#8220;I know a male nurse and he’s not even gay.” The remark brings out the worst in me. I always want to say: “How do you know if he’s gay or straight, did you have sex with him?”
Gay stereotypes flourish because of the tainted assumptions of straight people. One of them is that gays love to shop. Apparently we can’t resist high-end clothes and beauty products. Except that I don’t like shopping and my partner Alberto hates it outright. Last year, our clothing budget topped out at $300 and consisted mostly of socks and underwear.
I’ve always believed one of the little perks of having a boyfriend or husband is that you can basically double your clothing collection without spending a dime (if you choose height and size carefully). When I mentioned this to a group of friends at a dinner party, Massimo protested. “Anna and I could also exchange clothes,” he said, “we just couldn’t leave the house.” Everyone laughed.
Anna then looked at Alberto. “You know,” she said, “I’ve always wondered about that.”
“Do you two share the same underwear?” She wasn’t kidding.
“You caught us Anna.” I threw my hands up in the air. “We’re not really gay, we’re just pretend to be so we can save money on underwear.”
A few weeks ago, a friend lent me a copy of the 2010 movie “Burlesque,” about a small-town girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) who gets in involved with a fading L.A. burlesque club run by a former dancer, Tess, played by Cher. I was intrigued by the premise. Was it a bad copy of “Cabaret,” a glorified music video, or Cher’s desperate cry for help?
Seeing it amazed me. The wave of politically correct clichés ensured it offended just about everyone. My favorite was the club’s bartender (Cam Gigandet). He’s gorgeous, puts on eyeliner, and camps. Oh, but wait! He’s not really gay. After work, he wears undershirts, rides a motorbike and makes passionate love to Ali. He says he’s faking gay status because it helps with his work.
On what planet is it an advantage to be an outwardly gay man working in a heterosexual environment? Especially a heterosexual strip club! He’s someone with a lot of unresolved sexual identity issues. Run Ali, run!
Then there’s “metrosexual,” a marketing ploy intended to get heterosexual men to buy into the label banality and fashion fetish embraced by a large portion of the gay population.
But beyond the obvious moneymaking scheme, there are some other interesting considerations at work.
I like the possibility of expanding the very narrow preconceptions of what a man — a real man — can be, wear and do. I like the idea that gay and straight men can hang out together in the same public places, clubs and discos. I like it when no one really knows or cares what team they play on.
But let’s face reality. A metrosexual man who puts himself on proud display while claiming he’s straight is more often than not adopting a convoluted way of staying in the closet.
As gay clubs are increasingly colonized by metrosexual straight men, I am left to ask what exactly about the venue is gay (aside from fashion statements)? The talk is generally heterosexual, making gays into tokens in what amounts to a transgressive quest for the trendy. Once our space, the gay club is now theirs.
But don’t despair. Never underestimate gay adaptability. While straight men are increasingly embracing frivolous fashions, useless cosmetic grooming products, and shaving their entire bodies to look like smooth preadolescents, many gay men, including chubby hairy-bears and muscle-Mary body builders, are rediscovering “butch” and “rugged.”
While the metrosexual straights are busy with bikini waxes or catching the sale at their local label bin, their traditional temples, dingy beer halls and sweaty lockers rooms, once so-called “he-man” property, are now being colonized by groups of beer-guzzling, belch-and-curse guys wearing old jeans and T-shirts. And guess what? They’re gay.