Yesterday, in my lamenting, I mentioned that garden magazines were filled with the gardening success stories of wealthy women and gay couples. This statement stems from a joke that my mother and I have on the subject in that there must be a law that says a gardening magazine cannot be published unless it has a story about the garden of a woman who must wealthy because she always left her job to work on her garden or a story about a gay couple’s garden.
But while I may joke about it, I have always been fascinated and a bit proud about the total acceptance that the gardening media has for the homosexual community. I have been avidly reading gardening magazines and watching gardening shows for ten years, and passively doing so for many years before that. For as long as I can remember, gays have been totally and , more importantly, casually accepted.
Stories about gay couples and their beautiful gardens are common in gardening media and the producers of these stories are never coy about the relationship of the garden owners. The stories never come right out and say “These people are homosexuals!” but neither do they try to mask the relationship with words like “roommates” or “friends“. The couples are normally referred to as a “partners” and in the same sense and context that you would refer to a “husband” or “wife”. There is no lauding or apologizing for the fact that the couple is gay. It is a fact and a casual one at that.
I think this causal referencing is the part that is so important. Many other genres of media would be tempted to play up the homosexual aspect to show how progressive they are. Other genres would throw in a line or two, at the very least, applauding the couple for being gay. I am sure this makes the media feel very good about themselves, but the fact is that most gay couples really don’t want to be applauded for being gay. They would rather that the challenges that go with being gay were gone so that it was no longer a comment worthy fact of their life.
They simply want to be who they are and would much rather that you applaud them for what they do, like grow a beautiful garden. And gardening medias do just that.
I can not think of another industry that treats gays in the same way. Even the entertainment industry, a long held bastion for gays, still inflates with shock or pride in media references to the homosexual status of one of their own. Gay actors cannot be seen publicly with their partners without some great tado about the whole thing.
I often wonder if what seems like an extraordinary number of stories about gay couples and their gardens in gardening media is not actually the normal balance of the world. Perhaps it is just that this is the only genre that reports on what the subject is rather than the politics surrounding it.