Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31

With a side of pecs:

In praise of autumn:

From Mark... to Justin... to Brent... to Michael

This is just weird. A regular blog reader, Mark, sent an e-mail to inform me that a guy whose picture had been on this blog was in a movie (not porn) that was going to be released next month. I was intrigued, but there are so many thousands of photos here that I couldn’t narrow it down. Mark wrote back that the name of the flick was The Geography Club. With the assist of Google, I was able to find the cast listing, and it became apparent that the guy Mark mentioned was named Justin Deeley, an underwear model who is now pursuing an acting career in movies. Evidence of former occupation below:


Turns out The Geography Club, filmed last summer, is a gay-themed movie that had been a best-selling book (Harper Collins, 2003, now in e-reader formats) and a play (2008), all with the same title. The film version opens in limited release in the USA on November 15, 2013. The plot is about closeted gay/bisexual high school students who form a club with a name so boring that no one will want to join, leaving them with a safe place at school to meet and share details of their lives without the other students being in on it. Complications ensue.

OK so far. The author of this book/play/movie is Brent Hartinger, and somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind a very dim light bulb went off. Once again, Google, which now serves as the entirety of my memory, helped remind me that Mr. Hartinger was the founder of Oasis, a support group for young gay people in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. Admirable stuff. Brent now lives near Seattle with his partner since 1992, Michael Jensen, also a writer (gay westerns – no lie). Brent and Michael were co-founders of the entertainment web site Photo below: Brent (author, on left) with Justin Deeley (actor in The Geography Club).

But back to the movie. The producer is Michael Huffington, who was once married to Greek-born Arianna Huffington, of Huffington Post fame. After their divorce in 1997, Michael disclosed that he was bisexual and funded and started up numerous programs, fellowships and organizations that addressed LGBT concerns. He became an LGBT activist, giving speeches (and money) to like-minded entities. Somewhere along the way he became associated with Log Cabin Republicans (!) and even won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served one term as a Republican from California. By just 1.9 percent of the vote he lost his subsequent bid for the U.S. Senate when Californians elected Dianne Feinstein. In the 2003 California recall election, Michael endorsed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. His ex-wife, Arianna Huffington, was an opposing candidate (!). I’m not making this up, although she did withdraw before the election, even though her name remained on the ballot. Photo below: Michael Huffington

In 2013, Michael Huffington was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case. I have a feeling we’ve not heard the last from Mr. Huffington. At the very least his life story should become a television mini-series.


P.S.: Special thanks to Mark, a regular and alert reader of


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29

Military men: 

In praise of autumn:

E. M. Forster

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) was an English writer of novels, short stories and essays. After his father died before he was two years old, Forster was raised by female relatives who were affiliated with a stern evangelical sect. At the age of ten, a great aunt left him an inheritance that afforded him a private education while allowing himself to attempt a career as a writer. Forster detested public school, but found King's College, Cambridge, almost a paradise by contrast, with its strongly homoerotic atmosphere among students and faculty.

In 1901 Forster was elected to the elite Cambridge secret society The Apostles, leading to close ties with other members such as John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey of the Bloomsbury group. After traveling for a year in Italy Forster taught a course at the Working Mens’ College, a part-time commitment he maintained for over twenty years in order to affirm his belief in reducing class barriers. Then four novels appeared in a five year period of creativity: Where Angels Feared to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Howards End (1910). This brilliant body of work, openly critical of Edwardian pieties, secured his fame.

In 1914 Forster completed the first draft of a homosexual novel, Maurice. Realizing that it was not publishable in England after the persecution of Oscar Wilde, he shared the manuscript with only a few friends, including Christopher Isherwood and D. H. Lawrence, who used it as the model for his heterosexual Lady Chatterley's Lover. Forster continued to revise Maurice* until 1960, but it was not published until 1971, after his death the previous year. After completing Maurice, Forster felt that his novel writing was over, as he had exhausted his insights into heterosexual relationships, yet could not publish the works with homosexual themes that affected him personally.

*The film version of Maurice, released by the Ivory-Merchant-Jhabvala team in 1987, was a success and remarkably true to the novel. In Maurice, an upper class man comes to find his true destiny with a working-class boy, the gamekeeper at an estate.

Scholars have long speculated about the reason for Forster’s low productivity after a string of classics crowned by A Passage to India (1924), considered by most to be his masterpiece. A Passage to India delivered a sharp critique of British Imperialism. Newly revealed papers from Forster, including his sex diary, reveal that his first sexual encounter with a man and the way it compounded his lifelong struggle with homosexuality killed his creative drive. He did not write any novels between 1924 and the time of his death in 1970. Forster lost his virginity to a wounded soldier on an Egyptian beach when he was 38 and later met Bob Buckingham, a married policeman, in 1930. Forster and Buckingham remained lovers until Forster’s death.

After 1924 Forster published only essays and reviews. The broadcasts of his essays on the BBC during the early years of the Second World War (published in Two Cheers for Democracy) delivered to the British people some of the most important writing of the mid-twentieth century, according to Adrian Barlow, a Forster scholar. In 1946 Forster accepted an offer to become an honorary fellow at King's College Cambridge, where he lived for the rest of his life. Although Forster struggled to reconcile the heterosexual English middle-class themes of his famous works with the reality of his affairs with working-class men, he went on to become an influential President of the National Council for Civil Liberties and a committed advocate of free speech.


Wayne R. Dynes – Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (1990)

Julie Bolder for The Advocate (2010):