Monday, April 03, 2006

Those Were the Gays

Remember how exciting it was for queers back in the early 1990s when the first gay and lesbian "characters" were popping up on reality television shows? Beginning with Norm, Beth and Pedro on the first three seasons of "The Real World," there was a definite sense that if mainstream Americans could see what an everyday gay person was really like -- rather than an Act Up activist or a gay pride parade caricature -- then they would be more comfortable and accepting when they met gay people in real life. It seemed logical that even people who thought they didn't know a single gay person -- however unlikely that may be -- could love and care about someone as sweet as Pedro Zamora, and that some bit of this affection would be bound to trickle down moving forward.

For the most part, I'd say this has proved to be true, and reality TV has made the world a slightly more accepting place for gays and lesbians. By the year 2000, Danny from the New Orleans season became the prototype for a generation of young gay men who didn't want to be identified first and foremost as gay (dare I use the un-PC term "straight acting"?), opening the door for the Abercrombie generation for whom being gay was more socially acceptable and therefore, less of an issue. Along the way, though, myths were exposed for better or worse. Everyone quickly learned that just because you're gay doesn't guarantee you're interesting, good-looking, witty, fabulous, fashionable, gym-obsessed and so on. The bottom line: gays are pretty much just like everybody else. Some are fun, some are dull. Some are cute, some are average. Some are witty, some are corny. And so on ...

Well, it's been nearly 15 years since all this fun began and this season of "The Surreal Life 6" seems to be doing for transgendered people what "The Real World" and a host of other reality shows did for gay people: it's welcomed one into our homes in the face of Alexis Arquette. (Alexis is even slated to have an upcoming reality show that follows her further transitioning up to and including her sex-reassingment surgery.)

Now conventional wisdom would tell you that having a quasi-celebrity be America's first major exposure to the daily life of a transsexual would give an unrepresentative view of things, perhaps on the more fabulous side of the scale. Oddly enough, it's just the opposite: Alexis Arquette is just as dull -- if not more so -- as that (bland) girl next door. She's not fun, she's not witty, she's not quick and she doesn't even seem particularly bright. Truthfully, she's rather boring, which has got to be the cruelest thing you can say about a transgendered performer. And while looks aren't what make the woman, she makes a point of saying that she wants to look transsexual and isn't even trying to pass (as if this needed to be said).

So thank you Ms. Arquette and VH1 for giving us a firsthand look at a transgendered woman -- and for helping the world quickly realize that the transgendered can be just as boring as the rest of the world. Can an Us Weekly spread -- Trannies: They're Just Like Us -- be far off?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

IMHO ! most of the transgenered or transitioning women i know are more women then they are REALLY angry drag queens like this poor b1tch. i rather feel sorry for her.

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