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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


posted by on January 29 at 14:45 PM

The New Yorker is running a contest to find a thoroughly 2008 Eustace Tilly.


Eustace Tilly, of course, is the dandy/mascot who appeared on the cover of the first issue of the New Yorker in 1924, shown above, and Tilly’s appeared on the cover at regular intervals ever since. Here are the contest submissions so far. Andrew Sullivan has been posting some of the entrants to his widely, wildly, crazily, ginormously influential blog. Like this buff, urban, presumably heterosexual Eustace:


Well today Sullivan posted a link to what Sullivan is calling the “gay Eustace”…


And of Gay Eustace, Sullivan has this to say…

Suspended between the past and the future, like the rest of us.

Hmph. Any fool can see what Sullivan means by that crack: Gay Eustace, in his leather vest, cap, arm bands, gloves, and dog collar, looks down his nose at a gold band. Gay Eustace contemplates the wedding ring and the future it represents, a future characterized by family and commitment. The leather gear Gay Eustice wears, of course, represents a past characterized by promiscuity and sexual excess. When Sullivan asserts that Gay Eustace is suspended between the past and the future, between the wedding band and the leather gear, he is arguing that commitment and dog collars are mutually exclusive. To move into the former you must, Sullivan would have us believe, unbuckle the latter.

That is not the case. A man, gay or straight, can wear a wedding band and enjoy all it symbolizes—commitment, stability, family—and wear the fetishized skins of dead animals if that appeals to him. In fact, we should encourage him to do so.

If we want to strengthen the institution of marriage—and that is what all in the gay family values movement want (although I’m starting to have my doubts about Mr. Sullivan)—we must fight with every tool at our disposal the pernicious notion that marriage, by definition, must always and everywhere signify the death of sexual experimentation and adventure. A man, gay or straight, can be married and trot about Manhattan in a dog collar, if it pleases him and his spouse. And he should be able to do without the depth or sincerity of his commitment being called into question. Just as we don’t presume that a man wearing a wedding band is incapable of adultery, Mr. Sullivan, we shouldn’t presume that man in a leather vest is incapable of commitment.

Sexual dissatisfaction and boredom are frequently cited by divorcing couples as a factors in their decision to split up. If we wish to stem the tide of divorce, Mr. Sullivan, we should not promote the idea that life presents us with an either/or choice between wedding bands and leather outfits in appallingly bad taste. We should make singles and couples, gay and straight, aware that they can have their commitments and their sexual adventures too.

Full disclosure: My boyfriend and I are going to IML this year.

RSS icon Comments


Wedding ring? I thought it was a really embarrassing cock ring.

If that second pic is the asswipe who tagged Kelly O's tree, send him over my way. I've got something in the back seat of my Tercel I'd like to show him.

Posted by Fnarf | January 29, 2008 2:48 PM

Can we kill the idea that fidelity = monogamy as well? I don't give a damn if my husband (safely) fucks every guy at RPlace so long as he snuggles with me at home afterwards and doesn't break date night on Mondays.

Posted by Gitai | January 29, 2008 2:53 PM

I too though it was a cockring

Posted by w7ngman | January 29, 2008 2:55 PM

Whatever happened to the bald guy staring up with glasses that used to be the dingbat at the end of Stranger columns? Back in the 20th century? Did he have a name?

(And you could have just said Sullivan is a tool without having to go on at such length.)

Posted by elenchos | January 29, 2008 2:55 PM

What the fuck is it with Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan anyway? I'm really tired of hearing about great Sullivan is. If I wanted to read pretentious pseudo-conservative drivel, I'd read Sound Politics. Jay-sus.

Posted by Jason E | January 29, 2008 3:02 PM

I want to go to IML this year.

Posted by monkey | January 29, 2008 3:06 PM

Andrew Sullivan is so old and SOOO 1998. Time to move on.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 29, 2008 3:12 PM

I'd say something.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 29, 2008 3:12 PM

Oh, one other thing: Leather USED to be hot but now with everyone trying to do it; well the distinctiveness is dead. Just look at the Cuff or the Eagle. Talk about "been there, done that".

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 29, 2008 3:16 PM

I thought it was a nipple ring.

Posted by skweetis | January 29, 2008 3:17 PM

well said. if they allow us to get married, i wouldn't do it if it meant boring sex for the rest of my life.

Posted by konstantConsumer | January 29, 2008 3:19 PM

It usually does, @11.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 29, 2008 3:24 PM

@2: Straight men are right there with you, guy. Well, that plus mandatory paternity testing, anyway.

Posted by Greg | January 29, 2008 3:24 PM


Posted by D3uc3NIKKLEtr3s | January 29, 2008 3:32 PM

It would seem Dan doesn't always hate on the heifers... so as long as he's wearing them.

Dan Savage: Leather Daddy!

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | January 29, 2008 3:33 PM

The original was already plenty gay... no need for the leather version

Posted by meks | January 29, 2008 3:38 PM

Straight female here, and that's totally not what I got from the pic/caption. I saw 'the past' as the YMCA-esque marginalisation/objectification/disenfranchisement of 'the gay lifestyle' (represented by the moustache and leathers etc), and 'the future' as enfranchisement (represented by the wedding ring).

I thought there was a lot of cool potential symbolism in the artwork too - the already-bound man looking askance at a straight symbol of eternal bondage; the look on his face suggests he knows that he's regarding a representation of some of both the best and worst elements of human nature, and wondering if he really wants to be a part of it; I imagine him thinking to himself, 'Ultimately, we're both just symbols of something. The truth, perhaps, lies somewhere else.'

Posted by Natalie | January 29, 2008 3:38 PM

I don't know who Andrew Sullivan is.

Anyway, the tabloid version was the most accurate 2008 version. Celebrity journalism is much stronger than it has ever been. Celebrities in the '70s had affairs, did drugs, went to the grocery store and on vacation, but it was never documented with such fervor as now. It's like there was no news in 2007 except for celebrity news.

Posted by me | January 29, 2008 3:54 PM

Well there, Natalie Anne, you may be straight, but no straight guy is gonna touch your weirdo ass with a ten-foot pole. Purple hat for you, whacko.

Posted by Jeepers, Creepers | January 29, 2008 3:55 PM

@19: Does your parole officer know that you're using the internet?

Posted by Greg | January 29, 2008 4:00 PM

andrew sullivan is the gay guy who made savage feel brave about supporting the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of the USA

Posted by bing | January 29, 2008 4:01 PM

andrew sullivan is the gay guy who made dan savage feel brave about supporting the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of the USA

Posted by bing | January 29, 2008 4:01 PM

As a straight dude - I was pretty much with Natalie at @19. But you know, without so much "ism"-ness.

Posted by John Galt | January 29, 2008 4:03 PM

I'm with skweetis @10. I thought it was a nipple ring. The past is the nipple ring, the future is the leathers and a leather guy looking to the past as nipple ring? Maybe its stating that piercing is dead.

Posted by TheMisanthrope | January 29, 2008 4:04 PM

I'm far too worried about Britney Spears and Sean Young to bother having to make a pithy comment about this.

Besides, the New Yorker has been in suck mode since Mr Shawn died.

Posted by michael strangeways | January 29, 2008 4:05 PM

Leave Sean Young alone!

(breaks down sobbing)

Posted by a certain person on YouTube | January 29, 2008 4:11 PM

andrew sullivan is a hot bear. i get natalie's take, but have to go with dan on the over-simplified fetishism/prosmiscuity vs. monogamy/institution interpretation.

Posted by Judith | January 29, 2008 4:21 PM

Sean Young. Yeah. I'd do her. Fuck, I'd do Brit, Lindsay, and just about anything with a hole. I'm a guy, I'm easy.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | January 29, 2008 4:26 PM

Why does a classic need "upgrading?"

Eustice has served well for a century. Let him go on in his fine dandy manner.

Posted by Wolf | January 29, 2008 4:40 PM

Gitai #2 "I don't give a damn if my husband (safely) fucks every guy at RPlace so long as he snuggles with me at home...". Hope you enjoy the crabs he brings home to snuggle with you too. They don't care about monogamy either.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | January 29, 2008 4:48 PM

@11: Marriage only means boring sex if you marry the wrong person. The right person = more fun than a barrel of reasonably-monagamous monkeys.

Posted by Jessica | January 29, 2008 5:19 PM

I don't know what is up with all you Sullivan-haters. Sure, he has his share of dumb comments, as does Mr. Savage, but come on, can't you appreciate another person's perspective? Someone being willing to admit fault and to change their mind is a great thing. I hate to be all Pollyanna, but can't we just accept that there are people with different opinions and, regardless of whether or not we agree, we should respect people for at least trying. Even if they spend most of their time trying?

I mean, the only reason ECB keep hammering away at Barack and touting Hillary is that she knows the treatment she'll receive for switching canidates is worse than the treatment she gets now for her incessant, blind support of Hillary. She like a closet homo. She wants to support Obama, but can't see herself as part of the Obama crowd.

Posted by Adam | January 29, 2008 5:20 PM

Oh, come on. Sulliuvan may be "hot-or-not" but his boyfriend is a definite hottie.

Posted by Wolf | January 29, 2008 5:23 PM

Hey that's my sister's art! (the graffiti artist with the tattoo). Somebody say something nice about it for her to read...

Posted by kathryn rathke | January 29, 2008 6:25 PM

That was one of my favorite ones from the contest. Your sister must be cool. My sister is in jail.

Posted by Senior Kubiak | January 29, 2008 6:29 PM

re. the leather man with a ring ... did anyone else notice the pink "cloud" in the background? looks like a pink penis or buttplug to me. just sayin'.

Posted by grace | January 29, 2008 6:54 PM

The original drawing looks exactly like John Barrymore in the silent version of "Beau Brummel" that is on TCM right now. There's a shot of him peering through the monocle, and the costume is dead on. The movie and the magazine cover are from the same year...

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | January 29, 2008 6:59 PM

Dan, I tuned out Sullivan many years ago, even before the interblog tubes took off. What irked me about him was not whether he thought that leathermen could or couldn't be responsible married people (I don't recall whether he had an opinion on that) but just his whole, "Oh! Not in front of the normal hetero people! What will they think? It will set back practical political gains!" attitude.

Even if he does, er, maybe have a little bit of a point.

It kinda reminds me of a time when black Americans worried a lot about what white people thought, and feared that if they goofed up, racist white people would make conclusions about an entire people based on that mistake, so they worked hard to surpass/defy/crush those idiots' low expectations, etc etc.

(And I'm sure plenty of folks are still working both sides of that one... but there are also some folks who aren't worrying about that kind of thing anymore, even though the older black folks (civil rights era, say?) may have had a little bit of a point. One strategy for progress in a sadly unfair world.

But I tend to side with those folks who'll do the leather parade if they feel like it, wear cornrows if they feel like it, etc etc. Those who are going to go to town with their homophobia and racism, well, they have the problem, and they need to figure that out on their own time, until then, why can't folks be free?

My guess is that that's the side you're on, Dan. Free to be you and me, and freaky as can be...

Oh, and speaking of freedom, if we decide to bow and scrape and genuflect to the socially conservative folks with excess tension of the bunghole (much like Dinesh D'Souza would have us do re. the Islamic world) - hey, wait a minute, isn't that putting them in charge of our freedom? Why on earth would we want to start trying to appease these folks who'll never meet us halfway?

(insert grumbles about Clintons here)

Posted by CP | January 29, 2008 9:18 PM

I'm more concerned with Sullivan's cavalier "Post-AIDS" bullshit where everything is ok thanks to protease inhibitors. It's a dangerous attitude.

I personally prefer Michaelangelo Signorile.

I just don't get the appeal of leather and cockrings. What is so great about it? Personally, nothing turns me off quicker than seeing a guy in leather or wearing a cockring.

Posted by brandon h | January 29, 2008 11:40 PM

The "gay" Eustace makes me feel as if I'm not gay. It does not represent me or my lifestyle. I'm not against the leather scene; its just not my thing.

Posted by MrEdCT | January 30, 2008 4:37 AM

For all of Mr. Sullivan's "post AIDS" pronouncements heralding 1996 as the end of the "Crisis" portion of the AIDS pandemic, my first thought the last time I saw him on Real Time w/ Bill Maher was that Andrew was looking a little bit drawn or "AIDS-y".

Perhaps Mr. Sullivan should champion the year that Restylane was introduced rather than the way he does the "cocktail" as the year AIDS stopped being such a tedious bother...

Posted by harbrian9 | January 30, 2008 5:29 AM

For all of Mr. Sullivan's "post AIDS" pronouncements heralding 1996 as the end of the "Crisis" portion of the AIDS pandemic, my first thought the last time I saw him on Real Time w/ Bill Maher was that Andrew was looking a little bit drawn or "AIDS-y".

Perhaps Mr. Sullivan should champion the year that Restylane was introduced rather than the way he does the "cocktail" as the year AIDS stopped being such a tedious bother...

Posted by harbrian9 | January 30, 2008 5:29 AM

Sullivan has the ability to reason and the intelligence to back it up..yet he seems to fall so short sometimes.

I still think his eagerness for marriage and gays to live the heterosexual lifestyle has more to do with a self-loathing of his own behavior which he probably blames as the reason he contracted HIV. It's depressing really.

But in the academic community he's pretty much a joke among the scholars he would like to be considered an equal. Here at the Univ. of Chicago just the mention of his name in the social sciences brings a chuckle as everyone knows him as a huge hypocrite. Had to read him at UW too so that we could see the hypocrisy.

Posted by Hunter | January 30, 2008 5:31 AM

Sullivan's post reminds me of what is so damn annoying about him. He's been a total condescending school marm about gay marriage ever the 1980s when he started talking about it. This in spite of his personal life as well.

Posted by Richard | January 30, 2008 7:39 AM

Leather is gay.

Posted by UAFA NOW | January 30, 2008 8:40 AM

Oooh... the academic community dislikes Sullivan. I'm sure he's losing sleep over that.

Posted by Dan Savage | January 30, 2008 8:53 AM


I thought the very, very purple prose and the flaming header were big enough tips that i was feigning high dudgeon (dungeon?) -- not to mention a 500+ word post responding to Andrew's 12 word post -- and it would be clear that i wasn't seriously upset with Andrew about his post. If those clues weren't enough... surely the gratuitous "full disclosure: me and the BF going to IML" at the end would signal my humorous intent. I mean, come on!

Honestly, I was pretending to be Jonah Goldberg -- flying off the handle, etc., tossing Andrew out of our "movement" (Jonah is always tossing Andrew out of the conservative movement and so I tossed Andrew out of the gay family values movement... which doesn't actually exist, of course, as opposed to the gay marriage movement, which does). As if that were within my power.

I wasn't, as some would have it, taking on Sullivan over this. Tweaking him, humorously, and as a pal, for that post. But not going after him hammer and tongs. I don't tiresome, knee-jerk Sullivan bashers out there to think i'm on their side. I think Andrew is smart and I'm a big fan of his blog, his books, and his brain. (And, yes, he's been wrong about some stuff -- as have I, as have you, as have the odd academic -- and we don't agree about everything.) Andrew is one of the best and most effective advocates we have for gay equality and same-sex marriage (right up there with Evan Wolfson). I'm not thrilled that folks who hate Andrew assume, missing the clearly comic tone of this one post, that i'm bashing Sullivan too. Teasing, not bashing.

And Andrew's end of the AIDS crisis piece in NYT mag in '96? Terrificly moving, prescient, and more spot-on than anything gay academics have ever produced.

Posted by Dan Savage | January 30, 2008 9:20 AM

I'm sorry, but if you are that buff and have a tattoo of Eustace on your shoulder, then I don't think you qualify as "presumably heterosexual".

Posted by Graffiti Queen | January 30, 2008 11:00 AM

Sullivan's views (political and social) are merely outgrowths of his own self-loathing on a variety of levels. It's quite evident in his past support of Bush and his present hatred of Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband. His past sexual escapades and his present pro-marriage stance and affectation as a conservative. Mainly it all boils down to his internalized homophobia and fear of anything that might be perceived as being a sissy.

Posted by nolatab | January 30, 2008 11:46 AM

Dan, I suspect Andrew would enjoy a good tossing from you...

Posted by BobN | January 30, 2008 12:09 PM

sorry, dan.. i seem to have missed the humor in your piece since what you said is completely true.
why should my commitment to my partner prevent me from expressing myself sexually in whichever manner suits me ? and andrew seems to have taken his usual offence at any perceived criticism and has pointed out that he actually believes in BOTH sides of the issue and blames any misunderstanding on editing... sigh. in his classic, single-minded style, he sees all things gay through his "post-gay"-colored glasses in the hope that soon all gay people's lives will be as dreary as his own. it says a lot that he doesn't see the muscled tagger as being "gay" but that the skinny, leathered fellow most certainly must be. i too have been a fan of much of his writings for many, many years but, of late, he's become a gratingly prissy nag to anyone who isn't in full agreement with his views. it's little wonder that his site doesn not allow for comments. i'm so appreciative of the fact that yours does.

Posted by el polacko | January 30, 2008 12:15 PM

" I think Andrew is smart and I'm a big fan of his blog, his books, and his brain. (And, yes, he's been wrong about some stuff -- as have I, as have you, as have the odd academic -- and we don't agree about everything.) "

ditto. I'm not really syre I could dream up another pundit/blogger that really rivals him. His capture of the whole concept of an enlightened conservative skepticism, as opposed to either nihilism or its opposite pole fundamentalism in his new book is just brilliant.

Posted by Sully Reader | January 30, 2008 2:32 PM

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