Friday, June 22, 2012

Culture Clubbed

In an op-ed for the New York Times, David M. Halperin isn't buying the so-called death of gay culture -- which has supposedly created a new breed of gay "utterly indistinguishable from straight boys" -- nor does he think it's something we should aspire to anyway. 

He writes
The problem with such a claim — besides its denial of the Lady Gaga phenomenon — is that we’ve heard it for so many decades now that it can’t possibly be true. But let’s set aside whether the rumors of the death of gay culture are really true or greatly exaggerated. Why is it so important, particularly at this moment, that gay culture be pronounced, if not dead, then on its way out? Does the possibility of a distinct gay culture express the notion, now scandalous, that gay men might be different from other people? Does it challenge the myths of gay assimilation and gay ordinariness? 
Yes, all of the above. Gay men who play by the rules of straight society and conventional masculinity, and who don’t aspire to belong to any other way of life, are more acceptable, to themselves and to others. The last obstacle to complete social integration is no longer gay sex or gay identity, but gay culture. 
And yet gay culture is not just a superficial affectation. It is an expression of difference through style — a way of carving out space for an alternate way of life. And that means carving out space in opposition to straight society. ...
Instead of worrying that the feminine associations of diva worship, interior decorating or the performing arts may make gay male psychology look diseased, the real question we should ask about gay style is what its refusal of canonical masculinity achieves and what it enables its practitioners, straight or gay, to do. 
 Read on HERE.


Anonymous said...

Didn't we just switch places with straight culture? My straight friends live 'alternative' lifestyles, while my gay friends are obsessed with military service, marriage, and children! If it weren't for the whole liking sex with men thing I'd swear I was straight!

Henry Holland said...

What a poorly written, cliched article. I had/have zero interest in camp, drag, dead female movie stars or any of that and that doesn't make me any less interested or part of gay culture.

It's just the gay culture I've always been interested in is stuff like Britten's operas, Isherwood and Forster's and other gay writers' books, movies like "Parting Glances" and "Maurice" and so on, not some drag queen lip-syncing to a Diana Ross song.

I wonder where he'd place me: I love sports (I'm watching the England v. Italy football match as I type this) and all that but I know more about opera and ballet than 99% of gay men of any age. What box do I fit in, Mr. Halperin?

Poor guy, gay culture has moved along in a way he doesn't like so he uses a NYT op-ed to bitch about it.