Grabbed by Capitalism

Bronski-YouCanTellJustByLookingIn an article in the latest issue of the Dutch magazine Gay Krant, Mark Cloostermans discusses the book You can tell just by looking” and 20 other myths about LGBT life and people by Michael Bronski, Ann Pellegrini and Michael Amico. The magazine’s editor had invited me to briefly discuss one of these myths. I decided to focus on the one mentioned in the title of the book. Here is the English version.

This “You can tell just by looking” should actually be: “You can tell by checking the way you’re looked at”. One’s gaydar does not register the other’s homosexual ‘identity’ but his desiring looks. However, that is only possible when the other actually sees us (in a bar, on the street, on the train). But how does this work when gays claim that their gaydar runs wild when they see certain – often wildly attractive – pop stars, actors or athletes? For these celebs are certainly not looking at these craving gays. I think this is all a good deal of wishful thinking: these gay men project their desires onto the desired other.

Essentialist views on sex, gender, and sexuality are more common among the socially privileged. So for certain gay men the gaydar myth has its advantages. It is a variation of the elite our-kind-of-people way of thinking which brings a clearly defined dating market with it: when you believe there is such a thing as a gaydar – and, more importantly, that yours works perfectly well – it is clear who is your potential prey. You now only have to follow your hunting instinct to build up a relationally and sexually successful life.

The term ‘market’ in this context is telling: we are stuck in a capitalist ideology. Gay couples – especially those without children but with a double income – are the perfect consumers. It is not for nothing that the Amsterdam Gay Pride has always had a primarily commercial character: each year it gives a serious boost to the Amsterdam economy.

Companies who have the courage to show gay couples in their commercials therefore give preference to young, white, attractive and socioeconomically successful men. To live up to that ideal, gays need their gadgets. So in turn, these gays themselves are the prey of commercial companies and willingly allow the free market’s invisible hand to slide into their pockets.

Lees hier de originele bijdrage in de Gay Krant.

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