The reality of gay sex

Bruce C. Steele

Politically speaking, my favorite openly gay reality TV stars are the couples. A few days before they flew to Ottawa, Canada, to get legally married, Amazing Race contestants Lynn Warren and Alex Ali dropped by Hollywood for lunch with The Advocate’s arts and entertainment editor, Alonso Duralde, and me. Over salads and sandwiches at Hamburger Hamlet they were every bit as loopy and lively as they’d seemed on this past winter’s CBS reality show. (They came in fifth, in case you missed it.) They were excited about their upcoming nuptials, generously sponsored by gay-friendly tourist destinations and an Ottawa radio station. A honeymoon in Hawaii was to follow.

As we finished eating, a Midwestern-looking nuclear family–Dad, Mom, two well-scrubbed kids, clearly tourists–stopped by the table to say hi. “We started off rooting for Rob and Amber,” the dad said, referring to the obnoxious engaged Racers who’d previously won $1.1 million on Survivor: All-Stars. Rob and Amber nearly elbowed their way to victory on the Race too; at one point they drove hurriedly past Lynn and Alex when the gay couple had stopped to help other contestants whose SUV had overturned, injuring a cameraman. After that incident, Dad went on, “we started rooting for you.”

Mom nodded in agreement. Everyone shook hands, and the family went back to sightseeing. It wasn’t exactly an endorsement of Lynn and Alex’s same-sex wedding, but it was remarkable nonetheless.

Reichen Lehmkuhl and Chip Arndt were the first gay couple to win a big reality prize, also on The Amazing Race. They called themselves “married” throughout the show–a mixed blessing when it turned out they’d broken up shortly after collecting the $1 million. But for 13 weeks the word married appeared beneath their names on TVs all over the country.

Married. As in: the wedding night. As in: the marital bed, marital relations. As in: Gay people express their love through both commitment and (gasp!) sex.

One tastefully dressed gay person–or two gay best pals, or five makeover experts–can be joyfully neutered, teasing yet sexless. But a married gay couple says Someone’s getting some. Deal with it.

On his own, whether in his calendar or on E!’s new Kill Reality series, debuting July 25, Reichen still carries that connotation. He knows his chief asset is his sexual magnetism, and he works it. It’s fine for us to moan and groan about the shaved-smooth muscled stereotype (see page 80 for more on the politics of body hair, and page 72 for some beyond-the-stereotypical images), but it’s also vital to grab our share of sexed-up or smooching spokesmodels.

You can’t look at Reichen and deny that he’s a sexual being. You can’t meet Lynn and Alex and not grasp immediately that they enjoy jumping each other’s bones when they’re home alone.

Once the Midwestern nuclear family is really ready to deal with that reality, we’ll all be better off.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

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