Homosexuals in Media

This past weekend the first episode of season two of Game of Thrones premiered, so friends and I decided to have a Game of Thrones marathon and rewatch the entire first season prior to the premier. I hadn’t seen season one since I watched it last summer after I finished reading the A Song of Ice and Fire book series on which the show is based, but this time exactly the same thing bothered me as last time: Lord Renly and Ser Loras.

Anyone who has seen the show is fully aware that these two men are in a relationship; if Ser Loras shaving Lord Renly’s chest and armpit didn’t clue you in on it, then Loras opting to forego shaving the second pit in favour of sucking Renly’s cock was a dead giveaway.

In the book, their relationship is far less clear. There are bits of innuendo here, rumours whispered in court there, quiet snickers from other corners, but nothing concrete is said about their relationship. The reader is left to their own opinion, and from what I’ve read in forums, it wasn’t clear to every reader that the two had something going on. However, in my opinion the problem is not the clear definition of the two characters’ sexuality. The problem is in the portrayal of their sexuality.

Want to ensure every viewer knows these two men dig men? Fine, keep the blowjob scene. But why is it necessary for Loras to shave Renly? Or for Renly to worry like a little bitch whether or not he’ll look good with a shaved body? It’s so stereotypically gay it makes me gag. And not in the same exhilarating way that deepthroating does.

Of course, fagging up the dudes is just one way to deal with turning written stories that involve same sex relationships into films. If you don’t want to make them non-effeminate, then you can just write the same sex aspect out of the script, as was the case when Brad Pitt played Achilles in Troy.

Numerous Greek writers extolled the love between Achilles and Patroclus, transforming them into a model for lover-warriors. But watch Troy, and all you get is an Achilles who has a great love for his cousin, with none of the romantic overtones in their relationship that you see in works by Aeschylus or Plato. The warriors maintained their warrior status, but had to shed their bisexuality in order to do so. How fucking pathetic.

In fact, it’s hard to decide which is more pathetic: completely removing the same-sex aspect of Achilles’ and Patroclus’ relationship, or turning Renly and Loras into twinks. When it comes down to it, my issue with the portrayal of Renly and Loras is that their actions are then perceived as typically gay when in fact they’re actually showing a lifestyle, not a type of sexuality. But to tell you the truth, I have the same issue with the gay community as a whole.

One year while I was living in Austin, Texas I drove up to Dallas with a girl friend called Alma for a weekend of fun. It was the same weekend as the UT-OU game, so after the game she and I met up with friends who had been at the game and headed downtown to get shitfaced. The next morning, I dragged my still-drunk ass out of bed and headed to some café that Alma knew for breakfast. The plan was to get there and get food and a strong drink before the drunkenness faded and the hangover began.

Alas, things did not go according to plan.

We parked the car and headed for the café, only to find that the entire street was filled with people. Both sides of the street were lined with rainbow flags, and the street was awash in naked flesh. We had found the route of the gay pride parade.

We started to push our way through the crowd toward the café, and our slow progress started to chip away at my nerves as the alcohol from the night before left my system only to be replaced by little men pounding away with hammers inside my head.

To make matters worse, there were no free tables at the café, and the waiter informed us that we would have to wait about 30 minutes. We could, however, order a beer in the mean time and stand in the café’s roped off section of the sidewalk to watch the parade go by. Seeing no alternative to eradicating the little fuckers in my head, I ordered three beers for Alma and me, and the two of us found a spot between a beefy bear in leather and some thirty-year old men sporting rainbow flags on their cheeks who kept calling each other “girl”.

Once I’d had my fill of the hair of the dog that bit me, I started to think about the scene unfolding before me. At the time, I identified myself as gay rather than bisexual, but being at the parade made me extremely uncomfortable. In fact, the gay scene in general has always made me feel uncomfortable. It’s too flamboyant, too affected, and correlates to a way of living that is incompatible with my own. And the parade encapsulated everything about the scene that makes me feel uneasy.

That’s not to say that I don’t respect what it took for such a lifestyle to even be able to exist so openly. And obviously, liking people of the same sex has a big part to do with the lifestyle, but at the end of the day, it is just that: a gay lifestyle. To me, there is a difference between being homosexual and calling the gay lifestyle your own.

And yet the lifestyle is what always gets the airtime. In film and television or in news coverage of gay pride parades, the stereotypes of the gay lifestyle are constantly reinforced, making it seem like being attracted to the same sex means acting and living a certain way. As if flamboyance were an inherent homosexual trait. God save us all if every man who sleeps with men acted like a character from Will & Grace.

Turning Loras and Renly into quasi pansies is a missed opportunity to show a different side of homosexuality, as was completely removing the homosexual component from the Achilles and Patroclus storyline. It’s wonderful that the gay community exists for those that find the gay lifestyle suits them and that said lifestyle has street cred in mainstream media as a legitimate segment of society, but where are the role models for those who don’t fit into that box? I don’t really see them today, and I didn’t see them when I was growing up, either.

Many people of all ages struggle with their sexuality. Rather than constantly reinforcing stereotypes about homosexuals, both the gay community, the entertainment industry and media outlets need to do a better job showing the diversity of homosexual men and women. They are, after all, just as diverse as their heterosexual counterparts, and society in general and homosexuals who don’t conform to the gay scene in particular would benefit from seeing a much wider array of perspectives.

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