Super Bowl Sungay
Once a year, around the beginning of February, it crawls out from its hole in the ground as it studies the weather and notices the sun for the first time in months. People plan vacations around this, traveling far and wide to see it in person; the moment is treated as a holiday, but it remains a fantastic method for American elementary school teachers to begin educating their fresh-faced students about the ways of the world. “They call him Phil,” third-grade teacher Kathleen Tallon of Middle America declares. “He’s a Patriots fan.”
The class boos.
I’ve never truly related to the Super Bowl the way many have. My family celebrated it in a variety of ways, from viewing parties at my dad’s house to a little get-together at my mom’s. If the Steelers are playing, my stepdad becomes actively involved, as if the players were his children, his emotions running circles around the players making a touchdown against his beloved Pittsburgh team. During these parties, you could cut the tension with a knife if the majority’s team was losing. Attempting to break this and calm everyone down– and potentially take the stage of everyone’s attention– I would make a joke about the previous gecko insurance commercial. It never worked, and I resorted to running upstairs at the next touchdown to watch puppies or kittens play the same game on other channels.
When asked if you’re going to watch the Super Bowl, it is best to say you are to avoid any capitalist confrontations you don’t want to encounter at the coffee shop where you decided to “catch up.” When your conversational partner says they, too, plan on watching the game and ask who you’re rooting for, but you don’t even know who’s playing and you don’t want to say you’re rooting for the hottest quarterback to kick a basket or whatever, the best response you can give is the classic response: “Oh, I’m just watching for the commercials.” Hundreds of thousands of people a day from the period of January 25th to that Sunday flock to this excuse to avoid discussing what they don’t know any further. It’s a perfect response, and I’ve used it time and again; but in reality, I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched a Super Bowl commercial. Eighth grade? Maybe before then? I just don’t get how one chip or beer company can spend so much money for thirty seconds of advertisement they don’t need, so I guess I chose to stop watching before I learned the answer.
Two of the only memorable Super Bowls happened while I was in high school. One was in my senior year of high school when the Denver Broncos played some other team. This was big news for my hometown, a small, rich community perched along the Rockies of Colorado, about 40 minutes from the stadium where the Broncos play their home games. It was the moment of the year for our state, a moment that would define us until the next playoffs: in 2016, an election year, Peyton Manning had the opportunity to change the lives of Coloradans by bringing us to Super Bowl glory; nothing else mattered, and if someone disagreed, they would be quickly shunned and face exodus into the next state– Wyoming, which really seemed like a nightmare. I don’t remember watching the game.
Of course the Broncos won, and many of my fellow seniors in my gym class skipped class the following week to attend the team’s homecoming parade in downtown Denver. In retrospect, that could’ve gotten me out of running a mile and subjecting myself to what felt like an extremely long part of the badminton section of our course, but I just really didn’t care enough.
What I did care about when it came to the Super Bowl, however, was three years earlier, in my first year as a high school student. I don’t remember who played who or where the game was, but I remember where I was: the party of my mom’s best friend and my biology teacher that year, Mrs. Thompson. I was surrounded by all of my teachers and their spouses, something I came to know growing up as my mom taught at what would become the high school I attended; but that year was different. In 2013, much like Phil the Patriots fan or Phil the groundhog, another kind of creature graced their own stage. Facing 110.8 million viewers and generating 299,000 tweets per minute– also known as the then second most tweeted about moment in Twitter history– Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter stood in the Pepsi-sponsored limelight to bring attention to her performative capacities– especially after lip-syncing the National Anthem at President Obama’s second inauguration just 13 days before– as my future psychology teacher, Mrs. Swanson, held me while we as a country powered through a legacy of songs, saw a Destiny’s Child reunion, and were left completely speechless. She caused a stadium-wide power outage, did post-interviews drunk and reeling in happiness, and showed America– no, the world– what #BlackGirlMagic was years before it was coined. What a fucking moment.
Beyoncé’s performance brought a flurry of emotions– or a lack thereof– to the forefront of my mind. I’d never felt more comfortably gay than I did watching the 2013 Super Bowl. The game of football is so aggressively masculine, from its players to its audience to the way its portrayed.
But football is, like, so gay. Like, really really gay.
Men in tight uniforms battle each other, piling their muscled, sweaty bodies one after the other over a leather ball. They slap each other’s asses in a show of friendship and teamwork, a sign saying, “You’re here, you’re visible, and I love your stamina.” This has been the argument made by generation after generation of gay men to justify and take down any homophobic [insert football team name] fan, but it goes beyond just that act. Before a river of sweat forms on the field and gallons of testosterone are produced by each man watching and playing in the game, people from the likes of Whitney Houston, Destiny’s Child, and Lady Gaga (again) sing America’s national anthem to welcome the final showdown. After, the Boys flip a coin to see who’s going to top– I mean, kickoff.
After two quarters of running, sweating, and Gatorade™ bottle-flashing, the players leave the field to usher in a stage of what has been in more recent years a large pride flag. Shania Twain and No Doubt. Janet Jackson with Justin Timberlake. Prince. Madonna. Nicki Minaj. Beyoncé. Coldplay featuring Beyoncé. Lady Gaga with rumors of a surprise performance by Beyoncé. I mean, come on. How can you disagree? We all who watch the Super Bowl have to see at least a little irony in the big game.
The fanfare, the commercials, the people, all of it is so damn campy. But everyone, gay, straight, or somewhere in between, eats it up.
Speaking of eating, it’s come to my attention that some of you reading this may be struggling with a lot right now, including your Super Bowl party planning. I have written an afterword to help you as much as I can in this regard. Thank you, and straight men: this one’s for you.
Dear Straight White Football Guy,
So you just found out the Super Bowl’s gay. At this point you might be slowly realizing something about being gay: everyone is. Even you, just a little bit. Don’t tell me that one time with your roommate freshman year of college meant nothing. You might as well embrace it, flip the switch on your marriage, and let your true colors shine, just the way Cyndi Lauper would’ve wanted. Or still wants. She’s not dead, don’t worry.
I’m not suggesting you leave Sharon for a man or anything, either. She’s a wonderful woman and she carried out two beautiful daughters for you. I am suggesting, however, that you give her the night off and hop in the kitchen yourself. Heteronormativity is ugly and soul-wrenching, and who needs that when you have a game to get to?! I’m here to help you with the beginning steps of preparing your new gay Super Bowl Sunday. A Super Bowl Sungay, as I like to call it. It’s new, fresh, and inviting, and everyone will love you for how progressive you are! In order to be the talk of your suburb for at least the next week, you have to do things a little differently. You don’t want chips and guac like Jerry’s party. Fuck Jerry, man. You want a party your guests will never forget. Today, we’ll just focus on the food. Tell Bethany to quit making her Pizza Rolls for her “hungry guys.” Strap on– in, and let’s begin.
This dish was a favorite of my dad’s side of the family and highly requested by yours truly when I was growing up. It also happens to be the dish I remember eating right before I came out to my mom. Much like that moment in my life, this dish is a beautiful blend of canned chicken, buffalo sauce, cheese, and tears, eaten with a favorable amount of tortilla chips.
When you eat these, however, be open. Be open to the possibility that you could be eating a rooster. Joe, Brad, Landon, and you could all be eating a male’s meat, and I’m proud of you– even if PETA isn’t. You’re one step closer to “heteroflexibility” or whatever you’re calling sexual fluidity these days.
Here’s another dip recipe, because I urge you to just dip your toes into the waters of exploration among other things. The dip tables at all parties are great places to begin a conversation with others and yourself as you sample the different selections and flavors offered. You’re doing great, and don’t forget you’re loved.
Queso can really only be done one way, as my Southwest upbringing in Colorado taught me. You use a block of Velveeta and two cans of Ro*Tel. Super simple, this recipe allows you time for other foods or questions you may have about the game you once knew as a hypermasculine haven. So heat up that Velveeta, stir in that Ro*Tel, and sit back for some time with your bros!
Here in the LGBTQ+ community, we celebrate each other in spaces where our gay forefathers found comfort and the confidence to truly be themselves. Nine times out of ten, these spaces are bars. Today, I invite you into that space with two icons in the gay community: Ina Garten and alcohol. Sip on this Jalapeño Margarita, and be sure to save a little for the boys!!!! It’s spicy, sweet, and sour, a drink with flavors of a wider range than the emotions you must still be feeling.
This Super Bowl is going to be the tits, my dude! I’m sure your friends will love your interpretation of the big game, and you might inspire something more than just a new party idea in some of them. I’ll let you get back to your holiday– or should I say holigay!
Your Gay Neighbor (Gaybor),