Student CAMP: Nookie Books
|by Kristen Minor|
|This year in school I have done quite a bit of traveling. I have visited New York City, Boston, Montreal, and scenic White River Junction, Vermont. In my travels I have found many examples of a venerable gay institution: the gay bookstore.
My favorite bookstore remains Rehoboth's own Lambda Rising, but I find that all gay bookstores have several things in common. They are lifelines to the larger GLBT community. They are social gathering spaces, valuable resources, and statements of visibility. Also, they have porn.
Within mere paces of the front entrance of any gay bookstore is the magazine rack. It has the standard news magazines. Most of the ink and gloss, however, is used for porn. And most of it is for men.
Black Inches. Latin Inches. Freshman Inches. Inches 'R Us.
It seems to be all about inches. I was quite disappointed when I discovered Canadian porn mags aren't called Centimeters.
In this wash of pornography, there is less than a handful of lesbian magazines. (Ooh, that was a bad pun. I didn't mean it.) While men seem to be all about divergent markets, lesbian
pornography magazines are so broad-based that it can be a little off putting. I have yet to meet a lesbian who, while flipping through a lesbian porn magazine, hasn't been mildly terrified at least once. In fact, reactions seem to range from mild terror to a serious consideration of inducing amnesia.
When I was explaining this to one of my heterosexual friends, he pointed out that there was more lesbian porn than you could shake a pair of handcuffs at, much of it on the internet. I think, however, that most lesbians wouldn't consider that lesbian porn. Somewhere around 95% of "lesbian" porn is made by and for straight men. I'm sure that if Joe Clueless were to actually watch bona fide lesbians engage in bedroom activities (for example, chatting over herbal tea) that he would expect everyone to suddenly develop much bigger hair.
Besides, the actresses in porn movies are simply disturbing.
I cannot fathom why someone would want implants. One of these days there will be a nuclear accident in Los Angeles and scores of women will suddenly have sentient beings in their chests. Or at least fairly powerful computers.
So the vast majority of porn is for men. This undoubtedly says something deep and relevant about gender differences, but I am too busy thinking about niche markets. (Coming soon! Multi-pierced Hispanic Pagan Inches!) Humble readers, if you might buy just one less porn magazine a month, I could pay my college tuition. Donations should be sent via CAMP.
There is hope, though. The lesbian in search of a cheap amorous thrill can turn to lesbian erotica. You can read about how recently-dumped fourth grade teacher Marcy Moongoddess met the exciting Elizabeth Rorem, a take-no-prisoners butch who owns a Doberman. Or about how the young, venerable Alyssa meets her first love, comes out of the closet, and confronts oppression. Or about the artist who meets the sorority girl and shares a deep, overflowing communion...
On second thought, let us turn away from lesbian erotica. Quickly.
In recent months there have been several same-sex smooches on prime time television. Notable lip locks include Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow and Tara and ER's Weaver and Legaspi. These two couples are some of the best examples of realistic lesbian relationships on television to date. I'm still waiting for the show that allows more than one kiss between a couple without any extenuating circumstances, though. No major character deaths, gender switches, or humorous, "I was just kidding," please. I want gay people on television to kiss. And then I want them to do it again for those in the back who weren't paying attention.
While we're in fantasy land, I'd like a pony.
To be sure, the men aren't faring much better. Upon their first viewing of Queer as Folk, a gay male couple I know who live in Pittsburgh informed me that they were convinced someone had changed the city name as a merry joke.
So a person of non-standard sexual orientation can turn to an item that all self-respecting gay bookstores have: movies.
My friends and I have compiled a drinking game for GLBT movies. I don't drink, but these games also work well with chocolate. The game works as follows:
One drink for every: long, wistful glance; near-kiss; snide reference to parents; phrase in a foreign language; non-gay stereotype; joke about gay priests; gathering of oddball friends who regularly meet.
Two drinks for every: coming out to a friend; actual same-sex kiss; implied sex; annoying close-up of feet; scene with go-go dancers.
Three drinks for every: coming out to parents, anything involving HIV (scare, disclosure, death), heterosexual sex, show tunes.
Finish the bottle if: kd lang is naked, as you're watching Salmonberries, and if you watch the entire movie while sober, your brain will dribble out of your ears; if it's in black and white, because you're watching Go Fish or Therese and Isabelle, and repeated viewing can cause vision damage.
If you're watching a tender teenage coming out story, a box of tissues might also be appropriate. You can buy rainbow ones at your local gay bookstore. And if you can't, you should be able to. Everything else can be gaylicense plates, candles, dolls, even doormats can be laden with rainbows. I'm waiting for a line of gay chocolate bars. "Men, we give you inches and inches of chocolate goodness! Ladies, it's made from organic cocoa by non-subjugated people!" With every bar purchased a.05% contribution would go to AIDS charities.
Come to think of it, there have been gay candy bars. Is there any product that hasn't been marketed to the GLBT community? Possibly vinyl siding, but I'm not even sure about that.
I wonder when gay people became a commodity. Perhaps we should consider bar coding ourselves for sale in the local gay bookstore.
Kristen Minor is a member of the class of '04 at Dartmouth College. She would like to tell her parents, minister, and girlfriend, all of whom will be perfectly appalled by this column, that she does not partake in pornography. She also loves gay bookstores.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 11, No. 3, Apr. 6, 2001.