May 16, 2007
Currently there exists a widespread myth which must be squashed: Gay men dress better than straight men. This is, quite simply, a delusion of the utmost proportions – a fabricated notion utilized for nothing but self-aggrandizing and the perpetuation of archaic stereotypes from both sides of the fence. Because of its virtual omnipresence, the assailing efforts must be collective. Members from each team – men, women, homo, and hetero - should face the reality of the situation and come to an admission of equality when it comes to the ability (or, more commonly, inability) to dress oneself. Sartorial savvy has no basis in sexuality and should be recognized as a distinctly admirable quality. Likewise, pitiable ignorance when it comes to selecting attire is no more sexuality-driven than the way someone ties their shoes.
How did this fallacy possibly originate? It is my conjecture that the perceived preoccupation gay men have with their appearance is at the root of the myth. Many would say that because some homosexual men spend more time primping, pruning, and coiffing in front of the mirror, this translates to a fashionable appearance. These simple folks, usually clad in synthetic fibers and prominently-whiskered jeans, could not be more wrong. A distinction must be made between the fixation upon an image and proficiency with style. Gazing at oneself in a poorly lit bathroom while exhausting the world's supply of pomade and attempting to hide the fraying threads on an H&M T-shirt from four years ago is hardly in the vicinity of chic.
Perhaps the incitement of this rather strange behavior will offer a key. Gays most certainly use clothing to create an identity for themselves, desperately trying to carve an individual persona from common social stereotypes of the "gay man", though the truly enlightened know the "gay" identity takes on innumerable forms. Oddly enough, this is the same behavior some homosexuals use to assert themselves as something separate from the straights. Such burdensome efforts leave very little room to truly express oneself in a stylish and comfortable manner, leaving the beholders painfully aware of the dresser's motives.
What would a discussion of questionable vesture on gay men be without considering the most obvious motive of sexual attraction? Chest-baring V-necks, ass-gripping jeans, and nipple-outlining tank tops are so pervasive in the gay social settings, it is surprising that sexual acts are not carried out on the dance floor…ok, bad example. Though the donning of this attire in efforts to attract a mate is not necessarily contemptible, these seductive maneuvers should be recognized as wholly separate from fashion sense.
Equally, the abilities of straight males to dress themselves should not be ignored. We are in the throes of a stylistic revitalization amongst straight men being led by a genuine concern with appearance. Even more remarkable is a growing interest in fashion itself. Fashionable celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Jude Law are unashamed of their goût for garb and, as a result present themselves as pristinely confident trend-setters. JT is even making a foray into designing by launching his own line, William Rast, this spring.
As the idea of homosexuality becomes more and more conventional among the general public, falsely constructed ideas which make distinctions between gays and straights must according be abolished. Stylish sensibility will be required.