Posts Tagged Utah AIDS Foundation

Swimming With the Gays

In our society, almost all minority groups face a complicated choice between being fully integrated and between self-segregation. At one time, women’s colleges were the only avenue for women to pursue higher education, same for the historically black colleges. Catholic schools were organized since many public schools openly indoctrinated students into protestantism. Some groups – for instance the Amish – have chosen to deliberately and intentionally remain “separate” within the culture. There is value for some groups to self-select and self-identify. Predominantly black colleges provide African-American students opportunities for leadership and personal development that they might not find in other institutions; same goes for women’s colleges. Conversely, in my experience, better schools produce better leaders.

Conservative Christians have long had a subculture with Christian book stores, schools, bands, TV stations, programs, movies, and even their own list of celebrities. There are Bible based diets, perfumes, action figures and the whole schlemiel. FWIW, the Christian subculture has a pervasive and well-deserved sense of inferiority to mainstream culture which is by almost ever standard more creative and more interesting. Christian subculture often comes across as a homogenized and sanitized version of mainstream culture – complete with swear free comedians and rappers.

Minority groups face an ongoing struggle between establishing and maintaining a subculture or integrating within the mainstream, a struggle made doubly difficult when group members are increasingly instrumental in creating mainstream culture. Why should we be separate when we’re being represented in the mainstream?

I believe the gay community has reached a crossroads and the choice will be difficult. Huge chunks of American culture are the creation of glbt people. More importantly, the debate about gay marriage has, paradoxically, resulted in legal defeats but cultural victories. The more conservative bitch, moan whine and carry about gay marriage, the more it appears in the awareness of Americans who are growing more and more accepting. The self-aware separateness of glbt people is, as more and more establish long term relationships and lead “normal” lives is becoming less and less viable. Quite frankly, gay marriage – win or lose the short term electoral fights – is a long term victory in which the very ordinariness of being gay is simply being accepted.

Andrew Sullivan – three years ago – wrote:

week after week this summer, couple after couple got married–well over a thousand in the year and a half since gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts . . . .The heterosexuals in the crowd knew exactly what to do. They waved and cheered and smiled. Then, suddenly, as if learning the habits of a new era, gay bystanders joined in. In an instant, the difference between gay and straight receded again a little.
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