Gawker recently posted an article on “how to tell the difference between a hipster and a gay.” The article was written apparently in response to one reader’s inquiry regarding the latter question, claiming “”hipsterdom has permanently destroyed my gaydar” [revealing very clearly that the reader’s gaydar was not very strong in the first place]. Gawker initially posed the question to a large audience, and then created the article by compiling the ‘best’ answers. Here is what they said:
1. “Usually I go by the old standard: if he makes out with boys, he’s gay. Sadly, the hipsters have ruined THAT theorum as well.” –Colonel Mustard
2. “Gays generally stick to the clears when drinking such as vodka and gin. Straights prefer bourbon and whiskey. Single malt scotch though is the for both groups.” –Regimentkhaki
3. “I’d go with the muscle tone thing. The pretty young gay-boys may want to look like waifs on the outside, but there’s 30 hours a week at David Barton underneath those skinny jeans.” –Lionel Mandrake
4. “Facial hair: mountain-man beard=straight, Olivier Theyskens face-pubes=gay. –beefer
5. “Hairstyle Asymmetricality: over 25%=gay.” –beefer
6. “Eyebrows: Jello Biafra dramatic=straight, Liza Minnelli arches=gay.” –beefer
7. “If they ride fixed gear than it is more than 90% likely that they are straight.” –Frannyincognito
Notice that most of what was said involved arbitrary distinctions of aesthetics and fashion, although I do give credit to answers 1 and 2 for discussing cultural/habitual distinctions, rather than style. Clearly people’s fashions choices indicate their moral lifestyles; their aesthetic choices are used as “social hieroglyphics” for others. Two other aspects of this article stick out to me: firstly, and most saliently, is the complete dominance of men. Why, when speaking about either hipsters or gays, weren’t women included in either group? It boggles the mind. The exclusion of women from both groups demonstrates the sexism that pervades LGBTQ discussions so often. Even the word ‘gay’ is synonymous with both homosexual men and homosexual men and women together, but ‘lesbian’ is never, ever used to refer to men or groups other than women.
The second aspect of this article that mismatched along similar lines to the first, is why ostensible ‘hipsters’ and gays are mutually exclusive categories. The entire article bases its premise off trying to find divisions between two groups that are very often one and the same. (Note to the reader: There is no real definition of a ‘hipster,’ but since the article is based on the term I’m going to use it. Here I am using ‘hipster’ to refer to the crowd that otherwise has no positively identifying name – the ‘Modern Hippie,’ if you will. For the purpose of this discussion I am not using ‘hipster’ in its derogatory sense, since no one likes to actually call themselves a hipster. I’m confident you all know the group I’m talking about, even though it’s very hard to articulate in words that go beyond fashion choice.) Why can’t a hipster be gay? Or vice versa? That no one called attention to this logical fallacy, or at least none that Gawker posted about, highlights the very real fact that the LGBTQ community are still wholly considered “The Other,” and therefore not at all integrated into social groups. Gays’ most salient identity is, obviously, their sexuality, and many people seem to think that the idea of someone LGBTQ-identified would ever include themselves in any other group, or look like “Us” (the non-Other), is preposterous. Furthermore, since the lines are supposedly now being blurred, Gawker felt it necessary to provide a place for people to redefine those lines, and put those gays back in their Other group. This article says a lot about where our culture is in the fight against sexism, fashion policing, and identity acceptance.