Sunday, August 5, 2007

GAY STUFF: The Mainstreaming of Gay Culture

Listen Here

(Because I need to take ownership of my own feelings, I will preface this by saying: I hate that I am on the part of the NYU prof who says "queer is the new gay," implicating that there are people that are trying to keep gay as different just because it is and no longer represents a separation from American culture. I have my own fear that, to reference another interviewee, I may be, or want to be, Will in Will & Grace).

I think it's fascinating, the sociological implications of marriage. Tucker Carlson (conservative commentator on CNN Headline News) says he is pro-gay marriage because it's "civilizing." I think we are starting to see that happen here, but it's similar to what I have been saying for a while ... and Penny Tration pointed out the same thing in her blog (here -- go to her blog, there are two articles in a row) based off a Yahoo report about the death of gay ghetto's like WeHo, Boystown, Castro, and the Village (locally, Northside).

Gay is passe. (A sharp division from "gay is good" in previous generations) It's common now, and it's on the forefront of American politics but not in a cutthroat sort of way, more of a "tying up loose ends" sort of way.

Rather than fighting for visibility and recognition and the simple right to be, we are fighting just to make sure that our rights are guaranteed and for marriage -- marriage! The penultimate of heteronormativity. Don't get me wrong, I support the right to marry for anyone ... and, later, the right to divorce. But it's telling of where we are.

The commentator makes the point that gay pride parades are less about drag queens and "extremes" these days, but more about fathers with strollers.

How, unusual. We are no longer counter-culture in most sectors of the world ... we're, mainstream. (I knew the world was falling apart when a marketing firm found out that our "purchasing power" and our "market share" was just under that of the entire African-American population. I wish I could still find that link.)

A long time ago, I read Daniel Harris's The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture and was disgusted, at the time, of the idea that this idealized world that I had heard about -- fabulous clubs, flashy drag queens, counter-cultural movement, sexual liberation -- was falling apart. After all, that's what I wanted. The more I delved, however, the more I found it to be true.

All those wonderful things have given way to a mainstream society with an unspoken "underbelly" upon which all these other things happen. (I will never forget the day a friend of mine said to me in a gay community meeting "We don't talk about sex here, that's not what we're about" -- I don't think he knows I still carry those words with me.) Oh sure, the sexual liberation exists... that is, we can be sexually liberated behind closed doors... just don't talk about it or discuss it, or even mention that we have sex.

It's all very suburban, to my mind.

Are we like everyone else? No, and that's what makes us wonderful. I think I am beginning to understand what the black community went through in the 70s-90s. "Now we have the rights, but we still want to be ourselves." It makes sense to me.

Gay culture, like black culture, was borne out of oppression. It is from oppression springs acitivism (hence, why we don't see ACTUP or Queer Nation anymore).

We are becoming a true part of this American Life... assimilated, mainstream, consumerist, and armchair lobbyists.

I just don't hope we start losing our culture because of it.

Oh, and to the couple on the interview that says "here in suburbia, you can be radical every day." I would like to retort: it takes less courage to simply put a middle-class, suburban, white (not that there's anything wrong with that) face on homosexuality than it did to come out when your life was threatened. Sorry, you aren't no Harvey Milk or Harry Hay.

...and I bet you don't even know who they are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I met Harry Hay back in the early '80's in the Nasti. He attended a fundraiser for MCC. The pastor of the church, Rev. Jerry J. Motto at the time - greeted Harry as "Mr. Hay." Harry - didn't miss a beat taking out the pastor saying "don't call me Mister."