isn’t a problem, homosexuality is.  Disgust toward homosexuals is both natural and normal.  It is only when homosexuals flaunt it that things get violent and that is simply to be expected.

20/20 didn’t do a story about why Matthew Shepard was murdered, it did a story about why anti-gay hate coudn;t possibly have had anything to do with it.  And if you think this latest confession from his killer changes that you aren’t paying attention.  McKinney’s disgust and acid loathing are understood and shared throughout the media establishment, and so they see nothing out of the ordinary.  It merely confirms for them that essential truth that it was Shepard’s being open about his homosexuality that got him killed.  If you are a homosexual and you are open about it then you bring it on yourself.  You should have known better.  In the old media boardrooms that’s not considered hate, but merely a fact of life.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Apology From ABC In 3…2…1…Never…

July 13th, 2009

Surely No One Could Believe That Stereotype…

Via Sullivan…

Brüno is, in more than one sense, beyond gay. Is any viewer really going to think that this hyperbolically crass and ridiculous narcissist—who wears mesh tops and eye-searing lederhosen, refers to his adopted African baby as a "dick magnet," and drops faux-Teutonic vulgarities about his waxed arschenhaller—represents "the mainstream of the gay community," as one troubled Hollywood "gay insider" put it?

Okay…I have a question for you.  How many top grossing box office movies can you name that honestly represented that mainstream of gay people you speak of?  How many?  No…not just a walk-on token gay character, but a movie About gay people that wasn’t full of the same stupid ignorant stereotypes that are propelling Sacha Baron Cohen’s gayface act to number one?  How many?

That one about the gay cowboys?  The one that couldn’t win an academy award because John Wayne was rolling in his grave?  The one academy members openly said they’d never vote for.  The one they made Bruno-esq jokes about at the award ceremony?  The one that got practically no cable channel airplay after it left the theaters, even though it was nominated for best picture?  That one?

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

January 22nd, 2009

You Mean They’re Not All Gay…?

I’ve been seeing the "news" headline pop up on my Google News page, that Stan Lee is working on a new gay superhero he’s planning to debut soon.  Swell, thinks I, another mainstream gay stereotype, only this time in tights, is just what we need.  Not.  But no…as it turns out, there’s more to it.  Lots more.  Would you believe, that the actual creator of this new gay superhero, Perry Moore, is a gay Christian and the executive producer on the Chronicles of Narnia films?

Boy Gets Boy, Saves Earth: A Gay Christian Writer’s Plan to Change the World

What the hell do you care for the people of this planet?” a powerful savior-turned-villain bellows at Thom Creed, the eponymous teenage superhero in Perry Moore’s Lambda Award-winning novel, Hero. “They hate you, they call you names and they’re ashamed of you,” the bad guy says as he prepares to unleash a terrifying monster known as the Planet Eater. “You know I’m telling the truth. You’re all so stupid, and you’re killing this world anyway. I’m just giving you a little nudge, a gentle push.” Perhaps it’s not giving too much away to reveal that Thom, a young gay man whose sexuality is only one of several special gifts, manages to save the Earth and find true love by the novel’s last pages.

That dramatic arc may be unremarkable in a story where a boy-hero wins the heart of his ladylove, but as the scion of a literary genre—comic books—in which gay characters tend to meet a gruesome end, Hero is nothing short of revolutionary. And as Moore puts the finishing touches on the serialized small-screen adaptation of his novel for Showtime, it appears that the revolution will indeed be televised.

“Look at these tent-pole gay movies like Milk and Brokeback that straight people get behind,” Moore said in a telephone interview from his home in New York City. “The heroes die terrible deaths or endure terrible tragedies. And the characters like us that we see on TV are often the gay version of the Stepin Fetchit stereotype. Mine will be the first show where the gay character is a true hero and he isn’t doomed.”

Well Perry Moore has just won himself a fan.  That Tragic Gay Ending is one of my biggest beefs with mainstream pop culture’s representation of us.  Same sex love isn’t allowed to win.  It has to die horribly.  Either that, or the gay characters aren’t allowed to be whole people, just soulless, sexless, Stepin Fetchit stereotypes. 

“God has a really big mission for me,” says Moore, who’s producing the Showtime series with Stan Lee, the former head of Marvel Comics who has supervised the development of successful crossover storylines like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man and the Hulk. “A younger generation needs to supplant the older generation of bigots—that’s why Thom’s story is important.”

Ohhh…  Take that James Dobson.  I gotta go buy me this book…

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

January 21st, 2009

Why We Fight…(continued)

43 years ago today, this is what the nation was being told about its gay citizens, by one of the big national news magazines…

It used to be "the abominable crime not to be mentioned." Today it is not only mentioned; it is freely discussed and widely analyzed. Yet the general attitude toward homosexuality is, if anything, more uncertain than before. Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity—but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him.

A vast majority of people retain a deep loathing toward him, but there is a growing mixture of tolerance, empathy or apathy. Society is torn between condemnation and compassion, fear and curiosity, between attempts to turn the problem into a joke and the knowledge that it is anything but funny, between the deviate’s plea to be treated just like everybody else and the knowledge that he simply is not like everybody else.

…In 1948, Sexologist Alfred Kinsey published figures that homosexuals found cheering. He estimated that 4% of American white males are exclusively homosexual and that about two in five had "at least some" homosexual experience after puberty. Given Kinsey’s naive sampling methods, the figures were almost certainly wrong. But chances are that growing permissiveness about homosexuality and a hedonistic attitude toward all sex have helped "convert" many people who might have repressed their inclinations in another time or place.

Homosexuals are present in every walk of life, on any social level, often anxiously camouflaged; the camouflage will sometimes even include a wife and children, and psychoanalysts are busy treating wives who have suddenly discovered a husband’s homosexuality. But increasingly, deviates are out in the open, particularly in fashion and the arts. Women and homosexual men work together designing, marketing, retailing, and wrapping it all up in the fashion magazines. The interior decorator and the stockbroker’s wife conspire over curtains. And the symbiosis is not limited to working hours. For many a woman with a busy or absent husband, the presentable homosexual is in demand as an escort —witty, pretty, catty, and no problem to keep at arm’s length. Rich dowagers often have a permanent traveling court of charming international types who exert influence over what pictures and houses their patronesses buy, what decorators they use, and where they spend which season.

There is no denying the considerable talent of a great many homosexuals, and ideally, talent alone is what should count. But the great artists so often cited as evidence of the homosexual’s creativity—the Leonardos and Michelangelos —are probably the exceptions of genius. For the most part, thinks Los Angeles Psychiatrist Edward Stainbrook, homosexuals are failed artists, and their special creative gift a myth. No less an authority than Somerset Maugham felt that the homosexual, "however subtly he sees life, cannot see it whole," and lacks "the deep seriousness over certain things that normal men take seriously … He has small power of invention, but a wonderful gift for delightful embroidery.
 
Homosexual ethics and esthetics are staging a vengeful, derisive counterattack on what deviates call the "straight" world. This is evident in "pop," which insists on reducing art to the trivial, and in the "camp" movement, which pretends that the ugly and banal are fun. It is evident among writers, who used to disguise homosexual stories in heterosexual dress but now delight in explicit descriptions of male intercourse and orgiastic nightmares. It is evident in the theater, with many a play dedicated to the degradation of women and the derision of normal sex. The most sophisticated theatrical joke is now built around a homosexual situation; shock comes not from sex but from perversion. Attacks on women or society in general are neither new in U.S. writing nor necessarily homosexual, but they do offer a special opportunity for a consciously or unconsciously homosexual outlook.
 
They represent a kind of inverted romance, since homosexual situations as such can never be made romantic for normal audiences.  

Even in ordinary conversation, most homosexuals will sooner or later attack the "things that normal men take seriously." This does not mean that homosexuals do not and cannot talk seriously; but there is often a subtle sea change in the conversation: sex (unspoken) pervades the atmosphere. Among other matters, this raises the question of whether there is such a thing as a discernible homosexual type. Some authorities, notably Research Psychologist Evelyn Hooker of U.C.L.A., deny it—against what seems to be the opinion of most psychiatrists. The late Dr. Edmund Bergler found certain traits present in all homosexuals, including inner depression and guilt, irrational jealousy and a megalomaniac conviction that homosexual trends are universal. Though Bergler conceded that homosexuals are not responsible for their inner conflicts, he found that these conflicts "sap so much of their inner energy that the shell is a mixture of superciliousness, fake aggression and whimpering. Like all psychic masochists, they are subservient when confronted by a stronger person, merciless when in power, unscrupulous about trampling on a weaker person."

Another homosexual trait noted by Bergler and others is chronic dissatisfaction, a constant tendency to prowl or "cruise" in search of new partners. This is one reason why the "gay" bars flourishing all over the U.S. attract even the more respectable deviates.

The once widespread view that homosexuality is caused by heredity, or by some derangement of hormones, has been generally discarded. The consensus is that it is caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex. The origins of this fear lie in the homosexual’s parents. The mother—either domineering and contemptuous of the father, or feeling rejected by him—makes her son a substitute for her husband, with a close-binding, overprotective relationship. Thus, she unconsciously demasculinizes him. If at the same time the father is weakly submissive to his wife or aloof and unconsciously competitive with his son, he reinforces the process. To attain normal sexual development, according to current psychoanalytic theory, a boy should be able to identify with his father’s masculine role.

Fear of the opposite sex is also believed to be the cause of Lesbianism, which is far less visible but, according to many experts, no less widespread than male homosexuality—and far more readily tolerated. Both forms are essentially a case of arrested development, a failure of learning, a refusal to accept the full responsibilities of life. This is nowhere more apparent than in the pathetic pseudo marriages in which many homosexuals act out conventional roles—wearing wedding rings, calling themselves "he" and "she."

Is homosexuality curable? Freud thought not. In the main, he felt that analysis could only bring the deviant patient relief from his neurotic conflicts by giving him "harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed." Many of Freud’s successors are more optimistic. Philadelphia’s Dr. Samuel Hadden reported last year that he had achieved twelve conversions out of 32 male homosexuals in group therapy. Paris Psychiatrist Sacha Nacht reports that about a third of his patients turn heterosexual, a third adjust to what they are, and a third get no help at all. But he feels that only about one in ten is moved to seek help in the first place.

That is the crux: most homosexuals apparently do not desire a cure…

Focus on the Family? The Mormon Times? No…Time Magazine, issue of January 21, 1966 – The Homosexual In America

You can read the whole thing Here.

I was 12 years old. By the end of the year I would turn 13, and enter my teen years in an America where the common view of gay people were that we were sick tortured twisted sexual deviants who ought to be locked up for the safety of the community. When I was 14 I would sit with my grade school peers in a sex ed class, taught by our gym teachers, who told us that homosexuals typically killed the people they had sex with, and preferred to kidnap and rape children and seduce young heterosexuals, rather then seek out other homosexuals for sexual trysts, precisely because we knew how dangerous we were. They taught us that homosexuals would become so excited during sex that we often mutilated the genitals of the people we were having sex with. They taught us that we were confused about which gender we were, and hated ourselves, and would take out that hate on other people by killing them horribly. Most unsolved murders we were told, were committed by homosexuals. That was the world I came to know myself in.

How I managed to come out of my teen years into adulthood not completely loathing myself as others of my generation did is a story I’m (very slowly I’m afraid…) telling in cartoon form in A Coming Out Story. I was so lucky…especially in that my first high school crush was so completely decent to me. Those of us who made it out of there in one piece emotionally and mentally, pretty much swore to make sure other gay kids didn’t have to go through what we did, and to fight for the honor and the dignity of our lives, and our loves, so that future generations wouldn’t have to know what it was like to have your teachers look you in the face and try to make you and all your friends believe that you were a sexual monster…a deviant…a pervert…

 

  

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why We Fight…(continued)

January 19th, 2009

Every Snowflake In An Avalanche…(continued)

According to After Elton, the Inaugural Committee is saying they never told HBO not to broadcast Gene Robinson’s prayer and that the whole thing was an unfortunate mis-communication. 

The Presidential Inauguration Committee just issued a statement saying, "We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.” — PIC communications director Josh Earnest. 

Okay…  So why was the Gay Men’s Chorus closeted?

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

January 18th, 2009

Just So You Know You’re Still Second Class Citizens…

So…did you catch Gene Robinson giving the opening prayer to the Inaugural Festivities? 

No?  Well don’t fret…neither did anyone else…

Permission To Get Upset?

Posted by Dan Savage on Sun, Jan 18 at 5:35 PM

When Barack Obama chose anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-porn Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, gays and lesbians—still smarting from Prop 8—were understandably upset. Well, I thought our dismay was understandable. But a lot of folks in the comments threads here, there, and everywhere disagreed. Barack was just trying to bring the country together, to find common ground, and Rick Warren invited him to his church, and how dare you get upset, trust the man, let him get into office before you start grousing at him about this, why are you worrying about symbolism when it’s policy that matters, and blah blah blah.

Then when Barack Obama chose Gene Robinson, the gay Episcopal bishop, to give the invocation at tonight’s pre-inaugural festivities—the concert tonight at the Lincoln Memorial—the folks defending Obama were all like, "SEE? Obama is bringing the country together! Anti-gay preachers, gay preachers—everyone is equal and equally welcome!" And Gene Robinson did give the invocation at tonight’s concert…and his words were very moving. You can read the full text of Robinson’s prayer here.

But if you were watching HBO’s broadcast of tonight’s concert you didn’t see Robinson, or hear his remarks… because Robinson’s invocation wasn’t included in the broadcast. Skipped over during the live broadcast, edited out of the rebroadcast.

Dig it.  Not just skipped over, but edited out.  And Bishop Robinson wasn’t the only thing edited out…

How about the fact that tonight’s other big gay moment—the D.C. gay men’s chorus singing with Josh Groban—passed without the chorus, unlike every other performer, being identified?

Nice.  Welcome to morning in America.  No matter what little token we may think we’ve managed to win, never doubt the ability or the willingness of the corporate media to make sure we remain invisible.  And it’s not just that they’d rather have republicans in power then democrats.  It’s not just that allowing people to see their gay and lesbian neighbors for the human beings we are, makes it hard for us to be the monsters we have to become every election year so that republicans can gay bash their way into winning elections.  Homophobia is as much a fact of life in the high testosterone boardrooms of corporate America as it is in the megachurch stadium seating big screen TV cathedrals of the heartland.  They hate us.  First of all you have to understand that they hate us.

The democrats are sill late in coming to this fight.  Obama and his people probably genuinely thought they were being actively inclusive in bringing in Gene Robinson.  They were probably totally blind-sided by all this.  Like a lot of decent rational people, they just don’t get the depth of contempt toward gay people.  They never believe it until they actually see it for themselves.  You can’t just take a rhetorical stand in favor of gay equality.  You can’t just make a few gestures of sympathy and expect any progress to be made.  This is a knife fight.  They hate us.  They hate us with a venom that is as bottomless as it is bitter.  Every inch of progress in this fight, every inch, every painful, bloody inch of progress we make toward equality, toward the day when we are free to love and hope and dream and make decent lives for ourselves to the best of our ability, is its own poisonous scorched earth total war.  Every inch.  It will be like that right up to the bitter end and for generations after.  They hate us.  They will never stop hating us.  Of course HBO censored Gene Robinson.  Of course they shoved the Gay Men’s chorus into the closet.  The corporate media will keep on making us invisable, will keep on shoving us back into the closet, will enable the demonization of gay people, and look the other way at the toll of death and destruction until someone makes them stop.  Asking politely will not change one single solitary thing.  They hate us.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Just So You Know You’re Still Second Class Citizens…

January 13th, 2009

Are You Rolling In Your Grave Yet Grandma?

My maternal grandmother was a hard woman to live with. For me especially because he absolutely hated my dad.  Being his son, every time she laid eyes on me she saw him and I had to suffer for it.  She never saw anything good in anything or anyone, never saw joy or happiness or fun in any terms other then sinning.  I never saw her smile unless it was at someone else’s misery.

She loved her soap operas.  Even more then her radio preachers.  When I came home from school, one of them was reliably on the TV and it was an open question of my youth whether or not that was because they chased me out of the living room into my bedroom.  I hated those things.  I could never understand how someone could be entertained watching people being mean and cruel to one another.  Understand, this was in an age before reality TV.

Her two favorites were General Hospital and As The World Turns.  Swear to God to this day I can still hear that theme song from As The World Turns playing though my head whenever I think about soap operas.

So it is with pleasure…no…relish…that I read today that the young, cute, same sex couple on the current storyline of As The World Turns finally had sex…

Luke and Noah, Daytime’s Most Famous Gay Couple, Have Sex

The breakthrough scene on As the World Turns begins at about 3:03. Of course what we see is simply the before and after, but for a show that took seventh months and an extended internet campaign from fans for producers to have its two main characters share a kiss, the sex, or evidence of it, is a revelation.

Henry Seltzer writes, in The Daily Beast: “And you know the best part? The person responsible for getting them back together after the fallout from Luke kissing his step-grandfather was his grandmother, the show’s matriarch (played by Elizabeth Hubbard for the past 25 years), who was also the most understanding when Luke first came out. So not only is this not your grandmother’s soap, leave it to the grandmother-who-unwittingly-played-a-beard to get the boys back together. She even delights in sharing their post-sex ice cream sundae.”

Oh that’s so sweet!

YouTube video is Here.

Hey grandma…I just watched two cute boys having sex on your favorite soap opera while drinking tequila! Yes…I’m a stinking rotten good-for-nothing Garrett just like my Pap! And your favorite soap opera has homosexuals on it now! Just like me! Only cuter. It’s still a wicked, wicked world grandma. Cheers!

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

January 12th, 2009

Educational Film

You knew it was going to be an easy day in class when you walked in and saw one of the school’s Bell & Howell Filmosound 16mm projectors set up in the middle of the room. If the teacher was a technologically challenged sort, they’d let the class AV geek (sometimes that was me) thread the film through it and run it. You got to sit back and watch a film, and it was a safe bet that the film would be a lot more interesting and engaging then whatever teacher taught that particular class. Or to put it another way, you knew you had a good teacher when the sight of the film projector was a bit of a let-down.

My favorites were the Bell Labs educational films. Least appreciated on my list were the Highway Safety Institute films that grossed and scared the crap out of me to the point where I almost refused to get a driver’s license. Oh…and the sex ed films about the dangers of heavy petting. Who cared about that stuff anyway?

Then there were the films warning us about the dangers of homosexuality. I think I saw this one in high school…

Yeah, I laughed. As someone who actually sat through some of those old 1950s morality films, I can tell you that whoever did that one got it just about perfect…down to the stilted dialogue and cheesy narration. All that was missing from it was the randomly warbly sound of the old 16mm projector audio.

But some of us still remember the real thing…

That’s what me and my peers all got back in grade school. They were showing this crap to us as early as 8th grade. Before the personal computer came along, before the internet, before cable TV and home video, the only things we knew about homosexuals and homosexuality, were what we were taught in films like that one.

I’m sure those 1950s film makers had no idea, no clue themselves, that some of the kids watching that film were gay themselves, or that the others in the class would one day learn that an old classmate they’d gone to school alongside of is gay, and have to reconcile the kid they’d known with the image of the sick and twisted homosexual monster that they were taught. I’m sure those 1950s film makers had no idea, no clue themselves, what it was like to be either one of those kids, all grown up now, looking apprehensively at each other.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Educational Film

September 4th, 2008

Why We Fight…(continued)

The Sidney Morning Herald prints what NBC didn’t want you to know…

Out-and-out champion celebrates

HE KISSED him briefly in the stands and gave him his Olympic bouquet. Later, outside the glowing blue Water Cube, Matthew Mitcham and his partner, Lachlan Fletcher, firmly embraced, both shedding tears. Next it was his mother Vivien’s turn to hold her golden boy, and more tears fell.

Carefully nursing Mitcham’s Olympic bouquet, Fletcher spoke of the incredible journey that the diver had taken to the top. Fletcher has been the one constant over the past two years.

He was his rock when Mitcham retired in his late teenage years suffering anxiety and depression. He watched him become a stunt diver at the Sydney Royal Easter show, supported his fight back into the sport and now to win Olympic gold.

"It’s been so up and down," Fletcher said. "When I first met him, he was pretty unhappy, he wasn’t liking the diving in Brisbane at all, he didn’t want to do it, wasn’t happy being there.

"It took a lot for him to retire and stop doing it because it had been his life for so long. He wanted to try and be happy again. He took time to do normal things that people do.

"Then after five or six months he started to really miss it again and he had the opportunity to dive with Chava [Sobrino, his coach]. He started that and loved it ever since, every second of it, which is great to see him happy all the time."

What NBC didn’t want you to know:  Not that Matthew Mitcham is gay, but that he loves, and is loved, and that relationship nurtured and sustained him when he was beaten and down, and brought him back, all they way to the gold.  Love does that.  What NBC didn’t want you to know wasn’t that Mitcham is gay, but that love does that for gay people too.  To know that, is to see republican gay bashing for what it is.  Not a principled moral stand, but a crime against humanity.

What you have to understand about the entire gay rights struggle is that this is what was taken away from us for so very, very long, and what the haters are Still trying bitterly to take away from us.  Not sex, but love.  Vital, nurturing, sustaining, intimate human love.  The love that makes us whole, that completes us, that empowers us to reach beyond ourselves to the best within us. That is what was taken from us for so many human generations.  That is what we of the post-stonewall generations have been fighting to take back.  Our human status. 

When the U.S. Supreme Court nullified the sodomy laws the screaming from the hate pews afterward wasn’t about gay couples having sex, but fear the courts would now let them get married.  It was the first thing they started yapping about.  When bigots like Orson Scott Card say that a homosexual’s highest allegiance is to the society that gives them access to sex, he’s not describing what we are but what he sees us as being.  Not human.  Humans love, not-humans only have sex.  And you can rip the heart out of not-humans, because they don’t feel any pain.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why We Fight…(continued)

August 29th, 2008

Oh For Heaven’s Sake…Hey Dave…Go Get Me That Boilerplate Apology Form Willya…

NBC, suffering a torrent of bad publicity for closeting gold medalist Matthew Mitcham during its broadcast of the Olympic men’s diving events, has now issued an apology…

"We regret that we missed the opportunity to tell Matthew Mitcham’s story. We apologize for this unintentional omission.”

Well that certainly satisfies me…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

August 25th, 2008

The Gay Basher’s Friends

You may have heard that an Australian named Matthew Mitcham won the gold in the 10 meter diving event.  You may have heard that in doing so, he broke the Chinese sweep of the diving events.  You may have heard that a string of disappointments some years ago caused him to drop out of the sport briefly and that his comeback this year was the end result of a lot of very hard and determined work.  What you might not have heard, if your only exposure to the China Olympics was our mainstream news media, is that Mitcham is openly gay…

NBC Censors Sexual Orientation Of Openly Gay Gold Medalist Diver

According to OutSports.com, of the 10,708 athletes at the Olympics this year, just 10 have identified themselves publicly as being gay. Of the 10, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is the only male gay athlete.

Yesterday, Mitcham won the gold in the in the 10m platform diving event, scoring an upset over the Chinese team, which was heavily favored to win. But as Maggie Hendricks at Yahoo’s Olympics blog notes, NBC never mentioned Mitcham’s orientation:

NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards’ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh’s wedding ring debacle.

As Atrios said the other day: love triangle okay…gay, not so much.

There are two parts to the culture of violence toward gay people.  The first is the relentless demonization of gay people.  By churches, by religious leaders, by politicians and their parties, by bigots with a platform.  The public is told we are a threat to children, to families, to society, to the very existence of the human race.  We are portrayed as sexual predators, disease spreading sociopaths, self-centered narcissistic parasites on society.  We are said to be shallow, vain, self-centered and interested only in self gratification on the one hand, and self-hating, self-destructive and miserable on the other.  When we are not dangerous sociopaths we are contemptible faggots.  The other part is the silencing of gay voices.  Where we are not allowed to tell our own stories, in our own voices, where social invisibility is imposed upon us, as though we are a dirty secret best kept away from view, the only voices that are heard, are the voices of those who hate us.  The hatemongers go unanswered, and this is what happens…

  
 

 

 

Oh…and this…

I now feel very fortunate that I was able to spend some private time with Matt last summer during my vacation from Saudi Arabia. We sat and talked. I told Matt that he was my hero and that he was the toughest man that I had ever known. When I said that, I bowed down to him out of respect for his ability to continue to smile and keep a positive attitude during all the trials and tribulations that he had gone through. He just laughed. I also told him how proud I was because of what he had accomplished and what he was trying to accomplish. The last thing I said to Matt was that I loved him, and he said he loved me. That was the last private conversation that I ever had with him.

Impact on my life? My life will never be the same. I miss Matt terribly. I think about him all the time—at odd moments when some little thing reminds me of him; when I walk by the refrigerator and see the pictures of him and his brother that we’ve always kept on the door; at special times of the year, like the first day of classes at UW or opening day of sage chicken hunting. I keep wondering almost the same thing that I did when I first saw him in the hospital. What would we have become? How would he have changed his piece of the world to make it better?

Impact on my life? I feel a tremendous sense of guilt. Why wasn’t I there when he needed me most? Why didn’t I spend more time with him? Why didn’t I try to find another type of profession so that I could have been available to spend more time with him as he grew up? What could I have done to be a better father and friend? How do I get an answer to those questions now? The only one who can answer them is Matt. These questions will be with me for the rest of my life. What makes it worse for me is knowing that his mother and brother will have similar unanswered questions.

Impact on my life? In addition to losing my son, I lost my father on November 4, 1998. The stress of the entire affair was too much for him. Dad watched Matt grow up. He taught him how to hunt, fish, camp, ride horses, and love the state of Wyoming. Matt, Logan, dad, and I would spend two to three weeks camping in the mountains at different times of the year—to hunt, to fish, and to goof off. Matt learned to cook over an open fire, tell fishing stories about the one that got away, and to drive a truck from my father. Three weeks before Matt went to the Fireside Bar for the last time, my parents saw Matt in Laramie. In addition, my father tried calling Matt the night that he was beaten but received no answer. He never got over the guilt of not trying earlier. The additional strain of the hospital vigil, being in the hospital room with Matt when he died, the funeral services with all the media attention and the protesters, [and] helping Judy and me clean out Matt’s apartment in Laramie a few days later was too much. Three weeks after Matt’s death, dad died. Dad told me after the funeral that he never expected to outlive Matt. The stress and the grief were just too much for him. Impact on my life? How can my life ever be the same again?

Excerpt of Dennis Shepard’s Statements to the Court
November 4, 1999

  

There are two parts to the culture of violence toward gay people…and to all minorities.  The first is hate.  The second is that silencing of the voices of the hated, which allows hate to go unchallenged and unquestioned.  Last week a young Australian diver, after a difficult struggle to come back from burnout and defeat, won a gold medal for the 10 meter dive, beating out the best of the Chinese diving team.  You were allowed to know that.  He is openly gay, and his parents and his lover were there to support him in his quest for the gold.  He said his boyfriend was part of the support network that made his dream possible.  You weren’t allowed to know that.  Because then you might start wondering about all those things you were taught about homosexuals. 

And then you might start wondering why the news media doesn’t give a damn.

 

   

 

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

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