Bob Smith (1958-2018) and The G&LR

Published in: July-August 2018 issue.


I CANNOT ADD much to Eddie Sarfaty’s lovely and moving tribute in our last issue to his friend Bob Smith, the comic performer and writer who died last January; but let me say a little something about Bob’s contributions to this magazine.

            I did know Bob personally (through Jaffe Cohen and the Funny Gay Males) and spent a couple of hilarious afternoons with him in Provincetown, but for me he was mostly a tall, dark, handsome guy on a stage, making people laugh. (For the record, his most famous joke went something like this: “I came out to my family on Thanksgiving by asking, ‘Mom, would you please pass the gravy to a homosexual?’” He later added the line: “So she passed it to my father.”)

            But back to Bob’s contributions to The G&LR, which came mostly in our early years, long before he was diagnosed with ALS. Way back in 1995, he and the late Mark O’Donnell co-authored a gag titled “Four Ways to Be Gay,” which consisted of a grid with four gay stereotypes—wholesome, militant activist, melodramatic, and repressed—and various critical moments in life, such as coming out and breaking up. In 2001 he wrote a feature article titled “The Birds as a Pre-Stonewall Parable,” a semi-serious piece that imagines what would happen if you substituted “the gays” for “the birds” in the Hitchcock classic.

            In 1998 he wrote a jokey “Guest Opinion” that holds up quite well, I think. One thing it highlights is that Bob was far from apolitical and sometimes used comedy to lampoon conservative bigotry. Let me reproduce the piece here so as to give the late, great Bob Smith the last word.


How to Spot a Gay Republican:

1.         Has a walk-in closet.

2.         Donates money to candidates who hate homosexuals bcause they think it breaks down the stereotype that all Republicans are good businessmen.

3.         Believes that the universal symbol for homosexuals should be a white square instead of a pink triangle.

4.         Is against a five-day waiting period to buy anything.

5.         Has seen everything that the National Endowment for the Arts should be abolished for having funded.

6.         Is in favor of gays in the military because he knows that if he was ever drafted he could pull some strings and get out of it.

7.         Thinks an “environmental problem” is lack of air conditioning.

8.         Doesn’t like being called “gay”; prefers “Sodom-American.”

9.         Celebrates Halloween by dressing up as J. Edgar Hoover.

10.       Always comes first.