Turkey Really Doesn’t Want Gay Men to Have Sex
In Turkey, it just got harder to enjoy a good old-fashioned no-strings-attached hook-up—at least if you’re a gay or bisexual man. Last month the Turkish government banned Grindr, the app that advertises itself as a way to “find gay, bi and curious guys near you” and had 125,000 users in the country.
If you try to access the app now—in the name of research, I tried—a message will appear stating that the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB, by its Turkish acronym) has banned the site “as a protection measure.” Protection, presumably, against men having sex with each other.
Homophobic Killings Won’t Dampen New York’s Gay Pride
Above: Mark Carson
At the end of this month, New York will celebrate its annual gay pride march. But the parties and marches—a moment in the year when the city asserts a stand against discrimination against LGBT people—will be shadowed with an increased police presence and tarnished by the string of recent hate crimes that prompted that presence. The most notorious of those recent crimes being the murder of 32-year-old Mark Carson last month in the city’s apparently gay-friendly Greenwich Village.
“Look at you gay faggots, you look like wrestlers,” is a snippet of the homophobic tirade aimed at Mark Carson before his killer, 33-year-old Elliot Morales, aimed his revolver at the Brooklyn resident’s cheek and shot him point blank. The wrestler comment is a little confusing, but then so is homophobia in a supposedly progressive country where around 11.7 million people are openly gay.
I called up New York writer and activist Darnell Moore to speak about Carson’s death, the rising homophobia in New York, and where the future lies for gay tolerance in the city. Moore is a co-managing editor of The Feminist Wire and currently a visiting scholar at the Institute on Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. He was also the inaugural Chair of the city of Newark, New Jersey’s LGBT Concerns Advisory Board and, like Mark Carson, black, gay, and from Brooklyn.
VICE: Following Mark Carson’s death, what’s the mood right now in New York’s gay community?
Darnell Moore: People are angry. Marches, rallies, and protests have been planned. Christine Quinn—our City Council president, who happens to be a lesbian—organized a rally in response about three days after Mark was murdered. It was estimated that 1,500 people attended. The day after he was murdered, residents from the neighborhood held a silent vigil on the corner. People are raising their voices. That’s generally the mood right now.
With Mark Carson being African American, do you feel especially connected to this story, being both black and gay in New York yourself?
I do. But the questions that came to mind as I stood at the rally were: Would this protest be taking place if Mark Carson wasn’t gay? What if we didn’t know his sexual identity and he was murdered in the same gay, queer part of the city? Would people still be angry? Black young men are dying all the time in New York. We’re not only dying, but we’re being stopped and frisked by police officers. We are the majority of the people being locked up within the prison system. And it seems like there doesn’t appear to be a public outcry. Moments like this really remind me that sometimes we are so invested in the sexual identity of individuals that we forget all the other parts that define them.
Yeah, it seems that when there’s a homophobic crime on a black man in New York, it receives so much more attention. For example, the Michael Sandy case in 2006.
Yes, the “gay” aspect of the victims’ identities seems to make both cases exceptional to some. Black death is mundane. It’s common. And I think that’s problematic. It’s problematic, one, when anybody is murdered, whether it’s a hate crime perpetrated because of someone’s sexual identity or race. Any crime that results in the death of someone should similarly provoke people. All of the folk who showed up to Mark’s memorial should also show up to a protest if any non-gay identified black man in New York City was shot down.
Protesting Against Gay Pride Was Super Boring
This past weekend was the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade, and as always with large-scale gay events, a group of antigay Christians turned up to yell at everybody. I spent the day with them.
The day got off to a pretty miserable start, with the guy with the mic screaming, “You’re a wicked, evil, twisted abomination! You deserve AIDS!” at this old man.
Then this lone counterprotester showed up.
His sign read “St. Paul was a closet case” and he was shouting a bunch of stuff at them about pork: “Why don’t you get a fucking life you pork-eating fucking pigs, I hope the Muslims blow you motherfuckers up and you burn in hell you fucking pigs.”
The curse words seemed to genuinely upset the anti-gays. One of them started shouting, “There’s laws against cussing in public! It’s illegal for you to say the F word to me!”
Then the police came over and broke it up, making the counterprotester go and protest from the end of the block.
Then the second group of counterprotesters arrived. These guys had giant rainbow flags that they held up in front of the antigay protest to block them from the view of anyone marching in the parade.
Even though they’d only been there for about 30 minutes, the majority of the protesters seemed pretty bored by that point. I got to chatting with this lady.
She told me that her name was Angela, and that she liked my shirt. I almost reciprocated the compliment out of politeness, but then I realized that her shirt said “REPENT FOR JESUS” and stopped myself.
Loving Gay Couples in Vietnam
Three months ago, about a 100 bike-riding homosexuals pedaled through Hanoi in what would come to be seen as the Vietnamese capital’s first ever gay pride parade. Not too many eyebrows were raised by that, at least in our little Western corner of the world; I guess we all thought it was about time those guys on the other side finally celebrated the wonders of crossing swords. What should cause a stir is that only one day after the parade, rumors began to circulate that the Vietnamese government was considering the legalization of same-sex marriage. Considering that Vietnam is still operating under a communist regime, this is sort of newsworthy, don’t you think?
I thought so, which is why I got in touch with photographer Maika Elan, who spent last year photographing Vietnam’s gay couples in their most intimate moments for her photo series The Pink Choice. She sort of stood me up on the day of the interview, but that’s OK because she’s the sweetest Vietnamese with a mushroom haircut I’ve ever met.
VICE: Hey Maika, why did you stand me up?
Maika Elan: Hi, I’m really sorry. I got up this morning to go to the UK Embassy and sort out a visa—I’m visiting in a few days to prepare for an exhibition—and ended up spending the whole day there. Which I should have expected but anyway…
OK, I hate bureaucracy too, so I forgive you. Tell me about your project involving gay people in Vietnam. Why is that an important enough subject to photograph so extensively?
In Vietnam, there is talk of legalizing gay marriage. This would make Vietnam the first Asian country to do so, so it’s a big deal, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. People like to say they are open-minded, but they don’t act like it. For example, every time a story about a gay couple is in the press or on TV, either their faces are blurred or they pose with their backs to the camera. And those stories almost always have to do with drugs, AIDS, or some sort of sexual scandal. When it comes to movies, homosexuals are either idealized or, again, presented as sexual deviants. You never see the actual people. You don’t see that they are real people. I thought it’d be nice to change that.
The VICE Guide to Being Trans
We’ve had a gay guide and a lesbian guide already, so in an effort to include the entire LGBT spectrum, we got our friend Paris (pictured above) to write a transgender guide. Bisexuals, you’re just gonna have to read the gay guide and the lesbian guide and combine them in your head. Sorry.
“Transgender” is like a really extreme form of gay. I turned gay back in 2003 just to be different, and although it upset my family, it wasn’t quite different enough, so I thought I’d get some surgery and shit to really fuck with everyone. Most people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when it comes to transgender issues, but that doesn’t stop them from talking about them, so I figured I’d weigh in and compile a list too. Oh, and this came after VICE’s gay and lesbian guides because trans people are an insignificant and embarrassing addition to the LGBT community and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’m a trans girl, BTW. So this is a guide to being a trans girl, really. Sorry trans boys, you’ll have to make your own guide. I can’t carry us all.
A - Androgyny
You know how when girls wear blouses that are clearly designed for girls but look a teeny tiny little bit boyish and the privileged twats at Vogue call it androgyny? It’s not that. Only trans people, Teletubbies, and about four 80s pop stars can really pull off androgyny. Androgyny can be a mix of male and female markers, or a lack of both. Tits and a dick? Androgyny! Referring to transsexual models like Givenchy hottie Lea T, who is now a woman, as androgynous? Not androgyny!
Honorable mentions: April Ashley (Google her); acid (the drug—it eases the pain); attention seeking; acid (like the kind in batteries that sometimes gets thrown in our faces).
B - Butt Sex
Seriously, who needs a vagina when you can just leave the back door open?
Honorable mentions: Chaz Bono; blow jobs; Birdo from Mario.
C - Cock and Cunt
Would make a great bar name. You probably wouldn’t be able to call a bar that though because it’s rude. Rude like the way people ask trans people about our cocks and our cunts as though they were fitted kitchens, or conservatories. (“Sue, tell me, have you had yours done yet?”) Though genital surgery is an important part of many people’s transitions, it’s really just a private medical matter. I wouldn’t ask you if you’re circumcized, or if your vagina is an innie or an outie. If you ask someone about their cock, you’re a cock.
Honorable mentions: Changing your outfit 20 times before you leave the house and twice outside the house; camp.
D - Drag
Drag is a gateway drug, kids. So be careful when you’re planning your next hilarious shenanigans. One minute you’re having the time of your life, dancing around in a cheap party wig—the next your snorting estrogen off the back of a toilet seat. Seriously, it happened to me.
Honorable mentions: Dicks, daddy issues, drama, Dana International.
E - Everything Is So Fucking Hard, Even Buying Milk and Snickers Bars and Chewing Gum
Let’s face it, life is tough. And everything’s worse when you’re trans. EVERYTHING. If you don’t believe me, fellas, try cross-dressing and heading out to work. On the subway. Followed by dinner. If you’re lucky, you’ll just get laughed at all day. If you’re unlucky, maybe you’ll get raped or beaten or murdered. Maybe all three, as is way, WAY too common for those of us who don’t “pass.” Statistically, trans-folk are way likelier to be homeless, sex workers, mentally ill, and to commit suicide, too. Which is a pretty big bummer.
There’s one thing worse than being a transsexual, and that’s being an old transsexual. Avoid it. Many trans people transition in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s and beyond after a lifetime of trying to conform. These people are legends and deserve Really Sticking with it When You Really Don’t Want to Awards. Which should definitely be a thing.
Honorable mentions: Es, ear piercings.
F - Faking It
As we tend to have a few tricks up our sleeves when it comes to making our bodies appear how we feel inside (ie jelly boobs), trans ladies are seen as deceptive. Which is kind of harsh, considering the lies that are told about us. It seems the majority of the general population thinks of trans people as being monsters. No smiling at kids on buses for you, trans lady. The idea that all trans people are perverts gets us banned from top jobs like rape counselling or working with children, but really it’s US who should be afraid of YOU, non-trans people! Seriously, stop harassing us by lifting our skirts up in public, pulling our tops down, grabbing our crotches, and trying to find out what bits we’ve got.
And if you feel uncomfortable around us, the stats show that we’re way, way more likely to be killed by you than you are by us. So let’s not get it twisted.
Honorable mentions: Fannies; foofs; fuck-holes; family; fear of aging.
G - Gossip
You’re in a bar. One minute you’re chatting to the man of your dreams (Man A), and the next he’s got some guy (Man B) whispering in his ear: “Man, you know that girl? She used to be a guy!” I have seen two responses to this; the first is Man A telling Man B to fuck off and that it’s none of his business (unlikely). This leaves you feeling irked, but all-in-all, triumphant. The second is when Man A thanks Man B profusely (even if he knew anyway, cunt) and joins him for a drink to jointly laugh at you from the other side of the bar. Which leaves you feeling, all-in-all, like a speck of shit (way more likely).
Honorable mentions: gays, gal pals.
H - Harry Benjamin Disorder Sufferers
Transsexualism was first classified as a medical condition by a surgeon called Harry Benjamin. Today, rather than calling it plain old transsexualism, some trans women like to tell people that they are suffering from Harry Benjamin Disorder. These “classic” transsexuals see themselves as special; better and more female than other trans women, and more female than anyone, actually. They will kill you if you try to shelter them under your cozy transgender umbrella. So make sure to leave them out in the rain.
Honorable mentions: Hope; hermaphrodites; Honor Blackman; hormone therapy.
LESBIANS NO LONGER: A TRANSGENDER TRIP INTO HETERONORMALITY
On the roof deck of their Williamsburg apartment, discussing which herbs and vegetables to plant this year, and which of last year’s plants might be salvageable, Sadie sits cross-legged and sips a beer while Marco cleans and lights the grill. Sadie, wearing a short, fitted dress, asks, “Honey, do we have enough coal?” in that singsong voice girlfriends sometimes use to cloak skepticism as supportiveness.
“I’ll figure it out,” Marco answers, speaking more to the small fire he is tending than to Sadie.
His hair is cropped short, and his voice has deepened from the hormone therapy.
The fire going, small but consistent, the chicken on the grill, Marco joins us at the table.
“Men get treated like shit,” he says. “I mean, I know women get treated like shit all the time. But like, when you’re a man, people just bump into you all over the place. You have to hold doors, but nobody says thank you. And you don’t get compliments, ever.”
“Yeah,” Sadie chimes in, “girls are always telling each other, ‘oh honey you look great! I love your dress! Did you cut your hair?’”
“Yeah,” says Marco, taking a sip of his beer. “None of that.”
“And the handshake really threw me at first,” he adds. “Women shake each other’s hands like this.”
He stands up to demonstrate and shakes my hand in a calm, casual manner.
“But men,” he continues, “do it like this.”
He grabs my hand, jerks it toward him and squeezes my fingers together with a crazed scowl on his face. We all laugh at the exaggeration that was, while a little ridiculous, not far from the truth.
It was the little things that tripped him up, he explains, but he is getting used to it. Sadie’s working on getting used to it, too.
Sadie calls herself a failed lesbian. She’s had sex with three women in her life, and all three of them are now in various stages of becoming men. This includes her partner of two and a half years. When Sadie fell in love with Marco, he was a woman named Erica.
One of the great things about the hottest club in any town these days is that gay people are welcome. But with acceptance comes responsibility, and over the years homosexual partiers, like a bunch of hard-drinking Emily Posts, have had to learn the ins-and-outs of how to behave in a mostly-straight environment without pissing anyone off. It’s a straight man’s world, we’re just livin’ in it.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for straight people when attending a gay watering hole with their same-sex loving friends. We love having straight people hang out with us, we really do, but I’m going to break down the rules for the breeders who forget how to behave when there is a rainbow flag on the wall. For our purposes we’ll be talking about gay male bars, since lesbian bars, like pandas in the wild and good female acoustic folk acts, are harder and harder to find these days.
Your Vagina Has No Power Here
This is the most important lesson for all ladies to know before they step foot in a queer establishment (unless, of course, it is the fabled lesbian bar). Women are used to being let into clubs first, not having to pay a cover, served at the bar quickly, and basically allowed to do whatever the hell they want to do in straight bars. That’s because if there were no women, men wouldn’t spend money to get them fucked up and try to sleep with them. Everyone is catering to open the velvet ropes between a woman’s thighs. It is exactly the opposite in a gay bar. Women, while fun to have around, are practically invisible at a gay party. They have to wait for the one tiny restroom (which has probably been co-opted by boys and drag queens anyway), they don’t get to annoy the DJ to request songs, and the (probably shirtless) bartender is going to take their order last. Congrats, ladies, this is how men feel in straight bars. Now, you need to get used to it, no throwing fits and bitching and moaning because no one is going to put you on a pedestal (or let you dance on a go-go platform). Just deal with it for one night. You’re still pretty and special, even though no one is buying a drink and inviting you to the VIP room. No one wants to fuck you here, so you’re going to need to get the fuck over yourselves.
Lowering the Bar
Remember when I said we love it when straight people come to our bars? Well, that’s not always true. There are some bars we don’t want you to go to. They are usually bars where boys go late at night to make out with strangers and engage in a little slap and tickle in a dark corner. Do not go there. No matter what your friends say, there is no place for you at the Cock, or any establishment that is named after the male genitalia or something incredibly masculine like Rawhide, Truck, or Woody’s. Boys who like boys are going there to get laid, and babysitting straight people is not conducive to scoring dick. When your friends show up there, it’s time to go get a piece of pizza and hail a cab home. Also, leave anyplace called The Eagle alone, unless you really want to see a bunch of bears in harnesses and other leather gear giving you the stank eye while grinding each others’ jock straps.