Blogger's "adult warning" algorithm may have been fixed, so I have started posting here again, but will continue to use my WordPress blog. You can follow it even if you do not have a WordPress Account. There're also my Twitter and my Tumblr blog, my Facebook and my Google+ pages and my group.

Update (15/8/17): Adult Warning still defective. If you get it you have to clear your cache to read my blogs. Sad.

Monday, 6 December 2010

All Overish*

A coupla months ago I met on the train a guy I've known for 17 years.  When I first met him, he was 17, and I was 42.   He was in a ballet at my daughter's ballet school and he was cute as -- and obviously gay.  But I'm married and I try to be faithful, and anyway, even if I wasn't and didn't, I don't do 17 year olds. It's perfectly legal in Victoria. Nevertheless.  I used to see him on the train from time to time.  He was going to VCA ( Victorian College of the Arts), which has an attached high school for would-be thespians.

Rudolf Nureyev
Then he started as a ballet teacher (by then he was in his mid twenties) , and I went to him for lessons for a while.  Ballet is very intimate.  Your teacher has to show you how to do steps, how to stand, how to hold your body, head, arms, how to turn out your legs, and so on.  So there's this warm hand on you, pressing your back in or out a little, demonstrating how to improve turnout, kneeling in front of you arranging your feet into the correct line.  You are in lycra tights (with a dance thong, called a "dance belt", underneath).  He's in sweats, sometimes, and tights at others.  You are in a muck sweat from exercising, your T-shirt sodden, sweat in your groin and your bum-crack, sweat dripping off your face.  And there's this really, really nice bloke, gay, and frankly with a classic dancer's build (muscled legs, delicious bum, broad back, perfect posture) stroking you.  Well, thank goodness for padded 'dance belts' is all I can say! 

Anyway, he went overseas to pursue his career and I didn't see him for a few years.  Then I see this very handsome bloke on the train, and well, look, LOL.  And it's him.  "Nigel!"  He's genuinely really pleased to see me.  He's still cute, still slim and sexy, still very attractive.  He's even nicer than I remember.  And I get a strong impression that he might be interested in me.  He's broken up with his guy.  He's available.  He gives me his mobile number.  So as we're coming into his station, he stands up and I do too, to say goodbye, and the train lurches over some points, and suddenly I'm in his arms.  Male pectorals, male body, male arms, male stubble, male smell.  His blue eyes smiling at me, amused, accepting.  His hand light on my back.

All overish.

Am I going to phone him?  No.  I've always avoiding getting close to gay-shaded guys.  I'm not so strong-willed I can resist the desire and the need for male closeness.  Not that I would make love, but that I might grow too fond of him and get hurt in the process.  That's happened a couple of times to me in the past.  It makes me lonely, perhaps, to be cautious about friendships, because the truth is straight guys don't get it, and I try not to get too close to gay-shaded guys, but that's the way it is.  Suck it up, sunshine.

So. . .  A memory only.  But I think of him, and that moment, often.

[I talked about the beauty of ballet dancers' bodies before, here]

*"All overish" comes from one of Dorothy Sayers' novels, Clouds of Witness,  where Lord Peter Wimsey encounters a magnificently beautiful woman.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Jake Gyllenhaal & Heath Ledger





I remember when Brokeback Mountain was just whispered about.  Like everybody else who was a bit or more than a bit gay, and all those straight women who support the gay cause, we read everything we could, discussed every snippet of info, and planned for our first viewing of the film.  Which was an amazing and wonderful, a subtle and marvellous masterpiece.  (For those who've not seen this incomparable film, here is a rather bloodless summary from Wikipedia.  Now go out and see it!)

Here are two of the photo stills from the film, which show an extraordinary closeness between Ennis del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (acted by Jake Gyllenhaal)   Real or acted?  If acted, it's consummate acting.  Look at the look on both their faces, especially in the first picture.  This looks like love.  Examine Jack Twist's face, with the downcast eyes and the serene happiness.  Look at Ennis del Mar's fierce possessiveness and love.  Remarkable.



Recently, I came across two photos of these actors off camera, and was astounded to see their closeness.  Not love ("in love") as Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist were, but an obvious and unashamed intense affection.  I know these blokes weren't gay, in the sense of the word when we use it as a label to describe sexual orientation and sexual culture.   But the love and affection for each other, the playful way they transgress the boundaries of straight male public affection is telling.  And heart-warming.



It is said that Jake Gyllenhaal was extremely distraught at Heath Ledger's death.  Understandably.

I felt I had lost a friend, even though I didn't know him -- perhaps not a friend, a beloved and admired patron, because as a straight actor he had the courage to play a gay role, which might have destroyed his career, but which instead altered the world, and made ordinary people realise that we homos can love and we do, and that that love is as valid and real and worthy as the heterosexual kind.  I wonder how much of the rapid advance of acceptance of us by the straight world over the last five years is due just to this film and this act of courage by these two guys.

Thank you Jake and Heath (wherever your spirit is).  You did good.  You helped make the world a better place, and there is no higher calling.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Repent




I loved this image:  the troglodyte in front, with the sandwich board, and the two guys enthusiastically kissing, obviously doing it to vex the trog.  And look at all the people who are consigned to the outer darkness! (Obama voters?)

You know, I have (I believe) a clear sense of what is wrong or immoral.  And I NEVER felt that being gay, loving men, having sex with men, the whole business of gayness was wrong or immoral.  In fact, my first time felt exactly right.  Like coming home.  Magic.

And I don't give a rat's clacker what the Christian-Fascists think.  I know being gay is morally right.  You can argue about whether casual sex and the cum-and-go culture is quite so sound, but when you denigrate people, when you crush them with homophobia, when you say they're an "intrinsic evil" as the Pope does, then you must expect them to have a certain lack of self respect.   This is the official Catholic view:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
 Tosh!  Rubbish!  Piffle!  And that's me being polite!

The troglodyte is wrong.  Plainly and clearly and unanswerably wrong.   But he's supported by the "Christian" churches.  "They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity"  Good grief!  What a load of cobblers!

Monday, 8 November 2010

I Kiss Them Because I love Them




When this paper was reported in our local newspaper it caused a firestorm of criticism, best summed up by the phrase "real men don't kiss other men."   Irate commenters said that they never kissed other men on the lips, because they weren't homos.  And so on and so on.  As if (a) being a real man was some kind of moral imperative* and (b) kissing another man defines you as not a real man.

So first a brief summary of the authors' findings after interviewing 145 varsity and final-year high school men :


  • 89% have, at some point, kissed another male on the lips which they reported as being non-sexual: a means of expressing platonic affection among heterosexual friends.

  • 37% also reported engaging in sustained same-sex kissing, something they construed as non-sexual and non-homosexual.

  • the students understood that this type of kissing remains a taboo sexual behavior, but nonetheless reconstructed it, making it compatible with heteromasculinity by recoding it as homosocial.

  • Male-to-male kissing is increasingly permissible due to rapidly decreasing levels of cultural homophobia.


I quote the introduction extensively because it sums up what I have come to see as some archetypal facts about maleness and heterosexuality.
 Heterosexual masculinity has long maintained hegemonic dominance in Western-European and North American cultures (Kimmel, 1994;Rich,1980). Here, it is traditionally constructed against a backdrop of homophobic social stigma. But the stigma associated with men’s homosexuality (as an identity or behavior) reflects more than just the dislike of men having sex with other men: male homosexuality is also disparaged by others because it has been conflated with a perceived lack of maleness and the adoption of feminine traits**. Because of this conflation, both boys and men wishing to be perceived as masculine by their peers must necessarily disengage from those behaviors that have been socially coded as gay. Consequently, homophobia has become a benchmark for masculinity.
Among British youth, Epstein, Kehily, Mac an Ghaill, and Redman(2001) have argued that,‘‘Even little boys are required to prove that they are ‘‘real boys’’ in ways that mark them as masculine, even macho, and therefore (by definition) heterosexual’’ (p. 135). Accordingly, homophobia does more than marginalize gay boys and men; it also limits their gendered
behaviors. Schwartz and Rutter (2000) described this conflation of gender and sexual identities as the gender of sexuality; however, in the context of this article, we refer to it as heteromasculinity. The desire to be perceived as heteromasculine is understandable in a culture that distributes sexuality and gender privilege unequally.
Sedgwick (1990) explored the relationship between the homosocial and homoerotic, arguing that the suppression of emotional behaviors among men facilitated the maintenance of heterosexual power. Furthermore, Bourdieu (2001) posited that suppression of such emotional behaviors maintains the status quo, the subjugation of women. This hegemonic dominance is further accomplished through the codification of same-sex sexual behaviors as being consistent with a homosexual identity (Anderson, 2008; Lancaster, 1988). Almaguer (1991) has suggested that (in an Anglo-American context) same-sex sex historically carries with it, ‘‘a blanket condemnation of all same sex behavior…because it is at odds with a rigid, compulsory heterosexual norm’’ (p. 77). Furthermore, according to Butler (1990), the only cultural model of heterosexuality we have is predicated upon the avoidance of any sexual desire, thought, or action associated with homosexuality***. This is something Messner (2002) described as being‘‘100% straight’’ (p. 422).
Borrowing from Harris’ (1964) one-drop theory of race, in which a dominant white culture once viewed anyone with even a portion of black genetic ancestry as wholly black, Anderson (2008) has argued that a single same-sex sexual experience traditionally renders the public perception of an individual’s sexual orientation as gay. Calling this the one-time rule of homosexuality, Anderson described how, in most Western cultures, this imperative serves as a cultural mechanism to conflate the complex issues of gender, sexual orientations, sexual desires, sexual identities (and the social construction of sexual acts themselves) into the singular polarized identities of gay and straight—simultaneously re-inscribing heterosexual power and privilege through heteromasculinity while erasing bisexuality.
Furthermore, Schwartz (1995) has suggested that the inverse of this rule does not apply to homosexual men: ‘‘We have demonized the power of homosexuality so that we assume it to be the greater truth of our sexual self–as if one drop of homosexuality tells the truth of self,while one drop of heterosexuality in a homosexual life means nothing’’ (p. 12). This one-way application of the one-time rule traditionally creates a double jeopardy for heterosexual men who reveal an experience with any form of sexual behavior socially coded as gay: it both excludes them from achieving the requisites of heterosexuality and diminishes their masculine capital. With few exceptions (cf. Klein, 1993; Reis, 1961), this rule implies that in Anglo-American cultures, men’s socially constructed heteromasculine identities are framed upon exclusively opposite-sex sexual behaviors. Thus, a kiss on the lips has not been part of the historical repertoire of greetings or demonstrations of affection among men for centuries in Britain (Dinshaw, 1994). As Fox (2004) wrote, ‘‘With the possible exception of a father and a young son, Englishmen do not embrace or kiss one another’’(p. 191). In this research, however,we show that this social construction of heterosexuality is currently being contested.
 [The references are to works cited in the article, the emphases are mine]

I find it wonderful to see that the insights I have blindly striven towards are not in fact unique, and that there is a whole academic discourse about maleness and heterosexual self-identity.  I have come to the same place these analysts have reached under my own steam, with my own understandings.  In fact the very first post in this blog was about heterosexism:

It's something I've always known instinctively: straight men aren't afraid of gay or bi men for the reasons we think they are. Straight men, like gay men, care much more about how other men see them than about how women do. They act macho not to impress women, but to impress men.
I also did a couple of articles in Wilde Oats relating to this very topic:  The End of Gay discusses how increasing acceptance of gayness will lead to the strict barriers between heterosexual and homosexual being broken down; while Gay Then and Now discusses how gayness is perceived over the twenty years of Ethan Mordden's Buddy cycle of novels, and how greater tolerance has seen the edges of gayness become less sharp.



The authors of this study make it quite clear that they are talking about a special group here:  university and high school students, not the general population:

Sam suggested that much of the reason there was so much more kissing at the university was because of the liberal environment:‘‘I never kiss any of my friends back home,’’ he said. ‘‘And I can’t imagine it going down too well.’’ When asked about how his friends showed him affection back home, he said, ‘‘Punching and rubbing their knuckles into my head.’’ Comparing the two cultures, he said,‘‘I much prefer a kiss and a cuddle!’’
It's also clear that the kisses are not seen as sexual:

For the young men in our study, this type of kiss has been socially stripped of sexual significance. Whereas kissing a male friend on the lips would once be coded as a sexual act, the symbolic meaning of kissing has been differently interpreted by our informants. Here, kissing was consistent with a normal operation of heteromasculine intimacy. Highlighting this, when Pete was asked about which friends he kisses and which he does not, he answered, ‘‘I wouldn’t kiss just anyone. I kiss my good mates.’’He continued,‘‘You kiss a friend because there is no fear of being rejected; no fear of being knocked back.’’ And when Pete was asked about how he measured who was worthy of being kissed, he said,‘‘It’s not that there is a system to who gets it
or not. Instead, it’s a feeling, an expression of endearment, an act that happens to show they are important to you.’’
A number of other informants spoke of loving their friends (‘‘mates’’), too: kissing became a symbol of that platonic love. Mark said,‘‘They [the kisses] happen because you are the guy’s mate. It’s an, ‘I love you mate’ type of kiss.’’Tim agreed,‘‘Kissing others guys is a perfectly legitimate way of showing affection toward a friend.’’ Ollie, a third year engineering student, added,‘‘You do it sometimes when out having a laugh with your mates, yeah. But I suppose it’s also a way to show how much we love each other, so we do it at home, too.’’
There is an element of deliberate boundary-pushing too.  These men are well aware of the taboos they are breaking, and they do it on purpose:  "having a laugh with your mates".  They could as easily beat up homos to "have a laugh".  They do not.  They kiss each other.  They know exactly what they are doing.  They are being, in the best sense of the word, subversive:


Many of the students said that they also engaged in sustained kissing with other men. Of the 145 heterosexual men we interviewed, 48 said that they have (and sometimes regularly) engaged in provocative [my emphasis] displays of same-sex kissing, which they described as being part of the repertory of jocular banter among friends. This extended kissing may be enacted for shock value, even though our data suggest that this type of intimacy between heterosexual young men is now so common that it does not seem to elicit the desired effect.

I liked this aside:

Of the 25 men who have not socially kissed in our research, none were opposed to it. Ricky joked, ‘‘When I tell my mates what this interview was about, and they find out that I’ve not kissed a guy, you know what’s going to happen? [referring to his belief that one of his friends would kiss him]…I’m not bothered by it,’’he said.‘‘I’ll let you know if it does, so that you can change your statistics.’’ The primary author received a text message from him later that night, reading,‘‘I’m in the majority now.’’

I found this little anecdote rather touching:

Another student, Matt, highlighted how important emotional intimacy was to him, telling a story about breaking up with his girlfriend. ‘‘I was really lonely,’’he said. ‘‘Really depressed. So one night I asked my housemate who is one of my best friends if I could sleep in the bed with him. He looked at me, smiled, and said, ‘Come on,’ opening the covers to invite me in.’’ Matt continued,‘‘He kissed me, and then held me. It was nice…. I sent him a text the next day saying, ‘I’ve got the best friend in the world.’’’Matt’s story highlighted not only the intimacy he shared with his friend but that a kiss can also transcend the spatial context of partying.

And, consistent with the view that those who have substantial heteromasculine capital can more easily push the boundaries, more sportsmen (55% or more) have kissed other blokes than non sportsmen (14-22%) 

Finally, despite nearly 90% kissing other men on the lips, only 40% have had a sexual experience with other men.  The 40% is more or less consistent with Kinsey's research:

37 per cent of the total male population has at least some overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm between adolescence and old age.

 (Quoted in The End of Gay)

None of this implies that lip-kissing is a custom which will inevitably spread to the rest of the population from this group of elite, self-confident young men.  But definitions of maleness are changing, and have changed in the past.  From the Restoration until Victoria ascended the throne, men wore high heels (to show off their calves), make up and wigs.  When I was a teenager, it was considered effeminate and unmanly to wear deodorant.  "The manly tang of honest sweat."  Even homophobes wear deodorant now.  And they probably also use aftershave and conditioner.  How unmanly!  Earrings or earstuds on men were considered a clear proof of effeminacy as well as evidence of "communist" or "radical" tendencies.  So was long hair.

No doubt men kissing other men, on the cheek or on the lips, will in time become as unexceptional and unexceptionable as male deodorant, earrings and long hair.

Altogether a fascinating study.



Footnotes

* I certainly felt that my effeminacy was worse than if I'd been a rapist or thief or murderer.  This is of course the very definition of a taboo:  how could one rationally consider same-sex love or sex as worse, much worse, than rape, theft or murder?

** My own perceptions are that gender dysphoria -- men not acting like 'real men' -- is a much greater taboo than men having sex with other men.   Even within the broad church of gay-shaded men, effeminate behaviour is despised.  "I don't mind gays as long as they act straight".  Et cetera, et cetera.

*** Indeed.  So in reaction (during the decades of maximum homophobia in the first 70 years of the twentieth century) gays in reaction created their (our) own culture:

When Mordden started writing in the mid 1980s, it was the height of the AIDS epidemic.  Gays had won few rights.  Anita Bryant, the orange-juice queen, had in 1977 run a vicious scare campaign about gays “recruiting” our children.  It was only a little over a decade since the American Psychological Association had declared (in 1973) that being gay wasn’t a “mental disorder” (some straight individual psychiatrists and psychologists have yet to come to terms with that).  The noisy and occasionally violent revolution which started after Stonewall, just over 40 years ago now, hadn’t yet delivered the huge advances we’ve gained.  If you were gay or gay-shaded there was a battle on.  Lines were clear.  Either you were with us or you were against us.  Any deviation from the party line was treason.  But this implied that there was a “gay lifestyle”, a “gay culture”.   Gay men weren’t just different from the broad mass of humanity because they preferred sex with other men.  They (we) thought differently.  We dressed differently.  We had good taste.  We were good at interior design and the arts. We had “the Knowledge”.  Once it was enough to call a man ‘musical’ to label him as gay.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Labels

This is, wonderful to relate, the 200th post to this blog.   Well, youse people know I like to natter.  Thanks for listening to my rambles and rants.

Just thought I'd mention it.




This blog post made me think.  Always a dicey activity, no?  He's the bloke who started and now runs the Iomfats website.  (Thanks to Rock for reminding me of it).

A quote from the post:

Confession time.
I don't understand bisexuality. I'm homosexual, 30 years into a heterosexual marriage with a very beautiful woman, and we adore each other. We have a full marriage in all senses of the word, but I am homosexual, not even a smidgen bisexual. My wife is a glorious exception-event.  So I truly do not understand bisexuality.


Interesting.  I used also to describe myself as gay and married to a woman I love. I recently realized that I am probably bi, but at the gay end of the spectrum.  I had a kind of epiphany after reading a story by Neil Plakcy which I found very hot.  Now, you can't fool your cock ("so light, even a thought can lift it")   If you get hard, you're being turned on.  (I'm explaining this to virgins, gay, straight or in between, who somehow haven't realized this.  The rest of you know this already, right?)   So why, if you're gay and you can nevertheless get hard with a woman, do you go on calling yourself gay?

I did it because I was primarily gay. And I thought calling yourself bi was a cop-out, dishonest and in fact cowardly.  I thought that the world considered bi better than gay, and there was no way I was going to bottle out like that.  I was gay as fuck, dammit!  True, for a couple of years in my early twenties I only fucked men.  And then I met my lady, at a time when I was pretty pissed off at the cum-and-go culture.  She was so frigging beautiful, so clever and witty and just plain hot that giving up men was easy.  I hadn't found anyone to love, and I wanted to be more than a piece of meat.  I wanted to be loved.  And she loved me and I loved her, and it was wonderful.

Since then I have (at least to the outside world) been heterosexual.  But I still respond to men, to maleness, to male beauty.  I also respond to women and female beauty, but mostly I incline to the male side.  So what am I?  A gay man who got married to a woman (as Tim Trent describes himself), a straight man who went through a gay phase (a fricking long phase, acushla), or a bisexual?  You know what?  Who gives a flying foo-foo valve?  The labels mislead.

If you read Cross Currents you'll get the perspective of a mostly straight man and his relationships with other mostly straight men.  What are these blokes?  Gay?  Straight?  Bi?  Well, it's unimportant.  They are fond of each other.  They have sex with each other.  They also have sex with women.  Sometimes they're not fond of the women they fuck.  Sometimes they are.  The clichés, the labels, are damaging.  If you're gay you've gotta like musicals?  Be good at house decorating?  Wear coordinated clothes?  What a load of cobblers.  If you're straight you can't be tender and caring?  You can't love your best friend?  You can't like classical music or ballet or literature?   What utter, utter tosh.

This piece was posted a couple of months ago in The DB Files, Don Bellew's group:

It was a real-life "Brokeback Mountain" couple that Courier-Post staff
writer Robert Baxter met--though this was when Baxter was a young boy,
long before Annie Proulx wrote the story that filmmaker Ang Lee would
eventually turn into an affecting story of love between two shepherds
in the wilds of Wyoming and the life-long romance that followed.

In his Aug. 27 Courier-Post article, Baxter described meeting the two
cowboys, Bud and Manuel, at age "5, maybe 6," while at a county fair
with his grandmother. Baxter wrote of how the cowboys "looked like
real men. Lean, muscular, with big, calloused hands and strong faces,
tanned by the sun." Bud was a ranch owner; Manuel was his foreman; and
the two men shared a life, Baxter wrote. Indeed, although nobody in
the small California community where the men lived made an issue of
it, "everyone sensed Bud belonged to Manuel," and the pairing, Baxter
recalls, went over "as comfortably as Charlie and Mary or Harry and
Alice." 

(See more here)


Where do these manly gay blokes fit into the stereotypes?  It's all so much more complicated than the gay-haters believe.  In the end, we're people.  Sometimes we love people of the same gender, sometimes we love people of the other gender.  Sometimes we have sex with our own gender.  Or not.  And it doesn't follow that the love and sex necessarily have anything to do with each other.  It's more complicated than that.  And the labels ("You're so gay", "What a fruit", "He's a homo") are dangerous.  For everybody.  For the gays, who grow to hate themselves, for the straights who grow afraid to show affection to another man.  Some people are 100% gay (whatever that means)  Others 100% straight (define, please!)  And others, many many others, are somewhere on the line between, though we may call ourselves gay or straight or bi.  My invented term is "gay-shaded".  But even that is an unhappy descriptor.  Judge not lest ye be judged, everyone.   Set aside your preconceptions and prejudices.  It's much more nuanced and muddled than you thought.  Than I thought.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

This guy's a beauty



But tell me, do you think his eye colour is natural or from contact lenses?

It's exactly the colour of the eyes of  Ben, from my new novel Zing Went the Strings of my Heart.  It's a sort of sequel to I Get no Kick from Champagne.  In fact, he pretty much looks like my mental image of Ben.

Here're the first coupla paragraphs:



It was late when Ben came out of the nightclub. Alone.

It had been a good session. Fluid Exchange had been the lead band, and he liked them. He suspected that the saxophonist was an exotic. He was also not a little puzzled by the lead singer’s energy field—a wizard? A bard? He hadn’t felt one quite like that before. And he was sure he’d seen an elf on the dance floor, and another, younger, talking with the saxophonist and the lead guitarist. If it hadn’t been impossible – a human, an elf and an exotic – he’d have said all three were family, from the way they interacted.

As always, just before he stepped out of the protection afforded by the doorway, he quickly scanned each side of the narrow street, in both directions. There was nothing. Yet a prickling alert made the nape of his neck shiver. He had learnt the hard way not to ignore these warnings.

He turned and sauntered towards brighter illuminations of the main street, deliberately affecting a nonchalance he did not feel. Away from the light spilling from the door of the nightclub, it was dark, and his sense of danger grew. Like all his kind, he could see very well at night. There were no recent infra-red trails, no fading traces of dangerous auras. Yet the prickling was beginning to feel like needles piercing his skin. Out of a side alley, a space only a few yards wide and not much longer, he felt the residue of a wave of malevolence, a dab of filth brushing against his mind and fouling his aura. He reached for the weapon he always kept in his handbag, widened his pupils, tuned his ears to maximum alertness and breathed deep the foetid scents of rubbish, piss, dogshit, and evil. His gun raised, he turned into the alley, and began to walk forward.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I love to go a wandering

I loved this image. Two young blokes, hiking through the mountains, and both of them handsome as.  Well, perhaps not hiking (one of them wears flip-flops) but on holiday.   Reminds me of my many mountain-climbing trips.  There's something special about going into the wilderness with your mates.  Especially when they look like this.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Leather

It's odd that leather should be sexy. I dunno why it is. For me, perhaps, it was because as a young teen, I was very goody-goody, trying so very hard to please my parents and be the obedient, dutiful, hard-working son. The bikies in their leather gear seemed the epitome of freedom and rebellion. They didn't have to do what mummy said. The bikes were sexy (something hot and throbbing between your legs), the bikies were bad-boy hot, and by a process of transference, bikie leather jackets came to represent sexy maleness to me. As an effeminate young teen, with no cowboys or firefighters in sight, while the "sportsmen" I knew routinely bullied me, bikies were safe objects of adoration.

Enjoy the pics.




Thursday, 16 September 2010

More Gay Suicides


I know a guy who, because he had an easy time with growing up gay, maintains that prejudice against gays, especially gay teens, is over.

Alas not. Hunter's latest blog post details some more gay teen suicides and the lily-livered and shameful response of the education authorities, following up on my previous post about this topic.

I suffered misery at school. I was an outsider, I was gay (though I didn't know it), I was effeminate. I was beaten up nearly every day. The scars still remain, physical and mental. I am partially blind in one eye as a result of bullying. I am still afraid to go into a room of strange men. I never go to a bar by myself, for example. I used to try everything I could not to go to school. For me my days at school were very far from the happiest days of my life.

It's shameful that lonely unhappy people can find no one to turn to, that their teachers, fellow pupils, and even the churches do not help. Love one another as I have loved you. Yeah, right.

[The painting comes from Joe Clarke's blog]

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Flamers

A little while ago I read a remarkable blog post, from a blog which shall remain nameless. In it, the blogger described how he'd been approached by a effeminate (but very muscular) guy. This guy suffered from a -- shock! horror! -- lisp. Repelled, our intrepid blogger assaulted the "queen" and then vomited. There followed a diatribe against feminine guys.

A psychiatrist or psychologist would surely find the whole episode remarkably revealing. To me, it indicates a very strong internalised homophobia. Ah, many will reply, but what if you don't find effeminate men sexy? Well, what of it? If it had been a straight guy responding to a gay one in this way, the conclusions would have been obvious. It would have been seen as a gay hate crime. And let me make it quite clear: I'm not saying that you have to have it off with someone you find unappealing just to be politically correct. Some blokes prefer busty brunettes, others brunets with muscly pecs. Each to his own. But to hit the other guy and then vomit? C'mon! Whatever happened to Sorry, I have a headache?

So why do I call it a kind of (internalised) homophobia? Because what is going on here is a comparable to what happens in race-obsessed societies. In apartheid South Africa, the "whites" were the most desired, the "blacks" the least. The "coloureds" (mixed-race South Africans, who ironically spoke Afrikaans*, the language of the dominant "white" minority) were considered superior to the "blacks" but inferior to the "whites", and the "whiter" your skin was the higher your social standing. Manufacturers of (dangerous and ineffective) skin-whitening pastes and hair-straightening liquids did a roaring trade. Self-hatred brought on by the perverted values of society.

But how is this relevant to the spectrum of gays from queens through to clones? The most acceptable gays (to gays and straights) are those who can "pass". They're "masculine" and "straight-acting". When last did you see an ad in the hook-up section of the personals columns for a "gay-acting" partner?

It's not for nothing that one of the biggest story themes on Nifty is about straight guys turning gay. There are all sorts of reasons why this trope is so powerful to us, and I'll talk about them in a later post, but one of them clearly is that a despised and discriminated-against sexual alternative is embraced by the "real man" (gays, by definition, cannot be "real men"). A straight man turning gay validates us. And the machoer, the straighter, the more masculine the other man is before he turns to the dark side, the better. Hell's teeth, even in my own writing, I use these archetypal stories. In Footy, a straight man falls for his gay best friend.

The least acceptable gays are the "femmes", the "queens", the "gay-acting", the "flamers". When straight society talks disdainfully about "homos", this is mostly what they mean. Effeminate men are despised by most straights and gays. And it's worth asking why. 'Just because' is not an answer. Consider how many gays wish that drag queens would keep away from the gay parades. "They perpetuate stereotypes" is the politest comment I've heard. Why is it more acceptable for a woman to do "manly things" than for a man to do feminine things? Why is it OK for women to wear pants but not for men to wear dresses? Why is being a macho sportsman (even if from time to time you have a mutual blow job with your teammates) acceptable but being a male ballet dancer not?

Think of all the gay icons. Gays are turned on by construction workers and tradies, marines (but not, curiously to the same extent by other kinds of soldiers), cowboys, firefighters, bikies and the leather-clad, policemen, and of course, sportsmen. One can understand the attraction in each case, especially for sportsmen, who must be fit, healthy and muscular just to follow their calling. But so much of the attraction is for a kind of off-hand, totally self-confident, unthinking maleness. Men who don't gel their hair, who don't wear designer label undies, who sprawl in a masculine way in front of the TV to watch the game, who emerge filthy from under a car they've just fixed (competence is a very male virtue), who don't wear deodorant or aftershave. Real men. The kind of men we want to be. So, since we are homos not straights, we indulge in the equivalent of skin-lightening creams and hair straighteners. Even the term "clone" is horribly revealing.

The irony is that I myself am not immune to the attraction of these archetypes. And that I had to spend a lot of time and thought to getting over my own internalised homophobia which made me despise myself because I wasn't real man enough, and made me deeply uncomfortable with flamers. But the first step to coming to terms with this is to recognise it for what it is.

I'm sure I'll get heaps of emails and comments, saying stuff like "but that's just what I like/dislike, it's not homophobia." Fair enough. But the question is: why do we have these likes and dislikes? Our personal values don't happen in a vacuum. They are affected, coloured, driven by societal values. We must understand, because if we end up disliking ourselves because we don't conform to some outdated sexist stereotype than we will just get hurt. Effeminate gay men are us, too. Flamers have feelings. Until they/we are whole-heartedly accepted, gay liberation will not be complete.

[This is the third of a linked series of posts. The previous two are Darl and Homophobia and Behaviour Modification. These articles I wrote for Wilde Oats also consider some of the issues I touch on here: The End of Gay and Gay, Then and Now.]


The Village People, making fun of the stereotypes.




*the first book written in Afrikaans was written in Arabic script to convert the "Malay" (Indonesian) Muslim slaves in Cape Town in the early 19th century. Ironic that their creole of Dutch became the language of the apartheid regime. Now there's self-hatred for you! And apartheid is pronounced apart+hate. Easy to remember.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Haiku conversation


My spring haiku:
Sacred ibises
Wings whispering slow grey silk
In a blue spring sky
My lady's haiku in response:

Cat rolls in spring sun
Dizzy abandon, dog more
Wary, winter aged.
and my daughter's:
Tiny animals
Unfurl themselves to the dawn
As the sun rises

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Nick Riewoldt

Nick Riewoldt looks a lot like my creation Tom Siedentrop, the footy player from the imaginary team "Archbishop's".

The similarity was pointed out to me after I wrote Footy, I assure you!



Lenny Hayes (headband, brown hair) is on the left Nick Riewoldt (blond hair blue eyes) is on the right. They're rather . . . sexy, aren't they?

If you want to read about an imaginary footy player and his gay best friend, you can do it here.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Serendipity

Serendipity. Isn't it a wonderful word! Good old Horace Walpole and the eighteenth century enlightenment.

In this case, I meant that I find wonderful things when I start researching for the posts I write. Mostly -- though not always -- I'm looking for pictures to go with my rants. But as the Wikipedia item on serendipity says, an informed search, that is, one where you can see the usefulness and relevance of pictures or articles even if Google hasn't done the linkages for you, makes for some very satisfying discoveries.

I was looking for an image to go with my May-September Relationships piece, and I came across this website, a collection of images on non-western homosexuality.

A few thoughts popped into my head when I found it. First, it is a common lie from the Christian-Fascists that homosexuality is a western evil, introduced to noble savages by our degenerate culture. The images (and other work) suggest that the opposite is true: homophobia is the evil introduced by us into more primitive societies.


Consider for example the picture of the of the oh-so-Christian conquistadors murdering "sodomites". The brave Spanish soldiers are having a bit of a party, murdering evil gays. Look at their insouciant, even joyful attitudes. What fun it all is, to be sure. In Reay Tannahill's Sex in History, she describes how many pre-Columban cultures were tolerant of homosexuality. In one culture from meso-America, a young man was given a male slave to satisfy his hormonal urges on reaching adolescence. The big no-no wasn't gay sex, it was fathering a child with an inappropriate woman, because that created all kinds of obligations for the family. Better to let him get his rocks off with a young man. One wonders whether the scion of the family and his slave ended up fond of each other.

This familial reason for promoting adolescent homosexuality is probably one of the reasons the Greeks tolerated and even encouraged the pattern of a young man being taken in hand by an older to show him how to be a man -- a bisexual man -- something Mary Renault uses to great effect in her novels set in Ancient Greece. After all, the Greeks also exposed babies to control population.

So we have the thoroughly decent and endearing Spanish conquistadors murdering evil sodomites and then we also have a photograph of a indigenous American vase in the shape of two men fucking. You know, I think I'll just pop down to Target and get an anal sex jug. So much for homosexuality being a western import! (Reay Tannahill also says that the priests of the new imposed religion in Spanish America were always asking their parishioners to tell them during confession whether they'd had sex in the "proper vessel" -- the Indians used heterosexual anal sex as a birth-control device)


The next thought that struck me was one I've often mentioned: that in a world where it doesn't matter whether you have sex with your own or the "opposite" gender, bisexuality would be normal and widespread. Have a look at the charming picture of the Threesome in India, the glorious peacock eyes of all three participants, the one man up the other who is in turn fucking the woman. I love the way they have taken off all their clothes except their headdress. I love also the sublime looks on all their faces. Glorious.








The final thought was that perhaps May-September relationships are historically all too common. Look at the utterly charming painting of the Sheik and his boy enjoying a party in the garden. Maybe I should have chosen this image to illustrate my May-September piece.

Final point: it seems to me that the more you look, the more you dig, the more you find that gay and bisexual is universal, throughout all cultures and all times. And that when Judeo-Christianity is absent, mostly it's tolerated and in some cases even welcomed.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Dieux du Stade

It's French, mes amis. And it means 'Gods of the Stadium'. And they are. Young French rugby players, who seem to be leaner and more beautiful than their British, New Zealand, Ozzie or South African counterparts.

The new Dieux du Stade calendar, magnificently photographed by Tony Duran, is out. Just a few photos to whet your appetite and possibly wet your..... ahem.

One thing which intrigues me: the beaut blokes in these photos must know they're going to be perved at by all us homos. OK, there is prolly a huge female audience too, but the women I know don't much care for muscly guys, even as tastefully muscular as these guys. Does it bother them? One suspects not: ppl I know from Europe say that though they don't make a fuss about it, many, many youngsters these days don't much care whether their partner is male or female. The world is moving on from the either/or culture of 30 years ago. A sporty friend (American football and soccer) reckons that sportsmen (young ones) are comfy with touching other men and being close to them. Maybe. Jason Akermanis doesn't think so, as I've mentioned before. But then he's a nincompoop.

















There are other calendars of beaut sportsmen. But these are to my mind the best. And just imagine how sexy their accents are!

I'm off to take a cold shower.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Still More on J C Leyendecker

I've mentioned Elisa Rolle's blog before. It's an excellent place to see all about new gay-shaded books, authors, artists and films. I hope one day she'll be able to review one of my books (so far I've only had short stories in anthologies)

She's also done a post on J C Leyendecker  [new link as Elisa has moved to Dreamwidth from LiveJournal], and borrowed some of my pictures to do it. So I thought I'd borrow some back, while pointing you to her blog post on Leyendecker and also to her blog which coincidentally has just done a review on Black Wade, which is a book I've been contemplating buying. The art of Black Wade and Leyendecker is very different, is it not?








Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Halfway Home

Yeah, I'm talking about Paul Monette's sumptuous masterpiece, written just before he died from AIDS.

I've just finished reading Rough Music, by Patrick Gale, another masterly composition, filled with the soft melancholy of life, and I thought to myself, fuck, why do I bother keeping on writing when I know for a fact that others do it so consummately, so polished, so effing well, and I produce this prose as constipated as a municipal flowerbed outside the municipal shithouse, all salvias and lavenders and overdone roses, with all the originality and talent of a Country Women's Association cake sale? Why?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Because I Loved You Better

Another poem from A.E. Housman. It's about Moses Jackson, Housman's best friend, who was unable to return his love, and in the end treated him very cruelly. Today we remember Jackson only because he was loved by a genius. Jackson emigrated to Canada and died 15 years before Housman.


Because I liked you better
Than suits a man to say,
It irked you, and I promised
To throw the thought away.

To put the world between us
We parted, stiff and dry;
`Good-bye,' said you, `forget me.'
`I will, no fear', said I.

If here, where clover whitens
The dead man's knoll, you pass,
And no tall flower to meet you
Starts in the trefoiled grass,

Halt by the headstone naming
The heart no longer stirred,
And say the lad that loved you
Was one that kept his word.



Friday, 6 August 2010

The colour of his hair

A very bitter and angry poem about..... being different, by the gay poet A.E. Housman.



Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
Oh they're taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

'Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;
In the good old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is;
Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair
For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.

Oh a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid
To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;
But they've pulled the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare,
And they're haling him to justice for the colour of his hair.

Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet
And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,
And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare
He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.


The wonder is that there are still grindingly stupid idiots who do not see the moral of this poem.

We are born with the psychosexual equivalent of red-hair. Get over it, you wowsers, you judgers, you haters. Get over it, and follow the Jesus that you pretend to love.

Guilt, self-hatred and deceit.

Guilt, self-hatred and deceit: a deadly and toxic brew.

From the Blog Bi Like Me:

I had this feeling a while ago, and maybe you've had the same one. I obviously haven't been truthful and forthright to my wife and family about my bisexuality. But am I being punished? I may seem happy, I may act great. You may say, he's handsome, he's got a wonderful family and wife. You see me from the outside..but you don't know my insides are a bubbling cauldron of deceit, lies, and evilness. That's the way I feel sometimes. Sometimes I feel that god is punishing me for my actions. 

and: 

I could refrain from having sexual liaisons outside my marriage: I've tried..and unless I get castrated, not gonna happen. 'Nuff said? As a result of my choice to remain secretive, I am in a constant personality upheaval. Some days, I'm great. Relatively calm, pretty content. Other days, I'm downright nasty, unhappy and resentful. Unfortunately, I take it out on some of the people closest to me
and:
I'm constantly feeling the pull between my family and my desire to be with another man. There is always a conflict within me. The emotional roller coaster is terrible. A long time ago, after I first got married and had my experiments with other men I would be wrought with guilt. I'd swear off not only being with another man, but also everything associated with the action..like looking on the internet, chatting in chat rooms, etc. It doesn't work. The pull and attraction is obviously too great. I am clearly not the person people see me as. Those who know me would be shocked if they knew of my real life - my true feelings. In college, I was quite the lady's man My friends, family and co-workers see me as a stable, smart, honest, hardworking, loyal and loving father. ....don't assume that my sexual encounters are taken lightly. They are not. It is a cross I must bear, and if I wasn't worried about the affect on my kids lives, clearly there would be an easier way out of the constant internal struggle that I go through. I don't go there or do something because of my loyalty to them, and in spite of my unhappiness, I plod on..every day

It seems to me that we are born the way we are. We are born with (or they inexorably and inevitably develop within us) feelings towards men, feelings of love and desire. We try hard to be moral and decent, not just by the standards of society, but by our own perhaps more demanding standards. And we fail, too often. And then we endure guilt and self-hatred, and our lives are poisoned as a result. How much simpler it would be if the world quietly accepted that feeling love or desire for another man is not wrong or evil, but part of the natural continuum of human interaction, that in fact m2m love might even be noble and uplifting, and that in any case, we are what we are. A friend once said that asking someone to be straight if they are gay-shaded is like asking them to be two inches taller. We can't do it. And by trying to contort ourselves into the strict (& strait) paradigms demanded by the Christian-Fascists, we damage ourselves and those round us.

I am not unfaithful to my wife, because I love her and don't want to hurt her. But there is an aching void in me where I lack men: not for sex, but for love.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Christian

In a conversation in one of my groups about Anne Rice's renunciation of Catholicism because it is, inter alia, very hostile to gays (her son is gay), someone said something startling and thought-provoking:

I have been thinking there should be another term, say "Followers of Christ", for those of us who believe yet don't hate. I am wary of claiming to be Christian and am definitely turned away by any advert for something which uses "Christian" in its description.

I feel that too. I know many Christians who are a credit to their faith: kind, compassionate, likable, honest and decent, who live their lives as Christians without grand-standing, pretence or hypocrisy. Including, as it happens, Anne Rice, whose record of personal generosity and Christian love shows her to be a real Christian. Then there are those filled with hate. They always talk about hating the sin not the sinner, but that's a joke. Mostly, these days their hate is concentrated on gays and gay rights. I call the Christians who would impose their beliefs on everybody the Christian-Fascists. There is nothing appealing or attractive about these people. Thin-lipped, judgmental, filled with hate and spite, they lack humanity and forgiveness.

The irony is that Jesus never mentions homosexuality. Not once. He talks a lot about hypocrisy (which he condemns), and he says, emphatically, that we should love one another, and that this is the most important commandment. In fact, when a Roman came to Jesus asking that his slave-lover be healed, Jesus did it. Without fuss.

Of course there are those poisonous passages in Leviticus. But the Christian-Fascists pick and choose which verses they accept and which they don't. They wear polyester-cotton shirts and lycra-cotton undies despite mixed fibres being forbidden, and they oppose slavery even though Leviticus says it's ok. Divorce is also an abomination. We going to ban divorce? Burn divorcees at the stake? Pshah! St Paul said some stuff about gayness, but firstly, that's open to interpretation, and secondly are we talking about Christianity or Paulism?

The constant Christian-Fascist refrain that God hates gays is like a boil in the body-politic. Its pus leaches into our society making hate crimes acceptable. And tell me, did even one Christian minister condemn the attack on Matthew Shepard? Didn't hear of any. Did you?

The churches once supported slavery and the absence of women's rights. Today they are embarrassed about this. One day they will be as embarrassed about their hatred of gays. And they will acknowledge that God made us too. He made us with our sexuality as it is. And that God is much more hurt by lying and hypocrisy and hate than He is by us loving the "wrong" gender.
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