Queer As Folk
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It hit me just recently that I never lusted after boys in the locker-room. Not that I was in there much; rarely could a coach force nerdy, phlegmatic me to participate. I had lots of headaches. Really ones, but I'm sure they were mostly psychosomatic. In the Ninth grade I flatly refused to take P.E. even though the lack of the class meant I couldn't get a high school diploma. Not giving a damn where anything was I did the same with Geography. Luckily I didn't have to graduate so I never found myself facing a Summer of remedial exertion and place names.
It was watching a scene with Justin in his school locker-room that brought my lack of lust to mind. Justin, who?
Justin is a slim, blonde bottom who'd been my idea of a 'hot number' back when I was young. And one of the characters in Showtime's edition of Queer As Folks. Last week Charles and I rented and watched the first season.
The series centers around a group of gay friends in an imaginary Pittsburgh, PA: ostensibly irresistible Bryan, Michael (aka Mikey) his best pal, Ted the introverted accountant and flamboyant Emmett.
At first the story was told from Michael's point of view. His shtick is being the lovable and attractive without believing he's either. He's clearly the guy with which we're supposed to identify. The prefab sympathy he evokes irked me at first.
David, an older man, is Michael's lover. A surprisingly urbane chiropractor, it is as if one day the producers woke up and said lets add somebody classy.
Ted is sort of Michael squared: inhibited and burdened by even more self-doubt. He's ordinary looking if you forget that he has a nice slim build and appealingly sad eyes.
Brightly colored, nelly Emmett is unsurprisingly the character I'm most attracted to. I fear his swishiness is why he receives the least amount of storyline.
Bryan, who fancies himself a cold realist, is central to all their lives. Every night he has anonymous sex with guys he'll resolutely refused to ever see again (except Justin). Everybody lusts after Bryan. Which really bumps my plausibility bone. He's thin and sort of model pretty. But he's not that overwhelmingly sexy. Lots of guys would want someone more muscular or hairy or name your fixation, preference. I've finally decided that he was cast by a heterosexual woman. He seems more a Cosmo Girl's fantasy.
Excepting Emmett the cast is straight-acting. It seems odd that none of them has a trendy haircut. I understand the reason for showing us gay guys as Wal-Mart shopping as the majority but the show seems to lean too far in that direction.
They all go to a dance bar, Babylon. Babylon looks pretty much like the discos that swept across the country in the wake of Saturday Night Fever. And like the last one I visited in San Francisco many years ago. The latter was filled with half-dressed well-built men. One of which swept the friend I was with off his bar stool on to the dance floor, danced with him for a few minutes and then swept him back to the bar in a fluid sequence I could easily imagine appearing in Queer As Folks.
I'm not sure what to think of the lesbian couple. We have sweet blonde art teacher (femme?) with tough brunette lady lawyer (butch?). The story of a couple of gay women raising a baby probably make many lesbians happy.
Since all this takes place in soap opera land these plain queer folk have lives rich in intensity and incident. Thankfully crises are resolved more quickly than in the daily daytime melodramas - two episodes at most. But often inadequately. Ted becomes involved in BDSM but without consequent artifact or repercussion. I suspect felt they were obliged to give the S&M scene at least a glance. Justin, whose own deflowering I greatly enjoyed agrees to relieve his girl pal of her virginity. She falls in love with him, apparently annihilating their friendship. This again seemed false, an idea the producers had without thinking it through.
But back to me in the locker-room. I've been trying to follow the thread of my own youthful sexuality but I baffle myself. I know I tried to have sex with a couple of guys when I was 11 - 12. In junior high school I realized long later that there was a blonde boy I was passionately attracted to I didn't know it back then. With more conscious desire there was a blonde (yeah, I like blondes) that I always liked to look at. In high school there were three girls that I thought were sexy enough for nocturnal stories. The one guy I know now that I thought was beautiful was part of a couple that I found equally beautiful. He was a long, lanky blonde and she a Polynesian with wonderful ass-length hair. And part of their beauty derived from how clearly smitten with each other they were.
As I've recounted before I'd told a friend that I couldn't fantasize about a woman without fantasizing about a guy as well. That didn't clue me in. Having two guys tell me they were lovers did. Then I couldn't keep my eye off a soft, skinny boy. I didn't look at women until I found myself living with one.
I've never had many female friends. Couldn't say why. I wonder where my life would've gone if I'd had.
I forgot to mention Vic, Michael's uncle who is HIV+. Easily the most sympathetic character and he has a nice voice. Atractive vocal styles and voice textures are something that seems to have vanished from TV and movies over the years.
And Michael's mother is played by Sharon Gless who was either Cagney or Lacey which was probably the TV show with the most appeal for gay women before Xena and Gabriel got so passionate.