NOH8? A poem.

Today I saw a beautiful football player,
sexy, indeed very beautiful,
on display for the world to see:
NOH8 for queer brothers and sisters;
support for gay marriage.

Some people wondered aloud
(this being social media, after all)
about the sexualization of a campaign about resisting hatred.
Feeds into stereotypes about queer men especially, they said
(though “they” did not reveal their sexual orientations).

That’s an important comment, but the problems go deeper.
First: so many people want to ignore sex,
ignore the frankness and body-mess and wonderful
that it is, especially if/because it’s queer.

But second, there is a beautiful football player
display-proclaiming NOH8:
the epitome of hegemonic masculinity,
the ideal that many of us secretly want to be,
or at least to have
(even if his skin is lightly tinged golden-brown,
which points to yet other problems to which
I can barely speak).

The problem is that this is the body that everyone sees,
that gay men are taught to desire, to strive for.
They even said it in the caption: A ‘real man’ standing for equality.
Why didn’t you say “authentic” or “mature,” or “open-hearted,”
or “lovely” or “good” even “sexy”?

NOH8 gains an icon of ideal gay-friendly masculinity–
and who am I to do anything but celebrate his authenticity?–
but his erasure of hate in himself
may erase other bodies, other ‘real’ men whatever that means–

installing hatred again by what “he” doesn’t
(isn’t able to) say,

by what he doesn’t
(isn’t able to) do

(and, let’s be clear, through no fault whatsoever of his own).

Beauty and good intentions
(can be) co-opted without a sound
by other hatreds that we can barely speak.


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