Monday, December 31, 2007

Thanks, 2007

And so another year comes to an end and I'm forced to wax pensive before I head out for New Year's festivities with my parents, James and some friends.

I'll keep it short: 2007 was very good to me. And 08 will be even better. To sum it all up, the picture on the left is of James and me in Santorini this summer. We braved 2 weeks at sea with both sets of parents and my younger brother, and though I felt like I went through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome upon our return, I look at the pictures from the journey and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.

And that was the highlight of my year.

Those who know me know that I'm prone to pulling a Naomi when things don't go my way. This year, however, the lesson I finally learned was that we're all vested with the power of choice. We can choose how to react to situations -- we can walk away in peace, or stay in rage. I've chosen, when faced with issues that are bigger than me, to just walk away in peace. And I'm all the better for it. Because no one fell into the Mediterranean on many a fateful day in mid-August.

But this blog isn't about my travels or the Sex and the City movie. It's about politics and the way I, as a gay man of faith (in both God and the power of democracy) process the events of the day.

So where does this peace and love nonsense fit into 08?

As we enter the last leg of the presidential race let's remember that most Americans are fed up with the smoke and mirrors of hate and finer pointing that have become the stock and trade of this current administration. Eight years of propaganda and twisting of words like faith, family values and democracy have gotten us into an unnecessary war and have pit Americans against each other over nonsense issues.

So let's go back to basics. We all love America. The vast majority of voters love this country and the values it represents: freedom, hard work, justice. Let's elect the candidate that embodies these ideals to the fullest and can promise to tackle the enemy -- both within and outside our borders.

There Will Be Problems in the World in '08

...but the Sex and the City movie will also be coming out. I mean, you take the good you take the bad, you take em' both and there you have the first trailer for SATC - The Movie:

I'm really disappointed in myself for having gasped when I saw this for the first time.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Can't I Be a Diesel Lucky Bastard?

I want to travel around the world with the 55DSL kids -- they get to travel around the world and live successfully for Diesel while blogging about their adventures.
I almost bought a pair of Diesel briefs yesterday...really cute low-rise briefs with DIESEL spelled out in studs. Only my mom picked them out and said "these are so you."

Anyhoo, the Junior Lucky Bastards visit Colombia in the clip above, check out more of their travels here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Colombia Hostage Release at a Standstill...

Foto: El Pais, Colombia

...until tomorrow. In the meantime, Venezuelan armed forces and the International Red Cross are holding out hope that before 6pm Sunday, three hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces will be released. Ingrid Betancourt, a presidential candidate who was kidnapped in 2001 and whom I've written about frequently, is not among the hostages slated for release.

Still, for people like Clara Gonzalez, the mother of Clara Rojas, who was kidnapped along with Betancourt, the anguish may soon be over. Soon she'll get to see her daughter, and meet her new grandson, Emmanuel, who was born after Rojas' kidnapping.

But anything is possible. Chavez' good will toward Colombia is a way for him to spread his influence across Latin America. Worming his way into one of the most volatile diplomatic situations in the western hemisphere has made him, unfortunately, an integral part of the peace-building process in Colombia.

So, three hostages may be released tomorrow, or they may be held for another three years. In the meantime it is abundantly clear that Chavez himself is a terrorist - his influence over the FARC makes him complicit in the group's crimes against the people of Colombia. Once the hostages are released, let's pray for the prompt elimination of both the FARC and their spiritual leader, Hugo Chavez.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Incredible Story Comes to an End

Source: Getty Images/NY Times

I got smacked out of my holiday haze this morning when I clicked the New York Times homepage and read that Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party and a vehement opponent of the country's terrorist groups, had been assassinated.

In the two months since her return to Pakistan following self-imposed exile in London, Bhutto's story had become a daily soap opera. From the beginning -- and when I say beginning I'm just referring to October -- the guillotine was hanging over Bhutto's head. The throngs of supporters, the house arrest, the bloody climax of all her political rallies -- and of course, the light she cast on Prime Minister Pervez Musharaf's somnambulant government -- all of these were elements in a riveting saga that could not have possibly ended in any other way.

And that's because the War on Terror, a term that for the time being has been replaced by new buzz words such as Iowa and mormon, is taking on new form. It's not contained to the Middle East -- there are disgruntled and mislead people all around the Muslim world, which is far bigger than most Americans really know. And many governments in this vast swath of countries, aren't the least bit concerned about the increasing influence of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in their home turf.

Benazir Bhutto, scandalous-past-and-all, stood up for something different. In my eyes, she is very much the product of a privileged upbringing in the developing world. Well-educated, worldly but sensitive to the (backwards?) traditions of her homeland -- an arranged marriage, the headress -- and determined to impose progress where necessary. Progress, for the last years of her life, meant erradicating fundamentalist Islam from Pakistan, a country that teters between the line of friend and foe to the U.S.

Bhutto's death, just like her life's work, could tip the balance.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

NRA: Watch Out for Grizzlies, not Sociopaths

It's the grizzlies, stupid. Stop worrying about second-ammendment-empowered-sociopaths and focus on the rising grizzly bear population.

So says the National Rifle Association on their web site.

Any mention of yesterday's killing spree in Omaha? You know, the killing of 9 Americans, patriots (?)just weeks before Christmas, the holiday that the Jews and other demagogue Americans have declared war on? No. It's all about the grizzlies. And the deer. And soon enough chinchillas and black people will be an unstoppable foe so we best stock up on Smith & Wessons now.

I hate the NRA.

The gun lobby hovers just above the child prostitution industry in my book. Tell me, of all the problems to be tackled in the world, how does securing access to guns manage to rank at all? Hunger, AIDS, cancer, providing people weapons to kill each other? Yes, these all seem like worthwhile causes.

Of course, the red-blooded Americans at the NRA will tell you that were it not for guns we'd still be courtseying to the Queen of England. They'll tell you that soon enough some rogue illegal immigrant is going to brave the scorching desert to climb into your suburban home to rape and kill your family.

They won't tell you that the most violent crimes of 2007 were committed by Americans with legally purchased weapons.

If the second ammendment exists in defense of America's sovereignty, how many guns were used to stop the terrorists on 9-11?


Don't Touch.

Leave the Area.

Tell an Adult.

That's what the NRA is going to tell you. Well, your kids anyway. Thanks to the Eddie Eagle Program, a PR-101 tactic designed to placate concerns that guns kill children. It's OK for the gun lobby to enter our schools and teach children in pre-school through third grade about gun safety, but hell's bells you best NOT tell teenagers that a penis and vagina and Stoli do an unwanted baby make and guess what? You can avoid that, the clap, the drip, and the HIV if you use a condom. Because once you say that you're demoralizing the youth of America.

Come to think of it, the Eddie Eagle Program does sound an awful lot like an abstinence program. Kids, if you see a penis or vagina...

So, don't expect the hyper-funded NRA to address the war on Christmas, hunger, AIDS, or your fears that any derranged teenager can legally buy a gun and shoot up the mall. Expect them to infiltrate our taxpayer-funded schools with their feel-good propaganda. Heaven forbid children should be taught tolerance, or even how to paint or play an instrument. As long as we can pay for them to be spokespeople for a governemnt-funded terrorist organization, all is right with the world.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Close Call in Venezuela

Yes, there is reason to celebrate in Venezuela. But not much. While Hugo Chavez' plan to steer the country into indefinite socialism has gone awry, the margin of victory was very small. And that means that the craftiness with which Chavez and his minions usurped power in the first place will be put to use yet again and soon democracy will, again, be put in jeopardy.

Right now Venezuela finds itself on a very dangerous precipice -- while not everyone is rolling in the cash flow of the country's oil industry, there is an entitlement in the air that makes even the most destitute feel as if they lay claim to the power Chavez pretends to lord over the industrialized world, chiefly the U.S.

The same thing is happening in Iran. In Sudan. In Pakistan. You get these crackpot dictators who "stand up" to the U.S. and Great Britain who, because they mouth off at the U.N. in their own language, are exonerated from having to feed, house and educate their people. And they inspire the freedom a citizenry feels to kill hundreds of civilians in Pakistan because they don't agree with Benazir Bhutto or the massive waste of time and energy spent into killing a school teacher over a teddy bear.

Distractions and hyperbole. It's the stuff of politics and the arsenal of dictators. You better believe Chavez is reloading in his headquarters and planning a bigger assault on democracy - only this time it's going global.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is Barack's Victory For All of Us?


Regardless of your opinions about Barack Obama, you have to read Frank Rich's column in today's NY Times. In short, Hillary hasn't won anything yet and both she and the Republicans better start thinking about Plan B should Barack take Iowa. And that's not a long shot, just read Monday's Wall Street Journal.

Of course, this is very exciting. And as a person of color, I can't help but think what it will mean for this country's "blacks and browns" -- a term I learned recently -- to have one of their own rise to our nation's highest office.

But for all the gains made by people of color in this country, our communities still have a lot of progress to make. Unemployment, high-school drop out rates, incarceration, disease and unwanted pregnancy plague this segment of the population more than the white community.

So what will a black POTUS do to address that?

Have years of affirmative action and the visibility of other empowered brown figures -- Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Oprah, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons -- really shown our communities that there is another way of life to aspire to, that there is more to be given for and demanded from this country?

I'd say the answer is no. I'd say that sadly, these are unique examples from an otherwise disenfranchised people that are happy for the success of others and are content to eke out a living that affords them some of the material trappings of success. A black President is as distant a figure as the janitor who won the lottery. Yay, so long as it's one of us.

And that's the fine line the Obama campaign has to tread. On the one hand they have to talk about an America for everyone -- I call it the celluloid version of our country -- and then they have to talk to the other Americans, those who can't even afford to see the celluloid version of this country and who wouldn't recognize it anyway. They have to tell these other Americans that they have been dealt a raw deal, that they are still being oppressed, held back. They have to acknowledge that theirs is a legitimate (but surmountable?) plight.

An "everyone's welcome" dialogue now has to go the "you versus them" route.

How do you "ignore" party lines when racial lines never went away and are soon to be the new fissure that divides Americans, yet again, once this Conservative/Liberal nonsense goes away.

Let's focus on a "gray" America before we start talking about a purple reign.

A black President won't bring all blacks and browns into a privileged class. We're not all moving into the White House, we'll still have jobs to go to and bills to pay. But it should be the final reminder to all of us that we're not slaves anymore. We cannot settle for less. In terms of education, in terms of housing, in terms of our personal choices.

Even if Barack doesn't win, the onus is on all of us who are applauding him because we see in him the realization of a dream we all harbored at one point, to revitalize our communities with this same pioneer spirit that doesn't see color and obstacles, but opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My First Music Video

To my delight and detriment of my Sunday morning workout, I discovered that my Toshiba laptop, powered by Microsoft Vista, has Windows Movie Maker. Woo hoo! Here's my first ever music video with shots and footage from some of the trips I've been on with James and our families.

Dictators and U.S. Policy

I've been wanting to write about the slew of celebrities who have paid visits to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, but I was worried that my rants against Kevin Spacey, Naomi Campbell and Sean Penn would make me sound shrill and right wing.

Don't get me wrong. I see these folks as conspirators in crimes against democracy and humanity. I think it's beyond despicable for these millionaires to entertain the notion of violent Communism that is meted out by Chavez and his cohorts.

But just as alarming, and not as publicized by Ruppert Murdoch's minions, is our country's selective distaste for dictators. The Red Scare made us turn a blind eye to the horrors perpetrated by Augusto Pinochet in Chile during the 70s, the Somozas in Nicaragua and Saddam Hussein in um, um...

And while I understand that we have to protect governments that are friendly to our policies and more importantly, to our bottom line, it doesn't put the U.S. above reproach on the world scene when we turn our backs on our former allies and hang them when they get out of line and jack up the price of oil.

So should we go all soft and proletariat-lke? No. I like my American way of life and my salary and my capitalist New York existence. But we have to realize that just as we're entitled to our money grubbing ways and to our wanton alliance-building with shady characters, so too are other countries. Even oil-producing countries.

And that means more axes of evil are on the horizon. Which begs the question: How many more wars can this country afford to start?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Paris is Burning. Pass the Turkey, Please.

A few days ago I went with James and another friend to the Scion Route 07 Film Series screening of "Paris is Burning," a documentary about gay life in Harlem during the 80s.

If you know "Vogue" by Madonna then it's worth watching this film, which explores the birth of a pop phenomenon from the city's most disenfranchised and unwanted citizens. And isn't that always the way with great art? Suffering breeds genius, no?

But I have to say, the preamble to the film, and some parts of the film itself, were too much for the little homophobic queer inside of me. A few people featured in the film survived the AIDS crisis of the 80s and were on hand for a Q&A at the Scion screening. On the one hand, it was great to see these guys, on the other, the swishing and the "girrrrrl" shout-outs and the rampant silliness of these men, all well into middle age and beyond, was just annoying.

The film follows poor gay men of color as they dress up as women, doctors, executives (a term that got me to thinking that the "executive" is dead seeing as no one says "I'm an executive" anymore. Unless they're a sniveling PR underling, but I digress) to vogue, pose, read and shade at "Balls," lavish affairs where prizes are awarded for the best representation of any category -- best butch/femme queen, best white woman, best executive.

No best PR underling?

So I'm watching the film, the spectacle of it all, and I'm saying "didn't these guys ever think to finish high school, get an education and make something of themselves? Didn't they see the silliness was going to kill them? Which is when the other pro-everything angel popped up on my shoulder and asked "Did anyone warn the Dada-ists that their silliness was going to kill them?" "Did anyone tell the Andy Warhol and the folks at the Factory to cool their jets and be more civilized?"

And I went back to rooting for the guys, the girls, whatever, and lamenting the fact that most of them would never get to see the impact their silliness had on our world.

Which means I should come clean about why I cringed during the screening. The film chronicles a New York I forgot I knew -- one with gang violence, balmy summer nights with no A/C, neighborhood blackouts, a whore-house called Times Square -- it chronicles the minority experience in this country that teaches people of color "if you ain't white you ain't right."

Check out this clip from the film, it captures the feelings I had growing up when I'd look at the TV and say, "um, these people don't look like me and they certainly don't live like me....what's wrong with me?"

Fast forward some twenty-odd years into the future and I'm in the suburbs celebrating Thanksgiving with my (white)boyfriend of three years and our families, and the talk is pleasant, if not a little boring, and the hood I grew up in is now referred to as an up-and-comer on the real estate scene.

Talk about lucky breaks and privilege -- I've had more than my share of both. And love and support as well. That's something that a lot of these guys in the film didn't have - a childhood, parents, safety - and you wonder how they made it as far as they did in the first place. I mean, before Pageant Place there were more than three queens living in less-than-opulent circumstances trying to find their way in the worldd.

So, on the close of this Thanksgiving Weekend I'm thankful for the lucky breaks and opportunities that came my way, and of course, for the family I came from and the one I have with James. And now, I must WORK...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An N Word By Another Name Would Be More Sweet

Image: Queerty

There's a saying in Spanish that describes the moment when two no-good people get together to plot and cause mayhem: se juntaron el hambre y la gana de comer. Literally, hunger and the desire to eat have gotten together.

That's the perfect description for the union between NFL-player-turned-hate-monger Ken Hutcherson and the KKK. Hutcherson, who has called for a boycott of Microsoft products because of the company's pro-gay HR policies, will break bread with anyone who wants to break some gay skulls. Hence the photo above.

And Hutcherson's efforts to link up with another hate group/Evangelical Church in Latvia.

And the threats by Hutcherson to Microsoft: "I told them that you need to work with me or we will put a firestorm on you like you have never seen in you life because I am your worst nightmare. I am a black man with a righteous cause with a whole host of powerful white people behind me."

Which made understanding this incomprehensible level of hate quite easy. Ken Hutch doesn't just hate gays, he hates black people too. And that just speaks to his hatred of perceived weakness altogether, which is merely the result of years of steroid-use racking his nervous system.

But that "powerful white people" comment stands out to me because in my limited experiences with black churches I've been struck by the parallels drawn by pastors to white places of worship. Last year I was at an AME (African Methodist Episcopal) service where the pastor gave a shout out to his friend's son who became a member of Marble Collegiate Church, a predominantly white church here in the city, saying it was "one of the most prestigious churches in the country."

And here's a clip from TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), where gospel singer Yolanda Adams is honored for being the Barbra Streisand of the gospel community (scroll to 1:46 for that choice quote). And for singing for George Bush. And for being the Jackie Onassis of gospel, too (scroll to 3:01 for said comparison).


The disservice of black churches to their own worshippers, as seen in the clip above and in the example of Ken Hutch, is the propagation of a slave mentality that deepens the coffers of some and impoverishes, dehumanizes and enslaves others. Why the comparison to white people? Why can't coming together in the love of Christ be enough? When did Jesus swap the white robe for a white hood? How does the African American community advance by shaking hands with the people who hung them by nooses -- you know, that hot button word everyone has been in a nit over for the past few weeks?

Ah the unifying, race-blurring power of homophobia. And the wonder that is the industry of blacks telling encouraging other blacks to hate themselves and aspire to whiteness.

I wonder if Michelle Malkin, another self-hating person of color, is as worried by the threat posed by Ken Hutcherson -- who has said that us fags will accept Christ the nice way or the hard way -- as she is by the threats of an "intifada" by illegal immigrants as supposedly stated in the Miami Herald.

But I'm sure Ann Coulter, a run of the mill white bigot, is all for the violent re-education of queers -- it's a mission the National Guard can take on once they've killed or deported all the illegal immigrants in this country. (Per her post on Nov 14)

Looks like I might just have to get all pro-NRA. At the rate this world is going I'm liable to get killed by a gay Pentecostal Puerto Rican....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Speedo Sundays Mean Happy Mondays

It's finally cute-outfit-cold in the city. And dark. Which means that after a busy week at work and an anniversary shindig for my parents, we're all entitled to some fun. So instead of yakking about politics and religion, I thought I'd blow your Monday up and direct you to pix from my new fav blog, Made in Brazil, which I found at another of my new fav entertainment blogs, Four Four.

Pour yourself a caiprinha (or a laxative if you're a Botero painting waiting to happen like me) and enjoy.

For more Brazilian hotness, check The Boy at Terra Brazil. Or watch The Simpsons, in Portuguese:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Reflections

There are times when I want to smash my cable box to bits. I scroll past 1,000 channels every night and feel punished because I don't like the Andy Griffith Show or because I don't want to watch college football or some bisexual Vietnamese tranny's search for love.

But today I felt blessed, I hit the History Channel and was delighted by the line up: a look at cults through history, a special on Pablo Esobar, a docudrama on the Jonestown massacre capped off with a report on blood diamonds. Finally, my DVR would exercise itself beyond taping The Golden Girls and The Simpsons.

I went about my day and when I came home I thought to treat myself to Jonestown: Paradise Lost. I should have stuck with the Vietnamese tranny.

The documentary delves into the last days of the cult's members who had left the U.S. to settle in the Guyanese jungle. What started as a peace movement in San Francisco eneded with the murder of a U.S. Congressman, Leo Ryan, an NBC crew, and of course, 914 church members. Though the term "mass suicide" has been used to describe the mayhem of Jonestown, it turns out many of the church's members were killed by their fellow worshippers.

And I got to thinking, as I often do, about how any wacko can brandish a "God Stamp" and get people to renounce their humanity in the name of "faith."

One man who escaped Jonestown and survived the ambush that killed the Congressman left his four-year-old son behind, still thinking that he would be in better hands with the People's Temple. The Advocate ran an interview with him in 2003 in which we learn that the Jones cult was the only church that marry him, a white closeted man, and his African-American girlfriend. I found myself hating him for being so stupid, but then again, that's what cults are supposed to do, make you stupid.

It was, understandably, hard for me to pick up and make our planned salmon dinner, so James and I had to talk about the film just so I won't have nightmares about it tonight. This turned into me standing up for the Jehovah's Witnesses who are, unfairly, labeled a cult. And I don't know why the converation went there, but having just seen what cults really do, and knowing that sometimes the JW's get a bad rap, I just felt like saying that my time with them was very positive and even the coming out process was full of love and understanding (and yes, offers to pray for my gay to go away). I spent a lot of time trying to teach people about God, Jesus, hope -- but it was always upbeat, it was never "the man is out to get us, drink up and die now." So I had to put that out there because I'm still a man of faith and it scares me when faith can get twisted around to spawn evil.

Anyway, purge yourselves of the images of Jonestown and look at the other face of faith. You can even pray for celebrities -- which is more in line with the Bible than killing people.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

To All the Girls I've Loved Before

I know I want to write about women tonight, but I'm not sure what, exactly, I want to say. And why am I thinking about women anyway? Maybe the Slut-o-ween festivities have gotten the best of me or I'm intrigued by Cristina Kirchner, President-elect of Argentina. But I've been doing a lot of thinking since Friday about the special relationship between gay men and women.

I'm not into vajayjay, but I go through three, four, twenty female crushes a week. Last Friday I was at a housewarming party and couldn't stop talking to James after we left about one guest whose stilettos, smart cocktail dress, intoxicating perfume (Eau des Merveilles; I had to ax)and equally captivating conversation had me swooning. I'm also three years into what I think is a relationship most similar to that of my parents with a coworker-cum-best-friend who abuses me, chides my wardrobe choices and torments my dreams whenever our personalities get to be too much and we stop talking. And just recently, a gay friend and I came to the conclusion that supermodel vajayjay is not the same as real vajayjay which means that enough Dom P and the right Fischerspooner remix could make a slip permissable and forgivable.

Somehow I don't see GCL slippin'.

Well, maybe for Gisele.

Anyway, women.

I did a Google search for gay + vagina and I got a whole lot of Tranny Talk.

Political Commentary: I love all people but I often wonder how T for Tranny found it's way into my queer alphabet soup. I quote Creative Loafing: "What [do] I as a gay man have in common with a man who wants to cut off his penis, surgically construct a vagina, and become a woman. I'm not passing judgment, I respect transgendered people and sympathize with their cause, but I simply don't get how I am just as closely related to a transsexual (who is often not gay) as I am to a lesbian (who is). Is it wrong for me to simply ask why?"

And it's a serious question now that several gay groups are not supporting a workplace protection act for gays and lesbians on the basis that it excludes protection for the transgendered community.

Eek. That's rough. A few years ago people didn't think I deserved any rights, so if I'm two steps ahead of the game now, maybe I should help those left behind catch up?

To my chagrin, my ribald Google search didn't yield anything on vagina dentata either. VD (hee hee), or fear of the toothed vajayjay, is not, as I suspected, keeping gay men from sticking their penaynays(?)where "God wanted them to for reproduction."

My search did lead me to the article I just cited above from the Southern Voice about a group of protestors who descend on the campuses of Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Kennesaw State University to blast Gays, Lesbians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and masturbation (in that order). And what I loved about the article is this quote from one protestor: We’re out here for the liars, the thieves, the adulterers too. We’re out here for everybody.

Um, you know who he's quoting, right? Yeah, the Apostle John, but it's really MA-friggin-DONNA. Her reading of the book of Revelation at the opening of the Reinvention Tour is on my Stairmaster playlist and that part of about thieves (thump) adulterers (thump) and (thump) all (thump) liars (thump, thump, thump) gets me to the 300+ calories burned mark.

So that's my spiel on gay men, women and the space between the two.

Political Commentary: Just because I'm going soft (hee hee) for the fairer sex doesn't mean I'm becoming a PHG.

General Commentary:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where the Hood At?

Gayborhoods are going the way of Ashanti's career (yes, music AND acting), and the New York Times is leading the funeral dirge with an article that is, as of 10:55pm, the most e-mailed piece of the day.

Citing the cancellation of the Halloween parade in San Francisco's Castro district as another nail in the coffin of gay enclaves (aka the first sign of the Apocalypse: sodomites will no longer don costumes for the entertainment of straight people), the Times also points to the rise of gay communities in less urban areas, like Fort Worth and Louisville as the evolution of the gay real estate pioneer.

So is the gay enclave dead? Did Starbucks and Pottery Barn deal the final blow to West Hollywood, the Castro and Chelsea? Or did the gays decide for themselves that it's time to leave the block and get all Green Acres on America?

Whatever the case may be, I still mourn the loss of The Big Cup here in Chelsea. Think Central Perk with long picnic tables and plush (though gross) sofas pressed up against a window looking out on the Champs de Slee-Zay (Eighth Avenue). I think it's the first gay boite I ever went to (with my mom, no less). But now it's a flower shop. Next to a hat store. Next to a T-shirt store. Next to a Pinkberry. Next to another T-shirt store. Next to Starbucks. Across the street from a condo development where studios start at $2 million. And my view of the Empire State Building is now gone.

For me, though, the gayborhood is still alive. I see it at 6:30am when I think I'm the only guy walking to the gym, and then I see five gorgeous men jogging to their AM workouts. I see it when I hop a cab down from my office in Times Square and wind up at Barracuda, where no one cares what my name is but the drinks are good and the boys are packed wall-to-wall. I know Chelsea, the Chelsea I first encountered as a teen in the late 90s, is still here because James and I (picture above, to the left, to the left, walking down Ninth Avenue) can hold hands while shopping for lattes, towel racks and t-shirts up and down Eighth Avenue.

Except when there are hot joggers passing through.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm Never Going to Jamaica...Here's Why

I want to be like Anne Frank and be all "yeah, there's good in everyone," but when it comes to Jamaica, I want to indulge my cynical, entitled New Yorker and say that every time I hear about that island I am convinced that they are a backward, evil little nation.

And that's saying something in a world where Iraq, Iran, China and Sudan exist.

But I'm singling Jamaica out because they wouldn't matter in the world if it weren't for their obstinate view on homosexuality. They could coast along on the world scene as a sunny beach destination; instead, their popular culture, even their politicians, promote an almost comedic homophobic stance that unnecessarily hinders the country's tourism industry.

That an all-but-starving country focuses so much of its collective energy on hating a fragment of their population would be laughable were it not for the fact that many, many gay and lesbian Jamaicans have been attacked and killed by angry mobs.

In thinking about islands I've been to: Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, I see that Jamaica has a lot of work to do. Naturally, I think public relations is the answer to world's problems, but even here, the Jamaican government keeps putting its best foot in its mouth instead of forward.

Check out this opinion piece that ran in the Jamaica Observer in June of this year in response to an organization that pulled its annual convention from Jamaica because of the country's poor human rights record:

What with an overworked police force, a clogged up judicial system, a cloak of corruption and crime and cronyism, some slick-talking criminal lawyers and a tacit "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" code of conduct, there's hardly any law that is actively enforced in Jamaica. In addition to which we tend to drag things out for a very long time in the court system.

In short, Jamaica is dangerous for everyone and the wanton violence on the island isn't gay-specific, it's just a way of life.


To sweeten the pot, Out Traveler featured the following comments from the Jamaica Tourism Board's publicist in response to the country's homophobic reputation: "individual vacationers of all stripes are welcome to the English-speaking isle, but they "are encouraged to respect Jamaican laws and community standards and take common sense measures to enhance their travel experience."

That's double-speak for "GCL, leave your Gucci bag and fab physique home."

For these reasons, and for the fact that there are more Caribbean islands than I can count (though non counts more than Puerto Rico), Jamaica can stay ignorant and deprived of the pink dollar. Hmph.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

People Who Belong Behind Bars

The lady on the left is Virginia Vallejo, Colombian TV host and Pablo Escobar's former lover.

Vallejo has a book about her affair with the drug lord called "Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar" (Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar). How deep, how ironic -- wait a minute, if she was in his pants at a time when he was bombing airliners, killing police officers, civilians and presidential candidates, doesn't that make her an accomplice to Escobar's crimes?

Well, no. She's a refugee. A refugee-cum-author-and-political-pundit to be precise. Vallejo is telling anyone who will listen -- and given the abysmal state of Spanish TV in the States that's a lot of people -- that Colombia's president is complicit in the country's drug trade.

Though the link above is to an article in Spanish, the choice quote from the piece is from Vallejo herself, who "is disgusted with her country because it forgives anyone except those who tell the truth."

I couldn't agree more. See, when Colombia set out to purge itself of the cartels (and hand the drug trade over to Leftist insurgents) it failed to prosecute the peripheral characters in Escobar's coterie. And that includes people like Vallejo.

Which means she's free to reminisce on her romance with a monster who killed thousands of people -- if this isn't pissing you off yet just ask yourself how the world would react if Eva Braun were alive today and penned a memoir called "Loving Adolf, Hating Hitler."

Sadly, I find myself Hating the Author, Wanting to Read the Book.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Take Your Award and Shut Up

I just hope Al Gore doesn't flip out with his Nobel Prize and start spewing this kind of nonsense:

Nobel laureate Doris Lessing said the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States were "not that terrible" when compared to attacks by the IRA in Britain.

"September 11 was terrible, but if one goes back over the history of the IRA, what happened to the Americans wasn't that terrible," the Nobel Literature Prize winner told the leading Spanish daily El Pais.

"Some Americans will think I'm crazy. Many people died, two prominent buildings fell, but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think. They're a very naive people, or they pretend to be," she said in an interview published Sunday.

GCL says:

You know what, bitch? It's like, you're on your deathbed and life threw you a bone. Suck it and shut up. No one cares about your thoughts on the IRA, 9-11 or pubic hair.

Would love to hear what Doris has to say about the slave trade versus the holocaust, or the Khmer Rouge versus the current situation in Myanmar. Are the Turks guilty of genocide or not?

This is why you can't be nice to old people.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gays Who Read "The Advocate" and Support Hillary Like Abusive Relationships

The Advocate has sunk to a new sycophantic low with its October story on Hillary Clinton. According to writer Sean Kennedy, it's OK that Hil is a megalomaniac who speaks out of both sides of her mouth. All's good because homegirl has an amazing wardrobe: "Indeed, mere moments before, she was wowing the crowd at the Logo–Human Rights Campaign Democratic presidential forum on LGBT issues in Los Angeles, in spite of her evasions on same-sex marriage. Maybe it was the way she looked, resplendent in a coral jacket and chic black pants."

Yes, Sean, gays, like Karen Walker once said, will buy anything so long as it's shiny. And that includes a warmongering candidate who can't fully commit to the issues that impact a huge segment of her voter block.

But Sean's stupid article got me to thinking about the kinds of gays who support Hillary. My conclusion on the matter is that PHG's (Pro-Hillary-Gays) are a bunch of whiney leftist idiots who drunk dial/text their ex-boyfriends while surfing Manhunt, and Craig's List. They love abuse -- in the form of overpriced drinks at "it" gay boites, sky-high-priced denim and knock-off Kelly bags (which are a steal at $250, I guess, but still, it's a knock-off), and a candidate who will do nothing for them when she gets into power.

But journalism is still alive and well and relevant. The same week I got The Advocate in the mail I also got New York magazine and was treated to an insightful article on the making of today's Hillanator. Funny, with facts and no mention of Hillary's fashion choices I came away understanding, and (gasp) liking her a little more. John Heilemann explores Hillary and Barack's law school days, at Yale and Harvard respectively, and paints a portrait of an unstoppable, ambitious and already over-accomplished Hillary. It was in law school where Hillary learned to make choices, and sacrifices, for her notion of the greater good. Get the power any way you can, then effect change. So goes Hillary's mantra, rational if not noble.

And that, Sean Kennedy, is how you write a story about a presidential candidate. If your readers can capture their essence in one sentence then you've done your job of humanizing these characters. Surrounding them in fluff prose makes us hate them, and unnecessarily, you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Damn Those Gay Nazis

In case you were wondering, the Nazis were the original Village People. Before Stonewall, before Will & Grace, before Jay Manuel, the Nazis were sprinkling fairy genocide dust all over Europe. Because that's what the gay mind does, it kills people.

So says one Scott Lively, Christian-demagogue-extraordinaire, in his book The Pink Swastika

Need I remind you what happens when the ramblings of a madman find their way into the hands of other madmen?

Having found American bigots to be a bunch of sissies, Lively has mobilized an Eastern-European cluster of Pentecostal churches in the Sacramento area to form "The Watchmen on the Wall." The Watchmen, made up of Russian, Latvian and Ukranian immimgrants, are a hate group. And they also blatanly infringe on trademarks seeing as the official web site for The Watchmen belongs to some peace-loving pro-Israel Christian group.

The real issue with the trademark-infringing version of The Watchmen, however, is that they're turning violent: in August of this year members of the group beat a gay man in his 20s to death.

Of course, Lively hasn't stepped out to condemn the attack.

That didn't piss me off. This did: Lively is the former head of the California Chapter of the American Family Association, a right wing group who was praised by President Bush for its fight against abortion rights. God bless a bunch of clinic-bombing homophobes, indeed.

And there you have it. The axis of hate isn't this abstract concept and hodgepodge of crackpots from across the U.S., it's a very well-funded entity that counts on the support of our current administration.

(I hope) You've heard that speech about speaking out against injustice because at some point you're gonna need someone to speak out for you.

It should scare everyone that the former Red Menace is now some weirdly-gay-obsessed hate group that has the ear of the White House. It's not the Nazis, gay or straight, that we should be worried about. It's these pseudo-Christians, their deep pockets, and the bigots they've brought to power.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

If Only It Were About Movies

Not even sure why I'm writing about this, after all, the Iraq war -- Operation Iraqi Freedom to those wearing flag pins while minding Fox News -- has played out in the mainstream press like a tiptoe through the tulips. But the fact of the matter is that the death count in Iraq is soaring and some of our troops have done some very un-American things. Hey, war can make you do some crazy things.

And that's the premise behind director Brian De Palma's film, Redacted, which explores the cover up of the rape and murder of an Iraqi teen and her family at the hands of American troops.

From Reuters:

Director Brian De Palma is fighting battles on two fronts for his gritty Iraq war movie "Redacted," blasting the film's distributor and taking incoming fire from right-wing pundits.

He told a New York Film Festival audience late Wednesday that Magnolia Pictures forced him to black out the faces in a montage of real photos that runs at the end of the film.

"The irony of all this is that even though everyone (in Iraq) has a digital camera and access to the Internet, somehow we don't see any of these images," De Palma said. "Why are things being redacted? My own film was redacted."

My two cents: This war isn't going to end anytime soon. And that means that more rapes, more killing of civilians at the hands of overpaid security contractors and more Abu Ghraibs are on the horizon. We can also expect for this administration to continue to try to silence any effort to expose the horrors of this war.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Spent the weekend in Miami so it's only fitting that I write a 305-centric post.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara. He whose image is the stencil for prepubescent rebellion, he who spearheaded Fidel Castro's coup d'etat in the 1950s to throw Cuba into a communist dictatorship, is being honored by leftist governments in Latin America -- more so, I suspect, for his standing up against the U.S. than for his communist ideals.

Interestingly enough, I heard nothing of the anniversary of Che's death down here. A local TV show dedicated to the ex-pat Cuban community instead featured a discussion on the life and times of Pedro Luis Boitel, a Cuban dissident who died during a hunger strike against Castro in the early 70s. This was followed by a trip to Versailles, the epicenter of the anti-Castro community here in Miami, where a plaque was recently unveiled in honor of the restaurant's status as an institution in the fight against Castro's regime.

It's funny how the story of the Cuban revolution has been hijacked by two figures, one of whom is dead, the other on his deathbed. Behind these two men are thousands of individuals who have fought, and continue to fight, for freedoms their country hasn't seen for the better part of a century.

Monday, October 01, 2007

China Ain't at the End of the Rainbow

I'm a big fan of Thomas Friedman, the op-ed columnist at the New York Times. And I really like his piece in today's paper about redefining the impact of 9/11 on our society. I'll spare you the summary, read it here, it's well worth it.

But in describing an America that I very much want to see, one that focuses on possibility and openness, Friedman draws a parallel between our current state of affairs (yes, it sucks to live in the Bush 2 era) and China's. In short, in spite of its government's shortcomings, China's mobile phone infrastructure is a marvel we should aspire to.

And that's when he lost me.

Communism doesn't work. Which isn't to say that torture does either, so I agree with Friedman that Gitmo has got to go. But turning it into a hospital for poor Cubans? (I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans.) I thought everyone got primo healthcare in Cuba. That's what Michael Moore said.

I don't think China or Cuba represent anything we as a society should aspire to. The New York Times is vying for another Pullitzer with their gay-porn titled series "Choking on Growth" which chronicles China's abysmal environmental practices. We all know that both China and Cuba have sent scores of political dissidents to prison and that both countries have poor track records when dealing with public health issues.

The fact of the matter is that Red doesn't work. Whether it's communism or republicanism, both ideologies are entrenched in a myopic, inhumane view of the world.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

GCL Is Human, Too

He ages like everyone else. See for yourself.

The Concession Stand

In case my opinion on politicians' flip-flopping ways isn't enough, check out today's Daily News and Washingon Post.

Both articles highlight the obvious: we're in the final stretch of the party nomination race. That means the candidates are doing everything and anything to make a mark. Mama Rose said it best: you gotta get a gimmick.

But this race is going to come down to two things: the war and family values. We saw this in 1980 when Reagan came to power and ushered in TWELVE years of Republican rule. Americans want a leader who can bomb a village and make it home in time for dinner and Sunday service with the wife and kids. An armed-to-the-teeth Ward Cleaver if you will.

And neither Hillary nor Rudy, the front runners in this race, fit that model. That's why they're at the concession stand, making excuses for their personal beliefs just to stay in the running. I fear that someone a little more straight forward and under the radar can steal this race from both of these guys. That's not a morning I would want to wake up to.

Old-school joint of the day:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Folsom Street: Last Supper Indeed

From my girls at Jezebel: The gays have pissed off well-intentioned war-mongering Christians yet again with an ad for the Folsom Street Fair.

To promote the yearly leather fest, Leonardo DaVinci's The Last Supper was recreated to depict a bunch of gays before a table of sex toys. Dangerous sex toys if I might add.

The hardcore Christians are saying that if you can't mock Mohammed you can't mock Jesus.

Fair enough, I guess.

But here's the thing. Ask any Gucci-bag-toting, career-minded, skinny-jeans-wearing, self-and-cardio-obsessed queen in his 20s here in New York about the Folsom Street Fair and you're going to get a look of shock, awe and disbelief.

Kudos to Susan Jones at Cybercast News Service for her to-the-point headline about the controversial ad: "Homosexuals Mock 'Last Supper' With Sex-Toys Twist." But guess what, Suz, this homosexual aint never been to Folsom Street and he certainly has better things to do than mock the Last Supper.

Either I've gone soft or I'm just too busy with my life to care either way about EGS (Extreme Gay Sex), but in short, I think the Folsom Street Fair is the last thing the Christian Right needs to worry about. Instead of worrying about the mocking of a painting why don't they worry about that "thou shalt not kill" commandment they keep on breaking when they support the war in Iraq?

At the same time, I do see a lot of anger at Christianity in this ad. There isn't a need to promote S&M by mocking what many, including myself, believe to be the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It's a repetitive cycle of hate and recrimination...

Me, I'm Christian and I'm gay. My only plea to my fellow gays is to leave Jesus alone. Go and hate the Pope and anybody else you think has wronged you, but Jesus is love and it's unnecessary to bring him into the same conversation as this that and the other.

One choice that does come easy for me, though, is the choice between normal sex and dangerous sex. I mean, take a good look at the ad for the fair -- they've got rubber fists and all sorts of painful-looking stuff that can wreak major havoc on delicate male orificies. Is that my cup of tea? No. And it doesn't float the boat of the gays I hang with either.

To purge my head of all this useless garbage I'm listening to and watching this:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Something You Can Play With

I thought I was on team Barack, but the results of an online quiz at place me on team Kucinich. Huh?

Who's your dream candidate?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two Guys In New York

One favors Prada suits, the other favors capital punishment as sport. One wants to be America's friend, the other has engaged in combat against American troops. One has all but declared war on the other.

And both will appear before the United Nations this week to make a case for their country's relevance in the world. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already sparked a new Right Left debate by being scheduled to appear at Columbia University on Monday -- how dare an institution of higher learning engage one of the most controversial figures of our time in a debate, on American soil, about his policy? (Without the risk of anyone being hung for asking the wrong kind of question either)

On the other hand French President Nicholas Sarkozy is the subject of a glowing profile in today's New York Times, and his address before the UN this week is expected to mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship between France and the U.S.

This is what I love about New York. History is happening here, right now, and our citizens and press are exercising their right to speak up, not only for and against our leaders, but against foreign leaders who want to come and talk policy here. Ahmadinejad has taken up the tabloids' attention, and the headlines have been priceless, especially over his request to lay a wreath at Ground Zero.

Do I think Ahmadinejad belongs at Ground Zero? No.

Do I think he should be allowed to speak at Columbia? Absolutely. I think we're especially privileged as a city to show off how freedom of speech works. Every anti-Semitic, homophobic, anti-American statement the Iranian President makes, I trust, will be met with a thoughtful and fact-based retort by the students and faculty of Columbia University. We're doing a favor to the people of Iran by showing their leader that dissent is a good thing, a thing that need not be punished by death and torture.

And should Sarkozy and Ahmadinejad cross paths, the French leader should make a case for metrosexuality. Hair product and sartorial awareness are nothing to fear either.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Egg on My Face

And yet another candidate I was sort of interested in has lost any hope of winning my vote in the 08 elections. This time around Rudy Giuliani disavowed the great work he did for New York by way of gun control just to please a couple of trigger-happy right wing nut jobs in the middle of nowhere.

OK, I gave Rudy a major plug and said I'd vote for him. But not anymore. I feel so let down.

Rudy tried to assuage the gun lobby's fears that the "right" to own deadly weapons, even in spite of the "war on terror" and the deaths caused by guns, will be taken away if he comes into office.

That's just disgusting. But what can you expect from a smarmy individual who dumped his wife and kids to shack up with a modern-day Evita?

This is what I get for being open-minded and looking beyond party lines. No vote for Rudy. Which doesn't mean I'm voting for Hillary either. Team Barack here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On the Jena 6

Martin Luther King Jr. never advocated stomping your opponents to near death. And yet his image looms large over the protests in Jena, a small town in Louisiana, where the descision by an all-white jury to try six black teens as adults for the beating of a white classmate has brought kerosene and fire together under the leadership of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The Lede blog at the New York Times sums it up: some racist white kids had a "whites only" tree, a black kid broke convention, and then nooses sprung up. No one can argue that that is brazen intimidation.

Implied violence, however, is one thing. Beating up a fellow student is another. And that's what six black students did.

This is not a civil rights issue. This is not a throwback to the Civil Rights Movement. This is tucked-under-the-rug ignorance that black and white politicians don't care about because these groups exist on the fringe of more developed, urban communities. None of these folks matter to us in the big city, nor do our laws of civility matter to them.

I grew up getting called "faggot" by every other guy on my block in Brooklyn. It hurt. And I remember wishing all sorts of horrible things on my tormentors, but it mostly revolved around me sentencing them all to decapitation on the set of the Oprah show. Alas, not every fairy's dreams come true.

My point is that violence is not the answer. And the "Jena 6" are not martyrs, they're messed up kids who need guidance, correction, and yes, jail time. True, the justice system in the South has condoned the killings of countless of innocent black people through the present day. Does that mean, then, that we just apply justice to the degree that the media is willing to investigate the actions of our lawmakers?

And does a history of botched justice set a precedent for lax laws for the descendants of people who have been wronged by the legal system? Is that why OJ Simpson continues to piss all over the law?

I think all of these kids are a bunch of punks that need correction. And shame on the politicians and talking heads that are playing the victimized colored people card for ratings. The Jena 6 belong in jail and so do the kids who hung the nooses from the trees.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Revolution Will Be Blogged About

Interesting article in today's Washington Post about the low turnout to pro and anti war rallies in Washington. Clearly the blogosphere is atwitter with opinions about the (massive failure and waste of money and human life) war in Iraq, but online ranting and raving do not a March on Washington make.

And it's not because people don't care. It's because most Americans want to talk about the issues affecting our country in a somewhat civilized fashion (at a cocktail party, at the DMV, during a job interview or during a business lunch)not around the likes of these folks:

Note: Images property of The Victory Caucus.

It's hard to tell these yahoos apart isn't it?

It's unfortunate to see those upside down flags -- I grew up being told to respect our flag even if I wasn't supposed to salute it. Being anti-war isn't the same as being anti-American. At the same time, what exactly would we be surrendering to by leaving Iraq? Common sense?

I don't like fanaticism and these rallies just bring out the crazies from both sides of the political fence. Not that the Internet is all tea and biscuits either, but here, at least, crazy comes with a "sign off" option.

And when I do sign off, I go about my way gay day. Have a look:

Breakfast of champions -- James and I are dieting post-cruise and pre-Miami. Egg whites for him, half a bagel for me.

Tyra Mail!

Gay church, then off to the opera to catch La Boheme. $25 seats! And now that James and I aren't eating anymore, this is the cheapest date we've ever been on.

Of course, I can stop eating til you can see my heart beating through my shirt, but I don't know if I'll ever look like this:

Fortunately, autumn is sorta here. And everyone looks good in layers.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Where my girls at

James says he can't listen to his iPod while walking down the street because he's afraid of walking into a taxi. Not me. I rock it out while I walk it out. And it's usually to something millions of people in Latin America have heard on our version of American Idol -- Cantando Por Un Sue~no. Instead of singing for a record deal, though, people sing to have cancerous tumors removed or to have siamese twins separated.

If this isn't your speed, try this .

Some of Y'alls Are Comin' Home

So said W to the nation tonight in what no spin master can dub as anything but an admission that the war in Iraq is not worth the continued loss of life and erosion of America's influence as a force of peace and change.

On the one hand, great for the soldiers who are coming back home and for those who won't be sent back. But what about those who didn't come back? And I mean the dead as well as the maimed.

For many on the Right, troop withdrawl reeks of surrender. For those of us who were opposed to this war in the first place, it just screams bloody murder. Why the hell did we send thousands of young men and women to die in a place that doesn't want our help? Why was 9-11 used as an excuse to bomb Iraq when our best friends the Saudis were the ones behind the attacks on New York and Washington?

And you know what kills me? This generation's kids are probably going to backpack through Baghdad and Basra and will read about this war in their Lonely Planet guide book with no idea about the anguish its put us all through. At some point our nation's attention will shift from Iraq and our military prowess will be focused on a new enemy. Who will it be? Venezuela? Iran? Sudan? Everyone except heterosexual WASPs?

The troop withdrawl doesn't mark anything except the slow diversion of our own over-funded military to another target. Watch out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When You Believe

As a person of faith, it's hard to process the events of the day without wondering what God thinks about all the mayhem down here.

That's my big, naive question on the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. I could go into my thoughts about the MoveOn debacle (but it would only matter to crazy right wingers) or I could give kudos to Barack Obama for calling for the return of our troops from Iraq, but what I really want to know is where is this world headed?

Differing points of view on "God's plan" for mankind have left millions dead and billions more confused. (If) God is love, how much longer will it take for him to set the record straight on what he wants from us (if he wants anything at all)? Someone has to be on to something here, so who is it? Is it the jihadists? Is it the Christian right?

These questions are bigger, and more important, than our pithy elections and our over-publicized culture war. There are many points of view on how God wants us to live our lives, and these are all shaping the world we live in today.

Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we just got the facts straight up from the man in charge?

Friday, September 07, 2007