Memo to the Luna-Ticks: We’ve Been Used By Gay Men For Profit Before, So Don’t Expect Us to Shut Up Now

March 28, 2010

Exhibit A:


I could just end there, but that would be insufficient.  After all, the novel Myra Breckinridge largely was a legit, scathing critique of Hollywood – and, the title character wasn’t really a transsexual woman; in fact, an honest assessment would place her outside even the broader category of ‘transgender.’

But, thanks to a gay man, when people think ‘Myra Breckinridge,’ they think ‘transsexual’….

EVEN when viewing the movie version (which even Vidal hated.)

Yes, if I stopped with the book Myra or even the movie Myra, that would let Isreal Luna’s Myra-on-Viagra-just-in-time-for-ENDA-2010.

Not surprisingly, the latest gay man to exploit trans suffering and death (thereby both legitimizing it and ensuring that it repeats) has his defenders who have mastered the art of FOX-esque anti-PC speak (so much so that one could be excused for wondering if all of the internet posts defending Luna actually came from members of Michael Bailey’s Greek chorus of faux-anti-PC histrionics.)

But, please note the word I emphasized.

This image is not from Vito Russo’s Celluloid Closet.

Actually, I take that back; part of it is. 

The photo within the ad appears in the book – but, as noted, this is an ad for the book.  I don’t know how many gay papers it appeared in (or if it appeared in any non-gay papers as well), but this is the ad as it appeared in the July 20, 1981, edition of the GLC Voice, a Minneapolis-St. Paul gay paper.

Perhaps some of you are thinking to yourselves, ‘Jeff Bridges played a transsexual woman?  Wow – maybe I’ll give Thunderbolt and Lightfoot a look.’

Well, the movie is worth a look.  It was Michael Cimino’s first directorial effort.  The next was The Deer Hunter; his previous work had been as writer for the second ‘Dirty Harry’ movie, Magnum Force.  And, like Cimino’s other work (which also includes the epic fail of epic fails, Heaven’s Gate), its not a happy-fest. 

A great movie, but a real downer.

And, oh by the way, it also has nothing to do with transsexuals.

And, perhaps most importantly, the scene that Russo singles out has nothing to do with gays or lesbians.


And there is no debate on that point.


Don’t even try.

In case the ad image isn’t clear, this is the text:

Jeff Bridges in drag in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is just another example of the homophobia Hollywood has peddled over the years, from the “sissy” jokes of the silents to the paranoia and brutality of Cruising.  In his brilliant new book THE CELLULOID CLOSET: Homosexuality in the Movies, Vito Russo explains how Hollywood has adapted to prevailing attitudes, both in its veiled references to homosexuality (e.g., “buddy films” like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and in explicit ones like The Boys in the Band.  120 photographic stills.



Noooooooooooobody in the gay community bitched about that one, eh Luna?

But a small cadre of gay men and women did think that J. Michael Bailey’s Man Who Would be Queen was worthy of a Lambda award – and it was up to transsexuals to bitch about that gay transphobia and be derided as bullies and censors both by Bailey’s Greek chorus of well-professed heterosexual Ph(U)Ds and the small cadre of award-conferring gay men and women who could not stand to have their credibility (deservedly) questioned. 

Can we assume that Israel Luna’s celluloid definition of trans women should be gearing up to receive awards from other gay men and women whose judgment is above question because they say it is above question?

Israel Luna is exploiting and insulting trans women.

There is no legitimate debate on that point.

Exploitation of, insults to and erasure of trans women has been nothing but a career-enhancer in gay land, so I suspect that, in addition to preparing to receive gay-made awards, Luna should be gearing up to occupy an office on Rhode Island Avenue.

Yes, Israel Luna is exploiting and insulting trans women.

There is no legitimate debate on that point.

But what about my other example?

To the same extent that Jonathan Katz erased male-to-female-ness in Gay American History, Vito Russo exploited trans people – particularly male-to-female-ness – in The Celluloid Closet.

Yes, Russo – not Michael Cimino (or even Jeff Bridges.)  As non-PC as it may be, as long as there are movies and television programs, there will be instances of male-configured bodies wearing women’s clothing.  No one has the right to demand that that stop any more than christianism-infected government has the right to criminalize wearing the clothing of the opposite sex.

Shit happens.

It just doesn’t have to always smell – and look – like shit (I won’t mention Candis Cayne’s appearance on CSI:NY by name.)

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was about a bank robbery.

Jeff Bridges’ drag scene was a disguise to aid in the bank robbery.

In fact, even though much of Russo’s analysis about gay subtexts in  ‘buddy movies’ is worthwhile – even as to two of the characters in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (those played by George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis) – with respect to Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges he stretches his thesis beyond the point of structural failure.

In no small part, the structural failure occurs because he tries to tie the drag scene to it.

Russo used the mere notion of deviation from archetypal masculinity (I use that term instead of gender transgression so as not to piss off the HBS people, who I’m hoping will side with me as I think we’re all in the same boat on this one) as being something evil and something that Real Men (gay or straight) should find abhorrent.  (And if this paragraph inspires you to re-read Julia Serrano’s Whipping Girl, it should; and if you haven’t yet read it, you should.)

Forget the fact that a key element of the bank robbery at the center of the plot of the movie was Jeff Bridges’ Lightfoot-in-drag seducing a straight security guard. 

Anything remotely trans = Antithesis of Gay Male = EVIL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Forget the fact that, though strictly speaking classifiable as trans behavior, Lightfoot was not being trans-anything (much less gay anything.)

He was robbing a bank.

This wasn’t Billy Crystal as Jody in Soap.

It wasn’t Dinah East.

It wasn’t even Myra Breckinridge – print or celluloid.

It was one of four bank robbers – and it was one of four bank robbers not being gay, explicitly or implicitly.

But, the image of Jeff Bridges in drag running down a street in a small town in Montana in the mid-1970s was the image that was used.  And I do have to ascribe the picking of it to Russo, though I don’t know if he actually had a hand in the ad; still, the pages in the book that deal with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot are not simply as negative toward the movie as that ad – they’re even more negative, favorably citing the negative reviews of reviewers he calls out as homophobic.

Russo’s own take:

In Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Cimino does a Ratso-and-Joe number on Jeff Bridges and Clint Eastwood, the same number he did on Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter (1978).  At the beginning of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Eastwood’s baby blue eyes hit Bridges like a thunderbolt, and Bridges lightfoots it into drag for the remainder of the film.


The first time there’s even a hint that Bridges will wear a dress?  Roughly 80 minutes into the two-hour flick.

The blue eyes?  Eastwood is the one who makes a comment about Bridges’ eyes (something about all great racecar drivers having blue eyes; I leave it to the NASCAR crowd to verify or disprove that.)


Just another gay man who would do anything to stretch anything in order to say anything imaginably negative about people he feels he has the right to project his idea of gay-masculinity on acting in a way that he feels those he feels are gay should not be acting.

Luna can say anything he wants about what he claims his piece of garbage is.

And his Luna-ticks can dutifully assemble into a neo-Dreger-esque Greek chorus of fake outrage at the ‘censors.’

But if Luna wants to salvage himself, he can do one simple thing: He can take a lie detector test – and he can answer the following questions:

  1. Did you really intend the movie to empower trans women?
  2. Thus far, have you in any way lied to your critics?
  3. Do you acknowledge transsexual women as actually being women.

Simple, eh?

As simple as holding my breath – which, I’m not going to do.

Because I’m standing by my contention that there is – and will be – no legitimate debate that Luna’s flick is just another instance in a long line of gay-orchestrated cultural trans-bashing.

Why America is Dead – Pt. 20: Health Insurance Companies Are Allowed to Exist

March 27, 2010

From the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

To appropriate an observation by Montgomery Burns: This corporate cadre of faceless  money-snorting automatons is conspiring to kill the Tracys’ son, and yet if the Tracys were to have them killed in order to save their son’s life, the Tracys would be the ones to go to jail. That’s capitalism – the way that Boehner, Cantor and McConnell want it to be – for you.

Bringing in the Big Guns, er…, Cats

March 27, 2010

I decided that I was going to need some outside help in my campaign to get Dan Savage to experience life on the same employment-seeking hustings that trans people have to deal with all the time.

And, given that the Golgathan was busy (proximity to Easter and all), I went for the next best thing:

A kitty who introduced herself to me by saying, “Dan Savage is a typical sleazy opportunistic transphobic gay white male of undeserved privilege.”

How could I not let her come home with me after that?

She later told me that her name is Bella.

Sleazy opportunistic transphobic gay white males of undeserved privilege: You are hereby on notice!

Silence Like a Cancer Grows – and the Same for Bullshit

March 27, 2010

At Bilerico, Joe Mirabella joins Dan Savage’s Greek Chorus of Rehabilitative Obfuscation, pimping the item about the trans kid from Mississippi – the item that Savage concluded with his extortion scheme – himself concluding:

As an added bonus, for those of you who are upset with Dan for this:

In ’08 Sloggers helped raised more than $5,000 to pay for the funeral of Duanna Johnson, a transwoman and a victim of police brutality who was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee. According to Johnson’s family, half of the money raised for Johnson’s funeral came from donors in Seattle after a call for donations appeared on Slog. Let’s see what we can raise for a trans kid who’s still alive, shall we? (Oh, and folks who want me to apologize for this: Okay, I will–after we raise at least 2K for Juin and his family. Otherwise, meh, I’ll just keep hating on trans people like the raging anti-trans beegoat that I am.)

So there you have it. If you want to see Dan Savage grovel, click the button below and raise some money for a very worthy cause.

I don’t want to see him grovel.

I want to see him fired.

I don’t want to see people aid and abet Savage’s bullshit scheme to extort money from the poorest-by-virtue-of-discrimination-and-hatred-by-gays-and-lesbians segment of the LGB(T) community in return for an ‘apology’ which, even if the text of it amounts to an ‘apology’ for what Savage actually did that was actually diseased, would be as believable as Joe Solmonese’s 2007 speech to Southern Comfort or that HRC’s hiring of an insta-trans, insta-alleged-activist means that it isn’t the seat of hatred of trans people in America.

The Effect of Ignorance Magnified is Indistinguishable from the Effect of Pure Phobia

March 26, 2010

A comment to a new piece at SLOG:

Dan may not be trans-phobic, but he’s likely trans-ignorant.

Here are his own words:

“I’ve never known a single adult gay man who decided to run off and become a woman. The only men I’ve known who changed their gender as adults were heterosexually identified men who now identify as lesbians.” (Sept 21, 2006 Savage Love).

I’ve read similar statements by him on the Slog over the years. If he really doesn’t know grown men that were gay (or believed they were) and in their adulthood went thru a process to transition to female, then he ought to spend more time with the Trans community. I am gay, not trans, but have met plenty of individuals out there to directly refute his assertion.

That quote could be evidence of trans-ignorance.

Or it could be evidence of pro-Michael Bailey, pro-Ray Blanchard, pro-Alice Dreger transphobia.

The effect – when magnified by readers of such things acting on them – is indistinguishable: trans women are either jokes or diseased or both.

Key here is that the new post is not from Joe Fudgepacker Dan Savage.  Its from Christopher Frizzelle.

And its entitled: “State Attorney General Rob McKenna Is Not Transgender.”

Frizzelle writes:

I gotta say, I don’t get the joke, Savage. The joke—that Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is transgender—is a culture-jamming brainfuck foisted on the world by Savage years ago. It’s probably the longest-running inside joke about a local elected official around here, even though, in the history of jokes, it has a pretty glaring flaw: It ain’t that funny. Yes, it can be funny to call a person the thing they hate, assuming McKenna hates transgender people. But that’s it?

[F]or all the heat he’s getting on this one joke, he sure has written a lot over the years in support of trans people (three recent examples: here, here, here). A lot of commenters are focused on whether Savage is transphobic. I know the guy. He’s not transphobic.


I bet that those who have made employment decisions at HRC, NGLTF, Lambda, GLAAD, GLAD, et. al., would self-declare to be not-transphobic – but when you ad up their combined organization-years of existence and compare that to the number of transsexual women who have ever been allowed to collect a paycheck from any of them, a different picture emerges.  I stand by my assertion that Dan Savage is an archetype of the most important reason that trans people – transsexuals and trans-everything and trans-everybody – cannot accept any ENDA other than a legitimately inclusive ENDA.

I fear employment decisions made by gay men and lesbians infinitely more than I do – or ever will –  employment decisions made by straight people.

Christopher, I’m not making a blanket declaration of ‘You can’t offer any opinion on trans-whatever or transphobia unless you are trans-something.’ 

I don’t even know who you are or if you’re trans – and it doesn’t actually matter: I am cautioning you to be very careful about who you become an apologist for.  Savage’s use of one trans person’s plight to attempt to justify either an apology or no apology is indeed extortion.

What you have to say here is nice:

“In a society where understanding of LGBT people is uneven, people have to pay a huge amount of attention to how things may be perceived by people who are not yet supportive of LGBT civil rights,” [Josh] Friedes [of Equal Rights Washington] said. “I think Dan’s comments give license to people making fun of transgender people.

Given what transgender people are up against out there, I’m with Friedes on this one.

But you’re also one payment away from owning Savage and his transphobia.

Step back and think about whay you’re buying before you are unable to return it.

Savage Extortion

March 26, 2010

Joe Fudgepacker Dan Savage says he’ll issue an apology for the Rob McKenna thing…

IF he manages to get $2K from his readers regarding an actual trans story that he’s glommed onto.

In ’08 Sloggers helped raised more than $5,000 to pay for the funeral of Duanna Johnson, a transwoman and a victim of police brutality who was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee. According to Johnson’s family, half of the money raised for Johnson’s funeral came from donors in Seattle after a call for donations appeared on Slog. Let’s see what we can raise for a trans kid who’s still alive, shall we? (Oh, and folks who want me to apologize for this: Okay, I will—after we raise at least 2K for Juin and his family. Otherwise, meh, I’ll just keep hating on trans people like the raging anti-trans beegoat that I am.)

Well, considering the non-apology that he has already tacked onto the thing:

I’m getting some very angry emails about this post. What can I say? I’m so sorry. I wrote the post in a hurry but that’s really no excuse. But I promise that in all future posts about Rob McKenna I will not fail to include a link to the Facebook page “Washington Tax Payers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s Lawsuit.”

And the fact that plenty of people still appear to not know what his alleged ‘joke’ may actually have been (how much so? I talked about the McKenna posting in my trans history class at the U of Iowa – introducing it with the incredulous question, ‘How many people know that the Attorney General of the State of Washington is an FTM transsexual?’  Well, one of my students actually is from Seattle and answered ‘yes’ – and, after some discussion, that ‘yes’ appears to have stemmed from the 2004 FTM-ing of McKenna by Savage.  Who needs Fox News when we have Dan Savage, eh?), I’d say to tell Savage to go crawl inside Mt. St. Helens and play with himself but send money directly to the person whose story he’s glomming onto.  Any ‘apology’ will be worth about as much, well, Savage himself.

Its Thursday and I’m Asking Again: Why Does Dan Savage Still Have a Job?

March 25, 2010

Perhaps because he has protectors?  Or enough fake e-mail ‘commenters’ to make people believe that he has protectors with this attitude:

I don’t care how you state it, I’m with you on this Dan…love you for always being spot on.

And/or this attidude:

Most of the MTFs I have known have acted traditionally male. I roomed with one who sat around cussing, watching Mariners games while drinking beer out of a bottle, sitting with his legs wide open while cutting farts, and just generally acting “male”. Do natural-born women do these things sometimes? Sure, but they’re also not paying thousands of dollars and taking untold amounts of time off work to transition to female.

I’ll also reiterate this: I am far less concerned about discrimination against me and my people by straights than I am by gay people of this mindset.

A real ENDA or NO ENDA.