Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An addendum to the earlier “gaybros” post

The founder of the gaybros movement was nice enough to leave a comment on the post, which I’m quoting below:

Hey there Jamieson, Alex here (Gaybros founder).

Myles wrote a great piece, and is an awesome guy - but let me be the first to tell you that Lady Gaga fans are very welcome among the Gaybro ranks.

The definition and interests are what we gather around, but they are by no means requirements. We have girls, guys, straight, gay, bi, trans* - you name it, there’s probably someone who fits the bill on Gaybros.

We may not gather to talk about Lady Gaga or musicals, but many of members openly enjoy those things (in addition to whatever their “bro” interests are).

It’s a group that gets together to have fun with like minded people and have some awesome discussions and make friends along the way. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I’ll refrain from adding anything - just putting it here so people can see both sides. 

Myles wrote this piece for the New York Observer about a burgeoning subset of gay men uniting under the banner of “gaybros”. I liked the piece and thought he did a really nice job, but the “gaybro” concept rankles me for a few reasons. Consider this an ultra-reactionary but hopefully semi-reasonable take on why the ideas of “gaybros” sets off an alarm or two. 

First, the good stuff: the gaybros’ quest to escape narrow-mindedness and prevent their sexuality from overshadowing every aspect of their life is understandable, even admirable. I felt the same way when I first came out; I told my friends and family similar things, that my sexuality was just a small part of me and I didn’t want it to define who I was. Myles writes that gaybros “don’t want to be defined by their sexual orientation so much as their manly interests.” The first part of this sentence is great; the second part is where we run into problems. 

Here’s how I see it: if you are a man and you’re interested in something, that makes it a “manly interest”. It doesn’t matter if it’s the NBA or craft beer or the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or Sharon Needles or Demi Lovato or makeup tutorials on YouTube. Myles quotes a founder of the movement describing gaybros as saying they’re “your best bud, the guy you played sports with in high school, the guy you went on a camping trip with last summer, the guy you meet at the bar for a drink after work on Fridays. He makes fun of your picks for fantasy football, or he shows you the right way to do a keg stand. He would identify himself through his interests and character before anything else. He just so happens to be gay.” He’s not describing “gaybros”, he’s describing gay men. Why do we need a special subset? (We don’t.)

There’s nothing wrong with looking for gay men with similar interests, but the ideology behind the gaybro community reinforces ideas about homosexuality and masculinity that have haunted gay men for, like, forever. It implies that conditional access to groups of straight male peers is only granted by holding stereotypically masculine interests, like sports and video games; it creates a sub-level within the larger group of gay men that femme guys can’t access. It’s right there in the subtitle of the piece: “Lady Gaga Fans Need Not Apply”. 

For many gay men, loving sports, video games, and Lady Gaga are not mutually exclusive propositions. I count myself among this group. I love basketball more than anyone I know and enjoy the odd brewski; I also call RuPaul’s Drag Race my favourite TV show and wear tank tops from April to October. I hang out with a group of straight guys that runs ten deep and have done so throughout university, and I make them listen to Carly Rae Jepsen sometimes. I am happy to share my interests with anyone, gay or straight, masculine or no; I do not feel the need to cordon off sections of my interests and slap another label on myself. I contain multitudes, etc. 

Myles quotes another leading gaybro early on in the piece as saying “There was nothing in my life that said you can play fantasy football and be gay. That didn’t exist in my world.” It’s horrible to feel like there isn’t a place for you in the world, and it’s a familiar feeling for many gay men; that gaybro has my sympathy. But his efforts to create a world where fantasy football and gayness can coexist have reminded many of his gay brothers just how shitty those feelings are. 

Again, this is not intended to speak for anyone or to serve as a comprehensive take on the situation - it’s just one person’s opinion. 

Monday, January 7, 2013 Sunday, July 1, 2012
While Church Street isn’t cool with the hipster queer kids (all it takes is a few promoters to change that), and the need to stick together in one area for security is much less powerful now, the Village is still critical, if only for this moment: imagine a gay kid coming from a less tolerant place like Timmins, Jamaica or Afghanistan, arriving at Church and Wellesley and, for the first time, seeing this vibrant, celebratory strip. No offence to those three places, but this is why cities are salvation: you can see, immediately, that you belong here, just as you are. I read this passage from Shawn Micallef’s Stroll while waiting to fly home to Timmins for the Canada Day long weekend, which of course doubles as Toronto Pride, and melted into a puddle on the Terminal 1 floor. He’s absolutely right.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Although there are entire subgenres, record labels, and near-three hour Magnetic Fields concept albums devoted to the intricacies of heterosexual romance, I can’t think of a single gay love song off the top of my head. Until this problem is somehow fixed (I am open to suggestions), “Lust for Life” will have to do.

"Lust for Life" isn’t really a gay love song; other than the first two lines, it could be just another lovesick pop ditty. But the presence of “I wish I had a boyfriend / I wish I had a loving man in my life” can’t help but elevate the song and transform it into something of an anthem for doofy romantics like yours truly. It makes me feel like an easy mark, to be honest. Are my heartstrings really plucked that easily by the mere suggestion of “boyfriend”, by relatability? Apparently, the answer is yes.

If it’s not a love song, then it’s a song about fulfillment and finding happiness for yourself. Love comes along at weird times, or it lies dormant, or it doesn’t come at all. We can keep wishing and waiting, or we can seek out the small joyful bits that sneak in along the way. 

A comprehensive list of the protagonist’s wishes in “Lust for Life”:

  • A boyfriend
  • A loving man in his life (role potentially filled by the boyfriend)
  • A father
  • A pizza
  • A suntan
  • A bottle of wine (preferably served in tandem with pizza)
  • A beach house, complete with fire pit (for big fires every night)

I’m not equipped with the right adjectives to describe that guitar tone, especially when it’s ringing all by itself for the first fourteen seconds or so, but it’s just right.

Since 2009, the members of Girls have become experts at dragging out otherwise pleasurable songs to nap-inducing lengths. “Lust for Life” is the rare cut that doesn’t overstay its welcome. I’m not sure how Owens & co. lost the ability to truncate songs at the right time, but its return would be greatly appreciated.

I like the outro because it doesn’t sound unambiguously happy or depressing - it’s a little bittersweet. The ending is dependent on our imagination and our personal philosophy.

This song is still the best thing Girls have ever done. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

A conversation about the RS interview with Bradford Cox

  • Matthew: what did you think about the queerness stuff
  • Jamieson: I thought that was really interesting, and certainly from my perspective he's right, there's no one like a Bowie or even a Jagger who are powerful and interesting with ambiguous sexuality
  • Obviously there are relatively prominent gay musicians in the indie community like Ed Droste and Rostam, but they're not making music that's sexually charged in any way whatsoever
  • Matthew: yeah but those guys aren't exactly big figures or really vocal about it.
  • the only big gay rock star of the past decade is Jake Shears
  • Jamieson: I think Bradford nailed a queer topic/perspective with "Helicopter", which is one of my absolute favourites
  • and that's true but they're not closet cases either, Rostam talks about writing "gay love songs" and does interviews with Out magazine
  • Matthew: yeah but Ezra writes the lyrics for that band
  • Jamieson: I think he was referring to some of the songs on the Discovery record he did, like the song with Angel Deradoorian
  • And he also specifically mentioned "Diplomat's Son", maybe he and Ezra planned that one? IDK
  • I also thought it was interesting that homo-eroticism and boyhood came one right after the other, I think that's fairly revealing
  • Matthew: I know, right
  • he blurted it out, really fast.
  • Jamieson: I find that incredibly fascinating, and if that's something that ties into a personal experience with him I understand that. As someone who played a lot of sports and still had a lot of male friends while closeted in HS (I guess that hasn't really changed), the rampant homoeroticism that's part of close male friendships or groups of young men is so, so confusing and bewitching to behold as someone trying to deal with their sexuality.
  • And for someone like Bradford who is an odd-looking guy, he must have felt even more confused and alienated, distanced from any potential peers.
  • It's easy to trace paths from possible experiences like that to his current work, I think.
  • Matthew: yeah.
  • Jamieson: And finally, I thought the asexual comment was quite funny, because for my first 18 months of university when I wasn't interested in girls and starting to get frustrated in the closet, I would always joke about being asexual. It was like a running thing between me and my guy friends in my program.
  • Once at a party someone accused me of carving my phone number into their wooden bar (which had been done by a drunk friend of mine) and I freaked out and told them "I'm asexual! I'm not interested in girls at all!" So I thought it was interesting that "asexuality" was a precursor for Bradford too.
  • Those are all my thoughts for now. ha
  • Matthew: I think that's common
  • Jamieson: It's hard to believe the guy who made Turn It Up Faggot and the guy who made Parallax are the same person.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 Friday, April 15, 2011

Kobe and the “other” f-word: A few thoughts

1. I don’t think Kobe is a bigot and I believe he’s truly remorseful, despite the wishy-washyness of his issued statement. I think the serious issue is that the f-word has become firmly ingrained in North American masculine culture as the go-to insult/slur when attempting to humiliate or demean someone. Some have said that they’re curious what was going through Kobe’s mind when he uttered the f-word; I don’t think anything went through his mind at all. Young men and adults are conditioned to use that word when expressing the height of disgust and it reaches the tongue on impulse alone. Calling someone a faggot is for athletes, bro-types and many other men is like saying “ouch” when you burn your hand for everyone else in the 21st century.

2. David Stern should be applauded for his swift and severe response. Say what you will about Mr. Stern, but the man runs an extremely tight ship.

3. I have a few friends who like to use the f-word, and just like Kobe, I’m sure they’re not bigots, just misguided. It hurts a lot more to hear them say it than it does to hear Kobe say it. Not to assassinate his character, but why are people so shocked that he would say such a thing? Kobe is a notoriously fierce and ruthless competitor who is near the top of the league in technical fouls, mostly from mouthing off to refs. He chews out his teammates without holding back; what’s to stop him from unleashing his full arsenal on a referee? (I haven’t even mentioned the most obvious asterisk, the fact that he’s been charged with sexual assault. I realize that’s only tangentially related to the use of the f-word, but I think it’s a reliable indicator of his general demeanour and carelessness in these areas.)

4. I wasn’t expecting a ton of sincerity anywhere in these proceedings, but the worst was Kobe defending himself by saying that all through middle and high school, he had been a vehement defender of the gays and lesbians, and had stopped classmates from using the f-word. Give me a break. Any sane person who has seen the hate with which this word is uttered so routinely, and had actually tried to stop it, would never say it as an expression of anger, no matter how heated the situation. You can be bigoted, you can be a huge asshole, but don’t lie to everyone’s faces about your supposed defense of the people being hurt here. That’s offensive.

     If you read through EVERYTHING above, thanks for giving it a look. I hope I managed to share at least one word of unique perspective - all the world’s commentators have been weighing in on this, but I couldn’t resist dropping in my two cents.