Letters

(baking photos by Jack Slomovits)

Dear Michael,

 

After discovering your blog in Vice magazine, I just wanted to add my big, enthusiastic appreciation to the piles of accolades.  It’s become one of my favourite internet places for things that make me chuckle, pull the heartstrings, and are neat to look at.  I love how you’re funny and sincere while simultaneously being sarcastic, erudite and politically and socially conscious; for a person to be really funny really means that they’re an optimist to the core in life.  In particular, I wanted to thank you for your candour in talking about obfuscated racial hierarchies and diversity in the gay world. I didn’t think that Asian animus and stereotypes within the community would bother me as much as they do sometimes, and it really means a lot that someone like you calls it out in a frank, yet un-confrontational way.  It really gets me thinking about what solidarity and communion mean in the “po-mo” era, and what Larry Kramer said when he accepted the Tony this year: “Let them know we are a special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come.”

 

Anyway, I’m coming down from the woods, lakes and ganja haze of Canada to New York (city of my boyhood dreams) on the weekend, and as always before I come I’ve made a wish list, with the following at the top:

 

(1)    See the McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met

(2)    Win rush-lottery tickets to see The Book of Mormon

(3)    Randomly make eye contact with you while meandering around Brooklyn (staying with a friend), strike up a conversation, laugh so hard we feel like we’re gonna barf, and learn how to make a pastry that contains chocolate.

 

But that’s one of the great things about New York; you inevitably can’t get to everything on your wish list; that’s why you keep coming back!

Keep up all the delicious work, we’re ravenous for more in Canada!

 

Love,

Garwa

 

PS – Have you heard of the Canadian band The Hidden Cameras?  If not, I think you’d dig them, they fuse lots of string instruments, religious iconography and homosexual sensibility to pleasing, pleasing effect.

 

 
Garwa,

Thanks for writing in.  Um,  you’re wearing a Japanese Joy Division shirt = instant boner.  Or maybe it’s your general adorableness giving me the instaboner.  In any case, I’ll have to take a break for a moment and listen to my (newly made) Hidden Cameras Pandora Station.

(pause)

Okay, I’m back. Thanks for all the praise.  I don’t deserve most of it, but I’ll take it.  You’re really eloquent and sharp.  I hope to meet you when you visit.

It pains me to hear that you’re a victim of Asian stereotyping, especially if that hurt is being inflicted by your fellow Gays.  But I’m glad you feel as if you have a right to that pain/anger/sadness and can communicate it.

We’re working on it.  Some of us are working on it.  Thanks for joining us.

Thanks for the Larry Kramer quote – that’s exactly how I feel.  I wish the Gays knew how exceptional they were.  I wish they could see past their own low level of bitterness to see what great potential is inside all of them.

Coming on the weekend?  My band is playing a show at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater on Saturday at midnight.  I dare you to come, and grab a drink with us afterward.

Do it, Joy Division.  Didn’t I just dare you??

There won’t be time to show you how to make Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie, but as you say, that’s what returning is for.

You said some kind things which made me feel very good, and seriously – don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thanks, Brother.

Michael

Hi Michael

My name is Drew Blackman and I am a gay man living in Boston.  I stumbled upon you blog a few months ago and have been reading it every day.

I want to start off by saying that i think your blog is very well done.  From inane sillyness, to delicious looking pies, to disastrous dates, it all works together very well.  Being an aspiring home baker/cook, I’ve found mixing your social commentary and poignant humor amongst photos and stories of the simple act of baking with good friends refreshing and relatable. 

I have to admit that i was particularity inspired to write to you after reading your most recent MonDate post.  Though i started reading your blog because of the pies(and, lets face it, the cute boys you bake with), it didn’t take long to realize you have a very strong and though out sense of queer liberation.  Most of my adult life, i have focused on identifying and confronting both white privilege and male privilege in both me and the people around me. I feel like I have reached a point where i am comfortable recognizing and challenging myself and others around taking up “space” and the blissful ignorance that privalege brings(ala Peggy McIntoch’s “White Privilege:Unpacking the Invisable Knapsack”).


Having said that, I generally feel at a loss when I step out of the “person with privilege” role and am confronted with heterosexism and homophobia.  Now i realize that statement sounds a little backwards, but as you point out much of the oppression that queer people and particularly gay men face on a daily basis, comes from other gay men.  I appricieate the way you have highlighted the fact that by gays being catty, sarcastic, or dismissive which each other, they are perpetuating the idea that queer folks don’t deserve to be treated with respect.   How can we expect or receive respect if we can’t even get it from each other. 

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I appreciate what you have done with your blog.  I feel that i have gleamed a better framework for confronting heterosixism both from within the gay community and from the outside.  Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Drew

Drew,

Thanks for writing in.  I’m genuinely touched.

Wow.  Again – much more praise than I probably deserve.  I’m grateful.  For you to say that I’ve given you a framework to deal with heterosexism is huge for me.  You’re so well spoken and ordered in your thoughts.  I’m a fan of you too.  So take that, mister.

I do think it’s important for Gays to realize they have a right to their anger/sadness/bitterness about heterosexism.  Most of the time when I ask another Gay about their oppression they express exhaustion.  They tend to have very little use for the conversation, because they’re fatigued by the battle.

I think it’s time for us to start displaying our anger, when heterosexism occurs. It may be time to frighten them, with our repressed rage.

I suspect that the catty bitterness we’ve both witnessed between Gays is nothing more than them projecting anger at one another that should be directed at an opressive, bigoted outside world.

If not that, then certainly we must calmly point out when we’re being targeted by blatant or subtle forms of homophobia.  It’s my impression that social change comes one person at a time.  Each of us must be that one person who is willing to change the world by firmly asserting our own right to dignity and respect.

 

It’s easy to ignore homophobia, but that takes a cumulative emotional toll after a while.  Speaking up for yourself is scary, but extremely powerful.  I’m glad you’ve decided to start.

My advice is to start by focusing on eliminating any and all shame you experience for being Gay.  It’s the most powerful tool they have against us.  It is inundated into us by our teachers, families, churches, friends, and even ourselves.  Don’t let straight people make you feel shame.  Ever.

I wish you all the best, Brother.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you visit New York.

Yours,

Michael

MonDate

(featured photo by Allison Michael Orenstein)

(additional photos of Michael Martin and Marcos Sanchez by Jack Slomovits)

Him:  Hey.  You’re T.’s friend, right?

Me:  That’s right.

Him:  Pie guy.

Me:  Ha.  Yeah.  Pie guy.  That’s me.

Him:  That’s cool. 

Me:  I guess so.  It’s gotten out of hand.

Him:  Has it?

Me:  I think so.  In a good way.  People have been really nice, and really supportive.

Him:  How so? 

Me:  I’ve had people – strangers – send me art and make me things.  I have had a few people make watercolors or digital images.  Two people designed aprons for me – well three, actually.  My mother commissioned the very first one that says Pie Man on it.

Him:  Your mother??

Me:  Yeah.  She reads the site.  Is that weird?

(pause)

What do you do?

Him:  I’m an Architect.  It really weighs me down.  Bureaucracy.

Me:  I think architecture is inspiring.

Him:  Whatever…

(pause)

So what’s your deal?  Is there some sort of message you’re pushing?

Me:  Hm.  I mean, yes.  No.  Probably?  I think people should live openly? I just post about what happens to me on awkward dates, or weird exchanges in New York, and I juxtapose those cringy moments with pics of me baking with cute boys and artists i like.

Him:  Why do that?

Me:  I guess that I want to mix domesticity with a very obviously Gay lifestyle.  I’m trying to get Gays and Straights to see Gay sexuality (and poly-sexuality) as an option that is compatible with domesticity.  Plus who doesn’t love to see cute boys baking and read about them suffering through  dating mishaps?

(pause)

Him: People love to watch attractive people suffer.  It’s crowded tonight.

Me:  Metropolitan on a weekend.  But look at all these talented boys.  It’s all right here in this room…

Him:  What is? 

Me:  Everything you might need to launch a career, start a movement,  or change the world.  All these boys need to do is realize they’re brothers, and start loving each other instead of ripping each other apart.  They have the talent and connections…

Him:  That’s the stuff I was talking about.  I don’t get that stuff, when I hear it.

Me:  Oh.  I tend to speak philosophically sometimes.  It’s annoying.  I think we (the Gays) could really do to start loving ourselves and each other much more than we allow ourselves to right now.  We have this tendency rip into each other, and act bitchy or jealous of one another.  We shouldn’t do that. Our purpose should be to build each other up, not tear one another down.

Him:  That’s human nature. 

Me:  Don’t do that.

Him:  Do what?

Me:  Don’t be dismissive and excuse the behavior.

Him:  Can you say that it’s not human nature?

Me:  No, but what I can say is this:  I’m not that interested in focusing on how the world and people are so negative that we can’t achieve gains in our community.  I’m not interested in reasons why we can’t achieve brotherhood.

Him:  Brotherhood?  Seriously?

Me:  Other oppressed minorities have achieved moments of brotherhood and solidarity and I know that if we don’t use simple excuses like ‘that’s human nature’ to indulge in an empty pleasure like ripping each other down, that we might be able to start loving and supporting each other.

Him:  Ugh.  That sounds like a lot of work.

Me:  People just need to re-wire themselves, I think.  Instead of immediately being ‘over it’ or sarcastic, they could try supporting their brothers.  For instance – you expect people here to be default setting stand-offish right?

Him:  Sure.

Me:  But, if you make eye contact with someone and touch them, for instance, when you’re speaking to them, they feel you trying to connect with them, and they’re bound to show you their best side.

Him:  Really?  Is it a special moment for them?  Do they unlock a spiritual connection with each other?

Me:  Stop.  We can have this conversation with each other but it’s going to make me upset if I feel like you’re being glib, flippant or dismissive.

Him:  I just don’t believe you.

(long, icy pause)

Me: What?

Him:  I don’t believe you really feel this way.  It sounds good for a second but then i don’t believe it.

Me:  That’s a mixture of self doubt and fear talking.

Him:  Haha!  What??

Me:  It’s intimidating hearing a strong, confident point of view. I’m guessing this subject is something you don’t think about often.  Most Gay people are tired of their own oppression and tune it out.  You don’t exactly know how you feel about this subject and now you’re being called upon to comment on it, and your knee jerk reaction is to be negative and try to find ways to chip away at my philosophy, rather than formulate your own.  ‘It’s human nature.’

Him:  Here’s my philosophy:  any extreme statement is wrong.  Extreme statements are always, always wrong.  Period.  That’s why I don’t trust your philosophy.

Me:  Is that all you’ve got?  ‘You’re wrong?’  Here’s an extreme statement from the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.”  Here’s an extreme statement from Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Are those statements wrong??

Him:  I just don’t trust your philosophy, or that you believe it.

Me:  Is this what you do when you meet friends of friends?  You call them phony and liars?

Him:  I didn’t do that?

Me: Didn’t you?  You just told me that you don’t trust my philosophy or that I myself believe it.  I don’t know how much more blatantly you can call someone out for being a liar.  Maybe you feel threatened or lazy?  Your philosophy takes the power away from negative extreme statements, sure, but it also takes the power away from anything positive too.  What you’re left with is powerlessness.  You’re left with sarcasm.  You’re left with nihilism.

I don’t find that at all inspiring.

Thanks for chatting.

Jerk.

Saturdate:

(photo by Jack Slomovitz)

Him:  I’m sorry I’m late.

Me:  Stop it, you look gorgeous.

Him:  Ha.  Thanks.  So what’s your deal?

Me:  What?

Him:  Yeah, so you make these pies or what?

Me:  Oh.   My site.  Yeah, I make a lot of pies.  I got good at them and it’s taken me a lot of places.

Him: So, what?  If I start dating you you’ll just be obsessed with pie the whole time?  You’ll just bake pie and feed it to me?  I get to eat all the pie?  Where is it?  Did you bring pie here?

Me:  We’re taking a walk in the park in the middle of the day.

Him:  I’m joking, stupid.  I thought you said you do comedy?

Me:  Um. I do.

Him:  So?

(pause)

Me:  You’re a buyer for Macy’s?

Him:  Yeah, I decide what does and does not go into Macy’s.  I have so much power.  Just kidding.

Me:  I bet you have a certain amount of power.

Him:  Not really.

Me: Oh.  Okay.  Admittedly I don’t understand it.  So…

(pause)

Him:  So what is it?  I’m confused.  You’re giving me all these different stories here.

Me:  What’s what?  Huh?

Him:  You bake pies?

Me:  Is this a real conversation?

Him:  No, yes.  But you said you write music and do comedy.  But which is it?  Who am I talking to right now?

Me: Me?  My name is Michael?

Him:  But what do you…  which Michael am I speaking with?  The comic or the baker or the guitar player?

Me:  I don’t…  All of them?  None?  How am I supposed to address that?

Him:  I want to hear your music.  Is that your guitar?

Me:  No, this is a baritone ukulele.  I just came from practice.

Him:  Ukuleles are smaller than that.  That’s almost a guitar. 

Me:  Okay then, it’s a small guitar.  But the guy who sold it to me said it was a ukulele.

Him:  I want to hear a song.  Do you have a recording?

Me:  Yeah, there’s recordings of us singing, but I could just sing something for you now.  Nobody’s around.

Him:  Oh God no.  No.  I’d like to hear a recording.  Alone.

Me:  Alone?

Him:  Well, if it’s terrible, what am I supposed to say?

(pause)

Me:  Lie.

Him:  Lie?

Me:  Yeah.  If I play you a song, and it’s awful, you lie and say it’s great.

Him:  Why would I do that?

Me:  Because, we live in something called a society.  It doesn’t work unless we lie to people about certain things.

Him:  I’d rather hear a recording.

(pause)

Me:  I’d rather you did too.

Him: Ew!  You just said you don’t want to play for me anymore.

Me:  That’s correct.  That’s what I just said.

Him:  Ew.  You’re supposed to convince me that you’re good.

Me:  I am?

Him:  Yeah.  You’re supposed to convince me that you’re worth listening to.

(long pause)

Me:  I don’t think I am going to do that.

Him:  What??

Me:  Look at it from my perspective:  I meet a guy online.  He thinks I’m cute.  He invites me to meet him for a walk in the park.  I say yes.   When I get on the date he seems annoyed at my choice of professions.  He even fringes on ridicule.  Then he cringes at the thought of listening to a song that he, himself, asked about.  Then he challenges me to convince him that I’m not terrible before I sing to him, because he’s so incredibly sensitive!  He couldn’t possibly be called upon to dredge up a compliment for my shitty, shitty song….

Him: Ew.  You make me sound bad.

Me:  It gets worse.  You then try to make me sell myself to you, and convince you I’m not terrible, before you will deign to hear me play.

Him:  That’s your job as a performer.

Me:  My job as a performer is to perform.  I have put the work in.  I have written and re-written and performed.  And performed.  And you know what?  After more than a decade here in New York, it’s finally my job.

Him:  I guess you’re sensitive about that?

Me:  I guess I am.  Are you sensitive about your job?

Him:  Not at all.

Me:  Really?  It was a shitty line you sported this spring.

Him:  NO IT WAS NOT.

Me:  No.  It wasn’t.  But you just proved my point.

Him:  Hey, buddy…  my taste is superb.  You don’t just get this job i have randomly…

Me: Right.  And you don’t just get the one I have either.  So next time…

Have some fucking respect.

Jerk.