A few odds and ends that have been running around my head, so here goes. And who will I piss off this time?
Firstly - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as Wilde once said, so perhaps I should have been flattered when my fellow blogger Craig Young pointed out that both my and his blogs were being used under false names and with minimal changes on an overseas gay community site - I won't name it.
I have always been really happy for people to use my blogs, link to them, whatever, so long as I am given full credit, and that continues to be my position. I see them as public.
Next - I pushed a few buttons with my last blog on gay racism. I stand by all I wrote, but let me be clear - I'm not saying we can't have preferences about the type of men we are attracted to - of course we do. I'm just making the point that by saying "No Indians" or "No Blacks" you are using racist language, you are acting in a racist manner even if you aren't aware of it - and I have zero tolerance for racism - so let me raise your consciousness. Racism is evil, stupid and factually makes no sense - there is only one race, the human race, and we all belong to it. Inside the human race are thousands of different ethnicities with all sorts of characteristics - but biologically there's only one race.
The point I was trying to make is you can describe what you find physically attractive in a guy without using nasty, belittling and exclusionary language. Given all the attention we've been giving to the effects of anti-gay bullying and the power of language used against us lately I am surprised this seems problematic for some gay men.
This next one is tricky: Gay Conservatives, and my feeling of slight contempt for them.
This was kicked off by some things I've heard some guys saying lately, then looking at the self-hatred expressed by "homophobic homo" Mike Puru. And others. I know so many men who spent so much of their lives so deep in the closet they could have been having adventures in Narnia, and when they finally find the courage to come out, they can't shake off their old ways. But of course, they would never have had the freedom to come out without those of us who kicked up a stink, who rocked the boat and made some noise.
They never had the balls to actually come out and fight for our rights, to stand up and be counted. When they finally do make it out, and often leave the wife and kids they've been hiding behind, they take advantage of the social changes activists help make for them, but they also cringe, and ask to stop being so noisy, to be "normal", as, like Puru, they don't want to be seen as gay.
Well fuck that. Dude, you love men and you like cock, you're a poof - get over it.
The tricky part of this comes because as activists we wanted to make the world better for all of us, including those guys trapped in the closet. And we did, with no thanks to them. So when they finally do come out and ask us to be "normal", yeah, I feel some anger, some resentment, and some contempt.
We can all make excuses not to come out: "Mummy would be upset", "I might lose my job" ,"My wife guesses but I love her" - they're all excuses, and really what you're saying is you're scared to admit you're gay, and, very often, you actually don't want to be gay, you think there's something wrong with it, that it makes you less of a man, that other lawyers and accountants in Remuera won't take you as seriously, that maybe the League Club won't be as welcoming. And maybe that's all true - but do you want to go on living a lie with people who think that way? Really?
And then they end up furtively doing the bogs. I understand that, but it's an excuse, not a reason.
If Mummy will be upset, then sit her down and explain to her why she doesn't need to be. In NZ today you can't lose your job for being gay - that's one of the things we fought for. And isn't it just a bit sad that you say you love your wife or girlfriend but are running around doing the bogs behind her back?
And to be clear, I'm not saying everyone has to come out at the age of 16 - it's a personal decision, sometimes it is impossible, I acknowledge that, sometimes youth is at very real risk of violence from family members, or being thrown out, but that is less of an issue when you're a 40-something manager from Grey Lynn - it was gay activists with all our noise and anger who made the world a bit easier for you, so now when I see your desire to hang out with the same people who used to put the boot into us, like the crowds of men fawning over John Key at the Big Gay Out, and hear your desire for us to be "nice" and "normal" - I have to hold my nose a little. Remember Key's words at the BGO last year? Something like "At least we haven't taken anything away from you" - and the gay Nats seemed thrilled by this condescension from him.
I know it's a paradox - and one I'm still working through. We wanted to make the world a better place, and we've achieved an awful lot of our goals. We've created conditions that help 50 year-old National Party members feel free to come out and that's good; freedom to be who you are is a good thing - but they forget just how we got to this place. And it wasn't with their help. So can you STFU with the judgements about the ones who did the work?
This book "Lovers" came out in 1979, and I bought it then, from the old "OUT!" Bookshop that used to be in High Street.
It took me ages to figure out it was a gay bookshop. They used to have a sandwich board on the footpath, with that month's cover model, usually some rugged guy, shirt off, little shorts on, leaning against a mighty pine, or reclining on a mountain top, and if I recall the magazine had the tag "OUT! The Alternative Lifestyle" - for ages I thought it was a magazine about tramping that just happened to have really sexy half-naked men on the cover. Then I twigged...
But I digress.
I was 18 in 1979, and trying to figure out stuff as a young gay man. For me this book was the first positive representation of gay male love I'd seen. It was the real story of two gay men, using photos to tell the story of their 3 year relationship after they'd split up. It showed me that it really is possible for two men to love each other, not just have sex. I think I read it in one sitting, I was so desperate for information, for ideas, for patterns, for way to explain myself as a gay man and ways to be. It gave me a strong, positive image of gay guys loving and living, and trust me, this was not a common message in that era. 1979 was a different world.
So it was with real joy I found it in a second-hand bookshop in Wellington a few years back. It is still worth reading, it brings up issues of love, jealousy, acceptance, family - all that core stuff we still have to deal with.
Of course, it was written pre-HIV, so there is a real sense of sadness, of poignancy, as I imagine they must have both been lost to the plague, but I can't be sure. The author, Michael Denneny, is still alive and a force today in NY publishing, having been involved in some of the big gay publishing projects, helping develop our culture - that's pretty cool.
As so often, it all comes back to love. And this book helped me understand aspects of it, helped me feel good about my need to love and be loved by other men. Warm fuzzies all round.
And it's the Big Gay Out again this Sunday - always a great day - if you're in Auckland get out and enjoy it.
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