Mar 10, 2017

The Real Gay Characters of "The Real O'Neals"

What happens when a "perfect" Irish Catholic family finds out that they're not perfect after all?
Mom and Dad are divorcing.
Oldest son has an eating disorder.
Daughter has some kind of psychological issue.
Youngest son is gay.

Got it, being gay is inferior, a "problem" like having an eating disorder or a psychological issues.  Can't be a "perfect" family with a gay kid.

With that intensely homophobic beginning, I gave the first season of The Real O'Neils a miss.  But it keeps getting praised by the Trevor Project, so I watched a couple of episodes.

Former teen idol Jay R. Ferguson plays the hapless dad.

Matt Shively, last seen on the Disney Channel, plays the dimwitted older brother.

His problem, and his sister's problem, are not mentioned.  The plotlines are about the parents living together and dating other people while divorced, and about the gay son.

His first gay coffee house.
Starting a gay club at school.
Hosting a Halloween party.
Joining a gym.

The flamboyant stereotype son is played by Noah Galvin.

Not too great.  Here's why his crush (Sean Grandillo) didn't come out:

"Do you like avocados?"
"Why didn't you tell me you like avocados?"

Liking dudes is not nearly the same thing as liking avocados.

People don't want to kill you because you like avocados.
Parents don't kick you out of the house because you like avocados.
You don't have to worry every moment if you will become the victim of a hate crime for liking avocados.

Here's a pic of Sean Grandillo.

But there haven't been that many cringe-inducing moments, and I like the lengths the conservative parents go through to try to welcome their son.

And there's substantial beefcake.  Matt Shively and  Noah Crawford (left) aren't averse to shirtless shots.

Neither is Chris Pipkin as one of his classmates.

Plus I've noticed an occasional bulge that no one remembered to censor.

See also: The Real Bulges of the Real O'Neals.

Mar 7, 2017

Ryan Cooley: Queer as Folk

Born in 1988, Canadian actor Ryan Cooley has appeared in several gay- and lesbian-subtext programs, such as I was a Sixth Grade Alien (1999-2001), as the alien, with future bodybuilder Daniel Clark as his human buddy, and the Disney Channel's Color of Friendship (2000), about a white South African girl and her black American friend.

Also four tv programs with gay characters:

1. The sci-fi series Lexx (1997-2002), about intergalactic explorers, including the bisexual cluster lizard Zev/Xev (Eva Habermann, Xenia Seaberg).  He played the psychopathic schoolboy Digby in a three-episode story arc.

2. The gay-themed Queer as Folk (2000-2005): Hank, son of Dr. David Cameron (Chris Potter).

3. Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2007): Class clown J.T. Yorke, who likes girls, sells drugs, and is murdered.  Several gay characters.

3. Lost Girl (2010-), about a succubus (girl who draws energy from her sex partners) trying to live a normal life.  Several lesbian and bisexual characters.

Actually, almost all of Ryan's on-screen appearances have had gay texts or subtexts.  As well as frequent shirtless shots.   But he's never played a gay character himself. Wonder why.

Well, let's see who he follows on twitter: Jerry Seinfeld, Tiger Woods, Dick Van Dyke, Chuck Norris, Don Rickles, Charlie Sheen, Jim Carey, and Ryan Seacrest.  No supermodels in the bunch, but not a lot of beefcake models, either.

I'd have to judge this one as inconclusive.

Western Wind: How We Learned that Literature Was About Heterosexuals

August 28th, 1978, the first day of my freshman year at Augustana College.  I was 17 years old, newly out.   I didn't know any gay people, but I hoped that would change.  Surely at a big, modern college, there would be a mention of gay people somewhere, in class, on the quad, in a student group.

My first class was Introduction to Literature, at 9:00 am: 30 students, almost all freshmen.  The professor, an elderly white-haired woman, passed out the syllabus and told us about the textbook: Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry, by John Frederick Nims.   It was first published in 1974, and had become the go-to book for college English instructors.

Then she read the first poem, "Western Wind," anonymous, from the Middle Ages:

Western wind, where wilt thou blow?
The small rain down can rain.
Christ!  If my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again.

"The first two lines are easy to understand -- it's raining and windy.  The western wind always brings rain.  What about the last two?"

"The guy wants to get laid!"  a jock exclaimed.

The class erupted into laughter, but the professor said "That's exactly right.  This is a poem about a man missing his lady, and all of the pleasures she offers."

The first moment of my first class of my first day in college was about heterosexual sex!

And it didn't end there.  Poems about heterosexual sex, heterosexual romance, boys gazing at girls, girls gazing at boys.

The sole purpose of literature was to express heterosexual longing, with not a single moment of same-sex intimacy, or a single acknowledgement of the possibility of same-sex desire.

It's been nearly 40 years since that long-ago class.  John Frederick Nims died in 1999.  But Western Wind, now in the fifth edition, is still the go-to book for the ubiquitous Introduction to Literature class.

But surely in modern editions there's an acknowledgement of same-sex desire, some masculine beauty, some references to gay people?

I checked.  A lot of William Carlos Williams, E.E. Cummings, Robert Frost, and Ezra Pound. The horrifyingly incomprehensible "Emperor of Ice Cream" and "Our Bog is Dood."

A few poems by gay authors, but none that mention same-sex desire or relationships.  Sappho's is entitled "There's a Man":

There's a man I really believe is in heaven ---over there, that man. 
To be sitting near you,
knee to knee so close to you, hear your voice, your cozy low laughter,
close to you - enough in the very thought to put my heart at once in palpitation.

They found the one Sappho poem that wasn't about lesbian desire.

A sample of titles:
"Loose Women"
"Blue Girls"
"Upon Julia's Clothes"
"To Helen"
"To a Fat Lady Seen from the Train"
"A Poem for Emily"
"A Woman"

Heterosexual desire abounding.

John Frederick Nims, by the way, wrote about:

Woman mostly, as winter moonlight sees,
Impetuous midnight, and the dune’s dark trees.

The cover photo, with a half-naked man (the titular wind), might provide a bit of beefcake.  But he's carrying a bare-breasted woman in his arms.

And it's actually part of Boticelli's Birth of Venus (1484-86), the famous painting of the emblem of hetero-romance rising from a clamshell:

Introduction to Literature classes are still entirely heterosexist.

Maybe I'd have better luck with the Eastern Wind.

Mar 6, 2017

Bullfighter Beefcake

Bullfighting, known in Spanish as corrida de toros, or "running of the bulls" is a spectacle of man against animal, or rather male against male, since both the toreros and the bull evoke powerful masculine energy.

It dates back to ancient Roman times, when devotees of the god Mithras sacrificed bulls, but the modern bullfight, with the torero on foot, dates only to the 18th century.    It is popular in Spain, southern France, and the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America.

Juan Belmonte (1892-1962) is credited with developing the popular bullfighting technique where you stand nearly motionless and invite the bull to approach, moving out of the way at the last moment.

The bullfight is a highly stylized ritual, with three parts and multiple players, including picadores, banderilleros,  and various assistants, but the star is the matador.

The chief torero, the matador, wears a traije de luces based on the flamboyantly feminine costume of the 19th century dandy: glittering sequins, gold thread, tassles, and ultra-tight tights that place his sex organs in obvious full view (most too explicit to show here).  What Ernest Hemingway, in his classic Death in the Afternoon, called a "male figure complicated by femaleness."

The bull's sex organs are in full view, too.  Its penis when erect is 2-3 feet long.  And it's often erect as it charges the matador, making you think that it intends a sexual assault.

Thus the spectacle becomes a ritual triumph of civilization over savagery, artifice over nature, complicated by gay symbolism.

Although toreros live in an ultra-masculine world, surrounded by other men, most aren't "really" gay.

But the spectacle has more than a few gay fans.  A number of toreros have posed for gay magazines, and in 2009 a European company struck a deal with matador Joselito Ortega to advertise an energy drink called Gay Up on his cape.

Purists were outraged -- not because of the gay ad, because he was lowering himself to product placement.

There are bullfighter bulges on Tales of West Hollywood.

Also check out the anti-bullfighting protests, including the Running of the Nudes in Pamplona.

Mar 5, 2017

A Gaggle of Josephs

It's theater season again, and that means beefcake.  Dozens of high school and college theater departments will be finding the most buffed megahunk who can carry a tune and casting him in Joseph in the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, knowing that he will spend most of the play out of the dreamcoat.

I saw a high school version the other night.  Joseph kept his shirt on, but the guards were rather buffed (see: The Best Date in the History of the Plains).

Here are the top 10 Josephs, rated by their chests rather than their acting ability.

1. Casey Daniel of the Valley Youth Theater shows some nice abs.

2. Lee Mead, who starred in the 2007 West End revival, has a face that draws attention from his pecs.

3. Michael Cicirelli of the Chelsea Youth Theater in Connecticut gets points for agreeing to appear shirtless.

4.  Ben Thacker of Anoka High School gets points for showing his navel.

5. Anthony Fedorov, former member of the boy band 7th Heaven, has pecs and abs to spare.

More after the break.

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