Saturday, April 11, 2009

Siriusly Affirming the Stereotype

Sirius Satellite and XM Radio are two of the great inventions of the modern era and a much needed antidote to the constant inanity, blather and hucksterism that is A.M. and F.M. radio. After all, where else can you get the Grateful Dead twenty-four hours a day without interruption?

Despite the bewildering array of options that Sirius and XM offer, I guess I’m a bit of a creature of habit because I rarely venture beyond the 46-57 range on XM. But the other day, I broke out of that mold and went on a quest for new experiences. Listening to the same genre of music day after day was getting stale and I wanted to see if I could broaden my horizons.

So I’m cruising through the channels- Hip Hop/R & B, Jazz and Blues, Classical, Dance and Electronica, Latin- when I stumbled upon OutQ Radio (Sirius 109/ XM 98). OutQ is satellite radio’s Gay and Lesbian channel. It promotes itself as “News, Information and Entertainment for the Gay and Lesbian Community,” Gay radio, who knew?

I don’t fall into OutQ’s demographic, but I was intrigued enough by the concept of Gay radio to listen in (as long as I could stand to as it turned out) on my drive home. I must have hit upon the “Entertainment” portion of OutQ’s programming as what I heard certainly didn’t qualify under any objective standard as “News” or “Information.”

The program that was being broadcast was a show called “Derek and Romaine.” Derek is a gay man; Romaine is his female counterpart. The riveting subject of their show was a lesbian sorority at the University of Pennsylvania and their guest was the President of that sorority. Without getting into the whole “gay issue,” it was dreadfully dull radio made worse by Romaine’s litany of inane comments and constant, insecure snickering.

So before I go into my tirade, here’s the obligatory disclaimer. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass if a man wants to be with another man or a woman wants to be with another woman. It’s no skin off of my wiener either way. In fact, I find the whole raging debate about gay rights to be pretty silly. Gays should have the same rights that everyone else in this country enjoys. Period.

But here’s the thing that is really annoying. Gays and lesbians are constantly preaching to the heterosexual world about the evils of stereotyping them while they continually play to the stereotype. OutQ in general, and Derek and Romaine in particular, are perfect examples. Specifically, Derek spoke with a pronounced and affected lisp. Who really speaks like that? Damn few people that I have encountered unless they were gay men trying mighty hard to advertise to the world their gayness. Romaine, on the other hand, seemed fixated on the hook-up prospects that a lesbian sorority would afford and constantly pushed the discussion in that direction. She would ask with baited breath (and apparent envy) about who was banging whom and the intimate details about the gay sexual escapades of the sisters.

Can these guys get any less clear on the concept? We're told all gay men don’t prance around speaking with an effeminate lisp. But then “Gay radio” broadcasts a show hosted by a gay guy who, true to the stereotype, speaks with a lisp. We’re also told that the gay culture is not necessarily centered upon gay sex. But here again is OutQ, the satellite radio voice of the gay community, broadcasting a show the focus of which was, true to stereotype once again, lesbian sex.

So here’s some unsolicited advice to the gay and lesbian community: if you want people to get beyond the stereotypes commonly associated with gays and lesbians, stop perpetuating those stereotypes. Do some self-policing of your community. Stop acting in a manner consistent with the gay archetype. Otherwise, you will never get beyond the stereotypes. Siriusly.

No comments: