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Homosexuality in Urban Legends

Male homosexuals—but so far not females—are the subjects of a few negative urban rumors and legends, just as they are targeted in countless denigrating jokes, rhymes, and quips found in modern tradition. Two well-known stories of the 1980s and 1990s constitute the major antihomosexual legends circulating; these are the accounts of “gerbiling,” which describe a supposed cruel and exotic practice of gay men, and “The Gay Roommate,” in which a gay man sexually assaults his heterosexual roommate in a college dormitory. A third urban legend involving homosexuality—“The Gay-Jesus Film Petition”—provoked  international protests in the early 1980s before it was established that no such film project existed.


Gay men are sometimes blamed for crimes and other outrages in urban legends that otherwise have no essential homosexual content. For example, in “The Mutilated Child” story, those who perpetrate the atrocity may be described as homosexuals rather than the more common gangsters or members of a racial minority. Legends about disgruntled employees of a pizza-delivery company masturbating onto the food before it is delivered sometimes specify that the act was that of a homosexual employee who was being harassed or fired for his lifestyle. Male celebrities, especially young and handsome ones, are sometimes rumored to be homosexual and may become the targets of rumors and legends such as these. However, in legends about the AIDS epidemic, which does in reality involve many homosexuals, the focus is almost entirely on the possibilities of heterosexual transmission.

Besides these examples of urban lore directed against them, gay men themselves tell urban legends (as well as many jokes) that depict or comment on their lives. One example tells of an airline employee whose last name happens to be Gay; he is traveling on a company pass, using an empty seat on a flight. During loading it is found that his seat is actually needed for a paying passenger, so a flight attendant looks for the employee, asking a man, “Are you Gay?” But she has the wrong seat and the wrong man (it is not Mr. Gay) and also the right man (she picks a passenger who happens himself to be gay). Overhearing the flight attendant asking him to leave, the real Mr. Gay speaks up: “No, I’m Gay; I’ll get off.” Whereupon two other men in the airplane speak up, saying, “Well, we’re gay too, and you can’t throw us all off!”

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