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October 2005 - Posts

October 31, 2005 11:28 AM

A po-ehm

Higgledy piggledly won (see here),
So rhyming gets jiggy with me, oh dear.
I tried a review of Wallace and Gromit,
but alas, no psalms came from it.
Buckle my trunnions and bonnet,
I've moved on to a different sonnet.
***

Fuddy duddy stood in line
Three hours in cold, near cryin'.
A cuppa finally saved her fingers
(tho' her cough still lingers).
Fuddy duddy got for frees
Two tix to the Black Eyed Peas.

Last night's gig sure was loud, oh glug,
Yee-haa for the lowly ear plug.
The sound it was muffled
-- The tunes quite dis-tuffled --
But I survived the amps
Of decibels rampeds.

One note to all must be heeded:
Opera glasses are needed,
Lest just like me
You can't 'xactly see
Who's who with the mic
Blaring a political strike.

Bush is a dork and Up North was saluted --
Such were the locals well bruited!
"And which fellas love ladies?"
The yelling's like Hades.
"What fellas love fellas?" Er.
The silence said brr.

Even in Canada, hip-hop is rough
For the guy with a penchant for luff
with the same. Many still hide
(Did Kanye West turn the tide?).
Sheepish, boy Pea then denied any curve,
But asking at all showed great nerve.

Girls who love girls let out jubilubs,
And made up for the too worried bubs.
All hail Black Eyed Peas,
They're the bee's knees.
For them, I toss bootie about.
P.S., I got humps. Check it out.

October 28, 2005 10:38 AM

First violin practice, ever

"Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow," she said.

"Sorry," I said.

October 28, 2005 9:32 AM

Back in business

As promised by webmaster David Le Sauvage, the Egale Canada listserv is back up. Newbies as well as the regulars must re/sub. Send an e-mail to majordomo@lists.egale.ca and in the body of the text, the message "sub egale-e." Then follow the instructions you get by return e-mail!

October 27, 2005 11:39 AM

I'll pick you, you and you -- but not you, we have too many of you already

The saddest story of the queer media these days is the belief that getting one of everything on staff will make for the best darned community coverage ever. You know, one trans person, one black, one native, one latina... Each one living and working in her own little ghetto. If you're Asian and want to write about tennis, we don't want you. (Unless you want to profile Asian players, in which case we have space for you on page 38.)

Yes, I'm exaggerating, but it is the logical end result of what I heard over and over at September's National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association conference from the gay media people. When I asked Windy City Times editor Tracy Baim if she thought that looking for a trans writer in order to get trans community coverage might cause a potential reporter to feel trapped into covering stuff she did NOT want to obsess over, Baim replied that she'd never really thought of it that way. (Poor Tracy, I don't mean to put her on the spot!)

If I wrote only about white lesbian Canadian issues, I'd go mad. Not to mention be pretty damned ignorant.

Do you recall a time when we all believed that learning about each other was interesting and, in fact, a requirement for getting along in the world? Liberalism was replaced by the "radical" idea that whites were not allowed to create fictional black characters because empathy, imagination and interest were considered to be racially bound. The idea that minorities deserve to be given the chance to present their realities has been replaced with the belief that they MUST represent their communities. As for me, I got important white things to write about.

LZ Granderson is an editor at the sports ESPN The Magazine and is also a black gay man -- apparently the only of both in his newsroom. He gets pretty darned tired, he said at a panel discussion (again at the NLGJA conference) of being the go-to guy for every single black or queer story. He didn't take the extra step and publicly chastise the lazy cowards around him, but I will: this is just a way for people to deflect responsibility. If I can ask the black guy, then I don't have to think. He'll tell me whether I'm being politically correct! If I can ask the lesbian, I don't have to accept accountability for my actions. Cuz she said it was okay! And I can lapse back into my nap.

I'm not saying that I as a lesbian, or LZ as a black man or as a gay man, are abdicating our interest in our own communities. Of course being part of a certain group gives you some advantages (not to mention the disadvantages of having more enemies in that grouping). Certainly I expect that LZ's identity made it more comfortable for WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes to come out in the current issue of the magazine. She's a forward with the Houston Comets and a three-time Olympic medal winner (and black, by the way). This is hot stuff in the sports world.

"My reason for coming out isn't to be some sort of hero," Swoopes said. "I'm just at a point in my life where I'm tired of having to pretend to be somebody I'm not. I'm tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about. About the person I love."

More from the press release: "Swoopes, 34, is the most recognizable athlete, male or female, to come out in a team sport. Former WNBA player Michele Van Gorp, who played for the Minnesota Lynx, publicly acknowledged she is a lesbian in July 2004 [in the GLBT magazine Lavender]. Before Van Gorp, former Liberty player Sue Wicks had been the only member of a female professional team to publicly come out while still playing. Previously, Swoopes has said she plans to continue her career.

"Former NFL defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo and MLB outfielder Billy Bean made headlines when they revealed they were gay, but both were retired when they made their announcements and neither had a career that comes close to Swoopes." Ex Out mag editor Brendan Lemon claimed to be humping a gay baseball player, but no one was ever able to figure out if that was, well, true.

I expect that many progressive sports fans were desperate for some good news -- any good news -- after the recent revelation that baseball is fast becoming a whites-only sport. And just to show how important she really is, Swoopes is the first female athlete to have had a shoe named after her (Nike's Air Swoopes).

More from ESPN: "The news could be particularly perplexing for the WNBA, which has struggled to both recognize the homosexual element connected to its league and grow its fan base. Ironically, in its infancy, the WNBA marketed a pregnant, married Swoopes to put a heterosexual face on its promotional campaign. Now the league, which will play its 10th season next summer, has to decide what to do now that one of its best and most recognizable players has announced she's gay."

Sez Swoopes: "The talk about the WNBA being full of lesbians is not true. There are as many straight women in the league as there are gay. What really irritates me is when people talk about football, baseball and the NBA, you don't hear all of this talk about the gay guys playing. But when you talk about the WNBA, then it becomes an issue. Sexuality and gender don't change anyone's performance on the court." (Yes, there it is, the ridiculous quote that everybody who comes out feels the need to include. All it does is make bigots think that there is a difference....)

But this is what I found most refreshing (and it's from the 365gay.com story): "Do I think I was born this way? No," Swoopes said. "And that's probably confusing to some, because I know a lot of people believe that you are." Swoopes, who was married and has an 8-year-old son, said her 1999 divorce "wasn't because I'm gay."

That is even more courageous than merely coming out. I have heard from more and more gay activists the incessant demand that homos be accepted because we were born that way. It's an argument that will eventually bite off our noses. As if choice was dirty.

October 26, 2005 12:12 PM

Tonstant Weader frowed up

Via eye mag, the Oct. 31 Maclean's features this coverline: "Showing some leg in Winnipeg: Inside Michaëlle Jean's first week." Yes, that's a reference to the calves of our head of state, the governor-general of Canada.

There's pride in oneself and in one's homegrown newsmagazine, and there's enough is enough. Excerpts: "'I hate shopping,' says Michaëlle Jean. 'I do it all in one day, power shopping.' But she loves clothes. After three days of intense governor-generalling in Winnipeg, Jean plops down on a sofa in the front room at the Manitoba lieutenant governor's house, tucks her high-heeled shoe up underneath her thigh, lets out an exhausted sigh, and happily gabs about fashion. 'I do wear a lot of Canadian designers,' says Jean, citing Philippe Dubuc, Michel Desjardins, Harricana, Marie Saint Pierre. 'But I have to confess that I also buy from French designers when I go to France. I try to dress as simple as possible, but very feminine too. I'm proud to be a woman, I enjoy it.'

"Just watch Her Excellency walk, and you'll see what she means. Even in her most formal duties, such as inspecting the honour guard, Jean moves with a sultry swagger, shoulders back, arms and hips a-swinging. This looseness, this sexiness, helped draw Winnipeggers to the 48-year-old bombshell last week, when she and her 61-year-old filmmaker husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, made their first official visit, to Manitoba....

"Winnipeggers responded to Jean as if she were Angelina Jolie, not a mere vice-regal."

Let's move right along: "Jean" (also as in Chretien) is my fave Frenchie monicker, because 90 percent of anglo newscasters mangle its pronunciation, seemingly purposefully giving Quebeckers the final proof that separation from Canada is the only possible answer. One Jean, followed by another. Accident, or conspiracy?

And finally.... Speculation on Michaelle Jean's successor has already begun! From Janet, the most entertaining idea so far: "I'm sure I'm not the first to think that Ann-Marie Macdonald might be the next governor-general. Keep the telejournalist streak alive, and a lesbian to boot! Gee, will she need to get married, or has she already?"

October 26, 2005 12:06 PM

What to do, what to do

Still smarting from the legacy of Svend Robinson, gay activist, former member of Parliament, and convicted thief? Is he using claims of mental illness to deflect responsibility, or is he for real? I could never tell with Robinson before, and I can't tell now.

He was first elected in British Columbia in 1979, and voted back in consistently until quitting in 2004 (some small matter of an expensive ring ending up in his pocket). And this even after he came out in 1988, the first MP to do so. He's a showboater and an egocentric, but they're also the ones who make the biggest splash -- squeaky wheel, dontcha know. (Regular readers will know I have political bones to pick.)

From the website Robinson's using to help relaunch his political career, running against the progressive and gay-positive (but slightly loopy) Liberal Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre (where Robinson as yet does not live, but has promised to move soon): "Svend is currently working in the legal department of the largest public sector union in British Columbia, the B.C. Government Employees' Union. He shares his life with his partner Max Riveron and their two puppies Jasmine and Cohiba."

Robinson waited until after his Manitoba New Democratic Party colleague Bev Desjarlais announced her, uhm, redeployment, after her own constituents snubbed her for the next federal election. Payback for voting against same-sex marriage, wot.

More Robinson: "It's great to be back... I can’t do this without strong grassroots support from people like you. If you can help out in the campaign or beforehand, or if you have ideas or suggestions you want to share with me, please send me an e-mail at svend@svendrobinson.com. If you live in Vancouver-Centre, consider joining the party. This will be a challenging and exciting project….together, we can make a difference."

I just wish he didn't sound like such a... politician.

October 25, 2005 9:09 AM

Change? Bah

An act of defiance can lead to nothing. Two black women had been arrested a few weeks before for refusing to give up their bus seats to whites -- and nothing came of it. It's shocking that Rosa Parks, those 50 or so years ago, would refuse the order to vacate. After all, what would change?

We all realize that our many small acts of defiance may lead nowhere. But Parks made us realize that eventually, change will come. She was a living symbol of hope. And that's why we all continue to resist.

See here, here, and here.

October 25, 2005 8:46 AM

Republican sexuality

In honour of American Secretary of State Condi Rice's visit to Canada: "This week President Bush's second Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, joined the swelling ranks of high-powered Republicans with, um -- how to put it? -- ambiguous sexual orientations," writes blogger and gay activist John Aravosis.

"The club of what we'll call 'closet heterosexuals' also includes such luminaries as the very single Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, California congressman David Dreier, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Miers, 61, has never been married, has no kids, doesn't appear to have any serious love interests, and has a special place in her heart for softball."

Homos and women do what they need to do to survive.


ADDED FRIDAY: We won't have Miers to kick around any more. In retrospect, gay groups get all nicey-nice about her.


ADDED OCT. 31: It's back to normal today, with gay groups grumping.

October 25, 2005 7:15 AM

Hikaru Sulu comes out

Asian-American George Takei is an actor and activist who grew up in a U.S. internment camp. He was also a bridge officer on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, and is coming out in Wednesday's edition of the Los Angeles pub, Frontiers Newsmagazine.

I adore George Takei. In a platonic, futurist kind of way.

Bonus Trek link: all the dirt on filking.


ADDED WEDNESDAY: Here's the direct link!

Excerpts: "Takei's portrayal of Sulu is a watershed moment in television history -- never had an Asian-American actor played such a prominent role in the national media, certainly not without a marginalizing accent or stereotypical job as a chef or servant or cook. In fact, Takei's clear, booming voice and perfectly enunciated English as he helmed the U.S.S. Enterprise, flew in the face of traditional Asian male stereotypes prevalent even up to that time on TV and in film."

George Takei, on discussing his sexuality to the media: "You know, it's not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through. It’s more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen. And then some doors are open and light comes in, and there are skylights and it widens. Brad's my partner, we've been together for 18 years. So, I've been 'open,' but I have not talked to the press. In that sense, maybe that's another opening of the corridor there."

On being a child in the United States during the World War II: "You know, I grew up in two American internment camps, and at that time I was very young. My memories of camp -- I was four years old to eight years old -- they're fond memories.... Yes, I remember the barbed wire and the guard towers and the machine guns, but they became part of my normal landscape.... But when we came out of camp, that's when I first realized that being in camp, that being Japanese-American, was something shameful. That camp was sort of like jail, and bad people go to jail. So, when you’re eight, nine… And there’s a sense of some shame being Japanese-American."


POSTED FRIDAY: Best feedback so far about George Takei: "One could have guessed -- after all he did look too comfortable in that leather outfit he donned for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." (Haven't yet been able to find a decent online pic, darnit...)

October 24, 2005 8:52 PM

A present for the past

George Hislop, the first lady of this country's gay movement, will never receive an Order of Canada, our highest honour. It can't be awarded posthumously.

George was supposedly nominated a year or so ago, for his lifetime of activism and community work, but the Nameless Ones who decide on these things "met in the fall of 2004 and decided the George was not an ideal candidate for the Order at the time (their words, not mine)," wrote Don Kearney, a member of Egale's board directors, in an e-mail sent to a group of friends and activists. "He was re-nominated in 2005 and the OoC Committee was supposed to review it again at their fall meeting but George passed away before they could meet... I asked [a person in the Governor-General's office] about him being nominated before he died, but they have to have accepted the nomination before passing away."

So no Order of Canada. I wish I could confirm the shameful federal refusal to give George Hislop the award back when, but there's no way to do so. "All nominations are confidential, so I can't really discuss any of these details that you were asking for," the Honours Information Officer intoned onto my answering machine. "I do not even have access to this kind of information. The deliberations of the advisory council are also confidential. This is to protect people's personal information."

You know, the personal information of dead people, who no longer need "privacy rights." Along the way, anybody with any actual say in the matter never has to answer for their stupid decisions.

George Hislop's friends are now working on something else: a Meritorious Service Medal or Cross. "This is a more specific award based on one achievement and not a series of lifetime achievements such as the Order of Canada," said Don Kearney. "In recent times, George's focus has been the old age pension issue and I think that will resonate more clearly... than if we tried to get an award for his work with the bathhouse raids in the '80s (too much time has elapsed); same with Gay Day [it later became Toronto Pride], [that] he started a couple of decades ago. It is hard to pick just one thing, but since the papers focused on the pension issue lately, including in his obituary, it is probably our best bet."

Kearney is collecting letters of recommendation (mail them to 1903-40 Pleasant Blvd., Toronto, ON, M4T 1J9; for more information, e-mail him at donk@egale.ca). He suggests "some points about some of the achievements George has accomplished in the past (as part of an introduction), but the bulk of it should focus on his fight for old age pension benefits, the court decisions in his favour, the basic level of poverty he lived in because of the discrimination due to opposite-sex pension requirements pre-1998, and the fact that the government quasi-capitulated and gave him a cheque this summer... The more personal the letter, the better the chances."

There's no better time than now. Write a letter.

October 23, 2005 12:31 PM

Maybe I can get away with just getting braces

Tired of being "the gay one"? Try an "in" illness (not AIDS, of course). Or become homeless!

Rocker Melissa Etheridge says breast cancer has helped her lots. "[I]t's like wow, man! NASCAR has asked me to go sing the national anthem at one of their events," Etheridge confides in The Advocate's Oct. 25 cover story. "It's like cancer knocked gay out. Now I'm no longer the gay one." [Laughs.]

The Advocate reporter asks: "You wrote in your book, 'Skin,' that for a while, gay trumped your music. So cancer has now trumped gay?"

Etheridge: "Yeah! People come up to me now.... It used to be just the sisters, and that was my core. And it still is -- what would I do without my gay audience? But when somebody told me that their 80-year-old grandmother has breast cancer and is gonna go through chemo, and they mentioned wigs, and the woman said, 'If Melissa Etheridge can go on the Grammies bald, I don't need a wig!'

"... You start realizing, whoo, it went that far, to Grandma World -- now they're gonna see past the gay stuff. It won't stop at gay anymore. And maybe that's my job, to have the world think that they know a gay person, you know? And that they're OK."

I wonder how Ryan Larkin fits into that. Chris Landreth's Oscar-winning short animated film "Ryan" shows the former National Film Board wunderkid as he is -- alcoholic, formerly drug addled, begging and living in shelters. The flick propelled Larkin back into the limelight. His work now adorns a poster for the anniversary celebrations of The Main in Montreal, and he was expected to take part in the quickie challenge of this month's Kino Kabaret, where you make a movie in 48 hours.

Left out of "Ryan" -- but mentioned in the making-of movie, "Alter Egos," which has a much smaller audience -- is the fact that Larkin is gay. Good thing he's got so much tragedy in his life.

October 21, 2005 11:32 AM

The list is dead; long live the list!

I loved to make fun of the Egale listserv. Endless bickering over which is the proper word for A, B, and C. No, that's D, you evil creature.

But then last month the whole shebang went kaput, and I suddenly discovered how darned important it was to queer Canadians trying to communicate in this vast country of ours. The list kept me in the thick of things, following the debates of activists both smart and goofy (let's be honest, both sets contribute mightily to our rights and our culture). New ideas, insight into the big brains of some of our most important activists, as well as input from regular folks who care, dammit. Geez, I miss the Egale list.

"Egale uses a third-party provider, Queernet, to administer our listservs," it sez on the Egale site. "On September 1, 2005, Queernet's server suffered a catastrophic disk failure. They are attempting to restore their system, however, there is no guarantee of success. Queernet (also known as Online Policy Group) is a non-profit organization, and is soliciting donations to help pay for the data recovery."

This morning, Egale list administrator David Le Sauvage sent a note heralding its expected revival! "The list is not dead, just resting," he says. "I am expecting to restart it within a couple of days." Aces! We need the Egale list.

Once it's back up, you can subscribe here. Older members may have to resub. Click in over the next few days for status updates.

October 20, 2005 2:23 PM

Bwaahaaahaaahaaaaa

Please see "Dawn of the Knitted Dead." I want the one with no face, only bloooOoooOOoooood.

P.S. Saturday Night Magazine is deceased. Again. Spatter at 11.

October 20, 2005 9:47 AM

George Hislop, RIP

George Hislop died because he was old. On Oct. 8 at 78 years, in Toronto's Grace Hospital after suffering at least five heart attacks in two years and finally succumbing to esophageal cancer. It's a joy to be able to say it. Not that he's gone, not that he was constantly in and out of his sick bed, but that he was old. That he lived a long life.

There are few gay seniors. So many died during the vicious heyday of the AIDS epidemic 10 and 20 years ago that multiple generations of men lost a legion of would-be oldsters and mentors. George was a proud gay activist who was also damned promiscuous, and made no apologies for it. He talked about sex and had it. As an old geezer, too.

He was said to have preferred oral to the riskier fucking, and his fetish, he'd been heard to joke, saved his life.

For many, being gay is just a small part of existence, an add-on to a busy schedule. George made gayness central; he wouldn't allow anyone to forget the integral contribution sex and sexuality made to his identity. As Dick Hardon -- yeah baby -- he reviewed porno flicks for a long-defunct gay Toronto mag. As the part-owner of the Barracks, he was charged in the aftermath of 1981's infamous Toronto bathhouse raids with conspiring to keep a common bawdy house (and got off -- the rap, that is -- when everything got dropped).

Later, in a lawsuit challenging the city of Toronto's refusal to grant a business license to a proposed new men's spa, a judge accepted George as an expert witness, calling him "a habitué of gay bathhouses for the past four and a half decades." When the Spa on Maitland finally opened its doors in 1990, George was presented with his own five-by-seven cubicle. After his beloved dog Fudger died, George rarely went home to his Avenue Rd. apartment. If you wanted to talk to George, you'd call his office -- at the tubs.

Long-time friend and activist Peter Bochove, now a part-owner of Spa Excess, says George was lonely in those days. Ron Shearer, George's lover of 28 years, had a stroke after heart bypass surgery and died in 1986, and the survivor never quite recovered. The bathhouse gave him companionship and community.

To list George's contributions to Toronto and to the gay community would leave you slack-jawed. In 1970, the year after gay sex was finally legalized, George founded the Community Homophile Association Of Toronto (CHAT), and he gutsily became a regular in the then-unsympathetic media. Name a homophobic practice in Toronto, and George fought it. Name a bigoted journalist, and George courteously but firmly told them they were really quite in error. He even organized dances to bring the homos together, and was the first out gay to run for Toronto city council (in 1980, and he lost; ditto when he ran for the provincial legislature). He was president of Church Street's Hassle Free Clinic from its 1973 founding to his death. George gave a lifetime of service to his community that cannot be adequately revealed in this small space.

For all this, he was rewarded with the malnutrition and poverty that comes of being a senior citizen in this country.

Ronnie worked so that George could volunteer to change the world. And when Ron died, George had almost nothing. In gratitude for his years of activism, Peter Bochove says few Church St. businesses would accept George's money. City Councillor Kyle Rae threw his weight around and got George an apartment below market value once the Spa on Maitland shut down in 2004. And Bochove and his landlord, John Conforzi, regularly sent George money.

George finally won a class action lawsuit against the federal government demanding Canada Pension Plan benefits for unmarried same-sex widows. But the feds kept appealing, although the bad publicity of skin-and-bones seniors led them to send out cheques earlier this year. The money came with the proviso that, depending on the Supreme Court of Canada, it might have to be repaid.

Despite it all, George was known as a cheerful charmer. A celebration of George Hislop's life will be held at Woody's (465 Church St. in Toronto) on Sun., Nov. 6, from 5 pm to 8 pm. Anybody caught crying, says Peter Bochove, will be thrown out. George's orders.

October 19, 2005 5:12 PM

I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you

News flash! Mainstream reporters are freaked that homosexuals watch TV that's not all about their own private parts. "Gay TV survey defies stereotypes," reports United Press International.

An American "study on the TV habits of gays and lesbians revealed Monday they like 'South Park' just as much as 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.' 'South Park,' which routinely pokes fun at the gay population, was the second most popular TV show behind 'Queer Eye,' with about 25 percent of gays saying they watched it in the past month, compared to 8 percent of the total population."

At least 'South Park' gave us double-S gays Satan and Saddam. 'Queer Eye' is the most tired show on the tube. Yet more proof that gay men are loyal to a fault. Just scratch his ears and turn on the set.

Lesbians like the endless litany of sexual attacks followed by well-deserved justice on 'Law & Order: SVU,' then seem to relax with 'Golden Girls' reruns on Lifetime." Perhaps Bea Arthur is the new lesbo sex-pot? Finally, there's the manly Spike's idiots-on-parade show, 'Real TV.' All these programs are enjoyed by lesbians "in far greater numbers than [in] the general population, the study found."

I don't see 'The L Word' on this list.

Despite show preferences, the study sez that lesbians have upscale tastes, liking "premium cable channels such as HBO, A&E, USA, ESPN, Discovery, Lifetime, Showtime, Bravo (the US one, mind, not the goodie goodie Can-culture one), TNT and Starz."

In order, gay men watch: Comedy Central, Discovery (huzzah for the homegrown hit, "Daily Planet"), and Spike TV, a rugged man's man of a station filled with kung fu flicks and bloody, cheoregraphed wrestling matches (this lesbian watches Spike for its endless afternoon Star Trek reruns). Next come A&E, Bravo, Sci Fi, CNN (news 24-7), Lifetime, Fox News Channel (no Canuck distribution for that one), and HGTV (for fag hags and their gay decorator friends).

But but... does the United States not have a FashionTelevision Channel? It's just as queer as Canada's OUTtv, but waaaaay less tediously earnest (hey, I care about beaten up high school students, but I won't watch a doc on them rebroadcast five times a day). On the weekend the fabtabulistic fashion channel's "101 Most Starlicious Makeovers" featured Anne Heche (see her redemption here), transforming from straight to gay and back again. In another segment, a voiceover noted that "every heterosexual man" lived for Farrah Fawcett in 1976. Now that's television for my peeps. Got that, CBS?

October 19, 2005 2:19 PM

So, ask already!

A follow-up to the outing (?) of American Secretary of State Condi Rice, when Fox reporter James Rosen seemed to try to set Rice up with network colleague Lauren Green on-air: "But, alas, it appears that Rosen may have been barking up at least one wrong tree. On Oct. 7, after this story went all blogolicious, Green stated: 'I am not gay. I am very straight. All Christian men, single and over 35, can apply,'" notes gay reporter Rex Wockner.

"As far as I know, no one has asked Rice about her orientation.

"For his part, Rosen told radarmagazine.com that he wasn't trying to set Rice up on a date: "Nothing could be further from the truth."

"But go back up there and re-read. He doesn't merely mention that Green is 'beautiful' and 'single'; he even points out that she and Rice are the same race. He tells Rice, 'I think you'll have an interest in knowing her' and 'She's going to want to hear from you.'

"The statistical chance of five inadvertent double entendres occurring in an exchange that totaled 139 words is probably a number so big that it would fill this entire page."

October 18, 2005 12:42 PM

Smile for the little birdie

We've truly arrived. Or at least, Ellen DeGeneres has. Her 1997 Time cover shot, paired with the simple phrase, "Yep, I'm gay," came in at number 37 in the top magazine covers of the last 40 years. This as declared by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

What's number one? "On what would be the last day of his life, John Lennon posed for photographs with Yoko Ono in a session with photographer Annie Liebovitz. One of the pictures, a naked Lennon curled around and kissing a clothed Ono, became the cover for Rolling Stone magazine's tribute to him. That iconic image published a month after his December 1980 death has been ranked the top magazine cover," it sez here.

DeGeneres may dance to her own tune, but she walked into the damned ballroom. And she's loved for it.

Photog Liebovitz is also someone lesbians demand a piece of -- though I wouldn't call her loved.

Recall the anger over Susan Sontag's "inning" in mainstream media obits. Were she and Liebovitz a couple? Or did Liebovitz indeed dump the Brainy One for the nanny, as gossip once had it? Certainly the pair knew each other for a very long time. And neither was nor is veddy public about their sexuality; I dunno about proud.

Unfortunately, the exalted collection of covers doesn't include the photographers' names, so I dunno if Liebovitz only appears once. She is one of continent's best picture snappers, found regularly in Vanity Fair, for example. Find the complete list o' winners here.

Boys may be interested to discover that Andy Warhol made it twice -- for Esquire in May 1969, and for a pose on the front of the December 1972 Interview. Now there was an out public figure.


ADDED Wednesday: Bert Archer just e-mailed that Annie L took the top two spots, as she shot the stunning preggers-Demi-Moore pic that in came in second.

October 18, 2005 12:00 PM

Sex in spaaaaaace

Captain Jack, the new sidekick for BBC television's "Doctor Who" at the end of the last season, is getting his own spin-off. This matters because Captain Jack is bisexual. Yay!

"Doctor Who writer Russell Davies is at work on the new show with a team of writers," it sez here. That's Davies of Brit "Queer As Folk" fame.

Davies calls the new show "'dark, wild and sexy. 'Torchwood' is a British sci-fi paranoid thriller, a cop show with a sense of humour.' While the audience for the time-travelling outer space adventures of Doctor Who includes both children and adults, Davies said 'Torchwood' -- the title is an anagram of Doctor Who - would be aimed at adults."

October 18, 2005 11:45 AM

Okay, everybody ready? Now pull

More seriously, the Refuge blather was inspired by 16-year-old American blogger Zach, sent to homo rehab this summer by his concerned parents. Everybody's heard of this kid: Zach blogged his experience, and he became an unwilling poster boy, his private life plastered everywhere in the media.

In short, queer and Christian activists each grabbed hold of one of Zach's legs and pulled, and neither side would let go.

Here's some of Zach's final post, dated August 25:

"This isn't going to become my life. I won't let it. There's more to me than this. I've erased the original blogs. I know they're still out there somewhere, but the originals aren't. I haven't been able to see all of the news, newspaper, magazine, etc. articles and such, so I don't know exactly what to say. Currently I feel annoyed towards a lot of things.

"Love In Action has been misrepresented and what I have posted in my blogs has been taken out of perspective and context. I don't take back the things I've said, nor am I going to pretend like it never happened. It did. I refuse to deal with people who are only focused on their one-sided (biased) agendas. It isn't fair to anyone. I'm very frustrated with the things going on in my life now, but everyone has their issues. Homosexuality is still a factor in my life -- it's not who I am, it never has been. Those of you who really know me, know that homosexuality was always there but it didn't run my life, and it will not now.

"Obviously, many many people have sent friend requests to me because of the recent events that've place[d] Love In Action, my parents, and I in the center of controversial events. I don't want my blog to become that. Like I said -- there is more to me than this. Out of respect for me, I ask, if you cannot keep yourself from posting all over my blogs and commenting all over my profile about the past situation, then please remove me from your friends list....

"I just want to do what I can for the wrongs to be corrected. The media, in my opinion, has made a bit of a mess of things. But, I suppose they did what they could with what they had.

"I understand the concern, and I sooo appreciate everyone caring as much as they seemed to have. I REALLY do. But, I'm still alive. I don't believe I've been brainwashed. It's almost insulting, thinking about it, to be brainwashed....

"Please stop telling me I've been brainwashed. You (most of you) aren't in any position to tell me that I've been brainwashed. You don't know me -- stop acting like it -- please."

October 18, 2005 11:18 AM

Kick-starting the savage beast

You must lead a disciplined life in order to leave homosexuality behind, and the younger you start, the better. The August Harper's Magazine gives the rundown, in a reprint "from the rules for clients of Refuge, a Memphis-based rehabilitation program run by Love in Action, a 'Christ-centered ministry.'"

"Clients" means teenagers.

Some excerpts: "All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client in Safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians." Gotta clean out the double-plus bad!

"Love in Action wants to encourage each client by affirming his/her gender identity. Therefore, any belongings, appearances, clothing, actions, or humor that might connect a client to an inappropriate past are excluded from the program. These hindrances are called False Images (FIs). FI behavior may include hyper-masculinity, seductive clothing, mannish/boyish attire (on women), excessive jewelry (on men), mascoting, and 'campy' or gay/lesbian behavior and talk. Clients should report all FIs, whether their own or another's, to staff."

Men must shave off facial hair, and women must shave legs and underarms twice weekly, minimum. Abercrombie & Fitch (get thee away from that link, Satan!) and Calvin Klein clothes are banned. Bikini-style undies are prohibited on men; women must not wear thong panties, but bras are required at all times (oh okay, not while sleeping).

Masturbation appears to be a worry (or is it dancing?): "Refuge clients are allowed a one-time fifteen-minute maximum closed bathroom door time for shower/grooming purposes. The only other closed-door alone time allowed is for using the rest room. Refuge clients must keep their bedroom doors open at all times, day or night."

Plus all kinds of rules when clients wander into the real world. "Refuge clients must be with at least one parent or guardian at all times when off-campus. They may not enter any restaurants with bars, even when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Clients must be accompanied during any trip to a public rest room.

"Clients are not allowed to visit any video, music, or media stores that are not expressly Christian, even if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Clients may visit LifeWay Christian stores with a parent or guardian.

"Clients may only read materials approved by staff. No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the client's and the parent's/guardian's control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc., are not considered Christian)."

Zounds! Music can turn me into a sex-crazed homosexual! Endless cloudy grey and rain this last week-and-a-half has cut down on my energy (and libido), but now I'm off to HMV for a quick fix of soaring classical cantatas. Heh heh -- won't my sweetie be surprised when she gets home to find me all gussied up in Saran Wrap.

October 17, 2005 11:05 AM

Take that, chop chop!

The doling out of justice is not a scientific act. It's so often based on gut reactions, on whose testimony you believe. And the punishment is the number of years in prison that a judge calculates: take the legally required minimum sentence, add anger, divide by youth, find the percentage of infirmity and multiply by any social deficiencies. And hope the judge doesn't have a tummy ache.

Equal rights, in comparison, seem much simpler to figure out.

In short, everyone should have access to... fill in the blank. But I was surprised a few years ago, sitting through my first couple of Supreme Court of Canada hearings on gay rights, to discover that the yard stick can be just as fuzzy and hard to measure.

Legalized gay equality is all about the government propping up self-esteem and about ensuring "dignity" -- a complex pair of feelings that can't be measured on a meter. Take the 1998 court decision that ordered Alberta to add "sexual orientation" protections to its human rights code.

The justices wrote: "The exclusion sends a message to all Albertans that it is permissible, and perhaps even acceptable, to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation.... Perhaps most important is the psychological harm which may ensue from this state of affairs. Fear of discrimination will logically lead to concealment of true identity and this must be harmful to personal confidence and self-esteem.... The potential harm to the dignity and perceived worth of gay and lesbian individuals constitutes a particularly cruel form of discrimination."

I have lost count of the number of references to "dignity" and "self-esteem" in various gay rights judgments. These amorphous -- but valid -- ideas have become entrenched in our minds as "rights."

To the point where the "right" to self-esteem is hurting us psychologically. And I don't just mean gay men and lesbians, I mean that they're hurting everyone.

I recently took a self-defence course, and learned how horrifyingly easy it is to break an assailant's bones. (Just aim with all your might at the collarbone or shin, and he'll be howling while you yell for a cop.) But an integral part of the class, offered to women only, was the building up of self-esteem.

No problems there: many of my classmates were in their late teens, maybe early twenties, women who were beginning to work through dating and sexuality, and who needed a boost of confidence. They told awful stories of being attacked by guys in bars, of stalker exes or drunks grabbing them on the way to the gym.

But what eventually became clear in most of these stories is that the men felt that their own dignity and self-esteem had been attacked by the women who'd turned them down.

The cult of dignity and self-esteem is growing out of control.

Truly healthy self-esteem and a sense of dignity allow for each of us to accept that disagreement or disinterest or dislike is allowed. We are not diminished by someone else's rudeness or idiocy, nor by the fact that so-and-so doesn't like us.

But we're moving toward the worship of self-esteem. An unhealthy self-esteem demands that we get the bad man back. Being cut off at the turnpike leads to giving the finger, leads to assault. A rude sales shop assistant haughtily questioning our ability to pay for the expensive items in the store leads to hurt, anger, a nasty response... to escalation and revenge.

In this self-defence class, the instructor tried to teach we women to fight back by verbally taking on the nasty salesgirl (an actual example).

But why? Why should I allow some stranger in a store to affect my self-esteem? How does someone else's stupidity reflect upon me?

Healthy self-esteem is becoming distorted into the mindless demand that everyone treat us with kid gloves -- or else. It's the kind of fake self-esteem that's born of internalized insecurities (that could even include homophobia). It leads from the simple human need for respect to an exaggerated demand for respect at any and all times that breeds only more anger.

The cult of self-esteem distorts what's really important. Fire me because I'm a lesbian and I'll nail your ears to the floor, you pig. But poor manners? Rudeness?

I got better things to worry about.


March 2004

October 14, 2005 12:12 PM

Know when to fold 'em

First the soul-less new Lucky Luke (even if he is hangin' out in my neck'a the woods). And now a new punny Asterix volume, which hits store shelves today.

You remember, the teeny indomitable Gaul and his fat friend, Obelix, who fell in the vat of magic potion as a child and can as such never drink the stuff. The pair wallop and bif and baf the evil conquering Romans of olden times, reminding us all that good humour, charm and a dollop of violence can solve all problems.

Collaborator Goscinny is dead, and Uderzo goes it alone, to create, according to this morning's La Presse review, a travesty of a piece of garbage-y. The year is 50 BC, and "Le ciel lui tombe sur la tete" (or as Yoda would say, falling the sky upon your head is) features alien beens and robots.

Ugh. I am an old cranky pants who demands historical accuracy.

Oh geez, almost forgot. Must pander to maladjusted need to hint that Asterix and Obelix are gay. There's one such creation here.

October 13, 2005 10:14 AM

Bury me in pretty pink

My God, but Breast Cancer Awareness Month is tedious. Everywhere I look is pink crap -- pens, water bottles, caps, key rings, even food processors and frying pans. The Bay's advert alone features a full page of the stuff. There was a time when camp, born of alienation and distance, allowed us to see through the pomposity of such obsessive consumerism. No more. Breast cancer products are a parody, and we're buying.

There's even the Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Bracelet for a mere $1.99! Yes, yet another bla-bla-bracelet, joining a long list of stupid things you can buy and immediately throw away, trading in environmental awareness for women's health.

October is also the month where every queer publication on the continent writes its requisite lesbian health story -- the same one, every year. Breast cancer is the only lesbian disease there is.

Politically cool gay men say they care about lesbian breast cancer because we were there for them during the worst of the AIDS crisis, and the fags who don't care about lesbian breast cancer as a form of guilt-ridden payback are awful, evil beings. Then a reporter finds a dyke who survived breast cancer and goes on and on about it, in the most simplistic terms imaginable. By God, Breastless Lesbian is ennobled by her suffering.

She is exhalted for her courage (even if hysterically sobbing every 15 minutes); she is never angry (even if assaulting her girlfriend out of frustration and fear); she is a font of wisdom (even if disgusted by the very thought of being touched); she is the very picture of the selfless Virgin Mary (even if fucking).

And voila! Lesbians and gay men alike feel virtuous and go back to sleep.

Breast cancer is not a lesbian disease. Because of AIDS and its undeniable connection to gay men, lesbians and gay men both feel a need to claim their own illness. I've done it too, because there are times when politics and psychic need can overwhelm common sense. But it's all bullpucky. Chicago Tribune health reporter Judy Peres, who spoke at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association conference in Chicago last month (she was on a health panel that I moderated), was quite clear in her analysis: breast cancer is not a lesbian illness.

Lesbians need to get over the feeling of entitlement that leads to and comes with demanding that we get our own disease. And we need to start dealing with how women really are, not how we want them to be.

October 12, 2005 9:50 AM

No tickee, no shirtee

I can't recall overt racism from my childhood readings of Lucky Luke's almost 90 comic book adventures. Memory is like that.

Mr. Luke, the Belgian-made American cowpoke, first showed up in 1946 as a one-shot. "Lucky Luke started as an affectionate take-off on movie Westerns of the period," says my git-on-little-doggie-eared copy of "The World Encyclopedia of Comics." "Lucky himself was the traditional pure-of-heart cowboy always ready to bring justice to the Wild West before riding off into the sunset." With steadfast horsie companion Jolly Jumper, of course.

The lure of fame, fortune, and perhaps hommage, led in 2004 to a new adventure en francais (created by fans of the work of the late Morris and Goscinny), that's set in Quebec: His Nibs in "La Belle Province." In it, an obsequious Chinese laundryman named Pou-Tinh rescues a properly pleased Luke's filthy clothes. Nyuck nyuck: that guy sure washes clothes well, but darned if he doesn't tawk funny. Every 'R' is pronounced like an 'L.'

At least it's sort of historically accurate to place a Chinese laundry in the Quebec of the not-quite-clearly-labeled time period inhabited by Lucky Luke. The laundry business "became institutionalized as a pattern of work and life for the [early] Chinese in Canada," according to author Ban Seng Hoe's "Enduring Hardship: The Chinese Laundry in Canada."

Chinese men came to Canada during the Gold Rush, and later when hearing of job opportunities to build the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Cariboo Wagon Road. All this to say that most settled in British Columbia.

They were escaping a steady collection of wars (both invasions and civil), natural calamities, extreme poverty and famine. In 1881, writes Ban Seng Hoe, there were 4,383 Chinese in Canada; seven lived in Quebec. Ten years later, the number of Chinese in Canada had doubled; 36 lived in Quebec. "In Montreal in 1900, over 80 percent of the Chinese were said to rely on the 'starch and iron business.'"

EVIL MONGOLS
They were despised, and hired only for the most menial, backbreaking jobs -- mining, fish canning, ditch digging. To start one's own business must have seemed like a step up. They had little money, a language barrier, and few skills. Laundry work made sense -- though it involved a mind-and-body-numbing 12 to 18 hours of labour a day, scrubbing, washing, ironing, drying, for pennies a shirt. They died young, often illiterate and still unable to speak English or French because taking time to learn would have left a huge gap in earnings -- the endless washing left no time for anything but sleep.

The Chinese pulled in business because their service was much cheaper than that offered by white-owned businesses. Many "real" Canadians despised the immigrants, supposedly for taking Canadian cash, but not investing every penny into the local economy. Instead, the working men sent as much money as they could to wives and children back home. (Until 1947, the Chinese head tax and other specialized Canadian legislation made it almost impossible for the men to bring over wives and children. Life was darned lonely for most.)

Writes Ban Seng Hoe: "Constant agitation from politicians and trade and labour unions -- as well as harassment from such organizations as the Anti-Chinese Society (formed in Victoria in 1873), the Anti-Chinese League (formed in Vancouver in 1887) and the Asiatic Exclusion League (Vancouver, 1907) -- coupled with high unemployment and hardship, led large numbers of Chinese to quit British Columbia for other regions. Chinese laundries began to dot the landscape in various cities and towns from the Rockies to the Atlantic provinces, and became an essential means of livelihood for Chinese workers."

The anti-Chinese laundry panic spread across the country, too. White workers feared for their jobs because "white labour, having regard to the cost of living, cannot compete with the Chinese," announced one royal commission. The white Nelson, B.C. Laundry Workers' Union in 1902 proclaimed: "In the laundry work in Nelson alone there were at the lowest estimate 200 Chinamen employed at a wage varying from 75 cents to $1.50 per day, their hours of labour extending over the whole 24 hours, with barely time to eat and sleep. On some wash-houses a double gang is worked, the off men sleeping in the same apartment as those working, and often sleeping on clothes to be washed; and their habits are such that we feel sure that in many cases a health officer would condemn the same as injurious to public health.... We extend our most hearty approval and support to any legislation that will effectually remove this evil of Mongolian labour."

IT'S ALL IN THE GENES
A Quebec Le Soleil newspaper reporter called Chinese laundrymen unsanitary and tubercular in 1910. "The reporter went on to state that many people had noticed that their laundry would become yellow when laundered by the Chinese, and that this was no doubt due to the Chinese penchant for smoking opium." The paper also exhorted readers to support "our" industries and "our" merchants.

In Montreal, the Chinese laundry licencing fee was $50 a year, "equivalent to the charge levied on a first-class restaurant, and which represented four months' income for a Chinese laundryman." Nonetheless, writes Ban Seng Hoe, Montreal was Canada's Chinese laundry capital in the early 1900s. "During the first half of the 20th century... Chinese laundrymen became so ubiquitous that suggestions were made that the Chinese were genetically programmed to be laundry workers."

October 11, 2005 12:41 PM

The celL Word

A pal wondered who really watches "The L Word": One of the first commercials on one of the first episodes of the second season (recall me 'n' my friends are locked up in Canuckistan here) featured a sales pitch for... Viagra.

Now we know: "Complaints from B.C. prison guards upset that sex offenders are doing 'disgusting things' in their cells while watching sexually explicit cable TV has prompted the Commons justice committee to consider whether racy fare like 'The L Word' should be banned from federal prisons.

"Conservative MP Mark Warawa of Langley, B.C.," it sez here on the wire, "raised the subject Thursday when he tabled a motion that the committee 'study the issue of limiting access to sexually explicit material on cable television in federal prisons' and report back to Parliament. By all-party consent, the committee postponed a vote on the motion while it makes preliminary inquiries to Corrections Canada and the union for corrections officers."

Turns out "The L Word" may not be one of the shows: Bloc Quebecois justice critic Richard Marceau asked how MPs are supposed to decide what qualifies as 'sexually explicit.' "What is it exactly? Seeing breasts on TV, two people making love, what we call full-frontal nudity? There are also channels which during the day have things that are a little daring, think about Showcase for example ... 'The L Word', would that fall into what is being designated as sexually explicit material? Where is the line being drawn? I don't know."

And here's the kicker: all this is to protect women from seeing men touching their penises. Warawa said: "The female corrections officers were most concerned with the nature of the programming viewed by inmates as they found it 'embarrassing, disgusting and demeaning.'"

It's a common illness, this women's thing. In such a context, lesbians, and most straight women, I dare say, cannot cope with the mere sight of an engorging penis, even one behind bars trying desperately to make a little normalcy in its own home.

A penis? Whatever. But finding a penis to be gross and disgusting? Honey, if that's your shtick, you need a shrink.

I know no one is allowed to relax or have any fun in jail. The endless appalled exposes of Karla Homolka in a party dress celebrating a birthday was proof of that -- jail must be unrelentingly sour, a place where punishment reigns and any hint of redemption must be crushed.

Yep, men in prison should be banned from spewing their semen into Kleenex.

We've seen what happens to priests who've taken vows of chastity -- steadfast denial turns far too many of them into people who attack the most vulnerable. God help society when these jailbirds, banned even from masturbating, finally get out.

But where, you ask, are the women prisoners in all this? Nuthin' in the news story about it.

I know: the MP can't bring it up, because it would ruin his point. Girls touching themselves in jail? That's hot.


APOLOGIES for the post lateness, I took off the long weekend and returned to an avalanche of work. And many thanks to M for forwarding the CelL Word info.

October 7, 2005 2:33 PM

On the arrival of Godot

During test runs of Hong Kong's new Disneyland, according to the New York Times last month, "park goers complained of waits of over two hours for some attractions. One visitor said that in 12 hours at the park, he went on all of four rides.... And the delays sparked cultural complaints in Internet discussion groups, with some Hong Kong residents saying the problems were made worse by pushing and shoving from mainland Chinese visitors unaccustomed to orderly waiting.

"There are, in fact, cultural differences in how people behave while in line, according to social scientists and park designers."

Those in more collective cultures (as in some Asian countries) "compare their situation with those around them. This may make it more likely that they will remain in a line even if it is excessively long.... it is the people behind a person in line, rather than in front, that determines the person's behaviour." If there are oodles behind you, you won't give up because you have such a great head start.

Individualistic cultures -- such as the United States' -- have shorter lines. "They don't necessarily feel better that more people are behind them, but feel bad if too many people are in front of them. Lines in these cultures tend to be more self-limiting."

One stand-in-line-studier says mainland Chinese are "trying to figure out how lines work." Brits are orderly. Italians and French "never saw a line they couldn't be in front of." In the Middle East, no one will tolerate lines, so Disney increased ride capacity such that waiting is at a minimum.

I recently checked out my local amusement park, La Ronde (open weekends through Oct. 23). And I stood in line.

Not for long, generally; it was an overcast, chilly day that kept many away. Until I got to the Dragon, a popular roller coaster (running mostly in the deep dark of a cavernous warehouse). Our group of four waited. Waited. Waited. And then I started looking.

We had a perfect view of a large ugly cement square -- complete with electrical box and sheared wires poking out from the lot's geographical centre; I imagined a ride plucked up and tossed out by a giant claw.

I began to notice that some of the rides were falling apart -- a couple of the teacups were chained away from customers, as were some Disco pods. The Spirale observation tower was installed during Expo 67 and looks it. Some of the glass panes had been replaced by squares of wood. (Management should rename the ride The Opaque Elevator.)

The Bateau Pirate was the only ride officially marked as shut for the day. But in fact, the Formula 1 simulator was padlocked when I walked by. And the bouncy trampoline was closed.

Many of the "lanes" in arcade games were broken -- two of the hammers on a whack-a-gopher that I played had been disappeared.

It's clearly not a property that continent-wide theme park owners Six Flags Inc. want to make pretty. And a few days later came the announcement that La Ronde is for sale.

Lines? I'm all for them. They help me see.

October 7, 2005 10:58 AM

I'll hold my breath until I turn blue

Canadian romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. has bought the black BET Books, based in the United States. Still no word from Harlequin about when they're gonna start publishing lesbian mush. We deserve junk reads, too.

October 6, 2005 4:06 PM

Getting Condi Rice a date

"Boondocks" daily cartoonist Aaron McGruder created a whole week of strips a while ago in which it was suggested that bigshot American politician Condoleezza Rice was a big ole lesbo. The gossip's baaaaack. And this time, it's not nasty. At least, not originally.

Found in my in-box: "An interview with Condoleezza Rice turned bizarre last week when Fox News correspondent James Rosen appeared to try to fix her up with 'Fox & Friends' anchor Lauren Green.

"The former Miss Minnesota is 'single' and 'beautiful,' Rosen said, encouraging the secretary of state to get in touch. The Sept. 27 interview from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, started out seriously enough, with Rice expounding on Haitian elections and security, and on Iran as well. But at the end, Rosen popped a wheelie, and the discussion, posted on [the oh-so-queer] Radaronline.com, ended thusly:

ROSEN: All right. I close with a gift for you. You met this person once, I believe, but you really, I think, ought to know each other because this woman is, I think you'll have an interest in knowing her. She is one of our Fox News anchors in New York. Her name is Lauren Green. She is brilliant, she's beautiful, she's African-American, she's single and she's a concert pianist in her spare time.
RICE: My goodness.
ROSEN: And she asked me to give you her CD, and I promised her that I would.
RICE: That's perfect.
ROSEN: And here's her doing a number of different classical pieces.
RICE: Well, that's special.
ROSEN: So there you have it.
RICE: Thank her very much, and I look forward to seeing her sometime.
ROSEN: All right. She's going to want to hear from you.
RICE: And maybe even play dual piano sometime.

"Just so you know, Rice has been accompanied to state dinners by NFL chief of football operations Gene Washington, who maintains the two are 'just friends.'

"When asked if Green is a lesbian, a Fox News spokeswoman said, 'I don't know.'"

October 6, 2005 11:40 AM

Poof! You're a label

During the Second World War, some Allied propaganda ministries demonized German soldiers. This, academics claim, left their own soldiers with a solid idea of the hell of battle. Other countries portrayed the enemy as buffoons, and their soldiers were prepared for impotent pranksters, rather than wet foxholes and death by sharp-shooter.

Outside of British Columbia, at least, 1986 to '91 Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm was portrayed as a clown. He was the owner of a fairy tale theme park who wore wooden clogs and had the mind of a seven-year-old to go with the accessories.

But he was, of course, dangerous. "The provincial premiers tried Mulroney's patience," writes Peter C. Newman in his new book of old interviews, "The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister." It's in a footnote: "Outside their private conclaves, premiers strut about like regional power brokers who know the secrets of the deep. In fact, some would be well out of their depth as captains of tiddlywinks teams. My favorite example was Bill Vander Zalm, the screwball premier of British Columbia. During a warm-up session at one federal-provincial conference, he turned to [Tory bigshot] Don Mazankowski and declared, 'Maz, what are [cabinet ministers] Pat Carney and Jake Epp doing with all this AIDS stuff? I was perfectly willing to let all those gay people die.'"

A couple of Mulroney's cronies spit out crap in the tome. Sam Wakim makes a "cocksucker" comment, and Newfoundland power broker John Crosbie calls Mulroney a "poor bugger." And that's it. There's no outright homophobia from the mouth of Mulroney. (Post-whatever language nuts will say that calling someone an "asshole" is anti-gay hatred, but when I say ass I mean poo, not bum fucking. I'll extend the same courtesy to others. You're laughin', but they're out there....)

There's been much gossip about Mulroney's gay relatives -- a brother, and possibly one of his sons. There's no insight in Newman's book.

Merely this queer moment: "One of the PM's toughest admonitions was his insistence that the caucus sanction the right of homosexuals to serve in Canada's armed forces. 'All right,' he told his members, 'Statistics tell us that about 15 percent of the population is homosexual, and since we in the Conservative Party are representative of the population, there are at least 30 gays in this room.'" (No hint of who they might be. And 15 is a tad high, but then Mulroney loved the blarney...)

"'Am I wrong? Is there a flaw in my logic? Are we going to deprive these people of their rights?' The vote carried handily."

As with all changes in policy that relate to homos, it wasn't quite that simple. The issue revolved on Michelle Douglas, a soldier suing the country for firing her because of her lesbianism.

Twenty years ago, I'm not sure I would have wanted Douglas in the house. She joined the armed forces in 1986 and became a military police officer; she was eventually posted to the Special Investigations Unit. It was charged (among other stupidities) with weeding out homos.

Two years later, Douglas came under investigation herself, and initially denied the charge. "Following an internal probe, she admitted she was gay but refused to identify other homosexuals in the military," she said here. I suppose it would be uncharitable to wonder too much about such things.

"She was transferred to a less sensitive job and in 1989 Douglas reluctantly accepted her release." The alternative was the career equivalent of twiddling her thumbs for the rest of her life. To her immense credit, Douglas sued the government of Canada for discrimination.

While Brian Mulroney was prime minister (1984 to '93), Douglas was part of a unit that targeted homos in the army, was denounced herself as a homo, accepted a "suggested" retirement, and had to collect up immense wads of cash and go to court to demand equal rights. But politics is like that; no one pays attention to the crap until someone shoves it into the faces of politicians, through the courts and the media. And even then, you're lucky if you get help. To Mulroney's credit, he did order the armed forces to admit to discrimination, settle with Michelle Douglas (the announcement came minutes before the 1992 court case was scheduled to start), and change the policy. Impressive, really, given the givens. And from a Conservative, no less.

Douglas, last I checked, was working for the feds. In a guv'mint newsletter, she noted: "It is funny to me that although I was drummed out of the military for being gay, I really resisted the label for a very long time. It was easy for me to say that I was in love with a woman, but I certainly had no identity intrinsic to who I was about being a lesbian. I resisted the label because it wasn't comfortable for me, I didn't understand its implications, I didn't understand its politics. But in the end it was far more simple for me. I was in love with a woman and that was contrary to the policy. It seemed so odd for me to be fired for being gay when I really didn't have that personal identity."

October 6, 2005 9:30 AM

Billions of blistering barnacles

Former Canuck prime minister Brian Mulroney was heralded as a potty mouth in the various reviews of Peter Newman's new tome, "The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister."

I counted the cussin'.

Let's see, 414 pages (excluding appendices and such), at, say, 8 words per line, 35 lines per page. Here's the blue tally, out of 115,920 words. (Only direct quotes, no attributed profanity, and I've ignored curses used when Mully appears to be repeating someone else's blasphemes.)

* Most popular Mulroney swear word: Goddamn, clocking in at an even 50
* Bitch: 14 (includes -y, son of a -, -ing, -ed)
* Fuck (includes all variants): 10
* Shit (includes bull-, horse-, -iest, -er, and crock of -): 9

THE LORD'S NAME IN VAIN

* Christ: 12
* Jesus: 3, plus one bejesus
* Jesus Christ: 1
* God: 2
* Name of God: 3

ASSORTED OTHER WORDS MOM WOULD DISLIKE
Screw: 4 (includes variants - you, - off, and -ed)
Gangbang: 1
Damn: 3
Hell: 3
Piss: 3
Bloody: 4
Bastard: 4
Asshole: 4, plus one "(doesn't know) - from elbow," plus 2 "pain in the -."

I'm afraid I forgot to count up the "craps." Probably about half a dozen. Plus a couple of whores, a horny, a godawful, a wad and two dicks.

These numbers are absolutely accurate up to page 238. After that, I got into the sauce.
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