Sunday, May 20, 2007

The End of "Gay Rights"

No, there's no more Gay Rights Movement.

Now there's just the LGBT – or GLBT-- movement. (Sometimes I call it the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Movement.)

The justification for this is obvious. By combining the numbers of gays and lesbians with the numbers of bisexuals (real or imagined) and transvestites (presumably straight as well as gay?) and transsexuals for political purposes you get a much larger minority group and this can have long-term benefits in terms of both voting and spending power. Even gay-friendly groups seem to be illogically lowering the percentage of gays in the world via various bullshit “studies” so it seems necessary to lump all the sexual minorities under one umbrella.


I consider myself a Gay Activist – not an LGBT activist. The reasons are simple. Out of the other sexual minorities under the umbrella, I identify the most with lesbians simply because they, like me, are gay. I identify with bisexuals only when they're in long-term same-sex relationships (otherwise – to be frank – I have little use for them and they for me). And I identify with transvestites (straight or gay) and transsexuals not at all. True, I have met some drag queens (the term used for gay men who are also transvestites) but I relate to them as gay men only. While I am not like the fellow who once wrote about transsexuals that they were “these sad fucks who want to change their sex,” I admit I have always been very happy being a guy and would never want to change it. I have researched transsexuals and believe there are some people who legitimately feel that they were born into the wrong biological body. “Nature” does need a little “correcting.”

The vast majority of gay men have no interest in dressing up as the opposite sex and do not in any way see themselves as being female. Yet, Gay Culture seems to be dominated by images of drag queens everywhere you look. They are featured in ads for certain gay bars that make it seem as if the place is wall to wall with cross-dressers. Naturally, some bars cater to the drag scene much more than others. You rarely if ever see drag queens (except on Halloween, when most of them are just “ordinary” gay guys in costume) in the butcher bars like Ty's, Rawhide, or the Eagle.

I have nothing against drag queens. I like most of the ones I've met and spoken to. But they're just one small segment of the gay population and our media makes it seem like they constitute 75% of the community. Those men who are very heavily into the drag scene – who basically dress and live like women most of the time – are a very different kind of animal from me. I wish them well, but I can't and won't speak for them – although I deplore any kind of patronizing or prejudicial attitude against them – nor they for me. Many of these guys might as well be women [not that there's anything wrong in that!] but for the actual sex change.

As for transsexuals, they, too, are a way different breed from the typical gay man. Someone once theorized that trannies are essentially homosexual men who are so appalled at the notion of being gay that they would rather change their sex – becoming heterosexual women instead of gay men – then come out of the closet. Well ... I admit that's a little far-fetched. I mean, coming out of the closet seems a whole lot simpler and less shocking to the family than getting a sex change operation. Although I do recall seeing a talk show in which a transgender person announced to all who would listen that she was sick of people thinking she was a fag. Lovely. And exceedingly hypocritical.

The older brother of a childhood friend of mine changed into a woman at the ripe old age of sixty. On one hand, I thought it incredible that he would go through such a major life change at such an age, but he probably figured it's either now or never. How he must have wrestled with the disparity between his inner mind and outer body for all of his life. Since he was apparently always a woman even before he had the operation, I suppose you can't say he was ever really homosexual even if he was primarily attracted to males. If his primary attraction was to females, I suppose he was and is a lesbian. Who knows? I hope he's happy as I remember him as being a nice guy.

20/20 did a show on transsexuals who were aware at a surprisingly early age that they were trapped in the wrong body. I was bothered by the fact that the mother of one young boy-who-should-have-been-a girl wondered if his opposite sex characteristics meant he was gay instead of transsexual (the poor kid wanted to cut off his penis; I don't think he was gay.). It bothered me because I got the feeling that the woman was one of these parents who feel that if their son can throw a football he couldn't possibly be gay.

I'm glad I watched the 20/20 report however because it also introduced us to a young “woman” who was convinced that she was really a man. There was absolutely nothing "freakish" about her – she simply seemed like a nice, rather manly young fellow. Not "mannish" like a stereotypical lesbian (not to say they are in any way "freakish"), but manly. I had a very positive reaction to him which made me feel much better after the negative reaction I had to a photo in an ad for a recent leather “black party” in which gay guys -- bears -- are encouraged to spend a marathon of hours dancing and partying. The big guest and main image of the party was a female-to-male transsexual who had a mustache and all the usual regalia associated with the leather scene. I thought it odd that the symbol of this supposedly hyper-macho event was a woman, although I reminded myself that he really wasn't a woman anymore if he ever had been. Still, my mind shrieked out “what a freak!” when I saw his picture and I immediately felt guilty for thinking it. I admit it may be terrible that I think this way, but I would rather not meet a person in, say, a leather bar and go home with them, only to discover they were once a biological female. And what on earth would the “penis” look like? On the other hand, I am well aware that this gentleman is a human being as worthy of respect as any other. [And I'm probably not his type, either!] He probably has a tough enough time living day to day without any LGBTers making it worse for him, so if he's been embraced by this community -- if no other -- I say fine. Still, I just can't think of him as a gay guy like me. Sorry. (I assume he was attracted to men both before and after the sex change. But gee -- maybe he's straight. Although he's more likely to get a date with a gay guy than a straight woman -- but who the hell knows?)

Part of the problem is that male to female transvestites and transsexuals have become "commonplace" -- for lack of a better word -- while the opposite is comparatively rare. Or at least it seems that way. (Perhaps they get less publicity. And lesbian drag kings -- I have no idea how many there are -- haven't developed this huge cultural image or interest the way that gay drag queens have.) For better or worse, sex change operations -- while nothing new -- are still a little "out there" for most people. Which perhaps makes the people who get them a bit braver and tougher or just more desperate, in the sense that they must live as a man -- or woman -- or literally die.

But I think this underlines the fact that while gays and transgenders may both be sexual minorities (far fewer trannies than gays, let's face it) they are really totally different in a thousand ways. Gays and Lesbians are gay brothers and sisters. And bisexuals? ... we'll tackle them in another post or two.

Let me make it clear that I am decidedly against discrimination against any of the groups under the LGBT umbrella. My attitudes about some groups may be politically incorrect at times but that doesn't mean I "hate" anybody. But I can't in good conscience speak out about the specific issues affecting, say, the transgender community when they are simply not issues that affect me in any great way nor which I have any special familiarity with. (It goes without saying that I am aware that all the different LGBT factions suffer from some degree of discrimination and this has created a kind of bond that is perhaps more informal and tacit than actual.) The Gay community alone has important issues that need to be dealt with and there are any number of Bi and Transgender activists who can address the issues affecting those particular communities.

The Gay Activist Alliance became a single issue civil rights organization after the Gay Liberation Front fell apart because its members were always running off to one meeting or action after another for various causes and political issues; the struggle for Gay Rights was lost in a sea of general activism. It was decided that GAA would concentrate strictly on Gay Rights. The group could certainly issue statements of support for other civil rights organizations and individual members could attend any protest meeting or conference etc. that they wanted to. But the main focus was always Gay Rights.

GAA may be long gone, and I may not be officially affiliated with any organization, but I'm still proud to be a GAY activist.