Monday, November 13, 2006

I saw this video posted on a couple blogs recently. It makes me cringe. Ok maybe I am being a little thin skinned but this guy (who I have much respect for don't get me wrong there, he's been an inspiration to thousands) put on one of the most offensive performances I have ever seen, I couldn't watch the whole thing. I will tell you why.
It is "performances" such as this which serve to stereotype gay men. Notice the audiences reaction to Richard, they are certainly not laughing with him, but rather at him. His flamboyancy and sexual innuendos in this clip serve to feed the general public's view of gay men as Queeny sex starved little deviants after any penis which comes their way. Most of us do not resemble the persona created here (notice I use the word most, I have certainly encountered men who would make Richard look like John Wayne), we are your brothers, fathers, uncles & cousins no more visually or audibly "detectable" than if we were , let's say, an atheist.
That is the key word, detectable. As long as we are perceived to be "detectable" and "identifiable" and of course always good for an uncomfortable laugh we will lose rather than gain in our constant struggle to be recognized as people first and most importantly.
I never had any Gay (well that I was aware of) friends until after my separation at age 27. My father was gay, but he passed away when I was 15 and the subject never came up between us (sadly). I will tell you this, I had the perception mentioned above, so did my wife, and family. I was afraid to eat in a restaurant where the clientele and staff appeared to be gay because I feared I could contract Aids somehow (don't laugh, I've met others who had the same ridiculously ignorant mindset which can't be appreciated until you have been there). I also envisioned Gay men to be completely detectable and flamboyant (my inner struggle with my own sexuality was nearly completely suppressed at that point, and not having anyone to discuss it with or to help me understand what the hell was going on inside my head didn't help)
For those out there who have not lived in "that world" (what I mean to say is a world where the only openly homosexual males you are exposed to are on television or in the media), maybe you can't appreciate (fully) just how much ignorance exists out there and how much Richard's little performance serves to feed it. ok I'm done, end.of.rant.
I might add that I had a similar reaction to the film The Bird Cage.
anyway, here is :
Round 2 of
Middle Eastern Monday
Pick your favorite Persian

Don't forget to vote for one of the following :)




and isn't she uber Hawt?

S1 153
Blogger Knottyboy said...
God for a moment there I thought I was back in Ankara. :) The men in Turkey were a puzzlement. So affectionate with eachother that I almost needed a cold shower at times. And the ever present press of religion squashing the lives of the women. It was hard for me to balance.


Blogger Tay Hota said...
love that skit, and birdcage too... I see your point but also think one of the best ways to expand acceptance is to show that we are visible, prsent, and have a sense of humor about it all.... If we can't laugh at ourselves we won't get anywhere... I think Elton's recent comments about religion are a good example. He's drawing a line that's sure to be crossed... Personally, I'm muchmore comfortable... Laughing together is a start... And I wouldn't drink from the same glass as my parenbts, ewww.... hehe...

Blogger vuboq said...

with #5 being second.

Happy Monday!

Blogger Doug said...
Did you see the end of the Birdcage? The flamboyant gay men took a risk and saved the bigoted senator from political ruin. The "evil" gay people turned out to be good-natured, generous, decent people. Imagine that.

Blogger daveincleveland said...
i am just beginning to find the gay world and what is in it, and for the most part and have run accross the typical stereotype....actually finding people i know that i had no idea....and for the vote....#1 all the way........cutie.......
have a great day buddy....:)

Blogger potusol said...
I'm voting for #2 (big surprise).

My views on "acceptable" behavior changed considerably after working in gay bars for over 5 years. There are a lot of things gay men do that I don't agree with or like. But I find as I grow older these things matter less and less. What matters to me now is character and integrity. Being butch or manly guarantees neither.

Blogger Mark said...

Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...
#2 as well...

Blogger Donald said...
# 2 gets my vote

Blogger john said...
I also use to have that perception of gay men--the flamboyancy and queeny perception.
My first gay friend proved me wrong. He was athletic and well spoken. He wasn't loud or outrageous, but blended in with what society has deemed normal male behavior.
I, like you, sometimes cringe at flamboyant behavior. But at the same time, I've come to realize that it's just part of someone's expression. And if they want to be that way, then so be it. Personally I don't like being around it, because like you, I think that it may feed into the stereo-type.

Blogger Doghigh said...
Hi babe,

FirstI want you to know that I respect your viewpoint. I grew up in the environment you described and most of my family still lives in that environment. I've been in NYC for a long time so I tend to forget until I go back for visits but it's never hard to recall to the surface.

Having said that I have a different take than you.

I don't believe that we should have to stifle a segment of our community just to gain "acceptance" or that we should focus on achieving conformity with a heterosexual society so that they will look at us as worthy of being considered their equals. To me that is an unacceptable price to pay for equality.

IMHO, our fight is not to be accepted by the general heterosexual public but to get them to acknowledge that we have rights that need to be acknowledged regardless of how they "feel" about homosexuals or our perceived "lifestyle".

Being gay isn't new...hell being flamboyant isn't new. And in the last 20 years we've had examples from every manner of life publicly come out of the closet. Baseball players, football players, politicians, actors, musicians, writers, activists, dancers, community leaders, religious leaders, doctors...the list goes on and on. All of these people have varying degrees of mannerisms, behaviours and characteristics.

If someone is going to STILL define an entire population of people based on the example of one person alone then nothing will ever open their eyes.

I understand what is bothering you but at the same time I feel that the real problem is not in Richard's behaviour but in the way that the heterosexual public at large interprets that behaviour.

Now my rant is done ;-) The soapbox is free...

PS - and #3 has amazing eyes, eyelashes and lips so he gets my vote!

Blogger jay lassiter said...
i vote for whichever one has the biggest dick.
guess that makes me a "sizequeen"

Blogger liquid said...
I understand your apprehension about that kind of over the top, feminine behavior. I used to feel the same way. But I would submit that only when we get past whether or not someone is "identifiable" or not, and replace it with a mainstream acceptance of "there's a whole bunch of different kinds of people out there, and that's perfectly ok, will the gay community find real acceptance. It's simply not enough to 'just blend in' if it's not in yopur nature to do so.

Blogger TigerYogi said...
I agree, #2 as well.

Although their attractiveness factor might all go up if they got some decent haircuts!

Poor Richard Simmons. I honestly think that he does it on purpose though to help an otherwise flagging career....

Blogger Ryan Charisma said...
I choose #2

As for the whole queenie thing. Although I understand what you're saying. It sounds like internalized homophobia. And that's not a good thing. You MUST remember that we wouldn't even have PRIDE if the gays, more specifically the Drag Queens didn't revolt in NYC at Stonewall. All the gays, even the 'straight acting' as I'm sure you've heard that term. (And don't get me going on that as there's nothing straight about a dick in your mouth.) So you should embrace the 'queenies' although sometimes they are a mess. Sometimes straight people are a mess too. Usually I find. So when you go to buy your chosen hair product, eat that light lunch to watch the figure, or even buy that shirt that is somewhat snug around your pecs - aren't we all being a little bit queenie?
And that's a good thing. Visibility is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Blogger Jeepy said...
I think Richard did that show since his "Deal A Meal" was a flop!

Definately number 1, number 2 is a close second, but I think its the musterious eyes of number 1 that did it for me. And MAMMA, number 6, well words cant explain!

Blogger Ur-spo said...
dear me, I guess I'll pick the fellow with the slight smile; that always works for me, a smile!

Blogger Polt said...
Firstly, wasn't sure if I should vote for 1 or 2...but one has a kinda crazy intense stare, so I'll go with two.

Secondly, as for the clip I was actually laughing along with it, and I don't, as a rule, like that show.

I didn't find it offensive because that kind of over the top-ed ness is Simmons' schtick, and has been from the early 80's onwards. It's what he does. Now, had that been a straight man, playing a gay man, yes, THAT would have been offensive because he would have been perpetuating a stereotype. But for Simmons, that's just who he is.

And beside, hell, given the chance to lay on top of Wayne Brady for a few minutes like Simmons did, I'd act all queeny and flamboyant if that's what was required! I mean, who wouldn't want to lay on Wayne Brady??!?!?! :)


Blogger M- Filer said...
I choose #4

The clip doesn't offend me in any way. I do remember a time when it would have, and that was in my early 20's when I was just coming out. I didn't want there to be noticable differences between gays & straights.
Now I love the differences. I love stereo-typical Jews, Arabs, Tranny's, fireman, hairdressers...whatever. I also love A-Typical all of the above. Our perceptions are about "us" not "them".

Blogger The Persian said...
Wayne: Turkish men are beautiful indeed! It is rather simple to guess why men in Middle Eastern (and Southern European) countries can be so publically intimate. There is not the stigma so evident in this country, the idea they might be perceived as "too affectionate" never occurs to them, because it would be completely ridiculous in the minds of observers to consider them possibly bi or homosexual. (amusing but true!)

tay: Ok I think (possibly) you are missing the point, his behavior in that clip (and Nathan Lane's in The Bird Cage) feeds the stereotype. It is not representative of the average homosexual male who would in most cases pass them by without "detection". I realize he can be whoever he is, and has been since his early days (although somewhat less censored (the sexual references) of course these days) I don't feel comfortable when (which I get all the time) the "I would never have guessed you were gay" comment" I get more offended than anything, and this man certainly helps feed this ignorance.

on another note, why did you disable comments on your blog? I miss the interaction :(

Doug: No I haven't seen the whole film, I didn't enjoy it so much. I don't think we are perceived as Evil, so much as "deviant" & "flawed". Once again, Nathan Lane and Robin William's characters serve to feed into the stereotype.

dave: The main issue I have is that while we have a certain common bond, we are diverse and cannot be polarized by our behavior alone.

You don't think #1 has a freeky kind of look in his eyes?

Jeffy: lol, no I'm not surprised, he's adorable. I never said flamboyant gay men make me uncomfortable, the character of a person has nothing to do with behavior/mannerisms, it's what is in the heart and soul.

mark: good choice (and evidently the majority choice!)

Steve & Donald: ditto!

john: Well said, and you understand my point completely. I also agree with you, we are all individuals with our own form of expression, it just agrivates me to sit and watch Richard feeding into something we need to overcome, and that is (at risk of sounding like a broken record) "the sterotype".

doghigh: No, I agree with you, we shouldn't compromise our individual identities in the hopes of persuading the "general public" that we are "normal". What angers me is that what they perceive to be the "typical gay male behavior" couldn't be farther from the truth and that "injustice" does not sit so well with me. Richard serves to cement this ignorance further.

I very much appreciate your comment, you make many valid and thought provoking points.

Jay: Well that would be #1 (and I can't reveal how I know this to be true, he lives in an Islamic country, I wouldn't want anything to happen to him *wink*)

liquid: Thanks for stopping by, your recentish post spurred mine today (but of course you probably knew that). My main point is that yes, we are as diverse a "group" of people as exists in society as a whole (naturally) and yet are not readily perceived accordingly, more often than not fit into a stereotype perpetuated by outlandishly flamboyant characters like Richard Simmons. I'm sorry, the man's behavior in that clip offends me, specifically the constant sexual inuendos. But as I said you have a valid point, and I thank you for making it here. :)

tigeryogi: These guys are about as au-natural as they come, I find it refreshing somehow. Yes poor Richard, but in retrospect look what he has accomplished in the brief time when he was on top!

ryan: Internalized homophobia? That's interesting to say the least. I have no issue with flamboyant gay men, one of my best friends is a drag queen who I am very close to, and yes you are right on when you say these guys paved the way for so much of what we have accomplished (acceptance to a degree), however, when people like Richard Simmons go on Television and act like he did in that clip (not the flamboyancy as much as the sexual insinuations) eh..well I don't think it is a positive thing.

jeepy: I never heard of "deal a meal" hmm...Yes ok I'll admit it #1 certainly has mysterious eyes.

ur-spo: I am guessing you mean #5?

polty: It is a close call for sure. I am not so sure that Simmons doesn't embellish a bit for the attention, but yes he's always been quite colorful! :)

m-filer: yes, my choice as well, something very attractive about #4.

I love the diversity in gay men, it's wonderfully refreshing, my point was that behavior like Simmons exhibited in that clip serves to polarize us by more than just our sexual preference. The truth be told we are as diverse a group of people as exists in society as a whole, and I can't help but feel like his display does not serve to illustrate that fact.

Blogger snarl71 said...
HMMM - I vote with the majority.

As for the Richard Simmons clip - I laughed my ass off out loud...very rare thing for me to do.

I suppose stereotypes (which are often based on some level of truth - whether current or historic) can be hurtful. But for every Richard Simmons out there, you'll find a polar opposite (like that Esra football player who came out...or Doogie Hauser or countless others.

I think it's worse to be closeted and pretend to be straight than to be be openly gay and entertaining. I think the liars (and those untrue to themselves) are hurting the gay cause more by not letting people see "that type" of masculine gay guy.

I welcome all breeds of gays: the leather man, the drag queen, the flamer, the jock.

Life should be more like the Village People - but with better lyrics.

Blogger Jimmi said...
Hmmm I am thinking #1 was cute... He does border on needing some tweezers in the uni-brow area! LOL

Blogger Jimmi said...
P.S. They aren't very "hip" with the hairstyles are they? LOL I think they are sporting the 1990's surfer look. Time to pick up the pace fella's!

I love #1. His ears are cute. I could make him holler.
I understand what you're saying about Richard. I sometimes wonder if he doesn't flaunt it because it's a way to come against the shame that covered him when he was younger.

Blogger Jim said...
#4, although #6 is a close second (lol, joke). #2 looks like he's 11, no attraction.

RS just makes me laugh but I understand your comments about perpetuating stereotypes.

Blogger Scott E D said...
I agree with Ryan.

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