Catfight! Out & Gawker Face Off Over Katy Perry

There’s a gay media/blogger clusterfuck pile-on going on over Out editor Aaron Hicklin’s decision to put Katy Perry of “I Kissed a Girl” fame on the cover of his Out 100 list — and we want in. Because you’re more interested in bitchy comments than the long-drawn out cold war leading up to them, here’s a quick recap of story so far:

Every year, Out makes a list of a hundred or so people who they deem to be the most important gays in the village and make them dress up in silly costumes so as to sell a lot of magazines. [Full Disclosure: Queerty’s David Hauslaib appeared on here two Out 100s ago.] This year, Hicklin put Perry on a chair surrounded by honest-to-goodness homos Gus Van Sant, Sam Sparro and Cheyenne Jackson on the cover. The problem is, that strictly speaking, kissing a girl one time and making an incredibly popular song about it, does not get you a gay card, according to Richard Lawson of Gawker. He penned a manifesto in which he says:

Her song “I Kissed a Girl” is a paean to girls getting drunk and sucking mug with other girls while their boyfriends watch. I don’t want to sound uppity, but it’s kind of a shitty song with a shitty message–that cutesy fake homosexuality is silly fun and good for attracting boys. So it pisses me off a bit that she’s on the cover of Out magazine’s “Out 100” issue this month. Why is this tittering dykesploitationist worthy of gay hero status?


Today, over on Popnography [More Full Disclosure: Your editor has written for Popnog about a bazillion times, but only about frivolous things like Rachel Maddow, Janet Jackson and gay marriage], Hicklin fires off a few rounds of his own in a post titled “Dear Gawker, Kiss Off” :

Like Madonna, as the heated reaction to Lawson’s post (15,000+ views) suggests, Perry is exactly the kind of musician who throws up a mirror to our conflicted, puritanical attitude to sex and sexuality. Thus both gay and Evangelical puritans alike consider her a menace because she doesn’t play the game they need her to; she thinks kissing a girl is fun, but not life-changing, earth-shattering, or worth feeling guilty about, and that won’t wash with today’s separatists. For many of us that kind of uncomplicated attitude is a breath of fresh air. For Lawson, weird punctuation and all, it came down to this: “In this world, at this time. It seems awfully… empty to me.”

Ha ha! Aaron Hicklin knows how to use an ellipsis and Richard Lawson doesn’t! Score one for the post-gays. Unfortunately, Hicklin’s argument boils down to something along the lines of ‘It’s a fucking pop song, asswipe, get over it”, which is not exactly the sort of rigorous use of logic Hicklin’s English professor’s would approve of. “Newsflash: pop music is often awfully empty, and people are always complaining about it” is a sort of weak argument for putting someone on the cover of the Big Gay magazine’s Big Gay Issue.

Queerty’s take on this, The Most Pressing Issue In The World? Who cares?

Lawson acts like the inclusion of Perry is some grand betrayal, when in reality, Out‘s been putting hetero’s on the cover long before Hicklin took over. Magazines are in the business of making money and for some reason gay people seem to buy more gay magazines when straight people are on the cover. At least now, Hicklin’s picking interesting folks like Pete Wentz and Perry. Anybody who has a statement from Focus on the Family made about how they’re sending a “high-profile message to young women and men that our sexuality is a malleable commodity that can be reshaped at will” is plenty enough gay for us.

Do you have to be a guy who sucks cock or a girl who eats muff to be part of the queer community? If that’s our standard, then we’re saying screwed up messes like Ted Haggard are closer to our community than all the straight folks who came out to march with us in New York and L.A. last night–which is stupid and self-defeating.

If anything, the gay community needs more allies, not less. The only shibboleth needed to gain entry to the rainbow land of fagdom should be a willingness to be an ally in the fight to open people’s minds about sexuality and gender. By that token, Katy Perry has every right to stand with a bunch of ‘mo’s on the cover of Out.

Lawson thinks he’s being a good soldier for the gay cause, but forgets that we are a minority. He’s absolutely right that now is a unique and pivotal time in the gay movement, but fails to see that what makes it unique is that the values we’ve been espousing for years are finally percolating into the mainstream of America. Katy Perry is as good a reflection of that as anyone.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled revolution.