The slur was yelled at my friend Sean as he drove his roadster through town one hot summer day.
A second slur later the same day, unusual for our generally accepting city. When he told me about it later he was not bothered at all. That didn’t surprise me since Sean has always been self confident, and has been totally comfortable with his sexuality and his place in a straight world since his late teen years.
In fact, he was amused by the double slur. He assumed it related to his cute little BMW Z3 roadster, painted in the distinctive color called Santorini Blue.
I like Tim Gunn. He has always come across to me as a guy who is totally confident in his sexuality, and who would be a fun guy to hang out with. He has a good sense of humor, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and is classy without being uptight.
He is also a walking stereotype. He has a quintessential gay voice, he has gay mannerisms, and his entire being just exudes a gay sensibility. Some would call him a big ol’ queen. All of which I love about him!
I've been a political junkie since I was 14 years old. Every four years I watch most of both the Democratic and Republican conventions. And I enjoy myself! And so last week I spent far too much time with Donald Trump. But, despite my distaste for Trump and my disagreement with most Republican thinking, when it was over I felt palpably reminded of the incredible progress the gay community has made over the past twenty years or so. This week I'm watching the Democrats, and that reminder is being reinforced. I think most gay people are glossing over the reality here.
This story was originally part of my longer essay "Three Truths From Orlando That Many Are Getting Wrong." It was a fourth truth, but the essay was too long, and so I excised this section. It is my contention that there is really nothing we can do to prevent mass killings, as sad and upsetting as that might be.
The following words of Martin Luther King, Jr. could well have been said this week as a reaction to the racial bloodshed and animosity we’ve seen in the past few days.
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
The essential reality of politics and psychology in today’s America can be summed up in one short sentence: people believe what they want to believe. Those of us who call ourselves progressive tend to believe that sentence, but only about those on the right side of the political spectrum. Global warming is a classic case. But we are prone to it as well. In fact, as the 21st century evolves I am beginning to think we are almost equally guilty.
The internet makes the situation worse. In theory it exposes people to new and alternate ideas, but as used by many in 2016 it serves instead to allow people to restrict their exposure primarily to others who reinforce their beliefs. Challenging views have become stressful, and we can just ignore them. It’s pleasant in our little echo chambers, and it feels good to be told we’re right about the big issues of the day. We can get on comment sections, tell each other how right and wise we are, and lambaste people with alternate opinions as idiots.
This phenomenon has been evident in the various reactions to the Orlando tragedy.
Time marches on, and the meanings of words can change over time. Including words like "queer" and the infamous "n-word." Here's why I'm cool with Larry Wilmore calling President Obama "my nigga" at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Kenny's conservative, strictly Catholic grandmother comes to visit, and Kenny's mother wants to hide his gayness and her divorce from her. Kenny is having none of it. In the end all is revealed, but Kenny's mom comes out of it a hero.
So when did disco die as a meaningful musical expression? What event marks the beginning of the internet age? When did Madonna become irrelevant? Great minds have pondered and argued these and other milestone issues. People like to point to specific beginnings and endings of important cultural movements.
So when did the new millennial gay experience begin?
If you want a classic example of the difference between the “bad old days” and the new millennial gay world in which we now live you need look no further than the life of Alan Turing. I was reminded of that last night when I finally got around to watching “The Imitation Game.”
I think the “it gets better” campaign has been a great thing for our community, especially the younger members. For many of us who are older it’s a pleasant affirmation that our lives have turned out pretty well. And for younger people it’s a beacon of hope that their current difficulties don’t have to define their futures. Life for young gay people can and usually does get better.
But not all aspects of gay life get better as time goes on.
This is part 2 of my long statement piece. There is a schism in the gay community between those who look at the community in a traditional way, where being gay dominates one's perception of life, and those who see being gay as only one part of a larger identity.
By Dennis Stone
Brandon Ambrosino's New Republic article in which he says he chose to be gay has generated a firestorm. Here's what he is really saying, and why we should give his piece much more serious consideration than most of have given it.
You are probably aware of the Nextdoor social networking service, which allows people within a neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods to communicate via public posts that are only visible to people in the area. I find it exceedingly useful in allowing me to keep up with crimes, lost dogs, FREE STUFF!, and any issues of interest within the neighborhood.
Recently a member posted a story of a traffic encounter she witnessed in front of her home between two drivers. She described one as “male presenting,” and I wondered if it was someone she knew to be trans or in some sort of non-binary gender situation. Then later in the story she described the other driver as “female presenting.” It became obvious that as a good progressive she was defaulting to what she considers a new paradigm for gender descriptions.
Since this site has evolved, or, perhaps more accurately, devolved into my own personal playground I feel justified in posting a poem I wrote. The poem has nothing to do with being gay, apart from the fact that a gay man wrote it, and in a way I guess that's in keeping with the underlying ethos of the site. This reflects my spiritual and deeply personal side, that part of me that comes out in the deep dead of night, or in the middle of a thick wood surrounded by nothing but nature. A time when the world seems both ineffably huge and intimate at the same time. When big questions and big feelings compete.
Don't follow the crowd. Think different. Or, put another way, think for yourself.
I watched the movie "Steve Jobs" last night. The last set of scenes was built around the 1998 launch of the iMac. As Jobs talked with other characters on stage the viewer could see snippets of the iconic "Think Different" ad campaign, which featured images of innovators such as Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Gandhi, Thomas Edison, and Muhammad Ali. The point of the campaign related to innovation, to coming up with new ideas and new ways to approach technology or the world itself. However, I choose to "think different" about the slogan, and interpret it in terms of how we all think about and react to the world and the society around us.
When I was a junior in high school representatives of the U.S. Army came to our school. I don't recall all the details, but they offered rewards of some kind to the boys for taking a written test. (Women were still excluded from active service at that time.) I'm guessing it may have related in some way to recruitment efforts. I was a committed pacifist, opposed viscerally to all things military, and so I was one of three boys in the class to decline the opportunity. My brave decision made me feel really good about myself, and it certainly revealed how superior I was to my classmates.
In the first two presidential elections in which I could vote I was proud to cast my ballot for principled third party candidates since the Democratic candidates weren't sufficiently progressive. I also voted for a Socialist candidate for governor. Again, I felt really good about myself. I could see beyond the short-sighted vision of "average" voters.
Three of the grand marshals for today’s San Francisco Pride parade dropped out on Friday. One of them was the Black Lives Matter movement, which had been selected in connection with the chosen theme for this year’s parade: racial and economic justice. The withdrawal was due to the announced increased police presence at this year’s parade.
The Orlando shooting has much of the queer community on edge. A friend rented a downtown Minneapolis hotel room for him and his husband for this weekend’s festivities, but he confided that he was feeling uneasy about his safety.
The world in which I grew up was a much simpler place than the one I inhabit today. It was an almost universally Christian farming community in rural Wisconsin. The men worked to support their families, while the women raised the kids and kept the house. Gay people were rare, exotic, sinful and dangerous people who lived in big cities. The human race consisted of two utterly distinct genders. That's how God planned it, and no one had any reason to doubt God's plan.
I enjoy the introductory letters or memos of "Advocate" editor Matthew Breen and "Out" editor Aaron Hicklin in their respective magazines (though Aaron doesn't write one for each edition of "Out"). Both guys understand and champion traditional LGBT concerns and issues on the one hand, but also understand the emerging realities and viewpoints of the new millennial outlook. Matthew's "Editor's Letter" in the new edition of the "Advocate" is a piece I could have written myself. But since he wrote it I don't have to!
The basic premise of the essay is that we as a community are too intent on vilifying straight people for the less than enlighted attitudes they might have held in the past...
1. As I exited the local public library a couple of days ago I stopped to pick up the latest copy of "Lavender," the free Minneapolis/St. Paul gay magazine. It's one of several free local magazines offered in the entryways of most local libraries. On top of the pile was a sheet of white paper enclosed in a clear plastic sleeve. On the sheet, in large letters, was a Bible verse from Isaiah relating to repentance and getting right with God. Momentarily taken aback, it took only a moment to realize that someone was trying to save the souls of those sinful, God-forsaking gays. I removed the sheet, took a copy of the magazine, and debated how to proceed.
In my last blog entry I addressed the question that an "Advocate" writer contended was asked by all gay people at some point: "why me?" While the angst of that question continues to diminish in our new millennial gay world, it was my guess that it would continue to be asked by almost all people who realized - whether suddenly or gradually - that they were markedly different from their peers. Sexuality is a big deal - always has been and always will be. To be so different from the overwhelming majority of people in such a basic and life-altering way seems the sort of thing that will inevitably lead people to wonder why they were "chosen." Or so I thought.
Now that the intensity of my job and the time spent on it have diminished, I’m catching up on some reading and DVR’d television shows. In the October/November edition of "The Advocate" I came across an article by Brenden Shucart titled "What's the Use Of Being Gay?" He begins as follows: "'Why am I gay?' The question reverberates through every homosexual at least once in his or her life."
Brenden was wrong about that. I can honestly say I never asked the "why me" question. As I think about it now, I wonder if I am essentially unique on that score. Does virtually every gay go through a period of wondering why God or the fates or the vagaries of gene structure chose him or her?
It's easy to forget how far we as a community have come in recent years. How different the world was when we grew up and came of age as gay people. It's good to think about that once in awhile, and I had an opportunity to do so a couple of hours ago.
Two years ago this month my friend Scott helped me to buy a new Subaru. The old Prizm had just given up after close to 200,000 miles, and with a forecast of both snow and -20 degree temperatures over the next few days the summer sportscar was safely tucked away in the garage. Scott really knows cars, and he spent the entire day with me, test driving several vehicles, debating what to do, sitting through the procession of paperwork as the dealer's closing time came and went and the temperature continued to drop.
Can anyone be "queer?"
I've been asking myself that question the past two days after seeing a series of stories across the internet announcing "Rowan Blanchard Comes Out As Queer!" Rowan is the 14-year old star of the Disney Channel's "Girl Meets World." In a series of tweets she has identified herself as queer. Cool! I thought, a Disney star being queer can only be a good thing, bringing awareness to a corner of the entertainment world that has been very cautious about all things LGBTQ.
However, when I read the tweets the story isn't quite as straightforward as it had appeared.
Do you remember how “Teen Wolf” was presented during its first season? A typical teenager in a typical town, with typical relationships and typical problems. Then, there are glowing eyes in the dark, a rustle of brush nearby, a palpable sense of menace in the air, followed by a sudden nighttime attack in the woods. And our typical teenager isn’t so typical anymore.
As I was coming home late last night I heard a song on the radio that I vaguely recognized. Great romantic tune, beautiful voices, the type of song that makes me feel I’m in love even when I’m alone. Then the words of the chorus hit me:
Something happens when I hold him
He keeps my heart from getting broken
When the days get short and the nights get a little bit frozen
We hold each other
We hold each other
New Year’s Day might be my favorite holiday.
But before I talk about that I have to say a few words about the truly seismic event of 2015: Drake redefining both music and video with the release of “Hotline Bling.” OK, just joking. The really big news was Zayn exiting One Direction, leaving a big hole in my heart.
Well, actually, you know I’m referring to marriage equality becoming the law of the land in all 50 of the United States, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in June. Most gay people consider that a really significant event, but in my experience a lot of people nonetheless underestimate how truly landscape-changing it is.