Sunday, June 14, 2009

#3 The Gay Aesthetic


The effect of the gay population on a straight guy’s romantic prospects is complex. On one hand, gays take up male space without actually stealing any girls, which, at least statistically, reduces competition among straight guys and opens up the field a bit, like a power play in hockey. On the other hand, gays can send girls into a spiral of anti-straight guy despair, a condition in which “It’s always the best ones [that are heterosexually unavailable]” and every straight man is a selfish, sloppy, cheeseball mess, like Jose Conseco slump busting his way through Vegas.

In San Francisco, a girl will know busloads of gay guys. These guys, make no mistake, are not the gay guy or two who is our old college roommate or maybe fraternity brother, the guy who never does laundry, watches Sportscenter, wears frayed khakis and, if given the opportunity, shaves bi-monthly. That guy is just a straight guy who prefers men over women sexually as well as personally. He’s a regular dude cutting back on transaction costs.


No, the gay guys that SF girls befriend are advanced. They quote English novelists, get expensive hair cuts, manipulate zappos.com’s free shipping policy, and wear jeans that are not only expensive but the correct size. They take Bosu Bootcamp classes at Crunch Fitness. They instinctively know about things girls care about. What they possess is that set of graceful and inimitable sensibilities - a trendy fashion sense, a knowledge of wine, art and world affairs, and a weakness for cupcakes - recognized as the Gay Aesthetic.


Like the Power Rangers, no one element of the Gay Aesthetic is very powerful on its own, but when packaged together in one cheerful, garrulous personality the resulting force is mighty. A girl sees a forbidden splendor that outshines the dull charms of heterosexuality like daylight does a lamp. The comparison makes any straight guy seem like a dim-witted dumpster diver, like that booger pickin' cousin from a trailer home up the valley; all hand me down t-shirts, grass-stained knees and mismatched stripes on tube socks. The cousin you host in the back yard so your friends can't see.


San Francisco guys, like guys across the world, have made good-faith attempts to mimic the Gay Aesthetic in order to get girls to like them. The achievement of such efforts is labeled Metrosexuality and though there were initial breakthroughs real success has proved illusory. As a practiced move it may attract attention but it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Girls sense that it’s just a ruse. Metrosexual guys look and sometimes act gay but girls know they’re not the real thing.

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