Thursday, March 26, 2009

TNG has moved

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

TNG Flashback: It's Cum to My Attention...

The work day is almost over. We hope you use your last ounce of concentration to revisit this year-old TNG article. Originally published by Jenny Miller on 3/24/2008

...that some of you are unaware of the great, populist experiment called XTube. Your appetite for porn may wax and wane, which is why there isn't always a stack of DVDs by your bed when you want them. And though we all know the internet was invented for lolcats and dirty movies, a blind, one-handed search for "free pornography" will reward you with an avalanche of sites which, upon clicking furtively through, turn out to be a maze of popups, spyware, and cocktease shorts leading to pay sites. So where's the real free porn?

Enter XTube, which my friend Andy described as being "Everything I ever wanted YouTube to be." And in fact, the spelling-impaired co-founders had "an adult version" of YouTube in mind when they launched in 2005. XTube allows direct upload of homemade amateur films, easy sorting, searching, ranking, comments (often hilarious), and a whole bunch of stuff I've never looked at (like, "Straight Guy Fucks a Watermelon"). Very gay-friendly XTube's own Wiki claims the following breakdown of users:

Sexual Orientation:

  • 1,215,042 Straight
  • 994,908 Gay
  • 901,641 Bisexual
  • 603 Unknown Sexual Orientation
  • 2,594,101 users are Male
  • 181,281 users are Female
  • 336,553 Unknown
My recommendation for getting your new-gay self oriented over there is to select "Both" when the choice is Gay, Straight or Both, then selecting the "Videos" tab at the top, and then "Top Favorites." Happy endings.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

TNG Flashback: Give Me A Fucking Break

The work day is almost over. We hope you use your last ounce of concentration to revisit this year-old TNG article. Originally published by Zack on 3/20/2008

"Less discussed has been [the metrosexual's] female counterpart: gals who, while not lesbians, dress like guys (young guys), well into their 30’s; who leap into games of pickup basketball with male friends while the rest of us watch wanly from the sidelines; who affect a wry detachment from their sex’s conventional concerns of shoe-shopping, man-hunting and family."

The above quote is from a Tuesday New York Observer article, entitled "The Urbane Tomboys," that attempts to draw a female equivalent to the metrosexual label that I found so offensive a few years ago. I thought we were past this kind of pigeonholing, but The Observer couldn't let a sleeping dog lie. Their article elucidates the unthinkable fact that some women don't like wearing dresses and makeup, but are still totally into dick.

Did I fall asleep in my time machine last night? Is that how I woke up in 1942?

I hated the whole metrosexual craze (and its follow-up, gay vague) because it put sheep's clothing on the old homophobic standby that gay people somehow look different than straight ones. So, in the eyes of these labels, hetero men dressing well didn't signal an era where appearance is separate from sexuality — instead, it just meant that straight men were dressing more like snazzy fags.

I thought we were past this kind of pigeonholing, but The Observer couldn't let a sleeping dog lie. Their article elucidates the unthinkable fact that some women don't like wearing dresses and makeup, but are still totally into dick.

I don't even know where to begin with this article. First off, I thought the whole "only men wear pants" notion died with falsies and sockhops. Are the standards of "normal" male and female behavior so ingrained in our culture that the slightest deviation from them warrants the creation of some bogus new trend? Lawrence King died because he didn't dress the way men were supposed to dress. So instead of making a big deal out of every person that has an unconventional personal style, we'd all be better served to just let people dress how they want to dress and accept the fact that we're pretty far beyond the days when only cowboys wore jeans.

The implications of articles like this to the homo crowd are pretty obvious too. Like those lame "white people walk like this jokes" that are so popular with bad stand-up comedians, the Urbane Tomboy and metrosexual labels imply that straight people dress and act one way and gays dress and act another. I think the lines between gay and straight are blurring because, in some circles, people are realizing that how you dress doesn't indicate who you fuck, it just shows where you shop. The idea that you can be a straight woman and dress manly, or be a lesbian and dress femme, just shouldn't be a big deal any more.

I'm sorry if this isn't the funniest post I've ever written, but shit like this really pisses me off.

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Dispatches from Left Field: On My Honor...

TNG contributor Matt' wrote this piece.

It was a clear March night nine years ago. The stars were out casting their pinpricks of light upon the rolling Georgian hills. The parking lot where I sat was washed out by the sodium vapor lights high above. That Thursday night I was nervous as hell. I was about to step into a building and finish what I had started many years prior. My stomach was a tight knot filled with a volatile mixture of acid and butterflies. The scene was not unlike one I would experience a few years later - one which would rend my heart - but this occasion was, in the end, a happy one.

On March 23, 2000, I walked into a room in a church outside Woodstock, Georgia. When I walked out, I was an Eagle Scout. My Board of Review had been successful. All the hard work I had put forth so far in scouting was recognized. But if I thought at the time that I had reached the highest point in my Scouting career, I was wrong. Scouting and I still had several years together before our estrangement would begin.

But our estrangement would come, all too soon it would seem. It was a fait accompli, our paths were to draw apart and little could be done to stop the separation. Even today, the wound that the organization inflicted upon me is painful. It throbs with the disappointment of missed opportunities and lost friendships. But mostly, its the ache of unfairness and discrimination that keeps the balm from my scar.

As I'm sure you're aware, the Boy Scouts of America takes a strong stance against homosexuality. Their position is stronger than the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. In fact I have heard of cases where mere suspicion has led to expulsion. No one, neither adult nor youth, is permitted to participate in Scouting activities if they are gay.

Scouting had been a part of my life for many years. Since 1992 the organization had taught me leadership and outdoor skills. As I grew more mature, I began to take a larger leadership role, not only in my troop, but in the district. Eventually, I was on the host committee for a regional Order of the Arrow conclave. In college, I helped to found a Venture Crew on campus.

My Venture Crew drew me ever closer to Scouting and my brothers in the organization. The Crew did its share of outdoorsy things, from camping to rafting. But I got the most fulfillment out of the service we did. One of the activities I looked forward to was working with Operation Scoutreach. This program reaches out to underprivileged kids in the inner city. Scoutreach Weekend offered these youngsters the ability to spend the weekend camping at a scout reservation east of Atlanta. In my conversations with some of them, I discovered that many had never been outside the Atlanta Perimeter (Beltway) before, let alone camping. It was fundamentally good for me to give back to the community and the organization that had given so much to me.

In fact, one of the landmark moments of my collegiate career occurred while I was working on a service project with my Venture Crew. We were volunteering for Trees Atlanta, planting trees in poverty-stricken neighborhoods on the South Side. I was just a freshman. I had never seen such poverty, and it was right here in the United States. It was within sight of the gleaming skyscrapers downtown, but it was far from the eyes of those who worked in them. I had already resolved to go into planning, but until that moment, I had not known the urgency. From that day forward, my focus on planning became far more liberal. I became an advocate of environmental justice and of using the urban form to solve social problems.

But one day the inevitable became undeniable. I came out to myself. Soon, I was outing myself to select others. Despite being enrolled at Georgia's fourth largest public university, the campus community was small. I needed to come out to the Crew. But this would be the end of my Scouting career. There would be no more hikes with my brothers in the green mountains of North Georgia. There would be no more nights around the campfire, no more tree plantings, no more Scoutreaches. Perhaps, I feared, there would be fewer friends in my circle.

It was cold in more ways than one on that dark Sunday in November. Across the field, a campfire flickered. The faces of my peers, my friends, my brothers surrounded the orange tongues of flame. How would they react, I wondered. How would I survive? Scouting had not been some after school activity for me. It had been an integral part of my life for almost fourteen years. I lay in the deep grass and looked skyward. Wispy clouds swept across the heavens, driven by some unheard wind. The walls of the valley rose steeply on either side, hemming me in. Was there any way out of this quandary? A chill swept through my limbs, but it wasn't the kind brought on by the cool Tennessee air. Tears flowed down my cheeks as fond memories of my Scouting past flickered through my mind. This was to be my last outing as a Scout.

At our regular meeting the following week, I came out to my Crew. None of them disowned me. Occasionally I was able to participate in non-scouting events like service opportunities; however, I'm not sure I ever really got over being severed from the Boy Scouts. Even with their discrimination, I think that Scouting is one of the best youth organizations in the country. Personally, I never faced homophobia within scouting, other than being kicked out. And as painful as that was, I don't regret one moment of the time I spent in Scouting.

The policy comes down from the National Council, but it does not mean that Scouting is dominated by homophobes. Some of the kindest, most loyal, most service oriented people I know I met in Scouts. But the organization clearly has some deficiencies. Discrimination is one of them. In fact, I know plenty of gay former Scouts. They are all admirable people. Coming out is an experience that teaches one introspection and self respect in a way few other experiences can. Gay individuals have plenty to offer Scouting and its members. Our dedication and insight should be valued by this organization; instead we are shunned.

A Scout is trustworthy, but National Council’s anti-gay policy perpetuates lies about gays which it knows are false. A Scout is loyal, but the policy betrays faithful members. A Scout is helpful and friendly, but this policy is hurtful and bigoted. A Scout is courteous, but Scouting’s policy encourages its members to blindly reject others. A Scout is kind, but the policy is hateful. A Scout is obedient, but Scouting demands prejudice from its members. A Scout is cheerful, but Scouting’s directive denies the ability of gays to accept themselves openly. A Scout is thrifty, but Scouting is ridding itself of many excellent resources based on shortsighted and false preconceptions. A Scout is brave, but Scouting’s policy refuses to recognize the courage that it takes to be openly gay in an often heterosexist society. A Scout is clean, but in this decision Scouting’s hands are covered with the slime of bigotry and hate. A Scout is reverent, but Scouting’s anti-gay policy will not recognize the beauty of all of God’s creations, including those of us who, although gay, are also made in his image. It is time that the Boy Scouts of America decides to return to the values it espouses to have.

No, the Boy Scouts of America's policy excluding gays does not espouse the values of Scouting. It is quite antithetical to the moral teachings which have created so many upstanding citizens.

Robert F. Kennedy once told us that “Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.” This is the message of Scouting. We are indeed disciples of a moral code which is rarely easy to uphold, but that is our message. No Scout should be taught to stand by during times of injustice.

Scouting teaches many things; foremost among is honor. There is nothing honorable in discrimination. Until Scouting rights this wrong, its image will be tarnished. That stain hurts me far more than my estrangement from the organization. My pain is especially sharp on this ninth anniversary of the night I became an Eagle Scout. But I have faith that the organization will one day reverse this unjust policy and once again welcome her long-sundered children.

Picture at top by Bruce Andersen.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TNG Flashback: Out At Work

Or,Dear New Straight Female Colleague: Please Stop Flirting With Me. Love, Michael

The work day is almost over. We hope you use your last ounce of concentration to revisit this year-old TNG article. Originally published by Michael on 3/20/2008

I'm out at work. I included some of my queer community building projects and queer-related volunteering gigs to my resume, so I obviously put it out there from the get go. But office dynamics change. New people come all the time, replacing previous colleagues. The workplace is hardly static. So, aside from wearing a pink triangle on my coat lapel or hanging a rainbow flag in my office, how can I prevent the constant need to "come out" to new colleagues as they flux into my life.

Particularly annoying is when new colleagues decide that you are going to be their workplace crush. They stop by your office and strike up senseless conversations when you're in the middle of some important work or Scrabulous game. They perk up when they see you in the hallways. They try to sit near you in the lunch room.

I'm currently experiencing a very mild version of the above. I feel bad about the attention I'm getting. Partially because it's not going to go anywhere, and partially because it makes me feel really uncomfortable.

At the same time, perhaps the straight-to-gay crush (not to be confused with the gay-to-straight crush discussed earlier) can easily segue into a friendship. My friendship with a woman in grad school started off as her crushing on me. Once we got over that awkwardness, we ended up having a lot of fun together. She was probably the closest thing I've ever had to a "fag hag". I even fake-proposed to her to be my fake-wife once, getting down on bended knee and slipping a vending-machine ring on her pinky. So maybe I should be so stand-offish towards her?

But I digress.

I'm considering getting a picture of me and my boyfriend framed and putting it on my desk. Or perhaps I can start dropping hints. I don't know. I'm at a loss. Any ideas?

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Monday, March 16, 2009

TNG Flashback: Gay Fiction Pride!

The work day is almost over. We hope you use your last ounce of concentration to revisit this year-old TNG article. Originally published by Zack on 3/18/2008

A couple months ago, Ben posted "Gay Fiction Shame?" which summarized one author's unflattering opinion of contemporary gay fiction and ended by asking readers if they had any recommendations for homo writing that doesn't blow. Sorry this took me so long, but there are at least a couple books (and one graphic novel) that are worth checking out.

Between graduating from college and starting this blog, I thought it would be fun to take a self guided tour through the gay canon. Its far from comprehensive, and is entirely subjective to my own taste, but each of these books had some kind of effect on me. I can't promise you'll like all (or any) of them, but they'll give you something to think about.

(I'll also admit that these books skew toward the male perspective. Amy, Jenny— feel free to write a response on lesbian fiction that doesn't suck when you have some time. Zami, Passing, The Corrections and Mrs. Dalloway come to mind, but you'd know better than I would.)

Full list in alphabetical order below the fold:

1.Curbside Boys, Robert Kirby: This is actually a graphic novel, but it's thankfully different from the porn/soap opera mix that categorizes so many gay comics. Drew is a nerdy alterna-kid who falls in love with Nathan, his hot, ditzy new roommate. I began reading this book in a gay bookstore in Chicago and actually finished it on the premises. It now occupies a spot of honor in my bathroom, and I've added prunes and fiber to my diet so I have more opportunities to read it. I can relate to Curbside's characters more than any other's on this list, and I think a lot of our readers will too. My fandom is so thorough that I actually asked Kirby to contribute some new strips to TNG. Look for them soon. (2002)

2. Dancer from the Dance, Andrew Holleran: People really love this book, but I don't think all that amazing. It's beautifully written but not all that much happens in the story of Malone, a "boohoo I'm beautiful" gay man who risks it all for love and sex, and Sullivan, the over-the-top old queen who introduces him to gay life in the '70s. "Dancer" could also be called "The Gay Gatsby" for the number of allusions it makes to Fitzgerald's most popular novel, most notably its main character's obsession with recreating a past that is entirely gone. (1978) [Note: It took me a while to realize this, but "Great Gatsby" is pretty damn gay too. Reread Nick Carroway's encounter with the man he meets after Tom breaks Muriel's nose and you'll see him in a whole new light.]

3. Death in Venice, Thomas Mann: The Publishing Triangle put this at the top of their 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels list, and with good reason. Gustav Van Aschenbach is an elderly German writer who sees his overly mannered life begin to unravel when he takes a vacation to Italy and falls in love with a beautiful teenage boy. This book says a lot in under 100 pages and includes many references to Greek mythology, which are a sure-fire way to my heart

4. Faggots, Larry Kramer: Fred Lemish turns 40 in three days, and is pulling out all the stops in search of "true love." Problem is, its New York City in the late '70s and, what with everyone fucking everyone else all day and night, who can find love? "Faggots" follows a pantheon of memorably-named characters (Randy Dildough, Dinky Adams, et al) from NYC to Fire Island and gives a pretty in-depth look at gay sexual politics. It's a comedy, but given the AIDS explosion that happened soon after this book was set, it raises a lot of questions about sexual hedonism and gay self-segregation that are still relevant today. And I hate to say it, but the sex scenes are pretty hot. (If that doesn't get you reading, nothing will.) (1978)

5. A Home at the End of the World, Michael Cunningham. The Hours gets more love, but I prefer this one. Jonathan and Bobby are childhood friends (and awkward adolescent experimenters) who reunite in New York in the '80s. Bobby's sad childhood leaves him open to the renewed affections of Jonathan and the more viable advances of Clare, Jonathan's roommate. When Clare becomes pregnant, the three move to upstate New York to try their hand at an unstable, nontraditional household. If you're really lazy there is a great movie version of this book, but its nowhere near as vivid as Cunningham's actual writing. (1990)

6. The Lost Language of Cranes, David Leavitt: Leavitt's "Territory" was one of the first works published in the New Yorker to deal openly and realistically with gay life, (and his " A Place I've Never Been" is a pretty perfect short story too,) but those looking for something more substantial can check out "Cranes." It focuses primarily on three characters: Owen, a married man who has spent every Sunday of his married life at gay movie theaters; Owen's wife Rose, who is beginning to catch on that he has secrets; and their 25 year-old son Philip, whose first serious relationship with a man has given him the courage to come out to them both. (1986)

7. Martin and John, Dale Peck: This book blew me away, and I do not use that term lightly. The first sentence, "This is not the worst thing I remember" sets up one of the most horrifying tableaux I have ever read in a novel and the rest of the book grips just as tightly. The book's actual plot — young man escapes abusive midwestern father, falls in love, lover catches AIDS, they both move back to Kansas— is revealed only in short, italicized sections that alternate with "story within the story" pieces that feature a variety of characters named Martin and John in situations that fill in the gaps. I don't know how to say this without sounding cliche, but this book is unusually beautiful, sad and disturbing. It can take a bit to get into, but is so worth it. (1992)

8. The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories: This is a great jumping off point, and the reason I got so interested in gay fiction in the first place. Highlights include the aforementioned "A Place I've Never Been" and Sherwood Anderson's "Hands."And anyone who has ever even considered bare-backing with a stranger should read Alan Barnett's "The Times As It Knows Us," a depiction of of AIDS in the '80s that does not make the disease sound minor or treatable. (1995)

9. Troll: A love story, Johana Sinasalo: The most unusual book on this list, and a decent companion piece to "Death in Venice," "Troll" exists in a modern-day Finland where the titular creatures aren't mythical, but rather an elusive endangered species that are being pushed into cities by urban expansion. Gay photographer Angel takes in a troll cub that he finds in the alley behind his apartment building (an illegal act, as trolls are a protected species) and finds that its presence leaves him unable to control his base urges. Angel's story is cut with sections from the perspective of several other main characters, and encyclopedic entries on trolls. I think something was lost in "Troll's" translation from Finnish to English, but you should still read it. And if you read it, please let me know. I would love to talk to someone about what the hell this book is all about. (2004)

So there you have it, a list of books that won't make you embarrassed to be gay. If you think I've left something out, or just want to comment on what I put in, feel free to write a comment, send me an email or leave a flaming paper bag of troll poop at my front door.

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Ticket Giveaway: The Mountain Goats @ 6th and I

This post was written by TNG co-founder Zack.

Every blogger crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed goat...

Lets just make this short and sweet, like a candy-coated toddler: This Saturday, March, 21, quiet folk-rock outfit The Mountain Goats will be playing at the Historic 6th and I Synagogue with John Vanderslice. I don't know much about The Mountain Goats myself, but there are many out there that treat them like the guitar playing second coming of Jesus and Joan Baez's musically gifted son. That's saying something.

To win a pair of tickets, simply answer the below question as both a comment and an email to Contest closes on Wednesday at noon. Most creative or bizarre answer wins:

We're all familiar with terms like "steady as a mountain goat" or "slippery as an eel." What analogy would you use to describe yourself akin to an animal? Are you as industrious as an ant? As squawky as a seagull? Surely you can give better examples than the ones I just gave...

While you're at it, check out a Mountain Goats playlist below the fold:

Create a playlist at

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The Reluctant Activist: Marriage Equality Has Become the Scapegoat for Divorce

This week, TNG contributor Ed exposes divorce, not marriage quality, as the greatest threat to so-called "traditional" marriage.

Arguments against traditional marriage won't defuse or eliminate the perceived threat homosexuality poses to the institution. We have to expose and talk about the real threat to marriage, which is divorce.

A while back, one of my mentors taught me that when you tell someone "no," you need to be prepared to present alternatives. She said, "When the only thing you have to offer is "no" you render yourself useless. You have no power, but if you can say no, explain your position, offer a better alternative, and back it up, then you are bringing something to the table with which you can bargain."

I would later learn that when facing an adversary in the "market place of public opinion," it's not the best plan that always wins, it is frequently the one that is easiest to explain. The perfect example is marriage equality. The position being espoused by the supporters of "traditional marriage," is contrived at best but is probably best explained as a craven, immoral exercise demonstrating a willingness to use religion to achieve political objectives. But, it's easy to explain. Saying you support marriage is like saying you like babies or puppies or kitties. What cold-hearted bastard is going to launch a campaign against babies and puppies? And even if that person has a good reason, like he or she is deathly allergic to smiling, cooing babies and goes into anaphylactic shock around them, they dare not say it. If they did, the stone-throwing, pitchfork-wielding, torch-waving, toothless villagers would be knocking at their castle door within the hour.

When supporters of marriage equality hurl around statistics like marriage fails more than 50 percent of the time, it's like sending the angry masses and a hand written invitation to storm our castle gate. Heterosexuals don't enjoy getting divorced. Well, most of the time. My mom was thrilled as all hell when she divorced my dad, as was I, but for all the TNG readers out there who are products of divorce, think about what a horrible experience it was. Although the occurrences of divorces has increased, I am sure it still has the same devastating impact on children and even one or both of the parents.

So, I have been thinking (this is the part where everyone collectively says, "Uh Oh!). If we are going to say no to the prevailing sentiment that "traditional marriage" ought to be reserved to a man and a woman, I think we should wage a campaign against the one thing that poses the greatest, real and immediate threat to traditional marriage in the U.S.: Divorce.


Some supporters of traditional marriage are going to be belligerent and resist efforts to work with them forcing us to call bullshit on them. Traditional marriage has a whole host of problems that have nothing to do with marriage equality. Show us how marriage equality is a threat to heterosexual marriages. Where is the proof? Show us one single so-called traditional marriage that ended because a person said, "Hey honey, I know we are happy and all that, but I want out of our traditional marriage because guys are marrying guys and women are marrying women. I'm leaving. I'll catch you and the kids on the flip side." Show us the court papers where marriage equality is listed as the cause for one single divorce. If they can't, then they should join the campaign to protect traditional marriage by decreasing divorces.

In order to defeat your enemy, you must know how they think (I'm being generous). The arguments offered by the other side in favor of traditional marriage include: marriage saves women from promiscuity and being treated like sex objects; marriage harnesses men's natural aggression and need for sex; it will prevent the slippery slope that will result in adults marrying children and animals and legalize polygamy; it's better for children; and, the grand dame, marriage equality will lead to the downfall of Western Civilization. One thing that continues to confuse me is that the right wingers claim to be Christians and defenders of freedom and Western Civilization, but they are constantly whining that Christianity and life as they know it is under attack. I feel sorry for them. It is sad that their faith is so flimsy that the mere suggestion of changes in social policy has them terrified their relationships with God won't survive. Christians used to be thrown to the lions if they did not renounce their faith, but I get the feeling some of these modern day right wingers would tell Jesus to go suck an egg if you threatened to put them in the same room with Paris Hilton's chihuahua.

If supporters of traditional marriage want to protect it, they should go after divorce, and I have a few policy suggestions that will decrease the divorce rate:

  1. Eliminate no fault divorce. If people are going to get a divorce they better have a damn good reason.
  2. Eliminate infidelity as a reason for divorce. Instead of divorce, married couples will have to duke it out in civil court. One spouse can sue the other and receive financial compensation for any substantiated extramarital sexual activity that has not been agreed to in writing by the couple.
  3. Couples will be required to sign a marriage contract. Each one has a minimum expiration date of at least 40 years. If individuals choose and complete a contract that is 50 years or longer, they will receive an increase in their Social Security checks after retirement. State governments will view early withdrawal as a breach of contract, punishable by a minimum fine of $50,000 per partner, and they will have to serve out the rest of the contract in prison.
  4. Any divorces will result in the partners publicly swearing their eternal souls to the service of Satan, aka "The Prince of Darkness," because a divorce is a violation of a sacred, oral agreement with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through whom salvation is made possible.
Seriously though, the following is a list of policies that I think supporters of traditional marriage would readily adopt. If the existence of Western Civilization hangs in the balance, then they need to step up their game. Trying to kill marriage equality isn't going to cut it, but fear not my unprincipled brethren. I have real ideas to help you accomplish your goals, and pay close attention. At the end of the day, none of the silliness you have put forward in opposition to marriage equality will actually protect marriage from divorce, but most of these will:
  • Eliminate no-fault divorces.
  • Make marriage counseling tax deductible.
  • Divorces will only be granted once couples have completed 52 (one a week) sessions of counseling.
  • Automatic paternity tests if a child is involved.
  • Marriage counseling prior to marriage must be completed before a marriage license will be issued.
  • Both individuals must complete a polygraph test in which they answer questions regarding moral and spiritual beliefs, having children, opinions about infidelity, money management, credit scores, domestic violence, anger management, and any number of potentially revealing questions that could one day lead to divorce.
  • Both must submit to criminal background checks.
  • Couples must undergo a full physical workup that includes fertility tests, drug tests, tests to identify precursors for heart, liver, and kidney diseases and diabetes.
  • Couples must undergo an IQ test to determine if they are intellectually compatible.
  • Couples must complete a financial disclosure form revealing all personal assets and debt.
  • Couples must fill out a form attesting to whether or not they are a Baby Momma/Daddy or have a/any Baby/ies Momma/s or Daddy/ies.
  • Every individual is only allowed one divorce in their lifetime in accordance with scripture.
  • Divorces will be limited to cases involving domestic violence or in which one or both spouses are involved in activities that present an immediate and consistent danger to the safety of other family members.
  • The "Gingrich Rule"--No one will be allowed to divorce a sick and/or dying spouse.
  • On second thought, maybe the ideas on the first list aren't all that absurd.
If everyone of these commonsense protections were to be enacted in every state that opposes marriage quality, then I would be willing to fore go my right to marry my partner. I will throw my entire support behind their efforts to lower divorce rates by both properly screening couples for compatibility, honesty, drug use and past criminal activity prior to entering the marriage and making it more difficult for couples to get out after they say "I do." Now let's get out there and get this stuff on state ballots. We know these ideas will pass in at least 40 states, because bans on marriage equality and constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman have already passed in at least 40 states. The message has been sent, and it was loud and clear.

So, if the advocates of "traditional" marriage are serious about protecting the institution, then protect it from divorce. Otherwise leave us alone, and shut the fuck up.

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Degrassi: The Next Generation of Gay Teens on TV

TNG reader and frequent commenter Adam Isn't Here submits this post.

Man, there are lots of fags on the TV these days. It’s almost as if you’re not allowed to make a show that doesn’t have a homo in it. Even the pretty-macho Soprano’s, in its final weeks, outed one of their own. And mostly sympathetically too; even if he did get raped to death by a pool cue in the end.

Television has taught us that mobsters can be gay; as can bookstore owners, tenants in drama-prone Los Angeles apartment complexes, fussy pathetic New York lawyers, morose funeral home operators, witch friends of vampire slayers, kick ass Baltimore cops, conflicted drug dealers, cute hilarious drug dealers, creepy Mormon cult leaders, naked survivors, and whatever it is those boring married-gays do on that boring Brothers and Sisters show. That’s right, gays can be boring and earnest too.

But you know what kind of gay you don’t see much of on the ol’ tube? I mean, apart from women, people of color, or anyone who isn’t physically attractive of course. Teens! Which is weird, because television LOVES teenagers. Oh sure, I remember Ricky, (how could I forget Ricky?) but he, like everything else having to do with My So Called Life, was an anomaly. Not any more though.

Just off the top of my head I can think of four gay characters, who are sixteen or younger and featured prominently on their respective shows. I’m not trying to tease you by holding out names this long, the programs I’m referring to are Degrassi, United States of Tara, Skins and Gossip Girl.

Let’s start with Degrassi. Now I should tell you, I’m between the ages of 20 and 35, and I’m Canadian. That means I’ve seen every episode of the original Degrassi several times over. Growing up, Degrassi was inescapable. Inescapably awesome! Of course Degrassi has already dealt with the love that dare not speak its name more than once. This one time everyone was sure Ms. Avery was a lezzer, and that she may or may not have been hitting on Caitlin. It caused quite a stir. Another time Snake’s brother came home from college and told everyone that his relationship with his special roommate was very special indeed. The shame! But no actual student of Degrassi ever came out that I can remember. It took until “The Next Generation” for that to happen, and once it did it snowballed almost out of control. This new Degrassi is crawling with queers; some avowed, some closeted, and others just experimental. Oh to be young again.

The only problem I have with Degrassi’s current gay story line is that it involves another jock. This time it’s a football player who makes a move on the floppy-haired twinky one, only to be gently rebuffed in the “woah dude I think you misunderstood” style of rebuffment. So he gets a girlfriend and starts taking steroids because he thinks it’ll make him straight, all the while sneaking off for long runs in the park where he has rendezvous with an old buddy from soccer camp. It’s all adorably misguided. Frankly I’m just surprised it took Degrassi this long to tackle the very real issue of gay public-park sex.

That’s very titillating and all, but Degrassi already had a gay jock. He was a hockey player and he and his boyfriend were tragically torn in twain so jocko-homo could pursue his professional hockey career in Switzerland or Sweden or someplace. I know, I know, there are gay jocks out there, and I’m sure they feel very underrepresented, poor things. I think it’s great to make the point that gay kids don’t need to be put off athletics or other “manly” endeavours because they’re gay. But they already made that point. Being attractive and athletic, this kid’s already got a leg up, and what with all the same sex action going on at his high school, I’m sure it wouldn’t take him long to come to terms and get in on the fun. Being a homo isn’t exactly a heavy cross to bear at Degrassi.

The encouraging thing about young queers on TV is that it shows kids that it’s all right to be different. Jocks have got enough high school cache as it is, even if they do suck a dick now and then. So how about a deeply affected weirdo who smokes cloves and hangs out in the graveyard? Or a drama fag who really wants to audition for Maria but ends up as the Captain? Or the overweight, insecure video game player? How bout some screen time for them on Degrassi?

To the writers’ credit, the hockey player’s boyfriend was a total flamer. Like, super faggy. And they do have a very limp wristed drama fag, but he’s not gay. He actually got some chick knocked up, and then stole oxycodone from the pharmacy where he worked to pay for diapers. There is no action without consequence in this universe. It is a vicious and wrathful pantheon of gods that watches over the students of Degrassi. Maybe I should cut them a break.

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Hidden History: Goodbye, Gay Bookstore

TNG contributor Philip submitted this post. Hidden History appears biweekly, exploring the nooks and crannies of the gay and lesbian past.

With a friend, I made my final pilgrimage to Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop on a cold and sunny day in February. I had heard it was scheduled to close at the end of March, a victim of declining sales. As we walked down Christopher Street in the West Village, I spied a rainbow flag hanging loosely. Closer to the building, I could see the familiar, purplish sign screwed into the bricks. “Est. 1967”: years before I was even born.

I don’t have a long history with Oscar Wilde—I only first went in 2005, when I was up in New York City for a GLBT literary awards presentation—but I have tried to go each time I’m in the Village. I’ve found little gems there, including issues of a 1970s gay poetry magazine, Mouth of the Dragon, and a copy of Essex Hemphill’s Conditions chapbook, but my desire to go is only partly spurred by book hunting.

More specifically, it is a sense of place and community that has caused me to return so often to Oscar Wilde. It is the same sense of place and community that founder Craig Rodwell (1940-1993) was trying to engender when the store opened in 1967.

Rodwell had been one of Harvey Milk’s early, pre-fame boyfriends—historian Martin Duberman suggests that Rodwell’s founding of Oscar Wilde served as inspiration for Milk’s opening the San Francisco camera shop from which he ran his successful political campaigns. He then survived a suicide attempt before involving himself with gay activism in New York City through work with the New York Mattachine Society.

Wanting to find new office space for Mattachine, Rodwell hit on the idea of combining an office with a bookstore. This would create more accessible space for gay community members who might want to join Mattachine. Unable to draw others into his plan, he would work the summers of 1966 and 1967 on Fire Island, squirreling away what funds he could to assist in opening a bookstore on his own. One thousand dollars later, he rented a storefront on Mercer Street, purchased the few gay and lesbian titles then available that fit his ideal for the store, and opened up for business over Thanksgiving weekend in 1967.

With a stock of roughly 25 titles, Oscar Wilde was miniscule compared to later stores such as Washington D.C.’s Lambda Rising, Philadelphia’s Giovanni’s Room, or the multi-city A Different Light. While there were more than 25 gay and lesbian books available, many didn’t support Rodwell’s plan. He wanted the store to reflect a more consciously literary vision of gay life, and thus turned down stocking the era’s gay and lesbian pulp novels. Additionally, anything pornographic or anything that hinted of intergenerational sex was out. This led to confrontation with those who thought his anti-pornography stand was indicative of a sex-negative attitude, but Rodwell would continue his highly personal vision of what Oscar Wilde Bookshop should be for the rest of his time owning the store.

Almost immediately upon opening, Rodwell was forced to deal with death threats, anti-gay graffiti and smashed store windows, homophobic phone calls, and an angry landlord who had been told he was renting space to a bookstore without the nature of that bookstore being revealed. Although the landlord was eventually appeased by the clean-cut nature of most of the store’s customers, these issues were indicative of the overall environment, even in a neighborhood with the bohemian reputation of the West Village. This was still three years before Stonewall and the first New York City gay pride march and six years before Oscar Wilde would relocate to the burgeoning gay mecca of Christopher Street. Operating the store was potentially dangerous for Rodwell, and similar to young gays and lesbians now who might be nervous about being seen in a gay bar or club, some potential customers were scared to enter. The costs of being known as gay or lesbian, even in an urban environment, could be very high.

The store was met enthusiastically, though, by some in the developing gay press. Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke, lovers who had relocated from Washington D.C. to New York City and traded picketing in front of the White House for writing a gay-positive column, “The Homosexual Citizen,” in Al Goldstein’s hetero-oriented Screw magazine, praised Rodwell’s daring. A whole column in 1969, “Stalls of Balls,” promoted the store, as Nichols and Clarke noted, “It takes guts to open a business and base one’s cash and credit on books to be sold for public enlightenment about our ‘shadowy,’ ‘furtive,’ and ‘much-feared’ group.”

From these beginnings, Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop became a fixture of life in the heart of gay Greenwich Village, serving, in journalism historian Rodger Streitmatter’s words, as “an unofficial community center.” It survived for 41 years and through four changes of ownership, the longest continuous run by any gay bookstore in the United States, before sharply declining sales forced its current owner, Kim Brinster, to announce the store’s imminent demise. Some might attribute this decline to the current state of the economy, but Oscar Wilde had undergone a previous closure scare in 2003, before Deacon Maccubbin, owner of D.C.’s Lambda Rising, stepped in to save it temporarily.

Instead, this has been a slow development. Although some would look at it positively, as evidence that, with increasing mainstream acceptance, GLBT people no longer need a bookstore to function as the heart of their community, I believe such a view to be dangerously short-sighted. The death of the gay bookstore—Los Angeles’s outpost of A Different Light is also closing this spring—herald two very dark trends. First, many readers buy from generic Internet retailers like Amazon, choking independent bookstores. Second, while mainstream culture may now acknowledge a gay presence, and most mainstream bookstores may now have a gay section, mainstream culture does not know or care about the health or history of the gay community.

The co-opting of the gay community by market forces could (and should) be an entire separate column, but suffice to say that as there are fewer outlets for a range of GLBT books, fewer diverse and vital voices are going to be heard. Large publishers are unwilling to risk presenting any but the safest gay and lesbian topics (and few enough of those), and independent gay presses, many of which have attempted to nurture outsider voices, will find it harder and harder to operate without gay-specific sales venues. Reader by reader lost, Internet sale by Internet sale made, we destroy our culture.

None of this was specifically on my mind that day in February as my friend and I browsed Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop for what I knew would be the final time. The tiny store was packed with buyers drawn by news that it would soon close; I could not help but think that if only these readers had patronized Oscar Wilde while it was a going concern, there would have been no need for closure.

I picked up a copy of Tennessee Williams’ Collected Poems, and we made our way to the counter. We bantered a bit with two pleasant clerks, and when I turned down a paper “Oscar Wilde Bookshop” bag for my purchase, my friend joked, “You should take one; they’ll be collector’s items now.”

Steeling ourselves for the cold, we exited the store, and it was gone.

Thanks to Chris Bram for taking the photo; I'm glad my final visit was with you. Some research for this column comes from Stonewall by Martin Duberman and Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in Americaby Rodger Streitmatter.

Have a suggestion for a Hidden History topic? Love, hate, agree, or disagree with something I wrote? Just want to talk? Feel free to direct e-mail to

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Drug Addict

Ben is a co-founder of TNG.

Rush Limbaugh is in the news again. Apparently, the Democrats are doing a good job of helping him promote his voice as the focal point of the Republican party. I’m supportive of anything that helps the GOP implode, but I feel drunk when confronted with the reality that Rush is still taken seriously by the people we rely on for information and analysis.

Rush Limbaugh is a drug addict. For whatever reason, America seems to have forgotten that fact. For over two years, he illegally obtained and used massive amounts of Lorcet, Hydrocodone, and Oxycontin, otherwise known as “Hillbilly Heroin.” He abused so much of it that he went deaf in both ears and rapidly lost a great deal of weight. Any idea how many drugs it takes to lose your hearing and drop 40 lbs? I'm guessing a lot.

Let's review some of the prevailing signs of drug addiction:

  • Paranoia, delusions
  • Temporary psychosis, hallucinations
  • Dishonesty
  • Unreliability
  • Verbosity, “up” and cheerful behavior, with seemingly boundless energy.
  • Irritability, agitation, and anger
These characteristics not only describe Rush Limbaugh, but someone whose opinions should not be taken seriously. I don't want to demonize drug addicts or inspire hatred for Limbaugh, because I'm sympathetic to the overwhelming psychic pain these sick people feel on a daily basis. 12-step programs work because they are designed to deflate a massive ego (typical of addicts) while suggesting steps for rebuilding self-esteem, but so often addicts refuse to admit they have a problem or they shift addictions. Granted, Rush is probably off the pills, but once an addict, always an addict. Any graduate of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program will admit that. When addicts don't address their underlying psychological problems they just redirect their addictions. They continue to hide their crippling insecurity by further inflating their self-importance and self-medicating, if not with drugs than some other proxy. Rush, who is reviled by so many, can't possibly pump enough air into his ego bubble to keep the demons at bay. It's a testament to his strength and personal fortitude that he hasn't exploded. My guess is that he'll off himself with a shotgun during his radio show. Probably between an interview with Ann Coulter and an analysis of Barack Obama's ties to satanism. But I digress.

Due to the circumstances of my past, I’ve known many drug addicts. Despite their own special charms, all were reckless, deeply disturbed liars. They were also the last people I would count on...particularly for critical thinking. Unfortunately Journalists overlook the obvious and continue to elevate his voice by including it at the apex of national debate. Some time ago I saw David Gregory, host of Meet the Press (the gold standard of political reporting and debate, supposedly), counterpoint the ideas of one of his esteemed guests by referencing Rush Limbaugh, as though better options weren't available. I almost choked on my granola. I haven’t watched Meet the Press since, as I don't have the stamina to slide where this slippery slope leads, be it the GEICO lizard ruminating on the auto bailout or a foreign policy debate between Hillary Clinton and Marvin the Martian.

I don’t want to be entertained by news, I want to be informed. Anyone who cites Limbaugh’s opinions in the marketplace of ideas immediately loses credibility, assuming that the context isn’t humorous infotainment or overt and often ridiculous pandering, as provided by the likes of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, the Huffington Post, or Fox News. I’m not saying that limits should be placed on ideas and their discussion, but we do owe it to ourselves as rational creatures to limit the conversation to the voices of those who haven’t completely destroyed every ounce of their credibility. If the so-called reputable programs that you rely on for news insert the opinions of a discredited drug addict in to the national conversation, please reconsider your news source. There are better options.

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Morrissey at the Warner Theatre

TNG co-founder, contributor and webmaster Michael submits this post.

Sexually ambiguous British pop icon Morrissey still has it. And the crowd still wants it. Morrissey played many of the hits from both his solo career as well as his time with The Smiths (as well as a few misses) and the audience ate it up. Look below the fold for a slide show.

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