Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer School Day-Dreaming

All good little GayProfs started summer school today. Well, all good little GayProfs who desperately need some money to salvage their horrific credit rating started summer school today.

As a student, I had the realization that the popular media grossly misrepresented the truth about summer school. I imagined that summer school involved the uniting of several different quirky personalities to form a microcosm of society in one classroom. Over the course of the summer, all of these different personalities learned from each other. They overcame their individual problems by acting as a newly created support group. Plus, summer school always ended with a massive party.

Of course, most of my dreams about summer school circulated around Mark Harmon running around in short-shorts. Actually, I didn’t really care about the microcosm stuff as much as I wanted to have a teacher like Mark Harmon who taught without a shirt. Mmmm, he was dreamy in that god-awful movie.

Alas, though, my adolescent fantasies about dreamy Mark Harmon never came to be. Instead, summer school as a student always fell flat. Through college, I took summer classes to get ahead (Why the hell did I want to do that?). They tended to be grueling and exhausting. My professors never looked like Mark Harmon. Indeed, I would have rather poured acid in my eyes than see them in short-shorts.

Now, as a prof, I am on the other side of the chalkboard – Well, actually, I don’t really use the chalkboard – and, come to think of it, everybody is on the same side of the chalkboard – so, that metaphor doesn’t really work. Whatever.

This summer I am offering my standard Chicano History class. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like teaching and love my students. It’s a fun class to teach (unlike intro to U.S. History).

Still, I find summer school just as grueling as I did as a student. First, you have to meet with your class everyday. EVERYDAY! This is not the life of an academic who is accustomed to teaching either MWF or TTH during the regular semester. Yeah, I know, I have to it sooooo tough. Pity the GayProf.

Second, both you and your students face some pretty rocky struggles to stay enthusiastic about any topic for the full 95 minutes of class-time. Frankly, I could resurrect César Chávez from the dead and invite him to talk to my summer class. After the first 50 minutes, students would be glazed eyed and folding paper airplanes.

Neither professors nor students realize what each other thinks about during summer school. Yet, each group drifts off into their own thoughts during class. Here, though, is a list of our hidden reflections:

    Student: “I can’t believe we have to read 200 pages per week. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”

    GayProf: “I assigned 200 pages, but will be happy if they read 100 pages per week. I am sure they understand that summer school is more intense.”


    Student: “We have to write a final paper for this class? Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”

    GayProf: “Why did I assign a final paper? That means I am going to have read and grade them. Oh, man, I am an idiot.”


    Student: “He never holds class outside. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”

    GayProf: “Why, in the world, would anybody want to be outside in the Texas heat? Do they not see I am wearing a tie?”


    Student: “Why won’t GayProf stop talking? This lecture is so boring. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”

    GayProf: “When can I stop talking? This lecture is so boring. Oh, man, summer school sucks”


    Student: "I wonder if I stared at GayProf's head long enough if it would explode. Oh, man, GayProf is such a dick."

    GayProf: "I wonder if it is worth suffering through an episode of Navy: NCIS just to see Mark Harmon again.


    Student: “Maybe I should have taken the History of Flags on Maps instead. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”

    GayProf: “Maybe I should have taught the History of Sexuality instead.”


    Student: “At least this class fulfills my diversity requirement and my history requirement all in one go. But, man, GayProf is a dick.”

    GayProf: “I wonder what Anderson Cooper is doing right now.”


    Student: “Ha – GayProf doesn’t realize I have never taken any notes since class began. He is such a dim-wit.”

    GayProf: “Ha – That annoying student hasn’t taken any notes since this class began. He is going to fail this class so badly. He is such a dim-wit.”


    Student: “Maybe I will ditch class tomorrow.”

    GayProf: “Maybe I will show a film tomorrow.”


    Student: “Gee, GayProf sure sweats a lot.”

    GayProf: “Gee, these students seem to take many holidays form hygiene.”


    Student: “We sure spend a lot of time talking about New Mexico.”

    GayProf: “We don’t spend nearly enough time talking about New Mexico.”


    Student: “Oh, man, I thought this history class would be an easy ‘A.’ GayProf is such a dick.”

    GayProf: “Oh, man, I thought teaching this history class would be an easy paycheck. Man, being in debt suuuuuuuuucks.”


    Student: "I wonder what other students are doing for the summer."

    GayProf: "I wonder what other people do for a job."


    Student: “I can’t wait to go out to the bars tonight.”

    GayProf: “I can’t wait to go out to the bars tonight.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wait -- What Was That Song About?

Dorian recently tagged me (in a totally non-pressuring way) to do my first thingy-ma-jigger-do-hicky-don’t-have-to-work-too-hard-to-blog-meme-thing. Works for me.

Kiddies, here are the rules: Open your music library and set the old-boy to “shuffle.” Note the first five songs that it plays. Then, regardless of the music artist’s actual politics, you blatantly misinterpret their lyrics to seem like they are covertly sending ultra-right-wing messages. The most deranged misinterpretations win a prize. At least, I thought somebody said something about a prize.

It kinda reminds me of that game where you randomly look up words in the dictionary and then give out false definitions to see how many people you can trick. You know –What’s that called? Oh, right, the Department of Homeland Security.

So, let’s see what evil right-wing messages might be lurking in this lefty-gay-boy’s music library, shall we?

1. Armand Van Helden’s “My My My”

Oooh, iTunes started me with a tough one. Given the limited number of lyrics, some might not see van Helden’s true intent here. Of course, upon reflection, we can see that this song supports the horrific construction of a wall dividing the U.S. and Mexico. Let’s look at the first chorus:

My, My, My
My, My, My
My, My, My
How did we ever get this way?
Where's it gonna go?

Clearly van Helden dislikes living in a multi-cultural atmosphere. The line “How did we ever get this way?” suggests his desire for a romanticized past and the times of segregation.

My, My, My, My, My
Oooh, Ooooh, Wee
How we gonna make it work?
What's it gonna take to do?

Van Helden asks “What’s it gonna take to do?” In reality, he wants us all to answer that question by calling for tighter border security.

2. Requiem for Evita (From the soundtrack to Evita)

Now here is one that is much easier, because, really it is all about an evil right-wing wife-of-a-dictator. Though the musical offered many bouncy songs and some fabulous costume changes (What gay man hasn’t performed the Casa-Rosada-balcony scene in the privacy of his bedroom?), the real-life Eva Perón was a fascist.

I don’t mean fascist in the way that most people toss that word around, like, “My professor made me read 150 pages this week. He is such a fascist.” No, no. I mean, Evita believed in fascism as a form of government. She felt all citizens should have a fanatical devotion to the nation and eschewed the rights of the individual.

So, a song that asks us to lament Eva’s passing really asks us to mourn the passing of fascism in Argentina. Thanks, Andrew Lloyd Weber! When are you going to get working on that musical for Francisco Franco?

3. Cascada’s “Every Time We Touch”

Though seemingly just another plastic dance-ballad, Cascada actually produced this song as a secret love declaration for Paul Wolfowitz.

Take a look at the militaristic imagery she uses:

Your arms are my castle,
Your heart is my sky.
They wipe away tears that I've cried
The good and the bad times,
We've been through them all.
You make me rise when I fall.

In this case, Cascada talks both about her screaming-thigh-sweats for Wolfowitz and his aggressive military policy. She tells us that, like a medieval castle, Wolfowitz will defend us. True, he may level entire nations, but they will rise again because the USA will rebuild them – if there is time – and we don’t lose interest first.

4. Frankee’s “Hell No”

This is one of my favorite songs at the moment. You can imagine how upset I was to find out that Frankee really intended this song for Bill Clinton. Just take a look at these lyrics:

Hell no.
You looked me in my face and
Had the nerve to say that chick that called
You on your cell phone wasn’t at your place
The stupid things you do,
You gotta be a fool,
You took my love for granted
Now I'm taking it back from you

Clearly Frankee is substituting herself as a spokesperson for the nation. She, as Miss Everybody-USA, responds to Bill Clinton’s infamous claim that he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky.

Let’s take a look at her second stanza:

Hell no.
I don't need your doe
I'm not going be your ho
You can keep your ring
Tough shit
I see you're full of it
I'm not going to be your bitch
I don't care about your bling

Like many right-wingers, Frankee explicitly rejects the economic growth and budget surpluses that appeared during the Clinton administration. Sure, he might have been president during unprecedented times of stability, but the only thing Frankee really cared about was that he had a blow-job in the Oval Office.

5. Eurythmics “Right by Your Side”

I think the title of this song tells us all that we need to know. By “Right By Your Side,” the Eurythmics tell us that we all need to be on the political right.

In the opening chorus, the Eurythmics tow the Republican line all the way:

Give me two strong arms
To protect myself
Give me so much love
That I forget myself
I need to swing from limb to limb
To relieve this mess Im in
cause when depression starts to win
I need to be right by your side

Here the Eurythmics tell us that only the Republicans have the military strength to protect us from terrorism with their "two strong arms." Moreover, you might think that she refers to “depression” as an emotion. In truth, the song speaks of economic “depression.” Only by going to the “right” and their tax cuts will the world economy move forward.


Well, that was fun, even if I do feel a bit dirty for horribly abusing some of my favorite artists and songs. Most of these artists aren’t even U.S. citizens.

Frankee, I was just kidding. Call me.

I won’t tag others, but all should feel free to have fun. In the meantime, I will keep waiting for the “Ten Reasons Why I Adore and Worship GayProf” meme to appear.

Wait – maybe that gives the impression that I have distorted view of self-worth. “The Ten Reasons Why I Adore and Worship GayProf” meme has got to be circulating on the blogosphere already, right?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Queer Heroes?

Several different discussions prompted me to think about the notion of Queer Heroes. An e-mail correspondence with Cooper, a blogger buddy; Adam’s recent post on Will and Grace (with a side conversation at Joe's); and Dorian’s discussion of same-sex-sexual violence in comic books all got me questioning the lack of queer heroes in popular media.

Right now, the media has a love-affair with presenting queer men as victims. They adore a good story about a man being trapped into lying and staying in the closet. They get positively giddy if that story also includes deceiving a hapless wife and/or drug addiction. Instead of heroes, we are offered victims of circumstance.

For the past eighteen-months, in particular, the media has been obsessed with those “on the down-low.” For those who don’t own a television, “being on the down-low” refers to men who are in heterosexual relationships, but still secretly have sex with men. If we believe what we see, heterosexual marriages are facing an epidemic as no good men seem to want to stay home anymore.

Even Oprah, the reigning queen over popular thought, featured an entire episode of her talk show on this subject. Thank God she promised not to do any more sensationalist topics. BET recently produced a news-style documentary on the subject, declaring being on the down-low a phenomenon. Yeah, that’s what is passing for journalistic analysis these days.

If we are to believe popular representations of the “down-low,” all African-American men and most Latino men currently lead double lives. These lurid shows suggest that men of color spend every waking minute trying to find hot-man-on-man action. As the nasty frosting to that unappetizing cake, they whip-up Terry McMillian’s personal grief over finding out her husband lied to her time and time again. Her famous example becomes proof-positive that queer men can trick any woman into their web of lies.

All the coverage of the “down-low” neatly plays off the tensions between both ultra-conservative viewers and the queer audience. For the ultra-right, stories about being on the down-low confirm their worst nightmares about queer folk. They have tangible evidence that gay men threaten families, even putting their unsuspecting wives at risk for disease. Given that discussions of the down-low are almost always limited to men of color, they also play into racist stereotypes. People of color have long been presented as having questionable sexual morality.

Yet, the media also gets to draw in a crowd of queer viewers with their down-low programing. We are told that we need to embrace the down-low folk because they are hapless victims. We are also asked to defend the down-low individuals as our fellow queer brothers and plead for understanding.

Whatever your sexuality, if you lie to somebody who loves and trusts you, this does not make you smart, clever, or casting a blow for sexual liberation. Queer folk need to avoid being sucked into the notion that somebody on the “down-low” is only a victim. Nor are down-low biopics adequate substitutes for stories about queer heroism.

There is a marked difference between somebody who is struggling to come to terms with their sexuality and somebody who actively hides their sexual escapades from a loved-one. Many queer men marry women before they fully accept their attraction to other men. We should be there for all queer men who are struggling to address their desires.

What we don’t need to endorse, though, is the notion that queer men are being forced into lying and leading a “double life.” Though there are many places in the world where the government will murder an individual outright for same-sex desire, no such laws exist in the United States. Divorce is readily available. Don’t want to get a divorce? Okay – It’s fine by me. But don’t start having sex with men behind your spouse’s back. As a queer community, we are under no obligation to support subterfuge. Tough love from the GayProf.

Spare me the notions of lying to a spouse “to spare their feelings” or saying “they must really know, we just haven’t talked about it yet.” There is nothing noble or interesting about being on the down-low. Rather, these lies show a selfish and thoughtless inner character. One can justify anything to one’s self, but these lies show that person is only thinking about themselves.

Perhaps the most romanticized vision of the down-low appeared in the overly-discussed film Brokeback Mountain. Given the main-characters’ whiteness, though, nobody seemed to discuss Jack and Ennis as being on the down-low. Yet, the two main characters created opposite-sex families while also hiding their sexual adventures with each other. If that ain’t the down-low, I don’t know what is.

This film got billed as allegedly a same-sex romance. Yet, neither character showed heroism or real love toward the other. Rather, their romance and personal failings left behind more wreckage in Wyoming than a tornado in a mobile-home park. The most notable film on gay men presented them as simultaneously victims and villains, but never heros.

I understand that the film makers wanted to present the tragedy of homophobia. Got it. Maybe I can even let it stand as is.

We can be angry, though, that the media offers us hardly anything about queer heroism. We can be angry that the most recognizable queer figures in film are pretty mediocre individuals. Let’s be honest, who didn’t want to punch Ennis in the nose by the end of the movie?

The media’s obsession with the down-low casts queer folk as hypocritical, dangerous, and deceptive. These visions just continue what the media has presented about gay men since the 1930s. The media serves the same old gruel, but have added zesty toppings from either the ‘hood or the western frontier.

What the mainstream media rarely gives us are visions of queer folk's daily heroism. Being out and up-front about our lives still requires an active commitment. Even in my local community, I know of instances of courage and fortitude. East Texas ain’t exactly a hot-bed of liberalism, either.

At a local gym, for instance, one of the personal trainers is a lesbian. She had been working with one client for several months and they seemed to have a good, professional rapport. Then he arrived for his training in early November with his car plastered with anti-gay statements supporting the Texas Constitutional Amendment to Ban Same-Sex Marriage. When he entered the gym, she told him that, as a lesbian, she could not work with him given his hatred of gay folk. In this instance, this trainer was willing to sacrifice real, cash money from her pocket and perhaps her position in the gym to defend all of our rights. That’s heroic, in my book.

Her story is unique because it belongs to her, but it is not singular. Across the blogosphere, I frequently find queer bloggers discussing how they navigate being out in the work place, or being out at their children’s school, or being out to their families.

Likewise, because of my own blog, I have received several e-mails from people which describe incidents where they took a stand for queer rights. In some ways, we have become so used to these types of actions we often forget that they require courage and fortitude. We also don’t like to mention that not all queer folk are ready to take up these fights. Those who are willing, though, need their stories given more expression. They can be celebrated as queer heros.

Having queer desires does not automatically make you a hero. However, there are plenty of queer folk who do heroic things despite being in extremely homophobic settings. We need to see more of these stories reflected in the media. I want coverage about those living on the out-high rather than the down-low.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

GayProf, The Luddite

Being a historian predisposes me to liking old things. Or maybe liking old things predisposed me to become a historian. Whatever the case, I often resist the new.

All of my adult life, for instance, I have sought out apartments or houses that had some historical age to them. When in graduate school, I did not have an apartment that was younger than eighty years old. Granted, the plumbing in my last grad-school apartment frequently dumped all of my upstairs neighbor’s bath-water directly into my closet. All the same, I would have rather lived there than in one of the shiny, identical mego-complexes that dominant the U.S. landscape these days. My old, mildew infested apartment had character – Character! That should be worth a little black-lung disease.

Moving to East Texas made living in a historical place much more difficult. Texans seem to hate things that have some age to them. Still, I found houses that were part of the “historic district” of our community. Most Europeans would laugh to know that 1940 qualified as a “historic” district. Beggars, though, can’t be choosers.

Sadly, my current apartment lacks any character, warmth, or charm of something older. I moved into it during desperate circumstances, so we won’t talk about it.

My love of old things doesn’t just include the domicile. I have an unhealthy obsession with old dishes, old furniture, and Sir Ian McKellen. I tend to romanticize older objects and buildings. Without any logic, I presume that something older is better than something new. Much of this same type of knee-jerk thinking informs my presumptions that anything produced in New Mexico is far superior (but that is another entry entirely).

Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t romanticize the past or have some bizarre desire to live in another time period. Being a historian, I know life in the past suuuuuuucked compared to life today. Who, in their right mind, would say, “Yeah, transport me back to the nineteenth century. Indoor plumbing? Don’t need that. Electricity? Why would I need to see anything at night? Access to pork that won’t give me triginosis? I am sure that my digestive system could adjust. A nation free of legalized slavery? Bahh – Who needs to think about human rights when hoop-skirts were in fashion?”

No, my love of the old is not about wanting to recapture a fabricated, mythical past. Rather, I like old things because they are tangible links to the past, both the good and the bad. Old buildings and objects participated silently in generations of lives. Those objects that survived are mementos of untold loves, fears, hopes, and betrayals.

So, why do I bring up my penchant for the old? Consider this entry a desperate cry for help. My obsession sick-fixation love of older things makes my life much more difficult than it really needs to be. My biggest example would be my camera.

I adore my camera. It is a 35MM Pentax Spotmatic SLR screw-mount camera. I don’t own a digital camera, but instead romanticize the celluloid images produced by the Pentax. My father bought it while on leave in Japan during his Vietnam tour in the Navy. It is older than I am. How did I inherit this relic? Because my sixty-year-old parents upgraded to digital. The universe can’t possibly think that it is natural for the elderly folk to be more tech savvy than a 31-year-old gay boy.

I come up with all sorts of fabrications to justify my clinging to this camera. “You know,” I say, “film produces much more aesthetic and accurate images.” Just what do I think I am photographing? Time Magazine hardly bangs on my door to print pictures of my nephew’s eighth birthday. Truth be told, I don’t have the aesthetic eye to really know the difference between digital and 35MM prints.

This fear and resistance to digital only hinders my life and makes it much more complicated. I am actively hurting myself, people. Help me!

A digital camera would give me instant satisfaction. It’s anybody’s guess what types of images will come out of the film camera. My Pentax is big, bulky, and unwieldily. Sometimes I need to hire a Sherpa just to lug around all of its accessories and lenses. Nothing on this camera is automatic. By the time I adjust the shutter speed, aperture, flash angle, and focus, I probably could have just used charcoal pencils to draw a picture.

More and more, taking photos with the Pentax makes me into a spectacle. My friends rightly mock my luddite ways with statements like, “Wow – Does that produce daguerreotypes?” or “When will we get these images back? Two years from now?” or “Gee, do we need to sit still for the next hour while the film is exposed?”

Yesterday I attended a social event with some friends and colleagues. To capture the moment, I brought along the camera (See my To Do List below). When I asked a waiter to take a group photo, he looked at my camera and said, “Wow, you are old school. Do they even sell film anymore?” Yeah, he was a smart-ass. He might have had a point, though.

If you are reading this, send help. GayProf must join the twenty-first century. Perhaps by the time I move to Boston I will invest in a digital camera.

In the meantime, I must come to terms with the real reason I love the Pentax. Yeah, it has family connotations. Yeah, it is quickly representing a by-gone era of photo-making. More than all of that, though, the Pentax makes it easier for me to pretend to be Peter Parker.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

To Do, To Do

Summer has arrived. At least summer has arrived by the academic calendar, which has dictated the cycles of my life since I was six. Soon the heat in East Texas will become so unbearable that small children will chase after the ice cream truck, buy a Creamsicle©, and then spontaneously combust.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate hot weather? Yeah, I know -- I grew up in the desert. I should be used to the heat. Whatever. I hate being hot.

Now, I don’t mean “hate” the way some people toss that word around. You know what I mean. People say “hate” when they really mean “don’t care for it.” Do you hate peas? Or would you simply prefer not to eat them? Really hating something means a burning emotion that comes straight from the blood-red-rage of your soul for all eternity. Yeah, I hate heat like that. If I could murder hot weather in cold blood, I would already be calling a lawyer by now.

Anyway, that aside, I need to set my to do list for the coming months. Here are my goals for this summer:

    Finish my current research project.


    Teach Summer School, Session I.

    Try to repair my horrific credit record (thus the reason for teaching Summer School, Session I).

    Finish sewing that Wonder Woman costume. Though I might just settle for some extra, extra, extra large NRFP Underoos off of E-Bay.

    Build a bonfire out all of the things that liar ex (who told many lies) gave me in the past eight years. Then dance around the fire naked until they lose all of their evil magic powers.

    Watch the new Superman movie.

    Figure out ways to recover from my disappointment over the new Superman movie.

    Locate and rent an apartment in Boston.

    Aspire to add 20 lbs to my bench press, but probably settle for adding 10 lbs.

    Travel to Albuquerque to visit family and friends.

    Drink Tequila and/or Tequila based cocktails (I already have a head start on this one).

    Go to the only gay club in this small Texas town at least one more time.

    Figure out a reason to be interviewed by dreamy Anderson Cooper.

    Mourn the end of FDR’s New Deal -- again.

    Attend a wedding of a mutual friend of mine and the liar ex (who told many lies). Contemplate how I will maintain my decorum and not stab my liar ex in the eye with a dessert fork.

    Celebrate George W. Bush’s shameful resignation (Hey – I can hope).

    Make a list of all the things that I will miss about Texas while I am gone this coming year. That should fit on a post-it note.

    Travel to Chicago for work.

    Try to keep up the façade that I know (or care) what the hell people are talking about when they discuss the DaVinci Code.

    Contemplate if somebody could bounce a quarter off of Condoleezza Rice’s hair.

    Take photos of the friends in Texas that I want to remember.

    Shred photos of people I hope never to see again.

    Find new friends in Boston.

    Wax my car.

    Finally decide in my own mind if I think Carlos Mencia is funny or offensive.

    Be the first kid on my block to own the Wonder Woman comic relaunch (written by a gay man, don’t you know?).

    Figure out how to work all the functions on my cell phone.

    Start a riot.

    Locate and recover Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

    Make lemonade.

    Move to Boston.

Man, that’s a lot of work for me this summer. I better get started on that tomorrow. Well, maybe not tomorrow. Tomorrow I want to learn how to make a Denver Omelet. The day after that, though, I am on it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Are We Going to the Chapel?

Over the weekend, Emperor Palpetine Pope Benedict XVI issued yet another statement calling for Christians to defend opposite-sex marriage as a “pillar of humanity.” He predicted the usual doom and chaos should insane concepts like “civil unions” take root in more nations. He concluded by noting that no matter how many starving and abused children exist in the world, gay folk should never, ever be allowed to give one of them a loving home.

All of this talk about same-sex marriage reminds me that we, as a queer community, don’t seem to be discussing this fight nearly as much as hetero folk. It’s important, though, to rethink our assumptions before we get carried away by the dominant discussion over marriage.

I will offer truth in advertising: Long time readers know that I was married (without state-sanction) for eight years and that marriage ended badly. In the last year together, my liar-ex (who told many lies) pulled off a neat trick by demanding my unconditional trust at the same moments that he betrayed that trust with his many lies. The awful truth being, of course, that somebody who could be so heartless to another person’s pain was not worth my tears. Clearly I might have an ax to grind about the concept of marriage. Please take my crushing bitterness into account.

Still, I am not actually hostile to the notion of same-sex couples seeking marriage. Nor do I see it as a betrayal of the historical queer rights movement.

What concerns me is that the discussion of same-sex marriage is largely being shaped without our input. Moreover, it ignores a larger discussion about sexual freedom. For me, I imagine an ideal where individuals can negotiate the types of sexual relationships that are best for them without external pressure or risk of their basic rights. For some queer folk, serial monogamy proves the best and most ideal option. Others feel constricted by such notions and desire a different range of sexual and emotional experiences. Neither side should be expected to pay a price for their preferences.

We queer folk have forgotten some of the “liberation” bit in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) from the sixties and seventies. In the quest to obtain gay marriage (a fight largely created for us by heteros), we have not stopped to question the value of institutional marriage. Given the divorce rate among heterosexuals, clearly “traditional marriage” has some serious problems.

Thirty years ago, many of the GLF leaders imagined their fight for gay rights as an opportunity to benefit all people, regardless of their sexuality. They saw their actions as a means to break apart the institution of marriage that had kept both queer and hetero folk imprisoned in unhappy relationships. Even in 1970-Lawrence, Kansas, the GLF issued a statement:

The new sexuality [sic] is helping to free men and women from the restrictive roles and repressive institutions of Amerika. We are letting go of these securities in an effort to grab ahold of our lives and know who we are. Gay men and women are coming out into the open to help shape this new sexuality. We being confronted by an uptight, authoritarian, racist, sexist Amerika. So the Gay Liberation Front joins other oppressed brothers and sisters of Amerika and the Third World to struggle against the nightmare and create one world of people living together.

For many of these activists, traditional heterosexual marriage represented one of the most repressive institutions that bound individuals into unequal gender roles. They explicitly rejected marriage because they believed that it connoted ownership and limited one’s love.

In many ways, queer relationships start off with some advantages over hetero relationships. Same-sex couples occupy the same gender status in society, thus they have the potential to bypass some (not all) established notions of power that permeate opposite-sex relationships. For seventies radicals, ending traditional marriage was a key part of remaking society in terms of race, gender, and economic class.

With the rise of HIV and AIDS, though, much of this language became obscured. Notions of free love seemed dangerous, if not outright deadly. Many queer folk, it turns out, also wanted the security of long-term relationships. The revolutionary rhetoric of the sixties and seventies slowly disappeared or found labels of “unrealistic” and "dated."

Now it seems the queer community has become divided over a false dichotomy. On one extreme side are those who articulate the impossibility of monogamous LTR’s as naïve. For this group, being queer requires a repudiation of sexual monogamy as dishonest. On the other side, proponents of gay marriage imagine that equality will only result if queer folk conform to already established notions of heterosexual marriage. Under this thinking, the more recognition that two-person-same-sex relationships achieve, the more stability all queer folk will have. They ignore the possibilities and value of other types of relationships (non-monogamous ltr’s, triads, solitary).

We are left with an almost schizophrenic vision of what our queer relationships should look like. Both the mass media and queer media give us a bundle of contradictions about how to ideally attain love and sexual gratification.

Queer folk still have a unique place to critique and undermine the more unhealthy elements of traditional marriage. Our basic desires for sex with a person (or persons) of the same sex is a revolt against society. What bonds us all together is a desire to have love. How we manifest that love, though, depends on what we want from other people.

Now that the mainstream media and the right-wing thrust the fight for gay marriage upon us, we can’t ignore it or let it go. Still, we need to be careful that we don’t trade orthodoxy and conformity for our dreams of sexual liberation for all people. Fighting for gay marriage is important because some of us want to be able to oragnize our lives in that way. We should not, though, make it the standard by which we all live our lives or assume it to be an end victory by itself. The measure of our relationships should not be their durability or compliance with existing heterosexual standards. Rather, we should measure how well we treat each other in whatever type of relationship we form.

Creating gay marriages is not revolutionary by itself. Nor is having as much sex with as many partners as possible revolutionary. What can be revolutionary, though, is guaranteeing each other the rights to do what we want with our romantic and sexual lives. We should consider how well we work to honor, love, and respect each other as queer folk and our spectrum of sexual desires.

Our relationships can still live up to the revolutionary rhetoric of the sixties and seventies. It does none of us harm to have two queer folk form a monogamous, long term relationship if that is what they want. Likewise, we are not hurt by individuals who find those types of relationships imprisoning and prefer multiple sex partners (as long as all are willing, honest, and safe).

What we can do is promise to treat each other with esteem and always work to defend the multiple ways that queer folk form relationships. We also need to do our best to honor how our queer brothers and sisters arrange their lives and acknowledge their feelings. If we show the world what respecting each other’s sexuality really means, we will win a major victory for sexual freedom.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Contrary to Mary

Much virtual ink has already been spilled over Mary Cheney’s recent publicity blitz. Many bloggers have had smarter things to say than me. “Wait, GayProf,” I hear you saying, “We must know what you think about Mary Cheney. We have declared you the most desirable man on the blogosphere.” Okay, maybe you aren’t saying that. You are just thinking it quietly to yourself.

Oh, Mary, you are not merry, Mary. Yet again the mainstream media has singled out a gay conservative as the face of the queer community. Liberal queers (who are the majority of queer folk) are nowhere to be found on Good Morning America. Yet, we are learning much about how Mary takes her coffee and where she buys her furniture these days. USA Today even gushed about her appearance, reporting that Mary “dressed in an expertly tailored bright pink jacket and black trousers. Her makeup and hair are done simply but carefully.”

She has a new book that is about to drop entitled Now It’s My Turn. Her turn? Wasn’t she raised in a wealthy elite neighborhood? Didn’t she have the option to attain any education she wanted? Doesn’t she make more money in a year than most of us will see in our lifetimes?

When hasn’t it been your turn, Mary? What’s the matter? Isn’t AOL paying you enough to keep federal regulators off their back?

From early reports, Mary uses her book to do a great deal of whining about Democrats and those pesky gay activists during the 2004 campaign. We all recall that the Republican party used the anti-gay Marriage Amendment as a means to mobilize their base. During that time, a counter-campaign started called “Where’s Mary?” that asked why she didn’t speak out against the amendment. In her new book, Mary says that Democrats declaring her sexuality fair game “was outrageous.”

No, Mary, I don’t think so. Being tied to a fence post and murdered because of your sexuality is outrageous. Dodging shrapnel from a bomb in a gay club is outrageous. Being asked to defend people like yourself is not outrageous. That’s a call to arms, Mary.

Now I understand Mary faces some of the same mundane problems all of us queer folk face in our day-to-day lives. She probably gets caught in traffic driving to work. When she comes home, she and her partner, Heather, debate about where to eat dinner. Sometimes she argues with Heather about installing that stripper pole in the bedroom like Mary wants. In other words, despite the wealth and prominent parent, she is just a regular person. So, why do I expect more of her?

Quite simply because I expect more of all queer folk. I am just a guy with a blog, but I am tired of the mediocrity of people who present themselves to the press as queer, but not leaders. If you have a place in the national spotlight, you must use it to defend us. I am tired of queer folk who only care about themselves and don’t even think about their fellow queer brothers and sisters.

Mary Cheney understands that the conflict between her sexuality and her conservative political background will sell books. Queer folk will buy the book, wondering how she will justify her betrayal of us. Those on the right will buy the book, thinking her a good daughter, even if she is that way.

To sleep at night, Mary depends on a presumption that her actions don’t have any implications for people other than herself. In truth, she simply doesn’t care about other lesbians or gay men and feels no common bond with them. All she cares about is her own selishness. As long as she and Heather can be happy together, why should they care who else is suffering? Any tears she may create will never be her fault.

At the same time, though, Mary paints herself as just a hapless individual who got wrongly picked on by mean “activists” with their “gay agenda.” All Mary wanted, she claimed, was to live life in her sedate multi-million dollar mansion. Then those nasty gay folk kept pointing out her hypocrisy. What could they possible want from her? After all, Mary even promises to vote against the anti-gay amendment currently pending Virginia. Gee – Thanks.

Mary has a comfortable life because her political connections and economic privilege allow her to live comfortably. Her experience is far removed from the reality of our queer lives.

I have no pity or patience for Mary Cheney. Believe me, I understand bucking your family about queer issues might have been tough in the middle of an election campaign. I mean, on a good day, Dick Cheney shoots his friends in the face. Just imagine what he might have done had his daughter bolted.

None of us, though, have had an easy time with our families. In most circumstances, our parents grew up desiresing relationships with the opposite sex. They simply do not understand our experience.

For that reason, we queer folk don't have the luxury to think of ourselves as strictly individuals. We all must imagine a unity of purpose and community. Unlike Mary, we can pledge ourselves to be there for each other. We will demand better representation from the media and we will win against the homophobia that plagues the United States.

Yes, Mary, I criticize your blatant selfishness and depraved indifference to the suffering of people just like you. Yet, I would also defend you and try to prevent you from being placed on a truck because I understand you. We share a common bond. In the end, I expect the same support from all of my queer brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Diana Explains it All

Feeling life’s disappointments always leads me to think about Wonder Woman for comfort. A friend of mine recently suggested that our favorite book(s) as a child shows a great deal about how we approach life as an adult. If this is true, here are the things I learned as a wee-gay-lad from Diana:

    Being a princess doesn’t preclude you from kicking ass.

    Using your golden lariat in bondage and S&M situations actually serves a greater good for society.

    When your Amazon sisters need help, they will contact you on the psychic radio.

    Men, like Dr. Psycho, who irrationally hate women really suffer from self-esteem issues and insecurities about their height.

    Women, like Cheetah, who hate other women suffer from multiple personality disorder.

    Nobody cares if you wear a ridiculous red, white and blue Playboy Bunny costume, as long as you can kick ass.

    The ancient gods don’t seem to care if you refer to them by either their Greek or Roman names.

    Feminism benefits both men and women.

    You can still, run, jump and kick ass wearing six-inch high heels. Actually, this is a lesson I would learn again watching drag queens in college.

    Sometimes it is useful to bind yourself with your own golden lariat to force you to be honest with yourself.

    We can’t always control who captures our heart. After all, would you actively choose to fall in love with drippy Steve Trevor?

    Being in love with Steve Trevor does not mean that you won't kick his ass if he suddenly goes insane.

    You can heal the most grave injuries if you let them bathe in the soft glow of a purple light bulb.

    If you can type over 150 words per minute, you will be able to attain a job at any time with no questions asked.

    If you choose your fashion accessories carefully, you will be able to stop bullets and save lives with them.

    Fighting Nazis and supervillians is not an excuse for ignoring your appearance.

    Promoting a philosophy of love, equality, and reason is a noble pursuit.

    When people refuse to listen to your philosophy of love, equality, and reason, you may need to kick their ass.

    Nobody, no matter how evil, is ever beyond redemption. They just need to spend some extended time on Reformation Island having their ass kicked by your Amazon sisters.

    Regardless of the cost of gas, nothing can replace the convenience of owning an invisible jet.

    Sometimes you need help from the Flash.

    Most times, Batman will just get in your way.

    Day or night, you don’t really need a special reason to wear a golden tiara. This is especially true if that tiara doubles as a boomerang.

    Capes, however, are reserved strictly for special occasions.

    If your lover is killed and later brought back to life by the gods, your relationship will never be quite the same again.

    Taking Xanax makes life much more bearable. – Wait, that may not have been Wonder Woman who taught me that. Rather, I think it was Helen Damnation. Eh – Same diff.

    No matter if you are the second-most-powerful superhero on the planet, you are going to be asked to make coffee and take minutes in a meeting if you are a woman.

    If you are the most skilled Amazon, you will be granted the title of Wonder Woman.

    If, however, another Amazon comes along who is slightly better than you and takes the title Wonder Woman, have patience. The little bitch will eventually die.

    Regardless of your sexuality, spending all of your time with only one gender gets boring after the first 1,500 years.

    Being turned into a goddess and living on Mount Olympus is not as rewarding as fighting for justice and kicking ass on earth.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cream? Sugar? Eternal Salvation?

Gay Erasmus posted a story about an evangelical-Christian couple running an ex-gay cult out of an Australian Gloria Jean's. It made me wonder, just what is the deal these days with evangelicals and coffee?

Before Gay Erasmus, I assumed that the link between coffee and Christian conversion had been limited to my provincial settings. Then again, everything in this town has a dark Christian element. Heck, I can’t pick up my dry cleaning without having to listen to the good word. Still, I like their Judgement-Day specials that give my shirts extra starch for half price.

Every independent coffee house in this small Texas town reeks of moldering Christian piety. The local university newspaper even ran a (celebratory) full-length article documenting the ways that local java shacks double as Bible enclaves. “About 90 percent of our patrons are Christians,” one saved employee noted, “You can just tell from the Bibles on their tables and from the conversations that go on around the shop.”

They don't just keep those Bibles to themselves, either. A Jewish colleague once told me how an eager patron attempted to convert him over an espresso and cranberry muffin.

I consider myself a spiritual person, but would never identify as Christian. It always seemed like human hubris to assume we know all the complexities of the universe. Organized religion of all types seems to bring much suffering. Still, whatever evangelical Christians want to believe is fine by me. If they think I am going to hell, that’s okay because I don’t think they will end up in a pleasant place in the afterlife either.

When evangelical Christians start infiltrating coffee shops, though, they are intruding on what’s mine. You don’t see me trying to open all-night gay porn shops in their vestibules – yet. So, why are they trying to make scoring a java blast an opportunity to pass along their propaganda?

During the mornings and afternoons, coffee shops are supposed to be a refuge for academics and the fringe of society looking to ponder their existence with a caffeine buzz. At night, they should become a haven for drunks and Goth posers. Everybody entering a decent coffee shop should at least pause to think warmly about the Beat Generation, if they aren’t actually composing a beat poem right then and there. Wearing a beret and goatee is optional, but preferred.

Maybe this is why I can trust Mormons a bit more than evangelical Protestants. Yeah, Mormonism is just as insidious as other forms of Protestantism. Mormons hate everybody different from themselves. They hate sex. They hate gays. They hate birth control. They hate sheep (Uh -- I think). They hate women. Mormon’s anti-caffeine, anti-liquor stance, though, means I hardly ever encounter their crazy asses. If an eatery doesn’t offer either caffeine or liquor, I’m not showing up. Mormons don't come to my bars and coffee shops and I don't go to their stake houses or temples. We understand and respect each other’s space.

Don’t misunderstand me. I know creepy evangelical Christians have a right to open whatever business they want. Obviously, these Christian shops don’t get any of my money. If other caffeine-craving customers wish to substitute communion wafers for biscottii, that’s their own affair. I pray for them.

I see this as a much more serious problem, though. Bringing evangelical Protestantism into the coffee business threatens to make coffee radically uncool. We can’t allow that to happen. GayProf needs a decent cup of joe, people, that doesn’t involve scripture.

Evangelical Protestants aren’t content to just bring misery to their own coffee shops. Even faceless, soulless Starbucks© earned evangelicals’ wrath. Protestants couldn’t believe that they would have to drink coffee from a paper cup that quoted openly-gay Armistead Maupin. They probably imagined that their lips would soon be flamming.

What bothers me more than anything about the Christian coffee shops is that it seems radically inauthentic. These local shop owners claim they want to use coffee as a means to help others. Bullshit. These evangelical entrepreneurs just want to fatten up their own pocketbook. If they really had altruistic inclinations, they would be running soup-kitchens instead of steaming up $5 frothy mocha lattes.

Christianity has become another form of capitalistic branding. Why would you want to buy heathen coffee when you can have born-again Guatemala Estate? Why not buy a special $50 t-shirt to show you are a chosen one? There is nothing holy in these enterprises. I am confident, as well, that these Christian java shops don’t make any attempt to obtain fair-trade coffee, either. They don’t need to worry about the working conditions or human suffering that brought that coffee. These evangelicals can tell they are doing good by counting the number of Bibles on their customer’s tables.

Last night at the gym, I actually saw an ad for a day-spa that promised a facial and back massage “from a Christian perspective.” What the hell? I can only imagine that a Christian massage involves your masseuse making you feel guilty for having a massage in the first place.

Can Christian bars be far behind? Come to think of it, that might be an organized religion that I could get behind. Every cocktail could be counted as a prayer up to heaven. Of course, there would be a two prayer minium on weekends. Don’t bother, though, trying to go to confession unless you order a full round of prayers. The preacher isn’t going to want to hear your sins for the price of beer.

Monday, May 01, 2006

When It's Over

Given the events of the past year, many people have shared their own stories about relationships and break-ups with me. All of us share a common desire to be loved and similar feelings of shock, hurt, and despair when that love goes badly.

I have noticed that some subtle differences exist, though, between the ways that straight men and gay men articulate their feelings shortly after a break-up. GayProf does not make value judgements about these differences. I am not saying it’s good. I am not saying it’s bad. I am just saying there are some differences. Here are some examples of what straight guys often say when their woman dumped them and what gay men often say when their guy left them. Note: This should not be construed as necessarily autobiographical, but rather as a scientific composite of responses:

    Straight Guy: I can’t believe she left me. She was going to be the mother of my children.

    Gay Guy: I can’t believe he left me. We were finally going to install that sling.


    Straight Guy: My mother loved her.

    Gay Guy: His mother loved me.


    Straight Guy: Tonight I want to forget about her by getting drunk.

    Gay Guy: Tonight I want to forget about him by dancing – and getting drunk.


    Straight Guy: I can’t believe I spent so much money on her platinum wedding ring.

    Gay Guy: I can’t believe I spent so much money on his stainless-steel cock ring.


    Straight Guy: I wonder what she is doing right now.

    Gay Guy: Let’s light his truck on fire and watch it blow up.


    Straight Guy: Maybe I should have helped out with the housework more.

    Gay Guy: He should have helped out with the housework more.


    Straight Guy: She really understood me.

    Gay Guy: Sorry, I wasn’t listening to you. Can we talk about me now?


    Straight Guy: She became so insecure whenever I looked at porn. We fought about it constantly.

    Gay Guy: I can’t believe he got custody of all our porn.


    Straight Guy: She couldn’t cook worth shit. I had better food at McDonald's.

    Gay Guy: He was lousy in bed. I had better sex all alone.


    Straight Guy: Her friends never liked me. They turned her against me.

    Gay Guy: Let’s light his house on fire and watch it blow up.


    Straight Guy: Now I know how John Wayne felt when Montgomery Clift betrayed him in Red River.

    Gay Guy: Montgomery Clift was super dreamy.


    Straight Guy: I feel like she castrated me.

    Gay Guy: Let's burn him in effigy and watch it blow up.


    Straight Guy: How could she leave me for another man?

    Gay Guy: Let’s light his new tramp’s car on fire and watch it blow up.


    Straight Guy: For the first time, I really understand country music.

    Gay Guy: For the first time, I really understand the NRA’s position on gun access.


    Straight Guy: Fuck it – I am going to get laid.

    Gay Guy: Fuck it – I am going to get laid.