'Gay Vague'

On Friday, moseying on down to a bar and dancing, I was asked the immortal question "are you straight?" I presume that was either a compliment of my dancing skills or a comment on my tight shiny pants. Or both. (The answer, incidentally, is "yes".)

So it amused me that the New York Times, having spread "metrosexual" into the world's vocabulary a few years back, now writes basically the same article, this time calling it 'gay vague' ("Gay or Straight? Hard to Tell"). The article struggles almightily to say just how this 'phenomenon' is different from 'metrosexuality':

The result is a new gray area that is rendering gaydar - that totally unscientific sixth sense that many people rely on to tell if a man is gay or straight - as outmoded as Windows 2000. It's not that straight men look more stereotypically gay per se, or that out-of-the-closet gay men look straight. What's happening is that many men have migrated to a middle ground where the cues traditionally used to pigeonhole sexual orientation - hair, clothing, voice, body language - are more and more ambiguous. Make jokes about it. Call it what you will: "gay vague" will do. But the poles are melting fast.

The new convergence of gay-vague style is not to be confused with metrosexuality, which steered straight men to a handful of feminine perks like pedicures, scented candles and prettily striped dress shirts. Gay vagueness affects both straight and gay men. It involves more than grooming and clothes. It notably includes an attitude of indifference to having one's sexual orientation misread; hence the breakdown of many people's formerly reliable gaydar.

All this faux hoo-ha seems to mean, really, is that American men are becoming as style-conscious as their European counterparts. (Remember those "gay or European" Internet quizzes a while back?) And even then I'd venture that it's American men living on the coasts who're doing so.

Brands/bands namedropped in the article that I own at least one item from: 2xist, Modern Amusement, the Bravery ("Honest Mistake" is on the soundtrack to MVP Baseball 2005 - I'd never really thought about the lyrics, but the juxtaposition of an ambiguously gay song as the soundtrack to a sports game is amusing to me), Details magazine, Speedo. Hmm.

The Village Voice on metrosexual backlash


Han said…
the worst I've ever got was when I went clubbing with a couple of my friends here in Melbourne, thinking it was Asian Night (want to check out hot ABC chicks), and it turned out to be GAY night!!!

Ok, fine, so the girls in the group wanted to stay cos they feel safe dancing amongst the gay guys. I can understand, many look good (the masculine ones, not the fairy queen types), none are sleazy, and all are good dancers.

So anyhow, there I was trying to enjoy myself for the sake of my friends, and this absolute sleazebag (!!!) sidles up besides me and hooks his arm around my waist!

He starts schmoozing and trying to get physically close to me, I was like 'errr... I'm not interested...' and he didn't take the hint...

In the end I had to go dirty dance with the girls before he stopped bugging me...

Now I know how girls feel when they get schmoozed on while clubbing.
Anonymous said…
David Colman uses the term "gay-vague" many times in his article, and it appears to be his own invention.

"Gay-vague" is a term that was coined by a business journalist, Michael Wilke. The phrase appeared in his reporting for Advertising Age from 1994-98.

Shouldn't David Colman at least acknowledge this source in his article? Without crediting the source, is this plagiarism? "Gay-vague" is not a commonly used phrase in the New York Times. It appears that only one article from the New York Times archive used this phrase, back in 1996.

Information about journalist Michael Wilke's use of
the phrase "gay-vague" appears at the URL below:

Daryl said…
Thanks anon for the pointer... that's not nice, to look like you invented a phrase.
Anonymous said…
try the quiz, "metrosexual or gay-vague?"
Daryl said…
I scored a perfect 10 on that quiz.

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