To subject oneself to a mainstream gay film is like consenting to have one’s bare thighs thrashed with a switch. Paralyzed by an unearned seriousness, these movies flaunt their sexual timidity and aesthetic lethargy. They assume audiences are more conservative than they have a reason to suspect. Remember Love, Simon (2018)? As cute as a twink, about as shallow as a bar napkin. A newly released Netflix-produced film is the latest test case. I Am Jonas has the air of being rather proud of its mild ambitions. Christophe Charrier’s French queer film cuts between the past and present with a didact’s touch. It wants to show how adolescent sins require forgiveness two decades later. But films like this often miss an essential point: to understand the impact of the sin, audiences must see how the temptations work. I Am Jonas is besotted with the stick before it’s barely tasted the carrot. Continue reading
A member of a generation of poets whose early styles metamorphosed into a gnarled stoicism suspicious of gesture, Thom Gunn emigrated from England to write some of the late twentieth century’s intensest love poems; those stylistic involutions matched his acceptance of himself as a poet who could write about his homosexuality. The Man with the Night Sweats remains a benchmark of plague year lit: a collection of eulogies for men whose names only Gunn knew writhing on hospital beds unvisited and unloved. It has offered comfort in the last week. Farrar, Straus and Giroux published New Selected Poems last year. Below is the title poem from the aforementioned 1992 book. Continue reading
Loyal readers know I’ve said little about the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. News of his withdrawal raises hopes he’ll run for governor in Mike Pence and Joe Donnelly’s state, not to mention Barack Obama’s in 2008. I have the mildest affection for an openly gay man who made it this far and endure Rush Limbaugh’s bullshit. Continue reading
In news that will surprise not a soul, allies of the president will attack Pete Buttigieg for his sexuality.
Allies of President Trump have sharply focused attention on the sexual identity of presidential contender Pete Buttigieg in recent days, questioning in stark terms whether Americans are ready for a gay candidate who kisses his husband onstage.
The attacks are prompting blunt responses from Buttigieg’s allies and even his Democratic rivals, who call the remarks inappropriate and offensive. The exchanges were ignited by radio host Rush Limbaugh, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump last week and who framed his comments as an ostensible analysis of how Democrats feel.
“They’re sitting there and they’re looking at Mayor Pete — a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage. And they’re saying, okay, how’s this going to look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump? What’s going to happen there?” Limbaugh said. (Buttigieg is 38.)
These comments offended a writer at The Federalist, and he responded in the high-minded manner commensurate with its title.
Meanwhile, Limbaugh’s comments quickly reverberated around right-wing circles; the Federalist, a conservative magazine, defended them as “not homophobic,” saying he was simply asking, albeit in an “uncouth” way, how voters would respond to a gay candidate.
Fortunately, Sebastian Gorka also kept the discussion courteous.
“Why is a homosexual man lecturing us about the sanctity of life in the womb? Just a little curious there. Strange, strange,” Gorka said. “I thought you’re supposed to stay in your lane as a leftist. You can’t comment on the lived experience of the other.”
Ah. Religious freedom. Freedom to keep presidential candidates from performing sodomy or, gasp, marry.
I hope the Buttigieg campaign understands what’s coming its way.
In the films she’s directed (Girlhood, Tomboy) and written with others (André Téchiné’s marvelous Being 17), Céline Sciamma has shown a fascination with the spaces that queer people can populate without the help of the larger world, thank you. As rigorous in its eroticism as its mise-en-scène, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is her most austere, most satisfying film. As Pauline Kael wrote about The Heiress, another period drama, it will have you drawing breaths.
An excellent example local reporting that has gotten little national attention, Orlando Sentinel published an examination of LGBT discrimination at Christian schools whose students receive taxpayer-funded vouchers. “That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome,” Leslie Postal and Annie Martin dryly note.
The Sentinel found 83 schools that refuse to admit LGBTQ students or could expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered. Some also refuse to educate students whose parents are gay or to hire staff who are gay.
Another 73 schools call being gay or transgender a biblical sin but do not explain how those views play out in admissions or student discipline decisions.
Some of the private schools depend on the vouchers to cover tuition for nearly all their students.
At Worshipers’ House of Prayer Academy in Miami, for example, at least 112 of 130 students got a scholarship last year. The school’s website says it has “zero tolerance” for “homosexual activity” because God calls it “an abomination.”
As the Sentinel reported in its 2017 “Schools Without Rules” series, the private schools that take Florida scholarships operate largely free of state oversight, setting their own standards for teacher credentials, facilities and curriculum, which can fall short of the requirements the state imposes on its public schools.
The schools are also able to set their own admission standards, which could include rules about sexual orientation and gender identity as well as demands for church attendance and certain academic benchmarks, such as satisfactory test scores and good grades.
In the same week that the Supreme Court heard the Montana tax break case , I shudder at the likelihood John Roberts and His Furious Five will affirm a state’s right to pay for private educations using public funds, and the private school administrators have already set themselves up as victims pleading for Fourteenth Amendment protections; they should have the liberty to discriminate against LGBT students, they argue, despite accepting my tax dollars.
These developments represent a triumph for former governor Jeb Bush, whose laughable 2016 campaign for president has wiped the collective memory of his effort to privatize education in Florida — the state with the prettiest name!
Impeachment will show the extent to which Donald Trump committed crimes for personal benefit, but the administration’s posture toward transgender people is garden variety GOP loathing that Presidents Rubio, Jeb!, and Graham would have approved:
The administration’s policy changes keep coming. Beyond withdrawing bathroom protections, the Education Department also scrapped Obama-era guidance that told schools to interpret federal civil rights protections as covering gender identity.
The judicial setbacks for the Health and Human Services Department rule to help health care workers who refuse to help transgender patients did not stop the department from proposing last month to scrap regulations that currently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in programs that receive grants from the department. The public comment period is still open.
Before announcing its plan to weaken protections for transgender people who are homeless, the Department of Housing and Urban Development removed links to documents that listed best practices for emergency shelters serving transgender people. Ben Carson, the housing secretary, repeated concerns from advocates who expressed worry in September that “big, hairy men” pretending to be women would try to get into women’s shelters, The Washington Post reported.
These policy shifts have had an effect. Crimes against LGBT people have increased almost six percent, according to FBI data. It’s worse for transgender people of color:
Crimes against transgender people leapt 34 percent, to 142 in 2018 from 106 in 2017, and those are only the crimes reported to the police or recorded as an attack on a transgender victim.
At least 22 transgender people have been fatally shot or killed in 2019, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Nearly all of them were black women. Some fear that the Trump administration’s policies could be interpreted by some as a signal that such attacks are acceptable.
As our brothers and sisters in the black community know, many of whom are LGBT, the fight doesn’t stop because of major if not historic victories. We’ll deal with “religious freedom” bills for some time.