Thursday, December 15, 2016

Prison Walls & Eros - Part 2: The Ridiculously Sublimated

    The male heterosexual imperative isn’t as persuasive a force as we’re led to believe: we depend on media saturation and extensive social engineering to prevent men from naturally slipping into varying degrees of the homosexual experience. The truths and mythologies of male-to-male relationships within the most overtly segregated male institutions – schools, seminaries, the military and prisons – are rarely ever taken seriously beyond the assumption that no good will come of men being deprived of pussy. That assumption of course is entirely point-of-view dependent: for much to mull over there's always 1967's Fortune And Men's Eyes for theatrical references to everything from the high camp of sodomy and rape through the sentiments of Will Shakespeare himself. 

 Prior to punk rock and the 1970's re-framing of sexual politics, the specific 'punk' of prison sex was a behind-bars fixture: young, dressed up and made up to advertise his sexual availability. At a price, he was as much predator as victim since he was often of quite ruthless character. Not 'queen' nor 'fag', it’s highly debatable as to whether or not his place in the prison hierarchy was most subordinate. To arbitrarily define and dismiss him as someone who “assumes a submissive female role at the bottom of the inmate gender hierarchy” isn’t as informative as it purports to be. While acknowledging the system in which he functions, he isn’t necessarily the poster boy for a feminist degradation narrative. He may very well as a man experience his role as intensely physically satisfying, and that's just for starters.

The archetype of the prison 'punk' is mid-50s Elvis Presley: an obviously made-up and flamboyantly dressed longhair with wide hips tilted slightly forward just like a lurid stripper. He didn’t disturb males of decent society for no good reason: if you hadn’t spent time in the slammer yourself (and simply knew what Elvis Presley was), then the striptease drum features would probably get you where you think. He wasn’t a non-threatening joke-queer like Liberace who laughed at himself: he was something else again…something dangerous, with heavy makeup and hair dye and silks and satins in defiance of repressed and suited conformity.

While much has been made of the fact that he further popularized 'race music', the gender nuances of the young and raw Elvis Presley have become obscured by time and revisionist history. His self-invention as a punk for the masses can probably be attributed to the exhibitionist naiveté of a mama’s boy following intuitive gender callings, while hopped-up on pharmacy-grade speed. He hadn’t had the experience of incarceration, but was hypnotically attracted to the flashy drag and not-quite-male sexuality he promoted.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Culture of Suicide: Enough Already.

It’s no secret that men’s mental health in Australia is worsening at an alarming rate, and suicide statistics confirm it. If eight lives a day were being lost to terrorism the whole damned country would be on red alert, with a national hysteria of unprecedented proportions. Suicide in itself isn’t necessarily a desire to kill oneself as much as it’s a desperate attempt to make overwhelming distress and emotional pain stop.

We’ll never know how many of those men were actually troubled by their homosexual thoughts – when researching the subject some time ago I turned up anecdotal evidence of “suicide-instead-of-coming-out” notes secretly destroyed by shameful families, and a Sydney imam as a matter of course advising a young man that suicide was the only honorable option for a Muslim man with homosexual desires. By default, the Australian culture is apparently unable to effectively respond to male suicide - past and present. The above anecdotal snapshots are indicative of the pernicious and diverse co-factors which need to be addressed, and it's doubtful they're included in the key LGBTI stats:

• LGBT people aged 16 and over scored an average K10 score of 19.6, indicating moderate psychological distress
 • 15.15% of LGBTI people aged 16 and over report current thoughts of suicide in the past 2 weeks
 • 37.2% LGBT people aged 16 and over reported being diagnosed or treated for any mental disorder in the past three years
 • 35% of Transgender people aged 18 and over have attempted suicide in their lifetime
 • 60% of people with an intersex variation aged 16 and over had thought about suicide on the basis of issues related to having congenital sex variation
• 20.3% LGBTI people aged 16 and over reported that they had been diagnosed with anxiety in their lifetime
 • 30.5% of LGBT people aged 16 and over have been diagnosed or treated for depression in the last three years
• 16% of LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 reported that they had attempted suicide

 Queers now have an opportunity to positively shape the future of mental health in Australia for LGBTI people of all ages, and men in general. With a bit of effort we can step up and proactively be the guys who make a difference.

 The recently-released Fifth National Mental Health Plan will seek to establish a national approach for collaborative government effort over the next five years, with a focus on achieving a better integrated service system for consumers and carers. LGBTI inclusion must be approached as a priority rather than a sidebar. The National LGBTI Health Alliance encourages members, project partners and networks to actively participate in these consultations to support adequate inclusion of LGBTI people and communities. Consultation dates and times across the country are underway, and listed on the above Plan link rollover.

Please contact MindOUT / National LGBTI Health Alliance in your capital city if you are attending a consultation / workshop and wish to discuss LGBTI inclusion in the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Prison Walls & Eros - Part 1: The Sublime

    We don’t often delve into our psychosexuality when responding to the homoeroticism of sex behind bars. It’s a staple of modern pornography. From a getting-off perspective it’s a no-brainer. One aspect of why prison sexuality continues to figure so strongly in both gay and non-gay male sexual fantasies is quite obvious: incarceration is a very good excuse to fully and without inhibition explore the male taboo of enjoyment of the homosexual experience. The fact that it’s best enjoyed with another man’s body isn’t helpful in honestly addressing what is usually felt as internalized homophobia, but experienced as most pleasurable. In short, choice has nothing to do with men’s attachment to thoughts of prison sex, and that’s its attraction.

But pornography only addresses desire – that’s its band-aid purpose. It doesn’t address existential loneliness, or the pervasive longing which in many ways defines much of our culture and individual selves, regardless of what relationships we may experience (or, all too often, reject).

It’s tempting to imagine that bridging the gap between pornography and longing is a future topic to be addressed by gay men. However, some digging into our culture yields up Jean Genet’s 1950 silent film 'Un Chant d’Amour'(“Song Of Love”). Reviled as pornography from its onset, this short masterpiece of homoerotic existentialism is peculiarly more relevant than ever. It’s still deeply subversive inasmuch as there is no refuge within for the homophobe of any persuasion – the viewer is denied that dubious payoff.

Set in an oppressively gloomy prison, the familiar dance of The Boy’s capitulation to both The Man and homosexuality is perfunctory and speedy – the need for connection jolts him from his narcissistic auto-eroticism. The Man’s tears of nothingness give way to a bashful smile of being, when he's "accepted".  The film has been fairly critiqued as a damnation of the walls men build around themselves.

Juxtaposing the bleakness of the wall of separation, Genet offers a sweet counterpoint fantasy of bucolic contact, respect, sensuality and liberation. Much has been made of Genet’s insistence on aberrant homosexualism as a valid and menacing repudiation of 'civilized society', but 'Un Chant d’Amour' is as decent as it gets for the thinking homosexualist: as it documents immuration, it also documents our lost history when homosexuals (and homosexuality) actually had the ability to transcend age, race, gender and identity.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Aberrance Is Its Own Reward: The Michael Lucas Edition

As a veteran of the Queer Wars of the 90s, I’m all ears when an activist with a dissenting voice is denounced as a revolting extremist, a moronic bigot, a hate spewer, a hypocrite and a whore. (It’s par for the course, and you’re probably not doing anything worthwhile if you haven’t been similarly denounced by “your own kind”). The reactionary loathing which Lucas’ brand of Zionism attracts from Queerish gay men isn’t substantiated by logic or reason, and we’re wise to ask why. While not wishing Israel well isn’t proof of anti-Semitism, it just happens to be one of the very best indicators currently at our disposal.

For close to a decade, Michael Lucas has been a very uppity homosexual. He’s the aberrant homosexualist par excellence. Not happy to just live the shadowy dual persona of pornographer and pornographee, he regularly walks the burning coals between political left and political right and lives to yell about it.  An opinionated homosexual is nothing new, but one who can actually put up without drowning himself in Post Modernist rhetoric certainly is.

One case in point is the subject of Israel. Lucas regularly picks at one of the sores of sloppy liberalism: concurrent promotion of gay rights as well as so-called Palestinian rights... a cause which bathes itself in claims of no anti-Antisemitism whatsoever. It’s indeed a rich mother lode to be mined by the skeptic: the narrative is always framed in terms of a juggernaut of Israeli violence committed against innocent victims, with but one historical reference being the Holocaust - as in “They’re doing exactly what Hitler did!” That the fallacy isn’t regularly repudiated by facts - or simply laughed off – is certainly indicative of a mindset which doesn’t accommodate at its core a Jew’s basic right to exist. By logical extension, you can be certain that a militarily-protected homosexual state would similarly unleash a hatred which is masked by sympathy for the “victims”, no matter how loathsome their beliefs or what ends they desire. Lucas was quick off the mark to point out a fundamental lie of the broadened “Islamophobia” trope: despising a murderous religious ideology can’t be seriously construed as racism unless you're a stupid dilettante, or worse.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"The Way He Looks": Another Look

Whatever voyeuristic discomfort a grown man expects to experience with the subject of pubescent boys “coming of age” is quickly dissipated by this 2014 Brazilian charmer. Writer/director Daniel Ribeiro deftly delivers a big romance within a smallish movie, disarmingly free of any obvious agenda - we don't even get to find out whether or not first love lasts. Decidedly purged of Americanized LGBTism and its attendant pretense and posturing, “The Way He Looks” is thematically Old Hollywood: part “Enchanted Cottage”, part “Ugly Duckling”. 

You see, Leo (as unforgettably played by Guilherme Lobo), is blind. His disability is compounded by over-protective parents who curb his desires for independence at every turn. Physically awkward, he’s looked after by school gal-pal Giovana, who soon will be replaced by The New Boy In School, Gabriel. Just about the right amount of teen angst ensues, as clumsy non-starting heterosexuality is replaced by a surer homosexuality. Latin sensibility (and Latin sensuality) easily dispense with “the blindness problem”: Leo can’t look at his beloved, but he sure can similarly experience him by sense of smell. Free of sighted self-consciousness, Leo can treat Gabriel to an extended perusal of his rump in the shower to nobody’s embarrassment: the camera pointedly reminds the rest of us that he’s to be desired and not pitied. Perhaps he’s also admirably blessed: he knows as proven fact that looks have nothing to do with the homosexual matrix, or love for that matter.

As an unapologetic homage to the transformative power of love, “The Way He Looks” is on sure footing from beginning to end. Director Ribeiro refuses the viewer predictable distractions like the grubbiness of guilt and shame, gratuitous violence and messages about “real” homosexuality.  As a movie experience, it’s a deeply satisfying emotional manipulation. We just know these guys are going to be okay, and maybe our take-away is that we’re going to be okay too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Junk And Fig Leaves: The Curse of Genital Shaming

    Western society has form when it comes to the image of the nude masculine beauty ideal: far from ars gratia artis, these images form useful symbolism for the promotion of nationalism. From Ancient Greece through J.J.Winckelmann’s 18th Century revivalism to the Nazi acquisition of The Discobolus and onsold to us via 1950’s American muscle culture, we observe a recurrent theme. The attractive representation reinforces a doctrine of male perfectibility through restraint and self-discipline, with “weakness” being kept in check. Penises are also notably kept in check: deliberately infantilized male genitalia represent status and control over moral turpitude in the Classical oeuvre, and the habit permeates modern maleness from the cradle to the grave. We are then left to question exactly what the perfect nude male and his genitalia subliminally represents to the homosexualist as much as to anybody else, and how it will impact on his sexual psyche and subsequent emotional well-being.

The most famous dick of all time is worn by Michelangelo’s shamelessly naked and sexually ambiguous David. It’s also the most ridiculed dick of all time to the point that art and cartoon are now one, and nobody ever mentions his ass. It’s all pretty much on par with a crude mustache painted on a Mona Lisa postcard. The public discourse has nothing to do with relaxed comfort around the male nude, just as it has nothing to do with appreciation of flawlessly executed sculpture. Scholars don’t help by assigning lofty messages of freedom and republicanism to the piece while overlooking the sexuality of both sculptor and subject. To state that how we experience Michelangelo's masterpiece is entirely point-of-view dependent is indeed an understatement.
    Uncircumcised and defiantly pagan in political intent and powerfully homoerotic in personal intent, David and his little dick are culturally diminished to four meters of marble which neither threatens nor arouses. Viewed from straight-on without the sculptor’s intended perspective, we’re a man just looking at a disproportionate and apparently defenseless youth. The real charge is experienced when we look up at the statue as intended: we become a boy contemplating a naked man. His focus on preparation for the battle of brains versus brawn doesn’t initially involve us because we first sense a massive and reassuring male right hand in gentle repose. Devoid of false modesty or fetish, David dignifies innate maleness as well as homosexuality to its core, with his dick being as complementary as any dick could be.

    But dicks and dignity don't usually crop up in the same sentence. The resurgence of pejorative usage of "dick" to put a man down isn't exactly a giant step for mankind, despite its apparent political correctness. One debate we could all benefit from is “Just how damaging is male genital shaming?” The practice is widespread across society. It includes – but is not limited to – everything from outright disgust to ridicule, snickering and dismissal as 'junk'. Junk is defined as useless and valueless, and when underscored with connotations of general filth you can be certain that some male somewhere is experiencing significant devaluation of his humanity and maleness. When similar derogatory terminologies are used towards female’s genitals we appropriately question exactly what's being said about females in general. Obversely, the reactionary men's rights movements could probably serve us all a whole lot better by thinking more about male genital packages, less about the perceived threat of feminism and honest recognition of their similarity to the specific Puritanism of some modern faux-feminists.
   One group certainly has been thinking a lot about male genital packages, and doing so with the homophobic malice that Queer Theory often inverts to. In order for one to embrace the pseudo-scientific beliefs which seek to replace sex with gender one must first accept the idea that actual observed and recorded genitalia does not determine sex, and also cannot be of sexuality. Gender theorists extrapolate wildly to the point of deceitfully insisting that attraction to - and being aroused by - a big hard organic dick is just another order to advance 'identity' demands ahead of innate sex and sexuality. In a breathtaking leap of faith, a female-to-male 'gay man' expects homosexuals to accept with approval (and sexual arousal) whatever they have between their legs - be it a surgical mutilation or an intact vagina in various stages of chemical alteration. 
  From antiquity on, diverse societies have attached diverse meanings to a big hard dick. Coy historians are comfortable with a mindset restricted to matters of fertility and/or an embodiment of phallic generative power. Classical Greeks however disapproved of large male genitalia as barbarously uncivilized while Romans approved to the point of generally appreciating it's feel-good properties from invoking good omens to the advertising of sex. Be it according to Post-post-modern gender theorists or broader society, homophobic puritanism claims that attraction to an erect phallus is simply of aberrant homosexuality when it's actually the primary driver of sexual arousal in all males. Heterosexual males are aroused by a big boner at about roughly the same rate rate (as homosexuals). We know this because consumers of straight pornography expect to see a big hard male dick because it powerfully stimulates their sex drive.  

Donatello's David (1440)
   Our hyper-masculine world isn’t quite as it appears: pubescent males aren’t encouraged to sport any bulge at all – let alone an impressive one. And that's highly problematic in terms of a young male's seamless debut into manhood from youth. What was once celebrated as an Age of Man is now but a social problem defined by reckless self-harm, as supported by crime and road-accident statistics. The history of the nude in art is compelling and probably telling: the 19th Century saw the female nude elevated while the male nude fell out of favor and only to be celebrated by the homosexual gaze...the specification and subsequent vilification of  'the homosexual' being coincidentally of the same century.  Michelangelo's David (as with other artists' representations) stress a boy/man duality flaunting his genitals along with his victory over a far more mannish man. We can't put an accurate age on David, but we can certainly put a male quality on him: youthfully exuberant, immodest and confident enough for manhood. The message that dick-shaming has no place in a male's rite-of-passage is obvious. It makes perfect sense then for any contemporary healthy male of any age to be attracted to pornography: it’s currently the only guaranteed safe space where a guy won’t be subjected to genital shaming despite viewing more impressive equipment than his own. Within that apparent paradox lie obvious business opportunities for penile enhancement industries, but admiration, shame and commerce are never what they appear to be, and an ever-ageing population of men in power may very well despise youths who shamelessly demonstrate virility for the sake of virility.

One is then left to wonder about the impact of broad male genital shaming on how men perceive themselves. Psychological study underlying the forwarding of dick pics suggests more avenues for investigation than it explains. The need for validation as a male is just one. The dick pic itself isn't revealing of anything beyond medical sexual identification. It's not even revealing the man as an image of a male nude, and can often be a distraction from evaluating what one's likely to be confronted with in real life. (In a bizarre twist, homosexuals may soon have to demand dick pics from all as proof that they're actually biological males, not 'gay' LARPers attempting the deceit of bait-and-switch.)
Not all biological males present as Michelangelo's David. While David's sumptuous maleness is informed by long-ago ideals around male beauty, he timelessly exudes naked male body confidence like no other. He has no coloring and no voice. He has no scent and no body hair, yet he's the embodiment of truthful maleness replete with a dick, and it's everyman's dick. Treasure trails after all don’t lead to junk. You don’t have to be a size queen or The Bottom That Ate Boston to sense wonder when you pull down a guy’s pants to experience whatever he’s got between his legs. 

That it’s there and that it's innately male is cause enough for celebration.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Top 10 First Date Tips For Men & Boys

   In the good old summer times there was no such thing as gay dating. You simply hit the streets and got laid, and if he stuck around he was your next loving assignment. Or whatever. The Zen of it all gave way in the 90s to the 1950s prophylactic sensibility of a Connie Francis record, and we embraced "dating" so that we didn't appear to be what we were, while at the same time not getting what we wanted.

   But there's no need to wallow in the crushing disappointments of gay dating anymore! No point in trying to spiritually manifest Mr. Right! Ignore the horoscopes! Just follow these proven commonsense tips for shaking the bastards down!

1. How do I know if things are moving too fast?

He puts out on the first date.

2. How do I know if things aren’t moving fast enough?

He doesn’t put out on the first date.

3. How do I know if he’s too old for me?

“All my friends call me Judy Garland!” is a sure sign.

4. How do I know if he’s too young for me?

He won’t admit to being desperate.

5. How do I know if he’s emotionally available?

Tell him you’re desperate.

6. How do I know if he’s good in bed?

See above.
7. How do I not appear desperate?

Ha Ha

8. How do I know if he’s too smart for me?

He steals your wallet on the way out.

9. How do I know if he’s too stupid for me?

He steals your doorknob on the way out.

10. How do I know if he’s a stalker?

If he tells you he likes you why not run with the idea anyhow & feel "special"?

What We Pick Up At The Movies

Cultural sustenance is much the same as diet: you’re never quite sure if you’ve got the balance right. The healthy and unhealthy content aren’t as obviously presented as you’d hope. Our psychology can only be appropriate to the culture and especially the times, but the ethical aspects of morality are far more deeply embedded in our psyche. It’s that go-to place in our minds where something just seems inherently right, and stories and legends take us there if our rational thoughts don’t. 

The theme of one of the most enduring and soulful legends is redemption through love. But, as filtered through the ages, it presents significant identification problems for the modern male homosexual. We had it better in the lore of antiquity: heroic male-male relationships produced overarching respect with values of integrity and equality. The many faces of true love were as inspiring as they were diverse. Gilgamesh, David, and Alexander the Great go the core of our homosexuality, and they do it with epic heart-stopping drama of the most profound kind. The “gay zeitgeist” we often acknowledge is more likely to have its origins in our far-distant collective past than in the golden age of Hollywood, and the drama we crave isn’t as cheap as the drama we may resort to.

Those guys, their beloveds and the very heart of their shared melodramas went away with the help of determined and thorough homophobic scholastic interventions, but we didn’t. The sagas of redemption through love in all its forms still unfold, but at the expense of the homosexualist by virtue of systematic exclusion. Culture continues to shut out gay men from the eternally powerful paradigm. Denied as stakeholders in what’s taken for granted by everybody else, we’re left with a void, and that void is often filled with movie actresses and more recently “divas”. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Butch Makeover Planned For Queer Gay Jesus

It becomes clear when researching masculinity studies that the most famous (and arguably most influential) man in Western history is being essentially ignored, as study after study re-treads familiar ground about masculinity while acknowledging other men of history and mythology. Further digging reveals that some American Christians are currently most concerned with his image. “Real men” apparently are staying away from churches in droves, and “queer Jesus” is stated as a significant reason. Apparently the sonofabitch just isn’t as brash, brave, bold and bullying as an attractive messiah should be, and recruiters are concerned.

While I’m certain their definition of Queer GAY Jesus departs radically from mine by virtue of more than a capitalized "Q", the general idea has been kicking around for ages so let's run with the idea. Old-school borscht belt comics reminded us that a Leftie Jewish boy of 32 who’s still single and at home with his mother should ring some alarm bells. Gayish irreverance of course might read “disciples and Mary Magdalene” as “fuck-buddies and a hooker for a fag hag”...perspective being everything after all. As it is in Topeka, so it must have been in Israel. Not quite, but not quite out of the realm of probability was Jesus gay - as Paul Oestreich put it in 2012. Hiding in plain sight is The Beloved Disciple - presumed to be Lazarus - which elevates another man to the status of beloved.

Talking Dirty About Jesus

Religious theorists-cum-academics have traditionally been most comfortable with a neutered / asexual Jesus. While superficially non-homophobic, the idea is actually there to reinforce the sex-negative propaganda it promotes. It’s deservedly losing currency with all who value sex as sacred. But some feminist theorists attempt to insert recently discovered (but highly suspect) "evidence” supportive of female inclusion in a new but nonetheless heterosexist scenario: those claims being that Mary Magdalene and Jesus of Nazareth were man and wife. The Da Vinci Code certainly ran with the idea. It may not be such a tough sell either, being in effect fundamentally homophobic: a carnal Jesus who is most definitely not a queer Jesus is one recruitment strategy that might just fly in the 21st Century. It's however unlikely to fly with the Vatican: there's little likelihood that patriarchal structure's interpretation their hierarchical model deviate from female subjugation and exclusion. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sounding Gay: Not As Lite As You May Think

The GLBT documentary genre isn’t really compelling viewing unless your tastes are drawn to a predictable tableau of ideology within a freak show: a GLAAD-ly blessed pity-fest of dubious intent and questionable pedigree. Usually short on challenging points-of-view but long on the assumption that there's a generic LGBT person, you're left wondering just how many more “journeys” are there to be undertaken across a well-trod landscape.

With “Do I Sound Gay?” David Thorpe takes on the cringe-worthy topic with all the panache of an excellent journalist: here the tabloidish “both sides of the story” is eschewed in favor of pursuing the more truthful “all sides of the story”. And that’s exactly why the documentary is so thought-provoking, and just so damned good.  It’s to our great benefit that Thorpe as protagonist doesn’t egotistically presume to know himself very well: quite clearly he doesn’t, nor does he let personal vanity get in the way of letting others who clearly love him rat him out.  (Subsequent to the film’s release, his more stridently bitchy gay critics have helped him out with a “diagnosis” of self-loathing - that reliable old form of personal attack which often screams more about the user’s under-threat malice than anything else.)

“Do I Sound Gay?” works well because of its subversive elements, and they are many. Ultimately of course it’s not about David Thorpe at all, or whether or not he’s lovable as he presents himself. Undue weight isn’t given to gender issues, but you must have slept through the show if you didn’t leave asking yourself about the very broad implications of sounding gay in a world of entrenched sexual and gender binaries. Closer to the bone, the viewer may very well wonder how and what gay men communicate with each other (and to the world at large) beyond “Yes I have Histrionic Personality Disorder but it’s you who’ll suffer from it”.

 “Just be who you are!” may be a likely or satisfactory response to an apparently silly question (no spoilers!), but Thorpe isn’t asking a silly question. Unless you live by slogans alone you’ll be asking a lot more questions than the documentarian presumes to answer…this time around, at least.