Over New Years, I was in San Francisco for a week. I had the choice of staying with a straight couple with cats or a gay couple with a dog. I opted for the straight cat-owners, who live in the hip-but-affordable area of the city known as “the Mission.” By the end of trip, I had moved in with the homosexual dog-owners.
The truth is, I am horribly allergic to cats. This in NO WAY MEANS that I, a fag hag, am also allergic to the straight coupled lifestyle. Although, well, maybe — ahem…. Sorry, what was I saying?
But yes, I am genetically pre-dispositioned to sneeze when I am near cats, just as I am genetically predispositioned to HATE CILANTRO because it is EVIL. (For you Brits, cilantro = coriander.) And so after three days and nights of watery eyes and non-stop sneezing, I had to move in with a lovely gay couple and their fabulous rescue dog.
Now on the last day of 2010, I accompanied my cat-owning friend and her boyfriend to one of those fashionable San Francisco boutique bike shops in the Mission, where can you mix and match the various colored parts of your very own made-to-order designer bike. While they spent the better part of an hour designing a mock-up of a $1300 bike, I wandered into the curious store next door, which prides itself in selling a “nostalgic assortment of Toys and Games inspired by the Natural World and the Pre-digital era.”
This strikes me as an odd niche to specialize in. As honorable as its intentions, I doubt how much a nine-year-old will appreciate his very own nostalgic Victorian wind-up monkey when all his friends are virtual-jetskiing on their Wii systems. But maybe in San Francisco.
Curiouser yet was the “vegan taxidermy” on display at the front of the store. The creator of said vegan taxidermy had somehow used plant materials to build very lifelike models of extinct birds, such as the dodo, the passenger pigeon, etc. Placards explained the sad demise of each species of bird, no doubt providing a poignant commentary on the role we wicked humans play in sealing the fate of other animal species through our wasteful consumption and pollution.
However, there was one bird species on display which had not yet become extinct. This was the black swan. Here I found a rather bizarre placard:
“An estimated one-quarter of all pairings are homosexual, mostly between males. They steal nests, or form temporary threesomes with females to obtain eggs, driving away the female after she lays the eggs.”
What?! When I first saw this, I had to make sure I wasn’t tripping. (It was San Francisco, after all.) Initially, I wondered if there was a homophobic subtext to this placard, as if to say: “Watch out for gay couples. They will try to steal your kids.” But wait — it was San Francisco, after all. So more likely the store owner, vegan taxidermist, and clientele would be gay or gay-friendly.
In which case, these foregrounded details on the black swan lifestyle had a different purpose. As if to say: “See, look, homosexual behavior occurs in nature too! And if they could, gay black swan couples would also try to hire a surrogate mother… only they can’t, so they just have threesomes and scare the woman away afterwards.”
Some scientists believe that the off-spring of homosexual black swan couples survive better than those of heterosexual pairings. And black swans are only one in hundreds of animal species which demonstrate homosexual behavior. Others include sheep (easily impressionable), dolphins (see, look, intelligent!), lions (virile!), and of course, our highly-sexed fellow primates, the bonobos (will sleep with anything!). There are a number of scientific books on homosexual behavior in animals, and one such book was even cited in a legal brief submitted to the US Supreme Court in the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003, as evidence that homosexuality is not, in fact, “a sin against nature.” As a result of that case, sodomy laws were eventually struck down in Texas and 13 other states. So score one for the homosexuals!
However, anti-gay rights groups often easily turn that argument around and claim that because homosexual behavior occurs in the animal world, this is proof that homosexuality is animalistic, and therefore un-befitting of humans. Score one for the homophobes!
Now to take things further, I’ll also mention the current film Black Swan by the indie wunderkind Darren Aronofsky. I’ve seen it, and since this is not a movie column, I’m not going to review it right here. But there is of course a homosexual undercurrent running throughout the film, culminating in a notorious lesbian make-out scene between rival ballerinas Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. (Steady now, straight male readers.)
Maybe this scene was only there for titillation, a sort of arthouse “Girls Gone Wild” masquerading under Freudian psychodrama. But in the context of the film, this scene is Natalie Portman’s repressed fantasy, so deeply has she hidden her (homo)sexual desires in her strict, disciplined lifestyle as a perfectionist ballerina. According to pervy-but-French ballet master Vincent Cassel, it is these desires which she needs to embrace if she wants to successfully dance the role of the evil seductive Black Swan on stage.
Black Swan lays on the dualities very thick. It’s full of doppelgangers, evil twins, mirrors, all that stuff. White Swan is virginal, timid, innocent Natalie Portman. Black Swan is sexy, confident, tattooed Mila Kunis (whose character comes from crazy, experimental San Francisco). By the end of the movie, Natalie Portman’s increasingly psychotic character has sprouted black swan wings and taken metaphorical flight.
Has she become evil? Has she become sexual? Has she become homosexual? Will she try to steal an egg from a straight couple and raise it as her own perfect little anorexic ballerina?
I don’t think the film is so reductionist as to claim that Black Swan = evil = homosexual. This is Aronofsky, not Palin, after all. But the concept of his Black Swan is about embracing sexuality, and perhaps accepting those instinctive drives which were so drummed out by hours of sadistic ballet training or any kind of disciplined, repressive socialization.
In which case we can conclude….homosexual behavior is naturally occurring among classical ballerinas! And Navy recruits! But it is, too, among prison inmates! And dog-owners!
In fact, it’s everywhere! Whether you repress it or not! So the homophobes will just have to learn to live with that.
Most San Franciscans these days have learned to live with that. And realized that homosexuality is perfectly natural. In fact, as natural as being allergic to cats. Is it a sin against nature to be allergic to cats, to be genetically pre-dispositioned to sneeze around cats, the way some boys are genetically pre-dispositioned to get hard around other boys? Of course not.
Now, I’ll tell you what’s a sin against nature. CILANTRO. That shit is evil.