Nov 24, 2013

Photo of the Day and Gay Sex in the Vatican

Photo of the day is an amusing photo accompanying Vanity Fair's recent article, The Secret Lives of Vatican's Gay Cardinals, Monks and Other Clergy. Though everything is vague, nothing is specific , and no one is named, it has the "feel" of an authentic inside look. Little is shocking about it, most quite plausible, not much all that scandalous. However, a dark picture emerges of closeted men with no confidence they would be cared for or protected if they came out of the closet. As Pope Francis has said recently, no one has come up to him wearing a 'gay identity card' yet. No cabal or gay lobby, no power faction, but many hidden, secret lives, some deeply repressed and dangerous, others less so, some faithful to their vows, others promiscuous - scandalously so. One comes away from the picture wondering who causes more harm, the self loathing repressives supporting twisted doctrines or the corrupt hedonists soliciting young seminarians as prostitutes. Either way .....

Pope Francis is scheduled to meet Vladimir Putin. Geoff Farrow wonders if the wellbeing of LGBT people in Russia will be sold down the river for a sweet deal between Vatican and Russia or whether good Pope Francis will confront the infamous premier. See full article here.

Unfortunately, my computer crashed recently and photos posted on this iPad I'm using don't usually appear. But it's worth a try. Here is the witty article photo from Vanity Fair. It's wistful thinking of course. If only.......perhaps Gene Robinson would wear such a rainbow mitre.

Nov 16, 2013

Possessed by Demons; Gays, Catholics and the Death of Garcia Lorca

(Gay Demons within the bosom of Mother Church)

I've taken a hiatus on blogging for the past several months, while working intensely on a novel set in Prague, a political thriller with a gay teen love story at its heart. The book and the research associated with it are taking up most of my time, so my apologies to any regular visitors to this blog for my unexplained silence and absence. The Spirit moves where she wills, so to speak, and I haven't felt any particular inspiration to reflect or comment on spiritual issues and events for some time now. I also have continued difficulties with my vision, as a result of the minor stroke I suffered some months ago, resulting in 'double vision.' It's doubtful my vision will ever return entirely to normal, but when my eyes get tired - particularly from long hours on the computer - then the vision deteriorates, making it impossible to write. So the hours of good vision are precious when writing a book. 

However, I've kept one eye open on religious and spiritual issues within my range of interests. Recently, I've been following the discussion at William Lindsey's superb blog, On Bilgrimage, about the continued frothing hate displayed by the US Catholic hierarchy towards gay people. The discussion at the moment focuses on the bizarre - and frightening - announcement by a Catholic prelate, Bishop Paprocki by name, that he is planning to perform a very public exorcism re: same sex marriage. This from the Chicago Tribune.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he will offer prayers for "exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage" at the same time Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the same-sex marriage bill into law next week.
Paprocki said he will offer the prayers intended to cast out evil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the state's capital Wednesday. . . .
An exorcism, which often refers to a rite performed on a person, is applicable in the case of same-sex marriage because the devil can appear "in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church," the Diocese of Springfield said in a statement.

(The above quote has affected the formatting from here on in.)
Living here in Prague, where the ashes of gays, gypsies and Jews carted off to concentration camps still lingers in the air, this suggestion is horrifying and depressing, as is the lackluster, ho hum response of most centrist Catholics. What is there to get excited about?   The insanities of the Nazi's were treated with the same studied indifference and passivity. Surely no one could possibly take them seriously. Yet taken seriously they were, how deadly seriously for gays, gypsies and Jews. How little we learn from the tragedies of the past. For those interested, please consult William's blog, On Bilgrimage, for further discussions and much commentary. For myself, I don't have the heart to say more about the bizarre happenings in the American church, and since a picture speaks a thousand words, here is one that says it all most eloquently:

On to other matters, I've been reading Leslie Stainton's moving biography of the great Spanish poet, Frederico Garcia Lorca, killed in 1938 by the fascist Spanish guards during the infamous Civil War, both for his political sympathies for the poor and for his gay sexuality, which greatly offended the Spanish Catholic Fascist sense of machismo. Lorca was indeed 'possessed' by demons and had to go. Stainton's book is entitled, Lorca: A Dream of Life, and is the first English language work that deals in a straightforward and honest manner with Lorca's sexuality, linking it  to his death. For those unfamiliar with this great Spanish poet and playwright (The House of Bernada Alba, Blood Wedding, Yerma), he is indeed a gay icon and martyr of our times and deserves to be honored as such. Unfortunately, for the past seventy plus years since his death, his sexuality has been obscured by Spanish commentary, because how could Spain's greatest modern poet be anything less than a 'real man.' Stainton's biography goes a long way to rectifying this gross distortion. 

Lorca's principal biographer, Ian Gibson, sidestepped the issue of his sexuality in his monumental first book, Frederico Garcia Lorca: a Life. '

However, Gibson has recently rectified his glaring omission (it's about time!)  by publishing a separate volume that deals directly with Lorca's sexuality, setting the record straight at last and helping to remove the distortions of the last 70 years (which Gibson himself contributed to) that have obscured the 'demon possessed' sexuality of "Spain's greatest modern poet,"  a sexuality so at variance with traditional Spanish machismo, and therefore one dare not speak its name. Unfortunately, this book has yet to be translated into English. The book is entitled Lorca Y El Mundo Gay (Lorca and the Gay world).

A 1996 film, entitled The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (or Death in Granada), and staring Andy Garcia in the title role, didn't simply obscure Lorca's gay sexuality, it completely reversed it, no doubt to protect Mr. Garcia's Latin Lover movie star image. The movie really chronicles the exploits of a very handsome, very hetero young Hispanic journalist, played by Esai Morales, who journeys to Spain to uncover the "facts" about Lorca's death. In the course of his sojourn, he falls in love with the daughter of one of Lorca's executioners, and in order to marry her, decides to conceal the role of his future father in law in Lorca's death. Needless to say, apart from the identity of this one criminal, the journalist discovers no answers to questions of motive about the killing. Lorca's sexuality? Not even a hint of a suggestion that it was an issue. This is a hetero movie from start to finish, as attested to by the very macho images on the poster,  and no hint or suggestion of anything "aberrant" can be allowed. 

Swinging to the other extreme, the 2008 film, Little Ashes, explores the alleged sexual affair between Garcia Lorca and the very young Salvadore Dali. Lorca's sexuality is faced head on and the repressed homosexuality of Dali, who first shows up looking like a drag queen,  is also bravely addressed, in the face of demurs from Ian Gibson, also Dali's biographer, and other critics who simply take at face value Dali's dubious assertion that he 'was not homosexual.'  The drawing power of the film stems from the starring role of Dali, played incongruously by the gorgeous Robert Pattinson, fresh from his role in the Harry Potter series, and prior to his mega role as the vapid, pale vampire in Twilight (though the film was released after the first Twilight, causing something of a sensation). As Roger Ebert notes in his review, the film gives evidence of Pattinson's willingness to take on daring challenges that stretch the limits of convention. However, it is the stunning presence of Spanish hottie newcomer Javier Beltran that carries the film, in a bravura performance of depth, passion and subtlety - with nary a limp wrist in sight. 

The film is a touching, sweet, deeply moving (if slightly slow moving) fictionalized portrayal  of a romantic liaison between Lorca and Dali, one which is never completely consummated sexually, except indirectly as Dali (a known voyeur in his later life) watches and masturbates to the scene of Lorca making love to a woman while gazing passionately into Dali's eyes. It's the most powerful scene in the film,  and suddenly everything I had always felt about the strange, eccentric, very 'gay acting' drag queen, Salvadore Dali, came into focus. The film suggests that Dali's later eccentricities stemmed from a deeply repressed obsession with Lorca from which he was never able entirely to free himself. Yet again, another deeply unhappy, repressed semi-gay man, acting out his fantasies in bizarre fashion while living a life of complete denial.

The film Little Ashes succeeds in dramatizing the possibility that the noble, passionate Lorca sees more deeply into the young Dali's true nature than Dali ever can.  
To be fair, nothing is completely certain about Dali's sexuality, he did have a life long relationship with the enigmatic Gala, whom he stole away from the surrealist poet, Paul Eluard, and whom he described as his muse.  Friends and observers have described Dali's relationship to Gala, however, as curiously asexual. Indeed,  the suggestions of repression are strong enough, making the suggestions of the film more than plausible. Here is his own late in life reflection on the alleged affair:
'He (Garcia Lorca) tried to screw me twice... I was extremely annoyed, because I wasn't homosexual, and I wasn't interested in giving in. Besides, it hurts. So nothing came of it. But I felt awfully flattered vis-à-vis the prestige. Deep down I felt that he was a great poet and that I owe him a tiny bit of the Divine Dali's asshole.'

Well, well, well - what comes across here, perhaps subliminally, is that Dali was not enough of a machismo hetero to refuse Lorca's advances. It actually reached the stage - more than once - where Dali realized penetration 'hurts.' As the film director, Paul Morrison, stated, "Clearly there was something more going on." 

There is something terribly sad about this story, when one reflects upon the fate of the great Garcia Lorca, and the eventual deterioration and corruption of the once talented Salvadore Dali. The film's suggestion that Dali's own repressed love for the great poet derailed him for the rest of his life and led partly to the demise of his own creativity as an artist, seeking fame and fortune instead of the purity of art- rings so tragically true. Love denied is sad, the love that dare not speak its name, possessed by the demons of self hate and self doubt. 

And the world spins on and old hates die and are reborn in new forms, while ever newer forms of life and spirit come to life as well and flourish for a time. Living here in Prague, I'm far from the whiff of sulphur coming from the American Church, and closer to the breath of fresh air now wafting from the Eternal City on the Tiber south of Prague. Which wind shall prevail. Only time shall tell

(Leaving the Tomb by Chinese artist He Qi)