Friday, January 30, 2009

The state of Gay PDA today- Are we capable of public displays of affection?

In this month of love I felt it appropriate to write about how we express love with each other and the implications that it may have depending on geography. I visited Jerusalem several years ago and have never forgotten the feeling of injustice I felt when a Palestinian shopkeeper started screaming eptihets in Arabic (you could tell because of the hand gestures) at a straight couple stopping in the market's passageway to kiss each other while holding hands. While being a romantic Kodak moment to my eyes, in Islam (Sharia law) public displays of affection are forbidden and considered offensive, even punishable by prison (yes prison) no matter what country you come from. The couple was so offended and afraid that they walked away very quickly in bewilderment from the angered shopkeeper. I truly felt bad for these two innocent human beings forbidden from loving each other and sharing a beautiful moment, in a city where so many have died for literally thousands of years because of religion and continue to so to this day. Irony is everywhere.
Different cultures express love in so many different ways but thankfully we live in a country where we have a magnaminous new president that enjoys a healthy and happy relationship so much so that he has no qualms with PDA, even on stage at his inauguration. Obama and Michelle have been the most affectionate first couple I've ever seen in my lifetime. I don't think George Bush ever even laid his hands on Laura in the entire 8 years of his presidency. In America it is safe to show affection to one another. Thankfully, the religious right in this country hasn't removed that freedom from us.....yet.
In a country not so far away like Malaysia, it is so offensive to kiss that a tourist couple almost got put in jail for a year for it.
Imagine that you are a adventurous, young, gay couple and you decide to take a trip to see one of the wonders of the modern world; the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur and you decide to take a picture of yourselves kissing underneath the famous air bridge that unites the two buildings. You could find yourself instantly handcuffed and crammed into a surreal 3rd world jail cell a' la Midnight Express.

Since we DON'T live in Jerusalem, Malaysia, Dubai or Iran, etc. then why don't us gays seem absolutely devoid of the ability to show any type of affection for each other in public? Do we fear the anti-gay ghestapo will rappel down from a helicopter and whisk us away to concentration camps? Will latin american gun-men shoot us point blank against a concrete wall? None of the above...why because we live in a FREE and modern country that has no laws against any public displays of affection. This includes everyone gays, lesbians, straight, bisexual, etc. While we wouldn't exactly choose to make out or hold hands in the middle of Yeehaw Junction, Florida we should be able to express our love for one another in an honest, subtle manner whenever we feel so inclined in the same way that straight or bi-racial couples do. Being a Miami native, as a kid we'd go to Disney every summer and I'd often stare at young couples waiting in line, appreciating how they would lean and kiss each other's cheeks while waiting to get on the next ride. I wished that when I grew up I could do the same with my partner. Some 20 odd years later, I CAN do that and do even if it does make my current boyfriend uncomfortable or fearful. I stick to my guns and my belief that one of the most beautiful things to see in this life is people freely showing the love they have for each other at any given moment. It was a pleasing sight at my neighborhood Target to see an attractive blonde girl feeding a chocolate kiss to her black boyfriend and he responding with a sweet pop kiss to her mouth. How wonderful that they can feel free enough to express themselves like that in today's America, then I paused to ask myself when will that time come for "the gays"?

I don't mean we have to be all over each other all of the time but when it's a moment that you feel love for the person you are with, the most natural thing reaction is for you to show it. It takes effort to hold it in and why would you? It's as simple as squeezing their hand while walking, rubbing their backs or even yes god forbid, a pop kiss. If people can say "awww" and find the beauty in two dogs kissing in Lady and the Tramp then I have absolutely no doubt they would find our moments of true and honest love to be equally endearing.
The primary defense that religions use against Gays showing affection in public is that it is damaging to children. After coming back from a recent Carnival Cruise I can confidently tell you what I find offensive and disturbing to children. Obesity is offensive. Families allowing their children to be obese, stuffing their faces at a buffet 5 times a day is offensive. Bad taste in clothing is offensive. Hairy backs on men roasting in the sun is offensive. Extreme acts of violence shown on the afternoon news are offensive. Images of Jesus Christ dead and nailed to a cross are deeply disturbing, people wearing sandals with fungus infected toe nails is disturbing. What messages do those things tell the children of the world? Do we gays really believe that the expression of our love is more offensive than the examples I've described above? Really? What gives them the right to be out and proud with their nasty-as-they-wanna-be-selves and us not to be?

In the same fashion that some gays still remain in the closet even though thousands are out and proud, this is just another form of self-inflicted repression. As I've said before, fear is part perception and part reality. It is a human right in the United States and other democratic countries to be able to express affection for the ones you love within the norms of society, of course. I don't think anyone wants to see two people slobbering all over each other at a dinner table, unless you're a pervert but at the same time you wouldn't arrest them from doing so. You have the choice of just looking away. T'is the beauty of living in a free country.

I'd love to see the day when gay and lesbian couples all over America and other free nations, show the world that we don't just have hot sex but that we do love, we do express affection for one another, that our love is true and yes, inoffensive. Just make sure you aren't in Dubai before you do (that goes for the straights too).

A warning from the UK to travelers visiting arabic countries:

Heinz pulls their ad of two gay men kissing because it was deemed to offensive to children:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


As Lady Gaga so sexily sings, "Can you read my, read my Poker face?". Well, in Miami's Club Space and every other club in Miami, you can find "poker face's" everywhere you look. Club Space is an institution that proudly hosts thousands of visitors locally and from around the world. The only club that has survived fads, FBI raids, jealous club owners' sabotage and finicky Miami partier's ever changing and demanding tastes for the best music and the best time. It is the crown jewel of Miami's reign as the dance and music capital of the world.

This blog is about what I like to call "Space-Face". The pictures that capture the intoxicated and blissfully high faces of pleasure. These pic's usually portray people giving peace signs, pursing their lips, squinting their eyes, being affectionate, exposing breasts, flirtatious behavior and above all, enjoying themselves.

What the 10 megapixel digital cameras don't show is the pain behind the eyes; the guy that just got fired from his job, the girl that has to work 3 jobs to send enough money to her country so her family can survive, or the gay guy partying to forget how unjust it is that Proposition 2 just passed in Florida just when he thought that hate would no longer affect him. When you're at Space or any other night club in Miami, it isn't the time to think or dwell on the struggles of life on Earth. It's time to celebrate being alive and healthy enough to get up and dance our asses off. When the cameras are aimed at us, we give our Miami version of a "Poker Face" our "Space-Face". The face that shows that all is well with the world at this moment in time, that we are rock stars and that we are sexy damnit!

This is Miami! We live here to live life to the fullest however hedonistic it may be. Call us superficial, unrealistic, unintelligent, we don't care because we are alive, right here, right now and this is the reality we have created for ourselves. For a moment in time, we are free and exempt from the rat-race.

"This is Miami" playing on Space's Patio at a Sunday morning party.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A mother's gay-straight alliance with her son

Today, more than ever I am proud to be the son of a mother who has joined me as a dedicated soldier in my fight for equality. Today, my mother; Doctora Isabel Gomez-Bassols asked me to speak on her national radio talk show on Univision radio to debate our points of view regarding whether or not celebrities should come out of the closet to aid in the gay civil rights battle in this country. After reading my blog about the topic I had explained to her that it is a social war and the most dangerous gays are the ones that are in the closet and that are so self-hating that they'll do anything in their power to undermine our struggle just to free themselves from being discovered as being gay themselves. The Catholic church is chock-full of self-hating gays preaching for others to not accept us. The government also has it's shar of self-hating, closeted gays (Senator Larry Craig, Mark Foley) pushing for laws denying any rights to my people. The same way whites in the north stood up to the false notions of racists in this country that discrimination because of color was unjust, my mother has utilized the platform of her show to help me in being vocal for gays in this country to finally win and end their struggle for full civil rights. One day, we will look back and laugh at all this bickering and manipulation by religious establishments. One day hopefully, religious institutions will be a thing of the past too. I envision a world without separate and divisive religious organizations, a world with one, unified belief system, without religious doctrine based on fear. All religions believe in god so why can't we just boil it down to one belief system that holds love amongst men unconditionally to be the highest form of spirituality? After all, isn't that the purpose of spirituality, to spread God, Mohammed's, Allah, whomever's message of love to all?

I guess being a son of such a powerful and intelligent woman rubs off on you in some way. I guess that's where I get the conviction to live out and proud and speak on her national radio show to defend the rights of gays in this country. She did a perfect job of raising me and for this I thank her and pay homage to her in this blog.

When I decided to tell my mother my most tragic and sad secret, it was motivated from my trying to live a more honest, truthful life. In the same way I felt it was disrespectful to be with a woman sexually and fantasize about being with a man, it was disrespectful and hurtful to have her believe the lie that I was straight, regardless of whether that lie was supported by her self-inflicted illusions or my actions to hide it. Her being a mom first and psychologist second trumped her education and her initial reaction was that it was a result of not having enough interaction or affection from my father. It was more a knee-jerk reaction to my announcement than an actual belief. In the end, she knew better.

When my farm raised, Cuban father found out, it hit him so hard that all he could do was ask himself where he went wrong. He was so focused on what he did wrong to cause this to happen to his secretly favorite son. The son that he thought would bring pride to his name, succeed where he went wrong and completely eat that piece of American Pie he came to this country for. I'll never forget how my sister told me of the night he broke down and fell to the floor crying after getting out of his truck on his way home from work. He kept rambling and crying uncontrollably, asking her "Where did I go wrong?, What did I do to make him this way? That night in a reversal of roles, she cried with our father and held him as if he was her son. He was a man that never cried not even at his father's own funeral. It wasn't his fault, nor my mother's. He did nothing to cause what I was and am today. I can confidently confess with every cell in my physical being and every bit of my soul that I was simply born that way. It is not a curable disease, it is simply another color in the human rainbow, another way to love. Not the destruction of humanity but rather a challenge to humanity for compassion and understanding among men, across cultural and national borders. Homosexuality has always and will always exist just as heterosexuality has in every country in the world. We will not go away or disappear into invisibility. We are humans, Americans, leaders, sons, daughters, citizens of this world with our only wish being to be left alone to live out our lives and learn our karmic lessons in this life along with the rest of the beings on this blue marble we call Earth. If you are a fellow warrior, now is the time to be vocal, to not be afraid to stand up in church, at dinner tables, parties, wherever hatred is espoused against fellow humans whom happen to be homosexual. It is time to call people out on their hatred wrapped in religious justifications. The year is 2009, it is time for us to get over this to move on to bigger and greater things like saving this Earth before we completely extinguish ourselves. That, my friends is the real threat to humanity. If my mother were Pope, that is what she would preach. Why is it again that women can't be pope?

Pope accused of stoking homophobia after he equates homosexuality to climate change:

Listen to the recording of my mother's show where we debate over closeted celebrities (in Spanish) 1/9/09