Just because something's for sale doesn't mean that you have to buy it.
Imagine this scene, if you will for a moment. You're at the local bookstore or possibly even at home, and in your hands is the latest copy of your favorite gay magazine. Maybe you're like me and you just leaf through the pages, or perhaps you look at the table of contents to see what you want to read first, but whatever the case may be you can't go very far before one of them catches your eyes.
That's right, those bright and loud sales pitches of the products and services the sellers want you, the young and proud lesbigay, to pay attention to and hopefully find a need for. Within these ads you'll find a common thread, the message behind the message that speaks loud and clear to you: Buy this, drink this, wear this, use this...and you'll be cool, and maybe even other lesbigays will envy you?
That's one hell of a sales pitch, isn't it?
The magazines geared to our so-called culture love to represent gayness with an image of perfect youthful looks and a luxurious and decadent lifestyle well suited for our wealthy and sophisticated genre. After all, you can't possibly face the shame that will surely follow if you're seen at the club in anything less that a shirt that costs a few hundred dollars, and that beer in your hand better be the right brand or you'll never live it down...and it may as well be the brand that has an ad campaign directed at us. When someone pages you or you have to make a cell phone call-you know how we just love to gab on the phone-well you better be using a gay oriented cellular service because they understand your needs.
So, what kind of impression do all of these ads make on the fifteen-year-old writing this column?
How stupid do they think I am?
While the publishers of the gay magazines out there like to think of their readership as being in their early twenties and up, the reality is that these are also being read by many members of the younger generation of gays, the ones that are invisible until we're old enough to go clubbing and become a part of the active gay culture. While the publisher of XY magazine likes to think that the average readers are males in their early twenties, take a look at the ages in the letters to the editor section and you'll see that many of them are from teens, and the same goes for pictures sent in for publication. Without a doubt we are a huge and unfortunately, an easily influenced segment of the gay populace. While those photo spreads of attractive young guys seductively modeling the latest (and often expensive) clothes lines may be meant for the college age crowd, I bet more that a few younger gays have taken notice too. I couldn't help but notice how the guys at the under 21 gay dance event I attended all looked liked they came straight from the pages of XY magazine, complete with shiny clothes and an attitude of disgust for anyone who didn't dress like them.
After all, you're either hip or you're invisible.
While all of this may be great for those who wish to play a role in the haute couture that some would like the gay world to be, when you're standing on the outside looking in either by choice or due to limited finances, then you get to see that the gay society is filled with the same class distinctions as the rest of the world.
Or maybe you're like me, and you see all of this as just gaysploitation, the exploitation of gays.
And you'll refuse to play along with it too.
Ty is a fifteen-year-old who lives in a small suburb in the Midwest and will be a high school sophomore this coming fall. In his free time he likes to be with his family, play guitar in a heavy metal band, and ponder what his future will hold for him. He loves hearing from his readers, and be sure to say hello if you see him online.