Recently, in Vice Magazine, beloved writer, photographer, and filmmaker Bruce LaBruce wondered aloud that "gay culture is dead" (no, not "wondered if"... go read the title). And by the time I had finished reading, I was fuming.
It's not his hunger for attention that I object to. No one likes to tell the world how awesome I am more than I do, and I'd never begrudge that same quality in someone else. And let's leave aside, for the moment, that he is a gay artist who makes gay art for a primarily gay audience (and is able to sell enough of that art to finance a trip to Italy). And let's leave aside how unfocused the piece is, meandering from Jersey Shore to Italian dietary restrictions to speculating on the sex lives of individual members of the Catholic clergy. His entire argument seemingly rests on the fact that Elton John isn't a rebel anymore and/or that he never made another album as good as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John had the temerity to be successful, fall in love, and get old. Good for Elton John! He pushed envelopes, he broadened minds, and he wore a dizzying array of ridiculous sunglasses. The man has done his job; let him retire to a life of happy child rearing.
If you think our people are broadly moving in the wrong direction, as I often do, you have a responsibility to not only get out in front of the crowd and tell them they're going the wrong way, but to show them the right way to go. He could have used those column inches to tout any number of amazing queer artists, gay historical figures, or places around the world where gay rights are imperiled. Instead he chose to talk about what he ate on his vacation and disparage homos who want to be parents. But this is the quotation that irritated me the most:
"The engine of the gay movement used to be an idea of adventurous and extreme sexuality. Gay culture itself was regarded by the status quo as something pornographic and sexually radical."
First of all, I couldn't care less what the status quo thinks about gay culture. The status quo is what keeps Two and a Half Men a Neilson darling year after year. And second, the engine of the gay movement shouldn't be about whom and how we fuck, but whom and how we love. And before I am tarred with the brush of being a "gay conservative," I would like to state for the record that I am all about adventurous and extreme sexuality. I spent three years in a three-way relationship with two other men, I've had sex on film, and I have spent the last two years throwing a party best known for the carnal shenanigans of its back room (also, very good music?). My bona fides as a sexual radical are kind of unassailable. But it's not the sex we should be fighting for but the freedom to be ourselves.