by Hank Stuever

I will now not write my 1,200-word essay entitled "Appropriate Our Abused, Engorged Man-Nipples."

Because you already know better, my heterosexual friends, something keeps you from doing that to yourselves. For your own reasons, straights followed gay guys down the faddish road of chest-shaving, chest-waxing, chest-lasering. (Face it, where would reality television be without all those super-gay-looking, pumped-up, shiny-smooth chests on all those straight guys?) But you knew where to draw the line. You didn't set about pinching, squeezing, bondage-clamping and vacu-stretching your poor nipples until so many of you (like sooo many of us) wound up with giant pencil-eraser-y mantitties.

Cafeteria-style, straight America made itself a little bit gay, but not too-too gay, picking and choosing from a variety of carefully constructed marketing niches.

And engorged man-nipples weren't the only gay thing you wisely rejected. It was smart of you to reject the idea that all T-shirts must be tucked in. Smart to ignore our bad gay newspapers, steer clear of our deadly dull bookstores. I like walking into your houses and not seeing framed black-and-white nude portraits of you and your lover and your dog. I like that you took only the vaguest fashion cues from Tom of Finland, without intellectualizing or curating or otherwise making more cultural importance out of Tom of Finland, like we did. You have a way of letting something just be background information, a slight lark. We have a way of making doctoral theses out of everything, freighting them unnecessarily.

I don't want to burden you with our problems, but then again, I do. I want you to appropriate the rest of everything, just to see what you do with it.

For instance, transsexuals. While I admire your occasional fascination for the transgendered--which you somehow manage to indulge without having to bog down your life or heterosexual-agenda meetings with endless open-floor comments from this very special, whiny, whacked-out community--you could do more. Enjoying the odd funny movies about mystery genders and unmessy Dateline NBC segments that glimpse into the lives of the trans-newsy is not enough. Why should only gays and lesbians get the full share of guilt for not including them enough, for mishandling their extensive care and feeding? And wouldn't they be more at home with you anyway? After all this time listening to them and loving (sometimes loathing) them, it seems clear that all they ever wanted to be was you. The vast majority of women transforming themselves into men don't want to be gay men. They want to be straight women. Take them, they're yours. Outside of San Francisco, the vast majority of men becoming women do not long to be dykes. They want to be straight men. Again, take them. They're yours.

You should also appropriate the bisexuals. We seem incapable of making that relationship work, and then it occurred to us: What is the one thing straight men want more than anything? Bisexual babes. It turns out those exact kind of bisexual hotties exist only in porn, but we encourage you to work with what there is. Taking on bisexuals would be like the divorced parent who finally gives his ex-spouse a break and watches the kids for a weekend. They're partly your responsibility. They've got lots to tell you about themselves. You need to talk, catch up, learn about one another.

Let's see... could you take our crappy music? We know you straights have your own lingering problems (Dave Matthews, the American Idol melisma, or the fact that you still have to salute when the mix-rock station plays that empty, pseudo-patriotic "When I'm Gone" by Third Door Blind Naked Eye or whatever the hell it is). Please know that we homos are stuck in a far more pernicious and more chronic remix warp, the unimaginativeness of which you cannot even begin to fathom. (You know what I'm talking about, because you've been to our bars, and you have that diva special on VH1 every year.)

Along those lines, could you appropriate gay men and lesbians who complain about crappy music in gay bars? We'd almost rather hear the Jewel remix again than go along with these sourpusses to their "gay night" down at the hipster dive bar OR listen to them play their Hot Hot Heat CDs and old Siouxsie & the Banshees forty-fives. I'm sorry, straight people, but you can't take the crappy homo music without taking the boring pomo homos complaining about it, as one cannot fully exist without the other. Which means that you will have to take both.

So, so much else we'd like to see you take on, mostly because we're tired. You try maintaining the fringe of politics, style, art. You try going through life thinking your people bear the creative responsibilities of modern civilization, each believing he or she is the direct descendent of Leonardo--da Vinci, not DiCaprio--or Oscar Wilde or Gertrude Stein. You try sitting through a gay men's chorus concert. You try reserving the convention center for your circuit party. You stay at that clothing-optional B&B in Palm Springs. You go make an ass of yourself on the steps of the Supreme Court. You try changing some other woman's husband's wardrobe, or performing surprise makeovers on some heartsick divorcée's living room on a two-bit cable reality show.

Next, please take our wishful thinking. Take on our desire that every Hollywood heartthrob be gay, politically viable, and all the way out of the closet. You be the one to hold out hope for--and write ponderously angry essays about--Will Truman getting laid. Take our requisite preoccupation with the delayed comings-out of old miniseries actors. Take an issue of Entertainment Weekly, any issue: Page through it and assume 98 percent of all the faces you're seeing are affirmatively gay. Now wish really hard they were straight, like you. Wish so hard, and talk about it with your friends. Wish that a famous actress was taken to the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai, where the nurse (who knows your cousin) removed a dildo from her vagina. (Oh my God: Could this mean she's... straight?! Discuss this rumor amongst your straight friends, or on your bitchy straight blog.)

Don't let wishful thinking get in the way of your really big wishful thinking: If no super-famous gay actors or musicians will admit to being straight, go ahead and put them on the cover of Straight, your anemically thin general-interest monthly magazine. Interview a star at length about what kind of acting method proved most useful to him for the scene where he had to kiss a woman. You can never know too much about this--ask him who he would fuck if he were straight. (Gwyneth? Beyoncé? You know, hypothetically.) Ask again. He'll laugh and get all embarrassed, but eventually stammer out something that you can then put on the cover of Straight in really big type. (Tom's Secret Side!--"I admit I sometimes think about women!")

One more thing: It's about the cranky gay contrarian himself. He can't stand the bars anymore. He looks into the painful and costly removal of the standard-issue Aztec-y tattoo around his bicep. He stops going to the gym. He makes bitter jokes about those he perceives to be the most inane of his kind. He's no longer returning any phone calls. He labors over essays to contribute to the alternative weekly's caustic "queer pride" issue.

He's yours, take him.

Hank Stuever is a staff writer at the Washington Post. A collection of his essays and articles will be published next year by Henry Holt and Company.

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