Xtra
16 min

Gay/straight is the new straight/gay!

First things first!  Before I get started, I wish you all a very happy Canada Day!

Oh, Shawn Ashmore — by posing nude to raise awareness of prostate & testicular cancer, you helped make Canada sexy and assured that you'll be thought of with great fondness at least every July 1st!

Now there was a time when no celebrity (B-list X-Man or otherwise) would be caught dead in such a cheesecake pose (what with "the male gaze" and all) but hey, it's the 21st century, right?  That's what's bugging people.

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots last weekend (I'll assume you read yesterday's post?), the venerable international gay rights activist Peter Tatchell bemoaned "our lost gay radicalism," reflecting on an early manifesto for gay rights that echoes that of Xtra's mission statement (if we may say so ourselves) and remains a very noble goal:

"Our vision was a new sexual democracy, without homophobia and misogyny.
Erotic shame and guilt would be banished, together with socially
enforced monogamy and male and female gender roles. There would be
sexual freedom and human rights for everyone – queer and straight."

It is this vision, however, that completely terrifies religious conservatives — a world without socially enforced sexual and gender roles would be anarchy! Why, people would party like it's 1974:

In a world without religious authorities dictating people's sex lives, who'll pay for the megachurches and the Pope's Prada shoes?  Won't someone think of the children???

Oh it's fun to mock — I do it daily! — but since I'm a naturally fair-minded fellow, I must point out that there are even gay men who worry about such sexual freedom — gay men like Tony Adams in Florida, who retired to his fainting couch after witnessing two guys going at it in his gym's locker room:

"As I drove home from the gym, I wondered if the guys having sex were
actually pushing our race to a new level of maturity in which
permissiveness would put to rest our fetishizing of things now
forbidden…
I found myself wondering yet again whether or not a gay world in which
everything is permissible and visible would be a mature and healthy gay
culture or a sick and degraded gay culture."

Gosh, Tony, maybe they were just horny and tactless.  I doubt Adams would go so far as to agree with those who would deny all gay people basic human rights over such an incident but I suspect Tatchell would see in Adams everything he fears:  "gay submission and incorporation, not liberation."

Let me see if I can referee this one.  I've had more than my share of horny, tactless moments yet I've also been accused by at least one gay man of being "a closet heterosexual," which all tends to make me feel like the porridge Goldilocks chose.  I think all this talk about straight culture vs. gay culture is kind of beside the point these days — while the two certainly butted heads back in the 90s, I'd say they've spend the last decade merging.

While dinosaur right-wingers wail that the gays are destroying marriage, for instance, we're actually the last ones left fighting for it — is there any gay man or lesbian arguing as forcefully against marriage as, say, Cameron Diaz and Bill Maher?

 
Some of the kinkiest people I know are heterosexual while CNN discusses "the gayby boom."  Meanwhile, on this past Pride weekend in Toronto, some gay friends of mine ignored the street party in favour of canoeing or tending to their gardens, while I met a straight couple who were slamming back tequila shots on a patio and cheering on the drag queens.  Who are the rebels and who are the conservatives here?
 
It's a confusing time — and that's when those in power get frightened and the rest of us get enthused.  But what form will these changes take?  We'll take a "peep" tomorrow…