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Posts Tagged ‘bisexuality’

Speaking of Japan, the great gaijin has passed on to other realms:

 

Donald Richie, a prominent American critic and writer on Japan who helped introduce much of the English-speaking world to the golden age of Japanese cinema in 1959 and recounted his expatriate life there spanning seven decades, died on Tuesday in Tokyo. He was 88.

…Mr. Richie wrote prolifically, not just on film and culture in Japan but also on his own travels and experiences there. He won recognition for his soul-baring descriptions of a Westerner’s life in an impenetrable but permissive society that held him politely at arm’s length while allowing him to explore it nonetheless, from its classical arts to its seedy demimonde.

Openly bisexual, Mr. Richie also wrote frankly about his lovers, both male and female, saying Japan’s greater tolerance of homosexuality in the 1940s, relative to that in the United States, was one reason he returned to the country after graduating from Columbia University in 1953. Mr. Richie first saw Tokyo as a bombed-out ruin, arriving in 1947 as a 22-year-old typist with the Allied Occupation forces after serving on transport ships during the war. He spent most of the next 66 years in Tokyo, gaining a following among Western readers for textured descriptions of Japan and its people that transcended Western stereotypes.

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I’d never read the Single Dad Laughing blog until a Facebook friend shared this heartbreaking post. Given the leaps and bounds LGBT rights have taken in the last few decades, it’s easy to forget (at least if one lives in a progressive urban area) that coming out can still be so agonizing. I came out during my college years; not easy given homophobic parents, but they didn’t disown me and my friends were all very supportive. There was a campus gay group and I was in good company with others making the steps to discover and fully express the truth of who we were. Could’ve been so much worse. Flash forward 20 years and we have so many kids coming out in high school, so many people not even “coming out,” for that matter, just sleeping with whoever they want and not having to worry about the gender distinctions. I remember trading coming-out stories at a post-college party in Minneapolis (not for the first time); it was a bonding experience, a ritual sharing of our emotional wounds. I scored best one-line zingers, compliments my mother. “It’s like a dagger to my heart.” “If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn’t have had you.” I don’t think she really meant that last one, given her drama-queen tendencies and how she’s eased up since; she met and actually liked my last girlfriend. We hadn’t been close in years, so I didn’t suffer the bereavement that many of my friends experienced with their first wave of parental rejection, but still, it’s quite something to hear a parent willfully negate your existence.

Anyway, back to the blog at hand: I don’t have kids and I’ve never had straight friends and family make the kinds of outright homophobic comments to my face that Dan Pearce has. So while it’s hard to read his constant “Dear God, please don’t let me be anything other than straight” refrain, it’s understandable given his circumstances. All the more brave, then, his decision to stop living the lie and crack the closet door. I expect there are some homophobic comments amidst the 3443 responses to his post to date, but I was encouraged by the outpouring of support I found there. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could respond other than supportively to such a heartrending, vulnerable piece, but then again, I can’t fathom any of the hateful trolling comments that show up on the web every day. May we all be stronger and have more integrity than those whose humanity is so stunted.

 

Guidelines for acceptable sexuality have been drilled into me my entire life, and the mandate has always been clear. Being anything other than straight will never be tolerable, at least not with the vast majority of the people in my family and in my community.

That damned mandate.

The one that tells us we are to claim love, but we are to never actually love those who we have been told are unacceptably different.

…For twenty-one years, I have been paralyzed by the fear of what this society will do with me if they ever were to know of the thoughts that I continually push away. For more than two decades, I have made a choice to be straight. After all, it’s as easy as making a choice, isn’t it? This culture has made sure that I know that. Anyone who is anything other than straight was just someone deceived by the devil. He is unnatural. He is confused. He is mistaken. He is weak. He can control it if he desires to control it. Such a compelling and ongoing argument has been made that I have always trusted it.

Until now. Among other illusions broken, may Dan find that his fears of being forever defined primarily by his sexuality are unfounded. The universe is so much bigger than the prejudice of small minds.

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