My way or the highway: Gay etiquette book trades on stereotypes and typos

The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, by Corey Rosenberg. (2011, Chelsea Station Editions) $15. 120 pp.

Oscar Wilde, as usual, said it best: “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.”

Corey Rosenberg’s current-day homage to homosexual decorum, The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, deftly seizes upon Wilde’s Victorian-era kernel of truth and expands it into a post-modern banquet of American gay, fast-food sensibilities.

More pamphlet, unfortunately, than book, Rosenberg’s opus would have benefited greatly from decent editing: Wise amelioration would certainly have gone a long way toward persuading Rosenberg’s readers to trust his voice. When he refers to himself in the preface as, “the consummate host,” the reader is absolutely ready to follow him down the path of how to do the right and proper thing; sadly, when he goes on to own up nobly to some “shear [sic] and vile behavior,” the reader is caught flat-footed by poor editing.

Unacceptable typos aside — even in a book professing to divulge proper gay etiquette — Chapter 1’s title alone, “The truth about ‘pleases’ & thank you’s’” is too littered with grammatical heresies for any person (say nothing of whether they’re gay) interested in learning proper behavior to take cues from this puffery of sheer syntax laziness; that said, Rosenberg is spot-on regarding why one should never forget to say “please” or “thank you.”

How this common-sense wisdom applies to gay men exclusively is not elucidated upon, except the dismissive assertion that, “attitudes of entitlement are a commonality in the gay community.” Bullfeathers! This reviewer, as a card-carrying member of the club himself, has a very difficult time accepting the cliché of all gay men being self-centered prima donnas.

The book is a puzzling

parade of mixed-message brevity. Chapter 3’s full 110 words, entitled “The Gym,” rather preciously proclaim, “Please remember that the only person you are meant to compete with at the gym is yourself;” yet, Chapter 13’s subject, “Being Attired Properly and Appropriately,” states, “A respectable gay man never wears a skimpy Speedo unless his stomach is tight, his skin is a few shades darker than a wintry shade of pale and he is under the age of 50.” Which is it: Are gay men only complete with themselves when they’re young and physically attractive to others; or are they only complete with themselves once they’re too old to pass for under-50?

At worst, Rosenberg’s guide to gay propriety is an innocuous piece of fluff, like bellybutton lint illuminated by a reflected disco ball’s ray upon your trick’s glistening, shirtless torso.

Rosenberg does offer useful visuals on how to loop a genteel bow tie knot, even if he doesn’t tackle acknowledging the difference between modern life and yesteryear: As he attests in Chapter 18, “Social climbing is a sleazy act of using people to quickly achieve higher rank or status within the community. A proper young man knows the difference between innocent social networking and skipping lines and climbing ladders.”

Here’s to all “proper” young men, then — past, present and future.

— Howard Lewis Russell

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Fur is murder

ANIMAL INSTINCT | Daniel Hauff equates all livestock to the gentlest house pet. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

… but eggs are worse. Mercy for Animals’ Daniel Hauff is among many gay folk passionate about animal rights

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

In an area of the country where meat consumption and hunting are often equated with American values, taking on an industry can seem like an uphill battle. But it’s one Daniel Hauff is happy to fight.

Last week, Hauff — the national director of investigations for Mercy for Animals, the pro-vegan, animal rights group — held a press conference where he reveals horrendous treatment of catfish in local fisheries. He called on the district attorney to take action, and the Texas Legislature to prohibit the vivisection of animals, including fish, in the state.

It’s just another day at work for Hauff, whose job is to reveal the truth behind how animals are treated in a variety of contexts.

“Absolutely everything that has to do with protecting animals goes back to an undercover investigation,” he says. And he’s the one responsible for getting it done.

Eddie Garza, MFA’s campaign coordinator in Texas, says there are few people in country who do what Hauff does — and he’s probably the only gay person doing it.

“There are a lot of the LGBT community” who are active in protecting animals from cruelty at all levels, Hauff says. MFA itself was founded by a gay 15-year-old, Nathan Runkle, more than a decade ago. Garza is also gay.

“MFA at one point had a campaign coordinator who was transgender. I think a lot of the reason for that is commonality of looking at oppression. I assume a lot has to do with growing up gay and having to deal with people spitting on you for who you are. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes [is common for us], and I am now a lot stronger person for having endured it.”

Hauff certainly has the background to give weight to his cause. He attended DePaul University, where he read international studies with a concentration in human rights and social justice. “I was studying genocide and intending to get my hands dirty in human rights work,” he says. Instead, he shifted his focus to animal rights.

Hauff had been a vegetarian for several years, starting in high school, but eventually abandoned it. Then in 2005, he saw a video that churned his stomach: A raccoon dog being skinned alive.

“That sort of opened my eyes,” he says. “My partner Reeve came home and knew something was wrong. I was actually crying in the alley after I saw that video. I knew that there wasn’t a difference between my dogs and the animals we were eating.”

It so affected him, Hauff decided to do something he hadn’t before: He went completely vegan overnight. Reeve supported his decision and went vegetarian that week, eventually becoming a vegan as well. (Their pets are also vegan.) And he became active volunteering with Mercy for Animals.

“Within a year I had become so involved with MFA I applied for a job. I decided to do my year in-service for animal rights instead of human rights,” Hauff says. He expected the work to be a brief stopover on his path to human genocide studies, but five years later, it’s still his profession.

It’s not easy work, but it is important — to him and the creatures he seeks to protect.

“The first undercover investigation for MFA that we did that was employment-based,” meaning operatives for MFA go undercover in slaughterhouses and other animal-based industries, applying for jobs and then cataloging abuses and law violations. On the last day of the investigation just concluded in Texas, Hauff himself was wired with a hidden camera, interacting with the people in the abattoir (though he admits his duties generally don’t put him undercover).

Hauff also works with veterinarians to improve treatment, as well as with Temple Grandin, the advocate for humane treatment of animals celebrated in a recent TV movie. But in truth, Hauff sees everything short of veganism as half-measures.

“Temple reduces suffering, but it’s not kind in any way. I have never seen an animal going to their death without fighting for their life. We could walk into any slaughterhouse Temple Grandin has designed and still be horrified,” he says. “It’s often standard practice that we’re revealing.”

Hauff says he considers the egg and dairy industry far crueler than meat consumption itself. He doesn’t expect everyone will ever become a vegan like he is, but that’s not really the point.

“There are less cruel ways of doing things,” he says. “It’s about reducing suffering.”

And the more people know, the better they will be about making choices.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Bow to foreign biases: AFA’s Smith mines commonality from homo-hostility

The far right’s latest talking point regarding DADT repeal? The one that says pro-equality activists are being culturally insensitive to those who “potential adversaries” who wish to dislike LGBT people.

This from the American Family Association’s David P. Smith:

The same people who are so thrilled about this change are also the same ones who preach to us all about how our nation and military should be less offensive to these nations who are our enemies. These same people apologize for American ideals and actions on a regular basis and bow to foreign leaders. There is a complete lack of analysis of this new military policy in this context. If we are to be more sensitive and understanding of these other nations, then our nation’s recent actions certainly are not going to accomplish that goal. It is bemoaned regularly how we need to be politically correct and accommodating to those of Islam, but the same people who believe such things are now offending greatly those whom they say they want to be more sensitive.

As stated on the website of the Center for Military Readiness, “Conspicuously missing from the list of 25 gay-friendly militaries are potential adversaries China, North Korea, and Iran. Their combined forces (3.8 million, not counting reserves) are more than two times greater than active-duty forces of the 25 foreign countries with gays in their militaries (1.7 million).” Our nation is thought to be a Christian nation by many of our adversaries and what this new policy demonstrates is something that certainly is not Christian, but will bring even further persecution of Christians trying to exist in these nations. It will bring further hatred of whom they call “The Great Satan” and even further emboldening against our country. One thing that these nations are right about is that this new policy is not of God.

David P. Smith: Don’t Ask-Don’t Care Undermines Our Nation [AFA]

Interesting how homo-hostility is always the one thing on which these folks find agreement. Why is this the one form of faith-based discrimination that’s supposedly right?!

The answer, of course, is that bias against LGBT people, regardless of motivation or justification, is just as wrong as that which has stifled women, people of color, people of varying faiths, the differently abled, or any other population that falls outside a majority or supposed norm. It is not insensitive to oppose Islamophobia and homophobia: It is both logically consistent and inarguably humane! And this is true even when the persecuted individual in one scenario is the persecutor in one another. Because it’s a sweepingly peaceful view within our shared world that deserves our determined focus, even if/when individual human shortfall within that world’s spectrum misdirects what could be, should be, and hopefully will someday be a unified progressive vision.

***

*Note: Remember, it was the AFA’s Bryan Fischer who said of Islam: “let’s choke off violent, anti-semitic ideology and actions wherever we find them, whether in the meetings of skinheads or in the mosques of America,” and who has said that “Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America.

But as for any Islamic condemnations of homosexuality? Conserva-awesome, natch!




Good As You

—  admin

Will Cornyn remember Log Cabin singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife next time he screws us?

Our first report from Wednesday night’s Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner comes from The Standard-Times of San Angelo. Anti-gay Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who accepted an award from the gay GOP group and spoke at a reception prior to the dinner, reportedly told them he was amazed at the controversy surrounding his appearance there:

“I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion,” Cornyn told about 60 guests at the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee.

They listened, clapping enthusiastically at times, to the Senate’s chief fundraiser the day after the social conservative voted to block the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military. The LCR is leading a legal fight to repeal the ban.

Cornyn also opposes same-sex marriage.

The event was closed to the press, but an audio recording showed that those attending the event sang “Happy Birthday” to Cornyn’s wife, Sandy, after he told them it was her birthday Tuesday.

“I’m sure you have made her day,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in the recording provided by an attendee of the PAC reception.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright

Because we all have our struggles

By Polly Browning Team Ride With Pride

We all have stories, our universal commonality. We have stories of experiencing joy and laughter. Some of us experience pain and hardship on a daily basis, while others of us support and care for those who struggle.

We all share one constant: We share in the making of these stories, either alone or with others.

No matter, once again, this coming Sept. 25-26, on what is the 10th anniversary of the Lone Star Ride, we all come together and know we are not alone. For two days and three nights, I get to be “just a number” again: Number 202, one rider among many.

I get to blend in and be a part of something much bigger than myself, much bigger than us all.

I have been asked to share my story. I’m humbled and hope I can do more than speak for myself, which is way too lonely. I’ve learned that our words and experiences are more alike than different.

My name is Polly Browning. I may not live in Dallas (too far from my Longhorns!), but as of September 2009, my wife and I (me being a rookie rider and Sarah being the rookie sweeper — and the cutest one, in my opinion) will now be temporarily located in Dallas once a year.

How did I get here? Laura Kerr invited me to ride a few years ago.

I remember her telling me at the time, “Polly, I need to warn you. If you say ‘yes,’ be prepared because you will be addicted to it and will be a ‘lifer,’ forever committed.”

I took on the challenge. And I immediately fell in love with this organization and its members.

As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many individuals and their families impacted by HIV and AIDS. It has been an important cause my family has supported.

But why would I choose Lone Star over staying and riding in Austin? All you have to do is come to the closing ceremonies of the Lone Star Ride, bring an open heart and watch, listen and let it all in. You will experience something indescribable and you will understand.

There simply are no words for it. For all participants, observers, whomever, you simply cannot go away with an untouched heart. Laura, I love you dearly for believing in me enough to introduce me to Lone Star.

I am a licensed clinical social worker. I am currently in the fourth year of my doctoral studies in the social work department at the University of Texas — Austin. As such, convincing me to participant in the Lone Star Ride wasn’t too difficult.

My personal path took a drastic turn in my first year in my Ph.D. program. I became someone I didn’t know at all.

I was in horrific pain. I was unable to compose my thoughts, either verbally or in writing (just a tad important to a student). I lost most of my ability to write, to move my fingers and most joints, including my feet, and my back. Any slight breeze (regardless of temperature) felt like razor blades on the skin of my arms, hands and feet.

My eyesight was affected. My ability to balance was gone. It became impossible for me to walk on my own. My wife, Sarah, got me a really cool blue walker and committed herself to making a belt to brace me in so I could be pushed around.

I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease: RSD, or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, now called CRPS. They are still trying to figure the rest out.

The types of doctors I began seeing were foreign to me. I had every blood test, MRI, scanning this and X-raying that, and doing it again and again. The patients in the waiting area were often diagnosed with terminal illnesses, most much older than me. (It’s okay to ask — I’m 45 years young.)

No longer was I the helper, the server, the therapist. Now I was the client, the patient. The one who needed to learn how to ask for help, a skill I had not yet developed very well.

After fighting back, I began to let help in. I had to let go of my vanity, all my humility and accept the fact that I couldn’t solve it on my own.

After having a serious back surgery filled with titanium and fusions, I was restricted to lying on my back for three months, no less. I was allowed a total sitting time of 15 minutes a day. My bright blue turtle “torso” brace I wore 24/7 became my best friend. (One of my professors actually told me after that it showed off my “girlish figure!” Ha!)

That was on April 31, 2008. After I was cleared several months later, my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Spann, told me to start to cycle for my rehab.

I was still wearing my brace 24/7. Did they even make cycling jerseys big enough to cover a brace? I’d never seen anyone in the Tour de France wearing one.

So I suggested that I learn how to play soccer for my rehab. Dr. Spann again suggested cycling, being a cyclist himself.

My wife’s best friend, Laura Kerr, knew where I was at in recovery, physically, emotionally and mentally. She knew I thrive on challenges, and she suggested — and re-suggested — that I set a goal of riding 180 miles that following September in the Lone Star Ride. Yep — five months after being cleared.

Now it’s history. I said “yes,” showed up in my bright blue turtle brace, and pretended that I knew something of what I was doing.

My 14-year-old son, Sayer, had committed himself to training with me and riding the full two days with me. My wife, Sarah, committed herself to being on the sweep crew. It was a family affair from beginning to end. I became cyclist number 202, and Sayer became rider number 203. Sayer inspired many in his willingness to ride along side his mom.
I’ve been excited and ready to ride this year, but God has a sense of humor. Several weeks ago I came back out of remission. I feel different. I feel abnormal. I feel my pain. But it’s often an invisible pain to others. Sometimes I feel embarrassed by not being able to “do.”

But in 12 days, I get to just be a number again. I will be back in my brace and will be ready to ride again in twelve days, with the grace of my God.

Something deep inside tells me that many of us want to be a part of, wanting to shed our skins that cause us to feel different while dealing with our own barriers.

Some of us participating in Lone Star ride in cars; some of us ride on bikes with two or more wheels. Some of us walk on two healthy feet. Some of us require help when we walk.
Some of us ride on motorcycles and are assigned the role of protecting the riders on the routes. Some of us are strictly cyclists. Some stand on corners smiling and shouting endless cheers of encouragement.

Some of us drive our cars, sweeping and picking up riders, ready with cold AC, peanuts and snacks, cold grape Gatorade, and most important, a nice soft seat. Some of us are more behind the scenes: the medical crew, the pit crews, the training crews, the organizers, and most importantly, the people who set up the catering.

There are family and friends who come and support all of us. They share memories and stories of previous riders who have lost their lives. They trust that their tears will be received with gentleness and love. These families bring pictures of lost loved ones on t-shirts, reminding all of us why we do it.

Without the willingness of these families to share their stories, the closing ceremonies would just not be the same.

No matter what our role, or how many wheels we ride on, we all come together. We link ourselves together on the last weekend of September, and try our best to make a difference in the lives of so many living with AIDS.

To donate to Polly Browning or another Lone Star Ride participant, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25-26, beginning and ending each day at the American Airlines Training and Convention Center, located on Hwy. 360 N., at Hwy. 183, in Fort Worth. Friends and supporters of LSR participants are invited to attend closing ceremonies on Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens