Arts & Culture » Arts Stories & Interviews

Surviving Gay Days



By now, both the hetero-sexual and the otherwise are bored with the glut of gay programming that provides a tasteful matte finish over the better senses of those who watch too much television, read too many magazines and, probably, drink too much. Except that the heterosexual can simply turn it off. Pity the gay person. Have you too grown weary of the Jacks, the Carsons, the Showtime juggernaut of Queers and "L"s? Have you too sucked down your last Cosmo, eaten your last nouveau cuisine and called it a night for the Hotel Rear Entry? It's time for some quiet thought, then, aimed at unraveling the silken twine that's been steadily wrapping around our eyes for years. Gay Days are here again, and most of us indigenous flowers are wilting at the prospect of crashing Coliseums and red-shirt retrospection, just hoping to make it through another parade of sexual proclivity. Is it possible that you too are, like, over it? To help answer that question, here's a list of possible backlashes that may persuade you either way (even if bisexuals don't really count).

Become un-gay

Sure, you've had a good time shutting out any thoughts of menstrual concerns for a countless number of years, blankly scoffing at hilarious recitations of "only women bleed" and making sure all of your girlfriends are less attractive than you. But perhaps you've grown wary of wardrobing issues and beauty pressures to the tune of Annie Lennox's "Diva" – tossing boas to the floor and smearing yesterday's makeup across your lips. The tendency toward conversion, featured in many ministries nationwide, can sometimes appear appetizing (although it's usually at 4 a.m.). Maybe gay isn't all it's cracked up to be.

You might, however, find yourself cracking up even more – and not in that good way – when you fall into the cesspit that is Sy Roger's world. Rogers, a traveling minister of the gay-conversion variety, offers a landing pad for you and your threadbare post-club-kid ilk at his frightfully glib web haven, Here you can find out about Sy's tender years of drug abuse and spread-legged humiliation, while slowly tumbling into his puffed-up takes on scripture, included to make you feel included.

"If I'm describing you, then let me tell you that I know how you feel – I have been there, done that: I was sexually active when I gave my life to God many years ago," writes Sy. "I had come from a broken home and grew up feeling very insecure. In my teen years, sexual relationships became a way of feeling good about myself, and sex became really important to me. In spite of the 'downside' to sexual relationships – the physical risks like disease and the heartbreak of being used – I gave myself sexually, hoping to be loved."

Pity. But Sy doesn't come off all that reformed, especially if you catch one of his public-access Christian programs aired in the wee hours of BrightHouse uncertainty. (He frequently makes speaking appearances here in Orlando.) Dropping flowers from his mouth, as well as clearly intentional forays into drag-speak ("Girlfriend, don't go there," etc.), Sy's teachings are met with canned audience footage of scared-looking middle-classers hoping for their own, God-fearing version of Will and Grace. Minus Grace, we presume. Even his written prose on the site bears a slight resemblance to a Liberace gown.

"God is concerned with what I think and feel, not just with what I do. In fact, what I do sexually on the 'outside' with my body, always starts on the 'inside.' So I make it a practice to keep clean by bringing my thoughts to Him daily – kind of like 'washing off' and keeping clean in a dirty world. If I'm tempted or a sexual memory surfaces, I run to God with it now and say, 'Look at what I'm thinking Lord' I want that ... BUT I want You more ... help me! Cleanse me.'"

We can only hope he's using "Him" in the biblical sense, otherwise this whole thing has gone co-dependently awry. Largely, Sy's beat is of the youth ministry (read: gay training ground) vein, although he does list Promise Keepers proudly on his résumé. Promise kept – which shouldn't be hard, considering his wiry freakishness – Rogers now is happily married with children and very much in love. He does have some advice for you, though. More, even.

"God generously forgave me for my sexually active past, and helps me manage temptations today," surmises Rogers. "I can trust His love and have learned to run to Him in times of struggle. God restores my dignity and helps me grow in my self control. Return to Him. He is quick to forgive, and rich in mercy and understanding."

And if that sort of understanding isn't enough to scare you back into the closet, then you've lost your card, Mary.

Break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend

Maybe you just chose the wrong relationship. It is possible that another fish in the same sea could convince you that maintaining your queer eye with the right guy could lead to never-ending happiness? Or that finding a fair relationship with yourself and a series of puns could satisfy those Carrie Bradshaw leanings you've shamelessly bestowed upon yourself?

Marry your boyfriend/girlfriend

Nothing says unavailable like a government document, and this could be the means necessary for turning into your mother without the painful sex change. Married people don't really have to go out of the house at all – no matter your bedroom fixations – and that way you can avoid both the buff and the bearlike tendencies littering the gay pop-culture perspective.

You can just, well, be you, and you both can be, well, us. "We're staying in tonight," you might hear yourself snide into your cell phone, winningly. And even if it' just a flimsy sheet of paper from a local Unitarian church, you can still scrapbook it and pretend you live in Massachusetts.

Go Republican

No, really. It's fairly clear that a homogenous subculture is centimeters short of Stepford, in any case. In effect, fiscal conservatism is no shame to anybody, despite the toes of the party line, and it presents a valid alternative – even in the demented and sad but social sense – to the fuck-all, ACT-UP crotch-hugging so often depicted in the gay Diana-o-sphere.

While planning nothing specifically "outreach"-able for the Gay Days explosion this year, June 1 through 7 (, the local branch of the Log Cabin Republicans (chronicled controversially in the April 8, 2004 Orlando Weekly) do intend to make their 50-odd presence known at select events in an attempt to illustrate their own take on alternative lifestyle ... like, you know, an alternative twice-removed. It does make for an interesting – albeit marginalized – situation. Opposition is easily implied.

"I think it's perceived as opposition, but in reality it's not really understanding the perspective," says Brad Much of the LCRs. "It boils down to how individuals think about issues and how political views are unfairly built around social issues – and how people can't understand that anyone could have a different perspective."

Ultimately, we all do, however. And understanding that might help soften the blow of your particular pink vision quest. Maybe not all gay is bad; maybe just the parts that don't make you feel comfortable are. Maybe we're all going to hell anyway, and you might as well hold on to the things that you like. "There's so many different ways to put it. If you ask people in our group how they feel about certain issues, you'd probably get a lot of different answers," says Much. "It's not an easy choice. I don't think it's an easy choice for anyone. If you look at the two parties, neither one of them represent a single outlook."

Besides, seeing Bill O'Reilly in a pair of showy swim trunks at a FOX news picnic might be almost as entertaining as seeing GW in fighter-pilot regalia at an ill-assumed victory party. It all depends on your taste, and the hue of your particular outlook.

Turn into ABBA ... sort of

Sanctioned by both the Log Cabiners and the liberal dancing queens alike, the Björn Again event, June 5 at Hard Rock Live, taps the nerve of nearly all those willing to put beauty before comfort and then complain about it. What is it about Benny, Björn, Agnetha and the lovely Frida that puts all gays and Australians into a fit of polyester posturing? Well, the answer is simple, really: perfection. And Björn Again – not actually a band, but more of a traveling circus of four, in two shifts – re-create said perfection to a T, amassing nuances of subtle humor, while staying relatively true to the forebears that gave them life some 15 years ago (Broadway's Mamma Mia be damned).

On the phone from home base in Calgary, Alberta, a suspicious man named Adam warns that he'll be delivering his interview in the character of Björn. All of which makes for some silly Swedish diction, and that difficult, impenetrable wall of irony that makes gay so fun.

"Well you know it's a very good time, a very happy vibe. We like to get everybody involved," offers "Björn." "Everybody have a great time."

Irony, then?

What do you mean? I don't know what translation means."

OK. But what ABBA really means to gay culture has much to do with the ability to dance to anthems of want, need and sadness. And who doesn't want that?

"We have fans all over the world, really. They like the get-up-and-party sentiment. It's the disco-type thing."

But what do Björn Again – not ABBA, who have long since divorced in every possible way – make of the gay hole/K-hole they have apparently fallen into?

"We're very happy for people to express themselves," says Björn, brokenly. "It is 2004, not the dark ages. But we are very much in love with each other. We are still very much together and in love.

Oh. Any surprises then?

"We do something with the Police. You've heard of them, yes? We put a little snippet of them in our song "SOS." You've heard of them, right?"

Right. I've also heard that Björn Again were formed when their spaceship collided in the sky with a UFO, landing them on an island. I'm gay, but I'm not crazy.

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