Saturday, October 31, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

National Equality March 2009

Scenes from the National Equality March held in Washington DC on Coming Out Day, October 11, 2009. End Don't Ask Don't Tell. Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Now is the time. President Obama and the Congress have this opportunity to be on the right side of history. Let's help make sure that they take it.

I was proud to be representing my home state of Vermont at the March. Vermont shows that equality is possible. If my little state can achieve it, so can the federal government.

Marriage equality is now threatened in Maine. The Maine legislature passed a marriage equality bill this past spring. But that equality could be stripped away via the discriminatory Question 1. As with Proposition 8 in California, opponents to equality are using lies, hate, and fear-mongering to convince voters to take away the civil rights of others. Visit Protect Maine Equality to see how you can help.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthdays

Happy Belated Birthday to the poetic master of song, Leonard Cohen. (He turned 75 yesterday.) And Happy Birthday to Johnette Napolitano--the underrated lead singer of the underrated band, Concrete Blonde--covering Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Patterning Portugal

Now that summer is coming to a close, I'm reviewing the summer that was, recalling it--though so much of this summer in the northeast didn't feel much like summer at all--before letting go. One of the pleasures of my summer was traveling to Portugal for the first time, and one of the many things that will stay with me from that trip is the tile patterns, particularly in Lisbon. They're rough around the edges, imperfect, exquisite, happy, unique, falling apart but holding their beauty, tinged with lost time and nostalgia, taken for granted until they're gone . . . much like the patterning of summer days. Or maybe I'm simply reading summer into them because another one is passing, bittersweetly, like travels you long to return to after they've ended.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why I Love Cows

Last Sunday's New York Times featured an article about how the entire town of New Lebanon, NY was transformed into the set for Ang Lee's Woodstock-themed film, "Taking Woodstock." The townspeople raved how meticulous and considerate Lee's crew was throughout and after the filming. The only folks who were less than impressed were the cows, who--thoroughly un-awed by the celebrities in their midst--posed only reluctantly for the filmmaker:

Mr. Lee’s famed perfectionism was occasionally on display. Sandy Dawson, Mr. Dawson’s daughter, was drafted as a cow wrangler, and Mr. Lee wanted her cows to pose just so.

“Cows are cows,” Ms. Dawson explained. “In the morning they were very happy. Then after lunch it was hot, and cows like to lay down after lunch. We had to physically push them to stand there. They wanted them by this post or that post. And Morgan, he’s a big steer; after a while he was rolling his eyes, like: ‘I’m not doing this anymore. I don’t want to be a movie star, I’m done.’ ”

Cows don't like posing in hot weather. They like a nap after lunch. They don't care about their 15 minutes of fame. To which I say, You go (or don't go if you don't want to), girls (and steers)!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If I had to pick one video that purely and succinctly sums up the way I most often view life, this may be it.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Nazaré is a seaside town on the coast of Portugal. The town used to be known more as a fishing village than a beach resort, so now it's a combination of the two, with perhaps the beaches winning out. Fresh seafood is displayed in all the restaurant windows, and packs of fisherman's wives can still be seen roaming the town in traditional dress and selling their wares while their husbands are out to sea. There's a touch of tacky honky tonk along the main drag, but the narrow residential streets haven't been much touched by tourism aside from the abundance of restaurants--many quite empty when we visited in late spring. Like many of my favorite photographic destinations, it wasn't the notable architecture that attracted me, but rather the colorful everyday details of people's lives. I tend to take dark photographs, so Nazaré was a welcome change of pace since it forced me towards a lighter, brighter palette. I loved these lived-in yet secretive (most residents were out of view) streets and would have been happy to spend days (alas, I had just one) photographing them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hating Dustin Lance Black or Can Humans Be Role Models?

Small confession: I hate Dustin Lance Black a little bit, and this was before the unprotected sex pics spread like kudzu over the Internet, except on Towleroad, where there's an ongoing brouhaha because Andy Towle has--for unspecified reasons--chosen not to post DLB's sex scandal (he posted Sanjaya's coming out as straight and David Archuleta's father's sex scandal instead) but to post DLB speaking with Anderson Cooper about Obama and the gays . . . now he's, allegedly, censoring bitchy criticisms . . . oh, the outrage when bloggers do as they please!

I don't hate DLB in the same way I hate Pat Robertson or Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter. I hate them because they're evil assholes. No, I hate DLB--a little--in kind of the same way I hate Angelina Jolie or Justin Timberlake or George Clooney. In other words, in a jealous, petty, insecure, they're-celebrated-I'm-not kind of way. I hate him--a little, only a little--because he's younger than I am, cuter--with that whole Mormony boyish thing going on, has a silly hairdo I could no longer copy even if I wanted to, has an Oscar, and gets to be on TV, never mind that I'd need to swallow a whole bottle of Ativan to get myself in front of TV cameras and speak coherently (if one can speak coherently after a whole bottle of Ativan) with Anderson (uh-oh, do I have any of those pesky gay sex tapes floating around?) Cooper. Yet, a part of me thinks: hell, I'm gay, I can write and think (when not under the influence of major pharmaceuticals), I would have been happy to research Harvey Milk's life and put together a screenplay, how hard can that be? (To which some might reply: if it's so easy, how come you're not doing it?) So, I must admit that even back when DLB was untainted by the glory and indignities of having his very own sex tape out there in the big world wide web, my response to him, say, when he was delivering his earnest, heartfelt Oscar acceptance speech was a mix of: such a sweet and wonderful gay hero, and someone needs to take that little golden boy tearily holding the golden boy down a notch. I'm not proud of this schizophrenic response, but there it is. (And I know I'm not the only one who had it.)

Then, this week, along came that notch-altering someone (the reliably scummy Perez HIlton etc.) in the form of private sex photos suddenly made public because DLB is a big enough star for someone (i.e. an ex-boyfriend apparently, clearly a very classy one) to cash in on a little notoriety. Clearly, if DLB was anonymous like, say, me, the sex pics would be of little interest to the public. (And probably he's only enough of a star for the pics to be of interest to gay men and to right-wing propagandists who'll try to profit off them in their own sleazy way.) Let's face it, they're not news. Any more than Colin Ferrell's sex tape was. Straight people have sex. Gay people have sex. They have anal sex. Too often they have unprotected sex. And sometimes they film it, cause filming it seems fun and sexy at the time.

I'm sure DLB was more than a bit mortified when the pics saw the light of day. I mean, if he wanted them to be seen, he could have held them up at the Oscar podium and gone--hey, millions of people, look at me! Hot or not? Indeed, DLB has made a public statement--he was a man about it and didn't pretend it was some other blond twink who looked just like him, which it easily could have been--regarding the "embarrassment of this incident" and has apologized for "the misleading message these images send." He goes on to emphasize the "importance of responsible sexual practices." Calls to publicist were likely involved.

When I first saw the pics (of course I clicked on them without hesitation), I found them jarring. The guy in those pics couldn't possibly be the same as the innocent looking tuxedoed guy (I'm thinking altar boy, but do Mormons have altar boys?) at the podium who was held up as an inspiration to gay youths all over the world? The podium guy who has become a spokesperson on gay rights and a role model because of his achievements, yes, but also because he does look so very adorable. As if innocent and adorable looking people aren't interested in fucking. It shouldn't have been jarring, but, even to me, a gay guy who's been around the block more than a few times (and cultivated his own innocent look back in the day, though he really was innocent in deed if not in thought), it was. In fact, instead of salivating over the pics (granted, he's not really my type), I gave them a thorough but quick once over, and clicked them away. Almost wished I hadn't looked. Almost. Damn, now I know that not only is he human but he may, like lots of humans, be dumb about condom use. Another bubble burst. What's next? Kris Allen and a hooker?! Now, whenever I see DLB, I'll be privy to TMI and--being the shallow being that I am--I will think more about the images (no chest hair, pity, average penis, not that I'm a size queen, really I'm not) than about what he has to say about slightly more important things, like the human dignity of gay people.

There are a number of odd things about this "incident"--the type of "incident" that is becoming more and more common in this record-everything-share-everything-with-or-preferably-without-permission world. The first oddity is the idea of writers being role models. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Norman Mailer or Tennessee Williams were ever considered role models. Well, perhaps they were, but not in the pious sense that seems obligatory for role models today. Nowadays, even Bruno--a fictional satirical character created by a straight man--is analyzed as a role model before the movie even comes out. And, if by some accident of fame and looks, someone becomes a role model, do they have to give up their crown because they've done stupid things in life? Ideally, DLB could use this "incident" as a talking point the next time he speaks to people across the country about safe sex (which he says he's done), and perhaps he will. More likely, it will be hovering over him like a comics dialogue bubble (the dialogue replaced by amateur sex scenes) every time he's earnestly discussing gay issues, until it either blows over (does everyone still think about Rob Lowe's embarrassing incident EVERY time they see him on screen?) or it doesn't (Pee Wee Herman, poor guy, all for harmlessly masturbating in a porn theater!).

Maybe there will come a day when openly gay celebrities can simply be fallible and do what they do (write screenplays, sing songs, host a talk show), without also having to be official gay spokespuppets. But that day hasn't arrived: Instead, the media loves a scandal (how disappointed they were when Adam Lambert confirmed the obvious without blinking a mascaraed eye--they even tried, unsuccessfully, to force him into labeling himself bisexual just to have some "scandalous" headline), and so do we.

Given the choice, which do we click on first:
Dustin Lance Black's body or Dustin Lance Black's mind.

Friday, May 8, 2009

'Roid Week 2009

Another 'Roid Week has come and gone too quickly on Flickr. But a record of the week remains in the amazing gallery of images from 'Roid artists from around the world. Check out the daily favorites in the Discussion for some of the best of the best. My favorite from among my own humble offerings (I only had a single pack of film to work with, so editing for quality fell by the wayside) was Kevin in the yellow dress aka Our Lady of the Forsythia. My past contributions are in this Flickr ’Roid Week set 2006-09. Time to secure some overpriced film for the Fall 'Roid Week. It seems far away now, but those months pass in a flash.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Idiot of the Week ~ Brian Brown of NOM

Brian Brown and the desperate folks from the National Organization for Marriage are at it again, spreading misinformation in attempt to turn back the clock of progress. But they're starting to get caught in their lies. MSNBC's David Shuster has little patience for Brian's blather (see first video above), particularly when he trots out the debunked examples of how allowing gay couples to marry will allegedly discriminate against religious organizations. First of all, the examples they cite time after time (they don't have many to choose from, thus are forced to repeat) are not related to marriage equality, they're related to discrimination laws, as Rob Tish points out in his dissection of false claims of religious discrimination on Waking Up Now (see second video above). Churches do and should have the right to marry or not marry whichever couples they choose. But, when religious organizations place their services in the secular public arena, it is their responsibility to either justify violating anti-discrimination laws, abide by them, or take their business out of the public square.

Brian Brown also claims that Americans "overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage." Really? Funny, then, that a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week found that forty-nine percent said it should be legal for gay people to marry, and 46 percent said it should be illegal. That support is only going to grow since young people overwhelmingly support marriage equality. The acceptability of not including gay couples in civil marriage is sliding out of the homophobes' grasp, and they cannot stand it.

But Brian and Maggie will keep on spouting their bigotry because their lives are centered on it. As is Miss California's now, the poor, bubble-headed thing. Her nonsensical answer to Perez Hilton (we can choose between same-sex and opposite marriage!) is now the shaky foundation for her post-pageant career as the 2009 reincarnation of Anita Bryant. (Carrie made a cameo appearance in a NOM ad this week. Small world!) Remember Anita? What happened to her career after she tried to hitch stardom to homophobia? It blossomed briefly and died. And that was 30 years ago. Miss CA might want to rethink her current direction. Even the Republicans are starting to jump off the anti-gay ship. Best to put that non-Biblically-approved boob job to better use, Carrie. Unless you want to pair up with the likes of Stephen--God wrote the Bible--Baldwin.

Expect more from NOM. They spout nonsense, but they are skilled media whores. The fact that gay couples marrying will not impact their lives one iota doesn't seem to dissuade them from their crusade. Imagine spending your life fighting against love and inclusion.