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A Tale of Two Gays November 12, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Culture, Gay and Lesbian Issues, Observations, Popular Culture.
Tags: ,

You’ve probably been lucky enough to never have seen “The A-List: New York,” Logo’s attempt at a gay version of the “Real Housewives of Wherever.” If you have, for whatever reason, watched this execrable show, you’ve probably been treated to the idiocy that is Reichen Lemkuhl. You may remember him from such shows as “The Amazing Race,” where he and his then-partner Chip won. Way back then, we thought that Chip and Reichen were a gay godsend from above, a role model couple for gays everywhere.

Then, they broke up. Oh, well, we thought. It happens. Couples break up all the time. But then, Lance Bass came out and then he and Reichen started dating.

Fig. 1: I ain’t saying he’s a golddigger…

We began to worry that Reichen was a little bit famewhorish. We tried to ignore stuff like him speaking or his book “Here’s What We’ll Say: Reichen Has a Ghostwriter” and merely enjoy that he was a pretty, pretty man.

But then he signed onto this A-List show. If you want an example of what I’m hinting at, just try watching one episode of this bullshit. And by the end of the first episode, whatever attractiveness Lemkuhl had had evaporated. It’s always sad when dumb people don’t realize they’re dumb. Dumb people usually say dumb shit and then think that the dumb shit they’ve stupidly said is deeply profound instead of dumb. So when Reichen sat down with AfterElton.com to do an interview, one could reasonably expect some dumb shit to fall out of his mouth. Here’s what he has to say about the show and the way it represents gay men:

AE: I’m sure you’re aware, but there’s been a lot of criticism from gay folks that the show is sending out this image that gay men are vapid or superficial. I’m curious if you were surprised by that, the reaction. Secondly, how do you respond?
RL: I’m not totally surprised by it, because I’m a member of the gay community and we take a lot of things personally. We’re a very insecure community about the way that we are portrayed or the way we’re thought about by straight people. We’ve sort of been beholden to the way straight people think about us, and we let that control our community a lot of the time.

I just did a video for my Facebook saying look, it’s a television show made for the purpose of entertainment and we’re not here to represent the whole gay community — we can only represent seven people in the gay community, and watch it for that. Watch it as a TV show. If you think we’re a bad representation of the gay community, it’s like, every gay person knows … we all know the way these seven guys, including myself, act on the show are an accurate representation of the way a lot of gay people act.

For you, as a gay person, to deny that this is a fair representation of the gay community, you’re fooling yourself. What you’re really trying to say is, you’re worried about how we look to straight people. In my video I say this is what we have to stop doing as a community — stop worrying about how we’re portrayed to straight people. No matter how we’re portrayed, it’s how we are.

If every gay guy in America wants to walk around in a dress all day long and sing show tunes and be as stereotypically gay as possible, we still deserve our rights. We still should demand our rights, and we shouldn’t be worried that we don’t have credibility to demand our rights because straight people look at us differently. We still deserve our rights.

When we start cutting each other down from the inside and say “He’s the wrong kind of gay and he’s the right kind of gay”… We should start saying “Okay. As a gay person, I accept all people and the way they act in the gay community, even the way they’re acting on the A-List because that is a fair representation of the way a lot of gay people act.”

Okay, let’s break this fuckery down, shall we?
1. Worrying about what heterosexuals think is only half the problem here.
Reichen seems to want to cover up the fact that this show is full of vapid morons by deflecting. If he thinks that all the detractors of this show are criticizing him and the rest of these self-absorbed morons is because we’re all worried what The Straights will think of us, then that lone marble he calls a brain really is defective.

2. Saying “it’s how we are” shows just how stupid, self-absorbed, and pathetic Reichen is.
He seems to want to have his stupid cake and eat it too. He basically says, “Don’t watch this show thinking it’s a representation of what being gay is, until it is.” Well, which is it, Reichen? And if this is what you think “we” are, Reichen, then that explains a lot about your boyfriending your way through half the Western Hemisphere.

3. This show already presents “the right kind of gay”—and it’s as stereotypically horrible as one might expect.
To follow up on the “it’s how we are” statement: to let this show tell it, gay men are shallow, narcissistic, stupid, self-absorbed, arrogant-without-portfolio, vapid, whorish, catty, status-seeking, vainglorious and morally deficient fucktarded bastards. The “right kind of gay” according to this show is a white male—Latino men are acceptable, so long as they conform to the ever-so exacting standards of whiteness.

Now, let’s be real; I’m certainly not expecting Reichen or anyone else on this Real Housewives-inspired bit of foolishness to be a Gay Yoda. One doesn’t watch this kind of show expecting Afterschool Special messages of gay greatness—but it’d be nice if Reichen possessed enough self-awareness and savvy to say, “Look, this is a show where we’re playing roles—and the audience isn’t going to be interested in watching guys sit around waxing philosophical about gender representation, so we give them what they want: hot guys and catty bitches.”

What really throws his comments about the “A-List” into sharp relief is this week’s episode of “Glee.” The main story focused on babygay Kurt and him being bullied at McKinley High. Fed up with being pushed around by one particular meathead, Kurt snuck off to a rival school, Dalton Academy and met Blaine, a student there and a member of that school’s glee club. That led to this:

Frankly, whatever I could say about this pales in comparison to how Tom and Lorenzo broke it down:

To the straight people reading us: remember high school? Remember your favorite songs and movies, TV shows and music videos from that period? Imagine if all of that media bombardment telling you what to like, what to wear, and how to be attractive, popular, and cool, imagine that all of that aimed for and addressed everyone else but you. Imagine what it’s like when every sappy love song (or angry breakup song), every rom com, every trendy TV show and blockbuster movie, even every video game, imagine if they all depicted a form of romantic love that simply isn’t available to you. Imagine going through high school without even so much as a hint of yourself reflected in any of the things you watch and listen to, any of the things that literally every other kid is talking about. Imagine the one thing you want more than anything in the world: to be kissed, please god, just to be kissed, imagine you have never seen that depicted anywhere or referred to in any way but as something to be mocked and shunned.

We grew unexpectedly teary-eyed watching this number. Not because sappy teenage pop songs get us worked up, but because the sight of a sappy teenage pop song being sung by one cute teenage boy to another cute teenage boy is still, sad to say, an extreme rarity. All we could think while watching this number was, “My god. What would it have been like to see this at 14?” To have the media offer up a romantic fantasy that actually reflected what we secretly yearned for.

What would it have been like, indeed? All I have to say is head on over to TLo and read the rest of what they have to say. Certainly, “Glee” has not been perfect when it comes to representing gay experiences on television, but this is a giant leap forward. Where have we ever seen a male singing a pop song to another male? Sure, this Dalton Academy is, like Blaine himself, a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy that gay kids need to see. Sure, it’s great that adults left, right, and center are taking to YouTube to tell gay kids that “It Gets Better,” but it’s a helluva lot better for gay kids to actually see representations of their experiences, fantasy or no. When I was a teenager, I remember going to the downtown library and looking for anything that had to do with being gay. Certainly, there was nothing in popular culture or in adolescent culture that would have spoken to being gay—outside of tragedy, that is. And the popular music of the day was completely heterosexual—George Michael hadn’t come out yet, and all the boy bands were singing to teenage girls (even if 90% of them were gayer than a rainbow-painted picnic basket full of lube and condoms in the middle of the Castro during Pride). I, like many other people, have wondered, “What would being a gay teenager have been like if this had been around?” What if gay teens are able to see representations of their experiences that aren’t always framed by tragedy or ostracism? What if they can actually go to the prom with their dates just like everyone else and not have to engage in court battles just to go to the damn prom?

Well, one thing is for certain: Blaine and “Teenage Dream” was a helluva lot better than Logo’s “The A-List.”



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