‘Please Like Me’ Star Talks Gay Pride, and Why It Can Feel Weird to Celebrate
Editor’s Note: We asked comedian and Please Like Me star Josh Thomas to write a piece for TakePart in honor of June’s TakePRIDE celebrations, so he gave us a candid peek at his conversations about gay pride. We left his spellings alone because he’s Australian, and we’re not about to force someone to be something they’re not during Pride.
Me: Heyyyyy, Buddy.
Buddy: Hey, Sunshine.
Me: You’re smart. What do you think about gay pride?
Buddy: You know what I think.
Me: [Sigh] That you resent the commercialisation of pride? That the struggle to be taken seriously and to be legitimised has somehow been transformed and commodified.
Buddy: Oh, wow. You listen. tl;dr: assimilation is not liberation.
Me: It’s gay pride month. they want me to write an article about gay pride.
Buddy: What do you think about gay pride?
Me: I don’t know.
Later, after my boyfriend comes home and we wrestle my cavoodle on the bed.
Me: I think it’s stupid. I don’t understand how I’m meant to feel proud of something I didn’t work at? I’m proud of how good I am at making carrot cake, and that’s about it.
Buddy: Why haven’t you ever made me carrot cake?
Me: Haven’t I?
Me: I’m sorry.
Later, after my boyfriend comes into the room, apologizes for interrupting, and gives me one of those teas that opens up into a flower.
Me: I’m not ashamed of my sexuality. I’m ambivalent. I could get behind “gay meh” month, a “gay meh” parade, or better, a “gay meh” picnic.
Buddy: Yeh, good. Write that.
Me: Don’t you think that the act of writing an article arguing for ambivalence undermines me being ambivalent?
Buddy: Ha-ha, yes. Plus, it’s so boring. No one is sharing an article where someone expresses a reasonable and measured opinion.
Me: I think that’s why we’re so attached to the idea of Pride. We’re fighting for equality, which isn’t actually special. It’s neutral. It’s hard to get excited about the idea of being neutral. Pride is so much more marketable.
Boyfriend: What’s for dinner?
Me: Shit! I forgot! I have to write an article about gay pride. Are you gay proud?
Boyfriend: I’m proud of Ricky Martin.
Me: I’m worried if I say I’m not proud, homosexuals will get angry at me.
Buddy: You’re always getting in trouble with homosexuals.
Me: Yeh. Some of them don’t like it when my opinions don’t match theirs. They think we are a team.
Buddy: We aren’t a team.
Me: Why would we even want to be? Some homosexuals are awful. Just awful. For every Ricky Martin there’s a douchebag on Grindr with “No Asians” written on their profile. For every Ellen DeGeneres there’s a lesbian that doesn’t recycle.
Buddy: For every Tim Gunn (I love that guy) there’s a gay that checks his text messages while driving.
Boyfriend: I’ll go get fish and chips.
Me: Not chips! Salad.
Boyfriend: Yeh, obviously salad. It’s weird to say, “Fish and salad.”
Me: OK! Great!
Boyfriend: You should tell them you’re proud of me.
Me: Great idea.
Boyfriend: I’ll leave you to it.
Me: “Pride” is so synonymously linked with gay activism. I don’t want to look like I’m shitting on good things brave forefathers did because of the semantics of a word.
Boyfriend: You should talk about how you’re proud of things you’ve done for gay rights.
Me: My boyfriend thinks I should write about how I’m proud of things I’ve done for gay rights. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything in the fight for equality? Have I? Nothing consciously.
Buddy: You are openly gay. That’s noble to a lot of people. And when hetero-normativity is the dominant paradigm in our society, just being visible can be important for some people.
Me: Sometimes I get letters from teenagers telling me that seeing me be gay so comfortably on TV convinced them to come out. I never know how to respond. It’d be easy for me to ingest it and convince myself I’m a hero, but it just isn’t true.
Buddy: You’re no hero. Remember when you knocked that child over on the way to the cheese table?
Me: You need to move on from the time I knocked that child over.
Buddy: I mean that kid could cry. Really wail.
Me: Yeah.... Coming out wasn’t an act of bravery. It wasn’t a favour. It was just practical. I need homosexuals to know I’m gay so that I can get laid.
Buddy: Of course, that’s why everyone comes out.
Me: I didn’t come out to encourage 19-year-olds to come out. I came out to encourage 19-year-olds to kiss me.
Buddy: I get it.
Me: Do you not want equality? When you say, “Assimilation is not liberation”?
Buddy: I’m going to need time to answer this.
Time passes. Lots of time.
Buddy: Sure, I do. I’m just more interested in questioning the institutions that we’re so desperate to join. I just don’t buy that our participation in them should be given greater credence than questioning their legitimacy. Take marriage, for example. I’m worried that instead of continuing to challenge marriage as a patriarchal, statist, archaic institution that is well past its use-by date, marriage will just become an expected part of the “gay narrative.”
Me: I wish my gay narrative included more abdominal muscles.
Buddy: Did you even read that?
Me: And cupcakes.
Later, after my boyfriend gives me fish and salad and chips.
Boyfriend: I got chips. I know we don’t eat chips because we want to be beautiful, but there was a deal and I panicked.
Me: Oh, thank God.
Me: I went to the circus last night. (Editor’s note: If unclear, not the animal menagerie variety of circus.)
Buddy: Sounds terrible.
Me: I liked it. Tom didn’t: “The circus has been ruined by the Internet. It’s so hard for a trick to impress me now.”
Buddy: Ha-ha. I like Tom.
Me: Yes. The circus is all-inclusive, right. And they did this routine that started with two guys dancing, in like a sincere way.
Buddy: Wow. This circus is really solving the world’s problems.
Me: When the two guys started dancing people laughed. They thought the circus was doing humour. You know how circuses do humour like that?
Buddy: Oh, gross.
Me: It kind of upset me? I’m always caught off guard when things like that upset me. When people are homophobic I don’t care because they just aren’t relevant to me. I don’t care what douchebags think.
Buddy: Yeh. They aren’t relevant.
Me: That middle ground where decent people think two guys dancing is funny makes me feel sad.
Buddy: What’s your point?
Me: Being proud of your sexuality is stupid but it’s a really useful tool in fighting against inequality. Pride month is stupid, but we need to do something, and people like getting behind pride so…. Hooray, pride!
Buddy: Nailed it.
Me: You think so?
Buddy: No. God, no.
Boyfriend: How’s the article going? I hope you do a good job and it convinces everyone to give us equality so it’s legal for us to get married. Then we can get married. Wouldn’t that be nice? Imagine! If we got married!
Me: We’re not getting married, baby.
Boyfriend: Yeh! Let’s get married!
Me: I love you. No.
Me: Boyfriend is asking me to marry him again.
Buddy: You should definitely do it. He’s out of your league.
Me: It’s illegal.
Buddy: Get Out of Jail Free card.