Presidential candidate and J. Crew rewards member Pete Buttigieg recently said he doesn't read LGBTQ media and complained that it was unfairly critical of his “gay cred, ”questioned his homosexuality and his life experiences, and generally maligned him. As Advocate editor-in-chief Zach Stafford noted on Twitter, it was actually mainstream media that published those articles while LGBTQ outlets like The Advocate defended him against them.
Later, in a Q&A session after the LGBTQ Presidential Forum in which he participated, he explained that he has been frustrated with the questions of his “gay cred” and did say that LGBTQ media is important and that he was having “a grumpy moment.” Which, to be fair, he’s entitled to. As a politician, he’s in the public eye constantly, and some of the people who have been questioning his gay identity are doing so through the framework of his political opinions. Now mind you, I have argued for a while now that being LGBTQ doesn’t mean that you have to have a specific political ideology because how and against who you rub your naughty bits doesn’t have anything to do with economic theory.
However, something about this tied into something I’ve pondered before, and that’s consumption of LGBTQ media. Some might have a grumpy moment about Pete not consuming LGBTQ media, but to be perfectly honest, I partially identify with him. You see, I don’t consume LGBTQ media in mass quantities either.
Now, of course I read The Advocate, Out, them, HuffPo Queer Voices, and others. Do I read them every day and in their entireties? No, of course not. I read what interests me, don’t bother with the rest, and some I skim. I got a side-hustle from my day job to talk about this stuff as an opinion writer, so if I wanna get paid, I gotta consume the media. Also, it serves to connect me to the community as a member. I don’t attend the Gay High Council meetings anymore so I don’t know what’s on the weekly agenda regarding our attempts to take over the world or run the globe. Outside of that, I gotta be honest; I just don’t consume a lot of LGBTQ media.
I know to some of you this makes me a bad queer, to which I respond, “Really?” Some times it doesn’t really interest me, in fact, quite often, it actually bores me to tears or annoys me. Sorry. I truly can’t force myself to like things I don’t like. I tried with liver, IPAs, raw squid, and Drag Race. None of them are my thing. Sorry. It doesn’t make me a bad queer.
I never really watched Will & Grace because I wasn’t a gay guy, and around that time period I was too poor to own a TV. Sure, I’ve since seen a bit of it and laughed some, but it’s never been something I OHEMGEE had to watch and catch up on. I watched most of The L Word, and like every last on of you had a thing for Shane but I burned out on it by the end because it lost its charm with a lot of the forced drama. I only watched a few seasons of Orange is the New Black because of Laverne Cox, but I got tired of it because, Christ, I just wanted to slap Piper in the face. Hard. I haven’t watched Pose, even though I’m glad it won a lot of awards at the Emmys the other night because it shows mainstream appeal of LGBTQ stories, especially ones centered on queer POCs, is growing. Yet, I’m probably not gonna get into it because I’m really over watching stories that are basically LGBTQ struggle sessions even if they are being told by LGBTQ people. I grew up and came out on them, and frankly, I’m kinda over them. A comedy about transgender people written by transgender people? Yeah, I might get into that (please contact me for my spec script starring me).
Yet, on the whole, LGBTQ-centric stories don’t interest me. I, like Buttigeig, just don’t consume them but recognize their importance. I have experienced a lot of these stories, and they’re more than familiar. Hell, I’ve lived some of them. I’m more interested really in seeing LGBTQ characters and stories told as a part of “mainstream” media. I honestly was as excited to see Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz as a gay couple on Star Trek: Discovery as most of you were about Pose or OITNB. When Tig Notaro got cast as a lesbian engineer on the show it was even more awesome, and now I’m eagerly awaiting a transgender character (please contact me for an audition tape).
When I see LGBTQ characters in mainstream shows such as Modern Family, The Walking Dead, Gotham, The Expanse, Into the Badlands, Stranger Things, Mindhunter, and others where they don’t spend their time burying their gays, I’m going to be into it. It’s what interests me. I wanna see badass queers of badassitude kick ass with guns and fists. That’s what entertains me. For me it’s exciting to see people like us as part of a story that is larger than our own issues and normalizes us without centering the drama on our sexuality or gender. Instead we’re part of the larger story.
Yet, I’m not going to avoid LGBTQ media if it doesn’t cater to me. I’m not going to avoid it if doesn’t center me or agree with my thinking. There is still something of worth with engaging with LGBTQ media, to see what our community thinks and feels about itself. Pete Buttigeig should read more LGBTQ media, he should be more engaged with us. That way he would have known we had his back on this issue. We may not all like his politics, but we’ll cut a bitch that doesn’t think he’s the right kind of gay. It’s because we’re a community, a dysfunctional one sometimes, and he’s part of it. It’s good to know what’s happening in it, even if you don’t always want to participate.