These are my Irish Wolfhounds, I’m 5’10 by the way…
These are my Irish Wolfhounds, I’m 5’10 by the way…
Yesterday I wrote about April Ashley, so it wouldn’t be fair to mention that trans legend and omit Coccinelle
She was born Jacques Charles Dufresnoy in 1931. She began her career performing at ”Chez Madame Arthur” then at the “Carrousel” cabaret. Five years later she found Dr Georges Burou a pioneer in sex-reassignment surgery, the same used by April Ashley and Marie Pier Ysser. France was one of the countries that early on accepted sexual reassignment surgery as sufficient to change a person’s gender on their documents. Other countries like the UK only recognized that right in the 1990′s. Coccinelle went on to become a great star, appearing in various movies and founding Devenir Femme (to become woman), an association to help people that are transitioning. I decided to write about transexuals this week because not only are they under represented in the LGBT community, but there’s an outrageous campaign going on in Alaska aimed at ridiculing and marginalizing the T’s in our LGBT. I think we all need to stand up and say NO, we’re not having any of it.
Before my suburban life, I was that guy. You know, Rick Santorum’s
wet dream worse nightmare. Just one hour away from my current uptight respectable suburb is a very different place where I used to spend my summers: A Phoenician (then Roman) town called Torremolinos. It’s the home of Toni’s, Spain’s first gay bar. It was opened defiantly in 1962, despite the oppressive anti-gay efforts of the Generalísimo Francisco Franco. During the military dictatorship thousands of gay men were harassed and even incarcerated. Torremolinos gay-bars were a repeated target of raids. The opening of Toni’s was followed by the opening of another gay bar, then another, then yet another. By 1970 the entire area around a street, aptly named Danza Invisible, had become a gay village. After I came out at the age of 21 I immersed myself in LGBT life. I did the clubbing scene in London, Chicago and Ibiza. I did Chueca in Madrid (that’s a gay neighbourhood, not a drag-queen) and often left the mythical Pasapoga in daylight only to stumble on to after-parties that ended at noon. During my Torremolinos summers I’d have coffee at a gay coffee shop, then dinner at a gay restaurant, then drinks at a gay bar, then I’d go home to change to go to a gay club called Passion, then another called Voltage. As the sun rose we’d go to the port in Malaga and get on a gay-schooner where gay men could rent a bedroom or cubicle to be gay in together. I was even an escort for a while and dabbled in porn. The latter mainly because I was offered a role to perform with Bel-Ami’s Paolo Estefan, and as a young & liberal gay man -that wasn’t something I thought could be passed up.
Turns out he wasn’t gay… but that’s another story. By the way, all that sex made me no more or less compassionate, generous, kind, caring or honest. Our fight for equality and rights must be more progressive and inclusive, one that makes room for everyone. Promiscuous, non-conformist, drag queen and regular queen, rent-boy, house-boy, twink, bear and cub. We must fight to dispel the myth that there’s something inherently wrong with consensual, adult, (gay) sex instead of pretending we never do it!
She is one the great pioneers of the LGBTQ community as a representative of the T contingent.
Her name is April Ashley, and she used to look like this
Born to a poor family in Northern England, she went on to become a performer at the Carousel in Paris, after her sex reassignment surgery in Morocco in 1960 (the only place where the procedure was available then) she sky-rocketed to fame as a female model (even in Vogue)- until her secret was exposed.
UPDATE: There’s a newer book for sale HERE
Not bad, right? Above is my post-gay-marriage suburban home. I live in Southern Europe, in a place modelled on Palm Springs by an American millionaire developer called Joseph McMicking. Our streets are lined in palms, oleander trees and SUV’s. No house can have a garden of less than 10,763 square feet. Across the street from us resides the very elegant Andrea von Post, daughter of President Kennedy’s first glamorous mistress, Gunilla. When President Clinton visited Spain and wanted to play at our golf club, the Valderrama president, Mr. Ortiz Patiño (friends with the Bush family), denied him access. Some former Presidents also spends their summers here as do a dozen or so royals. We live in an unnecessarily large and slightly over-decorated home. We regularly attend charity events, dinner parties and lunches, we also have Ralph Lauren polo shirts and sweaters in almost every colour. Did I mention there are only two “out” gay homes? The other gay couple is Swiss and that’s about the most exciting thing I can say about them.
This is the new suburban me
In the past decade it seems we have re-packaged gay identity. We moved away from the old hedonist stereotype to the other gay stereotype: one that’s monogamous, adopts Asian babies, cooks like Ina Garten and is entirely de-sexualized. The kind we see on Modern Family and Desperate Housewives. A few years have gone by in these suburbs, and I’ve realized that in our desire to be assimilated with the general population -to be just like everyone else- we may have substituted who we are for who they are. The truth is, although I should have the same rights as everyone else, I’m not like everyone else. I’m gay and subversive. I like transgression. I’m sexually liberal, I’ve enjoyed casual sex, I’ve briefly done porn (more on that coming soon). Why should my place in society be contingent upon adopting heterosexist norms and normalcy? We shouldn’t just have Rick Santorum’s right to marry, have 25 children and wear sweater vests. We should also have Elizabeth Taylor’s right to marry seven gorgeous men, and Anna Nicole Smith’s right to marry a wealthy octogenarian at death’s door and legally inherit his estate.
I accidentally happened upon an outstanding Tomas Mournian article on the HuffPost last week which led me to his book published last year. Ordered it on Amazon and it arrived this morning, haven’t been able to put it down since. The writing is as sophisticated as Franzen’s The Corrections, but flows more naturally. I’ll probably be spending the rest of the night awake reading. Meanwhile I can tell you it’s the story of a gay teen sent to a facility that “cures” homosexuality. He escapes…!
UPDATE: Only slept two hours last night, keep going back to the book.
According to the February 17th edition of the Christian Post, religious groups spend 400 million dollars per year in Washington lobbying. They account for 1000 lobbyists living in the DC area alone.
Some of these groups unfortunately focus on a very limited platform that is almost exclusively about persecuting and marginalizing the LGBTQ community and/or limiting contraception and women’s reproductive rights.
Here are some of the biggest and most pernicious:
-The American Family Association has an annual budget of US$14 million and owns 180 American Family Radio stations in 28 states
-Focus on the Family has a budget of approximately 150 million per year.
-Exodus International has an annual budget of 1 million per year
-Concerned Women for America operates with a 10 million per year budget
-Coral Ridge Ministries: 65 million per year
-The Family Research Council spends 14.2 million per year
Now you see, all that money could be used to help the 1.6 million homeless children in America. It could be used to feed the hungry, it could be used to treat the ill, it could be used to offer better education to the poor, it could be used to research cancer, it could be used to improve people’s lives- but instead, it’s used to ensure tax-paying gay citizens do not have the right to sign a legal contract which gives the two signatories certain obligations and guarantees certain rights.
In the prop. 8 campaign in California the religious right wasted 40 million dollars. I wonder what real good that money could have done. But wondering is no use, because I know this isn’t a phenomena that’s likely to end. Throwing fuel on the flames of hatred is a money-maker, it’s what makes possible the donations that account for the mega-budgets of hate groups and mega-salaries of the founders and directors of those groups. Imagine making a living without the need for any sort of qualifications, all you have to do is pick a victim, repeat some junk-science and myths, and line your pockets.
Right wing propagandists have consistently used spurious arguments to attack homosexuality in a vacuum, and as their pointless arguments fall they try (and fail again) to ad-hoc them back into validity by swerving the discussion into yet another disproven myth.
So to get a clear picture let’s see what they say:
1. Homosexuality is a learnt behaviour.
Most scientists agree that there’s a genetic/hormonal factor, in fact there are a number of studies that demonstrate the gay men’s brains are more symmetrical than hetersoexual men’s brains. Although whether one is born or becomes gay is actually irrelevant. No one is born a Christian, a Republican or liking sports. Although, certain genetic factors may be an influence. Whether someone is born with one or another characteristic does not determine whether that characteristic is good or bad.
2. Homosexuality isn’t natural.
The use of the word natural in this case is deceptive. If they are referring to nature, it’s found in over 450 animal species. If they are referring to minority genetics, being taller than 6 feet isn’t “natural” -but can be fantastic for someone who wants to be a model. If they are referring to behaviour then being a Christian is equally a minority “behaviour”. The deception they use here is to try to make it sound like they’re talking about nature, and then ad- hoc the “minority” into the discussion once their argument is refuted.
3. Gay Marriage has never existed.
It has, there are a number of historical references, from Egypt to ancient China (Fujian province), to Rome and Greece, to tribes in Africa and even the Americas; But the real point here is that appealing to tradition is yet again deceptive. Slavery existed traditionally and that doesn’t mean it’s good. Civil rights didn’t exist traditionally, hence the necessity of modern constitutions and a declaration of human rights which was actually only adopted in December of 1948 after the horrors of the second world war. Being a tradition doesn’t make anything good or bad, they can fall into either category.
4. Gay Marriage will destroy Conventional Marriage.
That one is rotundly false. Straight people will continue to marry as they have throughout history. Gay marriage, legal for many in years in most of Western Europe hasn’t caused any decline whatsoever in marriage statistics for straight couples. Gay marriage is not a replacement for conventional marriage, it exists alongside straight-marriage, simply to give gay couples and families the same legal protections as straight couples.
5. Gay Marriage Will Destroy Society
False again, Western Europe which allows Gay Marriage and protects the civil rights of gays actually has lower rates of violent crime, drug use, prostitution and abortion than the USA which does not protect gay rights at a federal level.
6. They want to change the “Definition of Marriage”
The definition of marriage has never been immutable, it’s different anywhere and everywhere we look and has evolved along with civilization. Once women had few to no rights in marriage. In some cultures, East & West, women had no property rights, marriage didn’t even give them custody rights over their children until the 20th century. In other cultures a woman’s infidelity gave her husband the right to kill his wife without consequence. As civilized people we changed the “definition of marriage” from an institution that had actually been a contract of “onwership” of women by men, to a contract where two people have equal rights.
I’m not sure if I left out any of their other spurious arguments, I probably did, but what we should take away from this is that the Christian right’s anti-gay campaign is a scam. A little fraud used to scare people and collect money.
Not unlike the mafia who break your shop windows and then offer you protection. The Christian Right uses lies and deception to sully and destroy the perception of gays in society, to demonize fellow citizens, to make everyone in society fearful of gays- and then they offer society “protection”. Donate your money to James Dobson or Focus on the Family or any other of those fraudsters and they’ll protect you from the big bad gays, who were actually never hurting anyone to begin with.
The next time you read an anti-gay attack, substitute the word gay for the word Christian, and check if it mightn‘t go both ways… because really, no one is born a Christian.
As an out gay man since 1999, I’ve been able to observe how traditional models of male hierarchy are not only seeping seeping into our community but becoming widespread. It varies by country, but is mostly based on the traditional view that at the top of the pyramid sits the manly virile man. The more effeminate, the lower one is in the pecking order. In adopting that simplistic view we’ve also simplistically translated it to the sexual sphere. Although most gay men are more versatile in sexuality than the labels “top” and “bottom” let on, those labels are used to accord us value or lack of value.
In that traditional model, we are copying the age-old idea that the male who penetrates is of higher value than the woman who is penetrated. He is the aggressor, he is stronger, he has the control. More importantly, he has something that she wants, the magical penis. This biased model is factually incorrect as most people consciously realize that sex is an exchange where two people are giving each other pleasure, but the myth remains. This construct was of course invented by heterosexual men in an effort to justify the oppression of women. Real human interaction thoroughly disproves the concept just ask any young heterosexual male who has the control, him or the female?
The first time I remember being exposed to this mindset was before I realized I was gay. I was around 12 years old and we were spending vacation in a Latin American country. I overheard a small group of supposedly heterosexual men in their early 20′s having a laughter filled conversation about another young man they knew, let’s call him John. One of the men said that John was gay, he liked to get fucked. The men in the group asked each other if they would fuck John. One said no, the other said that he would, because if he’s the one doing the fucking, that didn’t make him gay.
Years go by and I’m watching Nip/Tuck. A drug addicted character is going to do gay porn to support his habit. Another character says he has to enter the profession in its lowest rungs, he is going to be the “hungry bottom”, if I remember correctly he is even going to get paid less than everyone else in the production because of the low status of the role. I can personally correct that myth from my own short-lived experience in the world of porn, the people who get paid the most are the people who do the most. Versatile actors get paid more than those who just “top” or just “bottom” (the former and the latter get paid the same fee, at least with the couple of companies I worked with in Europe.)
Now in the 21st century we are ill advised to adopt an absurd social construct that designates a person’s value according to their sexual role. It’s a shame that a community that’s attracted to sameness (homo) is finding the need to divide and hierarchize ourselves in such simplistic terms. In doing so we are internalising heteronormative reality and its need to define and label people. I imagine most gay men, as myself, have experimented with different roles and we shouldn’t confuse something that’s mutable and flexible with our identities. That fixation is an outdated heterosexual one.
Here’s an interesting Davey Wavey video and his take on the topic