Month: June 2015

Ask E. L. James Hashtag; Domestic Partnership Benefits; Ginormous Penis Scares People

Ask E. L. James Hashtag

On Monday there was a question and answer on Twitter with the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James. Some are claiming it was an event gone wrong and they’re blaming her PR people. Others seem to think it’s the most brilliant idea any PR people have ever had. After all, she is promoting a new book right now.

In any event, it seems that everyone who has been holding back what they think of Fifty Shades of Grey let it all come out, in public, on Twitter. The results ranged between social commentary about women to Twilight fanfic…and if there is anyone left on the planet that didn’t know Fifty Shades originated as Twilight fanfic, I think it’s safe to say that’s over now. It was interesting for me because I found FSoG long before it went mainstream. I also know people who either love the book or despise it.

LONDON — Twitter Q&A sessions are a notoriously risky business, particularly if you’re the author of a a set of books as widely known (and widely parodied) as the Fifty Shades series.

I followed it on and off all day and was surprised to see readers mention negative things about the book I hadn’t realized before. For example, rape culture.

You can read more here, with examples of tweets.

Last Thursday I went to dinner at a friend’s house and the new E. L. James novel came up in conversation. There seems to be a division right down the middle. Those who know books and publishing think of James as the antichrist and those who don’t know much about publishing are willing to die for her and for Fifty Shades of Grey.

Some of you might not like my opinion, but whether you like the book or not I think any book that can spark that kind of controversy did something right for a change. After all, millions of people bought the book and paid top retail dollar, and even more showed up to the movie.

And, here’s a link to a NYT book review. 

Domestic Partnership Benefits

Interestingly, with the recent SCOTUS ruling on same sex marriage comes a new batch of issues. This time it’s domestic partnership benefits.

A number of large employers have been moving away from domestic partnership benefits. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, Verizon, IBM and Delta Airlines, among others, had already stopped offering domestic partnership benefits in states that had marriage equality. Their ultimatum to employees: if you want benefits for your partner, marry him or her.

“With no legal barriers to same-sex marriage, it is likely some employers will eliminate their benefits for unmarried same-sex partners,” Todd Solomon, who has written a book on domestic partner benefits, told The New York Times. 

You can read the rest here. 

It sounds fair, but there are a few gray areas.

Ginormous Penis Scares People

There’s an STD epidemic in Norway and they’ve taken some serious steps in trying to control it…with a great big penis. 

To combat this ignominious distinction, Norwegian sex-ed organization RFSU produced a PSA featuring a human-sized penis running up to unsuspecting strangers then ejaculating gold glitter on them.

You can check the “ginormous” penis out here. 

Kind of reminds me of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, with  a penis shape and two perfectly round dinner rolls at the bottom.

 
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You Can Get Married…RIGHT NOW; Turkish Police Use Tear Gas At Gay Pride; Mike Huckabee, Again; Gay Pride In Korea Faces Hate

You Can Get Married….RIGHT NOW

One of the TV shows I watch for pure entertainment is Judge Judy, and I don’t watch much TV. I usually find her common sense approach refreshing and it’s amusing to see how many absolutely clueless people are out there in the world.

I also pay attention to the cases and how most people never think about the future. This is especially true with couples who buy property together, sign leases together, buy furniture together, and “play house” together without actually getting legally married. It never fails. A couple…gay or straight…will start out with good intentions and wind up two years later in court suing each other and Judge Judy will tell them without being legally married there’s not much she can do and she’s not going to waste her time dividing up their dishes, pots and pans.

With that said, I’ve seen a lot of gay couples celebrating the SCOTUS ruling last week, and rightly so. It was a huge historic event, and it should be celebrated. Yes, “love wins” and we can all do a happy dance and have a happy cry for getting something…equal rights…we should have had all along in the first place. However, I’ve also seen couples who’ve been together for many, many years talk about planning their weddings in the future…like months from now. And frankly, I have to wonder why they aren’t running out to get legally married as soon as they can to protect themselves legally…just in case. We’ve waited YEARS for this…lifetimes.

If you are a gay couple and you’ve been together for a number of years, and you own property together, share bank accounts, investments, cars, and all those other things responsible grown up people do in life you might want to think about getting married as soon as you can and plan for a wedding celebration in the future. Make it legal now, celebrate later. Because unless you have worked things out legally in a creative way that protects you or your spouse from paying inheritance taxes and dealing with relatives looking for what they can get, you might be playing Russian Roulette with everything you’ve worked so hard to build over the years.

I don’t think I’m being too dramatic in this case. I’ve seen it happen too many times to older gay couples…and even younger gay couples. One suddenly passes away, unexpectedly, and the other is left in a financial nightmare from which he or she may never recover.

Unless you’re living in a state where they are trying to fight the SCOTUS ruling, you don’t have to be one of those people anymore.   
 
Turkish Police Use Tear Gas At Gay Pride

I think it’s important to focus on lgbt issues globally, too, especially in Muslim countries. Here’s what happened at a gay pride event in Turkey. It’s been creating outrage all over the world.

Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas to clear a gay pride rally from Istanbul’s central square Sunday. 

Between 100 and 200 marchers were chased away from Taksim Square after a police vehicle fired several jets of water to disperse the crowd.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the police intervened to push the peaceful if noisy rally away from the area. 

This year, however, the timing of the parade coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, something that could cause conservative Muslims to bristle.

The rest is here.  

Mike Huckabee, Again

I remember when I was a kid, even though my concept of politics was limited, we had politicians on both sides who at least seemed to conduct themselves with dignity. They didn’t come across as sideshows, not even the worst. These comments by Mike Huckabee seem to suggest he’s taken the sensationalized Sarah Palin route and all he’s doing it baiting people and hoping there will be trouble.
 
“I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice,” the a former governor of Arkansas and Baptist minister said on ABC’s “This Week.” “They either are going to follow God, their conscience, and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them or they will follow civil law.” 

There’s a video clip and the whole thing is actually a rant. He compares the President lighting up the White House with Rainbow colors to what it would be like if he put up a nativity scene on the White House lawn at Christmastime.

First, I couldn’t care less what he puts out on the White House lawn. I wasn’t all that thrilled with Obama’s stand on same sex marriage up until now, when it suited Obama politically, and I’m not all that thrilled about the rainbow colors on the White House lawn either. I’m supposed to be celebrating an equal right to marry that I should have had all along. That’s not easy to parse if you have any amount of self-respect.

Second, the main point is that the rainbow colors don’t signify anything religious, the nativity does. And while I have nothing against the nativity, and I even have one in my own home at Christmas, I don’t believe in government getting involved in anything religious.

I’m starting to think Huckabee knows he doesn’t have a chance in hell at winning the White House. Why else would have make such ridiculous comments? You know, or maybe you don’t, these guys make a lot of money making statements like this.

Kool Aide comes in many different varieties.

You can read more here and watch Huckabee on video.    

Gay Pride In Korea Faces Hate

At least the division between equal rights and Christians isn’t just in the US. It’s happening in Korea, too. And it IS a division between equality and the religious rants of those who want to keep other people down. That’s the bottom line. Last I heard no one LGBT is stopping anyone from practicing any religion.

Gay pride faced Christian outrage in central Seoul in a showdown that dramatized the conflict between Korea’s deeply conservative values and the country’s latter-day surge toward democratic equality.

Advocates and foes of gay rights clashed after a gay pride rally on the grassy plaza in front of Seoul City Hall that drew several thousand people — many celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage between gay couples.

As they cheered, sang and danced inside the plaza, thousands of foes of gay marriage shouted slogans and epithets from beyond rows of policemen. The  policemen, pouring from dozens of police buses, probably outnumbered both the gay ralliers and their foes.

You can read the rest here. 

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Celebrate Marriage Equality; Surviving In the Wilderness with a Hot Young Guy; Best Nude Beaches

Celebrate Marriage Equality

This is one of those lighter pieces that gives 10 great ways to celebrate marriage equality. And we should be celebrating…even though there are still some serious issues other LGBT are dealing with. I don’t like to play them down.

But this is a good one:

Put your money where your mouth is:

If the right to marry the person you love (even if you don’t know him or her yet) is something that makes you a proud gay, consider all of our brothers and sisters who are still in the trenches, fighting for equality. Assuming you’ve got a little something to spare, we’re sure Amnesty International’s marriage equality organization would love to hear from you — and your bank account.

You can read more here. It’s not over with yet. The fight still continues.

Surviving In the Wilderness with a Hot Young Guy

Here’s something about how to survive in the wilderness. To be honest, I have trouble finding my keys in the morning and there isn’t a guy good looking enough to make me do this.

We’d like to amend our list of things we’d want to be equipped with if stranded in the wild.
Here’s the old list:

  1. Sunglasses
  2. iPod loaded with enough Queen, David Bowie, Grace Jones and Bjork to last a lifetime
  3. Catered lunches

There’s more here, with photos and a video. Check out the comments about “this guy,” too.

Best Nude Beaches

I’ve been to nude beaches many times and I found something interesting each time I went. For the first fifteen minutes you feel nude, but after that you don’t even realize you are nude. It’s not erotic anymore, and it just feels completely natural.

When we gave you The World’s 10 Best Gay Beaches it became clear you wanted to skip the tan lines and feel the heat. If you’re looking for clothing optional options that include sun, sand and surf get thee to a nude beach!

You can check them out here. Of course the photos are all good looking young guys. It’s been my experience that you won’t usually find them nude there as often as you will those guys who follow a very strict pizza and doughnut diet.

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Film Review: Amish Romance "Love Finds You In Charm" with Trevor Donovan and Danielle Chuchran

Film Review: Amish Romance “Love Finds You In Charm” with Trevor Donovan and Danielle Chuchran

I know it’s a little odd for me to be reviewing a film like this, however, I read the book, Love Finds You In Charm, a few years ago never thinking it would one day become a film, and I’m posting now as a blogger, not a publisher writer. There’s a difference, and I always make that clear here on the blog. My reading taste in fiction runs anywhere from Jonathan Franzen, to James Franco’s abstract fiction, to Debbie Macomber “porch swing” romances. Over the years I’ve posted reviews on all of them, including J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. In fact, I rarely ever read anything in the genre in which I write anymore.

With that said, the general premise of the film, Love Finds You In Charm, revolves around a beautiful young Amish woman, Emma, who begins to question her life in the Amish community, with the young Amish man who wants to marry her, and whether or not she can live such a narrow existence. She reads Jane Austen in her barn and dreams about another life. She’s not sure exactly what she wants, but she knows she wants to find out if there’s something different out in the world. So her father sends her to Charm, Ohio, where she spends the summer with relatives.

Once in a while a book or film comes along that captures the setting perfectly…with feeling. I’m often disappointed when that doesn’t happen, especially with an Amish romance. I have been known to cut across six lane highways after spotting a sign for an Amish farm market, especially if it’s in the fall and there are pumpkins, mums, and homemade cheese. In this case, Love Finds You In Charm doesn’t disappoint. It actually was filmed on location, in Charm, Ohio, and the setting is portrayed in such a brilliant way you find yourself daydreaming about actually living there. I live in Bucks County, PA, with a lot of equestrian farms and farm markets. But in the fall they don’t grow the pumpkins here. They fill a farm with pumpkins from California and let people pretend they are picking them. There’s also a strong New York and Philadelphia influence and we often lose a lot of the original charm of years ago as a result. We’re kind of “quasi country chic,” with million dollar town homes and condos on the river. I didn’t see that in this film. I saw the kind of farm life authenticity that takes the viewer away to a world with which they aren’t familiar. Pure comfort and escapism.

When Emma arrives in Ohio, on a train that looks as much fun to ride as any farm market is to visit, she immediately meets a young man named Noah, played by Trevor Donovan. If you have followed Donovan’s career over the years, which I actually haven’t, you’ll know he’s known for playing a variety of parts and characters. This time, as Noah, Donovan filled the strong hero part perfectly, and you can see that clearly by the expression on Emma’s face the instant she steps off the train. There’s also nothing vulgar or too intense about it. The portentous scene where they meet is plain and simple, and it shows the beginning of what we hope will be an interesting relationship. Without giving any spoilers, Noah is the beginning of what might become an interesting adventure for Emma. The kind that she’s been reading about in Jane Austen books.

It’s the little things in a book or film that create the intensity of the “romance” for me. In this case, there’s a scene where all it takes is Noah putting a sea shell up to Emma’s ear and telling her it’s the ocean. Or when he raves about her cheese-making skills and wants to know “the secret ingredient.” By that time I wanted to know what it was, too. Again, all done with simple gestures and poignant lines that create the kind of romance we don’t see often anymore in films.

However, this isn’t about the cheese. The story goes much deeper than Emma’s relationship with Noah. While she’s working at one of the most wonderful farm market’s I’ve ever seen, she befriends another young woman who is also rethinking her life, but as an “English” woman, not Amish. I once posted a guest post by an Amish man who lives in a place just like Charm, and I’ve kept in touch with him since then. I’m not an expert on Amish life, but I’ve learned that the Amish refer to anyone who isn’t Amish as “English.” In any event, Emma finds a few things in common with this other young woman who is questioning her own life, which also adds a little drama to the story I didn’t expect to see…and Noah becomes even more of a hero. 

Then there’s a handsome young guy who works as a food blogger who comes to town and runs into Emma at the Farmer’s Market. He tastes her homemade goat cheese…chèvre…and loves it so much he wants to do a feature on her in the food blog. It’s also evident that he’s interested in more than Emma’s cheese and Noah’s not too thrilled about that. This is all done with subtle comments, glances, and expressions, which you never have to question once. And it’s hard to predict what the ultimate outcome will be even when you reach the middle of the film. I don’t usually mind it when I can predict the ending of a film or book…as long as it’s happy ending. But in this case I really did find myself wondering how it would all wind up. 

If I were to continue I would no doubt wind up adding spoilers and I ate it when reviews do that. I think that’s shabby reviewing and it ruins something special for those who haven’t seen the film or read the book. However, from the wood cutting scene where Noah slams that log with all his brute force, to the scene where Emma just stares at him with glazed eyes, I found this to be one of the fastest films I’ve seen in a long time. Back in the 1980’s there was a wonderful, classic book titled, “Cold Sassy Tree,” by Olive Ann Burns. Burns died right after the book was published. They adapted the novel to film, too. And that’s what Love Finds You In Charm reminded me of in so many ways, yet completely different. It’s one of those movies you can keep on DVR and watch many times in the future with people of all ages.

The film is being aired on UPTV, Uplifting Entertainment, and here’s a link to their web site with more information. It originally aired on June 7, 2015, and they aired it again last night. I don’t know much about UPTV but I would imagine they will be airing it again sometime soon. I also did a simple search and it looks like you can watch it online, too. I’m not posting links because I’m not sure if those web sites are legal or not, and with my own experience with book pirates I don’t like to take those chances. But if it’s not online yet, I’m sure it will be soon enough for those of you who read this blog in the UK and other countries.


 

Chief Justice Roberts on Marriage; Scalia on Marriage; Joe Biden on Marriage Equality

Chief Justice Roberts on Marriage

I think everyone by now knows how SCOTUS ruled on same sex marriage, and they know some of the details about why they ruled the way they did. Here’s an interesting piece about Chief Justice Roberts.

Roberts’ main objection is the legal reasoning behind the majority opinion. His preference was to let the issue play out through the ballot box instead of letting what he dismissively calls “five lawyers” to determine whether marriage is a right.

“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Roberts said. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

I know and understand what he’s saying, however,  there are varying opinions on this. Plus, I think it would have taken years and years of more discrimination and inequality if this had been played out through the ballet box. And frankly, I’m not a fan of allowing people who believe in the most simplistic religious teachings decide my future when it comes to equality.  Because that’s what this all comes down to: religion and how it’s been interpreted through the years as a from of control.

I was especially glad to hear about today’s ruling when I heard a gay priest that will never admit that he’s gay, condemn the ruling. There’s just something fundamentally wrong with that. Trust me, I know plenty of gay priests who do the same thing and live separate lives on the down low. And this is the part that Chief Justice Roberts leaves out of his reasoning…the cold simple truth. I’d rather not have people like that voting on my future in the ballot box. The Constitution exists for a reason.

You can read more here. 

Scalia on Marriage

I wish they hadn’t used an English Bulldog with this article. I love English Bulldogs and I think it does a disservice to them. However, it’s an interesting piece about how Justice Scalia has become a caricature of himself.

“The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,’” Scalia quoted from the majority opinion before adding, “Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”

Hmmm. If we were to ask our nearest hippie, we’re pretty sure same-sex marriage would have been the law of the land starting sometime in the sixties.

The rest is here, with more than a few comments.

Joe Biden on Marriage Equality

I actually saw this on Twitter earlier yesterday and I retweeted it because I thought it was amusing. There’s a parody account for Jill Biden that tweeted this:

“Joe is running through the halls with a rainbow flagged tied like a cape high fiving everyone.”

And, you can check out a photo here.

In general, I’m sure the Vice President is happy, and so are a lot of other people. Oddly, I did notice that a few gay men were having issues celebrating the ruling. One wrote a glum blog post about HIV/AIDS and how so many died. Another kept commenting on social media about how he’s now been “validated” as a real citizen…commenting in a sarcastic way. Both of them are very strong points only people who are gay and over 30 will understand. It’s a time to celebrate, but it’s a little hard to celebrate what we should have had all along.

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SCOTUS Rules Gay Marriage Legal Across America

SCOTUS Rules Gay Marriage Legal Across America

It’s not every day history is made in quite this way. In fact, I can only think of a few instances in my lifetime like this. So many people have been waiting, hoping, and even praying that this would one day come to pass. It seems like ages ago when my husband and I were legally married in Vermont, only to return home to Bucks County, PA, where we still weren’t considered legally married.

The White House has tweeted a gif that shows the remarkable pace of legalization for same-sex marriage in the United States: Massachusetts was the first state to legalize it in 2004; by 25 June 2015, 36 states had legalized gay marriage and Alabama was waging a protracted battle in the courts to keep its ban in place.

Starting 26 June 2015, all 50 states will be required to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

You can read the rest here. 

It’s been legal here in Pennsylvania for about a year, but I’m mostly thrilled for friends in other parts of the US who can now also legally wed.

What Is Straightsplaining? Manspreading; Photos of Past NY Pride

What Is Straightsplaining?

I see a lot about mansplaining (definition links below) these days, but never too much about straightsplaining. And I think that’s because most gay people don’t even know there’s a word for it. They know what the concept is. Like me, they experience straightsplaining on a daily basis, but don’t know there’s an actual term they can now use in defense. So I thought I’d do a very short post about it for those who don’t know what straightsplaining is.

In short, straightsplaining is when straight people coming from places of privilege talk about gay people as if they know everything there ever was to know about being gay. But it gets more complicated.

There are several different degrees of straightsplaining. That word, inspired by the increasingly common “mansplaining,” describes the practice of straight people explaining how gay people are, or what gay people do, or how gay people do what they do, or why. This second-hand information can range from being virtually benign to chronically malignant. It is detailed below in that order, more or less. Come, let’s explore this discursive cancer.

There are detailed examples, here. As I said, I experience this almost daily. There’s an excellent example of how a review of HBO’s “Looking” goes wrong when it’s written by a straight reviewer.

Well, if you’re going to take to task a gay man’s assessment of gay culture, you should at least know your terminology. Positing that first sentence the way that he does, it seems that Seitz is pointing out a contradiction in Lowder’s work, which would mean that Seitz thinks that being a “queen” is somehow tied to promiscuous sex, which… what? And just why exactly does Queer as Folk’s more explicit handling of gay sex invoke “hounds of hell” in Seitz’s eyes?

I love when straight people review shows like “Vicious,” and they don’t have the first clue, but think they do. 

I’ve actually learned to be very polite about straightsplaining. I rarely get upset. I think most straight people who do this aren’t aware they are doing it…even though they still think they know more than the gay man about being gay. However, you get the wrong gay man and you might be in for a few shocks you didn’t expect. He could bury you 🙂

 
Manspreading

Manspreading, unlike mansplaining, is when a man sits down, spreads his legs almost as wide as he can, and sits back without a care in the world. Most men don’t even realize they’re doing this. People…not me…complain it takes up too much space on public transportation and some men have allegedly been arrested for it.

However, there is hope for it…

Now thanks to a dedicated team of researchers we now have a greater understanding and our sympathies have shifted. These poor men have been diagnosed with a genetic condition known as “manspreaditis,” which causes them to walk with their legs permanently divided past the point of comfort. So next time you see one of these poor unfortunates, show some sympathy instead of scorn and shift over.

There are a few excellent examples of good looking men spreading their legs, here. And there’s a video. As you can imagine, this article is more about the comments than anything else.

But more important, as you would also imagine there are dolts who actually take this shit seriously and have no idea that it’s meant to be funny.

The nation is getting really stupid with everything needing to be discussed and named nowadays… but spreading your legs this wide is ridiculous and childish. No one’s sack is that big and if it is they need to get checked for a tumor. I hate little overcompensating idiots who spread their legs that wide like they’re wearing a damned diaper. There’s just no need and it’s clearly a lack of empathy for those around them as well as a total lack of class and decency. Look at some of those pics, just plain silly. Kudos to the people who got them arrested, maybe they’ll grow up a bit. Other people need space to sit too, wannabe alpha males with tiny sacks spreading like there’s a mattress in your panties.


Photos of Past NY Pride

Here’s a piece with images of past NY pride events that capture the times and the expressions of those who lived them.

It’s high holy days for the gays. Pride is being celebrated all across the country. From Tampa to Chicago, Boston to Honolulu, cities large and small are getting into the rainbow spirit and drawing crowds of historic proportions.

As we approach New York Pride, the city that started it all back in 1970, we thought we’d take a look back at Prides past. Based on these photos, most of which are from the 70s and 80s, one thing is abundantly clear: Pride never goes out of style!

Here’s the link. They’re actually very good. And I think like most people around my age, I look at these things with a retro sense of pride even though I never experienced it first hand.

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