Archive for the ‘lesbian’ Tag

Love, Simon Hype

I so looked forward to seeing the movie Love, Simon, which we taped earlier in the week. I heard a great deal about how good it was from reviewers and friends that I expected too much. We are all familiar with that experience. The high expectations game that one rarely can win. After all, few things live up to our imaginings, particularly if we are a person who enjoys spending time in our heads. We have the most wicked imagination of all!

I saw the movie last night. While it kept my interest, the lead character did not excite me very much. Although not the precocious teen of Call Me By Your Name, which in some ways is a blessing, Simon seems bland. As bland as the surroundings of the movie, which felt like suburban anywhere America.

Accompanying the blandness is a lack of tension. The plot makes me not feel fearful for the character. It also places him in contact with few people who draw out much positive or negative energy from Simon.

The distance between my feelings after seeing the movie and the hype cause me to read reviews. Generally, the top critics give the movie a positive review. Some even hype of the fact that the movie “is the first gay romance from a mainstream studio.”

Perhaps. As some reviewers mentioned Love, Simon played like a John Hughes 1980s style rom com. While Hughes made his cotton candy, independent studios and studios from around the world began making gay romances. Beginning with Steven Fears’ My Beautiful Laundrette through the late 1980s Merchant and Ivory collaborations (Maurice), these movies challenged sexual norms. The best of them also situated the viewer firmly in a specific environment and included tensions based upon the ethnicity or class background of the characters. During the 1990s we visited the south for Fried Green Tomatoes, middle-class New York City in The Wedding Banquet and the British housing projects for Beautiful Thing.  A somewhat comprehensive list of movies featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual categories and interests appears here.

The reviews of Love, Simon that I found most insightful are included below. The first compares the movie with the book that gave it is origin. The book appears so much richer in character and sense of place. It also features more gay sensibilities. The movie hints at this with a comment between father and son that clues in the knowing viewer to the son traversing of the gay online world.

The second review challenges Hollywood liberal politics which it claims always safely return to the status quo regardless of where the movie takes the viewer. I found this reviews analysis of other movies featuring gay teens to be spot on. It reminded me how much I loved the movie Being 17 French film from 2016 that showed the tensions of being out, being gay, and having feelings that you don’t know how to handle. The violence between the boys is something that I I understood from my own experiences.

Armond White’s mentioning of the movie The DUFF  illuminated for me what remains similar in the romcom genre. Leah, Simon’s best friend, like so many other best friends of the leads in romcoms remains unattached. She is special as her description of her and Simon during the bedroom scene informs us. And many of us can relate to her, but why should she remain the only one of the group without a love interest?

Here’s hoping for more changes to romcoms!

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Battle of the Sexes Movie

It was great going with members of the Capital Tennis Association to see the movie Battle of the Sexes this Saturday evening. As a gay lesbian and bi group of tennis people, CTA members had multiple interests in the movie’s topics. We knew the people, could enjoy the sport and identify with the character’s same-sex interest. Many of the actors playing small roles, including Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming, gave the movie extra gay cache. Thanks to the social director and others in the group’s leadership for organizing the two showings.

Only a few of us were old enough to have experienced the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King when it originally occurred. Most of us recall the spectacle and our thrill over King’s victory, but I also recall the intensity of the Women’s Liberation movement and the backlash it faced from a wide-range of males in the U.S. at the time. King’s victory proved very important to the movement. The movie captures that spirit of the tennis match very well. It shows the way the professionals played the game in that era, with much serve and volley tactics, and illuminates just how much slower it seems the serves and ground strokes were, partially because of the wooden racquets and other equipment disadvantages.

The story is less successful in showing the strength of male chauvinism that existed at the time. We see the feeling embodied in Jack Kramer, who also represents the elitism of tennis that King battles against. However, he does not spout any of the highly vitriolic language and anger that came out of many male chauvinists. Intriguingly, Kramer was a key figure in the establishment of the “Open-era” of tennis which did democratize the sport to a significant degree.

Since it is a movie, it will need to combine events and things to fit into the short time span. Battle of the Sexes melds the founding of the Virginia Slims Tournament with the start of the Women’s Tennis Association which actually happened three years apart. It makes a point of showing that Kramer kicked the women who joined the WTA out of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. This supposedly denied the nine women of the WTA access to the Grand Slam Tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open). Such an action would have been a huge loss to the women and the sport yet the movie does not discuss it again. King and the others played in those Grand Slams so the denial seems to have not occurred.

At the conclusion, the movie provides a few lines of epilogue to show what happened to the characters afterwards. My husband and I stood agape as the closing did not mention Marilyn Barnett and her famous palimony suit against Billie Jean King in 1981. We mentioned this to the other group members and none of them had heard of the case and how much it cost Billie Jean King in endorsements. Palimony had roots in the famous Lee Marvin and Michelle Triola Marvin in 1977. Other cases include

  • Rock musician Peter Frampton was sued by Penelope J. “Penny” McCall in 1976. McCall asked for half of Frampton’s earnings during the five years that they were together. According to McCall, she gave up her job as a rock promoter and devoted herself full-time to Frampton, right at the time that he achieved superstar status. A New York judge ruled that Frampton and McCall never intended to marry each other and “never held themselves out to the public as husband and wife” and dismissed her complaint on the grounds that to act otherwise would condone adultery. The case set precedent in New York state.[8][9]
  • Tennis player Billie Jean King was sued by Marilyn Barnett in 1981.
  • Tennis player Martina Navratilova was sued by Judy Nelson in 1991.
  • In 1996, Van Cliburn was sued by former partner Thomas Zaremba for a share of his income and assets following a 17-year relationship ending in 1994. Zaremba’s palimony case was dismissed for lack of written agreement, along with claims for emotional distress and that Cliburn subjected him to the fear of AIDS through Cliburn’s alleged unprotected liaisons with third parties.[10][11]
  • In 2004, comedian Bill Maher was sued for US$9 million by his ex-girlfriend, Nancy “Coco” Johnson.[12][13][14] On May 2, 2005, a California Superior Court judge dismissed the case.[15][16][15]

The other omission was the relationship between King and Riggs after the match. After the Battle of the Sexes the two became friends and remained close until his death in 1995. King said she spoke to Riggs the day before he died, and they said “I love you” to each other.

For additional information see or see which cites Selena Roberts’ 2005 book, A Necessary Spectacle: Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, and the Tennis Match That Leveled the Game.

 

 

 

NBC, Olympics and Gays

NBC Sports Has A Gay Problem

What the what?

08/10/2016 02:09 pm ET

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This article by Cyd Zeigler originally appeared on Outsports.

It’s been apparent for years.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, stopping a Chinese sweep of diving gold on the final dive of the sport’s final event, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham’s partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.

When called on it, NBC first argued that the network doesn’t discuss sexual orientation (despite the historic nature of Mitcham’s win) then offered a terse two-sentence “apology.

Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. The network failed to identify Dustin Lance Black in the audience of the men’s synchro diving finals as bronze-medalist Tom Daley’s fiancé. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend… fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, the “it” couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn’t mention a word.

When NBC broadcast the match of Brazilian volleyball player Larissa França, they followed her to the stands where she embraced her wife. NBC commentator Chris Marlowe’s colorful commentary?

“That is her husband. She married Lili in 2013 and Larissa is celebrating with her pals.”

Her husband. You can’t write this shit. Yet NBC released no public apology, relying on a one-line statement from Marlowe.

At the U.S. Olympic diving trials, diver Jordan Windle was accompanied by his two dads.

“They wouldn’t say ‘Jordan’s dads’ during the finals of Olympic Trials,” Jerry Windle said. “They just said ‘parents.’ Then they wouldn’t show both Andre and I together like they showed other parents.”

Two years ago in Sochi, all of the NBC networks combined offered less than two hours of coverage of LGBT issues, including the new anti-gay law that had been implemented in Russia, during the 18 days of the Winter Olympics. There were mentions of the plight of Russian LGBT people during primetime coverage by NBC Sports, but according to HRC it diminished over time and was mostly pushed away from NBC Sports and onto MSNBC. According to HRC, during two of the Winter Olympic days ― 14 and 17 ― there was no coverage of the issue on any of NBC’s networks.

To be clear, this all goes well beyond the Olympics.

For the last few years NBC Sports has employed an avowed proud homophobe, Tony Dungy, as one of its lead NFL commentators. Dungy has raised money to oppose equality for gay people, has said he “disagrees” with Jason Collins being gay and, in a fit of hypocrisy, said he would not want openly gay NFL player Michael Sam on his team.

Of course the network also employs openly gay commentator Johnny Weir. It’s the one possible on-air feather in the network’s cap. Though Weir’s dress and manner leave some reducing him to the role of clown, it’s a role he welcomes and plays well while also offering some great figure skating commentary. His antics (while I appreciate them) leave many gay people wishing for less.

Still, it’s impossible to make the case that NBC Sports is sensitive to LGBT issues. While NBC has started NBC Out and has a robust NBC-Universal LGBT employee network, that is desperately lost on the coverage NBC provides sports.

While Dungy’s continued employment on NBC Sports’ cornerstone program is a slap in the face of the entire LGBT community, the subpar job the network has demonstrated covering LGBT athletes and issues at the Olympics over the years is downright inexcusable.

There are plenty of opportunities for NBC to recover. Ten days of LGBTI athletes competing and winning lie ahead. Will the network acknowledge their presence? Simply demonstrate the common courtesy to these athletes they show their straight counterparts?

Frankly, I doubt it. Their failure to properly address the Mitcham snub eight years ago, followed by transgression after transgression, shows very clearly that NBC Sports couldn’t care less about gay athletes or gay fans. Maybe ESPN can get in the running to broadcast future Olympics.

For more from OutSports, check out these stories:

Seattle Mariners tell lesbian couple to stop ‘being affectionate’

The first Olympic marriage proposal in Rio is between a rugby player and her girlfriend

Male Olympic gymnasts want to compete shirtless

Also on HuffPost

29 Truly Remarkable Olympic Photos

It Gets Better

The federal government agency I work for created an It Gets Better video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKia_M9Nj0Y

Fashion Today and Yesterday

Visited Fashion Institute of Technology to see the new exhibit, A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk. This show is really enjoyable and worth seeing. Many people don’t know that they have a lot of museum space in the school and they frequently put together challenging shows.

The key element to this exhibit is the understanding that sexuality had an important role in the creativity of many of fashions biggest names. From Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, gay men had an outsized role as fashion designers in the twentieth century. Rather than falling into an essentialist trap of saying that because the men were gay they had some kind of sensitivity to women, the arguments the show makes fit with the argument I made about fashion designers in Hollywood in my book, Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream, that the fashion world provided a location where gay men could be comfortable at work and were often surrounded by other gay men in the field and worked with women who were comfortable with these mens’ sexuality. Of course, that was sometimes because these actresses, such as Marlene Dietrich, were both bisexual themselves but were also interested in pushing the boundaries of fashion.

Marlene Dietrich pushing fashion boundaries

I thought the exhibit could have focused more on the role of fashion designers in the movie industry. In Hollywood Bohemians, I note that Warner Brothers main designer in the 1930s Orry Kelly was a gay man and a good friend of Cary Grant.Orry Kelly

There were many others in the ranks, so many that novels and movies about the industry featured gay males as fashion directors. Below, the actor Curt Bois plays a gay fashion designer in Hollywood Hotel from 193

Fashion Designer in Hollywood Hotel

The show has fascinating looks at the clothes worn by Mollies in the 1700s while working in taverns in England and by Dandies who adopted the style of Aesthetic dress that Oscar Wilde advocated in the late 1800s.

More recent vogue includes a whole section on the styles of men who died of AIDS, the out there works of Jean Paul Gaultier and the high-fashion looks of Gianni Versace, drawing on queer sub-cultural styles like leather and uniforms. The other major sub-cultural contributor to fashion is of course, drag. Clothes include an outfit worn by the most famous of all drag queens, Ru Paul.

Pride Month: Taboo Issue: Sports and Gays

Many of you know the Jason Collins revelation about his sexuality. Some many have even heard about former NFL lineman  Kwame Harris’s revelation. You didn’t? Well, it came out the way lots of homosexuals used to come out in the early and middle decades of the 20th century — through a police report.

I talked about that here in my blog. In this month’s issue of ESPN- The Magazine, Harris is interviewed. His interesting story appears here.

Baylor is not a place to be flaming. Nor is it an easy place to wear butch outfits and date women.  Yet, the best female college basketball player in the country played there over the last several years. Now, she’s in the WNBA and Brittney is out. Here’s her interesting coming out story.

Sports columnist LZ Granderson has the most intriguing article about our gossip-obsessed media. He wonders why we hear about all the athletes and their sexual lives but there is no discussion of an athlete’s gay sexuality. Rumors are rarely raised about a professional athlete who might be gay although he mentions in the article Phoenix Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes who has had rumors and made a denial. Granderson does forget the big hoopla over former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza from the early 2000s and the issue of whether he was gay. His overall point is accurate that until we treat all sexuality the same, the culture is not as secure and as understanding as they think they are.

The culture is also not as secure and understanding about gay/lesbian sexuality if it is still a risk for people, particularly men, working in the entertainment industries to come out while in the midst of their careers. Even if they would be accepted and remain viable stars and idols, these men currently feel like they would receive that response from the audiences.

Discovering Through Crime

The story of a former National Football League offensive lineman assaulting his boyfriend caught my eye. As a huge sports fan and gay man, it is always interesting when someone who played at the highest level turns out to be gay. Even after retiring, most former players do not make their sexuality public, even if they self-identify as gay.

As a historian of sexuality I know that criminal proceedings are one of the significant tools that help us find homosexuals and lesbians in the past. Either people were put on trial for their sexual choices, caught in a sting operation, or because they had a fight with their lover, the veil is lifted from who they love or have loved in the past.

It’s terrible that the two men got into a fight and that assault occurred. But it is an interesting window into professional sports and into gay relations.

 

Outrage: Documentary Few Saw

Outrage: the actions of closeted homosexual, gay, bisexual and lesbian politicians who vote against any legislation that advances the rights and offers benefits to gay people, including gay marriage, benefits, equal protection under the law, gays in the military.

Outrage: closeted homosexual, and out gay, bisexual and lesbian politicians political operatives who run political campaigns that demonize homosexuality and strike fear into people in order to have their candidates win elections.

Outrage: the energy that motivates certain reporters and bloggers to report on the closeted political figures who are hypocritical because they demonize gay and lesbian people.

Outrage: what viewers might feel as they watch the movie Outrage

http://youtu.be/NaTsmXaw5NQ

The argument is that these repressed people with homosexual desires attack the gay, lesbian community more in order to be seen as not gay or lesbian. There is some validity to this, especially for people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. The outing is a fight back method to force these politicians to end their hypocricy. The belief is that if everyone comes out then it will be harder for people to be anti-gay/lesbian.

There are interesting questions about the psychology of these politicians and political operatives but also about the people who marry them and what there lives must be like being with someone who is leading a double life.

What works less successfully are:

The movie does not address the page scandal that rocked Congress in the early 1980s, virtually forcing Congressman Gerry Stubbs to come out. Nor does it discuss Congressman Bob Bauman and his arrest for attempting to solicit sex from a male prostitute. These would have been interesting to establish context and to discusds how difficult it is for some people to come out.

whether being a Republican means more as an identity to these politicians and political operatives than being gay or lesbian. One could argue that the politicians are being hypocritical but also are Republicians who believe in most of the party’s creed. They care less about their gay identity, if they even have such an identity.

whether the politicians can vote against these laws because they view the laws as having no effect on their daily lives as opposed to the effect that coming out would have on their lives.

Actors Carry Beginners

Last night, Washington D.C.’s Reel Affirmations group held a screening of the new Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer movie Beginners. A great turnout filled the entire theater and everyone walked away pleased.

McGregor and Plummer played to their strengths giving emotion and depth to their parts.

Most striking was French actress Melanie Laurent. She is both breathtaking and moving as a woman who has similar relationships troubles to McGregor’s cahracter.

The movie is based on the life of its director. I respect the ability to make a somewhat compelling movie of a personal story, and thought it had an intriguing theme of how people attempt to cover their feelings, and personal situations.

There were things about the movie that did not work for me.

The script had too many montages of images from a particular year or decade, that combined with McGregor’s narration, created didactic moments.

We can understand each of the characters sadness, but combined with the relatively good life they are leading, their moping around made you wonder what these people would be like if they didn’t have cars, a nice home, friends who cared about them, good jobs, food to eat.

The comedy came from one of my favorite sources, the pet.

Why does the dog think and why does he whine whenever McGregor’s character leaves?

Gervais at the Golden Globes

I don’t watch The Office. Nor am I a big fan of awards shows but I thought Ricky Gervais was very funny at the Golden Globes.

Clearly, he has an irreverent attitude toward Hollywood. He is not fawning and he is not particularly respectful. The Washington Post’s Hank Steuver complained that Gervais told lame jokes. His Scientology joke about the sexual orientation of two actors was spot on as the Brits would say, particularly since people I know have first hand experience with one of those actors. I and others are over these actors hiding their behaviors!!!

Another informal reviewer like myself agrees.

The article says Robert Downey Jr. summed up the attitude so well. Give me a break. Downey’s introduction of the five nominees in the category of best actress by saying that they would have given better performances if they slept with him was Creepy. Oh, the women laughed–except for the much younger Emma Stone, who probably felt the same creepiness that this smarmy man indulged in the old-time male heterosexual pig behavior of viewing her as his sexual play toy that I did.

The Post reviewer agrees Downey’s view of Hollywood. Please let us go on and on about our indulgences. If you dare make biting remarks about us or call us on our indulgences then we’ll snarl at you.

Bruce Willis effectively responded to a funny Gervais. Gervais referred to the actor as Ashton Kutcher’s Dad. Humorous given the Demi Moore tie in. Willis said,”Sometimes Hollywood does provide you with outrageous fortune.”

My respect for Willis shot up immensely. He acknowledged the humor and showed that he knows the world in which he works. In addition, he slyly commented on another part of that world, having to attend award ceremonies and accept jokes about one self!

The Post also included a Hank Steuver review of a teenage television show that is airing on MTV. Whether I agree with the review or not, I think having two articles by the same person in the same section of the newspaper is both too much and lazy on the part of the newspaper and its editorial staff.  This Washington metropolitan area must have many other individuals qualified to write about entertainment that could have written one of these articles, no? Particularly since the review is a teen show and the reviewer admits that his teen years came in the era of the late John Hughes.