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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Problem with Patti Stanger's Stand on Gay Monogamy

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

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Oscar Raymundo's Easy Target takes one conventional argument from news media, pop culture, local politics, or queer lifestyle -- and shoots it down.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike Patti Stanger. For one, she's made quite the living out of setting up millionaires with potential mates. But if you're a millionaire who needs reality TV to find love, you probably don't deserve it. Patti's blunt, almost clinical, approach to matchmaking is worthy of some eye rolls. And this week, the gays went all a-Twitter after Patti's appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Bravo's extended commercial programming hosted by Andy Cohen.

When a gay caller asked about being in an open long-distance relationship, Patti said as a matter of fact, "there is no curbing the gay" - equating gayness some sort of inherent promiscuity gene.

Patti told the caller to go on Grindr and have a grand old slutty time, 'cause he was never going to find a committed partner in Los Angeles. Which would have been great advice... except the caller was from Ohio. When Andy Cohen stood up for his monogamous ways, Patti snorted at him. She later asked him about his last boyfriend and commented that maybe the reason Andy, confused puppy during all of this, was still single was because he had chosen to break-up fights between temperamental wealthy women with an affinity for Botox on national television over finding the love of his life.

The Millionaire Matchmaker had to issue an apology to GLAAD, of course, and brought up her support of the LGBT community by participating in Adam Bouska's NOH8 photo series (though it remains unclear what posing for an overexposed photo with duck tape over your mouth has done to advance equal rights). But Patti did not apologize for being sick of trying to make us commit beyond "whipping it out at eye lock," as she later said on Joy Behar's show.

It's easy to blast Patti for her soundbyte stupidity and the way she nonchalantly blurbs out gay stereotypes. But stereotypes have a source, and they wouldn't be so harmful if they didn't also happen to be true.

This week, while getting my regular STI screening at Magnet, the men's health clinic in the Castro, my counselor mentioned that the majority of newly diagnosed HIV cases he comes across are gay men under 30 who believed were in a committed, monogamous relationship. Unfortunately for everyone involved, monogamy is easier said than done.

Exclusive partners in the gay community is a recent development, brought on by the marriage movement to make us fit into a cookie-cutter catalogue closer to the white picket fence than to Folsom Street.

Fifty years ago, heck... even just twenty five years ago, we had different rules and different ways of playing the game. And that was our norm. Now that we, too, are finally being told we are worthy of finding just "the one," perhaps our baby steps into monogamy are not immune to a few stumbles. Just ask the men who were blindsided into contracting HIV from their primary partners, who had secondary partners of their own.

The problem with gay monogamy is not a reality TV personality with a big mouth. The problem is a lack of communication: understanding our partners, aligning our expectations of commitment, and forming a pact - not to get on the HRC homepage - but to make our relationship work. In some cases, it might even save our lives.

So instead of trying to get Patti fired for exercising her free, albeit stupid, speech, we should instead focus on our own definitions. After all, monogamy is not the solution to our slut stereotype, let alone a cure for all those STI's. Trust, on the other hand, now that's something we should all have no trouble committing to.

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Oscar Raymundo

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