Which One Was the Gay One?

Political cartoonist Chan Lowe writes:

I saw an interview once of an Army veteran from the Deep South who had gone to Vietnam as a young soldier in possession of all the usual cultural prejudices that one would expect. He came back a changed man. “There’s something about being in a unit, knowing that all your lives depend on everyone doing his job,” he said. “You put your life in your buddy’s hands, and he puts his life in yours. You don’t care about what color he is.”

And as far as whether gays can make good warriors, there’s a story about Alexander the Great, who, as legend goes, was gay. His troops were horrified to learn about his lover, who accompanied him on his campaigns as he conquered most of the known world.

What upset them wasn’t that Alexander’s main squeeze was a man; it was that he was a Persian.

So the problem isn’t really gays serving in the military. The problem is with people who have a problem with gays serving in the military.

Read the rest here.

Chan Lowe oChan Lowe

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Jake Shears Expresses Gay Sexuality in Music

Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears has made no secret of his homosexuality, and cover of his new album Night Work features the clenched butt cheeks of a ballet dancer  Peter Reed.  Shears spoke with After Elton about the controversy over the cover and the sexy gayness of the album.

AE: You did a recent interview with BBC where you mentioned your management wasn’t really crazy about your album cover that you fell in love with. Was it the gay part that worried them about that, or would they have reacted to a woman’s backside the same way?
JS:
It wasn’t just the management. It was the band and the record label, too. It was everybody. I had to fight like hell for that picture. I had one of the guys from Universal call me up and tell me it was going to be one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my whole career. He said it with respect and love, and I understand where people are coming from, but I just thought if it was going to pose any challenges for us, then those are challenges we can transcend.

AE: What was the objection to it?
JS:
Possibly that it was too… Using the male form as a sexual object is still kind of taboo in certain ways. Maybe not completely, but there’s something about it that is still hard for some to swallow.

The other thing is people didn’t like it as a black and white image. I got a lot of “Oh, your band is so colorful. You’re so colorful. A black and white image doesn’t represent who you are.” I think it’s a very colorful image. [laughs]

AE: Straight male singers have frequently used their sex appeal to sell albums, but it seems like with this album you’re being one of the first out artist to be as in-your-face about your sex appeal. Between that photo spread you did with French magazine Têtu and the album cover, you’re very much treating your sexuality as something normal, the way any other artist would use their sexuality. As a gay man, I’m looking at this and thinking, “Hey, it’s about time.”
JS:
Yeah, I love it. I love that you’ve picked up on that. I love feeling sexy and being a sexual creature. I felt like on our last album campaign that we’d gotten a little too stuffed-animalish, that we’d become a little bit sexless. When we finished our last tour, I wasn’t feeling extremely sexy. It was important to me to reclaim that sexuality.

AE: Does it mean something special to you to be able to sing a song like “Harder” from a gay perspective, and when you do that, are you aware that even in 2010 that’s still pretty groundbreaking for a major act?
JS:
I don’t know if I’d call it groundbreaking, [laughs] but of course it means a lot to me. I feel like I’m one of the luckiest men in the world. I get to be completely honest about who I am and what I get up to, and sing to a shit load of people, and pass that energy on, and make a living off of it. To me, that’s a pretty profound thing. [laughs]

Yeah, it’s intensely meaningful to be able to not beat around the bush about who I am personally and still speak to so many people. It’s pretty amazing.

AE: That’s what I thought was really interesting about “Into the Light” where you have Ian McKellen doing some spoken dialogue. Here is this great, out band with world wide appeal and who are very frank about who they are, and then you’ve got Ian McKellen who is truly one of the pioneers who helped us get to this place where we are today. Was that a conscious choice? And how did you get to know Ian?
JS:
I got to know him through parties in London. He’s friends with Armistead Maupin, who I’m co-writing the musical Tales of the City for, and he’d come to shows. He’s a fan of the band. He’s a lovely, lovely man. I think it was an unconscious decision. I just knew he’d be perfect for that moment on the record.

But yeah, I definitely think that’s a link between him, and you could even go back to Mapplethorpe again. Ian is a pioneer as far as pushing the gay movement forward, and Mapplethorpe was as well. The model on the cover was a ballet dancer named Peter Reed who died in the mid-80s, and was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful young man.

Ian McKellen is one of the survivors. The two other men were not so lucky. To me, they’re all pioneers. I want this album to be made in their honor. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are. They’re the ones who really opened the door to what we are.

E: That’s what I thought was really interesting about “Into the Light” where you have Ian McKellen doing some spoken dialogue. Here is this great, out band with world wide appeal and who are very frank about who they are, and then you’ve got Ian McKellen who is truly one of the pioneers who helped us get to this place where we are today. Was that a conscious choice? And how did you get to know Ian?

JS: I got to know him through parties in London. He’s friends with Armistead Maupin, who I’m co-writing the musical Tales of the City for, and he’d come to shows. He’s a fan of the band. He’s a lovely, lovely man. I think it was an unconscious decision. I just knew he’d be perfect for that moment on the record.

But yeah, I definitely think that’s a link between him, and you could even go back to Mapplethorpe again. Ian is a pioneer as far as pushing the gay movement forward, and Mapplethorpe was as well. The model on the cover was a ballet dancer named Peter Reed who died in the mid-80s, and was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful young man.

Ian McKellen is one of the survivors. The two other men were not so lucky. To me, they’re all pioneers. I want this album to be made in their honor. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are. They’re the ones who really opened the door to what we are.

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Gay couple sentenced to maximum 14 years in Malawi

BLANTYRE, Malawi – A judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison with hard labor under Malawi’s anti-gay legislation, and crowds jeered the two men as they were driven from the court house to jail Thursday.

The harsh sentence for unnatural acts and gross indecency had been expected after the same judge convicted Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza earlier this week under laws dating from the colonial era. The case has drawn international condemnation and sparked a debate on human rights in this conservative southern African country.

Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner were arrested Dec. 27, the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked — an apparent first in Malawi.

Story continues below ?


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“Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases,” Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa said as he delivered his sentence. “We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies.”

The lawyer for the two, Mauya Msuku, said they would appeal.

Chimbalanga remained composed as armed police officers handcuffed him to Monjeza.

“I am not worried,” he told reporters as they were taken to a police vehicle.

Monjeza broke down upon hearing the ruling and was still sobbing as he was helped into the van.

Hundreds of onlookers inside and outside the court house showed little sympathy. There were shouts of “You got what you deserve!” and “Fourteen years is not enough, they should get 50!”

Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International called the sentence “an outrage.”

Her rights watchdog has adopted Chimbalanga and Monjeza as prisoners of conscience, and would “continue to campaign on this matter and to work tirelessly to see that they are released unconditionally as soon as possible,” Kagari told The Associated Press by telephone from her office in Kampala, Uganda.

Malawi’s government has been defiant in the face of international criticism over the couple’s prosecution.

Betsy Chirambo, an adviser to President Bingu wa Mutharika, expressed concern over calls by some activists for the West to withdraw aid to Malawi because of the case. Up to 40 percent of Malawi’s development budget comes from foreign donors.

“It is not our culture for a man to marry a man,” Chirambo said this week. “That is not even in our constitution. Some of these rights are not good for our culture.”

The government has been backed by religious leaders in the country who have equated homosexuality with Satanism.

But the debate also has emboldened some rights activists in the southern African country. The independent Centre for the Development of People was recently formed by Malawians to fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities.

Gift Trapence, executive director of the Centre for the Development of People, was at the court house Thursday and told reporters: “How can they get 14 years simply for loving one another? Even if they are jailed for 20 years you can’t change their sexuality.”

Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa including Malawi. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill under which homosexuals could be sentenced to life in prison and “repeat offenders” could be executed. Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have raped lesbians.

FMI

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Mickey Mouse Propaganda War Cartoons

You are a thinking man, with your own ideas about the world. Or are you?
The popular media has always been used to create public sentiment.
Here’s the Disney characters teaching Americans to save kitchen fat
so it can be used to make bombs.  I wonder what ideas today’s cartoons push?

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

The great 19th Century American essayist, poet and philosopher apparently had a great love for a boy named, ironically, Martin Gay.  Emerson’s journal over a period of two years record his obsession with the handsome lad and even though Emerson later tried to obliterate all references to this affair, modern editors have been able to salvage enough passages to document this classic case study of adolescent homosexuality.

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Sex in the 1970s Castro

Q. Dear Men4Men, Tell me about gay relationships in those days.  Were there established couples? Today the big focus is (monogamous) marriages.  Was there a groupsex, everyman for himself, coupling norm?

Josh Answers: I don’t know what to say about relationships in those days. Like today, there were those who went from partner to partner, looking purely for sexual gratification and then there were some who sought out only primary relationships. But even that required a few “test drives” so, like now, there was a lot of promiscuity in the gay community. After all, when you have two sexual aggressors pointed at each other there’s a good chance someone’s getting laid. I’ve long been convinced that straight men would be just as promiscuous as gay men are if they could find consenting partners as readily as gay men do. Couples existed then, of course, but they weren’t as opened or obvious about their relationship, the atmosphere still wasn’t one where that was OK. I grew up in Southern California which was probably a lot more liberal than say Iowa, but you still played your cards very close to the vest and only confided in your most trusted friends. And remember in many places it was still illegal and you could be arrested just on the suspicion that you were gay. It’s curious that at that time, as a result of the civil rights movement, discrimination was being banned if you were , black, latino, asian, disabled or female, but it was still OK to beat up a fag (as long as he wasn’t , black, latino, asian , disabled or a female!). Seems that there must always be some group that it’s OK to hate openly. For a very long time that was and in some cases still is the gay community.

Today I think the move towards monogamous, primary relationships is born out of the fear of Aids and any number of incurable, sexually transmitted ailments like Hepatitis C. Then there are families like yours, a Trimary relationship. Although I’ve participated in a three-way occasionally, I never experienced a triad relationship long-term and I’m curious how you make that work. Personally, I’ve abandoned the notion that I’m incomplete without a partner. I’m old and set in my ways and I’m just as happy spanking my own monkey as I would be going to all the trouble of seeking out someone to do it for me. And, frankly, at 60 it’s not the nagging ache it was at 20. What I look for in my relationships is a lack of static. I’m old enough to realize that everyone is different with different needs and desires and I can’t fault them for having theirs if I want to have mine. I don’t expect everyone I know to agree with everything I think or do, but I most appreciate the ones that shut up about it. I find the problem with long-term committed relationships is that the participants view their “other” as a part or extension of themselves and consequently when their partner(s) does something they don’t agree with they feel compelled to rag on them about it which ultimately creates a lot of tension in the relationship. I have had the same companion for nearly a decade. The truth is we started out as fuck buddies and have never had a romantic or intimate relationship. Still we probably have sex more often that many people. Generally we have what we call “physical therapy” about once a week just to ease that “need” that often causes people to make poor decisions in an effort to find sexual relief. And you know it can’t be bad to exercise your prostate occasionally just to keep things moving. We both feel that the lack of exercise is what leads to prostate ailments in older men and we’re determined to avoid at least that harbinger of age. We don’t consider ourselves a couple in the regular sense of the word, although I’m certain it has that appearance to the outside world. But in 10 years we have never had more that an occasional, momentary tiff and very few of those. I think that is because we let each other seek out and find the solutions to our needs in whatever way we need to without feeling guilty that we’re betraying some sacred trust. My definition of true love is wanting for someone else what they want for themselves, even if it doesn’t include you.

Well, somehow I’ve wandered off the path a bit. Wow, that never happened before!?! I hope at least some of this drivel answers a few of your questions.

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Body Talk: You Are Hot!

Body Talk: Men4Men’s Guide to Fitness
By Jonathan Lovitz
Photo by Mark Bradley Miller

Ask any guy why he joins a gym and the answer will always be: “I want to get hot!” Well guys, it’s my pleasure to break it to you: you already are! When I was asked to write these fitness columns I really had no idea where to begin. Do I tell you about what weights are best; what you should be eating; the yummiest protein? No, none of that matters until you look at yourself in the mirror and realize the only person who you need to worry about impressing with your body is you. Don’t worry, I’ll answer all your questions about getting that beach body you’re looking for, but first things first: let’s chat about why we’re going to sweat (oh yes, there will be sweat) to get there.

Each week RuPaul tells her ladies on Drag Race that they’d better remember who really comes first because “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love someone else.” Amen, Ru. Amen.

Listen, body image, like that gorgeous muscle boy you stare at each time you go to the bar, is a bitch. Every ad in every magazine shows us glistening pecs and rippling six-packs that lead us to believe that we’re not worth squat unless we can grate cheese on our stomachs. I’ve traveled to every corner of the United States and met guys of all ages that buy into that load of brilliantly-designed marketing bull. Sure, sex sells, but you’re not a pair of underwear or the swankiest new all-organic-zero-calorie-high-energy cocktail being endorsed by Lance Bass. You are a gorgeous man who is already sexy just because you’ve embraced who you are. Working out, eating right, and keeping your body and brain healthy are what make the wrapping on the present firm and desirable, but it’s the man inside that matters.

I promise there will be no more soapbox speeches about loving yourself, and no, I don’t mean what you do in your spare time. All I want you to think about is who you’re really looking to “get hot” for when you’re working out. If it’s anyone other than you, he’s not worth it. Trust me. It took me a long time to figure that one out, and now that I have I’ve never felt better.

In the coming months I’ll be giving you plenty of tips on building all the muscles you want to work on, all the foods that are best to eat, and all tricks to looking your best no matter what your body type. With my tips you’re going to look and feel the best you’ve ever felt. Just remember that there will always be some guy younger and more fit than you, but he doesn’t have your heart. That’s the sexiest muscle you’ve got!

Let’s get physical!

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Op Ed: Why Men4Men.com

Why Men4Men.com®?

“What a piece of work is man” Hamlet asserts in a sentiment newly vivified by the musical Hair. “How noble in reason.” Surely the phrase refers not only to mankind as a whole, but also to the individual. Complicated though we may be, gay men are certainly a “piece of work.” Contradicted by society, yet mainstreamed into something akin to an ethnic group; lumped together with lbq and t, yet stereotyped as party boy horndogs; seen by anthropologists as uniquely able to serve the greater good, but banned from military service , adoption, marriage and in some countries still simply outlawed – the place of the contemporary gay male seems to be no more certain than before 1969’s Stonewall Riot. Visible, yes …perhaps. But how noble in reason are the after-hours gatherings and online hookup? There is much more to being gay, or bi or straight!

Unlike true “ethnic groups,” most gay boys do not grow up with gay parents. There are no traditional cultural standards that the rest of the family share. A gay boy is alone in his experience – except for other gay men. We learn from each other – sometimes happily, sometimes the hard way – but we learn. Where once we had to lurk in questionable places to find one another, our “culture” has learned to look online for connections. So it has become easy to find gay sex and porn on the internet, but where is that community of truly adult men, sharing and co-operating to forge a healthy gay society? Where does a young “queer boi” go for reliable information, advice and true friendship?

For the Boy Who Was Me
I remember being 13 – hell, lots younger than that – and being full of questions about sexuality and trying to understand my own feelings. It wasn’t easy to sort out when my father informed me that “oral” meant “talking about it” and referred to gay people as being “bent.” Even among supposedly liberal Peace Corps folks it seemed there was still a love that dared not speak its name. The only role model in the mass media was Jodie Dallas of Soap, so I desperately looked for answers in the advice columns of my father’s Penthouse magazines or grandfather’s books like Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask – which assured me that all gay men were cross dressers. Furthermore, you could tell a man was gay because he would watch your lips when you talked instead of looking you in the eye.

Well, I thought, not me! What I was, was… well, I just didn’t know! The word “bisexual” did not even exist for me until high school. The concept of gay love, as in real and meaningful same-sex relationships, practically had to be force fed. It seems no amount of globe trekking can completely erase strong Midwestern roots.
As it turned out, I did fit in to the gay world. If only I had seen the FAQ “I’m gay, now what?” when I was a teen. Men4Men.com® is for that boy, seeking to find his place in our strange “ethnic group.”

For Ira and Josh
Thank God for the freedom of adulthood! Once away from High School and family my own pre-electronic social network grew and at 18 I found two wonderful gay friends. One was twice my age at 36, the other was twice his age at 72. Josh and Ira spent their youthful years in 1970s Castro and 1940s New York City respectively. Their perspectives on life, love and sex were nourishing to my hungry spirit. Josh spoke of a land and time where gay men were brazen, prideful and ran the show. Ira assured me that despite the crazy people in the world everything was going to be all right. This advice helped greatly as life began to heap on challenges perhaps unique to gay men in the 1980s. So it is in their honor that Men4Men.com® carries forth a tradition of social cohesion.

For Jay
My freshman year I had the dubious distinction of being in love with the first poor boy to fall to HIV at my college. At first the school administrators told me not to speak with anyone about it. I thought I was going to die and there was no place to turn for help! But that gave way and in 1987 I helped to organize the first press conference in the State of Florida to address AIDS, attended by Barney Frank, and helped to set up education programs for all USF students. The phrase Silence=Death emerged at that time, and it can be interpreted in many ways.

So many voices have been silenced. An entire generation of role models and other resources have been lost, and Men4Men.com® is also a response to that missing component of our culture.

For Bart
Sadly, it seems that coming out and “mainstreaming” has not been enough to create a healthy gay norm. The media glorifies youth and sex and a party lifestyle that is more fitting with the 90s than current economic and social conditions. For many of us there is a disconnect so egregious that it becomes unbearable. Although he survived everything else, the prospects for a well-off and handsome spirit named Bart seemed overwhelming as he became older and grew away from the supposed “ideal.” In the end he took his own life, a tragedy that might have been averted if there had been a place where he could find support and community. Men4Men.com® is for men like Bart who are looking for more community as we age and change.

For Clayton & Milaine
In rural Michigan a young gay boy was having a bad day prompting his teacher to ask “What’s wrong?”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“It’s about your boyfriend, isn’t it?” Much to Clayton’s surprise, the teacher did understand! “You know,” she continued, “my oldest son is gay, and he has been in a relationship for over twenty years. So I am sure, whatever it is, you can work it out.” Her words helped the young man through his troubles, but later she said “I wish there was a web site I could send him to where he could learn about being gay from people in the community – a safe place that is not just about sex and hook-ups.” Men4Men.com® is just such a place, dedicated to Clayton, his teacher and men and women of all ages who struggle to find their place in a confusing and often unfriendly world. It’s also dedicated to those teachers, family (like my own Mom) and others who want to help their loved ones through their struggles.

For Topher
Men4Men.com® started out as a BBS chat room back in 1992 and the domain name was registered for the BBS operator “Topher.” With the web came much better chat and email, and it looked like Gay.com and other sites would fill the void. Meanwhile, Topher moved away and the domain name Men4Men.com® fell into my lap where it has been held in trust all these years. While it may take the sophistication of a cave man to make money with smut, that easy route was simply not the right one. Now it is time to use the domain to the greatest potential, and so Men4Men.com® is a place for gay men of all ages to communicate, share and grow a healthy community.

For You!

Most of all, Men4Men.com® is for you, dear reader. We hope you will find answers to the questions that you have about sex, relationships, society and your own body and mind. We invite you to share your own thoughts about our articles and essays and help each other to grow and contribute to our queer “ethnic” group.
What kinds of things should Men4Men.com® focus on? That is partially up to you. We welcome bloggers and writers to share their views of the gay world: places, people, ideas and experiences. We welcome you to join the community and engage in an adult discourse – intercourse in its’ highest meaning. Your experiences and your perspectives are important and may just be the words another man needs to hear. Join the conversation at Men4Men.com® and be a part of the community today!

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Gay Culture in the Heyday of Castro

Editor’s Note: With so much ado about Harvey Milk and the Castro hey days, we asked our friend Josh to tell us what it was really like.

Photo: Castro Street Fair 1977

In the pre-Aids era The Castro was a smorgasbord of delights; physical, visual, sexual, even spiritual.  Very few people knew what a rubber was much less used them with any frequency.  Drugs were still a big part of the party scene and the bath houses were guilt palaces of sexual abandon.

I lived in San Francisco in the late 70’s (76-79) and about the time I moved to St. Thomas Aids was just beginning to rear it’s ugly head.  We were hearing about the “gay cancer”, KS, a rare cancer most common in men of Mediterranean  extraction.  No body knew what caused it and certainly no one had a clue as to how to treat it or why it was appearing with alarming frequency in the Gay community.  More than one of my friends fell victim to this horrible disease.  It was a very scary time for everyone, but especially gay men.  My departure from San Francisco, oddly enough, was prompted in part by the same forces that attracted me to the city in the first place.  It was so gay at that time that you were constantly on display, by choice or by circumstance and it was difficult to to accomplish any task in public without getting openly cruised repeatedly.  It became almost intrusive.  Eye candy is one thing, being treated like just another sexual conquest or a piece of meat is quite another.

Fortunately, although I was by no means a prude, I wasn’t big on multiple, totally faceless sexual encounters.  I at least endeavored to know the name of the owner of the dick I was sucking and only occasionally fucked with someone I hoped would remain a stranger. To this day I thank the stars for that discretion and that I left the City when I did or surely I would have joined so many of my friends in a slow and painful demise, ostracized by society in general and shunned by even my own people.  And as much as I may have complained about the sexual isolation of living on a small island in the Caribbean, that fateful decision probably saved my life.

I don’t know how much more I can tell you without responding to specific questions, so feel free to ask if you have any.  Oh, the stories I could tell you!!

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The Anti-Gay Activist and His Hustler

Did you ever think that those who make the most noise are often the ones with the most to hide?  There was a kid at my High School who was a big pain in the side, but then hit on me when nobody was looking.   Well, guess what?  Hypocrisy does not end with adulthood, and Watermark News recently revealed details about “the expert witness hired to defend Florida’s gay adoption ban was caught at the Miami airport returning from a vacation with a rent boy.”

Florida attorney general Bill McCollum paid anti-gay activist and Baptist minister George Alan Rikers and his colleague $87,000 – derived from taxpayer money – to testify that gay people are mentally unstable and unfit to adopt children. Yet somehow a photo of Reker and a hustler named “Geo” at Miami International Airport surfaced in the  Miami New Times.

See what else they flushed up on this stinker at Watermark.

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