Kiss Me, I’m Asian

If you’ve never heard of grindr, ask your local smartphone-owning homosexual for the lowdown. Like some gay hybrid of a GPS, personals section and neighbourhood beat, Grindr pinpoints your location and presents you with photos of nearby men. Naturally, Grindr users all look for different things: hairy/smooth, slim/athletic. Many also state what they’re avoiding. “No femmes,” say some. “No fat, no old,” say others. “No Asians.” That last one – “No Asians” – comes up a lot. Which is to say, they’re avoiding guys like me.

Setting up a Grindr profile is easy. My rules are simple: my profile will show my bare torso, but not my face – nothing to indicate race. Within minutes, a Caucasian man, whose face I can only describe as vaguely potato-ish, starts chatting to me. He has no username, but his listed age is 31. After pleasant banter, the conversation veers, of course, to my nipples. Continue reading

I Went to a Laundromat and This is What I Saw

Our parents told us to never air our dirty laundry in public, but what choice do we have at the laundromat? It’s Sunday afternoon at the Coin Laundromat in inner Brisbane’s New Farm, on the corner of Brunswick and Harcourt streets, and people from blocks away have flocked here to get their clothes in order for the week ahead. On a black slab of a table that dominates the room, I am forced to join my fellow launderers in quietly but fervently sorting through our stains and shames: the End-of- Fortnight Underwear; the Bedsheets of Doom; the Yellow-Patched Gym Gear from Hell.

If you’ve lived in Brisbane long enough, you’ll know this laundromat is legendary for all the wrong reasons. When I first moved here a decade ago, working girls could be found hanging around outside at night, trawling for clients. Across the road, a sprawling household of artists and filmmakers would watch over the women – sometimes taking notes about which girl went off with which client; keeping track of the women’s safety, at least in an ad hoc way. Continue reading

I Went to a Laundromat, And This Is What I Saw

Our parents told us to never air our dirty laundry in public, but what choice do we have at the laundromat? It’s Sunday afternoon at the Fortitude Valley’s Coin Laundry, and people from blocks away have descended here to get their clothes in order for the week ahead. On a black slab of a table that dominates the room, I am forced to join my fellow launderers in quietly but fervently sorting through our various stains and shames: the End-of-Fortnight Underwear; the Bedsheets of Doom; the Yellow-Patched Gym Gear from Hell.

If you’ve lived in Brisbane long enough, you’ll know this laundromat is legendary for all the wrong reasons. When I first moved here a decade ago, working girls could always be found hanging outside at all hours of night, waiting for clients. Across the road, a sprawling household of artists and filmmakers would watch over the women at night, sometimes taking notes about which girl went off with which client, to keep track of the women’s safety, at least in an ad-hoc way. Continue reading

Here Be Haters

Something weird happened to me recently that involved right-wing conservative columnist Andrew Bolt. Don’t worry, it wasn’t sexual (or at least as far as I remember). Calling it a “fight” sounds too intense; calling it a “debate” sounds too scholarly. No, what transpired was a battle of minds, people. Instead of using our fists, we used our words! Instead of violence, we resorted to intellect! Rather than locking swords, we locked tongues and okay this sentence has become unexpectedly disgusting and I will end it now.

Anyway, long story short: Andrew Bolt wrote a column, I wrote a column in response, he accused me of provoking my readers to violence against him and then called me “a gay with comprehension issues”. Which I actually thought sounded quite cute, like I was someone who had a fabulous learning disability. But what happened next was like a scene from The Return of the King. Darkness descended, orcs swarmed over the hills and suddenly there were screeching wraiths in the air. All I’ll say is there really is no greater hive of scum and villainy than a News Limited website comments page. And once you have Andrew Bolt targetting you, the Public of Australia—Norm from Shailer Park; Beryl from Clapham—begin to bay for your blood. Continue reading

Same-sex Union: Sydney’s Champion Gay Rugby Team

Seven pm and the Bondi sun is still caressing surfers, bikini girls and topless males pulling up from their cliff-top runs. Near the lifeguard tower, 30 men have gathered for their twice-weekly rugby training. The men have nicknames suited to the game, or prison – Jay-Z, Killer, Jumbo, Fezbot, Big Girl – and range in age from 18 to 50-plus. Nearly all of them are gay.

Don’t act so surprised. Any gay man will tell you that out of all the ball sports, rugby is particularly laden with homoerotic innuendo. It’s not just the shorts. There’s the language, too: ‘hookers’, ‘tackle’ and ‘back line’. Men constantly ‘go down’. When players lock shoulders for a scrum, they position their butts at provocative angles before man-handling each other like Greco-Roman wrestlers. One member of this rugby team – sidelined because of a wrist injury – tells me that whenever he got into this position in high school, he’d have to think hard of something soft. Continue reading