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September 2005 - Posts

September 30, 2005 12:49 PM

Scream queen

The flick Hellbent, now making the rounds (though I can as yet see no Canadian dates), bills itself as "The first ever GAY Slasher film!!!"

Sure, okay. If you want to ignore the entire fucking history of horror cinema. Duh.

Horror movie equals gay.

The 1921 German "Nosferatu" was the world's first vampyre (I love the y!) movie, and it was gay gay gay, starting with director F.W. Murnau's homosexuality.

"Nosferatu" was completely stolen from the veddy British Bram Stoker's "Dracula," and the fang-meister's widow successfully sued to have Nossy destroyed. Thankfully, a few prints survived (though some scenes in the restored version I watched were barely there).

It's a silent, of course, but the DVD I rented included a scene-by-scene interpretation. The film's main human character is the real estate agent Hutter. And we first see his wife, Ellen, teasing a cat and then doing needlework which, the voice-over advises, tells us that she is sexually frustrated. (This I would not have figured out on my own, but having heard the thesis, I refrained from playing with the cats for the rest of evening, so as not to hurt my sweetie's feelings.)

We are told that the endlessly mugging Hutter has obviously refused to consummate the relationship, and he then runs off on a long and arduous trip to sell a deserted German mansion to "Count Orlock" (The Bad Guy).

"The film conceals allusions to homosexuality," reads this analysis, too. "Hutter leaves his wife for the Count and the dinner scene at the chateau resembles a seduction scene where the young man succumbs fairly easily. The vampire's bite can also be considered as a forbidden kiss between two men." I'll say. Vavoom.

In general, it sez here, "The monsters of cinema, indeed of popular culture in general, are troubled, and troubling, outsiders, their sexuality thwarted or altered, sometimes seductive and suave, other times repulsive and terrifying.... They can easily be read as doubles for societal views of homosexuals as predatory, amoral, perverse, possessed of secret supernatural powers, capable of -- and very interested in -- destroying 'normal life' and toppling such vulnerable institutions as the nuclear family, the church, capitalism, the heterosexual paradigm, or a combination thereof.

But a different film nut says Nosferatu is one of the few vampyre flicks that breaks the mold: "While this association [of the vampire with homosexuality] pervaded much of the Victorian era, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the sexual vampire gave way to a more horrific image, and the first vampire films, F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu and Tod Browning's London After Midnight (1925), reflect this trend. Early vampire cinema is remarkably heterosexist, belying the literary tradition that spawned it."

Either way, the horror genre is infused with gayness, though perhaps not all the time.

There's no doubt, by the way, that "Nosferatu" director Murnau was himself a big ole homo. "In Berlin, Murnau moved in artistic circles where homosexuality was accepted as a matter of course. In Hollywood, however, Murnau's homosexuality was the cause of much gossip, including the infamous rumor that his death on March 11, 1931 in an automobile accident was precipitated by his fellating his chauffeur while the latter was driving," it sez here. "While the scandalous rumors surrounding Murnau's death resulted in the appearance of only a handful of mourners at his funeral, one of those was Greta Garbo. She requested that a death mask be made, which she kept on her desk throughout her life."

Repetition is a time-honoured literary tactic, so again: horror flix equal gay gay gay. Tortured, angst-ridden monsters were homos just looking for acceptance -- or orgasm. So sure, its makers can consider "Hellbent" to be the first gay movie where actual out gay people are tortured and angst-ridden and slashed at, but they're darned proud and out gay people -- and, I guess, so very over the need to "destroy 'normal life' and topple such vulnerable institutions as the nuclear family, the church, capitalism, the heterosexual paradigm, or a combination thereof."

September 30, 2005 11:27 AM

Boo to you

William Pratt wanted out of England back in 1909, so flipped a coin to decide whether to grab a boat to Australia, or to Canukistan. Heads it was, and he ended up in Montreal, only to criss-cross the country working a series of miserable jobs. ("[My boss] would get me out of bed with a pitchfork at four in the morning to go catch horses in the fields and bring them in," recalled Pratt to a biographer.)

Pratt finally ended up as an actor, and needed a snazzier, "exotic" name in order to get attention. With his new moniker, he ended up playing "dark, accented villains," it sez here in the October/November issue of The Beaver magazine (sadly, it's about Canadian history, not girly naughty bits -- when oh when will someone bankroll my new T&A glossy?). "His brooding, foreign-seeming looks ended up being useful for playing East Indians, Middle Easterners, even Chinese."

Pratt's new name? Boris Karloff. He played Frankenstein when he was 43.

Based on the 1817 story by Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley, Frankie was, of course, an allegory: "[Shelley] fell into a reverie of waking dream where she saw 'the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.' She felt the terror for the artist who endeavored 'to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world' by giving the 'spark of life' to a 'hideous corpse.' [...]

"To those who have not read the book, the name Frankenstein is often associated with the monster rather than its creator. The mistake is perhaps not altogether erroneous, for as many critics point out the creature and his maker are doubles of one another, or doppelgangers. Their relationship is similar to that between the head and the heart, or the intellect and the emotion.

"The conception of the divided self -- the idea that the civilized man or woman contains within a monstrous, destructive force -- emerges as the creature echoes both Frankenstein's and narrator Robert Walton's loneliness: all three wish for a friend or companion. Frankenstein and his monster alternately pursue and flee from one another. Like fragments of a mind in conflict with itself, they represent polar opposites which are not reconciled, and which destroy each other at the end. For example, the creature enacts the repressed desires of its maker, alleviating Victor Frankenstein's fear of sexuality by murdering his bride, Elizabeth Lavenza, on their wedding night."

Avoidance of humping someone of the opposite sex. Remind you of anyone?

September 30, 2005 10:48 AM

"I am a white man, but I really enjoyed your book..."

This week's alt Montreal Mirror dug up an old comment from Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe ("Things Fall Apart" is his all-time classic novel): African writers "are passing through a period of great pressure on the writer to become an ideologue, and I want to resist that. I believe that orthodoxy of any kind is inimical to art, and that is why the writer must be free."

How free? I just discovered this blog post on racial profiling in bookstores.

September 29, 2005 10:46 AM

The real joke

Independently wealthy media junkies will be pleased as punch-n-judy to discover the relaunched satirical Canucky Frank mag, which went bust under new management a while back (la grande histoire de Frank et moi est ici).

'Twas repossessed by former owner Michael Bate and has abandoned the treeware in favour of an exclusively online snarkfest (see the Frankalized Oples here). One presumes this means fewer expenses -- yet there's a heftier price tag. It's more than $100 a year.

Pfuit.

September 29, 2005 10:02 AM

The lazy way out

Here's one of our own community cliches: bashers are bigots who are fighting off their own gay desires.

Now let me expand that a little bit: we so want to believe that the serial killing of gay men is related to sexual orientation, to murderers who turn their hatred and fear of their own sexuality against others. But what if that's wrong?

Those in the business -- the research business, that is! -- are pointing toward very different explanations. Sex is only a part of it. "The kind of people who are motivated to the rape and murder of strangers choose the gender and physical type they find attractive, so gays kill males," acknowledges Elliott Leyton, Canada's specialist in multiple murder. But more importantly, he believes the victim's social class can tell us about the killer.

As I write this, a serial killer of gay men is on the loose in Rome. He likes members of the cultural elite -- so far, a professional opera house clapper (paid by the singers), a food critic, a theatre critic, a count/pianist, a television director....

Fifteen killings in Rome are unsolved and may be related. The men are suffocated, bludgeoned (a candelabra, a brandy bottle), or both. (Few serial killers use the most efficient weapon: a gun. It may not be intimate enough.)

These are very different from the single murder -- like the drug-addled moron who can't even recall what happened. Or like the allegedly clueless trick who stabs the guy he went home with 45 times, claiming "homosexual panic defence," a hysteria-based excuse that's still on the books in Canada.

Professor Leyton believes that serial killings are about a different kind of hysteria, class hysteria. The Memorial University of Newfoundland academic wrote "Hunting Humans," possibly the most important book on multiple murders yet written.

Leyton notes that the serial killing of strangers is almost unknown in so-called "primitive societies." And that serial killers change as their society changes. These examples all come from his book:

• The 15th century’s Baron Gilles de Rais, a French aristocrat, raped and killed peasant children of both sexes. "The landed aristocracy was in a state of crisis, assaulted on all sides by peasantry and merchants." Feudalism, which gave the baron his power, was dying, and the established order began one last push of savage repression, attempting to re-establish itself. Perhaps that's exactly what the socially threatened de Rais was also trying to do;

• With the 18th and 19th centuries came the industrial era, and new social turmoil. Capitalism was creating a middle class -- so insecure they preyed upon the prostitutes and housemaids who could, unless stopped, pop up the food chain and easily displace the professional doctor or civil servant. Or perhaps it was a question of policing the middle class's new "refinement;"

• In modern times, the serial killer is often the "faded bourgeois," obsessed by his foiled ambitions. He's usually male, white and employed, reacting to his frustration by killing those slightly above him in the rigid structure of society. "But their protest is not on behalf of others, only themselves; their anguish is trivial, not profound; and they punish the innocent, not the guilty.... [A]ll he is protesting is his lack of a crisp identity and his refusal to tolerate the position society has allocated him."

Does this theory work for the Italian stalker? The victims are cultural elites, certainly. But we will know nothing else until the killer is caught.

Even then, this single killer won't give us global insight. No one's done the work on the homosexual side, Leyton said in an a recent (e-mail) interview. "I'd be very interested to see a comparison between homo and hetero serial killers. I can’t think offhand of any scholarly analysis on [the] subject.

"When I was researching and writing 'Hunting Humans' from 1980 to 1984, there were no available *confessions* from homosexual serial killers on which I could base any theory or cases. Within months of the book's publication, case studies of very high quality began to appear -- Tim Cahill's book on John Wayne Gacy, for e.g., or the various work on Eileen Wuornos, Neilsen ('Killing For Company') in Britain and [Jeffrey] Dahmer in America and so on...."

Now we need to bring all that information together.

Our marginalization has a way of making us obsessed with the reason for that marginalization -- our sexual orientation. We gotta get over it. Our assumptions about why homos are killed may have short-circuited the search for real answers.


Originally written in September 2002

September 28, 2005 12:19 PM

Outing black pastors

Two American activists have had enough of the "men of God" who use their pulpits in black churches to spew homophobic hatred. Jasmyne Cannick and Keith Boykin have launched a delightfully nasty blogging campaign against some of the creepiest pigs out there.

On Monday the pair inaugurated a five-part series called "Outing Black Pastors." The campaign is "geared at exposing the hypocrisy preached by Black pastors as it relates to lesbians and gays, featured a profile on two Black pastors each day this week.... People from all over the country have logged on and shared information regarding the lives of the pastors profiled."

This from a press release that just arrived in my in-box: "From New York to Los Angeles, Black gay people have been the backbone of the Black church," said Boykin. "Through this network, we've discovered that many homophobic black pastors lead secret lives outside the church. We're not naming any names, yet, but by doing this, we hope to confirm information from our sources and empower the Black lesbian and gay community to speak out."

They may not be outright outing, but both activists are drawing attention to that hoary old chestnut, the idea that those who scream out the most hatred are themselves the most conflicted about their own sexuality: "Which leads us to an obvious question, are these pastors gay?"

Which pastors, you ask? Keith Boykin's here, and Jasmyne Cannick's here.

Smells like queer spirit.

September 27, 2005 2:54 PM

Don't it make you feel warm and happy?

Gosh but here's another heart-warming role model: "New Brunswick New Democrats have chosen an openly gay social activist and founder of the province's Morgentaler abortion clinic as their new leader," it sez here.

"With a convincing first ballot victory at the NDP leadership convention, Allison Brewer, 51, made history Sunday, becoming New Brunswick's first openly gay party leader."

And of course, because she's a realist, she backpeddled: "While Ms. Brewer acknowledged her win is 'an historic day for the lesbian and gay community,' she said she's not a single-issue candidate and vowed to lead her party to a majority government.... Ms. Brewer took 62 per cent of the votes on the first ballot to defeat fellow candidates Pam Coates, a Saint John poverty activist, and Oscar Doucet of Acadieville. Ms. Brewer earned 248 of the 397 votes, which included mail-in ballots. Mr. Doucet earned 96 votes while Ms. Coates received 47."

If you blink, you'll miss the NDP's presence in the legislature. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Unless you think that a political party should have some clout.


ADDED 16:17 on Tuesday: Egale's Gilles Marchildon notes that CTV has "inned" Allison Brewer -- the network's screed is here. Shame. Bring back the goddamned CBC.

POSTED 16:40 A locked-out CBCer has written: "One reason Brewer's sexual orientation may not have been mentioned is that journalists who work in places such as New Brunswick often come and go. There is sometimes no long term memory, particularly in television, where Global and CTV are based in Halifax and use young bureau reporters across the Maritimes. Every year a new crop of young reporters arrive from Toronto with a Starbucks in their hand and no sense of who any of the locals are....

"Allison was the woman who took on the mayor of Fredericton and launched a human rights complaint, eventually forcing him to declare a gay pride weekend (yes it was only a weekend, not an entire week). Everyone in Fredericton knows her as the town lesbian."

September 27, 2005 1:06 PM

It's her party

Singer Lesley Gore says no one ever asked her if she was a lesbian. Till now: "I really never kept my life private. Those who knew me, those who worked with me were all well aware. And what I actually started doing was hosting 'In the Life' [the PBS gay show], and that was just kind of my way of saying, 'Here I am!'"

The complete interview is in Boston's In Newsweekly, here.

September 27, 2005 12:49 PM

The traitorous penguin

"Gayness is in my genes" advocates suddenly discover that their animals-are-born-gay-too arguments may backfire: "Silo and Roy looked so happy together. The two male chinstrap penguins had found each other in the big city. They had remained faithful. They had even raised a child. But then, not too long ago, they lost their home. Silo's eye began to wander, and last spring he forsook his partner of six years at the Central Park Zoo and took up with a female from California named Scrappy."

The New York Times continued: "Of late, Roy has been seen alone, in a corner, staring at a wall. This tale of betrayal, sexual identity and penguin lust set in Manhattan has reverberated around the world. It has "rocked the gay scene," as the popular blogger Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, wrote in The Sunday Times of London."

Well, only if your logic sucked in the first place. Like these idjits, whose logic goes all wonky in the other direction: "The surprise hit of the summer was 'March of the Penguins,' in part because it was embraced by Christians and conservatives, who see in the film pro-family and Christian imagery....

"But no one should be surprised at Silo and Roy parting ways, said Frans de Waal, who has studied the mutable sexuality of bonobo apes and is the director of the Living Links Center at Emory University in Atlanta. 'Exclusive homosexuality is not very common in nature,' he said."

So there.

September 26, 2005 11:13 AM

Mazo 4, or, Glenn Gould, you say?

Arriving in the middle of this thread? Start at #1.

My sweetie has gently suggested that a full week on an obscure-ish Canuck auteur is not a monster crowd-pleaser. So I moved on during my long weekend at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association conference in Chicago (where it was hard to be really, really, really furious at last night's three-hour flight delay because Chicagoans were celebrating the dramatic end of a long drought)... but... you know there's a but coming... but Claude J. Summers of the GLBTQ Encyclopedia has returned my query about the online resource's silence on Mazo de la Roche.

Here's the inside dope: "Our practice is not to out people, either contemporaries or historical figures. Nearly all of the individual entries that we include in the encyclopedia, as well as those discussed in overview entries, are generally acknowledged as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or queer. We have, however, on the basis of new scholarship included figures who have previously been assumed to be heterosexual. El Greco, for example.

"When the sexuality of a particular subject has not been authoritatively established by reputable biographies or other documents, we ask our contributors to confront the issue directly and give reasons for including the subject in the encyclopedia.

"A few of the entries that we have included are controversial. Errol Flynn, for example, has frequently been the subject of rumors that he had a number of sexual encounters with other men, and two of his recent biographers have attempted to document these rumors, but many of his fans (and other biographers) deny them. In our entry on him, the author examines the question of Flynn's sexuality and concludes that the rumors have a basis in fact, but that they cannot be definitively documented. He goes on to make a case for Flynn's importance to glbtq history quite apart from the rumors, and concludes that while Flynn probably did not identify as a bisexual, he probably was pansexual or polyamorous. After all, he proposed as his epitaph: 'If it moved, Flynn fucked it.'

"We certainly agree that denial of a person's homosexuality is not necessarily motivated by homophobia (though, of course, it sometimes is). The original version of our entry on Edith Sitwell identified her as a lesbian, but after her biographer contacted us, the author of the entry reconsidered her characterization and rewrote the entry, pointing out that there is no reliable evidence that Sitwell ever had sexual relations with anyone, though one of her most important emotional attachments was with a woman and she surrounded herself with gay men, many of whom were her collaborators.

"In any case, I think the greater problem is not that people are wrongly assumed to be gay or lesbian but that people are assumed to be heterosexual. We have even had gay scholars say that artists of the past could not be gay or lesbian because they were married and had children. (See the entry on Corregio.) Such assumptions are very naive and ill-informed. After all, the most famous homosexual of the nineteenth century --Oscar Wilde -- was married and the father of two children."

All homos see Wilde as gay. Bisexual makes much more sense, though. But bisexuality's too complicated for our gay psychic needs.

"The fact that Mazo de la Roche is not mentioned in the encyclopedia may be the result of a number of factors other than a belief that she was not a lesbian. If she wasn't mentioned in our entries on Canadian literature, that may simply be because the authors of those entries are not aware of her possible lesbianism rather than any considered belief that she was not a lesbian."

(I used the encyclopedia's search engine and found no "Mazo de la" within.)

"No one has suggested that we include an entry on her, but we are open to that suggestion provided that the potential author can convince us that she belongs in the encyclopedia.

"(We have an excellent article on Glenn Gould that we have not published because the evidence of his homosexuality is not convincing. He was certainly eccentric, but it is not clear that his eccentricities included sexual relationships with other men. We have decided not to publish this entry at this time, but if other evidence is forthcoming, either from our author or someone else, we will.)"


Stick it through: only one more post.

September 22, 2005 5:05 AM

Mazo 3, or, but -- but -- but!

Was she or wasn't she? And how much research was done before queers declared Mazo de la Roche to be a great big lesbo? (And if you're just joining this thread, go to Mazo 1.)

Joan Givner certainly did mondo research, having written a 1989 biography and all, and did conclude that de la Roche was a lesbian (though apparently an, ugh, pedophilic one -- I haven't read Givner's tome, though the molestation screed has since been refuted by another academic I also haven't read). Yet a later biographer, Daniel Bratton in 1996's "Thirty-Two Short Views of Mazo de la Roche," did not make the lesbo leap at all.

"At least two basic forms of biography have emerged," reads a review published in the University of Toronto Quarterly a few years ago. "One relies on narrative to produce as coherent a prose portrait of the subject as possible. The other chooses a much more open form and is based on the notion that no one can reach the truth about so complex and mercurial a thing as a human life.... Daniel Bratton acknowledges that a biographer cannot completely know his subject, so he has decided to make a bricolage of 'bits and pieces of whatever comes to hand.' The biography does not aspire to be more than an assembly of impressions of Mazo de la Roche, though the result is much more than that...."

"The life that emerges is shadowy and fragmented at best.... The biographers' biggest problem, apparently, was that Mazo de la Roche liked to fabricate such things as her name and date of birth, as well as exaggerate and lie about events and people. In addition, the times encouraged reticence about such things as lesbian relationships or mental illnesses. Consequently Bratton is reluctant to go out on any limbs or to form conclusions about de la Roche's relationship with Caroline Clement, her cousin once removed with whom she lived almost all her adult life, or about the two nervous breakdowns that she suffered."

Even so, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives acquired the book, and has a few other items of de la Roche bumph in its files. And it's the queer mainstream that interests me most. (An archives staffer still hasn't returned my call from a few days ago on another issue, but I'll add to this post if and when someone does get back to me and I can ask why the decision was made to stock de la Roche memorabilia.)

But I'm sure the reasoning is just as thoughtful as that used by the folks I did reach. Yesterday I mentioned the Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples list of "Famous Lesbian and Gay Couples," which exists in part to prove that homos can have lasting relationships. The site includes a methodology: "The data for our list comes primarily from books, and occasionally from reputable Web sites. We are often sent suggestions, however, [we] do not post a couple until we have some form of published verification.

"We do not include in our list, for instance, such couples as Emily Dickinson and Sue Gilbert. While they had a deep love for each other, there has not been enough evidence that they considered themselves actually partnered. (These women did dream of establishing a quiet life together in a little house somewhere, but, because of finances and social obligations, could not do so.)"

De la Roche did the the list. Demian from the Partners Task Force responded to my e-mail: "We do not 'decide' who is gay, lesbian or bisexual. We rely on multiple, verifiable sources, such as biographies, news articles, and interviews for such information.

"Clement and de la Roche were first placed on our list because she was on page 132 in 'Lesbian Lists' by Dell Richards." Which sent me to yet another person's definitions of lesbian.

In my copy of LL (Alyson Publications), Richards credits a series of academics for the research. And from the author's introduction: "My own bias is toward women-identified women, whether they call themselves lesbian or not, whether they had sex or not. To impose today's standards on earlier eras limits our vision and our history. To dismiss romantic friends, spinsters and sworn virgins, the women who have everything in their power to escape heterosexual dominance, does them -- and us -- a great disservice. Given that times change and the perception of reality changes with those shifts, I chose as broad a definition as possible -- one that would include a woman-oriented view of the world as the basis of lesbianism."

Yoiks -- 1970s politics (published in 1990) that leave me cold. Which is how some of those "lesbians" would be like in bed.

It would be insulting for someone to call me heterosexual, just as I see it as condescending and insulting to set someone down in history as lesbian when she was not. A straight woman who disses the established male order deserves to be acknowledged in the historical record for who she truly was when she kicked ass.

And there's nothing homophobic about that. Andrej Koymasky, of the Italy-based "famous GLBT" site (also mentioned yesterday), brings up homophobia as a reason people deny, deny, deny. "As you for sure have seen, in the page devoted to Mazo de la Roche I don't state she was lesbian. I have no proof she was or not, I never assisted to her 'sexual activities.' And, at the end of each list, I state that 'Not all of these people were or are openly Gay / Lesbian / Transgender / Bisexual. Some of them 'came out' but others, rather, clearly denied it, and they possibly were sincere. So, this list doesn't affirm nothing more than they are presumed (for several historical evidences, or just for rumors) to be gay or, on their own admission, to have 'tried it' at least once.'

"Moreover, I cannot see why the so called 'straight' people can assume one is heterosexual, and gay people cannot assume one is gay... Being gay is not a crime... Saying that somebody might be gay is not defamation (no polemic with you is intended in these words).... [by] including Mazo in my list, I just mean that she *might have been* a lesbian."

Oh.

In any case, I don't see why their assumptions are bad, but ours are good.

Homophobia loses all meaning when we use it helter skelter, when we our first thought is that anyone who questions someone's alleged homosexuality is a bigot. Sometimes, the questioning is based on a real interest in truth and accuracy.

A word can't just mean whatever the heck I want it to mean. Or it will come to mean less and less, and finally nothing. So to Dell Richards and those of similar fuzzy logic, I'm rather fond of the word "lesbian," and I'm taking it back. It's about more than just questioning a woman's role in the world. Much more. And, because of the way some of us have lived our lives, in silence and fear, it can also mean so much less.


Next: Mazo 4.

September 21, 2005 1:20 PM

Mazo 2, or, you say she did WHAT?

If ya haven't read Mazo 1 yet, click here.


What makes a dead someone officially homosexual?

Hank Hyena (I kid you not) wrote in Salon magazine some five years ago about what he called "the hunt for gay role models [that has] outed numerous historical figures and fictional characters from Honest Abe to Tinky Winky.... But will the relentless search for homosexual love-nests lead to elevating a homophobe to the purple pantheon?

"J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI chief, and his longtime companion, Clyde Tolson, were an ambiguously gay crime-fighting duo. Inseparable for 44 years, 1928-1972, the two top G-men vacationed together, often dressed similarly and continue their cohabitation even after death. They're buried alongside one another.

"Such facts have garnered Hoover and his handsome right-hand henchman praise as homosexual role models from the Web site Partners' list of 'Famous Lesbian and Gay Couples.' Along with an impressive lineup of long-term lovers, the crime-fighting couple are touted as the 11th-longest romance on a list headed by Canadian authoress Mazo de la Roche and Carol Clement's 75-year love affair.

"Other famous persevering pairs include Greek historical novelist Mary Renault and Julie Mullard (50 years), cubist writer Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (39 years), poet W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman (34 years), Renaissance wonder Leonardo da Vinci and his apprentice Giacomo Caprotti (30 years) and conqueror Alexander the Great and his cavalry commander Hephaistion (19 years).

"Do Hoover and Tolson really belong on this list? No one has unearthed documentation that the two men had blazing hot sex together. Couldn't they have just been platonic pals? Evidence of physical intimacy is merely circumstantial, although suspicions about J. Edgar and Clyde ran rampant through Washington political circles. Richard Nixon's obscene comment upon hearing of Hoover's death ('Jesus Christ, that old cocksucker!') perhaps describes the opinion of inside observers, but no letters, photos, diaries or reliable witnesses can carnally tie the two men together. The best 'proof' comes from the wife of Hoover's psychiatrist; she claims that Hoover admitted his homosexuality to her husband during a confidential session."

But Hyena's main point isn't so much whether Hoover was homo, but whether a man who spent his life destroying gay people is worthy of admiration by the spiritual successors of his victims. "Even if Hoover and Tolson did engage in a lifelong love affair, does that really make them worthy of admiration? After all, he spread destructive, unsubstantiated rumors that Adlai Stevenson was gay to damage the liberal Illinois governor's 1952 bid for the presidency. He hunted down and threatened anyone who dared to utter an innuendo about his sexual preference. And his extensive secret files contained surveillance material on Eleanor Roosevelt's alleged lesbian lovers, probably gathered for the purpose of blackmail."

Unlike Hoover, Mazo de la Roche deserves no such qualms. She seems to have never denounced lesbians. But as Globe and Mail dude James Adams wrote last weekend, there is apparently a question as to whether de la Roche was truly a dyke.

What is true is that Mazo de la Roche shows up all over the queer Internet. As Hyena noted, she does indeed figure prominently on the Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples list of "Famous Lesbian and Gay Couples," which notes that "it is a popular myth that same-sex relationships don't last.... [This list] suggests the reality of committed couples." De la Roche and Clement were together for 75 years, apparently. And the pair also appear on what is a massive online labour of love.

De la Roche is nowhere to be found, however, on the scholarly GLBT Encyclopedia site, which features an extensive list of queer authors.

Yet Daniel Bratton's 1996 ECW Press tome, "Thirty-Two Short Views of Mazo de la Roche," has been acquired by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

And, conveniently, the latest issue online (spring 2005) of the University of British Columbia-based journal Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review, features an essay on de la Roche. Here's the abstract for "Caroline Clement: The Hidden Life of Mazo de la Roche's Collaborator," in which writer and part-time college instructor Heather Kirk "refutes the claim of Joan Givner's 'Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life,' that de la Roche was a lesbian child molester who victimized her younger cousin and life-long companion, Caroline Clement.

"The paper outlines the life of Clement. It shows that Clement was older than de la Roche, that she was not an orphan, that she was raised with de la Roche as a sister, that she was the leader of the pair, and that she was a partner in the creation of the Jalna series."

What the... de la Roche has been accused of being a lesbian child molester? Jeee-zuz.


Go to Mazo 3.

September 21, 2005 9:32 AM

The homo philes

In Canada, of course, freedom of information is an oxymoron. But in the United States, the phrase actually means something. A massive freedom-of-information request by The Associated Press has resulted in huge numbers of FBI files on Hollywood stars (and other famous folk) being released to the public.

Check out the dirt on your fave homosexualists here.

(Hmmm -- nuthin' on Mazo, though.)

September 21, 2005 8:52 AM

Interlude

For those whose foreheads remain creased in puzzlement at the continuing messy lockout of staff by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation management, see this site dedicated to the adventures of Pedro, the locked out gnome.

September 20, 2005 2:08 PM

Mazo de la Roche, part 1

Author Mazo de la Roche was a famous Canadian lesbian. At least, I always assumed she was. Other lesbians told me so, so it must be true.

In 1927, de la Roche's manuscript was picked out of the 1,100 received by the Atlantic Monthly as "the most interesting novel of any kind." She pocketed 10,000 smackers and her novel, "Jalna," became a bit of bestseller. My 1945 version gives a history of 41 printings in four separate imprints.

De la Roche went on to write oodles of sequels about the "Whiteoak family and Jalna, their Canadian estate, which plays a many-sided role in this turbulent drama of character. In the life of the aged Adeline, Jalna represents the romantic past and the vigorous present to which she avidly clings. In Renny's life it is both the land and the family strength that he sacrifices his love to preserve." And et cetera, it sez here on the jacket. We're talkin' "quarrels and passions and [an] indomitable zest for life."

Ho hum. Regular Oples readers will know that sprawling family sagas are not my forte, especially those praised to the skies by Important Arbiters of Taste. I suffer from a childhood-based ailment which causes me to rebuff books that are labeled "good for me" by authority figures; I have thus, for example, never read "Anne of Green Gables," "Little House on the Prairie," nor "Little Women" (though it would seem all had lezzie moments of which parents were unaware and that I might have appreciated).

I am not, however, the only reader to have avoided "Jalna" (though since the weekend I've made it to -- gad -- page 37. Trivia tidbit: Publisher Pocket Books of Canada was headquartered just a few blocks from me, at 6306 Park Ave. in Montreal, for at least part of the Second World War). But back to "Jalna": "Not many people read the novels of Canada's Mazo de la Roche any more," wrote Globe and Mail books guy James Adams in his weekend column.

"Sixty or 70 years ago, however, the 16 or 17 Jalna books made her an international star, and gave the former Maisie Roche of Newmarket, Ont., a life of 'English country houses and Ontario mansions.' De la Roche died in 1961, an unmarried woman who once quipped, 'Privacy is my hobby.' Before her death, she asked Caroline Clement, her cousin -- and, eventually, legally adopted sister and lifelong companion -- to destroy all her diaries, perhaps because, some have presumed, they would have revealed the true nature of her relationship with Clement (who died in 1972) and the circumstances of their adoption, in 1931, of a boy and girl they named, respectively, Rene and Esme.

"It turns out, however, that not all the diaries were consigned to the fireplace. Recently, the Museums of Mississauga took possession of de la Roche's one-volume diary for the years 1939-46, a gift from her daughter-in-law Bianca, who inherited it from her husband, Rene de la Roche, upon his death in 1981. There are rumours of another undestroyed diary, from the late 1950s, that also could come to the Museums of Mississauga.

"Why Mississauga, a city of 600,000-plus just west of Toronto? Well, as Annemarie Hagan, the manager of Mississauga's two museums, explains, de la Roche and Clement bought property in Clarkson, now part of Mississauga, in the early 1920s, and erected a home called Trail Cottage. It was there that de la Roche completed her first Jalna novel....

"So what's in the salvaged diary? Lots of naughty bits? Alas, no. 'They're very domestic,' reports Hagan."

So, what constitutes unassailable proof of lesbian-ness?


Go to Mazo 2.

September 19, 2005 11:44 AM

Essential essentialism

One last excerpt from author and academic Cristina Nehring's Atlantic mag evisceration of the women's health manual "Our Bodies, Ourselves": The book includes "assumptions like the one that women make friendlier doctors than men -- or more generous lovers. Such sentimentalization is really a form of infantilization -- akin to caricaturing indigenous people as 'noble savages' or destitute people as 'the virtuous poor.' We frequently attribute greater goodness to people we consider less complex or sophisticated than the norm. It's how we compensate them for our essential condescension."

September 19, 2005 11:28 AM

Feminists who trash fems

Portia De Rossi, the actor (and Ellen DeGeneres main squeeze), noted in her interview with The Advocate that many -- including lesbians -- simply refuse to believe that she's a dyke. Too "traditionally" pretty, too well made-up, too damned girly.

A certain kind of feminism envisions women (and men, too) as one-note parodies. And then activists wonder why feminism has become a laughing stock. I'm ready to at least listen to anybody who throws a rock through the window of the simplistic politics of gender which have become the norm.

Cristina Nehring has a go at the new edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" in the October (conservative-ish) Atlantic monthly magazine. "For all its comically bad prose and cloying eulogies to female anatomy, 'Our Bodies, Ourselves' was in its day a solution to women's problems. In our own day it is the problem. First published in 1970, in a cheap offset edition by 12 Boston friends who sought to free their sex from dependence on doctors and husbands, it became an icon of the age. Now published by Simon & Schuster and 600 pages longer, this women's health classic has become a compendium of the curses and cliches that beset modern feminism -- curses and cliches that feminism must discard or else render itself obsolete."

Here's an excerpt from OB/OS: "Look at this Calvin Klein ad of a woman in a classic submissive pose. Her fingers cover her mouth, another sign of submission... Her eye make-up is so dark and heavy that her eyes seem bruised... [she is simply] an object to be used, [a creature for the] male gaze."

Adds Nehring: "As, indeed, is any woman who looks attractive or dresses agreeably; after all, according to the Boston Health Book Collective, "the main reason that women try to 'improve our appearance' is to attract and win the approval of men.'"

Nehring writes that the collective's executive director said the exact opposite at a workshop a few months ago: "In a discussion of cosmetic surgery she lingered over the tale of a young man who'd begged her for advice on how to dissuade his girlfriend from buying breast implants. Far from seeking silicone to appeal to her man's sense of beauty, the young woman was defying him in order to appeal to her own -- and to that of her sorority sisters, she told him. Right or wrong, this is what women do regularly. That women's interest in their appearance lies largely in wanting to please men is a myth, and one that should be retired without further ceremony. [...]

"I would wager that most women, if they were honest, would say they like the Calvin Klein model in 'Our Bodies.' She looks vulnerable, to be sure -- but we cherish vulnerability in our fellow creatures. What is more affecting than a picture of a sensitive cowboy or a doe-eyed street kid; what sells calendars faster than a forlorn kitten?

"It is not freedom from beauty that needs defending but freedom for beauty. How often do we hear academics say of a female colleague behind her back, 'How can she expect to be taken seriously if she dresses like that?' In feminist circles, 'pretty' is a term of insult. It is as though one had to choose beauty or truth, style or substance.

"Which brings us to another myth propagated by 'Our Bodies, Ourselves': female solidarity. In many cases women have more to fear from other women than from men. This is a truth strenuously resisted by feminists who pretend that all women are compassionate, supportive, and united...."

Poor pathetic Portia and her false consciousness -- she's still trying to please men.

September 16, 2005 10:00 AM

Egg, face, apply

Yadda, yadda, f*ck. Yadda, yadda, f*ck. The Montreal Gazette spelled it out for potty-mouthed ex prime minister Brian Mulroney, but ran a story on an Austrian town-with-a-name-starting-with-f'ing-and-followed-by-uhm-some-letters-or-other. Hee hee. Geddit?

Those silly mainstream newspapers. Aren't they so ridiculous? We who are living on the hipster edge can only roll our eyes.

Hey, has anyone seen the September She magazine? It's a nice full-colour glossy published out of Florida. This issue features an interview with a series of "sexperts" who dish the 411 on trimming, shaving or waxing pubic hair.

The worst thing about shaving? "Bumps! Itchy, red, nasty bumps. But they are preventable, and our book ["Hot Pink: The Girls Guide to Primping, Passion and Pubic Fashion"] gives lots of great advice about this."

The biggest no-no? "Shaving with a dry razor and not changing the blade enough." Don't shave against the grain, and do use an unscented slippery shaving cream. "The absolute, no-fail way to prevent ingrown hairs is to use one of the new electric shavers, like Body Bare or the Seiko Cleancut. What's so great about them is that you never, and we mean never, get nicked, abraded or in any way bitten by these safe shavers. No more razor rash -- say bye-bye to burn." These are dry-shave, note -- no cream.

And on and on. Plus a short Q&A with the terribly famous literary-minded Tristan Taormino.

Question: "Even though everyone's taste is different, do you find that most gay women prefer their partner to have pubic hair or not?"
Taormino: "It totally depends. I know some lesbians who love a nice hairy bush and others who dig a smooth shaved p*ssy."

Passy? Pessy? Whatever could it mean?

September 15, 2005 10:51 AM

Han Solo was black

There was one black guy in "Star Wars" (it may be episode IV "A New Hope" now, but it'll always be SW to this perpetual 12-year-old). "It was hard to ignore the presence of the lone Brother from Another Planet in the first picture -- because he was an extra who turned up twice. The unmistakable signifier of intergalactic racism -- the hardworking extra's dash from one set to another -- brought to mind the joke that both Arsenio Hall and Godfrey Cambridge spun variations on: a black astronaut choking on the phrases 'Yes, NASA,' and 'No NASA.'"

So writes film critic Elvis Mitchell in the labour of luuuv, "A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers and Artists on 25 Years of Star Wars."

"And the bullying vigor of James Earl Jones's vocal presence -- recognizable instantly to a black audience -- giving a malevolent elegance to Darth Vader, begged another question. Although, to be frank, given that Vader was about the coolest thing going in the first 'Star Wars', it made the possibility that he was black perfectly acceptable."

Three actors had a real shot at playing Han Solo, the lovable rogue. The pasty Harrison Ford got the role. Professional odds-bodkins (and white guy) Christopher Walken was shooed away. And then there was Glynn Turman, who "cut an impressive swath through the blaxploitation era.... Turman was revered by hard-core black action fans for the lead role in the black, exorcist drama "J.D.'s Revenge," in which he played a decent young dude possessed by the spirit of an O.G. determined to stick it the Man even from the Grave.

"Lucas passed on Walken because... well, it's easy to see why; the movie was going to be spacey enough as it was. The rationale behind his refusal to use Turman is, unfortunately, easier to understand than the elimination of Walken. Knowing -- if he ever got to make his planned sequels -- that a romance for Han and Leia was planned, George Lucas didn't want the controversial, and probably non-commercial, element of an interracial relationship, a love that in the mid-'70s still barely dared to speak its name. 'I didn't want to make "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" at that point, so I sort of backed off,' Lucas told [biographer Dale] Pollack."

September 15, 2005 9:52 AM

He's a close personal friend

Pierre Pettigrew is an idiot of a true democrat, or an idiot tout court. "The Conservative Party said yesterday it will try to force Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain why his office spent $10,000 to take a chauffeur on two overseas trips in which there was no driving to be done. At the same time, Liberal sources cast doubt on Mr. Pettigrew's explanation that he invited driver Bruno Labonte to Europe in 2001 and to Latin America in 2002 as a 'personal security adviser,' saying it was more likely an expression of gratitude for Mr. Labonte's work at home," notes today's Globe and Mail.

I don't have a problem with exposing naughtily free-spending politicians, gay or otherwise, but this codes as a queer smear: the foreign affairs (ha ha) minister is sleeping with his employee?

"In a television interview, Mr. Pettigrew said he felt the $10,000 cost to taxpayers to take his chauffer along on the two trips was fully justified. 'Oh, absolutely,' Mr. Pettigrew said on CTV's Canada AM. 'I believe it is important that everyone in the staff has a complete understanding of my work, so this is the way.... Of course, this individual is a security expert.'"

Reporters and opposition pols can play the creepy game, or they can just ask Pettigrew what the relationship is. You know what I mean. And so does Pettigrew.


POSTED Friday, Sept. 16, it continues. Check out the text of Aislin's Montreal Gazette editorial 'toon this marnin'. It's Pettigrew, shrugging: "Ecoutez! It's back-breaking work, being my chauffeur. He has to carry my blow dryer!"

September 14, 2005 4:49 PM

The state of lesbian culture

Number of Curve Magazine covers that have featured "The L Word": three out of the last five.

And one other that advertised a contest for a "free autographed 'L Word' script."

September 14, 2005 3:27 PM

Do I need a signed affidavit to qualify? Will my extensive collection of toasters do?

Unlike in Canuckland, the Boy Scouts of America run faggots out of their ranks, double quick.

Atlanta artist Larry Jens Anderson has created some new merit badges, including the "Closet Case," the "Muff Diver" and the "Flaming Faggot." Anderson's gallery is here.

September 14, 2005 3:03 PM

The anguished cry of the dodo: caw, caw

I once argued, on Radio Canada International, with a right-wing Christian about gay marriage. He hated and feared it because it would demean heterosexuality and destroy monogamy and all that is proper about cleaving to your opposite-sex spouse.

I hated and feared gay marriage because the damned heterosexual bulldozer was going to destroy all the new possibilities we'd tried so hard to create in terms of structuring different kinds of relationships. The brave new world, dontcha know.

The Sept. 4 New York Times features a quick profile of the changing Provincetown, the American gay mecca. "Friendly, flamboyant, overwhelmingly gay: Provincetown is still all these things and first impressions are not wrong. But stay for a bit and you'll find a less happy picture. A real estate boom has spread unease, pitting wealthy newcomers and developers against the townies, artists and free spirits who gave the enclave its bohemian character and who now fear it is being gentrified out of existence.... what makes the battle for Provincetown unusual is that it is largely a class struggle within a gay world." Real estate prices are skyrocketing, bars and B&Bs are shutting down, with condos taking their places. Drag queens are now high-end professional performers, not the ratty looker next door performing for a few bucks and the sheer joyful silliness of it.

Writer Andrew Sullivan said: "It's a microcosm of a broader shift, of the slow seepage of gay culture into mainstream culture. It's the bourgeoisification of the gay world." And Sullivan added that gay marriage, legal in Massachusetts, has intensified the transformation. "With nearly a sixth of all gay weddings performed in Massachusetts taking place here, Provincetown, he said, is reinventing itself as a utopia for upper-middle-class gay couples."

There's really very little to be done. Change happens.

Why it happens is a different matter. Older activist John Waters, the odour-ama film maker, said that it just ain't like the good old days. "We live in a much less bohemian time. Outsider is such a tired word. There's no great youth movement happening; there are no hippies today, no punk rockers. The world has changed. Some gay people are straighter than my parents."

Damned lazy young people.

And, more seriously, damn a lifestyle that is apparently not one that the well-established gay person wants to nurture. Because those well-established gays are the face of the movement, the ideological and economic movers and shakers (and partiers). And now all they want to do is fit in.

What, am I supposed to go down there personally and scream at all the married sell-outs? At all the not really gay, gay people? Should a culture be artificially propped up as it lays dying? Does such a culture deserve to survive?

Uhhhhg. Talk to the hand, honey.

September 13, 2005 7:51 PM

Perry Mason was gay

Oops. Every so often, I'll discover a new homo -- a Hollywood name I never knew about. Like Canadian-born tough guy Raymond Burr, who played TV's Chief Ironside and lawyer Perry Mason (originally a pulp whodunnit-solver whose book covers featured some very eye-catching gals).

The October issue of the gay travel mag Passport features an interview with Burr's partner of 33 years, producer, orchid hybridist and wine maker Robert Benevides, who now runs a vineyard named for his lover.

The place is in California's Sonoma Valley, is chemical-free and runs on solar power. Sez Benevides: "We have a no-till vineyard -- we don't dig it up. In between the rows we have vegetation, grasses, and we mow it. It harbours a whole colony of beneficial insects. If you put chemicals on to kill some of the insects, you kill the good ones, too, so we don't do that."

More from Passport: "While Raymond Burr never had the chance to taste the bottled product from the grapes he and Robert nurtured from idea to literal fruition, each bottle is a heartfelt tribute to him. 'It was never my dream, it was his dream,' reflects Benevides. 'When he died in '93 we still hadn't released any of the wines. I finally decided it should be called Raymond Burr Vineyards. He didn't want it named after him, I know that. We had talked about that possibility and he didn't like that at all, but we're making great wines now. It's a memorial to him, to his idea, and I think it deserves to be named after him.'"

September 13, 2005 3:54 PM

On "The Constant Gardener"

A quickie today: Like "The Interpreter," the 2005 flick "The Constant Gardener" (avec Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz) is a white film about Africa. But oh, a heck of a lot more interesting than was Nicole Kidman's pain and the horrifyingly naive suggestion that the dysfunctional United Nations can save the world all on its lonesome.

"Constant Gardener" is adapted from a John Le Carre thriller. But it's also a love story. And it tells you everything you need to know about the status of heterosexuality versus homosexuality in the world today. And it tells you everything you need to know about the different ways the two are portrayed on screen in Hollywood movies. If it's a hetero movie, there's hetero sex. Period.

Since this is a thriller, you'll get nothing else out of me.

But one more film recommendation: for a truly great movie that looks at race in America, "Crash" is now out on video. Directed and written by Paul Haggis -- don't accidentally rent the older David Cronenberg of the same name.

September 12, 2005 12:12 PM

[Back To School Week-and-a-bit] Tawk radio

I'll be chatting with the gals of "Dykes on Mykes" tonight at 7 pm on CKUT 90.3 FM; simulcast available here..

September 12, 2005 11:58 AM

How a lesbian laughs

Comic Joan Rivers retched to London's The Pink Paper (U.K.) last month: "I always say six gay men in the front row will make an audience. I don't care who's behind them -- I know we're gonna have a good time....

"It has to be gay men. Generally I find gay women are into politics and are more serious. Oh Please!"

Ah, the humourless lesbian. I do exist, but I like to think most of the tiresome codswallop has been carefully swept out with the other detritus of the gawdawful times when All Power was Considered Male, and Everything Male was Considered Bad. (Then I read this weekend about these embarrassments in Newfoundland, alleged feminists of unknown sexual orientation who have complained that an alt newspaper's recent photograph of a male mayor in SM gear -- with a rubber ball in his mouth -- is misogynist. It's the enforced victimization of women, dontcha know. All you SM fantasizers out there should get into therapy, and quick. As for you doers, you are already lost.)

The September Girlfriends features an interview with distinguished lesbian historian Lillian Faderman on "Dykes and the Dollar." It's a quick look at class, cash, and the roots of the musty and choleric Sapphist. Yes, money and humourlessness are connected.

Faderman says the idea of an overwhelmingly poverty-stricken lesbian community is a myth. "I see it changing a bit, but certainly as recently as 20 years ago I know lesbians thought they were poor, whether or not they really were. Maybe it's something that happens to women who have to support themselves and be independent. It's scary stuff. What if you lose your job and there's no man to fall back on? It just makes rational sense that more lesbians than straight women would have managed to get a higher education, would have managed to get into the professions, because they knew they had to take care of themselves. There has, for a long time, been a substantial lesbian middle class."

Faderman calls these middle-class women "thought-poor," meaning that they fear spending money on anything frivolous because of a worry that they'll need that cash sometime in the future just to survive.

Interestingly, working class dress -- the jeans uniform -- is now the norm regardless of class. Faderman thinks there's a sort of fetishization of working-class culture in lesbian circles. "Lesbians sort of declass themselves. During lesbian feminist days they declassed themselves not just in terms of dress, but in terms of behaviour, though working-class women were accused by other working-class women of taking advantage of class privilege...."

Faderman says that in the 1970s, many lesbian feminists took menial jobs on purpose "so they could work in the movement. By the '80s a lot of women were in the professions, but they were there with the declassed mentality. They just couldn't acknowledge that they were making money." And they never realized how offensive this all was to the truly poor, apparently. It all sounds like a way of intentionally removing joy from your life. And spending a bit too much time policing yourself and others.

As for earlier in the century: "What I discovered is so many of the women who were upper and middle-class in earlier eras, like the '30s, '40s and '50s, were downright hostile to butch and femme women. Particularly to butch women -- a really mean hostility. The feeling was, it's the butches who are so obvious and who ruin it for all of us."

Many lesbians got in on it: "'You don't have to wear fly-front pants; you don't have to brag that you're wearing men's underwear.' It was a real lecture, in all caps, like WE CAN BE ACCEPTED!!! -- three exclamation points. Even lower-class women who aspired to the middle class were very hostile to women who looked butch."

Then, as now, there's a limit to how much butch the "declassed" lesbian can cope with. To how much one can allow another to act out.

Which brings me to the "new butch" and Daniel Peddle's documentary, "The Aggressives." (And I'm not talking about mushy softies like me who consider themselves butch.) "'The Aggressives' documents the lives of six very different women, each of whom identifies herself with the concept of aggressives. The street word is AG, a term popular among women of colour to describe females very much in touch with their masculinity," writes Gay City News reviewer Jim Fouratt. "Historically, the words used to describe such women have been butch, passing woman, bull dagger, bull dyke and stud.... Significantly the AGS identify as female despite their amazing expression of masculine gender in hair, clothes, names and role-playing." The reviewer adds that these women, who elevate aggression and maleness (for lack of better words), also very much understand gentleness.

There's something about being out front and up front -- and not caring what others think -- that makes a person happy. About having found power and having learned of of its joys and limitations. It all leads, I'll bet, to aggressives collectively having a great sense of humour.

Too bad Joan Rivers will never benefit from their laughter.

September 9, 2005 10:37 AM

Humourless lesbian

Oh look, our national queer lobby group has sent out a homophobic press release. Again.

From yesterday's stupid crap: "Egale Canada, the country’s leading advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) people, is expressing high criticism of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to veto equal marriage legislation adopted by his state's assembly.

"'Governor Schwarzenegger is being a 'girlie-man', to use his own words, by not standing up for the equality of all Californians,' said Gilles Marchildon, Egale's executive director. 'Furthermore, he is taking cover behind a five-year-old vote which has been declared unconstitutional and even more pathetically, he says that it's not up to political leaders to take a stand. Yet a majority of the people's representatives voted for equality.'"

Girly man! Oh, ho ho ho, that's soooooo funny! Hilarious!

"In July 2004, Schwarzenegger ignited a controversy when he called Democrats 'girly-men' for not passing the state's budget more quickly.... Says Egale's Marchildon, 'Who is the 'girlie-man' now? Schwarzenegger lacks the guts to admit that he doesn’t champion the equality of Californians despite the endorsement of people's elected representatives?'"

Let me explain this again: We can encourage homophobia by adopting the weakling "girlie man." Or we can make a real point about what it means to be a strong, kick-ass "girlie man" -- we can reclaim it, as we can reclaim "pansy." Check it out.

And tell Egale to smarten up.

September 8, 2005 12:09 PM

[Back To School Week] Hug a homo today

But first, get into the queer school spirit by reading something by Agatha Christie. Really. More here.

September 7, 2005 12:55 PM

[Back To School Week] Hushing those awful -isms

An American journalism professor (whose name I've misplaced, sigh) once said that rightwingers want to ban blasphemy and obscenity. Leftwingers want to ban every -ism they can think of. In short, everybody wants to stop you from saying what you may want to say.

In the United States, freedom of speech is entrenched. In Canada, the law stops you from speaking out. Especially on the ever increasingly paternalistic and rule-driven university campus, where it is the left, I am embarrassed to say, that claims that freedom can be found in silence.

This column is for all those people who say: "I believe in freedom of speech, but...."
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