Gay E-Tourism


American TV network Bravo has a new gay reality television program -- 'Boy Meets Boy' -- that does TV-dating with a twist. The premise: handsome James lives in luxurious accommodations with 15 potential mates. At the end of each episode James rejects a few suitors based on his own romantic inklings. But, what the leading man doesn't know is that some of the candidates are actually straight. Part gay dating fascism and another part mainstream 'gaydar' bootcamp, the show follows from the post-'Ellen' cultural milieu. Looking backwards, mid-1990s queer e-zine favorite Blairmag played with similar themes in the online game 'Gay or Eurotrash?' and 'Lesbian or German Lady?' The Blair team went voyeur and gathered a collection of street photos at the Rockefeller Center tourist hub in New York City. In the web-based game, users guess if the unsuspecting subjects of these photos are gay or eurotrash / lesbian or German ladies. One click reveals the diagnosis professed by a discerning panel of homo-experts. Blarimag's playful appropriation of stereotypes coded (literally) an insider cruising logic and now seems a historical artifact -- indeed, an artifact made recognizable through the advent of mainstream gay television. - Matt Wolf