Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gay Men Love Miley Cyrus

As a general rule, the gay community loves us some female pop stars. This may come from identification with strong, feminine icons, or just the love of a good beat and excellent vocals. And the arrival of the digital age has brought a wave of societal tolerance as well as tools for gays to proclaim both their sexuality and their fandom. Specifically, remaking music videos by certain female pop stars.

It’s a false stereotype that all gay men love to perform. For that matter, not all dudes who lipsynch in front of a camera are gay. But if you find yourself recording a shot-for-shot remake of a Christina Aguilera video … maybe reevaluate your sexual preferences. I’m just sayin’.

These amateur remakes of popular music videos (what we in post-Be Kind Rewind society sometimes refer to as sweding) are a trend that seems especially strong among those in the gay community. Songs like Katy Perry‘s “California Gurls” and just about anything by Lady Gaga practically seem designed to be juxtaposed with dancing guys in coifed haircuts and speedos, and people like Ryan James Yezak seem to be entirely cognizant of this.

Yezak has practically made a career out of making elaborate, choreographed gay versions of music videos. Skim through his YouTube channel and you’ll find a bevy of female pop star renditions including Britney Spears and Ke$ha.

But Yezak’s work is just the tip of the iceberg. Other gay fans have taken it upon themselves to record their own versions of Taylor Swift‘s “You Belong With Me,” Miley Cyrus‘s “Party in the USA,” and many others. One lip dub to Lilly Allen‘s “F*ck You” even incorporates multiple YouTubers in a massive collaboration that celebrates Allen’s vitriolic pro-tolerance message.

Yezak’s newest video for Kary Perry’s “Peacock” has actually been incorporated into her viral marketing campaign as her people reached out to AfterElton to tout the gay version of “Peacock.” Meanwhile, Lady Gaga even gave specific thanks to her gay fans for remaking “Bad Romance” at the recent MTV Video Music Awards. The fact that she was wearing a golden feather mohawk at the time doesn’t make the acknowledgment any less weighty.

It’s not exactly a secret that there’s some sort of mysterious, inseparable connection between singing ladies and the gays, and while that hasn’t changed since the heydays of Cher, Liza, Barbra and Bette, the way that gays express their inner fanboy definitely has. And the evolution of gay music fandom reflects a positive change in society’s acceptance of homosexuality.

Earlier generations celebrated their favorite divas with drag performances in the secluded haven of gay bars. This certainly still takes place today, but as society has become more tolerant (to an extent, even receptive) towards gay culture, gay fans have become comfortable enough to put their appreciation for female pop music (and by association, their sexuality) on display for the entire world to see.

Meanwhile, pop stars seem to have caught on to a simple fact that many of us figured out years ago: viral video is hella powerful, and artists would do well to embrace fan content and not suppress it. And frankly, Katy Perry is lucky to have so many gay fans willing to overlook certain lyrical choices, not to mention her idea of how to use the word “gay” as a putdown of dudes who rejected her in high school.

So cheers to Gaga, Allen and all the rest for donating just a tiny ounce of the spotlight to us fanboys, and for realizing that imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery.