Conde Nast’s Details isn’t officially a gay magazine, but it doesn’t shy away from its gay readership. The magazine, however, has a history of sometimes offending its gay readers. The “Gay or Asian?” controversy in 2004 was the most egregious example, until now perhaps.
The LGBT blog Queerty reports that the December 2009 print edition of Details contains an article titled “The Rise of the Douchefag” with a deck that reads as follows: “The fist-bumping, Bluetooth-wearing dude’s dude isn’t the only tool in the box. Meet the douchefag—a plucked, preened party boy who’s taken being gay to new depths of tackiness.”
The article goes on to compare and contrast examples of “Gay” and “Gay Douchebag” (yes, Douchebag, with a “b” and not an “f”). “Bleaches Teeth” is “Gay” and “Bleaches Anus” is “Gay Douchebag” and so on.
Project Runway designer Christian Siriano and his DJ boyfriend Brad Walsh are shown in the article as examples from the “Gay Douchebag” category. Walsh was none too pleased, saying on Twitter: “i don’t mind someone thinking i’m a douchebag or calling me gay. opinion and fact. but calling me ‘fag,’ even if OUT did it, is not right.”
Apparently Details was concerned enough about Walsh that it changed the title of the article for the online version to “Meet the Gay Douchebag” but the damage was done as far as Walsh was concerned. Queerty asked Walsh about the controversy and here’s an excerpt of his response:
“If OUT Magazine called me a fag I would be just as upset. It’s not appropriate, and it is offensive, and you’d think on the eve of 2010 that would be clear by now … But why call me ‘fag’ in the process? I know it’s a tired point nowadays, but really, imagine if they had done the exact same article about black people, and included a punny interpretation of the ‘N’ word. Would never ever have gone to print.”
Obviously, using epithets as epithets is a no-no. However, the unwritten rules about who can use a given epithet in a particular circumstance go on and on. In this instance, I agree that Details using “Douchefag” was wrong.