30 November 2016

Movie Review: Me Him Her

Me Him Her is a great, light-hearted romantic comedy. The story is about up and coming Hollywood celebrity Brendan. Brendan "discovers" that he's gay and calls his childhood friend Cory to come out to Los Angeles to "help him." The question is, however, what is help. Cory sleeps with Gabbi on his first night and gets distracted by Gabbi from helping Brendan. Gabbi's a lesbian. It's lighthearted but has a good story.

28 November 2016

Movie Review: A Very Natural Thing


This is one of those movies that I had read about but didn't see long ago. It is interesting to watch now. It uses real footage of gay pride events in the early 1970s. The story is of David who withdraws his monastic vows and becomes a public school teacher. David learns about the gay world and ends up with Mark. David wants to settle down into a monogamous relationship like the heteronormative world while Mark wants to be free and open. Eventually David breaks up with Mark and eventually meets Jason, a divorced father. The movie is significant because it attempts to tell a story about homosexuality and heteronormativity and it is set in the backdrop of the early 1970s. We get a glimpse of the gay white male New York life of the 1970s from the perspective of the 1970s.

26 November 2016

Movie Review: Gayby Baby

Gayby Baby is a documentary about four Australian children -- Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham -- being raised by gay or lesbian parents. It was directed by a woman who was raised by lesbians. The documentary's point of view is the children's view not the parent's view. It is clearly not directed with a directed political aim. We learn about how children move through the throws of childhood and adolescence live in the circumstance of same-sex parents. The answer: about the same.

I found the story of Graham, who has some developmental learning problems related to his birth parents, the most interesting. It may have been complicated by the fact that his dads move to Fiji -- which is not particularly open about same-sex relationships. Graham shows resilience.

24 November 2016

Movie Review: Tab Hunter Confidential


This documentary is based upon Tab Hunter's autobiography. In the book and in this documentary, he confirms the then long held rumors that he was gay. He had been in a relationship with Anthony Perkins, Ronnie Robertson, and his life partner Allan Glaser.  The documentary traces the forces in play in the 1950s in the context of the Hollywood movie industry and how they played out in the life of a gay man. The story is as much about Tab Hunter as the society he lived in and gives us the retrospective account of life as a closet gay 1950s heart throb.

22 November 2016

Movie Review: 4th Man Out


This is a very gentle, light comedy. Adam decides on his 24th birthday to come out to best friends: Chris, Nick and Ortu. He stumbles. But eventually he comes out. From there, the story meanders as best friends deal with the existence of the closet in the post-closet world -- a world of same-sex marriage.

20 November 2016

Movie Review: Mixed Kebab

This movie is a story about Ibrahim, a late twenty-something Muslim in Belgian. He likes people to call him Bram. His parents are Turkish Muslims, but they too were born in Europe but maintain a very strong Turkish Muslim identity. So Bram is gay and he falls in love with a 19 year old young man, named Kevin. He has an arranged marriage wife waiting for him in Turkey. So he goes to Turkey to meet her. But he brings Kevin along and it gets complicated. There's also Bram's brother, Furkan who can't get a job, is discriminated against and radicalizes. It gets super complicated. It's an interesting story about life in Europe, being Muslim, being gay. In parts it gets a little two dimensional about race and religion, but it's also nuanced in other places. Production values are great. You definitely won't feel like you've wasted your time.

18 November 2016

Book Review: The Temple of Perfection

Eric Chaline is a sports writer who lives in London.

This book is hardly an academic tome. This is more of a popular social history of the gym. So why is it here on this blog? Much of this history of the gym involves a history of gay men.

The Temple of Perfection is full of a lot of interesting history and details about exercise and the body in Western civilization and now, because of globalization, increasingly the world. Of course, how we see the body is intimately tied to systems of knowledge and the moral economies that those systems of knowledge operate in. So the book is also a history of the epochs of knowledge.

It is a little disorganized and Chaline spends some time on side details that don't see so important to the overall narrative. He posits three broad epochs of the gym. The ancient regime, the enlightenment and the modern period. The modern period history is the most compelling although there are some gaps between the role of sexuality between the enlightenment period and the modern period. He discusses the Foucauldean account of the two epochs but doesn't really analyze or tie the shift from one knowledge regime or the next, sexually, into the modern gym epoch.

Chaline does discuss how the AIDS epidemic and Western medicine's response. Gay men who had been wasting to their death were stabilized and revitalized by anti-retroviral drugs. To help restore these men to bodily health, they were prescribed steroids. And from there, the gay gym bunny was born. The hyper-masculinized/hyper-sexualized male body vaulted into a dominant image. He is able to place this into the rest of the modern history of body.

The version I read was a 272 page cloth published by Reaktion Books on May 15, 2015. ISBN: 978-1780234496. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

17 November 2016

Movie Review: Naz & Maalik

This is a story about two Muslim (African) young gay men - in a secret relationship -- in Brooklyn who hustle in buy-and-sell, over the course of one afternoon have their super closeted adolescent confusion ripped open by a mis-aimed FBI agent who mistakes the secretiveness about their sexuality with some kind of radicalization on the part on the boys. It has its light moments, but it touches on several deep subjects. Being gay in an African Muslim family, being Black and Muslim in the United States.

16 November 2016

Book Review: Professing Selves

Afsaneh Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University.

I have to admit that it took me a few months to read this book. I couldn't read it straight through. It was written by a historian but is more like an ethnography so it just took some breaks to get through.

Newspapers the world over have published the persecution of gay men in Iran over the years. It's well known in the media world. It sucks to be a gay man in Iran.

But apparently, in a post-modern twist, not all gays are equal. Interpreting the Koran, the Ayatollah allows those deemed under Islamic Republican medicine to be organically transgender, as opposed to mentally disordered (gay), to obtain state funded surgery and are "accepted" into society as opposed to sentenced to death.

Professor Najmabadi explains how this is and explains how this works. I'd say this should be required reading for any student in queer studies or LGBT studies.

The version I read was a 432 page paper published by Duke University Press on December 16, 2013. ISBN: 978-0822355571. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

14 November 2016

Book Review: Queer Indigenous Studies

Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics and Literature was editted by Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley and Scott Lauria Morgensen. Qwo-Li Driskill is a Cherokee and assistant professor of English at Texas A&M University. Chris Finley is a Colville Native having earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Brian Joseph Gilley is an associate professor and director of the First Nations Education and Cultural Center at Indiana University. Scott Lauria Morgensen is an assistant professor of gender studies at Queen's University.

This turn in "queer theory" is interesting. I have read for twenty years now queer theory and in many ways, I have thought, does this middle-class white professor realize that his assertions of citizenship, reify the state and its settler colonial framework.

As LGBT activism moved from liberation to assimilation with the consolidation and concentration of capital in LGBT media, it became increasingly complicit in the settler colonialism as it directed its claims towards expanding the group of first class citizens.

Capitalism operates to tear asunder the traditional authority that binds a human to his "natural superiors" and leaves no nexus between humans other than naked self-interest, that is private property and the cash nexus. Of course, this is a great, although incomplete, definition for settler colonialism.  So queer indigenous studies helps to reorient or break epistemologically with the capitalist notion of gay/lesbian in indigenous communities while still allowing space to critique indigenous communities in their adoption (or negotiation of settler colonialism) of heteronormativity and patriarchy, for example.

I found the piece by Samoan painter and poet Dan Taulapapa McMullin to be the most intriguing and easily connected to issues of Philippine nationalism and indigenous peoples in the Phiippines, but all of it was very interesting.

The version I read was a 258 page cloth published by University of Arizona Press on March 15, 2011. ISBN: 978-0816529070. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

13 November 2016

Movie Review: Bitter/Sweet (Nigakute amai)


This light romantic comedy is about Maki, an advertising executive, who has loathes vegetables and lives off of jelly-packs and vitamins. She connects with Nagisa, a closeted gay vegetarian boys' high school teacher who is an amazing cook. Through very improbable circumstances, Maki moves into Nagisa's house. They clash as opposites while Maki tries to find a way to get Nagisa to like her back. It is not the deepest movie but it holds the attention of the audience and has a nice simple message. The only distraction is Kento Hayashi (pictured above, right). He just looks so anime-like that he's almost not human and I found myself trying to look for signs of humanness when he had close-ups.

11 November 2016

Book Review: Smash the Church, Smash the State!

Smash the Church, Smash the State was written by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a queer activist currently residing in San Francisco.

Smash the Church is a collection of short autobiographical accounts of queer activists who came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They include a range of classes and races.

While the subtitle of the book is "The Early Years of Gay Liberation", it may have been more apt to say "The Years of Gay Liberation." I say that because these activists are recounting the part of history when the dominant paradigm was "liberation" as opposed to assimilation.

I came of age when American capital used the AIDS epidemic to consolidate and concentrate the gay media around a few national political items -- same sex marriage being the number one. LGBT activism increasingly became dominated by anti-poor and anti-sex ideologies. The dance club/bar scene as conduit for political organizing because the end point for re-privatizing gay life. The journey because the destination.

Smash the Church allows activists to tell of their early adult life under other dominating cultural conditions in which LGBT activism was liberation activism. A few stories are biographies of those didn't make it to 2009. This is a definite read for those who remain perplexed by the national elite agenda of privatizing and assimilating same-sex desire into heteronormative and patriarchal frameworks.

The version I read was a 256 pagepaper published by City Lights Publishers on June 1, 2009. ISBN: 978-0872864979. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com