Opinion
ENDA demonstration in Washington, DC (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) ENDA demonstration in Washington, DC (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)  

Gays now totally boring, ENDA struggle reveals

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

Gays have become totally boring, this reporter has learned.

Although gay Americans were for decades popularly identified as daring, transgressive, flamboyant, colorful and sometimes menacing (though also intriguing) mavericks, self-styled advocates have managed to rebrand the gay community as a bland, tedious, grievance group eagerly seeking government approval.

With this week’s push for ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), another anti-business piece of legislation that allows self-identified cultural victims to sue their employers after they get fired, all the familiar annoying characters have come out of the tastefully-refurbished woodwork. These include aggrieved LGBTQIAX7@! advocacy groups as well as simpering DNC flacks talking about “marriage equality” and blaming bigoted Republicans for the fact that Chaz Bono hasn’t been elected president. Somebody’s probably on MSNBC right now still lying about proven meth dealer Matthew Shepard.

This all encourages the average beer-drinker to see gays as nothing more than loathsome liberal operatives who should be tolerated only because they’re not sure what’s in that new hate-crimes bill and nobody wants to end up with Jonathan Capehart presiding over their lethal injection.

Now, let me be clear. I love the gays. I have gay friends, gay mentors, gay acquaintances and associates. In fact, many people even assume that I am gay. Particularly women I’ve slept with.

Also old men. A lot of old men. I mean, seriously, if balding, beady-eyed middle-aged men in sweaters were hot chicks, I’d be Ashton Kutcher. I’m practically on the cover of their magazines. I can’t even walk around DuPont Circle on early autumn evenings or interact with male bank tellers without getting eyed down like a side of ribs. It’s not even flattering. I know why it happens. I only get it because I’m skinny and I look like I’d be a bottom. It’s demeaning, really.

But that brings me to my point. At least creepy old gay dudes cowering in the corners of Metro stations are still keeping things interesting. Their weird, trembling, ballpoint ink stains-on-their-buttoned-down-shirts brand of gayness is in line with the hallmarks and the tenets of the gayness that I know and love.

Not too long ago, I sat across from a quasi-famous gay writer at the chic West Hollywood lunch spot Swingers. As I probably complained about my career, he glanced around at our fellow lunch patrons, most of whom were young progressive men who met at some $1,200-a-month gym or a fundraiser for bullied teens or a nightclub with a one-word name. He put down his finger sandwich and sighed. “I don’t even know these people anymore,” he said. I understood him, and I  sympathized.

Gayness used to be pretty awesome,  according to alternative literature from the period 1954-78. Back in the day, gays were subversive adventurers, trolling the city streets at night on a lustful quest for experience and with an outlaw mentality not seen since the days of the Wild West. They were decadently-dressed sexual superheroes, daring Middle America to condemn them as they pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around to midnight screenings of great American movies like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Pink Flamingoes,” and “Mommy Dearest.” They had an ingrained creativity, a patented sense of irony. They had a brand. They had an identity.

Their artwork expressed a sensitivity and an intellectual depth unparalleled in twentieth century art. From their pens came defining statements like Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” and from their brushes oozed the emotional complexities of David Hockney.