For a production company that specializes mostly in wedding videos, I’m not expecting a real nuanced look at the intersection of gender presentation and sexuality that would be the most potentially interesting aspect of a new reality television project looking for gender-bending straight folks. It’s called Straight as a Board. Here’s what the casting call says:
The only applicant on RealityWanted.com – Andrea
Although LGBT folks struggle against stereotypes every day, there are some that we occasionally, or often, embrace. We reinforce many of them when we claim to have such abilities as “gaydar.” I would even venture to say that our gaydar is right most of the time, so, clearly, outward gender markers do play a role in our sexual orientation. The more interesting questions are whether those outward gender markers are a reflection of what is inside us or a reflection of culture and fashion outside of our innate selves.
For example, the image of the metrosexual new man has been throwing off our gaydar for about a decade now and woman, even straight ones, have been allowed to wear pants for about the last half century. Americans trying to determine European male sexuality? Well, frankly, we’re usually pretty befuddled.
Plenty of straight, heteroflexible, or anywhere-along-the-spectrum people can embrace gender ambiguous fashion, for comfort, style or a number of other reasons, but whether they will is largely determined by what is culturally acceptable. Because one garment seldom is inherently feminine or masculine across time and culture (skirt vs. kilt for example) what makes fashion gendered is our way of looking at it.
So when straight people are breaking current societal gender molds it could be for several reasons. The clothes or mannerisms could just feel natural to them physically, or they could like the way that aesthetic looks. They could also, consciously or unconsciously, be combating traditional gendered stereotypes. Does the desire to battle stereotypes imply a kind of queerness in itself? Or is it queerer to inherently desire to adopt the style and mannerisms of what is traditionally considered the “opposite” gender?
I once lived with the gayest straight man you have ever seen. He was a very well-kempt storyteller and even appeared in a rainbow clown costume in a gay pride parade. He lived in a very accepting household in a very gay-friendly city so it is harder to simply say that he was repressed. But was he confused?
I still find it hard to believe that he is as entirely straight as he claims but is that my own internalized homophobia and stereotyping? Because I have a hard time believing than anyone is entirely gay or straight this may be a moot point, but then again, I tend to want to push boundaries no matter who I date and what I wear.