Tag Archives: stereotypes

Self-hating? How about self-critical

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine last week where I was complaining about how I don’t get along with most gay men. She sympathized, noting how hard it is for her to make friends with women.

Another friend e-mailed me recently letting me know that she’s finding it hard to fit in with the LGBT subculture in a major American city where she recently moved. I initially (stupidly) thought that I could offer some words of comfort since I’ve been out longer than she has. As I wrote the e-mail, though, I realized that I had nothing to say on the matter. I’m out, yes, but I don’t belong to the subculture, do I? I have about 7 – 8 LGB friends in my life that I consider close – not including my boyfriend, all but two of them are women.

Marina and the Diamonds Girls

I feel the same way about gay men as Marina feels about girls.

At the time of the conversation mentioned at the beginning of the post, I wondered to myself if I was simply self-hating. I find myself posing the same question to myself again. Am I simply another gay man incapable of accepting himself for who he is, who would like to be able to pass, who would like to be considered straight-acting?

As far as the question of “straight-acting” goes, I’d like to shoot that down right away. I am happy to acknowledge my orientation. Did my blog’s name give it away for you?

My problem is that I don’t want to buy in the to expectations held out to us as gay men that we often help perpetuate. I am critical of these expectations, because I see how eagerly I bought into them for a time – and how I sometimes still stumble back on them. Not all expectations or stereotypes are necessarily bad or wrong. What is incontestably wrong with them, however, is when we limit ourselves and our identity, when we don’t dare push outside the lines that society has drawn for us where we have come to feel comfortable.

Being queer means rejecting dichotomy and erasing the boundaries that are set up for us. Hence why I prefer identifying as “queer” rather than “gay”.

How do you balance belonging without taking on all the baggage that gets added on? How do you negotiate your identity with what society tells you you are?

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1 Girl, 5 Gays

It’s amazing the amount of guilty pleasures you amass when you have functioning internet in your home.

No, I’m not watching Glee again. Arguably, my new guilty pleasure is ten times worse.

1 Girl, 5 Gays. Dun dun dun!

I have so many problems with this show – maybe even more than I have with Glee, which is obviously an over-the-top fictitious show that people watch to get a warm, tingly feeling.

I take issue with 1G5G because it claims to represent reality. This is a show more or less introducing gay male subculture primarily to, as far as I can tell, straight women. Since I haven’t had many queer friends in my life for the last year or so, I have to admit I like watching it for my own enlightenment… which isn’t the exact word I want, but it’s as close as I can get. Frankly, I don’t have many gay male friends and often the subculture to which I supposedly belong feels pretty foreign to me. So I appreciate the show’s concept.

I take issue, however, with the idea that LOGO/MTV Canada can present this show as representative of gay subculture. The show is set in Toronto, Canada. AKA one of the gayest cities in the world. There is a huge difference between the subculture of Toronto or Chicago or Seattle and mid-size towns, or small towns or country towns (at which point there no longer even is a subculture). When I brought up this point to a friend who got me watching the show in the first place she pointed out that the panelists on the show admit their privilege, being able to live in Toronto – although a handful do hail from elsewhere.

OK, fine. I can respect them for admitting their privilege and acknowledging that their lives would be very different if lived elsewhere.

Problem number two : Assumptions.

This show is so full of assumptions about gay men/gay male subculture. I can’t tell if the show is supposed to be more about stereotypes or genuinely engaging the panelists as individuals sharing their experiences within that subculture.

Examples. How about panelists being instructed to draw what they imagine to be the last hook-up the person next to you.

I don’t want to come off as being a saint, because God knows I sure as hell ain’t getting canonized any time in the near future, but it is irksome to me that the show is set up to promote these sorts of stereotypes: That gay men are all about the club scene, moving from one hookup to the next.

I also want to admit that there is often truth to stereotypes. In cities like Toronto there is a lot of focus on the club scene and hooking-up, even in smaller towns where there is something of a gay scene this often still holds true. But unless the show supposes itself to be Gay Stereotypes 101, then it has no business promulgating these stereotypes.

Were I a panelist on the show I wouldn’t have much to say on half the questions raised since I don’t belong to the club scene and don’t really do hook-ups. I would like to think that I have a lot to say about my experience as a gay male than just about hook-ups and clubbing.

Problem number three : The format.

1 Girl, 5 Gays ? Really ?

The format didn’t bother me quite so much until I saw a live episode (1 Girl, 5 Gays, 500 Fans). My stomach was churning.

I think it might be important for me to state that most of the panelists on the show do not bother me on the individual level. I find most of them very endearing, thoughtful, intelligent, and decent. I am not trying to insinuate anything negative about them (with maybe a few exceptions I won’t indulge here).

My stomach was churning because of the audience. My hunch that this was primarily being marketed to straight women was confirmed by the audience which was, by all appearances, 70% straight women.

Now this makes me mad for a few reasons. First of all, I think there is nothing wrong with non-queer people having an interest in queer culture and queer people. I think it’s healthy for people of any background to be interested in people who come from different backgrounds whether they be ethnic differences, linguistic differences, racial differences, religious differences, etc.

But it makes me sick to see the “fag-hag” obsession perpetuated. Not to say that all the women there were “fag-hags” or that just because you are a straight female who watches the show this qualifies you as a “fag-hag”. However in the live Q&A session you could see the fruitfly mentality coming through in the girlish, silly, sometimes downright stupid questions that were asked.

How about the girl who went up the microphone, said hello to Aaliyah and then, “Hi gays!” CRINGE. OK, how about if there were a show about life in Canadian black subculture and I came there as an outsider and wanted to ask a question and started off by saying, “Sup negroes!”

By the way, I would never say that, which is exactly my point.

The entire layout of the show seems half-pornographic/half-obsessive. The fact that you are creating D-list stars whose only qualification is being gay is pretty revolting. (How about listening to Andrew make fun of a fellow panelist for not having a Facebook fan page? VOMIT.) Again, not attacking the panelists themselves; it’s the concept behind it that bothers me. (Andrew bothers me too. Just sayin’.) It’s obsessive over a handful of reasonably good-looking individuals and super phallo-centric.

A better show concept would be to host a different panel of people every week from all different walks of life, from all different parts of the country and make it 1 Girl, 5 Queers. Why no women ? Because, like I said, the show’s creators are pretty obviously trying to market this to straight women. Straight women (mostly) don’t care about queer women. That might sound harsh, but it’s mostly the truth. Straight women wouldn’t be crowding a studio for a live taping, screaming incessantly for lesbians or bi-women, would they?

I am curious as a queer person to have queer women and men sit down together and talk about their experiences. This would foster a much less invasive/obsessive feel to the show, and help alleviate this undue obsession with gay male sexuality. (On the other hand, I don’t think straight men are all that interested in queer female sexuality. They just want to see lesbian porn – which is usually done by straight women anyways.)

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