Category Archives: GLBT issues

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?
  • 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.

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

Living in Palm Springs: The Pros

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124115163_fc436ccd4d_mThe last few days have seen the monsoon return to Southern California desert areas, and I’ve seen a lot of pictures and video of rain (and flash flooding, too) on social media.

Reminded me that many in my cohort (Middle-aged Gay Men) as well as many other folks of all stripes think of moving to the Palm Springs area all the time. I put together pros and cons lists – as I do for so many things, and did this several years ago for that particular place. I hope someone finds it useful! Today the pros — the cons are coming in a day or so.

Pros of living in Palm Springs (from my very particular perspective as someone comparing it to Los Angeles):

  • Uncrowded gyms for elaborate workouts – and it’s less crowded and much friendlier (the gym, that is)
  • Great bike trails that are perfect for a workout all by themselves (such as the PS city loop)
  • Biking is safer. Much much safer. That’s because there’s less traffic and there are many off-road bike paths. (That is, when it’s not too hot to bike)
  • There are fantastic hiking trails in local mountains, accessibly from the valley floor or by taking the tram to the top of Mt. San Jacinto.
  • There is a unique hush in the warmer, hotter weather. I love the silence!
  • So easy to sleep there (see hush, above).
  • No car traffic, comparatively, to Los Angeles – especially in the off-season, the summer.
  • No lines in stores. Shopping, chores are easy! This goes for movies, too.
  • It’s easier to meet friendly people – are they just more relaxed? It does seem friendlier than the big bad city.
  • It’s easier to meet guys of my age (over 50).
  • Palm Springs is so small, you can walk to downtown.
  • It’s easy to get around.
  • The desert has arthouse cinema: the Camelot and the Palm D’Or.
  • Prices of some things (restaurants, movies, etc) are cheaper. (Also, there’s all the senior specials, lower car insurance, lower rent)
  • The spring weather and fall weather are absolutely heavenly.
  • Slow pace and uncomplicated lifestyle make it easy
  • Most days begin with sunshine
  • Infrastructure is adapted to the extreme heat
  • You see people on the street or in shops or restaurants, and you know them: that nice small town feel.
  • Good amount of cultural offerings for a small town on the periphery of a huge city, including a great museum and concert series
  • Outstanding 12-Step Recovery Community
  • Parking is never a problem
  • Breathtaking views of mountains from practically anywhere
  • Lots of entrepreneurs
  • And last but not least: Casinos, baby.

What are your favorite pros about living in Palm Springs?

Gay Midlife Musings: Unsung Gay Heroes in our Midst

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After reading Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” I am astounded once again that neither Glenn Greenwald nor Chelsea Manning have been written about in the gay and gay-ish media with the import and perspective they deserve.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

David Miranda and Glenn Greenwald

David Miranda and Glenn Greenwald

Bradley Manning/Chelsea Manning

Bradley Manning/Chelsea Manning

Arguably, these two people–this one gay man and this one trans woman–have been at the moral center of international secrecy and disclosure in the last year or two, yet hardly a peep from those of our institutions (the Gay Centers, the Parade Groups, the political and fundraising groups) when it comes time to lionize and defend our own.

I took a cursory look at who we (the gay community in the U.S.) have honored at galas, parades and whatnot in the last year or so, and I came across people like Jennifer Lopez, Bill Clinton, Anderson Cooper, Norman Lear . . . not to say that these folks are not deserving of awards, I’m sure they are, but there’s only one gay person among those names above and I’m not sure any of them, including Clinton, have done anything near the importance of what Manning (especially) and Greenwald have done.

Basically Chelsea Manning gave up her freedom — what would have otherwise been likely as a nice, normal life by exposing American crimes in Iraq. Greenwald used his profession as a journalist to expose the unbelievably massive and likely unconstitutional spying/surveillance program of the USA’s NSA (though the disclosures of Edward Snowden) greatly putting himself and his partner David Miranda at risk. (As far as I know, Glenn Greenwald still lives in Brazil and will not come to the U.S. because of the possibility/probability of detainment, even though he is an American citizen.)

What they have done, or helped to do, is very much in the tradition of LGBT people throughout history — we’ve often served as shamans, seers, philosophers, as well as teachers, magicians, composers artists and writers. Since we were almost always not part of the mainstream, we took that distance and reflected something back to society at large. I see that Manning and Greenwald are very much in this tradition.

Is the fact that we can’t see and honor this because we’re in the middle of history as it’s happening and don’t have perspective?

Or is it something else, as in, don’t rock the boat, people. They just gave us marriage, after all. A couple of years before that, they gave us the right to be open in the military. Hard fought gains, to be sure.

Don’t rock that boat.

But what Manning did and what Greenwald has played a decisive role in reporting on has an extremely far-reaching impact in the very fiber of our beings as well as the national psyche.

Are we embarrassed because Chelsea’s transgenderism shines a light where we’d rather not have it go? Do we not want to say we support Greenwald because then it pits us as also opposed to the NSA, perhaps the most insidious organization of our government? I’m not quite sure what the reasons are, but these are revolutionary actions by our own. Why aren’t we owning them? Honestly, what’s happened to our in-your-face-culture since the days of ACT UP, and before that, Harvey Milk and Stonewall?

Here is the one story I did see. And this one, I presume from the tone, written by a straight ally.

Link to my previous post on Chelsea Manning.

 

Update on what’s happening to Gays in Russia: Moscow Gay-Pride Rallies Have Been Reduced to This

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In Photos: Moscow Gay-Pride Rallies Have Been Reduced to This.

imagesAh June, all rainbows and boas and every day it seems another U.S. state decides that bans on marriage equality are, well, unconstitutional. Yay us! We’re so awesome.

Truly, let’s not forget other parts of the world, where living as an open LGBT-type person is either a huge struggle or plain illegal. Iran, Nigeria, Uganda . . . Russia.

Bummer, I know, to point out that Russia, that supposedly western-ized land of Tchaikovsky and Nureyev and Gorbachev is aping their much-hated former enemy, Nazi Germany, in systematically making everything LGBT illegal. Soon, gay people themselves will find their very existence to be against the law in that country. What then? What is the next logical step? I think you know.

I don’t know what to do about it, but I do know that keeping silent about it is most certainly the wrong answer.

During this season of pride, lets not forget our brothers and sisters in Russia.

Jason Jenn does James Broughton: Ecstasy for Everyone

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James Broughton, 1987

James Broughton, 1987

A little plug for friend Jason Jenn‘s one man show celebrating the poetry of James Broughton, “Ecstasy for Everyone,” playing at Spirit Studio in Silver Lake this February and March — with further dates and cities to be announced.

Was so happy to go and hear these words as spoken and sung by Jason — I did not know much about Broughton before and certainly still don’t know a lot, but I got a great introduction.  From Jason’s program: “The sacred and the profane, united and whole, with love. What spoke to me so profoundly about James’ work was its unabashed sense of spiritual and sexual liberation. It may have taken most of his life to come to the full extent of that expression, but the themes are played with throughout his life’s work: that spirituality and sexuality can co-exist harmoniously as well as our masculine and feminine energies within — and that they must or we merely perpetuate the terrible war of duality. So here we are this evening, tucked away in a dark corner of the searchlight skies and marquee-light boulevards of Los Angeles, inside an intimate spiritual community center to celebrate both aspects of our human nature, the divine heights and the earthly delights.”

Go! (to find out about more/future performances, check out HiveWorld.org)

EcstasyForEveryone

EcstasyForEveryone

Meanwhile, in Russia: There Are No Gays in Sochi. . .

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or so says the moronic mayor of Sochi.  Alas, as always, just because you say something stupid doesn’t make it true. As much as he might like to believe there are no gays in his town, for sure there are, and many, many more are on their way, from around the world. Hope it makes him sad, I really do, when his idiocy is pointed out to him. Perhaps by members of our own delegation, perhaps by Billie Jean King or Brian Boitano!

I was disappointed last night in the State of the Union Address, where President Obama said something about rah-rah rooting for our team in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, which begin a week from Friday (February 7). It was the perfect opportunity, I thought, for him to condemn the Putin regime’s human rights abuses toward the Russian LGBT community.

One can always hope but one doesn’t always get satisfaction. If nothing else, please remember to take the corporate sponsors of this Olympics to task as they are complicit in co-sponsoring the hate by their very act of sponsorship.

They are (the 10 major): Atos, Coca-Cola, Dow, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa.  They’ve attempted to wash their hands of this ugliness by pointing out their own inclusive corporate policies. Sorry, corps, that doesn’t work. Shame on you all.

Here, if you need a refresher, is how the enlightened country of Russia treats its LGBT citizens. Share widely.

Youths kick a gay rights activist during a protest against a proposed new law termed by the State Duma as "against advocating the rejection of traditional family values" in central Moscow imgres imgres-1 imgres-2 images images-1 imgres-3

LGBT and the Russian Human Rights Abuses

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Gay Russian protestors being assaulted.

Gay Russian protestors under assault.

Oh what to do, what to say about this? Something, for sure. I couldn’t just not talk about it, even though it’s one of those things, not so different from climate change in that regard, where the individual feels that there’s probably little they can do on their own to mitigate or stop this horror.

I mean, I can’t just pop over to Moscow or St. Petersburg and grab a bunch of LGBTs and bring them home with me.

Yet this reminds me so much of what I’ve read about what happened in Germany in the 1930s with the Jews (and later gays, and gypsies, and . . .) — first laws restricting, ever increasing in scope, until they were legally marginalized as a group and then of course we know what happened after that. Russia is going through the same initial motions with the LGBT community there, outlawing any positive speech about LGBT under the guise of protecting children. (see this link for specific information about the laws in Russia)

What is clear to me is that we cannot stand by and not say or do anything. If not us, who? If not now, when?

There’s lots of things/ways to protest, on the table, that people and organizations and governments are doing. Let’s look at them, let’s see what makes sense for us in both groups and as individuals.

  • Boycott Vodka — a lot of bars and towns are boycotting vodka purchases and drawing attention to this by doing “public pours” down storm drains, etc. My take: great as an attention-draw-er, as publicity stunt without much practical impact — as I understand the vodka industry is not Russia-based. Still, it’s a cultural touchstone and this is a way to draw attention to the matter.
  • Boycott Olympics in Sochi – the Winter Olympics in February, 2014, will be held in Sochi, a city on the Black Sea in southern Russia. The various proposals are to boycott nationally – as in, not send a team (which won’t happen, at least from the U.S.) or to pressure the IOC to move the Olympics to a city where they’d recently been held, such as Vancouver. I honestly don’t know how effective this would be. It’s probably too late to make it happen now regardless. What lasting effects did the western boycott of the Moscow 1980 Olympics and their corresponding get-you-back boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 have? I’m not sure either was a factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was a massive economic meltdown five years later. Russian LGBT have purportedly said this is NOT a good idea, they would like the world to come to Sochi to keep the spotlight on the human rights abuses of the home country.

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Ten Reasons Older Adult Gay Men Like Younger Adult Gay Men

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Christopher Isherwood (l) and Don Bachardy in the late '70s.

Christopher Isherwood (l) and Don Bachardy in the late ’70s.

For this week, the 10 reasons from the point of view of the older guy in the intergenerational pairing. *

Again, these are reasons I’ve come up with myself from my own experience or anecdotally from things I’ve observed.

So here we go, here are some possible reasons an older guy might seek out a younger adult guy:

    • He’s adorably beautiful: well, duh. The cynics among you will say that this is reasons 2 through 10, as well. Got to admit there is something about that dewy fresh flesh that springs back when you touch it.
    • He’s agreeable: from postponing dinner till nine to having a Diet Pepsi when he really prefers a Diet Coke (cause it’s all you’ve got) younger men can be more easy going. There’s that shrug: whatever.
    • He’s enthusiastic: younger guys will often (if not always) want to do something with a consuming passion! They don’t merely say yes; they’re all in.
    • He’s GGG (good, giving, game) – this comes from Dan Savage and his “Savage Love” sex advice program — he strives to be good in bed, to be giving to his partner, and game to try out something which may not be #1 on his own list (see enthusiastic, above).

  • He’s respectful: By the very nature of finding himself with you, he’s respectful of all the gifts an older person can give to an individual and to society; it used to be that everyone was raised to be that way, these days, not so much.
  • He’s trying to please: I find that this urge to please the older person is almost always part of the dynamic, often unexpected. But I’m not complaining.
  • He’s teachable/nurturable: Oscar Wilde famously said, “I’m not young enough to know everything.” But all twentysomethings are not that way, and often I’ve found younger men wanting to learn things that life experience has already taught someone older. (I was not this way, however, I was young enough to know absolutely everything! Now I’m trying to unlearn it all.)
  • He’s usually more interested in the larger cultural landscape: what I mean is that he often will have interests beyond the narrow diversions of his own particular generation. It may come as a keen interest in winemaking, or opera, or deep sea diving.
  • He’s accommodating: He knows he can’t have everything his own way so is more likely to compromise and enjoy the differences between the generations, and he’s authentically interested in learning about those differences.
  • Finally, he’s trusting, he’s expecting that level of integrity from you because you’re an older, hopefully wiser, person. In our cynical times, that’s a refreshing quality.

Just for the record, I’ll date someone of any (adult) age. It’s always an individual attraction thing for me, and there’s no specific type I’m looking for. Do you (either younger or older) date out of your own generation?

* For both this and the companion post, I’m referring to generations of adult men (over 18) only. 

Ten Reasons Younger Adult Gay Men Like Older Adult Gay Men

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yes, of course I'm kidding.

yes, of course I’m kidding.

From the intergenerational dating realms. . . *

It’s no secret among friends and acquaintances that I’ve often dated men younger than me, sometimes, so much younger (20s, 30s) that I could easily be my adult counterpart’s parent.

The usual response I get from gay men my own age to this is positive; they understand the attraction from my point of view, and many have been in similar situations. Female friends can be, well, less understanding, and in my experience, it doesn’t matter if they’re gay or straight women – they often just don’t understand it (but what do you talk about???)

The short answer to that is, of course, we talk about everything. But wait, what about the younger man? It’s easy to see why an older person would be attracted to younger, in fact, our entire society is based on youth worship! But what about the younger guy? What, in heaven’s name, does he see in the older fellow?

Here’s ten reasons, totally anecdotal, taken from my own life or from what I’ve observed over the years:

  • Experience: from the bedroom to the boardroom, older guys usually, though not always, have a better sense of what’s going on. And will be happy to share it with someone younger/not in the know.
  • Decisiveness: After a certain age, a man usually knows what he wants or doesn’t want and isn’t afraid to vocalize that. Maybe it’s because we realize we don’t have all the time in the world and don’t want to waste it being uncertain.
  • Mature physicality: I’m constantly amazed that there’s so many younger men who are physically interested in a more mature body, whether it be for the hair, the salt & pepper color, a belly, those distinguishing lines in the face — whatever it may be, there are younger guys who specifically look for those traits.
  • Money: Let’s face it, some kids are gold diggers. Some older people are, too! An older guy is more likely to be more settled, and a mature relationship with finances can be an anchor during those restless days of youth. In my case, I always tell them I’m a sugar-free daddy.
  • Mentorship: A lot of young men are at a loss in terms of job and educational advice. They’re not getting it from home and they’re not getting it from the culture. Many of them may have run up against a homophobic brick wall and have no idea how to approach their future. Older gay men have already been through this and can provide some guidance and perspective.
  • Kinks: OK, back to sex and not only that, but an entire way of looking at things. Lots of younger guys find they like things on a more, um, wild side. Older men are more likely to have worked through whatever issues – homophobic, shame-based, whatever – surround some kinky activities, and again, are happy to share experience and knowledge with someone younger.
  • Direction: Some young people honestly don’t know what to do and are happier when someone puts some structure into an otherwise scattershot agenda. Contrary to conventional thinking, total freedom is not necessarily always liberating.
  • Home: An older guy is more likely to have a home that he owns or has rented for a long time, along with some of the creature comforts and sense of place that come with that: patio furniture, TVs that work, matching dishes, more than one set of sheets, etc. Not everybody wants to live like a grad student forever.
  • History: Older men have the perspective of history from their own lives as well as (most of the time) a knowledge of the gay community and the struggles we’ve gone through from Anita Bryant to AIDS to D.A.D.T. and marriage equality (and a zillion things in-between). This kind of oral history or learned experience is priceless for someone open to learning about it. Finally:
  • Daddiness: That quality of protecting and being protected, of nurturing and being nurtured, that feeling that everything’s going to be all right as long as he’s around. That’s a powerful bond wherever it occurs — and has less to do with age than the personalities of the individuals involved.

I’m sure there are other reasons I’ve missed. What would you add?

  • For both this and the companion post, I’m referring to generations of adult men (over 18) only.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Forest Dark by Jim  Arnold

The Forest Dark

by Jim Arnold

Giveaway ends December 20, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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