Tag Archives: gay

Behold My Big Hairy Internalized Homophobia!

dragqueenheelsThe words stung even though they weren’t directed at me. They stung even though they were only in a Facebook post about someone I did not know, existing only in ones and zeros. They stung even though the person who typed those ones and zeros has never been anything but really nice to me, and again, they were not directed at me.

But, you know what? Everything’s about me. The words stung.

The post’s author noted that he got blocked on Facebook a lot by “old white men suffering from much internalized homophobia.”

And then someone replied, “So no real loss.”

Ouch. Those couple of phrases divorced themselves from the larger context of the thread, which, again, had nothing to do with me. The second those words hit my optic nerve, my brain separated them out and transmogrified them into a Broadway marquee dripping with flashing, chasing incandescent bulbs. How could I not? I may not be sure of a lot of things about myself, but one thing I do know is that I AM AN OLD WHITE GUY SUFFERING FROM MUCH INTERNALIZED HOMOPHOBIA.

At first, I tried to slough it off. It’s just ones and zeros. That didn’t work; still lodged in my brain. Then I tried to laugh along with it. I typed back something to the effect of “I’m a quivering, sentient mass of internalized homophobia, and I still like ya.” Ha ha… way to internalize a comment about internalization, Chris!

Nope, still stings. Then I decided to really use my words and write about it. After all, I’ve been blocked lately and was looking for something to cattle prod the muse. I thought about latching on to the word “old,” focusing on the all-too-typical and typically boring ageism rampant among the homosexual element. Everyone two or more years older than you is “old,” and everyone two or more years younger than you is “a baby.” I could go full Gen-X Cranky on it with something along the lines of a listicle titled “Eight Ways Millennials are Ruining Internalized Homophobia.”

That still didn’t scratch that itch because the ageism really didn’t trigger me. One gets inured to it. Turn, turn, turn. Sands through the hourglass. Blah blah blah. No, it was the phrase “internalized homophobia” and the way it was just tossed off like a random salad. Continue reading Behold My Big Hairy Internalized Homophobia!

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#MyFirstGayBar Part II… I discover gay bars don’t necessarily have to suck at The Phoenix, NYC

I felt that yesterday’s post about my first time in a gay bar was a bit of a downer, so here’s some words about finally finding a gay bar where I felt accepted.

I didn’t come out until 2000 when I was a whopping 33 years old. This isn’t going to be a tale about me tiptoeing into my first bar (for proper reasons; see above). I had sold pants at Dillards in Austin for a few years during grad school, so I was constantly being dragged to places like Oil Can Harry’s in the name of workplace colleague bonding.

No, this is about finally finding a place I liked. When I came out in Austin, I tried going out to the bars there. My entire circle of gay peers consisted of the sad sacks in my coming out support group, and they hated me because I admitted that drag queens kind of frightened me. I needed friends, and I figured I could meet maybe one or two at any one of Austin’s several gay establishments.

It didn’t work out that way. I hardly talked to anyone basically because I felt so uncomfortable in the Austin bars. They were not for me. My only pleasant memory of Oil Can Harry’s was that night I closed the place and found a nice GAP shirt on the empty dance floor in my size. The Chain Drive, the leather/bear bar in town, had fluorescent lighting.

Fluorescent lighting.

phoenixOne winter break, early 2002, I decided to spend a week in NYC. I found a cheap guesthouse on Second Avenue and 13th Street in the East Village and set out, armed with my Damron guide. I didn’t have to go far –The Phoenix was only two long blocks away. First thing I noticed was the music. I had no idea that gay folk who listened to the same type of music as me existed. To this day, I think The Phoenix had the best-curated jukebox I’ve ever encountered. Continue reading #MyFirstGayBar Part II… I discover gay bars don’t necessarily have to suck at The Phoenix, NYC

#MyFirstGayBar: I’m a jerk at the Gold 9, Studio City, CA

My first visit to a gay bar was to the now-defunct Gold 9 in Studio City, CA, and it was as awash in closeted homophobia as you can get. You see, this took place a full ten years before I came out. To this day, I worry I was a jerk.

Several of us from my film program at the University of Michigan had moved out to LA late in 1990 to pursue our dreams. We all settled within a few miles of each other in the Valley or in Hollywood proper. To make LA seem a little more like home, one Saturday afternoon we set out to “interview” bars, to see which ones offered the proper mix of drink prices and amenities like pool and darts.

It was going along all very heteronormatively as the six of us walked into Gold 9 on that slow Saturday afternoon. It seemed like a nice dive, nothing out of the ordinary. Two gentlemen were shooting pool so my friend Mark wrote his name on the chalkboard. Beers were obtained. We chatted among ourselves, completely unaware of our surrounding; it wasn’t as though the Gold 9 was awash in rainbow splendor. Continue reading #MyFirstGayBar: I’m a jerk at the Gold 9, Studio City, CA

Don’t touch the Bear there

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The belly in question.

This morning I’m filling out my registration for this year’s Bear Pride, which is to be held over Memorial Day in Chicago. For the uninitiated, the term “Bear” refers to larger gay men who usually choose to sport facial hair. They proclaim that they prefer to gather in groups with other “Bears” to get a little something-something and to fight the stigma of body shaming.

There is a lot of body shaming.

I know I don’t wear flannel shirts and a beard because they look particularly fetching on me. I wear flannel shirts and a beard because flannel shirts are easy to find in XXL, and a beard is really only the socially acceptable way to cover a triple chin, extra jowly.

So I will travel to Chicago for Bear Pride to NOT be nervous about my body and instead judge people on normal things like the wittiness of their quips, or the irony of their t-shirts, or inanity of their WOOF tattoos. [FYI to the uninitiated: Some Bears like to say “Woof.” Avoid these Bears. They are stupid, and this one word will be the extent of their conversation.] Continue reading Don’t touch the Bear there

CLEAR YOUR MIND! NOW! DAMMIT! BOWL! SWING HEIGHT! SWING HEIGHT! DON’T THINK ABOUT KITTENS!

gutter-ballThe ball veered left. It went into the gutter. Less than halfway down the lane. The bowler turns around for the sad Charlie Brown shuffle back the little step at the beginning of the approach. Those strips of wood are so narrow; why don’t they use wider strips, or even narrower strips? He makes it all the way to the little fan. Can he pretend to dry his hands long enough for the ball to return without looking up and seeing the disappointed looks on his teammates’ faces?

Every pin fucking matters, and you’ve just fucking missed ten of them you fuck! This is important stuff, this Monday night league of bowling homos. People aren’t giving up their MONDAY nights to watch you throw gutterballs.

He wants to punch his head so bad, but he knows how much that scares people.

But it feels so good. In a hurtful way.

He takes a deep breath, and, in doing so, makes the mistake of looking up. One of his teammates, the one who takes care of the paperwork because no one else understands it, looks right at him. The bowler knows a lesson’s coming. He knows it’s coming from a pure place of respect, concern, and brotherly love, but he dreads it nonetheless.

The team mate, the one who does the paperwork, delivers the lesson. From back at the table he holds the back of his hands to his head and flicks his fingers out in a poof moment. It’s reminiscent of the “you just blew my mind” gesture, but the bowler knows it means “Clear your mind!” Continue reading CLEAR YOUR MIND! NOW! DAMMIT! BOWL! SWING HEIGHT! SWING HEIGHT! DON’T THINK ABOUT KITTENS!

I think now’s the time for me to take a lover.

[A piece in which the writer employs the word odalisque eight times.]

Yesterday I finally got those skin tags removed. Yeah, those skin tags. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice them. There were well over 700 of them, most the size of a Kia Soul, stretching from my left eyelid down my face and neck and across my chest. People would point in that way so I couldn’t see them. And I think everyone knows the haunting taunts the neighbor children would sing: “Faggy, gaggy floppy skin taggy. The City’s gonna put your face in a garbage baggy!”

But today I am a butterfly emerging from his chrysalis. They are gone. Go ahead, run your fingers over the upper half of my body –all bumps you find will be the necessary ones.

Hello? No one’s running their fingers over the upper half of my body, much less the lower half.

To remedy this situation, I have decided to take a lover. I refuse to use any of your more base carnal terms. “Take a lover” sounds like something out of the society pages of old: “Marquis Christopher Ronald Bartholomew Fay of the Columbus Fays spent the season at Biarritz, where he was rumored to have taken several lovers hailing from prominent families. This periodical salutes his discretion, tenderness and virility”

The phrase “take a lover” also conjures visions of me reclining like an odalisque on an overstuffed 19th century chaise longue, resplendent in velvets and feathers. I really think this would be a good look for me. I look great in a La-Z-Boy, and male odalisque is not too much of a stretch after that.

Apologies to Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1814.
Apologies to Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1814.

I have other things going for me in the taking a lover department, too, beyond the lack of skin tags. My collection of abstruse t-shirts is at its apogee; I’ve lost like fifteen pounds; I’ve finally figured out a way to apply Just For Men that looks completely natural; I drive a Volvo station wagon that’s old enough to be interesting; and I’m relatively new meat here in Columbus.

BUT…

There is much that conspires against me taking a proper lover at the present time. Remember, the inability to take a lover never has anything to do with the odalisque on the chaise longue, but everything to do with the outside world. Continue reading I think now’s the time for me to take a lover.

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

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.

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

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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)…