In 1999’s The End of Gay, writer Bert Archer predicted homosexuals were all about to buy one-way tickets on the integration bandwagon, leaving their radical roots in favour of the straight world’s stamp of approval.
A decade and a half later, one might say he was half right. For every monogamous, middle class gay couple raising kids, there’s a group of polyamorous, genderless queers starting an activist art collective. And Coming Out Queer has something to say to both camps. Presented by Raymond Helkio, Reg Hartt, Keith Cole and Rolyn Chambers, Coming Out Queer is an evening of conversation, performance and film celebrating some of the freakiest flags flying today.
Daily Xtra caught up with the team to chat about whether “gay” is really ending, what they want the next generation to know and the going price for a bag full of back hair.
Daily Xtra: It’s been over 15 years since The End of Gay. How do you think Archer’s predictions have held up?
Raymond Helkio: Having the same rights as everyone else doesn’t mean we have to be like everyone else. Our community has changed its battle cry from “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” to “Do you like our pretty parade?” We need to ask ourselves if the trade-off is worth it.
Keith Cole: That book pissed a lot of people off. But I agreed with him then and I agree with him now. The people he pissed off were the ones who wished they’d written it. Jealousy is a harsh mistress.
How would you explain to younger gay men the importance of what you’re doing?
Cole: I can’t believe the malaise younger guys feel to anything political. They’re often super conservative, hating the baths, loving Hillary Clinton and instantly jumping on the Facebook bandwagon of “Je Suis Charlie.”
Helkio: We’re presenting an evening that lets the audience experience boundary pushing first hand. Fighting for our rights and being different is what made gay people exceptional in the first place. From a heteronormative perspective, we’re turning our backs on the very thing that makes us unique.
So what can people expect from the evening?
Helkio: We’re screening Nobody Knows Freedom, a short by me, featuring Donnarama portraying controversial characters, along with performances by Pepper Highway, Magina Hurts and Miss Butter.
Cole: I’m showing my 1997 classic Nancy Boy Versus Manly Woman. It’s German-phobic. It has a black-face butler named Chokey. There are some gay bashing lines and a hint of inter-species sex.
Helkio: The evening may include an appearance by Linda Blair’s bed and a black guy doing ginger face. I also have a Ziploc bag of Donnarama’s back hair that we’re auctioning off. Bidding starts at $0.99, which is a steal, considering how much you’re getting.