September 2017 – Present

I currently work as a columnist for INTO, Grindr’s new LGBTQ+ magazine. I write primarily about RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as developing weekly essays on queer-themed TV shows like Rise and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. Additionally, I write a weekly movie column called “But How Gay Is It?”

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Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Resigns

After a weeklong controversy about a previous donation to an anti-LGBT cause, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has resigned his position.

In a blog post on the Firefox creators’ website, Mozilla said they hadn’t been true to themselves in their response to the controversy. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started,” the post said. “We’re sorry. We must do better.”

Eich found himself in a firestorm after sources dug up a donation he made to the Prop 8 campaign in California, supporting the measure that would later pass and dismantle marriage equality in the state. The news quickly caught fire with LGBT advocates, some of whom called for Eich’s removal. According to the post, Eich stepped down of his own accord.

“Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” the post said, reflecting on the “hard” bridging between standing up for both. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality.”

Eich previously said he would never resign over the controversy, calling it a “personal” donation that shouldn’t matter in his role.

“I don’t want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we’ve been going,” he told The Guardian.

Dating site OkCupid made news earlier this week by staging their private form of protest. Users who accessed the site from Firefox were greeted by a message asking them if they would instead access the site through another browser, like Google Chrome, Safari or, hilariously, “Internet Exploder.” Eich called OkCupid’s move “rash.”

In their post, Mozilla pledged to move forward with lessons learned. “We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission,” the post read. “We are stronger with you involved.”

Read some Twitter reactions to the news below.

https://twitter.com/DPD_/status/451811427561766912

Graphic Credit: Kevin O’Keeffe

Acceptance in sports: Not quite there yet

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Acceptance in sports: Not quite there yet – Los Angeles Loyolan.

In a country that once embraced gay-bashing and made bullying based on sexual orientation popular, it’s hard not to be proud of the recent swell of support for LGBT individuals in this country. Marriage equality is a cultural buzz phrase. The promise of the It Gets Better campaign seems to be coming true for so many young people growing into strong, confident individuals. And in the world of professional sports, NFL players are supposedly considering coming out.

Except, maybe they aren’t.

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, long on record as a marriage equality proponent, told the Baltimore Sun last week that he knew of “up to four players” in the NFL who were in talks to come out together.

“It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy,” he said. “It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”

An announcement like this was guaranteed to make waves and have LGBT advocates hopeful for real change. So of course, it took all of one day before Ayanbadejo started retracting his statement.

“Potentially, it’s possible, it’s fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, and break a story together,” he told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “And one of them had voiced that he would like to break his story with someone else and not do it alone. … Not all these athletes are in the NFL. Some are in other sports as well.”

He might as well have said, “Hey, so everything I said yesterday? Forget about it. Never mind. My bad.”

Such developments are disheartening, particularly when the world of professional sports could really use a big push forward on the path to acceptance.

Boston University Professor Robert Volk once called professional sports “the last bastion of homophobia.” While I think that’s inaccurate (I’m pretty sure Virginia, which recently passed the Crimes Against Nature law banning sodomy, has “last bastion” status locked down), it does reflect an ugly truth about the heteronormative culture of sports: Things aren’t changing as briskly as it may seem.

Yes, there are allies like Ayanbadejo and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe petitioning publicly for equal rights. And yes, there are plenty of teams, like the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants, that made It Gets Better videos to support victims of bullying due to LGBT status. But right now, all this amounts to is a more supportive public face. This begs the question: If this environment is so supportive, then why are gay players not coming out of the nearest closet they find?

The truth is that all the ‘It Gets Better’ messages in the world can’t take gay slurs out of locker rooms in a flash. The Ayanbadejos and Kluwes are incredible allies, but they are two men out of almost 2,000 in the NFL alone. Equality and acceptance are trending topics, but behind the curtain, we have no idea how well these values are truly espoused.

Athletes and pundits need to stop pretending everything is resolved already or engage in wishful thinking about groups of athletes about to come out of the closet. Instead, they should focus on tangible goals that will go a long way to creating the equal culture they so desperately want to believe is already here.In fact, professional sports figures would do well to pay attention to their college brethren. The NCAA took major steps forward with the release of “Champions of Respect,” its guide for creating a more accepting climate for LGBT individuals.

The guide is full of instructions and guidelines for working with LGBT athletes and coaches, it offers great suggestions for coaches and athletes, including educating themselves about LGBT issues in sports and monitoring the use of anti-gay slurs. These things may seem elementary to you and me, but for a culture that has long suffered from these issues, they really aren’t. If the guide is effectively implemented, it could signal real change in the college sports climate.

I get it, I really do: Equal rights for LGBT individuals are having a moment. I’m absolutely thrilled. The idea that we could see major steps forward on marriage equality as early as June is stunning to someone like me, a Texan kid who grew up wondering if there was anyone who understood how he really felt and would stand up for him. But attempting to catch up to the cultural trend in one fell swoop without going through the proper steps isn’t going to work. Equality is most effective when everyone understands not only the what, but the why.

Four professional athletes coming out together is an incredible idea, and one that, if it ever came to pass, would inspire so many LGBT individuals playing sports. But creating false hope, which I’m sure was not Ayanbadejo’s intention, doesn’t inspire, and it doesn’t really help create acceptance. Because the sports world isn’t there yet.

A different kind of Valentine

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: A different kind of Valentine – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Having a tough time finding that ‘perfect someone’ this Valentine’s Day? Bored with the ‘same old same old’? Do you feel like the opposite sex just isn’t cutting it anymore?

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge all straight-identifying, single Lions to try something new: experiment with the same sex. Sure, you may have never thought about it before, and it might not be your cup of tea. But maybe, just maybe, the idea has been there for a while, gestating in the back of your mind. You might be a lady harboring a girl crush on Mila Kunis. Or, maybe you’re a bro who secretly loves Ryan Gosling movies – or just Ryan Gosling.

Regardless of your past relationships, there’s no better time than now to shed your inhibitions and give experimentation a shot. Here are my top tips for all you single ladies and gents who are just a little bi-curious.

1. Don’t restrict yourself to experimenting at LMU.

Take it from a guy who’s attempted to date among the approximately six openly gay men on our little campus: You’re better off away from the bluff. If you’re of drinking age, heading to the bars around UCLA and USC can reap some long-term rewards.

Then again, if you’re bar hopping and only queer for the evening, why on earth are you wasting your time anywhere besides West Hollywood? Eleven, Micky’s and Gym Sportsbar are all distinctly different but great bars with different styles, meaning curious guys will be able to survey several different flavors of dude.

Ladies, your bar options are unfortunately slimmer, but you can try out the Palms Bar for an all-lesbian experience. Then again, girls can also go to pretty much any non-gay bar and find at least a dozen drunk women looking to get Sapphic. Y’all will be fine.

2. Master the eye language.

Despite what you might think, not every homosexual is trying to get into your pants. So, you’ll have to learn the lingo, but lucky for you, it’s all in the eyes.

Ladies, I unfortunately can’t speak to this as well for you as I can for men, but the biggest tip I can give is to never approach someone before locking eyes across the room. Why? It’s actually universal to all sexualities: Think about if someone you weren’t interested in was trying to make eye contact with you. What would you do? That’s right, you’d turn away. So, if the eye contact sticks, that’s your signal to dive in. Don’t worry about the chase – if you’ve kept up eye contact, he or she is definitely interested. Go for the gold.

3. Above all else, have an open mind.

Like I said, experimenting isn’t for everyone. Some people just aren’t into it. For others, it requires an openness that can be difficult to muster. But if you’re interested in trying things out, make sure to really commit to it. Flirt it up and have a good time. Worst-case scenario, you wake up in the morning and think, “Well, never doing that again.” At least you tried something different. And maybe, just maybe, you wake up with the number of someone wonderful you might never have expected to date. That’s the kind of dream most people would kill for on Valentine’s Day.

"Bros before 'mos"

Being the Straight Guys’ Gay Best Friend

"Bros before 'mos"

Photo Illustration Credit: Kevin O’Keeffe

I love straight men.

No, not that kind of love. That was high school. I love them in a bromance kind of way. Probably a good 95% of my male friends are heterosexual. And I love them all, despite my inability to understand their sexual viewpoint.

Conversely, I don’t love gay men very much. Again, not that way. I’ve loved one or two. I just don’t tend to get along with them. One of my best friends is gay, but beyond him, I don’t really interact well with other homosexuals. That’s pretty confusing, considering when I was in high school I envisioned my friend group in college as being a sexually-fluid tableau. Instead, it’s just a lot of heterosexuals.

Now let me be clear: this is totally fine! I wouldn’t trade my friend group for anyone else in the world. I’d rather have great friends from a homogenous group than shitty friends from a more diverse one. However, it’s not just me having trouble; it’s much more a general cultural problem. So I do find myself pondering the question: why do gay men have a hard time getting along?

This is a wild and irresponsible generalization, but take as gospel for the sake of this post that there are two types of gay guys: more masculine-thinking and more feminine-thinking. Again, this is a total generalization only to be used for the purposes of this article. Please do not ask the nearest homosexual if he is a masculine- or feminine-thinking person. He will not react well. Additionally, please know that masculine and feminine guys are not the same as masculine and feminine thinkers. Loosely defined, masculine thinkers are more logical and organized, while feminine thinkers are more impulsive and creative.

Got all that? Okay. Generally, I am a more masculine thinker, perhaps in no way moreso than when talking about sex and sexuality. Not only am I highly logical and organized, but I’m also totally honest about my sexual appetite. Suffice it to say, I really like men, will brazenly flirt with men (even straight men!) and generally just really like talking about it with others. While you might think that would put straight men off, I think that generally (yes, I know, I’m overdosing on the word “generally”), guys love to talk about sex, and they appreciate someone who is honest and comfortable with the subject.

Conversely, women generally prefer the more asexual, media-promoted image of a gay man, obsessed with fashion, pop culture and the other “safe” subjects. I’ve tried writing something about this in the past to no avail (it’s a sticky subject, to be sure), but suffice it to say that when a woman says she wants a gay best friend, it’s not because she wants to talk about sex with him. It’s because she wants him to tell her how fabulous she is, go shopping with her and watch “27 Dresses” while drinking wine on a Saturday night.

Personally, I do have some of these traits. I’m a “Project Runway” devotee, I love H&M and I will happily snap the hell up for a fierce-looking woman, but when it comes to how I define myself as a gay man, it’s much more about the gender of my desired sexual partners and much less about anything else. Even in my friendships with women, I make sure to draw the boundaries. While I will call them diva and quote “Mean Girls” all day with them, I also talk to them about men and my own needs. I would never befriend a woman who only seeks the asexual version of a gay man.

However, gay men in the more asexual mold generally don’t have nearly the rivalry with one another as men in the more masculine-thinking mold, leading to more friendships between them. Masculine-thinking gay men are on the whole much more competitive, definitely fracturing any possible connections. But what about between the two groups? Why aren’t there more friendships between masculine- and feminine-thinking gay men?

I’m hardly the first to break this news, but there is definitely a subconscious stigma of being “too gay” in our culture, leading us to more harshly judge those whom we deem more feminine or, to put it more crudely, fruity. It’s derogatory, demeaning, destructive and yet I’ve caught myself doing it plenty of times. It’s why we feel comfortable hurling the term “fag” at one another despite that when you think about it, you realize how horrendous it truly is. We should be building ourselves up, not tearing each other down. Yet we’re stuck in the same cycle.

Hence why I’m left with mostly heterosexual friends of both genders. And while I’m fine with the friends I have, I’d love to make more, with a variety of sexual identities.

I’m lucky to have the friends I do in my life, and if I told my high school self that I would be a proud, out gay man with tons of incredibly cool straight male friends, I would have been shocked. So snaps up to a culture of straight men who can embrace and love a gay man who is proud, because that’s a hell of a lot farther than we’ve been in the past. I just hope that we can reach the point where gay men can be friends without a stigma, without rivalry and without bias.