Jan 31, 2014

Summer 2000: I Meet the Hottest Guy in the World

I am attracted to the following traits:

1. Clergy.  Preachers, priests, monks, rabbis, imams, seminary students, Mormon missionaries.

2. Dark skinned.  Black, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Hispanic.  Among Europeans, Spanish, Italian, Greek. 

3. Short, small, compact.  Under 5'8" is good, under 5'" better.  (Check my date with the Little Person here.)

4. Muscular, the bigger and harder the better, or else husky, chubby, fat. As long as there's some mass.   

5. Baseball bat.

There are exceptions --my Celebrity Boyfriend had none of the above.  But the guys I date generally have two, usually three::
The Greek Orthodox Priest with the Pushy Mom: 1, 4
Alan, the Ex-Porn Star: 1, 4, 5
Raul in West Hollywood: 2, 3
Joe, my Boyfriend's Roommate: 2, 3, 4

There aren't many guys around with four of the traits, and only once in my life have I met someone with all five.

In the summer of 2000, I wrote a paper on the evangelical Christian response to to gay men with AIDS, and presented it at the 13th International AIDS Conference, held in Durban, South Africa.

There were 12,000 people attending and 5,000 presentations, including an endless number on religious responses to gay men with AIDS.

One of the presenters in my session was Sibusiso, or Sibu for short, a student at the Lutheran seminary in Pretoria.

He was short, very dark, handsome, and a member of the clergy!  I don't remember what his presentation was about, but he mentioned being gay.

After the session I approached him, suggested we collaborate on a paper about gay Christian men with AIDS, and invited him for coffee.

He accepted.

Conference Center, Durban

He was 24 years old, Zulu, raised in an African Pentecostal Church, but converted to the Lutheran Church at age 15.  He came out at age 18, while studying Biblical Languages at the University of Pretoria.

We had such similar backgrounds!  We must be destined to be soul mates!

I reached over and casually touched his arm, and met hard muscle.  Four out of five traits!  Incredible!

That night Sibu and two of his friends went dancing at the Lounge, one of Durham's gay clubs.  I was 39, too old for dance clubs, but I invited myself along anyway.

When he headed for the dark room, I followed. 

Baseball bat.

All five of the traits!

 It was settled: Sibu was, by definition, the Hottest Guy in the World.

The Lounge, Durban
The Lounge was dirty, dank, packed, and too noisy to talk.  And everyone else was under 30, making me feel decidedly out of place.  

And Sibu and his friends kept dancing.  My shirt was soaked with sweat; my hair reeked of cigarette smoke; I was exhausted. I wanted to go home to bed.

But I also wanted to spend the night with the Hottest Guy in the World.

It was 3:00 am when we finally headed back to his hotel.  I tried to put my arm around him in the back seat of the taxi, but he brushed me away.  Closeted, I figured.

He said goodbye to his friends, and we got in the elevator.  "What floor are you?" he asked.

What did he mean by that?  "The same floor as you."

We walked down the hall to his room.  He opened the door.  "Well, goodnight."
 "Aren't you going to invite me in?"  I asked in desperation.

"It's late..."

"Well...can I see you for breakfast tomorrow?"

He frowned.  "Look...I like you, you're a nice guy and all that, but you're not my type."

"Not your type?  But...I starred in a porn film...."

"I like guys my own age.  Sorry."  The door slammed in my face.

Just my luck.  I meet the Hottest Guy in the World, and it's ten years too late.

The full story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: my top 10 turn-offs.

Jan 30, 2014

Nothing Like Before: Homophobia Condemns a Gay Teen

They say "hello" pleasantly as you pass on the street.  They don't cringe when you hold hands on the bus.  They let you join their churches, as long as you don't take on a leadership role.  They will even sell you a cake for your wedding, sometimes.  But when sickness, unemployment, or tragedy strikes, the veneer fades away, and the screaming starts.

In the German tv movie Nichts mehr wie vorher (Nothing is Like Before, 2013), a young boy is molested and murdered, and 16-year old Daniel Grudermann (24-year old Jonas Nay, top left) becomes the prime suspect.

He claims innocence, but he has no alibi.  He can't tell anyone that he was at the lake that night waiting for the boy he has a crush on, Sven (Gerritt Klein, left).

Daniel's mother and lawyer support him, but his father is suspicious, especially when he discovers a link to a gay hookup site on Daniel's laptop.  Gay men are uniquely violent, prone to murder those who reject their advances, right?

When news of Daniel's gayness reaches his classmates and the townsfolk, they call for his lynching.

The media goes crazy with homophobic condemnations.  We were so stupid to pass all of those gay rights ordinances --  to permit them domestic partnerships -- to elect a gay Vice Chancellor!  This what gay people are really like!  

Then someone else confesses to the crime, and Daniel is released.  He goes home.

But he can't go home again.  He can't forget the suspicions and accusations, particularly from his father.  He now knows what's lurking just beneath the smiling "hello" of tolerance.

 This is a gripping, depressing story about the tenaciousness of homophobia.

Jan 29, 2014

Spring 1977: A Gay Teen in My High School Commits Suicide

Looks like Scott
I didn't know Scott very well.  I didn't think of him much at all until afterwards.  I was busy.

It was my junior year in high school (1976-77).  I was crushing on Verne the Preacher's Son and Giovanni the foreign exchange student, going to church five times a week, researching colleges, getting obsessed with Judaism, presiding over Spanish club, working as an athletic trainer, lifting weights, running, playing in the orchestra.

I was really, really busy.

Scott was cute, but not my type: tall, pale, solid but not muscular, and not very impressive below the belt. He had been in my classes off and on since third grade, but we didn't talk much.  That year he was in my French and political science classes, but we didn't talk much.

Mostly I saw him in orchestra. He played the trumpet and the cornet.  I think he wanted to become a musician.

I have only five solid memories of him.

A high school trumpeteer
1. The fall concert in 1976.  Scott stands to play the solo in Bix Beiderbecke's "Davenport Blues."  His fingers press on the valves, his cheeks expand his belt buckle gleams in the spotlight.  It's not erotic.  I just remember because of what happened later.

2. Mr. Manary's political science class takes a field trip to the courthouse to see a real criminal trial going on. I see my first gay person.  I glance around.  Scott is watching carefully, mutely.

3. At the Christmas party, my crush Giovanni, in the midst of kissing a girl, presses me against his chest.  Thinking for a moment that he might kiss me, too, I glance around.  Scott  is watching carefully, mutely.  Does he want to press against Giovanni's chest, too?  And kiss him?  I frown with jealousy.

4. January 1977, running on the indoor track at the gym. Scott appears, his pale face made paler still by his white t-shirt and red shorts.  He asks me, "Wanna race?"  "Sure."

I win easily.  Scott clasps my hand. Not shakes, clasps.  I still remember its warmth.  "You're pretty fast," he says. "Wanna..."  Distracted by Verne, I say "Thanks, see ya" and walk away.

Wanna.... What was he starting to say?  Would things have turned out differently if I had listened?

5. Scott is sitting by himself in the library.  I decide to impress Verne with some personal evangelism -- leading sinners to Christ yourself instead of depending on the altar call.  I use one of the simplest openings in the soulwinning manual: "If you were to die tonight, and God asked 'Why should I let you into my Heaven?', what would you say?"

Scott looks at me, pale, frowning: "I don't believe in Heaven."

Flustered, embarrassed, I make a hasty retreat.

I've been kicking myself ever since.  Why did I use the "If you were to die tonight" script?

I probably saw Scott a few times after that.  Maybe sitting with his band-club friends in the cafeteria.  Or walking through the mall with his two younger brothers.  I don't remember.

About a month later, he vanished.

In those days, the adults didn't think kids could handle tragedy, so when someone died, they just vanished and were never spoken of again.

Through the rumor mill, I discovered that Scott drove onto the Government Bridge that leads onto Arsenal Island, and jumped off.  He was distraught, they told me, because his girlfriend broke up with him.

But they were wrong.I know for a fact that Scott didn't have a girlfriend.

Something else made him sneak out of the house at 3:00 am, drive his parents' car onto the black-steel girdered Government Bridge, and abandon us.

I think I know what that something else was. You do, too.

But in 1977 I wasn't paying attention.  I was really, really busy.

Bhutan: Land of the Penis

Bhutan a tiny, land-locked kingdom in the Himalayas between Tibet and India, hard to get to from the West (there's only one airport, with regular flights to Bangkok, Katmandu, and Delhi).

Buddhist, but not gay-friendly: same-sex activity is illegal, and according to a recent survey, 60% of the population thinks being gay is immoral.

Sounds about as homophobic as the U.S., where same-sex activity was illegal in many states until 2003, and 50% of the people you pass on the street think that you're evil.

Besides, there's a good reason for visiting (other than the scenery and the hunky men).

More public penises than Finland, Iceland,  and Prague put together.

The erect penis is a common artistic motif, painted onto houses for good luck and to keep away evil spirits.

They're combined with dragon or animal motifs, or with all-seeing eyes.  Sometimes their owner is displayed as well, usually a very happy monk.

Penises sculpted in wood fly from rooftops and and dangle from ceilings, sort of like the lucky horseshoes in the U.S.

When you move into a new house, you have to hoist a basketfull of penises to the ceiling and attach them to each of the four walls.

There are penis door handles and flagpoles, and people carry around pocket penises of various sizes and shapes.

This penis imagery is unique to Bhutan.  Scholars trace it to Bon, the Himalayan religion that predates Buddhism, and more directly to the teachings of the "crazy saint" Drukpa Kunley (1455-1529), who was sexually voracious, and apparently a big fan of the penis.

See also: The Penis Cemetery of Iran.

Jan 27, 2014

Robert De Niro's 10 Gayest Movies

In addition to being one of the most accomplished actors of our time, Robert De Niro is a strong gay ally.  One reason why: his father, artist Robert De Niro Sr., came out as gay when he was three years old, and divorced his wife but stayed close to her and his son.  In the documentary Remembering the Artist, the elder De Niro is remembered as a father, an artist, and a gay man.

You could write a book about the films of Robert De Niro (and there are several), but the most memorable for gay fans must include:

1. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973): buddy-bonding between two baseball players, one dying an incurable disease.

2. Mean Streets (1973): buddy-bonding between two Italian-American hoods, De Niro and Harvey Keitel.

3. 1900 (1976): buddy-bonding between two Italian boys, one rich, one poor (De Niro, Gerard Depardieu).  Their three-way encounter with a woman features frontal nudity.

4. Taxi Driver (1976): Travis Bickle becomes a vigilante, and rescues lesbian Jody Foster. Mega beefcake.

5. New York, New York (1977): "Lullaby of Broadway" romance between De Niro and gay fave Liza with a Z.

6. Raging Bull (1980): De Niro as a self-destructive boxer.  Beefcake.

7. The Mission (1986): buddy-bonding in 18th century South America, between a Jesuit priest and a reformed slave trader (Jeremy Irons, De Niro).

8. Midnight Run (1988): Bounty hunter De Niro and prisoner Charles Grodin become the hunted.

9. We're No Angels (1989): Escaped cons De Niro and Sean Penn hide out as priests.

10. A Bronx Tale (1993): Father (De Niro) disapproves of his son's friendship with a gangster (Chazz Palminteri).

11. Flawless (1999): Homophobic cop (De Niro) moves in next door to a drag queen.

Sorry, I ran out of room in 1999.  There's another 14 years to go.

Sanjay and Craig: A Boy and His Snake

I heard that Maulik Pancholy, previously on Weeds and now the voice artist for Nickelodeon's Sanjay and Craig (2013-14),  is gay, and recently got engaged to long-time partner Ryan Corvaia.  So I watched some episodes to see if there were any gay subtexts.

It's a "my secret" series about an ordinary boy, Sanjay (who is of South Asian ancestry), and his best friend Craig, a talking snake (Chris Hardwick, left, who looks presentable in a speedo).  A master of disguise, Craig often masquerades as a human boy.

Other recurring characters include parents, friends, bullies, a girl who has an unrequited crush on Sanjay, and a girl on whom he has an unrequited crush.

Any gay subtexts?  A few
They idolize a washed-up action hero named Remington Tufflips.
They try to save their friend Hector from wolves.
They drool with lust over the ginormous calves of an overdeveloped police officer, and even invent a "mirror on the shoe" device to spy on him better:
Sanjay: Those calves are the best!
Craig: Glorious!

And gender ambiguity:
Snake-hating neighbor Mr. Noodman is feminine-coded.
Craig has many feminine mannerisms.
Craig masquerades as a girl to enter a beauty pageant, and loves his new role.
Sanjay believes that he is pregnant.

Nothing spectacular, but Nickelodeon animation has always had a pitiful gay-subtext record, especially when compared to the Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.  This is a good start. 

Jan 26, 2014

Reb Brown: Man-Mountain from the Future

In the way of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan the Barbarian (1982), studios started scouring the countryside for man-mountains that they could shove into loincloths for barbarian hijinks.  Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983) is one of the more infamous attempts, with tacky sets, a horrible theme song, and a ludicrous plot about a cave man who fights dinosaurs, blue-skinned people, sand mummies (don't ask), and flying saucers.  And he turns out to be living in a post-Apocalyptic future!

Everyone thought that superbly muscled 34-year old Reb Brown, who played Yor, was named after the Confederate Army's Johnny Reb, but he was actually born as a more humdrum Robert Brown in Los Angeles, and adopted the Southern redneck name for reasons unknown.

A football star at USC, then a pro boxer, and deputy sheriff, he had been bouncing around movies and tv since the snake-horror Ssss (1973); he gets snaked to death while soaping up his enormous pecs in the shower.  He appeared in such muscle-flexing roles as Football Player in The Girl Most Likely To (1973), Lifeguard on The Rockford Files (1975), and Weightlifter in Six Characters in Search of an Author (1976).  

In 1978 and 1979, he played Captain America in two tv-movie adaptions of the comic book hero.  Not the most becoming outfit, but it least it's bulgeworthy.

After Yor, Reb starred in some of the standard "Man-Mountain rescues someone in Southeast Asia" actioners, some of which resulted in ample homoerotic buddy-bonding (he bonds with Sylvester Stallone in Cage, 1989).  All of which resulted in ample shirtless and semi-nude scenes.

Plus a few more movies so bad that they rated Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffs, such as Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985) and Space Mutiny (1988). 

Gradually he moved out of acting into production.  Probably not gay in real life.