Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Valerie Harper Cancer Miracle; Matt Bomer Married; Shakespeare Gay?; Anti-Gay Words

Valerie Harper Cancer Miracle

I think almost everyone I know over thirty has had to deal with cancer in one form or another, from personal experience to dealing with family or friends who've been diagnosed. Tony and I will be at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York  all day tomorrow and Friday while a family member has a third round of cancer surgery, and then helping out another family member over the weekend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. So when I see articles like this one about Valerie Harper and how hard she fights I think it's important to point them out.

When I read and reviewed Harper's book in 2013 I also posted about her cancer diagnosis.

After being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Valerie Harper was told by doctors that she could have as little as three months to live. That was 13 months ago. Now, Valerie is talking about her miraculous treatment with ET.

"There's so much more I want to do and you are right there with me, ET," said Valerie, 74. "I am not suffering. I am not in pain, so I'm really blessed."

Valerie's type of cancer is difficult to treat but fortunately she's reacted positively to her medicine.
"I just had a great response to a certain drug," Valerie explained. "I was supposed to be dead by Easter [2013]."

You can read more here. I think she's another example of pure inspiration.

Matt Bomer Married

I actually just assumed this was the case, and that Bomer was married to his longtime partner/husband, Simon Halls. But it wasn't officially announced until recently that Bomer and Halls were married in 2011 before Bomer came out.

The star of TV's White Collar and of the upcoming HBO movie The Normal Heart has revealed that he and longtime partner Simon Halls have been married since 2011 to Details magazine.

The couple are raising three sons: an eight-year-old and six-year-old twins.

The fact that he didn't disclose this sooner doesn't surprise me either. Even though we wound up in a marriage documentary with Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson marrying us, that was all an accident. Tony and I wanted to keep it all very quiet and simple. We've been together for twenty-one years and after all that time it becomes a very personal experience.

There's more here.

Shakespeare Gay?

I remember hearing these things back in college...maybe even high school when I took British lit. And I think we'll always speculate on whether or not Shakespeare was gay or bi-sexual. This article lists twelve possible reasons that might prove he was.

What can we know about Shakespeare’s relationship to Anne Hathaway, an older woman, who he married and had three children with? Well, very little.

The two married when Shakespeare was 18, she was 26 and already pregnant with their first child Susanna. Most famously, when he died, Shakespeare gave her only one thing - the second best bed.

This is viewed by many as a slight and a claim of how he had come to dislike her, viewing the marriage as a trap away from his free life in London.

To be frank, none of the points mentioned seem very strong to me. But they're still interesting to read.

Anti-Gay Words

I have posted about the word "tranny" often, as it relates as both a familiar term within a segment of the LGBT community and also an offensive term in other segments of the LGBT community. The debate continues. (I don't use it.)And this next link talks about what words are appropriate or inappropriate nowadays. I saw a new romance novel out with "queen" in the title and even though I know it's a word many gay men use when referring to each other I'm not sure I would ever title a book with the word "queen." If I were to use it in a book I would explain that this is only how some gay men speak, not all. It's not that I find it offensive. I just think it's had its day.

The interesting thing is that with almost all of these words and terms there are two sides to the story.

 In last month’s New York Time’s article The Decline of the ‘H’ Word Jeremy Peters wrote that while the word ‘homosexual’ for the most part is ‘inoffensive,’ ‘outdated,’ and perhaps ‘innocuous,’ the word nonetheless is viewed by many in our LGBTI community as a pejorative term.

According to George P Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the UC, Berkeley, because many still associate the word ‘homosexual’ with sexual deviance, the preferred terms are ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’.

I find it hard to use the word "homosexual" in blog posts or even in books. In fact, I don't think I've used it more than once in over 100 novels. I really do find it hard to use because it does have negative associations for me, and it's also somewhat clinical...a term straight people use when they don't know what else to say because the word "gay" makes them feel uncomfortable.

In any event, you can read more here. There are several important points, and all come with a certain amount of controversy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mean Girls Gay; US Anti-Sodomy Laws

Mean Girls Gay

The actor who played a gay part in the classic Mean Girls film, Daniel Franzese,  recently came out in real life. Mean Girls is having a tenth anniversary this year and he wrote an open letter to his character. I kind of like that. Not the mean girls. The movie was great, but mean girls suck. I like that he came out in his own way, on his own terms, and in a way in which he felt comfortable.

He wrote in a letter published by IndieWire: 'You were proud of who you were; I was an insecure actor. You became an iconic character that people looked up to; I wished I’d had you as a role model when I was younger. I might've been easier to be gay growing up.'

That's powerful. Most gay men can identify with that. I recently was informed by a middle aged gay man still in the closet (married with kids) that he can't e-mail me for a while because he's afraid someone might find out he's gay through e-mails. The paranoia and denial always sets in sooner or later. He contacted me as a reader about two years ago and ever since then we've shared harmless e-mails about life, family, gardening, weather, and all kinds of things. I get e-mails from a lot of closeted gay men who aren't sure what to do, but I don't always get friendly with them. I'll miss this guy's e-mails. But I can't push him to come out and I can't fault him for not coming out. The best I can do is offer support.

You can read more here.

US Anti-Sodomy Laws

I would think most people are like me and they didn't know this. It's been 10 years since SCOTUS ruled that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional, and yet 12 states still have them. I sincerely hope this does NOT portend the future of gay marriage in some states. Tony and I have talked about it at length and if PA doesn't legalize gay marriage within the next year or two we're listing the house and moving one mile away to New Jersey where it is legal.

Of 14 states that had anti-sodomy laws, only Montana and Virginia have repealed theirs since the Supreme Court ruling, said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights organization.

Warbelow says that in addition to Louisiana, anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

I hope all my gay friends down in gay mecca Wilton Manors have heard about this. I would hate to think anyone I know is breaking the law :)

On a more serious note, the article discusses sodomy and homophobia in a few sections. But I can't help wondering about all those straight couples who use the back door, too. Seriously.

You can read more here.

Loud Sex; Gays Arrested for Kiss; Noah Berlatsky on Romance

Loud Sex,_testardo,_1929.JPG

When I saw this article titled Do Not Apologize for Having Loud Sex, I earmarked it for a blog post because it's interesting, and because in many ways it contains a few teachable theories that can be applied to anyone who reads or writes erotic romance of any kind. In other words, you don't have to apologize for reading or writing about loud sex either.

Of course this article talks about actually having loud sex. But I think it applies to romantic fiction, too.

Because if adults can’t have noisy sex in their own homes, with the doors and windows shut, then where can noisy sex occur? Galanes and Yoffe both recommend the sex-havers simply cease to be noisy — but this strikes me as a horrible injustice. The whole point of being a wage-earning, home-owning (or -renting) adult is that you can do whatever you want to do in the privacy of your home. And noisy sex is fun.

Exactly. It is fun. Dirty talk is fun sometimes, too. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise they don't know much about sex...or they don't get it very often.

I can't tell you how much I love it when I find an article like this because I often add little comments to fiction during sex scenes that the characters are both consenting adults who are either married or in a long term relationship and they say and do things during sex that people who have been together for a long time know well. They've reached that point where nothing is unapproachable, for the most part, and when I write sex scenes with dialogue I take that into consideration.

And yet I've had people who aren't familiar with long term relationships comment on this kind of loud sex...or sex reviews and I never quite get it. But I think most people "get" it. They might not admit it. But they get it.

In any event, you can read more here.

Gays Arrested for Kiss

A gay couple was arrested for kissing in public. It happened in La Paz, Mexico, on April 20th.

The couple claims an officer approached them, called them a homophobic slur, and ordered them to come with him to a police station.

When they refused, the policeman allegedly ‘violently’ forced them into a van and held them at the station for a few hours.

You can read more here. I would bet this kind of thing happens more often than not and most don't talk about it in public. And not just in Mexico, everywhere.

Noah Berlatsky on Romance

Someone named Noah Berlatsky who thinks it's a novelty that men enjoy reading romance novels wrote another one of those highly subjective pieces for Salon that the rest of us are supposed to take seriously. I know it's an op-ed piece and I respect that, but I also think it's important to comment on some things...just for fun and games.

But it always seemed to me that books in the vein of “Pride and Prejudice” had to be out there somewhere, written by somebody less dead than Jane or Anthony.

He loves Jane Austen books. That's fine. Many people do. But some of us who love romance as a genre find Jane Austen boring and we can't relate to her novels. That doesn't make us any less intelligent, educated, or sophisticated. Most of us who don't like Jane have gone to good universities and we know where the bread plate is located at a formal dinner party.

Jane Austen showed up consistently, as did “Gone With the Wind,” but there was nothing that gave me a sense that certain books were clearly central, or respected, or worth reading. The genre is so culturally maligned that there has been no concerted effort to codify it. There is, in short, no romance canon.

Not all of us are Gone With the Wind fans either, which could be why there is no canon. I know that might sound blasphemous to some people, but I prefer cutting, sharp abstract art hanging in my home instead of fluffy melodramatic landscapes. Lace doilies make me gag. I prefer sleek minimalist sofas instead of shabby chic chipped drek with lace and frills. And I prefer my modern romance books to be *designed* the same way. Simple, thought provoking, sexy minimalist love stories with happy endings written by romance authors who know the meaning of word economy. The genre isn't culturally maligned. People who say that are culturally maligned.

As I say, I was at a loss for years — but, eventually, I ended up doing what I think most romance readers do. I got some recommendations. Janine Ballard, who writes for, in particular, has led me to Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Laura Kinsale and a bunch of other wonderful authors.

He does make a valid point here. Recommendations are important. However, it's also important to understand the source from which those recommendations came. In other words, if you're looking for romance novels with the kind of narrative and laughable dialogue (he mumbled, grumbled and stumbled...or better, "She barked at him") don't trust the sources Noah named above. I doubt Noah or his sources would know Kandinsky from Loeb if their lives depended on it.

You can read the entire piece here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mark Ruffalo The Normal Heart; Colin Firth On Rupert Everett; Matt Bomer Too Beautiful for Normal Heart

Mark Ruffalo The Normal Heart

Mark Ruffalo who is straight playing gay, talks about why he did The Normal Heart, and how he feels about it.

"I was growing up during the AIDS epidemic, and I saw how cruel and how insensitive people were to these people suffering. It sort of has been forgotten in our culture what happened during those times."

Many of the pioneering HIV/AIDS activists depicted in the film, he added, "brought us to the point marriage is as common almost as marriage right now."

"That was an important story that needed to be told, and I was honored to tell it with the folks that I got to tell it with, and having Larry Kramer's words to convey it," he noted.

I'm looking forward to The Normal Heart. I grew up gay during that time, too. But I think this is what happens sometimes when straight actors play gay roles. It's not that they can't play the parts. It's just that when it comes time for publicity they say things that often make me wonder. Matt Damon did the same thing after the Liberace HBO movie and I commented in a post about that in March 2013. (And I thought Damon was wonderful in the film.) I think if Ruffalo were gay he would have said a few different things. First, the comment about marriage. Tony and I are legally married in only a few states, not in PA where we live and pay taxes. One mile away in New Jersey we are legally married. Gay marriage outside New York and other metropolitan areas is far from being as common as "marriage" right now. But more than that, marriage is marriage. Period. 

And please don't tell me I'm scrutinizing this too much. No one dares to say that to Whoopi Goldberg or Oprah Winfrey if they know what's good for them. I want the same respect.

You can read more here.

Colin Firth On Rupert Everett

This bit of news won't change the world. But what the hell. Sometimes it takes a while for actors to open up, and when they do it can be interesting. This time it's Colin Firth talking about working with Rupert Everett years ago when most of us were still kids.

'We started off as friends, then it went horribly wrong about two weeks in,' Firth recalled. 'He was incredibly unpleasant.
He described me as a "ghastly guitar-playing socialist." I did not have a guitar.'
But the two managed to patch things up and work together again - most notably in Shakespeare in Love. Says Firth: 'We're great friends now.'

There's more here. Best buds forever.

Matt Bomer Too Beautiful for Normal Heart

No one can promote anything better than Larry Kramer, so there will be more than a few posts and links until The Normal Heart airs on HBO this May. When it comes to self-promotion Kramer makes one pushy gay male m/m romance author I know look tame in comparison. (Sorry, no names.) This time the link is to an article where Larry Kramer thought Matt Bomer was too beautiful to play this part in the film but Ryan Murphy didn't agree.

To convince Kramer, Murphy arranged for the two men to meet and the 36-year-old Bomer admits that going in, he was 'starstruck' because he had first read The Normal Heart as a 14 year old.

'It was like meeting one of the Beatles,' Bomer tells the magazine.

'He was so central to my understanding and development. We talked for a really long time.' Kramer, who has waited nearly 30 years for his acclaimed play about the early days of the AIDS crisis to be turned into a movie, sent Murphy an email immediately after his meeting with Bomer which simply stated: 'He’s the one.'

Frankly, I'm still not over the fact that Matt Bomer isn't going to be Christian Grey.  But I'm glad he snagged The Normal Heart role.

You can read more here.

Duck Dynasty Dropped; Dogbert and Tito; Tom Daley Art; The Word "Tranny"

Duck Dynasty Dropped

If you recall, reality TV show Duck Dynasty was associated with gay slurs not too long ago. I posted about it here. And now, according to this piece, it seems a Duck Dynasty concert was canceled due to lack of sales.

The planned musical extravaganza from the stars of reality show Duck Dynasty has been canceled because of low ticket sales.

The Robertson family was to bring a concert, called Faith, Family & Ducks, to Springfield, Missouri (a midwestern US state).

The presentation was to be a mixture of songs, and speeches, on how the family lives the American dream and keeps 'family values.'

You can read more here.

I don't want to speculate on why ticket sales were so low, but I'd like to think it could be because most people realize it's a stupid show, there's nothing "real" about it, and it's geared to make some people a great deal of money by sensationalizing topics like gay issues and portraying southerners with bad stereotypes.

Tom Daley Gay Slur Art

When Tom Daley came out he suffered a great deal of abuse, in public. An artist has taken all of this anti-gay abuse and turned it into an interesting form of art. In other words, he turned it around.

Collins revealed the finished portrait on his Twitter account this week (17 April).

‘My finished portrait of @TomDaley1994 made out of the homophobic tweets sent to him when he came out. #art’ he said.

The artwork shows Daley, and his signature six-pack, against a backdrop of the British flag.

 You can read more about that here, with a link to all of the anti-gay slurs Daley received. Once it's online, it is there forever.

Dogbert and Tito

Here's a video of Dogbert and Tito. This is Dogbert and Tito's Facebook page. I follow them on social media through Trevor Donovan who once played a gay role on 90210, and will be part of the cast in upcoming episodes of  mini-series, Texas Rising.  (DVR alert for m/m romance western fans.) I see a lot of animal posts and videos and photos, but there's something about Dogbert and Tito that's highly amusing. I did have an issue watching the youtube version on my iPad, but this link to vimeo worked well on iPad and everything else.

The Word "Tranny"

I've posted about the controversy over the word "tranny," here, many times. For the record, I don't use it and never have. I understand the power of words and never take that for granted. However, there have been many interesting discussions about all this, especially with respect to gay culture and intent, and I'm passing along some of the most interesting I've seen.

Personally, I've always regarded being called a "tranny" not as a slur but as a term of endearment. Growing up in Philadelphia, close to the origin of the ball and house scenes, it wasn't that strange to hear words like "tranny," "she-male," and "he-she" being used in that way within the queer community of color. It was especially popular with the predominantly black and Latino kids at the Attic Youth Center. You could also hear it from the older trans matrons who worked the community tables at Outfest and Pridefest, and even occasionally from the trans sex workers you'd pass while walking home from the Gayborhood. Out of all the lingo, it's "tranny" that I remember most vividly. It wasn't just a word but a cultural moniker celebrating a certain type of effeminacy. Though I never sought it, I wore it as a badge of pride. It was coded speech between queer people of color that few white LGBT people noticed or even understood at the time. It was part of an underground language that also included words like "shade" and "reading," which have since gone mainstream.

You can read more here.

Important note: anyone is free to comment an offer and opinion on this topic (or any topic like it) as often and as long as they want. You can comment anonymously or with a name. I don't even mind pen names. However, keep it civil. I respect everyone's opinion and right to free speech and will publish it, as long as it is civil. This is a not for profit blog and unlike publications like Huff Po that are multi-million dollar operations that make Arianna Huffington a very wealthy woman by taking free content from writers I don't have to deal with incivility. And I won't. Plain and simple.

You can't say anything that would offend me at this point in my life. You can't even think of one slur or word that I haven't already experienced twice. But I don't want my readers offended.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spanking on Easter; Vintage Easter Photos: 10 Weird Easter Traditions

Vintage Easter Photos

It's often hard to post on religious holidays nowadays because I know so many who don't celebrate for various reasons. So I try to keep it neutral. Not because I'm trying too hard to be PC, just because I try to keep a balance of sorts.

This link leads to a groups of vintage Easter photos I think everyone can enjoy.

10 Weird Easter Traditions

Some of these are so interesting you might wind up reading them twice. I never knew this was a German tradition.

Christmas tree hanging around in the corner of your living room? Make like a German, who burn their old Christmas trees on the eve of Easter Sunday. This tradition dates back to pagan times when it was believed that any home or field touched by the light of the fire would be lucky and healthy in the coming year.

I knew a couple in the US who still hadn't taken down the Christmas tree by April. They wound up in divorce court by August.

There are more here, including some from the US. 

More Strange and Interesting

This next one I'm linking to about unusual Easter traditions is from a web site I've never seen before, All Women Stalk. What that means I'm not sure and I'm too lazy to find out. But it is interesting at a glance.

For many of us Easter is a time of cute bunnies and chicks and a ton of chocolate and candy and for others it’s a festival of incredibly important religious significance that actually starts 40 days before Good Friday on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It’s not surprising that many people give up chocolate for Lent knowing they are going to gorge themselves sick over the Easter weekend. Abstinence followed by abundance is a well known secular practice but here are 7 strange Easter traditions from around the world.

You cane read them here. 

This one is very entertaining.

Do you want to know how to maintain your health and beauty throughout the next year? Well if you live in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and some parts of Hungary it’s easy. On Easter Monday you just wait your turn for the men to throw water at you and spank you with a handmade whip of willow decorated with ribbons. “Pomlazka” is also meant to get rid of the ugly and bad things of winter. Many countries with an Orthodox population celebrate this in some form or another but in most cases it is just the water throwing. It is known in variable connotations of Dyngus Day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bryan Singer Accused of Rape; The Normal Heart; Asking Out Same Sex

Bryan Singer Accused of Rape

Given a post I wrote about an unnamed TV personality in the UK who was mentioned in a story about a nineteen year old guy who committed suicide, this article is interesting because they don't seem to be holding anything back.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who claims he was sexually abused by "X-Men" franchise director Bryan Singer said Thursday that he reported the molestation to authorities at the time, and he does not know why charges were never pursued.

With his voice occasionally wavering, Michael Egan III described abuse he said began when he was 15 years old at the hands of Singer and others. He told of being plied with drugs and promises of Hollywood fame while also enduring threats and sexual abuse in Hawaii and Los Angeles over several years.

And here's another article that talks about why the accuser decided to wait so long to file a lawsuit.

I can't comment on this in-depth. But everything he says seems to back up what all people who have experienced abuse at young ages say.


The Normal Heart

As the date for the TV premiere of The Normal Heart draws nearer, we'll be seeing more of these clips with Matt Bomer. 

Directed by Ryan Murphy, "Heart" features an all-star cast, including Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons, and is based on Kramer's acclaimed 1985 play about the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York.

It should be interesting to see how it's done.


Asking Out Same Sex

I guess this was meant to be amusing, but I'm not so sure given the potential for misunderstanding and possible backlash. A man and woman asked people of their same sex for phone numbers, aggressively coming on to them, and filmed the responses.

In these two videos that are making their rounds on the Internet, a man and a woman individually approach different people of their same sex asking for their numbers and insinuating that they'd like to take them on a date. Oftentimes awkward, the differences between the responses of the men and women are perhaps the most interesting part of these videos.

It's not something I would do.