I had a friend back in the day (he’s still my friend, but he’s not like this anymore) who used to want to believe gays were everywhere, and that made him a hilarious bore. “You know, I think X might be gay,” was one of his most common conversation starters. “Brad (not his real name),” we used to say, “You think the damn fire hydrants are gay.”
This was back before coming out of the closet was commonplace. Most gays, with good reason, were still super cautious about who they revealed their sexual persuasion to (always loved that particularly silly expression), and most revealed it to absolutely nobody.
That shame – let’s call it by its proper name – was held in place by the folks who today are saying things like, “We don’t hate gay people; we just believe marriage should be between a man and a woman,” or “There’s nothing wrong with being gay; it’s acting on it that’s the problem,” or “We should hate the sin, but love the sinner.”
Fortunately, like the anti-Semites of yesterday – who remembers when Jews couldn’t join country clubs or move into certain parts of town – these nice-guy homophobes look less like the Ku Klux Klan every day. There is progress. Coming out is in and every day some other football player or stockbroker gets tagged as “one of them.”
Yesterday, the news was that Tim Cook, Steve Jobs successor at Apple, is gay. And that’s dandy, say the gay liberation shock troops, who want every gay in the world identified as such, “so that children can grow up with proper role models.” And that’s nobody’s business, say the nice people who believe homosexuality is all about sex, and it’s not nice to talk about sex. And that’s really a bore, say most of the rest of the folks who would simply like to get on with making a living and getting the weeds out of their garden.
Remember when there were no black people in Hollywood? And then there were? Remember the black people in the balcony in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, every one presented as a kindly mother or grandfather? Remember how long it took before the pendulum swung and there were black villains?
Gays are like that. They’re still being presented as really cool guys. Hilarious sense of humor. Great sense of style. Wish more straight men were like that.
So every time somebody says the Tim Cooks of the world need to be pressed into service to demonstrate to gay kids that there are no limits anymore to being both out and successful, somebody else throws in some line like, “Well, actually Tim Cook is a bitchy queen who is quite vicious if you get on his wrong side.” And that’s fine. People are simply shaking these stars of the moment down into normal folk.
The decision to close down cell phone service at BART made national news recently. BART police had killed a homeless man coming at them with a knife, and that was too close to the last killing to escape notice. People stormed the platforms, and BART shut down cell phone service for safety reasons. A huge First Amendment protest followed. The Bay Area transit agency's chief media spokesman, Linton Johnson, then got nailed by Anonymous, the group leading the protest, for being gay. Well, to be fair, not for being gay, but for being caught with his pants down in a gay bar. Johnson’s Johnson was showing, evidently. And what did BART do about it? Came out 100% behind their employee. BART employees might lose their job over their decision to shut down the phones, but not because they like to dance naughty.
Now, in this morning’s paper comes the news that in the looted apartment of Moammar Gathafi’s son, Al-Saadi Gathafi (that’s the now official spelling of Gaddafi), they found a gay porno tape, Boyz Tracks. Yeah, I checked it out on Google and then on a guide to gay porno sites and couldn’t find it. But AP usually gets its facts straight.
One porno tape does not a gay make, obviously, and let’s not forget that the number of real gay men may be less than the number of men who are curious. Remember my friend Brad, the one who thought even the fire hydrants were gay? Another of his lines was “At the right time, in the right space, there are precious few men who aren’t at least a bit curious.”
As these stories spin their way through the gay gossip press, their very ordinariness now suggests the gay liberation train is, if not pulling into the station right on time, at least heading for it at a respectable cruising speed. Eat your heart out, homophobes.
And Al-Saadi, by the way, that wallpaper and couch? OK, so it's a tent, not wallpaper. But still. What were you thinking?