19 September 2009

A Grandfather's Struggle with Coming Out

Imagine living a traditional life getting married to a person of the "opposite" sex, procreating and having kids, then deciding that honesty demanded you come out to your family.

There was a story on NPR about some oral history project the U.S. Library of Congress is doing. The NPR story featured a grandfather talking with his gay grandson about his own coming out to his family and life after marriage. The grandson part is a little lame -- not to belittle his experience, but it was. The NPR article online is also a little lame. I'd go directly to the audio portion and listen.

It would be very weird for me if either of my grandfathers (the live one or the dead one) were to be openly gay.

18 September 2009

Movie Reivew: No Regret

I admit that I saw this movie about a year ago before it was available in the Pacific and the United States. I was a big fan of Korean cinema before it became popular outside of Korea -- more than a decade ago. I loved this movie. Loved loved loved it. It was totally tragic in the Antigone/Agamemnon sense. The duty imposed by custom/tradition and the duty imposed by the heart.

The story is not very complex -- sweet and simple. Su-min, the main character, is an art student who loses his factory job. He decides to work as a prostitute in an upscale gay "host" bar. At first, he resists the overtures of Jae-min, a young wealthy gay guy, but they eventually fall deeply in love. This is fine until Jae-min's family pressures him to get married. Antigone, gay Korean style.

It is a nuanced and well filmed piece. I recommend putting this on the list of to see movies. It is also available at the Malaysian Filem Gay site.

17 September 2009

Movie Review: Dog Tags

The cinematography of this movie wasn't the greatest. I felt at times I was watching an afternoon special. However, despite the strangeness of American urban and rural life that I've been watching this week, the story was more universal. How do we mature into adults? I think the story says that we must make a conscious relationship to our puerile side or it will make its own relationship with the rest of our lives.
Nate Merritt enlists in the Marines in order to support his fiancée. But during a furlough in California, Nate meets an uninhibited gay man who leads him on a journey of self-discovery -- and gives him new insight into the father who abandoned him.
I wouldn't say this ended well or bad. It had a mixed ending, like life. I didn't seem to be able to find this anywhere so I may just be talking to the wind on this. If you've got the time, it is worth watching.

16 September 2009

Movie Review: Holding Trevor

I don't know if I didn't like this movie because of the bad acting, bad writing or if it reminded me of the short period in my life where I came into close proximity with American urban gay life.

In any event, these actors would have been much better in gay comedies like Eating Out or Another Gay Movie. The actors presented two dimension caricatures of American urban gay life that activists protest don't exist and gay mags promise do. The amount of material covered in the story was sparse and so, what would have been better as a short snap-shooting life in the gay ghetto, was strung out into a bad movie. (The main character's ex is a heroin addict so perhaps a connection.)

In researching this blog I discovered the movie was supposed to be a "dark comedy." I didn't get the joke. I do agree with the promise that when you change something in your life, everything else that supported the old way of living has to change or go. I didn't realize that was a point to this movie.

15 September 2009

Movie Review: The Mudge Boy

The fragments of rural America that I learn about from watching American movies and documentaries prepared me for this film. I now understand how and why gay white Americans as a group are so neurotic.

The story is fairly straight forward. 14 year old weird kid suffers his mother's death. He finds himself attracted to her clothing, speaking in her voice, and practicing giving head on his pet rooster's head. His father is perplexed and the neighborhood teens tease him. He befriends a group of older kids by buying them beer. He becomes close to Perry who has some secrets of himself.

I wouldn't put this on the top of my list of films to watch. But if you've got the time and interest, you won't be disappointed. Available on the Malaysian Filem Gay blog.

14 September 2009

We must cultivate love

Aristotle once wrote, “What a society honors, it cultivates.” I was stunned to watch television one evening to discover that Manny Pacquiao had thrown his support behind Chavit Singson's violent and brutal assault of his former mistress and mother of five of his illegitimate children, Che Tiongson.

(Che Tiongson)

Singson alleges that he entered Tiongson's apartment finding Tiongson having sex with Richard Catral, her current boyfriend. Singson referred to it by a criminal law term “in flagrante delicto” (meaning being caught red-handed). He admits to assaulting her and admits that his bodyguards stripped Catral and tortured him. He claims he had to intercede with his bodyguards to limit their cruelty toward Catral.

(Richard Catral)

Tiongson, who was photographed with substantial evidence of violent assault, stated that she was able to escape Singson by climbing over her balcony and escaping to her neighbors house.
If we are to accept Singson's belief that Tiongson is his “common law wife,” would his brutality be acceptable? No. No human has any right or privilege to assault another human. This is true whether the person is one's child, spouse, partner, friend or otherwise.

Violence of this nature tells us two things. First, that there is no love in the relationship. It is a relationship of power and domination. Second, while the dominating and power-driven nature of the relationship is evident, this form of relating simply channels Singson's total out of control disposition. This is what we can gather simply from Singson's own admissions.

(Chavit Singson)

If we take a closer look at what he says, however, we find that he is in more precarious position. First, his legal wife is Evelyn Verzosa. Their marriage was not otherwise annulled or dissolved. Therefore, Singson cannot have a common law wife, as defined by Article 34 of the Family Code of the Philippines (E.O. No. 209) The law does not recognize any special relationship between them and never has.

If Singson had a good faith belief that he and Tiongson were still together simply as boyfriend-girlfriend, he ought to ask himself why it is that his partner has decided to couple and relate to another man. The only answer to that question that could possibly result in a violent and brutal assault is if the relationship was based upon fear, domination and violence.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote, “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking.” The relationship as Singson understands it is not founded on love. And, it appears, that the relationship had ended well before Singson's actions.

This form of relating, however, continues to be a problem in our community and in our culture – worldwide. Manny Pacquiao's support of Singson is an embarrassment to himself and the boxing and sports world. A sport is an organized and competitive activity governed by a set of rules or customs requiring fair play where the physical capabilities of the competitors is the primary judge of the outcome.

I just don't see the fair play in someone and their group of body guards breaking into a private residence and assaulting two people viciously and brutally. I also know many people from Vigan and surrounding towns and I don't think anyone would agree that it's customary to do that. It certainly didn't follow any rules. It can also hardly be called competitive. Perhaps the only resemblance of Singson's terror has to sports is that the physical capabilities of the people involved was the primary determinant of the outcome – Tiongson and Catral were brutally assaulted.

(Another Photo of Richard Catral)

Singson has also dared Malacanang to fire him under the belief that such a thing will not occur.

And this is where the moment of truth appears. What a society honors, it cultivates. If we honor the will to power, domination, brutality and violence, we cultivate a world driven by power and domination. If we honor love and responsibility toward one another, we cultivate love.

We must cultivate love.

09 September 2009

Movie Review: Six Degrees of Separation

I became familiar with this movie in 1996, yet its taken me 13 years to watch it. Will Smith stars in this homo-flick and was likely the reason why I didn't watch it in 1996. I didn't find him attractive -- he was a clown of Bel Air. But now as we have aged together, I decided to watch it since its one of the very very few homo-flicks I haven't seen.

It's a fascinating movie. I don't want to give away any surprises, but this is what Netflix said about the movie:
Paul is a charming and engaging young con artist who appears one day on the doorstep of Flan and Ouisa Kittredge. Professing to be a friend of the affluent couple's son, Paul spins a tale of celebrity and despair that deeply affects the pair and their socialite friends.
In the process, he ends up seducing a really handsome white guy and a number of other strange and curious things. It is a fascinating psychological thriller without the slasher/gore kind of thing. The movie starred Will Smith, Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing, Ian McKellen, Mary Beth Hurt, Bruce Davison and Heather Graham.

08 September 2009

Movie Review: The River

I didn't watch this movie very attentively and I didn't really know what to expect. Netflix said this:
A mother, father and son live together in a small apartment in Taipei but lead very separate lives. The son drifts through life without a job; the mother is an elevator operator who's having an affair; and the father pursues illicit pleasures in the city's gay saunas. When the son is stricken with agonizing neck pain, seemingly from taking an ill-advised dunk in the polluted Tansui River, the family is driven on a quest to alleviate his pain.
I don't expect you to watch this movie so I will ruin the ending for you. If this interests you at all, don't read any further. A mother has a pornography-copying pirate lover, the father visits gay bathhouses, and the son meets up with a young girl that he's attracted to who gets him a job as an extra playing a floating corpse in a polluted river.

The mother engages in incestuous overtures to the son. The son gets a neck-spasm/twitch that doesn't go away and the family goes on a quest to fix it: they visit the monk, the chinese doctor, etc.,. Somewhere in this process the son is horny and goes to a bathhouse and ends up having sex with his father in the dark (this is not like Lihim Ni Antonio, the father is not a young porn star named Uncle Jonbert, but an ugly old Chinese man). Subsequent to orgasm, the father discovers what has occurred, strikes the son and then doesn't again speak of the matter. The movie doesn't resolve.