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May 31, 2006

And My Dear, She's Still Here

Malbug_13Taylor1 The Malcontent apologizes profusely for helping feed speculation about the impending death of Dame Elizabeth Taylor.

Instead, the 74-year-old screen legend turned up last night on Larry King, looking about as chipper as possible and certainly more lucid than she was at the 2001 Golden Globes.

The very much alive Taylor refuted rumors of her demise and partially dismissed reports of having "Alts-heimer's," although there were moments to make one wonder about the line between fact and fiction.

Normally I am impervious to Larry's sycophantic coddling of his guests, but I admit to a soft spot in my cold, brackish heart for the old broad.  Six days before the 25th anniversary of the CDC report that is generally regarded as the start of the AIDS pandemic, she is still a driving force behind eradication of the disease.  She was red ribbon before red ribbon was cool.

Taylor waxed nostaligic about many of her costars including Rock Hudson, whom she said would be out of the closet if he were alive today.  Oh, and she peddled her jewelry.  It's ugly as sin, but I might buy some anyway.

[Watch video – 7:50, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 7:50, WMV format, low bandwidth]

April 28, 2006

Having The Sex Americans Won't

Josh passed along a long, interesting article on sexual behavior among the Mexican immigrant population in the American Southwest:

Ignacio doesn't consider himself gay, because he is always activo when he's with another man. Among mayates, there is one stark rule: The activo partner--or the person whom gay American men call a "top"--maintains his sense of masculinity, while the person who's being penetrated does not. And among recent Hispanic immigrants, who don't own much, manhood is a crucial possession. Mayates may think that letting another man give them a blowjob or giving anal sex to another man doesn't constitute cheating on their wives or girlfriends back in their own countries. And according to researchers who've studied male Hispanic immigrants and HIV transmission, the fact that many of them live in a small apartment to save money means that they sometimes end up having sex with one another. According to these researchers, being a mayate isn't a fixed sexual identity; it's the result of living in cramped quarters in areas of town where there aren't nearly as many women as there are other men who've just arrived from Mexico.

Contrary to queer fundamentalist rhetoric of fixed orientation at birth, increased cultural blending continues to illustrate that sexuality is a complicated construct that knows no politics and cannot be reduced to pamphleted sloganeering. What's interesting is how difficult it is for activists and health professionals to grapple with an environment not easily divided into gay and straight spheres. As culturally delineated sexual boundaries in America continue to erode under increasing sexual liberty, it will be interesting to see if there is a similar breakdown between the gay-straight divide, or if this phenomenon is restricted merely to the immigrant circumstance of a disproportionately male population.

The article is also a useful treatment of an issue politicians are not discussing about border security and illegal immigration controls: the spread of HIV among mainly rural, uneducated immigrants. The attitudes expressed by some in this piece are a chilling throwback to an age when HIV/AIDS spread almost unchecked due to ignorance of transmission methods.

Read the whole thing.

April 27, 2006

Icon in Decline

Malbug_13Elizabeth_taylor Sad news today that screen legend and humanitarian Elizabeth Taylor, 74, might be near death.  She was diagnosed in 2004 with congestive heart failure after a lifetime of ill health.

Taylor has already raised more than $50 million for AIDS-related causes, and it sounds as if her immense generosity won't end with her death:

"She's not leaving a lot of money to her children. She wants the bulk of her fortune to go to AIDS research."

Classy lady.  While many will always remember her for her timeless beauty, it's her beautiful soul that has made a more meaningful impact.

April 14, 2006

A Matter of Interpretation? - *Updated

Underwear I'll need to recruit reader opinions on this one. Boozhy is criticizing the AIDS Foundation of Chicago for their current ad campaign, based on fashionable and trendy images. Juan questions:

. . .when will WHAT go out of style?  AIDS?  We have some words for ya' AFC, AIDS isn't a trend nor a fashion statement.  It's an epidemic. I thought we had decided collectively to stop glamorizing the virus?

I, however, had a different take. By trends, I thought the campaign was clearly targeting behavior. In the first pic, there is a man presenting his bare back. Bare-backing is obviously the major cause of HIV infection. The second picture depicts an African-American male under a shadowed hood. I took this as a criticism of what is known as sex "on the down low." Keith Boykin and others have spoken out at length on this issue, and it's had quite a bit of media attention of late, including Oprah.

However, I'm mystified by the third image of the woman in heels. There is no obvious message or behavior I can associate with it. Juan insists I'm looking too deeply at all the images, that they simply refer to AIDS itself as a trend, and there's nothing more to it - especially given the description by the AFC.

I think there's more going on here, but I can't account for the third picture. I plan on calling the AFC to ask when their office reopens in the morning. Reader opinions?

Update - I just got off the phone with a very knowledgable, very nice miss from the development department at the AFC. In a nutshell, Juan is right and I am wrong. The readings I laid out above are entirely incidental to the images produced for the campaign. The pictures are intended to create a jarring disconnect between what is being presented (shallow, high-gloss fashion) and the tragedy of AIDS. Furthermore, the models depicted are from different demographics and have had their faces obscured in order to emphasize that HIV and AIDS affects everyone, regardless of identity.

The campaign is actually from two years ago and is currently being touched up for redistribution for clinics, educational materials, etc. The AFC is eager to know what you think of this campaign, and would very much appreciate your feedback.

April 07, 2006

The 1.609-Kilometer-High Club


I'll admit that I look at YouTube a bit the way Ma and Pa at the corner store look at WalMart: We're small-timers at this video thing, but we like to think the quality and focus of our clips keep people coming back.

And, of course, we are not a faceless, soulless Web goliath.  We love our readers.  Heart

That said, I thought this French PSA was as effective as it was hot.  And it could never air in this puritanical country (which goes without saying that it's NSFW):

[Thanks, Neil!]

April 04, 2006

Ryan, Rock, and the Rest

Malbug_13"Access Hollywood" served up some homo-rific clips tonight.  First the breaking news (OK, that's what "Entertainment Tonight" would call it, anyway) that Teri Hatcher and Ryan Seacrest are not dating.  (See also Starpulse, via Queerty.)  I'll wait for you all to self-administer CPR over that one before I continue.

Then the three fabulous gals of 9 to 5 sat down to promote the release of that movie's DVD, 26 years after the Dolly Parton's jugs made their silver screen debut.  Who knew that she could play any instrument, including her manicure?

And finally, Linda Evans discusses the kiss that "Rocked" Hollywood.  How far we have come from all that hysteria.

[Watch video – 4:18, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 4:18, WMV format, low bandwidth]




February 28, 2006

The Minister and the Media

Everyone seems a bit up in arms about the recent appointment by President Bush of the Rev. Herbert H. Lusk II to a position on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Whereas the other appointments to the panel seem almost uncharacteristically appropriate, I thought I'd poke and prod around a bit to figure out who the minister with close ties to Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council is. Upfront, the man is fairly hostile to us mo's. However, gay media are once again being brutally dishonest to their readers.

Continue reading "The Minister and the Media" »

February 13, 2006

"Straight-Washing" Entertainment



It's all the rage among the 'mos to denigrate the "gay" American TV networks, such as Logo, Here! TV and the faltering Q Television Network.  You've heard the rap before:

"They reinforce negative stereotypes.  They don't show our lives.  Their production values are a disgrace to right-brained queens everywhere.  Their content is recycled, derivative of other sources, or redundant, given the existence of other channels like Bravo or E!"

But guess what, boys?  We need these networks.  We should support them and encourage them to put on realistic and entertaining gay programming that is relevant to our "community," insofar as there is one.

Why?  Because although gains are being made, we still don't get quite a fair shake in the mainstream media.

Exhibit A, the first clip from "The Tony Danza Show" that will ever be played on MalcoVision.  (And judging by Danza's ratings, possibly the last.)

Actor Anthony Rapp, one of the most talented performers in almost any medium who also happens to be an out gay man, stopped by this morning to promote his new book, "Without You," a memoir that focuses on his 11-year association with the musical "Rent."  The dominant themes of the book include Rapp's life as a gay man, and the loss of several friends to AIDS.  The book jacket even mentions Rapp's partner, Rodney To.

So what was Danza interested in talking about?  The death of Rapp's father.

The Washington Blade ran an editorial on Friday about the "straight-washing" of the news, a phenomenon that seems to cross over into some daytime talk shows.

Until it becomes second nature for straight America to talk to and about gays like we're just anybody else, there will be an important spot at the electronic hearth for Logo and its cousins.

[Watch video – 6:57, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 6:57, WMV format, low bandwidth]

February 06, 2006

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Malbug_13Gay men are being chiefly blamed for the spread of yet another nasty STD.

I couldn't be prouder of my promiscuous comrades right now.

February 01, 2006

Night and Day


The President's State of the Union Address last night showed one reason why many gay Americans continue to be of two minds on George Bush.

The man who has been criticized by some for focusing too much of his AIDS agenda overseas talked about an important expansion of domestic HIV/AIDS efforts.

But not before he took another gratuitous shot at gays who feel that equal treatment for our committed relationships isn't too much to ask, lumping gay marriage in with actual threats such as corruption in government, Hurricane Katrina and deadly diseases.  A sense of proportion, please, Mr. President.

[Watch video – 2:17, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 2:17, WMV format, high bandwidth]

January 13, 2006

Bloody Discrimination

While performing the morning ritual of flipping through my feed-reader, I noticed Andy Towle link this story about gay activists protesting a South African ban on gay men donating blood. Andy (and gay activists) referred to the ban as "discrimination."

Gay men are banned for something, so it must be wrong, no?

Not so fast. In this article in the Advocate, a gay graduate student sets out to uncover the animus behind the ban on blood donations from gay men and discovers there is a valid scientific rationale:

What I found is that there is, in fact, good science to support these policies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the most recent U.S. study, conducted in 2003, men who have sex with men accounted for approximately two thirds of all HIV infections among men, although only 5% to 7% of men in the United States identify themselves as men who have sex with men. (Obviously their surveys underestimate the true number of men who have sex with men, but even accounting for this error, the data is overwhelming.) The CDC’s statistical models predict that if the criterion was relaxed to exclude only those who have had man-to-man sex in the past five years, the worst-case scenario would mean an additional 1,200 units of HIV-positive blood in the system—a potential disaster.

The entire article deserves a thorough reading for its honesty, concern for scientific facts, and this perfect encapsulation of the issue:

So, as is all too often the case, there’s a slippage between what my emotional gut told me and what scientific evidence suggests is the truth. The lesson there is to get the facts before leaping to conclusions based on our emotional reactions.

Emotionalism is fine sometimes, but not when scientific data are involved. Merely seeing a story and crying discrimination before we even bother to uncover the truth of a matter is bad for gays everywhere. Science must come before political agenda, otherwise we are little different from the ID nutters out there who wish to place their beliefs before empirical data.

January 04, 2006

Two Mascots for the Gay Left

Malbug_13If the politics of Larry David weren't so well-known – according to tray.com, he contributed nearly $81,000 to Democrats and Democratic entities in the 2002-2004 election cycles alone, with just $1,000 to a single local GOP candidate – I might be tempted to think he were a Republican.

Last night TBS reran one of the last episodes of "Seinfeld" that David executive-produced before leaving the show after the seventh season (only to return to write the series finale), titled "The Sponge." In it, Elaine learns that the Today contraceptive sponge is being removed from the market and she attempts to hoard them.






But it was the "B story" that interested me most.  Kramer volunteers for an AIDS walk but is the only one in the vicinity to decide, for reasons known only to him, not to wear "the ribbon."  ("This is America!  I don't have to wear anything I don't want to wear!")

He is quickly descended upon by an angry group of enforcers, led by a fey couple named Cedric and Bob, whom Kramer previously described in the "Soup Nazi" episode as "street toughs" after they stole an armoire Kramer was supposed to be guarding for Elaine.  (They are, incidentally, also the same couple who would later lead a rowdy mob against Kramer after he accidentally stomps out a flaming Puerto Rican flag, a controversial scene that led to the episode's being pulled from the rerun rotation.)

It didn't really register with me when "The Sponge" first aired 10 years ago, but it sure hit me in the face like a cold drink last night:

Cedric and Bob are every gay I have met who "won't date" Republicans.  They are every gay who has called me an "Uncle Tom" or a "quisling" or a "Benedict Arnold."  They are every gay who (moronically) called me as an "oxymoron."  They are every gay who has thought me a traitor to some nebulous "cause" simply because I happened to disagree with them on budgets, crime or foreign policy.

Gay Democrats/liberals who demonize, caricature or screen out the people with whom they choose to associate based solely on an ideological filter probably do so, in part, because they have the luxury of numbers.  But it is incredibly myopic to think that a tiny segment of the population that is striving for its "rights" is going to gain any traction if a majority among us feels so justified in marginalizing such a sizable minority.

(Disclaimer for the slow or stupid: No matter how hard I try to be discerning, many people automatically think I am lumping together "all" gay Democrats or gay liberals when I criticize the Left.  I am not.  But if you have lived a life as I have, encountering the kind of "tolerance" described above, then you will understand how tiresome it becomes.  I have no problem – zero – with Democrats or liberals as a whole.  As long as you can accept that gays of good faith can have legitimate ideological or partisan differences, then we will have no problem.)

So to Cosmo Kramer, I say, "Bravo."  Stand tall and ribbonless, and stay strong against the ideological enforcers.  But your constant harassment at the hands of the Cedrics and Bobs of the world is a sad reminder, even a decade later, that some things will probably never change.

OK, some things change.  "Today" sponges are back on the market.

[Watch video – 2:00, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 2:00, WMV format, low bandwidth]

December 14, 2005

Dance Your Health Away

Circuitparty The only thing truly shocking in this article is that any of this required a study.

Circuit parties . . . were created in the 1980s in large part to raise awareness and funding related to HIV and AIDS prevention. Today, [they] may be part of the problem rather than the solution, according to a Northwestern University study.

These researchers paid money to study something any urban gay man with even passing knowledge of the community could have told them for free. Circuit parties are little more than enormous STD frappes full of gay men on meth benders who have unprotected sex? No, surely they tell lies.

There's unintentional hilarity as well:

The circuit party studies examined in this study show that more than two-thirds of attendees have some type of sex at the parties, and 47 percent of them reported participation in unprotected sex.

HIV-positive men are over-represented at the parties and more likely to have unprotected sex. Thus, the risk of HIV transmission is enhanced in a drug-laden environment where ordinary sexual mores of gay men lose sway.

“Shutting down the parties would send them underground and possibly exaggerate risky behavior,” Ghaziani says.

Attended by a disproportionate number of HIV positive indivuals and 47% of attendees are having unprotected sex? Is it even humanly possible to exaggerate that kind of behavior?

Circuit parties are not good things for the gay community. They haven't been for quite some time. Everyone knows this. We're just not terribly inclined to do anything about it. They're too much fun. But, thanks for the tip, researchers. Well discovered. Maybe we'll put together an entirely insincere condom campaign in response or something.

December 01, 2005

Happy Something-Or-Other


Worldaidsday Today is, once again, World AIDS Day.  And if your observation extends no further than your remote control, there are a number of viewing choices for you:

5 p.m. EST on Logo, Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt: Dustin Hoffman narrates profiles of five people who died from AIDS. From 1989.

6:45 p.m. EST on Sundance Channel, 14 Million Dreams: 14 Million Dreams tells the stories of 5 orphans of AIDS in Kenya and Malawi, from the difficulties they faced to their fantasies of the future.

6:50 p.m. EST on STARZ, Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning performance as a gay lawyer with AIDS who fights for his rights for being fired from his law firm. Antonio Banderas plays his boyfriend.

7 p.m. EST on Showtime, Pills, Profits, Protest: Chronicle of the Global AIDS Movement: This documentary chronicle of the movement to provide medical treatment to the world's 40 million AIDS victims.

7 p.m. EST on Logo, Longtime Companion: How AIDS effects the lives of a group of gay men, mostly couples, in New York in the '80s. Starring Bruce Davison, Campbell Scott, Stephen Caffrey, Mark Lamos, Patrick Cassidy, Mary-Louise Parker, John Dossett, Brian Cousins, and Dermot Mulroney.

8 p.m. EST on the Sundance Channel, Make It Real (to Me): In 2000, Kevin, a 12-year-old orphaned by HIV-AIDS and had been living on his own for two years. He is revisited in 2005 to see if he has remained uninfected.

8 p.m. EST on MTV (replay at 11:30 p.m.), Think Again: Sex Myths Revealed: Misconceptions about pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

9 p.m. EST on Logo, CBS News on Logo: Report on AIDS: Health updates, studies and findings on the virus.

10 p.m. on Logo, Angels in America: Tony Kushner adapts his Pulitzer Prize winning play for the screen. It deals with AIDS, homophobia, sex and even more. Starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, and a host of others. Part 1 of 3.

Or you could just do like me and watch Rafe the gay Mormon on "Survivor: Guatemala."  Because I've always had a bug up my ass (ahem) about World AIDS Day, which was something else long before it was World AIDS Day: my birthday.

November 29, 2005

"Groping and Grabbing and Fondling"

Oprahisatwat_4 Malbug_13A former meth addict talked about his life of drug-fueled bathhouse sex binges on yesterday's Oprah.

Oh, yes, he's also something of a poster child for many of the other wonderful accoutrements of his fast-paced lifestyle: unsafe sex, HIV, addiction, homelessness, hunger, prostitution, and suicide attempts.

Yeah, makes me wanna rush right out and try the stuff.

Video clips deleted at demand of Jeffrey Friedman, attorney for Oprah Winfrey

October 24, 2005

Walgreens as Bond Villain?

This is ingenious.

[T]he folks at the American Family Association on Friday sent their “director of special projects,” Randy Sharp (pic.), to write a guest, Wal/gay-decrying commentary for Agape Press. In the said sad commentary, Sharp expounds upon the AFA’s suggestion that Walgreens is contributing money to the Games in order to promote HIV transmission and therefore profit from HIV drug sales, actually having the gall to suggest that, “Walgreens must be salivating at the prospect of new customers this will create,” that “they’re making sure they capitalize on others’ despair by supporting events that guarantee them a high yield return on their investment,” and that “someone at Walgreens deserves a huge bonus for the idea to increase sales by helping drive events that result in the need for the company’s drugs.”

I'm surmising that Peter's crusade is extending throughout the land.

As North Dallas Thirty put it:

. . . this doesn’t sound TOO dissimilar to what ACT-UP and the radical gay left have been saying all along.

It just goes to show you…..the only difference between right-wing kooks and left-wing kooks are the haircuts.

August 26, 2005

To Cut ... Or Not To Cut

Malbug_13Zucchini Andrew Sullivan is more passive-aggressive than ever about circumcision.  His latest masterstroke (pardon the pun -- both of them) focuses on the physical sensation involved after the procedure, and concludes by quoting a reader that surgical circumcision in a hospital is inferior to a ritualistic Jewish bris on grounds of aesthetics and sensitivity.

Ironically, Sullivan has insisted repeatedly in the past that his beef with circumcision is not with desensitization, even though he continues to bring up such a point nonetheless.

Sullivan contends that some men should consider it on health grounds, but he continually (and paradoxically) uses the highly charged term "mutilation" when parents choose to have it performed on their baby boys.  (Note also his smart-ass title, "HOW TO CHOP OFF PART OF YOUR DICK.")

So is it mutilation or not?  If it is such a travesty that it happens to babies, then why counsel men to consider it later in life, especially after they would have forgone the hygiene and health benefits until that point?  His concern for health rings a bit hollow when he uses charged rhetoric against parents who would provide their sons with the same benefits he cynically touts.

He has even called circumcision "child abuse," a bizarre charge from which he has since backed down.

Is cutting the umbilical cord "abuse" or "mutilation"?  It is done, and without the child's consent, for legitimate reasons of both hygiene and aesthetics.  (In that regard, it is not too far afield from circumcision.)

Yet Sullivan is hung up on the penis, which indicates that his arguments have everything to do with pleasure, his strenuous assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.  He doth protest too much, appearing more interested in the physical sensations of sex than in the mounting evidence of circumcision's health benefits.

His angry screeds against parents who take precautions for their infant sons' health is especially galling in that Sullivan has not been particularly careful about his own.  (I suppose raging about loss of physical sensation would be a bit more consistent with condom usage, even if it's more recent.)

The bottom line is that Sully has proven himself a man who will say just about anything if it will get him a little attention.  But he could have a point: After all, men who take to heart his outspoken advocacy of steroids will need every penile inch they can muster to compensate for their roid-shrunken balls.