Sunday, April 09, 2006

My chickennnnnnnnn!

I popped into Soho's trendy Soho district this weekend to catch up with the husband who had been dragged kicking and screaming to see a musical. (He doesn't have the gay musical appreciation gene. On balance, that's probably a good thing.)

Along the way, I was quite surprised to see a physical manifestation of Gollum from Lord Of The Rings. I paused to wonder how they had managed to turn a CGI character into a living breathing creature, and get it so exactly right. The ancient, paper-thin skin stretched over bones old enough to carbon-date; the leering rictus grin; the simpering, grovelling, twisted, insincere Uriah Heap mannerisms. Then I noticed which venue I was walking past, and the penny dropped. It was just Jeremy Joseph.

For those of you who don't know, Jeremy is a promoter. Primarily of himself, but also of his club, G-A-Y.

I actually quite like the club. What I object to is the full name of the place: "Jeremy Joseph's Good As You". Oh, d'ye fuckin think so? I beg to differ. Jeremy Joseph's good as me - at what? I don't think that list would be a long one. In fact, the only thing that springs to mind at which he excels is drooling over young gay men who haven't quite gotten through their acne years. And, frankly, I'm happy for him to be better than me at that, rather than merely as good as. To hear him tell it, though, he is the patriarch of gay rights in this country, single-handedly vouchsafing our right to listen and dance to camp choonz. Because that's what being gay is all about.

Until you're about 20. Then he isn't interested.

It got me thinking about the apocryphal story that the word "gay" stands for "good as you". I've never been very happy with that etymology. For one thing, the word was being used a lot earlier than its official adoption. It was used knowingly to carry additional meaning amongst Noel Coward's set; and I can't see the man who wrote "Hay Fever" being content to claim that he was merely as good as the people around him who weren't being frightfully gay.

Besides "we're as good as you" sounds to me like the war cry of a loser. It's intrinsically apologetic and defensive, and although these were once undoubtedly handy survival qualities for letsbegay people, I suspect we've done enough by now to prove our fabulosity and worth many times over. Got a run-down inner city area you want to improve? Send in the queers. Need some help choosing shoes? Bring along a gay friend. Need your leaky tap fixed but don't want to disturb the cat who has just had a litter? Get a lesbian plumber. (That's a lesbian who happens to be a plumber, rather than someone who fixes lesbians' plumbing. The latter is more usually referred to as a gynaecologist.)

Having said that, at my Magic Circle entry exam (15 days to go), I'll be avoiding any of the gay banter that I usually rely on to get me through. It wouldn't go down well with the examiners, and I have a reptutation to maintain. Could I walk tall down Old Compton Street knowing that I had failed to go down well - even once? Can't risk it. Still, I'm sure it will be worth the effort. If I do go down well, I'll be allowed to enter the Magic Circle. Story of my life.

But let me finish the aimless witterings sparked by Mr Joseph. I don't want to go suggesting that all of us gay folks are better than all of them straight folks. I don't really do them and us, and besides, "Better Than You" doesn't work as an acronym. What might, though, is "At Least As Good As You" - or "a la gay" for short. Myriad uses suggest themselves. Disco a la gay. Shopping a la gay. DIY a la gay. I'd better stop in case the "a la" thing is misunderstood by anyone of a religious persuasion.

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