Three occurrences is all it takes for media types to declare a trend. With same-sex marriage, the US Supreme Court sodomy decision, two new gay-themed reality TV shows on Bravo and now the Pope, queer topics are scoring 9.5 on the mainstream trend-o-meter this summer.
When Global TV’s National news called me last week looking for comments about US-based Bride magazine, I realized that the prospecting for queer media gold had sunk to desperate levels. To hell with nuggets; dust will do.
These calls put me off because reporters are always looking for very specific kinds of remarks, uttered in an authoritative tone that could be mistaken for the definitive voice of a community. I’m supposed to respond with something like, “Bride magazine’s decision to run a story about same-sex marriage is a big step towards the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered people, clearly demonstrating the growing power of the pink dollar,” when I really want to say, “Bride magazine has as much cultural relevance as The Needlepoint Journal. Weddings are great if they have a free bar at the King Eddie and the groom has three handsome brothers. Oh, and the idea of matching cake toppers makes me gag.”
Knowing this wouldn’t make me a popular pundit, I bit my tongue. But the calls don’t stop. After the Ontario Court Of Appeal decision on same-sex marriage, I had this conversation with a reporter from Newsweek.
“How do you feel about the decision?”
“How do I feel? How do I feel personally, you mean? Or professionally?”
“I can tell you’re pleased.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I can hear it in your voice,” he replied, though if I were required to assess my own tone, I would have suggested “impatient bewilderment” rather than “pleased.” But he didn’t ask.
“What kind of effect do you think this is going to have on the US?”
“I haven’t talked to anybody in the US. Is it state law down there or federal or what?”
“This decision will have an impact on the US, won’t it?”
“I don’t know how Americans will react.” I had given up on being quoted in Newsweek. “To be honest, I don’t know very much about what makes Americans happy. I’m not even sure what makes Canadians happy.”
He asked if there was someone else he could talk to. As is my habit, I told him to call the 519 Community Centre. I figured someone over there could say, “We’re delighted to be leading North America into the 21st-century,” without so much equivocating.
Even more perplexing was the request of a TV producer for some new CBC series. He wanted two people who hold opposing points of view – in this case someone who supports same-sex marriage and someone who is against it – who would agree to swap lives and debate. This would all be televised.
An activist who was also approached by the producer compared the concept to a black civil rights activist being asked to debate equality with a white supremacist. Isn’t it putting homophobia on an equal footing with equality activism?
True enough. But my reservations were more pragmatic. Would my match-up be someone like New Brunswick MP Elsie Wayne? She looks tidy, but she’d likely want to throw out my porn with the cardboard recycling. And what would we talk about that would find us some common ground?
“If gay men are so promiscuous, Elsie, why can’t I get laid?”
“What does it matter? You’re going to hell anyway.”
“It’s only fair if I’m going to hell, I should at least have lots of sex in the meantime. I promise I’ll be discreet. Besides, if I’m whoring around, I’ll never achieve wedded bliss.”
“I suppose. So long as I never have to hear about it.”
Easy opinions about queer life, I’ve discovered, are much easier to form when you’re not living one.
Paul Gallant is Managing Editor for Xtra.