Mar 14, 2015

The Slave Boy of Castro Street

The Castro may have been Gay Heaven, but the rest of San Francisco was not.  You might see an occasional hand-holding gay couple or rainbow flag, but mostly you were deluged by heterosexual power-couples and cooing Moms and Pops on holiday.  Some neighborhoods were quite homophobic  I have had slurs yelled out of passing cars at me only five times in my life: once in Maine, once in Texas, and three times in San Francisco.

So most gay people in San Francisco wanted to move to the Castro.

I had the opportunity once, in the fall of 1996, as long as I didn't mind having a slave boy.

The rest of the story is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Spring 1996: The Leatherman Who Never Left South of Market

South of Market was a San Francisco neighborhood of warehouses, factories, car repair places, tattoo parlors, dive bars, drug deals, graffiti, and general decay.

And Mickey, a tall, buffed leatherman in his 30s, with a scruffy beard, nipple rings, and a tattoo of Hot Stuff the Little Devil.

He was at every Bear Party, standing in a dark corner in chaps and a leather vest, never socializing, never approaching anyone.

He was at every beer bust at the Eagle, standing in a dark corner in chaps and a leather jacket, never socializing, never approaching anyone.

He was at every underwear party at the Lone Star, standing in a corner in leather underwear, never socializing, never approaching anyone.

Most guys who took the initiative and approached him got Attitude.  The few who met his standards got an exchange of names and an invitation to the nearest dark space.  Nothing more. He never went home with anyone.  He apparently had no friends.

I was intrigued,  What caused a man to become isolated even from his own people?  But when I tried involving Mickey in a conversation, all I got was an invitation to the nearest dark space.

Then one Tuesday morning I was walking down 9th to my part time job at an architectural firm, and I saw Mickey walking down Folsom, looking out of place in his chaps and leather vest in the midst of a business day.

"Hey, Mickey!" I called.  He turned and looked at me, confused, threatened.

"Boomer.  From the Bear Party and the Eagle, remember?"

"Sure.  Um...how are you?"

"Fine, thanks.  I'm on my way to work. I'm an administrative assistant at McCracken. You?"

"Um, well...."  He looked around, as if searching for the nearest dark space to invite me to.  Didn't he ever have conversations about anything else?

"Are you on your way to work, too?"  I suggested.  "Nice job that lets you work with your shirt off!"


"It's a leather shop. Looking hot is good for business."

My information about Mickey had doubled!  Now was my chance!  "So...are you free for lunch?  There's a nice Chinese restaurant down on Bryant.  You might have to put on a t-shirt...."

He peered toward the south.  "I never go past Harrison.  Too homophobic. Sixth, Twelfth, Harrison, Market, that's my turf."

"Really?"  I was shocked. He had named a constrained world of about ten blocks!  Ok, it had the Eagle, the Lone Star, the Bear Party, and some gyms, tattoo parlors, and bike shops, but no banks, bookstores, hardware stores, parks, or movie theaters.  And... "You're missing the Castro! Gay heaven!"

"I'm not missing it much!"  Mickey grinned.  This was the first time I ever saw him express any emotion.

"Ok, how about if I come to you?  I'll pick up some Chinese food and drop by your shop."

"Is it a gay Chinese restaurant?" he asked pointedly. "I don't eat straight food."

Straight food?

Over gay kung pao chicken and gay pork dumplings, Mickey told me a bit more about his life:
1. He grew up in Missouri, and had a degree in visual arts from Washington University in St. Louis.
2. He was working as a graphic artist in St. Louis, but he was accidentally outed and fired.
3. He was the favorite uncle to his brothers' and sister's kids, but when he was outed, they cut off all contact.
4. While leaving Clementine's in St. Louis, he was jumped and beat up by a band of homophobes, and taken to the hospital.  His brothers and sister didn't visit.
5. He had lived in San Francisco for about five years.  But he never visited the Castro.  He'd have to go through a homophobic neighborhood to get there.

Gradually I began to understand.  Some horrifying experiences with homophobia -- much worse than my own -- drove Mickey to bulwark himself in muscle and leather, entomb himself South of Market, and refuse human contact except when necessary for work or erotic release.

But gay neighborhoods were not about work or erotic release -- they were always about finding friends, family, a place where you belong.

And I knew exactly how to get Mickey there!

"The Metropolitan Community Church has an outreach program for gay youth," I said.  "Many of them are having a terrible time at home, with parents who are homophobic and treat them like dirt."

"That's awful!" Mickey exclaimed.

"One of the things we do is give them a place to hang out after school.  But right now it's unstructured, just some snacks and videos in the fellowship hall.  I think they need some structured activities, like sports, or maybe an art class."

He knew where I was going.  "No way -- I'm no teacher!"

"You don't have to know how to teach.  You have to know how to mentor.  You can be a favorite uncle again."

"But I'm an atheist!"

"The MCC doesn't discriminate."

"The MCC -- that's in the Castro, isn't it?"

"Yes, you'd have to go to the Castro. And you'd have to switch to a t-shirt and jeans."

It took a bit more persuading over several days of gay Chinese food, but soon Mickey and I were in the pastor's office, discussing his art background.  And a couple of weeks after that, Mickey started his after-school art classes for LGBT youth.

The transformation was amazing.  Soon Mickey was talking to people at the Lone Star and the Eagle.  He was volunteering to work on the Mr. San Francisco Leather competition.  And he invited one of the guys he met at the Bear Party to dinner -- at a gay restaurant, of course.

See also: The Slave Boy of Castro Street; and Hot Stuff the Little Devil.

Bob's Burgers: The Most Gay-Positive Sitcom on TV

Since 2011, Bob's Burgers has been airing on Sunday night, in the company of Family Guy and American Dad.  But it is quite different from those programs.

1. The father and mother in the nuclear family are not insensitive jerks.
2. They accept their children's idiosyncracies, instead of berating and belittling them (on American Dad) or maiming and murdering them (on Family Guy)
3. There are no sociopaths (like Roger Smith and Stewie Griffin), who kill, maim, and express same-sex interests all in the same scene, as if they are all equally disgusting.
4. There are few if any jokes involving menstruation, masturbation, vomiting, golden showers, diarrhea, or body fluids in general.
5. No one ever collapses in a pool of blood.
6. No one ever expresses hatred of blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, women, gay men, lesbians, or transgender persons.


In short, you never think you're watching a Nazi recruitment film scripted by potty-mouthed third graders.

It's about a small, struggling burger joint in a resort town in New Jersey, run by aspiring chef Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, top photo) and his New York accented wife, Linda (John Roberts).  Plotlines generally involve restaurant problems, such a visit from the health inspector, competition with the pizza place across the street, or buying a food truck -- and the problems of the three kids:



1. Shy, socially-awkward teenager Tina (Dan Mintz).
2. Chubby preteen Gene (Eugene Merman), an exuberant nonconformist who may be gay.
3. Preteen rebel Louise (Kristin Schaal), who always wears bunny ears (no one in the family seems to care).

Heterosexism appears on occasion.  A boy band has only female fans, and when Gene gets a secret admirer, everyone assumes that it must be a girl.  But not often.  Usually same-sex desire and relationships are seamlessly integrated into everyday life.

Bob gets a part-time job as a taxi driver, and finds himself driving a group of drag queens home from the bars.  Does he:
a. Freak out, but learn tolerance.
b. Rescue the drag queens from homophobic harassment.
c. Invite them to the restaurant.

Answer: C.  Invite them to the restaurant.

At Christmastime, Bob decides to reconcile with his estranged Dad, Big Bob.  They meet in a gay bar called the Junkyard.  Why?
a. Neither of them realize that it's a gay bar until they get hit on; then they freak out but learn tolerance.
b. Big Bob tells Bob that he's gay and closeted; that's why he withdrew from the family.
c. Big Bob likes hanging out there with his gay friends.

Answer: C.  Big Bob just likes hanging out there.


Gene announces that he is gay.  What happens?

a. The family freaks out but learns tolerance.
b. The family goes overboard with acceptance,
c.  Nothing.

Actually, this episode hasn't appeared yet, and it's not likely to, because stories require conflict and, at least on Bob's Burgers, there wouldn't be any.  Being gay is perfectly ordinary; the family wouldn't have a reaction to it.

By the way, John Roberts, the voice actor who plays Linda, is gay.

Mar 13, 2015

Which Has More Beefcake: "Fringe" or "How I Met Your Mother"?

I was finding a lot of beefcake among the guest stars and "security guard #1" roles of Fringe, but I began wondering: was Fringe unique -- a casting agent with an eye for male beauty -- or was every tv series inundated with musclemen?    Maybe every guy who gets his SAG card nowadays knows his way around a gym.

To find out, I picked a tv sitcom at random -- How I Met Your Mother, which I've never seen.

I picked the sixth season at random, and looked through the cast list on imdb.  The plotlines seem even more heterosexist than on Fringe: every episode furthers a hetero-romantic relationship.

In case you're interested (and I don't know why you would be), the sitcom is about a middle-aged architect (Ted) explaining "how I met your mother" to his kids, in an endless series of very, very long conversations (couldn't he have just said "we met in the laundromat"?).  To enliven the boredom, he recounts his young-adult adventures in sex and romance with his girlfriend Robin, his best friend Marshall, Marshall's wife Lily, and hetero horndog Barney (played by gay actor Neil Patrick Harris).


Episode
1: "Big Days."  Barney talks to a girl in a bar, but she has ex boyfriends. Soap star James Ryen (left) appears as Coworker #3.

2: "Cleaning House."  Barney's brother James reconciles with his father.  Nothing.

3. "Unfinished."  Barney tries to woo Ted by womanizing?  Nothing.








4. "Subway Wars."  The guys race each other on a subway to meet Woody Allen.  Geoff Stults as Max.

5. "Architect of Destruction."  Ted refuses to design a new skyscraper that would require demolishing a historic landmark, in order to impress a woman named Zoey. Apparently Ted and Robin have broken up.  Geoff Stults again.

6. "Baby Talk": Barney uses a baby to pick up women.  Payson Lewis (left) as Morris. He's not really that buffed, but he has abs, and you take what you can get.

7. "Canning Randy": Marshall has to fire an incompetent employee.  Nothing.

8. "Natural History": Ted and Zoey fight during a visit to the Museum of Natural History.  Nothing.

9. "Glitter." Barney finds a video from Robin's teen star past.  Nothing.

10. "Blitzgiving."  A Thanksgiving episode. Nothing.

11. "The Mermaid Theory."  Ted goes on a boat trip with Zoey's ex-husband.  Nothing.

12. "False Positive." Lily thinks she's pregnant.  Nothing.

13. "Bad News."  Marshall's fertility doctor looks like Barney.  Nothing.

14. "Last Words." Marshall's father's funeral.  Nothing.

15. "Oh, Honey."  Ted is in love with Zoey.  Nothing.

16. "Desperation Day." Lily goes to Minnesota to get Marshall, who skipped town. Nothing

17. "Garbage Island." Marshall withholds sex from Lily.  Is Ted really telling this story to his preteen kids?  Dan O'Brien plays Meeker (top photo, but I think that might be another Dan O'Brien).

18. "A Change of Heart."  Barney tries to impress a woman by claiming to want to get married. Robbie Amell (left) as Scooby.

19. "Legendaddy."  Barney reconciles with his father. Michael Rupnow as Scott.

20. "The Exploding Meatball Sub."  Ted and Zooey's relationship problems.  Robbie Amell is back.



21. "Hopeless."  Robin meets a guy she has a crush on.  Michael Trucco (left) plays the crush.

22. "The Perfect Cocktail."  The gang is barred from their bar hangout.  Nothing.

23. "Landmark."  More about the building to be demolished.  Nothing.

24. "Challenge Accepted."  Ted and Zooey break up.  Nothing.

7 of 24 episodes (29%) had beefcake actors, but 15 of 22 episodes of Season 4 of Fringe (68%),

Over twice as much.  Fringe wins by a landslide.

Somebody in the casting department likes a nice hard chest.

See also: The 15 Beefcake Stars of Fringe.

Jerry Lewis Falls in Love

In 2007, aging comedian Jerry Lewis called someone a "fag" during his telethon, and apologized the next day for his "bad choice of words."  In 2008, he referred to cricket as a "f-- game" during an interview on Australian tv, but refused to apologize.

Ok, he's homophobic.  But no more homophobic than other people born in 1926: Paul Lynde, Aldo Ray, Tom Tryon, Allen Ginsberg, Cloris Leachman, Charlotte Rae. . .never mind.

[I'm being sarcastic, of course.  This is a list of people who were born that year who were gay or gay-friendly, which supports my argument that you can't excuse Jerry Lewis's homophobia due to his age.]

But in his early days, he was gay.  Or rather, he played gay.

In 1946, the young Borscht Belt comedian Jerry Lewis and the nightclub singer Dean Martin started a comedy act.  It spun into a radio program (1949-53), numerous television appearances, and a series of 16 movies, beginning with with My Friend Irma (1946) and ending with Hollywood or Bust (1956).

From the 1920s through the 1960s, many comedians came in pairs:  Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Smothers Brothers, Gilligan and the Skipper.  They were a relic of Vaudeville, where a "straight man" would set up the joke and a "stooge" would deliver the punchline.

In comedy duos, the straight man (Hardy, Abbott, the Skipper, Dean Martin) strived for respectability: a job, a house, a wife.  He wanted to do things "right," conform to the rules of heterosexist normalcy.  The stooge (Laurel, Costello, Gilligan, Jerry Lewis) was a court jester, like Harlequin of the Commedia dell'Arte or Skip in the Little Nemo comic strip. He stymied the straight man's plans, skewered his pretensions, brought anarchy, rebellion, and freedom.  He was usually not interested in women.

Most comedy duos eliminated the potential for gay subtext by pretending to hate each other, but Dean and Jerry obviously cared for each other.  Jerry went even farther, however, hinting to the oblivious Dean that he was in love.  And sometimes going beyond hints.

Dean: I want to read this fan letter.
Jerry: You don't need to read it to me.  I know what it says. "Dear Mr Martin, you're wonderful, I adore your voice, I dream of you, I sleep with your picture under my pillow."
Dean: How did you know?
Jerry: That's how I feel,  too.


Jerry was also extremely physical, always hugging, holding, and trying to kiss Dean, who accepted the displays of affection with some embarrasment.  In My Friend Irma Goes West, Dean is rubbing Jerry's chest in a circular motion; Jerry says that it feels good, but he would prefer "bigger circles."  Where, precisely, does he want Dean's hand to be?

In their movies and nightclub acts, Dean played the self-absorbed, not-always-faithful "husband," and Jerry the devoted but sneaky "wife."  Dean went off to carouse with his card-playing buddies, while Jerry waited at home with dinner in the oven.  Sometimes Dean hooked up with women, but Jerry always found a way to sabotage the relationship.

If it was all part of the act, what was it for?  What joy did Dean and Jerry expect homophobic 1950s audiences to find in watching unrequited same-sex love?



The pair had a nasty breakup in 1956, and rarely spoke to each other again, except at the funeral of Dean's son, Dean Paul Martin.    Dean Martin went on to the famous homoerotic Rat Pack.

But Jerry occasionally commented on their relationship: "It was like a romance"; "We were closer than brothers"; and, in an interview I remember from the early 1970s, "It makes you wonder if there is something to homosexuality."

See also: The Gay Adventures of Jerry Lewis.






Mar 12, 2015

Michael Moorcock: Bisexual Decadence at the End of Time

Michael Moorcock was a leader in the British "new wave" of science fiction, confusing mishmashes of sci fi, fantasy, and James Joyce..  I liked the beefcake covers, and his name was...um, appealing.  But the novels were impenetrable.

Except for the Dancers at the End of Time (1972-76), a series of novels set in the far, far, far, FAR distant future, when the few remaining humans have practically infinite power.  They can change the shape of the continents and the color of the sky,  instantly.  No one has been born or died for thousands of years; they can be killed, but their friends resurrect them again.

Beings with names like Lord Jagged, Werner de Goethe, the Duke of Queens, Mistress Christia the Everlasting Concubine, Lord Shark the Unknown, and the Iron Orchid spend their time in aesthetic revelry and partygoing.

Sounds like the Aesthete-Decadent Movement of the late 19th century, with power rings.

And substantial beefcake.

They can change their sizes and shapes in order to produce more aesthetically pleasing effects, and what could be more aesthetically pleasing than a gigantic lavender penis?



And the first hints of same-sex activity that I ever saw in print. 

1. Miss Amelia Underwood, a time traveler from the Victorian Era, is horrified when Jherek Carnelian nonchalantly admits to having sex with "a male friend'!

2. An alien named Yusharisp warns them that they have expended so much energy in their various schemes that the heat death of the universe is imminent.  Jherek Carnelian doesn't really believe him, but thinks it would be a lark to accompany him through the universe, warning people.

Yusharisp comes to believe that Jherek is in love with him!






Turns out that Michael Moorcock often included gay-vague or bisexual-vague characters in his novels, although he never actually portrayed any same-sex relationships.

That's a lot more gay content than most science fiction of the 1970s.  Actually, it's a lot more gay content than most science fiction today.

See also: Xanth; Samuel Delaney.


The Gay Boy of "Soup to Nutz"

Soup to Nutz (2000-) is a newspaper comic strip about a working-class Roman Catholic family, with a truculent, clueless Dad, a faux-cheery Mom, dopey older son Royboy, and self-possessed daughter Babs.  It is ostensibly sent in the contemporary era, but often references the 1970s, with macaroni casseroles, G.I. Joes, and confusing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" with "Tony Danza."

The central character is 6-year old Andrew, a smart, sensitive, boy with gender-atypical interests that constantly startle or offend everyone around him. He lip-synchs to Whitney Houston and the Village People, plays with Barbie dolls, studies ballet (in a tutu).



Referencing gay-favorite The Wizard of Oz, he asks why Dorothy would ever want to leave Oz and return to the oppression of Kansas.

He decides to befriend Peter Pan even though Royboy warns that Peter Pan is a “fairy,” homophobic slang for “gay.

Sometimes Royboy just comes right out and calls him a "fairy."




Other strips suggest that Andrew has same-sex interests as well.  He gets crushes on Justin Bieber and the Brawny  Paper Towel Man.  He gazes in open-mouthed awe at the physique of a muscular superhero.

 He is usually unfazed by the bemusement or contempt of his family and friends.  When Royboy complains,  “You’re not normal.”  Andrew responds: “Why be normal when you can be happy?”
In an interview, cartoonist Rick Stromoski agrees that Andrew might be gay, but refuses positive identification, stating that Andrew is six years old and doesn’t know yet.  Besides, he is popular among both gay and straight men who felt like outsiders because they played with dolls and didn’t like sports.


Mar 11, 2015

The Jonas Brothers: I Wanna Be Like You

Joe Jonas
The Jonas Brothers, consisting of Nick (born 1992), Joe (born 1989, left), and Kevin (born 1987), were already popular performers, recording several albums and appearing on MTV, the Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon --  not to mention the White House -- before Disney took notice around 2006.

But after that the group was a Disney Channel juggernaut, recording new versions of movie classics like "I Want to Be Like You" (from The Jungle Book), appearing on Hannah Montana and Camp Rock, and finally getting two tv series of their own, The Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream (2008-2010) and Jonas (2009-2010).





That didn't keep them from releasing new songs: 14 singles and 16 music videos between 2005 and 2010, plus two more in 2013.














And releasing beefcake photos.  Like Justin Bieber, they drew the special interest of fans looking for random arousal.  Joe seemed especially vulnerable; his moments were tagged "joners."

Like most boy bands, their lyrics were heterosexist, with lots of "girl! girl! girl!"  But some dropped pronouns.  And "I Wanna Be Like You" sounds decidedly homoerotic when it's a man talking about a man:


What I desire is man's red fire
To make my dream come true
Give me the secret, mancub
Clue me what to do
Give me the power of man's red flower
So I can be like you

I wouldn't mind getting a little of that power of man's red flower myself.



The brothers are gay allies.   In an interview with The Advocate in 2012, Nick (left) noted that they loved their gay fans: "They’ve been incredible over the years. My brothers and I totally look forward to meeting them, because they really respond to our style."

In 2013 they appeared on the cover of Out magazine.

Now that their star has faded somewhat, the brothers have moved on to other projects.  Joe has embarked on a solo musical career, Kevin is acting, and Nick is in musical theater, starring in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.  


Summer 1985: Marcus's Beneath-the-Belt Mystery

Even in a gay community as big as West Hollywood, the new kid in town always gets noticed.

I arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 3rd, 1985.  Before July 10th, when I started my new job at Muscle and Fitness, I was cruised many times, received six phone numbers, and went out on two dates.

Marcus was Date #2.

We met on Friday, July 5th, in the Human Resources Department at Paramount Studios; I was waiting to be interviewed for an administrative assistant job, and he was dropping something off.  We chatted, and cruised, and exchanged phone numbers.

Marcus was in his 20s, shorter than me, muscular but a little chunky, African-American with very light skin, freckles, and a hairy chest.

Sounds great, right?  Three of the five traits I find attractive.  I just needed to check on his religiousity and his beneath-the-belt gifts!

Our date was on Saturday, July 6th:

An insider tour of Paramount Studios, followed by dinner at the French Quarter and cruising at the Gold Coast.

Marcus grew up in Kalispell, Montana, a hotbed of white supremacism, machismo, and homophobia: a horrible place for a kid who was quiet, shy, artistic, African-American, and gay.  He found solace in  the Episcopal Church, the the old movies they showed in downtown Kalispell, and the drama club at Glacier High School.  Before the ink was dry on his diploma, he headed out to Los Angeles to become an actor.

Sounds great, right?  I could certainly relate to being a shy, quiet, artistic kid in a terrible small town.  And he was religious, #4 on the list of traits that I find attractive. I just needed to check on #5, his beneath-the-belt gifts.


I can't count Marcus as a celebrity friend.  He had some tv guest spots and some live theater on his resume, but mostly he made do with temp jobs.  Currently he was working as a production assistant for Gimme a Break! 

At the end of the evening, we drove up into the Hollywood Hills, to a weird, eclectic house that Marcus shared with a film producer who may or may not have been his ex-lover.  We sat on the couch by a picture window that looked down on the lights of Hollywood.

Sounds great, right?  Exactly what I thought West Hollywood would be like: gay people everywhere, and lots of connection to the film industry, and a room with a view!

That's when things went wrong.

Time for the end-of-the-date activities!  I leaned in for a kiss.

Marcus pushed me away.

"No one knows what causes AIDS," he said solemnly.


Rather an odd nonsequitor! "Sure they do.  It's the HIV virus,  transmitted in semen and blood."

"They're not sure. Could be any body fluid, like saliva. We have to be safe."

"I'm always safe!" I announced, somewhat offended.  "I always use condoms."

"Condoms for anal and oral both?" Marcus asked pointedly.

"Um...no.  There's really no evidence that HIV is transmitted through oral alone."

"And what about French kissing?  If saliva doesn't do it, a tiny nick or puncture in your mouth will!"

No kissing?  "I've been tested!," I protested. " I'm HIV negative!"

"Those tests are inconclusive."  He touched my shoulder.  "Look -- I used to be out there cruising with the best of them, but when this whole thing stated, I vowed to be celibate until they find a cure."


Celibate?  Suddenly I felt very foolish. Was this supposed to be a just-friends outing?  "Does that mean...um...no dating?"

"Oh, no, we can date," Marcus said.  "There's a lot of fun things to do -- we can play tennis, go bowling, go to movies.  We can even spend the night together.  But no sex or kissing, until they find a cure.  Um...that's ok, isn't it?"

He was talking to the empty space left after I zoomed out of the house, leaving a me-shaped hole in the wall.

I never had a chance to investigate his beneath-the-belt attributes.

But Marcus and I stayed friends, and he introduced me to several celebrities, including an old buddy from his acting class, Michael J. Fox.

See also: Nearly Stabbed by Michael J. Fox's Ex-Lover.

Mar 10, 2015

Spring 2000: Cruised by a Man in Black

I can't write this story while alone in the house.  I have to wait for Troy to get home.  It freaks me out.

When I was living in Manhattan, I always got off at the Christopher Street Station, even though I actually lived closer to 14th Street.  I never got tired of walking past the Stonewall Inn, where gay liberation began, or the Gay Liberation Monument in Christopher Park.

Sometimes there was a Catholic priest walking next to me.

At least I assumed he was a Catholic priest -- he was dressed all in black.

He was in his 20s, shorter than me, with broad shoulders, dark skin, and Asian features.  Very handsome.  He spoke slowly and formally, as if English wasn't his first language.

I could never remember exactly when he approached.  One moment I was walking alone, and the next, he was walking beside me.

When I thought about it, I figured that he was a friend of Andre, who belonged to a Traditional Catholic spiritual community.  But I didn't think about it much.  Everything seemed perfectly ordinary.

As we walked five or six blocks down Christopher Street and the Avenue of the Americas, the priest asked me questions.

Mostly trivial:
"What kind of food is your favorite?"
 "What occupation does your father have?"

Sometimes gay-specific:
"Are there locations where gay people congregate?"
"Why does your government forbid gay people from serving in the military?"

I was pleasantly surprised that a Catholic priest was so gay-friendly.

Sometimes very personal: 
"What is your preferred method of achieving an orgasm?"
"Do you have a preferred size in the penises of your partners?"

But I answered them without hesitation, never even thinking how odd it was for a priest to be asking me about penis sizes as we walked down the Avenue of the Americas together.

When we got to 13th Street, I turned right to go to my apartment, and the priest vanished.  I assumed that he was continuing north to the Church of St. Francis Xavier, but actually I never saw where he went.

He was definitely my type, and I'm particularly interested in priests.  But for some reason I never thought of inviting him out on a date, or for a hook up.

Then one day in the spring of 2000, he invited himself.

When we got to 13th Street, I turned righ, as usual, but the priest continued to walk next to me..  "I am very interested in new experiences," he said.  "If you are free just now, could we go to your room?"

I didn't protest.

When we got to my apartment, the priest led me directly into my bedroom.  Strange, since he had never been there before.

"Would you like a soda?" I asked.  "Or some water?"

"Certainly, if that is customary.  Water, please."

On the way to the kitchen, I thought, "Does he really want to hook up, or am I imagining it?  If I make a move and he's not interested, he'll think all gay men are sexual predators.  But if I don't make a move..."

When I returned, the priest was sitting on the bed.  "Is this your preferred starting location?" he asked.

"Um...sure, but...well, I thought you guys were celibate."

He took the glass of water from my hands and drained it in a few gulps, as if he was very thirsty -- or nervous.  "Oh, no, we can enjoy sexual intimacies with whomever we wish.  We get very few opportunities, however.  There is so much other work to do.  Should I remove my clothing?"

What followed was very unsatisfying.  The priest had a nice physique and respectable beneath-the-belt gifts, but he was singularly inept.

He kissed by opening his mouth as wide as he could.

He just lay there like a statue, responding without emotion, saying nothing except "Am I doing it right?"

He wasn't.

When we were finished, instead of cuddling, he got up and quickly dressed.  "Thank you very much," he said.  "This was very enjoyable."  He headed for the door.

"Shouldn't we exchange telephone numbers?"

The priest looked surprised.  "If it is customary."  I gave him my card, and he wrote a name and a telephone number on a piece of paper.  Then I walked him to the door, and he vanished into the cool Manhattan evening.

I never saw him again.

The name he gave was "Mario Sanchez, OSB" and the telephone number was for the Department of Religion at Columbia University, but there was no one by that name on the faculty.

OSB is the abbrevation for the Benedictine Order.  There are several Benedictine monasteries in New York (none in Manhattan), and the monks wear black cassocks.

But then, why the mysterious appearances and disappearances?  The bizarre questions?  The "we aren't celibate."

Later I read Jenny Randles' The Truth Behind the Men in Black, about the weird men dressed in old-fashioned black suits who question people who see UFOs.  They ask bizarre questions and behave oddly, yet no one finds them unusual at the time. (They were popularized in a series of movies starring Will Smith).

Maybe the priest was an alien-human hybrid conducting research on gay people.

Or just a Catholic monk with a strange cruising technique.

See also: The Homophobic Demon and The Y2K Bug

The First Gay Couple on Children's TV

Children's cartoons are a vast wasteland, not only erasing gay people from the world, but erasing any hint of family structures other than heterosexual husband-wife-and-kids.  Think of Fairly Oddparents, Doug, Hey Arnold, The Wild Thornberries, As Told by Ginger, The Proud Family, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, 

Rugrats had a single Dad whose wife had died.

Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends had a single Mom, husband not mentioned.

Phineas and Ferb belonged to  a blended family, other parents not mentioned.

And that's about it.

Live-action children's tv doesn't fare much better.

Drake and Josh belonged to a blended family, but the other parents were not mentioned.

ICarly had a girl being raised by her older brother, her parents not mentioned and presumed dead.

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had the twins being raised by a divorced mom.

And that's about it.

So Clarence (2013-) on the Cartoon Network is groundbreaking.

1. The titular character, the chubby, cheerful Clarence, lives with his mother and her live-in boyfriend, Chad, who appears to be a caveman or Sasquatch.

Cohabitating heterosexuals?  That has never been seen on children's tv before, ever!

2. Clarence's best friend, the square-headed Jeff (voiced by Sean Giambrone of The Goldbergs) lives with two Moms!

A lesbian couple?  That has never been seen on children's tv before, ever!

I don't count the single scene on the last episode of Disney's Good Luck, Charlie, in which two Moms appear briefly, discomfort the heterosexuals, and then vanish.

Jeff's parents are a butch-femme lesbian couple.  E.J., who wears masculine-coded clothing and has a square head, like Jeff has been referenced in two episodes.

She has a major role in "Jeff Wins," in which Boomer prepares for a cooking contest.

Sue, who has red hair and feminine-coded clothing, appears only in "Jeff Wins."

Clarence is not the least surprised to discover that Jeff has two Moms.  That bridge was passed long ago.



E.J. is voiced by Lea DeLaria (left), a well-known lesbian comedian with screen roles including  Friends, The Drew Carey Show, More Tales of the City, Will & Grace, Californication, and Orange is the New Black.

Sue is voiced by Tig Notaro, a lesbian stand-up comic who is writing a memoir about her childhood in Mississippi, her comedy career, and her battle with cancer.

Jeffs Moms have not been referenced in the second season; perhaps they will vanish into oblivion.

But it's a start.

See also: The First Gay Kiss on Children's TV

Mar 9, 2015

My Top 10 Reader Suggestions

I always write about my real memories, but in order to change incidents into stories, I leave things out, switch things around, make up conversations, change details.  So what you read isn't exactly what happened.  And the guys in the stories like to tell me about it.  I often get emails with corrections, complaints, and suggestions.

  Here are my 10 biggest suggestions;

1. Cousin Joe,  my older cousin, whose Kielbasa+ I glimpsed in the bathroom when I was seven years old. "I didn't think you were gay when you said 'The President's not cute!'  I had no idea until you moved to West Hollywood!  But thanks for the free publicity -- tell your female readers that I'm single and available!"



2. Viju, my best friend from Indiana University, who took me to my first gay bar and competed with me over pecs: "You make it sound like all we ever did was have sex!  Why don't you tell them about the time we climbed onto the roof of Ballantine Hall and almost got arrested?"

3. Dick, my old bully, who I hooked up with at Christmastime during my terrible year in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas:  "I didn't live anywhere near Dewey's Candy Store, and I was never into guns!  Why don't you tell them about my relationship with Jack?  We've been together for thirteen years."



4. My celebrity boyfriend: "You make me sound too superficial -- it was a mutual breakup!  But thanks for not outing me!  By the way, why didn't you put me on your Sausage List?  I'm bigger than most of those guys!"

5. Ryan, with whom I had the Worst Date in West Hollywood History:  "We only did about half of those things!  And who says it was the worst date in West Hollywood history?  I had a great time!"

7. Blake, the Manhattan opera buff who was the subject of my "roommate switch": "Was that real?  I had no idea that you were so devious!  And you are wrong about Yuri and I -- we dated for about three months!  By the way, I should go much farther down on your Sausage List.  I'm definitely a Kovbasa+!"



8. Barney. "There were eight guys at that hurricane party, not just five!  Yuri never had to spend the night with you and your date. And why didn't you put me on your Sausage List?  I'm bigger than most of the guys on it!"




9. Chad, the waiter at the Neptune who was living with the Satyr in Upstate New York:  "You got the relationship all wrong.  We joked around a lot, but we were just roommates, not some weird houseboy thing."

10. The Rapper, the ex-lover of the crying Truck Driver in Upstate New York: "I never wanted to become a rapper -- that was just for fun. I'm mostly into jazz, with a little classical. And why didn't you put me on your Sausage List?  I'm bigger than most of those guys!  Tell you readers I'm a Mortadella+++!"