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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Homosexuality's roots, and the new gay 'reality'

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Author Topic: Homosexuality's roots, and the new gay 'reality'
Dzuunmod
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Where does "homosexuality" come from, and what is it? How about "gay", or "lesbian"? What do these words mean? Why do they exist?

The answer might not be as simple as it seems. Playing off of the recent trend in reality television toward all things gay, Canadian commentator Russell Smith took a hard look at these questions.

As a straight man who can dress himself and decorate his apartment, he seems to find the idea of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy both sad and insulting:

quote:
The very idea that there are such things as "gay values" is dull. The idea that gay men and straight men are fundamentally different and that their surfaces reflect that difference reveals, to my eye, a fear of homosexuality. Far from promoting an interest in the aesthetic, this show marginalizes it: Decorating your apartment -- how weird and funny! Better call in the amusing tame oddballs.

For the uninitiated, Queer Eye is a show where gay men give straight 'slobs' fashion tips, basically.

He goes on to talk briefly about the other new gay reality show, Boy Meets Boy which is basically just like many of the other dating reality shows, but with a gay twist. About both of them, he says it's incredible how easily they both accept the idea of 'homosexuality'.

He points out that for many, many centuries, there were no words the orientation - only words for gay sexual acts. He seems to suggest that that was a good thing:

quote:
Even modern people tend to remain a little confused about this: They accept that homosexual acts do not necessarily mean homosexuality. For example, prison inmates and boarding-school boys who have sex with other males during their incarceration don't necessarily view themselves as gay. In Alfred Kinsey's research in the 1930s, he found that a large percentage of the population answered "no" when asked if they defined themselves as homosexual. When asked if they had engaged in same-sex sexual relations, the percentage who answered "yes" nearly doubled. This led to Kinsey's famous one-to-100 scale of homosexuality; we all are supposed to fit somewhere on it.

But the new gay reality-TV shows accept no such nuance. They are not confused at all. They accept the popular 20th-century view that a guy is either gay or straight and that's that. In this they are essentially biologist -- which makes them in a sense progressive. They are entrenching the new idea that "orientation" is an innate difference, and they are gaining ground on religious conservatives who believe it is a choice.


So, how 'bout it, Scarleteeners? What is 'homosexuality'? Is there more to it than practicing same-sex sex acts, or having same-sex fantasies? If not, then why do we bother categorizing people this way? If so, what more is there?

[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 07-30-2003).]


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Heather
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I'd have to think on that for a while, but you know we do have queer culture, and it is separate, though bisects in many ways, from "straight" culture, which often doesn't seem to exist at all.

I LIKE queer culture. And you know, a lot of my queer friends and colleagues think shows like the above (though the second is pretty qestionable and thus less popular -- the straight men who "foll" the gay men on the show get paid for doing so, for instance) enterianing and fun and the lot. I find it kind of weird when stright folks either have a big problem with queer culture, or defend those of us who are queer in terms of it, when really, plenty of us who participate in it neither want nor need defending.

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Heather Corinna
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Dzuunmod
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I don't know, Miz S. I don't think he was really 'defending' queers, per se. I think he was suggesting that maybe straights and queers aren't as different as they like to make themselves out to be.

Gay activists are always saying that gay people can be found everywhere, doing everything, and that they vary just as much as straight people do. Well, if that's the case, how is it that there can be a true 'gay' culture? If gay culture is found in the gay district of every town, what of the suburban queers? They just get lopped off entirely? What of the gay sports fans?

It seems to me that if we're going to say that gay people are in all walks of life, and have interests as varied as everyone else, it makes the case that there's a 'gay culture' pretty tough to make - as tough to make as the case that there's, say, a 'straight culture'.

We often complain at ST about socialised gender roles - about how society teaches us that pink is for girls, and blue is for boys, and that's that. Well then, aren't programs like these just reinforcing the same sorts of ideas about gays and straights?


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Dude_who_writes
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I have to disagree with you, Josh. The problem, I think, is that youíre trying to be too clear, cut, and defined when you say queer culture. I suppose the best analogy/example, shoddy as it is, that I can come up with is say there is an second-generation Asian immigrant who happens to uphold some of the traditions of their parentís home culture, but at the same time, participates in the so-called western culture. Itís the same idea with Queer culture. There are times when we choose to surround ourselves specifically with those of the same orientation or like-mindedness as ourselves, and then, we can also have normal jobs and participate in very Straight-culture ideas. Theyíre not mutually exclusive, and they definitely overlap, but there is also a difference between the two.

Iím not sure that made sense, so I hope I managed to convey what Iím thinking.

[This message has been edited by Dude_who_writes (edited 07-31-2003).]


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Heather
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Actually, I don't think you can say queer culture, if it exists, must be like "straight culture," because smaller groups, especially those who once were and often still are oppressed, are going to have a different culture than a majority group. And I'd agree with what Tim just said.

To boot, there are a lot of things about living a queer life that very much do NOT overlap with a straight life; and some of that has to do with the fact that being a minority, being against the grain there tends to be a lot more going on about the politics of personal identity, about gender identity, the works that isn't in straight culture (and hopefully, IMO, will be eventually -- I think a little more fluidity in those areas for stright folks would be really beneficial and positive). Some of that simply has to do with differences in our day-to-day lives that seem small, but are important and vital.

And yes, I imagine that some rural folks are not going to be super culture-vultures in any walk: that is something that tends to come more with urban living. I don't think that means one gets lopped off. I think that means one chooses to live remotely for whatever reason they do.

(And don't even get me started on the suburbs and the ill effects suburrban living and flocking has on cities as well as rural areas -- that's a rant and a post for somewhere else entirely.)

And stereotypes aren't rooted in nothing. They come from somewhere. And some of what gets stereotyped isn't even neccessarily negative. Something like Queer Eye is no different than say something like "The View" is it? You have a handful of different dudes with different interests, skills and obsessions, They mingle, create a product. They parody themselves to some degree because it can be good, clean fun to poke fun at oneself in a way that isn't negative, that takes a stereotype and makes something playful and funny and lighthearted.

When I hear a serious critique of something like this from a gay man, maybe I'll pay closer attention. But right now, all I'm getting from my gay male friends is invites to Queer Eye cocktail parties.

(And I have to say, having attended one recently, that some of what the show seems to be aiming to do, actually, is to show that the gap is pretty easily bridged, as you're suggesting this man is saying it should be. Last episode I saw was all the guys supporting the straight guy in proposing to his girlfriend, and it was a seriously charming and warm team effort, followed by much applause and tearing up when the girl said yes.)


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Dzuunmod
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I didn't mean that gay culture=straight culture. I meant that if gays are so varied, then gay culture must exist like straight culture does - and that's to say that it can't because any 'straight culture' couldn't possibly represent the diverse population that is straight people.

And, honestly, I think that those who say that gay culture does exist are usually seeing a very small piece of the big gay pie - the piece that resides on Church Street in Toronto, and Christopher Street in New York.

Put it this way: the gay pride parades in the major centres can attract hundreds of thousands of people to them. Despite that, the gay clubs and gay neighbourhoods in those cities don't hold hundreds of thousands of people at any given time. So, it stands to reason that there are gay people elsewhere in the city, living different types of lives in the suburbs, on farms and in the slums, no? Where are those people represented in 'gay culture'? I really don't see them, and I'd really love for someone to point them out to me.

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"Like a bat out of hell, time has come for you!"
-Ballad of a Comeback Kid, The New Pornographers


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Dzuunmod
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I guess I just figured it out. The thing is, I call myself bisexual, but I don't see myself in 'gay culture', anywhere, ever.

All I see in 'gay culture' is one big, happy gay village. And there are just so, so many people out there who aren't a part of it. And so maybe gay culture is just driving some people further and further away...

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"Like a bat out of hell, time has come for you!"
-Ballad of a Comeback Kid, The New Pornographers


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Heather
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Not sure what to say if that's how you see it, honestly. Save that perhaps how you're enivisioning it may be self-exclusionary, and that's likely the case with more than you.

And it's diverse. For instance, I'd say that something like Queer Eye is specificially highlighting aspects of fag culture (an in a very televisiony-entertainment way), as opposed to dyke culture, as opposed to a million other subsects of queer culture.

I've been bisexual my whole life, and pretty immersed in queer culture since the 80's, so while there are some folks whose roadblocks one may have to get past, I've not found that there are any more there as an active bisexual as there are with heterosexuals, and in many ways, there are a lot more "ins" in terms of politics and entertainment being about my real life than there are outside it.

So.

And with that, I'm off to go photograph some fabulous androgynes and drag queens downtown this afternoon, oddly enough.


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Milke
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It's true, there's no way any sort of culture could really be in itself diverse and complex enough to properly represent everyone who might identify as part of it. And anyone who tries to limit themself to one facet of who they are is placing limits where they needn't be. People can identify as gay or straight, but there's a lot more to anyone than just their sexual orientation -- if they choose to identify by it at all.

I guess the problem with shows like this -- and most pop TV, really -- is that it enforces stereotypes of people in general being one-dimensional. I mean, watch soap operas, and you'll get to see the Evil Mother-In-Law, the Attractive Heroine, and maybe the Cute Dying Child if you're lucky. Watch most teen shows, and you'll see the Popular Kid, the Slut, the Jock, and so on. Watch this one and you'll get the Queer Dude and the Straight Slob. It seems like it should be simple enough to figure this all out, but if people feel for the Jennifer Aniston Haircut, they'll fall for the Dumb Sexual Orientation Models as well. It's a pity that entertainment providers keep exploiting our stupidity, and we keep letting them.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF, CWCD, DNFTF, WAOTA

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Heather
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I also want to add that a television show --hell, television period -- shouldn't be viewed as the rock of queer culture. Or any culture. Sad when it is.

As to diverse representation, you know, the characters in say, Dorothy Allison's "Trash" aren't urban hipsters. Political action surrounding hate crimes and transgender issues tend to specifically reach to address folks outside the cities.

In other words, queer culture is more than TV. It's literature, film (indie and otherwise), music, dance, theatre, cabaret, drag, rallies, discussion groups, certain section of university study, dinner parties, book readings, clubs, you name it.

And while yes, a lot of that happens in urban areas, that's often the case with most culture period: that tends to be a lot of the draw for folks of any orientation to live in cities.


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GrayDancer
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I've got no objection to the existence of Queer culture, but I do sometimes get annoyed by the assumption--not by everyone, but pretty widespread--that certain things "belong" to that culture, and not others.

I've not seen "Queer Eye", so I really can't judge...but the assumption that a gay man has more "fashion sense" than a straight is pretty arbitrary, I think. Perhaps some of it comes from my own experience as a dance major. It was either assumed that I was gay, or that I must not be a very good dancer. The idea that I could be a straight man who danced well was never considered by the vast majority of people--OUTSIDE the dance community, I might add. At the same time, I live in a community with a higher-than-average percentage of gay and lesbian folks...and I have to say that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of difference in the range of personal hygiene and fashion sense regardless of gender.

So I suppose my objection is simply in the idea that "culture" can assume ownership of a trait or characteristic. I consider, for example, Oscar Wilde to be a splendid example of the accomplishment and majesty of Queer Culture; likewise the work photographic and literary by our gracious hostess. Drag shows, another example.

But good grooming? Dance ability? Open mindedness about sexuality? Maturity regarding relationships? These are aspects of individuals, not groups, and when I see them being assigned (or denied) to entire groups, I get annoyed. Which is what I understand to be the premise of Queer Eye, and why I don't plan on rushing out to see it (though those parties sound like fun, Miz Scarlet).

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--"Ignorance is not a sin; remaining ignorant is."


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kythryne
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quote:
And, honestly, I think that those who say that gay culture does exist are usually seeing a very small piece of the big gay pie - the piece that resides on Church Street in Toronto, and Christopher Street in New York.

Put it this way: the gay pride parades in the major centres can attract hundreds of thousands of people to them. Despite that, the gay clubs and gay neighbourhoods in those cities don't hold hundreds of thousands of people at any given time. So, it stands to reason that there are gay people elsewhere in the city, living different types of lives in the suburbs, on farms and in the slums, no? Where are those people represented in 'gay culture'? I really don't see them, and I'd really love for someone to point them out to me.


Oh, it's there, believe me. While Christopher Street is a fine place to find panhandling drag queens and watch the gay boys wander by, New York City is FULL of queer culture... and it's not all in Chelsea, either. (To quote my girlfriend: "Most of the queers in this city can't AFFORD Chelsea!") The Village is saturated with it, it spills over into the Lower East Side, it's out in Brooklyn, heck, it's even out on Staten Island. (I've no doubt it exists in Queens and the Bronx, too, but I hardly ever go there, so...)

As for the non-urban, non-white, non-pretty-enough-to-be-on-tv queer culture -- yeah, you're going to have to turn off the tv and look a little harder to find it. I know, for instance, that there's a lot of writing out there about growing up queer and poor, about being queer in rural places, about being queer in inner cities -- the pieces are scattered in anthologies and various other places, but they are out there, and I'm seeing more of that sort of thing every year.

I'm another such example -- I live with a bunch of other queers in a big rundown house in a bad part of town on Staten Island, about as far removed from the pretty Chelsea streets as you can get without going into the Bronx. Our personal queer culture is centered in our living room, where we hang out on the dumpster-dived furniture and eat beans and rice and talk about our lives and the best way to get a blowjob (that particular conversation came from a group of five women, I might point out) and the activism work that we're doing and the cute gay boy we saw on the train that day and our drag-queen cat and my latest rejection slip from an editor and the tribulations of being a queer bridesmaid. NBC's not going to bring a camera crew out here, but nevertheless, come spend a few hours in our living room and you'll find yourself knee-deep in queer culture.

Thing is, queer culture comes in a lot of different styles. I've encountered fag culture, dyke culture, bisexual culture, trans culture, poly culture, kink culture... and while they're all different, they do overlap a great deal, and they generally share a lot of the same values, like working together to keep the government out of our bedrooms, or trying to make it possible for us to have families that are respected and honored, or trying to make sure that there's knowledgeble, respectful healthcare available. They're reading the same stuff, they're watching the same movies, they're writing the same essays and manifestos, they're listening to the same music. They usually share a similar sense of humor, and a similar sense of standing together coupled with a sense being on the outside looking in most of the time. They've all experienced being shunned for something utterly integral to their selves, and they've all experienced the strain of trying to be true to themselves in a world that far too often wants to shove them back into their respective closets and close the door.

I was up until somewhere around four a.m. last night, and I'm still sans caffeine today, so I'm not entirely sure I'm making as much sense as I could, but I wanted to throw in my $.02, as someone who vehemently identifies with queer culture.

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Kythryne Aisling
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Dzuunmod
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quote:
Originally posted by kythryne:
Thing is, queer culture comes in a lot of different styles. I've encountered fag culture, dyke culture, bisexual culture, trans culture, poly culture, kink culture... and while they're all different, they do overlap a great deal, and they generally share a lot of the same values, like working together to keep the government out of our bedrooms, or trying to make it possible for us to have families that are respected and honored, or trying to make sure that there's knowledgeble, respectful healthcare available. They're reading the same stuff, they're watching the same movies, they're writing the same essays and manifestos, they're listening to the same music. They usually share a similar sense of humor, and a similar sense of standing together coupled with a sense being on the outside looking in most of the time. They've all experienced being shunned for something utterly integral to their selves, and they've all experienced the strain of trying to be true to themselves in a world that far too often wants to shove them back into their respective closets and close the door.

I was up until somewhere around four a.m. last night, and I'm still sans caffeine today, so I'm not entirely sure I'm making as much sense as I could, but I wanted to throw in my $.02, as someone who vehemently identifies with queer culture.


This is sort my problem, kythryne. At first, you're talking about how queer culture is so diverse, and then saying, "They're reading the same stuff, they're watching the same movies, they're writing the same essays and manifestos, they're listening to the same music. They usually share a similar sense of humor...". If I don't listen to Bitch and Animal or club music, and I don't read the Advocate, am I less queer?

There are queers out there - lots of 'em as far as I'm concerned - who work on Wall Street, who shop at Wal-Mart and who aren't activist-ish at all, and they're perfectly happy being so. There are even queers who aren't leftist in the least, no?

I believe that there are commonalities at a personal level that are pretty much universal for some sexual minorities, but I just don't buy that "they're reading the same stuff" or even "writing the same manifestos". How can I be so sure? Because I'm not doing those things.

Did any of you catch the article in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago about 'the DownLo'?

Basically, it summarized a largely American phenomenon, in which young, quite masculine-seeming young black men are quietly having lots of gay sex without letting on about it in their 'real lives'. Most of them, the article suggested, don't consider themselves to be gay. If anyone's interested, I'll point to some more sources on it. Unfortunately, the article itself isn't up on the Web anymore. I'd say, Miz S, that those on the downlo are a substantial group of men who have sex with men who might agree with the hypothesis put forth in the first column that I posted...

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"Like a bat out of hell, time has come for you!"
-Ballad of a Comeback Kid, The New Pornographers


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Heather
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I'd posit, though, Josh, that DownLo men are most often so because of the very serious oppression when it comes to being an out bisexual or gay (though especially bisexual) male in many African-American communities, an issue that's been prevalent and discussed for years and years.

So, when it becomes more okay to be out there -- when that really is more of a choice -- I thinlk we'll be more able to asess that situation with any accuracy.

And I'm earnestly not sure how one can be queer and be completely politically right. That'd essentially be like saying that I'm a feminist and a misogynist.

In all earnestness, you sound defensive, and I'm just not sure why. Participation in queer culture isn't required of anyone, nor does lack of such make anyone "less queer" in regard to orientation. No one is going to come revoke one's license to be queer. However, I think you'll find that when many queer folks really have that very integrated into their lifestyle and their relationships, some measure of that tends to come into effect and become important, wanted or needed. And that's often more the case with homosexuals, or folks who identify as gay or lesbian, than bisexuals a lot of the time, for obvious reasons.

I know that personally, without any of it, I'd feel terribly isolated and invisible, especially during times when I'm not in a relationship.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 08-19-2003).]


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Milke
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I don't think Dzuun's out to be defensive, but rather, to try to show another side to a really widely diverse group of people.

Part of my problem with the ideas of 'queer culture', 'straight culture', and culture based on sexual orientation is that human sexuality is such a fluid thing. I suspect there are very few people out there who are rigidly, solely gay OR straight, simply because of how humans are, and thus the idea that we can define much beyond sexual orientation with sexual orientation seems a bit limited.

Having two X chromosomes does NOT dictate any more than my biological sex; my gender, my personality, and any groups or affinities I identify with are up to me. Just because someone else is female doesn't mean we'll be similar, or like similar things. Having a certain sexual orientation is about as meanigful. There's no way that sexual orientation or sex should dictate something as intensely personal as politics, either, especially when there's such a broad spectrum out there, rather than two concrete groups.

I guess it's human to look for groups we can belong to, but we might all be better off if we chose ones based on factors a bit better considered than surface similarities. I'd agreed that gay and straight cultures seem to exist, but they're artificial creations, not something we need to be bound to. As a species, we're much too complex to be bound to such simplistic categories.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF, CWCD, DNFTF, WAOTA

This is the time to unite over the Revolution of the Pants

[This message has been edited by Milke (edited 08-19-2003).]


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Heather
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Honestly, this is something I'm going to have to think more on how to express.

However, in many regards, I hae to earnestly say that some of this discussion is akin to discussing abortion with those who have not experienced abortion: the same really goes, IME, anyway, personally, socially and proffessionally, with same-sex relationships, and with how one's life works/feels in this culture when one is actively in same-sex romantic and sexual relationships.

In short, it's not as simplistic as it seems, it really isn't. It isn't surface. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that we all live in heterosexual culture, whether we want to or not, and it is the majority of what we see all around us, and are inudated with in every type of media, and it often truly isn't inclusive, and that can lead to some serious feelings of isolation and invisibility.

It's not a simple translation, and it isn't surface, nor simply about what same genders may or may not have in common.


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-Jill
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quote:
What is 'homosexuality'? Is there more to it than practicing same-sex sex acts, or having same-sex fantasies?

I guess when I think of a homosexual I think of someone who has non-platonic feelings for people of their gender. (The word gender chosen over sex intentionally.) I'll go even further and say such feelings are frequently culminated in a relationship -- at least when all parties are agreeable to one. A little different from the definition dzuunmod gave, but not much.

However, I think homosexuality and homosexual culture are very different things. You can easily be homosexual without ever watching "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" or listening to Bitch and Animal or knowing just why Alix Olson rocks. Equally, you can be heterosexual and enjoy all those things.

Despite that, there is a distinct queer culture. Fifty-one weeks a year people look at me and see a hetero girl, no questions asked, no possible alternatives. One week a year I go a festival attended almost exclusively by queer women. For that week people don't assume I'm straight and that alone can seem like a very big deal.

But there's more to queer culture than just assumptions of course. Where else can I find resources on how to share this part of my life with my family? Where else is everyone really, truly interested in my safety if I should decide to publicly hold my partner's hand? If a female partner and I decide to adopt a child it's going to be the queer community sharing their experiences as same-sex parents and helping us protect our legal rights.

To sum it up: I think queer folks have some issues straight folks will never have to deal with. Hopefully these won't always be problems for queers either but, until that time comes, handling these issues is going to be a part of queer culture.

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"I'll memorize everything you do to me/So I can teach it when it comes my turn."
-- Semisonic, "Chemistry"

[This message has been edited by ookuotoe (edited 08-20-2003).]


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Heather
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So, I've sat on this for a little bit. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

Ultimately, I think where this post started highlights exactly why we sometimes tend to hit walls with queer culture: the author of the article linked criticizing it, analyzing it, is not a queer person.

That is not to say he may not have some things in common with other queer people. But what he does NOT have in common is that he is queer: that he has same-sex relationships, and lives a life having those relationships, out. And that's a very big difference. It's *the* difference.

We classify people by orientation for the same reasons we classify people by race, by gender, by socioeconomic status. Because these things are things that do make us different from one another, and because to make sense of the world, people tend to want order and classifications to logically group things, especially in such a full, populated world.

And there ARE differences. Same-sex sexual and romantic relationships are NOT identical, and in many cases dissimilar on many levels, to opposite-sex ones. Now, I'd posit that about 70-80% of those differences are because culture treats those relationships so differently. But at least another 20% is because the dynamics ARE different. They FEEL different, they operate differently, for a number of reasons. Many things tend to play out differently simply by virtue of how gender, gender roles and gender identities, gendered cultural mores, as well as simple physiology and biology, create variances.

As a queer person, I don't often want to read or hear my issues being discussed fro "my" perspective by a straight person (and I'll give you, I'm not sure this commentator was discussing anyone's issues but his own, and it reads like he was trying to feign a wider scope than he really had to cover the puff piece, not such a "hard look" at anyone's issues but his, if that, if ya ask me -- as well, I don't even know that I'd class something like Queer Eye as being solidly in queer culture: it's working with upwardly mobile fag culture, for sure, but it seems on many levels to actually be tailored to fag-hagging, more than anything else), or in straight culture, because more times than not, they're not about me, they're about them, projecting a whole lot.

I don't doubt that straight culture, as it were, exists, because when you aren't included in it in SO many ways, it stands out oin very sharp relief. The older I get, the more solid I become in my identity, the more obvious that becomes. When I watch mainstream films or TV, or read mainstream books or magazines, the couples are all heterosexual, with heterosexu issues and dynamics, unless we get a token gay couple because someone felt it was required for fairness. I can pick up any "women's" magazine and be told -- with the easy assumption that it's how I'm wired as a woman -- all I can do for the boyfriend or husband I have or want to have, for this man or that one. Neutral language isn't even attempted most of the time, because the assumption is that it is not needed: if I am a woman who is interested in fashion or makeup, I must not be a dyke, et cetera.

There are so, so many experiences in queer life that straight culture and media just cannot/will not address in a truthful, earnest and personal way. I'm not going to find, for instance, an article in Jane magazine or heck, Ms. or Bust, about how to deal with how straight men often react to lesbian women and relationships; about what that feels like, about how hard it can get. I'm not going to find dyke dating strategies in Nerve. I don't expect that Men's Health is going to address the prevalance of rising STIs besides HIV in regard to queer men, and much of the time whe things like that ARE shown in the media, it's with an "isn't that shocking about those aliens" timbre. The mishegoss earlier this year "reported" about gay men who chase HIV-positive ones down to try and get it, was apporached with shcok and awe and alarm, while for those who actually do, it is a MINISCULE number compared to say, the hoardes of straight folks who NEVER practice safer sex, or who put themselves in dangerous and abusive relationships knowing exactly what they're doing.

For that matter, I don't expect to see straight TV address what it really feels like to come out to your family as a gay man and then have the whole lot of them be cautious about touching your fork or glass for fear of getting AIDS from anything but the straight mother's perspective. When I read an article somewhere that talks about how easy it is for all single, atrractive women to get dates, I just have to laugh, because that's clearly not applied to those of us whose dating pool is about 5% of the population rather than 40%. Half the time I read about politicians who support queer issues in straight media in a positive way, it's presented as if they should get some sort of bleedin' medal for being so kind and open-minded to deign to include us lowly miscreants, not as the "duh" it should be when we're talking about including a sizable portion of the populace.

Now, I can make some translations, especially growing up as primarily bisexual and having had many opposite-sex relationships and partners, and because my whole life is not my sexual identity or my romantic relationships. Yet at the same time, that part of me IS sizable and wants/needs address and community, and that likes, now and then, to be in environments where I'm not the oddity, but the norm; where I'm not an exception being made, but a given. So, when I find good books and film from queer people, dealing with queer people well, I am even more moved, because not only does it apply to me, it is applied to me without heterosexual baggage, in earnest, and I feel communion and inclusion that I don't rarely feel. I cherish my queer friends who can understand some dynamics and issues and lifestyle things my het friends can only understand academically. And when my girlfriend dumps me on my ass and pulls out the dyke drama, or when I can't get a job because of my identity, or when I can't get stright men to stop seeing my dyke relationships as their personal pornography, I don't want to take those woes to heterosexual outlets a lot of the time, because I want to talk to someone, or find comfort in something, who/which has walked those miles in very similar shoes. That's not artificial: it's very, very real, the same way that many women would be more interested in reading women talking about feminist issues than men; the same way here at ST, we get a lot of young men feeling isolated because we cannot provide more male staff than we have.

And you'd be really hard pressed to find actively queer people who don't need and want at least some of that, and you're going to have a VERY hard time convincing me otherwise. And while I do want balance, I do want to decrease those lines some, I also recognize that to some degree, it's simply different, and that's just obvious when you're in it full-stop; or when you can't be/appear gay where you want to and straight somewhere else because it works best, because that identity is or becomes integral and constant. That given, I want queer culture and media, the same way that an African-American ofte wants culture that is theirs, the same way that men and women often like to have their own seprations, because I want to be able to explore my issues, to find support and communion with my own; with people who really know first-hand some of what I'm dealing with, rather than via projection.

Of course, like any "culture" queer culture can be flawed. And like any rather new culture and media, it has a long way to go, it has subsects within subsects, not all of which get the voice they should, not all of which are executed expertly.

And mostly, while I think I've said this here now in many ways, let me just sum up by saying it as simply as possible: queer and straight culture is not either/or, and if you're seeing it that way (or letting 'either" culture dictate what the other is), you're not looking hard enough. There are a million shades, a million degrees, and there is overlap a'plenty. But when it comes to sexual and romantic relationships, and some of what goes with them when they are a big part of your life, especially given the way anything BUT heterosexuality tends to most often be approached, a good deal of both clearly serve, in whole or in subset, different groups and populations, and to the level they are merely two separate things, one cannot replace the other, and both are vital.

I'm going to close this, primarily because I think it's run its course and is now flirting with just getting negative or defensive in all corners, and primarily because this area of the boards is intended as GLBT support, and to be frank, aspects of this post aren't feeling very supportive to me, and I'm making that call, for a number of reasons.

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

[Note: This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet]


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