Stadler, Gustavus. "Queer Guy for the Straight 'I'". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Vol 11.11, 2005. 109-111.
"And as marriage has come to define the public shape of gay rights discourse, there has been a growing tendency among well-off, well-educated straight liberals to attribute therapeutic value to gay intimacy--especially, of course, to "committed," monogamous relationships. A certain number of lefty straights assume that male queers are not only funnier, smarter, and more stylish than heterosexuals (of both sexes) but, like lesbians, more adept at handling emotions, interpersonal intimacy, and relationship issues--that they are not weighted with all the accrued burdens of heterosexuality...Phantasmatically liberated from legal interference, outdated moralism, parents, and children, they know how to find the success in passionate failures" (110).
Stadler calls into question the portrayal of on-screen gays in the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and its emphasis on their supposed aesthetic prowess (their power to makeover ANYTHING!) and its consequences. He argues that this positioning limits them to the periphery, and puts them in the role of confidant (to straight women) and best friend/listener. Their value is contingent upon their acknowledgment by and usefulness to other (straight) people/characters.
Speaking of Queer Eye he writes, "I also pick up a hint of an all-too-available assumption that...to be queer means not only to be good at making straight people's lives happier but to have the time to do so" (111). Stadler argues that media portrayals of queerness perpetuates the "fantasy" that intimacy connected to gay males is consumer- and beauty-driven, enabled by their disposable incomes (because they don't have the heteronormative family to care and pay for) . This depiction of well-off, well-educated, white or light-skinned gay New Yorkers is one that, in some form or another, is the mainstream construction of gayness. It erases race and class (because the power of consumerism and new clothes can whiten away any visible markers) and equates "gay" with "queer."
What gets highlighted in this critique is the peripheral nature of the gay characters, even within their own show. Their value is in the beautifying powers they possess that will inevitably touch the lives and hearts of the straight men they makeover. Their abilities within the show are best put to use when they're serving straight people. Therefore, this knowledge of 'intimacy' and relationships that Stadler defines, is only in relation to straight people.
As a final semantic note, Stadler questions why the show is titled "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," and challenges us to imagine what "Gay Eye for the Straight Guy" would signify to a mainstream audience.
Hurtado, Aída. Voicing Chicana Feminisms: Young Women Speak Out On Sexuality and Identity.. New York: New York University Press, 2003. Print.
Hurtado's book synthesizes the research of and interviews with various young Chicana women. She relates their stories in a very informal, anecdotal fashion that makes the experiences they relate even more personal and immediate-feeling. In discussing family and the changing relationships the young women had with their fathers, Hurtado writes, "Although, with two exceptions, none of the fathers spoke to their daughters about about menstruation or about sex they still were aware of their daughters' physical changes...In a few instances the relationship between father and daughter changed irrevocably. [The interviewee, Victoria, writes,] 'When I was little, I was really close to my dad...I was always getting in his way, but he didn't mind. As soon as we [Victoria and her sisters] hit puberty, everything changed. He wouldn't talk to us'" (54).
She describes the feeling that Victoria experienced as "abandonment" (54). I think abandonment is a partner sensation to intimacy. Within intimacy, and the greater the sense of closeness, there is the potential for abandonment. What if we were to queer this except--how would a queer abandonment within familial/parental relationships look like? Why and how would it come to be? How can this be tied to Queer Eye? What do the bodily changes that the girls experience throughout puberty (e.g. menstruation) have in common with the coming out experiences or narratives and their effect on intimacy within family structures?
Kincaid, James. "Producing Erotic Children."
After last week's diablog about the erotic child, particularly in reference to Kincaid's article, I felt like some connections could certainly be made between the erotic child and intimacy. Because what is the unease we feel about broaching the subject of child sexuality, but an unease with a different kind of intimacy? What is child molestation but an unacceptable form of intimacy? What are the consequences and implications of viewing sexual molestation (within Kincaid's article) using the term 'intimacy'--to use the same term for something that implies "good" closeness? And what are the implications of wanting to be a part of the intimacy (if it can be called that) of a community of victimization, like in the documentary about the Friedmans? How are interpersonal relationships tied into each other, and how do they change as we change the way we think about them?