Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Haughty and the Naughty

A rare miss for Dan Savage as he misinterprets a question:

I am at a heavy-metal show at a dive bar as I write this. There are tons of guys I consider hot here, 98 percent of whom, I’m sure, are straight. But I got a vibe off this one guy. This is such a macho environment, though, that there’s a considerable amount of danger in asking the question, “So, you gay?”

I remember an episode of Law & Order where Jerry Orbach tried to determine if a suspect was in AA by asking a secret question. Something like, “Are you a friend of Bill W.?” The idea was that the question was innocuous if you weren’t in AA.

Since you are the king of “santorum” and “pegging” and “saddlebacking,” I thought maybe you could invent a secret question for masculine gay men in masculine environments. Something like, “Hey, do you like to barbecue?” So how ’bout it? Can you declare the official secret are-you-a-masculine-gay-guy question?


Men Are Cute Hot Objects

The best I could come up with on my own, MACHO, was this: “A Little Night Music—original Broadway cast recording or original London cast?” But that line will get your ass kicked in a lot of gay bars—as I know from bitter experience. So let’s toss this out to my readers, the folks who came up with the definitions for “santorum,” “pegging,” and “saddlebacking”: Okay, gang, we’re looking for an innocuous question that 1) all fags everywhere would know the answer to but 2) no straight guys anywhere would. My long-suffering interns—their uniforms chafe—await your suggested questions at mail@savagelove.net.


Obviously Dan's correspondent wants an arbitrary code that gay people can use to identify each other. Hence the barbecue example. There's nothing gay about wanting to savor the feeling of some meat in your mouth - the point is to decide on something that could plausibly come up randomly but that is specific enough that gay people who are clued in can pick up on it. "Do you like barbecue?" is only okay, because when are you going to be able to use a line like that without sounding ridiculous? Also, how is a gay person supposed to answer? A straight person could plausibly answer "yes" or "no," so neither answer tells you much. You want a question like, "What is your favorite kind of beer?" so that the gay answer can be "coffee porter" or something. A few straight people are going to say "coffee porter," but few enough that the level of false positives will be low. However the question is not ideal because it's not exactly a natural thing to bring up in many settings.

But what MACHO doesn't want is a question that can weed out the gay from the straight, only at the expense of outing the questioner. Dan thinks the guy wants a question that only a gay person would know the answer to, but that's only half of the equation, hence the need for a code.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sarang said...

The optimal signaling strategy probably involves specifically gay constructions involving borderline innocuous adverbs like "truly." "Do you truly like to barbecue?" "What is your truly favorite beer?" "Would you truly like to give me a blowjob?" etc. This would let you ask some situationally appropriate question as long as you put the codeword in it.

12:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home