Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Altar-ing Reality

Dear Homo,

I've got something that has been pestering me this week. Before I tell you what, please, please know that I FULLY support equal rights and marriage for all. (I would love to see you get your happily ever after, honey.) Keep this in mind! Now, it was in various articles this week how Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, like Brangelina, are saying we won't wed til everyone can. I get it. I totally respect that they are showing their support publicly for an important issue in a way they see fit. But the bitchy cynic in me is saying, "Really? Do they think the baboons out there will say, 'Oh crap, we better change legislation ASAP so these actors can get married and be featured on People Magazine!'"

I want to know your thoughts.

--Just Curious (but not curious in a winkwink sort of way)

Dear Curious,

Homo thanks you for your queery and must (again) point out that our mail bag has been empty for over a year now, making Homo wonder if you are the ONLY curious person -- sexually or otherwise -- left in the universe. In any case, on to the question at hand:

Can celebrity couples like Brangelina and Krax influence the masses with regard to the issue of marriage equality by postponing their own nuptials until said equality is achieved?

The answer is simple: Of course not. And absolutely.

(We homos do love our paradoxes, don't we?)

Look: Celebrities have been spouting off about one thing or another for as long as anyone can remember. Charles Lindbergh tried to keep America out of World War II. Actor Ronald Reagan worked to bolster unions (unlike President Ronald Reagan, who worked to destroy them). "Hanoi Jane" Fonda infamously posed with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft missile to protest the war in 1972 (although she was FABULOUS in "On Golden Pond"). Charlton Heston loved guns the way John Travolta loves massages. And of course, we all know how Clint Eastwood feels about chairs.

Personally, I would have rather seen him with Cher.

The most common response to such star statements, especially in these jaded cynical times, is: "Who cares?" Ask the average person on the street -- gay, straight, liberal, conservative or Scientologist -- and he'll tell you that celebrity endorsements matter not one whit. For either he already shares the celebrity's opinion, or, if he doesn't, he claims that there's no way in hell some dumb actor can sway his deeply felt convictions.

And that's the truth, in a literal, short-term way. Or, to answer your question directly, No. No Bible-thumping homophobe in Kansas is going to suddenly find herself marching for marriage equality because she simply must see photos of Dax and Kristen at the altar.

And yet: There is a larger, more subtle impact when famous people take these kinds of political stands. It highlights the issue. It furthers the conversation. It forces Americans to do the one thing they hate doing: THINK. And that's the first step toward equality.

Moreover, a shocking number of people still find the notion of two men or two women together inherently icky. It's not the gay wedding so much that bothers them, but imagining the honeymoon that comes afterwards. So whenever unspeakably sexy straight celebs like Brad, Angelina, Dax or Kristen speak up for gay marriage, an important psychosexual shift occurs. In layman's terms, if I want to bone Angelina, and Angelina doesn't have a problem with the idea of a dude boning another dude, then maybe I don't have a problem with the idea of a dude boning another dude.

If that sounds stupid to you, remind yourself that 17 percent of registered voters believe President Obama is a Muslim. We are not a nation of intellectuals.

On a final note, although I applaud the courageous stand taken by Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, I would like to strongly voice my opposition to their marriage. There's only one person Dax Shepard should marry.


I'll make him forget Sarah Marshall.
Get me to the church on time,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bear Hunting

Dear Homo:

The bear movement is rising! From one homo with a bad gaydar  to another homo with probably an awesome gaydar, NOW how do we spot the homo in a room????  Help a brother out.

Bearbacked Mountain

Dear BBM:

First, sincere thanks. Much like a bear in the wintertime, Homo has been hibernating for sometime now -- mostly because nobody has asked him a question in over a year. But as you have reached out to Homo in your time of need, he'll do his best to offer you sincere and wise counsel.

First, I must take issue with your syntax. One doesn't have a gaydar. Gaydar is one of those nouns that cannot be quantified, such as "balance" or "crabs." One simply has these things or doesn't. As for your assumption that my gaydar is "awesome," I confess I am somewhat flattered. In truth I'd give mine a B+ a best. After all, I spent nearly two years in my college fraternity before discovering that the hottest, most muscular brother in the place was a fellow 'mo... and that was only after I haphazardly bumped into him at a gay bar in Saugatuck, Michigan. But this is a story for another time.

Now to the issue at hand: If I'm understanding you correctly, what you're asking is, with so many gay men adopting the "bear" look -- natural body type, facial hair, comfortable clothing, a refusal to pluck, shave, wax or depilate -- how does one differentiate such creatures from straight men, for whom such practices have long been the norm?

Straight or gay? Who can say?

Curiously, I dealt with a similar theme in an entirely different way after a straight, female reader wrote in to bemoan the "fact" that straight men don't take care of their abs the way gay guys do. I gently corrected said reader, informing her that although there were once fairly easy ways for Friends of Dorothy to spot one another, much like Dr. Suess's star-bellied Sneetches, the times, they have a-changed. Not only has the bear movement, as you call it, taken off, along with that of numerous other gay sub-species, but straight men have adopted many traditionally gay lifestyle and grooming habits. Everything about Ryan Secrest, for example, simply screams power-bottom, and yet we know from his hot and heavy, absolutely non-fabricated relationships with such lovely ladies as Teri Hatcher and Julianne Hough that he is 100 percent hetero.

So to paraphrase your question, how, indeed, do we spot the pink elephant in the room?

The sad truth is, we can't. At least not all the time. But there are some clues to watch for, chief among them being eye contact. Yes, eye-contact. Good old-fashioned, low-tech, ageless, universal eye contact.

Simply stated, straight guys tend not to look at one another unless it's absolutely necessary. I know this from extensive experience and experimentation. I once stared at a straight guy for over two hours non-stop in an airport terminal from five feet away... and he did not look up from his Wall Street Journal a single time. Not even to check me out to decide whether or not he was interested.

THAT'S a straight guy.

But gay guys will look... and look... and look again. And it doesn't matter if we're bears or twinks or drag queens or Republican senators. If a guy is checking us out, we'll check right back.

And if you're still not sure, strike up a conversation. If he's bright, polite, articulate and has a good sense of humor, chances are he's gay.

Don't shit in the woods,

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Two Granddads

Dear Homo,

My cousin John has been with his partner, Larry, for close to 20 years and helped raise Larry's children.  They had a commitment ceremony 15 years ago and have filled out as many documents as possible to recognize their status as a couple, but unfortunately they live in a state that doesn't legally recognize them as married.  John and Larry had primary custody of the children, and the kids grew up with John as their second Dad.  Larry's ex-wife even liked John, and he was listed as the kid's guardian should anything ever happen to Larry and the Mom.  The kids are grown now, and two of the daughters are expecting babies.  These will be the first grandchildren. 

I was thinking about getting the babies a gift that might be kind of cute and recognize John and Larry's status, such as a onesie that reads, "I love My Grandpas," or something along those lines.  At first I was going to write and see if you had any recommendations for what I might be able to get them and where to look for such an item, but then I started to second-guess myself.  Given the struggles of so many to get their relationships recognized as equal to straight couples, is it appropriate for me to send something that identifies them as different?  I think there might be some fun items out there, and I believe my cousin would take it as such, but the fact that I'm questioning my decision led me to ask for an outside opinion. 

Any thoughts?


Gift Giver

P.S.  Love the blog!

Dear GG, 

I must first point out that through no fault of your own, you have chosen perhaps the worst moniker possible -- "Gift Giver" -- for a gay-centric blog.  I'll spare you the hideous urban dictionary definition behind that term; if you're so inclined, you may look it up on your own. But be forewarned: It ain't pretty.

Ironically, though, the very shocking nature of "gift-giving" as it's defined in gay culture dovetails nicely with what will be the central theme of my reply to you, which is this: Is a "gay grandpas" T-shirt an appropriate gift? Honey, when it comes to the gays, there is no such thing as an inappropriate gift. Or, to put it another way, it is not possible to offend gay people.

Wait -- let me clarify that: It is not possible for gay people to be offended by the people who love and respect us, which you clearly do in spades. The people who hate us? Like Mexican singer Paquita la del Barrio, who told a magazine last week that she would rather her child die than be adopted by gay people? Yeah, she offends us. But you, sweet GG, you couldn't offend your cousin and his partner if you tried.

Gay people have lived as outsiders for so many centuries now that we have developed a keen sense of the absurd. As a community, we love to laugh at ourselves, and we are virtually unshockable. This makes gift-buying for us one the easiest and most delightful chores in the world. If you don't believe me, attend a gay or lesbian birthday party sometime and watch closely as the dildos, sexy underwear, campy DVDs and Cher dolls are unwrapped.

Now: As for the perfect gift for the grandbabies? That depends more on John and Larry's particular taste and style than on any socio-political considerations. Personally, I think the "I Love My Grandpas" onesie is an adorable choice. But you know these guys. What do you think they would give their own grandkids as a gift? Go with your instincts, and I'm sure whatever you get will be a hit.

Or, to bottom-line all of this for you: Any gift given with love is an appropriate and wonderful gift. And I think John and Larry and their growing family are lucky to count you as a friend.

I hope this helps.

Remember to Wrap It Up,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Ain't Sayin' She's a Gold-Digger...

Dear Homo,

I am a serial blind dater and constantly having first and second dates that don't lead to anything. Last night I had a first date with someone who was more appealing than most of the men I've met recently - he seemed very sweet, educated and though he is far from a hottie, I didn't mind his looks. However, he doesn't have a job. He has been without a regular job for over a year, and from what I can tell, the sorts of jobs he pursues are very low-paying. 

Though I am trying not to let it bother me, it sort of does, and I can't help but wonder if I should not date him again because of his lack of employment. Is that superficial?

Show Me The Money

Dear SMTM,

First, I think it's important that my readers know your gender, as it has some bearing on my advice to you. Though you don't mention it, I surmise by your email address that you are a woman.

(Incidentally, dear readers, I implore you: Please make it clear in your queries whether you are male, female, trans, gay, straight, bi, pan-fried, seared or vegan. Homo believes all people are created equal, but that doesn't necessarily mean their predicaments are.)

OK; so should you date this dead-beat? My answer is: Maybe.

SMTM, the real question here is not what kind of job he has, but what kind of goals. If you follow the news, you know that a whole lot of extremely talented, hard-working, ambitious people are out of a job right now -- about one in 10 Americans, actually. A far greater number are working at vocations beneath their skill sets and contrary to their desires. Times are tough.

So maybe your blind date lacks the drive and personal resources to land a good gig, or maybe he's just unlucky. Or maybe he is so passionate about his hobbies -- gardening, volley ball, cunnilingus -- that he simply lacks the time necessary to fully commit to a career.

Or maybe he's just a dead-beat.

It would be worth finding out. Because if you're anything like me, SMTM, you don't really care how much money a person makes or what kind of job he has, but rather that he does SOMETHING. And does it well. Human beings are attracted to achievement -- period. How else can you explain the tens of millions currently watching Apolo Anton Ohno circle endlessly around a rink?  (Of course, Homo wishes Apolo would circle endlessly around Homo's bed wearing nothing but skates and a smile. But Homo is getting himself needlessly worked up.)

But then again, you're not really like me, SMTM. You're a woman, and a straight one at that. So in addition to feeling the natural desire for a high achiever, you've also got that "searching for a provider" gene inherent in so many straight women -- even highly successful, wealthy women. It is often -- but not always -- different for us gay guys. We value other things more than one's ability to provide. Such as one's enormous penis.

To that end, I am less concerned about the whole job issue than I am about your saying: "I didn't mind his looks." Wow. Try applying that sentiment to any other aspect of a potential mate -- "I didn't mind his breath..." "I didn't mind his voice..." "I didn't mind his backne..." -- and you'll begin to see the problem.

Of course, a guy's physical attractiveness can change as you get to know him, just as his apparent earning potential can. And given that you did find him "more appealing" than your other recent dates, I would allow the guy one more try. But if afterwards you're even less enchanted than you were before, it'll be time to kick this loser to the curb.

I hope this helps.

No Scrubs,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Belly Aching

Dear Homo,

As straight women, my friends and I often lament that while gay men keep their abs in decent shape, not nearly as many hetero guys seem to feel that need. Why is that? And is there anything that can be done about the situation?

Craving a Six-Pack

Dear CASP,

I hate to keep referencing "Sex and the City" lest I be regarded as a one-trick homo. But just as Muslims turn to the Koran, Jews turn to the Torah, and Christians turn to country music, Homo turns to SATC for wisdom, guidance and inspiration -- and finds it once again.

Case in point, Season Four's "All That Glitters," in which Carrie and the girls spend a night out a fictional gay club called Trade. Ogling all the hot male flesh around them, Miranda essentially asks the same question as yours: "Why don't straight men have bodies like this?"

To which Carrie replies: "Because gay men have the possibility of sex at the gym. If straight men had that, they'd be working out all the time, too."

Carrie's right, of course, but that's only part of the equation.

First, allow me to set you straight, so to speak, on one point: Not all gay men have great abs. Indeed, gay men come in all different shapes and sizes. In fact there's an entire sub-community of gay men -- the bears -- who like keeping their bellies full and natural looking. And it is, after all, natural for a man's belly to expand over time, just as natural breasts on a woman (and not a few men) will eventually sag.

But I do think we're safe in assuming that the average gay man is more body-conscious than the average straight man. There are myriad sociological, psychological and sexological reasons for this, but I'll save time and break it down to basics:

1) Men -- all men -- are visually oriented and tend to objectify whatever it is that turns us on. Hence the intense historical pressure on women to stay thin and beautiful.

2) Gay men are particularly concerned with aesthetics and like to surround ourselves with beauty and perfection. See Buonarroti, Michelangelo and Mackie, Bob.

3) Gay men are less likely to have spouses and children than straight men and thus have more free time to work out.

But times, CASP, they are a changin'. Historically, our bodies were one way we gay guys could easily spot one another, much as Dr. Seuss's Star-Belly Sneetches could distinguish themselves from their Plain-Belly brethren. Then, nearly 20 years ago, everything shifted.

In 1991, a gay designer named Calvin Klein teamed up with a straight rapper-turned-model named Marky Mark in a pair of white boxer-briefs. Suddenly, the male body, in all its muscular glory, was objectified before a mass market. Straight women worldwide proclaimed, "That's what I want!" Straight men worldwide proclaimed, "I better hit the gym!" Gay men worldwide suddenly developed a taste for rap music. And lesbians worldwide played golf.

Since then, a cultural movement has occurred in which hordes of straight men have become increasingly concerned with their appearance. For a time such men were labeled, rather pejoratively, as "metrosexual." Now they're pretty much mainstream. (Witness, for example, the phenomenon that is "Jersey Shore," with its overly coiffed, frighteningly tanned, juiced-up specimens of manhood. One can practically smell the mixture of hair gel and cologne wafting through one's television set.)

All of which is to say, CASP, that it shouldn't be too hard for you and your female cohorts to find straight guys with killer abs nowadays. Vanity and body obsession, it seems, are not just for women and gays anymore. The question you may have to ask yourselves, though, is whether or not that's a good thing.

Doing Crunches as We Speak,

Stage Fright

Hi Homo-ey,

I'm a gay man working in the theater world, in a position of some influence. Over the last couple of years, a theater producer I'd never met -- but we knew each other by reputation -- would put vaguely flirty posts on my Facebook wall. Then, two months ago, I was attending a show that he produced, and he cornered me during intermission and was quite chatty. It was clear that he was flirting with me -- he kept touching my arms, even my chest, and made one flattering remark about my body. I eventually shook his hand and said goodnight. 

The next day he hit me up by email and basically asked me out to dinner/drinks/coffee. I wasn't interested in him romantically, but I also didn't want to create any awkwardness between us, because I might well need to work with him in the future. I basically replied that I was very busy and didn't have time to get together in the near future, and that I hoped he was well. 

Then, this weekend, out of the blue, he emailed me again, proposing dinner/drinks/coffee. I'm not sure what to do. How direct should I be in expressing a lack of interest, given that we move in the same professional circles? Or should I get off my high horse and just go to dinner with him and try to make it clear that this is a friendly/working relationship? I have a feeling the latter move might lead him on. I don't know. Help!

Broadway Baby

Dear BB,

Your query calls to mind some of my all-time favorite Broadway musicals. While your hapless hoofer keeps huffing, "God, I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line, you're playing South Pacific's Nellie Forbush, stuck in a perpetual loop of, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair." While he's crooning West Side Story's "Something's Coming," you're belting out, "Good Night and Thank You" from Evita. While he's suggesting "Let's Misbehave" from Anything Goes, you're all "Please Don't Touch Me" from Young Frankenstein.

Having thereby established my own Broadway credentials, I hereby instruct you to lower the curtain on this production. And do it now...  before the second act.

Look, it sounds like you've been both pleasant and professional with this guy -- letting him know, in the nicest way possible, that your interest in him is strictly platonic. Yet he's been downright creepy, unduly persistent and utterly invasive of your personal space. (Touching your arms and chest? AT A BROADWAY SHOW?! That's almost as tacky as the use of recording devices while Patti LuPone is shrieking.)

Homo gets that your professional proximity to this person makes your position precarious. And as Noël Coward once said, "It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit." But honest you must be.

My repsonse to your producer-in-heat's latest entreaty would be: "I'd love to get drinks with you sometime as friends. But just so there's no misunderstanding, I'm not interested in dating you." Such a reply may seem blunt or even cold, but if my instincts are right, he's the kind of guy who needs a sandbag to fall on his head in order to get the picture.

By the way: Don't be surprised if he comes back with something along the lines of, "Well, of course! I wasn't suggesting we'd be anything other than friends!" That's typical face-saving bullshit. All you have to do is say: 

"OK, I just wanted to be sure, given that we work in the same business. My apologies if I was presumptuous." You can thus play the fool and let him think he's gotten the upper hand. Homo knows otherwise,  and so do you.

I hope this helps.

Remember to Silence Your Cell Phones,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coin Slut

Dear Homo,

My teenage son works as a busboy, cashier, counter help and dishwasher in a very busy and successful deli in a very upscale suburban community. There are a number of tip jars on the counters, and with the many young teens working there, the patrons are very generous with the tips. The owner, however, dumps the tips right back into the register. 

Not only has this deception made me cynical about all tip jars, I have mixed feelings about my son working there. Otherwise, they are pretty nice to my son, giving him left-over baked goods and breads. I hate to miss their delicious muffins. Some advice?

A Penny for Your Thoughts


Homo is rather surprised that his readers seem to be preoccupied with tip-related issues, this being the second such query in as many weeks. Homo also wonders why Homo has taken to addressing himself in the third person. But Homo digresses.

My previously stated thoughts about the importance of tipping notwithstanding, I am dubious to the point of distress regarding the tip jar trend that has swept our nation over the last decade. It seems these days that you can't shake a dick... er, stick... without knocking over a tip jar. They are simply everywhere -- at the corner deli, at your neighborhood Starbucks, on the desk of your orthodontist's secretary -- I mean everywhere!

When it comes to tips, call me old-fashioned. (Just don't call me old.) I believe that except at Christmastime, the only workers one is required to tip are waiters, bartenders, car-parkers, drivers, delivery men, piano men, hair-cutters and hookers. These are people who perform important and difficult tasks that make our lives happier. And, with the exception of hookers, they all earn little or no wages for their efforts. For instance, the national minimum wage is $8.56 an hour. But employers are only required to pay waitstaff $5.69 an hour. Your tips make up the rest, and these folks couldn't survive without them.

Starbucks employees, on the other hand, make at least minimum wage, and many of them get health benefits as well. Homo has to pay for his own health benefits, so he sure as hell needs that quarter more than the barrista who prepared his caramel machiato.

So your cynicism is well founded, APFYT. Use your discretion when it comes to the ubiquitous tip jar.

As to your larger question about whether your son should continue working for a man who keeps tips intended for his employees: He should not. It takes a special kind of shithead to steal spare change from hard-working teens who are presumably trying to save for their future. And in my experience, such an ethical failing is only the tip of the shithead. Do you really want to teach your children to tolerate such behavior?

If I were you, I'd march right in there and tell this Scrooge that your son can no longer work for him unless he immediately stops robbing his employees of the tips they've earned. Better yet, have your son do it himself. It will be a tremendous life lesson about the importance of confronting injustice. And though he'll probably be fired over it, your son will find another place to work, and you'll manage to survive without those nasty day-old muffins.

I hope this helps.

Caroline or Change,