Category Archives: Queer Theory (General)

Why We Still Need Queer Communities

The other day, while going for my run around the neighborhood, I decided on a whim to go down a side street I had not explored before.  While running, I happened to notice a rainbow flag hanging outside the back of a home.  Curious, I ran by the front to see if there were any other signs of queerness and, to my delight and surprise, there were several other homes with rainbow flags flying proudly.

Now, I had known for some time that I supposedly live in Syracuse’s “gayborhood” of Hawley Green, but until that day I had not seen many signs of queerness.  As I continued my run, I felt an astonishingly powerful feeling of peace and calm—and even a little joy—settle over me.  I was, I felt, somewhere I belonged.  It was a unique feeling for, while I have lived in queer houses in undergrad (often dubbed “The Big Gay House”), I had never known what it was like to live in a truly gay neighborhood.

I’m sure that you’re probably wondering why I’m spending so much time rambling on about my run (and probably thinking that I sound like one of those pretentious fitness nuts who always prattle on about their most recent physical accomplishment).  Well, it’s because of what that incident brought home to me, namely the continuing importance of queer enclaves in urban places.  Now that marriage equality has taken the nation by storm and we can finally see ourselves portrayed at least somewhat sympathetically in the mainstream media, it might seem as if the bad old days of oppression are over and we can live our lives thoroughly integrated into mainstream society and neighborhoods.

But is that really the case?

If nothing else, the recent brutal beating of two gay men in Philadelphia reminds us of just how precarious queer life still is in these United States.  For all that we have gained, there are still places and spaces where we are not welcome and where we are most definitely in danger.  And, unfortunately, sometimes those spaces are the streets that we walk down at night, holding hands and attempting to take advantage of the fact that we have become, so we are told, just like everyone else.

The fact remains, however, that we are not, in many ways, just like everyone else.  There are still a lot of very narrow-minded people in this country, and many of them, unfortunately also tend to be quite violent in their condemnation of what they see as a threat (to their religious faith, to their masculinity, take your pick).  Often, far too often, they lash out in violence like what occurred in Philadelphia.  Or that happened 14 years ago in rural Wyoming to a young man named Matthew Shepard.

Sure, we have gained a lot in the last 12 years.  As an adolescent and even as a college student, I would never have dreamt that we would have made it this far, that I would no longer have to scour the television for even a tantalizing glimpse of queer people.  Nor would I have dreamt that I could find other men like me with the ease of an app on an iPhone.

And yet, as scholars such as my own idol David Halperin have noted, this hookup culture (so easily facilitated by apps such as Grindr) has in many ways supplanted and rendered obsolete the old ways of forming queer communities.  After all, why bother forming your own neighborhood if you can find others like you (or, as an extension, exclude others not like you) on the dating app of your choice?  There’s no need for community when everyone is simply an individual, interacting with other individuals.

So, in my view, there is still a need for spaces that are specifically queer, where we can explore what it means to be queer in this brave new world of marriage equality.  We still need gayborhoods in which homes and families proudly fly the rainbow flag, serving as beacons of encouragement and peace to those young people still struggling to find themselves.  We still need spaces where we can proudly say, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”

Gay Assimilation and the Burden of Being Queerly Different

Recently, during a meeting of a queer studies reading group, I engaged in a spirited debate with a colleague about the advantages and disadvantages of assimilation.  He was not convinced that assimilation poses the dangers that many queer scholars such as Jack Halberstam and David Halperin have argued that it does.  Another colleague, one whom I know to be tremendously affirming of queer lifestyles, worried that it was unfair to expect her queer friends to continue to shoulder the burden of being different, wondering if it would perhaps be easier if, indeed, they were allowed to assimilate peacefully into the mainstream fabric of American culture.

While I respect these points of view and can even understand where they come from, I want to argue against them, and vociferously so.  In my view, the mainstream of American queers has not only resulted in a perilous amnesia about the queer past, but also a vehement disavowal of everything that once made queer life so vibrant, messy, and exciting.  As the great Michel Foucault reminded us so long ago, repression tends to beget the very instances and behaviours it seeks to repress.  Thus, it is almost as if, now that the tools of repression have begun to lose their edge and queer life has become for many much less overtly perilous, there is no longer an implied imperative to live queer life as if it may end in the next moment.  Without repression, it would seem, there is no longer an imperative to live and resist queerly.

The other danger that I believe exists in the very marrow of assimilation is the denial of the acceptability of any difference, even among those who ostensibly share one’s sexual orientation.  The same-sex marriage movement continues to organize its rhetorics around an implied “other,” the sexual deviant, the non-monogamous and sexually promiscuous homosexual that must be disavowed in order for same-sex marriage to gain much-needed credibility and acceptability among the straight, white, middle-class citizens who continue to be the arbiters of public cultural and political taste.  When queer people, especially queer couples, proudly announce that they are just like everyone else, what they really mean is that they are buying into the system of monogamy and all of the trappings that go with it, while simultaneously disavowing the acceptability of those who do not.  Even queers, it seems, create their own hierarchies of acceptability.

Of course, perhaps the most pernicious effect of assimilation is the ways in which it manages to convince its adherents to buy so completely into the logic of neo-liberalism and late capitalism.  If only, the logic goes, gay people can become consumers and participants in patriarchal capitalism–settle down, raise children, work hard, buy goods and services–then they will be fully accepted into the fabric of American society and all will be well.  Of course, the things that make American society so deeply divided, rampant and systemic racial and economic inequality among them, remain crucially un-examined and de-emphasized, precisely because those are nodes of crisis where the logics of of neo-liberalism that undergird assimilation are most clearly laid bare and made susceptible to critique.

All of this is not to argue that queer life was somehow better under the former repressive regime.  Certainly, there have been many gains that we should not give up, especially the ones that make queer life infinitely safer than it was even when I was growing up a decade and a half ago.  Even I, cranky radical queer that I am, would not give away the hard-earned legal gains that have made steps toward seeing queer people become equal citizens under the law (though the questionable status of the law itself is worthy of its own blog post).  However, I do want to argue that we should not so easily give up the practices of queer life–resistance to normativity, sexual, economic, racial, and gendered–that so many queers throughout the last century have developed.  Being accounted as “just the same” as everyone else is, in the end, just another form of oppression, however affirming it may appear.  Rather than seeing difference and resistance as a burden that only some have to bear, perhaps it is time that we see it as an opportunity in which we can all share.

The Perils and Promise of Queer Pedagogy

I recently had the pleasure of co-coordinating a session on creating safer classroom space.  In the process, I designed a skit that presented a scenario in which a student is not comfortable discussing LGBT issues as a result of his religious convictions and upbringing.  In the two sessions that occurred, a number of significant points were raised, including the fact that, while racism and sexism are commonly called out for rebuke, homophobia, often in the guise of religious belief or devotion, is excused or tolerated.  Of course, such duplicity occurs not only in the classroom, as the recent political discourse about religious business’s freedom to decline services to LGBT people makes amply clear.

This tension between tolerance for religious difference and acceptance of LGBT equality and dignity poses significant questions for educators at all levels, but especially at the college and university level, where courses dealing with both of these issues are common.  Whose rights deserve more respect and tolerance?  Does the student whose faith precludes or forbids tolerance for LGBT people (as well as other sexual minorities) need to be sternly rebuked in the classroom or the office?  How do we as educators work with such students to engage in meaningful dialogue, rather than just shutting them down?  I don’t pretend to know the answers to these questions, but they do need to be asked by those of us who have an investment in promoting social justice for sexual and gender minorities, no matter how difficult the answers might be.

Furthermore, designing and performing this sketch, as well as engaging in and sometimes answering questions about it, brought home to me just how much I take for granted as a teacher at private institution in New York that, typically, offers significant institutional support for LGBT issues, faculty, and students.  It may not be a perfect school, but it’s far better than many state and private schools in other parts of the country, including my own Appalachia, as well as in other parts of New York State.  Whether or not we want to realize it, those of us that are pursuing doctoral degrees in prestigious schools in urban centers, especially in the northeast, may one day find ourselves in those geographical spaces where there is not an assumed support for matters LGBT.  As terrifying as that prospect is for some people, we also need to recognize that it is precisely people who live in those areas–both those who share our beliefs and those who don’t–who are most in need of pedagogical experience and investment in engaging with the tough questions raised by the intersections and conflicts between religion and human sexuality.  Furthermore, we need to develop strategies for coping not just with students, but also with administrators that do not support LGBT issues.

I have long thought that it is a mistake for LGBT theorists and thinkers to simply assume that people in rural America should flee their intolerant small town and country environs and escape to the welcoming embrace of the big city.  There is a lot about rural queer identity, and rural live in general, that is worthy of celebration, even if it is sometimes tainted with the idiocy of those who espouse bigoted views.  If we want to effect meaningful social change for people in all parts of the country, we need to start engaging in meaningful and sustained dialogue with those with whom we most vehemently disagree.

There are, of course, no easy or simple answers when it comes to this issue.  Or at least there shouldn’t be.  As tempting as it might be to simply state that homophobia, no matter how fancily dressed it may be in its garments of religious devotion, has no place in our contemporary society, the reality is that things are far more complex.  If we, as educators, want to fulfill our mission of opening up minds and fostering critical engagement with today’s pressing political issues, including those that directly affect gender and sexual minorities, we have to be able to engage with even the most religiously devout of our students in deep and meaningful ways.  This is not going to be an easy task, but it is one that many of us will have to confront as we begin to enter the profession.  We would do well to start engaging in that conversation with our students, with ourselves, and especially with those who don’t agree with us.  And we should do so as soon as possible.

“Broke Straight Boys”: The Intersection of Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Amateur Gay Porn

It’s no surprise that many gay men (and much gay male pornography) is obsessed with straight men.  There are many reasons, both historic and cultural, for this long-standing erotic attraction for, as David Halperin has eloquently argued in his book How to Be Gay, part of what constitutes contemporary gay male identity and sexual desire is precisely an erotic attraction for the masculine, and in our culture nothing represents masculinity better than the machismo-enshrouded figure of the straight man.  Love or hate him, he remains a haunting presence in the American cultural and social imaginary, infusing even the gay community with a sometimes-noxious and toxic infatuation with masculinity and a concomitant rejection of the feminine.

This emerges quite clearly in the world of so-called amateur gay pornography, of the sort produced by such much-vaunted and celebrated studios as Corbin Fisher and Sean Cody, as well as some of the lesser luminaries such as Broke Straight Boys.  What makes the latter studio so compelling is the way in which it manages to encapsulate and draw upon so many different strands of gay erotic desire (including the rough trade figure that has long been a staple of gay pornography and erotica of various kinds) as part of its brand identity.  What emerges from this gay pornography studio is a compelling, and slightly disturbing voyeurism of the vexed figure of the straight male willing (and able) to do anything for the right amount of money.

Of course, the website’s agenda is spelled out in its very title, which draws explicit attention to the indigent status of its stars.  This attention to the financial vulnerability of its performers–many of whom are both explicitly and implicitly coded as traditionally masculine–seems to undermine the very stability of the masculine attributes that it otherwise fetishizes.  Appearances can be deceiving, however, and I would argue that it is precisely the confluence of gender, class, and sexual desire that comprises the visual and fantasy pleasure to be gained from this particular website.  Though its models are not as uniformly muscular or gay-clone-esque as those of some of the higher end studios (such as the aforementioned Sean Cody and Corbin Fisher), that actually works to make BSB’s models both more “realistic” and, perhaps surprisingly, more desirable.  To paraphrase a clutch of comments on various message boards, most of the models look like actual boys that you might pick up at your local gay bar.

Due perhaps in no small part to its own branding efforts–and in spite of its own claims to being the web’s #1 gay porn site–Broke Straight Boys has gained something of a reputation for producing and featuring pornography that, to paraphrase commentators at the WayBig Blog, looks like it came out of a trailer park.  The comment threads attached to the website’s updates frequently contain derogatory remarks about the studio and the quality of its products, and yet, it has clearly managed to gain a substantial enough following to warrant the forthcoming TV series that purports to offer a reality-TV perspective on the internal workings of the studio and its stable of stars.  I would argue that this can at least partially be explained by the particular niche that BSB seeks to fill, one that is studiously underserved by both Sean Cody, Corbin Fisher, and other more self-consciously high-level studios.

This niche is one in which Broke Straight Boys provides the pleasure of the attainable and the everyday, while also drawing upon those things that gay pornography has always attempted to provide for its ever-diversifying consumers.  In an era in which what constitutes gay culture and gay identity is, like many other categories of social identity, increasingly fractured and in flux, BSB also highlights how unstable even gay desire can be.  What’s more, it also illuminates the ways in which studio branding in the gay porn industry can have a significant and potent effect on the types of erotic pleasures being mobilized by these purveyors of visual erotica.  Not all gay pornography, it would seem, is made equal.

At the same time, however, there is a darker side of this branding identity that needs to be acknowledged.  While there is something seemingly perpetually appealing about the straight-to-gay transformation (commonly referred to as gay for pay within the industry), it also caters to a slumming mentality among gay male audiences that is worthy of sustained attention and critique.  What the comments sections on discussion boards call attention to (among many other things) is the unfortunate appeal to a masculinity made vulnerable to the vicissitudes of economic privation.  While this may be appealing as fantasy (and we can fervently hope that it is, though the unfortunate statistics regarding porn stars, economic instability, and suicide paint a different picture), we should also be aware of the disturbing contours and drives that undergird those fantasies.  Is it really so appealing to see financially strapped straight men paid to perform sex acts?  How is this any different than the economic exploitation that occurs when women are engaged in pornographic exploitation?

What emerges from this website, therefore, is an uncomfortable reminder of the contradictions and strains that continue to operate at the heart of gay male pornography and gay male sexual desire more generally.  In order to gain a more complete understanding of the complexities involved in the pleasures offered up by different pornography studios, we need to also understand the intertwining of class, gender, and sex that constitute those pleasures.  While many such entertainments attempt to make us forget what goes into their production, BSB is often forthright, actually making a point of mentioning the amount of money being offered.  In addition to seeing this as part of the fantasy scenario being constructed by the studio, as audiences and spectators we should also use this as a valuable opportunity to think about our own complacency in the exploitation of male sexual labour, as well as the consequences such exploitation has for an understanding of gay male culture’s contradictory relationship with hegemonic masculinity.

The Queer Pleasures of Disney Villains

Upon a recent watching of the excellent YouTube video “The Spell Block Tango,” it occurred to me (as it does often), about just how queerly pleasurable Disney villains have always been.  From the sophisticated and cultured queerness of Scar to the over-the-top drag villainy of Ursula the Sea Witch, Disney villains consistently lend themselves to queer appropriations and queer pleasures, opening up spaces of engagement with the allegedly (heterosexual) family friendly fare that is constantly purveyed by Disney.

The Disney animated features canon abounds with figures of queer villainy.  A few examples include:  Ursula (who was, in fact, designed after famed drag performer Divine), Prince John (voiced by Peter Ustinov, who also played the obviously queer and simpering Emperor Nero in the epic film Quo Vadis), Jafar (who we are all is more in love with Aladdin than he is with Jasmine), Gaston (anyone who is so macho and in love with his own heterosexuality has to be queer), and Scar (with the deliciously divine British voice of Jeremy Irons, how can we not take a lot of queer pleasure out of this villain with the “lion’s share” of brains), and Maleficent (who, though not queer, has such a stunning sense of fashion that we can’t help but take a measure of queer pleasure in her).

On one level, all of these characters are simply fascinating, especially when compared to the often lackluster heroes and heroines that populate the Disney landscape (they may be pretty to look at but, for the most part, they are rather bland characters).  In their over-the-topness and their elaborate costumes, to say nothing of their punchy dialogue, these allegedly “evil” characters offer themselves up to the queer viewer as a source of camp pleasure, in that we as gay viewers take pleasure in the artifice and the catty cruelty that these characters so often exhibit.  It’s not that we don’t like Ariel and Eric, or Jasmine and Jafar, it’s simply that their heterosexual romance does not offer the same pleasure as that given us by the characters who exist outside of these heterosexual circuits (however, this does not mean that queer viewers cannot inhabit the position of a Disney princess and desire the prince).  To some extent, whether consciously or unconsciously, we know that those queer characters on screen are our screen likes and our screen egos, and so we identify with them, even as we know that we are not supposed to (they are the villains, after all).

So, what are the politics of all of this?  Is there something problematic about the fact that so many Disney villains are so explicitly coded as queer and that, significantly, so many queer viewers seemingly find pleasure and identification with these evil characters?  Are we as queer viewers buying into the pernicious cultural myth that we are somehow a pestilence and a disease upon the body social?  Of course, if we were adopting the ideology that comes with these images of queerness in Disney popular culture, then that would certainly be the case.  However, I would argue that something far more complex is at work here.  As Brett Farmer convincingly argues in his noteworthy book Spectacular Passions, gay male audiences frequently identify with the tortured and doomed young man (he uses the notable example of Montgomery Clift) not because they see themselves as fundamentally doomed or tragic, but because they recognize in that particular figure the social forces that have resulted in his particular victimized status.  In a similar fashion, I would argue, queer viewers see in the Disney villain not simply an unadulterated and incomprehensible evil, as seems to be what the films themselves want us to take away, but instead a character who is, like the queer viewer, the victim of social oppression. The fact that so many Disney villains are denied backstories—we do not know anything about Ursula, for example, except that she was banished and exiled, for crimes that remain unexplained—allows a space for queer viewers to appropriate these villains and give them stories that make their alleged evil an added level of intelligibility through a queer lens.  In sort, gay men are wresting control away from the narratives themselves, understanding these characters as far more complex, captivating, and ultimately understandable than would seem to be the films’ intention.

All of this is not to suggest that all gay men engage with Disney in quite the same way.  Indeed, there are gay men that specifically do not like Disney or that “grow out of it” and cease to take pleasure in it after their childhood days are over.  However, what I hope I have shown is that Disney does offer queer viewers a multitude of pleasures that exist outside of the normal channels through which mainstream viewers take pleasure in these films.  This issue was brought home to me recently in one of the classes I teach, in which a student responded with dismay to my suggestion that, as a queer viewer, I took pleasure in the fact that the lion scar was so obviously coded as queer.  To her, it seemed incomprehensible that such a thing as queerness could have an influence on the cherished memories of her childhood (she did not say this in so many words, but the insinuation was clear).  In a world in which heterosexuality is still the privileged norm, and even more so in the case of Disney, queer viewers have to find new and challenging ways to engage with the popular culture that surrounds them.

Of course, Disney has not remained unaware of the fact that their villains have fan followings of their own, as the upcoming Maleficent film, as well as rumored projects about a Cruella de Vil and a wicked stepmother film, attest.  One can but hope that these films will continue the proud Disney tradition of making villains that are just as fascinating, if not more so, than their heroic counterparts.  And it can be equally hoped that they offer up similar, and perhaps even more poignant, queer pleasures.

What We Mean When We Ask “Are You SURE You’re Gay?”

We’ve all either heard or it said it.  Upon hearing that our gay friend doesn’t like musicals, or has never seen The Golden Girls, or doesn’t like and/or has not heard of Judy Garland, we inevitably ask that unfortunate person, “are you sure you’re gay?”  Now, most of us probably say this in good fun, and most of us are guilty of it (even as we pretend outrage when someone else says it), but the important question is, what do we mean when we ask it?  (Let me be clear at the outset that this post will mainly deal with gay men, as it is that experiential position with which I am most familiar.  I welcome gay women to share their experiences in the comments section).

As with any expression that gets bandied about, it raises a host of questions that have multiplicitous and often contradictory answers.  The simplest answer is this:  when we ask someone if they are sure they are gay, what we are really asking is whether they have been adopted into or trained in the ways of gay culture.  Not whether they, in fact, desire and have sex with men, but whether they have, as it were, learned what it means to be gay, i.e. learned the ropes of what constitutes the gay way of life.

As numerous scholars—including such queer theory luminaries as David Halperin, Alexander Doty, Steven Cohan, and Brett Farmer—have observed, gay men, as a result of their marginal place in 20th (and, to a lesser extent, 21st) Century culture, have developed strategies for appropriating straight mass culture in ways that make it meaningful for them.  These have, typically, included such “gay” staples as Judy Garland and her films, the Hollywood and Broadway musicals, glamorous female stars like Dietrich, Crawford, and Davis (if you don’t know their first names, you might not be, ahem, gay), and female-centered television series such as The Golden Girls and Designing Women.  Though obviously and primarily intended for straight audiences, these texts and personas have become objects of gay male worship, to the extent that liking them has come to be equated with being gay, or at least to having a gay sensibility (after all, there’s no law stating that a perfectly heterosexual man can’t love Judy or Dorothy or Bette as much as a gay man).

“Gay” has, however, come to assume an ever-increasing number of cultural functions and desires, including fashion, design, and all things tasteful.  Again, part of the reason may be that these professions were often relegated—and by this I mean the dominant, patriarchal culture saw it as such—to women or those who, because of their gender performance (not, necessarily, their object choice) failed to live up to the masculine standard.  What better way to make one’s way in a patriarchal/homophobic world than to master those arts that have been denigrated as beneath the notice of the masculinist dominant order?

Of course, all of this has begun to change, as gay men have become increasingly visible and increasingly mainstreamed.  There is a persistent denial of “gayness” within gay male culture, which usually translates, in the world of online dating at least, into:  “Masculine guy here.  No fems or queens.”  Read:  DON’T REALLY BE GAY, ‘CAUSE I’M NOT THAT, DUDE.  I MAY DIG OTHER GUYS, BUT I’M A REAL MAN, NOT A PUSSY FAG.  As has happened numerous times in the past (as David Halperin notes, this was a common sentiment among young gay men in the 1980s), there is a persistent disavowal of femininity in the gay male community, and that usually includes those trappings of gay life that have, for better or worse, usually served as identifiers and signifiers of precisely that collective cultural identity.

All of this is not to suggest that gay men have to do these things.  It is merely to point out that it is and has been a strong current in gay male culture for most of the 20th and, for some, the 21st.  And, more importantly, that we should not forget and should definitely not condemn this way of life as being somehow abhorrent.  Hard as it may be for these “straight acting gays” (and I hope my loathing of that term shines through the quotation marks) to comprehend, there are still those of us who like to sing along to showtunes, worship the ground that Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joan Crawford walk on, and even enjoy Glee and The Golden Girls.  And, believe it or not, some of us also enjoy typically “masculine” pursuits as well.  Hell, some of us even like sports and, gasp, even play them.  And all while singing a line from Chicago and thinking about our nice outfit that we’re going to wear to the theatre, too.

Thus, although it may be offensive/irritating when people ask the pointed question “Are you sure you’re gay?” in many ways the question captures the complexities of contemporary gay identity.  This is not to suggest that gay male subjectivity has not always been complex and contradictory; it is to suggest, as David Halperin does in his recent book How to Be Gay, that there is a cultural initiation.  Perhaps we—and by “we” I mean straight, gay, queer, and everyone else—would be better off accepting the multiplicity and the sheer diversity of lived gay male experience.  Or, at the very least, we should be a little more self-reflexive about what we mean when we ask that most dangerous and irritating (and, let’s face it, most gay) of questions.

On Steve Grand and Rural Gay Life

Upon a recent watching of the video for YouTube/country/gay sensation Steve Grand’s “All American Boy,” I was immediately struck by how many chords the video struck with me and, I venture to guess, for many other queers who grew up in a small town or in a rural area.  For better or worse, for many rural/small town queers of my generation (and, I suspect, for the one after me and most certainly for the ones before), falling in love with the straight boy (or boys) was an inevitability, since that was largely what surrounded us.  Whether we like to admit it or not, for many LGBT youth growing up in the small towns and rural communities that comprise so many parts of our country, being the only LGBT person in town is an inevitable part of life.  And so is falling in love with a straight man.

I was therefore especially struck by Bryan Lowder’s commentary for Slate that the video, rather than capturing a segment of rural queer life, instead argues that it is ” like something out of a homo smut story from before Stonewall.”  Perhaps for urban queers living in large cities, such might be the case, as big cities tend to be the place where queers of every variety can find a welcoming community of others like us.  But for many of those who still live in the country, or who live in small towns, that is very likely not going to happen.

What is perhaps most troubling about Lowder’s dismissal of the video, however, is that it neglects the powerful affect that the video engenders in those whose own life experience closely matches that presented in the video.  There is a rawness and a pain to Grand’s lyrics, and to the narrative of the video itself, that captures the emotions that those of us who grew up in a rural area (such as my own Appalachia) have experienced when we fall or fell helplessly, hopelessly in love with that which we know we cannot/could not have.  I know that this treads dangerously close to the self-destructive and self-hating gay stereotype that has been so thoroughly dismissed and disavowed by the mainstream gay movement (“Oh no, we are good homos who don’t lust after straight men”).  But, whether we like it or not, that stereotype has some truth to it, especially for those who don’t have the advantage of growing up in a community of queers where the odds of finding someone who is of your same sexual orientation are substantially greater.  The fact that Lowder, and no doubt others like him, fail to see this fact suggests more about their lack of knowledge about the enormous segment of the LGBT population that lives outside the mainstream than it does about the video’s failings.

All of this is not to suggest that the video is perfect; far from it.  It still panders to many of the gay stereotypes that continue to shape public perception of gay male life.  Most notably, the boys in the video are all model-perfect, including Grand himself.  However, what it does do is portray a little slice of gay life that, for better or worse, hasn’t really changed that much since Stonewall, at least for those of us living outside of the gay, urban mainstream.  Although the video may not be revolutionary, as Lowder laments at the end of his review, it is nevertheless a noteworthy contribution to the broader public perception of the pain and the loneliness that many gay men still face as they struggle with their emotions and with their identities.

If you want to see the video, you can find it here.