Monday, October 30, 2006

Gay Panic

Sometimes there's a confluence of ideas or opinions in the world, at least from an individual's point of view, that make it seem as if everyone's all of a sudden obsessed with an idea not quite worthy of all the attention. This weekend, for me, the notion that's cropping up everywhere I turn is how gay all the straight men in America are becoming.

While perhaps new for America, the gayification of heterosexual men has long been recognized as a forgone conclusion in Europe, where it's often next to impossible to tell them apart, leading to the popular online parlor game of
"Gay or Eurotrash." It was shortly after that game swept through email chains around the country that a pre-emptive framing of the potential for the same phenomenon to invade the U.S. (further spurred on by the success of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") emerged, offering an alternative to either gay or Eurotrash: the already dated "Metrosexual."

But that's not quite what I'm talking about here. It's not simply the way more heterosexual men have discovered expensive hair product and designer shoes. There's now a growing sensibility that you simply can't assume a self-proclaimed "straight" American male is being truthful about his orientation. The Mark Foley scandal is most likely the most catalyst here (
bloggy points us to this "all Republicans are gay" piece by James Wolcott), but perhaps there's also simply a wider awareness of the metaphors and meaning of basic male interactions and how they are bound up with basic human sexuality (again, bloggy points us to this wonderful social analysis by Momus on "homosocial" interactions between straight men).

Mind you, this is after a weekend in which a talented curator I know who stopped in the gallery discussed at length how "gay" has ceased being a political self-identifier and become instead an adjective for any otherwise heterosexual male who's ever had an iffy dream about Johnny Depp or momentarily lowered his gaze in a public shower, that is, when it's not used to mean "uncool" (which is simply bigotry, but I'll save that for another post). And then at home, I popped in the latest South Park DVD Netflix forwarded us (we're watching them all in order), and there was the, er, fabulous Metrosexual episode. You can read
the script here, but I'll quote their moral conclusion, as expressed by three desperate wives of men who had become a bit too precious about their appearance (so desperate in fact that they decide they have no choice but to kill the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fellows):

Sharon: We're sorry, but we didn't have a choice. You see, at first we liked having our men be clean and neat. We thought that having them use product in their hair and wanting facials would make them sexier. But it doesn't.
Linda: That's right. Event though my Steven sickens me out sometimes, it's his rugged manly grossness that I'm attracted to.
Sarah: We're sorry, but we knew that the only answer was tuh kill the Queer Eye guys.
Then, turning to Tyler's blog, I read that for straight American men, not only has taking pride in one's appearance been equated with being "gay," but thanks to an apparently desperate politician in Idaho, supporting art is now equal to being gay. You have to read the whole thing, but here's the heart of the matter:

In the wake of the Mark Foley scandal, when Republicans were reminded that they could no longer pretend that gay people were not a part of their party, "arts" is the new way of insinuating gay. Sure, not all arts people are gay. But people who like art probably know people who are gay. That means that they tolerate gay people and, in [Republican candidate Bill] Sali's campaignÂ’s parlance, that's not a "traditional Idaho value."
Even as a gay man, I'm growing weary of all this, but apparently there's so much confusion that folks are getting a bit worked up. Let me set the record, er...yeah, you know:
If you don't like to sleep with other people of the same gender, you're not homosexual. No matter how many manicures you get or even if you support the arts, you're not gay. OK?
As Mr. Garrison notes in South Park, when he's trying to kill the Queer Eye guys (yes, it's a running gag), who don't understand why he's upset with them:

But don't you see the price? You're selling out your own kind. Look, us gays have created a lifestyle, a, a culture that is uniquely ours. If we keep trying to make straight people into us, well, we're gonna have no identity left.
Indeed, gay Americans have more to be worried about by the gayification of the heterosexual men than straight women do (fads come and go, Ladies. Remember "Hai Karate" aftershave?). Not that there's anything wrong with being well-dressed if you're straight, mind you, just that if everyone's fabulous, well, then in the end, who's gonna stand out at the Halloween parade?


Blogger Mark said...

Damn, and FedEx just delivered my new man purse, perfect for crusing Chelsea art galleries.

10/30/2006 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous bambino said...

timmy timmy timmy timmy

timmy timmyyyyy

10/30/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger kelli said...

Really liked Sandra Bem and androgyny or gender schema which can be summed up: why charm half of the people half of the time when you can charm everyone all the time. Same sex attraction is the ultimate maladaptive trait (unlikely to produce offspring) and evolutionary biologists tend to think it defuses aggression in heirarchies. It goes back to the Renaissance ideal of the gentle-man.

10/30/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

Not, to make a total joke out of this-- but to a large extent just being nice in America sets off the "gaydars". " Sugar and Spice, makes girls, while boys have the "everything rotten" standard to uphold.

I guess lucky for us, America's first frat boy President is showing the world that we ain't gay!

10/30/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

America's first frat boy President is showing the world that we ain't gay!

Puh-leaze...starting wars don't make you straight...ask Alexander the Great...and Bush uses "fabulous" more than I do, kissed Joe Lieberman, and purses his lips like a well-seasoned drag queen when he's peeved. He may not sleep with men (thank God), but he's hardly a paragon of extreme machismo (truly, I know gay men 50 times butcher than Bush is).

10/30/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy !!! LOL

10/30/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What comes to mind:

"Gays invented Art." I said.


10/30/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...


10/30/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the "Timmy". Anyone? I guess I'm not gay.

10/30/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I don't understand the "Timmy".

South Park Season 6 (I believe) when Kenny was "really" dead, in the opening credits song, where Kenny had sung his muffled lyrics, they were replaced by Timmy singing his name over and over and over again. If you watch religiously, it's a hilarious inside joke...nothing to do with being gay. And yes, we need to get out more.

10/30/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks. I don't have cable, being a starving artist.

10/30/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I don't have cable either...being a cheap son-of-a-b*tch...but I watch them on DVD, which is better, because you can see several episodes in a row and get a really great South Park buzz...

10/30/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10/30/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger rb said...

all i know is i enjoy being a boy

10/30/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...

and all i know is i enjoy being with boy

10/31/2006 08:26:00 AM  
Anonymous onesock said...

I am off to vote early!!!!!!!!!!

10/31/2006 10:03:00 AM  

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