IF IT'S OK for a couple of hundred men to prance along Oxford St with feather dusters strapped to their backsides during the Mardi Gras, who could be offended by comic Sacha Baron Cohen dressing up like a homosexual fashion designer and camping it up?
Sydney's self-anointed guardians of the homosexual flame, that's who. Who are they? Hairdresser Troy Thompson (no jokes about stereotypical gay occupations, please) and homosexual activist and hospitality worker Gary Burns, that's who. What is their complaint? They claim that the Bruno character in Cohen's latest movie will reinforce the straight community's stereotypical view of homosexuals as a group of mincing, lisping, limp-wristed queers and increase prejudice which could cause sniggering and ridicule.
Hold on, doesn't the annual Mardi Gras do more than enough to reinforce that view already? Most Australians would know some homosexuals - male or female - who don't fit the stereotype perpetuated by the Mardi Gras and the more extreme members of the homosexual community generally. There are lesbians who don't have basin hair cuts, who don't roll their own cigarettes and who don't wear workman's overalls.
And there are homosexual men who don't work in hair salons, wave their hands about as they speak or dance to Kylie Minogue's music, but the homosexual organisations don't seem to see them.
The Mardi Gras crowd likes to attract attention. For years, Mardi Gras organisers have claimed that their parade draws such a huge audience that, realistically, if everyone they boasted shows up actually did show up they could not fit on Oxford St even if they were jammed cheek-to-cheek, as it were. The organisers like to proclaim they are proudly out there, sometimes they are offensively out there. There is no other display of high-camp behaviour in the homosexual world that matches the Mardi Gras, even if it is getting a little tedious with its tired old attacks on Christianity (but not Islam) and its stereotypical marching boys and dancing queens.
The Mardi Gras mob get grants from the NSW Government and the Sydney City Council to fund this display of stereotypes. Shouldn't Thompson and Burns be objecting to the expenditure of public money on an event that only reinforces the high-camp image of the gay community?
Burns is a serial litigant. He sued John Laws for using the expression "pillow-biter" during a program and The Footy Show for lampooning Elton John. The origin of the term "pillow-biter" is interesting. It came to public notoriety when British MP Jeremy Thorpe, a former leader of the UK Liberal Party (not to be in any way confused with the Australian Liberals) was accused of having a homosexual affair with a model, Norman Scott. During an extraordinary trial, Scott claimed that Thorpe had subjected him to various sex acts during which he had no recourse but to "bite a pillow". Thorpe was acquitted but the English language embraced a new expression.
I don't know whether or not Baron Cohen's new film Bruno promotes a stereotypical view of homosexuals. I haven't seen it. But I do know that it would have to work hard to beat the Mardi Gras' record for promoting the stereotypical perspective.
What Thompson and Burns are trying to do is reshape the homosexual stereotype to fit their ideal. This is a big task that they are clearly unsuited for. "We have people coming over to our country stereotyping us in this imagery," Burns said of Bruno. "The majority of gay men are not like him. People will continue to hold prejudice against gay men as that's the stereotype imagery that causes ridicule and sniggering."
Homosexuals come in most shapes and sizes. They are not universally limp-wristed, nor do they all lisp, but nor are they uniformly creative or musical or good dancers. They are just people. Some of them, clearly, like to prance up Oxford St. Many of them don't.
If Thompson and Burns don't like the idea of Bruno, they should be even angrier about the Mardi Gras but I can't find any evidence that either of them have ever complained about the Mardi Gras' depiction of their friends.
Baron Cohen has done it again. He has outraged a minority, has exposed a deep vein of hypocrisy and probably attracted more viewers than he thought would ever pay to see Bruno.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here