Yesterday, while being the guest on KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintak show, Pintak said the big one. The Gay Lifesyle. We were talking about the case in Massachusetts where a catholic grade school first accepted and then rescinded the acceptance of an 8 year old boy, because he has two lesbian parents. And then he said it. Something to the affect of, people who live the gay lifestyle… I called him on it, saying I have a life, I don’t have a lifestyle. There is no such thing as the gay lifestyle.
Just like there is no such thing as a female lifesyle, or a straight lifestyle or a black lifestyle. I didn’t say all of these examples- it was radio and the clock was ticking away, but I think he got my point. This is however, such a common thing to hear. Even my father, who loves me dearly but still struggles with the fact that I’m gay, uses it.
Today, I came across the linked Vanity Fair entry by Brett Berk. He may be my kind of gay! His post is all about Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh, and it is a very good read. I want to focus one part of it:
The point is, no one has the right to suggest that the Swish Queen is some sort of prima facie detriment to us queers as a group, any more than they have a right to suggest that in order to garner acceptance, we should all do our best to look and act like Greg Louganis, Dan Choi, or RuPaul (out of drag). Acting against a stereotype is just as bland and limiting as feeling compelled to conform to one.
To which I reply, AMEN Brother! This sentiment, that there is one right way to be gay, is the same vulgar slur as “gay lifestyle”. It suggests, no matter who is using it, that the visibility of being who you are is the problem, rather than the solution. In fact, it dismisses the notion of who you are as a whole person, and places the entire spotlight on how a person acts, or more accurately, what some actions of a person are. Question: is the whole opposition to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people tied up in some false sense of how people are supposed to act?
One thought I want to make about Berk’s commentary on Setoodeh’s commentary. Where is any comment on the women? Or are we talking “Gay” as in gay man and not “Gay” as in , all those who are not straight? Maybe homophobia is totally tied up in the false sense of how men are supposed to be?
Which brings me back to the basis of this blog post. God with a capital “G.” One of the most awesome things God ever said (if you buy into the idea that at one time, a long, long time ago, God actually spoke to a few human beings). God said, “I am.” And that’s what I have to say, “I am.” I am Gay. I don’t lead a gay lifestyle, I am Gay. In fact my lifestyle is closer to that of other guys in their early 50’s who have built a good career, and wish they had time to exercise more. Every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender person: you can help set our culture straight (how’s that for a pun) or gayly forward. Own who you are, and claim it personally. I am. Say, it with me, I am. Don’t allow the dialogue about “Gay” to be a discussion of how people act, but rather, it must be dialogues about people. Real people.
Pride is just around the corner. Here in Pittsburgh, we are celebrating Pride for much of the month of June, with the biggest expressions being the Advocacy Rally on June 4th, Pride in the Streets on June 12th, and the Pride March and PrideFest on June 13th. I am so excited about all 4 of this main events, not to mention the dozens of other Â events that make up the whole of Pride. Around the planet, Pride celebrations happen around the calendar, but many are focused in June to acknowledge the Stonewall Riots of 1969.
Surrounding Pride, there is usually some discussion of what song should be selected as the ultimate gay anthem, and this year, like most years, my suggestion is Gloria Gaynor’s, “I am What I Am.” Not only because of the big disco hit it was for Gaynor, but because of the roots of the song- Tony Award winning musical La Cage aux Folles, is the quintessential story of trying to be something that someone else thinks is the right way to be. If you are a young queer, go and check out the original film, not that silly remake called the Birdcage. This should be required viewing for everyone if you ask me.
In summary, all around us, people inside as well as outside of the LGBT communities often get hung up in behavior, and the reality is that Gay is all about being who you are, or put in the first person sense: “I Am.” The more we own that, and demand to be seen for who we are, and not scrutinized for how we act, we will make progress towards equality. and we will be happier as well. Just remember, the 3 “G’s.” God, Gloria Gaynor, and the Gays.