NY Mirror

Such clarity of thought is extremely rare these days, especially since in the media, we're still pretty much the last frontier of legitimized prejudice. (Even last week's American Fashion Awards ceremony dabbled in fag jokes.) As is now legend, John Simoncomplained on The Charlie Rose Showthat, while fellow critic Ben Brantleylikes "the homosexual play," hedoesn't, adding that some dramas carry hidden gay messages that he finds especially repellent. Couldn't your gay skin just crawl? It's so true, Mr. Simon, they're totally taking over—homophobes, that is.

The gay-panic defense turned up again when the Postran a lighthearted gossip item about a scribe who's "quite the jokester." At a restaurant, this happy douche bag made a big scene banging his spoon on the table and shouting that he deserved a discount "because I'm the only one here who isn't a fag." This was all presented as if it were the height of levity and wit, which would never have been the case if the punch line had led to the N- or K-word.

Adding anguish to injury—if we can get to the realhorror—AIDS turned 20 this year, an unthinkable landmark accompanied by reports that infection rates have soared (though Andrew Sullivan denied them at length and partied on). Despite medical advances, the plague is still a guillotine-like reminder that not only are we second-class citizens, but we may be doomed anyway. Recently, I told Pozmagazine that, as the epidemic has dragged on and on, so have my grief, fury, anxiety, bouts with denial, and annoyance that gay life's become a terrifying sci-fi movie. Today I'm stunned to still be forced to care about this hideous cosmic joke. Happy birthday, AIDS, you fucking freak.

Out and about: nuzzling up for a month of Gay Pride
photo: Brian Finke
Out and about: nuzzling up for a month of Gay Pride

And happy Gay Pride Day, all! I hope I haven't depressed you.


For more on Pride, see the the Village Voice's Queer Issue.


Bonus!

Author-prankster J.T. LeRoy may have pulled off his ultimate stunt. The 21-year-old ex-hustler, who says he's not sure of his gender, made a splash last year with his novel, Sarah, and is now cagily promoting his new book, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. In order to preserve a sense of mystery, LeRoy generally does interviews by phone and rarely allows himself to be photographed. That's why it was so startling when photographer Mary Ellen Mark managed to capture him for the current Vanity Fair—or seemed to. The problem is, LeRoy is telling folks that the person Mark shot is actually not him at all; it's a female friend of his who purposely showed up for the session in a wig and mask. (When contacted for comment, Mark said, "It was J.T. His saying it wasn't is just his humor.")

Then again, LeRoy's been known to spread similar stories. He admits to having once circulated the rumor that a publicity photo of himself wasn't really him. Or was it?


Related articles:

"The Cult of J.T. LeRoy" by Joy Press


musto@villagevoice.com

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