As a gay man, I have to live with the fact that in some ways I am a slave to stereotypes. One such stereotypes is that our collection of pants consists of boxers, and not Y-fronts. When Mark went down to buy a pack of underwear and came home with such things, it caused an imbalance in the homo force, and it was like a million gay men cried out in pain.
I’m usually the victim of stereotyping. Whenever I meet someone, and have to come out to them, they look at me and I can see them thinking. “I couldn’t in a million years guess you were one of those”: My glasses, my ACNE ridden complexion, my relative silence, and my not so keen fashion sense place me firmly in the camp of the no-style and no-class. So, I can’t be gay, can I?
The other day Mark and I sat down to watch something called “The Queer Eye for the Straight guy”. Apparently, years ago, someone thought it was a really good idea to combine a set of really camp gay men with a style disaster of a straight guy, and then ‘redo’ the straight man. The camp gay men swooped into the life of the straight man, and did everything from his hair to his clothes to his coiffed manicure. In some sense, I suppose that could be counted as a bit amusing. To someone. Mark and I just stared at the thing. Then switched to our personal reruns of “The United States of Tara” because you can never watch Marshall Gregson too much.
We could sit there in the dark in front of the telly, dressed in boxers, and whine about how gay people are represented in the media, and that we certainly don’t want to live up to how other people expect us to behave. Cue the usual feigned outrage of being put in a box, despite the fact that our lives need little bravery. There’s little conflict or danger as we go about our things here. When the local Christian group comes to borrow china from this den of sin and ‘disordered relations’, things aren’t as they used to be. So, it’s good enough for us petty bourgeoisie teenagers to dismiss it all. I mean, it’s not like we’re Quentin Crisp riding the subways of New York through the age of the Stonewall riots, is it?
And then Mark came home with the Y-fronts. And I responded like the stereotypical gay man. “You can’t wear those,” I said. “They look ridiculous. Why didn’t you get boxers?” And he wants to defend the purchase. “What does it matter? [pause] This isn’t going to be one of those Kettle things is it?” He was of course talking about us agreeing to buy a boring and bland kettle the other week, after which I went and bought the one I wanted anyway. “No,” I said. “But you have to agree that there’s a floor on style. Those things are located far below that floor.” And of course, the only comeback he could give was. “You’ve been secretly watching that Queer Eye haven’t you? That’s so stereotypical.”