Sunday, 31 October 2010

Stephen Fry: Uncle Disgusted

Oh bottoms!
It seems that the much loved "National Treasure" etc etc Stephen Fry has said something slightly controversial.
And The Observer's Polly Vernon is not very happy about it.
"Broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry has tried to establish himself as an unlikely authority on female sexuality, claiming that straight women only go to bed with men "because sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship".
"In uncharacteristically extreme comments, the openly gay Twitter champion said he believed most straight men felt that "they disgust women" as they "find it difficult to believe that women are as interested in sex as they are"."
The quotes in question are taken from an interview in this month's Attitude - pictured above (Did Apple pay for the product placement?)
Says Fry; "If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas. Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking: 'God, I've got to get my fucking rocks off', or they'd go to Hampstead Heath and meet strangers to shag behind a bush. It doesn't happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it."
Fry, 6' 5", continues: "I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want. Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"
The Observer's Polly Vernon sounds pretty disgusted.
In fact, Fagburn detects a slight whiff of homophobia (Well, they all hate women, don't they...)
"The remarks denote a marked break in tone from a man whose public shtick tends towards inoffensive charm and gently upmarket wit and are likely to be roundly dismissed by those who have embraced the idea of women's ability to have unemotional, uncommitted sex as an empowered lifestyle choice."
Did you have anyone in mind, Polly?
Hang on - here's Rosie Boycott, an unlikely authority on gay male sexuality; "Women are just as capable as men are of enjoying sex. We don't go cruising or cottaging on Hampstead Heath because we don't need to. Cottaging on Hampstead Heath [sic] is presumably a hangover from the days when, sadly, [homosexuality] was illegal..."
Susie Orbach, the noted feminist writer and psychotherapist said; "I'm really intrigued by his notion that men's sexuality is disgusting in some way. Why would he believe that women could be so disgusted by men? Does he think there is something disgusting about sex?"
Umm... yes, since you ask, he does.
To quote a profile from The Independent; "Fry himself has been openly gay for ages, although for many years he was famously celibate, claiming disgust at the idea of "rubbing the wet slimy bits" of his body over other people."
His 16 years of self-imposed celibacy seem to have been prompted by a disgust for sex, and indeed for the human body.
His notorious article announcing he was celibate to the world, written for The Tatler in 1985 and much syndicated, was titled simply 'Sex... Don't Do It!'
(It's collected in Fry's Paperweight as 'The Tatler and Sex'. I can't find the text on the net, but there's an amusing YouTube rendition here).
"I gave coitus the red card for utilitarian reasons: the displeasure, discomfort and aggravation it caused me," he wrote.
Fry wondered; "What could ever be appealing about those damp, dark, foul-smelling revoltingly tufted areas of the human body that constitute the main dishes in the banquet of love?"

Stephen K Amos: Special K

Stephen K Amos, the black gay comic, does a Q&A in The Observer today.
He tells them; "I don't want to be labelled as 'the black gay comic'."
Presumably to stress this, The Observer has given the piece the strapline; "Stephen K Amos: 'I don't want to be labelled "the black gay comic"'
Amos is asked nine questions.
Seven are about being black and/or gay.
The Stephen K Amos Show debuted on BBC2 on Friday.
It was often painfully poor - a real shame as Amos is a terrific stand-up.
His own routines on the show were good, but the filler seemed to have come from a student revue.
Or worse, from Corne & Horden.
If it addressed being black or gay, it was in a trite and datedly stereotyped way; a queeny commissionaire picking people up on their bad dress sense, or a skit on a Nigerian TV station that looked like a borderline racist throwback to Q8.
What a waste.

Chicago Bomb Plot: Can't Happen Here

It appears that one of the explosive devices intercepted en route from Yemen to Chicago was addressed to the Or Chadesh congregation, a small gay group that used the Emanuel Synagogue building.
How dare they!
We in the West are perfectly capable of blowing up our gays ourselves.

The X Factor: Paint A Vulgar Picture

Professional posh gay Philip Hensher moves from The Independent to The Telegraph today - surely the latter is his spiritual home?
He's writing about The X Factor - 'A Vast Money-Making Machine'.
This isn't a critique of capitalism of course, it's just that Mr Hensher thinks this is all so terribly vulgar.
He notes; "Each rejected act, it appears, is booked to appear at the deathlessly naff London nightclub G-A-Y the following weekend..."
Is Mr Hensher aware that "naff" is polari?
It means he thinks it's "common" - which one may presume is the real problem the likes of the arch snob Philip Hensher have with The X Factor, G-A-Y and their working-class fans.

ILGA-Europe: Je Ne Sais Quoi

"The European Commission has spent £124,000 on a five day conference for 200 homosexual, bisexual, transgender and "intersex" activists," thunders The Sunday Telegraph predictably.
It's a lot of money, but I doubt it deviates far from the financial norm for such things, so why single it out - apart from out of homophobia?
The Telegraph describes the conference matter-of-factly, but in Colonel Blimp mode.
They still use the quaint word "homosexual", and put "intersex" in baffled quotation marks.
They're talking about the annual conference of ILGA-Europe – the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
Fagburn finds it hard to criticise ILGA-Europe's work, but only because I'm not sure what ILGA-Europe actually does.
Organise jollies like the above?
There's a section on their website explaining 'What We Do', but it left me none the wiser.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Kids Are All Right: All Grown Up

'Mum's The Word: The Kids Are All Right is a VERY moral comedy about family values'
The Daily Mail simply adores The Kids Are All Right.
"Liberals have predictably rushed to embrace the picture for its positive view of lesbian motherhood, but I suspect its appeal for mainstream audiences really lies in its underlying conservatism.
"This is one of those all-too-rare Hollywood films where parental duties and children’s feelings are given their proper weight, and adult irresponsibility is viewed with a clear and judgmental eye.
"At the same time, it’s pragmatic and compassionate. This is a moral tale, but with the ­humanity to acknowledge that we can’t all be moral, all of the time."
The Daily Express thought it was more than alright too; "an immensely likeable tale of modern families, complex relationships and the notion that every action has a consequence. Best of all is the way it feels true to life... Warmly recommended to anyone in search of smart, grown-up entertainment."
The Sun felt much the same; "An intelligent, well observed movie about adult relationships. The kids are alright but this is a film for grown ups."
The Telegraph warned its readers; "The set-up is one that will make some people gag."
No, not because it's about a lesbian couple.
Because they've got such a "perfect" life.
"Nic and Jules live in the sunny suburbs of California. Respectively, they’re a successful doctor and an aspiring landscape designer. They’ve been together for many years, have raised two smart children, Joni and Laser, and, though you sometimes detect a hint of anxiety in their eyes, they seem to have everything."
However Cosmo Landesman in The Sunday Times found a flaw; "In suggesting that married lesbians are essentially no different from married heterosexuals, I can’t help but feel the film is being a bit naive and avoiding the complex issues that would arise from such an arrangement. Having two mums or two dads must be different — not necessarily better — than having a mum and a dad. But in the world Nic and Jules’s family inhabits — a new-agey, green-is-good part of southern California — nobody seems to care about lesbian mums..."
And nobody seems to care about lesbian films anymore - or maybe just not about the ones where the lesbians belong to a nice "normal" middle-class family, in films that are "moral" with an "underlying conservatism".
But anyway, did any film critics not love The Kids Are All Right?
Did its Sapphic set-up make no-one's hackles rise?
How very grown-up.

David Burgess/Sonia Burgess: A Personal Ad

If someone who discovered a cure for cancer died, and the tabloids discovered they'd had a slightly unconventional sex life, Fagburn imagines the headlines would read;
'Cancer Boffin's Kinky Sex Shame'
The Evening Standard yesterday broke the news that the highly-respected human rights lawyer, David Burgess, had placed an advert on a fetish website as a "pre-op" transexual escort, Sonia.
Today's papers can hardly contain their excitement about 'Sex-swap Lawyer's Escort Ad' (The Sun).
Perhaps this excitement by the tabloids is relief - after they got so much so wrong about poor Gareth Williams.
Or as The Sun announced on August 26th; ''Murdered Spook Was A Cross-Dresser.'
The Lawyer pays tribute to Burgess's "trail-blazing" work on immigration law here.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Sonia Burgess/David Burgess: Identity Crises

'Tributes for tube death lawyer'
"Human rights specialist Sonia Burgess, known professionally as David, was killed by a train at King's Cross station," The Guardian reports.
A woman has been charged with murder.
"Tributes have been paid to a "trailblazing" human rights lawyer who died after falling under a tube train.
"Sonia Burgess, 63, known professionally by her legal name David, was struck by a train at King's Cross station during the evening rush hour on Monday."
This was taken from the Press Association story - the PA had foregrounded Burgess being talented, over being trans; 'Tributes to "trailblazing" Tube murder lawyer'
Other papers did the reverse - and struggled to find the right word.
The Sun in a story headed 'Tube death man was a lawyer called "Sonia"', called Burgess a "transvestite".
They used the above two photos side-by-side, captioned; "Two identities... Sonia and David"
Things are confused by the fact that the family knew her as Sonia - as shown in their statement - but Burgess was still working as David.
A situation most newspapers' style guides won't cover.*
In The Mirror Burgess was a "cross-dresser" - "Although legally a man, his family called him Sonia and were fully aware, as were his work colleagues, of his two identities."
Initially Burgess had been described by the Mirror online as "a cross-dressing man".
The Daily Mail chose "transgender" - "It is not clear whether he was undergoing medical treatment to become a woman."
The Times went for the unwieldy, "a transgender person".
In The Express and The Telegraph Burgess was a "transvestite".
The ever pompous Telegraph put the word in inverted commas - or "scare quotes" as they're known in the trade.
The paper added; "Police say he is officially referred to as "cross gender" or "gender variant".

* Trans Media Watch has Guidance for the Media online. It would have been best to use the umbrella term transgender - or simply trans.

Johann Hari: "Protest Works" - Nonsense

Johann Hari in The Independent, doubtless inspired by Paul O'Grady's outburst last Friday, joins in the chorus of condemnation for the Con-Dem Coalition's cuts.
"There is a ripple of rage spreading across Britain. It is clearer every day that the people of this country have been colossally scammed. The bankers who crashed the economy are richer and fatter than ever, on our cash. The Prime Minister who promised us before the election “we’re not talking about swingeing cuts” just imposed the worst cuts since the 1920s, condemning another million people to the dole queue. Yet the rage is matched by a flailing sense of impotence. We are furious, but we feel there is nothing we can do. There’s a mood that we have been stitched up by forces more powerful and devious than us, and all we can do is sit back and be shafted."
I love it when she's angry.
Harri says it doesn't have to be this way!
Let's turn that ripple of rage into a tsunami of anger and fight back - and everyone can learn from The Gays.
"To understand how and why protest like this can work, you need some concrete and proven examples from the past. Let’s start with the most hopeless and wildly idealistic cause – and see how it won. The first ever attempt to hold a Gay Pride rally in Trafalgar Square was in 1965*. Two dozen people turned up – and they were mostly beaten by the police and arrested. Gay people were imprisoned for having sex, and even the most compassionate defense of gay people offered in public life was that they should be pitied for being mentally ill.
"Imagine if you had stood in Trafalgar Square that day and told those two dozen brave men and women: “Forty-five years from now, they will stop the traffic in Central London for a Gay Pride parade on this very spot, and it will be attended by hundreds of thousands of people. There will be married gay couples, and representatives of every political party, and openly gay soldiers and government ministers and huge numbers of straight supporters – and it will be the homophobes who are regarded as freaks.” It would have seemed like a preposterous statement of science fiction. But it happened. It happened in one lifetime. Why? Not because the people in power spontaneously realized that millennia of persecuting gay people had been wrong, but because determined ordinary citizens banded together and demanded justice.
"If that cause can be achieved, through persistent democratic pressure, anything can."

* Fagburn has no idea where Hari's got this date from. I've never heard of it before, and I've written far too many pieces on the history of Gay Pride in London.
What does he classify as an "attempt"? Two fellas holding hands?
Hari's grasp of gay history can be shaky, and picked freely from the internet - a web of deceit.
Surprisingly nobody has taken Hari up on writing this bollocks in 2004.
"A San Francisco-based group called the Lavender Crescent Society sent five members to Iran in 1979 after the Islamic revolution there to spur an Iranian gay movement. They were taken straight from the airport to a remote spot and shot dead."
This is hilarious - You'd think if five American citizens were shot dead in Iran in 1979 it might have made the newspapers at the time - and five murdered gay activists would have merited a mention in the gay press at least, or made it into a single book of gay history.
Actually it's not surprising, he was writing about Iran and you can get away with saying anything bad you like about our Officially Declared Enemy number one.
Ho hum...

The Sun: Man Thanks Dog For Biting Him

Did you know The Sun outed the singer in dreadful BritPop hangers-on, Ocean Colour Scene, back in 1998 because they care?
"OCEAN COLOUR SCENE frontman SIMON FOWLER has praised The Sun for lifting the lid on his sexuality.
"The newspaper reported the revelation that he was gay after a former drummer of the band, Carolyn Hodrien, spilled the beans in a 1998 interview without Simon's knowledge.
"Despite being initially "horrified", Simon told me: "It was the best thing that ever happened to me, though it wasn't on the day it happened.
"I was in such a ludicrous position."
Just like now, then.
Simon Fowler smiles at the man from The Sun and says; "Thank you, massa."

Gareth Williams' Death: In The Bag?

Here we go again...
The Sun says; 'Bag Spook Died in 'Houdini' Sex Game'.
"BODY-in-the-bag spy Gareth Williams suffocated after a kinky Houdini-style sex game went wrong, detectives said yesterday.
The naked MI6 codebreaker was a fan of claustrophilia - in which people get sexual pleasure from confined spaces.
"Cops believe the 31-year-old maths genius died accidentally from lack of oxygen after he agreed to be locked in the 32-inch-long sports holdall by another person.
They reckon the person who zipped up the bag discovered him dead and fled the flat.
They have ruled out foul play but are still trying to trace the other person..."
Any evidence, M Poirot?; "An examination of his two laptops showed he visited websites on claustrophilia.
He also had links to a bondage and sado-masochism website..."
The Sun have also helpfully published a photo [above] of a "bag like one Mr Williams died in."
Although their sister paper said the bag was red.
The Daily Star concurs - nay it's "Official" - with one extra detail.
"...police believe they have solved the mystery after finding links to weird torture websites on the M16 officer’s laptops.
"One called Torture Garden gives advice and tips on bizarre fetishes like claustrophilia."
Do they mean he visited the site for Torture Garden (Nothing else comes up after an albeit brief Google), an extremely mild (pun intended) fetish club many "norms" go to cause it's rather fun?
The Daily Mail is on top-form, devoting acres to dismissing various rumours about Williams - and neglecting to mention how The Mail started most of them.
It's worth noting all papers mentioned here have quietly dropped suggestions that Gareth Williams was gay.
At least the Mirror was honest; 'Tests on spy's body draw a blank.'

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Gareth Williams' Death: Nobody Knows Anything - Official!

BBC News this evening quotes a Met spokesman;
"Results from comprehensive further toxicology tests carried out in relation to the death of Gareth Williams have come back negative, showing no trace of any drugs, alcohol, poisons or any other substances that would indicate cause of death.
"There are no plans to carry out any further tests of this type, but inquiries continue to try and establish a formal cause of death.
"Mr Williams' death remains suspicious and unexplained and inquiries into the circumstances continue."
So - in conclusion - nobody still has the foggiest idea how the poor man died.
Be fascinating to see how the papers spin this - ie no information at all - out over a few pages tomorrow...

Joel Burns Vs Craigery Morgan: Survival Of The Fittest

The Independent has gone big today on Joel Burns - the Texan councillor who gave a moving elegy to young gay men who have committed suicide, and spoke of his own struggle growing up gay in a small town and with a Christian father.
Thanks to the internet, it's turned him into an instant hero internationally - just add waterworks.
The Independent has published his speech in full online.
Yesterday The Guardian awarded Joel Burns their daily In Praise Of... editorial, applauding his "bravery".
It was moving, but in what way was it brave?
Mr Burns video was filmed by cameras in the council chamber and put on YouTube, and has been embraced as part of Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project.
As I type it's had over 2,224,000 hits.
I'm just a bit worried that it's become a kind of emotional pornography, with Burns breaking down in tears the money-shot.
There is another gay YouTube "sensation" this month.
Craigery Morgan's Surprise Party - where he lipsynchs to a Saturday Night Live sketch - went up a week before Burns'.
Craigery (sic) plays the part of an over-excited woman, but he doesn't perform in drag.
He's shirtless.
He's also really cute and buff and fit.
Young Mr Morgan has had over 4,540,000 views on YouTube - that's twice as many as Mr Burns.
Maybe Craigery should film an It Gets Better video?
Or maybe Joel Burns should have taken his shirt off in his?

Boyz: 1993-2006

Boyz magazine is marking its 1000th issue this week, with a look back over the last 19 years in Boyzworld.
It's fun, but a little bit frightening if like Fagburn you actually remember gay life in 1991.
I remember being given a copy of the first issue at London Pride that year and my heart sinking - it seemed like the triumph of the banalification of the British gay press.
It seemed a betrayal too - the people behind it were the people behind the then serious, political Pink Paper, and Boyz seemed like anything but.
There are two ways of judging any publication; what's it trying to do and how good is it at doing that?
David Bridle, Boyz co-founder, its first editor and now managing director, remembers the original formula he sketched out on a beermat; "We had already decided the new Boyz - originally to be called Boyz Own - would be based on the formula of succesful girl's teen magazines Just 17 and Smash Hits but aimed at gay men..."
"A male nude centrefold, an agony uncle, a Boyz doc, weekly listings for strippers and drag artistes, a gay astrologer, a weekly cartoon strip, and postal 'contact' adverts divided into fetish interests..."
When Bridle was editor Boyz did what it did badly; it wasn't sexy and fun, it was nerdy and boring.
It got good under Simon Gage, editor between 1993 and 1998.
"We just realised that if you wanted to get very serious messages across, you had to make them fun. You could say it was a pretty dark moment in our history, with Aids and a government intent on stamping us out with legislation like Clause 28, but rather than give into it, we made it fun to do the right thing. In at atmosphere of 'Gays, stop having sex!', we were very sex positive and just hammered home the 'Use a condom' message. Generally we were all about underlining what a great thing it was to be gay and never mind what the old cunts in the House of Lords were saying..."
It was in its own way quite subversive, a tradition carried on by his successor as editor, (David) Hudson, now with added Indie.
Hudson was dumped in 2006 and Bridle took over running it himself.
Bridle told Press Gazette; "Boyz has always been a young men's gay title, but we're at the stage where we need to remind ourselves what we're about. We're looking again at what an 18-year-old would want from the title."
ie Bridle wanted to make it more like a "girls' teen magazine" once more.
Ah well, it was good while it lasted.
So much of the gay press seems like cut-and-pasted press releases. Boyz at its best felt like you were reading queens writing about the things that actually excited them, or that riled them.
Both Simon Gage and Hudson could teach classes at working within and pushing against the constraints of the commercial gay press.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Queerty Vs Justin Bieber: My Word

On Saturday Queerty ran an item; 'Canadian's Douchebag Radio Host Dean Blundell Wrist Slapped For Calling Justin Bieber A Transexual 'She-He It''.
"Blundell — as you can hear in the audio clip below — refers to Beiber as a "he-she" and then a "she." And then an "it." And then a "transexual." While laughing."
Queerty said the "douchebag" DJ should be kept off the air.
Good for them.
Today Queerty runs a brief item on the - admittedly bizarro - Brazilian magazine cover of Justin Bieber shown above.
There's little beyond this picture and Queerty's sniggering headline;
'Justin Bieber, Trans Teen Star'

Newsflash! Stonewall - Riot Cancelled

The silly buggers at Stonewall have finally decided they do believe in equality and have come out for gay marriage.
From the press release today. "Stonewall is pleased to be widening its campaigning objectives to include extending the legal form of marriage to gay people. Our policy position on this is as below:
"‘We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it. We seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay people recognising their special and unique status.’"
What took you so long? Actually, you may not want to answer that.
Anyway, they're just in time to join the new Equal Love campaign.
Except Stonewall won't sign up to that - as it's campaigning for gay marriage and different-sex civil partnerships, which Stonewall don't support.

Banned Ice Cream Ad: The Commodification Of Outrage

A company that makes and pushes over-priced frozen muck has got a free ad in The Independent, The Telegraph, Fagburn and elsewhere today.
The Antonio Federici appeared only in Look magazine, and showed two priests in full robes eating a tub of ice cream "in a seductive pose as if they were about to kiss passionately", said the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
You can read the ASA adjudication here.
The adjucation says; "Antonio Federici said their advertisement did not mock Catholicism but reflected the grave troubles they considered affected the Catholic Church. They gave examples of issues that had been reported in the press, which they believed many people would find more offensive than an ad that celebrated homosexuality. They said the issue of gay and lesbian bishops and priests was one that currently divided the Church of England [sic] and was likely to continue to do so...
"They said they were Catholics but would continue to produce advertising that challenged the Catholic Church while they believed it remained troubled."
Upholding six complaints about the ad, the ASA noted the ad used the text "We Believe in Salivation" in reference to the taste of the product and to the image of the priests.
Yup, a piddlying six complaints about an ad which - tellingly - they only paid to put in one magazine.
The ASA said: "We considered the portrayal of the two priests in a sexualised manner was likely to be interpreted as mocking the beliefs of Roman Catholics and was therefore likely to cause serious offence to some readers."
To which the only reasonable response is; "So what?"
Do religions have some special staus at the ASA?
The ASA ruled; "The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Antonio Federici to ensure future ads were not likely to cause serious or widespread offence."
Eh? But surely they knew this was coming?
After the self-made outrage Federici caused by running an ad featuring a pregnant nun to coincide with the pope's visit in September, they publicised the kissing priests one - as Fagburn reported at the time.

• As before, here are some reasons why dairy products stink and you should go vegan.

In Defence of Jeremy Clarkson

Oh crap.
One of Fagburn's most favourite people, David Quantick, has written a defence of one of Fagburn's least favourite people, Jeremy Clarkson.
Even worse, Mr Quantick, has mounted a rather convincing defence.
'The BBC Needs Jeremy Clarkson To Be Offensive' graces the pages of The Daily Telegraph today.
It's not a defence of Jeremy Clarkson's offensive comments - he's in the news again because he's just made a joke about a "special needs car."
It's more saying that's just what the posh oaf does - big deal - and he gets off on people taking offence.
And the BBC jumps into action mainly because he's given its critics another stick to beat it with.
At least I think that's what Quantick's saying, it's all a bit forked-tongue.
David Quantick - the funniest writer the NME ever had, now rather big in radio and TV, writing gags for Harry Hill's TV Burp and stuff - likens Top Gear to a family; "Where James May is the posh mum and Richard Hammond the cheeky kid – Clarkson is the dad who says silly things and of whom nobody takes any notice."
A bit like Alf Garnett, then David?
"In his fight against what he sees as the PC BBC, Clarkson will carry on making jokes about black lesbians and disabled people, in the hope of angering someone who cares. But nobody does any more, except – rightly – those who seek to speak for the disadvantaged, and – wrongly – the dead hand of compliance, a BBC process apparently instituted not out of compassion for society's less fortunate, but out of fear of the corporation's critics."
Intriguingly, Quantick - who knows how TV works - argues that Clarkson's offensiveness is an act, and perhaps his USP to the BBC.
"Clarkson is a man whose inability to cleave to a liberal agenda makes the Duke of Edinburgh look like – well, the Duke of Edinburgh. But he isn't some rabid, racist goon: he's a seasoned broadcaster who repeatedly signs up for shows where he is allowed a lot of leeway and only censored after the naughty event
"It's almost as if – surely not! – the BBC realises that a large part of the appeal of Top Gear lies in Clarkson's apparently untrammelled political incorrectness, which is as much part of his schtick as Gordon Ramsay's swearing, Graham Norton's outrageousness, or Alan Titchmarsh's jumpers."
Fagburn will have to have a jolly good think about this one...

Brüno's Gaybashing Friends Sued

Self-confessed gay journalist, Mike Skiff, is suing Sacha Baron Cohen claiming he was assaulted by members of his film crew during location filming for Brüno in 2008, according to TMZ.
Seems Mr Baron Cohen didn't like Mr Skiff outing him when he appeared in character at a pro-gay demonstration in California against Proposition 8 - which proposed banning gay marriage in the state.
TMZ also claim the lawsuit alleges members of the Brüno crew "carried 'Yes on Proposition 8' signs contrived for the sole purpose of inciting and sparking unrest to enhance the dramatic effect of what they may capture for their film" - meaning they pretended to be homophobes protesting a gay rights rally to manufacture confrontation for their movie.
Only it looks like some of the crew weren't protesting.
Skiff was "physically yanked" and harrassed and intimidated by members of the film crew - Skiff filmed all this.
It makes for pretty grim viewing, especially towards the end when members of the Bruno film crew can be seen chanting "Yes to 8" at Skiff.
Interesting to note that Brüno was made by a bunch of homophobic bullyboys.
Watch Mike Skiff's film here.

The Sun: When Celebs Attack!!!

It's all been kicking off in Sunland again!
'DALE 'gay hater' in rant at student'
"EMMERDALE'S Adam Thomas apologised yesterday for making a "queer" jibe at a gay student."
I have no idea who he is either, but judging from his photo "gay hater" Dale looks a bit "gay".
Anyway... "Thomas, 23, snapped after Ricky Platts, 22, approached him in a McDonald's.
Ricky - who is openly gay - went up to say hello after he spotted the actor having a meal there."
"But he says he was stunned when Thomas replied: "Yeah, what about it gay boy?"
Ricky claimed Thomas then started "hopping up and down like a madman" and calling him and a pal - who was in drag - "queers".
Ricky was so shit scared he took out his mobile phone and filmed all this, his misery having been compounded by the fact that Adam Thomas plays a friend of that gay in Emmerdale!
Anyway, Adam Thomas has said he's sorry, so I hope we'll hear no more of this.
'Fan sobs at Boy George's foul rant'
"FOUL-MOUTHED Boy George left a woman in tears after tipping a drink over her because she was chatting during his act at a charity gig."
Luckily someone filmed that on their mobile, too - don't you just love the modern world?
There's a link to a shaky video of it on The Sun's site - and I have to say I can't say I blame George.
And finally... Jim Davidson is interviewed about his next panto.
Although thankfully this reactionary shitbag's celebrity ranking is so low they only put it in The Scottish Sun.
'COMIC Jim Davidson has been branded a right-wing, homophobic racist - surely he can't be that bigoted?''
All together now: Oh yes he is!
Poor Jim hasn't been on the tellybox since 2007 when he called Brian Dowling a "shirtlifter" on Hell's Kitchen.
The case for the defence, Jim? "And anyway, I've been out for dinner with Brian Dowling since that incident.
"Would I have done that if I REALLY was homophobic?"
He's also put famousgaycouple "Colin and Justin" in his new panto.
So there'll obviously be no jokes about them being poofs, there then.
I - literally - cannot fucking wait.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Gaz7etta: Not GayZetta

Another new title is launched today, Gaz7etta.
From the makers of the extremely succesful womens' fashion magazine, Grazia, this is a fashion magazine for men.
Straight men.
It all sounds a bit neurotically "manly" - a bit "This may be a mens' fashion magazine but IT. IS. NOT. GAY!"
There's some football manager bloke on the front cover, Lemmy's inside giving life coaching, steamy snaps of a young Carla Bruni, James Bond, Mad Men, "supercars", how to lose your beergut...
I'll have to go and find one of the 500,000 free copies of the "pilot issue" (me neither) they're apparently giving away.
I'd also like to find out how to pronounce Gaz7etta.

i: oh

i, the first quality daily paper in Britain for 25 years, was launched today by The Independent. Problem is you can't say much in 30 words. Is Bert gay? Well... [Sniiiiip!]

Scott King: Cher Genius

Scott King has a book out, Scott King Art Works.
It's lovely to look at.

Education: Making Homophobia History?

There's a really interesting story in The Guardian today; ''Lessons on gay history cut homophobic bullying in north London school.'
"A north London school which has developed lessons on gay historical figures who suffered persecution claims to have succeeded in "more or less eliminating homophobic bullying" in its classrooms and playgrounds over the last five years.
"The life story of the wartime code-breaker Alan Turing is among those being used to tackle homophobia. Authors Oscar Wilde and James Baldwin and artist Andy Warhol also feature.
"Now Stoke Newington secondary plans to share the lessons with hundreds of primary and secondary school teachers. By the summer, it will have trained more than a hundred teachers in how to "educate and celebrate" being gay."
The Guardian reports; "Elly Barnes, a music teacher, devised the lesson plans and training course with the help of colleagues. Her concern began when she heard a pupil say their "pen was so gay" when it snapped in two. Barnes's aim is to "eradicate homophobia from all schools" by giving staff the confidence and resources required to tackle the prejudice..."
"By looking at famous LGBT people in history, we've changed opinions and we have had a number of pupils come out," Barnes said. "We have also changed the language used in the school. I used to hear the word gay used all the time as a derogatory term. Now we hardly hear it."
This all sounds like good news - homophobia in schools is a crisis that desperately needs to be tackled, and classes like these can make pupils challenge and question homophobia.
So Fagburn gives much kudos to Elly Barnes (that's her in the photo).
There is a longer piece in the Education supplement which also contains four - very brief - quotes from pupils.
The Guardian journalists - Jessica Shepherd and Sue Learner - make the classes sound like a bit of a magic wand ("Abuse and harassment 'more or less eliminated'").
Surely a few lessons about "Famous Gays" can't have been that effective?
We're told nothing about the general culture/ethos of the school. What else do they do?
And I'd like to have heard more from more pupils. They say that some have come out since the lessons were introduced - again, great stuff.
Could we hear from them?
And the parents? It sounds like some of them are being educated as well.
But if the Daily Mail was running a story on this, they'd work damned hard to find some parents who are livid - 20something years after Section 28, the very idea of "teaching children about homosexuality" is still a politically explosive issue.
I also imagine - perhaps in other schools with a less liberal culture generally - that a gay kid could find the introduction of "gay history lessons" agonising...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Daily Mirror: Famous Man Bites Gay Dog

'Film star bullied gay neighbour' runs a Daily Mirror headline.
But like ye olde 'Famous writer dies' newspaper hoarding, if they really were famous you'd only need to print their name.
"A former film star who "wickedly" harassed his homosexual neighbour has been spared jail.
"Patrick Westwood, 85, constantly goaded Barrie Boxell, 57, the manager of his block of flats in Wandsworth, South London. Westwood - who acted with Michael Caine in The Last Valley and Vincent Price in The Pit And The Pendulum - had a cordial relationship with the victim until a row over a satellite dish in 2002.
"He has since provoked and humiliated Mr Boxell, calling him names and squaring up to him."
If you look up Mr Westwood on IMDB, he's had a long career, but he ain't no star.
Some highlights: Genevieve (1953, Mechanic uncredited), Reach For The Sky (1956, RAF corporal/driver uncredited), Carry On... Up The Khyber (1968, Burpa in crowd uncredited), Love Thy Neighbour (1975 TV series, dustman), Shelley (1980 TV series, second ambulance man)...
Does turning the bit-part actor Mr Westwood into a "film star" - like headlining the fact that Mr Boxell is gay - turn a non-story into a newstory?

Elton John & Eminem: "Two Diamond-Encrusted Cockrings"

There's a fucking HUGE interview with Sir Elton of John in The Daily Telegraph today.
The old bitch is on good form: Pop videos ("I fucking hate them"), D-list celebrities ("I loathe celebrity. I can’t stand it"), and Fabio Capello ("I cannot believe – and I hope you print this – that we employ a manager who still cannot speak English").
He gets a light grilling about playing at bigoted bigmouth Rush Limbaugh's wedding.
Mick Brown writes; "He faced similar criticism in 2001 when he joined Eminem on stage at the Grammy awards, ignoring the controversy about the rap singer’s allegedly homophobic lyrics. Eminem has now come out in support of gay marriage. 'For our civil partnership present he gave David and me two diamond-encrusted cock-rings.’"
Which would be wonderful - if only it didn't make Fagburn think about Elton John and David Furnish doing anything with them.

Sesame Street: Brought To You By The Letters G, A and Y

"Sesame Workshop says it's not out to appeal to a gay audience but with such recent actions as a 'True Blood' parody, inviting openly gay guests like Wanda Sykes, and an interesting tweet by Bert, some are feeling the love..."
Melissa Maertz reports for the LA Times.
Looks like the (non) story will go viral; the media love nonsense like this.
You can speculate and joke about Tinky-Winky, Bert & Ernie or Spongebob Squarepants as much as you like - and you know they ain't gonna sue.
As ever, seeing Sesame Street as Queer Street all comes back to Bert & Ernie; they've been gay-rumoured for even longer than Tom Cruise and John Travolta have.
You can see the unhappy couple getting outed and facing up to their feelings for each other in Peter Short's slightly unsettling short film, Bertrand & Ernest here.

EDIT: Legal notice, I don't mean to imply that Tom Cruise and John Travolta are a couple. Or muppets. Thank you.

Richard Ingrams: "There Is No Such Thing As Community"

"Purists are fighting a losing battle to preserve proper punctuation, their special concern being the apostrophe and correct use thereof. I would like to make a plea for more rigorous use of inverted commas, so important when words are being so regularly commandeered by propagandists.
"Take, for example, the Church of Scientology, recently attacked yet again by the fearless BBC investigator John Sweeney. The word church when used by Scientologists ought always to be put in inverted commas because it is certainly doesn't belong to one of the world's great religions...
"Also deserving inverted commas is the word marriage, as in the expression gay marriage. Marriage, by its definition, involves a man and a woman. You cannot logically have a marriage between two men or two women. The same applies to the expression gay community, as there is no such community in any meaningful sense of that word."

Richard Ingrams, seasoned Oldie homophobe, writing in The Independent.

Logically!?? It's hardly Bertrand Russell, is it?

Joe McElderry: Still Awake?

It was touch-and-go for little Joe McElderry this weekend.
Due to plug his sorry debut album at G-A-Y on Saturday night, on Friday The Sun reported he was in bed with laryngitis.
That's right - he had a sore throat!
The mind boggles...
Luckily for everyone Joe rose like Lazarus.
The Sun's coverage of Joe's G-A-Y PA?
Zero. Which may indicate the young lad's star is already quickly fading.
The Mail, Express and Star all ignored it, too.
They may have missed out - The Mirror made it sound like a cross between Altamont and the last days of the Roman empire.
'Joe McElderry rescued by minders from lively G-A-Y crowd'
"Joe McElderry's going to be back in the closet quicker than you can say YMCA after being mobbed by drooling fellas during his gig.
"The terrified X Factor winner had to be rescued by beefy minders when one overexcited fan leapt on the stage at London's G-A-Y.
"I'm told: "Joe performed six tracks from the new album but towards the end of his last song a fan clambered on to the stage and tried to haul him off it and into the crowd.
"Bouncers waded in and dragged him to safety. There was a stampede." Scary stuff..."
Commented the Mirror's ever droll 3am girls/boys;
"Crikey. Maybe the clamberer just wanted to hold Joe's hand as he negotiates the tricky world of relationships. Has he still just kissed the one boy? He's missing out!"
Joe's album - Wide Apart or whatever it's called - is in the shops today!
Tick tick tick tick tick tick...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Paul O'Grady Live: Condemns Con-Dems

Paul O'Grady let rip like righteous batshit over the budget cuts and the Con-Dem Coalition on Paul O'Grady Live.
“You know what got my back up? Those Tories whooping and hollering about the cuts, did you see them? [To audience] Do you watch telly or politics, you lot? If it ain't X Factor they ain't fucking interested.
"No, it annoyed me they were all; 'Whaay, gonna scrap the pension! Yeah, no more wheelchairs – yeahhhhhhh! Bastards!”
Mr O'Grady, Fagburn salutes you - watch it here.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Graham Norton Show: Anal Sex On The Cutting Room Floor

You may have to take my word for it - unless you can get behind the NewsCorp paywall - but The Times homepage today puffs up a piece with a double entendre; 'Friday night without Ross - Graham Norton, who filled his slot, gave tabloids no ammunition'
Ironically, the article it refers to, a report from the recording, speculates that Norton has toned down his material for the new "slot" and a joke about anal sex was "sure-to-be-cut".
Whatever - with Norton ("Norty"?) taking over from "Wossy" on BBC1 and Paul O'Grady happily ensconced on ITV as the new Parky, the kings of TV chat are two queens.
So put that in your Alan Partridge and smoke it.

Teen Suicide: Faking It?

In a story being regularly updated as more information emerges, Queerty claims that one of the most recent reported gay teen suicides may be a hoax.
'SUICIDE (HOAX?): Terrel Williams, 17, Hangs Himself In Bedroom Closet After High School Beating (Updated)'.
More later...

Friday, 22 October 2010

President Obama: "Drop Dead"

The world can hardly contain its excitement that President Obama has jumped on the bandwagon and made an "It Gets Better" video.
Fagburn wonders how long before we see angry mobs beating a path to the home of anyone who hasn't made one?
It was so, so nice of Obama to make a three minute video and babble on about fighting discrimination and utter some nice-sounding platitudes.
It would have been better if he tried to actually make things better for gay kids by fighting discrimination himself; like pushing for gay marriage, anti-discrimination legislation and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
You know, little things that would mean gay people aren't still second-class citizens in the USA.

Uganda: Can't Happen Here

Several newspapers have run a story about the climate of homophobia in Uganda.
"Gay Ugandans have faced a fortnight of attacks and intimidation, say human rights campaigners, after a local newspaper published a list of the country's "top 100 homosexuals",' The Independent reports.
"As well as naming gay Ugandans – complete with photographs and addresses – Rolling Stone newspaper also claimed that a deadly disease was attacking homosexuals in Uganda, and said that gays were recruiting one million children by raiding schools."
That's terrible. Sounds like Britain in the 80s.

George Michael: Likes Biscuits, Instant Noodles

A team of top investiagative journalists at The Daily Star have gained access to George Michael's reciepts from the prison shop.
During his four week's inside he bought nine - NINE - packets of biscuits, "including custard creams, chocolate HobNobs and digestives".
"He spent £57.79 on three trips to the store, picking up 15 packets of instant noodles during his visits...
"And the star also stayed true to his Greek roots by ordering packets of traditional snack pitta bread."
The troubled star also bought himself some whitening toothpaste, toenail clippers and anti-dandruff shampoo.
Well done to everyone at the Star - the Pulitzer Prize is in the bag.

Facebook: Poking People Since February 2004

A study conducted in Washinton DC has "discovered" that Facebook targets ads according to users' stated sexual preferences.
I know - whoda thunk it!

EDIT: The Daily Mail went big on this on Saturday 22nd. 'Facebook 'accidentally outing gay users' to outside firms through targeted ads'.
But like their coverage of Tyler Clementi's suicide (after film of him getting intimate with another man was put on the internet), the angle was more about the Mail's technophobia...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Teen Suicides: How Many More?

There are two more reports of American gay teenagers committing suicide, it's said due to homophobic bullying and attacks; Corey Jackson, 19 (pictured) and Terrel Williams, 17.
Though all these suicides are tragic, and it's good to see the US media bring attention to the terrible experiences gay kids have at school, as Fagburn has written before; as there are almost 100 suicides in the US every day - with gay men and young men being over represented - how many young American gay men take their lives every day?
There is no "surge" or new "epidemic" - it's always been this bad.*
They are finally newsworthy, and this may be problematic.
Reporting of suicides is a contentious issue, MediaWise and the National Union of Journalists have published 'Reporting Suicide: Guidance For Journalists.'
Next time you read anything about gay teen suicides you might like to ask yourself if it follows any of its recommendations.
In fine: "Consideration for the feelings of relatives, avoiding detailed descriptions of suicide methods, providing information about where help and advice can be found, avoid sensational headlines, images, and language, avoid speculation..."
"Suicide is a complex issue, often linked to mental illness - It is neither helpful nor accurate to suggest that suicide occurs as a result of a single factor. Often there will be history of forms of mental illness like depression, and this should be acknowledged. Avoid giving the impression that suicide is a simple 'solution' to a particular problem; acknowledge that sudden death creates problems for family and friends."
Is sentimental and sensationalist coverage only making gay suicides more likely?

* Further here's a Skeptical Inquirer article about how bad data and bad math may have led some to miscalculate a "gay teen suicide epidemic".

Diversity: Gardener's Question Time

Both The Sun - 'Allotment Grower's Fury Over Sex Quiz' - the Daily Star - Veggie Fans Get Gay Quiz - and the Daily Mail - 'Residents applying for council allotments asked: 'Are you gay?'' - are all fuming over the same non-story today.
"Fruit and vegetable growers are protesting over a council survey which asks if they are gay," reports the Mail.
"The questionnaire is put to residents when they apply for one of the 18 allotments available in Lincoln. The city council wants to know their sexual orientation, race and religion."
Both papers quote rent-a-quote, Fiona McEvoy from Taxpayers' Association.
She said; "It is local authority nonsense at its worst."
Which makes a change from "It's polical correctness gone mad."
It's a classic non-story; councils have been obliged to monitor take-up of their services by various communities - by including voluntary questions on forms - since The Equality Act (2006) and The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2007).
Daily Mail reader John Ballard, a nutcase from Nottingham comments; "No doubt if they are gay, they'll get preferential treatment, as they belong to an "oppressed" (yeah, right!) minority."

Don Bacardy on Christopher Isherwood

Don Bacardy talks about his life with Christopher Isherwood on BBC World News.

William Burroughs: Cats, Guns, Drugs, Rent Boys

A new documentary, William S Burroughs - A Man Within, gives The Independent an excuse to run a mini-profile of the old buzzard.
"The 90 minute documentary is divided into segments reflecting Burroughs’ various obsessions - cats, guns, drugs, rent boys etc, and only briefly mentions the writer’s huge back catalogue, the most famous of which are Naked Lunch, Queer and Junkie."
And if that's whetted your appetite the article ends by telling readers; "William S Burroughs: A Man Within is being screened in Austria next week."
Just in case you're passing...

Gay Penguins: "Not Gay"

"The homosexual behaviour of male king penguins has already been noted in zoos," reports The Daily Telegraph.
"Now in a new study, scientists have found the evidence of male pairs in the wild. The research found that more than a quarter of the colony in Antarctica were in same sex partners, mostly two males.
"In the past, it was claimed that penguins could not discern between the sexes because they looked alike. Male pairs in zoos in the US and Germany have hatched and reared ‘adopted’ chicks.
"However the new study by the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France found that the penguins are only pairing up with other males because they are “lonely”.
"There are not enough females in the colony and the males have high levels of testosterone, which drives them to engage in mating displays - even if it is with other males."
All sounds pretty gay to me...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Saudi Prince Murder: Guilty

As Prince Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al-Saud is found guilty of murdering his aide and lover, Bandar Abdulaziz, Sholto Byrnes writing in the New Statesman believes "justice has been done".
"Nevertheless, the exposure of the difference between the puritan façade maintained by Saudi Arabia and the reality behind it – whether that be a matter of odious hypocrisy or of cruel repression of certain ways of life – could be useful. I say "could", because if the international coverage of this case merely strengthens the hands of the Wahhabists who say the kingdom's problem is that it is being dangerously open and not policing the morals of its inhabitants strictly enough, then that is not a welcome outcome at all..."

Elton John: Wedding Balls

Sir Elton John tells Radio Times about his decision to perform for a million dollars at the wedding of right-wing goon Rush Limbaugh.
"I was incensed when people said I was throwing away 40 years of credibility for money. No. I don't need it. No-one was more surprised than I when Rush asked. Politically we're opposites. It was an opportunity to break the ice.
"I'm a builder of bridges and knocker-down of walls. I want him on side when I step up to the plate on civil partnerships."
Elton John is 63.

• BBC2 is broadcasting A Night With Elton John on October 30th.

David Norris: Mr Norris Changes Plans

Independent senator David Norris has decided to stand for president of Ireland next year, after being prompted to put his name forward by a Facebook campaign.
The Guardian interviews the ever-smiling Mr Norris.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Stephen Sondheim: "Stunning" Is Embarrasing

Sorry if I seem like a PR agent for BBC Radio 4 today, but Stephen Sondheim being interviewed by Mark Lawson is just plain wonderful.
The gay sensibility, perfect phrasing, Pet Shop Boys, hating Noel Coward's snobbery and Mamma Mia...
He's the octogenerian Stephin Merritt.
Great stuff!

GT: All The Pain And None Of The Gain

Good to see the editor of GT is fighting back against accusasations he's dumbing the magazine down with some serious hard-hitting articles.
Well done.

Gay Teen Suicides: Some Perspective

Is there an "epidemic" of gay suicides in the US?
The most recent statistics I could find are from 2007.
"In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths."
That's like a 9/11 - our new marker of tragedy - every month.
Or close to 100 every day.
The stastics show that gay men and young men are the most likely to commit suicide.
How many young gay men do you think commited suicide today?
It's not some new "epidemic".
Tragically, it's just same as it ever was.
And most go unreported.

PS The cutting above comes from 2001. It goes on...

A History Of The World: 97

Today the endlessly fascinating BBC Radio 4 series, A History of the World in 100 Objects did number 97 a 1966 drawing by David Hockney, In A Dull Village.
It's worth the licence fee itself etc etc.
Neil MacGregor was speaking from the heart, and fessed up that a key subtext to his history was sex and the world's changing attitudes towards it.
Fagburn was really moved by today's programme.
Thank you, Neil.