What about the world of glamor which exploded in the 20th c in Hollywood and TV? I recently caught two documentaries about gay image-makers, one about Rock Hudson, the other about figure skating sensation Eric Radford. The Hudson piece Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger (2010) was trashy, quoting his ‘friends’ about how wonderful he was, how ‘gay’ he was (forgetting they idolized his closeted hetero image for forty years). No substantive critique of his acting or insight into his promiscuity and inability to form lasting relationships. It mostly showed pin-ups and then pathetic media images of his final years and return from Paris in 1985 in a specially rented plane. Considering the film was supposed to be a tribute to him, it was vacuous and left a bad taste.
Archetypes, old and new
Gays need better archetyping/ stereotyping, which is what popular culture should provide, as it did throughout the ages. Among the Greeks are Ares (war, valor), Hermes (religion, messenger of the gods), Hephaestus (craftsman, sculptor), Dionysus (wine, religious ecstasy), and Ganymede (beauty, pederasty). The greatest ancient myth is the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a story of comradeship, love and reconciliation with death. Now the top 10 Gay Male Character Archetypes are Straight Acting or Butch, Effeminate, Queens, Drama Queen, Flaming Queen, Drag Queen, Twink, Bear, Trannies and Boy Toy.
To give classical Hollywood its due, there were lots of males exuding masculinity, courage and intelligence. Hollywood was a lifesaver for gays, who were able to live vicariously through their heroes. And boy-meets-girl was just fine. Gays for the most part recognized their ‘blessure’ and yearned for the happy ending that they sensed only hetero love could provide. This included the Rock Hudson/ Doris Day romantic comedies where there was far more comedy than romance, and where the comedy was gay-positive, and because it was closeted, twice as funny and accessible to straight audiences. They and much of Hollywood fare remain beloved to gays and straights alike. .
Before gaylib, homosexuals were mostly ignored in movies, foils or sidekicks of the hero (Holmes’ Dr Watson, the Lone Ranger’s Tonto, Batman’s Robin, Don Quixote’s Sancho Panchez), the odd celibate (uncle Harry) tolerated, occasionally befriending and mentoring a lost teen. Now parents are paranoid about older male-younger male friendships, demanding bureaucracies with sexless guardians eyeing potential lechers, Hugh Grant’s About a Boy (2002) a charming and notable (and very hetero) exception.
Mindless fretting — what better way to produce homophobes in your teenagers (unless they rebel or are gay and tell the parents to screw off)? In truth, just how serious was child molestation on the whole before gaylib? No stats, which partly suggests the problem was not widespread. Now our media screams out rumors (guilty until proven innocent), destroying people’s lives in the interest of ‘children’s rights’.
The other documentary I caught was about figure skater Eric Radford, gold medalist at the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships. In December 2014, he publicly came out as gay in an interview with the LGBT publication Outsports. In doing so, he became the first competitive figure skater ever to come out at the height of his career; Radford and Duhamel’s gold medal win in pairs skating made him the first openly gay figure skater ever to win a medal at that competition. He is an ambassador for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam program to combat homophobia in sports. He ‘came out’ not as a partner in a luscious romance, but as a mentor to young boys (a la Hugh Grant). In the documentary, his pairs partner Meagan Duhamel is shown adjusting her frilly wedding gown, dutifully marrying her coach in the fashion of today’s business partnership—today’s ideal marriage (2 lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc.).
My hats off to Eric—can he pull it off? No one will ever be interested in skating programs with him dresses in frills, dramatizing a sex change, or playing the diva in Tosca, just as gay movies in Hollywood are a bust. Nor will they be able to take him seriously as machoman—his superman days are over. Like Brian Orser, he is nothing to worry about, as he is a fine, artistic skater and creative scenarist. There are lots of abstract themes that will no doubt keep him busy—Firebird, Rite of Spring, bisexual characters who are tragic in their inability to sustain a straight relationship, destined to fall for the hero. Gilgamesh’s Enkidu. There is never any homophobia for sports champions anyway. And what’s so wrong about being the tragic fall-guy, saving the godlike prince, sacrificing one’s life for the love of another? Frankly give me Enkidu any day. Being Gilgamesh for 126 years sounds like a bore.
There are a handful of gay movies, but only Brokeback Mountain (2005) has artistic value, and like all other gay literature with any value, is tragic and hardly gay positive. It appealed to hetero audiences precisely because of that (and the straight actors). There are independent films such as the bitter sweet British coming-of-age comedies Beautiful Thing (1996) and Get Real (1998), but with no happy endings.
The German Free Fall (2013) was more anti- than pro-gay. A devilish rebel cop entices a straight cop into an affair even as his wife is pregnant. He destroys the straight cop’s family and essentially his life, through selfishness and his own amorality. The straight cop follows him trying to satisfy his lust and his obsessive romantic fantasy. But some things should remain fantasy. The most interesting was the Israeli Out in the Dark (2012), which poses starkly the dilemma of a Palestinian youth, Nimr (leopard) —should he give in to his homosexual yearnings, destroying his family and his own happiness, abandoning the Palestinian struggle, or spy for the Israelis, kill his brother and/or run to the West and await his Israeli lover? This is hardly a cry for gay liberation.
Gaylib has not had much real effect on Hollywood. Gays before gaylib would secretly slaver over Rock Hudson in a macho Giant movie (1956), ravishing Liz Taylor (who no doubt preferred the kiss of a forbidden gay to the boring macho stereotypes she was forced to deal with). Now they slaver over Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. No change in Hollywood role models, except for the odd (unpleasant, pathetic, comedic) gay minor character. Gay films are box office suicide and will never happen.
Interestingly, Hudson’s career has revived. Gays love him, and straights love that he loved them and was happy to act the straight (much better than most straights). Many of his films took on a new piquant character—the Doris Day unsexy romances (how many gays have lived out some variation on this?) where Doris loves him not for his sexiness, but for his puppy dog cuteness. His attempt to become a serious actor resulted in some fascinated movies— Seconds (1966) about a guy completely changing his character)—a direct allegory for his own secret life, and appropriately tragic. Other gay Hollywood icons such as Tab Hunter quickly fell victim of their too pretty looks and disappeared, now nostalgic flotsam for gays.
No, there is no getting around the traditional social norms, no matter how many gay marriages and divorces, no matter how many cloned offspring from starving Malaysian mothers desperate to sell their eggs to keep their own children alive. But think of the implications of this for not only the Malaysian mother, but for the children brought up with no genetic heritage beyond one (or even 2) gay fathers, having being plopped down in the middle of suburban America, where money reigns and anything goes. This might drive a thoughtful youth to suicide (or anti-gaylib revolt), as he realizes he is in fact a social experiment in a brave new world, a plaything of science and superrich parents who have nothing better to do to help humanity than create their own gene justification to consumer greater and great amounts of the world’s resources, already exploited to death.
Childish American culture
In the old, classic comedies of the studio era — the screwball roller coasters of marriage and remarriage, with their wit and sly innuendo (for example, Bringing Up Baby (1938)—adulthood was a wearisome fact. It was burdensome but also full of opportunity. You could drink, smoke, flirt and spend money. The trick was to balance the fulfillment of your wants with carrying out your duties.
But the strictures of patriarchy underlie American culture. Escape is fleeting and rare—Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, Ishmael and Queequeg in Moby-Dick, apparently sexless but intensely homoerotic cross-cultural connections. Such platonic friendship was their way of escape. This arrested development contributed to the rise of gaylib—the ultimate refusal to grow up. In a sense, all American fiction is young-adult fiction.
Pederasty vs pedophilia
And what about that elusive group of homosexuals who in the past enjoyed mutually enjoyable contact with boys, helping them go to university, passing them on to their natural str8 life, such as Daniel Carleton Gajdusek (1923–2008), who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1976 for his work on kuru, the first human prion disease demonstrated to be infectious. He loved boys (no crime in New Guinea), adopted 17 Guinean youth (and one girl) and brought them to the US as immigrants, providing them with wonderful lives. How is Gajdusek remembered today? Only as an evil pedophile. In 1996, Gajdusek was charged with child molestation on suspect evidence, spent 12 months in prison before entering a self-imposed exile in Europe, where he died a decade later.
Whose fault is this travesty of justice? Is it homophobia, media sensationalism, or perhaps gaylib itself, which for decades since 1960s has screamed about ‘equal rights’, and has worked to ‘out’ quiet and nondangerous pederasts like Gajdusek (or Baden Powell for that matter), who were not child molesters (pedophiles). Just compare those two very similar men. Powell was left in peace by the media (there was still some sense of culture and respect for real human rights a century ago), and, 50 years later, in the age of gaylib, Gajdusek was reviled and turned into a media clown. Anything to make a buck.
That’s not gaylib’s fault, but gaylib joined in this cultural morass. It feared defending someone like Gajdusek, who channeled his pederasty in a positive way. Gaylib caved in to the secular ethos, dumping the complex traditions of homosexuality in exchange for the social compromise now being implemented, based on the power of money to regulate our moral life.
Yes, pederasty is always fraught with danger. It relies on a strict moral code in the mentor (inculcated from implicit social mores) not to overstep any bounds that might harm the youth, and also the mentored not to provoke his powerful new acquaintance to anything he might later regret. The Greek figured this out. The art is lost today.