JJ Vincent understands that there are certain “expectations” for gay male appearance. He just doesn’t adhere to them.
You know that thing about how gay men are supposed to have this awesome fashion sense, that we can walk in your closet, spin around three times, click our heels, and PRESTO! walk out with an ensemble that will make you look 10lbs thinner, 10 years younger, impress your friends, wow your neighbors, and have the object of your affection falling at your feet, while we stand there looking impeccable, pressed, polished, rolled, accessorized, without a wisp perfectly gelled hair out of place?
Yeah, I was late for that class. Actually, I think I missed it altogether.
Ok, so I’m pretty good at dressing other people. I’m not going to change your world or have fashionistas falling at your feet, but I can find you something attractive that fits and goes along with your personal style. I guess I was there for the Dressing Other People section of Gay Stereotypes 101. I just missed the Gay Stereotypes, Dress Thyself portion of the class.
If you’ve ever watched Glee, or Will and Grace, or Queer as Folk, or any other TV show with a gay character or three, you might have noticed that they look remarkably put together. Even if their clothes are not cutting edge, they are at least current, clean, neat, well fitting, and worn in a variety of colors and styles. Their hair doesn’t usually look like the morning after (unless it is, indeed, the morning after), their shoes don’t look like a dog snacked on them, and it’s a fair bet that their socks did not get mixed in with the whites or reds.
This is supposed to be a reflection of Real Life Gays. And often it is.
But then there are the rest of us, the ones that don’t fit the Media Mold of what a True Gay Should Be.
1. I’m not colorful. It’s been a long running joke that all of my dress clothes match. And it’s true. Black pants, blue shirts, a parade of all-purpose, if colorful, ties. Dozens of pairs of black socks in many shades of brownish grey, the result of trips through bleach laundry. One pair of black dress shoes that if I take to the cobbler again, he’s probably going to throw away (note to self – buy another sharpie for those new scuffs).
2. I’m not creative. My casual wear is several pairs of jeans, nearly identically cut, about 10 button-up shirts (5 short sleeve, 5 long sleeve) and 5 tees. Colors range from plain to dull. Sizes range from pretty much fitting to sort-of too big, because I hate clothes shopping and I’m too lazy to sort through what needs to get rotated into…um…weight gain storage. One pair of cheap vinyl black boots, one pair of brown hiking boots with laces that double as the puppy’s chew-toys. Four or five pairs of flip-flops, and equivalent amount of cargo shorts, all khaki. 90% of this stuff is second-hand, most of it is at least three years old. It fits in a closet and a chest of drawers. All of it. Underwear, suits, formal wear, daily wear. I don’t own any skinny jeans, tight v-necks, or slip-on shoes.
3. What is colorful and creative, people never see. Footie pajamas, pink squirrel pajamas, blue sheep pajamas, robes (fluffy pink, red plaid, and rubber ducky), slippers (Hello Kitty and pink sheep), and aprons-ruffled John Deere, red bandanna-are for household use only.
4. I don’t accessorize. Except for my ears, which I’ve had gauged for about 10 years, I don’t decorate myself much. Keeping up after those things requires time and organization, things of which I am in short supply. I have a necklace with pendants of my faith, my partnership rings, two beloved decorative ones I wear from time to time, and my Leather bracelet (black and left, for those of you who speak the language).
For me, convenience is of paramount importance. I can roll out of bed, shower, grab any dress or casual pairing, and it will match. I don’t have to think or worry about it. Wardrobe gets a few new pieces about once a year. Maybe. Ironing is done in the dryer…mist item with water, toss in dryer, 15 min or so, pull out, repeat if necessary. A few years ago my guypartner surprised me with the sort if gift that usually lands the giver on the couch…a clothes steamer. I use it if there’s a really good reason. A REALLY good one. Those don’t come along very often.
I will confess to owning more hair product than should be allowed. Different lengths of hair and lengths of days, activities, weather conditions, dampness of hair when applied, these all need to be taken into consideration when selecting a wax, clay, gel, pomade, gum, glue, cream, paste, gum paste, gel wax, water wax, cream paste, or combination thereof to keep my 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ of hair in place. We probably shouldn’t discuss the mornings when I’ve got to get out fast and opt for a speed shower and hairstyling via kid’s detangler, a comb, and the stickiest glue on the market. Seriously, try it. If it can get the knots out of a little girl’s hair, it can unf–k your morning-after-bed-head.
Unless I am trying to be seen (or it’s flip-flop season and my toes are done), I’m beige. I’m wallpaper. I’m the guy you walk by at the store and don’t think about, probably don’t even see. I fade into the background. I’m not glamorous or particularly fashionable or memorable. If there were awards given for adhering properly to stereotype, I’d definitely be in the running for Most Likely to Get His Gay Fashion Card Pulled.
And I’m fine with that. Really. I don’t own anything that matches it, anyway.
photo courtesy of author