depicting gay

There’s an episode of Lewis, a police drama set in Oxford, where a phoenix cult seems to exist. “On the way from Gethsemane to Calvary I lost my way”; and “Life is born of fire”. Straight off (pun intended) a guy commits suicide and Lewis and his offsider, Hathaway,  have to investigate. I should have remembered the twists & turns because it’s the situation when Lewis asks H whether he’s gay. But there’s a missing boyfriend and an unexplained sexual preference on the part of the first victim. Suddenly, it came back to me (spoiler alert) the guy’s boyfriend lost confidence in their relationship. The couple fell out; the first guy joins an ex-gay group, with the result that his friend decided to go to Brazil to change his gender to female.

In my 20’s at uni, especially 2 years at James Cook Uni, I wondered if I was masculine enough; this was ironic because a group of guys boarding at my college were thoroughly drunk every weekend, when dubious sexual activities took place; they were all footballers. Meanwhile, I was a limp wristed, poetry-reading hippy wearing gender ambiguous clothes. So I can understand that fever pitch of self loathing, life that is born of fire: was my voice too falsetto? Did I walk funny? I made myself SICK, asking these questions internally, and of my most sympathetic friends.

What I think is wrong about this dramatic representation is that it thoroughly invalidates one person’s decision about their gender identity. When Germs Greer was teaching at a UK university, there was a local scandal because a M-F sex change person wanted to use the women’s lavatory. Germs (bacterial) Greer reverted to her revolutionary (Female Eunuch) pronouncements and declared that some people felt that it only needed cutting a bit off a man’s anatomy to turn him into a woman, that is, a woman was a man with a bit cut off.

The truth is however, very different. Some children at a young age have been observed to assert that their internal gender identity is other than their outward appearance. Clearly, it will take a long time for society at large to accept the complexity of nature, that our patriarchal binary system is simply too idiotically simplified. Meanwhile, how do we represent ourselves, our complexities, our rich variegations? to ourselves, to the religious & prejudiced.

This week ABC2 played Our Gay Wedding the musical, which combined the celebration of a personal situation ( Brits are not widely known for their intimate/ domestic situations), a cultural & community milestone, and a review of how far we have come, how far we have progressed? We need to do this on a regular basis.

Today a Lynx hair product commercial showed a girl kissing a boy who then kisses another boy, the first male male kiss on commercial TV ever. I trust it’s progress that we can build on.

I went shopping today in a plaza where there were two security guys armed with guns. That’s life today. I came back, changing trains at a rail station next to mine. On the platform opposite was a guy wearing a black Tshirt; it had a red devil with cute white horns & the caption: “god is busy; can I help you”. Said it all for me.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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4 Responses to depicting gay

  1. rodbyatt says:

    England today gives us this Lewis ep and the gay wedding musical; yesterday England gave us The Crying Game and The Fully Monty: all fictional narratives visualising queer temporality and space, the sort of lifestyle Foucault wondered might be possible. Greer and Altman were good in our day, but the world and its commentators have moved on. With the near-complete assimilation of globalised gay subcultures into mainstream heteronormative Extreme Capitalism and postmodernist visual culture (remember when Warhol was transgressive?), comes a new-found appreciation of the rural and gender nuancing intersex/transgender. It’s no longer just all about the urban ghetto; it’s now about what’s going on in small towns (Oxford) and suburbia ( this marriage, phoenix-like, in an abandoned comedy hall). These essays in visual culture deal with dreadful propaganda demonstrating the sort of heteronormative stabilization, rationalisation and trivialisation described by Halberstam, but in amongst it all is some hope for the future.

  2. Steadfast says:

    Well said Rod and worth saying

  3. anton veenstra says:

    thank you linesman

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