Monday, March 31, 2008

The Summer Of My Discontent: A Better Place II

by Mark Roeder

Dane is a 16 year old gay runaway, who comes to Verona and is out to make a life for himself on the edge. Only he goes too far and a young male hustler and a grave robber are the only ones who can help him.

The characters from "A Better Place" are back in this novel as well, and Ethan, Nathan, Brendan and Casper have to survive blackmail, bankruptcy, and temptation...

"The Summer Of My Discontent" is a work of passion that Mark published himself. It's the fifth book he suggests reading in his THE GAY YOUTH CHRONICLES series. Most of the novels in the series take place in small-town Verona, Indiana, over a few decades and some characters overlap from one book to another.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ruth and Naomi - What Happened Next to our Favorite Biblical Lesbians?

It's too good a story to not finish properly. So, Ruth decides to cleave her life to Naomi's, and together they head back to the land of Judah.

Ruth in Boaz's Field
1828 painting by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Ruth will eventually remarry, this time to Boaz. But this marriage is clearly not a relinquishing of the relationship to Naomi but a way of sheltering that relationship and of giving it security. Ruth and Naomi become coconspirators in snaring the wealthy Boaz. Indeed, Naomi gives Ruth precise instructions for an act of brazen seduction. She is to go onto the threshing floor after all are asleep and crawl under the cloak blanketing Boaz, uncovering his "feet" (3:4). Linafelt points out that here "feet" is likely a euphemism for genitalia and thus implies a fairly direct seduction. When he discovers Ruth snuggling up to his bared flesh, he agrees to cover her so as to hide her (or rather, them) from the eyes of the other men. He appears delighted that she has tried to seduce him, an old man, rather than the young bucks on the floor (3:10). Hence he decides on a way to prevent Ruth from being exposed as a shameless hussy so that he can marry her and have this beauty for himself.

The plots all work out. Boaz acquires Ruth for a wife, and they produce an heir who is David's grandfather. But the fulfillment of this design is itself more than a little strange. It is not only that the whole thing is arranged by women in order to find security for the love that binds them to one another. The way the wording of the conspiracy works is also that Naomi, in telling Ruth what to do, says that she herself will do it. (cf.3:1). Thus, where we read "you," the Hebrew often reads "I." It is as if in some fundamental way Ruth and Naomi are already "one flesh" (e.g., 3:3-4).

Moreover, the birth of Obed should, in patriarchal culture, mean that Ruth has given a son to Boaz. But the text makes clear that the son is born to Naomi. This is, at least, the view of the women of the village, who exclaim, "A son has been born to Naomi" (4:17). In an odd way the text makes Naomi both the mother (for she becomes the nurse of the infant; v.16) and the father (for it is to her that the son is born). This merging and shifting of gender mirrors what has happened earlier in the case of Ruth. Though younger, she leaves mother and father and cleaves to Naomi as Genesis says the man cleaves to the woman.

So interpreted, the story may help us see how the love of women for one another has managed to survive and even thrive under conditions of patriarchy and heterosexism. The obligations of the patriarchal structure are in fact complied with: Boaz has a son. But by this means the women find a shelter within which their love for one another can flourish. It is, after all, this love - the love of these two women for one another - that is the entire motivating force for the plot that unfolds; that is the romantic heart of this short story.

How amazing, and hopeful, that Ruth and Naomi found a way to be together for the rest of their days... and how incredible that the fruit borne of this lesbian love sired, in three generations, King David, who had a queer love of his own!

Ahh, I love learning how our queer love stories are so integral and woven into the quilt of our culture's founding myths!


The above excerpt is from pgs. 229-230 of "Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel" by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


By Tatiana Strelkoff

When Karen moves to a new city, she meets Allison, and the Teenage girls fall in love.

Only, how are they supposed to make this work? What about their families? And when a schoolmate threatens Karen and puts her in danger, things get even more complicated!

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Better Place

By Mark Roeder

Casper is poor, bullied, and his life is a hell.

Brendan's rich, the captain of their High School football team, and his life seems perfect... except for one thing.

These two gay high schoolers come from two different worlds, but they share the same desire.

And despite everything (and everyone) that tries to keep them apart, they hope to get to "A Better Place."

"A Better Place" is a work of passion that Mark published himself. It's the fourth book he suggests reading in his THE GAY YOUTH CHRONICLES series. Most of the novels in the series take place in small-town Verona, Indiana, over a few decades and some characters overlap from one book to another.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Someone Is Watching

By Mark Roeder

17 year old Ethan is on his High School wrestling team.

But he's also wrestling with his attraction to guys.

And then Ethan discovers he's being followed. Watched. Tormented.

And he has to figure who it is. And what he's going to do about it.

"Someone is Watching" is a work of passion that Mark published himself. It's the third book he suggests reading in his THE GAY YOUTH CHRONICLES. Most of the novels in the series take place in small-town Verona, Indiana, over a few decades and some characters overlap from one book to another.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, March 24, 2008

50 Ways Of Saying Fabulous - A Gay Teen Book

by Graeme Aitken

12 year old Billy is growing up on a remote farm in New Zealand.

That's where he struggles with his weight, his dreams of exploring outer space (like in the TV show "Lost In Space"), and his attraction to his two new friends: the freaky Roy and the hunky Jaime!

Graeme's novel was also adapted into a movie that did the film festival circuit in 2005. Here's a link to the film's website.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Even More Biblical Homoeroticism: The Love Story (and Lesbian Marriage!) of Ruth and Naomi

There is a famous story of women in love from the Hebrew Bible (or "Old Testament", just as there is the amazing tale of homoerotic love between David and Jonathan.

The story of Ruth and Naomi serves not only as an ancestral prelude to the story of David but also as an essential, if surprising, counterpoint to that saga. The story of David appears to be above all a story for and about men celebrating the adventures and exploits of men among men, in which women play only subordinate and minor roles. The story of Ruth and Naomi is the reverse of this field, focusing as it does on the struggles and the exploits of women in which even the principle male character, Boaz, is reduced to being the mechanism for securing the well-being of an enterprising partnership of women.

The Ruth-Naomi and David-Jonathan stories are also linked together thematically; they both deal with persons of the same gender loving one another. Because of the passionate romance that characterizes the relationships depicted, and the deep feeling and undying loyalty of the love narrated, these two stories have regularly served as models not only of same-sex but also of cross-sex friendship and lifelong loyalty.

The portion of the story that has been most often quoted comes early, after the reader has been told that Naomi has accompanied her husband and two sons to Moab on account of a famine in the land of Judah. As immigrant aliens in Moab, they apparently find hospitality. They settle there for several years, and Naomi's two sons find wives among the Moabites. Her husband has died, however, and soon her sons die as well. Hearing that the famine has passed in her own land, Naomi resolves to return, a lonely and bitter woman, in hopes of finding some kinsfolk to ease her last years. Her Moabitess daughters-in-law have apparently come to love Naomi and resolve to accompany her, themselves to be immigrant aliens in her land, as Naomi has been in theirs. Naomi argues that to do this would be tantamount to never marrying again. Orpah allows herself, reluctantly, to be persuaded, but "Ruth clung to her" (1:14). Naomi tries again to convince her to stay in Moab, but Ruth replies:

Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following after you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall by my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more if even death parts me from you. (1:16-17 RSV)

With good reason this declaration has been taken as a staple of wedding ceremonies. It goes even beyond the "till death do us part" of the wedding pledge to declare an unalterable commitment and permanent loyalty. Nowhere else in the Bible and scarcely in any literature do we find a more affecting exhibition of love and loyalty.

Yet it is the declaration of one woman to another. It is the declaration of same-sex love that has become the model and expression of cross-sex marraige.

Nor is this simply fortuitious or arbitrary. The text itself makes the reader think of heterosexual conjugality. The verb translated as "clung" (dabaq) in the assertion that Ruth clug to Naomi (1:14) is the same verb used in Gen 2:24 to articulate the mystery of (hetero)sexual union:

Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. (RSV)

The extravagance of desire and delight, which the author of Genesis has attributed to the relationship between male and female, becomes articulated in the words of Ruth. Her "cleaving" breaks into speech with this declaration in such a way that it gives voice as well to the longing and loyalty that struggle for speech between persons of the opposite sex.

Moreover, the content of her speaking makes clear that Ruth, like the man in Genesis, is leaving hearth and home in order to embark upon this new relationship. This is underscored by the words of Boaz to Ruth when he mets her in the field and tells her that he knows all she has done for the sake of Naomi, including leaving "your father and mother and your native land" (2:11).

Finally, we have heard from Naomi that the choice her daughters-in-law have contemplated, which Ruth has subsequently actually made, is one that almost surely replaces marriage. (1:13)

In a number of ways, then, the story insistently portrays the relationship between Ruth and Naomi as comparable to marriage and as an embodiment of it.

William Blake's 1795 painting
showing Naomi trying to dissuade
her daughters-in-law from coming with her.
Orpah leaves, but notice how Ruth "cleaves" to Naomi!

There are many sources with information about Ruth and Naomi. The above section is from pages 227-229 of the fascinating "Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel" by Theodore W. Jennings Jr.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sixth Form, The

By Tom Dolby

17 year old Ethan leaves his home in California to do his Senior Year (or "Sixth Form") at Berkley Academy, an upper-crust prep school in Massachusetts.

He's swept up in his new life by his rich classmate, Todd, and their free-spirited teacher, Hannah.

But there's a dark side to the trips to New York, encounters in the graveyard by their school, and the meetings at Hannah's secluded home...

Mysteries loom for Ethan, not the least of which revolve around just who he is... and who he wants to be.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Soccer Field Is Empty / Ancient Prejudice

By Mark Roeder

Mark and Taylor are both 16 years old. They're into soccer. And each other.

But then "Ancient Prejudices" threaten their love...

Inspired by Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," this "gay" version gave rise to Mark's entire Gay Youth Chronicles series.

"The Soccer Field is Empty" is an "expanded" version of Mark's first self-published novel, "Ancient Prejudice."

It is the second book he suggests reading in the series he calls: THE GAY YOUTH CHRONICLES. Most of the novels in the series take place in small-town Verona, Indiana, over a few decades and some characters overlap from one book to another.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Biblical Homoeroticism: The Prophet Elisha and his Resurrection of a boy/youth

The Story of David and Jonathan from the Bible is fascinating and inspiring, especially as it mirrors my own notion of the valor and heroism of gay relationships - two warrior heroes, who fall in love with each other.

But it's interesting to note that often times we look at history - especially hidden history - as a way to buttress up our current concepts of what is "right" and "good." Much of the Bitchin' Queer Quotes and Poems I've selected for this blog so far I chose because they're fascinating and they make me feel that being gay is NOT such an anomaly in our world - that there IS precedent and that there is, in fact, a long, proud tradition of same-sex love that we inherit upon learning about it.

The flip side of uncovering hidden history is that there are going to be things that are historical that don't exactly feel "good" to us today.

Ancient Greece had a history of cross-generational eroticism and relationships between men and boys (youths) that might seem to be fodder for today's religious right's accusations of equating homosexuality with pederasty.

But to ignore the uncomfortable historical facts makes our view of history's spectrum of sexuality as limited as the heterosexist historians who eliminated positive same-sex references in the first place.

Having said this, check out this fascinating bit from "Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel" by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. It's about the prophet Elisha and how he brought back from the dead a child/boy/youth:

Before we come to the actual resuscitation, Elisha sends his servant Gehazi to the boy with his staff, which is to be laid upon the boy. Despite the haste with which Gehazi complies with the strange orders of the prophet, the use of the staff as a substitute for the body (?) of the prophet does not meet with success. But Elisha is already on his way in person at the insistence of the Shunammite woman:

When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them [Gehazi and the mother], and prayed to the LORD. Then he got up...and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. (4:32-35)

...This later story fairly bristles with a barely suppressed eroticism. There is the staff as a possible phallic signifier, whose ineffectiveness seems to call out for the "real thing." The intimacy of lying on the boy (mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand) is underlined with the addition of the sexually charged verb, "bent over him." We notice the warming of the boy's flesh and, oddly, that the boy "sneezed" and did so seven times. What is going on here? We may take these elements in turn.

To what extent should we read the "staff" as a phallic substitute? If this is a phallic substitute, then the report that it does not work even when laid on the face (or front) of the child suggests that this resuscitation may only be done in person with the real body of the prophet. This would be the body with a real as opposed to a virtual phallic member attached.

The English translation seeks to soften the action by inserting "on the bed" when Elisha gets up on the boy and lies on him and bends over him. The triple underlining of the action of Elisha only makes more emphatic the quasi-sexual nature of this lying upon the boy that had been expressed in the earlier account (concerning Elijah) as "stretching" upon him. The triple verb is accompanied by the triple designation of body parts in proximity: mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand.

In this narrative the erotic character of Elisha's action is answered by the response of the lad. After the first intimate action in Elisha's bed, we are told that the lad's flesh becomes warm. At first this may seem an innocent if puzzling detail - until we recall an episode from another story, this time from the last days of David. The king's diminishing potency has alarmed his advisors, and they select and send a beautiful young Shunammite girl, Abishag, to lie in the king's "bosom" in order to warm him (1Kgs 1:1-4). And we recall that in the story of Elisha, we are in the home of a Shunammite woman. But now it is a boy in bed, and it is his body that is being made warm by the man who lies upon him. In each case the warming of the body by bodily proximity seems to aim at sexual arousal as the sign of bodily vitality. Unfortunately for David, Abishag is not as successful as Elijah. [or Elisha.]

But Elisha is not yet finished with the boy. He gets up and walks to and fro. Thus refreshed, he rises up upon the boy in bed again. And this time the boy not only responds with the warming of his flesh but also "sneezes" and does so not once but an astonishing seven times. Why is sneezing here the sign of new life? And why are we told that he does so seven times? The commentators regularly assert that this sneezing is a sign that the boy is breathing. But there would scarcely be any need to make use of a word that does not otherwise occur in Hebrew to signify breathing.*

*The word occurs in biblical Hebrew only in this passage. One wonders how the translators decided on "sneezing" as its translation.

There are other ways to say this; for example, the way it is said in the story in which Elijah has restored the boy. Sneezing is after all not associated with life but with a sort of convulsion more like death. But sneezing is like another act - the act of ejaculation. That is why we get the otherwise inexplicable "seven times." Sneezing seven times is not a good sign of vitality. But ejaculating seven times is a sign of rather extraordinary vitality.

On this reading, what has happened here? Elisha's act of getting upon the boy, lying on him, and bending over him is an action of sexual arousal, whose success is represented not only by erection (getting warm or even "hot") but also by multiple ejaculation. The boy near death or already dead has become a sexually potent young male through being sexually awakened by Elisha.

WOW. Now THAT's fascinating - and with Easter coming up, it adds a lot of texture and interest to the notion of resurrection - or perhaps I should use Theodore's pun: (res) Erection!



The quotes above are from pages 102-104

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Case of the Missing Mother (Pride Pack #2)

By R. J. Hamilton

The adventures of the Pride Pack continue!

15 year old Rebecca has two Moms. When one of her Mothers, Maia, gets into a public dispute with a Bible-thumping homophobe, Rebecca's embarrassed.

But when her Mom Maia suddenly disappears, Rebecca gets her friends from the Gay and Lesbian center to help her figure out the mystery and save her mother!

The second in the two book middle grade mystery series, "The Case of the Missing Mother" is, like the first, also out of print. But copies of this are out there (pun intended!)

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

American Idol Thoughts #3: Friday Morning Quarterbacking on David Hernandez - Would Being More OUT Have Helped?

Oh, the pain.

David Hernandez was voted off of American Idol Wednesday night.


There was so much press and hub-bub about his past career (as a stripper in a gay club), that I'm sure there will be a lot of analysis about how David's being GAY was the reason he was voted off. That America isn't ready for a Gay American Idol. (Interestingly, Australia may be. In 2004, Gay Singer Anthony Callea was runner-up on Australian Idol and since then his version of the song "prayer" has sold record numbers!!)

(oh, check out the video of it!)

So, why was David Hernandez voted off? Was it the Gay thing?

Tuesday night's episode included little video packages before each contestant sang where they got to talk about their lives (and jobs) before Idol. David completely pretended that NONE of the controversy had happened, and he spoke instead about having worked at a pizza joint and having been fired from there.


He could have come out as gay, been proud of who he was, taken a strong stand about what he had done, and laughed about how it made him probably more comfortable on stage than the other contestants. He could have made a joke about how they used to tell you that the way to overcome stage fright was to imagine the audience in their underwear. Well, now the American Idol audience would get to imagine him in his underwear!

It could have been so funny. So cool. So open and honest and OUT.

But, no.

Sadly. Predictably. The closet approach won (I wonder who advised him?), and there was no mention of any of it. No sense of humor, or pride - just, frankly, a sense of shame.

And that lack of pride SHOWED - it was like a spark had gone out, something magical about his past performances, some joy in it, was gone on Wednesday.

And we saw a guy who looked like David Hernandez dance and sing "I saw her standing there", but as Randy might have said, "Where's the David Hernandez we fell in love with?"

Perhaps what this whole thing shows is that America isn't ready for a closeted American Idol.

Why oh why didn't he sing "I saw HIM standing there?" It would have brought down the house!

But really, David didn't sing that well on Wednesday. Was he the worst? "8 days a week" by Kristy Lee Cook was arguably more terrible, but he was one of the worst.

And ultimately, the vote was about that.

But I'm still a fan.

And my wish for David Hernandez is for him to come out, and be a huge success.

And as he sang in Hollywood week so fantastically, "Love the One You're With" - David and all of us need to remember that the person you're always with and the first person you gotta love... is yourself!

And as for me, I'm still hoping that someday soon we'll have an OUT and PROUD Gay American Idol...

Until then, have fun watching!



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Who Framed Lorenzo Garcia? (Pride Pack #1)

by R. J. Hamilton

In the spirit of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, here's a middle grade mystery where the heroes are a group of friends who've met at the local Gay and Lesbian Center!

16 year old Ramon had been living on the street, kicked out of his house for being gay. But things are looking up. He's been taken in by Lorenzo Garcia, a gay cop who wants to adopt him. But when Lorenzo is framed on drug charges, Ramon's life falls apart - and the only ones who can figure out what's going on are Ramon and his friends...

And as the very "pulp" back jacket reads:

As the clock runs down, they must make sense from the thinnest of clues. And a deadly trap awaits as they seek to discover Who Framed Lorenzo Garcia?

While "Who Framed Lorenzo Garcia?" (the first in the two book series) is out of print, you can still track down copies - I did. And anyway, it's cool to know about.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Outfield Menace

By Mark Roeder

It's the 1950s in Verona, Indiana, and 15 year old baseball player Kurt faces off with resident bad-boy Angel.

There's a murder.

A love affair.

And a secret that puts both Kurt and Angel in mortal danger...

"Outfield Menace" is a work of passion that Mark published himself through iuniverse. It's the first book he suggests reading in his THE GAY YOUTH CHRONICLES series. Most of the novels in the series take place in small-town Verona, Indiana, over a few decades and some characters overlap from one book to another.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pedro And Me

By Judd Winick

True Story: Back in 1993, Judd was on season 3 of MTV's "The Real World," one of those reality TV shows where all these guys and gals from different walks of life are thrown into living together.

Judd's roommate was Pedro Zamora, a dynamic gay AIDS educator who had been diagnosed with HIV at age 17.

This graphic novel follows Pedro's life, their friendship, and explores the bond and then the loss experienced when Pedro died of AIDS in 1994.

The book is subtitled: "Friendship, Loss and What I Learned" and it is heartfelt. Here's two views of inner pages, to give you a feel for Judd's artistic style:

Powerful stuff. And while it's not technically a "novel" like most of the titles on this blogsite (as "Pedro and Me" is based on a true story)

I thought it was definitely worth sharing and adding to the list of GLBTQ Graphic Novels.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gay Marriage - What Would Cinderella Do?

How many times do kids watch the Disney movies about the wonderful Disney Princesses, who fight for and ultimately win their TRUE LOVES, and then live happily ever after?

Is it at nine viewings of "Cinderella 3: A Twist In Time" when the notion that TRUE LOVE is more powerful than even the fairy Godmother's stolen magic wand starts to be imprinted on their psyches? Or does it take an even dozen times to realize that what we all should want is this TRUE LOVE thing, and that the "happily ever after" starts with a wedding ceremony where that love is celebrated and confirmed to the community?

"Cinderella" ends with a wedding.

So does "Cinderella 3"

So does Ariel's story in "The Little Mermaid"

Okay, so we all watched these movies as kids, and now today's preschoolers are starting their indoctrination into the "magic" of what love and life holds in store...

Only, there's a betrayal for those of us boys who realize our TRUE LOVE is another Prince. Or for those of us girls who wish to find another Princess.

There's so much hub-bub among "concerned parents"and the "religious right" that exposure to the paltry few picturebooks that feature happy same-sex couples and families could somehow influence their children to be gay.

Books like "King and King" and "And Tango Makes Three" and even "The Family Book" by Todd Parr.

Well, I was exposed to an awful lot of heterosexual "propaganda," was raised by straight parents in a culture that was ALL about my finding a girl and getting married, and it didn't make me straight.

What I did take away from all those Disney films was a gender-adjusted goal:

I wanted TRUE LOVE with a "Prince", and I knew that when I finally found him, it would be celebrated with a wedding ceremony. Beyond that my plans were a little fuzzy...

Now I didn't have any elaborate plans about the wedding, and frankly, I didn't spend a lot of time daydreaming about that day...

But I knew that, just like everyone else watching those Disney Movies, that I was the star of the movie of MY life, and that I wanted a Happily Ever After as much as anyone, animated or real.

And while I'm blessed enough that I FOUND my Prince almost 11 years ago, and we had a religious wedding ceremony, and we're raising a daughter together, we're still not able to be legally married in our state or our country.

So now, when it seems possible that the California Supreme Court may finally make Gay marriage legal in our State (after our disappointing Governor Schwarzenneger twice vetoed Gay Marriage Bills that our amazing representative Mark Leno -and other brave politicians - championed through the state legislature), there are signature gatherers out all over the state, trying to get enough signatures to put an anti-gay marriage measure on the ballot. Trying to get a sense of fear and mob mentality stirred up (and trying to get more reactionary conservatives to the polls during the presidential election cycle in November) to take away any rights we as a minority may have been on the verge of achieving...

As Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart (representing San Francisco and the lead lawyer arguing before the California State Supreme Court) said so beautifully last Tuesday, this isn't about the tradition of one man and one woman marrying - no one's suggesting we take away that right. We're fighting the tradition of discrimination, the tradition of denying gay men and women access to legal marriage.

And I can just imagine the day that there's a Disney-quality animated musical about two Princesses (or two Princes!) who fall in love, and who, despite all odds, get to live happily ever after. I'll cheer that TRUE LOVE all the way from the Disney On Ice spectaculars to the character pajamas!

So, when you see one of these signature gatherers, trying to get YOUR name in support of keeping the tradition of discrimination against all GLBTQ kids, and adults, and gay and lesbian couples and families like mine, I hope you can ask yourself this question:

What would Cinderella do?

Wouldn't she want EVERYone to get to have true love like she has, and to have it recognized and celebrated? I mean, even Anastasia, her mean step-sister, gets to keep the King's seashell at the end of Cinderella 3 and is told "Everyone deserves True Love" by the King himself.

So, what would Cinderella do?

She wouldn't sign.

And she'd walk away, singing about it.

Thanks for thinking about it!



ps - you can check out Equality For All for the latest on the Anti-Gay Marriage Signature Gathering Effort.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Baby Be-Bop - A Gay Teen Book

By Francesca Lia Block

A prequel to (and the last published of) the Weetzie Bat Books, "Baby Be-Bop" follows Dirk and his early childhood realization that he's attracted to other boys.

In adolescence, Dirk struggles with his identity - with his best friend who can't deal with his being gay, and with how to tell his Grandmother who is raising him.

In a state of semi-consciousness after being gay-bashed, Dirk is visited by his ancestors - and even has a vision of his future, giving him hope that love will come to him in time.

"Baby Be-Bop" was re-published in the Weetzie Bat two-novels-under-one-cover "Beautiful Boys," which includes the novel "Missing Angel Juan."

"Missing Angel Juan" is a continuation of the story of Cherokee, who goes to New York to find her boyfriend.

Add your review of "Baby Be-Bop" (and if you wish, of "Missing Angel Juan") in "comments!"

Thursday, March 6, 2008

American Idol Thoughts #2: Why Danny Noriega Makes Me So Swishily Uncomfortable: How I Need to Embrace My Inner (and outer) Sissy

Okay, so putting aside David Archuleta being a Superstar in the making, and Michael Johns being so incredibly good at making everything he sings and does sexy, I have to confess that the contestant who makes me the most uncomfortable is:

Danny Noriega

He grins, tilting his head to one side like he hears tinkling bells

He swishes on the stage

His wrists bend... a lot

Why does Danny make me cringe?

I think it's that he embodies the stereotype of "gay = effeminate" that I spent most of my adolescence struggling with inside, and then most of my 20s trying to act out against on the outside.

Once I got myself gayed out (think "straightened out") I thought I was able to embrace the drag queens at Gay Pride, and I thought I had accepted that there were different flavors of each letter in our particular alphabet soup (GLBTQ).

So WHY this cringing HOMOPHOBIC reaction on my part to watching this cocky teenager swish and preen and toss his hair like a girl on American Idol? He gets up to sing, and what goes through my mind?

His willingness to buck the system of conventional male roles and "acting" straight should be appealing.

His being here and being queer should make him a role model, right?

His sureness in who he is should make me stand up and cheer.

Instead, like a coward, I hit the tivo remote.

Bloop. Bloop. Bloop.

Randy: Dog, what can I say?*

Paula: I love, you are so original*

Simon: You are who you are, you just need to find the right song*

Wow. Not even Simon is as mean to him as I am. None of them will criticize him for being too girly.

And he can sing, too.

I am such an asshole. And I'm GAY! What's going on?

Then there's

David Hernandez

David Hernandez, who with his past as a stripper at a gay club makes me like him even more. This is a gay guy I can identify with.

He's a guy's guy - sexy, talented, and refreshing that he's not hiding who he is. (Though he'd need more than luck to succeed with that, what with all the news coverage of his past being billed as "Idol Scandal!") Puhhhlease. Like they didn't know beforehand. And frankly, shouldn't that help his chances?

Knowing that guys would pay to watch him on stage should certainly boost his confidence.

And he has a great voice.

But he's so easy for me to watch. And cheer. And think, "Thank God, there's finally someone gay on American Idol!"

Is he a role model?

Well, no one's perfect. I have to admit, I like him and I'm so proud of him for representing our community.

WHAT? What about Danny? Why the HELL am I not proud of him, too?

So here's what I think is going on. David is easy for me to like because he's the same flavor of "gay" that I like.

Growing up with 'friends' testing to see if I was gay in elementary school by asking me to look at my nails, and then seeing when I looked if I kept my hand straight (like a girl) or balled my hand into a fist (like a man) set the stage for my being hyper-alert and hyper-sensitive to signs of effiminancy. (Let me tell you, you only get that wrong once...)

An adolescence spent HIDING who I was, paranoid that a limp wrist would give away something that could destroy my future life and survival made sure that I held my hands very carefully.

My reaction to Danny's girly flair was crafted and forged in the fires of suburban Philadelphia homophobia.

It's an INTERNALIZED homophobia, a learned discomfort and suppression of my OWN girly flair that Danny brings out.

so what am I saying?
I can't watch Danny swish because I was teased too many times for walking swishy? Am I jealous of him?

No. I don't particularly WANT to swish. But here's a true life story:

A couple of years ago I was listening to music while I walked on the beach. Some great song came on in my headset (I think it was 'lady marmlade' from the movie "Moulin Rouge") and I was kinda dancing, kinda walking, kinda singing along. Having a great time.

These three teenage girls I passed burst into laughter, and cat-called after me, "You always walk so swishy like that, mister?"

I smiled and kept going, because I really didn't give a damn what they thought. But it took me 35 years to get there.

God bless Danny, He's there at 18.

So, I promise to not tivo past him this time. But you'll have to forgive me if I root just as loudly for David Hernandez.

But they're both "my boys."

It just took me a bit to realize it.

Thanks, and have fun watching!



*Uh, these are not quotes. Think of them as an historical fiction re-enactment, okay?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Witch Baby

By Francesca Lia Block

Book 2 in the Weetzie Bat series, "Witch Baby" tells us the story of the outsider among Weetzie Bat's group of dreamers.

In the Shangri-LA that is their Los Angeles, Witch Baby struggles with the injustices in the world, with pain, and figuring out where she belongs.

This book includes the whole gang again, including gay Dirk and his lover Duck.

"Witch Baby" was re-published in a two Weetzie Bat books-in-one set called "Goat Girls"

which also includes the novel "Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys."

"Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys" takes up the story of Cherokee and Witch Baby when they form a band with two guys while their parents (the adults in Weetzie Bat) are off in South America filming a new movie. Magical costumes help the band gain success, but the teenagers discover fame has a price.

Add your review of "Witch Baby" (and if you wish, of "Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys") in "comments!"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Homoerotic (and Naked!) Ecstacy of the Prophets of Ancient Israel

David and Saul (1885) by Julius Kronberg.

Get ready for this amazing Queer interpretation of the Old Testament, which comes from "Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel" by Theodore W. Jennings Jr.

Saul was told, "David is at Naioth in Ramah." Then Saul sent messengers to take David. When they saw the company of prophets in a frenzy, with Samuel standing in charge of them, the spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also fell into a prophetic frenzy. When Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they also fell into a frenzy. Saul sent messengers again a third time, and they also fell into a frenzy. Then he himself went to Ramah.... He went there, toward Naioth in Ramah; and the spirit of God came upon him. As he was going, he fell into a prophetic frenzy, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He too stripped off his clothes, and he too fell into a frenzy before Samuel. He lay naked all that day and all that night. Therefore it is said, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (19:19-24)

When Samuel told the youthful Saul that he was the Lord's chosen, Samuel also told him that he would receive three signs that he was indeed the one favored by Adonai. In the third sign, Samuel said:

You will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the LORD will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. (10:5-6)

The Queer interpretation Theodore makes of these Biblical passages is scholarly and fascinating. Here are some highlights:

The element upon which I want to particularly focus is the notice that Saul stripped off his clothes and lay naked for a day and a night. What has nakedness to do with prophetic frenzy?

...we may also note an intriguing parallel between the initial description of the band of prophets and the description that anticipated David's dancing before the ark. In both cases we have groups of men dancing; in both we have them accompanied by the wild music of lyre, flute, tambourine, and harp. Is the whole tale of David's dance before the ark modeled on the behavior of these ecstatic "prophets"? Is David, who is king and who will act as priest when the ark arrives at its destination, also taking the role of prophet in his own ecstatic dancing before the Lord?

There too we are told through the words of Michal that David's dancing was a naked cavorting. That is, nakedness seems to be a part of the ecstatic response to being possessed by YHWH.* It was the nakedness of David there that signaled to Michal his unfitness to be king, or so she said. But more than that, it was the naked cavorting that had awakened her sexual jealousy.

This brings us back to Saul dancing, throwing off his clothes in orgiastic ecstacy, and then falling into a swoon where he lies naked for a day and a night. We first observe that Saul's stripping off his clothes is identified as something that he has in common with the others who are in ecstatic frenzy: "He too stripped off his clothes." Getting naked is not something that distinguishes Saul from the other cavorting nabi'im but rather his identification with them. Naked cavorting is something "prophets" do.

What this episode is suggesting is that being possessed by Adonai leads males to whirl and writhe in naked ecstasy. The possession by the spirit of the Lord is an overpoweringly erotic, indeed sexual, experience.

I was raised in a Jewish household, dutifully went to Sunday School (though I often complained about it being boooo-ring), and at 13 was Bar-Mitzvah-ed.

Somehow, this fascinating and homo-positive history of what these Ancient Prophets of Israel did (the naked-ecstatic-dancing-cavorting-gay-orgies part...) was left out of my education.

What a shame. It would have made things a lot more interesting back then...

Well, at least we know about it now, right?

Hope you enjoyed learning about this as much as I did.


*YHWH is an intentionally un-pronounceable acronym for "God," which is part of the Jewish tradition of not writing out the word "God" but using other symbols and words to represent that idea. Other usages you may see include "G-d" and "Yahweh" instead of the Hebrew word for God, "Adonai." In Theodore's text, he distinguishes the character of God as portrayed in the Bible from the concept of God, and his use of YHWH represents the character of God in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament.

The quotes above are from pgs 83 - 93.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Weetzie Bat

By Francesca Lia Block

Nobody understands quirky Weetzie, until she meets Dirk, who takes her clubbing and tells her he's gay. Together the two iconoclasts and friends go "duck hunting" ...and find their loves.

The two couples move in together, make movies that become underground successes, and even have a baby!

"Weetzie Bat" is the first in what became a five book series.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"