Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Closets are for Clothes

In the latest issue of People magazine, Lance Bass of N SYNC pop group has come out as gay. My first thought was "good grief, it's about time!" This guy has been spotted time and time again out and about with Reichen Lehmkuhl, from Amazing Race. The gay community is not anonymous and people talk and blog! Duh!

In the spirit of being "to thine ownself be true," here is a list of celebrities that I would like to see follow suit (in no particular order).

1. Jodie Foster-she has been seen wearing a ring identical to that of her female "constant companion," Cydney Bernard with whom she raises her son. The time has come grrrrl!
2. Richard Simmons- jokes about his short shorts aside, he really has nothing to lose by coming out. People would still love or hate him and it might just revitalize his career.
3. Vin Diesel- my friend has worked on a film set with this actor and apparently he was very open about his sexuality. That having been said, he's not out.
4. Kevin Spacey- There have been rumours about this guy for years. He's has never answered questions on his sexuality. In an Esquire magazine article in 1997 he implied he was gay but later appeared to backtrack.
5. Sean Hayes- the actor who played "Jack" from Will and Grace. I doubt that anyone would stop hiring him for roles. It's kind of a no-brainer.
6. Ricky Martin- This actually isn't wishful thinking. The ankle bracelet seals the deal! :)
7. Little Richard- Yes "Tutti-fruity" does mean what you thought it did... - But then again, even my mom was surprised when I mentioned this...

Here's some that took the closet to their grave:
Liberace - He was just ridiculous in denying he was gay over and over. The topper was when he said he was on a "watermelon diet" when he was actually dying of AIDS.
Luther Vandross- It was an open secret in Hollywood apparently. People loved him and it wouldn't have changed a thing had he just come out!

I know I'm forgetting a ton of people. Others like Tom Cruise, I'm not going to even bother with (although if you haven't seen the South Park episode, you really should!). If you have someone else you'd like to tell "come out already!" go ahead and put them in the comment section at the bottom.

Final thoughts: Sorry for the Jerry Springer nature of this post. But in my experience, being in the closet takes an enormous amount of effort, energy, and strain/stress. I can't imagine what it would be like if I was in the public eye, which thankfully I'm not. I will say that my life and my clothes look brighter from the outside looking in than vice versa.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Forever Young?

Today on the way home from work, I called my honey to see what the plans were for dinner tonight. He told me he was going to the cinema to buy ticket for our friends and us to see the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel on Saturday. So sweet! (And it was a good thing he bought them in advance too because they were almost sold out! Can you believe it? Going to a movie here is such an ordeal!) Anyway he decided to buy a variety of mandu to bring home for our dinner. Yummy!

Since he was being such a star I thought I would surprise him with some flowers from the little stall that's on my walk home. The little old lady who runs it was just closing up and threw in some free pink lilies with the Easter lilies that I bought for $10. Love Korea! I came home, cut and arranged them in the vase. Then I did something my mother taught me long ago. I carefully removed the brown anthers that contained the pollen. This way the sticky pistil will never get pollinated and the lily will stay open longer! Pretty neat huh?

This got me thinking about a comment my good friend and former coworker made to me at a dinner we had with his new wife and him. He said that my boyfriend was looking younger and younger. I really didn't have any answer for him at the time but it did make me wonder: Are we like the de-anthered lilies? Has Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth finally been discovered by "the gays?"

I'll be the first to admit that this is a ridiculous notion. It's just as silly to imply being part of the "mainstream culture" has an aging affect. However the pursuit of youth is quite strong in the gay community. It's common for us to refer to each other as "boys" (or "girls" depending on the person!) . And many of us do contribute a sizeable portion of our disposable income to skin and hair products. Even yours truly has fallen suspectible to the luxuries of massages, pedicures, manicures and facials. They take off years, I tell ya! Let's not forget the frequent visits to the gym (known as "gay church" in some circles) and heightened awareness of healthy eating! Furthermore, living with a hairdresser, it's only natural I reap the advantages of well-styled hair and gray-concealing color. And while I hate to be stereotypical (although stereotypes exist because often they contain an element of truth), the "Mo's" are known for their forward fashion sense! All these elements combined tend to give some of us a more youthful appearance.

On the flipside, it's a miracle that some gays look good at all with so many aging factors present. Many are victims of overexposure to the sun or tanning booths. The gay community has higher rate of smoking than other groups and diseases related to smoking are the leading causes of death among gay people (not AIDS). There is prevalent drug use (Last Saturday my boyfriend walked into the bathroom to discover boys doing lines off the counter. Gross! That bathroom hasn't been cleaned in AGES. We got outta there!) not to mention frequent binge drinking and insanely late hours. Not much beauty sleep going on some nights!

The Bible has great things to say about being young and trying staying that way! Here's one I liked: (Isaiah 103:2-5)
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

I love that image of being given a little tiara of love and compassion!

Here's another passage I like: (Ecclesiastes 11:8-10)
8 However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.
9 Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.

I interpret this passage to mean that we should value the life and abilities that God has blessed us with, knowing that we have consequences for our choices. I also really like that it says not to worry so much about growing older and having increasing physical problems the older we get because these things aren't what's really important. Again, it's how we use the resources and talents we have been given.

Sorry I know this is probably getting old but I want to end with one last scripture. I've always loved it and I was delighted to learn that it was also the favorite scripture of my grandfather and namesake. I repeat these verses to myself on mornings that I hate getting up and visualize men struggling to get up and then morphing into eagles taking off to fly high in the sky! I hope it will help you through your day as well!(Isaiah 40:29-31)
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Queer Eye for the X-Guy

Not long ago my fellow Kansan in Korea and I excitedly attended the most recent installment of the X-Men saga. In short, it rocked but I knew it would. I've been in love with those mutants since university when I first started watching them on the animated series.

There's a theory that gay people are "mutants" as well. The theory goes like this: when nature senses that the population of a species is more than the resources can provide for, it produces members that can't reproduce when they have sex with each other. In otherwords, homosexuality happens as sort of "nature's stop-gap." Althought fraught with problems, it's an interesting theory that even Dr. Laura Schlessinger has indirectly mentioned.

Perhaps this was on the mind of Brian Singer when he directed the first two X-men movies. As a gay Jewish man, he had some experience with being both a minority and an outsider. He's even said that his experiences influenced development of the films. Although much as already been written about the queer connection to X-Men, I thought I'd go ahead and add my own personal thoughts!

In the first movie we have a pompous senator warning against having mutants as teachers in the schools. This reminded me of when my mother urged me to leave the field of education because of my "lifestyle choice."

Also in the first movie we learn of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. This one-of-a-kind school was a safe haven for mutant children who couldn't attend school in their hometowns because their difference caused abuse, rejection and harrassment. Although not fictional, the Harvey Milk High School serves a similar purpose by allowing gay students to complete their high school education in a safe environment.

In the second film, there was a great scene in which Bobby (later called Iceman), tells his parents about being a mutant and seeks their love and acceptance. His naive mother memorably responds "Have you ever tried not being a mutant?" This brought to mind a similar "coming-out" discussion I had with my own mother!

In the most recent movie, the plot centers around a mutant cure and it's implications. I've previously blogged about the possibility of a "gay cure," both medical and psychological. Many of the same sentiments and arguments were mirrored by mutants protesting such a cure.

On the other hand, there was a touching scene when Wolverine confronts Rogue, who is on the way to receive the cure. She tells him that all she wants is to be able to hold her boyfriend's hand without fear. I've also had similar longings as have many other gay people around this planet.

And finally, throughout all the Mutant X-men stories are themes of being an "abnormality" in a normal world and the difficulties of that coexistence. Some mutants try to hide their difference while others welcome it as a gift that makes them unique. Still others see the world as an adversary, out to hurt them and respond defensively. Within the gay community all these schools of thought are represented.

I guess the thing I love most about the X-Men is that, unlike Magneto's group, they are so optimistic and hopeful about the rest of humanity. It's that grace under fire that I believe God wants us to extend to the others we meet on this journey called LIFE.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Know When to Walk Away

This coming August will mark my 5th year of living in Korea. I would willingly agree that this country has changed me, hopefully for the better!. I'm a much braver person than I gave myself credit for and I've found myself an advocate for all things Korean, not unlike my brother after his Mexican stay. However I have noticed other changes that I have complied into a list that I'd like to facetiously refer to as....


1. One day you notice calluses on your ankles from hours of sitting cross-legged on the floor.

2. You turn on MTVAsia to watch some videos and realize that you know all the Korean songs but none of the American ones.

3. It's July 1st and your sister-in-law mentions her 4 day holiday weekend and you actually have to wrack your brain to remember what holiday that would be!

4. You love using metal chopsticks and complain when you are obliged to use the wood or round plastic variety.

5. You find yourself saying English words with Korean pronounciations. "Bus" becomes "Buh-suh," "apartment" becomes "a-par-tuh,'" "ice cream," is "eye-suh-cree-muh"

6. You are impressed by an establishment that provides its own toliet paper to its customers. That's classy!

7. You don't become upset anymore when old people bump you or cut you in line. Furthermore, you begin to expect this treatment!

8. Tipping rarely occurs to you and you feel especially magnanimous when you do.

9. A samyupsol dinner doesn't seem complete without a bottle of soju and a dish of kimchi on the side! ("Samyupsol" is basically very thick pieces of bacon cooked on a stone slab, served by wrapping in lettuce and adding things like Kimchi and other sauces. There are also lots of vegetables involved, which counteracts the effects of the fatty meat.)

10. You develop the reflex of breathing through your mouth immediately upon encountering foul odours on the street, knowning that in a couple of steps, you may resume normal breathing.

In all seriousness, I have loved living here (for the most part!) and am so glad I had this experience. As most of you have heard, this past week Canadian immigration contacted us asking for our passports so they can give us permanent residency visas! We anticipate leaving in September and appreciate your prayers. Thanks to all of our family and friends that have supported and encouraged us during this time!