My Problem With The Why Are You Gay? Meme
Earlier this year, a clip featuring a Ugandan trans man being interviewed by a Ugandan journalist — who has now been identified as Simon Kaggwa Njal — from 2012 resurfaced on the internet. The video — the version which resurfaced typically was less than two minutes — quickly became comic gold for many. The interviewer asking the trans man ‘why are you gay?’ then asserted that the trans man was indeed gay although the trans man had denied being gay. This paired with the facial expression of the interviewer and his distinct accent translated to a quick comic relief and as most things on the internet in 2019 evolved into a meme. Immortalized on the internet, to be reached for regularly enough that almost everyone knew the source material and the ‘context’ but rarely enough that it was funny whenever it was used. I laughed, you most likely laughed, the trans man who was gaslighted was forgotten and the unethical journalist became a meme immortalized on our digital consciousness. We move.
Last week, this meme came back not in the way memes normally do. Now it was different, same content, the trans man who was gaslighted still forgotten and unethical journalist still centered. The meme has made a return, with a new format. While previosuly, the punchline had been ‘why are you gay’ which often spelled as why are you ge to accurately capture the journalist’s accent. Now the punchline was a bit different.
With jokes like;
when you fall down unconscious and you are dying but your friend gives you mouth to mouth rather than letting you die *insert meme*
The joke here is a play on both the journalist is saying you are gay and how typically men react when a man shows them tenderness, fondness or anything outside of what is considered normal and bro-like for straight male interactions. The meme quickly gained traction and boom, a meme is reborn and was going viral so much so that the journalist himself reacted humorously which brings us to the problem with this meme.
On one hand, this meme could be a great way to point out the ridiculousness of toxic masculinty and the way cis-het men tend to navigate their relationships with each other. However, for many as funny as this meme is, they don’t see realize that the joke should be on toxic masculinity and even worse, they don’t realize that the journalist in this video is in the wrong and the trans man was gaslighted and treated poorly in the full video where a pastor was even brought in.
When twitter user Ceefour_ called out the journalist after he made a humorous tweet regarding his picture being turned into a viral tweet, and rightfully pointed out the not-so-latent homophobia he displayed in the video as well as the overt gaslighting, the flock of people who have been using the meme — including, if I am not mistaken the person who had made the meme go viral in this second circle and with the new frame — were not having it. How dare we point out that a trans person being gasligted and a journalist being untheical and an overall homophobic interview isn’t funny or shouldn’t be a joke for the amusement of mostly cis-het men?
Perhaps a reach, this scenario doesn’t seem particularly different from when Bobrisky’s famous Tani E Bro video where she, in a very Bobrisky-fashion, made her gender and pronouns clear. The video went viral and also became a Twitter favorite. Yet even amongst the people who found it funny, they still refer to Bobrisky as shim, him, it and anything but her actual pronouns. Once again, the existence of queer people were ripped down to how it could provide comedic relief for queerphobic/ignorant people while they ignored the nuance and context of the situations of these queer people. Be it the they being forced to deal with homophobia and gaslighted on national television, or they expressing their preffered pronouns, straight people do not give a fuck about it other than the part that makes them laugh and gets them retweets and God forbid you point this out.