31 July 2009

A Historic End for the Common Law

The upper house of the British Parliament, officially, The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, and commonly known as the House of Lords, ended on 30 July 09, ended their function as the final arbiter of all disputes and interpretation of law in the United Kingdom (except criminal cases in Scotland).

Starting in October, after the summer recess, the appellate jurisdiction of the "law lords" will transfer to a brand new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The final judgment of the law lords was the case of Debbie Purdy who sought a judgment indicating her hubsand would not be prosecuted for accompanying her to Switzerland if the pain of her multple sclerosis became intolerable and she sought to have a doctor her assist her in ending her life. After several judgments against her, the law lords gave judgment on 30 July 09 that the Director of Public Prosecutions must provide guidance when one may accompany another to Switzerland to have life medically terminated.

30 July 2009

How A 17 Year Old Boy Extorted The Popular Boys At School For Sex

I got my copy of August's GQ and it had this story which I very vaguely remember reading about several months ago. The whole story is very sad and worth reading the entire article. I have posted the first online page of the story but if you want to read the rest, you have to go to GQ's website and go through the whole article -- its very long but very worth the read:


Last year, an awkward high school senior in Wisconsin went online, passed himself off as a flirtatious female student, and conned dozens of his male classmates into e-mailing him sexually explicit images of themselves. What he did next will likely send him to jail for a very long time

stop being a wuss, x told himself. x was only 15, and he didn't know a lot about girls, but he did know this:

If you wanted to get with a girl like Kayla, you couldn't be a wuss.

She IM'd him again.

will u send it? she asked.

Yes. He would. X pulled down his pants.

When he was ready, he pointed the camera, snapped a picture, and sent it.

omg, Kayla wrote. u r so hot.

now its yr turn, he wrote.

A minute later, Kayla sent a picture: shirt up, no bra, with the head cropped out.

Fuck, X thought. That's hot. Even her screen name was sexy. Kayla's Facebook page said she was a junior, and though he'd never actually met her, you couldn't know every girl in a school with 1,200 kids. The night before, Kayla friended him with a message saying she always saw him in the hall and wanted to say hi, but she was too shy.

Now she was asking for another picture.

ok, he typed. 1 minute.

X looked in the mirror and flexed. He pointed the camera, snapped, then checked the shot. Nah. He could do better.

He turned, flexed again, and snapped a few more. He picked the best one, cropped it, and sent it.

She loved it. Totally loved it.

Okay, now it was her turn. He wanted to see her face and body together, too.

sorry, she wrote, too embarrassed. :-\ She'd make it up to him, though. That was a promise.*

Click here to go to the next part of the article and be transported to GQ's website.

28 July 2009

Movie Review: Quinceañera

This movie brought two completely different interests of mine together in one story line: the effects of gay white gentrification of "older" neighborhoods in urban U.S. cities and the development of gay "minority" identities wherever in the world they come to exist. This happens to do both of these things. The story starts with everyone at Eileen's quinceañera. The main character, Magdalena, is there. And Carlos, Eileen's older brother shows up, uninvited, drunk wanting to participate in this important community affair. Fast forward, Magdalena and her boyfriend engage in some non-penetrative acts which makes her pregnant. Her born-again Christian family rejects her and she moves in with the very old uncle, Tomas, in his small home that is the back house in a two house lot. Carlos is already living with him because hi and Eileen's parents suspected (correctly) that he is gay.

Carlos (in the middle in white), meanwhile, meets, greets and gets it on with Tomas' new landlords, a gay white couple that have bought the two house lot at a depressed price and "fix it up" in an effort to gentrify the neighborhood and make money. The couple objectify Carlos and lure him into a three-way sex thing. However, this creates problems for them (in their already failing relationship) and Carlos appropriately ends up being the scapegoat.

The movie was tragic and fascinating and worth the watch. It won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

22 July 2009

Eclipse Misfortune? Perseverance Furthers.

Rahu, which in Western astrology is known as the north lunar node, was a demi-god or demon of the Hindu pantheon -- together with his headless body, Ketu (the south lunar node).

During battle against the gods, he pretended to be a god and received the immortality nectar. However, Mohini, an avatar of Vishnu, recognized what was happening with the assistance of Surya, the sun god, and Chandra, the moon good. Mohini used a special spinning disc and beheaded him before the nectar could pass through his throat making only his head immortal.

However, because of this Rahu is an invisible planet that occasionally (and temporarily) consumes the sun or the moon -- causing an eclipse. Western astrology/astronomy identifies this Hindu planet and his invisible body counterpart as the lunar nodes.

Astrologers in India, Thailand and China all predicted misfortune and troubled times ahead for those areas that directly experienced a total eclipse.

Buddhists have a slightly different take on the entire matter -- in general. After all, Buddha did reach Enlightenment!

In the Theravadin tradition, the Suriya Sutta (Surya Sutra) says (trans. Piyadassi Thera with modifications):

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery. At that time Suriya, the sun god, was seized by Rahu, Lord of Demons. Thereupon calling to mind the Blessed One, Suriya, the Sun deity, recited this stanza:

i. "O Buddha, the Hero, thou art wholly free from all evil. My adoration to thee. I have fallen into distress. Be thou my refuge."

Thereupon the Blessed One addressed a stanza to Rahu, Lord of Demons, on behalf of Suriya thus:

ii. "O Rahu, Suriya has gone for refuge to the Tathagata, the Consummate One. Release Suriya. The Buddhas radiate compassion on the world (of beings).

iii. "O Rahu, swallow not the dispeller of darkness, the shining one, the radiant and effulgent traveler through the sky. Rahu, release Suriya, my son."

Thereupon Rahu, Lord of Demons, released Suriya, and immediately came to the presence of Vepacitta, Lord of Demons, and stood beside him trembling with fear and with hair standing on end. Then Vepacitta addressed Rahu in this stanza:

iv. "Rahu, why did you suddenly release Suriya? Why have you come trembling, and why are you standing here terrified?"

"I have been spoken to by the Buddha in a stanza (requesting me release Suriya). If I had not released Suriya my head would have split into seven pieces. While yet I live, I should have had no happiness. (Therefore I released Suriya)."

I am under the belief that this sutra is chanted in Buddhist countries during these rare and unusual times as a form of protection against whatever malefic force Rahu generates.

I know that the Hindu statue doesn't look scary, so here in a Tibetan tangkha painting of the Tibetan Buddhist version of the same.

From Western astrology, there are two schools of thought on the lunar nodes. Both agree that the north node is suffering (Rahu) and that the south node is comfortable (Ketu). Yet, as Jung says, "Neurosis is the avoidance of necessary suffering." So, in the school I tend to believe, Rahu/North Node is a positive thing forcing us out of our habit and box and what comes easily propelling us toward greater psychological and spiritual development.

So, where these astrologers say misfortune lies ahead, I say, perseverance furthers! Hopefully the leaders of India and China don't squander the opportunity and make life miserable for everyone else.

20 July 2009

Movie Review: Outing Riley

This is not a cerebral movie at all. This is sort of like the teenage coming out stories only it takes place with a guy in his mid to late 30s. If you grew up in a multi-sibling Catholic family and no one except you sister knows you're gay, this would be a movie to watch. This would be a nice date movie for people who have graduated from the club-bar scene -- sort of has that made for TV, Maalaala Mo Kaya kind of feel (except its a comedy). I couldn't seem to find it anywhere online, so good luck finding it if your country is part of the Non-Aligned Movement. (Sorry, I know this review is short, but it didn't really provoke any deep thoughts in me.)

San Jose, Batangas

I noticed someonehas visited my blog from San Jose, Batangas a few times over the last month. Is it true? Does San Jose exist in the internet world independent from my own imagination? Are our families neighbors? Are you my cousin?

14 July 2009

Movie Review: Bruno (Part II)

Some further reflections on Bruno.

I've changed my opinion of Bruno slightly. I do feel that Cohen muddled the message he was trying to make about homophobia, but I also think he was making another point that wasn't so clear: American audiences have sex issues. I think he was brilliant at shocking audiences with his full frontal male nudity, the sex toy fetish scenes and the hand-cuffed S&M hotel scene.

Then, I read that GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) opposes Bruno because it "reinforces negative stereotypes" about gay people. So, now I really think every gay person ought to see the movie. Bruno, in this way, brings up something GLAAD and other straight-laced gay political activists in Washington try to hide, that there are many shallow, ill-informed, caddy club boys that are gay. There is a reality to it and their press release against Bruno doesn't really address this issue adequately. GLAAD is really reinforcing what Bruno criticizes, there isn't one way of being gay and homophobia is linked to "compulsory heterosexuality."

Another favorite scene, which had been mentioned on NPR before the movie came out, was the parents of infant children who are pushing them into show biz. Bruno does a casting call and asks parents of these infants if they will still pursue this option if the children are put at significant risks. The parents, some hesitating only for a few seconds, all agree. The very last part of that scene is really hilarious.

I hope everyone goes and sees this and is prepared for the

13 July 2009

Movie Review: Bruno

The movie is a shocker. It was quite slow in a number of parts and I don't feel like Bruno connected the dots the way Borat did. The last ten minutes were perhaps the best part and its too bad that Sasha Baron Cohen wasn't able to convey the same affect of the last ten minutes during the whole movie. Its also too bad that we didn't get to see the Latoya Jackson interview to compare with Paula Abdul's interview since those that saw the pre-Michael Jackson death version said it humanized Paula more (?). Ultimately, Borat was brilliant because Cohen became the anti-semitic, homophobic "foreigner" that anti-semitic, homophobic Americans could relate to. However, its not clear who Bruno is supposed to be.

I wanted to take my nieces and nephews to see it but I'm glad that no one was home when I called since I too was surprised to have a one minute close-up of Sasha Baron Cohen's flaccid cock swinging and wagging before the camera.

10 July 2009

Movie Review: Meth

I decided to skip some classics I've been meaning to watch and decided to watch this as I reorganized my office. I am very much an advocate for people who use drugs to tell their stories to others. This is in opposition to America's long standing "war against drugs" where fear and purposeful ignorance reign. I believe that substances in drugs are like gods or demons that are highly affective and numinous entities. Every person's experience of a god or demon is different (although collectively some generalities can be made).

I have never tried crystallized methamphetamine (shabu) but I have talked with a number of people that have been addicted to it. The experience is the same, the epinephrine-like response of the reptilian part of the brain over powers everything and life is turned into a simple series of fight-or-flight stimulae. (I'm generalizing their experiences of course.) In other words, people seem to have the energy to carry on three different jobs and never sleep or party and have sex non-stop. Yet it turns into a compulsion since you have two choices: fight or flight. (In my god/demon structure, this would be the god of survival.) Work is related to survival as is the urge to have sex.

Now, Meth interviews people who stopped using or struggling with their addiction in the gay community. The director seems to have gone to some effort to present people and their experience in a way where you could empathize with the people -- well except for the one guy who is still a total addict and was hyperactive and rambling in fast speech. Their stories is what are needed to help people make the decision not to use. People need to hear from others how great it is and then how awful it gets (or in the case of the addict, how great he says it is as you see how awful it is around it).

The closest domestic Philippine film in recent years that I have seen that in any way addresses the drug issue was the quasi-indie Where is Francis? And that seemed to be more like Weekend At Bernie's meets what its like to be a druggie and have your druggie friend die and then try to hide the fact from others. There was a part in Meth that reminded me of this time my cousin and his friend drove me around Makati for a few hours and it wasn't until we got back to his house that it occurred to me that they were totally high out of the minds and we had been driving in circles for a few hours (or maybe I realized we had been driving in circles first?)

I also liked how the director included a lengthy discussion about how the circuit-dance culture and gym-bunny urban gay subculture in the U.S. is conducive to methamphetamine addiction (to the point where I'd almost remark, naturally). A documentary could be done just on the shadow aspects of the urban male American gay subculture yet he was able to bring it in without it taking over the entire film.

Drug addiction is a complex social question that needs more education and explication and discussion of drug use experience not less. The movie makes a contribution towards that.

07 July 2009

Movie Review: October Moon

When I saw this on the Malaysian blog Filem Gay, I had no idea this was a horror movie. Yes, now I realize it says "horror show" on the cover but I didn't physically have this in my hand so I didn't know. In fact, as we were watching it, my partner said, "Is this a horror movie?" I said I didn't think so since the plot summary didn't really point to that. However, I was immediately struck by the very bad acting. It was so bad, I was wondering if a cast of an ancient Greek drama had accidently possessed these mid-Western actors -- well everyone is guilty of bad acting except actress Brinke Stevens who seemed so out of place by her over-all excellent acting.

Now, that being said, nothing wrong with bad acting for a horror movie. I didn't really like the end of the movie. I thought all the way up until 3 minutes before the movie ended, it would resolve in a way I liked, but it didn't. Of course, not everyone that is called onto the quest will be successful that's why we have horror movies and tragedy. If you like horror movies or you are one of those guys that are fatally attracted to helping "curious" or "confused" guys, this is a movie worth watching.

06 July 2009

Movie Review: Adored

I decided to watch this because the movie was posted on the Malaysian blog Filem Gay. I had seen it somewhere but didn't really feel called to watch a movie sub-billed "the diary of a porn star." I found the most interesting part to be the last 10 minutes of the movie but otherwise found it to be very boring and a typical self-pity tragicomic gay flick. Then I found out that the direct, writer, producer is also the main star. (I mean when the director, writer, producer is the one and same person, the movie is already 1:1,000,000 a dud, but I had no idea that he also was the main star -- the odds of its being a dud become incomprehensible.) This movie may have been interesting had it come out 30 or 50 years ago, but it really was just very underwhelming.

I'd skip it unless you have a thing for guys that look like the man on right in the picture above -- but even at that, I'd still skip it if I were you.

02 July 2009

Indian Court Strikes Down British-Era Laws Criminalizing Gay Sex

The Delhi High Court ruled that the British colonial era ban on consensual adult gay sex is illegal and has struck it down. While the actual ruling is only applicable to the national capital region, its persuasive effect will be felt nationally -- and may persuade other NGOs to file separate cases to make the holding binding nationally. A much better resolution than the 2004 dismissal by the court calling the previous case a mere academic exercise.

Update: Britain's Channel 4 has a great video with its article on this piece of news.

01 July 2009

Movie Review: A Jihad for Love

The Muslim shahada "There is no god but God and Muhammed is His messenger" is repeated with such conviction, but without the haunting doubts of fanaticism, by many of the informants that you almost begin to believe that the future of Islam rests upon the shoulders of gay and lesbian Muslims. Even though I don't think that was the intention of the filmmaker.

The documentary follows the lives of several gays and lesbians who are Muslim. A number of them have left Islamist states like Iran and Eqypt for Canada and France, while others live in the country of birth -- like Turkey.

The debate over the place of homosexuality and Islam finds the same tensions that appear in every monotheistic Judaic religion. Repeated several times is the Qu'ranic verse cited by clerics throughout the world is the verse where God condemns the "Nation of Lot" at Sodom and Gomorrah. Gay and lesbian Muslims, however, point out, as do many gay and lesbian Christians do, that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and its condemnation by God involved nonconsensual sex (rape) and absolute disapproval of the mistreatment of visitors (inhospitality).

One of the first informants interviewed, who lives in a Muslim community in South Africa, was invited back to his community after being expelled, to discuss issues of homosexuality and Islam -- as apparently expelling him didn't resolve the underlying conflict the community is facing. He presents his arguments to a group from the community and they discuss it (as many clerics and scholars discuss it with other informants, on camera, arguing their points very level-headedly and without emotion).

Then, one old woman, who seems swayed by the informant's presentation says, "Islam commands us to learn from the cradle to grave." She insists that each member of the community not rely upon clerical interpretations and find out the truth of God for themselves -- including on this issue.

I was very much moved by this movie, much more than Dangerous Living -- which discusses the Cairo 52 case -- but seems to flatten the experience of non-European/non-American gays and lesbians as though the forms of extrajuridical, everyday patriarchal based violence a bakla in the Philippines experiences is equivalent to the state-sanctioned, extraordinary religion-based violence a gay man in Egypt experiences. (I mean there are similarities, but they were not treated very well by Dangerous Living.)

If you have any interest in the relationship of homosexuality to monotheism (or have your doubts or concerns), or you have a general interest in the relationship of sexuality to religion, this is definitely the movie to watch.