Trope of the Crying Gay Man

Yesterday, I lectured about the televised trope of the crying gay man in my Gender and Communication class, or how, in the absence of sex, tears verify a gay character’s “abnormal” sexuality and gender performance. The lecture is pretty critical of this trope—not of crying gay men but how producers rely on this convention to bolster homophobic myths. I use my experiences on BB to substantiate claims I make in the lecture. Because I caught so much flack for crying so much on the show, I’ve been a LOT less emotional since doing Big Brother. 90% of my crying was me mourning my father. In the house I kept thinking, “I can’t believe my dad doesn’t get to see me on TV. I can’t believe he never saw the man I became.” And then the tears started to flow. Words can’t express how horrible it felt to be attacked for that grief, to be ridiculed for those tears. I’ve spent the last couple of years bottling up my emotions, afraid to cry. Last night on “Ru-Paul’s Drag Race: Untucked,” Chad Michaels got a video message from his father, who he hadn’t spoken to in 25 years. His dad told him how much he missed him, how proud he was of him, how talented he was. Just like that, the tears came. Chad Michaels’ father told him everything I imagined my father would say to me had he been alive to see me on Big Brother. The “Untucked” producers handled the situation with such grace. It sucks that my tears were turned into a punchline and never contextualized (despite long diary room sessions in which I narrated the WHY of my crying). It’s kinda’ troubling that I was the only person in the final 7 of BB12 who didn’t get a friends-and-family package, one of the segments that help humanize contestants and show that they are connected to a family, home, and community outside the Big Brother house. My mourning was turned into what Dubrofsky describes as a “pornography of emotion.” I’m not bitter, just reflective and critical of how so many gay men are depicted on mainstream TV.

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