Full Circle It was almost as if the Fort Worth cops had read their gay history and wanted to make an especially egregious statement at the exact moment of the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969. The facts of the incident are scarcely in dispute: the Fort Worth police burst into a gay bar in full uniform “checking for drunkenness” and ended up attacking and beating several customers, leaving one in a coma with apparent brain damage. That the attack was unprovoked was confirmed by many eyewitnesses; after the fact, the cops concocted a line to the effect that they had been advanced on sexually by the men they attacked. The absurdity of this claim was pointed out by Andrew Sullivan, who observed that only a “pathological homophobe” could believe that any gay man would hit on uniformed police officers engaged in raiding their space while aggressively questioning them about their sobriety. Assuming the cops were ignorant of the historical coincidence, the incident did put a damper on self-congratulatory op-eds about how far we’ve come in forty years.
Political Display “California Pride Parade, Celebration Has a Political Bent,” stated a humdrum headline in the Daily Queer News on June 15, 2009. Yet the headline may have been jarring to someone old enough to remember when pride parades—“marches,” back then—were by definition “political.” The article was about this year’s San Francisco parade, the daddy, if not the granddaddy, of all such annual events. It seems “politics” was just another annual theme for the parade, like “peace through understanding,” to inspire this year’s floats and costume designs. Actually, the 2009 theme was “To Form a More Perfect Union,” which was not only political but punning, as it could also refer to “union” in the marital sense, a reference to Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California last November. Hmm, if only last year’s parade had had a political bent…
“It isn’t a choice!” has been a constant refrain of the GLBT movement for many years. Being gay is integral to the person and deeply rooted in heredity or early development. Those claiming it’s a “choice” are typically religious homophobes who are seen in the gay world as credulous followers of a toxic ideology. But it’s starting to look like homophobia—and other bigotries—may also be deeply rooted in individual personality and very possibly in one’s genes. A recent study by Cornell psychologist David Pizarro found a correlation between homophobic attitudes and a propensity for squeamishness or disgust. In one study, students were shown disgusting photographs of blood and guts as certain physical reactions (lip curling and nose wrinkling) were measured. Those registering the highest disgust were more likely to disapprove of gays and lesbians and to hold other xenophobic views. Past research has found that conservatives are more likely than liberals to register fear or alarm when exposed to unexpected stimuli, suggesting that political preferences are anchored in neurological factors that operate well outside of conscious control. One can perhaps imagine a future time when bigotry and homophobia are so passé that those harboring these attitudes will ask for tolerance for being the way they are.
Houston, We Have a Problem The “we” in this case is the population of gay “bottoms” in Houston, Texas, where they outnumber “tops” by the widest margin of any American city. According to a recent study that compiled thousands of Craigslist entries for ten U.S. cities (see TheSword.com), the largest city in the Longhorn State has the greatest shortage of mounters. The next largest gap occurs in Miami, followed by three West Coast cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Curiously, the five cities with the highest ratio of tops to bottoms, including three where bottoms are outnumbered (Atlanta, Washington, and New York), are all east of the Mississippi. No explanation seems ready at hand; for what it’s worth, no one ever accused New York, Chicago, or Boston of being “laid back” places to live.
Christian Devolution Rumors have surfaced before about “ex-gay” ministries using exorcism to ply their trade, and now a video has surfaced showing a grotesque ritual in which an allegedly gay boy is writhing on the ground and even vomiting as adults implore his “homosexual demons” to be gone. It’s a cliché to point out that such practices are a throwback to the Middle Ages. But a comment by pastor and self-proclaimed prophet Patricia Mc-Kinney of the Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport, Connecticut, seemed to hark back to a far earlier time: “It’s not just the homosexuality spirit. It could be the alcohol spirit, the crack cocaine spirit, the adultery spirit. Everything carries a spirit,” she told CNN. This sounds more like animism than Christianity, a belief system that predates even polytheism in the annals of religion and holds that every human quality or affliction has a “spirit” with a will of its own. Granted, this is something of a fringe phenomenon, but it’s beginning to look like a devolution of Christian fundamentalism as ever more radical sects spin off and reach back for more primal forms of religious experience. The image of a boy writing on the ground as the Spirit of Gay is driven out, all in the name of Jesus, is a scary example of this atavistic trend.
Take It All Off! There’s profit in shaving those pubes now that straight men have gotten into the act: witness that the major razor manufacturers are actively promoting just this application. An animated ad by Gillette starts out by observing, “You might say, when there’s no underbrush, the tree looks taller.” This sixty-second spot (wikio.co.uk/video/1179210) is clearly pitched to straight guys, while one by Philips Bodygroom, which features a live actor in a bathrobe who’s both seductive and butch, is more ambiguous. He coyly hints at the size advantage to shaving “down there”—proving again that there’s at least one thing gay and straight men have in common: the desire for a bigger dick.