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For gun massacres, it takes a village

<p>Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club, where as many as 20 people have been injured after a gunman opened fire, in Orlando, June 12, 2016. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius) </p>

Reuters photo

Distraught individuals comfort each other at the Orlando Police Department headquarters after the United States’ worst gun massacre in history at a gay nightclub early this morning in Orlando, Florida. Because most of the victims were gay men, whose lives are expendable, this latest gun massacre won’t be in the national discussion for very long, though, and this latest American massacre demonstrates that although same-sex couples’ constitutional right to marry finally was recognized a year ago this month, plenty of ignorance surrounding and hatred toward non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals remains.

What a quandary for American wingnuts and other homophobes! The largest slaughter of innocent Americans on American soil since 9/11 — perpetrated by a Muslim man, of course* — must be condemned, but at the same time, most if not all of the Muslim’s victims were queers!

Seriously — this is a conundrum, since most American haters of Muslims hate non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals, too; homophobia is something that fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Jews all have in common.

I say this with confidence: Even though early this morning we saw the largest shooting massacre in American history (50 fatalities [including the gunman] at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida), we won’t talk about this gun massacre for nearly as long as we talked about the last gun massacre, the one in San Bernardino, California, in which 14 people were slaughtered by a Muslim man and his Muslim wife in December.**

And that’s because heterosexual (and gender-conforming) lives still are valued much more than are non-heterosexual (and non-gender-conforming) lives in the United States of America.

I’m confident that just as millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die of AIDS, millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die in Orlando this morning. (These individuals of course would take issue with my use of the word “innocent” in the first paragraph.)

You know, though, even though I’m a gay man, I don’t feel a bunch of hatred toward the perpetrator, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan and a U.S. citizen (and who was shot dead by police after he’d committed his carnage).

Nor do I feel a generalized hatred toward Muslims, although I believe that their belief system, along with Christians’ and Jews’, is bullshit (with their “God” essentially being a Santa Claus figure on crack [He sees you when you’re sleeping/ He knows when you’re awake/ He knows if you’ve been bad or good/ So be good for goodness’ sake!]), and although I recognize that a relatively tiny percentage of them are capable of great evil (as is the case with all human beings).

I do, however, blame toxic, backasswards, patriarchal, misogynist and homophobic religion, with its hocus-pocus, bullshit beliefs, and I blame the fact that Omar Mateen was born and raised in a nation whose highest court not even a full year ago finally ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, non-heterosexual individuals have the same human and civil rights that heterosexuals do.

When it comes to massacres, it takes a village to make them happen, people.

We need to examine the village much more than we need to examine the perpetrators.*** They are the symptoms of the village that creates them.

*Actually, of course, it remains that case that a typical American is significantly more likely to be shot and killed in a mass shooting by a white person who considers himself to be a Christian than by a Muslim.

Um, yeah.

**The Los Angeles Times put out this graphic of past gun massacres in the United States:

Note that this latest gun massacre took a real leap in the body count from the previous record. The L.A. Times grimly keeps a growing, running roundup of gun massacres in the United States here.

***That said, I’m confident that Mateen was mentally ill (his ex-wife has said that he was) — you can’t massacre people unless you are mentally ill (and the mentally ill widely don’t get the help that they need in the United States) — spurred on by the ignorance and hatred within his environment (including, of course, the ignorance and hatred that routinely is spewed within religion in the name of “God”), and, of course, I have to wonder if he was battling with homosexual urges himself.

I mean, reportedly he went ballistic when he saw two men kissing in public in Miami recently.

Why? Why would that drive you to shoot up a gay nightclub, if you were heterosexual and comfortable with your heterosexuality?

It seems to me quite possible that the sick and twisted Mateen, by killing gay men who unabashedly were being who they are in public (at least in the nightclub), was trying to kill the homosexuality within himself.

Finally, I don’t wish to exclude lesbians from mention, but the official list of victims in the Orlando massacre that has been released thus far indicates that most of the victims were male and Latino. I don’t know if any lesbians were killed, too. I see one female name on the list, and I don’t know what her sexual orientation was, and of course not all of the males slaughtered there necessarily were gay, but, it being a gay nightclub, I’m guessing (safely, methinks) that most if not all of them were.

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Radio silence from Bernie’s campaign thus far today, but I never shut up

Updated below

File:Democratic Party presidential primaries results, 2016.svg

Wikipedia graphic

This is how the map of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary battle looks today, after the primary elections in five states yesterday: like a fungus taking over most of the nation, turning what’s alive and green into what’s dead and golden-yellow. (The green states are those that Bernie Sanders has won, and the golden-yellow states are the states that Billary Clinton has won/“won.”) This rather dismal map is why, I surmise, Bernie’s campaign has been in radio silence, at least in term of its e-mails to its supporters, overnight and thus far today.

Given how Michigan’s primary-election polling right up to election day there eight days ago was showing Billary Clinton winning the state by around 20 percent (Bernie won it by 1.5 percent), I’d figured that Bernie Sanders would sweep the other “Rust Belt” states yesterday.

Illinois, Missouri and Ohio polling all had Billary ahead of Bernie by no more than single digits right up to yesterday’s voting, so, using Michigan as the test case, I’d figured that Bernie probably would win all three of those states, even if only by a rather small margin in one or all three of them.

I had chalked up Michigan’s polling snafu to something like pollsters’ bias for Billary and/or polling techniques that undercounted Bernie’s support and overcounted Billary’s, such as by not contacting enough respondents who have cell phones and no land lines.

I truly believed that this polling error in Michigan, dubbed by the political polling geeks as the biggest polling error in a primary election in modern political history, most likely would apply to the states surrounding Michigan also; Bernie would win at least two of the five states that were contested yesterday — probably three states, but two at the very minimum.

Instead, he fairly hands down lost four of them (Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, although Illinois was within 2 percentage points) and he probably lost Missouri, too, by only a fraction of 1 percent. (I’ve yet to see Missouri definitively called.)

Politico right now gives these results from yesterday’s Democratic Party presidential primary elections:

  • Florida (99.9 percent reporting): Billary 64.5 percent, Bernie 33.3 percent
  • Illinois (98.8 percent reporting): Billary 50.5 percent, Bernie 48.7 percent
  • Missouri (99.9 percent reporting): Billary 49.6 percent, Bernie 49.4 percent
  • North Carolina (100 percent reporting): Billary 54.6 percent, Bernie 40.8 percent
  • Ohio (100 percent reporting): Billary 56.5 percent, Bernie 42.7 percent

Where to begin?

So note that with the exception of Florida, Bernie garnered somewhere between 40.8 percent and 49.4 percent of the votes that were cast yesterday. A sizeable chunk of the voters in four of the five states that voted yesterday wanted someone other than Billary Clinton to represent them in November.

I don’t think that, based upon the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary and caucus results thus far, we accurately can call Billary an overwhelmingly beloved candidate, except in the South. (I mean, the South…)

Bernie Sanders the frumpy (small-“d”!) democratic socialist with that hair never was supposed to do even this well.

Billary Clinton has had the Democratic establishment blindly obediently behind her from Day One, including her bosom buddy Debbie Wasserman Schultz as head of the national party, making all of the presidential-race decisions (including keeping the anti-democratic system of the “super-delegates,” who are expected to fall in line with the party establishment, and tightly controlling the debate schedule), as well as disproportionately favorable media coverage (Google it — Billary has been covered much more than Bernie has been covered, but of course The Grand Spectacle that is Der Fuehrer Donald has trumped both of them in terms of media coverage, which is not shocking, given the nexus among our corporately owned and controlled “news” media and the corporatocracy/kleptocracy that is our “democracy” and Der Fuehrer Trump — yes, we are skipping along the yellow brick road to The Fantastical Land of Fascism).

Anyway, the Bernie Sanders campaign normally sends out a billion e-mails a day (seriously, at least three or four a day, even five or six, I do believe, on some days, especially since the primary elections and caucuses began), but I’ve yet to receive a single e-mail from the campaign since last night’s devastation.

Again, Bernie got a lot of votes last night, and delegates, too (it helps Bernie that all 50 states on the Democratic side allocate the number of pledged delegates proportionally, that there are no winner-takes-all states in the Dem presidential primary), but again, it’s the perception and the spin that matter, and our “news” media, which have only our commoners’ best interests at heart, of course, aren’t going to report that “Populist Bernie Sanders, for an outsider, sure garnered an impressive amount of votes and delegates yesterday.” No, they’re reporting that Billary Clinton Won All Five States in a Devastating Blowout!, even though the difference in Missouri right now stands at 0.2 percent.

There is no room for nuance in the United States of America, so even 0.2 percent is a part of A yuuuuuge win!

So I’m guessing that the reason for the radio silence from the Bernie Sanders campaign today (at least overnight and thus far this morning) is that they’re still assessing what message they can and should put out there after Bernie didn’t win even two states yesterday. (I’m guessing that Billary will maintain her razor-thin lead in Missouri [I heard on NPR talk of a possible recount of the state], meaning that history will record that Bernie won no state yesterday.)

Maybe Bernie is even taking a time-out to consider whether or not he is going to continue his campaign. I’ll still support him if he does, but the path to the nomination for him at this point looks grim to impossible.

What I know for sure is that I can’t support Billary Clinton.

No, it’s not that I’m being obstinate or a sore loser. And no, Billarybots, it’s not that I’m a misogynist, fuck you (and your toxic, blind and stupid identity politics) very much.

I had very much wanted progressive U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run, but she did not.

When Warren talks about standing up for us commoners, her record supports that; she is quite credible. The exact opposite is true of Billary. Bernie was the most progressive and most viable candidate who did run, and thus I have supported him.

(According to your “logic” and sense of “justice,” Billarybots, I should have supported the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008 because Sarah Palin is a woman.)

Billary Clinton just doesn’t do it for me. Aside from how much her demeanor, dripping with insincerity and cold calculation, turns me off, I cannot get past her pathetic pathological lying for personal political gain, which we saw in the 2008 cycle and have seen in this cycle, especially recently, when Bernie peaked and she felt desperate, and I know way too much about her past of pretending to care so very, very much about the disadvantaged and downtrodden but then taking millions and millions of dollars from the bad actors who are harming all of us.

Billary says whatever she perceives is the most politically advantageous thing to say in the  moment, and in the United States of Amnesia, it works.

To give one example that’s near and dear to me, she didn’t support same-sex marriage (publicly, at least) until March 18, 2013, for fuck’s sake, just a little more than two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015, that to deny same-sex marriage anywhere within the nation is to violate the U.S. Constitution.

Billary is hardly significantly ahead of the curve, and what we need in a president or other leader is someone who is significantly ahead of the curve.

A leader helps make change, a leader nudges the herd in the right direction (even if to do so is politically risky); a leader doesn’t jump on board only once it’s clear that the herd already is going in a certain, different direction.

And a leader doesn’t flip-flop, because the truth doesn’t flip-flop; it remains fixed. Politifact says of Billary, “Clinton came out in support of same-sex marriage in [March] 2013 after more than a decade of opposing it.”

And Billary’s latest act was proclaiming on television how great Nancy Reagan and her husband were on raising HIV/AIDS awareness in the 1980s, when the fact is that Ronald Reagan didn’t give a speech on the topic until May 1987, after more than 25,000 Americans, most of them gay men, already had died in the plague.

Billary is more like the Reagans than an actual Democrat — she always comes to the game quite late, after others who are far more brave and hard-working than she ever will be already have done all of the hardest work, and then pretends that she was on board with the right side the whole time. That’s not leadership. That’s craven opportunism.

Billary’s bullshit works, however, with millions of people — to a large degree she has the LGBT community in her pantsuit pocket because its politically and historically ignorant members actually buy her bullshit (ditto for the black community and other groups of historically oppressed individuals whose majorities support Billary); she says the right things, and that’s enough for the low-information voter.

This chicken, for one, won’t support Colonel Sanders, no matter how much sweet talk he spews forth or how much he tells me that the guy who owns Chick-fil-A is even worse than he is.

So in a Bernie-free/post-Bernie presidential campaign season, I’d pay attention to the news of the ongoing political race, but would I feel that I have a real stake in it? No. Neither Billary Clinton nor whoever the Repugnican Tea Party candidate will be (Donald Trump, most likely, but perhaps Ted Cruz) has my best interests at heart, and I’m quite clear on that fact.

Without Bernie in the race, I don’t have a horse that I can bring myself to root for.

That said, I still think that I would rather that Bernie not win the party’s presidential nomination than to go on to the general election in November and lose by a considerable margin (not that he would; I’m just speaking of such a big loss in a hypothetical sense). Because such a big loss would put Bernie, in the conventional “wisdom,” into the category of George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis (the presidential candidate who was unelectable because he was too far too the left) and thus probably would shut out progressivism within the Democratic Party for some time to come. (Progressivism already has been shut out from the party since the Clintonistas took over the party in the 1990s.)

What might actually help progressivism the most in the long term, actually, would be for Billary Clinton to go on to the November general election and then lose.

That should be, at long last, the stake in the hearts of the “Democrats” who sold out the party to big-money interests long ago, at least as far back in the 1990s (but actually really starting in the mid-1980s), when Bill Clinton and his wife and the right-wing, now-defunct-thank-Goddess “Democratic” “Leadership” Council coldly calculated that the best way to beat the Repugnicans was to become just like the Repugnicans.

Again for the record: I don’t relish a President Trump and of course I never would vote for someone like he. Don’t get me wrong. (But my best guess is that President Trump would be impeached and removed from office before he actually could destroy the planet in World War III.)

But a President Trump might, ironically, at long last save the Democratic Party from itself and return it to its progressive roots. Der Fuehrer Donald’s election just might make the Democrats realize how incredibly fucking stupid they were by picking Billary over Bernie.

(After all, in the match-up polling right now, Billary beats Trump by 6.3 percent, whereas Bernie beats Trump by 10 percent. Further, in the match-up polling right now Ted Cruz actually beats Billary by almost 1 percent, whereas Bernie beats Cruz by almost 10 percent.

And more Americans of all political persuasions like Bernie more than they dislike him by double digits, whereas recent polls show that anywhere from 6 percent to 21 percent more Americans of all political persuasions dislike Billary than like her.)

If President Trump doesn’t cause World War III and inadvertently saves the Democratic Party, then I’d say that his presidency would have been worth it.

Update (Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 10:50 a.m. Pacific Time): OK, so finally an e-mail from the Bernie campaign, which I received at 10:36 a.m. It reads:

When we started our campaign 10 months ago, Robert, I don’t think you could find a single person who would believe you if you said Bernie Sanders would win nine states by this point in the campaign.

Last night we beat all the polls in almost every state. We earned a significant number of delegates, and are on track for the nomination. Here’s why:

What you will not hear from the political and media establishment is that, based on the primary and caucus schedule for the rest of the race, this is the high water mark for the Clinton campaign. Starting today, the map now shifts dramatically in our favor.

Arizona, Idaho and Utah are up next Tuesday. Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state caucus the Saturday after. Then it’s Wisconsin’s turn to vote.

That means we have an extremely good chance to win nearly every state that votes in the next month. If we continue to stand together, we’re just getting started for our political revolution….

No one said a political revolution would be easy. We are up against a billionaire class and super-PACs that are determined to see us lose.

The fact remains that Hillary Clinton’s lead will never be as large as it is right now. From here on out we keep chipping away until we take the lead. But that can only happen if we keep fighting, and that’s why your $3 contribution to our campaign is so important.

The whole country will be watching to see how we respond in this moment. Let’s send a message that millions of Americans are just as ready to fight for an economy that works for everyone as we were when this campaign started 10 months ago.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

I’m glad that Bernie is still in it. I’m perfectly fine with him remaining in the race until he or Billary has clinched the necessary number of delegates to win the nomination. If nothing else, if Billary were to be unchallenged from the left from now to the convention, I think that she’d revert right back to her center-right bullshit, figuring that she already had everything wrapped up and so that it were safe to do so.

(No, I don’t believe, even for a nanosecond, that, as some have stupidly asserted, Bernie is permanently moving Billary to the left. Just her rhetoric has shifted leftward — temporarily. [It was just in September that she publicly proclaimed herself to be a moderate and a centrist.] She remains a dyed-in-the-wool [you know, her sheep’s clothing] Repugnican Lite/Democrat in name only.)

All of that said, yesterday’s election results were a considerable blow to Bernie’s campaign, with not a single state yet called for him. Again, in the end it all comes down to the numbers of delegates, but perception in politics is everything. The perception that you’re losing can make you lose and the perception that you’re winning can make you win.

After his stunning losses yesterday, or at least after the perception of them, I feel much less confident about Bernie’s chances today than I did yesterday.

But given the coming shit show, with a fascist leading the Repugnican Tea Party presidential field and a fascist lite leading the Democratic Party presidential field, from the ashes just might emerge a new, truly reformed, actually progressive Democratic Party.

Update (Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time): U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who is running to replace Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate for Florida (Rubio gave up his Senate seat to run for the presidency — d’oh!), recently wrote a pretty good piece for The Huffington Post.

In his piece he maintains that there is

…the second Democratic presidential primary: Democratic Presidential Primary 2.0. It runs from March 16 through June 7. It includes none of the “Old South” states, because they all will have already voted. It includes all of the Pacific states, and all of the “Mountain” states except Colorado and Nevada (which already voted). The biggest prizes are California (545 delegates), New York (291) and Pennsylvania (210).

Democratic presidential primary 2.0 elects a total of 2,033 pledged delegates. If Bernie Sanders wins those races (and delegates) by the same 60-40 margin that he has amassed in primaries and caucuses outside the “Old South” to date, then that will give him an advantage of 407 pledged delegates. That is more — far more — than the current Clinton margin of 223. [Note: Grayson wrote his piece before yesterday’s elections. Billary now has 314 more pledged delegates than Bernie has.]

Almost 700 pledged delegates are chosen on June 7 alone. It seems unlikely that either candidate will accumulate a margin of 700 pledged delegates before then. So this one may come down to the wire.

Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Again, I’m all for Bernie Sanders going until either he or Billary has hit the magic number of necessary delegates (2,383). There is no reason for him to stop before that has happened.

As I type this sentence, Billary has 1,139 pledged (earned in primary elections and caucuses) delegates and Bernie has 825. Including the “super-delegates,” who may change their minds as to which candidate to support, Billary has 1,606 delegates in all, and Bernie has 851.

If Billary wants the nomination, she needs to earn all 2,383 necessary delegates, in my book. There is no reason for Bernie to walk away now, and I’m in it for him as long as he is in it.

And, of course, as many have pointed out, including the man himself (many times), it’s not about Bernie; it’s about the cause of progressivism, which will continue, regardless of the outcome of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary race.

P.S. In a recent Democratic presidential candidate “town hall” (I haven’t watched the “town halls,” but I have watched all of the Dem debates), Bernie Sanders stated that he decided to run as a Democratic candidate instead of as an independent because it’s too difficult to run for the presidency as an independent.

This was nothing new — Bernie had said it before — but it was spun by the pro-Billary media as Bernie “using” (even “hijacking”) the Democratic Party to get to the White House.

Bitches, please.

Bernie Sanders never abandoned the Democratic Party; quite the contrary: the Democratic Party abandoned us progressives, long ago.

The Democratic Party has shriveled and calcified into a pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic shell of its former self, “led” by self-serving assholes (like the Clintons and yes, Barack Obama, too) who have claimed that the traditional Democratic values were lacking and defective and that the Democrats should be more like the Repugnicans — fuck that “opposition party” bullshit! Gotta join ’em to beat em!

All that this has done is to demoralize the party’s traditional base, who with each passing year find it harder and harder to support “Democratic” candidates. They just can’t work up the enthusiasm, and many if not most of them can’t put their finger on why, but many if not most of them still more or less remain loyal to the label, the brand name, anyway, even though it never does them any good, even though their lives never improve.

This pathetic, deteriorating condition can last for only so long; Billary has been hoping that it lasts at least long enough to put her over-privileged baby-boomer ass into the White House. (The baby boomer’s credo is “Get mine [and yours, too!] and get out.”)

Bernie Sanders has done much more for the moribund party than the party ever has done for him; he has injected some life into it. If it weren’t for Bernie, we’d have only Billary; we’d have no cause for hope or enthusiasm in this presidential election cycle whatsofuckingever.

That so many “Democrats” would claim that the progressive Bernie Sanders isn’t one of them demonstrates how far the party has fallen. Bernie should be a corporate whore just like Billary Clinton is, you see; then he would be a “good” “Democrat”!

The Billarybots celebrate Bernie’s demise at their own peril; once the enthusiasm that he has generated is gone, how well would the woefully charismatically challenged Billary fare in November? How many voters could she get to the polls to vote for her? (No, the anti-Trump vote probably wouldn’t be enough for her; the anti-George-W.-Bush vote wasn’t good enough for John Kerry in 2004. That and the voters are, I think, pretty fucking exhausted from being able to cast only anti-votes in this sick and fucking twisted system that we call “democracy.”)

And no, as Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir has just written and as I have written, we “Bernie bros” will not go to the dark side and vote for Donald Fucking Trump. That’s a false accusation fully meant to shame us into voting for Billary against our conscience.

But we don’t have to vote for Billary Clinton.

We can vote for someone else — I very well might vote for the Green Party presidential candidate if Billary is the Democratic Party presidential candidate — or we can not vote for president at all. We can and we may do as our conscience dictates, no matter what the Billarybots, who are unencumbered by a conscience, think about it or think about us.

And as Bernie garners the independent vote a lot better than does Billary (more info on that fact at this link, too), how well could she do in a general presidential election, the results of which which the independent voters (not just the minority of voters who are Democratic Party hacks) determine these days?

I sure didn’t predict yesterday’s election results well at all, but you probably can take this prediction to the bank: This Billary Bubble — in which Dem Party hacks stupidly believe that the nation as a whole likes Billary Clinton as much as they do — is going to pop.

Spectacularly.

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Notes on the Oscars that I didn’t watch

Cate Blanchett holds her Oscar for Best Actress for the film &quot;Blue Jasmine&quot; at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

Cate Blanchett is not just a pretty face, but a talented actress whose work should have been recognized with a Best Actress award more than a decade ago. Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto, on the other hand, unfortunately is just a pretty face…

Jared Leto, holds his Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in &quot;Dallas Buyers Club&quot; at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

Reuters photos

I don’t have cable television and don’t desire ever to have cable TV, and so I didn’t watch the Oscars last night (this year, for the first time ever, ABC made live streaming available — but only to those in certain markets who already have cable!), but I still have plenty of opinions about this year’s.

First off, it was about time that Cate Blanchett won a Best-Actress Oscar. She was robbed in 1998, when she was nominated for the award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in “Elizabeth” but lost to Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t hate Paltrow as so many others apparently do, but she didn’t turn in the best performance that year.

Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress again in 2007 for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” but the academy passed on her again, so last night was the third time and the charm for Blanchett, and she deserved it, as she turned in the best performance of the year, hands down.*

Indeed, Blanchett’s performance is what saves “Blue Jasmine,” which is not one of Woody Allen’s best scripts, even though it earned him yet another nomination for Best Original Screenplay (he did not win, and deservedly so, since the screenplay is a fairly trite rehash).

I’m glad that the members of the academy didn’t snub Blanchett again, this time because they didn’t want to appear to be supporters of child molestation, because to the hysterical members of the pro-Mia-Farrow camp, you see, anyone remotely associated with Woody Allen is for child molestation. (Under this “logic,” not only does Blanchett support child molestation for having worked with Allen, but if you even cast your Oscar ballot for Blanchett, then you, too, support child molestation, by extension.)

“12 Years a Slave” is a worthy Best Picture winner, but I would have been OK with either “Philomena” or “Nebraska” having won (of those two, “Philomena” probably is my favorite).

I saw all of the nominees for Best Picture except for “Her,” “Captain Phillips” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I would like to catch “Her,” and probably will, but the subject matter of neither “Captain Phillips” nor “The Wolf of Wall Street” appeals to me, and I’m a bit overdosed on Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio as it is (one word: overexposure). (Seriously, though, it wasn’t long ago enough that I saw DiCaprio as the Great Gatsby. I’m good for a while.)

“American Hustle” is an OK film — good, but not great — and “Gravity” and “Dallas Buyers Club” both have been over-hyped. None of those three nominees deserved to be named Best Picture.

“Gravity” is watchable (I saw it at IMAX), but, in my book, fatally flawed by its incredible — literally incredible, as in unbelievable — plot.

“Dallas Buyers Club” also is watchable enough, but come on, it’s like “Philadelphia” meets “Transamerica.” This gay man is as sick of movies about gay and/or transgender people being about AIDS as black folks are sick of movies being about slavery.

That said, yes, obviously the academy is filled with (mostly white) liberal guilt, and so if you make a movie about slavery, AIDS or the Holocaust, yes, your chances of winning an Oscar go up astronomically.

Again, “12 Years a Slave” is a worthy film, as I noted when it came out, but I do believe that (white) liberal guilt boosted it, just as it boosted “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Speaking further of which, I have enjoyed the return of Matthew McConaughey, whose performances in “Bernie,” “Killer Joe” and “Mud” all were good, but it seems to me that the main reason that he won Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club” is that he lost so much weight to play the role, which is not quite the same as great acting, but also because he played a man with AIDS, which also sure was good for Tom Hanks (who won Best Actor for the unworthy film “Philadelphia”).

I’d have given Best Actor to Chiwetel Ejiofor** for his performance in “12 Years a Slave” — not out of white liberal guilt, but because I think that he gave the best performance of the year.

At least the enthralling Lupita Nyong’o wasn’t robbed of the Best Supporting Actress award for her great performance in “12 Years a Slave.” Again, no white liberal guilt there — she earned that award, turning in a performance that probably is the heart and soul of the film. (I love Jennifer Lawrence, who did a good job in “American Hustle,” but this award wasn’t hers.)

And Jared Leto — don’t even get me started on him.

OK, so just as McConaughey won Best Actor for having lost a lot of weight and played a guy with AIDS, Leto won Best Supporting Actor for having lost a significant amount of weight and played a transgender individual with AIDS.

This was the result of full-blown liberal guilt. I don’t see that Leto’s performance was better than was Bradley Cooper’s in “American Hustle” or Michael Fassbender’s in “12 Years a Slave.” It was the transgender person with AIDS angle that did it.

I fully support equality for transgender individuals — I am a gay man myself — but isn’t coddling a historically oppressed minority group in a saccharin, maudlin manner just the flipside of oppressing that group?

Also, just as “Gravity’s” fatal flaw, in my book, is that its protagonist’s fantastic feats are just not believable, in my book “Dallas Buyers Club’s” fatal flaw is its portrayal of the protagonist, Ron Woodroof, as a homophobic heterosexual man with AIDS when, in fact, very apparently those who knew the real-life Woodroof — including his ex-wife — have said that he actually was at least bisexual, but possibly, if not even probably, gay. (Indeed, the photos of him that I’ve seen of him make my gaydar smoke.) Oh, and those who knew Woodroof dispute that he ever displayed homophobia (which, admittedly, a closeted gay man might do, especially in a homophobic state like Texas and in that day and time, to “prove” that he’s “heterosexual”).

Why the apparent change of such an important detail (the protagonist’s sexual orientation)?

Would Woodroof’s story have been less interesting if it had been that of just another faggot who had died of AIDS?

Can you pretend to be respectful of the gay “community” when you change a central character in a “real-life” story from non-heterosexual to heterosexual?

And in Jared Leto’s acceptance speech, he gave an unfortunate (but fortunately brief) shout-out to the “dreamers” of Venezuela and Ukraine. Wow.

On the surface, the “causes” of Venezuela and Ukraine appear to be great bandwagons for a good guilty white liberal to jump upon, but when you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find that those so-called-by-Jared-Leto “dreamers” are, in Venezuela, plutocratic and pro-plutocratic wingnuts who are just bitter that the socialist president there won the last presidential election — not by much, but he still won. They’re bitter that they lost the election and so they’re trying to force a do-over election (this was done in my state of California in 2003, with the gubernatorial recall election, which was, for all intents and purposes, just a do-over of the previous close gubernatorial election).

I fully expect wingnuts to support the Venezuelan “cause” of toppling a democratically elected socialist president because he is not a right-wing, pro-plutocratic president, but Leto, who presumably fashions himself to be a good liberal, should know better.

And the “dreamers” in Ukraine are largely far-right-wing nationalists, some of them even actual neo-Nazis.

Sure, they have a “dream.” Hitler had a dream, too.

These dreams might be great for them, but others of us, these dreams are nightmares.

Jared Leto, if he wants to be remembered as having been more than just pretty, really, really, really should do his homework before he endorses a “cause” in front of a massive, worldwide audience.

*OK, to be fair and thorough, I  saw all of the performances that were nominated for Best Actress except for Meryl Streep’s in “August: Osage County,” since the film’s previews suggest that it’s a mediocre, sappy film, worthy of perhaps catching on DVD. Still, I can’t imagine that Streep’s performance in that surpassed Blanchett’s in “Blue Jasmine.” My second choice for best actress would have been Judi Dench for “Philomena.”

**To be fair and thorough, I saw all of the performances that were nominated for Best Actor except for Leonardo DiCaprio’s in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” (Hey, if I got paid to see [and write about] movies that I wouldn’t ordinarily see, that would be different!)

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When it rains, it pours: NAACP now is on board with same-sex marriage

I still believe that President Barack Obama, for his ubiquitous campaign promises of “hope” and “change,” publicly came out for same-sex marriage too late in his presidency — the time to do the right thing is (almost) always right now — and I still believe that Obama publicly came out for same-sex marriage only after he’d calculated that it was politically safe to do so (and maybe even only after he’d calculated that it was politically harmful to continue not to do so).

And I certainly don’t want to be told that I should be thankful that Obama politically went out on a limb for my fellow non-heterosexuals and otherwise non-gender-conforming individuals when, in fact, we helped put him in the Oval Office, and when, in fact, our equal human and civil rights always have been and always will be far more important than is one politician.

All of that said, Obama’s belated pro-same-sex-marriage proclamation seems to be having benefits that perhaps even he didn’t foresee.

Not only have leaders within the black community such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton proclaimed that they support same-sex marriage — Jackson not long ago enough was adamant that same-sex marriage is not about civil rights — but the NAACP yesterday announced its support of same-sex marriage, calling same-sex marriage a civil right.

The Associated Press quotes NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous as having proclaimed: “Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

Wow.

True, Jealous is a young black leader — he’s 39, the youngest president that the NAACP has ever had — and it’s true that younger people are much more accepting of same-sex marriage and other equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals than are older people. And it’s true that there are many, many older people (and yes, plenty of younger people), of all races, who are going to take their homophobia with them to their graves, regardless of what Barack Obama or Benjamin Todd Jealous or Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or you or I have to say about same-sex marriage and equal human and civil rights for all.

But the good news is that old bigots do die, that they have fewer days ahead of them than they have behind them. And as today’s younger bigots grow older and their bigotry becomes less and less acceptable, at least they increasingly will keep their stupid fucking mouths shut and keep their ignorance and hatred to their miserable selves.

Given that blacks have been the one racial group in the United States most opposed to equality for non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals, having the likes of Obama and Jealous and Jackson and Sharpton now proclaiming that the black community should share the civil rights pie already with non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals should, within a few years, I surmise, put a fairly solid majority of Americans (say, at least 55 percent of them) in favor of equality for all.

There is a pretty good article on the topic of black homophobia that Slate writer William Saletan posted in November 2008, shortly after the nation elected its first black president — and after black voters were the largest racial group of voters in California who voted down same-sex marriage by voting yes on Proposition 8. Saletan begins:

[November 4, 2008] was a good day to be black. It was not a good day to be gay.

Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure to prohibit gay couples from adopting kids. Florida and Arizona voters approved measures to ban gay marriage. But the heaviest blow came in California, where a gay-marriage ban, Proposition 8, overrode a state Supreme Court ruling that had legalized same-sex marriage.

A surge of black turnout, inspired by Barack Obama, didn’t help liberals in the Proposition 8 fight. In fact, it was a big reason why they lost. The gay marriage problem is becoming a black problem.

The National Election Pool exit poll tells the story. Whites and Asian Americans, comprising 69 percent of California’s electorate, opposed Proposition 8 by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. Latinos favored it, 53-47. But blacks turned out in historically high numbers — 10 percent of the electorate — and 70 percent of them voted for Proposition 8. …

I remember that Election Day well. I had cast my vote for Barack Obama, only to learn within the following days that while I had supported the black community, the black community had coldly turned its back on me.

Saletan’s article even indicates that perhaps black homophobia helped get George W. Bush a second term in 2004:

A report from the pro-gay National Black Justice Coalition attributes President Bush’s 2004 re-election in part to the near-doubling of his percentage of the black vote in Ohio, which he achieved “by appealing to black churchgoers on the issue of marriage equality.” This year, blacks in California were targeted the same way.

The NBJC report paints a stark picture of the resistance. It cites surveys showing that “65 percent of African Americans are opposed to marriage equality compared to 53 percent of whites” and that blacks are “less than half as likely to support marriage equality and legal recognition of same-sex civil unions as whites.”

It concludes: “African Americans are virtually the only constituency in the country that has not become more supportive over the last dozen years, falling from a high of 65 percent support for gay rights in 1996 to only 40 percent in 2004.” Nor is the problem dying out: “Among African-American youth, 55 percent believed that homosexuality is always wrong, compared to 36 percent of Latino youth and 35 percent of white youth.”

Saletan then goes, at some length, into the black homophobes’ “mutability”/“immutability” “argument,” which I just don’t fucking buy. (Who chooses to be a member of an historically reviled and oppressed minority group? Fucking duh.) I still surmise, as I wrote recently, that most homophobic blacks remain homophobic primarily because (1) they want to remain, in the national story, the only victims of prejudice and discrimination and oppression, because their identity is wrapped up in race-based victimhood, real or imagined/fabricated, and (2) because they want there to be one minority group that even they still can shit and piss upon, because it’s better to be near the bottom of the sociological dog-pile that is the United States of America than it is to be at the very bottom, isn’t it?

This is cruelty and hypocrisy, of course, to demand equality for one’s own minority group but to continue to shit and piss upon the members of another historically oppressed minority group. When the historically hated and oppressed become the haters and oppressors of others, it’s pretty fucking ugly. (Are you listening, Palestinian-oppressing Israelis?)

And, of course, homophobia within the black community doesn’t just hurt gay whites like me. It hurts blacks in many ways. Being rejected by your own family for not being heterosexual and/or gender-conforming contributes to such problems as drug and alcohol addiction, emotional and psychological disorders, suicide attempts, and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, because individuals who have come to believe that they are shit for not being heterosexual and/or gender-conforming often don’t worry too much about protecting themselves because they probably want to die anyway, their self-esteem is that low.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in fact, reports:

African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Despite representing only 14 percent of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in that year. Compared with members of other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease — from new infections to deaths.

Black homophobia — and its attendant ignorance and fear and stunning lack of education and enlightenment — probably is the No. 1 reason for those grim statistics, and, of course, heterosexual black women are less likely to contract HIV and other STDs if their black male sexual partners who actually are homosexual or bisexual don’t feel pressured to lead double lives in order to give the appearance of heterosexuality in order to please the homophobic bigots in their lives. (The CDC reports than for 2009, “Most [85 percent of] black women with HIV acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for black women was more than 15 times as high as the rate for white women, and more than three times as high as that of Latina women.”)

And, of course, it’s much easier for me and other non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals to be supportive of the members of the black community if we have the same love and respect from them that they want from us.

With equal human and civil rights for everyone, everyone wins.

Except, perhaps, for the members of the right wing, who have opposed equal human and civil rights, who have opposed liberty and justice for all, forever.

That so many blacks have shared that trait with the white wingnuts is nothing short of tragic.

P.S. Here is the text of the NAACP’s decision to support same-sex marriage, from the organization’s website:

The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.

Of course, that last sentence, an apparent afterthought, apparently had to be thrown in there in order to appease the churchgoing set. Of course, one’s religious freedoms do not include the “right” to impose his or her own religious beliefs upon everyone else, which the churchgoing set has a problem understanding, thus their incredibly insane claim that they are victimized if they are not allowed to victimize others, because their religious beliefs include the supposedly Bible-based victimization of others.

Not being a member of the black community, I don’t know how much sway the NAACP has within the black community. The organization’s website proclaims:

The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving vs. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same-sex marriage.

While I am happy to see the NAACP’s comparison of same-sex marriage rights to mixed-race (heterosexual) marriage rights, if it is true that the NAACP showed “strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California,” the fact that 70 percent of the state’s black voters voted down same-sex marriage nontheless indicates, unfortunately, that the NAACP doesn’t have an awful lot of sway within the black community, at least not here in California or in North Carolina or in the other states where black voters have shot down same-sex marriage in much higher percentages than have their white, Latino and Asian counterparts.

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Duuude! 2011 in Cali is going to ROCK!

So in November, I predict, not only will a majority of California’s voters put “Governor Moonbeam” back into office, but they will make marijuana legal in the state. And there’s the possibility that they will make it legal again for same-sex couples to wed.

It will be like the ’70s all over again.

Yes, the ’70s, the decade of free love and weed that I missed out on because I was born in 1968 and spent the ’70s first in day care (the boomers were such great fucking parents) and then in elementary school. When I finally was of partying age, I got — President Ronald Fucking Reagan. And AIDS.*

Don’t get me wrong — Repugnican California guv wannabe Nutmeg Whitman, a billionaire former CEO who never has held public office but wants to buy the governorship of the nation’s most populous state, must be brought down. We can’t act as though Jerry Brown already has won the election. We have to fight (… for our right … to paartaaay!**).

But when all is said and done, even if Nutmeg doesn’t make some major campaign-killing fuckup, I expect that the majority of California’s voters, hit hard by the economy brought to them by the Repugnican Party, aren’t going to vote for another fucking Repugnican to lead the state.

Megalomaniac wants us to believe that she’s great because she’s a billionaire. But a majority of Californians, I think, are much more resentful of what the super-rich have done to the nation and to the state than they want to emulate the plutocrats.

Plus, Nutmeg is fugly. She is. That shouldn’t matter in elections, but it does. Ask former Cosmo centerfold Scott Brown, who is, I believe, the only U.S. senator whose pubes I have seen. (I, um, rather doubt that a Nutmeg sex tape is going to surface… Although if one does, it’s probably sex that she had to pay for... And we know that she can afford the best that money can buy…)

And yesterday it was big news in the state that a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the nation’s most populous and greatest state has qualified for the November ballot. (I would have blogged on it yesterday, but I was too stoned. No, kidding — I was too tired after work yesterday to blog on it, actually.)

Anyway, The Associated Press reports:

The [ballot] initiative would allow those 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, enough to roll dozens of marijuana cigarettes. Residents also could grow their own crop of the plant in gardens measuring up to 25 square feet.

The proposal would ban users from ingesting marijuana in public or smoking it while minors are present. It also would make it illegal to possess the drug on school grounds or drive while under its influence.

Local governments would decide whether to permit and tax marijuana sales.

Proponents of the measure say legalizing marijuana could save the state $200 million a year by reducing public safety costs. At the same time, it could generate tax revenue for local governments.

A Field Poll taken in April found a slim majority of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana to help bridge the state budget deficit.

My guess is that at least 55 percent of the voters will vote “yes” on the marijuana measure — and that many, many of us Californians will discover a new love for gardening.

(Of course, pot dealers aren’t happy about their impending business losses, but hey, they should have had a back-up plan anyway.)

Not only can the state sorely use the tax revenue from marijuana sales, but there is absofuckinglutely no reason to allow alcohol and tobacco to remain legal but not marijuana.

(My only concern is whether or not the feds will try to step in and block the legalization of marijuana in California like Cruella de Vil coming for the doobies — er, doggies. I haven’t researched that possibility yet.)

So I can envision a California with a Democratic governor again — and not just any Democratic governor, but Gov. Jerry Fucking Brown — and a state that has legalized marijuana, which should have been legalized long ago and which only those who decry a “nanny state” inconsistently hold should remain illegal.

OK, now I’m really going to do some California dreamin’ here:

There is an effort also to put same-sex marriage back on the November 2010 ballot, to reverse Proposition 8, which in November 2008 passed with only 52 percent of the vote. (You can sign the petition, and perhaps also collect petition signatures, by going here. The effort needs to collect a total of 1 million signatures of registered California voters by April 5, so you need to mail your signature[s] in quickly.) 

Now that the main pushers of Prop 8 — the Mormon cult and the pedophilic Catholick church, which bankrolled the last-minute multi-million-dollar pro-Prop 8 media blitz of homophobic lies — have been exposed, I surmise that same-sex marriage could pass this November, or no later than in November 2012.

The Public Policy Institute of California just released a poll that shows that 50 percent of Californians support same-sex marriage, with 45 percent opposed and 5 percent undecided. That’s good news, given that the multi-million-dollar campaign of lies induced 52 percent of the voters to vote down same-sex marriage in November 2008.

The Field Poll found a year ago that 48 percent of Californians then supported same-sex marriage, with 47 percent opposed and 5 percent undecided.

It seems to me that most of the undecideds will end up in the pro-same-sex-marriage column, as the haters already know that they’re haters, and I put the state’s haters at just under 50 percent (somewhere around 45 percent to 49 percent, tops).

My best guess is that if the issue were voted upon by California voters today, it would be a reversal of the November 2008 results, with around 51 percent to 52 percent for same-sex marriage and around 48 percent to 49 percent opposed.

Come January 2011, we Californians could be smoking (and even growing!) weed freely and marrying whom we wish to marry, under the wise and loving governance of Governor Moonbeam.

Hell yeah!

*No, I mean, I’m not HIV-positive, but before I could even think about getting it on with another dude, fucking AIDS burst onto the scene, ruining gay sex for me and my cohorts, who still can recall seeing images of AIDS victims who looked like concentration camp victims, and some of us, such as I did, as a hospice nurse, watched people die of the disease with our own eyes.

**Kidding! Mostly…

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A singular film

Film review

Colin Firth plays the character of the tortured gay English professor George Falconer in the film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s somewhat autobiographical novel A Single Man.

I love gay men’s history.

Call me a geek, but I’ve long believed that it’s difficult to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, especially as a member of a historically oppressed minority group, and so I eat up gay history.

As a college student in a red state in the mid- to late 1980s, I had to remain closeted or risk harassment, perhaps even to the point that remaining at my university might have been made impossible — and further, the newish AIDS crisis was on and there still was some hysteria as to how easily AIDS was transmitted from person to person, so not only was same-sex sex was ruined for me, but there was the further social stigma that Gay meant Dying of the New (Gay) Plague. As if being hated for not being attracted to the opposite sex weren’t bad enough, gay men were the New Lepers.

While the pre-AIDS generations of gay men got to have their sexual romps (the unfortunate price of which many if not most of them paid later), the closet was even rougher for them than it was for me; for them, consensual homosexual relations meant possible arrest and even incarceration for “sex crimes” and a life ruined.

Among my gay-rights heroes are Harry Hay (I recently watched a DVD biography on Hay titled “Hope Along the Wind,” which, among other things, chronicles the high degree of secrecy in which the early gay-rights groups had to meet in the paranoid 1950s, and the nexus between homosexuality and Communism created by the wingnutty McCarthyites); Harvey Milk, of course (whom I lovingly regard as “St. Harvey”); and Christopher Isherwood, who, like Hay, was born in England but eventually found himself in California to, in his own way, mostly through his writing, advance gay rights.

Now has come the film version of what many critics consider to be Isherwood’s best novel, A Single Man, in which the main character, George Falconer, bears striking resemblances to Isherwood.

In “A Single Man,” directed and co-written by Tom Ford, George (played wonderfully by Colin Firth, who also played an interesting gay character in the quirky queer-themed 1989 thriller “Apartment Zero”) is an English professor living in Los Angeles of the early 1960s, a place where it was easier to be gay in the United States than in most other places in the nation at the time, but a time when it still wasn’t OK to the vast majority of Americans for anyone to be gay anywhere.

George has just lost his younger mate, Jim, to a car accident after their 16-year relationship, and George struggles to continue with his life.

I imagine that in that day and age it was difficult to find a same-sex mate at all, so to lose one with whom you’d really bonded would have been devastating.

And indeed, George is devastated, which “A Single Man” chronicles.

George’s main emotional support comes from his female friend and neighbor, Charley, a fellow Londoner who came to Los Angeles to pursue a dream that eluded her also. Charley is an alcoholic and so she can be only so supportive of George, and further complicating their friendship, Charley still wishes that she and Charley had become a married couple before their lives went in different directions.

Poignant scenes in “A Single Man” abound: The flashbacks between George and his deceased partner Jim (played quite charmingly by Matthew Goode); the scene in which George is informed by Jim’s relative that Jim’s funeral is for “family” only; the uncomfortable scene in which Charley, apparently not really thinking, denigrates the years-long relationship that George and Jim had had as something rather frivolous and not very serious; the scene in which George is propositioned by an apparent hustler who exudes sex appeal (and who actually seems like good relationship material, not just a hustler); the scene in which George indirectly brings up homosexuality in his English class and his closeted-by-necessity gay male students squirm in their seats. Perhaps no scene is better than the one in which George’s suicide attempt is bungled by his own anal retentiveness.

Providing a story to go along with the scenes of George’s dreary life of an aging, closeted widow(er) is the hot pursuit of George by one of students, the earnest, young and gay Kenny, played by a doe-eyed, angora-sweater-wearing Nicholas Hoult, probably best known for having played the fatherless little boy chasing after the single ladies’ man Hugh Grant in 2002’s “About a Boy.” I find it funny that Hoult has played two roles now in which his character chases around an Englishman, albeit with very different intentions.

The roundabout language that the gay male characters in “A Single Man” have to use in discussing their homosexuality — they have to dance around the subject — is interesting, and maybe one could argue that it was more romantic and thrilling to be gay during the time when you couldn’t talk about “the love that dare not speak its name” directly. The closet is a soul-stifling place to be, however, so I can’t say that I’d trade today’s more open atmosphere for the thrill or the romance of the closet, if there ever was or is such a thing.

The charged interaction between Kenny and George raises the issue of how much of an age difference is OK in sexual relationships, but to me the even larger issue is whether a college professor of any sexual persuasion should be sleeping with any of his or her students. (The answer to that is no, and I won’t tell you how it plays out between Kenny and George.)

The dynamic between George and Kenny seems to mirror the real-life dynamic between Christopher Isherwood and his much younger partner, Don Bachardy, who still was in his teens when he and the 48-year-old Isherwood met and became a couple in the 1950s in Southern California, where in the 1950s and 1960s Isherwood taught English at Los Angeles State College (now Californa State University at Los Angeles; and no, Barchardy was not a student of Isherwood’s when they met).

The worthwhile 2008 documentary “Chris & Don: A Love Story,” chronicles Isherwood and Bachardy’s relationship up to Isherwood’s death from prostate cancer at age 81 in 1986. (Unlike “A Single Man’s” character of Jim, Bachardy outlived Isherwood, and he is alive today; interestingly, Tom Ford reportedly said in this interview: “As I understand it from Don Bachardy … Christopher wrote this story when Don left him for about eight months and moved to New York with someone else. Christopher imagined that Don had died and that he was alone, and he wrote this story.”)

While “Chris & Don” demonstrates that the significant age difference between Isherwood and Bachardy apparently sometimes reared its ugly head in their relationship — such as how Isherwood apparently often was a father figure to Barchardy as well as his lover, and how Isherwood allowed the much younger Barchardy to have dalliances with men of his own generation — I hesitate to judge two others’ relationship, as only the two people in a relationship can really know what that relationship is all about.

“Chris & Don” and “A Single Man” are good companion pieces, and I recommend that those who have seen and enjoyed one of the two films see the other.

And I add “A Single Man” to the canon of worthwhile films about what it was like to be gay back in the day, such as “Brokeback Mountain” (which, like “A Single Man,” also takes place in the early 1960s), “Far from Heaven” (also starring Julianne Moore, and which, like “A Single Man” does, captures the look and feel of the time period shockingly well), “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Milk” (of course).

My only gripe with “A Single Man” is that I don’t like its ending. Why do so many gay protagonists have to meet with a tragic ending? Why do the straights so often get to live happily ever after but we gay men so often don’t?

I don’t blame Tom Ford, though; I have an old paperbook copy of Isherwood’s A Single Man, which I haven’t read, but I did glimpse at the novel’s ending, and apparently Ford was being faithful to the ending of the novel. (He probably would have gotten some shit from the purists if he hadn’t.)

I’d like to think that if Isherwood wrote the novel today, it would have a happier ending, an ending that he just couldn’t have imagined when he had it published in 1964.

My grade: A-

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