Lee Williscroft-Ferris wonders whether he is the only person left feeling cold by GT’s footage of ‘straight men’ kissing other men.
‘Watch these straight guys try kissing another man for the first time.’ Scrolling down my Facebook news feed, this link shared by Gay Times stopped me in my tracks. There was bemusement, a touch of anger (explanation to follow) and an overwhelming sense of ‘what’s the point?’.
In trying to understand why a mainstream gay magazine would run a feature like this in 2016, I considered a number of possibilities. Are Gay Times simply dealing in clickbait? More than likely. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Clicks make money and for a commercial enterprise such as GT, money talks. It does, however, make me extremely glad that I can browse The Queerness without a bottle of mind bleach by my side.
Let’s be honest: what this article is really all about is fetishisation. The fantasy of getting off with a straight man pervades gay male culture. GayTube is positively brimming with videos of supposedly straight guys either doing some ‘gay for pay’ or finding themselves tempted by the not-so-subtle charms of their ‘stepson’, ‘teacher’ or ‘frat buddy’ (barf). There is, it seems, something mesmerisingly erotic about attaining the unattainable. There is no shame in fantasies; we all have them and they are healthy.
Nonetheless, the GT piece is problematic on several levels; first, it suggests that gay men are playthings, that they are willing to stand and be experimented upon like some sort of inanimate First Aid training dummy. What happens if you enjoy it that bit too much? What are the consequences of really going for it hammer and tongues (pun intended)? Regardless of protestations to the contrary, be in no doubt, the straight man is the person in full control of this situation. It reinforces the straight male hegemony and it’s exploitative, full stop.
This irony is that rather than promoting sexual experimentation and fluidity, sideshow pieces like this only serve to present non-binary sexuality as a spectacle to gawk at before sharing or retweeting for others to relish. It isn’t funny, it isn’t entertaining and it most certainly isn’t in any way liberating.
Frankly, this kind of output is an insult to our collective intelligence. In a world still racked with inequality and injustice, there is no shortage of less banal source material that GT could seize upon. Yes, I know, I’m a big spoilsport. Judging by the comments beneath the Facebook post, however, I’d say I’m not alone. With the exception of a minority of readers who declared the video to be ‘hot’ (yawn), most were bemused at best. I share their sense of WTF.
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