proud to be gay (sort of)

daniel and i were walking back from dinner, pretty early on. there were two guys, late teen/early 20s, skaters. one guy: “and this guy just started dancing with us! and i didn’t know, you know, but he was nice and friendly and it wasn’t a huge deal. and then a couple minutes later he comes up and dances right behind me! and i turn around, and i’m like ‘bro, look, i don’t do that stuff, i’m not into guys’.”

daniel and i were passing them at right about this point in the story and are walking in front of them. daniel whispers in my ear: “LET’S HOLD HANDS RIGHT NOW!!!!!!” i made a face and shoved him.

holding hands with a guy can be scary. it’s taken me awhile to get comfortable with pda. helps to have a guy who can do it unabashedly.  one of the reasons i like him. 



dan: kevin, you look really gay
kevin: yeah, that’s my costume!!!!!!!!!!!!

(love kevin, btw)

dan: james, why are we the only two straight guys here

matt had brought a bunch of rainbow armbands. and i was pretty insistent on wearing lay-person clothes and nothing … loud?  the rainbow armband just didn’t …go with my look!…(?) “do you hate gay people james!?” “do you take it a compliment when people don’t think that you’re gay?!”

i wanted to revisit the “cute couple!” comments that we received at EDC.  to recap, two straight guy interactions:

1) at the dubstep stage, a guy with his girlfriend got our attention and goes, “just wanted to let you guys know, you guys are by far the sexiest gay couple here.”
2) daniel and i are walking away from the trance stage, and this drunk guy grabs me by the shoulder from behind and quasi drunkenly bellows “YOU BETTER FUCK THAT GUY TONIGHT!!!” in a very bro, encouraging sort of way. 

i later discussed with daniel why we got so many positive comments about us.  daniel’s theory was relatively innocuous: it’s a novelty to see an affectionate gay couple.  couple that with generally “obstacles that gay people deal with to find love” and we get extra points.  and that we are just that cute. 

my opinion is that it’s because daniel and i are just way more straight-acting than most gay couples.  normal person clothes.  straight-laced.  not shirtless and high out of our minds.  in which case, is it a good thing that we get complimented because we’re straight acting!?  is it like a socially-legitimized form of commending “normal” sexual behavior!?  insert the “is it self-loathing to be proud of the fact that you’re straight acting?” “is it okay to say ‘straight-acting’ without air quotes?” discussion.  which is taken care of here.

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Gawker – When Gay Men Think Baseball Caps Make Them Masculine

As a gay man, I find myself consumed by the concept of masculinity. Yet, I have only a vague idea of what defines it: strength, evenness, self-assuredness, vigor, substantial eyebrows, beer, sports, funk. I have an even more vague idea of whether or not I possess enough of it and what to do with it. To own one’s maleness is a matter of pride, but when that ownership consciously turns outward, it becomes about other people and takes on a theatrical affect. Performance is at odds with masculinity’s ease. I realize that cocky bravado runs rampant in straight guys, but even there it is inherently fraudulent.

This issue becomes even more confusing for gay men. As a gay, you understand that while you’ll always find peers who allow you to be exactly as queeny as you are, there is still a social hierarchy that puts a premium on masculinity. Tops are valued. “Straight-acting” is a badge of pride, despite the term’s corrosiveness. I’m not immune to this – my eye wanders toward men who appear to be more on the masculine side, and I don’t know why that is. Shavings of internalized homophobia that litter my brain could be the culprit. To counter, I’ve been considering adopting an affirmative-action policy toward femme guys. I tell myself, “Get into it,” like the drag queens/all of us say.

I’m learning to not be flattered when someone tells me I could pass for straight, and that’s the most confusing thing of all: for as many people who say they think I could, there are plenty of others who think that I’m flaming. I don’t even know what I’m like, but I know making sure all of my sentences don’t rise as they end is a full-time job – and it is exhausting.

more broadly, should gay people try to be more straight acting as a whole? 

gay people should normalize themselves: if gay people want acceptance within straight circles, we need to show how normal we are.  hence, we should stop polarizing/scaring straight people by being as unabashedly sexually promiscuous, stop doing things like folsom street fair and BDSM.  prove that we deserve the privilege of monogamous marriage. 

gay people should NOT normalize themselves: why do gay people have to play by straight rules?  trying to blend in as much as possible is basically discriminating against other people the in the gay community and calling them sexually deviant in a totally hypocritical way.  the basis of the lgbt movement is to be accepting of all types of people.  why are straight people the arbiters of sexual normalcy?

other perspectives:

1) colby keller (via piefolk)

It’s been a good strategy to make us more palatable to society at large. I don’t think we’re better [than straight people] because I think we should be more radical and we’re not. I don’t think [that gay marriage] is what our political struggle should be about. I think it’s about re-framing it in terms of queerness. I think it’s a ‘queer’ identity which anyone can have. You can be straight and be queer. The idea of conformity – the gays that say ‘I won’t be happy until I’m treated like every other straight person, and that includes marriage…’ not that that’s not something that doesn’t have value, or isn’t a good thing…

2) richard lawson (via atlantic wire)

Inoffensive Gay People on TV Continue to Not Offend

I’ve no doubt that Modern Family and Glee and that nominally gay guy who never dates anyone on Happy Endings (his plotlines usually involve food) are doing something toward normalizing acceptance (while also perhaps perilously normalizing queer people, which we can debate about another time) and putting out positive examples and whatnot. But the gains, at this point, seem not radical enough that filling up media and television sections of blogs and other publications with yearly softballs about how a gay guy is on TV and no one bombed Stonewall fall a little flat. Tell me, what do the North Carolinians who just voted overwhelmingly to constitutionally ban gay marriage AND civil unions think about Modern Family? How many inroads have Cam and Mitchell made in the darker corners of that state?

and then i COMMENTED asking richard what he meant by “perilously normalizing”, and then RICHARD LAWSON MY FAVORITE TV CRITIC OF ALL TIME responded to my question thusly:

In that we’re generally speaking in heteronormative terms when we use the world “normal.” I guess I can’t help but question the compromise that in order to be politically and legally accepted by the straight world, we have to become exactly like them. (i.e. marriage, domesticity, kids, etc.)  Why do they get to set the terms? (I mean, I know why they do, because they run things, but you know what I mean.) It’s gotten to the point where honest depictions of some gay people — a flamboyant gay man or promiscuous one or a butch lesbian — have been deemed offensive by the gay community, because the straight world told us that those things were unacceptable. We’re increasingly dancing to their tune and I think there’s a loss somewhere in that.


2012-06-24 15.31.51
i wore the rainbow armband on the sunday. it felt pretty great. the first year i have really felt the significance/festivity/atmosphere/pride/community involved with the event.

Richard Lawson – Losing Pride in the Pride Parade

Yesterday was Gay Pride day around the nation, with parades in many major cities and a loose, circusy feeling spilling out of many a bar onto the sidewalks. It’s a fun day! But something struck me while watching the parade slowly make its way down 5th Avenue in New York yesterday: The parade itself has gotten a little boring.

Well, maybe “boring” isn’t the right word. There are still the beloved Dykes on Bikes leading the way, still house music-pumping floats featuring drag queens and scantily clad, musclebound hunks representing the city’s rowdier gay bars. And there is still the exciting, one-world multiculti presence of various queer groups from immigrant communities, from Peru to Malaysia, to enliven and diversify the lineup. Aspects of the parade certainly aren’t boring. But suddenly peppered throughout the great old crowd favorites are corporate floats and political groups that essentially have nothing to do with gay rights or gay pride. The parade feels maybe a little co-opted these days, and thus a little less subversive, daring, or fun.

After leaving the parade yesterday, I made a joke on Twitter that my favorite floats were TD Bank and MasterCard (they actually didn’t have a proper float, if I remember correctly, but they were there), making a sarcastic comment about the parade becoming tedious and corporatized. Whatever poor soul who runs the Twitter account for TD didn’t quite pick up on my sarcasm and I suddenly felt bad, because, as a friend pointed out while we stood in a crowded Chelsea bar, we get angry when a company like Chick-fil-A, donates to anti-gay groups. So why should we scoff at a corporation tossing their favor to the gays and showing up for Pride? I understand that thinking politically, but in terms of wanting to go to a parade that doesn’t feel cynical or bought or capitalized on, I guess I’d prefer financial services companies not be in attendance.

Maybe it’s generational, maybe I’m just yet another in an unending succession of people claiming that the parade or any similar event has lost its teeth, lost what made it exciting. There were plenty of younger kids in the crowd and in the actual procession who looked thrilled to be there, both to be unabashedly themselves on a big crowded street in New York City and to be surrounded by so many supportive peers and allies. It’s also maybe cultural. As witnessed by the strong presence of Caribbean, Indian, Asian, and other fiercely proud cultural groups in yesterday’s parade, Pride is still a pretty vital tool for a lot of people who aren’t, y’know, upper middle class white guys. Maybe I got all I needed out of it years ago and am now just finding flaws and nitpicking for the sake of finding flaws and nitpicking. Maybe my own problems have largely been answered — I can get married in my home state and my adopted state, I haven’t been met with any real discrimination or harassment since high school — so I should get out of the way and cheer on the people who really need Pride. I should let them enjoy it without some weary old jerk complaining about corporate shilling and political coopting.

Whatever is going on, I’ve lost a bit of connection to the event. It’s still fun to tap into the day’s louche energy, to drink a little more than you should on a Sunday, to add a little more swish to your step than you normally would. But the parade itself feels a bit taken-over, it plays like a bought-and-sold pretend version of what it once was. Again, that’s probably a matter of perspective and people like me should stop complaining, but did we really need the TD Bank float? Unless they’re throwing out money, they’re not really adding to the party.

largely share his feelings for pride.  i walked through the parade staging area.  google/facebook, sure, maybe they should have big contingents.  but virgin airlines?  BANK OF AMERICA?! 

sean’s parents went to pride this year!  and snapped a photo and sent it to him.  one of the things that sam told me is that one of the unintended and not half good half bad consequences of the normalizing of gay people is that straight people all come to gay events.  which, pros, great, greater acceptance, etc.  cons, the gay community loses a bit of its identity.  that, and apparently, straight people are way more dangerous, which sam cited as the reason why pride has gotten increasingly more restrictive. 

SF Weekly – Pride Honoree Gilbert Baker Hates the Word “Pride” (via patrick)

“It drives me crazy [the title of the movement and its festival] went from liberation and freedom to pride,” he continued. “Pride, as a word, has a double edge. It has two meanings — and one is pretty negative. It never really fit me. I’m not proud I’m gay. I am gay. It’s just who I am. They turned liberation and freedom into a product. It’s hard for corporations to embrace something like liberation and freedom.”

angeles and i have this argument occasionally, whether you should ever compliment people for inherent qualities.  people can’t control genetic qualities, instead compliment things that they can put effort into and control.  EXAMPLES:

DO NOT SAY: “you are so beautiful!”
SAY INSTEAD: “your hair looks really great today!”

DO NOT SAY: “wow, you are smart!”
SAY INSTEAD: “you developed a very strong mastery of that subject!”

re: whether pride should exist, the consensus counterargument to the above is that: there’s so much stigma and shame involved with being gay, that you need pride to counteract that movement.  like “pride” itself can be a good thing or a bad thing (maybe why “white pride” doesn’t exist), but arguably, gay pride is very beneficial to the gay community at large. 

gay dreams

random image!  but yeah.  lol.


gay marriage

andrew sullivan – 76-22 percent

That was the margin for Obama among gay voters. The generational shift is profound:

Only 1.9 percent of Americans over 65 identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the Gallup survey, while 3.2 percent of those between 30 and 49 and 6.4 percent of those between 18 and 29 do.

More to the point, among straight voters, the result was 49-49 percent for both Obama and Romney. So that kinda means gays won the election for Obama, right? Kinda. More realistically, it simply means that the era of using gays as election-bait – Rove’s and Morris’s strategies in 1996 and 2004 – is now over. We have arrived. We are winners. We make politicians winners. And more are on the way.

but yeah, all 3 marriage initiatives passing (up to 9 states), generally accepted belief that it has national majority support, first out gay woman to get into the senate, etc.  many big milestones. 

no morals to prove

if god were homophobic

chris c, what a wet blanket:

Chris: phew
me: lol
sigh of relief?
i actually wish i could be in the castro now 😦
Chris: yesss
lol, why?
me: to feel that communal sense of excitement and celebration
gay marriage too
Chris: i don’t really like the idea of election parties…
me: hahaha
no fun
Chris: it’s celebratory – but it’s a REALLY important moment for introspection
Chris: and prospectives

also, from election night:

Sam: Where is the afterparty? 11:04 PM
Me: hahahaha, 1015 folsom, see you there with the drugs 11:08 PM
Sam: Hmmmm maybe Castro.. 11:12 PM
Sam: On reflection: after party is4 years long 11:26 PM

the supreme court has also taken up gay marriage.  i’ve read some articles, none of which make any sense.  like this:

in agreeing to hear Perry v. Hollingsworth, it adopted the extreme way the petitioners framed the question—that is, whether “the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”

This may sound neutral, but it’s not. Why? The 14th Amendment forbids discrimination, yet the petitioners’ question completely erases the people discriminated against—same-sex couples.

in any case, two fun conversation points:

1) from gawker: (tl;dr, SCOTUS in a double bind, sucks in either case) (though i think there are several middle road options)

“What do they have to gain by hearing this case? Either they impose same sex marriage on the whole country, which would create a political firestorm, or they say there’s no right to same-sex marriage, in which case they are going to be reversed in 20 years and be badly remembered. They’ll be the villains in the historical narrative.” 

2) from huffpo (tl;dr, roe v wade, another time when the supreme court made states change their laws on another unpopular social issue, only caused to further the antagonism toward abortion)

Opponents of gay marriage look to another court case, Roe v. Wade, that they say should serve as a cautionary tale. In 1973, the court voted 7-2 to declare that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion.

“Should the Supreme Court decide to overturn the marriage laws of 41 states, the ruling would become even more divisive than the court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Marriage, unlike abortion laws in the 1970s, has been incorporated into the state constitutions of 30 states. Voters in these states will not accept an activist court redefining our most fundamental social institution.”

To a degree, Perkins and Bonauto get some support from one of the nine people with a say in the matter, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In February, Ginsburg questioned the timing of the abortion decision and suggested it may have contributed to the ongoing bitter debate about abortion.


One thought on “proud to be gay (sort of)

  1. Patrick says:

    ugh, richard

    “It’s gotten to the point where honest depictions of some gay people — a flamboyant gay man or promiscuous one or a butch lesbian — have been deemed offensive by the gay community, because the straight world told us that those things were unacceptable. ”

    isn’t that a totally arbitrary conclusion? i disagree. i just think (as you know, james) that perhaps there’s a huge contingent of gay people who are ‘straight acting’ (for lack of better term) and who have been oppressed by both straights and gays (‘self hating’, ‘trying to pass’, ‘not gay enough’, ‘no pride’) etc for decades and now it’s OUR time.

    good entry! good discussion. worth the wait.

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