Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gay is so “Nineties”… IS “Gay” Even Relevant Anymore?

Gay (gā) adj. A. 1. Of persons, their attributes and actions: Full of or disposed to joy and mirth; light-hearted, exuberantly cheerful, sportive, merry. 1843 Lytton, Last Bar. 1. i. Edward was the handsomest, the gayest, and the bravest prince in Christendom. 1789, W. Buchan, Dom. Med. (1790) 89 That greatest of human blessings [sleep]… visits the happy, the cheerful, and the gay.
2. Addicted to social pleasures and dissipations. Often euphemistically: Of loose or immoral life. 1851 Mayhew, Lond. Labour I. 382 The principal of the firm was what is termed “gay”. He was particularly fond of attending public entertainments. 1891 E. Peacock, N. Brendon I. 302 This elder Narcissa had led a gay and wild life while beauty lasted.
3. Bright or lively-looking, esp. in colour; brilliant, showy.
4. Finely or showily dressed.
5. In immaterial sense: Brilliant, attractive, charming.
6. Brilliantly good; excellent, fine.*
*”Gay” as excerpted from The Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1971).

So, above is the Oxford definition of gay. There isn’t any mention of sexuality. And I’m glad. What is “gay” anymore, anyway? Is it LGBTQA? Is it an acronym that keeps growing and changing over time? I finally learned the GLBT from the nineties and then it changed. Now it’s new all over again. June 2012, I had the fun and exciting privilege to spend the pride weekend and week in San Francisco, CA. I felt proud. It was a completely different world from my normal experiences. And it helped me see things I need to improve, and things I need to hold onto even more tightly. Apparently, in San Francisco, you are a backwards redneck Mississippi hick if you don’t know all of those and learn to use it. Even though I’m gay. And I am fabulous. And here, all this time - I thought the fact that I sucked dick and fucked guys is what made me “gay”. Now I have to be politically correct? I have to be an activist that takes into account the needs of the whole gay society? Good Lord, that’s a lot of pressure for a person like me. To be even more clear, I am a somewhat selfish, narcissistic individual that would rather slowly bleed to death than listen to your stance on politically correct terms for fags, dykes, and racial terminology.  

What is “gay”? Is it just two guys that date? Is it just two guys that have sex?  Is it just same-sex relationships in general? What is the answer? Is there even a solidly and widely recognized answer? I know that in our nation’s wave of “political correctness”, we have determined that each soul is unique and special like a snowflake. Pshaw! Screw that. I want real, hard, gritty, soul-stirring answers.

I mean, have we watered down our heritage so that we can finally come and sit and the “grown up” table at this stirred and blended American Family Reunion? Is it really boiling down to the fact that it’s just same-sex love? If that’s all we’ve become as gay people, that seriously - what has become of us? In the world post-Dawson’s Creek’s first male to male kiss on prime time, and post-Will & Grace, which showed us as funny, loveable sitcom characters that were just as flawed and normal as the next hetero - what IS our gay society? Don’t quit on me yet, Reader… Please don’t dumb this down. I know it’s a deeper subject than normal, but it’s something that’s worthy of thought. In all seriousness, and besides the scorching hot debate over homosexuality and civil rights, what has become of the trendiness and upward mobility of gay men… of our ‘DINK’ status? Has our desire to mainstream and have pseudo-equal rights somewhat crippled us from being the fabulous and wildly exotic creatures we were ‘born’ to be? IS it our environment after all?!?? After years of preaching to everyone that we are “just like you”, have we become just as dull and droll as those straight people we were born to help out of bad hair and fashion?

What is it to be gay in this “post-coming-out” era? For one thing, coming out used to be a process. It was important to look inside yourself, determine your sexuality, and come right on out. In the 80s and 90s, you would come out, it would mark you somewhat in society and you would live your life. Openly, if you were brave enough and had the support that was needed. And if not openly, you were forced into the closet for whatever reasons. Don’t forget that not so long ago, it wasn’t trendy or popular to be gay or bisexual, or curious, or an ally. It was something that we were raised to be ashamed of. It was something we were told that made us different, and less-than, and abomination. Yawn. But, for the brave souls that were visible, and chose to be counted as homosexual and especially for those gay men that went before me, the struggles of the 1970’s and 1980’s were not in vain. My own coming out in the mid-nineties was not a difficult thing for me personally. I saw so many friends go through difficult struggles with their families. Unnecessary struggles that tore them apart and even made some commit suicide or turn to substances to take their minds and hearts elsewhere, all because of misconceptions and the lies of men.

It is really sad when the sole purpose of some politicians and clergy are to demonize and create a horrific misrepresentation of a people. It’s painful to so many. And it scares many gay people and the lies, the rhetoric, and the “fight” tires them out. They don’t want to discuss their lives and educate their families and friends that believe the lies and pandering to political groups and lobbyists for the extreme right. But, I say, “Educate yourself. Take the time to know who and what you are. Know what your opponent is saying about you and be prepared to back up your rebuttal.” Even more personally, I say, “Bring it on!” Why, MichaelK, why would you say that and poke a sleeping bear, or pick a fight? Well, Gentle Reader, I say that because we used to be fabulous enough to make them cower in shame and fear. They knew they didn’t know that much about us. They knew that even though they looked down on us, they were intrigued and perplexed and somewhat entranced with our ability to keep right on being ourselves, being fabulous, and being brave under their localized terrorism and tyranny. We were hidden away and had better style, better hair, better wit, and were generally just better. But we’ve become so transparent and we’ve lessened our standards. We’ve been begging for equality so much, that we forget that on so many levels… gay men outrank, outshine, and just out-do straight men almost on every level and just about every day of the week. It’s sad to me that now they seem so comfortable to use us. They let us work for their political campaigns and style them for their TV debates. They want us with them WHILE they hate us and abuse us. Stockholm Syndrome, much? I’m saddened and moved to righteous anger that we, as gay people, just seem to want to cower, and do the status quo and fit in, rather than fight, demand our rightful and respectable seat at the table and stand out as the amazing creatures God created us to be.

Gentle Reader, please, please don’t stop reading just yet. I know this seems like I am just on one of my high horses, but let me further explain. Honey, we are everywhere. And I mean, literally, everywhere. We always have been.
  • Fashion – check.
  • Hair and coiffure – check.
  • Makeup – check.
  • Sports – check.
  • Professional careers – check.
  • Actors, movies, TV – check.
  • Music, singers, bands – check.
I mean, seriously, I can personally name dozens if not hundreds of people in each category. Some are great friends on a personal level. Some are celebrities I’ve come across in my life and travels. Some have come out years ago amidst great turmoil and at personal risk and expense. When I think back to one of my own heroes, Ellen DeGeneres… she came out at a time when it was NOT okay, NOT accepted and she paid for it with her TV show, her reputation, and her career. But because of that, I celebrate and embrace her deserved success and longevity for being honest, brave, and a role model. Today’s noted celebrities either act like it is no big deal (which we’ve been fighting for, but have not quite achieved legally or popularly) and they act like those that DID make something of it didn’t pave the way for them to enjoy their current successes. Or they think that it’s still important to state it and be counted, a ‘la Anderson Cooper, which I respect for his statement that while it is NOT a big deal to be gay, in today’s society, it IS important to be counted.

If it’s hereditary, then why in the world are so many of us begging for little Asian babies and trying to prove we are no better than the sloppy redneck couple down the street? Have we already stooped so low in our fight for equality and civil rights that we finally believe we are equally as lame? Equally as slobbish and mundane? Que Pedestrian!!! For years, we assured ourselves that our persecution was because we WERE better. We knew that she looked horrible in her ensemble to go to Wal-Mart and we knew our life’s mission was to be better, more fabulous, have better clubs, restaurants, and salons. We were metro, way before the straight men decided to work out, get ripped, and use mousse and gel. We knew the names of those bitches stomping down catwalks before they were ever on a reality show with that five-headed Tyra! WE were the ones that kept Tom Ford, Yves St. Laurent and Comme de Garcon in business during a freaking recession!!! Not some tired piece of snatch on Project Runway and that awful orange queen sitting beside her!!

The harsh truth of the matter is: we, the gays, ARE better at most things...
Perhaps we are just plain lucky to be gay. Maybe we are really the ones that got the lottery. Let’s face it, I’ll never have to call my mother to tell her to plan a shotgun wedding because I “accidentally” got some ho knocked up. I’ll always be able to help her in a pinch when it comes to party planning, to catering, how to complete the look for her new den, and to catch her up on the latest gossip! I’ll know how to dress her and light her when she’s older and how to coif her hair and make her just as pretty. God knows none of her other kids will. (No offense you guys, but seriously… it would have always been me.) Or, maybe I’m just nostalgic. Maybe I miss the days when being gay gave you a freedom to be unique and exotic and wildly imaginative in your wardrobe, your style, your personality. We felt more free to create a persona and flaunt it. Once you were out, you were just out, and there was no need to be timid or afraid or even… respectable. But now… NOW we all want to be LL Bean and Ralph Lauren copycats and join the local clubs and have tame dinner parties. I’ll pass. Hell, maybe I just miss youth… and beauty… I miss painting myself gold and wearing a sheer curtain as a toga for Halloween, or a random Saturday night on the town. Or just for no reason.

The harsh truth of the matter is: we, the gays, ARE better at most things. Those of us in our thirties and older were raised in a time when coming out was still something that HAD to be done and it was hard to do. It was something that set you apart and made you have some community and solidarity within that community. Yes, honey, we may scratch and eat our own because of our bitchiness, but like any family… “I can do that… YOU breeders CAN’T, and I’ll cut your horribly dressed titty with an old spork if you try it.” We are better because we were told all of our lives that we were lesser. We tried harder, we accomplished more, we got better grades, honed our chosen paths and made ourselves and our lives better. As, Gay men, we are always picking some broad shouldered, brassy, big balled broad to put on a pedestal. Why?? Why do we love a Joan Crawford, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Madonna?? We try to emulate them, to capture their struggle and make ourselves better and come out on top just the same. We pick ourselves up from the ditch by our bootstraps and we hold our heads high. All while being considered something unnatural or less-than, or even an abomination. (None of which are true…)

What is it to be gay now? Emphasis is on the now. It’s a post-coming-out world where we are told we are not quite equal, but not quite special. We are told that we can have separate but equal partnerships, but that we are still not spiritually on even footing with God. We are told all of these lies still. We are told to blend in, to fit the mold, to be average. Fuck that. I tried harder, I did better. If I failed, I practiced, learned, honed and did better. I succeeded. I’ve been low, and I’ve picked myself up. Fuck that. What is it to be gay now? I am getting more and more to the point to where I am more and more happy with who and what I’ve become. Just a part of me registers as gay, but it’s not insignificant, and it’s not something that society doesn’t notice. And it's not something they don't make a judgement or acknowledgement of. I won’t pretend anything differently.



  1. Are my comments broken? I've gotten nearly a thousand hits and not one comment? Not even a disagreement or approval? Weird...

  2. I think it's because it's an interesting read, it makes you think, but wtf can one say?
    I'm not a gay man, just a chick that fits someplace into that new politically correct acronym, living in New Orleans who spent a few years surrounded by fabulousness.
    I agree that as far as the big picture, the way gay men are seen today and even act today is different from the past. I can tell you it's not that way everyplace.
    We may be in the south but we might as well be on an island...kind of like the island of misfit toys. The island I refer to is the French Quarter. I'm probably not making sense but if you'd like to see people living the lifestyle that's "gone out of style" come to the gay section of Bourbon St. sometime. As someone new to the city it's a good place to start. Or, come down for Southern Decadence.
    Anyhow...I cannot answer any of your questions. I still feel compelled to save this and read it again, probably more than once. Maybe others felt something similar..? (I really don't know)