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June 2005 - Posts

June 30, 2005 10:03 AM

All washed up

Actor Camryn Manheim: "I had 12 earrings in my ear, I rode a motorcycle, and a had a tattoo. As fate would have it, I'm a heterosexual, which all of you know is no picnic. I think I would have had a lot more lovin' in my life if I were gay. I did 'The L Word' and they put me on it and they didn't even let me play a lesbian! Isn't that crazy? I played a straight girl. I just don't have enough clout in Hollywood, apparently."


ADDENDUM: From the summer 2005 "On Our Backs," which I read for the articles: "Guinevere Turner may be the most important lesbian in Hollywood ["Go Fish", "American Psycho", "The Notorious Bettie Page" and "Blood Rayne"]... Turner has been vital to numerous groundbreaking LGBT projects, including TV's first lesbian ensemble drama, 'The L Word.'"

Interview excerpts: "Friends of mine are like, 'Hell, yeah, when we go to that city and that film festival, I'm going to fuck the cutest one that comes on to me!' Whereas, I'm like, 'Ew, they're totally fucking a cardboard cutout of me.' I was in London... [with a woman in a band relatively famous at that time in England.... Just about when she was going to really get into it, she says in a British accent, "I can't believe I'm about to go down on Guinevere Turner'.... It had already gone too far. I couldn't get rid of her at that point."

Turner's writing contract with "The L Word" was not renewed for the next season. "I don't know why I wasn't asked back."

On "Queer As Folk": "I heard a rumour that initially on 'Queer As Folk' they didn't have lesbians -- they were forced by the network to add them. [The writers] decided, 'We're going to make them really boring, so you'll realize we don't want to write about lesbians.'"

June 30, 2005 10:02 AM

Cue the violin

Today's papers report that the Senate will sit through July to pass same-sex marriage and budget numbers.

The House of Commons reconvenes at the end of September, but His Nibs Paul Martin has promised an election once the Gomery Inquiry into the corruption tainting his Liberal Party is released -- meaning there'll likely be no chance for any actual Parliamentary work to get done.

Where does that leave us?

The trans rights bill, C-392, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (gender identity), will go poof! It's a private member's bill, and didn't get debated because it didn't win the lottery that chooses the lucky few allowed to go forward. And I doubt it will happen in the fall given the time frame.

And the solicitation subcommittee will be dissolved, again (this was its second incarnation), and the repeal of prostitution and bathhouse laws will be forgotten. Sickening, isn't it?

June 29, 2005 6:56 PM

Gosh, which word d'you think's most offensive?

Recall the first J.K. Rowling tome, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." At least, it was so titled everywhere in the world but the United States, where it was re-dubbed "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Because there was a word in the original title that was too hard for Americans.

We take you now to Canadian Scott Thompson's Global TV show, "My Fabulous Gay Wedding," where every week two homosexualists get hitched. It premiered this month -- and it's also a co-production with the American Logo, the 24/7 queer channel launching tomorrow, June 30. The July Out Magazine, an American glossy, lists the Logo version of the Scott Thompson show as being named "First Comes Love."

Uhm. "Wedding"?

June 29, 2005 6:55 PM

Aaaaaargh

We interrupt this blog in order to test our emergency broadcast system. Yeah. That's the ticket. Today's brief downtime is on purpose. Yeah.... I know it's perplexing to be unable to connect with Oples -- thanks for your patience.

June 28, 2005 5:09 PM

How strong and proud is our community: Please oh please, can we be a part of your club? Hunh? Pretty please?

Bill C-38, the same-sex marriage legislation, is through the House of Commons (158 votes to 133), and now it's off to the Senate, where poobahs have promised speedy passage. Bla bla here.

A politician's self-congratulatory giddiness here.

Meanwhile, the House is adjourned until Sept. 26. So much for everything else that needed to be done, like the bill protecting transgender folks from discrimination when seeking the basic necessities of shelter, for example.

LAST GASPS: Liberal Joe Comuzzi, the federal minister for northern Ontario economic development, quit Cabinet and returned to the back benches, so as to avoid being forced to vote for same-sex marriage.

And "Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says his party will revisit the same-sex marriage law if he forms the next government. His promise is one of many indications that the issue is unlikely to die even after Canada becomes the third country in the world to legalize same-sex unions. How Harper might handle the issue is unclear since almost every provincial and territorial government has made gay marriage legal."

POSTED WEDNESDAY: There's a pretty solid collection of links to Canadian marriage news stories here. And a maudlin queer response to marriage that's truly embarrassing.

June 28, 2005 10:22 AM

Drop everything, honey, it's lesbo poetry

Yeah, yeah, 12 whole lines of the ancient Greek chickie Sappho's poetry have been re-discovered. Twelve! Be still my heart.

"[Blank] the fragrant-blossomed Muses' lovely gifts
[blank] girls, [blank] clear melodious lyre:
[blank] body old age now
[blank] my hair's turned [blank] instead of dark;
my heart's grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.
This state I oft bemoan; but what's to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there's no way.
Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world's end,
handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."

About Sappho: "As a woman, Sappho had the good fortune to be born into a society which allowed her talent scope to develop, a culture which was, to judge by the evidence of her poems, markedly less misogynous and gynophobic than that of many Greek cities," according to Jim Powell in his 1993 book "Sappho: A Garland, The Poems & Fragments of Sappho Translated." Women weren't allowed to vote in Athens, as I recall. Oh, and slavery and all. In any case, she was famous in her time, though very little of the work survives. Her rep is really based on 2,600-year-old gossip extolling her talent (thank gawd for celebrity culture).

As for looks, "She is reputed to have been short, dark and ugly."

Sappho's best-known poem's here; here's my fave:

"[blank]
[blank]
[blank]
hope of love [blank]
[blank]
[blank] for when I look at you face to face [blank]
then it seems to me that not even Hermione
matched you, and comparing you with blonde Helen's nothing unseemly,
if that is permitted to mortal women.
Know this in your heart [blank]
[blank]
would free me from all my worries
[blank]
[blank] dewy banks [blank]
[blank]
[blank] all night long [blank]
[blank]"

Inspiring, isn't it?


ADDENDUM: In the second edition of her 1912 book, "Sappho and the Island of Lesbos," professor Mary Mills Patrick noted, "The Lesbian women mixed freely with male society. They were free, according to the custom of their age, to frequent all parts of the island, and to pursue whatever interests they chose. Slavery existed to a certain degree, although not quite in the form of the later Athenian custom. Slaves were gained though conquest in war from the earliest times.... [though some Greeks purchased barbarians as slaves]. It was customary in ancient society for slaves to perform all menial work, and Lesbos was doubtless no exception in this respect. It is certain that women of position in the Greek islands were relieved from much of the harder work of household management, and could give their time to music and poetry, and to long strolls through the beautiful country surrounding their primitive homes. They were as well educated as the men, and were accustomed to express their sentiments to an extent almost unknown elsewhere in the history of the Greeks."

Breakfast was crusts of bread soaked in wine; it was illegal for criminals to educate their children with the offspring of good citizens, and those who committed a crime while drunk received twice the sentence given the sober scofflaw.

Sappho had one daughter, and it's suggested that her husband died soon after the wedding. She was crabby with a brother, who briefly took up with a stunning slave freed for her beauty. "One legend which has long been believed about her is that she threw herself [into the sea] because of unrequited love for a young man called Phaon." Patrick simply wrote: "It is hardly necessary to say that as an historical fact the story was from the beginning without foundation, and does not accord with the events of her life." Phaon was likely a mythological character, and Patrick -- a missionary -- implied that Sappho chose chastity. Later in the book, that yucky lesbian stuff was firmly refuted.

More from Patrick: "It is an easy matter to visit Lesbos [known as Mitylene] today, and to behold the scenes which surrounded Sappho.... She is seldom spoken of by ancient writers without the adjectives beautiful or fair, yet we cannot be sure whether it was her personal appearance which gave rise to this description, or the character of her verses. She was probably beautiful, for Lesbos was the land of fair women.... The beauty of the women of Lesbos is often referred to in early times [the island hosted famous beauty contests], but strange to say today the island is noted for the beauty of its men and the ugliness of its women."

June 28, 2005 8:24 AM

Drat, do I have to?

On the plus side, your cantankerous Canadian scribe, without an electronic tablet upon which to engrave her scribbles, has been freed from the hourly agony of posting updates on the ludicrous same-sex wedding shenanigans in the House of Commons.

I'd just have to add new rumours every 180 minutes anyway. The latest is here (maybe). (I did appear on the CBC national evening news on Sunday, June 26, breaking the ranks and dissing marriage. With the blog down, I guess I... needed to talk.)

The whining -- I mean, lobbying -- from Egale Canada and Canadians for Equal Marriage seems to be making an impressive impression in ensuring passage of the bill. Not. It's the politicians themselves, some of whom desperately want marriage behind them so it won't impact on the next election. (You think it's because they care? Oh please. Okay, I'll give you a handful of New Democrats, but even some of them have backed away slowly.) New Brunswick added itself to the list of legal queer hitching posts last week, by the by, leaving only Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Nunavut and Northwest Territories as conscientious objectors. Or something.

Change of pace: Let's visit our poor schlub neighbours. In a recent piece, conservative queer media columnist Dale Carpenter writes that American gay men and lesbians have "hit a wall of public disapproval on gay marriage and, more broadly, on the morality of homosexuality itself. After moving the polls in our direction for a decade or so, the number of Americans who support gay marriage has now stabilized and even turned slightly against us. The same trend is evident when people are asked about the morality of homosexuality."

"How do we breach this wall? Not, I think, by more talk of equality and liberty. We have won over just about everyone who will be moved by such arguments." And Carpenter looks at the problems of equality and liberty talk when it comes to marriage -- because it's an institution that is inherently judgmental: "It says some ways of living are better than others. Some relationships are healthier than others. Two-person relationships are better than three-person relationships..." See also monogamy, babies, and spousal benefits.

Banning marriage is a lovely idea, Carpenter says, but it's never going to happen. "Marriage is founded on neither equality nor liberty. It is in some ways the negation of these. It is a way of binding people together in a union that is thought to benefit the couple, any children they raise, and the community around them, to an extent that other relationships simply do not. That's why it is a social institution. It is shaped by and helps to nurture the society in which it arises.

"If we are to get gay marriage, we must be able to appeal to the bulk of the country that properly understands marriage in this way. We must argue for it not on the basis of anti-discrimination principles, or on the basis of individual liberty, but on the basis of community."

But can we manage that without laughing?

June 28, 2005 7:32 AM

Hello, Hogtown

I miss Tranna. Don't tell anyone.

Miriam Verburg has very kindly listed Oples (that's Opinionated Lesbian for the lazy -- and I mean me!) in Now magazine's Pride round-up of cool queer sites. One of Miriam's recent posts, accessed in the middle of the work day, made me turn off my computer in favour of reading Leonard Cohen.

June 28, 2005 7:30 AM

Missed you

Yoiks.

Here at Oples we do everything big. We even go offline big. I apologize profusely for the downtime -- it was a cranky-making technical problem. Alas, alack, curses. There's e'en a wee bald patch upon the left side o' my pate. Mayhap the hair pulled out in agony will return anon?

We're planning a move to a new server in the very near future.

All safe as houses, fire
kennelled in a matchbox,
the water of drowned valleys
dammed behind taps.
Barring accidents, or malice --
nothing's disaster-proof.

- from poet David Malouf's "On Refusing an All-risk Insurance Policy"

June 22, 2005 4:58 PM

Monday Report goes daily

Rick Mercer, comic, professional Canuck and mumble mumble mumble sexual orientation, has a new blog.

June 22, 2005 11:20 AM

On "Mad Hot Ballroom"

Check out the (longish at 105 minutes) 2005 documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom:" Public school kids in New York learn to merengue and tango (but always with a chaste inch of air between them). It's good to see the class shrimp and even a few fatties, both boys and girls, take pride in athletic accomplishment.

Eleven-year-old girls dutifully parrot back what they've been told about boys, life and the universe.

As for the boys, even if Fred Astaire was straight, that type of talent is rarely appreciated these days, especially in an era when the arts are being downgraded in schools and -- well, this is filmed the United States, so I half expected WASP parents picketing to demand an end to teaching fagginess. (Ballroom dancing is an effete diversion from chopping wood and getting girls pregnant.)

As with so much in our society, the classes are vaguely subversive and yet in the end, clearly reinforce the gender status quo. (How much choice do the teachers have?) This is a glimpse into the childhood that many of us have mercifully forgotten.

June 21, 2005 2:14 PM

Our media matters

Community media is essential, whether you're a model railroader, a foot fetishist or a retro T-shirt fan. So I have no patience for those who say the queer media is unnecessary. (Tired, maybe, but not useless.) I still want to know what's happening at the dyke bar down the street and in the trans mom support group on the other side of the country -- and even an enlightened mainstream daily doesn't have the room or the interest to tell me that.

Why should it? Mass media exist to disseminate the grand outlines of information to the masses, and every smaller interest grouping, from soccer mom to beta fish owner, will always get the short shrift. (Remember that when the Nepean GLBT chess club bake sale doesn't make it into the Saturday Globe and Mail. Then do something about it: create your own neighbourhood e-mail list (Yahoo.ca offers a free and easy service), or a blog with RSS at one of the free sites available on the Internet.)

I have collated and posted a contact list of Canadian queer media. Keep in touch.

June 21, 2005 10:11 AM

Draw a stick figure, arms flailing; now add flames burning up his little round head. SATAN! SATAN!

"A parish priest in Paul Martin's riding says he's praying the prime minister will lose his seat in the next federal election because he's doing the devil's bidding on same-sex marriage," it sez here.

"Father Francis Geremia delivered his message in a fiery sermon during a Roman Catholic wedding mass over the weekend in Montreal. In a telephone interview Monday with The Canadian Press, the priest described himself as a former Liberal who has shifted his political allegiance in spectacular fashion. He's now working against Martin's party - and seeking help from a celestial ally.

"'He has to be very careful because he might even lose his riding,' Geremia said from Montreal. 'I pray that he will lose his riding. Because you cannot have two faces: either you serve God or you serve the devil.'"

Aaaaah, screams Paul Martin, beating at the fire about his ears.

June 20, 2005 10:20 AM

The bigger they are

Hubba hubba "Fat Actress" Kirstie Alley's hilariously and generally hetero-sex oriented first season (a 2005 Showtime production -- gotta work fast or the cellulite, and interest, will melt away) is now out on DVD. Alley moons over long-haired tunesmith Kid Rock in just the very same way that Rosie O'Donnell used to go on about how much she was in love with Tom Cruise.

Whatever can it all mean?


CANCON HAS WEIGHT, too. From columnist Richard Burnett in the June Fugues mag: "k.d. lang -- who alongside Melissa Etheridge and Ellen DeGeneres -- was at the centre of the first wave of lesbian chic back in the mid-90s, resurfaced after she replaced a sick Neil Young at Canada's Juno [music] awards. National Post gossip columnist Shinan Govani, who calls lang 'Canada's most famous lesbian,' quoted the hallowed music insider as saying: 'She's always been shy. But she seems even shyer now, now that she's fat.'

"Shinan also noted, 'It's been a long time since k.d. lang was k.d. lean, but many people seemed stunned by exactly how big the star has gotten.'

"The New York Post can't resist a fat lesbian, and the Post's all-gossip Page 6, under the headline 'Heavy Burden for k.d. lang,' breathlessly wrote: 'The corpulent crooner stole the show but stayed away from the red carpet and the parties.'

"The Post also pointed out that lang acknowledged in a recent interview in Britain's Independent that she had given up trying to be glamorous. 'I guess I didn't have the drive or the interest to stay in the game,' she reflects. 'It takes a lot of money and work to stay fabulous. I loved it when I was in it until I started to realize that it was disposable and fraudulent.... it's dealing with the hair, the makeup, the high heels. It removes you from the essence of who you are and what you have to offer.'"

When did k.d. lang ever wear high heels?

June 19, 2005 9:34 PM

Why take someone else's word for it?

I was young and buffeted by a maelstrom of politics and new ideas. And so, yours truly was briefly enamoured of the feminists (lesbianists?) who believed that porn should be banned and sex with men was inherently oppressive.

Eventually, a few years later, a new mindset took over, just as dangerously omnipresent, in which empowered grrrrl Third Wavers joined with cocky gay men to argue that all porn is swell and that naughty images do not affect us in any way. We have agency, you know.

I never quite understand the contention that porn has no impact on us, since it's a gazillion-dollar industry precisely because, uhm, it does have an immediate effect. Duh. And don't tell me that there's no desensitization, no resistance built up from seeing the same image over and over again -- or you'd buy one porn mag and get off on it for the rest of your life. (Geez. Did I just write "you"?)

I just want porn proponents to make arguments that make sense. To acknowledge the problems inherent in any theology, rather than to block them right out of conscious existence.

Which brings me to Andrea Dworkin. I did not write about Dworkin upon her death. Ugh, I thought of the task ahead: too complicated. I don't wanna.

American leftie, author and playwright Paula Martinac, who is taking her leave from a distinguished run writing the queer-media syndicated "Lesbian Notions," noted in one of her last columns that "there's been a peculiar shortage of commentary in the LGBT press about the death [in April] of lesbian-feminist writer and theorist Andrea Dworkin. Interestingly, everything I've read has been written by feminist-identified gay men."

Martinac (conflict note: I work with Paula on another project) wonders if women are embarrassed at Dworkin's "loud angry dyke" persona. I think we're embarrassed by her porn hating and man bashing because dykes are desperately busy buying into the idea that gay male culture is an ideal and yay porn!

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dworkin's followers were guilty of mis-judgments both ridiculous and sickening. Martinac wrote: "When [the lezzie] On Our Backs first began publishing, an ex-lover of mine wrote the editors an angry letter berating them for creating a porn magazine in the first place and then for choosing a name that mocked the revered, P.C. lesbian-feminist publication Off Our Backs. An ex-lover of hers dismissed my experience of forced sex with another woman by asserting that the term 'rape' only applied to men hurting women."

I never read Dworkin back when ( I was far too busy changing the world). That's one of the reasons I didn't want to eulogize her. Martinac did, however, pull out some old tomes: "So it has been fascinating, 20-some years later, to revisit Dworkin. Despite the limitation of views like 'Fucking is the means by which the male colonizes the female,' she was remarkably ahead of her time.... Dworkin was [also] writing that the categories of 'male' and 'female' were social constructs, and was calling for the elimination of gender.

"She was helping to bring violence against women to public consciousness long before there were star-studded readings of 'The Vagina Monologues'. And when it was far from hip for lesbians and gay men to create families together, Dworkin was herself settled down with a gay male life partner."

Dworkin doesn't deserve to be forgotten by her own generation.

Read pornographer Susie Bright's angry and affectionate obituary for Andrea Dworkin. Then read Dworkin in the original. She helped make us -- lesbians, and gay men too -- into who and what we are today.

June 19, 2005 9:10 PM

No slow simmer, just talk back

A reminder that the feedback section on the blog has been disabled temporarily, as programming types figure out how to block the frigging spammers. And I've just discovered that the "contact me" form has been swallowed up. So... send comments by clicking here, or e-mail eleanorbrown at OpinionatedLesbian.com -- replacing the " at " with @, of course.

June 17, 2005 10:09 AM

That's Mister SissyPants, to you

"Although I am mellower in my Senior Discount Years, I still play this game with my editor which none of you readers ever get to see," confides Ben Williams, a columnist with the queer weekly Salt Lake Metro. "I capitalize the word Gay and my editor or proofreader lowercases it." This game has been going on for more than a year, and Williams then explains the politics behind his stubborn streak.

"I proudly, as a Gay person, remain steadfast in adhering to a resolution that was voted on by the Committee for Homosexual Freedom in November 1969. They decided, way back then, to 'request all publications to hereafter capitalize the word Gay.' Advocates of Gay rights argued that Gay is a proper noun and proper adjective when describing a people. Libbers were reclaiming the lexicon used to define us as a people, rather than adhering slavishly to how the straight world wants to define us. At this historic meeting it was strongly felt that heterosexual writers and lexicographers were, by lowercasing the word, aiding and abetting in 'the psychological oppression of homosexuals.'"

Williams is appalled that self-respecting queer reporters "can accept this political decision to lowercase the word Gay."

"But if we are a people -- if we have defined ourselves as a distinct community or folk or tribe, then we are indeed proper nouns and adjectives and, damn it, Gay!"

June 16, 2005 9:23 AM

Happy Pride Day to all

Item: "For the first time in the two years since gay marriage was declared legal in British Columbia a same-sex couple has divorced."

The two women were married in 2003, when the province's top court struck down het-only weddings. But of course, divorce was still only for straights because the law works that way. "In granting the divorce order on Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow struck down the old definition of a married couple as being a man and a women under the province's Divorce Act. Gerow ruled the definition was unconstitutional."

It's Canada's second same-sex divorce; the very first was in Ontario -- they were women, too. And oh yes. By legal fiat, all these gals can only be known publicly as initials -- no real names.

Because we're out and proud.

June 15, 2005 3:15 PM

For the next stand-off, wherever it is

In the late 1800s, Joe Beef's Canteen, on Montreal's waterfront, was a place for sailors, wharf rats, petty thieves and the like. It's become a working-class legend, and the name of the fictional Joe Beef is even better-known than that of the actual owner, Charles McKiernan.

Some of his pet bears became drunks, the human regulars played piano, and McKiernan held court in rhyming couplets. The two skeletons behind the bar were portrayed as the owner's first wife, his Irish relatives, or the remains of the last temperance lecturer to annoy patrons.

Joe Beef provided wooden sofas as beds for ten cents (you got a blanket, and a bath if you were filthy). For another dime, you were fed for the day -- a good chunk of the patrons were boys of 12 to 14 who earned their living selling newspapers. And if you had no cash, the cost was simply waived.

In December 1877 some 1,000 labourers working on enlarging the Lachine Canal had their salaries cut, and went on strike. They demanded one dollar a day, a daily maximum of nine hours of work, regular pay every two weeks, and actual money, rather than "truck" like a chicken and a pint of scotch in lieu of wages.

Following a riot, the strike leader was shot, and the army was called in to restore the peace and protect those who remained on the job.

According to "Joe Beef of Montreal" (by Peter DeLottinville in Labour/Le Travailleur, Autumn-Spring 81-82): "Practical in all things, McKiernan realized that strikers, like the army, travel on their stomachs. On the morning of 20 December, he sent 300 loaves of bread, 36 gallons of tea, and a similar quantity of soup. These supplies required two wagons to be delivered. In addition to feeding the strikers, McKiernan took in as many as the Canteen could hold. One night 300 people found shelter under his roof.

"Throughout the strike McKiernan was observed 'carting loaves and making good, rich soup in mammoth boilers, as if he were a commissary-general with the resources of an army at his back.' No doubt his military training was put to the test in maintaining order in his kitchen. That background also made the tavern keep aware of the awkward position of the Prince of Wales Rifles who had been hastily summoned to guard the canal.

"To ensure that the soldier ate as well as a striker, McKiernan despatched a wagon of bread to the men on duty. The soldiers saw the humour in Joe Beef's assistance and gave most of the bread away to the crowd. Some of the tension between striker and soldier was successfully released."

June 14, 2005 7:49 PM

He hates gay marriage soooooo much

Ontario politico Pat O'Brien, who jumped from the ruling Grits to sit as an independent, might -- just might -- bring down the Canadian government tonight. A series of financial (and therefore confidence) votes are scheduled for 10 pm Ottawa time, and buddy says he has at least one ally from the Liberals who'll go against the party.

O'Brien "wants a promise, in writing, that the passage of the same-sex marriage bill will not happen until after Parliament resumes in the fall. O'Brien did not say which Liberal member of Parliament is joining him in seeking the delay." More here. The numbers are darned close.


POSTED 11:20 pm: The government has survived two confidence motions so far. Looks like the whole thing was O'Brien grandstanding for the religious right (puff puff) -- and some sly panic-inducement for the same-sex marriage types.

Move along. Nothing happening here.


WEDNESDAY: But Pat O'Brien wins, just the same? The morning paper sez the same-sex marriage bill will NOT pass before the summer recess. And bye the bye, no Liberal caucus members voted with O'Brien against the guv'mint.

The legislative committee studying the bill reports to the House of Commons tomorrow, June 16.

June 14, 2005 1:18 PM

Jonesing for more Jacko?

Poor you. From Michael Musto: "John Waters had sensibly told me, 'Whatever the verdict is, I'll be shocked.' It's so true. No matter what the outcome, I would have been screaming and throwing things." From New Yawk's Village Voice, "The case had more holes than a botched nose job." And yet more from the Voice: "Those Lips, Those Lies."

There's lots more earnest gay pre verdict chatter: "Dangerous, or just off the wall: Some fear being associated with Jackson's 'perversion.'"

From The Advocate (also pre verdict), a writer wonders why he assumes Michael Jackson is guilty, guilty, guilty.

Post V-day, PlanetOut: "Michael Jackson and the specter of the gay boogeyman."

Queer intellectuals and gossipmongers will be cranking it out: check back! I'll add to this list over the next couple of days.


STOP THE PRESSES. Gawker presents headlines we need to see.

From the horse's mouth (ahem): Mikie is darned important. He's made HIStory. And dahlink, my previous Wacko post's here.

NEW for Thursday:

Quick profiles of the real charmin' demonstrators at the Michael Jackson trial. One sign read "America: Execute All Homosexuals and Pedophiles Right Now!" Another yelled at a Court TV reporter: "'Diane Dimond is a snake! Court TV sucks!' he bellowed, the words picked up by his friends. This escalated to 'Diane Dimond is a bitch!' and, finally, 'Sneeze, whore, sneeze!'"

June 14, 2005 11:56 AM

My exclusive club

As a young reporter, I once walked up to the door of the Hell's Angels' Halifax clubhouse. The front yard was a paved square, framed by a tall fence. And a touch pad ensured that the reinforced steel door could only be opened by those with the proper entrance code.

I wanted to ask about the sign that had recently disappeared from the front of the building (we're talking September 1987). It featured, in silhouette, an afro, nose and giant lips, with a big line thought it: No blacks here.

There was talk of perhaps rehanging the portrait: "Maybe yes, maybe no. We haven't really had time [to get another sign]," said the very stoned guy whose T-shirt featured a skeleton on a motorbike. "But you can buy them anywhere."

The sign, it turned out, was perfectly legal. Nova Scotia's Human Rights Act provided protection in areas such as housing and employment. But the Hell's were simply identifying who could be a member and who could not. "If you put a swastika outside your house, there's nothing we can do," said the commission's chief human rights officer: The anti-discrimination law didn't regulate private clubs.

Another commission official told me: "You can discriminate privately. The prohibition deals with institutions, with the state. It doesn't deal with personal prejudice." And hate literature rules were also useless: a single sign identifying membership requirements wasn't enough to qualify as the intentional promotion of hatred towards an identifiable group.

Fast forward to the present. "So I saw an ad that's going to be printed in our next issue, in proof stage, that took me aback. After a general description of the sorts of services offered by the advertiser, the last line reads, 'White customers preferred.' Actually, it's spelled more idiosyncratically in the ad, but that's the gist," blogs an Eye magazine staffer. Eye is a Toronto alt weekly (though owned by the mega Torstar corp).

"I wondered about the simple legality of us printing something like this. So I called our handy dandy lawyers and to my surprise, and possibly to yours, it's perfectly legal to discriminate on whatever grounds you like when the transaction in question is of a highly personal nature.

"If, say, you're looking for a tenant to share your 2-bedroom apartment, apparently you can just up and say 'No Jews.' Or if you’re hiring a nurse to help you while you're housebound, your ad can say 'No fags.' Apparently, it's in the same category as personal ads that say things like 'No fats, no femmes.' Funny, huh?"

So a big landlord can't refuse a homo seeking an apartment because of their sexual orientation. But if I want to rent a room in my house to a student, then yeah, I can refuse a black or a Jew or a homosexual. That person's going to be using my toaster and stepping into my bath tub, and I'm allowed to decide who I want to share such personal space with.

June 13, 2005 6:04 PM

Er, ah, EEEEEEEEEEEEE

Hunh. Michael Jackson is not guilty. It was all anti-gay hysteria, and the Free Michael Jackson site is the next big I-told-you-so hit.

Well.

June 13, 2005 10:18 AM

The power of the masses

Together, we can help free Katie.

And get a Monday morning hit of gossip here: The latest on Paris (Hilton and her mom were the Grand Marshals of the weekend's Los Angeles Pride parade), Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mikie, Alicia Silverstone's alleged wedding, and Darth Vader's gay side (don't pretend you're surprised; the bad guys are always gay).


ADDENDUM: I like Pamela Anderson. She's a pin-up with brains, a vegetarian who launched her own line of cruelty-free beauty products, and she was the big name at an AIDS fundraiser this month (Toronto's Fashion Cares). As with all divas, there's tragedy and messiness, too.

June 13, 2005 10:17 AM

The deformities within

Grown-ups tell ugly children that beauty is on the inside, then pray the kids survive their own plainness. We cajole teens through passing pimples, try to hide our surprise and distaste of deformity.

Canadian Chris Landreth's Oscar-winning short animated film "Ryan" is now available for rent through the National Film Board. Its adults physically reflect the psychic pain of life. And it's beautiful.

June 11, 2005 6:28 PM

Working through the hypocrisy

The Supreme Court of Canada's verdict opening up Medicare (that's socialized medicine, for you foreigners) allowing the private sector a secure foothold into the publicly-funded system left me extremely uneasy. The nightmarish possibility of the rich skimming off the cream and leaving to poor with the dregs of the resources scares the heck out of me.

How dare activist judges make such a decision? Politicians -- Canadians -- should be making these determinations.

Of course, this is the very reaction of religious fundamentalists to any gay rights-related court decision. Sigh.

La Presse columnist Yves Boisvert has picked up on this very dilemma today, and tries to resolve it.

My ersatz translation follows: "In the case of marriage, we can disagree with the idea that equality for homosexuals is blocked by the traditional definition of marriage, that being the union of a man and a woman. But it's incontestable that if one sees it as a discriminatory definition, then the simple annulment [ha ha] of the old definition fixes the problem.

"In other words, the judges involve themselves in a socially controversial debate, they analyze it according to judicial precedent and according to their understanding of fundamental rights, and if they find a violation, they change the rules. The problem -- here, the inability of gays to marry -- is fixed."

Boisvert writes that there's a clear logical connection between A (problem) and B (solution); in fact, there's no other solution possible in the marriage case if it's to be resolved. (Actually, I would say the courts could have overturned the institution of marriage itself as being invalid because of its discriminatory nature, but that really would have turned the world upside down, so let's say that option is just too bananas for the vast majority of judges and society and leave it at that.)

In terms of the Medicare decision, Boisvert writes, the judges ruled that long waiting lists for surgery are unconstitutional, and private health insurance can now pay for customers to jump the queue.

Boisvert rightly points out that this solution to the problem of long waiting lists is not the only possible solution at all.

Judges could have ordered an extra $10 million to be spent immediately on health care; they could have called the waiting list unconstitutional and simply required a fix or else... and left it up to government to figure out. Instead, the judges picked the solution that suited their politics.

I have a healthy skepticism of government -- all gay people should, as we've truly suffered from morals laws. But that doesn't mean that government should be sidestepped on issues of public policy with multiple possible solutions.

Damned activist judges.

June 10, 2005 10:18 AM

Who needs it any more?

A visitor from Vancouver popped by the Montreal gay village last week. (There's a map here, no endorsement of this business is implied!) The visitor discovered a few blocks of space filled with older folk -- almost no one his age (around 40), and no young'uns, either.

The village has become both refuge and familiar family for those who came out years ago, in very different times. But perhaps the times, they are a-changing.

June 9, 2005 9:18 AM

How dare you? I *deserve* hugs and kisses, dammit

Tolerance is the queer activist's enemy, the hated mere acceptance of existence rather than the joyful encouragement of the life and lifestyle of others. Geez, but activists can be stupid. More here.

June 9, 2005 9:07 AM

Through the haze of booze, I vaguely recall...

This blog was just mentioned in the June Concordia University alumni magazine -- yes, my alma mater (enrolled 1989, graduated 2004 -- thanks for taking me back, eh!). Salutations to all.

June 8, 2005 10:59 AM

Perhaps the stats would look better if they were beaten after the smooching?

These numbers are from the June Genre magazine.

Six: Number of gay male kisses that have appeared on network TV, ever.

61: Current percentage of TV shows that contain violence.
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