Friday, November 27, 2009

In honor of Adam Lambert's kiss.

CBS's Early Show this morning blurred the rebroadcast of Adam Lambert's controversial gay kiss on the American Music Awards and then showed the Britney Spears-Madonna kiss moments later. Double standard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I am overwhelmed . . .

. . . with sadness and despair.

~that is all

Monday, October 26, 2009

We now have our own brick!

John and I will celebrate 22 years the end of this November. In honor of our anniversary, John donated to the renovation of the Harvey Milk Branch of the SF Public Library. Isn't he sweet?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde!



A portion of the transcript from the second day of testimony by Oscar Wilde in the infamous Trials.

C--Here is another letter which I believe you also wrote to Lord Alfred Douglas. Will you read it?
W—No; I decline. I don't see why I should.
C--Then I will.

Savoy Hotel,
Victoria Embankment, London.

Dearest of all Boys,
Your letter was delightful, red and yellow wine to me; but I am sad and out of sorts. Bosie, you must not make scenes with me. They kill me, they wreck the loveliness of life. I cannot see you, so Greek and gracious, distorted with passion. I cannot listen to your curved lips saying hideous things to me. I would sooner—than have you bitter, unjust, hating. . . . I must see you soon. You are the divine thing I want, the thing of grace and beauty; but I don't know how to do it. Shall I come to Salisbury? My bill here, is £49 for a week. I have also got a new sitting-room. . . . Why are you not here, my dear, my wonderful boy? I fear I must leave-no money, no credit, and a heart of lead.

YOUR OWN OSCAR.

C—Is that an ordinary letter?
W—Everything I write is extraordinary. I do not pose as being ordinary, great heavens! Ask me any question you like about it.
C--Is it the kind of letter a man writes to another?
W—It was a tender expression of my great admiration for Lord Alfred Douglas.


And here, Oscar defends the "love that dare not speak its name."

C–– What is "the love that dare not speak its name?"
W––"The love that dare not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as "the love that dare not speak its name," and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it."


Thank you, thank you Oscar Wilde, and Happy Birthday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

last Night

My partner John's play opened last night, David Henry Hwang's Yellow Face . Exploring racial identity and identity politics. Really good –– made me think a lot: about straight actors playing gay roles and going on late night talk shows to say how grossed out they were on learning they had to kiss another guy while Jay goes yuck and the tall, black, basketball star guest makes a point of making some distance between himself and the straight actor playing gay on the couch, how my history of the US west textbook describes the Plains Indian Culture as "flowering" only after european contact, how my teacher tells us that the "historical period" for Native Americans begins only with European contact because "that's when written records begin."

If you get to Mountain View, go see Yellow Face at the Center for the Performing Arts.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some thoughts on Brüno

So I went to see Brüno. Hearing all of the controversy swirling around it, how could I not? For instance, GLAAD is saying the Sacha Baron Cohen’s film Brüno reinforces "damaging, hurtful stereotypes" and “decreases the public’s comfort with gay people,” while HRC (a group that has been less than satisfactory at doing its job and protecting civil rights) is claiming that Cohen should do a better job at reminding his audience that the movie is not homophobic. In addition, a parade of gay men have been telling me that the film is once again using gay stereotypes as a way to laugh at gay people, men I would add who either did not see the film or walked out after the first few minutes.

So I went to see Brüno, and I loved it. I thought it was shear genius. Not only did I see it once, I went to see it again and I will be seeing it for a third time at the Castro theater next Thursday the 20th. It should be clear to everyone that the point of Brüno is not to make fun of gay people but rather to point out homophobia and ridicule it, and in that Brüno succeeds brilliantly. If that were all Brüno did, that would be plenty. But Brüno has so much more going on. While Cohen is using over the top gay stereotypes to highlight American's homophobia he is also commenting on the cult of celebrity: how it is defined, who has access, and how it manages to disillusion itself, and managing to do it in a truly hysterical manner. I especially enjoyed the two blond vapid 'charity PR consultants' Brüno hires to help him pick, you know, the next 'Dar-five.' Are these people real?

And that was the big question I asked leaving the film, the same question Borat aroused. Who much of Cohen's films are staged, how much of the audience is manipulated? In the end, I don't believe it really matters. This is not journalism per se. It is staged and the audience is manipulated. The staging and manipulation are a device Cohen uses to highlight intolerance and bigotry, intolerance and bigotry which is continually denied and ignored in this country. That is what is all too real.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Civic Nudity

A group of fellow nudists have regularly been exercising their right to practice civic nudity here in San Francisco where I live. On occasion I have joined them. In San Francisco there is no law regulating what one must wear in public, which means we then come under the purview of state law. According to the California Penal Code, Section 314: Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby ... is guilty of a misdemeanor. However, in 1972 nude beachgoer Chad Merrill, irate at the prospect of having to pay a $100 fine and register as a sex offender for sunning himself on a remote stretch of sand, took his case all the way to the California Supreme Court. In Smith on Habeas Corpus that august entity eventually very generously declared that there was nothing inherently lewd, or even particularly sexual, about just having no clothes on. Despite the beach-centric nature of that case, redoubtable Berkeley lawyer Bill Simpich – who has done pro bono defense work for Debbie Moore and Marty Kent of Berkeley activist theater troupe the X-plicit Players – says that Section 314 plus the 1972 ruling make it possible to scamper around California like a little naked pixie, scattering naked dust hither and yon.

This does not mean that you will not be stopped, harassed, and arrested by over zealous police officers who either do not understand the law or insist on taking an activist interpretation of the law. In recent memory every case of arrest has been dismissed by the SF D. A.'s office. So we continually push to exercise our freedoms which can be an interesting study in sociology,

Today, for instance, as I was leaving work some of my nudists buddies were sunning in the pedestrian mall at Seventeenth and Castro Streets. It being a very warm day, I decided the only logical thing to do would be to join them. Soon, and older self-identified gay neighborhood resident came over to inform us that we were "disgusting, idiotic, and why didn't we put some god-damn clothes on." He then ran away. We continued to sun ourselves and people continued to walk by, some looking at us, some not. About ten minutes later he reappeared to repeat his tirade. It was clear to us that he was visibly shaken and very, very angry. I find it amazing that the site of a naked human body can generate such hostility and anger in someone. Obviously we were not threatening him, nor were we causing him any harm. His reaction must be one whose genesis is socially learned; a conditioned reflect which he accepts as natural without giving anymore thought to its origins or logic. It is similar to a reaction of prejudice or hatred towards someone because of the color of their skin, their sex, their gender, or their sexual preference; in other words, a learned behavior which serves no useful purpose what so ever.

Eventually he reappeared for a third time, so angry this time that he was spitting. Two younger men walking by told him to "just leave them alone, they aren't hurting anyone." The man continued his rant. We invited him to come sit with us a talk about it, but he refused, saying that he didn't care. Obviously, he cared very much.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances" ~ Walt Whitman

Band of Thebes reports J.K. Rowling has selected as her all-time favourite poem, Walt Whitman's "Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances," from Leaves of Grass. In his typically direct and unambiguous style, Whitman says that when the all the things he doesn't know or can't be certain of stress him out, his male lovers calm him down. Those many doubts no longer matter because " he ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me." Watch how the rhythms build, climax, and relax.


Of the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all—that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations
after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful
fable only,
May-be the things I perceive—the animals, plants, men,
hills, shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night—colors, densities, forms—
May-be these are, (as doubtless they are,) only
apparitions, and the real something has yet to be
known;
(How often they dart out of themselves, as if to con-
found me and mock me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man knows,
aught of them;)
May-be seeming to me what they are, (as doubtless
they indeed but seem,) as from my present point
of view—And might prove, (as of course they
would,) naught of what they appear, or naught
anyhow, from entirely changed points of view;
—To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously
answer'd by my lovers, my dear friends;
When he whom I love travels with me, or sits a long
while holding me by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that
words and reason hold not, surround us and
pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom
—I am silent—I require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances, or that
of identity beyond the grave;
But I walk or sit indifferent—I am satisfied,
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama Tells Fellow Blacks: ‘No Excuses’ for Any Failure

How does this observation:
“'No one has written your destiny for you,' [Barack Obama] said, directing his remarks to 'all the other Barack Obamas out there' who might one day grow up to be president. 'Your destiny is in your hands, and don’t you forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children! No excuses! No excuses!'” agree with this one:
"Mr. Obama spoke directly about his own upbringing, crediting his mother (who was white) with setting him straight, and departing from his prepared text to talk about how his life might have turned out had she not. 'When I drive through Harlem and I drive through the South Side of Chicago and I see young men on the corners,” he said, “I say there but for the grace of God go I.'"

Isn't this just more of the American myth of the self-made man, which; while it works for some is relatively impossible to achieve for the majority?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/us/politics/17obama.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

Friday, June 26, 2009

Paradoxes

I love it when nudity is used to sell clothing. I remember an advertisement from the early 1970s for h.i.s. clothing, a shot of a tree in the middle ground with a limb in the foreground. Various articles of h.i.s. clothing were strewn across the limb and in the background about a dozen young people frolicked naked in and around the tree. The tag line read, "When you have to wear clothes. h.i.s"


This window display appears on Market Street for the clothing store Solis, celebrating Gay Pride.


Yet none of these models seem to be celebrating, or proud of their bodies the way the models were in the 1970s h.i.s. advertisement. While none of the '70s models seems out of shape, they are no way as "sculpted" as the Solis models. To me this is indicative of not only a commodification of our bodies which has transpired over the past 40 years but also a body fascism which dictates that that which is presentable is the unnatural. Our natural bodies, relaxed, uncovered and exposed, may not be seen, do not pass and are no longer fit for public consumption –– or Pride for that matter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yet More Distractions

The worst part of Proposition 8 being upheld is now we are in for even more distractions from issues which really are much more important and effect us all, not just those who are able to or choose to get married, or whose relationships fit that which the state defines as legal. In spite of what many would have us believe, marriage is not nor should it be the main issue of our community (whatever that is).

What about health-care for everyone? Universal health-care is something that is not even being discussed in Washington.

What about the deplorable treatment of prisoners, the unfair system of laws which results in the incarceration of far to many, and the deplorable shape of our schools?

What about Wall Streets hold over Washington? How about privatizing risk and socializing profits for a change?

Someone earlier told me that these were not gay rights issues, they were socialists issues, and I must just hate marriage. These are issues that are all of our issues. I am gay, but that is only a part of who I am. We talk of inclusivity, but what we practice by focusing on the marriage issue, to my mind, is exclusion.

Marriage for far to long has been held up as the solution to a host of problems, visitation rights, adoption rights, health-care, immigration rights. By extending such legitimacy to the fight for marriage we are closing off avenues to securing these rights for everyone.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Queer Nationalism

Lecture in my US history class yesterday centered on the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. We discussed Kennedy’s initial concept of containment, how Birmingham, Alabama’s Chief of Police “Bull” Connor’s use of fire hoses and police dogs on non-violent civil rights protestors was a turning point for Kennedy, forcing him to see the movement’s struggle as a moral issue. We discussed the split in the civil rights movement between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, the concept of “Black Nationalism.” I was thinking about –– waiting to see if my teacher would mention –– Bayard Rustin. Rustin, who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, how then Senator Strom Thurmond called Rustin a “communist, draft-dodger, and homosexual,” and produced a photograph of Rustin talking to Martin Luther King while King bathed. She did not. I thought then of Barbara Gittings being on the first picket lines at the White House in 1965 to protest the Federal Government’s policy on discrimination of homosexuals, how brave that was in 1965, every bit as brave as Elizabeth Eckford trying to attend Little Rock Central High School in 1957 or the Greensboro four refusing to leave the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960.

Lecture in my Variations in Human Sexuality class was the introduction to the final segment, HIV and AIDS. The professor began by telling us his personal history, how in 1977 and 1978 he was living in New York City, spending the weekends on the dance floor with his boyfriend doing ecstasy along with about 400 other gay men in a wonderfully safe milieu completely free from heterosexism where gay men could freely express who they were.

I too, remembered those times, those spaces. They seem to be disappearing today. There seems to be less and less spaces for gay men and lesbians to be free of heterosexism, to be able to express themselves openly and honestly. In this context I thought again of Malcolm X as I was crossing the quad for lunch were a Latin band was playing for the La Raza celebration and opposite sex couples were dancing in the middle of the quad. Where opposite sex couples were sitting side by side, arms around each other. Everyday I see these opposite sex displays on campus. In all of my years of schooling have I once seen a similar same-sex display. In this context I thought of the communities fight for marriage equity, how it is framed as “equality for all” when it is not equality for all, when it discounts all of those in the community who can not or do not want to form coupled relationships, or whose relationships fall outside of the defining borders of the heterosexist marriage definition. I thought of the recent attacks on behavior at the Up Your Alley Street Fair and the Folsom Street Fair; how that behavior is being framed as deviant; how once more homosexual safe spaces free of heterosexism are being slowly taken away.

Is it time for Queer Nationalism?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Checking In

Less then four weeks left in the semester. Just finished my second set of mid-terms in my two history survey classes. I received A's on the first midterms. I've only just gotten my first feedback from my Variations in Human Sexuality class, which was making me a touch nervous as the professor was sending out emails telling us how terrible our review essays he was in the process of grading where and how he had to fail a third of the class last semester. I needn't have worried, I received an A+. So I am looking to the fall and thinking about my upper division class work. If I can get in I would like to take History of the US West from 1845 to 1945, Medieval Popular Beliefs, and Coloring Queer.

We are hoping to go to Boston this summer to see "Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice." I've never been to Boston, so of course side trips to Salem, Plymouth, Provincetown, etc., shall be in order.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Borders and in-between spaces

I've been thinking about the liminal lately. Mostly because of two of my classes, Variations in Human Sexuality and World History, the subject keeps grabbing my attention. I find it intriguing how various societies react to liminality, that undefined region removed form normality.

For many, mostly polytheistic societies, viewed liminal experiences as a rite of passage. Think of societies which practiced institutionalized intergenerational homosexuality, the Greeks most famously, the Hua, the Sambia, some evidence even suggests early Germanic tribes. For them the liminal is seen as a space where male adolescents undergo a learning process part of which involved sex with his adult mentor as a means of passing maleness or knowledge through semen. In stories the liminal is celebrated as a space the hero must move through and undergo a series of challenges and tests, the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh.

For some, monotheistic societies, Zoroastrian and Jewish, liminality was seen as a moral hazard, chaos which must be guarded against at all costs, hence proscriptions on homosexuality.

Is it the need to forge identity in a hostile world, their dualistic natures which see things as black and white, good or evil, or something else?

Friday, March 13, 2009

book purchase

New book tonight by Bernard Sergent, French historian specializing in ancient Greek history, who suggests that cultures which place strict definitions on normality so as to define a heterosexual majority and a homosexual minority is a typical feature of racism. Hmmmm . . .

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Abstract

In “Charles Warren Stoddard: From Bohemian Effete to Homosexual,” Elwood Miller attempts to identify some of the shifts in transhistorical continuities of discourse during the end of the nineteenth century which begin to signify the generation of our modern conception of homosexuality. He analyzes the life, and friendships of nineteenth century writer Charles Warren Stoddard relative to their particular place in the changing definitions of nineteenth century homo-social relationships and looks for clues which indicate a shift, however subtle, in attitudes of these historical subjects around those definitions. By examining these shifts in attitude, Elwood believes we may begin to see the groundwork being laid for the shift to the twentieth century’s binary regulatory system of male/female, heterosexual/homosexual, masculine/effeminate which comes to dominate the nineteenth century’s system of separate spheres for the sexes where both men and women were free to explore deep and loving friendships with members of their own sex.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Charles Warren Stoddard

I submitted the paper on Stoddard which I did for my seminar in historical analysis last semester for the 2009 History Students Symposium at SFSU. I heard back today; it was accepted. Know I must come up with a short abstract by Thursday and a twenty-five minute presentation by March 17th.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Tuesday after Monday

Yesterday was the first day of classes. US History survey post reconstruction to the present. My prof suggested I was in the wrong class as I am a History major, check with your advisor. I did, my prof was wrong. Next class, Variations in Human Sexuality, a class of 701 students. WOO HOO! Dr. Carrington's Sex Class is the way the professor introduces it. After lunch, Survey in World History, the beginning to 1500. We receive a mini lecture on periodization; The Ancient Period 10,000 BCE - 500 BCE - Agricultural period, formation of administrative states, wealth, patriarchy. I think about Gerda Lerner postulating that it is the development of the concept of property which creates patriarchy. The Classical Period 500 BCE - 500 CE Patterns in religion and philosophical thought are established in Eurasia which influence us today, formation of migration patterns, regional empires, regional transfer of technology. I wonder if the term "Classical" is not perhaps a western bias? What about the theory of African origins of Greek society and thought? Post Classical Era 500 CE - 1500 CE Stage is set for rise of modernism. Wealth, power, and technology becomes concentrated in the east, the Ming Dynasty in China, the Ottomans in the Middle East, the Mughol Empire in India. Quick discussion of the Paleolithic Era, which we will not cover, 200,000 BCE - 10,000 BCE First economic revolution from the domestication of fire.

Repeat again on Wednesdays and Fridays. This should be fun!