Rick Perry's "Strong" Ad and Queer Desire:
Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry's latest online ad, titled "Strong," has been much-maligned by the Left without actually understanding it. For what the video actually reveals is deep, unfulfilled queer desire within Perry, a latency that is rendered explicit in Perry's words and actions throughout "Strong."
The first line Perry speaks is the crude giveaway of his true intention. "I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country," he says as Aaron Copland-esque music surges and falls under him. The pun here is clear. "I'm a Christian but/butt" is Perry offering us his complex, repressed identity. He is a Christian, but his "butt" is still a focal point of his manhood. And his admonition "you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday," with its play on the word "pew," is clearly a demonstration that he does not believe in promiscuity, but he does desire anal sex.
In the most misread line of the video, Perry says, "[T]here's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." You'll notice that Perry does not actually say that gays should not be allowed to serve openly in the military (or, to continue a trope from above, at least in a military "butt"). Continuing with his self-identification as a homosexual Christian male, he merely believes that, in addition to the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, religion should be allowed in public schools.
Further indications are made through Perry's presence and actions in "Strong." As others have pointed out, the Governor is wearing the same jacket as Heath Ledger's character in Brokeback Mountain. Ledger's Ennis was the proverbial "top" in the relationship with Jake Gyllenhall's Jack, and Perry, cloaked in the garments of a fictional gay cowboy, indicates his status when he says, "Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again." He makes a fist and slightly thrusts it forward, offering himself for rough gay male sex. The camera stays coyly just above his crotch so that we may not see whether or not his own words are making him aroused.
Finally, the setting itself is rife with connotations. He is climbing a hill with a river running by it, placing himself in a cleft, a clearing in the forest. The forest is a common setting for gay pornography, so the association is clear: the Governor of Texas wishes to enjoy the pleasures of intercourse with another man in the middle of the woods.
Obviously, "Strong" is a campaign ad meant to appeal to conservatives. But the subtext is an appeal to another voter: the confused Republican who wants to reconcile his religious beliefs with his sexual desires. Perry should be applauded for, in a just-barely coded way, reaching out to this demographic and offering them his empathy and his eager fist. We should be glad that he has revealed this about himself.
For, indeed, perhaps, in response to how badly Rick Perry wants gay sex, one might answer, "He can blow me."