Planet of the Gay Apes The paranoid style of American politics is such that it’s a safe bet that eventually every conspiracy theory that can be conceived will be conceived—and then broadcast by some conehead with a talk radio show. But occasionally one of these conspiracies catches our eye. So there’s a right-wing radio host named Rick Wiles who’s convinced that a new breed of gay supermen is plotting to take over America! Wiles begins with the premise that Hitler wasn’t trying to produce an Aryan race but instead “a homosexual special race” with which to rule the world: “Hitler was trying to create a race of super gay male soldiers,” Wiles avers. And, inevitably: “If it’s not stopped, it will end up in America.” Wiles offers no evidence for this threat and clearly hasn’t thought it through—how could there be a “race” of gay men?—but as pure fantasy it certainly reveals something about how gay people are perceived in this sector of our society. Surely this image of gay superheroes would have been unthinkable 25 or even ten years ago, when gay men could only be stereotyped as weaklings or sissies. That a race of gay Übermenschen in military drag is now threatening to invade America could be seen as a weird testament to recent victories by the GLBT rights movement.
Finlandization When news broke that the Finnish government would be commemorating Tom of Finland on a postage stamp, reaction in the Blogosphere was skeptical. Was it a hoax? True, Tom was a native son of Finland, as his name made clear, and he was undoubtedly the world’s foremost artist in his genre—which is of course the rub, since his genre cannot easily escape the rubric of pornography, indeed a porn subgenre that he largely pioneered whose subjects were men with exaggerated primary and secondary male characteristics going at it in pairs or in groups. Anyhow, it turns out the stamps are authentic! Needless to say, they stop short of showing tumescent penises, but not by all that much. The decision clearly reflects Finland’s (the country’s) liberal attitudes toward sex in general, but one wonders if the stamps could also be timed as a rebuttal to Russia’s hard turn toward anti-gay intolerance. The country that was “Finlandized” during the Soviet era has rejoined enlightened Scandinavia and might just be flexing its cultural muscles—a good metaphor where Tom of F. is concerned—vis-à-vis its giant neighbor to the east after enduring something of a master-slave relationship.
A Bisexual Issue at Last! We’ve always supported bisexuality and never doubted its reality as a sexual orientation, but it has never been entirely clear how bi issues depart from gay and lesbian ones (e.g., what would a “bisexual marriage” look like?). So how’s this for an issue? Bisexuals are up-in-arms because a major dating website, Match.com, makes users pay for two separate subscriptions if they want to post a profile for both men and women. This is seen as discriminatory because it forces bisexual users to pay double for expressing who they are. The company issued an oddly robotic statement—“We understand you are bisexual and would like to be able to search for both men and women”—but would not relent on its two-profile policy. At this point you may be thinking, so why don’t these users just go to a “bisexual” dating site? But that misses the point, which is not to restrict oneself sexually to any arbitrary subset of the human population.
Tar Heel in Mouth Two stories come to us from North Carolina—what are the odds?
A Republican candidate for the state senate named Steve Wiles (no relation to the Wiles mentioned above) who’s running as an opponent of marriage equality was revealed to be none other than “Mona Sinclair,” a drag entertainer in a former life. Wiles apologized for this youthful indiscretion and insisted that he’s totally not gay, dismissing his Mona phase as a long-ago mistake. But wait: it turns out he was an opener at the Club Odyssey in Winston-Salem for some fourteen years, right up until 2010 (as reported on Towleroad.com). Further research turned up that Wiles was not only the Club’s entertainment, he was also a client. And to top it all off, Wiles was involved with the Miss Gay America pageant, whose website includes the cryptic statement that he was suspended for “conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the MGA pageant system.” Which raises the question, what does one have to do to get booted from the MGA? Wiles’ public (or a segment thereof) wants to know!
And then there’s Clay Aiken, that rascally singer who finished a close second on American Idol’s second season but then went on to have a truly glamorous recording and performance career, along the way coming out as gay—which seemed a no-brainer, but you never know about Aiken’s (heavily Southern) fan base. Anyway, his singing career survived, but last year Aiken took a turn to politics, launching a run for a U.S. House seat as a Democrat from North Carolina. But first he would have to win the primary by outpolling Keith Crisco, a 71-year-old former N.C. commerce secretary. Once again it was a photo finish, with Aiken enjoying a 369-vote lead on primary night last May. But then a strange thing happened. Crisco slid and took a fall just hours after the polls closed, and by the next morning he was dead. No agonizing recount ensued, and Aiken was left standing in the field, so to say—along with an odd aura of invincibility, that old black magic of a gay torch singer on a stage, albeit one who’ll need all the help he can get in November in this heavily Republican district.
The Fate of Clayton’s Anus It may be anticlimactic, but journalistic practice dictates that we follow up on an item from last fall about a young British man named Clayton Pettet who had announced his intention to lose his anal virginity in public as a project for art school. An audience of a hundred was anticipated, an insertive partner (“a friend”) was in place, and a late January date was penciled in. A few postponements later, an event finally took place on April 2—but it wasn’t quite the one that the 120 guests were expecting. What they encountered upon entering the former BBC performance space was a small booth within which a clothed Clayton was crouched. Before him were two piles of bananas. Each guest was asked to visit the booth in turn—the Brits are great at queuing up!—and upon entering was instructed by Clayton: “I am your anal virgin. You are my partner. Pick up a banana. [Pause.] Now penetrate my mouth with it eight times.” Needless to say, there was widespread disappointment in the hall and in the media, to which Clayton responded defensively, in the name of art: “They didn’t want an art piece, they wanted to see me have sex.” Well, yeah; they can get bananas at the nearest Tesco. As for art, the theme of a young man losing his anal virginity happens to be a gay porn cliché, so it’s not like the attendees were there for a moment of Zen.