Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Larry: The Other Kramer

I don't know where Larry Kramer goes for those decade-long stretches when he's out of the public eye, but I'd like to go there myself. Because whenever he comes back he comes out swinging, armed to the teeth with bitchery, and hits his intended target dead on. In the early 80s it was gay men, whom he excoriated with his novel "Faggots".

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI've always regretted that gay men haven't had their own Malcolm X. As much as I admire our Dr. Kings, after literally decades of activism we are scarcely further on from where we were in the 70s. Oh sure, we have hate crimes protection (which police refuse to enforce) and human rights protection, which is similarly imperilled every time the electorate votes. More often than not, constitutions are being amended to exclude us.

No one has benefited from the generosity and tolerance of heterosexuals like me, since I cannot now nor have I ever been able to count on anything like community from my own kind. Forced into a missionary position, er, role among the straights I do what I can, not to blather on about why I deserve to be treated as an equal but by demonstrating same again and again.

"Who taught you to hate yourself?" These are the immortal words of Malcolm X; they were incendiary enough in the 60s when Malcolm X spoke them to blacks. But their brilliance is that they are infinitely relatable. In the case of gay men we know well enough, and it's time fingers were pointed.

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lcdseattle said...

"after literally decades of activism we are scarcely further on from where we were in the 70s."

What planet are you living on?

Oh My God! Our lives (at least in most western countries) show little resemblance to life 30 years ago. Yes there are still attacks, fags and lesbos still get fired from jobs, we don't get that lovely apartment we want because we are homosexual and the list goes on but on the other side of the issue we are getting marriage equality or at least talking about it and working towards it. 30 years ago all we wanted was a hot piece of ass in some unlit room at the back of a bar and hoped the cops weren't going to bust the place. We are buying homes, entering into legal agreements where the laws won't allow us to marry. High schools have gay youth groups and more then one gay has been voted home coming queen and not drug behind some pickup until the life was beat out of his body. We aren't all equal citizens but we have gained more social acceptance then we could have imagined 30 years ago. I think the biggest thing that illustrates how far we have come is that as a group we are trying to find where we fit now that we have gained so much.

Our culture, until very recently, has been one of reaction to the hatred by straight society. We might as well fuck even more then rabbits, it feels good and we don't get a damn thing from the world, let's have fun. Our pride parades were marked with "We're here, we're queer, get use to it" now we are trying to decide what our parades stand for, rights vs. celebration vs. gay culture. There are many conversations going on about what is gay culture and how important are our ghettos. Since much of the hatred and mainstream nonacceptance has gone away there isn't as much for us to "react" to. Now we have to decide what it means to be gay beyond simply finding the same gender sexually preferable.

I think, given our sexual minority status, we will have and do have a cultural perspective that is different from mainstream society. I don't know exactly what it is and we as a group will have to figure it out. Although I wonder how my life would have been different had social acceptance already been gained and what gay culture would be like and how much easier life would have been these last 20+ years, I am so happy that I remember when the Seattle bars where VERY segregated between gays and lesbians. When shouting "We're here, we're queer" was an incredible release and an in your face attitude could be shot at any breeder on Capital Hill because "they" were in OUR neighborhood. I look forward to the continuing struggle with mainstream society and now, most importantly, within our own community as we get to build a subculture that is truly our own and reflects more positive ass-pects of being gay and less "we might as well fuck and die, they don't like us".

michael sean morris said...

And you in the United States are 1 Supreme Court Judge away from a national ban on sodomy, which both Scalia and Rehnquist are on record *repeatedly* as favouring. That means jail for being gay. Progress?

I am so tired of fighting for the right just to exist again and again and once we start to get it it can so easily disappear. I don't like my entire day taken up with the struggle when all I want is to be useful. I've been called a faggot a dozen times a day every day since the beginning of the 4th grade.

As events in the UK are proving, Clause 28 was a dream compared to the rise of the religious right in what has always been a relatively gay-friendly country.

lcdseattle said...

While I certainly agree we (the gays) are not where we need to be and that there are people out there, and people with power and influence, that are fighting to take away the gains we have already made, I will stand by my statement that we are better off today then 30 years ago. This isn't just a fight for gays in the U.S., it's a fight all homosexuals are fighting. For further proof that we have made gains Spain, a very Catholic country, now has civil union laws and Buenos Aires was the first Latin American city, and one of over 19 million, has also passed civil unions for same sex couples. The power of the Catholic church is waning in this fight to the point where Italy almost passed civil unions and I feel the only reason they failed is internal government issues and not the influence of the Church.

We can continue to sling facts and statistics at one another trying to prove our points but it seems clear that you feel we are no better off and I hope we have made progress, maybe this is a half filled cup and for once in my life it's half full and not half empty. While I can relate to being tired of feeling like a second class citizen I am keenly aware that in my life I have been able to be an out gay man, keep my job and have a solid relationship with my parents. I have certainly suffered insults and catty comments but what human being hasn't. People are nasty to one another. I've even said catty things myself and will again when some fat cow breeder cuts me off.

Thank you for posting, for clearing my comments and partaking in this conversation. In countries like Nigeria we would both certainly end up in jail.

michael sean morris said...

A cup half full... I like that. I just don't want whatever's in that cup thrown in my face. If a congressman said about blacks some of the things they are wont to say about us the building would be a smoking ruin inside of an hour.

It is always a pleasure arguing with you, since you are knowledgeable and passionate. I just worry what complacency is doing to people (especially gays, but also straights). Straight people see a bunch of jillionaire actors and singers and all openly gay and they probably think 'Those fags have it good'. But money buys a lot of safety that the rest of us cannot afford.