Why “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends” falls flat
Darren Sharp | Fulcrum Staff
Illustration by Mico Mazza
A College Humor video called “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends” has gone viral over the past week. It features a group of attractive, rich gay men listing all the reasons they’d be better husbands to the women of the world than would their straight counterparts. These reasons include that gay men are in amazing shape, they’re wizards in the kitchen, and they not only would love to attend, but also already star in, your girlfriend’s favourite Broadway show.
Not to be a fun sponge, but why is the LGBT community using stereotypes to fight stereotypes?
There’s a lot to be said for using humour as a civil rights tool. Shows like The Colbert Report have been using comedy and satire to poke holes in anti-gay arguments for years. People who wouldn’t normally know much about LGBT issues will see the College Humor video and perhaps get a few laughs out of it.
But who is this video really aimed at? Anyone watching who believes the stereotypes perpetuated about gay men will see them perpetuated again here and be none the wiser. Anyone who knows that these stereotypes are ridiculous will get a kick out of the clip—but those people already believe in marriage equality. College Humor is preaching to the choir.
I had the same issue with the FCKH8 campaign. FCKH8 is a group that started as a response to Proposition 8, the California bill passed in 2008 that stripped LGBT couples of their recently gained marriage rights. The FCKH8 campaign has been advertised through YouTube videos that show LGBT people and their allies swearing loudly and obnoxiously at the camera. Kids and grandparents alike have been filmed dropping F-bombs galore about why gay marriage should be legal and why its opponents are in the wrong.
Pro-LGBT viewers of the FCKH8 videos found them hilarious and effective, while anti-LGBT viewers simply found them offensive. So what cause was FCKH8 truly forwarding if the only people they had a positive effect on were the ones who supported the cause already?
“Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends” falls into the same traps. It doesn’t add anything new to the conversation. Instead of coming up with a unique and clever point of view, the video falls back on tired tropes about gay men teaching urban tango and baking an amazing quiche.
For all I know, this video was not intended to be used in the fight for civil rights, which is fine; comedy is allowed to be hilarious for hilarity’s sake. However, if the goal is to make a case for gay marriage, then it falls flat. Using stereotypes to influence people on a social issue only works if the people you’re trying to convince are in on the joke. Unfortunately, with “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends,” I fear that anti-gay people are laughing at, not with, gay men.