Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Haven't Done Jack in 33 Years . . . Or Steve, Either

My birthday week is upon us. In the future, I imagine this week will be marked by parades and bank closures. It will be a time when people throughout North America will gather and reflect on my existence. Of course, for those who follow the religion of CoG, my birthday will be one of the high-holy days. I expect that ceremonies will involve a ritual humming of the Charlie’s Angels theme song and maybe a game of bullets-and-bracelets.

Well, okay, maybe that isn’t exactly what is going to happen with my birthday in the future. Still, thinking about such things is far better than considering the Supreme Court’s decisions to limit our rights and to maintain a racist and class-biased education system. It’s also much better than thinking about the debacle that was called immigration “reform.” My fantasy world is a happier place – The sky is purple there.

In reality, however, the passing of my birthday in the next couple of days just means that I have turned thirty-three. Aging doesn’t particularly bother me (though I would like more hair and hope that hair which remains continues to linger). As always, though, I like to compare where I am with my life at thirty-three with where other people were at this same age:

    If I were Jacqueline Kennedy at age thirty-three, this would be my last year in the White House.

    If I were Jesus at age thirty-three, I would die this year.

    If I were Pierre Trudeau, I would be busy editing the journal Cité Libre.

    If I were Mary Richards, I would have moved to Minneapolis three years ago. This year, I would also cut my hair, thus ending the show in GayProf’s eyes (despite it going on for another four years). Long-haired Mary or nothing.

    If I were Emiliano Zapata, I would have issued my Plan de Ayala a year ago. My attention at thirty-three would be focused on trying to oust the military dictator Victoriano Huerta under my call for "Tierra y Libertad."

    If I were Pancho Villa, I would have another three years before I became instrumental in thwarting Huerta’s dictatorial ambitions.

    If I were Harvey Milk, it would be another 14 years before I became the first openly gay elected official in a major U.S. city.

    If I were James Dean, I would have been dead for nine years.

    If I were César Chávez, I would need another seven years before I founded the precursor to the UFW with Dolores Huerta.

    If I were Dolores Huerta, I would have founded the precursor to the UFW with César Chávez last year.

    If I were Rita Moreno, I would have won the Oscar for my portrayal of “Anita” in West Side Story three years ago.

    If I were Oscar Wilde, this would be the year that I started working for the Pall Mall Gazette.

    If I were Blake Harper, this would be the year that I win the GayVN award for “Gay Performer of the Year” for my diligent work in porn.

    If I were GayProf, this would be the year that I move to Midwestern Funky Town to start a new life – again.

    If I were Larry Hagman, I would be given the role of Anthony Nelson on the television show I Dream of Jeannie this year.

    If I were Hernán Cortés, I would launch Spain’s invasion of Mexico this year.

    If I were Thomas Jefferson, this would be the year that I draft the Declaration of Independence (much to the historical chagrin of forgotten Richard Henry Lee).

    If I were Che Guevara, I would be serving as Cuba’s Minister of Industries.

    If I were Marilyn Monroe, I would film Some Like it Hot at age 33.

    If I were George W. Bush, I would be a major failure and an embarrassment to all of humanity (this is true at any age).

    If I were Kate Jackson, I would have left Charlie’s Angels three years ago. It would be another two years before I starred in Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

    If I were Farrah Fawcett, I would have left Charlie’s Angels three years ago.

    If I were Jaclyn Smith, I would be the last of the “original” Charlie’s Angels still on the show.

    If I were either of my parents, I would already have three children. The youngest would be five years old (who would later grow up to be the most desirable man on the blogosphere).

    If I were the titular character in the song “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues,” my heart would keep tellin’ me that you’re not a kid at thirty-three.

    If I were Joaquin Murrieta, it would have been nine years since the California Rangers executed me. My head would currently be on display in a jar of brandy as a curiosity for interested Euro Americans willing to pay a buck.

    If I were Dolly Parton, I would start filming 9 to 5 this year.

    If I were William Shatner, it would be two years before I accepted the television role of Captain Kirk.

    If I were Captain Kirk, I would have been commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise for two years.

    If I were Billie Holiday, I would have just been released from jail for a conviction on drug charges. I would be banned from performing anywhere in New York for the rest of my life.

    If I were Walt Whitman, I would be busy writing the first edition of Leaves of Grass. It would be another three years before I would become world-famous with its publication.

    If I were Elvis Presley, this would be the year that I filmed my 1968 Comeback Special for NBC.

    If the people want me to be President of the United States, it will be another two years before that will be allowed by the Constitution.

    If I were Anne Bancroft, it would only be another three years before I played Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (which is kinda depressing to think she was that young and considered over the hill).

    If I were Seth Green, this would be the year that I produced the special "Star Wars" episode of Robot Chicken.

    If I were Reies López Tijerina, I would send a letter to President Dwight Eisenhower asking that the Federal Government investigate the dispossession of Mexicans in New Mexico. It would be another three years before I founded La Alianza Federal de Mercedes.

    If I were Eva Perón, I would die this year.

    If I were Malcolm X, this would be the year that I married Betty. It would be another five years before I write my autobiography.

    If I were Brad Pitt, I would probably have better things to do than write lists about other people’s accomplishments at age 33. Actually, this might be true about everybody mentioned.

    If I were Freddie Mercury, this would be the year that I write the song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

    If I were Wonder Woman, I would age another 2,458 years before joining Patriarch’s world to fight crime.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Starter? I Don't Even Know Her.

When I visited New York a few weeks ago, I could not enter a subway station or pass a bus without seeing Debra Messing’s smiling face pushing the television series The Starter Wife. Given that I teach classes on representations of gender and sexuality in the mainstream media, I consider it part of my job description to watch such media ploys. Hey – It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

The massive publicity campaign (which began sometime in January) led me to expect that The Starter Wife would be a bit more, um, good. The promos implied that the program would consider the travails of marriage, divorce, and aging among women in this society. Okay – Maybe I had too lofty of expectations. At the very least, though, I expected some sort of vicarious revenge narrative involving a wronged spouse making her lying man come to terms. Instead, The Starter Wife managed to disempower just about everybody.

Perhaps its main problem was that it offered a remarkably unsympathetic heroine and a cadre of flat supporting characters. As the title implies, Molly, played by Debra Messing, finds out that her movie-executive husband has dumped her for a young starlet. Rather than being emotionally destroyed by his deceptions or heartbreak, Molly is mostly concerned about how it will impact her social standing. Indeed, she spends little, if any, time considering the demise of the actual marriage. While we are clearly supposed to hate her sleazy ex, we aren’t really given any indication that Molly ever thought of him as anything more than a means to her own ambition. Instead, Molly mourns that she can no longer attend the posh clubs or swank parties.

As a result, her liberation does not come through a rejection of the sexist Hollywood expectations that demanded physical perfection or slavish women (or through the lighting of her ex’s truck on fire (which I would have personally liked to see)). Instead, her alleged liberation comes through committing herself to even more self-indulgence. In one scene, Molly takes “revenge” on the Hollywood wives who snubbed her by becoming the arm-candy for another, more powerful, man. Yeah, there’s a feminist message that we can all get behind.

The Starter Wife acknowledges that society is built on a sexist patriarchy that keeps women in vulnerable and unfair positions. Molly’s ex husband, Kenny, personifies the worst stereotypes of heterosexual men. He is self-indulgent, sexist, cheats on his wife, and demeans all the women around him by making them do the most menial tasks imaginable. Yet, The Starter Wife also implies that sexist patriarchy is the only option out there and the only possible way that society could be organized. When men treat you like garbage, the show says, simply find another, more powerful man. Kate Millet would be so proud.

Given this message, it’s no surprise that Pond’s cosmetics sponsored this train-wreck of a series. Indeed, Molly spends a serious amount of film time in her bathroom engaged in methodical cleansing rituals that involve prominent Pond’s products. The message of “empowerment” is not a rejection of youth and beauty. Instead, it’s that older women need to fight to stay looking young and beautiful. There is hope for older women, but only if they slather their face with a jar of Time Rewind© night cream.

Surrounding Molly are a crew of totally cardboard characters. Judy Davis appears as a friend named “Joan.” Really, though, Davis seems to be confused and apparently thinks that she is still playing Judy Garland. Joan drinks, makes a bitchy comment to Liza Molly, and returns to drinking some more.

Molly does get to show her magnanimity through a set of homeless characters. In one case, The Starter Wife makes a clumsy stab at racial diversity when Molly allows Lavender, the African-American security guard for Molly’s gated-housing complex, to move into her house. This sassy ghetto-girl might have the name of a stripper, but she has a heart of gold. Lavender lost her apartment when her mother refused to get rid of her yapping dog. Thanks to Molly, though, Lavender avoids homelessness and can keep attending UCLA. Well, as long as her mother agrees to clean Molly's house. Through the gentle generosity of white women like Molly, Lavender will eventually be a credit to her people. Hey, Starter Wife, welcome to the year 1935!

If that version of homelessness/economic-class-dynamics didn’t appear problematic enough, the miniseries includes the absurd character Sam. Repenting for his sin of drunk driving, Sam willingly chose to be homeless many years before meeting Molly. Yes – There is a character who has repudiated shelter from the elements. According to The Starter Wife, being homeless can be downright glamorous! Sam spends his days wandering around Malibu’s beaches without his shirt and sleeping with bored housewives. When he and Molly have sex in his "sleeping space," it looks a lot like an ad for Bombay Company.

Characters like Lavender and Sam make light of real economic injustice in this nation. In both instances, it was the personal choices of Lavender (refusing to toss the dog to the pound) and Sam (his desire for penance) that left them without a domicile. They weren’t homeless because of a crushing economic system, lack of health or psychiatric care, or even bad luck. Nope – They chose their fate.

Yet, even with Sam and Lavender’s poor choices, the wealth will trickle down just as Ronnie Reagan promised many years ago. Rather than pointing to the grotesque disparity between the rich (and exclusively white) people dominating Molly’s world and the nation’s poor, The Starter Wife gives hope that the wealthy will save the downtrodden. Indeed, helping the homeless is a little like hosting a slumber party for Molly.

Perhaps the most disappointing character of all, though, is Molly’s BFF: Rodney. The show’s official web-site describes Rodney as “Molly's dashing, loyal friend and gay interior decorator extraordinaire,” Consider him a cross between a golden retriever and Dorothy Draper.

Rodney puts a not-so-thick retread on some pretty worn-out stereotypes. I’ll pass on commenting on the obvious (“interior decorator extraordinaire”) and move directly to how Rodney is the new clichéd representation of gay men in film.

Increasingly, gay men exist in film and television as accessories for straight women characters. Unlike many real-life gay men who have strong and equitable friendships with straight women (including myself), the relationships depicted in films like The Starter Wife are decidedly one-sided. Gay men exist in these fictional friendships as selfless (though fussy) caretakers for their hetero gal pals. Rodney provides snappy zingers and expert advice on selecting shoes. He gives a shoulder for Molly’s ever plentiful tears (They, sob!, canceled her spa membership!). Characters like Rodney aren’t there to be real humans. Instead, they are presented as a means to show that the female character is both “hip” and “generous” enough to have a gay man as a friend. They are just mirrors to reflect the straight women’s coolness, wipe away their mascara stains, and highlight their heterosexual desirability.

Most times, gay characters like Rodney aren't even given much dialog. The director usually just tells that actor playing the gay best friend to stand in the corner while the rest of the cast talks about how gay he is. Unless, of course, he happens to be a good-looking actor. Then he will stand in the corner while the rest of the cast talk about what a shame it is that he is gay.

To their credit, the writers did attempt to give Rodney a slight side-story of romantic interest. That’s more than most gay men get on television (Think Debra Messing’s other series). Even if Rodney is allowed a romantic subplot, you get the distinct sense that the writers had no idea what happens when two men date each other. One can imagine the meeting in the writers’ room. “Well,” they would say, “What do gay men think is romantic?” “I don’t know,” another says, “How about criminal stalking?” “Yeah, that’s probably what they do. Let’s go with that. Write it up.”

So, even though Rodney makes it clear that he was not romantically interested in the guy, his accountant lurks around his house, secretly leaves him baked goods on his door, and shows up at his house uninvited (with dinner!). In the last episode, the accountant planned a weekend getaway together with Rodney without, you know, actually asking Rodney if it is okay. According to the show, Rodney seemingly sees this as taking charge and endearing.

Let me tell you, if a guy who I paid to balance my checkbook suddenly showed up at my door with a bag of groceries or booked plane reservations for the two of us without asking me, I would not consider that a romantic gesture. I would consider it a reason to put the police on speed-dial. Healthy gay dating doesn’t start with stalking – unless you are into that. I don’t judge.

Of course, Rodney is also portrayed by a self-identified straight actor. Hollywood still gets a kick out of a straight guy pretending to be gay. Actually, they seem to feel better knowing that the actor is just “pretending” and underneath he is pure heterosexual. A gay man portraying a gay male character apparently isn’t acting at all (because all gay men are basically the same – to be one is to know us all). And we all know that a gay male actor couldn’t possibly portray a straight man.

See – This is why I think Hollywood doesn’t have a clue about how superior gay men are as actors. What do straight actors do when they portray gay men? Well, usually they make lots of kissy noises, adopt a lisp, and add some type of flailing arm gestures. Then they call it a day.

Gay men often spend years studying how to pretend to be a straight man before they come out of the closet. Heck, I deserve an Academy Award for grades 8-10 alone. Because of this, we are also much more authoritative judges on who is portraying a gender that seems authentic to the character.

The Starter Wife ad campaign promised an escapist fantasy and quirky satire. Sadly, it just suggests how little television has advanced in terms of gender and sexuality in the last twenty years. The Starter Wife, in the end, is a not-very-interesting clone of Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What is This Going to Cost Me?

My housing situation seems resolved for Midwestern Funky Town. After thinking about it, I opted for the place that fell within 85 percent of the things that I wanted rather than searching again. The last 15 percent was mostly about the ten minute drive to my new campus. I had hoped for a place within quick walking distance. Allegedly, though, buses also connect my new domestic space to my new work place (and I will reclaim my car from Texas).

I am generally excited about my new job. My new colleagues are all super smart and seem genuinely friendly. My new university has a long history of lefty politics (the mirror opposite of my former Texan institution, which had a long history of lynching). MFT will also be a very livable setting. My new rental house will be comfortable.

Political events over the past week, however, reminded me that this move is going to cost me more than the price of bubble-wrap and a security deposit. Leaving the Bay State also means leaving the one place in this nation where queers are guarantee absolute equal treatment under the law.

The Massachusetts legislature took less than half an hour to kill a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage on June 14. Given this vote, radical Christians will have to wait until 2012 to attempt to inject their hatred into the state’s constitution.

We all know that marriage is not the issue that I imagine as the queer community’s priority. On the contrary, I think that we all (queer or straight) should be interrogating and questioning the viability of this civil statute and the purpose we want it to serve. The marriage industry alone makes my stomach turn. I have always thought it is an inexcusable waste of money and resources for any couple (regardless of sexuality) to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a single day’s event. So, when I hear gay couples talk about going to a “cake tasting” where they will decide which $5,000 confection that they will order for their special day, I want to puke. They should be saving that money for their future. Divorce lawyers aren’t cheap.

Nor do I think that Massachusetts is some sort of utopia. Racism, economic injustice, and homophobia are still major problems in the Bay State. Plus, their Mexican food sucks.

All those caveats aside, the fact that Massachusetts thwarted radical Christians’ belligerent tactics gives me more faith in this state than any other (even my beloved New Mexico). I can’t help but think that I am trading my basic civil rights for my new job.

Like 25 other states, the voters in my future state were given the opportunity to make their hatred of gays part of the state constitution. Additionally, nineteen other states have laws that explicitly prohibited same-sex couples from being married. This leaves New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Rhode Island as the only states that have never explicitly passed a measure or amendment against queer people in the past ten years. New Jersey, Vermont, and Connecticut have attempted to side-step the issue by offering civil unions that provide some of the basic guarantees formerly associated with marriage. Only Massachusetts, however, guarantees all its citizens full equality under the law. One state out of fifty.

The United States is leaving its queer population in an impossible situation (as are many other nations (I was very sad to see Colombia bow to a Catholic Church that is run by a former member of Hitler Youth. That, though, is another entry)). In this country, we queer people are not free to navigate the nation or pursue our best economic interests without necessarily thinking about how it might impact our basic civil rights and standard of living.

Marriage is just the most visible and discussed issue. Really, the problems cut deeper. Queer people can’t expect that they will receive fair and equal protection under the law in all parts of this nation. Indeed, I am much better off going to my Midwestern state, even with its anti-marriage laws, than I would have been returning to Texas. No job was worth my living there. Texas, after all, has a governor that explicitly suggested that gay people should leave the state and live elsewhere. This open contempt for men like me resulted in his reelection.

The media circus has given the false impression that same-sex marriage is somehow more important to queers than police brutality or employment discrimination. In many places in this nation, it is still unsafe for a queer person to live their life openly.

One thing I hear a lot is how great queers have it today compared to years past. While I generally agree that things are better, it is shocking to me that some think that equality has been achieved. Okay, I grant that I am not being strapped to a table and given electroshock therapy. True, true – That’s better than it would have been sixty years ago. On the other hand, I am still not guaranteed my basic rights as an individual, either. On the contrary, when given the opportunity, the majority of heterosexual Americans have shown time and again that they wish to preserve their special status in the nation and ensure that queer people are treated as less than human (either through their indifference or by directly voting against gays themselves).

As a citizen of this nation, my sense of safety should not vary from one location to the next. Nor should my basic rights be determined by the whims or prejudices of local voters.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

No Energy

I am perilously close to falling off the gym bandwagon. A few months ago, I wrote about my malaise at the gym. It didn’t pass like I imagined it would.

Going to the gym has never been one of my favorite activities. Basically I only attend the gym to keep from turning into a rounder, squishier version of myself. My goals are modest. Lately when I am at the gym, though, all I think is, “I am so fucking bored.”

Being bored at the gym just magnifies how much I dislike the activity. Walking through the doors, I am hit with the gym smell – which I hate.

It’s not even that my gym has a bad smell exactly. I mean, nobody would mistake it for a Victorian rose garden, but the place isn’t skanky. Still, I hate the smell of the cleaning products and the sweaty people inside.

Maybe that’s the issue. Maybe it’s the other people who drive me nuts. Can’t they join the rest of the United States and just give up on their health? I mean, we have our global reputation to consider. We aren’t going to stay the fattest nation in the world if people keep coming into my gym in order to sweat their ass off – literally. Doing that is downright unpatriotic. If we, as a nation, aren’t morbidly obese, clearly the terrorists have won.

Come on, Boston, look at the example being set by Houston. Now there is a patriotic city! Heck, all of Harris County is eating deep-fried cheesecake just to counteract Boston’s fanatical devotion to exercise and “sensible” living.

Of course, despite slimming down, most of the Boston gym folks still find a way to take up as much possible space in the locker room as they can. The men’s locker room in my gym has five (5) benches for a room that allegedly holds sixty people at a time. Yet, every time I go in there, some schmuck has managed to spread out all of his crap across one of the benches. He has his towel, his bag, his ipod, his sippy cup, his steroids, and an autographed picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger (with suspicious lip prints) strewn out so that nobody else can make use of it. Okay, maybe that’s not the actual contents of his bag – He uses a regular cup.

I know that I am just projecting my boredom at the gym on innocent bystanders (even if they are really annoying bystanders as well). Still, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for the gym.

To distract from the boredom, I have tried many different things. To occupy my mind, I focus on deciding important issues that aren’t related to the gym. For instance, today’s treadmill jaunt had me contemplating whether I could get away with incorporating catchphrases from either Wonder Woman (“Great Hera!”) or Samantha Stevens (“Oh My Stars!”) into my daily conversation. Even exploring such weighty issues hasn’t eased the tedium.

My ipod playlist has been reorganized and updated innumerable times. I have altered my cardio and even given into trying the elliptical machines. This didn’t bring the new thrills that I hoped.

Nothing is really helping. Not even pretending to have bionic legs and reenacting the intro to the Six Million Dollar Man keeps my attention on the treadmill.

Over the past few days, I have also been sorting through all the other reasons that people give for going to the gym. What about the endorphins? If you depend on endorphins to feel good, you need a better pharmacist.

How about adding years to your life? Screw that. How much time do I really need to spend on this planet? I mean, it’s not without its charm, but I am not certain that I am looking to take on extra shifts either. Isn’t there some deal where the children are our future? Aren’t they supposed to keep things running so that we can die early?

Part of the boredom probably results from the fact that I know that I have basically hit my plateau at the gym. Sure, I could push my body further, but that would require either a) changing my diet and/or b) increasing the amount of work that I actually do at the gym. Let me tell you now, neither of those things is going to happen. If it’s a choice between red wine and washboard abs, hand me the corkscrew. Conveniently, I can use it to open the wine and drill new holes into my belt as well.

It all seems so futile. I believe that it was the great philosopher Marilyn Monroe who noted, "We all lose our charms in the end." No matter how much one goes to the gym, we all age. Sure, we can keep the body in tune, but nothing changes the face. We've all see the guys with the fantastic bodies but an old head. I suppose, though, you don't look at the mantle when you are poking the fire.

Great Hera! About the only thing that barely keeps me going to the gym is the fear of being labeled “un-dateable.” Maybe I could just work on improving my personality instead.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pride for Sale

Because I lack the ability to manage a calender, my recent trip to MFT accidentally coincided with Boston’s Pride. Given this year’s somewhat well-meaning, but misguided and intellectually weak, militaristic theme, I am not entirely disappointed. From most reports, it was a bit of a yawn (Though I was more than pleased to see Governor Deval Patrick marching).

Many cities across the globe mark gay pride in the month of June. In the U.S., this always brings a complicated mixture of feelings and opinions from within the queer community. Those living outside of major urban areas feel excluded from Pride events. They (rightly) argue that those living in areas like New York or San Francisco have little understanding about the daily struggles of being queer in a place like Caldwell, Texas.

Likewise, some queer folk wonder about the term “pride” itself. They suggest, with a certain logic, that same-sex desire is no better or worse than opposite-sex attraction. It is, they argue, therefore nothing of which to be proud. It just “is.” In some ways, this type of questioning suggests the many concrete changes that the gay pride movement has brought about in North America. It seems a bit premature, however, to declare that type of victory as sexuality is still one of ways that this society organizes people.

For myself, I have lately been wondering about the ways that Pride rallies have become sponsored by liquor companies or other firms that seem more interested in pink dollars than any real sense of social equality. Don’t get me wrong. I think that Pride Parades still have a place and I am not ready to toss them aside quit yet. Who doesn’t love a party?

What does concern me, though, is that Pride marches have become disconnected from the revolutionary intent that brought them into existence. Beyond drinking Stoli for a day, there doesn’t seem to be much about Pride that is tied to real sexual freedom in this nation.

According to the accepted history, Pride events started in June 1970 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots in New York City. Those riots had pitted some mighty angry drag queens against an abusive police force. Raids on gay bars like the Stonewall Inn were an accepted, if not celebrated, part of law enforcement for most of the twentieth century. On June 28, 1969, however, the patrons at the Stonewall Inn had enough and decided to shove back at the police. Personally, I always suspected that Judy Garland’s death on June 23, 1969 contributed to much of the anger within the community (She was so young! Just 47!).

The following year, on June 29, 1970, members of the Gay Liberation Front and thousands of men and women marched from Greenwich Village to Sheep Meadow in Central Park, proclaiming “the new strength and pride of gay people.” The New York Times covered the event, giving an unusual number of references to the different colors of silk banners that the participants waved. In between all the descriptions of rich purples and deep greens, the paper did manage to quote some of the march’s leaders. Michael Brown, one of the key figures in the Gay Liberation Front, stated their goals explicitly, “We will never have the freedom and civil rights that we deserve as human beings unless we stop hiding in closets or in the shelter of anonymity. . .We have to come out into the open and stop being ashamed or else people will go on treating us as freaks. This march is an affirmation and declaration of our new pride.”

In another instance, a 27 year old carpenter stated his reasons for marching. “It serves notice on every politician in the state and nation that homosexuals are not going to hide anymore,” he said, “We’re becoming militant and we won’t be harassed and degraded anymore.”

For a time, the Gay Liberation Front and other radical groups challenged queer folk to interrogate the ways that homophobia and sexism had impacted their own individual psyches. They argued that people with queer desires faced daily psychological (if not also physical) assaults that distorted our self-esteem. Expressing a desire to even kiss somebody of the same sex meant that you were, at best, mentally ill and, at worst, a threat to all of western civilization. Queer men and women consequently had no legal protection against losing their jobs or their apartments because of their sexual desires.

To declare, therefore, that one was “proud” of being a homosexual was a revolutionary idea for 1969. It was a direct counter to the notion that being labeled homosexual was something shameful. Slogans like “Say it Loud, Gay is Proud,” intervened in homophobic discourses and institutions that alleged that being gay meant being alone, miserable, and monstrous. Queer activists argued that every element of society’s expectations about gender and sexuality needed scrutiny and revision. Equality could only be obtained when every adult could explore their sexual interests without fear of social or economic consequences.

That message has sorta gotten lost over the past three decades. Today, there is an increasing tendency among queer folk to misconstrue entering mainstream society as equivalent to sexual freedom. In reality, assuming the values of privileged heterosexuals only maintains a homophobic and sexist status quo. It rewards those queers whose sexual interests and gender identities most closely match middle-class heterosexual standards (Those same standards, btw, don’t necessarily serve the best interests of real-life heterosexuals, either. That, though, is another entry entirely). Some queers become so invested in trying to ensure their own shaky position that they disown other queer folk who don’t fit with mainstream expectations. Bar boys, non-monogamous relationships, or leather-clad lesbians become “embarrassments” to the ever-aspiring assimilationist queer. Rather than fighting for all of our sexual freedom, they seek only to satisfy their own personal ambitions.

Many queer individuals, as a result, reject the notion that there is any ethic of community. They imagine individualism to be the real goal. Indeed, we are even seeing backtracking as some individuals no longer see being out as an important and critical political act that helps all queer people. Far from Brown’s imperative to stop “hiding in closets” 37 years ago, being out is now seen as a matter of personal choice. Rather than a language of “gay pride” or “community,” they revert to tired notions of ambiguity and coyness as if they are something new.

The recording artist Mika comes to mind. Until I learned just how screwed up his personal politics are (and self-serving he is), I thought he had promise. He recently complained, however, that the queer community isn’t taking to his music like he expected. Mika wants the queer bucks, but doesn’t feel any commitment to making a personal sacrifice for the larger community himself.

As a result, Mika refuses to answer questions about his own sexuality. "I never talk about anything to do with my sexuality, I don't think I need to. People ask me all the time,” he told a London reporter, "In order to survive I've shut up different parts of my life, and that's one of them, especially this early in my career, I don't really feel that it's necessary to know in terms of my music.” In other words, it’s fine for other queer people to be out, but I am not going to sacrifice my own career. Mika makes an explicit statement that he cares more about his personal material success than any obligation to other queer people.

I don’t really care if Mika's preference is men, women, or a combination. Obscuring and evading the question, however, is only self-serving and actively harms the queer community. By making sexuality something which “just isn’t discussed,” Mika and others like him make it more difficult for queer people to live open lives. It keeps in place the notion that being straight is superior and being queer is something to be hidden.

Indeed, mainstream society rewards individuals like Mika for keeping quiet about his sexual identity. If an individual is ambiguous, then they are “given the benefit of the doubt” that they are really straight. I have no doubt that Mika would pay some material and personal consequences for publicly claiming a queer identity. If he wants to be part of the queer community, though, we have the right to expect that he cough it up. The closet rewards one person, being out benefits the entire queer community.

In a context where people like Mika thrive, it is easy, and even fashionable, among a certain crew of queer people to disparage ideas like “gay power” as antiquated or outmoded (no pun intended). Such mockery, though, risks undermining the very real challenges that took place in this nation around issues of sexuality.

Pride marches developed as part of an on-going struggle for sexual freedom that was fought year round. Queer activists took their militancy to the doorsteps of institutions that denigrated our lives and desires. On May 14, 1970, for instance, members of the Gay Liberation Front disrupted and eventually forced an adjournment of an American Psychiatric Association conference on “sex problems” in San Francisco. The Gay Liberation Front took issue with a particular paper that discussed the use of electro-shock therapy as a treatment for homosexuality. Protesters screamed during the panel “this is barbaric,” “sadist,” and “torture.”

Today it appears that the queer masses have largely abandoned a revolutionary militant stance in exchange for capitalist product endorsements. Last month, George W. Bush nominated James Holsinger to be Surgeon General. Thirty-seven years after the GLF directly challenged the APA, we have a nominee for the nation’s top doctor who has written that “gay sex is unnatural and unhealthy.” Most queer people in the U.S., though, seem largely unaware of this record and are fairly indifferent to politics.

If we don’t continue to fight, however, I promise you that Stoli Incorporated isn’t going to do it for us no matter how many fifths of vodka we buy. It is only if we strive to ensure that all people have sexual freedom that we can claim anything to be proud of.

Monday, June 11, 2007

It Actually Was a Nice Shirt...

Searching for housing is one of those activities where you develop a whole set of skills that you only use a handful of times in your life. Well, at least I am hoping it is only a handful of times.

I have returned to Boston with a couple of places that I thought were generally okay in Midwestern Funky Town. Now I feel like a contestant on a game show hosted by Bob Barker (God Rest His Soul (I know he is not technically dead, but he isn’t on t.v. anymore, which is pretty much like being dead in my eyes)). In front of me is a big spinning wheel with slots labeled things like, “Perfect Location,” "In-Suite Laundry," or “Hunky Neighbor.”

“Tell us, GayProf,” ol’ Bob would ask, “Do you want to take the place that generally fits 85 percent of the things that you wanted? Or are you going to gamble and try to search MFT again a few weeks from now? Thirty seconds on the clock!” While I made my decision, the audience would be shouting, “Jump, jump, jump!” Oh, no, wait – That is something else...

While in MFT, I certainly saw a wide variety of places where one could live. I looked in the country – I looked in the town – I looked in an altered-drug-induced reality. Well, it wasn’t my altered-drug-induced reality.

Seriously, though, why would a landlord think that an apartment strewn with bongs and empty liquor bottles would “show well?” This was the same apartment where the leasing agent asked me to peer into the bedrooms where the current occupants were passed out naked in the bed (No, I am not making this up...). Somehow, that did not build confidence in signing a lease right then and there. Besides, that apartment didn't have air conditioning.

Okay, maybe I am uptight. Still, if I am going to be sneaking through a stranger’s bedroom, I would at least like for him to have bought me a drink first.

This brings up a related point about my search for housing. My penis apparently has a manual override switch for all of my brain's higher logic. Some of the least appealing places suddenly gained new charm when being shown by a hunky, hunky man.

“What’s that?” I vaguely remember saying to an erstwhile agent, “All of the neighbors are undergraduates who play in rock bands? Well, that probably isn’t where I am looking to live, but you do have nice eyes. What? I would have to pump my own water from a spigot out back? Maybe that’s why you have such great forearms! Let’s talk about this unit some more.”

Yes, GayProf can be really shallow. Still, even amazing forearms or sparkling eyes didn’t win the day.

I did see many nice and comfortable places as well (sans the naked bodies and shown by much less attractive agents). There are a couple of strong possibilities in my game-show debate.

One thing is clear. While MFT’s rental housing is (IMHO) a bit overpriced, it’s not even close to the craziness that exists in the greater Boston area. For around the same rent that I pay for a studio on the edge of the metro area, I could get something twice the size in MFT. Plus it would have those little “extras,” like interior walls.

Aside from the housing search, I also met some new people (including VUBOQ's aptly named SuperFantastic cousin). Plus, I completed my paperwork for my new job so that I can eventually be paid. There will be many advantages to living in MFT.

So, I returned to Boston thinking about that late last night. Upon entering the T, I discovered that the trains were delayed for “scheduled maintenance.”

I have always been confused about why the T does maintenance during the day. The MBTA shuts down the whole system at an unreasonably early hour in the evening (12:30). I think that I could take almost any hassle from the T if it kept running a few hours later, especially on Friday and Saturday.

See, I don’t make a pile of money as a history professor. Despite what your high-school guidance counselor might have told you, the real money isn’t in researching the past. I, therefore, can’t always afford to take a taxi and have my cocktails made with top-shelf liquor. Let me tell you, by top-shelf, I mean that I want to see the bartender on his tippy-toes. The T isn’t helping my cause by making me fork out money for cabs (not to mention overtly encouraging people to drink and drive by shutting down).

Given that the MBTA isn’t bothering to provide any service mid-evening, shouldn’t that gap be the time when all maintenance work is done? I am not a city-planner, but if they can build highways in the middle of the night, I think that they can fix some underground track as well (where it is going to be dark at 12 noon or 1 am anyway).

So, as I waited for Godot my train, a not-quite-right woman roamed the platform sipping a Diet Coke. She appeared disoriented, twitchy, and a little paranoid. At first I thought that she was a tourist. Clearly, though, she had been there for sometime because she had memorized the automated safety announcements that periodically play overhead. With each one, she mouthed along the words dutifully. When the announcement about “reporting any suspicious or unattended packages” came up, she eyed my suitcases.

“Those could be suspicious packages,” she said to nobody in particular, “I am not riding the train with him.” Clearly she was crazy. To be able to ride the train with me would mean that the T would actually show up. Nobody in their right mind ever banks on that.

I and my suspect luggage were only a passing thought, though, as a man wearing a brightly colored shirt appeared on the platform. “I like your shirt!” She yelled at him.

“Uh – Thanks,” he responded as he edged closer to the wall, clearly thinking that she might toss him into the tracks.

“I said, ‘I like your shirt!’ Don’t I have freedom of SPEECH,” she started yelling at the man. “Isn’t this still a free country? Can’t I say that ‘I like your shirt?’ Are you gong to call a cop, now? Huh? Because I said, ‘I like your shirt?’ Are you going to have me arrested? I LIKE YOUR SHIRT. Can’t I say that? HUH? Well? Can I?” The last inquiry was delivered with an ear-shattering scream as she sloshed Diet Coke onto the platform.

“Look, lady, I will give you my shirt if you will go home and take your medication,” the man said as the train arrived.

Sigh – I am going to miss Boston.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Well, I Talk About It, Talk About it, Talk About Movin'

I am currently in Midwestern Funky Town searching for a place to live and doing an unending amount of paperwork for my new job. If I started work at the Justice Department, there would be fewer forms to fill out. Heck, given the way Alberto Gonzales runs the place, I wouldn’t even need to show that I had a law degree.

So far, I am surprised by the swiftness of Midwestern Funky Town’s tight rental market. Granted, it’s not the out-and-out blood sport that the Boston rental market is, but things don’t seem to last much longer than a few days on Craigslist.

I didn’t help myself much by leaving my checkbook sitting in Boston, either. Alas, I might need to return again. I am not really that picky. I simply want to live indoors.

Regardless, time in Midwestern Funky Town also gives me an opportunity to get a better sense of my soon-to-be locale. I get the feeling that it’s a bit like Cambridge, MA (which is good), only without the rest of Boston surrounding it.

It’s amazing how rapidly I reoriented my sense of distance in this new environment. In Boston, riding the T for fifteen minutes would be construed as a fairly good commute. Even in my short time in Midwestern Funky Town, though, I am now considering a ten minute drive (alas, no rapid transit in Midwestern Funky Town) to my new job as “just too far.”

Something else caught my attention this trip as well. Traveling so closely behind my jaunt to New York reminds me again about the major airlines’ corruption and greed. No, I am not going to go on and on about the stupidity of the liquid limits and one-quart zipper top bag (Which I still think is dumb and doesn't help with safety even a little bit). Instead, I am going to go on and on about airline corruption.

Traveling to New York, I took JetBlue. It was my virgin experience with JetBlue. As we departed Logan, they whispered softly in my ear, “Years from now when you talk about this - and you will - be kind.”

Kind, I am! JetBlue reveals the emptiness of other airlines’ claims that they have to cut basic comfort in order to be profitable. JetBlue also contrasts sharply from other “bargain” airlines like Southwest, which clearly conceive of their passengers as cattle. For the short forty minute flight between Boston and New York, JetBlue managed to serve sodas and a bag of chips (Yes, JetBlue is literally all that and a bag of chips).

Meanwhile, for my trip here, Northwest Airlines showed that the allegedly full-service airlines are anything but full-service. Maybe I was just more sensitive because I didn’t have my usual pre-flight cocktails, knowing that I was going to be driving in Midwestern Funky Town. Still, the seats were so tightly squeezed together that my snack-table almost literally touched my chest when the person in front of me reclined her seat.

Of course, there was little reason to even lower the snack table given that Northwest has the audacity (AUDACITY, I say) to charge five bucks for a bag of M&M’s on board. I haven’t seen that type of price gouging for candy since I was forced pimped-out volunteered to sell sugary snacks as a fund-raising tactic for my High School Student Government.

At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before the emergency oxygen masks become coin-operated. “Damn,” I will say as the plane hurdles towards the ground, “I knew I shouldn’t have spent all those quarters on laundry.”

Things aren’t going much better in Business/First Class, either. Before this year, I flew often enough that I earned “elite” status in a frequent flyer program. As part of that status, I was periodically upgraded to Business/First class. Over time, the only advantage to being in the first class cabin became the extra space and a semi-private lavatory. Yet, JetBlue’s all-economy seats were almost as comfortable as many of the first-class seats.

Instead of charging outrageous prices for snack items, I think that the major airlines should be more creative in collecting revenue. For instance, I would be willing to pay $10-$20 more per ticket if the airline could guarantee that nobody under the age of 18 was on-board. I have always been confused about why children don’t ride in the cargo hold anyway. Hey, don’t get bent out shape. I am not a monster – I am talking about the pressurized section of the cargo hold.

Or they could institute a “dumbass” fee. Are you trying to claim a chandelier as a “carry-on” item (Yes, I have actually seen somebody try this)? Well, that will cost $20 just for asking.

Are you knowingly traveling with a drug-resistant strain of TB? Well, you will be paying for free flights for everybody onboard for the next ten years.

I grant that comparing the relative merits of different airlines is not the most scintillating of blog topics. This is probably especially true given my recent pledge to increase the discussion of gay porn on CoG. Still, I am annoyed by how much the federal government subsidizes airlines like Northwest while we are getting less and less in service (but the CEO’s are getting bigger and bigger paychecks). The number of people traveling by airplane today is higher than it was before September 11. Yet, they claim they can’t figure out how to make it work. JetBlue seems to be doing just fine.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mormons Were So Queer

Mitt Romney’s ability to have any air time in the presidential arena baffles me. I only arrived in Boston at the tail end of his governorship, but it was clear that almost everybody in Massachusetts considered him a failure. Now he is running a campaign based on the premise that he hated the majority of the people in the state that he governed.

All that aside, his religious choice to be Mormon has drawn a great deal of attention. Where there are Mormons, there are going to be nagging questions about polygamy.

Personally, I think it really was a miracle that Brigham Young convinced one woman to marry him, much less 52. Have you seen pictures of Young? He wasn’t exactly a prize catch. Only divine intervention saved his sorry ass from being alone in the desert.

Regardless, the LDS Church officially ended polygamy within their church in 1890. In that year, a “miraculous vision” to church leaders conveniently coincided with the Federal government’s threats to seize Mormon properties. God sure had impeccable timing as it also lowered the last hurdle for Utah to become a state in 1896. Yes, even though it was filled with religious extremists who practiced polygamy and wore funny underwear, the U.S. still preferred making it a state over New Mexico. That territory, in the U.S. since 1848, wouldn’t be granted statehood until 1912 because of its Mexican-majority population. Of course, 1912 would also be the same year that Romney’s ancestors would return to the U.S. after fleeing to Mexico to keep up their polygamous ways (Something, btw, that didn’t thrill Mexico).

Romney’s own family tree has a number of, shall we say, deviated branches. One of his great-great grandfathers had twelve wives. His great-grandfather had five wives. They all believed that polygamy was not only right, but actually ordered by God.

One might imagine that such a family history would make Romney a bit more sensitive to contemporary people who wish to change the idea of marriage. On the contrary, Romney sees nothing inconsistent in his own family history and his support of “traditional marriage.” Indeed, he is so comfortable that he even jokes about it, saying “I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman … and a woman … and a woman" (a quip he made on the now infamous Don Imus radio show).

For a religion that really hates the modern gays, Mormons have a rather queer past. I don’t mean queer in the man-on-man sex way (which the nineteenth-century Mormon church clearly didn’t support either). Rather, queer meaning that their sexual practices were defined and denigrated against what was imagined as “normal” (marriage as one woman and one man). In many ways, modern Mormons are still considered queer based on myths and legends about their sexual decisions.

Despite Romney’s attempts to laugh it off, the media is obsessed with polygamy and the Mormon church. Even though the official LDS Church hasn’t condoned polygamy (or “plural marriage”) in over a century, Romney is still fielding questions about it. Seemingly people are expecting that he has a couple extra wives secretly stashed away somewhere or that the whole LDS church is going to announce “gottcha” at any moment on an unsuspecting monogamous public.

Indeed, the U.S. has such a love/hate voyeuristic relationship with Mormon polygamy that HBO has an entire show devoted to the premise. Big Love features a rebel Mormon family that broke off from the LDS to create a polygamous family. Think of it as the modern Brady Bunch. Well, except that Mike’s first wife didn’t die and, instead, became friends with Carol. And Alice serves more than applesauce and pork chops to Mr. Brady.

Do we, though, really still care about polygamy as an issue? Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of problems with the historical ways that the Mormon church construed polygamy. It was based on a sexist premise that kept women in subordinate positions. I am also certainly horrified by the creepy modern version practiced by “Mormon fundamentalists” that seemingly involves a lot of brainwashing and bartering of children

As just an issue by itself, though, does polygamy still matter? What taboo is at stake anymore? Is it really a major issue for us, as a society, if three or more adults negotiate a mutual relationship (as long as all the parties are honest about it)?

The truth is that many people (of all forms of sexuality) are already organizing their lives in this way. The legal system doesn’t recognize it, but that doesn’t mean it is not their reality. Beyond the most extreme of Christians, few people seem concerned about an individual having multiple sex/romantic partners throughout their lifetime. What is the big deal about having two (or more) at the same time if everybody involved is down with that? If we are really interested in sexual freedom, shouldn’t all adults be able to create the types of relationships that they want? Beyond making inheritance easier, what is the investment in upholding an exclusive notion of marriage?

That aside, I think that radical Christians are spooked by Mormon polygamy because it exposes the arbitrariness of some of their own religious beliefs. Mormons, after all, claimed to be following God’s orders as they pursued their kinky, kinky relationships just as radical Christians claim to be following God's orders to pursue their own sad, unhappy monogamous marriages.

If radical Christians are really interested in defending one-man-one-woman traditional marriage, I say that polygamy might be the key for them. It sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out.

Let’s be honest, hetero people aren’t having great luck keeping their marriages together. Divorce rates are sky-high these days. With polygamy, it could increase their odds that at least one of those unions would stick. It would be like the lotto – You could have a “Quick Pick Five.” By the end of the first decade, I guarantee that only one of those spouses is going to still tolerate you. Eventually it would be whittled down to the one-man-one-woman ratio that Christians believe is critical to civilization as we know it.

Lawyers are the other group that should really support polygamy. If divorce is making them rich now, just imagine how wealthy they would be if polygamy became the rule of law. Each lawyer could build their entire career just following around one polygamist family.

For myself, though, I have no plans to become the gay version of Brigham Young. I am not even sure I could manage 52 friends at the same time, much less finding time for all those spouses. Not to mention all the little annoying things that you have to put up with when you have just one spouse. I can’t imagine coming home and finding that a dozen of my spouses had left their dirty underwear sitting on the floor.

Friday, June 01, 2007

VUBOQ is One of Life's Winners!

Since last we spoke, my former Texan colleague went from persistent to bat-shit crazy. Clearly I misunderstood when I thought that he was asking for a favor. In reality, he was making a demand.

This was really one of the major problems with that department all along. Senior faculty, like him, always imagined that their interests far outweighed the interests of us peon junior faculty. Since his ability to control my tenure fate has been eliminated, he proved completely unable to grasp that I actually said “no” to him. This resulted in my being inundated with unending e-mails – each more snarky than the last.

Somewhere in the middle of the e-mail flurry, I had to step back. It dawned on me that his craziness was eliciting a similar stubborn craziness from me as well. Just when you think that you are out, they find ways to drag you right back in again.

Ultimately, some might say that I folded like a card-table. I, though, prefer to think that I realized that the issue simply wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want to keep playing the bizarre and unprofessional games that plagued that department when the stakes were so low and simply didn’t matter. Plus, the thought of getting this same quantity of e-mail for the next four weeks didn’t appeal to me at all. It reminded me why I am so glad to be getting out of Nutsville.

In more pleasant news, VUBOQ achieved the high-score on knowing all there is to know about GayProf. He will receive his super-secret prize in the next four to six weeks (whenever I drag my lazy ass to the post office).

I think that we all know that the rest of you should be emulating VUBOQ. Clearly he has his priorities in order and slavishly devotes himself to collecting information about GayProf.

Nobody, though, scored a 100 percent. On reflection, I think that is also good news. If somebody had scored a perfect score, the super-secret prize would have been a restraining order.

Let’s take a look at the real answers, shall we?

1. Among other reasons, GayProf doesn’t like the department-store Macy’s because:

    I think only one thing when I see a Macy’s department store: That is the company that killed Marshall Field’s. Any ad on television or any radio spot just makes me think that they cared more about cutting costs on printing shopping bags than preserving a piece of Chicago history. Call me sentimental. Call me a historian. Call me a sentimental historian. Whatever the case, destroying Marshall Field’s was totally unnecessary and shortsighted.

    Macy’s, you suck.

    And don’t even get me started on the modern-lie that is Frango candy....

2. GayProf once referred to the term “MAD-C.” What did this stand for?

    MAD-C, as everybody seemingly knew, stood for Middle-Aged Disgruntled Colleague. Texas gave me the opportunity to know many MAD-C’s.

    In retrospect, though, I wish that I had written about Mormons Attending Disco Clubs. It just sounds more provocative.

3. The first real image of GayProf ever posted on this blog showed him:

    During a brief attempt at being Emma Peel, I had this shot, the first to feature a real-life GayProf:

4. Whose image is always on GayProf’s refrigerator?

    James Dean’s image is almost always on my fridge. This entry explains why.

5. Where was GayProf born?

    I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Everyday, I thank God that I was not born in Texas.

    I am still pressing my mother to prove that I was not crafted out of clay and brought to life by the gods. I think she is close to admitting the truth. Stay tuned.

6. What mishap did not occur to GayProf during the move from Texas to Boston?

    During the long and unpleasant trip across the nation, the most direct route took me through TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN, VA, MD, PA, NJ, NY, CT, and MA. The cat shit and puked on my lap. For a variety of reasons, I had no assistance loading and unloading the truck. Plus, somewhere in Virginia I got my first speeding ticket – ever.

    On the bright side, I did not have a flat tire on that trip. Plus, I ended up in Boston. That alone made the travails worth it.

7. Which Science Fiction movie was GayProf’s favorite at age 5?

    When I first went to see Star Wars in the theater, I made my father keep taking me to the bathroom. It bored me. It wasn’t until Empire Strikes Back came out that I was hooked on Star Wars.

    Everybody was bored by Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I can’t believe when they released the DVD they made that movie even longer.

    E.T. and Gremlins both came out when I was around nine or ten. Despite being a bit older, Gremlins scared the crap out of me. I had to sleep with a nite-light for years after that movie.

    In the end, I loved Disney’s The Black Hole. That film started my life-long affection for effete and fussy robots.

8. As a child, who bought GayProf the Mego Wonder Woman doll for Christmas?

    My father, against his own wishes, bought me my Mego Wonder Woman. Though an older post, that entry is actually one of my favorites from the blog.

9. As a general trend, which of the following topics usually generates the least number of comments on CoG?

    As a very general trend, entries on race or ethnicity get the least number of comments overall. I have no insight into why this is the case, but it is a something that I have noticed. If anybody speculates about why this might be true, I am open to debate.

    Entries on porn get the most comments, btw.

10. Which one of these blogs is run by the person who first linked to GayProf?

    My first link came from the author of Redd Turtles and Blue Ducks (on her previous blog). I will always be appreciative of that. GayProf might hold grudges (I am looking at you, Macy’s), but he also remembers the good stuff, too. Sadly, it doesn't seem she updates anymore.

11. What is GayProf’s favorite Christmas dish?

    I do love all of these things. New Mexico state law a requires that I officially answer “biscochitos,” so I gave partial credit for that answer. In truth, though, my favorite dish is a plate of (very labor-intensive) tamales.

12. Where did GayProf go to graduate school?

    A number of people guessed New Mexico. Actually, though, I went away to the Midwest for grad school. Though my new job is not at the same Midwestern university, in many ways it will be familiar ground.

13. The Pope is to Hitler Youth as GayProf is to:

    Though an imperfect analogy, the best answer would have been “Student Government.” At my high school, that basically meant that I was part of the decorating committee for all the dances.

    As an aside, I am not saying that everybody who was in Hitler Youth was necessarily evil; however, I don’t think that somebody who claims to be God’s representative on earth could have participated in Hitler Youth regardless of the circumstances. It seems to me that there are a number of historical Catholic figures who sacrificed themselves rather than participating in an evil (and deadly) institution.

14. Which of the following has not been a parenthetical reference to Liar Ex?

    At some point or another, I have said all of those things about Liar Ex except that he should just die. Part of my belief in karma is not wishing harm on anybody, even scummy liars like George W. Bush or Liar Ex (Who Has a Surprising Amount in Common with George W. Bush).

    Besides, I find the reality of Liar Ex's pitiful life and relationship with his loser boyfriend much more satisfying than wishing him dead. If he was dead, he wouldn't be nearly as pathetic.

15. What is GayProf’s soda of choice?

    TaB – Even if you have just glanced at the blog (or seen my lab tests), this would have been easy. Between TaB and the Hello, Kitty! Poptarts, I will be dead by age 40.

    I only drink the blood of virgins to keep me looking youthful.

16. Which of the following was not true about the house I co-owned in Texas?

    Alas, it was totally my idea to buy that accursed house. The other things were all true.

17. As a child, GayProf’s favorite Halloween costume was:

    Zorro was my favorite costume. Given I was the third child in my family, my parents had basically abandoned photographing our lives by that Halloween. Thus, I have no visual record of my Zorro costume. My mother, though, sewed it all herself. In particular, I loved my long, flowing black cape. If I could pull it off, I would go for that look today.

18. GayProf’s most recent (and most frequent adult-era) Halloween costume was:

    I most often go as a sailor. Once you have the hat, it’s pretty much an easy ride from there.

    I would like to go as Freddie Mercury in drag (complete with miniskirt and mustache) from his "Break Free" video. Perhaps next year...

19. According to this blog, which of the following happened at one or more universities in Texas over the past four years?

    All of those things were true. To my mind, the blackface video and the defacing of the Martin Luther King, Jr. statute suggest that something quite sinister is happening in Texas. I am not sure that we are even aware of its depth.

20. Did GayProf go to his highschool senior prom?

    I did go to my highschool prom. If I spent all that time decorating, you don't think I wouldn't show up, do you?

    I was not out of the closet, though, and went with a girl who was a friend (not a girlfriend).

21. Last year, GayProf had a photo meme about his Texas apartment. Which item did GayProf own?

    I owned the 1960s warming tray, for serving a hot brunch. It has been lugged around with me for almost a decade. In that time, I have used it once. Still, at any moment, I could keep my flapjacks warm and toasty.

    Somewhere at my parent’s house, I also have an I Dream of Jeannie bottle (and they feigned surprise when I told them that I was gay!). The Jeannie bottle was actually just a 1960s liquor bottle that the show painted as a prop. That, though, didn’t make it into the photo meme.

22. Before becoming a history professor, GayProf worked as a:

    secretary. All through undergrad, I worked basically full-time as some form of clerical assistant. At some point, I should really write about my time as a secretary at a mental hospital.

    Being a prostitute is more of my retirement plan.

23. How did GayProf get the tiny scar on his forehead?

    It was a tragic childhood styling-related accident. I was playing with my sister’s hairdryer and put the scolding-hot metal tip to my forehead. My face has never been the same.

24. Exactly 7 persons - P, Q, R, S, T, U & V - periodically offer GayProf gifts to show their gratitude and admiration. During each round of gift giving, none of the gifts are ever of equal value. The following statements about the gifts are always true :

V always gives a more expensive gift than P
P always gives a more expensive gift than Q
Either R gives the most expensive gift and T gives the least expensive gift, or S gives the most expensive gift and U or Q give the least expensive.

If S gives the sixth most expensive gift and Q gives the fifth most expensive gift, which of the following can be true?

    A. V gives the most expensive or forth most expensive gift
    B. R gives the second or third most expensive gift
    C. P gives the second or fifth most expensive gift
    D. U gives the third or fourth most expensive gift
    E. T gives the fourth or fifth most expensive gift

    The answer is “D.” If you are deeply curious why (and I doubt that you are), I can explain. This is a real-life GRE question (minus the reference to GayProf) -- Makes you kinda pity potential grad students, doesn't it?

    When scoring, though, I also gave full credit to smart-ass answers or those who refused to answer the question for moral and/or religious reasons.

25. For Hispanic Heritage Month 2006, GayProf:

    Chico and his tight, tight pants got my attention. Contacting Che from beyond the grave is on my list for this summer.

26. What is GayProf’s least favorite month?

    January sucks. I did, however, give half-credit for those who answered February. In my mind, January (and its sucking) extends from December 31 to February 15.

27. What was GayProf’s first car?

    My first car was the almost indestructible 1975 Dodge Dart. With the exception of the hubcaps, it was identical to the one pictured below:

    My parents bought it brand new in 1975. Here you can see a wee GayProf posed in front of it (the baseball bat was probably forced into my hands seconds before by my father):

    One of my biggest life regrets is getting rid of that car. It had the unforgivable flaw, though, of lacking air conditioning with a black interior. Under the sizzling Albuquerque sun, that was almost life-threatening.

    As an aside, I would also love to own a Charger or a Challenger. I am big into the bygone era of Mopar Muscle cars.

    My sister’s first car was a Pinto. It would be one in a long line of vehicles that she owned that would spontaneously combust.

28. Is GayProf circumcised?

    Statistics could have helped you all out here. Like 85 percent of the men in my age group born in the U.S., I haven't seen my foreskin since the first 24 hours I was on this planet. Sorry, Marlan.

    I have had hands on experience with both the hardtop and convertible models. Both seem good to me and I don’t really have a preference. As long as it doesn't take heroic efforts to make it ready for action, I am not really that picky. TMI?

29. Besides Wonder Woman, what 1970s television show is most frequently mentioned on CoG?

    With the possible exception of Barnaby Jones, all of the other shows have had at least one mention. After Wonder Woman, though, no other seventies show informed my young consciousness quite like Charlie’s Angels. I am sure that more therapy is required.

30. Which of the following is true about GayProf?

    A. Is universally adored.

    B. Is the most desirable man on the blogosphere.

    C. Should be honored with a bronze statue.

    D. All of the above

    There is no wrong answer to this question.

Finally, for DykeWife, this is the only picture I could find from the big-hair era. I seem to remember that my hair got even more voluminous, but the historical record doesn’t contain that data.