Only A Few More Hours Before 6 PM, May 21st–Those Expectiing “The Rapture” from Earthquakes Might Get It from Tasmanian Bomb

Sex bomb, that is.  This rapturous bomb got three big yeses from the judges in “Australia’s Got Talent” this past week.  It’s long past 6 PM in Australia.  Haven’t heard about any earthquakes there yet, but if they’ve got more “bombs” like this one, let the rapture begin!

Advertisements

How Language Bullies, But When It Might Be OK To Say “That’s So Gay”

“Say Something” seems to be Australia’s equivalent of the “It Gets Better” Project, a youtube campaign that was started Dan Savage, a Seattle columnist, after the rash of gay teen suicides last year.  “Say Something” has been set up as part of the 2011 Sydney Mardi Gras, one of the largest gay events anywhere in the world.

Matthew Mitcham, an out, gold medal diving champion in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has created his video, short though it is, for the Say Something project.  In it he advocates for eliminating the use of the phrase “It’s so gay” in a negative way.

Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this phrase used, except maybe on TV.  I’m not much around the age group, teens or younger, that probably uses this phrase.  However, I know I wouldn’t like it if I were a gay kid in middle or high school and had to hear it all the time.  Frankly, there are far worse words as derogatory syn0nyms for gay people, when they are trying to demean either gay people or even others that are not gay.

For the most part, kids use these stronger perjoratives because they got them from hearing adults say them.  When I was a kid, the “n”-word was the harshest, but  most often used, word that we called each other on the playground.  Strange though it sounds, we could use that word without admonishment, but knew better than to use “real” swear words, which today are commonplace in movies and the music on the radio.  There’s nothing surprising thses days about hearing them in so many rap and hip-hop songs, where they sort of get bleeped out.  But when I hear them come in songs like Enrique Iglesias’ latest hit, I get uncomfortable.

We used the “n”-word, not because we had ever met even one Black person, but because we heard the word at home.  “That’s so gay” seems to be somewhat like that.  The kids that use the phrase aren’t directly trying to be offensive to gay people because they are just saying something like “That’s so lame,” which was used not so long ago, and I expect, still is used by some kids.

And speaking of “lame”, what if the phrase being used were “That’s so disabled” or “That’s so physically challenged”?  Most people probably would find that more offensive than “That’s so gay.”  However, when”That’s retarded” was so popular, there weren’t too many negative ripples.

When it comes to being politically correct (though really I think it has more to do with civility than politics), it’s hard to keep up.  I seem to remember Lyndon Johnson using nigras (which doesn’t sound that different from the “n” word), and he was the President who signed the major civil rights laws in the mid-1960s.  Colored People was once OK; there’s still the NAACP.  Then there’s still the question of African-American (or Afro-American) or Black.

There’s a similar problem with people and newspapers using the term homosexual.  In fact, it has a very specific, somewhat clinical or academic meaning, but most of the time when used outside of certain fields of study, homosexual come with a negative connotation for labeling people, in a way that “colored” was once used by whites, when they knew that there was a more appropriate word.

Just like many use homosexual as a way of emphasizing the “sexual” aspect, as if that the only quality that characterizes us, they also employ the word to hit other people’s buttons that its the “same” sex.  And, “you know, doing with the same sex, well, that’s something so bad, because, you know, the preacher said it in church, and it’s in the Bible, you know.”

So it’s not are far stretch to the same negativity inherent in “That’s so gay.”  The negative connotation from homosexual is carried over to the word “gay.”

It’s really not much different than expressions that have applied to other groups.  I grew up with people using the expression of “jewing someone down,” not having any idea that it came from the negative stereotype of Jewish people.  I’m sure there are kids out there who, when comparing the sizes of dips on their ice cream cones, are screaming, “I got gypped (or jipped),” having no idea that the word came from negative stereotype of gypsies cheating or robbing people.

There are two sides to these pejoratives.  On the one hand, they make the language colorful and precise.  With the internet and other forms of technology, the English language is already being “dummied down” with all its LOLs and other shortcuts.   (Oops, can I say “dummied down”?)  On the other hand, words can hurt, and we know it.  People, especially adults, who use these words to belittle others know what they are doing. 

Newspapers, politicians, and preachers who use the word homosexual know that gay people don’t like to be called that, but they do it anyway.  In reality, it’s just a subtle way to bully.  Isn’t there a verse in the Bible that says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?  Doesn’t that mean civility and respect?

It all comes back to civility, doesn’t it?

If people want to use the line “That’s so gay,” they should really use it with the meaning “That’s so creative” because that’s a positive stereotype of gay people.  Think of all creativity put out by hair stylists (let’s go with those straight-thinking stereotypes), artists, playwrights, and composers.  Let’s don’t forget to mention Michalangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander the Great or some current creative gay people like Elton John, Ricky Martin, or Ellen Degeneres.

So maybe when (or if) you read something on here that makes you think a bit, you’ll say, “That’s so gay.”  But, hey, you gotta put the right tone in your voice or it won’t work.

Delhi Commonweath Games: Matthew Mitcham Gets Silver in 1-Meter Springboard, Looks Forward to Wednesday

Only because of listening to the BBC on KUHF ( Houston’s local public radio station) in the morning on my way to work did I hear about the Commonwealth Games 2010, taking place in Delhi, India.

Diving Determination--Matthew Mitcham at the Dehli Games (SMH photo)

The event is a sports competition among many of the countries which were once under the control of the British crown and takes place every four years.  The sports include many of those seen at the Olympics, but some appear to be those that would go with a “spot of tea”, like cricket and lawn bowling.

I was curious to see if Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gay diving sensation, would be taking part, and, indeed, he is.  In fact, in today’s 1-meter springboard, he took the silver medal to Canada’s Alexandre Despatie. Mitcham will compete again on Wednesday in the 10-meter platform, the event which put his name on the map with the Olympic Gold Medal win in 2008 in Beijing.

Update (Wed. Oct. 13th):  Matthew Mitcham finished second in the 10-meter platform dive to England’s 16-year-old Thomas Daley.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian “scored 509.15 points to claim his fourth silver of the Games and finish shy of 16-year-old world champion Tom Daley (538.35 points), whose sublime performance included one dive that earned perfects 10s across the board.”

Watch Matthew in a promo for the Dehli games:

Matthew Mitcham, Getting Funky, and Wins Another Gold in China, Soon To Be in Cologne for Gay Games

Matthew Mitcham and Funky Trunks

Over the weekend, the Australian diver, Matthew Mitcham picked up his second gold medal in China.  The 10-meter winner of the Beijing Olympics this time grabbed the gold in the same event in the FINA World Cup in Changzou, China, once again beating out Chinese competitors for the top place.

In other Mitcham news, the Gay Games will be starting in Cologne, Germany at the end of July and the Olympic Gold Medalist will be attending.  However, Mitcham will be there in support of the the games themselves, making appearances, but not competing.

Perhaps he will be appearing in his Funky Trunks . . . because the Australian diver has signed on to become a spokesperson/model for the swimwear company that like Mitcham hails from the “land downunder”.

View from the Suburbs: Bottle Brush Trees–Unexpected Dazzle

Today marks exactly five months since I began living in my house, though I had actually closed on it about two weeks prior.  I’m finally feeling that I’m at home; the strange feeling of being in the wrong place (no matter how happy I was to have bought the house) no longer is there.  Though there are still some remaining pictures and other decoration to be put up, I have the rooms set up as I will probably keep them for some time, and with all that, I have a warm, comfortable place in which to live.  I feel at home.

Last week, I had my first house guests, as a matter of two in one week.  A friend from Japan came and stayed overnight, and then my sister came and spent most of the weekend.  Having people in the house was fun.  I didn’t feel “squeezed” as when people had stayed with me in my apartment.  The fresh guest bedroom and bath worked well, and all the better for not having to share mine.  I’m looking forward now to having others come stay in the future.

Despite the five months’ time, there are still surprises, like the small drawers right in front of the kitchen sink to hold sponges and stoppers that I discovered for the first time last week.

Closer view of the "brushes"

A bigger surprise is the brilliance of the bottlebrush trees at the front corners of my house.  The glistening red-orange “brushes” began opening about ten days ago.  They are both loaded with buds, and I’m told, will last all through the summer into the fall.  I had only seen small bottlebrush bushes before, and none had the dazzling show that these trees are making.  Knowing nothing about them, I looked them up, finding out that they are a type of evergreen that comes from Australia.  (My guess is that’s the first time I mentioned Australia here without starting with something about Olympian diver Mathew Mitcham.)

My somewhat primitive garden is also doing well so far despite the bad, sandy soil.  I now have onions, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and even sunflowers.  So far, they are doing better than I had ever expected.  I’m hoping that this beautiful spring weather that we’ve been having–bright, mild days and cool night–will continue longer.

New Interpretations Bring Modern Fusions into the Classic Argentinian Tango

“Meloncholic” is how I think about tango music, not really a genre that I’m pulled towards very often. But just like in the previous post, which focused on some of the music coming out of Australia, I “stumbled” again, this time onto how gay artists in Argentina are bringing “new life” into that classic style of song and dance.

Gerar Flores and Agustin Rombola make up Kurdha Tango Gay, which is giving a gay flavor to some old tango classics; the one they are performing in the video is called “Los Mareados” (I’m not going to bother going to my dictionary, but it means something like “The Seasick Guys” or “The Guys with Hangovers”–take your pick or have a laugh at my translating.) The original comes from the 40s, but these guys are giving it, what some are calling a “gay tango fusion”.

When it comes to dancing the tango, another pair of dancers, Augusto Balizano and Miguel Moyano, are steaming up the dance floors in Buenos Aires, putting their own personal style into the dance that is thought to have started in rough port neighborhood of La Boca (that’s the area of the city we think of when we envision the old, multi-colored buildings).

“Stumblin'” into Memories of Neil Young via Austrialia; What IS Matthew Mitcham Up To These Days? And ‘Faker’–Nothin’ Fake about It

One of the first “real” albums that I ever had (not cassette) was Neil Young’s Harvest, and I’d play “Heart of Gold” countless times on end. By chance, this morning, I found a cover of that song done by Australian Lior and Canadian Serena Ryder. It’s a rendition that will give a shiver to any Neil Young or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young fan.

I stumbled upon a little bit about Lior, who is an Israeli-born, Australian singer-songwriter, who seems to play mostly in concert, so there are not a lot of videos that are not just from concert takes. One, “Superficial”, which is what I’d call more “Indie” type, I like a lot, so I put in my Vid Box, which you can click into on the right. It’s not an “official” vid but it’s pretty cool, nonetheless. If you want more of Lior’s stuff, check out his “Burst Your Bubble”, which you can find on youtube and also myspace.

I say “stumbles” because I was looking to see what has been happening with our Australian diving guy, Matthew Mitcham. At the moment, he is competing the FINA Diving World Series; the most recent leg of this competition was held at Pond’s Forge, Sheffield, English, where Mitcham placed fourth in what appears to have been an event loaded with the world’s best divers.

Nathan Hudson, lead singer of Faker

Nathan Hudson, lead singer of Faker

Another of this morning’s “stumbles” landed upon the Australian band, Faker, who for a better description, I’d call “the 80s done up in an ’09 ‘do'”. Check out a couple versions of “This Heart Attack” on my Vid Box; the Miami Horror Remix is definitely worth a couple of listens. Also check out Faker’s myspace page. And yes, Faker’s lead singer, Nathan Hudson, is another gay Australian who came out about a year ago.

As I said in a previous post, if I were back in high school, I’d have Matthew Mitcham’s pic slapped somewhere inside my locker; I’d also go out and buy some of Faker’s music (latest album is Be the Twilight), but, hey! maybe I’ll go to that today–and I’ve been out of high school along time.