Toronto
2 min

Getting inside the rainbow jumpsuit

Everything in society can be gayified

Credit: Xtra files

In the last few years, gay folks have been tackling institutions long thought to be the very core of heterosexuality – from marriage to the church to the military – and making them our own.



We may argue about whether it’s a good idea, about whether it’s assimilation or subversion, about whether we can change the mainstream or whether it changes us. But we’ve managed to fight our way into many places you’d never have expected.



Since reality TV has become our biggest cultural marker, it must mean something that we now have Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, where five resident gay boys provide makeovers for straight boys. (It’s on the US Bravo now; Bravo in Canada will carry the show in the fall.) Bravo is also bringing us Boy Meets Boy, a gay dating show with a straight twist. Unbeknownst to the bachelor, a few of the boys in the dating pool are actually straight. And if one of the straight boys gets chosen, he gets the cash prize.



(A few months ago, I mused that our true assimilation might be measured by whether we got a marriage reality TV show, proving that you should be careful what you wish for.)



These forays into the heart of heterosexuality raise an important question. Is there anything that can’t be gayified?



* Polka? Nope, way too easy. There are lots of gay polka clubs



* Rodeo? Nope. It’s not surprising lesbians have taken to this cowpoke pastime, but there is also a boom in gay rodeo associations



* Born again Christians? There are lots of them, seeking their way between two unwelcoming worlds



* Heavy metal? Too easy. There’s Pink Steel, Turbonegro, Nick Name and The Normals to name but a few



* Wal-Mart? It’s pretty not-gay, though they have just included gay men and lesbians in their anti-discrimination policies.



So what is the least gay thing you can think of?



For me, it’s NASCAR car racing. Not the fancy kind that we get in Toronto with the Molson Indy, but those horrible stock cars (with a bigger fan base than the National Football League, the merchandise alone is a $1-billion industry). I have to admit it’s way up on my hate list. Stupid masculinity at its very worst with guys in garages, drinking beer and fixing up cars to drive real fast. The only women in the picture are, well, literally in the pictures: tits and ass calendars or Ms Stockcar contests.



But guess what? Yep, gayified.



There’s Gaytona.com, a gay NASCAR site. (Gaytona plays off Daytona, home to the Daytona 500 – a very big deal.) It’s run by Betty Jack Devine, an Atlanta-based drag queen. With its dedication to “the hottest NASCAR drivers,” it’s high gay.



Of the drivers, Betty says, “‘Are they gay?’ you ask? Not that I know of and who cares, anyway? All I know is these hotrod hotties are all bad sexy and wicked fast.”



Then there are the websites and chat rooms dedicated to Jeff Gordon, a NASCAR superstar whose car and jumpsuit have sported a rainbow – and you know what that means. Rumours about his sexuality abound, especially in the wake of his recent divorce.



Are there really no limits? Is there a little bit of gay aesthetic in pretty much everything? One theory suggests that there must be a gay methodology – call it camp, call it drag – that assimilates anything and everything in its path.



Or maybe it’s the end of gay. There’s nothing inherently attractive to homosexuals in any of these activities; it’s just a bunch of folks with an eclectic set of interests, who in a post-identity world can self-consciously piece together things they like and call it a life.



Gayification. Is it gay folks arriving? Or gay folks leaving?



I dunno. I’m still stuck on NASCAR.



* Brenda Cossman is a member of the board of directors of Pink Triangle Press, which publishes Xtra.