Christopher Hines’s documentary The Butch Factor – as writer, director, producer, coeditor, DP, and narrator, it really is his – finally showed up from the library. Good concept (gay males and masculinity), perfectly reasonable execution, no goddamn captioning, even passable typography when you get right down to it.

Who are the people in this neighbourhood?

Jason Hefley

He works in “construction” in some way, though what we mostly see him doing is locking and unlocking compartments on his pickup truck.

Hefley in safety vest fiddling with something in his truck

“Being gay is a – or being attracted to men is a sexual preference” (emphasis added). Plays the flag football, which is “surprisingly physical,” though that might come as a surprise only to somebody expecting chess, tiddlywinks, Farmville, or macramé. “Maybe a little rough-and-tumble, a construction or blue-collar background.” Viable observation: “Before, I didn’t have any outlets and camaraderie-type experiences within the gay community.”

Has an “about-150-pound” boyfriend of ten years we never see, perhaps because he doesn’t suit the thesis (Hines’s or Hefley’s).

“I’m supposed to be this… dominant… man, and I’m still kind of hiding it.” (Where, exactly?) “What does that really say about me?”

Gay voice: No.

Vincent Calvarese

Calvarese in uniform inside jail, a two-storey ring of glass-fronted cells

One of two guests who read as having actually learned from a lifetime’s experience. Admits to having been scared shitless on the job – a prison guard in a Meloniless, Tergesenless Oz – for the first nine months. Suggests that on-the-job taunting from inmates has wounded him somewhat. Sure, you grow back stronger, according to legend, but aren’t you papering over something? Where’s the scar tissue?

Shown with presumed boyfriend two-thirds his size. Has a tough lesbian supervisor. (BigMuscle profile.)

Gay voice: No assibilation, but soft, gravelly, thoughtful. The kind of fellow where you feel bad if he has to yell.

Bil Yoelin

Plays the rugby. “I had to get over some of my heterophobia. I assumed the worst of a lot of these guys. I thought: As soon as they find out we’re a gay team, they’re gonna be like, ‘We’re outta here.’ ” They weren’t like that. “I think I had been conditioned for so long to think the straight world is not gonna like me if I’m honest.” The only way they’ll like you is if you’re honest.

Yoelin onstage at rugby event at bar

“I think it’s important for young gay guys to have that place where there’s camaraderie without it being about body image or dancing.” (You’ll love his vocal rendition of gay-bar house music!) “There’s something very masculine about hanging out, being raucous.”

Gay voice: Nil.

Trevor Hoppe

The other guest who learned from experience.

Hoppe in blazer, blue shirt, blond fauxhawk

He’s that underdiscussed gay type – the kind that looks a tad iced and frosted and wears structurally conventional men’s clothing (shirt, jacket) all of whose pieces are recherché. Just a bit too colourful and overdetermined. Brian Linehan was a classic Canadian example.

And boy, are you ever in trouble if you underestimate this type. If a sissy has learned he can’t afford to lose, this kind of sissy knows he can effortlessly win, so why bother? They’re weaker than any member of a flag-football team (they’ll need help humping that case of chablis downstairs), but they know more than you and they’re one step ahead at all times. Do not cross this type, who must be viewed as an ironclad reliable resource. They can handle anything, least of all you. (Woke up this morning missing a limb? Call one of these guys first.)

So many of the manlier guests on The Butch Factor have come to know nought but themselves. Hoppe has come to understand us. I sure hope he follows up on this observation: “The latest phase has been really trying to question the bitch inside me that I learned through high school as a defence mechanism that I carried with me into college…. I feel like many gay men don that mask as a way to prevent themselves from being hurt by others. And I think the unfortunate thing is that we then carry that into our communities and turn our ammunition on each other.”

This, of course, is the lesson of Daniel Harris, who explains in The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture that gay boys of certain generations revered film “divas” not because they wanted to become one but because those actresses, with the help of their gay Jewish screenwriters, always had the an acid quip at the ready with which to slay their tormentors.

Hines, therefore, has a perfect sequel available to him: The Bitch Factor. After he gets done with his other sequel, of course.

Word to the wise, though: “Feminist” does not mean “effeminate” and maybe a tad more care in word choice would be advisable.

Gay voice: Take a wild guess.

Wes Adams

Drives a truck for movie shoots. “My masculinity was never a problem with me.” Partner of “ten years” not shown. His complaint that there’s no one to talk to as a gay youth is now permanently negated by the Web and phonelines, but is a generational truism.

Adams by flagpole

Drag queens and nelly guys “didn’t take shit from anybody” because their effeminacy was right there out in the open. “I… could hide it.”

Gay voice: Nil.


  • H.T Bennett

  • Junior Buendia: “When I play in the straight leagues, we don’t hang out afterwards. We don’t go grab a burger afterwards.” (Suspicion: They do. Remember, straight people are so devious they’ll set up a fake prom just so you won’t show up at the real one)

  • Doug Komlenic

  • Frank Yanez

  • Softball players seemingly unable to avoid talking about being black: Kevin Reed, Marcus Nunn, Dalph Johnson

  • Jim Reed, husbear of chaotic tattooed rock ginger Alex Blevins; Reed didn’t really feel gay until he found the rugby

  • Heterosexualist ruggers Dave Allen, Eric Chinchilla (no relation)

  • Writer Dan Cullinane

  • David Aguilar has a snake and deltoid tattoos. And works out at the same gym as Calvarese, apparently. Ballet in his youth taught him “the structure, the repetitiveness, the security” necessary to work out well past the brick-shithouse point, a claim my esteemed colleague laughed at but one that I buy. I don’t know… do you do the dishes shirtless, or only when a camera crew has dropped by? At least he uses Macintosh

  • Sometimes-ill-dressed and ‑greasy gay intellectuals are trotted out for the party line. (Really: You’re being filmed for a movie. Put on a good shirt and wash your hair!) John Campbell, Keith Harris, Larry Gross, Peter Nardi. “Gregory Cason, psychologist”

  • Couple of sissies, one of them self-described (Mark Snyder), depicted with ⅞-scale Asiatic boyfriend unit Wing Poon. (Archetypal gay accents)

  • Musicians: Brent Calderwood (♡ ADORABLE  ♡), whose voice is like We, Like Sheep’s; the Ex-Boyfriends covering well-trod ground about gay rock

  • Cowboy Steven Daigle; rodeo transvestites James Jenkins, Steve Sublet

  • Tranny Jackson Bowman

  • A parade of bears, including Ron Wear, Bob Davis, Dave Smith, Kelly Stahr, Robert Gordon, Harry Lit, Brian Garrison, Cory Smith, Bob Gaynor, Rich McMurray, Allen Eggman, Steve Harris

Visible mike packs: Two.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jack Malebranche

His nom de plume is pronounced here as though the last E didn’t exist. Even “nerdy little IT guys,” he points out, get grandfathered a kind of masculinity just by being hetero. But as gays “become progressively involved in gay culture and they just move further and further away from what it means to be a man, they become unable to relate to other men, and I think that’s unhealthy.” (I don’t know… without altering anything whatsoever I seem to have no trouble talking to firemen, for example. Nonetheless, I agree in general.)

In gay culture, fixated as it is on what housewives would like, “it’s OK to be effeminate, but your masculinity is always going to be in question.” There’s no trend to centre gay culture around accomplishments and goals, he says.

It’s off-topic for the documentary, but the trick with Malebranche is separating the fragments one agrees with from his basic fascistic project, mere mention of which causes him to post not-at-all-bitchy drive-by rejoinders. I quite like his skin illustrations, though.

Malebranche assembling machinery, with scorpion tattoo on inner right forearm

Surely his “compadre” does too, so there’s a point of commonality right there. That wouldn’t stop him from putting me up against the wall after his rural militia takes over, of course. Or they him.

Gold medal for self-delusion

“LGBT” historian Don Romesburg seems to be unaware he’s lying to himself and the camera when he tells us that, upon coming out, “there’s this mandate to be more masculine.” There is no such thing! Every aspect of gay culture from soup to nuts accommodates and cultivates effeminacy. If such a mandate existed, The Butch Factor wouldn’t.

Romesburg also takes home the medal for use of the word “fluid” in reference to sexuality, gender, or what have you. (Somebody had to! That Brechtian pistol had to go off sometime.) And remember, your “gender expression” is a “performance.” If there weren’t so many cowboys in this movie, I’d point out that claim is like waving a red flag before a bull.

Special bonus feature!
Who hurts animals more?

The gay Republican cowboys, obviously.

Matt Laird (R.) explains (not in a gay voice) why he found himself attracted to partner James Loughrey (L., gay voice): “Just his values and morals and our mutual goals – what we want to do with our lives and what we think’s important. The kind of people we want around us and the kind of activities. And, you know, that we want to be in a monogamous relationship versus an open, that we value, you know, our horses and property.”

We then watch these two, and many other gay cowboys, lassoing cattle, bucking broncos, and engaging in the most manly possible ranch activity, stretching undergarments across the hindquarters of goats.


  • Soi-disant sissy Mark Snyder is elsewhere shown, in a childhood photo, cradling a chicken. (Other photos show him with a family dog and a ewe, if I have that right.)

    Snyder as boy in glasses with chicken
  • In his own childhood photo, Trevor Hoppe cuddles a puppy.

So hey, tough guys: Who might possibly be manlier? The fellow who tortures animals or the fellow who controls his urge to dominate and thereby coexists with or stewards animals?

Which of those would you prefer to spend time around? Which of these men could you live with yourself having spent time around?

Too pointed? I thought we were talking about “values and morals.” You mean we weren’t? We were just discussing warmed-over Republican values as espoused by men whose existence real Republicans consider a crime?

Also, memo to gay cowboys: The horse – always the last to know – has no idea you’re gay.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.10.13 14:29. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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