|Posted on April 18, 2017 at 8:05 PM|
By Dennis Stone
Do you read gay media? If you're reading this obscure little site of mine then I'm guessing you do. Have you noticed the prime characteristic of all of these sites (apart from mine!)? The stories are overwhelmingly negative, focusing on all the dark and oppressive aspects of the queer experience. Stories about the crazy things obscure rightwingers say; repetitive pieces about how evil Trump is and how awful and hateful his America has become; stories exemplifying the worldview that no discriminatory experience is too insignificant to not have its own story and headline.
Check out a few of these sites now for yourself. You know what they are. Scan the headlines. I'll wait.
See what I mean? While I was waiting for you I checked out a prominent site myself. The top headline was about homophobes wanting to cut off the arm of a gay guy who had a suggestive picture of Green Bay Packers football star Aaron Rodgers tattooed on the arm. That sounds like a scary story. It turns out that all that happened was that a few goofballs in the Twitterverse replied to the tweet of the tattoo artist who had created the suggestive tat and had tweeted a picture of it. The headline regarding cutting off the arm came from a tweet suggesting that Rodgers should "confiscate" the arm. That was it. Wow, there are nasty and homophobic people on Twitter! Stop the presses!
Another story was about an uncle posting on Instagram about the My Little Pony easter egg he gave his nephew. Some commenters said boys should get only "boy eggs." So now we have another headline, complete with an interview of the uncle. Then there was a story about a lawsuit against a West Virginia county whose clerk told a lesbian couple applying for a marriage license that God would judge them. (The clerk gave them the license.) And a story about how Katy Perry was prohibited from interacting with gay people while growing up. On top of all of that, each new day brings new stories attempting to convince us of what we've known and felt for months: Donald Trump isn't our favorite politician!
Gay media seems unconcerned with how real gay people live today in the real world. The world in which literally millions live lives of safety and acceptance. The world that has been utterly transformed over the past ten years. The world that has literally never been better for gay people as a community, where coming out has never been less traumatic, where millions are out and happy and essentially equal to their straight peers. To say the preceding is emphatically NOT to say that everything is wonderful, that there aren't too many left behind, that there aren't a lot of young people facing intolerant families, and that there is no political danger in our future. And it's especially noteworthy that there are many countries where being gay is far more dangerous than it is for those of us lucky enough to live in Western countries. But we can recognize the shortcomings and the work left to do without ignoring the true nature of gay life today. Gay media is painting a scary and dishonest picture that focuses on the darkness and ignores the light. I am concerned that young people may see this dark vision as reality, and become irrationally afraid.
My favorite gay site is "Out." I've always respected its intention to cover all aspects of the gay world, and to reflect the many faces of that incredibly diverse gay world. Sometimes they get in trouble with the Debbie Downers of the rest of the mainstream world, most spectacularly when they did a straightforward profile of Milo Yiannopoulos that didn't paint him as evil incarnate. (See my passionate defense of the profile here.) "Out" has a regular section they call "Positive Voices." I'd like to think that section is a tiny refuge from all the dark stories, a place where the positive and joyous aspects of the gay experience can be discussed. Alas, "Positive Voices" is a section devoted to HIV and AIDS. That is a subject eminently worthy of discussion, perhaps more than it is given, but the positive stories need a section too.
The New Millennial Gay Experience that serves as this site's raison d'etre has no place in mainstream gay media. I want to talk about the ways in which gay life is changing and improving, and the issues that arise from that tectonic change. As the gay world dramatically changes there are all sorts of stresses and tensions that arise, all sorts of new ways of thinking that are evolving. Assimilation discussion, anyone? Many people don't understand or don't accept this new world. Many, especially those that maintain or read mainstream gay media, don't want to talk about anything but the negative. In a world with a balanced gay media I would talk more about some of these negative subjects myself. Simply because they do exist. But the gay media is so fixated on those things at the expense of the exhilarating advances and evolution we've experienced that I can't bring myself to add to that sad cacophony.
Based on the people I know, and on many of the reader comments I see online, there are a lot of people who agree with me, and would love to see the bright and beautiful side of the gay experience. How great would it be if a rich person or group set up such a site and promoted it as an alternative?!
I think it would meet a need. And I think it would do quite well.