Thursday, June 9th, 2011

You're Welcome, Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis writes today about, well, the opposite of growing up gay in isolation? He has a Twinkie Defense, essentially, about growing up around too many gays: "Growing up a few minutes from the Castro didn’t make me gay—if anything, it made me less likely to see myself that way. I couldn’t relate to AIDS or leather chaps, both of which seemed to be afflicting many of the gay men I saw on the corner of Castro and Market, where, in middle school, I had to transfer buses on my way home from school."

Yeah. So… it's too hot out for me to flip out over this with real vigor, coming as it does from a fellow in his mid-30s, but I can try!

I do believe I moved to San Francisco while this person was entering high school, and I'm sorry that apparently five years of age difference created a generational divide so vast that it made him unable "to relate to AIDS," particularly at a time when his neighbors and chaps-wearing strangers on the street were dropping dead all around him.

And chances are quite good that my friends and I were actually guest-teaching HIV prevention at his very school at the time, which one hopes didn't make him shove his fingers in his ears too hard in panic (and also hopes maybe made him "relate to" having sex with condoms)? Because while he was running in horror from the community of people who apparently only ever wore chaps (although, most days I showed up for work in nipple clamps and women's shoes, obviously!), they/we were the ones trying to help raise him and keep him from, you know, dying extremely young.

To try to be fair, adult sexuality is a horror to all early adolescents—surely we can all relate and should probably empathize with that. There's nothing worse when you're young than the idea that older people have sex! It's menacing and uncomfortable and alluring and ultimately… gross.

The good news is that he is alive today! So in a way it's actually my fault that he lived long enough to write this.

37 Comments / Post A Comment

"AIDS or leather chaps, both of which seemed to be afflicting many of the gay men I saw …" is maybe the most singularly unfelicitous phrase I've read all month.

Aloysius (#1,808)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose Come on though it's one or the other with those folks.

@Aloysius : I believe you mean "those people".

lempha (#581)

"When gays from small Midwestern towns tell me how cool that must have been, I smile politely and don’t dare tell them I would have gladly traded places."

fdsauhfdshagf waienxd0e8qycfoeahdklsafhuia;lkdsal gcfdsacxdbvsxacvdsadcsacdxsdad

john.rambow (#703)

@lempha Was just about to say the same thing, although maybe not in so many letters.

melis (#1,854)

God, getting gay-bashed must have been so authentic.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

Fear of a terminal case of leather chaps is what keeps me vigilant about condom use.

roboloki (#1,724)

my gays seem so smart but sometimes i worry about my gays.

BadUncle (#153)

As a native San Franciscan, I shun him. Shhhuuuuuunnnn.

zoom (#10,138)



And don't get him started on burritos.

Dan Kois (#646)

Choire, what HAVEN'T you done?

ShanghaiLil (#260)

Wait — is this Self-Identified Former Sex Addict Benoit Denizet-Louis being all judgey about assless chaps? Dude, that must've been some seriously shitty meth you had your hands on.

La Cieca (#1,110)

@ShanghaiLil On the other hand, whatever Benoit Denizet-Lewis wears has an ass in it.

Erik Maza (#4,544)

Kevin Sessums is an iconic gay writer? HA!

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Ooooh Choire, gurl, you are giving some displeasure REALNESS up in here!

palinode (#4,375)

That must be the best conclusion of any article, ever.

Abe Sauer (#148)
Rosebud (#4,107)

@Abe Sauer Wow. Wow. That was unbelievable and disgusting.

@Abe Sauer Holy shit, you're kid is suffering when all you can think is that she's not "cool" enough because she has the audacity to like motherfucking kittens at the age of NINE.

@winchesterwolcott Oh and how is she a good mother when her friend had to step in and confront her about her attitude towards her own daughter? Because she didn't eat her?

IBentMyWookie (#133)

@winchesterwolcott We'd ask, "Sophie, wanna join the game?" And she'd say: "Look, a clue! Where? Over there!" I called it her Rain Man act.


sox (#652)

@Abe Sauer Yes, this was way WAY worse than Edith's reverse Bambi story from yesterday :( x 1000.

La Cieca (#1,110)

@IBentMyWookie "Hey, lady, at least Sophie knows where to look for a clue."

SeanP (#4,058)

@winchesterwolcott Although, yeah, this woman does sound pretty horrible, I think it's important to understand that sometimes you really do dislike your kids. People (and especially mothers) get help up to an impossible standard with respect to their relationship with their offspring. The part I find kind of mind-blowing with this particular story is that she didn't push harder for medical help for the kid earlier (it was pretty clear there must have been something wrong with her), nor did much about getting psychological help for herself (because she was clearly not reacting to the kid's problems in a healthy way).

IBentMyWookie (#133)

(in quiet voice so Choire doesn't hear this and yell at me because YOU KNOW he has a temper) I don't see the problem? Isn't he just saying that he couldn't relate to the particular mode or type of gayness that was prevalent in his town at that particular time? Where's the beef?

saythatscool (#101)

@IBentMyWookie I like Twinkies!

SeanP (#4,058)

@IBentMyWookie I think my main issue was the sort of cavalier attitude to AIDS victims. Making jokes about how suffering from assless chaps is just like suffering from AIDS: sorry, not funny. Otherwise – sure, I can see where some people might find the Castro atmosphere liberating, while others found it kind of off-putting. That's not such a big deal.

You know what I've never understood about chaps: why do they always have to be black? Why not a kicky teal or a sedate aubergine? I thought The Gays were supposed to be creative!

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Growing up around straight people, I could never really relate to lung cancer or minivans.

cherrispryte (#444)

And I thought my job had a weird dress code …..

City_Dater (#2,500)

Gay and straight alike, we can all agree on reasons to dislike the Young…

iplaudius (#1,066)

Benoit? Denizet? Hyphen? He was probably just trying to compensate for his gay-ass name.

Seriously, in his defense, maybe he was writing about how he felt when he was a young adolescent coming to terms with his sexual identity while trying to form a social identity. He says, “I could’t relate.” In the second paragraph of the article, he is already poking fun at his younger self: “I certainly didn’t see myself as a faggot (I played sports, I was a top).”

Counterpoint: Google image search. Is this a man who puts “straight-acting” in his Manhunt profile? SHUDDER.

LDM (#10,599)

"I certainly didn’t see myself as a faggot (I played sports, I was a top)"

and that's when I hit close internet.

picniclightning (#11,472)

Benoit? Denizet? Hyphen? He was probably just trying to compensate for his gay-ass name.

Bahahahahaha I'm glad someone else had the same totally juvenile first reaction that I had. Also, perhaps this article would have been of some use if he'd at least explicitly acknowledged the internalized homophobia of his youth, or given a sign that he'd developed in some way? As it reads, he doesn't seem to see anything wrong with his early thinking. I kept waiting for the neat narrative turn, and it just didn't happen…

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