Apr 23, 2014

Dr. Spock: The Kids Are All Right

Parents of the Baby Boomer generation were the first in history to be almost universally aware of the existence of gay and lesbian people, and almost universally terrified of their kids "turning out" gay.

The problems were:
1. No one knew what "caused" gay identity.  Too much affection from Mom?  Too little from Dad?  Male friendships?  Female friendships?  Friends of the wrong age? Spanking?   Incorrect toilet training? Breast feeding?

2. You couldn't talk about it.  Even saying the word "homosexual" might turn a kid gay.

Enter Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), a pediatrician who published a "common sense" approach to Baby and Child Care in 1946.

Gone was the second-guessing, the wondering, the psychoanalytic anxiety.

1. Children are resilient.  No one act is going to have a huge impact, positive or negative.
2. Trust your instincts.  If you feel like hugging your child, do it.  If your child is crying, find out what's wrong.
3. Children aren't little computers waiting to be programmed with a set of rules.  They're little human beings with their own goals, desires, interests, and activities.  Respect them.

He didn't mention gay identity by name in early editions, but he alleviated parental worries about gender atypical activities.  Lots of boys are quiet, emotional, and nurturing.  Lots of girls are big, bold, and brash.  Not a problem (translation: doesn't mean your kid is gay).

What a relief!  Every parent in America bought a copy.  The one on my parents' nightstand eventually fell apart from constant use.  An entire generation of kids were raised by parents trusting their instincts.

They became the youth counterculture, anti-War, pro-drug, fighting for civil rights, women's rights, and eventually gay rights.

Of course, Dr. Spock was blamed (along with Timothy Leary).

A hardcore liberal and vocal anti-War advocate, he didn't mind.

New editions appeared regularly, incorporating the latest research on child development.  By the 1980s, gay and lesbian youth were being acknowledged.

Dr. Spock died in 1998, but his laid-back, "trust your instincts" advice lives on.  His website has an article on "Different Families, Different Challenges," acknowledging the fact that many kids are growing up in same-sex households.

Not a problem.

The Hottest Border and Castle Guards

I love men in uniform, especially the uniformed guards at country borders, and at monuments, castles, and public buildings.  They're always so serious, certain that they have the most important job in the world, guarding their country's treasures against villainous foreigners, and their phallic symbols...um, I mean guns...are always at the ready.

Over the years, I've accumulated many photos of border and castle guards. Here are some of the most interesting.

1. Russian guards frolicking in a fountain.
2. Young border guard from Romania.  You rarely see anything of their physiques, but he offers some hints.
3. Him, too: a castle guard in Finland who knows his way around the gym.

4. A Swiss Guard at Vatican City. I'm pretty sure he's gay.
5. Beefy Danish castle guard, his gun sticking straight up.

More after the break

Apr 22, 2014

The Midsummer Night's Dream Ballets

I love Shakespeare, the original gay poet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream is my favorite play. Fairy king Oberon fights with his wife over a boy that they both want -- can you get any more explicit?  Puck, the Lord of Misrule, fools around with four mortals, making them fall in and out of love at random.  Meanwhile, some tradesmen are putting on a play of their own, about Pyramis and Thisbe, ancient Greek lovers who had to communicate through a wall (and they cast the wall).

Besides, Puck is usually naked, and the other male dancers clad in Elizabethan tights, complete with codpieces (unless they are impressively endowed without one).

There are two ballet versions.  The 1962 A Midsummer Night's Dream, was choreographed by George Balanchine, with music by Felix Mendelsson.  It follows the basic plot for awhile, but then gets clogged down in a bizarre, heterosexist wedding dance.

The Dream (1964), choreographed by Frederick Ashton, discards the subplots to concentrate on Puck manipulating the love lives of fairies and mortals.  It's considerably more homoerotic, as Puck grabs and fiddles with the male cast members, most of whom aren't wearing much.

They end up in heteronormative pairs: "Jack shall have Jill, all shall be well."

But until that moment, it's a wild ride.

In case you were wondering, the Pucks are: Mathias Dingman, Kyle Slade, Valentino Zuchetti, Lucas Hall, and Ramon Moreno.