everything is never quite enough (mikeijames) wrote,
everything is never quite enough

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favors, visa applications, and the seven month itch.

well, at least, i can scratch this year's earlier trip to miami off as my worst time in miami ever: last friday, due to my zeal for international travel and my lack of due diligence before booking, i dragged my new someone and myself down to the consulate general of brazil in miami to apply for last, last, last minute visas before we jet off for rio in a month. well, the first part of our unplanned trip went as expected with the quick turn around from work on my part to feeding my new dog -- which happened, too -- and starting down united states highway seventy five down to miami. well, while i drove, the new someone didn't exhibit any signs of anxiety outside of the traffic in downtown miami but, before we got called to the counter, the transformation began. my new someone's face flushed red and ears glowed brighter than a stop light. i asked, "what's going on? are you okay? are you going to pass out?" and the new someone couldn't place a finger on just what inspired the sudden burst of worry. well, the time at the window went without incident -- although i cannot say the same for the twelve families that went before us as they got denied one after another for silly stupid reasons -- and we headed back in the car and home. well, i said i'd drive back through downtown miami toward home -- as we glassily looked toward that bridge winding toward south beach and sighing about the day we could've had on south beach -- and when we got out of the city and into an odd exurb called weston and settled into this faux-italian eatery for lunch. during this lunch, anxiety waxed to anger as my new someone tried to convince me to drive home despite my lack of sleep and during this conversation, my new someone pulled the money card -- "i've paid nearly $200 so far today" -- and i didn't argue because i felt my new someone itching for a fight and because i had intended it that way since (a) the last minute trip owed not only to my ignorance about the brazilian visa process, but because we booked a trip that we had settled on two months ago at the very last minute and (b) as a result of that last minute booking, not the decision to go there in the first place, the trip cost hundreds more than it would have so (c) i felt that we had equal parts in the endeavor so yeah but none of that played -- mainly because i only offered that i had spent twenty bucks on the return envelope -- and my new someone volunteered to drive home and that initiated our quarterly fight as i like to call it. almost to the day, we have had these relationship-ending nail-biting excruciatingly-silent fights. before i had understood their frequency and their repetitious rhythms and cadence, i attributed them to other things like the seven month itch or fading attraction that comes with the comfort of a relationship, but even after those things got ameliorated through even more fights, they kept happening. regularly. and right now, i find myself in the hurricane eye of one of those quarterly events as we haven't seen each other since the ten hour episode in the car last friday and have not spoken since the same.

as i find myself charged with recapping my life from september of last year through november, it's as good a time as any to discuss the nature of this recurrence. we had one of our falling outs right at the start of this year, but we had some of our biggest right during this time. in september, all went well relatively speaking. the month started with a great date night at cassis and ceviche that felt so perfectly right that i wish i would never have ended. the next week, i found myself in friendship and television heaven as i watched the democratic national convention through the lens of not only the major networks cameras but through the posts of my friend alex who got invited with one of the delegates from chicago. i'm not entirely sure what happened the next weekend as i have no financial or social media indicators to go off of and my only note on my makeshift calendar says "a4a" which i can only assume means the time i posed as a fake identity and lured my new someone into almost giving pictures, but i digress: the next weekend we had a similarly beautiful weekend date at ceviche but this time, after one too many vodka rocks, i pressured my new someone into sex and my new someone went home. the next weekend, i got brought into an intimate space by attending my new someone's talent show at work. i had a good time and my new someone performed in three different routines and afterward we went to late dinner with a bunch of my new someone's coworkers and that felt good especially since i spoke relatively good spanish with a domenican girl in preparation for barcelona. the next weekend, we went to orlando for halloween horror nights at universal. the first night, we stayed in a hotel near universal studios and after the horror of all of those haunted houses (and the drinks that accompanied them), we had a late dinner at friendly's where i passed out again. back at the hotel, i sort of carbbed out and had a minor breakdown although i have never felt stronger feelings for my new someone than in that moment of crisis. the next night, we went to hue downtown and stayed at the sheraton hotel downtown (which has become a favorite of ours) and had a great lowkey night although we didn't make it to pulse because i got tired (ironically, we have planned to go to pulse both times we've stayed at that hotel, but have never made it). the month of october started with my new someone dashing my hopes for a joint barcelona adventure by buying an expensive all-leather living room set of furniture. yeah. the rest of the month got spent mostly going to thriller practices -- as we participated in a multi-city flash mob looking to beat the world record. toward the end of that month, we started with halloween activities, spending the saturday of the twenty seventh doing the flash mob that morning -- informed by bloody marys at chacha coconuts which has closed along with the pier -- and then jetting over to the embassy suites in tampa to get ready for the all hallow's ball that night. well, we had a dramatic night there as i saw my old high school friend and crowd there but mostly i stuck with my new someone until an unfortunate moment where my new someone made out with this porcine something or other dressed in a kilt who my new someone knew through the internet. yeah. i started to walk out then and there after asking "is this what you want" and we went back to the hotel and drank more and made up more and then went back to the party which had started to die down and we got pictures and had vampire sex in the hotel. after we got back home, we reunited for halloween and went to my new someone's bar -- chick-a-boom room/blur -- and had fun at their halloween party though i remember almost none of that. that weekend went by without incident and we fast-forwarded to the heart concert held at the rib fest where i got bamboozled into volunteering for free ribs and food and to hang out with my new someone and coworkers again. the next weekend, things fell apart. we did another flash mob of thriller for some festival in vinoy park and then headed down to an art in the streets event. during that event, my new someone grabbed my back belt buckle which made me dash the hand away in embarrasment and we had a fight about that. my discomfort with public displays of anything outside of the bar/nightclub/etc environment and yeah. we had sushi at rollbotto and then had another fight about dust on my vases at home which resulted in my new someone not spending the night. although we made up the next day, we had another fight over thanksgiving. early that morning, i went over and we volunteered for the turkey trot in clearwater. i barely endured the severe winter cold and lack of sleep and then went to thanksgiving dinner with my family where discussion surrounding israeli defense policy oddly enough and then i went back over that night so that we could attend black friday shopping together. we did that -- and i made out like a bandit at banana republic -- and i thought everything good until the morning where we were preparing breakfast and i made a comment about a plastic tupperware dish being dirty which sent my new somoene into a frenzy given our earlier fight about the vase just the week before. i left. that saturday, my siater and i did mandarin hide and then cassis for dinner and caught up. i also got to see the movie "weekend" which changed my life (unlike "skyfall which was mostly just meh, but in a good way).

anyway, back to present. although i try to post more frequently despite myself, a lot has happened in the month since i posted. for starters, obviously, we booked the trip to brazil. further, i got a puppy pug two weekend ago. my sister moved into a new apartment and i'm pretty sure i'm going to have to get a new phone. i saw "man of steel" which could not hold a flame to x-men or star trek. on the night we booked, i treated my new someone to the ceviche in clearwater for a night of jazz and good food on our last night of freedom without my ownership of a dog. the week before hand, we had a relatively quiet weekend with brunch at the oxford exchange, an impromptu public blow job in a beef o brady's parking lot (yeah, out of the blue), and shopping at citrus mall where i bought a madras blazer that got play on that night's episode of mad men. also, we had a quickie hurricane pass through. the week before that, we drove up to orlando to trade out my david yurman bangle that had broken with a new one.

on a nearly unrelated note, months ago when i first sat down to review these months, i found myself moderately obsessed with old marilyn monroe movies and interested in the notion of the "seven year itch" which i believe for my class of folk happens at seven months. the film itself proved most unentertaining -- not nearly as much fun as "how to marry a millionaire" or "gentlemen prefer blondes" or even intellectually stimulating like "some like it hot" or "all about eve" -- but somehow the term stuck and people use it today even if they've never seen the film. similarly, recently i found myself obsessed again with mad men -- which used to reign as my favorite but now lulls behind downton abbey for drama -- because they have introduced a character named bob benson who fills the narrative purpose of sal romano but dovetails more tidily with the plot line of don draper. his quotation from the episode favors resonates in a way that's boldly modern, but nostalgic in that it doesn't find itself wrapped in the excess of sex that would come in the seventies and eighties.

Daily Couple's Horoscope for Wednesday, June 19

The writing's on the wall. You and your sweetheart can't ignore this matter any longer. It's not going to go away on its own, and the longer it lingers, the more of a problem it becomes. Address this now.

The Seven-Year Itch: Fact or Fiction?
Posted: 01/28/2013 1:45 am

We've all heard of the seven-year itch. Since a popular movie by the same name was released in 1955, the concept of the seven-year itch has been a widely accepted phenomenon. It is based on the belief that many couples start to get antsy and lose interest in their significant others around the seven-year mark.

There's no consensus among experts as to why the seven-year itch may occur. Perhaps it's a matter of timing: after seven years, some couples will have successfully raised one or two children through the trying infant years, only to realize that they don't really want to be together any longer. Or by the seven year mark, some couples may have spent enough time together that the relationship is no longer exciting and all of those pesky habits and traits that were tolerable through the first few years of the relationship are now like nails on a chalkboard (a.k.a. intolerable).

Other theories suggest that our bodies and minds develop and change every seven years. Austrian philosopher and teacher Rudolf Steiner created a theory of human development based on seven-year cycles that were associated with astrology. According to his theories, humans experience changes physically and mentally every seven years. It makes some sense that if we experience large changes in personal growth, experience, knowledge and goals every seven years, that these changes will make a marriage less stable and increase the probability of divorce.

But the seven-year itch is certainly not a proven phenomenon. Most experts have simply have agreed to disagree.

Four- & Seven-Year Itch?
A 1999 study undertaken by Dr. Larry A. Kurdek, a psychology professor from Wright State University demonstrated the validity of both a four- and seven-year itch. The study showed that "couples often began their unions with high levels of marital quality, but that it appeared to decrease twice: once rather steeply over the first four years and again after about seven". His study also showed that couples with children experienced a more rapid decline in the quality of their marriage.

Twelve-Year Itch?
In 2010, a study showed that "the majority of couples who divorce have now spent more than a decade together before going their separate ways". The study, which was conducted by the Grant Thornton accountancy group, utilized information from a survey of 90 law firms and concluded that marriages are most likely to fail after about twelve years.

Three-Year Itch?
Finally, a 2012 study done by parenting website Netmums seemingly refuted all of the previously established "facts." The study showed that couples with young children are "four and a half times more likely to split after three years than the traditional seven years". Of the 1,500 respondents, 42 percent said that having a child had driven them apart. Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums, also attributes this "itch" shift to the fact that more couples are getting married later in life, but earlier in their relationships. Women may be reacting to their ticking biological clocks and rushing into marriages and children, rather than spending more time dating and getting to know their spouses to be.

What does this mean for couples? Does the the divorce "itch" come at three, four, seven or twelve years?

In my opinion, the ever-changing conclusions indicate that there is no magic number. The studies do seem to agree that couples need to put in the extra effort every day in order to sustain happy marriages. If a couple doesn't prioritize their relationship, their marriage will fall by the wayside -- no matter how long they've been together.

Warhol Quadruple Marilyn Makes $38.2 M. at Phillips’s $78.6 M. Contemporary Sale
By Dan Duray 5/16 10:16pm


Phillips ended this week’s contemporary art auctions with a modest sale that took in $78.6 million, with no major records set. An Andy Warhol quadruple portrait of Marilyn Monroe against an orange backdrop led the evening’s lots by a good margin, selling for $38.2 million.

Apart from that, no other lot sold for above $4.09 million, the figure reached by a Cor-Ten steel Thomas Schütte sculpture and paintings by Christopher Wool (“AND IF YOU DONT LIKE IT YOU CAN GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE,” it reads), Jean-Michel Basquiat and Roy Lichtenstein. (All prices include buyer’s premium.) Seven of the 37 lots offered failed to find bidders, leading to a respectable 81 percent sell-through rate by lot. The night’s overall hammer total, $67.9 million, fell below the sans-premium pre-sale estimates, which ranged from $77.5 million to $105.5 million.

“For all the volume of the week, it was a very good result,” said Phillips CEO Michael McGinnis, referring to the three other major auctions this week, which included Leonardo DiCaprio’s at Christie’s on Monday. People seemed tired, and chatted amongst themselves despite the enthusiastic auctioneering of Alexander Gilkes.

Warhol’s Four Marilyns (1962) sold without many bids to a woman on a mobile phone not far from the front who sat with three others: another woman, Chrissie Erpf (an employee of Larry Gagosian who frequently accompanies him at auctions) and Mr. Gagosian himself. When the woman on the phone won the lot, Mr. Gagosian, who was seated next to Ms. Erpf at the end of the row, held her paddle aloft for her. As he left the room he told reporters, “She bought it! She bought it!” Mr. Gagosian is of course deeply involved in the Warhol market, and the painting in question was sold by his frequent business partner Alberto Mugrabi, with whom he owns many works of art.

A Nate Lowman bullet hole piece, extremely similar to one that set a new record for the artist at Sotheby’s Tuesday, sold for $545,000, around $100,000 less than the one at Sotheby’s. One surprise of the evening was that a figurative Philip Guston work from 1969 of a can of paintbrushes failed to find a buyer at $550,000, despite another Guston work (this one from his abstract period, from 1958) having set a new record for the artist last night at Christie’s record-breaking auction, going more than $10 million over its top estimate to sell for $25.9 million.

“I saw the condition report on that one, it was cracked,” said collector John Allen outside after the sale, referring to tonight’s Guston. “And the color’s all wrong. But a good painting besides that.”

Paula Cooper Gallery director Steve Henry bought a 2004 Franz West sculpture for a client at $461,000. Art consultant Eve Reid purchased a portfolio of 10 Warhol prints from 1967 featuring Marilyn for $2 million (an edition of 250 plus 26 APs) and a Jeff Koons cut-out for $521,000. After a good amount of bidding Leslie Rankow bought a Wayne Thiebaud cityscape from 1993 for $893,000.

On Park Avenue after the sale Mr. Henry said that Phillips had, in his opinion, made great efforts, and largely succeeded, in “getting better quality works.”

Mr. Allen, also outside, had a different take.

“Last night was exciting,” he said. “This was dull.”


JUNE 22, 2013
By Tim Blanks

Donatella Versace has quit smoking! Overnight! This epochal moment in fashion was the perfect lead-in to DV's latest collection for men, which celebrated the extreme discipline of athletes. It was also a sufficiently dramatic development to warrant a burst of Wagner's The Valkyrie as the fanfare to her show. ("I'm a drama queen," she said by superfluous way of warning.) And, as if to draw an uncrossable line in the sand between past and future, Donatella opened said show with seven outfits that represented her own Versace icons—the way we were—before unleashing her latest collection—the way we will be.

"You have become my obsession," the soundtrack insisted, an interesting admission in light of the designer's surprising revelation about her own addiction to sports. She claimed that the discipline athletes must exercise in pursuit of their goals was something she felt she could relate to at this point in her life. It was certainly an element in the urgency of the new collection, with suit sleeves shoved elbow-ward and trousers ending in an athletic ribbed cuff. More specifically, there was the sports tape that detailed, almost tattoolike, the bodies and clothes of the Versace models. And they themselves were the very emblems of discipline. You don't get thighs like that from sitting around the house watching Judge Judy.

Their attainment of the body beautiful actually gave Donatella's men the unfortunate mien of Thunderbirds puppets, even as it made them perfect clothes hangers for her silky tailoring and her knitwear, which featured an intriguing update of alt-Versace: a Warholian interpretation of the portraits taken by Bert Stern of Marilyn Monroe just before she died. First the cigarettes, now this—DV is gratifyingly full of surprises.

7/2/12 at 12:00 PM 3Comments
Why Did Channing Tatum Wear a Marilyn Monroe Costume in Magic Mike?

By Kyle Buchanan

In a film filled with outrageous costumes, one scene in Magic Mike still manages to stand out for its sheer non sequitur weirdness: when Channing Tatum shows up to Alex Pettyfer's apartment dressed like Marilyn Monroe. Why? "That to this day still puzzles me," admits the film's costume designer, Christopher Pearson. "That was an idea of Channing's, and I just said 'Okay.' It’s something to do with the red, white, and blue, and rah-rah America. I just thought if Channing wants to get into a white Marilyn dress, rock it out. I want to see that, too." Fair enough!
[Inside Movies/EW]

Goodbye and good riddance, Norma Jean
By RICHARD ROEPER rroeper@suntimes.com May 8, 2012 10:36PM

Marilyn Monroe statue 'Forever Marilyn' in pieces on Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue before being trucked to California, Tuesday, May 8, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.
Updated: June 11, 2012 9:21AM

It looked like the thing was in a noose.

The enormous and breathtakingly tacky statue of Marilyn Monroe was taken apart last Monday night, a heavy orange rope around Marilyn’s neck as she was separated into pieces.

Factor in the foggy conditions, and it was one of the more bizarre scenes on Michigan Avenue in recent memory.

It took crews about seven hours to make Marilyn go away, and for that we should only say: Thanks and good luck.

Proving once again that if you super-size, they will come, the 26-foot-tall, 34,000-pound statue of Monroe (frozen in her famous “Seven-Year Itch” pose and titled “Forever Marilyn”) was a popular tourist draw and a dominant visual eyesore from the moment it was plunked down in Pioneer Court last July.

Sculpted by the admittedly gifted Seward Johnson, “Forever Marilyn” looked like a blown-up version of something you’d find in the basement of a secondhand store in a third-tier tourist town.

And I noted when it debuted, there was something tone-deaf about the decision to place a sculpture by a New Jersey artist celebrating a New York movie in the heart of Chicago. It made no more sense than a 26-foot-tall statue of Ferris Bueller overlooking Times Square.

Little wonder VirtualTourist.com ranked “Forever Marilyn” as the worst piece of public art.

In the world.

Then there was the semi-creepy factor. In fact, let’s just forget the “semi” part.

From the get-go, fans thought it would be hilarious to pose for a photo between Marilyn’s legs, usually as they gazed up at Marilyn’s exposed panties. Sometimes men (and even women) would mimic some type of oral-pleasure gesture, or wrap themselves around one of the legs as if they were dogs in heat. And hardly a weekend would go by without a wedding party posing under the statue, pointing en masse as Marilyn’s crotch.


The dismembered “Forever Marilyn” will reportedly make a cross-country trek to Palm Springs, Calif., where it will be on display this August when the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death is observed.

Goodbye, Norma Jean. Thank the heavens you weren’t a permanent resident.


The Touching Moment New Zealand Legalized Gay Marriage: Parliament Breaks Into Love Song
by Andrew Kirell | 10:37 am, April 17th, 2013 VIDEO» 47 comments


On Wednesday, a uniquely touching moment happened just after New Zealand became the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage. Parliamentary lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill on its third and final reading. The resulting celebration was truly a sight to see.

Since 2005 the island country has allowed civil unions, but this new piece of legislation — taking effect in late August –will allow gay couples to adopt children for the first time and will allow their marriages to be officially recognized in other countries.

After the results were announced, members of the gallery and the lawmakers cheered and applauded, with some exchanging flowers. But perhaps the most touching moment of the entire celebration was when the gallery and many lawmakers spontaneously broke into a traditional New Zealand love song called “Pōkarekare Ana.”

The song, written in 1914 in the indigenous Maori language, has served as the nation’s “unofficial” anthem for decades. It wistfully describes a lost love and the desire for her return, with references to the country’s beautiful landscape.

Following the song’s conclusion, the house applauded for a good minute or two before the speaker called order.


Gay man flees to NZ under threat of execution
By Jacqui Stanford
5:30 AM Sunday Jul 1, 2012 ✩Save

Steven Kasiko fled to New Zealand after he was one of 100 men a Ugandan newspaper outed as "homos" - with a tagline that exhorted, "hang them". Jacqui Stanford of GayNZ.com discovers his battle to be accepted as a refugee.

Many young men and women struggle to explain their sexual orientation to their parents. But when Steven Kasiko's father tried to make him marry a woman, the young man had to be more circumspect than most.

"I told him I had different interests I wanted to pursue," he recalls hollowly.

His father was unimpressed. He cast his son out of his family.

Growing up in Uganda was a frightening experience for the teenage Kasiko, and it was the daily possibility of persecution by the authorities that gave him strength to refuse when his dad tried to make him marry.

Nothing, though, could prepare him for the front page of one of his nation's leading newspapers, on October 19, 2010. "100 PICTURES OF UGANDA'S TOP HOMOS LEAK," it shouted.

"Hang Them."

With the publication of his name, address and picture in the newspaper, Kasiko knew he could no longer safely remain in the country where he was born and grew up.

Threats against his life poured in, he couldn't go to work and so, exposed and fearing for his safety, the 41-year-old packed his belongings. Heavy-hearted, he left his boyfriend, job and friends behind and headed for the other side of the globe.

* * *

The landlocked African nation of Uganda, among the world's poorest countries, is fiercely Christian. It's a country that couldn't be more different from New Zealand when it comes to acceptance. Here, our smiling gay and lesbian celebrities are splashed gloriously in pages of newspapers and magazines, showing off their partners, kids, proud mums, pets, new kitchens.

In Uganda, gay men and women trying to get on with their lives are ripped from the safety of their anonymity and thrust on to front pages, named and "shamed", accused of raiding schools and recruiting kids.

A British colony from the late-19th century until 1962, Uganda still has a colonial hangover in the form of its laws and attitudes.

Western countries such as New Zealand have been through Homosexual Law Reform, brought in anti-discrimination laws and civil unions, but homosexual acts between men remain illegal in Uganda. Lesbian sexual activity was also criminalised in 2000.

Outside what they do in the bedroom, gay men and lesbians constantly face discrimination and harassment from the very people who are supposed to endorse fairness: the media, police and teachers, according to a 2007 Amnesty International report.

Rolling Stone (no relation to the music magazine) outed Kasiko and 99 others, inciting readers to "hang them". Gay rights activists claim many of those targeted have been attacked since the publication of their names.

One of the most high profile, David Kato, was bashed to death with a hammer. A number of other gay men and lesbians named are simply missing, presumed murdered.

The nation's Parliament has also tried to introduce a piece of legislation known as the "Kill the Gays Bill", which would bring in the death penalty for people who have previous convictions or are HIV-positive and engage in same-sex sexual acts.

It even has provisions for Ugandans who have same-sex relations outside the country to be extradited back to Uganda for punishment, and penalties for anyone who supports or even "knows of" gay people.

The bill has been shelved in the face of international condemnation, but it exemplifies the type of hatred Kasiko faced when he was outed by Rolling Stone. He began to receive threatening phone calls and so much unbearable attention that even just going to work became hard.

"It's so scary," he says of being a known gay man living in Uganda. "People all the time are after you.

"Once they realise you are 'one of them' the people are after you and, in your family, no one wants to talk to you at all."

He felt he had no choice but to leave and New Zealand seemed like a safe haven. He has since found out his boyfriend has been arrested, despite the fact he was not named in Rolling Stone.

"I don't know what's happened with him," he says softly. "They arrested him and now we don't know where he is. And even his family members are not interested in knowing.

"So scary, what has happened with him," he says, mumbling, barely audible. "And sometimes it is hard to believe because the way the [Ugandan] politicians talk, it's as if nothing is happening."

* * *

The decision on Kasiko's future in New Zealand is in the hands of the authorities, and Kasiko refrains from commenting on that process. There is precedent for granting refugee status on grounds of homophobic persecution. A handful of gay men from Iran, which has the death penalty for gay acts, have been granted refugee status in New Zealand.

Gary Poole is chief executive of Refugees as Survivors NZ, which helps run the National Refugee Resettlement Centre at Mangere.

He says refugees must demonstrate a "well-founded fear" of persecution in their home country. This can extend beyond race, religion and politics to personal characteristics such as sexual orientation.

His organisation's mental health workers and clinicians have worked with gay people who have claimed asylum under the United Nations' Refugee Convention, most of them Iranian.

"The regime in Iran is extreme in its intolerance and their persecution of gay people in particular, and torture and execution have been documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty," he says. "RASNZ clinicians have helped a few gay people who have been torture survivors from Iran, and from countries in Africa. Some of the most terrible cases of torture from African countries have involved attempts to 'exorcise' or 'rehabilitate' gay people."

Though Poole thinks cases like Kasiko's should be straightforward, it must be noted that the Refugee Status Branch of the Department of Labour rejected the most recent such application from an Egyptian man.

That man, a supporter of former president Hosni Mubarak, had been outed as gay and ostracised. His former boyfriend was beaten by his parents when they discovered he was gay, and the man feared he would be arrested and killed in prison.

The department's decision was overturned in April by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, which judged the man was at risk of arrest and persecution if he were sent home.

"His homosexuality now being discovered, there is a real chance of the appellant being arrested and beaten, tortured or otherwise mistreated during detention," the Tribunal ruled.

The danger to gay people in Uganda is, if anything, more extreme still.

Here, in New Zealand, Kasiko is making friends and picking up what casual work he can. He has even visited a gay bar. But it is always under the shadow of what may happen to him if he is sent home to Uganda.

Kasiko had one of the most amazing experiences of his life this year, when he attended February's Big Gay Out, an annual event at an Auckland park for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

"I couldn't believe it," Kasiko says. "It was my first time seeing something like this in my life, because it couldn't happen in Uganda."

He has little hope his nation's "Kill the Gays" Bill will remain shelved for long, nor that much will change.

"The mindset in Uganda, for most of the people, is hatred," he says. "That is one thing that is hard to do, to change the mindset of the people so people can live freely."

He fears for his partner but remains full of hope he can be found and will one day be able to join him here, enjoying a life in which he has "no limits".

He dreams out loud: "To be able to walk free with my partner and give him a hug and people won't look at you a different way."

And he laughs happily at the thought.

- Herald on Sunday


Op-ed: Uruguay is A Little Country With Big Ideas
Uruguay may be tiny, but it has grand ideas of inclusion, family, and success.

My native Uruguay is a little bitty country, but sometimes it reaches out with the arms of a giant to embrace equality and justice.

Uruguay became the 12th country to legalize marriage for same-sex couples on Wednesday, and for my Uruguayan immigrant family and myself it was an incredibly exciting and affirming moment.

I could not be more proud of the government and of the advocates who have been pushing for this for so many years, and who are among the many individuals of all socioeconomic groups and faiths and professionals supporting their country’s quest to make bold moves on behalf of big ideas.

Ideals, values, principles—these are so important for all societies. They guide us the way stars guide sailors, keeping us on the right path. Ideals also lead to actions, such as passing laws that have a big impact on people’s lives.

Legalizing marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples is an important step towards full equality and justice for all. For people who are not gay or bisexual, it can sometimes be challenging to understand the importance of marriage equality. For those of us in the LGBT community, who have often spent years being treated like outsiders within our own countries, communities and even families, it’s a huge change.

Acceptance and support make people thrive and be their best selves. Hiding who you are, repressing your sexuality and trying to be something you’re not, those are painful ways to live. Nothing good, for the individual or the society, can come from forcing people to live that way.

Marriage is also important because it’s the basis of so many families. My family—starting with my parents who have been together for 49 years—has been an incredible source of love and inspiration—as is the case for many Latinos in this country and in others. My parents, sister and I came to the U.S., and learned the language and culture together and were a tight little unit. The fact that one of us—me—has a different orientation has not been a barrier and for that I feel incredibly thankful.

When any society embraces all of its citizens, that creates a much stronger foundation for life and prosperity, both material and emotional. Sadly, in many countries some groups—often funded by anti-gay U.S. organizations—are twisting religious principles and ideals to justify jailing and killing gay people.

I was so blessed to have been born in a little country with big aspirations, and then to have moved to the United States, another country that embraces ambitious and beautiful ideals. My second country is, of course, much bigger, with millions more people and tremendous diversity, which it still fails to fully embrace and protect. But progress is happening here too.

Myself and so many advocates in the U.S. look forward this summer to decisions by the Supreme Court that hopefully will once again affirm the American (both North and South) values of equality and justice for all.

MONICA TRASANDES is the director of Spanish-language media at GLAAD. She is also a writer and her novel Broken Like This was published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press in Nov. 2012.

Note: The op-ed previously stated that the square mileage of Uruguay was comparable to that of Rhode Island. At 68,037 square miles, it is closer to the square mileage of Missouri or Florida.


Gay Danish couples win right to marry in church
Homosexual couples in Denmark have won the right to get married in any church they choose, even though nearly one third of the country's priests have said they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies.

Denmark has been a pioneer in gay rights since 1989, when it became the first country in the world to offer civil unions for gay couples Photo: ALAMY
By Richard Orange in Denmark5:06PM BST 07 Jun 2012

The country's parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.
Denmark's church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote "historic".

"I think it's very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it's only heterosexual couples."

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

The far-Right Danish People's Party mounted a strong campaign against the new law, which nonetheless passed with the support of 85 of the country's 111 MPs.

"Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can't change something as fundamental," the party's church spokesperson Christian Langballe said during the debate. "Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman."

Karsten Nissen, the Bishop of Viborg, who is refusing to carry out the ceremonies, has warned that the new law risks "splitting the church".

"The debate has been really tough," said Mr Sareen, an agnostic who has pushed hard for the legislation since taking his post last autumn.

"The minority among Danish people, politicians and priests who are against, they've really shouted out loud throughout the process."

The first gay marriages will take place as soon as June 15. This contrasts with neighbouring Norway, where bishops are still debating the correct 'ritual' for the ceremonies, four years after a 2008 parliamentary vote in favour of gay marriage.
Stig Elling, a travel industry millionaire and former Right-wing politician, said he planned to marry his partner of 28 years next week.

"We have felt a little like we were living in the Middle Ages," he told Denmark's TV2 station.

"I think it is positive that there is now a majority for it, and that there are so many priests and bishops who are in favour of it, and that the Danish population supports up about it. We have moved forward. It's 2012."

Denmark has been a pioneer in gay rights since 1989, when it became the first country in the world to offer civil unions for gay couples.


Gay Boston native Rufus Gifford nominated for U.S. Ambassador to Denmark
Posted by David Zimmerman June 17, 2013 11:17 AM

The White House announced the nominations of James Costos, an accomplished businessman and current executive at HBO, as the United States Ambassador to Spain, and Rufus Gifford, a former finance official for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Obama for America, and the Democratic National Committee, as the United States Ambassador to Denmark. Last week, President Obama also nominated Daniel Baer, the openly-gay Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to be Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. If all three are confirmed, they would become the fourth, fifth, and sixth openly-LGBT people to serve as a U.S. Ambassador. Spain and Denmark are two of the 13 countries in the world that have marriage equality. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin issued the following statements:

“Ambassador-designate James Costos is a true citizen of the world. He has incredible global business experience and is a respected and innovative leader. He has solid business and political relationships at the highest levels and a proven commitment to community, philanthropy, human rights, and democracy that make him an outstanding choice to be the nation's next Ambassador to Spain.”

“Rufus Gifford is a terrific choice to represent our country in Denmark. His demonstrated leadership and unwavering commitment to democracy and human rights will serve him well as he represents America’s interests abroad. I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination.”

Gifford also has strong ties to the Boston area as his parents, Chad and Anne Gifford, live on the North Shore. Gifford was also honored recently by Greater Boston PFLAG for his work on behalf of the LGBT community.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.


Mad Style: Favors

We were thrilled when people started responding to these Mad Style posts. When it comes to TV reviewing, if you don’t establish a strong voice and a decent hook to your work, you’re going to get lost in the crowd; especially when the crowd is as large as the one recapping and reviewing Mad Men. We’ve always felt like, with these posts, we were jumping into the conversation and offering the fashion and critical analysis that could only come when two gay men, one with a fashion background and one with a film degree, get together to talk about the show on their predominantly fashion-oriented site.

We’re telling you this because with this week’s episode, we’re feeling a call to arms to be the big ol’ mouthy gays that we are; a call to help give a little inside perspective on the question that seems to be plaguing all of mankind this week.

Just what the hell is going on with that Bob Benson guy?

(Note to the newbies: “Mad Style” is normally a look at the costuming and art direction of the show, and this post will get into that after the long Bob Benson diversion. If you got sent here to read the Bob part, don’t be confused when we switch modes and suddenly start talking about dress colors.)

After almost an entire season of popping up in the background or suddenly showing up to offer help to various members of the SC&P family, Bob disappointed a whole bunch of people who were hoping he was any of a number of wild things, from Don’s illegitimate son to an actual government spy, by revealing the mundane truth of himself: he’s gay and he’s hot for Pete Campbell.

Or is he?

Well… yes, actually. We look around at many of our fellow reviewers and recappers, as well as the online fans, many of whom are still asking this week if Bob Benson is really gay, and it seems to us that a whole lot of people – possibly most of the ones who watch the show – are kind of missing the point. Despite one of the most open declarations of love and desire ever depicted in the entire 6 seasons of the show, people are theorizing that Bob is anything from a sociopath to someone who’s just putting Pete on, pretending to hit on him in order to further some scheme.

To all that we would like to say this:

In 1968, homosexuality was a recognized mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. A gay man in 1968 could not only be fired, he could be jailed, institutionalized, subjected to electro-shock therapy and even chemically castrated. The idea that any man in 1968 would pretend to be gay is akin to the idea of someone pretending to be a Jew in latter Weimar Germany. It just doesn’t scan. The stakes are entirely too high for anyone to fool around with that sort of stuff. It is virtually impossible to conceive of any sane straight person doing such a thing. It’s like pretending to be a pedophile for ulterior motives, in today’s terms. That’s how it would have been seen at the time. Some men tried it to get out of serving in Vietnam, but even then, it wasn’t a common tactic, even with stakes that high. No, as shocking and hard to accept as it may have been, Bob Benson really was hitting on Pete Campbell, and now we’re going to tell you why.

Since there has been an insane amount of wild speculation regarding Bob, we decided to sit down and watch every scene he appeared in, taking notes as to where he was, who he spoke to, and what he said. If anyone wants citations, we can provide them in the comments section.

Here is what we know about Bob Benson: He went to Beloit and then got his MBA from Wharton. He worked in finance for a year, he hated it, and his family has worked for the same financial company for three generations (since this is all so easily checked by the people he told it to – Don and Pete – we’re going on the safe assumption that it’s accurate). He talks about sports or uses sports metaphors frequently. He listens to self-help, power-of-positive-thinking, Dale Carnegie-esque salesman porn and espouses the expected self-help platitudes left and right about being in the right place and being the kind of man he knows he can be. In typical Carnegie style, he goes out of his way to be available and helpful to all people, all the time. He makes a habit of handing out coffee to co-workers; Pete most often. He sent a deli tray to Roger’s mother’s funeral and when Ken reprimanded him for it, he claimed that “It seemed the right thing to do.” He secures a nurse for Pete’s mother. He rescues Joan in the middle of a health crisis and tells her he has “nowhere to go.” He hangs around the creative area frequently, claiming that he loves it down there. We know that he has a fairly good relationship with Stan and a very good one with Ginsberg, to the point that he was the only one able to talk Ginsberg down from whatever mental health crisis he was having.

He hangs around outside Pete’s office frequently. When questioned on it, he claims he loves the light. When we actually see his office, it’s tiny, dark and windowless, which tends to back up his excuse. He visits a whorehouse with Pete and stands outside in the hallway while Pete gets his rocks off. When the prostitute comes out, he offers to pay for Pete. There is no indication he had sex with any of the prostitutes. It’s implied he waited there the whole time. He has happily gone to the store to get Pete toilet paper. He brings Pete up in conversation frequently (“Doesn’t Pete Campbell have a beach house?”) and claims to be very interested in his well-being (“He’s a very generous person and I think he’s going through a rough time.”). He constantly flatters Pete and speaks highly of him. He stays at the office later than most of the employees. He is friendly with a gay man and wasn’t shy about admitting it in the office. He claims that this gay man just nursed his father back to health but he earlier told Ken that his father died. He has developed what looks like a fairly close platonic relationship with Joan (a woman not prone to close platonic relationships); to the point that he jokes about her mother being at the track and thinks nothing of offering to handle Kevin for her. When Joan’s mother tried to suggest a romantic relationship, Joan said knowingly, “He’s not interested.” Joan figured out Sal was gay just by playfully kissing him once. Joan absolutely knows when a man is or isn’t interested in her and she is highly unlikely to admit to her mother that a viable man isn’t interested in her. She once got testy and competitive with her mother over a plumber she admitted she found disgusting – and this was just a couple weeks post-partum.

Here is what we surmise about Bob Benson, based on the above: He’s an upper-middle class over-achiever from a family of them but he’s more than likely estranged from them because he’s gay, which partially explains why he doesn’t work for the family firm and also explains why he can be so flexible about whether his father is alive or not. Like a lot of gay men, he is fascinated by people who work in a creative field, even if he’s not creative himself. Like a lot of well-closeted gay men, he is a smooth liar from years of experience; very good at fooling the eye with distractions and cover stories. But because he’s constantly spinning tales he can’t always keep track of them and a close observer can occasionally pick up inconsistencies. Like a lot of over-achieving well-closeted gay men, Bob is operating under “Best Little Boy in the World” syndrome, a term which comes from the seminal coming-out autobiography of the same name, published in 1973, and so well describes a certain type of middle-to-upper-class gay man that it’s considered an honest-to-god measurable syndrome today.

Basically, it comes down to this: there is a certain strain of gay men who have an overwhelming urge to be over-achievers in all areas of their lives. In school, they are A-students and members of every club and organization that will have them. They are athletic, scholarly, friendly, and helpful to everyone around them, constantly seeking excellence and popularity in order to deflect any questions as to why they don’t date. They are always extremely clean-cut, if not downright conservative in appearance. They quite often stay in school to get advanced degrees because the atmosphere allows them to continue to put off any questions about their personal lives or plans outside their education or careers. After school, they throw themselves into their careers with the same fervency. If a gay man is both a Best Little Boy and estranged from his family, he is more than likely an extremely lonely person; possibly even someone who’s bad at reading personal cues and engaging in emotional intimacy. These types of gay men still exist, but there were far more of them back in the days when staying in the closet was less of a personal choice and more of a necessity.

But Bob’s life doesn’t necessarily have to be one completely without companionship or sex. New York City was (and in many ways still is) one of the best places to be in the country for young gay men with no family ties. There was a burgeoning gay social scene at this time. There almost always had been one in New York City, but in the years following the war, the numbers of detached men and women who migrated to the city and joined what would later come to be called the “gay community” expanded tremendously. This is largely why the Stonewall Riots of 1969 happened when they did; because the gay community finally had the numbers and the communally-fed anger needed to do something about the institutionalized harassment they were receiving from the police.

By the way, the Stonewall Riots will be happening practically in Joan’s backyard. Having lived in the Village the entire decade of the sixties, Joan has probably come across more gay people in her day-to-day life than anyone else in the Mad Men story. It makes perfect sense that she would befriend a good-looking young gay man who works with her.

Anyway, we made a point in our initial review of this episode that Bob comes across “culturally gay,” which is to say, he’s closeted in work and in many areas of his life, but he likely has some form of gay social life, given that he knows Manolo well enough to recommend him for jobs. If you’d like some sense of what this gay social scene was like and how someone like Bob Benson would have fit into it, we highly recommend seeing the film version of “The Boys in the Band.” The play opened off-Broadway in April of 1968 and offers a near-perfect snapshot of bitchy, self-loathing, pre-Stonewall middle-class Manhattan gay male socializing. The entire film is available on YouTube. It’s quite the artifact. We would also highly recommend Edmund White’s “A Boy’s Own Story” and “The Beautiful Room is Empty” for an extremely detailed and well-drawn depiction of white gay male life in NYC prior to and around this period.

The idea that Bob might be socializing and having some form of gay life, however limited that may be by today’s standards, sets him drastically apart from the show’s other notable gay male character, Sal Romano, who was such a deeply entrenched good Italian Catholic boy that he was living with his mother and apparently a virgin (he ran like hell from that Belle Jolie guy like he was on fire) well into his middle age. We think it’s safe to say that Sal had no gay friends and had never set foot in a gay bar in his life.

This doesn’t seem to be referred to much anymore, but back in the Sal Romano days, you frequently heard reviewers and recappers talk about how obviously gay he was and how hard it was sometimes to believe that no one around him ever suspected. For our parts, we weren’t particularly happy with the famous scene where his wife Kitty figured it out, arguing that no man who had been as deeply closeted as Sal would ever start camping it up in front of his wife like that so freely and un-self-consciously. He is a very fondly remembered character but the one consistent criticism leveled at him was that they may have oversold the gayness in his mannerisms and speech a bit too much. However, since this was a period where men like Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde and even Liberace could get millions of people to not question their heterosexuality (although plenty of people did), we don’t think it was completely out of the realm of possibility. Anyway, our point is, looking over the whole Bob Benson storyline, we get the distinct impression that he was designed to correct that “mistake.” He was deliberately designed to throw the viewer off and not immediately get them to guess that he was gay, in total opposition to Sal, who loudly signaled his gayness to the 21st Century audience the first time he opened his mouth.

Bob also serves to allow the show to continue its examination of the changing status of gays, much in the same way Dawn replaced Carla, the Drapers’ maid in Ossining, who was the primary African-American character on the show for the first three years. This change in character illustrated the ways in which African-American visibility and interactions with middle-class whites changed; as they moved from the servant class to the professional class. Many fans of the show have clamored for Sal’s return but we have never been among them. Sal’s story, such as it is, is done. The likelihood of a man of his generation leaving his wife and coming out of the closet in middle age is almost nil. If Mad Men truly wanted to examine the changing status of gays, even if it’s done in a very limited way (as with Dawn) then they were going to have to introduce a new, younger gay character to the cast. For a time, Peggy’s friend Joyce seemed to be the likely candidate to fill the role (and a likely candidate to actually be at a place like the Stonewall in 1969), but she was limited as a character in a lot of ways and can’t provide the stark contrast that someone like Bob can. And cute gay Kurt, who gave Peggy her first makeover, was a casualty of the SC crackup and never seen again.

As for why Bob would ever fall for, or be attracted to Pete, we don’t even think it rates a question. A succession of very attractive women of varying degrees of intelligence and sanity have gotten it on with Pete; from Trudy to Peggy to Beth Dawes, to that model he followed home, to that crazy neighbor lady who broke up his marriage. In fact, if you want to be a little crude about it, Pete’s probably the Number 3 swordsman on the show, behind Don and Roger. He hasn’t done badly for himself at all and he’s not nearly as unattractive to certain people in the story as he is to us, the viewers. Bob doesn’t know all the various ways in which Pete has been an utter shit the last 6 seasons, from raping that nanny to shitting all over Peggy’s self-esteem, to petulantly blowing up his marriage because he was mad at his Father-in-law. To Bob Benson, Pete is a fussy, droll, highly emotional, well-dressed, slightly effete, old-money WASP who left his wife, frets over his mother, and just recently started smoking pot. It’s the Niles Crane effect. Combine that with his being a junior partner at the agency, and he becomes irresistible to a go-getting guy like Bob. Making his move now – even after hearing him use the word “degenerate” – made a certain amount of sense to him, even if it didn’t to the audience.

And as to the question of whether a closeted gay man would do what Bob did, risking what he’s risking, we’d just answer with: they did. Gay men did, in fact, do this sort of thing and do, in fact, still do this sort of thing; risking the closet based on very deep infatuations (or even dangerous obsessions) or just an obsessively close reading of another man to see if he’s sending out signals. It was insanely risky on his part, but you can read the stories of countless men in Bob’s generation who fell in love with bosses or dorm roommates or teachers and eventually either made a successful move or made a fool of themselves – or worse. It looks and sounds crazy to us in this day and age, but like we said, Bob is almost certainly extremely stunted emotionally and very bad at intimacy. He’s all surface because he’s spent his entire life being all surface in order to deflect questions.

In addition, you have to remember that culturally gay people at this time had virtually no way of picking up on normal romantic and sexual cues. It was actually illegal for gay people to socialize with each other, which is at least partially why so many gay male assignations at the time happened in back alleys and tea rooms and why complicated signaling like Polari and the hanky code were used to communicate everything from sexual position and act preferences to basic gay social concepts (“butch,” “drag,” and “queen” are all Polari slang). Having never really been taught how to read whether a man is interested in them, many gay men of this period suffered serious crushes on the straight men around them and totally misunderstood any forms of friendliness or affection as sexual attraction. Also: while the camera lingered on their knees in this scene, such moves were in fact very common among gay men in order to non-verbally signal to each other that they were like-minded (like toe-tapping in tea rooms). They worked and were devised because it was something that was quite easy to deflect or ignore if signals got misread. People bump their knees all the time, right? No big deal. Pete obviously picked up on it, but it never quite goes so far that he needs to leap out of his seat in disgust. This move was very much part of the gay male playbook of the day, which was almost entirely about trying to figure out just who the hell around you was also gay and reaching out to them in a way that didn’t get you killed or arrested.

There is some question as to whether or not Pete reacted with as much repugnance as one might have assumed, which is notable since his mother tells him outright that he’s unlovable and here’s this person he likes and relies on declaring their love for him. We’ve delved enough into the personal politics of this scene. We’ll leave it to others to theorize as to whether Pete might be open to the idea of something less heterosexual in his life.

There. That’s what we see when we look at the story of Bob Benson, knowing what we know about gay men of this period. He’s not a sociopath or even a schemer of any great note. He’s an obsessively go-getting, emotionally damaged gay Golden Boy type who has lousy taste in men and is so bad at social cues that he’ll declare his love for someone who’s currently worrying that his mother has been raped. This doesn’t preclude Bob from doing something nefarious down the line in the story, nor does it totally negate the idea that he’s bisexual or not entirely gay (which is how Matthew Weiner coyly put it - “not gay, necessarily” – in the “Inside Mad Men” video this week, but he has a history of being not entirely trustworthy when talking about ongoing storylines).

We tend to believe that he’s gay, though; because bisexual men in 1968 were for the most part not hanging around in gay bars or socializing with gay men in that way. Again: the stakes were too high for anyone who had options outside gay life at this time. If anything, bisexual men were even more furtive about their same-sex attractions than gay men were. The only non-gay people who surfaced in the scene at this time were motherly fag hags (of which Joan, by the way, would make a near perfect example). Anyway, we don’t predict where the story of Bob is going, but we’re fairly sure we’re close to knowing what his story has been so far. If you have the episodes DVR’d, we recommend fast-forwarding through everything and watching just the Bob Benson scenes, one right after another. It all becomes a lot clearer and a whole lot less ominous than many theories would have you believe. He’s been infatuated with Pete all season.

"Couldn’t it be that if someone took care of you, very good care of you, if this person would do anything for you, if your well-being was his only thought, is it impossible that you might begin to feel something for him? When it’s true love, it doesn’t matter who it is?" -- Bob Benson, Mad Men, Season Six, Episode Eleven, "Favors."
Tags: decadence, just me, marriage, movies, new someone, obsessions, the stars, travels, war games
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