Something Lost, Something Gained

15 Comments for “Something Lost, Something Gained”

  1. posted by Jorge on

    “Gay” tells you about a person’s lusts and loves, but it used to tell you more — about his or her boldness, irreverence, independence.

    And I suppose “homosexual” used to tell you about a person’s modesty, reticence, and patriotism. When it came to be seen as pejorative, society ended up combining the two.

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  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Several thoughts:

    First, the “gay subculture” Matt Crowley wrote about was a small slice of the gay world even when it flourished. Gays who lived outside urban areas weren’t part of that subculture, and my guess is that most gays living in urban areas weren’t part of the subculture either. I can understand why older gays who were part of the subculture are nostalgic about its passing, but I understand that because I am in my 70’s, of an age where I often feel nostalgia for “the way things were”. Times change and nostalgia is a form of mourning for our personal losses as we age and become redundant. Pining for the “gay subculture” is nothing more than that, as I see things.

    Second, as Crowley observed at the end of the article, “You wouldn’t want that world back.” Nobody who lived in in that world would, and nobody should. I lived through the days of harsh repression, police raids, threats of sodomy convictions, workplace discrimination, bans on military service and all of that. It was indeed, as Bruni put it, a time of “fear and discrimination”. I’m glad that things are better now, and I’m glad that young gays don’t have to band together in cultural ghettos to survive but can instead live openly according to their own lights in many/most parts of the country. I look forward to the day when a gay high school kid anywhere in the country is just another high school kid. I won’t live to see that day, but I hope that my grandchildren will.

    Third, despite the nostalgia of aging urban gays, the “gay subculture” was nothing to write home about. The “gay subculture” was not diverse and life-enhancing so much as it was yet another form of life-deadening, conformist orthodoxy. The “gay subculture” may have provided a necessary haven, but it was artificial — the gay moustache, the affected and over-inflected “gay voice”, in-cult language and jokes, and so on. A lot of gay men found nothing appealing about the “gay subculture”, and that’s because a lot of what constituted the “gay subculture” was unappealing. The subculture was nasty to and unforgiving of anyone who chose to live outside the confines of its rigid orthodoxy.

    Fourth, “LGBT” is less a descriptor than a political alliance, born of our struggle to gain equal treatment under the law. As others have pointed out, gays and lesbians don’t have a lot in common, neither have much in common with bisexuals, and transsexuals face issues that are distinct in many respects from the issues faced by gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, respectively. What bound us together over the last 45-50 years was not commonality but common cause. We banded together in different ways at different times to fight the “fear and discrimination”, and we have made great strides since I was a young adult in the late 1960’s, Just as the “gay subculture” has largely faded away, so will, someday, the need for “LGBT”. When there is no need for a political alliance, then there will be no need for an “LGBT” identity.

    Pope Paul once observed, “It you want peace, work for justice.” Along those lines, if you don’t like LGBT, then work for “equal means equal”. End the “fear and discrimination” and that will be the end of “LGBT”. So maybe, homocons, instead working to give government sanction to discrimination against gays and lesbians who marry, and instead of whining about transsexuals, you should be working toward “equal means equal”.

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    • posted by Jorge on

      Wow. That was brilliant, Tom.

      I don’t agree with your call for conservatives to not be conservative in that last paragraph.

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      • posted by Kosh III on

        Seriously? You think conservatives/gop/teanuts should continue to oppose equality for all? Should continue to hate and oppress people?

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        • posted by Jorge on

          I believe in dignity, human rights, and equality of opportunity. I do not believe in equality itself as in my view that conflicts with those principles.

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          • posted by Kosh III on

            As I see it, dignity and human rights are not possible without equal rights under the law and equal opportunity to be hated and kept inferior is not a principle worth having.

          • posted by Jorge on

            As I see it, dignity and human rights are not possible without equal rights under the law and equal opportunity to be hated and kept inferior is not a principle worth having.

            Well, I must disagree.

            “Equal rights under the law” sounds fine in theory, but strikes me as unworkable in practice in any kind of society, such as ours, in which social class is decided jointly by the government and society. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

      • posted by JohnInCA on

        Why not? You regularly call for liberals to stop being liberal.

        Heck, trying to convince the other “team” to defect is kind of the entire point of debate and persuasive writing. In fact, I’d argue (and I’d be happy if you defected on this point) that it’s when we stop trying to persuade each other and asking them to come around to our way of thinking is when the real trouble starts.

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        • posted by Jorge on

          Why not? You regularly call for liberals to stop being liberal.

          Okay call me out on it next time, then. It doesn’t strike me as a good idea to approve of such a message at the same time I approve of a historical context lesson.

          Heck, trying to convince the other “team” to defect is kind of the entire point of debate and persuasive writing.

          Sorry, I do not agree. That assumes one wants to persuade the other team to defect to one’s exact position on everything. I find that sentiment at once silly and totalitarian. I’m not a purist. I mainly want to be left alone.

          I consider the purpose of debate and persuasive writing not to be to create a society in which everyone is exactly like oneself. There’s a broader goal of advancing the human condition. Both success and failure are important. It’s like capitalism. It creates socially desirable ends through mutual self-interest, and it works a lot better then we realize we want it to create socially desirable ends. Otherwise you get too many sociopaths who are slaves to their own desires.

          There are some ideologies in the US I seek to drastically limit, some that I consider a direct threat to me, and probably some I actually seek to eradicate, but for the most part they contribute something important. When the balance between them shifts, that draws my concern.

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          • posted by JohnInCA on

            Right…

            So to be clear, since you don’t actually want to persuade me on all the points you’re making, which points are the ones you’re actually trying to persuade me on, and which are the red herrings?

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        I don’t agree with your call for conservatives to not be conservative in that last paragraph.

        I understand that you don’t.

        Before the takeover the conservative movement by loudmouthed “Patriots”, “Take our country back …” populists and religious fringe groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, the conservative movement (born of the Enlightenment and classical liberalism) championed of equal treatment under the law for all citizens. Just because post-Reagan conservatives want to put their fingers in their ears and keep their eyes wide shut is no reason for the rest of us to refrain from making the case for traditional conservative (and American) values.

        Barry Goldwater and Bobby Kennedy were my political heroes when I was a young man (Goldwater for his staunch defense of individual freedom and Kennedy for his advocacy of social justice), and still are. Senator Goldwater, were he alive today, would be fighting tooth and nail to toss out the hijackers and bring the conservative movement back to core principles, just as he did in the last years of his life. Kennedy, were he alive today, would be doing everything in his power to end this political madness.

        Goldwater and Kennedy are gone. But the fight is needed now, more than ever. I’m going to do what I can. You and other so-called “conservatives” who are aiding and abetting the destruction of the conservative movement by the hijackers are damn fools.

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        • posted by Jorge on

          You and other so-called “conservatives” who are aiding and abetting the destruction of the conservative movement by the hijackers are damn fools.

          When the conservative movement deigns to stuff treatises to men in powdered wigs in my face (as occasionally happens when I look at it for too long), I might spend some effort toward its preservation. But many others are far more interested than I in the effort, and I think the current young generation of conservatives is doing right by its current opportunities. I will continue to exercise my best judgment as I see fit.

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    • posted by MR Bill on

      That was beautiful…

      Reply
  3. posted by JohnInCA on

    The problem with “gay culture”, and it’s “demise” is actually pretty similar to the “demise” of religion. That is to say, folks that are nostalgic about their “dominance” gloss-over that it was the only have in town.

    Both will probably always be with us to some degree or other. But with other options, they’ll never be as big.

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  4. posted by David Bauler on

    Jorge: Blah, blah, blah

    Reply

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