If Straights Can Have Horrible Reality TV, Why Can’t Gay Guys Have It, Too?
Earlier this week, Logo released the first trailer for its reality series Fire Island, and everybody is talking about it. Anyone who has access to a social media account or blog has an opinion, and a quick way to win over some likes and shares is to bash the new show. We ask, if straights can have horrible reality shows, why can’t we?
Channels like Bravo and E! are full of trashy reality programming like Real Housewives, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Vanderpump Rules. So why can’t we have Fire Island? Isn’t that true equality?
A lot of people aren’t quite seeing things like that, holding Logo to an unreasonable standard. Jason Wimberly, a personal trainer in Los Angeles, wrote for The Advocate a searing op-ed that equates Fire Island with the moral decline of gay America. Harsh.
Like Rich Juzwiak mentions in his piece for Jezebel, titled “We Get It Already: You’re All Much Better Gays Than the Guys on that Fire Island Reality Show,” the part of Wimberly’s essay that really struck me was his mentioning of himself:
Now, I have to be fair in saying I uphold myself to some pretty strict standards. I don’t use the ‘f word,’ I won’t be photographed holding a cocktail unless it’s celebratory champagne and I’ve never even had a speeding ticket. As a public person, I take the way people perceive me seriously, and not just because of my own self-respect, but for my respect for the LGBT community as a whole.
Just like the gays featured on Fire Island, Wimberly resorts to a painstakingly egocentric and ‘holier than thou’ attitude when, really, he’s no better than the people he’s judging.
I always say fuck. I no longer drink, because I’m an alcoholic. I got into a horrible car accident years ago because I drank too much and fell asleep at the wheel. This isn’t because I’m gay. This is because I’m human.
Apparently all depictions of gay people must be sanitized for our protection? Why do we have to present ourselves as angels to straight people?
We should present ourselves as people. Take us for our good, our bad, our catfights and our back hair.
Let’s cut Logo some slack here.
Where is Wimberly’s essay applauding Viacom for the documentary series it produced last year telling the important stories of Matthew Shepard, queer female restaurant owners and out soldiers in Iraq?
Also, nobody is talking about Logo’s Global Ally campaign that highlights the stories of international LGBTQ activists working around the world towards global acceptance.
Gay men still have a great deal of internalized homophobia. When media outlets like Logo pick one type of gay to put on the TV, we hate it. Not because we hate them, but because we still struggle with fully accepting ourselves. We were told all our lives that we need to assimilate — that we need to be like everybody else. So when we see one of our own not like us, we’re quick to judge and we try and bring them down.
We roll our eyes at a gay guy joking about blowjobs but applaud a drag queen making the same joke. It’s easy for us to love a character, but harder for us to love someone being himself.
Why are we holding Logo to such a high standard? Logo needs to give audiences — gay or straight — what they want to see. That’s not always going to be intellectually stimulating programming. As a writer, an important article I write about LGBT issues in Africa will get a fraction of the clicks for an article about a hot boxer’s bulge. (You’re probably not even reading this op/ed anymore because you just clicked that link.)
What audiences want more of is original programming, which Logo has failed to produce. Audience members are sick of watching reruns of Roseanne and The Facts of Life. The cable network’s one piece of incredible original programming — the show that keeps the lights on, RuPaul’s Drag Race — is now moving to VH1. So Logo needs to scramble fast with new ideas to get people to tune in. So this effort — that some have derided as tacky and cheesy — to fill such an important mandate is a step in the right direction.
Hopefully Logo continues rolling out new original content. Yesterday, a gay Bachelor remake. Today, a queer take on Jersey Shore. Tomorrow, let’s hope Logo is still around to create the next big thing.
Will I be watching the first episode of Fire Island? Of course! Will I watch the entire season? Probably not, but that is my choice. Logo is giving me a choice to tune in. Like our straight counterparts, we now have options. What you choose to do with those options is up to you, but I have a feeling many of those people bashing the show will be the same ones watching.