Saturday, January 04, 2003

Time to clean out the closet

Saw Star Trek Nemesis last night and was unable to concentrate on the plot much because of the people around me - the man sitting next to me had the worst heavy breathing/sniffing issues I've ever encountered. And the man behind me was a talker. During an advert for Eminem's new film he hissed "faggot!" at the screen. I was tempted to point out that Eminem is rather homophobic himself so to all intents and purposes they're on the same side, but instead I made do with sitting as high up in my seat as I could, so that his view was spoilt for the remainder of the film.

Casual homophobia seems particularly rife at the moment - especially among young males - the word "gay" as been re-reclaimed to mean "lame", and not a week goes by without the likes of Ricky Gervais making a flippant anti-gay joke. Rap lyrics tell us it's OK to burn the "battyman", and I heard one group of young men in the street guffawing at the word "gayboy" today. To channel Carrie Bradshaw for a second, is homophobia the new black (racism)? I've heard all the arguments before, straight men, feeling demasculinised and with no proper role models left, can only express their identities by denigrating other identities. The ironic, hedonistic, me-first "lad" identity is the only acceptable one that's on offer in the media, and it's increasingly spreading to all walks of life - note how many tv adverts show people (mothers as well as young men) being "hilariously" selfish now in order to get their own way. Like the current "Wycliff in prison" advert where he's afraid to pick up the soap in the shower, random homophobia is therefore not taken seriously, it's just the lads 'avin' a laff innit.

My theory is that this current jokey spate of homophobia is the last gasp of the closet cases. Give it a couple more decades and like Eminem, they'll have cleaned out their closets and be stalking the internet chatrooms vainly seeking "str8-acting men for hot fun". And in a few more decades, when the stigma of sexuality is removed altogether, straight male friends will have recreational casual sex with each other all the time - it'll be blokey, have a lot to do with maintaining their little power hiearchies and little to do with emotions, but most of them will enjoy it a lot more than they'd care to admit. Why do I think this? Because studies show that most people are bisexual. Because in cultures where sexuality is not talked about, an awful lot of gay sex goes on, and it's not viewed as gay. We'll eventually return to that state, but not before we've problematised, agonised and finally sanctioned sexuality. And after all the hand-wringing, we'll probably return to not talking about it that much - it just won't be an issue.

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