Posts Tagged ‘gay’


Hello Campers! I’m continuing to develop my thoughts on that thorny topic of  sporno, anti-homophobia and metrosexual-machismo. While I do so I thought I’d show you an apt illustration of the theme.

Last week a professional  footballer came out as gay! Oh. Em. Gee. But before anyone could get the babycham out it was also revealed that he was giving up professional football. According to the Graun,

‘The former Columbus Crew and USA winger Robbie Rogers has announced that he is gay, and that he has decided to “step away” from his career as a professional footballer.’

So, although on  twitter Robbie said he was touched by how supportive everyone was to this ‘news’, and ‘gay academic’ Mark McCormack fitted this event into his thesis about ‘declining homophobia’ especially in sport, I was not so jubilant. It seems a shame to me that a young man coming out does so just as he is leaving the career for which he is well known. He’s not exactly becoming an ‘ambassador’ for gay and bisexual players by putting his boots on the shelf. I’m not blaming him. I believe that football, by its very sweaty, physical, passionate, sexy nature is already ‘well gay’. And until the ‘beautiful game’ ‘fesses up to that fact, out gay or bi players will be few and far between. But before I get down and dirty and grapple with this complex subject, I want to point out something else about Rogers’ announcement that I think is worth a mention.

Apparently,  ‘Rogers is starting a new position with Men’s Health Magazine  in the UK and he is also part of the ownership group for the clothing company Halsey.’ So the side of himself that he is finally openly celebrating is not necessarily his gayness, but rather his metrosexuality!  From what I can see, football is as conflicted about this contemporary tarty display that its stars like to indulge in as it is about sex itself.  Taking your kit off with your  mates and posing for Gay Times is all very well, but if you are actually… you know….gay or bi, it makes the whole exercise a little bit more threatening and destabilises the ‘macho’, ‘heterosexual’, camaraderie of most sports teams.

I am glad Rogers is now free to be himself. But that self, and the culture he inhabits, is a little bit more nuanced than most people will have us believe.


You could argue that the spray-tanned, big pec-ed narcissism of the men contestants on Take Me Out was ‘well gay’ already, whatever their orientation. But just to hammer the metrotastic nature of the programme home, Danish TV have commissioned a ‘gay’ version. Will it seem any different from its heterosexual counterpart? I doubt it.

But I applaud this move by the forward-thinking Danes. And I hope some of the more heteronormative, metro-denying  dating and reality  shows such as Dating In The Dark, Geordie Shore and Sing Date follow suit soon.


h/t @antoineJarvis

UPDATE: apparently The Spectator got it wrong and Nero has NOT been nominated for what they call ‘bigot of the year’. I am leaving this up though as others have called him a homophobe (and me). And as I don’t trust Stonewall!

According to The Spectator, Stonewall have nominated Milo Yiannopoulus, who tweets as  @Nero, as ‘homophobe of the year 2012’. Apart from the questionable ethics and purpose of holding such a competition in the first place, I think their nomination is stupid and actually pretty cruel.

Sharp witted readers will remember that I have criticised Nero in the past, for his slag-off of Johann Hari‘s adventures as a porn writer. 50 Shades of Gay might not have been the bonkbuster of the year, but I support people’s right to express their sexualities and opinions. Even Johann the Librarian.

And that is why I am defending Milos now. He is openly homosexual, and openly opinionated for example against the principles and practicalities of gay marriage. Stonewall’s conformist gay politics mean that to challenge the sanctity of gay marriage is to be homophobic, even if, as Milos is, you are gay yourself.

This is just replacing one fault, one wrong, with another! Picking on individuals who disagree with you, who live their lives in a way you don’t endorse, in a way you don’t understand, is what ‘anti gay’ ‘bigots’ do!

As gay academic Mark Mccormack has written, now that LGBT sexualities are more normalised in our society, the stigma has shifted. Being labelled ‘homophobic’ is actually as socially unacceptable as being homosexual was only decades ago. And adding to that stigma with ‘homophobe of the year’ competitions may not be such a cool move.

There are also issues here around  freedom of expression. Writing in the Guardian recently Suzanne Moore pointed out:

‘The terms “misogyny”, “anti-semitism” and “homophobia” may be useful but too often are used to shut down rather than open up online debate. This is why free speech is so difficult. ‘

So Stonewall’s nomination of a gay man who has spoken out against gay marriage as ‘homophobe of the year’ could be seen as an attempt to devalue that position, and to shut up people who hold it. Gay, straight whatever.

But the fact Milos identifies as gay/homosexual himself makes this a particularly sour tale. To start making examples of ‘your own’ and attempting to shame them in public seems pretty low.

Some gays oppose gay marriage, Stonewall. Get Over It.

You can’t have failed to have heard the news. Obama, who originally took a firm stance against gay marriage, preferring the traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman, has done a U-turn. His recent statement in favour of equal marriage has sent teh gayz into spasms of emotion similar to a reanactment of Torch Song Trilogy.

Andrew Sullivan, who has also done some U-turns in his life, as he used to be a Republican but now is all over poor Barack, said, choking back the tears:

‘I do not know how orchestrated this was; and I do not know how calculated it is. What I know is that, absorbing the news, I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for a while, didn’t know what to write, and,… there are tears in my eyes.

So let me simply say: I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side. I think of Maurice Sendak, who just died, whose decades-long relationship was never given the respect it deserved. I think of the centuries and decades in which gay people found it impossible to believe that marriage and inclusion in their own families was possible for them, so crushed were they by the weight of social and religious pressure. I think of all those in the plague years shut out of hospital rooms, thrown out of apartments, written out of wills, treated like human garbage because they loved another human being. I think of Frank Kameny. I think of the gay parents who now feel their president is behind their sacrifices and their love for their children.’

I think the ‘gay lobby’ and their media supporters have been very clever here. It looks to me as if Obama didn’t have much choice. The tide of opinion was growing in favour of gay marriage. To continue to oppose it would have lost him votes. But his basic political manoeuvre has been adopted and appropriated and turned into a huge victory for the gay rights lobby.

Not only that, they have transformed Obama from a quite cautious, traditional family man into ‘THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT’! The photo of him on the Newsweek cover with a rainbow halo is nothing if not striking, and… gay. The conflict with Obama has been buried in a pile of rainbow dust and everyone is happy…and gay.

But I notice a few problems with this gay rhetoric. One of course is that speeches such as Andrew Sullivan’s above privilege ‘gay’ people and the ‘gay’ identity over all other minority gender and sexuality identities. If you are bisexual, or trans, where do you fit in to this big gay festival? Trans people’s rights are not prioritised in America. Murders and violence against trans people happen at a far higher rate than the ‘gays’ would care to mention. And some gay people are as transphobic – and biphobic – as any straight ‘homophobe’.

The second thing I notice is Sullivan, and Newsweek, are tying the knot with Obama in a quite sickly way. It is as if ‘gay’ politics are the only politics in the world. What about Obama’s healthcare policies? What about foreign policy? That is all swept aside for the Big Issue – gay marriage. The way Sullivan suddenly decides he is part of Obama’s ‘family’ is comical. As if now things such as ethnicity and racism play no part in American society (or indeed in gay politics which can be racist). They are all one big happy family, bro!

Indeed racial analogies have been used by gays in their campaigns for gay marriage a lot. The ‘back seat on the bus’ metaphor has been doing the rounds for a while, as has the references to ‘apartheid’. (click on image to enlarge)

I think it’s pretty grim to be honest. And Obama may well be feeling a bit pressured by this group of white, middle class liberals (the gays and their allies), to perform to their tune. When he also has to woo black voters, republican voters, and… yes, homophobic voters! As I have said before the right have caricatured Obama as the metrosexual president and this latest move will have only made matters worse from their point of view. I would not want to be in Obama’s rainbow coloured shoes just now.

One person who is keeping rather quiet about this turn of events is [redacted]. He has been vocal against gay marriage, though he seems to have softened a bit recently (not to the extent of Obama though). Back in 2008 [redacted] suggested that the gay marriage campaigns in America were ‘on the rocks’ so it could be that he just doesn’t want to admit that he has been proven wrong. Or at least that times have changed. Also there are some ‘gay politics’ going on in the UK that even I don’t understand. Maybe [redacted] has some juggling to do as well as Obama.

Me, I don’t welcome the news from the States. But I am not going to lose sleep over it either. I would celebrate with my ‘bros’ if Obama closed Guantanamo like he said he would. But I don’t think I have Andrew Sullivan or many liberal white gays on my side there.

This photo has gone viral recently. It was first posted on a ‘Gay Marines’ FB page and has since been sent round the internet, with the tagline ‘Gay Marine Comes Home’.

You know me. I am an out and proud ‘homophile’. I am bordering on being a homo myself.  My blog archives are full of pictures of men in clinches, from the sacred to the profane. But when I saw this image I was caught short. I will admit it to you, Roland. I felt a bit queasy. And I think you will understand why.

The photograph is a graphic illustration of the end of DADT, the edict that kept gay, lesbian AND BISEXUAL army personnel from being open about their sexuality. In some ways, the military was, until very recently, the last bastion of ‘pre-gay’ times. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been the unspoken motto of men who have sex with men for eons. And now it is over.

But it is not just the repression of homosexuality that is over here. I fear some other things may be on their way out too. What about all those soldiers ‘acting gay’ on video? Will they be doing that so much, when their gay colleagues are on site? Or, a story you know intimately, those plucky GIS who went gay for pay a few years back. Would that happen when being gay in the army is normalised?

I know that you and your ‘accomplice’ in homo-anthropology Steven Zeeland, have had a range of feelings about the ‘coming home’ of gayness in the military. In Male Impersonators and Barrack Buddies, you both seemed to be opposed to DADT, even though you were nostalgic for a time when homosexuality was even more hidden than it was in the army in the 1990s. You of all people are aware of the complexities and contradictions here. And you, of all people, would be unlikely to begrudge a passionate embrace between a marine and his lover, especially if it is caught on camera.

But something is well and truly lost isn’t it?

Perhaps our only consolation is that in coming home, the gay identity is also quickening its own demise. You have predicted we are nearing the end of gay. Judging by the defensive reactions mainly gay men give to me when I even dare to critique their precious identity position, I am inclined to think you are right.

A Gay Marine Comes Home. We know it’s over, Roland.

It’s over.

P.s. I am going to be honest with you, one of the things that made me feel a bit ‘queasy’ was the gender dynamics of the photo. The marine, supposedly one of those macho masculine types, has a garland round his neck and is being lifted off the floor by his big strong civilian boyfriend (who he termes ‘the giant’ on his facebook page). But I am an old-fashioned girl.

This week so far has been all about the men. For once. So I thought I’d share some links to recent articles that examine men and masculinity, not only through the judgemental lens of feminism.

I was delighted to see my favourite writer on men had an article in this week’s Guardian (UK newspaper). He put forward an admirable defence of metrosexual men . The comments below the line, though often quite critical of his ideas, are a good read. And they show to me how a discussion about masculinity is much better quality when it is inspired by a piece of writing by someone who knows what he is talking about (and doesn’t hate men)!

I was also pleased to see the great blog The Spanish Intermission feature a critique of Mark Simpson’s Graun article. Note how he describes me as a ‘pedantic anti-feminist battleship’! I am glad somebody has acknowledged my role in spreading the word about metrosexuality in general, and Simpson’s theories in particular.

Another story that caught my eye this week related to a TV documentary about homosexual men in football. There are still no ‘out’ gay players in British professional football and the reasons for this are complex. Again this is an example of how a sensitive and knowledgeable piece of writing about men and masculinity leads to some intelligent comments BTL.

Then there was the Uni Lads fiasco. A British ‘student’ website sent ripples through the feminist blogosphere when it published some very horrible articles making jokes about rape, disability and men’s sex lives. Of course, the feminasties only focused on the rape jokes. The site took down all its recent content, including some adverts for t-shirts with ‘pro-rape’ slogans on.

But in amongst all the howling and wailing, I noticed a very well argued piece (not about the Uni Lads thing just coincidentally) that criticised the concept of rape culture. It referenced my piece from the Good Men Project on the subject.

All in all, a pretty good week for teh menz!

Cynthia Nixon, who I last week defended for stating her sexuality is her ‘choice’, has gone back on her word.

After a huge amount of hostility and pressure from gay activists and gay media outlets I might add.

Her revised statement reads as follows:

“My recent comments in The New York Times were about me and my personal story of being gay. I believe we all have different ways we came to the gay community and we can’t and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering. However, to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify:

“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.

“As I said in the Times and will say again here, I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.

“Our community is not a monolith, thank goodness, any more than America itself is. I look forward to and will continue to work toward the day when America recognizes all of us as full and equal citizens.”

Whilst I am gutted to say the least she felt the need to revert to the popular and pernicious ‘born this way’ stance, I do have some sympathy for the Sex in The City actress.

The current atmosphere amongst gay rights groups means that bisexual people are treated as if they are either gay, straight or lying. In comparison to the pure states of Gayness and Lesbianism, bisexuality is treated as the poor, and unwelcome relation.

Note Nixon used the word ‘legal’ in her statement above. She may have actually been avoiding legal action here, I wouldn’t put it past some gayist organisations to try and make out that claiming sexuality is a choice is against the law. She also is an actress, and theatre and Hollywood I expect are pretty conservative when it comes to sexuality. She may have been advised to couch her feelings in safer terms to avoid being penalised in her acting career.

The UK Daily Mail joined in the gloating about her change of tack, saying that bisexuality is a fact. Well, yes. But it is a fact we do have some agency over in our lives. Who we have sex with is still up to us as individuals.

The Advocate online magazine illustrated their update with a photo of Nixon bald, when she had cancer treatment. I can’t help but feel they were aiming to humiliate her just a little.

I still defend Cynthia Nixon but I am deeply saddened that she felt she had to go against her own instincts about her own sexuality to please the gay establishment.

‘Interest in men is permitted, indeed encouraged, but must always be expressed through the game’.  (Simpson, 1994:72)

The Guardian has reported  the outpouring of love for the lovely Thierry Henri, on his triumphant return to Arsenal. Fans have described their ardour as ‘going gay for Henri’.

The author, Paul Flynn, writes:

‘Maybe I was taking it too literally but the forcefulness of the collective thinking, that no greater compliment could be bestowed on a man than “going gay” for him, felt brand new. I’m not sure how as a gay man you are supposed to react to this outpouring of straight male affection but you would have to look very hard to be offended by it. Personally I found it all simmering with an appealing new texture for the culture around soccer.

The relationship between gay men and football has been a long-standing stumbling block in Britain’s stealthy movement towards liberalisation. When Elton John took over as shareholder of his beloved Watford FC in the 80s he would routinely be comically abused from the terraces, name-calling he took in open, manful good humour. Graeme Le Saux, Freddie Ljungberg and numerous other Premier League stars have since been dealt weekly catcalls speculating on their sexuality. Justin Fashanu‘s heartbreaking early-90s coming out and subsequent suicide has cast a long shadow across the national game.

Yet perhaps there is a change afoot, led by the fans and one that the establishment would be wise to acknowledge. When I interviewed David Beckham for the cover story of the gay magazine Attitude in 2001, at the peak of his Man Utd tenure, he conceded that sooner or later the fractious relationship between the football establishment and homosexuality would have to be broken down. It was just a matter of time. His astute PR move of posing for the cover was a start, at least. He later appeared at the London nightclub G.A.Y, maximising his obvious gay appeal, and was greeted by 2,000 screaming gay fans who had composed their own football-ish chant by way of greeting: “Ditch the bitch, ditch the bitch, ditch the bitch and make the switch!” Straight men no longer had the monopoly on the brutal wit of stadium sloganeering.’

I think Flynn makes some good points. As Mark Simpson has told us a few times now, David Beckham’s courtship of his gay fans has had some impact on the ‘beautiful game’ and its tradition of homophobia and homoanxiety.

However there are different ways of looking at this situation. The author of this article seems to agree with academic Eric Anderson , who writes about ‘declining homophobia’ in arenas such as sports in the context of ‘softening masculinity’. According to Anderson we live in a more tolerant world now, so men do not feel so uptight about saying they are ‘gay for Thierry Henri’.

Mark Simpson sees it another way. In his book, Male Impersonators (1994) he wrote a brilliant chapter called The Anus And Its Goalposts. Basically, Simpson tells us, the homosexual conflicts inherent in football, from the ‘insertion’ of the ball into the net in goals, to male fans hugging each other on the terraces, to violence on and off the pitch, all mean that football itself is well gay.

‘Jones/Gascgoine’s ‘embrace’ ‘expresses, through the grotesque parody of the greatest tenderness between men, the greatest hate. Jones’ face, a portrait of malice, faces away from Gascgoine, but his hand conveys its message, anonymous-and-yet-personal: the very essence of masculine violence. Here there is no fraternity, no equality, this is a triumphal depiction of domination. Vinny Jones, foootball’s ‘Hard Man’, the crew-cut castrator, holds cry-baby Gascgoine’s soft manhood in his hod carrier’s hand. In this tableau from a male morality play, there can be no mistaking the import: in hetero-speak Jones is the ‘fucker’, Gascgoine the ‘fucked’. (Simpson 1994:70).

I of course, agree with Simpson. I think if fans are going gay for Henri, they are only catching up with the game itself and admitting to a small degree, its latent gayness.

I also agree with Simpson that rather than ‘tolerance’ of gay people being a key factor in the ‘gay for Henri’ phenomenon, the main character in this drama is metrosexuality. It is not just gay fans who have ogled Beckham in his undercrackers. And, as Simpson has said, the reason men are more accepting of homosexuality, is because they themselves display homosexual traits such as narcissism more and more these days.

Are you gay for Thierry? I certainly am. But I am not quite as gay as football. And I am not quite as metrosexual as its players and fans.

h/t @How_Upsetting

This week is ‘anti-homophobic bullying week’, according to everyone’s favourite Gay charity, Stonewall.

Just as the feminists have been focusing on ‘woman-hating’ language lately, so the Gay activists are telling everyone to stop using nasty words against gays.

The suggestions for the week from Stonewall include:


Schools: Make a personal pledge not to use homophobic language, and encourage others to sign up too. See how many signatures you can get over the course of Anti-Bullying Week. You might want to include the following points:

  • As a community, you will not use or tolerate homophobic language of any kind, including:
  • Any use of the word ‘gay’ to describe things that are negative or inferior, for example in phrases like ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘ you’re so gay’
  • Other insulting homophobic words and remarks designed to hurt others, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or straight

At Work: Challenge yourself and colleagues to go without your morning coffee during Anti Bullying week and donate the money you save to Stonewall!


Apart from the fact that the main message from Stonewall seems to be: you can tackle homophobic bullying by giving money to Stonewall! I have a few problems with this campaign.

My first problem relates to my criticisms of the claims by ‘female columnists’ that woman-hating language is a specific kind of ‘hate speech’. Stonewall, like the feminists, are suggesting gay people are particularly victimised, with the use of ‘abusive’ language against them. Whereas I think language is used to attack people in all sorts of different ways, and claiming special victim status is wrong.

My second problem with the campaign is its focus on the word ‘gay’ as an insult, meaning ‘naff’ or ‘lame’. As Brendan O’Neill has explained in the Telegraph, it is gay people themselves who have celebrated and reinforced the naffness of gay culture:

‘But is it really such a mystery as to why the word gay has come to mean rubbish? It seems obvious to me. It is because gay culture is quite knowingly and resolutely lame. I don’t mean culture that happens to be produced by homosexuals, which includes some of the greatest art in history. No, I mean the stuff that passes for mainstream “gay culture”, foisted upon us by gay TV producers, filmmakers and magazine publishers, which is almost always shallow and camp and kitsch. That is, crap. If young people associate “gay” with “rubbish”, then they’re more perceptive than we give them credit for – they have twigged that, sadly, what is these days packaged up us as “gay culture” is almost always patronising pap.’

O’Neill is not the first to link ‘gay’ with ‘naff’. In the blurb for his 1996 collection (as editor) Anti Gay, Mark Simpson asked:

Have you ever wondered (to yourself, in private)… Why most gay culture these days is mediocre trash? Why so many lesbians have such a problem with long hair and dainty footwear? Why being gay is like being a member of a religious cult, except not so open minded?

So maybe kids, and it is mainly young people using the term ‘gay’ like this, who have grown up with Graham Norton and Gay Pride and Alan Carr, are just processing where gay culture is at, and associating it accurately with all things ‘rubbish’.

My final criticism of Stonewall’s campaign is the most important I think. The fact is language changes and evolves over time. So trying to police people’s use of words is at best futile, and at worst proscriptive.

Take the word ‘gaylord’ for example. It used to mean ‘high spirited’ .

‘From an English surname which was derived from Old French gaillard “high-spirited, boistrous”. This name was rarely used after the mid-20th century, when the word gay acquired the slang meaning “homosexual”.’

Again, Mark Simpson, my favourite Gaylord, has something to say about ‘Gay’ and how it is actually probably on its way out as a word that refers to a specific sexual identity.

‘ The Gays, for all their denial, know better than anyone what metrosexuality means. The beginning of the end of the gay identity. Straight men no longer need to project their own ‘gayness’ into gay bodies. They want it for their own, thank you very much. Gays no longer have to be gay for straights – so that straights can be straight. And however much gays may have reclaimed the dustbin identity of homosexual-queer-gay and fashioned something wonderful out of it, in the end it has outlived its point.’

So Stonewall’s campaign against homophobic bullying, is, in many ways, really just a desperate attempt to hold onto the ‘gay’ identity. And one way to do this is to hold onto the significance of ‘homophobia’ in our society. The two are interdependent.

Some people use the word ‘gay’ to mean naff. Get over it.

Talking of bisexual men, and their erasure in our culture, which we were, here we go again.

Law and Sexuality is a brilliant blog by Chris, who writes on a wide range of subjects around sexuality, society and the law. I have an enormous amount of respect for him. But sometimes I pull him up on his use of the term ‘Gay’ as a catch-all phrase which in reality can mean anything from gay men, to LGBTQ people, to ‘lame’.

Today was no exception when I noticed Chris reporting on the Liberal Democrat Conference discussions about the ‘Gay Blood Ban’. Chris wrote:

‘Interesting piece on Pink News this evening reporting on a vote at the Liberal Democrat Conference, taking the recent gay blood ban repeal further.  Pink News reports that earlier this month, ministers announced that the lifetime ban would be scrapped and gay and bisexual men would be permitted to donate blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months.  According to Pink News, members at the party’s conference in Birmingham agreed that the new 12-month deferral period is “a ban by any other name”. Read the full story here.’

So the blood ban does not just affect gay men, but gay and bisexual men. Indeed, I expect it is aimed at any men who have sex with men. So the label ‘gay’ not only erases bisexual men from discourse, it also serves to maybe enable men who have sex with men, but do not identify as ‘gay’, or even ‘bisexual’, to give blood when they may be engaging in risky sex, but not actually acknowledging it. The term ‘men who have sex with men’ is well established amongst health organisations, for the very reason that it allows men to acknowledge their behaviour without having to give themselves a sexual identity label.

I think Pink News and other gay rights organisations are using this issue as yet another example of how ‘gays’ are discriminated against, without actually thinking about the wider social and health issues in the case.

Which, in my view, is Gay.



This comment from Impeus (see below the line) suggests that the Blood Donor org. is using ‘men who have sex with men’ and it is everyone else referring to ‘gay’ men:

‘I believe the wording in the current questions asked of potential blood donors is specifically inclusive, asking if you are a man who has had sex with another man, or if you are a woman who has had sex with a man who may have had sex with another man. It’s the media and other commentators (including myself if I’m honest) calling it gay blood, not the, um, blood people, whatever they are called!’