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Entries in Gay Life (18)

Monday
Feb082010

Looking for a Gaycation? Skip South Beach

As we move deeper into February many people especially those in the upper northern hemisphere are probably getting ready to jump ship.  Trading in boots and winter jackets for bathingsuits and sunscreen.  We want to know where you are going, but before you book your tickets and hotel you might want to give this a read.

Once a bustling hub for scantily clad men and women, particular of the gay persuasion South Beach has fallen from grace.  In the 80s South Beach was not known for being gay friendly but like so many less attractive areas, the gay’s moved in, setup shop cleaned up the area and made it their own.  Sadly the gay community has become a victim of its own success.

Since the mid 90s real estate prices in South Beach have increased and forced some gays to head northward.  More recently with hate crimes on the rise (75% of all hate crimes in Miami-Dade county take place at Miami Beach) have forced the LGBT community to move up the coast to Fort Lauderdale.

While the prices of real estate rose, gay clubs increasingly needed to bring in more profit, which included courting straight clientele and in many cases closing down gay clubs in favor of straight clubs.  As Miami Beach became a tourism hot spot the very people who made it that way were turned against, being beaten up and verbally assaulted.

The Miami New Times recently reported on this gay migration and while Miami Beach tries to bring the LGBT community back, it seems the hay day has passed.  So, as you plan out your vacations you might want to re-think booking that hotel on South Beach in favor of one on Pompano Beach.

What is your vacation hot spot?

 

Monday
Feb012010

Visão Brasileira

From what I've seen and heard, people from different countries have difficulties when bringing up sexuality with their peers. In Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries, sex is not taboo anymore. Gay and lesbian people can have their normal life without people bothering them and are respected by society. On the other hand, homosexuals in the Middle East live in fear of being killed.  One of their politicians has even said  "we don't have any gay people in this country". Okay, I'm convinced.

In Brazil, things are quite different. Before talking about gay life and "how it is to be gay here" I need to say a few things most people don't know about the country of soccer and carnival.

Brazil is a huge, rich (with a lot of poor and a few überrich people), it is basically a catholic, prosperous and western country. To understand it you have to understand how it used to be 150 years ago. We basically export raw materials and import culture (first from the Europeans, then the Americans). The meaning of being successful 150 years ago was: to be catholic, to have a lot of slaves and a huge farm. "Just plant coffee (especially in the 19th century) and be happy".

After the British applied pressure over our owning of slaves we eventually set them all free. It sounds great, doesn't it? But we basically threw them in the street. Literally speaking. What happened in Germany after the end of the Soviet Union, in the 90's? The government guided the old soviet society, giving them money in order to fit the system. What happened in Brazil, 120 years ago? Nothing. Nothing was planned.

In the meantime a lot of immigrants from Europe and Japan arrived in Brazil, following the promise of a better life. They started living in the south of the country, in the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

In this mix of cultures Brazil has had its industrial revolution. It became a republic, then a dictatorship and eventually (in 1988) a democracy.

What does the history of Brazil have to do with the gay experience here? Well, all the morals and the structure of the society has a lot of sad memories from those days. Poverty, patriarchy (we were a colony and then a monarchy), Iberian culture (our families were totally patriarchal) and Catholicism (Portuguese gift), African influence in popular arts (music, for example) and a mix of European modern ideals (populism, anarchy - my state, Paraná, has had the only anarchic experience in the world - atheism, communism, etc). 

So, when the slaves were set free they didn't have anywhere to go but to the mountains.  Nowadays there is a lot of poverty and violence in the big cities in the favelas (slums); we don't have a good educational system - most people are illiterate; people tend to focus on religion (especially the evangelicals) and the corruption is a sad part of our politics that is just endless (our monarchy heritage).

If you were poor, madly religious, in a violent city, in hot and tropical weather, what would you do? Watch TV, play soccer, don't pay any attention to politics except to blame it for everything, wait all the year for the carnival, listen to music with no meaning, etc. But, in my opinion, the worst of all is the lack of education seen in the whole population. People don't go to good schools and don't understand what they read plus the prices for books are extremely high.

 On the matter of homosexuality: what do people think about it?  Is there space for gays in a society full of people who don't read, who are part of a patriarchal and "apish" society, who don't respect the rights of people, who blindly follow religious dogma, etc.  I don't think so, when all society can think is "Those evil and nasty creatures must be discriminated against. Sodomites, burn in hell!" there is no room for gays (This would suit the 18th century. But it's scary to hear it nowadays).

 What about me? I'm sensitive, young, smart, full of ideas (and ideals) and gay. I don't show others that I am, but I don't hide it either. That's the difference. My family knows, my dad hates it, my mother supports me and I just have a few smart and pleasant friends who are good to be with.

I don't kiss in public; I don't hold my boyfriend's hand in public. But why am I ashamed of it? Better - why am I afraid of it? Well, probably I just want to avoid the people's judgments. Sound fair...?

Brazil is not Iran, but I am sure we are far, far away from Sweden. Maybe we are just stuck, the same and old Brazil... and here I am.

I am sure there will be a lot of changes in the next few years, at least I hope so. Later I'll write about the legal details, and the changes that appear to be coming through new laws to Brazil.

This is my country, my gay life and... me.

Tuesday
Dec012009

Are Average Joes an Engangered Species?

In a recent conversation with a friend we were discussing the significant lack of gay men who are not boxed into one of the stereotypes of what media has put us into. An Average Joe of the gay world. Not boring by any means, but someone who loves being gay just doesn’t allow it to overwhelm their personality. The sheer multitude of bitchy, queeny, snarky, crass, flamboyant individuals who portray themselves only in this way, at least in public all the time is quite abundant (here). Why do we feel we have to identify and make ourselves into these loud personalities? Is it a way for us to find an identity as a gay man within our community? If so, do people get stuck in this identity crisis?

I’ve been asking around to some of my gay friends about their thoughts and adding them to my own. Yes, of course I realize that some people are just outgoing and have big personalities. I’m one of them. I love to meet people and am very animated. But when does that morph into an act one puts on where they lose part of themselves and become something they think they should be?

Are these ‘stereotypical gays’ putting on an act? Are they Average Joe’s when they get home? I have a friend who is so cool and chill and relaxed when it’s just one on one or a small group of people, and then the moment we step out he becomes a performer. Is there some unspoken driving force urging us gays to perform when we go into public? Have I not been privy to said unspoken force?

Once we find ourselves and can identify with the gay community in some way I feel that we get so wrapped up in that idea that we start to lose, or lose completely other parts of our personalities. I have so many interests and enjoy them in a multitude of ways. Yes, I enjoy the night out and going to a club and dancing every once and while. My ‘gayness’ isn’t overwhelmed by my other interests. It’s all about moderation. That balance was hard to find for me, but once I did it was and is crucial in helping me be level and diverse.

I embrace my “Average Joe” status, knowing that it’s anything but average. In today’s gay culture, it’s more of an endangered species status. I don’t want to stay in some zoo. What say you all help me and my fellow Joe’s come back into multitude?

Monday
Nov232009

Not my Kind of Gay

This seems a most fitting post following our latest entry “Does Music Make you Gay.”  I try to stay out of this kind of stuff, because really I am more of a politics than pop culture kinda person, but I couldn't resist.

I didn’t watch the AMAs but with all the buzz over Adam Lambert’s performance I had to check it out.  What I saw in all honesty disgusted me.  Once again my TV screen depicted an oversexed gay man, further reinforcing the stereotype that so many have of the LGBT community.

I am not saying that Lambert should censure himself, but I would ask him to have a little class.  You want to kiss a man on stage to make a point, awesome, but there were a few things that I can see hurting rather than helping the cause.

From the video that I was able to find it looked like he rubbed another man’s face in his crotch, and what was with the kiss?  First of all it looked as if he was about to swallow the poor keyboardist’s head.  Secondly he shared with reporters that it was just something that happened “in the moment.”  I don’t think so Adam.  The lyrics leading up to the kiss are “can you handle what I'm 'bout to do" and in the follow up interview where he claims it was in the moment he also states that he believes there is a double standard for two men kissing. Agreed, there is a double standard but I think it could have been handled better.

The whole point of this site is to allow everyone to share their version of being gay.  If that is Lambert’s version, S&M, face eating etc. fine, but I wish that it had all been done a bit more tastefully.  What do you think? Post a comment and let us know how you feel.

Missed the performance? check it out here, and then see his follow up interview.

 
Wednesday
Nov112009

They Fight for Freedom at Home and Abroad

Today as many of you may know is Veterans Day.  While the media shows images of troops serving our country, and President Obama honoring them with a wreath, I would like to take time to thank them as well.

To start I would like to thank all Veterans, of which there are many in my own family, but I would like to give a special thank you to the gay men and women who serve our country.  These individuals serve a country that is happy to use them when it is convenient and then throw them away when they are no longer needed.  These veterans of which there are now one million (according to the Urban Institute) fight for freedom on the battlefield and are rewarded with an equally tough fight when they return home.

What kind of message are the people of this country sending to our service men and women when we don’t allow them to marry?  When we kick them out of the armed forces at a time when we need them most, what does that say about our government?

Polls have shown that the majority of voters both Democrat and Republican favor lifting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and as of 2006 73% of all military personnel reported being comfortable serving with openly gay soldiers.  Yet the majority of American’s do not support the rights of gay people.  The message is, we can die for our country but we do not have the right to marry, to be with our partner, husband, or wife when they are sick in the hospital.

You have all heard the numbers and seen the data about today’s military.  Gays serve openly in other countries and their militaries have not fallen apart.  In fact one of the greatest armies in history was comprised entirely of gay men. The Sacred Band of Thebes was one of the most feared Greek armies, comprised entirely of gay couples.

The point of all of this is that I would like to say thank you.  Thank you to our LGBT troops who serve a country that shuns them.  Thank you for fighting for the freedom of the very people that take your freedom away when you get home.  Thank you for risking your life for your fellow man, and for being part of the LGBT community.  To the 65,000 active duty soldiers and the one million veterans who proudly serve or have served our country, thank you.

Links of Interest:

Straight Guys Tell

Knights Out

Sacred Band of Thebes

Service Members Legal Defense Network

Homosexuality and Civilization (A recommended read for all)