Clement Chabernaud – yes, a male model. via ModelHomme
I met up with a fellow menswear writer last night and as inevitably happens in that situation, we geeked out like only two guys can do when they have a shared passion for a subject. For most men, that subject would be sport or cars or women, for us it was fashion. We waxed lyrical about writers, publications, designers and models for a good few hours, with some speculation, gossip and battle stories thrown in along the way. At one point in the conversation he dropped the term "Straight Guilt". Fascinated, I asked him to explain. Here's what he said (and I'm paraphrasing): "It's when you've got a straight menswear writer who feels guilty that he writes about fashion so he has to apologise, over-compensate or prove his manhood at every given opportunity. It's why you see so many boob shots all over men's style blogs or sites run by straight guys, and so many sport or hip hop or hyper-masculine references all over everything. Because if you don't make it clear at all times that you're straight – and, more importantly, if you're trying to appeal to the straight market and they don't understand that liking what you like is acceptable and straight too – then the whole system will fall over."
I mulled this over for a few moments before deciding it was the most brilliant concept I've heard in a long time. Over on my Tumblr, I have an ask me anything section where people can literally ask me anything they choose. Probably 60% of the questions go something like this: "Are you gay?" "I can never figure this out... Do you like boys or girls?" "What's your deal? Are you a homo or what?" "lol do u do boyz?" 99% of the time, I don't answer those questions – does my being straight or gay relate to the job I do? I don't think so. But some people can't seem to get their heads around the idea of a potentially straight guy who writes about men's fashion or – God forbid – male models.
The blame can't be placed on the chest-beating menswear bloggers/editors or those redneck members of the audience, or even the fact that the writers are catering to the rednecks. It's a collective consciousness type deal. There's big talk of societal progression but the evidence speaks for itself. Is there a solution? Who knows. No doubt it'll change with time. But come on. It's 2011. Who'd've thought it would still be considered gay to like fashion?
And for the record, I ain't apologising for nothin'.
I LIKE YOU!