“Like all human behavior, homosexuality leads to make-believe, disequilibrium, frustration, lies, or, on the contrary, it becomes the source of rewarding experiences, in accordance with its manner of expression in actual living—whether in bad faith, laziness, and falsity, or in lucidity, generosity, and freedom.”
– Simone de Beauvoir, excerpt from The Second Sex (1949)
Ask a Gay Dude…
White individuals could very well ask: What is it like to be black? Similarly, “straight” men could very well ask: What is it like to be gay? Even though both questions are awkward, they demonstrate people’s sense of sameness and difference, people’s sense of the Other. “Ask a Gay Dude,” a sketch from Chappelle’s Show, critiques perceptions of the Other, particularly commenting on the ways sexuality is made into Other for desire and consumption via heteronormative fantasizing. In the sketch, straight men are interviewed who “ask a gay dude” questions about what it is like to be gay, including questions about sex and desire. Like his treatment of “race,” Chappelle treats “gender” in a way that exposes its absurdity, displaying the ridiculousness of masculinity and femininity and the way people apply maleness and femaleness, especially using the gay male body as a site of female heteronormative sex role designation. Sex, particularly “fucking,” becomes the way in which the interviewed men designate otherness in gay men, a vehicle through which they depict a form of “othered sexuality.” Regarding “fucking,” in “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance,” bell hooks writes, “To these young males and their buddies, fucking was a way to confront the Other, as well as a way to make themselves over, to leave behind white ‘innocence’ and enter the world of ‘experience’” (23). While hooks addresses white desire towards black individuals, I apply this same framework to “heterosexual” desire towards “homosexual” individuals, a means of breaking “innocence” to gain “experience.” As evident in the interviews, the males use a kind of “secondhand fucking” to avoid actually engaging in intercourse with gay men, but, instead, the males use fantasy as a vehicle to engage in the consumption of the gay male as Other. Chappelle’s sketch utilizes “eating the Other” as the two black heterosexual male interviewees and the white male heterosexual interviewee (Dee Snider from Twisted Sister) engage in the desire to know what gay men are like, to explore the Other using sex or rather their secondhand fuck fantasies.
Here’s a link to the sketch titled “Ask a Gay Dude” from Chappelle’s Show:
Fantasizing about the Other
From the start, Chappelle begins with addressing the secondhand fuck fantasy in the way the black straight man ponders what a gay man feels like during oral sex, questioning the gay man’s potential dick-sucking expertise. The first interviewee says, “Alright. I would like to know: When a gay guy is performing oral sex, is it better than the female?” with Mario Cantone answering, “Better? How the fuck do I know? Next question. [Pause] It’s better!” (Chappelle). Similar to the fascination with black sexuality in terms of stereotyped penis size, this black male engages in the stereotyping of gay men as fantasized dick-sucking experts. Chappelle interestingly uses satire to transcend heterosexism, but he also uses it with an introspective purpose; the way the black male stereotypes gay males mirrors ways white individuals stereotype black males (although in different ways such as imposed hypermasculinity and over-sexualization). Black men and gay men can be stereotyped, but they can also stereotype each other and use desire to practice in the secondhand fucking of each other. Involving the gay man confirming the fantasy by saying “It’s better!” when asked about gay male oral sex proficiency in regards to female oral sex proficiency, Chappelle further satirizes perceptions of the Other, of the way “othered sexualities” such as homosexuality and black sexuality appear as different, as the two seem bundled together in their exoticism.
Who’s the Bitch Now?
Even while the sketch stays within the realm of secondhand fucking, fantasizing about the Other, the audience sees somewhat of a change in topic: the reflection of being “made the bitch” back at a hypermasculine, stereotypical black male representation. The second interviewee says, “Ay, yo! I just got one question for you fruity pants out there. It’s Bazaar Royale from Bloodline Records. I want to know: What is the rainbow about!? What is the rainbow about!? I’m not feeling the rainbow! I’m not feeling the rainbow! Get back at me about dat!” with Mario Cantone answering, “Fruity pants? Let me tell you something. I’ll put a band-aid over your left cheek and make you my Nelly. [Cantone makes suggestive humping gestures] [Pause] Fruity pants!” (Chappelle). Notably, Cantone references to Nelly with a band-aid on his left cheek as seen in his “Hot in Herre” (2002) music video in particular. This reference is significant because it, in some ways, transcends heterosexism by Cantone’s obvious mockery of Bazaar Royale, saying that Royale could essentially be “made his bitch.” Moreover, I think the Nelly reference could be considered in itself as a way that Cantone, even as gay man, a minority group member, partakes in the desired consumption of a black male body, so this portion of the sketch melds both homosexuality and black sexuality in an interesting way. As mentioned previously, both homosexuality and black sexuality meet together as “othered sexualities,” as acts beyond the limits of imaginable norms within white heteronormativity. Chappelle flips the perceived notion of the hypermasculine black guy and introduces a gay guy who strips that sense of hypermasculinity by telling Royale that he could be a fuckable Nelly (with humping gestures indicated). Cantone, in this satirical dialogue, “changed the joke and slipped the yoke” as he shredded the typified image of the subordinate gay bottom, made Royale his bitch in his own fantasy, and transcended the stereotype of the feminized sex object which often yokes gay men, particularly feminine gay men.
“Lustworthy”: From Innocence to Experience
In the last portion of the sketch, Chappelle further explores the stereotyping of gay men through straight male fantasies of the Other. The third interviewee Dee Snider says, “Since you’re guys. Like guys always [are] like after every chick, so since you’re still a guy, but you like guys, would you be after every guy? So, do you want me? Now? [Bends over, indicating his ass] Do you want this? You can’t have this, but if you want—I want to know if you want this” with Mario Cantone replying, “Oh! You tease! You big tease! Hold on one second [Imitates heaving and throwing up]” (Chappelle). The most striking image in this satirical exchange is Snider asking if the gay man wants him while he states that the gay man cannot have him—but he still wants to know if the gay man wants him. This part of the sketch clearly underscores the idea of using “fucking” and fantasy to explore the Other, to gain “experience” from “innocence.” Chappelle furthermore flips gendered behaviors as Snider talks about men typically chasing all women, but then questions if gay men chase all men. This exchange seems to critique hypersexuality and over-sexualization generally associated with masculinity and manhood. With Cantone’s response of sarcastically calling Snider a “tease” and then imitating heaving and throwing up, the sketch ridicules the absurdity of heterosexist assumptions about gay men being promiscuous sex beasts. When Snider asserts that gay men lust after all men, followed by Cantone responding by heaving at the idea of being with Snider, Chappelle’s satire dismantles the absurdity of homophobia, of men’s fear that all gay men find every man innately “lustworthy.”
Being Black, Being Gay, Being “Other”
Through the lens of the secondhand fuck fantasy, gay men are subject to absurd stereotyping just as black men are often painted with over-sexualized assumptions of the Other. With the invention of black people, white people came into existence as the recognized dominant group while black people became regarded as a backdrop to accentuate the power of white cultural dominance. Similarly, without “homosexuality,” “heterosexuality” does not exist. By this statement, I mean that differentiated sexuality (sexuality made Other) gives rise to a sexuality deemed more acceptable, more dominant. The mere existence of difference permits the existence of sameness, so the categories “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” function as indicators of sexual differences, of defining and separating an Other (“the homosexual”) from the dominant heterosexual culture. Within this framework, Chappelle plays with the way black sexuality and homosexuality are in themselves considered “othered sexualities,” that these ways of intimacy and sexual expression are essentially bundled together and separated from white sexuality and heterosexuality (which, in a similar way, white sexuality and heterosexuality are essentially bundled together as well being that power allows for them to exist in dominance over both black sexuality and homosexuality). Furthermore, as viewed in the sketch, Chappelle shows the problematic nature of hypersexuality, of the way over-sexualized attributes are assigned without much reason other than the person “being black” or “being gay.” In this way, Chappelle’s sketch overall functions as both transcendent and introspective in ridiculing racism (indirectly) and heterosexism (directly) while also pushing for self-reflection over stereotypes applied to people because of absurdly fantasized perceptions of what it is to be “black” or “gay.”