Friday, September 10, 2004

“Playing it straight”

It’s particularly mean of Seven to be running this up against “Kath & Kim” (albeit in repeat), but nonetheless last night I did my patriotic duty as an Aussie poof, and sat down to watch the premiere local episode of the American reality format.

The show previews I read generally drew attention to the cruel impact of its premise/twist on protagonist Rebecca Olds. After watching the first ep, I reckon that the show does raise some ethical concerns, but these only touch upon the person of Rebecca. For one thing, the twist is revealed almost at the start of the show (c.f. "Miriam"), meaning that Rebecca could have bailed then and there*. Rather more vulnerable, in fact, are the luckless straight guys evicted by Rebecca for being too poofy – of whom there were two last night, and no doubt more to come.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Seven is also the television home of Ian Thorpe Inc; Thorpie of course being the nation’s best-known poofy straight male (Disclaimer as to the last-mentioned adjective: that is if you take his word for it).

Anyway, last night did get me thinking about the plight of poofy straight guys more generally. It’s not like this issue is right up there with the Big Ones like terrorism, but nor is it going away. As gay becomes mainstream, poofy straight guys have got increasingly caught-up in a wedge – do they constantly, vocally protesteth their case (while trying to remember to keep their hand gestures in check as they do so) or do they just give up and settle for blissfully uncomplicated, if sexually-barren, solace in poofterdom?

The answer here, I suspect, depends on the one-stop-shop where all straight guys find their answers – it’s up to what their mates say. Here, of the two evictees last night, one appears likely to never live it down. Sam – you’re almost gayer-acting than Ian Thorpe, and it was no mistake or whim of Rebecca’s by which you were evicted. Your mates have presumably carefully shielded you – because it shields them – from seeing yourself in this way, but now you’ve gone and blown it for everyone. A float on next year’s Mardi Gras beckons, I’m afraid.

Simon, the other straight evictee, has less to fear from his mates, methinks. A Melbourne boy of the type I spent half my 20s with a hopeless crush on, what Rebecca (thought she) saw in him will be nothing new or shameful to his mates. Simon is that kind of guy who will kiss you passionately and publicly at a club, but then infuriatingly won’t go home with you because he’s not into guys – and politely and at length apologise for this fact. Simon, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the reason your mates will be giving you only the gentlest of ribbings over this one is because they all badly want to get into your pants themselves, and have ever since that time on the hike at Timbertop.

Will Rebecca’s gaydar continue to fail her so that she inevitably ends up picking a poof as The One (and so missing out on the cash)? I suspect so – one clue that she’s missed out on the cash is that she’s back to working where she was pre-show**, as a barmaid at Darwin’s Vic Hotel (take it from me, it’s a dive: think a military-meets-backpackers clientele).

Update – Thorpie, if you are gay, you only need to swim in this guy’s wake

Reading this piece on how few gay/lesbian/whatever Olympians there were this year made me realise how few excuses Thorpie may have. Gay Dutch swimmer Johan Kenkhuis, who won a silver medal at the Games, came out earlier this year, seemingly with very little fuss. OTOH, looking at his photo, I find this lack of fuss somewhat disconcerting – he’s an el delirio internacional indeed, if you ask me.

* No legally-enforceable release she might have earlier signed could compel the specific performance of the contract, nor, in the circumstances, expose her to more than nominal damages if she decided to bail.

** The show was filmed in April/May.

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