Use Your Inches

By Bruce LaBruce

This is NOT a still from my transexual porn film. photo: Bruce LaBruce

Kids today. Honestly, how do they even dress themselves in the morning? I wrote a column last week declaring that gay culture is dead, and one poor young queer got his panties in such a bunch that he felt compelled to write a rebuttal in the Huffington Post (of all places--even though he claims in the piece that he doesn’t care what the status quo thinks of gay culture). He essentially argues that I shouldn’t be such a negative Princess Nancy and that gays should struggle to be “free to be themselves” (whatever that means).

It seems that since the 90s, when irony became the ideological Muzak permanently piped into the background of our culture, the youth of today have lost their bearings to such an extent that satirical writing has become almost indecipherable to them. Even though I went to great lengths in the column to indicate that I was merely launching a provocation, and I deliberately ended up obliquely comparing gay culture to luncheon meat (well, that part was pretty accurate), the HuffPo scribe took everything I said with painstaking seriousness. My advice to her, aside from avoiding writing for corporate publications that don’t pay, is to please choose your battles. That I have the temerity to critique gay culture, or even declare it dead, does not make me your enemy. Glee is your enemy.

Another, presumably young, “queer” (honestly, we stopped using that word in the 90s because it was too ideologically entrenched) assailed me on Twitter, suggesting that I’m missing the boat, that the “queer/trans movement is the contemporary equivalent of 70s liberation.” Really. I don’t even know where to begin. Putting aside for a moment that I just personally premiered a short porn film featuring two F-M transsexuals at the 5th Annual Porn Film Festival in Berlin, and that I’ve been working with transgendered artists since the 80s, you might recall that it was the “trannies” (yes, I’m aware that the term is politically incorrect) who were in the trenches of the gay struggle in the late sixties and seventies, throwing stones at Stonewall and generally causing gender havoc. Honestly, have some respect for your gay antecedents, because they’re probably a lot more insurgent than you are.

I hate myself for doing this (it’s an imperative of gay culture that if you criticize it you must be self-loathing), but I’m going to have to spell out my position. Then I can get back to what I really want to write about for VICE, like the new radical youth movement of inserting vodka-soaked tampons in either orifice, and butt-chugging. (Oh wait, somebody already wrote about that, on The Huffington Post.)

By declaring gay culture dead, what I was getting at was that the assimilationist movement has in a sense already killed it. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s time to move on to something else. The motto of the gay movement lately has been to claim the right to be as bland and boring and conservative as the mainstream, hardly a viable strategy of liberation. There should be a way to access equal rights and parity under the law for homosexuals without insisting on buying wholesale into the most conservative institutions of society. It's been a disaster for the idea of the homosexual as rebel spirit, or as an alternative to the conventions and habits of the dominant ideology. The gay movement in the past was also solidly leftist, but now it’s largely neo-liberal and even conservative, distancing itself from its fringe or extreme elements to the point of adopting moralistic and judgmental positions towards the very freaks that fought for gay liberation in the first place. In that sense, the oppressed have truly become the oppressors, with a vengeance.

Even back in the 80s I abandoned the gay movement because it had become hopelessly bourgeois and assimilationist. A middle class, white male majority has always controlled the gay movement in the west; racial minorities and women and transgendered people have always been marginalized within the community. The very early roots of the gay movement had a class and race consciousness, when these oppressed minorities recognized an affinity and solidarity with each other, but that was a long, long time ago. Sadly, now, we’re back in Kansas.

Finally, this HuffPo pipsqueak suggested that I should use my “column inches” (ahem) “to tout queer artists and gay historical figures” (you mean like Lady Gaga and Hitler?), and to draw attention to “places around the world where gay rights are imperiled” (the East Village??). Faggot, please. When I showed my “gay films” in Zagreb five years ago, I had to have a police escort for each screening, and I also had to have somebody to protect me from the police! Last year I showed a gay zombie gorn in Moscow (at a straight film festival), hardly the most faggot-friendly destination in the world. And several years back I walked alongside die-hard political activists at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, which was more like a political rally protected by a military presence. At the end of the short parade route, extremely hot and very young Orthodox Jewish boys threw stones and insults, but fell short of the bomb in the car trunk that was found the year before. I’m very well aware of the disparity between advances in gay liberation in various international cultures. So please, don’t tell me how to use my inches.

Previously: Gay Culture Is Dead

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