How the hell did this happen?

In my lifetime we have gone from being a mocked and maligned group of deviants, not worth the effort even to persecute, to being the nation’s BFF.

Is it wrong got me to wish that everyone would STFU already? I’m sick of having to be fabulous 24/7. Yes, it’s a strain. Most of the gay men I know are far from fabulous. Nobody swishes or cares much about drag races. I’ve always thought that stuff was a product of the ghetto, much more popular among our str8 allies than those of us engaged in the day to day stuff of life. I suppose there are still circuit parties though I’ve never been to one; I don’t even know what the name means. I look forward to the post-gay world when we can all finally hang up our assless chaps and carry 15lbs too much extra weight like str8 men. (Full disclosure, some of us already do.)

Gay bars are closing, discos seem to be a thing of the past, now young men can hook up via Grindr. Whether we think that’s a good thing depends on how much we think our opinions should govern the actions of others. But at least you don’t need to get shitfaced to get a decent blow job. Which is progress of sorts. Some among us lament the passing of gayborhoods and community, as we gentrify downtown Detroit but I think it’s a good thing. If there’s nothing so very terrible about being gay there’s nothing so very wonderful either. And no, Shirley, gay men do not all have innate good taste.

Let me take a moment to explain why I have no patience for that myth. Growing up gay, in the past, one shouldered a huge burden of shame – or let me put that another way, as a child it seemed huge because one was, well, a child and if your parents found out it would probably kill them. Unfortunately, this never seemed to work out. So one carried that feeling forward. Looking back, of course one is apt to wonder, what was the big problem? My theory is that Having Good Taste was a way for a gay man to mediate (as we say in gender studies) a place in the larger society that was non-threatening and could actually be encouraged: i.e., we did something useful. And if we couldn’t be invited to dinner we could at least stop by for drinks. When I worked in Birmingham, AL, some years back, I worked with some very effeminate men who had all been integral to the look of George Wallace’s wife and their houses. Same was true of Regan. Courts have always been staffed by eunuchs, which is what these men essentially were. Ken Mehlman, to give a more contemporary example, was only required to be ‘discreet’ while on active duty and once removed from DC was allowed to come out.

That’s what’s made the difference: we went from being invisible – aka, your favorite soap star – to being everywhere. And once the nation got over the panic of the Gays taking over the world and recruiting their children into The Lifestyle, the nation came to see that gay men and women are just as boring as their str8 counterpart. Which is as it should be. The last bastions of the closet are those areas most permeated with our culture’s obsession with the idea of masculinity: Hollywood and Sport. But even there things seem to be changing as we begin to understand that all men like pretty things and dressing up. It’s what men do. Nothing to be afraid of. If you want to see some truly pretty men spending hours each day primping so they look just perfect visit an army barracks. I’ve never seen so many mirrors. It’s worse than being backstage at Covent Garden.

Nothing makes a man feel like a man like a big fancy hat. That’s just human nature.

In the meantime, we have of course provided a fund-raising bonanza for all kinds of ‘advocacy’ groups. The National Organization for Marriage, a Catholic front group funded it’s thought by five or six individuals with deep pockets and an overwhelming obsession with butt-secks, has just launched a boycott of General Mills for this image. They’re up to about 16,000 followers on Facebook.

One can only throw up one’s astonished hands. Happy Pride.


The realization that gay people are just like us is perversely terrifying to a good number of straight people. Still, we are moving down the right path, and at a fairly astonishing pace. Even my über-Catholic mom (she sent get-well cards to JPII, for serious), who is keen on traditional gender roles and the like, shrugs when asked about same-sex marriage.

The gay and lesbian couples I know, including my daughter and her partner, regularly engage in such shocking behavior as going to the market, going to Home Depot, working, and watching movies on Netflix.

And where can I get these gay Oreos? I’m already carrying more than 15 lbs of extra junk in the trunk, so wtf.

@mellbell: Strange to say, it scares a lot of gay men, too. I don’t know about women. For some reason the gay world is very segregated along gender lines. At least, that’s my experience. I don’t know why. But for many the idea of ‘assimilation’ causes much distress. In this, as in much of the language used against us, we find echoes of aspects of the experience of Jewish Americans.

I should add, though, that I cannot think of another city than New York in which first Stonewall, and then ActUp could have begun. Both are movements that have gone round the world. European gays imitate us; for all their perceived advantages they still admire the US for what they see as our willingness to tell it like it is. I suspect our next big advance will come when someone figures out how to make money from coming out. Then you’ll see all the Republicans running to cash in. And since of the two parties the GOP is waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy gayer, you might very well see the earth tilt on its axis.

@blogenfreude: Hollywood. Where Fear Rules. Full confession, I feel sorry for him. She’ll no doubt get a huge settlement and he’ll marry Queen Latifah.

@Dodgerblue: Life chez nous is so boring I’m bored by how boring it is. Disclaimer states such ‘creme’ colors are not found in nature. Not unlike Michele Bachmann’s face.

@Benedick: QL would whip his ass right into line.

@Benedick: There are no greater arguments in the gay blogosphere than those about heteronormativity and assimilation in re the fight for marriage equality and how everything is boring now — watching queer theorists and sociology majors argue with others is quite entertaining.

@Benedick: There is an implied “for sale” after “do not exist,” but I prefer to believe that Kraft is on the cutting edge of hypothetical particle physics.

@rptrcub: heteronormativity

Setting aside the sheer monstrousness of that word, and setting aside the fact that “heteronormativity” covers such a broad range of behavior as to be rendered meaningless…

How much of any “normative” behavior is affectation?

That is: We’re all social critters by nature, and we’re all trying to blend in with [Insert Desired Peer Group Here], and while some of us defiantly wear Birks with socks because Fuck You I’m From Orygun, we’re all making some kind of behavioral compromise to not stick out like a sore thumb.

In other words: Homonormativity is just as much as Pose as Heteronormativity, and everybody Vogues as they choose.

@rptrcub: You’ve been talking with my daughter?

@Benedick: He’ll marry Justice Roberts.

@nojo: My normative behavior includes staying at home on Saturday nights and eating queso dip with Mr. Cub while watching Netflix, then going to bed at 11. Then again, straight people can be more exciting than that. My pose is a result of being flat out too lazy to leave the house rather than trying to fit in or be flamboyantly fabulous.

@Dodgerblue: Sociology major?

I think a lot of that is generational. Men of my cohort (ahem) found the very idea of belonging to the greater society like some fairytale. Of course, reaching further back say to Catt’s youth, there was a much greater mingling of straight and gay: we didn’t get so severely defined till we started the fight for civil rights which seemed to begin in ernest after WWII. Of course the world is defined in heterosexual ways because most of humanity is that way inclined. All I need is a corner for myself where I can watch Two and a Half Men in peace while hubby rants about Ashton Kutcher’s enormous talent. I think to expect anything else is kinda delusional.

@mellbell: Speaking of physics, you know what I hate? When Angry Birds Seasons Pigopolis comes out and you’ve aced it in one day. Such is my thirst for knowledge. It’s all about the physics. (Oooo. They can go underwater. And the white birds egg bombs float. Oooo)

@Benedick: I think that’s what all of us are looking for, really.

@Benedick: It’s all about the physics.

Silent Creative Partner: “Can you do Cut the Rope?”

Moi: “Not yet. Programming game physics is beyond my range at the moment.”

SCP: “I mean the animations in the introduction.”

Moi: “Oh. Sure. I got that fucking frog to fucking float. Bring it on.”

Beautiful piece, Bene.

Agree with Nojo re: “heteronormativity” — words like that are the reason going into academia was never an option for me.

@SanFranLefty: words like that are the reason going into academia was never an option for me.

There’s no Normativity like Academanormativity. Intellectual Fashion Victims are the worst.

@nojo: Welcome to my job — translating all that shit.

@rptrcub: Used to be my job, when I worked at the alumni magazine. The problem with that situation was that I had to respect the Tenured Fools.

Friend of mine had it better: Campus science writer. You’re still dealing with Impenetrable Concepts, but at least (real) physics is amenable to publicly accessible metaphor.

@nojo: I actually am the science writer. I prefer geography, geology and anthropology — I get to go out on assignment to pretty neat places. As one could guess, sociology is one of my least favorites, due to the fact that I pretty much can’t publicize anything they do due to red state politics and not wanting to piss off the legislature.

@SanFranLefty: Thanks.

Jargon is jargon. Sometimes I’m glad I didn’t go to school. I certainly brag about it enough.

@rptrcub: Oh. Right. Sociology is “science”.

I don’t recall whether my friend got stuck with the social-sciences beat. At least, she never talked about them — it was always what the Cool Physicists and Cool Biologists and Cool Geologists were up to.

Just in case you’re not all up to speed with the latest in anti-gay thought from Porno Pete you can check this out for your edification. AFTAH is on the SPLC hate group list.

BTW, I’m puzzled. How is it that no inkling of the ACA decision was leaked? Is that usual? And how on earth is it done?


@nojo: Psych can be interesting. Sociology was thrown at me along with a gajillion other subjects due to layoffs. They even gave me some humanities, like history — which I really don’t mind.

@Benedick: I had read a discussion about this question. It was argued that because there are so few people “in the know” it would be difficult if not impossible to not be found out, and the very negative effect on future career prospects in a business that puts a premium on confidentiality pretty much guarantees no one is going to take the risk.

@karen marie still has her eyes tight shut: I was wondering, with all the clerks and everyone around, surely someone must have a gf or bf and a fondness say for recreational pharmaceuticals?

@Benedick: You honestly play Angry Birds? No judging. Just, like, really?

When I taught composition for a hot minute, this was one of my students’ readings. One student refused to read it because of the subject matter and how it conflicted with his religious beliefs. He was from an ex-Soviet bloc country, and they worshiped in secret, hence the superdupertrooper religious stuff.

I gave him a more in-depth bio of Sullivan–he was shocked–and I told him that he never has to agree with anything he reads. The whole point was to read critically [I have issues with the piece that relate to socioeconomic class]. He didn’t even have to read it, but if he refuses to read things because the subject matter offends him, he risks shutting himself off from many facets of the world that he lives in, like it or not. He’d be shutting himself off from learning, and did he want everyone in the world to think just like he does? He already knew what that type of oppression feels like.

He read it.

@blogenfreude: The K was for seven years? Wait. How long dd they date?

@Benedick: Ha! Queen Latifa does not suffers fools kindly gladly. Whatever. It’s like 100,000,000º K here.

@JNOV: Where “critical reading” means “don’t take shit for granted”.

I really hate that expression, and of course collegiate philosophy is full of it. (And full of it, but that’s another conversation.) It’s taking a solid common-sense idea and wrapping it up so you can sell it to the groundlings.

But if you need a bumper sticker, I’ll settle for Question Authority or Subvert The Dominant Paradigm. At least those don’t put on airs.

Shorter Nojo: The place to start with “critical reading” is the term itself.

@nojo: Their assignment was to identify his thesis and decide if he supported it or didn’t, and then to support their thesis. Don’t know what to call it. Analysis?

Word choice is important. We all have pet peeves, like, oh, “geek,” “geeked,” “geeking.” Stuff gets played out. Some stuff people know what you mean when you say it, even if the term is annoying. Sometimes, just go with the understood meaning and don’t sweat the small shit.

@nojo: And, here’s another thing. They are going to hear “critical thinking” for as long as they are in school. They need to understand what The Dread Phrase means if they are going to bump into it over and over.

Now if they want to analyze the stupidity of that phrase, then good for them.

@nojo: Fuck it. Let’s make a list of bullshit college/life shorthand:

Challenging: This shit is incredibly hard and I’m struggling with it, but I’m ashamed to admit it.

Right: Professor, I’m afraid to tell you I disagree with you, so I’ll couch my fear by prefacing my comment with this innocuous word that typically means agreement, but we both know what’s up.

To that end: [ARGH!] I’m smart, and you need me, so I’m telling you how to get from point A to point B by using smartypants language so you won’t balk at my hourly rate. Plus, it takes longer for me to type shit like this, so I get to charge you more.

Geek: Not a nerd. One who bites off chicken heads as part of a sideshow.

Push Back: We don’t care if you don’t like our idea. We’re going to jam it down your throat with a funnel and serve your liver on a cracker.

Impactful: Not a word.

@JNOV: Nerd/Geek is interesting. I grew up a Nerd, and that’ll always be a part of me; but these days I call myself a Geek, because I Geek things: I geek websites, and as of the past week, I geek fucking floating frogs on fucking iPhones.

(If you want to limit Geeks to carnival sideshow denizens, that’s your right, but that horse has left the barn. “Geek Love” was written by an Oregonian, by the way.)

So, what’s the difference? Can you even state a difference without being arbitrary?

Or, to nail the point: What’s the difference, if any, between a Computer Nerd and a Computer Geek?

I don’t, for example, consider myself a computer nerd — I’m not going to argue the finer points of hardware features. I just want shit to work, although I’m happy to have some ability to Deal With It when shit happens. The computer is a tool I use to Do Something Else.

Ironically, the Something Else I do (besides some vestigial print design) is program websites. And that involves “geeking” as verb, not as identity — I’m messing around under the hood, not reveling in my esoteric knowledge.

[I’m also prematurely posting with my fat iPad fingers, so I’ll leave it there.]

@JNOV: Yes I do play Angry Birds. In fact I have aced all its iterations on my iMac. Don’t much like playing it on the iPad as fingers get in the way and it lacks accuracy. I have given the birds names and worry about what they’re saying (only aspect I’m not nuts about is when you fly the blue bird that splits into three – Norman, Stanley and Cyril – if they hit wood before glass they say, Ow, ow, ow. I don’t like that. I also don’t like the blue birds chained together. Or the big white bird, Charlotte). Playing Angry Birds Space, for me, is all about my thirst for knowledge. It’s all about the physics. Every time I get three stars I feel my store of knowledge has been increased. The only downside is the length of time between new levels being released. Now I’ve maxed out Piglantis what the hell am I supposed to do with my days?

And also Zuma’s Revenge.

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