Blood Drive

Post Revisited: Bloody Drive

Blood Drive

Graphic Credit: Greg Smith | The Los Angeles Loyolan

The Piece: Problematic exclusivity at blood drive
Original Publication: The Los Angeles Loyolan
Date of Publication: October 13, 2011

Background: In October 2011, I went to LMU’s biannual blood drive to give something back. (And get the fun colored gauze on my arm, because I’m a sucker for fun colors.) I hadn’t ever given blood before, so I had no idea what restrictions were placed on those who couldn’t give.

Conception: When I arrived at the drive and began filling out the form, I realized that my sexual orientation was an obstacle to me giving blood – any MSM (men who have sex with men) is legally prohibited from giving blood. I walked out of the drive bleary-eyed and confused. Why had I never heard of it before? And more importantly, why the hell did that restriction exist?

So I did my research and found that the law is highly contested in multiple parts of the world. And I wanted to say something publicly about it all. I hadn’t previously written for the Opinion section, but what better time than when you have something big to say?

Execution: Opinion isn’t the easiest thing to write well. It’s much harder than column writing, to be sure – it’s much less about the personality of the writer and much more about the well-developed argument. Having to cite statistics and articles in my narrative flow was disruptive and abnormal, so I took a different tact: I wrote the piece naturally, then went through and inserted all the information in the appropriate spots. That’s a strategy I still use today, from board editorials to other Opinion pieces.

One thing I haven’t mentioned was that at the time I wrote this piece, I was still pretty on the fence about how much I wanted my sexuality to define me as a writer. In fact, when it came time to write my next Opinion piece, about the It Gets Better project and bullying meme that was popular in the media at the moment, I had serious concerns that I was pigeonholing myself. However, it wasn’t ultimately much of a question whether I wanted to put my sexuality into the heart of this piece. It just didn’t work without the personal pain and anger.

Still, there are clear signs of my unease. For example, I never talk about my own sex life in the piece, nor do I ever actually identify myself as MSM or gay in the piece. I speak of my discomfort with the policy, but I don’t directly link it to me not being able to give blood.

Revisiting: If I had to rewrite it today, I wouldn’t be hesitant about drawing those connections. As a homosexual man, this policy horrifies me, and the fact that over one year later it still goes unchallenged is even more frightening. For all the focus on marriage equality and other crucial issues for the gay rights movement, it does floor me that no one is protesting this issue too loudly. It’s a disgusting, antiquated law, and it should be abolished posthaste. I say that not only as a gay man, but as someone who can see common sense. And that’s a point everyone can understand, no matter your gender, sexuality or creed.

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Black Swan

Post Revisited: Reflections of Black Swan

Black Swan

Photo Credit: YouTube | FoxSearchlight

The PieceIt Just Wants to be Perfect
Original Publication: Awkward is What We Aim For
Date of Publication: December 10, 2010

Background: From 2008 til 2011, I operated my own blog, Awkward is What We Aim For. While there are some things I really liked about it, ultimately it tread too much of the same ground as I eventually tread in my “It’s K-OK!” column for the Loyolan, so I let it fall into disuse after a while. Going back and reading it, I’m struck by how immature some of the writing is – if I ever go insane enough that I decide I want kids, AIWWAF is not going to be what I let them read first. Or ever.

However, there were a couple pieces I consider ‘important’ in my development as a writer, and I still hold them near and dear to my heart. So while these stories won’t be uploaded to KevinPatrickOKeeffe.com, I still want to revisit them.

Conception: I saw Black Swan on its official opening night: December 3, 2010. I had been dying to see it since the first trailer was released months before. You remember the one.


Still creepy.

I was blown away by the film, entranced by its tragic beauty. Even in the face of those who didn’t love it, I couldn’t help but rhapsodize about it on and on. Friends were getting overwhelmed when I’d talk to them about it, so I figured I should try and put my thoughts into writing. Thus “It Just Wants to be Perfect” was born.

Execution: What bugs me the most about this piece is its title! I make the very point that Black Swan doesn’t have to be technically perfect to achieve impact in the article, but in the title, I sacrificed accuracy for an allusion. See what I mean about the writing being immature?

Still, what I really appreciate about this piece is how in depth it is. I’ve attempted to follow up on these ideas since, but what’s in this piece are real, raw, unfiltered feelings mixed with analysis. I can’t quite get this deep into this particular movie again, which is a shame, because there’s so much to write about, talk about, digest.

Revisiting: Still, maybe that’s the best part about Black Swan: You can talk all day about it, but ultimately, the movie is such a work of art that it can stand on its own without much discussion. Black Swan still remains among my favorite movies, up there with Sunset Boulevard and The Devil Wears Prada, but while those works have a finite amount of facets to praise, I’ve yet to find a limit of all the different, wonderful things Black Swan does so well.

Ryan Gosling

Post Revisited: My Letter to Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The Piece: A letter to Ryan Gosling, national treasure
Original Publication: The Los Angeles Loyolan
Date of Publication: February 2, 2012

Background: I took over as the Loyolan’s Arts & Entertainment Editor in late September, with my first solo issue coming that October. From that first issue on, I wrote a column for the section called “It’s K-OK!” Generally, the theme of the column was ‘pop culture as lifestyle,’ but I deviated from that well once or twice, to say the least. This was one of those deviations.

Conception: At the end of January, Ryan Gosling was riding a wave of good publicity. Though he had missed earning an Oscar nomination for either Drive or The Ides of March, he was gaining a reputation as the hottest young actor working today. My actorcrush on him started with Half Nelson and bloomed into full-on actorlove with Fracture and Blue Valentine. The last year was a triple play of charm (Crazy, Stupid, Love.), savvy (The Ides of March) and undeniable appeal (Drive). Ryan had sealed his place in my heart.

I was about to transition into my new position as Managing Editor and, as a result, would be writing my column much less frequently. I decided to do something different for one of my last editions, and the result was my letter to Ryan.

Letter to Ryan

Design Credit: The Los Angeles Loyolan

Execution: Part of what I loved so much about putting this together was the design. Originally meant to just run like a regular column, a co-worker and I brainstormed to come up with a presentation where the letter would appear to have been printed on parchment — including my signature at the end. I was thrilled with how it looked, and it was the first hint of something the current Arts & Entertainment Editor at the Loyolan would really run with: engaging, thoughtful page design that used appealing graphics instead of static templates.

Revisiting: Admittedly, if I had to rewrite this piece, I would have put it out in October, in the heat of Ryan’s success. With the delay of his movie Gangster Squad to 2013, this year will go without a major Gosling release, and the spotlight has been shifted to fellow Emma Stone co-star Andrew Garfield for his work in The Amazing Spider-Man. Still, I’m firmly in Ryan’s corner — he’ll be back soon enough, and in a big way. I’m just glad I got to declare my love in such a creative, fun fashion.