I feel sorry for Juan Pablo Galavis.
Not because I support what he said, because of course not. But I empathize with the impossible bind he finds himself in. He’s in a no-win situation when it comes to “the gay question,” in ways that the Duck Dynasty folks simply are not.
Here’s the first problem:
Nothin’ but straight about that guy, amiright?
Okay, so maybe I’m being unfair. Here’s another pic, to show his range:
I think we all see the issue.
For a bachelor to be successful in the eye of a media frenzy, he must be stylish, he must be fit, and he must be instantly charming, graceful, and empathetic to his bachelorette(s). For those of you keeping score at home, those are also pretty much the job requirements for every woman’s Gay Best Friend. Oops.
When the very qualities that would make him the most eligible straight man in the world are the exact same qualities that would make him the most eligible gay man in the world, something’s gotta give.
I’m not excusing the reprehensible homophobia inherent in his remarks. I’m not even arguing that he is himself homophobic–I’ve never met the man (we travel in rather different social circles). But I am saying that I understand the bind he is in. In an essentially homophobic culture, he must find ways to establish that although he may dress like he’s gay, have a physique that many gay men in the world might find appealing, and come across on television as sensitive and romantic, he is not gay. And perhaps a clumsily worded interview is the best way he could think of to stake his claim to straightness.
In the future, when homophobia is as passé as racism, this kind of defensive gay-bashing won’t be a convenient “get-out-of-gay” free card. But we don’t really expect our reality-TV stars to be revolutionary thinkers, do we?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue lately. If you’d like to see what happens when a gay man does compete on a bachelorette-style show, I would direct you to my new novel, Husband Material, published this week by Dreamspinner. It’s fun, sexy, and has a pretty sharp take on the sexual identity politics inherent in “reality TV” romance.
Maybe I’ll send Mr. Galavis a copy.
Please note that this line of reasoning does not have anything to do with the Duck Dynasty debacle. Those people are just bigots.