Ask Bacchus: Gay Beer?

Happy National Coming Out Day! Enjoy $2 tap beer at Bacchus all day and all night.

A reader asked recently if using the term "gay" when it referred to drinks was "okay" or "homophobic."

We think it's a double-edged sword and depends on context. It can be self-effacing humor or it can be internalized homophobia. It can be perceived of as reinforcing stereotypes or as shattering perceptions.

Another asked,

"In the movie IN BRUGES, Colin Farrell refers to a gay beer and a normal beer. What is he referring to? Is this a Belgian thing or possibly an Irish thing? Why is calling something gay still a joke and/or socially acceptable?"

It's an example where gay is the punchline. It really refers to the bell-shaped stemmed glass his friend's beer is served in while Colin's got a regular pint glass. Why is it "gay?" It's because it's different, feminine, frilly. Another question to ask,…

Why is it a punchline?

There have been ads in the past where the humor wouldn't work if it didn't assume homophobia — that is, if it didn't depend on the notion that it's a disaster for a straight to be mistaken for gay. For example, this Snickers ad (considered the second worst Super Bowl commercial of all time).

Many still see it as very funny for all the wrong reasons. The perpetuation of stereotypes of gay behavior doesn't help to normalize the acceptance and/or perceptions of us, but we do it to ourselves, and try to make it funny. The Schmitt's Gay SNL skit from 1991 was hilarious because the protagonists were average (non stereotype) guys. More recent attempts, however, try a little harder, then fall back on expected tropes:

And it seems to always be the "Surprise! They're Gay Stereotypes!" factor. It's been going on for over 20 years. We can see this following Guinness ad from 1995 as an attempt to normalize the gay man in the eyes of the straight world.

But some "gay-themed" ads are just silly plays on a loss of masculinity. Because that's what "gay" is to the mainstream: a complete loss of masculinity. But does it matter if it's funny?

And we reinforce other gay stereotypes (locker room predators ready to pounce when you're drunk) - albeit with a wink and a nod - in homemade ads like this…some will find the imagery/concept quite liberating.

So on National Coming Out Day 2016, be GAY and order drinks, just be mindful about what it means.

At Bacchus we welcome all. Be yourself. Be proud.