Gay: the new service industry?

or: How I stopped worrying and learned to love Bob Brown.

This isn’t meant to be read by anyone, but if you want to read it, please be my guest. In fact, do you need a pedicure? Perhaps a new hair-do? A new look? A new boyfriend? Someone to listen to your endless petty dramas while I don’t have any life of my own? Someone to invite to parties so you can look more fashionable? Someone whose opinion is only sought when Britney, Paris, or the latest case of the current outbreak of the celebrity disease? Something witty to go with your wine and after dinner mints?

Not so long ago I was watching an interview RuPaul was giving at the launch of his latest film “Starrbooty”, a rebellious anti-PC independent movie. And what he said really struck a nerve with me – that Gays are the new ”

Bob Brown in his prime

servants”. If you look at anything from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” to the latest Romantic Comedy with the gay best friend, to all those gay Hollywood “Reporters” for the morning news, and the gay fashion designers putting together their lists of “what’s hot” at the Oscars. Gays are only “acceptable” in a straight world if we are seen to be “helping” straights. I might go further be saying that gays are only given a voice on the most trivial matters like fashion and celebrity.

The two men I have seen actually given a voice? Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, and a man whose name I forgot, the former Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Aboriginal Affairs in NSW during the time of Bob Carr’s leadership. Two great politicians who rose to the top of their game. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything that they say, at least they can say it. They aren’t judged by their looks like former rugby league star Ian Roberts, or have to parade their boyfriends and personal lives for everyone to see. Their opinions are heard. The Deputy Premier fought his way though the blue-collar world of the Australian Labour Party, whereas Bob Brown has made his own political party. I have never really agreed with the Greens, I think that saving the environment is great, but I think that the Greens are just a protest party. Getting work done in Parliament means making deals, compromise and guiding the public rather then pushing them. However, I’m never going to judge his right to express his views. They are his. The one thing you can say about Bob Brown is that there are no surprises. You know exactly what he is going to say about an issue before he says it.

Beyond Australia, you have the amazing Gore Vidal, author and commentator of American Culture and History. As interesting and relevant as I find him, I still feel that he fits into that witty social commentator role left by Oscar Wilde. Hostesses like nothing better then a bit of Truman Capote to add a spicy bit of controversy to make her dinner parties the greatest hits of the season. But wit so often has build in obsolescence, it is very rare that something topical today, will have any meaning ten, fifty or a hundred years from now. And because this wit becomes yesterday’s news so quickly, so too does the person who says it. And thus all gays are seen to have no longevity. Look at “The Block” and it’s much less successful imitator “The Hot House”, the token gay couple on both programs were constantly referred to as ‘the boys’ despite being well over forty. Because being gay is such a childish thing, a faze, a whim, something that one decides to do to rebel against society before ‘settling down’ for a real marriage to a woman. No, two men couldn’t possibly have real feelings for each other. It’s just sex, or puppy love doomed to failure. No, these ‘boys’ could never be mature enough to raise children, so let’s not let them have a real marriage.

Of course, in parts of the world two men can get married. We even have Elton John as our own fearless leader, with his younger husband. While I don’t agree with his lifestyle or lack of taste, at least its something. And Elton, along with Gore Vidal, Ian McKellen – the actor who plays Magneto in the X-Men movies, Dominic Dunne, David Geffen, and Quentin Crisp, at least provide a role model of life after forty for the average gay man. So long as you are rich and famous, and provide a service to the straight community in the form of music, movies, and witty commentary.

Life, of course isn’t so bad. After all we do have “Philadelphia”, “Brokeback Mountain”, and “Angels in America” showing gays in loving relationships albeit with Hollywood’s usual “Love Story” treatment of one of the main characters dieing at the end. And although these stories are terribly dated, they at least represent a positive change from the suicidal, mentally disturbed, serial-killing sluts that were the gay characters from “Cruising” in the 1970’s to “Basic Instinct” of the 1990’s and beyond. The truth is that we can’t look to the heterosexual community to define us. We define ourselves right? So who exactly are we?

Are we the fifteen-year old sneaking into a club with his best friend? The eighteen-year old getting his free pass to a lifetime of sex, drugs and robotic soulless dance music? Or the 40 – 60 year olds trying to get their taste of young flesh, the younger the better? Or are we the invisible 30 year-olds playing the game on the internet? Are we the man playing dress-ups in drag? Are we the “straight” husbands or men with steady boyfriends looking for a bit of side action? Are we the man who is a serial multiple dater, not remembering exactly what he did with whom? Or are we the man writing obscene messages on the toilet walls? Are we the man whose not quite sure he has AIDS, but is bare-backing everything that moves anyway? Or are we the man who knows he has AIDS and is doing the same thing? Or are we the man who dreams of a steady relationship with children and a dog? Or are we all these things? Or none of these things?

When will the gay community get serious? Because when you start treating yourself as something more then just a trivial, helpful, witty slut obsessed with celebrity, the world around you starts doing the same thing. Where are the scandalous stories about Bob Brown? You don’t hear them because he is serious. He takes pride in himself, and his private life is his own. When the only images of masculine gay men in the media are found in hard-core porn you know that something has gone wrong. So where are the role models? Speaker of the house, I nominate the honorable Bob Brown.


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