The world has been actively seeking out the best gay jokes for ages. The problem with this search is that so many have been produced that it has become widely misunderstood. Much of the humor we see on television or in movies has been created by a gay fringe of folks who see themselves as truth-seekers and would not hesitate to tell some ugly truths if that were funny. Worse, much of what passes for humor on mainstream late-night TV and in most movies are completely taken out of context to make them. There is no place on either side of the spectrum where jokes can be told without being analyzed and then ridiculed by those on the receiving end. But by understanding how the gay community has historically viewed the world, you can begin to realize why jokes are bad.
The first joke that comes to mind is the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” guideline. For anyone who has ever experienced being told that they aren’t allowed to talk about certain things, this has become a deeply entrenched part of their existence. Many younger generations grew up with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” motto, and if asked directly how they feel about the topic, they’ll likely reply with something like “You’re asking me a question, when do I start thinking of having sex with you?” In this scenario, the joke is on the homophobe, not the straight guy asking the gay guy a question.
In a broader sense, many of the responses to jokes about sexuality that we have seen over the years can be considered to be less than genuinely funny. Take, for example, the “Religiously In conservative” bumper sticker seen around the US last year. It compared gay men to mentally unstable individuals who should be kept away from women, and therefore shouldn’t be within the company of women. This was not a hugely popular joke, but it nevertheless managed to get plenty of attention, and some ridicule, from the general public while further fueling the flames of a growing culture war over sexuality.
So, why is there such a thing as “gay jokes“? Why do people find them so offensive? The answer lies in the observation that there is a fundamental disconnection between what we see as the proper, natural, and normal way of relating to our sexuality with what society and our own minds and conscience seem to regard as wrong, undesirable, or, worse, wrong. People joke about straight relationships being the most boring thing on earth or being forced to pretend to be straight in order to find intimacy with a man. They joke about straight guys being unable to flirt with girls or women or having to pretend to like women in order to get any flirting going. In short, it’s pretty clear that straight jokes are not always about the topic at hand – they’re usually joking about the way people view, talk about, and attempt to analyze sexuality through the lens of straightness.
For some reason, when it comes to the subject of queer jokes, people seem to think that being offended is the same thing as being humorless. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many situations and circumstances where people might find themselves subject to the wrong kind of humor. For instance, a joke about a man who has had a girlfriend, but has since married another woman, or a joke about a man who claims he doesn’t know how his partner sleeps (but does anyway), is probably not going to be deemed as “bigoted” by those who deem themselves very keen on keeping gay jokes illegal. But this same logic applies when it comes to the use of “lesbian jokes”.
When it comes to lesbian jokes, they tend to be much more widely misunderstood. A lot of people seem to think that any “dick jokes” you hear at a comedy club are automatically going to be offensive to you. Conversely, a same-sex couple might not find any kind of humourous event that could be considered offensive, but someone who doesn’t identify as gay will. This is why a lot of sitcoms have lesbian characters – to make it easier for the audience to understand what the characters are thinking. However, this kind of sitcom would not be so successful if there was no story, and jokes were simply used as a cheap way of lampooning the characters.
It’s a good thing then that there are now many TV channels that aim to entertain everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. A lot of modern sitcoms now feature multiracial couples, and the writers are well aware that there are many gay people out there who would appreciate the entertainment. The writers of these shows realize that being a comedian is a way of taking the concerns of a larger part of the population and addressing them, which is a much better approach than simply making fun of gay people. By making gay jokes, the sitcom becomes more appealing to a wider audience.
Some of the best gay jokes are those that poke fun at the insecurities that some gay people feel. After all, who wants to be lumped into a category with the “weirdos” of the world? Most popular comedians make it a point to work with popular themes and jokes in order to appeal to a larger audience. Many of today’s finest gay jokes are funny, intelligent, and, yes, even offensive at times.
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