What about us gays who are flamers?

The editor of a gay website lambasts those gay activists who want a ‘tolerance message’ added to Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy Brüno.

Mark Adnum

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The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD’s) demand this past weekend that Universal Studios add a pro-gay, ‘tolerance message’ to Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy Brüno is the most stupefyingly censorious storm in a gay teacup since Liberace sued the Daily Mirror in 1957 after one of its reporters compared him to an aspidistra.

Universal refused, as well it should have. At least Hollywood movie studios have come a long way from 1980, when United Artists agreed to gay activist requests to place a disclaimer at the start of Cruising which reminded audiences that: ‘This film is not intended as an indictment of the homosexual world. It is set in one small segment of that world, which is not meant to be representative of the whole.’

Though Cruising‘s unacceptable gays were burly macho men in denim and chaps pursued by Al Pacino, and though its controversial leather bar scenes were filmed inside actual New York leather bars and populated with extras who were patrons of those bars and who were told to tone down their behaviour so the movie could avoid a XXX-rating, gay activist groups of the day insisted on the disclaimer.

Stuck in that way-too-literal cinephilic time warp that’s unique to gay activists, GLAAD insists Cohen’s exaggeratedly stereotypical Austrian gay fashonista – now appearing on the red carpets of Europe in one over-the-top outfit after the next – throws way too much unwelcome shade on the gay public image. GLAAD spokesman Rashad Robinson said: ‘This movie does not unmask stereotypes. As someone who sat at the back of a focus-group audience, I felt they were laughing at us at times.’

GLAAD’s mission statement is: ‘The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.’

Its website continues: ‘At GLAAD, we are in the business of changing people’s hearts and minds through what they see in the media. We know that what people watch on TV or read in their newspaper shapes how they view and treat the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around them. And we have a responsibility to make sure that those images foster awareness, understanding and respect.

‘When media images of our lives are fair, accurate and inclusive, we find ourselves increasingly welcomed into a society that respects difference. When those images perpetuate stereotypes, myths and misinformation about our lives, we become vulnerable to anti-gay forces working to create a world in which we do not exist. Fair, accurate and inclusive media images shatter stereotypes. They prove that we are connected through common, human experiences. And these are stories that we – and the media – have a responsibility to share.’

Yet more dated paranoia (‘anti-gay forces’?) but reasonably very noble and well meant… except that many gay men are actually extremely queeny – real flamers. Where do they fit in when GLAAD decides that any kind of ultra-gay flamboyance is anathema to ‘gay pride’? As a commentator on my blog pointed out:

‘If you want to see real gays acting exactly like Brüno, watch almost anything on E! or Bravo or HGTV or, for that matter, the real fashion industry. I went to school at Parsons School of Design in NYC in the early 1990s. Brüno is actually kind of low key and grounded in comparison to the ridiculous behaviour I’ve seen in that world. Picture Karl Freaking Lagerfeld bowling… hunting… working on a car…having a conversation with the lady in the shoe department at Walmart. Comedy GOLD.’

How does GLAAD’s ‘fair, accurate and inclusive agenda’ make sense to itself when its actions directly marginalise and exclude a swathe of its own constituents? Speaking personally as a flamer (a person whose homosexuality enters the room before he does), I’m a little put out by GLAAD’s implication that I’m a stereotype that needs to be shattered.

I’m also curious as to what species I belong to if I’m not on GLAAD’s connective continuum of ‘common, human experiences’. Just as well my ‘homosexual story’ speaks more than loudly enough for itself, since GLAAD doesn’t agree that the media has ‘a responsibility to share it’.

And last time I checked, the merciless homo-lampooning of shows like Little Britain, Absolutely Fabulous et al is what helped make those shows evergreen gay favourites. Where is GLAAD when council-flat slappers feel a sense of deflation when they walk by gay shoppers who are gleefully buying a Vicky Pollard doll? Can’t remember hearing them standing up for Central Asians or naive Americans when Cohen’s Borat enjoyed its worldwide box office success a couple of years back, either, which is odd considering they have such strong principles regarding silver-screen offensiveness.

I don’t know exactly who GLAAD represents, or what it seems to stand for, but it definitely isn’t me or any gay guy I know. Straighty-one-eighty homosexual men who can conceal or reveal their sexuality at their discretion have absolutely no place telling camp guys who cop the brunt of real attitudes towards gays 24 hours a day what an acceptable gay image is, and I’d be glaad if they shoved their self-embarrassed eugenics up their arses.

Mark Adnum is a writer on film based in Australia and editor of Outrate.

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