gay men

Gay Men Going To the Far Right In Germany; Gay Men Afraid To Hold Hands In Public; Louise L. Hay, Gay Men, AIDS, and "Kitsch Spirituality"

Gay Men Going To the Far Right In Germany

Here’s a piece about something that’s been going on in Germany that rarely makes headlines in the US, not even in LGBT presses.

It’s about two gay men who suffered a violent attack that has changed everything about them…right down to their core beliefs.

Police identified the attackers as two locally known Muslim extremists. They were never arrested and later fled to Syria. After demanding answers from local prosecutors and the mayor’s office and not getting a response, Karsten turned to Germany’s far right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“I don’t like everything they say,” Karsten says, “but this is too dangerous for gay people to live openly here, if we get attacked like that. We need a party that’s talking openly about this.”
Gay Men Afraid To Hold Hands In Public
This is happening in the UK, but I think it could probably happen anywhere. There was a survey taken and more than half the gay men in Britain feel unsafe holding hands in public. And it gets into other hate crimes with other groups that fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. 
Stonewall said the UK had much to do before all LGBT people “can feel safe, included and free to be themselves”.
While hate crime was more effectively recorded than in the past, the charity said there had undoubtedly been “a genuine increase” in incidents since its last major survey in 2013.
Louise L. Hay, Gay Men, AIDS, and “Kitsch Spirituality”
This is actually a difficult one for me because I did follow a lot of the principles and techniques of Louise Hay, and I never knew any of this.  But I followed Hay in a very general sense, and at the time I was very, very young and I wasn’t as heavily invested as some people were. 
Evidently, now that she’s dead people are speaking up about Hay and how she affected a generation of men. 
Many AIDS survivors and caregivers have testified to the tragic personal cost of Hay’s philosophy, and what some have called her brutal dismissal of actual people with AIDS, including the poor and people of color, as well as her willingness to profit personally through the pain of the sick, the psychically unsettled, and the terminally ill. Activist and filmmaker Peter Fitzgerald saw Hay in action with his desperately ill comrades. After her death he said,  “I understand that she providedd hope at very dark times to a great many people, I also know all too well that her clay feet were deeply mired in the guilt of being an AIDS profiteer, a disloyal friend and purveyor of false hope. Namaste, bitch.”
It’s a long piece, that you can find here at this link. They refer to Hays and what she taught as “kitsch spirituality.” I really don’t know enough about it to make any specific comments.   
Said With Care


A PG Rated Gay Romance



Not All Gay Books Have Sex
In Their Prime by Ryan Field





JFK’s Lincoln; James Franco Gay Interest

JFK’s Lincoln

Every year around this time President John F. Kennedy’s legacy begins to circulate in the media because he was shot and killed on November 22, 1963. And this year marks the 50th anniversary of his death. Most of what’s been printed or filmed has made the rounds so many times it’s ingrained in the heads of almost every American who is over thirty years old. But this next article about the Lincoln Continental Limousine in which Kennedy was killed has a few interesting facts I’d never read before.

I knew it had become a tourist attraction at the The Henry Ford museum in Michigan, but I didn’t know that the car we’re seeing now is virtually nothing like the car in Kennedy’s motorcade. It was originally midnight blue and now it’s black. The headlights were altered and look nothing like the original headlights in Kennedy’s Lincoln. It’s not even a convertible anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time.

And there’s a reason for this. After the shooting in Dallas, the Lincoln limo was flown back to D.C. and housed in a Secret Service garage where it underwent extensive examinations. At the time, no one knew what to do with it, so pragmatism overtook the historical significance of the car and this was the ultimate result:

But the federal government of the United States of America did not have another presidential limousine. Developing one could again take years. Macabre as it may be, it was faster to just rebuild the one they already had.

The ’61 Continental survived, but underwent massive changes.

Secret Service agents shipped the car back to Hess & Eisenhardt in Cincinnati, where engineers encased its body in armor and titanium plating and added the permanent, bulletproof roof. The gas tank was filled with a plastic foam that minimized the risk of explosion if bullets were fired into the tank. Bulletproof windows five layers thick were installed.

And after all the massive alterations the Lincoln returned to D.C. in the spring of 1964 with its original color, midnight blue, and President Johnson, Kennedy’s successor, freaked out and ordered it painted black because of the macabre images he thought it might provoke. So it was repainted, returned to the white house garage, and went into service for the next sixteen years.

The Continental would spend the remainder of its years in the background. It traveled with Johnson to Vietnam, with Nixon to China, with Ford to the Soviet Union. It made its final foreign trip with President Carter in May 1977, carrying him around London and Newcastle for an economic summit.

Retirement awaited upon its return, and the car was given back to Ford, from which the federal government had leased the car for $500 a year.
One of the aspects of the entire Kennedy shooting that has always impressed me was the way Jackie Kennedy seemed to know that even in her most desperate moment she had a duty to preserve history and to let the people see what had happened so no one would ever forget. I can’t believe she refused to remove her blood-stained suit by accident the day Kennedy was shot. She wasn’t a stupid woman and she knew that one day those photos of her standing in that blood-stained suit would become a huge part of American history. Unfortunately, they didn’t discuss what should happen to the Lincoln with Jackie Kennedy, and a car that never should have been altered or tampered with because of its historical significance was completely ruined.

You can read more here. There are many more details and probably a lot of facts you didn’t know. You can also see a photo of the limo as its been altered and is now in display in Michigan. The photo above is public domain and that’s the original limo.

James Franco Gay Interest

When I posted about a novel I’m reading written by James Franco earlier this week, I had no idea he was so fascinated with gay men. But this next article talks about how Franco seems curious about gay men and thinks of them as his heroes, and I have noticed a few gay scenes in his new novel that tend to be painfully accurate, but not always flattering to gay men. That’s hard to explain, so I’m not going to even try.

Franco has played several gay characters in films. As far as I know, Franco is straight and as they say an actor should be able to play any part. I fully agree with that, however, it doesn’t always work that way if you’re openly gay in Hollywood and you want to play a straight lead in a film. But that’s the way it works, and straight male actors often get to play the parts of gay men without the hint of a double standard or the fact that it’s fucking cheesy to do. (Sorry for the short rant; it might happen again.)

In any event, straight actor, Franco, has directed two new films with gay characters, in all his straightness. I don’t know if those characters are being played by gay actors, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they aren’t. The world is run by straight white men; they call the shots, especially in Hollywood.

Interior. Leather. Bar. is a ‘docufiction’ film that attempts to recreate the 40 minutes of deleted sexually explicit footage from the 1980 film Cruising while Sal tells the story of the last day in the life of the late gay actor Sal Mineo.

Any gay man, me included, can relate to what’s between the lines in that sentence. And Franco says this in reference to the gay roles he takes:

‘In Milk, the point is to show one of the great fighters for equal rights for the gay community, so I was happy to do that. With characters like Allen Ginsberg [in Howl], my love for him started with his work when I was a teenager. So his sexuality is secondary to me. It’s an important aspect of who he was and his character, but it wasn’t like, “Yes, I want to play another gay role,” it was more, “Yes, I’d love to play another one of my heroes.”’

I’m sure there are openly gay actors who would love to play the life story of John F. Kennedy because he was their hero. But I doubt that would happen.

As a side note, Allen Ginsberg was a regular here in New Hope, PA, as mentioned in this article.

At the Terrapin we had many interesting customers, from locals like James Michener, Rachel Welch, Peter Hurkos, Gerald Heard, Hal Just, Harry Smith, Allen Ginsberg. and a large crowd of new people..

In any event, I like Franco, and I’m enjoying his book. I think his intentions are good and I’ll probably enjoy his movies. But there is something in all this that falls under the old bullshit saying that I’ve mentioned before here on the blog by journalist Linda Ellerbee: “And so it goes…”

You can read more here about why James Franco is so enamored by gay men.

Steve Grand Slammed; Ben Cohen Strips for Gays

Steve Grand Slammed

Last summer when country/pop singer, Steve Grand, released  a music video I posted about him here. At the time he was so fresh there wasn’t much I could find about him anywhere. But the one thing that did stand out about his song was the fact that it was all about a young gay man falling in love with a straight men, and how the young gay man winds up with a broken heart.

With the blog hop for equal rights this weekend I thought it would be appropriate to post something about gay country music star, Steve Grand, because he’s making history, promoting equal rights, and breaking the stereotypes at the same time. I saw one post earlier today that linked to a Steve Grand post with a less than thrilling comment thread…pure garbage and filled with the kind of snark I don’t tolerate anymore.

Since I wrote that post, Grand has continued to make history and break stereotypes, which isn’t easy to do if you are gay because the same old sterotypes that have been following gay men around forever don’t seem to go away. And even worse, people who claim to support gay men often seem to be the same people who crave those sterotypes. Because Steve Grand didn’t just get heat from the comment thread I mentioned in the excerpt from the post above. He also got slammed for writing a song where a young gay man falls in love with a young straight man. Some seem to think Grand should have made the gay man fall in love with another gay man.

Here’s a quote where Steve Grand responded to all this:

‘Because this was my experience growing up. Many times,’ Grand says. ‘I grew up in a predominantly heterosexual world. Most of the crushes I had were straight men. Gay men were not visible. I wanted to tell a story that had been burning inside me.’

‘It’s a universal human story – unrequited love. Gay or straight, we’ve all been there. When I started writing music, I was always writing about that. I was always crushing on someone I couldn’t be with.’

I’d like to know what’s so difficult to understand about that? Grand isn’t writing an m/m romance. He’s writing about his own life experience and it’s coming from his heart, from his experience as a gay man. This isn’t fantasy with HEA. This is reality. And because most gay men…me included…grew up in heteronormative worlds, our first crushes were directed toward straight men. And I think the most important thing to understand here is that Steve Grand, as the gay man, gets the last word about what it’s like to be gay growing up in a straight world.

If all gay men had a normal puberty and they dated other gay men as YAs, I wouldn’t even be writing this post. But the fact remains that gay men don’t get a puberty like straight men and they usually wind up in impossible situations where unrequited love is inevitable.

You can read more here. The piece goes into more detail about what Steve Grand was like growing up.

Ben Cohen Strips for Gays


Speaking of breaking stereotypes and unrequited love, British rugby player and gay activist, Ben Cohen, is coming out with a new calendar where all proceeds will benefit his foundation that focuses on stopping homophobia and bullying in schools. And according the photos on this web site to which I’m linking, he’s going to raise a great deal of money and awareness. There’s a video, too.

This time he has invited us for a sneak peak into the shower and the locker room for a behind-the-scenes look.
 
Although Cohen is the perfect example of so many gay male fantasies, he is straight and he’s comfortable with his status as a gay icon, so to speak. This also makes sense to me. He’s a man. Gay men like men. And guess what, gay men like showers and locker rooms. I probably shouldn’t have let that secret out of the proverbial bag, but there you are.
 
Cohen created The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation to Stop Homophobia and Bullying. You can check out the foundation’s web site here. It’s really a steller web site and I highly suggest looking at it.
 
In this article he talks about being on the reality TV show, Strictly Come Dancing, and states that he would be open to dancing with a man on TV. The reason I find that interesting is because I often watch the US show, Dancing with the Stars, and I always wonder why there are never two male contestants dancing in the competition. Too much for liberal left wing Hollywood to handle?
 
In any event, Cohen said this, in public: 
 
“I’ve no qualms dancing with a woman or a man,” Cohen is quoted by the Mirror as saying. “Kristina [Rihanoff] will be easier to pick up though.”
 

I’ve always wanted to learn how to dance.

Shower image above can be found here.  The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted.

"What Gay Men Can Teach Straight Women About Sex" Fail

A few weeks ago Tony and I watched film starring Meryl Streep titled, Hope Springs, where they make reference to gay men and sex in conjunction with straight women in a somewhat peculiar way. We did what we always do when we see things like this in hetero mainstream films or TV shows: we looked at each other and groaned.

It wasn’t a bad film, and Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell were all excellent. I even loved the setting, which I’ll get into in a moment. But to be perfectly honest, we purposely waited for it to be released on cable because we’d seen the previews on demand and didn’t want to spend the money to rent it. And we rent films on demand often, so it’s not like we’re sitting around pinching the pennies. I’ve also been known to spend money I didn’t even have if I wanted something badly enough. But I’m glad we decided to wait for Hope Springs to come on cable, because we wouldn’t have been happy paying extra for it.

The basic plot revolves around a married couple who’ve been together for many years and are living in that proverbial empty nest. They’re still too young for retirement, and yet old enough for certain aspects of the marriage to dwindle. In their case it’s intimacy and sex, which is not all that uncommon. As the film begins, the Meryl Streep character and her husband, played by Tommy Lee Jones, are sleeping in separate bedrooms and not having any kind of intimacy whatsoever…not even hugging or touching. As a side note, I personally think the producers of the film know very little about marriage and how people evolve in marriages over time…or the ups and downs of marriage for the long term. In other words, if these two people had only been in their thirties or forties I would have been far more worried about them. The one thing that saved the film in this respect was the lack of intimacy in a general sense. But I tend to think most marriages go through periods like this, and it’s not always the worst thing in the world that can happen to a marriage…gay or straight. I would also wager a guess the people who produced this film have been married multiple times. But I could be wrong about that.

In any event, in order to save the marriage, in a dramatic move that’s unlike her, the Meryl Streep character confronts her husband about visiting a marriage counseling clinic in (I think) Maine, in this quaint little tourist town were everything costs three times more than anywhere else. The price, without expenses, is four thousand dollars. He refuses, she cashes in a CD and books the trip anyway, and she tells him she’s going with or without him. He clearly loves her and joins here on the trip. I’m not going to get into anything else because I don’t want to give spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film. But they ultimately wind up in this little town, in therapy with a marriage counselor played by Steve Carell.

From a clinical POV I think the film worked, however, there was one scene in the film where the husband is rejecting everything and the wife gets so frustrated she goes into a small bookstore in this little tourist town and buys a book that’s titled something like “What Gay Men Can Teach Straight Women about Sex.” I don’t remember the exact title, but it was something like that and that’s the part where we groaned. Because for the life of me I honestly don’t know what gay men can teach straight women about sex. The fact that there’s this mentality out there that thinks gay men can identify with straight women with regard to sex is far from correct. In a parody it’s funny; in real life it’s ridiculous. Gay men think like men. They are wired like men and in spite of their individual backgrounds they behave like men. I’m not getting into the exceptions to the rule. I know they are out there. Right now I’m talking about gay men in general. We do vary…gay men…but not all that much when it comes to sex. I hesitate to give examples because this blog is rated pg.

Not to mention the fact that the female anatomy is about as unknown to most gay men as the inside of a stripper bar is to an Amish preacher. If anything, straight men know far more about the female anatomy in a physical sense than most gay men will ever know. I can personally say in all honesty that I have never even seen a vagina up close, or at a distance. So how I, as a gay man, could help counsel a straight woman with a sexual intimacy issue truly passes me by. I once tried; it didn’t end well. I might be able to help as far as intimacy and romance goes, but even that would be a stretch. Books have been written about this, studies have been done hundreds of times. And the fact remains that men and women think differently when it comes to intimacy and sex, and gay men aren’t that different from straight men. At least none of the gay men in long term marriages/relationships I know are.

I also think it’s important to take this to another level. This image we often get from the mainstream, with TV shows like Sex and the City, and films like Hope Springs, isn’t correct, either socially or politically. It’s actually insulting when you compare it to some of the older films in Hollywood where African Americans and people of Asian descent were stereotyped and misrepresented with things like yellowface and tap dancing scenes.

I think one of the reasons why so many gay men don’t ever speak up about it is because they can’t. So many of us are so busy trying figure ourselves out we often ignore the things that don’t actually affect us personally because it would be too overwhelming. I get e-mails from gay men all the time discussing this exact topic and the best I can do is agree with them. If I were a shabby blogger I would insert quotes here from some of these e-mails, but I wouldn’t do that because I believe these e-mails I get are personal and private. So the best I can do is call attention to it in a blog post, and show how we, as gay men, are often insulted by the very people who think they are trying to help us. Because I don’t believe for one second that anyone associated with Hope Springs meant any harm. I just don’t think they know any better. No one saw anything wrong with the way African Americans were treated in old movies until someone came along and pointed it out.

Update: After I clicked “publish” I thought it was important to add that I think this concept of what gay men can teach straight women about sex also puts straight women in a bad position, too. It is insinuating that straight women don’t know as much about sex as gay men, and I don’t believe that’s true for a moment. One thing is for certain, at least gay men and straight women do have one thing in common: we’re often misrepresented in the same ways.

Update 2: A facebook friend actually pointed me to a book that’s out there just like the one I mentioned above. I’m not linking to it. However, it is #14 right now in the “Psychology Self-Help” bestseller category on Amazon. Interesting.

Photo attribution: Wiki Commons   

A Dumb Insulting Video about Gay Men by College Humor

I just watched the dumbest video about gay men by College Humor I’ve ever seen before. I’m treading lightly here and I’m really trying to keep an open mind about this. On the one hand it’s funny and even I laughed when I first started watching. On the other, the more I watched the more I saw that it’s about as insulting as any stereotype of any minority I’ve ever seen before.

Here’s the link to a video that’s titled, “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends.” I’m guessing it’s supposed to be a political statement about legalizing gay marriage on a state by state level, and it’s pointed at straight men. To date, I have failed to see anyone in the mainstream media mention Fred Karger and all the work he’s been doing to legalize gay marriage. But I see this nonsense about gay men marrying “your girlfriends” all the time and it is getting tired now.

I do get the humor. I like to think I have a good sense of humor. But whenever I see something like this I have to wonder WTF because the gay men I know are more like the straight men I know in more ways than one. And videos like this hurt more than they help with the way the general public sees the gay community at large.

There may have been gay rights victories in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota this past election, but there are still states out there doing their best to keep couples from getting married.

For those states, the men of College Humor have an ultimatum: Let them get hitched, or they’ll bite the bullet and start marrying your girlfriends.

The biggest misconception I find here is the implication that straight men are all against gay marriage and their girlfriends support it.  And that’s just not the way it works. There are as many straight women against gay marriage as there are straight men, at least that’s how it works from my own personal experiences as a gay man. In fact, the straight women who are against gay marriage tend to be both condescending and militant about it at times. In other words, Anita Bryant wasn’t the only one. I also have many straight males friends who really don’t care one way or the other.

But what I find even more insulting is that gay men have to fight these stereotypes constantly while they are also fighting for equality. And that’s just not something I’m willing to accept without speaking up about it anymore.

First, I don’t cook or arrange flowers. I don’t even eat quiche…never have and never will. The kitchen is my least favorite room in the house and I’m not even sure how to use the big hot thing they call a range. I know gay men who do cook and arrange flowers and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I know more who work as corporate executives during the week making six figures and they spend their weekends putting in hardwood floors and building decks. I could write pages about this alone, but you see where I’m going with this with respect to insults and stereotypes.

This time the dumb video hurts more than it helps because it not only objectifies gay men in a general sense as being prissy and effeminate, but also too dumb to stand up and understand the political implications behind the scenes. Some of us do “get” it. We are well informed politically and we know who is going to help us and who is going to hurt us. You just don’t hear from us often because we are the discreet silent majority. But we’re getting fed up and starting to talk more. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there who don’t know much about gay men and don’t get the parody in the video will actually think all gay men are like this…because this is all they ever really see!!

Try doing this with any other minority in America and you’d be slammed before you could even get your first “like.”

Tops, Bottoms, Versatiles…

I found this article and thought I’d post it. It’s an interesting examination of how gay men behave in certain sexual circumstances. Frankly, I don’t completely agree with everything. I think these studies are incorrect in the sense that I don’t think everyone’s telling the truth. There’s an old saying about the two things people lie the most about: sex and money.

There’s also nothing more frustrating in the world than two bottoms trying to figure out how to have fun. In fact, it’s downright pitiful and a complete waste of time.

One of the things I always try to put into my fiction is what’s really going on in the minds of my gay male characters when it comes to sex, not what studies say or research suggests. I want them to feel free to at least think about what they want, without any inhibitions. And we all have inhibitions we’ll never talk about openly…even the folks who take these surveys and do these studies.

But it’s an interesting piece, and a lot of the information is on target. Here’s a link, and I’ve posted part of the article below. I think it’s worth reading, especially if you’re a fan of m/m romance. And I think a lot of the information could apply to the straight world, too. I know for a fact a lot of you so-called straight guys aren’t being completely honest. And I don’t care what research says or studies show.

Top Scientists Get to the Bottom of Gay Male Sex Role Preferences

“Tops,” “Bottoms,” “Versatiles” and others in the study of gay male self-identity

By Jesse Bering | September 16, 2009 | 72

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Jesse Bering​

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It’s my impression that many straight people believe that there are two types of gay men in this world: those who like to give, and those who like to receive. No, I’m not referring to the relative generosity or gift-giving habits of homosexuals. Not exactly, anyway. Rather, the distinction concerns gay men’s sexual role preferences when it comes to the act of anal intercourse. But like most aspects of human sexuality , it’s not quite that simple.

I’m very much aware that some readers may think that this type of article does not belong on this website. But the great thing about good science is that it’s amoral, objective and doesn’t cater to the court of public opinion. Data don’t cringe; people do. Whether we’re talking about a penis in a vagina or one in an anus, it’s human behavior all the same. The ubiquity of homosexual behavior alone makes it fascinating. What’s more, the study of self-labels in gay men has considerable applied value, such as its possible predictive capacity in tracking risky sexual behaviors and safe sex practices.

People who derive more pleasure (or perhaps suffer less anxiety or discomfort) from acting as the insertive partner are referred to colloquially as “tops,” whereas those who have a clear preference for serving as the receptive partner are commonly known as “bottoms.” There are plenty of other descriptive slang terms for this gay male dichotomy as well, some repeatable (“pitchers vs. catchers,” “active vs. passive,” “dominant vs. submissive”) and others not—well, not for Scientific American , anyway.

In fact, survey studies have found that many gay men actually self-identify as “versatile,” which means that they have no strong preference for either the insertive or the receptive role. For a small minority, the distinction doesn’t even apply, since some gay men lack any interest in anal sex and instead prefer different sexual activities. Still other men refuse to self-label as tops, bottoms, versatiles or even “gay” at all, despite their having frequent anal sex with gay men. These are the so-called “Men Who Have Sex With Men” (or MSM) who are often in heterosexual relations as well.

Several years ago, a team of scientists led by Trevor Hart at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta studied a group of of 205 gay male participants. Among the group’s major findings—reported in a 2003 issue of The Journal of Sex Research —were these:

(1) Self-labels are meaningfully correlated with actual sexual behaviors. That is to say, based on self-reports of their recent sexual histories, those who identify as tops are indeed more likely to act as the insertive partner, bottoms are more likely be the receptive partner, and versatiles occupy an intermediate status in sex behavior.

(2) Compared to bottoms, tops are more frequently engaged in (or at least they acknowledge being attracted to) other insertive sexual behaviors. For example, tops also tend to be the more frequent insertive partner during oral intercourse. In fact, this finding of the generalizability of top/bottom self-labels to other types of sexual practices was also uncovered in a correlational study by David Moskowitz, Gerulf Reiger and Michael Roloff. In a 2008 issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, these scientists reported that tops were more likely to be the insertive partner in everything from sex-toy play to verbal abuse to urination play.