Category Archives: Gay Stuff

Pledge Dance, 1986: Trying to take a nice Greek girl to “Mexico” for the evening…

Joining is important, especially when it comes to alliterative Border Bashes.

The other week I scribbled about how I felt a health care provider with Bob Jones University memorabilia all over his office wall might not provide me with the best care if he found out that I had the gay. Basically, I was stereotyping this poor guy; I had no way of knowing how he would react if he knew I was the gay. Of course, I had not felt comfortable telling him that fact. So, it’s pretty much a wash.

Then yesterday morning, I read about a “Bronx is Burning” themed rave thrown in some warehouse in the South Bronx that will soon be the site for luxury condos. The party featured flaming barrels and bullet-ridden cars. It featured celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Adrien Brody, and one of those Kardashians who’s actually a Jenner. And the biggest household name of all of the lot, cocaine. Needless to say, the social medias are hopping mad. And rightly so. How can people be so tone-deaf?

Which brings me to the esteemed 1986 Beta Border Bash. I went puerco entero in stereotyping the entire nation of Mexico. If I tried to pull this shit now, Gawker would be all over the story. I am certain our Charter would be pulled, and I would still be attending sensitivity seminars to this day.

In my defense, how I sort out my karma for that evening is the price I paid at the time. For a 19yr old addled in hormones, sexual orientation, and general addledness, it seemed like the entire universe was punishing me. Continue reading Pledge Dance, 1986: Trying to take a nice Greek girl to “Mexico” for the evening…

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Judgey, Judgey

Who’s judging whom?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an awful encounter with a new psych doctor at North Central Mental Health –via Stonewall Columbus, the LBGT organization in Columbus. In a nutshell: One Dr. Bela Agabalyan assumed I was some sort of Klonopin addict (because Klonopin is so fun) and induced a panic attack with her slouchy demeanor and accusatory behavior.

FUN SIDE NOTE: I filed a formal complaint against her, which came back finding no fault on her part. I discovered what may have been the reason for this when I got my so-called “continuation of care” paperwork from North Central. For my diagnosis she listed Substance Abuse and Borderline Personality Disorder. For the record, I have neither. Also BPD requires a lot more diagnostics than carping at someone for 20 minutes about how he’s just in the whole mental illness game for the Klonopin.

The good news is I believe I have finally found an organization through which I can get the proper care –and Klonopin. The only downside with AccessOhio is that I have to see a case manager, Peter, each time I go in. Normally, I would think this was just typical bureaucratic hoo-ha, but Peter’s office decor really gives me pause.

His walls are covered with diplomas and memorabilia from Bob Jones University, an ultra-conservative Christian “school” in South Carolina. You hear about the joint every four years when presidential candidates you would never vote for in a billion years stop by to pander to the haters who bleat every second about how much Christ-like love they ooze. I could take this memorabilia on its own. After all, every second inch of wall in Columbus is covered with some sort of paper from THE Ohio State University. But consider what Bob Jones III, the Chancellor of the “university” has said on the record about his feelings towards the gays:

From the AP in 1980: “I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted, but it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality.  I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”

So, I’m sitting in this case manager’s office teetering on the edge of full-blown homosexual indignation. After all, mouth-poop like the above gave cover to all those bullies –especially the Young Life crowd –who felt they were “right” to throw things at my head. Worse yet, it reinforced the idea in my own head that I was somehow misshapen and wrong.

Oh, this hater’s gonna get it. I’m on the edge of my seat, just waiting for him to say even the slightest judgey syllable. Then I will stand up and declare, “I am a homosexual American! You have grievously wounded me. Good day, sir!” Then I storm out, making sure my ass looks good doing it because you know all the haters are picturing us gays naked 24/7. Why else are they so concerned? Continue reading Judgey, Judgey

Dear earthquakes… it’s over. Bye.

May 3, 1974: Actors dodging rubble during filming of motion picture
(LA Times)
Certain aspects of your personality don’t mesh with certain aspects of my personality. I’m afraid I’m choosing to die in another form of natural disaster.
It's all a matter of where you stand.
It’s all a matter of where you stand.

A couple of days ago my Facebook feed was filled with several posts about an article in the New Yorker about a massive earthquake that’s due to strike the Pacific Northwest. The author says that it won’t be the Big One; it will be THE VERY BIG ONE.

Normally, I’d jump all over phrasing like that. Not today. Not for you, earthquakes.

The author goes to great, well-written lengths to explain the mechanisms behind such a Very Big One and how it will turn everything west of Interstate 5 into the infrastructural equivalent of a rotting cantaloupe filled with dead bodies instead of seeds.

But I didn’t need an education. I was already quite aware of the phrase “Cascadian Subduction Zone.”

And “liquefaction.”

And “ghost forest.”

And “inundation zone.”

I have been fascinated with disasters since I was a child –so much so that our neighbors gave me a coffee-table book called The World’s Greatest Disasters when I nine. I read and reread the book so many times that the book’s British origins helped fuel a lifelong Anglophilia in me. After all, what kid can resist reading that the debris following the Christmas Cyclone of 1974 in Darwin, Australia was “scattered higgledypiggledy?”

When my mom dabbled in Community College when I was eleven or twelve, she would take me to the library when she studied. I was expected to amuse myself with the various AV materials available, and I found myself repeatedly watching one called San Francisco: The City That Waits to Die. In it, men in white lab coats placed a small toy house with a flag attached to it on a mass of wet sand, and then they shook the shake table. Every time I re-watched the film, the tiny house plunged downward until only the top of the flag could be seen. Our house at the time was on sandy soil and in imminent danger of liquefaction despite its location in Virginia Beach.

And to this day, if I wake up in a weird position on the bed, covered with pillows, I just lie there still, pretending what it’s like being covered in debris. Continue reading Dear earthquakes… it’s over. Bye.

A phenomenological exploration of what happens to me when I see a Bad Drag Show.

…in which I lay bare my internalized homophobia and other stuff I’m not allowed to talk about.

I didn't want to offend any actual drag queens, good or bad. So, I figured no one likes Rudy Guiliani.
I didn’t want to offend any actual drag queens, good or bad. So, I figured no one likes Rudy Guiliani.

I had the honor of seeing a Bad Drag Show the other night. Before I begin, I want to say that it was for a worthy cause and I applaud this. I also enjoyed the company of the person with whom I attended the show. Heck, I even tipped the performers. That said, I most definitely did not enjoy the show itself.

Also, I am not calling all drag “bad.” This is not that.

My knowledge of phenomenology has been entirely gleaned from an article I used to assign to my students in a class I taught called The Mechanics of American Retro. The article was entitled “The Dislocation of Time: A Phenomenology of Television Reruns.” All I really remember about it was the notion that even the most serious television drama devolves over time into “an intense comedy of obsolescence” where the viewer just mocks funny lapel widths.

But basically phenomenology is looking at how a something affects the subject, who in this case is me. Therefore, I’ll be looking at what goes through my body and mind when I see what I consider a Bad Drag Show. I will not be analyzing any specific show; instead I will be constructing a generic show for the purposes of this exercise. However, it should be noted that all Bad Drag Shows are pretty much the same.

I will be the first to admit that a drag show needs to clear a pretty high bar with me before I will consider it something more than really bad. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some amazing drag (and gender-fuck, etc.), but I feel those folks were entertainers first and foremost. For example, I am sad I will not be in Provahncetown to see the legendary Dina Martina this week.

Here goes:

  • When I enter the venue and I realize that there will be a drag show, my shoulders slump, I sigh, and I feel a tightness behind my sternum. When I am not expecting a drag show and then realize there will be a drag show from which I cannot escape for whatever socially-mandated reason, I feel trapped. I begin to do breathing exercises. I continue to focus on my breath throughout the evening.
  • When I see the tackily hung rainbow PartyCity detritus, I ask myself, “We’re in a gay bar, is anyone really gonna forget that they’re gay? Do they think I’m stupid?” I try to remember all those other things that remind me I’m gay, like the dude-lust, the coming-out struggle, and furniture with the clean modernist lines.
  • I cringe when the mistress of ceremonies grabs the microphone and shouts into it in a voice that naturally does not require amplification. The tightness behind increases due to the physics of the soundwaves upon my person.
  • Minor anger wells up behind my left eye when she welcomes the crowd by calling them “BITCHES!” I wonder where all this hostility is coming from.

Continue reading A phenomenological exploration of what happens to me when I see a Bad Drag Show.

Photo 101, Day Eighteen: Edge & Alignment

…in which our hero doesn’t bring his book to the bar and is shown some nice edges in the neighborhood.

Last night I ventured down to the All-Request 70s/80s/90s Bear Happy Hour at Exile. I requested and heard both “My Kind Of Lover” by Billy Squier and “Gemini Dream” by The Moody Blues. In the past I have brought a book to this event. But my friend Damian in NYC said not to anymore because it was kind of off-putting. He should know as he is a well-regarded DJ and, therefore, see much human interaction. So, I swallowed hard and went to the bar without a book.

Amazingly, I managed to strike up a conversation with someone local. He said he had seen me for several weeks but didn’t feel safe approaching me until I actually smiled in his direction. I mentioned that before I headed home, I was going to wander around the neighborhood to snap some pics of things with edges.

He volunteered to take me and show me some nice, edgeful stuff.

Moral: Smile, get edges.

Route traversed: route copySongs mentioned:

Billy Squier: My Kind of Lover
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETFbV3zbjjU

The Moody Blues: Gemini Dream
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3QLFFVFpp0

Pride Thought 2015: Your Brick and Mortar Pride

Photo by Stonewall Columbus
Photo by Stonewall Columbus

The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

–Justice Clarence Thomas (Yeah, I just quoted the second biggest judicial prick on the planet, and I realize that the above was surrounded by thought turds of the highest order. Please bear with me.)

STONEWALL NYC

IMG_1776
Copyright: ME

Yesterday as soon as the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges came down, my Facebook feed exploded into rainbows. Friends –the gay ones, the straight ones, and the ones whose whatever they do is none of my business –were busy expressing their approval. Rainbow filters got a work out, from profile pics to some idiot who decided the American Gladiators needed gayulating. As ton of my FB friends are gay guys who live in NYC, by far the most common setting for pictures was the street and park in front of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in the West Village.

But for all the pictures with the bar’s facade in the background, not a single one was taken on the inside.

Zero.

Earlier this week the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission declared the building that houses the Stonewall Inn an OFFICIAL LANDMARK™. Apparently, this is the first building to be designated as such for its role in the struggle for LGBT rights, even though I’m told Fraunces Tavern regularly featured men in wigs and made a killer appletini back in day. If you are reading this, and you are not aware of the significance of the Stonewall Inn, stop right now and look it up.

It is incredibly heartening that Stonewall Inn is being recognized for its importance. Civil rights never move forward in a slow, steady fashion. There are flashpoints, and these physical flashpoints need to be preserved. Tearing down the Stonewall building and putting up condos called The Lofts at Stonewall would, for me, be the equivalent of tearing down the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma and putting up Marty K’s Alabama River ZipLine Adventure in its place.

People need a physical place to rally and remember.

But don’t believe anyone who tells you that the bar called “Stonewall Inn” that has nested inside the building that held the bar involved with the Stonewall uprising has anything to do with pride. It may be a big part of PRIDE, but there is little pride inside. I do not hesitate to say that it is probably the shittiest gay bar in NYC. It’s cramped inside. Continue reading Pride Thought 2015: Your Brick and Mortar Pride

Photo 101, Day Ten: Mystery & Lighting Effects

Last night I attended my first Pride event in Columbus. Last time I lived in Columbus, I was a frightened high school kid who couldn’t even possibly imagine that someday he would be walking around being gay, gay, gay without threat of being shoved in locker.

I happened to attend the Pride Festival in Goodale Park at Magic Hour. Unfortunately I didn’t have my new Sony A5000 because I thought I’d be going to the bar afterwards. So, all of these pics are taken with my iPhone 6 (a little to a lot of tweaking afterwards on some)…

March

IMG_0308

…in which the author attempts to figure out where he fits on the spectrum, er, rainbow.

New York City

I insist that I had an awful Pride Parade that year. Sure, we were all supposed to be happy about the Supreme Court striking down DOMA. But the ruling came down in the middle of the week. That Wednesday afternoon, I had a Stoli Oranj and soda at Stonewall on Christopher Street and then a burger and another Stoli at Julius, a gay bar even older than Stonewall. Got my gay history on. But by the time the Parade rolled around on Sunday, it seemed all the DOMA decision meant was that “couples” –the kind that always have to remind you that they’re a “couple” –could make out with a leaning impunity, slurring things like “Our love is legal.” Because before Wednesday, the feelings you felt for this person were subject to a $50 fine and a summons. I, in turn, made plans to die alone in a bizarre DVR mishap.

Not everything was bad. I did get to boo at that mayoral candidate I disliked as she rode by looking like Cleopatra on her way to open a PathMark in Luxor. And I got to boo at that other mayoral candidate for his inability to take a decent junk shot. But after a while, it just felt like I was being pandered to by politicians and corporate outreach programs.

And the centerpiece of the Chipotle float was a skinny twink in a cowboy outfit riding a bucking foil-wrapped burrito. That appealed to many of my baser instincts involving jack cheese and bucking. But on every other float, the standard issue twink was provided with a whistle with which he could toot along to the Katy Perry vibrating out of rental loudspeakers.

And, it’s always nice hanging with friends at the Parade. My friends and I have a great place that’s not jammed up against a building, goes into the shade early, and is only a block from Julius where it only costs you the price of drink to use the bathroom. But one of the things about hanging with people is punctuality. People all need to be at the same place at the same time in order to hang. Texting does not count. Two friends, a “couple” crashing their way quickly from casual acquaintances towards being blocked on Facebook were over two hours late because of “train problems.” We all have “train problems,” but when I have “train problems,” I don’t answer a “getting close?” text with “stoped 2 get a beer.” No, you better show up winded and apologizing profusely for ruining the gay.

When a drunk Lesbian-of-a-Certain-Age tried to choke me with my Pride beads, I decided it was time to go.

Budapest

But at least I got to actually watch the parade, which is a far cry from what was afforded me when I showed up in Budapest in September 2009 on their equivalent of Pride. In NYC, we like say our parade is a “march,” with all the attendant meaning that goes with that word, but twink riding burrito. In Budapest, it’s so much a “march” that they don’t call it a “march” –it’s the 14th Gay Dignity Procession! Two years earlier, in 2007, far-right unfortunates attacked the 12th Gay Dignity Procession. Police then tried to cancel the 13th Gay Dignity Parade in 2008, citing “traffic.” The gays sued. They marched. Far-right unfortunates attacked the 13th Gay Dignity Procession. So for the 14th Gay Dignity Procession, the police came up with the perfect plan….

Berlin

Now you need to understand at this point that I prefer to travel alone. Continue reading March

Grindrin’ and Growlrin’ Me Down

[In which I apparently date incorrectly]

My delete screen from Growlr.
My delete screen from Growlr.

I went and checked out a different bar in Columbus Thursday night. I didn’t bring my book into the bar. This was new territory, and I didn’t know if it would have a good place to flash the glittery raccoon. [No, this is not a euphemism. Click on a link once in a while, people.] Needless to say, I was bored almost immediately. So, out came the phone. Thank god for Instagram and the endless twiddle-worthiness of its filters, or I would’ve been tempted to re-up with any one of the several “location-based dating apps” that used to litter my phone. I cannot go back to having things on my phone that make me feel bad about myself. That’s what the rear-facing camera is for.

A few weeks prior to my move from Brooklyn to Columbus, I deleted my profiles in those various apps and sites that supposedly would help me find a geographically convenient guy with whom to do anatomically inconvenient things. They go by names like Scruff, Manhunt, Recon, Grindr, Growlr, Lepr, Regrettr, Alienatr, etc. It’s too easy to just mindlessly scroll thru the endless parade of thumbnail photos of body parts, judging people based on pictures smaller than one-inch square. And if I’m judging, I know I’m being judged right back.

In all of these, I am very specific that I am not interested in a random hook-up. I need some connection before the depravity begins. I also add something along the lines of: “There is no greater aphrodisiac than a complete sentence.”

So, I would obsessively flip between the apps, allowing that weird repetitive behavior aspect that’s somehow part of my bipolar to take over. Of course I never actually initiate contact with people because then they might actually respond. So I wait. The replies of course are slow to come in because, despite my childlike demeanor and that cement truck full of Just For Men I regularly back up onto my face, I refuse to lie about my age.

But eventually replies trickle in. Continue reading Grindrin’ and Growlrin’ Me Down

Reading Books in Bars with Bears

bearmontage2 copy

It’s going to take me a few words and sentences of ever-so-pertinent background until I get to the part where I actually read a book in a bar. You’ll probably also notice, if you notice these types of things, that this is the first post since mid-February. There’s been a massive amount of writer’s block –even grocery lists were an exercise in futility. I punched myself in the head a lot. Literally. It’s a lousy coping mechanism, but at least it doesn’t work.

I always forget what reading and feeling on the same wavelength of a book can do to get one writing again. A good and museful friend who works at a major publishing house located in an architecturally significant triangular building sent me an advanced reading copy of an upcoming book from an author whom I’m admire but am not allowed mention because it’s not my place to promote this book. Also, my good and museful fears that the great and powerful editor of this book will hurl him from the roof of this architecturally significant triangular building if I reveal the name of the author.

This book has made me [adverbially] happy and has given me a “Hey let’s turn the barn into a stage and put on a SHOW!” attitude towards writing. Plus the heady scent of the cheap Scholastic Books paper on which they print advanced reading copies has fired up my wordy part of my brain stem.

And the author of the above-not-mentioned book does this kind of preamble stuff, and it works for them. So, consider the previous couple of paragraphs homage.

At the beginning of April I moved back to my hometown of Columbus to live with my sister for a while. The bipolar had been acting up for quite a while my last months in Brooklyn. Nothing made sense; everything made noise. There seemed no escape. Suicides were being planned. In the lead was a very Romantic one to be held in Green-Wood Cemetery that involved finding a tombstone with the right combo of a funny 19th century name like Hortense and an angel decaying in a pleasing manner.

However, I decided that offing myself was not really fair to the cat. Yeah, yeah, and loved ones, too. But, really the cat. Like her owner, she’s kind of obese, middle-aged, and makes a lousy first impression. A death sentence for me would’ve been a death sentence for her. Yet, the status quo could not remain. When your cat is your most definite connection to this mortal coil, maybe it’s time for a change.

My first thought when I moved to Ohio was that I was going to live some sort of monastic lifestyle. I dwelled on the disconnect: How I missed my friends in NYC; how people on a certain location-based “dating” app think phonetically typing out animalistic grunting noises counts as a complete sentence; how pedestrians are invisible to most drivers in Columbus; and how crappy that online writing workshop I signed up for through [insert name of oh-so-creatively named nonfiction magazine here] turned out to be. But when I found myself four thousand words into an essay I had titled “The Ouroboros of Disconnect,” I figured it was time for a change. Stuff was just happening TO me –sometimes even AT me. That’s not the formula for interesting wordsmithing. Besides, I couldn’t figure out a way to end the piece.

Get it? Yeah, it was four thousand words of ouroboros metaphors. And puns. Ouroboring!

Stop it!

So, I made a decision to seek out connection. During all this disconnect, I have come to the conclusion that I am not, in fact, an introvert. I am an extrovert with crippling social anxiety. I draw energy from people, yet I don’t understand how one is expected to deal with them. Continue reading Reading Books in Bars with Bears