Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pandering and possibilities

Kelvline’s political engagement was often enmeshed with revenge fantasies, and sometimes it was difficult to separate the two: I’m not sure she wanted to. In the beginning, Kelvline would rant about the Nob Hill Theatre in any context, and later the Eagle, or even Doseone. She wanted to get them back, for crimes both palpable and imagined. Later this happened with Deep Dickollective, the black gay rap group that had originally held so much hope for Kelvline. She wanted them to receive a Gay Shame award for their masculinism and for pandering to white gay consumers, but she also wanted them to get an award because they had let her down.

Benjamin and Kelvline often talked with me about the limitations of existing within mostly white countercultures: they were living the contradictions, exploring and expressing them, but they also felt the trap. Benjamin, who didn’t necessarily agree with Kelvline on many issues, spoke eloquently in favor of nominating D/DC for the Model Minority Award. I supported the nomination because I wanted to support the possibilities of queers of color in Gay Shame to critique other people of color. I don’t remember there being much debate, but there wasn’t much debate about most of the nominations. D/DC ended up in the Model Minority category; at our 2003 Walk of Shame, this was the only announcement that elicited boos from some attendees, causing several people in Gay Shame to question the nomination, as if they hadn’t even noticed it before. This felt disingenuous -- was it only an issue because people booed? If so, was popularity a measure of our integrity?

The controversy centered around whether Gay Shame, a mostly white activist group, could responsibly critique a black gay rap collective. But the most vocal proponents of the nomination were two black fags, one of whom had rapped with D/DC. Was it possible, within Gay Shame, to create space for queers of color to hold other people of color accountable?

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