Jay Leno’s “Manliness” Doesn’t Measure Up

Lil’ gay boys have it rough.

A survey out of England indicates that young men face more homophobic bullying than their female peers. This should come as no surprise. As musician Quentin Harris suggested this morning, there’s more pressure on men not to seem weak.

Yes, he was talking about the hip-hop scene, but we say that’s a pretty universal rule: men are meant to act like men, and those who don’t will face the consequences. Lawrence King’s widely covered murder perfectly highlighted the perpetual assault on feminine men.

What a perfect time, then, for homo hip-hop artist, Q-Boy, to come out against bullying. And, on an even bigger scale, the uproar against Jay Leno.

Q-Boy traveled to British schools this week to speak out against schoolyard taunts, saying:

When being bullied as a teenager never did I imagine it would play such an important part of my dream career of being a performer. It feels good to turn my unhappy experience into something positive and hopefully help other people going through similar experiences.

Homophobia doesn’t just affect those who are gay or perceived to be gay, it affects all of us and it is a problem we all need to help resolve. In the end, every one of us strives to live in a society which is happy and accepting of one another.

Real men – and women – in the bullying battle are the ones who stand up for the little guy. It may seem banal, but Q-Boy’s remarks remind us of an older, oft-quoted statement from Martin Luther King, Jr: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Kids aren’t the only ones picked on the lavender set. Comedian Jay Leno caused a stir last month when he asked actor Ryan Phillippe, who played gay on As The World Turns One Life To Live, to give the camera his “gayest look.” (See video above.)

Avenue Q creator Jeff Whitty retaliated by giving Leno his own gayest look: the middle finger. Whitty’s wry response has since spawned a website, My Gayest Look, from which we’ve selected a few of our favorites and included in a gallery below. Leno’s spokes folk offered People no comment.

Sure, Leno wasn’t bullying a gay, but his flippancy sends the same pejorative message as any taunt. It seems to us that the people “speaking out” against Leno are far more “manly” than the comedian, which may explain his motorcycle hobby.

Update: Leno issued a half-assed apology. Via People: “In talking about Ryan’s first role, I realize that what I said came out wrong. I certainly didn’t mean any malice. I agree it was a dumb thing to say, and I apologize.”