Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another thought

Isn't it a shame that, no matter how cute young British men are, they always grow up to look so...British?


These don't have any unifying theme, except that I thought them all recently.

1. This Smoking Cocktail post on simulated gay bashing at a sport's bar troubles me for several reasons, not the least of which is the blatant misuse of the apostrophe in "sport's bar" (what sport owns the bar? Is it curling? Because that would be pretty sweet.) However, having looked past the reasons it makes me cringe, it also makes me incredibly happy.

2. Neil Gaiman, too, makes me incredibly happy. Here are two brief quotes from Chapter Two of The Graveyard Book that help explain why:

"Her father taught particle physics, but there were, Scarlett told Bod, too many people who wanted to teach particle physics and not enough people who wanted to learn it, so Scarlett's family had to keep moving to different university towns, and in each town her father would hope for a permanent teaching position that never came."

" of the policewomen got into an argument with Scarlett's father, who tried to tell her that he, as a taxpayer, paid her wages, and she told him that she was a taxpayer too and probably paid his wages..."

Very few books contain characters who are underpaid itinerant adjunct faculty. Fewer books (I think) contain multiple policewomen. Even fewer bother to challenge the totally obnoxious "I paid for you so you do whatever I want" mentality. This short novel for children does all of those in the course of two throwaway paragraphs. It also explains particle physics from a five-year-old's perspective, but I'll let you all go read the book and laugh at that one on your own. If you live near me, you can borrow my copy, but please ignore the dog footprints on it. I read it in a park.

3. I'm gonna be on TV! Z2, your shirt is gonna be on TV too! Yesterday I spent several hours with Kathy Griffin, filming an episode of her show, My Life on the D-List. Kathy (she gets to use her real name here because she's famous) came to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center to learn how to canvass voters on marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and El Nico and I were the ones who taught her how. Then we all went out to Pasadena and she talked to voters, trailed by her crew, five of us from Vote For Equality, a crew from The Advocate, and a crew from Extra. It was a whole big mess o' gays. RC Cola and I got interviewed by The Advocate and I stared (a lot) at the ass of the reporter from Extra. It was totally awesome. And by "it" I mean the whole day, not the reporter's ass. Though that was awesome too. Kathy is such a sweet person, and her makeup woman has fabulous eyebrows. This experience is proof that everyone in LA is a movie star, including and especially ME.

4. In the past two days I have had a chocolate milkshake and a black and white milkshake, plus I've tasted a creamsicle milkshake and a chocolate peanut butter banana milkshake that The Mysterious X had. All courtesy of Swingers Diner. Milkshakes, it turns out, are delicious (who knew? Oh, right; everyone knew.), but each of these failed the crucial milkshake test: does it come with a tiny cup of the extra stuff that didn't fit in the glass? Without the tiny cup, I felt a little cheated, but they still tasted wonderful. By the way, for all you vegans, vegetarians, and sympathizers in LA, Swingers is AWESOME. For those of you who eat teh meats, it is also awesome. The She God of Shark Reef and I had almost identical chili-cheese-fries-and-a-black-and-white-milkshake meals, but she had it with turkey chili and I with veggie. Something for everyone!

5. I just got the soundtrack to Bea Arthur's solo show, Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends. It is fascinatingly, fabulously, bizarrely, inexplicably terrible, and I will probably write a paper about it. However, I want to point out here that her accompanist, the composer of some of the songs she sings, is also the composer of the theme music from Kojak. Other than that, you'll have to wait until the paper gets published to hear all of my thoughts on it, which means you will never ever hear them. Because who wants to publish a paper on Bea Arthur's one-woman show? Nobody at all.

6. Starting next Friday, an amusing theatrical troupe will be doing (melo-)dramatic staged readings of spectacularly bad screenplays. It is called Magnum Opus Theatre, and it is exciting to me. I plan on attending quite a few of these.

I think that's all I got for right now. Vacation is pretty sweet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fifty people a day

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do harmony...they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine three people walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walking out? They may think it's an organization. And can you imagine, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? And friends, they may think it's a movement.

Friends, it's a movement. It's taken us forty years since Stonewall, and it probably took losing on Prop 8 to wake the beast, but we are fucking here.

Exhibit A: The federal government agrees to sign the U.N. declaration that our existence is not, in fact, a criminal act. Guess which administration refused to sign this last year?

Exhibit B: Gainesville fucking Florida solidly rejects the attempted repeal of equal protection for gay and trans people. This is, I hear, the first EVER vote on trans rights, and we took almost 60% of the vote!

Exhibit C: Vermont state senate legalizes gay marriage. The House and the governor are yet to come. The gubernatorial asshole is against the bill, but maybe not enough to veto. This would be our first victory on marriage that happens outside the courtroom.

These are all government things. Executive fiat, municipal vote, legislative action. That's not a movement. But who made this happen? WE DID. Directly (Gainesville), indirectly (Obama), and by a sort of political osmosis (Vermont). Bigots, back the fuck off. Next targets:

A) Defeat another anti-trans ballot measure in Kalamazoo, MI.
B) Win marriage by vote in Maine, Iowa, DC
C) Win marriage by legislature in Vermont, New York, New Jersey
D) Talk to every last goddamn voter in LA County about homophobia
E) Wipe a certain rural community in upstate New York off the map

That last one is not on the national gay agenda. I heard this weekend about a young boy there (let's call him Jasper) who once upon a time came out to his band teacher, a friend of mine through Rainbow Brite (I'll call her Strawberry Shortcake). Ms. Shortcake found him a foster placement, since his parents had kicked him out. Then she got a call late one night that Jasper'd accidentally come out to his new roommates--and they'd beaten him for it. He was homeless again.

His story isn't mine to share, even anonymously on the internet, so I'll leave the rest of it out. I don't know his real name. I've never met him, nor am I likely to. I don't know how he's doing now, though Strawberry Shortcake managed to get him through most of the immediate, emergency shit. But even not knowing any of that, I can promise him that this movement is for him.

If you are in any of the places I've listed as a target, please consider becoming one of those fifty people a day. We need you. Yes, you. Not just "you who are queer and therefore personally invested in these issues," but all of you. There is a center, somewhere, where you can volunteer. There is an organization that will take your money. There is a group of dedicated fighters waiting to help you discover just how dedicated you can be, even though you never had the chance before.

There is room for you in the movement, whether you're queer or a straight ally, of any race or many, flat-ass broke or rolling in it, devoutly religious or a godless atheist, old as the hills or not yet of voting age. If you want to help but don't know how, send me an email, or a facebook message, or give me a call. I will do the research for you and I will personally get you involved. If, somehow, you read this blog but don't know how to get in touch with me, leave a comment with your own contact info and I will find you.

The moment of the movement is now. Seize it before it passes you by and leaves you to regret having missed it all. Get out of your Monday-morning-armchair-quarterback stupor (yes, even the gays can use football metaphors), and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Leave West Hollywood, the Castro, Hillcrest, Key West, South Beach, Provincetown, Northampton, Chelsea, Park Slope, and the rest of the gay ghettos. Wave your civil rights in the face of someone who has never bothered to look at them.

This is it, folks. Start your engines. We're off.

(Yes, I understand the irony of beginning a post on the queer movement with a quote that includes the f-word. I'm not condoning it, just quoting accurately. I also ended it with a NASCAR metaphor. Ponder the irony while you're signing up to join the movement.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A 30-second break from working

Every time I see the word "unstable," I want to accent it on the first syllable. UNST-able. Able to be unsted.

That is all.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Today I found out about a thing that makes me angry. I know that it's irrelevant, of course, but nevertheless.

An anonymous student from last fall's History of Rock class posted on a university-specific professor-rating website that:

My TA was good, and the workload was pretty light but there was a decent amount of reading, which, in retrospect, was unnecessary anyway. Hopefully you don't get [my name] as a TA; he goes off on tangents about sexual orientation in society at times when it's just completely unnecessary.

Ahem. I gave one lecture in the fall, and it was on rock musicals. While I admire this student's appropriate use of the semi-colon, an art of which most of mine were completely ignorant, I can't bring myself to say anything else favorable about hir.

How on earth can you, anonymous student who wasn't even mine, find a "tangent" about sexual orientation "completely unnecessary" in a discussion of musical theater? More importantly, since I introduced sexual orientation as one of the organizing themes of my lecture (along with race), where do you get off telling me that it was a tangent at all?

I am seething. I know this particular student has no legitimacy as an evaluator of my teaching, as ze was clearly not paying attention when I told the class the topic of the lecture, but I remain furious that this obviously homophobic person managed to survive a class in our department with hir homophobia (and probably racism, based on other areas of hir comments) intact. I am attempting to carefully avoid gendering the object of my rage, but we all know that he's a rich, white, straight, English-as-a-first-language male who has never had to examine his own privilege ever. And he probably plays in a shitty rock band.

I will attempt to calm down by working on my paper on Cibo Matto in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If this fails, I will post more angry thoughts around midnight or so. In all likelihood, that's what'll end up happening.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Optimism? II

The latest American Religious Identification Survey, published last week, found that most faiths have lost ground since 1990 and that the fastest-growing religious choice is “None,” up from 8 percent to 15 percent (which makes it larger than all denominations except Roman Catholics and Baptists).

Would it be hypocritical to welcome this statistic with a heartfelt Hallelujah?

I have nothing against my religious friends, but after talking to voters who tell me that their religion gives them every right to vote away my civil rights and regard my existence as inherently wrong, I just like the idea of a general decline in religious belief.

Plus I'm hoping for a sustained national revival of Dionysian drunken orgies, and I think a drop in American churchgoing is a necessary step.

Oddly, this statistic, if true, means I now have more atheist comrades than gays. I wonder how I feel about that...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Asked whether homosexuality is a choice, Mr. Steele responded no. “I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay,’” Mr. Steele said. “It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.’”

This is the head of the Republican Party! It's at least a small step forward for him to make this statement publicly. Thanks, New York Times, for a bright wake-up article.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Words, words, words

This just might be the best lexicographical film I've ever seen. I want to drink with that woman.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


As of eleven minutes ago, the California Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case against Proposition 8. I am a total wreck. I will be pretending this isn't happening so I can actually get my writing done today...or at least I will be trying to do so.

If you're religious, pray for us. If you're not, do whatever your equivalent is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Keep it Gay

This piece of news from The Smoking Cocktail actually excites me a whole lot.

Damn Yankees, starring Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal? I really couldn't ask for a better cast. Now, who will play Meg and Lola? Without a good Lola, you have nothing (if they pick Renée Zellweger to play opposite these boys, I will probably cry). Without a good Applegate, you also have nothing, but I actually have a whole lot of confidence in Jim Carrey for the role. Don't ask me why. For Meg, I'm pulling for Randy Graff, who played her in last year's Encores! revival (which I didn't know until after mentally selecting her for the role), but that seems unlikely.

On another topic, though: the SNL video embedded on that page is rather upsetting. Not just for the gays-are-funny-let's-laugh-at-them sentiment--it is SNL after all--but for the way the performance completely excises all of the dignity that is the point of that song. This is absolutely not an artifact of it being a pseudo-drag performance; I could go on at length about the dignity that the drag tradition can often embody for its performers and audience.

The shift in tone arises, rather, from several factors, not the least of which is the song's out-of-context presentation. For me, though, the central thrust in the diminution of emotion comes from the vocal character and timbre of the singer--Jake does a good job of matching Jennifer Holliday's pitches, but he has no hope of ever launching a gospel career on the basis of this number. He's in a falsetto register in both the technical, physiological sense and in a more metaphorical sense; it is vocally clear that he doesn't mean any of what he's singing. That lack of any attempt at pretense (read: acting) keeps his audience completely emotionally unengaged. Which is often the point of a cheap sight gag, but not the point of a good joke.

Frankly, as a gay man who cried throughout Brokeback Mountain, studies musical theater for a living, and frequently struggles with notions of personal dignity, I'm a little tired of being a cheap sight gag.

The point of this moment in Dreamgirls is that this woman whose life is falling apart, who is hopelessly devoted to a man who won't give the same back, who has just been kicked out of the group she founded, who in every way is staring into the abyss, has vast reserves of human dignity that keep her upright. That keep her singing. Her voice, her unbelievable voice, is the prop that supports her and represents her core strength, that remains when all else is gone. Jake's performance, even allowing for the comedy-revue setting of SNL, cheapens the moment for everyone who has needed that kind of strength, who has sung along or lip-synced along or listened to the recording or watched the movie (or the stage show). For every lonely boy, girl, man, woman, and all the shades in between who needs Effie Melody White to sing for them, Jake is a poor substitute. His voice, like his acting in this sketch, has no depth.

He'll do better as Joe Hardy; I think he plays an athletic, straight, white guy pretty well. I just hope his tenor range isn't as emotionally empty as his alto.