Plenty of contemporary academics have essentially said, "That's right: race is about culture." And all the way back to Mark Twain, who deconstructed "race" in Puddn'head Wilson, American thinkers have appeared occasionally who undermine the foundational category itself.
Which brings me to Sanjaya Malakar. Sanjaya has been featured on my favorite summer television program, I'm a Celebrity... Get me Out of Here.
Sanjaya's not black. But--to employ another problematic neologism from the 1980s or so--my gaydar was going off. But Sanjaya has really taken to Heidi Montag's less ridiculous sister, Holly. They're friends, and when asked if they are more than friends tonight in an exit interview, Sanjaya blushed.
"Wait--," I said to my wife on first hearing that Sanjaya might like Holly, "Isn't he gay?"
Whether Sanjaya's gay or not is actually aside from the point. What I want to ask is whether there is anything "natural" or necessary about the behavior patterns associated with homosexual masculinity. Do some gay men "act straight?" And more importantly, do some straight men (Sanjaya) "act gay?"
Like "acting black," "acting gay" will be impossibily difficult to define, and will probably be best left undefined. But most people would admit(again: problematically!), if they are honest, that they kind of understand the concept of "gaydar." I wonder if 8th graders have invented a questionable term to denote the behavior of a straight guy acting gay. (Strays?)
In some respect, this is an even more interesting development than white people adopting pieces of black culture. Sanjaya claims that being raised by women probably contributed to his apparently gay-culture behavior patterns. More interesting because even after racial behavior stereotypes began to unravel, skin color still served (unreliably) as an indicator. If gay and straight behavior patterns begin to merge, there may not be any alternate indicators.
Frankly, I think this is a pretty neat development. Any thoughts? Does what I'm saying/asking sound reasonable? Is it too "dangerous?" (Is it offensive?)