WWE Wrestles With Gay Issue

March 28, 2011

I am an unapologetic pro wrestling fan. Oh, wait, sports entertainment fan. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) takes great pains in correcting journalists who label their product “professional wrestling”, as that is far too limiting in scope when you consider the long line of products (from movies to merch) that the family-friendly company offers.

But I’m not a journalist, I’m just a longtime fan since I was kid. Old habits are hard to break, so I’ll just call it “pro wrestling”. In fact, one of my dreams is to write for the company down the road, one this little HIV thing is cured.  It’s nice to keep up with the happenings by continuing to tune, so my transition from talking and writing about AIDS can be as seamless as possible.

Recently my beloved sport has run into a long-running issue: homophobia.  A couple of weeks ago, their biggest hero to children, John Cena, raised the ire of GLAAD when he delivered a speech aimed at the Rock. While rapping about his nemesis and his movie career, Cena joked that everyone knows that the Rock is more Brokeback Mountain than Witch Mountain.  See what he’s doing? He’s suggesting that the Rock isn’t a real man by insinuating that he is gay.

Aside from trying to diminish the value of a fellow fan-favorite by gay-baiting, Cena also targeted the company’s current champion and my 2008 Person of the Year, the purposefully arrogant Mike The Miz.  As the Miz stood in the ring with his lackey, Alex Riley, Cena smirked whilst wearing jorts and a trucker hat, telling a live crowd and TV audience of millions that Miz and Riley were partners in more ways than one.  Wink wink, nudge nudge.  That they shopped together at Bed, Bath & Beyond… I’d estimate that Cena’s biggest fans are between the ages of 8-12, what good does this kind of tactic do for them?

WWE issued an apology on Cena’s behalf, although the top star himself remained silent.  They said they value their gay fans and will work with GLAAD to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  See, in wrestling stars like Cena get a little more free reign on the mic, so it was a good move for GLAAD to explain to their heroes (and villains) why targeting gay people might make life for gay youth a living hell… because all gay teenagers need are classmates in jorts targeting them.

I was quite happy to see the immediate response from WWE about partnering with GLAAD. Whether they took a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond is unknown.

The honeymoon phase of the new partnership got off to a rocky start.  Via Twitter, the company’s top villain/announcer, Michael Cole, struck.  In a public message to a fellow broadcaster, he tweeted one word: “faggot”.  When TMZ helped to expose the situation, he posted a lame apology and the following, “I was not ordered to apologize I said I am sorry because I am. Now can I get back to being a character again please?”  He deleted this, along with the original post of “faggot”.  It seems to be his way of saying he tweets as his on-air persona, but he’d never dare to utter the word “faggot” on national television, so it’s a flimsy, thinly veiled excuse.

It’s not known whether or not he would have been forced to apologize.  I personally believe that WWE would have made him, as they can’t be pleased with the embarrassing behavior one week out from their biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania.  What is known is that, over the course of three weeks, the company’s top hero and heel found common ground when it came to stepping on not only their gay wrestling fans, but fans who are straight and get how damaging this kind of language and psychology can be.

Is it grown men pretending to kill each other?  Yes.  But with most of the onscreen time these days being dedicated to talking instead of wrestling, it’s just as important for the wrestlers and company to choose their words wisely.  One mistake in a match injures one or two people, but one mistake on the mic could prove physically harmful to many outside of the ring.

I’m hoping they get this all cleaned up by the time the cure rolls around and I start writing pro wrestling storylines for a living.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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Elizabeth Taylor: A Moving Star to the AIDS Community

March 24, 2011

liz-poz.jpgElizabeth Taylor is a legend for a far more important reason than pretending to be someone else while being filmed.

In the 1980′s, when this country and her own inner-circle of friends were beginning to see the harsh realities of AIDS and it’s unbearable stigma, she spoke out.  Also, she never stopped caring about people whose lives had been shaken by HIV, even as others in Hollywood moved on to more fashionable causes in the late 1990′s.

No, Liz stuck by us.

As her own health was failing, she would attend fundraisers and give moving speeches about the issues of HIV/AIDS, such as discrimination and homophobia.  If AIDS were a physical entity- and I think it’s helpful to think of it as such since HIV’s power is living in the silence of shadows- then it certainly picked a fight with the wrong person when it targeted Liz’s friend, Rock Hudson.

Ultimately, it was her honest and moving reaction to the moral backlash associated with a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV that made Liz a friend to all of us who are living with HIV.  And we’re surely going to miss our beloved friend.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Click the image above to read her 1997 interview with Poz magazine. Check out Sean Strub’s memories of how that interview came to be.

Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com Also check out the lovely Gwenn’s Fashion/Coffee Blog
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Republicans VS. Planned Parenthood

March 4, 2011

One of the reasons why I’ll probably never be able to cast a vote for a Republican is because of their views on sex, whether it’s institutionalized homophobia (in which they obsessively cannot get the sexual imagery of homosexual acts out of their minds- hmmmm) or their opposition to open dialogue about safer sex.

Here, the Daily Show explains the most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood by House Republicans, who should just stay out of the way and let PP talk to their teenagers about sex since they refuse to do so.

The Daily Show
Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

WeekDaily Blogging and I Dream of Bieber

February 12, 2011

So I’m loving this daily blog stuff. I enjoy passing along interesting bits of news and random stories to fill in for the general lack of excitement in my own life. And really, that’s kind of what blogging and social networking has evolved into- more of a sharing of information as well as a way to express ones self which is how it started.

But, one conclusion I have come to is that I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with 7 blog posts a week. I’d rather have a WeekDaily Blog than a Weak Daily Blog.  Of course, if anything urgent is happening or I have a particularly compelling dream on a Friday night that I must share, then sure, I’ll post something…

Like just this past week.  One of my favorite wrestlers these days, CM Punk, had an epic unplanned nosebleed on Monday Night Raw on live television.  The kind of gusher that took me back to my childhood with hemophilia.  He soldiered through it during the whole bit- which involved scrapping with Randy Orton (whose clumsy lunge caused the unintentional damage).  Well, that nosebleed made it into my dream, only it wasn’t CM Punk who was sporting it.  I was having a talk with another wrestler, Edge, when Justin Bieber turns up- with a massive nosebleed.

Strange, huh?

OK, so maybe I won’t be posting about my dreams on the weekend.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a great Saturday afternoon.  Me?  I’m about to go get an iced mocha.  I know, big surprise.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

A big thank you to my weekend mocha sponsors: Joyce Anderson and Lauren Hoffman, who gave me a welcome home mocha on Friday after Gwenn and I returned from a trip to snowy Kansas City this week.  Thanks, ladies!

Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com
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In Depth Super Bowl Analysis (via Twitter)

February 6, 2011

twitter-superbowl-update.jpgFor more real-time musings and outbursts of anger, click on the tweet above and follow me on Twitter.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com
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Would You Eat a Condom for a Good Cause?

February 4, 2011

Saw this on Bob Bower’s newsfeed over on Facebook, and just had to share the link.  “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung created a dish called “Sex on the Beach”, and it’s entirely edible, with proceeds going to an AIDS organization in Hong Kong where it’s available.  Read the article here: you gotta see it to believe it.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com
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MegaPython VS. Gatoroid- Tonite!

January 29, 2011

It can’t be all AIDS, or all me, all the time on this blog.  Sometimes a light- even if it’s a pin light- must be shown on other things… and tonight, on the SyFy Network, something magical is happening.  1980′s teen pop icons Tiffany and Debbie Gibson are starring in… MegaPython VS. Gatoroid!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a sneak peak of the icons wrestling in the movie.

Oh yeah!

Gwenn doesn’t know it yet, but this is what we are doing tonight…

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com
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Black Swan and HIV

January 25, 2011

I finally managed to see Black Swan, which is one of those movies I was excited to see until it got overexposed, as if something popular somehow loses it’s ability to be any good.  That just isn’t true, but my subconscious movie buzz does seem to suffer if I hear too much about a movie before seeing it, or see too much when a trailer reveals every decent scene or character’s intention.

So, consider this sentence my spoiler alert.  SPOILER ALERT. There, that’s better.

Not much to spoil by now.  Black Swan is the tale of a dancer, Natalie Portman, trying to make the best of a wonderful opportunity as the lead in Swan Lake.  Since my blog really shines when I make everything about HIV, I’ll focus on why this movie is really about new HIV infections…

huh?

Portman’s character is a very sheltered young woman, probably in her early twenties.  She still lives with mom, has a lot of dolls in her room and even a little ballerina music box by her bed.  As she becomes obsessed with her new role and strives for perfection, she rebels against her coddling mother and her own self-image by cutting loose one evening with a fellow dancer.  Things get way out of hand, and Portman is left the next day with a hangover and wondering whether or not she slept with two men or her friend.

Or all of them.

Oh, and mom- she’s really pissed off, too.

Her character’s dramatic metamorphosis from sheltered girl to risk-taking party animal does provide a glimpse into how quickly a sexual awakening can occur.  In terms of HIV, there’s an assumption that the newly infected, particularly if they are under the age of 24, are all just wild party animals asking for trouble. But it only takes that one weekend of dropping your guard- or a pill into your drink as Portman’s character did- to put yourself at risk..

The movie made me think: a lot of parents lock their children up, thinking it will keep them safe from the world.  But you can’t lock a human’s own humanity out of them.  Those thoughts and a curiosity about sex are going to happen, and the best way to protect them is sharing important information at each appropriate place during their emotional development.  I can’t imagine it’s easy to figure out the right time to have the right conversations, but a gradual building of trust and a comfortable and non-judgmental attitude about talking about sex shouldn’t be as hard as it seems to be for a lot of folks.  The idea should be to create that trust, and hope the child comes to you with those questions instead of just firing out lectures hoping that one or two take.

There’s no follow-up on whether there were any consequences to that wild night in the movie, of course, but it did make me think as an HIV educator.  When sex education in public schools has been removed, and parents in general aren’t having the conversations they need to be having to fill in those gaps, what can be done to make people less inclined to engage in risky behaviors as a way of discovering the unnecessarily guilty pleasures of sex?  

The whole issue of sexual health isn’t a black swan, or a white swan.  It’s gray. And by sharing our own experiences (as positoids and negatoids, and also as parents who were once teenagers and need to remember that) we can help each other add some color to that dreary gray swan.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com
Also check out the lovely Gwenn’s Fashion/Coffee Blog

My CD, Synthetic Division, A Symptom of Life, is on iTunes!

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