Pam Spaulding at Pandagon gave the heads-up on a Massachusetts pageant of sorts held recently that paid homage to a quietly underappreciated segment of society: the white heterosexual male. The creation of Pastor Tom Crouse, "Mr. Hetero" is "a real competition that will bring fun and laughter as we celebrate God’s design," giving straight men a little credit in a time where gays just seem to coming out of the baseboards like termites. It also gives them the opportunity to "reclaim" the rainbow, now all but hijacked by the vast homosexual conspiracy as a symbol of their struggle for rights and acceptance.
Now, I don't know too many straight men who long to take their rainbow-striped sweatshirts out of storage and wear them proudly in public, but won't out of fear that someone might think they like to take it in the back door. As a matter of fact, I don't know any. But I digress. Blogger Peterson Toscano actually attended the event, reporting on the events that took place and the unspoken yet unmistakable message it sent. Some competitions included who could come up with the most creative use of duct tape (because all straight men are handy around the house, while a gay man wouldn't know a hammer from a hockey stick), identifying junk food while blindfolded (because only a gay man would be conscientious about what sort of food he puts in his body), who could compose the most touching marriage proposal, and who possessed the strength necessary to tear a copy of Oprah Winfrey's magazine O in half. Trying to open a jar of pickles leaves me winded, but I could easily tear a copy of O in half, so I doubt that that particular competition was really meant to exhibit feats of strength so much as it was to prove that real men don't need Oprah. If they really wanted something that took strength, they should have had them tear the spring fashion issue of Vogue in half, as it's several inches thicker and far more beloved by gay men than O.
More after the jump.
I'm not sure how any of this is supposed to pay tribute to the good old-fashioned beer drinkin', ladies lovin' American male, other than to uphold tired old "this means you're gay/this means you're straight" cliches. Good taste apparently prevailed before they announced the farting and ball scratching contests, but really now, is skill with duct tape and a love of junk food an inheritently "straight guy" trait? A similar contest for straight women would have to involve fingernail painting and being able to identify brands of shoes and handbags. If I'm to be identified as straight or gay solely on those abilities, you might as well line me up as the opening act for the next Indigo Girls show. Perhaps it says something about the quality of the men I associate with, but I don't think I know a single one who fits cleanly into the archetype of their particular sexuality. Most of the straight men I know are excellent cooks. Not all of them are particularly skilled craftsmen. Most of them hate the taste of beer. Not all of them are sports fanatics. On the other hand, I've known gay men who are athletic, who've been terrible slobs, and who are incapable of expressing themselves emotionally. Unless one is deliberately trying to fit the pre-conceived notions of what "gay" and "straight," "masculine" and "feminine" is, one's sexuality is not going to determine one's interests and abilities. Not all gay men can dance, not all straight men like strip clubs.
The 'Mr. Hetero' contest does a disheartening disservice to both straight and gay men alike. Let's face it, none of the abilities the contestants were asked to demonstrate are all that impressive, that is, I can't say I'd be wetting my drawers over a guy who can remove his own chest hair with duct tape. Are straight men supposed to be proud of these acts of sheer testicular fortitude, simply because gay men won't want to take a part in it? Are men who are currently struggling with their sexuality supposed to believe that their everyday actions and interests, what they eat, what they like to watch on TV, what they read will be used as a gauge for how gay or straight they might be? Goodness knows that's enough pressure, without Pastor Crouse exacerbating the situation by being one of those well-meaning but deeply misguided bozos who claims to have been saved from the sin of homosexuality by the love of one Mr. Jesus H. Christ. The pastor gave a speech proclaiming that heterosexual men should be proud to "God's design," as opposed to homosexuals, who are apparently God's failed experiment, or Satan's joke upon the world, however they want to consider it. Thus, the celebration of manly activities such as tearing up magazines dedicated to strong female role models and stuffing your face full of potato chips, and the wearing of t-shirts proclaiming oneself to be '100% Hetero.' The average male probably rates more around 75 to 85% hetero, given the variables of men who are obsessed with cleanliness and those who really know how to get down and boogie, but there's hope for them yet.