Bret Easton Ellis on the ‘Reign of the Gay Magical Elves’

EllisBret Easton Ellis, author of modern classics Less Than Zero and American Psycho, writes about the lionizing of celebrities who announce they are gay for OUT:

Was I the only gay man of a certain demo who experienced a flicker of annoyance in the way the media treated Jason Collins as some kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled and—yes—infantilized by his coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Within the tyrannical homophobia of the sports world, that any man would come out as gay (let alone a black man) is not only an LGBT triumph but also a triumph for pranksters everywhere who thrilled to the idea that what should be considered just another neutral fact that is nobody’s business was instead a shock heard around the world, one that added another jolt of transparency to an increasingly transparent planet. It was an undeniable moment and also extremely cool. Jason Collins is the future. But the subsequent fawning over Collins simply stating he is gay still seemed to me, as another gay man, like a new kind of victimization. (George Stephanopoulos interviewed him so tenderly, it was as if he was talking to a six-year-old boy.) In another five years hopefully this won’t matter, but for now we’re trapped in the times we live in. The reign of The Gay Man as Magical Elf, who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude, is—lamentably—still in media play.

The Gay Man as Magical Elf has been such a tricky part of gay self-patronization in the media that you would by now expect the chill members of the LGBT community to respond with cool indifference. The Sweet and Sexually Unthreatening and Super-Successful Gay is supposed to be destined to transform The Hets into noble gay-loving protectors—as long as the gay in question isn’t messy or sexual or difficult. The straight and gay sanctimoniousness that says everyone gay needs to be canonized when coming out still makes some of us who are already out feel like we’re on the sidelines. I’m all for coming out on one’s own terms, but heralding it as the most important news story of the week feels to me, as a gay man, well, kind of alienating. We are apart because of what we supposedly represent because of… our… boring… sexuality—oh man, do we have to go through this again? And it’s all about the upbeat press release, the kind of smiling mask assuring us everything is awesome. God help the gay man who comes out and doesn’t want to represent, who doesn’t want to teach, who doesn’t feel like part of the homogenized gay culture and rejects it. Where’s the gay dude who makes crude jokes about other gays in the media (as straight dudes do of each other constantly) or express their hopelessness in seeing Modern Family being rewarded for its depiction of gays, a show where a heterosexual plays the most simpering ka-ween on TV and Wins. Emmys. For. It? Why isn’t the gay dude I have always known and the gay dude I have always wanted to be not front and center in the media culture now? But being “real” and “human” (i.e. flawed) is not necessarily what The Gay Gatekeepers want straight culture to see…

[continues at OUT]


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33 Comments on "Bret Easton Ellis on the ‘Reign of the Gay Magical Elves’"

  1. Simon Valentine | May 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

    SID is still vertical
    it’s a cultural thing.
    like erecting an obelisk
    in reverse
    yes, i’m referencing the horizontal
    math’s next
    what will you do then
    what will you do THEN, ‘world’?!??
    dodgy style?

  2. What, 15 years before this is no big deal? I am not gay, so this last couple years of continuous gay rights has worn thin on me. Not that I have a problem with human rights, stuff gets old fast for me. I imagine others are getting ho-hum about this as well.

    I am also tired of star wars, Amanda Bynes, Iron Man, Hero movies in general (***SPOILER*** the good guys have some troubles but triumph in the end) and so much more. Not that these are on par with human rights issues, but I feel like it’s on heavy rotation.

    • Simon Valentine | May 15, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

      oh have i got just the superhero for you!

      not to be taken at face value, is it the sound or the valid cue? maybe if i just didn’t pound you, ExTort-i-on, hero, wouldn’t come true. he sure as hell aint the Punisher. X-Men? Tortyon. custodian of all that you are. a hero on your shoulder. an enemy in your farm. imaginary raider cannibalizing harm. he knows who should receive damage. he knows which naughty infinite. his suit is nauseously discussed-ing and we’re a very critical part of it! hero! in part; insurance! in art! you’re the bead upon tail cape that keeps it dragging taught! X-Tortyon! The Fart! don’t you wish that he smelled better than Beast? that he was less forth coming than Bat Man? that he could be as repulsive to girls as Deadpool can?!? Judge Dredd is not his master. Whedon does not consult.
      maybe if you catch him
      he’d drop treasure like a Vault!

      • I can’t tell if you are insulting, agreeing, or making no sense at all. Are you a bot?

        • Simon Valentine | May 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

          nah it’s quite simply egregiously developed post-sarcasm combined with the need for a bad-guy win but he isn’t actually a bad guy so much as anti all the usual wrong crap
          because who could develop a legit superhero named Extortion? jus say’n. KMFDM?

          *edit* excuse me, EX-TORT-EE-ON

          and i can’t prove that i’m not a bot

      • Kropotkin1936 | May 16, 2013 at 2:33 am |

        ^I’ve stopped bothering to read the things this guy says. It’s either a bot, a crazy person, or just someone with two much time on their hands… or perhaps some nefarious combination of the three

        • If he’s a bot i’d love to meet his programmer because he probably broke a number of significant programming problems

        • Calypso_1 | May 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

          Seeing as this is your sole comment in this forum, you’re opinion will be attributed the full degree of significance warranted.

    • Eric_D_Read | May 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm |

      I would think that the overwhelming majority of straight privileged white men reacting with a “ho-hum, and…?” would be seen as a great victory in the eyes of the gay acceptance movement.

      The cynic in me thinks that the outrage in the face of that reaction is entirely manufactured by the Great American Hype Machine.

      • I just want to note I am not privileged. Well I have more going for me than people in 3rd world countries, the homeless, and such. I am well aware of it, and have been homeless before. We all need love, a place to sleep, clothing, food, and bleed red. I hope the privileged white male stereotype/excuse dies fast. It will only continue to fester what needs to heal.

        Like I said, 15 years, maybe more before people get over this, mostly? The religious literalists may continue to have issues, due to programmed biases. Gladly for the rest of humanity their numbers are dwindling.

        • it’s not like there’s anything at stake…like equal treatment under the law, gay people losing child custody, losing jobs, losing apartments, etc. Perfectly legal to discriminate in 36 states.

          • Matt Staggs | May 16, 2013 at 9:14 am |

            I’m with you on this one, Ray. I’m not gay, but it’s easy to see that we’ve got plenty of institutionalized discrimination. I wish that as a society we’d all aim toward the parity that this country is supposed to be about.

          • I didn’t anywhere say I was against this, I did express that I am for human rights. I also expressed that this human rights issue is on heavy rotation, and it has gotten old for me.

            If listening to the radio (which I rarely do), I switch channels If I hear a song that I’d heard a million times. Usually I switch it off. That’s all. Can I express this, or does this make me a person who hates gay people?

          • watch less television

          • I’ve got you dialed in now. Like white noise on the television, the best choice is to turn the channel.

        • Eric_D_Read | May 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

          I typed the “privileged” comment, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

          • I figured, after reading the rest of your comment. I wanted to get my point out there. From my experience there are definitely those out there like that. I’ve rubbed shoulders with the oblivious.

    • Bruteloop | May 16, 2013 at 3:10 am |

      I kind of agree with you and I’m gay. But I never gave two shits what people thought about that from 18 on. I knew it caused hatred. A whole lot does. Kind of nice when we can get married. Though I never would. Why mimic an outmoded institution? Apart from so you can make those hard medical decisions when they come along. And live in each others’ countries and stuff. Best would be if we could lose that dumb word. Gay. I read somewhere that an Elizabethan slang term was ‘rogue’. Can we take that one? “Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you…I’m a…rogue.” Cue the same tears and wailings and walkings out but it just sounds so much better.

      • Rogue is bad ass dude. One day we will get there, until then we will get peppered with media for or against.

      • lifobryan | May 16, 2013 at 9:07 pm |

        Thank you for this! I’m with you on the word “gay.” I’ve always considered it an unfortunate label, with frivolous, pejorative, restrictive, and emasculating connotations. I’ve used it myself of course, but only because of the common parlance – all the while wishing a less culturally dumb word would eventually replace it.

        “Rogue” does the trick and I’m going to use it from now on!! Can’t wait to go to a Rogue Bar, and march in a Rogue Pride Parade, and download some Rogue Porn.

        And while we’re on the subject, let’s get rid of that godawful rainbow flag too – it’s certainly “gay,” but definitely not “rogue.” Rogue is way too bad-ass for that! How about a Skull & Cross-Boners? Now that’s Rogue!

        Although, come to think of it …. I suppose that in the Elizabethan vernacular, the connotations were likely not so awesome. Probably more along the lines of “waggish frippery.” In which case we couldn’t have such a bad-ass flag. Still, “Wry Tweed” is better than that garish rainbow.

        But I digress …..

        For more on the history and usage of the word “gay,” check out the late Aaron Swartz’s compelling blog essay “Why I’m Not Gay”

    • you need to watch less television

  3. lifobryan | May 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

    “Gay Magical Elves”?? Okay, I’m with you. But how about Gay Urban Explorer Penguins? Way cool.

  4. emperorreagan | May 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

    Sports play a huge role in US society: for transmitting social values, morals, etc. Jason Collins coming out was an important moment in that context. Openly gay athletes will be more of a normalizing factor for society at large than any other depiction in media.

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