Monday, March 31, 2014

Bad Gays vs. Good Gays. The New Gay Fundamentalism

There was a time in the recent past when a "Bad Gay" was someone who perhaps didn't know who Cher was, or perhaps wore white pants two weeks after Labor Day.  Someone who was oblivious of the difference between a Mid-Century Modern, eclectic and just plain tacky.  Perhaps a gay that might wear last season's fashions, but without being ironic.

Today's "Bad Gay" is the gay that refuses to accept the new "Gay Fundamentalism". What is gay fundamentalism?  It's a combination of failed public health policy, sex shaming, body shaming bundled up with traditional gay marriage and practiced with the religious fervor of a Talibani.  It's about ensuring that if one person is not happy with the state of the gay world, nobody should be happy. It's about limiting personal choices about sex, protection, relationships and who should get good sex and who shouldn't.  You can see how the new morality plays out on episodes of HBO's "Looking" and in the incoherent rants in the comment sections on articles about Truvada.

First let's encapsulate the new "gay fundies" commandments:

1. Your sole goal as a gay man should be to find a husband and get married, legally.  
2. You must be monogamous for life, because it works so well for straight people. 
3.Condoms every time you have sex for the rest of your life, even if you hate them.
4. Dating not hook-ups.  (at least say you're dating and then don't put a face pic on GRNDR).
5. Don't ever consider any new breakthroughs in HIV prevention, like Truvada (more effective than condoms in preventing HIV) because that means you're having sex for fun, not for the purpose of securing a relationship.(see #2)
6. Sex for fun is BAD! Sex should only be for the purpose of commandment #1.
7. "Bottom Shame" Never, ever admit you're a bottom.  If you are, always say it much...and  say "ouch take it out."
8. If you're in a relationship and have a threesome, it means the relationship is fundamentally flawed and loveless. 
9. You are now a "person of size" and that's OK....but thin and muscular guys have to respect that and have sex with you or you'll whine that gym rats are only into each other. 
10. "Straight Acting only" Shun and deny any "feminine" qualities in yourself and other men. Refuse to be seen with a man with "feminine" qualities and say things like: "gurrrrl, she is such a nelly, not a butch top like me."
11. Thou shalt not be a gay Republican.
12. Say things like "I'm not THAT kind of gay, I'd never go to a Gay Pride Parade."

Obviously "Bad Gays" break these rules and are open to ridicule.  Shunning, cyber bullying, sex shaming occur to men who don't talk the talk or sashay the walk. There is a way to be gay and of course anyone who wants something other than a healthy happy long term relationship with a dog and two children is just wrong.  How dare you concentrate on career and fun before marriage? How dare you enjoy your body for yourself before giving it over, forever to that one perfect man for life.  How dare you be single and 40 and happy? How dare you enjoy being the receptive partner in anal sex, and do it with Truvada and not a condom? How dare a married gay couples go on a gay cruise and "play around" consensually with other adults?  You are all bad gays.

All those "bad gays" make the "good gays" look bad in the eyes of straight people, who don't want to be reminded that gay men are really a lot different than straight men, lesbians and women.

White, thin, "straight acting", top...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Old Miami vs. New Miami vs. Newer Miami

It's so nice that Miami has such a sweet short history. I mean a city that barely cracks 118 years old is like an adolescent to a city like, say Boston which will be 400 in a few years, or London which is close 2000 years of habitation.  Basically Miami is an embryo.  Which is a good thing, because with a city so new, you're actually living history, and you can see, in your own lifetime giant changes, and glimpses of the past that remain. Another cool thing is that our cultural institutions are living up to the promise of what great cities should have.  Things like the Miami City Ballet, the Grand Opera are world class. Our panapoly of professional sports teams should be the envy of any city striving for excellence.  So not to bore you any more here a few things that have changed since my family arrived back in the 19th Century.

Old Miami:  "I was born in Dr. Jackson's medical shack on Brickell Ave." My Grandma.
New Miami: " I was born in Jackson Memorial Hospital" My dad.
Newer Miami "I was born in Cuba" everyone I hang out with.

Old Miami: pronounced "Miamah"
New Miami: pronounced "Miami"
Newer Miami: "MeeAmee"

Old Miami: Pan American Airlines
New Miami: Eastern Airlines, National Airlines
Newer Miami: American Airlines

Power brokers:
Old Miami: Henry Flagler
New Miami: Jorge Mas-Canosa
Newer Miami: Jorge Perez

Entertainment Areas:
Old Miami: Coconut Grove
New Miami: South Beach
Newer Miami: Mary Brickell Village

Old Miami: Flagler St.
New Miami: Dadeland Mall
Newer Miami: Dolfin Mall, Aventura Mall

High end shopping:
Old Miami: Lincoln Road
New Miami: Bal Harbor
Newer Miami: Merrick Place

Old Miami: Dolphin Cruises
New Miami: Carnival Cruise Lines
Newer Miami: MSC Divina

Old Miami: Al Capone
New Miami: Miami River Cops
Newer Miami: where to begin?

Old Miami: Jordan Marsh
New Miami: Burdines
Newer Miami: Macy's

Old Miami: Biltmore Hotel
New Miami: Intercontinental Miami
Newer Miami: Peninsula Hotel, Four Seasons, Ritz Carleton, Setai

Old Miami: Joe's Stone Crab
New Miami: Versailles
Newer Miami: Juvia

Obnoxious Visitors:
Old Miami: New Yorkers
New Miami: Porteños
Newer Miami: Paulistas

Local Shows:
Old Miami: Jackie Gleason Show
New Miami: Miami Vice
Newer Miami: Burn Notice

Old Miami: Coral Gables
New Miami: Kendall
Newer Miami: Doral, Weston

Hispanic Enclaves:
Old Miami: Little Havana
New Miami: Westchester, Hialeah
Newer Miami: Key Biscayne

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Miami Like a Local or Five Things To Do In Miami in April

Ok, I'm going to pull the old "fourth generation Miamian" cred to mention some cool stuff that you can do in April when Miami's weather is at its most glorious.  Here are some great things you can do which can be off the beaten track but well worth the effort. 
And it exceeds expectations....except maybe for the art. 
1. Visit the new Art Museum: controversies aside, and that Miami only gets second billing in the name, it's still pretty great.  Whatever you think about its art collection, there is no doubt that the building built by Herzog & de Meuron is fantastic. It is truly Miami's new front porch. Chillax on the best and biggest veranda in town. Not since Schuckers collapsed have we had a nice sit down view of our beautiful Biscayne Bay. 

2. Ride your bike out to the old secret Aerojet military base in the Everglades.  A testing ground for rockets to be launched to moon, it's amazingly, eerily cool. Old bunkers and hangers abound festooned with some the best graffiti murals south of Wynwood.  It's a five mile hike in and out and it's perfect for a casual bike ride. The road in is in very good shape. Very little shade, get out there now before the bugs take over in the summer. Check out Robert Is Here fruitstand  on your way home.

Tastes like chicken

3. Shark Valley is always a fun bike ride. Yeah, it's not exactly "seeing Miami like a local" but there are a lot fewer tourists at this North entrance of the Everglades than down in Flamingo.  A great 15 mile loop with a tower at the half-way mark.  Great views of gators, glades and birds.  Get there early on your own bike and take the loop to see the amazing varieties of birds. Locals know not to get too close to gators resting on the roadway. 

4. Kayak Biscayne bay, whether its a quick nature jaunt through Oleta State Park's mangroves or gawk at the Venetian Islands' mansions. A full moon kayak will let you watch how the 1% wander through their waterfront homes unbeknownst that voyeurs are drifting just yards away. Check out the spill islands along the channels and paddle up to the sandbars around Haulover to see boat to boat hi-jinks.

5. Go to South Point Park different times a day. There's a terrific dog park at one end that's always busy. The beaches, watching the cruise ships come in, and there seems to be plenty of parking. The light columns at night are mesmerizing as they change colors. Truly one of America's great urban waterfront parks. It's everything Miami's Bayfront Park should be but isn't. 

So there you go.....enjoy your Miami "Spring". Which means good weather and fewer bugs. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Anchor Babies, Kiev, Dog Parks, Caracas, Learn Spanish

So it's been an interesting few weeks in global affairs. Apparently the cold-war restarted, and Venezuela is in some kind of melt-down.  It's in this now interconnected world it plays out in my personal life and even at my local dog park.

Let's take, for example, the problems in Ukraine.  You would think that an uprising so far away would have small ripples in balmy South Florida.   My hubby works for a company based behind the Iron Curtain. (I'm going to just use Cold War terms from here on out.)  His boss makes a mysterious trip to "check out" the South Florida office. An office with just six employees.  A very small branch office of a large multinational company.  Every one is in a fuss....nobody knows why he's coming.  They invite him and his wife out to dinner......she shows up with her 10 day old baby.....her ten day old "anchor" baby.  They are proud parents of an American citizen.  She proceeds to tell us how all her friends back home use a large network of hospitals and doctors that cater well-to-do Eastern Europeans who want their babies born in the U.S.  I was wondering if recent events might alter her very sunny maternity in Sunny Isles along with all her well-to-do Soviet moms that are busily hatching new ties to the west everyday. What surprised me more was the matter-of-fact way it was presented. It is as if she was saying: "Of course my baby will be born in the West, really, do you think I want  to live my life out in that gulag we call a country?"

So yesterday I'm at the lovely Legion Park on Biscayne Bay.  The nice winter weather and my new puppy are what draws me there. I'm chatting with some fellow native English speakers. My neighborhood is very eclectic but weirdly, it's not dominated by Spanish speakers like many other parts of Miami are.  We are having a pleasant conversation, playing fetch with our dogs and enjoying the nice weather as they romp across an open field. A family of Venezuelans greet us everyday and play with the dogs. They don't speak any English. I chat with her in Spanish and ask a few questions about the situation in Caracas and how things are. "Your friends should learn Spanish, she said to me."

"How long have you lived here?" I asked in Spanish.

"Three months, but your friends should rally learn Spanish so they can communicate." She replied.

"So you're not going back?" I asked. 

"No, I've got my immigration status settled here and the kids are in school, we've left our lives back in Venezuela and are starting over here. Besides all my friends are here now and most of my family are on the way.Your friends should learn to speak Spanish." she insisted. 

I can't help but feel a little used as an American. I'm not sure how middle-class immigrants view the American dream when they are arriving to luxury waterfront condos and paying for expensive maternity care out of pocket. I can't wonder how invested anyone can be in a place when they "made it" somewhere else and just picked up and plopped down and started demanding that everyone learn their customs and language as the bourgeoisie are wont to do. Really, do you demand that a bunch of people in a park learn to speak to you, in a foreign tongue when you've only been here three months?