“Hollywoooooooooooooooooood!”… This one word marks my introduction into American gay culture. I was 12 years old, sitting in a movie theater watching Mannequin as the gay character, “Hollywood Montrose,” is introduced. He is, in a word, a spectacle–adorned in flamboyant neon-colored clothing, communicating via trite “gay speak” one-liners and an overabundance of feminized hand gestures. As my family and I left the theater, I remember moviegoers impersonating this character, mocking him, usually concluding their portrayal with a statement like, “That dude is such a fag … fucking nasty.”

On the ride back home I closed my eyes and silently prayed to God, “Please don’t let me be like Hollywood, please don’t let me be like Hollywood.” Yes, at age 12, I already knew that I might be gay, having crushes on the boys in my class rather than the girls … I was terrified.

At 29, I’m older, wiser, more confident and “out.” Unfortunately, as much as I have matured and evolved as an individual, the profile of American gay culture has not. To be honest, I’m still terrified of “Hollywood”–not the character from the movie but of Hollywood the business, the town, the machine. I’m terrified of the shallow and consistent misrepresentations of gay culture it produces, the impression they make on its audience, and the fact that these misrepresentations do not reflect me at all. No, I’m not a drug- and sex-obsessed club kid spending every night at the gay bar. No, I’m not living a straight lifestyle by day, and perusing gay sex hook-up Web sites by night. Yes, Hollywood, I am “mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it any more!”

As I was reading the Independent Weekly last week I became enraged and baffled when I read the article “Local man claims Aiken one-nighter.” As a huge fan of the Indy (not to mention an employee), I felt betrayed by this sensational and seemingly random article. What was the purpose of the piece, the angle? My conclusion was that there wasn’t one. “Another stupid fucking article designed to get a rise out of folks while offering nothing substantial to the reader,” I thought to myself. “Why would the Indy waste its space printing celebrity gossip?” First Hollywood, now the Independent Weekly? I began reflecting on how this article is yet another brick in the wall obstructing the readers’ view of an authentic gay American profile.

So, what is the profile of America’s Gay Community and culture? There isn’t one. While we’re members of the gay community, we each have our own respective profiles. We can’t (and won’t) be categorized as a scandal, an abomination, the comic relief, an “evildoer” or a sensational article in a weekly tabloid–we are a group of real live individuals, each unique and distinctive, with varying likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, faiths, races, backgrounds, etc.

I decided I’d offer my personal profile the way it might appear on a Web site like MySpace.com … a profile of one gay American. No Hollywood bullshit, no techno music, no cocaine or cock rings, no scandal–just an example of a singular American citizen (not so different from you) who happens to be gay and a proud member of a complex and diverse community.

Blog Entry: The State Fair

Fried Twinkies, baby pigs, toothless carnies … now that is my jam.
The only thing that can ruin a perfectly good day at the fair for a “big guy” is the encounter with that asshole at the “Guess your weight/age” booth. I was telling this to a friend, and she told me that a couple of years ago she witnessed a “woman of size” getting harassed by one of these maniacs. Apparently it went down like this:
Carny Asshole: “Hey big lady, let me guess your weight. Get up on the scale and try not to break it! Heh-heh, heeeeeeee!”
Woman of Size: “Hey little fella, how’s about I guess your cock size. Anyone got a magnifying lens?”

Ross Wade