website, blog and vanity nexus of writer R F Brown

Posts tagged ‘gay’




“Figure Straighter”, a hilarious short story by Your’s True, is in the fantastic Foglifter LGBTQ+ literary journal: ‬
‪Two male figure skaters, rivals for a gold medal, get in a competitive tiff over identity politics. Will the straight one put his masc cred at risk attempting a daring gender-expansive athletic stunt? Will anything not piss the gay one off?

copies available for purchase @Foglifterpress

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Here, RFanatix, is my short story published in White Wall Review, the journal of creative writing from Ryerson University in Toronto.

A sullen high school hockey player stumbles through a rainstorm of insecurity and sexual confusion. Can Zamboni win the approval of his heartless peers and indifferent parents by turning idle fantasy life into a breakaway play, or is the night just going to end in a flood of applesauce?

Transiting the Lemaire Channel in heavy first year sea ice, Antarctica, Polar Regions

The fellows never let an ankle bender like me play forward. Even if it’s pickup hockey out on the school lake, they consider me a role-player, not a scorer. Well, tonight I’m steering The Rust Bucket down the wet lines of the state route and it feels like a breakaway play, like I’ve got the puck and an open lane with no defenders. I stickhandle the steering wheel with one hand while groping under the driver seat for the Kaopectate bottle. …

SEA SWALLOW ME and OTHER STORIES by Craig Laurance Gidney

my notes on Sea Swallow Me (2008), RF Brown

A young Japanese monk, yielded to a life of prayer and ministering to the poor is marked for love by a mischievous yosei, a shimmering male fairy with a fetish to tempt mortal chastity and piety. This chassis supports many of Craig Laurance Gidney’s stories: a young character in the ordinary toils of  earthly existence, crosses paths with a metaphysical experience. As in the case of the monk, “He who was studious and practical had caught the eye of something supernatural.” More often Gidney’s protagonists are young black and/or gay men in modern settings. A bored club kid unwittingly keeps psychokinetically murdering his sex partners. A lonely, island tourist pulled in by over-curiosity is dragged to the floor of the ocean and given physical wholeness from a benevolent, giant serpent. A nebbishy, underachieving artist chases off the cloying  ghost of his racist mother by deliberately having sex with a black man on her antique bed [respectively: “Etiolate”, “Sea Swallow Me”, and “Her Spirit Hovering”].

Gidney’s visionary universe exists in a literary dimension somewhere between James Baldwin and The Twilight Zone. The author’s imagination is alternately funny, melancholy, and fantastic and there is the consistent thread in this collection of his expressive narrative voice. He has dazzling skill at painting amorphous scenes with tangibility-  colors are carnal and smells are emotional. It’s never explicit whether the bizarre experiences of these characters are something truly supernatural, or if these phenomena are the delusive manifestations of their broken black and gay souls. Are they cursed or crazy? The character lives are humdrum, but not normal. Whose life is?

I have a couple of quibbles with the actual publication of Sea Swallow Me. First, the book was put out by an indy press and there are frequent typos. I know some readers for whom mistakes are maddening and others who would regard it as bohemian charm. I seek the noble path on the presence of typos because ideally it should be easier for a great writer like Gidney to find a big-six publishing deal that pays for unlimited editorial resources. But readers dropping $13 bucks on this book should be aware there are errors. Writers who are constantly encouraged to go indy or self-publish can take a sip of reality here: even a brilliant writer can get sandbagged with a sloppy book. Second, two of Gidney’s stories, “The Safety of Thorns”, about a young American slave who finds out the Devil is an apathetic drunk, and “Strange Alphabets”, a transcendental roman à clef about French poet Arthur Rimbaud in Jail, are pleasant guests here but otherwise foreign to the rest of the collection. In my editorial opinion they would be at home someplace else. It’s feels weird to launch this criticism given that these two stories in particular are each excellent standing alone, perhaps my two favorite in the book. If there is a collection of historical fiction somewhere in Gidney’s future canon he certainly has the background, discipline, and command of voice to put one together. Those two problems aside, Sea Swallow Me is a magnificent and mysterious body of work.

BSD Movie Log: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Freddy's Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, d. Jack Sholder)

Teenage Jesse and his family move into the same house on Elm Street where the teenage girl of the first movie was terrorized in her dreams by the psychotic spector Freddy Krueger.  Now Freddy is haunting Jesse’s dreams and wants to make Jesse his living avatar for murdering people in the living world.

After successful use of the familiar “last surviving girl” motif, the first Nightmare on Elm Street sequel went with a story centered around terrorizing a teenage boy.  Not a bad direction to take, but horror movies are cathartic fantasy and male protagonist victims always come off a little gay.  If they didn’t mean for it all to come off gay here they should have maybe cut the scene where the teenage boy in the gym shower psychokineticly strips his bondage fetishist coach naked and lashes him to death with jump rope.  There are a lot of weird homoerotic scenes if you like that.  Otherwise this is below average material.

Penthouse Founder Dies at 79. An Open Letter to Bob Guccione.

link: Bob Guccione, Penthouse Founder, Dies at 79 –

Dear Bob Guccione,

I was sad to learn today that you are no longer coming down for breakfast.  As publisher and founder of Penthouse magazine,  you were more degenerate than Hugh Hefner, but less oogie than Larry Flint.  You were like a 6 on a 10 point swinger- to-sleazeball scale.  But your pornographic inspirations played an important role in my nescient tween years.  Most guys will tell you that as a boy they kyped Penthouse from their dad’s drawer or from under their older brother’s bed, or somewhere.  My brother also collected the Reader’s Digest-sized Penthouse Forum, and it was the best.  In Penthouse Magazine you may have given America its first look at pubic hair, but I loved Forum and its famous letters from readers with their supposedly true sex adventures.  This periodically included tales of bisexuality.  When I say bisexual I mean my interest was in the girl-guy-guy stuff you printed.

I always found the pornographic stories more interesting than photos.  I would study Forum on my own and dog ear the pages that described sex scenes in crazy public places or had weirdo fetishism.  And when a male friend slept over I would read these choice stories aloud from the bottom bunk-bed in my room.  I always had a couple of the strangest, strictly hetero items cued up and then, socko, I’d hit ’em with a girl-guy-guy story.  This was an ingenious barometer to test the other boy’s curiosity or abject aversion without revealing any underlying motive on my behalf.  I read maybe some gross water-sports letter to warm him up and then I’d bounce a suggestive bi story off his Protestant armor.  You gave me a tool to know whether to proceed boldly or retreat back into another real adventure in underwear sniffing.  Thank you Bob Guccione for Forum and for what was the genesis of  a predatory system I built upon, perfected and still utilize to this day.  I suppose if this damaged any of my then niave and trusting boyhood friends, who today are married and straight, I ought to say I’m sorry.   But instead I’ll just say, you know who you are.

–  Richard (address withheld)

X-Men Come Out

I just watched all 3 X-Men movies and was surprised how gayE it all was. This 2006 article, lifted from MSNBC, sums up my impressions pretty well…

The ‘X-Men’ come out: Being a ‘mutant’ in films can be read as a metaphor for homosexuality

By John Hartl
Film critic
updated 5/25/2006 3:09:12 PM ET

“Have you tried not being a mutant?” asks the mother of Iceman, one of the misfit kids in Bryan Singer’s “X2,” the 2003 sequel to his 2000 “X-Men.” Iceman may attend Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, but he’s more than gifted and not exactly a youngster.  Indeed, his mutant nature, which includes the ability to freeze ponds with his fingers, only becomes stronger as he ages. A minor character in the original “X-Men,” Iceman comes into his own in “X2,” revealing his true nature to his baffled parents, who react as if he’s just announced he’s gay. His mother worries that it’s all her fault, while his brother is so revolted that he calls the police.

Brett Ratner’s addition to the franchise, “X-Men: The Last Stand,” includes a character new to the “X-Men” films, Angel, whose disapproving father finds him trying to hack off a pair of wings attached to his back. As a child, Angel is deeply ashamed of his ethereal nature. As an adult, he finds that he can literally fly away from parental rejection.
“The Last Stand” begins with a flashback to the childhood of another mutant, Jean Grey, whose parents were ashamed and afraid of her telekinetic abilities. As an adult, she vigorously defends the kids’ right to be different.
Jean, Iceman and presumably Angel are heterosexual, as are the other mutants in the “X-Men” pictures. But they behave a lot like runaway gay kids, forming their own families of gifted outlaws as they escape birth parents who feel nothing but embarrassment for having brought them into the world.

In “The Last Stand,” which the producers emphasize is not the last installment in the series (after all, the first two collected $700 million worldwide), Iceman is completely “out” as a mutant. He uses his frosty charms to woo Rogue, who matches his ability to chill out.  Their chief opponent in the first “X-Men” is a self-proclaimed “God-fearing” senator, whose intolerant anti-mutant speeches sound a lot like current anti-gay and anti-immigrant rhetoric. “People like you are the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child,” says a mutant who kidnaps him.

But once they’re not afraid, once they’ve gained control, what does the future hold? Thanks to a series of lethal surprises lurking near the finale of “The Last Stand,” it’s not clear what the mutants can or will do next. Some appear to lose their powers or their lives, but perhaps this is only temporary, like Jean Grey’s far-from-terminal “death” in “X2.”
Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine, is developing a follow-up film. The crafty villain Magneto (Ian McKellen) is also set for a spin-off, as the final shot in “The Last Stand” suggests. Aside from Magneto, whose story spans several decades, Jean Grey has had the clearest character arc.

While “The Last Stand” seems to exhaust her possibilities, there’s plenty of potential in the rest of the cast. It’s easy to imagine a spin-off in which shape-shifting Mystique takes on every role in the script — which she nearly did in “X2.” In a wittily androgynous episode, she tricked Wolverine into lusting after her impersonations of both Jean Grey and the male villain, played by Brian Cox.Which follow-up is likely to reach multiplexes first? If Jackman gets caught up in too many other projects (five more Jackman movies are scheduled for release during the next year), another mutant could prevail. In any event, the idea behind the franchise will survive in some form or other, just as it has in the past.

Although Stan Lee’s first “X-Men” comic book appeared in 1963, the theme has been explored in plenty of other science-fiction stories and movies during the past century. Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” (published in 1961) deals with a bright boy who stands out too much and is threatened with brain surgery. “Village of the Damned,” the 1960 movie based on John Wyndham’s “The Midwich Cuckoos,” turned a group of super-intelligent kids into threats to mankind.  Most of these stories owe a debt to Olaf Stapledon, the British writer who specialized in epic tales of martyred geniuses, especially the 1935 novel, “Odd John.” Such mid-1990s movies as “Powder” (another coming-out fable) and “Phenomenon” are among the most recent descendants.  “The Last Stand” sometimes suggests a mixture of “Village of the Damned,” in which the smart kids turn destructive, and “Odd John,” in which the telepathic title character and his fellow “wide-awakes” and “supernormals” are persecuted, forced to establish an island colony and hunted down by mercenaries.  “If your species discovers us, it will certainly try to smash us,” Odd John tells the merely human narrator. Rather like Magneto, Odd John is convinced that scapegoats are inevitable, and that “a nation, after all, is just a society for hating foreigners, a sort of super-hate-club.”  While the heterosexual Iceman’s confession merely suggests a gay rite-of-passage, Odd John considers same-sex intimacy part of his education.

“The Last Stand” makes the gay subtext of “X2” more explicit. While the mutants fear the development of a “cure” for their “disease,” Storm says “there’s nothing to cure.” Indeed, the series sees the mutants as a link to a higher form of humankind.  “Mutation, it is the key to our evolution,” says the narrator at the beginning of the first “X-Men,” which was filmed in 1999 and 2000 and is set in the “not-too distant future.” The World Trade Center is still standing in a couple of shots, and the word “evolution” may be used without apology.

Magneto, the concentration-camp survivor, turns out to have little use for evolution or intelligent design. He’s convinced that “God works too slowly,” and that “we are the cure,” so he declares pre-emptive war. Skeptical that America will ever be the land of peace and tolerance he expected at the end of World War II, he becomes the thing he hates.  For all the confrontations between hostile characters, the “X-Men” franchise is at its best when it’s dealing with unique and seemingly impossible attractions. Perhaps the most poignant scene involves the teenaged Rogue, who can’t help delivering the kiss of near-death to those she touches, and the paternal Wolverine, whose considerable strengths cannot quite prevent her from overpowering him.  Their tentative embrace at the end of the first film is a uniquely enthralling moment. Spin-offs, sequels and prequels should treat it as a model.