"Resolution for this post-Pride month: Be proud of the sides of yourself that haven't yet been packaged and turned into a marketing category, and don't rest easy until their acceptance doesn't come tied to a membership card."
Here I was all excited about my newfound freedom to bugger with abandon all over Texas, when I blink and find a dent in the acceptance of bent folks in this great nation of ours. The Wall Street Journal, a newspaper I read about as often as William F. Buckley Jr. watches E!, reported on July 7 that the ever-encroaching satellite broadcaster DirecTV will begin airing up to eight gay-themed films a month through its pay-per-view-services. Great, huh? Todd Haynes for the masses, right?
Not according to Paul Colichman, the head of Here Films, Regent Entertainment's homo-inclined programming service that will be providing the cinematic selections. In a coinage that has no doubt provided the new buzz words for the boardrooms of salivating ad firms across the country, Colichman says the movies to be offered are meant to draw in "Home Depot gays," a presumably tool-oriented group of people who are nevertheless, according to the WSJ, "more conservative in outlook." I'm thrilled that my brothers and sisters in sodomy are continuing to penetrate mass markets, and it's momentous that we may soon be able to marry "just like normal people," but I get suspicious when I hear a gay entertainment service commit solely to the tastes of queers who have great patios, plenty of shelving, and the tendency to be heard at chi-chi same-sex mixers saying things like, "Well, I mean, we have to support the troops, don't we?"
If there's anything we have to worry about, as the march toward gay and lesbian assimilation progresses, it's the human tendency to sell each other out for what is supposedly the greater good. Ever since Philadelphia put across Tom Hanks as the world's first gay man content not to spend every waking moment beneath Antonio Banderas, the media has had a tendency to market us as freshly washed bachelors with attractive disposable incomes and the ability to touch the hearts of Joanne Woodwards everywhere. While I realize I'm supposed to be grateful for being marketed to at allsince marketing is the official sign of cultural acceptance is these United Statesand I do recognize the sometimes dizzying inroads we've made since the days when even the word "homosexual" meant public shame, I can't get too excited about it all when most of the homos I know, while handy with battery-operated accoutrements, can't quite be called Home Depot gays. Hitachi Magic Wand gays, perhaps; Silicone plug gays, occasionally. But none of them are lining up to construct their own particleboard entertainment center just so they can cackle at The Birdcage.
This move to gain cultural leverage by positing ourselves as "respectable" U.S. citizens is going to cost us more than we bargained for if we go along with it simply because we're hungry for understanding and tired of crumbs. Have Philadelphia and its ilk really done anything for us? Have we seen any Oscar-nominated, honest depictions of gays in Hollywood film lately? Sure, Will & Grace is full of hysterically ribald humor, and its mostly farcical exploits ring with truly gay sensibility, but if we think the show's success promises anything more than the proliferation of homos as naughty, stylish, Cher lovers, we're kidding ourselves. Resolution for this post-Pride month: Be proud of the sides of yourself that haven't yet been packaged and turned into a marketing category, and don't rest easy until their acceptance doesn't come tied to a membership card.