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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 12, 2006

     

    Passing or Covering

    I was reading about how gays in the 1950s sought medical help to convert homosexuality to heterosexuality. Medicine was on the side of the gays to assimilate them into the society through conversion rather than banishing them through condemnation. But now in America, although homosexuality has been depathologized in 1973 among the DSM, homosexuality as a disease paradigm still exists together under the skin. It manifests as a kind of figurative disease, a disfavored condition, something that requires protection extended by the civil right laws. The classics example of such hypocritical double standard is the co-existence of no-promo-homo laws and laws that govern gay rights in some states. It simply conveys the underlying message that wavering children need to be protected from the contagion of homosexuality. It's okay to be gay, just don't flaunt it.

    While conversion demands are made most rampantly on sexual waverers (individuals who are unsure and ambiguous in their orientations), covering and passing are more common the gays. I never feel the need of conversion (to heterosexuality), which is the ultimate demand of assimilation that destroys true identity. But I do find myself covering, which subtly and deftly leaves the underlying identity relatively intact. Sometimes I compel to act straight and make the straight commands in order to gain acceptance. The continuous battle of micromanaging my gay identity surely takes a tool on my stress factor: thinking about who knows, who should know, who should not know and whom I think knows. Taking a step further, I decide to break out and make the commitment to authenticity. What bothers me is not that I have to engage in straight-acting behavior, but the felt need to mute my passion for gay subjects, people, and culture.

    Now this brings up another issue. If the commitment is to authenticity, then the same authenticity will be just as threatened as individuals are demanded of acting according to the stereotypes associated with their groups. It's sort of like an African American would be expected to order fried chicken at the diner. Or what's even worse, Asian people should dress like they are fresh off the boat. Historical norms shit. If you're gay, you're definitely cruising the bars, hooking up with a different guy, and acting effeminate. This is what mainstream does to our society. Gays will only be equal only when society stops conditioning the inclusion on assimilation to straight norms.

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