"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 June 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Wait a Minute, Mr. Postgay Man



Gay pride has hit 30 and, like

most thirtynothings, it's

celebrating its birthday with a

double scoop of denial. As

street cleaning crews sweep

rainbow confetti off the main

drags of San Francisco and New

York and pride paraders show up

at work eyeing office mates

for revealing sunburns, it's

become crystal-meth clear that

the three holiday questions —

Who's gay? Who's not? And who

cares? — don't warrant much

attention anymore. Increasingly,

Stonewall's legacy — with

the now-ritual whinges that the

Castro district and Christopher Street

each has lost a certain edge —

seems a little bit bland.


Indeed, pride parades may be a

festive legacy of a fading era.

Since November 1996, we've been

living in a postgay world, as

erstwhile Vibe editor Jonathan

Van Meter dubbed it. (As the gay

white male editor of a hip-hop

magazine, Van Meter knows from

identity confusion.) This year

it looks like the postgay test

has come up positive — in

the varied forms of Christian

Curry, Christian Campbell, and

Christine Quinn.


Under ordinary circumstances,

Christian Curry's denial of his

own gayness would just be funny

(there is, after all, a reason

they invented the term too

good-looking). But it's a little

disturbing that the fired Morgan

Stanley Dean Witter pissboy is

simultaneously claiming to be

straight and depicting

himself as a victim of

homophobia. If it sounds odd,

just consider Christian Cambell.

Currently lauded as 1999's

It gay actor, Campbell is

also refusing to walk the walk.

It's bad enough to see actors

and investment bankers claim gay

privilege (which was never much

of a write-your-own-ticket kind

of inheritance anyway). Wall

Street and Hollywood, after all,

share common goals of getting

paid and getting laid. But these

sisters Christian seem a bit too

eager to pass up that second

fringe benefit. Nor do you

have to go muff diving to lock

up the queer vote, as Christine

Quinn, the "openly gay" city

Council member for Chelsea,

Greenwich Village, and Clinton,

is demonstrating. It's all a

bit confusing.


To be fair, the Internet has

been a key enabler of this

dysfunction. Obsessed gay

chatters were partly to blame

for America Online's prolonged

survival through the '80s and

'90s. Now Web sites like

PlanetOut are betting they'll

attract traffic from "the openly

closeted" — gays and

lesbians who want the cultural

benefits of hanging out with

their kind without the fuss and

muss of showing their faces in a

gay ghetto. (We'll leave it to

the imagination how a sticky

vertical portal functions in

this scenario.)


Indeed, the new heroic realms of

gay culture aren't Chelsea and

the Castro but the mythical

suburbs of our youth. Take Edge

of Seventeen and Get Real, two

passing fancies of this summer's

queer cinema. Both star underage

teens dealing with their

sexuality — one in Sandusky,

Ohio, in 1984, and the other in

a more contemporary (but equally

boring) Basingstoke, England.

But after a combined four hours,

neither film asks a question more

profound than, "Why must I be a

teenager in love?"


So the audience can get its fill

of skinny, hairless manflesh,

sweetie. Now shut up and look

pretty for the camera.



These days, the only real

boundary- (and belt-buckle-)

busting gay subculture is the

riot grrrrs of the bear

movement, whose chief

distinction is their rough

embrace of beer-bellied, hairy

masculinity. Really, though,

bears are just part and parcel

of the relentless supersizing of

America. With professional

wrestling as the new camp, is it

any surprise that Bill Goldberg

is today's gay male sex symbol?

Sure, the WCW's Semitic Avenger

isn't technically gay, but you

know what they say about those

Jewish men. There's a not-so-thin

line separating body slams from

bumping fuzzies. Suck it, indeed.



At least there's some

recognition of this emerging

psychographic. Why else would

Fox program Ally McBeal in the

same time slot as Monday Nitro?


But channel-flipping your way to

a fin-de-millénaire cultural

pastiche seems the most fun

a queer boy can have these

days. Bill Clinton may have

issued the first-ever

presidential proclamation

declaring June Gay and Lesbian

Pride Month, but gays everywhere

are still bitter: Since when

do straight guys get all

the blow jobs?


Not only are they getting

knobbed in the Oval Office but

hets are hitting the gay casting

couch with alarming regularity.

The straight co-star of Trick,

Christian Campbell (who could do

a scarily convincing drag

version of his sister Neve),

puts it best in the July issue

of Out: "I have no fear playing

a gay man because I know who I

am. I have nothing to hide."


They're here. They're not queer.

Get used to it.


Campbell's apparent

forthrightness masks an all-new

identity problem. These days,

whole countries can get gay

props without having to do much

for it. In his 1996 essay, Van

Meter held up Dennis Rodman as

his postgay hero: "He doesn't

care if people think he's a fag,

even though he probably isn't."

But with so many hets playing

gay, where's the stigma in

taking on a gay role? The

postgay math zeroes in on a new

formula of identity: It's great to

be gay — as long as you aren't.



That equation, perhaps, exposes

the void at the heart of Will

& Grace. Eric McCormack, who

plays Will, is straight. But

for that matter, Will might as

well be. The show's purportedly

gay protagonist is about as

queer as Jar Jar Binks: Throw

together a passel of

stereotypes, mannerisms, and

witty cultural references and,

poof, instant poofter. Steve

Austin and Bill Goldberg (now

there's a couple) are queerer

than that.


The same issue of Out that

features the quietly hetero Mr.

Campbell also tells the story of

William "Bro" Broberg and Lisa

Daugaard, two erstwhile queer

activists who fell in love with

each other. (Just don't call

them ex-gay.) It's curious

that a magazine that spilled a

lot of ink denouncing the

postgay movement last year now

allots so much space to it.


Perhaps it's a sign of Gay

America's 30-year-old midlife

crisis: We don't mind straight

people as long as they act gay.

courtesy of Jonathan Van Decimeter

[Purchase the Suck Book here]