On the Search for Gay Modern Love: July 13, 2008 (Thanks for Running a Gay Piece, Modern Love, Too Bad It Reads Like a Stereotypical Freak Scene)

13Jul08

In which The Gay Recluse updates his informal but rather telling quantitative analysis of Modern Love, the weekly Style Section (of The Times) column in which openly gay writers almost never appear, and even less frequently describe a romantic relationship.

This week’s piece: A Brother As Significant as Any Other by Lawrence Everett Forbes

Subject: Although we’ve retired from rewriting the ML columns, we wanted to update our tally because — hey! — Daniel Jones ran a piece this week by a real cock-sucking gai! But don’t worry, it’s not about same-sex romantic love between two men, but instead describes a rather unsettling affection between two brothers, one straight and one gay. In short, because from reading Modern Love over the years we have learned that the gays are crazy and incapable of anything resembling real love (by which we mean love between one man and one woman, preferably in a suburb), we are relieved to learn that the author of this piece also sounds rather insane as he unconsciously uses phrases like “too close” to describe his family and then discloses the unsettling fact (in the context of the piece, of course) that neither he nor his brother has ever had a relationship longer than a “brief affair.”

Check out this: “Rather than drive us apart, my admission had bound us closer together.”

Or this: “Our parents recently celebrated their 39th anniversary. Their union has always been one of affectionate gestures and caretaking. You’d think growing up with such stellar role models would help us find healthy long-term relationships, yet neither of us has had a partner for longer than a season.”

OMG, barf! Seriously, is there a 911 for therapy?

Filed under: Gay Man on “Family” (and yes, we’re updating the tally to include the past few weeks, which were two straight women on Zzzzz.)

The updated tally (or why we feel like animals in the zoo): 8 out of 187 columns by openly gay writers; 2 out of 187 on female gay relationships; 0 out of 187 on male gay relationships. In what is arguably the “gayest” section of The Times, more women have written about gay men than gay men have.

Straight Woman on Relationships iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiii (44)
Straight Woman on Family iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iii (38)
Straight Woman on “Looking for Love” iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii (35)
Straight Woman on Breaking Up iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iii (23)
Straight Man on Relationships iiiii iiiii ii (12)
Straight Man on Breakup iiiiii (6)
Straight Woman on Gay Men iiiii i (6)
Straight Man on Family iiiii ii (7)
Straight Man on “Looking for Love” iiiii ii (7)
Gay Man on Family ii (2)
Gay Woman on Relationship ii (2)
Gay Woman on Family ii (2)
Gay Man on Self-Hatred i (1)
Gay Man on Prom Date i (1)
Ambiguous/Nurse on Drugs i (1)



7 Responses to “On the Search for Gay Modern Love: July 13, 2008 (Thanks for Running a Gay Piece, Modern Love, Too Bad It Reads Like a Stereotypical Freak Scene)”

  1. 1 Tim

    I guess the Times assumes this article is fit to print since it seems to indirectly and unconsciously support the suspicion many people have that homosexuality is a deviant sexual disease along the same lines as incest.

    Here is another laughable excerpt I’m surprised you didn’t list in your post: “…although I’m all for gay marriage, its spreading legality worries me a little. After all, if gay couples nationwide can marry, then what will happen to the rights and benefits of significant brothers like us, Mr. and Mr. Jeffrey and Lawrence Forbes-Forbes?”

  2. 2 c.

    Everyone’s entitled to his or her story. It’s hard to pass any sort of valid judgment on anyone’s experiences.

    Yet I do wonder: Why did the Times like this story? Was it the writing? In which case what are the standards the Times is using nowadays? Or was it the strangely unexplored/unrecognized dysfunction which seems to permeate the piece? This kind of reading feels voyeuristic, rather than insightful, as if one is eavesdropping on the private, incomplete musings of a therapy session, rather than communing with a carefully considered tale of personal evolution. As such, it’s slightly embarrassing, rather than redemptive. Did the editor understand this? If not, why? If so, was this his stab at the publishing equivalent of Reality TV — to cynically mock both author and readership in the guise of “personal interest?”

    I’m glad you let go of the Modern Love project. Calling attention to the calcified heterosexism of modern-day institutions (e.g., The Times) has its place, but you can’t get water from a stone. At least there’s Frank Rich, whose contributions, if not from the gay voice per se, are more progressive than anything that will come out of Modern Love — a column which clearly has never been about presenting a balanced, let alone sophisticated, perspective on 21st-century relationships.

  3. Thanks for the comments, C and Tim. As we all know, gays are no less immune to the kind of hatred that permeates the rest of society (except for us, it becomes a kind of collective self-hatred); that the piece in question reinforces this (and in a seemingly unconscious way) made me feel sad for the author and angry at the editor (even if, as I suspect, he’s more oblivious than mean-spirited).

  4. 4 Tim

    This article mirrors the relationship I have had with my older brother in an uncannily similar way. My older brother is gay, and while we had our usual sibling rivalries growing up, we are closer than ever now. My brother came out during his sophomore year in college. When he told me in the summer of 1994 that he was gay, my first response was to call him a “fag.” I was 17 at the time and having teenage issues of my own. Maybe I had always suspected that he was gay so when he told me it came as no surprise. I had also been baptized in the homophobia of my peers so there was little chance that I would initially accept his queerness. I was part of a crowd at my CA high school that taunted a gay student to the point that he eventually dropped out and ran away to San Francisco.

    During the trying summer of 1994 my brother and I shed a lot of tears (and even blood) trying to come to terms with something that was bigger than ourselves. Having a gay brother to me was like living in a house that had a large elephant in the family room. It felt threatening and dangerous. Every time relatives came by to visit that summer I couldn’t help thinking that they were really stopping by to marvel at the phenomenon of their newly gay grandson or nephew. It was as if they had never seen a gay person up close before and now they finally had the chance.

    It was humiliating for me to have a gay brother. My friends started to tease me and for a while I went along with it. Then they said things that went against my brotherly instincts. “You should arrange to have him think he’s meeting another gay guy, and then we’ll all ambush him and kick the crap out of him,” they said. Wait a minute? Ambush my own brother and watch him get beat to a bloody pulp? Even though I thought I hated fags at the time, I could never do that!

    Things began to seem more normal after that. My brother was the same brother he had always been except that he was gay. It was like Kafka’s character Joesph K. in THE TRIAL. He was the same person as ever except that he carried a new distinction, a new way to identify himself and think of himself. I started to drift away from my old pack of friends and they miraculously left me alone for the most part.

    The battlefront shifted from my social circle to the home. For nearly a month I just sat around the house watching MTV and I was forced to be with my brother more than I wanted to be. I couldn’t ignore his new gayness, and being a tease growing up, I felt I now had a new weapon to tease him with. I started to let the insults fly and he let my words roll off his back for a while. But then he unleashed his older sibling furry and we started to clash. He chased me down the hallway once and sat atop my chest and punched me in the face three times. Tears were streaming from his eyes. “Why do say these things to me! Don’t you know I love you.” I was crying and bleeding. It was the first time I realized that my brother was not going to change. He was a new person and I couldn’t just fling the usual old insults at him like I used to.

    We fought like this for weeks. One time I took some of his most cherished books and lit them on fire. Another time I tried to kick him in the groin and he chased me outside with a knife screaming like a mad man. I was so scared that I walked around all day in hundred degree heat because I was too scared to go home and face him. He desperately wanted to leave and fly back East but he couldn’t afford a plane ticket. My parents never witnessed the worst fights we had so they calmly tried to reconcile things in the evening with non-effective counseling.

    Then we got a call that our oldest brother had died. He was living in Boston at the time, and during a trip to the Catskills one weekend he shot himself. Everyone who knew him said he was acting normal and happy and nobody could have suspected that he would go to his hotel and end everything. My family was confused. I had a gay brother to deal with, a dead brother to deal with. It was all too much. We shed tears of mourning now. I forgot about my brother’s gayness and cried harder than I ever had with him in my life.

    Two weeks after my brother’s memorial service some of my old friends threw a rock through my gay brother’s window. I remember running outside with a baseball bat prepared to defend my brother to the death. If he hadn’t stopped me there’s no telling what I would have done.

    Any way, this is how my brother and I came together before almost being torn apart forever. We are as close as the siblings in this week’s Modern Love column and only death could ever separate us again. In fact, we may be closer than the author and his younger sibling because my brother and I experienced transforming challenges and hardships. The road to our current relationship is potholed by bloody battles and losses. Ours is a story of survival, rebirth and resurrection. I truly know now that gayness is not a disease, it is not a genetic flaw that can be cured or, as many believe, a deviant and perverted lifestyle. People do not embrace gayness out of fear, loneliness or misguided lusts. Being gay is as natural as being black, Asian or Jewish.

    And I know there will be more battles ahead.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Tim — it sounds like you’ve been through some real shit and have done a lot of thinking about it. Good luck going forward…

  6. the return of son of Thanks for Running a Gay Piece, Modern Love, Too Bad It Reads Like a Stereotypical Freak Scene):
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/fashion/04love.html

  7. 7 tim

    i understand what you’re saying here. but only about 10 percent of the larger population is gay. in new york city (manhattan) it’s higher. it looks like about 5 percent of the columns are on gay themes. that’s not proportional, but it’s not that far off. they should twice as many. fine.


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