Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

May 29 2015 4:10 PM

The Reisner/Weiderpass Scandal Reaches New Depths

For a certain sort of affluent gay New Yorker, Friday afternoons in the summer mean one thing: a mass migration out of the city to the gay enclaves of The Pines or Cherry Grove on Fire Island. This trip is usually accomplished via the Long Island Railroad and a quick jaunt on a ferry, and I can guarantee what the main topic of conversation will be on those transit systems this afternoon: Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, and the amount of Ted Cruz-supporting crap of which they are full.

You may recall that Christopher Rawlins, a writer, architect, and Pines regular, covered the origins of this ongoing scandal for Outward back in late April, on the eve of a protest at the Out NYC, a gay-focused hotel that Reisner and Weiderpass run together. The short version is that the two men—who were once lovers and are now business partners who share a penthouse on Central Park South—held a dinner and “fireside chat” for vehemently anti-LGBT Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz in their home on April 20. When word of the event got out in the New York Times, the men—who have a relatively high profile in the gay business community because of the hotel and Reisner’s stake in much of the commercial property in The Pines—came under serious and sustained criticism from the people their businesses are meant to serve, including calls for boycotts of both establishments. For their part, Reisner and Weiderpass insisted the event was not a fundraiser, but rather an earnest dialogue on the issues, especially support for Israel, which they share with Cruz.

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May 28 2015 4:41 PM

Marco Rubio Adds Fuel to the Christian Persecution Complex

GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio joined the Christian persecution chorus this week, suggesting that Christianity may soon be considered hate speech due to LGBTQ equality activism. Rubio told the Christian Broadcasting Network Tuesday that the debate over gay marriage has led to increasing intolerance of the religious values of conservative Christians.

“If you think about it, we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech,” Rubio said. “Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.”

The Florida Republican went on to warn that the debate over gay marriage has resulted in the social persecution of many Christian people and the faith itself.

“After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger,” Rubio added.

May 27 2015 5:53 PM

Mika Sings a Hymn to Gay History in New Single “Good Guys”

It might be because I recently published a long meditation on gay male culture and history, but damn if Mika’s new single “Good Guys” and the accompanying video doesn’t have me a little teary in the office today. The bittersweet song, which is from the openly gay artist’s fourth studio album No Place in Heaven (out June 16), is a psalm of pining for the gay past, explicitly so—the first stanza ends by asking “Where have all the gay guys gone?”

Mika’s skill as a songwriter is on full display here in a gorgeous arrangement benefiting from lush string, piano, and children’s choir writing. But the real draw is the song’s lyrical construction. Mika clarifies that he’s not just nostalgic for the heady days of pre-AIDS gay liberation (“It’s not the cowboys that I’m missing anymore/ That problem was already old in ’94”), but instead looking back to a time when gay men saw themselves as having something special to offer to the mainstream, or at the very least to each other. He acknowledges that gay exceptionalism is out of fashion these days (“Don’t be offended, this might seem a little wrong”), but then repurposes a line of Oscar Wilde’s into a moving hymn to the power and insight that can come from oppression: “If we are all in the gutter, it doesn’t change who we are/ cause some of us in the gutter are looking up at the stars.”

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The most touching part of the song is Mika’s séancelike summoning—“To all my heroes that were dressed up in gold/ only hopin’ one day I could be so bold”—of all the gay figures that have inspired him: W.H. Auden, James Dean, Walt Whitman, Cole Porter, and Jean Cocteau, among others. This pantheon comes after a striking bit of songcraft, in which Mika shifts “gay guys” to “good guys” in his question, insisting on the still-powerful equivalence “gay is good.”

The video, a stately contemporary dance number, is a perfect match for the song. Mika is moved around like a doll through a number of different personas by the dance troupe: a straight-laced businessman, a queen, an astronaut, and a prisoner sentenced to hard labor—probably a reference to Wilde’s debilitating time behind bars for “gross indecency.” Indeed, much of the choreography communicates a tension between external constraints and a desire to escape—a struggle all too familiar to the gay men Mika misses, and to many of his contemporaries today.  

May 27 2015 8:00 AM

What Ireland’s Same-Sex Marriage Vote Means for Northern Ireland

A month before the Irish people gave their wholehearted support to marriage equality, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted down same-sex marriage for the fourth time. It was embarrassing then, but after the referendum in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland’s status as the only nation in the British Isles willing to deny same-sex couples the right to marriage—an outpost of homophobic discrimination in Western Europe—is even more disgraceful and unjustifiable.

Northern Ireland’s ignoble status is, on one level, a product of the British political system. Marriage is a “devolved” issue, meaning that England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have their own laws on same-sex marriage. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which introduced marriage equality to England and Wales, did not apply to Northern Ireland, although the law did specify that same-sex marriages entered into in England and Wales are recognized as civil partnerships in Northern Ireland.

May 26 2015 4:58 PM

Eurovision Mixes Politics and Campy Fun Into One Big Queer Show

VIENNA -- By winning the Eurovision Song Contest last year, Austria earned the right to host this year's contest, the final of which was Saturday. But while 39 other countries, including distant guest entrant Australia, had traveled here for the competition, it only felt like an away game for one: Russia, which is increasingly viewed as a pariah at Eurovision for both its actions regarding Ukraine and its domestic discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The win by Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst last year was seen as a particular victory for Eurovision's significant queer fanbase, who, though stalwarts of the contest for decades, have grown even more visible as acceptance has increased around the continent. In an interview last week, Conchita explained to me why she believes the gay community has gravitated so strongly toward Eurovision.

May 26 2015 4:45 PM

Contracts Don’t Make a Family Any Less Natural

Oscar Wilde famously quipped that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Paradoxically, much of the testimony in his 1895 trial for “gross indecency”—which was reported in papers throughout the world—concerned his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, the very person who coined the phrase “the love that dare not speak its name.”

A little more than a century later, that love is on everybody’s lips.

In the United States we’re waiting to see how the Supreme Court decides the marriage cases it’s reviewing, and Wilde’s home country just became the first in the world to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples by popular vote. Freakishly smart and always happy to grab the spotlight, Wilde would likely have been one of the many Irish expats who traveled home to vote “yes” on the marriage referendum and probably would have taken delight in eviscerating the arguments put forth by nay-sayers, like Michael Brendan Dougherty, who claim that same-sex marriage is “unnatural.” Wilde would be right. It’s clear that when defenders of what they call “traditional marriage” have to justify their position, none of their arguments stand up to scrutiny.

May 26 2015 8:00 AM

Straight Women Flirt With Me, My Wife Flirts With Men

At my day job, which allows me the freedom to scrutinize the public from behind the safety of a cash register, I can generally guess which girls are queer, because the queer girls never meet my eye. Their glances dart up toward my head, take in my men’s haircut and button-down Sears shirt, then slide rapidly away from my eyes, never to return. As a lark (because I am utterly, indubitably married), I occasionally try to smile, tease, and flirt, which more often than not causes them to beat a hasty retreat. Queer girls just don’t flirt with other queer girls in public; straight women do.

Straight women also tend to peg me as a lesbian on sight. (Yeah, I’m just that gay-looking.) But unlike queer ladies, straight women flirt. Every day I’ll have a couple of customers who linger at my register, chatting and smiling, meeting my eyes and favoring my weakest jokes with a girlish giggle. While I try to maintain a certain professionalism at my place of employ, independent experiments suggest that compliments and even boldly suggestive comments from me do little to discourage these flirtations once they start. Quite the contrary: Some of the longest, lewdest, and most intense flirtations I’ve ever had were with women who were as heterosexual as they come.

May 25 2015 8:00 AM

The Straight Parents’ Guide to How Not to Raise a Homophobe—and How to Be a Better Ally

My son, who is 3 and a half, is obsessed with families. His stuffed animals come in clans, his cars and trucks in family units. When he sees characters in books or movies, a bug on the ground, or a bird in the sky, his go-to question is, “Where is his mommy?”

But up until fairly recently, his concept of family meant one mommy, one daddy, and now, one baby brother. Like ours. The fact that I, his mother, have met my biological father only once in my memory and have no siblings confounded him. But figuring out how to explain to him that families come in many shapes, in a way that would stick with him, confounded me.

Probably because, to be honest, I hadn’t really tried.

May 22 2015 3:30 PM

For Many Gay Men, Summer Means Circuit Time

Memorial Day is, of course, the official start of summer, and so, in honor of the holiday, the Outward team thought we’d share this delightful ad for a classic gay summer pastime: the circuit festival. While Outward has no official opinion on circuit parties—the large, dance-focused events that draw gay men from around the globe into one city for a few days and nights of bacchanalia—in general, we do heartily endorse this wonderfully over-produced spot for the weekslong August gathering in Barcelona and Ibiza. First, because it features Rossy de Palma and Chus Lampreave, two legitimate stars of the Spanish screen, in a sort of Rocky Horror send-up. Second, because there are lots of pretty, swim-suited people in it. And finally, because it is a prime example of the glorious frisson that can result when over-the-top campiness grinds up against highly coiffed sex appeal under the Mediterranean sun.

May 22 2015 2:53 PM

Of Course We Should Condemn Josh Duggar. We Should Also Pity Him.

A boy grows up in a controlling, cultlike family that rejects Enlightenment values and closes off much of the outside world. He is deprived of any conception of morality separate from a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. His intellectual and ethical development is stunted by reactionary, dogmatic views about gender and sexuality. He is told that women were made to be subservient to men, to be obedient to their masters. How should we react when it comes to light that this boy repeatedly molested young girls?

Because that boy is now 27-year-old Josh Duggar, much of the left has greeted the news of his molestation charges with a kind of derisive,jeering disgust. Duggar—star of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, oldest child of the right-wing Duggar family, and (until now) a key player at the Family Research Council, a certified hate group—has spent his career fighting LGBTQ rights. He has fought against marriage equality and LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances, suggesting that such laws could jeopardize children. His mother implied that trans people are child predators. His employer wrote that gay marriage and gay adoption should be outlawed because gay men are extremely likely to molest young boys. And at the same time he and his family were promoting these noxious views and using reality TV to build their fame, they were covering up Josh’s record of molesting multiple young girls as a teenager. (TLC pulled the show from its schedule on Friday.)

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