“One of Us?” Not As Much…On Fatboy Slim’s Queer Behavior

“The most ironic thing is that most of what we do was invented by black, gay Americans in the first place.”

– Fatboy Slim, on EDM / House Music

Fatboy Slim: Queer…or Just European?

Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) is not one to dither around or dilly-dally when it comes to sonic expansiveness and creative perception. While serving as producer, writer or DJ, Fatboy “Jack-of-All-Genres” Slim happily bounces from genre to genre to suit each new mood, project or opportunity. His range of landscapes at-play include Independent Pop, British Hip Hop and House, Big Beat and Dance music, naturally.

Born Quentin Cook, this UK underground boy gone massive came from punk rock beginnings and scruffy indie aesthetics before heading away to college in Brighton, then segueing into club and DJ culture.

Cook enjoyed a brief stint as the bassist for UK alt-pop outfit The Housemartins and experienced his first dash of fame during the band’s “Happy Hour” phase. Soon enough, Cook worked his way back to clubbing and DJ’ing, finally gaining a critical mass of attention and fans with his production and mashup skills, and eventually coming into his own with the fame and success of the hypnotic tracks “Praise You” and “The Rockafeller Skank.”

Some lads hear it more than others, but the “Is He Gay or Just European?” trope prevails in a culture where a metrosexual is a term the British media coined to describe a distinctly European look, sensibility and sexual fluidity (often but not always attached to disposable income and class). Such themes include but are not limited to: effeminate fashion, unisex/asexual presentation and (ahem) sexual experimentation or fluidity. The fact that all metrosexual men are “straight” is of course hogwash. Too–more and more, youth culture refuses to “pick a team” or define themselves by any label whatsoever.

So now, we have the news that Fatboy Slim is a regular Pride entertainer, a staunch LGBTQ advocate, and has ‘experimented with’ men sexually.

If you’d hear it from Cook himself, it’s N.B.D., but perhaps of some interest: back in 2004, Fatboy Slim told the press, “Well, everyone’s had one try-out experience, haven’t they?”

On his relationship with wife Zoe Bell, Fatboy Slim went on, “Me and Zoe have always been convinced [our son is] gay anyway.”

The fact that such goings on were mostly laughed off and minimized typifies the sexual fluidity that is our shared human experience. In less of a “bi-chic” moment and more of a “yeah, that happened” moment, Cook’s language wasn’t quite politically correct but his sentiment speaks to a nonchalance that reveals how natural and fluid sexuality is.

Is this something we can or should ignore?

Being that Fatboy Slim’s son’s still of a tender age, Cook may be keeping laser-point specifics of his son’s life private and deflecting the concept of queering personal life or relationships. However last year, Cook told Pink News UK his that supporting equal marriage is a ‘no brainer’ and revealed, “I talk about the issue with my son.”

Cook, who’s done much education and advocacy work for local young artists in his hometown, once performed at the Terrace Bar of the House of Commons to support even more community-based music initiatives for youth. By having done so, could he be, however subconsciously, helping to open the minds of UK lawmakers to queer culture, sexually fluid living and LGBTQ art and iconography?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, are Fatboy Slim’s remarks about his own ‘sexual experimentation’ dismissive…or “normal?”

In essence, you cannot un-queer yourself, culturally or sexually. What’s definitive here is that Cook is decidedly an ally. And for the time being, the rest is none of our “B.I.-IZ-NESS.”

Have a nosh on the concept while you nod your head to Fatboy Slim’s video, “Weapon of Choice” feat. Christopher Walken.  (Yes, Hunty’s: come back and share your thoughts with us after the jump-off.)

 

 

“Moscow Is Not Sodom:” Valeriya, Russia’s Madonna, Worries About Gay Propaganda

| “ RT @BBCNewsnight: Russian Singer Valeriya Perfilova says she worries about..influence of ‘gay propaganda’ on her children #newsnight ” |

Don’t Tell Me.” I Won’t Ask You.

Gay? Out? Don’t tell Valeriya about it. The living, thriving spirit of Pussy Riot continues to push the dialogue forward and keep LGBTQIA rights, allies’ rights and progressive activism in the planet’s consciousness.

In what’s being called a new gay holocaust, Russia’s resurgence of anti-gay sentiment (including myriad anti-gay/anti-ally/anti-activism laws) continues to change hands and to be bandied about by various talking heads. The revolving door of anti-gay rhetoric moves from the streets to the legislature to celebrity mouthpieces and back again.

One of the more prominent voices fearful of “gay propaganda” is Valeriya Perfilova, considered by many to be Russia’s version of Madonna. The singer directly benefits from (but does not publicly acknowledge) the love of her LGBTQ fans.

 

Using the Word “Propaganda” As Propaganda

Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Perfilova is mainly known by her one-name moniker (see: Cher, Madonna) Valeriya. In her press materials, she appropriates much of Madonna’s heat, style and vibe—but somehow, she manages to kick the gay-friendly part of Madonnaisms to the curb. This is particularly unfortunate, as the singer’s a domestic abuse survivor and her body of work does much to buoy the spirits of female abuse survivors (all the while redirecting abusive behaviors toward another culture).

In a June 2013 broadcast with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Russian gay activist Anton Krasovsky, Valeriya championed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-esque” viewpoint, towing the party line that LGBTQ persons should not be seen or heard as such.

Regarding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, Valeriya began:

“It was funny to me, because it’s nothing to do with politics. Being the mother of three children, I approve this [anti-gay] bill… I don’t want to meddle with other people’s lives. I don’t care what they do behind their doors. But I do care about my children’s bringing up [i.e. upbringing]…. The vast majority of people in Russia, 88 percent of people, support the ban of homosexuality propaganda. That’s a fact. And this bill responds to people’s demand. That’s all.”

 

L.W.Q: Living While Queer & Beingness As Illegal

Here’s a bit of a backgrounder: in January of this year, former Russian TV journalist and presenter Anton Krasovsky came out on Russian television and was fired immediately thereafter.

Now, back to Newsnight—during the BBC television broadcast, Krasovsky brought forth the idea—and his lived experience—that essentially now in Russia, it’s illegal to be gay.

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Krasovsky couldn’t hold back the irony of the situation:

“I’m glad that that situation is funny for Valeriya,” he responded. “But it’s not fun for me. I think it’s against me. Against my family. Against all gay people in Russia…. From today, I cannot say that I’m gay and I’m the same human being…like all of you. From today, I’ll have to pay for this. From a hundred to two-thousand pounds. Because these words could be taken as propaganda.”

The beingness of gay life, being LGBTQ, being a questioning soul, being LGBTQ and out, or even advocating for those who are—in Krasovsky’s experience and in his own words, now this is a crime in and of itself, no matter what one does or does not do. It’s about the beingness now. Beyond being a thought-crime, this is L.W.Q. “living while queer.”

Illegal.

 

Some of My Best Friends Are Gay…

Ironies continue to prevail. In 2008, Valeriya became a goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency to combat human trafficking. She’s been bequeathed with honors and endorsement deals from Avon, from a custom perfumier, from MuzTV and MTV Russia. She was awarded the title of “Honoured Artiste of Russia” by Putin, and has been cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most highly-paid people in movie, sport, literature and music.

All this to say her platform and audience is immense, and the Russian government is using her star power to their full advantage.

During Newsnight Valeriya continued, “I have a lot of friends who belong to gay society, and they do not support their unisexual marriages. They would never take part in gay parades. They’re just normal people. They do their business…. are still working on TV, the media. I don’t know why it happened to you [Anton].”

But of course, the “friends” are not out—or as Anton Krasovsky put it, they are not “open gays.”

To watch the full video, visit the YouTube link below.

BBC News – What gay ‘propaganda’ vote tells us about Russia Today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KfROu8AaU

Connect with Anton Krasovsky at @krasovkin and share your thoughts with BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight.

 

Transphobic Tragicomedy: Paris Lees Chats With Jonathan Ross

Are Transphobic Jokes Ever Funny? On Paris Lees’ Trans-Empowerment Chat

Have you seen the YouTube dialogue between Paris Lees and Jonathan Ross?

Have a look and check it out: it comes highly-recommended.

In the video created for META,  Lees calmly and compassionately extends a hand to Ross in regard to prior insensitive remarks he’d made about transgendered individuals. First, he’d made a “lady boy airline” joke, then he mishandled social media responses with yet another quip he thought was funny. (When a fellow tweeter called him out on Twitter, he’d answered, “Lighten up. Sir. Madam. Whatever,” prior to making a quick knee-jerk apology.)

As we walk through Lees’ and Ross’ shared and very public video chat, we do see Ross searching for understanding about as he finds ways to personalize what being trans* means. (Example: citing the fact that his daughter is gay – it’s closer to but somewhat wide of the mark).

Paris Lees talks him through the proper way to communicate with and about LGBTQ folks, and trans* folks in particular, from a place of agency, and from her own knowledge and lived experience. All the while, he’s allowed the space to, essentially, brain dump as he moves toward fully embodied accountability.

The fact that the conversation has to do with comedic comments and Ross’ impressions about them provides a teaching moment that could have easily become inflamed, but Lees’ focus in her advocacy work has to do with centeredness, harmony and education. She’s been quoted in the press as being desirous to advocate for others in encouraging ways, making activism relationship-focused, easy as ‘having a chat and a bit of tea,’ and more accessible than accusatory (paraphrased).

While Lees’ viewpoint doesn’t provide others any wiggle room or space for excuses, it puts people at ease who could become unwitting allies and widen the platform for advocacy work simply by correcting themselves in public.

Kudos to Paris and to Jonathan as well—not only for having this conversation, but for sharing it in a public medium.

By video’s end, one does get the feeling that Ross has left the conversation changed—or that, at least, he’ll do double-check before he pens and delivers his next barbs.

To find out more about UK trans* resources or Paris Lees’ advocacy and creative work (additionally, she’s the editor of META magazine), please visit the links below.

Paris Lees’ Trans Empowerment Recommendations

Paris Lees’ Advocacy Site, All About Trans

META Magazine

Paris Lees at YouTube

Trans Media Watch

The Gender Trust

Trans Media Action

TransLondon

To discover and learn more about trans culture in the UK, please visit Paris Lees’ official homepage – Note: website resources in this article were also sourced from Paris Lees’ official homepage – ParisLees.com.

When’s the last time you heard a transphobic joke, and what was it? How did you react?

Get Your Superpowers On: It’s Liverpool Pride’s Fab, New Superhero Theme

Superheroes, Represent: Liverpool Pride’s Workin’ It With A Fab, New Superhero Theme

Liverpool Pride is coming! (But doesn’t “Superheroes Ball” have an awesome ring to it?)

So tell us, superheroes: will you be flying to the Superheroes Ball in Liverpool, or teleporting?

As the second largest LGBTQI pride event in the UK (with London as the first), Liverpool Pride is happening on August 3 this year, and they’re calling all  “Family” and friends with magical rainbow powers (and those who love them)  to convene for this special superhero-themed queer fete.

Expecting record attendance numbers, the Liverpool Pride organization committee anticipates 50,000-plus caped crusaders and Super-Friends are expected to make their way to Liverpool this year to participate.

James Davies, Festival Manager for Liverpool Pride, told Liverpool Life:  “Every year brings new challenges and often it’s our community that comes up with the most creative ideas – that’s why we’ve always asked the public to choose their theme.”

He continued, “Last year’s Nautical But Nice theme was taken to heart by the community with thousands dressing up as sailors, pirates and all kinds of sea creatures and at least two boats. With Bonnie Tyler as this year’s UK Eurovision contender I’m delighted that our Pride community will bring her over 50,000 heroes this August.”

Time to get your super-gay superhero playlists ready—whether you can make it there or you’ll be there in spirit—here are a few sweet ideas. How about you plop these on over into your iPod?

We Don’t Need Another Hero – Tina Turner

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

I’m Not Your Superwoman – Karyn White

Holding Out for A Hero – Bonnie Tyler

Hero – Chad Kroeger

Spider Man – The Ramones

Flash Gordon Theme – Queen

Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

Young James Dean – Girlyman

Supermodel of the World – RuPaul

Batdance – Prince

Blade – KRS-One

Superhero – Ani Difranco

Singer Shine Your Light – Namoli Brennet –

Jimmy Olsen’s Blues (Pocketful of Kryptonite) – Spin Doctors

Any other suggestions? Well, we do have a couple…

If you can make it there, don’t take the superhero theme so literally. That way, we’ll see suited-up and costumed versions of folks like Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Marsha P. Johnson and much, much more.

Every hero counts.

Kick all y’alls secret identities to the curb, get out there and save some lives with gear and glam, glitter and grease. Why? ‘Cause this is what Pride looks like: it takes a superhero to be live their life with pride.

Find out more about the event at the official website:  http://www.liverpoolpride.co.uk

If you can make your way there, what superhero will you arrive as? And avec cape, or au naturel?