Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm not a big fan of email interviews...

Where's the conversation, right? And, sometimes I feel like I end up writing some whole thing and then what do they end up using? But actually, this time I find myself thinking oh, I like these answers, I mean I think that a lot in interviews and that's one of the fun parts, but then I don't usually have what I just said written down, right? So maybe that's one of the advantages of an email interview. Anyway, here's are some of the things I was saying:

I think gay culture has become obsessed with normalcy at any cost. Straight ideals reign supreme -- anyone who fails to conform is seen as suspect. Ironically, this is most pronounced in the sexual realm, where any transgression from a basically straight masculinity renders you outside of the trajectory of desire. In some ways, gay men now enact homophobia as much as straight men -- certainly in the sexual realm, that's for sure. Straight guys aren't telling gay men to act like men when they're sucking cock, right? Maybe straight norms participate in policing gay behavior on the street, but it's gay men who are policing each other in sex clubs, bars, cruising areas, and bedrooms.

I don't think that effeminacy was ever particularly valued broadly in gay culture. But, certainly there were ideals among certain queens, freaks, and sexual outlaws in early gay liberation about rejecting the confines of masculinity, sexual aggression, objectification without appreciation, militarism, the nuclear family, and the stranglehold of straight and state control over queer bodies, minds, lives, and dreams. In certain ways, gay liberation made it possible for straight people to be more fluid in their gender, sexual, and social identities, while gay people are now busy propping up dominant institutions of power like marriage and military in a misguided quest for straight privilege at any cost. In this way, gay liberation has failed -- but, I do still believe in the ideals.

Growing up, I was called “sissy” and “faggot” before I knew what they meant, starting around four or five on the playground. All I knew was that the other kids were seeing something in me that set me apart, that made my desires sick and wrong and evil and permanently outside normalcy. Instinctively I knew that the requirements of compulsory masculinity would always leave me broken, scarred, and hopeless. It took me a while to realize how to challenge this, and what I find so tragic about mandatory masculinity in gay culture is that gay men are desperate to embrace the exact same thing that oppressed, and continues to oppress, so many faggots and sissies growing up -- not to mention women, queers, trans people -- and yes, even straight men, the ones who can’t or aren't willing to measure up either.

Gay culture, and particularly gay sexuality, could be about experimentation, fluidity, flamboyance and bold visions of community-building based on molding desire into something vast and transformative, but instead it's about regimentation, regulation, following some tired script that says don't talk, don't ask, take what you can get, only think about yourself -- every guy you hook up with is just another beer can you can crush on the sidewalk and kick into the gutter once you're done. In this sense, gay sexual culture has become a bastion of some of the grossest forms of consumer loyalty masquerading as “community,” and this harms everyone involved.


HeSaid said...

this reminded me a lot of a post from a few years ago (10/23/07, I found it after) that meant so much to me when I first read it that I wrote parts of it down and carried around with me.

Specifically this part:"When I realized that it was gender they were seeing not desire, that little boys are monsters because of their parents and the cultures that makes them enact violence in order to access power -- when I realized these things, that's when I realized I needed to be a faggot because it was the only way they wouldn't win."

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

HeSaid, how sweet of you to make the connection to that earlier post! And, to write parts of it down and carry the words around with you, I love that...

Love --