24-year-old writer and blogger Paul Aguirre-Livingston posted an article on the Toronto-based blog The Grid on Thursday called "Dawn of a new gay," about his identity as a post-modern homosexual, or, "post-mo." Aguirre-Livingston described his piece to The Grid:
[It's about] the new generation of gays who feel they shouldn't be so radically defined by their sexual orientation, choosing to live their lives outside of the village, how they want, and who do not feel forced to define anything or be hyper-political and 'I'm here, I'm queer'-ish. We're just guys who want more than just to be 'the gay guy' because that doesn't inform our place in society or what we do--just who we sleep with. You may be on one end of the spectrum or the other, but you can't deny [that] we definitely don't share the same ideals or battles as the previous generation.
The article had many queers (myself included), seething - critiquing his analysis for containing absolutely no class or race analysis, disrespect of queer history, and creating universal narratives for gay men that are really only relevant for some gay men of privilege.
Tell a trans person or a queer person of color or any other marginalized queer identity to go ahead and access the freedoms queers in the past have struggled for (as if the struggle is over) and "not to live plagued with the pressures to be here and be queer" and you will get your head ripped off. How about the plague of your very existence walking down the street putting you at risk for violence and abuse?
In my gay career I've come across so many guys who think like this.
Elie, one of the nine "post-mos" featured in the article, posted at The Gaily yesterday "Why I am ashamed to be on the cover of the grid": claiming that he had the wrong idea about the nature of Aguirre-Livingston's post before agreeing to participate:
What was set up to be a progressive look at life as a gay individual - with the 'I'm here, I'm queer' fight not being as prevalent as it used to be - ended up being a severely nearsighted diary entry by a writer arrogantly looking down on the blood, sweat, and tears of the millions of LGBT individuals who fought tooth and nail to afford him the freedoms he has today.
Many have dismissed his post as damage control, but I think Elie brings up a good point that we are at an interesting time as the modern gay identity takes shape in urban spaces.
Aguirre-Livingston's post makes me think a lot about my own identity and experiences. I am 22, Will and Grace was also a part of my sexual development (ugh I know but it's true), and I also access light skin, male, cisgender, and middle-class privilege. I am preparing for a move to Los Angeles next Sunday and have been thinking a lot about the type of people I am going to meet there. Sometimes in fleeting moments of self-doubt a cold anxiety grips my chest and I fear I might become corrupted by dominant urban gay culture that elevates masculinity and "the finer things." I already really like soy lattes. Maybe a friend will ask me to go with them to their gay marriage dinner event and I'll go because 'whatever, he's my friend' and then my picture will show up on the HRC web site or something and all of the sudden I'm a power gay (the horror!). My identity precipitates such a path, but I'll be keeping myself in check.
As straight people are embracing certain kinds of queerness in their lives things do become easier - but for who? Without an education in white supremacy and oppression I fear that many gay and lesbian youth will never realize the brilliance of their queerness and the profound possibility it has given them because it won't be seen as anything fantastic. I think this is where my work lies: striving to be an ally to trans people and QPOC while simultaneously striving to be an ally to other whites. I need to do work in my own community to make sure white queers aren't perpetuating the poison of unexamined privilege and putting crap like Aguirre-Livingston's out there.