May 18, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 20
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Saturday, Jan 25, 2020



Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

"Cute," Izzy said, referring to the guy that just passed by on the sidewalk. I didn't think he was cute at all, but it's nice to have different tastes than your friends. From what I noticed of the guy Izzy rated, he had tiny, viciously plucked triangles for eyebrows, a huge belt buckle (behind which he tucked his shirt to show it off more prominently), sunglasses that covered most of his face, and hair that looked like a wig fresh off the shelf of the Capitol Hill Hipster Supply Store. I couldn't see anything but accessories and to me, that's never been very cute.

With Izzy and me, there are a couple of ways to define cute. There's the cute you get from sporting a $450 Gucci belt, working those $400 Prada glasses, picking the right add on's to your Mini, or talking on your Nokia N80 super cell phone. I call this "glamour cute," not because I've ever thought it very cute, but because plenty of people do. It's the sort of thing Izzy is always impressed by. Then there's the other more subtle type of cute, the cute without glitz and tassels. You might find it in an imperfect set of teeth unafraid to smile, in the excited energy a guy uses when he tells a terrible joke and then laughs hysterically, or in the carelessness of a hairdo just out of bed walking down the street. This is the cute I always prefer.

"Paris is always a catwalk," my boyfriend, Julien, complained when he arrived again in Paris. Having grown up in France, he's used to the non-stop Fashion Week of the city and he has grown tired of it. "It's like Japanese Kabuki theatre where you have to get all painted up to walk out your door."

I could sympathize with him; the few times I've been to Paris, I've never thought my shoes were colorful enough or un-scuffed enough to fit with the masses. When we ventured out dancing, I was floored by the sheer level of costuming that goes into a simple night out.

When I met Julien, I noticed right away how un-Parisian he was. He was welcoming and inviting, intelligent without being smug, level-headed and inspired, and more optimistic than anyone in the city I'd run into. He was an oasis of pleasant, simple cotton in a sea of frowning, "hand wash only" fiber. After a few months of increasing contact and interest, I was sold.

"Come on, you seem to do more than enough. Why bother?" I asked. For as much as I can tell, Julien has always kept up pretty well, buying new shoes every time I've seen him and a regular array of new jeans and shirts. I always thought his wardrobe far outpaced the quality of my own, but then I live in Seattle, where black and white striped socks worn with a Utilikilt and gothic boots is a-okay.

"Because you've got to do just enough to keep up," he answered. "Maybe not to compete, but to keep up at least."

That's it, isn't it? When it comes to how we present ourselves to the world, investing in the odd pair of nice dark jeans or splurging for the collared shirt, or just doing the little things like trimming nose hairs, it's really just about not being left behind and letting yourself go, ending up unpleasant to everyone. We all care a little bit as a matter of survival, surely, but it isn't the same as trying to keep up with the Glamour Pack. Eventually, we draw the line when we decide other things are worth our time, energy, attention, and money.

With the endless mantra of beauty and attraction drowning out all the other messages in the Gay community, where the attainment of perfection is its own powerful addiction, it is so easy to get caught up in the endless pursuit of "cute." It's a pursuit complicated by the fact that Gay folks already spend so much time trying to figure out who we are to begin with. I believe, though, that the folks who will always be the masters of cute will be the ones who haven't much need for all the bells and whistles, who have found peace in the balance between the perfections and imperfections they show to the world.

That cute, the cute attained by balance, seems to me to be the only cute worth a second glance at all.

Beau Burriola is a local writer looking for a new pair of low-flash, comfortable shoes. E-mail him at
visit Beau at

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