28 December 2008

Unabashed BFFs: Melissa E. + Rick W. 4EVA!

Celebrities are getting their chance to mouth-off in Huffington Post blogs more and more these days: Jamie Lee Curtis (a diatribe about Paris Hilton's mother's lack of parenting), Alec Baldwin (an angry rant on fathers' rights and direct hit at his ex-wife). The HuffPo perpetuates the idea that celebrities have something important to say solely due to their celebrity status.

In her very own Huffington Post blog, blah-ly entitled "The Choice is Ours Now," Melissa Etheridge, as our gay high priestess, begs us to make the right choice: convince straight people that we are nice and socially acceptable. In a series of clichés, Etheridge talks about that "mountain" us gays have been climbing to freedom of identity. Speaking solely for myself, I have been busy spelunking in a cave of societal shame, not climbing any mountains. As gay spokeswoman, Melissa pens so eloquently the hurt we felt after the high of Obama's win when Prop 8 was passed. "Still sore and angry we felt another slap in the face as the man we helped get elected seemingly invited a gay-hater to address the world at his inauguration." Seemingly? Not seemingly. He did invite a known gay-hater, Melissa, it's a fact. Think of it this way--you are seemingly a spokeswoman for gay people.

"As I was winding down the promotion for my Christmas album (apparently still winding down that promo conveniently mentioning it in this piece posted just three days before Christmas)," she describes her planned performance for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The MPAC, Etheridge says, "tries to raise awareness in this country, and the world, about the majority of good, loving, Muslims." And here she is trying to raise awareness about the majority of good, loving, gays. [As an aside be sure to run out to your local gay sex club and pick up my Christmas album which includes the hit, O Cum All Ye of Little Faith.] It turned out that the keynote speaker of the MPAC performance was to be none other than Pastor (T)rick Warren, gay-hater. Melissa reports that she first considered canceling her appearance (you should always go with your gut) but instead she instructed her manager to "reach out to Pastor Warren and say, 'In the spirit of unity I [Etheridge] would like to talk to him.'"

This is my favorite part from Melissa's piece: They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife's struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

Melissa apparently succumbs to flattery easily. If Fred Phelps was overheard humming Come to My Window does that make him less of a gay-hater? She should have asked Slick Rick to name one of her albums or even just one song if he's the fervent fan he claims to be. The saddest part, perhaps, is that like most politicians, Warren told Melissa everything she wanted to hear and she fell for it head over boots. She's just not savvy. The mention of his wife's breast cancer was so over-the-top and manipulative. I can just hear one of his advisors now, "Be sure to get that breast cancer thing in there, she's really into that." Slick Rick was clearly pulling out all the stops. Now go back to your people, Melissa, and tell them I am an open-minded, gay-loving preacher.

Melissa seems to have taken a page from her new BFF, Rick. "Brothers and sisters, the choice is ours now," she says, sounding more and more like a sermon. "We have the world's attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket." Like a child to a blanket? "But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don't hate us, they fear change." I disagree. They do hate us, but, yes, that hate is fueled by fear. I would point Melissa and everyone else to Michael Bronski's genius book, The Pleasure Principle: Sex, Backlash, and the Struggle for Gay Freedom. "Gay hating," Bronski explains, "derives less from a feeling about particular people than from a profound attachment to maintaining the existing social order. This helps explain why vocal antigay politicians are sometimes capable of maintaining cordial relationships with gay friends or family members." Melissa, you got duped.

Melissa suggests that instead of "marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world. Maybe if they get to know us, they won't fear us." Now she sounds like a child holding onto her idealism "like a blanket." It is not that gay-haters are incapable of having friendly relationships with gays but, as Michael Bronski says, "it is the idea--the concept of homosexuality--that is, sexual pleasure without justification or consequences--that terrifies the gay hater." It doesn't matter how many gay people gay-haters personally get to know and like, the concept of our sexuality will always terrify them.

"I know, call me a dreamer," Etheridge says, so self-aware. Okay. Dreamer. I don't want Melissa Etheridge acting as spokeswoman for the queer cause. This is the problem: we don't have a leader for our movement. We turn to gay celebrities to speak for us. I don't want Ellen, Lance Bass, Doogie Howser, or Clay Aiken speaking for me. My vote, as usual, goes to Sandra Bernhard.

For more, read this NY Times Op-Ed piece.

18 December 2008

Unabashed Abashedness: The Other Matt Siegel

While perusing a friend's Facebook page a few months ago, I noticed a comment left by a man with my exact first and last name--almost. His last name had a few letters switched but otherwise it was a funny coincidence. Since he was a mutual acquaintance I sent him a message (re: Look at our names!):

Matt Siegel
August 6 at 12:29pm
you are the reason people misspell my name

The Other Matt Siegel*
August 6 at 12:45pm
OH - I've heard of you! You live in LA also, which makes this even more strange. We should probably be in the same room at some point, just to confuse people.
"Siegel" is more common than mine, so I argue that you cause my misspelling?

Matt Siegel
August 6 at 1:51pm
If we were in the same room I would address you as Matthew See-glee.

*I am referring to him as "The Other Matt Siegel" in an effort to protect his identity as much as possible without losing the point of the story.

It also turned out that he was attending graduate school with an artist friend of mine. We had a nice exchange--seven emails back and forth. From the way he was engaging me I suspected he was gay.

It is a common notion that artists have as many social graces as someone with Asperger's. With that said, my dearest friends all happen to be visual artists. On a recent Saturday night, said artist friend took me to a holiday party at one of his classmate's homes. The first seemingly-gay-but-straight art student hipster I met with his oversized, attention-seeking, red, Sally Jesse Raphael eyeglasses, looked down at the floor and away upon introduction. Charmed! My friend informed me that the other Matt Siegel was at the party so I told Sally Jesse that I would catch him on the flip-side, that I was going to meet the other Matt Siegel, and perhaps he would look me in the eye. (To his credit, Sally Jesse apologized to me later. And to his parents' credit, he was hot.)

I jauntily approached the other Matt Siegel, looking forward to revealing my unexpected presence. "Matthew See-glee," I exclaimed, making reference to our email exchange just a few months earlier, "I am Matthew Siegel." His endearing dimpled chin and strong jaw fell. I looked him in the eye like an adult awaiting some response. All I got were a bunch of "Whoa's" while his shoulders tensed up and he stammered away. Utilizing my stellar communication skills, I pulled the conversation out of murkiness referencing our mutual Facebook friend and the conservative Ivy League college they attended together. I commented that he must certainly be a fellow Hebrew with that name of his--our name--but he promptly thwarted my assumption. He was a Protestant, 100% all-American WASP. In fact, he spent some of his teenage years as a missionary spreading the gospel or whatever they spread. [For extra credit: This Matt Siegel (meaning me), spent some of my teenage years spreading a. my legs b. Chlamydia or c. A & B?]

Things became quiet after the WASP flew out of his nest so I resorted to interview mode asking questions that might indulge his ego. It didn't work. The other Matt Siegel was shell-shocked. It was as if I had just informed him we had been switched at birth à la Big Business (one of my favorite movies but probably not one of his). He was examining me from head to toe -- surely he was admiring my navy Nom De Guerre short trench and accordion boots. I was mystified as to what might be irking him. It seemed that in 5-4-3-2-1, blood would spurt from his ears. To my surprise, he acknowledged his strange behavior. "You're going to have to give me a minute to take this in -- I just need to adjust." Take this in? Adjust? To what? What's there to take in? We have the same name, there's nothing to take in. With silence befalling us and my interest waining, I bid the other Matt Siegel, adieu.

I tried to shrug off his reaction unsuccessfully. How did this meeting that should have been delightful at best and uneventful at worst, result in a seemingly embarrassed and shaken other Matt Siegel? I walked back through the scene in my head. There we were, face-to-face, the two gay Matt Siegels. He was a handsome man, not visibly queer like me. I, too, handsome, but the man part debatable. That was the most striking difference. He wore a basic sweater with one wacky accessory, some shoes he probably considers risqué. My effortless style reeked of gayqueerfaggotry as usual. It has since I was a child, pairing my mothers navy blue silk skirt with American flag-like stars on it, a red cashmere sweater that accentuated my sock bosoms, and twirling around in her closet. An Independence Day outfit. The other Matt Siegel stood rigid and controlled while I moved like Stevie Nicks tramping about like a gypsy on acid. Artists spend their entire professional lives trying to make a name for themselves and here, in front of his disconcerted eyes, was another faggot, close in age, with his same name -- almost -- living an unabashed queer existence. I was his worst nightmare.

The devil on my shoulder closely resembles Bette Midler in a huge hat and lizard pendant on her lapel. Initially, I began devising a plan to drag our name through the gay dirt. Visions of masquerading as the other Matt Siegel, skipping through the streets of LA filled my head. I, too, would be a missionary, spreading the queer word under the guise of the other Matt Siegel, the WASP grad student, the one who feared the defilement of his name via me. I wanted to exorcise his gay shame. And maybe we could fuck afterwards.

After working on this blog for the past week, I happened to run into the other Matt Siegel last night at a party. I caught his eye and he turned away. Very carefully I approached him--not at all jaunty this time. He gave me a labored hello. Getting right to the point I inquired as to why he had reacted to me the way he did that night. "Well," he said, "you just came up to me and mispronounced my name. I thought that was kind of rude." Now, my jaw hit the floor. It was my turn to be flabbergasted and dismayed. "Are you serious," I said getting heated, "I was nothing but warm and friendly toward you." He gave me a half-assed apology, "Look, I'm sorry if I came across as rude but--" and proceeded to tell me since he apologized to me, I should apologize to him for mispronouncing his name. I declined his request.

More times than I care to remember, I have heard gay men bitch that their sexuality does not define them and to that I say it does define me. It's not some tiny part of me that only takes place in the bedroom. I don't desire straight approval or some verification that I am "normal." I was never the status-quo. My gayness and queerness proceed me naturally. It affects all of my feelings--my loves, my hates. The most infuriating bigotry I face on a regular basis is from other gay men who are embarrassed by my organic, unabashed queerness.

The other Matt Siegel stopped me on my way out of the party and sincerely apologized and took responsibility for his behavior. "Look, I don't want there to be bad blood between us. In fact, I'd like to be your friend. I was being an ass that night." That meant a lot to me. Finally, more than simply posing as a man, he was acting like an adult. After that I began to question whether or not I should even publish this piece at all. After all, he had apologized and I have no interest in causing strife for him or being a jerk. I realized, though, that this piece is less about him and more about my struggle for acceptance within my own people and myself. And though I firmly believe his initial problems with me run much deeper than a simple mispronunciation of his name, I am reminded that a name is only what you make of it. My name--our name--means very little to me. I'd change it tomorrow if I came up with anything better. Over the years my name has been marked by slander, infamy--I take credit for some of it--and as I evolve I hope it will carry new meaning: compassion and authenticity.

Sandra Bernhard Questions Change

by Sandra Bernhard

I am sitting today in New York City in disbelief.

After the past eight years of twisted lies and cynical abuse by the Bush administration. After the long hard fought campaigns of Clinton, Obama and McCain. After Obama’s victory and the euphoria of the election… here we are once again stunned by the shock and awe of total stupidity.

How can Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States of America, invite one of the most divisive religious leaders in the world to invocate his inauguration? This is the day the world was supposed to change, for the better, the more compassionate, inclusive, forgiving, thoughtful.

To choose Rick Warren, who actively fought the gay communities legal right to full protection of our constitution is completely reckless. This is a person who compares gay marriage to that of a brother and sister union. This is a man who vocally diminishes the legitimacy of gays.

The inauguration is no place for this religious fundamentalism in any way shape or form. We can have that conversation later in the proper setting. This is the day that is supposed to restore the true meaning of brotherhood and the rights for all Americans. To lift the veils of secrecy and hatred and the ugly legacy we have left behind! This is how Barack Obama chooses to begin his legacy?I am deeply angered and terribly disappointed at this turn of events. I think Mr. Obama needs to reevaluate this decision immediately.

It is unacceptable!

06 December 2008

Unabashed Milk Spillage

I have pondered whether or not I should put my two cents in regarding Gus Van Sant's Milk considering how much press it's getting. Who cares about my two cents? Then I thought, "Matt Siegel, you have a unique perspective. Spill it."

I was nervous about seeing the film. I have spent many a year feeling sad and angry, so why spend money to feel that way? I'm such a jew-ess. Give it to me for free and I'll see it immediately. I made a date to see Milk with my friend, actress, Jill Clayburgh. I mention her by name because, to me, she is the ultimate mother and nurturer, on-screen and off, and I wanted someone safe to go with me.

On our way into The Grove, I mentioned how I wished an out gay man could have played the title role in Milk and Jill got pissed, calling me pigheaded and asking me if I would prefer that the movie not have been made at all. Mama, why are you being so firm with me? I understood her point, it was a big Hollywood film and needed a major name attached to it. My feeling about the casting had more to do with the fact that in such a gay industry, many, many, many actors are in the closet for fear of not getting jobs as a result. Where has Rupert Everett been since he came out years ago? One shitty movie with his faghag, Madonna, is where he's been. It is common knowledge that once you come out, casting people and executives believe it is too difficult for audiences to see you as anything but gay. I began running through out gay actors in my head as alternatives to Sean Penn but the prospect of Doogie Howser playing Harvey Milk made me want to go back in the closet. With that said, I liken the casting of Sean Penn in Milk to Anthony Hopkins playing a light-skinned black man in The Human Stain.

I was also freaked out to see Milk because Gus Van Sant, like any red-blooded, American gay male, likes to cast pretty boys in his films. He loves finding those other-side-of-the-tracks bad attitude twinks, and turn them into actors, as he did in Elephant. I guess he's drawn to their untainted, virile, boyishness. Me too, Girl, me too. I accompanied a friend to the Milk open casting call in San Francisco a few years ago, and Gus was sitting at a table cruising/casting. I don't blame him. So when I saw that James Franco had been cast to play Harvey Milk's lover, I was not surprised but I was bummed. I find really hot guys distracting and annoying on-screen and off. You won't catch me cruising any male models along Santa Monica Boulevard. I refuse to give hot people more unwarranted attention than they already get. Plus I want to reject them before they can reject me. Do you see how real I am? Who else would admit that?

Perhaps as a result of my psychoses, I found Franco's depiction somewhat uninspired. I think he was really proud of himself for playing a fag. He's so open! Just like Jack Black and all of those other actors who came out to support Prop 8 after the fucking election. Thanks for that. That whole Prop 8 musical just reeks of self-congratulation from those hetero actors. Put a dick in your mouth and call me in the morning, please.

Emile Hirsch was solid, if a little affected, and his opening scene with Sean Penn was memorable. His curly wig and pedophile glasses reminded me of several trans hipster boys I know. Allison Pill, the only female supporting character, in a leather jacket and a bad perm, held her own as the only lesbian and only woman in the bunch. I applaud the brief depiction of gay male misogyny. It is an important, oft overlooked prejudice in the gay male community. Jill and I agreed that Sean Penn's performance was absolutely top notch. There was not one second where I found myself skeptical of his Harvey Milk. It was brilliantly nuanced and utterly committed.

Spoiler alert, spoiler alert! Believe me, you want this part spoiled. I was shocked to see a really fuckin cheesy story line. A very hot, butch, gay teen from Minnesota calls Milk as he is rushing out of his apartment to a possible riot situation. The gay teen says he's gonna kill himself, his parents are sending him to a mental institution the next day and he had seen Milk in the newspaper. So Milk is like, "get on a bus tonight and go to LA or New York or San Francisco" and the hot, gay, suicidal teen is like, "that's the thing. I can't. I'm in a wheelchair" and the camera pans out to show him in a wheelchair. My eyes rolled out of my head and into the popcorn under my chair. And, hello, why couldn't it be a fat fuckin' femme calling Milk up? A young Bruce Vilanch, perhaps? Because it's not pretty enough. And to bring shit full circle, the kid calls Milk a year later, conveniently and unbelievably while election results are coming in, and tells him he's alive and well in Los Angeles. Useless bullshit, Gussy. PS...I took Bruce Vilanch to dinner at an Argentinean restaurant a few years ago where he ate a plate of melted cheese, did not try to pay for the meal, and when I was dropping him off at home, offered to eat my ass. Didn't you have enough to eat tonight, Bruce?

Amongst gay youth there is great apathy and rampant ageism towards our predecessors. The value of this film may lie less in educating ignorant heterosexuals and more in educating ignorant homosexuals.

05 December 2008

Unabashed Tomwiggery, Wiggin' Out, and Other Hair-Related Plays on Words

She keeps Ike's ashes in an urn under that thing. This is a good case of when you announce retirement, stick with it, go with your gut. Maybe get a six month gig in Vegas where this sort of tomwiggery will fly.

Unabashed Idealism: The Retarded Prom Queen

Every time this commercial from the mysterious Foundation For A Better Life airs, I brace myself for someone in the crowd to yell "retard!" or for a bucket of pig's blood to fall on her from above. If I was this down syndrome girl's mother, I would snatch her off that stage so fast her tiara would spin. She is not some mongoloid martyr there to make this group of kids feel P.C. And you know there is some bitch posse in the corner talking shit on her: "I can't believe that retard won. Fuck her, I'm gonna kick her ass on Monday."

28 November 2008

(More) Unabashedly Butch Barbies

A softer side of Rizzo in her flamenco-style prom dress.
Two, count 'em, two, Cha Cha Digregorio Barbies! And one complete with a side-swept hairdo?! I like to think of Cha Cha as Rizzo's femme girlfriend. What a sexy couple they would make. Kudos to you, Mattel, Inc.

24 November 2008

Unabashed Post-Op Homo-rrhage

The walls of my Ear, Nose, & Throat doctor's office resemble those of the Hard Rock Cafe, complete with framed gold records "in honor of ten billion, trillion records sold" from random artists like Tom Petty and Meat Loaf to Clay Aiken and Carrie Underwood. I studied the wall and read the personal notes made out to my doctor with things like, "Dr. N--You saved my voice! xoxo, Jordin Sparks." It might have been a dry-cleaners in North Hollywood with autographed headshots, "Thanks Ming! Love, Tawney Kitaen."

My doctor and I are very chummy. I have seen him for the past five years and he instantly took a liking to me. Like many Beverly Hills boutique doctors, he doesn't take insurance but he gave me a big discount on my tonsillectomy and always half-off on my visits. Like the father I never had, he would always instruct me not to suck dick while battling a case of tonsillitis. When I came out of my tonsillectomy surgery, I told him not to sneak a peak under my gown. We have that kind of relationship.

Doc comes into the room interrupting my wall-reading and pulls out his tongue depressors. "Say ah, ah-ah-ah." He says it just like Madonna's doctor said to her in Truth or Dare when she had laryngitis. He began fiddling with something where my left tonsil used to be and his assistant gave me cold water to swish in my mouth. He had cauterized one spot behind a blood clot on my tonsil. I wasn't bleeding very much but he told me I would have to hang around for an hour just to make sure there was no bleeding.

He came back to check on me about ten minutes later and his energy became frantic. He was telling his assistant to get him this, get him that, hurry, hurry. "You're going to feel a little sting," he said and stuck more than one needle into the holes where my tonsils used to be to numb them. It hurt. "You're doing great, Matthew," he whispered to me repeatedly. "Swish this and spit into the cup." I watched slow-moving, black-red blood flow from my mouth. A lot of blood. "Nancy, cancel all my appointments and tell them I have an emergency. Call an ambulance." He made several calls to Cedars Sinai Hospital telling doctors he had a post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage and he needed an operating room immediately. "Matthew," he said in a very direct, wannabe-calm voice, "we have to go back into the operating room. We're going to take an ambulance to Cedars." At this point my hands began shaking and I started to freak out silently. "Do you have a xanax or something you can shoot in me," I asked the doctor's assistant. They didn't.

Being carried out on a gurney, covered in blood on Bedford Avenue in Beverly Hills, gets a lot of stares. I texted my friend Brooke on the way to the hospital, "emergency surgery come to cedars now." She texted me back immediately, "What?" Ugh GOD, I can't be more clear. On our way into the Operating Room, I reminded my doctor that I had left my car in the parking lot on Brighton Way to which he just stared at me and said, "We'll take care of that later."

I hate waking up from anaesthesia with all those people around you cheering you on, "MATT, MATT, YOU'RE AWAKE. THE SURGERY WENT WELL. MATT." I'm like give me a fucking minute, I just woke up. Shit. "You peed yourself in surgery," the recovery nurse appropriately named Ruby (she was a fuckin' gem), cheerfully informed me. I guess that was in case I was wondering where my undies had gone. She presented me with my boxer briefs in a ziplock bag with moisture bubbles all along the plastic. "No thanks, Rubes, you can throw those away." Ruby kept the Dilaudid flowin' in my I-V. Dilaudid is my new favorite painkiller, allegedly ten times stronger than morphine. That little factoid came courtesy of Ruby who told me as if to say, this is the good shit.

I really liked my room on the 8th floor of the north tower which is the spinal floor. It had high ceilings and spacious with enough room for friends to lounge around. There was even enough room for me to dance with my I-V stand for my friend, Kate. The TV in my room was on at all times and served as a comfort during my morphine-hazed stay. With 60 channels, how a hospital named for a Hebrew could manage to have every Christian network on earth but not have Lifetime is beyond me. And to my dismay (and that's putting it lightly), I saw SNL alum, Victoria Jackson, on one of those stations talking about how she loves Jesus in that squeaky voice of hers. I thought I had had too much morphine or was watching an old SNL Church Lady sketch but it was real.

The nurses were weird and alternated so often, that the minute I got used to one, she was gone. I actually found the male nurses more comforting than the women which was surprising to me. One crazy nurse, Veronica, insisted that she watch me take every medication she gave me. Keep in mind that pain medications were administered through I-V, otherwise it was thyroid meds and anti-depressants--nothing you'd want to hoard. I swear to Christ (and my friend Adriana can verify this), she brought me a suppository so I could have my first BM in a week and told me she was going to put it in me. If only their had been photographers to capture my expression. I said, "Veronica, dear, I know how to put a suppository in" and she looked shocked and dismayed telling me that she has never had a patient do it themselves. Maybe that's because the 8th floor is typically the spinal floor but with a fully functioning spine, I was the only one who was going to insert anything into my anus. But the real humdinger was when Veronica insisted upon watching me insert the suppository. I kid you not (Ask Adriana). I said, "Well, how close up do ya have to get?" Veronica said that I didn't have to be rude about it and as she stood in the doorway watching me stick my finger up my ass I explained that I wasn't being rude, I was joking. Sensitive nurses.

This was my first time in the hospital and I deduce that it is one step above county jail. Not prison, but county jail. You get TV with limited channels, shitty food, people watching you while you're on the toilet, and I would liken my I-V to a set of handcuffs. At least in jail you can get laid.

22 November 2008

Unabashedly Butch Barbie

Somebody please purchase me this Rizzo Barbie Doll. With her Elvis hairdo, she is possibly the most butch Barbie to date. I don't know if I wanna fuck her or be her.

Be her.

15 November 2008

Unabashed Pain: Night 2, post-tonsillectomy

Well, I keep hearing that days three to five are the most painful so I'm gearing up emotionally, reminding myself that I can take that next sip of ice cold water; the pain is not bigger than me and my extra-strength Vicodin. But it is proving itself a worthy opponent, that's for damn sure. As I pee my life away (staying hydrated is of the utmost importance, pain-wise), I think about what a mind-fuck all of this is. I have to talk myself into the next thing I will swallow, wincing the entire time. I am afraid to go to sleep for fear of what it will feel like waking up with a dry open wound in my mouth.
Who wants to make out?

14 November 2008

Unabashed "Star" Fucking at the "No on 8" Rally

I ain't gonna make this long cause I'm on Vicodin for the tonsillectomy I had yesterday. I stood strong among the over 12,000 people at the "No on 8" protest march thing last Saturday. I was especially interested in hearing the speakers before the march began, but to my chagrin, instead of having a great line-up of gay rights advocates with something to say, the organizers brought out F-List celebrity after F-List celebrity. The emcee of the event even introduced two of them as celebrities which they weren't -- they were just tacky actors. Actor on tv show does not equal celebrity. And who cares what some shit actor has to say, give me someone real. So after listing several people's IMDB credits as if that lent them any knowledge about anything, they brought out an actress from fucking General Hospital. A fucking soap opera actress. So I started chanting "Susan Lucci! Susan Lucci!" which all the fags around me ate up. We don't need another broke-down celebrity; what we need is another gay civil rights leader like Harvey Milk. Don't waste my time with this bullshit. LET'S MARCH.

03 November 2008

Unabashed Teenage Whore: My Labor of (Courtney) Love - Part I

Lisa was a jappy but sweet Sephardic jewish girl, who, when we took a 3-family trip to Disney World, kept on being mistaken for a Latina, with people speaking to her in spanish wherever we went. She got to wear the cutest tacky outfits like a lime green top with matching spandex pants and dice glued all over it. I usually only saw Lisa on Hanukkah when our dysfunctional families met at her house to light the menorah. A screaming fight between her father and older brother would inevitably ensue at these gatherings. After potato latkes and dreidels and screaming, Lisa and I would retreat to her luxurious bedroom suite in the huge finished basement for playtime.

As a 12-year-old, I had never been exposed to even a semblance of punk rock. My musical taste at the time was more Madonna, En Vogue, and Tina Turner just like all the other boys my age. Not. So G-d help me if it wasn't dice-laden-outfit-wearing Lisa herself, who would be the one to expose me to the comparatively hardcore, screaming, yet melodic music of Courtney Love and her band, Hole. It makes sense in retrospect, Lisa was on the cutting edge of fashion and she had just been Bat-Mitvahed.

Lisa handed me the album, Live Through This, like she was passing me a joint. "Shhh...just inhale..." I was instantly intrigued by the cover which depicted a post-win beauty pageant contestant with feathered blonde hair and running mascara, cradling her bouquet of flowers like a baby. The music began and I heard a desperate, angry, somewhat frightening voice coming from a woman. I had never heard anything like that. The songs managed to be melodic and surprisingly appealing to my 12 year-old feminine sensibility. I convinced Lisa to let me borrow the CD knowing that I wouldn't see her until next year's gathering and she wouldn't want it by then. Anyways, I needed the music more than Lisa. I was troubled and misunderstood--her biggest challenge was being mistaken for a Latina which was quite a compliment because it meant she was non-Semitic and exotic looking.

This contraband became my favorite secret gift of the evening. I felt a certain power finally having music my mother wouldn't want to hear in the car. Was this puberty? Live Through This became my floor-rattling anthem after door-slamming fights with my parents. Even if I didn't understand all of the lyrics (and I certainly didn't), the tone and intention of Courtney Love's music was crystal clear and gave voice to my mind-boggling rage and isolation.
New York Times Rock Critic, Neil Strauss, reported in his 2003 year-end wrap-up that his editor had asked him months earlier to prepare an obituary for Courtney Love. The Courtney Love who formerly entranced me, died in 1997. That year, after costarring in The People vs. Larry Flynt, Courtney made a concerted effort to go the straight-and-narrow, beginning (and ending) with her physical appearance. Courtney finally succumbed to the kryptonite of Hollywood ideals of beauty which she fought for so long. She underwent plastic surgery to “correct” her hook nose and traded in vintage baby-doll dresses and dark roots for Versace gowns and perfect make-up. She spearheaded a campaign as “The New Courtney Love,” posing for multiple covers of stupid magazines like US Weekly. She waxed poetic about the “old” Courtney Love, herself only a few years earlier; like an elderly woman reminiscing about her crazy teenage years: When Hole was first playing, I was embracing my life fully. But there was a later period when bad things happened. Someone should have locked me in my damn house. You just don't go through something (Cobain's death) and walk out onstage. It's too much. I think it was amazing performance, because you can't get any more real...To them [my fans], I represented whatever female form of freedom that Patti Smith and Exene represented to me, and that's great. It's a part of me that didn't care about anything. But that's not for me."

Courtney Love was most fascinating on stage. Say what you will about who actually penned her music and lyrics, her guitar skills, breaking up Nirvana; her charisma was undeniable. She borrowed a mostly underground female punk performance aesthetic from her predecessors, such as punk icon Lydia Lunch and Exene (mentioned above), and mainstreamed it. Screaming until she was hoarse while simultaneously glaring up at God and the heavens, she would often end up stage-diving into the crowd. She was the Bad Seed all grown up; a real-life version of Pizzazz from the 80’s cartoon, Jem and the Holograms. Kathi Wilcox of the ferocious female group, Bikini Kill, likened watching Courtney perform to a religious experience. Her off-stage antics only enhanced her onstage persona. Who else would have the audacity to turn down a record deal from Madonna’s label, and shortly after, throw a compact at her on live TV? Jesus? Mary Magdalene?More to come...

30 October 2008

Unabashed BS: Dr. Phil Fronts Like He's Cool With Trans Children

Dr. Phil's show yesterday was "driven by letter after letter--I'm talkin' stacks of letters" from parents freaking out 'cause their sons like pink frilly shit and their daughters like flannel shirts. Reading the telepromter very carefully, Doc explained that he would be exploring "the issues of children who don't behave consistent with stereotypical gender roles." Now, you know he didn't write that -- it sounds like something I wrote. When is the last time Phil McGraw thought about stereotypical gender roles? His goofy son is married to a Playboy bunny and his wife is like Texas' version of a geisha.

The topic screen behind Dr. Phil read, "Gender-Confused Kids." The "o" in "confused" had a trans symbol coming from it (the one to the left -- some graphic designer is really proud of himself.). Could they not fit "Kids-Who-Don't-Behave-Consistent-With-Stereotypical-Gender-Roles" on the screen? I liked that much better and there's a whole world to explore there. Implying that trans children are simply "confused" is downright offensive and biased. The kids on the show, much like the ones in the Atlantic Weekly article, seemed very clear on their gender identity. If there was any confusion, it lies within the parents who face the dilemma of whether or not to honor their children's identities in a hateful society.

Sighing constantly like he was about to lose his ever-loving mind, Dr. Phil asked a couple who have accepted their eight year-old male-to-female transgender child, if they were "aware that less than 20% of transgender children grow up to be transgender adults." Of course, he provides no source for this gem of most-certainly biased, unscientific data. It probably originated from one of the other guests on the show, Glen Stanton, a research fellow, with a Christian-based organization called, "Focus on the Family." Stanton said it hurt him to view a home video of the trans child filmed by her parents (and aired during this episode) where she describes all the stereotypically feminine things she likes including "little girls' thongs." And she wasn't talking about flip-flops. "When did you first feel like you were a girl," her mom asks. "When I was three. We were shopping at Walmart, and, um, we're in the boys aisle. And then I saw a pair of, um, little girl's thongs--undies--and I said I want to buy them." All the while, haunting, gritty music is playing in the background, courtesy of the Dr. Phil editors, guiding the viewers' attitude, telling them to be concerned about this child.

Appropriately, during the commercial break, an ad for a state proposition aired showing mythically maybe/maybe-not intersex Jamie Lee Curtis fake directing a children's choir with a fucking pencil (can't they spring for a baton? I'll buy it.). The rainbow sea of children's faces sings "Imagine" in a professional music studio, very out of tune. At least have the decency to dub that shit with a pre-pubescent boys choir or some ugly kids with good voices like they did in the last Olympics' opening ceremony. Just an aside...Cue Dr. Phil in a sit-down session with the eight year-old trans girl. Her face is not shown but you can see her sweet pigtails and red glasses. My favorite moment was when Phil asked her how she knew at such a young age how a girl or boy was supposed to feel. "Boys feel, like, hyper, and they always wanna fight and all that. I just wanted to sit down, relax, and all that." Me too, girl, me too. Let's us just rest our weary queer asses down for a moment and let the boys be crazy.

"Well," Dr. Phil challenges, "that could just be a boy who likes to sit down and relax." I don't think she meant that literally, Phil. She's a child, she's ineloquent, but you get the fucking picture. She wanted to wear a thong at age three, for Christ's sakes. Sounds like a tranny to me.

Thank Gawd, Philly brings in professor and clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Seigel (no relation, different spelling), from UCLA to explain gender identity vs. plain ol' gender in lay-person's terms. "How you're born with your genitals doesn't necessarily correspond with your brain's development, so you should accept your child for how they're born...It's on a spectrum, so you can be feeling fully male or fully female or somewhere in between."
Okay? Thank you.
Spell it out for the people, Dr. Seigs.
Dr. Phil, I suppose, representing the voice of his audience, then asks, "Are their tests you can do to find out if that's going on?" Yes, Phil, there's a brain scan called a tranny-scanny that enables us to see that shit, you fool.

The next guest was a mother whose 16 year-old son says he used to feel transgender but is no longer "that way." His feelings allegedly changed when his mom relocated the family to a more accepting town in order to allow him to be trans, but during his first day of school he was harassed. To my pleasure, the boy was interviewed (face blacked out) and what I thought might have been a voice distortion to keep his anonymity was his actual real gayest of all gay voice. Imagine Richard Simmons' voice. Then imagine Richard Simmons' voice claiming to be hetero now, complete with a girlfriend. Dr. Phil even clarified with the mother, "So he has girlfriends," to which she giggled, saying "he has many." Well, I have girlfriends, too, they're called fag hags. In the words of our intelligent trans 8 year-old girl, this boy obviously wants to sit down, relax, and all that. Someone get him a reclining chair, please. It must be exhausting to be monitoring himself at all times to make sure he's performing his version of masculinity, thinking he's pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. Mmm mmm mmmph (head shake).

In the last ten seconds of the show, Phil asks the parents of the 8 year-old to promise him that they won't give her hormones anytime soon. "I really hope you don't consider hormone therapy at this point, but you continue to let this evolve. That would be a wrong, wrong thing to do in my opinion. I want to be very clear about that." And what's the right, right thing to do, Dr. Phil? Force this child to go through a traumatizing puberty where her outsides don't match her insides? She's been living as a girl since she was three. What is the likelihood of her gender identity shifting back to male? I'd say it's about as likely as that 16 year-old former trans girl being a straight male with a girlfriend.

27 October 2008

Ballz to the Wall: Naked Yoga

To answer your first three questions:
Yes, I did it.
Yes, it was men only.
Yes, they were all gay.

There are two independent video stores in my neighborhood. At one of those stores you have to be 18 to enter, you can purchase poppers at the counter, and they have great section titles like, "My Drug Hell," where you will find movies like I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can. It is a queer-owned store. The other store always has little varmits (kids) scampering about, you can buy candy at the counter, and they have an extensive foreign language section called "Foreign Languages." This store also has cheaper rentals, more films, and is owned by a lovely straight couple. Both stores often carry the same inventory but I go to my pricier gay store first because if I have a choice, I want my money going back into homo pockets. I just do. So when my therapist, my boss, and my mother were simultaneously touting the wonders of yoga for its emotional and physical benefits, I set out to find a queer-owned or affiliated yoga studio.

Seconds into my search I was distracted by a website called Naked Yoga. Having to certify both my 18+ age and non-offense at viewing nudity/adult content had me thinking I was about to click my way onto a fetish site where I would see photos of men in poses like "Downward Doggy Style" and "Hand-job Stand." Alas, I came to the Los Angeles main page (there are other chapters in San Diego and New York City) where I was greeted with this explanation: Naked Yoga is a private club for men who like to practice yoga without the restriction of clothing.

After certifying my 18+ status for a second time, I found the answer to all my questions under "Why Naked Yoga?," which exposes the "lost art of homosensuality" (true, I can't remember the last time I was homosensual). The author says homosensuality can be achieved simply by being naked in the presence of another man without even touching. Instead of solely using sex to do this, the author sought out local gay nudist groups but found himself disappointed because their membership seemed to be dominated by "older and out-of-shape guys." That's shitty. I thought he just wanted to be naked with some dudes, now he's getting all finicky? Still, I pressed on to make a reservation for the next class, but because this is a private club, I had to apply for membership.

Having to answer a litany of questions regarding my physical appearance and exercise regimen, I was then asked to provide my Body Mass Index (BMI) because it said only men with a BMI under 27 were admitted to the club. I clicked the provided link to the Center for Disease Control's BMI calculator, entered my height and weight, crossed my fingers and, voila, my BMI came in at 22.3. Thank you God and mom for that low-carb, low-sugar, low-taste diet growing up. The membership requirements reiterated their theory that fat men "can slow the pace of the class [making] partnering difficult." Shitty again. Why not be real and just say that hot guys get pissed when they have to partner up with a fatty?

I arrived 15 minutes early to the small West Hollywood pilates studio that rents out space to Naked Yoga. Waiting outside with my other classmates, the first thing I noticed was that many of them had a lot of body mass going on. How did they get past the stringent gatekeepers? My $20 entry fee (about four dollars more than a single class at a pricey yoga studio) was collected from a man who turned out to be the gatekeeper himself. He was pretty handsome, save for an unfortunate shade of teeth which made me think perhaps he had had a bout with meth or was a smoker.

We went upstairs into a mirrored studio and my classmates started disrobing like they were on fire. Stop, drop, and roll, bitches. Take a pause for the cause, we're in a fucking yoga class. I took my moment to set my purse in the corner (no, I did not mean to say "murse" and I don't think that's cute), laid out my mat, making sure I got a spot with nobody in front of me 'cause I didn't want to be staring at unregulated ass for the next 90 minutes especially in forward fold. I calmly removed my shirt, setting an example for my over-eager classmates. I pulled my jersey shorts and underwear down, stepped out of them, and daintily tossed them atop my purse for added security.

I felt surprisingly comfortable and frankly, really good about myself as I inspected my nude figure in the mirror. I rarely examine my naked body but here I had no choice. It was either mirror or asses. As the youngest one in the room by some 15 years and a BMI of 22.3 (don't forget that, y'all), I looked slammin'--especially next to Father Time with the titties next to me. [As an aside and for the record: I am not ageist. I revere my elders and when I'm old, lord knows I'm either gonna be a rough lookin' tranny or some broke-down queen or both.]

Our instructor, who I'll call "Darren," walked around in his boxer briefs introducing himself to each of us in an un-sexy Long Island accent. He appeared to be in his late-forties with a kind and handsome yet weathered face, full head of gray hair, leather tan, and super-toned body. When everyone was naked and waiting on their yoga mats, Darren took position in the front of the room and removed his boxer briefs to reveal the largest flaccid member I have ever seen in my life, ever. Ever.

But really, ever. The dick alone had a BMI of 30.

Darren began the class, not with some thoughtful words of inspiration but by asking if there were any Scorpios in the house. Really? Am I watching a tacky Vegas lounge act or am I in yoga class? He proceeded to give a full astrological report telling us which signs we should date and how Mercury was in retrograde and some other shit I ignored. His voice was soothing but in an Alan Thicke, game-show host kind of way. In fact, now that I think about it, he had a whole Alan Thicke vibe going on. He should work that. Darren walked over to the stereo to turn on his iPod and screeching, piercing feedback erupted from the speakers. After we removed our hands from our ears some funky techno house beat came on and it was the fucking song from that Geico caveman commercial.

The class itself was just as challenging as any yoga class I have taken but the instruction was mediocre. Everyone's nudity mostly faded into the background except for a few times like when the man next to me demonstrated a plow pose on his back with his ankles by his ears. Also when Darren came behind me in a stretch and pressed his body against my back to deepen my pose. Put a rubber on before that thing brushes up against my ass and gives me something. Scary ass monster dick. By the end of class, I was sweating everywhere, sliding all over my mat, stinking the place up. I had recently given up deodorant containing aluminum chlorohydrate for a useless deodorant crystal and I was diggin' my stank! Feeling natural. Feeling homosensual.

When our naked odyssey finally came to an end 90 minutes later, I was exhausted and pleased that I had made it through the class. I jumped back into the safety of my clothes, grabbed my purse, and thanked Darren and his dick. Returning to my Honda Civic Hybrid (I've gone green), I glanced at my flushed face in the rear-view mirror reflecting upon this daring adventure to be naked amongst other gay men--all of us sweating, breathing heavily, and not one erection in sight (though the website assured me erections in class were fine and perfectly natural). Homosensuality, for me, exists in the brotherhood of being in your rawest, most vulnerable form with other gay men of all backgrounds. We share a rich cultural history that is mired in shame but rich with creativity and fortitude. This was a chance to celebrate that.


25 October 2008

Unabashed Homophobe: Can Jerry Lewis Die Already?

Jerry Lewis is mad comfortable saying "fag." He did it last year on his fuckin' telethon and again this week during a televised news conference in Australia. When a reporter asked for Jer's opinion on the national sport of cricket, he replied: "Oh, cricket? It's a FAG game. What are you, nuts?"

Jerry starred in one of my favorite films, Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, co-starring Unabashed Queer Queen and inspiration, Sandra Bernhard. During Sandra's 2006 appearance on The View, she revealed (now I sound like fuckin' Perez Hilton) that, in addition to referring to her as "fish lips," Jerry also wanted her to do her own stunt, falling into a glass (parsons) table covered in lit candles, wearing only a bra and panties. He was probably intimidated by her sexual ambiguity and the fact that she wouldn't fuck him so he wanted her dead.

Shame, shame, deep-rooted gay-shame on you, Jerry Lewis, you incontinent alter cocker. If he's saying fag on television during fucking charity events just imagine what he says in his day-to-day life. I'm sure you can catch him down at Katz' Deli demanding that his "shvartze" waitress bring him some mustard for his tongue sandwich. He needs to get abashed and catch a case of some straight guilt. I want him to be nervous every time he even thinks of a gay person, be scared to utter the word, like some guilt-ridden white person who whispers the word "black." Whisper it, old man, whisper it! Look around before you say it, make sure I don't hear it cause I'll pop out of the bushes and cut you!

He's eighty-two years old, he's had a colorful existence, it's time to pack it up and call it a life. I'll help him pack.

22 October 2008

Unabashed Queers of the Week: Eight year-old Brandon/Bridget Simms and his mother, Tina

He spoke his first full sentence at a local Italian restaurant: “I like your high heels,” he told a woman in a fancy red dress.

The November 2008 issue of The Atlantic features a fascinating article by Hanna Rosin about the growing number of transgender children, some of whom are transitioning before puberty. The touching article is centered around eight-year-old Brandon and his mother, Tina, a courageous woman, who, in the face of much adversity, is determined to allow her child to grow up in a gratifying, unabashed way. The Simms' do not live in Manhattan and Tina does not have a degree from Brown in sociology. They live in a double-wide trailer in a "small southern town...where confederate flags line the main street," and Tina used to operate heavy machinery in the army. I thought growing up in metropolitan Atlanta with a basket-case mother was difficult.

Rosin follows the Simms', including Brandon's step-father, Bill, to a conference in Pennsylvania for transgender children and their families where Bill and Tina buy Brandon a two-piece bathing suit for a pool party. Two months after the conference, Rosin checks in on Brandon who is now going by "Bridget," and Tina, who has given away all of his boy clothes, is complying. Brandon's ears are pierced and his hair is slowly growing out. “If it doesn’t move any faster, I’ll have to get [Brandon/Bridget] extensions!” Tina says.

That's a good mother.

20 October 2008

Unabashed Queer TIVO Must: WE's "Sex Change Hospital"

Dr. Marci Bowers is the kind of doctor I would love: level-headed, down-to-earth, compassionate, and a post-op transsexual. Now that is real. Dr. Bower specializes in gynecology, pelvic and reconstructive surgery--another name for a sex-change operation . Admittedly, I wondered for a second if she performed her own sex-change like a hair-stylist who cuts her own hair.

This ground-breaking docu-reality show on WE (Women's Entertainment) profiles Dr. Bower's patients from pre-op to post-op delving into both their medical and personal experiences. And you should see some of the vaginae Dr. Bower created. I don't have much experience--actually, zero--in vaginae but these seem pretty damn good. "Sex Change Hospital" airs Tuesdays at 8pm on WE.

Unabashed Appropriation - Straight Male Hipsters, if you're gonna wear that, you better have a dick in your mouth

God Damn, I remember when that horrible h-word didn't even exist as it does today. "Hipster" was a reference to the beat poets, not some faggoty looking straight white guy. I have allegedly straight male acquaintances who have gone from appropriating black male culture, acting and dressing like 2-Pac, throwing up gang signs in every Myspace photo, to appropriating queer culture, touting their love of The Golden Girls, and wearing women's jeans. Are straight white men incapable of an original thought? Why can't they fucking stay their bland, bleary selves in their nondescript Old Navy cargo pants?

Try being a fucking real queer like me and having a casual conversation with some straight hipster guy. He will undoubtedly think you are hitting on him because he is so often confused for gay cause he stole our style. He will do anything he can to let you know he has a girlfriend. Anyway to slip it into the conversation, "Oh yeah, my girlfriend..." Just to nicely let you know even though he looks like a fucking cock-eater, he isn't one. Well, if you're gonna cop my style, YOU BETTER BE RIDING DICK. MAN UP, YOU APPROPRIATING PUSSY.

So you're thinking, "David Bowie and Mick Jagger married women and they dressed faggoty." Darling, they ate dick for breakfast because they knew if you wanna dress like a fucking faggot you better be able to back the shit up.

The only reason these fucking straight guys have the balls to dress like US is because now it's safe. WE made it safe for them. We were the ones on the front lines wearing outrageous, gender-ambiguous clothing, make-up, and hair, getting beat up and verbally harassed and now it's fucking safe and the straight man is once again enjoying the fruits of someone else's labor. Straight male hipsters, as Salt-N-Pepa once spit: Get off my bra-strap, boy, stop sweatin' me!

19 October 2008

EX-ternalized Homophobia: Turning Shit Inside Out & Upside Down

I have yet to meet a Lesbian/Gay/Queer/Trans person without some internalized homophobia. This fucking deep-rooted core shame runs so deep bitches don't even or won't even or can't even acknowledge its existence.

I am turning the shit inside out and upside down now.

Sit back and have a taste of my own brand of gay shame (shout out to my people at gayshame) as I summon it like some high voodoo priestess shaking a chicken bone over a bubbling cauldron in some freaky New Orleans moment (thank you, SB). Watch closely as it morphs from rage to self-love and, ultimately, to the gift of being my most authentic unabashed queer self. No apologies.

Unabashed? Queer?


Definition: Characterized by or done without shame.
Synonyms: bald-faced, barefaced, blatant, brazen, brazenfaced, unblushing, prideful, proud; bold, brassy, brazen, impudent, insolent, saucy, shameless; unapologetic, undaunted, undeterred, undismayed; unblinking, unflinching, unshrinking
"Gay-bashing" is a common term for hate crimes committed against my people. The prefix "un-" means "not, opposite of, reverse action, release from," so it's a cool coincidence that "unabashed" pairs un + bash as if to say "no longer bashed."


I use the word "Queer" because of its ambiguity. Queer means different things to different people. To some it is offensive slang and to some it is an umbrella term for gay/bi/les/trans people. To me, Queer is a re-appropriated term used to describe sexual orientation and/or gender identity or gender expression that does not conform to heteronormative society (wiki).


This website is dedicated to Julie Abraham, Professor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. It is also dedicated to the faculty and staff of Northfield Mount Hermon School who nurtured the exploration of my identity in a safe setting.