Stephen of Gay Species left this intense comment on Bruce’s blog, Not So Different. The original post is about Bruce’s struggle with his gay identity. Though he is very “out” and supportes equal rights for all gays, he feels guilty for sometimes being uncomfortable with the radical social politics of overtly effeminate or butch leather gay culture. His questioning is gentle and open-minded.
The comment below makes a point I have touched on in early posts here on Glittering Muse, but which I didn’t want to push too far. I, like Bruce, want to support my own “culture”, yet can’t resist questioning the integrity of some of its more fringe elements. Like the commenter below, I want gay culture to “grow up” and evolve, both socially and spiritually.
I thought this was happening during the AIDS crisis in the 80’s and 90’s, but it has slipped back into many of the shallow habits of its wild past, but put it lightly. Dissenters within the community are often dismissed as conformist or exclusionary, putting them, like Bruce and I, between a rock and a hard place. In Stephen’s comment here, he unflinchingly drives the point home.
I get the “gay” obsession, the “identity” dissonance, the “hurt” and “wounded” psyche, the “fragmented” lives, the “rebel subversive” appeal, the “flesh peddlers,” the “drug-release of inhibitions,” and all the other cultural “gay” icons.
What I don’t get is why we put up with it. As an incorrigible pluralist, anything goes. Few things are off the realm of possibility (pedophilia, being one). If Foucault is your hero, so be it. If anonymous tricking tickles your fancy, it’s still available. But it all is hurting some of us in that place where “identity” and “queerness” are someone else’s battles. Even “queer” San Franciscans, perhaps indebted to their mentors’ jadedness, are figuring out that another f**ck won’t make them happy. But it never has. It’s just another form of obsessive-compulsiveness that has “been scripted” as our raison d’etre. Hot men are hot, but not a reason to scr*w everyone of them. For heaven’s sake, we are supposed to herald some pride, but a simple excursion to http://www.ohlalaparis.com/ parades eye candy as if was all meant for consumption. We buy the store lead-in, and then want a refund for its failure to “meet our expectations.”
It’s all a bit empty from my perspective. Yes, dropping acid, E, or who knows what, and dancing till morn was an extraordinary experience, one I thoroughly enjoyed repeating for a time. Using “meth” may find a new avenue no one would otherwise explore. But it was always a diversion, always a means to take the sting out of “hook-ups” that cared not a wit, nor we in return. I’d hoped that that phase was merely a passing one, one that would allow us to love openly and honestly and not betray our vulnerabilities.
But for god’s sake we’re humans. We may express our human love differently, but that should not make us less human. I’m giddy that some of our newbies aren’t so willing to compromise. After all the psychic damage, the aftermath of AIDS, some of our younger men realize that being human is all we have to offer. Their defiance against the “mantra” and emptiness is so extremely positive, so vulnerable, and so human, we may yet have made it worth while. Men loving men is truly extraordinary. It may mean we gay men finally have come of age. But the resistance is no less virulent (however emasculated). Our hopes may yet be dashed, but only because we surrendered.
Right after the above comment, this milder view of the same subject came from Bruce of Green Acres. I like his take on the subject very, very much. Thank you, Bruce.
Bruce, I’m reminding you and myself that living as openly gay men, in our own families with partners and other assorted mothers-in-law and what have you–some even with adopted children–we are to today what the drag queens were in the Stonewall days. There is no more strong statement you can make than to live your life openly with your partner, as you see fit… all the while making friendships with your straight neighbors as well.
I’m also reminded of lessons learned from the Culture of Black America, of which i am a part, having grown up in Atlanta. On rare occasions that I witnessed a black friend act white, i felt the same shame as when a nellie friend would butch it up, subverting who they are to please a complete stranger. For the most part, Black folks, as they say, know how to “keep it real,” something I appreciate more and more, the older I get.
We have to keep it real and just be ourselves without worrying what the damn Joneses think. More and more, I find the Joneses want to know more intimate details of my life together with Steven than I’m often willing to divulge.