Having celebrity status comes with a number of blessings (whether it’s deserved or not is a whole different issue). One of the more valuable perks of being in the public’s eye, in our estimation, is that your opinions and views on subjects have more weight and reach a much larger number of people than those of the average person. While this can be great if you have a particular cause you want to promote, the downside to this perk is that when you put your foot in your mouth, what can seem like the entire world will tune in to watch your attempts to extricate that bitter-tasting shoe. The Bachelor’s Juan Pablo Galavis knows what we’re talking about. He’s been dealing with the fallout from his January interview with The TV Page, in which the ex-professional soccer player expresses his belief that having a gay or bisexual man as the star of The Bachelor would not be a good idea, nor a “good example for kids.”
When further pressed to explain his view on the matter, Galavis wastes no time in making his disdain absolutely clear, saying: “there’s this thing about gay people… it seems to me, and I don’t know if I’m mistaken or not.. but they’re more ‘pervert’ in a sense. And to me the show would be… too hard to watch.” Woah. Wait just a hot minute. Gays are perverts? You’re already treading potentially-dangerous territory by commenting on a hot-button issue like homosexuality. But to throw in the p-word, a word loaded with more historical baggage than even the TSA could handle? How did that ever seem like an appropriate choice for whatever thought you were trying to put into words? When met with understandable backlash, Galavis released an apology on his Facebook page, claiming that since English isn’t his native language, his words got misconstrued. What he really meant to say, according to his apology, was that “gay people are more affectionate and intense and for a segment of the TV audience this would be too racy to accept.” Nice save, Galavis. If you ever decide to take up soccer again, you should definitely try out for the goalie position.
The right to personal opinions aside, what’s truly disturbing about Galavis’ statements is the downright hypocrisy and patriarchy they reek of. In his interview with The TV Page, he alludes to the traditional heteronormative family unit when he says that “people have their husband and wife and kids and that is how we are brought up.” Please, enlighten us: exactly what is so traditional about starring in a show where one man finds true love by starting potential relationships with twenty-seven different women? Throw in the fact that Galavis is father to a five-year-old daughter from a previous girlfriend (check the word girlfriend, not wife), and one would be hard-pressed to say there’s anything traditional about this man’s forays into family. (Note: we’d like to make clear that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a single parent or having alternative families – we’re just pointing out that his actions thus far don’t seem to match his traditional views on family.)
Even if we don’t fault him for the way he’s going about finding his wife-to-be, we can’t ignore his comments about the supposed penchant for public displays of (intense) affection he claims gays have. This is where the hypocrisy slaps us in the face like we owe it money. Exactly which show does he think he’s talking about, or participating on, for that matter? 7th Heaven? It doesn’t even take Galavis three complete episodes to jump into the swimming pool with some of the scantily-clad contestants, where he proceeds to introduce his tongue to their tonsils to the dismay of those poor participants who don’t get to experience that particular joy. If past iterations of The Bachelor can serve as any benchmark, that’s pretty tame – the sexualized antics that the participants will get up to are only going to get more intense as the season progresses. There’s no problem with that, assuming we don’t want to get into the topic of censorship; if viewers want to tune in and get their weekly fix of kissing and groping and other forms of foreplay, we say happy viewing. Don’t forget the popcorn. What is a problem is that Galavis, in essence, is saying that it’s fine for straight people to participate in gestures of affection on primetime television while it’s unacceptable and downright detrimental to society for gays to do the same thing. To claim that showing intense displays of affection is a phenomenon limited to gays when it’s something that human beings in general are prone to doing adds insult to a whole lot of injury. Incidentally, it also adds to stereotypes of promiscuity that gays experience in mainstream media, and to the gulf that still exists between the gay and straight communities. Of all the things that Galavis says in his interview and his apology, there’s only one thing we can find it within our consciences to agree with: you’re right, JP, you shouldn’t be letting your five-year-old daughter watch The Bachelor. Good call.
In a more perfect world, we wouldn’t have a celebrity in the national limelight chiming in on personal matters like sexuality and the definition of family. We wouldn’t have said celebrity enjoy an increase of viewers tuning in to his show after those comments were expressed. We also wouldn’t have a gay icon like former ‘N Sync member Lance Bass explaining Galavis’ homophobic comments away, blaming his attitude on the culture in which he grew up (and admitting that he still thinks the ex-soccer player to be cute). Until that day dawns, however, all we can say is this: congratulations, future Señora Galavis, whoever you turn out to be. You’re definitely scoring with this one.