Just this morning, someone arrived at my blog by confidently Googling “Joseph Gelfer is gay”. I get this kind of thing quite a bit. Sometimes it comes as a direct question, other times it is about someone revising my biographical data on Wikipedia (oddly, the same wiki-vandal also had a bone to pick with the Methodist revivalist Howell Harris, Jazz musician John Mehegan and actor Christopher Eccleston).
As it happens, I don’t believe in the gay/straight binary, so would reject this statement not in terms of whether it is true, but because the category of “gay” has insufficient or restrictive meaning.
But it gets me thinking: which scenario is more acceptable to the kind of people who find my critique of masculinity objectionable:
- Gelfer is openly gay;
- Gelfer might be gay;
- Gelfer is straight?
My feeling is that “Gelfer is openly gay” is the most preferable option to these people as it allows them to dismiss my position as simply a bit of gay propaganda. These folks may have no problem with gay people, but won’t take them very seriously as critics of masculinity, as they are considered to perform only a faux-masculinity in the first place.
“Gelfer is straight” is a more challenging proposition as it suggests that I speak from a position of “full” masculinity, yet still feel inclined to critique it. Folks attempt to dismiss it by declaring I am wallowing in self-hate and misandry, even if this is clearly not the case in light of my many pro-people/pro-male comments.
However, “Gelfer might be gay” is an altogether more troubling possibility. If I were openly gay, they could dismiss me. If I were clearly straight, they at least would know what they’re dealing with. But if they’re not sure? Whoa: that’s where the panic sets in; things may not be as they seem!
There’s a niggling kernel to this panic that begrudgingly states, “feck … Gelfer … might … actually … be …right.” This is the moment when the Masculinity Conspiracy is ideally revealed, or I am dismissed as slightly mad (even if madness—like masculinity—is largely a social construction).
Such are the outcomes of arriving at this blog on a particular search term. I may need to unpack my recent favourite of “joseph gelfer prophetic hippie”. It’s all about me, you know 😉