A Gay Mans
July 29, 2003
These are hard times for gay men. I speak with the
authority of personal experience.
You see, I am gay. Its just
my nature. Ive been this way as long as I remember. Even as a boy,
when I watched the dapper, suave comedy of Cary Grant or Fred Astaire, I
felt I was looking into a mirror of my soul. Life should be taken lightly
thats my philosophy. My favorite writer is P.G. Wodehouse.
When I hear a Rossini overture on the radio, I cant bear to turn it
off. These are my gay brethren. Ive learned to spot them across a
I never thought Bob Hope was all
that funny, but he was infectiously gay. He and Bing Crosby made some of
the most popular movies ever to star a pair of gay men. More recently the
fashion has favored black comedy, which can be hilarious too; but comedy
is best when light and gay, without malice and aggression, but that tone is
much harder to achieve and sustain than most people realize.
The reason the present age is
difficult for gay people is that the word gay has been appropriated
by homosexual activists. So real gay men have been driven into the closet,
afraid to admit theyre gay for fear of being misunderstood.
Our unbiased liberal news media
have adopted the word gay in this sense. A headline in USA
Today announces, Americans less tolerant on gay
issues. This turns out to mean that a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup
Poll finds that fewer Americans share the attitudes of the unbiased
liberal media toward sodomy. Why, many of them dont think a
sexual union should count as a marriage unless the partners are of
opposite sexes! How intolerant can you get?
We gay people just laugh at this
stuff. Its only the latest twist in the human comedy: the solemn
attempt to treat amatory deviance with respect. This is an instance of
what G.K Chesterton aptly called the modern and morbid habit of
always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal liberalism
defined in a single phrase.
The regular two
sexes are silly enough. But narrow it down to one sex, and youve
got something only the Episcopal clergy could possibly take seriously. And
they do, of course. The question now before the house is whether sodomy
should be a sacrament.
In the golden age of gaiety, the
truly gay man was easily identified by his straw hat, cane, bow tie, and
spats. He wouldnt even go to a baseball game without them. Even
the better sort of homosexual a Noel Coward or Cole Porter
was gay. He was at home in urbane society, even a witty ornament
to it. Bitter alienation and militancy hadnt come
Gaiety is civilized fun. It may
have peaked in Gilbert and Sullivan, but American pop culture also kept it
alive for much of the twentieth century, notably in Hollywood comedy and
the Broadway musical. It was well aware of high culture, but played off it
for comic effect. It found odd expression in such little gems as don
marquiss archy and mehitabel, whose episode
pete the parrot and shakespeare Hilaire Belloc called one of
the greatest comic poems in the English language. (It first appeared as a
newspaper column, where marquis waggishly explained his refusal to
capitalize or punctuate.)
Gay people have no relish for
persecuting homosexuals. Thats not their style. They have a strong
sense of the normal, which drives their humor, but by the same token they
arent easily bluffed. When the abnormal claims to be normal, their
instinct is to respond not with arguments but with jokes. (Did you
hear the one about the straight Episcopal bishop?)
In an age abounding in official
enlightened nonsense, humor is the revenge of the normal on
the official. The rude and raucous joke political, ethnic, sexual, or
sexist has a matchless power to deflate. This is
why liberals and feminists wag disapproving fingers at so many jokes. I
often suspect that Communism collapsed in large part because of the
richly sardonic underground humor it bred. Do the Soviet people eat
caviar? Yes, through their elected representatives.
So even Stalin couldnt
stamp out gay people. Neither will liberals, feminists, and homosexuals.
More powerful than armies is a wisecrack whose moment has come.