Ambigu-Gus Van Sant – by James Franco
Gus Van Sant’s first film to be released in theaters was Mala Noche (1985), based on the memoir of the same title by Portland poet Walt Curtis. It depicts Walt as a gay convenience-store employee attracted to a Mexican migrant worker. His most recent film, Milk (2008), portrays the life of gay activist,politician,and martyr Harvey Milk. (I played Harvey’s partner, Scott Smith.) Van Sant has made 11 feature films and a dozen shorts and music videos between these two movies, but only one other feature and one short—My Own Private Idaho (1991) and his segment from Paris, Je T’Aime,“Le Marais,” (2006)—center on gay characters and themes. Despite this lack of explicitly gay-themed films, Van Sant is hailed as one of the foremost gay directors working today. Part of this reputation undoubtedly derives from a desire to claim his high quality and original films for the gay community simply because he is a gay filmmaker. But there is another side to Van Sant’s oeuvre that is neither gay nor straight but subversively queer in its ambiguity. Van Sant inserts this queer sensibility in both gay and straight narratives that then de-centers any clear kind of sexual identity for his work as a whole.
Van Sant’s films embrace both classic Hollywood archetypes and queer cinema styles,usually set in his hometown of Portland, to create a unique amalgamation of trashy-chic timelessness. His characters and themes undermine the notion of fixed identities, experiences, and themes. At his queer best, Van Sant usually is dealing with young people, and seems primarily interested in the young white male: his sexual desires, his talents, but primarily the social pressures upon him. Often his characters are freighted with heavy emotional, economic, or addiction burdens—but they hardly ever struggle with identity. The characters are relaxed about who they are because they are almost invariably cool. Van Sant’s aesthetic is confidently queer in its refusal to categorize, in its overarching hipness of look and subject matter that is both in your face and elusive.
How Jihadists Are Blackmailing, Torturing, and Killing Gay Syrians
Even between the plush sofas and mood lighting of one of Beirut’s hippest bars, Ram shook with fear as he relived his ordeal. He turned his large green eyes from me to the translator and then back to me again, speaking in a low voice, even though we were the only people in the room.
"I think I was targeted for two reasons: because I’m a Druze, and because I’m gay," he said. "They told us, ‘You are all perverts, and we are going to kill you to save the world.’"
Ram’s nightmare, which unfolded on a hot summer’s afternoon in Damascus, forced the then 19-year-old to flee his home for Beirut, with just a few hundred dollars in his pocket. Even in Damascus, the stronghold of Assad’s regime—where the elite still dance and drink cocktails in exclusive nightclubs—society has broken down into a chaotic quagmire where criminal gangs operate with impunity and radical Islamist groups are strengthening their stranglehold.
Maybe it was only a matter of time before Ram was picked out as a target. He is a Druze—a member of the small religious group that makes up just three percent of the Syrian population—and comes from a wealthy family well known for supporting Assad’s regime. From the beginning of the revolution he had known that these things could put him at risk. But his homosexuality was always a secret between him and his gay friends; he never thought that it could finally force him to flee.
"I got a phone call from my friend," he recalled. "He asked me to come over to his house because he’d lost all his money and he needed my help. I could never refuse him anything, so I went there straight away."
But Ram had walked into a trap.
Hallmark Is Taking the Gay Out of Christmas Carols
Hallmark, a chain of stores whose name is shorthand for “bullshit sentimentality for the lowest common denominator,” is selling a Christmas ornament that changes the word “gay” in the Christmas carol “Deck the Halls” to “fun.” The product description does nothing to address taking out the word “gay.” It only adds confusion:
"When it comes to Christmas sweaters, gaudy can be good! Hang up this flashy sweater to make your tree’s outfit complete. With its catchy phrase, Don we now our FUN apparel! everyone will be in on the joke."
I’m not sure what they mean when they say “everyone will be in on the joke.” It’s a really odd choice, actually. Is the joke about ugly sweaters? Because it’s distractingly obvious that the word “gay” has been switched out. Is that part of the joke? That “fun” is code for “gay”? That would be somewhat of a reversal when it comes to how the definition of that word “gay” has progressed. Is the joke that ugly sweaters are flamboyant, and thus “gay,” and now that we’ve changed the word to “fun,” you don’t have to be gay to enjoy them? I’m seriously asking.
Does It Matter That Ronan Farrow Is Gay?
On Sunday, the New York Times published an amusing profile of Ronan Farrow, son of Mia Farrow and either Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra. In a lengthy feature on the Farrow clan in Vanity Fair earlier this month, Mia tantalized readers with the possibility that Ronan is actually the son of Sinatra, her first husband and intermittent lover. In any event, Farrow is a cherubic 25-year-old boy-genius who graduated from Yale Law School at the age of 21, won a Rhodes scholarship, served as a diplomat for the Obama administration, signed a major book deal with Penguin, and is now is hosting a weekday show for MSNBC.
He’s also gay, according to friends of mine who have slept with him, but you wouldn’t know that from reading either Vanity Fair or the New York Times. Why the reticence? Neither publication seems very interested in protecting Farrow’s privacy—the articles reveal bracingly personal details about Farrow and his family, including lurid speculations about paternity and painful references to the drawn-out custody disputes with Allen. Why a veil of secrecy for this particular detail? Is “outing” even a thing that publications worry about anymore?
Wanna Get Gay Married in Oklahoma? Be Part Indian
So the state of Oklahoma won’t let gays get married? Pfft. Technicality.
On October 10, 2013, Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear were issued a marriage license by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe’s courthouse. Both Jason and Darren have Native American heritage, one of their tribal court’s requirements. Additionally, the couple must live within the jurisdiction of the issuing tribe. Even though the tribe’s courthouse is located on Oklahoma land, because of its status as a sovereign territory, it isn’t subject to state law.
Many of the media outlets covering Darren and Jason’s story are making it sound as if the couple of nearly a decade set out to put one over on the Sooner State, reducing the legality of their union to a “loophole.” They didn’t. They just wanted to get married. Imagine that.
A spokesperson for Mary Fallin, the state’s Republican governor, was quick to clarify that Pickel and Black Bear will continue to be treated as any other homosexual couple married out of state. In an email to the LA Times
, she wrote, “They are not recognized by the state of Oklahoma.”
In 2004, a whopping 76 percent
of Oklahoma citizens voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe’s definition of marriage, however, doesn’t specify gender requirements. The council doesn’t award marriage certificates to males and females, but to “Indians.”
So what does this mean for gay people in Oklahoma? Well, it doesn’t mean too much unless you happen to be engaged to a Native American whose tribe administers same-sex marriage licenses. The Black Bears’ situation (Jason plans on taking Darren’s last name) is the latest reminder to all of our DOMA-minded friends that the movement for marriage equality is not going anywhere. Right now, it might be relegated to certain states and Native American tribes, but it’s coming.
VICE: So you guys found the loophole in Oklahoma, huh?
Jason Pickel: No! I keep telling reporters to stop saying loophole. We didn’t find a loophole in Oklahoma. Technically, we’re not even getting married in the state of Oklahoma. I think, in general, a lot of Americans don’t understand the concept of a sovereign nation. It’s not a state; it’s a territory. [The reservation]’s just like DC: it’s not part of Virginia; it’s its own place.
Darren Black Bear: We were getting married so I could get Jason on my insurance. That’s what this began as. It morphed and grew, and turned into a wedding. It went from the Gayly to our tribal paper, then to KOCO-5, then to… the world. It’s crazy how it grew.
Has anything like this happened before?
Jason: Actually we’re the third Native American couple [from the tribe] to be issued a same-sex marriage license. They just didn’t really want to be public and that’s fine. I met them for the first time yesterday.
Gay Geeks Unite Against Homophobia in Videogames
Growing up gay is hard. Growing up geeky—that is, socially awkward and more comfortable around video games, movies, and other works of fiction than people—is no rose garden either. If you are both gay and nerdy, adolescence is a minefield; you may not share interests with the kids in your school’s gay-straight alliance, and you probably won’t feel comfortable calling out any casual homophobic slurs tossed out by your buddies during LAN parties or games of Magic: The Gathering. Even in adulthood, “gaymers” can feel like outsiders in the often ultra-hetero realm of video games. That’s where GaymerX, the first-ever convention for gay geek gamers, comes in.
The event, which took place last weekend at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco’s Japantown, aimed to create a safe place for gaymers to congregate, though you didn’t have to identify with part of the LGBTQ acronym to participate. Organizers—full disclosure: my brother, Matt Conn, runs the thing—also wanted to draw attention to the lack of queer characters in video games and to the industry’s underlying homophobia. “There’s been no advocacy for gay rights in the gaming world,” said Matt. “There are gay and lesbian film festivals and GLAAD and HRC fighting for characters on TV shows. But nothing really for the gaming industry.”
The Best Online Sex Ads Posted from Military Bases in Afghanistan
Despite the fact that military bases are often featured prominently in gay porn, I’ve never imagined there’s a whole lot of sex happening at them, IRL. Getting laid while on duty requires discretion, and propositioning the people you work with on a regular basis is about as sneaky as a Panzer. So you can’t really blame our soldiers (and civilian contractors) for posting dirty ads online complete with sexxxy requests and pictures of their junk. Everyone is looking for some NSA (No Strings Attached) action.
Unfortunately the Great Cock Block from the West, aka the US military, isn’t too happy about our soldiers’ online solicitation. It has become such a problem, in fact, that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has started “tracking service members who are hooking up in the war zone via internet sites,” according toMarine Corps Times. Posting personals isn’t technically against the rules, but in Afghanistan sex between unmarried soldiers is “highly discouraged,” and posting pictures of your junk on the internet is against the Uniform Code of Military Justice (probably because soldiers can’t take one without removing their uniforms, hey-o!).
In the interest of military transparency and boners, let’s take a look at some of the ads our servicemen and women are posting.
This one seems nice and innocent. A grunt on Kandahar Airfield just looking for a nice lady for “conversations.” So puritanical.
After being stuck with 60 guys for nine months straight, this solider just needs some pussy. He’s not real picky, but he claims to have a big dick and he’s going to be at Bagram Airfield for a night. So, ladies, can’t you help a brother out?
Mississippi Police Want to Arrest the Satanists Who Turned the Founder of the Westboro Baptist Church’s Dead Mom Gay
Just over a week ago the Satanic Temple, unwavering disciples of the Prince of Darkness and aspiring adopt-a-highway participants, performed a Pink Mass over the grave of Catherine Idalette Johnston, the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr. Westboro has yet to officially comment on the eternal gaying of its leader’s dead mom, but the owner of the cemetery where the ceremony was performed has filed charges with the local police department. The captain of the Meridian PD, Dean Harper, told local news station WTOK-TV on Monday that they were “in the process of constructing affidavits” and “will have [the satanists] arrested as soon as [they] can.” He added, “It is an unusual crime that we haven’t come across—to my knowledge—in a while.” Lol.
Harper told the Huffington Post today that the original charges of tresspasing, malicious mischief, and indecent exposure (thanks to Lucien teabagging Catherine Johnston’s grave, which can be seen here) have been dropped because “the judge refused to sign a warrant on them.” In the end, Lucien has been charged with desecration of a grave.
I Joined a Bunch of Gay Conversion Groups
The last few months have not been kind to the gay conversion industry. The loudest mouthpiece for the trade, Exodus International, disbanded after the ex-gay ex-president of the organization, Alan Chambers, issued a letter of apology for the “shame,” “false hope,” and “trauma” Exodus caused, which admitted that “reparative therapy” didn’t work. On top of that, the State of California banned the practice for minors and the federal government started recognizing same-sex marriages with the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
To get a better look at the state of the industry before it takes its final bow, I decided to join several gay conversion groups. I am a straight male, however, for the sake of this piece, I presented myself as a malleable young man with a history of homosexual behavior, looking to acquire a taste for female genitalia.
Conversion groups differ in their methods and supposed “causes for homosexuality,” but the one thing they can all agree on is that two dudes doin’ it is totally gross.
SETTING CAPTIVES FREE
The first group I joined was an online one called Setting Captives Free.
It was about 2 AM when I created my account. I was tired, buzzed, and ready to be ungayed.
Setting Captives Free is a 60-day Christian course of reading scripture and answering both personal and religious questions. To help you along the process, members are assigned an email mentor, whose job it is to send daily inspiring emails of salvations and are there 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns.
Day one started with a nice introduction by founder Mike Cleveland and author Shon Bruellman. They informed me, despite what I have been told, I don’t have a “homosexual gene.” In fact, I can be set free “by the way of Jesus Christ and the cross.” I was encouraged to discuss my sexual history with my mentor, but to eschew the graphic because “Satan has received enough glory and attention in our lives.”