Monday, March 4, 2024

When did gays stop having fun?

If you’ve watched the new Queer As Folk, the third incarnation of the uber-gay TV series, you know there’s a lot to sink your teeth into.

On the first episode alone, the show gives us gay men and sodomy natch, lesbian relationships, trans characters, nonbinary characters, handicapped characters, meth addiction, sexual fluidity, drag queens, and even a Pulse Nightclub-like shooting to get the ball rolling. 

The only thing missing is fun.

The 2022 version, which seems about as necessary as a third nipple, is trying so hard to include everyone in the queer diaspora that, ironically, no persons of interest seem represented. Even the normally delightful Kim Cattrall and Juliette Lewis come across as prop versions of their former selves. 

There’s a bigger problem here than the show—one that’s spreading across Western gay world like another Supreme Court boner kill. We’ve gotten so uptight and serious we’ve forgotten how to enjoy ourselves. Just watch a few minutes of the original, 1999 Queer As Folk, created by the dazzling Russell T. Davies, and you’ll see a community in sexual chaos and confusion—ditto, to a lesser degree, the 2000 American version—but you’ll also notice that, heck, these boys are having the ride of their lives. Even Davies’ 2021 AIDS epic, It’s a Sin, showed cheer amid the 1980s end of days. 

Kim Cattrall as Brenda, Devin Way as Brodie in Queer As Folk | Photo: Peacock

For starters, we’re so afraid of Woke backlash, or condemnation from pretty much anyone with a voice—which, in the social media age, pretty much does mean anyone—that we edit our own thoughts and artistic endeavors. Jokes have to be mass-approved, as does sexual behavior—seriously, was there any more patronizing an account of gay life than Bohemian Rhapsody’s depiction of Freddie Mercury’s carousing? 

A straight acquaintance of mine, after seeing the film, said to me of Mercury: “If only he’d followed the path of his bandmates he’d be here today.” First off, “fuck off, lady, for being so homophobic”—wait, was that too extreme a statement for my tender audience?—and second, every ‘80s rock star was taking part in the mass orgy (Elton John’s still standing because of sheer luck, and Mick Jagger favored the women).

The shit pic also left out that tiny little detail about the other, married bandmate who had the reputation for sleeping with every woman he met along the way. Had Freddie’s sexual pursuits looked like fun, as opposed to guilt-ridden, drug-flared episodes, the prude-minded viewers still would have found him to be a slut, but an unsympathetic one. 

Environmental factors factor in as well. As The New York Times recently reported, gayborhoods, once the centers of fabulosity, are on the decline. Rents are high, bars are closing, and the next generation wants a family-friendly living environment. Both WeHo’s Santa Monica Boulevard and Chelsea’s Eighth Avenue can be downright depressing today, with closed storefronts and saggy man fronts, and the sex life that resides in newer, younger ‘hoods like Hell’s Kitchen can be a tad dull. I mean, we don’t have to wear condoms anymore; shouldn’t every encounter be a Roman Candle’s worth of fireworks? 

Last time I slept with a guy in New York’s Beautiful Boy midtown, he kept me waiting for more than an hour and didn’t apologize—I guess he’d had a big lunch. He didn’t apologize for turning on ‘Friends’ in the middle of things—even in orgasm he’d be there for them—and, afterward, didn’t apologize for jumping on his phone and texting like mad. 

My apologies, Millennials, but is that supposed to be fun? 

Remember when Pride was oh-so-fun? Oh, sure, there were politics galore, but the joy from the dancing and parties and get-togethers and sheer strength in bare-chested numbers was like Xanadu on a loop. Now, it’s tourists and corporations, and every business establishment trying to out-gay the other. “Happy Pride” sounds like a required greeting, said with about as much authenticity as those flag-lapel pins said “patriotic.” Given that, within two days of July, I was first called “an old man still whoring around” by a heavyset Asian on Grindr (now there’s a way to combat the bigotry he no doubt faces), then, by a “friend” on Facebook, “gross” with all that fur on my chest, I’m going to take a gander that many queers need to work on their Pride skills beyond those 30 consecutive days of June.

It all reminds me of the same-sex couple in my high-rise who never say hello in the elevator, never let my dog close to theirs (pugs, apparently, are one of the lower-class breeds), and never seem to be anything but miserable beyond recognition—and, since they never look me in the eye, I’m not sure I would recognize them on the street. Their bucket list kicked the bucket. 

And don’t think social media’s going to help. Twitter’s the enemy of fun, where the prize goes to whoever comes up with the cleverest, most vulgar insult. There’s no “conversation” to join, just what I like to call “The Daily Hate,” in which a rotation of celebrities and notables are crucified for something they wrote in a couple of hundred words—bye, bye, Bette, you were fun while it lasted. 

Lest you think I’m of the “Hey, kids, get off of my lap” gay breed, I wanna turn the world upside down and have the time of my life (Dirty Dancing’s a pro-choice film, btw)! There’s evidence that people need to have more fun in times of peril (remember when science was fun?), and, with Putin and Ukraine, the former guy and his posse of pussies, an attempted coup, climate disaster, a Supreme Court making us more sick than never-ending Covid, monkeypox making monkeys out of us, mass shootings, conspiracy theories more disturbing than Marjorie Taylor Greene’s wardrobe choices, and Taylor Swift going all alternative on our asses, I think we more than qualify for a round of cheer. 

So quit your bitching about how bad Netflix has gotten (when I was a kid we were stuck with the variety show The Brady Bunch Hour, so bad it didn’t even have the real Jan!), accept the fact that the only constant is changing storefronts, love your Dad Bod or Bad Bod or Bad Ass Bod, and shake it up. 

The expression “Getting Old Is So Old” is a favorite of mine, and I’m ignoring the conventional, stupid-ass “wisdom” about hanging it up now that I’m in my fifties. I’ll fuck as many men as I please, with (horror!) no shame attached; I’m getting together with great friends and discovering that laughter, like wrinkles, gets finer with time; I took up photography; I’m writing screenplays and working on getting them produced; and, most important, I’m speaking my mind no matter whom I offend. My life story won’t be on Lifetime. 

The older you get the more you realize it’s, literally, now or never. So get off your butt, leave the world behind, and have some fun. Seriously. 

David Toussaint

David Toussaint is the writer of five screenplays (with six film festival awards between them) and four best-selling non-fiction books. A professional journalist since the age of 15, he’s written for such publications as Huffington Post, Queerty, and Conde Nast Traveler. Toussaint is also a professional playwright and actor.

David Toussaint has 23 posts and counting. See all posts by David Toussaint

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