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.