Archives for posts with tag: Queer

I’m trying to write everything down but somehow the past few weeks have blurred into one long delicious adventure.

NYC and back again in the car.

Let me remember.

I drove east through death valley and this was the temperature:

Death Valley 118 Degrees

I drove through Utah during the day which was very wise.  Utah is very beautiful.  Devastatingly beautiful.

Emery Utah 2

You see.  I can’t find the words.

I stopped in Des Moines and enjoyed the state building and the wonderful contemporary sculpture park given to the community by John and Mary Pappajohn, a Des Moines venture capitalist and his wife.

I met a young hair dresser with blue hair.

Capital Building Des Moines

18 Year Old Des Moines Hairdresser

I stopped in Chicago and met a huge football player.

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I spent the 4th July in Chicago. The Fireworks terrified Dude, my little brown dog.

July 4th Boys

I arrived in NYC.  Just in time for the horrible heat wave.

It was so hot I had to leave the dogs inside the apartment during the day or risk them dying of heat exhaustion.

I sat uncomfortably in AA meetings.

I stayed on the upper west side.  A block from Central Park.

Central Park

We walked every day off leash at dawn around the Great Lawn.  We saw beautiful young men exercising.  We, being me and the dogs.

I explored Red Hook and saw a band at Dustin Yellin‘s place called Guerilla Toss.

Guerilla Toss

I met a beautiful man in the street and kissed him.

Sparky

Why was I there?

I had gone east to reclaim my gayness after months of feeling like an ex-gay.   Hanging onto the word queer as the only way to describe my isolation from the gays.

New York.

I spent my birthday at the cloisters with Richy.

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I read from my blog at a Lower East Side gallery and they paid me for doing so.

I met more interesting people on the street.

Michael 2

I helped a friend edit his movie.

Then, unable to stand the searing heat a moment longer, I drove to Sayville taking the first ferry to Fire Island.  The Pines.

I rented a small house on Cedar Walk but didn’t spend any time there at all.

From the moment I arrived I had one extraordinary experience after another.

Pines Domestic Life

I met cool people,  and coveted their things.

Beautiful FIP crockery

I was invited into their homes and onto their yachts, I met their friends and ate their food.  I returned their hospitality by paying for them as and when they would let me.

I walked to Cherry Grove where I had breakfast with John Walters.

I had dinner with Andy Tobias…

Andy Tobias

… in my favorite Fire Island Pines home.

My Favorite FIP House

Duncan Roy

I met a gang of charming gay men from NYC who were kind and considerate.

I spent time with all of them in the city once I returned.

This one is called Jon.

John Stevens Naked

As I let myself fall into the gay Fire Island days I began to remember how much fun being gay is.  Even if I was sober and a little bit older.

I walked the beach.

Fire Island Pines Beach

I had a huge old man crush on this beautiful boy:

Ian

Who worked here:

FIP Barman

I saw Justin Bond.

Justin Bond an Joan Fontein

I looked in at the house where we lived for so many years.

Grey Gardens FIP

And I met more men.

Blue Eyes

I spent time on my own.  I found an abandoned cock ring on the board walk.

Abandoned Cock Ring

I walked miles of boardwalks with the dogs who came home covered in tiny ticks.

Boardwalk Fire Island Pines

I finally met a beautiful man who left for India but lives in Paris who stole my head/heart.

I was so god damned happy.

The morning after the Pines Party I prepared to leave.

The Morning after the Pines Party

After ten days I took the ferry, then another ferry to Provincetown.

Provincetown Beach

I rented a small apartment on the beach and met more men.

Beautiful Man

I hung with my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis but the sparkle that used to exist between us has gone.

Benoit Denizet Lewis

We explored the graveyard.  We found Norman Mailer’s grave and a pretty headstone with a small dog carved into it.

Dog Grave

I ate a great deal but didn’t put on any weight as I walked so many miles every day.

I found this beautiful ceramic mirror frame:

Owl Mirror Frame Provincetown

I met more men.

Bulgarian Boat Boy

Eventually I drove back to New York and stayed with friends.  This is their view:

NYC View

I partied with Jeremy Kost…

…and his friend.

I had dinner with Dan at Mary’s Fish Camp.

Dan Hyman

I had dinner with Thom at my club on the roof by the pool:

Thom

I wore this chic watch:

Rolex

We worked on my film.

Franck in the office

Then, after another week in the city I took the car all the way home again.

I met a hitch hiker who travelled all the way to California.  His name is Albert.

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I stayed in The Lincoln Hotel in Chicago.

Bartender

Christian

I stayed in Denver.

Zach

I stayed in Utah.

We drove from Cedar City to LA in half a day.

We drove up the mountain in Malibu, up the drive and finally slept in our own bed.

It has been misty and cool.

Malibu Marine Layer

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Painted Map

Written for Beige in the UK and published today.

My inaugural letter from America is sent at a time when American secrets and lies take center stage.

I’m staying in Petrolia, Northern California, eleven hours from my home in Los Angeles with Daisy Cockburn, the daughter of Emma Tennant and political journalist and contrarian Alexander Cockburn who sadly died last year.  I am writing at his desk overlooking his wild and beautiful garden.  Alexander Cockburn, like his friend Noam Chomsky, would have slammed the US government for the actions of the NSA recently revealed by Edward Snowden.

Whilst I am amused by the audacious lengths government will go to hold onto its own secrets while harvesting yours… he was not.  Like this present generation of internet babies… I have never valued secrets.  I am an open book. I have always believed that everything I am is yours.

Do you remember the biggest secret you had to keep?  You know, the queer secret?

When I realized I was different, that my sexual/social narrative did not correspond with those around me, I was baffled as to how I should make the difference known.  I was just a child.  I did not ‘come out of the closet’. I didn’t understand why I should make a big emotional announcement. I decided that I wouldn’t tell anyone. My actions would speak louder than words.  It was up to them, those around me, to frame the reveal. Not me.

It was obvious that being queer, telling people that I was queer during the 1970’s… was like letting off a bomb. It was an act of terrorism.  For some, it still is.  Holding my lover’s hand in the street… a rebellion.

So, instead of having a difficult conversation with my secular loved ones about my sexuality, I spoke openly about my same-sex desires, my plans and my heroes.  They looked askance but they got used to it… or else.  I was a teenage whistleblower.

There is nothing more honorable than being a whistleblower.

This month, two extraordinary whistleblowers are top of the news.  Queer hero Bradley Manning and straight hero Edward Snowden.  Manning is currently on trial in a semi-secret military kangaroo court and unlikely ever to be released. The other brave whistleblower, Edward Snowden, a fugitive in Hong Kong, unlikely to see his country of origin ever again.

My gay brothers and sisters in the USA have, on the most part, turned their back on Bradley Manning citing his law breaking as treasonous. Maligning his motives, distancing themselves from his gay story.  Manning’s narrative is bound up with the recently abandoned DADT, a messy ‘coming out’, Manning’s extreme family poverty and the witnessing of cruel and illegal horrors that no man should ever see.

Manning has unwittingly created a schism in the LGBTQ community, cleaving the queers from the gays.  The queers have on the most part embraced Manning, his activism and conscientious objection. The gays have not.  The Queers had Manning elected as a San Francisco gay pride parade grand marshal in late April, but the LGBTQ board quickly rescinded the ‘honor’ after a white male gay outcry.

Queer supporters of Manning held demonstrations, crowded a Pride board meeting and packed a community forum all with the hopes of seeing Manning reinstated as a grand marshal. The Pride board has not budged.

Why are the majority of USA gays so repulsed by Manning?

Perhaps if Manning had been a muscular, army guy of the gay-for-pay porn star variety so popular amongst the gays, they may have ‘evolved’ a different point of view.  Manning is not that guy. He is small and slight and wan.  He joined the army to get an education and ironically ended up educating the whole world.

He is lauded by Michael Moore, Vietnam Vets, heterosexual politicians/presidents and liberal intellectuals all over the world.  His actions are widely credited with hastening an American withdrawal from Iraq and the Arab Spring.

To many across the world Bradley Manning is a hero.

Yet, the gay establishment ignore Bradley. He is routinely ignored by the HRC and GLAAD. He is viciously bullied on anonymous gay, online discussion boards.  GLAAD would rather honor a homophobic, straight film director rather than one of our brave own.

Many of the USA gays who publicly hate Manning are upper middle-class, affluent white men.  They seem embarrassed and angry by his openness, his honesty, his despair.   They call him impertinent, arrogant and narcissistic.  Yet, had Bradley Manning been a bone fide journalist with a fancy ivy league degree he might have become a hero… or like Edward Snowden who currently enjoys the support of over 100, 000 people on the White House petition page demanding a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.

There is no such petition for Bradley Manning.  Bradley was not well-educated… he’s a white trash gay kid with ideas above his rank.

His detractors, formerly closeted gay men, have their own relationship with the truth.  By necessity, after years of experience, they have become slick liars, natural spies, covert experts. In their every day life they create the illusion of perfection: socially, physically and sexually. A tribe of American gay men who have an overwhelming urge to be over-achievers.  They are clean-cut and conservative in appearance, they throw themselves into their jobs with the same fervency they got through school.

They champion marriage and the military rather than the end of LGBTQ jobs discrimination.  They have no interest in helping others in the coalition of oppressed minorities cobbled together by President Obama because they do not consider themselves an oppressed minority.

Why should they?  They are white, affluent and male.  What’s not to be proud of?

Since I arrived in the USA I have (rather proudly) been subject to not one… but two gagging orders imposed on me by white gay men.

Both ex-intimates, both terrified of having their secret gay lives revealed.  Professional white men, a 32-year-old and a 45-year-old.   The younger man works for a famous publishing house and is perhaps the most interesting because he supposedly respects the first amendment.   The other, a rich businessman caught lying and cheating.

The former was well ensconced in his comfy closet when I first met him, about to be married to a women, living a double life. When I found out about his deception I told him,  “Either you tell the woman you are deceiving… or I will.”

When I tell white gay men this story they are outraged.  They blame the deceived woman for being dumb.  Their thinly veiled misogyny revealed.

“How stupid of her to not realize he was gay.”  they scold.

One Saturday morning two years ago he told her he was living a double life.  After he came out of the closet he had a great deal of sex with many men then settled down with the man he intends to marry.  Free from her sociopathic ex she is now in love with an honest heterosexual.  Of course… he demonizes me.  She probably does too.  No good deed goes unpunished.

Like a lot of over-achieving well-closeted gay men, the publisher operated under the “Best Little Boy in the World” syndrome, a term from Andrew Tobias’ seminal coming-out autobiography of the same name, published in 1973, describing a certain type of middle-to-upper-class gay man.

Gay men are still terrified of the truth: personal or public. Their worst fear when growing up was having their gay truth revealed.  We all want to control the message.  Nobody wants to be told that they are queer ahead of their own declaration.

Many gay men still behave like small boys grappling with who and what it means to be gay.  Scarred by shame, they loathe any queer person who draws negative attention to him/herself in case it tarnishes them or the gay corporation.

They loathe Bradley Manning for outing the nation.

When gay men are ready to tell the truth about being gay they demand recognition and plaudits for doing so.  A heroes welcome for coming out of the closet.  Yet, after this initial flush of candor, their honesty only extends so far.

Beyond the great revelation there is a darker side to being gay that the gay white elite doesn’t want you to know.

They have gone to extraordinary lengths to make you think we are JUST LIKE YOU.  They are still placating their heterosexual parents, school mates and the straight friends who don’t mind them being gay… as long as you don’t do anything gay around me.

The gays don’t want you to know about the meningitis epidemic, the continuing HIV epidemic, they don’t want you to know about their loneliness, their propensity for STDs, the unreasonably high gay adult male suicide rate, the sexual unmanageability, drug taking, racism, sexism, classism, narcissism and ageism that blights the gay ‘community’.  They don’t mention how they routinely commodify women’s bodies/reproductive labor so they can have children. They don’t want you to know just how hard it is to be straight acting, to be ‘masc’ or to find themselves remotely attractive when they look in the mirror.

They don’t want you to know that for many LGBTQ… it doesn’t get better.

Manning broke the first rule of the white gay American elite:  Don’t rock the boat.

The gay businessman’s gagging order expires early next year and he will, inevitably seek to extend it.  The publisher will do the same.  The problem is:  as they know all too well… the truth is eventually revealed.

I met a man.  A medical doctor.  He was well put together, handsome, the president of a large gay organization that supposedly represents the interests of the gay community.  Our trusted servant. He couldn’t stop crying.  Under his well cut trousers he had a permanent needle in his leg for jacking meth. He begged me not to write about him.

I couldn’t make that promise.  He is the perfect white gay American metaphor.

In modern America secrets both public and personal are simultaneously considered defending and deflowering at the expense of the constitution. At both micro and macro levels this secretive bipolarity has come to define my stay in the USA.

 

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black-1.2

It is a black day for the international LGBTQ community.

Clément Méric is as good as dead.  His brilliant, 18-year-old queer brain mangled by right-wing thugs on the streets of Paris.

He is presently kept alive by a tangle of opalescent tubes.

In Russia activists are targeted by government sponsored bullies.

In London intellectuals are beaten to the ground by members of the EDL.

In NYC a black man is shot in the face and killed.

Trans people are murdered every day all over the world, often without investigation.

Have you heard?  There is, amongst the general population, a perceived inevitability about LGBTQ equality.

Some amongst us are becoming complacent.  Bloated on the success we think we have.

Basking in the support we think we get from the President.  In fact we are silenced by him.

His words over deeds have silenced us.

We must speak up.  Continue to challenge. Continue to be seen.

We must not shirk our responsibility to queer martyrs like Clément Méric.

Speak up. Heckle.

ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Actis only now being widely discussed after the petulant FLOTUS was confronted by GetEQUAL queer activist Ellen Sturtz.

I congratulate Ellen.  Finally, a voice for the queer poor heard over the screaming voices of the queer rich.

As the Great Recession continues in so much of the USA, ending workplace discrimination (especially for trans people) is essential.

Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.

FLOTUS

Remember.  As we strive for parity there will be those with equal and opposite views.

There will be violence.

There will be those who will kill an 18-year-old queer boy because they can.

African-Americans had to face nearly another century of lynchings before the Civil Rights Movement was powerful enough to push back strongly against violent racists.

The women’s movement of the 1920s, side-tracked for a generation until the 1960s, with so many needlessly broken lives and life expectations as a result.

Queer people are being attacked all over the world: Paris, Moscow, New York, London by increasingly emboldened haters.

As we demand equality in the workplace, the home and in the establishment these attacks will become more frequent.

We must, whether we like it or not, form a true LGBTQ alliance not only in name but in practice.

It is too late for fear to drive us into the shadows. We are out. We are visible.

We need to be more fearless and more visible.

LGBTQ.

This means YOU.

This means ME.

Reading about Clément Méric this morning, looking at his sweet, boyish profile… I began to question my own behavior.

I have, of late, let resentment toward the gays shape my own kind of homophobia.

For those of you who have read my blog these past couple of years the provenance of this loathing may seem understandable.

Today, I need to jettison those resentments.

If I truly believe in this fight… I have to accept those I detest as my queer brothers and sisters.

Int 2

Occasional unfinished notes on becoming Queer.

There’s a difference between gay and queer.  Just like there’s a difference between chocolate and carob.  It looks the same, and used the same but tastes completely different.

Queer: sexual minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary

The older I get… the queerer I become.

I’m not even sure what it means.  But I’m sure that gay no longer describes what I am.

I am not a married drone operator living with my husband and three surrogate children who secretly wishes he could vote republican… and did… once… because nobody was watching.

Nope.  I’m not that and I’m not headed in that direction.

I remain teachable.  My wagon remains unhitched.

Listen, I’ve got a secret I want to share with you.  One I don’t think I’m meant to be sharing.  A secret that might very well discredit my public shift away from gay toward queer as my description of choice.

My description of me.

I feel so let down, betrayed, dishonoured by gay men.  Yes… you.

One day in early December this year I will write the genesis of my change.

This intellectual menopause.  This change.  This perestroika.

Remember:  from the very first play, to the very last film I have sought to make entertainment that re-examined, revealed, remade the gay experience.

I have won endless awards doing so.

My crowning moment was being nominated for a British Academy Award.

Betrayed:

I was used to being told by straight people that if I wanted a career I should stop telling gay stories.

I was not expecting this:  Gay people told me the same thing.  In fact, they (with vehemence)  told anyone talented and gay to live the lifestyle but don’t expect to tell stories about it.

They said,  “You don’t want all your hard work… marginalized.”

They said, “You don’t want to miss out on the big bucks.  You don’t want to end up like Derek Jarman?  Do you?”

My heart sank.  That’s exactly what I wanted.  Back then.  When I relished telling people I was gay.

Derek Jarman.  He was the only film maker I thought worth aspiring too.  That’s how it was back then.  1985.

So, I found him.  Sought him out.

We met on The South Bank in the shadow of the Royal National Theatre.   Denys Lasdun‘s great, neo-brutalist monolith

We sat outside overlooking the Thames.  Gray clouds scudding over the greatest city in the whole world.

Gusts of cold grit blown over us.

He bought two cups of badly stewed tea served in thick Styrofoam cups.

I handed him the Caravaggio catalogue I had bought after seeing the show at the Met in NYC.

“How can I help?”  He asked.

I said, “I want to make a film.”  I was embarrassed.  I was star struck.

He said, “You will. But, you want my advice?  Remember this: Never take no for an answer.”

We talked about Tilda Swinton who nobody really knew back then.

He told me about a young tousled man he met in the street.  A builder.  The builder came up to him on Shaftesbury Avenue and said, “You’re that gay film maker, aren’t you.”

Well, he expected the worst.  It wouldn’t be the first time he had been beaten by a stranger but he looked him in the eye, straight in the eye and said, “Yes I am.”

Ten minutes later the beautiful young man was naked, towering over him.  Blowing a load.

That’s a queer story.  It’s not gay.  For a start, a gay wouldn’t have told the truth.

Secondly, a gay would have been too scared to take a big straight acting blue-collar worker back to his prissy apartment.

The gays.  God.  You were right.  It wasn’t worth it.  Making those plays, those movies.

Yet, I’m still here.  Sitting in my huge bed in California.

Good taste and tenacity will always make you enough money to enjoy a great life.  Where ever it may take you.

The gays betray each other.  They have no respect for themselves or each other.  Perhaps it was me?  Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations.  You know, mutual respect, support, honor?

I remain curious.  Even though I am sure of what I am.

P.S.  Tilda Swinton saw my film AKA at Sundance.

My agent threw a party for her and me in some crazy restaurant.

We talked a great deal about Derek that night.

He was right.  I never took no for an answer.

I begged and I borrowed and I stole to make a moment in my life that no one can ever take away from me.

Not even the gays.