I've become increasingly frustrated with the spate of contemporary pop stars that crop up out of nowhere, declare themselves "gay icons," throw a couple rainbows or dudes kissing into their videos and then move on. Exhibit A: Katy Perry.
Lady Gaga, as much as the annoys the holy living doodies out of me, has at least been a very visible and very vocal ally for us. I'd be happy if I didn't have to read or type her name for a year or 30, but that's another issue. Right now, most of my "fake gay icons" ire is being directed toward Katy Perry.
When she first hit the scene a couple years ago, I found her to be an incredibly offensive figure. If you recall, her first big hit was "Ur So Gay," a paean to stereotypes and gay suicide. The song is about a boy that Katy dated who dared be sensitive and well-groomed, and so she assumed he was a big fag. She asked that he "hang himself with his H&M scarf," for one, and generally acted as if "gay" was the ultimate, be-all, end-all put down to someone that treated her wrong.
Then she followed it up with "I Kissed a Girl," which panders to my least favorite cliche ever, that of the straight girls who make out at frat parties to turn on frat boys. The same frat boys, mind you, who would probably barf if they saw the actual, gorgeous, butch/faux hawk/anything else kind of lesbians that populate much of the real queer world. When I got the chance to interview Katy in 2008, she not only admitted that she had never kissed a girl (thus relegating her song to queersploitation, not cathartic story-telling) but also referred to her diary as her "Anne Frank." Thanks, Katy! All the members of my family who died during WWII really appreciate that one.
Flash forward two years and Katy has more or less decided that she is a gay icon. Which, cool, it's a career move and it makes sense for someone who wants to be a celebrity. But why, please god in heaven why, has the gay world seemed to buy it? First off you couldn't blow a 19 year-old this summer without running into that stupid "California Gays" video parody. Gay websites covered it with the feverish, breathless devotion of an Orthodox Brooklynite's first trip to the Wailing Wall. And now the worst has happened. And that worst is the video for "Fireworks."
For someone who put out the (I believe) two worst mainstream queer depictions of the last decade, and consistently reflects the values of her hyper-religious upbringing, I can't really buy the "be yourself! Kiss that boy and be great!" message of the video. It would be like Jesse Jackson getting bar mitzvah'd after he called New York City "Hymie town." It feels wrong at best, and is glaringly offensive at worst.
So my question here is this: Why do so many gay men buy into this? I guess they might just like the music, and see her covered in all the gay blogs and played at all the gay bars and not realize how disingenuous it all is. Our primary mission in starting TNG was to help queer folks create their own culture, not prescribe to the one made for us. And that leads me back to the question I ask in my headline: If Katy Perry presented you with a Domino's box of her own steaming pea-cacas and said to you "I made this for you. Why don't you eat it?" how many of you out there would chow down?
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