Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Jason Collins: #sobrave

Vicious: What The Papers Said

"I’d agree [this show is a landmark], if Vicious was remotely funny, but it isn’t, and that’s its fatal flaw. While representing something important and laudable the show is simply abominable" Daily Express

"A particular letdown" Daily Mirror

"The least funny new comedy in recent memory" Daily Telegraph

"Even Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi can't rescue Vicious, ITV's feeble, old-fashioned comedy" The Guardian.

"The only laughter it provokes is canned" The Independent.

The Times was so-so; "It's not really to my particular taste."

Got that?
The main problem these reviewers had with Vicious was they didn't think it was funny.*
Crap gags, overacting worthy of panto, and annoying canned/idiots' laughter were the most common gripes. 
None didn't like Vicious because the lead characters were old, but several thought the programme was rather old-fashioned.
No-one had any problem that it was a gay sitcom - or, if you prefer that it was a sitcom that just happened to be gay - just that it wasn't a very good one.
And none thought it problematic that the "vicious old queens" were somewhat stereotypical - though this was a popular saw with some gaybores on Twitter.
And besides, an ITV prime time sitcom probably isn't the best place to go looking if you want some of EM Forster's "well-rounded characters".
In a Guardian online article about how Vicious shows how TV has changed since the 70s - when "the only regular TV appearance of a male homosexual [was] flouncing Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served?" - Ben Summerskill claimed that "some autopilot activists have been outraged at its caricatures."
Have they?
Who Christopher Biggins!? 
You could say it's a sign of the times that Vicious was not pre/judged on it being gay, be it with bigoted sneers or wanky liberal cheers, but on whether it made for good television.
And the verdict is clearly it wasn't.

*Actually one paper really loved it, The Daily Mail; "Outrageous, frank and slapstick, all at the same time... this show is an instant classic."
Make of that what you will.

PS Screen shots from BBC News and Wednesday's Daily Star.
It's unusual for the media to review the reviews - perhaps they thought the response to Vicious was newsworthy in itself?

Update: And from the Daily Mail message boards...
Just the first two posts from the top of the page, so please don't accuse me of bias and that.
The author, Philip Hensher, also valiantly fights against those who said Vicious had stereotypical gay characters.
Although - again - only Christopher Biggins appears to have made this a criticism of the programme in the mainstream media.
Maybe it's a "thing" for dinner party queens?
Fight the non-existent power!

Bradley Manning: Just Happens To Be...

"He has done nothing for the LGBT community, which is the criteria for a grand marshal. He just happens to be gay, which is not sufficient."

Zoe Dunning, a retired Navy commander and LGBT campaigner, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle

"I got news: the gay community is part of the larger human community. So, when someone does something that exposes the US military’s crimes, that may embarrass the US, but this is stuff Americans should know and the world should know. To me that benefits gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and I don’t buy this argument that he’s done nothing for the gay community because we have this narrow definition of what that means. It’s ridiculous.
“The idea that a gay person who does a heroic act that benefits humanity should not be a Grand Marshal for Pride is reprehensible.”

Joey Cain, who nominated Bradley Manning to be a Grand Marshal at San Francisco Pride, on that honours withdrawal in The Dissenter.

“Our message to SF Pride is that they should make Manning a Grand Marshal of this year’s Pride March and Celebration because of his brave act of whistleblowing against the military industrial complex.
“We are fed up with marriage and military concerns sucking the oxygen out of what used to be a queer movement and Pride March and Celebration about social justice for queers.” 
“He’s an antiwar hero, a whistleblower who is gay. 
"He was lipsynching to Lady Gaga while downloading classified documents. It doesn’t get more gay than that.”

Statements by organisers of a protest outside SF Pride's office on Monday.

PS Scott Long remembers SF Pride's previous support for US imperial ambitions with an officially sanctioned float bearing a giant papier-mache model of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being anally raped by a nuclear missile being rode by a leatherman.
This, of course, was not thought controversial.
Hooray for hegemony!
When do we start gay bombing?

Update: "Hopefully, in the same way the police’s attempt to silence a bunch of queers in a Greenwich Village bar four decades ago backfired, perhaps the attempt to further silence Private Manning will backfire, as well." Steven Thrasher on Gawker

Monday, 29 April 2013

Breaking: Someone We've Never Heard Of Has Come Out!

The world of sport was literally turned on its head today after an American sportsman we'd never heard of before came out as a gay man who is openly gay, Gay Stupid News can reveal.
Jason Collins plays basketball, which we think is the one where they try and put balls in hoops.
Not sure.
Jason, who is 34 and nine feet tall, plays baseball for Wolverhampton Wizard Wanderers, a popular team. 
He has two arms and two legs, Gay Stupid News can confirm.
GSN's Joe Meringue told GSN; "This is a real game changer. Slam dunk da funk!"
Asked if he knew what on earth that meant, or who Jason Collins actually was, Joe said no.
On Twitter @Worthinggaylad49 spoke for many when he tweeted simply; "So brave". 
More when we've had a chance to nick some stuff off Wikipedia and have another quick Google... 

Future Bible Heroes: Partygoing

"I was inspired by the B-52s Party Mix! - to think that this would be a party album that only just happens to be partially about drunk suicide, ageing, death and loss and despair.
"But there is different kinds of parties that people go to.
"I've always hated parties."

Stephin Merritt. 

Always great to hear Stephin's back with his ex, Chris, musically. x

The Independent: Question!

The Independent - which has the same answer to everything...

"Err, why don't we do another online poll?"
"Brilliant, Ollie. Pub?"

Not sure if the current total of 100% votes for "No" is because the answer's too obvious to even bother asking the question in the first place, or because Fagburn's the only person who's bothered to vote.

Please read the accompanying twaddle by one Daisy Wyatt.
Guess what she's thinking?
"Could Vicious, then, despite its disappointing original title of Vicious Old Queens,  open the eyes of TV commissioners and start a new trend where characters happen to be gay, rather than are typecast as “gay characters”?"
I know I keep going on about how hopeless, clueless and patronising The Independent's coverage of gay issues is - sorry, of issues that just happen to be gay - but there must be someone there who is capable of doing more than just regurgitating the first dumb thing they found when they Googled it?

PS And who do you think Radio 4's Today get in this morning to comment on Vicious and the state of the gay cultural nation?
Who else could it be but...
Christopher Biggins!!!

Daily Telegraph: Astonishing!

It’s astonishing, given what’s happening in the real world, that TV comedy still consigns its gays to a fictional ghetto. A remarkable (yet almost silent) change has taken place in British attitudes over the past few years. The vast majority of straight people now barely notice the gay people in their midst, and gay marriage – which would have been unthinkable not 10 years ago – looks likely to sail through Parliament with hardly a murmur.

From the Daily Telegraph.

Yes, from the same Telegraph that's spent most of this year screaming like a dying banshee against gay marriage. 
Cut to uproarious canned laughter.
This is from an article using Vicious to gallop through a short, potted history of gay characters in British TV comedy, which contradicts itself at every turn. 
The journalist, Neil Midgley, is looking forward to Vicious because he doesn't like to see gay stereotypes - so I'm not sure what he'll make of these Vicious Old Queens.
He likes his gay characters to be "normal" and "ordinary", and not "camp and effeminate".
So just like straight people, then?
Little Britain though is singled out for praise for the "delusional" character Daffyd, because - apparently - they "used it to poke fun at gay people who still tediously insist on being special and different."

Thanks to Darren. x

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Fagburn: TV Times


“The joke is that these people happen to be horrible to each other even as they love each other, and they happen to be gay. These guys aren’t funny because they’re gay, these guys are funny because of their wit and humanity.” 

Ian McKellen on Vicious in The Sunday Times, which starts on ITV tomorrow night.
Unfortunately "just happens to be gay" just happens to be a vacuous liberal cliche, and particularly silly when you're talking about a sitcom about a gay couple.
Could a male and a female actor have been slipped into the two lead roles?
And even more unfortunately, the word is Vicious happens not be funny.
David Benedict was hilarious - ironically - previewing it on Saturday Review; "The script is sooo bad..."
Looks like all those who said Ben Elton's The Wright Way was "the worst sitcom ever" could soon be revising their opinions.

Grimmy - everyone loves Grimmy, don't they?
Did you know he's got lots of top showbiz mates?
Funny he never talks about that.
Anyway, he's got his own TV show!
Apparently, on Sweat The Small Stuff on BBC3 "he and celebrity guests argue the toss over things that don’t really matter. It is perfect for Grimshaw, and for the version of youth he embodies: celebrity-obsessed, fast-moving, dismissive, reductive fun. It is Twitter for the telly. Grimmy opted for it because, he says, 'I am fickle about pop culture. Like, I’ll love something one week, and then, yeah, I’m so over it.'”
Hope that's not tempting fate, Nick.
Oh, and good news, girls - he's still single!
But he quite "likes" James Franco.
“He’d be good, wouldn’t he? Like, older. Casual. And smart. I got a National Geographic subscription so that I could say things like: ‘Yeah, you know the blue whale’s spine?’ I thought he’d like things like that.”
Nick sounds quite a catch, doesn't he?

Update: Little parlour game. See if you can see any connection between this headline in Monday's Star - Nick Grimshaw Bans Harry Styles Over 'Gay' Jibes - and the story beneath it.

And not last but lust, another plug for Russell Tovey's new sitcom, The Job Lot.
Unfortunately it's on ITV on Monday straight after Vicious.
Let's hope everyone hasn't changed channels.
Russell plays a bloke who works in a job centre... who just happens to be straight!
“Every character I play is straight, which is unique, my agent says, because it’s not really been done before that someone who is completely out is able to play straight roles. So for me to play gay it has to be something special, because it might actually be more of a risk. So I’m waiting for that role – I want it to be something that moves things forward.”
Can't wait.
Doesn't she look gorgeous right now?

And finally, the Sunday People has an interview with Scott Thorson, former lover of Liberace - "the bling-loving piano player".*
Scott's life fell apart after he split up with Lee, and he's spent the time since on and off drugs, and in and out of jail.
He let go the rights to his memoir, Behind The Candelabra, years ago, so may not see a cent from the TV movie.
Scott's now in prison - again - awaiting trial on credit card fraud and burglary charges.
Poor sod.

* There's a more revealing interview with Larry King from 2002 here.

Pedro Almodóvar: Gayest. Film. EVER!

In Madrid I've heard it approvingly referred to as a mariconada – a sort of irreverent campfest. Almodóvar's first return to pure comedy in 25 years, since Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, is a piece of extravagant, kitsch entertainment which he joyfully calls "my gayest film ever". It's also a return to the style of his early successes, when he burst on to the scene as a colourful purveyor of lavish, gleeful, hedonistic transgression. Gags include a clairvoyant losing her virginity by riding a sleeping, but aroused, fellow passenger, and the semen flecks left on a cabin steward's face after he locks himself into a cramped bathroom cubicle with the captain.

But the film can also be taken as a metaphor for ailing, recession-struck Spain itself. "I wanted this to be a wacky comedy, something escapist," says Almodóvar. "But it is true there are things that chime with the times." An aircraft circles aimlessly in the sky, its landing carriage damaged, awaiting the go-ahead for a crash landing. The crew and first-class passengers drown their sorrows, confess their sins and indulge in mescaline-fuelled sex while the tourist class drifts into ignorant, drug-induced slumber. Almodóvar himself was surprised at how the surreal backstories of the film's main characters – who include a crooked banker fleeing the country and a call girl who claims to have a compromising videotape of the king – increasingly resonate with the things Spaniards read daily in their newspapers.

"There was always the metaphor of a Spain that doesn't know where it is heading, that doesn't know where to land or who will be in charge, nor what the dangers are."

Giles Tremlett profiles Pedro Almodóvar for The Observer.
Let's just hope the film isn't as annoying as that preview clip of the "supercamp" air stewards miming to I'm So Excited.
But it's "so camp" and it's got subtitles, and it's a metaphor for austerity and the recession, yah - so middle class straight bores will love it to bits!
¡Almodóvar = aburguesado!

PS She doesn't even support Catalan independence.

Update: Many reviews thought it was a bit of a plane crash

Thought For The Day: Paul O'Grady

"The Bedroom Tax is bloody ridiculous. I think it’s disgusting and just another way of taxing people.
“It’s like the Sheriff of Nottingham. As though they’ve got up and said, ‘The old Queen is dead. The ­peasants will pay for her funeral. What can we tax? I know, bedrooms.’ It’s fairytale nonsense.“I think the Coalition are absolutely disgusting. They have no idea what the common working man and woman are doing.
“They are not in touch with the working classes. They have led privileged lives – they’ve had public schools and have never been on the shop floor...
“We want this lot out. The way they treat the elderly and the way they treat carers. A carer gets £53 for looking after someone.“I’ve been a carer and I know what it’s like to be isolated for 24 hours a day seven days a week. You go out of your mind and you are left alone.
“And the way they treat children and the NHS. It is just demolishing us and they are ruining the country...
“You go to Birkenhead and it’s all boarded up. There is no work, there is nothing for kids, not a thing. Then you wonder why they get into trouble, you wonder why there is crime and why there are drugs.“This government just shuns half of the community. They are worse than Thatcher – 50 times."

Paul O'Grady in the Sunday People.

Full diclosure: I've edited out some things he said about Ed Miliband, who Paul says he recently had dinner with, in the interests of my own bias.

The Emperor's New Clothes: A Fairy Tale For San Francisco Pride

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, "Oh, how fine are the Emperor's new clothes! Don't they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!" Nobody would confess that he couldn't see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.
"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said.
"Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, "He hasn't anything on. A child says he hasn't anything on."
"But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.
The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.

Hans Christian Andersen, 1837.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Bradley Manning: On Pride And Power

If a person's actions threaten power factions or are deemed prohibited by them, then Good Authoritarians will reflexively view the person as evil and will be eager to publicly disassociate themselves from such individuals. Or, as Williams put it, "even the hint of support" for Manning "will not be tolerated", and those who deviate from this decree will be "disciplined". 

Even the SF Gay Pride Parade is now owned by and beholden to the nation's largest corporations, subject to their dictates. Those who run the event are functionaries of, loyalists to, the nation's most powerful political officials. That's how this parade was so seamlessly transformed from orthodoxy-challenging, individualistic and creative cultural icon into yet another pile of obedient apparatchiks that spout banal slogans doled out by the state while viciously scorning those who challenge them. Yes, there will undoubtedly still be exotically-dressed drag queens, lesbian motorcycle clubs, and groups proudly defined by their unusual sexual proclivities participating in the parade, but they'll be marching under a Bank of America banner and behind flag-waving fans of the National Security State, the US President, and the political party that dominates American politics and its political and military institutions. Yet another edgy, interesting, creative, independent event has been degraded and neutered into a meek and subservient ritual that must pay homage to the nation's most powerful entities and at all costs avoid offending them in any way...

It's hardly surprising that someone who so boldly and courageously opposes the US war machine is demonized and scorned this way. Daniel Ellsberg was subjected to the same attacks before he was transformed many years later into a liberal hero (though Ellsberg had the good fortune to be persecuted by a Republican rather than Democratic President and thus, even back then, had some substantial support; come to think of it, Ellsberg lives in San Francisco: would expressions of support for him be tolerated?). But the fact that such lock-step, heel-clicking, military-mimicking behavior is now coming from the SF Gay Pride Parade of all places is indeed noteworthy: it reflects just how pervasive this authoritarian rot has become.

From a brilliant scorching piece by Glenn Greenwald on the Guardian's Comment Is Free

Paraphrasing Greenwald slightly, this incident - SFGate? - may be relatively small in the general scheme of things, but it tells us so much about what's wrong in the world of gay.
It also seems there's some difference between how Manning is seen in the States and the UK.
Though it took some time for the mainstream media to take much notice of his case, he's become quite the liberal cause celebre over here, Guardian readers voted him Person Of The Year 2012.

PS Seems to have become a "thing" to compile pointless Gay Power Lists.
Thank fuck for all those gay people who don't seek or serve power.

Daily Mail: Faking It

It's a favourite trick/tactic for those with obnoxious right-wing views to try to portray others with obnoxious right-wing views as the real and really nasty extremists.
Witness how the Mail have hyped up this story.
Nigel Farage has had his photo taken shaken hands with an UKIP local election candidate who "liked" an EDL page on Facebook.
Gosh. Whodathunkit?
And a Ukip candidate in the local elections has posted some homophobic comments online.*
Golly gosh!
If you want to damn Ukip, why flip your wig over comments made by one of their almost insignificant and mostly unelectable 1,700 local election candidates - they're so desperate for these they'd let a horse stand - when you only have to point out the party's declared policies?
And if you want to see some pro-EDL or pro-Ukip and anti-gay comments posted online, why not just check the readers' comments sections on Mail Online? 

* This sort of story is much-loved by the more politically wanky and dubious sections of the gay media, of course. 
"Waah! A bad man called me a nasty name!"
Here's the post by Ukip candidate John Sullivan on sports and homosexuality that many seem to be excited by (Click to enlarge etc), though most just think it's ridiculous and laughable.
If people are getting angry about this daft old bugger (sic) - as some gaybores are on Twitter, inevitably - then I fear for the politic of this country.

Bradley Manning: San Francisco Pride Shame

Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year's San Francisco Pride celebration. His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.

Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform -- and countless others, military and civilian alike -- will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.

There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who believe Bradley Manning to be innocent. There are many who feel differently. Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this year...

From SFist.

Words fail me.

PS Can't happen here? UK Queers Against The Cuts harassed by police and officials at last year's Brighton Pride.

Update: Thankfully words haven't failed Scott Long who blogs on this sorry shameful episode and the perversion of pride here.

Russell T Davies: Nowt So Queer As Facts

You couldn't write a feature called Happy 50th Birthday Russell T Davies: 50 Reasons Why Whovians And Telly Fans Love The Dr Who Producer without mentioning the seminal Queer as Folk, could you?
Well the Mirror tried their best today.
Here's the bit from their 50 facts about RTD where they mention QAF...

6. Murray Gold  
Everybody knows the stunningly distinctive theme, but Dr Who’s incidental music has on occasion been as infamous as it’s wobbling sets. Fortunately, Russell T has some talented friends. Having already worked with the writer on Queer as Folk, Casanova and the Second Coming, Murray Gold may have been a natural choice – but what an inspired one. Still with the show, he has produced a varied array of music for each episode perfectly matching Davies and other writers’ diverse stories.

Err, and that's it!
Quite a feat.
Whatever, happy fiftieth birthday Gay/Time Lord Russell, a true tellybox legend and one of the nicest people in showbiz.

PS I wonder what happened to Russell's TV series about a middle-aged gay couple, Cucumbers?

Letter Of The Week: The Independent

The Independent.

And how about a final separation of church and state in the UK, too?

Thought For The Day: Delia Smith

‘It is a difficult one [the gay marriage debate for a Catholic], but I can answer it only in one way.
'Everything I have been taught, everything I know and understand about belief is that the highest thing on Earth is love between two people, and the rest doesn’t even get near it.
'So, yes, you have the arguments, you can say what it should be, but if two people love one another then they are in God and God is in them, and there is no way anyone can say other.’

Delia Smith interviewed in the Daily Mail.
By Jan Moir - eek!
God bless you, Dame Delia, in a similarly somewhat mealy-mouthed way.
Mind you, imagine the loss of earnings if some silly gaybores called for a boycott of her cookery books.

Max Clifford: Nemesis

This is like a Greek tragedy.
Or is it a comedy?
Man makes fortune by selling stories about celebrity sex scandals to the tabloids.
Man is just as keen in turning himself into a celebrity.
Celebrity publicist gets caught up in a sex scandal on the front page of the tabloids.
And we all lived unhappily ever after...

Brighton Ourstory: The End Of History

We are sad to announce that, after twenty-four years of searching out and telling the stories of Brighton's lesbian, gay and bisexual communities and individuals, Brighton Ourstory is unable to continue in this work.
Just too tired to go on, we hope we have sown the seeds of interest for those who come after – there is plenty yet to do – and made a bit of history ourselves.
We would like to thank all those, too numerous to mention individually here, who have supported Ourstory's work and to apologise to those whom we have been unable to help over the last year, whilst this painful conclusion has been emerging.
We are currently making arrangements to re-home the items deposited in our archive. We hope to produce a last newsletter and will be writing to all our Friends individually soon. It seems likely that the website will continue, so carry on clicking.

Brighton Ourstory Project

Really sad to hear this news - BOP did so much great and truly groundbreaking work on uncovering and celebrating this city's remarkable queer history.
Thanks to Linda and Tom and everyone who got involved. 

PS Please have a look at their website. You don't have to be gay and to have lived and loved in Brighton etc etc.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Bradley Manning: Blow Your Whistle!

This Wednesday, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee announced that openly gay Army whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning will be honored as a grand marshal for the largest gathering of LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transgender) people and allies in the United States. SF Pride describes its grand marshals as “individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.” 

A group of past grand marshals selected PFC Manning as this year’s sole honoree, bestowing one of the LGBT community’s highest accolades on the soldier who helped reveal unpunished war crimes, the Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture (as publicized in a recent UK Guardian documentary), and other disturbing and previously secret foreign policies.  

Responding to the announcement, Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee representative Rainey Reitman stated,

The LGBT community is unique in that being a member requires a willingness to disclose the truth about ourselves to the benefit of those around us and society as a whole. As a longstanding Manning supporter, I’m thrilled to see our community publicly embrace his courage in disclosing classified truths about the war in Iraq and other facts which empower the American public to promote smarter future policy.

PFC Manning, awaiting trial for three years behind bars, cannot attend the Pride celebration in-person.  However, Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg will attend in his stead, and hundreds are expected to march in support of PFC Manning in the parade...

From Bradley Manning Support Network.

Well done SF Pride for honouring a gay man who's awaiting trial - and possible life imprisonment - for blowing the whistle on US war crimes.
And who did Pride London honour last year... unconvicted American war criminal Hillary Clinton!
Wonder who they'll honour this year?

Update: Queerty headline; Bradley Manning Named San Francisco Pride Grand Marshal, Group Protests. 
That's right - some gay men in the US military have put out a press release saying they're servants of power - better put that in the headline. 
Your balanced gay media at work!

Wittgenstein: Born, Never Asked

Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me. Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me. Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me. Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me. Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me. Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me. Nobody knows what's going on in my mind but me (repeat to fade).

And I love him...

Ludo was born on the 26th of April 1889.

Cuba: An Affront To LGBT Freedom Of Speech

Equality Forum, a national and international LGBT civil rights organization, calls on the U.S. State Department to allow Mariela Castro, a Cuban LGBT civil rights activist, to visit Philadelphia for Equality Forum 2013.  The State Department issued a visa to Ms. Castro to visit New York for U.N. meetings, but did not authorize Ms. Castro to travel to Philadelphia to participate in Equality Forum 2013 with Cuba as the Featured Nation.
“Over the past 11 years, Equality Forum has invited leaders of the featured nation to attend. For those who needed a visa, all past visas have been approved,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum.  “It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit – especially one held in the birthplace of our democracy that enshrines freedoms of speech and assembly.”
The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, Mariela is married and the mother of three children. She is the head of CENESEX, a Havana-based organization which campaigns for effective AIDS prevention as well as recognition and acceptance of LGBT human rights.  She has published 13 scholarly articles and nine books.  She is a vocal leader in fighting homophobia in Cuba and advocating for same-sex marriage...

From a statement issued by Equality Forum

O America - land of the free!
Once more the US State Department causes irony to die laughing.
This is so daft, even by their usual standards, I wouldn't be surprised if the ban is quietly overturned.

PS Here's something I wrote on how some American gay media covered Mariela Castro's visit to the US last year - with reports, but of course, centred around the "outrage" of right-wing Cuban-American loopy groups.
Dare I check today's coverage?

Update: Yup, the decision was overturned April 30th

Neon Neon: Mid Century Modern Nightmare

Smashing stuff.
New album, Praxis Makes Perfect, out Monday, kids.
It's a synthtastic concept album about the life and death of the Italian communist, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
Hear it streaming for free here.

Out Readers' Awards: But First A Word From Our Sponsors...

Don't forget it's the first Out In The City Readers' Awards at some swanky London hotel tonight.
Though Fagburn would be surprised if many readers would have heard of many of the nominees.
You get the feeling editorial staff didn't have much say in the choices, and wonder what purpose it's really meant to serve. 
Still, at least the sponsors include some genuine household names.
RBS - After we've given them £45 billion in bailouts and the LIBOR scandal these guys have to be the best loved bank in Britain!
Barclays - They owe us billions through tax avoidance, invest a lot of that in the arms industry. and pay their most successful corporate crooks millions in bonuses alone, and they sure did a lot to support diversity in South Africa during the apartheid years.
Good to know these banks are putting their - okay, our - money to good use.
And don't forget those equal opportunity killers at the Royal Air Force.
Maybe our boys will get some of their sexy new drones to do a flyby tonight?
That's if they're not too busy killing kids in Afghanistan and Pakistan!
And remember, if they're sponsoring a gay awards event, that means they must really care.
More champagne? 

PS It's also Stonewall's Workplace Conference today - also "supported by Barclays".
Obviously it's nice if employers are encouraged to be nice to their LGBT employees, but why chummy up to organsations that do such nasty things to other people?
And maybe - just maybe - when some say they love The Gays it's more about trying to create good corporate PR.
Just ask that ex-PR man, David Cameron.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Turner Prize: A Complete Load Of Shit

Great to see David Shrigley's been nominated for this year's Turner Prize.
"Call that art!!? My five year-old can draw better than that." etc etc.
More exciting news about the lively arts when we hear it...

Andy Warhol: I Came Across A Cache Of Old Photos...

One of several photos of Andy taken in 1981 by Steve Wood, and apparently recently unearthed - that even The Sun thought newsworthy.
I don't know about you, but this one's a bit "arty" for moi.
The Guardian thought this front pages news, with the inevitable "Hit me with a flower" caption.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Edward Carpenter: Postcards From The Ed

Friends Of Edward Carpenter have made some nice postcards of Britain's favourite gay libertarian socialist.
Here he is with his lover, George Merrill.

PS Many of his works can be read at the Edward Carpenter Archive. Time for a print anthology of his works, I fink.

Correction Of The Day: Who?

The Sun.
The photo has now disappeared into the ether.

Out Cold: All I Want

Simon Aldred makes album that is "mostly about embracing relationships and love, with a longing that's now tinged with reality, of being gay and singing from that perspective."
Record company makes hetero/sexist video featuring lots of naked ladies.

JLS: Split

Any guesses as to the member of JLS most likely to come out - so brave! etc etc - and then announce he's joining a hit West End musical?

France: Gay Marriage Law Marked With Pictures Of Fruity Young Lesbians

The Independent.
And The Guardian.
The Sun.
The Daily Telegraph.
Financial Times.
And BBC News.
And Huffington Post... 

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

PS Comment of the day comes from the Daily Express message boards; "Its no good saying being homosexual is 'normal' when it clearly is not. Its about as normal as having cancer."
So think on, homosexuals, think on. 

Update: See also the Daily Star's breathless report, Topless Women In Homophobia Protest. Phwoar!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher On Ted Heath: Who Knew!!?

Thatcher thought Edward Heath was gay. [Charles] Moore records a note that Bill Deedes, the former Tory minister and then editor of the Daily Telegraph, made after a conversation with Thatcher in 1976: "M. seems convinced TH [Ted Heath] is a homosexual. (Women have more accurate instincts than we.) I said charitably: 'an instinct sublimated in boats'." In an interview in late 1974, before she challenged him for the leadership, Thatcher referred to Heath not having a family. Moore says it is "possible" she was deliberately hinting he was gay.

From Margaret Thatcher: 6 Things You Didn't Know - a list of things we did know - on the Guardian online.
In other news, she also suspected Nelson Mandela was black...

Thought For The Day: David Sedaris

Here are my thoughts on gay marriage: I wish that gay people would get the right to marry, and then not a-one of them would do it. I wish they'd say, "Fuck you! We don't need your stupid marriage!" You need to listen to me: Nobody wants to go to your wedding. Nobody does. People will give you double gifts if you elope, I guarantee it! Your wedding is not going to be fun. It's just going to be another wedding, and nobody wants to go.

David Sedaris in an otherwise rather boring interview (not the divine David's fault, the journalists's a jerk) on Out.com.

Thought For The Day: Your Actual Shakespeare

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Ian McKellen: Family Values

“It’s a fairly traditional sitcom which reminds me of The Golden Girls or I Love Lucy.
“It’s not aiming to shock people. It won’t alarm anyone. It isn’t a satire or an exposé of gay life. These characters just happen to be gay.
“For me, it is as if TV has grown up.
“In the past, gay characters in sitcoms have been figures of fun. They were funny because they were gay. But I like the fact that these characters are funny because of the people they are. That’s a real advance.”
“It’s a family show that will get the broadest possible demographic. Everyone will be able to relate to the characters."

Ian McKellen in The Sun on Vicious.

And talking about people who "just happen to be gay" just happens to be a vacuous cliche.
Art that attempts to be "something for everyone" usually ends up meaning nothing to anyone.
Vicious starts on ITV next Monday.
From this painful clip it looks like a "comedy" in the loosest sense of the word.

The Backlot: After After Elton

After Elton - your one-stop blogsite for pictures of famous shirtless dudes and showbiz gossip - has been redesigned and rebranded as TheBacklot.com.
This could be because they've realised the old titular reference to a popular 70s singer didn't really cut it with anyone under 40.
Or it could mean they've been having "problems".
Although much of the content means diddly-all to people outside America, as gay fluff goes it's quite well-done and fun gay fluff.
Mind you, the fact that I haven't checked the site in a while suggests it's not quite as essential as it once was.

Dear Pamela: I'm Terrified Of Bottoms

I'm a 21-year-old male student and I'm gay. I came out fairly recently and I'm feeling optimistic about my love life. 
I've received a decent amount of sexual interest from other gay men and would like to have a relationship. But I'm terrified of bottoms. The thought of anal sex fills me with fear and is a serious turn-off. I enjoy oral sex and intimacy, but I realise that this isn't enough for most potential partners. I'm worried that if I do meet somebody I like, this will be a deal-breaker. Should I try to get over this phobia?

Today's question put to The Guardian's agony aunt, Pamela Stephenson Connolly.

What would you say to our tormented gay student?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Gaze: What Goes On

If I say the words "gay culture"', what do you think of? Pride parades with muscle boys in leather hot pants? Kylie Minogue? Antiquated drag queens miming to Shirley Bassey? 
A recent piece in The Huffington Post described Grindr as an example of "gay culture". For those unfamiliar with modern gay dating rituals, Grindr is an app which enables men to track the locations of potential sexual partners. First launched in 2009, it now claims to have four million users worldwide...
Is this what passes for gay culture these days? An app which offers the quickest, easiest way to arrange sexual hook-ups? If Grindr really is an example of gay culture then is dogging an example of "straight culture"? And if not, why not?
Britain's lesbian and gay community has made massive strides in recent years. We have an equal age of consent, employment rights and a whole raft of legal protections we didn't have a decade ago. Soon the UK will even follow in the footsteps of countries like Spain and South Africa and grant same sex couples the right to marry.
So where does that leave gay culture? For many people, gay culture begins and ends with the gay scene. There are gay magazines devoted to it, and gay people who devote their lives to it. And compared to many countries, we have a gay scene we can be proud of. But all is not well in this rosy pink world. The impact of drugs like GHB has led to numerous deaths on the London gay scene. Next month, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in the capital is hosting a panel discussion to address the problem. The fact that it's presented by someone called Sleazy Michael gives some idea of the target audience...

Paul Burston on Guardian online launching his new online magazine, Gaze.
Haven't see it yet, but hope it's not just more of the usual "anti-gay" sniffy gaybore queens expressing their contempt for ordinary gay men.
Does sound like it from this, though.
The scene!
Gay men!
How terribly, terribly common and vulgar.
Hurrah for high culture and cultural elitism and snobbery!
At last... a magazine where silenced and side-lined homophobic, trans-hating journalists like Julie Bindel and Julie Burchill are given a voice!
They've also been boasting in pre-publicity Andrew Pierce, the Daily Mail's house-trained gay Uncle Tom is onboard.
What are any of these people beyond reactionary controversialist fame-chasing over-inflated egos?
Paul Burston - an ego so big it could cancel out the Sun - says; "We wanted to tackle issues one doesn't generally read about in the lesbian and gay press. For too long, gay people were defined by the expectations of heterosexuals – and we ended up in a ghetto, with a narrow view of the world beyond."
Erm, do you want a list of articles in the gay press saying this?
It'd be pretty long - and rather boring - and they date back to the dawn of the gay press.
And in-no-way is that cover above childishly provocative and suggestive that this mag might be Islamophobic.
(Edit: Admittedly the article could be another "On being gay and Muslim" one - as much of a gay media cliche as all those "the last taboo" ones about - shock - gay rappers).
Anyway, hurrah for bourgeois hegemony masquerading as dissent!!!

"What’s culture? Culture is just a general term for everything that goes on" - Noam Chomsky.

"Culture is ordinary" - Raymond Williams.

"Gay culture's not an oxymoron, you moron. Cause culture's just what people do" - Richard Smith.

PS "Sleazy Michael" - Michael Peacock - bravely fought and won a landmark libertarian case on gay porn last year, so why's he being slagged off?
And the number of deaths related to GHB is tiny - so why bang on about them, unless you want to fuel Daily Mail-style drugs hysteria?

Fagburn: Political Prisoner

Fagburn is proud to report he spent this afternoon detained at Hollingbury Police Station after being arrested protesting the racist EDL's March For England in Brighton this morning.
I shall, but of course, be writing my prison diaries.
¡No Pasarán!

PS I heartily recommend their vegetarian chilli - and the "groin search", it's been a while since a good looking fella touched me down there - but was disappointed when I asked for something to read and all they had was Thursday's Metro which was all about that fucking funeral.
Actually, that's kinda the extent of my prison diaries - I just took the opportunity to have a nice nap.
My hopes for being this century's Jean Genet now seem to be cruelly dashed. 

Russell Tovey: What Wouldn't I Give?

"Am I a role model for gay men? I don't set out to be that. I've never made an issue out of my sexuality and I do straight roles. But I get letters from young people who've just come out, and they say they like the fact that I'm not overtly gay. For me that's just the norm - it's how I live my life - and because I came out early but my success is quite recent, I've never had to sneak around or go through the big 'open the closet' moment. I've never had to say, 'Please don't ask me about that.' It would be exhausting to have to be so furtive. That must be horrible."

Russell Tovey in the Sunday Express.

Fagburn may be going out on a limb here, but I would quite happily "do" - or even gaymarry - Big Ears.