Sep 16, 2023

"School of Rock": Goth Drag, a gay-vague kid, a homophobic kid, and Demi Lovato.

 


Some 13 years after School of Rock (2003), a teencom version premiered on Nickelodeon: School of Rock (2016-2018), with Tony Cavalero playing Dewey, a failed musician turned middle school teacher with a special interest in winning the "Battle of the Bands."

 In 2016 Nickelodeon was still promoting the "all kids are heterosexual" myth, so I doubt that there is any LGBTQ representation. But I'll review the episode where Dewey dresses in drag as a scary Goth lady.  It may be Episode 1.7.

The NSFW version, with some naked guys (over 18, of course) is on Righteous Gemstones Beefcake and Boyfriends.

Scene 1: Four kids and Dewey performing, while the others in the classroom watch -- from behind them?   Dewey explains that rock is about showmanship more than music: strut your stuff!  Freddie (Ricardo Hurtado, top photo) does a guitar zing.  Lawrence (Aidan Miner, below) demonstrates that he can play the keyboard with his butt, so Dewey calls him "Lawrence von Butthoven." Emphasizing one's butt is a queer code.  Summer (Jade Pettyjohn) has her face painted onto her tambourine. Lead singer Tomika is hiding.  

Dewey demonstrates the signature moves of Mick Jagger and  Miley Cyrus (a rock musician?).  Zack (Lance Lim) asks him not to twerk. It would be too erotic for middle school, anyway, but interesting that the boy emphasizes that he definitely doesn't want to see a man being erotic.  You got a problem with gay men, Zack?

Scene 2: Dewey wants to know why Tomika was hiding during practice: she's embarrassed by the funny faces she makes while performing. He points out that her favorite singer, Demi Lovato, is shy in real life, but when she goes on stage, she becomes a confident rocker (These guys have a different definition of "rock").

To boost her confidence, Dewey claims that he knows Lovato and will call and tell her all about Tomika.  Whoops, he's doesn't even know who Demi Lovato is!  He's in trouble now!


Scene 3:
Zack and Freddie ooze with horniness over Tomika's new style.  Lawrence thinks they're talking about him (gay joke, har har): "Thanks.  I went with my Superman underwear today."

"We can't actually see your underwear."  Would things be different if you could see it, guys?

Scene 4:  Dewey teaches science, too.  The textbook says that he was wrong: lightning is not caused by two angels having a fistfight.  I'm sure he was joking. After five seconds of science, they scoot the desks aside and start practicing. The newly confident Tomika wants them to play Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack."  

Lawrence asks if it's cool for dudes to like Lovato (that is, does liking Lovato mean that you're gay). They assure him that it's fine (e.g., heterosexual).

Tomika tells the band that Dewey and Lovato are besties, and hang out together all the time.  "Sure, when she's in town," Dewey says, hoping that she's far away.  Of course, she happens to be in town, playing the Texas Memorial.  This show is set in Texas?  Ugh, I spent the worst year of my life in Hell-for-Certain, Texas.  That's enough to get a F grade.

The band pleads with Dewey to get Lovato to listen to them play.  Like, sure, even if they were friends, the big star wouldn't want to spend her time off reviewing a middle school band.  She'd want to see the sights, if there are any in...ugh, Texas.

Scene 5: Dewey at Lovato's hotel, trying to bribe the desk clerk with "a prescription for fungal medicine."  Lawrence happens to be staying there; he's on his way to a couple's massage -- with his Mom.  "Gay men are all in love with their mother." Rather a homophobic queer code, but I'll take it.

Scene 6:  Tomika has turned aggressive and demanding: they've practiced the song 15 times, but it's still not good enough.  Plus their outfits and props look like they belong in a middle school.  Well, to be fair, Lawrence doesn't actually play his keyboard.  He just mashes his hands down on several keys at once. 

  They try it with disco ball motorcycle helmets, Tomika emerging from a barrel of ink, and a wind machine that destroys everything.  Instantaneous props!  I'm in a 1950s sitcom.  Tomika screams that they're not worthy of her great song.


Scene 7:
The band and three non-speaking characters, including Damarion Hall, eating in the cafeteria and refusing to let Tomika join them. The diva assumes it's because they are upset over not being good enough.

Scene 8: Dewey is rushing to the men's room, figeting, when Tomika stops him. Great, now I'm thinking about Tony Cavalero's penis. She wants to know why everyone in the band is angry, when she's just trying to push them into being worthy of her.  He suggests that she not try to be exactly like Lovato: be brave like her, but still Tomika. 

Tomika's friend was eavesdropping, and tells the guys why she is acting so weird: she's afraid of looking silly on stage. 


Scene 9:
  The solution: practice hard so they'll be worthy...wait, isn't the solution for everyone to make silly faces while performing, so she knows it isn't a big deal?  But no, they just practice without her until they're good enough.  Weird!  And what happened to the plotline of Dewey pretending to know Demi Lovato?  

Ok, here we go: Dewey comes in wearing Goth drag.  The kids are all shocked.  He swishes around, pretending to be Demi Lovato, but they see through his disguise instantly.  Zack: "I had a nightmare exactly like this once."  Yes, Zack, gay men give you nightmares, we get it.

Dewey comes clean: he doesn't really know Demi Lovato.  But as it turns out, Lawrence does: "I met her at the hotel. We're breakfast buddies.  She said we could get tickets to her show anytime."  So, why didn't you mention this before?  Oh, right, everyone forgot about the A Plot.

Whoops, her last show is tonight, and it's starting soon, in the middle of a school day!  They rush to the van.  Tomika stays behind to tell Dewey how much she appreciated his help.  He starts to cry, comments that he should have gone with the waterproof mascara, and tells himself to "Man up!"  The end.  Darn, I thought for sure the real Demi Lovato would interact with Dewey in drag. 


Beefcake:
None.  Huerta bulked up later.  Here's Kendall Schmidt, who played Justin in four episodes.

Heterosexism: Every character is involved in one or more heterosexual romances during the course of the series, but not here.

Gay Subtexts: Awareness of gay men informs the jokes throughout. 

Zack displays a homophobic discomfort.  

Lawrence plays the "is he or isn't he?" game.

 Dewey merely draws attention to himself as a sexual being. 

My Grade: Well, it's a Nickelodeon teencom: don't get your hopes up.  It missed some obvious jokes, and where the heck is Demi Lovato?  But the many gay references pushed it up. B-.

Don't forget to check out the NSFW version.

Sep 15, 2023

"Jellystone!": Closeting, Transphobia, and Yogi Bear

 


The early Hanna Barbara cartoon stars -- Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound,  the Flintstones, Jonny Quest (and Race Bannon --sigh)  -- were ubiquitous in my childhood in the 1960s.  I don't remember much about their cartoons, but they appeared on an endless supply of toys and games.  There have been many, many parodies, revisions, and rehashes over the years.  Most recently, Jellystone!  (2021-22) puts all of them -- including the obscure ones you've never heard of -- into the same small town, for "slice of life"-style adventures.  There were virtually no female characters in the Hanna-Barbara universe, so some of them have had a gender change.  I heard that there is some gay inclusivity, including Jonny Quest and Hadji as a canonical gay couple.  So I watched the episode in which the two own a bowling alley.

Intro: Establishing shot of the town of Jellystone, built in Swiss chalet style, with the inhabitants in a parade:  Huckleberry Hound, Yogi and Boo Boo, and so on, oddly animated but recognizable from the 1960s.  The characters who have turned female all have eyelashes, a standard signifier in animation since the 1930s. Suddenly a character I don't recognize causes the buildings to all fall over in domino style.  

Scene 1: Doggie Daddy, who still talks like Jimmy Durante, pushing his now-female  child Augie Doggie in a baby carriage, even though he knows that she is 11 years old.  She doesn't mind.  They stop for a kiss break. As she walks over to a snack cart for a sandwich, he's overcome by worry. A  tad over-protective.  

Scene 2: Yogi, Boo Boo, and Captain Caveman approach Doggie Daddy and ask him to a "grownups only" bowling night.  What, exactly, do they have planned?  He wants to go, but he's afraid of leaving Augie with a babysitter.  

Scene 3: Doggie Daddy's house, which is a lighthouse.  He has hired Jabberjaws, now female with a Southern accent, to babysit: "Don't worry -- it will be fun.  We'll talk about boys."  How does she know that the 11-year old is interested in boys?

Doggie Daddy can't manage to leave Augie, so he brings her to the bowling alley disguised as an "adult friend," Dave. Adding a moustache makes her unrecognizable, in spite of the eyelashes.


Scene 4:
Bowling.  Augie/Dave is bad at it, but  fits in by discussing stock options with Baba Louie (now female), and braiding Captain Caveman's hair.  He seems to be complaining that a guy he dated was inadequate in bed: "he said he would kabunga, but he barely even kawunga-ed."

When Augie/Dave finally knocks over a pin, Doggie Daddy kissses him.  The guys look on, shocked, angry -- are they homophobic, or do they suspect the deception?    Doggie Daddy explains that he kisses all of his adult friends, so they line up to be kissed.  I guess they're not homophobic  He is disgusted by the idea of kissing guys, so he tries to rush off.  They convince him to stay.


Scene 5:
Johnny and Hadji, now adults, drop a disco ball so the bowlers can dance.  They aren't named, and don't speak, so you'll only know who they are by reading the plot synopsis.  There's no indication that they are romantic partners.

Scene 6: Morning.  Making breakfast, Doggie Daddy muses that last night was horrible, but he won't have to do it again.  "Goodbye, Dave."  But Augie comes downstairs in her Dave moustache.  She announces that she is going to brunch -- as Dave.  Daddy is shocked and horrified.  He can't deal with having a nonbinary or trans kid!   

Always use the names and pronouns that people prefer.  "Augie" is a deadname.  He goes by Dave now.

A montage of Dave saying goodbye to go to an estate sale, out for tapas, and to watch the football game.  Doggie Daddy screams that he's lost his daughter!  But you've gained a son.  And maybe he was never a daughter at all.

Scene 7:  The bowling alley.  Ok, it's Quest Bowling, with the same font used for the old show, so fans will know that they are Johnny and Hadji -- if they ever show up again.  Dave is playing "Duck, duck, goose" with the gang.  

Doggie Daddy appears and announces: "Until today, I thought that my life was a bowl of cereal, with those little marshmallows in them.  But I realized that one of those marshmallows is actually..."  Something phallic?  Are you going to be accepting of Dave's gender identity?  Nope:  "A booger named Dave! I am not going to take this and pretend that everything is ok!  It's not!"  Way transphobic, Daddy. 

He challenges David to Hock-Ma, a mega-bowling game.  (Johnny and Hadji appear again to set it up).  "If I win, you promise to go back to being a girl. If I lose, I'll go live in that grave over there."  You're going to commit suicide rather than face having a trans kid?

The guys tell him that he's acting like a jackass, so Doggie Daddy loses deliberately.  But instead of finally accepting his son, he goes to live in the grave: "That's it!  I've lost my daughter forever!," he says in tears.   So Augie drops the moustache and goes back to being a girl.  The end.

What...no!  Boo!  What kind of message does that send about gender diversity?  Doggie Daddy should have accepted his child, boy or girl.  

And what about Johnny and Hadji.  The writers tweeted that they couldn't be explicit about the couple, but "in our minds they are happily married." So you can have gay characters as long as no one watching the show has any idea that they are gay. 

My Grade: F-.

See also: Yogi Bear and Boo Boo.

Sep 14, 2023

"The Stalker": How many pervs can one small town hold?

  


I heard that J. Gaven Wilde, who plays Young Jesse on The Righteous Gemstones, wrote, directed, and stars in a movie about a cannibal stalking South Carolina.  It might be interesting to see the work of a young screenwriter.  Besides, isn't every cast member contractually required to perform only in movies with gay characters or gay subtexts? 

 So I looked it up:  Stalker (2020) on Amazon Prime.  Or so I thought....

Scene 1: A scary brutalist office building.  Bad boss Steve (Chad Ayers) calls his wife with an scheme to get out of their financial problems: fire Marc and steal his bonus!  We don't see Marc's face or hear his voice as Steve tells him that a woman filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, so he's fired.  Wait -- wouldn't Marc contact human resources, which would want to interview the woman, and Steve's story would fall apart instantly?

As Marc storms out, Steve chortles with glee over his villainy.

Since there's a bare butt (not Wilde's), I'm contractually obligated to post the full review on Righteous Gemstones Beefcake and Boyfriends.

 

It's a Man's World: A Gay Threesome from the 1960s


 Speaking of Ted Bessell, before That Girl, he starred in It’s a Man’s World (1962-63) as Tom-Tom, a college student obsessed by Beat poetry and jazz, both emblematic of the multisexual bohemian subcultures of the 1950’s.  












Tom-Tom lives on a houseboat with his teenage brother Howie (Michael Burns, right) and boyfriend Wes (Glenn Corbett, above, who by the way was bisexual, and appeared in Physique Pictorial under the name Glenn Robinson).

But the couple is not happy; they are always arguing about chores and money.  One night Tom-Tom can’t take it any more.  He wanders into a waterfront tavern, where newly-arrived country boy Vern (Randy Boone, left) is playing the guitar. 

In perhaps the first gay pick-up in television history, the two exchange suspicious glances and then knowing grins.  The next scene shows them returning to the houseboat to spend the night together, and in the morning Tom-Tom tells Wes that it was not just a bar pick-up – Vern is moving in.  



Wes gets somewhat snippy about this new threat to his dominance, but soon he decides that having a cute farmboy around might be fun, and the episode ends with the trio splashing about in the water, the first gay three-way relationship in television history.

This series was before my time, and I only saw one episode, thanks to an ebay collector.  Unfortunately, according to tvobscurities.com, later episodes backed away from the gay subtext -- really more of a text -- and gave them girlfriends.

See also: That Girl: Will and Grace for the 1960s; and Get Your Beefcake on Route 66

What is a Danny Thomas?

February 6th, 1969, a cold, snowy Thursday.  I am eight years old.  The family is watching a lot of tv about girls:  The Flying Nun, That Girl, Bewitched. 

The Flying Nun is interesting because it's about nuns -- Catholics -- and Nazarenes are supposed to run away in horror.  But Mom and Dad don'tseem to care if we watch.  Also the Skipper from Gilligan's Island visits as Sister Bertrille's uncle.

Then comes That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas as an aspiring actress/women's libber in a bright, colorful New York.  Ann Marie tries to push a new friend into a singing career, but she is planning to become a nun instead.

Two shows about Catholics in one night!  What would the Preacher say?  (I mean,what would the Preacher yell?). I feel a little thrill of naughtiness.  I can't wait to tell my boyfriend Bill tomorrow!

We even get a glimpse of the inside of the convent.  Ann Marie gets lost in the vast Gothic space, and asks a passing priest for directions.

My jaw drops.  The priest is stunning!  All dressed in black, huge workman's hands, short black hair, tanned Mediterranean features. And in league with the Devil, dark, sinister, even more attractive, like Barnabas the Vampire on Dark Shadows.

"Excuse me, Father," Ann says.  "Which way is the exit?" The laugh track goes crazy.  I don't understand what's so funny about calling a  priest "Father" -- Catholics always do it.

"Down that hallway."

"Thank you, Father."

"You're welcome, my daughter."  The laugh track goes crazy again.  Years later I figured out the joke: the priest was played by Marlo Thomas's real-life father, Danny Thomas (1913-1991).

Born Amos Muzyad Yaqoob Kairouz to a family of Lebanese immigrants, Danny Thomas worked on radio before becoming a fixture of 1950s tv with his sitcom Make Room for Daddy (1953-64).  Like Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy, Danny Williams was a nightclub singer balancing home and work lives  I never saw it, but I heard that Angela Cartwright, Penny on Lost in Space, played his daughter.

After Make Room for Daddy and its sequel, Make Room for Granddaddy (1970-71), Danny made only sporadic tv appearances: guest spots on Here's Lucy , McCloud, and Dick Van Dyke.

On Dick Van Dyke, he plays an alien invader who just happens to look like the famous comedian, thus giving us the timeless line "What is a Danny Thomas?"

His last starring role was in the short-lived One Big Family (1986-87), basically Make Room for Grandaddy with the addition of then-teen hunk Michael DeLuise.

An aging comedian from the days of the Chinese-laundry and mother-in-law jokes, Danny felt increasingly out of touch with the social, political, and sexual changes of the 1970s, so he produced a number of unsold "things were better in the old days" tv series pilots.  Most were burned off as tv movies:

Remember When (1974): Happy Days, but set during World War II.

Starting Fresh (1979): Alice, but the young widow has a daughter, not a son, and finds love.

Featherstone's Nest (1979): Make Room for Daddy,but with a dentist, not a nightclub singer, starring a pre-Mama's Family Ken Berry.


Danny devoted most of his time to promoting various charities, especially St.Jude Children's Hospital, which he founded in 1960.

Daughter Marlo is a gay ally, but Danny, not so much.  When she was starring in Consenting Adult, about a mother dealing with her son's coming out, Marlo noted that her father...um... voted for Ronald Reagan, 1980s code for "homophobic."  (Not to worry, the St. Jude Children's Hospital welcomes LGBTQ patients and their caregivers).

Not much of a gay connection, except for that one cold, snowy night in 1969, when a young boy in the Midwest felt a frisson of homerotic desire while watching That Girl.

Well, wouldn't you?  Just look at him!

See also: That Girl

Sep 13, 2023

A Creepy Gay Guy on "Kevin from Work"

 


Kevin from Work (2015-2016) stars Noah Reid as a nebbish who's been in love with a female coworker for years, but too chicken to say anything.  He thinks he's being transferred to Italy, so he expresses his love in a grand gesture before leaving forever.  Whoops, the transfer falls through.  Now they have to continue working together...awkward.

 Episode 1.2 features a rather homophobic portrayal of a creepy gay guy.  Since he's played by Tony Cavalero, the review is on Righteous Gemstones Beefcake and Boyfriends.

Sep 12, 2023

Forgotten Gay Actor Antony Hamilton

When I was living in West Hollywood, half the guys I met were aspiring actors, and the other half had dated or hooked up with actors.  If you were gay and in show biz, I knew you, or had met you, or had at least heard about you in a conversation.

But I never met, or even heard of, Antony Hamilton.

Born in 1952, he danced for the Australian Ballet and modeled in Europe, both for fashion magazines and for physique photographers like Bruce Weber, before hitting Hollywood.







His first role was the vampire-disco comedy Nocturna (1979), starring John Carradine as Dracula and Yvonne DeCarlo as someone named Juglia Vein.

But his big break was as the legendary muscleman in the tv movie Samson and Delilah (1984).

On April 1, 1984, I was watching The Jeffersons and Alice.

Then he was offered a role as model-secret agent Jack Stryker, a replacement for the deceased Jon-Erik Hexum in the last seven episodes of Cover-Up (1984-85).

I never watched.

In Mirrors (1985), sort of like Chorus Line with ballet dancers, he plays the dancing great Gino Rey.

I didn't watch.

He was considered for the new James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987), but he was gay in the homophobic Hollywood of the 1980s.  What if he was outed?  They went with a heterosexual.

I saw that.



Then came a few square-jawed tv guest spots: Twilight Zone, The Charmings, L.A. Law.

I watched The Charmings, but don't remember his episode.

And a couple of horror movies..

He played Max Harte in Mission: Impossible, a remake of the classic 1960s tv series that lasted for two seasons (1988-1990).  Peter Graves reprised his role as Jim Phelps, leading a team of experts engaging in top-secret government operations, but now they were more likely to capture criminals than interfere with the political structures of foreign countries.

On Sunday nights in 1988-89, I was watching Family Ties and Married...with Children. 

He has two more tv guest spots listed on imdb, plus a minor role in Fatal Instinct (1992).

He died of AIDS in 1995.



So an exceptionally hot gay actor was wandering around West Hollywood the same time as me, but our paths never crossed.

What other treasures did I miss out on?


Sep 10, 2023

Tiny Toons University: The toons go to college, learn drag techniques from Bugs Bunny

 


I was a fan of Tiny Toon Adventures (1990-92), featuring young toons with personalities similar to the established characters -- Babs and Buster Bunny (Bugs Bunny), Hampton (Porky Pig), Plucky (Daffy Duck), Sweetie (Tweety), Montana Max (Yosemite Sam).  They attended Acme Looniversity, where they  took on various pop culture icons, like the established characters did in the 1940s, parodied popular songs, and had tween adventures.  That was the problem -- they were in junior high.  Why were they attending a university?

The new Tiny Toons Looniversity (2023)  corrects that problem by making the toons young adults, so they have their own apartments and coffe shop hangouts -- and they attend an actual university.  They all look the same as their predecessors, except for Sweetie Bird, who has become an angry, leather-clad social justice warrior.  I wanted to check for LGBTQ inclusion, so I reviewed the episode "Save the Loo Bru."  Loo refers to Acme Looniversity, not the toilet, and Bru to their coffee shop hangout (shouldn't it be a brew-pub?).

Scene 1: Professor Bugs comes to class in drag.  He explains that "looking fabulous is its own reward," but drag can also be used to defeat a nemesis.  "So, how will we knw when we meet our nemesis?" "They're jerks."

Scene 2: At the Loo Bru, the gang discusses the lecture.  "I can't wait to have a nemesis!" Buster exclaims.  Suddenly Barista Dizzy tells them that the Loo Bru is closing: evil nemesis Montana Max has bought it, and plans to tear it down. 

Scene 3: They consult university president Granny.  She can't do anything: students are permitted to buy any looniversity property, and Max is a student: he just transferred in on an athletic scholarship.

Buster realizes that Max is his nemesis, and vows to ruin him.

Scene 4: Barista Dizzy is not only out of a job: his apartment is upstairs, so when they tear down the building, he'll be homeless.  Babs and Sweetie invite him to move into their place.

Cut to Dizzy moving his (literal) junk in, treating a chair as a toilet, swallowing their refrigerator, and so on. 


Scene 5
: Buster becomes the drag queen Ruth Less. His roommates Hampton and Plucky find him "shockingly attractive." As a conniving businesswoman, he'll gain Max's trust and destroy his business from within. 

Scene 6: A restaurant, La Re Lais de Mechant (the evil relays). Drag Buster bursts in and criticizes everything. Max is smitten: "What a cruel, demeaning, angry woman!" 

They dine together.  Max tells her about an investment opportunity, his 7-story Drink Empire "built on the corpse of a beloved campus coffee shop." 

Scene 7: Dizzy plays his drums in the middle of the night.  Babs and Sweetie agree that he has to go.

Cut to Babs bursting into Buster's dorm room. "Have you saved the Loo Bru yet?"  She sees Buster in drag.  "This is what it's like to have an identical twin." 

With Plucky playing her lawyer and Hampton her butler, Drag Buster will convince Max to give him complete control of the Loo Bru.

Scene 8: Drag Buster and her underlings visits Max at home. They go into his study to "talk business," but he has the fireplace going, and he serves hot chocolate.   Buster's makeup starts to fade, and finally falls off.

"You're not a brutal business bunny!" Max exclaims.  "You're that bunny from the Loo Bru."  He sics his henchmen on them, but he's still upset that things didn't work out.


Scene 9:
Ok, so the seduction didn't work.  Any other ideas?  Yes -- Hampton notices that Max's athletic trophies and newspaper articles are all fake.  He was admitted to the looniversity under false pretenses!  He's out!  Which means he can no longer buy the Loo Bru.

They break the news on demolition day.  By the way, Max is still attracted to Buster as a boy: "My love!" he exclaims, before remembering that they are arch-enemies. 

Scene 10: Professor Bugs congratulates Buster on defeating his nemesis. (Will this be on the final?)  Actually, Buster admits, Hampton figured it out.  The drag seduction didn't work.   "You'll get better with practice," Bugs assures him. 


Scene 11
: Bugs and Buster performing in drag at the Loo Bru.  Everyone cheers.  Max bought a ticket to the show, but bouncer Dizzy won't let him in.  

Beefcake: Max pretends to be a muscleman.

Heterosexism: Nobody in this episode expresses heterosexual interest except Max.

Gay Characters: Sweetie complains that there aren't enough women on campus.  Not enough potential girlfriends?  Max is attracted to Buster in drag and out. 

My Grade:  Fine for nostalgia purpose, and good if subtle LGBTQ inclusion. I'd have to watch other episodes to be sure, but it looks like a B+.

"Where you go, I will go": A Kelvin/Keefe romance

 

Kelvin stood in the South Corridor, facing Keefe, holding both his hands. "You don't have to do this if you don't want to," he said. "If it's too much, nobody will care. It can just be Judy and BJ."

"No, Brother," Keefe told him. "I want to." Still calling me Brother! Kelvin noted with a smile.

He heard Judy and BJ giggling on the other side of the hall. Everything was so easy for straight people! You go on a date, you kiss, you go upstairs and have sex. Easy.  You walk hand in hand without worrying about being attacked. You announce your engagement, and no one yells that you are destroying society. When you are gay, and Christian, and a Gemstone, everything is hard. It took a life-or-death crisis to say "I love you." The first time they held hands was an emotional triumph. And this might not necessarily be a joyous occasion. 

"I want to do this, too," Kelvin said, so loud that the security guard at the south entrance stared. "I don't think I've wanted anything more."

"Showtime!" Jesse exclaimed, pointing toward the sanctuary. One last kiss, and Kelvin took his place just behind Jesse, on his right side. Judy walked on his left side. The partners followed a few steps behind. Ushers would guide them to their marks, stage left and stage right.

They walked onto the main stage, smiling, waving, as if they were about to perform a song. The congregation rose and applauded. If they looked at their program, they would see "Commitment Ceremony," but nothing else. Would they think he was marrying his sister?

He looked around. Quadruple security. Photographers at the ready. Dang it, did Jesse call the press? No picketers in the back, no one snarling, ready to pull out a gun. He glanced at stage right, hoping to see Keefe, if only for an instant, but the lights were too bright.

Link to the full story.  

Bugs and Porky meet a Drag King: Warner Brothers Comics

When I was a kid in the 1960s, my favorite comic titles were Harvey (gay-vague Casper the Friendly Ghost), Disney, Archie, and the Gold Key jungle adventures.

Comics featuring Warner Brothers cartoon characters Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Bugs Bunny were low on my list.  Not as low as Woody Woodpecker, but low.

The art was amateurish, with minimal backgrounds, or just blank space.  This is one of the best covers,depicting Bugs opening a door leading to another planet, where a cowboy-rabbit is racing across the desert on a camel.

And instead of the anarchic outsiders of the cartoons, the characters were stable, stolid suburbanites, with houses and jobs and girlfriends. Porky was a single dad, raising his nephew, Cicero, like a Donald Duck knockoff.

But sometimes Bugs and Porky or Bugs and Yosemite Sam teamed up for adventure stories.  Maybe they stumbled upon a haunted inn.  Or they answered a job ad for "undersea explorers"  Or a telegram arrived about "trouble at the ranch."  Buddy-bonding, captures, and nick-of-time rescues followed.

A continuing series had Bugs and Porky working as Indiana Jones-style adventurer-archaeologists, investigating the myth of Pegasus or discovering a lost civilization hidden under the ice of Antartica.  With no girlfriends in sight, and no damsels in distress to be won.




Even when there was no buddy-bonding, the adventure stories offered opportunities for gay misreadings.  In "The Kingdom of Nowhere" (Porky Pig 4, 1965),  Porky wins a contest to re-name a Medieval kingdom (he suggests Boovaria).  But he must fight the other winner, the Black Knight.

When I first read the story, probably in in third grade, I didn't realize that this small, short-haired person was grabbing the king's cape, or that it was supposed to be his queen.  I thought he had a tiny boyfriend grabbing his rump.

When Porky and the Black Knight learn that, as an added bonus, the winner will marry the Princess,  they drop out of the contest and run away.  Porky, because he already has a girlfriend.

But why does the Black Knight run away?  Could it be that he doesn't particularly care for girls?





Later we get an explanation: the Black Knight was really his girlfriend Petunia in drag!  Porky exclaims "No wonder you weren't interested in winning the hand of the princess!"

But this quick-fix doesn't detract from the image of a boy not interested in girls.

And it adds a new question: why, precisely, did Petunia disguise herself as a man?

For that matter, why are Bugs and Porky so comfortable in drag?



Tiny Toon Adventures


Everyone misunderstands Tiny Toon Adventures.  

They weren't kid versions of classic Warner Brothers characters -- Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and so on.  

They weren't the offspring of the classic Warner Brothers characters.  

And they weren't tiny -- they were adolescents, aged 13-15.  They lived with their parents while attending  Acme Looniversity, where the classic characters taught them the art of being toons.

After years of decline -- no new cartoons, old ones chopped to bits to eliminate the violence  -- Warner Brothers was trying to modernize for a new generation of fans.  So the Tiny Toons began appearing in after-school time slots, first in syndication (1990-1992), and then on the Fox network (1992-1995).


  They drew on the personalities of the classic characters, but their adventures were strictly modern, involving video games, cell phones, and lots of sly references to 1990s pop culture, from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to Roseanne Barr.

There were no domestic partnerships, as in the Hanna Barbara cartoons of a generation before. Instead, the characters displayed the heterosexism of the major teen sitcoms of the era (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, California Dreams), with lots of dating and romance. But there were plenty of subtexts.

Plucky, an egotistical duck, and Hamton, a shy, sensible pig, are partnered for a number of adventures, including parodies of Batman and Star Trekand sometimes are shown living together.  They break up, seek out other "best friends," realize how much they care for each other, and reconcile.

The human character Elmyra usually lacks heterosexual interest -- she is busy hugging and squeezing "cute little animals" to death.  But in one episode, she falls in love with a new girl named Rhonda Queen, and goes to absurd lengths to try to win her affection.

The character of Gogo Dodo also lacks heterosexual interest, and brings a vacuum cleaner to the school dance.

The gay kids in the audience had a lot to identify with.  A lot more than with the horrid Animaniacs, which regrettably replaced Tiny Toon Adventures in 1993.

See also: Animaniacs
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