View from the Gloryhole

Growing up I learned a lot about having to cover for whom I really was. Thirty or so years ago there was no such thing as the LGBT community in the public view. In fact, merely saying that you were gay, lesbian, bisexual or experimenting could be the difference between life and death. During that same period, I witnessed witchhunts in the military, at school, in the church, and community of those that didn’t fit the straight model citizen approach. Any person not straight or straight-acting learned quickly to lie or make up any excuse from being identified as gay, lesbian, or any deviation from the public norm. Back then it was a matter of pure survival in a world filled with machoism and legalized beatings based on fear.

 

As I grew older, I began to find people somewhat like myself. There was an unwritten and complicated code of “people like us” or “friends of Dorothy” styled references that would ultimately allow ones guard to be let down for a brief moment. That guard was immediately restored if something traumatic or raised suspicion within the close-knit community. It was an era and continues to be, a somewhat traumatic for those raised during a period of pre-LGBT history.

 

As people would let down their guard and become comfortable there were two sets of identities to utilize. One would be your gay friends. The others would be those that would never meet your gay friends – thus the alter-ego of straightness. While songs by the Village People, Soft Cell, Indigo Girls, and Culture Club could let you off the gay hook, one had to be careful not to be singing Madonna loudly “Like A Prayer” or Cher “Believe” with drag styled hand motions. Otherwise, your secret is no longer a secret.

 

While LGBT issues appear to have significantly improved over time so has the opposition that demands nearly criminalizing anything gays have tried to highlight. As the wall of guilt and shame eventually were removed, it was straight people that began to outnumber gay patrons at predominately gay establishments (talk about a confusing time to differentiate who is gay, really gay, with the girlfriend, or secretly wishing they were with a guy instead of the girlfriend, or the dreaded “this is my first time here” liner). Gay marriage finally passed, but straight people are still trying to figure out who is the groom or bride in some weird traditional comparison. Of course, wedding cake makers seem to be devout Christians for some strange reason, and we seem to be living in a world where anyone can wear a rainbow shirt. But that is where the party ends, and queer life goes back to being really gay leaving the community divided, displaced and minimalized.

 

I watched a world where AIDS was joked upon by President Reagan and fear from contracting HIV was similar to blaming the cat for the spread of the plaque. Today HIV testing is buried and defunded yet infected rates continue to climb. Hate crimes are still relevant today with gay club shootings or random killing acts that capture the headlines of the evening news that are quickly forgotten. The George Michael days of public restroom cruising, Gloryhole arcades (yes, they called them arcades), exclusive LGBT hookup sites such as Craigslist, Men4RentNow, and many others have been forcibly removed because of claims of possible sex trafficking. Much has changed over the past decade. What has incredibly changed the most is how LGBT issues and rights are once again becoming a campaign moment that somehow “the gays are responsible for terrorists” ideology? Despite all the religious-right talk, there is very little of people actually countering to argue back. Keeping silent is pretty much just as the same as agreeing with the rhetoric.

 

There was a time were acquiring condoms, birth-control, or other sex-related items primarily came from people in the LGBT community – sometimes for free to promote safe and responsible sex values. However, today sex education is removed from the educational curriculum or most meeting establishments. Those free condoms, birth control or other informational handouts have been criminalized leaving all communities vulnerable.  Once again, the gays seem to take the blame.

 

One upside to the gay community is that more men are allowing themselves to become a bit more promiscuous because of the #metoo movement. If you think your man is over at a buddies house watching the game? – Think again! Some men are actually fearful of engaging in conversations with the opposite sex or having one night stands for fear of being sexist or possible false accusations. Therefore, the gay community is once again open for business to take care of what straights usually fuck up in the first place. But without condoms, education, and a way to become connected with a buddy system so will the rise of hate crimes, STD’s, false allegations, sex crimes, and other violence will undoubtedly begin to trickle again making the gay community the villain in these cases. That’s just how politicians want to paint that canvas – but the gays know how to add vivid color!

 

It is funny that history always seems to know exactly how to repeat itself. There are no real official spokespeople for the LGBT community. There are many advocates and high profile celebrities. But rarely will that celebrity status be used unless it benefits that individual. I don’t visualize Tim Cook, Peter Thiel, or Lady Gaga gunning for LGBT issues – unless of course, it profits their wallets. The new gay has become the professional and closeted gay saying, “what happens in my bedroom is none of your business!’  That may be true and valid, but society has a vulgar and graphic way of depicting any image it wishes to pursue. The facts remain that children that are LGBT are usually subject to abuse, homelessness, depression, PTSD, living two lifestyles, and disconnected from mainstream society. The programs once with highlight and mantra of the LGBT community has become an app or some weird paid online subscription trying to fix someone that isn’t quite yet broken but looking resources.

 

The gay bars, bookstores, gloryholes, dance clubs, anthem icon singers, and follies of gaydom seems to finally have ended. A few remaining protestors continue to fight to be the instantaneous posterchild for fifteen minutes of fame before becoming the lightning rod of the Republican party or religious-right groups. Perhaps we need to bring those infamous Gloryholes back? It could stimulate the economy and excite a few returning Republican Party members and religious-right patrons- as they were the most significant contributors to the Gloryhole society.

Advertisements

The Social Media Carousel

Following the news is much like watching an old-fashioned style carousel. While you may focus on a particular rider or object, there are plenty of distractions along the course of the ride. Decades ago our news was filled with somewhat credible and journalistic issues. Game and cooking shows could take our mind off of severe problems while soap operas would introduce a moment of drama to be shared with those that shared similar television interests. Naturally, there was Donahue or the Morton Downey Jr. show, which were the first talk show formats that included audience participation. Seeking tabloid journalism was as easy as standing in the checkout lane at any grocery store USA. That form of journalism was shunned but still a part of the gossip world. Overall the decorum of gossip entertainment and social etiquette is contrasting different than today’s standards – or lack thereof.

With the introduction of cable, satellite and streaming media content the world of news has become more of an entertainment value. Newspapers that once provided journalistic standards are barely surviving and slowly being replaced with opinion-based talk shows. Decades ago popularity of an individual could be solely based upon if you encountered a busy signal trying to reach a friend or by a frenzy of a pop culture performer appearance on your favorite television program. The internet and streaming media has removed the anticipation effect and replaced it with a 24-hour social media tracking device with special mobile alerts to keep individuals informed. If The Beatles would have been as popular today as they were fifty years ago, then JFK Airport would be empty except for the hordes of paparazzi trying to get an exclusive photo to post it on the internet.

Americans have desperately been trying to “cut the cord” to expensive cable or satellite television subscription services. Folks have resorted towards streaming media content or social media for what they consider as credible information with a feeling of being heard or connected. The United States was founded on the pursuit and discovery of freedoms. One of those foundations is the free enterprise system. However, that free enterprise or accessibility indeed isn’t free. What used to be free television with rabbit ears and a bit of tin foil has become an al la carte cash cow for social media content providers, television networks, and internet providers. If you want to skip past the commercials, be prepared to pay a premium fee. But finding credible news or events that impact community or awareness is now buried behind the Kardashians, Twitter rants or whatever was the buzz feed from TMZ.

Americans cannot cut the cord or change the level of dignity because we desire to keep up a war on something. It is embedded in our DNA and fabric as a nation to be fighters. We find it difficult to determine what we are fighting for and how to follow a particular platform. This is why politics is broken, social movements have division, and society desires to blend only if they think like me. We love to gossip and read about it. Otherwise, the National Enquirer would have been bankrupt decades ago. The risk of bankruptcy is local newspapers, libraries and the arts in general. Apple and Samsung will continue to profit because something new will be released to capture our eye. Somewhat like the carousel but without it ever stopping. We are all riders attempting to influence others to join us as long as maintain Facebook, Twitter, social media, dating sites, and receive our news from Apple or Samsung and its subscribers. President Trump has been smart (and I use that term loosely) enough to watch us all fall into the trap of “what will he say or Tweet next”?

Technology hasn’t made us any smarter or better multitaskers. In fact, I would argue that social media, television, mobile devices, computing, and other factors have developed us as codependent attention deficit thinkers seeking the quickest remedy with not credible returns. This is not to suggest to turn back the clock. However, it is a warning that we should tone down our rhetoric and use a bit more decorum, comprehension, and listening skills. Whoever is on television today will undoubtedly be on tv the rest of the week because the internet and subscription services never die.

Perhaps that irrational gossip-laden program can be replaced with random acts of kindness such as providing your dog or cat more attention (I doubt they watch television or play on the internet). Calling a friend or family member on the telephone (no texting allowed) and listening to them. Reconnecting with family and loved ones that typically hear from you on holidays. Sitting down with your favorite book or newspaper and that homemade cup of coffee that didn’t cost you $5 with your name scribbled on the side of the cup. Enjoying a moment of sanity in your world may bring you to the reality that you are no longer are on the carousel. Enjoy it while you can.

The Decade​ of the Sexual Diet

Unknown

Growing up I often would hear euphemisms “Batting for the other side instead of homosexual” or “Sleep together instead of having sex.” Within that context, I would often hear the words, “badass,” “Um-hum,” or “go for what you know.” American culture lives deeply rooted within a complex system of worded slang.  Pop culture reinforces such slang with mature body language or subtle nods to perhaps relieve a labyrinthine of situations replaced with instantaneous vocal and verbal cues. The approach is somewhat universal and inferred. However, under the increasing scope of the #metoo movement, slang, and body cues are being dissected and interpreted as nonconsensual.

Throughout Hollywood film culture there have been iconic films such as “Fast Times At Ridgemont High,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Porky’s,” “Risky Business” and many others. Within each of those films, there were instances of consensual and nonconsensual situations with many body cues and generational slang. However, the audience understood and interpreted what went too far – or did they?  If those movies were released today, there would be a sudden outcry about victimization and statutory offenses. Naturally, there are generational interpretations combined with visible cues to assert yes versus no. However, to understand that one would have to be connected to that particular generation to fully understand.  Based on the #metoo movement and its thin-skinned assessment it may be safe to conclude that Fifty Shades of Gray would be renamed to Black and White?

There was a time during the early days of television and film where two people being in the same bed was strictly forbidden or taboo. Yet that particular generation understood what two people in the same bed meant.  To American culture, there appear to be two divisions where religious or upstanding citizens demand immoral behaviors to be censored or disguised in hidden suggestive content. The other side wants a more realistic portrait of everyday living society ridding of the racy content. Somewhere along the way the two intertwined and began demanding its own social media script revision campaigns thus the interpretation value has become convoluted. The same euphemisms, slang, metaphors are mentioned without leaving a viewer to interpret what is right or wrong. Usually, the next day film and social critics begin hammering out its agenda on how artistic value creates moral complications or sets the stage of assaults. Actually, its movements and critics that do more harm to the value of art because its film, television, music, comedy, and novels that paint a colorful picture of the real complicated world we live in. There is no such thing as black versus white because humanity was not intended to all react in a unifying manner.

Rather than look at the present, specific movements want to exploit the past to make its case and how it affects the present. That does have a ring of truth. However, history proves to be circumstantial and passionate. It has its language and consent standards based on that particular period. For example, the soulful and teasing song Drive by Melissa Ferrick how to beg and reject sexual advances all at once.  Let’s not forget the iconic Rick James and the bouncy hit Give It To Me Baby where the lyrics exclaim “I’ll make you holler if you’ve had enough.” In fact, the period where rape was identified during the Rick James era was leaving bruises, visible marks, and scars. Today simple consent seems to be withdrawn after the act is over because the thought has set-in. It may sound far-fetched, however, this is the current generational ground zero because of influential critics with ambiguous interpretation and imaginative view.

Anyone with condoms tucked away in a drawer thinking about STD’s or safety conscious are characterized as predators by today’s standards. Additionally, one-time hookups could be interpreted as the sexual hunter or assholes that must be dealt with if he/she fails to return texts or calls. It is so overly complicated that even the most consensual sex could potentially unravel and become sexual assault within seconds based on the wording, verbal cues, body language, and failure to use proper words. Essentially, gone is the days of passion and sexual appetite. Social movements have set out the unforgiving scales of shaming and placed us all on sexual diets.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Joan Rivers said it best, “comedy is about everyone laughing to deal with issues.” That always resonates with me because we have honestly forgotten how to laugh. We have become so politically divided mixed with safe spaces that I fear that comedy is officially dead. Where is the freedom of humor and expression? Other comedians have mentioned similar negative cultures at the way we dissect comedy or simple jokes. Not all of us are born to be comedic. However, we should be mindful that having some laughter is critical towards our survival of dealing with pain and issues.

I watched a recent comedy show by the talented Lewis Black. During his appearance, he mentions that telling a joke about President Donald Trump isn’t funny anymore. Lewis went on to say that simple jokes have become toxic and divisive. There was a time where we could openly joke and speak without becoming a headline of misinterpreted hatred or labeled as discriminatory. This is where comedy and the ability to laugh has become a secret society or deemed not appropriate because it may affect someone. Folks, we must become a bit more thick-skinned than taking everything personal or literally. Humorous stories have been replaced with hurtful gossip and accusations where only the professional comedian is allowed to tell the joke; not before feeling the audience reaction. In some cases, the joke may be bleeped or edited for a broader audience. Based on that path we have censored laughter or regulated it. This is sad as an American in that should be living in a free speech world. Instead, our national comedic value has become an innuendo or suggestive setup where we are supposed to understand the punch without actually saying it.

Perhaps Joan Rivers was right to say we have become uptight assholes. Her brazen comedic talent was in your face like a therapist forcing a patient to deal with the core issue. George Carlin also tacked the same attitude values of comedy, Carlin pointed to nervous laughs because of how others may judge us. The point Carlin stressed, was to laugh and move past the problem. We have become ultra sensitive and critical of anything. Safe spaces do not facilitate or help to deal with issues. Safe spaces are no different than those suffering from PTSD that refuse to immerse themselves in situations. Therefore safe spaces only foster isolation and depressive behaviors.

It is time for us to laugh again and stop attempting the utopian society of false free expression. Naturally, there is a time and a place for humor, but sometimes it is best for us to relax a bit and become human rather than preprogrammed and neutral. You won’t find honesty in that value statement. If laughter is known as the best medicine, then we certainly have run out of supply or the ingredients to help heal the world.

Fake or Credible Internet?

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared today before Congress to discuss issues of possible Russian election interference. What I learned from that discussion was that internet providers are not as transparent as they claim to be. It has been a long-standing unwritten policy that the internet will not be controlled by anyone or any company. What we perceptively learned today was that the big internet giants have an interest in revenues and public image. Naturally, they do not wish to be labeled as “controllers of free speech.” But what about television, mail adverts or newspaper media flyers. They are regulated by many rules and regulations, and the deliverables of that particular irregularity or false product could be held liable for distribution not to mention investigators will be serving search warrants and filling up evidence boxes for later court dates. Such false advertising or false production is similar to snake oil pitches. Eventually, the salesman and the product can be banned and criminally charged if it causes harm.

The internet can be a dangerous place. It does have a unique mystique about it, and the data it collects and shares can be compared to a diamond mine depending on how one desires to implement a plan. But the internet today is not the porn hub central that once was deemed the 1990’s deviant playground. Today, the internet has become a part of our connected world with ala carte news and home appliance device connectivity. This is a differing contrast to European and foreign markets that protect user information. The internet has become dangerous because we have created conditions for it to be hazardous. Without fundamental enforceable law and boundaries, we have allowed the internet to be policed by not companies and people but instead analytics and software. This is not to imply a conspiracy theory of artificial intelligence taking over the world. Alternatively, the implication is that software is not human enough to determine what is real versus what is not. But to take that argument a bit further, many Americans have difficulty in distinguishing between fake or credible.

Based on that little snippet of discovery it will be hard-pressed for any prosecutor to effectively rule on the Russian election hacking issue. Not because of evidence, but because of the complexities of election laws differing across state lines and internet data servers that typically reside outside the United States as a form of redundancy and backup qualities. Let’s not mix up collusion with election tampering. Collusion is a secretive path to data where tampering is a physical adulteration of data. But I think it is equally important to ask tech giants to disclose to government or a branch of oversight how it maintains its secretive or propriety paths. For example, today I performed a random search of Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp separately. What I quickly discovered was that Spacey had all the press information while Rapp had similar linkage. There was not one negative search story about Rapp to include alternative viewpoints or discussions. Why? Is it that analytics immediately point to what is deemed credible or is it what tech giants want us to read?

Overall, it is very complicated, and any legal ramifications about internet tampering will ultimately set a new precedent of how we or others police credible data. Another question to ask ourselves “does metadata exclude opposite viewpoints on purpose because it deems them as false?” This would be the argument I would introduce because not one blog or publication raised issues with Rapp. I am not attempting to slam Rapp. I am only using this as a prime example of how information seems adulterated and selectively scrubbed while searching for it.

The bottom line is that tech giants have an agenda and we the people are its product. Naturally, there won’t be much transparency from tech giants because that would remove a large slice of income and data collection from its grasp.  Google, Facebook, and Twitter currently monopolize our data where we do not own ourselves or our privacy any longer. Until someone breaks up the monopoly or peels back the onion of these companies, we will continue to witness distortion and snake oil pitches that seem all too real. Perhaps the internet and another nation adulterated our recent election by creating emotional harm. At what point will it become perilous where many people die or are harmed because the internet has succeeded credible standards seemingly no longer used because it’s not technical or high speed sufficient?

America’s Failed Obsession With Sexual Assault

The recent barrage of sexual assault claims and allegations do nothing more than demonstrate how disproportionate the powerful are over the unknown. If this had been Joe Spacey and Mark Rapp from Anywhere, USA there would be a formal criminal investigation because little or no power is utilized. Anthony Rapp waited thirty years to come forward however allegedly told his friends and others about the encounter. Rapp is not sharing a story. Instead, he created a situation by using his status as power. This is no different from others that commit sexual assault and their quest for power or dominance; should that be the motive. Using a dangerous platform such as social media and networks to share a story rather than a professional therapist, doctor, or legal counsel is not a conversation. It is merely an attempt to seek power and reinforcement of control by others. Rapp seems to lose his credibility when he says he was the last person at the party watching TV in Spacey’s bedroom. I find it highly suspicious where any 14-year old seeks to spend time at a party by watching TV alone in a strangers bedroom. I am unsure what excuse Rapp told his parents about his whereabouts? However, I am sure there is another trail of lies and deception. Similar to the trick Rapp initiated by these almost seemingly “fresh” allegations.

There will always be a sexualized charged pop culture. The hordes of girls (and guys) waiting backstage at rock concerts of the past were almost a rite of passage. Band members, groupies, and stagehands were all equal participants in the sex scene. It still happens today. Data supports evidence that sexual curiosities are often peaked at events where high profile or famous people are. However, Hollywood is the first of a tumbling wall of skeletons in the closet and other entertainment or popularity based headliners will eventually be mentioned, accused, or investigated. What we are witnessing today is an adulteration or adaptation of the facts of past culture versus current culture allowing power and influence based on new policy or regulation. Kevin Spacey and others that perhaps made poor choices years ago are on public media trial today because others want or desire to abuse power based on their celebrity status or introductory profile. Surely others will throw their own spin of accusations with minor infraction but create major implications. However, the modern oligarchist society wants to identify behaviors from the past to rectify in the present based on power creating a false majority. If Rapp had a drunken man perform the same actions at an NYC subway station would the situation be immediately reported or thirty years later? Again, its nothing more than constructive abuse of power and a rush to absolute judgment. Our rush to judgment, especially about a past incident where no physical, sexual contact took place has become nothing more than the modern day Salem Trials where any form of mistake or interpretation endures no forgiveness or apologetic closure. If this had been nobody we had heard of then the story would have been shut down well before it began.

Sexual assault, rape culture, and other sexually driven motives should be a conversation on how to move forward. If there is a criminal element, then naturally there is a course to deal with that particular set of conditions.  Instead, the conversation has turned into gang warfare tactics and hatred where only one side is doing all the yelling and finger-pointing. At what point do we return to the conversation which becomes an educational tool for all? As long as social media and unqualified social justice warriors shift the conversation to a single platform based on power, then free societies will become a presumption of guilt until proven innocent. Lives can quickly be destroyed at a whim of allegation or misinterpretation of the facts. That is not freedom and fails to follow in the footsteps of our ideals of “justice for all” standards. Let’s return to the discussion without the name calling. Let’s fix and discover ways to heal and educate everyone fairly and openly.