Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Fear of Golden Gays

            I turned on SLICE the other day. I don’t ordinarily watch SLICE because the programming is aimed at older straight women. True, as I get older I do begin to resemble an older straight woman -- although people do insist on calling me ‘Sir!’, which I find incredibly unnerving -- unless, of course, I’m in the backroom at The Eagle. At any rate, I don’t recommend you turn on SLICE any day soon, unless you want to be frightened out of your wits.
            They have a new program called Golden Gays.
            You heard it here first!
Be afraid: be very afraid.
My own personal fear of Golden Gays has absolutely nothing to do with my terror of aging! Well maybe just a little bit. As I approach sixty-one, let me tell you, the whole kit and caboodle seems perilously close to ending at any moment.  So yes, I will admit that the prospect of watching gay men of a ‘certain age’ cavorting about on TV, reminds me far too much of my own mortality.
But my profound fear of the show is for a reason other than that.
I am not the only one who fears Golden Gays.  Lots of my younger friends are also terrified of it. But they still find themselves drawn to it -- like a car accident on the 401.
            What is it about Golden Gays that both haunts and entices us?
            Let’s have a closer look.
Being old and gay, is apparently quite a jolly thing; especially in Palm Springs. The lives of the ‘golden gays’ revolve around– money, real estate, getting new photos taken, and ‘true love.’  And certainly the central characters are loveable and recognizable enough – two older self-identified bears who insist on hugging each other at the drop of a hat, and are conflicted about whether or not to sell their gay guest house or ‘hold onto that dream.’  Then there is the young woman trying to borrow money from her best friend who doesn’t want to lend it to her, but does anyway. And the 70 year old who is trying on new hats because he has found someone 42 years younger than himself with whom he is ‘in love.’  And last but not least, the old queen who puts on funny hats and ‘performs’ in a bar for his friends.
Let me tell you, it isn’t so much that I object to this cavalcade of witless, charm-free lightweights, as that I am frightened by how willing television seems to be to celebrate the sheer innocuousness of their sexless, inconsequential lives. (Sure there are lots of heterosexual boobs on reality network TV shows – pun intended – but they are balanced out by all the serious-minded, grown-up-but-not-aged sexual straight folks that populate HBO dramas.)
            What frightens me is that a few years ago there was a show on TV called Queer as Folk, which (whether you enjoyed the show or not) featured -- not the nostalgic tales of endearing retirees -- but contemporary stories of young queers having lots of sex and living the prime of their lives.
            So what happened?
The message queers are receiving these days from mainstream culture is this: ‘We are ready to accept gays and lesbian with open arms only if they are not having sex and not doing anything besides planning their retirement.
Think I’m exaggerating?
Witness the two much lauded ‘outings’ of the last six months.
Jodie Foster finally decided to come out as a ‘single person’ at the ripe old age of 50 -- after 47 years in the film business.
Jason Collins boldly came out at the ripe old age of 35 – which is when most basketball stars retire.
Double wow.
I wonder why they both waited so long?
Maybe because they were finally old enough and past-their-prime enough that people could handle it.  (And besides, their former careers were basically over, anyway.)
Which makes me think that even though everybody seems to think that we’ve come a long way baby – is that really true?
Or that just the way it seems?