My grad school writing professor wanted me to prepare a manifesto to read aloud to the class. Here’s what I wrote.

Image by waldryano from Pixabay

I’ll tell you why the prospect of writing a manifesto for a class at a university is so dreadful. It’s because a manifesto is meant to convey the truth of its author. Yet academia does not welcome truth. In fact, in recent years it has evolved to discourage it. “There is no truth,” your professors will insist. “Only ways of knowing.” They will not explicitly state which ways of knowing are the right ones and which ways of knowing are the wrong ones, but the implication will be difficult to miss. And if it’s unclear, your classmates — or, rather…


Stephen Lovekin/WWD/REX/Shutters

Earlier today, when I noticed that the actress Rose Byrne was trending on Twitter, I figured it was for either one of two reasons: Byrne had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, or she was being dragged by the Moral Outrage Mob for some innocuous quote that was taken out of context. It turned out it was the latter.

In an interview published by Variety on Thursday, Marc Malkin spoke with Byrne about the FX show, Mrs. America. On the show Byrne plays the famed feminist rebel, Gloria Steinem. Starring opposite Byrne is Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, the notorious conservative…


It was 1990, the year of the Hubble Telescope and the World Wide Web, of Pretty Woman and Dick Tracy. It was the year of “Vogue.”

Madonna, modeling a pale pink confection of a gown in the style of Marie Antoinette, her white blond wig of curls piled high and topped with swan feathers, performed the hit single — named not for the fashion magazine but for a term often heard on the makeshift catwalks of Harlem drag balls — at the MTV VMAs in Los Angeles. No pop music performance would ever encapsulate modern (pre-postmodern) gay culture as successfully…


Quarantine from COVID-19 means screening the films I missed last year — and reading them to filth.

Octavia Spencer, in ‘Ma’

Bullying is wrong, people. Its victims suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Some even commit suicide. It’s just plain wrong.

But you already know that. You learned it from your parents, your teachers, and every after-school special that was ever made.

But did you also know that bullying causes homicidal mania?

Age regression?

How about Munchausen syndrome by proxy?

For Sue Ann Ellington (Octavia Spencer), a lonely veterinary technician, the psychological repercussions of the bullying she once endured as the only African-American student in her high school are endless. …


Irresponsible reporting like this guarantees a Trump victory in 2020

Washington Post

On December 13, David Smith, the Washington bureau chief of The Guardian tweeted, “Buttigieg: I trust you to figure out your own health care.”


By cancelling people on social media, we are cancelling ourselves

NBC

Comedian Michael Che is receiving backlash this week for jokes he made on Saturday Night Live about reports of a 67-year-old woman giving birth. Offended viewers took to Twitter, labeling Che’s comments ‘sexist’ and ‘ageist’ and calling for his removal from SNL. The controversy comes one week after Che received similar backlash for making Caitlyn Jenner’s 2015 gender transition the punchline of a joke in which he opined that the increasingly conservative rapper, Kanye West, “is turning into an old white lady.”

In respect to these controversies, Twitter users have predictably fallen into either one of two tribes: the tribe…


Brad Pitt gives a measured performance in a beautiful spectacle of a film that doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be

Francois Duhamel/Twentieth Century Fox

Here’s a conversation that seems to have occurred between director James Gray and screenwriter Ethan Gross, when they were devising the story for Ad Astra:

Gray: OK, so Brad Pitt is an astronaut who has to go to Mars so he can contact his astronaut father who may or may not be blowing up antimatter on Neptune and triggering energy waves that threaten to destroy the solar system.

Gross: Correct.

Gray: And until now he was convinced his dad was dead.

Gross: Yes. And they had a really screwed up relationship. …


For gay Gen Xers, perhaps it was Boy George’s beat face on the cover of a Culture Club album, or when Madonna humped her wedding veil at the VMAs. For today’s Gen-Z baby gays, those Shawn Mendes underwear ads have been pretty damn effective, and I’d bet good money there was a sharp uptick in coming-out convos with Mom and Dad during the week after Beychella.

For the thirty-something subset of gay Millennials like me, our sexuality was molded by the ’90s — the decade of grunge and heroin chic, Britney v. …


Seven weeks until Labor Day — just enough time to polish off these poignant, sophisticated, sexy titles.

The Sensitive Gay. You know who you are.

Your hero is your mom.

Your favorite movie is Steel Magnolias.

You scrapbook.

You journal.

You listen to goop podcasts.

You live-tweet Big Little Lies.

You also like to read. Mostly thrillers from Reese Witherspoon’s book club, or the occasional memoir about a Mormon’s coming out story.

But now you’re in search of something new. Something super gay, or at least gay enough to appeal to your feminine sensibility.

A book that will move you. A book that will expand your mind.

And, so long as we’re asking for things, a book…


When I was 21, I read Augusten Burroughs’ memoir, Dry, about the gay ad-agent-turned-writer’s recovery from alcoholism. My eyes blurred with tears as I turned the last page; I was less than a year into my own recovery, and I had never before identified so deeply with a writer — or, for that matter, with another man. I swiftly took to my computer to email Burroughs — “I’m gay and sober and a writer, too!” — making sure to attach a picture. He responded days later with a heartfelt message of appreciation. Plus he said I was cute.

Over the…

Ben Appel

Hairstylist turned writer. Married to a dude. Dad to a cat. Proud survivor of Christian fundamentalism, codependent mothering, and the ’90s.

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