By Henry Amador
I recently read a comment about a truly important world event, the wedding of Lance Bass to now husband Michael Turchin.
Okay, so world news might be a bit of an overstatement but the comment was extremely interesting and got me thinking.
The commentator basically stated, and I paraphrase, that he found the fact that E News was going to be airing a show called “Lance Loves Michael: The Lance Bass Wedding” not merely nauseating but he also referred to the happy couple as “Assimilation Gays,” a term that I have seen popping up all to often.
Assimilation Gays, there you have it, the two words that got me thinking and obviously, writing.
Okay, for those of you in the LGBTQ community you know we love labels right?
Not just the fashion labels that mainstream America assumes but also the ones that they probably and happily had never heard of, that is until now.
Here are just some of the labels we have created for ourselves as explained in an article on Homorazzi.
Disclaimer, for those not in the know…sit down.
This label applies to both gays and lesbians (here after called Mo and Lezzy) and is meant to refer to the person who will be doing the penetrating, whether they may or may not actually be on “top”. Other colloquial terms are Pitcher or Power Top (which is meant to indicate they don’t bottom… EVER.)
This one is pretty obvious since we’ve already covered “top” but just in case: if you’re the bottom you can expect to be getting poked- and it applies to both Mo and Lezzy as well. Strictly speaking, that’s about all the top or bottom labels should really mean, but I’m not going to venture into the social implications of these labels at the moment. (That’s coming in a subsequent article!) Other terms for this are Catcher, Nelly and Power Bottom.
I would venture to say that behind closed doors, most gay people fall into this category, which means that they are willing to pitch or catch depending on the situation and the partner.
Twinks are generally quite young (18 to mid-20′s), skinny, have essentially no body hair and may frequently be found applying foundation or fake tanning lotion. Generally, they act as though the entire world revolves around the fact that they are young and gay.
Essentially, this is a Twink with muscles. This can also apply to twinks as they get a little older and grow out of the initial: “Oh my God, I’m young and free and the world should know it” phase. Also, Twunks don’t necessarily wear foundation, but they’ll probably be found fake-baking with regularity.
Sandwich was coined amongst our group of friends and is meant to be used whilst in public when you see a hot guy. Sandwiches are definitely hot, usually muscular and in the prime of their life (I’ll leave that open to interpretation).
The Bear is the polar opposite of the Twink. Bears are large and in charge, wouldn’t dream of shaving ANY of their body hair and frequently don’t wear deodorant. Large and jovial, these beasts range from muscle-daddy to Sumo wrestler, are generally a little older and are usually some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
Cubs are bears in the making (I know, how creative right?) Just like in good ol’ nature, Cubs are going to be smaller, younger and have less hair (usually) than their Bear counterparts. It’s not uncommon to see a Bear & Cub couple either (kind of like a Daddy/Twink situation only less… creepy.) [Editor’s Note: There is NOTHING creepy about that “situation”… trust me!]
The Otter label is either newer or just a lot less known than the others. There are also a couple differing opinions on what this means… but essentially it’s a sub-category of Bears. Otters are skinnier, but still rock the full-out body hair. They will usually be short-ish and although skinnier than bears, they usually still have round-ish features (but sometimes kind of flat, which is where the “Otter” part comes in.)
Chaser (aka, Chubby Chaser)
This is pretty self-explanatory, but it refers to someone who typically isn’t fat but who likes to date larger people. This isn’t a strictly gay term either.
This is a shout-out for all our fabulous Lesbianese girls. Lipstick refers to those lesbians who are ultra-girly and all the dudes want to get with. They are sexy, sultry and every Twink wants to be them… minus the vagina part.
These are also new terms for me and I just had to include them. A Hasbian is a Lesbian who has chosen to live a heterosexual life. Conversely, a Yestergay is a gay man who has chosen to live a heterosexual life. I love a good play on words and these totally made me laugh.
Now I shared all of that to help shed some light on the fact that we, as LGBTQ folks, tend to like to categorize.
There is even a tad of controversy over our ever growing “letters” as in LGBTQ.
The letters in question seem to change quite often, a new letter is added because a group feels left out and there you go, suddenly all media has to correct it’s language to be inclusive and politically correct. Not to mention all the letterheads that are suddenly old, the websites that need tweaking and what about the already printed materials? Oh well.
But lets go back to that new label, remember “The Assimilation Gays?”
This individual was making a derogatory statement based on the fact that Lance appears to have sold out.
That he had somehow white-washed his gayness by buying into the mainstream culture, you know, the one that apparently only heterosexuals have rights to.. love, marriage, families and homes in the burbs. Shame on you Lance!
I’m going to go somewhere uncomfortable for just a moment.
While some of you might remember Uncle Tom as the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Urban Dictionary now defines an Uncle Tom as a black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with the white man, including betraying his own people.
I wonder if, during the civil rights movement, there were not folks telling their own kind to stop causing trouble, to stay in line, to stop trying to fit in, to ASSIMILATE.
Where there folks that thought, “Who do they think they are, trying to move out of the neighborhood and live like those other people do?”
Remember The Jeffersons?
Lets change some words around, I wonder if this is who an “Assimilating Gay” is, a gay man that will do anything to stay in good standing with straight America, including betraying his own people.
Do you think that’s what he, the commentator, and his like-minded friends think?
There are those that fear that Gay Culture is disappearing,
that gentrification is the way of the future,
that the Gay Ghettos are no longer a necessary nor viable way to live, now that so many of us are assimilating and same-sex relationships are so much more accepted.
Do you think that stepping up and taking our rightful places in society is assimilating?
Do you think that Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus was the wrong thing to do?
Do you think that watching Lance and Michael’s show (airing February 5 at 8:00pm ET) is selling out?
Do you think that a Gay Uncle Tom would prefer Thomas?
Do you think that we are not ALL better served by joining the Universal population whilst remembering and honoring our history, our roots.. or do you think we should intentionally stay behind?
I think that “Assimilating Gays” would make a lovely addition to that list of categories,
a category that I happily accept and that some of you will one day thank us for.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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