Boring gays are still gay. Gays who love the Dave Matthews Band are still gay.
Conflating gayness with any particular moral, political, or aesthetic value the observer has deemed “good,” though, is an act of hijacking—one weirdly similar to the rhetorical move homophobes use when they say gay people are immoral.
—The Atlantic, February 29th, 2020
My Darling Americans:
Approximately a year ago, I happened upon an article, “The Shame of Pete Buttigieg,” wherein an investigative journalist had found the living room of the former mayor’s South Bend home to contain wall-to-wall carpeting and a La-Z-Boy rocking recliner. The thrust was, many within the LGBTQ community considered Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg “not gay enough.” He was labeled “a straight politician in a gay man’s body.” (I remember as though it were yesterday being a young gay man and the clandestine thrill of having a straight politician in me.)
The concerns were understandable. Some of Mayor Pete’s choices were highly questionable. He’s a Navy veteran and Oxford Rhodes Scholar who, curiously, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard. Everyone knows, if you’re a sexual deviant, you go to Yale. To make matters worse, hopeless Pete confessed at a CNN town hall that if there’d been a pill he could’ve taken to “not be gay anymore,” he would have “jumped on it.” Exactly how does Pete imagine such a remedy might be ingested? Would the directions advise: Jump on one pill every six hours until homosexuality subsides? What side effects would there be? Would candidates for this treatment be warned: With decreased homosexuality, you may experience nausea or vomiting, while listening to Sondheim?
My name is Whitaker Briggs Bradford—my friends call me “Whitty”—and I am more than sufficiently gay. Monsieur Buttigieg may have been the first openly gay major presidential candidate, but I plan to be this country’s first thoroughly gay major presidential candidate. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “When, Queen?” I am delighted to report that my official declaration will be announced in less than three years, after I’ve raised money, gathered endorsements, when I have all my handmade, hand-painted, Herend porcelain ducks in a row, after we’ve all tired of everyone’s default sugar daddy, Joe Biden, and his signature “Here’s the deal,” which always sounds seductively dominant, as in: “Here’s the deal: You’re going to lick my cordovan wingtips, then I’m going to choke you with my repp tie, and you’re going to like it and vote for me, baby!”
Let me assure you, prior to the next Democratic presidential primary, I plan to divorce my husband, Doctor Aldrich Northcott, one of New York City’s leading hematologist-oncologists, because our relationship of twenty-seven years, our nine-year marriage, our Central Park West classic six, our Sag Harbor country home, and, especially, Aldrich’s collection of pleated corduroys, are not “radically queer.” Even our purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Poppers, has expressed his contempt for our drab domesticity by repeatedly defecating on the signed Gustav Stickley settee. Just yesterday, as Aldrich and I ate our Sunday morning lemon scones, slathered with ghee, I thought to myself, “We’ve lost our identities as militant sodomites and how could I have allowed Aldrich to convince me that this despicably ubiquitous Eero Saarinen tulip table was right for the breakfast nook?”
I vow to exceed your expectations; I shall be a mincing fop, a human parfait, your Commander in Madras Espadrilles. As a homosexual man d’un certain âge, whose love was a crime in New York State until 1980, I realize that the life Aldrich and I share, which includes matching Hermès wallets, a subscription to Wine Enthusiast, and an original painting “in the style of Alphonse Mucha,” is a grotesque example of assimilation. Before the first Democratic debate, I promise to break our entire set of Spode bone china, during a live-streamed hissy fit.
God loves the homosexual because He made us in His image and then we toned, waxed, and moisturized that image.
Here is a sampling of my aggressively gay presidential agenda:
Each member of Congress will be issued a dictionary of queer terminology and, in due course, a test on said terminology will be administered. Any member of the House or Senate who fails the test will be required to sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” a cappella, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, clothed in a gender-fluid muumuu, with hand gestures. We must all endeavor to learn this new, ultra-nuanced vocabulary. Until very recently, I myself had assumed the word “skoliosexual”—which indicates an attraction to people who are transgender or nonbinary—referred to those who were attracted to people with severe curvature of the spine.
In an effort to guarantee appearance equality, I will introduce my Botox for All plan. Poverty is challenging enough without crow’s feet. If you can’t pay your mortgage, why shouldn’t you look younger?
I will move to forgive student loan debt, but I will never forgive spandex capri pants.
Upon assuming office, I will direct Acting Attorney General Fran Lebowitz to indict the sartorially corrupt Tory Burch for that detestably garish medallion affixed to each and every ballet flat and for naming a collection of nauseatingly bourgeois knockoff bags after recently deceased socialite Lee Radziwill. Lock her up!
I promise to more fully embrace the bisexuals, whom I’ve always considered the LGBTQ equivalent of khaki chinos. Bisexuals provide a casual, versatile approach to sexuality; they come in “slim,” “athletic,” and “straight.” You can dress them up with a blazer and loafers if they agree to be seen with you in public.
America will no longer celebrate the Fourth of July, which at this point is frightfully passé and has always been tasteless. No more plastic gingham tablecloths, mayonnaise, and grinning heterosexuals. The Third of July, Betty Buckley’s birthday, will be declared a national holiday. Banks, schools, and Federal government offices will remain closed, as the nation remembers and mourns the loss of Betty’s upper range.
I will insist that Pete and his husband, Chasten—whose name sounds like a discounted Ralph Lauren cologne—both undergo conversion therapy, which will include shocks delivered to their respective testicles whenever either is shown a photo of a minimalist wristwatch, a weatherproof backpack, or a pair of Cole Haan cap toe lace-ups, in an attempt to cure them of their sinfully conventional preferences.
The White House will be renamed, either “Chez Whitty” or “House of Whit.”
At this time, I commit to choosing a woman as my running mate, most likely Tommy Femia as Judy Garland or my mother.
If President Biden chooses not to run for reelection because he’d rather host a new game show titled Beltway Squares, with Lindsey Graham replacing Paul Lynde as the campy, barely closeted center square; and if Kamala decides she’d rather make her Broadway debut in the long-running revival of Chicago, as Matron “Mama” Morton—I’m there. With flair. Get used to it. I may be cisgender, but I’m also a sis, honey.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. And God bless Patti LuPone, who at 71 years old is thrilling us with her rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch,” which, if I’m elected will become the national anthem. Everybody rise. Rise! ❏
Michael is a writer and maitre d’—not usually in that order—living on the deserted island of Manhattan, also published by Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, and on Medium.