Thoughts on 2 Books by Oscar Moore

(This post includes recurring themes from my blog, and expands upon a post earlier today on my Facebook profile)

Fundamentalism. Traditionally used only in reference to religious world views it is now often applied (by me if no one else) to other spheres; politics being perhaps the most common. I’ve elsewhere described it thus: “Fundamentalism is any approach to complex issues (spiritual, political, sexual or any other) that attempt to offer a single, universal solution.

People often say “forget the past- don’t look back, just ahead.” While I agree that it isn’t helpful to be ‘stuck in the past’ to ignore our past and how it continues to impact our present pretty much guarantees that it will continue to inform (and perhaps interfere with) our future. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” (George Santayana, ‘The Life of Reason’ 1905). Totally forgetting our past would mean constantly relearning skills and losing all the experiences of people, places and events that give our time here meaning and richness. Fully understanding our past often helps us move forward; while allowing us to enjoy the pleasant memories. Forgetting details of negative experiences while retaining relevant lessons learned is a useful balancing act. And ‘balance’ is the key to so much of life.

The books by the late Oscar Moore* are both good reads and important ones. Clearly the world of (western gay male) PWA- people with aids- is vastly different today than from the one Oscar Moore experienced. To a large, if lesser, degree the world of casual sex, recreational drugs, and sex work that he recounts in his novel is similarly historical. Yes many gay men still engage in some or all of those experiences (vice is far too judgmental) but not to the same degree. Or at least it appears not by as many. Perhaps some of those who do imbibe in such worldly pleasures are driven to excessive discretion due to the reactionary shaming and guilt that arose in the wake of the aids crisis of 30 years ago. Sadly such judgement and shaming contributed to the spread of the disease.

Outside our communities the label “gay disease” meant reduced resources, discrimination and attempts at segregating/ quarantine.

Worse (in my not-so-humble opinion) was the shaming and judgement within our communities. Slut-shaming was around long before gay pride, of course, but we’ve all-too-often adopted bad habits from the broader society as our own. Worse because we should know better- taking on the hatred of the oppressor means we haven’t collectively fought as hard as we could- should- for the true freedom of full self-expression.

This is a big part of why I now self-identify as Queer rather than as a gay man as I did when I came out in 1977.

The slut-shaming and judgement all too often kept people from talking about their actual sexual history. And that led far too often to people repressing their desires… until they popped out (up?) ‘under the influence’ of alcohol or other chemicals. With the resulting lack of clear thinking. And greater risk. More infection, more transmission, more shaming… and the cycle went on. Goes on.

Related Posts

Nearly Straight
NCOD 2013
Early Morning Thoughts #3
Am I A Relic Of The Past?

Books by Oscar Moore

(These are affiliate links; I will earn a few cents should you make a purchase)


This semi-autobiographical novel has been compared to Rechy’s City of Night. Too-often called unapologetic (it is- but should that be noteworthy?) for its honest exploration of a life full of ‘worldly experiences’.

A collection of columns from The Guardian newspaper from 1994 to Oscar’s death in 1996, age 36. ‘Brutally honest’ and devastatingly witty. Gallows humour at its finest.

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eBooks of Selected Blog Posts

Take This Blog and Save It
Want to save some of my blog posts to read off-line? I’ve assembled two Kindle-compatible eBook collections of blog posts. Don’t own a Kindle device? There’s an app for that. Each collection is available at the incredible price of US$0.99 – mere pennies a page. This isn’t about making money; but about sharing my thoughts, concerns and suggestions. Provoking thoughtful discussion about ideas & issues is my goal.


The eBook Queer Blog Posts contains most blog entries posted in the LGBTITQQ2S category from 2009 through January of 2015. Some were written to submit to one or another college class, others were written in response to happenings in my own life, and some comment on the world around me.
While these posts contain specifically gay content, everything I feel or experience is inevitably processed through the filter of my being a queer man of a certain age. Excluded posts generally have a video or large image with limited text. Certain posts are shared annually; duplicates have been eliminated when content is unchanged.

 


The eBook Queer (Political) Blog Posts contains most blog entries posted in the Politics Plus category from 2009 through 2014. I am not formally trained in Politics but have been a keen observer of political creatures (and their creations) for much of my 55 plus years on Earth. All opinions expressed herein are my own unless credited to another source and accurately reflect my belief and understanding at the time they were first published.

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Nimoy, Tovey and Stereotypes

Leonard Nimoy worked hard to escape a future limited by his being typecast as Mr. Spock; arguably the most iconic character from the Star Trek universe. He struggled to express other aspects of his personality, interests and talents. Of which he had plenty. It is quite possible (certainly ‘common wisdom’) that such effort made the resulting output (photography, books, music, tweets, and plenty more) all that much richer: art through struggle, art through striving. The image of the suffering artist is another stereotype. I don’t think that a life filled with poverty, death and disease are essential elements for creative output but it sure seems they often assist us in reaching the deepest reaches of our true Self.

His first biography is entitled “I am not SPOCK” and a later one is “I Am Spock” – I suspect the truth is that he was “Not Just Spock“. Certainly his Author’s Page at Amazon is filled with diverse titles.

As I understand it, a tenet of Buddhism is that ceasing to struggle against, to accept, what ‘must be’ is a path to peace. As with so much advice I think it’s a mixed truth. Too quickly ceasing to struggle against death cuts a life short- denying friends and loved ones the full measure of a life and who knows what other achievements. Surrender at the right moment and perhaps experience a peaceful passing. The secret seems to be balance; perhaps best summed up with the iconic Serenity Prayer.

But I didn’t intend to dwell on death. Rather the thoughts prompted by the passing of “Mr Spock” are how we as queer folk, we creative types, may benefit from achieving a balance of the stereotypes often applied to us: queer, gay, Top, bottom, feminine, masculine, flamboyant, normal, closeted, withdrawn, anal-retentive… Rather than saying “that’s not me” perhaps we need to accept- nay, embrace- that many of these are (to a greater or lesser degree) a part of us. Despite the best efforts of marketing and political ‘experts’ to reduce each of us to a single, simple target demo we are rich, diverse, complex beings. Fundamentalism is any approach to complex issues (spiritual, political, sexual or any other) that attempt to offer a single, universal solution. Life is far too rich for such restrictive world view.

As I was finishing up this post the following story crossed my Facebook feed: it seems that openly-gay actor Russell Tovey (now in HBO’s Looking) said that “I feel like I could have been really effeminate,” but thanks his Father for “not allowing me to go down that path” (as reported at Fusion.Net). I respect his right to speak his mind- so long as my right to speak my reaction is also respected.

It is worth reading the full Guardian article for more background; Tovey was bullied for not presenting a ‘sufficiently masculine’ appearance. While I can appreciate the fear such an attack brings up (I’ve been assaulted, gay-bashed, more than once) his reaction is the less-empowering ‘identifying with his attackers’. If he has to remind himself that he can only love himself because he fooled others into thinking he’s butch, isn’t that an admission that his inner Self really wants to “relax, prance around, sing in the street,“?

Sadly that pseudo-masculine, nearly-straight machismo he is so proud of seems to have led him to issue a series of non-apology tweets that just reinforced my opinion that he truly believes his machismo somehow makes him ‘better’ – not, “more suited to his career” or “better fit to his internal sense of self” but ‘more of a real man’. And that is offensive.

We must never forget:
The Stone Wall
To those who came
        before me
Stood tall and proud
(Sometimes on their knees-
        but still proud)

Spoke out against oppression
(Sometimes in whispers
        but still speaking)

Fought the good fight
Beaches, bars and, at times,
        on the street
Stood up and said
        Enough!

Never took the ‘easy way out’
Finally took a stand
        inside the stone wall.

© Copyright 2011 Brian Gryphon All rights reserved.

And of course I couldn’t let this Tovey thing pass without a quote of relevant lyrics from Romanovsky & Phillips:
” ‘Straight-looking Marine seeks straight cop to please’
How straight do they look when they’re down on their knees?
It’s a taste that I’ve never been able to savor
This preoccupation with sexist behavior”

Give Me A Homosexual” from ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’
music & lyrics ©1987 Ron Romanovsky – All rights reserved.

 

Related Posts:

Fey Gay Tops
Nearly Straight Gays
Me and The T

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Pondering

I presently work nights in a warehouse that serves a group of mid-market clothing brands. Sales are weak- hours are being cut in every (non-management) area. If this was strictly a reaction to poor products (quality or selection), bad pricing or weak marketing I could say “Fine- free enterprise weeds out the weak“. If it was a sign that consumers generally are wiseing up that a consumption-based society must inevitability consume itself that would be progress- painful as it is- that could bring a better world.

Sadly I am convinced it is but another indication that the once-powerful Middle Class is being replaced with an oh-so modern neo-feudalism (now with Internet access). Henry Ford realized that if he under-paid his employees they would not be able to afford the cars they made. Few (if any) of those who make the eGadgets we love could afford to purchase one. We’ve let manufacturing be ‘out-sourced’ overseas (low wages, lax or non-existent worker protections) as we feed our consuming desire to be the most materialistic people to ever inhabit this reality.

Working for barely-above minimum wage, with no benefits, I can not afford to purchase the products that surround me. I have not gone to a movie theatre in well over a decade and recently ‘cut the cable’ in favour of buying food. Not that I am devoid of entertainment. While I enjoy on-line media I refuse to just watch fictional programs to escape- so I know not everyone is blind to what is happening. Although there are plenty of people who seem unable to understand their own contributions to their own destruction.

People are beginning to realize we are not without options. Change can happen. Change WILL happen. New sacrifices will be demanded. If the “1%” wise up in time it won’t have to include their very lives. Even the numbest herd of sheep may awake to the insanity surrounding them.

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