Friday, October 27, 2006

They Hate Us, They Love Us. This is All Very Confusing

My recent posts have dealt with strides we have made by coming out of the closet, as well as clout we have earned as role models. But yet we get bashed and raped. Here's the details.

FBI reports, though anti-gay crime accounts for 14.2 percent of reported incidents.

Hate crimes in the United States dropped last year by 6 percent, the FBI reported, though hate crimes based on sexual orientation accounted for 14.2 percent of reported incidents.

More than half of all hate crimes were triggered by victims' race, with religion coming in a distant second, the FBI reported Monday, but Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, noted that changes in federal law sought by gay activists would more accurately reflect the extent of anti-LGBT violence.

"Sexual orientation remains the third-highest recorded bias crime in our country, which underscores that anti-gay hate crimes are a very real problem nationwide," Solmonese said Tuesday in a written statement.

The highest percentage of anti-gay attacks in the 16 years the FBI has tracked them was in 2002, when 16.7 percent of the nation's hate crimes targeted people based on their perceived orientation.

Victim-advocate groups, such as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, contend that the number of attacks against gays is much higher.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed in September 2005 by the House but becalmed in the Senate, would update federal hate crimes statutes to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

"The numbers of anti-gay hate crimes also indicate the need for state and local governments to do more to prevent and investigate hate crimes. Bias-motivated crimes require a comprehensive response at every level of government," Solmonese said.

The vast majority of hate crimes in both 2004 and 2005were motivated by race, according to the reports, which detailed the data based on so-called "single-bias" incidents. That means the crime was motivated by only one kind of bias against the victim, according to the FBI.

Victims were assaulted in more than half -- 50.7 percent -- of the hate crime cases against people. Six people were murdered and another three were raped in reported hate crimes last year. The rest of the victims -- 48.9 percent -- were intimidated, the report shows.

The FBI also looked at hate crime incidents that targeted property, with 81.3 percent of cases resulting in damage, destruction or vandalism. Sixty percent of the known offenders in 2005 were white, and 20 percent were black, the report showed.

The data was collected from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies across the United States.

The last crime, intimidation, affects us as a whole, the most. I have faced it, and I have dealt with it. When faced with it personally, I get mad and defiant. Have any of you faced public intimidation for being gay in your daily lives? It can be unsettling, but as long as it is verbal, it can be dealt with.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Swinging the Closet Door Wide Open

C alifornia researcher Gary Gates has been hearing things lately:
Lots of closet doors opening like never before -- and in places where most gay folks five years ago were too wary of government census takers to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship.
"The closet door is really opening. That's especially true in the Midwest," says Gates, author of a fascinating study based on the newly released 2005 American Community Survey -- a sort of mini-Census -- and the National Survey of Family Growth, both conducted by the federal government.
Overall, the number of same-sex couples identifying themselves to the government soared 30 percent in five short years -- to 776,943. To put that in perspective, the U.S. population grew 6 percent in that period.
The biggest jumps in self-reporting by gay couples were largely in America's heartland: Take for example, Wisconsin, which surged 81 percent in the number of same-sex couples living together; Ohio 62 percent; and Michigan 48 percent.
While more gay folks may be settling down into committed relationships, the biggest factor driving the increases, Gates bets, is that more gay couples are comfortably out.
And the survey results suggest that anti-gay marriage drives are having a wonderful unintended consequence: They're emboldening more of us to stand up and be counted. Six of the eight states with an anti-gay marriage initiative on this year's ballot -- Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin -- saw rate jumps higher than the 30 percent national average.
"Do some people get afraid and go back into the closet? Sure," says Gates of the Williams Institute. "But that is offset substantially by people who get angry and say, 'Hey, you are talking about me!'"
Because the Family Growth survey found that 4.1 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, Gates estimates that those of us who're gay Americans now number 8.8 million. (To find out more about a place's gay population, read Gates' study by Googling the Williams Institute.)
Meanwhile, a new New York Times poll underscores that as more gay people feel comfortable enough to come out, society grows more accepting -- and vice versa.
The Times asked whether "being homosexual is something people choose to be, or … something they cannot change?"
For the first time in the 13 years the Times has asked, the "cannot change" view rose above 50 percent: By 53-34 percent, Americans say being gay can't be changed, compared with 43-44 percent in 1993.
The Times also asked whether "you think homosexual relations between adults are morally wrong … OK … or don't you care much either way?" Those saying "morally wrong" is down to 37 percent from 55 percent in 1993. The combined "OK" and "don't care" has leaped to 61 percent from 42 percent 13 years ago.
Our nation is progressing toward a healthy understanding that being gay is like lefthandedness--not a choice, not wrong, just a reality for millions.
And Gates is working to see whether being in a coupled relationship is as positive for gays and as for married heterosexuals in terms of such things as lower rates of depression: "Preliminarily, we are finding that gay people get similar positive benefits."

So all of this just proves that if a closeted politician really wants to come out and proud, that he/she can do so. The more of us who are out, the more easily it is for us to win our hard fought rights to marry and live equally. Now, wouldn't that be a great day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Playing the Gay Card and Being Dealt a Bad Hand

I haven't quoted a favorite magazine of mine, "Details" in a long time.

The current issue contains two gay themed articles.

The first one, while I never thought about it, talks about gay guys who get themselves into a corner, verbally more than anything else, and con the straight person into not thinking harshly of them, because they are gay. They are asking for sympathy, because they are gay. That is definitely a new one on me.

The second article is more compeling. Written by that "running with scissors" dude, Augusten Burroughs, he focuses on all the shit we as gay men take on the airwaves and in the media.

The new Martin Scorsese flick, The Departed, loves making references to fags and queers. So what else is new, in a macho movie. We get verbally assaulted each day by those who manipulate the airwaves. Now with the Foley shit, we are again referred to as depraved, immoral, dangerous, and as a whole, a threat both to children and to the sanctity of marriage.

But when something bad happens in the gay community, such as gay bashing, it seems that the media doesn't really care. They never seem to report the inequity of the current system. They feel, so what if the system prevents us from seeing our loved ones in hospitals; big deal for those who have adopted children live in fear that someone might take them away. Augusten makes a very valid point, ". . . if gay people were fully accepted and respected, then their (our) torture and murder would matter a great deal to people in the United States".

If we are liked at all, it's because some of us can tell great jokes and are witty. But face it, if we are perceived as "queeny" or shishy, we find ourselves not taken very seriously by straight society. So for the most part, we just have to take it, shut up, and go along with our lives.

I guess this is the state of gay life these days, a sobering reality. We shall see the fallout of the Foley scandals. If nothing else, a change in party politics might be of some long term benefit to our cause. Throwing out some of radical right wing politicians such as Santorum, might be to our advantage in the future. Let's hope that some small change results, and the hatred spewing jerks that run Washington might be replaced by a kinder, gentler politician.

I know we live in the here and now, but how about the prospect of a Gay Jewish President in the future? While I have not read, David Levithan's Wide Awake, it begins in the near future with the election of Abraham Stein, the first gay Jewish president. This is a surprising follow-up for an author whose debut, Boy Meets Boy, was heralded by Booklist as a "revolution in the publishing of gay-themed books for adolescents." That novel imagined a high school romance remarkably free of coming-out angst, and was selected by the American Library Association as one of 2004's Best Books for Young Adults.

Nextbook, a super site, recently interviewed David Levithan, and I have taken some of that review and posted it here.

"Wide Awake centers on another high school relationship, this one between Duncan and Jimmy, who've progressed well beyond their first kiss. It's also a novel about growing pains: teenagers struggling to refine, and stand by, their beliefs—personal, sexual, spiritual, and political—and a country trying to do the same. A few chapters in, Stein's supporters are still celebrating when opponents call the electoral results into question—a turn of events which creates doubts about Duncan and Jimmy's relationship, too. Soon they're both headed to Kansas, with a bus full of protesters, among them Elwood, a 12-year-old whose Christian parents won't let him have a bar mitzvah; Janna and Mandy, a pair of progressive "Jesus Freaks;" and a few adults old enough to remember that "the good old days needed a lot of improvement."

So maybe David is on to something. It sure would be nice to see a future President's husband giving his spouse in public big hairy muscle hugs of support and congratulations. Now that would be an ideal world. Definitely worth thinking about.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Really Weird, The "Not So" Weird, and "The Winner Is , . ."

It has been quite a zainy week. To take the edge off of everything, here are some stories that might amuse you.


Our buddy, Dan Savage, answers a gay reader who is facing something I don't think we as gay men usually encounter.

Q. My background: I'm a gay man; I recently came out to my friends, mostly because I met someone with whom I wanted to pursue a relationship.

Eight months later, despite a few indiscretions on both our parts, I'm happy as can be. But I don't think we're in the same place emotionally. I need him well, actually I neeeeed him and he "needs his space."

Here's where the story gets on your nerves . . .

His prior "indiscretion" was with a German shepherd. I have no problems with his zoophilia per se, except that we have an almost nonexistent sex life. I wouldn't mind this aside from a few issues. First, he still masturbates. Second, he lied about it. Third, the very few times we have engaged in sex, he only receives, and it upsets me when he tries to maneuver us into a doggy-style position.

He is in therapy and it seems to be helping, but the more therapy he goes to, the less time he seems to want to spend with me. I love him and can't bear to think of us parting. I want to have sex with him, but I want to respect his boundaries. But how do I know when I've given him enough space, and how do I get him to want to spend more time with me? Am I right for giving him space? Or should I be more forceful in my pursuit? Not a German Shepherd

PS: Is his zoophilia relevant? I don't think it is, because I love him despite his attraction to canines. And I'm 24, while he is somewhere between 26 and 29. I don't really care about his age. The first time we exchanged ages he said 26, but his driver's license has a 1976 DOB on it.

A. Let's quickly review your case: The man you've fallen in love with likes to fuck dogs (or be fucked by dogs); doesn't much like being fucked by you (except in the doggy position); "needs his space" (in order to fuck dogs, no doubt); and lies to you about his masturbatory routine, age, and God only knows what else. The one thing he hasn't lied to you about is the dog fucking that little detail he's only too willing to share.

So yeah, NAGS, I'd say there's a problem here but you're the problem, not him.

Look, NAGS, I feel for you; I've been there. Well, not there I've never been with a dog fucker, I'm happy to report. But I have allowed myself to fall hopelessly in love with guys who were completely fucked-up. And here's what I learned: Sometimes we fall in love with people who, for whatever reason, simply aren't healthy enough to love us back. When you realize that you're falling in love with a hopeless mess, NAGS, you don't hang in there, hoping that your love will cure him. It won't. Love is great, love is grand, but love ain't chemotherapy it's not going to magically turn some sick fucker into a healthy fucker.

For the sake of your own self-esteem, dump the dog fucker before he dumps you. Trust me, NAGS, you don't want to look in the mirror every morning and think to yourself, "There's the guy who wasn't good enough for a dog fucker."

I think Dan's answer was right on target. But why did he let the relationship last this long? No guy can be that needy.
* * *
The next post, The Not So Weird, comes from downunder. The Aussies just love their Priscilla, and now, a musical begets the movie. It's refreshing to read that gay roles are being filled by gay men.

N HIS SHOES by John Burfitt

Priscilla star Daniel Scott


In 1994, Guy Pearce slipped into a frock and pair of high heels for the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and in doing so, changed his career forever.

By doing the same thing for the same role in the new stage version, it looks likely that Daniel Scott is about to see his career change in very similar ways.

Having spent the past few years playing cameo and chorus roles on stage, slipping into the dual personas of bitchy scene queen Adam and his drag alter-ego Felicia Jolly-Goodfellow in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has propelled Scott into leading man status – even if he is wearing high heels for most of the time.

Not that Scott seems to have any complaints. He has recently starred as Neil Tennant in Dusty – the Original Pop Diva and as Johnny O’Keefe in a revival of Shout!, but now he is sitting in his dressing room at the Lyric Theatre, chatting with the Star while waiting for a pair of pencil-heeled stiletto heels to arrive.

Scott admits, a little anxiously, that once the new pumps arrive, he has only a matter of days to master how to dance in them before the show makes its world premiere on Saturday.

But it seems the 29-year-old actor has a good eye and picked up tips from his years on Sydney’s gay scene as both a barman and a former party boy.

“It is quite ironic that of all the people who should get to play Felicia, it is me,” he says. “I have known a number of drag queens for years and they have helped me and inspired me along the way, but I always said drag has never really been my thing.

“I did drag a couple of times before, once for a charity event and for someone’s birthday, but that really was it. But I have always watched to see how they do it.

“When we started work on Priscilla, someone came in to show the cast how to walk in heels. I surprised myself as I found it really quite easy – it is all a matter of good balance.”

As Adam-Felicia in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Scott plays the fiery, bitchy one of the trio of gender benders crossing the country as they head to a gig in Alice Springs.

Scott sashays across the stage in a number of fancy frocks, fires out a succession of bitchy one-liners, and makes the best entrance in the show for his Mardi Gras-style production number of the Bananarama dance classic, Venus.

But Sydney-born Scott insists that his character is more than just high heels and stinging put-downs.

“I have taken little bits of all the Adams I have known from the past 15 years of my own life,” Scott says.

Being a gay man myself, I remember coming out and going on my journey. All the people I have met who are like Adam are incredibly insecure, not sure who they are and trying to figure everything out.

“Adam is still figuring out his identity and persona, and we show him on that journey until he gets to a point of realisation and then he does make a change. He is very much at a point where he is saying, ‘You must accept me like this’.

“I think it is interesting that I don’t tuck at all in the show - it is all done with codpieces and skirts. And that is Adam – he is very much, ‘I am a boy in a wig and a dress and I am hot’!”

With a knock on his dressing room door, it seems the new high heels have finally arrived.

Before disappearing into the wardrobe department, Scott offers one final insight into his character, “He might do all the showgirl stuff, but you might still be at Manacle at 10 early on a Monday morning! I think we have all been a bit like Adam.”

Daniel should go far. He seems to be very comfortable playing this role. Hope we see more of him in the future, outside of drag.

* * *

Finally, The Winner Is . . . Mr. Gay UK 2006 was recently crowned. The hottie is a real cop. Go figure that.

Police officer crowned Mr. Gay U.K. (That's his winning photo above)

He’s a bobby dazzler! A West Yorkshire policeman has been crowned Mr. Gay U.K. 2006. Mark Carter, 23, was voted Britain’s sexiest gay man at Blackpool’s Flamingo Club.

About 50 of his colleagues were there to cheer him on—in T-shirts bearing his picture—and he had the full backing of West Yorkshire Police in taking part in the contest.

As one of 23 regional finalists, he stripped down to a skimpy swimsuit to reveal his tanned, toned body to celebrity judges including Big Brother’s Lea, Su Pollard, Rowetta, and Anita Dobson. He also appeared in a police-style outfit including a stab-proof vest during a “dress to impress” section.

“I am absolutely 100% over the moon," Carter said. "Two years ago I used to cry myself to sleep at night, I was so daunted by the prospect of coming out, but when I did, it was the best thing ever. I was so happy I could finally be myself.

“I came from a very straight background and upbringing, I played football, I was a sports captain, I had girlfriends," Carter continued. "I thought telling people I was gay would mean no one would want to know me, but at the Mr. Gay U.K. final I had more people together, supporting me, in one place, than I’ve ever had in my life.”

Carter’s colleague Maureen Hales, one of the party who came along in matching T-shirts bearing his photograph, said, “Mark is great. I knew he’d win, he’s so down-to-earth. He’s lovely.”

Carter, who lives in Bradford, won £5,000 in prizes and will embark on a year of personal appearances and photo shoots. He was representing Birmingham in the contest after winning the city’s regional heat at the Nightingale club on a night out.

Carter came out to his colleagues a couple of months after he joined the police force and says he’s had support from the people he works with. Mr. Gay U.K. is chosen via text votes and on-the-night voting, on the basis of looks, personality, and "x-factor."

“Mark is a great example of a young gay man achieving his goals in life," said competition organizer Terry George, adding, "If anyone assumed it was just bimbos that entered competitions like this, Mark’s proving them wrong.” (

So a really nice guy can win it all. Congratulations Mark.