Op-ed: The Gay Clones Everyone Knows
One of the benefits of employment with Here Media and The Advocate is having the latter’s irreplaceable 46-year-old archive at my disposal. I’ve certainly read about Anita Bryant’s pie to the face and Barney Frank’s youthful(ish) indiscretions, but what really gets me into a time warp k-hole are the now-discontinued personals and advertisements for bars, clubs, and “spas”; you get to see how gay men really presented themselves and what the often-warped standard of beauty was.
If the issue is from the ’60s, the featured guys are smooth, muscled, and white (diversity wasn’t our strong suit back then). In the Me Decade, a stroll down Castro Street would not be complete with a mustache, mutton chops, untamed body hair, and painted-on jeans. By the ’80s, mustaches were out and mullets in. The ’90s brought us not only “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but floppy hair and overgrown stubble. Filthiness was mostly gone from The Advocate by the Aughts, but it’s clear that the previous decade saw incredible advances in hair product technology. (Get lost in our past covers here.)
There is certainly a clone “look” that still permeates gay male culture; specific styles that identify someone as a card-carrying homosexual, whether that’s the intention or not. How will the clone look of the Teens be recalled (and undoubtedly laughed about)? Since I haven’t been to a gay bar in six months (too much effort), I decided to peruse Out.com — our sister site and arbiter of gayville — to see what the predominant gay look is these days.
This all sounded familiar. I walked to the bathroom and looked at the gay man in the mirror. Facial hair just a few days away from turning into a crumb net: check. Tousled peaks of hair as viscous as dough thanks to $20 pomade: check. Snug polo shirt with bicep-exposing sleeves and wisps of chest hair sprouting from collar: check. Jeans so tight they’ve actually ripped and been sewn up by a professional: check. A clone stared back at me. In honor of the realization of my sameness, I snapped a photo: more than scruff, pomade, and polos, the selfie will likely be the enduring gay look of the 2010s.