“Post gay” is an idea that seems to make folks really mad.
Neal Boulton, the incoming editor of Genre magazine has been making waves announcing a new era of post gay ness.
“There is nothing inherently gay any more about our interests, and I submit to you that we are people, not gay people — who are proud to be gay,” he boldly proclaimed in this first editorial.
Many irate readers and bloggers have denounced him, insisting that the world we live in still plenty gay. Typically, they point to the continuing absence of gay rights.
And of course, it’s hard to argue with those who point out that the fight for gay rights is far from over, particularly in the US.
Only one state has gay marriage. A few have civil unions. Many, on the other hand, many states have amended their constitutions to prevent either.
The US House of Representatives just passed a controversial bill called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect gay, lesbian and bisexual folks against being fired for their sexual orientation. In order to pass, the sponsors of the bill had to water it down, and take out any protection for trans folks. And the bill still faces an uphill battle. It has to pass the Senate (quite possible), and then, well, there’s that President. He gets to veto anything he doesn’t like. And he isn’t too fond of gay folks.
Let’s just be clear here: this is just a law that says that you can’t get fired for being gay. And it probably won’t pass.
Doesn’t sound very post gay.
What would a post-gay world look like? From a legal point of view, there would be same-sex marriage (or perhaps no marriage at all for anyone), gays folks would be protected against discrimination, and there wouldn’t be any laws left that distinguish between gay folks and straight folks. Sounds a little bit like Canada.
But, the debate about ‘post gay’ isn’t really about law, it’s about culture. It’s about whether a culture has begun to emerge that no longer so clearly distinguishes between things gay and things straight. Or between things gay and things mainstream.
It is certainly a truism that gay has moved into the mainstream. We are a marketing demographic, some would say a marketing dream with plenty of disposable income (leaving aside for the moment stereotypes that all gays are rich).
And gay stuff is all over the media these days.
Here are three totally unrelated gay-related things:
Dumbledore is gay.
Author JK Rowling outs Dumbledore, the heroic wizard of the Harry Potter series. The media and blogs sphere go crazy. Some cheer, others denounce.
The Castro Halloween parade is cancelled.
What was once the biggest gay celebration in the city was cancelled, in part because of a growing concern with violence. Last year a gun opened fire, wounding nine people. But others express anxiety that it is part of the gentrification of the once gay ghetto, as baby strollers and the Pottery Barn (both admittedly used by gay and straight alike) increasingly define the streetscape.
It’s Tila Tequila’s popular MTV reality dating show, ‘A Shot at Love,’ where 16 straight guys and 16 lesbians compete for Tila’s love. Apparently, none of the contestants knew of her bisexuality until the end of the first episode. Each episode sees a few voted off the island. It’s a little hard to imagine if you haven’t seen it: sexy babes a bit like soft-core porn, fighting, drinking, and making out. It’s very popular.
Is it gay or post-gay? It’s all pretty mainstream. And it’s all pretty different.
And it’s not just American. We read Harry Potter, and our media went crazy with it. The gay ghettos in Canadian cities are undergoing a similar identity crisis. And well, Tila’s MTV show crosses borders too.
The meaning of gay is changing. It no longer simply means outsider, although sometimes, it still means that. Sometimes, it’s no big deal (post gay?). But, being gay still gets your name in the paper if you are a character in a best selling children’s book, or a Republican outed in a sex scandal (not post gay).
There is still anti-gay violence in gay ghettos (not very post gay), at the same time as those ghettos are themselves changing (strollers & Pottery Barn = post gay?).
And as for the popularity of Tila the bisexual: It seems about as post gay as girl-on-girl porn. But, then again, it is on MTV, and it’s a dating show.
Gay or post gay? You decide.
But, there is definitely a debate. And it isn’t just about the law, since we are just as gay/post gay as our friends to the south.