There are maybe 2 percent of Americans who experience some degree of same-sex attraction. Recent polls show that most Americans think the number is far higher, along the lines of 25 percent. This mistake is understandable given the amount of coverage gays get in our major media.
I read the New York Times and the Washington Post each day. Both are arguably among the best newspapers in the United States. Some days it seems they are the hometown paper of someplace called Gayland. This was particularly true in the run-up to the Proposition 8/DOMA decisions when each paper was wall-to-wall gay news, and in all sections, too.
This has abated, but only slightly. On Friday I took a look at the gay news in both papers.
Page three of Friday’s Post opens with a picture of a woman in San Antonio wiping her tears of joy with the rainbow flag. The City Council passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The Style Section ran a front-page story about pronouns preferred by the transgendered. Nicholas Gumas heads the largest “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning” organization on campus and he’s holding an orientation for incoming freshman. He’s asking them for their PGP, “preferred gender pronoun.”
Gumas said freshman “who come from progressive or urban areas may have been asked [for their PGPs] before, but others may not have.” Candace Gingrich, Newt’s sister, who works at the Human Rights Campaign said, “You have to respect how someone wants to be referred to.” She considered it practicing “basic human dignity.”
The story mentions Jesse Izen, a former student at the University of Maryland who wants to be called “they.” “They” says “they” wants to be able “to get groceries and not have an uncomfortable encounter with someone where I have to assert something that interrupts the flow of conversation.” I am not sure how pronouns really come up when you’re buying organic Rambutan at Whole Foods, but “they” clearly lives in a world foreign to me.
Rounding out the Post’s gay news is a sports story, about the Olympics, and what is an Olympics story these days without a gay angle. The International Olympic Committee is meeting to choose a new president and to consider new host cities but reporters wanted to know what the Olympic committee is going to do about the new law in Russia banning homosexual propaganda to school children. The IOC upholds Star Trek’s Prime Directive – and says it can’t interfere.
The New York Times would be the school paper of gay-town. These guys are constant in their coverage of gay news. A gay guy gets a hangnail in Magee, Mississippi and the Times is there with a 1,000-word head-scratcher.
The Times starts with a page-ten story on a proposed new law in Russia that would allow authorities to take children away from parents where one or both are homosexual. This may or may not be true; it matters little to the Times. When it comes to gay news, the more lurid the better.
Then there is a long take out on the new San Antonio ordinance banning gay discrimination. The reporter tells us that opponents worry about “suppressing the views of those who oppose homosexuality or same-sex marriage for religious reasons,” and the Times reporter – with a completely straight face – writes that supporters of the measure deny it.
The most interesting story in the Times was about the opening of NewFest, the 25th annual lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender film festival. Headlined “Putting the Sex in Homosexuality.” If this piece had been written by – well – me, it would be a hate piece because it dredges up old omnivorous sexual stereotypes that do not fit in with today’s whitewashed gay narrative.
Critic Stephen Holden points out that “the face of gay liberation in 2013 is a sanitized image of polite, smiling gay and lesbian couples parading hand in hand and exchanging chaste kisses at city halls. . .but if there is a theme [to the new film festival] it is that gay liberation is fundamentally about sex.” Cohen says, “Some gay activists lament the fading away of the eroticized outlaw mystique of homosexuality.” These activists would find great validation in the films at this festival.
“Concussion” tells the story of a lesbian who, after a car crash, becomes a high priced hooker to other lesbians. The Times laments that most of the sex takes place “beneath the sheets.” One of the most anticipated films, “Blue is the Warmest Color,” takes place above the sheets and is supposed to be hot hot hot.
And then there is “Interior. Leather Bar,” which imagines the forty minutes that were cut from the 1980 Al Pacino movie “Cruising.” Pacino is a New York City detective sent into the gay-sex underground on the hunt for a murderer. He cruises gay bars and also public trysting places including a forest in Central Park called the Ramble – these days taken back by moms with strollers but then quite interesting.
One of my all time favorite movie lines is from “Cruising” when Pacino squares off with a leather-boy hook up in the Ramble and says, “Hips or lips, Dorothy.” That still makes me chuckle. Mainstream actor James Franco thought the leather part of this movie needed retelling, and the Times loved it.
What strikes me reading the Times and the Post every day and paying attention to politics and culture is that these gay guys have the whip hand. How is it that 2 percent can make the remaining 98 percent bend to their will?
Bit by bit you can see the institutions crumble before them, even the religious ones. In the end, you just know, the only institution that will remain unbent is the Catholic Church. What a remarkable time to be a faithful Catholic.