I sit before my com-puter monitor prepared to divulge the latest details on my quest for community.
I reflect on the last four weeks and wrestle with the material I have gathered. After a great deal of introspection, I begin to type the words that will fill half this page.
Something is different this time around.
Mulling over current events in the life of a self-described hermit, I am overcome with a sense of the familiar. To quote a script from Battlestar Galactica: “All this has happened before and all this will happen again.”
Reading the thoughts that spew from my brain to my fingertips, I cannot ignore a potent case of déjà vu.
Allow me to shake off my usual “roundabout” prose and get to the point.
I believe I just might be a living, breathing cliché. Am I truly playing some role countless others have played before me? Is there an ounce of authenticity to be salvaged beneath this handsome façade?
A couple of weeks ago, I went on another one of those preliminary coffee dates. I have found that in the realm of dating, this formality helps to weed out the undesirables. Will he or I make it to the second round? Will a first official date be had?
Without going into too much detail (you’ve heard it all before, after all), no further meet-ups would be necessary.
When I decided to turn my latest romantic upset into an all-too-public journal entry, I could not deny the nagging certainty that I am, in many ways, a total cliché.
Let me explain.
Queer media and queer representations in the media are rife with depictions of the self-doubting, self-effacing and yet incurably lovable gay man. He possesses great strength of character but remains blind to this fact. Somehow, he always ends up with pie in his face… or some other sticky substance.
Having been a hermit for some time now, I have had the chance to absorb queer stories from page to screen. I don’t know if it is a “good thing” to see myself reflected in what I have read and seen.
Surprisingly, it was an episode of Will and Grace that really got me thinking. No seriously.
The stuffy and lovelorn Will and his intrepid man-child buddy Jack venture into a queer bookstore and chat it up with its owner. A patron walks in and asks the owner where he can find literature on gay men and self-loathing. To this the owner replies, “That entire wall over there.”
There are a slew of stereotypes, archetypes and clichés we might find ourselves falling into from time to time. After all, beneath them lies some degree of truth. I have come to realize which one I most resemble after three decades on this earth. I am of the “woe-is-me” variety.
Try to think of a film or television show that hasn’t employed this stock character. He muses on the dismal ruin of his love life and his misgivings about sexual relationships. He likes to cut himself down and never hesitates to beat somebody to the punch with a joke at his own expense.
Take your pick from many a film that cruise queer film festivals the world over. I always come back to a line that the character Harold says in the gay classic The Boys in the Band: “What I am is a 32-year-old, ugly, pockmarked Jew fairy, and if it takes me a little while to pull myself together, and if I smoke a little grass before I get up the nerve to show my face to the world, it’s nobody’s goddamned business but my own. And how are you this evening?”
I place some of the blame for my overheated, one-track thought process on Jack McFarland. Returning to Will and Grace, arguably the most popular gay themed spectacle of recent years, I see myself in their flamboyant and often annoying sidekick.
Although he does not wear his insecurities on his sleeve, Jack seems to be a funnel through which positive and negative stereotypes are sent through. There was a time when I could not speak to a family member without someone telling me, “Oh, Jack reminds me of you so much” or “You and Jack are the same person!”
Thankfully the series has ended, effectively bringing an end to constant comparisons. However, my sweet mom could not resist changing her email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple questions come to mind. Am I indeed a cliché? More importantly, do I even care? As complex as we like to think we are, are we really a lot more simple than we let on?
I suppose it is only what I allow people to see that might make me one-dimensional. I am a slight, insecure queer writer whose life partner is his feline fatale for the love of God!
The more I think about it, the more I realize just how stupid I am being. And with that, I solidify my status as another queer cliché.
I’m fine with that.