Category Archives: gay

Why I had to un-friend my favorite aunt on Facebook today

“I don’t understand it, but I accept it.”

Those words would have to rank near the top of my list of the most annoying things straight people say about gay people. What they’re really saying: “You’re sinners, but you’re here and you’re queer, so what choice do we have but to put up with you?”

Despite serious misgivings, I decided to let it go when my Aunt Juliet did the whole song and dance at my brother Jeff’s wedding 11 years ago. I had just introduced her to my then-boyfriend Khleber, and I was so determined not to ruin Jeff’s big day that I let it pass when she started talking about how sad she was that I would miss out on a spouse and kids, all the things that heterosexuality would have supposedly granted me that she herself was living without.

Come to think of it, Jeff’s wedding day wasn’t the best moment to be gay. The stench of homophobia was in the air, and my Uncle Achille, who was performing the ceremony, made an even bigger stink than Juliet.

I was best man, and I was so nervous about getting it right that I totally missed the thing Achille said about two men in the Garden of Eden. Being the fire-and-brimstone Bible thumper I’d always known him to be, he couldn’t just leave a tender moment alone. He had to drop in some judgment, which, in hindsight, I realize was totally for my benefit and for that of my brother Alexi, who is also gay.

He made some crack about how God created Adam and Eve, not “Hemp and Shemp” …or something to that effect. The names are not as relevant as the intended message: God hates you, faggots. Fortunately, both the words and the message went over my head because my head was elsewhere.

Wait, where’s the ring?…Oh, there it is.

When my mother repeated her former brother-in-law’s comment later at the reception, her voice dripping with disgust, she was furious. It was actually my first time hearing it, and I wasn’t sure if her reaction was about what Achille had said or the forum in which he’d chosen to say it. I decided she was angry for me and for Alexi, and I loved her for it.

As for my uncle, I had only one personal encounter with him at the wedding. It was when he walked into the men’s room and caught Khleber and me in a warm embrace. He glared at us but didn’t say a word, not even when I directly addressed him and asked how he was doing. I bit my tongue and let his silent treatment go. He’d always been my least favorite uncle, and I knew I’d probably never see or speak to him again after Jeff’s wedding day.

Now I can say the same thing about Juliet, who today became the first family member ever to be un-friended by me on Facebook. The deal breaker arrived on the morning shortly after I learned that the U.S. Supreme Court had declared gay marriage legal. It was wrapped in big box of hate and re-posted on Facebook:

The post itself isn’t even worth debating. It’s passive-aggressive drivel, hate dressed up in Sunday church clothes. If you think I’m a sinner who is going to hell, if you don’t support me or marriage between my kind, I have absolutely no use for your “love” or “friendship.” As for the alleged name-calling and stereotyping, if you’re going to walk the homophobic walk and talk the talk, be prepared to be taken down for it.

But on a more personal level, why would a woman who has at least three gay nephews spread this message in a place where she knows they’ll likely read it? Was she trying to douse a celebratory occasion with some good old-fashioned negativity, just as my uncle did on my brother’s wedding day?

Here’s the thing about homophobia. Like racism, it doesn’t always carry a pitchfork and twirl its moustache. My Aunt Juliet would probably never openly criticize me or my life. The last time I spoke to her, we had a perfectly pleasant conversation. But at the end of the day, she thinks I’m defective. She can hide behind “love” and the Bible all she wants, but she’s homophobic. I have as much use for homophobes as I do for racists. As the kids say (or at least used to), deuces.

Alexi, who tends to take this sort of thing better than I do, may or may not agree with my reaction to the latest incident of homophobia within our family ranks. But I’m pretty sure he understands and accepts it. That’s a lot more than I ever got from others who have called me family.

I can do better…and I already have.


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Filed under gay, homophobia, racism, religion

Gays Against Gay Marriage: Why They’ve Got It All Wrong

At some point, possibly within the next lifetime, if not in mine, people will probably look back at the gay-marriage debate and ask, ” What were they thinking?” That gays were once legally barred from calling their civil unions “marriage” will seem as unfathomable as the idea of women not being able to vote or a world without Facebook.

In the meantime, the debate continues, with some unexpected players popping up on both sides. President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama have been openly endorsing it at least since last year’s National Democratic Convention. And notice how many straight rappers now publicly support gay marriage, from Jay-Z to Eminem to 50 Cent to Snoop Dogg to T.I. to Macklemore, who along with his DJ/producer partner Ryan Lewis, recorded “Same Love,” a No. 1 Australian hit, in favor of it.

As the United States inches closer to nationwide enlightenment and legalization of gay marriage — on May 14, Minnesota became the 12th state to go there (13th, if you count Washington D.C.) — some dissenters refuse to let their increasingly outdated opposition go. Shockingly, a significant number of them are the very people who would benefit from it, though those gay detractors beg to differ. I saw several attempting to explain themselves once on an episode of Rick Lake’s talk show, and some prominent ones I’ve never heard of shared their points of view in the 2010 book Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage.

I know the title was supposed to be ironic. They don’t actually think they are “against” equality, but really, by associating themselves with a movement that’s long been a platform for homophobia and intolerance, they are. That’s the point of this post/rant.

The first time I ever heard the anti-gay marriage argument coming from a gay person, it went a little something like this: In making gay marriage the gay cause, it sends the message that marriage should be the end game for any self-respecting gay person, creating a new generation of gay youth who grow up obsessing over it, thinking it’s the only way to true human bliss. Opposing it is for their (gay youth’s) own greater good. While the idea of hundreds, thousands (millions?) of gay bridezillas-in-training gives me a headache, it’s a pretty weak reason to deny gay people access to the same deluded upbringing as straight people.

I, for one, don’t want what I can and cannot do to be dictated by the psychological effect it may or may not have on young people I don’t even know. By that same argument, should women’s rights groups start lobbying against straight marriage because too many young girls grow up dreaming about their perfect fairytale wedding? I no more get that mindset than I do the institution of marriage in general, but it’s not for me to get.

Someone I know once made the argument that gay people can enjoy more or less all the rights and benefits of married people — all that’s missing is the word “marriage.” That’s it exactly. If “civil unions” offer the same rights and benefits as “marriage,” then why not just call them “marriages.” Suggesting that they shouldn’t be — whether for reasons that revolve around tradition, history or religion — is tantamount to suggesting that gay relationships are somehow less valid than straight ones. It’s the principle that counts, and principles count.

It’s like the episode of Frasier in which Frasier and Niles kept trying to upgrade their membership in an exclusive club. Every time they advanced one level, they’d hear about a higher one and desperately want in. Although at some point, the benefits between levels became fairly commensurate, only they were offered in different sections, Frasier and Niles wanted to go higher. Weren’t they just as good as the people beyond the wall? They deemed the other side higher because they were restricted from it, and ultimately ended up in an alley next to a garbage bin.

I’m not saying that the state of holy matrimony is a bunch of trash (though, in general, I don’t think that much more highly of it), but that’s how gay people feel about the “marriage” that is still denied to them in 38 states and in countries around the world. It might be little more than a title at this point, but denying them that title suggests that they aren’t worthy of it, and like Frasier and Niles, they are left stranded — segregated — on the other side. Why aren’t all of these anti-gay marriage gay lobbyists carping about the damage that’s doing to the collective psyche of young gay people? It’s basically telling them that their relationships are inferior to straight people’s, not worthy of equal recognition in the eyes of the law.

Where have I heard something similar before? In the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case Brown Vs. Board of Education in which the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas, tried to make the argument that it was okay to segregate black students from white students in learning facilities that were separate but equal. That “separate but equal” spin didn’t fly with black people then — nor with the Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently inequal” — and it shouldn’t fly with any gay person with any intellectual capacity.

I’ve also heard the argument that the nature and dynamics of straight relationships and gay relationships are different (duh!), and the straight institution of marriage simply doesn’t fit into gay culture. Now let’s consider this for a second. For decades, gay people have been saying to homophobic straight people, “What happens in our bedroom is none of your business!” So is what happens in those bedrooms, in those relationships, the concern of gay-marriage opponents, whether straight or gay? If you don’t want your relationship to be defined by “straight” ideals, don’t let it. But stay out of mine. In the end, it feels like politicking for the sake of politicking, with no discernible goal beyond distancing gay romance from straight romance, which feels like stepping backward instead of forward.

More and more people around the world are realizing that regardless of where you stand on marriage or on gay people, there just isn’t any rational reason to continue denying gay people the same institution of marriage, along with the same title, that straight people enjoy. As Eminem once wisely said, “I think everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want.”

Well, perhaps not completely miserable, for there are great benefits to marriage, which is the only reason why some straight people choose to enter into it. I might actually be able to get behind a general anti-marriage movement on the grounds that “marriage” discriminates against single people, who aren’t afforded the same financial and immigration breaks as married people. It’s an outdated institution whose symbolic significance has been cheapened by the sheer number of people who casually enter and exit it. But it feels unfair and wrong to single out gay marriage as the greater of two evils.

Those who are content with their “civil unions” and/or have no interest in walking down the aisle are free not to. I, for one, have no interest in ever being a groom, but that doesn’t mean I won’t dance at my best friend’s wedding and maybe even catch the bouquet. If gay people are going to demand the right to privacy when it comes to what goes on in their bedrooms, they need to extend the same courtesy to what goes on in other people’s relationships and how people choose to legally define them. In this case, hypocrisy and bigotry may be separate vices, but their end results are equally intolerable.

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5 Random Thoughts I Had After Watching the First Two Episodes of “The New Normal”

1. David and Bryan make a good couple on The New Normal, NBC’s Tuesday-night freshman sitcom, but how unrealistic are they? In a sense, it’s nice to see such seemingly well-adjusted longtime gay companions where one doesn’t always have a eye on Grindr. Their relationship is straighter (as in no curves, no coloring outside the lines) than most straight relationships on TV! If that really were the new normal, opponents of gay marriage wouldn’t stand a chance (and in the long run, they probably don’t). But there’s really little comic gold to be mined from it. The couple dynamic — one’s queeny while the other is slightly nerdy and could possibly pass for straight among the severely gaydar-challenged — is not exactly a match made in sitcom heaven. Andrew Rannells (as Bryan) and Justin Bartha (as David) are appealing, but I wanted them to be funny, too, and so far they aren’t.

2. In fact, the only one who did or said anything funny in the first two episodes was Ellen Barkin as Jane, the grandmother of David and Bryan’s surrogate Goldie. But I wonder why she wasn’t cast as Goldie’s mother instead. I get that she’s supposed to be the first of three generations of babies who had babies, but Barkin looks too darn hot to be playing a great-grandmother. Jane easily could have been a gay-unfriendly variation on Holland Taylor’s dragon mama on Two and a Half Men, but Barkin gives Jane a little bit of vulnerability and turns her into what might end up being prime-time TV’s most lovable bigot since Archie Bunker. She seems to be vaguely aware, on some level, of how inappropriate her racist and homophobic pronouncements are, but she just can’t help herself. Look out, Julie Bowen! She’s coming after you in the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy category next year!

3. Georgia King is fantastic as Goldie, David and Bryan’s surrogate, but the goody-two-shoes character is a bit of a bore so far. I think the actress is taking the material too seriously, treating the vehicle like it’s a tony prime-time drama instead of lightweight fluff. Her best scenes in episodes 1 and 2 were the ones featuring Goldie and her ex-husband Clay (Jasyon Blair). Maybe I’m swayed by the fact that I could spend 22 minutes just staring at Blair, but I found Goldie and Clay’s straight relationship to be a lot more interesting than David and Bryan’s gay one.

4. I like Bebe Wood (as Goldie’s daughter Shania), and her bonding with Bryan over Grey Gardens was kind of sweet, but since when is Grey Gardens a gay thing? I’d never even heard of it until the Jessica Lange-Drew Barrymore TV-movie remake a few years ago. Maybe I’m just too much like David, who has no idea what it is (prompting Bryan to make the two episodes’ only bullseye observation, about gay men who pretend to be clueless about “gay” things to seem more “straight”), but the flashback sequence with the model of the Dynasty mansion seemed more authentically “gay” to me.

5. NeNe Leakes’ reality-TV origins (The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Celebrity Apprentice 4) are showing because the lady, though fierce, cannot act. Unless she’s being the sassy black woman (which pretty much seems to be her only purpose so far), her line readings sound too much like she’s regurgitating memorized, rehearsed dialogue. As much as I like Leakes, I think an actual actress, someone like The Game‘s Wendy Raquel Robinson, could make Rocky more than just a stereotypical archetype. I wonder if Mo’Nique is busy. It’s not like she’s been doing anything since she won that Oscar. She might be just what this sitcom needs to seem less like the old normal and more like something new — and funny.

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Filed under Entertainment, gay, gay marriage, surrogacy, Television

How Gay Is This Bangkok Billboard?

SAM_0188The things you notice when you wear your glasses for the first time in weeks!

Today I put on my specs, stepped onto the balcony and immediately noticed something that nearly made me fall over it. How could I be so blind without my glasses not to have noticed it before? Off in the near distance was a bright red billboard with a shirtless guy motioning for me to “Shhh.” He needn’t have bothered. I was already speechless.

What are they trying to sell? That was the first thought that ran through my head. Ah, there’s the word “delivery,” but just what would show up on my doorstep if I rang up the number in the upper left corner? The guy?

My second thought: The male model in the ad would look more at home gyrating onstage at G.O.D. than attempting to lure passersby on Narathiwat Road during rush hour. I’m pretty sure I must have flirted with him once on the dance floor. So this is what Thai women want? I’m assuming the advertisement is for their benefit and not the Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4 crowd.

It’s an intriguing advertising concept, mostly because it goes against everything I’ve come to associate with Bangkok and Thailand outside of the red-light districts. Though Bangkok is the sex capital of Asia and possibly the world, there’s a whiff of prudishness permeating the air here. Modesty in everyday activities is the norm: I never see shirtless guys jogging around Lumpini Park in the morning, or cleavage popping out from low-cut blouses during regular business hours.

You can buy bootleg copies of movies that are not even out yet in the U.S., but I still haven’t been able to track down Magic Mike, the stripper hit that was released in the U.S. two and a half months ago — not even on Silom Road, the night-market strip that I can’t walk down after midnight without half a dozen people hawking porn DVDs in my face.

I never go to bed with my glasses on, so I probably won’t have a very clear view of the delivery guy the next time I wake up with the curtains drawn. That’s okay, though. I’d rather see Matthew McConaughey or (and!) Channing Tatum first thing in the morning.

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Filed under Bangkok, gay

The Thing That Really Bothers Me About Religion

Actually, there are several things. This beautiful morning in Bangkok, however, one thing in particular is working me, and like so much that has been bugging me lately, it involves Chick-fil-A‘s No. 1 fan.

In her August 16 exit tweet explaining her reason for closing her Twitter account, the actress formerly best known as Days of Our Lives costar Melissa Reeves, said a lot (by Twitter standards), yet she didn’t really say anything at all. But as usual when it comes to the written (or tweeted) word, the juiciest stuff was between the lines: What isn’t said is often as telling as what is said?

Reeves tried to rationalize her reason for leaving the Twitter party — death threats and nasty comments against her and her family, the inability to express opinions in any meaningful way on the Internet — but the one thing she didn’t do, the one thing she never did in the weeks since this controversy began, is actually explain the meaning and motivation behind her original tweet.

What exactly was she trying to say? Why tweet a message in support of an organization on a day specially created to acknowledge said organization’s right to push an anti-gay agenda? How does she feel about gay civil rights, gay marriage, gay people? Doesn’t she owe some kind of explanation, some acknowledgement of her many (now-former) gay fans, the ones who have supported her and followed her (not just on Twitter) since she was a teen actress on Days in the mid-’80s?

Since she’s the one who broached the subject with her Chick-fil-A-supporting tweet, opened the proverbial can of worms, this is what we want to know, and she does not have to explain herself on Twitter in 140 characters or less. Look at me now: I’m expressing yet another of my many opinions in far more than 140 characters. Twitter is not the only forum of online communication.

I suppose that in the bubble Melissa Reeves calls home, freedom of speech applies only to the one-way exchange of cryptic ideas. Apparently, the way Reeves and many of her supporters interpret the First Amendment, it does not extend to those who choose to disagree with those ideas or question them. I’m not talking about the idiots who issued death threats, but the people who respectfully challenged Reeves’ initial post (like The Young and the Restless star Greg Rikaart, who personally responded to Reeves on Twitter and also wrote an excellent counter-argument for The Huffington Post) and were blocked by her for their efforts. And if she’s so gung ho about First Amendment rights, why not exercise them to stand her ground rather than crawling under a rock?

As a journalist, I’ve spent my career dodging insults hurled at me by people who disagree with what I’m saying. Back when I reviewed albums for People magazine, I used to receive threatening letters from readers who couldn’t believe I would dare criticize their favorite artists. This was back in the day before readers could communicate with writers in online comment sections. I couldn’t fight back, but I didn’t crawl under the covers and hide from criticism either. I continued writing. I continue writing.

Melissa Reeves, though, will not. And I suspect it is because she has no excuse, no defense for what she wrote. Rather than simply saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand the full implications of my actions,” she’s chosen to bury her head in the sand, and she’s going to keep it there. But not until she got in one final word, with which she closed her exit tweet.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30”

What does that even mean, and how is it relevant to the Twitter shitstorm? Look, I’m not big on religion, but I support people’s right to believe in whatever god they want to believe in (freedom of religion) as much as I support freedom of speech. That said, I’m always suspicious of people who end monologues, tirades or outgoing answering-machine messages with religious sloganeering or by quoting a scripture from the Holy Bible. To me, it comes across as patronizing and self-righteous, especially in the case of a woman whose “God-honoring” words ramble on about love while failing to actually exhibit any.

What about loving others with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do the powers that be at the organization that Reeves holds in such high esteem (that would be Chick-fil-A)? Perhaps if the folks who use God as an excuse to damn gay people harbored even a fraction of the love they’re always preaching about, their arguments would be more effective. But all I hear is fear and judgement and hate. According to one Twitterer, Reeves conveniently left out the crucial following Biblical verse, Mark 12:31 — “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” As I said at the beginning of this post, what isn’t said is often as telling as what is said.

Coming from such sources, this particular brand of religion becomes harder for me to buy, and the God they speak of as real as any of the 12 who reside on Mount Olympus in Greek mythology. I never believed Zues, Hera or any of their immortal kin existed, but I’ve always gotten a lot more enjoyment out of reading about their antics than I ever did out of listening to any church sermon. That’s probably because no one has ever tried to use them as a tool to arouse my fear and denigrate my life, as a weapon of mass destruction to prove me — me, not just my beliefs, me — wrong.

Where exactly is the love in that?

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Filed under Bangkok, Entertainment, gay, religion, Television

Could This Guy Pass for Straight?

Does it rhyme with bomber, or does it sound like boner?

Oh, never mind. Right now Matt Bomer is facing a far more pressing question. It’s the one posed in the headline of an August 15 analysis piece on the entertainment website Celebuzz!: “Could Matt Bomer Become Hollywood’s First Openly Gay Actor to Play a Straight Romantic Big-Screen Lead?”

The movie in question is the film version of E.L. James’s 2011 bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, and Bomer has been mentioned as one possible candidate to play its main character, Christian Grey. I haven’t read the book, but apparently, this Christian Grey doesn’t exactly live up to his name: He’s quite the colorful heterosexual horndog. Could an actor whose longtime companion is a man do him justice?

According to novelist Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho, Less Than Zero), who has expressed interest in churning out a screenplay, hell, no! Ellis has made all the typical, expected arguments (naturally, via Twitter): Hollywood is still an incredibly homophobic place. Audiences won’t be able to buy what’s happening onscreen — Grey engaging in lots of kinky sex with Anastasia Steele — if they know the actor portraying him sleeps with a man off-screen. Blah, blah blah. “Fifty Shades of Grey demands an actor that is genuinely into women,” Ellis insisted. “Get it?!?”

I can understand where Ellis is coming from. Sort of. TV, as the Celebuzz! article points out, is an entirely different beast than film. Half of the supposedly straight male actors I see on TV these days set off my gaydar as much, if not more, than Bomer or Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay vet who is so thoroughly convincing as man whore Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother — from the entire male cast of Whitney to Justin Bartha, an actor who was finally cast as the gay man he seems to have been born to play in the upcoming fall sitcom The New Normal. (Sorry, folks, I’m just calling them like I see them.)

With comedy, audience expectations are different. People don’t necessarily expect to lose themselves in a story. They just want to be entertained for 20 or 40 minutes. It’s easier to put aside what we know about the real lives of actors when we’re watching them on a small screen as opposed to the big one. It’s pretty much the only reason that Charlie Sheen remains employable at this point.

Image matters so much more in film, and it’s the reason actors are far less likely to come out when they work primarily in movies. When Bomer came out in February, he was best known as a the B-list star of the USA Network’s B-list drama White Collar (he also played Blaine’s brother on Glee). If Magic Mike, the Steven Soderberg-directed hit in which Bomer plays one of a group of straight strippers, had come out one year ago and made him a big-screen contender, say, in 2011, I wonder if he would have come out publicly at all.

Yes, despite all the bleeding-heart liberals running around town, Hollywood still can be an extremely homophobic place. But what about the rest of the world, particularly the main demo that the producers of movies with male romantic leads cater to: Women 18-49? Despite the rampant homophobia that blemishes the world outside of Hollywood, in some ways, women of that certain age comprise the most open-minded of demos, one that’s often more accepting of gay men than gay men are of each other and themselves. They were instrumental to the success of the book Fifty Shades of Grey and would no doubt be a huge part of the movie’s target audience.

I think casting agents, producers, directors and Ellis himself need to remember what women — straight women — really want. When they flock to the Twilight films and swoon over Robert Pattinson, they are not so much enthralled by the actor (if they were, they’d flock to his other movies, too) as they are by Edward, the character he represents. If they were overly concerned with whom he was sleeping with in real life, back when it was his onscreen Bella (Kristen Stewart), they wouldn’t have turned the Twilight series into one of the biggest franchises ever.

Chances are that Pattinson and Stewart’s stormy real-life uncoupling won’t disrupt the ability of the female moviegoers who make up a considerable chunk of the Twilight audience to still see the love in Edward’s eyes when he looks at Bella onscreen when the next Twilight film, Breaking Dawn Part 2, is released on November 16. What makes us think they wouldn’t extend that same suspension of disbelief if Edward were played by an openly gay actor — or for a new film series that began its life as Twilight fan fiction (that would be Fifty Shades of Grey, which, incidentally was written by a woman in her late 40s)? Not to cover them with a blanket stereotype, but women want romantic fantasy, and more than perhaps any other group, they are willing to put aside prejudices and preconceptions in order to go there.

I know this from personal experience. I’ve never been butch by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t go out to a gay bar without encountering at least one woman who just has to know, “Are you gay or straight?” They must already know the answer to the question, or else they wouldn’t bother to ask, but they’re still willing to completely pretend that I might be straight for the sake of fantasy. I once went to a straight bar in Buenos Aires with my straight friend Nico, and a group of women who’d never even considered that I might be anything other than straight, made me kiss Nico in order to prove that I wasn’t.

I’m not sure if they would have bought tickets to see me as the romantic lead in a movie after witnessing that kiss, but it’s not like Bomer is driving down Sunset with the top rolled down, making out with his boyfriend. (At least I don’t think he’s doing that.) The real-life sexuality of actors probably matters less to the average moviegoer than it does to Hollywood executives. There will always be some straight people who discriminate against gays, but Hollywood decision makers need to stop hiding behind what they see as nearly all-encompassing homophobia in society and the assumption that when we are watching a film, including the sex scenes, we’re thinking about the sex lives of the actors involved.

But since we’re on the subject of sex lives, how does anyone know who is and isn’t “genuinely into women”? Although there are scenes of the main character having sex with a man in the movie Shame, it’s doubtful that an openly gay actor ever would have been cast in that film, but how do we know for sure that Michael Fassbender is genuinely into women? Or that Channing Tatum or Zac Efron are? Who knows for sure what Batman or the new Spider-Man or the faux Jason Bourne (to name three recent box-office heroes) get up to off-screen?

Christian Bale (maybe) aside, there’s nothing quintessentially “straight” about any of them, not in the way that someone like Sean Penn is. And look at how convincing he was in that scene in Milk where he and James Franco made out in the subway entrance. It probably ranks as the most realistic two-gay-guys-meet-cute scene I’ve ever seen committed to celluloid. A good actor can pull off anything, whether openly gay or openly straight, regardless of whom he actually wants to sleep with. For years, Rock Hudson epitomized the Hollywood romantic lead. It’s what made him legendary, as Barney Stinson would say. But he couldn’t have been less “genuinely into women.” Don’t think for a moment that we don’t have plenty of modern-day Rock Hudsons roaming around Hollywood.

Of course, when an actor’s sexuality becomes public knowledge, it inevitably changes the perception of him if he happens to be gay. But to what extent? And to what extent does it effect ticket sales, especially if he’s at Bomer’s level of fame? There are only a handful of actors and actresses who consistently bring people into theaters. Ryan Gosling is a popular actor and an openly straight one, too, but he’s still not a box-office draw. Neither is Robert Pattinson, also openly straight, outside of the Twilight films. So casting one them in Fifty Shades of Grey wouldn’t necessarily give it more commercial potential than casting Bomer, or any openly gay actor.

All that said, I’ll be honest: Even before he came out, Bomer set off my gaydar. But the slight nuances that make my gaydar ring would probably be imperceptible to the general population. In fact, in this era of metrosexual straight men and gay men with big muscles and bigger tattoos (once oh-so-straight, body art now adorns so many, too many, gay guys, including me!), desperately trying to pass for “straight acting,” who doesn’t set off my gaydar? Unless you’re a drag queen or over-the-top camp, the line between, as Ellis put it, who “comes off totally gay” and who doesn’t is so blurred that it’s practically meaningless.

If Bomer had a decent screenplay and an Anastasia Steele who is capable of generating more heterosexual heat than Katherine Heigl, the movie would be fine. And it’s not like Bomer is Tom Cruise. One can’t assume that the average moviegoer knows anything about him, including that he’s gay, unless they frequent websites like Celebuzz!.

As long as his acting holds up, and he can kiss a girl more convincingly than your average gay guy (that would include me), there’s no reason why moviegoers can’t turn off their gaydar, suspend their disbelief for 90 minutes or so and just enjoy the show.

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Filed under Buenos Aires, Entertainment, gay, Movies, Television

Tales from Outside the Closet: Maybe You’re Not Gay, Just Crazy!

As coming out stories go, I thought I’d heard them all.

One guy, an ex-friend with benefits in Buenos Aires, told me that his parents kicked him out of the house after they found out he was gay, warning him never to return until he changed his evil ways. He didn’t, but they eventually took him back anyway. Another ex, also Argentine, got into a boxing match with his homophobic dad after his dad found out he was gay. Although I generally don’t condone slugging one’s parents, as he told me his coming out story, I found myself cheering on the kid. Hit him again!

A couple of years ago, a Bolivian friend told me that the night after he came out to his parents, he found an open Bible sitting on the table by his bed, as if the holy word would ward off evil spirits and homosexual urges. As I listened to his story, I found myself thanking God that my own religious mother never once brought Him into it when I came out to her all those years ago.

At least three guys I know, all American, came out without fanfare — I presume — because their mothers are lesbians. Another’s mom, not gay, just remarkably accepting and open-minded, promptly proceeded to try to hook him up with eligible bachelors, including me.

But the coming out story I was told last night by a guy of Indian heritage who was trying to convince our mutual friend, also Indian, to come out already takes the prize for sheer crazy, which is actually what his parents accused him of being. When he told them that he’s gay, there was no screaming, no punches thrown, no strategically placed Bibles — just genuine concern for his health, his mental health.

They sent him to a psychiatrist to get to the bottom of what they apparently perceived as a dangerous mental malady. After several sessions with the shrink, a professional diagnosis was delivered: Their son wasn’t insane; he was just gay. Recommended treatment: Deal with it.

And they did. That’s all it took. Once the doctor confirmed that there was nothing wrong with their son, and nothing could be done to change who he is, the parents accepted him, tricks and all. Yes, tricks. These days, they’re so comfortable with his sexuality that they don’t mind when he brings random hook ups home.

“Guess who’s coming to dinner?”


“Um, wait a second….” (Turns to guy) “What’s your name again?”

Now that’s crazy.

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