My Open Letter to Bruce La Bruce got picked up by the Huffington Post.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Mr. La Bruce,
respond to my criticism of your earlier piece in Vice. I also feel that i owe you two apologies. The first for taking so long to respond. I know a week is an unforgivably long time on the Internets, but a recent move and the onset of the holidays have kept my hands full. The second is for somehow leaving you with the impression that i don’t think gay culture is worthy of criticism. Gay culture has some serious problems. The decline of gay bars, the rise of Grindr, and enemies. No, not the kids from Glee. Real enemies.
And while we are on the subject, I know you aren’t my enemy. I’ve always been a fan of your art, and while i suspect that you and i don’t share a definition of ‘satire,’ I have nothing but respect for you. Furthermore, while i might have trouble "getting (my)self dressed in the morning," it didn’t escape my attention that you were “merely launching a provocation.” But since only teenagers provoke for the fun of it, I naturally assumed trying to start a dialogue. I’ve risen to the bait, color me provoked.
I agree that our political class has become, with a few exceptions, a lamentable cadre of passionless assimilationists, begging for scraps at the Democratic table. But the Human Rights Campaign isn’t gay culture, and neither was Act Up before it. In every city in America (and i suspect, the western world) there are drag queens, DJs, artists, and performers busting their asses every day to make gay culture happen. And for you to airily decree gay culture to be dead is a kick in the face. You’ve basically told the generation of queer artists and activists who have come up behind you to give up and go home. (And since you stopped using ‘queer’ in the 90’s, i’m sure you won’t mind if we wear it for a while)
You deigned to “spell out” your position, so I will do what i can to clarify mine. When i suggested that your time, talent, and influence could be put to better use drawing attention to places around the world where gay lives and rights are in peril I didn’t mean “The East Village,”(zing!) I meant places like Russia where sweeping anti gay legislation could make it illegal to say nice things about gay people in front of children, I mean places like Uganda where man on man love may soon be a capital offence, and I mean places like parts of the United States, where if I spit on someone it can be considered assault with a deadly weapon, because i'm HIV positive. And when i imply that you might be better served touting gay artists and historical figures, I didn’t mean “Lady Gaga & Hitler” (double zing!), I was speaking of brilliant performers such as Justin Bond and Penny Arcade, writers like Gregory Maguire and Christopher Rice, film makers such as Travis Matthews and David Weissman, and an endless parade of of first class photographers, dancers, comedians, poets, musicians, DJs, and promoters.
And finally, when i say gay men and women should be fighting for the" freedom to be ourselves," I mean just that. We have spent the last thirty years pursuing an agenda of Equality, and we’ve made admirable, even near miraculous strides. Now we need to pivot to Freedom. Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Association, and the Right to Peaceably Assemble. SOPA should be just as important to the gay rights movment as DOMA. Ending the War on Drugs and the Criminalization of HIV should be priorities as high as the Right to Marry and ending DADT.
In short; If there is a Gay Agenda, let it be Liberty.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Recently, in Vice Magazine, beloved writer, photographer, and film maker, 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 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 sun glasses. The man has done his job; let him retire to a life of happy child rearing.
|(i'm glad you are a happy dad, but what is that kid wearing?)|
“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 who 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 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.