Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guns and Knives Don’t Kill People, Gays Do

Don’t you just love the conservative agenda? Whenever violence involving guns happens, the ultra-right wing NRA takes to the streets of whatever town the tragedy takes place in, and with no regard to the relationship between guns and violence, touts Americans’ rights to bear arms. Because one never knows when the British are going to attack us again. At the same time, the murder of an ABC radio reporter here in New York last week, allegedly at the hands of a sixteen-year-old with a penchant for knives and Satanism, has given anti-gay groups the jolt of validation it needs to proclaim that yes, rampant promiscuity in the gay community can only have one violent, deadly end. So sayeth the Lord, no?

I’ll be the first to admit that it's unseemly to troll the internet looking for rough, cocaine-fueled sex with strangers. Still, in the case of George Weber, the murdered man who will be remembered not as a respected journalist but as a pervert who engaged in sex with minors, the indictments are all aimed at him and not at the tech-savvy teen who had likely been drinking and doping up long before he crossed paths with Weber. But that isn’t the point, really. The point the conservative, anti-gay groups would like to make is that this is “part and parcel of the gay lifestyle.”

Nevermind, for instance, that the spate of family homicides in the U.S. – you know, those ghastly stories of men killing their wives, children and then themselves – have been perpetrated by otherwise upstanding, heterosexual men. These are isolated incidents, right? No one would say that they’re the product of festering homicidal tendencies that all heterosexual people harbor within. Well, I would – just to illustrate how stupid and self-serving such a statement would be.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fun Times at GLAAD Media Awards

Being gay, even in Barack’s America, is a lot of work. I realized this over the weekend as James and I soaked in the A-gayness of the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards here in New York and sat through moving speeches by celebs (Tyra! Suze Orman! Phil Donohue!) and up-and-coming leaders who work to promote “fair, accurate and inclusive representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people” across all media. As I’ve said before on this blog, between the skinny jeans look-at-me-and-how-smart-I-am ways of New York and the white-capped-teeth, too-cool-for-school blitheness of Los Angeles, there are a lot of Americans who get their depictions of gays and lesbians from their churches, elected officials, and –gasp – the Fox News Channel. What that means is that, for every negative, stereotypical depiction of an LGBT person in a newspaper cartoon or for every speech by a member of our government denigrating the legitimacy of a same-sex partnership, an American stands to lose the full benefit of citizenship: employment, access to healthcare, the right to care for their partner when they are ill.

This was impressed upon me during a speech by the former Executive Director of GLAAD who said that the work of civil rights movements isn’t to bring a group over from the wrong side of equality, but to erase that divide altogether. So it was great to hear Phil Donohue talk about the importance of introducing LGBT stories into America’s living rooms when he first took to the airwaves in 1967, or Tyra Banks talk about how she relates to LGBT discrimination because not every casting director used to think she was that fierce, or Suze Orman who said she was always out, proud and perma-tanned. “I’ve. Always. Been. Out! That. Is. Not. News!” I was also struck by the fact that, beyond the parties, GLAAD is a nimble media machine that isn’t just looking for face time with Hollywood celebs, but is actually going toe-to-toe with conservative media outlets to call out biases against the LGBT community. Case in point: as soon as the NY Post cartoon depicting a dead monkey/President(?) came out, the organization was ready to address the right-wing newspaper’s past offenses against other minority groups, specifically gays.

You would think that a gathering of politically active gays and their friends in the “elite, liberal media” would be a raucous, Republican-bashing affair. But it wasn’t. With all the good work that’s been done in the past year – even in spite of setbacks like Proposition 8 and anti-adoption legislation introduced in Arkansas – the mood was hopeful and celebratory. As mistress of ceremonies, comedienne Kate Clinton pointed out, it seems the gays are thrilled to be out of the abusive relationship that was the Bush administration and in the arms of Barack Obama (though I did want to point out that our newly elected president isn’t in favor of gay marriage either).

The evening’s highlight for me: a quick chat with Boricua actress Ana Ortiz from Ugly Betty. Another fab latina who was so nice to yours truly – as soon as I mentioned that we went to the same high school she threw her arms around me, yakked away in Spanish, and posed for two pictures (the first one sucked). James and I then meandered to the Absolut Mango-sponsored after-party where we were next to another Ugly Betty star, Michael Urie. I did want to mention that his character’s mixed-matched shirt and tie combos on the show inspire my own look, but really, why the hell would he have cared? Incidentally, I had my mango-infused vodka on the rocks with a twist of lime. I don’t remember how I got home.

Pix and vids below: one is the first part of Tyra’s acceptance speech for her award, and the other is a performance by the House of Ninja.

Note: Special thanks to my friend and colleague Holly Fussell for being a lovely hostess and our in for the evening's festivities.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Build Em' Up, Tear Em' Down

What I love about the post that I'm about to write is that I get to pull a Nelson Muntz on all those people who have accused me about being a wishy-washy Democrat. Yes, I had lots to say about Barack Obama right up until election day, but since then, I've been very supportive of our new leader. But the rest of the "media elite," and those ultra-liberal braggarts in their American Apparel Obama T-shirts who were really just saying :how-cool-am-I-for-voting-for-the-black-guy" well, they're pulling a reverse-GCL.

Check out today's NY Daily News where political reporter Mike Lupica calls out president Obama for being too much of an Every Man with his appearances on the Tonight Show, ESPN and pretty much anywhere else that you're likely to draw an audience of over one person. Lupica, with the headline "Hey President Obama, the campaign is over - forget the popularity contest," calls out the new president for being "overexposed."

Now, y'all know I invented exaggeration, but that last claim is a little much even for me. I mean, the guy is the president of the U.S. - if he were a recluse brainiac holed up in the Oval Office he'd be flogged for being out of touch and for rescinding on his campaign promise of transparent, accessible government.

Meanwhile, chances are your mom is on Twitter right now expressing her opinion about Obama's reference to the Special Olympics regarding his poor bowling game.

This ill-advised comment comes in the middle of that pesky global economic crisis, which is all his fault - and depending on which media you're consuming - a continuation of Bill Clinton's reckless equal opportunity lending.

Describing the experience of living in the presidential bubble, Obama sums up the public scrutiny in terms that ordinary Americans can understand: being president is like being on American Idol, except every is Simon Cowell. At least the man can laugh at himself, and you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Decriminalize Homosexuality. Sure, Why Not?

From ABC News: "The Obama administration said today it will sign on to a United Nations declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world."

I appreciate the gesture, but it's an empty one. Defending their support of the declaration, a State department official said that signing it "commits us to no legal obligations." In other words, people of California, Arkansas, or anywhere else where you should decide that homosexuality should become a government issue, this declaration is just a nice to-do that we really have no intention of supporting with progressive legislation.

That such a statement should even have to be made just proves that we still have a long way to go in this country when it comes to ensuring equal rights for all citizens.

I totally understand that the economy needs a-fixin' and there are two wars going on. The gays can (sort of) wait. But if you're going to make sweeping, international gestures claiming your commitment to human rights, then have some intention of following through. And I simply don't think the Obama administration is in a position to do that right now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Would McCain be Doing a Better Job Right Now?

It's terribly fun to be a Republican these days. Our nation's newly elected democrat president, aka "that one" with a funny last name, seems to be messing up the economy within his first 100 days in office and our country is likely to face another terrorist attack. Bonus!

What I want to know is, would John McCain be doing a better job right now? Which of the nation's endless checklist of problems would the republican candidate have tacked off in his single-task-focused management style? As the country smarts at the thought of AIG doling out bonuses with tax payers' money, would the conservative right have applauded the promotion of capitalism, even in the wake of disaster, had McCain been signing the checks?

Conservatives are staging "tea parties" throughout the country in protest of the Obama administration's stimulus plan. Kudos for the nod to history, but, um, where have these folks been for the past eight years? Did Obama's ascent to the presidency also bring with it the global financial crisis or was trouble brewing (get it?) before? Nevermind the money that has been poured into the war in Iraq or the spend-a-dollar- save-America ethic promoted by George Bush after 9-11, today's economic downturn is all the dems' doing.

How. convenient.

Republicans and conservatives aren't the only people affected by the recession and they're certainly not the only ones who are appalled by the abuses of big government spending and corporate greed. But if they choose to believe that this issue just happened as divine retribution for our country's newly found liberal ways, well then, my friends, you're mistaken. We're all in this together, so buck up and let's let our new president at least try to fix this problem and let's save the recriminations at least until the end of the year.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Spectacle of a Dying Mother

Over the past two weeks I've jetted between London and Puerto Vallarta. Between the two most disparate destinations on the planet- between chilly days and pints of ale, sunshine and margaritas, US Weekly and The Sun- I found a thread of commonality that cuts right through the heart of the UK and Mexico.

The spectacle of a dying mother is the ultimate tonic for the masses who crave the three C's of morbid, fetishistic entertainment: cancer, children, and celebrity. In the UK, Jade Goody, a reality TV star known for her by-the-bootstraps rise to pop culture relevance, is waging a very public, and depending on who you ask, heroic/tasteless final coup on cervical cancer. Sadly, the TV starlet isn't expected to live much longer (as I write this post some news outlets report that Jade has hours to live), so she's done what any reality TV star would do with their dying breaths and hired a celeb publicist and sold the rights to her wedding last month. OK! Magazine published photos of Jade's sobbing children, dressed in tuxes, under a hot pink headline "Heartbreaking Photos!" Along the way, she got kudos for her hustle from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

In Mexico, dead mamas mean lots of pesos at the box office. Every year around Mother's Day Univision plays a film from the 80s called Mama Soy Paquito (Mama, I'm Paquito) the story of a beggar child on the streets of Acapulco who has to step his game up after his mama dies of cancer. In an effort to win his aristocrat father's love, Paquito comes up with all kinds of songs to charm tourists, but the one he sings every night, to his mom, is Mama Soy Paquito, where he promises to be a good boy, even if he tires of scouring garbage for food, if the howling dogs at night scare him and his father loves him not.

Check it:

If the popular pejorative term for reality TV content is "car crash," let's not forget the death of Princess Diana, who not only gave us a car crash, but a dead mother, a dead Princess, two motherless sons, a man to scorn and a conspiracy to chew over until the end of time.

No matter where you are in the world, the idea of a mother leaving this world before her children, and the void that creates both in her family and in society, is the more noble explanation for the attention devoted to this particular phenomenon in pop culture. But it's a car crash nonetheless and all of us, in spite of ourselves, are brazen rubber neckers.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Green sludge in London

Apologies in advance for not embedding links in this post but am on a Blackberry and just spouting thoughts.so, kids, be good boys and girls and look up the stories and vids I suggest below.

Very well. The news of the day here in London is the sludge attack on Lord Mandelson, a member of parliament, by an environmental activist. Homegirl just walked up to the guy and threw green liquid on him in protest over the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport. Know what the cops did? Nothing. Some skinny guy sheepishly shooed her away and said "go away now, come on."

Um. Where the guns at?

Sidebar: Lord Mandelson is gay, which I only found out from a colleague. You know in the States it'd be "Gay Politico Attacked."

Anyway. I'm all about civil disobedience - I wear paisley and plaid with no compunction, afterall. But attacking people just aint right.

In an age when simple gestures can roil countries into war (think of the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark), civility must reign supreme in political debate. I'm surprised that the great Iraq Shoe Debacle didn't result in yet another surge in Iraq.

The slippery slope of fanaticism, while great for headlines and morning news bits, can be a dangerous thing. I don't want this act to set a precedent for assaulting politicians- especially when many Americans have a legitimate reason to worry about the safety of their president.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blogging from London

Hallo, stupid Americans. Am in London this week for work and trying not to eat McDonald's (I'm sure it tastes the same here as it does back home).

Highlights from my foray across the pond:

- Over vodka-and-ginger-infused beers in Shoreditch, the city's answer to New York's Lower East Side, I learned that Americans are perceived to be especially "cute" with our eternal eagerness and conservative culture war.

- Yummy curry on Brick Lane last night

- my coat does not smell yummy today

- my company's office here is too cool - both in staff and decor

- sometimes I don't understand what people are saying to me

Will be tweeting as well. Check it at www.twitter.com/davidperez212

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Oh, but to have a Gay Son of My Own

You know how they say one man's junk is another man's treasure? Well, one woman's hush-hushed ambiguity about her son's gayness (AHEM, hi mom!) is another woman's cause for...wishful thinking.

Cookie writer Judith Newman has a clever essay on the magazine's web site where she bemoans her twin sons' "irredeemable hetereosexuality." Whereas my mom winces and flits me away everytime I approach her with a new handbag, earrings or make up tips, poor Judith Newman can only dream of "a companion to do all the things I love—dance, ballet, theater, midnight screenings of The Sound of Music. We would share so much. We would both be in awe of Nabokov, Susan Sontag, and David Sedaris; when he came over to watch TV on my 100-inch flat-screen, we'd both get the vapors watching the leather-pants-clad John Travolta in Grease. Never would I have to listen to a conversation that involved the words "point spread."


Did I ever tell you the story of when I took my bedraggled mother all over Paris? And homegirl left her hair product and make up at home? And then didn't want to buy any to replace it? "Es muy expensive con el Euro" she reasoned. We still had a lovely time, but still, I felt unappreciated. The least my mom could have done was wear a delicious Dior coutrue confection and not assault me with the words "I got it at Dress Barn!" For Christ's sake, mother - I thought - we're at Versailles!

Were it not for the fact that my mom loves tossing cosmos back with me and can cut a b***h with two words, a look and a Bic pen, or the fact that my mom is still my favorite person to go to the movies with or the fact that she loves Edith Piaf as much as I do and is even more (cloestedly) liberal than me, I'd be beside myself like Joan Crawford, trembling, wondering, demanding "Why can't you give me the respect you'd give someone on the street?"

My mom wouldn't get that last reference, but I'm sure Judith would.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Don't Forget About Pakistan

So much for containing Al Qaeda. The pendulum of Middle East and Islamic world crises has swung aggressively toward Pakistan, a supposed friend of the U.S., who has seceded territory to the Taliban in the midst of US-led airstrikes against the terrorist group, in-fighting within the nation's parliament, and oh yeah, those ties to last November's attacks in Mumbai.

I'll let the experts at the New York Times and the Washington Post tell you why America should care, a lot, about Pakistan.

If you can't stomach editorials, then I strongly encourage you to watch this 14 minute documentary made by the NYT about the tide of tyranny that has swept over northern Pakistan. "Class Dismissed in Swat Valley" takes a look at one young girl's anguish as she is forced to stop attending school by the Taliban. This is just one of the many privations and horrors that await residents of this area, and it's a harbinger of what's to come for the rest of Pakistan and the world, for we know what happens when the Taliban is allowed to recruit and train terrorists.