December 29, 2009
Posted by: Chris
Here's a 2009 year-in-review story you probably missed. Back in September, the lead singer of Korea's most popular boyband was forced out of the group for questioning the sexual orientation of the whole friggin country:
Boy band 2PM’s career was at its peak this year because of their song “Again and Again;” that is, until a scandal broke in a matter of days that forced its leader, Jaebum, to leave the group. The controversy started when netizens found “anti-Korean” comments he wrote on his MySpace account before his debut in the Korean music scene.
“Korea is gay. I hate Koreans,” wrote Jaebum, a Korean-American, who left his family in the US to start his career in Korea. The controversy spread like wildfire and in a matter of days, Jaebum announced that he would be leaving 2PM and Korea for good. Since then, his fans have been campaigning to bring him back.
Yes, I know he meant "gay" in the juvenile sense of being "stupid" -- an insult that topped the charts in the U.K. this year. The supposed slam also seems a bit pot calling the kettle black coming from a dolled-up boy bander. (Same goes for you Brit-boy bullies, too.)
Still, it was amusingly depressing that the resulting firestorm focused entirely on his slam against Korea, not against the gays. (Not that there's anything wrong with Koreans, mind you.)
December 28, 2009
Posted by: Chris
Perennial candidate Andy Martin is riding a free media wave by buying a few radio ads repeating gay rumors about his Senate primary foe, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill.):
In the radio ad, which aired today on WGN-AM and WBBM-AM, Martin attributes a "solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual" to conservative Republican businessman Jack Roeser. Martin's ad also claims that Raymond True, the chairman of the conservative Republican Assembly of Lake County organization, says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals. The ad says Kirk should address the rumors.
True has since denied questioning Kirk's sexual orientation, though he admits to some McCarthyist gossip that "there were some people on his (Kirk's) staff that had a special orientation." Isn't that "special"?
The state GOP dismissed the advertisements as "bizarre," something the party isn't always so quick to do with the gay-baiting is aimed across party aisles. That characterization would seem apropos, given these nuggets dug up by the Chicago Tribune:
In federal court filings from the 1980s related to bankruptcy proceedings against him, Martin called one federal judge a "crooked, slimy Jew, who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race." He also expressed sympathy to the perpetrators of the Holocaust. …
Martin gained some attention during last year's presidential contest by contending President Barack Obama was a Muslim and contesting whether Obama was born in Hawaii.
Nice to see the "birther" claims take their rightful place alongside other ethnic smears.
As a practical matter, Martin's 15 minutes should have little impact on the race. Those who would vote against Kirk based on a gay smear aren't likely to back his Democratic foe, whoever that will be, in the general election. What's more, even conservatives are finding it easier to vote for the sinner while hating the sin.
FYI, Kirk's bio on his Congressional and campaign web sites make no mention of a wife or family. Then again, they omit any refernence to his law degree from Georgetown either (too inside-the-beltway?).
It turns out his divorce from Kimberly Vertolli came through this summer, and Kirk brought along not one but two beards -- ahem! dates -- to a White House luau. Kirk called the ladies, who work behind the snack bar in the GOP cloakroom, "kind of cute" -- which makes me kind of wretch. But that's just me.
December 26, 2009
Posted by: Chris
This little ditty from John McCain's flight home after voting on Christmas eve against expanding access to health care for the uninsured:
After voting against the Senate's health-care bill Thursday morning, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) caught a commercial flight bound for the Valley of the Sun, and along the way home, he was peppered by fellow passengers with a host of health-care-related questions.
McCain, sitting in a first-class aisle seat, was greeted by Phoenix-bound passengers on the US Airways flight who jokingly asked if he got what he wanted for Christmas. (The answer was no.)
One passenger asked if, as his Christmas gift, McCain could help legalize same-sex marriage. The senator laughed it off.
Ho, ho, ho, Senator McCain. Hope this marriage traditionalist remembered on Christmas to call his first wife -- the one he dumped after she was disfigured in a traffic accident while waiting for his return from Vietnam.
Along those lines, something McCain ought to file under "elections have consequences" -- it's an oldie but goodie:
Posted by: Chris
Knee-deep into an interesting article about the efforts of librarian Charles Gehring to rediscover New York City as New Amsterdam is this fascinating vignette about the anti-gay persecution, and ultimate death, of an important early Dutch leader in the area:
Mr. Gehring’s translation of the journal of Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, a barber-surgeon and a likely ancestor of Humphrey Bogart, was turned into the graphic novel “Journey Into Mohawk Country,” by the artist George O’Connor. The journal chronicles van den Bogaert’s journey through the Mohawk Valley to Oneida, a pathbreaking trip in the winter of 1634.
Years later, van den Bogaert was made commander of Fort Orange, site of present-day Albany, but fled back into Indian country after his fellow colonists discovered he was gay. Van den Bogaert was pursued by the Dutch, captured and brought back, but he escaped when a sheet of floating ice damaged the fort. He drowned in the Hudson before he got very far.
That's a far cry from the famous tolerance toward homosexuality we associate with NYC, the Dutch and Old Amsterdam, albeit with some notable exceptions. Any takers for a van den Bogaert statue for the Village or Chelsea?
(Illustration of van den Bogaert is from "Journey into Mohawk Country" by George O'Connor)
December 21, 2009
Posted by: Chris
And so it seems like since the holidays last year that I posted here, and I'll say more in upcoming days and weeks about the twists and turns I've taken since my summer break from blogging. The good news (at least I hope you'll see it that way) is that I'm back, and I plan on posting on a much more regular basis -- if not the 5-7 posts a day I was averaging during my Brazilian period.
Christmas 2009 finds me back in Memphis, my hometown, where I spent the Yule season last year as well. Visa restrictions and an empty wallet forced me to leave behind my partner and all my friends in Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo this summer, and after a few months in Atlanta, I'm back home visiting family before I make the long drive back to Washington, where I plan to settle down for at least the immediate future -- unless the booming (by comparison) Brazilian economy coughs up a job offer first.
The six months my boyfriend and I have spent apart are by far -- almost double -- the longest physical separation in our relationship since we met in February 2005. My heart is filled with saudades, a Portuguese word without literal translation, although longing and missing someone or some place or thing come pretty close. The emotional toll, and the stress of not knowing when or how we will see each other again, much less live together again, has been almost debilitating at time. Of course, those feeling are only amplified by the arrival of this time of year.
Still, love conquers all, or so they say, especially with an assist from techological marvels -- finally I own an iPhone! So in the spirit of the season, and to wish you and those you love a very merry Christmas, here's a special gift: rare 13-year-old video footage of Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn in one of their final performances as the Sweeney Sisters on Saturday Night Live. It somehow got skipped in this year's SNL Christmas Special, and you won't find it anywhere else on the Net, or at least I couldn't.
Without further ado… here come the bells, there go the bells, so many bells!
You can also view it using QuickTime after the jump...