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A couple of new collections of my essays are about to be published as e-books. One of them is The Marrying Kind, which brings together a few dozen of my essays about gay life and gay rights, the earliest dating back to 1994. It should be available on Amazon.com some time within the next few days. Here are some excerpts:
What these reactions signify to me is a powerful tendency among some homosexuals to recoil reflexively from the vision of an America where gays live as full and open members of society, with all the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of heterosexuals. Many gay people, indeed, have a deep, unarticulated fear of that metaphorical place at the table. This is understandable: gay people, as a rule, are so used to minimizing their exposure to homophobia, by living either in the closet or on the margins of society, that for someone – even a fellow gay person – to come along and invoke an image of gay America sitting openly at a table with straight America can seem, to them, like a hostile act.
– “The Stonewall Myth,” New Republic, June 13, 1994
“Stonewall 25,” exulted a friend after the march in June , “saw the last gasp of the radical gay left.” Perhaps. Certainly things are changing dramatically. Left-wing gay groups are floundering; the Log Cabin Republicans grow apace. While the gay left seems increasingly barren intellectually and unable to distinguish tactics from strategy, moderate gay voices are being raised and listened to. Unable or unwilling to address the important questions that openly gay moderates are raising, gay-left honchos have chosen instead to paint us dishonestly as a bunch of bigoted, reactionary, self-serving, upper-class conformists.
Last spring in Gay Community News, Urvashi Vaid lodged a by-now-familiar complaint: “By aspiring to join the mainstream rather than continuing to figure out the ways we need to change it, we risk losing our gay and lesbian souls in order to gain the world.” But nobody’s “aspiring to join” the mainstream; the point is that most gays live in that mainstream. What Vaid apparently hasn’t been able to reconcile to her worldview is the emergence from the closet and from political silence of increasing numbers of gays whose politics differ dramatically from her own. The more visible such people become, the clearer it will be how out of touch many gay-left leaders are with the majority of those whom they claim to represent.
– “The Road to Utopia,” The Advocate, September 20, 1994
Nor are we clear among ourselves about the goals of the gay rights movement. Do we want social acceptance and respect, equal rights under the law, sexual liberation, increased self-esteem, Marxist utopia? All of the above? Or do we simply want to vent our anger at society, get the rage out of our system? Is the movement’s role to provide gays (or, perhaps, the world generally) with a more ambitious vision of sexual pleasure or human relations than that reflected in the relationships of our parents? Or do we just want an excuse to throw condoms at priests or run naked up Fifth Avenue?
– “Confusion Reigns,” The Advocate, October 18, 1994
Take James Wolcott, who in a 1989 issue of Vanity Fair ridiculed David Leavitt's novel Equal Affections for presenting “a gay version of that nice young couple down the block.” Gays, Wolcott made it clear, should be “sexual outlaws.” That review was an early salvo in what has since become an assault on “gays next door” by straight liberals who often don’t see how offensive they’re being. Consider an editorial in the New York Times that appeared in June on the morning of the Stonewall 25 march. After declaring support for gay rights, the editorial criticized “gay moderates and conservatives” for seeking “to assure the country that the vast majority of gay people are ‘regular’ people just like the folks next door.”
– “The Folks Next Door,” The Advocate, November 15, 1994