Writer/incendiary tweeter Bret Easton Ellis has written almost 3,500 words for Out on the media's treatment of gay men and his banning* from last month's GLAAD Awards because of his controversial tweets. These words are angry, self-serving, contradictory, justified, and human beyond gay. Out has agreed to let us to excerpt his essay, which is titled, "In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves." See below.
Was I the only gay man of a certain demo who experienced a flicker of annoyance in the way the media treated Jason Collins as some kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled—and—yes—infantilized by his coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Within the tyrannical homophobia of the sports world, that any man would come out as gay (let alone a black man) is not only an LGBT triumph but also a triumph for pranksters everywhere who thrilled to the idea that what should be considered just another neutral fact that is nobody’s business was instead a shock heard around the world, one that added another jolt of transparency to an increasingly transparent planet. It was an undeniable moment and also extremely cool. Jason Collins is the future. But the subsequent fawning over Collins simply stating he was gay still seemed to me, as another gay man, like a new kind of victimization. (George Stephanopoulos interviewed him so tenderly it was as if he was talking to a six-year-old boy.) In another five years hopefully this won’t matter but for now we’re trapped in the times we live in. The reign of The Gay Man as Magical Elf who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude is— lamentably—still in media play.
The Gay Man as Magical Elf has been such a tricky part of gay self-patronization in the media that you would by now expectthe chill members of the LGBT community to respond with cool indifference. The Sweet and Sexually Unthreatening and Super-Successful Gay is supposed to be destined to transform The Hets into noble gay-loving protectors—as long as the gay in question isn’t messy or sexual or difficult. The straight and gay sanctimoniousness that says everyone gay needs to be canonized when coming out still makes some of us who are already out feel like we’re on the sidelines. I’m all for coming out on one’s own terms but heralding it as the most important news story of the week feels to me, as a gay man, well, kind of alienating. We are apart because of what we supposedly represent because of…our…boring…sexuality—oh man, do we have to go through this again? And it’s all about the upbeat press release, the kind of smiling mask assuring us everything is awesome. God help the gay man who comes out and doesn’t want to represent, who doesn’t want to teach, who doesn’t feel like part of the homogenized gay culture and rejects it. Where’s the gay dude who makes crude jokes about other gays in the media (as straight dudes do of each other constantly) or express their hopelessness in seeing Modern Family being rewarded for its depiction of gays, a show where a heterosexual plays the most simpering ka-ween on TV and Wins. Emmys. For. It? Why isn’t the gay dude I have always known and the gay dude I have always wanted to be not front and center in the media culture now? But being “real” and “human” (i.e. flawed) is not necessarily what The Gay Gatekeepers want straight culture to see...
...Gay activists dive-bombing other gays who express an opinion that doesn’t lean toward their agenda means that within the gay world we are living in a very simplistic place. A barbed observational opinion tweeted by a gay man about gay men in Hollywood—and not directed at anyone—becomes, in the world of GLAAD, hate-speech. When a community prides itself on its differences and uniqueness and bans the gay man because of the way the gay man expresses himself—then a corporate PC fascism has been put into play that needs to be seriously reconsidered by the LGBT community. This is a problem: if you are a gay man who is not The Gay Man as Magical Elf then you run the risk of being ostracized by the elite gay community. An organization holding an awards ceremony that they think represents all gays and also feels that they can choose which gays can and cannot be a member of the party is on the face of it, ridiculous. The fact remains that if you aren’t presenting yourself as a happy homosexual promoting healthy mainstream gay values pimping for GLAAD then you’re somehow defaming The Cause...
...Because of [some] comments, I’ve been accused by a few vocal sections of the gay community of being a “self-loathing” gay man. I might be a little self-loathing at times (I don’t think it’s an unattractive quality btw) but it’s not because I’m gay. I might come off that way because I think life is essentially hard and that scalding humor and rallying against its absurdities is the path on which to move through the world—and sometimes that means making fun of myself or lashing out at media targets in a way that might make it look to a dumbass that I Hate Bret. That a gay man can’t make a joke equating AIDS with Grindr (something my boyfriend and I had used a number of times) without getting punished and being called “self-loathing” is indicative of the new gay fascism. The real shame isn’t the jokey observation. The real shame is the PC gay reaction to the jokey observation. The real shame is that most gay men—who are every bit as hilariously filthy and raunchy and un-pc as their straight male counterparts—have to somehow tow the GLAAD party line in public or else be criticized. A lot of gay men probably feel they can’t be provocatively raunchy or politically incorrect in the mainstream media because it doesn’t represent The Cause. This is where we’re at now, I guess. Within the clenched world of the gay PC police there has been a tightening of the reins. It’s as if in this historic moment for gay men we somehow still need to be babied and coddled and used as shining examples of humanity and objects of fascination—the gay baby panda—and this is a new kind of gay victimization. The fact that it is often being extolled by other gays in the Name Of The Good Cause is doubly stifling.
[Image via Getty]
*Update: GLAAD's Rich Ferraro wrote in to say: "Saw the post on Bret Easton Ellis/GLAAD and in your intro you said he was 'banned.' He was not banned. I was told by his agent via email to replace his name with another person she repped." So that's a new kink.