From the May issue of Girlfriends mag: "Did anyone else spot sport columnist Ted Casablanca's insinuation that Jennifer Aniston's taste for the ladies caused her breakup with Brad Pitt? The E! maven predicts that her 'manic drive for anybody butch who wears a bra' will land 'Slippery Polly,' as Casablanca coded her, in another arranged marriage."
Speaking of which, I've been a big fan of the National Enquirer in the past. Back in 2003, I really thought that the fun, bitchy soul of the queer media had been lost. Back then, a newly out Rosie O'Donnell could be found on the cover of the Enquirer, eyes bugging out and mouth open and screeching. Hi-larious.
Divas, too. Regulars like Anna Nicole Smith (who battled the bulge with regular vacuum-suction), Oprah (who battled the bulge with her, er, best girl friend), and Winona (marked for her alleged past as a serial shoplifter banned from Barney’s in L.A.!).
Here was the agony of celebrity life, the next generation of Liza Minnellis (and by the way, Liz Taylor was battling skin cancer).
The Enquirer even tracked our trends. As Laura Innes "commits full-time to her girlfriend" on the TV show ER, the hetero actor had adopted a child off-screen. "The adoption of Mia coincides with a hot trend among many real-life lesbians -- adopting a Chinese baby. Each year, 4,000 to 5,000 Chinese orphans find new families in the US, with 30 percent of the babies going to single mothers." In fact, the Enquirer was just a smidgen behind -- by the time that saw print, the babies were Haitian.
The gay connection with the Enquirer went way back. For years, the paper traded on homophobia for its stories. And that's why we read it in the bad ole days -- for an inkling of who was gay, desperately seeking glimpses of ourselves.
There were also mean-spirited rumours that the Enquirer used to blackmail gay stars, sparing them potentially career-ending gossip in exchange for talk that could hurt the careers of their friends and tricks. But that changed over time.
Only two years ago, the reportage played on shock value, yes, but not on homophobia at its nastiest. And there were homo features every week -- talk about normalizing gay lives!
The gayest thing about the mainstream was the entertainment trash-talk the dailies picked up from the Enquirer. Unless there was an "issue" -- Catholic high school student Marc Hall's banned prom date, boy-on-boy marriage court cases -- we just didn't see consistent gay coverage. We did in the Enquirer.
It even had credibility. Who broke the story that American Taliban John Walker Lindh’s homophobia may have driven him to reject permissive Western society? The Enquirer, in a January 2002 piece that revealed that the convicted traitor's dad got divorced when he fell in love with another man. Few other outlets picked it up. But give it a little time, and the legitimacy of such reporting seeped in. The Oct. 7 Time of that same year confirmed the dad's gayness, and also revealed Lindh junior's eventual gay relationship with a Pakistani businessman. It was good stuff, but written so gawd awful boringly.
The National Enquirer had it all. Agony, ecstasy, fun. And with a gay twist. Until now.
I must say I'm disappointed by the April 18 "bigger, bolder, better" Enquirer. That mag's "feel" has changed. Anna Nicole Smith has a new column (she dropped out of school very young, and dictates it to someone who can spell), but.... It just feels hetero. Less sheer joy of gossip, more average families' far too real lives. Tain't why I buy the Enquirer. And the new Q section has no gay content -- it's written for housewives. Again, for house-wifery talk, I'll buy a mag that does it better.
If the Enquirer has its fingers on the pulse of mainstream America, this new conservative version of "hot gossip, true crime" and, lord help us, "real life," marks the beginnings of an even worse backlash aimed right at us.