Divas vs. Hoots: Gay Icons Who Make Straight Men Uncomfortable

Gay Guy,

Thanks for the weekend tribute to Bea Arthur. And also for the not-so-long-ago tribute to Eartha Kitt. I agree with your assessment that these departed gay icons attained their status in some ways by being "
tough, sassy, and unafraid." Can I also add that they were, in some way, dominating and slightly mannish, as well as unlucky in love? Plus, they ALWAYS had a great back story (perfect for a one-woman-show).

In other words, they were quite a "hoot."

Not only were they funny, they were fabulous, but in some ways had never been fully accepted. I can see how a gay guy might identify with that.

Many older women fall into the "Hoot" category. Can't the whole "Golden Girls" phenomenon be classified that way? Young women don't seem to qualify, do they? Though I suppose Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho are well on their way. Britney and Lindsay are not Hoots, they are still hot messes, but they have long term Hoot potential.

I hate to break it to those women and the gays that adore them, but from out here in Straightsville, "Hoot" is not a compliment. Wasn't Bea Arthur the gold standard of unattractiveness to straight men? The metaphorical "last woman on earth" with whom we must be forced to procreate. Don't call me cruel... that was the core of her schtick!

I mentioned my "elevator test" in our Eartha Kitt post. Most Hoots would also flunk this test, in that I would NOT enjoy being trapped in an elevator with them. I assume that many gay guys would savor the chance to have Bea or Eartha's undivided attention for an hour or so. Not me. Yes, it's partly because they are intelligent, powerful, and intimidating women. But also because they somehow stand in judgment of us, the generic straight guys. Isn't part of the unlucky-in-love-routine that none of us men have ever really measured up? Been man enough to handle these ladies? Aren't we alw
ays just moments away from a withering put-down for being the dolts we naturally are?

Here's a short list of female gay icons who make straight men uncomfortable. It's a proud tradition dating back to Mae West, or further, what do I know?. I'm no expert on the icons themselves, just my uncomfortableness with them. I'll rate them on a Divaness and Hootability 5-star scale, as these criteria are core in determining how intimidating they are. And, correct me if I'm wrong, GG, to be a gay icon, it seems you need a bit of both.

Bea Arthur:
Diva: **

Hoot: ****

Extra hoot points for drag-queen mannishness.

Eartha Kitt:
Diva: *****

Hoot: ***

Very intimidating. Could convincingly deliver DeNiro's "Are you talking to ME?" monologue wearing a bedazzled turban and mink stole.

Dolly Parton:
Diva: ***

Hoot: ****

The exception proves the rule. Meets all criteria, but passes my elevator test. So sue me.

Diva: ****

Hoot: **

Low on Hoot score, because who (gay or straight) wants to listen to Cher for long periods of time? Still frightening, though.

Barbara Streisand:
Diva: *****
Hoot: ****

Ultimate diva. But hoot factor has risen in each decade.

Madame (of Wayland and Madame):
Diva: *****

Hoot: *****

The perfect storm of demanding divaness, one-woman-show hootability, and manishness out the wazoo (literally!).

--Straight Guy

Readers, let us know who's on your list, or whether I've gotten any of these completely wrong. Click "comments" below.


Straight in Upstate said...

I'm probably misunderstanding your criteria, but where does "effin' annoying" fit on that scale? I'm not intimidated by Cher, Babs or Kathy Griffin - I don't even deny their right to talk - I just don't want to be near them. That cancels any hoot potential for me. I'm not sure where mannishness fits in for me, don't think it's a factor. I'd offer up Reba McEntire as a Hoot = funny, talented, she seems fine with who she is and probably doesn't give a rat's ass if you don't like her accent 'cause she's sold more records than you.

Anonymous said...

Hey S.G., you forgot Bette Midler--especially in the early years . . .

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking Liza Minnelli and Joan Collins should be on the list...

Anonymous said...

Definitely Liza - new visitor here, what a wonderful and creative blog.


Gay Guy said...


Thanks for the comment. Welcome to the site. Please keep coming back.

Straight Guy said...

The list goes on, doesn't it? Bette, Liza, and Joan. I couldn't stand them for more than a few minutes. I'm sure. Anyone else?

Am I the only one who grew up in the 70s and had no idea what Madame was really all about, and just had the idea that something was naughtier than it seemed on Hollywood Squares and Solid Gold?

Heather said...

In honor of all these great divas and hoots, here is a story that NPR music just posted on Eartha Kitt. I haven't listened to it yet, but it looks like it is an interview, as well as her singing about 9 or so songs.


Gay Guy said...


Thanks for the news tip. I am a big Eartha Kitt fan.

Keep visiting us, reading, and posting!

Gay Guy / Straight Guy Archive