Rufus Wainwright is out, with an impressive debut

By Jeff Walsh

On his debut, self-titled album, Rufus Wainwright's piano-laden songs of love and loss are brilliantly executed. When I first heard it, it didn't fit into any typical genre. It had a timeless quality to it, as any good music should. The words and music were on their own poetic and beautiful, and only improved when intertwined.

I had become aware of Wainwright in a backward fashion. I first read a few mini-interviews with him in the national gay press when his album was released. So, I did know his sexuality going into my first listen of the album. But, I didn't listen for the "gay parts", as I am sometimes wont to do. Yes, he talks about boys when pronouns are specified, but it is very much in the background, with the phrasings and melodies being far more interesting to me. I honestly still can't tell you where he mentions boys, as I've never bothered to dissect the songs. In concert, he recently mentioned one of the songs was about River Phoenix, but without him mentioning it I'm not sure I would ever have gleaned the inspiration.

I can't even tell you what his CD itself looks like, because as soon as I received it in the mail I immediately put it in the stereo, and it has never found its way back out, over a month later.

Willi Wagner, 17, of Fayetteville, Ark.

By Jeff Walsh

Willi Wagner never wanted to be out in his high school. He was outed in the ninth grade, and left school after his sophomore year, due to constant verbal and physical attacks. Wagner and his parents, with the help of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, filed a sex discrimination complaint to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the United States Department of Education. The complaint was the first filed under Title IX on behalf of a harassed gay student.

Gay politico David Mixner talks about Clinton, Congress and controversy

By Jeff Walsh

David Mixner and President Clinton were born three days apart. Both dreamed of serving their country, but there was one difference between the two men. Mixner is gay, Clinton (quite obviously) is not.

In his brutally-honest and fascinating book "Stranger Among Friends," Mixner chronicles his life in politics. He was responsible for organizing the largest march to protest the Vietnam War, and has been active through the time he was a high-ranking openly gay advisor to then-Governor Clinton in the 1992 campaign.

Chad's World to hit the Internet this month

By Jeff Walsh

Former teen actor Brock Pierce, whom you might remember from his starring role in First Kid (which also starred Sinbad as the security guard protecting the President's son), is moving from in front of the camera to behind the scenes as the producer for Chad's World.

Chad's World can potentially change the cultural landscape for queer teens online, moving us beyond the printed pages (not that we at Oasis think there's a problem with that medium, mind you) to target marketed television shows. Episodes of the show, which come out every two weeks, will be available as large downloads or streaming video. They will also be available for purchase on DVD, CD-ROM and video tape.

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Steven Cozza, 13, of Petaluma, Calif.

By Jeff Walsh

Steven Cozza is on a mission. He wants the Boy Scouts of America to recognize that they are being hypocritical about their policy of not allowing openly gay members to serve as scouts or scoutmasters. For the past two and a half years, Cozza has marched in gay pride parades, set up tables in the middle of gay meccas getting signatures on his petition and has spoken out about why the Scouts need to follow their own words.

It's not just an oxymoron anymore...

New Eric Marcus book explores the hidden world of queer relationships

By Jeff Walsh

I remember reading Eric Marcus' book The Male Couple Guide when I first came out of the closet back in the early 90s. Well, I remember the first chapter which, as I recall, was entitled "Finding a Man."

I never read anything past the first chapter of that book, because I had never "found a man." There seemed to be little point in continuing the relationship journey of the book if my own life was endlessly trapped in the wicked loop of the first 22 pages.

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"Jocks" aims to bring hope and support to gay athletes

By Jeff Walsh

Let's clear things up right at the beginning. I'm not a jock. Never liked sports, never got the point and don't think I'm missing anything. I work out a few times a week at the gym Out Magazine called "ground zero for the San Francisco gay-body high society" in its most recent issue. I hate working out, and not just because I'm surrounded by hunky models who seem as though they're enjoying what I find torturous. It just never clicked with me.

But Dan Woog and sports click -- big time. He's a high school soccer coach, freelance journalist and the author of the recent Alyson book: "Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes."

Sam Francis, 23, of Los Angeles, Calif.

By Ron Belgau

Real men cuddle.

Sam Francis is a man with a mission: to provide an alternative voice for gay men who want more from gay culture than ads for killer abs and articles about sex, drugs, and HIV. Arrow Magazine, his newly launched webzine for gay men, takes a different slant on gay culture: it is the first and only magazine aimed at gay men that features monogamy, romance, commitment, and a balanced approach to life.

Tim Miller explores his body of work in new book

By Jeff Walsh

Tim Miller was the first naked man I saw after moving to San Francisco from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. in June 1996. Two days after I had arrived, he was performing his show "Fruit Cocktail" for a one-week run. I didn't yet have my own apartment or a job, so I was trying to be frugal, but I knew I had to see him.

His name had somehow etched in my mind as I was coming out, after seeing a picture of him in some New York newspaper, probably the Village Voice. He was performing "My Queer Body" in the city the week I was planning to drive into town and see a show. I already had tickets to see Larry Kramer's "The Destiny of Me" and I didn't think my straight friend would handle going from an AIDS drama to a naked performance artist in the space of two hours.

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The lesbian couple behind the National Day of Silence

By Beverly Greene

Who says that our youth are too self-centered and lazy to make any real difference in our world today? The National Day of Silence is a perfect example of how the vision of one young woman can become a passionate appeal for humanity and how that one small objective spiced with a lot of determination can grow into international activism and awareness.

Bawer 'steals Jesus' back from fundamentalists in new book

By Jeff Walsh

When I heard Bruce Bawer was coming to town as part of his book tour, I immediately knew I wanted to attend. Partly because I had enjoyed his controversial book, A Place At The Table, which was released a few years ago, and partly because I expected controversy.

Since A Place At The Table was released in 1993, Bawer's name is constantly brought up in the gay press. He's against gay pride, sex-negative, conservative, assimilationist, you name it.

Walking to the Metropolitan Community Church, my view of how he was perceived was confirmed when people walking behind me referred to Bawer as being part of the Gang of Four, which refers to four recent outspoken "critics" of certain aspects of gay culture. (Michelangelo Signorile, Gabriel Rotello and Larry Kramer being the other three, I suppose).

I admit, I expected there to be some sort of scene during his question and answer period. The pastor of the church said members of Sex Panic! were in attendance, but just sat quietly and didn't say anything.

Bawer, on tour promoting "Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity," delivered his book reading from the pulpit of the church as he explained his motivation for writing the book, which explains how religion has gotten so far off-track in this country.

Tom Beddingfield, 19, of San Jose, Calif.

By Jeff Walsh

On January 21, in Sacramento, Calif., Tom Beddingfield stood on the steps of the state capitol and, for the 27th time, spoke about why he became an activist, or rather the events that led him to activism. And for the 27th time in public, he had to relive the love and loss of his boyfriend, Brandon, who shot himself on March 9, 1996.

Beddingfield was speaking as part of Youth Lobby Day, which drew 300 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth from all over California. There was a rally, then individuals met with their local representatives and attended workshops.

Blue Period set to deliver product this month

By Jeff Walsh

Blue Period is about to launch onto the music scene this month with their first al-bum, Product. The San Francisco band describes its sound as glittery hard rock meets dark arty pop.

The band is fronted by Adrian Roberts, a 29-year-old self-described omnisexual gender-morphed tranny freak. Swirly Rat Jr., the 35-year-old bass player for the band is also queer. The rest of the band consist of Matt Chaikin, 35, on drums; PF, 29, electronics; and Christopher Hogan, 26, guitar.

Controversial author predicts demise of gay culture

By Jeff Walsh

With the release of The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, Daniel Harris stirred up a lot of arguments within the gay community. The book tracks the assimilation of the gay culture by straight culture, and lists drag and the gay aesthetic as some of the likely casualties of assimilation.

Harris, 40, of Brooklyn, N.Y., recently spoke to Oasis about his book and what many of its messages mean to the queer youth community.

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A Q&A with Daniel Harris done by Visual AIDS

"The Kitschification of AIDS" was one of the most controversial chapters in Harris' book, "The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture," containing his disturbing analysis of the AIDS Quilt.

In some senses, "the kitschification of AIDS" could be replaced with "commodification"; how does the media representation of people with AIDS become part of the "marketing package"?

In The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, I talk a lot about the marketing of what I call the "AIDS product." My thesis is this: in the early stages of the epidemic, the Reagan and Bush administrations refused to allocate the money necessary to cover basic costs of research and treatment, with the result that movie stars, and not government officials, became the epidemic's statesmen, its panhandlers, the ones who were forced to seek alternative sources of funding out in the open market, in charity balls, rock concerts, and fashion benefits. Because of insufficient federal funds, activists were forced to turn the disease into a commodity and sell it to the public like any snack food, compensating for the lack of government support with private support, with charitable contributions, which they extorted from the public by arousing pity for the victims, by packaging the epidemic in sentimental clichés that reduced potential donors to a state of maximum susceptibility. The more money that was needed for the disease, the kitschier it became. Had the Republican administrations of the 1980s been more responsible, the epidemic would not have spawned nearly as many sentimental images which activists designed expressly to overcome consumer resistance and prime the pumps of private contributions. So I see kitsch in crudely economic terms, as a practical response to federal irresponsibility, which provoked a massive PR blitz as tacky as any advertising campaign for a new shampoo or a dish detergent.

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