Tuesday, December 19, 2006
That's one small step for (gay) man . . .
Borat parties with the Boston Globe arts staff
Well, God bless Charles Isherwood of the New York Times. There’s a tiny line in his current article (on the ubiquity of gay “slurs” in gay-friendly comedy) that includes this parenthesis:
(Let’s just say that, as a gay man, I don’t look back on my suburban junior high school years with unalloyed fondness.)
And with that, another tiny door opens. But will local gay critics and editors step through it, too? (And maybe even the local bigwigs they cover?) Somehow I doubt it.
In fact, I have a funny little story I like to tell in this vein about my days back at the Globe, which was always sending me to cover gay theater events, with the implicit requirement that I never mention I was gay. The trouble was, I tended to be rather ornery and independent, and wanted to talk explicitly about gay stuff - hence the censor’s (oops, sorry, the editor’s) hand often fell heavily on my material.
Things came to a head over a letter sent by an apparently gay psychotherapist regarding a negative review I’d given to a Dusty Springfield musical. I’d sniffed at the bio’s book as “therapy-speak,” which quite offended this particular reader, who snapped back that I really shouldn’t be writing about the coming-out process, and that I should be relegated to writing for the sports pages (yeah, like I even know what sport the Red Sox play).
I listened politely to the letter, but told the editor that if it was printed, I really had to be given a little space of my own to rebut his claim that I was straight. I wasn’t about to tolerate that kind of slur!
There was a stunned silence on the other end of the line, followed by a stuttered, “No, no – we can’t allow that.”
But why not? After all, the Globe wouldn’t knowingly allow any false statements in its pages, would it?
Needless to say, the conversation abruptly came to an end. And the letter was printed, but pruned back to only a stub. The writer never got to make his anti-straight smear, and I never got to do what Charles Isherwood has just done.