The Try Guys Open Eyes

From Left to Right: Ned, Zach, Keith, Eugene

The Try Guys is a group of four guys that tries things most men have never considered or would never consider trying. Buzzfeed conceptualized The Try Guys in September of 2014 when Buzzfeed released “Guys Try On Ladies’ Underwear For The First Time // Try Guys.” Since then, The Try Guys have exploded on the internet gaining increasing popularity among Buzzfeed’s avid YouTube viewers. The group consists of a fairly standard circle of four guys: Eugene—the cool, talented, and pretty one; Ned—the cute, silly, and fatherly figure; Keith—the kooky, awkward, intellectual; and Zach—the nerdy, weird, omega of the wolf pack. Together, these four have experienced anything from trying drag to nude sushi modeling to pseudo-childbirth to BDSM, all while allowing the YouTube audience to vicariously experience such activities accompanied by the guys personal insight.

This group is an important addition to this archive not only because of their willingness to cover taboo topics publicly for anyone to see (such as drag, nude male modeling, and male stripping), but because of who the four guys are. Aside from the civil rights oriented Eugene (who happens to be the only non-white member of the group), the group consists of fairly normative, presumably straight, white guys. This makes the group have so much influential potential; the group reaches out to a demographic of people who are arguably a conservative and judgmental group of people—straight, white guys—and allows them to see that a lot of “gay” things to do may not be stupid, weird, or “gay,” but actually very interesting, fun, and even liberating. Additionally, it also gives out the message that, “if they did it, and they’re cool and normal, then I guess it isn’t weird.” More importantly, Buzzfeed also has other audiences of many different demographics that these videos are viewed by both in the U.S. and around the world; to these audiences, this can send out the message that not all straight, white guys are the stereotypical, closed-minded person that many think. All of this added together just creates a recipe destined for positive influences.

We can see The Try Guys’s influence to multiple demographics (including worldwide audiences) in this clip from a video posted November 21, 2015 (from 2:30-2:37).

In two specific videos, “The Try Guys Try Drag For The First Time” and “The Try Guys Try ‘Fifty Shades’ Style BDSM,” The Try Guys cover topics directly related to this class. In these videos, The Try Guys explore the topics by performing them personally; this allows the guys to ask the very common questions anyone unfamiliar with the topics has and also bust any myths or misconceptions about the topics.

As we experienced in the Gender Performativity unit, specifically RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag performance is not some crazy act by men to get into the pants of other men, nor is it strictly for the purpose of “being a woman.” Instead, we saw that drag is like a theater performance; the actors do it for their personal desires—whether it be to enact a persona, entertain an audience, or to be a queen for a day, etc.—and the audience watches for entertainment, for a unique experience performed with skill creativity, and heart. The Try Guys give us all of this and more; we get to see their personal journey of a day in drag along with how their closest family and friends felt about the experience. Throughout their journey we find that the experience was one of hesitation at first, but ended with a finish of satisfaction and liberation. We see this best when Zach says, “there’s a fear of compromising your masculinity, but who cares.”

The Try Guys and their endeavors continue in another video where we get to watch and learn about BDSM with a professional, The Try Guys, and few female Buzzfeed coworkers. We start off with the Buzzfeed employee’s personal misconceptions about BDSM followed by an explanation by the knowledgeable Buzzfeed workers. This parallels Pat Califia’s explanation of BDSM; Califia shares what many think of BDSM followed by her explanation of why these misconceptions are not accurate representation of what BDSM actually is. Just like for Califia, Buzzfeed and The Try Guys are trying to dismantle the taboo of BDSM and show its true inner workings, specifically that BDSM is not crazy and violent sexual assault, but rather a consensual role playing coupled with a power dynamic and strong physical sensations. Together, I think the video and Califia’s work exemplify that, as Califia explains, BDSM is a fantasy where participants are enhancing sexual experience, not impeding it.

Because of such progressive work reaching out to a vast and varying audience, I believe The Try Guys are just one step in the right direction to help thwart misconceptions of taboo topics in our world. Much of their content is enlightening and entertaining; I highly recommend that, if you haven’t already, check out the rest of their videos. They have done plenty to bring a little perspective to their audience, and it looks like they have just scratched the surface.

We All Need A Normal Heart

The Normal Heart Front Cover

The 2014 film The Normal Heart, written by Larry Kramer, is a recreation of Kramer’s 1985 play The Normal Heart. With a star filled cast, The Normal Heart is a beautiful drama that shows the unfortunate troubles of gay men at the start of and through the rise of the AIDS epidemic. Although this film existed in play form first, it was recreated as a way to reach a larger audience and show how seriously terrifying and mysterious the AIDS epidemic was for those living through it.

The Normal Heart starts off by showing the sexual liberty gays have recently acquired along with the happiness from their freedom. But the film quickly changes tone once gays realize they are being diagnosed with a rare and nebulous homosexual cancer. Once the main character, Ned—an openly gay writer, has a friend who becomes infected with this gay cancer, they start to seek out help. At this point, they go to Dr. Emma Brookner who is the one of the only doctors willing to work with patients infected with this mysterious disease. Dr. Brookner is looking for someone to be a leader and share her information with gay men; she finds Ned to be that man. At a meeting with Dr. Brookner, Ned, and many other gay men, Dr. Brookner shares her research and information with these men about how she thinks the cancer is sexually transmitted, and that the men should “cool it” because there is a high chance they will infect each other and die. The sexually liberated men scoff at her, but Ned knows how serious this disease is and decides to start an organization to get help and raise awareness for the disease. The rest of the film focuses on the development the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) organization intermixed with the personal struggles the gay men are facing at this time. The GMHC becomes one of the leading fighters to get support politically, publicly, and medically to combat the gay disease.

The film does not strictly focus on the disease, but also how this disease affects the personal lives of the gay men at the time. As if gay men weren’t already misunderstood enough, the gay cancer (which we now know is AIDS) adds another level of the struggles gay men face. The film depicts how gays during this time receive little to no help from anyone apart from other gays, how they become more feared than ever due to the rise of this mysterious cancer, how being gay is still full of doubt, fear, and confusion in addition to this crisis, and how it still is not safe nor secure to be openly gay to the public.

Although this film is largely about the AIDS epidemic, it still showcases many things presented in our sexuality unit. One specific aspect from our unit that The Normal Heart focuses on is Ned’s sexuality, his understanding of it, and his relationship with his family because of it. Until the latter half of Ned’s life, he always believed his sexuality was wrong; he had been told a plethora of times that he could change his ways, become straight, and finally be normal. This is very similarly to our reading of Merle Miller’s “What It Means To Be a Homosexual,” where he says,

I have spent several thousand dollars and several thousand hours with various practitioners, and while they have often been helpful in leading me to an understanding of how I got to be the way I am, none of them has ever had any feasible, to me feasible, suggestion as to how I could be any different.

In both cases, we see that these gay men realized that no amount of therapy can change who they are; although it may be a more stressful life, they know who they are, what they are, and nothing is going to change that. In fact, we even see that after this epiphany, both individuals become happier and more at peace with themselves.

We also get to see how gayness crosses over to family life with Ned and his brother, Ben. Ben is a lawyer at a very successful law firm and Ned is seeking his assistance for the GMHC. Ned believes that the support of not just his straight brother, but Ben’s straight company will drastically help their movement. On the other hand, Ben thinks that the “straightness” of him and his company will not make a difference. It is at this point that Ned realizes his brother still doesn’t see him as a healthy equal, that Ben still thinks he is “sick,” and that his brother still doesn’t understand him, even though he accepts him; this is exactly the struggle Martha Shelley describes in “Gay is Good.” Here, Shelley explains that she is sick of liberals saying that it doesn’t matter who sleeps with whom, but what one does outside of bed; to her, this isn’t good enough anymore. She states,

[w]e want something more now, something more than the tolerance you never gave us. But to understand that, you must understand who we are. . . I will tell you what we want, we radical homosexuals: not for you to tolerate us, or to accept us, but to understand us.

In the heat of Ned and Ben’s argument, we hear a very similar frustration expressed by Ned towards Ben’s understanding and acceptance of Ned. Ben tolerates and accepts Ned, but he doesn’t truly understand Ned which, as Shelley agrees, is not good enough for Ned.

In yet another example from the film that connects to our unit, we see that to many in the straight world, one’s sexuality is extremely important and can influence someone’s opinions or actions towards a homosexual. During this time, Ned is one of the few open, politically active gay men; many of the other GMHC are closeted out of fear of having their lives ruined from the rest of the world not accepting them. Even the mayor and his assistant are gay, but they neglect the epidemic due to the potential of them being outed even though they are struggling through the epidemic themselves. As we saw from Joseph Epstein, he stated in “Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity” that,

[f]or this reason, and from an absolutely personal point of view, I consider it important [to] know whether a man I am dealing with is a homosexual or [not].

In a scene in the hospital at which Dr. Brookner works, we see this exemplified when a maintenance worker won’t go into the gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) section of the hospital to fix a TV because his union says he “doesn’t have to risk his life over some contagious fairy.” Another situation like this occurs when two gay men, one of them severely sick with the disease, are asked to leave a plane they are on because the pilot will not fly while they are still on the plane. These scenarios truly demonstrate the struggles gay men faced during this time period.

The Normal Heart is quite an outstanding film that explains a difficult period for gay men. The story encapsulates many of the struggles gay men have faced to get to the point they are today in a powerful story that can open the eyes to many who do not know about or who who do not understand the struggles gay men have gone through. Because of its excellent depiction, I highly recommend this film and believe it rightly deserves its place in this archive.

To get a glimpse of the film, here is the trailer:

Timeless love — Love is Strange

Love is strange. It is strange because it can make two totally unrelated people become the most important one in each other’s life. It is strange because people can be bonded together no matter their sex, and no matter their age. The reason why I chose to write about this movie is that it is about a very unique kind of homosexual relationship.

‘Plain but touching’ is what I will use to describe this movie. It does not have a climax, nor a dramatic twist in the story line. Love is Strange directed by Ira Sachs is about two old gay couple, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), who have been together for 39 years and just got married. After they get married, George get fired by the christian school which he has been teaching for many years. The couple cannot afford their apartment in Manhattan anymore so they have to rely on their family and friends for support.

love-is-strange

The first scene of the movie filmed the two old man’s feet side by side on the bed. We can see their rough skin and saggy belly exposing to each other without any discomfort. Everything seems to move so smoothly as they shower, change, and get ready for their big day. The many little details in their life show how they have accepted each other’s flaws. Their relationship is just like any other couples, except that they do not have the particular ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ that straight couple have. Halderstam’s article about female masculinity discussed about the heronic masculinity and the alternative masculinities, but I am wondering after watching this movie, does a relationship must have a “muscular” and “feminine” side? In Ben and George’s relationship, we really cannot tell who is more muscular who is not. Society give people these classifications which I found really useless sometime because many people just can not be included in these classifications. Many people believe that there must be a more ‘man’ or ‘girly’ side in a relationship but Ben and George disproved this view. 

The movie also touches upon the society’s view toward homosexual. During Ben and George’s wedding, everyone is blessing the couple. However, the scene turns to George being fired. It shows the contrast between acceptance and resistance. In the scene when Joey (Eliot’s son)’s friend is posing for Ben’s painting, Joey said, ‘This is so gay!’ and then apologized to Ben. This reflects that people still use ‘gay’ as a negative word, although the society seems to accept gay marriage. Also, when Eliot and his wife Kate realized that their son was hanging out with his friend everyday, they start to worry about their son being homosexual. Kate talked about how Ben and George influenced her during their wedding ceremony, but when it comes to her son, she is still resists this sexual orientation. However, this make us wonder how Ben and George strive through all those years together and finally being able to get married.

The scene I loved the most is when they are walking in an alley after having their little drink in a bar. The two old man walk side by side but not holding hands. It seems like they are the only ones in the busy Manhattan. George walk Ben to the subway and gaze fixedly at Ben as he walk down the stair and until he disappear. The director always uses long shots to give the audience a lot of space to wonder, and to think deeply.

The death of Ben also went very smoothly without any tears shown. Joey brings Ben’s unfinished painting to George. I think it may symbolizes that their love is still not finished.

 

The History of Pride Flags

The very first gay pride flag made its first appearance in 1978. The original flag had eight colors. Today’s gay pride flag has only six colors. Each of the colors represent a different aspect of life. The first gay pride flag was created by Gilbert Baker. He is an artist from San Francisco. Among the gay pride flag there is other pride flags that represent different pride groups. Some of these other pride flags are Leather Pride, Bear Pride, Bisexual Pride, Lesbian Pride, Transgender Pride, Asexual Pride, and Feather Pride. These are only a few of the other pride there is many more. The other main one that I want to focus on is the Bear Pride flag, because this was the next pride flag that was created. Craig Byrnes was the designer of the Bear Pride flag. He came up with the official design in 1995 as the bear pride community was growing. Each color represents all the different types of real bears all around the world.

                        

(the flag on the left is the original 8 color flag and the flag in the middle is the present 6 color flag and the flag on the right is the ear pride flag)

Gay pride and bear pride along with leather pride are the top three pride groups that usually attend pride fests. In class we watched a short clip from “Where the Bears Are”. This is an internet show about the Bear pride community. It is a comedy mystery web series which won the 2012 “Best Gay Web Series”. It has become a big hit ever since it made its debut in 2012 with over 10 million hits. This show represents basically one group of gay men who are very hairy and have a larger masculine body structure. These men also usually have facial hair as well as chest hair. The Bear pride community has many different slang terms to describe what type of bear every man is that’s in the community. Another short web clip we watched in class was “Easy Abby”. This is a web series based on a lesbian who has a lot of girlfriends that she doesn’t remember when she runs into them after not seeing them for a little while after they broke up. Both web series are based on gay people weather they are men or women. Before other pride groups were formed and came up with their own pride flags they all would have originally used the rainbow gay pride flag to support their sexuality. But now each gay group has their own pride flag. there is a pride flag for transgender people, lesbians, straight, asexual, and many more different groups.

       

I chose to do my history archive on the history of the most common gay pride flags because not many people realize that there is more than just the original rainbow (gay) pride flag. Along with the gay pride flag being one of the most popular pride flags, the bear pride flag is also one of the three most popular pride flags as well. Bear pride has been growing more popular since 1995 when the official design of their flag was debuted to the community. No matter how many different gay pride flags there is the original gay pride flag (the rainbow flag) will never fade away because it is what has formed our community and shaped the future for other pride flags to come to gay groups that do not have a special flag of their own. We all share the original pride flag, but like to stand out with our own pride flag that represents who we truly are.

PrideFlags

 

Albee and Whitman with the Woolfs

whos-afraid-of-virginia-woolf-title-screen

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf

When the morning comes….

Edward Albee’s 1962 play’s title Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf comes from a play on words of the 1933 Disney song, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Already mixing dark comedy and literature with the very title, Albee’s play is a hallmark of absurdist theatre. The drama describes the emotional and psychological instability of a couple’s wasting marriage. Hailed as a revolution for drama at the time, it won two awards within the first five years of production. Some critics then say it polarized audiences; some lauded its themes and creative use of tension, while others found it perverse through its sexual and explicit content. And this theme of polarization is what I find key to describing Edward Albee.

Albee is an out proud gay man, known as an accomplished playwright even before WAoVW, but he is most remembered for it due to its raw details. And it is these raw details, written with the intensity of a melodrama that put Albee into question. The campiness of the play and the writer’s sexuality led some critics to read the characters as stand-ins for gay relationships. The play as a metaphor for the ‘absurd’ trials and tribulations homosexual couple’s face and create themselves. At first, I was just going to archive that- the play as a thought that queer agency was created on stage before it was condoned, even if it was obscured. But through more research I discovered Albee’s total refusal to classify Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as queer literature. His stance is even more controversial considering his advocacy for civil rights and LGTBA understanding, but he deems his art to not be affected or analyzed by his sexuality. As Albee accepted his award at the 23rd annual Lambda Literary Awards, he is quoted in his speech saying “a writer who happens to be gay or lesbian must be able to transcend self. I am not a gay writer, I am a writer who happens to be gay.” This remark was met with disgruntlement or abject fury by the audience, his words seen as a dismissal of self and the gay identity. I kind of agree with Albee though in the same vein of the argument Hogan and Caskie make about Sam Smith.

It is the new wave quiet activism, how ‘gay’ can be a part of your reality but not the whole of it. Albee is later quoted commenting to NPR about the negative reactions as “so many writers who are gay are expected to behave like gay writers and I find that is such a limitation and prejudicial thing that I fight against it whenever I can.” His remarks remind me about our class debate on whether or not Whitman was gay. Albee is most assuredly, but that sexuality-identity connection to art is still questioned the same across generations. Does it affect Whitman’s poetry if he was gay? It affects the way we view him now, the way we have archived him in the queer history, but we argued about whether or not he would accept such a classification. Albee, unlike Whitman, is aware of the connotations of the word ‘gay’ but still contests such a distinction to be necessary. I am aware I am archiving Albee the same way history has archived Whitman, but we all should note that neither has agreed to it. Albee can be in queer history because he is a gay man making art, but his work should not critiqued only through that lens. As with Sam Smith, the man is not the art and the stories are not the same. ‘The body is political’ is denied by these artists, for the sake of their works meaning not be marginalized or pigeon-holed into outdated stereo-types of queer art. There is current Queer art, the same way there is Black art and Women’s Art; its existence cannot be denied or forgotten, but it is not all-inclusive and it is not all-political. It can be remembered, as I am making this so archiving it, but it must be remembered with all its origins and all its meanings intact.

 

Sarah Caskie, “Sam Smith: Musician on the Rise,” Contemporary Queer Culture hosted by Sites@PSU, last modified April 2, 2015, http://sites.psu.edu/245spring2015/2015/04/02/sam-smith-musician-on-the-rise/.

Female Masking

imgres   images-1

For many, the thought of wearing a silicone suit is entirely out of the question, but for some heterosexual men, that is exactly what they love to do. The men who wear these latex masks and silicon suits are part of a subculture most recently known as “Female Maskers”. A short documentary titled ‘Secrets of the Living Dolls’ aired on Channel 4 in the UK . It revealed the hidden community of men who put on rubber suits to look like women.

‘Female masking’ is primarily practiced by heterosexual men, some of which are actually married. The act of wearing a mask and a body suite (which consists of all the curves that make up a female body) is more of a fetish than anything else. Unlike transgender people, these ‘female maskers’ do not feel like they were born in the wrong body. For them, dressing up as a female rubber doll is simply a way to have fun.

article-2565884-1BBF77C100000578-390_306x423

Femskin, one of the many up and rising companies that makes the $850 (approximately £518) custom-made silicone outfits worn by maskers, recently stated: ‘We don’t think it would be fair to call them gay or even attracted to other men.’ ‘It’s about fun. Not all of them even want to be hot. Some want to be nasty hags.’

“A lot of men have fun by pretending to be women”

 

Many of these ‘maskers’ spend a lot of time on their female alter egos. They name them, give them their own style and are sure to embrace the personality that best fits the fantasy they create for themselves while wearing the suits. images

The lifestyle these men live remind me a lot of the characters in Georges Bataille, The Story of the Eye. Much of the discussion in class, in regards to the first section of this novel, revolved around how weird the characters were.

The class, as a whole, considered it freaky that they went to great lengths to find different forms of pleasure.Urinating, which was one of the many pleasures these characters cherished, was something we regarded as gross and unimaginable. Likewise, much of today’s society is disgusted by the “fun” men find in dressing up like female rubber dolls.

These men, their rubber suits, and their “bizarre” way of finding pleasure in dressing like women parallel the characters in that novel. For them, it is just another way to have fun, just like for the characters, certain acts were just another way to have an orgasm. It gives imagination to the idea of a means to an end.

In the same manner any reader would deem the novel and its characters abnormal so does much of society (including the queer community) deem these maskers outlandishd.

The community of ‘Female Maskers’ is still fairly new. Consequently that means not much is known about their world and way of life. But, what is certain is that this fetish is growing tremendously popular. It is with much hope that in time these heterosexual men and their way of  having ‘fun’ will soon be accepted.

 

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is a critically acclaimed and extremely popular queer romance/drama movie. The film was directed by Ang Lee, under the production company River Road Entertainment in 2005. It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and received three of them: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. It is based off of a book by an American author by Annie Proulx.

Despite being so successful, the movie was not without its fair share of public outcry and controversy. After all, it depicted a gay male relationship. A relationship with two men is not necessarily part of the “normative” culture that our world fostered back in 2005 and still does today. As a result, it faced many challenges including theatre cancellations, media criticism, and overall denouncement from various organizations. For example, it was pulled from a theatre in Utah despite having been contracted to premier there. In addition, the conservative media attacked Hollywood for pushing a “gay agenda”. This bad press caused sales to decrease dramatically over the course of the week. However, the movie prevailed and is still revered as a great production of its time that sheds light on an otherwise darkened subject matter.

Brokeback Mountain begins with the two main characters, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) looking for a job for the summer. They both arrive at the same trailer of a man who owns a large herd of sheep. In past seasons, there has been an issue where wolves were hunting and killing the sheep. So, he wants the two men to camp out on Brokeback Mountain together to scare off any wolves that come close to the herd.

At this point, we only get some minor hints they Jack may be gay. While Ennis is standing outside, Jack stares at him through the side-view mirror of his truck. The stare lingers and his eyes have a certain intensity that hints at sexual desire. If Ennis had returned the stare, it would have been very similar to those in Cruising. This means we aren’t at an intense point of mutual attraction yet, but there is a hint that it is evolving. It serves as an effective foreshadowing into the coming relationship between the two men.

brokebackpic1

Once they get to the mountain, they set up camp and begin their daily and nightly duties. The usual arrangement is that one person holds down camp at night, and the other rides out to the sheep to guard them. However, they decide that both of them will stay at the camp for one night. Ennis starts by sleeping outside, with Jack inside the tent. It is very cold, and Jack tells Ennis to sleep with him inside the tent. In a matter of minutes, they begin kissing, and eventually they begin to have sex. This kiss was initiated by an intense stare. It was a stare that told both parties that they were interested, a form of communication without a single word. This is exactly the kind that the main character in cruising used to attract the killer, another man with which to have sexual relations with. It is marked by eye contact, small facial movements, and bodily gestures.

Now, we see the first truly mutual sign of affection between the two main characters. This confirms our thoughts from the beginning, and thus starts the emotional and sexual relationship between Ennis and Jack.

brokebackpic2

As the story continues, they move on past working on the mountain and get families of their own. They both marry women and have kids and live seemingly normal lives. That is, until Jack makes contact with Ennis again by means of a postcard. This sparks their relationship and they begin to see each other, with the intention of hiding it from their wives. Ennis’ wife sees them immediately when they are kissing for the first time after not seeing each other. Afterwards, they continue to meet on Brokeback Mountain multiple times throughout the year to have sex and spend time with each other. This creates a downward spiral for Ennis’ normative life, and eventually ends in divorce.

brokebackpic3

This is a parallel that can be drawn to the lives of many gay men today. Due to the pressures of society, many feel that they must marry someone of the opposite gender. This forces them to suppress their true feelings and it eventually manifests into lies, secret relationships, and a great deal of unhappiness. If society were to release some of this pressure, perhaps Ennis and Jack could have lived their lives together from the beginning. The pressure isn’t only present in the movie, but it was also present on the movie when the various critics were denouncing the contents saying they would threaten the normative American family.

Divorce is not the only thing that plagues the lives of Jack and Ennis throughout the movie. It is suggested that Jack’s community found out about his homosexuality. Not long after their last visit, Ennis finds out that Jack has been killed. Jack’s wife lies to Ennis about how it happened, saying it was an accident while fixing a tractor. Then, the scene flashes to images of Jack getting beaten and slashed.

Unfortunately, this is a stark reality for a lot gay people in the world today. Many people get beaten, bullied, or worse by their peers simply for having feelings for the same sex.

Brokeback Mountain is a keynote movie in queer culture. It showcases not only the social struggle of queer relationships and ideas, but also the lesser known details of the lifestyle. Their interest in each other revealed itself only when they shared glances, just as those in Cruising right before two men would get together to have sex. And after exchanging these signs of affection, they immediately delved into sexual acts, very similar to the gay bars in Cruising. As a result, Brokeback Mountain teaches us a lot about the social restrictions that surround being gay, while paralleling itself to other productions that have less to do with the social aspects and more about the sexual culture.

 

Yanis Marshall

Quote

24 year old, Yanis Marshall became a sensation after a video titled “Spice Girls” went viral on Youtube on June 30th of 2013. But it was not the nature of the song that made him famous; it was his dance moves in several pairs of nine-inch heels. The video features the now famous Parisian choreographer, Yanis Marshall, fiercely dancing all over parts of Paris.

Yanis is originally from Vallauris, near Cannes. He is currently a choreaographer, teacher and dancer and has been dancing since an early age. At the age of eleven, with the help of his mother who was a director of a dance association, he passed the auditions for the Dance School called Rosella Hightower. It is here that Yanis began to train in Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz.

Despite his artistic ability and love for dance, in an interview with Great Rhys Alexander, Yanis claimed to leave for Paris France in search of independence from modern contemporary dance.

At the age of 19, he left to New York City where he experienced his first class of a style of dance called Street Jazz, with Sheryl Murakami. She is an artist that he claims “gave him a wake up call” and continues to inspire him till the day. After years of unhappiness in many different styles of dance, Yanis found a home in the style of Street Jazz.

Much like Voguing, Street Jazz roots from stricter dance styles. It evolved from informal settings like nightclubs, schools and on the street. Street jazz dance was inspired by traditional dance performed outside of professional studios.Jazz dance, modern hip hop and funk make up this style of dance. Elements of the rigid robotic movements, the marked spins often found in breakdancing and the fluid movements of hip hop, like in Sheryl Murakami’s music video below, are key components of the Street Jazz dance.

As for the heels. Whenever Yanis is asked why he dances in heels his response is famously always “why not?” Despite the humor in his response, one thing is certain, men dancing in heels or simply wearing heels is not a first.

Men originally wore high- heeled shoes. As early as the 10th century, men wearing high heels became a trend amongst the upper class. At the time, high-heeled shoes were not a signifier of gender. It was not until the 18th century that men discontinued the trend and the high-heeled shoe was soon after established as a ladies shoe. Ever since then, high heels on men have not made a comeback.

The long standing societal acceptance that high heels are only for women are what have made seeing dancers like Yanis Marshall famous. He is an excellent advocate of the “social evolution” we speak of today. He can “werk” those heels better than most women can walk in them but unfortunately the world has long been a witness to the slow but sure consistency of gender binding norms.

Yanis says heels are his speciality. Since a young age he loved to wear his mothers heels. Dancing in heels for Yanis makes him different, and he admits to not being shy one bit about his heels nor the fact he is gay.

“Just be you and if people don’t like it, well F*ck Them”

But despite the use of heels whenever he dances, Yanis is not transgender nor seeks to become a women.The use of heels for men to dance in is simply sexy and artistic to Yanis and he encourages both men and women, straight or gay to dance in heels whenever he teaches a class.  He also has no plans to label men dancing in heels any sort of style of dancing because he hates labels or boxes.