Monday, July 21, 2003

Last year I wrote three books (which explains why my social life consists of a teddy bear, a large bar of Galaxy and a Will & Grace DVD) which got a little bit of attention in the media. However, last week that little bit turned into a deluge when I appeared in The Guardian - and suddenly I was flavour of the month for the media types who wanted a piece of my ass. Even my local newspaper has shown an interest and I was interviewed for it. They want to put my picture alongside the article. However, this will mean that I will be the first (to my knowledge) openly gay local person featured in the paper. After debating the pros and cons of this, I've decided to go ahead and do it. Probably.

Hurrah for my sister who went into labour at 10pm last night and gave birth this morning at 7am. The baby boy weighs 8lb 2oz and has dark brown hair. She is described as "exhausted". For some reason she is not going to call him Lubin Jr but is probably going to call him Hugh (a name I at least suggested). And if this momentous news isn't enough, my parents have casually announced they are thinking of selling their house and buying a guesthouse... in Morecambe.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Heroic Homosex offers a reworking on the masculine gay men as warriors theme by eschewing anal sex and effeminacy in favour of male-male relationships based on wrestling, mutual muscle admiration and non-penetrative frottage. "Frot" is the next sexual revolution apparently. The writer of the site Bill Weintrab mixes str8 m8 polemic with erotic stories and pictures, visualising a world of manly men who like rubbing up against each other. I don't agree with all of it, but I like people who have vision, and Bill certainly has one.

Thoughts go out to my sister who is heavily pregnant (due this month) and bored of daytime tv. Baby Hugh (if that's what she decides to call him) will the be the first addition to our family in 27 years and will turn me into Uncle Lubin. I have always been very close to my sister. When we were younger I used to cut out pictures of Brian Blessed and Dean Stockwell and stick them over her bedroom wall to insinuate that she had crushes on them when her friends came round to visit. We were talking yesterday - for years I had thought she had a secret crush on Richard E Grant (who is to be the new webcast Dr Who). Turns out she didn't. It was Paul McGann all along. I wondered why she had ignored my sly references for the last ten years. This led to a declaration of childhood crushes from everyone present. We both admitted to Jason Patric (it's a bit icky for a brother and sister to fancy the same person though), although with her it was in his Lost Boys phase and with me it was in his Speed 2 phase. My fella admitted to David Soul and Bruce Willis, and then outed me for my early 90s crush on Luke Perry. I hope that Baby Hugh was listening to all this. I was desparately wanting her waters to break while I was there so we could all experience the joy of childbirth together, but they didn't.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Can't remember where I saw it, but I recently read something that argued that humans have evolved to be bisexual - which explains why penis fits vagina, but also penis fits anus and penis/vagina fits mouth/tongue. The argument goes that the prostate gland which triggers off pleasant sensations when a man is fucked wouldn't be so far inside the rectum if it hadn't evolved to make anal sex enjoyable. Similarly, the clitoris isn't deep inside the vagina but on the outside, meaning that women can achieve orgasm without penetration (e.g. via manipulation from another woman). Looking back at other cultures - Greek, Roman, Elizabethan, Ancient China - bisexuality was often much more widely accepted than it is now.

This has thrown me a little, as I have always been a bit suspicious about people who say they're bisexual, wondering if in fact they're really gay but don't want to take on the whole stigma. However, maybe the reverse is true - we're all socially conditioned - and gay people have so much invested in maintaining what society views as a problematic minority identity that it's just simpler to claim to be 100% gay rather than 80% or 95% gay. And as usual, it's all tied to gender - masculine men are treated as if they're straight all their lives - as a result, it becomes much harder for them to identify sexual feelings towards other men as being gay, because everything else about them doesn't fit in with the camp stereotype. By making "gay" equate with effeminate, society has done a good job of creating a minority closed category which forces people to take sides. You either stay in the closet, or you come right out of it. Over and over again, I've seen that the men and women who've had most terms with coming to terms with fancying people of the same sex are either a) religious or b) "straight-acting".

So maybe I'm partly right - some people who say they're bisexual may be in fact more gay than bisexual. But also, a lot more people who say they're straight or gay may in fact be bisexual. I've always found that straight and gay people have a lot in common in terms of their expressions of their horrified responses to the sex that the respective "other" has. "Arse-bandits" and "Backs against the walls lads" from the straight men aren't all that different from comments like "Filthy fish!" that I've heard gay men making. Maybe, in a future society that's less fucked-up about sexuality, gay and straight people will form a collective minority group together - viewed as slightly limited because of their inability to form relationships with both sexes, while bisexuals rule supreme.

Next week - monogamy is about to go past it's sell-by date.

Monday, July 07, 2003

New word of the day: evilgelicals.

As in "I am amazed that in this age of non-discrimination at work, the government are allowing one law for the church and one law for everyone else. Shame on Tony Blair - he should put his foot down and slap them silly. The evilgelicals want it Betty Bothways - they want to have all the power, but they can't acknowledge that if they kicked out every gay person in their ranks, the system would collapse. I hope the Bishop of Reading becomes a cause celebre, leading to the majority of people taking a good long look at the evilgelicals and realising how spiteful, bigoted and petty they really are. Gah!"

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Obsessive-Compulsive Cleaning Disorder

The boyfriend and me watched Channel 4's "How Clean is Your Home?" last night and are in shock. The premise is very simple and has been successfully repeated in a range of formats including What Not To Wear and The Dinner-Party Inspectors. It involves (usually two) upper-middle class bossy matriaches with scary hair and make-up descending on the lifestyles of proles in order to exclaim, cajole, bully, patronise and lecture them into changing some aspect of their lives in the quest for "self-improvement". These programmes are the new religion - the presenters are daunting high priestesses, publicly punishing transgressors, forcing out shameful confessions, and then cleansing them of their sins so they can be forgiven and "reborn" as new believers - our religious icons are no long the Virgin Mary, the rosary beads or the holy water but instead we have the Dyson hoover, decking and the trip to the salon for a spray-on tan.

How Clean is Your Home? is a particuarly entertaining example of this new genre. The programme cheerily begins with Aggie and Kim (who both look like they should be running an East German ballet school as a cover for satanic practices as in Dario Argento's brilliant Surpiria), descending on some council-estate hovel to shriek in horror at the "filth and degradation" lurking in dirty toilets, greasy chip-pans and dusty work surfaces. They reserve particular disdain for bedding, carrying out a "smell test" and then coming out with reams of statistics such as "a human produces half a litre of sweat every night in bed" and "there are fifty million dust mites living in your bed - you are sleeping in 500 grammes of dust mite faeces!" After the poor proles have been suitably chastised, they are excommunicated from their homes, and Aggie and Kim (and a team of nobodies who actually do the work) set about putting everything right. Aggie and Kim then bring the occupants back and present them with a huge housework chart, which helpfully tells them how many times a day their toilet should be cleaned. Their work done, the pair set off into the sunset.

The programme is hilariously camp - I know quite a few gay men who resemble Aggie and Kim in their obsession with keeping a clean home (although I've often conjectured that the cleaner your counter-tops, the dirtier your mind). However, it is also quite disturbing. Studies have recently suggested that one of the reasons why more people suffer from allergies like hayfever nowadays is because of our hermetically-sealed, hygenic lives. A bit of dirt isn't necessarily a bad thing then. Also, the programme sets strict standards of cleanliness that I think most people with jobs and social lives who can't afford a cleaner would find it difficult to live up to. And there is something very patronising about people with posh accents telling working-class people that their windows are too dirty. So while all this is disguised as a "good thing", I'd argue that it's a kind of banal, apolitical facism - get people obsessed with their own dirty linen and they won't have time to think about bigger issues (such as war, globalisation, environmental damage, world hunger, disease etc). It's just plain wrong. So there.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

George Orwell is having an anniversary or something. So I read 1984 again. God the last third is depressing. I keep wondering how such a society would have coped with things like SARS. My favourite bits of the book are when Orwell talks about the "proles" - he views them with mild distaste mixed with envy. Those good old proles - with their big fat red arms, their pop music, football, drinking, petty squabbles with neighbours and cockney accents. They're lovely. There are a lot of the things in the book that I find difficult to swallow. The concept of Room 101 for example - I don't believe that people have a single thing that they are terrified of which will make them crack and betray the person they love (any one of about 50 things would do for me). I don't believe that there are some things that can never be healed. I don't believe that the object of power is power or the object of violence is violence. And I don't believe that such a society could ultimately be self-sustaining. It would eventually devour itself. Where there is power there is resistance. What I think is most interesting about the book is the way that language is gradually been eroded so that certain types of thinking will no longer be possible. Orwell claims that it isn't possible to understand the concept of freedom or equality if the words for them don't exist. I'm not sure if this is the case though. If it was, then how did such words come into being in the first place? I think there is a connection between language and thought, but it's not simplistic or one-directional. But despite my niggling points, 1984 is a good, if disturbing read. Do it to Julia!