May 12, 2015

"What Was Gay?/In an increasingly accepting world, homosexual men are all too eager to leave their campy, cruising past behind."

"But the price of equality shouldn’t be conformity," writes J. Bryan Lowder in a long Slate essay, which I got to after watching the video at "Cover Girl Don’t Cover Boy: A Transformative Conversation on Drag’s Role in Gay Culture" (which ends with a reference to one of my all-time favorite movies, "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion").

From the "What Was Gay" essay:
This move away from broad-brush gay stereotypes is wise to a point. Ascribing an obligatory cultural component to homosexuality has caused a range of problems, from the merely annoying Oh you’re gay? Let’s go shopping!–variety to the more pernicious example of admission to safer, queer-only housing in prison being determined based on tests of “gay insider” knowledge or behaviors that not all queer people necessarily possess. Clearly, a person’s homosexuality should not be taken as evidence of any special affiliation, just as heterosexuals, united only by their sexual connection and propensity for procreation, are never assumed to share anything else. This has been one of the key arguments in the “we are normal” case for equality—and it’s been largely successful. Though the job is not totally complete, it feels like we are working as fast as we can to build what gay academic and activist Dennis Altman imagines in his provocatively titled The End of the Homosexual?: a world in which we no longer see “homosexuality as a primary marker of identity, so that sexual preference comes to be regarded as largely irrelevant, and thus not the basis for either community or identity.”
Let's go shopping?


harrogate said...

Too bad "Shouting Thomas" isn't a tag for this one.

n.n said...

"full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree;"

It changed when the homosexual subset of transsexuals usurped the term to describe their orientation.

Ann Althouse said...

Please don't put on the other kind of drag show, the kind where you are a drag.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boycat said...

This is just a fad of the millennials, who lack the education and life experience to anywhere near grok what they do. Fruits "fitting in" long term is a nonstarter. Back into the closet they go by 2030. Probably sooner.

Lewis Wetzel said...

It sure is difficult to separate orientation from behavior, isn't it?

Scott M said...

The price of acceptance IS conformity.

Wilbur said...

If Wilbur was thrown into the county jail, he'd gladly let them arrange his accommodations in the "gay wing".

I'll take my chances there.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Human sexuality is more complex than psychologists admit. John Maynard Keynes and Alan Turing liked to pick up younger lads from the lower social classes. The novelist Hugh Walpole was in a long term "husband and wife" relationship with his chauffeur. Same country, same period of time, same social class.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It's a tricky game, though, for the heterosexual majority--if you ignore any group differences (in behavior, etc) for the sake of equality you might be accused of not respecting the separate special culture of homosexuals. If you treat homosexuals as part of a separate special culture and make assumptions on that basis (about behavior, etc) you might be accused of bigotry or at the very least a lack of commitment to equality.

It's similar to the problem w/race--if you truly act colorblind (and therefore don't support affirmative action, those kinds of things) you're called a bigot, but if you believe in group differences you're...also called a bigot.

Note that feminism has most of the worst examples of this, of course. The word "equality" in common usage w/r/t feminism means very nearly the opposite of its dictionary definition.

campy said...

I don't actually have a comment on this post. I just thought I should be here.

jr565 said...

What's gay used to also be diddling boys on the cusp of adulthood. There's a reason that NAMBLA was supported by Allan Ginsburg and Camille Paglia.

sonicfrog said...

"My Johnny's a gay man now! What God-send!!!"


jr565 said...

WHat is gay anyway, with transgendered in the mix? See what I meam? Gays love members of the same gender. Transgendered say they are a different gender even though they have a different body. So is loving the same gender loving the mind or the body?
If a gay man marries a woman who went through gender reassignment surgery to become a man, is he in fact gay?

jr565 said...

"Though the job is not totally complete, it feels like we are working as fast as we can to build what gay academic and activist Dennis Altman imagines in his provocatively titled The End of the Homosexual?: a world in which we no longer see “homosexuality as a primary marker of identity, so that sexual preference comes to be regarded as largely irrelevant, and thus not the basis for either community or identity.”Let's go shopping?"
Tha'ts the double edge to the color blindness sword, MLK was preaching. If people stop viewing you by your skin tone, its a positive, but by the same token you then no longer have a basis to use that as an identity any more. And so, no reason to deal in identity politics around your skin tone (or sexuality as it were)anymore.
IN the modern world, its republicans that have adopted the color blind argument and dems, and blacks who have maintained the identity politics that refuse to see people based on the content of their skin. THey are the very ones not viewing even themselves by the content of their character but only by their skin.

Roger Sweeny said...

But if homosexuality is not "the basis for either community or identity,” it can't be the basis of, "I will like and/or vote for them because they're my team. I won't like and/or vote for these other people because they're part of the bad team."

Whoever gains by the latter will have mixed feelings (at best) about the end of homosexuality as "the basis for either community or identity.”

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Logical consistency is a white patriarchal tool of oppression anyway.
When it benefits me my minority status is central to my identity and must be protected (for grants, set asides, hate crime legal punishment enhancements, etc).
When it does not benefit me my minority status shall not be mentioned, and any unwanted recognition of that status if prima facie evidence of bigotry.
Ask Senator Warren how the game is played.

jr565 said...

In 1995, Calvin Klein released a controversial commercial featuring scantily clad teens that many likened to pedophilia.
"Camille Paglia, the feminist social critic, took to the pages of celebrated gay magazine The Advocate to attack the firm – but not for indecency. She accused them of cowardice. She wrote: “If [the manufacturers] want to borrow the iconography of paedophilia, they should have the courage to step forward and admit it.” Paglia added: “Paedophilia is an increasingly irrational issue in America. Gays must valiantly defend their cultural tradition by carefully articulating its highest meanings.”

What did she mean by gays cultural traditions? Was it made up on the spot, or was she referencing something that was actual.
(I know the answer, I'm just posing the question).

Anonymous said...

Then there are the 'mos who just get carried away with that whole "anything goes" thing.

kcom said...

"But the price of equality shouldn’t be conformity."

How could it be anything but?

If you don't understand that you don't understand much. Or you're in denial.

Just look at the college scene (where that sort of thing is distilled) and figure out the rest.

CatherineM said...

Romy: Swear to God, sometimes I wish I was a lesbian.

Michele: Do you want to try to have sex sometime just to see if we are?

Romy: What? Yeah, right, Michelle. Just the idea of having sex with another woman creeps me out. But if we're not married by the time we're 30, ask me again.

Michele: Okay.

Scott said...

It's an interesting article; and I'm trying really hard to care about this comment thread. Then I think about the stereotypes trafficked in both, and I already feel weary trying to respond to them all.

One can be homosexual and not gay. I run into guys who say that once in awhile. And I feel sort of upset that the crap we all went through coming out in the 1980s made it possible for such guys to say this openly without fear of recrimination. To me it feels like ingratitude.

So to all you straight guys who want to affect the gay lifestyle and look because it's way cool, be sure to have a friend rearrange your face with a baseball bat to give it that retro vibe.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Scott believes that he owns the sexuality of others.
How heteronormative.

sonicfrog said...

An addendum to Scott's post:

I had a friend in the early 90's who was gay, but you never would have known it. He acted as "straight" as anyone. HE was just a cool surfer type dude. That didn't matter. Someone followed him home on April 24th, 1993, and bludgeoned him to death.

They as of yet haven't caught the killer. But nothing was stolen, so it wasn't a robbery.

I've also been in a bar or two when someone walked in bloodied because they were jumped and beaten because they were gay, or presumed to be.

It's cool that dressing as a "dandy" is kind of in vogue. I can dig that and I'm glad that so much of the danger seems to be in the past. But there were lives lost, and we should never forget that.

PS: My friend, Rob Johnson, was not just a friend, but was someone who was a huge influence on me, as he proved to be an example of someone who could just be normal but also gay. And yes. I loved him. We were not destined to be together. I never told him how I felt.

Bad Lieutenant said...


"So to all you straight guys who want to affect the gay lifestyle and look because it's way cool, "

Wait, what?! Are you serious?

Nobody asked you to come out.


Since your dear friend was passing, presumably his killer was someone in his community. I can't see that as a hate crime except as one gay man hating another.