Tag Archives: gay marriage

Is This the Smiling Face of Passive Homophobia?

“To each his own. I’m not with it. I have relatives that are gay. I’m not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love them. But, again, I’m not with that. That’s not something I believe in. But to each his own.”

So said Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson during a May 23 Sirius XM NFL Radio interview, making what must be some of the most contradictory, muddled comments I’ve seen on the subject on gay marriage.

First of all, I think he meant to say he’s not biased against gay people (though he clearly is — more on that in a second), but I’m not here to correct Peterson’s grammar. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

I don’t want to take a giant leap and say that to be anti-gay marriage is to be homophobic, too, though I do suspect there is a strong correlation. Homophobia, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.” To seek to deny marital rights based on sexuality is the epitome of discriminatory, in this case, against homosexuals. Draw your own conclusions.

It’s not Peterson’s lack of support for gay marriage but the way in which he expressed it that troubles me most. He’s not biased against gay people (in his intended words), yet he clearly has issues with them. It wasn’t enough for him to say he’s “not with it [gay marriage].” He had to reiterate, “I’m not with that,” adding, for extra discriminatory emphasis, “it’s not something I believe in.”

So why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Peterson? Except he left out one important piece of information: Why is he against gay marriage? The implication is that he just is. It is what it is, right? Gay marriage is just wrong. No explanation necessary. Unspoken like a true homophobe.

Not only is what Peterson did say incredibly biased, but it was pretty dismissive, too. He couldn’t be bothered to present a compelling argument. He’s just not with that. If he was trying to make himself seem like less of a jerk by not saying too much on the subject, he failed. I’d still give him an A for asinine.

As for his kicker, “to each his own” is a cliche whose very non-committal ambiguity makes such a crystal-clear statement (while underscoring a dismissive attitude). He wants us to think he’s a swell, accepting guy, but “to each his own” reeks of disapproval. It’s tantamount to saying, “I don’t get it, but I’m willing to tolerate it.” I’m so tired of straight people who treat homosexuality as something to be tolerated. That indirectly implies that it’s bad, since you generally “tolerate” something that’s negative, an annoyance.

I don’t want anyone’s tolerance. There’s nothing wrong with me, so I don’t need to be tolerated. I do demand acceptance, though. Either you accept me, or you’re against me. And you’re against me if you feel the need to qualify your acceptance: I love you, but I don’t truly respect your relationships. Well, no thank you.

When I was younger, I remember hearing certain white people taking the same approach to mixed-race marriage. “I don’t believe in interracial marriage,” they’d announce, before trying to protect themselves from accusations of bigotry by insisting, “Some of my best friends are black.” It sounded as racist to me as the whites of the ’50s must have sounded when they rallied against desegregation while, as Peterson did, declaring their love for the very thing they were trying to keep separate.

It might be shocking to some to find out that being against interracial couplings was at one point a perfectly acceptable point of view where I come from (and for all I know, might still be). I wonder if Peterson, who once compared the NFL to slavery, sees the irony here or the parallels between the antiquated black and white point of view that I grew up hearing and his own ideas about gays and gay marriage.

Of course, he doesn’t. He’s just not with that. Clearly his thoughts don’t go that deep.

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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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Should Exes Live Together?: The Dangers of the “Relationship Visa”

On my master list of things that I just won’t accept in a potential new boyfriend, for a long time, chief among the no-nos has been these: You can’t live with mom and dad (a prerequisite that I temporarily suspended while I lived in Buenos Aires, where no one seems to leave home before the age of 35), and by God, you can’t live with your ex.

Maybe my hard line stance has something to do with the fact that I’ve never ever lived with a boyfriend, which is as much a symptom of my loner ways as my fear of rushing into things. As far as I’m concerned, people move way too fast in modern relationships — like my last ex, whom I recently learned moved in with his last ex and five other people (in separate bedrooms, he was sure to tell me), though they couldn’t have been a serious couple for more than several months! But if my last ex can proudly announce to me one month after breaking up with his last ex that he moved out ages ago, why can’t all exes cut the cohabitation ties just as quickly?

I already went there once before with a guy I dated for a year and a half in the mid ’90s. For the first few months that we were together, he was living with an ex in Harlem. Surprisingly (to me now, though not at the time), I didn’t really have a problem with it. I didn’t think he and I were going anywhere yet, and it never crossed my mind that he might be getting a little on the side on the nights when he slept at home. I wasn’t sure if they had their own rooms — or beds — and that never crossed my mind either. In fact, the ex and I became pretty friendly with each other (on neutral turf, since I never visited their shared apartment) and remained that way long after the ex (my ex) had exited the picture (our picture).

My problem with the scenario ended up being that I constantly had to listen to all the stories, about how inconsiderate the ex was, about how the ex was too needy, about how the ex was always borrowing money, about how the ex once cheated on him and punched him in the face when he confronted him. The ex this, the ex that! Thankfully, before I had a chance to file a complaint, my now-ex but then-BF moved downtown to the East Village into an apartment a few blocks away from mine, with a cranky girlfriend whom I eventually grew to despise. I liked it better when he was living with the ex!

Last night I had the strangest feeling of deja vu, sitting across the pub booth from this really cool guy, an expat from Monterrey, Mexico, now living in Melbourne with — you guessed it — his ex. They’d been a couple for two years until December, when they took a trip from Melbourne to Monterrey to meet the friends and the parents of my date. Within the first week, after a minor disagreement that escalated into something grander scale because it was actually over two years of pent-up frustrations, they broke up. The holiday continued as planned, and after they returned to Melbourne, so did their living arrangement.

As I listened to his story I was incredulous. Did he really still introduce his now-ex to his parents after they’d split up? How did he manage to sit with his now-ex on the 20-whatever-hour flight back to Australia — and on his 30th birthday no less — without committing murder in the coach cabin? Did they really still sleep in the same bed?

I flashbacked to boyfriend No. 2. Then to the Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn movie The Break-Up. Then to the most recent episode of Happily Divorced, the new Fran Drescher sitcom on TV Land about a woman whose husband of 18 years comes out as gay, and they are forced to continue living together for financial reasons. I always thought I enjoyed that show a lot more than I should, considering how unrealistic it is, or so I thought.

Boy was I wrong. Sitting across from me was living proof. And Fran and Peter (played by John Michael Higgins, perfecting a certain fortysomething brand of gayness) sleep in separate rooms! The guy sitting across from me had better have an even better excuse than Fran and Peter. (Since we’re not on the subject, can someone please give Fran’s latest sidekick, played by Everybody Hates Chris mom, the beautiful and talented Tichina Arnold, her own show and a recording contract? Please?)

He did. He’s in Australia on something he called a “relationship visa,” meaning that he and his ex are as good as still-legally married (without the actually “married” title since gay marriage remains illegal in Australia). And if they don’t at least appear to be a couple (which means living together), he’ll have to return to Mexico, plus they could possibly face legal action. If my date wants to continue calling Australia home, they’re stuck together — in the same house and, for now, in the same bed, too, at least until they find a bigger place, a search now in progress.

I didn’t ask him what’s wrong with the couch. I was too busy thanking my lucky stars that my crusade to live and work in Australia never reached such a fever pitch that I even considered entering into such an unholy union. Then I thanked my lucky stars again: If a reluctant romantic like me ever had a perfect excuse to “keep it light,” this was it. What happened between my date and his ex (or “husband” or “partner” or “flatmate” — he’s still not sure how to refer to him, since they remain legally bound) in that apartment was between them.

If last night was any indication, though, I’d be certain to keep hearing about it if we continue to hang out, which I think I might be able live with. As long as I get to go on living alone, and they don’t expect me to come over for dinner.

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10 Random Thoughts I Had While Watching “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” on DVD

1. I love how in a UK film, Judi Dench, 77, can be the love interest of Bill Nighy, 62, and the age difference is a non-issue in the script. (They play two of seven seniors who travel from the UK to India and experience a late-in-life reawakening.) If Shirley MacLaine, 78, and Jeff Bridges, 62, were costarring in a U.S. film, she’d no doubt have to play his mother!

2. “I’m gay — more in theory than in practice,” Tom Wilkinson’s character (Graham) says to Judi Dench’s (Evelyn) early on. Hmm… I guess there might be something to my brother’s idea that you don’t get the privilege of calling yourself “gay” if you aren’t acting on your homosexual urges.

3. I wouldn’t mind watching an entire movie devoted to Graham and his forbidden love. When will people who go around protesting “in defense of marriage” by quoting the Bible, the First Amendment, and the old-school definition of marriage get a clue — or a life (so they can stop focusing on ours)? If you support denying gay relationships the same legal status as straight ones (and no, separate but equal will not do — we’ve already seen how that turned out in the 1950s Deep South) while claiming not to have a problem with gay relationships in general, you are still sending young gay people the message that their relationships are less valid, inferior, somehow wrong. How is encouraging unhappy gay men to marry unhappy straight women and raise unhappy families preserving the so-called sanctity of marriage?

4. Poor Norman (Ronald Pickup’s character). I totally get his pain, being twice as old as you feel. But the secret to aging gracefully while dating people half your age is A) Never try to make them think that you are, too (half your age, that is), and B) Don’t go to them; let them come to you.

5. I know Judi Dench and Maggie Smith (costarring as Muriel, a retired housekeeper who, in tried-and-true Maggie fashion, still acts like the lady of every manor) have appeared on film and onstage together numerous times. But it still seems like such a waste to cast them both in the same movie and give them only a single one-on-one scene.

6. Celia Imrie (as Madge) looks awesome, even better now that she did back in the ’90s when she was Edina’s PR rival on Absolutely Fabulous. Watching her swinging grandma on the prowl for a single rich male makes me realize how much I miss seeing regular first-run episodes of Ab Fab.

7. They just don’t name kids today like they used to: Douglas, Muriel, Graham, Norman, Madge and Evelyn, pronounced EVE (as in Adam’s significant other)-lyn. How cool is that?

8. I could spend hours looking at close-ups of Sid Makkar, the actor playing Evelyn’s boss and the brother of the girlfriend of Sonny, the hotel’s young co-proprietor (Dev Patel). He looks like an Indian matinée idol, and he can act, too. It’s a wonder why Hollywood isn’t all over him.

9. Where is that big-screen version of The Golden Girls? The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a hit ($45 million domestically, $130 million internationally), so obviously there is an audience for movies starring actors who are thrice the age of those beautiful, f**ked-up Twilight kids. If the upcoming Dustin Hoffman-directed Quartet (starring Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly as retired opera singers) does well, we just might get our big-screen Golden Girls redux yet.

10. Should I start planning my trip to Jaipur, India now?

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As God Is My Witness, I Will Never Eat a Chick-fil-A Sandwich Again!

That’s one promise I intend to keep — not that it’s going to be very hard. It’s been ages since I’ve stepped foot in a mall where there was a Chick-fil-A store to avoid (another benefit of living abroad!), and at least 25 years since I’ve bitten into one of their sandwiches, which I admit, I used to love when I was a kid.

But it will be blustery, blizzardy day in Kissimmee, Florida, before I ever go there again. And I’m thinking of taking a similar hardline stance against Melissa Reeves, the actress who plays Jennifer Rose Horton Devereaux on Days of Our Lives. Yesterday while perusing Daytime Confidential, I was shocked and disappointed when I came across one of her recent tweets, which was reprinted in an article that rightfully scolded her for it. What exactly did she have to say? Read on….

If I wasn’t already seeing all shades of red over Chick-fil-A’s support of questionable anti-GLBT causes, I was certainly seeing every color in that spectrum of the rainbow flag now. Americans have a terrible enough reputation abroad as it is, and it’s stupidity like this that makes me look bad when I rush to the defense of what so many foreigners (particularly Aussies!) see as the land of the free and home of the idiotic.

Note the passive-aggressive way Reeves used exclamation points and a smiley face to trivialize one of the most divisive issues of the day. Also note that she appears on a show that won raves and Daytime Emmys for its recent coming-out storyline. The DC message board was on fire, and surprisingly, not all of the posters on a website dedicated to what must be the gayest TV art form ever were rallying to douse Reeves and Chick-fil-A with buckets of water.

Here is one particularly unbelievable post from someone who goes by the screen name “thebookerman”:

1) Marriage is not a “right” for anyone.

2) Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against gay people. Gay people are allowed to eat and work for the company, and express them freely.

3) Marriage is a term defined as a man and woman sharing their life together. States have every right to decide whether or not that can be CHANGED to include a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.

4) No one is stopping gay people from living together, having a family and being happy. Because of that EVERYONE HAS EQUAL RIGHTS IN AMERICA.

5) Some states just feel that the term marriage does not apply to gay people. I would have liked to be the valedictorian in school, but my grades didn’t qualify me. I was born that way though, so shouldn’t I be able to be valedictorian too? Shouldn’t I be able to be a starting quarterback in the NFL too?

I love how gay people claim others are close-minded, but then refuse to accept any position different than theirs. Anytime anyone disagrees it is followed by death threats, boycotts and more utter nonsense.

I’ve already dedicated quite a bit of blog space to this issue, and at the moment, I have nothing new to add to my existing argument, but I couldn’t just ignore such ignorance. Instead of listing 100 reasons why gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, why Jennifer should be written off Days, and why Chick-fil-A does not deserve your patronage, I will simply repost my response to “thebookerman” here.

thebookerman, Your arguments are weak, and your analogies are sorely lacking. First of all, becoming a valedictorian is not anyone’s birthright. You are not born into it. You work toward it. You weren’t born with grades that didn’t qualify you to be valedictorian. You earned them. But it’s open to everyone. Anyone who is enrolled in high school and graduates is eligible to be valedictorian. You do not automatically become ineligible to be valedictorian because of your sexual preference. That makes it infinitely different from marriage.

So what exactly is your point then?

As for the definition of marriage, I don’t understand how that is even relevant. The institution of marriage was created in an entirely different time in a society different from the one we live in today. If you’re so stuck on tradition and the spirit in which marriage was created, should we go back to wives basically having no rights, being obligated to love, honor and OBEY their husbands? That’s pretty much how it was back then. In that sense, marriage has evolved over time, and it can evolve further. Just because it was created as an institution between men and women does not mean that it can’t evolve and be adapted to suit a changing society. Personally, I have no interest in marriage, but as Eminem said (and I paraphrase), gay people should have the same privilege as straight people to be miserable.

As for whether it should be up to the states to decide, I’m all for states rights, but with so much mobility between states, it makes more sense to have a nationwide edict regarding gay marriage. It was done in Argentina while I was living there, and as far as I know, your precious institution of marriage remains perfectly in tact in Argentina and in all the other countries where it is now legal.

“Living together, having a family and being happy” is a nice way to put what gay people in the U.S. are allowed to do, but that does not grant gay couples the same benefits as legal marriage, and I’m tired of people pretending to be fine with gay people while denying their relationships the same legal protection as those of straight people.

As for those who hide behind the “free speech” argument, it’s time to give that one a rest, too. It’s so obvious, so trite, that it’s actually saying absolutely nothing. Yes, a racist who runs around declaring black people inferior and hurling the N-word is entitled to his or her opinion, but you express them at your own risk. I’m not defending the death threats, but if you have an inalienable right to express your distaste for gay marriage (and anyone who thinks Melissa Reeves was speaking in generalities probably buys Billie as Kate’s daughter on Days), I have an inalienable right to criticize you for it. And a boycott seems like a perfectly reasonable decision.

I’ve always been a fan of Melissa Reeves, but after reading her smug tweet, I would be perfectly fine seeing her off the show permanently. It’s not like that’s not where things are heading, considering her recently dwindling screen time.

I could have gone on and on. I could go on and on. But let me stop by asking this: Why do people invest so much time and energy opposing a cause unless they have major issues with the very people that cause intends to protect? I’m generally not an activist or boycott kind of guy, but if you say no to Chick-fil-A, both your conscious and your arteries will thank you.

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Being Gay Today: It’s More Fashionable Than Ever, But Is It Ready to Wear?

The things you hear when you’re not really listening, or talking about something else entirely. This morning as I was half paying attention to the TV in the background while cleaning, I heard someone make an interesting assertion: He, or she (I can’t remember who was speaking, or on what show, or if I totally imagined it all), said that being gay today is more fashionable than ever.

True or false?

I thought about Edina’s reaction to finding out that her son is gay on an Absolutely Fabulous special from 10 years ago, of the ladies’ search for GBFFs (gay best friends forever) on a 2011 episode of Hot in Cleveland, of Days of Our LivesChandler Massey, whose Daytime Emmy Award win last night made him the second performer to get one for playing a gay character, of sex and the city (the show and the actual thing, in the years since the show).

Is being gay today indeed more fashionable? I hadn’t yet made up my mind a few hours later when someone happened to land on the subject while we were having a conversation about something completely unrelated.

“To be gay is now almost fashionable in Western culture,” he said.

True or false?

This time, I agreed without hesitation. The man had a point. But as fashions go, being gay remains a somewhat underground one. It plays so much better in the big city than out in the country, in the art house more successfully than in the multiplex, on cable TV more comfortably than on network television, and, unfortunately, in the closet — on a plastic hanger, of course — more safely than outside of it. It’s fashionable, yes, but with so many strings attached that it still can be quite an unsightly burden to wear.

There’s no doubt that gays today have it better than we did five, 10 or 20 years ago. But that doesn’t mean things are any more perfect for gay people than the first black President means that racism is now U.S. history. Homophobia is simply a more recessive trait than it used to be, which in some ways makes it more insidious. At least if you call me a “faggot” to my face, I know what I’m up against.

This is one of the reasons why I believe gay marriage is such an important issue. There’s an emerging school of gay thought that frowns upon this particular fight because it encourages young gay men and women to overvalue the wrong things, to mimic a “straight” institution created by straight people. Gay pride’s overemphasis on this political hot topic, some argue, will lead young, impressionable gays and lesbians to think that marriage should be the endgame of one’s existence, and gay people should have loftier goals than heterosexual-style domesticity.

While I shudder at the thought of a generation of potential gay bridezillas, young urban gay professionals who are secretly biding their time until someone puts a ring on it, that’s not a strong enough argument in favor of suspending the ardent pursuit of legal marriage for gays and lesbians. With or without it, there always will be some people, gay and straight, whose primary goal in life is to find a mate and live happily ever after, just as the women’s liberation movement hasn’t cooled the burning desire of a too-large number of women to be married with children. If we’re not going to outlaw marriage among straights to discourage that kind of mindset (which I’m not saying I would oppose), why support denying it to gays — or acting as if it’s okay to do so — to the same end?

I’ve never been a fan of marriage, so my support of gay marriage has nothing to do with any personal desire to fall into holy matrimony. It’s more about making what has become fashionable, more acceptable, too. In the United States, it’s the last thing standing in the way of gays and straights being equal in the eyes of the law. What else are gay activists supposed to focus on?

Regardless of how fashionable the state of being gay has become, and no matter what you see on Hot in Cleveland, there are still plenty of pockets in the United States, particularly in the middle of the country and south of there, where gay people continue to be actively ostracized and discriminated against. Were this not so, there wouldn’t be so many of them cowering in the closet. For many who oppose it, gay marriage has become a platform to promote intolerance (for some compelling evidence, click here), which is why it’s so important to fight tirelessly on the other side.

My point here is not to argue in favor of gay marriage — which I’ve done numerous times before, and frankly, I’m kind of over it — but to argue in favor of continuing to fight for it. Regardless of where you stand on the subject of marriage, denying it to gay people suggests that they are not equal to straight people, or that gay people pose some kind of threat to an antiquated institution that straight people have already spent centuries stomping on.

I have a bigger problem with the sort of homophobic thinking behind the argument against gay marriage than I do with the idea that my next boyfriend and I might not be able to get married and live happily ever after in the state of Florida. You can’t say that you’re okay with people being gay, that you’re accepting of your gay brother or sister or son or daughter while insisting that marriage is a sacred union reserved for men and women only.

That’s like saying black is beautiful — now get to the back of the closet!

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In round one of Eminem Vs. Miley Cyrus, to the rapper go the spoils

Eminem performing at the DJ hero party at June...

Image via Wikipedia

Did anyone actually expect a different outcome? But boy, what a margin!

According to HITS Daily Double, based on first-day sales estimates from retailers around the U.S., Eminem’s seventh studio album, Recovery, is bound for a first-week sales total between 590,000 and 615,000, naturally good enough for a No. 1 debut. Not only would that easily make it the biggest debut of 2010 so far, but it could also outpace the 608K debut-week total that Eminem’s last album, Relapse, sold  in May of 2009.

Meanwhile, Miley’s Cyrus’s sexy new image looks set to result in a first-week sum in the 115K-t0-125K neighborhood for Can’t Be Tamed, which would bring it in at No. 3, behind Drake’s Thank Me Later, the new and current No. 1. That would be some 250K less than Cyrus’s last album, 2008’s Breakout, moved in week one, and still less than the 163,000 it sold in week two. This puts it on par, both in terms of first week sales and drop off from its predecessor, with Christina Aguilera’s Bionic. And if Bionic‘s weak opening-week sum had many — yours truly included — declaring it a flop, what does that make Can’t Be Tamed‘s opening-day performance? Tame, at best.

Of course, miracles happen, and Can’t Be Tamed can rebound, but over the years, the music business has become more like Hollywood, where for major new releases, it’s all about opening weekend. Good word of mouth is necessary to make a hit out of a slow starter, and the reviews for Can’t Be Tamed have been mostly unimpressive. A great second single will be paramount to its longevity and by extension, commercial success.

The morals of this story:

1) If the clock ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Cyrus may have gotten a lot of press mileage out of her new look and sound, but apparently, her core fan base of young girls just aren’t feeling it — or maybe it’s their parents who aren’t. (A friend of mine with two tween daughters recently told me that he’d be very uncomfortable taking his girls to see a Miley Cyrus show now.) There’s nothing inherently bad about wanting to change your image, but for a developing artist of Cyrus’s age, it can be disastrous if it’s done too soon and too quickly. She would have been wiser to stick with what has worked in the past for now and let the image evolve more slowly over time.

As for Eminem, he has managed the rare feat of longevity in rap by staying true to the artist he was in the very beginning. Yes, he’s no longer platinum blond, and he recently came out in support of gay marriage, but he has remained more or less the rapper we first met more than a decade ago — funny, confrontational and cranky. From the beginning, he never followed trends, so now he doesn’t have to keep up with them.

2) Never underestimate the power of a hit single. “Can’t Be Tamed,” Cyrus’s venture into the audio territory of Britney Spears and onto the visual turf of Shakira’s “She Wolf,” debuted nicely at No. 8 a month ago, but it wasn’t so uncontrollable commercially and has dropped as low as No. 24. In comparison, “Not Afraid,” the first Recovery single, debuted at No. 1 and, as of last week’s issue, remained in the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Hot 100 after six weeks. A new Recovery track, “Love the Way You Lie,” — a fantastic and commercially shrewd duet with a still-ticking-and-kicking-butt Rihanna that dovetails nicely with her darker recent work — is now No. 1 on iTunes, according to HITS, boding well for its Hot 100 future.

3) The music industry isn’t dead yet. Yes, sales are limp and one-time superstars are struggling (poor Sarah McLachlan; wonder if Sheryl Crow is worried about the fate of her upcoming disc), but acts like Eminem, Drake, Sade and Lady Antebellum have proven in 2010 that if you build a strong enough core of fans, and deliver what they want, some of them will still pay money for it.

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