So there's a new gay uproar in the media - "Is Your Son Gay?" - an iPhone App which asks 20 questions to establish whether your son is gay.
I'm not going to get angry and start announcing things like "Sexuality is Fluid", "Straight Boys Can Dance Too" or "Shoving your dick inside a man's arse has nothing to do with Cyndi Lauper's tour dates". Because we all know this. Gay people know that there are gay plummers, gay farmers, gay footballers and gay soldiers. We know this because we hear about, interact with and have sex with these men. Whereas at the more ignorant end of heterosexuarrrrl culture those unfortunate souls only get to see the shop window of gay culture the most visible gay people, the gay people that TV execs give a platform to, the gay equivalents to Marlon Brando or James Dean. Oh no wait.
In London we are exposed to gay personalities like this who straight men couldn't put a name to:
And in Britain we also have plenty of dry gays out there, men who in America would probably have just kept a low profile and added a roomy extension to their closet, gay men like this:
The truth is, I personally believe that there is a "gay gene", and it's not an all-controlling one, but more of a genetic oppurtunity, that some of us have and some of us don't. And although some people will have a very strong streak of the gay gene, more often it will be there kind of casually amongst the rest of the genetic make-up and it will require exposure to a certain set of human conditions or experiences to give that gene a chance to flower (in search of a better word).
So perhaps an "Is My Son Gay?" application could work, IN THE FUTURE, if it was much more intelligently written at a time when we are ready to admit more to ourselves as a civilization.
Put it this way. Let's say straight people are orange, and gay people are pink. You are born with three colours in your palette, and your life experience gives you another two. Now, to end up pink you're going to need to start out with red as one of your three colours. If you start out with blue, green and brown then you're never going to be pink. Yet even if you start out with red in your palette, you still need to come across white at some stage in order to be pink. One or two people are born with pink already there. Some people will live their whole life pretending they don't have a particular colour, whilst others will pretend that they do have a particular colour. Ultimately, all humans are capable of acting like anything, and none of us will ever truly know ourselves anyway.
So yes, there clearly are gay traits. Many of them have been forced upon us by being a counterculture and have simply congenialised over time. Gay men never decided that public toilets looked like a good place to have sex, it was because gay sex - ridiculously - used to be a crime.
But this particular app is all bollocks. There are as many gay men who drink beer and fart in bed as there are straight men who pluck their eyebrows and splash out their favourite musical theatre tunes on the piano.
Rather than sign a petition trying to obliterate this "Is Your Son Gay?" App. I think the real remedy or antedote is for gay men to actually answer the 20 questions in hindsight. Here are my answers to the 20 questions, and as you'll see, more often than not my answer was the opposite to the App's psyche, yet it was still quite gay, in a way that the lame App is too simple to identify:
IS YOUR SON GAY? Case Study: Jack Cullen
Before he was born, did you wish for a girl?
My parents would have been happy either way. My Dad told me that if I was a girl he hoped to name me Megan or Alice. My Mum told me she knew somehow that she was going to have a boy, and she liked the name Jack because she saw it as clean slate that I could make anything out of.
Has he ever been in a fight?
If my parents had this ‘Is Your Son Gay?’ iPhone App then they would probably click NO here, because they never saw me in a fight. But the answer is actually Yes. I used to fight a lot with a boy at my child minder’s after primary school called Robert. Once I got into a fight aged ten which ended in both of my knees being cut open and knotted with gravel. At school fights broke out quite frequently between the boys, usually good old-fashioned hitting but occasionally a bit of naked towel whipping and water fights on hot summer evenings. If anything, surely fights help to develop homoerotic thought patterns no? As Paul Foot says - "If a man is too scared to dabble in homosexuality, he will simply find another man and hit him"
Does he read the sports page in the newspaper?
Yes! I always read the sports pages. The men are fucking hot in them! On the other hand one of my bestfriends Ben is straight and he loves flicking through celebrity glossies.
Is his best friend a girl?
No, it was a boy, and I was in love with him.
Does he like team sports?
I didn’t particularly like team sports, but that’s because I’m an individually competitive person and don’t like my fate to rest in the hands of others. As an adult I like team projects. Are gay men supposed to be isolated? I would argue on the contrary that gay men if anything are more likely to crave social interation, communication and connectivity. Perhaps one day when we learn more about the gay gene we'll learn that gay men have a particular leaning towards business, politics, discussion and teamwork. Who knows.
Is he modest?
Not now, no, I can be quite the show off. But if my parents downloaded this App when I was younger then they would have said Yes, because I was shy and spent a lot of time reading in the garden or drawing pictures of elaborate medieval costumes and castles with an autistic amount of windows and battlements. Presumably this App thinks being immodest means being gay – flambuoyant and attention-seeking etc. But actually it was reading that opened up my mind to alternative ways of leading one's life. I imagine the gay execs at the top of Google, Facebook and Apple were quite modest and quiet at school too, whereas Brad Pitt was probably a right little tart.
Is he a fan of divas (Madonna, Britney Spears)?
Yes, my mum brought me up on Madonna, Grace Jones and Cher. But these women were also sex icons to straight men. So I don’t see how this question really works? Did every boy with a Debbie Harry photo on his wall turn out gay? I don’t think so. I loved Britney Spears and was bang on target market when Hit Me Baby One More Time came out. But so many boys masturbated about her too so....
Does he spend a long time in the bathroom?
No, I’ve always been quick at showering, and I prefer cold showers. Nowadays working in dirty London and attending media type events I’ve become a lot more vain and do spend time on my hair and more money on my appearance than I can sensibly afford. But this was a result of my career path. I’ve had sex with plenty of gay men who couldn’t be more primative when it comes to pampering. In fact I forced guys to wash their armpits and feet before getting into bed before.
Does he have piercings in his tongue, nose or ears?
No. Lots of gay men do though, and so do lots of straight guys? I prefer clip-ons for my ears, you know, like giant amethyst seahorses and elaborate clusters of pearls. Just kidding. I once stapled my peck though, Jackass was all the rage bacl then.
Do you wonder about your son's sexual orientation?
Yes my parents do wonder about my sexual orientation, I think it interests them and they’ve both admitted to being attracted to beautiful people of their own gender in their own formative years.
Are you divorced?
My parents are divorced, yes. They never really should have got married, they were more guys that met at a party at uni than lifelong partners. I think about a third of British couples divorce. And of course all of their sons turn out gay. If only. Jeez that would be good. I’d spend my spare time honey-trapping hot guys’ Dads.
Does he like musical comedies?
Fuck no! Unless you count The Wicker Man? In fact I was pretty obsessed with big tits. Melinda Messenger on Fort Boyard, Faye Dunaway in the Three Muskateers and Britt Eckland in The Wicker Man. I know a lot of gay guys who were infatuated with Pamela Anderson.
Has he ever introduced you to a girlfriend?
I introduced my parents to several girlfriends as a young lad. I suppose that would convince the iPhone App ‘Is Your Son Gay?’ that no I’m not. Actually it’s more likely that some gay boys will get a girlfriend out of fear as a front. Sadly some forget to snap out of it and consequently waste a woman’s entire life so that neither are ever truly loved. TRAGIC.
Is his father a very authoritarian person?
No. Would that make me a gay boy if he was? My Dad would get cross like anyone’s but he didn’t have a regime or anything. This is a hopeless question if the App is aimed at parents because an overly authoritarian father probably wouldn't identify as being one anyway.
Within your family, is the father absent at all?
No he was there alright, watering the plants and eating all the snacks.
During his childhood, was he timid or discreet?
Sometimes. Usually not. I’m a very open person. In fact being an open person pays my rent.
Does he have a complicated relationship with his father?
No. I should probably ring him more often than once a month when I’m walking to fetch more wine from the shop or waiting in a cash machine queue.
Does he take a long time to do his hair?
No, as a child I had a short gay choir boy cut that was easy to manage.
Does he like to dress well: is he very careful when choosing his outfits and selecting brands?
No, my parents had me in a jump suit until I was five. Then I had this weird phase of wearing army camouflage. Then I wore baggy khakis and shit awful t-shirts for about six years. And now I wear hoodies, jackets and jeans.
Does he like football?
What – you mean like these guys below, London's gay football team The Titans? No, I don't like football, but only because I went to an expensive school that emphatically condemned the sport.
So there we have it. "Is Your Song Gay?" - If my parents had this iPhone App, or indeed, a remote interest in iPhone technology, then it would probably would have told them NO, I'm a little heterosexual Jackie.
I think the App should be kept going but have a Question 21 which is "Why are you filling this shitty questionnaire in instead of talking to your own son you moronic self-absorbed parent? Was parenting not for you in the first place? Did you breed out of tragic social convention? Well I seriously hope your gay son learns from your pathetic worrying and raises his children to be his lifelong friends"