Middle America has nobody to identify with in the homosexual community. Not many gay people live in Podunk, Miss., and as a consequence many Podunkians don’t like gay people very much.
And like Podunk, all of the U.S. is becoming increasingly hostile to gays and lesbians. Eleven states amended their constitutions last year, permanently denying property and inheritance rights to a sizable class of U.S. citizens.
Rural voters felt comfortable doing this, because the only gay people they see are on television – and most of them are women. There’s nothing new in limiting women’s rights, you know.
Rosie O’Donnell, Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres are fine as lesbian role models, but they are not enough to make a rural Podunkian think gays are normal.
What they need to see is a male superstar who is strong, witty and talented – someone they look up to – admit he is gay.
Not some new star who uses his sexuality as an identification point, but an established celebrity who also happens to be gay – someone any Podunkian can identify with.
We need an action star hero who saves the girl from a spectacular helicopter crash, beats up bad guys, shoots lots of guns, and is coincidentally gay off-screen.
Imagine the effect this will have on potbellied Podunkians, when they realize that even the manliest of men (who is even manlier than they are) is gay. They will easily accept the gay culture as normal as soon as they are given this hero.
Maybe that hero already exists. Maybe one of Hollywood’s best-known actors is in the closet. Maybe he lives publicly as a straight man, bouncing around between young starlet girlfriends, to keep the fa�ade.
All we need is for this staple of Hollywood cinema to come out of the closet. He may fear that this will ruin his career, but on the contrary, it would elevate him to legendary status. His revelation will also move the gay community forever into the “normal” realm of public consciousness, advancing his own cause and his own rights.
This superstar could already be out there, waiting, in the closet. Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that it’s Tom … Selleck. Cruise with me on this for a minute. Tom Selleck was in the movie “In & Out,” and broke new ground by kissing Kevin Kline onscreen, the first time two major male actors had done such a thing. His career was not ruined. It could easily be said that that movie helped allow gay male sexual orientation further into the public consciousness.
What could the worst fallout be if this Tom, or any Tom, revealed he is gay and had been for decades? Would anyone think Magnum, PI was a wimpy little fairy? No! They would recognize that gay men could be stronger and tougher than the average man, worthy of admiration, respect and even awe. If little-minded people were given this new factor, they would not see “them gays” as strange, blue-state city folk who are no different than child molesters. Magnum, PI – a rough-and-tumble, everyday guy, a cop, a working stiff, who is brave, and strong, and human, and real! And he’s gay! He’s normal! How can you deny property rights to Magnum, PI? You can’t. He’d kick your ass for it.
All the little Americans need is a hero, a gay hero, that they already believe in. Give them one, and they will cruise on to the tolerance that this country is supposed to be about.
We have enough action heroes. Only once in a century do we get those unexpected, culture-changing revelations that we so desperately need right now.
Chaelan MacTavish can be reached at [email protected].