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All Politics is Loco: Gay, straight … I’m taken

By | 2018-01-15T23:19:06-05:00 February 1st, 2007|Opinions|

By Sean Kosofsky

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an aversion to television. From 1994 until last year I probably watched a combined total of 30 hours of TV, and that was usually the news, the Oscars or the State of the Union speech. But the latest reality show egg to be hatched by the clever, creative and calculating folks at Lifetime is simply addicting.
Many of you have heard of the heavily marketed show, “Gay, Straight or Taken” where an unsuspecting protagonist thinks she’s on a run-of-the-mill dating reality show. Surprise! Within minutes she is informed that one of the three hot studs she just met is indeed, already spoken for by a woman. And one of the guys is definitely gay. Only one guy is straight and single. All the women seem shocked, but take it in stride. What ensues is nothing short of a hilarious sociological experiment in how society sees gay men.
The women get to subject the men to all sorts of bizarre and predictable exercises like riding a mechanical bull or salsa dancing. All of the men pretend to be single and straight, but the show has carefully picked men who seem to have character traits, careers or backgrounds that could seriously keep you guessing about their sexuality. One straight guy on the show was in the military, but worked as an interior designer. Another straight guy was caught with tons of gay party gear in his car, but was completely clumsy dancing with another man.
I truly believe this show could be the single most important program our community has ever had.
Lifetime markets the show as if homosexuality is not the issue, and viewers get the impression that gay men are just one of many obstacles for single women looking for a mate. The whole point of the show is that you cannot tell if someone is gay, even if you have a one-in-three chance of getting it right. Is it because available men in their twenties and thirties all have some behaviors that seem gay? Are guys with great bodies who moisturize not supposed to like NASCAR?
The show, the women and all the men – gay and straight – invite America to watch this charade. The straight men don’t seem to care if they are thought of as gay; in fact, some try to throw off the scent of their brooding heterosexuality. The women are like mice in a maze, or undercover cops looking for clues and setting traps for the deceitful men. And although none of the women know in advance that the show will involve possibly getting intimate with a gay man, they don’t seem to flinch. I love it!
My favorite part is the diversity. I am pleasantly surprised that many of these arrangements are inter-racial or diverse in other ways. The gay couples, the straight couples and the romantic/sexual attraction across the color line makes you really believe that people can see beyond the surface, whether racial or stereotypical, of how a man “should” behave.
Even gay men I know that have watched the show – who claim they can pick a gay guy out in a hot minute – are completely thrown for a loop. This show something very new. It’s nothing political, it’s not about macho assimilation, and it’s not preachy – just gay and straight men and women having fun in this game called life. If only life could be as simple for people in our community as it is on this show. I long for a world where someone’s sexual orientation is no big deal. Even better, a world where ambiguity is part of the chase. Part of the adventure of cruising is not knowing if the cruisee is even batting for your team. Part of what makes it hot, is not caring.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.