Another of my essays for a college-level English class; this one addresses the new image of gay men in mainstream media. You can read it as a pdf file here. It builds on some themes and concepts presented in What Makes a Man, a Man? as well as this post from two years ago.
It is satisfying to see that we’ve progressed from being the limp-wristed, ‘effeminate’, sex-crazed people (without personal power yet supposedly able to corrupt ‘pure youth’ and bring socialism to fruition in the United States) as presented some fifty years ago. Modern tv shows and movies present a wider selection of gay characters that, in many ways, are nearly straight. Scotty and Kevin Walker (“Brothers & Sisters“) adopt a foster child, struggle with issues of infidelity and are no more neurotic than the rest of the Walker clan. Will Truman (“Will & Grace“) as the main gay character was certainly ‘more straight’ than Jack, who went through boyfriends faster than most of us get an oil change.
Some of this is generational; or so the boys on “One Girl; Five Gays” made clear on a recent episode. It seems they all are looking for monogamy and dismiss “promiscuity” as a remnant of the Seventies; a part of our history they found embarrassing. I am guessing they wouldn’t enjoy reading my collection of poetic prose from back then.
I am glad that Canada (and some other progressive societies) have come to accept marriage equality as reasonable and proper; it is right that those who want it have access to it. But as the divorce rate (and the number of couples ‘living in sin’) rises in the straight community, I wonder why so many gay people seem to idolize marriage. I can but hope that much of it is just the fact that it’s now possible; certainly as a teenager I dismissed the idea of ever getting married. But it would be a shame if young gay folk think it’s the only way to be accepted by the larger society. Assimilation is for The Borg.
There was a time when being “queer” meant we demanded our right to live an authentic life, in a style and manner of our choosing. Some of us continue to live in ‘non-traditional’ households; I find it both strange and somewhat satisfying that, at age 52 I am less traditional than many other gay college kids.
The position I take is also seen as arguing against “Respectability Politics” – see this recent piece for additional thoughts on why we need to maintain and honour our queerness. #mainstreamingqueers