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Letter from the Editor -- July 2000

A lot going on this past month, with gay pride, and everything else descending on San Francisco.

Walking around gay pride this year was a good time (with my purple hair and silver glitter), although realized at the event that I am becoming more and more disenchanted with GLAAD. Don't get me wrong, I have been a support of theirs in the past, and am totally behind their efforts to fight internet censorship and such. (I've even written an artivle for their Access Denied 2.0 book that is distributed to every member of Congress. Click here to download the PDF of the report, which includes my article)

The stuff I am disenchanted with centers on Dr. Laura, with a little bit of Eminem, too. Now, let me be clear, I'm no fan of Dr. Laura.But I am a fan of free speech, and I think GLAAD is walking a thin line between attacking her advertisers, and trying to affect her right to free speech. If some whiny, Bible-thumping chick (whose nude pics are online) wants to tell people negative things about gays, I don't think we should stop her. I'm a big believer that the wackier and moreinsane the messager for "their side," the better off we are. It's the same thing as Fred Phelps, who shows up everywhere with "God Hates Fags" signs. I think we should let the wackiest people on the right do damage from the inside. When Fred Phelps held up his signs at Matthew Shepard's funeral, other religious people backed away from him and were more supportive than they might have been otherwise.

So, I'm all for pressuring her advertisers, and I do think Paramount is sleazy to be making so many shows with positive gay characters, with openly gay producers and crew, and then bringing someone like Dr. Laura in to making a mad grab for ratings by attacking us. But, I will admit, I'm nostalgic for people speaking their minds. This whole "compassionate conservative" nonsense that we get from the new right and people like George W. Bush makes them harder to pin down on things. They speak one way and act another. Bush will never say anything that gays will find offensive, but he will surely pass legislation that hurts gays. Hopefully, we can contain him and let him only affect the gay population of Texas, rather than spreading his ineptitude to the rest of the country. I mean, his father was anti-gay, and it made things much easier to work with. Reagan and Bush were totally anti-gay, through their words and deeds, and for most of the AIDS Epidemic, their silence. But I think it's more refreshing to have people who dislike you openly dislike you and not sugar coat it.

Which brings us to Eminem, who is selling an amazing number of albums with The Marshall Mathers LP (OK, I admit that I'm linking to it just to annoy people). The lyrics have a lot of things that the press and, of course, GLAAD, have deemed anti-gay. Of course, they are anti-gay, but they pull the lyrics out of context, which would show that Eminem is anti-everything. That doesn't justify the anti-gay lyrics, but to only focus on the anti-gay lyrics is a disservice. I also think Eminem is humorous. Some people do not enjoy his humor, and immediately think no one should listen to it because they don't appreciate the joke. I don't think Eminem is necessarily anti-gay himself, it seems he will attack whomever best fits the rhyme. But no matter what you think about Eminem, once again, the approach is wrong. GLAAD avoids the free speech issue which would obviously blow up in their face by pinning the blame on the label for distributing it, and insinuating that anything that happens as a result of this album would be their fault.

GLAAD has published an exhaustive list of the anti-gay lyrics from the album, which you can read here if you are so inclined.

I guess I should be happy if the biggest issue we face as a community are a young, punk rapper and old, bitchy talk show host.

Also spent a lot of time this month at the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival here in town (they say lesbian and gay, but I use FDA standards whereby the majority of ingredients needs to be listed first). The festival seemed to be the worst of the five years I've been attending. I think we went for the "celebrate diversity" vibe more than the "quality film" focus. I mean, I think it's cool if some lesbian from Tonga makes a film (a made up example), but if the film sucks, pick something better. I've seen amazing films from other cultures in previous years: East Palace, West Palace was one of the first films from China to explore gay themes at a previous festival, and other films from Africa and other moves have previously been delightful. But this year, it just seemed to be quota filling. Not to mention that MANY movies had the gay characters in minor roles and the heterosexuals in the lead roles. I'm not anti-straight, but at a gay film festival, the whole point is the gays being front and center. Let's hope they get things better put together next year. This year, I didn't buy the rich white guy pass, like I have in previous years (which lets me line jump and go into any movie with no advance notice). I'm glad I didn't support the festival more than buying tickets to the shows I attended.

Hmm, seems like I'm bitching more than anything this month. Oh well...

Thanks.

 

 

jeff@oasismag.com


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