Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Poetic License

Gay poet Sky Gilbert opines in the Globe and Mail that it's no fun being gay if the 70s-style gay bathhouse party/orgy scene is over, people are accepting of your alternate lifestyle, and gay couples act like--and are just as boring as--straight couples:
I am no longer gay. I quit. But that doesn't mean I don't still adore my pink high heels (and the questionable stains on them). In fact, my unrepentant love for those smelly old shoes has very much to do with why I am defecting and/or just resigning from the club.
No, it's not just because I'm old and tired (although I am); it's because the love that dare not speak its name is now shouting it out from the rooftops. Gay is everywhere and, paradoxically, gay is also over. But the new gay that is simultaneously invisible and ubiquitous is not the gay I once knew.
I think it was Modern Family that did it. I flicked on the TV – as I always do when I hear of a new sitcom with gay characters – and what a shock! Not only is the gay couple on the show completely accepted by their family as a whole, but there is nothing the least bit gay about them. They are a pair of nice, overweight, unattractive middle-class men obsessed with their adopted Asian daughter. I found myself searching for a camp moment, but I'm afraid neither of them is any nellier than the straight husband on the show.
But, like most mainstream entertainment, Modern Family is merely a symptom of what's really going on. For years, gay neo-con Andrew Sullivan (he's the only gay man you are likely to see on CNN, ever) has been telling us that being gay is all about being a good citizen. In fact, if you speak to the leaders of most gay and lesbian political groups about what it means to be gay today, they will probably answer using the words “love” or “family” or “caring.”
Well, the world of pretty rainbows, church on Sunday, monogamy, respectability and good citizenship is not the world I signed onto when I filled out my gay card.
Take heart, Sky. There's always the annual Gay Pride Parade--which still shocks some of those uptight heteros (as does the assertion that Andrew Sullivan is a "neo-con"--at the most, he was briefly "con," and he hasn't even been that since the early days of the first Dubya administration). I suppose he could always take up his complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and blame one or another member of the "human rights" industry for working to counter the stigma of "gay," thereby removing the frisson that made it so appealing to Gilbert in the first place--i.e. the sense of doing something "dangerous," forbidden and outré. Of course, that means he'd probably have to kvetch about an activist from his own community.

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