I spent pretty much every day of seventh grade reenacting Jack's bits from Will & Grace, and Melissa Powell and Sarah Fox made me feel gorgeous and hilarious. I never thought Sean Hayes came across as a stereotype, or a caricature, or in any way offensive to the gay community; I thought I'd finally found somebody on TV whom I could relate to and who really made me laugh. Doing my best Jack impression didn't just make me a ridiculously effeminate 14-year-old boy trying his hardest to fit in; it made me a ridiculously effeminate 14-year-old boy trying his hardest to fit in and getting laughs doing it.
Somewhere between now and then, criticizing Will & Grace or any person or character on TV who's the slightest bit effeminate, over-the-top, or remotely polarizing has become the acceptable/cool thing to do. We are, luckily, living in a time when, slowly but surely, a wide variety of gay characters are popping up on TV and in movies, but along with that has come the popular notion that we should tear apart any gay person or character who comes across as "too gay." "Too gay" has become a common criticism in the gay community, and one with eerie overtones of self-hatred and internalized homophobia. Guys proclaim to be "straight-acting," as if being "straight-acting" is something to strive for. Since when do gay people hate themselves so much that they want to appear "straight"?
I get a lot of online criticism for being too much of a "stereotype"... which I reckon I sort of am. I watch Designing Women when I'm sad, I love wigs, and I'm already excited for Liza at the Hollywood Bowl in August. (Are you going? Lets go together! I'll make mini quiches! You bring a sparkling rosé!) For a long time, being considered a stereotype really made me mad; I wanted to prove how unstereotypical I am, but recently I've come to realize that what others might consider a stereotype I consider just being myself, and that the easiest way to find happiness is to embrace the things that make you happy and just go with it -- even if it is dancing to Bette Midler's Divine Madness album in your underwear.
I think the coolest part of being gay is being a part of a community that's full of people who are proud of themselves just the way they are. The last thing gay people need is the gay community hating on the boys who enjoy Donna Summer dance parties, or the boys who call their friend Bryan "gurl," or those who dressed up as Patti Lupone in Sweeney Todd when they were at college in North Carolina (just, um, imagining). We're past needing to be put in boxes labeled "straight-acting," "too femme," "butch," or "masc." It's 2012, and being gay can literally be anything you want it to be. We may not have nationally recognized marriage yet, but we've certainly got that.
I think it's time we own our femininity... and our masculinity, and anything else we've got going on. Let's be proud of ourselves and do a little less judging before we go demanding that other communities not judge us. OK, gurrl?