Sunday, January 25, 2015

Upon further investigation, I appear to have inadvertently collected all of the props I need to embark upon a career in rhythmic gymnastics. Not pictured in the pile of shiny things was the jump rope, which I tend not to consider a prop because it's not especially pretty. It's just black nylon with some handles and a bunch of knots tied in it for length -- exactly like the one I had when I was nine, in fact, except that I was nine years old in 1990, when everything was blinding and the only color available was neon pink. I didn't think I should have to cough up eight dollars for eleven cents worth of Chinese plastic, but I didn't think it should have taken me more than eight minutes to find a jump rope without fourteen widgets and a rotation counter attached to it, either. Clearly I do not know where the grade schoolers buy their playground equipment anymore.

This worries me slightly, because it wasn't intentional. If you went on Family Feud and had people start shouting out "Hobbies you pick up in your thirties," you'd get things like 'craft brewing', 'golf', and 'collecting classic albums on vinyl'. Gymnastics is something you start when you're like ten. I'm frankly not at all sure what I'm supposed to be doing with my thirties, but I apparently still look about twenty-four, so I can get away with it.

(I'm quite sure the other performers do actually think I'm in my mid-twenties. There's a widespread idea that all women want to be told they look young, which is likely to skew results on things that people say to my face, but one of my very long-time friends happens to know one of the circus arts people via internet. There was evidently some amusing shock value in Tommy reporting that I was only a year behind him in high school. Whenever a modeling job asks my age, I tell them 'old enough to buy my own beer'. I get away with that surprisingly frequently -- they get that I'm reluctant to tell them I'm out of the usual 18-22 demographic, they just underestimate by how much.)

I didn't particularly intend to be good with hula hoops, either. I was in Marshall's downtown one day, buying the same stupid shit I always buy at Marshall's when I go down there for shoes and find they don't have any interesting ones in my size, and they happened to have a fitness hoop on the shelf. I thought, 'what the hell, it's on clearance, the hoopy-spinny thing looks pretty cool, let's give that a go'. And now I'm sitting here with a huge awkward heap of hoops leaned against the wall behind the clothing rack, and a bunch of gigantic bruises all over my upper arms and one shoulder because yesterday I was in the studio with "Chandelier" on repeat, trying to bounce the 46" monster around without using my hands.

I brought a couple of hoops into an art collaboration I volunteered for last week, and when I told them how long I'd been at it, I got a lot of those looks which I have always suspected mean I have just done that thing where I've crammed a new thing into my head way too fast and too easily to be believed. Not everything is easy for me; I think I'm just bright enough to grab the things I have an aptitude for, and see how far I can push them. And I reclaim a lot of time by dropping "recreational" activities that aren't any fun. I don't get any inherent satisfaction from enduring misery. I have to do enough necessary things that I don't like, why would I keep doing ballet or social dancing or balance beam work that I dread? Apparently a lot of people get a feeling of achievement from powering through that sort of thing.

If I did take up gymnastics, I'd have to start all over again with tumbling. It's been over twenty years, at this point, and last time I did it was before puberty. I definitely have enough arm and shoulder strength right now to use them as pivots, as in cartwheels and roundoffs, possibly enough strength to use them as balances, as in handstands, and definitely not enough strength to use them for propulsion, as in handsprings. I might have enough leg and core strength to get some proper saltos, but I wouldn't try without a professional spot. Mooch has suggested I get over my terror of heights by learning aerials. I generally consider Mooch to be a very smart man, but my primitive lizard brain is doubting his wisdom on this one.

(Mooch is one of the juggler-acrobats from A Different Spin, and an executive producer at the Boston Circus Guild. Mooch does not look like the executive producer of anything; he looks like a guy whose friends call him Mooch. Many people in the BCG are not what they seem. It's part of their charm.

Mooch encourages me a lot. I have no idea if he's encouraging me for realsies, or just because he is a nice guy who encourages people. It may in fact be both. If I suck at this, he's being a supportive friend. If I don't suck at this, he's nudging me to pick up skills that he may someday benefit from when I get professional enough to use the BCG as my booking agency. Bright guy, Mooch. It's the kind of non-asshat political strategy I respect.)

I would not want to compete. I wouldn't have wanted to compete if I'd gotten serious about it as a kid either, although probably everybody would have pushed me to. I never understood that one; they did it to me academically all the time, too. I have a vague recollection of being shoehorned into a spelling bee once, which I also didn't see the point of. Yes, I want it to be acknowledged that I am good at spelling weird things, and I want praise for it, but I sincerely could not care less whether I am better at it than anyone else. I kind of assume that I'm better at a lot of brain things than whoever I'm talking to, but only on the statistical basis that I'm dangling my feet off the top end of the bell curve on most of this stuff; I'm always happy to be proven wrong, because then that's one more thing I don't have to either explain or avoid in conversation. I'm totally uninterested in trying to prove I'm better than any particular other person. I just want to find that intersection of 'weird' and 'pretty' that gets me allowed on stage.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Have been poking around tumblr in search of attractive men, mostly as a distraction for Moggie, who has a grad school interview in the morning and would otherwise be all fibberty-gibbert. I note the following things about Chris Evans:
  1. He has done a lot of terrible movies.
  2. Also several really good ones, even aside from Captain America.
  3. Jimmy Fallon has gotten him to play beer pong on the air. Twice.
  4. He's not great at beer pong but he's fascinatingly good at handling the ping pong balls. I have a feeling he's trying not to drink his beers like Ford Prefect was trying not to drink his Ol' Janx Spirit.
  5. His idea of doing a character piece for an entertainment magazine is to invite the reporter out with his friends and drink her under the table. He did later fill her in on what happened between the last bit she remembered and the part where she woke up still dressed and probably still hammered in his guest room the next day.
  6. He is loud and cantankerous about LGBT rights. Like, baffled that this is still a thing, why is this still a thing, what is wrong with you people? loud. Good!
  7. He does not dodge questions about his love life so much as he steers them gently into a large smiley brick wall. All I can get from his Twitter feed is that he appears to be in a long-term committed relationship with the New England Patriots, and seeing the Red Sox and the Celtics on the side. Him and most of Boston.
  8. He is really naked in a lot of his moves .Really really naked. Holding a strategic hand towel while casually chatting with a neighbor naked.
  9. This unfortunately has no bearing on the overall quality of the film he's being naked in. See point 1, I may wind up watching some of these with the sound off. I'm not watching Not Another Teen Movie at all. I got through Inkubo and Karla and The Pillow Book but dammit, even I have standards.
  10. He admits to tap dancing. Someone needs to get him to demonstrate. Ideally in costume with the chorus girls from the first Captain America movie.
Also, he's nearsighted. Moggie dug up a bunch of stuff from The Losers from wherever it is she unearths photos of scruffy young men in glasses. They're not prop glasses; there's distortion at the edges of the lenses, and a halo of light across his face right inside the shadows from the wire frames. (Magnifying glasses concentrate light in the middle. Lenses for myopia throw it to the edges.) Nobody adds that in Photoshop, because it's a PITA and nobody notices; nobody takes it out in Photoshop either, because it's almost impossible, and if you hate it you just have the actor take his damn glasses off for the photo. I've seen him in specs before, but they were all red carpet photos for Marvel things, and frankly I couldn't swear in court he hadn't stolen RDJ's specs for purposes of shenanigans, because have you seen this cast? They're all twelve, especially when you get them in the same room.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sometimes I despair at the state of humanity. I just ran across an article about how young women, who apparently read and/or write way too much crap slashfic, are starting to fetishize actual gay men, and are frankly creeping the gay men out.

Really? ashdfkahsjkdhfasdf WHY ARE PEOPLE INSANE? Jesus.

I have friends. Some of these friends are guys. Some of these guys are gay. It's... kind of a non-issue? I just remember to get them hot fireman calendars when a sexy gag gift is required, rather than hot bikini girls. I think it's adorable when they get together with someone they're crazy about who turns out to be crazy about them back. I also thought it was adorable last week when one of the women I know proposed to her boyfriend during the curtain call of a show they were both in. It's adorable because they're my friends, and it makes them happy.

I do read a lot of slashfic, among other kinds. About characters from movies, TV shows, comics, and books. My brain considers this to be okay, because -- and this story makes me think this might be news to some people -- fictional characters aren't real people, so it kind of doesn't matter what silly stories we tell about them. You can do terrible, horrible, ridiculous, offensive, objectifying things to people who only exist in your imagination. Again, not real. I mean, not always the best writing practice, but still. Not real.

My brain does not cope gracefully with "real-person slash". Because ew. Those are actual humans you're talking about. Then, I get profoundly uncomfortable with paparazzi photos, too. When I go on a research binge, I stick to rummaging through someone's public work, and whatever interviews they've volunteered to give on camera. A lot of actors do embarrassing movies when they're like nineteen, but they're embarrassing movies that have gotten a public release, and they are easily explained away by the fact that they were a nineteen-year-old actor, and probably starving at the time.

One of these days I'm going to run into one of these clueless young things, who will be shouting about patriarchal oppression and sexual objectification and microaggressions one minute, and making squeeping noises over a pair of real-life queer dudes holding hands the next. And it will take all of my willpower not to slap the bejeezus out of her.

Monday, January 19, 2015

This. This is going to be my new scary-awesome party trick. I've just decided.

(Video source [ x ] It's a featurette on the BluRay edition of the movie.)

It's rubbish as an actual fighting tactic, of course. The cross-body catch leaves his entire right side open. In a realistic fight, he'd have gotten either a fist or fuck-off huge metal disc right in the kidney, depending on which hand Cap had his shield in. (Mostly right, actually. Traditionally a buckler is on the left arm, but he uses his as a weapon as much as anything.) But it is very flashy, very impressive, and involves spinning the thing he's tossing around, which I have just this year discovered I can do.

(You're supposed to start juggling with rolled up socks or tennis balls, which I dutifully tried for many years; I have no idea where they're going or where I should be catching them, and they all eventually hit the floor and roll into the corner, where I forget about them. Fuck that. It turns out if I can spin things or flip them end over end, I can throw and catch them fine. I have no idea why it works, but it does.)

Also, I now have friends who will not develop nervous tics if I wander around juggling realistic prop knives. I have friends who juggle flaming torches, and set the extras on fire by transferring lit fuel with their fingers, if they're in a hurry. Stan's friends eventually started teasing him for constantly flipping around his props, on set, off set, at home, while driving. Yes, absolutely, make fun of the guy who's practicing to be a cyborg assassin to the point where he's actually good at it. That's an excellent idea! Either he really is very nice, or his friends really aren't that bright.

A lot of props can be surprisingly deadly, even the cheery ones. Ever played Soul Calibur III? Remember Tira? Creepy clown girl with teal hair and mad underboob? She fights with a hoop. The original has pointy wing bits on it, but one of her costumes in IV has a proper, candy-cane-stripe hula hoop instead. Gameplay clip:

She's terrible. I can hurt myself more efficiently with one of those damn things. Often without even trying! I've got some suspicious-looking bruises just above my elbows right now, because the other day I spent like two hours bouncing one of the big ones back and forth on my arms. The one she's using looks like it's probably 38" or so, between hip height and waist height on her, which is standard. A lot of trick hoopers use smaller ones, down to maybe 26", so they're easier to throw and juggle. Hula hoops, unless you have a weird custom order, are hollow inside; you can pour some rice or dried beans in if you want it to rattle as it goes around, or a cup or so of water if you want a sloshy counterweight, but in general they're not supposed to be that heavy.

My big hoop is 46" across, which is large enough to rest on my shoulder and my ankle at the same time, and made of polyethylene irrigation tubing about 2" in diameter. It weighs about two, two and a half pounds. That doesn't sound like a lot, but the circus people buy tiny slim polypropylene hoops and have entire message board discussions about whether it's worth adding a few grams to the weight by putting an extra layer of PVC tape over the decorations -- by hoop standards, mine is behemoth. The picture at left is a stack of hoops ranging from 26" to 46", plus a bunch of juggling wands, some contact juggling balls, and a set of Mylar twirling ribbons I bought at the Dollar Tree one day because, hey, props for a dollar. (The abovementioned murder hoop is the black one with opposing spirals in gold and silver. It may also have some sort of mysterious stealth ability, as evinced by the fact that people kept walking directly into a four foot dance hoop covered in fucking glitter tape all afternoon on the T today.)

I'm not sure it's massive enough to literally kill a man at the kind of speeds one can achieve with mere human arms, but I could definitely make someone regret fucking with me. Most of the bruise collection is just from the fact that you're using your body to push it around when it spins and it can dig in pretty hard, but I have dropped it on my foot more than once, failed to get out of the way in time and whapped myself in the thigh, and on very rare occasions, clocked myself in the head with it. I haven't given myself a bloody nose yet, but that's mostly luck. It hurts like a bitch.

Tira's not even really giving it a good swing. You can totally throw those things over your head two-handed and slam them down on something, like a bastard sword. The hoop will be fine; hoops bounce. (I don't like super-light hoops, in fact, because the smaller ones bounce so fast after hitting something they feel like they're chattering. Very disconcerting.) You'll put a good dent in your target, though.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I am stuck on a project. I'm writing a 5-minute monologue for the Sextacular Show, which I am in. I know what I want to say -- it's a brief rundown of how I got from 'moving to Boston with $300 and nowhere to live' to 'taking off my clothes in front of a thousand people at the Hynes Convention Center on First Night' -- but I keep getting jammed up on the way to say it.

See, the basic idea here is that economics made me realize you make a lot more money with your tits out, and sociology led me to realize that anyone who had a problem with that could go fuck themselves. The problem is that both these being good ideas in current society is predicated on me having the factual knowledge that I am very attractive. Not to everyone -- no one is attractive to everyone -- but to a large enough number of people in my own culture that, even if one specific person doesn't find me attractive, they don't question why someone else would.

You don't say that. Ever. Not out loud, not even when drunk.

There is a lot of lip service paid to encouraging people of all kinds to consider themselves beautiful, women especially. It's half hogwash. You aren't supposed to know that. You're supposed to struggle to believe that. If you actually read this stuff with even a quarter of a critical eye, you'll realize that the woman they're talking to, their target audience, the idols they hold up -- it's not a woman who knows she's beautiful, it's a woman who acts like she knows that most of the time, but is secretly and profoundly insecure and wants other people to reaffirm that she totally is pretty and her struggle totally is noble. Look, they say, this (musician | movie star | athlete | author) is just like us! She tries so hard to have faith but never succeeds! Like real people do! Yes, Reader, we all know your real person pain.

It's blatantly and relentlessly normative. It's also infantilizing -- they basically want you to be a mood-swingy teenager about it for your whole life -- and jesus does it make me want to punch stuff.

The implication that any woman who doesn't struggle with their own self-image is a narcissistic twat is so omnipresent in the GRRL POWER! stuff I've read that I am genuinely not sure if Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock" is meant seriously or as a backhanded takedown. Meghan Trainor gets a lot of support for "All About That Bass" despite some serious problems with either her message or her ability to communicate her message without sounding like a whiny 12-year-old, but my first reaction to Hilson's piece was to cringe, because a conventionally-attractive girl talking about having fun being conventionally-attractive will get excoriated in the comments, starting with 'you're not all that' and sliding steadily downhill from there.

Just to be clear: I expect Trainor to cop a lot of shit for her song, too. "If I don't meet your standards, change your goddamn standards," prompts a lot of anger from people who think their 'standards' are inviolable, and want to punish her for not meeting them. It's just that everyone will admit she's getting shit for it, and a lot of them will agree that it is undeserved. Conventionally-pretty girl sings about being pretty? "Yes, fine, we know you're full of yourself, shut the fuck up now." Pointing out that it's rude to tell anyone to shut the fuck up is countered with an argument that boils down to 'I think there exists a finite amount of happiness in the universe, and that people are handing you more than your fair share. I wish to redress this imbalance in the cosmos by being a complete knob to you until your happiness level is lowered into a range that I find acceptable.' It's the same dynamic I see a lot within the social justice movement, among people who have staked their self-image on winning a game of Oppress├ęd-er Than Thou. It's like they read "Harrison Bergeron" and thought, 'man, these people really have their shit together!'.

(If you read the comments on Hilson's video -- which normally I recommend against, because YouTube comments -- you may notice that almost all of the people who are arguing that she's being serious and that the song has a positive message are arguing that the demographic she's singing to is black women, not women in general. The people she's dressed up as are real; The flapper is Josephine Baker; the hair suggests that the 1930s movie star is Dorothy Dandridge; the '60s girl group is Diana Ross & The Supremes; the disco costume I don't recognize specifically but is in the style of Donna Summers; the military jacket is from Janet Jackson's 1989 release "Rhythm Nation"; the satin pajamas-thing is T-Boz of TLC, from their 1995 single "Creep". I'm unaware of any famous black women entertaining the troops during WWII, so I think she's just a generic USO girl for the 40s; she skipped over the 1950s, but I would personally have used Eartha Kitt -- the young'uns may only recognize her as the voice of Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove, and young-at-heart Baby Boomers as Catwoman from the 1960s Batman series, but Kitt was initially famous as a jazz vocalist, and she was one of the few black women who regularly appeared in shows and on TV with white entertainers in the 1950s.)

Not having an awareness of how you look to others and how it prompts them to treat you is fucking dangerous. I twitch angrily at stuff like One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful", where the lyrics say outright that what makes her attractive is that she's the only one who doesn't know she's beautiful. In other words, it presents the ideal woman as one who is incapable of recognizing her own worth and needs external validation. Yes, 'I think you're gorgeous' is a thing you'd get out of a good guy who's head over heels for you, but it's also what you'd get out of someone who wants to take advantage of your low self-esteem to get himself a girlfriend who will put up with a lot of creepy shit because you don't know you can do any better.

I've known other women who were widely considered attractive but were completely unaware of it, often arguing with people who told them they were. They were targeted -- those are the friends who would get tangled up with Nice Guys who were trying to put in enough compliment coins to get sex, completely miss this is what the Nice Guy thought he was owed because they couldn't believe anyone would ever be flirting with someone as plain as them, and end up facing an increasingly bitter and off-kilter suitor who thought they were yanking him around on purpose. The guys were demanding something they had no idea they had. One particular incident that's stuck with me was when one of them was followed around a bookstore by some guy who kept trying to smell her hair; she had to hit him with a large book to get him to go away, and I think why he came up with the idea to follow her in the first place still hasn't sunk in.

Presenting that continual state of inner turmoil as both normal and normative is an excellent way to grow yourself a lot of very pretty girls -- whatever your definition of pretty is -- who need constant reassurance, no? If you don't accept the validation you're a poor sad-sack who is failing at being a Modern Woman who Needs No One's Approval; if you don't need the validation, then you're a stuck up deluded bitch who thinks she's all that. The ideal woman asymptotically approaches a state of confidence, and pretends to have attained it, but never quite gets there.

There is an extra layer of potential shit-flinging involved in my own story, because not only am I aware that I am attractive, I am trading on my looks as a commodity. I can't speak to their specific business practices, but I have no problem with the idea of things like Playboy, because I think there's nothing wrong with sexually objectifying, within a specific context, someone who has volunteered to be contextually thusly objectified. The models in those photos are human beings who deserve to be treated with the same respect due any other human, but the photographs are yours to use as a springboard to imagine whatever you want. If it stays inside your head, no harm, no foul. This tends to infuriate the people who think the only way to keep girls from believing that their looks are their only asset is to tell them that looks don't matter at all, ever. This is an accurate assessment of the social value of beauty about as much as Reefer Madness is an accurate depiction of marijuana use. The truth is, beauty is one of many factors that can adjust your social capital up or down, and it's always going to be, because the average human has eyes, and many of them desperately want to have sex.

And just so you all recognize how profoundly gun-shy I am on the topic, you should know that I edited out about a page and a half of actual examples of what my life is like, on the grounds that either everyone will think I'm making it up, or they'll believe me and respond with abuse designed to cut me down to size. By far the cruelest group of people who pop up when the topic is mentioned are women who, completely independent of what they actually look like or how attractive other people find them, view me as having something they think they don't.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A (fixable, yet annoying) bank snafu has just occurred in my life. None of you want to hear about my bank, so I am going to rave about an internet thing which is simultaneously unimportant to the fate of the cosmos, and absolutely vital to many people. It will be long and contain many digressions and footnotes and spoilers for comics you may not have read and potentially movies that are not out yet. You have been warned.

I've been going through a lot of Captain America fanfic lately.

 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, you will never convince me that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not the story of Steve Rogers going out to rescue the love of his life.

Don't believe me? Go watch both of those movies again, while mentally swapping the roles of Peggy and Bucky. Peggy becomes the childhood friend and protector who watches over Steve until he kind of accidentally succeeds in enlisting and gets Vita-Ray'd by Dr Erskine. Bucky is the mysterious and awesome government agent who sweeps Steve off into the war effort and keeps an eye on him until he gets the chance to prove that he really is made for more than star-spangled dance numbers. Friend Peggy goes missing, gets rescued, has one-liners about his new size, snipes for him on missions; then gets peevish that suddenly Steve is spending all of his time with the cool kids, and she's been busted from beloved caretaker down to ensemble support. Agent Bucky finds Steve canoodling with the WACs and WAVES and Wrens and gets pissed at what he thinks is Steve's total lack of attention to his mission and their uncertain cooperation. Peggy falls from the train; Steve falls apart; Bucky talks him through until impact with the idea that he'll take Steve to the canteen, find someone to dance with, celebrate just like he promised they would, and Steve don't you dare be late.

They'd spend the whole second movie building up the love story. Someone would ask if -- or straight up point out that -- Steve was being a complete reckless idiot because he was in love and needed to rescue Peggy from her brainwashing at all costs. It would culminate in Steve going to visit Old Man Bucky at the home one last time, and Bucky using the last of his fading sapience to tell Steve that he should go chase her down, they were always meant to be together, and Steve was a fool if he didn't know that. Sam and Natasha would throw their support behind him, because in these movies, Love Triumphs Over All.

It is very much to Marvel's credit that this would all work without rewriting either the character of Peggy Carter or that of Natasha Romanov, the Action Girl modern best friend. I don't know if the script for the second movie was written with the intention that Natasha be the romantic lead, but if it were, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson looked at each other and went, "...nah." They totally failed to do anything at all with Sharon Carter/Agent 13, Cap's canonical on again-off again in the comics. (Rumor has it that the blonde waitress who gets a suspiciously lingering reaction shot at the end of Avengers was originally supposed to be Sharon Carter, but her earlier appearance as a minor character in Cap's indoor fight sequence was cut, eliminating her plot thread. If so, there appears to be a running theme here.) But you have to admit that when it's laid out like that, this is a bog-standard Hollywood love story plot, which in its usual incarnation, would end with Cap and the (former) Winter Soldier sharing a victorious kiss, after however many movies the studio thought they could get the audience to pay for.

(Sebastian Stan has reportedly been signed for nine of them, by the way. So apparently they think we'll pay for a lot.)

This relationship between Steve and Bucky is completely new to the movies. In the comics, Bucky Barnes was the wannabe hanger-on orphan quasi-adopted by the soldiers out at Camp Lehigh, where Steve was pretending not to be Captain America. He caught Cap getting into his superhero uniform once and sort of friendly-blackmailed him into letting Bucky be his sidekick. Teenage Bucky did die, and quite famously stayed dead for about 40 years of real time -- his death was cited in-universe as the reason that superheroes generally didn't have boy wonders, because absolutely no one wanted to carry around the kind of guilt that Steve Rogers carried for losing Bucky in the war. Sort of like Edna and the capes, only with stupid idealistic kids. The Winter Soldier plotline is more or less as presented, and I don't know how the audition process was run, but Sebastian Stan really is a dead ringer for the modern Winter Soldier character design, with the longer hair.

They are borrowing a bit from the Ultimates universe, where Bucky is Steve's childhood friend and goes over to Europe with him as a press photographer. I don't really follow Ultimates, because as far as I can tell it's the alternate universe in which everyone is an asshole to each other all the time even when it's not remotely necessary, but I'm told that in that one, Bucky's fate is more or less what Peggy's is in the films -- after Steve's apparent death, he moves on with his life, marries, remembers his friend fondly, and is occasionally visited by Cap (incognito) in his dotage.

(Ultimates also moves the timeline forward into the modern era. Originally, Cap crashed into the Arctic near the end of the war and was thawed out in 1964. Narratively, the book had been canceled ca. 1950, because the character of Cap didn't actually mesh too well with rabid anti-Communist witch hunts, and he was brought back as a way to point out that the world had changed a lot since World War II. As with the classic parable of the frog in a slowly-heating pot, everyone else was obliviously creeping towards a boil, and Steve had just been chucked into the water straight from the ice. He adjusted considerably less well than Steve from the movies, mainly because Steve's moral compass is keyed to 'doing right by the people around him,' and at first he had no real social connections in the modern world. He'd only slept through one generation, rather than nearly three, but it was one hell of a generation to miss. He spent a lot of time completely lost and discovering that my country, right or wrong was a totally different matter when your country was actively doing things that you considered very, very wrong.)

Standard Earth-616 Steve did have a childhood friend who ran interference for him and fended off the bullies; his name was Arnie, and he and Steve parted when Arnie enlisted in the Navy shortly before Steve got himself tangled with the Super Soldier program. I have no idea if the writers knew this when bashing out their new characterization for Bucky. The idea that someone kept Steve from being pasted as a kid wasn't exactly something that would have been difficult to come up with. If they composited the two on purpose, it's exactly the opposite of refutation to my love story argument up there. Arnie's first major named appearance in Captain America was in issue 270, where the A-plot was that Arnie comes to Cap for help rescuing his boyfriend of ten years from what appear to be giant purple carpet monsters. As is pointed out in this summary, your average fifth-grader in 1982 probably wouldn't twig to what was going on here, but from a slightly older point of view, that is as obvious as the writer could get about them being a gay couple without bringing down the wrath of the Comics Code on their heads and getting the issue canceled.

(The carpet monsters part probably isn't relevant. Strange art choices happen when your penciller is on a tight schedule.)

Steve does not just fail to give a shit about this, he fails to recognize that there is possibly some sort of shit to be given. His main reaction to Arnie's reunion with his boyfriend is, 'oh crap, I so screwed up earlier, I really need to go home and tell my girlfriend that I love her,' which is the issue's B-plot. This despite Cap being portrayed as really old-fashioned about girlfriends and sex, which is the other thing that would have gotten the issue canceled if they had spelled it out any more plainly. He continues to not think this is at all A Thing for another twenty or thirty issues, until someone makes an explicit point of torturing Arnie with it/over it. Cap's answer is basically "don't listen to them, there's nothing wrong with you, their hatred is their sickness", and then he throws his shield at stuff, which I feel carries an implicit message of YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP. Evil-of-the-Week uses Arnie to say outright that Steve couldn't possibly sympathize with a gay man unless he were gay himself, which Cap ignores completely.

It makes sense when you listen to this lovely person on DreamWidth who points out that the apartment he shared with Bucky in the movies is located right in the gay middle of Gay Central in the gay neighborhood of the gay end of Brooklyn. Right next to the Navy yard, in fact. Just post-unfreezing, I imagine Steve would do a double-take if he saw two well-dressed men canoodling openly in Central Park, but the "men canoodling" wouldn't really be the unfamiliar part. Furthermore, pre-war Steve was an art student, and I'm pretty sure art schools have been queer as fuck since whenever it was that the concepts of "art school" and "queerness" first managed to simultaneously exist as meaningful entities.

For the record, before these films came out, the standard Avengers slash pairing was Steve and Tony. It happens in the new fandom, but has been more or less eclipsed by the fact that Tony and Bruce roll off in the same sports car at the end of Avengers, and SCIENCEBROS.