Showing posts with label Gay History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay History. Show all posts

October 7, 2018

"The Diner Closed" New York Gay History

When I saw this article at ATlas Obscura my mind went back to 1982. We had a republican president called Reagan who seemed to having problems with his memory and The Soviet Union was our primary enemy. Has anything changed? Yes, 69 R&L is no longer in NYC or anywhere for that matter. When in my early twenties I used to hang out in the area. It had become my gay kindergarten, as I grew up starting to have the knowledge that I was gay and was gay wether I knew it or admit to it or not.This is where I could learn what gays did and behave. I mostly grew up all the way east-downtown and there was nothing gay down there.

The last time I went to the diner which it was always over 3am, I found myelf when the bill came , without any money. The last $5 or $10 had slipped out from my socks or maybe I forgot and put it in my back pocket which means it would not be there because thats where guys that pass or bumped into you touched. Not to admire your backside but looking for paper or leather in a for of a wallet. 

I was always served by a pretty polite Russian girl with a heavy accent. She was always so sweet to me and I just loved here. Had I not been gay I would have dated her. I told her what happened and told her I would do the dishes, mop the floor, what ever. She told me not to talk like that and to wait a minute.  She went took care of another table and dissapeareared for a few minutes. I figured she most be telling her boss about me. What an embarrassement! I even had scored with someone in the restaurant who kept looking at me and I went and sat on his table (I was cockly but in this situation  I had no reason to be) I made friends with the guy even though he seemed to be one of those new hell kitchen guys, ususally german and sounding Democrat but in fact they were Republicans. They loved the law and order talking points. I never talked politics, being gay was enough for me to handle.

She came back and put some money on my table. She said this for the the bill and for you to get home. I could not say thank you enough. Told her I will pay her next weekend when I came back.
As a matter of fact I went back once and told she was no lonnger there. I was so upset. Now I would have that debt open with ssomeone who was poor for ever.. What a shame! 

Some years forward after staying with someone on East Midtown I showed up at cafeteria looking for breakfast. I went in to this open early restaurant and guess who was the my waiteress?
What a delight! She told me about what she was doing and I told her I worked in the neighborhood and that I will be back to see her. I would love to take her out to dinner if her boyfriend did't mind. She said no boyfriend..What a shame I thought. I tipped her enough to settled my debt even though she said to fortget about that. I left hoping to come back but I was promoted at work and could no longer full around during the week and on weekend I had somebody.

I never went back, not long after that my company reconverted into office building and condos. I ended up getting work way out of Manhattan.

Iam sure there many stories like mine. You can send them to me and I will try to publish them. 
I think you will enjoy reading after this gay landmark. 🦊Adam


Florent Morellet stands in front of his restaurant, Florent, formerly standing at 69 Gansevoort Street.
Florent Morellet stands in front of his restaurant, Florent, formerly standing at 69 Gansevoort Street. ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

IN THE 1980S, LOWER MANHATTAN’S Meatpacking District began moving from its industrial slaughterhouse roots. The advent of mass refrigeration and affordable transportation now allowed restaurants and markets to order meat from all around the country. Though meat butchers, packers, and distributors still worked in the area, many abattoirs were disappearing.
As the neighborhood transformed, its cobblestoned streets began to see fresh faces. Drowsy butchers weren’t the only people out on Gansevoort Street—the Meatpacking District’s main artery—during the wee morning hours. Partygoers, revelers, and sex workers, many of whom were gay or transgender, joined them.
In light of the horrific AIDS epidemic, gay communities in and around Manhattan found camaraderie wherever they could throughout the 1980s. Drag balls dominated scenes in Harlem. Around Chelsea, the likes of Michael Alig and the Club Kids hosted decadent themed parties. And in the Meatpacking District, members of counterculture communities, as well as people who worked in the area, gathered at Florent Morellet’s eponymously-named diner. Stepping inside Florent’s plastic strip curtains, patrons could often hear tinkling piano, French chansons, and laughter. People sat in snug vinyl banquettes, digging into soupe l’oignon, moules marinières, and tripe.  
 Morellet, a Frenchman who’d come to New York in the late 1970s, opened Florent in 1985. His new brasserie replaced an old-fashioned diner named the R&L, complete with a wraparound Formica counter and chrome siding. Morellet did little to change those original details. He added framed maps, strung up fairy lights, and tinted the overhead fluorescent lights pink. Despite the physical resemblance to its predecessor, Florent’s menu was far different from the R&L’s, which had mainly been a spot for longshoremen to grab a quick sandwich or coffee. 69 Gansevoort Street became a place to taste traditional French foods and eat a classic American breakfast, with a bevy of people noshing in neighboring booths.

Marta Mooney reads the newspaper while sitting at Florent.
Marta Mooney reads the newspaper while sitting at Florent. ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Florent didn’t initially open a restaurant with the intention of becoming “the patron saint of the meatpacking district,” as New York Magazine put it. After unsuccessfully opening a restaurant in Paris, followed by years of managing one in SoHo, Morellet gave the business another shot with Florent. The denizens of late-night Gansevoort began to stream in, and word spread quickly. “I used to go there in between bars, when I was out with my friends, doing drugs and cruising,” longtime regular and renowned fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said. “Then I’d end up at Florent the next day for a serious lunch meeting and all the same people were there, kind of smiling in secret.” By early 1986, The New York Times had dubbed it “one of the hottest spots in town.”
Florent was never exclusive. From the jump, the locale welcomed everybody: Local butchers, sex workers, drag queens, and clubgoers broke bread together there throughout the night. Even as the restaurant became more popular, Florent and his staff ensured that their regulars were taken care of. He even opened a secret phone line so locals could make reservations.
In 1987, life changed for Morellet: He was diagnosed with HIV. As the disease ravaged gay communities, many friends urged him to stay quiet about his status, thinking it would ruin his business. Instead, he began to put his daily T-cell count on the bottom of his specials menu, a radical act that both fostered openness and created a sense of community for others facing the same diagnosis. He also became deeply invested in other causes, including the “right to die” movement, along with gay rights issues, and organized bus trips to national protests in Washington, D.C.
As a part of the “right to die” movement, Morellet also began passing living wills out to his customers. In an uncertain time of grief and terror, he helped others grapple with it, even when he was dealing with his own fears. Shortly after his diagnosis, he became sick with hepatitis and was told he had two years to live.
31 years later, he’s living in Brooklyn. Over that time, he’s lost many loved ones, including his husband, Daniel Platten, to AIDS. Throughout this time, Morellet remained an activist for others. POZ Magazine, a publication geared towards people living with HIV and AIDS, invited New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS to Florent in 2004. Its 10th anniversary cover featured 100 people, all naked, embracing in the restaurant. Morellet is among the group, with his specials board in view.

One of Florent's specials board, with his T-cell count at the bottom.
One of Florent’s specials board, with his T-cell count at the bottom. NICHOLAS ROBERTS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Over time, Florent became a sanctuary for those who were different, for transplants, and people who had been cast out by their families. Sean Strub, the editor of POZ and longtime friend of Morellet’s, once told The New York Times about his first visit to Florent. “The restaurant was lit up and … it looked almost like a mirage,” he said. “It felt magical. I remember the tables were very, very close together, so you were sort of seated automatically with strangers. There was a sense of discovery. I was there with three friends. They are all since deceased.”
Florent Morellet wasn’t the only queer pioneer on Gansevoort Street in the 1980s. A droll, curious man named Nelson Sullivan lived nearby, on the corner of 9th Street with his dog, Blackout. Nelson, a expat from South Carolina, knew practically everybody in New York nightlife and devoted his time to recording their lives on his video camera. Throughout the 1980s, he amassed thousands of hours of footage, most of which are available to view on YouTube. His videos include dozens of familiar faces: His closest friend is a young RuPaul. In one video, he visits Keith Haring’s apartment, and in another, he brings homemade prune cake to Michael Alig’s birthday. Before the 1987 Gay Pride Parade, he documented eating dollar slices with Michael Musto.
Aside from being an early vlogger, Nelson became an important chronicler of gay and alternative communities during a turbulent and terrifying time. Many of the subjects of his films, and Nelson himself, didn’t live to see the 1990s. He immortalized people during quiet moments, sometimes eating together at the likes of Florent. In one of Nelson’s videos, we see a 10-minute peek into a night at Florent with Christina Superstar, a frequent subject of his films. (Some may remember Marilyn Manson’s portrayal of her in the 2003 cult film Party Monster)Nelson’s evocative filming style transports viewers directly from a cold, dark Manhattan street into Florent. There, Nelson and Christina order oatmeal, a cheddar omelette, and French fries. The smoke from Christina’s cigarette swirls around the counter. She smiles and laughs, clearly comfortable in this space.
Before coming to New York, Christina lived in Pittsburgh and worked as an English teacher. When she came out as transgender, her family paid her to stay far away. She relocated to Manhattan, where she met Michael Alig and became a part of his Club Kid crew. She became notorious for her fake German accent, flash of bleach blonde hair, and red lipstick. She was often treated poorly by other people in the scene, but Nelson seemed to really care about her. Christina passed away in 1989. That same year, Nelson died of a heart attack.
Ten days after Nelson’s passing, Florent threw a party to lift local spirits. He threw a Bastille Day celebration, in time for the 1989 French bicentennial. He urged partygoers to attend in costume pour la révolution, and he came decked out in full Marie Antoinette garb. The soirée soon ballooned into a yearly street party, and every July 14th, hundreds of revelers squeezed onto Gansevoort.

Someone holds up a sticker of Florent's film at New York's Gay Pride March in 2011.
Someone holds up a sticker of Florent’s film at New York’s Gay Pride March in 2011. BOSS TWEED / CC BY 2.0

As the years went by, Florent’s following grew, and the restaurant developed different traditions and quirks. The daily specials board began displaying jokes, puns, and witty observations above his ever-present T-cell count. Celebrities including Julianne Moore, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Depp, and Diane Von Furstenberg streamed through on a regular basis, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw, famously dined there on Sex and The City. Throughout it all, Florent never ceased to be a haven for gay communities.
By 2008, the Meatpacking District had completely transformed, with old slaughterhouses becoming expensive boutiques. Faced with increasingly unaffordable rent, Morellet made the difficult decision to close after a brief dispute with his landlord.
As the end of the restaurant loomed, Morellet threw a series of parties themed around the five stages of grief. Each stage was marked with a week-long event that featured performances, a packed restaurant, and plenty of reminiscing. “New York is about change,” Morellet told his patrons during the “Denial” party. “Sometimes it’s good in life to be kicked out,” as he said in the 2008 documentary Florent: Queen of The Meat Market. “… A better word is ‘I’m being kicked forward.’” It’s a touching sentiment coming from somebody who created a home for so many people who had lost their own.
Since closing his restaurant, Morellet has urged his loyal customers to not cling to the “terrible disease known as nostalgia.” He doesn’t have plans to open a new restaurant, and is happy to let Florent remain a beloved memory. Now, he’s focusing on other passions, including his work in activism, artwork, and cartography.
Florent officially closed over Pride weekend in 2008. Longtime locals and artists performed, gave speeches, and sang the praises of a man who fostered communities during a time when people struggled to survive. There, he was presented with a cake (fittingly decorated as Marie Antoinette), which he cut and served through laughter and tears.

August 28, 2018

McCain Went From Opponent to Advocate of the LGBT Community

Republican Sen. John McCain, who once called the vote to allow gays to serve openly in the military a “sad day,” is now, just eight years later, emerging as a firewall against GOP efforts to erode LGBT protections in the hotly debated defense reauthorization bill.
Congress is poised for a showdown over a slate of measures focused on LGBT rights attached to the defense funding measure that, among other things, could allow religious organizations with federal contracts to be exempted from federal guidelines barring sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has a measure that doesn’t include the exemptions - a move that is being lauded by gay rights groups.
Image: John McCain
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

“McCain changed because much of the country has shifted including the GOP,” said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “Support for LGBT rights is incredibly strong and even within the military opinion has changed dramatically in recent years. In part, ‘don't ask, don't tell, a watered down compromise, opened the door for new attitudes and more reform. McCain has adjusted to these changes and as the leader of the Armed Services Committee has a powerful position to act as a firewall.”
The discussion on LGBT-related amendments to the defense policy bill comes less than a week after a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando in a shooting spree that left 49 dead and 53 others injured. The fact that the LGBT community was so directly targeted in the deadliest mass shooting in American history has brought into focus heated Congressional debate over protections against discrimination. 
Last month, the House floor erupted in chaos after an amendment aimed at preventing federal contractors from getting government bids if they discriminate against members of the LGBT community failed to pass by one vote. Members of the Republican-controlled House convinced fellow party members to change their votes to block t 
The change in McCain’s tone on gay rights is notable.
In just under a decade, the seasoned lawmaker and decorated Vietnam War veteran went from being reviled by the LGBT community for his impassioned opposition to gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly to supporting Eric Fanning, who is openly gay, in his historic bid to become secretary of the Army.
In April, McCain took to the Senate floor to plead with his friend and colleague, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, to lift his hold on Fanning’s confirmation (2016 picked by then Pres.Obama)
Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning
Secretary of the Army, Eric FanningUSAF

"It is not fair to the men and the women of the United States Army to be without the leadership of a secretary of the Army," McCain said on the Senate floor. "Mr. Fanning is eminently qualified to assume that role of secretary of the Army. So I would urge my friend and colleague to allow me to… to not object to the unanimous consent that I am just proposing."
Roberts eventually lifted his hold, which he said was related to concerns he had over Guantanamo Bay detainees being possibly moved to the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military installation. 
McCain was also one of only a handful of Republicans to support a measure to block job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender orientation. And he was vocal in his criticism of an Arizona measure to allow religious exemptions for businesses to refuse services to gays and lesbians.
McCain is faced a tough re-election challenge from Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat. In previous elections years, lawmakers have tended to vote on the defense bill after the general elections.
“McCain in a tough re-election race, as he needed to broaden his coalition whenever he can. Discrimination against gays is now a big loser politically in most states, and that even includes Arizona - which is not nearly as conservative as it used to be,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
Still, gay rights advocates and their allies say they are buoyed by McCain’s repositioning.
“We are seeing a swiftly growing number of people who had opposed LGBT rights based on their fiscal or national security views as part of a conservative package or worldview, like Senator McCain, de-link their fiscal or military positions from others' social conservative, anti-LGBT views and goals,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel and director of Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project.
“This is an immensely important potential realignment not only in Congress but in state legislatures and many other venues. We often see these shifts in brightest light during election seasons. And sometimes they lead to civil rights progress thereafter. That, of course, is the goal," Pizer added.
NBC News-History on LGBT

July 14, 2018

1772 and The macaroni Gay Trial Scandal A Century before Oscar Wilde

                                                                       Image result for 1770 macaroni trail

Much derision was directed toward aesthetes in the late 19th century, who, led by Oscar Wilde, declared their devotion to beauty in all its forms. That moment in the history of men and their fashions is remembered today because of the fate of Wilde, imprisoned for what was then the crime of “gross indecency”. But this was not the first sensational trial of a high-profile homosexual. That had happened long before, such as in the notorious “macaroni” case of 1772. 
Over the centuries, all manner of dandies have attempted to make their place in society. Wilde’s predecessor, George Bryan “Beau” Brummellbecame an arbiter of men’s fashion in Regency England despite his obscure social origins and lack of interest in women. Part of the secret of his success was his cultivation of a refined but understated style that avoided the kind of flashiness that could get a man condemned for “effeminate” flamboyance. 
In the 1760s and 1770s, there was an explosion of public interest in the “macaronis”, fashionable society gents who were given that name because, in the eyes of the penny press of the day, they committed such cardinal sins as rejecting good old English roast beef for dainty foods from continental Europe – such as pasta. Those finicky eaters, who also sported excessive French fashions in clothing, were in some ways the predecessors of Wildean aesthetes, but they have largely been forgotten today.
Wilde, by contrast, is remembered because of his talent and for the way he was treated by the British legal system. In the 1980s and 1990s, he became a kind of “gay icon” with a new relevance to a generation struggling with the horrors of the AIDS epidemic. His disgrace at the end of the 19th century was reinterpreted as a kind of queer martyrdom that presaged later struggles for lesbian and gay liberation.

Queer theory

Enthusiasm for Wilde on the part of lesbian and gay activists in the late 20th century was connected to the rise of a new form of cultural and literary analysis known as “queer theory”. This development was heavily influenced by the work of the French philosopher Michel Foucault on the ways in which textual discourse operates. The focus was no longer on identifying gay men or lesbians in past centuries but on identifying when and why those terms were used. 
It was this thinking that led the prominent scholar of Alan Sinfield, a leading British queer theorist, to identity the Wilde trials of 1895 as a “queer moment” when dandyism became linked with same sex desire. 

Print: ‘How d'ye like me’, Carington Bowles, London, 1772.

The stereotypical proto-homosexual man emerged as a being that was attracted to younger men, who was theatrical rather than understated, effeminate rather than manly, and artistic rather than sporting. But it was not true that Wilde became obvious as a homosexual during the course of his trial – for the simple reason that the term “homosexual” was not reported in the British media until the time of another scandal, that surrounding the Prussian Prince of Eulenburg, that unfolded between 1906 and 1909.
And the fact is that Wilde was far from the first allegedly effeminate “sodomite” or “bugger” – and here I use terms that were widely employed at the time – to be disgraced in court.

The scandal of Captain Jones

Hester Thrale (1741 - 1821) was a member of the literary circle surrounding the famous encyclopediast Dr Samuel Johnson. She kept a fascinating diary in which she noted a wide variety of sexual foibles and eccentricities in the society circles of her time. She had a striking ability to recognise homosexuals (both male and female). Thus, in the entry for March 29, 1794 she discussed “finger-twirlers” as being a “decent word for sodomite”. In one passage, recorded in late March or early April 1778, she recalled the time six years earlier when a certain Captain Jones had been convicted of crimes against nature, and sentenced to die: 
He was a Gentleman famous for his Invention in the Art of making Fireworks, and adapting Subjects fit to be represented in that Genre; & had already entertained the Town with two particular Devices which were exhibited at Marylebone Gardens & greatly admired: viz: the Forge of Vulcan in the Cave of Mount Etna, & the calling of Eurydice out of Hell – If he is pardoned says Stevens, He may shew off the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; it will have an admirable Effect.
Jones was a man of fashion in society who had been convicted at the Old Bailey for sodomising a 13-year-old boy. The link that Thrale made between camp dandyism and same sex scandal was rife in the papers of the time. As one correspondent put it in a letter to the Public Ledger on August 5, 1772, Captain Jones was “too much engaged in every scene of idle Dissipation and wanton Extravagance”. He was referred to as this “MILITARY MACCARONI [original emphasis]”. And, the writer concluded, “therefore, ye Beaux, ye sweet-scented, simpering He-She things, deign to learn wisdom from the death of a Brother”.
Arguments were brought forward that the boy’s testimony was unreliable and Jones was granted a royal pardon on the condition that he left the country. Members of the public seethed with indignation at the thought of an establishment cover-up and a variety of men fled to the Continent. 
The macaronis have, however, been remembered for their style rather than for imputed sexual notoriety. We remember the uncouth revolutionary soldier who was originally mocked by the British as a “Yankee Doodle” for having “Stuck a feather in his cap / And called it macaroni”. But we’ve forgotten how queerly peculiar such an act may have seemed in the wake of a trial that bears comparison with those endured by Wilde a century later. That Americans could appropriate the song as a patriotic air implies a degree of innocence or, perhaps, of convenient forgetting.

June 28, 2018

Read Letters from LGBT to Younger Self~~~~~You Might Need Tissues

I hope I helped someone on the way, so they could avoid my internal conflicts on my sexual orientation {the below picture} ↓ Could not even say 'gay' . The best to other gays I could do was bi. After being shot ↑ {on picture with leg cast, 24 yo} ↑ I felt I came close to death and I had to start opening inside of me. Iam sorry that Bob's {next to me}relationship with me suffered because of it. I decided for a few seconds to do what I was kept from doing as a gay young man by society, "religion". But after I was able to walk again, I came out to my mom and I discovered if my mom knew, then I didn't care who else knew.🌈


For his latest video, YouTube star Davey Wavey asked a group of elders from the LGBTQ community to write and read aloud a letter to their 18 year old selves, and the results will leave you in tears – both happy and sad. [Gay Times]

June 21, 2018

It's Queer Culture Losing Its Roots?

If you check out popular Canadian gay magazines such as IN MagazineOUT Magazine and Gay Living, you may find headlines like: “Gay couple travels across Spain with pets” and “Middle-Age, Sexless Marriage: What’s to be Done?” along with the latest news about RuPaul’s Drag Race or the new Queer Eye series. Perusing these articles, one wouldn’t think gay men had any serious problems at all.
However, the more political Daily Xtra featured a headline about this year’s Toronto 2018 Pride procession planned to remember not only the victims of an alleged gay serial killer, but also those murdered by a van driver in Toronto in April. 
The official theme of this year’s Pride Parade, “35 years of AIDS Activism” seems to have subtly shifted to emphasizing Toronto’s lossrelated to these recent serial murders.

A woman walks during the Pride parade in Toronto in June 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Spectators at this year’s Pride are now being urged to wear black, “to signify that while the festival goes on, this is a period of huge trauma for the whole city, particularly the LGBTQ community,” as executive director Olivia Nuamah told the Toronto Star.
I do not mean to diminish the horrors perpetrated by these (or any other) serial killers. Yet I would suggest that serial killers are not the most serious problem facing gay men in Toronto today. 

Depression, minority stress and suicide

Cultural reporter Michael Hobbes writes about suicide and depression in the gay male community in a 2017 article, “The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness.”
Hobbes writes that gay people are now, depending on the study, between two and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. 
In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women. So even with all the legal changes, it is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men.
Hobbes attributes the escalating suicide rates to what is called “minority stress.” He says: “Minority stress in its most direct form, it’s pretty simple: Being a member of a marginalized group requires extra effort.” 
Part of the stress also comes from online dating apps like Grindr, Hobbes says. “If someone rejected you at a bathhouse, you could still have a conversation afterwards. Maybe you end up with a friend out of it, or at least something that becomes a positive social experience. On the apps, you just get ignored if someone doesn’t perceive you as a sexual or romantic conquest.”

The early days of gay liberation: A dance at Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse in 1971. Diana Davies/The New York Public Library Digital Collections.CC BY-NC

Addiction linked to depression

Depression comes with a side effect: Drug addiction. A 2017 article by music producer Anthony “aCe” Pabey, “We Need to Talk About the Queer Community’s Meth and GHB Epidemic” explains the situation.
In London, meth users who inject the drug while having sex jumped from 20 per cent in 2011 to 80 per cent in 2012, according to LGBT drug-and-alcohol support service Antidote. Hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff have gone so far as to ban words associated with drug use such as “meth” and “party.” 
Buzzfeed reported that emergency room doctors in San Francisco have encountered the drug with increasing regularity, particularly among gay professionals. 

In this 2016 photo, a 19-year-old transgender teen who declined to be identified because she feared for her life after receiving death threats poses for a photo in Texas. Juvenile detention centres are largely ill-equipped to house transgender young people, leaving them vulnerable to bullying, sexual assault, depression and suicide. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Many economic challenges

Depression, suicide and epidemic drug use? How can this be? Aren’t gay men happy hedonists and rich as hell to boot? Not according to a 2014 article in The Atlantic, “The Myth of Gay Affluence:” “In reality, gay Americans face disproportionately greater economic challenges than their straight counterparts. 
A new report released by UCLA’s Williams Institute found 29 per cent of LGBT adults, about 2.4 million people, experienced food insecurity.

The Stockholm Syndrome

If the plight of gay men is so dire, why are gay magazines obsessed with pets who travel — and RuPaul? Why is the message of this year’s Pride that gay men are just the same as anyone else — including, tragically, the victims of serial killers? 
Why are gay men dedicated to perpetrating a false image of themselves as not being victims of oppression? 
I believe gay men are presently passing through a kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which the captured begin to identify with their captors to such an extent that they wish to become them. In this case, it is the oppressed identifying with their oppressors. 
Though the phrase Stockholm Syndrome was coined after a bank robbery in 1973, Irish novelist James Joyce spoke eloquently of the symptoms of identifying with your oppressors in his collection of short stories called Dubliners
In "A Little Cloud,” the leading character is a dreamy, melancholy Irishman named Little Chandler — prone to fantasizing about being an English poet: “The English critics, perhaps, would recognize him as one of the Celtic school by reason of the melancholy tone of his poems.” England ruled Ireland from the time of Henry VIII to 1949. Irish citizens — who were persecuted for their Catholicism — toiled away as servants for absentee British landlords on their own stolen farms. 
Despite or perhaps because of this history of oppression, Joyce’s Little Chandler has an epiphany: “Was it too late for him to try to live bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London?” 
Joyce’s character does not have the strength of will to rebel against his oppressors. On the contrary, he sympathizes with them, because, English literature scholar Joseph Valente says — “Chandler has been colonized by Gallaher’s attitude.”
In the same way, has resistance to homophobia been co-opted?
Recently, hip hop star Kanye West tweeted: “I love the way Candace Owen thinks.” Candace Owens’ message, according to critical race writer Coleman Hughes, “is that there’s a stubborn refusal — among Blacks and whites alike — to let go of the narrative that Blacks are continually beleaguered by white racism.”
According to Owens, what we need is a new story about what Black America can be, which “looks toward a bright future instead of clinging to an ugly past.” 
Owens is not alone — many people hold these conservative views. Hughes mentions that “a 2016 Pew poll found that 60 per cent of Blacks without college degrees say their race hasn’t affected their chances of success.”
But we all know that racism and homophobia are systemic issues woven throughout our daily lives.

Origins of gay liberation

Is it any wonder that an oppressed minority might hope that wishful thinking might spirit oppression away? 
The Stonewall uprising — the much celebrated night of rebellion of 1969 when radical queers (sex trade workers, lesbians and drag queens) took to the streets to riot against the police at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan — inspired the modern gay liberation movement and it’s the reason we mark Pride weekend. 

The raid of New York’s Stonewall Inn in 1969 and the protests that followed inspired gay liberation. Diana Davies/The New York Public LibraryCC BY-NC

Yet gay liberation didn’t begin with Stonewall. 
Harry Hay — a card-carrying communist and proud effeminate “fairy” — founded The Mattachine Society in 1950. It was devoted to the notion that oppression had made gay men into different beings than straight men and that consequently there was such a thing as gay culture. 
However, in 1953, as the oral historian John D’Emilio tells us, Hay was ousted by the New Mattachine society, which then tackled the enormous task of trying to “adjust to a pattern of behaviour that is acceptable to society in general (and) compatible with the recognized institutions…of home, church and state.” 
But this more conservative Mattachine Society had little success. 
It took a decade, and the Stonewall uprisings, to effect the changes that helped create what we know today as gay liberation. 

Let’s be radical

But the pendulum has swung back again. It seems that once again, gay men are committed to lying about their oppression. How long will we continue this futile pattern of oppressing ourselves?

A woman dances in bubbles during the Toronto Pride Parade in Toronto in July 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

I had the privilege of meeting Harry Hay once — by chance — in a Provincetown restaurant in the ‘90s. I’ll never forget it. 
I immediately recognized him and felt compelled to introduce myself. (This was a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance!) Hay was old. Standing near, but at a bit of a distance from him, was his lifetime partner, John. 
I asked Mr. Hay why he was in Provincetown, and he said, “You won’t like my answer.” I said, “You never know.” 
“I’m here to protest gay marriage,” he said. I told him that I agreed with his position. 

John Burnside and Harry Hay with matching caps, June 25, 1994. SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARYCC BY-NC

Nevertheless, he felt compelled to explain it. “You see that man over there? He’s my lover John. John and I have been together for a very long time. But we are not married. We would never marry. You see, at any moment I could leave him. We have that kind of relationship. I mean I could leave him for someone like…like well…like for you, for instance.” And his eyes sparkled. 
I can say that Harry Hay — the founder of the gay liberation movement — flirted with me when he suggested he might very well cheat — with me — on his lifetime partner. 
I’m not bragging about this. But it all just goes to prove that, unlike many gay men today, Harry Hay was not afraid to tell the truth. 
Harry Hay knew that it was only by the admission of difficult truths that we can ever find the path to true liberation.

Featured Posts

The New Pretty Face At Netflix is 20, Gay and Has Cerebral Palsy

Ryan O'Connel, the new pretty face IN Hollywood is gay and  by the way he has Cerebral Palsy Photo: Sarah Walker ...