I have been thinking about something of late in relation to the gay rights movement. One of the objectives of the movement has been to integrate gay culture into mainstream thought and to work toward equality on all fronts. We all hope that gay pride marches won’t be necessary some day in the context that they are held now since all people will be considered equal in the eyes of the law, no matter their race, gender, sex, or sexual orientation.
However, one major drawback of our movement that has resulted from the battle for basic human rights is the sterilization of what it means to be gay with gay culture being lost in an antiseptic society. Many gay bars are closing and gay culture is disappearing in many communities as it is being assimilated into society generally. While this overall can be considered a good thing, I do lament it at the same time.
It is fantastic that being gay is generally no longer considered taboo, and I do appreciate the support that comes from the straight community. However, I still like to immerse myself in all things gay. I want venues that I can go to that are geared toward those like me and are predominantly patronized by queer folks and more specifically by gay men. It is an empowering feeling to go to an establishment and see mostly queer folks and men like me there, which reinforces the knowledge that there are others like me that I can turn to for support and solace.
I also feel that part of this sanitizing of gay culture is coming from the gay community itself — more specifically the part of the community that is immersed in political correctness and that has a desire to project a more sterile image of what it means to be gay. There are those within our community that seem to think that the extreme expression of one’s individuality and the more bizarre and crazy parts of what it means to be gay takes pre-eminence in people’s minds. True to a certain extent, but does that mean we squelch that individuality to project a false image of who we really are and what being gay encompasses? Do we ignore and try to hide the more “colorful” members of our community because some PC activist sequestered in the ivory tower of a sterile, barren advocacy agency thinks it projects a bad image? HELL NO WE DON’T!
Maintain your individuality and say to hell with this sterilization of what it means to be gay. Do not allow gay culture to disappear. Embrace it and never forget those before us that actually put themselves in harms way to advance our movement and also were the more “colorful” members of our community. That is what the focus of gay pride celebrations should become — a celebration of the diversity of our community and a remembrance and an honoring of those before us that blazed a trail to equality and freedom rather than a march for equal rights and separation.