Archive for September, 2008

You’re Gay. Yeah, Whatever.

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Clay Aiken

According to Clay (”Don’t Touch Me!”) Aiken, it is a big gay world out there. And that’s what the press wants you to believe. From my viewpoint, as a fuchsia card-carrying gay alpha male, every few years there’s a boondoggle in gay stories in America: the Supreme Court said OK to sodomy in Texas; Iowa in the heartland says OK to gay weddings; Richard Chamberlain (Richard! Chamberlain!) claims he’s a homo; while finally (my favorite) MTV said OK to the airing of a band (t.A.t.U.) that portrays itself as being “all lesbian, all the time.” The mega-ratings grabber Tia Tequila featured a bisexual lady of indiscriminate taste, but I’m not sure if she’s into sex as much as she is into showing off her inanity.

Yawn, digress. Is all this really the series of huge breakthroughs the media are suggesting? Because it sounds to me like just a lot of hype to sell a bunch of dying papers. Truth is, we’ve seen this all before. As I clamor for someone to just enact a single bold headline: “He’s Gay, So What?”

A generation and a half ago, Rock Hudson came out to the world on his deathbed because of complications from AIDS, smack-dab in the middle of Reagan America. At that point, a scant few years before the Supremes said no to sodomy in Georgia, the mass media talked a good game and asked Americans to be a lot more compassionate in their dealings with their gay brothers and sisters.

Then we waited for 24.5 years — past noise like “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” past Barry Winchell’s horrific death from homobashing Army boys, past that shady Defense of Marriage Act and doe-eyed Matthew Shepard, to, finally, a gay bishop happening upon the scene somewhere up north.

So the big news now is that it’s OK to be gay. Of course, it isn’t entirely OK. The media message of the moment notwithstanding, Bill Frist, once the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, reacted to gay movement forward by grandstanding that he’d like an amendment to the constitution that gay marriage be disallowed. That is progress with a small “p.” Not gay with a capital “G.”

So how can we explain this dichotomy? Perhaps the public isn’t really so much more accepting and the culture isn’t really that much different — just as it wasn’t back in 1985, when Rock died. Perhaps the reality is that the media have grabbed onto this story line more because it’s a sellable one than because it’s the truth.

Let’s go back to Chamberlain, who has been an icon much longer than Aiken (and take Lohan, please…). Chamby’s story says a lot about why people were going “Senator Craig?” (who cares; just go away) last year. Chamberlain’s publicist insisted breathlessly that he should get a big “wow!” for his act of boldness. He should? For 40 years he played dull and, oh yeah, straight. Then he got exciting and on the cover of People magazine for telling the world that he’s gay. Really? And, oh yeah, he happened to have a book for sale.

Which I’m sure is just a coincidence. Much like Liz Smith, who also conveniently came out in what very briefly became a must-read memoir. But don’t get me started on Liz Smith.

One day after Richard’s big moment, I stood in a trendy Santa Monica video store and spotted the original Bourne Identity, which was remade last year with the straight (well, today!) Matt Damon. Chamberlain played Damon’s role in the first version, which no one remembers now, since Damon has turned this into his role. I had to laugh at the laboriously butch face Chamberlain was making on the box. He hasn’t had that kind of fame in years, and his new efforts — retired and notoriously gay — reek of a last-ditch effort to gain a buck off fame.

To make matters smellier, the old boy told Dateline at the time that he is “not a romantic leading man anymore and [no longer needs] to nurture that public image anymore.” Did anyone in the press ask about his implicit suggestion that his fans are total idiots? What Richard Chamberlain’s old-world PR people were pulling was very 1950s: let’s tell the world he’s gay to get some more attention. Right. Ask Rosie O’Donnell how far being queer’s gotten her, really. Certainly not the lead of Price Is Right or a punditry on MSNBC. Chamberlain is an actor who has been downgraded to his generation’s Larry Storch. You know, another TV actor who has had to pay the rent by appearing in, say, cheaply constructed bus and truck companies of My Fair Lady. Now that he’s gay — I guess this goes for Clay–maybe people will pay attention to him.


I’m the author of 2011: Trendspotting. Essays like this fill the damn thing.

Demeaning (Any) President (Really): America

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Last year, responding to a question about President Bush, now-beleaguered Representative Charles Rangel told his television interviewer:

Oh Baby: The Grandmama Drama

Saturday, September 6th, 2008


Yes you heard it right: “I’m a fuckin’ redneck who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes. But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some shit and just fuckin’ chillin’ I guess. Ya fuck with me I’ll kick ass.” (MySpace)

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet America’s future groom and parental kick in the pants, namely Levi Johnston. Fisherman? Hunter? Ass kicker? I don’t know how Bristol Palin feels, but I can tell you for sure that George W. Bush just found the love of his life, damn!

Levi is choosing life and Levi is pretty much choosing a life in politics. And he has singlehandedly changed the Republican Party - forever.

If you ponder what happened (stop laughing and think), Conservatives all over our fine nation are thrilled with the couple’s decision to keep the baby. Gosh, Bristol and Levi are role models for pregnant teens.

NY Daily News coined the parents-to-be “the all-American teen twosome.” They have taken the shame associated with teen pregnancy and somehow turned it into all American bravery. (What the hell? Diablo Cody must be pissed that Juno didn’t have anything like Bristol going on!)

Already making a real impact on politics, the self-proclaimed redneck - yes, America, Alaska too has rednecks - is is expected to be publicly unveiled (and lovingly so) at the Republican National Convention.

Sure to draw wads of nonstop attention during the dull post-Clintonian election month, this couple was all atop the stage this week, singlehandedly bringing (Republican) politics to its knees. Levi and Bristol have pulled off something quite extraordinary,’cause not only have they taken teen pregnancy out of movie theatres and trailer parks and into our living rooms, but the hopeless future First Family have given both GOPers and Dems a giant jolt: they have switched roles, a la Parent Trap. Yep, Levi is being trapped into being a parent. Too two terrible!

A couple of harmless teens got the Right and Left wingers really up in arms. In a newfangled twist, howvever, Conservatives have changed their tune about teens being with child for the very first time. Instead of a moral lynching, the Grand Old Party is offering only blessings to Sarah & Family throughout this Grandmama drama while the Befuddled Libs are screaming hypocrisy. Turns out teenage pregnancy outside of a marriage isn’t so bad, huh? It’s a big case of mistaken identity and two teenagers are behind it all. It’s like Tina Fey cooked it up.

(Yes, I know who Sarah looks like.)

Well, the amniotic fluid is on the wall and a pretty fly fishermen and his 17-year-old baby mother are the people’s people. They are changing party identity, taking the election by a storm even bigger than Gustav. Esteemed politicians have spent decades in politics without shaking things up as much as this all-American duo has in less than a week.

Get used to, kids, since the charming Pallins from Lake Whateverwasi are going anywhere. John McCain, you are being pushed aside by a Levi from the other side of the tracks.

…I’m Richard Laermer, author of the infamous book 2011: Trendspotting. And you bet I approved this message.

Buy the Book - 2011

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