random Malibu interior
I climbed Runyon. It didn’t shift the feeling of rage that shook my body after a curt little note from Adam at the American Foundation for Human Rights.
I met Adam after the Precious event at the Chateau Marmont. I showed some interest in the human rights work he is involved in. I offered to help. We became Facebook friends. I offered to take Adam to lunch. Adam said he was available after Thanksgiving. I emailed him once again today.
Adam replied that he didn’t have time to meet to discuss the Foundation before say, February. He is ‘stressed’ too stressed, apparently, to think that maybe somebody like me could actually help. Adam will be appearing, however, in a choir, carving pumpkins and decorating his Christmas tree with ‘friends’ and ‘family’ during the holiday season. Adam, as you can imagine, is ‘single’.
Before I launch into this I just want to remind you that I have devoted my life as an artist and filmmaker and now TV personality to serving the gay community. My last gay film, The Picture of Dorian Gray a reworking of the original text by Oscar Wilde was either the opening or closing night film at 5 major gay film festivals around the world and played in over 300 others. This film followed in the footsteps of 5 previous films. When Jimmy Kimmel said publicly, mockingly that he had not heard of me my response was why should he? He doesn’t go to gay film festivals but there are many thousands of us who do. Before becoming a filmmaker I made theatre primarily for a gay audience. My credentials as a bone fide, committed, gay artist and cultural aficionado are without doubt.
I watched the promotional video on the site of the American Foundation for Human Rights. The gay men at the heart of the Prop 8 human rights case were dressed anonymously, the lesbians like a man and a woman. The representative for the Foundation earnestly telling the rapt audience that they were going to find ‘justice’. The straight lawyers from ‘across the political divide’, already married to heterosexuals, were coming together so that gay men and lesbians who ‘deserved’ equal rights could get married just like them. As usual, they spent time invoking and quoting and channeling the ubiquitous Dr. Martin Luther King, as usual ignoring the irritation this causes black men and women who are loathed to let the gays appropriate their tireless martyred hero.
Why should that be you wonder? Why should the black community want to hold so preciously onto Martin Luther King? Why do they feel that their struggle is so different to ours?
Well, for a start the gays can’t muster enough of a consensus to find one man or one woman who speaks their truth or to their condition. There is no face to the voice that whines and complains. I suspect the black community loath comparisons between their struggle and ours because we so rarely struggle. Because they really did struggle: appalling, life threatening, daily, no reprieve, at the back of the fucking bus struggle.
If you take time and look at Dr King’s timeline scarcely a month passed when he was not actively risking his life for equal rights, where he marched in hostile neighborhoods, where he calmly faced a sneering, Glenn Beck type media.
When he was assassinated there were riots in 130 cities, 20,000 people were arrested. There were riots in 130 cities.
Dr King galvanized his community as a leader could galvanize ours. Where is our fearless leader?
When did the gay men you know really fight for equality? When did the gay man you know last risk his life or risk being arrested or simply hand a leaflet to a person outside of WeHo or Chelsea or your cities gay ghetto? When did he take real risks for what he believed in? When did he let someone who never previously met a gay man know him so that that someone could put a face to the notion on the ballot before he/she voted?
Every time we say Dr Kings name in regard to our struggle we choose to overlook the history of slavery, emasculation, lynching, rape, child abuse, murder etc. etc. But mostly we choose to ignore our own dirty little secret: the appalling racism that exists in the gay community. Let me say it again: we simply overlook this most shocking fact. Endemic RACISM in our own community.
- According to a 2008 study, racism against gay Asian/Pacific Islander men leads to socially and contextually prescribed sexual roles for that may also contribute to the practice of unsafe sex among this group.
- According to a 2000 survey conducted of LGBT African-Americans in nine U.S. cities, a third of respondents reported negative experiences in predominantly white LGBT organizations and with white LGBT persons in bars and clubs.
- In 2005, Les Natali, the owner of a gay bar named Badlands located in San Francisco, was criticized by the city’s Human Rights Commission who determined that thirteen instances of racial discrimination by the staff occurred. Examples include refusal for entry by African-Americans, white patrons being served first even though African-Americans were first in line among others.Badlands was picketed by a diverse group of community activists over several weeks to bring attention to the situation and a group, And Castro For All (AC4A) was formed that has continued to promote dialog about racism in LGBT communities.
- In 2006, there were reports of verbal attacks on gay Latinos by gay whites in The Castro district of San Francisco. John Mendoza, a protest organizer against racism in the Castro, said he was told by a gay white male to “go back to Mexico, you fucking wetback, where you belong”. A rally was staged in response.
- Drag queen and performance artist Chuck Knipp has been criticized by anti-racism advocates for his character Shirley Q. Liquor. Knipp performs his act in blackface, and makes comments about blacks and black culture which some people consider offensive. Several protests have taken place and Knipp has canceled several of his shows.
- Some LGBT media outlets have been criticized for not putting a racially diverse representation of gays and lesbians in their works, like magazines such as The Advocate and gay-themed television series such as Queer as Folk.Shows such as LOGO’s Noah’s Arc utilized more gay people of color in their casts.
- The late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe produced a work called The Black Book which many gay, African-American artists have called fetishistic, racist, and demeaning.
Thought you might not know that stuff. Think you might hesitate before quoting Dr King next time?
As usual this Human Rights Foundation is merely a money making machine for more over paid lawyers. Lawyers and more lawyers feeding off of the carcass of our community. Using the same old routes expecting a different destination.
Why is it so difficult for us to find our own Dr King? I want my own brave, eloquent gay leader? Can we get ourselves a leader who galvanizes our community? I very much doubt it. Unless he’s a porn star of course or Ellen.
Another thing. When I walk the streets in my gay neighborhood I get pestered for cash all the time by pro gay marriage beggars. Can we spend our communities money wisely-I suggest we spend it on pro-gay aren’t we fab type advertisements, on outreach, on being visible to people who might not know who we are but hold the deciding vote? So, when and if the time comes we are known, that our faces and stories are known beyond our gated community.
I am sure Adam is a very nice boy. I am sure his friends and family will appreciate his ‘time’ during the holiday season. I am only sorry that, as usual, there seems to be no time for those of us who have engaged successfully with changing the law in our own country without pissing off a community that suits a comparison but not a shared culture.
Some of us want to get involved, feel included without being shoved condescendingly to the sidelines by prissy queens who seem, by their Facebook profiles to know tribes of identical men with identical, mediocre hair cuts and manicured histories and no idea what it is to be risky beyond snorting crystal and barebacking.
P.S. I had a dream that every man I ever objectified lay in a pile of naked, rotting pink and brown tangled limbs. Every man I ever slept with, fantasized about, intrigued with. Every man from straight college man dot com, from Sean Cody dot com, Corbin Fisher dot com-they were all there. Rocky, Max, Tucker, Rider, Sean. A mountain of dead bodies, a heap of pristine white underwear, blue jeans, teeshirts, huge piles of expensive sneakers. Every man I ever wanted, however briefly, a useless, decaying memory.