Showing posts with label Gay Issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Issues. Show all posts

December 5, 2017

"Ditch Gender Roles" Says World Ballet Prodigy Sergei Polunim

The world-famous ballet star sent the empowering message of self-confidence ahead of his Project Polunin’s Satori opening at the London Coliseum this week.

“You have to get the vision and you have to grab it,” he told Gay Times of how his confidence and belief in himself fought insecurities throughout in his life. 

“It’s a game to try and shorten the time to get it, but you’ve got to always be determined because if you truly want something, there’s no way you cannot get it. The worst thing is to make excuses for why you can’t get it, and ego will be strong in protecting you from being hurt. 

“Having an ego doesn’t mean you think you’re the best, it’s about it may be telling you to ‘not go there because they might say ‘no’ or hurt you’. I’ve had this fear and still have this fear, but I have to be brave to succeed. Every time you go anywhere new, you have to be brave – it’s about not thinking about it and just going for it!”

Sergei applying the theory of self-worth to his recent breakout into Hollywood movies – a chance that finds him alongside Dame Judi Dench and Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express. It’s a movie that almost didn’t happy due to his own insecurities.

“I almost didn’t take this big step for the movies as I was scared to fail, and that would crush my dreams,” Sergei begins in reference to temporarily stepping away from ballet and onto the big screen. “They will say ‘no’ but I had to be brave and go there!” 

With Satori’s opening almost upon us, the ballet superstar dismisses any suggestion of gender roles – insisting that you can choose your own destiny and life choices – including that of boys and ballet.

“I had a lot of respect when I was a kid for doing ballet in Ukraine in my yard,” he begins – a seeming polite middle finger to that of closed minds and insisting gender roles with society.

“I went and the teacher said that ‘if you’re good at this then this is a man’s job’, and if not then leave it and try something else. I always thought doing ballet was a manly thing to do and it was. I had that confidence to believe in me!” 

Sergei hopeful that audiences’ time in the arms of Satori awakens a youthful spirit that’s true to their childhood. 

“I’m hoping it will awaken a trust essence in them and they will come back feeling as they were as a kid. How they should be as true as when they were kids. I’m hoping people can go backward in a way because I think that’s the truest.”

William J. Connolly
Gay Times

September 27, 2017

'Our Love Will Not Be Sacrificed to Putin or Poroshenko'

“We even thought to forget the idea to be together because it seems crazy in the current climate. But why should our love be sacrificed for Mr Putin or Mr Poroshenko?!”

My name is Mykhailo, but my English-speaking friends always call me Mike. I’m an Ukrainian journalist living in Kyiv. Not long ago I came out. My partner’s name is Roman. The handsome and masculine Russian guy living in Moscow is just ‘a kitten’ for me. That’s the way I call my boyfriend. We want to tell you a story of our love full of romance, passion, Swedish cookies and pain. Why Swedish cookies? ‘Cause we met each other in Sweden. For every following meeting Roman had been bringing Swedish cookies for me and himself. I can’t forget their smell until today. Why pain? ‘Cause not long ago we told the world: ‘Yes! We are together despite of the age gap and living in two warring countries full of homophobia!’

I’ve been attracted to guys since childhood. Pretty men and good-looking boys made me feel pleasure. Not a sexual satisfaction as you could think – just an esthetical fascination. Being a little boy aged of five I couldn’t decipher this feeling. It was just something I wasn’t able to explain. It was comparable to butterflies in my stomach. 

Being raised in a religious orthodox Ukrainian family, homosexuals were always ‘enemies’ for us. Mom, who I love very much even now, was telling me stories from the church where priests had spread any ideas of hatred for homo: ‘Fagots will burn in the hell’. My father is a typical post-soviet person. He is an ex-soldier, who believes in the ‘great’ governmental machine and likes joking about women. Not long ago he told he could kill the son if he were gay. Of course, it was told me as a joke but every joke has some truth to it. Therefore, he doesn’t know about my sexual orientation.

I have always been subjected to pressure: ‘You have to meet your girl’, ‘you have to make children’, ‘you have to be interested in females’, etc. 
I was afraid to fall in love at all. I even tried to knock this ‘homo dope’ out of my head and forced myself to meet girls started dating with them. But it didn’t help. After several ‘healing’ meetings I have accepted myself: ‘Yes, I am gay. And I will live with this thing even if my life is in danger!’

For a long time I’ve been working for the Ukrainian TV. Everyday I’ve been making any reports about politics and a cultural life in my country. Once I got a task from my editor-in-chief to head to Stockholm to light up the Eurovision Song Contest. Fortunately, my first business trip was in Sweden known as one of the best gay-friendly European country. After my plane had landed in the Skavsta airport I went out from a terminal breathed in the fresh smell of freedom. 

In two days I installed the Grindr app because not long ago while watching Late Late Show I had noticed this program as the simplest way to hookup with someone or get friendship. The first guy I saw in the app was Roman with a Russian flag next to his nickname. I thought it would be cool idea to get some quick meeting with a guy from Moscow. But when I saw him I was thought: ‘Wow, I’d rather more than just only sex with this guy.’ We’ve spent the greatest seven days together with a lot of kisses, hugs and tasty Swedish cookies which we were presented each other everyday on the Gulmashplan metro station.

Every story has an ending. With tears and sadness in my soul, I didn’t want to say “goodbye”. Fortunately, Roman came to visit me within two weeks.

Ukrainian and Russian laws don’t recognise us as any relatives for each other. In case of illness of my partner, I won’t be next to him or be able to make any decisions on the treatment. Additionally, I’d like to say that Russia and Ukraine are involved in the military conflict with a huge propaganda. Two people hate each other just because of the political fight. So being with each other has become too hard at a distance between two warring countries. We even thought to forget the idea to be together because it seems crazy in the current climate. But why should our love be sacrificed for Mr Putin or Mr Poroshenko?! It will never happen! Then we live together in Moscow! Maybe it’s not the best place for gays to live but we’ll try to do it. 

June 27, 2017

The Country Has Move on Gay Rights But Religious Conservatives are Stuck in The Past

Same-sex marriage, once central to America's culture wars and a defining topic in the 2004 presidential campaign, has largely become a non-issue in the courts of both law and public opinion, leaving social conservatives with few options to fight the historic trend.

As LGBT activists and their supporters celebrated the second anniversary Monday of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell decision making same-sex marriage the law of the land, the Pew Research Center reported that public support for gay marriage is at an all-time high.  

The center's survey found that 62 percent of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 32 percent are opposed to the unions – a near reversal of public sentiment in early 2004 when Pew found that 30 percent of the public backed same-sex marriage and 63 percent opposed it.

Moreover, the survey showed that for the first time, a majority of baby boomers favor gay marriage and a majority of Republican and Republican-leaning independents do not oppose it – indicating the public is changing its collective mind on the issue and not just that gay marriage foes are dying out.

The findings dovetailed with another Supreme Court victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as justices Monday reaffirmed equal treatment for same-sex married couples. The court ordered Arkansas to list the names of both same-sex spouses on a child's birth certificate, even though one person might not be the child's biological parent. The ruling reversed a decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

"Legally and politically, I think for the vast majority of American citizens, [marriage] equality is resolved," says Jason Pierceson, a University of Illinois–Springfield political science professor who has authored several books on same-sex marriage and sexuality and politics.

But despite being stymied by the courts, opponents of gay marriage have pressed on, seeking religious exemptions to enforcing or endorsing it, he notes.

"What's happened is that the country's moved on, but I think religious conservatives haven't," Pierceson adds.

Social conservatives also won a victory – or the possibility of one, anyway – when the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case – Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission – about whether a baker in Colorado should have been allowed to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado Court of Appeals earlier ruled that the baker, Jack Phillips, broke state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. 

US News and World Report

Big win for Religious Conservatives at the Court:

(NEWSER) – The Supreme Court's big headline on Monday involved partially instating President Trump's travel ban, but it was far from the only consequential development on the last day of the court's term. In a big church-state ruling, the court sided with the church. Justices ruled 7-2 that the state of Missouri was wrong when it rejected a request from Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia for funds to build a playground, reports NBC News. The church had sought money from a state fund set aside for non-profits. The ruling could jeopardize laws in other states designed to keep a clear separation between church and state, a point emphasized by Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent. Other developments:
Gay rights: The court is putting a high-profile case about gay rights on the docket for its next term. The justices will decide whether a baker in Denver who objects to same-sex marriage was OK to refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, reports the Washington Post. The decision would have a bearing on similar lawsuits around the country that pit merchants' free-speech and religious rights against anti-discrimination laws.
Gun rights: The court rejected another call to decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry guns with them outside their homes, reports the AP. The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the San Diego sheriff's strict limits on issuing permits for concealed weapons.

Sheriff Joe: The court rejected former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's request to let a jury instead of a judge decide whether he is guilty of a criminal charge for disobeying a court order to stop his immigration patrols. The rejection from the nation's highest court came hours before the retired lawman's trial is set to begin on Monday in Maricopa County, Ariz.

Inmate loses: The court ruled against a Texas death row inmate who said his lawyers failed to challenge a faulty jury instruction. Erick Davila was convicted in 2009 of the shooting deaths of a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother at a children's birthday party, and prosecutors said Davila was trying to shoot someone else as part of a gang dispute. Davila claimed the jury should have been instructed it could find him guilty of both murders only if he meant to kill two people. He said he only meant to kill one.

Gay Gentrification and is Death Not Renewal

 West Village on Seventh Ave.South (circa 1979)
Many lament the loss of a city’s historically gay neighborhood to the forces of gentrification. Less often do they question the role those gayborhoods play in cities’ wide-ranging redevelopment strategies. Decades before middle-class transplants found themselves unable to afford the astronomical rents in, say, the Castro or Greenwich Village, those neighborhoods’ previous residents—many of them LGBTQ themselves—were similarly priced out.

There are real and valid reasons why queer people (at least those who are able to) leave the suburbs in search of a new city to call home. But there’s this idea I’ve heard from other LGBTQ people, particularly other white gay men, that the marginalization we’ve faced somehow overrides our role in the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color.

Peter Moskowitz's book, How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood, out today with Nation Books, aims to complicate the mainstream conversation about gentrification—which, he argues, focuses too much on individual actions and aesthetic observations and rarely illuminates how the process works on a structural level. Stories about the next “it” neighborhood, with its fancy coffee shops and dubiously legitimate monocle trends, might make for a fun Sunday read, but they obscure the decades of top-down, concerted efforts that make that “it” neighborhood trendy in the first place.

I had a feeling Moskowitz would be willing to complicate the narrative of the gayborhood, too. I recently spoke with Moskowitz over the phone about his new book and the many different roles that LGBTQ people play in the gentrification process. The following Q&A has been condensed and edited for clarity. (And full disclosure: Peter and I used to date and have known each other for about eight years. We also co-parent a dog, even though I’m kind of a deadbeat dogdad.)

What made you want to write about gentrification?

I grew up in New York City, in the West Village. The Village felt like a very idyllic neighborhood. There was a mix of different people, different stores. When I came back home from college, I came back to a neighborhood that I didn’t recognize. I was like, “What the fuck happened?”

What the fuck had happened?

The Chinese food places we’d always gone to had closed down. Half the pizza places had closed. The video store where my older brother worked had closed. Everything had been replaced by, like, a bank or a Duane Reade or a restaurant with $30 entrées. The people in my neighborhood had also changed. The apartments were now worth millions of dollars. I  couldn’t afford to rent an apartment there, so I moved to Brooklyn where rents were cheaper.

There, I found myself on the other side of the equation. Locals in my new neighborhood gave me the same looks on the street that I gave the people moving into the Village. I wondered how I could be on both sides of this process, and I wanted to know more. So I reported in four different cities—New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York—to find out what the actual forces at play are when gentrification occurs.

What are those forces? How does your book go beyond the whole white-hipster-coffee-shop narrative?

I present gentrification as a top-down governmental strategy to redevelop cities in order to increase a city’s tax base. Infrastructure, public housing—almost everything required to make a city run is funded through property and sales tax in the United States. So the fewer rich people there are in a city, the harder it is for that city to maintain itself. Local governments are trying to woo rich people—rich white people—into their neighborhoods, which displaces low-income people and people of color for the sake of profit.

They don’t call it “displacement.” They call it “redevelopment.” They call it “revitalization.”
A city government might decide to allow a corporation to bulldoze low-income housing to build luxury apartments, displacing the pre-existing residents. But they don’t call it “displacement.” They call it “redevelopment.” They call it “revitalization.”

A lot of cities specifically target LGBTQ people—or at least rich gay people—in their efforts to lure in new residents. Detroit even proposed creating a gayborhood to do that. Your book mostly talks about LGBTQ people on an implicit level, so I was hoping to ask you more directly: How do LGBTQ people factor into the process of gentrification?

There are LGBTQ people who are gentrifiers. There are LGBTQ people who are [victims of gentrification]. The dividing line falls on race and income, which are inextricable in this country. A lot of our current gayborhoods were formed by people who fled the suburbs back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They fled for legit reasons, but it’s important to recognize the role that power played in that process. Whiteness gave a lot of them the power to flee the suburbs, just like whiteness gave their parents government subsidies to flee cities a generation earlier.

Would you say white gay people benefit from gentrification?

Whether or not white gays benefit from gentrification is irrelevant. They’re still complicit in the process. In an ideal world, the gayborhood could exist without displacing poor people and people of color. But cities, at least right now, are a zero-sum game, often at the expense of poor queers and trans people of color.

Cities are capitalistic entities, and gayness—especially white gayness—has been increasingly assimilated into capitalism, into power. That allows some LGBTQ people to become the powerful class that the state, by way of the police, was set up to protect. Police are not here to protect everyone, just those in power, and the more you assimilate into power the more you benefit from their protection.

Cities are capitalistic entities, and gayness—especially white gayness—has been increasingly assimilated into capitalism, into power.
Like on Christopher Street in New York, there are always cop cars and flood lights. Talk to the white bar owners, and they’ll say that the police are there to protect gay people—especially after Orlando. But that protection leads to the policing of black and brown LGBTQ people—trans people in particular—which means that the neighborhood is actually less safe for them. They’re policed out of the spaces they formed communities around while places for moneyed white gays continue to flourish under that protection.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard white gay men—who, like myself, moved to New York from the suburbs—say things like, “I’m not a gentrifier. I’m gay.” As if their source of marginalization cancels out their source of power. What would you say to that?

Gayness does not trump whiteness, and it does not trump other privileges. That’s just intersectionality, you know? Gay people who are able to work high-paying jobs and get married and buy real estate can consolidate their wealth in a way that gives them power. Let’s say they buy an apartment building in the West Village and convert it into a single-family home. The same low-income black and Latinx LGBTQ people who are getting policed out of Christopher Street cannot transfer communal resources into capitalist resources like housing in that way. That leaves them especially vulnerable to gentrification as they don’t have a “legitimate” claim to the neighborhood.

Gay bars are often talked about as safe spaces, but, like you just pointed out, not all of these spaces are safe for all gay people—much less all LGBTQ people. Where does that leave the gay bar, a historical site for revolution, in the age of gentrification?

It’s hard for a bar to become a place of communal liberation in the later stages of gentrification. These are for-profit spaces that have to sell X number of drinks every Y hours to pay their insanely high rent. Because of that, the owners have less incentive to give space for radical causes or anything that doesn’t recoup that loss. You have to start thinking of ways to build community outside of existing capitalist structures.

Join local anti-racist organizations—people have been fighting overpricing for decades. Be conscious of the dynamics you’re feeding into when you move to a new city. Gather groups of friends to talk about what you, as gentrifiers, can do to better your neighborhood. Even small collective actions can have a huge impact. We have to be thinking outside of the box, outside of history.

Stonewall won’t house another revolutionary event. Stonewall is a pro-cop bar.

June 25, 2017

Gay Bar in Vermont Changes Name and Apologizes

        Lucy Bell LeMay attends the opening night of Mister
A post to Mister Sister's Facebook page said: "Sadly, we've had donations rejected from Pride Center of Vermont and Vermont People With AIDS Coalition due to our name." On May 10, owner Craig McGaughan said he had not donated to the Pride Center since controversy over the bar's name erupted and was referring to advocacy group's March 3 statement that they would reject donations from any place with hate speech as its name. 

The owner of a gay bar in Vermont has abandoned the name Mister Sister and is seeking forgiveness after three months of bitter controversy.
The new name of the Winooski area's only gay bar, which opened in March, will be The Bridge Club.
"I hope everyone finds the humor in going to 'The Bridge Club' to party, sees the nod to the historic Winooski Bridge and recognizes the camaraderie and necessity in building bridges," owner Craig McGaughan wrote on Facebook.
"My wish is that we can all forgive and move forward," McGaughan continued. "Nothing good came from the fighting. No one won here."
The name Mister Sister, which McGaughan initially described as inclusive, sparked controversy because some people viewed the term as a slur against transgender people. 
McGaughan changed his mind, according to a post on The Bridge Club page, after a transgender woman wrote a "kind letter" showing that people who claimed to support Mister Sister were "using public forums to create hate toward the trans community."
"I am a trans ally and when faced with the fact that this issue has created a platform for trans people to be blatantly abused, I had to act," McGaughan wrote.
"I realize now that I mistakenly listened to the fight rather than the pain," McGaughan added.
The Pride Center of Vermont asked McGaughan to change the name before the bar opened in March and pledged to refuse any donations that came from the bar.
McGaughan informed the Pride Center this week about his decision.
"The board is happy that Craig is changing the name of the bar and is open to meeting with Craig to continue the discussion," the Pride Center board of directors said in a statement shared by Executive Director Susan Hartman.
The new name also garnered many positive comments on the bar's Facebook page.
McGaughan declined to speak to the Burlington Free Press about when the name change would take place.
The change comes as the bar is also raising money online to keep its doors open. McGaughan has set a goal of raising $100,000 to pay bills and support operations.
"I've exhausted all of my business and personal resources, borrowed from family and friends and there's no longer any working capital or any sort of reserve to pull from," he wrote on a fundraising page created this month. 
USA TODAY NETWORKApril McCullum, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

Should A Bar Be Gay or Queenly?

The website for the Abbey touts its role as a two-time winner of Logo’s “Best Gay Bar in the World” award. But how gay is it? Some of the regulars believe the increasing number of straight people who go there has diluted its reason for being.
“My older gay clientele were saying, ‘Gosh, there are so many straight people in here,’” said David Cooley, the bar’s owner. “My argument was, we’ve been fighting for equality for all these years. We can’t reverse-discriminate and say: ‘You’re straight. You can’t come in here.’”
The Abbey, in West Hollywood, Calif., is not alone among gay bars in facing an identity crisis. In this time of increasing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, gay establishments across the country are grappling with an influx of new visitors.
The newly diverse crowd at these formerly exclusive environments has set off a debate within the community about the meaning and purpose of such bars today. Something that seems to come up a lot in the discussion is the groups of straight women who consider gay bars as the perfect setting for bachelorette parties.
David Cooley, center, the owner of the Abbey, hanging out with 
friends at the Chapel on a Sunday afternoon.CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times 
“They use the space to become ‘wild girls,’” said Chris McKenzie, a 35-year-old computer programmer in West Hollywood. “It’s not at all in concert with what the gay men are there for.” Some men feel the women stereotype them. “They think of us as ‘fun’ and ‘free,’” said Vin Testa, a 27-year-old educator in Washington, D.C. “It seems like they’re coming in to find their next accessory, like a new handbag.”
Straight men enter these environs less frequently, it seems. Those who do come, regular patrons of gay bars said, tend not to draw much attention to themselves.
The debate over the evolution in the clientele touches on not only the role and history of gay bars, but also on the struggle to weigh the concerns of inclusivity with the need to retain L.G.B.T. spaces. It even begs existential questions: What does it mean to be a gay bar in the age of sexual fluidity? With the mainstreaming of L.G.B.T. people, and the wider variety of people identifying with “queer” issues, who rightfully owns a space once simply called “gay”?
On a recent weekend night, when I visited Industry, a gay club in Manhattan, roughly 15 percent of the crowd were straight women. “We come to have fun and relax without anything sexual,” said Cathy Merla, who identified herself as straight.
Miz Cracker, left, and Monét X Change performing with an audience
 member at Hardware Bar in Manhattan.CreditKrista Schlueter for The New York Times 
The men interviewed for this article stressed that they welcome respectful straight women into the bars, preferably in the company of gay men, lesbians or transgender people. They also acknowledge that straight women have long been their allies and understand that many of them come to avoid the tensions and come-ons they may face at straight bars. And yet, certain longtime patrons remain skeptical.
“The women always say they come to these bars to be left alone,” said Larry Kase, a comedy writer in West Hollywood. “But it seems like they want as much attention from gay men as possible.”
Gina Gatta, a lesbian who publishes the San Francisco-based Damron guide, a trusted resource for L.G.B.T. travel and night life, sees a voyeuristic element at play. “It’s like, ‘Let’s go hang out with “the gays” because they’re “cool,”’” Ms. Gatta said.
The development of what might be called gay bar tourism has been building. “Five years ago, this was unheard-of,” said Maxwell Heller, a drag artist in New York. “It’s been a slow trickle that grew over the last few years to reach this moment where it can’t be denied.”
Economic and sociological issues are likely factors, with gay bars in urban centers going out of business at an accelerated rate because of rising rents and perhaps also a shift in the hookup culture, from bars to apps like Grindr and Scruff. 
In her annual survey, Ms. Gatta cited a “drastic decline” in these establishments since 2008, to the point where now there has been a net loss of 15 bars per year nationwide. The erosion has hit lesbian establishments disproportionately, according to Ms. Gatta, with not a single bar exclusive to gay women in either San Francisco or Los Angeles.
To stay in business, many gay bars, like Nellie’s in Washington, have become more inclusive. Doug Schantz, the owner of Nellie’s, has said that he conceived of his establishment as a place open to all. Similarly, the website for Metropolitan, a lively bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, states, “We welcome everyone at the Metropolitan, LGBTQ and all our allies.”
A blueprint for this approach was set by the Abbey, which opened in an area packed with gay bars in 1991. Mr. Cooley, the owner, who is also an executive producer of “What Happens at the Abbey,” a new E! channel reality series set there, noticed that most of the other bars at the time catered to specific tastes — for leather men or “pretty boys,” for instance. He went for something broader while also defying the designs of older bars, which tended to hide behind closed doors, implying embarrassment.
“In the Abbey, I had go-go boys and go-go girls right out in public, where people driving by can see,” Mr. Cooley said.
The change in design, along with Abbey’s expansion into a restaurant and dance club, not to mention setting for a reality TV show, has drawn an increasingly diverse crowd, creating a windfall for the club but also some tension among its longtime patrons. The problem became difficult to ignore, Mr. Cooley said, once the club began to attract bachelorette parties. "They would book all of my tables, and that’s when I really noticed they were taking over the gay bars,” he said. “They’re using my dancers as accessories and toys.”
Mr. Cooley banned such parties in 2012, with the proviso that he would reverse the policy once gay people earned marriage equality in the state. In 2015, when same-sex marriage became legal nationwide, he allowed bachelorette parties once again, to the chagrin of some of his regulars. Last October, to assuage their complaints, Mr. Cooley purchased the space adjacent to his bar, called it the Chapel and dedicated it to gay men.
“It’s hilarious that a gay bar like the Abbey had to open a second bar in order to be gay again,” Mr. Kase said.
While the older crowd at gay bars has complained about the change in clientele, younger men, like William Burke, a 23-year-old tech marketer in West Hollywood, said: “It’s important to have the locations for gay-straight alliances. It brings people from all walks of life into an area where they we can learn from each other and promote acceptance. I know lots of straight people who met transgendered people for the first time at a gay bar, and it changed their perspectives.”
Other patrons believe they have become subject to gawking in spaces where such a thing was never a worry, a feeling exacerbated at the Abbey by the daily appearance of idling TMZ tour buses, which identify the place as a Hollywood hot spot. The vehicles stop in front of the club, and certain tourists point at people in the bar. (TMZ did not reply to emails requesting comment.)
A group of revelers toasting at the Abbey. CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times 
“It makes me feel like a monkey in a zoo,” said Myles Silton, an entertainment lawyer.
Other men said that the wider acceptance of sexual fluidity has diluted the character of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender spaces. “The gay world used to be freaks and geeks,” Mr. McKenzie said. “Now the edginess is gone.”
In the process, the use of gay bars has taken some unusual turns. Chadwick Moore, a 33-year-old freelance writer in New York, identified a new twist in which such establishments have become a choice setting for first Tinder dates by straight couples. “I believe the women are thinking, ‘I’m going to take the guy somewhere where I’m the only one to look at,’” he said. “Also, ‘I can check out whether he’s “down with the cause.”’”
The tensions may escalate at drag shows. Mr. Heller, who performs in New York as Miz Cracker, described a common occurrence: “A straight girl, with the strength of merlot, will stand in front of you, stick her pelvis out and rub it on you. And you can’t get her to sit down. That can grind the show to a halt.”
The harsh reactions to the newcomers at gay bars have struck Gabe Gonzalez, a news producer for Mic, as misogynistic. “Obviously, queer individuals want to preserve a space where they don’t feel gawked at,” he said. “On the other hand, when gay men revert to sexist insults, like calling women ‘bitches,’ it contradicts the intention of safe queer spaces.”
As vexing as these issues have become, Mr. McKenzie sees a positive side.
“Identity crises like these are a good thing, because it creates a dialogue,” he said. “In the long run, it may make for a new understanding.”

August 12, 2016

Meryl Streep Gay Icon and Streep Tease

Meryl Streep is laughing her signature laugh. You know it: Sometimes light and airy, sometimes a surge of boisterous euphoria that carries well into the next question — but always unmistakably Meryl.

Cinema’s grand dame cracks one of her warm, famous chortles during our recent interview, while entertaining the idea that her latest chameleonic role, as real-life opera diva Florence Foster Jenkins in the movie of the same name, could once again spur drag queens to emulate another one of her queer-loved characters. Then she laughs again as she fondly remembers locking lips with Allison Janney in 2002’s The Hours. Meanwhile, the mere mention of 1992’s Death Becomes Her Meryl unleashing a hearty roar. Another laugh, too, when she ponders how sexting and Snapchat are related.

Gay audiences know this laugh because they know Meryl Streep. They also know her compassion for LGBT issues, both as an extension of her queer-inclusive acting repertoire and more explicitly, when, during her Golden Globe acceptance speech in 2004, she slammed then-president George W. Bush by condemning his anti-gay marriage stance. They’ve learned the art of shade from her sharp, searing tongue in The Devil Wears Prada, and they live for all the campy one-liners in Death Becomes Her. And during Angels in America, HBO’s 2003 watershed miniseries about the AIDS crisis, they wept.

Now, Streep, 67, sheds her skin once again to portray Jenkins, one of the worst singers in the world. In the poignant dramedy Florence Foster Jenkins from Stephen Frears, director of The Queen, the esteemed once-in-a-lifetime luminary plays a wannabe opera singer with a voice so hysterically appalling her loyal husband (Hugh Grant) bribes critics into letting her think she can sing.

Here, during this rare and revealing one-on-one conversation with Streep, the three-time Academy Award winner and record holder for most Oscar nominations discusses why she regards Angels in America as one of the most important LGBT-themed films she’s done and how she feels about gay men performing Meryl monologues. And looking ahead, is the biopic queen ready to consider her own story becoming a feature-length film in the future? Streep laughs at the very thought, of course, but she’s not kidding when she says, “I hope I fade into oblivion.”

Dallas Voice: You’ve given the gay community a breadth of greatness over the last four decades. When you look back at your gay roles, which has been the most important to you?  Streep: Oh, gosh. To me, I mean, Angels is such an important piece of history, and I felt really lucky to be part of that because I don’t think there was anything like it before. It really felt like being at the Democratic National Convention in the moment that Hillary shattered the glass ceiling — a big deal. The Hours was important, too. And of course I got to kiss Allison Janney, which was a perk!

Don’t tell Emma Thompson, who famously tongue-kissed you and gave you an orgasm in Angels.  Yeah, right! The Hours was nothing like that!

I remember Emma talking about that kiss in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She’s very proud of it. She said she learned that “you have to use tongues even if you’re not a lesbian.”  Oh yeah, you really do. [Laughs]

When you look back at that moment, how does your takeaway from that kissing scene compare to Emma’s?  It’s just, you can’t take the baby from the bathwater. You can’t. It’s just the whole thing of it — that [orgasm scene] was just like the culmination of it. But what [screenwriter Tony Kushner] was doing was for a really mainstream HBO audience at that point — just groundbreaking. That hadn’t been on television. Movies, yes. But not television. So it was very cool.

Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins in the film, FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS by Paramount Pictures, Pathé and BBC FilmsYou knew you were a gay icon by2012, when you found out about Streep Tease — gay men taking on Meryl monologues in West Hollywood. Did you ever get a chance to see it?  I didn’t. We went immediately to London to shoot something else.

How do you feel about watching other people — gay men, for instance — do Meryl?  I love it when they do other people! I don’t know. I’m sure it would tickle me, but I’m just not — I don’t have a distance on myself yet that I probably should have. It’s like when my kids imitate me. I laugh but I kind of don’t like it.

Do they imitate you often?  Oh my god, yes. Endlessly. Especially when I answer the phone and they can tell that it’s [me pretending to be], like, a Jamaican operator or something, because I sort of start talking in the accent of the person I’m talking to. Oh, they’re merciless.

Do you feel a connection to the LGBT community?  I just can’t remember when LGBT people were not in my life. You know, gosh. My piano teachers when I was 11 and 12 were two gay men in a little town in New Jersey who had a collection of Mexican art and piñatas and silver lantern covers, and their house was wonderful, not like anybody else’s house in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. And yeah, I came of age when everything was kind of opening up and that’s a good time, right like now.

This film harkens back to the ’40s when communities were kind of cloaked and undercover, and yet in Greenwich Village and just communities of people in the artistic world, they were always embracing of people, every kind. That freedom — very staid people were drawn to that world because of its imagination and exoticism and willingness to embrace life in a different way.

How do you think the message of Florence — doing something you love because you love it and not because of what other people think — will resonate with the LGBT community?  Well, to the extent that anybody tells you that you can’t be a certain way or you shouldn’t be a certain way. You know, I think the limits other people put on you are the least valuable. A child announces who they are and people who encourage them are the ones to be around… and you have to get rid of everybody else who doesn’t help! I feel that way about everything, but certainly LGBT audiences will understand that.

In 1979, when you played a lesbian in Manhattan, being LGBT wasn’t cool. Why did you take on a role that might’ve been deemed “too much” during that time period?  I didn’t think of it that way. I mean, I was coming to movies sort of sideways from the theater. I got an early movie and I thought, “Well, this is a one-off; they’ll never ask me again.” I was fine with that. I was happy in the theater. And in the theater I had lots of gay friends and my longtime collaborator Roy Helland is gay. I’ve grown up with gay people and been in love with gay people.

Romantic love?  Oh no, not that kind!

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 14: Actress Meryl Streep attends 'The Iron Lady' Photocall during of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival at the Grand Hyatt on February 14, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.I mean, I know women who’ve had gay boyfriends and gay husbands.  No, no. Well… not that I know of!

If you were to play another lesbian role, who would be your dream co-star?  Oh, well, someone younger, clearly. [Laughs]

But who? I mean, you and Sandra Bullock have already had practice making out at the 2010 Critics Choice Movie Awards.  Yeah! That was famous. But I don’t know! I can’t pick! There are so many. One thing I think is, there are so many young talented actresses and actors. I grew up in a time when people emerged — like, there were a handful of people. Now, there’s like 35, 40 people who are just beyond talented, and because of the opening up of long-form television and all the other platforms — webisodes and things like that — I think there are more opportunities for people to demonstrate their talent. There are so many talented people.

And streaming — I heard you say you’re learning about it.  Getting on that, yes. Not really. Somebody told me that I Snapchatted but I don’t know how to Snapchat and I thought it was the thing that you do when you’re sexting sort of and then you want it to be erased. I didn’t know what they were talking about!

It’s very confusing out there, Meryl. Stay in your bubble.  OK, fine! [Laughs]

Emily Blunt said she’s interested in doing another Devil Wears Prada if everybody else returns. Would you be interested in doing a sequel?  In theory. But the heart sinks until you read the script. It’s like, somebody said [they want a] Mamma Mia 2! and it just … ack! I thought, Gram-Mamma Mia!? Really? No. So it would depend on the script; the script is everything. If somebody has the imagination and wit to apply and has an interesting story, yeah, sure. But absent that, no.

Your gay fans wouldn’t mind, I’ll tell you that … as long there’s a solid script, of course.  No, I wouldn’t mind either if the script were good.

Your Death Becomes Her co-star Isabella Rossellini said that she didn’t know she was making what became a gay cult film until after some market research. When did you realize Death Becomes Her would become a gay cult classic?  I knew when I met the writer!  When I met Martin [Donovan], I thought, “OK, here we go.” And then [when I sang] my first number, I thought, “Oh, all right, I’ll see this in a club somewhere.” I mean, with lines like, “Now a warning?!”  I mean, come on! It was so much fun, and it’s sort of a documentary on aging in Los Angeles now, it seems to me.

For years you’ve been playing real-life people: Julia Child, Margaret Thatcher, now Florence Foster Jenkins. If one day there’s a Meryl Streep biopic, what do you hope it captures about your life and career?  I hope that doesn’t happen! You know, I treasure my life and the fact that it’s not on Facebook, and I really love my solitude and privacy — all these old-fashioned concepts. In a job where I’m with hundreds of people all the time and going on these press things, I just really love to get away and not be in the chattering world. That’s really important to me. So, I hope I fade into oblivion.

We rode in from the airport and Roy — my hair and makeup guy — pointed out the Will Rogers museum here in L.A. that’s closing and I said, “Why?” He said because nobody knows who he was and nobody cares, and there was no more central figure in his time that could sort of translate the best of the wit and charm of his era. So, you know, then it’s over. He’s gone. Nobody cares.

And you’re OK with that happening to you?  Yeah, I’m fine with that! I seriously feel like you can only speak to your moment, and right now your work should reflect it. Your work has to just be important right now. And in 10 years if it looks obsolete or like you were overdoing it, that’s fine, because for that time you were.

— Chris Azzopardi

March 2, 2015

How Gay came to be Gays


The word “gay” seems to have its origins around the 12th century in England, derived from the Old French word ‘gai’, which in turn was probably derived from a Germanic word, though that isn’t completely known.  The word’s original meaning meant something to the effect of “joyful”, “carefree”, “full of mirth”, or “bright and showy”.
However, around the early parts of the 17th century, the word began to be associated with immorality.  By the mid 17th century, according to an Oxford dictionary definition at the time, the meaning of the word had changed to mean  “addicted to pleasures and dissipations.  Often euphemistically: Of loose and immoral life”.  This is an extension of one of the original meanings of “carefree”, meaning more or less uninhibited.
Fast-forward to the 19th century and the word gay referred to a woman who was a prostitute and a gay man was someone who slept with a lot of women, often prostitutes.  Sort of ironical that today a gay man doesn’t sleep with women.   Also at this time, the phrase “gay it” meant to have sex.
With these new definitions, the original meanings of “carefree”, “joyful”, and “bright and showy” were still around; so the word was not exclusively used to refer to prostitutes or a promiscuous man.  Those were just accepted definitions, along with the other meanings of the word.
Around the 1920s and 1930s, however, the word started to have a new meaning.  In terms of the sexual meaning of the word, a “gay man” no longer just meant a man who had sex with a lot of women, but now started to refer to men who had sex with other men.  There was also another word “gey cat” at this time which meant a homosexual boy.
By 1955, the word gay now officially acquired the new added definition of meaning homosexual males.  Gay men themselves seem to have been behind the driving thrust for this new definition as they felt (and most still do), that “homosexual” is much too clinical sounding and is often thought of as offensive among gay people due to sounding like a disorder.  As such, it was common amongst themselves to refer to one another as “gay” decades before this was a commonly known definition (reportedly homosexual men were calling one another gay as early as the 1920s).  At this time, homosexual women were referred to as lesbians, not gay.  Although women could still be called gay if they were prostitutes as that meaning had not yet 100% disappeared.
Since then, gay, meaning homosexual male, has steadily driven out all the other definitions that have floated about through time and of course also has gradually begun supplementing the word ‘lesbian’ as referring to women who are homosexual.
Not satisfied with simply changing its definition once a century, as early as the 1980s a new definition for the word gay started popping up among American youth where now something gay could either mean a homosexual or something that is “lame” or “stupid” or the like.  This new definition was originally almost exclusively meant as an insulting term, derogatorily referencing homosexuals.
However, according to a report done by the BBC, most children are still using the word to mean “lame”, but now with having nothing to do with sexuality of any sort and also not generally meant as an insulting term against homosexuals.  
Now it is used more to the effect of just saying, for instance, “That movie was gay” as in stupid, but having nothing to do with homosexuality in their minds and not generally directed at people (thus not supposedly meant to be offensive to the gay community).  Whereas the origins of this new “lame” or “stupid” definition were most definitely meant to be insulting and were primarily directed at people.
The abstract noun ‘gaiety’ has somehow largely steered clear of having any sort of sexual connotation as with the word “gay”.  It still keeps its definition as meaning something to the effect of “festive”.Male homosexuality was illegal in Britain until the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967.  Because even mentioning someone was a homosexual was so offensive at the time in England, people who were thought to be gay were referred to as “sporty” with girls and “artistic” for boys.
Bringing Up Baby in 1938 was the first film to use the word gay to mean homosexual.  Cary Grant, in one scene, ended up having to wear a lady’s feathery robe.  When another character asks about why he is wearing that, he responds an ad-libbed line “Because I just went gay”. 
At the time, mainstream audiences didn’t get the reference so the line was thought popularly to have meant something to the effect of “I just decided to be carefree.

February 28, 2015

“My Best Gay friend” is Got to go… Yesterday!


First, there was My Best Friend's Weddingthen came Sex and the City and, of course, Will & Grace. Jump ahead a few years, and it's even cropped up in Lena Dunham's Girls. The trope is officially and stubbornly solidified in pop culture.
It's the Gay Best Friend — the paradigmatic relationship between gay man and a straight woman — that has swept thoroughly through our culture, becoming a classic character on screens and in real life. It's a rise that is possible in part because of an increasingly accepting society, one that's open to visibility for gay men, validates their orientation and recognizes their contributions. 
But it's exactly that positive progress that makes one thing clear today: The Gay Best Friend has got to go. In an era when marriage equality is sweeping the nation and acceptance is on the rise, it's a dated stereotype that, ultimately, does more harm than good. That's why it's time to replace the nonsensical "Gay Best Friend" with a more accurate term: friend.
The root of the problem: "Stereotypes are a classification system that makes the world feel more manageable," says Liz Margolies, founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. And people cling to them when something is unknown or threatening — there's a reason it's called homophobia, after all. 
There may be another reason the Gay Best Friend stereotype was so enthusiastically embraced across culture: women's desire for a non-threatening male presence in their lives. "Straight women often have a desire for safe and intimate relationships, and gay men offer exactly that without the fear of intimacy necessarily kicking in," psychologist Megan De Beyer told Mic.
In fact, a 2013 study of 88 straight women and 58 gay men found that the two sides trusted each other's dating advice more than straight women trusted straight men or gay men trusted straight men or lesbians, the Atlantic reported. This is because, the researchers suggest, the two groups share an attraction to men but aren't competing for mates, according to the Atlantic.
The appeal may also be connected to a void women feel. De Beyer added that it's common to hear "complaints from straight women about straight men who cannot engage on all levels and are difficult to communicate with, whereas they feel with gay men it's all just simple, fun and easy." 
"Straight women often have a desire for safe and intimate relationships, and gay men offer exactly that."
All style and sass: What's problematic is the assumption that gay men are always "simple, fun and easy," not to mention "fabulous." The Gay Best Friend trope relies on reductive stereotypes of gay men's interests, habits, behaviors and demeanors, many of which are positioned as useful complements to women's needs. 
Pop culture and the media are rife with illogical depictions of gay men as great shoppers, style gurus, endless fonts of sassy bons mots and sympathetic, insightful advisers. Those qualities may accurately describe some gay men (and also some toy poodles); but clearly the whole is not rightfully represented. Where are the fashion-backward gays, the dishonest sneaky queer men, the ones that have no humor whatsoever? Gay men, like any other humans, have a diverse array of personality traits that can't be neatly summed up in one "type."
Moreover, the "Gay Best Friend" inherently marginalizes gay men into a sidekick role, always in the service of someone more important. With a very specific function to fulfill, the Gay Best Friend is rarely allowed to deviate from his allocated role. In films like As Good As It Gets and TV series like Gossip Girl, the G.B.F. added a dose of snappy humor; in Mean Girls and Sex And The City, he doled out advice on fashion and sex — witty insights, of course, being the only sex-related action a G.B.F. gets on-screen, his own sex life being of no importance.

Just an accessory: That's because the Gay Best Friend is treated not so much as a person as an accessory, an object to be possessed. This is epitomized by the language around the term: "My Gay Best Friend" or "My Gay." As BuzzFeed recently noted, "Sure, it sounds cute at first — 'My gays.' It doesn't even sound malicious. You're just showing the world how accepting you are because you have a gay BFF. But you see, a human being can't be 'yours.'"
Being reduced to stereotypes for others' use, of course, is a problem faced by many minorities. Consider the "token minority best friend defense," as the New Republic phrased it in 2011. Wearing a friendship like a badge, valued more for what it represents to others than to the individual friend themselves, devalues the relationship to a merely functional level. A wholly imbalanced situation, it barely resembles a friendship between two equals.
And in an age when gay men (not to mention gay women) are finally being seen as people deserving of equal rights and equal treatment — and when having a friend who's gay means they're just, well, your friend — the G.B.F. trope doesn't apply. 
Wearing a friendship like a badge devalues the relationship to a merely functional level. 
Throwing out the term: Unpacking and disassembling society's view of Gay Best Friends can come, in part, from embracing real friendships rather than "token" ones, something that's already happening. 
"More LGBT people are simply integrated into the lives of all people as friends and family," says Cathy Renna, a media activist and LGBT community PR guru. "We will continue to battle homophobia and sexism and racism for a long time to come, but I would like to think we have made progress beyond the patronizing 'I have a gay friend so I must be OK with it' statement." 
In the meantime, progress is happening on the mainstream culture front, Girls' Elijah notwithstanding. When it comes to more nuanced representations, HBO's San Francisco-based Looking features characters across the gay milieu and adds new, authentic representations weekly. Hank on Sirens, played by Kevin Daniels, is a rounded and interesting character, sexual orientation aside. How to Get Away With MurderGlee and other shows include gay men not hemmed in by G.B.F. stereotypes.
ABC's Happy Endings confronted the G.B.F. storyline head-on in 2011, with protagonist Penny's pursuit of a stereotypical one to replace her actual gay best friend, Max, who is cynical, sports-loving and not at all sassy. The movie GBF, released in 2013, is entirely dedicated to highlighting young women’s bizarre pursuit of a picture-perfect specimen of gay arm candy.

Pop culture is getting there. But additionally, there's an argument to be made that aspects of the gay community itself can help change perceptions further. Gay organizations and queer magazines have a duty to showcase fewer six-packed stallions and glittered dancing queens, featuring more "real" men across all possible media. It's time for the fantasy to combine forces with reality: actual men of all ages, races and sexual variations that come with or without hair, fat, makeup and fashion opinions. 
"The LGBT community could very easily — and increasingly is — be better represented in our culture in two ways: more diversity and more depth," Renna says. Progress is evident with magazines like Amsterdam-based Butt, Australia's Hello Mr. and New York's Spank Art Mag, which actively promote more nuanced images of gay men.
Individuals like film director and porn model/actor Damien Moreau are using their work to represent male sexuality in non-cliched ways, including in pornography. Moreau insists on the gay community taking on an anti-stereotype movement, telling Mic, "We as a community need to educate ourselves more on what the acronym LGBTIQ actually means. It's more than a string of letters." 
What it comes down to is the abandonment of stereotype images and cliched language on all sides in order to move away from any reductive stereotypes, encourage less discrimination and place friendship and gay men satisfactorily aside from prejudice and cliche. The good news is that we’re already well on our way — the "Gay Best Friend" feels as outdated as last year's accessory. 

Daniel Scheffler's avatar image By Daniel Scheffler

Featured Posts

Two Whistle Words The Republicans Use to Scare Voters Away: Don’t Work} Homosexual and Socialism

                                                  Stef W. Kight , Axios Exclusive poll: Young Americans are embracing s...