The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bye bye freedom

In his recent show at the Opera House, the English cabaret, drag and performance artist David Hoyle urged the audience to kill politicians. "Do it as a group – kill them collectively, so they can't pin it on anyone," he said. While John Howard is an obvious and natural target, Peter Costello surely comes a close second after his pathetic plan to fine individuals and groups who organise boycotts against businesses. It's yet another example of the trend for governments to be puppets of corporations, run for the benefit of greedy, unethical companies and not for the good of the common person.

Let's look at what his plan means for queers. Suppose a major company – say a car manufacturer, or a furniture supplier – aligns itself with the Christian right and comes out with a homophobic statement. GLBT groups, quite rightly, forward this information by email as widely as possible, calling on queer people and their families, friends, colleagues etc not to buy anything from this company on moral and ethical grounds because they are promoting discrimination and hatred towards the GLBT community. Those groups would, if the Federal Treasurer has his way, be prosecuted and ordered to pay compensation to companies targeted by boycotts.

Holy crap. Did I blink and miss the concept of free speech and consumer choice being removed from our supposedly democratic society? It's as disconcerting as reading in the mainstream newspapers how a group of protestors who objected to the visit of a war criminal (US Vice-President Dick Cheney) were not allowed to walk though the CBD lest it 'disrupt' traffic, but it's perfectly fine for local residents to be subjected to loud helicopters and parts of the city being locked down to accommodate Cheney's trip to Sydney. And what's the betting Costello's proposal will only be applied selectively. I can't imagine Christian fundamentalists who organise a boycott against the adult industry on moral and ethical grounds will have to stump up compensation to the local sex-on-premises or porn shop – can you?

It's not that I have a problem with all big businesses, such as those who sponsor queer events such as Mardi Gras. New Mardi Gras could have done a lot worse than picking Gaydar as a sponsor – kudos to them for not opting for a pharmaceutical, petrochemical or tobacco firm, for example. But that said, when community organisations and businesses such as Sex Pigs and Pink Sofa aren't allowed a stall at Fair Day or a float in the Mardi Gras parade, there's surely something just a bit wrong with that picture.

It's just something to think about. In the meantime, every cloud has a silver lining and fantastic, positive things happen to counter the negative: I'm about to get unlimited, free laser hair removal and facial photorejuvenation treatments, and Labor Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd called John Howard a "threat to national security". Priceless. Happy Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Turning the tables

Whatever the whys and wherefores of same-sex marriage, it seems it's set to remain high on the agenda of many GLBT activists in Australia. Protests, demos and polite letter-writing are the typical forms of campaigning – from Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH)'s national day of action, to Peter Furness and his partner conducting sit-ins at the Australian Tax Office, in a bid to persuade the government to recognise them as a married couple and afford them relevant benefits.

All these are legitimate lobbying tactics. Meanwhile in the US, our activist counterparts are getting very creative and playing the same-sex marriage naysayers at their own game. The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (WA-DOMA), according to its website "seeks to defend equal marriage in the state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court's ruling on Andersen v. King County". This decision, handed down in July 2006, declared that a "legitimate state interest" allows the legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this "legitimate state interest," it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

WA-DOMA is working to put the court's ruling into law. Yes, you read that right. The group plans to do this through three in initiatives: the first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage; the second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children; and the third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony. WA-DOMA admits its actions are "very absurd", but adds that "We hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitutional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric." Quite.

The initiative, which was accepted by the Secretary of State and assigned the serial number 957 last month, proposes to add the phrase "who are capable of having children with one another" to the legal definition of marriage. It requires that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled, and couples married out of state must file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as 'unrecognised'. The proposed measure also requires the setting-up of a process for filing proof of procreation and would make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognised marriage to receive marriage benefits.

Pretty cool, I reckon. And at least they're taking aim at the enemy and not calling security on each other as did the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby to Community Action Against Homophobia over the waving of same-sex marriage banners on one of the biggest gay days of the year…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gay icons

Lesbian icons – from Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang, to Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Pink – are either sensible, talented, or at the very least, entertaining. This can’t always be said of gay icons, though. Cher, Judy, Liza, Barbra and every ‘true’ diva and golden age Hollywood movie star over the age of 50 aside (I’ll even throw in Kylie for her camp and staying power, and Madonna for some of her early work), gay men’s taste in icons has gone decidedly downhill.

All manner of homogenous, bland, (usually) blonde straight girls churning out ‘pop’ tunes with increasingly mindless lyrics and the standard media quote on how they ‘love their gay fans’ are trotted out at gay clubs and big queer events as ‘special guests’. What’s ‘special’ about a gaggle of girls who look and sound pretty much the same (there’s no chance of mixing up the vocals of Cher and Barbra on the other hand), I really don’t know, but these pop dollies are foisted on the gay community by marketing professionals who think we so can’t get enough of them that they even form them into ‘girl groups’. The scary thing is that gay men today lap it up. Whatever happened to the discerning taste of the poof?

Worse still than these boring pop ‘star’ wannabes is the ‘icon’ whose sole claim to fame is … being famous. I can let Zsa Zsa Gabor go – anyone who marries nine men earns a bit of camp factor – but the embracing by gay men of her wretched great grand-niece Paris Hilton is unforgiveable. In 2005 Paris and her mother were marshals at the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade – a significant marker, if ever there was one, of the deterioration of gay culture. I mean, come on guys, if you really want to worship a female who doesn’t have any particular artistic talent, at least pick one who will provide more entertaining escapades than a shallow rich bitch who at her most expressive can offer only a vacant face and monotonous ‘That’s hot’ when asked to comment on what she thinks of anything from the latest fashions to watching paint dry.

Pick someone like Anna Nicole Smith. Dear old Anna Nicole, without whom the world will be a darker place. She was blonde, trashy, but absolutely fabulous. Dubbed as the “Princess Diana of the trailer parks”, the 39-year-old former Playboy model entertained and endeared millions with her life, from her reality TV series The Anna Nicole Smith Show, to turning up at red carpet events completely off her face. And she was kind to animals. She modelled herself on her heroine, Marilyn Monroe, and died like her – a mysterious, possibly drug-related death that while it didn’t involve a president (as far as we know), did feature a legal row over the inherited millions of her late 89-year-old husband and a squabble over the paternity of her baby girl. Hmm, little Dannielynn … I can smell a new gay icon in the making.