I’m a big fan of John Oliver and Last Week Tonight. It’s just my type of informative edutainment news show, featuring exactly as much soothing liberal bias as I’m able to tolerate without starting to get suspicious. The show is thoughtfully and factually researched, and presents journalistic narratives about relevant social and political issues with humor and compassion (it would be a much tougher pill to swallow if it was just 30 minutes of ridicule of people who happen to think differently than the show’s core audience).
One of Last Week Tonight’s longest running segments is a voiceover interstitial bit titled “How Is This Still A Thing?” wherein the show’s announcer lays out a situation, person, or event (Daylight Saving Time, Ayn Rand, and Columbus Day are standout editions), and asks, rhetorically, how and why we’re all collectively continuing to put up with these asinine things.
In the past two weeks on Twitter, a weird drama involving some high profile adult entertainers has unfolded, in which everybody manages to make themselves look cruel, small, and petty, while casting stones from inside their own highly polished glass houses. It isn’t the point of my story to relay underlying details, who said what, or how you ought to feel about which side you chose (so if you haven’t been witness to any of it, count your blessings), and I’m not inclined to link to any of that messiness here.
What is the point is my personal astonishment that adult entertainers, and just gays with social followings in general, have the time or inclination for public infighting. I can’t tell if it belies a broad obliviousness, or some other kind of unwillingness to see the state of things in our world right now.
But – seriously – how are Mean Gays still a thing?
We are (all of us) living through an era in which LGBTQI+ rights are stripped away (often silently, if journalists don’t run themselves ragged shouting about it to an apathetic American public), consensual sexual activity between adults is criminalized at a Federal level via sweeping, murkily worded laws about “trafficking,” and – if you’re still in the tiny boat of folks going “but that doesn’t affect meeeee,” – a renewed vigor for this bill that would essentially shut down most all legitimate banking options available to adult entertainers, no matter how legally they operated. Which means, unless your favorite pornstars maintain throbbing erections for volunteering, being paid for porn becomes a thing of the past.
To the parties involved in this particular spat: How do you have the space in your life to devote to dragging down others in this very public way? And how are so many of your followers ready to jump on that bandwagon with you? Do you think about what your words mean after they leave your fingers? Or is being "right" so important that consequences or impacts become moot to you?
To the people who see this kind of shitty behavior constantly normalized online and in gay stereotypes (particularly when the behavior devolves into 'it's because I'm gay' victim status): There are so many people in this world right now who are actively fighting against your specific interests, and the collective interests of humanity, that it seems only the most myopic amongst us could find value in tearing down someone with their same job and shared community. Why are you here for this?
To be clear, I’ve never been the sort to broad-brush the “gay community” that I’ve known in my (millenial-cusp) lifetime. Nor have I been someone with a Taylor Swift-esq special-place-in-hell insistence on the forced supporting of any member of that tribe. The gay community in 2019 is expansive and vast and complicated, and it would be silly to chide someone for not supporting their fellow community members simply because they both claim membership.
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But when so much is being so presently and constantly stacked against LGBTQI+ folks in an age like this (sidebar – would you even have believed in 2015 that this would be something we still had to talk about in 2019?), what value is there in your cruel shouting and finger-pointing at your peers? We are still surrounded – why the fuck is this call coming from inside the house? Is it impossible when you're mad for you to simply say nothing at all?
How is the bitchy social archetype of the Mean Gay still a thing? And why are we all still so here for it?
Tyler Dårlig Ulv is an Ontario-based blogger and professional companion. He has worked for Rentboy.com, Manhunt, and contributed to publications like Queerty and Thought Catalog. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram, or find out more about his work at his website and blog. Tyler lives full time in Toronto.