Straight Reporter Yearns for Good Old Days of Gay Outlaws

Patrick Howley of the Daily Caller has written what may be the most irritating and asinine column you will read this week, this month, this year. The straight “investigative reporter” waxes nostalgic for the good old days when he loved the gay culture he wasn’t even alive to witness.

Gays have become totally boring, this reporter has learned.

Although gay Americans were for decades popularly identified as daring, transgressive, flamboyant, colorful and sometimes menacing (though also intriguing) mavericks, self-styled advocates have managed to rebrand the gay community as a bland, tedious, grievance group eagerly seeking government approval…

Not too long ago, I sat across from a quasi-famous gay writer at the chic West Hollywood lunch spot Swingers. As I probably complained about my career, he glanced around at our fellow lunch patrons, most of whom were young progressive men who met at some $1,200-a-month gym or a fundraiser for bullied teens or a nightclub with a one-word name. He put down his finger sandwich and sighed. “I don’t even know these people anymore,” he said. I understood him, and I sympathized.

Gayness used to be pretty awesome, according to alternative literature from the period 1954-78. Back in the day, gays were subversive adventurers, trolling the city streets at night on a lustful quest for experience and with an outlaw mentality not seen since the days of the Wild West. They were decadently-dressed sexual superheroes, daring Middle America to condemn them as they pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around to midnight screenings of great American movies like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Pink Flamingoes,” and “Mommy Dearest.” They had an ingrained creativity, a patented sense of irony. They had a brand. They had an identity.

Need I point out that Howley was born in 19 fucking 89? And that the reason gay people before he was born may have seemed like outlaws is because being gay was actually, you know, outlawed? Seriously, young man who clearly thinks of himself as incredibly clever and witty, you really should just shut the fuck up.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • richardelguru

    “Good Old Days of Gay Outlaws”

    Gay outlaws?? Well I always wondered about that Wild Bill Hickok…

  • Sastra

    Well, I’m only an atheist because it’s still daring. As soon as it becomes too trendy and even the people who shop at Walmart don’t believe in God any more — I’m going to enter a convent and become an African missionary.

  • Anthony K

    As I probably complained about my career

    “…it occurred to me how boring and bland everyone else has become. Then I made a quip about the weather, made mention of the recent trajectory of our local sports team, and tucked into my meal, one of my favourites: meatloaf and boiled potatoes. ‘So anyway,’ I continued to no one in particular, ‘Whatever happened to the Ru Pauls and Liberaces of the days of yore, gay men whose flamboyant identities had a purpose, which was to titillate and entertain me?’”

  • Area Man

    Sigh… I long for the days when the queers gave us good cause to kick the shit out of them.

  • paulg

    “…bland, tedious, grievance group eagerly seeking government approval…”


  • doublereed

    “I remember when blacks weren’t uppity about racism and knew their place.”

    Honestly, I don’t even understand. Being gay SHOULD be boring. There’s nothing interesting about being gay. You like people of the same sex. Whoop-dee-frickin-doo. The only reason it’s a big deal is that we made it a big deal.

  • Abby Normal

    I’m not quite sure I understand his point. Is he saying he’d like to ban conservatism so he can have his turn at being a cool outlaw?

  • Abby Normal

    Check out his Daily Caller bio. It really encapsulates his wit and wisdom.

  • Loqi

    I, too, miss the days of the wild west outlaw gays.

    He rode a flaming saddle *whip crack*

    He wore a flamboyant shirt…

  • dugglebogey

    So he’s disappointed to learn that gay people are just normal people with a different sexual orientation?

    This is pure ignorance.

  • unbound

    As the comedian Jim David said:

    The older you are, you realize a very important thing—that people in their 20s don’t know a goddamn thing. People in their 20s are good for one thing—looking better than people in their 30s and 40s. So, if you’re in your 20s strike a pose and shut the fuck up.

  • pacal

    Well guess what most Gays are indeed “totally boring”. Most Gay men are similar to straight men, and even like sports! Most Lesbians are like straight women and even put on makeup! Sorry if a particular group doesn’t titillate you unless it is “transgressive”.

    Although there are a few Gays out there who miss being marginal and “outlaws”, those are generally the artists. Such people annoy me when they claim that acceptance is a bad thing because it removes the edge from being Gay. Sorry but I just do not want to lead a miserable life just so you can be artistically inspired by its “marginality” and “transgressiveness”. The willingness to sacrifice other people for personal “benefit” never dies.

  • frog

    And how do we explain to him all those flamboyant people who are hetero? They do exist! And they’re not closeted gays and lesbians.

  • rickdesper

    @11 Great quote.

  • Noadi

    I’m not surprised this guy was born in 1989, it means he never saw what really ended that culture. I’m only 7 years older than him but it’s enough that I remember friends of my parents dying of AIDs before decent antiretrovirals existed. I remember one of my teachers risking losing her job by coming out as a lesbian in the early 90s. I’m lucky enough to know a few gay men who were in their 20s in the 1970s and while they have some incredible stories they also risked going to jail and lost too many friends to AIDs, addiction, and suicide. I doubt any of them would choose to go back to that time.

  • marcus

    Let me quote the 16 year old Tina Fey’s observation (apparently she was a theist at the time), “Being gay is not a choice, they were made that way by God.” She says it took her another year to “figure out the second part.” “Gay people were made by God, but not solely for my entertainment.”

    At 17 she was way ahead of this asshole.

  • Acolyte of Sagan



    November 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “Good Old Days of Gay Outlaws”

    Gay outlaws?? Well I always wondered about that Wild Bill Hickok…

    …and it puts a whole new slant on Dick Turpin.

  • hunter

    I was part of that culture, and you know what? Most of us weren’t flamboyant outlaws. Most of us were just normal people who had to deal with a lot of discrimination, so we kept very quiet about our personal lives.

    This guy’s a real ass.

  • bybelknap

    If someone sets fire to the straw gay he has in his head, it will be a flaming straw gay. Will that make him happy?

  • dõki

    They were decadently-dressed sexual superheroes, daring Middle America to condemn them as they pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around

    heh, speaking of stereotypes…

    Anyway, reminds me of an even more bizarre argument from my homeland: that being a leftist now is not as glamorous as in the 70s, when you risked being disappeared, tortured and killed for it. Neither of these make much sense, unless you’re engaging in romantic historical fiction.

  • aluchko

    I’m actually a little more sympathetic to his column, I don’t see it as celebrating discrimination but the culture that sprang up to fight the discrimination. Being marginalized and ostracized meant that the only gay people who were visible were the ones willing to step completely outside of society, and that let them build a very unique and creative culture of their own.

    I see it as celebrating war heroes, you don’t want a war but the natural result of a war is some people end up doing heroic things.

  • dõki

    Quoth aluchko #21

    the natural result of a war is some people end up doing heroic things.

    I beg to differ. The natural result of war is dead people. There are some conflicts where you’d be hard pressed to find any heroes at all, while the bodies certainly piled up. Often the talk of mythologised heroes reminds me of how much closer to the anonymous fallen I’d be if I found myself in such a dire situation.

  • magistramarla

    He’s probably watched “The Birdcage” way too many times.

  • dingojack

    My dear Patrick Howley,

    Pro tip for you – you don’t get to tell other people how they should behave, asshole.



    PS: They’re here, they’re queer and we’re getting used to it.

  • aluchko


    The oppression was a horrible thing but the culture a subset formed as a response was an awesome thing. Peaceful, expressive, creative, accepting, and very distinct, I don’t think it’s an endorsement of the oppression to note that a group in that minority created something really special.

  • ekwhite

    This has to be the worst column this year not written by Ricard Cohen. Patrick Howley romanticizing the good old days, when it was still OK to beat up or murder gays, when coming out of the closet could cost you your life. Yeah. Really good times back then.

  • ekwhite

    Errata – that should be the worst column not written by Richard Cohen.

  • dõki

    Quoth aluchko #25

    I don’t think it’s an endorsement of the oppression to note that a group in that minority created something really special.

    Yeeaah, it doesn’t necessarily has to be, but I’m not giving this article the benefit of doubt. The cited text is glorifying the old times by drawing a negative comparison with the boring gays of today. Not exactly the best approach to the topic, is it?

    Anyway, I followed the link to the column to make sure I was not being too unfair to the author, and what I see is pretty horrible. Let me quote:

    “ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), another anti-business piece of legislation that allows self-identified cultural victims to sue their employers after they get fired, all the familiar annoying characters have come out of the tastefully-refurbished woodwork. These include aggrieved LGBTQIAX7@! advocacy groups as well as simpering DNC flacks talking about “marriage equality” and blaming bigoted Republicans for the fact that Chaz Bono hasn’t been elected president.”

    Not exaclty a sympathetic piece, is it? The entirety of it rather pukeworthy.

    But, anyway, my previous comment was even more general. I confess I dislike most stories of war heroism. There may be a few exceptions, but many times they provide a distorted vision of reality, and may help to foster values that I loathe, such as militarism.

    So, I guess I have already strayed too much from the original point. Sorry. I’ll shut up now.

  • sambarge

    What exactly is a “quasi” gay person? Bisexual? Metrosexual? A hunch-backed, bell-ringer who happens to be gay?

  • democommie

    Gay outlaws:

    Sigfried and Roy Rogers?

    @ 25:

    I think your argument was used to explain how black people being oppressed had to do with their excellent athletic and movement artistry and musical skills. It wasn’t accurate then, either. It was bullshit.

  • lofgren

    You guys are idiots. The whole point of this column is that gay people are no different from anybody else. Just read it with the same tone that you would an Onion article. It’s clearly intended to be ironic.

  • lofgren

    Evidence of my above claim: this paragraph, from the article:

    Now, let me be clear. I love the gays. I have gay friends, gay mentors, gay acquaintances and associates. In fact, many people even assume that I am gay. Particularly women I’ve slept with.

    I don’t think he could make it much more obvious that this is a joke.

  • uncephalized


    You guys are idiots. The whole point of this column is that gay people are no different from anybody else. Just read it with the same tone that you would an Onion article. It’s clearly intended to be ironic.

    Really? Having read the whole thing, it came off as an extended, cajoling wheedle from a Millennial (two whole years younger than me! OMG…) Republican asshole, entreating “the gays” (his phrase), who he totally lets use his bathroom and everything. And, like, you can totally trust everything he thinks and says about gays because he is just like them in every way. He is even frequently mistaken for one! Yep, just like them, except that homosex–he doesn’t do that–and “balding, beady-eyed middle-aged men in sweaters” totally all want to butt-fuck him because he just looks so delicious and bottom-y! So, uh, anyway, point is you can trust him if you’re gay, cuz reasons.

    And, like, didn’t you know we righties have always had your back? Those leftists don’t care about you! They just want to push their agenda and their stupid-sounding labels on you. Who can keep track of all those letters, anyway? Ha ha, stupid! (What’s that about decades of systematic persecution of your compatriots by my political forebears? Why, that’s in the past, old bean!)

    The “humor” reads like a thin attempt to paste over the glaring hubris of a guy wanting to go back to a time when people were dying by the thousands of AIDS, you could still be put in prison (or just get lynched) for sodomy, etc., because it “spawned a vibrant counterculture” that he just adores since it’s so cute and oh so sexy (because libertarianism and guns and freedom, yeah!).

    I’m not saying it definitely wasn’t meant as satire (Poe’s Law being what it is)–but if it was, I wasn’t laughing. And it certainly revealed a lot about the guy who wrote it. He definitely nailed a particular voice and perspective here–whether through perception or natural inclination.

  • brianwestley

    they pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around to midnight screenings of great American movies like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,”

    “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was based on the hit London play “The Rocky Horror Show” and filmed entirely in the UK starring the very British Tim Curry.

  • Michael Heath


    Your observation @ 34 is more evidence this article is satire, especially since Richard O’Brien is English.

  • Nomad

    Unfortunately, evidence was already provided that this was not satire.

    I thought that it might have been that at first. I was thinking that maybe the message was basically ‘hey, look at that, gay people are basically more or less normal human beings like us”. But that just doesn’t match up with this article.

    Describing ENDA as anti business? I don’t see any flags for satire there. “seeking government approval”? Really? Let’s face it. He’s accusing the gays of seeking “special treatment”. That’s not satire, this is a guy who isn’t gay, he swears, he loves gay people, really, but damnit is he pissed off that they’re not being all flamboyant for his personal entertainment because it’s just so god damned boring when they expect you to treat them like equal human beings instead.

  • Nomad

    Sorry, mistyped that slightly. I meant to say “a guy who swears he doesn’t hate gay people, really”, I wasn’t really intending to imply he was closeted or in denial. I was more looking to go in the direction of “he loves gay people, really, he even lets them use his bathroom”.