Monday, November 28, 2011

the Real Man Behind Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds. I merely say the name and gay men begin to salivate and my interview can end there. His pictures alone make gay men stand still; add a bathtub and some bubbles and we are all set. At least that's how my guest for this post got his idea for Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds along with his burnt Kraft Mac n' Cheese. Thomas, the man behind the ever so hot, yet thought provoking tongue-in-cheek photoblog, is not so hidden away as we thought. When I first saw his tumblr, I thought to myself, who is the smart man behind this blog (aside from being distracted by Ryan)? Exactly how many men, gay men, are out there that read Foucault, Deleuze, and Judith Butler...and make it look sexy? One.

Thomas McLean, brings you queer theory the best way he knows how, with Ryan Reynolds. He tackles issues of homophobia, biological determinists, and shows you how to rearrange Sarah Palin to read as anal parish. Part comedian, maybe due to his upbringing, he presents queer theory with a smack of bitchiness...because you know, as a gay man, which we are, that is the only way we know to respond to everyday occurrences, and bad outfits on the street. Take a stroll through Thomas' world of Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds (beware, Ryan Reynolds tends to come out and talk amidst the interview), have a good laugh, learn a little bit to have a REAL conversation while you sip martinis at the hottest new gay club while listening to the loud beats of We Found Love.

Interview with Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds

Boymeetsboyblog: People know you as the guy behind Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds,
I assume a guy (insert own queer theory here), but tell me a bit about yourself? Pretend this is a speed dating segment…go!

Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds: My name is Thomas McLean. I'm the sole creator of QSWRR. I'm 31 and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I have never taken a Queer Theory class, shockingly, though I do read quite a bit of it. I graduated with a degree in Psychology and Sociology at Oglethorpe University and obtained a Master of Science in Applied Statistics at Purdue University, which officially classifies me as a professional dork. I write short fiction and work at a non-profit (Big Brothers Big Sisters) because I want to spread the love as much as possible. I have a gay cat named Sampson. He is truly gay. He used to hump our neighbor's tomcat all the time. I also bake and have a 60% success rate in the kitchen. I tried to make gay brownies with pink triangle icing once and almost burned my house down. They truly were flaming brownies.

My mother was a stand up comedian and my father was an accountant. It really does explain everything. I came out in 9th grade in high school, took a guy to the prom (13 years ago), and graduated valedictorian. It kept life interesting.

BMBB: Why Ryan Reynolds for the face of your project? Granted he is hot, has a six-pack you want to rub your face on, and a pretty smile…how did he make the cut against all the other hot guys out there?

QSWRR: It all started, some years ago, when I watched the horrible remake of The Amityville Horror. I was so bored watching it that I was going back and forth to the TV, doing little odd chores here and there. One of those was making dinner - a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese, to be precise. I had made the mac and cheese, and returned to the living room to finish watching. A couple seconds later, I looked up and saw Ryan Reynolds in the bathtub. It wasn't that he was amazing hot - we all know he is - but the fact that he was in a bathtub, looking emo and sad and scared, was something that just convinced me of the following: I could use the power of Ryan and the bathtub to promote queer theory and gay rights. It's truly the perfect medium. This thought was immediately distracted as the entire bowl of mac and cheese  dumped into my lap. Ryan Reynolds made me forget about mac and cheese - a truly monolithic accomplishment. It is then that I realized that if you ever want to push an agenda, push it with a picture of Ryan in a bathtub. It will work for anything - except for, perhaps, anything coming out of the Tea Party's collective chocolate starfish.
BMBB: Does Ryan know about this project?

QSWRR: I wish. Maybe he does. Maybe he would love to discuss Foucault with me over coffee. Or while on a ferris wheel. Or on a yacht.

I should quickly say that I don't ever really crush on celebrities. I used to have a huge crush on the fat one from N*sync. Especially when he had red hair. It feels good to finally admit that. So Ryan is truly the second, maybe along with Joe Manganiello (Alcide from True Blood). 

BMBB: What made you come up with your project, Queer Studies with Ryan Reynolds?

QSWRR: The direct influence was the Feminist Ryan Gosling, which is still going strong. I then realized that there was a significant opportunity to do this with Queer Theory as well. With Ryan. In a bathtub.

BMBB: If you could describe gay culture in one ultimate queer theory, what would it be?

QSWRR: Here's the thing about gay culture that is hard to wrap your head around: We've barely scratched the surface of gay culture. There are so many different, unique gay people out there that sometimes I wonder if there ever truly is a gay culture. So I would say, in reference to queer theory, that everything is relative. The world would be a much different place if everyone awoke tomorrow and knew everyone who was gay, or bi, or trans, etc. The impact of any subculture - including that of gay culture - is never fully realized until every person who's played a part in that impact is known.  We have gay firefighters, gay accountants, gay sewer maintenance workers, gay bankers, gay clowns. We are everywhere yet are, in some instances, nowhere. We're not allowed into a full legal framework of rights. We're not allowed to have quiet funerals in some cases, due to hateful, spiteful bigots. There's so much we do, and our reach is so impactful, yet we never get to experience that impact sometimes. So it's also a paradox.

So, in essence: Queer theory is everything and nothing you think it is.

Questions for Ryan:

BMBB: How does Ryan view dating, relationships, and sex?

Ryan Reynolds: Hey Boi. Never date the biggest selling female rockstar of the 90s. I oughtta know.

Relationships are like a green lantern.  You shape them how you want to, but have to be careful of what you're getting into.

Sex is like eating cupcakes on a cloud with puppies.

BMBB: Is he frustrated with the idea of normalizing every type of relationship or mirroring heterosexual relations, or is he more into nonidentifying who and what he loves?

RR: Boi, I've been strictly with women, but I must say, the attention I get in green spandex is an honor.  You should never deny a possibility for love. 

BMBB: If Ryan could define his status as single, married, complicated, etc, what would it be? Why?

RR: Post-modernly entangled.  Because it sounds pretentious but really isn't.

BMBB: Does Ryan ever feel like he is living in a homonormative world instead? One that is constructed by the A-List, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. If so, how does he break free from these socially gay constructed ideas? Does he align with the ideology of Lady Gaga?

RR: Lady Gaga is an interesting one. Just this morning I was on my treadmill reading some Judith Butler and "Edge of Glory" came on and I decided to put on my Nyan cat costume I wore for Halloween and just gayed the whole place up, singing along. I guess you could say I align in a weird way.

The thing about a heteronormative world is that, boi, if we accept the assertion that gay identity is a thoroughly modern phenomenon, then so is heteronormativity as defined by self identity.  So both things are pretty new.

I've reached out and played a role of a gay man - I seemed to be naturally good at it - and of course, there are just so many things ingrained in certain cultural aspects that it's impossible not for them to be heteronormative in nature.

Breaking such social constructions is difficult but possible:  regular bouts of ankle tanning, organic oatmeal cookie eating, and making disparaging comments at the Radical Right all help to break the mold.

BMBB: What are Ryan Reynolds top 3 dating rules?

1.  Know the damn definition of 'ironic.'
2.  Respect the scruff
3.  Smile in the face of rejection.  Or throw a hardbound cover of Deluze and Guattari at the rejector.