Nov 30, 2013

Seth Green: Werewolf, Gay Party Boy, or Homophobic Robot?

Although Seth Green had been appearing on tv and in movies since 1984, when he was 10 years old, I didn't notice him until Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2000): he played Oz, the laconic high school werewolf who dated Willow before she "turned" lesbian.

Ok, I thought: nice guy, and Buffy is a pro-gay program.  Seth must be pro-gay himself.

Next I saw him as Scott Evil, son of Austin Powers' nemesis Dr. Evil in Goldfinger (2002).

Ok, I thought: Goldfinger isn't exactly gay-inclusive, but it's not homophobic, either. Seth is probably pro gay.

Besides, he played in the gay-themed Nunzio's Second Cousin (2004) and Boys Life 2. 

But then the homophobia started.



Party Monster (2003): A swishy New York partyboy is almost "saved" from is "destructive lifestyle" through the love of a good woman.

Without a Paddle (2004): three guys are stranded in the wilderness, and must do sick, disgusting, horrifying things in order to survive.  Like cuddle.

Sex Drive (2008): A guy crosses the country to hook up with the Girl of His Dreams after stealing a car from his homophobic brother (who turns out to be a swish).

Old Dogs (2009): Haven't seen it, but anything starring Robin Williams and John Travolta has to be terrible, and it was listed in Yahoo! as one of the "most homophobic movies you've seen."

Then there's the ongoing homophobia of his tv series, Robot Chicken (2005-2013), Family Guy (1999-), and most recently costarring with Giovanni Ribisi on  Dads (2013), reviled by critics as the most homophobic (and racist, and sexist) program on tv.  After Family Guy, that's saying a lot.

So is Seth Green pro-gay or homophobic?  Or a pro-gay homophobe?  Or is he just oblivious to the cultural impact of the roles he takes?

Nov 29, 2013

Bowery Billy and his Boyfriend Lulu

I knew that boys' adventure series of the 1920s (such as the Hardy Boys) usually involved teenage same-sex pairs with a passion, exclusivity, and domesticity you would never see today: gay partners in all but the name.

But I didn't know how far back the fad extended until the Scans Daily website posted some cover scans of Bowery Billy, a teen sleuth from the mean streets of New York.  His adventures appeared in Bowery Boy Weekly, one of the illustrated story papers called "penny dreadfuls" because they cost a penny, and they were "dreadful."

A precursor of the working-class East Side Kids of 1930s movies, Billy was, according to the blurb, "an adventurous little Street Arab (homeless kid.)"  He  talks like this:

"Green bananers!  So dis pair is layin' for Bernard Gildersleeve, der millionaire that's jest come, from Chicago to show der fellers in New York how to blow in their boodle!"



Billy was tied up and threatened as much as Robin the Boy Wonder and other superhero sidekicks of 1940s comics.  This contraption seems designed to zero in on his manhood.

But who was rescuing him?  Did he have a boyfriend?  A girlfriend?  An adult benefacator?











After a diligent search, I managed to track down and read a story -- really a short novel, over 50 pages long.  And it turns out that Billy lives with a boy named Lulu.

Really Louis, but Billy gave him a girl's name because he originally thought he was a sissy:  he is "pale and delicate-looking," but with an inner resourcefulness. He knows how to use his fists.




The two live together, go out on adventures together, and rescue -- and then ignore -- girls together.  Of course, Billy needs rescuing quite often as well, and here Lulu is about to be drowned by evil cultists as Billy rushes in.

At the end of the story I read, "Bowery Billy became the millionaire's guest on board of the beautiful yacht.  Lulu Drexel remained with him for the night."

I'm reminded of the line in The Well of Loneliness (1928) which caused it to be judged obscene.  The lesbians meet, talk of love, "and that night they were not parted."

A gay teenage romance in 1904.

Spring 1983: Viju and I Compete Over Pecs

During my first year as a M.A. student at Indiana University (1982-83), I went crazy -- so many options!  Augustana offered only the standard French, Spanish, German, Latin, Greek, Swedish, and Russian, but Indiana offered everything from Afrikaans to Nahuatl to Mongolian!  I ended up taking Mandarin Chinese, Russian Folklore, and South Asian Anthropology, and Mongolian Civilization (where I learned about Bokh, or Mongolian Wrestling).

 I didn't meet Viju the Gay South Asian in South Asian Anthropology. He was a doctoral student in English, interested in John Milton.  We met in my class in Renaissance Literature, when I suggested facetiously that Sir Philip Sidney might have been a crossdresser.

"You'd better be careful, Boomer," Viju exclaimed.  "People might think you mean he had bisexual tendencies or something."

I managed to blurt out "No, I think he was gay!" before the professor put a stop to the discussion and assured us that there were no "homosexuals" in Renaissance England.

Viju turned out to be gay himself, but closeted, even more closeted than most guys in the Midwest in 1982.  He wouldn't go to the gay student organization on campus, or to Bullwinkle's, Bloomington's gay bar (although I convinced him later, when we converted the homophobe).

Instead, he opted for the hour drive into Indianapolis, where no one knew him.  He preferred the Varsity Lounge, a mixed gay/lesbian bar.with lots of older, "straight" acting guys.


We never dated (although there was a bit of incidental fondling), but we became friends.

In the spring 1983 semester, we registered for a seminar in Modernist Literature, or rather, all Great Writers Who Ever Existed (everybody else being hacks): D. H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner.  Most of their works had no gay content, of course, but we had lots of fun misreading the texts to add some.

 Viju took me to my first gay bar, and we often drove into Indianapolis to cruise together.  We were both into guys who were husky or muscular and A+++ beneath the belt, so we sometimes ended up competing for the same bodybuilder, bear, or pro wrestler.

My strategy was: "Hi, you have nice pecs.

Well, it worked with Jimmy, the Bodybuilder on Crutches.

Viju's strategy was: "Hi, I'm exotic, and I know all sorts of ancient Hindu sex secrets.".

The story of Viju continues when he meets my Cousin Joe, when we try to decide if our professor, Dr. Singer, is gay, and when we visit India and he tries to fix me up with his sister.

Nov 28, 2013

Moises Arias: Quirky, Androgynous, Gay-Positive

Born in 1994, Moises Arias became famous to millions of tweens as Rico, pint-sized nemesis to Jason Earles' Jackson on Hannah Montana (2006-2011).

He made many other appearances on the Disney Channel, including starring with buddy Jake T. Austin twice, in The Perfect Game (2009) and in a 2009 story arc on The Wizards of Waverly Place (he played Max's disembodied Conscience).








Rapidly becoming a big star, Moises played in the Disney Channel Games and got his own reality series, Moises Rules! (2009-2010), with several up-and-coming Hollywood teens as his friends and associates (such as Sage Northcutt, left).

Growing up and getting buffed, Moises could have gone the teen idol route, but instead he opted for quirky characters in quirky comedies or dramedies:

Quicktime in We the Party (2012), about teenagers interested in "romance, money, prom, college, sex, bullies, Facebook, fitting in, standing out, and finding themselves."






And Biaggio, the androgynous person with "no gender" who mistakes gay for muscular dystrophy in The Kings of Summer (2013). 


He wrote, directed, and starred in Brothers in Arms (2012), about two brothers who must adjust to being separated when one is drafted into the army (played by his real life brother, Mateo Arias of the Disney Channel's Kickin' It).


But he is not immune to commercial projects.  He played Sue's laconic wrestler boyfriend on The Middle (2012-13) and Bonzo Madrid, a "strikingly beautiful boy" in the controversial sci-fi epic Ender's Game (2013) (I haven't seen it.)




Being a member of Jake T. Austin's posse, and playing androgynous characters, there has naturally been some speculation on whether Moises is gay in real life.

Being the bff of Jaden Smith has fueled speculation.

He appears to have a girlfriend with whom he's "madly in love," so probably heterosexual.  But definitely gay-friendly.

See also: Sage Northcutt.

Nov 26, 2013

Bertie and Jeeves: A Gay Gentleman's Gentleman

In the early decades of the 20th century -- at least in fiction -- there was a certain category of aristocratic but impoverished young men who lived on the largess of imperial aunts.  The funds came with the demand, and eventually the hope -- that the young men would settle down to a wife and a prosperous career, but they would have none of it.

Indeed, they spent so much time plotting ingenious escapes to the twin prisons of marriage and work that they had precious little time left over for golf, tennis, gambling, the theater, and other pleasures of indolence.

We can see the roots of this Young Man of Indolence in the 19th century aesthetic movement: "Life should not have a use; it is a work of art"; and his descendants occupy such unlikely places as Carl Barks' Gladstone Gander, but his most important chronicler was P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote 35 short stories and 11 novels, mostly between 1915 and 1930, about Bertie Wooster.

Recent Oxford graduate Bertie spends most stories evading marriage and gainful employment, saving his friends from jams, and getting into a few of his own.  While not averse to feminine charms, he definitely occupies a homosocial world: his life is informed by his friends from college or the Drone's Club, with names like Barmy, Biffy, Gussie, Stinker, Sippy, and Beefy.  And his gentleman's gentleman, Jeeves.

A professional valet, Jeeves popped into Bertie's life unannounced, like witty servants from Mary Poppins to Charles in Charge, and quickly made himself indispensable.  He had three aunts, but they never encouraged him to marry, nor did he ever fall prey to feminine charms.  Everyone understood that Bertie was the love of his life.

And they were together forever.  The last Jeeves and Wooster novel, Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, published in 1974, involved Jeeves helping Bertie evade a woman's clutches yet again.

The gay subtext is so obvious that one wonders if it was intentional.  Wodehouse was personally asexual, allergic to sex in all of its forms (although he married a woman). But he worked in the theater, where he had many gay friends, so he was aware of same-sex desire.  And many gay couples of the early 20th century masqueraded as young libertine and valet, so even if Wodehouse didn't intend for Bertie and Jeeves to be read that way, he surely knew that they could be.

Bertie and Jeeves have been played on film by David Niven/Arthur Treacher (1936) and by Martin Jarvis/John Scherer (2001), and tv by Ian Carmichael/Davis Price (1965-67), and by Hugh Laurie/Stephen Frye (1990-1993).

A theatrical version, Perfect Nonsense, premiered on London's West End in 2013, with Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen.


Mike Erwin: Home of Phobia

When you do a google keyword search on "Mike Erwin" and "gay," you get 30,000 gay websites discussing how hot he is.  Hard to determine if he's played any gay characters, or if he's gay in real life.

Ok, he's hot.

He got his  start in collegiate sex comedies like American Pie 2, The New Guy, and Home of Phobia (2004), aka Freshman Orientation, where he played the gay roommate of a straight guy pretending to be gay in order to win the Girl of His Dreams (are gay guys that much better at heterosexual romance?).






And sex dramas, like She's Too Young (2004), about a girl with multiple sex partners, and Pretty Persuasion (2005), about two girls who accuse their drama teacher of sexual harassment.

But he's most famous for the tearjerker Everwood (2002-2004), as the teenage Colin Hart, who got into an auto accident while drinking, fell into a coma, awoke, and then died during surgery.

Since Everwood, he's played some iconic adventure characters: the teenage Bruce Banner in Hulk (2003) and Don West in The Robinsons: Lost in Space (2004). 


And he's starred in gay-themed episodes of Jack and Bobby and The War at Home, but not as a gay character.



He's also known as the voice of the video game character Jak, who accidentally turns his bff Daxter into an ottsel (an otter-weasel hybrid).    I haven't played it, but I understand that they have some gay undertones.




The Game: Nice Beefcake, Disgusting Homophobia

American sitcoms are segregated.  Some have exclusively white casts, and others, exclusively black.  Since writers believe that all gay people are upper-class white men, you rarely if ever see a gay character on a "black" sitcom.  In fact, you often see unremitting homophobia, as black men respond to institutional oppression by lashing out against anyone they perceive to be "unmanly."

The Game (2006-) is a long-running sitcom, originally about medical student Melanie Barnes, who moves with her boyfriend Derwin Davis to San Diego, where he will play football for the San Diego Sabers.






They are no longer in the cast, as it has expanded to include various teammates and their mothers, wives, and girlfriends: Hosea Chanchez, Jay Ellis, Bumper Robinson, Michael Beach, Michael Boatman, and many others, often appearing for only a season or two.

I had only seen one episode; there was lots of beefcake, but I hate football, and the heterosexist "who's in love with who?" in an utterly-gay free world bcame depressing after about five minutes.  

But I was curious about the "gay" storyline.  In "Stay Fierce, Malik," which aired on January 23, 2009, the womanizing player Malik is "accused" of being gay in a tv interview, and must suffer homophobic teasing from his teammates.  Then he discovers that Sabers player Clay actually is gay!  He calls him a "fag," and the other teammates are all horrified and disgusted, and leave him alone in the locker room.  These are the "positive" characters, by the way, the ones we're supposed to like and care about.



Mehcad Brooks (left), who played Jerome, resisted making his character so homophobic: "The writers and I had a lot of discussion about it..  I couldn't wrap my head around not supporting someone who is struggling with coming out on a national stage. I was sorta fighting what I had to do. [But] a job's a job."

In the next episode, "Do The Wright Thing" (January 30, 2009), the team manager forces them all to accept Clay -- not because it's the right thing to do, but because of the publicity.  Having an out player will pack the stadium -- fans who like fags will come out to cheer, and the 99.99% of the population who hate fags will come out to boo!  (He never considers that some football fans might be gay themselves).

The players resist, complaining bitterly about having to work with a fag -- these are the positive characters, remember. The wives just giggle and make homophobic jokes.  Malik resists the most bitterly until he has to do a guest bit on a children's tv show, which teaches him "tolerance."

Incredibly painful to watch, absolutely disgusting.  Remember, this was 2009, not 1969!

Having handled "the gay thing," the show returned to its endless heterosexual machinations, blissfully unaware that gay people exist.

I'd rather have them unaware.

Gay Doesn't Imply a Bedroom

I'm depressed today.

#1.  I had to write a review of a blisteringly homophobic tv show.

#2. The agent of Mateus Ward from Lab Rats wants me to take down my post because of its "mature" content.

There is no mature content on this blog.  No porn, no nudity, no bad words, no explicit sex.  He thinks that "gay" refers only to bedrooms.  Kids can swoon over the opposite sex at the age of five and everyone says "aww, how cute," but they're too young to have sex, so they can't possibly be gay.  Or even know that gay people exist.

That's why Kenny Ortega, director of the High School Musical franchise, said there could be no gay characters -- they're too young to have sex.  Gay people inhabit a bedroom.  Heterosexuals are everywhere else.

That's why heterosexuals get so upset over gay people "flaunting it."  They believe that when you say "I am gay," you are really saying "I engaged in the following sexual activities last night. Here are some videos to help you envision my sex life better."

In one episode of the PBS preschool Arthur, the animated rabbit visited a human boy with two moms.  Parents were outraged: "How dare you show two women having sex with each other on a kid's show!"  The show actually didn't show the women in bed together, but parents thought that "gay" automatically implied a bedroom.

I'm taking down the post.  I don't need any more homophobes on this site.

#3. I saw a tv commercial in which a family is sitting at dinner, and a little girl, maybe about 5, is playing the "he loves me...he loves me not" game.  Everyone grins, high-fives each other, and congratulates her on being heterosexual.

But gay people never get ecstatic celebrations.  They get: "I've learned to accept you in spite of the pain you've caused me," and "I still love you, and I'll support you in spite of this horrible malady."

Just once, I'd like to hear "Yeah!  Great!  I'm so thrilled!"


Nov 25, 2013

Summer 1993: Stranded on the Island of Dogs

Sorry if you love London, or call it home.  I'm not a big fan, in spite of the architectural marvels and the 15 Public Penises.  I always get lost; I'm cold, confused, cranky.  And the food's not great.

Summer 1993: My partner was a delegate to the World Congress of GLBT Jews, to be held in London!  He invited me along as his guest.







The rest of the post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Nov 24, 2013

Chris Gorham: Sometimes Gay, Sometimes Blind, Always an Ally

Back in 1999, the WB tried to get on the teencom bandwagon with Popular (1999-2001), about two high schoolers, the popular Brooke and the outcast Sam, who become unwilling siblings when their parents marry. It was actually more of a dramedy, with suicides and life-threatening illnesses, and some storylines of gay interest: a boy wants to become a cheerleader; their shop teacher has a "sex change"; a gay student gets harassed.  It ended on a cliffhanger, with Brooke apparently killed by her rival Nicole.

It was not very popular, but that may be because the target audience of adolescents was not home on Friday nights, but it did give us the hunky Christopher Gorham as the dying Harrison John.




Chris had already played a gay character, the "sexually confused" Elliott on Party of Five, went on to star in other gay-positive tv series: Felicity (2001-2002), Out of Practice (2005-2006), and Ugly Betty (2006-2010).

It was while playing Henry the nerdish accountant on Ugly Betty that Chris first took his shirt off on camera.  Many viewers were shocked by his buffed physique, and assumed that there was some special-effects trick going one.

This angered Chris's wife, Anel Lopez Gorham: "You've looked like this forever," she complained.  Why is it so hard to believe that he has a great physique?

Don't worry, his clothes have come off a lot since.




The Ledge (2011) is about the fundamentalist Christian Joe (Patrick Wilson), who doesn't like his wife's lover (Charlie Hunnam, left), especially the fact that he's an atheist, so he forces him onto the ledge of a high rise to see if he is still an atheist when facing death.  Chris (right) plays Gavin's roommate, whom Joe doesn't like because he's gay.





Chris is currently starring in Covert Affairs (2010-), as a blind CIA agent who takes off his shirt a lot.

He and his wife are strong supporters of marriage equality.  He explains: "We’re an inter-racial couple. It wasn’t that long ago that it was illegal for us to marry. So we’re huge supporters of the right to marry.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Homophobia and Abs

You probably know Aaron-Taylor Johnson from Kick-Ass (2010), the rather homophobic comedy about a teen nerd who becomes a superhero.  When his bulgeworthy spandex costume is discovered, he's assumed to be a gay hustler, to the constant teasing of his classmates.  However, the assumption of gayness allows him to win The Girl of His Dreams.

And in Chatroom (2010), the rather homophobic drama about  sociopathic teen using social media to encourage bad behavior.   He convinces his friend Jim to commit suicide, and kisses him to "seal the deal."







But the British actor has been seen in some gay-subtext films, too.

Such as his first starring role, Tom and Thomas (2002), about two brothers (both played by Aaron) who find each other after many years apart and embark on an adventure in order to stay together.

And The Thief Lord (2006), an adaption of the German novel about two outcasts who find each other on the mean streets of Venice.

And The Magic Door (2007), a heroic fantasy with a rather buffed elf helping a human boy defeat a troll.






After Kick-Ass, Aaron starred in Savages (2012), as pot grower Ben, who is in a triadic relationship with Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and their shared girlfriend.  It's all subtext -- after all, this is not a comedy, and it's not about AIDS or gay adoption, so you can't have real, actual gay or bi characters, can you?













Oh, well, at least he has nice abs.

Summer 1981: Meeting a Russian at the Gay Rights March

During my senior year at Augustana, I became obsessed with Russia: I signed up for courses in Russian language, Russian History, and Russian Culture and Civilization.  All because of a visit to Des Moines, Iowa, in the summer of 1981.

It was a very busy summer, with my professor's handcuff party, Brian telling me what the graffiti meant, my brother getting married, and Adam and I bunking together. And in June, Thomas, the Episcopalian priest with three boyfriends, called to invite me to the Iowa Gay Rights March.

I had never heard of such a thing.

"We march to protest police harassment, disCooperstownination in jobs and housing, sodomy laws, that sort of thing.  We've been doing it for a few years, always on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots."

I had never heard of the Stonewall Riots, either.  But count me in.

I drove out to Des Moines on Friday the 27th of June for a strategic meeting.  What to do if we were attacked, where to meet if we had to scatter, what do do if we were arrested


We had a parade permit, so the police should be cooperative, but you never know.

On Saturday the 28th at 2:00, 13 gay men and 4 lesbians gathered at Western Gateway Park with signs saying "Stop Gay Police Harassment," "Gay is Good," "We Are Your Children," and "Gay People are People Too."  Maybe not the catchiest slogans, but idea was to get the word "gay" out there, to let spectators know that there were gay people even in Iowa.

But the newspapers refused to announce the march, and no reporters covered it, so no one knew about it.  As we marched east on Locust Street the 13 blocks to City Hall, the only spectators were people who happened to be passing by, and others who ran into the stores and offices to fetch their friends.


Mostly they gawked and pointed and laughed. Look at the weirdos!  Imagine, there's some of them right here in Iowa!  But no one tried to break our heads, so we judged the march a success.

Today it's a Gay Pride Parade, not a Gay Rights March, with hundreds of marchers and thousands of spectators.  It's promoted by the Chamber of Commerce, and in 2013 the Lieutenant Governor visited.

The Russian connection:  this time when Thomas said "You too, Boomer," I consented, and hit it off with his friend Mickey, short, blond, and tanned, with a smooth, muscular physique.  And erudite: a Russian major at the University of Iowa, later a translator, he spoke Russian, German, Czech, and Polish.  He told me about gay Russians like the composer Tchaikovsky, who scored The Nutcracker and the dancer Nijinsky, who scandalized audiences with his homoerotic interpretation  of "The Afternoon of a Faun."

Iowa City was only about 45 minutes from Rock Island, so Mickey and I stayed in touch, visiting each other several times during my senior year at Augustana.  And when it came time to register for fall classes, I saw "Elementary Russian" and "Russian History," and crammed them into my schedule.

16 years later, I dated a Russian twink named Yuri.