Have no fear, it’s just a queer!
The November issue of PSU’s monthly conservative magazine, The Spectator, features a most interesting full-page ad on its penultimate page. It’s a picture of an Asian dude marching down the street, wearing nothing but a leather belt and boots, spangly silver bikini briefs and sunglasses, and silver bands around his neck, upper right arm and wrist. He also has a mass of black balloons attached to his back and carries a toy laser gun that looks like a prop from the original Star Trek, precariously positioned right over his crotch. It looks like a still from a glam, sci-fi porn film, if they make those.
The accompanying text reads: “Don’t let them scare you. You DO Have A Voice On Campus.” And then the red, white and blue elephant emblem of the Republican National Committee below the picture, along with contact info and meeting times for PSU’s College Republicans.
The first time I saw this ad, I was completely mystified. My first thought was that this was one of the College Republicans or someone who writes for the Spectator who had posed for the ad, and my heart fell. That’s because, I must confess, dude is hot. He’s all slim and toned and wiry, and if the opposition is starting to look that good, I’d have to question my political allegiance, which is a very time- and energy-consuming thing to have to do. Simply put, this guy is too crazysexycool to be a Republican.
Imagine my relief, then, when I mentioned the ad to Josh Gross, editor of the Rearguard, and he said it must be a picture from the Gay Pride Parade. Sweet Jesus! I’m saved!
There remain some unanswered questions, though. What exactly is going on in this ad? It’s an image of one of the Republicans’ main bogeymen, The Evil Gay. Like that other GOP-conjured horror figure, The Abortion Witch – who lives only to conceive and then have the pleasure of terminating her pregnancy – The Evil Gay is out to destroy the flawless, heterosexual tapestry of society.
He’ll zap “family values” with his laser gun. His mission is nothing less than the total destruction of the American family. He probably has AIDS and is a child molester, too. If the Apocalypse finally does arrive tomorrow, The Evil Gay will be largely responsible. You think you’re hot now? Wait till you’re roasting in Hell!
Why this particular image, though? There’s something undeniably hot about our scantily-clad Asian spaceman, and considering that a cursory glance at the names list of the Spectator staff and contributors shows them to be about 75% male, one can’t help wondering if there was something else going on, on a subliminal level – maybe something these guys couldn’t even bring themselves to admit. If I was an amateur, unlicensed psychologist (weird!), I’d be tempted to suggest that some subconscious homoerotic impulses were at work when this particular image was selected for such prominent display in the Spectator. Pure speculation, of course. Or, perhaps I should say, impure speculation.
One can’t help feeling sorry for the Spectator staff when one looks at this ad. Who would be afraid of this guy? What exactly is so scary about him? That he isn’t wearing much clothing? That he isn’t conforming to the nice little gender roles we like to squeeze people into? That he’s flaunting his fabulousness and looking damn good while doing it? Yet this is what conservative Republicans and theocratic wingnuts across the nation are afraid of. They’re afraid, and they want you to be afraid, too. To them, this guy and thousands of his brethren who march through downtown Portland every June are a type of terrorist. To borrow a phrase from Karen Minnis, they represent the “national gay network,” which the right invokes at every opportunity in order to activate its easily manipulated base.
The more disturbing subtext of the Spectator ad is, “Don’t let the liberal majority stop you from talking shit about gays!” The Spectator writers present themselves as an injured minority, seeming to suggest that we should feel sorry for these poor Republicans, who haven’t exactly been powerless for the last six years. These are the kind of people who believe homophobia doesn’t exist, even as they prove that it does with their words and actions – and with ads like the one in the Spectator.
Fundamentalists have no sense of humor, as I’ve often noted. Maybe that’s the source of their problematic attitude toward reality. Of course, the Spectator might have selected a provocative image in order to garner them some attention. They’ve done it before, as with their controversial “Illegal Immigrants ARE Terrorists” cover last June, which garnered them a lot of attention including a news piece in this paper. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Well, I’ve always believed it’s inhumane to withhold attention from those who desperately crave it. It may backfire on them in this case, though. For instance, there are probably some people who would be willing to start reading the Spectator if they’ll continue to provide softcore homo porn, but I don’t think that’s the type of reader they’re really aiming for.
It’s sad that anyone would feel threatened by this. We should all feel sorry for anyone so repressed, or so afraid of freedom, that the sight of someone truly liberated strikes fear in their hearts. Honestly, this isn’t an attack; it’s an attempt to defuse political conflicts with humor. Republicans, Spectators, beleaguered American families everywhere, heed my words: take a deep breath; relax. There is nothing to be afraid of! Really, you’re missing the point completely. It isn’t supposed to be scary, it’s supposed to be fun.