Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Queers Dig Time Lords

Table of Contents

Introduction, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
Editors’ Foreword, by Sigrid Ellis and Michael Damian Thomas

The Monster Queer is Camp, by Paul Magrs
Time, Space, Love, by Emily Asher-Perrin
Seven Ways of Looking at Captain Jack, by Mary Anne Mohanraj and Jed Hartman
Born Again Whovian, by David Llewellyn
Queer Doctor vs. Straight Trek?, by Paul Cockburn
Sub Texts: The Doctor and the Master’s Firsts and Lasts, by Amal El-Mohtar
Nice TARDIS, by Jason Tucker
The Incredibly True Adventures of an Intellectual Fan Dyke, by Sarah J. Groenewegen
Bi, Bye, by Tanya Huff
In Praise of Mature Women, or Why Donna Noble and River Song Totally Need to Call Me, by Jennifer Pelland
We’re Here, We’re Queer, Rate Us on iTunes, by Erik Stadnik
Secrets and Lies, by Scot Clarke
Long Time Companions, by Melissa Scott
Jack Harkness’s Lessons on Memory and Hope for Cranky, Old Queers, by Racheline Maltese
My Straight Best Friend, by Nigel Fairs
A Kiss from Romana: Lesbian Subtext in The Stones of Blood, by Julia Rios
Bothersome Otherness, by Martin Warren
PVC Made Me a Gay, by Gary Russell
Torchwood, Camp, and Queer Subjectivity, by Brit Mandelo
The Doctor: A Strange Love, Or: How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love the Who, by Hal Duncan
A Man is the Sum of His Memories, by Neil Chester
Spoilers: A Letter to Myself, Age 16, by Kaia Landelius
The Heterosexual Agenda, by John Richards
Hey, Mickey, You’re So Fine, by Naamen Gobert
Tihaun Mutants, Monsters, Mutts, and Mentiads, by Cody Quijano-Schell
Same Old Me, Different Face: Transition, Regeneration, and Change, by Susan Jane Bigelow
The Girl Who Waited (for the Guidance Counselor to Get to His Point), by Rachel Swirsky

People may pre-order Queers Dig Time Lords at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon CA , Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound. It will be released on June 4th. (Early copies will be available at the Wiscon convention launch.)


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coming Soon...

Cover art by Cat Ingall, the talent behind those gorgeous title cards on Story's End. All done meticulously with one sheet of paper and a very sharp scalpel, with Teh Modurn Teknologee used to add gradient, texture and layout stuff. The result is, I'm sure you'll agree, absolutely stunning. It perfectly captures the stories in the chapbook, and as cover art for a strange fiction work where the target audience isn't boxed into either the "SF/Fantasy" or the "Literary Fiction" marketing categories... well, I reckon this is spot on. Hell, as far as I'm concerned it wouldn't look out of place on some Penguin edition of a magical realism classic. In short, it's fricking awesome. And yes, if you're a writer or publisher looking for cover art, Cat is indeed for hire, contact details on her site.

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Da Vinci's Demonisation

The Original Hudson Hawk

"The act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions."
-- Leonardo Da Vinci

So, a few weeks back a link to the trailer for Da Vinci's Demons did the rounds on Twitter. Oh dear, I thought, even before clicking on it. This is coming from Starz, who gave us the updated swords and sandals schlockfest of Spartacus--replete with 1960s style beefcake models turned "actors." This is coming from the channel that took the blood from Caligula and the sand from Sunset Beach, put it through a Hollywood blender, and poured out a mediocre pabulum too trashy to take seriously and not trashy enough to enjoy as kitsch. Yeah, yeah, I heard some people raving about it; all I saw there was Hercules or Xena without a fraction of the wit, Gladiator banalised from epic to soap opera. Spartacus: Rome and Away. So now Starz are doing a historical fantasy series riffing on Da Vinci. O-kay.

Even before clicking, anyone could guess what would be getting shovelled into the trash TV pulp machine. Da Vinci? That's gonna mean Dan Brown, right? Secret history of the most lurid type, pseudo-religious mystery with secret societies, Illuminati. Da Vinci? That's gonna mean Rambaldi from Alias, right? All Leonardo's mad invention skillz, those are so going to be exploited to give us The Original Hudson Hawk (TM)! This is going to be Leonardo as a young and dashing adventurer, probably with a mile-wide rogueish streak, sucked into conspiratorial intrigue and set-piece derring-do, a Renaissance MacGuyver crossed with Casanova. Are they going to throw in some Shakespeare In Love? Of course they are! The whole idea writes itself.

None of this is a problem for me, mind. I love me some good hokum, I do. You could do something like this with Kit Marlowe, International Superspy, and I'd lap it the fuck up if it was done well as pulp. But of course, that sorta pulp can also be done supremely badly, witness Spartacus with its Eurotrash Chippendale gladiators. And of course, with Leonardo or Marlowe--or Caravaggio, he'd be great material too--with any American corporate TV historical fantasy based on one of history's greatest homos, one thing is even more predictable than all of the above. Even before I clicked on the trailer, I knew what we were going to see...

He's going to be straightironed, of course, I thought, eyes already rolling as I clicked on the link.

And yes, of course, the trailer is pretty clear from the get go. The very first shot after Tom Riley as Da Vinci ("Perhaps you've heard of me.") is Laura Haddock as Lucrezia Donati, the female love interest. From there we dive into your standard trailer montage of action and intrigue, images of Haddock looking all sexy vixen sprinkled in now and then, a little shot of a scantily-clad woman dancing with a snake, a flashcut of Leonardo and Lucrezia doing the whole bodice-ripping thing (Imma throw you on teh bed, sexy lady!) and oh, look, now they're kissing nekkid, and she's making an impassioned speech so we know for sure she's plot-critical, and now they're nekkid again, her straddling him, in front of the fireplace. (Passion! Romance!) And yeah, what would be the closing shot, the crunch shot of the trailer? Leo and Lucy sitting close together, her hand on his thigh as they whisper breathily to each other. (Leo: "We play a dangerous game." Lucy: "I thought danger was the appeal for you.")

It's not exactly rocket science to read from that just how far the show is going to straightiron Da Vinci. Or as I likes to call him...

THE.... Sodomite Leonardo Da Vinci!!

But wait, I hear you say. We can't know definitively that Da Vinci was a sodomite. It's all speculative, unproven.

Well, sure, I say. So I shall consider my lovely Leo innocent of heterosexuality until proven guilty. It's rampant speculation that he was straight, so if you're going to make a wild hypothesis like that, the burden of proof is on you, amigo. The point being, that card is just as valid played from my hand as it from yours, straight boy. You have, frankly, fuck all evidence to make your slanderous case that he was a cuntfucker.

What? Too harsh? Chillax, baby. Look, some of my best friends are cuntfuckers. I have nothing against cuntfuckers. Clearly there's a slippery slope: if we can't trust you to stick to the same gender, we can't trust you to stick to the same species; and we're not the ones actively breeding in order to have kiddies to fiddle; and fuck knows, if male/female couplings are accepted, you can be sure live/dead couplings are the next step. I mean, I'm not a heterophobe, but... well, I just think if you're going to go around with your Heterosexual Agenda, trying to appropriate historical figures to your cause, claiming that they're part of that minority at one extreme end of the Kinsey Scale, you need to bring some facts to the table. Without good reason... I don't see why we should libel Leo's good name with such a claim.

(Yes, for the benefit of the irony deficient, I'm being facetious. Duh. But the basic point stands.)

Bear in mind that we're talking about the guy who wrote that quote above, dripping with revulsion at the thought of putting the peepee in the vageegee. And let's factor in another quote to look at where precisely that disgust is directed... or not directed rather: “A man who is ashamed to show or name the penis is wrong. Instead of being anxious to hide it, man ought to display it… with honour!” Dude, that goes beyond proclaiming the glory of one's own morning glory, beyond extolling the aesthetic awesomeness of the male member, the Lord Cock Almighty, and into outright encouragement for others to get their tadgers out as and when they feel like it. Go on! You know you want to! Let's see that proud pintle, baby! Get it out there on display, for us all to admire! Here, let me help you with your breeches.

Never mind the sodomy accusations in his youth--the straightironers will surely say those were politically-motivated slander. Let's look at Salai, "the Little Unclean One," the apprentice he kept around for forty years despite him being, in Leo's own words,  "a liar, a thief, stubborn and a glutton." Why? Might it have something to do with him being, in Vasari's words, "a graceful and beautiful youth with curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted"? Might it have something to do with the crude sketches in Leo's notebooks, clearly made by another's hand, in which cocks on legs march toward a butthole labeled "Salai"? I'm not saying it's case proven. I'm saying yours is the case to prove if you're positing a sexuality setting of straight.

So, yeah. Leonardo, Son of Sodom. Deal with it. Or deny it if you want; just don't expect me to take your resistance to the realities as anything but prejudice.

Still, for all that rendering Da Vinci as a painterly Casanova is and can only be an act of arrant straightironing, I held out zero hope that Da Vinci's Demons would be anything but eye-rolling in that respect. It's sad, because the time is fucking ripe for a US TV show to show some balls (to display them! with honour!) and have a rogueish charmer action hero of exactly this type who's also... yanno... a swaggering sodomite with an eye for the lads rather than the lassies. The breakout character of Kurt in Glee, the plethora of preferences on display in True Blood, the entire culture of shipping and slash performed on every fricking male character in every fricking fantasy TV show or movie series... all of this should by now be sledgehammering into executive producers' thick skulls the reality that the market is there, the audience ready for it. But still, those spineless segregationist cuntfuckers in the board rooms are such a known factor, I went in resigned to this show being as reactionary as the norm. I expected the same old same old of Alexander and Troy and--oh fuck this, I can't even be bothered to fucking list them. Yeah, as bitter a taste as it leaves in my mouth, that fatalistic surrender to the inevitable, I expected my sodomite sibling, Leonardo Da Vinci, the Florentine Flamer, to be straightironed as the hair of a black woman the same TV cuntfuckers don't want to look "too black."

I just didn't expect the rest of the homophobic bullshit, the gobsmackingly concerted cuntfuckery of the highest order.

What do I mean? Let's see...

The Imperial Chickenhawk

So, after a little flashforward prologue teaser, we open episode one in 1476 with the assassination of the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Mario Sforza, in Wikipedia's words, "a notorious womanizer who often passed his women on to his courtiers once he was tired of them." So, a cuntfucker. He was a cuntfucker both literally and figuratively, Wikipedia tells us. He was as into putting the peepee in the vageegee as Leo was against it. And he was as cruel as you could want a cuntfucker to be for narrative purposes. He had a poacher force-fed a full-furred hare. Another man he nailed alive to his coffin. He combined his cuntfuckeries into the perfect storm of cuntfuckery, indeed, raping the noble wives and daughters of Milan. Not a nice man, in short.

And how do we meet this monster? How is his depravity demonstrated. We see him naked at the window of his palatial bedchambers, pissing in a chamberpot, turning back to his canopied bed to pull aside the curtains.


"Out you go, boy." he says disdainfully, and tosses clothes to the young naked man revealed in his bed. He slaps the pretty youth's ass as the boywhore toddles to the door--"Go on! Go!"--tosses a coin or two, and turns away in utter disregard. Because yeah, he's a bit of a scumbag, right? He's a debauched powermonger of debased appetites. He's power corrupted, an amoral user of people at the very least. He's decadent as any entitled cuntfucker born into power and privilege, taking what he wants, throwing scraps of coin in contempt--less in payment than as sign of his ownership of your ass. He's a cuntfucker, as I say, and what better way to show this than to signal it with sodomy as subjugation?

Because, yeah, see, the peepee in the poop-chute... that's all about the power. The buttseks is to make that bottom boi your bitch. The assfuck is assertion, dominance, emasculation of the innocent young brave whose buttocks we are clearly to imagine being penetrated, violated, pwned in the pounding. This is the semiotics of sodomy--in the mind of the cuntfucker at least. And such semiotics is useful. TV is a medium in which concision is of the essence, in which a character must be established in seconds, in a single signifying action that sets them with utter certainty. And so here the Duke of Milan must be established as a man of vice. And so here that base nature is signified by his shameless strutting sneering sodomy. Duke Galeazzo or Baron Harkonen, in this monstrum of degeneracy we see every fucking bullshit predatory pervert in the history of homophobic fiction.


Let's remind ourselves of the reality, shall we? Or the historical record, at least. "[A] notorious womanizer who often passed his women on to his courtiers once he was tired of them."

So, yeah. We're not just talking about straightironing the hero here. We're talking about the reverse too. We're talking about taking a non-heroic character who was, in reality, to the best of our knowledge, not just straight but aggressively so--a misogynist user and abuser of women, a cuntfucking rapist--and wiping that crime from the picture in order to render him instead as a vicious stereotype of a vicious sodomite. In order to exploit the prejudice encoded in the trope, to invoke the homophobic phantasm of the Imperial Chickenhawk. In order to set this--this sin of sodomy as subjugation--as the key signifier of his moral turpitude.

I can only guess that force-feeding a man a hare just wouldn't do to establish Sforza's credentials as a man of vice. I can only surmise that nailing a man to a coffin was inadequate to purpose. But why? Given that an act of brutal torturing cuntfuckery is a pretty good way to establish brutal torturing cuntfuckery, the only inadequacy I can see in presenting Sforza as the cuntfucker he was lies in the failure of such an historically accurate Sforza to serve in the reification and reinforcement of the homophobe's semiotics of sodomy.

Which is to say, the only fucking reason not to mine the real Sforza's eminently exploitable real viciousness is that substituting sodomy in as symbol for vice achieves the same result and more; invoking that animus of bigotry in place of ethical aversion to cuntfuckery, the trope elicits that animus in the audience, and as an ersatz example of the abject being despicable, it validates that animus, cements the bigotry such that subsequent exploitation is all the more likely and all the more effective. Such use of sodomy, I mean, serves to bolster such use of sodomy--as a surrogate, a scapegoat, a symbol. Yay.

This particular symbol gets offed immediately after that, by the way. I mean, after all this, I should be clear, it's not like Sforza's the actual villain of the piece. He's not being set up as an all-out monster, simply painted with perversity as an offhand narrative shortcut--just so we know, in the short timespan in which he's necessary to kickstart the plot with his assassination, exactly what kind of man he is. The phrasing used later: "a pig of epic appetites."


The Slash Nazi

Cut to Leonardo, also introduced with a naked young pretty thing in his employ. No buttboy hustlers here though, Cock forbid! No, it's a topless young female model he's painting (plein air, amusingly, for those who know their art history,) a friend, we can tell, from their friendly chat... and an admirer, we can tell, from the flirty undercurrents of a (nice healthy heterosexual) desire that ultimately surfaces in, of course, a kiss. Oh, he's a bit of a rogue, perhaps, keeping his emotional distance, playing it cool even as she drapes herself over him. But it's all just the carefree passions of those boho artist types unshackled by convention, the horndog propensities of a Picasso or Pollock. No judgement here, if anything we're to admire his dash. Turns out she's Vanessa, "newly liberated from the convent of St Anthony." Oh, you, Leonardo! Freeing the sexy nuns from the silly moral strictures! You handsome heterosexual devil, you, with your rakish heterosexual charms!

And what of his young apprentice, Nico, who comes running up now, curly blond hair not unlike the portraits of Salai? That he's actually no Salai at all is fair enough in historical terms; Salai didn't join Leonardo till 1490, and this is 1476. But he's no surrogate for such either. No, if we thought there might perhaps, just maybe, be even a little safe psuedo-subversion of the straightironing with a secondary character, if we thought there might be some hints of homosexual dalliance on the side, or at least a little homoerotic tension to be shipped or slashed with a flighty sprite, a Renaissance Robin to his Batman, that avenue is closed off pretty quickly. NO! shouts the Slash Nazi. NO SLASH FOR YOU! NO SLASH FOR YOU!

I mean, not to be uncharitable to the actor, but his round face and rather weak chin are not the stuff of a cherubic imp. He's written, cast and acted as a gormless galoot, a naifish squire to the hero. And straight, of course. As he gazes slack-jawed at the nekkid lady, it's clear he's no puckish power-bottom prone to scribbling pricks aimed at his arse in Leonardo's notebooks, just another awkward adolescent with a hardon pointed squarely at the boobies. It's not just text that's going to be straightironed but subtext too. No Holmes and Watson heteroflexible banter. No Teen Wolf tensions to make a Sterek of Stiles and Derek. No Leonico here.



A little fun and games with a flying machine to sketch in the last ingredient--Leonardo as charmer, painter, and now inventor--and it's back to Florence for the actual plot to kick in. Enter Lucrezia Donati to catch our hetero hero's eye in the marketplace, to transfix him as Nico warns of the danger of even looking at Lorenzo De Medici's mistress, to turn her head coquettishly and signal the certainty of a narrative trajectory: oh, yes, we can be sure that she's going to be the love interest. There be cuntfucker shagging on the horizon, mark my words. (In the first episode, it transpires.) And now, with a horseman riding by, bringing news of the assassination to Lorenzo, (cue the quote above deriding Sforza for his debauchery--just in case we didn't get it, yanno, in case we didn't understand that Sforza being in bed with a lad was a signal of his moral bankruptcy and sexual vice,) now we can cut to the proper villain of the piece.

Shall we explore how Pope Sixtus IV is introduced? Because this one's a fucking doozy.

The Return of the Imperial Chickenhawk

Scene: a large circular indoor pool, a bath in the Roman or Turkish style. In the centre, submerged with only their heads and shoulders exposed, are Sixtus and--what's this?--another pretty young naked man, Sixtus embracing him from behind and--wait, what? What the fuck? Is he...? Yes, he is. Sixtus is holding a knife to the lad's throat, other hand fondling the lad's cheek as he asks if the young man is frightened. No, the lad lies. Which allows evil Sixtus to play power games with a lecture about the sin of lying, as the camera smoothly dollies in from above, so we get a clear shot of the naked youth's genitals, shaved to boyish hairlessness if I'm not mistaken, flaccid in his boyish vulnerability, those genitals grabbed now by evil rape-faggot Sixtus at the boy's admission of fear. But oh, now with the evil rape-faggot kiddy-fiddler buttsekser Sixtus fluffing him, we're to imagine the boy's cock responding, evidence to (evil, etc.) Sixtus that his admission is also a lie--partially at least. A not-so-veiled threat of murder underlines (evil, etc.) Sixtus's demand for a decision--is it fear or desire? is this a lie or that?--puts the lad in a double bind, damned either way.

Another Imperial Chickenhawk then, and now we get the full-fledged monster--murderous, manipulative, the psychotic sexual sadist who's gone so deep into the heart of Sodom he's found himself in Salo. The Freudian knife poised to penetrate tender flesh of the poor confused young man. It's prurient and lurid and absurd, and Alan Ball could probably do it deliciously on True Blood, revelling in the perversity and slickly twisting with a subtle shift to explore the dominance and submission games of S&M libertines with wit and wits about him. Here though, it's just the proof in the pudding of the point made above: sodomy set as symbol via Sforza, the animus of bigotry is invoked again, all the more contemptuous, all the more contemptible.

A near kiss is interrupted by the arrival of the frontline anatagonist, the young black-garbed blade, Count Girolamo Riario, with news of the assassination's success. A little plotting to conquer Florence now that its protection from Milan is taken care of, a little hint of greater mysteries with a mention of "the Turk" and the "Book of Leaves" he's after, and as the Pope strides off to take care of business, now we get Riario gazing admiringly upon the pretty young lad left naked and hapless in the pool, no small sincerity in the villain's voice as he draws his sword--"I am truly sorry"--and wades into the pool to slaughter the boywhore. Figures that he'd be a sodomite too, favourite of his papal uncle--buttfucked by him, I'd be willing to bet, into his black-hearted wickedness. The narrative so far has been nothing if not consistent.

By this point, less than fifteen minutes in, one might be forgiven, I should think, for wanting to spit in David Goyer's cuntfucking face, call him out as the cuntfucking cuntfucker he is, and kick his preciously inviolate ass until he cries like the craven chickenshit prejudice-pandering cuntfucker that he is, his aesthetic and ethical cowardice writ large in everything on the screen to date. Or one might be forgiven, I should think, for simply venting one's ire at this ugly-ass agitprop with a loud, "FUCK YOU, YOU CUNTFUCKER!" and a coffee mug hurled into the screen. Or for just, yanno, turning off this shitfest of unbridled bigotry and watching something that doesn't cram its homophobia down your gullet in the first ten minutes like it's actively and defiantly out to let you know, in no uncertain terms, that it reviles everything you represent to it. Out to spread the word even!

Out of fairness, I'll note that, unlike Sforza, Sixtus was subject to allegations of sodomy, a reputed "lover of boys and sodomites" who awarded benefices and bishoprics in exchange for the asses of hot young men, his nephew Riario included. One might point out that the same provisos of politically-motivated slander surely apply to him if they apply to Leonardo, but I've no problem believing him a) innocent of cuntfuckery in the literal sense, and b) guilty of cuntfuckery in the figurative sense. His notorious nepotism and his hand in the Pazzi Conspiracy seem, on cursory reading, to be basically accepted. I see no mention of him force-feeding a hare to a poacher though, or nailing a man alive to his own coffin. He's also unlike Sforza in so far as he wasn't reputed to be a serial cuntfucking rapist. But which one do we see actively torturing a victim--psychologically, sexually?

We're through the fucking looking glass, amigo. It's not just that the sodomite becomes straight here when it comes to Leonardo. The rapist becomes sodomite here, if he's straight. If he's straight, the cuntfucking rapist becomes not a rapist, in fact. While the non-torturer becomes a torturer now, naturally, if he's gay.

For the love of fucking Cock.

The Prick Tease of Pansexuality

But hey, again out of fairness, I should note that the writers have promised to "address" Leonardo's sexuality... at some point down the line... in some vague shape or form. Is a snap judgement made on the first ten minutes of someone screaming homophobic abuse in your face too uncharitable, premature? Should we be giving the benefit of the doubt to Goyer, watching and waiting passively for him to deliver on this promise? I mean if someone spits in your face in the first ten minutes of a party, spends most every second of that ten minutes, in fact, spewing hate at you... I mean, if they say they're going to throw a scrap of respect at your feet at some point in the next however many hours, you owe it to them to make allowances for... well, their little faux pas of shouting "Faggot!" at you over and over again at the top of their lungs, right? I mean, what kind of over-sensitive flower would I be to treat the cuntfucking cuntfuckers with the same contempt they mete out to me? When they've promised, honest injuns, that maybe somehow they'll kinda sorta possibly touch on the notion that Leonardo might have at some point in his life had a passing whim of a fancy that some male figure he admired aesthetically was maybe, in some strange way, actually sexually attractive... perhaps?

For sure, who knows? Maybe they'll bring in little hints that Leonardo fooled around with some boyhood chum back in the past, in the dim and distant past. Woot. Cause yeah, no straight guy ever compared cock size with his straight mate and jerked off together in the lusts of experiemental adolescence. But, OK, maybe they'll actually suggest indirectly and ambiguously that every so often he might let some pretty boy model suck him off... if he's feeling horny, and there's no women in sight to seduce, and the lad throws himself at him. Cause yeah, that's not the sort of thing actually straight guys do when they're shit-faced frat boys. But OK, maybe we'll get something like that which goes a bit further towards undermining the wholly heterosexual rendering of Leonardo.

Like in the tavern scene in episode one, say. The scene where Leo is sitting in a tavern with his apprentice and unscrupulous mate, when the high-voiced mincing boyslut in white floats up to them to drape himself over the maestro's shoulder, asking to model for him since "No one looks at my form as you do." That would be the scene where Leo doesn't even raise his eyes from his notebook to look at this third in a line of bottombitch boywhores--because, yanno, that's how sodomites are in this world, Imperial Chickenhawks or the submissive emasculated bitches who open their asses to them--where Leonardo doesn't give the faggot so much as a glance as he gives his derisory dismissal: "No, no one looks at any form as I do." Because, yeah, let's not think of that gaze as anything but the gaze of an artist and inventor. Let's have him pointedly dismiss any sexual significance, set any interest in that lad's form as purely aesthetic and intellectual--a vision he has that applies to any form, a vision shared by none.

"Go peddle your wares with Botticelli," says Leo. "He's an easy mark." This from the man who kept Salai, "a liar, a thief, stubborn and a glutton," around for forty years on the strength of his pretty face, it seems, regardless of notebooks vandalised with pictures illustrating his buttboy status. Methinks it's Leo was the soft touch in reality. But not here, Here the lad flounces off--and oh, does he flounce!--to a disdainful comment from our hero's mate that the lad is no model but a hustler, and an artless one--wait, though! "But pleasing to the eye." says Leonardo. Oh. My. God. Did we hear right? Did Leo just comment on the model's looks? How totally that counteracts everything that's going on! How suddenly it's all turned around as they "address" Leonardo's sexuality by having the artist comment that... um... a handsome young man is a handsome young man. Great Cock Almighty, that's... um, that's...

That's spineless cuntfucking wankery is what it is.

Dear Mr Goyer, dear dear Mr Goyer... grow some fucking balls. How fucking chickenshit can you be? You want me to believe that at some point down the line you're going to have the guts and common fucking decency to "address" Leonardo's sexuality, don't give us this pissant pantywaist pusillanimous wimpery. Jesus Fucking Cock, when you talk about "addressing" Leonardo's sexuality, does that mean you're going to wait till the last episode of the last season to reveal that he's--dan dan DAN!--actually as straight an arrow as ever was, repulsed by the very thought of buttseks? Cause frankly, a bait-and-switch where your ultimate revelation is just an excuse to spit in the faces of the faggots one last time... that doesn't seem an unlikely outcome right now.

If that's not your game, what else are we to expect on the basis of this pathetic gesture? Down the line, once the crowds of cuntfuckers are safely bought-in to the story, somewhere down the line, so as not to frighten the cuntfuckers off with faggotry upfront, what are we to expect as the payoff in this prick tease game? If you're going to string us along--stall our calling you out on your homophobic cuntfuckery--on the promise of tackling the character's sexuality, the best you can do now is already some sorry-ass shit. The best you can do is openly reveal his bisexuality and give him a male love interest. Yeah, like (even) that's gonna happen. My bet is you go for some cop-out pansexual desire, inchoate and unconsummated--scene after scene of straight sex and the odd hint now and then of alternative interests. And frankly, on the basis of this limp-dicked watery wankjuice. my money's on you not revealing a damn thing. My money's on you being a pansy-ass pussylick, too spineless to do more than hint that the hero is not wholly hetero. My money's on you bottling it in every single scene like this, writing in a get-out clause where we can absolutely, if we want to, read some scrap of an inkling of a sign of homosexual "attraction" on Leonardo's part as simply the eye of an artist and inventor awed by all of Nature.

Looking at that tavern scene, at that insipid excuse for an implication of potential sexual preferences not involving the peepee/vageegee combo--the conjunction that the actual Leonardo was self-professedly repelled by, remember--my money's on you actually thinking that this piss-poor gesture is addressing Leonardo's sexuality. I'd lay odds on you obliviously writing this sort of shit all through the show and actually pointing to it as some frisson of "ambiguity" by which you acknowledge the "uncertainty" of Leonardo's appetites.

Seriously, is this the best you can do, Goyer? Is that "But pleasing to the eye," really meant to lay the foundations for a libertine Leonardo who might be just a little bit bi? Are we really meant to swallow your reassurances that the straightironing isn't the whole story? When this risible sham of a subtext is 100 percent readable as simply an artist appreciating male beauty, when more than anything it actually serves as a pretext for just another pandering demonisation of the queer who's coming on to him, when it's in the context of a veritable frontal assault demonising same-sex desires, salvo after salvo smashing into the viewer's skull your use of sodomy as the very symbol of corruption--when you tell us you'll deal with it down the line and this is what we have to go on... man, I will believe it when I see it.

Prove me wrong, cuntfucker. There's nothing you can do now to undo that jawdroppingly obnoxious opening, but maybe you can salvage some shred of artistic integrity from this wreck of pandering supercharged with prejudice and driven at full throttle into common fucking decency and respect. Can't say I think you're capable of it or even interested in doing so, but if you're not the cuntfucking cuntfucker that this arrant knavery says you are, go ahead and show us all how your TV show isn't actually an agitprop shitrag smearing your stenchsome message on every queer from Leonardo back to Sodom itself and forward to the present and beyond. Go ahead.

Prove me wrong, cuntfucker.


Friday, April 12, 2013

A Tribute to Thatcher

"Children who need to be taught traditional moral values are being taught they have an inalienable right to be gay." -- Margaret Thatcher, 9th October, 1987.

At the age of fifteen, two weeks from my sixteenth birthday, I was one of those children.

Let me tell you what it was like... or try to, at least.

I don't think it's possible for me to conjure the darkness of that period, the bleak fatalism of mass unemployment, the miners' strikes, Mutual Assured Destruction, HIV. It was ten years since Johnny Rotten sang "no future," and by then even that defiant punk rage against the dying of the light was snuffed out. That fierce and glorious nihilism which had stared into the abyss of meaning, which had grinned madly as it lit its passions like molotov cocktails and hurled them into the void, shouting, "Why the fuck not?" rather than, "Why even bother?"... by then even that aggressive stance in the face of hopelessness had been warped, teen rebellion recuperated by the mechanisms of corporate media, co-opted into the cosy pseudo-darkness of Goth (about as subversive as a Hammer horror movie) or worse, into the neo-nazi fascism of Skrewdriver and their ilk. I had a friend whose big brother played guitar, used to listen to The Clash, Billy Bragg; I still remember listening to his scratchy vinyl copy of the Stiff Little Fingers "78 Revolutions Per Minute"--or "Going Underground" by The Jam. I was too young to quite get the former, but the latter I loved. But that friend's brother was gone by 87, stolen away in skinhead seduction to fucking National Front bullshit.

Graffiti of the era: "HELL" in red paint on a road sign on the way into town, the truth splattered over the facile "Welcome to Kilwinning"; "WELCOME TO SIAGON" (sic) on the wall of the high street Presto supermarket; "PAKIS" on the little concrete bunker commercial block in the heart of my New Town housing scheme, said block consisting of a fish-and-chip shop, a bookies, a pub, a newsagent, and the Asian-run grocery store that attracted that racist daubing.

I was fifteen in this paragon of Thatcher's Britain, in working-class Pennyburn, Scottish analogue of the American projects, maze and prison of pebbledashed council houses, a community devastated by her demolition job on industry and on the actual traditional moral values attendant upon it--the communitarian ethos of mutual support that was evidenced, for all the internal politicking, no more so than in the unions she'd smashed or in my teacher dad's long-suffering service to the local council. I answered the phone calls from residents with problems and peeves, took messages when he was out, and so I heard the sort of trials and tribulations these people were dealing with, petty or profound. I was fifteen and old before my years... old and tired and ground down to despair.

I was fifteen and a faggot--or a poof, to use the parlance of that place and time--fifteen and gay and watching the AIDS iceberg and tombstone ads that aired that very year. 1984 had been and gone, and the three years since were for me that eternity envisaged by Orwell--a jackboot stomping on a face forever. That iceberg was my doom, as foregone a fate for me as its figurative source was for The Titanic. That tombstone was my death, my grave already dug, my corpse in its closet coffin already lowered down, the earth already heaped upon that locked wooden box, shovel-load by shovel-load by shovel-load, soil slowly closing over me, compressing with weight to six foot of smothering earth, endless rain of drizzle or downpour soaking that soil to a seal of clay, and I in my heart a rotting cadaver, fingernails bloody at the last desperate scrabble for air. I was fifteen, and dead already.

"Children who need to be taught traditional moral values are being taught they have an inalienable right to be gay."

I was fifteen, and what I needed was fucking hope.

I was fifteen and what I needed was to be able to turn to someone. Not a parent, because that was way too fucking scary a thought. Not an older brother, because I was fifteen and he was eighteen and we were still caught in the idiot enmities of infant siblings, the bookworm and footballer still worlds apart, not yet outgrown the squabbling and slapfighting, not yet mature enough--secure enough in adult modes of interaction--to confess a crushing secret. A friend? Well, I could talk with my best mate about the polyamorous aspects of the SF novels we both loved, make approaches to a revelation of sexuality via Heinlein, Pohl, Delany, but what assurance could he offer that wasn't just part of our mutual despair at the world we were trapped in? He was fifteen too, and with barely more hope than me, even without the dread doom of the Gay Plague hanging over his head. So I say again...

I was fifteen, and what I needed was fucking hope.

So who then? Who could I turn to? Maybe it could have been my English teacher, Mr Olafson, who'd been so encouraging with my writing. I still remember the thrill roaring secretly in my heart, when after an assignment to compose a story in the style of James Thurber, he started class one day by announcing that he'd found another Thurber story we ought to hear, and as he started reading it out loud, I realised that he was reading my composition, faking out the class to reveal at the end that it wasn't Thurber at all. I still remember him taking me aside after another composition, how I worried whether I was in some sort of trouble, but all he wanted was to make me understand just how much he thought of my work. I'm sure it was really not all that, bless him, but he saw the potential--and I suspect he saw the hollowness in my eyes, saw that I needed something--and reached out to open my eyes to it. I think he was the first person I ever actually came out to in that other aspect of my life, the first person to whom I ever truly articulated a dream--or pipe-dream, as I thought of it--of one day being a writer. I will honour Mr Olafson till the day I die, cherish what he did for me. So could I have--did I--turn to him?

I sort of tried.

I was fifteen and Mr Olafson had decided to set up a debating society. I've told this story before, many times, and I will tell it again, as many times as is required, in whatever circumstances it is required. It is here. In truth, my memory may be fudging the dates, setting this at the time Thatcher uttered her words, but in truth it doesn't really matter, does it, a few months this way or that? What matters is only that Mr Olafson had set up a debating society, and I had joined, along with a few other kids, mostly of the smart and slightly awkward kind. Smart and slightly awkward and just stubborn enough to engage in the sort of after-school activity that would make you an instant target in the inverted snobbery and anti-intellectualism of my peers at Kilwinning Academy. I was fifteen and wearing a trenchcoat that actively attracted abuse because I would not be fucking broken by them, because I fucking would not break.

No, scratch that. I could not break. For all the world, as much as I wanted to just, just... break already, to lose control forever and fatally, as much as I wanted all my frustration to simply ignite in an apotheosis of righteous wrath, for all that the one thing I really had left to hold on to was a dream of massacre and suicide-by-bullet--in that year of Hungerford, with Columbine still 12 years down the road--as much as my heart yearned and reached and clawed to break free of its restraints, the restraints held. It was fatalism upon fatalism, bitter despairing resignation to the reality that I simply did not have the fucking guns to do what I would have done without a moment's hesitation. There might have been a little last bit of strength in defiantly clinging to that glorious nightmare, in refusing to go without taking as many down with me as I possibly could. There might even have been some inner manacles of empathy under the narcissistic rage, an ounce of care meaning I wasn't truly as capable of executing my fancies of vengeance as I imagined. Does it matter? The point of this digression is only that some iron part of me I could not overcome refused to let me buckle under the pressure.

So I would not slash my wrists and be saved, and sob and have it all come out. I would not finally lose the rag and throw myself in a frenzied assault upon some teen tormenter, intent on smashing his brains out on the steps of a door into A Block. I would not simply cast aside everything I was and become an indistinguishable drone to spare myself the shit meted out to anyone a little different. What good would it do? I was essentially different. I was deviant to the core and incapable of quelling my denials of the fact. I was a pervert, a poof, a thing I had no inalienable right to be.

No one--I repeat, no one--was teaching me I had a right to be gay, inalienable or otherwise. Not one "loony left" teacher was offering me such assurance. The nearest I came to it would be in the assurances offered by Mr Olafson as regards my writing. In the story he took me aside over, you see, I'm sure all manner of homoerotic undercurrents were visible. The SF setting was a cityscape of Graecian exoticism. Androids I imagined neuter but coded thoroughly as male were models of Classical perfection, idealised and as I recall naked. Imagine something between Roy Batty in Blade Runner and Mouse from Nova. They were figments of desire and I'm sure blatantly so to an English teacher. So his silence on that point while lauding the story's skill was... an assurance of sorts. It was all he could give, really, with Clause 28 on the horizon.

So I joined Mr Olafson's debate club, in part because I was one of those smart and awkward kids who thought it would be neat, in part because I wanted to reciprocate his support. And in part, perhaps, because it might--just might--be a way to begin the opening of my heart. If I couldn't confide in family, if it did little good to half-confide in a friend, perhaps I could talk in theoreticals and hypotheticals, send out desperate clues via arguments on principle, take a stance that might invite questions. I would surely deny my sexuality if confronted over it--I was still denying it to myself--but it would surely bring me one step closer to the admission. So I joined Mr Olafson's debate club, and together with another member, a girl called Alanna, suggested Clause 28 as a topic for us to discuss.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with it, Clause 28, formulated in 1986 and passed into law in 1988 as Section 28, was a law prohibiting the "promotion of homosexuality" via any activity funded by local government. This is what Thatcher was and will always be to me. This is the platform she's arguing in that speech above. I was fifteen and as far as she was concerned, God forbid some teacher tell me even that I was allowed to be gay. Her words in that speech put the lie, the damnable lie, to the pretext that it was about encouraging children to be gay.

The bigoted fuckers will always cast it as encouraging children to be gay when what they really mean is admission of the right to be such, because any affirmation of that right is always already encouraging the child to be what they are. Any acknowledgement that the desire is ethically neutral, no one's business but the child's own, is automatically a validation of the emotional imperative that desire always already is. To say, "You have every right to feel that way," is to say, "Your impulse is legitimate, that imperative holds, is valid, for there is nothing to inherently override it." Thatcher's words strip bare the sentiment that's shrouded in the word "promotion," reveal the true stance: it's not that no one must be allowed to sway children towards homosexuality; it's that no one must be allowed to defend their right to desire as they can't not desire. It's that no one must be allowed to defend that right against "traditional moral values." It's that no one must be allowed to even oppose on principle the homophobe's agenda of imposing their own prejudice on the next generation.

If you think this is an extreme articulation, the truth is proven. It was demonstrated to me that year, back in 1987, when we asked if we could discuss this legislation in the debating society. Mr Olafson, bless him, thought hard on this for a number of days. He was clearly unhappy with the outcome when he came back and told us he could not allow that. With Clause 28 looking almost certain to pass, there was a risk that to allow a discussion of the law could be construed as a breach of the law. His job would be on the line the moment any parent complained about this English teacher not just teaching children that they had a right to be gay but encouraging them to actively argue for that right.

"Children who need to be taught traditional moral values are being taught they have an inalienable right to be gay."

I was fifteen, and Margaret Thatcher stood on a platform and preached that I had no right to be gay, that no public servant must be allowed to tell me I had that right--not on the government's dime. She preached that I must be denied the shelter of a supportive teacher, that I must be refused even the chance to question this, that no responsible adult in the environment that was the vast bulk of my daily life was allowed to offer refuge from the relentless fucking lesson that was to be drummed into me, these fucking traditional fucking moral fucking values that I was inherently iniquitous in my desires, that I was not just abnormal but abhorrent.

She preached for pious prejudice to have almighty power over that part of my life, for that power to be absolute--unopposed, unmitigated, unquestioned. As surely as her good friend Saville was a child-rapist and her good friend Pinochet a murderer of all ages, I can tell you that the only reason that fucking monstrous creature did not drive me to my death is that Death came to me with my brother's body in his arms the next year, abolishing all illusions of meaning to the world, smashing the entire facade of moral values, traditional or otherwise, and leaving only the certainty that I could not put my parents through such grief.

I am sure I was far from alone in the despair she wrought upon me as a child. I have no doubt that long before such things were brought to the public awareness, jackboot stamped into our faces by the news stories over and over and over again until, in this century, in these last few years, we've had to acknowledge the horror and combat it in campaigns such as Dan Savage's It Gets Better outreach--I have no doubt that children died and parents grieved for them as a direct result of the pitiless and relentless inculcation of prejudice she imposed upon us by law. I hold Thatcher responsible for any and every suicide by any fifteen year old faggot whose fate was sealed by those words. Or fourteen, Or thirteen. Pick a number.

I was fifteen years old, and if there's anything I needed--anything--it was to be taught that I had an inalienable right to be gay. I think of all those who needed that as I did, all those who were not spared by a bitter twist of fortune, all those whose names are forgotten by all but those who were close to them, whose secrets may be as unknown to their loved ones, to this very day, as the fates of her fuckbuddy Pinochet's victims.

There is no fucking forgiveness for that murderous monster, not for me. I can think of no other human being for whom I have such hate, for whom I could have such hate. There are other monsters of history whose actions were on another scale entirely, but these will always be spared by their distance in time and space. I can be abhorred by the greater crimes of these others, but with Thatcher it is personal. As much as I cannot imagine wishing such ill on any other human being, alive or dead, there is a part of me that hopes fervently that in her descent into senility, her loss of comprehension, that confusion terrified her. There is a part of me that wants her to have died in mortal terror at the chaos of her memories, that iron will the spineless sycophants are now praising broken, her whole personality smashed to the incomprehension of a frightened child.

Another part of me appreciates that this is ruthless beyond mercy, that it crosses into an outright cruelty and viciousness that no one truly deserves. But that fire burning in my heart when I watch that YouTube clip above... that part of me does not give a fuck. That part of me meets her on her own terms, in her own spirit of murderous pitiless disapprobation, and it cries out in me with every fibre of my fifteen year old self's heart, in the name of that fifteen year old, and for his sake, let her reap the fucking whirlwind that she sowed.

I would spit and piss and dance on her grave. If any would find that sentiment objectionable, I tell you, be satisfied that it is only sentiment, that I will drink this very night to her demise but draw the line at actual desecration of her resting place. If any would find that sentiment objectionable even in a verbal expression such as this, baulk at my publically speaking ill of the dead, I tell you, if I was silenced at the age of fifteen in my school by her unconscionable misdeeds, I will not be fucking silent now. I will not be silenced by your fucking traditional fucking moral fucking values, writing here now at the age of forty-one, bearing witness for those who did not make it, those who died under her iron hand, whose graves got a fraction of the tributes bestowed upon their murderer.

This is my tribute to Thatcher: this fury. This is my elegy for her: every word I have used since 1987, use today, and will use until the day I join her in oblivion, to stand against everything she stood for.

May she rot in Hell? No. No, I don't believe in Hell, so that won't work. May she be wiped from the face of the earth. May she be obliviated from history as it marches on--as it strolls on, throwing the jackboots aside as the ugly and malicious and absurd folly that they are. May her "traditional moral values" be forgotten as the ugly and malicious and absurd folly that they are too. And may she herself be forgotten with them, Margaret Thatcher, Milk-Snatcher, murderer of children's hope from the start of her career to its very pinnacle--Margaret Thatcher, the ugliest and most malicious and absurd folly of them all.

Rest In Peace? No, may we one day have rest, respite from dealing with any such as her. May we have a moment's rest right now, in fact, before soldiering on towards that ever-distant goal, sit back for a moment and savour the fact that she is gone. And while we rest, and drink our beers to the godless universe that thankfully, blessedly took her from us... those of you who want to laud her to the heavens... you'll have to forgive us if we've little time for your arse-licking of her rotten corpse. If we turn to you with a hardened heart, tell you to fuck off and, as we say here in Scotland, gie us peace.

Good fucking riddance, Maggie. Good fucking riddance.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Stark Contrast

Tony Stark has just moved into his new multi-million dollar corporate headquarters cum bachelor pad. He's happy living the life of a drinking, womanising billionaire playboy who just happens to be the superhero by name of Iron Man too. Then one day, who should turn up on his doorstep but his distant cousin from some remote, backwards, vaguely European country... Ned Stark! Eight seasons of hilarity ensue in this classic 1980s sitcom, A Stark Contrast.

Now simply insert Robert Downey Jr and Sean Bean, in character, into this:

(Full credit--or blame--to Charlie Jane Anders, who had the vision to see that Tony and Ned should be in a sitcom together.)