The cover story for Attitude Magazine’s June Pride issue—er, sorry, Summer Issue—begins with this headline:
LOVE, VICTOR STARS MICHAEL CIMINO AND GEORGE SEAR ON WHY THEIR LGBTQ ALLYSHIP IS NO ACT
One could ask who is accusing these two 20something stars of Hulu’s series about a gay teenager of performative allyship, or why a major LGBTQ+ publication would put two questionable allies on its cover.
The article goes on to quote Cimino sharing “homophobic comments” he got from family members for playing gay teen Victor. Like this scorching hate speech:
Some of them reached out, saying, ‘You used to be so cool; now you’re so gay,’. I chalk it up to ignorance. People have that programming and they often don’t have to evolve and try to push past that.
Cimino goes on to reassure the readers of Attitude Magazine that, “There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
Well, that’s good news! What else do these two straight-identifying performers have to say about the LGBTQ+ community? Oh, that Cimino received death threats from them for taking on a gay role!
“I’ve definitely had some criticism from the LGBT community for being in the role… I’ve had death threats, which is horrible. But the show is important to me. The messages of hate— I came into it knowing that would happen, regardless of how good I was.”
I think that’s enough.
Let’s not rehash the argument about straight actors playing gay (although until other groups are punished for being themselves, I would argue they can accept an actor who’s never taught playing a teacher). Let’s discuss the shocking, lazy, infuriating state of LGBTQ+ media in 2021.
Casting two straight-identifying performers as gay leads in a teen series is one thing; elevating them both to cover material of a gay magazine—complete with shirtless, muscle-baring photos—is another.
More tellingly, why did writer Lee Dalloway allow Cimino to call that family member’s comment “hate speech.” Bigotry, yes! Unpleasant, rude, absolutely. But for a straight man to tell a gay magazine that he, too, has suffered from homophobic hate speech and it boils down to a tired, ’90s “so gay” comment? Why did we waste our time making a movie about Harvey Milk when there’s a moving story like that, ripe for the cinematic treatment?
He’s a 20something, well-meaning straight guy, so we shouldn’t be looking to him for guidance or words of wisdom anyway. If the publications actually dedicated to covering LGBTQ+ life and culture can’t be bothered to track down actual members of the community to put on the cover, then how dare we continue to help them survive the journalism apocalypse with our subscription fees and our pageviews?
Let’s do a quick glance, shall we? June 17, 2021: The top story on Out.com is an interview with Michael Cimino and George Sear about Love, Victor; and two of the four Editor’s Pick stories are an interview with Tom Hiddleston and a preview of RuPaul’s Drag Race guest judges.
On Queerty.com, of the first 10 stories one is about a gay couple suffering years of homophobic harassment; one is about Meghan McCain; one is about Matt Gaetz; and one is about an actor on a Ryan Murphy series who participated in the January 6 Capitol riots.
Instinct Magazine’s top four stories—though whether they’re chosen by the editorial team or they’re simply the most viewed is unclear—includes a story about a Karen verbally assaulting two women about a Pride flag and a story about straight-identifying Anthony Ramos’ Calvin Klein ads. And Towleroad includes this head scratcher of a headline:
‘Real celebrities are no different than my queens. They’re all fake.’ Is Next RuPaul Book A Holden-Caulfield-style Tell All? ‘The true story. Life is pain.’
I don’t ever want to see hate ignored or not covered by major outlets; we’ve come too far to let homophobes slither back into the closet. But what story are we telling ourselves in the pages of publications dedicated to our lives when the increasingly skeletal staffs choose to cover mainly stories of harassment and hate—or straight celebrities who don’t find us abhorrent?
For this one month at least (now whittled down to just two weeks), can we vow to only support the companies and people who are trying to amplify our joys and triumphs? Then we can go back to fetishizing straight men and clucking over Republicans in July. You know, just in time to celebrate America’s birthday.
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