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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • April 14, 2006


    Normalcy or Queerness

    Some new acquisitions this week, none of which are available at Borders so my personal shopping day privilege will be in vain:

    Beyond the Closet, Steven Seidman
    The Trouble with Normal, Michael Warner
    Virtual Normal, Andrew Sullivan

    These are all additional readings to Professor Kenji Yoshino's Covering. Warner and Sullivan belong to two opposing camps that split the gays, technically speaking. Sullivan represents the group that calls for the embracing of politics of assimilation. His normalcy claim urges the gays to reject notions of sexuality as cultural subversion, because it will further alienate the majority of gay people who not only accept the natural origin of their sexual orientation, but wish to be integrated into society as it is.

    Warner vehemently reviles Sullivan's view-he believes the society should integrate into the gay culture. He argues that people who are defined by a variant set of norms (namely, straight norms), commit a kind of social suicide when they begin to gauge the worth of relationships, thoughts, and ways of life by the yardstock of normalcy. This radical emphasis on schism from mainstream (meaning straight norms) is conducive to queerness.

    I see myself in neither of the spheres. I don't flaunt my homosexuality but I don't mind holding hands or showing affection in the public. The men in speedos and women with bare breasts at Gay Pride are being criticized for propping up misconceptions that further undergirds inequality. I think it's another way of expressing, or flaunting their belief that they think it's equality. But I won't walk around naked simply not because I think it's a shame, but rather a personal condition. I believe in a level of commitment to autonomy: choosing the axes of which I wish to cover or to integrate. Gays should be given the freedom of coming out at the expense of their own time frame.


    Blogger Greg said...

    I read about Covering a short time ago and definitely want to pick up the book. I'm with you on the not fitting into either category. I am what I am.

    4/14/2006 3:52 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Greg, I strong recommend this book. I met Professor Yoshino at an informal setting and the conversation with him on growing up as Asian American makes me think of covering in a new light.

    What always plagues me is when people ask me where I come from. Lately I have experienced reverse-covering demand when I visit Asia. I tried not speak perfect English in Hong Kong just so I don't get pummeled for being arrogant. But in return, I fielded questions like, where do you come from?!? I was often mistaken as ABC or Japanese!

    I am what I am. Yoohoo!

    4/15/2006 7:12 AM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    Jeff said to me about two years ago that the Georgia Equality Campaign was approaching the marriage protection legislation wrong. For one, it was going to be passed by a landslide no matter what. Furthermore, they needed to change their angle to showing tha GLBT people are just like everyone else and are nothing to fear. Regardless of how different some gay people may feel, many of the things we desire are universal no matter who we love. Ironicaly, the Georgia Equality Project is now taking this approach.

    4/16/2006 10:48 PM  
    Anonymous learnedfriend said...

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for linking me to your blog. :)

    4/17/2006 9:28 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...


    I was reading about how women, especially married women who have had kids, they would limit their maternity leave to only 6 weeks in order to downplay their motherhood. There exists in the work atmosphere that women who have given birth to kids will be softened by pregnancy - that they will not work as hard when they return. So this kind of covering and reverse-covering bullshit prevail for women in a man-dominated sphere such as politics and work. Equality is something that can never be achieved. There will be demands to cover.

    My straight friends expect me to "do all the gay things" like going to dance parties with undertow of uninhibited sex, cruising bars, getting pedicures, dressing up like a barbie doll, and hitting the gym. Well...I hit the gym for health purpose but I certainly don't mind the second glance! :)

    4/17/2006 11:38 AM  
    Anonymous Al said...


    You provided the specific opinion I have unfortunately not heard for too long. The idea that personal deportment is by mandate fully autonomous in this country, and must be supported as such.

    While I have a hard time seeing progress stalled to any measureable degree because dykes on bikes drives through the parade, that is something I am willing to live with. Mandating people conform to rigid expectations of the dominant culture is plain and simple good ol' oppression in its original form.

    Excellent post and interesting blog.

    4/17/2006 9:41 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...


    Thanks for stopping by. I was reading a book about covering, reverse-covering and assimilation, which inspire me to babble about the subject. I feel we haven't heard noises about how social minority groups are being divested of their civil rights, or, to be more accurate, human rights.

    Many of the cases that are brought to courts reflect the fact that courts do make distinction between "being" and "doing". Discrimination against the disabled, the gays, the women are surely disfavored, but there exists a more subtle force that mandates people conform to rigid expectations of the dominant culture.

    4/18/2006 6:18 PM  

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