Monthly Archives: January 2008

Gay guys with girlfriends: Wha’ the-?

This weekend I accompanied a friend to a birthday party here in San Francisco.

Said party was being held at a bar, that, based on the clientele, seemed to be chiefly a lesbian hangout. Being a non-drinking heterosexual male, hanging out at a lesbian bar is very refreshing- there is nothing going on in that establishment that requires any form of action from me. Having nothing to prove, it was a pretty fun evening.

But I noticed something peculiar.

My friend and I were chatting with one of the guys there, a very nice gay boy. He mentioned something in passing about his ex-girlfriend, which I figured was just a figure of speech. Then he introduced us to his current girlfriend and proceeded to hold her hand and put his arm around her and do other things that one might do with one’s girlfriend. She was, among other things, a girl. Like born biologically, currently gender identified, socially signified, unambiguous, straight-up girl. Who was the girlfriend. Of a gay guy.

Now, let’s be clear: I’ve lived in San Francisco for over eight years now, frequently had gay roommates throughout my life, have a social circle that is about fifty percent same-sex oriented and worked for three and a half years in a company that served the gay and lesbian market. I know a gay boy when I see one- I still occasionally do false negatives but I almost never do a false positive.

This was not the guy in college who has a girlfriend because he doesn’t know he’s gay yet. This was not the closeted gay or bi guy who’s with a woman but secretly fools around with men on the side. This was not an FTM who’s dating a lesbian. Or any other ambiguous phenotypes you might name. This was, in speech, mannerisms, facial hair arrangement, dress, and any other signifier you can think to name a straight out of the Castro San Francisco gay boy. And his girlfriend.

But that’s not all. At the counter there was another blazingly apparent gay guy locked in several forms of steamy embrace with a curvy, non-draggy, non-tranny, non-MTF woman. Scattered around the room there seemed to be a few other examples.

Have I missed something? Is there a new trend? Was there an article in the New York Times about it recently that I just glossed over?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some considerable appeal to the idea of living in a polyamorous garden of delight where anybody could be going out with anybody else, regardless of gender or orientation, at any time. It does change the competitive landscape in potentially troubling ways, though. I’m not sure I can dress as well as, be as funny as, or be in obsessively as good shape as, your average gay boy. No fair re-setting the bar that high!
Maybe it’s time for me to get a Queer Eye makeover after all…

Dating

Among the various things I did this weekend, I met a photographer to get some pictures taken.

It’s handy to have a photographer on board, since I often end up feeling like I come out looking like a Muppet in photos despite not looking entirely like a Muppet in real life. Professional help obviously is called for. It’s also handy to have some pictures for promotional purposes, since one of my goals for the New Year is to put my creativity out in public more, and some good stills to go with online publications couldn’t hurt. That was sort of an afterthought, though.

The main reason I wanted to get some pictures taken was to follow through on one of my other intentions for the New Year: to get back into the world of dating and relationships again after a break of nearly two years.

To be precise, after a nine-month relationship ended in December 2005, I briefly did what I have usually done, which is to get right back out there again. Only to find that I was still acting out my own insecurities by choosing people with whom things were certain to not work. I realized it was time to stop, withdraw, and focus on myself until I could come back to it from a different place, because if I didn’t change, then the things that were happening wouldn’t change either.

So I began this formal process of withdrawal in February 2006. Except for two brief defections in late 2006, each lasting for two dates, I didn’t date, pursue dating or respond to other people’s pursuit. Instead I focused on learning to love myself, growing my own life and deepening my connection to my creativity and my spirituality. Especially after I had finally bottomed out on drugs and alcohol at the end of 2006, this was almost my sole focus in life in 2007.

So now, two years later, I do love myself more, have cleaned up a lot of things in my life, have a much larger creative life and a deepened trust in my recovery and that the universe is conspiring to bless me. Not perfect, by a long shot. But real. And feeling the call of getting out there again, because I think some of the further growth lessons in my life are going to come from this realm.

So I met the photographer and I’m working on an online personals profile, which I’ll probably go live with by the end of the month or so. This feels momentous, and at the same time very normal and real. The one thing that I am sure of is that, like everything else this past year, it probably won’t be like I think it will, and along the way I’ll learn and grow.

Here I go….

Hillary

So, I’m pretty much hoping that Hillary gets obliterated by Barack Obama in Michigan on Tuesday.

(Parenthetical note: I can’t believe this is the first blog I’ve written about the election. Watching presidential debates, election returns and analysis on television plays pretty much the same role for me that football season plays for most guys. And election night is like my Superbowl. Except that it only happens every four years, so it’s really more like my World Cup. (Parenthetical note inside the parenthetical note: it really doesn’t matter if Hillary gets obliterated in Michigan on Tuesday, since the delegates aren’t being recognized by the Democratic National Committee. (Tertiary parenthetical note: bravo Howard Dean for standing up to Michigan’s calendar-hoping hubris!)))

In any case, I realized today that I really am hoping that Hillary gets trounced in Michigan on Tuesday, and if not there, in Nevada on Saturday. I’m hoping it with a sort of visceral, nasty hope.

When I realized this, I was surprised- despite it being a popular pastime, I’ve never been a Hillary-basher. I certainly am not put off by the idea of a woman being president. Or a strong-willed, ambitious woman with an edge. Dare one use the “B” word, I habitually end up really liking women who are described by others (or themselves) as bitches. In fact, my favorite of all Hillaries was the pre-domesticated version who, long-hair flowing and eyes flashing, clad in a leather jacket, made a sarcastic apology on the Clinton campaign trail in 1992 for not, “Staying home and baking cookies like the other mothers.”

And yet I have felt strongly anti-Hillary throughout this campaign cycle. Thinking about it, I believe this is why: the candidate, her positions, her money, her voting for the war back when it mattered, issuing press releases that talk about Obama’s grade school essays, all of it, is pretty much part of the machine. You know the one I’m talking about- the machine that has us in Iraq, that wants us to buy a lot between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that depends on us remaining safely sedated in front of our televisions every night. It’s the machine in a woman suit, so it looks a little new and different, but at the end of the day it’s still just the machine.

This time around, though, the Democratic field has someone who not only has a non-machiney whiff about him, but also has an imaginable shot at nomination. I don’t think Barack Obama is the second coming. Compared to Dennis Kucinich, for example, he’s still clearly a pretty conventional candidate. But he’s a few degrees off of conventional enough that he’s worth getting excited about. He won’t be a boulder that crushes the machine, but he might be sand that wears it down.

I, for one, would like to see him pour.

Baby, I’m a star!

Well, that may be overstating it a bit. As a writer, though, I figure I have carte blanche to over- under- miss- or re- state whenever the mood strikes. This blog is reality as I create it, after all, and divine re-creation is the highest human prerogative.

Here’s what I can state, with a high degree of accuracy:

I spent most of yesterday (starting with a bracing 6:00 AM wakeup) in the East Bay on the set of the short film I’m one of the writers on. Small production, so far I’m a co-writer, assistant producer, script supervisor and manual laborer. And, as of yesterday, actor.

I hesitate to use the term “actor” since I have a total of eleven words of dialogue in two brief scenes that probably don’t occupy a combined 20 seconds of screen time. I especially hesitate to use the term in comparison to Ryan Eggensperger, Aimee Miles, and Bonnie Jean Shelton, three really superb actors with the film who were on set yesterday.

Still and all, I got in to character (which mostly involved being a geek and lying around in bed- both of which were a total stretch), did my takes and took direction from (oddly enough) the director. It’s such total joy to be hanging out with all the great people involved in making this film, and working on it is a concrete form of one of the three intentions I have for the New Year: putting my creativity out there in public more. Yaay!

The film will be screening at the Victoria Theatre toward the end of the month with a bunch of other shorts, I’ll let you know when it’s coming up…

January Writing News

Happy New Year!

January Writing news is fairly quiet. Now that the holiday season has been safely disposed of, though, perhaps things will pick up.

One thing that will definitely pick up in January is that the short film I’m a writer (and assistant producer and, very briefly, actor) on will be screening at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco at Scary Cow’s fourth screening party. Assuming we finish it in time, but it looks pretty good. It will be showing Sunday January 27th from 3:00-6:00. Information isn’t up on the Victoria’s website, but should be soon: http://www.victoriatheatre.org/ It would be great to see you there!

What with all the holiday hoopla, I haven’t written anything for Metrowize in the past month. I hope to get more active in January.

No specific plans to be reading on stage this month so far, but you never know. But I did recently exorcise my teen angst onstage in Mortified again on December 14th & 15th. I won a competition as worst teen poet. How should one feel about that? Regardless, it was really cool and I had fun hanging out with my beautiful, creative co-angsters.

As for my novel, my agent is working on synopsis materials and hopes to come up with a list of publishers to target this month. Please cross your collective fingers…

And there is always the blog. The latest postings are appearing in three places simultaneously. MySpace deletes older posts after a while, but you can find the whole history at Blogspot and Live Journal:

http://chris-west.blogspot.com/
http://chrisw-insf.livejournal.com/
http://www.myspace.com/chriswest_writerinsf

That’s it for now. I look forward to sharing the writing life with you in 2008!

All is quiet on New Year’s Day

I believe that what I’m doing on New Year’s Eve has some kind of link to what will happen in the year ahead. We could get Jungian and call it synchronicity, or newagian and call it manifesting a vision, or just plain call me a superstitious ignorant peasant, but there you have it. I first noticed this phenomenon about ten years ago, and the fit has actually been quite good.

For New Year’s Eve 2005 I was at a party with an unavailable budding potential ladyfriend, drinking and listening to her friends spin heavy metal records all night long. Sure enough, 2005 was a year of relational mismatch, drinking, and renaissance of interest in heavy metal.

2006 began in a small neighborhood bar, with a single friend, wistful glances at women in the distance and lots of whiskey and beer. The year delivered on the eve’s promise of an increasingly small life where distance from people grew as drinking expanded.

At midnight on December 31, 2006 I was in rehab, hoisting a caffeine free diet coke aloft with a few friends from the program. The next morning I wrote that if that meant that 2007 would be a year of sobriety and focus on recovery with a few really good friends in my life, that was all right with me. Blessedly, that was exactly what 2007 turned out to be.

So this weekend I was on a recovery-oriented spiritual retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. At 11:00 last night, I went to a candlelight meditation in the chapel. After a half hour there, I went to the main lodge where a dance was in progress and got my ass out on the dance floor. At midnight I was surrounded by beautiful, happy people, who had just spent an intense emotional and spiritual weekend with each other, all hugging and wishing each other Happy New Year.

I reckon 2008 will be filled with emotional growth, spiritual connection, active realtionships with others. And love. Happy New Year to all of you!