America is still “Don’t ask; Don’t tell” about gay culture
I read a story today about a recent commercial for a line of clothing called “Nasty Pig” marketed almost exclusively to gay men. Time Warner cable aired the spot once and because of “complaints” is now refusing to air again. Before we go much further, here is the spot in question:
When you compare that with last year’s ad, something interesting occurred to me. In the previous year’s ad, you can’t actually tell that the guys in the ad are gay or that the product is targeted to gay men. The ad seems specifically designed to celebrate comeradery in a way that’s both inocous and unoffensive. Whereas in the second ad, you know they’re gay. You know they’re dressing to attract the same sex and there’s a celebration of sexuality rather than friendship. I think America still has a really big problem with men saying they’re interested in attracting members of the same gender for the purposes of sex. And I think this aversion lies primarily with the baby boomer generation. Its ok to be gay, just don’t act like you want to have sex with another man, which, of course, is the point of it all.
When I see couples like Modern Family’s Cam and Mitchell and other examples from mainstream media, that fact seems to bear itself out. In a previous episode the kids walked in on the straight couple having sex and the episode comedically sent up the cringe-worthiness of the whole event. I wonder if an episode where Lily accidentally walked in on Cam and Mitchell would get the same reception.
“In this country, when a man puts something in another man, it had better be a bullet.” — Bill Maher
The pithy-ness of Bill Maher’s quote aside, I think it rings true. I believe that the vast majority of the (older) TV audience has a real problem with the idea of men attracting each other for the purposes of sex. The message seems to be “It’s ok to be gay, just don’t throw it in my face” as if you are not entitled to have the same sex life that every other human has and celebrates simply because its with a member of the same sex.
If you don’t believe this to be true, and you have a bunch of straight friends on Facebook, post something that suggests you have had, are having or are interested in having sex and take a look at the reactions you get. Younger ones in the audience are all WOOHOO. Anyone over 50's comment is almost always negative. Its worse if you have relatives in Kansas.
Its my hope that the millennial generation will change this. Its so interesting when you talk to someone from that generation and you get none of the usual hangups with being gay that you get from everyone 50 and over. You can already see it with issues like Marijuana and Abortion.
I believe this country will be a very different place when they start voting en masse.