Friday, April 27, 2007

Gay Yesterday, Gay Today, Gay Tomorrow. What Deep Roots We Have.

Ancient text shows 'gay activist'

Dr Hal Gladfelder discovered the document by chanceThe battle for gay rights may have been fought more than two centuries before the UK legalization of homosexuality.

The 18th Century writings of Thomas Cannon, believed to be one of the first gay activists, have been found by a University of Manchester academic.

They were contained in a handwritten scroll indicting the printer of his 1749 work "Ancient And Modern Pederasty Investigated And Exemplified".

The book was banned but the scroll has long, previously unheard, extracts.

Dr Hal Gladfelder found the parchment among a box of uncatalogued documents from 1750 while doing research at the National Archives in Kew.

The indictment suggests the book was an anthology of stories and philosophical texts in defence of male homosexuality. I think what happened to Cannon paved the way for 200 years of homophobic repression , said Dr Gladfelder.

One story deals with cross-dressing while others are translations of Greek and Latin homo-erotic texts. One of the extracts reads: "Unnatural desire is a contradiction in terms; downright nonsense.
"Desire is an amatory impulse of the inmost human parts."

Dr Gladfelder, from the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, said: "This must be the first substantial treatment of homosexuality ever in English.

"The only other discussions of homosexuality were contained in violently moralistic and homophobic attacks or in trial reports for the crime of sodomy up to and beyond 1750."

Sodomy in England was a capital offence punishable by death until 1861 and homosexuality was banned until 1967.

Dr Gladfelder said Cannon fled to Europe to avoid punishment and no copies of the book itself survive.

"It's a fair assumption that Cannon was writing for a gay subculture at the time - which has largely remained hidden," he added. "Though he lived in anonymity - possibly because of the notoriety of his pamphlet - I certainly regard him as a martyr.

"I think what happened to Cannon paved the way for 200 years of homophobic repression," he added.

So our first gay scholar and activist was Thomas Cannon. You learn something everyday.

That just goes to show that while our battles for acceptance and equality seem to be recent, the war has gone on for a very long time.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Very Sad Week

We are mourning the senseless killing of gay brothers and sisters shot down in Blacksburg this week.

Gays among victims of Virginia Tech slayings‘It’s not a gay thing, it’s an everybody thing’By LOU CHIBBARO JR. Apr 19, 1:44 PM

Members of the gay student group at Virginia Tech joined other students in sharing their grief over the shooting rampage Monday that claimed the lives of 33 students, faculty and staff members and were struggling over the discovery that gay people were among the fallen, the leader of the group said Wednesday.

“Thirty-three people were killed,” said Curtis Dahn, president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Alliance of Virginia Tech. “Some were queer, and others were straight allies. The GLBT community at Tech grieves in the same way as others — deeply and as part of a greater whole.”

Dahn declined to disclose the number of gay or lesbian students killed or wounded in the incident, nor would he identify them, saying he and the gay alliance group wanted to wait until they were certain all families were notified about the loss of their loved ones.

“Yes, there were gay people that were killed,” he said. “One was a very close friend of mine. But I don’t feel comfortable talking about it because I haven’t talked to the families and I want to be respectful to the families, first and foremost."

Dahn also said he doesn't "want this to be a gay thing, because it’s not a gay thing,” he said. “It’s an everybody thing.”

Dahn said that like all others at the college, members of the gay alliance were grappling with the realization that a Virginia Tech student, 23-year-old English major Cho Seung Hui, unleashed the nation’s deadliest shooting rampage on their campus.

Authorities said Cho was a South Korean native known as a loner who had been suffering from depression. He took his own life in a classroom in one of the school’s crowded engineering buildings as police closed in on him, authorities said. Minutes earlier, he fired two pistols at students, professors and staff members in the building’s halls and in other classrooms, leaving behind a scene of indescribable carnage, according to details released by police and campus security officials.

The shootings in the classroom building took place about two hours after Cho reportedly killed two other students, a male and female, in a student dormitory.

Dahn confirmed reports that at least one of the members of the gay alliance, undergraduate student Erin Sheehan, was a survivor of the shootings in the classroom building. Sheenhan described her harrowing experience in witnessing fellow students being struck by bullets in network television interviews. She could not be reached for this story.

“She was inside one of the classrooms and she survived only by playing dead,” Dahn said. “I can’t even begin to describe it.”

Dahn said the incident prompted his group to postpone campus activities associated with Wednesday's National Day of Silence. The annual event is sponsored by the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to draw attention to anti-gay and anti-transgender bullying, harassment and name-calling at the nation’s high schools and colleges.
“It’s the last thing on our minds right now,” he said.

Instead, the gay alliance is devoting all its time and resources to help the school and its students deal with the aftermath of the shooting incident, Dahn said.

“This is a painful time for all of us, and we really appreciate the huge influx of support from everyone,” he said. “We are coming together as Hokies and as human beings,” he said, referring to the term used to rally school spirit for its sports teams and student body.

“We are sharing in our grief, regardless of minority status or previous social groups. Tragedy has broken down barriers,” he said. “We mourn.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights group, issued a statement Tuesday saying the group was joining the nation in mourning the loss of life at Virginia Tech brought about by the shooting rampage.

“Our prayers are with the students, faculty, families and the entire school community as the fact of this terrible tragedy unfold and as the enormity of the unprecedented loss sets in,” Solmonese said.
“America is a strong country with great resolve and it’s that resolve that will bring this country together in supporting the victims and their families and friends in the days ahead.”

Friday, April 13, 2007

We Still Have a Lot of Growing Up To Do

The following is an excerpt from a review of the movie, Boy Culture.

"Boys may be boys, but sharing a life with a boy is no easy feat. A man is what’s required, and Q. Allan Brocka’s film “Boy Culture” exposes the necessity for adulthood among gay men who value youth (and even immaturity) above all things."

"Framed by a sometimes-witty sometimes-intrusive voice over, the film tells the story of X (Derek Magyar), a high-end hustler, and his two roommates: the newly out Andrew (“Noah’s Arc’s” Darryl Stephens) and the professionally out Joey (Jonathon Trent). X is in love with Andrew, Andrew might be in love with X, and Joey is definitely in love and lust with X. Convoluted? Slightly. Implausible? Hardly."

"X and Andrew do end up trying to forge a relationship that’s based on love, but the pair has a lot of baggage to unpack first. Andrew still wants to explore other men in an open relationship, but finds X’s hustling repugnant. X, who believes that hustling is just a job, thinks that sleeping around for free is the morally reprehensible act. "

"The really interesting part of the mix comes in the form of Gregory (Patrick Bauchau), X’s newest client. The 79-year-old hasn’t left his apartment since his lover of 50 years died — eight years ago. While the odd couple doesn’t have sex until far into the film (and what a refreshing sex scene!), Gregory does guide X into a greater understanding of loving relationships because of his own rich past."

“BOY CULTURE” IS one of the better gay films to come along in recent memory. The snappy writing, courtesy of Brocka and Philip Pierce with inspiration from the novel written by Matthew Rettenmund, creates a witty and frequently stinging commentary on the characters and gay culture.

Love might be born in a look or a dinner date, but relationships require maturity, and in “Boy Culture,” each character needs to grow up, even the 79-year-old. It’s been a long-held theory that coming out starts a whole new period of emotional and sexual adolescence for the individual. Perhaps this is part of the reason why gay men have difficulty acting like adults in their relationships with friends and lovers.

"While Joey might be the most obviously “young” character (his emotions vacillate wildly and he’s willing to burn all his bridges), the chronologically older characters act in similar ways, just with less flair. Each character is trying to come to terms with the rigors of gay adulthood, without any role models in sight. If they could watch their own stories, they just might find the guideposts they need."

Sounds like the coming of age gay male flick that hasn't been made in about 20 years. Gay adulthood takes balls to live through. What gay men seem to always fall back on is that little boy inside us. That's a big mistake. We need to "man-up" and take responsibility for our actions, whatever the consequences.

Roseanne Barr made a remark this past week that has gotten herself into a lot of trouble, but not Imus type trouble. Her remark about gay activists always talking about "it", the gay struggle, and the perception that they are one dimensional since they always talk about the "we", can appear selfish to straights who support us. We got to be more than one issue gay guys. Yes, we want equality and yes we deserve it. But sometimes we come off as "in your face", instead of persuasive and "equal opportunity" caring guys.

Rosie O'Donnell is accused as coming across as a loud-mouth lesbian. She brings up gay rights every weekday into the homes of millions of gay and straight viewers, on her bully TV pulpit, "the View". But when Roseanne was a guest recently on 'the View", the ladies shared the view that the working middle class in this society today is getting the short end of the stick. This is not just a straight issue but a gay issue. It's an economic issue. We are working harder and enjoying it less.

These ladies are both rich, but they can see how the rest of us, gay or straight, are getting screwed. Everyone wants what everyone else who has it better, got, and no one seems to care about the other guy's struggles and hardships. It's a "me too and the hell with you" mindset that never gets to the collective issue. First we got to end this bloody war, then with a bit of persuasion, maybe the majority in this country can be convinced that it's ok for same sex couples to get married and get an economic benefit in terms of a tax break, the same that married straights currently enjoy. But this right is never going to be given to us on a silver platter.

We have to be adult men and earn the legal rights to anything straight society takes for granted. So what, if straight married couples screw it up by getting divorced. We have to prove to straight society and to ourselves, that we are better than them because we are compassionate, civil, smarter, and more creative in adversity than they will ever be.

So let's pull ourselves up by the jockstrap, put on those boots, millions of pecs strong, and stand up for our equality. Not by getting in society's face, but by collective action. Talk is cheap, standing around and criticizing is ineffective. It takes action. Straight society needs to see us as more than guys who can coordinate paint colors or drive the latest sports car. Let's get down and dirty. I'm all for playing in the mud. WOOF.