Thursday, July 28, 2011

When Did We All Become Such Drama Queens?

Not long ago, gay men had cornered the market on drama. In 2009, shrill denouncements of President Obama's inaction on gay marriage filled my Facebook newsfeed day after day as my gay and lesbian friends voiced their outrage, declaring that the onetime candidate they had so devoutly supported had become Public Enemy No. 1. (Don't get me wrong: Pressure on an issue is important, but vilifying the only president to ever say anything positive about gay marriage because he's not doing what you want when you want is another.)

Still, for a group of people raised on Joan Crawford movies and even Boy George songs, such highs and lows are understandable, if a little tiresome.

So what's everyone else's excuse?

Every time I turn around, someone is up in arms about something. "How dare they!" has become the go-to reaction to everything from Obama's attempts to raise the debt ceiling (I'm looking at you, John Boehner) to the resolution (or lack thereof) of the first season of AMC's The Killing. It's as if everything in the world were about you and your needs only.

I'm the first to admit (well, maybe the second) that I've been guilty of this in my own life. I now see that the "How dare you!" reflex was a constant in most of my previous relationships, and characterized the beginning of this one. But since my boyfriend plainly stated that he would not stand for it, I knew I had to make a change if I wanted this one to last. I did some hard work, and we've been together for more than three years. Now, whenever he does something differently than I would, I take a deep breath and say to myself, Will saying 'How dare you!' help this situation, or will it only make me feel better in the moment? The answer is almost always in favor of the latter.

Gay men have left an extraordinary mark on our culture. Fashion, music, theater and design are just a few of the incredible contributions we have made. But this knee-jerk leap to "How dare you!" might be our most unappealing legacy. Can we take it back?

Be sure to check out Mark Harris' wise take (not posted online, as far as I can tell) on fans' up-in-arms reactions to TV show twists in the recent Entertainment Weekly; the book The Velvet Rage, an invaluable assessment of the sources and solutions to gay male rage; and Jon Stewart's montage of Fox News' most recent lockstep display of victimhood.


  1. really interesting; i KNOW i'm guilty of it, too, and think this brings personal and public together nicely.

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