Today I want to go on a cranky old-man(nish person) rant, which I’m allowed to do since my name is the URL.
So here’s the basic plot:
Lately, I have been devoting a lot of energy to self-love and self-care and self-improvement. Pretty much doin’ the whole ‘self’ thing.
I’ve also been interested in the narratives of people who are on similar self-caring trajectories.
Which is to say I’ve gotten really into Instagram.
There are positive changes going on my life, and I am proud to document them. I quit smoking, I’m doing yoga and going out in nature. I’m taking care of the vessel my soul has to walk around in, and it makes me happy to share with others who are doing the same.
I don’t feel the least bit bad about my participation in ‘selfie culture,’ because I do believe that loving myself is one of the most radical things I’ve ever done.
I’ve been fat most of my life (until the last couple of years), and I am a nelly little homosexual. Culture has told me I should be a lot of things – up to and including dead – and proud was not one of them.
So now this is the part where I hypocritically attack other people’s participation in selfie culture?
Guh. Sort of? Not really.
To me there is a difference between “I’m working hard to have a nice soul,” and “I can afford such nice crap.”
To put it another way: there’s a difference between “I’m really proud of my progress in yoga,” and “I went to REI and bought out the yoga section!”
I want homosexuals to be happy. Gay, if you will.
But homosexuality as an aspirational lifestyle brand makes me sick.
I have put a lot of effort into never screaming this is not what we were fighting for up until this point, but dammit, American homosexuality is at a crossroads, and this shit is ugly.
If you were already so enfranchised and privileged that whether or not you could get married was really your last concern, then today’s America is a very different place for you than it was even a year ago.
But that was not the last or even primary concern of a lot of if not most people in QTBGL communities in this country. Employment and housing discrimination. Racial inequality. Institutional and interpersonal sexism and transphobia. It’s not that it wasn’t fucked up that we couldn’t get married. But unless you’re a monied white guy, marriage was not the end of the fight.
It’s not the fault of any individual that the face of American homosexuality has generally been the face of a monied white man age 27-55. It is rather, quite simply, that in the absence of traditional power structures, those who are next most privileged will assume their place at the top of the power pyramid.
It is, however, our responsibility as individuals and as members of communities whether we accept into our hearts the idea that homosexuality is a vodka commercial.
Wealth accumulation is a huge problem for members of our communities. And we have always had our own types of aspirational visions, like categories at balls for ‘executive realness.’
But monied white gay America has come so far from this reality that they can tip a queen a $20 without examining power structures or feeling the least bit bad about stealing intellectually from poor black, Latino and Asian gay and trans cultures.
I have stood literally toe to toe with violent homophobes, and I just have nothing to do with homosexuality as trying to figure out which port city to wear designer underwear in. I’m glad our community is making strides, but not so glad that I can just ignore the realities of most QTBGL people.
I want the world to be a better place for queers. But not just the ones who are otherwise already at the top.
I want things to be easier for the people who come after me. But not so that they can become clueless classist douchebags.
People who have been in the life a long time like to complain about how kids these days don’t know their history, but that’s not exactly my problem.
You can forget the names and the dates. You won’t always remember Mattachine and Bilitis and Bayard Rustin and Stonewall and Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson and Polari and liberation and hankies and AIDS and third-wave feminism and ACT UP and DADT and DOMA and and and
You don’t have to pass some quiz. But you can’t just get your golden ticket and slam the door in everyone else’ face.
When I was a little gay kid, “family” was still code – a synonym for gay. “He’s family,” you’d say, “she’s family.” By and large, we are born into families which are unlike us, and that means that LGBT cultural information is passed down at the community, and not family level.
The fact that homophobia and transphobia used to be worse used to make participation and membership in our communities more important, and cultural information was disseminated more easily. So now, yes, it’s true – if you want to find out what your LGBT elders have to say, you might have to work a little. They won’t necessarily be there in the same places as you, guiding you.
Us old-timers have to understand that helping to dismantle systems of oppression is bound to have effects on our communities. Still, it would make me really sad to think that everything I and millions of other queers have gone through in the past is all to the benefit of some white guys on a boat.
If you’re proud of what you’ve accumulated, do something with it. You can probably write it off your taxes or get good publicity for it. It’s nice that some gay people have nice things now. But lifting up your community is way sexier than tropical vacay selfies.
Big Mama Schlomo