On the Search for Gay Modern Love: February 9, 2008 (College Students Beware!)


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 Valley of Misery Between Peaks of Joy

Subject: In this column — an annual Valentine’s Day feature — Modern Love editor Daniel Jones muses about how horrible life is (except for the very old and frail, for whom it cannot be expected to last much longer) and expresses wonder at this most obvious of truths. We were more interested to note his assertion that: “This [sense of happiness exhibited by the old and frail] is in stark contrast to what I hear from those in middle age, where in most cases the writer’s spouse or partner (whether the couple is straight or gay, married or not) registers as barely a blip on the radar, and the prevailing mood is one of anxiety.” (Italics ours.) Thus we have evidence that Jones is in fact hearing from gay couples, and yet he has been inclined to print exactly one column (out of 165) written by an openly gay person about life as a part of a couple (this by a lesbian about her Ozzie-and-Harriet relationship, over three years ago.)

Jones also uses today’s column to announce a “Modern Love College Essay Contest” open to “college students nationwide.” (Btw, the contest has the dumbest logo ever, with the words written out over an elementary-school heart.) He frames the challenge in the following manner: “What is love, in this age of 24/7 communication, blurred gender roles and new ideas about sex and dating? (Italics ours.) Hmm. Are we the only ones struck by his interest in blurred gender roles when you consider his dismal record publishing same-sex relationship stories? Does it not seem to imply that gender-bending belongs to college kids and not adults, who like him should be married with children, ensconced in the misery of a suburban existence? And does this not seem to be his problem with the gays, who actively flout this ethos in our obsessive zeal for the decorative arts, cats and alpine gardening (instead of growing up and having children)?

To those three college students who may be actively considering Jones’ contest, we offer the following advice: Submit your essays but beware! Jones and his column represent the worst pressures of stereotypical conformity, mired in shallow optimism that ultimately gives way to a few seconds of dull relief and resignation before you die. Far better to embrace a philosophic pessimism, so that you can at least appreciate the pleasures of true introspection, the very specter of which is so terrifying to Jones and his narrow-minded ilk.

Filed under: n/a [We did not count this column (or any of his previous ones) in our ongoing tally, which remains the same.]

The updated tally (or why we feel like animals in the zoo): 6 out of 165 columns by openly gay writers; 1 out of 165 on female gay relationships; 0 out of 165 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.

Outstanding question to Daniel Jones, editor of Modern Love: wtf?

Straight Woman on Relationships iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii ii (37)
Straight Woman on Family iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii (35)
Straight Woman on “Looking for Love” iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii ii (32)
Straight Woman on Breaking Up iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iii (23)
Straight Man on Relationships iiiii iiiii (10)
Straight Man on Breakup iiiiii (6)
Straight Woman on Gay Men iiiii i (6)
Straight Man on Family iiiii (5)
Straight Man on “Looking for Love” iiii (4)
Gay Man on Family ii (2)
Gay Woman on Relationship i (1)
Gay Woman on Family i (1)
Gay Man on Self-Hatred i (1)
Gay Man on Prom Date i (1)
Ambiguous/Nurse on Drugs i (1)

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