Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Italian film director, poet, writer, actor and painter Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) was a highly controversial figure who was at the center of postwar European intellectual life. He was involved in 33 trials relating to scandals, censure and assorted controversies. He was also a defiant homosexual, visionary artist, a Catholic who was tried for insulting the Church, and a non-aligned Leftist.

Pasolini was born in Bologna and became a member of the Communist party in 1949, but his political enemies outed him as homosexual, resulting in his being expelled from the party. This ruined his career as a teacher, resulting in a move to Rome, where he wrote poetry and novels of high quality, although laced with obscenity, which brought on subsequent prosecutions. He favored scandal and going against the tide, with a willingness to shock.  Beginning in the 1960s he began writing plays while he was dabbling in film-making. It is for his films that he is remembered today.

While openly gay from the very start of his career, Pasolini rarely dealt with homosexuality in his movies. One of several exceptions was “Salò” (1975), made the last year of his life. Subtitled “The 120 Days of Sodom,” the film depicted the Marquis de Sade’s compendium of sexual horrors. His personal life, however, was jump started when at age forty he met the great love of his life, fifteen-year-old Ninetto Davoli in 1962. Pasolini cast him in his 1966 film “Uccellacci e uccellini” (The Hawks and the Sparrows). Even though their sexual relations lasted only a few years, Ninetto continued to live with Pasolini and was his constant companion, also appearing in six more of Pasolini’s films.

But all of this brilliance, sordidness and controversy was extinguished when Pasolini was just 53 years old. In 1975, in an act of gruesome cruelty, Pasolini was murdered by being run over several times with his own car on the beach at Ostia (the port of Rome). Seventeen-year-old hustler Giuseppi Pelosi, who was later spotted driving Pasolini’s car, was arrested and confessed to the murder. Pasolini’s body was marked by broken bones, crushed testicles and gasoline burns. Twenty-nine years later Pelosi retracted his confession, claiming that three people who denounced Pasolini as a “dirty communist” had committed the murder. New evidence indicated that Pasolini had been murdered by an extortionist, that several spools of the film Salò had been stolen (the film had not yet been released at the time of the murder), and that an eyewitness had seen a group of men pull Pasolini from his car, but the judges responsible for the investigation found that the new evidence did not justify a continued inquiry – this was Italy, after all! The crime has never been fully resolved.

Because so many of Pasolini’s films depicted a sexual and moral reality that did not reflect what society sanctioned, controversy was aroused at every turn. In addition to written works, a list of his films (1961-1975) can be found on Pasolini’s Wikipedia entry:

From San Francisco film critic Michael Guillen:

"Pasolini's cinema takes its inspiration from many sources: Renaissance painting, Romanticism, Freudian psychology, Italian neo-realism, ethnographic film-making, and music – his films share an affinity to musical structures and form. His aesthetic often rebuked traditional film grammar, opting instead for a spirit of experimentation. More often than not, he drew upon non-professional actors, casting peasants and urban youths who brought an authenticity and edginess to his narrative films. Behind the camera, Pasolini collaborated with top-notch film-makers, including cinematographers Tonino Delli Colli and Giuseppe Ruzzolini, costume designer Danilo Donati, and composer Ennio Morricone, often working with the crew on location, be it Syria, Yemen, or the impoverished outskirts of Rome. As a poet/film-maker, he spoke of his 'tendency always to see something sacred and mythic and epic in everything – even the most humdrum, simple and banal objects and events.' "

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Richard Grenell

Trump Nominates Openly Gay Man 
For Post as U.S. Ambassador to Germany

The White House announced that earlier this month President Trump had nominated openly gay Richard Grenell (b. 1966) for the post of U.S. ambassador to Germany, a position that requires Senate confirmation. The press release did not mention that Grenell is gay or that he was a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention last summer, but Grenell has experience in diplomacy. During the George W. Bush administration, he was the longest serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations, advising four U.S. ambassadors (2001-2008).

Grenell briefly served during the 2012 presidential election as a foreign policy spokesperson for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but resigned after less than two weeks amid pressure from social conservatives over his sexual orientation. An official of the American Family Association issued a statement at the time characterizing Grenell as a “gay activist” who would be trying to promote a “homosexual agenda.” Even so, Grenell was the first openly gay spokesman for a Republican presidential candidate.

Make of this what you will, but Grenell, who is under contract with Fox News, describes himself as a gay conservative Christian. After graduating from Evangel University, a Christian school affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination, Grenell earned an advanced degree from Harvard’s J. F. Kennedy School of Government. A member of the Log Cabin Republicans national organization, in 1995 he worked with Paul Ryan when both were congressional staffers on the same floor. Grenell has a same-sex partner of 15 years, Matt Lashey, who graduated from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. When serving under President Bush, Grenell tried to get his partner’s name listed in the U.N. “bluebook” directory, but the request was denied by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

While Grenell has endorsed same-sex marriage and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, he has expressed skepticism over the Student Non-Discrimination Act and former President Obama's 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors. Like Trump, Grenell is hostile to the press and often accuses reporters of biases that compromise their reporting. He also shares our president’s mean-spirited Twitter habit.

The post of U.S. Ambassador to Germany has been vacant since January 20, 2017 (inauguration day), when Trump ordered all non-career diplomats to vacate our embassies world wide, without replacements. The length of time our ambassador posts have sat vacant is unprecedented.

Your blogger doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Sources: Wikipedia, the Dallas Voice, and the Washington Blade.