Gary Shteyngart’s Homophobic Little Failure of a Book Trailer
Gay jokes aren’t that hard to pull off. Whether the comedian is straight or gay themselves, they only need to be clever, to pick out something fundamentally true about gay people or culture and play with it deftly. Unless you just reject identity-based humor altogether, a well-crafted gay joke delivered in the spirit of good-natured frivolity should not offend. That should only happen when the joke is malicious or, as is more often the case, draws its “humor” from lazy stereotypes.
Star writer Gary Shteyngart’s trailer for his new memoir, Little Failure, clearly took up a lot of people’s time and money in the pursuit of that last kind of lazy gay laugh. The ad is a looong series of cheap jokes and pointless cameos of Park Slope favorites like Jonathan Franzen, Alex Karpovsky, and Rashida Jones, but the worst moment comes when Shteyngart’s publishers at Random House inform him of his book’s unflattering title. Upset, the author asks if he can talk it over with his … husband.
Why We Should Care How Straight Allies Benefit From Their Support
Let’s talk about allies for a moment. What is an ally? The term is used to describe those who support and stand by marginalized groups as they work to combat various social and legal inequalities. For instance, white people can work as anti-racist allies alongside communities of people of color, pro-feminist men can act as allies to women, and straight people can stand as allies alongside sexual-minority communities.
How one can best be an ally has recently come up for debate in the blogosphere (see here, here, and here). Indeed, being an ally is a tricky business. It requires careful thinking through and distinguishing between intentions and the effects of one’s actions.
Australia Re-Bans Gay Marriage, Demonstrates Brilliance of U.S. System
Tucked away near the middle of the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, in a part of the opinion only John Roberts read, Justice Anthony Kennedy puts forth the uncontroversial proposition that “same-sex marriages [were] made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States.” It’s a relatively minor point, a gesture toward federalism in an opinion otherwise dominated by an encomium to personal liberty.
Still, as Australia reminds us today, we shouldn’t take our laboratories of democracy for granted quite yet. This week, Australia’s highest court struck down the equivalent of a state law allowing same-sex marriages in the Australian Capital Territory, holding that only the federal government can legalize such unions. Twenty-seven gay marriages were immediately annulled. (As one man put it, barely holding back tears: “We’ve been unmarried.”) The court hinged its logic on the highly questionable proposition that conflicting federal and territorial marriage laws would create statutory confusion—an argument rejected as facetious at best by the Windsor court. Australia tends to be a fairly enlightened country, yet the court’s anti-gay decision was unanimous. Gay marriage remains banned throughout the country. How did the United States beat Australia to the punch?
How Queer Is American Horror Story? “Head” Edition.
For the duration of American Horror Story: Coven, June Thomas and J. Bryan Lowder will gather each week in Outward to call the corners and charm the most recent episode of its queer meaning, whether brazenly obvious or bubbling just below the cauldron’s surface. Don’t be afraid to add your own cackles in the comments.
June: Bryan, this episode has to keep us going for a month until American Horror Story: Coven returns on Jan. 8, and it certainly didn't skimp on sensation. We got Hank's back story (more disappointed parents who have transferred their hopes to more suitable surrogate children), Queenie giving Delphine sensitivity training, a spree killing at the salon, and some misbehavior with a melon baller.
From the Courtroom to the Ballroom: The Most Striking Queer Culture of 2013
Outward asked Slate staffers, Outward contributors, and a smattering of queer luminaries to tell us about most striking piece of LGBTQ culture they experienced in 2013.
The American Closet Is Bigger Than We Thought
Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a fascinating—and disheartening—story on the state of closeted gay men in America. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, an economist and opinion page contributor, began his research hoping to more accurately measure the number of gay men in the country using sources like Facebook and Match.com, and his estimate—that “at least 5 percent of American men … are predominantly attracted to men”—fits comfortably within the range of 2-to-10 percent that we’re familiar with. But the rest of that paragraph is somewhat surprising (and certainly disappointing):
… and millions of gay men still live, to some degree, in the closet. Gay men are half as likely as straight men to acknowledge their sexuality on social networks. More than one quarter of gay men hide their sexuality from anonymous surveys. The evidence also suggests that a large number of gay men are married to women.
“I'm a Writer Who Hustled, Not a Hustler Who Wrote”: An Interview With John Rechy
In November, Grove Press published a 50th-anniversary edition of John Rechy’s City of Night, a landmark novel about a young hustler who travels the country plying his trade. In beautiful, lyrical language Rechy describes the era’s gay bars and pickup zones as well as the personalities who moved through them.
June Thomas recently spoke by telephone with 82-year-old Rechy about his writing career and the world’s endless fascination with hustling.
A U.N. Video Shames the 76 Countries That Criminalize Same-Sex Relationships
Dec. 10 is Human Rights Day, and this year, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has made a video chronicling the history of LGBTQ rights at the U.N.
In many ways, it’s the kind of kumbaya creation that makes the United Nations so easy to mock. Accompanied by an instrumental version of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” the video celebrates milestones like “the first adopted U.N. resolution on the issue,” the first U.N. report, and “the first formal intergovernmental debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council.” But about 50 seconds in, the video shows a map of the 76 countries where same-sex relationships are criminalized, and suddenly those debates and resolutions don’t seem so silly. Videos won’t change the world, but the United Nations deserves praise for reminding its members that homophobic and transphobic violence are clear violations of the human-rights declaration they are pledged to support.
The Six Types of Heterosexuals
While the types of activity vary widely among heterosexuals, the community can be separated into six separate groups: the blatant, the secret lifer, the desperate, the adjusted, the bisexual, and the situational.
Monogamy Doesn’t Make Unprotected Anal Sex Safe
In his recent Slate article "Is Unprotected Anal Sex Ever OK?," Mark Joseph Stern argued that unprotected anal sex should be seen as a "perquisite" for monogamous couples. The article was a response to a CDC report noting a rise in rates of unprotected anal sex among men who have sex with men, a report that has led many public-health experts and activists to adopt a harmful tone of finger wagging that completely undercuts what is a central message in health activism: We all have a right to a full life that includes smart, fun, and safe sex. That messaging is harmful—but no more so than Stern’s idea that unprotected anal sex should be a reward for those who invest in a monogamous relationship.
There is no special event or destination that, once reached, allows uninterrupted condomless anal sex. Monogamy is not Camelot. Aside from completely eliding the healthy decisions of those who are polyamorous or nonmonogamous, looking to monogamy as a magical sheath against HIV flies in the face of sound science. One 2009 study of gay men in major U.S. cities showed that as many as 68 percent of new HIV infections come from a person's primary (though not necessarily monogamous) sexual partner. The results of this study show two important, complementary realities: They problematize the idea of a monolithic "monogamy" and they illuminate a glaring blind spot in HIV-prevention agendas—the exclusion of couples as a targeted population in need of prevention outreach.