Bret Easton Ellis, the novelist who turned being a bad boy into a literary form, has now deployed his considerable powers of invective to attack what he calls the “gatekeepers of politically correct gayness”.
In a lengthy diatribe in Out magazine Ellis begins by bemoaning the way that the recent coming out of basketball star Jason Collins was handled by the media. Collins was treated, the novelist says, like a “kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled and – yes – infantilized”.
Ellis reserves particular ire for the gay campaigners he accuses of imposing a sanitized and sanctified vision of homosexuality upon the complicated lives of ordinary gay people. “Being ‘real’ and ‘human’ (ie flawed) is not necessarily what The Gay Gatekeepers want straight culture to see.”
The root of his anger lies with a spat he had in April with Glaad, a national group that seeks to improve the status of the LGBT community by influencing its portrayal in the media. Ellis had been invited through his agent to attend the Glaad media awards, but the offer was withdrawn after the group objected to some of his comments on his Twitter feed.
In particular, Glaad appears to have taken umbrage at an Ellis tweet from two years ago in which he wrote: “I like the idea of Glee, but why is it that every time I watch an episode I feel like I’ve stepped into a puddle of HIV?” The group also bridled at a tweet in which he questioned whether the openly gay actor Matt Bomer was well cast to play the role of the straight Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey.
By launching into a criticism of Glaad because he was uninvited from its party opens Ellis up to the accusation of sour grapes. But he argues in his Out piece that Glaad’s censorial attitude was symptomatic of a wider malaise within some gay community activists – what he calls “the gay lie”.
“An organization holding an awards ceremony that they think represents all gays and also feels that they can choose which gays can and cannot be a member of the party is, on the fact of it, ridiculous. The fact remains that if you aren’t presenting yourself as a happy homosexual promoting healthy mainstream gay values and pimping for Glaad, then you’re somehow defaming The Cause,” he writes.
Glaad’s Rich Ferraro, asked for a response to Ellis’s attack, said: “Given the crude remarks he’s made about the gay community and people living with HIV/Aids, this publicity stunt is not surprising. Glaad asked for a time to sit down with Bret and planned to invite other leaders in the gay community as well as the HIV/Aids community. I hoped to share with Bret information about Glaad’s actual advocacy work and mission since he does not appear up to speed on it.”
Ellis is no stranger to controversy, having fed off it for much of his career, notably the outraged reaction to his 1991 novel American Psycho. He has described his own sexuality in different ways to different interviewers over the years, but most recently has referred to himself as gay.
Ellis says he has been criticized for being a self-hating homosexual, but says though he may be self-hating, it has nothing to do with being gay. He complains that the straitjacket of sweet, sexually unthreatening and super-successful gays that is being forced on individual gay men like him is stifling – “a new kind of gay victimization”.