Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Penis Talks


A GAY peep show masquerading as a musical revue, “All About Men 2 . . . Penis Talks Reloaded” opened two weekends ago at the Music Museum, in the Manila suburb of Greenhills with 17 young men in skimpy underwear.

Regarded as Manila’s macho answer to Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” “Penis Talks 2” is full of salacious acts and dialogues that are hardly jolting. Go to any third-rate comedy bar around Malate, also a Manila suburb, and you’ll find performers dishing out even more playful acts, with good singing voices to boot.

(“The Vagina Monologues,” by the way, had been ably staged in Manila before by the New Voice Company headed by Monique Wilson, who had played Kim alternately with Lea Salonga in the original production of “Miss Saigon,” in London’s West End.)

Written by Ricky Lee and directed by Joel Lamangan and Mel Chionglo, “Penis Talks 2” plays up laughter for sexual innuendoes and lustful acts, wanting the audience to focus on the flesh parade.

One of the cast members is Christian Vazquez, who dabbled in commercial and ramp modeling (with Metropolis Publishing as his agent) before becoming a movie and stage actor.

All pictures of Christian Vazquez
(photos by Lon li-wen)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Song of Tarzan


DON'T you dare race to the jungle yet. Not before me!

Kodak Moment


IT'S a good thing that photo giant Kodak has come out with an advertisement featuring a gay male couple.

A few companies had done it ahead of Kodak, and haven't complained of any bad effects on their sales.

I hope many other companies would begin to notice that the pink market is a big market.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Trick or Treat


THIS HALLOWEEN I would like to be frightened by a slasher film featuring handsome hunks and beautiful men being murdered by a serial killer while boning each other, not by sky-rocketing prices of various commodities due to the expanded value added tax, or the EVAT law.

Also, I wouldn’t want to be cowed by the ruling administration’s Executive Order 454, which would allow government to take over certain businesses and companies to avert impending economic crises.

Yes, I don’t like the EVAT, which will take effect on November 1 after the Supreme Court yesterday lifted the temporary restraining order on it. Nor do I want government to muzzle the press, especially editors and journalists deemed critical of President Gloria Arroyo and her administration, through EO 454.

All I wish for this Halloween is to watch “Hellbent,” a well-written gay horror film with some predictable yet well-executed plot twists that follows a group of friends in West Hollywood at a Halloween gathering.

Hank Harris

Directed by Paul Etheredge-Ouzts, the movie’s expected gore is well-done, plus you can feast your eyes on the gorgeous physique and bulging underpants of Eddie (played by Dylan Fergus), Jake (Bryan Kirkwood), Joey (Hank Harris), Chaz (Andrew Levitas), and Tobey (Matt Phillips).

Well, it’s about time the pink moviegoers had something of their own horror film to relate to, after watching so much of the “Friday the 13th” series, Freddy Kruegger, the Japanese “Ring” series and, now, the Thai scary movies.

High Love in (Cine)Manila

Ledger and Gyllenhaal


THE screening of Yoji Yamada's “Hidden Blade” in a number of Manila’s theaters formally opened the 7th Cinemanila International Film Festival on October 12, while Ang Lee’s much-awaited gay cowboy romance, “Brokeback Mountain,” will close it on October 25.

With its theme “Buhayin ang Pelikulang Pilipino” (“Revive the Philippine Cinema”), the film festival aims to promote Filipino films to world cinema audiences and world cinema to the Filipino audience. Moreover, it wants to encourage more independent filmmakers.

Tikoy Aguiluz, Cinemanila festival director, and Manila Mayor Lito Atienza said a P1.5-million award awaits the grand prize winner of digital film competition, P1 million to second prize winner, P750,000 to the third prize, and P100,000 each to seven other finalists.

Ang Lee

I can’t wait to see again “Brokeback Mountain,” an epic Western about forbidden love. It’s a raw, powerful story of two young men—a Wyoming ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy—who meet in the summer of 1963 working as sheep herders amid a harsh mountain climate.

Based on a short story by Annie Proulx that was published in The New Yorker in 1997, “Brokeback Mountain” won the Golden Lion award in this year’s Venice International Film Festival. It features scenes filmed in the fabulous Canadian Rockies of Alberta, and has a fine cast led by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Annie Proulx

Ennis del Mar (played by Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal), meet in 1963 when they show up in Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming, for a summer job herding sheep on land owned by rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid).

Ennis speaks of his parents who died in a vehicular accident, of his brother and sister who raised him, and of a woman named Alma whom he plans to marry. For his part, Jack says his stern parents are working the Texas rodeo circuit.

While the scenery is breathtaking, the two men have difficult days and nights, considering the risk of encountering bears and coyotes, and the biting mountain cold that they have to endure.

No wonder Ennis and Jack soon come to rely on each other totally.

One night Ennis decides to sleep by the fire rather than head off to his lonely post. When the fire dies in the wee hours of the morning he finds himself freezing, but thanks to Jack, who asks him to come join him in his tent.

(Aguirre wants to keep his herd safe by ordering one of his men to roam high in the mountains, sleeping rough with no fire, while the other stays in a base camp from summer to fall.)

And while they dismiss each other abruptly in the cold light of morning, their frantic coupling (prompted by a simple gesture) the night before has had a tremendous impact on their lives since, even during their respective marriages.

But what could be so romantic about herding numbers of sheep left to range far and wide?

Well, that’s for you to find out--in this movie (of melodic score and breathtaking cinematography by Gustavo Santaolalla and Rodrigo Prieto, respectively) which aims to appeal to those (whether gay or straight) who love grand filmmaking and poignant love stories.

Brokeback Mountain is one of the stories in this anthology

Don't Shoot Journalists!



I'M wondering what has happened to the investigation being done by the US-Russian reporting team on the death of Paul Klebnikov, an American journalist working in Moscow who was gunned down while walking home from his offices in northeastern part of the Russian capital on the evening of July 9.

Klebnikov, 41, was the editor of Forbes Russia who had acquired many friends as well as enemies—from Chechen rebels to billionaire bandits—while at the peak of his career.

Calling its unusual initiative "Project Klebnikov," the team is composed of at least 20 journalists and involves the journalism department of New York University, the Economist, Bloomberg News, Vanity Fair, and Forbes.

Klebnikov’s case is one of the 12 contract-style murders of journalists in Russia since President Vladimir Putin became president in 2000. None has been solved.

Klebnikov’s brother, Michael, 50, had said he was skeptical of the results of Russia’s investigation, which has blamed the murder on Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a Chechen mafia leader, whom the journalist had critically profiled in his 2003 book “Conversations with a Barbarian.”

Michael had hinted that his brother’s murder might have something to do with a number of documents, one of which was related to Moscow real estate, in his possession.

Well, I wish that some of our local journalists here in the Philippines would take an interest to doing what Klebnikov’s friends and colleagues have done for him.

Gay Gene

THE AUTHOR of the following article is a good friend of mine who, despite being heterosexual and now happily raising a family in Japan, is sensitive to gay issues, although on a scientific point of view.

Terence Talorete (Butch Talo to his friends) holds a doctorate in animal cell biology from the University of Tsukuba (where he graduated valedictorian and was awarded the best in dissertation), in Japan, and a Master of Science in Microbiology from the University of the Philippines Diliman (where he was awarded the most outstanding graduate), in Quezon City. He finished his BS in Biology, magna cum laude, at the University of St. La Salle, in Bacolod City, Central Philippines.


Is homosexuality a social aberration or a product of nature’s unpredictable and, sometimes, malicious quirks?


A LADY friend of mine had married an openly gay man, despite some misgiving by her family and friends whether their marriage would work out.

For a few years the husband tried to act like a straight male and be a role-model to their two young boys. But after a while, he reverted to his old self and even beat up his wife. They separated after only five years of marriage.

Surprisingly, their first-born showed signs of femininity since he was two years old. Now in high school, the boy is very effeminate and gay. The second son, however, is straight.

Such a case will have contributed to the raging debates as to whether homosexuality is a genetic trait, akin to one born with blue eyes or brown hair.

Despite the scientific advances made to settle the issue, the results continue to remain ambivalent, as empirical evidences still point to various causes: genes, environment, and even the theory of past lives.

Attributing a genetic basis to homosexuality is a double-edged sword. If there is such a thing as a "gay gene," then members of the so-called "third sex" could not be faulted for being who they are.

Society, then, would have an obligation to cater to their basic personal and social needs, like allowing same-sex marriages and legal adoption.

This presupposes, however, that the society they are in is democratic and free.

But in such countries as Saudi Arabia, where homosexual practices are punishable by death, and given the present advances in amniocentesis (the process of drawing amniotic fluid out of the uterus which is then analyzed to detect abnormalities in, or determine the sex of, the fetus) and genetic screening, unborn babies with the gay gene may not see the light of day.

Homosexuality then becomes a "disease" that requires "treatment."

In Romania, the Caribbean and Malaysia, where homosexuals have been persecuted for just being themselves, coming out of the closet equals moving into jail. Having the gay gene becomes a lifelong stigma.

Let us look at recent research trends that aim to settle the issue.

A landmark paper published in the journal Science, in 1993, first posited the gay gene concept.

Using pedigree and linkage analysis on 114 families of homosexual men, Dean H. Hamer and his colleagues from the US National Institutes of Health concluded that same-sex orientation was found in the maternal uncles and male cousins of these subjects, but not in their fathers or paternal relatives, suggesting the possibility of sex-linked transmission in a portion of the population.

They believed that the gay gene was found in the X chromosome that all men inherit from their mothers. (All human beings have 46 chromosomes in their cells, including the sex chromosomes X and Y. Men are 46,XY, while women are 46,XX.)

Two years later, in 1995, the same research group confirmed their findings in the journal Nature Genetics, by extending their analysis on the role of the X chromosome in sexual orientation by DNA (the molecule that controls all cellular functions, including reproduction) linkage analyses of two newly ascertained series of families that contained either two gay brothers or two lesbian sisters, as well as heterosexual siblings.

The results again showed that male homosexuality was linked to the X chromosome.

Surprisingly, however, this was not true for lesbians. Possibly, a different gene carried lesbianism, they said.

That didn’t end there. Six years later, in April, 1999, scientists from the University of Western Ontario, led by George Rice, questioned the gay gene data.

In a paper published in the journal Science, they disputed Hamer’s work with new results showing that there was no link between homosexuality and the X chromosome.

Hamer reacted by saying that the way the Ontario researchers selected their subjects tended to hide the X chromosome contribution. He pointed out that what he had said was that the gene did not influence all cases of male homosexuality but only those that were transmitted maternally.

And in contrast to his group, the Ontario team did not select families based on the presence of maternal transmission.

Way back in 1991, psychologist Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, in Illinois, found out that fully 52 per cent of the identical twins of gay men were also gay, compared to just 22 per cent for fraternal twins.

Yes, genes may contribute to homosexuality in males but some scientists believe that researchers should look instead elsewhere in the X chromosome.

For one, genetic linkages for other complex traits such as manic depression and schizophrenia had fallen apart under closer scrutiny.

While homosexuality does run in certain families, the search for the elusive gay gene--if ever there really is one--continues.

There are some cases, however, where genes play a clearer role.

A study was reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry, in which a 21-year-old female with depression and suicidal thoughts admitted her desire to become a boy since childhood. Cytogenetic investigation revealed her chromosome pattern to be 47,XXX. The extra X chromosome clearly caused her gender identity disorder.

(You may have your chromosome pattern checked at the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of the Philippines Manila. Call up 526-1710.)

If homosexuality is strictly gene-based, then why does it persist when this would result in fewer offspring? Can it be caused by parental consanguinity? No, say researchers.

Can birth order or the number of one’s brothers or sisters cause it? No, say some researchers again.

But others believe otherwise.

The birth order effect on homosexuality may be a by-product of a biological mechanism that shifts personalities more in the feminine direction in later born sons, reducing the probability of these sons engaging in unproductive competition with each other.

One study has shown that homosexual-bisexual pedophiles had a later birth order than heterosexual pedophiles (Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1997).

Other researchers theorize that homosexuality is a polygenetic trait, e.g., governed by a synergistic set of genes. During development, these genes nudge the male brain towards the female direction.

However, inheritance of a smaller number of these genes makes the male more sensitive, tender, kind, better fathers and, consequently, more attractive mates.

Support for this polygenetic theory on homosexuality is strengthened by behavioral similarities in gays and lesbians that are not directly related to sexual orientation.

According to a recent study published last year in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, homosexual males and females would awake earlier, go to sleep later, and thus have shorter sleep duration compared to heterosexuals.

In an interesting study to explore possible differences in the speech patterns of gay and straight men, tape recordings of monologue readings from five openly gay men and four straight men were played to 25 listeners for judgments of perceived sexual orientation.

Listeners correctly identified the sexual orientation of these speakers at a rate close to eight per cent, showing that openly gay men demonstrate certain speech characteristics that are discernible to listeners.

In another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (March, 2000), homosexually active men are more likely to undergo depression and panic attack syndromes, while homosexually active women are more likely than other women to become alcohol-, drug-, or nicotine-dependent.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or "not sure" youth were a bit over three times more likely to attempt suicide, says another study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (May, 1999).

Is sexual orientation, therefore, primarily a biological phenomenon?

Researcher W. Byne wrote in the Journal of Homosexuality that the precise contribution of biological factors to the development of sexual orientation remains to be elucidated.

Recent neurostructural and genetic linkage evidence pertaining to sexual orientation must be viewed tentatively until it has been adequately corroborated and integrated with psychological and cultural models, according to Byne.

True enough, genetics and environmental influences, either alone or together, cannot fully explain all the disorders or abnormalities observed in medicine and psychology.

These include phobias and philias observed in early infancy, unusual play in childhood, differences in temperament manifested soon after birth, unusual birthmarks and their correspondence with wounds on a deceased person, unusual birth defects, and differences (physical and behavioral) between monozygotic (derived from a single fertilized ovum, or identical) twins as well as homosexuality and gender identity disorder.

Some researchers believe that the hypothesis of previous lives can contribute to the further understanding of these phenomena.

Now, can my lady friend’s first-born be blamed or ostracized for having homosexual tendencies? Or is he just a "victim" of nature’s unpredictable and, sometimes, malicious quirks?