Gay Gay Gay… Yay!

It’s odd… I have had the luxury over most of my adult life of spurning the idea of a “gay community” as something that I was alienated from and wanted nothing to do with. I felt a huge superiority complex over most homosexuals who felt the need to spend a large portion of their lives (specifically their social lives) in the presence of other homosexuals.

On the one hand I still feel this way - I feel that if I’m to have any sort of sustainable and productive life that the majority of people I meet will be straight, since the majority of people are straight. I also am still somewhat anti-social and socially inept and the idea of going to any of the events or gatherings that typify ‘gay life’ makes me shudder with dread. On the other hand, I’ve started to see that most homos have sort of ‘come of age’ with the advent of partial large-scale tolerance and the recent issue of same-sex marriage and partnership rights.

This makes me feel like I need to start being a bit more conscientious about my obligations to defend the rights and freedoms we have as humans for other homos. Maybe it was just a long bout of internalized homophobia over what I saw as the trivialization of life by the “live fast die young” party-obsessed contingent of the gay community. I came to see this stereotype as indicative of gay-identified individuals in general.

But I have started to change my mind. Five million Californians came out and voted to protect the civil rights of their fellow citizens, gay or straight. The issue of marriage has mobilized the largest gay civil rights movement in American history, and mobilized more Americans behind gay rights than ever. Despite my own ambivalence over the institution of marriage and the wishy-washy separation between religious and civil rights it dredges up, I think this has shown me that my own isolation from the ‘gay community’ has blinded me to the diversity of homosexuals as individuals, and the threats to my own safety and happiness implied by the implementations of laws specifically targeting people and behavior which describe me.

And this realization has, more than anything, made me realize what a horrible job I’ve done defending my own rights. I’ve been a free rider, feeling that I had no responsibility to go to Pride marches or freedom demonstrations because all I wanted to do was be a happy middle class normal domestic queer, not a big raver who walks down the street with my shirt off and waving my arms over my head. Internalized homophobia could be defined by this attitude.

And it also makes me realize that the whole rave-party culture is something that, to some extent homos need to counter the persistent prejudices of daily living. The discotheque has played a role similar to the black churches of the south, where refuge was found that meant “different” didn’t have to register on the radar for a while.

Because homos are still ‘different’, even to the friends, family and coworkers that march with us and vote in favor of our rights. Just like black people are still ‘different’ from white people in everyday life. America elected a black president, and no one is being color-blind, they’re just expressing appreciation that they elected a black man with some good ideas and a lot of charisma. To that end, even when gay rights are persistent, deep and widespread throughout American society, homos will always be different and some people won’t let us into their homes or be comfortable electing a president whose first spouse has the same erogenous equipment.

To draw some late summary to this rambling rant, I guess my point is that I’m sorry for being a free-rider on the gay rights movement. In exploring how I can improve myself and my world, and the prospects for both, one thing that stands out is that I need to accept a greater share of the responsibility to protect and grow the lives of my community, whether it’s a community created by living near one another, knowing one another personally, or sharing a common need for change.

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