The Moment of Truth — March 29, 2002

Male Heterosexuality is So Gay

Hi, I’m mejeffdorchen and welcome to the Moment of Truth, the once-in-a-lifetime pheromone emission that will attract the one true love of your life.

I guess it’s a fad, using the word “gay” to mean “bad,” that is, “not good.” And not just “That sweater makes you look gay,” as in, that sweater makes you look like a homosexual man, because it’s the kind a homosexual man would wear and that’s bad because you’re not a homosexual man and don’t want to be mistaken for one, but rather, “Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes was gay, dude. Don’t see it, whatever you do.” Gay meaning not good. I’ve heard gay men use it that way. A couple of them thought it was just hilarious, their saying it and their being gay men. One statement went like this: “Oh my god, if Arnold Schwarzenegger was a fag, that would be so gay.”

So the connotation of GAY as “not good” has separated from or, perhaps more accurately, blur in parallax with its denotation of male homosexuality, which led me to quip on this very program, regarding something or other that I thought was worthless, “That is so gay. And I want to assure sensitive listeners of this show that by ‘gay’ I mean ‘bad,’ not ‘homo.’ Okay?” What a quip, huh? Gay has begun to serve the same purpose as “weak” and “lame” did years ago, which is interesting if you consider some of things people said were weak. When Eric Cartman, a character on the South Park cartoon, had to hang nailed to a cross in the hot sun all day, he was heard to whimper, “This… is so… weak.” Characterizing the torment of crucifixion as “weak” doesn’t just illuminate the weird silliness of the colloquialism, it also amounts to an offhand and perhaps unconscious dismissal of Christianity, or at least of the suffering of Jesus, which is a key element in Christianity, I believe, though I’m no expert.

I think a scene where Jesus, while hanging on the cross, rivulets of blood running down from his crown of thorns, looks up to Heaven and says, “This is so gay,” would have even more blasphemously comic resonance. I mean, if I saw that in the New Yorker, I would laugh. I would about bust a gut.

At any rate, I only wanted to address that common usage of the word “gay” to contrast it with what I mean by the word when I say:

Male heterosexuality is so gay.

By gay here I do mean homosexual. I mean, think about it. In male heterosexuality, a guy could be big and tough and burly, with an eyepatch and a neck like a rhino and stainless steel teeth, but no matter how macho he was, he could still fall in love with a woman and get all mushy and flowery and smoochy. Kissy kissy. Hugs. A hug is pure affection, and anyone giving a hug is expressing a need for the warmth of another human being. All tenderhearted and affectionate-like. Affection is extremely effeminate. In fact, all the above aspects of heterosexual love are effeminate.

Now we should all be aware that effeminate does not mean gay. Many straight men are effeminate. Of course, all their friends assume these effeminate straight men just don’t know they’re gay yet, but that’s not germane to the discussion at hand.

I also want to head off the objection that much macho heterosex is acted out violently and/or roughly, that is in such a way as to push the vulnerability implied by the need for affection outside the frame of the activity. First of all, I don’t believe untender sex to be anymore prevalent among the macho than among any other demographic. The sex act is a private space within which the actors are free to behave in uncharacteristic ways without being held responsible outside that space. Behavior in the throes of passion is as excusable as behavior while intoxicated. And we’re all familiar with the scenario of an ostensibly straight man having gay sex and the next day saying, “Boy, was I drunk last night,” to quarantine the act from the other deeds that make up his action-identity.

But in any case I would argue that rough and/or violent sex are among other things the repressed effeminate desire for affection emerging in forms that are deemed safe by the macho man, that don’t threaten to tar him with the pansy brush.

As familiar as the “I was drunk last night” scenario is the homoeroticism associated with straight male camaraderie, and I would argue that said homoeroticism is one and the same thing as the repressed effeminate desire for affection. The sports of wrestling and boxing, the so-called brotherly bonds of soldiers, the rowdy drunks who love to get into bar brawls, what are these if not examples of misdirected attempts to satisfy a desire for human body contact that, if sought after in its more direct form, would stigmatize a man as gay for whom his heterosexual identity is the armature holding his inner and outer personalities together in a coherent social being?

We all, with the exception of certain autistic personalities, desire contact with fellow mammals. It happens that in the US such desire is characterized by a set of activities that so-called “real” men might engage in privately but would call “fruity” if viewing it from the outside. Smooching, giving flowers, petting, hugging, tiptoeing through the tulips. I mean, come on. How gay. We are polymorphously sexual beings, but as men in the culture of the USA our desire for body contact is gay, and heterosex is actually a fetishized substitute for taboo homosex.

And the more manly you are, the gayer your heterosex is. I know I’m not the first to suggest that cassanovaism is an overcompensation for unconfronted homosexual feelings. But who can doubt that James Bond is the gayest man on earth? Still single, snappy dresser, just like Seinfeld, only English, which is even more gay.

Please see my archived essay, Capital’s Big Tits And Violence (4-24-99) for the connection between socially constructed gender difference and extreme capitalism.

As for Arnold Schwarzenegger being gay, there was a time when people looked at certain men and said, “He’s just not smart enough to be gay.” What they meant was, even if he found himself attracted to men, he wouldn’t be able to figure out what the hell was going on. Nowadays, of course, you can be as dense as you like and be gay. You’re bound to be watching TV and at some point say to yourself, “Hey, I’m just like that guy! What do they call what that guy is? Gay? Well that’s what I am. I’m gay.” As with any outlaw activity gradually brought toward acceptance, the broader the public it attracts the more passé and boring and bland and crowded with low-quality doofusses it becomes, like a really cool little dive suddenly discovered by a restaurant reviewer for a large newspaper. And then one day, before you know it, Arnold Schwarzenegger wanders in and everybody goes, “How did HE find out about this? Well, that’s it, this place is over.”

I wonder if the word gay will ever come to occupy the spots the words bad and heinous and def and phat did at certain points in the past. If a young wigger in the suburbs might one day say to his friend, excitedly, “Yo, dog, you gotta get the new Eminem CD, it’s obesely gay.”

And since — having accepted the argument above, whether we followed it or not — we now know that Eminem is in fact gay, we cultural connoisseurs eavesdropping nearby will chuckle at the unintentionally satirical resonance out of the mouth of the babe. Then we’ll all go out and, like the Flintstones of yore, have a gay old time.

I’m mejeffdorchen and this has been another Moment of Truth.