Boy Meets Boy & Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: How Many Esses in ‘Vapid’?
A poster to the Queer Studies listserve (QSTUDY-L) writes:
“I watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and feel proud of who I am. Not in a rainbow flag, leather bar, HRC kind of way. But in an honest, simple, and humbling way. I watch Boy Meets Boy and feel ashamed to be gay.”
As far as I can tell, there’s enough gay shame currently circulating on prime-time television that we could just about send ourselves all back in time to, oh, approximately 1952.
Of the two programs, BmB has the cruelest premise of any reality show this side of Tokyo — recapitulating one of the cardinal experiences of growing up fag, i.e., chasing straight boys. Of course the great hope of the show is that poor, dumb James (is that his name?) will ultimately pick a str8 boy, otherwise where’s the Schadenfreude? And the discussions about monogamy and couplehood are so 1950s heterosexual that you wonder why we even bothered to have a sexual revolution — don’t forget the boy (supposedly straight, but I so doubt it) who got kicked off because he might have had a boyfriend elsewhere and the benighted “bisexual” whom people “outed” as though he’d gone around deliberately infecting everyone with herpes. BmB is backward and mean-spirited and schizophrenic: Even as the show falls all over itself to present an “acceptable” gay consciousness (the sincere, “nice” white boy who is searching for old-fashioned love and who rejects anything as nasty as “just” sex), it also wants gay men to do things that make them seem like clowns and caricatures (the desert square-dancing lessons, e.g., or the sitting-around-bitching-about-who’s-more-nelly scenes) and, ultimately, it wants to show the audience that gay men lose at love.
But QE is the truly shameful program, with its constant reinforcement of the idea that gay=bourgeois and that anything not expensive, not fancy, not designer, not “hot,” not cool is certainly not the province of “real” gay men. And how can you not be offended as these five Aunties sit around in a separate room after their “work” is done, sipping cocktails and cracking wise — physically and metaphorically excluded from the events (including actual relationships and real families) they’ve orchestrated? It’s a brutal illustration of the sociobiological premise that the “purpose” of gay people is to “help” heterosexuals be reproductively successful. These guys have no lives, no relationships, no context. If they were any more shallow they’d be transparent. They’re cultural Nazis bearing precisely the hegemonic agenda that has turned gay male life into an endless outing among the Pod People. But we’re so fucking desperate for approval that we’ll even applaud some simpering, sexless Tante whose only connection to the physical body is jokes about sphincters and skid marks (he, too, can’t stop hitting on the straight boys). We’ll think it’s great that a vapid 22-year-old can be appointed a “culture expert.” We’ll laugh along when bodies with normal hair growth or middle-aged fat on them are held up to public ridicule. QE is nothing but a minstrel show, and the self-hatred that these guys demonstrate runs deeper and is more damaging than anything Fred Phelps ever thought of doing.