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Heterosexual Man Ponders Possibility Of Becoming A Gay Icon

My first problem, I was surprised to learn, was that having a penis is un- appealing to gay men’s iconography. Dan Savage, sex columnist and creator of the It Gets Better project, told me that gay icons are almost always beautiful women. This, he said, is “so we can think of all the dudes we could get if we were you. But then you have to have a tragic love life, because it used to be tragic love lives were the only ones we could have.” It’s like the way straight dudes like great athletes but really adore athletes who screw up their lives with their self-destructive tendencies. In other words, if we were decent people who didn’t fear our wives, we would be rallying around Tiger Woods.

—Joel Stein, whose greatest mistake in life was flirting with women who are not his wife, learns why he’ll never become an adored subject of The Gays [via]

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  • Steve

    No idea who this guy is, but his depiction of our society is spot on. Why do we adore Tiger Woods even though he cheated on his wife like a million times? Why do we idolize Chris Brown, who lets his temper take on a physical and abusive form? Why do we rally around Mel Gibson, who had some not so nice thigns to say about… anybody who’s not him?

    Why, when we tout ourselves as upstanding, moral people, do we make heroes out of these people?

  • EdWoody

    @Steve: Well, speak for yourself. I don’t do any of those things.

  • Mac McNeill

    I agree. I think Chris Brown is cute, but I don’t idolize him.

  • Frederick

    I personally do not “rally” around people in the public eye like Tiger Woods, Chris Brown, or (especially) Mel Gibson. However, with that said, I do think there is an element of human nature which can relate to “fallen heros/heroines”, so to speak. Even if you look back at certain ancient Greek tragedies (i.e. Oedipus, Medea, etc;) this same public fascination with this type of archetype seems to have been present in ancient civilizations.

  • David Ehrenstein

    I raly around Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Adams, Peter Paige and other out gay actors but everyone tells me they’ll never be big stars because only closet cases can play romatic leads.

  • zeb

    Joel asked a good question. Why don’t we idolize famous men like we do famous women?

    Is it ONLY because like he said, we imagine the men they’re with or could get?
    I think it has to be more than just that. Cher, Madonna, & Marilyn had their pick but didnt always go for the leading man kind of guy, anyway, did they?

  • DavyJones

    I would imagine it has to do with famous women being able to be more ‘opening supportive’ of our community without having to worry about being labeled a closeted homosexual. As already stated we do tend to rally around openly gay public figures; but such figures rarely attain such fame in general…

  • alan brickman

    What happened to Judy and Marlene…

  • Maury23

    Dan Savage is full of it as usual.

  • Tommy Marx

    Ben Cohen is an amazing advocate for gay rights, and he’s a straight man. An unbelievably good-looking straight man, but still. An entire generation of young straight men, including Daniel Radcliffe and Josh Hutcherson, are speaking out against anti-gay bigotry. Then there’s Neil Patrick Harris and John Barrowman, among many others, that are proving gay men don’t have to hide anymore.

    Gay icons have never been beautiful women, unless one considers Barbra, Cher or Bette as gorgeous in a physical way. Gay icons have been talented, powerful, amazing women who continually fought against a society that insisted women were nothing but dolls.

    But we live in an age where gay icons are more and more actual gay icons. The men who paved the way, the men who don’t judge us for being different, the men who represent the best of society.

    Can we please move past the stereotypes and recognize the people who have truly changed the world?

  • Henrik

    Or could it be because no straight male celebrity (who’s also good looking) really has been seen standing up for gay rights and celebrating the subculture as something positive for more than one event?

    I mean, yeah, some male actors might take a quick dip in the “Yeahwellerh, I support gays, youknow, here’s some money to the cause”, but have Brad Pitt (or even Heath Ledger) really ever associated themselves with “queerness” like Gaga, Madonna and Cher, outside the patented “Gay Role For An Oscar”?

    The only one I can think of in this realm is Henry Rollins – and he IS a gay icon.

    So the answer to Joel Stein would be: You CAN become a gay icon – but you’ll have to speak up about gay people and create an atmosphere of positivity around the subject. And here’s the trick: .. even if it’s not helping your career.

  • Paul

    What a nice mullet….why?

  • Nat


    I have little interest for engaging in the kind of ‘queerness’ you’re implying, so I don’t particularly care if straight male celebrities such as Brad Pitt – who have kicked in hundreds of thousands of dollars towards marriage equality, not to mention come off as completely decent human beings – don’t want to get carted around in an egg wearing garish costumes.

    In fact, I’d rather straight people – particularly straight males – not treat as if we’re a collective bunch of mincing, cardboard stereotypes.

  • Nat


    Also, let’s not kid ourselves. The relationship between gays and the divas was about reciprocity as much as respect. If you’re loyal to your market, they’re loyal to you. I’m not saying that’s the only reason why they were early-vocal supporters of gay rights, but it definitely helps.

  • wtf


  • Joey O'H



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