Nov 23, 2013

Walk, Don't Run: Cary Grant's Last Gay Pickup

Walk, Don't Run (1966) is set during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where there is a severe shortage of hotel rooms.  Important businessman Sir William Rutland (bisexual actor Cary Grant) arrives with nothing available, so he answers a "roommate wanted" ad.  The only problem: the apartment is owned by a woman, Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar).

He assures her that he has no amorous intentions -- he has a wife back in England -- but then he spends the next day bragging about the "beautiful woman" he's living with, hoping that someone gets the wrong idea.

Having demonstrated that he is heterosexual, sort of, Rutland goes cruising.  He spies American architect and Olympic competitor Steve Davis (Jim Hutton), and rather obviously tries to pick him up.  After some seductive conversations, he drags Steve into a bathhouse, apparently hoping for a glimpse of his goods.  The American complains about women scrubbing his body -- women, gross!  -- before jumping nude into the bath.

Thus softened up, Steve agrees to share Rutland's room.  Christine is not happy with the idea of two men living in her apartment, but they assure her that they have no amorous intentions -- toward her, anyway.

Then, Rutland begins matchmaking, cleverly deflecting his attraction to Steve onto Christine.  At first Steve will have none of it -- he's not interested in women, thank you very much -- he prefers his hot boyfriend, Russian athlete Yuri Andreyovitch (Ted Hartley).

But a visa malfunction requires Christine to marry right away, so Steve acts the Good Samaritan.  And the marriage sticks.

His job done, Rutland heads home.  Just in case you thought he might really be gay, the cab driver suggests that he take a fertility god with him -- he and his wife have four children, but there's always room for more!

You'll find fewer obvious examples of overt same-sex desire deflected onto the feminine.  Aside from a few obligatory "My wife back home" statements, Cary Grant plays Rutland as gay.  And except for his deus-ex-machina falling in love, Jim Hutton does likewise.

This was Cary Grant's last movie role, though he continued to perform on stage (seen her in the 1930s with long-term partner Randolph Scott).  He remained active in the Hollywood community until his death in 1986.

Born in 1938, Jim Hutton had a "golly-gee" openness that was good for light romantic comedies, and he made a dozen of them in the 1960s: Where the Boys Are, Bachelor in Paradise, You're Only Young Once, Looking for Love, Sunday in New York, Who's Minding the Mint?  He died in 1979.

His son, Timothy Hutton (born 1960), was a Brat Pack hanger-on who played in a number of memorable buddy-bonding dramas, such as Taps (1981) and The Falcon and the Snowman (1986).

Fall 1976: Catching Cousin Joe in the Act

When I was in junior high, I caught my friend Brian trying to erase graffiti from the wall of Washington Junior High, "Brian gives free LBJs."  He wouldn't say what it meant, and I had no idea.  It endured season after season, year after year, ghostly pale but still legible, stubbornly resistant to the generations of custodians who attempted to erase it.  It was the biggest riddle of my childhood.

I learned that the term "BJ" referred to a sexual act, but I didn't make the connection, until a cold Friday at Christmastime in 1976, my junior year at Rocky High, shortly after I discovered what "gay" meant.

Aunt Nora was visiting for the holidays, with two whole carloads of relatives.  Cousin Joe, a 22-year old college senior, was staying in the attic room with Ken and me, and his girlfriend Sandy was staying downstairs with my sister.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, everyone was out shopping or ice skating, but I didn't feel well and stayed in to read.  Joe and Sandy came in, said hello, then vanished somewhere into the house -- I assumed they went down to the basement rec room to play pingpong.

They weren't playing pingpong.

Soon I got a throbbing headache, so I took an aspirin and decided to go upstairs to bed.

The door at the bottom of the attic stairs didn’t lock, but the clatter of shoes on the bare wood was usually an adequate early-warning signal, giving you plenty of time to stop watching late-night tv, reading comics, or whatever else you didn’t care to have witnessed -- but today I was wearing only socks, and the throb in my head made me go slowly, one step at a time. So they didn’t hear me.

When I reached the top of the stairs, I saw Joe lying on the floor on his side of the room, and Sandy kneeling over him.  My first thought was that he had fainted. Then I saw a thick, heavy shaft the color of putty.  Joe's penis!

I had seen it several times before -- while changing clothes to go swimming, once while skinny-dipping.  I walked in on him in the bathroom when I was five.  It was always breathtaking.

Suddenly Joe saw me, pushed Sandy away, and quickly zipped up. “Um...we were....we were just..."   He was blushing red.

"I don't care, I'm sick."  I walked the five steps to the bed I was sharing with Ken, fell down face-first, and covered my head with a pillow.  "It's no big deal. You’re not the first person in this room to give a bj.”

They were both silent. I peered out from under the pillow to see them staring open-mouthed.

“What’s your problem?”

“You. . .give bjs?” Sandy asked.

“Of course I  give them!” I said angrily. “You think I’m a virgin? I’ve given them lots of times.”

Joe laughed. “Gee, you're dumb! Boys don’t give bjs, they get them.”

“No, I give them. . .boys give them.” My head was still throbbing, making it hard to concentrate.   "Why do you think it's called giving a bj?  Because...."

"The girl gives it to the boy, Boomer."

“Well. . .to be fair, it doesn’t have to be a girl,” Sandy said. “Sometimes guys do give bjs.  At least they're sort of like guys."  She flashed a loose wrist.

My face burned as I realized what she was implying.

"Be nice!" Joe commanded.  He patting my shoulder.  "Boomer just got mixed up.  Don't tell Mom about seeing know...ok?"

"Don't worry, your secret is safe with me."

"And your secret is safe with us!" Sandy managed to say before Joe grabbed her and dragged her down the stairs.

I lay in bed, mortified.  But now I understood -- LBJ, BJ with an "L" added.  Long ago some bullies had accused Brian of being gay. No wonder he worked so furiously to scrub the graffiti off!

It turns out that I was wrong.  Five years later, in the spring of 1981, I would discover that the phrase LBJ had nothing to do with sex.  But it did have quite a lot to do with being gay:  What the Graffiti Meant.

The headache was the precursor of a flu that would keep me incapacitated from the day after Christmas through New Year, and result in the discovery of a gay comic book.

I caught Cousin Joe in the act again a few years later, but this time he wasn't with a girl.

Joel Goncalves: Gay Slurs, Gay-Positive Lyrics

The route to teen idol fame has always been a combination of talent, charisma, and looks, and today's teen idol hopefuls don't have to wait around for a record contract or a Tiger Beat photo shoot -- they just use social media.

Season 3 (2012) of Australia's X-Factor, an amateur musical competition, found 17-year old Joel Goncalves performing.  He got good reviews with "This Girl is Mine," but later forgot his lyrics and was booted off.

But losing did not deter the Brisbane boy.  He has his own youtube channel, where he uploads covers of "Locked Out of Heaven" (Bruno Mars), "Kiss Me" (Ed Sheeran), and "I Won't Give Up" (Jason Mraz), as well as his first original song, "Please Don't Go"

The interesting thing about his covers: they lack the heterosexist "Girl! Girl! Girl!" of most teen idol songs.

"Kiss Me":
Settle down with me, cover me up, cuddle me in
Lie down with me and hold me in your arms

"I Won't Give Up:
I won't give up on us, even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up, still looking up

Remembering that he needs looks as well as talent, Joel has been uploading pix of his massive chest and six-pack abs.  And a close-up of his shorts, for some reason.

So is he gay in real life?

Nope, homophobic.  On his twitter account, he uses "gay" as a slur.  The "all my fans" lyrics are just a happy accident.

Nov 22, 2013

Jayson Blair's Hard Times

29-year old Jayson Blair has been in so many gay-subtext and gay-positive projects that you'd be surprised to discover that he's heterosexual in real life.

1. Chris, a gay singer and dancer on Glee (2009). 

2. The lesbian comedy Public Relations (2010).

3. The Hard Times of RJ Berger (2010-11), about a well-endowed high schooler.  Jayson played the homophobic Max, who turned out to be gay (but not well-endowed).

4. Detention of the Dead (2012). His jock Brad buddy-bonds with Jimmy (Max Adler) in the boys' restroom after the whole school turns into zombies.  He jokes that "they both go gay."

5. The New Normal (2012-13).  Jayson plays Clay Clemmons, the dimwitted estranged husband of the surrogate mother to the gay couple.

6. The marriage-equality movie In Sickness and in Health (2014).  Jayson plays half of a gay couple.

But the gay ally is indeed heterosexual.  He was romantically involved with Rumer Willis, the daughter of Hollywood legend Bruce Willis.

Nov 20, 2013

Disney's Liv and Maddie: Twin Sisters and Gay Brother Compete for a Guy

The Disney Channel's Liv and Maddie (2013-) is retread of the usual teencom about an average teen who makes it big as a singer, actor, or fashionista: here teen actress Liv Rooney (Dove Cameron) has just been booted from Hollywood after her tv series Sing It Loud! ends.  She returns to small-town Wisconsin, to her parents, two brothers, and twin sister Maddie (Dove Cameron in a double role).

Like Disney's earlier twin stars Zack and Cody, Liv and Maddie have opposing personalities and interests.  Most episodes involve the two competing for something, or one pretending to be the other: Liv pretends to be Maddie to score a date with a hot guy; Maddie pretends to be Liv to get a place on the basketball team.

Since the two girls are each other's bffs, there don't seem to be a lot of lesbian subtexts, but there is other gay potential.

Older brother Joey (Joey Bragg) acts like a feminine gay stereotype, and apparently gets crushes on guys like Diggie (below). (Here Sam Levine seems to have a crush on him.)  Dad worries that his lack of interest in sports signifies that he's "weak," code for gay.  The actor tweets: "I am not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that0, but Adam DeVine is really goodlooking."

Ryan McCartan (top photo and left), who plays Diggie, the siblings' main boy-crush, is an 18-year old graduate of Minnetonka High School in Minnesota with only a couple of previous screen credits.  But he starred in the gay-positive stage version of the homophobic 1988 comedy Heathers (he's on the far left, not one of the guys kissing).

Nov 19, 2013

Searching for a Gay Comic

At Christmastime in my junior year in high school, shortly after I caught Cousin Joe in the act, I caught the flu.  I lay in bed for a week, missing the District Jump Quiz Tournament, unable to concentrate on books or comic books, unwilling to make the arduous trek across the room to turn on the portable tv atop the dresser, I mostly listened to KSTT on my clock radio. Boston sang "More Than a Feeling" about a thousand times; their only competition seemed to be "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing," by Leo Sayer.  I know what he made me feel like doing.

Once I heard a song called “Walk on the Wild Side,” about a man’s  descent from Acting like a Girl to Fairy to Swish: “he shaved his legs and then he was a she.” But I was puzzled by the line in which the Swish “goes to see Apollo" (I had never heard of the Apollo Theater in Harlem).  What did the Greek god, the epitome of muscular manliness, have to do with a sinister, soul-destroying walk on the wild side?

On December 29th, I was feeling a little better, so I asked Darry to bring Robert Graves' massive two-volume Greek Myths, and read up on Apollo.  In one story, he and his friend Hyacinth were playing with a discus.  The wind Zephyr became so jealous of their love that he blew the discus off course, and it hit Hyacinth in the head, killing him. The distraught god created a flower from the bloodstained grass, the hyacinth, with petals that spell out ai, alas!

“Zephr was jealous of their love,” I read. “How can you be jealous of a guy? You can have hundreds of buddies. You’re only jealous of girls.”

“Maybe Apollo and Hyacinth were girls, sort of,” Darry said. “You know. . . .” he flashed a loose wrist.

“Don’t be ridiculous! They couldn’t be gay.  There weren't any swishes in ancient times, and besides, they were like, built!”  Everybody knew that gays were thin, wispy things who hated muscles.

“How do you know how built they were? There aren’t any pictures in the book.”

Slightly embarrassed, I told him about the comic book that my boyfriend Bill gave me long ago, with Casper the Friendly Ghost making a mystical ascent to the Island in the Sky. Darry wanted to see it, so I asked him to find my box of old Casper comics in the closet. The Island in the Sky comic was missing!

Thinking it was misfiled, we sorted through my boxes of Disney, Tarzan, Archie, and superhero comics. Nothing. We even crawled into the attic  crawlspace to look through a box labeled “Boomer," leftover from our move two years ago.  It contained old toys, puzzles, coloring books, cartoon kits, Viewmaster slides, birthday party photos. No comic books.

Exhausted by the effort, I clomped back to bed and collapsed. Darry pulled the covers over me and went downstairs to fetch some orange juice. When he returned, he said, “Don’t get all obsessed. Your fever-addled brain probably invented it. A bad acid trip about Casper the Friendly Ghost, imagine that!”

“No, I’ve read the comic book – lot of times.” I remembered every detail. I remembered when I first read it -- a hot summer night, my boyfriend Bill asleep beside me, breathing softly, and Casper flying to the Elysian Fields to meet Greek gods.

 It was an essential part of my childhood, like Chekhov and Sulu smiling at each other or Robbie Douglas singing about boys holding hands.

“So, tell me all about the story you dreamed up. . .I mean, that you read in that mysterious vanishing comic book.  Casper goes to an island in the sky."

“And he meets Apollo, Pan, Bacchus, and some others. All men, no women. Muscular physiques. They live together. It was like heaven.”

Darry laughed. “Sounds like the Hawaiian Lounge to me! Nothing but fruits, on double dates with each other!  Except for the muscles, of course.”

“Waste your time doing something else!” I exclaimed, scandalized. “Nobody was gay! It was a kid’s comic!”

When Darry left, I huddled beside the space heater, trembling.  First the secret message "Brian gives free LBJs," and now the Island in the Sky.  Why did all of my most cherished childhood memories involve swishes?

It would take me another year to figure out why..

Here's what the graffiti really meant.

One Direction: Gay Rumors, Heterosexist Lyrics

When I heard the name "One Direction," I immediately assumed that it was a fundamentalist Christian boy band, deriving their name from the popular fundy "One Way" slogan.  But apparently they weren't aware of the fundy slogan and just thought it sounded cool.

They consist of:
1. Niall Horan
2. Liam Payne (left)
3. Zayin Malik (below)
4. Harry Styles
5. Louis Tomlinson

They finished third on The X Factor in 2011, but still got a recording contract, and released their debut album, Up All Night, in September 2011.  Two other studio albums followed, plus lots of tours and screaming teenage fans.

Their lyrics are explicitly heterosexist, with "Girl! Girl! Girl!' every other word.

I wanna stay up all night, and find a girl and tell her she's the one
Girl, I see it in your eyes, you're disappointed
Girl, what would you do, would you wanna stay...

Boy bands and their managers typically assume that no gay boys exist, so their fans are all teenage girls. One Direction's gay fans often feel alienated and alone.

The band's frequent butt and crotch grabs, kissing, and hugging in underwear in bed  grabbing each other's butts and crotches, kissing, lying about in bed together, leading to rumors that they're gay.  When fans make such a horrible accusation, the fan boards go wild with "defenses": "Why you got to hate?"; "They're normal, get a life!".

Harry Styles has been linked romantically to gay dj Nick Grimshaw, but he stated, "I'm not bisexual" (or gay, either, presumably).  Nick, meanwhile "defended" him gainst the "accusation" by saying that their relationship is "perfectly normal."

News flash, Nick.  Being gay was removed from the psychiatric Bible, the DSM, in 1973.  Gay people should really be aware of that.  Maybe he's using the ICD-10 instead.  Being gay wasn't removed from that until 1992.

Niall Horan is not homophobic.  On November 16, he was spotted at the G-A-Y Club in London, listening to his former girlfriend Ellie Goulding perform.

Nov 18, 2013

Dan and I Fight Evil-Lution

When I was in eighth grade at Washington Junior High, my boyfriend Dan and I registered for “The Rocks in Your Backyard,” an introduction to earth science.. We loved learning about the shallows and shoals of the Mississippi, the Devonian upheaval of the bluffs, the quarry in Carbon Cliff where, a few years ago, two boys were chased by a eight-foot tall Sasquatch with reddish-brown hair all over its body.

But then the teacher started claiming that this or that rock formation was millions of years old, when God’s Word said that the world itself was only about six thousand years old.  Maybe the  skeletons dug up in Mongolia were remains of dinosaurs drowned in Noah’s flood, or maybe they were forgeries that Satan created to tempt us. Either way, Evil-lution was a slap in the face of God. (I had gotten considerably more fundamentalist since I was eight years old, and happily played with a Cave Man Toy Set).

When we discovered that a whole week of Rocks class was to be devoted to an attempt to brainwash us into believing Evil-lution, we decided to hold a protest march. Darry joined in – he was a liberal Lutheran, but he loved any opportunity to make a scene.

We also recruited two Pentecostal boys, two Nazarene girls, and Micah, from the Bible Missionary Church, which broke away from the Nazarenes because we were too liberal (see: Holding Hands with a Bible Boy).

On the day of the protest, we brought signs reading “No Evil-Lution” and “Believe God, not Satan!” and sequestered them behind a floor-to-ceiling poster in the Art Room (the same room we would use for streaking later).  Then we went to our classes as usual.  Just before the Rocks class, we retrieved the signs, waited until the bell rang, and marched up and down the hallways, chanting “No Evil-Lution!” and singing a song from summer camp:

I’m no kin to the monkey,
And the monkey’s no kin to me.
I don’t know about your ancestors,
But mine didn’t swing from a tree.

It worked: dozens of students left their classrooms to support us, or to skip boring lectures, and by the time the principal and guidance counselor ducked their heads out of their offices, the halls were thundering with stamping feet and clapping hands and “No Evil-Lution! No Evil-Lution! No Evil-Lution!” in the brash mid-day sun.

Most of the protesters scattered at the first sign of authority figures, and the rest got off with detention, but as the “agitators of student unrest,” Dan and I had to listen to the principal lecture on “respecting authority” and the guidance counselor ask if there were any problems at home. We were suspended for three days, and I was grounded for a month:

1. No hanging out with Dan except at school.
2. No working on my heroic fantasy novel with Darry.
2. No science fiction novels or tv.

Somehow science fiction and protest had become interrelated in my parents’ minds: the urge to “stir things up” was caused by my exploration of worlds beyond our own.

It didn't work.  I still saw Dan and Darry, by telling my parents that I was visiting some other friend.
Dan and I decided to run away to Saudi Arabia.  And I would be doing even more disobedience in about two months by streaking through the school assembly.

Ryan Ochoa and the Gay Boyz You Like

Ryan Ochoa became a Disney kid after The Perfect Game (2009), about a down-and-out Mexican Little League team.  He became friends with Jake T. Austin and Moises Arias, and parlayed his way onto the Disney and Nickelodeon teencoms Zeke and Luther, ICarly (2008-2010), A Pair of Kings (2010-2012), and Mr. Young (2012-2013), usually playing bratty nemeses.

But the 17-year old has developed a respectable physique, getting him a place on my list of 12 Unexpected Disney Channel Teen Hunks.

He's also busy in a boy band with his brothers:  the Ochoa Boyz, aka Boyz You Like (not the Ochoa Brothers, which is the name of a Colombian drug cartel).

The Ochoa Boyz consist of::

1. Ryan, born in 1996.
2. Robert (left), born in 1998, also a Disney kid, appearing on Hannah Montana, Pair of Kings, and Wendell and Vinnie. 

3. Raymond, born in 2001, a big child star, with appearances on 10 Items or Less, A Christmas Carol, House under Siege, Hank, Special Agent Oso, Ice Age, and Monster University. 

4. Rick, the oldest.   I don't know how old, but he's in college.

Here they ask fans to guess who belongs to the abs.  Give up?
It's Ryan.

Their lyrics are mixed.  Some heterosexist:

Strutting her stuff, she looks fine, dudes try to look tough

Some not:
Let's go outside, run through the streets, and enjoy the night.
Jump on the cars, go ahead and reach for the stars
This isn't a dream, join the team, feel free to scream

I don't know if any of them are gay -- no  gay content on their tweets or instagrams -- but I'd guess Ryan, because he has such an androgynous look -- he's a little heavy-handed with applying the makeup -- and because he's been linked with several gay-positive alpha boyz, including Jake T. Austin, Gig Morton, and Dylan Sprayberry (left).

Nov 17, 2013

The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS on November 17, 1978, during my freshman year at Augustana college.   I didn't see it; I usually wasn't home on Friday nights.

Actually, I don't think anyone has seen it all the way through.  After about ten minutes, you could hear tv sets being switched to another channel all across America.     It was universally panned by critics and universally reviled by viewers -- especially Star Wars fans.

It was never rerun, never appeared on VHS or DVD.  But some collectors had bootleg copies recorded directly from the tv broadcasts by diehard fans who thought they were going to get something good.

Curious about what the worst 2-hours of tv would look like, I bought a copy

Curiosity is a bad thing.

Most of the Star Wars characters -- Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader -- appear in clips from the movie, redubbed to make it look like they're talking about something called "Life Day."

The main story takes place in Chewbacca's house on his home world.  The first fifteen minutes involve his wife Malla  trying to get their son ("Lumpy") to take out the garbage.  Wookies talk only in annoying whines, so it's 15 minutes of mother and son whining at each other.

Then Luke Skywalker calls to say "hello" (apparently they're close friends).  An amazingly feminine Mark Hamill with Farrah Fawcett hair and his face made up like a lower-class prostitute.  Did he forget to take his make up and wig off after performing in a bad drag show?

Then there's fifteen minutes of Malla and Lumpy whining at each other to do the dishes.

Malla cooks dinner, following the directions of a six-armed Harvey Korman in drag.

From The Carol Burnett Show and Blazing Saddles to this?

Then there's a lengthy sketch in a trading post, where shop owner Art Carney tries to sell trinkets to a Storm Trooper.  Very slowly.  Very boring trinkets.  "Here's a miniature aquarium."  "I hate fish."

From The Honeymooners to this?

Then Grandpa Itchy (yes, that's his name), who is apparently senile, opens his Life Day present -- a porn video starring Diahann Carroll, who gyrates seductively and invites Itchy to "experience her," while he grins idiotically, his grotesque gap-teeth throbbing as if he's....come on, kids are watching!

The DVD committed suicide during Itchy's self-gratification on the living room couch.  Thank goodness.   I didn't have the stomach to watch the next 75 minutes.

Hundreds of people contributed to this mess, including some of the greatest actors in Hollywood.

What were they thinking?

Bobby Edner: Gay-Positive Child Star Grows Up and Bulks Up

In the short film The Seventh Sense (2001), a boy named Kyle (Bobby Edner) develops the mystical ability to see gay people.  The only problem is, they don't know they're gay.  With the help of benevolent psychiatrist, he puts his ability to good use, helping people to see themselves as they really are.

12-year old Bobby Edner was one of the most popular child stars of the 1990s, playing everything from the young Zack on Saved by the Bell to the "Can I touch your boobs" kid on Ellen, not to mention innumerable victims of child abuse, stranger danger, and incurable diseases.

He was most famous for The Day the World Ended (2001), about a boy who believes that his father was taken over by an alien and killed his mother.  No one believes him, but it turns out he was right.

And Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), as Francis, one of the testers of a real-life video game (along with Ryan Pinkston and Robert Vito).

Since he entered puberty, Bobby has had only a few screen roles, notably in Welcome to the Paradise (2007), as the son of a  female preacher (gasp!).  He is now a singer and a songwriter, formerly a member of the gay-positive boy band After Romeo.

He's also bulked up considerably, and apparently he's a gay ally.