Monday, August 21, 2006

Texas River Song

So I spent three days in one of my favorite parts or America, central Texas. Austin is a great town, the hill country is beautiful, and other then being way too hot in August, it's about as comfortable a place as you are likely to find. But the best part of Texas is the people I know down there. Especially the gay men.

Straight folks have a lot of silly notions about gay guys. Some of them are based in fact, for sure, but many of them, as I show in my movie, are wide off the mark for most of us. Maybe the strangest notion is that gay men are inherently different from straight men in ways other then their sex lives, that they are more like women in their behaviors and preoccupations. Certainly there are gay men who are like that, and it is these men who are often put up in the media as avatars of homosexuality, gay men who are not threatening to straight guys because they are seen as essentially female.

This notion is insulting to both women and gay men, of course, but there are reasons why straight people think this. A straight friend I grew up with recently asked me, with honest curiosity, what was up with the lisp? I knew what he meant. There is a gay way of speaking, a kind of linguistic radar ping that gay guys send out in the tone and tenor of their voices. For many men, this is probably the way they were born speaking (and I've known some straight guys who had very effeminate voices as well), but we've also all known guys who were in the closet, and as soon as they came out, the squeal-notch suddenly went up to eleven. The lisp is both a natural speech pattern, but also an affectation, a way of signaling who you are, a mating call of sorts. It is a form of artifice.

One of the great things about my friends in Texas though, is that they are pretty much over the artifice of being gay. Oh, they have their own symbolic shorthand (military haircuts, facial hair) but mostly, they are guys who have accepted their guyness, their essential masculinity, which in Texas means toobing down the river, drinking too much, being a bit too loud and obnoxious, sitting up until 5am bullshitting about guns and boats and hot ass and run-ins with the law, and generally acting like the piggies that men are. Oh, and not giving a flying fuck about fulfilling straight folk's desire to have, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, their beer cold and their homosexuals flaming. These boys don't need to squeal. They do, however, drawl like you wouldn't believe.

So here's to my Texas bubbas. Every time I go down there, it's a little harder to leave. I could see myself getting a little piece of land in Austin with a creek in the back, where I could build an off-the-grid straw bale house and take up the steel guitar. That would be livin' indeed.

And yeah, I'd vote for Kinky.


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