30 September 2011

29 September 2011

What...

28 September 2011

Smoke...

26 September 2011

16 September 2011

love of my life

15 September 2011

Miss Angola

09 September 2011

Movie Review: Love is the Devil


Well, the title may be true in a broad and abstract manner. I am only generally familiar with Francis Bacon's work (that is the 20th century artist) and almost nothing about his life. In another life, he would have been another two bit drag queen. Instead, he is a famous, rich asshole who likes to have rough sex with the young men whose lives he otherwise controls.

It was difficult to finish watching, only because I'm not enchanted by Francis Bacon's work or his life.

06 September 2011

Book Review: Islamic Homosexualities

Stephen O. Murray is an independent American social scientist who has extensively studied and written about homosexualities around the world. Will Roscoe is another independent American scholar who has written extensively on homosexualities in North America.

I have a relative who is Muslim and he spent several years in the middle East involved in Muslim charitable organizations. Although typically open-minded and gay-positive, he swore over and over that he never met a gay Muslim. This naturally has always varied from my limited experience with gay Muslim men in Muslim societies. I mean, I only spent a few days in one Muslim society when I was younger but I was propositioned to have sex several times a day by other guy around my age. Maybe it was just the city I was in? The chapter on modern day prostitution by young men in Pakistan seems to echo what many young men in our country do to make an extra buck -- gay sex.

This book, however, is filled with so many fascinating aspects of the Arab world's and Islam's sexualities that it is worth reading if you are interested at all in anthropological studies in sexuality or religious interaction with sexuality. I particularly enjoyed Arabian Nights so I found this to help contextualize those stories, somewhat.

Here is one excerpt cited by Murray:

Sultan Mahmud [reigned from Ghazna, 988-1030], accompanied by Talhak, the jester, attended the sermon of a certain preacher. When they arrived the preacher was saying that whoever had made love to a young boy, on the day of judgment would be made to carry him across the narrow bridge of Sirat, which leads to heaven. Sultan Mahmud was terrified and began to weep. Talhak told him: "O Sultan, do not weep. Be happy that on that day you will not be left on foot either."

Another anecdote calls into question the clerical preaching against homosexualities:

A preacher was saying in Kashan that on the day of Resurrection the custody of the holy well of Kothan [in Paradise] will be with Imam 'Ali [the cousin of the Prophet], and he will give its water to the man of anal integrity. A man from the audience got up and said, "Your reverence, if this is the case, he will have to put it back in the pitcher and drink it all himself."

Although our country is not a Muslim majority country (although hanging around the tiangge in Manila you'd never know), our closest geographical and linguistic neighbors are: Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

The book is not an exposition in Islamic jurisprudence or theology so it would not be a good starting point to better understand the reasoning behind official condemnation of homosexuality in much of the Muslim world. However, if you'd like to get a better sense of what people were doing while officaldom was condemning homosexuality, it's a fascinating read.

If you consider how patriarchal and misogynistic many Muslim countries are, it is only natural that homosexuality of the power-differential type would play a prominent role (especially where access to women is severely restricted). Aside from the strict sexuality approach to reading this book, I found the chapter on the Ottoman slave trade to be a fascinating way to avoid military authority usurping the civilian sovereign -- and its consequences for family relations including sexuality!

The version I read was a 392 page paperback published by NYU Press (February 1, 1997), ISBN-13:978-0814774687. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at amazon.com.

05 September 2011

Book Review: Nationalism and Sexuality

George Mosse was a German-American professor of history (Bascom Professor) at the University of Wisconsin Madison. He also taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

This was one of the first books I read in what I would consider studies in sexuality and sexual orientation. In a bend to history, I read it not because of an interest in sexuality but because someone had told me its central thesis was that institutional attempts at bowdlerization always preceded systemic fascist violence.

As I waded through Mosse's prose, much of it was confusing. I read it with Norbert Elias's Civilizing Process. Looking back, its funny how these kinds of text which are seemingly meaningless to youthful eyes could be so impactful in terms of theoretical orientation.

In essence, Mosse demonstrated in this book that understandings of sexuality constantly threatened European bourgeois sensibilities and ended up forging an alliance with nationalism that insisted on controlling sexuality as a form of proper sensibility and proper functioning of the state. Through this arrangement, controlled sexuality came to define and haunt bourgeois society's very existence.

Mosse moves deliberately and carefully through the maze of historical evidence to show how masculinity and abnormality came to characterize a set of outsiders who had to be controlled and then, eventually, sent to the death camps.

The version I read was a 232 page hardcover published by Howard Fertig (first edition) (May 1985), ISBN-13:978-0865273504. I would look for the paperback version though as it was cheaper and readily available. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at abebooks.com for the paperback version.

04 September 2011

Movie Review: Rivers Wash Over Me

Although it now has been many years since I was a teenager in high school, I felt emotionally this movie hit the nail on the head with the complexities of being different in a parochial backwater with a fairly nuanced treatment of race relations and power. Here's the summary:
When his mother dies, young teenager Sequan Greene leaves New York City to live with relatives deep in rural Alabama, where he tries to keep his homosexuality a guarded secret with little success. But when his cousin best friend's rebellious girlfriend recognizes Sequan's orientation, she befriends him and eventually introduces him to her gay brother, Jake.
To the point, the movie is about the angst of being a gay teen in a world where the avenues for meaningful emotional intimacy are few or nonexistent. At a critical moment in the movie, Jake and his sister introduce Sequan to swimming and we hear Take Me to the River in the background. It was a nice juxtaposition since the story is mostly a trial-by-fire.

03 September 2011

Movie Review: Parallel Sons

As the movie poster says "one of the most memorable american indies of the decade." I'm not sure if this is a facetious statement like "Perhaps, one day, this century will be known as Deleuzian" or if it was meant to be serious. I was bored through most of the film although the film's twist at the end made me feel like I got some credit for sitting through the whole thing. After reading some other reviews, I actually feel like it was due to budget constraints that the vision for the story was much bigger than the available paint and canvas -- too bad. Of course, the other point is that it came out in 1995 (although I did not realize this until reading the reviews after) and I don't recall it in the 1990s. Here's the short summary of the movie:
Seth is a bored 20-year-old drinker obsessed with African-American culture, although he's never met a black person. When he encounters a black man bleeding from a bullet wound and wielding a gun, Seth helps him, and the two form a close relationship.
Okay, so you can see where this could easily go. I was very fascinated by the symbolism but the treatment was uneven and bunched up near the end. If you are doing the marathon DVD watching for knowledge of the history of gay cinema, this should be on the list.

02 September 2011

Book Review: The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology

Mark Jordan is the Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School. He wrote this book and then wrote a sequel entitled Recruiting Young Love which I have reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

This book is nothing like the next book except that they are both period pieces about how Christian conservatives like to control sexuality in some pretty psychologically crazy ways and how those ways are characterized by then-present hostilities with foreign nations.

The first tid-bit that I found to be tremendously fascinating was the story of St. Pelagius. You see. In Spain, a thousand years ago, a battle was raging between Christians and their Moorish/Muslim overlords. Apparently some well known bishop was captured, but in his place, he sent his distant young cousin/nephew, Pelagius, who was a hotty. How do I know a young nephew of a captured bishop was a hotty, because apparently every hagiographer that wrote about him for the next three hundred years makes his hotness one of the central themes of this Catholic saint's martyrdom.

You see, the caliph who captured the bishop and took Pelagius as the substitute was smitten. And apparently, as we are led to believe all Muslims are this way, the sultan wanted Pelagius who rebuffed him. I read the translations Jordan provided, and frankly, I thought he was a big prissy bakla that didn't want to put out for some old man. The caliph told him he'd have all the riches in the world and live the life of someone being kept by a sugar daddy. Pelagius wasn't having it. Well, as you can tell, he was eventually killed. And what do our hagiographers tell us happened to him? In his divine beauty, he went to heaven where he lived the glorious life of someone being kept by a sugar daddy -- and not just any sugar daddy, the sugar Father.

Anyhow, this hagiography apparently is the origin of how sodomy, as a sin appeared in Christian theology. In Bowers v. Hardwick, the infamous US Supreme Court case that upheld a Georgia sodomy statute in the 1980s, only to be overruled 20 years later, the court's opinion said they sarcastically said they would not challenge a law that existed since the time of Henry V (fourteenth century English monarch). But you see, they were off by about 300 years. Sodomy was invented as a category of thought a few hundred years before that.

Jordan then goes into an extended exposition about how the theologians and confessional-manualistas went into this long and tortured process (tortured in the affective sense) of trying to contain the latent explosion that lie just beneath the surface. One of the biggest dangers facing the confessional-manualistas was how to extract confessions of man-on-man sex without giving confessees any ideas, tips or pointers.

You see where this is going? It's worth the read if you are or were Catholic or are interested in how religious thought has shaped the present struggles of LGBT folks throughout the world.

The version I read was a 200 page hardcover published by University of Chicago Press (May 1, 1997), ISBN-13:978-8486329402. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at abebooks.com and amazon.com for the paperback version.

01 September 2011

Movie Review: Just Say Love

Well well well. I am not the biggest fan of the dialogue-only genre -- especially when the set is designed to resemble the set of a live performance. There was Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? and of course Rope, but those really weren't dialogue-only were they?

This is really a dialogue-only and I recall, somewhere a movie just like this that came out in the 1990s, but for the life of me I can't remember its name. It is shot almost exclusively in bed and in black and white. I think I fell asleep when I wasn't contemplating how to kill myself and end the boredom. This movie doesn't have that problem at all and in fact, I liked the ending, sort of, so it wasn't bad.

It's just one of those movies that you really have to enjoy sitting through seventy plus minutes of dialogue to enjoy, which I rarely do. So, there it is. If you had or have confusion regarding attraction to straight or straight-identified men, this would be a movie to torture yourself with.