Gary & Karen


It’s been a common theme that the white middle-classes of the UK and America have, for many years, struggled to define themselves. The rich/elite and upper-classes have focused on their own lives, maintaining their status quo and living in their own little bubbles – rarely letting anyone in. The strong identity working-class have their own traditions and history, they embraced community, worked hard to change their lives and had strong family and religious foundations from which to draw. The middle-class have always suffered from ‘middle-child syndrome’ and this has never been more apparent than today.

For years, the majority just got on with life, dipping their toes in both the other classes but pulling back when they needed to. Unfortunately, a minority decided that they would not be the overlooked middle-child and they should get noticed, one way or another. They have strived to change the pecking order and struggled to be relevant.

We’ve all gone through different phases, whether punk, goth, anarchist, raver or hippy. These tended to be temporary fads for most. Those that stuck with their sub-cultures embraced them fully, choosing to make their lives work around that lifestyle – that is a valid way to live in a free society.

But there is always that minority who want to keep the party going. You know the type. When at 6am on a Sunday morning everyone is tired and even the host has gone to bed and people have either crashed or start negotiating with each other over who lives nearer to whom so they can split the taxi bills between them – there’s always a Sandra who managed to get a lift in but lived thirty quid further away than everybody else, who wanted to get in the cab with Steve but he lived in the opposite direction, hoping rather desperately that the twenty-two year old gym fanatic would find a forty-five year old cat-lover sexy and offer to let her stay at his (ah, but I digress).

There will always be one in the lounge who, after rifling through the CD collection, would produce some random Indy act and insist on mosh-pitting and jumping on the cushions on the floor. Every. Damned. Time. This little Indy queen couldn’t accept the party was over, wanted to lead a mob into town, despite all the clubs having closed in the vain hope of finding someone on minimum wage willing to stay up another seven hours after pulling a twelve-hour shift, just so they can tell people how amazing the new drink they’ve found was.

The Indy queen has never moved on emotionally or mentally. They may now be married, have kids, live in a low to medium-pressure job but their desire to continue a party that finished years ago still burns inside them. This mindset renders them unsettled as people around them move on with their lives, some travel, some dive into family life and never look back, others might set up their own business but to the Indy queen there is something about their lives so much better than theirs. No more apparent than in the 90s when gay culture burst into the mainstream. All those middle-aged office workers, HR Karens and “yummy mummies” found a whole new sub-culture previously alien to them – the exclusivity of the odd gay or lesbian character on their favourite soap. There they were, living it up with the young gay crowds, “fag-hagging” it all over canal street in Manchester and Soho in London. The middle-class white woman had arrived. Her own “yass queen” language with the gays, giving drag queens makeup advice, being able to do all the dance routines to Steps without fear of judgement – they were unstoppable. The straight men clocked onto this potential source of cheap easy lays by being open-minded and were rewarded with the drunk straight female friend of one of the gay guys and a sweaty half hour in a bus stop in Salford before seeing if their dealer was still awake.

Good times.

What happened next was a problem for the white middle-class. The gays and lesbians started to fully integrate, gone were the debauched nights out dancing to Kylie. Such nights were replaced by weekends away in the country – hotels embracing a whole new clientele they had not considered before. More nights out in less hostile straight venues and less time spent sniffing poppers in a toilet, and the balance was gone. What were they going to do?

The noughties saw an outbreak of middle-class women enthusiastically embracing anything that they could get their hands on to give their lives purpose and meaning; The Atkins Diet, Yoga, independent women refusing to have kids and instead focusing on their careers, metrosexual men and the demand for “me time” – to be slotted in somewhere between Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emmerdale, Sex in the City, the weekly girl’s night out and the resulting hangover the next morning. But this wasn’t enough – nothing ever is. They still did not have a culture, a personality, or any interest in what they were doing. Reality TV focused on posh people in Chelsea, airport staff or Scousers on a night out – there was no room for Karen from Surrey and her kale recipes. Her Facebook posts about Marbella (heavy emphasis on the “la”) got one or two likes and a friend commenting on how nice she looked in her two-sizes too small bikini she had shoehorned her way into causing distress to her husband and any passer-by unfortunate enough to be at an angle to accidentally see through the railings on the balcony.

It was an everyday struggle for them to keep the interest of people, made even harder by the invention of social media. This meant they just weren’t competing for attention from friends and colleagues, there was a whole world out there ignoring them and moving on with their lives without regard for anybody else. What was poor Karen to do? Accidentally posting a nip-slip on Facebook did not help. Poor Gary, always in the gym, suddenly finding all his friends were doing the same. The internet gave us a look into everybody’s lives and the small minority hated it. The claims of bisexuality started not long after, “Gosh, did you hear about Karen? She kissed a girl on that holiday you know?” To show how sensitive they were, horny blokes were confessing to girls how they found Zac Efron attractive in the hope it would magically increase the young victim’s heart rate enough that her crop top would ping off exposing two breasts he could then dive in to. The novelty lasted about a year before it became rather sad and desperate. The gay community tolerated a lot during these years as every celebrity eager to land a big TV or movie role tongued their way past other just-as-vacuous-and-fame-hungry whores as them.

Eventually, the Left gave these sorry people the answer – MORE LABELS! You didn’t just have to identify as bi, gay, lesbian or straight anymore…you could be pansexual, asexual or whatever other angle you could devise. This was great for Gary and Karen who suddenly became the centre of attention again. Gary could freely admit to wearing his girlfriend’s underwear as a legitimate clothing garment rather than a kink in the bedroom, Karen was able to ditch kale and mung beans as a personality and claim she was attracted to anybody – the fact it was always triggered by alcohol and deep-seated confidence issues was irrelevant as she’s now pansexual and screw the haters, which she probably did.

Then, Gary and Karen realised they could advance themselves in work as well online, that the promotion they didn’t stand a chance of getting was suddenly within reach. Film, TV and music stars realised they could get column inches for a vague definition of themselves – it was a bankable asset. It made them stand out, gave them the attention that they craved and cheapened the experience of anybody genuinely struggling with their own identity.

The side-effect of all this wasn’t apparent until recently. This new venture gave them a wider audience to force their views upon. It’s not enough that Gary and Karen got their promotions and are now incapable of doing the jobs they conned their way into, people are starting to notice. Why? Is it because the company’s performance affects everyone? No. Is it because a poor performing company will look for layoffs which typically affect those on the lower rungs? No. Is it because other people are having to sort the chaos out and pick up the slack? No. Is it because everyone else is bigoted and jealous? Yes! Of course, because it’s impossible to dislike someone as a person, it must be the lifestyle they talk about endlessly and try to crowbar into every conversation, what else could it be?

But this isn’t enough. Jealous enemies must be crushed, complaints must be made. Gary and Karen are so confident in their new lives as Gemini and Pansexual that they have to reiterate this to literally everyone, unless this is met with a lot of gushing praise, a round of applause and “gosh, you’re so stunning and brave” then they will assume you are hostile. Remember, not being interested is not an option – you will be happy for them, you will listen to how they conduct their sex lives without using their penis, you will cheer them on as they recount a heroic story of bravery and bullying as they tackled a “bigot” who forgot to call Gary “ma’am” in the newsagent last week after Gary, sorry Gemini, spent forty-five minutes in the shop talking loudly on their mobile to a friend about how empowering it is to be a woman now. Did I forget to mention that straight men can’t handle how much woman Gemini is…? The fact she’s built like a Sherman tank and crushed any poor sod she gyrated on in the nightclub toilet is irrelevant, she’s so much woman now.

In the meantime, the endless “confessions” and stunning and brave announcements will keep coming from more and more bland people who are desperate for meaning and validation in their lives. I’m not sure when this will end, if ever, but finding out someone’s pronouns is right up there with Marge and Jeff showing you their holiday slides of Butlins back in the day. Someone please stop the circus.