Gay Sex

Now that I’ve got your attention…

This past week I was exposed to two expositions related to characters of two of my favorite shows (that sentence was a mouthful, but it’s not done yet), “Weeds” and “Mad Men” (it’s quotes, right?). While I find it admirable and satiating that Elizabeth Perkins is finally shedding her indelible role from “Big” as Tom Hanks’ unknowingly pedophillic lover, I feel as though her character, Celia Hodes, is taking a turn for the worst in her storyline on the show.

In all of the wacky twists and turns of the show, and even despite it’s already not-so-latent homosexual overtures of some of its characters, the random and sex-driven way this discovery comes about it borderline appalling. Celia’s daughter, Isabelle, is the primary out of the closet gay in the show and she is a character who is all of maybe thirteen years-old. Celia meets Raylene, a corrupt proprietor of “You’re Pretty” cosmetics who bamboozles housewives and single women into believing that they can pawn off glamorous lifestyles to their peers. Raylene is the evangelist and the devil that comes to save Celia’s day/life.

Matter-of-factly she states to another character on the show (Doug, the wannabe womanizer), “Sorry, I dig snatch”. Standing alone, it’s one of the best line’s uttered by any of the characters in the show, but put into the context of the story, it is a precursor for the wretched stereotype that is to come.

Raylene’s blatant come-on to Celia included a very funny and necessary albeit melodramatic action in which Raylene takes Celia’s hand at lunch and proceeds to pull it under the table and up her skirt. Celia claims to her adolescently gay daughter that she is “lonely” when considering hooking up with Raylene. Later, they go shopping and have an awkward moment at the door to Celia’s place. An erratic kiss ensues, and Celia shares her dumbfounded curiosity regarding strap-ons.

What do we learn from this?

True, in times of loneliness, they’re measures that we take to relieve said loneliness. That feeling of helplessness and neediness that can only be assuaged by the attention and affection of another. But this demonstration raises not only one’s consciousness of the hilarity of the situation but the argument of the source of homosexuality. There is the nature versus nurture adage which is becoming more and more old-fashioned as people are starting to realize that you can be a right winged religious nazi and still have a gay son. There is genetics and evolution; let’s not forget that science plays a part in this too and to me, the most evidential research has been done on twins
(see http://www.echelonmagazine.com/index.php?id=173 and http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2008/2314505.htm).

It is my belief that we are all mammals here. We learn from circumstances and through our own desires to suppress one urge over the other. There are people who go their whole lives without ever having one homosexual thought or desire, but we all know what attractiveness is in our own minds. For me, I always knew that I was different and that I was meant to be with a man emotionally and sexually, but it wasn’t until the 1990’s that I denounced my bisexuality. It is not to say that I don’t feel as though it is inherent in all of us, I just think that it is such a multifaceted paradigm, that there is no way to pinpoint its cause. There are so many factors.

On Mad Men (TV shows are italicized), there is one of one of all of the best characters on the show, Salvatore Ramano. The actor, Bryan Batt, is an openly gay man (funny and sad that term “openly” gay) who of course had qualms about being “out” when his career took off in the mid 1990s, has played roles as openly gay men in Jeffery and Kiss Me, Guido. In the show, that takes place in the early 1960s, Salvatore is not necessarily struggling, but dealing with being a married “heterosexual” man without child in a competitive New York executive environment. The slow and tortuous expositions of the characters have been genius up until the writers decided to blow their wad.

On the season premiere, Sal is confronted by a bellboy who is fixing his air conditioning in his hotel room. Since Sal is on a business trip with his womanizing, sex God of a boss, Don Draper, he is feeling loose and lost all at once, all while trying to fit into that heterosexual world of flirting with stewardesses and waitress and engaging in guy talk with his peer. Abruptly, the bellboy is in Sal’s face and they are breathing heavy and the sexual tension is palpable through the screen. While it was no surprise to see Bryan Batt play the scene so expertly, it was a fast, cheap and despicable way to develop the character’s desires and his situation on the show. Before long, the bellboy had his hand’s down Salvatore’s boxers as they kissed and he said with exasperated breath “Oh my God” over and over again. Then the fire alarm went off and he got caught by his boss. So unexpected.

What amuses me about Mad Men so much is not only its wondrous art direction, or its auspicious slow-and-steady writing, or its wonderful cast; it is also because it is such a period piece. The show does a great job of catching the essence of the 1960s, or at least, that Madison Avenue vibe and decorum that exuded such ambition, creed, tumult and intrigue. It was a time where civil rights was this newly bred embryo and no one knew what to feed it, where it was going to go, what it would look like when it came out. Closeted men and women have struggled since the dawn of time, and during this time, right after the war and after women stopped working and went back to housemaking, homosexuality once again emerged as a cocoon.

I’m lucky. I don’t have a family or a religion or an overbearing desire to reproduce. I wouldn’t consider myself flamboyant, but I am by no means in the closet in most of my endeavors but still, it’s like the proverbial autopilot that we all endure – when you don’t curse in front of grandma. Sometimes I have to force myself to act less-gay. We all do it. We do it for our jobs, we do it for our in-laws, we do it to get better service, we do it not to offend anyone, we do it so people won’t hate us. We have such a long way to go.

There are other shows that I like that have gay characters. There’s the gay son on The United States of Tara which I believe has the best cast on television right now. There’s Lafayette on True Blood who plays a positive portrayal of a gay man considering the actual pith and debauchery of the show.

But why does it all boil down to sex? Celia and her dildo, Sal and his random sex fling with an anonymous stranger. I was offended when the opening scene of Milk started with way too much sexuality and not enough dialog. Gay people use their mouths in other ways. To talk to each other first sometimes. Right? Or do they?

Don’t gays fall in love? Remember Will & Grace? Sure, that show was way ahead of its time and totally fantastical AND it was the perfect exemplification of that odd non-romance love between a gay man and his fag hag. Why can’t we have a date, then dinner, then maybe sex. If it all works out. If I take my life into account, I guess it is an accurate account of art imitating life, but why must the sex thrust so hard into the situation? Why. Someone tell me why.

The funny thing is, I haven’t read up on any backlash about the male gay sex on television. The girls I know love it, of course. I wonder how many men it freaks out. That’s something that I hope men will understand someday: women do get turned on by guy-on-guy action just the way men get turned on my girl-on-girl. I wonder then, why can’t we all just get along? With our clothes on, of course.

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