FM 102.3 WBAB and the fifth-grade version of myself have two things in common. No. 1: We think Led Zeppelin is a good band. No. 2: We think “gay” is a synonym for bad, lame, unmanly, etc.
The Long Island-based rock station airs a weekly morning show segment called “Gay Court,” in which the lovable everyman duo of shock jockeys, Roger & J.P., assess the apparent “gayness” of such things as wrestling tournaments or sharing a spoon with your buddy.
They have innocuous intentions -- program director Chris Lloyd tells me the show is geared toward an audience with the sort of blue-collar machismo that would make posting a selfie on Facebook with a new Ford F-150 seem cool. But this out-of-date comedic punchline should take a number from Dave Chappelle and get off the air.
Chappelle quit his eponymous Comedy Central show in 2005, telling Time magazine he felt the program’s racial overtones had deafened his message of inclusion. A skit in which Chappelle played a black pixie urging black people to perpetuate Jim Crow-esque stereotypes drew too-hardy a chuckle from a white spectator on set, the comic said. “When he laughed it made me feel uncomfortable,” he told Time, and said it was then that he decided to leave the funny business for a while.
What “Gay Court” does is actually more nefarious.
Radio segments that deem a man “guilty” of being gay for daring to reuse his friend’s spoon, thereby swapping spit, are not only inane, they cultivate a fear in young boys that anything that hints at homosexual intimacy is something to highlight and admonish. That's disgusting.
“It has no connection to sexual orientation,” Lloyd tells me over the phone, which confuses me, because it has everything to do with sexual orientation.
Look how the station advertises for listener submissions:
“Did your buddy want you to ride on the back of his motorcycle to the concert? Was one of your friends ‘that’ guy wearing the Speedo on Jones Beach? These are just a few of the thought-provoking issues that we resolve in Gay Court.”
I think of Mark Carson, the 32-year-old man who was killed last week when he was shot in the face at point-blank range for no other reason than that he was gay. “Look at you faggots,” the alleged killer said. “You look like gay wrestlers.”
There have been at least 22 homophobic assaults this year, so far. That’s up from 13 at the same time last year. Even as gay marriage is gaining legal and social acceptance, and Hollywood sells the masses on the normalcy of homosexuality with shows like “Modern Family” and “Six Feet Under,” a person can be killed in New York City, of all places, for being gay.
“We want to entertain people, want to have a good time, we want to play music, give traffic updates,” Lloyd says. “We want to be a good citizen in the community.”
Here’s a tip for accomplishing the latter: Grow up.