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    Hello, stranger

    Occasionally, the Andrew Sullivan who inspired so many of us a decade ago reemerges to write a reflective, even-handed piece about gay issues. This is the latest. It’s a bit verbose, and the social-climby lens through which he views cultural life manifests itself frequently, but I’ll take a little A-list smugness over Bush-betrayed-me screechiness any day.

    Slowly but unmistakably, gay culture is ending. You see it beyond the poignant transformation of P-town: on the streets of the big cities, on university campuses, in the suburbs where gay couples have settled, and in the entrails of the Internet. In fact, it is beginning to dawn on many that the very concept of gay culture may one day disappear altogether. By that, I do not mean that homosexual men and lesbians will not exist–or that they won’t create a community of sorts and a culture that sets them in some ways apart. I mean simply that what encompasses gay culture itself will expand into such a diverse set of subcultures that “gayness” alone will cease to tell you very much about any individual. The distinction between gay and straight culture will become so blurred, so fractured, and so intermingled that it may become more helpful not to examine them separately at all.

    There’s much less psychological need now to define yourself against society when you figure out that you’re gay, and a lot of mainstream straight people would find it strange if you did. It was my half-dozen or so closest college friends, all straight, who convinced me to stop warring against my own identity and come out. The friends I feel most assertively gay around are a straight architect couple–I was delighted to learn earlier this week that they’re moving back to Tokyo from their home base in San Francisco–who are constantly joshing with me about my clothes and their friends in the Castro and the difficulty of getting the perfect piece of pottery for the entryway table. I don’t know that I’d take things as far as Sullivan does in that last sentence above, but the main point is a good one.

    One Response to “Hello, stranger”

    1. Gaijin Biker says:

      Similar issues face racial minorities, as well. It used to be that a black actor in the average Hollywood movie was simply the token “black guy”. But now, the fact that an actor is black tells you nothing about his role in a movie. He could be the hero, the villain, or anything in between.

      Gay actors — and gay men in general — will have achieved an important milestone when other people no longer think of them as “gay men”, but as men who just happen to be gay.

      That’s why I think identity politics is so regressive. It treats people as examples of a category, not as individuals.

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