I’ve not said much about Lance Bass since his coming out last year. I really haven’t seen much of a need to. (Personally I’m a J.T. fan and have his bobblehead doll on my desk. There, I said it.) Certainly it should be expected that when a handsome guy from an immensely popular boy band comes out of the closet under the circumstances that Bass did, the media is going to clamor around the story for as long as they can. And they did. Queerty, Perez Hilton, People magazine, ET, Popnography, etc, have given Bass more coverage than the other celebrities of note who came out of the closet last year (Neil Patrick Harris, for example.) And commenters on several popular blogs weren’t exactly shy about their derisive comments about Bass, from his relationship with Reichen Lemkuhl, to their joint reception of HRC awards, and beyond—some of it quite silly, and often extremely petty.
While I don’t see how he particularly deserved an HRC award, much of the vitriol aimed at Lance Bass by what should be a welcoming community seems quite undeserved. I’ve read the terms, “Fat,” “Untalented,” “Screaming Queen,” “Twink,” “Fluffer,” and more I won’t print here because there’s a certain level of class I won’t sink to. Suffice to say, there are a number of gay people out there who just don’t like Lance Bass and by all evidence can’t deal with their own levels of insane jealousy. (Perez, I’m looking at you, fattie.)
One item in particular that’s grabbed my interest about this involved Lance’s recent interview with Advocate magazine, as he recounted using the phrase, “Straight-Acting”:
“The result was a cover story that went a long way to further gay visibility but still prompted sniping from many gays — especially for employing the divisive phrase “straight-acting.”
“That People magazine article was hilarious,” says Perez Hilton, who often covers Bass on his widely read blog. “If Lance Bass is a straight-acting gay, then I eat pussy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
Even now, Bass blanches when he’s reminded of the term, which he calls a rookie mistake. “It was a very normal phrase among my circle of friends—and they’d always say, ‘You’re such a SAG’ — a straight-acting gay. So I reveal that to People magazine, and it looks like I created this phrase and [that] I’m trying to start this movement that you should be straight-acting if you’re gay. It’s just dumb!”
Dumb doesn’t begin to describe it. As if Lance Bass invented that term. Pfft. Drivel.
When I first really found the internet, only a few years after coming out myself, I remember searching for “straight-acting” gays, since that’s what I considered myself to be. And I found a website called Straightacting dot com. Guess what? It’s still around, and quite popular from the looks of it. There are lots and lots of men on there, (many of whom “I could tell just by lookin’, honey,” lol). Evidently Lance, you are not so alone as you think.
Unfortunately, the non-effeminate of us tend to not speak up and or identify as gay because we’re afraid of one thing or another. How sad that is. Personally I choose not to use the term “straight-acting” because it just causes misunderstandings and sidesteps any hope of a real conversation. After all, I’m not “acting” about anything. I’m gay, proud of myself and my husband, and unapologetic about who I am and how I am. I also am regularly told that I don’t “act it”—meaning I don’t “act” gay, or perhaps gay enough. Whatever. As I learned long ago, once you’re comfortable, truly comfortable with yourself and who you are, you stop caring how other people perceive you. If you’re flamboyant in your gayness, good for you. Don’t apologize for it, and don’t tone it down if you’re just naturally that way. In the same vein, however, if you’re not naturally flamboyant, you don’t have to put on those airs in order to make the sniping comment bitches happy, either on the net or in real life. Who the hell has that kind of energy, anyway?
Don’t misunderstand me: I realize that we live in the real world and if you go down certain streets in a rainbow tutu on roller skates singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, you’re bound to get beat up. Obviously you need to curtail certain behavior depending on your own situation. But if you can never be yourself because of your situation, then the first thing you need to do is change the situation. Because what good is it to stop pretending to be straight if you have to pretend to be something else that you’re not?
I get a lot of emails from young queers who read my coming out story and tell me how it moved them—and I’m very happy about that. The whole reason I put my life story on that page was to give some encouragement and hope to young gays in difficult life situations. I’m glad it has worked to at least some extent. But the point of my coming out story was really the last four words: But I Found Myself.
And that’s the most important thing any of us can do, no matter what we call ourselves, or each other.