Category Archives: GLBT issues

Los Angeles Gay Pride #ResistMarch 2017

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I need a new phone!

I was going to bring my camera to this event but I forgot it, what with the sign and all. So, my apologies, the phone ran out of juice about halfway through. I couldn’t even call a Lyft to go back to the subway once it was over. Yes, I know, #Firstworldproblems. I have failed today.

I did love that the Pride Celebration in LA returned to its protest roots. Energizing and energetic, it was great to see the 100,000 people come out to march in the streets in resistance to the “not normal in any way” times we find ourselves in, to reaffirm our equal rights as gay, lesbian, trans, bi, queer, unsure, whatever. We’ve fought very hard for a very long time and honey, we’re not giving an inch. Not. one. inch.

Enjoy the photos and the one video I did manage to take.

And a video snippet:

On FADA, Notes on the License to Discriminate

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It’s possible that the right wing, now that they control all three layers of the federal government, will try and pass a version of the FADA (The First Amendment Defense Act) so I thought I’d write a bit about it, why it’s unnecessary and basically just a convenient license for using the federal government to discriminate against people you don’t like.

 

The Right Wing doesn’t like a lot of people, though the FADA is usually understood as a backlash targeting LGBT people as a result of marriage equality and other social gains by LGBT in recent years.

Here’s the text of the Amendment:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. [H.R. 2802, introduced 6/17/15]

The Right Wing asserts that this amendment is needed to protect the religious views of people who feel this way, i.e., their first amendment rights. In reality, it would enshrine the right to discriminate against LGBT persons, unmarried single mothers, or any couple of any sexual combination residing together unmarried. Among the things it would allow are these examples:

  • allow federal contractors or grantees, including those that provide important social services like homeless shelters or drug treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people or anyone who has an intimate relationship outside of a marriage
  • let commercial landlords violate longstanding fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother based on the religious belief that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage
  • permit a university to continue to receive federal financial assistance even when it fires an unmarried teacher simply for becoming pregnant
  • permit government employees to discriminate against married same-sex couples and their families – federal employees could refuse to process tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks for all married same-sex couples
  • allow businesses to discriminate by refusing to let gay or lesbian employees care for their sick spouse, in violation of family medical leave laws [ACLU, 7/20/15]

So basically, such a law would throw out existing protections LGBT have through the government and allow discrimination based on someone’s beliefs.

I would be awestruck to see where it is in the defining documents of these religions (i.e., The Bible) where it says that you’re supposed to not bake that gay wedding cake or not cut that social security check for that gay man. Cause it doesn’t say that anywhere. Basically, if you believe those documents, they tell you that YOU – the person having that belief – are not supposed to live your life that way. In other words, if you believe those scriptures, YOU should not live a gay life. It doesn’t say anything about the rest of us, which, incidentally, is not even relevant because the United States is not guided or beholden to ancient religious texts.

Also, the Right Wing seems to think that it needs this law to protect its anti-LGBT churches and schools from the big bad IRS. But that argument is easily debunked, e.g. churches of all kinds (Catholics, are you listening?) have been discriminating against women for eons without getting their tax exempt status revoked. And of course, you can always still believe what you want and teach whatever doctrine you have in your religious school. We don’t have the thought police, at least not yet (Minority Report?)

So if these two items are eliminated, what is left? Oh, I guess maybe you can’t just use  your religion as a hammer to punish people you don’t like. Sorry.

It’s like this (paraphrased from a letter to the editor on media matters.com, from “nerzog”):

Religious beliefs are protected. Religiously inspired actions are not. So: They’re still allowed to be bigots, they can think what they want. They can still verbally express their bigotry, if they’re willing to endure the social consequences. What they can’t do is: break anti-discrimination laws.

Most of the data in this post comes from media matters.

 

“Age Appropriate” Daddyhunt Blogs

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I’ve written a number of blog entries on older/younger relationships or on issues affecting aging in gay men. I started that process a few years ago when I did some blog posts on daddyhunt.com’s website, for their blog “Age Appropriate.”

So, if you’re interested, here’s the link back to the archive for those posts.

 

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WeHo 30th Anniversary Celebration and Events – June 27

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Hey kids,

I’m part of this Saturday June 27 event in a small way:

http://www.weho.org/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/8252/15

Nothing says WeHo like spandex and an old California friar.

Nothing says WeHo like spandex and an old California friar.

I have a WeHo memory snippet that’s going to be hanging on the wall at this event. It’s from my birthday in 1981. I’ll take pictures and follow up by posting them.

Here’s the Facebook event from Hank Henderson:

David LeBarron and I would like to thank all of you for sending us your stories about West Hollywood.  Together, your writings create a wonderfully diverse collection of passionate, funny, wistful, elegiac, sly, and fearless entries into the ever growing canon of literary Queer history.  Congratulations to all of you.
Your stories have been printed poster-sized and framed in custom frames created by artist Bill Cole.  Together they will hang as an installation in the courtyard of Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park through the entire day of ‘West Hollywood: This Is Your Life!’ June 27th.
The courtyard opens at 3:30pm.  The first performance at Fiesta Hall will be a homo-centric sponsored reading at 4pm (hint).  Shows continue through the afternoon & evening.  David & I hope you are able to come to see the installation and stay for part or all of the performances.  It is a free event.
The link to the event is here:
Please feel free to post comments on the event page & link to it in Facebook posts.

Stuart Timmons’ City of West Hollywood LGBTQ History Mobile Tour

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Some snaps from the tour with some of the fabulous mobile tour guides! Hugely fun and informative afternoon and a great way to kick off Gay Pride Week 2015 in L.A.

What was this? Stuart Timmons and Jason Jenn put together a mobile tour of various LGBTQ historic sites in WeHo. This includes a free downloadable map for those who want to do the tour on their own, but I actually went to the event on Saturday (June 6, 2015) and had these (and other) tour guides to tell me the stories and guide me on my way.

Stuart Timmons is the acclaimed historian and author of “The Trouble with Harry Hay” and co-author of “Gay L.A.” – a hugely informative work on the LGBTQ history of our town, if I do say so myself (I did read it, the whole thing).

This tour was/is presented as part of the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which this year coincides with the 30th Anniversary of Cityhood for West Hollywood. These kinds of things are tremendous and in short supply–and necessary, because the young ones coming up don’t know our history and how will they ever find out unless we tell them? So congratulations to Stuart and Jason for getting this up and running, and for the City of West Hollywood for realizing its importance.

Clicking Through Torsos: Is this the Death of Romance?

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So, a rant on this — or something along those lines. Who among you has not gotten frustrated and bored with the endless pages of gay dating/hookup apps and their lovely torso photographs? All of which look remarkably alike — they’re gay torsos, after all, so they look worked out and toned, even perhaps manscaped. Often, a buff or not-so-buff torso will even initiate a conversation or reply to a question you’ve asked it.

It’s enough to make a reasonably honest person want to pitch his smartphone off the nearest bridge.

The devolution of male/male contact from highly intricate interpersonal pairings in real time, to the impersonal meat market apps we have today, has had its own evolution – from the BBS-es I remember from the late 1980s to America Online chat rooms to IRC in the 90s and now, in the last several years, to smartphone apps such as Scruff and Grindr. Finally, after all of that, is this what we’ve become to each other, a clickable collection of torsos, penises and butts? Where are the faces? Where is the romance? You’re telling me this is progress?

I can’t believe that.

Here’s Ten Quick Suggestions on rekindling a sense of romance in our smart phone app crazy-crazy world:

  1. Dress up. Sure, probably you’re reading this at home in front of your laptop wearing your underwear and a dirty t-shirt. Maybe you go about your day – not a work day, but a free day, a day off – and dress up to look your best. Would that make you feel romantic? Works with me, and people notice. (Or maybe try a green carnation in your buttonhole, like they used to do to recognize team members.)
  2. Go out. Not as in coming out, though you should already be — but get out of the house and meet live humans. So many of “our” places have gone away because people don’t go out anymore – and why bother when you can order a torso in? So:
  3. Rediscover our gay legacy. The truth is that men were meeting each other, hooking-up and falling in love for eons before the Internet and smart phones. We’d meet in our bars, at the public baths, which became bathhouses, or at bookstores, cruisy plazas and streets where you’d “just know” to go (or some kind person would tell you). So, for those places:
  4. There’s the fine art of cruising men. In public. This is different from stalking a torso on a phone screen. I think this is becoming a lost art! There are books out there, however. There’s even a video called “The Art of Cruising Men,” while mostly tongue-in-cheek, has lots of accurate and helpful tips for meeting that man of your dreams or even just the man of the hour.
  5. Learn seduction. Related to but slightly different from cruising, as this is more intentional and has perhaps a longer timeframe to work itself out. This is all about interpersonal relations, and shouldn’t we all aspire to better at those, no matter where we start from? We’ve come to rely on technologies like texting for so much of our communications we don’t remember how to have a real conversation.
  6. Resolve to be more direct. If you are with a guy and what you really want is to have sex with him, ask directly, as in, “I would like to have sex with you.” Guys will love you for it, and you’ll get some yeses. There’s really nothing quite as sexy as confidence.
  7. The first runner-up is a winner. Don’t demand perfection, cause you know you’re never going to get it. Remember that nice, pretty good looking guy who said hello to you as you were waiting on Mr. Perfect standing there across the room? Don’t wait too long — that nice non-perfect guy is the one who is going to make you happy.
  8. Don’t be predictable – try surprising some guy you have a crush on in a really great but not necessarily sexy way. Then couple that with something you learned in Seduction 101as a followup.
  9. Don’t overlook your friends and acquaintances. We have this advantage over straight people in that our gay friends and buddies could possibly be more to us that we ever thought possible.
  10. Finally, realize that we as gay men didn’t spend decades fighting for our rights, then another few decades fighting for our lives to live faceless and safe behind a checkerboard on a little screen. There is a community out there we made for ourselves. It’s up to us to keep it.

Artist Bruce LaBruce Thinks Gays Should Stop Selling Their Souls

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Bruce LaBruce

Bruce LaBruce

I really liked this VICE interview with Bruce LaBruce. Why? It’s the old school, uncompromising vision that’s so true to what he’s all about.

It’s crystal clear he understands who he is, what he’s interested in doing/exploring. Maybe because he’s not American (he’s from Canada). He’s not straight-friendly; he’s in your face. He comes out of a tradition that’s much more DIY, much less corporate than our current art-making milieu — but then again it’s not so long ago to be unrecognizable or hardly believable — say, the Bohemian “beatnik” days of the late 50s early 60s, or the hippie era about a decade later.

No, the late 80s early 90s is an era in memory, though it sometimes seems longer ago – maybe that’s because it’s still pre-Internet, and our world has so vastly changed since then. Imagine saving all your Google inquiries to a pen-and-paper notebook and spending Saturday afternoon in a library to physically look each one up. That was life not very long ago, just one small example, now multiply that by the millions and you get some idea of how technology has changed things for all of us.

But I digress. There just is something about such artists in our gay world – such as Bruce LaBruce, John Waters, Gregg Araki, Dennis Cooper (who is mentioned in the linked article), Joey Arias, and so many others who had that clarity of vision and to be able to combine that with not caring about the business of art – that they never expected to make money or be popular even. They would just continue to put out there what they did best.

These, I think, are the people to emulate and who can serve as role models in a gay culture that’s largely pressured more and more every day to assimilate.

Ten Tips on How to Seduce the Older Gay Man — and Where to Find Him

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imagesI’m kind of thrilled that my blog post “Ten Reasons Younger Gay Men Like Older Gay Men” has become so popular (the most popular by far of any blog post I’ve ever written) though I suspect a lot of those people are looking for porn and are likely disappointed once they see I have none on my site. Oh well. . .

So in that vein, those of you who are interested in having an older gentleman in your life must approach the task differently than you would if you were going after another 25-year-old. At the very least you will have more success if you follow some or all of my suggestions below.

Here they are, in no particular order, how to seduce that older gay man:

  • Persistence pays. Really. Those of us over 50 have a lot on our plates, and when we don’t, we’re catching up on other things like errands and binge-watching “Orange is the New Black.” Never, ever think of yourself as a pest — there is a lot of truth to that old saw about the squeaky wheel being the one that gets greased. Keep asking, and don’t give up. Keep. Asking. I can vouch for this one from personal experience.
  • Afternoon delight. Your over-50 man is, well, he’s over 50. There is some truth to another familiar old saying — “old and tired.” They weren’t kidding about the tired part! Especially at night. Your man probably has a lot of daytime commitments and the goddess knows that at this age any kind of beauty rest helps. That’s what I’m saying about “afternoon delight.” Most guys I know who are my age, more or less, really like having sex in the afternoon. Sorry young men, but at midnight we’ve already been asleep in our jammies for an hour or more.
  • Low noise level. Your man is not likely to enjoy a lot of things over a certain decibel level, such as dance clubs where the most fun is stuffing dollars in go-go boy jockstraps (wait, maybe that would work with earplugs) or rock concerts for anybody who got famous after, say, 1980. So he’s just not going to be there; go if you like, but don’t expect to meet him there.
  • Educate yourself on the best online venues. Grudgingly, it seems inevitable that websites and apps will replace some of the “cute meet” of days gone by. Like those days gone by for the entire history of human beings, but I digress – it worked well enough for all generations of gay men up to this one, but for some reason (could it be laziness?) people don’t want to go out in public anymore. So, there are some online destinations better for those over 50. Think Scruff, not Grindr; think Silverdaddies or Daddyhunt rather than Adam4Adam or Dudesnude. And, if you’re looking for someone over the age of, say, 60, I’d eliminate smart phone apps altogether. It’s just not gonna happen.
  • Educate yourself on the best offline venues. Again, forget the loud clubs all the young guys go to. Coffeehouses, art galleries, museums, civic/political gatherings, community college or university extension classes, specific groups that cater to an over-50 crowd (for instance, here in Los Angeles we have the LGBT Community Center, which has a lot of programming for this group; there’s also groups like the California Men’s Gathering, which consists largely of middle-aged to older gay men and those who appreciate them).
  • Be direct – I can’t emphasize this enough. Older guys who may be interested in an advance from a younger man likely won’t make the first move — why? Because there’s an enormous stigma and the possibility of ridicule looms fairly high here. People are also confused as to what constitutes romantic or sexual interest and what is just friendliness. For those of us over 50, gaydar is also significantly hampered by the younger generations all appearing the same – it used to be easy to figure out who was gay or straight; now, not so much. So if you’re a young guy and you like an older guy, let him know in very clear terms. This will really get things moving along much more quickly.
  • Anticipate his interests: appreciate that he’s been on the planet longer, so indeed may have other interests, which may include things like books, plays, opera, gardening, travel — to just mention a few — or he may have none of these interests. What is likely, though, is that his interests and yours won’t be the same, and he can learn from you, as well as you learning from him. But it’s important to have that willingness and to not expect to like the same things.
  • Cultivate a desire for long lovemaking sessions: it took me a long time to realize that activity between two men where only one of them or even neither of them climaxes is still sex. Maybe not the usual ideal we’re fed in standard porn, but it’s sex nonetheless. Don’t denigrate kissing and cuddling, either. His physical response as an older man will likely be fierce and highly practiced, however it may take a while for that fire to get going. He’s also probably not going to like an attitude of “wham bam, thank you Sam.” Luxuriate in that bliss which has taken a lifetime to mature.
  • Cultivate an expertise in a wide variety of sexual expression. Again, there is that standard porn script which all of us have seen ad nauseam — it all starts with the kiss, goes to oral and ends up anal with someone getting boinked. There’s really so much more, so read up. There’s leather, there’s water sports, there’s rubber, there’s probably a giant list of things even I haven’t heard about at my advanced age. I guess younger people are as apt as older to be interested in lots of different things, I just think of older guys having been around longer and interested in more. But heck, I could be wrong. Read or listen to Dan Savage for awhile, his advice show is illuminating for the variations in people’s sexual tastes. Also, just because he’s older, don’t assume he will be the “top” all the time. His fondest desire may be to be under you on the living room rug being drilled into next week.
  • Finally, resist the urge to know everything. There’s one of my favorite quotes, often misappropriated to Oscar Wilde, but it’s actually from J.M. Barrie, “The Admirable Crichton”: I’m not young enough to know everything. Don’t try to impress him by being an expert on every subject. I’m sure you’re smart and knowledgeable and all that, but no one likes to be reminded of it, and you’ll likely trip up at some point. Regardless, that kind of behavior is obnoxious and you don’t want him to slip away, now do you?

Stephen Fry’s engagement: So what’s wrong with age-gap relationships?

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imgresSo, this. I suppose there’s always those who will find some kind of problem with an intergenerational relationship, but as this linked article points out, it’s usually OK for the older man/younger woman; not so much if you’re an older woman with a younger man or possibly same sex partners.

Of course, in the gay community there’s plenty of precedent for younger/older: one of the most well-known gay relationships in our demimonde was between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, who were 30 years apart in age.

More recently, there’s the celebrity couple writer Dustin Lance Black and Olympian Tom Daley, where there’s about a 20 year age difference between them. It seems to be working out just fine, as are gazillions of these types of age-differential couplings who are not as famous.

I love that we’re living in a world where these couples can celebrate their relationships, and not only do they don’t mind but look forward to talking about themselves publicly. We’ve come such a long way, yet there’s still so much to do and so much hate directed at LGBT around the world.

Sometimes, it’s good just to be grateful for how far we’ve come. So, I say, best wishes for a long and happy life, Stephen and Elliott.

Living in Palm Springs: The Cons

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3207753043_c5ea4dfb41_oTold you it was coming, where there’s Pros, there are also Cons. So here’s the list, again unique to my own circumstances. I made these lists when planning to move to or stay in Palm Springs – both of which I’ve done now more than once!

So, the cons:

  • Not good for entertainment industry contacts, and no networking possibilities, or fewer of them.
  • Can be somewhat isolating – or is that just me? I found it very claustrophobic, especially in the summer, when I felt like I was living in a cave I dare not leave – or be fried.
  • Does not have an urban “edge” – there’s an absence of any kind of urbane cultured group. You have to make road trips to L.A. for that.
  • PS can be surprisingly redneck — depending on what neighborhood you’re in.
  • Public transport is limited, especially for commuting to L.A. and back. There is a bus system, but it mainly runs during the day and not often. There are cabs (now, I think, there’s even Uber there). Also, there’s a link to Metrolink in Riverside for train trips to the city, but that’s so time consuming and complicated it makes more sense to rent a car for the trip.
  • Suburban, or small town layout and plan. Car dependent culture. Has very few walkable neighborhoods. You could live car-lite there, but it would be a real challenge to be car-free. Yet guys at the bike shop would tell me about people who were.
  • Palm Springs can be boring – there’s limited options. That also brings up fewer distractions.
  • My perception (that for gay men) it is all about being retired, being in a couple or a retired couple – leaving fewer possibilities for someone not in that demographic. However, I see that changing — there’s a lot of gay men in their 50s and older who are single and involved with work or with the community.
  • Finally, there’s the summer – Palm Springs is in the desert, and it really does have several months (at least four – June, July, August, September) where it’s uncomfortable EVERY DAY to be outside because it’s too hot. But you can get used to it.
  • Added 10/30/15: Bugs. I was just reminded of this over the weekend, when I was out in PS. The desert is full of large cockroaches, which they call “Date Palm Beetles” but there’s no such things. They are disgusting American cockroaches, and they’re more prevalent during the really hot weather. Sorry, I’m not a roach fan.
  • Added 2/1/2016: It’s an “end up” kind of place. You know, where people finally, finally “end up.” Are you ready to end up somewhere? You may be, many people are ready to make that final move. But maybe you’re not quite ready for that. Something to consider.

Do you have cons? What do you dislike about Palm Springs?