Movie Monday: “Mansome” at the Angelika

Documentary takes on manscaping, mustaches & masculinity

What does it take to be a man? What does that term even mean? It’s an internal debate many gay guys have had since pre-adolescence, when they first learned to “act straight” — and one many gay adults who claim to be “straight acting” on their hookup profiles still seem to wrestle with.

Outwardly at least, there are some indicia of what a man is … or are there? After documentaries that tackle obesity, marketing and the Muslim world, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has turned his sights on a comparatively frivolous topic in Mansome, exploring such weighty issues as the conflict between metrosexuality and bear culture, and what’s in between.

Read the entire review here.

DEETS:

—  Rich Lopez

Up to 58 Iraqi ‘Emos’ killed in anti-gay hate crimes (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)

Scott Long, a visiting fellow in the human rights program at Harvard University, sent out a link to a blog containing the above photos, which reportedly show one of the victims, left, whose skull was smashed in with a concrete block, right.

LARA JAKES  |  Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Young people who identify themselves as so-called Emos are being brutally killed at an alarming rate in Iraq, where militias have distributed hit lists of victims and security forces say they are unable to stop crimes against the subculture that is widely perceived in Iraq as being gay.

Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone — forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.

A recent list distributed by militants in Baghdad’s Shiite Sadr City neighborhood gives the names or nicknames of 33 people and their home addresses. At the top of the paper are a drawing of two handguns flanking a Quranic greeting that extolls God as merciful and compassionate.

Then follows a chilling warning.

“We warn in the strongest terms to every male and female debauchee,” the Shiite militia hit list says. “If you do not stop this dirty act within four days, then the punishment of God will fall on you at the hands of Mujahideen.”

All but one of the targets are men.

It’s not clear why the killings have stepped up in recent months. Many Iraqis are religiously conservative and have struggled against the western influence that has infiltrated their once-closed society in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Like many places in the Muslim world, homosexuality is extremely taboo in Iraq. Anyone perceived to be gay is considered a fair target, and the perpetrators of the violence often go free. The militants likely behind the violence intimidate the local police and residents so there is even less incentive to investigate the crimes.

Emo is short for “emotional” and in the West generally identifies teens or young adults who listen to alternative music, dress in black, and have radical hairstyles. Emos are not necessarily gay, but they are sometimes stereotyped as such.

Another victim is shown in these photos from the blog, 'A Paper Bird.'

To Iraqis, “Emo” is widely synonymous with “gay.” John Drake, an Iraq specialist for the British-based AKE security consulting firm, said Iraqi Emos are getting their hair cut so they aren’t immediately identified, and therefore targeted, in the wake of the new threats.

In the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, a mostly-Sunni area, 35-year-old Hassan is afraid to leave his home. He plans on cutting his shoulder-length hair soon, but fears that his hormone-injected breast enhancements will be detected if he is stopped and patted down at one of the ubiquitous security checkpoints across the city.

“Today I went out of my house with a friend but we were severely harassed —some people told us that we need the double blocks,” said Hassan, referring to the cement blocks that attackers use to beat people. “I was scared so we returned home to hide.”

Hassan’s friend, a man who identified himself as 26-year-old Mustafa, called the recent hate crimes “the strongest and deadliest campaign against us.”

Hassan said he is gay but does not consider himself an Emo. He and Mustafa agreed to talk on condition that only their first names be used for fear they would be attacked if identified.

One of Hassan’s friends, Saif Raad Asmar Abboudi, was beaten to death with concrete blocks in mid-February in a case that terrified gay Iraqis and panicked human rights watchdogs. “I feel very sorry for him,” Hassan said.

A Feb. 18 police report all but closes the case on Saif’s killing. It shows an initial investigation was completed and “the reason for the incident is unknown at the moment because the criminal is unknown.”

An Interior Ministry official said 58 young people have been killed across Iraq in recent weeks by unidentified gangs who accused them of being, as he described it, Emo. Sixteen were killed in Sadr City alone, security and political officials there said. Nine of the men were killed by bludgeoning, and seven were shot. No arrests have been made.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as did many of the people interviewed for this article, in fear of violent reprisals.

The Quran specifically forbids homosexuality, and Islamic militias in Iraq long have targeted gays in what they term “honor killings” to preserve the religious idea that families should be led by a husband and a wife. Those who do not abide by this belief are issued death sentences by the militias, according to the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, a human rights watchdog group. The same militias target women who have extramarital affairs.

“There is a strong wave of campaigns by clerics against homosexuals now,” said Ali al-Hilli, chairman of Iraqi LGBT, a human rights group based in London that provides two safe houses in Iraq for gays. “The police do not provide protection for them.”

He said an estimated 750 gay Iraqis have been killed because of their sexual orientation since 2006.

Iraqi lawmaker Khalid Shwani, a Kurd, said targeting Emos because of their alternative lifestyles reflects an a growing intolerance of Iraqis’ civil rights.

“Those people are free to choose what they wear, or to believe in, or how they choose their clothes or the way they think,” Shwani said. He called on parliament to address the issue.

“The Emo of today could be any person tomorrow who tries to follow a specific way of living,” he said.

The killings have drawn so much attention that even hardline Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr weighed in Saturday, calling Emos “crazy fools” and a “lesion on the Muslim community” in a statement on his website.

However, al-Sadr did not condone the violence, telling his followers “to end the scourge of Emo within the law.”

Iraq’s government has been wary about the Emo allure among its youth for months.

An August 2011 letter from the Education Ministry urges schools to crack down on what it considered abhorrent behavior, including allowing camera phones in school “because students would use it for dirty movies,” says the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Similarly, it prohibited students from leaving their classes during school hours “for any reason, because they might gather in the nearby cafes or coffee shops to practice dirty activities.”

The letter attributed the social atrocities to “Emo, which is an infiltrated phenomenon in our society began to appear in some of our schools.”

Iraqi police squads who are specifically assigned to protect social minorities say they are almost powerless to stop the threats against gays and Emos. One officer assigned to the so-called social abuse squads said police are meeting with clerics to ask for help in urging the public against killing what he described as “the Emo or the vampires or Satan worshippers.”

The police official said he had no statistics to show how prevalent the violence is.

“It is true that there have been killings in Sadr City targeting these young men,” he said. “It is not right to end their lives in this manner.”

—  John Wright

Loony Tunes Pam Geller: CPAC Was Infiltrated By The Muslim Brotherhood

In case you haven’t been following along, nutjob Pam Geller is the Atlas Shrugs blogger largely behind the battle to block NYC’s now infamous “Ground Zero mosque.”

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

IOWA: Fox News Focus Group Agrees President Is A Scary Kenyan Muslim

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Why am I not celebrating more?

Although the swearing in of the first trans trial judge is cause for celebration, there is still a long, hard fight ahead

WREN A. WYNN  |  Special Contributor

We have recently seen America’s first transgender trial judge sworn in. So why am I not celebrating more?

Are you kidding? I read the news to my husband and son, and we all cheered and breathed a sigh of great relief and deep gratitude. This momentous ceremony brought us all one step closer to lawful and societal equality and a much safer pursuit of that very happiness our Constitution grants to us all.

But this is where I — as an American, a woman and the wife of an amazing transgender man — must restrain my celebration. The full celebration will commence the day society’s labels fade away.

Humans always try to define things we do not understand. Our lack of understanding leads to fear. Labels are incessantly cast onto anything we need defined for us.

For instance, say you have two tin cans, both sealed. One is labeled “beans;” the other has no label. Which would you choose?

Unless you have an aversion to legumes, you would probably choose the labeled one. I would — I mean, what if the other can has beets?

We should be electing transgender officials. We should be electing lesbian and gay officials, female officials, African-American officials, Hispanic officials, Jewish and Muslim officials — and so on. Because, quite simply, every one of the members of our global society are human beings.

We are all born inherently equal and all hold the same worthiness as our neighbor. Our labels do not designate our worth or, believe it or not, our contents. Existence is where our worth lies. You are here. I am here. We are amazing.

The full celebration will commence when all marginalized people refuse to be yoked to such a lexicon: marginalized, victimized, worthless, wrong, immoral, dangerous. These are only a very few of the terms used by the media, the Biblical Christian right and those in seats of actual “power” when referring to “them.”

When you are marginalized, the first thing that is stripped from you is your name. It is far easier to be cruel and hateful when you are aggressively pursuing the nameless.

How many of us have found ourselves in such a place — no name, no support, no safety? I was hit in the face in seventh grade by an extraordinarily hefty repeat eighth grader because my being gay offended her. Her name was Amie. I bet you a million dollars she doesn’t remember my name.

We cannot continue to allow our names to be replaced with a vocabulary of invisibility and hate. My name is Wren.

The full celebration will commence when those seated in positions of power and authority stop being so damn afraid that they will be dethroned and overrun. If you are a just and compassionate leader, this is not a concern. So it is no wonder that so many higher-ups are constantly having to towel off their flop-sweat as they stand at their microphones and bullhorns leaking their heartlessness and fear into the world.

This decidedly ridiculous behavior, though, should come as no real surprise. Look at what the leaders worship. All religions at all moments in history, both patriarchal and matriarchal (though to a lesser extent), worship very wrathful and immature gods and goddesses. How many times has a deity cruelly destroyed all of life because another god was getting more attention or because the people weren’t pliant enough or, sometimes, just for the hell of it?

I am all for America. This is proven by the fact that I haven’t run off to Canada or Europe … yet. I truly do believe, very dearly, that America is the home of the brave. Every day I encounter transgender people (my husband included) who are changing the world and saving lives by simply being who they are.

We hear and see and know lesbian, gay and bisexual people who are not willing to let another person die because bullying gay kids and adults is seen as not so big an issue. We have seen the African-American community rise up saying, “We are not second-class citizens.” Everyday the cycle of racism slows.

In recent months, we have witnessed the courageous stance of the Muslim community in New York as they prepare a way for a mosque, even as the Koran is being threatened in Florida. With every passing moment we see and hear men and women standing up for women’s and human rights and equal passage and opportunity in the world.
What amazing and brave people we all are when we stand up for one another!

So God, Goddess, Allah, Abba, Brahman, Waheguru, Yahweh, Jesus, The Light, Almighty, Bahá, Jehova, El Cantare, Oya — all of them — bless America, Mother Earth and all of her beautiful creations. We live in truly amazing times. May we be awake and willing, enthusiastic, even, to stand with one another in our various fires.

This is not a case of “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” This is about celebrating life and Victoria Kolakowski, America’s first sworn-in transgender trial judge. You go girl!

Wren Wynn is a local writer and artist and the author of Chrysalis, a collection of poetry and artworks. She is also a commissioned artist and her paintings have been chosen to hang in the Visual Arts Center of Dallas galleries. Wynn is currently working on a collection of personal essays and a second poetry collection. Go online to Open.Salon.com/blog/wrenaw to read a sample of her work.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

This is what I hate about the political right

Nobody is innocent. The Democrats have their talking points just like the GOP. Both use sleazy tactics and push-polling and have corrupt members of their caucuses. But I am not talking about every instance, just one from this morning.

I often receive press releases from Hamilton Strategies, a right-wing publicity organization that spews hateful e-mails attacking President Barack Obama and others in the Democratic Party on a regular basis. Today’s, though, was especially offensive. Here it is (bold mine):

President Obama’s visits to the countries of India and Indonesia have amplified the already existing controversy regarding the president’s Muslim loyalty. As America undergoes vital political changes, devastating unemployment, moral corruption, and economic decline, citizens show concern over the president’s prevailing desire to travel to express Muslim sympathy before attending to the blatant needs of his own country’s citizens.   In light of confusing policies and messages that seem to undermine our country’s Christian heritage, the intellectual exploration of apologetics is necessary to bring into focus the infallible truths of God’s Word, and for Christians in this society to know how to respond to and live out their faith in culturally shifting times.

OK, for a second let’s overlook the confounding grammar and poor sentence construction. (“[P]revailing desire to travel to express Muslim sympathy”? What does that even mean?) What this press release says is, “We still think Obama is a Muslim, and his going to Indonesia is a betrayal of good Americans, i.e., Christians.”

It’s well-established that Obama is not a Muslim, and the craven mention of “already existing controversy” over his “Muslim loyalty” merely intentionally stirs up falsehood as a means of race- or religion-baiting. Pretending that a settled fact remains an unknown factor in someone’s honesty is base, evil and a lie. (Don’t Christians believe in not telling lies?) Going further to act as if our country’s “Christian heritage” warrants attacks on anyone who is not Christian is not only anti-American, it’s untrue.

But what really bothers me is this: Where are the principled people on the right condemning these lies, this divisiveness, this cultivated animosity against other races, ethnicities and religions? Does Hamilton Strategies really speak to your beliefs, Newt? Or yours, Sarah? Do you, as leaders of your party, honestly agree that there is a “controversy” over Obama’s religion, or that visiting a country of another religion is a betrayal of our citizens? Do you, Mitt, think that only mainstream Christian thought can find a place in our nation’s governance and dealings with other countries — because your religion is hardly mainstream.

If you are not decrying such hate speech, such lies, such misinformation, which you know to be all these things, how can you claim to be leaders? How can you wonder why some Dems and moderates refuse to listen to any of your ideas because you cannot be trusted to stand up on principle? I’m no fan of Obama, but I don’t appreciate anyone who lies and uses religion as a cudgel to do it. Shame on Hamilton Strategies. Shame on Newt and Sarah and Mitt. And shame on anyone who would prefer to be on the right than in the right.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

How The Gays Should Respond to Greg Gutfeld’s Muslim Gay Bar

The Regulars Comic, from Karl Hampe, is published every Friday on Queerty.

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—  John Wright

NEW YORK CITY: Cab Driver Stabbed After Being Asked If He Is Muslim

A New York City cab driver was stabbed repeatedly Monday night after a passenger reportedly demanded to know if he was Muslim.

Michael Enright, 21, hailed a cab on Monday night on Manhattan’s east side. After entering the vehicle, the AP notes that Enright allegedly asked his driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, if he was Muslim. Sharif responded with a yes, prompting the intoxicated Enright to allegedly pull out a pocket knife tool, reach for the driver’s seat and slash him. New York Police Department spokeswoman Kim Royster told the wire service that Sharif was treated for gashes to his throat, upper lip, forearm and thumb. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance identified Sharif by name, and in a related news release, added that the confrontation “occured amid tension” over plans for the new cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero. Within that same document, Sharif, who has served 15 years as a cab driver, expressed sadness over the current climate his profession is facing.

The passenger has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime. Congratulations go to Pam Geller, Glenn Beck, and Pat Robertson.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

7 Possible Names For Greg Gutfeld’s Muslim Gay Bar

We are very excited for the groundbreaking of Fox News host Greg Gutfeld's new Ground Zero gay bar aimed at Muslim men. So while Greg finds the space, a manager, and secures a liquor license, we consulted with some of the branding industry's finest experts (read: UrbanDictonary.com) to find out what sort of semi-offensive names he could use to name the place.

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—  John Wright