Maybe We Should’t Be So Quick to Idolize a Gay-Bashing Skateboarder
Jay Adams, a guy who had really good balance on his skateboard and, as a member of the Z-Boys, helped to define skating as we know it, died from a heart attack on Thursday while vacationing in Mexico. Although he lived most of his life outside the spotlight, he was brought into mainstream consciousness in 2001 thanks to the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and then again in 2005, when he was portrayed by Emile Hirsch in Lords of Dogtown. Adams’s death was picked up by most major news outlets, almost all of which used the words “legend” or “legendary” in their headlines and went on to describe him as a bad boy who pushed the sport away from dance-y, ballerina-style contests and into the more aggressive street and pool skating that birthed modern-day skateboarding. Less discussed was the gay-bashing Adams initiated in Los Angeles that left a man dead.
While I appreciate Adams’s contribution to skateboarding as much as the next guy, it seems odd that virtually every obituary published over the last four days has glossed over or completely failed to mention that one time in 1982 when he helped kill a guy. Adams, describing the incident toJuice magazine in 2000, said, “After a show at the Starwood we went to a place called the Okiedogs and two homosexual guys walked by and I started a fight.” One of those homosexuals was named Dan Bradbury, and, as mentioned above, was killed in the brawl. Although Adams was charged with murder, he claimed that he had left the fight by the time the man died, and was convicted of felony assault. He served just six months in prison.
Scanning through the barrage of celebratory obituaries, one could be forgiven for missing that rather large blemish on Adams’s resume.
The initial New York Times obituary on his death failed to mention that Adams, who, as their headline says, “changed skateboarding into something radical,” participated in what looks an awful lot like a hate crime a few decades ago. A more in-depth follow-up story published Sunday with the title “In Empty Pools, Sport’s Pioneer Found a Way to Make a Splash” devotes one sentence to it: “In 1982 he was convicted of felony assault for involvement in the stomping death of a gay man at a concert in Hollywood.” The Associated Press acknowledged the incident in which the “colorful rebel” started a fight and then helped beat a gay man to death by writing, “At the height of his fame in the early 1980s, Adams was convicted of felony assault, launching a string of prison stints over the next 24 years”—with no mention of the fact that the victim was a gay man, or that he died as a result. The Los Angeles Times, who called Adams “legendary” and “one of the edgy Z-boys of the sport,” devoted one sentence to the incident, also with no mention of the fact that Bradbury was gay, summing it up neatly: “He served six months for his involvement in a fight in Hollywood that resulted a man’s death.” [sic]
In Jamaica, attacks, murder and rape are common occurrences against LGBTI people, with little to no retribution or justice brought against those responsible. After being forced from shacks, derelict buildings, and their own families, many homeless LGBTI Jamaicans have found refuge in the storm drainage systems of Kingston—known locally as the “gully.”
For trans girls and gay men unable or unwilling to hide their sexuality, the sense of community and relative safety the gully provides acts as a welcome sanctuary, and for many, a hope of change to come. VICE News traveled to the New Kingston area to see what LGBTI life is like in Jamaica—where just being who you are can mean living a life underground.
Meet the Pier Kids: The Homeless LGBT Youth of New York City
If you’re gay in New York City, you’ve probably been to Christopher Street in the West Village to get drunk or visit the historic-landmark-turned-gay-tourist-trap known as the Stonewall Inn. Chances are that you’ve also seen what director Elegance Bratton calls the “pier kids”—the homeless LGBT youth who congregate at the Christopher Street Pier, looking for everything from food to drugs to potential johns. According to statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless, 20 percent of homeless youth are gay or transgender (roughly 320,000 to 400,000 young people according to one conservative estimate).
Filmmaker Elegance Bratton was one of these kids for ten years. To teach his family about his experience, he has spent three years filming the lives of three homeless kids—Krystal, DeSean, and Casper—for a documentary called Pier Kids: The Life. Recently, I went to the pier to sit down and talk to Krystal, one the film’s stars, about the movie, the Christopher Street Pier, and being homeless in New York City.
VICE: How did you end up homeless in New York? Krystal: It was a choice between going back to Las Vegas or staying in Philadelphia. I went to my brother’s house in Philadelphia after being kicked out of the house at 16 by my mother. After I had spent six months there—he had a family, and I didn’t want to impose my lifestyle on his kids—I just went out on my own after that. After two or three years, I came to New York City and found the pier.
Once you arrived in New York, how did you discover the pier and Christopher Street? I had heard about some of the history about the riots, but I never really knew what the street was. But when I got here, I went to the food stamp office, and they gave me a pamphlet that told me that there was an LGBT community center that had programs. Some of the kids there said they were going to the pier after some of the support groups, so I went with them. It gave me a sense of being back on the west coast, with the water and people just hanging out, playing Spades and talking to friends, just finding some sense of normalcy in a situation that wasn’t normal.
Christopher Isherwood and His Twink: How to Date a Gay Novelist Who Is Older Than Your Dad
When I was 25, I moved to Berlin with a beat-up copy of Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories tucked in my bag. Like many hobosexuals and fagabonds before me, I considered the book a lodestone, a guide to transmuting aimless searching and polymorphous desire into meaningful experiences. So when I heard that Farrar, Straus, and Giroux was releasing The Animals,a collection of the letters of Isherwood and his longtime lover, artist Don Bachardy,I knew I had to read it.
Bachardy met Isherwood when he was 18 and Isherwood was 48 (a year older than Bachardy’s own father). Despite the age difference, the couple spent the next 33 years together. Though love affairs and artistic exploits frequently sent them ricocheting around the world, they maintained a deep and unbreakable connection. They expressed this affection (and frustration) through “the Animals,” personae the two adopted in their letters. Bachardy acted as Kitty and Isherwood called himself Dobbin, Kitty’s faithful horse.
Bachardy, now 80, still lives in the house the couple shared in Santa Monica. Shaking with faggoty fan boy excitement, I called Bachardy to discuss The Animals and what it’s like dating a famous old man who was older than his dad.
VICE: How did your letters become a book? Don Bachardy: It was my idea. I’d saved all of Chris’s letters, and after his death, I found that he’d saved all of mine. Reading through them just made me think the material was too good not to share it with others. There’s almost nothing, no letter in the book, that is missing, except one, though I can’t remember now where in the sequence it is.
Did you ever discuss publishing something like this with Chris before he died? No, no, no. And the animals at the time would have been horrified at the suggestion that they would ever be revealed and their letters [would be] published in a book. They would have been quite shocked by such an idea.
What changed your thinking? I came across both sets of letters and it was very strange reading them again, but interesting too. There were even some laughs in the material, our attempts to entertain each other. There were things I would have liked to have changed—would have changed if I could—but then it’s always a mistake to tamper with any mementos of the past.
Inside the 2014 International Mr. Leather Conference
This year’s 36th annual International Mr. Leather conference drew a diverse contingency of leathermen and leatherwomen to the city of Chicago. An estimated 20,000 visitors participated in the annual gathering’s events, and while it’s generally considered a conference for leather, latex, and kink, the weekend’s festivities culminate in two contests: International Mr. Leather, and the International Bootblack Competition.
In the last two months, Facebook has blocked me from posting at least three times. I wasn’t banned for using racial epithets or putting up graphic porn—anonymous administrators kicked me off the world’s most popular social media site because I said “faggot.”
I don’t remember how many times I’ve been blocked—I am a well-documented faggot, and I occasionally jokingly refer to myself or my gay friends as faggots, the same way some blacks use the N-word and gay activists used queer in the early 90s. At the end of April, I called my friend Gabriel a fag in the comments section of a link I had posted and he liked my comment. We do that sort of thing all the time, but within a few hours, Facebook blocked me from posting for seven days.
I can understand why Facebook would block a heterosexual who said faggot—at Catholic school, straight boys used the word to make fun of me on the playground nearly every day—but Gabriel and I always use the homophobic slur in a joking or prideful way, robbing it of its harmful meaning. The first time I got banned for using the term, I assumed some sort of hate speech–detecting algorithm had mistaken me for a hetero, but then I remembered Facebook regularly shows me HIV ads targeted at gay men. Zuckerberg and company know my sexual preference—I even say I like boys on my profile.
After I got banned that time, I decided to find out how Facebook decides who gets blocked for saying faggot. The social network’s terms page is vague about this topic: You can’t “bully, intimidate, or harass” anyone or post “hate speech.”
People are still having sex. Paid sex. Drugs sex. Gay sex. And they love it. It’s happening every day, week, and month, possibly on the other side of that wall right next to you. Which is pretty exciting. You may have heard that British gays went drearily mainstream this past week after winning the right to marry each other by massaging powerful Conservatives into thinking queer rights are part of the Tory ideology. Apparently, Peter Tatchell had to work on David Cameron for quite some time before he finally came through. “I had to pump Tory members of Parliament—with facts and opinion-poll results showing majority support for same-sex civil marriage,” he told me.
Wonderful progress, of course, yet despite the jacket of respectability society will now lend to monogamous gay couples, many people are clearly still ashamed about their desire for hot, gay sex—a shame that penetrates visceral depths well beyond the reach of even the largest dildos. As horny as it may be to imagine hot guys guiltily jacking off to pics of other hot guys, I want to know: Why the shame? What’s so wrong with one man putting his lips around another man’s penis? I don’t want to generalize or anything—trust me, I hang out with sluts of every sexual persuasion—BUT I KNOW PEOPLE WHO LIVE FOR THAT SHIT. Because sex is fun. And gay sex is super fun. If you’re gay. Sometimes, even if you’re not. In fact, your mom is probably doing some hot, gay sex now. It’s all cool.
Getting Drunk and Crying at One of Britain’s First Gay Weddings
How has it taken so long for gay wedding to become legal in the UK? Weddings are great; they’re an affirmation of our ability to love one another and a legitimate space for adults to do the Macarena. But for many, the passing of the law allowing gay couples to marry, which went into effect at midnight on Saturday, isn’t about weddings, it’s about the principle that gay people should be allowed to do everything that straight people can do—which should be a basic human right.
Sadly, it’s not. Being gay is still illegal in over 70 countries, and while the UK is making progress, a recent BBC survey found that a fifth of British people would turn down an invitation to a same-sex wedding. On Friday night, I went to one of the first gay weddings in the UK to find out what kind of fun these bigots are missing out on.
I Wore a Latex Diaper to a Strip Club So I Could Come While Receiving a Lap Dance
I’ve never jizzed while receiving a lap dance, but apparently this happens a lot to other men. In Las Vegas, Nevada, a few bros were so worried about splooging their underwear that they invented “the Liquid Lapdance,” which is essentially a cum diaper.
“It started because my buddies and I would go to the strip club, and one of my buddies didn’t like to get dances. He said that they hurt him. That’s how we started coming up with how we could make dances better,” Reg, one of Liquid Lapdance’s inventors, told me. “The rubbing [part of lap dances] hurt my buddy’s sensitive skin.”
Hence Reg and his friends designed the Liquid Lapdance to give men more comfortable lap dance experiences and hope the device will also help men cream. “We don’t consider [ejaculating while receiving a lap dance] to be a problem,” Reg said. “We consider that the point of a lap dance.”
I didn’t understand any of this. Lap dances are never “dry” at gay strip clubs. At Johnny’s in Fort Lauderdale, I have seen strippers rim each other on stage, and every time I have paid for a lap dance, I ended up naked in a back room with a stripper. Why would anyone ejaculate—or want to ejaculate—from a bare-bones lap dance that didn’t even come with a rimjob?
“I was told to help the gang beat them up and [steal] their stuff,” he says. The gang shouted “fucking homo cunts” as they laid into the couple. Ty tears up as he tells me how ashamed he was, so much so that he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror for more than a week. “If I saw them again, I’d want to apologize—I did it because I was scared, probably because that could have happened to me. It could still happen to me.”