Is the end near? Will there be an exodus from Exodus? From Planet Out News ( 1/29 ) we hear that an English chapter of the ex-gay ministry group Exodus has gone dormant. Why? According to leader Jeremy Marks, "After 14 years none of the people we've counseled have converted [ to heterosexuality ] no matter how much effort and prayer they put into it." He said basically they're all still gay and will focus on being gay and Christian.
The Chicago Tribune ( 2/4 ) has a reference to the dedication in Paris of a square re-named in honor of the African-American singing/dancing legend Josephine Baker. Thanks to my colleague Marie Kuda for pointing out the rest of the story: Baker's affair with torch singer Libby Holman. The relationship also went unmentioned in a recently re-run film on TV for Black History Month. Holman is chiefly remembered as the good friend and chief drug supplier of actor Montgomery Clift.
The Chicago Tribune has an analysis of the Fellini film of 1970, Satyricon, arguing that it belongs to the class of hubris-ridden over-the-top ( and down-the-valley-and-into-the-woods ) movies. Well, yes, especially when its overwhelming interest is " ... anarchy and vice, and the main manly pursuit is the pursuit of other men."
The New York Times ( 2/4 ) has an article about the recent attempt in France to field equal numbers of male and female candidates in most elections to build a more representative democracy. There are similar movements in Spain, Austria, and Germany. Perhaps such a movement ought to be encouraged here. A side benefit for lesbigays would be that women of whatever political stripe tend to be more supportive of gay and lesbian issues than men. And quick, encourage women before they read The Surrendered Wife: A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion and Peace With a Man. Laura Doyle's new book as reviewed by The New York Times ( 2/8 ) is turning into a ( we hope ) minor media event. Oprah's people have called, and Doyle's been on the Today Show. Her next book will no doubt tout the advantages of the permanent veil, and of burning Steinem and Friedan at the stake.
A front-page Chicago Tribune article ( 2/6 ) says "30% of gay black males have HIV ..." The study was done in Chicago and the results released at the 8th Retrovirus Conference, also in Chicago. Previous surveys of this situation focused on whites, but this study was more broad based. It found that gay men across the races are exhibiting more risky sexual behavior. There is an additional hurdle among African American gays in that there is a greater stigma about homosexuality among African Americans than among whites, according to Dr. Darlos de Rios of Emory University, an expert on AIDS in inner cities, quoted in the article.
Achy Obejas writes of Reinaldo Arenas in the Chicago Tribune ( 2/7 ) . Arenas' autobiography is the basis for the new film, Before Night Falls. She knew Arenas—"We were both Cuban, both queer, both writers." She critiques the movie by saying it missed his two big obsessions: his twin hatreds of Fidel Castro and Cuban Miami. Cuba had set up forced labor camps for gays and Arenas was imprisoned in Mora Castle. When he came to Miami in the Mariel boatlift the conservative Cuban community ignored him. Obejas points out the irony of Arenas' lionizing now by the exile Cubans and the American lesbigay community, neither of which had any use for him before, and the further irony of his popularity in intellectual circles now in Cuba, where his books are not available.
From Michael Quinion's weekly new words column "World Wide Words" from mid-January ( and to this column by way of Fr. Grant Gallup in Nicaragua ) comes confirmation that the Greeks had a word for everything. Rhaphanidise means "to thrust a radish up the tush" used in Greece to punish adultery. Obviously not a serious crime, points out Fr. Gallup, unless Greek radishes were seriously hot ( no ) or seriously large ( no ) . The Romans, however, used a red mullet fish for the same purpose—the Romans were always more anal than the Greeks. They should've met MAFIA ( and not the Italian ones ) for some truly serious tush-thrusting.
Finally, a little note from the Chicago Tribune on our close relatives, the bonobos. The bonobos, once thought to be a kind of chimpanzee, but now known to be a separate species, are even closer DNA cousins to us than the chimps. 98% of our genetic structure is the same as the little upright ( they're not knuckle walkers ) bonobos. They're being killed by the hundreds in the Congolese war and like humans, they have a culture. But what a culture! "Unlike other apes—and humans—where the males usually rule, bonobos are governed by females. Cooperation ... [ results from ] ... almost constant sex." Bonobos " ... were seen to have sex across virtually all gender and age barriers, thus defusing group tensions and aggression." Would it work for humans? Can you imagine Tipper and Laura ordering the Shrub and the Bore to go off and have a good time together? Get over it, boys!
Jim's e-mail address: email@example.com