Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Homosexual Agenda

This article was originally published here on on May 26, 2011
Social conservatives speak with terror about ahomosexual agenda. As a practicing homosexual, I can confidently tell you there is much to fear. On a political spectrum, no greater agenda was set forth than the one during the National Equality March in October 2009. A quarter of a million people gathered on the steps of Congress chanting, “Equal protection under the law in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.” On a social and cultural spectrum, the agenda promotes acceptance and normalization of non-heterosexual relationships. For some people, this is pretty scary stuff.
Whether you agree with the agenda or not, history is being made. Social organizing via the internet is in young people's hands, and it is growing fast. Patterns in popular culture and a new generation’s involvement are prime examples of how gay normalization is becoming a reality in our society.
Your television became a queer secret agent when, in 1998, it started spewing Will & Grace into your conservative American living room. Even with all its gay stereotypes and clichés, the show was digestible and amusing. Today, the trend is exploding. Everything including Lady Gaga, Glee,Brokeback MountainSix Feet Under, Logo, Ellen, Elton John, Milk, the Simpsons and thousands of others are making a younger generation more equipped to organically grow into their sexual and gender identities. Popular music is telling kids that they are “…on the right track, baby, you were born this way…” and “…baby you’re a firework…” and “…raise your glass if you are wrong in every right way…” and “…words can’t bring you down.” Even popular video games, like Fable andMass Effect, are now giving options for same-sex romance in their story lines.
In the past year, the media exploded with coverage on the tragic stories of queer youth suicides and bullying. To be clear, however, there was not a rash of gay suicides; there was a rash of media finally doing something about it. Even President Obama made a video for the It Gets Better Project, wherein he tells gay youth “you are not alone … your differences are a source of pride, a source of strength.”
And the kids are listening.
Constance McMillen received international attention when her small-town Mississippi high schoolbanned her from bringing her girlfriend to prom. In Arkansas, 10-year-old Will Phillips receivedmedia recognition when, in school, he refused to say the pledge of allegiance to a country that discriminates against gays. There are thousands upon thousands of more untold stories like these.
Young people are defining their sexual identity as one above labels. They are developing feelings that are above the feeble-minded stereotype that we are required to be a certain word for people to understand and accept us; they know they're not alone either, because everything tells them so. They also know they must be brave in their struggle against a conservative society because everything they read, watch, and experience tells them so.
And the outcome is pretty close to gay global domination. The new generation will use popular culture and the internet to deliver this big, terrifying homosexual agenda to every lonely and troubled man, woman, and child still living alone in their closet. They’ll tell you to love yourself unconditionally, welcoming you and asking you to join them. As Harvey Milk once said, “Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.” 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Piloting the Los Angeles Gay Bar Scene – Silver Lake vs. West Hollywood

This article was originally published in on May 5. Check it out here.

Having lived here for almost five years, I can confidently tell you that gay men in Los Angeles are a curious bunch. To be fair, Angelenos are a peculiar bouquet en masse and while everything you’ve heard about us is completely true, there is the occasional well-kept secret. Geographically speaking, the city is wedged between the desert and the ocean and is really more like a sprawling suburb than a bustling metropolis. The ubiquitous queers are spread out with rainbow flags flying in every quadrant. In fact, there’s so much gay in Los Angeles that for a newbie, navigating the scenes can prove a bit daunting. Where to go? What to do? And, heaven, what to wear?

While visiting our fair shores you’ll certainly enjoy sporting speedos with the boys at Will Rogers Beach or billiards with guys at The Rooster Fish in Venice. Perhaps two-stepping with the gents at Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City? There are, however, two dominant gay scenes on either side of town you’d be remiss to miss: West Hollywood and her easterly sister, Silver Lake.

West Hollywood and Silver Lake are two houses, both alike in dignity. Dissimilar as they are parallel, they each boast their own diverse gay nightclub scene often sneering at the others antics, actions, and tricks. Either way, the menu is quite attractive and interesting: West Hollywood boasts cliquey muscle boys, shaved chests, and coiffed tresses in a vodka soda sauce garnished with a touch of disdain. In easterly Silver Lake the suits-by-day daddies mix with the hipster queers in a manly aromatic foam-party dance-off breaded with bearded armpit romance. There is very little in between. Among the natives, there are the occasional Romeos who manage to cross the line and play both scenes, but for generalization’s sake, you’re a Shark or you’re a Jet. You walk and talk and dance with the lionesses of your pride.

I’m cynical by nature, but it’s all quite fun if you’re drunk enough. I also firmly believe that there is more to being gay than bar stools and Long Island Iced Tea, but I can’t seem to remember what that is at the moment.

If you’re vacationing in LaLa Land and you enjoy tapping your toe at the odd disco, you should certainly check out both scenes.  Make sure to get a hotel near the scene you think you’ll prefer because public transportation in Los Angeles is a touch dodgy, cabs are expensive, and drinking and driving is so 2007. The token night you do venture more east or west of your hotel to meet the other scene queens, remember that they make look, act, and smell differently, but they all kiss the same. So buckle in with your Jack and Coke and enjoy the fabulous delusion that the Los Angeles gay bar scene has to offer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Did Not Kill Osama bin Laden

The facebook machine told me of Mr. Osama bin Laden’s death. I picked up a New York Times to read the details. When the news spread late last night, people began to rejoice and I understand their reaction. Outside of the White House people chanted “U.S.A. U.S.A.” and sang the Star Spangled Banner. A woman in Times Square said, “You can’t mess with the United States for very long and get away with it.” A close Rank and File in New York went down to the World Trade Center site to see the hoopla.  He facebooked about the revelers who were throwing around beach balls, the college aged students in “American costumes” and the American flags – one with Marilyn Monroe on it. Today is a day for patriot slinging. I get it.

But another good friend and Riff Raff called me upset.  She understands the revelry too. But only sort of. Celebrate death? How? As Americans we are trained to act as one. We are all Americans. But I don’t buy it. The actions of my government are not my actions. I do not shoulder any of the congratulations or, perhaps, any of the guilt. I did not kill Osama bin Laden.

I do not judge the happiness that people take away from Osama bin Laden’s death. I merely comment on its complexity.

Harry Waizer, a World Trade Center survivor, says “If this means there is one less death in the future, then I’m glad for that… But I just can’t find it in me to be glad that one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kath and Kim and Fate?

When I was about 17 I remember thinking secretly that I could name three very specific things that I believed would improve my life: having an Australian accent, being able to play the guitar, and knowing how to cook. Partly because they are admittedly silly goals and partly because I’ve never been much for self-improvement, I didn’t actively pursue any of them.

When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me two very rad graduation gifts. My dad, ever the outdoorsman, took me canoeing on the Merrimack River. My mom, who in bygone days was the lead singer of a band in Germany, gave me her guitar. She’d had it since she was twelve (or something like that).

A few years later I found myself living in New York City and in love. He was (or rather “is”, but since I’m talking about the past, I’ll commit to past tense - if that’s okay with you) Australian. And with the lovely Australian came this bit on unknown culture shock:

When I saw Kath and Kim for the first time, the skies opened up and poured heavenly angels unto me. Australia’s delicious self-deprecation mixed with brilliant writing and hidden jokes... it was the perfect brand of comedy for me. Kath and Kim is the reason I still have a VCR player. I’m now officially their Number One Fan – and am Sharon Strezlecky’s second best friend, odviously. The relationship ended, but the accent lived on.

Years later and I still couldn’t cook. Once, I almost burnt down an entire dormitory of high school girls by attempting to toast bread – so I start to think it’s possible I could be been working through a PTSD block. I had three roommates and countless friends who would try and teach me how to cook and still nothing. When I watched Julie & Julia for the first time, I was seething with jealousy.

And then one day, I woke up and knew how to cook. I don’t know how to explain what happened, but all of the information that everyone had tried to impart upon me flooded my soul as I slept – and I woke up and made Eggs Benedict. And then I made Fried Chicken, and Mushroom and Tofu Pot Pie, and Ratatouille and Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Enchiladas Molé and met a man and fell in love.

And now I cook for him. I’m still a beginner when it comes to the guitar, but I can play a handful of songs and what I know, I play for him. The accent is now a habit, which he pretends to be annoyed by but obviously loves.

If I had known definitively that in only 10 years, I’d obtain the three things that I could name and want at that moment in time, perhaps I’d ask for something else. Cheesy and cliché as it is, I imagine the first would be to meet the person of my dreams. It seems instruments, and accents, and ovens brought me to the same place. Funny how circular, how invisibly musical this life can be.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Duo Daddy Dilemma

This article was originally published in the April edition of Diversity Rules Magazine, which you can find online here.

In 2011, the option for gay parenting is alive and well. And thank goodness, because even though my beautiful beau and I are far from having babies, I make no secret of wanting to be a daddy. Including all of the major decisions and responsibilities that involve parenting, gay men in particular, have another significant determination to weigh when it comes to having a child. Adopt or Surrogate - pitting theories of nature versus nurture in the Duo Daddy Dilemma.

On the one hand you’ve got adoption. (Unless you’re in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, or North Dakota in which case what the hell are you doing? Move.) Everywhere you look, there are orphaned children that are in need of a home and some may argue that gay couples are in a unique position to offer them a family since biologically they cannot reproduce on their own. That argument makes sense to a degree. But if we are to consider that all parents (gay and straight alike) are equally capable of raising a child – which on the whole I do, and that is not to say that just anyone should raise children – then as equals, they are each equally justified in wanting their own biological child and therefore equally positioned to adopt a child. The line of reasoning to which the world is over populated only argues that all parents should adopt and not that only gay ones should.

On the other hand, there’s the option of surrogacy. From personal experience, I can testify for simply wanting biological children. Perhaps this is a paternal yearn to see one’s seed continued on. My beau commented that his biological yearning (which sounds revolting) simmered once his brother had genetic children. Or perhaps, there is something more socially selfish about wanting to raise your genetic child. Is it narcissistic to want offspring that have your eyes, your hair, or your sense of extro- or introvert -which, yes, is genetic.

If you should come to the conclusion that adopting is for you, then one must consider options of ethnicity, sex, and the age of your child. On the question of gender, are two men more fit to raise a boy and are two women more fit to raise a girl? This question shakes the very foundation of gender stereotypes. On the question of race, I’m personally against “blending in”, whether in sexual orientation or race, but I cannot deny that some people consider it an important factor when adopting children. On the question of age, adopting a baby versus a ten-year-old involves challenges that require a different and specific set of goals, perspectives, and investments.

If you should come to the conclusion of surrogacy, firstly you’ll need to decide which daddy’s sperm do you use? Chances are that one of you has the perfect eyes and an uncle who’s an alcoholic but the other has gorgeous hair and a family history of narcolepsy. I believe there is a procedure in which the two men mix sperm and let the faster swimmer win, but eventually, a couple has to realize which daddy the babe most resembles. Right? Perhaps you pull a Juliette Moore & Annette Bening and have two children, each the other’s biological, just to make it fair – though that seems like a bad reason to have two children if the original plan was only one. Once the sperm is decided upon, choosing an egg comes with it’s own emotional game of genetic guessing. Will your Baby Mama be a bosom buddy or a Jane Doe? And, of course, one must also find a surrogate and manage that delicate relationship.

Two mommies have other queries and choices to make, but there you have it, the Duo Daddy Dilemma.

Whichever choice you choose, surrogate or adoption, the real meat and potatoes of child rearing comes next. Somehow, while maintaining a modicum of sanity and financial stability all parents are expected to provide a nurturing upbringing with an emotional foundation that will prepare the young individual for the long haul of life. It’s such a magnificent responsibility that it seems appropriate that all couples consider and prepare in as much depth that is required of gay parents. While some people manage the tall order of parenting with flying colors, it is not new to suggest that many do not measure up to the demanding expectation.

Does the Duo Daddy Dilemma offer a conclusion? Oh, not really. Eventually, either decision to adopt or to find a surrogate is easily justified by logic’s standpoint and then shadowed by the enormity of actually raising and unconditionally loving a child. Make decisions that feel right for you and your growing family. Always remember to listen to others but at the end of the day free advice is worth what you paid for it. Most of all, I consider myself fortunate to be weighing these options at all. I eagerly await the great honor of being a daddy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Poem Blog: On a Bird of Steel and Souls

Taking off at night in the rain.
Dissolving into dark to leave
the drops beneath you.

Sleeping beauties snore on
condensation collecting up
on plexi making up our
bird of steel and souls.

Sitting next to strangers
munching on their peanuts
wrapped in crinkly paper,
lulling you to sleep to sleep.

While pilots care for buttons
that drive us into darkness
o'er moisture falling to the earth
you sleep and sleep and sleep.

And the boy who's wearing Converse
is the stranger sitting. Simply
put, he's noticed all the sleeping and he's
watched you sleep for hours.
He'll catch your eyelid flutter
and he'll dream about your dreaming
while tunneling through darkness
on a bird of steel and souls.

And you are one and he is one
and nothing will be done about the
souls that hope that buttons work
and eyelids flutter to the tune of
crinkly paper held by sitting strangers
who are one and one and one.

All while just dissolving.
Dissolving into darkness
on a bird of steel and souls.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

History of Weed

This video, produced by Showtime, gives an excellent and brief history of weed.

But now here's something the adorable video doesn't cover. They mention that Federal Law bans marijuana in 1937 - the question, at least for today my loves, is why? Why is marijuana illegal?

And the answer is long and complicated. So, shall we...?

State restrictions on marijuana were first created to target Mexicans after many started to migrate to the western United States after a revolution in 1910. Pete Guithar ( mentions a Texan Senator who is quoted on the floor saying "All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy."

In the eastern United States, racism strikes again, as marijuana takes another hit. This time, however, the target is Black Jazz Musicians and Latin Americans.  Guithar quotes a 1934 newspaper editorial: "Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice".

Over a few years the groundwork was laid for the American Anti-Marijuana movement whose roots were in racism. An effective marijuana smear campaign began which included some really excellent (albeit fictional) stories about assassins who commit genocide while under the influence of marijuana and of course this little 1936 gem:

(italian subtitles?)

Then let's not forget that alcohol was illegal during Prohibition, 1919 - 1933 and in 1930 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and director Harry J. Anslinger (under the Department of Treasury, not-so-oddly enough) came onto the scene which began the all out war against marijuana.

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.  
~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956

The government continued to put out a lot of propaganda to several generations about marijuana and it's effects. Seven years after Aslinger took office, a Federal law was passed prohibiting the use of marijuana. While not as much as perhaps in the 1930s, we've grown up with anti-marijuana propaganda.

Now if you continue the rest of the adorable movie from the top you'll see that marijuana became legalized as medical in California in 1993 and is now the number one cash crop in the state. Marijuana is on the move in America once again.

Like it or not, smoke it or don't - it is interesting how involved and political this little plant has been and continues to be. It's interesting how this little plant has be used for political gain or organized oppression or to relieve pain or occasionally to get high and hang on the beach.

Catch ya on the flip side, Riff Raff.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Disney Princess Complex

I know that I said a history of feminism through Disney would be a yawnfest. I lied - get over it. Moving forward:

1937 - Snow White - There simply could not be a more helpless woman than Snow White. A serious victim complex, she'll simply wait for a man to show up and save her. In the meantime, she'll happily clean and cook for the seven half-sized men. Oh yeah, the only other woman she's ever known is trying to kill her. Feminist Score: 0 

1950 - Cinderella - Cinderella is also pretty lame. Her life sucks because her father died. What's a girl to do without a daddy? But she doesn't worry too much because she knows a man will find her and save her (which of course, he does). I'll give her props for growing a pair and going to the Prince's ball - but I'd hardly call her a role model for young women. Oh yeah, and besides for the old magic lady, every woman she knows is trying to enslave her, force her to sleep by the fire, and call her stupid names like Cinderella. Feminist Score: 1

1959 - Aurora - She's in the movie for less than 18 minutes or something and all she manages to do is dream about a man who eventually will save her from the utter boredom that is her loser life, because she is incapable of doing something herself. Then when she finally gets out, she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and has to wait (albeit, this time unconsciously) for a dude to tongue rape her. Awesome, Aurora. Nailed it. The movie gets one feminism point because the fairies didn't know how to cook or sew. Feminist Score: 1

No one even went to see that stupid Princess. The box office was so low that the Disney Princess idea was boxed for twenty years.

1989 - Ariel - Finally we get to see a fish with a little spunk. She has the guts to disobey her pops and seek the fat purple sea witch (4th female villain for anyone who is keeping count) for a pair of legs, but at the end of the day she's just as bad as the others. Short of sewing her mermtwat shut, Ariel does everything for her beau even gives up her family, home and friends - for a guy she met for about 6.7 seconds. Feminist Score: 4

1991 - Belle - Compared to some of her predecessors, Belle was straight up femme-nazi. She pushed the town hottie into a puddle of mud, she liked to read, and is all about needing "more than this provincial life". Belle bravely stands up to the Beast and saves her father's life... oh yeah, but then falls swooning in love with her captor. Disney just can't help themselves but to make these women pant like a dog in heat. Feminist Score: 8

1992 - Jasmine - I'll go ahead and give Jasmine a perfect score for rocking the sensible pant suit. Feminist Score: 10

1995 - Pocahontas - To be honest, I don't really remember this movie that much. I feel like she was pretty awesome, though. She was brave and stood up for herself and her people and her land. She educated the white man and had a good relationship with her dad and stuff. I'm pretty sure she ended up single in the end right? Anyway Feminist Score: NA

1998 - Mulan - Mulan was radical bra-burning lesbian... well, sort of. Not feeling the Geisha thing, she was not about to sit idly by and let her old father go to war, so she cut her hair (so G.I. Jane) and dressed up like a dude and joined the army. She trained with the men and fought alongside them. She single-handedly defeats the Hun Army not once, but twice, and proves that women are equal to men - if not a little better, actually. Feminist Score: 13 (Out of 10)

2009 - Tiana - This girl was the first black Princess and the first to have a job - unless you count being a Princess as a job, which I do not. And even when she did become a princess, she still had a job - albeit a bit more kushy. You go, girl! Feminist Score: 10

2011 - Rapunzel - Guys, this movie was freaking awesome. If you haven't seen it, what the hell are you doing reading my blog? Go. See it. Now.

I desire to make a point about little girls and role models and movies they watch and feminine characters, but I can't seem to find the words and more to the point, I don't feel like locating them. After reading all of this perhaps consider yourself armed, at least a little, to find the your words and pass it on yourself.

And I'll leave you tonight, with this: Tinkerbell, while not a Disney Princess, was fashioned to look like Marilyn Monroe.

"Happy Birthday, Mr. President."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Movement Without a Name

It's a movement without a name. Some call it the "Gay Rights Movement". Some call it the "LGBT Equality Movement". Some call it the "Civil Rights Movement of our Generation". But whatever you call it, someone is bound to get upset. Someone is bound to feel left out.

The longest I've ever heard is LGBTQQIAA - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allied. I'm sure someone could tell me a few that I am missing.

I've had many conversations about the inclusivity, or lack their of, of the word "gay", "queer", "LGBT", including "Intersex", and of course the more general affliction of the public not having any idea what you're talking about. I've argued the arguments for radical inclusivity for the sincere forward progression of the Movement-Who-Knows-No-Name and on the other hand I've sometimes felt that it silly to try and be so PC.

For the most part, and in my little mind, I find the conversation fascinating. All of these dutifully thoughtful communicators frantically trying to appease emotionally charged opinions by using the most politically correct term. But if using the most politically correct term is the solution, then what is the problem?

I'm far from the first to say that we're are obsessed with labels. As the fear of the unknown is so inherent, the ability to define gives great comfort... and sometimes it's terribly useful. Labels, en masse, give us the ability to communicate. For example, the ability to communicate idea of a fleshy red fruit about the size of your fist, known to everyone who speaks the English language as the word "apple", is quite useful.

But what about the need to define ourselves, our sexuality, our identity, and each other? Despite their initial comfort, is there a detriment to labels? Are we limiting ourselves and our potential experience because of our need to label?

I often wonder how many "gay" men are actually "bisexual", but since society approves of "bisexual" men even less than they approve of "gay" men, the "bisexual" men, and their sensitive libidos, are socially swayed to believe they must be "gay". Did you catch all of that? Look, I don't like the idea that my penis has been brainwashed anymore than you do... but it's something to think about, Riff Raff.

A better alternative to sexual identity labels is, of course, the Kinsey Scale. But Kinsey's ideas have been around since 1948 and yet we don't, in general society, put people on a scale of 1 - 6, let alone give people the ability to change (heaven forbid) their sexual preference from day to day. This is only one example of how we are limiting our potential experience.

Out of the sexual identity sphere we have the label of "God" and "Love" and "Family" which open up entirely different cans of worms.

So what I am trying to say, and perhaps rather poorly, is this: When it comes to labeling our sexual identity, maybe we should just chillax a little bit.

And it seems that some pockets of the younger generation are starting to do just that. Since being LGBTQQIAA isn't as tabboo as it once was, there is - certainly not everywhere - less pressure to hide homosexual or bisexual tendencies. Today, people are more able to openly talk and experience a more sexually liberated agenda and therefore their sexual identity and preferences, whatever they may be, are able to mature more organically.

The world is changing so rapidly right now, Riff Raff.

Scatterdly Today [Hey, I'm aloud],

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Search for a Soul

Yes, yes. It's been a while since last I posted. You see, I actually have been attempting to write an article about what I call the "Disney Princess Complex" and a small history of feminism throughout the classic Disney movies. I started it three times and deleted everything I wrote. It was such a yawnfest that I've decided to move on.

I wonder about this here blog. I wonder about this here life. What the hell am I doing? Where am I going? What did I want to be when I grew up? At 27, am I grown up? I know that these questions are useless, but can I live without them? Can I exist without doubt? I've had every job under the cliché sun. I've worked on a farm. I've worked as a waiter/bartender/cocktailer. I've been a community organizer and activist. I was an actor in New York. I was an improv comedian in Los Angeles. I've taught a workshop at Princeton. I've been a personal assistant. I've been a secretary. I've worked as a concierge manager. I've produced online video content. I've edited reels and trailers for documentaries. I worked at a historical society. I've written a lot - but what the hell am I doing now? And what should I do next?

And there is also a shocking reality, that I am learning to come to terms with, that life doesn't always work out. And it seems that we have little control of what happens, what comes up, and where things end up. So why all the questions? Why all the soul searching?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a happy, fun-loving guy. I've got some great things going for me. I'm madly in love. But even at my happiest moments, I can't seem escape the goddamn questions. Can anyone? If so, please send some advice right away.

And then I look at some examples:

My mom, whom I greatly admire, has had quite a bizarre career path. After high school she went straight into the Army where she met my dad. I remember when I was young and she was getting her college degree. I remember when she worked at Mrs. Fields cookie company in the mall and when she started her own small business as a photographer. Years later, she's now a Dean at one of the best boarding schools in the world and she spends her free time working on a house that she and my dad built together that they call their "Little Piece of Heaven". Life is by it's nature unexpected, turbulent, and awesome.  

So why not just be happy, Riff Raff? Why all of the questions?

A friend recently told me that a major shift happens between the ages of 27 and 29. Before that, we look AT the world. We see the challenge and we, or at least I, ran towards it headstrong and confident. After 27/29, the moons of Saturn shift or something something something and we see ourselves IN the world. We are amidst the challenge and we strive to deal with our existence. 

Or perhaps she's wrong. Perhaps we're all free-falling. Perhaps the moons don't matter. Perhaps there is no God. Perhaps we just live until we die and perhaps there is no such thing as a soul. Perhaps it's all coincidence. Perhaps we're wrong about morality, about judgement, and about everything. 

Or perhaps we're on this road for a reason. Perhaps our destiny awaits. I suppose we choose our reality. We perceive our life and all we have is our perception. We choose a path or a path chooses us but we cannot foresee the outcome. 

Enough of this soul-searching. It's silly. 

Or is it?