I Have To Admit It’s Getting Meta, Or: Eight Years And One Day Out Of The Closet

Even though yesterday was my eighth coming out anniversary, I didn’t repost my coming out story this year, as I have done for the past several years. The reason is simple: Instead of republishing it in English, I decided to translate it into my native Norwegian and post it on another blog I’m running. As such, yesterday probably saw a greater addition to my online legacy as a bearer of gayness than many other anniversaries. Continue reading

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“The icing, not the cake”: Gazing Gayly at the World Cup

The World Cup was decided weeks ago – and as my previous post should attest to, it was decided to my definitive satisfaction – but I’m not quite done with it yet. When the tournament started, Amanda Hess wrote a piece in Slate on the pleasures and potential pitfalls on objectifying the male physique at display. I’ve been doing rankings and listicle on sexiness on this blog for years, and have occasionally tried to discuss whether through that I might be contributing to a sinister sexualization of our popular culture, so I read her piece with interest. Continue reading

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Taking Sides and Switching Allegiances at the World Cup

For a soccer fan, nothing beats the World Cup. Sure, I might joke about the more tedious-sounding fixtures, like, say Nigeria-Iran or Ecuador-Honduras, but as soon as the tournament gets underway, they all become part of that long, hard, beautiful battle for gold in which giants falter and little mice roar. Usually I look with disbelief bordering on disdain on people who call themselves “soccer fans”. To me, being deeply invested in the game is so inextricably linked with particular players and teams that high-minded paeans to “the beautiful game” itself are mostly meaningless. Soccer takes its meaning and its energy from sympathies and antipathies, hopes for glory and the soothing cynicism of schadenfreude, something the impartial pleasure-seeker is cut off from experiencing. And yet, I delivered a variation on that very “beautiful game” flourish just a few sentences ago. So what it is about the World Cup that, at least in my case, suspends the usual laws of soccer fandom? Continue reading

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More Pop Culture Podcasts

See also:  Favorite Pop Culture Podcasts

Pop Culture Happy Hour

This weekly NPR podcast quickly made its way into my rotation as I listened my way back through the four-year archive over a period of about four months earlier this year. Covering TV, movies, literature, comics, theatre and everything in between, panelists Linda Holmes, Glenn Weldon and Stephen Thompson often start with a reasonably clear main topic, only to see it expand as it is informed by the particular expertise of the contributors. Scheduling reasons and the loose format makes the show less beholden to the traditional release schedule based podcasting of some of its also-excellent competitors, but what really sells the show is the easy rapport of its panelists. Continue reading

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The Return of the Young Leonardos

Back  in 2008, I singled out Emile Hirsch, Michael Pitt and Kevin Zegers as three Young Leonardos (YLs). The standard was somewhat lazily applied, as it was not readily apparent what it took to be in contention for the title, apart from a) being handsome in a Leonardo DiCaprio-like way, and b) having shown a willingness to take on some challenging work in addition to career-conscious mainstream movies. Continue reading

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Reading the Right

Back in 2010, I made a list of political journalists and pundits who helped shape my views on American politics. While I have always tried to be omnivorous and adventurous in the opinions I seek out, it could not have come as a surprise to people who know my personal politics that almost all of the writers on the list were broadly liberal or left-leaning. (Leave aside for the moment that the “liberal” vs. “conservative” dichotomy is not only useless in describing my affiliation with Nordic social democracy, but even in categorizing the views of most Americans.) In the intervening years, I have in fact tried to broaden my horizon by supplementing my daily diet of liberal punditry with views from the right, for “balance”, education and entertainment. Not all the journalists or pundits who opine about conservatives or conservatism share the right’s outlook, of course, but over the years I have find a handful of people who I turn to if I want to understand a little bit more about how the American right works. Continue reading

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On Tom Daley, Bisexuality and Gay Stereotypes

Just a few quick words on British diver and Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley. Last December he revealed in a YouTube video that he was dating a man, and by doing it in such a seemingly casual way he joined the ranks of, among others, hip hop artist Frank Ocean and actor Jim Parsons. At the time I wrote of how happy I was for him and how his openness could make the coming out process easier for other athletes.

Although much of the media reporting on Daley’s video message at the time said he had come out as gay, it would be probably be more accurate to say that, if anything, he’d indicated that he was bisexual. However, it now seems that he recently told E! Online that he considers himself a gay man. It changes absolutely nothing about what I said about his announcement at the time, and it takes nothing away from the bravery he showed. Lots of people are bisexual, and others call themselves bisexual before deciding that their orientation is better described by the word “gay” or something else. Yes, Tom Daley said in his video that he “still fancied girls”, but his most recent comments doesn’t mean that couldn’t have been true at the time, or that he was something “lying” or “in denial”. While I’m glad that Tom is comfortable enough with himself to talk about how his relationship has changed how he sees himself, the most important point might be one that Daley himself has stressed previously; that labels shouldn’t really matter.

It is well-known that the gay community has had some problems with incorporating the experiences of bisexuals into the story of the movement, and it is disheartening that bisexuality is still looked down upon or in some respects not even recognized as a distinct sexual orientation. But one other interesting aspect of the evolving story of Tom Daley’s coming out was how parts of the media greeted the news that he was dating Dustin Lance Black. I’m not trying to weave a broader trend from the web of tackiness that is the UK tabloids, but the Sun‘s front page a couple of days after Daley’s coming out announcement trafficked in a very specific type of gay stereotyping: “Tom’s love is an Oscar-winning activist… and 20 years older”

The sensationalist exclamation point was the only thing missing, really. There wasn’t so much subtext as just plain text. It’s mostly all there in that telling ellipsis. Poor Tom, a mere 19, must have been seduced by the Hollywood dazzle and power of a man – gasp! – 20 years his senior. The Sun skilfully, if shamefully, dog-whistled about the gay adult who feed on vulnerable younger men, while covering its tracks by simply being true to the genre tropes of British tabloid journalism. And apropos of Dustin Lance Black, the tastelessness of The Sun reminded me of a story about him, Gus van Sant and Taylor Lautner from a few years back. The three of them were having dinner together, and for some reason GQ, profiling Lautner, decided to ask him if the two older men had made a pass at him. This could of course be just a joke question asked by a writer who had a bad day on the job, but the way I (and Dustin Lance Black) read it,  here was that murky stereotype of the predatory gay at play again.

No  matter what your sexual orientation is, you shouldn’t have to endure the thinly-veiled homophobia and just plain ignorance that still permeates much of public discourse. The Sun and others should be called out on it, so that Tom Daley is able to focus on his diving career, as he has said he wants to.

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