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Is there such a thing as "gay culture" any more? Do we have any cultural practices that distinguish ourselves as a group from the general public? Are we even one large distinctive group, or are there crucial differences among us that make us a number of sub-groups, and if so, how do we label those groups? These have been issues since the American Psychiatric Association said we didn't suffer from a mental illness in 1973. Despite the pressures that some elements of gay liberation put on us not to be hetero-normative in any aspects of our life, the gains we have made in the past 42 years have made us less distinguishable from the population as a whole, and, in at least six states, we have all the rights and privileges of citizenship that non-gay citizens have.

This hasn't made some people who cling to the possibility of human liberation that the gay liberation movement championed very happy. Two months ago, I introduced you to some of the writings of James McCourt, who has created a social and cultural history of pre-Stonewall gay New York. I framed the discussion by observing that

McCourt is chronicling a specific type of gay life, the gay culture that has supposedly disappeared because we've become more assimilated.
This prompted Steveningen to raise an important question about memory, history and tradition:
Is assimilation robbing us of a unique culture built from decades of being forced to live under the radar? Or is it embellishing our culture and releasing us to openly embrace its uniqueness?
Important questions! Live issues within the LGBT community too, and at least one of our talented writers has taken a stab at answering these questions.

I begin this analysis on the cultural side, and we have a very celebrated guide to gay culture, where it was, where it is now and what happened that was published in 1997.  
I had every intention when I first conceived of this diary to make fun of it, because the book emphasis "either/or" at the expense of "both/and." But a couple of recent diaries have raised the stakes on this. The fact I'm writing this 15 years after the book was published shows that there are still some live issues here, and I'll treat what deserves respect in the book with respect.

Harris is concerned that assimilation has had a corrosive effect on all the elements that animated the gay sensibility that preceded Stonewall and tried to persist through the 1970s. Why?

Homosexuals are being accepted so quickly by the general public that two of the most valuable features of our culture, our involvement with the arts and camp, our highly mannered style of humor, are disappearing.
I can hear some of the members of the LGBT Kos community applauding here, and I'd caution you to stop for a moment. If we can be fired in 30 states just because we're gay, we're NOT assimilated.

The problem is that Harris believes we've succumbed to the siren song of commercialization.  It's not just me; George Chauncey, reviewing the book for the New York Times in September 1997, has this to say:

Harris, who writes frequently for Harper's Magazine and Salmagundi, joins a growing chorus of urban gay writers lamenting gay men's loss of their radical edge and their supposed transformation into little more than a profitable niche market.

Echoing Sartre's suggestion that it was only the anti-Semite who made the Jew remain Jewish, Harris argues that gay culture was a response to the exclusion of homosexuals from the dominant culture, and that assimilation spells the end of its distinctive sensibility. He charts its decline in everything from the rhetoric of gay political magazines and the iconography of gay pornography to gay men's attitudes toward assimilation itself. He poses genuinely interesting and significant questions and brings a thoughtful and unsentimental intelligence to them.

Yes. Harris goes through a number of elements of gay culture that have turned into their opposite: The ridicule of divas (and yes, the man behind is gay), the evolution of drag into genderfuck, even the designation of types of sexual behavior. Some of them are just silly --two chapters on the changes in gay pornography (one for film and one for literature), one on the death of kink (it didn't die, but AIDS made it hide more than it did during the 1970s) -- but some aren't.  I'm beginning to feel like McCourt in Queer Street here because I remember how subversive After Dark magazine was during the 1970s (it died in 1983). I'm not so sure about the disparagement that the Church of Cole Porter threw at men who went to the gym during the late 1970s, calling buff guys in flannel shirts and jeans "Castro Clones" to mask the fact that everybody in certain bars in 1970s New York (for those of you who remember, Uncle Charlie's North) dressed the same way.

Chauncey has similar problems with the book:

The trouble is that Harris's forays beyond his own experience reveal little understanding of gay life before the gay liberation movement. Like many of his contemporaries, he is tied to an image of gay life then as simultaneously more adventuresome and pathetic, and more witty and self-loathing, than it really was. (One chapter, for instance, treats the timidity of gay personal ads in the 1950's as clear expression of their authors' isolation and desperation, rather than [as] a tactical response to censorship.) He also ignores the racial, ethnic and regional diversity of gay culture today.
Actually, there are only two chapters in the book, and even then, not entire chapters, that really help Harris make his point.  Like McCourt, he bemoans the death of camp, observing that it cannot survive our release from the social burden of homosexuality. Why would we need it?
What sets us apart from all other minorities . . . [is that] we are, by definition,  . . . an invisible minority,  . . . [and thus] we must invent from scratch those missing physical features that enable us to spot our imperceptible compatriots who would remain unseen and anonymous if they did not display . . . in their immaculate grooming and debonair style of deportment, the caste mark that constitutes the essence of the gay sensibility.
Well, maybe not in the age of Manhunt (incidentally, the owners of Manhunt donate to Republican candidates) and Grindr, but there's something to distinctiveness. Then, there's a chapter called "Glad-to-be-Gay Propaganda." He is particularly dismissive of Bruce Bawer and his book A Place at the Table (1993) which he believes said nothing that Andre Gide  didn't say in 1924. It all results in a decline in the quality of gay literature. Not entirely correct, but not entirely incorrect (David Leavitt) either.

So maybe Harris is on to something? Chauncey again:

What looks meekly assimilationist to Harris, like the campaign for same-sex marriage, still can look outrageously transgressive to others. Indeed, his confidence that gay culture is assimilated and his insouciance about the threats to it posed by the religious right mark his book as one only a gay urbanite could have written. Few gay men outside big cities have the luxury of worrying about whether they're becoming too straight.
I can't really bemoan the changes that have taken place between 1969 and now, and even between 1969 and 1997. First, there's the whole "both/and" thing.  Second, if the internet changed anything, it's been how gay men communicate with each other. Personal ads? Migrated to the internet to any number of sites, some general and some amazingly specific.  It's even led to a decline in the number of bars and, at least in the cities I know well, a ghetto-ization of them. But the most important thing Harris says is that gay sensibility, and by extension, gay identity, matters.

So have greater exposure in the media, more celebrities coming out, a military that accepts our service (and wasn't that more about job discrimination than anything else?), and the growing acceptance of marriage equality made us less distinctive? I don't think so.  We still like musical comedy (Glee!) and divas of all kinds (Lady GaGa), and drag hasn't gone away (RuPaul's shows on Logo). Harris even knows that; his most recent book, Diary of a Drag Queen, is described by Google Books thus:

The sudden break-up with his long-term partner along with the untimely death of a close friend sent cultural critic Daniel Harris—a top gay journalist whose literary and cultural criticism has been praised by Janet Malcolm, Alexander Cockburn, Dale Peck, and Gary Indiana—into a deep depression. Complicating matters was his accompanying mid-life crisis, which entailed facing up to the harsh realities—and daunting challenges—of an aging gay man finding a new partner in today's youth-worshipping gay world. Then Harris discovered for the first time dozens of men of all ages and sizes online shopping for sex partners in cyberspace. But he soon found that more than just gay men trolled gay sex sites; plenty of "straight" guys sought male sex buddies online, too, but often with one proviso: their male partners had to dress in women's clothing. Although Harris had never before done drag and had no prior interest in women's accessories, he set to work learning the ropes of cross-dressing once easy access to this pool of handsome, desirable and frequently off-limit men was made available to him. Diary of a Drag Queen is a revealing, comic, and sexually charged chronicle of hundreds of one-night stands in high heels.
No comment. Our culture has been embellished, Steven. Things change, it gets better, deal with it!

8:41 PM PT: I really appreciate the way we're sharing our pasts and our understanding of them in the comments, especially the fact that there isn't any intergenerational rancor of any kind.  This is exactly how we share and transmit our traditions, no matter how much things have changed.

Originally posted to Remembering LGBT History on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 04:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Kos Community, Milk Men And Women, and Courtesy Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Things change (7+ / 0-)

    Gentrification happens and gay neighborhoods change as well. Things used to signal that you were also gay are no longer needed. But culture changes too. New things will evolve that signal something "gay."

    I miss some places that I used to hang out, but I'll take the trade offs.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 05:43:24 PM PDT

    •  Agreed, but with some reluctance (6+ / 0-)

      It's a specific issue. There used to be as many as four gay bars in the Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. Now there are none.  Same with the two or three bars in the Financial District.  I suppose it's because we can now drink anywhere, but still . . .

      Not that we go anywhere at night anyway!

      -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 05:53:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For me it was the LGBT bookstores (5+ / 0-)

        Where you could find the latest literature and maybe find some music. You could sit, hangout, drink some tea. It was a setting that really promoted community. On the bar front I can also understand. One of the old school bars in Houston is gone and it is a cultural loss, not that I go out much. I tended to mixed dance clubs.

        But many factors have impacted the old neighborhoods - not least of which are real estate prices.

        The Spice must Flow!

        by Texdude50 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:00:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Beyond the books... (3+ / 0-)

          it seems to me that the entire genre of "queer fiction" is, if not dead, at least very much changed and perhaps even marginalized in a very different sense than it was even 20 or 25 years ago. Just take a look at the "gay" listings on Amazon. You'll find a handful of literary works, mainly by very much established authors (most of them over fifty), surrounded by many others that could arguably be classified as soft-core porn. I have no objection to soft-core gay porn (nor, if I'm entirely honest, to the hard-core variety either) yet it saddens me more than a little that talented writers who might, at one time, have thrown themselves entirely into the sub-genre of gay-themed literary works are far less likely to do so any more. It suffices, by and large, to include in a novel a character--even a main character--who is clearly and openly gay. The sense of being a pioneer, of being transgressive without merely being raunchy, has been lost.

          And perhaps this is inevitable. Perhaps this is the price we pay to be even somewhat "accepted" into the mainstream.

      •  I moved to Pac Heights back then. (6+ / 0-)

        And one by one, I mourned the passing of the neighborhood bars. So many happy times in "safe" spaces where we could absolutely be ourselves...

        Not that we go anywhere at night anyway!
        Neither do I anymore, and I do wonder about how much nostalgia colors my POV sometimes! :-)

        There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

        by slksfca on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:19:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't been in a 'gay bar' .... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slksfca, Steveningen

        in about 7 years now.  In fact, I think there's only one really bad one in my city.

        Still, you can't walk up to the produce boy at Publix and ask him for a date, so where are younger gay men meeting anymore?  We can 'drink' anywhere, but we still can't have the full liberty that heterosexuals have.

        I think there is a distinct loss of 'community', but my observation might be clouded by there being no 'community' here that I am associated with.

        'Destroying America, One middle class family and one civil liberty at a time: Today's GOP'

        by emsprater on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:17:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Two comments: (4+ / 0-)

          First, my only experience with a gay bar was at a place that was a 'gay bar' in precisely the same way that a zoo is an 'animal preserve'.  Yes, there were gays there, and a drag show, but they served primarily as an attraction for the predominately straight clientelle.

          This was in the boonies in the South.  So...  I guess it shows how much things have shifted?

          Second, gay men meet other gay men in precisely the same way straight men meet straight women in this enlightened age: on OK-C,, and the like.

          Outside of dating sites, there is extensive gay community building on the internet,via forums, IRC, facebook, blogs, and all the other myriad forms of social networking.  I think that this more than sufficiently substitutes for the decline of 'RL' gay nightlife.

  •  An idiosyncratic observation on drag: (4+ / 0-)

    speaking solely for myself as a woman, just one in a multitude, I find the fetishization of coventionalized presentation of femininity, well…weird.

    I rarely use makeup, I once in a while remember lipstick, I've curled my hair about three times in my life, so I can observe the conventions of commercialized femininity with a somewhat unusual eye. A fellow who did research with me for two years had mastered it so well that she simply looked "natural." I found out when we shared a hotel room at a meeting that it took her a good hour and a half every day to look "natural."

    This whole schtick is a billions and billions industry - it's not what makes women women. It's a pity that so many women buy into it - but when men do it strikes me as weird.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 05:57:46 PM PDT

    •  I think I'm about five years too young (5+ / 0-)

      to be able to explain it.  It's why McCourt's book Time Remaining was so exotic for me, because I couldn't tell during Odette/Danny O'Doole's long narrative whether she was in drag or not in the various cities unless she told me herself. It's not really a milieu I'm familiar with now either.

      Can any of you shed more light on this?

      -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:02:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you intellectually. (5+ / 0-)

      But then I watch RuPaul's Drag U (all about drag makeovers for straight women) and I start thinking about how drag — and not just drag, but all kinds of playacting — can offer freedom from self-imposed limitations and general shyness. (I saw this happen over and over again in my work with kids in summer theater programs.)

      I don't disagree with a thing you've written, and I know I'm susceptible to manipulation of my sentimentality, but I sometimes get tears in my eyes watching how that silly TV program brings the contestants out of their shells. :-)

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:11:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The key to understanding it is (4+ / 0-)

      that it is a tribute to women. I did my share of campy drag back in the day and I've got pictures to back it up. It rebelled against the notion that men were supposed to only acknowledge their manliness and completely shove aside any emotions perceived as feminine. Ever watch a good ol' boy cry? It's grief coupled with shame of that grief. Now I'm not speaking for all gay men here, just me and other dear friends. When we wiggled into that dress and slapped on that wig it unleashed us to celebrate the very emotions we had been taught all our lives to suppress. And more often than not, the characters we turned into were fierce, confident women who didn't put up with shit. In other words, women we admired.

      •  If you are being precise (4+ / 0-)

        and I cannot say precisely because I never really did drag myself, the essence of drag was not so much a tribute to women as it was to "femininity" as a concept. The idea was that, despite what most mainstream culture used to think, there was nothing "unmanly" about embracing one's feminine side.

        The cultural understanding of gender roles has undergone a significant change. While some might suggest that it is the influence of the gay liberation movement, or even its pre-Stonewall antecedent,  which was responsible for that change, in reality I think far more was at work. Much of it had little or nothing to do with our supposed influence and, in fact, a good deal of it reflects structural changes that began a very long time ago. If anything we may have been harbingers of that change, far more so than we ever were agents of it. On the one side there were the consequences of the industrial revolution. On the other side, or perhaps reflecting it, was the process by which women began to assert themselves in public life. The works of Nancy Cott and Stephanie Coontz serve to highlight these changes (yet another tip of the hat to Dave for citing both of these authors in a previous diary).

        There are two possibilities: one is that, in terms of how we understand gender, we are in the midst of a process of change whose end we cannot even begin to foresee. The other is that we are near the end of that process and are about to enter a period of time during which things will change very little if at all until such times as other, quite unrelated changes take place.

        •  You peeled that onion (4+ / 0-)

          right on down and nicely done.

          the essence of drag was not so much a tribute to women as it was to "femininity" as a concept.
          With this you nailed it better than I attempted to do.

          I want to be clear that I did casual drag. Halloween in the Castro. Drag parties for the sheer fun and beautiful fabrics. I was not part of the serious drag culture evolving in San Francisco post-Stonewall and beyond. I was a dabbler of the arts.

          On to your point. I don't see how both possibilities can't exist simultaneously. As rsevern pointed out, we still have a lot of work to do with the T part of our LGBT commitments. I haven't learned everything yet. I suspect by the time I do I'll just die a happy soul.

      •  Came out in Chicago in the 70's (3+ / 0-)

        and have no memory of drag. I did not see a full blown drag show until I was in my 40's. There was one bar, The Baton, that featured drag and drew a tourist crowd, not a gay crowd. So, I don't see drag as an essential element of gay life, just a phenomena of certain times and places. Drag was pretty much non=existent when I was young and out.

  •  Excellent, thought-provoking diary. (9+ / 0-)

    I guess I don't have a sense of loss because I've only been on this planet for 23 years, and I've only been out for about three years. The bar/club scene is not important to me--undoubtedly because I'm not a bar/club type of person anyway, but also because I've never needed bars when I could get on Manhunt (I still get e-mails from them every once in a while and chuckle...oh, Manhunt) and Grindr/Scruff. I came out in a different world.

    I think the Internet and assimilation have done a number on gay bars and camp. I can see how this is sad. To me personally, though, I can't say that it bothers me. As you and Texdude both said, things change. But I, too, will take the trade-offs. :)

    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

    by Chrislove on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:05:09 PM PDT

  •  I worry about assimilation. (7+ / 0-)

    I learned how to be queer from the pages of After Dark, which I kept hidden under my bed. There was no one else I knew who could guide me. And the sense of belonging, of finally being an insider somewhere, that I got when I first moved to the Castro, was really wonderful. I'm sorry "our" neighborhoods are not so much ours anymore.

    And I fret that the lessons and experiences of past generations will fall by the wayside. But I wouldn't go back even if I could.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:15:21 PM PDT

  •  I look forward to the day... (6+ / 0-)

    ...when I can write a similar diary about the trans community.

  •  loss of the radical edge (6+ / 0-)

    is in fact a common development in any movement as it matures...

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 06:49:58 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (8+ / 0-)

    My feeling, however, is that the only thing gay men as a culture has was mutual stigma.  If removing that stigma destroys the culture that's a bummer, but I'd rather lose the stigma.

    I had started to say, "if you remove the stigma and the culture disappears, then there wasn't much culture to begin with.  However, upon reflection that's not very throughtful -- look at the variety of racial communities that have been held together by collective stigma.  

    And unlike racial cultures, in the GLBT community the only thing holding the community together is stigma and sex. Those are the only defining characteristic of the culture.  Much as I love it, I don't think just sex is enough to build a culture.

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:10:59 PM PDT

  •  Torn... (4+ / 0-)

    ...I do miss the code words (got a light), furtive glances, on and on. I mean does anyone 'cruise' anymore?

    Don't get me wrong, very happily married now and not a clubber by ANY means at the dear age of 55. Given that...  things do change and I've always embraced change, gaily forward girls, gaily forward!

    By the way my most favorite memories were in SF, 1992 crashing with my 3 friends while looking for my own place and spending every Sunday morning lounging on the bed in Marcellus's bedroom 'spilling the tea' about who we did over the weekend and whose boots knocked the ceiling. Sigh....

    May 9, 2012 - Evolution Day

    by cooper888 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:21:15 PM PDT

  •  Back in the mid 1990's .... (7+ / 0-)

    when I was a contestant in one of the largest Leather contests (I won't name the exact contest), one of my stated 'ambitions' for the leather community was to advance the acceptance of monogamy for those who wanted that lifestyle within the leather 'tribes'.  There were audible 'gasps' from the judging panel.  

    Still, I'm glad we've marched forward in some aspects and maybe we've lost some 'edge' and some 'community', but  in ways we've gained more.  Even so, I'm more discrete and have tried to 'blend' into the background.  Maybe there are others like myself, and that's why our communities seem to be diminished, because we're diluted within the population as a whole.

    'Destroying America, One middle class family and one civil liberty at a time: Today's GOP'

    by emsprater on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:29:20 PM PDT

    •  A friend who did me the honor of coming out to (4+ / 0-)

      me in 1970 (we were college students) said he had known he was gay since childhood. The only thing that distressed him about it was that all he wanted was a family and a home and he was afraid that being gay might mean that wouldn't happen.

      When the Iowa decision came down I decided to look him up - he was the director of a historic preservation group with a long time partner. I am so happy that he realized those youthful desires.

      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:36:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the end, that IS the 'gay agenda' .... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, sfbob, blueoasis

        to be able to have the equal of everyone else and move about everyday without continually making 'pronouncements' about it so that it blends into the environment just like everyone elses lives do.

        'Destroying America, One middle class family and one civil liberty at a time: Today's GOP'

        by emsprater on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:42:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Once again I think there is a larger point (3+ / 0-)

      One ought not to have to feel constrained to make choices off of a pre-established menu.

      It was in the late 1980's and early 1990's that I was (mostly) rather happily involved in a relationship that was defined, from beginning to end, as "monogamous." So it was possible back then. In fact I did not find it especially challenging to remain "faithful" in the old-fashioned sense of the term.

      What seems more important to me is that we all ought to be able to define for ourselves how we are to live and be accorded the respect of our peers without regard to uniformity. One ought not more to be judged for wanting and/or having a monogamous relationship than one ought to be judged for wanting and/or having an open or a poly amorous one. Or for that matter for desiring to remain single.

  •  (cough) (6+ / 0-)
    . . . in their immaculate grooming and debonair style of deportment, the caste mark that constitutes the essence of the gay sensibility.
    I always knew I flunked as a gay person.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:41:39 PM PDT

  •  It seems to me that the issue (6+ / 0-)

    is not so much that gay culture has disappeared as it is that gay culture has been subsumed into the greater popular culture.  Glee!, Modern Family, Ru Paul's Drag Race, these are available to anyone.  The fact is, you don't have to be gay to enjoy a drag show, or a pride parade, or a musical, or camp.  I suppose one could argue that the genres get watered down when they are mainstreamed, but that's true of just about anything.  I really don't see a downside here.  But then, I came late to the party.  I only came out in 1995, and by that time, this process was already well underway.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 07:54:39 PM PDT

  •  You know this reminds me of some of the (3+ / 0-)

    comments friends who are parents with post college kids exchange: will they realize what they need to fight for if they have never seen [fill in the blank...old growth, a whale, salmon runs, local business and so much more].

    We older and more tired folks need to tell the stories of our fights for justice and peace and to hold up our heroes famous or familiar.

    Thank you.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:23:04 PM PDT

  •  typo alert: 1997, not 1977 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    see NYT link

  •  I most definitely see your point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, emsprater

    We give up certain things while we gain others. We lose the sense of exclusivity; we gain a sense of...what, exactly? I'm not sure there is any single word that's adequate. Freedom most certainly; acceptance, triumph, are others.

    I would argue that our "assimilation" is a two-way street and that while there are things we've lost which are undoubtedly of value, we have also been able to influence the larger culture.

  •  we will always be a minority (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, blueoasis

    and sex and orientation are distinct enough that there will always be a need for a subculture.

    Will gay society be more fragmented than it used to be? Less? I couldn't say.

    I frequently include gay lit/history/politics in my reading pile. I took "Better Angel" on my last vacation. "Better Angel" was written pseudonymously in the 1930s and had a gay protagonist and the book was unusual (unique?) for the time in having a gay character who did not come to a bad end. The happiness of the ending is ambiguous but hopeful. The writing holds up pretty well, mostly in the well drawn early years of the protagonist. But talk about isolation! The protagonist even then had a well of gay lit to draw on - Edward Carpenter, Walt Whitman.

    The easy availability of gay media on the internet - from self-help books to porn - and the accessibility of online communities contrast with my own relatively isolated youth in a way I wouldn't want to forgo. Yes, I got to see the occasional well-adjusted gay/lesbian on Donahue (thank you so much, Phil!) and there were a handful of novels and nonfic in the library that I bucked up my courage to check out (The Frontrunner; Eric Rofe's Socrates, Plato & Guys Like Me), but I was never much for drag and arch cattiness - sorry, Bette Davis - so getting into that sort of gay culture was, at best, dabbling.

  •  Exellent diary, Dave (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    and I especially liked this

    Not entirely correct, but not entirely incorrect (David Leavitt) either.

    There is a critical difference between feeling discriminated against because you're disagreed with and being discriminated against because of who you are.

    by EdSF on Thu Jul 12, 2012 at 04:53:43 PM PDT

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