Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Urban Space

Gay men feel at ease critiquing each other. I am not talking about critiquing in the sense of saying that your belt totally doesn’t go with your jacket (Though, now that you mention it...). Nor am I talking about mocking Dorian’s inability to let go of Gil Gerard (Though, now that you mention it...).

Rather, I am talking about the fact that we often get snagged into endless internal debates about the proper way to express our sexualities to the rest of the U.S. Many conservatives within the community desire all queers to conform to heterosexual assumptions and models of behavior. They argue that elements like leather men or dykes-on-bikes degrade all queer folk. Some on the left, likewise, belittle those queers who are different from themselves. They disdain those whom they deem “too assimilationist.”

One internal debate that seems to be appearing more and more recently is over the issue of “gay ghettos.” Certain circles of gay men consider it fashionable to disparage gay ghettos as “antiquated” or “self-segregating.” The folk who take this position often claim that there is no longer a need for such places. Keeping them, they argue, just reminds heteros of our difference. Those who reside in gay ghettos, critics claim, are supporting queer separatism and probably harbor feelings of inferiority. Besides, they say, we have achieved enough social equality to be able to live [quasi] openly in the larger [read hetero] community.

Similar types of arguments have long appeared in discussions of racial minorities. “Why,” some people ask, “do African American students always sit together in class?” Dominant culture excludes those deemed “different” and then comes back with a demand for those same groups to pretend that difference does not exist.

All of these discussions, however, redirect attention away from the larger homophobic and racist institutions and practices that keep us unsafe. It makes our problems the queer community’s fault. The basic premise being that we must collectively act and look a particular way before we are worthy of civil protection. This idea also wrongly assumes that social equality will be achieved without a complete overhaul of our larger culture’s attitudes about queer sexualities and sexual freedom. Instead, it puts the onus on queers to modify their own habits and ideas.

Let me be up-front and say that I have not lived in a “gay ghetto.” For most of my adult life I have lived in towns where such a thing didn’t exist. I also have never been one who excludes or limits my circle of friends based on sexual orientation.

I am not inclined, however, to criticize those who do. Such impulses suggest more about a need for community and sense of security than a problem within queer circles. In particular, those who have just recently come to terms with their sexual desires often have little idea how to confront and challenge homophobia in their daily lives. They, therefore, seek the protection of simply being with other queer people.

Saying that gay people should not live in the gay ghetto always stuck me as the same as saying that Americans should not live in Detroit. It ignores the historical, economic, and social reasons why such a space exists.

Gay ghettos appeared from two contradicitory impulses. On one side, the white middle class wished to push all people deemed “unworthy” out of their urban neighborhoods. Racial minorities and sexual deviants often competed for, and intermingled in, this space (something that has changed in gay ghettos, which are rarely literal "ghettos," but that is another entry entirely ).

On the other side, queers wanted spaces that served as political and social sanctuaries where they could escape heterosexual domination. Queer folk wanted a zone where we would not be the object of homophobic assault if we pursued our sexual interests.

None of the critics of gay ghettos notice that heterosexuals maintain and police their own zones. Suburbia is rarely discussed as a means of self-segregating, though it often does just that, keeping white, heterosexual folk away from racial and sexual others.

Nor do those critics investigate the ways that heterosexuality allows people to bond with one another with ease. Heterosexuals invariably live, work with, and “hang” with a majority of other heterosexuals. Yet, they are rarely accused of separatism in the same ways that queer folk are accused. We just take it as a given that heterosexuals will most likely be with other heterosexuals all of the time.

Popular culture, religious leaders, and politicians still bombard us with messages that we have no value, are “unnatural,” and lead meaningless lives. It’s a small wonder that many in our community fall for addiction or other means to look for a temporary escape.

Even the allegedly more positive images of queer folk in the media often leave us ambivalent. We are in an era when heterosexual women are being told by the media that it is peachy, if not mandatory, to have a gay best friend. Gay men have become a fashion accessory and a means for straight women to testify to their own uniqueness by approbating ours. In the meantime, we are presented as less than a real person. Instead, we are merely a fractured mirror that can validate the latest shade of eye shadow for our gal pals.

Those who espouse a desire for all queer folk to conform and be like their hetero peers often receive greater social praise for their efforts. Keeping quiet, not being “too out,” or even pretending like we aren’t different maintains the status quo. This logic promises material success and stability as long as we are willing to negate the value of our difference or visibility.

Under these circumstances, it makes sense that gay men create a community with others who share similar experiences. Gay ghettos provide a space for men to bond with each other. Even if a form of self-segregation, it also provides a context where individuals can feel secure and safe.

I am not suggesting, obviously, that gay neighborhoods are unchanging utopias. Our circumstances as queer folk have changed. We are no longer forced to seek out red-light districts in major urban areas.

Gay ghettos have their modern problems. Commercialization, from my persepective, has often replaced legitimate queer liberation movements in many gay neighborhoods. Young queers can stand in a circle, mouth residual expressions from the seventies of “pride” without understanding its historical context, and purchase rainbow flags and cock-rings galore. This meaningless marketing of once revolutionary symbols strips these signs of their ability to serve the fight for concrete political and social change. Gay ghettos stand in danger of moving away from being communities geared to resistance and becoming communities geared to consumerism. Indeed, probably many of those same gay men who argue for the dissolution of gay ghettos also make a point of finding them when out on a tourist vacation.

Our goals, though, should not be judging each other and our living choices. Rather, we should remember that we all have a personal investment in pursuing sexual liberation. The creation of gay ghettos (and their continuation) emerges out of a desire to feel part of a larger group based on shared experiences and desires.

These city spaces can be, and have been in the past, places where fights for social justice emerged. True liberation has to start with our own acceptance of the variety of queer choices.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

GayProf Welcomes a Visitor

Fall seems on the verge of descending onto the city. We are alternating between crisp days and slightly muggy days. The trees are definitely preparing to get naked.

Over the weekend, Jeremy from In a Vault Underground stopped into Boston as part of his vacation tour. We had an opportunity to meet for the first time. For me, one of the great things about being a part of the blogosphere has been meeting new people like Jeremy.

Being fairly new to Boston, I was not sure what to highlight. Though an adoptive city, I am fond of Boston and want it have the best face for visitors. Everybody must come to the conclusion that it is one of the greatest U.S. cities ever, ever. In the end, I figured that you can never go wrong with drinking.

Here are some things that I learned while spending time with Jeremy:

    Jeremy’s blog title is not a metaphor. He works in an actual bank vault, underground, that has been converted into his office.

    I have adopted a surprising, “Like Me, Like Boston” attitude.

    Jeremy has some funny stories about his mother trying to “shock” him out of being gay. Of course, they are only funny in retrospect, horrific at the time.

    He has seen Dolly Parton in concert more times than I have seen any live music of any type. I am jealous.

    Jeremy testifies to Earl’s coolness in person

    I might be able to use Boston’s lack of a grid system to obscure my personal failures at following directions. Getting lost in Boston, afer all, can always be explained on those crazy streets.

    People in the Pacific Northwest order a drink known as the “Skinny Black Bitch” which involves vanilla vodka and diet soda.

    Seattle is one of the least racially diverse cities in the United States, with a population around 85 percent Euro American. This might also explain why they order things such as the above.

    Gay men can always bond over a discussion of porn.

    Gay men of a certain age, who are also nerds, can bond over a childhood crush on Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

    Gay men of a certain age, who are also nerds, can bond over being horrified that they ever thought that Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was attractive.

    Gay men, who are also nerds, can bond over being currently attracted to almost all of the male cast from the new Battlestar Galactica.

    Anybody who appreciates liquor can bond with me.

    No matter how I explain my current job, it always sounds really cushy. It might be because it is really cushy.

    Jeremy grew up in Texas. He did his undergraduate degree in Montana. Rural Montana seemed like Eden compared to Texas. That says a lot in my mind.

    Anybody of a certain age has at least one horrific relationship story.

I had a good time hanging with Jeremy. Meeting him, though, made me wonder about something. When are the rest of you lazy little bitches going to get your asses to Boston? Remember, GayProf’s time in this city is limited.

While you are looking into airfares, I will leave you with something from Brett. He recently fulfilled a life-long quest for me. Click here to see the video in all of its glory. What amazes me is how Brett knew that I had that exact outfit hanging in my closet. Of course, mine is really lime green with pink trim, not the other way around.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Tearoom is Not a Closet

Dorian recently had a smart opinion piece on former-New-Jersey-governor James McGreevey. It got me to thinking more about the media’s coverage of McGreevey and its potential meaning for queers in the U.S.

For those just recently returning from Iraq, you might have missed the McGreevey story. On August 12, 2004, McGreevey announced that he was a “gay American” and promptly resigned as governor. It later turned out that McGreevey had put his alleged lover on the state payroll (alleged because that man claims that McGreevey sexually harassed him and that they did not have a consensual relationship).

Now, two years later, McGreevey emerges a-la Mary Cheney to peddle a tell-all autobiography. He has been interviewed by virtually every news organization or television syndicate in the U.S.., including her royal highness herself, Oprah Winfrey.

I have not read his book. Nor am I particularly interested in his personal narrative. If the stories about him having sex with some guy while his wife labored in a hospital delivering their child are true, then McGreevey showed himself to be a first-class slime ball regardless of his sexuality. No extenuating circumstances could explain that to me. Sorry.

Still, it’s not the actual McGreevey, as a real individual, who interests me. Rather, the media’s obsession about McGreevey makes me leery.

Obviously the media loves a good sex scandal. How many more blow-job jokes can possibly be written about Bill Clinton? You would think that Monica was the first person on earth to think of putting a penis in her mouth.

The McGreevey coverage, however, goes beyond just another political sex scandal. In this instance, I think the media’s obsession with McGreevey reenforces problematic assumptions about queer men.

The media wants us to think that they are presenting McGreevey’s story as a liberal, cautionary tale about the dangers of the closet. “Look how the closet totally fucked up this man, his wife, and his daughter,” the media not-so-subtly commands us, “Isn’t homophobia just terrible?” This type of moralistic message thereby justifies all of the lurid content and confessionals that McGreevey happily offers up about his late-night encounters.

I can only go with the media so far in their reasoning. Yes, homophobia and the “closet” had a profoundly destructive impact on this man, his psyche, and those around him. Yet, it was not the closet, but rather his own cowardice and selfishness that prompted him to stay in that closet even as he wrapped his tongue around the closest available penis that he could find. If he had the personal strength to override the many, many, many objections he heard about putting his totally unqualified man in a key state position, he should have had the balls to be up-front with his wife and daughter.

McGreevey’s image in the media reenforces a long-established stereotype that queer men are psychologically dysfunctional and a potential threat to straight women, if not the safety of the entire nation. Rather than allowing the possibility to think about same-sex sex as a pleasure-based good on its own, the focus on McGreevey keeps up the notion that same-sex sex is ruthless, anonymous, and self-centered. One AP article highlighted that McGreevey “discussed back-alley trysts behind a Washington, D.C. synagogue and anonymous sexual contacts with scores of men in bookstores and rest stops.” The media is more than happy to grab his lurid confessions as long as they can frame it with a message of “Shucks, alley-way sex sure is wrong.” Indeed, the media often conflates his betrayal of his wife with gay sex. These, though, are two different entities.

McGreevey’s own words still imply a divide between being “good” and enjoying same-sex sex. The disgraced governor more than once has called his past “messy, shameful, sinful." McGreevey disparaged his sexual encounters, stating, “That's not where you find love, in the back of a booth. That's where you fulfill a physical need. But that's not being godly, that's not finding love." Let me see if I get this subtext right: Sex in a bedroom with candles and soft music? Godly. Sex on a pool-table with leather chaps? Ungodly. Got it.

Same-sex sex, under this thinking, becomes less legitimate than other forms of sexual expression. The media equates same-sex sex with being “uncontrollable” and something that is “taken” by any means necessary.

McGreevey told Oprah, "I was trying to be the best little boy; I was trying to do what was right." According to his logic, the “best little boy” orally servicing an aircraft carrier’s worth of sailors could not possibly be “right,” but only sinful. I, on the other hand, beg to differ. What could be wrong with something so, so right?

Compare McGreevey’s media attention verses another quasi-celebrity who just came out of the closet. CNN”s Thomas Roberts announced his own love of the hot man flesh last week. The media, however, just wasn’t as interested in Roberts. His outing, apparently, came without stories of sex romps in dumpsters. It did, however, accompany his unemployment.

Roberts’ sexuality did not apparently create the massive trauma that McGreevey’s did. He lived a pretty okay gay life. He had several relationships and seems, at least marginally well adjusted. That, apparently, is not the discussion of same-sex sexuality that captures media attention.

The media is also not interested in images of gay men who have been out for decades. Where’s the story in that?

Of course, the media doesn't just end with all that tearoom sex. McGreevey’s redemption, the media claims, came in the form of his newly found devotion to god and a (supposedly) monogamous relationship with an Australian-born financier. The media's version of McGreevey's narrative denigrates anonymous sexual encounters, but valorizes monogamous relationships. In so doing, it presumes that there can only be one appropriate form of sexual expression and that it has to be as close to traditional heterosexual, monogamous, marriage as possible.

The media has also seized on McGreevey’s use of religious language and imagery. Using an evangelical style conversion-type narrative, McGreevey explains “"What I didn't understand was that being gay, as with everything else, is a grace from God, and that by accepting that grace and by accepting that reality, by embracing that truth, I could authentically be who I was.” It seems to me that not too long ago exchanging the public payroll for ass-rides was authentically you.

McGreevey’s dominance in the media continues to place boundaries on sexual expression. Though it makes some nods to the problems of “being in the closet,” it also serves as a warning about veering too far away from a particular model of sexual expression.

Don’t misunderstand GayProf. I am not saying that all gay men need to be out having lots of tearoom sex to be sexually free nor am I condemning monogamous queer relationships as knock-offs of hetero relationships. Indeed, I have just as little patience for gay men who toss up a smoke screen of queer theory to disparage queers who opt for monogamous relationships (and I often find that these same folk have a pretty flaccid grip on queer theory). Assuming that what works for you should also be what works for everybody is dangerous. It only reenforces the status quo regardless of how revolutionary you think that your personal sexual habits are.

What I am saying is that there is nothing intrinsically better or worse about either tearoom sex or monogamous sex. Somebody is not a better human or more clever for engaging in either (or neither). Likewise, lying to a person who loves and trusts you so that you can have tearoom sex is not the same as enjoying tearoom sex.

I suggest that any attempts to restrict the erotic expression of consenting adults affects the ways that we all relate to our bodies and our sexuality. We must be willing to embrace the transgression of traditional boundaries if we are committed to obtaining a new level of sexual freedom for all. Moreover, we have to be willing to interrogate and explore all the representations of queer sexuality as they appear everywhere. Just because McGreevey happens to be a queer man does not mean that we can’t be critical of the ways that he has been used by the media.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tipping the Scales

This nation has a love/hate relationship with food. Everybody knows that we are getting fatter and fatter. You don’t need an extra eye to see that the size 40+ waist bands now take up almost a quarter of men’s clothing retail space. That’s precious space, too. Men get almost no love from clothing shops anymore. So, if retailers are putting out the elephantine trousers, people are buying them by the case.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the collective U.S. ass couldn’t even think about slipping on a pair of nationalized Calvin Klein jeans. In the year 2000, 28 states had obesity rates below 20 percent. In 2005, only 4 states had obesity rates below 20 percent. The worst offenders in the nation (I am looking at you Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia) had obesity rates higher than 34 percent. That means, in other words, that a third of those states’ population need a prying stick to get off the couch. Europe can’t figure out if we are gluttons or the bizarre off-spring of Jabba the Hutt and gold-bikini-wearing Princess Leia.

Look, I can understand the eating. Trust me. My weight often goes through some serious cycles. We all know that I can shovel back the Hello Kitty Pop-Tarts, mayonnaise, chocolate, and sweet, sweet liquor (No – not all at the same time – Smart ass). Right now I am sitting in my underwear with a cordial of vodka and a giant bag of M&M’s as my sofa companion. I therefore get the desire to eat and to eat things that aren’t that great for me (including processed and highly fatty foods).

Yet, it struck me on Sunday that Americans avoid eating food that actually tastes good. After enjoying a great round of dim sum with Jason, James and Whit, I thought again about the marked difference between Boston and Eastern Texas. Boston permits one to eat out constantly without ever setting foot in a chain restaurant. One can obtain variety and quality. With the exception of the omnipresent Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts (As an aside, Why is Boston so obsessed with DD?), I have yet to eat anything from a chain since I arrived here (thank the goddess).

Then I wondered if it was really a difference exclusive to Texas or actually the difference between those who live in certain cities (Boston, Chicago, New York) and those who live everywhere else. In Eastern Texas and the Midwestern town where I went to graduate school, eating at independent eateries was simply not possible. Chains had long quashed out 90 percent of locally owned restaurants before I ever appeared on the scene. If you wanted to avoid cooking, you had no choice but to eventually end up at a chain. It was kind of like jury duty.

Albuquerque seemed slower to succumb to this phenomena, but did relent. It long had a Chili’s (attached to a hotel), but that was largely considered laughable by people from the city. I witnessed first-hand, however, the slow infection of Macaroni Grills and Outback Steakhouses. Now it is hard to even distinguish parts of Albuquerque from any other mid-size city in the nation. All of the buildings and signs are identical. Even the suburbs of Boston, Chicago, and New York are endless seas of Friday’s and Olive Gardens. As a nation, we know that the food provided in those joints isn’t good. Why have they prevailed?

Americans love to eat, but I believe that they hate food. There is a collective fear of the unknown with edibles. Were we all just scared as high schoolers by being forced to read The Jungle? Did we just never quite get over it?

Americans seem to think that people are constantly trying to trick them into eating pure acid, rat droppings, or bugs. Once, in graduate school, I had served chocolate covered-dates as part of a cocktail party. Some people would not take these items at face value. They were certain that I was trying to get them to eat a grasshopper or something else equally mysterious under the chocolate coating (Who knew that dates were so unknown in the Midwest? That’s another entry entirely) . GayProf might be many things, but he does not have a reputation as a practical joker.

We can also look at the recent hysteria over e. coli in the spinach. You can almost hear shirt buttons popping as people toss out any remaining green items from their homes. “Fresh spinach? Oh, dear god, no! Those leaves will kill you with that coli junk. I knew it all along” they say, “Just give me a ball of caramel and a Double Whopper with cheese. That will at least hold me over until I can get a Sizzling Triple Meat Fundido from Friday’s.”

This partly explains why it is easier to find a Chili’s resturant in the U.S. than it is to find a well-maintained farmer’s market. We all, regardless of our backgrounds, have eaten at plenty of chain restaurants at this point. It would be almost impossible to avoid them and still travel in the United States. In the end, Americans have traded quality for the safe, consistent, and known.

I once had a friend explain to me, “Well, I don’t really like the chains. Still, I think it is safer for the kids.” Safer for the kids??

First of all, I thought her children were plenty old to be working in a factory. That’s another issue, though. Second, have we really come to the prepackaged means safer?

To me, I just see yet another way that capitalist brand identification has invaded our collective psyches without our questioning it. Just as Mac computers and Ikea furniture has convinced people that buying their products makes one “cool,” so also have chain resturants convinced people that eating their food is safer. This, though, is a slight of hand. “True, our food might be bland despite containing more sodium than Lot’s wife,” they tells us, “but do you really want to gamble on an independent restaurant? What if they don’t have an ‘Employees Must Wash Their Hands Before Returning to Work’ plaque in their bathroom! Do you want to risk your child's health just so you can eat locally?”

The really peculiarly thing, though, is that we all know that these things are lies. We know that national and international corporations would feed us our own small intestine if they thought they could make a buck. We know that a Chili’s employee could be just as unlikely (maybe even more unlikely given that Chilli's probably doesn't pay a fair wage) to wash his/her hands before plunking down a pile of fried potato skins in front of us. Yet, many often believe the myth.

The really smart chains, in my opinion, are the ones with the full bars. By the second cocktail, I could care less what the food tastes like. Heck, I might just skip the food altogether.

Eventually, though, you sober up. That’s when the regret hits you. As you stare into your coffee cup, bits of the night start to come back to you. “Oh, man! Did I really say the phrase ‘awesome blossom’ out loud? What was that last thing I ate? Fried maccaroni and cheese? How was that even possible? I am never going near tequila again, man. That’s it. I’ve hit bottom this time.”

Right now, when I see an advertisement come on t.v. for a chain restaurant promising me a fried glob in a family-friendly environment, I am sure glad that I am in Boston. I will take my fried globs in a dim-sum friendly environment, thank you.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Several topics came to mind as I thought about a weekend post. My current internal debate about whether or not to file for bankruptcy takes up a good chunk of my waking hours. These many months of paying my half of the mortgage on the accursed-Texas house + rent for apartments where I am actually living have devastated my already-disastrous-financial situation, perhaps beyond repair. Discussing that, though, would just make me down.

My current road toward a total mental collapse also crossed my mind as a topic. That, though, would just make all of you down. Please send flowers when I finally do end up at the asylum. Like Kathryn Hepburn, I love the calla lilies. My head doesn't jiggle when I say it, though.

Then there are my concerns that Cat is developing an eye infection. That, though, would just make PETA down.

So, all I have left in terms of topics is work.

Yes, my life of leisure ended as I started at the institute last week. Until the Logo channel asks me to star in that all-gay remake of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, I have to earn those coins somehow. It’s hard out here for a prof.

Many of you have asked, “GayProf, we learned from your amazing blog that you aren’t teaching right now. We thank the creator everyday that your blog exists. Truly, you are the most desirable man on the blogosphere. Still, just what are you doing this year in terms of work?”

Well, some of you have asked this.

Alright, a few of you have inquired.

Okay, one of you asked – and he was just being polite. He might also have left out the bit about the creator. Still, the question got posed, so I will answer.

As faithful readers know, a Boston institute essentially bought my Texas-university contract for the year. More or less “on loan,” I am here temporarily to work on/talk about my research. It’s a pretty sweet gig, if you can get it.

Much to my shock, though, people who pay your salary suddenly think that they own your time or something. They have these crazy ideas that I need to go to an office Monday through Friday. There is also something about my showing some sort of productivity. Whatever.

If not teaching, though, then what? Well, that would be the role of a “research fellow.” Most of my time this year will be spent toiling in archives (researching). The other part devoted to attending colloquia (fellowing).

“GayProf,” I hear you asking, “What happens in these colloquia? Also, how did you become the god that walks amongst us?” Both of those are tough, but fair, questions We can only deal with the first today.

Colloquia are the places where scholars present their research to other scholars. Ideally, they present their work at an early stage of their research project, get feedback, and revise it to a better product later. Typical colloquia at most universities go like this:

    For forty minutes, Professor Jones describes an academic problem and how his/her research addresses that problem. So, for instance, I might make a presentation on how people imagined same sex-sex at mid-century using vintage gay pornography as my basis of research. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

    For twenty minutes, the audience asks questions about the research. For example, somebody might ask me if I watched Sailor in the Wild over and over again to appreciate its historical relevance and complexity. Somebody else might ask if my research project is really just a flimsy excuse to watch porn all day. Clearly, though, that person would not be a serious academic like me.

    For another twenty minutes, the audience gathers at a reception to drink vinegar red wine and eat cardboard cookies provided by campus catering. (Given my fancy digs this year, though, these are actually pretty good. It pays to have money).
If you work at a state-owned university, then you replace the wine with tortured brown water coffee.

Now, you might suspect that Professor Jones would be the one who is scrutinized given it is his/her research being presented. Not so fast, say I.

You see, the odd thing about colloquia is that the Q&A period is the most important section of the event. Why? Well, let’s take a look at the reasons why other scholars ask questions during a colloquium:

    30 percent of questions are motivated by a genuine interest in the topic

    40 percent of questions are motivated by an attempt to appear smarter than the presenter

    20 percent of questions are motivated by grad students attempting to curry favor with the presenter

    10 percent of questions are posed by scholars who have lost all sense of reality and have only the vaguest idea of where they even are at that moment.

So, as a presenter, one learns an entire secret language for how to sort through these different questions. Once again, it’s time for “What They Say and What They Really Mean” Theater at the Center of Gravitas. Here are some common academic responses when asked a question and what they are really telling their audience.

    What They Say: That’s an interesting question.

    What They Mean: Your question bores me.


    What They Say: I had not thought of this research problem like that before, but you question has given me a new way to conceptualize my project.

    What They Mean: I think that you are nuts.


    What They Say: Could you explain your question a bit more?

    What They Mean: Your question totally stumped me and I don’t have an answer. I am buying time until I think of something smart to say.


    What They Say: This reminds me of a story about [insert historical figure’s name].

    What They Mean: I totally zoned out while you were talking and I have no idea what you just asked me.


    What They Say: Read my recent article in [insert name of journal here] and you will see how I answered that problem.

    What They Mean: I am a complete prick.


    What They Say: My research suggests that [x] is probably true.

    What They Mean: I just made up this entire presentation last night in my hotel room.


    What They Say: I want to keep my response short so that we will have time to talk at the reception later.

    What They Mean: I am a serious alcoholic and can’t wait until we open the wine (I use this one a lot in my own presentations).


    What They Say: You are right.

    What They Mean: You are wrong, but I want you to stop asking me questions.


    What They Say: Your question really gets to the heart of my research.

    What They Mean: Your question really gets to the heart of my research.


    What They Say: That's an issue that I am going to explore in my next research project.

    What They Mean: I am ignoring this gapping hole in my research and I don't care what you think about it.


    What They Say: When I was speaking with [insert famous scholar’s name], he/she mentioned this same issue.

    What They Mean: I know smarter people than you.


    What They Say: I don’t know.

    What They Mean: I don’t know.


    What They Say: If you have time later, I would really like to talk more about your question.

    What They Mean: I want to see you naked.


    What They Say: That question is a bit outside of my expertise, but I will try to answer.

    What They Mean: Your question is totally about your own research and has nothing to do with my work at all. Did you even listen to my presentation?


    What They Say: This reminds me of a conversation that I had with my freshman class the other day.

    What They Mean: You are a simpleton.


    What They Say: I am not familiar with the background literature on that question.

    What They Mean: I am a simpleton.


    What They Say: I don’t subscribe to that more “trendy” way of doing this type of research.

    What They Mean: My research methods are horribly out of date.


    What They Say: Let me look at my notes again.

    What They Mean: Shit, you found a huge hole in my research.


    What They Say: I am glad this question came up.

    What They Mean: I love, love, love the sound of my own voice. I now have an excuse to talk for another twenty minutes uninterrupted.


    What They Say: I think that your research [recent article/recent book] is really important to that question. Much of my current work, actually, is based off of some of the issues that you have already raised.

    What They Mean: I am about to go on the job market and am hoping that you will write a letter of recommendation for me.


    What They Say: We probably don’t see this research question in quite the same way.

    What They Mean: I loathe you.


    What They Say: When I revise this research project, I really want to incorporate those ideas.

    What They Mean: I secretly want you to spank me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Can't Get a Date?

Recently, I developed a theory. Perhaps world leaders engage in destructive practices because they don’t have enough love in their personal lives. Maybe the globe has become a punching-bag for all of these folks to express their frustration at not having found their soul mate.

As a result, the Center of Gravtias will now provide a new service to these public figures. Being a volunteering type of guy, I have offered to start a dating site. All of these leaders have submitted their personal ads to me in hopes of finding a better match than their current spouses. I asked them some basic questions that you find on most dating sites. I think it will pay off for them.

Let’s take a look, shall we?


    Real Name: George Bush, Jr.

    Handle: Señor Prez.

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? Bonzo, the Chimp

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? The Man in the Yellow Hat – Man, he sure loved that little curious monkey.

    Also, I like that George Washington fellow. The interesting thing about him is that I read three -- three or four books about him last year. Isn't that interesting?

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life? I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake.

    What are you looking for in a life partner? A good woman who will stand by her man no matter how many times she has to explain the rules of Chutes and Ladders. Or maybe a helper monkey.

    Hobbies: Baseball, Collecting Stickers, Shirking My Duties to the Nation

    How Did Your Last Relationship End? Laura caught me using the crayons on the walls again. She really hated that. She nagged me too much. She kept thinking that I couldn’t understand simple objectives -- like literacy, literacy in math, the ability to read and write. Laura also started smashing up my pretzels for me.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: Hiding in Air Force One’s toilet during September 11.

    Personal Essay:

    I’m the type of guy who reads. My ex wife, Laura said you ought to try Camus. I also read three Shakespeares. ... I've got a eck-a-lec-tic reading list.

    This time around, I want a relationship that’s more interacted like. If you go out with me, you know that I am a take charge type of guy. I'm the decider, and I decide where we will eat. If I decide that we are going to eat seafood, then we eat fish.

    I hate to travel. My current job makes me travel too much. One time I was in that Brazil place and the president showed me a map. Wow! Brazil is big.


    Real Name: Anthony “Tony” Blair

    Handle: Poodle Boy

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? Paris Hilton’s Dog Tinkerbell

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? George W. Bush

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life? When I first met George W. Bush.

    What are you looking for in a life partner? George W. Bush.

    Hobbies: Listening to George W. Bush, Doing Whatever George W. Bush asks me to do, Waiting for George W. Bush to Call Me, knitting

    How Did Your Last Relationship End? She wasn't George W. Bush.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: When George W. Bush pretended like he didn’t know me.

    Personal Essay:

    Only one person on this earth holds my attention and that is George W. Bush. He is bold. He is the decider. He decides things for me all the time.

    Bush is the heart, the soul, the nerve, and the reality of Tony Blair. There is only one man in my heart with his own source of light. I feed off of that light. And that man is George W. Bush.

    I don’t understand why people give him such a rough time. It is not a sensible or intelligent response for us in Europe to ridicule American argument or parody their political leadership. Instead, we should embrace them. Oh, how I long to embrace George W. Bush.

    When I last saw him at the G8 summit, I gave him a sweater. In fact, I knitted it.

    Tell him to call me. I can't live without him.


    Real Name: Alberto Gonzales

    Handle: Watcher

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? The Jawas from Star Wars.

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? Porfirio Díaz and J. Edgar Hoover

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life? When I was able to make it legal for me to listen in on people’s private phone conversations. No more sneaking around! Finally, I could do it without shame. Good times, good times.

    Hobbies: Listening to People’s Phone Conversations, Watching People Through Windows, Going Through People’s Mail, Embarrassing Latinos Everywhere

    What are you looking for in a life partner? I want somebody who is a home body, but doesn’t need to be too near me all the time. I prefer a relationship where there can also be some distance. My ideal evening would be watching the woman I love cook a meal – as I hide in the bushes across the street with binoculars. Now that’s romance!

    How Did Your Last Relationship End? She went to the Supreme Court for a cease and desist ruling.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: The most embarrassing moment was when Condi found me reading her diary. Man, though, that girl talks a lot about Lauren Green.

    Personal Essay:

    I don’t have to answer this part. There are, for example, exemptions in FOIA in which the government can withhold certain kinds of information, and the courts have recognized that there is certain documentation that do deserve protection, that certain privileges do apply and do deserve protection. I consider this one of those times.


    Real Name: Condoleezza Rice

    Handle: FoxyMama

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? Lucy Van Pelt

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong for their strength of will.

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life: Going back to my birth place, Birmingham, Alabama. After achieving so much by gaining an education and working in government, I was glad to be able to go home and laugh at all the poor people who still live there. That was great.

    What are you looking for in a life partner? They must have a will like iron and a soul as cold as the grave. It would be nice if they could cook, too.

    Hobbies: Dominating the World, Misleading Diplomats, Trying Out New Hairdos

    How Did Your Last Relationship End? I unhinged my jaw and swallowed him whole.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: I don’t make mistakes. Did you know that I could have you killed for suggesting that?

    Personal Essay: I’m just a simple girl who plays the piano and loves good art. Basically, I am looking for my equal. But my romantic partner will still have to be willing to do my bidding and never question my judgement. The last thing I want is a tyrant in my house

    Don’t cross me. I don’t need to remind everybody that tyrants don't respond to any kind of appeasement. Tyrants don't respond to negotiation. Tyrants respond to toughness. I am tough. Grrr. Hear me roar.

    My relationships are like my music. I love Brahms because Brahms is actually structured. And he's passionate without being sentimental. I don't like sentimental music, so I tend not to like Liszt, and I don't actually much care for the Russian romantics Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, where it's all on the sleeve. With Brahms it's restrained, and there's a sense of tension that never resolves.


    Real Name: Donald Rumsfeld

    Handle: Rummy

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? The Talking Trees from The Wizard of Oz

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? Ghengis Khan, Attila the Hun

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life? Being able to start two wars! I am working on a third right now. People give war such a bad rep. Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.

    What are you looking for in a life partner? I want somebody who knows how to drive a tank.

    Hobbies: Invading nations, Undermining Foreign Governments, Lighting Things on Fire

    How Did Your Last Relationship End: You're thinking of my wife as the woman I am married to. I don't. I think that's old wife.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: Oh my goodness gracious! Probably when I said that we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq.

    Personal Essay:

    Don't "overcontrol" like a novice pilot. Stay loose enough from the flow that you can observe, calibrate and refine.

    I don't do quagmires.

    I don't do diplomacy.

    I don't do foreign policy.

    I don't do predictions.

    I don't do numbers.

    I don't do book reviews.

    Call me.

Of course, the Center of Gravitas will also permit television personalities to use this new service as well:

    Real Name: Jeffrey, from Project Runway

    Handle: Asshole

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? The Illustrated Man

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten), Don Rickles

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life? When I made Angela’s mother cry.

    What are you looking for in a life partner? I want somebody who doesn’t question me about anything ever. I am always right. Always. Shut up.

    Hobbies: Praising myself, Admiring myself, Dress making, Appreciating myself

    How Did Your Last Relationship End? I have never had a relationship. For some reason, nobody wants to spend more than five minutes with me.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: When I saw how silly my tattoos look on t.v.

    Personal Essay:

    Everybody sucks except for me. Nobody has talent like I have talent. Compared to me, you all are worthless. Everybody is persecuting me. I hate everything. Waaaaaaaa.

    I just don’t understand why I don’t have a serious relationship. I have so much love to give.

Finally, the last one never submitted his paperwork. So I decided to go ahead and fill this one out on his behalf:

    Real Name: Anderson Cooper

    Handle: Coops

    Which Celebrity Do People Think You Most Resemble? Anderson Cooper

    Which Historical Figures Do You Most Admire? Emiliano Zapata and Dolores Huerta

    What Was the Best Moment in Your Life? Being mentioned on an obscure gay blog.

    What are you looking for in a life partner? I am looking for a university professor with dark hair, eyes, and goatee. Preferably somebody who studies race, gender, and sexuality.

    Hobbies: News stuff

    How Did Your Last Relationship End? I just felt that I could make a better connection if I found somebody who was born and raised in New Mexico.

    Tell Us About Your Most Embarrassing Moment: Well, I am still not out of the closet in a fully public way. That’s a mark of shame.

    Personal Essay:

    I can sum up what I am looking for in one word: gravitas.

Let the magic happen, people.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Coward Turns Away, but a Brave Man's Choice is Danger

I had not planned to write about September 11. As a historian, however, I am inclined to want as many people to write about their experiences as possible. One can only presume that future historians will have access to blog content. The more voices and perspectives they have, the better their work will turn out. Trust me – as I search out ever scrap of paper that I can find from the Taos Rebellion of 1847, particularly from Mexicans’ perspectives, I want life to be easier for other history folk.

Still, I an not inclined at this moment to write about my own day for whatever reasons. As a result, I planned to let the day go by with a quiet respect for those who suffered.

I just can’t stomach, however, Georgie Bush trying to use September 11 for his own political gain yet again. For twenty-two minutes last night, Bushie dishonored the nation with his thinly veiled effort to build consensus behind his administration’s disastrous foreign policy. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who thinks that George Bush is the last person to be able to claim a moral authority or sense of leadership from September 11. Then I find that Keith Olbermann’s scrotum apparently contains balls of granite. More than any of our pitiful elected officials, Olbermann talks about the anger that many Americans feel.

Nobody ever wants to point out Bush’s failures on that day. Given how much Bush likes to sell himself as the center of 9/11, why doesn’t anybody ever remember his actual actions on that day? Democrats long ago proved themselves uwilling or unable to criticize the President. Thus, they are constantly surprised when an angry public rejects them (I am looking at you, Mr. Liberman).

Unlike the everyday people in New York, Washington D.C., or on board the hijacked planes, who showed personal heroism, Bush revealed his true inner character as a pitiful coward. Bush was not a leader – Indeed, I think that Bush is responsible for making September 11 even worse by disappearing for almost the entire day. Rumors abound that even George Bush, Sr. expressed disappointment at his son’s dishonorable behavior on September 11.

Bush’s slow response at Booker Elementary School took a prominent place in Michael Moore’s film about the event. Famously, Bush sat dumbfounded and quite obviously out of his league.

Yet, even Moore shied away from pointing out the President’s even more reprehensible actions for the rest of the day. Like everybody, I sat glued to the television. I remember clearly watching Air Force One leave Florida. I always despised Bush. Nothing would change that. As I saw the 747 leave the airfield, though, I admit that I felt some relief.

See – There is a certain script to national crises. It doesn’t really matter who holds the office, but Presidents are just supposed to perform certain actions. As a show of leadership and national strength, the President must return to Washington, D.C., the center of government, during an event of that magnitude. “Even if he is a horrible President,” I thought, “at least he is doing that.”

It turns out, though, I was way off by a long, long mile. Bushie did not return to Washington, D.C. He simply disappeared for hours and hours. Unknown to the public, Bush ordered Air Force One to circle Sarasota Florida so that he could decide whether or not it was safe for him to go back to the Capitol. From 9:57 am to 10:32 am, Air Force One simply went in circles.

Secret Service always assumes the worst case scenario. Their goal is to keep the President and other key leaders safe. As a result, they will give the most conservative advice possible. That’s their job. We should not be surprised, therefore, that they suggested that Bush stay clear of Washington, D.C.

Indeed, Secret Service often gives this advice to presidents during moments of turmoil. John Kennedy heard that he should leave the Capitol during the Cuban Missel Crisis. The Secret Service feared for Franklin Roosevelt’s safety in the White House during World War II.

It’s the job of a leader, however, to set aside his own personal safety in favor of the greater good. He or she has to understand that upon taking that type of job, you no longer can think of your own individual safety. As President, you are a key symbol and must show the strength and determination of the public. As Commander-in-Chief, you need to be willing to lose your life if you are to ask any soldier to lose theirs. JFK did not leave even as the threat of nuclear attack seemed imminent. Roosevelt added some black drapes to the White House so it would not be as visible at night, but buckled down for the long haul. Abraham Lincoln refused to depart when the White House stood literally miles from the battle front. Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to assassinate Harry Truman, but he stayed put. That’s just what presidents do.

Bush, however, was never presidential material. His entire life history showed that he only thought of himself and rarely did anything that required actual courage. Yet, I am still amazed that at 10:32 am on September 11, George Bush, Jr. decided to run away from the horrific events of that day and protect himself. The blue jet veered away from Florida and set a course the opposite direction of the White House.

At 11:45 am, Air Force One landed at Barksdale Airforce Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. At 12:30 pm, Bush taped a short speech. He looked dreadful and close to tears. They were not, though, tears of mourning. Rather, he looked to me like he was crying for himself and his own fear. Not surprisingly, I could not find a video clip of this moment. It really doesn't fit with the adminstration's revised version of that day.

This time around, Bush apparently decided there were too many witnesses to his personal failures. After stocking-up on the Depends, he ordered almost all of the press off of the presidential jet, leaving them stranded in Louisiana. At 1:30pm, he departed and eventually flew to Nebraska. I began to wonder, is Bush trying to make a run for Canada? Is he on the verge of simply abdicating and we will never hear from him again?

He landed at Offutt, Nebrasaka at 3:00pm and immediately went deep into a bunker designed to withstand a nuclear blast. Sitting 1,392 miles from the Capitol, Bush hid in his underground cubby hole for hours. People expected him to give another speech or statement to reassure a grief-stricken nation. He did not.

Eventually, public outcry reached the White House. Karen Hughes and Karl Rove concocted elaborate stories about Air Force One having had terrorist threats. By September 27, 2001, The Washington Post proved that the White House fabricated these stories in order to explain Bush’s cowardice.

Some people like to say, "Give him a break. He is only human. What would you have done?" See, the problem with that being that I am not the President of the United States. I am just a guy with a blog. Still, I am tired of a man who wants unquestioned devotion when he has shown no signs of real leadership. We are supposed to expect more of our president than ourselves.

Bush did not actually return to the White House until ten hours after the first attack. During that time, panic throughout the nation increased. Though Bush loves to talk about standing on rubble with a bullhorn, he did not get to New York City until three days after the attack. In contrast, former President Clinton and Al Gore (the man who actually won the popular vote in 2000) both made immediate arrangements to reach New York City.

Maybe we can set aside that Bush simply didn’t care about the nation, but he didn’t even seem to care about the people that he allegedly loved. During his zig-zagging across the U.S., Bush seemed indifferent to his wife’s location. She, unlike him, was at the White House throughout the day. The White House being the place Bush desperately avoided going. Nor did he care about his daughters. Did he ever ask about their safety as he went into his bomb proof bunker? All he thought about was saving his own pitiful ass.

However we judge John F. Kennedy today, he, unlike Bush, understood the role of the Presidency as more than an individual. He ultimately traded his life for the job. “A man does what he must,” Kennedy wrote, “in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” Based on this criteria, we can see Bush’s reaction to September 11 as not only cowardly, but immoral.

Bush wants us to judge his administration using September 11. Okay, say I, let us judge him from the moment it occurred. For me, his decision to run away and hide in the midst of catastrophe will always be the defining moment of his life.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Join the Carousel and Be Renewed

Lately I have been thinking. I am like that – a thinker. Always with the thinking am I. For instance, I wonder about when it became okay to refer to fruit drenched in sugar paste as “yogurt covered.” Back in the day, yogurt-covered implied that the company actually used yogurt at some point in the production of their food stuffs. Now, though, yogurt-covered is just a nicer way to say high-fructose corn syrup with white dye.

This gets me to thinking about white chocolate, which is not chocolate at all. Once again, it’s just sugar, people. To be chocolate it needs the beans of the cacao tree, which are never white.

Hmm, real chocolate sounds good right now. Maybe some type of chocolate covered fruit?

Gee, I should get some fruit at the market. They say you should eat five servings of fruit per day. Does anybody really eat that much fruit?

I wonder if putting it into my Nambé bowl would stain it. Why is Nambé (a product of New Mexico, don’t you know?) so frickin’ hard to polish anyway?

When I am not contemplating such scintillating topics, though, I have been thinking about age in the queer community. The Center of Gravitas hardly breaks new ground by observing that the queer community has a youth obsession. Indeed, all of North America has a youth obsession.

Still, I wonder about the particular ways that this youth obsession gets played out amongst the queer folk. At about the same time that I went through my breakup with Liar Ex (who told many lies), a straight-male colleague of mine also went through a divorce. Perceptions about our breakups could not have been more different, however.

Het men in their thirties, he learned, are a hot commodity. Straight women, according to him, are in the market for a man his age. They get even more aggressive if that het man is settled, has a good job, and is reasonably okay looking – All of these things, people informed him, meant his next move after his divorce would be nothing but sunshine and good times.

Keep in mind that my het colleague had an additional six years on his birth-clock compared to me. What did I hear, though, after my breakup? “Oh, GayProf,” they would say, “It’s really sad because you know that you are long past the golden period of gay life. By gay standards, you are old.” At the age of 31, they believed, staking out time in the queer limelight was as possible as growing wings and flying to the moon. What did all of this tell me? I mean beyond the fact that I needed better friends?

Upon thinking about it, this particular brand of ageism is tied to homophobia. It’s another way that the queer community is made to seem more dysfunctional than hetero folk. This type of dialogue implies that gay men are more superficial and less capable of forming meaningful relationships. Moreover, it’s a message that we often impose on ourselves.

I used to make the standard jokes about my age in “Gay Years.” This joke usually suggests that gay men need to multiple their actual chronological age by another number to get the “het” equivalent. Kind of like we are dogs. The implication of “gay years” being that queers have a shorter shelf-life than other folk.

The same jokes also appear about queer relationships. If a gay couple sticks together for ten years, they are said to be celebrating their “silver anniversary.”

I started to think about these jokes, however. Gay Years implies we have limited value compared to het men. Allegedly, queer relationships are also more fragile than straight relationships and therefore don’t last as long.

Straight women, I imagine, get similar messages about their age as well. Certainly, like straight women, gay men are presumed to be always in competition with each other. Gee, who could have guessed that straight men would somehow come out on top in our society?

I hear what some of you are saying. “But, GayProf,” you exclaim, “We can all agree it’s bad, but that just the way it is. What can we really do about it? People like young over old. Besides, what do you care, GayProf? You are ageless. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Alright, maybe that last bit isn’t there – I am more the Alpha and the Epsilon.

It’s not that I am suggesting that the youth bias does not exist. Clearly it does. One can go to almost any gay bar and see the battle lines. Nor am I suggesting that we need to repudiate what we individually find sexually attractive. Young and pretty can really be young and pretty.

I also recognize that some of this can be my own personal taste. While I certainly appreciate youthful good looks, I always preferred those who can engage in conversation more. Men in their early twenties, no matter how intelligent, usually lack the level of experience or insight to be really interesting to me. I don’t want no Tarzan, cause I ain’t no Jane.

Rather, though, we can all pause and think about how we grapple with assumptions about same-sex desires and age in our day-to-day lives. Moreover, we can reconsider what we are really saying about our community when we talk about our journey to the grave.

There are the youthful darlings who travel in gaggles judging and shunning their queer elders. Of course, they are completely oblivious to the fact that, according to their own rules, they will be ancient within a matter of years, if not months.

Then there are the queer folk who have internalized the youth fetish and despise their own aging. Last night I stopped into a Boston gay bar for a quick cocktail. It struck me how many men there refused to acknowledge their real age. In a failing effort to stop looking like they are in their later thirties or early forties, these men have undergone numerous chemical peels and applications of skin spackle. Some have even opted for the surgery. Even with the dim lighting, their skin didn’t look youthful. It looked completely artificial. Some of them looked more like they had survived a fire rather than having simply aged a bit.

All of the focus on youth ignores a more complicated reality about aging within the gay community. Assuming that gays have a limited window of appeal presumes that all gay men seek white, buff, hairless, A&F models that companies market directly to us. This we know to be an outsider’s perception of the queer community.

Our collective desires prove much more diverse than A&F models, as the plethora of bear bars suggests. Whether we think it is a healthier alternative or not, the quest for “daddy” types has also been within the queer community since at least the nineteenth century. These desires, at their basic level, put an erotic emphasis on men of an older age. Again, I am not saying this dynamic is better, but it does undermine the presumption that queer boys only go for the model-perfect twenty-somethings.

While still in Texas, I had a gay-acquaintance from the gym. He had also gone through a breakup of a decade-long relationship (Yes, I seemed to find myself in the middle of a group of divorced men). In his early forties, he expected life had passed him by given the constant stream of “gay-life ends at 25" messages that he heard. Yet, he became one of the most popular objects of affection at the local gay bar. Indeed, he reported seeing more action than he had during his twenties. Trust me – Nobody mistook him for Prince William. Rather, a significant number of gay folk (of all age-ranges) found his appearance at 40+ attractive and sexually exciting.

We should not take for granted that the gay community or our collective desires focus only on the youth and beauty aesthetic that is at the center of mass marketing. Doing so only degrades us as individuals and as a community. Assuming that gay men only desire youth or that our community discounts men over 25 (or actually doing these things in one’s personal life) only reenforces homophobic assumptions about gay men. It hides other assumptions that gay men are more temperamental, superficial, and immature than hetero folk.

The danger is not in appreciating youth and beauty. The hazard lies in buying into the larger mythologies about youth and beauty that make possible the expression “gay years.”

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Had Me a Blast

Labor Day recently passed. I hope all of you gave up some respect to the historical Labor Movement. Remember the Labor Movement? You know -- the people who brought you the weekend?

Beyond that, Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer time. Wear white shoes at your own peril, people.

The previous post was supposed to be about reflecting on the past year, but turned more rant-oriented than I expected. Eh – That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Clearly I still have some work left on that whole “letting go” thing. Really, I should have faith in the cosmos. A Texas friend has a saying. I might not get it exactly right, but the general theme is this: “The karmic wheel grinds slow, but it grinds fine.” If true, Liar Ex (who told many lies) should be a chalky powder when all is said and done.

So, in lieu of an annual review, let’s turn back to a post from May 17, 2006. That entry had a list of GayProf’s goals for this past summer. Just how many of those things did I actually accomplish? Let's see:

    Finish my current research project.
    Yeah, that totally didn’t happen. I continue to work on it – I am making progress. Things are getting finished up. What? Stop nagging me!

    Oh, Lord, by the bucket! Texas heat is like no other. Why doesn’t anybody see all that heat as evidence that God hates Texas?

    Teach Summer School, Session I.
    Yep – I did that (which also helps explain why my current research project didn’t reach completion). Summer School is always so condensed. In many ways I feel like my lectures went from “The U.S. invaded Mexico” to “George Bush is a prick” overnight.

    Try to repair my horrific credit record (thus the reason for teaching Summer School, Session I).
    Well, Summer pay certainly helped. Creditors no longer have me on speed dial. What I really need, though, is for that Texas house to sell. Maybe I should look into an exorcism.

    Finish sewing that Wonder Woman costume. Though I might just settle for some extra, extra, extra large NRFP Underoos off of E-Bay.
    Does anybody know where I can find some white-star appliques?

    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.
    More or less – Yep. I learned something important – Be sure to call the Fire Department before purging oneself of negative energy.

    Watch the new Superman movie.
    I did watch the new Superman movie. The things I liked: All of the homage stuff to the seventies Superman film and hunky Routh.

    Kate Bosworth failed as Lois Lane. I hated (and I mean HATED) the kid. Why do people think children are interesting for films? Or in life? Plus, Routh's contact lenses that changed his eye color creeped me out.

    Figure out ways to recover from my disappointment over the new Superman movie.
    All and all, it disappointed me less than expected. Perhaps, though, superhero films have run their course? Maybe Hollywood can come up with original ideas for films? No, snakes on a motherfucking plane does not count.

    Locate and rent an apartment in Boston.
    It aged me an additional five years, but I did manage to accomplish this goal. In retrospect, trying to avoid paying a realtor fee may not have been worth the stress of those few days.

    The studio apartment I found, though, is a fair price and sans fee. I wish it was a tiny bit closer to the T, though.

    Aspire to add 20 lbs to my bench press, but probably settle for adding 10 lbs.
    I did accomplish this goal. Then I moved to Boston and took several weeks off from the gym. When I finally got around to finding a new gym, my muscles apparently had degraded because I am back to my pre-summer bench press. Who knew that my body could atrophy so quickly? I would have also expected that moving all my crap up and down (or actually down and up) several flights of stairs would have kept me toned. No such luck.

    Travel to Albuquerque to visit family and friends.
    No matter where else I go, New Mexico will always be my home. Just seeing the Sandia Mountains stretching out in welcome as the plane descends makes me feel better about everything.

    Drink Tequila and/or Tequila based cocktails.

    Finally a reasonable goal that I made for myself. It’s good to know that I accomplished something worthwhile with my summer time.

    Go to the only gay club in this small Texas town at least one more time.
    You know, on several different occasions I had plans to do this with friends. For whatever reason, it never quite happened. Usually we just drank in other locales.

    No big loss for me, though. Heteros have really overrun the joint since it is one of only two places in the whole town to dance.

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

    You would have thought that all the stalking of him would have qualified for a little air time.

    Mourn the end of FDR’s New Deal -- again.
    Everyday. Oh, yes, Everyday.

    Attend a wedding of Texas friends of mine where liar ex (who told many lies) will also attend. Contemplate how I will maintain my decorum and not stab my liar ex in the eye with a dessert fork.
    I am proud to say that none of the flatware had blood on it by the time I exited. Seeing Liar Ex (who is a total fuckbag – What? I can’t always be predictable) made my skin crawl. If fortune favors the foolish, however, that will be the last time that I ever have to put my eyes on him ever again.

    Celebrate George W. Bush’s shameful resignation (Hey – I can hope).
    Still waiting -- Still hoping. Why does this man have a job?

    Make a list of all the things that I will miss about Texas while I am gone this coming year.
    Oh, sure, I did this one. I miss the — um. Well, there’s the -- er . . . um.

    Okay, I miss my Texas friends. Really, though, I wish they were here rather than me being there.

    Travel to Chicago for work.
    Sigh – Chicago is my favorite U.S. City. Not that I don’t totally love Boston, but Chicago just speaks to me a wee bit more. Alas, with all the packing, moving, teaching, etc., this business trip got postponed. Sometime in the coming year, however, I really do need to go there.

    Try to keep up the façade that I know (or care) what the hell people are talking about when they discuss the DaVinci Code.
    Luckily nobody seems to talk about this anymore. Now, however, I need to learn about the Boston Red Sox. Time and time again on the T or on buses, people keep looking to open a conversation about the “sox.” It turns out that they are not particularly interested in whether I match my hosiery to my pants or to my shoes.

    Contemplate if somebody could bounce a quarter off of Condoleezza Rice’s hair.
    Yes, you can.

    Take photos of the friends in Texas that I want to remember.
    Yep, did this one. I have new pictures waiting to be pasted into the photo album.

    Shred photos of people I hope never to see again.
    Yep, did this one, too. Made plenty of space in the photo album for all the pictures above.

    Find new friends in Boston.
    So far, I have met some cool people.

    Wax my car.
    Given that my car will spend the year in storage, I made sure to accomplish this goal. The paint should be perfectly preserved as it awaits my return to Texas.

    Finally decide in my own mind if I think Carlos Mencia is funny or offensive.
    Is his show even on the air anymore? Nah – I long ago stopped thinking about Mencia. Now I am all about debating Robot Chicken.

    Be the first kid on my block to own the Wonder Woman comic relaunch (written by a gay man, don’t you know?).
    Because the lame Texas comic shop didn’t order enough copies, I was not the first on my block. Was nothing right about that town? Still, I got my hands on Wonder Woman as soon as possible.

    As we have discussed, I am optimistic. It’s a better vision of Diana than I have seen in a long, long, long time.

    Figure out how to work all the functions on my cell phone.
    I have learned new things about the cell phone, particularly about text messaging. It’s funny – I never imagined myself as a cell-phone type of guy. Now I sleep with it under my pillow.

    Start a riot.
    Why do you think I moved to Boston?

    Locate and recover Jimmy Hoffa’s body.
    No comment.

    Make lemonade.
    Who needs lemonade when Margaritas are around? Fuck that.

    Move to Boston.
    Oh, I am so here. Of course, I wish that the process of getting here didn’t involve cat shit and total muscle fatigue. Still, I could not be happier in my new locale.

Wow – I still have a great many things that I need to complete from this list. I will get on that tomorrow. Well, maybe not tomorrow. I want to learn how to make egg drop soup tomorrow. The day after that, though, I am so on it.