Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Culture of Suicide: Enough Already.



It’s no secret that men’s mental health in Australia is worsening at an alarming rate, and suicide statistics confirm it. If eight lives a day were being lost to terrorism the whole damned country would be on red alert, with a national hysteria of unprecedented proportions. Suicide in itself isn’t necessarily a desire to kill oneself as much as it’s a desperate attempt to make overwhelming distress and emotional pain stop.

We’ll never know how many of those men were actually troubled by their homosexual thoughts – when researching the subject some time ago I turned up anecdotal evidence of “suicide-instead-of-coming-out” notes secretly destroyed by shameful families, and a Sydney imam as a matter of course advising a young man that suicide was the only honorable option for a Muslim man with homosexual desires. By default, the Australian culture is apparently unable to effectively respond to male suicide - past and present. The above anecdotal snapshots are indicative of the pernicious and diverse co-factors which need to be addressed, and it's doubtful they're included in the key LGBTI stats:

• LGBT people aged 16 and over scored an average K10 score of 19.6, indicating moderate psychological distress
 • 15.15% of LGBTI people aged 16 and over report current thoughts of suicide in the past 2 weeks
 • 37.2% LGBT people aged 16 and over reported being diagnosed or treated for any mental disorder in the past three years
 • 35% of Transgender people aged 18 and over have attempted suicide in their lifetime
 • 60% of people with an intersex variation aged 16 and over had thought about suicide on the basis of issues related to having congenital sex variation
• 20.3% LGBTI people aged 16 and over reported that they had been diagnosed with anxiety in their lifetime
 • 30.5% of LGBT people aged 16 and over have been diagnosed or treated for depression in the last three years
• 16% of LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 reported that they had attempted suicide

 Queers now have an opportunity to positively shape the future of mental health in Australia for LGBTI people of all ages, and men in general. With a bit of effort we can step up and proactively be the guys who make a difference.

 The recently-released Fifth National Mental Health Plan will seek to establish a national approach for collaborative government effort over the next five years, with a focus on achieving a better integrated service system for consumers and carers. LGBTI inclusion must be approached as a priority rather than a sidebar. The National LGBTI Health Alliance encourages members, project partners and networks to actively participate in these consultations to support adequate inclusion of LGBTI people and communities. Consultation dates and times across the country are underway, and listed on the above Plan link rollover.

Please contact MindOUT / National LGBTI Health Alliance in your capital city if you are attending a consultation / workshop and wish to discuss LGBTI inclusion in the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Milo Yiannopoulos: Truth-Teller? Iconoclast? Fucked-up Queen?

 

The phenomenon of a gay man shilling for the far right in socio-religious politics is nothing new: as such, Milo Yiannopoulos isn’t an original. The timing of the Alt-Right “movement” however has provided Yiannopoulos with a visibility and a platform which annoying gays with Histrionic Personality Disorder can only dream of, and he’s riding the donkey for all it’s worth.

But is he just another aberrant homosexualist who simply tells the truth, and damn the torpedoes? Is he a legitimate alternate gay male voice who sticks it to the sacred cows of LGBT political correctness as one should? Clearly he’s not an intellectual heavyweight: his consumerist queeniness with fashionista pretensions (in the worst sense of the words) underscores shorthand nihilistic opinions. It’s all marketed as take-no-prisoners edginess, via Breitbart. It’s hard to take his journalism seriously when decorated with glamour pix which appear to refute his powdered once-Mediterranean looks.

The above notwithstanding, he’s currently enjoying a good run on that bandwagon much-loved by conservatives: free speech. Free speech is a very good thing, as self-censorship is to be reviled. We’re led to believe that the down-side of free speech is hate speech, with truth sometimes being collateral damage. Any smart manipulator can run with that obfuscation of the left, and parlay it into a case against everything from feminism to identity causes. Of critical importance however is exactly how much capital-T Truth is being unleashed when the gloves are off. And specifically, how much truth is Yiannopoulos telling as he proudly trolls for the sake of trolling…like Anonymous Meets Perez Hilton.

 Now permanently banned from Twitter (for inspiring a bullying campaign against actress Leslie Jones) it will be interesting to see how he fares post-POTUS election. He claims the ban has made him more famous. But considering that currently the entire Alt-Right movement is essentially a social media exercise, time will tell whether or not it’s actually a viable political force. Yiannopoulos himself isn’t: his hubris and wing-nut Western European politics haven’t seen him advance up the media food chain with any notability. Sexuality – especially his own self-hating variety – appears to dominate his interviews and fly in the face of the identity politics he claims to oppose.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Prison Walls & Eros - Part 1: The Sublime



We don’t often delve into our psychosexuality when responding to the homoeroticism of sex behind bars. It’s a staple of modern pornography. From a getting-off perspective it’s a no-brainer. One aspect of why prison sexuality continues to figure so strongly in both gay and non-gay male sexual fantasies is quite obvious: incarceration is a very good excuse to fully and without inhibition explore the male taboo of enjoyment of the homosexual experience. The fact that it’s best enjoyed with another man’s body isn’t helpful in honestly addressing what is usually felt as internalized homophobia but experienced as most pleasurable. In short, choice has nothing to do with men’s attachment to thoughts of prison sex, and that’s its attraction.

But pornography only addresses desire – that’s its band-aid purpose. It doesn’t address existential loneliness, or the pervasive longing which in many ways defines much of our culture and individual selves, regardless of what relationships we may experience (or, all too often, reject).

It’s tempting to imagine that bridging the gap between pornography and longing is a future topic to be addressed by gay men. However, some digging into our culture yields up Jean Genet’s silent film “Un Chant d’Amour”(“Song Of Love”) from 1950. Reviled as pornography from its onset, this short masterpiece of homoerotic existentialism is peculiarly more relevant than ever. It’s still deeply subversive inasmuch as there is no refuge within for the homophobe of any persuasion – the viewer is denied that dubious payoff.


Set in an oppressively gloomy prison, the familiar dance of The Boy’s capitulation to both The Man and homosexuality is perfunctory and speedy – the need for connection jolts him from his narcissistic auto-eroticism. The Man’s tears of nothingness give way to a bashful smile of being, when he's "accepted".  The film has been fairly critiqued as a damnation of the walls men build around themselves.

Juxtaposing the bleakness of the wall of separation, Genet offers a sweet counterpoint fantasy of bucolic contact, respect, sensuality and liberation. Much has been made of Genet’s insistence on aberrant homosexualism as a valid and menacing repudiation of “civilized society”, but “Un Chant d’Amour” is as decent as it gets for the thinking homosexualist: as it documents immuration, it also documents our lost history when homosexuals (and homosexuality) actually had the ability to transcend age, race gender and identity.