Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Wait, Halloween was Created by The Gays?

David Frum, the Bush speechwriter who is often cited as the originator of the catchphrase “axis of evil,” writes a surprisingly gay-friendly homage to the origins of Halloween. Where does he trace its roots?

Castro in the 70’s, of course.

And credit The Gays not only for this American institution, but a host of other fun, wholly American trends as well. According to Frum:

From the spread of disco in the 1970s — to the habit of paying money for sparkling waters such as Perrier — culminating in Halloween, gays have incubated and developed major cultural trends. Straights adopt, and then ungratefully forget whom they are adopting from — just as American Christians forget how much of the modern Christmas music they enjoy was written by Jews, starting with the most popular of them all, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” The majority culture forgets what the minority culture has produced.

Frum’s a man who gives credit where credit’s due. (And for the record, I’m appalled by how many cliches I’ve just used in this post.)

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Filed under: fashion, gay life, holidays, , , , , , , , ,

Fort Worth Councilman: “It Gets Better”

Likely you’ve seen this clip from Forth Worth City Councilman Joel Burns (it’s been a crazy week, and I’m just catching up now).

In a public meeting earlier this week, Burns told a personal story of bullying: cornered at school by bullies and being called a “faggot” and that he should die. What’s particularly moving is Burns’ emotion, tear-filled, genuine, in the midst of an otherwise humdrum city meeting.

Ten teenagers have committed suicide in the past few months. Hanging themselves in garages, using guns in their own homes, jumping off the GW bridge out of fear and embarassment. This is an epidemic.

Our collective burden, as educated adults who care about our young people, is to be honest and straightforward with the kids we counsel and love. Dan Savage started a moving campaign; President Obama addressed cyberbullying at a town hall meeting on MTV; ordinary folks around the country have uploaded their own stories of being bullied and posted them on the Web.

In Massachusetts, where I live, we passed strongly-worded anti-bullying legislation last May. Though a concrete, enforceable measure, the law still relies on adults in the community to become standard-bearers: the school principals, the teachers, and the parents themselves.

Let’s hope that kids out there who might feel alone–called perhaps the ugliest names imaginable by insecure, ignorant jerks–might hear all the voices, those that have lived through it, calling in unison that it gets better.

It really does.

Filed under: gay life, gay rights, government, homophobia, , , , , , , , , ,

Kudos to the “It Gets Better” Project

I knew there was a reason I loved Dan Savage.

Besides being one of the most reasonable and fiercest advocates for gay and lesbian rights, Savage has charisma that stretches for miles. In this new video about being bullied in high school–and the acknowledgment, many years later, of a bright present–he and his partner talk frankly about how difficult life was.

And how satisfying family life (they have a teenager named TJ) is today.

More about the “It Gets Better” Project–aimed at an audience of young gay kids who may be considering suicide–is at the newly launched YouTube channel. Good, heartfelt, stuff.

Filed under: family, gay life, , , , ,

Why “The Kids are All Right” is So Good

1.) Julianne Moore. 2.) An airtight, carefully constructed script. And 3.) the simple fact of representation–an ordinary family that happens to be headed by two women–on the big screen.

A couple friends, my partner, and I joined a sold-out theatre last night for Lisa Chodolenko’s The Kids are All Right. Man, has this movie been gathering momentum (and not in the kitschy NOM way). The Kids are All Right raked in more than a million dollars over the two weeks it’s been in theaters. In Cambridge, where we saw the movie, it was playing on two screens, both sold out. I haven’t been to a theater that crowded since the release of Brokeback Mountain.

There’s obvious parallels between the two movies. Both movies have a gay couple as the focus; both movies boast major movie stars. And though they may seem like indie flicks, The Kids are All Right and Brokeback Mountain manage to also reach for mainstream ambition.

But must mainstream also mean playing into tired old tropes? Stereotypes about lesbians seem particularly jarring in this film by and about gay women (e.g. watching gay porn, over-processing their emotions, transforming from a lesbian to a straight woman by the right man). Though there may be some truth in these stereotypes, portraying them without also questioning them provides fodder for uncritical audiences. When Moore’s character, a lesbian who has two teenage children with her lover, suddenly throws herself at a man, you can’t help but let out a little groan. Why couldn’t she fall for another woman? Why does it seem like all it takes to “cure” the character of her gayness is a handsome man?

Still, for its faults, The Kids are All Right struck a chord for me and my friends. Everyone in the theater, in fact, seemed to laugh (or cringe) as the movie hit all the right notes–comparing marriage to a Russian novel, watching the college-bound daughter awkwardly seduce her crush. Chodolenko takes what’s ordinary in urban gay life (and which many of us take for granter) and uses it to frame her story of an ordinary American family. Good stuff.

Go support this little film that could.

Filed under: film, gay life, humor, , , , , , , , , ,

Why Only Let the Straights Be Miserable?

Comedy and politics = a good thing. Justin Long and Mike White play a gay married couple who experience the same misery as straight married people. Hilarious.

It’s all for the cause of continuing dialogue about Prop 8. Go to makehomosexualsmarry.com to join the Facebook group.

Filed under: gay life, gay rights, government, marriage, , , , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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