Friday, October 31, 2008

I've Had It With These Motherfucking Homophobes on This Motherfucking Plane!

"Joseph Smith could have dozens of wives and Sulu can't have one fucking husband? What kind of bullshit is that?"

The only thing missing from this great No on Proposition 8 ad narrated by Samuel L. Jackson is a few well-placed f-bombs. Imagine how majestic it would sound with just the slightest of script revisions:
"It wasn't that long ago that discrimination was legal in California. Japanese Americans were confined in internment camps. Armenians couldn't buy a house in the Central Valley. Latinos and African Americans were told who they could and could not marry. It was a sorry time in our history. Today, the sponsors of Prop 8 want to eliminate fundamental rights. We have an obligation to pass along to our children a more tolerant, more decent society. Vote fucking No on Prop fucking 8. It's unfair and it's wrong, motherfuckers."
There is still time to volunteer for and donate to No on Proposition 8. I've already forked over my money and harassed other people to do the same with theirs. The Mormon hate machine must be stopped. And if I could single out all of you California homos who are reading this -- I've examined my Google Analytics and see your San Francisco and West Hollywood asses out there -- I hope you're doing your part. You don't want the friggin' Osmonds telling you who you can marry, do you?

Don't Ever Call This Woman a Lesbian

If you're going to assault someone in a bar,
do it through terrible dialogue and not physical violence.

Take a look at this lede and tell me if you can guess the rest of the story:
A WOMAN who smashed a glass into a fellow customer's face at a pub after he allegedly called her a lesbian will learn her fate later this month.
No, no, Michelle Rodriguez didn't meet up with Perez Hilton somewhere in the UK and exact revenge for all the times he has scrawled "I Heart Pussy" over her picture. And the woman in question wasn't Valerie Singelton, finally blowing her stack when someone mentioned Joan Armatrading for the twelve hundredth time. This nasty bit of violence was perpetrated by Laura Elizabeth Betton against Mark Joce, a man she'd known for several years and been friendly with until he accused her of meddling in his relationship with his fiancee.

Here is what really happened at the pub that night:

Mr Joce, aged 30, of Llanelli's Biddulph estate, said he believed Betton had spread rumours that he had been seeing other women behind his fiancee's back when he had not been.

Trouble flared when he was sitting in The Golfers on April 30 and Betton was nearby with a woman friend.

Questioned by prosecutor Mark Spackman, Mr Joce said that when the two women asked to speak to him, he told them he did not want to speak to them.

He admitted calling Betton a "home-wrecker" but denied describing her as a lesbian.

The glass attack by Betton left him needing eight stitches in a gash to his left temple, he said. It had also left him with a constant twitch.

My question: Are we sure Betton and Joce aren't both lesbians? 'Cause that episode has dyke drama written all over it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kit Bond: Vote for the Guy Who Isn't Compassionate

Touched by a convicted felon's rendition of Lionel Richie's "Hello," judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson gave the man a reduced sentence.

Kit Bond, the Missouri Senator who I believe was recently played by Abigail Breslin in Patricia Rozema's An American Girl movie, gave a rousing speech in Cape Girardeau today urging voters to support John "At Least I Don't Plaster on the Makeup Like a Trollop, You Cunt" McCain. His greatest quote:
"Just this past week, we saw what Barack Obama said about judges. He said, 'I'm tired of these judges who want to follow what the Founding Fathers said and the Constitution. I want judges who have a heart, have an empathy for the teenage mom, the minority, the gay, the disabled. We want them to show empathy. We want them to show compassion.'"
Oh no, not empathy and compassion! That's just plain un-American!

Have the Republicans lost whatever was left of the very small piece of a brain they've been sharing for the last 40 years? Next they'll be saying, "Just yesterday, we learned that Barack Obama, in his disdain for our Founding Fathers, wants to use the Constitution as toilet paper and appoint Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson to the Supreme Court." (Then they'll have a 527 fund commercials pointing out that Abdul is Jewish, which probably makes her an abortion-loving, gay rights championing liberal, and that Jackson is obviously tied to terrorism via his connection to the arena rock band Journey. At the end of this commercial, just for good measure, a disembodied female voice will yell something denying the existence of God.)

Looking beyond the most absurd and glaring lies contained in Bond's warning -- that Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, is scornful of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution -- you can't help but wonder why Republicans are doing such a terrible job of fear-mongering this year. They once did it so effortlessly, with such great élan, yelling things like "You're all going to die if you don't vote for us!" and now they're just circling the drain as they try with some despair to resuscitate the smattering of social issues that Karl Rove was able to gleefully, and successfully, exploit in the not-so-distant (though it seems like a hundred years ago) past.

Kit Bond, like Pat Buchanan, believes that after eight years of suffering under President Bush, Americans are still afraid of and hostile toward concepts like empathy and equality. In almost any other election, that kind of patently Republican strategy of doing everything you can to appeal to the lowest common denominator might work. But right now people are scared about the economy, they're sick of turning on their local news each night to see another story about another 20-year-old soldier their kids went to school with returning home from Iraq dead or limbless, and the last thing they're worried about is whether judges are being mean enough to the disabled. This party's lack of perspective is never anything less than astounding. And from a personal standpoint, don't people like Bond and Buchanan and Michele Bachmann ever get tired of being such fuckheads?

By the way, what was with Bond's use of "the gay" in Cape Girardeau? Is "the gay" like "The One" in The Matrix -- and if so, who is our Neo? Is it Ellen? Ellen would have no reason to stand before a judge. Her dancing might get annoying sometimes but it isn't against the law.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Cranky FAQ

The answers are every bit as boring as you ever hoped they'd be. If you think something needs to be added, let me know -- but remember, I don't discuss the time I spent in Vietnam.

Why don't you accept reader comments?

Sometimes people get a little hot under the collar when you call their favorite celebrities gay or criticize them for being closeted, and I'm not particularly interested in providing them with another platform for their endless bitching -- they already make themselves heard all over the Internet, and I kind of wanted a place where I could get away from that. A possible solution would be to use a moderated comment system, but I'm not keen on that idea because who am I to judge what someone should or shouldn't be allowed to say? I do value your opinions and am happy to address your questions or comments via e-mail (my address is listed in my profile).

How much traffic do you get?

More than an isolated country road and less than a Southern California freeway, if that's any help.

Are you "The Cranky Lesbian" on other websites?

No, it's a moniker I only use here. I'm sure there are several of us on the Internet -- cranky lesbians are a dime a dozen -- but I can only take credit for this blog. (I have to say, I kind of shuddered when I wrote that.)

BTW, since this question apparently derives from there having been a "crankylesbian" on Xanga, I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify the following: I am not unemployed, I do not drink Budweiser, I don't listen to James Blunt or No Doubt, I still have my gallbladder, and my favorite game is Scrabble. I am a Capricorn, though, so that crankylesbian and I do have something in common.

Any chance of you posting a recent photo?

If you were me and you wrote some of the completely ridiculous things that I write, would you want your image associated with it? You can use your imagination: I'm of the short and slight variety, have dark hair (worn long), hazel eyes, and I have always, from the time I was born, looked sleep-deprived, even when I'm well-rested. Altogether, nothing special. You'd pass me in a bookstore without noticing me, and if you did take notice -- if my jacket was on fire or something -- you probably wouldn't say anything because I have an "I hate people and want to be left alone" air about me. It's one of those things I can't control, like my devastating charm and rapier wit.

Why are some of your posts so incredibly long?

I wish I knew the answer to that.

Do people really ask why your posts are long?

Only people who know me away from the Internet, but I wanted a fifth question -- I don't like even numbers -- and was trying to avoid bringing up the one I'm probably asked most often (which kind of defeats the purpose of having an FAQ, but like Norma Shearer in that Mick LaSalle book, I'm a complicated woman), which is "Are you a writer?"

Are you a writer?

My inability to compose even the shortest of sentences without breaking every rule of punctuation known to man (and probably a few rules that haven't been invented yet) should answer that for you. But if it doesn't: well, exactly.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pat Buchanan Is Still a Dick, Just in Case You Were Wondering

Even pie dislikes Pat Buchanan.

MSNBC ratings heroine Rachel Maddow's blustery, bile-spewing fake uncle*, the scary death monster Pat Buchanan, is getting all worked up over John "Sweet Coconut" McCain's new go-to threesome (replacing longtime favorites Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise and Charles Nelson Reilly): Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

In fact, Buchanan can't stop fantasizing about the possibility that should Obama become our next president, the Democratic trio might seductively embrace illegal aliens (that they're illegal makes them that much sexier) and erotically tease the uninsured with promises of access to affordable health care.

These are some of the awful things Pat wants you to fear from an Obama administration:
Two or three more liberal activists of the Ruth Bader Ginsberg-John Paul Stevens stripe will be named to the Supreme Court. U.S. district and appellate courts will be stacked with "progressives."
Yikes! I know that I'm personally terrified of "liberal" judges who believe in things like a constitutional right to privacy. They're destroying the fabric of our democracy (™ John McCain) with such single-minded determination that one could easily mistake them for, say, people who register voters for community organizations.
Special protections for homosexuals will be written into all civil rights laws, and gays and lesbians in the military will be invited to come out of the closet. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dead.
Seriously, any MSNBC employee who reads this: slap him. You don't have to hurt him -- I know that he's elderly and was once diagnosed with reactive arthritis, a condition that got him a 4-F classification when he was in his early twenties, which meant he never had to risk his life for this country the way gays in the military so bravely do despite being stuffed in the closet -- you can use a Nerf bat or something. At the very least, hire some gay guys to make out behind the camera while he's trying to finish one of his eight thousand tedious talking points. Nothing distracts homophobes more than guy-guy action. It's so incredibly hot repugnant that they can't help but get turned on look.
The homosexual marriages that state judges have forced California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to recognize, an Obama Congress or Obama court will require all 50 states to recognize.
OMG! I think that kind of menace speaks for itself. BTW, what does Buchanan make of the fact that his own fake niece lives in Massachusetts with her partner? Her same-sex, vagina-having, lesbian partner. If Maddow -- or The Maddow, as I like to call her -- and her partner have yet to tie the knot but plan to do so eventually, will Uncle Pat get an invite? If he declined to attend, would he at least send a thoughtful gift, like hers-and-hers handheld fans they can use to cool themselves when they're BURNING IN HELL for being deviant homosexuals?
A "Freedom of Choice Act" nullifying all state restrictions on abortions will be enacted. America will become the most pro-abortion nation on earth.
It'll be terrible -- all over the country, women will be throwing abortion parties the way they used to throw Tupperware parties. The abortion craze will sweep the nation so quickly that by the time the "Freedom of Choice Act" is enacted and December rolls around, 8-year-olds will be asking their parents for abortions for Christmas. Postmenopausal women will pay evil liberal activist doctors enormous amounts of money to implant fertilized eggs into their aged wombs just so they can take part in the new abortion trend that is splashed across the pages of Cosmo and Vogue. (Need to spice up your marriage? Abort. Want to know what drives a man wild in bed? One word: shmashmortion. Looking for a way to fight off wrinkles? Ask your doctor about medical abortion today!) Lesbians will get pregnant in record numbers for the sole purpose of celebrating the reaffirmation of their right to reproductive freedom, and inevitably they'll follow the sage advice of one of the gay community's most beloved lifestyle gurus, Patsy Stone: "Abort! Abort, abort, abort!" Employees at fast food restaurants, instead of asking customers if they want fries with their orders, will start asking, "Would you like to terminate your pregnancy with that?"

Don't these nightmarish scenarios make you reconsider your support for Barack Obama? And don't they lead you to the incredibly obvious conclusion that you not only want to vote for him, but will probably name your first child (even if it's a daughter) after him as well? Congratulations, Pat Buchanan, on a job well done! I won't be able to sleep tonight thinking about a day when I might have a president who respects women and "the gays" and doesn't put words like "the health of the mother" in air quotes.

*Two things: I don't know why MSNBC didn't think of hiring a lesbian sooner. It's not like the clueless heterosexual guys over there were ever going to "top" CNN on their own. You gotta put a strong lesbian woman, especially one who drives a truck and has a fishing license, in charge of something like that. And as much as I like Rachel Maddow, it drives me nuts to see her regard a piece of crap like Pat Buchanan with any kind of warmth or respect. I know it illustrates that she's intelligent and mature, unlike all of those Fox News hosts who treat civil discourse like it's the clap, but I'm not intelligent or mature. I'm dumb and juvenile, like a left-wing Pat Buchanan, and it kind of pains me to see forward-thinking people give him the time of day, especially when they belong to a group he has spent a lifetime vilifying and disparaging.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Should I Hire Protection?

According to the FBI, hate crimes decreased by 1 percent in 2007. Good news, right? Except for the part where anti-gay hate crimes actually increased by 6 percent. And what about this:

Racially motivated hate crimes accounted for more than half of that total. Religious bias was the second-leading motive for hate crimes, followed by prejudice against sexual orientation.

Within those categories, the FBI report found most hate crimes tended to be anti-black, anti-Jewish and anti-gay.

Egad! Not only am I gay, but as you can see from my photo on the upper right side of this page, I'm also black. (That photo, by the way, is somewhat out of date. I've grown at least two inches since it was taken last year.) Or maybe I'm Jewish. I forget.

Either way, I'm feeling kind of nervous at the moment, and I'm glad I bookmarked this story about female bodyguards a few weeks ago. It might be worth looking into should those anti-gay hate crime numbers increase again in 2008. And who knows, maybe I'd end up with a female version of Kevin Costner (one who doesn't perform lewd sex acts in front of mortified masseuses while we're honeymooning in Scotland. That's so gauche) and find myself singing a passionate rendition of "I Have Nothing" because of her. Or maybe we could scratch that last part, because no one wants to hear me sing. If you had any idea how terrible that sounds, you'd probably pay me not to.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Sex Uncovered" Takes a Look at Lesbianism

"For three glorious days, I handed my lover plump strawberries and smoked duck meat..."

This weekend, The Observer, as part of their massive "Sex Uncovered" feature that is all about Britain and sex in the year 2008, published several sex diaries written by people from all walks of life. I had to read the one by Patricia, a 46-year-old lesbian, several times in order to wrap my brain around it. It's presented in a somewhat choppy style, but I think it's worth sharing. How often do lesbians get to write about their sex lives in The Observer?

My favorite parts:
My partner and I haven't used a strap-on, certainly not since we moved from the other flat last year.
I keep going back to this sentence. What does it mean? It's the "certainly not since we moved" part that really draws you in. It's so intriguing. What's so certain about it? Did they leave the strap-on back at the old flat? Did they toss it in with some odds and ends they donated to charity before moving? Did they get mixed up with one of those shady movers that holds your possessions for ransom and now they'll have to fight in court to regain custody of the strap-on? Are the movers sending them notes with pictures of the strap-on next to a current newspaper so they know it's still alive? Maybe the strap-on made the move with the couple but they had some kind of falling out with it because it wasn't paying its share of the rent, or it kept taking their food out of the refrigerator without replacing it. I need to know the answers to these questions.
We have some vibrators but being a lesbian is not only about sex, obviously. It's two per cent.
How do you calculate the breakdown of somebody's lesbianism? Say, for example, that this particular couple's brand of lesbianism is 2% sex, 5% learning to play the guitar, 7% gardening, 8% checking Samantha Fox's website to see if she has any upcoming gigs nearby, 12% having potluck dinners with their friends, 14% keeping in touch with the gang from Xena conventions, 18% supporting their favorite football team, 24% having lengthy conversations with their cats, and the remaining 10% of their lesbianism gets tithed to the church. Those numbers aren't going to be steady across the board. I know women who might refer to being a lesbian as 40% about sex and 60% about drama. Others might consider it 5% sex, 20% shopping at Home Depot, 35% emotionally connecting to other women, and 40% related to having seen Bugsy Malone or Candleshoe at an impressionable age.
It's attention-seeking to pipe up about a double-ended dildo on the steps of a village hall. It's not just a generation thing. I never talk about sex when I'm not actually doing it.
Did someone pipe up about a double-headed dildo on the steps of a village hall?! My thoughts immediately went to Jodie Marsh, but on second reading it seems more likely that Patricia is referring to a theoretical attention-whoring blabbermouth. I really like that she brought up the generation gap possibility, because it makes me imagine a kind-faced octogenarian lesbian being interviewed for a documentary about the progress the gay rights movement has made over the past several decades. I picture her tearing up as she tells the camera, "Back in my day, we were invisible. We had to hide from the police, who used to raid our bars. We had to hide from our families. It's not like today, when you see young gay people on the steps of a village hall piping up about double-headed dildos."
Getting together with my partner through the internet was interesting, because she could have been a man type - although I've never met a man like her, ever.
Was meeting her partner through the Internet really only interesting because she could have been a "man type"? What's interesting about the Internet is that the person you're talking to could be just about anyone, so I'd have preferred something like, "Getting together with my partner through the Internet was interesting, because she could have been Gordon Brown or Patricia Routledge."
In February, we'll have been living together for five years. I don't know why she puts up with me sometimes. She never wanted cats ...
Ah, the concessions we make for love! It's inspiring, but on a selfish note it also makes me nervous about my own future. If I'm ever in a relationship that's still going strong after five years, my reflections would be more like, "I don't know why she puts up with me sometimes. She never wanted a fallout shelter in the backyard." I'm not sure that many women would go for that.
I like her eyes and her back. Her nose is more sensitive than mine and that's why she likes wearing my clothes.
That, I felt, was very Rosie O'Donnell-esque, so I heartily approve of it. Though I wish she'd done it in haiku form, and found a way to work in something about her "yellow."
Our garden is completely secluded and we made love for hours out there in the summer, with sandwiches and a trifle to keep us going. Then a squirrel leapt over us. But before that it was something special.
That was my second favorite part of the article, after the strap-on bit, because it reminded me of the SNL "Lovers" sketches with Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch as hippie-ish college professors who would alienate people by reminiscing about their bizarre sexcapades, which were often set in the great outdoors. (The "Patio Lovers" skit, in which they fondly recall feasting on goat meat in the Greek islands, is a work of demented genius.) Dratch would say things like, "Yes, we had pulled over after a long Sunday drive. Roger led me to a clearing, laid me down upon a bed of fresh meadow grasses. He then rubbed my nubile body with fruit liniments and Noxzema. Then he artfully covered my back with melted butter and cloves. And until the flies and ants came, methinks it was the finest lovemaking the world has ever known." Not sure they ever mentioned squirrels, though.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Grey's Anatomy: Now With 40% More Suckiness

On Grey's Anatomy, saving lives is easier than having lesbian sex.

We have already established that I have not been a regular viewer of Grey's Anatomy, that ABC show about Patrick Dempsey's dimples and Eric Dane's impressive pecs. (It is also, sometimes, about practicing medicine. And I think it might exist in part to drive viewers over to iTunes. That's one of two possible explanations for why they showcase so much new music so prominently in each episode; the other is that the people who make TV shows have become so lazy -- Nip/Tuck was also guilty of this back when I bothered tuning in -- that they'd sooner crank up the music at dramatic moments than create big emotional pay-offs themselves. As long as Jeff Buckley's rendition of "Hallelujah" keeps being licensed to everyone who asks for it, writers will never have to come up with anything deep and meaningful ever again!)

My reasons for not loyally watching Grey's Anatomy are simple: I like good writing (which does exist on Grey's Anatomy, as far as I can tell, just not with a great deal of consistency), and I'm immune to the charms of hunky male doctors in various states of undress. Every time I've seen the show, or parts of the show, it has struck me as little more than a pop culture savvy version of a Harlequin novel, filmed in high-definition. The plucky heroines doggedly pursue their professional goals while despairing about their personal lives, which often involve affairs with older, smarter, more accomplished men they've met on the job. The women, with all of their soppy feelings and nagging insecurities, struggle to balance their personal and professional lives, leading to all manner of turgid melodrama; the men seem rather less conflicted. It is one of the tritest stories anyone can write, and I can't fathom tuning into it for an hour a week 22 or 24 times per season.

However, like many a representation-starved homo, I'm a sucker for a gay storyline. There are so few of them on TV, particularly featuring female characters, that I feel an obligation (however waning -- 'cause nothing was going to get me to watch Cashmere Mafia) to check them out when they do come along. So late last season, when word came that Grey's Anatomy was going to have new best friends Callie Torres and Erica Hahn, both established heterosexuals, attempt a lesbian relationship together, I started to pay a bit of attention. The early signs weren't encouraging: Their first kiss happened in front of Mark Sloan, the hospital casanova who was also Callie's fuck buddy, and their second kiss happened in the season finale only after Mark encouraged Callie to pursue Erica. Once again, Mark watched them together, this time from a distance that meant they (or at least Erica) were unaware of his voyeurism. The season ended on a note that left fans of the Callie/Erica pairing (dubbed "Callica" on the Internet) giddily optimistic -- their favorite characters were last spotted making out right in front of the hospital.

Now, me, I'm a pessimist. I've seen too many TV shows and too many movies botch too many lesbian hookups to have any faith they'll be handled with tact. That Grey's Anatomy is, as I've previously opined, "quite possibly the straightest TV show of all time," did little to assuage my fears. (Seriously, I hear the words Grey's Anatomy and all I can picture are mobs of salivating straight women trying to storm Seattle Grace so they can rip the scrubs off McDreamy and McSteamy and McRambo and whoever else I'm forgetting, and give them examinations no HMO would pay for.) It seemed instructive that the writers hadn't been able to pull off any "Callica" kisses that didn't prominently feature Mark and his reactions, so my expectations for season five were low. So far they've been met.

To be fair to the Grey's writing staff, the season is still young. And of the five episodes that have aired so far, only two have really advanced the Callie/Erica storyline. Last week's episode, called "Brave New World," found the normally brash Callie freaking out at the prospect of going on her first date with Erica. Was her panic a wee bit over-the-top, considering she'd been the one to initiate their rather public kissing session at the end of season four? I certainly thought so, but at the same time I was willing to concede that one could easily argue Callie's nervousness made sense. And while the dialogue, which mostly addressed Callie's apprehensions about what lies below the Mason-Dixon line of Erica's pants (her words, not mine), annoyed the hell out of me, I could see how several of the exchanges, particularly the ones Callie had with Dr. Bailey, the hospital's no-nonsense chief resident, were representative of the sauciness viewers expect from Grey's Anatomy.

It is markedly more difficult to rationalize the stupidity of this week's episode, "There's No 'I' in Team." Things started off promisingly enough, with Callie and Erica opting against taking it slow. Yes, their clinch was physically awkward, but that will only endear them to some viewers. (Perhaps those who are reminded of Nan's words in the novel Tipping the Velvet: "Our kisses were imperfect ones, as all new lovers' kisses are ... but -- again, like all new lovers' kisses -- their very strangeness made them thrilling." Remember how Nan was nervous about being with her first partner, Kitty? Remember how she didn't act like a blithering idiot about it? That was nice, wasn't it?) But it didn't take long for Callie's anxiety to resurface, and she sought out the esteemed manwhore Dr. Sloan for advice:
Callie: Last night, Erica and I, we ... we did it. Sort of.

Mark: Congratulations.

Callie: No. No, no. It was not good. At all. I choked. I couldn't go down there. I tried, but it just felt so weird and clinical, like gynie rotation. I left this morning before she got up. I couldn't even face her. What if, what if me and Erica are, what if -- what if we were a mistake? Where are you going?

Mark: I can't talk about this.

Callie: Oh, c'mon, you love talking about this stuff. Girl-on-girl, it's hot.

Mark: Two girls getting nasty and loving it, that's hot. One girl talking about how much it sucked? Depressing. And wrong. Just wrong.

He's right that it's wrong, but I'd replace his "depressing" with stupid. Because in this case, with these characters, that exchange -- the whole Callie/sex panic subplot in general -- was just stupid. And it got even stupider when Callie, after breaking up with Erica over her sexual humiliation ("I'm not cut out for this. The touching, and the sex with a girl, I just -- I can't do it"), asked Mark for a hands-on demonstration:
Callie: Just hear me out. I like to be good at things, okay? I do not fail, I do not quit. I like to be good at things, and I want to be good at this. So I need you. I need you to show me.
Mark, being a Good Samaritan, valiantly leapt to his feet and ripped off his shirt, telling a delighted Callie to take off her pants: "I'll show you the slow method. It'll never be in a medical journal, but it should." Later in the episode, Callie finds Erica in an on-call room and mimics her sensei's moves, right down to the shirt removal and de-pantsing order. The last thing we hear her say is, "We're trying this again." She doesn't mention her tutorial with Mark, who has an antagonistic relationship with Erica, because that kind of honesty might prevent her from ever seeing Erica naked again. And probably also because Erica's a cardiothoracic surgeon, and that's the kind of surgeon you really don't want to piss off. It's one of those general rules I follow in life, handed down to me by my parents and grandparents: hold doors open for the people behind you, don't litter, and never piss off a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Now, this is why I'm annoyed...

The notion that a woman would need a man to teach her how to pleasure a woman is patently absurd and either horrifically insulting or merely not terribly progressive, depending on how strongly you want to put it. At the same time, it's about what I'd expect from a show like Grey's Anatomy. What I don't understand is why they're going down that path with this particular character. Because, if I can be blunt, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me that a woman who is supposed to be as sexual as Callie wouldn't know her way around a clitoris. If nothing else, she has one of her own. Right?

And, in addition to being a grown woman who is presumably familiar with all of her own territory "below the Mason-Dixon line" (or her lady business, if you're the Tina Fey type), she is also a highly skilled surgeon. She knows where the parts are located and how they work, and she knows what she sexually responds to, so ... isn't the framework already in place for her to understand the mechanics of lesbian sex? (Isn't that a yearly calendar, The Mechanics of Lesbian Sex? Jenny Shimizu is on the cover, her face smudged with grease, wearing nothing under her bib overalls? I think I saw that at Barnes & Noble.) And wasn't she already told by Dr. Bailey, who is much, much wiser than Mark, that the key to having good sex with Erica would be communication? Was Bailey remiss not to clarify that the communication was supposed to be with Erica and not Mark's tongue?

If I can be completely honest, at the risk of sounding like a tool -- and I figure I sound like a tool most of the time, so this shouldn't be a huge departure -- I went into this viewing experience at the end of last season harboring prejudices that the writers of Grey's Anatomy are a bunch of frivolous heterosexual women who have no genuine interest in writing a compelling and realistic portrayal of a lesbian relationship. (Yes, I know they met with GLAAD. That's one of the reasons I felt confident the storyline would suck.) I mean, they already seem clueless when it comes to writing decent heterosexual storylines, so how could they be anything but seriously out of their league trying the gay thing? There's still ample time in season five for them to prove me wrong, but so far this has been pretty pathetic.

Would anyone but a roomful of giggly, immature heterosexual TV writers think that girl-on-girl action is so endlessly complicated and fucking hilarious that it merits two full episodes -- and who knows what the future holds -- of wacky "motherland" hijinks? (And what's with the enormous emphasis on oral sex? Surely the writers have premium cable and know that there are many different things Callie and Erica might be doing, but all Callie seemed to focus on was oral sex. It served two purposes: it didn't get too specifically lesbian, because heterosexuals know all about oral sex, and it kept a half-naked Mark in the mix. But I think it came off as odd to many viewers.) Callie's dilemma was somewhat tolerable in "Brave New World," but her scenes in "There's No 'I' in Team" were so ill-conceived and poorly executed that, coupled with everything else that has gone on with her this season, you can't help but wonder who is really flirting with lesbianism here: Callie, or the writers of Grey's? (And is it just me or does Sara Ramirez, who actively supports many gay causes, often looked disconnected from this storyline? My guess would be that privately -- it's doubtful she'd ever pull a Heigl if it's true -- she might not be thrilled with how it has been handled.)

What makes it even worse, at least from my perspective, is that lesbian viewers have a tendency to be far too forgiving of such mediocrity. Historically, what happens when a TV show introduces a lesbian subplot is that it attracts a group of fans (also known as "shippers" in Internet parlance, and viewers can "ship" pairs of any gender combination), some of whom had never watched the show before, and they quickly grow overly invested in the storyline. They create their own message boards with vomit-inducing banners that feature screen grabs of characters embracing plastered across the top of each page; they adopt in-jokes and slogans relating to the minutiae of the storyline, frequently repeating throwaway dialogue the average viewer wouldn't remember; they write fan-fiction and upload endless numbers of embarrassing YouTube "tribute" videos with montages of their favorite couple set to every horrible song that ever had significance to one of their own romantic relationships.

It's the stuff the Internet is made of, but I don't have the constitution for it. The way super-fans plumb even the most inconsequential exchanges for deeper meanings ("just a thought: when she said 'hi, how are you?' she really meant that personally she hadn't been fine, that her life had been incomplete until the night they met" type stuff, but a thousand times crazier), and comb through 30-second network promos like they're analyzing fibers from a crime scene, depresses me. These viewers, gay viewers, are lunging for table scraps, grateful for even the tiniest crumb -- which is generally all they receive -- and they deserve much better.

Of course, they don't always see it that way. Some viewers are so desperate for any kind of lesbian representation on TV that they'll defend anything as permissible and realistic. Callie and Erica could pull a Thelma and Louise and spend November sweeps trying to elude the F.B.I., and at the end of it you could probably visit any TV message board with an ongoing "Callica" discussion and find a few posts that say "Watching tonight's episode really brought back painful memories of the time my best friend and I killed a man and drove off the edge of the Grand Canyon together." There are people who will always be happy with crap, and there are networks that will always be happy to supply it. Will Grey's Anatomy continue that trend? We'll know soon enough.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Swedish Lesbians Still Entitled to Puppies (and Kronor)

What does this man have to do with lesbians and puppies?

Remember the Swedish kennel owner who wanted to deprive an adorable puppy of the love of two mommies because she was a giant, unrepentant homophobe? Back in February she'd been ordered by a Stockholm court to pay her lesbian would-be customer damages for discrimination and harassment, a decision she disagreed with and later appealed. Today came word that her appeal was rejected, meaning she has to fork over 20,000 kronor (a little more than $2,500) for being a hateful jerk.

The weirdest part of the story was the kennel owner's reasoning behind blocking the sale of the puppy: She didn't want to sell a dog to a gay owner because of issues she had with transvestites, who she thought were involved with animal pornography. What do lesbians have to do with transvestites? I know a lot of us are Eddie Izzard fans, but beyond that I don't see much of a connection. And what do transvestites have to do with animal pornography? Everyone knows that transvestites are far too busy taking in old Steve Reeves movies and making a man with blond hair and a tan to get caught up in something as disgusting, and illegal, as that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why McCain is McFucked

The wink that launched a thousand starbursts.

Robert Draper's much-buzzed-about New York Times Magazine article about the chaos behind the scenes at the McCain campaign went live on the Times website this afternoon, my fellow prisoners, and it's a doozy. Not as explosive as some might have hoped, but still an interesting read. It's nine pages long, so here's the abridged version for those of you with compromised attention spans:

This summer, Steve Schmidt, the large, bald man billed as the campaign's chief strategist, was all, "Aaarrrghhh, we're losing!" Not in those words, exactly — I'm taking some creative license here — but you get the point. So he got together with his fellow strategists and strategized, as strategists are wont to do. Let's listen in:

It was Sunday, July 27, and Obama had just concluded an eight-day swing through the Middle East and Europe that received practically round-the-clock media coverage. "Would anyone disagree with the premise," Schmidt went on, "that Mr. Obama has scored the most successful week in this entire campaign? I mean, they treated him like he was a head of state! So tell me, gentlemen: how do we turn this negative into a positive?"

"It's third and nine," Bill McInturff, a pollster, observed. "Time to start throwing the ball down field."

Eventually, it was Schmidt who blurted out the epiphany concerning Obama. "Face it, gentlemen," he said. "He's being treated like a celebrity."

The others grasped the concept — a celebrity like J-Lo! or Britney! — and exultation overtook the room.
If I might interject here: A celebrity like Ronald Reagan! Or Arnold Schwarzenegger! Or Fred Thompson, if Fred Thompson was a celebrity. Except, wait: Obama never starred in Bedtime for Bonzo or Kindergarten Cop. He was just, you know, a community organizer and politician. Pshaw! What right do politicians have running for office?

Anyway, John McCain and his sugar mama dug the "Celebrities are bullshit!" concept, which brings us to this:
Three days later, the new ad went up. "He's the biggest celebrity in the world," a female voice intoned, as images of Britney Spears and Paris flashed on the screen. "But: is he ready to lead?" In a conference call with reporters that morning, Schmidt framed the issue with a binary choice straight out of the 2004 playbook: "Do the American people want to elect the biggest celebrity or an American hero?"
If we could pause briefly for another admittedly petty interjection: What is it with Steve Schmidt and his superfluous Americas? It's not like the American people can elect a hero of the non-American variety as their president. He's very hung up on Americans electing an American this or an American that as their American president, as we were reminded of earlier in the article in this description of a campaign commercial:
It concluded with grainy black-and-white footage of the wounded P.O.W. reciting his serial number to his captors, followed by a spoken line that Schmidt loved and adamantly defended, even when others inside the campaign argued that it made no sense: "John McCain. The American president Americans have been waiting for." Thereafter, McCain seldom wasted an opportunity to extol his own patriotism.
After reading all of this, I am strongly of the opinion that Steve Schmidt has exactly one song on his iPod, which he listens to over and over again: "America, Fuck Yeah!"

Moving on to my personal favorite part of the McCain saga, Sarah Palin unexpectedly enters the fray and rallies the base (of lunatics) at the Republican National Convention with a speech that included a quote by a raging anti-Semite who once wished for the assassinations of Franklin Roosevelt and Robert F. Kennedy.

McCain staffers are pumped. They celebrate in the bar of the Minneapolis Hilton, which is every bit as sad as it sounds. One of them, spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace, even admits that she "cried throughout" Palin's speech — and in a good cry kind of way, not the "wept for the future of our country" way you'd expect. Steve Schmidt, convinced he's scored an American touchdown or landed an American knockout by persuading McCain to select Palin as his running mate, embarrasses himself by yelling "Game on!" before getting a bit more serious about the Bridge to Nowhere's #1 fan enemy:
"Arguably, at this stage?" he observed. "She’s a bigger celebrity than Obama."
Wasn't celebrity supposed to be a bad thing? Isn't this the part of the political ad where the female voice intones, as images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton flash on the screen, "She's the biggest celebrity in the world. But: is she ready to lead?"

Getting back to Draper — and the Shanks in question is Priscilla Shanks, an actress who was hired to coach Palin in the ways of not sounding like a dolt when she spoke at the Republican National Convention...
But just as you could make too much of Shanks's quiet coaching of Palin, you could also make too little of it. The new narrative — the Team of Mavericks coming to lay waste the Beltway power alleys — now depended on a fairly inexperienced Alaska politician. The following night, after McCain's speech brought the convention to a close, one of the campaign's senior advisers stayed up late at the Hilton bar savoring the triumphant narrative arc. I asked him a rather basic question: "Leaving aside her actual experience, do you know how informed Governor Palin is about the issues of the day?"

The senior adviser thought for a moment. Then he looked up from his beer. "No," he said quietly. "I don't know."
And that, in a nutshell, is why McCain appears to be McFucked, and why I laughed like Cheers was on (classic, Shelley Long era Cheers, that is) as I read Robert Draper's article.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rachel Maddow Hoards Lawn Mowers

"Should I clean your garage when I'm done with the lawn?"

The New York Times Magazine recently visited Rachel Maddow at home in Massachusetts and asked her a whole bunch of questions about her house, her favorite things and how she spends her free time. Since my sister idolizes Rachel Maddow, I'd like to direct her attention to the first photograph at the link. Her eyes will immediately go to Rachel's jeans and T-shirt, because she's toyed with the idea of starting a "Free Rachel" campaign that would urge MSNBC to let their new "liberal queen of US news" dress however she wants on her show.* Once she's done admiring her casual attire, I urge her to look at what's behind Rachel.

That's right, there are books. Lots of them. That's because smart people read books. So would you please, sister whose name I won't mention here, leave me alone about the size of my library from now on? You can continue to mock everything else you mock about me (though I wish you'd stop laughing maniacally at the thought of me getting lost in the grocery store, you know that never happened), but the books deserve a rest. Also, take a look at how Rachel answers the question of what's by her bed: "I read comics sometimes and graphic novels. I appreciate that genre." You see that? Comics and graphic novels! So you can also shut up about my Buffy comics and graphic novels while you're at it. If you meet me halfway on this, it's possible I might -- I stress the word "might" here, because it will be exceptionally difficult -- stop making fun of your encyclopedic knowledge of Tegan and Sara's tattoos.

Now, if we can awkwardly segue back to the Times piece, here are some other things we learned about Rachel Maddow: She's a mustard person. She loses sleep worrying about loose nukes. To put her own mark on a house that mostly reflects her partner's style, she placed a squirrel sculpture near the kitchen table. Writing makes her "want to blow [her] head off." She has clown shoes, a Ford pickup and a Massachusetts fishing license. Most intriguingly, she says, "I have a little stockpile of lawn mowers, some of which it has been years since they worked. But it seems wrong to get rid of lawn mowers, so I keep them."

Sadly, interviewer Edward Lewine wasn't intrepid enough to ask the hard-hitting follow-up questions: Are they all walk-behinds or are there a few riding lawn mowers mixed in there as well? Are we talking about old-school reel mowers or more newfangled equipment? Has she tried a robotic lawn mower yet? Robotic lawn mowers are pretty cool, except they don't look robotic enough for my tastes; I want a lawn mower that's modeled on Rosie from The Jetsons. Looking out your window to see an actual robot-looking robot cutting the lawn would go a long way in lessening the sting of the $1,500 price tag on most Robomowers. Or what if there was a Short Circuit-inspired lawn mower? Throw in an extra $1,000 and you could probably get Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy to show up with a leaf blower and hedge trimmers and finish your landscaping themselves.

UPDATE (7:22 PM): More good news about Rachel's ratings can be found here. Also, my sister responds to the NYT Magazine piece: "Awww, that's such a cute picture." A few minutes later: "OMG! I always wanted a Ford Ranger when I was a kid!" Still no word on whether she'll back off my library, but I'm choosing to be optimistic.

*After giving more consideration to how MSNBC promotes The Rachel Maddow Show, I've decided they should just use the tagline "Rachel Talks You Down." She doesn't really talk you down, mostly she just reassures you that you're right to panic, but that's why people like her and it's why they like Keith Olbermann. Viewers find it comforting to know they're not the only ones who are angered and appalled by what's going on in our country. So it's either something encouraging like "Rachel Talks You Down" or something completely honest like "Fox News is for Fucktards. MSNBC Isn't." (Then there could be a disclaimer that says, "Except for Morning Joe, David Gregory and Pat Buchanan.")

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama Under the Arch

If you look very closely, you can see half of my family there...

The Tinklenberg Tracker

Anyone else transfixed by it? I'm a non-Minnesotan who donated $50 to Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign yesterday after seeing his unhinged opponent, the incumbent Rep. Michele Bachmann, froth at the mouth about "anti-American" Democrats on Hardball. Hitting the 'refresh' button every time I'm near my computer, I've watched his donations grow from $15,000 or $20,000 to $131,000 and counting in less than 24 hours. It's far more entertaining than anything on TV.

UPDATE (6:30 PM): Tinklenberg has raised around $450,000 in the 24 hours since Bachmann's Hardball appearance first aired. That is more than his campaign had raised in the last three months and "total nearly half of what it has raised to date," according to newspaper reports. So the Internet has had its say, and the Internet voted against Michele Bachmann.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Faux-Lesbianism: Part II


This is the part of the faux-lesbianism debate where we get a glimpse into Don Vito Corleone's childhood in Sicily, his voyage to America, his adventures in rug-stealing with Clemenza, and the totally awesome way in which he disposed of Don Fanucci. (And that's not even getting into Michael Corleone's trip to Havana and his dealings with Hyman Roth, or Fredo's fatal Johnny Ola slip-up.).

Sorry, I got confused there for a minute. This is the part of the faux-lesbianism debate in which an actual lesbian—Jane Czyzselska, editor of Diva magazine, which is Europe's answer to Curve—weighs in, managing to do so in a non-sucky way. You know, unlike the Australian article that I complained about so bitterly earlier this week. Czyzselska was responding to Jodie Marsh's recent declaration that she's giving lesbianism a whirl.

Jodie Marsh, for those of you who haven't heard of her, is an English "glamour model" who is seemingly famous for having enormous fake breasts and wearing lots of eye shadow. She has used those breasts and the clown makeup she spackles onto her face to pose naked for magazines and appear on crappy TV shows. On the subject of her new relationship with a hairdresser named Nina, Jodie had this to say:
"I've had loads of shit men. I can see why women turn lesbian, because you get to the point where you're sick of hearing so much fucking bullshit, so you start to look elsewhere. Nina's really sexy. She asked me out and we've been on a few dates. I think she's a cool girl. I love the way she kisses and she doesn't fuck me about. I feel comfortable with her. Nina's as sexy as any man."
Marsh continued, "We're currently in negotiations to film a sex tape that will be 'stolen' from my home and released for $49.99 per download at www.redlightdistr—uh, did I say that aloud? Sometimes I get confused and don't know if I'm saying what I'm thinking or thinking what I'm saying, or even what I'm thinking or saying at all. Does that make sense? It's like the time I went to apply for a passport and said my nationality was waffles because I hadn't eaten breakfast yet and my stomach was growling."

Okay, she didn't say that. As far as I know. But you can see why a statement like "I can see why women turn lesbian," and the fact that she's publicizing the relationship right from the start, doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. As Czyzselska writes:
I don't wish to be cynical, if this is indeed the path of new and true love for Jodie, but I was rather disappointed to read a supporting comment that suggests that she believes men are so feckless it's a wonder that more girls don't "turn lesbian". I had rather hoped that this so-called explanation for lesbianism had gone the way of the Sinclar C5.

... It may come as a surprise to Jodie that most of the lesbians I've met have chosen their partners because they are attracted to women and not because of a latent hatred of men.
Then there's this news bulletin:
And finally, I hate to burst Jodie's bubble about love life with our own sex, but when it comes to being "fucked about", even women who love women have their moments.
That's very true, as any seasoned professional will tell you. If you're looking to escape relationship drama, the last thing you want to do is try lesbianism. I don't know enough about Marsh to have much of an opinion about this latest announcement of hers, so I'll limit my comments to the following: If nothing else, she has the right first name for engaging in a bit of lesbianism. But wouldn't it be more newsworthy for an adult model type to say she hasn't fooled around with other women?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thoughts on the Final Debate

Now here's a plumber you can get behind, or anywhere else she wants you.

Another night of no middle-class mentions from John McCain, and "maverick" was finally off the table. As promised, my thoughts on last night's debate, roughly as it happened:

Oy vey with Joe the Plumber! Is he fucking John McCain or something? Is he related to Joe Six-pack? (He can't be related to Joe Lieberman, or McCain would've mentioned it.) If only there was a fourth debate, John McCain could've told us a story about another old buddy of his, Joe Mama. (BTW, Joe the Plumber's a real prize.)

Barack Obama says "profligate." I love the word "profligate."

John McCain is not George Bush ... he just votes with him most of the time.

John McCain has a zeal for eliminating pork from our federal budget. I'm also anti-pork, but more in the bacon sense than the "no projectors for planetariums" sense.

Speaking of trimming fat from the federal budget: John McCain knows how to save the economy. Matter of fact, he can balance the budget while riding a unicycle and spinning plates at the same time. This is all in addition to knowing how to capture Osama bin Laden -- and of course having Barack Obama right where he wants him in the polls.

John McCain will be in therapy for the rest of his life over Obama snubbing his town hall events. This seems to amuse Barack Obama as much as it amuses the rest of us.

When asked by moderator Bob Schieffer if he wanted to say Barack Obama pals around with terrorists to his face, John McCain all but answered: "Me? Personally, I don't give a lot of thought to washed-up terrorists. But if other people, like my fellow maverick Sarah Palin, want to say Senator Obama is BFFs with a terrorist when he's not there to respond, I'm cool with that. It's valid."

Of all the vile, disgusting, reprehensible things that have been said leading up to this election, what John McCain really regrets is that John Lewis thinks it's dangerous to incite hatred. I'd say McCain lost me there, but honestly I thought he was incredibly incoherent from the start of the debate. By the time he got around to defending his supporters and crying about his hurt feelings, I almost wanted to turn off the TV. It's not that I felt bad to see John McCain embarrass himself as a man, because that's a situation entirely of his own making. (I'm reminded of that Jonah Hill line from Knocked Up: "You embarrass yourself!") It's the embarrassment he brings to our country when he acts so incredibly smarmy and self-righteous that's hard to swallow.

Hatchet! Scalpel! Incoherence!

Barack Obama talks fancy, like an educated person. Like he reads books or something. John McCain didn't crack many books when he was languishing at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, so his vocabulary doesn't quite compare to Obama's. But he did learn two new words this week: plumber and autism. And he'll be happy to use them for you in a sentence. Or in nineteen sentences. However many it takes to get his point across.

Speaking of autism, John McCain seemed to repeatedly confuse it with Down syndrome when talking about Sarah Palin's son. He also seems to think Sarah Palin has spent years and years raising a special needs child, when in reality Trig is only a few months old. In other words, Sarah Palin is not yet an expert on the subject of raising special needs children. She's not even close. If John McCain needs someone to explain to him how that works, I could put him in touch with several relatives of mine who've raised special needs children and I'm sure they'd be happy to help him out.

When John McCain started in on "gold-plated Cadillac insurance policies that have to do with cosmetic surgery and transplants and all of those kinds of things," I was momentarily confused. The word "transplants" immediately brings to mind very serious matters; you hear it and think of organs being packed into coolers and transported to hospitals via helicopter. To hear it used alongside "cosmetic surgery" in a dismissive way was kind of jarring. I was all, "Wait, is he still hung up on hair transplants?"

Barack Obama will protect your uterus. John McCain will not. John McCain is sick of hearing about your goddamn uterus. Remember what Dick Cheney yelled at Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor? That's what John McCain would yell at your uterus if he could see it today. Then he'd call it a "trollop," plus that other word he likes to hurl at his wife. If you really fucking hate your uterus, vote for John McCain.

Barack Obama believes in equal pay for equal work. John McCain's wife is worth a hundred million dollars, so he hasn't given a lot of thought to that issue.

Barack Obama wants to be your president because, well, you've seen how nutty the other guy is. John McCain thinks he should be president because of his dad. That sounds vaguely familiar.

... The end.

That's how I interpreted it. It was a very difficult debate to watch at times, mostly due to John McCain's inability to answer a question without launching an ill-conceived attack and his inability to just sit there and listen. In a way it didn't seem like a real debate at all, because only one real candidate showed up. Barack Obama was there to pay attention to the questions and offer detailed answers in a friendly, civil, authoritative manner, while John McCain was there to sulk because he's not getting his way in a presidential election. How screwed up is that?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Thing About the Knockout

"You overcook it, it's no good. It defeats its own purpose."

Now that the third and final presidential debate is over, can we address the "knockout" issue?

The people who write about political debates and talk about them on TV after the fact love to bring up knockout punches. It's a subject they're so fond of that if you Google the words "debate" and "knockout punch" together, you get something like thirty billion results. You get more results for the words "debate" and "knockout punch" than you do for "Britney Spears" and "naked."*

They didn't think one was landed in the vice-presidential debate; they didn't think any were landed in the first two debates between John McCain and Barack Obama; they don't think any were landed tonight. Here's the thing the pundits have been reluctant to admit, on the right because they're hopelessly stupid and on the left because they've been afraid to jinx themselves: John McCain knocked himself out in August when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. John McCain knocked himself out again on September 15 when he said "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." So far he has spent the month of October knocking himself out on a daily basis with his schizophrenic smear ads and the way he has allowed his rallies to turn ugly and vicious.

What is left of John McCain at this point for Barack Obama to punch?

My meager thoughts on the substance of the debate are coming sometime tomorrow, but in the meantime I had to vent my "knockout" frustration somewhere.

*That was a lie. Sorry, I thought I was John McCain for a minute. If you Google "debate" + "knockout punch," there are currently just under 47,000 results. "Britney Spears" + "naked" gets 8,400,000. Remove the quotes from the naked word and you'll get another million results.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Coming to the U.S. to Escape Homophobia

Today's Boston Globe has an article about foreigners seeking asylum in the United States to escape homophobia, and it's impossible to read Brazilian Genesio Oliveira's story without getting angry. Laws in this country need to be changed so that gays and lesbians can sponsor their spouses for legal U.S. residency the same as heterosexuals. That this wasn't done years ago (and probably won't happen anytime soon) is shameful. And for asylum-seekers without American partners, the issue here is the same as in Canada -- how do you prove you're gay, and how do you prove your life is in danger if you're sent back home? From the article:

Offering a haven for gays and lesbians is an emerging field of law in the United States and around the world, lawyers and advocates say, awakening foreigners to the option to live in the United States that was previously unknown. But the practice is raising concerns, as critics cite the potential for fraud and advocates worry that possible homophobia or lack of international experience might lead some judges and government officials to send foreigners back to dangerous lands.

In a 2003 case, an immigration judge in California denied asylum to a Mexican national, saying it wasn't obvious the man was gay. The man appealed and won asylum last year.

There is fraud all over the place when it comes to immigration. People are still allowed to immigrate. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Bill Wright, the government doesn't keep statistics on how many gays and lesbians are granted asylum. So far, no one has suggested that there's an epidemic of scheming heterosexuals masquerading as frightened gays and lesbians in search of U.S. residency. So why do I have a sinking feeling that this is something Fox News numskulls will eventually blow way out of proportion, claiming that it somehow damages America? They need a new "War on Christmas"-esque stunt, and seeing as they love to scream about both homosexuality and immigration, this could prove as tantalizing as a loofah or falafel to Bill O'Reilly.

One thing to be relieved about: No one in the article was quoted as saying anything as stupid as Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, who believes that gays are safe in Iran. (Never mind that by her own admission, gays don't feel safe enough in Britain to report hate crimes to the police.) On the other hand, I'm sure we'll hear plenty of the Jacqui Smith response as gay asylum becomes a bigger issue in the United States.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Attack of the Killer Fake Lesbians

Greta Garbo disguised herself as a lesbian to spy for Germany. Or maybe not.

This is a really dumb article. One of the dumbest I've ever read, and I used to read Seventeen and Teen Beat faithfully.

The problems start with the headline, which asserts that "bogus lesbians" are "'causing emotional damage.'" There are two possible responses to this. The first is a joke about it being old news to actual lesbians that fake lesbians cause emotional damage. The second isn't a joke, just a confused "Who to the what now?" We're only headline-deep and the article already feels unintentionally funny, not to mention rather quaint.

Then there's this:
Several high-profile relationships involving "real lesbians" and women more often linked to men — such as MTV's Ruby Rose and Jess Origliasso, and Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan — have reportedly encouraged a wave of "fauxmosexuals" on the real life party circuit.
Oh, please. If Lindsay Lohan can't get leggings to catch on, how is she going to convince a girl who wasn't already interested in kissing girls to kiss another girl? Let's give women (yes, even young women), a bit of credit here -- they do have minds of their own. And let's be realistic: "fauxmosexuality" (which is sometimes more complicated than someone simply craving attention, but it's easier to pretend everyone is completely one-dimensional, isn't it?) is nothing new. Perhaps the media only recently caught onto it, but "the gays" have been dealing with it, and in many cases rolling their eyes at it, forever.

And then there's this:

Gay social commentator Tim Duggan has described the "lesbian trend" as a fad which is actually doing "more damage than good".

"Experimentation is healthy — what it leads to can sometimes be a great thing, but you need to wonder what effect [fake lesbians] are having on women," said Mr Duggan, co-founder of gay and lesbian site SameSame.

"Women who pretend to be lesbians do it to titillate men."

Why does lesbianism always, always, always come back to men? I know that not everyone understands this, and that even some gay men have difficulty looking at women's issues without trying to relate them back to men, but not all experimenters are women who are "pretending to be lesbians," and not all of them are doing it to titillate men. Certainly there must be a way for concerned social commentators to tackle the subject of "faux lesbianism" without diminishing the complexity of female sexuality and apparently dismissing the notion of bisexuality altogether.

(And why do these lectures always seem oddly prudish, like there's something inherently distasteful about straight girls wanting to titillate their boyfriends in this manner? Not every girl who kisses a girl to get a reaction from a guy does so under duress. Sometimes -- gasp! -- women are in control of their own sexuality, know what they're doing, and like kissing other women and like turning on their boyfriends.)


Online gay forums are abuzz with talk of the "bogus lesbian" craze, with some questioning whether the trend is putting real homosexuals at risk.

"Where do these fauxmosexual fads leave queer teens once they're packed away in the cupboard (with other fads)?," user timbo84 wrote.

"The statistic of 30 percent of teen suicides in the US being gay or lesbian teens is very distressing.

"Here's hoping pop culture moves on to focus on people like Ellen and Ian McKellen and not those who are just 'out' to make a buck!"

Pop culture hasn't moved away from Ellen and Ian McKellen. They both have successful careers and legions of adoring fans who respect them for coming out. But let's back this up a bit: An obscure (outside of Australia) MTV VJ being photographed in a clinch with an almost equally obscure (outside of Australia) pop star might be putting real homosexuals at risk? If ever a remark called for a heavy sigh and a major "Oh, Mary," that has to be it. (Or "Oh, Martina," if you prefer, if you're dealing with a clueless woman.)

I was a teenage lesbian. (BTW? That is so the title of my next pulp novel.) That was way back in the '90s and the early aughts, before Tila Tequila, or whatever the hell her name is, had her own bisexual dating show -- a show I'll admit I've never bothered to watch. It was before The L Word existed, before South of Nowhere was on a cable channel aimed at young adults, and, most lamentably, it was before YouTube fulfilled the promise of the world wide web by giving everyone with an Internet connection free and immediate 24-hour access to girl-girl action.

The only lesbians the public knew at that time were Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Billie Jean King, k.d. lang, and Martina Navratilova. There was also Janis Ian, but the song "At Seventeen" depressed everyone and they tried not to think about her. (As a side note, who have we added to the list since then? A tennis player here, a WNBA player there, a few awful singers with acoustic guitars and the occasional relic from the '60s. Maybe the world can only handle five powerful lesbians at once. I know I've tried to handle six before and after a while it just got confusing.) Back then, even after I started coming out to friends, no one believed I was gay. My sheltered Midwestern classmates seemed to think lesbians were like the Abominable Snowman: "Personally, I don't believe they exist, but I know this guy who says he saw a picture..."

They thought it was a phase, or that I was simply confused. (A few objected on the grounds that my hair wasn't short. Yes, my school was obviously crawling with geniuses). They were confident that one day I'd meet the right guy and burst into the home ec room singing, "Gonna wash that gay right out of my hair!" or something equally catchy. I was fifteen at the time and none of my classmates were openly gay, though we were pretty sure about Tom, a cute Southern Baptist who proudly served in the color guard and loved to quote Designing Women. A number of my classmates were outspoken homophobes, which was more common than not in the 1990s, in a town that had more churches than bookstores, where PTA moms would stop each other in the grocery store to share their disappointment about Ellen on the cover of TIME. Some days I thought I heard the words "gay" and "fag" in the hallway more than I heard the words "and" and "but."

Nearly ten years later, at the exact same school, my sister came out of the closet. No one thought she was going through a phase. No one thinks she's going to magically turn straight. (Maybe it's because she has short hair. We'll have to gather data.) There are still homophobic students. There are still teachers who do too little to rein them in. Comments are still made and hostile looks are still shot. Sometimes lockers are even defaced. But the school now has a gay-straight alliance, which would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.

And there are so many gay, lesbian and bisexual students that I still get confused when I hear my sister gossip about this girl dating that girl or this guy being interested in that guy's boyfriend. "Are we talking about the same school?" I want to ask. "When I was 13 there was talk the prom would be canceled if the only openly bisexual student in the entire high school brought her girlfriend. Now your gay friends are running StuCo and planning school dances. It doesn't compute." (Her response would probably be, "Like we'd let straight kids plan the dances.")

These teenagers are blazing their own trail. They don't particularly care who Jess from the Veronicas is spotted kissing, and neither do their heterosexual peers. Jess from the Veronicas doesn't attend their GSA meetings or write on their Facebook walls. Not only do they not feel their quest for equality is imperiled by Lindsay Lohan's relationship with Samantha Ronson, they'd roll their eyes at the suggestion that their straight classmates would either assume the Lohan-Ronson union is a publicity stunt or react to news of a Lohan-Ronson breakup by saying, "If the girl from The Parent Trap isn't really gay, then you're probably a bunch of impostors as well! We don't take you seriously now, and once we're allowed to vote we're going to make sure you can never get married!"*

Really, how fucking stupid do these people think kids are?

UPDATE (10/14): To answer a few questions, the reason Rosie O'Donnell was left off my "the only lesbians the public knew at that time" list is because ... drum roll, please ... she wasn't out of the closet yet. She came out in 2002, five years after Ellen, and I'd graduated from high school by then. As for the "five powerful lesbians" concept, I'm sticking with it for now but would add that Rosie replaced k.d. lang on the list quite some time ago. Oh, and the point of the post -- and I think most people got this, but in case there are any questions -- wasn't that it's wrong to discuss so-called "fauxmosexuality." My point, as the first sentence of the post makes clear, is that this particular article on the subject is dumb. It's a terrible, terrible, shallow, worthless article that reads like it was put together in two seconds. And I'm an expert on sloppy effort, as anyone who has perused this website knows.

* Gay teens do love Lindsay Lohan, though. Call it the Mean Girls factor. The new gays quote that movie as much as the old ones quoted Heathers. The "too gay to function" line is a perennial favorite.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friendly Neighbors? You Betcha!

My parents' yard sign was stolen, much like the 2000 election.

Please note: If the time line seems screwy, it's because this post was originally written on Saturday night.

Last night my dad did something he'd never done before in his life: He put up a political yard sign. He's approximately one trillion years old (or maybe he's closing in on 50 -- it's easy to lose track), so it's something he avoided for a long time. The whole time I was growing up, in fact, I remember him rejecting the very idea of yard signs.

He'd see them pop up around the neighborhood as elections approached and he'd get that 'blah, blah, blah, boring dad stuff' tone of voice that would make me close my eyes and think of things I liked, like Beach Boys songs or Edina drunkenly falling out of a car on Absolutely Fabulous. Faintly he'd drone on in the background, pointing out miserable truths like "a campaign only lasts a few months, but you'll be living next door to your neighbors for a long time after that." Best not to ruffle feathers, then, over something as deeply personal as politics.

What was different about this election that he felt compelled to stake a sign in his lawn? I think what finally did it for him, what made him feel he had to take a stand, was the wave of disgusting rallies John McCain and Sarah Palin held this week. The tenor of those meetings turned his stomach, and to step outside his own house each day and see McCain-Palin signs in his neighbors' yards only added to his outrage. My mom, who'd normally do anything to avoid attracting attention, agreed: they needed a sign of their own.

And so they got one. In my official capacity as the family's paranoid cynic, I predicted it would be stolen within 24 hours. "Attach a personal alarm to it, something the thief won't see, so it scares the hell out of him when he tries to steal it," I advised. They seemed to think I was overreacting. But I know what kind of people their neighbors are, and they're not as friendly as they try to appear. I know what kind of kids their neighbors raised. (Beasts, almost all of them. Racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic little brats who thought nothing of reheating whatever Rush Limbaugh rhetoric their parents regurgitated at dinner each night and making the rest of us inhale its putrid fumes on the school bus and in the cafeteria the next day. These were kids who'd earnestly declare between bites of Tater Tots that Jews are "God's chosen people," then solemnly inform me that I'd be damned to the fiery pits of hell if I didn't hop aboard the Jesus train.) There was no way that sign was lasting longer than 24 hours.

So ... 24 hours later, the sign is gone. Someone waited until it was dark outside, trespassed onto my parents' lawn and stole their $8 political statement, which had been the only Obama-Biden sign on their street. (It would've been stolen even sooner, I think, had it gone up before nightfall yesterday.)

There's a problem with this, beyond the obvious issues of laws being broken and rights being violated. Two problems, actually. The first is that my dad is stubborn. Really stubborn. Incredibly, impossibly stubborn. If you think that I'm a stubborn jerk -- and just about everyone who knows me will tell you I'm a big one -- multiply that by ten and you have the beginnings of a composite sketch of my father.

The second problem is a much bigger problem, at least for the area thief. You see, my dad owns a print shop. Not one of those rinky-dink operations college kids use to make copies of black and white flyers, but a serious, professional print shop. One that's filled with all kinds of high-end equipment he can use to print anything he wants, from books and business cards and brochures to posters and signs (including, yes, yard signs) and large outdoor banners. If he tires of paying for something that keeps getting stolen, he might be tempted to take matters into his own hands and turn his entire yard into an Obama sign of his own creation. Stealing someone's entire yard would be pretty hard, don't you think? You can't exactly swipe it when no one's looking and disappear into the night.

Not that I'd advocate doing anything that flamboyant. (Hell, I'd never get a yard sign of my own to start with. I don't want my neighbors to know anything about me. My desire for privacy is such that I regularly put on a Reagan mask or Groucho Marx glasses and nose just to get the mail.) My suggestion was to put up a new sign that says "Stealing My Sign Won't Change My Vote." Too confrontational for my parents, but it's also beside the point: They won't settle for anything less than "Obama-Biden '08" in their yard, and have already put up a second sign. How long until this one disappears?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Feel a Whitney Houston Song Coming On...

You see, the cage is symbolic.

While grown-up Mormons living in Utah prove that state boundaries are no match for their all-consuming hatred of non-heterosexuals by eagerly awaiting the opportunity to help quash gay marriage in California, first-graders from the Creative Arts Charter School in San Francisco spent Friday afternoon celebrating the wedding of their lesbian teacher. The children, whose parents supported the field trip to City Hall, threw rose petals at the brides and said things like, "She's a really nice teacher. She's the best. I want her to have a good wedding."

Maybe one of the church elders from Salt Lake City who plans on making phone calls to Californians asking them to vote yes on Proposition 8 could get in touch with these bigotry-free six-year-olds and explain to them why the teacher they're so nuts about shouldn't be allowed to get married. An education is obviously in order here, and these kids seem more than qualified to teach men like L. Whitney Clayton a thing or two.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poli Sci Nerds, Riddle Me This

Can the McCain campaign really expect to capture the Jewish vote in Florida if they keep holding quasi-Klan rallies?

It might also be worth noting that McCain is trying -- and failing -- to connect with Hispanic voters.

When you attack your opponent for his so-called "otherness," when you make his "otherness" an issue in venues packed with angry, mostly white evangelical types, aren't you basically telling every voter who has some "otherness" of his or her own to fuck off? Aren't you also, by extension, telling every voter who doesn't seem like an "other" (whatever that means) but still appreciates "otherness" (rather than fearing it) to fuck off as well? What kind of voter base does that leave you with, other than the dregs of society and, uh, Pat Buchanan?

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