Friday, February 19, 2010

The hostility underneath

I want to say that at some point, Kelvline, Darryl, and I started talking about the ways in which Gay Shame was becoming a conversation between the three of us -- people would look to us for ideas, motivation, inspiration -- we were the ones that held it together. But actually I’m not sure if the three of us ever talked about this dynamic directly. One-on-one, for sure, but never as a group. I felt like Gay Shame was stuck -- the only new people we attracted were college graduates who had just moved to San Francisco, and grad students who were studying us; they would get bored, or the semester would end. Everyone else had already decided Gay Shame didn’t belong to them: we were too cool or not cool enough, too angry or jaded or crazy or intellectual or stupid or frivolous or serious, too slow or impulsive or cliquish or political or young or messy or artsy or ridiculous. Our alienation felt creative and our politics remained rigorous, but our activities became sporadic -- we would come up with grand ideas, but without a critical mass it felt harder to take risks, and risks had always been our strong point.

I wondered if we should end Gay Shame with a grand finale, and brainstorm new interventions. But I didn’t want to suggest bringing the group to a close just because it had ceased to inspire me; I asked Kelvline and Darryl what they thought. They almost seemed frightened by my suggestion; the group as it currently existed had become more a part of their identities than mine. I remained dedicated because I believed in these friendships that had emerged through our activism together: maybe that was enough inspiration.

Before I went to visit my father, I told Kelvline that I wanted our relationship to get deeper, more relaxed -- her purposeful craziness felt like a cover for unaccountability; I didn’t like arguing with her all the time. Our conversation went in circles; every time it felt like we were getting somewhere, she would say: actually, that’s not what I meant. And then, a few weeks later, she told me I was using the Wall Street Journal for my own advantage. She acted as if there was a crisis in Gay Shame, all these unnamed people who didn’t trust me but they couldn’t say anything: she was speaking for them, a noble act, because of our closeness. What about all the people who had left Gay Shame because of Kelvline’s disruptions? Could there be anyone worse to confront me about an alleged departure from process? Darryl had already told me the article felt like an advertisement for someone with my legal name -- Kelvline’s misreading of that interpretation still made me wonder if she was channeling the hostility underneath.

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