(an open letter to Sky Gilbert)
When I read in the Globe yesterday that you're quitting being gay, I felt like the little kid in that old western:
Now I hope you'll forgive the impertinence of an open letter -- calling you by your first name, no less! -- but hey, you're Sky freakin' Gilbert, brilliant playwright and one of the architects of Canadian queerdom. I'm quite sure you'll be able to handle it when I tell you, well, you're wrong.
I don't know what episode of Modern Family you saw but when you write about the show's gay couple, saying "neither of them is any nellier than the straight husband," it obviously wasn't the one with Cam practically coming on to his partner's father (hilariously disturbing to straights and gays alike) or this exchange during an impromptu photo session:
MITCHELL: Why is our daughter dressed up like Donna Summer?
CAMERON: She is not Donna Summer, she is clearly Diana Ross, the RCA years.
[cut to a shot of the baby, pouting under her giant afro wig]
Cheap gag? Of course. Funny? I thought so. Nelly? Off the charts. And 12 million Americans are watching it while the bigots fume
But, as you say, this sitcom is only a symptom -- your real concern is the new push to gay-marry, gay-adopt and gay-flee-to-the-suburbs. I hear ya on that, I do, but I find it deeply weird that you say, "How did this happen? Well, we live in a cyber-reality of Twitter, blogs and virtual sex."
Oh no, Sky, "virtual sex" went out with The Lawnmower Man
. Have you not seen Grindr
? Or even Manhunt.com? It's not monogamy that's killing the social gay bar
culture we love, it's the ability to order up sex like
a pizza (Delissio!) As a friend of mine explained, "Why spend four hours in a bar trying to chat up some guy when I can just go online and have my pick?"
But at the risk of sounding like Bradley Miller in his asinine reaction to your piece (falling back on the old "large generation of us" gambit), the last point I'll argue with you on is this statement:
"some are so pressed by the new, perfect, sanitized gay ideal that they
end up drowning themselves in suicidal drugs and unsafe sex."
What ideal are you referring to? The straight-enforced "married-with-Asian-baby" ideal? Or the gay-enforced "Abercrombie-shirt-with-perfect-hair-and-abs" ideal? You know as well as I do that the one thing all gay men want to be (besides rich!) is sexy, and there's nothing like a hearty helping of party drugs to wash away the inhibitions and let you fuck like a porn star for three days. It's a powerful lure and I don't think pressure to "settle down" has all that much to do with it.
I will agree with you that a freer sex culture has been driven somewhat "underground" by all the respectability you're condemning (I've railed about that horrifying word "discreet" in the past) but Grindr alone shows that "sex for pleasure" is not dead -- far, far from it -- and gay culture will never die out.
As long as there those of us who love to get it in the face but fewer in number than the guys who just recoiled from that image (yet don't know what they're missing!), we will always be different. Hopefully no longer hated for it but always apart. We'll think different and we'll act different and the glorious culture we'll create will be different.
As for monogamy, I'll refer you back to this space back in July when I argued that gay and straight culture are merging. The straights, monogamous or otherwise, are kinkier these days and I think we had a lot to do with it.
The result may not be the culture you or I have wanted, Sky, but the gay rights movement has always been about our freedom to make choices. That freedom extends towards ESPs, drag queens, Grindrs, house-husbands and drips like Bradley Miller alike, no?
So I hope you'll change your mind and come back to the fold. You're needed! Besides, aren't you just a bit curious to see how it all plays out? Sure, it's easy to look at those "kids today" and weep that they don't know about Harry Hay or The Body Politic or Paul Lynde or Christopher Peterson or even that there was a British Queer as Folk, but when they stream into Buddies on a Saturday night to grind on each other to pop provocateurs like Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga, it seems -- as we heard in the 60s -- the kids are alright.
And finally, just for kicks, I leave you all with a couple kids I love -- New York pranksters Jeffery Self and Cole Escola, who know that my favourite gay culture is silliness: