Archive for July, 2011


This is a subject that has been of interest to me for some time, and I’ve finally decided to offer some preliminary thoughts on it.  For those of you who don’t know, there is an entire sub-genre of gay porn devoted to the notion of straight men having sex with other men for money.  Now, this seems to raise some very puzzling questions, foremost among them:  are these men really straight or not?  How can you claim to be straight when you have sex with men for money?

As it turns out, a number of these men do claim to be straight, and they cling to that identify quite tenaciously.  For example, Kurt Wild, one of the most prolific amateur porn stars, even has a wife and several children.  Now, of course, there will be those that say that the whole debate can be cleared up by simply saying that these men are clearly bisexual, regardless of whether or not they identify as such.  After all, isn’t that the very definition of someone who has sex with both men and women?  Why is this such an issue in the first place?

Simply put, the reason this is an issue is, in my view, due to the fact that the old tripartite scheme of sexuality (gay, straight, and bisexual), simply does not work in the current sexual culture we inhabit (and perhaps they never really did).  In a world where experimentation and commodification go hand in hand, people just don’t always feel comfortable squeezing themselves into restrictive labels any more.  Now, of course these supposedly straight men do continue to cling to them, but I would argue that they do so precisely because they don’t feel comfortable donning the label “gay” and all of that baggage that comes with it.  Bisexuality has its own set of baggage, mostly consisting of snide remarks such as:  “People aren’t bisexual.  They’re just greedy.”

So, what I’m basically getting at is that the world we live in leaves a lot of room for different kinds of sexualities to flourish.  Now, we can debate the pros and cons of this particular cultural landscape for hours on end (and I’m sure that I’ll get to the eventually).  Whether or not we agree with this fact, however, it is a fact nevertheless.  While there are still plenty of people out there who identify themselves according to the tripartite scheme (such as myself), there are many more that do not, that feel that there are other labels that define them.  Still others feel that no label could adequately confine them nor define who they are sexually.

In the end, it seems that pornography, and the cultural tides that wash over us everyday, are gradually changing the way we think about sexual relations between human beings.  It’s too soon to say what the consequences will be in this new cultural landscape, but one can hope that soon people (read:  religious zealots and their slaves in the government), will pay more attention to important things (like raising the debt ceiling) than about what goes in people’s bedrooms.

We can but hope.

In honour of the fact that so many wonderful LGBT people have been getting married in New York the past couple of days, I’d thought I’d post a few supposed “facts” or beliefs about gay people that I think are just plain stupid.  They’re not listed in any particular order, but they all piss me off in one way or another.

1.  I’m not gay, and I don’t have a problem with gay people, unless they hit on me.  Then I’d probably have to hit them or something.   Where to start with this one.  Although some gay men do get a thrill out of hitting on straight guys (and the same goes for lesbians and straight women), it’s not as if we all set out to seduce straight men (although many websites claim to do just that).  While there is always discomfort with unwanted sexual advances, I hardly think it requires violence.  And, of course, I’m sure those same straight men would have little or no problem making those same unwanted advances on women without seeing anything wrong with that.  Let’s just learn to respect each other’s space and let it go at that.

2.  Love the sinner but hate the sin.  I’m not sure what makes me the angriest about this particular myth, whether it’s the self-righteousness of it or the fact that it makes an assumption about human sexual behaviour that I’m not sure is true.  Basically, this delightful little truism allows Christians the opportunity to pass judgment, without ever pausing to take stock of their own biases, prejudices, and sinful behaviour.  They get to take the moral high-road, while condemning everyone else.  Rather sad, really, but all too common nonetheless.

3.  Disagreeing with gay people has now become against the law, and that goes against my rights.  I’ve already talked about this one before, but I feel it bears repeating.  Just because you have a bigoted belief doesn’t give you the right to enforce that belief on others.  If you want to bash gay people, then do it in the privacy of your own home our Church, rather than out in the open where we have to listen to your misguided and unfortunate ideas.  When your hatred begins to spill out into the public space, then you have to be prepared to face the consequences that your hatred necessarily brings about.

And finally…

4.  Gay marriage should be left up to the states to decide.  The people have a right to decide whether to allow gay marriage to happen.  No, actually, they don’t.  The U.S. Constitution, for better or worse, is the framework of our government and it specifically guarantees equal protection under the law.  Perhaps the “Founding Fathers” would not have liked to see it used to promote gay marriage, but some of them also wouldn’t have liked to see it ban slavery either, yet it most definitely does.  Civil rights are not a states’ rights issue, regardless of whether those rights are for women, people of colour, or members of the LGBT community.  Those basic rights are not a pile of treasure that can be pieced out to the deserving, they are for everyone.

So, there you have it.  Some gay myths and beliefs that are absolute nonsense.  Hopefully, one day in the not too distant future, they’ll be buried in the past where they belong.

The recent demise of Borders has started me thinking about the future of print media.  Is it possible that in another 15 years we may not be reading print books any longer, reliant instead upon e-book readers like the Kindle, Nook, and other similar devices?  While these ways of reading might be fine for some I, for one, still prefer the old tried-and-true method of reading, with a print book in hand.  So, I thought I would list a few of the reasons that I prefer reading a paper and glue book over a digital one.

Tactility-I know this may sound a little silly, but I just like the feel of a book in my hands.  There’s just something about the feel of the book as it rests against my hand, about the act of turning a page (especially the rough-cut pages that you see on many new hardcovers), that I just don’t get when I read a digital book (and I’ve read a few).  Although iBooks comes close to replicating the experience of reading a printed book, it is still, at the end of the day, just a screen.

Sight-I like looking at books.  There, I said it.  When I walk into my library (or a public library, for that matter) and see the rows of books, it gives me a good feeling.  Sometimes I’ll just walk into my library for no other reason than to just take in the sight of the books I’ve collected over the years (divided into categories, of course).  I often walk into bookstores (those few that remain, anyway), for the same reason.

Smell-I know this one might sound a little weird, but I like the smell of books.  Whether it’s the faintly musty smell of old books that have been stored away or the thicker smell that comes from glossy pages (like many books published by Routledge), or the inky smell of new paperbacks, I love them all.  Until they come out with a computer that generate that kind of smell, I’ll never like digital books as much.

Durability-Last but not least, there’s the durability factor.  Sure, electronics are pretty sturdy these days, but what happens if, Heaven forbid, there’s a malfunction in your software that deletes all of your books?  What happens if the Amazon (or Apple, or whatever) software deletes your Library (improbable, I know, but still a possibility).  Well, then, you’re SOL.  However, if you have a regular book, you can easily replace it if, for example, you should drop it in water or engage in some other mishap.  Of course, you could always say that water-crinkled pages are a mark of character, and not even have to replace it at all.

So, there you have it, a little love letter to printed books.  No matter how much my friends and colleagues might say they love their e-reader, I just can’t make myself stop loving regular, plain-old printed books more.  Let’s just hope that that they stick around a while longer.  I really don’t want to have to go completely to digital.

Well, it’s certainly a good time for gay rights activists (of which I am one). In addition to the passage of the bill permitting same-sex marriage in New York, there is now a bill making its way through the United States Congress that will pave the way for both the repeal of DOMA and for the granting of numerous rights to same-sex couples at the federal level. Both of these, in addition to the recent polls suggesting a majority of Americans support various rights for GLBT citizens, gives us a lot of reasons to celebrate.

However, the battle is far from over.

In states all over the Union there are constitutional amendments and laws that bar same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights (and responsibilities, I might add) of straight couples. There are still a lot of people out there, including some very prominent politicians (*cough*Michelle Bachman*cough cough*) who remain wed to the idea of defending “traditional marriage,” whatever that means. If the defeat in California showed us anything, it is that we do not have the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the our victories. We have to keep taking the battle forward, making sure that we are granted the same rights as everyone else.

And one of the fiercest battles we will fight will be against conservatives, who say that they are being persecuted for their beliefs when they say they want to defend marriage. It is a travesty when the democratic principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion are used in the support of beliefs that run counter to those very principles. I am not suggesting that we should take any sort of action to curtail the freedom of religious expression, but there does come a point where that crosses into hate speech, and that cannot be tolerated. Your right to practice your religion (no matter how bigoted or oppressive that religion may be) ends where it interferes with my rights to be with the person I love and want to build my life with. If you don’t want your church to grant same-sex marriages that’s fine, no one is going to force you, but don’t try to stop those churches that do, and most definitely don’t think that you will be able to stem the tide.

The gay rights wave is coming in, and there’s nothing going to stop it.