Category Archives: Eric Riley

A Gay Paradigm Shift

Tyler Clementi II I've been reflecting on the recent news coverage of gay teen suicides for a week now. While for those of us in the queer community, where the knowledge of teens committing suicide as a means of escaping the daily psychological torture of coming to grips with sexual identity is nothing new, it seems the mainstream media have finally caught on to this very serious problem.  But why now?  Why not 40-50 years ago in the infancy of the American gay liberation movement?  Why not 30 years ago during the peak of the AIDS crisis coverage?  Why not 12 years ago when the Trevor Project started?  Why are gay teen suicides finally getting mainstream national media attention?  Because we're finally starting to see the overwhelming change in social attitudes required to shift mainstream thought to be inclusive of gay people in general, and the deaths of these young people are catalyzing that change.  I know the phrase "paradigm shift" has been used ad nauseum since Thomas Kuhn wrote his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, but that premise still holds true.  It takes years for a change in society to really take hold of people, and what I think we're seeing in this news coverage is a huge step forward not just for acceptance but more importantly for inclusion in the larger social fabric of the nation. 

In this very year we have seen the transcript from the Prop 8 trial, and the ruling of Judge Walker in that case which held that the proponents of this proposition had no defensible reason to support the exclusion of gay people from the institution of marriage.  What little evidence they presented was unsupported by history or fact, and their expert witness (of which there was only one) was basically rejected as unqualified to actually comment on the matter at hand.  It was abundantly clear that the sole motivation of proposition 8 was to oppress a sexual minority for no good reason.  Even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who were instrumental in the campaign to support proposition 8 are looking back at the division and strife that they have caused and it is driving them to tears.  I have no doubt that as the wheels of the judicial system continue to grind away, that this and all other state constitutional amendments that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples will be erased as a thing from a less enlightened time.

Also in this very year we have seen Bishop Eddie Long, Ted Haggard, and many, many others.  These men, a product of a conservative ideology that says that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, have worked diligently to uphold that worldview, even unto the suppression and utter destruction of their own self-identity.  The lives and well-beings of gay people everywhere have been dramatically influenced by people like this through religion and politics.  These are gay men  who live in denial, believing that their lives are wrong, that we must continue to support the heterosexual relationship as the only type of relationship that matters.  But in secret, their hearts pull them elsewhere, and they turn to abusing themselves, others, or both.  Ultimately we get fire and brimstone from these bully pulpits, where they push their own self-hatred outward to others, forcing more gay people and their families to experience the same pain and conflict that they are feeling.  Again, there is no defensible reason for this, and ultimately these structures will change both from within and from without.

It's these very outre political and religious statements against homosexual people that have brought to light the gay teen suicides.  It took a political campaign the size of prop 8, the national conversation that surrounded it, the trial that brought out the facts behind the prop 8 supporters, exposing the hypocrisy of the political and spiritual leadership who wrangled it into being and seeing the emotional damage that it caused, for people to finally realize that anti-gay speech and actions are a devastating practice that can drive young people to suicide.  When your state tells you that you don't deserve the same rights as other people, when your minister tells you you're going to hell for what you feel, when you believe no one around you feels the same way you do and calls you names for what's inside of you, when you fear what may happen to you if you share this secret with your own family, is it any wonder that you would become isolated, downtrodden, lonely, despairing and feeling that there is no hope left.  Suicide seems like the only option.  It is a tragedy, and one that has sadly been repeated for a very long time, long before these most recent notable deaths.

But the fact that these suicides, which under any other circumstance would have been the story in a local newspaper if that, have been taken up by the mainstream media like CNN and the New York Times, to me that says there has already been a change.  Poll numbers in support of gay marriages are rising.  Important religious figures are taking a stand and changing the tone in the church and calling their faith traditions on their stance.  Don't Ask, Don't Tell is on the brink of repeal.  The teen suicide stories have sparked a number of celebrity campaigns to speak out against anti-gay bullying including the star studded "We Give A Damn" campaign and the more down to earth "It Gets Better" campaign onYouTube.  Anderson Cooper called out a Michigan Assistant Attorney General for stalking and cyber bullying the openly gay president of the U of Mich student council in a hate filled blog.  All of these stories combined tell me that we are already living in a different time, and that there is no turning back any more.  The American public is finally looking critically at homophobia and its disastrous consequences, and it is only a matter of time before we have a sea change of public opinion.  

Homogenization

LRLogoStandard

 This morning on NPR I heard an article about the closing of Lambda Rising, DC's oldest, exclusive GLBT bookstore. While I couldn't locate the segment online for this morning's session I did find this interview with All Things Considered from last Saturday. A lot of things ran through my head, well, the economy is sucking and small businesses are failing. Niche markets are hardest hit when disposable income suffers, and queer literature is indeed a niche market.

What hits me hardest though is the sentiment that "every mainstream bookstore has a GLBT literature section."

Though true, Borders and Barnes and Noble both have gay literature sections, they pale in comparison. A mainstream bookstore may carry at most 100-200 titles in a GLBT "section" usually at most five shelves versus 20,000 titles in a store like Lambda Rising. Thinking about the selection process alone and only the most highly rated potential sales would even be chosen for that select shelf. Not to mention that most mainstream bookstores would include the erotica in there as well, thus taking up one of those five shelves with literary porn. Throw in biographies and histories and gay literature standards that are always selling (Jeanette Winterson, etc.) and you've got next to nothing left for new ideas, new fiction, theoretical works, subcultures… You only get what the mainstream bookseller thinks the gay consumer will buy, the lowest common denominator.

With the fading of indie bookstores and the move to the homogenous big box store what we get is a watering down of the breadth of gay culture. We become one small, carefully selected shelf in the vast body of popular literature.

This makes me wonder about monoculture.

When I was a child, I grew up in a small town with little to no ethnic diversity. People weren't German, Greek, Italian, Appalachian… We were all just white people. It didn't even occur to me that my family was of Irish descent until we got one of those family reunion ploys in the mail to get people to travel to Ireland. They must have sent every Riley in the country a mailer. Until I was about 18 years old, the only diversity I saw was on television.

Suffice it to say I didn't understand what being gay was until I was much older, and even then my perception of what it was colored my understanding of who I was. I didn't claim a gay identity until I was 21 or so. I didn't think I was one of the kinds of people I saw on television. I was different from them. It took me actually reading about gay people, going out to clubs, going to the GLBT community center and eventually finding the Radical Faeries before I could truly say that yes, I was gay and that it doesn't look like x, y or z. The kind of gay I am is not even in your alphabet. But it took years and years of learning and time and structure to form the identity I claim now. I had to learn the language, to navigate the wilds of subcultures to find the kinds of people who made sense to me.

I talk to a lot of people, many of them not much younger than I am, who say they're "post-gay" or don't identify as that kind of gay. They're something else, some kind of new-gay. Part of me wonders if they say this because they've grown up with an understanding of gay as some sort of homogenous identity. Perhaps much like I grew up just being generically a white person, these people have grown up with a definition of gay and they reject it because they recognize something more in themselves.

As we transition to a world where the breadth of gay identity is plowed under by mega-corporatizing influences, I suspect I'll hear more of this claim of a "post-gay" identity. Who we are needs the breadth of a library to explicate and understand the diversity of our lives, but our larger society run solely on profit incentive doesn't care about that. They only want to make money, they don't care who we are, where we came from or where we're going. They only care that we'll probably buy erotica. And we probably will.

My Big Gay Day at ALA

As you all know may know I’m a librarian. This last weekend I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association here in Washington, D.C. If you didn’t know the ALA has one of the oldest professional associations for GLBT people, the GLBT Round Table and nearly every year since 1971 the GLBTRT has presented awards to the best queer books of the year. Sunday morning I attended the 2007 GLBT Round Table Stonewall Book Awards Brunch and these were the winners.

Holleran_grief The winner of the Barbara Gittings award for best GLBT fiction was Andrew Holleran for his book Grief. Grief is a compelling short novel revolving around a man who upon the death of his mother travels to D.C. and becomes engrossed in the letters of Mary Todd Lincoln. Deeply moving, Grief was the unanimous choice for the fiction book of the year. Unfortunately Andrew was away in Europe on a book tour and couldn’t recieve his award, but he shared his thanks in a letter that was read before the crowd.

Other finalists for best literature were:

The Manny Files / Christian Burch
The Night Watch / Sarah Waters
Rose of No Man’s Land / Michelle Tea
A Scarecrow’s Bible / Martin Hyatt

Bechdel_funhomeThe winner of the Israel Fishman award for best GLBT non-fiction was Alison Bechdel for her graphic novel memoir "Fun Home." Fun Home tells the story of Alison and her family. Through the process of coming out to her father and sharing her experiences her father begins coming to terms with own sexuality. Alison Bechdel spoke this morning at the brunch and she shared her own story of coming out through literature, and the ping-pong process of reading about sex and actually having it and how sometimes the twain did not meet. It was really quite funny and I look forward to reading her book. Oh, and by the way, it’s also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award for best non-fiction book of the year and it’s already won loads of awards. The full list is available at: http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/reviews-and-interviews

The other finalists for best non-fiction were:

Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights / Kenji Yoshino
Gay Power: An American Revolution / David Eisenbach
Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships / William Benemann
Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son: A Memoir / Kevin Jennings

Maupin_michaeltolliver After the brunch I attended a few other lectures on library stuff, and spoke to a few people about books, bought a few books from the trade show floor reps and then headed up to the Public Library Association keynote speech by Armistead Maupin. Originally Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, was slated to speak to the ALA, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it. As Maupin noted to the attendees there was an irony in that Elizabeth Edwards was in San Francisco speaking at gay pride, when one of the most noted gay authors was in Washington DC speaking to a bunch of librarians. We laughed. Oh, his speech was fantastic. It was about the common questions he gets asked, about his inspiration, his life, and his new book Michael Tolliver Lives.  I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say that some of the story in MTL is based exactly on his life, specifically the opening sequence where Michael at 55 finds the love of his life on the internet, and that’s not giving anything away as it happens in the first chapter. This directly mirrors Maupin’s own experience falling in love with his partner, Christoper Turner founder of daddyhunt.net.

I ended the day by walking another gay colleague back to Lambda Rising to go to the Alison Bechdel book signing and having a couple bits of kissy time. It was lovely.

And I got LOADS of books.

And I’ll be blogging them. Just you watch. 😉

Denial and Despair

Back in November when the story about Ted Haggard hit the airwaves I wrote here on the Gay Wisdom Blog that I thought he had a lot of thinking to do (see: and the charlatans continue…).  This week Ted Haggard said, or rather one of the four ministers who have overseen his intensive ex-gay religious therapy said, that Haggard is now 100% straight.  But all to what end?  He’s lost his church, his position as the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, he’s leaving Colorado Springs, the only thing remaining is the relationship with his wife.  Given the huge breach of trust from having an extra-marital affair, with another man, while possibly experimenting with highly addictive drugs, his marriage is probably not the calmest harbor in his storm, but it’s the last external thing to cling to.  If he did lose his marriage as well in this situation he would have been left with absolutely nothing but himself and his feelings of guilt and shame and failure, and that’s a terribly dark road to walk.  Unfortunately for him he’s taken the route of denying his sexual feelings in an attempt to try to cling to a "normal life," and we’ve all seen how well denial plays out in one’s life.

I’m not apologizing for Ted Haggard.  No.  I’m extraordinarily sad for him.  I can’t imagine the scope of what he’s going through as a result of his outing.  On the scale of life traumas this is a huge hit.  But at least he’s still alive.

The same can not be said for Rev. Brent Dugan. Dugan was a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh who recently committed suicide from the fear of being outed on the KDKA-TV news.  This local news channel began running commercial promos saying that they were going to expose his "illicit behavior."  Dugan saw these promos and fled, and while the news station was back-pedaling he took his own life.  Dugan was 60 years old, single, and having a discreet relationship with another man.  He left copious notes for everyone he was leaving behind expressing his "profound sorrow and sadness, and sense of solemn grief and embarrassment, about what he thought would come to be known about his personal life."

I keep coming back to "Why?"  Why on earth would Dugan take his life?  Why on earth would Ted Haggard try to go through ex-gay "therapy?"  Maybe it’s that they have their lives, they have their secrets and they’ve lived with them for so long that they can’t imagine their lives laid open.  Maybe it’s that they have their preconceived notions of gay life and they can’t deal with the shame of how they believe "us," "the other," "not them" to be, though they themselves feel the same feelings.  Maybe it’s because they have their religious beliefs that tell them how sinful it is to be a homosexual and they can’t defy their God.  I could go on coming up with reasons, trying to understand, but to me it makes no sense.  It’s as if we live in different worlds. 

But our worlds are not different, it’s just our choices.  I went through crises of faith and sexual identity, and I’m sure most all of us have, and maybe continue to do so.  In our own way we’ve made our choices about living in the open, staying the closet, repressing or expressing our sexual nature.  I’ve come a long way from suicide and religious intolerance; others, like these men, are not so lucky.  But I believe the world is changing for the better.  Before our very eyes we see the changes. From welcoming and affirming congregations, to religiously affiliated gay marriage ceremonies, to commercial appeals for religious tolerance; the religious landscape, though battle scarred is very much changing.  There will always be voices of intolerance, but I believe that those voices are diminishing.  People change, and to me it seems we’re changing for the better.  Hopefully, in time, people like these men will not have live in denial and despair, but can come forward, serve their congregations faithfully, openly and in peace.

So may it be.

WC71 – re:Sources by Eric Riley

Beats & Bohemians

The poetry of the beat generation has been something that has inspired me personally from a very early age.  I remember being in high school when people were snickering over the copy of Allen Ginsberg’s collected poems because they were so unabashedly queer.  I remember winning an academic team match by knowing something about William Burrough’s Naked Lunch (and yes, I’m that kind of geek).  But the things that were most captivating about them to me was the ecstasy of living, the joy of embodiment, and the perennial quest for spirit and meaning.  These truths were profound to me in my youth, and that spirit of pride and power is something that I’ve carried with me to this day.  Incidentally, I own every single one of these books.

BOOKS

The Portable Beat Reader {VIKING}
As anthologies go, this one is one of the best.  It includes work from all of the major players in the beat generation, and some of the people who were more “off scene” but were highly influential, like Neal Cassady.

Collected Poems – 1947-1980 
Allen Ginsberg {HARPER PERENNIAL}
This is the exact volume of Ginsberg’s poetry that my public library had when I was growing up.  I remember reading “Sweet Boy Gimme Yr Ass” when I was 17 and blushing from shame.  Now I read it and am overcome with the power of it all.

Naked Lunch William Burroughs {GROVE}
“Drugs, and sex, and sex, and sex” was how Burroughs himself described this work.  And as a summary, that’s pretty apt.  But it’s not just the drugs and the sex, but the language, and the fugue-state that you flow through in this novel.  You could literally pick up the book anywhere in the text and if you just let yourself go with it you can just dive right in, regardless of the past.  It’s that rich.  And the movie has Julian Sands, what more could I want!

On the Road  Jack Kerouac {PENGUIN}
Big Sur  Jack Kerouac {PENGUIN}
While everyone knows On the Road as the classic novel of the beat generation, and it is indeed Kerouac’s rambling benzene-induced masterpiece, fewer people know about Big Sur.  Big Sur to me was just as good as On the Road, but the image at the end of the novel of standing on the cliffs of California and hearing the crash of the waves below has resonated with me to this day.  That spirit of wildness, vastness, and power was another reason why I wanted to go to the west coast when I was younger. 

The Electric KoolAid Acid Test  Tom Wolfe {BANTAM}
As Whitman was the link to the past, Kesey was the link to the future.  Tom Wolfe’s book documents the journey that Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and Neal Cassady (one of the seminal influences on the beat generation) took in their bus spreading the word about the mind-opening power of LSD. 

Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet’s Café
Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman {OWL}
In the mid-90’s beat poetry experienced a HUGE resurgence thanks to, of all things, MTV.  Poetry slamming had become so big that there were specials on television devoted to the resurgence of poetry, and specifically poetry that was influenced by the beats.  I watched all of those specials when they first aired.  I was glued.  And in there I discovered the Nuyoricans, the Puerto Rican poets of New York, who are in my eyes the children of the Beats.  Voices like Maggie Estep, Emily XYZ, Edwin Torres, and others are compiled here, and they shine.

CDS

Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs by Allen Ginsberg {RHINO}
If you want to hear a beat read, and read like it’s meant to be read, you MUST hear Allen Ginsberg.  This 4 CD box set includes some of his most powerful works including “Howl,” “Kaddish,” and “Please Master.”

The Jack Kerouac Collection {RHINO}
I personally don’t own this, but I’ve heard it and it is thrilling to hear.  When reading a novel, I always try to hear the author’s voice, but when hearing an author read his own work you just really get it.  Kerouac wasn’t necessarily the most thrilling reader, but it makes a difference to hear his voice.

Call Me Burroughs {RHINO}
Here William Burroughs, the grand master of beat, junkie, prose reads selections from some of his works.  His voice is worn, and long, and goes along in a slow, deliberate pace that sticks with you.  It’s incredibly distinctive.

Songs in the Key of “X”: Music Inspired by the X Files {WARNER}
Why?  Because you get to hear William Burroughs perform “Star Me Kitten” with REM.  A more perfect pairing of sexual weirdos I could not arrange.

MOVIES & TELEVISION

PeeWee’s Playhouse {RHINO}
OMG, are you kidding me?  Why are we watching PeeWee’s Playhouse for beatniks?  Because he has a beat puppet backup band made up of characters named Dirty Dog, Hep Cat, and Chicky Baby.  I’m not joking, and it’s pretty funny to boot.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

And the charlatans continue…

The focus of my re:Sources guide for this latest issue of White Crane was on religious hypocrisy. We don’t have to look very far to see that it’s still going on, because it’s been all over the news of late.

Last week Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and leader of the Colorado based New Life Church, was called out on his relationship with another man. Haggard has been a vocal supporter of Colorado’s anti-gay marriage amendment, which goes to a statewide vote tomorrow, November 7th.

There are so many layers to this story, not just Haggard’s adultery with a 49 year old male escort, but also what seems to be a possible crystal meth habit as well. I see this whole package as an prime example of the soul-crushing power of religiously based homophobia.

This one man rose to power holding this secret, and using his own internal pain directed his anger back against the gay community. In his own attempts to understand himself he turned to illicit relationships for cash, he fell into one of the most dangerously addictive drugs available (and one that is running rampant through the gay community), and he just kept on lying about it. Denying who he was led to this amazing fall from grace.

And let’s be honest, this is a big problem for the evangelical movement. Their constant repression of homosexuals leads to exactly this kind of situation; someone in the closet who rises to a position of power only to be outed and fall. The sadder thing is that Ted Haggard is just one of the most visible victims of evangelical homophobia. There are many other people, children and adults, who are twisted up inside because of this hate.

I know. I was one of them once.

I was lucky in that my family allowed me to come and go from religious beliefs as I saw fit. But I wanted to believe that I could be "good." And I tried, and I suffered because of it. I left when I decided that any God who made me this way and also wanted me to suffer because of it was no God I wanted to have in my life.

Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome or masochism, but I don’t understand why people would want to be subjected to that kind of emotional and psychological torture. Maybe it’s lust for power, or a desire for personal control. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Whatever the reason, the effects are obvious; lying, denying, self-loathing, and abusive and addictive behavior.

What will happen to Ted Haggard? This must be an extremely difficult time for him. What will he do with his life now that he’s no longer in his position of power? Will he look at himself for the person he is, and re-evaluate his relationship with God? He’s got a lot of explaining to do, and he’s got to start with himself.

White Crane #70 – Eric Riley – re:Sources

re:SOURCES
Charlatans & Chicanery

by Eric Riley

This was an extremely hard list for me to compile, because it seemed to overlap so tightly with the skepticism issue not too long ago.  So, I had to go for a bunch of titles that are brand new, many of which I’ve just stumbled across, and about which I have no firm opinion.  All that said, the first thing that immediately came to mind when thinking about “charlatans and chicanery” was televangelism.  How could anyone forget the amazing amount of scandals and breakdowns that plagued American television preachers in the 80’s and 90’s?  I remember vividly watching the very public breakdowns and crying for forgiveness for various sins; Jimmy Swaggart for sleeping with prostitutes or Jim Bakker for embezzling millions from unwitting PTL followers.  This all came as a shock to my grandmother, who is a very devout Southern Baptist, and who watched these programs for the longest time.  My aunt even bought the playboy magazine where they interviewed Jessica Hahn (there’s a name you probably thought you wouldn’t hear in White Crane), just to show my grandmother the whole dirty truth of the story.  Where am I going with this list?  To the land of believe in me and you shall find the way, only to be dragged through the mud. 

BOOKS

The Pharisees Amongst Us  Rod Brannum {BOOKSURGE}
I just found this book two weeks ago.  Though I’m a little put off by the excessive use of the word “Pharisees” as a catch-all term for hypocrites I get where the author is going.

The Profits of Religion  Upton Sinclair {PROMETHEUS}
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Jungle (1906) and The Goose-Step (1923) goes after “The Church of Good Society” “The Church of the Conquerors” “The Church of the Servant Girls” “The Church of the Quacks” and all the others, all but naming names, taking no prisoners and leaving a scorched Earth in his path.  A visionary Socialist, Sinclair was ahead of his time.  Sinclair’s critical analysis is an “Emperor has no clothes” must-read.

EX-Gay Research:
Analyzing the Spitzer Study And Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics & Culture

Jack Drescher, M.D., Kenneth J. Zucker, Ph.D {HARRINGTON PARK PRESS}
Another librarian friend pointed out this series from the Harrington Park Press.  These books are reprints of peer-reviewed journal articles from various Haworth Press publications.  Quality is impeccable, but reads like a journal article.

Faith Beyond Faith Healing: 
Finding Hope After Shattered Dreams

Kimberly Winston  {PARACLETE}

This book focuses on those people who still retain their faith in God after having a failed experience with Faith Healing (from many different traditions). Written by a newspaper journalist, kind of meanders in the reading and doesn’t draw any hard and fast conclusions. 

Prophetic Charisma:  The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
Len Oakes  {SYRACUSE}

What is chicanery if not a cult of personality?  This book looks at the psychological aspects of some of the biggest charismatic religious leaders, and how quickly we can go from revolutionary and inspiring to flat-out crazy and dangerous.

Red State, Blue State: Defending the Liberal Jesus and Blue State Morality from Red State Religion and Hypocrisy
John Grevstad   {IUNIVERSE}

The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right 
Michael Lerner  {HARPER}

These two titles go to my favorite pet peeve, and the main reason why I left Christianity in the first place.  Jesus in my mind was the most liberal, love everyone, feed everyone, social justice personality of all time, but every time I went to church (the Southern Baptist church of my family) all I got was hate and damnation for all these weird political issues.  Hopefully with these books and the burgeoning move for a “religious left” we can all start to at least talk about the things that don’t make sense.

Hitting Hard:  Michelangelo Signorile on George W. Bush, Mary Cheney, Gay Marriage, Tom Cruise, the Christian Right and Sexual Hypocrisy in America
Michelangelo Signorile {CARROLL & GRAF}

I think I’m the only queer person left who hasn’t read anything by Michelangelo Signorile.  But given that I’m on a political hiatus for my sanity I’ll chalk this one up to a future read.  This is a compilation of his previous articles on all sorts of topics.  If you’ve already read his regular work this may not be of interest to you.

DVD
The Eyes of Tammy Faye {UNIVERSAL}
I couldn’t resist putting in this bizarre documentary about the life of Tammy Faye Mesner (formerly Bakker).  I saw this in the theater when it came out in, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  If only for the sock puppet transitions you should see this movie. 

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are reader-supported and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Eric “Fritter” Riley lives in Washington, DC.  A professional librarian by trade and spirit, he is a contributing editor to White Crane.  re:Sources is a regular feature of White Crane.  You can reach him at eric@gaywisdom.org 

Change in Editors Leaves Gannon Behind

For over a year I’ve been on a personal media boycott against the Washington Blade, DC’s largest gay news weekly. Why? Because of executive editor Chris Crain’s continued, pigheaded printing of editorial commentator Jeff Gannon. Gannon, a former gay-escort-service-boy-turned-right-wing-political-sockpuppet has been spewing vitriolic, self-loathing, gay-baiting garbage all over the editorial pages of the Blade for over a year. His columns were so foul that I would always walk away from them with anger written all over me.

There were dozens of other reasons to hate the Blade, repeated transphobic comments among them. To me, however, seeing Jeff Gannon’s bald head in the paper made me want to vomit all over it and shove it back in the box. I couldn’t believe that a gay newspaper would print something so wrong, by someone so virulently opposed to the gay rights movements that he would actively work against it. It was like having Roy Cohn as a guest writer. 

Hundreds of people complained, and complained regularly.  But for whatever reason (maybe Crain liked hate mail?) Gannon continued to be printed.  The letters to the editor would pour in and Crain would say that they just couldn’t get anyone better.  In one editorial he even went so far to say that if he could sign on an ex-gay writer to the staff he would do so in a heartbeat.  It was more than gross irresponsibility, it was a full on assault upon the readers of the paper.

However, all of that is changing. Last Friday, September 15th, Chris Crain announced his departure from his executive editor position at the Blade. He seems to be moving on to the greener pastures of Rio de Janeiro with his partner. Good for him, and good for the Blade. Kevin Naff, formerly managing editor, will take his place. In an article published today on Media Bistro Kevin says that his first action will be to drop Jeff Gannon. Even better!

So for me, the boycott is over, and as of this week I’ll be picking up the Blade once more. Let’s hope that Kevin does more work to turn the paper around and up the quality of the editorial page.

Cheers!

Viva Pedro

Vivapedro Last night my boyfriend and I had the luck to notice that the Pedro Almodovar film "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" was playing at the AFI Silver Theater in Washington, D.C. (well, Silver Spring, Maryland, but it’s close enough). When we got there we saw that this was just the beginning of something much more exciting.

Viva Pedro is a retrospective re-release of eight classic films by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, all leading up to the U.S. release of his latest film "Volver" opening on November 3rd.

Almo1Selected theaters around the country will be showing these movies, and copies of the VHS and DVD’s have been pulled from store shelves until the series is over. The selections include: "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," "Talk to Her," "All About My Mother," "Live Flesh," "The Flower of My Secret," "Law of Desire," "Bad Education," and "Matador."

Now I hadn’t seen "Women on the Verge" in like 10 years, and it was a very different experience watching it on video then and seeing it in the theater now. For one, I was only 20 when I saw the film and being young and naive camp humor was pretty much lost on me. No longer! Oh my god, it was a RIOT in that theater! The credits alone had my gay heart singing with glee. But the scenes themselves were just beyond compare. Pepa setting Almo2_hfire to the bed and putting it out with the garden hose with the look of joy and hate in her eyes, the girlfriend who had a fling with terrorists and was running from the law, the psycho wife with two revolvers in her handbag, the closeup shots of high heel shoes walking on marble, doing voice dubs for Joan Crawford movies… I mean the list goes on and on and on. It was a great experience, and if you have the chance to go out and see one of these movies, please, do yourself a favor and go!