“Rent:Live,” or Where Have All the Drag Queens Gone?

Last week’s live performance of the early ‘90s musical “Rent” on Fox TV made some changes to the original stage script by the late Jonathan Larson. Foremost among these, the character “Angel,” who Larson had written as a drag queen, was changed to a transwoman, which New York magazine’s Vulture site confirms.

In the original, Angel’s lover, Collins, referred to Angel as “he” in several pivotal scenes, including after Angel’s death, although in the original characters did use “she” when referring to Angel in drag.

As Vulture reports:

Again in an effort to fully establish Angel as a female-identifying character, Collins interrupted the bickering of “Goodbye Love” last night to express his sorrow: “I can’t believe she’s gone; I can’t believe you’re going,” he says, turning to Roger. In the original, he says of Angel, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

There’s nothing wrong with having a transwoman as a character, but that’s not who Angel was. Collins, Angel’s lover, identifies himself a gay man who likes guys even if they like to cross dress.

A few years ago, a Fox TV version of “The Rocky Horror Show” cast a transwoman, Laverne Cox, as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, another character who was famously a drag queen transvestite and not, in fact, a transwoman. Which raises the issue of whether it is now too politically incorrect to allow presentations of gay men who are drag queens, even if that’s who they were originally meant to be.

As Andrew Sullivan wrote recently, “Contemporary transgender ideology is not a complement to gay rights; in some ways it is in active opposition to them.”

Yes, This Is Happening

Related:

The Covington Kids, Part 2

The homophobic taunts shouted at the Convington boys received scant coverage. Andrew Sullivan writes:

Once the [Black Hebrew] Israelites figured out the kids were Catholic, they offered this about what appeared to be a picture of the Pope: “This is a faggot child-molester.” And this about Donald Trump: “He’s a product of sodomy and he’s proud. Your president is a homosexual. … It says on the back of the dollar bill that ‘In God We Trust,’ and you give faggots rights.” At that homophobic outburst, the kids from the Catholic school spontaneously booed […]

To put it bluntly: They were 16-year-olds subjected to verbal racist assault by grown men; and then the kids were accused of being bigots. It just beggars belief that the same liberals who fret about “micro-aggressions” for 20-somethings were able to see 16-year-olds absorbing the worst racist garbage from religious bigots … and then express the desire to punch the kids in the face.


The press failure on this and other “advance the narrative” stories has been monumental and driven by political bias:

Masculinity as Pathology?

Leaving aside the woke Gillette ad brouhaha, a related but more high-toned controversy has erupted over the American Psychological Association’s labeling “traditional masculinity” as harmful and even pathological.

Gay men have various reactions to “traditional masculinity” since while growing up many were bullied and belittled for their perceived lack of masculinity, especially if their behavior and demeanor was, in fact, effeminate. Others, particularly those who came of age in the ’70s and early ’80s, may have fetishized and adopted the hypermasculine clone persona. But you don’t have to defend all aspects of “traditional masculinity” to conclude that the latest round of progressive and feminist-inspired critiques have gone overboard, and that often traditionally masculine assertiveness and even aggression have built and defended a robust, dynamic enterprise culture, while inspiring men to put their lives on the line to save others and to keep us free.

OK, a little snark about the Gillette ad, and an assessment by Jon Gabriel at Ricochet:

Jon Gabriel writes:

Promoting social issues can be effective marketing, but notice the difference. P&G’s female-directed ads make women feel better about themselves. The company tells women “you’re great just as you are” and tells men “you’re bad and need to change.” I’ve yet to complete my Marketing Ph.D., but I don’t think a message of “Women are revolting, buy Secret” would spike profits.

NYT Looks at Gay Conservatives

Point:

“I think the trans issue gets more attention than it warrants,” says Jamie Kirchick, a center-right gay writer and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who opposed Trump’s military ban but who believes “the gay movement has been overtaken by transgender issues affecting a minuscule percentage of the population.”

Counterpoint:

The unwillingness of many gay conservatives to prioritize the struggle of transgender people comes as little surprise to Richard Goldstein, a gay former executive editor for The Village Voice who published “Homocons,” a scathing book about gay conservatives, 17 years ago.

More. The comments section to the NYT article is full of clichéd comparisons of gay conservatives with Jews supporting Nazis. Well, if you have no understanding whatsoever that there are, in fact, actual arguments for limited government and individual vs. collective rights (not, mind you, that you disagree with such arguments, but that you’ve gone through four years of higher education and think that being conservative (or even libertarian) simply denotes bigotry), then you might assume that ritually reciting this comparison is a game-winner.

Furthermore.

There’s Always a Hierarchy

Social justice warriorhood is ostensibly about the victimhood of blacks, women, Muslims, transgender people, etc. But it’s also, and ultimately, about ensuring the power dominance of the highly privileged white liberal elite. On the left, identity politics has all but killed and buried old-fashioned class analysis as the matrix for understanding power relationships.

If progressive politicos, academics, pundits, funders and activists were more confident in their views, they wouldn’t be so very afraid of engaging with nonprogressive viewpoints.


The cultural contradictions of progressivism.

Gay Youth at Risk

Quillette is one of the few outlets willing to address the issue of how radical transgender activism endangers gay and lesbian youth, in no small measure by promoting the idea that gender nonstereotypical behavior (“effeminate” boys/”masculine” girls) indicates not homosexual orientation but transgender identity, and that these kids should be placed on puberty blockers as the first step to transitioning into the other gender (after which, presumably, they can live heterosexual lives). That sounds a lot like conversion therapy except with surgical finality. And yet LGBTQ movement groups have made transgender theory and activism their new central mission, and woe to anyone who questions the new transgender orthodoxy.

Helen Joyce delves into these risks in great depth in her article “The New Patriarchy: How Trans Radicalism Hurts Women, Children—and Trans People Themselves.”


Here’s another excerpt from Helen Joyce’s article:

Some gay people think that organizations set up to fight for gay rights made a mistake in throwing their weight behind trans activism. In an open letter in the Times in October, some prominent gays and lesbians accuse Stonewall, Britain’s biggest LGBT charity, of “uncritically adopting a form of transgender politics which undermines…the concept of homosexuality itself.” (It added “T” for transgender to its “LGB” (lesbian, gay and bisexual) mission in 2015.) More than 7,000 people have now signed a petition in support of the letter. Yet Stonewall’s CEO, Ruth Hunt, has denied any need for a rethink, saying that “trans equality is at the heart of our mission for acceptance without exception.”

Trans Orthodoxy vs. Lesbian-Feminist Heresy

You don’t have to agree with Meghan Murphy’s critique of transgenderism to see that something is very wrong in the way trans activists and their supporters react to opinions they dislike, especially when it comes to lesbian-feminists who don’t want to share locker rooms and showers with people who have male bodies.

Meghan Murphy writes:

In San Francisco, which one might assume to be a hot spot for lesbian pride, a group of women carrying signs that read, “Proud to be lesbian,” “Lesbian Visibility,” and “Lesbian not queer” were harassed and bullied. Feminist historian Max Dashu, who was in attendance, said she and the other “old lesbians” were surrounded by “young queers” who pushed them and chanted “TERFs, go home.” On Facebook, she wrote: “I’ve been to many marches, including dangerous ones, but this was the most vicious episode I have ever experienced, ever in my life.” As a result of Dashu attending the march alongside these heretic women, she was disinvited as a speaker, most ironically, from a group called the Modern Witches Confluence. When it comes to the campaign against TERFs in trans-compliant progressive circles, even self-described witches now go in for witch hunts.

From Spectator USA, same Facebook photo but a different article, this one by Julie Bindel about Meghan Murphy.

Racism and Political Correctness Have Much in Common

Wesley Yang writes:

We wouldn’t even be able to conceive of the microaggression were not the macroaggression stigmatized and on the retreat. My parents’ homes were reduced to rubble in Korea. To speak to them about a microaggression is just not credible, it’s simply absurd.

On the other hand, it’s also true that there’s a lot of pain that goes with being an Asian-American, which I write about. …

But… when one looks at remediating that through a system of policing speech and thought, then you cross over into this whole other territory where you’re talking about extinguishing human freedom for the purpose of pursuing some person’s ill-defined therapeutic grievance.


Similarly: