Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stepford Husbands at the New York Times

A couple of weeks ago [4/27/08] The New York Times ran an article in their Sunday magazine section about gay men in their twenties who are getting married ["The Newlywed Gays!"], contrasting them to gay men years ago who --while they may have entered into long-term relationships -- weren't neccessarily interested in the whole white picket fence, monogamy, supposedly straight boilerplate marriage contract business (not that straight marrieds are necessarily monogamous! I'll have more on this whole business in a future post.)

Looking at the somewhat grotesgue cover (pictured) I didn't expect much from the article; the supposedly liberal Times has published some surprisingly homophobic stuff in the past. However, I actually thought the article -- written by a Benoit Denizet-Lewis (I swear) -- was rather good and interesting (with some reservations), but I could have done without the idiotic photographs that accompanied it. Although the piece and some of the men interviewed tried to debunk a few gay stereotypes -- such as the stupid notion that in a gay male marriage one man is the "husband" and the other is the "wife" -- the kitschy, silly photos seemed to be trying to undermine it all (and I don't care if the photograher, Erwin Olaf, or the prop stylist, Jeffrey W. Miller, may be gay or not; I have no idea). The photographs seemed to be mocking the very men who were profiled in the article, making them seem like dizzy, infantile clones -- the unbelievably old-fashioned image of gay men as backward children. The poses were ridiculous. In a photo inside the magazine one poor guy was made up to resemble some kind of Stepford Wife (no, he wasn't in drag; again it was the pose).

It just seems that when it comes to gay men some people just can't get past the "camp," silly "fashionable" gay-men-are-boys (or, worse, girls) aspect no matter how many butch bears come out of the closet.

There were some aspects of the article itself that gave me pause as well. [I started my Ask Gay Dr. Bill online column for the very purpose of countering the dumb things said and written about gay people even by other gay people.] Deniset-Lewis writes that "like most gay men my age and older" he grew up thinking "happy gay men in a long-term relationship is an oxymoron." Why on earth should he think this when there have always been long-term gay couples, even in pre-Stonewall days and certainly after? The only conclusion I can reach is that he assumes just because he's had trouble maintaining a solid relationship that all gay men must be having the same problem.

Which says more about him than it says about gay men.

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