28 January 2011

Ugandan Gay Activist Assassinated

David Kato Kisule

"Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay next to a headline reading "Hang them"." from BBC.

from GayUganda site

27 January 2011

Hawaii to Have Openly Gay Justice

"McKenna would be the first openly gay member of the Hawaii Supreme Court."

25 January 2011

Movie Review: College Boys Live

It wasn't until the end did I realize exactly what I was watching here. It's a documentary about a chat/porn site called College Boys Live. When the footage for the main part of the documentary was taken, it was 2001 or 2002. A whole house is wired with cameras and computers where young men live, prance about naked, have sex and perform drama. It would have been very easy to just do a soft porn under the guise of a documentary, but the filmmaker avoids that very well.

This reminds me this queen who made a lot of money off of iChat or iFriends or some similar named computer website where she would be paid like US$5 to US$10 a minute to chat and have cyber sex with paying guys. The transgender category is very popular internationally and she was able to afford to buy a million dollar home (with a mortgage) right on the beach. She would have these huge Sunday feasts for all her friends, etc.,. But then, after a year or two, she just totally burnt out and melted down. The 2000 or 2001 Cadillac Escalade was repossessed and she lost the house.

What struck me about this film is how totally oblivious the owner is about some very very fundamental aspects of his business although it becomes much more evident earlier on that he may not necessary have the management skills to successfully execute his business long-term. The end helps put it all in context: the relationship of capital and bodies in a postmodern, cyberworld.

23 January 2011

Movie Review: Watercolors

I decided to watch this originally because Greg Louganis, my childhood Samoan diver-crush, was cast in it. Surprisingly, though, by the time I watched it I had forgotten that I wanted to watch it because of Greg. Greg plays a kontrabida and does it so well, I didn't recognize him.

Okay, well, since 80% of gay movies are coming out stories, to be a good gay movie, you really have to have something that wows me. And something about this movie did wow me:

Yes, well. Kyle Clare who plays "Carter" in the movie did an excellent job of playing a conflicted young man where confusion or complexity over sexuality plays only one of multifaceted general confusion of adolescence -- and weaves it so well, you don't realize he isn't a 17 year old, James Dean like, rebel with a father complex.
Sorry, I know I'm pandering. But was it a dream or was it real? You'll have to watch and see. If you ever had a crush on a sexually ambiguous guy or well, flirted with the gay tripper variety, you likely will identify with the main character Danny. If you were yourself confused or conflicted about your sexuality (not conflicted about being gay but being conflicted about the possibility of being gay or having same-sex attraction), then you won't identify with Danny. Danny's character also did well to play his part but this movie is really targeted and directed at Carter.

I think there are parts of me that had very similar experiences with Danny, much more so than with Carter, yet I wonder how life would have been had I had an adolescence like Danny. I wonder.

20 January 2011

Movie Review: Different for Girls

I have no idea how I missed this movie so long ago. I mean I avoided lesbian movies, I know boo for me, but I really never even heard of this movie at all. At all. And then it appeared. We have two boys (Paul Prentice and Karl Foyle) in prep school that have some intense connection which the other boys read as: gay. They part ways after school only to run into one another later in life but this time, Paul runs into Kim Foyle. Paul has a beautiful girlfriend but the magnetism of high school reappears and now through the complexity that homosexuality is no longer a threat for Paul.

(Rubert Graves as Paul Prentice)

If you have some extra time, you might enjoy it. If you enjoy the tribulations of the transgender life theme, this is the movie. It does go a little slow in places, but nothing to complain about in the writing.

15 January 2011

Western Astrology to Survive

The precession of the equinoxes and the semesterly discovery of a 'thirteenth' constellation by introductory astronomy students is apparently news this week. Every semester, introductory astronomy courses all over the world, discuss the precession of the equinoxes, that is, that in the real solar zodiac, the sun actually does not appear in the same apparent position against the zodiac every year, but returns approximately every 25-26,000 years to the same spot.

You may be aware of this indirectly in the form of platonic months: Age of Pisces, Age of Aquarius, etc., The apparent position of the sun at the vernal equinox moves in retograde motion against the zodiac in a 25-26,000 year cycle. In other words, the Age of Pisces is the age in which the sun, at the vernal equinox, appears in Pisces. And as the years progress, it slowly moves retrograde through Pisces (the Christian era) until somewhere around now, the Age of Aquarius, where the apparent position of the sun at the vernal equinox begins to move through Aquarius.

But what does this mean for the presence of a 13th zodiac sign or the precession of the equinoxes? First, the real solar zodiac is not the 'tropical zodiac' of Western Astrology, as Swiss Psychiatrist Carl G. Jung stated:
And yet anyone who can cast a horoscope should know that, since the days of Hipparchus of Alexandria, the spring-point has been fixed at 0ยบ Aries, and that the zodiac on which every horoscope is based is therefore quite arbitrary, the spring-point having gradually advanced, since then, into the first degree of Pisces owing to the precession of the equinoxes.
Jung wrote this almost century ago, so none of this is news at all. I will continue to quote as he gives a brilliant understanding of why horoscopes work in spite of the fact that the zodiac in Western astrology does not coincide with the solar zodiac:
Primitive man is not much interested in objective explanations of the obvious, but he has an imperative need--or rather, his unconscious psyche has an irresistible urge -- to assimilate all outer sense experiences to inner, psychic events. It is not enough for the primitive to see the sun rise and set; this external observation must at the same time be a psychic happening: the sun in its course must represent the fate of a god or hero who, in the last analysis, dwells nowhere except in the soul of man. All the mythologized processes of nature, such as summer and winter, the phases of the moon, the rainy seasons, and so forth, are in no sense allegories of these objective occurrences; rather they are symbolic expressions of the inner unconscious drama of the psyche which becomes accessible to man's consciousness by way of projection -- that is, mirrored in the events of nature. The projection is so fundamental that it has taken several thousand years of civilization to detach it in some measure from its outer object. In the case of astrology, for instance, this age-old 'scientia intuitiva' came to be branded as rank heresy because man had no yet succeeded in making the psychological description of character independent of the stars.
(Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Unconscious, Collected Works, vol 9, paragraph 7)

It is fascinating that the precession of the equinoxes and Ophiuchus appears as a "news" topic at this moment (the present Jupiter-Uranus conjunction?) and the people making it news are scientists. From the perspective Jung notes above, something very interesting is occurring in our psyches, just what I don't know. Ophiuchus, by the way, is the serpent-bearer.

14 January 2011

Book Review: Men Like That

John Howard is a professor in American Studies at King's College, University of London and now its chair. This book, published ten years ago, is an oral history based story of the history of queer life in twentieth century Mississippi.

I've read so many histories of gay life in the U.S. that they sort of get repetitive -- although most recent, I really enjoyed The Gay Metropolis. It may because that was the last substantive 'gay history' book that I read, that I found Men Like That to be so fascinating. It is polemically opposed to the New York/San Francisco centric tellings of gay history. However, like Take the Stranger by the Hand, American gay history is very complex.

I have to admit that I don't know much about Mississippi and so there were periods in the book where I felt dragged out or was reading variations of One Teenager in Ten or Two Teenagers in Twenty. However, there were a number of things that I found interesting -- which I can assume from the way the history was told were not focal points.

First, the crisis in sexuality in the South only appeared as a consequence of how Mississippians reacted to the national civil rights movement that swept the South in the 1960s. While Mississippi remained deeply committed to apartheid and a segregated society, both local and national shifts from race baiting turned to sexuality in the form of gay baiting. It was a very slow process in Mississippi that allowed Howard to really pull apart the various strands: racism, anti-communism, xenophobia, religiosity, sexism, classism. One of the most significant national counter-movements in the 1970s to the sense of destabilization of social norms in 1960s in the US was the strengthening of evangelical Christianity. In Mississippi, like many rural areas, the church was already a central form of social organizing. The big difference, is that, when evangelical Christianity aimed at gays, the good folks of Mississippi moved toward that fundamentally reshaping sexuality and gender in Mississippi.

Second, which really could be its own book with additional research, was the story of John Murrett, his murder by two Air National Guard cadets, and how the Mississippi police forcefully sought and received a life time conviction. That's right. A gay guy is murdered and the police use all of their efforts to get the evidence and arrest of two military cadets that leads the first to a life time without parole conviction and the other to a settlement plea of 20 years. The defense used the "he came onto me" defense, which failed, and the judge limited the defense from using the victim's "debauchery" in cross examining prosecution witnesses. The victim was not a Southern and not from Mississippi. And, this all occurred in the mid-1950s! Before gays became a major target of evangelical Christianity.

In any event, more of these locally oriented, local histories of gay life are interesting and worth pursuing. However, the danger is that it can be too local and then it ends up being just a series of inuman session talk-stories which provide little interest to anyone if they are narrowly told for/to gays. Howard avoids this problem well -- although at times, there are sections which totally veers from the gay history -- but in the end are necessary, to avoid losing the readers in homo-parochialism. And the chapter on Mississippi scandals really nicely wove all of the pieces together.

The version I read was a 418 page paperback published by the University of Chicago Press (November 1999), ISBN-13: 978-0226354712. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was at amazon.com.

13 January 2011

Movie Review: Fruit Fly

I won't pretend to know what its like being an Asian-American living in California or anywhere else in the U.S. I have many relatives that have migrated to California and I have some idea how this works. It certainly isn't Gregg Araki's Totally Fucked Up. And that is okay. It's like post Totally Fucked Up and nobody dies at the end. It's also a musical and well. I think that's the best part of it. The break out into song is spectacular. But I heard there was a budget crunch so that's fine.
The story totally missed the orphan psychology aspect of it and well, the song writer seemed a little self-absorbed. Yes, the songs are clever but they aren't THAT clever. Actually, I found Aaron Zaragoza, who plays a pouting runaway teen, to be one of the best actors -- although sometimes his lines didn't really connect with the rest of the story. Sometimes its like, the movie breaks and Aaron Zaragoza appears, then the movie moves on -- without him. Zaragoza plays the character of runaway teen as well as I am familiar with them -- like Herbs. It turns out that he's made a movie and is really into showbiz. You can read more about him at his website.

If you have some spare time, it wouldn't hurt to watch. You might even enjoy it.

10 January 2011

Movie Review: Eyes Wide Open

Again, as I've stated at least once, I really don't know anything about Israeli cinema or ultra Orthodox Jewish culture except indirectly through Israel-Palestinian news. This movie could have been set in any backward, narrow-minded village or small town anywhere in the world. There is a fairytale like quality to the movie -- partly due to really excellent cinematography. Think of The Crucible except the town has no Winona Ryder stirring things up, but rather, the community is already highly, highly enforcing its very narrow range of normative standards on their own people.

While movie critics see the struggle between desire and religious obligation, I see the struggle in the movie in much more broad terms. It is the struggle between the individual and the community. It is the struggle between containment and bringing new meaning into life. Having no background in Judaism, I did a little a research on Hasidic Judaism. It turns out that this form of Judaism was a reaction to "overly legalistic Judaism." Hasidic teachings focused on the sincerity and concealment of holiness in the common tao and their shared equality with the scholarly elite with a "emphasis on the Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer, deeds of kindness, optimism, encouragement and fervour.
Whom does the grail serve?

Aaron's struggle with the young Ezri (above, photo not from the film) provides the template for the redemption of a declining conscious organization of life. The film ends indeterminately. I wish not to present too fully my own opinion on this as it might spoil the ending. But, let me just say, that Hosea, a Hebrew prophet, was commanded by God to marry a prostitute, Gomer, and sire children by her and remain with her as she sleeps with other men. But what happens if Hosea were not to redeem Gomer but to stand, dumb and silent, like the young Perceval in the Grail Castle, before the Fisher King? Would Gomer ever be redeemed as the Fisher King was? Or, like the late Roman culture, simply be cast aside in favor of its opposite, Christianity?

This film requires attention and patience, but is worth watching.