I mistakenly read the latest New York Observer headline as “Gays love depression!” and shrugged it off, as this wasn’t new news. Then I noticed that easy-to-miss article and read on. Essentially, Observer writer John Koblin culls together a collection of viewpoints from the most stereotypical cross-section of gay men, then quietly notes, “Gays love a depression!” Before patting himself on the back for his anthropological excellence, he shoehorns an obligatory if confusing gay cowboy reference. Then he explicates his thesis by stalking said gays in their natural habitats: Bergdorf’s! Chelsea! Circuit parties! Another important lesson we learn in Koblin’s piece? Gays! Love! Exclamation! Marks! And another lesson, you ask? Read on!
Why, we love shopping, too! Never mind the fact that there are many of us who break into hives or would sooner sit on hot coals than be subjected to Soho during Christmas; one individual Koblin interviews gushes, “I definitely still have to shop. It’s got to be done. We can’t let it affect the way we live. I’m a shopper and most of my gay friends are. I haven’t bought a full-priced piece of merchandise in the last two months because there are so many sales.” Wiping tears of joy from his face, he adds, “I’ve actually been shopping more, I think!” LOL! Although to his defense, some HR recruit says the wilting economy makes previously unaffordable luxuries otherwise slightly less unaffordable.
While Koblin’s historical evidence is undoubtedly spot-on, it’s also anachronistic. Recessions might have parallels, but the circumstances around them vary wildly. And in this era, where gay politics has achieved dinner-table conversation status, a population that once may have banded together for the same cause (and recently defied odds to do so) now finds themselves divided into smaller, incompatible cliques. Packs of hipsters and Chelsea natives regard each other the same way the Spice Girls once regarded aliens. In turn, this makes Koblin’s contrived, too-obvious Madonna and Queer Eye mentions unfortunate and dismissive . But among all his shortcomings, he does manage to get one thing right: The gays sure love themselves some booze. But, err, we’ve always loved ourselves a stiff Long Island — long before everyone lost their jobs. Now we’re just savvier at developing effective drinking strategies, although we may very well have been the forerunners of drunkorexia.
Sadly, Madonna reference and all, Koblin’s most visible pratfall in the piece is that he fails to take into account how the New Depression has affected the consumption of culture among gays. No longer are we so keen on Beyoncé ordering us to upgrade ourselves (no matter how badly we may want to). Instead, we research less-obnoxious pop alternatives that seem to showcase modesty and a recessionomic sensibility. But perhaps that trait is most definitive to us who like their culture tart, still envisioning Sarah Palin, with pageant sash, standing tall on a gay pride parade float.