OCCUPY RIO by

Occupy Rio

“Isn’t Brazil always occupied???” That was the one line first response to these photos that I got from my friend Chris. My response was a line from a poem by Ani DiFranco titled Self Evident where she’s talking about the USA: “Cause take away our Playstations and we are a third world nation.”

I’m in Rio because last week I was production managing for Trajal Harrell’s 20 Looks Or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church(s) at the Panorama Performance Festival. I was supposed to leave tomorrow but I cancelled my return flight to stay here and continue to help any way that I can at Cinelândia Square which is where the OCUPA RIO! Movement has set up shop. I especially feel obligated to stay because there is a complete and total local media black out here. (Thanks for publishing this!) And as soon as I can find the means, I’ll make my way over to São Paulo to see how things work there. More…

My Halloween Costume by

grace2

On the cover of Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing, the new wave, post-punk, dub pop artist isn’t made-up. No, she’s covered, totally painted in dark blue metallic paint, a blue-black island sheen that echoes her Armani jacket. It was that image – and, more importantly, that decision to paint Grace, to cover her up and create a new, hyper-signification of race as this absurd, mythic ideal – that led me to pick this cover as a Halloween costume. I was in undergrad, just having transferred to an art school with a wild Halloween reputation. “This,” I thought, “ought to make an impression.” And so began an annual series of appearances as Ms. Jones. More…

Is This Really Happening? by

I’d just turned 15 over the summer and already the horrid institution they called high school was getting ready for their homecoming pretty soon. With no interest in any of those childish matters, I made plans for my own “event.” Around that time, the weather was cooling down and walking to school was quite an easy task either on foot or by the metro bus line. The daily routine bored me, especially with my class work done weeks ahead of time. I’d spend my time in classes either keeping to myself and reading or giving answers to kids around my desk.

So finally everything was set into motion and the weekend was coming up. My parents had informed me that they were leaving out of town for an Amway convention or some business matter they needed to attend to. They traveled often and most times would leave me at home alone. Though they bought my siblings their first cars when they were around the same age, mother’s baby boy just didn’t seem to need one so soon. Mostly because I was the youngest and I presume she was just being overprotective, which really made no sense because they worked so much, I hardly saw them anyway. More…

My Best Friend’s Dad by

I knew I was gay from when I was a boy at the tender age of eight with my first crush on my teacher, Mr. Barton. Mr. Barton was lovely, just newly qualified so about 22, and athletic. On gym days, he’d dress in his tight white shorts and t-shirt, pull on his trainers and go out to rally our unenthusiastic class. His toned, muscular legs were covered in a dark matting of hair. My attention was always diverted watching those legs move, up and down, side to side, the hairs reshaped around the calf and thigh muscles. I wasn’t particularly sporty, but this was made worse being in Mr. Barton’s presence. I could never catch balls or run in a straight line, as I couldn’t focus on anything but his legs. In class, my attention was then firmly fixed on his face. He had a marvelous thick beard with a moustache that curled gently to the sides. I was intrigued in how it moved when he spoke and wished I could run my hands through the rough hair on his cheeks and play with the ends of his moustache as I did with the tassels on my grandmother’s sofa in her best room; but I never did. As an eight-year-old, you wouldn’t, but my fantasy of being with a bearded and hairy man started at that precise point. Being in a family of clean-shaven men who were pretty much hairless, my attention was always diverted when I came into contact with a hirsute member of the male variety. More…

New York is My Man-Oyster by

Six months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of a year and found myself single in Manhattan for the first time since moving here. Young, romantic and a glutton for excitement, I am constantly flirting with the idea that the next man who walks around the corner could be the next man walking into my life. I find nothing more exhilarating than locking eyes with a stranger on the subway…or sleeping with a man because he’s sexy, I want to and I have no reason not to. I had already discovered the breadth of opportunity here professionally, but I had not realized just how much this city was my man-oyster. Frankly, I’ve gone a little bit crazy. Quite frankly, I don’t (yet) regret one moment of it.

My Proud Bankrupt Greek Soul by

Cruising at Dawn

We were already on our third beer, looking at tourists sailing on the Aegean when Nikos leaned over the table. “You’re not straight enough ‘til you fuck a guy up the ass,” he said. It was 1991 and that was my last summer at my father’s village in Greece.

That fall I left my country repressed and hungry, and lived around the world collecting Masters, getting smart jobs, liquor and drugs, fucking and getting fucked up the ass. But I never forgot Nikos’ paradox. I never got over the phallic pride and anal shame that ruled sexuality and gender in rural Greece. Straight or gay, masculine or feminine, fucking or getting fucked was the qualifier in my beginnings. More…

The Bisexual Blues by

Desiree and her partner (photo courtesy of Sarah Deragon)

It was a year ago this week that I told my parents I was in love with a woman. Dan Savage always advises callers in the process of coming out to give their parents a year for them to get over the initial shock. I think I mistook this to mean that by the time 12 months had passed they would have magically come to terms with my sexuality. This hasn’t been the case.

My parents emigrated to America from Iran in the early 80s. As result, they’re hard to pin down: quite progressive and open when it comes to certain issues, but also traditional and stuck in time when it comes to others. Growing up, I related more to the upbringing of my friends’ parents than my friends. In the year since I’ve come out to my parents, there have been screaming matches, silent treatment, one very public four-hour tear-fest at MoMA, and very little progress has been made. My father refuses to meet my girlfriend. “You don’t understand what it’s like” my mother says. “We were raised differently.” This argument is hard for me to swallow because didn’t they raise me? Weren’t they there for that entire period of time that my beliefs morals were formed? How can we differ so drastically when it comes to this one issue? More…

The Train by

I was sitting next to the window on the train into the city late one morning. It was one of those seats where someone can sit facing you on the other side, but I was alone. My headphones were on to wash out the noise and chatter around me. The first stop after mine came up and this silver daddy type gets on. He stops, scopes out the area and then picks the seat diagonal from me. We quickly looked at each other, smiled, nodded and went on with our business.

I kept scoping him out to see if there was anything that would light up the gaydar, but nothing stuck out in particular. He looked like a typical IT guy: company polo, jeans, brown shoes and glasses. Someone would text him on his Blackberry every few minutes and he would respond. It rang at one point and he picked it up to speak to whoever it was on the line. The ride continued and he pulled out a New York Times. He held it up high, which gave me the chance to check him out. This went on for some time and I figured it was crazy to pursue anything. Still, I took off my headphones and pulled out a book to increase my chances at conversation. More…

The Force is Still With Me by

Kevin with his Light Sabre

I love Star Wars. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts. It is a simple fact. Over the years I have collected a small parcel of Star Wars merchandise that is prominently displayed in my apartment. I never thought I’d look like such a nerd, but in fact, I do. This results in a fair amount of teasing and ribbing from friends and acquaintances. When these jibes occur, I think about my love of George Lucas’ fantasy epic and I wonder exactly why it has affected me so much.

When I was in fifth grade, I entered my first day of classes ready to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. During the first week I kept hearing rumblings about a movie everyone loved called Star Wars. Being a movie junkie today, I find it almost alarming that I had no idea what they were all talking about. But the more they told me, the more I was intrigued.  More…

Rats ‘n Crackheads by

I’ll never forget the time I was walking home on Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side with my roommate and two men we had just met at a church-turned-bar. It was 4 a.m., prime rat-roaming time, and in true form the little critters could be heard and seen playing connect the dots from trash bag to trashcan all along the block. Roommate and her photographer walked paces ahead, while I meandered behind with my guy who was packing his one-hitter and respectfully attempting to persuade me to toke with him. I wasn’t aware at this point that omens and signs should be taken seriously when you’re a single-ready-to-mingle girl in Manhattan (although I had cautiously begun to wonder if my mother was right in saying nothing good happens after ten o’clock). I also hadn’t concretely formed the opinion yet that a strange man who tries to get you to smoke with him almost immediately upon meeting, while perhaps very attractive, may not be the kind of person you would actually want to see again. More…