Pride, Shame and Promosexuals: The Advocate's 193 Reasons for Pride
The June/July issue of The Advocate features a major cover story on Chaz Bono, the famous daughter of Sonny and Cher who transitioned to a man after a long personal struggle. He tops the magazine's list of 193 reasons to have pride in 2011, and the captivating story is an apt lead. In the early post-Stonewall protests and parades the point of "Gay Pride" wasn't about drunk partying in the streets, it was about coming out of the shadows, showing the world what it meant to be lesbian and gay, and letting the world know we weren't going to sit silent any longer.
Many of the people and events on the list do seem to fit those parameters. But then there are some that feel less noble—at least to some people. For example, should Perez Hilton be on the list? Does Michelle Obama wearing a gay designer mean anything to anyone or really do anything to champion homosexuals? And are some members of the media noble in their coming out, or just "promosexuals" looking to sell copies of their latest book?
With the debate raging among readers and bloggers we wanted to ask: Are these reasons that make YOU feel proud in 2011?
OBVIOUS REASONS FOR PRIDE
"In Mexico’s first year of marriage equality, 367 male couples and 333 female ones were legally joined. All but 73 people married were Mexican citizens, and nine were between the ages of 71 and 90." - Page 32
Positive gay rights stories are obvious reasons to feel good about life. Similar testaments include Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, who plans on continuing his LGBT activism by taking a more visible role in public policy post-retirement; marriage equality being recognized in many more states; and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” as well as military service chiefs telling Congress that training efforts in the implementation would go smoothly—something we already knew but were happy to have the straights-in-charge affirm. Even the testament that "337 companies, employing 8.3 million full-time U.S. workers, had a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 2011" feels good.
There were also some legit reasons in popular culture. Torchwood: Miracle Day, Capt. Jack Harkness (a bisexual character played by out actor John Barrowman) premieres in America on the Starz network in July, and ABC's Modern Family features a gay couple who are as fleshed out and flawed as the other characters on this hilarious sitcom. Broadway is, as always, gay with a stage version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, AIDS activist and writer Tony Kushner's new shows, creative power gays stepping in to save Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and The Book of Mormon— from South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone and featuring their signature hilarious blasphemy— offering a closeted Latter-day Saint missionary. So needless to say, we're more visible than ever and that kind of exposure in the media is a good thing.
THE DEBATE BEGINS
But what about people on the list who appear like good bets, but when viewed from a distance raise some red flags?
For example, The Advocate lists "straight dudes who are rooting for us," like wrestler Hudson Taylor and rugby players Nick Youngquest and Ben Cohen (right). Yes, they "are excellent ambassadors, making the mat, the field, and the court more gay-friendly" but would they be on this list if they weren't sexy? There are plenty of women in sports, and even Charles Barkley recently stated that being out in professional sports is no big deal, but do we lift up guys like this for their sex appeal as much as their message?
Then there are actors who "love to be gay for pay," with Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as the committed couple of The Kids Are All Right, Colin Firth in A Single Man, and James Franco as examples. On one hand that's great because it shows that playing a gay character won't hurt your career and puts queer storylines in the mainstream, but playing a gay character doesn't make them gay. It doesn't make them truly know what it means to be gay. And do they publicly thank the gay community for their support? Do they champion the lesbian moms or dyke-adjacent ballerinas of the world?
Then there's the Don Lemon interview, which we fully supported here on Gay.com. But his coming out has been discussed on everything from the New York Times to NSFW porn site The Sword: Did he come out because he felt compelled to do so, or as was asked of Chely Wright and even Chaz Bono to an extent, was this all about his book release? Is he a "promosexual," someone who uses their publicly hidden gay identity to promote and sell material?
Obviously there are no easy answers to this, but what we are curious about is if these examples speak to you and your sense of Gay Pride. Or has Gay Pride become just as much a part of modern media and lost it's true meaning? You decide.