Is ‘Key and Peele’s’ New Gay Marriage Sketch an Interrogation of Identity Assumptions or a Big “No Homo”?

As Comedy Central readies for the July 8 premiere of Key and Peele‘s new season, the network has released a very topical sketch: Keegan-Michael Key plays a Michigan congressman who’s emphasizing how he cares about everyone during a town hall meeting that’s being recorded and broadcast by C-SPAN — whether they’re young, old, Asian, Hispanic, straight, or gay. 

On each of these classifying words, the fictionalized C-SPAN selects someone representing that particular demographic to cut to. On “gay,” the cameraman cuts to Jordan Peele, who’s in attendance at the meeting and suddenly realizes that he’s been selected as the face of gayness. As the Congressman continues a speech about marriage equality (the sketch was obviously made before last Friday) — “gays are people too” — the camera bears down on Peele, who makes many attempts to dodge its assumption-making gaze, one of which includes putting his arm around the female stranger next to him.

The sketch interestingly satirizes the absurdity of such news programming’s hasty judgments on identity. This aspect of it is hilarious, but the humor simultaneously reads as a bit gay panic-y in the character’s attempt to literally hide in seeming horror from being labeled a”gay.”

On the flip side, it smartly evinces the discomfort surrounding notions of how the media should cover sexual identity. Sexuality is something that many see as private until it’s publicized on one’s own terms — though the media often attempts to depict it as being as visibly apparent as identities like race or age (which, themselves, are also at times far harder to pinpoint than the media might like to think).

Watch the perplexingly smart yet perhaps also cheaply “no homo”-y clip below: