One of my favorite writing podcasts is Brian Keene’s The Horror Show. Last week he had on Hal Bodner and at about the one hour mark Hal starts talking about gay culture. It’s really fascinating. My perspective is that I’ll call you what you ask me to call you and otherwise, I just don’t think too much about it.
That’s not true. When I do think about it, I resent the fuck out of feeling like I have to have some kind of label and then act in accordance to it. The literal last thing I want to do is talk to strangers about my sex life or my sexual preferences. Call me old-fashioned. Call me Midwestern. I fucking hate it. If you want to know if I’ll sleep with you, the answer is probably no.
And I can just imagine even that getting turned into “Oh, well, then, she must be asexual.” No, god damn it. I don’t want to be sorted. That’s exactly what I’m objecting to. Coming up with the proper term. Sticking it on people. Holding them to it.
How’s this? Keep your eyes on your own fucking paper.
I did once pretend to be a lesbian to get my play into a contest, though, so I’m a fucking hypocrite. Kind of. I guess I don’t feel that bad about it, though.
I guess I have been thinking of myself more and more as a spinster. I’m not married. I’m not getting married. I have no social value and no stake in having a social value. I could be up to secret things or not, but you don’t get to know.
Anyway, wow, I had feelings about this I didn’t realize were so intense.
So, Bodner’s discussion of gay culture is really fascinating as is his irritation at younger GLBT people calling him out for using terms like “trannie” and “queen.” Even his hatred of the term GLBT, as if there’s some monolithic GLBT culture, is really interesting. And I found his concern about the decline of gay culture to be really interesting. Something is lost when you gain mainstream acceptance, there’s no doubt about that.
The thing, as I see it, with any movement for social justice is that it has to contain within it the seeds of its own destruction. Once the movement has remade the world to suit it, then of course there are going to be people on the older end who feel like you’ve undermined or devalued their work and people on the younger end who think your work is stupid.
Like, for instance, think of gay marriage (talking specifically about gay male culture here). Part of what made gay culture so liberating to you as a man was that you could spend every weekend in an orgy with a disco beat and part of what made AIDS so devastating was that you knew, KNEW, you were being left to die not just because you were gay, but because being gay was flouting so many social norms, not just the one about who you could love. AIDS was a cultural genocide. Not at first, of course. It was just an illness. But it was ignored and left undealt with when its victims were mostly gay men precisely because it got rid of gay men, which destroyed gay culture.
What, then, is gay marriage to you? Is it nice? Sure, of course. Fuck yes. That’s a hard lesson gay men learned during the AIDS crisis–that this terrible thing could happen to you and your loved ones could be kept from you because your relationships weren’t “real.”
But doesn’t it also feel like it’s taming and tamping down on gay culture? Of course it is.
It’s a victory, but you can see how older gay men might feel like they still lost, for good, something that was really wonderful about gay culture before AIDS.
And young people are pansexual and omnisexual and genderqueer now. Marriage is for old people. They don’t want the victory gay marriage activists worked so hard for. Or maybe that’s not quite fair. But the world has changed enough that they don’t see the importance of getting married. To most of them, the idea that they could be kept from their boyfriend’s hospital bed sounds like a terrible story from a long time ago.
Which is a good thing! It’s a victory gay marriage brought.
But, like I said, the victory contained the seeds of its own obsolescence.
Anyway, interesting stuff to think about.