We took one look at the cover of the new issue of The Advocate, with “Gay is the New Black: The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle” plastered across its face and said “Wait til they get a load of this!” Then we opened (read: clicked) the story and saw that it’s actual title is “Gay is the New Black?“ Note the added punctuation, which transforms a radical statement into a vacillating question. We thought it had to be a typo, but the introduction proved that once again, The Advocate was about to fall back to its default position of trying to please everybody by saying nothing offensive, controversial or of consequence:
“In the wake of California’s passage of Proposition 8, protests are popping up around the country — and so are comparisons between gays’ and African-Americans’ fights for equality. Is gay the new black? “
You just said it was! In big self-important capitalized letters!Â Why are you promising the declarative when what’s on the menu is an interrogative? Our heart had the same sinking feeling it had the first time we opened a Cracker Jack box to find that the surprise was nothing more than a cheaply printed stamp.
We can’t really blame author Michael Joseph Gross for hedging on such a charged statement, but you want answers and that’s what Queerty is all about. So, we baked his story into an easy to digest pie chart by breaking up his various equivocating sentiments by word count to get a definitive answer. Also, because we knew you weren’t going to read it anyway.
As you can see, based on our rigorous pseudo-scientific analysis, by a wide margin, gay is indeed the new black. It’s disappointing that the article is not the cri de coeur the moment calls for–and that the cover implies we’ll get. We’re very cognizant that there’s a fine line between journalism and activism, but when your name is The Advocate, you’re given permission to make big, bold statements from time to time– and especially at this time.Â This bit is especially ironic:
A marching band played show tunes — “If My Friends Could See Me Now” — and a drag queen screamed, “The problem with living in a bubble is that bubbles burst!” She was fierce, and I was moved, but I also wondered why she was the one on the news that night, why this movement still doesn’t have a Martin Luther King Jr., a telegenic, brilliant spokesperson to whom all of America can relate. The dedication of movement organizers has brought us a long way, but we are now in desperate need of a willing leader with solid media sense, a palpable inner core, an ability to navigate the game of hardball politics, and the balls to step forward and be our public face.
Speaking of balls, that’s a whiff if ever there was one. It’s ironic because the cover promises balls, but the story is without and it’s also ironic because Gross disparages a drag queen as not being the sort of leader he would like, when it was drag queens at Stonewall who first had the balls to lead the gay movement out of the closet in the first place. It’s an oversight that cheapens his call for leadership into a call for a palatable, mainstream face we can present to the straight world, which of course is what The Advocate tries to do each and every issue. Note to magazine: When did you lose your balls? You are the very leader you’re crying out for– or at least you used to be, half-a-dozen owners ago. It can’t help that your current owner, Paul Colichman said of his last attempt at gay publishing, the now defunct Here! Magazine:
“We did the magazine purely as a publicity piece for the network. We’re not in the magazine business. It’s a really saturated and very difficult market. I really have zero desire to be in the magazine business in any serious way. We simply use it as a marketing piece as we would a flier or a handout.”
But look, The Advocate is trying to make a statement and break out of its comfort zone– or at the very least the guy who designed the cover is trying — and that counts for something.Â So, we’re giving the The Advocate a little nudge off the cliff through the clarifying power of clever pie charts. Gay is the new black, no question about it. The Advocate said so. You can start arguing now.