TV & Radio
毎日新聞 2006年2月10日 東京夕刊
毎日新聞 2006年2月10日 東京夕刊
The New York Times
Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Ex-Gay Cowboys
By DAN SAVAGE
Published: February 10, 2006
FIRST, a little of that full disclosure stuff: I have not actually seen "Brokeback Mountain" or "End of the Spear," both of which I'm going to discuss here.
But since when did not seeing a film prevent anyone from sharing his or her strong opinions about it? Before the posters for "Brokeback Mountain" were even printed, everyone from the blogger Mickey Kaus to the Concerned Women for America to gay men all over the country had already said a lot about the film. (Their opinions were, respectively, con, con and pro.)
So, let's get to it: Remember when straight actors who played gay were the ones taking a professional risk? Those days are over. Shortly after Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, both straight, received Oscar nominations for playing gay cowboys in "Brokeback Mountain," conservative Christians were upset when they learned that a gay actor, Chad Allen, was playing a straight missionary in "End of the Spear."
"End of the Spear" tells what happened after five American missionaries were murdered in 1956 by a tribe in Ecuador. Instead of seeking retribution, the missionaries' families reached out to the tribe, forgave the killers and eventually converted them to Christianity. An evangelical film company, Every Tribe Entertainment, brought the story to the screen. In a glowing review, Marcus Yoars, a film critic for Focus on the Family, noted that the "martyrdom" of the slain missionaries has "inspired thousands if not millions of Christians." But after conservatives took a closer look at the cast list, the protests began. Many felt Chad Allen's presence in the film negated any positive message.
The pastors claim they're worried about what will happen when their children rush home from the movies, Google Chad Allen's name, and discover that he's a "gay activist." ("Gay activist" is a term evangelicals apply to any homosexual who isn't a gay doormat.) They needn't be too concerned. Straight boys who have unsupervised access to the Internet aren't Googling the names of middle-aged male actors gay or straight — not when Paris Hilton's sex tapes are still out there.
Frankly, I can't help but be perplexed by the criticisms of Mr. Allen from the Christian right. After all, isn't playing straight what evangelicals have been urging gay men to do?
That's precisely what Jack and Ennis attempt to do in "Brokeback Mountain" — at least, according to people I know who have actually seen the film. These gay cowboys try, as best they can, to quit one another. They marry women, start families. But their wives are crushed when they realize their husbands don't, and can't, ever really love them. "Brokeback Mountain" makes clear that it would have been better for all concerned if Jack and Ennis had lived in a world where they could simply be together.
That world didn't exist when Jack and Ennis were pitching tents together, but it does now — even in the American West. Today, the tiny and stable percentage of men who are gay are free to live openly, and those who want to settle down and start families can do so without having to deceive some poor, unsuspecting woman.
Straight audiences are watching and loving "Brokeback Mountain" — that's troubling to evangelical Christians who have invested a decade and millions of dollars promoting the notion that gay men can be converted to heterosexuality, or become "ex-gay." It is, they insist, an ex-gay movement, although I've never met a gay man who was moved to join it.
This "movement" demands more from gay men than simply playing straight. Once a man can really pass as ex-gay — once he's got some Dockers, an expired gym membership and a bad haircut — he's supposed to become, in effect, an ex-gay missionary, reaching out to the hostile gay tribes in such inhospitable places as Chelsea and West Hollywood.
What should really trouble evangelicals, however, is this: even if every gay man became ex-gay tomorrow, there still wouldn't be an ex-lesbian tomboy out there for every ex-gay cowboy. Instead, millions of straight women would wake up one morning to discover that they had married a Jack or an Ennis. Restaurant hostesses and receptionists at hair salons would be especially vulnerable.
Sometimes I wonder if evangelicals really believe that gay men can go straight. If they don't think Chad Allen can play straight convincingly for 108 minutes, do they honestly imagine that gay men who aren't actors can play straight for a lifetime? And if anyone reading this believes that gay men can actually become ex-gay men, I have just one question for you: Would you want your daughter to marry one?
Evangelical Christians seem sincere in their desire to help build healthy, lasting marriages. Well, if that's their goal, encouraging gay men to enter into straight marriages is a peculiar strategy. Every straight marriage that includes a gay husband is one Web-browser-history check away from an ugly divorce.
If anything, supporters of traditional marriage should want gay men out of the heterosexual marriage market entirely. And the best way to do that is to see that we're safely married off — to each other, not to your daughters. Let gay actors like Chad Allen only play it straight in the movies.
Dan Savage is the editor of The Stranger, a Seattle newsweekly.
January 31, 2006
The author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights sees the gay rights movement as a history of weakening demands for assimilation. So where does Brokeback fit in?
By Kenji Yoshino
Brokeback Mountain continues to bring gay life out of the closet as never before, as suggested by its commercial success (over $42 million at the box office) and critical plaudits (four Golden Globes and eight Oscar nominations). On the other hand, the movie continues to accede to various demands to conform to straight norms. In walking that tightrope, the movie reflects where we are in the unfolding saga of gay rights.
The history of gay rights can be retold as a history of increasingly weakening demands for assimilation: the demand to convert, the demand to pass, and the demand to cover. Through the middle decades of the 20th century, gays were routinely pressured to convert to heterosexuality—whether through lobotomies, electroshock therapy, or psychoanalysis.
As the gay rights movement gained traction, the demand to convert gradually shifted in emphasis toward the demand to pass. Gays would be left alone as long as they remained in the closet. This shift is exemplified by the military’s 1993 movement from categorically excluding gays to its current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, under which gays can serve as long as they remain in the closet.
Today, we are seeing another shift. Gays are increasingly allowed to be open about their homosexuality as long as they “cover”—sociologist Erving Goffman’s word for how individuals “tone down” known stigmatized traits. In some sectors of American society, it’s all right to be openly gay as long as you don’t “flaunt” your sexuality, by, for instance, holding hands with a same-sex partner, engaging in gay activism, or behaving in gender-atypical ways.
Brokeback Mountain, which spans two decades beginning in 1963, depicts cowboys trapped in the first two generations of gay history. The emotionally frozen Ennis can never fully embrace his love for Jack because he has been subjected to a particularly terrifying form of conversion therapy. When he was 9, his father took him to see a man who had been beaten to death for having “ranched up” with another man. The heterosexual imperative reflected in that murder drives both Ennis and Jack to marry women. But Jack believes a different life is possible—he tries to persuade Ennis that they can inhabit a closet built for two. The tragedy of the film is that Jack is too far ahead of his time—it is the less courageous Ennis who survives.
From a gay perspective, the film is bearable to watch only from the vantage of the present day. Of course, gay hate crimes continue—Wyoming, where Brokeback is set, is also where 21-year-old Matthew Shepherd was murdered in 1998. But if Jack and Ennis were alive today, they would have had a shot at living a different story, as the warm reception accorded the film suggests.
At the same time, the significant opposition to the film shows the distance gays have yet to travel. Conservative critics have denounced the film as “homosexual propaganda,” a “commercial for gay marriage,” or the “rape of the Marlboro man.” A theater in Utah went so far as to pull the film from distribution.
Like many openly gay individuals today, the film has responded to this opposition by covering. Even the film’s most ardent advocates have “de-gayed” it to make it more palatable to the mainstream. Focus Features, which released Brokeback, published ads that feature Ennis and Jack with their on-screen wives rather than with each other. Adulatory commentators have insisted that the film is a love story that transcends its gay particulars with such ferocity that they implicitly concede those particulars are deeply shameful. And of course, much of the film’s appeal is that Jack and Ennis are real cowboys—so straight-acting they evade the gay stereotype.
Gays will not achieve full equality until a film does not need to cover in these ways to have mainstream appeal. But perhaps the concessions made by the film only make Brokeback more poignant. They testify to the difficulty of moving beyond the covering demand toward full liberation. We should not expect love that was for so long unspeakable to break its silence without a quaver.
Kenji Yoshino is professor of law and deputy dean for intellectual life at Yale Law School. He specializes in antidiscrimination law and constitutional law. His book, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, was published by Random House on January 17.
Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 14:16 GMT
Japan baby could end royal reform
By Sarah Buckley
Conservatives within Japan's hidebound imperial household must be rejoicing at a miracle pregnancy.
News that Princess Kiko, the 39-year-old wife of the emperor's second son, is expecting a child in the autumn may save them from their worst fear - the prospect of women ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne.
For months Japan has witnessed a mounting debate over whether the Imperial Household Law - which allows only male heirs - should be amended.
With no male heir born into the imperial family since 1965, supporters of change looked to have nearly won the argument.
But Princess Kiko's pregnancy has at least stalled the process, and even - if she gives birth to a boy - ended it for some time.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who had pledged to get the succession law changed by the end of Parliament's current session in June, has turned more cautious.
"It's desirable that the legislation be enacted when everyone can support it," he said on Wednesday, one day after news of Princess Kiko's pregnancy caught Japan by surprise.
His turnaround suggests that he may no longer be willing to take on powerful, conservative forces opposed to female succession.
News of the princess' pregnancy - which is still in its earliest stages - was probably leaked by an imperial household member.
The fact the source was willing to risk going public so soon may indicate how desperate some royal officials are to scuttle the succession law debate.
Christopher Hood, director of Cardiff University's Japanese Studies Centre, said he thought Mr Koizumi was more likely to have been influenced by opposition within his own Cabinet than from the Imperial Household.
The Japanese public seems broadly supportive of letting women take the throne, according to opinion polls.
But politicians in Mr Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) appear more divided, with several Cabinet members making less than positive comments about the proposed change in recent days, including Foreign Minister Taro Aso.
Mr Aso is a potential successor to Mr Koizumi, who has said he plans to step down as LDP leader in September.
Mr Koizumi may be worried that pressing ahead with the politically controversial change could tie his hands on other reform plans he may have for his last few months of power.
"This is linked to the LDP succession crisis, never mind the royal succession crisis," Mr Hood said.
Reports say that Princess Kiko is only about six or seven weeks pregnant, and so it should be possible to determine the sex of her baby in about 10 weeks time, by the end of April - before the Parliament's session ends in June.
If the baby turns out to be a boy, support for changing the law would quickly dwindle. If a girl, Mr Koizumi might just have time to introduce a bill, but he may not want to risk such a rush.
Princess Kiko's pregnancy could therefore have ended the debate before it even reached parliament.
It is easy to assume that opposition to change, in a male-dominated society such as Japan, is rooted in a fear of empowering women.
But analysts argued this was not the case.
"I always thought that it's nothing to do with gender equality," said Hiroko Takeda, lecturer at Sheffield University's School of East Asian Studies.
She said it had more to do with preserving Japan's traditions, with the monarchy's hierarchy at its heart.
"The gender issue isn't important in this," agreed Ichiyo Muto, president of the People's Planned Study Group, an organisation which studies alternative political and social systems.
He said conservatives recognised the need to shore up the monarchy by sorting out the succession issue. One member of the royal family, Prince Tomohito, has suggested expanding the royal circle to include more potential male heirs, and even reintroducing concubines.
But Mr Muto said the conservatives' overriding concern was to proceed cautiously, given the enormity of the change.
"They at least want to resist the kind of easy attitude with which Koizumi brought it up," he said.
If Princess Kiko does give birth to a boy in the autumn, it provides an easy solution to the succession, at least for another generation.
But it does not mean Japan can avoid the debate forever.
"If the boy dies in some accident, they still haven't a clear policy on who comes next," Mr Hood said.
Pregnancy may force rethink on female heirs for Japan throne