A question like that might sound like a typically cynical and anti-heteronormative way to attack one of the most worthless magazines still in publication (ha, barely in publication), but, I mean it! When was the last time you paid for Out? When was the last time you read something in Out (other than what I’m about to copy and paste below)?
The problem with Out isn’t so much that it sexually objectifies straight male celebrities who are gay friendly (although that’s embarrassing enough on its own), it’s that Out still thinks gay men seek validation and acceptance from straight male celebrities. They don’t. And if you do, you shouldn’t.
This month’s issue fawns over five sports stars who all shirtlessly support gay rights, which is both a great way to sell magazines and to irresponsibly further the notion that without the help of straight “allies,” gay people will never be allowed to live the same kinds of lives that straight people do (assuming that’s what gay people want–to be like straight people). There are interviews with these men (who, to be honest, I had never heard of) and it turns out they do all kinds of nice things for the gays.
The world of pro sports is notoriously unwelcoming to out athletes, one of the last bastions of homophobia. From hate-filled fans to teammates who won’t share the showers to bigoted sportscasters, the toxic environment can ruin a career or even end a life. But at the vanguard of a move to change that is a small band of straight sports stars who have stood up for fairness and tolerance, shoulder-to-shoulder with their LGBT peers. Here, we salute them.
With a soccer ball held aloft like a trophy, Mike Chabala of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo became one of the first professional athletes to pose for the powerful NOH8 campaign. “I think all discrimination is completely wrong. I believe in equality, plain and simple,” says Chabala, which is why he was eager to pose as part of Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley’s collection.
A group of gay magazine editors canonizing a straight athlete–for what is essentially the act of not being an asshole–by making him pose with his shirt off (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) is as disingenuous as it is pathetic. And while, again, this is also about a troubled media company trying to sell magazines, there’s something especially disgusting about that company taking an issue as important and emotionally significant as gay rights and tying it to a bunch of shirtless straight guys. Yes, it is very nice that these men like me! I would like them, too, probably. What they are doing is nice. And while the touchy-feely enamoring of hot straight guys is cute, it has in fact been and will continue to be actual Gay People who do the actual work to advance gay rights in this country.
It’s the nameless, faceless, ugly, fat, depressed, hopeless, unemployed, boring gay people who protest outside city halls and state capitals and who make annoying telemarketing phone calls and who start those stupid boycotts on Facebook and who film themselves crying on YouTube and who may have tried to kill themselves once or twice who are doing the actual work, who have the most to lose, and who have put up with more bullshit and more pain than some rich soccer player who once posed with a piece of duct tape over his mouth. Out could be an okay magazine if it reminded its audience of these people, but maybe it doesn’t matter, after all. Because who really is Out’s audience? And why should anyone care what this audience, if it even exists, thinks it knows?
When was the last time you paid for Out? When was the last time you read something in Out? Hopefully, a long, long time ago, if ever. And hopefully, never again.