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Why Celebrating ‘Goldstar’ Gays Is Problematic

On Sunday night, giggle twins and New Year’s Eve hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper came together on Watch What Happens Live with Kim Zolciak-Biermann to remind us all how close they are and what they’re like in bed.

During a segment where the RHOA star asked them both questions, Cooper and Cohen revealed that Cooper has a higher freak number in bed and that Cohen would do police officer role play. But, when Zolciak-Biermann asked what age they lost their virginity, rather than offering a year, Cohen said, “I’m a gold star.”

Cohen has spoken about himself as a “gold star” gay man before. According to Cohen, the term means a gay man who has never slept with a woman before. Which, I guess, he thinks is an accomplishment, which gold stars usually connote.

Cohen also didn’t name an age when he first had sex with a man, which may mean that he thinks that virginity only counts for heterosexuals?

There are more than a few problems with “gold star gay” and it needs to be removed from the collective lexicon.

The term “gold star gay” is misogynistic, homophobic, and transmisogynistic. If, by “gold star gay,” Cohen means he has never slept with a female-identified person, then what about that is an accomplishment? Cohen often chastises Bravo’s housewives for their homophobic tendency to refer to gay men as accessories, but Cohen fails to examine his own misogyny for referring to women as barriers between gay men and “gold star” status.

To posit that a “gold star gay” is someone who hasn’t had sex with a woman-identified person makes homosexuality as fragile as masculinity. When we talk about fragile masculinity, we often talk about the many ways that stepping outside of one “idea” of masculinity means that you’ve violated it and that you are, by rule of opposites, feminine.If gay identity means sex exclusively, one’s entire life, with only one gender, and stepping outside that invalidates one’s gay identity, then gay identity is fragile AF.

And finally, the term is also dismissive of the trans experience. If Cohen is saying that having sex with women makes you a “silver” or “bronze” gay, then what happens if you sleep with someone who was assigned female at birth, but identified as male at the time. If Cohen is saying that putting one’s penis inside a vagina means you’re not a “gold star” gay, then what about men who sleep with trans men?

The thing is, there’s not actually a right answer to any of these questions because the premise is false. We shouldn’t be finding more and more explanations as to what a “gold star gay” is. We should be trying to dump the term in the trash.


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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