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The Domestication of HIV      March-April 2017

BTW

 

Out Came Iceman A retronym is a word like “landline” that renames a familiar item when something new comes along. With the advent of the Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 2.41.50 PMcellphone, we learned we’d been using landlines all along—who knew? Something similar happened in the realm of superhero comics, and the upshot is that Marvel’s Iceman is, and always has been, gay. First, a little background: The X-Men sometimes appear as their younger selves; and they can time-travel. So, a while back, in the interest of inclusivity Marvel decided to make the young Iceman gay—no big whoop. But wait! Does this mean that somewhere along the way, Iceman went from being gay to straight? How did this happen? Readers wanted to know, and eyebrows were starting to lift in the GLBT community. To its credit, Marvel dealt with the dilemma head-on, allowing the younger Iceman, through time travel, to confront his older self about the contradiction (in total violation of the time-travel paradox). The upshot: adult Iceman had to come out as gay, or retro-gay, as it were. The news was welcomed by the mainstream press: “Marvel’s Iceman Cometh Out,” mused The New York Times. Suddenly all those heterosexual flings of the past had to be seen in a new light: Iceman had been secretly gay all along.

 

Follow-Up on the News Remember the “little ditty” about two Michigan politicians—Republican state reps Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat—who got into hot water last summer when it came out that they were having an affair (Nov.-Dec. ’15)? That part was routine enough; it got weird when Rep. Courser decided to spread a false rumor about himself. In an anonymous e-mail to the House leadership, he accused himself of having sex with a male prostitute behind a Lansing nightclub and of being a “bi-sexual porn addicted sex deviant” and “gun toting Bible thumping freak.” His logic for promulgating this tale was that it would be so shocking to voters that anything else would look tame by comparison, e.g., his actual affair with Gamrat. Both Courser and Gamrat were thrown out of the House in early September, but to everyone’s surprise they decided to run for their vacated seats in last November’s special election. Well, the results are in, and they both lost badly—Gamrat with 912 votes, or nine percent, Courser with 415, or four percent. The cluelessness of both candidates is evident in these vote totals. The fact that Courser got 500 fewer votes is probably due to the whole “gay rumor” ploy, which exposed him as something more than just an adulterer. Call it the idiot penalty.

 

How the Pope Was Played Many people felt dejected when Pope Francis, on his recent visit to the U.S., met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, becoming a media sensation and a cause célèbre of the religious Right. It turns out both Davis and the papal meeting were creatures of a shadowy organization called the Liberty Counsel, which specializes in evangelical Christian litigation—a kind of ACLU in reverse. From the outset, it was clear that Davis was getting aid and succor from some outside source. A middle-aged clerk of limited intelligence doesn’t suddenly stage a rebellion and then push all the right buttons to trigger a media circus. She knew that the Liberty Counsel—officially listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center—would come to her defense, as indeed it did, with great fanfare, when she was arrested for malfeasance. What’s trickier is how the Counsel caused the papal meeting to occur. Being traditionally hostile to Catholicism, an evangelical outfit would seem an unlikely catalyst for such an encounter. According to The Daily Beast, they worked through Archbishop Vigano, the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., who’s known for his hostility to same-sex marriage. Vigano had already flirted with U.S. evangelical groups, attending a meeting last spring of the National Organization for Marriage, which declared him the “official representative of Pope Francis.” So he was game for the Counsel’s gambit and agreed to arrange the meeting with Davis—apparently without informing the Pope of who this woman was or what she represented. The Right touted the event as an anti-gay coup; a spokesman for the Pope downplayed the meeting. Davis was removed from her post so that gay couples could now be married in a Kentucky county.

 

Gun-Oil-H2O

Know Your Lubes The homology between guns and penises has been exploited in language and marketing: both are said to “shoot”; both are gauged by their size; and both have to be oiled from time to time. So perhaps it’s not surprising that there’s a gay-oriented lube called Gun Oil H20, and, less surprising still, that it’s carried by Walmart. It’s meant to be stocked in the pharmacy, but every so often it’s routed to the gun counter by mistake. One customer in Alabama bought the product and made a video that went viral on YouTube. At first he liked what he saw on the label: “Long-lasting lubrication with easy cleanup. Glycerin and paraben free. Wetter, lighter feel than silicone.” But then he got to the part about “ginseng and guarana to promote blood flow,” and he knew something was amiss. Actually, the “H20” in the name should have been a tipoff that this is a water-based product containing no oil. So, chances are it would slowly rust your gun rather than lubricate it. Which is an outcome that many legitimate users of Gun Oil H20 might be okay with.

 

dildos-150x150Guns and Dildos Texas has passed a law that will allow people to carry guns on all public college and university campuses. So a group has sprung up at UT-Austin called Campus (Dildo) Carry that plans to have its members carry dildos in their backpacks as they come and go on campus. It seems the university has a rule that outlaws carrying a “visual image associated with obscenity.” Remarked one organizer: “You would receive a citation for taking a dildo to class before you would get in trouble for taking a gun to class.” The agitprop is the brainchild of Jessica Jin, who chose the dildo as the forbidden object for its inherent humor value, but also because of its phallic connection to guns: “They each have the power to masculate or emasculate at a moment’s notice. … Dildos and guns are in it together for the long haul.” For this reason, backpack scanners at UT will now have to get good at recognizing the difference.

 

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