Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Passing of Being "Other"

Nice front page article in today's NYTimes about the disappearance of gay ghettos all around the country as more gay people get (more or less) permanently joined in holy deadlock and move to the burbs where they have 1.9 gaybies, 2 Jack Russell terriers and His and His SUVs.

Not to mention the gayest restored Victorian in town. And a garden that's to die for.

And they garner the enmity of every red-blooded, straight, married-male in town who is constantly nagged by the wife "Why can't OUR place look that nice? The boys have invited us for brunch on Sunday. Wear decent clothes. I don't want you looking like crap, like you usually do."

There was a time, of course, when if you grew up in East Jeebus, or South Bumbutt, you spent your formative years YEARNING to escape to "the big city" be it on the west coast, or the east coast. Without a shred of evidence to support the idea, you just knew, deep down inside, that somewhere "out there" were others like yourself.

Not at home, though. In fact, we LGBTs are the only minority on earth that spend our formative years with nothing to identify with. When a black child comes home at the end of a day he or she generally has some black people to identify with. LGBT kids come home to a bunch of heterosexuals. The miracle is that more of us don't kill ourselves than already do.

So, if you were like me, you couldn't wait to escape. And escape I did. All the way from Wilmington, Delaware to New York City (about 126 miles from one end of the NJTurnpike to the other). And I did by way of Seattle.

Don't ask. I needed a change of scenery.

What surprised me most about Seattle, after I got over the 10 months of yearly darkness, was the huge gay community there (this was 1976, after all). By the fall of 1977 mayoral candidates came into the gay bars to press the flesh.

At the same time, in SF, the Castro was bulging with a burgeoning queer population. As was Greenwich Village, Key West, West Hollywood and The Big Easy, New Orleans.

When I moved to NY in the spring of 1978, you could barely walk down the sidewalks of Christopher Street on a Saturday night from Seventh Avenue to Hudson Street without having to step out into the street several times, due to the congestion on the sidewalks.

And then things changed. And people started dying. And bookstores and bathhouses started to close and people got scared and got into relationships and lived together "happily every after."

And the ghettos started to dry up and disappear. Christopher Street moved uptown, to Chelsea. I don't know what happened everywhere else. I no longer was everywhere else.

What happened, at long last, is what happened to every other immigrant group that found it's way to these shores. We started to assimilate. To move to the burbs with our gaybies and lovers and terriers and trucks.

And suddenly, the straight guys started hanging over the fences getting home makeover tips from the lesbians who moved in next door.

And the ghettos started to disappear. And the Evangelists started to look more and more like the dessicated dinosaurs they truly are.

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