Dec 3, 2016

Top Coming Out Stories: Louie the Lilac to "Getting Some Cocks"

During the 1980s and 1990s, every time you met a new person, you exchanged coming out stories.

It doesn't happen anymore.  No one offers, and if you ask, the under-30 crowd says "What? Oh, I've always known that gay people exist.  My parents had gay friends over all the time."

But in the 1980s and 1990s, we all grew up in a world where gay people were never mentioned, heterosexual desire assumed universal..  It was interesting to hear how someone gradually pieced together clues, measured evidence, and concluded that "it is not raining upstairs."

It was a bonding experience.  It gave us a sense of camaraderie.

So here, preserved from the dark, quiet days, are the most interesting of the five hundred or so coming-out stories I've been told (Part 1):

Age 5: The Homosexuals

One day I was playing in the family room, and my father walked through with one of his friends.  I heard him say: "...and we need to do something about the problem of homosexuals...."  I didn't know what a "homosexual" was, but I knew that it had something to do with me.

Age 6: Louie the Lilac

I was watching the old Batman tv show, the episode where Milton Berle played Louie the Lilac, a villain who dressed in a lavender suit.  I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world.  I asked my older brother, "Can I get a suit like that for Christmas?"  He laughed and said "Only if you're a lilac!"  Ever since then,  I associated the word "lilac" with being gay.

Age 8: The Babysitter

When I was little, I had a male babysitter, a teenage boy from the neighborhood, and I liked to sit on his lap.  I liked the warmth, the closeness -- and the feel of his basket!  One night I overheard him talking to his friend: "Yeah, the kid's very affectionate.  If I didn't know better, I'd think he had homosexual tendencies."

So "homosexual tendencies" meant "you like to sit on guys' laps."

Age 12: The Porn Magazines

When I was around 12 years old, my friends and I were walking through a wooded area near my house, when we saw some porn magazines that someone left lying on the ground.  We started leafing through them, the other guys gushing over the naked ladies, you know, when I saw an article called "Inside a Gay Bar."  I didn't know what "gay" meant, but I returned later to tear out the article and take it home.  It was about me!

Age 13: The Sleepover

I was spending the night with my best friend, sleeping in the same bed, and in the middle of the night I woke up to him...well, fondling me.

"Hey, what are you doing?" I whispered, shocked.

"It's ok," he said.  "All the guys do it.  It doesn't mean you're queer if you think about girls."

So I tried to think about girls, but I kept imagining guys.  That meant I was queer....

Age 13: The Alternative Prom

One day my mother, who taught high school English, came home and started complaining to my father: "You'll never guess what those idiots on the school board are up to now -- an alternative prom!  I can't believe they would pander to the deviants like that!"

I had never heard of gay people before, so I asked "What's a deviant?"

Mom said "You don't need to know.  It has nothing to do with you."

But I persisted, and finally she said, "A deviant is a pervert, a man who wants to go to the prom with another man."

Age 20: Getting Some "Cocks"

In the service I was stationed down in New Orleans, and when we had leave,  one of the guys in my barracks said "Let's go down to Bourbon Street and get us some cocks!"

I didn't realize that there were guys in the world who liked guys, so I said "Cool!  Let's go!"

Turns out that "cock" is Cajun slang for "girls," sort of like "chicks."

But the "damage" was done.  I knew that gay people were out there somewhere.  I just had to find them.

See also: Two Men Hugging.

Dec 1, 2016

The Top 12 Hunks of "Star Wars"

Star Wars, the science fiction franchise about political machinations and mystic knights in "a galaxy far, far away," began as a one-shot movie in 1977.  It has since blossomed into seven movies (with two more in the works), tv series, and a universe-full of tie-ins -- plus a remarkable amount of beefcake.  Here are the top 10 beefcake stars of the Star Wars movies.

The First Trilogy

1. In which two jedi warriors intervene into a trade dispute on a distant planet and meanwhile meet Annakin Skywalker, a boy with special jedi powers.  He grows into an impestuous teenager  (played by Hayden Chistiansen, left), intervenes into an attempted galactic secession, and eventually goes over to the Dark Side, becoming the evil Darth Vader.

2. Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, one of the jedi warriors who mentors Annakin Skywalker.  The other is Obi Wan Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor, who didn't make the list.

3. Ahmed Best  as Jar-Jar Binks, the grotesque comic relief character.  Although Jar-Jar is computer generated, Ahmed provided the the voice, and the character's presence and movements for the other actors to play against.

4. Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka, the captain of the queen's guard.

The Second Trilogy

5. In which young, impetuous Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) joins the rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire, run by the evil Darth Vader, and helps destroy the super-weapon called the Death Star.   Luke eventually discovers that Darth Vader is his father, loses a hand, and destroys the Empire.

6. Harrison Ford as Han Solo,a rogue spaceship captain who grudgingly helps Luke.

7. David Prowse as Darth Vader.  He's always in a black suit and wearing a mask, so we never see him.  James Earl Jones provides the voice.  When he's finally unmasked, Sebastian Shaw provides the face.  Still, there's a muscular former bodybuilder in that Darth Vader suit.

8. Billy Dee Williams as Lando Carissian, a wealthy benefactor to the resistance.

9. The Third Trilogy, in which a new group of rebels arise, called the First Order, but this time they're the bad guys.  They're run by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who happens to be the son of Princess Leia and Han Solo from the previous trilogy.  Only one movie has appeared to date.

10. John Boyega as Finn, a reformed stormtrooper who joins forces with the Resistance (a paramilitary group dedicated to squashing the First Order).

11. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, a resistance fighter who buddy bonds with Finn.

12. Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, one of the First Order warriors.

Nov 29, 2016

Porgy and Bess: Black Beefcake Folk Opera

I never saw "the American folk opera" Porgy and Bess (1935) before my celebrity boyfriend took me in the spring of 1987, though we played some of the songs in orchestra in high school. They're fun, though sometimes tainted by casual heterosexism.  In "It' Ain't Necessarily So," we hear the Biblical story of Methuselah, who lived 900 years:

Who calls dat livin', when no gal will give in, to no man who's lived 900 years.

It's really not so much an opera as a Broadway musical (and there are musical versions), so it has the standard obsession over "love! love! love!"   But what other musical is going to give you blasphemy, drugs, murder, prostitution, beefcake, and gay symbolism?

Set in the Catfish Row neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina, it stars Bess, a drug addict and prostitute who is looked down upon in the community.  When her pimp, Crown, goes on the lam after killing someone, Bess needs a new man. She selects disabled beggar Porgy.  They fall in love.

Meanwhile innocent bystander Peter is arrested for the murder. 

Many fishermen are killed in a storm. 

Their women mourn them.

Crown returns, rapes Bess, and is murdered.  Porgy is arrested.  Released, he returns, rich from a crap game, but Bess has run  off with oily drug dealer Sportin' Life.

With agony and bitter tears all around, the curtain falls.

And the end result, other than angst and sadness?

A mostly black cast displaying a lot of beefcake.  Muscular, semi-nude Joshua Henry (top photo, from Dream Girls), Norm Lewis (second photo), Donovan Singletary (left).  Black beefcake is rare on screen, and even more rare on stage, except maybe in productions of The Wiz.

And gay symbolism: every woman has her man, and mourns him when he is killed or put in prison, which always happens. Men are always unfaithful to their women.  Relationships are always temporary; "a woman is a sometime thing."

The moral: heterosexual romance is always doomed.

 What remains are men together, singing joyfully as they play craps or head out to the sea in ships.

What remains are women together, singing mournfully as they comfort each other over their losses.

Same-sex romance is, in the end, valued.

Nov 28, 2016

Dean Stockwell: Gay Subtexts and Homophobic Texts

In a career spanning 65 years, Dean Stockwell has played everything, from cute kid to elderly statesman, including many projects with homoromances and/or homophobia.

As a boy:

1. The Boy with Green Hair (1948), a classic tale of the impact of being different in the ultra-conformist Cold War era.

2. Kim (1950), a retelling of the Kipling book about a teenage secret agent in colonial India, who gets a rather overt crush on adventurer Mahbub Ali (Errol Flynn).

As a young man:

3. Compulsion (1959), Alfred Hitchcock's homophobic thriller about gay murderers, loosely based on the 1920s Leopold-Loeb case.  Judd Steiner (Dean) and Artie Stein (Bradford Dilman) kill a young boy for fun.  Dean was also in the Broadway play, opposite Roddy McDowell.

4. Sons and Lovers (1960).  An adaption of the D. H. Lawrence novel. A boy in love with his mother (a 1950s trope for "gay") finds mature hetero-romance with a woman.

5. Psych-Out (1968).  Dean (right) has a small part as a hippie who grooves on Jack Nicholson.

6. The Loners (1972).  A hippie couple, Stein (Dean) and Alan (Todd Sussman), plus a girl, are on the lam after killing a cop.  In 1972, this meant that they were counterculture heroes.

In middle age:

7. Blue Velvet (1986).  He plays Ben, the prissy gay psychopath who is holding Dorothy's son hostage, and orchestrates the various characters' attempts to seduce and destroy each other.

8. Quantum Leap (1989-93). Dean played Al, the holographic mentor/best buddy of time-slipping scientist Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula). There were two homophobic episodes.

9. Rites of Passage (1989).  A homophobic father (Dean) inadvertently pushes his son into the arms of a psycho killer.

With all the homophobic texts and homoromantic subtexts, it was difficult to determine if Dean is an ally or an enemy.  His biography doesn't say, but it does point out that in the 1970s he tried to avoid the draft by pretending to be gay.
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