Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The End of the Gay Ghetto

Joe of JoeMyGod posted a piece yesterday about the slow death of the gay-bar scene throughout America. He raised some good points about a loss of a piece of our gay culture and history.

But it also signals the beginning of the end of the ghettoization of gay people. For better or worse. And you can feel either way about that, and that’s fine.

When I came out, a process that I started as a teenager in the early 60’s, all I wanted to was to “fit in.” I wanted to be like everybody else (except for my family, who were drunks and idiots). I wanted to meet other people “like me” but I didn’t want to have to skulk about in back alleys in search of dark, unmarked, bars in order to find them. I didn’t think I should have to do that.

I knew that God had made me, that God didn’t make garbage and that I was no “mistake.” I also seriously doubted that some Jewish virgin had squeezed God’s baby through her Poo-nanny. So that was the end of me and Catholicism and the beginning of me and my fabulously queer self.

Eventually, though, I did skulk down back alleys into dark bars in order to find others like myself. I even had a lot of fun in those places. But they were always redolent of “shameful hideaways” where out-of-towners from Pissant, Utah, on the prowl in the Big Cities of the East and West Coasts, could get a little same-sex nookie while “on a business trip”, secure in the knowledge that the wife and/or hubby remained safely tucked away back home, where they belonged. Out of sight and definitely out of mind … for the evening.

And for that reason, these joints also often smacked of self-loathing. I never knew how self-loathing I was until I started looking at my past behavior as a gay person and in terms of all my destructive addictions. Booze, drugs, cigarettes, rampant sex… all of them overindulged in to the point of doing serious physical damage to myself.

Then I got sober. And I started peeling away the layers of denial about what I’d done and the reasons why I’d done it. And I saw the self-loathing that lay beneath it all.

So, if we’re moving to a “post-gay” world, where we’re as common as the next door neighbors and it’s just as cool for gay people to cruise each other at the supermarket as it is for Hets to do it, then so be it. I embrace it. In fact, I believe the whole point of the “movement” over the past 38 years has been to get us to this point.

When I sobered up and started feeling better about myself it seemed that my need to constantly reassure myself of my inherent worthiness started to disappear. I began realizing just how cheaply I’d sold myself into the bondage of addictions in the past.

I hope I’m sober enough now to recognize it if I ever start killing myself again.

1 comment:

Marissa said...

You write very well.