No more television for you.
It's not that you've been bad. You just don't need it anymore. Thanks to the Internet, and an invention called the World Wide Web (WWW), nobody has to worry whether or not the cable is working. The point is now connectivity. Are you on, that is, are you online? To paraphrase Bill Gates, how fast do you want to go?
That is the point of this book: to get you up, on, and out--so you will find yourself learning more, communicating more, meeting more, and of course, just becoming more of a part of this grand citizenry we call the gay and lesbian community.
The Web may be a great place to hang out. But you have to know how to use it. I spent eleven months, or nearly the lifetime of the Web, meandering through the corridors of an electronic medium I now call home. I discussed the pros and cons of Web watching with dozens of Webmasters (the creators), a few hundred "addicted" users, and some Internet types so technically inept that they made people like you and me look like technology innovators.
I started this project as the least technical guy you might meet. I was enticed by the idea that if I could conquer this thing called the Web, then anyone had a shot. I discovered that the Internet is a lot bigger than most people think it is: It allowed me to learn more than anyone told me it would. I met friends, waved to enemies, even got my passport renewed by downloading software.
The net is just a spiderweb of computers. That's all. The software that takes you into cyberspace consists of browsers that let you find what you're looking for. But the software isn't the net. The computers on the net are not organized in any specific way. One is simply attached to another and that to several others, and where they are located in cyberspace is defined by the address. Information travels much as it does by word of mouth: two friends tell two friends who...and so on.
Meanwhile, technology is not what this is about. Imagination is. If you get a good Web browser and locate that one Web site or chat area you admire and love, you can go there and remain pretty happy for a while. Or, if you wish, you can go there and be pretty down--there are sites (listed in Chapter 7) for getting you down too.
Every person you meet online and every link you make by clicking on a brightly lit word (a hot link or hypertext) will take you to the next level. Each layer you unveil as you head up the learning curve of the Internet makes it more fascinating and, sometimes, a little frustrating. But stick with it. Don't let it overwhelm you. Imagine that it's just another step in the evolution of the phone: from tin cans to huge servers. People often ask how to start, or where to go after they've plateaued. Learn as much as you can from the thousands of offerings on the net, bookmark those sites that turn you on, make sure your software is strong enough to handle your desires--and suddenly you're surfin' safari, baby.Privacy, Talk and the Dirty Secrets of the Internet Relay Chat Rooms
The gates to the universe of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel are open, and in this world anything goes. In the IRC, cyberqueers can interact with other gay and lesbians all over the globe and live out their sexual fantasies, discuss current politics, exchange tips on gardening or carpentry, or join up in a private chat room with men or women wanting to participate in group activities.
You can have cybersex with an Australian bungle-cording business man , converse about South African gay and lesbian politics over a cup of tea , talk about the paint job on your Triumph with in New Zealand, or plan a vacation to Southeast Asia with ; however, be careful--"she" is a tease.Why is the IRC so cool for gays and lesbians?
The IRC attracts so many gays and lesbians all over the world, and especially in the United States, because most IRC chat channels are not monitored by any official governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations that promote so-called moral values, or private institutions. Those IRC channels that are run through online services, may, however, be monitored or even recorded. You will have to check with your specific online service to get more details.
IRC has its own culture. The limited control by outside individuals and institutions contributes to the diversity of communications on the IRC. Gay and lesbian communications have often sought to pervade the culture by rendering its methods invisible to the participants of the "real world", i.e. nongay. The IRC is an invaluable tool in the sophisticated methods of communication used by many gays and lesbians. Anonymity on the IRC draws the loonies, crazies, and the eternally repressed out to play, along with the curious, the playful, and the quite creative--a mixture of people that makes for a delightful and adventurous experience.
Earlier in the book I told you about the Gay Murder Case, a strange killing in New Jersey that led police authorities to AOL's headquarters in Vienna, Virginia, to perform the first search of America Online records, on January 28, 1996. After sifting through electronic information and e-mail all day, officers confiscated dozens of files and turned them over to authorities in New Jersey.
Although civil and criminal court subpoenas have been served on online services, in recent years the search warrant has demonstrated law enforcement's ability to reach information that some computer users incorrectly thought was confidential. That is, of course, the reason that IRC works for most gays and lesbians. No one can interfere. It just isn't possible!The World of the Modern Computer Geek: A Host of SitesVoices We Should KnowACTUP/NY
ACTUP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, is a diverse, nonpartisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. ACTUP, in case you live under a Webless rock, is the place for gay men and women to discuss and act on behalf of the people with AIDS around the globe. This is their global homepage, undernourished but important.
ACTUP meets with government officials, distributes the latest medical information, protests, and demonstrates. They are not silent by any means! They challenge anyone who, by their actions or inaction, hinders the fight against AIDS. This includes anyone responsible for inadequate funding for AIDS research, health care, or housing for people with AIDS, anyone who blocks the dissemination of life-saving information about safer sex, clean needles, and other methods of AIDS prevention, and anyone who encourages discrimination against people who are living with AIDS.
Besides the latest news on ACTUP's latest movements, users can link to several other organizations under the ACTUP umbrella. Look on the weekly calendar, available on the back table at Monday Night Meetings, to see when and where groups are currently meeting. Or call the Workspace and ask.Our World and Welcome to It (The Global Community Online)Outrageous Tokyo
Yep, the first gay, English-spoken, online magazine for Japan. Outrageous Tokyo is the follow-up to a series of Japanese-language magazines and is quite the doozie. Any queer traveler overseas is best advised to forget the bar rags--there are two, including a print version of OT--and go for this. It's up to the minute and the ads, like TV in Japan, are funny.
Interestingly, you have to take a step upward, technologically speaking, in order to see the full OT. To get the entire issue, you must first download Adobe Acrobat. Ten years ago, the Japanese were the first to have fax machines at home; twenty years ago they were the first country to have a Walkman in every home. Nowadays you can't just have a Web browser and expect good service. No, once again you must have the technology. Adobe will make the print shine and the words less . . . wordy and more like liquid language. In other words, the whole thing works. Incredibly, OT has the only list of lesbian clubs in Tokyo that I could find on the Web. The last time I was in Japan people equated "gay" with "transvestite" and so I thought a club listing would make for outrageous reading. It did.UKWayOut
Every country has a unique way of displaying its gayness, so I traveled, via the Web, to the United Kingdom for the funny pages or comics in Way Out,
a transvestite paper from Middlesex, England, no less.
British art hath no fury.
Way Out Web. What's there? A British sense of the news for trannies (as they are called) that is much more timely and internationally focused than U.S. gay news (or U.S. news in general). But first note that "This is a Mad Cow-free zone. If you find any Mad Cows on these pages, please e-mail us so we can take appropriate action!" (If you've Netscape 3.0 or Explorer, you see a cow in its mooing craziness.)
Way Out Web is a transvestite's dream. In the United Kingdom it has received Net Magazine
's highest rating of five stars for its tireless efforts on behalf of transsexuals. You get the guide, personals, feedback, help forums, a look at local and national press, worldwide news, the link list to beat all TG lists, and (I swear) tranny guide stocklists. (In the United Kingdom a stocklist is a magazine stand.)
And where can you find the magazine throughout England? Here you will see Web work at its best. I was amazed to see straightlaced Virgin Megastores listed as a place to get Way Out
and other tran mags, and doubly shocked to find a site filled with how-to-find TrannyGuide 96
in the United States! (U.S. extremists who need that magazine should go to www.magsinc.com
; haste makes waste.)
The titles include Cross-Talk, TV SCENE (no, not listings of "Friends"), T.V. epic, LadyLike, and Transgender Tapestry.
This is purely for transsexuals and fans. The photo shoots found on Way Out and accompanying Brit sites are plentiful and outrageous, though a bit much after a short while.Gay and Lesbian Youth NetOutProud! The National Database for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth
This database, with over thirty-seven hundred entries, is the largest collection of lesbigay resources in the nation. Information can be found here on community centers, support groups, P-FLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapters, lesbigay youth groups, and more. This is a great way to meet people, get support through tough times, find out the latest facts on AIDS, get information on where to volunteer, etc. Anything and everything you could possibly need can be found here.
In addition, Outproud is home to Oasis (reviewed herein), an online magazine written for and by lesbigay youth. Besides covering "hard" news and reviews, this mag is a great example of what an organization can do with few resources. It is a must bookmark for any self-respecting youthful queer: light yet good reading, with poetry, stories, editorials, and op-eds, as well as profiles of personal courage. And who couldn't use a little inspiration today?Kooky Folk You Need to MeetMister B's Leather
Mr. B's Leather wants you. "Welcome to the finest asset of gay Amsterdam, Mister B. Mister B is a top-quality store in leather, rubber, and army clothing located in the heart of Amsterdam leatherscene. We opened up in March 1994. Since then we are steadily working to increase YOUR satisfaction, both in our store and on the net!"
Catalogue shopping on the Web for everything was an eventuality, so why not leather? Best to note that this is a great precursor to a visit and a fabulous way to get to know Amsterdam before you arrive--sort of make friends and have them influence you!--and here is a chance to take in the local color.
Read about the latest sexy trends in Amsterdam (not sex, though, that is in Chapter 8) and especially the Tupperware parties being held all over the world. Tupper what? As they describe it, in quite alarming detail, a prevention activity has erupted throughout Amsterdam called the "Tupperware Event for Mixed Gays and Lesbians." It's a kind of prevention act where men and women describe the use of, well, plastics for safe sex; demonstrations are included.Mini Tour of Travel SitesQnet
Bring your passport, camera and your sense of adventure when surfing Qnet. This is the most trustworthy and current gay and lesbian travel information available. Brought to you by the Ferrari Guides
, published since 1980 and acknowledged worldwide by gay and lesbian travelers and travel professionals as one of the most comprehensive sources of gay and lesbian travel information.
Users can use the Point and Click Travel Index to help plan their vacation in its entirety. Use a Destination Index to find an alphabetical list of destinations served by gay or lesbian or gay-friendly tour, cruise, and travel companies. When you choose a destination, you'll get a list of companies that service that destination. Use the Interest/Activities Index for an alphabetical list of interests and activities offered by gay and lesbian or gay-friendly tour, cruise, and travel companies.
Inn Places Online is another service offered. Paris in the spring, Palm Springs for vacation, or Pittsburgh for business: A globetrotter's guide to accommodations worldwide, featuring gay, lesbian, and gay-friendly hotels and resorts, intimate bed-and-breakfast inns, plus indexes to campgrounds, handicap-accessibility, and nudism. Lots of misspellings on site.
What's New What's Hot: Billed as "Nothing short of the most current flashes on travel trends...new accommodation and transportation options to updated cruise offerings, to a handy season-at-a-glance calendar of big trips and events."
Or enter a contest sponsored by G'Day Tours, Air New Zealand, and Ansett Tours that nets the lucky winner a five-night, six-day, all-expenses-paid trip for two to Australia, one of the world's most popular gay vacation areas.
There is specialized women's travel, LezNet, also on this site.Lesbian LightThe Lesbian Avengers
The Lezzie Avengers, as some know them, are perhaps the most famous lesbian group to date. In New York LAvengers are the ones who put on great shows, like the Stonewall 25 preparade in 1994's New York circus. The girls mean business.
The Lesbian Avengers is a nonviolent, direct-action group dedicated to raising lesbian visibility and fighting for survival and rights for this often-overlooked group. The Avengers first came about in March 1993 in the Apple; the London chapter started in 1994. Since then they have organized over fifty actions, zaps, protests, demonstrations, and parties like the one mentioned above. They have proved that, with no visible leadership, lesbian voices can still be heard and effect change.
Visitors to their various local sites will find the latest news about the Avengers and what they are or will soon be doing! The sites' real functions are to provide sanctuary for lesbians who are pushed into silence during their daily lives. On site you can
Excerpted from Get On with It by Richard Laermer. Copyright © 1997 by Richard Laermer. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.