Was I the only gay man of a certain demo who experienced a flicker of annoyance in the way the media treated Jason Collins as some kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled and — yes — infantilized by his coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Within the tyrannical homophobia of the sports world, that any man would come out as gay (let alone a black man) is not only an LGBT triumph but also a triumph for pranksters everywhere who thrilled to the idea that what should be considered just another neutral fact that is nobody’s business was instead a shock heard around the world, one that added another jolt of transparency to an increasingly transparent planet. It was an undeniable moment and also extremely cool. Jason Collins is the future. But the subsequent fawning over Collins simply stating he is gay still seemed to me, as another gay man, like a new kind of victimization. (George Stephanopoulos interviewed him so tenderly, it was as if he was talking to a six-year-old boy.) In another five years hopefully this won’t matter, but for now we’re trapped in the times we live in. The reign of The Gay Man as Magical Elf, who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude, is — lamentably — still in media play.
The Gay Man as Magical Elf has been such a tricky part of gay self-patronization in the media that you would by now expect the chill members of the LGBT community to respond with cool indifference. The Sweet and Sexually Unthreatening and Super-Successful Gay is supposed to be destined to transform The Hets into noble gay-loving protectors — as long as the gay in question isn’t messy or sexual or difficult. The straight and gay sanctimoniousness that says everyone gay needs to be canonized when coming out still makes some of us who are already out feel like we’re on the sidelines. I’m all for coming out on one’s own terms, but heralding it as the most important news story of the week feels to me, as a gay man, well, kind of alienating. We are apart because of what we supposedly represent because of … our … boring … sexuality — oh man, do we have to go through this again? And it’s all about the upbeat press release, the kind of smiling mask assuring us everything is awesome. God help the gay man who comes out and doesn’t want to represent, who doesn’t want to teach, who doesn’t feel like part of the homogenized gay culture and rejects it. Where’s the gay dude who makes crude jokes about other gays in the media (as straight dudes do of each other constantly) or express their hopelessness in seeing Modern Family being rewarded for its depiction of gays, a show where a heterosexual plays the most simpering ka-ween on TV and Wins. Emmys. For. It? Why isn’t the gay dude I have always known and the gay dude I have always wanted to be not front and center in the media culture now? But being “real” and “human” (i.e. flawed) is not necessarily what The Gay Gatekeepers want straight culture to see.
Bret Easton Ellis, “In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves”, Out Magazine, 2013-05-13
June 2, 2013
May 21, 2013
— Charles Stross (@cstross) May 21, 2013
“What if the lesbian queen had laser eyes and could subsist on a diet of angel tears? I want to marry my own children. Where are my pills?”
— Stuart Houghton (@stuarthoughton) May 21, 2013
In case you didn’t catch it, this is a Discworld reference.
May 20, 2013
An 18-year-old Floridian is facing two felony charges of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16″ due to a relationship with a 15-year-old girl:
“These people never came to us as parents, never tried to speak to us… and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating,” Kaitlyn Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt-Smith, wrote in an statement posted to Facebook. “…They were out to destroy my daughter. [They] feel like my daughter ‘made’ their daughter gay.”
According to Hunt-Smith, police arrived at the family’s home Feb. 16 and put her daughter in handcuffs. Local news website TCPalm.com listed Kaitlyn Hunt’s arrest for “lewd and lascivious battery” on Feb. 18, and the girl’s mug shot is still easily accessible on the Internet.
But the trouble didn’t stop there. The other girl’s parents repeatedly tried to have Kaitlyn, a senior, expelled from school. Despite the Sebastian River High School administration’s denial of their request, and a judge’s order allowing Kaitlyn to remain in school (so long as the girls had no contact), the 15-year-old’s parents successfully petitioned the school board to have Hunt removed from school weeks prior to graduation.
On the one hand, it’s outrageous that Hunt has been charged, but it’s oddly re-assuring that even though it’s a lesbian relationship, it’s being dealt with exactly the same way that a comparable heterosexual relationship would be: treated as a sex crime. And yes, in either case it’s absurd that teenagers are being classed as sexual predators for relationships that would have been considered quite ordinary a decade ago.
May 14, 2013
Jacob Sullum notes that Minnesota becomes the twelfth state to legalize same-sex marriage today:
Today Minnesota, where voters last fall rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, becomes the 12th state to give homosexual unions the same legal status as heterosexual unions. The state legislature approved the bill yesterday, and Gov. Mark Dayton plans to sign it this evening. Minnesota is the third state to legalize gay marriage in the last 10 days, following Rhode Island on May 2 and Delaware on May 7. The nine other states are Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, where legal recognition of gay marriage was approved by the legislature or by voters, plus Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts, where courts required the change.
May 9, 2013
Although James Delingpole concedes that Ferguson pretty much had to apologize for his off-the-cuff remarks on Keynes, he still thinks it was the wrong thing to do:
I don’t think there’s much doubt about Keynes’s latent gayness: not without reason was he known as the ‘Queen of King’s’. And I’m not really sure that the fact that he later married and attempted (unsuccessfully) to have children proves anything very much. Unless, of course, you’re a modern, professional-offence-taking gay activist, in which case it’s the final clincher in your compelling argument that Ferguson is totally evil and really should lose his Lawrence A. Tisch professorship at Harvard right this second for — as one angry commentator put it — taking ‘gay-bashing to new heights’.
New heights? Really? As Jonah Goldberg has noted, it’s not like there’s anything particularly new or controversial in Ferguson’s theory, tossed off lightly in response to a question at an economics conference. ‘He was childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy,’ wrote Schumpeter in his obituary of Keynes.
[. . .]
Which is why, of course, Niall Ferguson was forced to issue an apology. Not, I suspect — or rather, I hope — because he thought he’d done anything wrong, but because all too easily it could have become the chink in the armour into which his many enemies were able to insert their fatal stilettos. (I know whereof I speak here, you may recall.)
Here’s how it works: lots of liberal-lefties utterly loathe Ferguson for having committed the unforgivable crime of being an articulate and prominent exponent of right-wing views. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) live in an era where voicing right-wing views is an indictable offence; so the way to get at such dangerously outspoken defenders of free markets, liberty and small government is through the back door, a bit like Al Capone eventually being done for tax evasion. Racism would have been the ideal charge (except Ferguson’s marriage to Ayaan Hirsi Ali scuppered that option); as too would perceived sexism (which did for Harvard president Larry Summers, remember); but the homophobia charge — had not Ferguson nipped it in the bud — would have surely worked its poison just as well in the end.
I perfectly understand why Ferguson apologised but I wish he hadn’t and I’m sure in his heart he knows he shouldn’t have done. As an economic historian, he’ll be familiar with Danegeld: the more you concede to the enemy, the more they’ll demand next time round.
May 7, 2013
You have to admire the dedication of Colombian prison inmate Giovanni Rebolledo who apparently went through a partial sex-change in an attempt to stay off the police radar:
After escaping from prison where he had been sentenced to serve 60 years, Giovanni Rebolledo reportedly decided to get breast implants to help him avoid capture.
Despite his rather impressive new rack, Police were able to identify and capture Rebolledo during a routine stop and search in the Viejo Prado district of the northern coastal city of Barranquilla.
Following his extreme make-over, the suspect reportedly was involved to some degree in prostitution in the area.
Depending on where the Colombian justice system decides Rebolledo has to serve the remaining years of the original sentence, “Rosalinda” may be a very popular inmate after this.
May 6, 2013
Another case of not a surprise, but still a disappointment. Chris Kluwe has been released by the Minnesota Vikings after they drafted a punter in the fifth round of the April draft.
So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) May 6, 2013
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert ponders whether Kluwe’s outspoken character and public support of gay marriage and other causes played the prime role in the decision:
Here’s the key question to consider after the Minnesota Vikings made it official Monday and released punter Chris Kluwe: Would Kluwe be an ex-Viking today if he had never campaigned for gay rights, Hall of Fame candidacies and other issues?
My informed guess: Probably.
So what impact did Kluwe’s public advocacy play in the Vikings’ decision? It moved the odds from “probably” to “certainty,” erasing any equity his eight-career with the franchise might otherwise have built.
I know that explanation won’t satisfy those of you who are convinced the Vikings targeted Kluwe because he took on a politically and socially sensitive issue. It’s easy to see this move, contextualize it with the Baltimore Ravens’ release of special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo, and suspect an agenda against NFL players who get involved in the gay rights issue.
I just don’t think it’s that simple. When viewed through the bigger picture of NFL business, and in the context of the Vikings’ personnel approach over the past 16 months, you realize that Kluwe’s off-field life was at best the final shove at the end of the plank.
With last season’s kicker drama as the Vikings drafted “The Blair Walsh Project” and then quickly cut Ryan Longwell, and Kluwe’s exit, one has to wonder if Cullen Loeffler’s time as the team’s long-snapper is also coming to a close (it doesn’t help that he had a bad season in 2012).
May 5, 2013
Historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson has issued an apology for some remarks he made about John Maynard Keynes at a conference in California:
I had been asked to comment on Keynes’s famous observation “In the long run we are all dead.” The point I had made in my presentation was that in the long run our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are alive, and will have to deal with the consequences of our economic actions.
But I should not have suggested — in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation — that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried.
My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise.
April 23, 2013
In the New Statesman, Eleanor Margolis ponders the cultural similarities between Jews and lesbians:
You don’t have to be a devoted Woody Allen fan to be aware of the “Jew as hypochondriac” stereotype. Not only is it one of the core themes of Jewish humour, it’s true. I grew up in a household with a medicine cabinet that looked like a branch of Boots. Lesbians are identically health-obsessed. I’ve learned the hard way never to ask a fellow-gay girl about her physical wellbeing. Aside from shagging other women and feasting on organic legumes, we love absolutely nothing more than discussing our ailments. In great, often gory, detail. If a lesbian has a yeast infection or diarrhoea, she will tell you. In fact, the frankest discussions I’ve ever had about my bowel movements have been with my lesbian friends (and my mother. Natch).
[. . .]
So, aside from our shared hypochondria and foodiness, what else suggests that the Book of Lesbians might be missing from the Old Testament? Well, a hobby practiced by many a Jew is discussing, often to the point of argument, “who’s Jewish”. Similarly, we lesbians are keen to identify others like us. “Is she/isn’t she gay” discussions are a regular fixture at lesbian dinner tables and they often get heated. What Jews and lesbians have in common here is a desire to claim people as our own. If there’s someone we want on our team and there’s even the slightest hint that they might be Jewish/lesbian, we will fervently, and often speciously, argue that they are so. For example, there’s a longstanding lesbian obsession with the sexuality of boyish Canadian actress Ellen Page. And when rumours about her having dated Drew Barrymore surfaced a few years ago, we said a collective and triumphant, “Told you so”.
Another thing. In the same way that the more religious of Jewish parents don’t want their children to marry outside the religion, lesbians are often suspicious, dating-wise, of bisexuals. There’s a fair bit of prejudice towards women who aren’t fully-fledged lesbians. Rest assured, bi buddies, I don’t remotely condone this. But to some lesbians, it seems, bi girls are a no-go. What’s more, I’ve seen a certain amount of stigma attached to gay women who, like me, slept with men pre-coming out. A gay girl who has never had sex with a man is known on the scene as a “gold star lesbian”. Read: “kosher lesbian”.
February 17, 2013
In History Today, Richard Canning reviews a new book on the trial of Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton, aka Mrs Fanny Graham and Miss Stella Boulton in 1871:
McKenna provides what is certainly the definitive account of the Boulton/Park story, drawn not only from contemporary journalism but also from the full legal transcript, a miraculous survivor housed in Kew’s National Archives. It is a miserable tale, if leavened both by McKenna’s dramatic verve and, during the show trial held in Westminster Hall, by Fanny and Stella’s black humour. The establishment account – that the pair’s persistent cross-dressing importuning was a scandal to public morals that must be stopped – soon breaks down. McKenna shows clearly how the men were effectively set up and, to some degree, even entrapped.
Police confidence in pressing the serious charge of ‘conspiracy to solicit, induce, procure and endeavour to persuade persons unknown to commit buggery’ (as opposed to the minor offence of outraging public decency) was nonetheless misplaced. Buggery had until lately incurred the death penalty and still carried a lifelong penal sentence. No such charge had been brought for 240 years. The problem which attended the endless, farcical medical examinations of Boulton and Park reflected sodomy’s millennial history as the nameless or invisible crime. Few Victorian doctors could claim to have seen evidence of the extreme anal dilation which purportedly occurred after the ‘insertion of a foreign body’. Of the half dozen who inspected the pair – both inveterate sodomites, as McKenna concedes – only one remained certain that the corporeal evidence supported conviction. They were acquitted and the notion that ‘the impurities of Continental cities’ had reached London was rooted in legal terms for a quarter-century – if paradoxically seeming somehow to be affirmed.
McKenna lays bare a fascinating tapestry of interrelated personal histories, only partially capable of reconstruction. Frederick’s elder brother Harry, already twice disgraced, was hiding in Scotland under an assumed name. Their father, a judge, was urgently shipped off to South Africa during the trial of his younger son. Impressively, Frederick’s mother – amusingly a literal ‘Mary Ann’ – took to the stand to defend his moral character. So successful was she that the identification of Frederick/’Fanny’ as a theatrical mother’s boy exonerated him entirely from the imputation of vice.
February 1, 2013
Chris Vizzini registered the trademark “Gaymer” in March of 2008. More recently he’s started trying to enforce his trademark by sending a cease-and-desist letter to Reddit, which has a large, active, vocal gay gamer community in the r/gaymers subreddit. If you know anything about Reddit communities, you’ll not be surprised that they’ve rallied to fight against Vizzini’s efforts to shut them down:
The response was immediate. The first option presented was to change the subreddit’s name. Others looked to see if the trademark could even be considered valid, tracking down examples of prior use, one of them dating all the way back to 1991. Also discussed was the possibility of licensing the term for a nominal fee, the downside being that even if Vizzini did accept, it would do nothing to prevent him from pursuing others who used the word “gaymer.”
While the trademark’s description seemed to cover a large portion of Reddit’s “goods and services” (with a few notable differences), the discussion focused on whether or not Vizzini should have been able to trademark what many viewed as a descriptive or generic term.
The stakes were raised again when the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) became an active participant:
And, as if facing the wrath of united redditors wasn’t enough, the EFF has now joined the push to have this trademark cancelled.
[I]n a petition filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today, the group asks the USPTO to cancel the “gaymer” trademark registration so that people around the world can continue to use the word without interference.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the law firm Perkins Coie represent the Reddit gaymers — members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community who have an active interest in video games…
“This registration should never have been granted,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Gaymer is a common term that refers to members of this vibrant gaming community, and we are happy to help them fight back and make sure the term goes back to the public domain where it belongs.”
“Trademarks have one primary purpose: to protect consumers from confusion about the source of goods or services,” said EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels. “This registration isn’t being used to protect consumers — it’s being used to threaten free speech.”
EFF’s petition cites the same complaints the redditors discussed: that the word “gaymer” is both generic and descriptive and that it predates Vizzini’s application for exclusive use of the term (in relation to the services listed above — there’s also an unrelated Gaymer line of ciders). Whether or not the USPTO will find this argument convincing remains to be seen. Many dubious claims have made their way unscathed through the registration office in years past. The main benefit of this action is it puts the pressure on Vizzini to defend his claim to the term, something he may have no interest in doing.
January 18, 2013
Willard Foxton discusses some eye-raising configurations on new smartphones in the UK:
When you get a new phone, there’s a very good chance it comes with automatic filters enabled. For example, it’s very common for you have to explicitly request the ability to call premium-rate phone lines. This is long established, but now, a sinister new trend has started, whereby phone providers are automatically blocking access to certain websites for “mature content”, rather than “adult content”.
Mobile provider 3UK is blocking access to political satire as “mature content”; Orange is preventing access to feminist articles as “mature content” through its automatically applied Orange Safeguard service; several providers are blocking perfectly legitimate sites like Pink News because they deal with gay issues, or Channel 4′s excellent Embarrassing Bodies website, because of the graphic discussion of body parts and sexuality.
This was bad enough when these services were blocking porn (I for one wholeheartedly support the right of teenagers to watch smut on their iPhones), but now it seems overzealous providers are blocking access to anything a Catholic Bishop might consider for adults only. This carries not only the problem of “overblocking” caused by lazy filter design — notably, it’s hard to get your website read if it refers to Middlesex or Scunthorpe — but also as these filters are automatically applied, most people don’t even realise they are losing access to certain parts of the web.
November 30, 2012
The BBC has a retrospective on Christine Jorgensen, who started life as George Jorgensen, switching gender 60 years ago:
News of a pioneering sex change operation, one of the first involving both surgery and hormone therapy, was announced in 1952 — exactly 60 years ago this weekend.
“Ex-GI becomes blonde beauty!” screamed one headline as newspapers in the United States broke the news.
George Jorgensen, a quiet New Yorker, shocked a nation by returning from a trip to Denmark transformed into the glamorous Christine.
[. . .]
On her return to the US, Jorgensen was greeted with curiosity, fascination and respect by both the media and the public. There was relatively little hostility.
Hollywood embraced her. Theatre and film contracts began to roll in, she was invited to all the most glamorous parties and even crowned Woman of the Year by the Scandinavian Society in New York.
“I guess they all want to take a peek,” Jorgensen once said.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s she made a comfortable living, touring the country singing and doing impressions in her own show.
She was less successful in her personal life. Her first serious relationship broke down soon after their engagement. The next went as far as the register office, only for Jorgensen to be refused a marriage licence when she pulled out a man’s birth certificate.
November 21, 2012
“We can’t trust anybody in authority to make smart decisions for us about what’s the acceptable point of view.” So says author and Brookings Institution scholar Jonathan Rauch in FIRE’s video, “In Defense of Being Offensive.” Rauch presents a stirring and convincing defense of pluralism over what he calls “purism,” arguing that minorities benefit more under a society that values pluralism, including the right to offend others. Rauch concludes: “Is it a dangerous situation when someone can shut down the search for truth by saying ‘Oh, that offends me’? Absolutely.”
H/T to Virginia Postrel for the link.
November 10, 2012
A profile of Conservative activist Roy Eappen:
You’re not really gay.
That’s a phrase that Roy Eappen hears quite a bit.
“I’m a gay Tory. That’s apparently not acceptable,” he says between giggles. “I find it kind of funny.”
Eappen is a bit of a curious case. Indian by birth, he now lives in Quebec, where he splits his time between advocating for a new centre-right consensus in the province, stumping for the federal Conservatives and hobnobbing with Republican heavyweights down south. A quick Google search will turn up pictures of Eappen alongside George W Bush, Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan.
But he’s becoming increasingly known for his parties.
Recently, Eappen was in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, where he helped organize for conservative gay group GOProud. Before that, he started the Fabulous Blue Tent party for the Conservative convention here in Canada. “It’s a funny little secret that Tory parties all over the world are full of gay people,” he says.
Eappen’s recent 800-person party in Ottawa was met with accolades and positive reviews from partygoers and pundits. It attracted Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and MP Rick Dykstra, as well as staffers from all parties. Even Laureen Harper was supposed to come, but she couldn’t make it.
He laughs again. “She’s an Evangelical Christian, and she’s cool with us.”