By Albino Aldo
As a gay man, it gets pretty tiring to see the same old depictions of gay culture in everything we look at. Things such as Mardi Gras have the reputation of being a gay pride rally, but is this ‘in your face’ homosexuality really the best way of supporting the LGBT community, let alone bridging the gap with straight people who may harbour hidden bias? Finding accurate representations of normal, young, gay people, in media, literature, journalism or at rallies is near impossible. With the suicide rates of gay men skyrocketing, it is time for the gay community to better ourselves in more intellectual ways.
This year I have taken it upon myself to read a little bit more and like all bookworms I love a good romance novel. I began looking up novels about or written by people who were gay or lesbian and it occurred to me that quite a few of our influential playwrights and authors are members of the queer community. We’ve got Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Gertrude Stein and even Virginia Woolf. It also got me thinking about the story of Alan Turing and the amazing work he did in his life (which was popularised by the movie The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch). There are a lot of unsung heroes who were gay, lesbian or bisexual that we don’t really talk about. I don’t hear about Harvey Milk anywhere near as much as I hear about the drag queens on RuPauls Drag Race.
Yet if you were to look through February’s DNA Magazine, a periodical aimed at gay men and Australia’s most popular magazine for gay men, it contained one of the most ridiculous articles I have ever read and I cannot believe someone had this much patience to dedicate a spread to it!
The issue had several stories about George Michael and a large portion of the magazine was to commemorate his legacy as not just of course a music legend but one of the most well known gay musicians. One of the stories was as follows, Paul Mac, an Australian DJ, told a story of how one time, while staying over at George’s house, he woke up to a man masturbating over his face and then proceeded to fool around with him. To his surprise he noticed George himself watching the spectacle and the headline of this piece of “journalism” was called Paul Mac: “I was George Michael’s Fluffer”. Turn the page and there is a spread (yes a spread) called I Want Your Sex. The article is about how music industry lawyer Steve Pafford was courted by George Michael on Gaydar (there was no Grindr in 2004 as the article will remind you). The article discusses their conversations they shared but also a juicy story about how they together watched the Michael Jackson trial on television and how George was unhappy with the decision (didn’t know that myself). Naturally this article was accompanying a semi-nude photo. Other pieces spoke about his essential music and Michael’s sexuality eventually becoming public. It did also reference other highs and lows of Michael’s life such as Wham! and being the first western group to tour China.
While DNA can easily be ignored as just another trashy magazine, it is extremely hard for me not to get annoyed by it. Other articles include an interview with Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figueras, typical reviews of music and yes, books (one of the books was a nude book of Aussie men in the outback entitled Larrikin). There was a highlight in the issue that was a review of Moonlight, which seemed to be the only thing I could take seriously or another piece with the creator of the JLO vehicle Shades of Blue discussing LGBT representation. However there were also ridiculous promotions for Porn websites, dating/hook up apps and so much underwear it may as well be just one giant Calvin Klein issue. It had your usual mind numbingly boring article with an Instagram model talking about how they found fame by taking nude photos of themselves with their smartphone and how it got them a job as a model for Milk Beach towels. Even a recipe for baking a cake included in the magazine from chef Jordan Bruno (known as the gay chef. P.S recipe was actually pretty good) has a photo of the chef holding a cake naked behind an apron.
So as you can see I can go on and on about what was in the magazine but I strongly suggest you browse through content on their website and other gay blogs and magazines website such as Gay Times, The Advocate and OUT just to see the limited narratives that are being sent out into the gay community.
Take more “serious” magazines like The Advocate for example. The topics on their website include not just issues about sexuality but also issues of race and feminism. An article published recently was titled “Rep Admonishes White Male Colleagues — Who Now Want Apology” or “Black Lives Matter Holds ‘Find Our Girls’ March in New York City”. I myself don’t consider Black Lives Matter a gay friendly organisation after they crashed not one, but two LGBT events in Canada. At one of those events (a march) they halted until they had a contract signed with one of the terms being that police could no longer be represented at pride in floats. Worst of all, that request was granted.
This is what I feel majority of gay writing is about, you either look at over sexualised nonsense where muscled up men are in your face non-stop (yes you get bored of it eventually), or you have overly PC garbage pumped out by the Advocate and Out Magazine (I un-followed both on Facebook as every second piece put out was about Trump).
Another thing I would like brought to a gay mans attention is the issue of events that are supposed to be our pride events. When I was young I thought that we would have the fun circuit parties, gay clubs and floats now and then but we would also have the cool slam poetry bars, coffee houses and bookstores depicted on shows like Ellen and Will and Grace. But, this is Brisbane and not San Francisco so you aren’t going to come across those enclaves as often. You will still find gay clubs, bars and saunas however I have just discovered that we even have gay book clubs in Brisbane and better yet there is an emerging scene of social clubs for more low key gay men who aren’t interested in nightclubs, but I have to say there just aren’t enough. We honestly could do with more chilled, hell even more, conservative spaces.
Transgender YouTuber Blaire White recently made a video saying why she doesn’t like being associated as a member of the LGBT community, and then proceeded in the video to ask questions of the community. What was the first one? Why are LGBT events so hypersexualised? I understand that being Gay is a sexual orientation but why is it that so many blogs, magazines and YouTube channels (DaveyWavey, honestly) for gay men are so hyper sexualised to the point of being below Neanderthal? Even ads for Gay travel depict nothing more than a hot gay couple in speedos on the beach (search Nomadic Boys on Instagram or the Out Adventures tour company). Events promoted to the gay male community are Mardi Gras or Circuit Parties with Drag Queens and still more Gym Junkies. Yet I still feel there needs to be more events such as the gay and lesbian film festival something that focuses more on story telling and promoting more intelligent and less confronting experiences for people to get involved and meet other Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender people.
To resolve a problem we must look at ourselves first. We have to think, do we contribute to the increased suicide of Gay Men? You have to admit Grindr, some gay clubs, Mardi Gras and Saunas are confronting things to deal with especially if you’re a young person who is still coping with your sexuality.
Even more low-key events/discussion groups still contain issues that don’t necessarily pertain to being gay, such as Feminism for example. Some feminists feel that being gay is automatically in their realm as they are quite often put together as left wing issues, however some gay men don’t want to identify as feminists and that is their choice. Again some gay men don’t want to take part in the in your face political realm. That too is confronting. Some don’t want their political beliefs to automatically have to be influenced by their sex life and vice versa.
I remember seeking out advice as a gay 17 year old about how I could meet other gay people and I attended an LGBT youth service (that’s where I ran into all the pronouns for the first time). At times I feel the best advice would have been, get on Grindr and get to the gym because sometimes it seems that the Muscle Queens and Bitchy Twinks created by RuPauls Drag Race will always outnumber the (in the words of Will and Grace’s Jack McFarland) Hot Gay Nerds that should have been created by the likes of the author’s, politician’s and pioneer’s works mentioned in the beginning of the article. But they for some reason won’t come out to replace the gym mirror glass with The Glass Menagerie.