On the Search for Relevance

06Feb09

In which The Gay Recluse questions his brand.

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When we started blogging, we didn’t really know anything about the internet, much less “bloggable memes.” Until then, like most people in our demographic, we had spent our time on nytimes.com and our “Yahoo home page.” But we quickly discovered internet traffic, and modified the blog to include many “gimmicks” to attract as many page views as possible. We wrote about the need for gentrification in the Heights, we made fun of str8s in the Style Section of The Times and most notably, we posted pix of “hot gay statues” from around the universe.

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But this year our interest in gimmicks has faded. We like to tell everyone that our blog is “growing up,” but this raises a difficult question: can you still be “a relevant blog” if your traffic is growing at <1 percent/year (or if your “authority” on Technorati is <500)?

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Also: do you think it’s a mistake to be a “gay blog” instead of a “literary blog (written by a geighehgihay)?” Technorati reports that “to be gay walls off close to 90 percent of internet users, and 98.7 percent of ‘serious literary readers.'” Given this, do you think we should “downplay” the gay side of the blog — maybe rebrand as “The Guy Recluse”? — to make our blog more “palatable” or should we go “all out” and post pictures of David Beckham and other “str8dbags” like you see on the “leading” gay blogs?

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Or is it too late, so that we’ll always exist on the fringes of the blogosphere (and never make enough $ from Google Ads to “quit our job”)?

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4 Responses to “On the Search for Relevance”

  1. 1 orinink

    i think bi is the new gay and “the recluse” is sufficient because everyone feels like that.if the label of being “gay” is going to margenalize your project by all means expand on it by
    being inclusive.certainly you are good enough writers.You have your fingers on the pulse of something that is missing even in gay print here,that is culture and literature and criticism,with a bit of humor thrown in.A bit more on music ,would be nice,no one is reviewing gay culture,not promoting it but reviewing it.Gay bands,directors old and new,If you decide to mix in non-gay subjects,who am i to complain,the more knowledge the better.

  2. As a senior citizen, I must say — pace Orinink — that bi has been the new gay off and on for several decades now. It keeps rearing its rather interesting, sexy and fun head and making people — gays and straights — angry, because it doesn’t quite fit so nicely into something easy-to-label. It’s nothing new, however, though it must appear so to the young.

    But is Orinink also right about there needing to be more said/done/written on gay culture? Or will that simply further separate us from straights. Why not just include us in “culture.” (We’re there anyway,) Of course, it is so true that labeling something gay generally sends 90% or more of the population heading for the exits.

    On that note, I just watched, back to back, two new movies out on DVD that address this to some extent: “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom,” the movie spin-off of the Logo show, which is completely gay, and truly, not very good: overwrought, preachy, cliche-ridden and silly. And yet: the vows taken at the end of film are wonderfully written and worth sitting through the movie for. On the other hand, an ostensibly “straight” film like “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” offers a set of gay characters unlike anything I have heretofore seen in a film (certainly not in a “straight” movie): These guy are a delight; funny, sweet and about as real as anything in a feel-good fantasy like this can get. Nick and Norah’s… , I should think, is a must-see for gays, while giving straights a little nudge toward more inclusivity. On that note: there are two other interesting British films that push the envelope in this direction: Guy Ritchie’s latest, “RocknRolla,” and the humdinger documentary “A Very British Gangster.” Stick all these on your Changing Culture list.

    Any addressing of culture that sticks either to the gay or the straight is going to be woefully cramped. So open up and fly right, embracing it all and figuring out how, where and why it fits together….

  3. I dunno, what’s the point of the blogwhoring, really? Unless you really go for it a la Google Ads and try to make a living, is there any point to getting tons of traffic? I thought about really giving it a try at one point, but then I figured that once I got 1,000 hits a day I’d be gaming for 10,000, then 100,000, then trying to get on Oprah’s Blog Club, then whatever. There’s always a horizon, no matter how fast you’re running. Now I just blog to amuse my three friends who still read it.

    But do you have ends in mind for this means? Snarky journa-job? Gawker editorship? Trans-Body-of-Water fame?

  4. 4 c.

    Rottin’s questions are good. (He may actually have a fourth reader here.)

    I would add: Should gay interests “expand” (even more) to “include” the straighter world at large? There are bi people, and straight people, for sure. There are also gay people. A gay slant on culture and literature (not to mention NYC existence) is crystallizing. At least for the __% of readers who aren’t repelled by non-heterosexuality or the arts.

    I find the combination of the word “gay” in the blog title with erudite cultural commentary in the content to be radical. (Still.) Perhaps that does damn the site to obscurity, or at least to a dependency on “gimmicks,” for traffic.

    Yet, gimmicks aside, I can’t quite imagine how the Recluse could de-gay to any real degree, and still say what he has to say. So we come back to the baseline questions: What do you want to say? And to whom?


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