a blog with cultural bulimia.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

strange power of homosexuality

Some interesting ideas via The Village Voice
"I doubt that Charles will be murdered with a red-hot poker up his bum, as Edward II was for his same-sex inclinations. But unless the uproar dies down, he may be forced to defer to snow-white William rather than sully the international mystique of the British crown. Such is the strange power of homosexuality to subvert tradition and hierarchy. Keeping that threat at bay is the purpose of the closet.

The greatest lesson I ever had in queer theory was watching Liberace perform. It was the gayest show I'd ever seen, complete with a young protégé who accompanied him in a matching spangled getup. Yet when Liberace took his bow, the aisles were filled with swooning ladies. How can they possibly regard him as an object of adoration, I wondered? The answer lay in what he didn't say. As long as Lee's sexuality was unacknowledged, his fans could preserve their romantic fantasy no matter how campy he got. The unspoken maintains the illusion of normalcy. Liberace's closet didn't require credibility; only silence.

If you think the days of denying the evident are over, check out the Metropolitan Museum's exhibit on men in skirts. Though few dudes will wear this garment, designers keep producing it, decade after decade. Why this persistence in the absence of a market? The curators discuss everything from gender politics to subcultural strategies, but they don't offer the most logical explanation: Many male designers are gay. This is not an issue of outing, but of honoring the customary silence among couturiers. It's the rag-trade equivalent of "don't ask, don't tell."