12.13.2012: The Hawkeye Initiative

December 13, 2012 Artwork, Comic Books, Gay and Lesbian, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 466

HawkeyeRogueThe Hawkeye Initiative responds to the rampant sexism in comics by producing images of Hawkeye (AKA Clint Barton) in poses identical to those artists choose for female heroes. I did this one based on an image of Rogue that I found via Google search, only to learn that I cannot submit it to the Initiative because I can’t identify the artist or the original publication. I’m not even sure whether it’s fan art or if it appeared in the pages of a comic. That’s also why I’ve linked to the original image instead of hosting it here.

The main, original idea behind the Hawkeye Initiative was to show how the poses and costumes artists choose for females are sexist and ludicrous. John Scalzi, Alyssa Rosenberg, and a few others have raised concern that the audience may be missing the point and instead indulging in a transphobic laugh at the man in the dress. I chose not to put Clint in Rogue’s actual uniform (which, for the record, is no more or less revealing than the modified version of his own that I did use) because for me it’s not about the specifics of the pose or the costume, so much as it is about how sexualized female characters are, compared to the males. That’s also why I altered his physique to make it more masculine, and made sure his uniform gave proper emphasis to his secondary sex characteristics.

I’ve never thought there was anything particularly wrong with sexually objectifying people on occasion–as long as the objectification is equal. Heterosexual males are frequently eager to sexualize women, but enormously uncomfortable with being sexualized themselves. I strongly doubt that the core audience for comics would buy up any title that regularly sexualized male heroes.

Of course, I could be wrong. One of my lady friends, who happens to be a major comics fan, has told me she thinks there’s a big female audience who would buy the shit out of superhero stories with some boy-on-boy action. As far as I know, no major publisher has sought to test that theory.

I’d like to see more contributions to the Initiative that don’t just mimic a pose and a uniform, but actually seek to sexualize Hawkeye the way the parodied artist sought to sexualize the heroine in question; to tailor the male figure as precisely for the female gaze as the original artist did for the male gaze. I think there’s more to this than just “those costumes and poses are silly.”

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Straight and white are the default settings.

June 6, 2012 Gay and Lesbian, Writing Comments (2) 492

The Philadelphia Writers Group workshopped the first two chapters of my book this weekend. Without giving too much away: The narrator, a gay man, is a reporter sent to interview a famous and very attractive hero. He’s more than a little smitten, which the hero notices and uses to his advantage. What surprised me during the review is how many people called my attention to the fact that the narrator was coming across as attracted to the hero.

To be fair, nowhere in the chapters submitted is there anything that clearly states the narrator is gay. The story is told first-person, and his sexuality is revealed through his physical attraction to the hero, and to another character in the scene. It’s not hit-you-over-the-head, but I didn’t think it was terribly subtle, either. I was more than a little surprised that no one seemed to figure he was gay. Instead, they mostly assumed the physical attraction was either (a) a non-sexual admiration, or (b) accidentally coming across attraction.

In no way do I intend this as a slight on my fellow writers. A few of us had drinks after the workshop, and we talked about how straight readers just tend to assume all characters are straight, unless it’s clearly stated otherwise. Even when confronted with what is clearly a physical attraction to another character of the same sex, their reaction was to assume a mistake on my part, rather than interpret the character as gay or bisexual. They also remarked that they also assumed all the characters were white – which both harkens back to the ugly controversy that erupted in response to the Hunger Games film adaptation, and also brings up a science fiction trope that I’ve tried hard to avert in this book.

It’s just a bit fascinating that readers assume all characters are “like them,” even when they’re being fed frequent information that indicates otherwise. Sexuality is something I tend to play with a bit in my writing, and this book is no exception – there are very few characters who can fairly be described as anything but bisexual. After some thought, I’m happy overall with the response I got – if a reader finishes chapter two thinking “this character is coming across kinda gay,” that will only be cleared up in chapter three when he talks a bit about his life.

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Sometimes I get to feel like I work with super heroes.

March 2, 2012 ACLU, Gay and Lesbian, In The News, Personal, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 403

So a high school principal in Tennessee, Dorothy Bond, was using the PA system to preach about Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. She was holding assemblies to tell her students that gay people “weren’t on God’s path” and were “going to hell.” She promised 60-day suspensions for any students guilty of same-sex PDAs. She also told female students that if they got preganant their lives would be over, and that they would end up “jobless, homeless, and living off the government.”

So then the ACLU found out, and we sent the school district a letter. Three hours later, Dorothy Bond was unemployed.

Dan Savage says: “The ACLU means business, and they will fuck you up.”

What a way to end the week. I’ll be walking on air all the way home.

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A story about Philly police raiding gay bars

March 1, 2012 Gay and Lesbian, Philly / Pennsylvania Comments (1) 906

A friend forwarded me the story below from the current William Way Community Center newsletter. I just love it:


This month, we honor Women’s History Month while also remembering a key moment in LGBT history.On the south side of Walnut St., opposite the Forrest Theatre is Moriarty’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. Around the corner, through the side door on Quince and up a flight of stairs is what was “Rusty’s,” the most popular lesbian bar in Philadelphia in the ‘50s,‘60s and early ‘70s. Although back then the sign on Walnut St. identified the bar as “Barone’s Variety Room,” women in the city knew it as “Rusty’s,” after Rusty Parisi, the tough, butch, no-nonsense lesbian manager.

On the night of March 8, 1968, Rusty’s suddenly found the jukebox unplugged and the house lights brought up. It was a police raid, an all too common occurrence for gay and lesbian bars under then Police Commissioner Rizzo.  Many of the women were verbally abused; police accused them of being drunk and disorderly. Some were booked and held overnight, then brought before a magistrate the next day, but all charges were dropped. It was a clear-cut case of harassment.

The local chapter of D.O.B. editorialized against the raid. D.O.B., the “Daughters of Bilitis,” was a national lesbian social and support organization with a policy of political non-involvement. The Philadelphia chapter was one of the exceptions. A few nights later, when there was another raid on Rusty’s, local activists Ada Bello, Lourdes Alvarez and Barbara Gittings were present. When asked for her I.D., Gittings flashed her ACLU card and the police moved on.

In May, the D.O.B. arranged a meeting with the Philadelphia Police Inspector and they brought along an ACLU observer. The D.O.B. let the Inspector know that they represented the community and that they were not afraid to protest violations. The police issued a statement that “homosexuals have been, are now, and will be treated equally with heterosexuals.” Because of their active support in the incident, membership in the Philadelphia D.O.B. increased dramatically. A year before the Stonewall riots, the raid on Rusty’s and the reaction of local lesbians was a clear success story for gay rights.

You can learn more about LGBT political activism in Philadelphia in Marc Stein’s book, “City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves” and by visiting the John J. Wilcox Archive.

My favorite line is the one about Barbara Gittings being asked for her ID, but instead showing her ACLU card, “and the police moved on.”

For years I’ve had this idea of staging a police raid at a gay bar as a fundraising event. My generation of LGBT patrons have never had to experience that (at least, not in Philadelphia) and I think it would be engaging and startling. Halfway through the event, the house lights would come up, the music would suddenly stop, and actors portraying police would barge in and start harassing patrons. Perhaps they could even “arrest” patrons, and the “bail money” they paid would be their donation to the fundraiser. I don’t think it’s quite right for the ACLU, but maybe I can sell the William Way on it.

I’ve even heard there’s at least one gay bar in Philadelphia (I don’t know which…maybe the Bike Stop?) that still has its raid light installed. This is the bright red alarm light they used to trigger when the cops showed up, to tip off the patrons that they’d better high-tail it out the back.

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Winning the Future

February 17, 2012 Gay and Lesbian, In The News, Philly / Pennsylvania Comments (0) 232

My mother and I started the morning in a courtroom, observing a legal challenge to Conshohocken Borough’s new law protecting LGBT residents against discrimination. There were eight of us in the audience, all supporters of the law, while the plaintiff (who was challenging the law) was left to argue alone – and, honestly, turns out to be kind of a lunatic.

I actually found myself a little bored — but I’ve got to say it’s a nice change from the days when the supporters of gay rights would have been the minority, and the guy defending discrimination would have had an army of sign-toting religious zealots supporting him.

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Boy, Dan Savage is Smart

June 30, 2011 Gay and Lesbian, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 219

I’m a fan in general – the Savage Lovecast is one of four podcasts to which I subscribe. In the video below he makes three or four really important, salient points, in very simple and clear language, about the gay rights movement, the nature of its opposition, and the role of the anti-gay movement in American politics. Great stuff.

I’ve cued the video up to the beginning of the really good stuff – the earlier portion is an entertaining and lengthy discussion of The Book of Mormon.


via Towleroad

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NYC: Marriage and Front Runners Pride Run 2011

June 30, 2011 Gay and Lesbian, Personal Comments (4) 707

I had the good fortune to be in NYC visiting Elizabeth this past weekend – pretty much the best time in the past 100 years or so to be in New York. We stayed up Friday night watching the State Senate debate (and tweeting – I tend to do a lot of that when I watch parliamentary process) and waiting for the historic vote. As you all know now, we were not disappointed. I won’t go on about it, except to say that I’m delighted, awestruck, and incredibly proud of the state of my birth. I only wish my current home state could buy a clue.

Saturday morning Liz and I ran the NY Front Runners Pride Run, my first official Central Park race. As expected after the vote on Friday, the mood was upbeat and celebratory, though there were far fewer costumes than I expected – and not a single man running in a wedding dress! The fellow at the top of this post was one of the exceptions. As I ran past I got to hear his advice for anyone considering such a costume, “Lots and lots of Body Glide.”

I learned several things in this race. I learned that many runners don’t respect corrals. I also learned that speed walkers, and some regular walkers, feel similarly toward corrals. Lastly, I learned that when I am slowed down by people who started two or three corrals in front of their designated corral, I get super bitchy.

Not that I was the only one. As the race kicked off, with eight thousand runners jockeying for position, a bicyclist came riding at high speed from behind us, nearly plowed into the crowd, all while shouting “oh yeah, like there’s nobody else here!” Would that I could have conversed with the man, I would have pointed out that there were eight thousand of us and one of him, and which one of us was acting self-important? Alas, my attention was occupied with trying to get around the speed walkers and the groups of ladies who were forming human walls so they could converse while running slowly, something that wouldn’t have been problematic had they started in the right corral (have I communicated my annoyance about this whole corral thing?)

Despite feeling slow and stiff before the race, Liz set a PR, coming in 9th among all women and 4th among women in her age bracket. I finished about two and a half minutes behind my best 5-mile time, thanks in part to the hilly terrain in Central Park but mostly to the stupid corral jumpers.

Here’s some video of Liz just after her surprisingly strong race. You’ll also get a good sampling of my attitude after my own finish. I manage to slander an entire city on the basis of a few slow runners. Behold the bitchiness.

By the way, it sounds like I don’t like the popsicle, but actually I thought the popsicle was awesome.

Liz and I also marched in the NY Pride Parade on Sunday with the contingent from the New York Civil Liberties Union. More on that soon.

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I am just an advertisement for a version of myself

May 20, 2010 Blogging, Gay and Lesbian, Hockey, Naked People, Pop Culture Comments (1) 658

[Credit to David Byrne for the post title]

Way back in November of 2007 I posted about the sordid saga of Ethan Reynolds, formerly of the model blog / community Brat Boy School (since shut down; internet wayback machine link here – caution, it loads slowly).  I’m seeing echoes of that experience in the recent downfall of “Hockey Kid Mikey,” an alleged gay high school hockey player promoted by gay web site OutSports who, after building a small empire on the web, turned out to probably be a 40-year-old gay hockey fan.

Both appear to be cases where some blogger used the magical power of the internet to pretend to be someone else.  In both cases the bloggers built an enormous base of enamored fans, and in both cases their success began to open doors outside the internet shortly before their fictitious persona fell apart.  In neither case were any actual crimes (apparently) committed, and yet in both cases the fans, once betrayed, called for blood.

As I was in 2007, I am fascinated by the response from fans.  It’s not as if this technique is old.  I’ve compared Ethan to nudie centerfolds, who always seem to find titillating answers to the same questionnaire, but the creation of a fictional persona is not limited to the vaguely pornographic.  Think of Dear Abby, or Poor Richard, or for that matter any talk-show host.  None of these people is really the person they present to the world.  Granted, that fact is disclosed to varying degrees, but I’d imagine there are many Letterman fans who would be outraged to discover the real person behind the television character he portrays.  This is, I would hazard to say, at least partly to blame for the outrage behind the most recent “Late Night Wars,” and why Jay Leno emerged as the villain while Conan’s popularity grew: cutthroat businessman is pretty far removed from the brand Jay has been selling his viewers, while  Conan’s brand is apparently not as far from his actual personality. Continue Reading

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Soccer players kissing, blah blah blah

April 21, 2010 Gay and Lesbian, In The News, Naked People Comments (5) 1824

Gary Neville kisses Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes and Gary Neville play soccer, professionally apparently, in a country called–wait, let me look this up–England.  Except there it’s called “football,” which I assume explains the unexplained popularity of soccer.  The British have apparently spent decades sitting around very large stadiums watching a bunch of men stand around an enormous field, wondering when the Steelers were to arrive.

Anyway, so on Saturday Scholes scored a very important goal to win a very important game, and Neville gave him a kiss, and people’s minds were BLOWN.  Bunches of newspapers in the UK ran kiss-related headlines.  Most were favorable, but still.  Someone should remind the UK that they are European, which in the US is a word that means “gayer than gay.”

But I digress.  The whole reason I took to this blog is because I love, love, LOVE the response from Guardian sports blogger Barry Glendenning, whose response is that these two guys are not nearly hot enough for a PDA.  Via Outsports (emphasis mine):

That kiss was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And before you scuttle off down to the comments section to level accusations of homophobia at us, don’t bother. If it was two ripped and dashing footballers – some Matt Taylor-on-Jason Roberts action, for example – we’d have no problem with such ostentatious public displays of man-love and possibly be even a little turned on. Hell, even if Gary Neville had just planted one hand on either side of Paul Scholes’s head and laid a shock-and-awe black-and-white movie style smacker on his lips, that would have been fine too. But it was the tenderness of the moment, the cupping of the face, the tilting of the heads, the eyes closed expectantly, the blur of ginger hair and wispy not-quite-beardness in yesterday’s sport sections that put us off our lunch. Down with this sort of thing. Careful now.

Purely in the interest of journalism, I did the research, and it appears these are the two eye-pleasing gentlemen Glendenning would rather see locking lips on the turf:

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The shit hits the Brat Boy fans

November 16, 2007 Gay and Lesbian, In The News, Naked People, Politics / Religion, Pop Culture Comments (26) 3371

1084981162_l.jpgI’ve followed Brat Boy School, the home page of model/blogger/underwear spokesman Ethan Reynolds for quite some time. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “fan” of Ethan’s, but he was pretty and I checked in fairly often to read posts about his love life, skin care regimen, workouts, recipes, and political views. Ethan was a pretty high-profile figure in the online gay community. I say was, because Brat Boy School crashed dramatically this week with a revelation: Ethan’s not real.

Well, to be fair, the person who goes by the name Ethan Reynolds is real, in the sense that he is the male model who appeared in photographs on the site. However, he did not write the blog; Rick Altman, his manager, wrote all of the entries. From what I can gather, “Ethan” (whose real name is apparently JR) really was boyfriend to porn-star-turned-underwear-spokesman Benjamin Bradley. They really were (are?) under contract with Ginch Gonch to be the “Ginch Gonch Boys.”
But beyond those facts, any details that appeared on the Brat Boy School blog were fictional.

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