Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nonsectarian, Nondenominational Holiday Greetings

After a grueling couple of days, I finally finished all of my grading for the semester. All educators seem to agree: Grading sucks.

Each prof I know has some peculiarities that really drive them up the wall when they read student papers. Certainly I have a couple. Normally, for instance, I am not a stickler about grammar. After a full semester of writing for my class, however, I am amazed that students haven’t figured out that they need to write using past tense for history. By "amazed," I really mean "beating my head against a cinder block wall until it is bloody." This is despite the fact that I have constantly written in the margins of all of their other papers. I mean, come on – History is the study of the past. Therefore, past tense should be intuitive, no? How hard can that be?

Yet, I still had papers that discussed Emiliano Zapata as an active and eternal agent. Sure, he might have died in 1919. According to some of my students, though, he continues to fight in the Mexican Revolution to this very day.

In the midst of all that grading, I also had to go and do some rapid shopping for my family. Normally I start shopping for the holidays months before the final day. This year, though, I didn’t even notice how quickly time was passing. There is nothing more disturbing than feeling the panic about trying to find something – anything – to give as a gift. In my case, I had zero (0) gifts for my family as of 5:00 pm on Thursday.

Now I am off to my place of birth for a very short holiday. While I am eager to spend time in New Mexico again, part of me would simply prefer to sleep for the next few days. I have so little energy, it might be nice just to hide out in quiet.

It's not that I am not eager to see my family. Still, I think we all agree that family time can be tricky. They know how to push your buttons. After all, they installed them. Plus, my sister has already informed me that she plans to try and fix me up with a friend of hers -- who is retired and over sixty.

While I don't want to be ageist (Hey, you never know where that potential love interest might appear!), I find it hard to imagine that we are really going to hit it off. I am just at the start of my career and half his age. It makes me wonder what she imagined that we had in common, Oh, right! We are both gay. Isn't that enough?

All I can say is that my parents better have plenty of tamales waiting for me when I arrive. In the meantime, I hope all of you have a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Love is All Around

This past weekend marked two years since I moved out of the house that I co-owned with Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies). It was the day that I stopped crying enough to pack a bag, tuck Cat under my arm, and get away from Liar Ex’s indifference. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that the collapsing real estate market coupled with my own poor housing choices would drag out everything by another year and a half until the house finally sold this past spring. It also left me financially bankrupt because I had to pay both rent and my part of the mortgage for that year and a half. I still haven’t recovered from that (What a nice memento of that hellish time).

There are many dates after this one (and many dates before) that could potentially be used to mark the final end of that atrocious eight-year relationship. To my mind, though, the day I checked-out of that house was the true end.

I don’t mention the day to recount (again) all of the bad things that went down at the end of that relationship. The short version will suffice: After eight years, I discovered that Liar Ex was, well, a cowardly, selfish, liar. He left no promise to me unbroken. For most of our last year together, he seemed to enjoy humiliating me and reminding me of just how inadequate he thought that I was. As I struggled to meet each new milestone he created that (he claimed) would make me worth while in his eyes, he was busy scouting out (what he imagined) to be better options. Liar Ex felt free to treat me as if I had the same emotional complexity of a paper doll.

He had many opportunities to be a stand-up guy when it came to ending the relationship. Each time, however, he was too cowardly, too selfish, or too lazy to bother. Even at the bitter end, his expectation was that I would cheerfully validate his decisions by becoming a happy “roomie.” Why wouldn’t I want a front-row seat to him building a new relationship with that homely loser that he trudged up? **Sigh** -- He didn't even have the decency to find somebody younger, better looking, or more interesting than me. Loser.

Okay, so maybe I do bring up the date to recount some of the bad things that went down. Hey, I never said that I don’t need lots of therapy. Go to somebody else’s blog for a psychologically well-adjusted account of their life.

To make up for it, I've included some of my favorite break-up songs throughout this post. These were great listening in those early months:

More importantly than recounting the bad end, I mention the two-year mark because I marvel at how much my life has changed in that time. Two years ago, it was not my decision for that relationship to end (which is why I was always so desperate to believe Liar Ex’s many lies). From his vantage point, it would have been just dandy if I treated the end of our eight year relationship (and his many lies) as if it was no big deal.

The problem being that the end of the relationship was a very big deal to me. For most of the first couple months after I moved out, it felt like my skin was on fire. Most of my nights were spent watching Wonder Woman DVD's, hiding in bed, and wondering how I would face another day. There were times when I had to abandon my shopping cart in the middle of a grocery store because I started crying. Let me tell you, it is remarkably painful when you find out that your love was worth nothing more than a passel of lies.

Other people bounce back from such things more easily, I am sure. For me, however, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. It took a certain amount of hard work and introspection to get through those first few months. Plus, I went through lots of therapy. Fortunately, I found an unconventional therapist who recommended sleeping around and drinking a lot. No kidding -- That was his advice. My favorite session ended with, "Are you sure you are drinking enough?" Hey -- Who was I to question doctor’s orders?

Aside from a therapist who promoted alcoholism as a therapeutic treatment, I was also lucky to have friends and family who really cared about me. Plus, there were some exceptional people who showed me a lot of kindness through this here blog.

Like the sacred gospel of Gloria Gaynor promises, I learned to get along and I grew strong. A straight-friend (Yes, I have them) who had gone through a similarly bad breakup gave a peculiar, though accurate, estimation of one of the few advantages of the situation. When faced with many layers of betrayal, your own love for that person dies almost completely. There is no wistful longing for futures that never came to pass or small glimmers of hope about reconciliation. Instead, you come to see the person’s actual character with a stranger’s eyes. Let me tell you, in the case of Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies), that ain’t pretty.

Let’s be honest, darlings, Liar Ex wasn’t worth half of me. Even when I think about the type of people that Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) surrounded himself with at the end of the relationship (people who were shallow, exclusively white, and intellectually lazy), I realize how little he and I had in common. We were poorly matched by every measure. If anything, I wished that I had ended that relationship a thousand times earlier.

Two years out, I can say that I am much happier with my life than anytime in my eight-year relationship. Indeed, I wouldn’t trade my worst, most lonely day in the past two years for another eight years with Liar Ex (shudder).

The cosmos has been good to ol’ GayProf. I had a great year in Boston and started life over again in Midwestern Funky Town. My job is remarkably good within academic circles. These days, I am less likely to keep people in my life who are unwilling or unable to take my feelings into consideration.

Sure, there are things that still stress me out (never ending project of doom, foibles of dating, shoveling inches of snow simply so I can get out of my driveway). In many ways, I don’t know what my ultimate goals in life are (beyond finishing the never ending project of doom). Will I get tenure and stay in MFT? Will I seek out other vistas? Will I become headwriter of a gay soap opera? Who can say?

Right now, though, I like being an independent agent. My little cottage is warm and comfortable. Cat is sweet. I recently developed an appreciation for Bourbon, which means that I currently enjoy delicious Manhattan Cocktails. My health is fine. I have good friends who adore me.

It’s good that the anniversary of the breakup reminded me to take stock in all the really great things that surround me. All in all, I feel content and happy with my life at this moment.

Oh, and because I am certain that he is pathetic enough that he still reads this blog: Happy Anniversary, Shitdigit.

Monday, December 10, 2007

No Time

Time passes incredibly fast for me these days. I feel like it should be the start of November, not deep into December. All of my days are just a blur of teaching, the never ending project of doom, meetings, and pretending like I have a personal life. This has meant that my little bloggy has been neglected. Even my reading of other blogs has fallen on hard times. It’s not because I don’t love you.

Sadly, the coming month looks even busier with grading, the never ending project of doom (Did I mention it was never ending?), traveling for the holidays, and returning to teaching after an ungodly short winter break (Classes start here January 3 – That is so evil). Don’t give up on CoG. It will be updated, but maybe not at a rapid pace – or with much vigor – or in a form that will actually entertain anybody.

When thinking about how to explain that I didn’t even make my magic “9" entries for November, I wanted to come up with a more interesting excuse than I was “busy.” My absences should always be mysterious and glamorous, just like my real life. Here are some things that I have considered deploying as plausible explanations for my less active blog:

    My blog silence shows my political solidarity with the Hollywood Writers Strike.

    My blog silence is a political statement in opposition to the Hollywood Writers Strike.

    Mattel is currently developing a GayProf action figure (with Gravitas Grip!). Debate is raging about whether or not it will have removable clothes.

    I entered rehab.

    I refused to enter rehab.

    I am still busy interviewing celebrity guest-hosts to take over CoG while I am on vacation.

    CoG will soon become a musical on Broadway.

    I decided that being a porn star would be more interesting than writing a blog.

    When the blog is not updated it is a sign that I am currently deployed as a cosmic agent of karma who prompts individuals to reckon with all the deeds they have done in their life.

    I also won the Noble Peace Prize this year and am therefore still sitting through Al Gore’s speech at the ceremony.

    Since I have been part of the beta for, I can’t stop watching old episodes of Lou Grant.

    Though I am not Jewish, I decided to honor Hanukkah by making delicious latkes.

    I can’t stop watching the smart M.I.A. video for “Jimmy.”

    I am sewing my own version of M.I.A.'s outfit in "Jimmy" to wear around the house.

    GayProf has been placed into dry dock so that skilled technicians can scrap off a serious barnacle problem.

    My time has been devoted to pitching CoG as a new talk show for the Logo network.

    Warner Brothers tapped me to write the new screenplay for the Wonder Woman film.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Psycho Killer Lesbians from Outer Space

I have made little secret that I throughly enjoy SciFi Channel’s reincarnation of Battlestar Galactica (BSG). To my mind, the writing on the show has provided the most savvy political and social critiques to appear in television science fiction in decades.

Well, okay, mostly I just watch for dreamy Jamie Bamber and Tahmoh Penikett to take their shirts off. The social and political critiques are just gravy.

Imagine my dismay over the very queer-unfriendly BSG miniseries Razor. Not only did Bamber stay fully clothed (Again, why do they think I am watching the show?), but the story fell into some of the most cliched stereotypes of lesbians known in pop culture. Even before I sat down to watch it, I knew things weren’t going to go quite right. AfterEllen revealed the lesbian sub-sub-plot the day before Razor aired. The AfterEllen folk, knowing that the producers probably didn't mean harm, tried to be generous with their reading of the show. Fortunately, my gravitas doesn't leave me with any similar inclination.

Without going into a lot of the details, the basic premise of BSG involves the almost total genocide of humanity by a group of robots (cylons). The cylons, for inexplicable reasons, appear both in a shiny metal form and in a covert-human-looking form. The covert human cylons spy on the actual humans, often with sexy results.

All that remains of actual humans are a scattering of civilian spaceships and a couple of military ships. For much of the show, though, the two military ships were unaware of the other’s existence. The titular Battlestar Galactica was commanded by Lee Adama (played by the scenery-chewing Edward James Olmos). Adama leads the battleship and a fleet of aging civilian ships (including the President’s ship) on a mission to find a peaceful future on earth.

The other military ship, the Pegasus, appeared unexpectedly in season two. As a narrative strategy, Pegasus served as the darker alternative to Galactica. Whereas Galactica focused on survival and preserving humanity, Pegasus waged a merciless campaign of guerrilla warfare.

The original story arc about the Pegasus revealed that the commander of the ship, Admiral Cain (played by the underrated Michelle Forbes), became cruel and blood thirsty. Unlike the sure and steady Adama, Cain’s command style made her as lovable as Captain Bligh. Before meeting up with Galactica, Cain shot her second-in-command for questioning her orders, forced civilians into military service aboard her ship, and threatened to kill the families of humans who resisted her orders. A cylon, whose torture Cain authorized, ultimately murdered the Admiral.

Fans apparently responded to the notion of an anti-Galactica and Cain’s character had some interest. As a result, SciFi and the BSG producers decided to film a miniseries that would tell Cain’s full story and fill in the exposition of her collapse into revenge. This is where things went kinda wrong.

One of the “surprise twists” of that miniseries was that Cain had a lesbian affair with the cylon spy on board her ship. Cain's decision to torture her (and seemingly her slip into nuttyville) resulted from the betrayal of this lesbian relationship. Yeah, we are back to old stereotypes about killer lesbians from outer space whose love affair leads them to kill, kill, KILL!

Battlestar producers (and ardent fans) have defended the decision to make Cain’s insanity at least partially related to this relationship is a claim that “sexuality doesn’t matter in the Battlestar universe -- Nobody thinks twice about being gay or straight.” They argue that Cain’s relationship to the cylon was the same as the heterosexual relationship between the male-character Baltar and a female cylon.

Those claims would be a lot more convincing if we had seen any other explicitly queer characters on Battlestar before Cain. Likewise, it is Baltar who rescues the tortured cylon from the deranged Cain. Seemingly the straight can have complicated responses to their betrayal. Lesbians just want blood.

It’s not that I need every queer character or relationship to be represented as perfect. One of the problems with claiming that “sexuality doesn’t matter,” though, is that it rarely means that queer characters get a fair shake. On the contrary, while Battlestar has been preoccupied with every possible variety of heterosexual relationship, queers have been totally absent. Making the sociopath Cain into the only explicitly human queer figure only plays into some pretty tired stereotypes.

Really, it has been a tough year for lesbians in science fiction. The British-import Torchwood also could not resist an episode about killer lesbians from outer space. In one episode, an evil alien seduces one of the main (and usually straight-identified) female characters. The lesbian alien then encourages her to betray her friends and possibly destroy the earth. Queer sexuality was imagined as both inhuman and dangerous.

To my mind, though, what distinguishes Battlestar and Torchwood’s killer-lesbians-from-outer space is that the latter has also had positive images of queer characters. Indeed, the central hero of the show considers himself “omnisexual” and frequently mentions relationships with both men and women. Meanwhile, Battlestar’s producers have only delivered empty promises of better (read “any”) representation for queers on their show.

Perhaps what also makes Battlestar’s claims that “sexuality doesn’t matter” suspect is that the miniseries itself named sexuality as the key difference between Cain and Adama. Why did Cain go wrong? The wise Adama authoritatively tells the audience that it was because she lacked the same [heterosexual] relationship that he had with the [heterosexual female] president and because she lacked children. He explained to his (all-too-shirt-wearing) son:

    Now, you don't have any children, so you might not understand this, but you see yourself reflected in their eyes. And there are some things that I've thought of doing, with this fleet, but I stopped myself because I knew that I'd have to face you the following day.

Apparently since Cain was a barren husk of a woman, she was more than willing to do cruel and unusual things that the good patriarch Adama wouldn’t possibly consider. Without the cure-all of biological offspring, the show tells us, Cain lost her humanity and turned into a bitter, bitter killing machine.

I am not impressed with the notion that sexuality is only irrelevant when discussing queer characters, but critically important to the formation of hetero characters’ motivations. Producers might claim that sexuality is no big deal in the BSG universe, but it still clearly matters here at home.