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Gender Studied      January-February 2017

BTW

 

Outside of Convention The Republican National Convention seemed equally divided between vitriol and wrath, but at least some of the delegates were having a good time, and the result was a yuge upsurge in business for Cleveland’s male sex workers. One hustler reported that his income surged six-fold during the four-day event; another took in an unheard-of $800 per day. The great thing was, they didn’t need to travel all over the city but could remain right around the Quicken Loans Arena. Commenting on the delegates who hired them, escorts reported that most were married, many were in their forties, a lot came from Texas, and most were first-timers. Trying to account for the large number of closeted Republicans, one escort mused: “When it comes to anything people aren’t supposed to be doing, they like to do it”—a nice précis of a conclusion that it took many pages for Freud to reach. Once you make something taboo, it’s all people can think about; it takes on a life of its own. Curiously, female prostitutes reported a downturn and even a collapse in demand during the Republicans’ big week. The best explanation is that most of the delegates, unlike the usual conventioneers who come to Cleveland, brought their wives along and couldn’t get away—except for those who could.

 

Trump logoTake It, P!  Okay, it didn’t last long, but there for a few brief shining moments—before Facebook madness forced the campaign to pull it—the newly minted Trump-Pence logo offered a penetrating take on the letters T and P. Descriptions of what the two letters were up to ranged from the vulgar to the polite, but there was no debate over which letter was the “top.” So, the logo was soon withdrawn, if not the letter T.

 

Church and State The Catholic Conference of New York state has in recent years hired some of Albany’s top lobbying firms to help block a bill known as the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice. To date, the CCNY has spent millions on lobbying efforts. It’s hard to know whether this says more about our political system or our religious institutions. What it says about the Catholic Church, which might be expected to embrace legislation that protects young people from abuse, is that the Church itself is vulnerable to prosecution for child molestation, so lobbying to protect sexual predators is simple self-preservation. Of the political system, it reminds us that anyone with a legal problem can, for a fee, trigger a mechanism that’s ready made to sway politicians to their side. The CCNY, for its part, went right to the top and hired the state’s largest lobbying outfit, Wilson Elser, and number three firm Patricia Lynch and Associates, both of which have close ties to Albany politicians. And so far it has worked. While the bill came up for a vote every year from 2006 to 2008, it has not come up again since the lobbyists were hired in 2009.

 

A Spectator’s Sport The massacre in Orlando was a tragedy for the GLBT community, but also for the American Islamic community, because the shooter was a Muslim and claimed an affiliation with ISIS. But from the vantage point of televangelist Pat Robertson, always looking for the silver lining in a mass murder, this one was a twofer. So, he began: “This Islamic gentleman [sic!] opens fire in a gay nightclub and kills almost fifty homosexuals. We’re looking at a favored group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death.” Robertson’s advice? “The best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.” It used to be that Robertson stuck to blaming disasters like Hurricane Katrina on gay people; now he can scarcely contain his glee when his two favorite enemies seem to be killing one another. This, apparently, is Robertson’s answer to a question he often asks: “What would Jesus do?”

 

If Walls Could Talk A fun piece in the Times returned to the sites of some of the raunchiest gay bars and sex clubs that once dotted Manhattan and found that a surprising number are now fancy or funky restaurants. Thus, for example, a lighthearted dessert venue called the Sugar Factory at 835 Washington St. inhabits the space once occupied by the Mineshaft (1977-’85), which featured hanging harnesses and communal bathtubs that were not for used for bathing. An upscale Mexican place called Dos Caminos (675 Hudson St.) used to be the Vault (until 1997), a hardcore S&M club. A touristy hamburger-and-hot-dog joint near Times Square (691 Eighth Ave.) was once the Adonis, a porn theater until 1994, where the movies were interspersed with live dancers who would come into the audience offering hot dogs of another kind. And the Liberty Inn Hotel—today a nondescript spot on 14th Street—was once a multi-level sex bar known as The Anvil. It seems these gay venues have been replaced by their ironic opposites in an age of gentrification.

 

Get a Clue! An anti-gay group infiltrated Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade in July, seeking to discredit the GLBT gay-zombies-cannabiscommunity by looking ridiculous while claiming to be gay. Billing themselves as “Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumers Association,” the group was led by the notorious Christian extremist Bill Whatcott, who was convicted of hate speech by a Canadian court in 2015. They appeared in the parade as pictured; no commentary required. What’s surprising is their belief that these get-ups would be seen as shameful, or even especially remarkable, in a pride parade. Sure, zombies are kind of creepy, and these outfits are hideous, but did they really think that billing themselves as pot smokers would turn people against them? This is why we’re winning the argument.

 

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