I always cherish this annual opportunity to act like a flippant ingrate to the gay community. But this time, the task of answering the serious question of "Where are we?" seriously stumped me. I'm an entertainment gay, for god's sake. My job is to divert our attention from the ugly truth with some good old-fashioned American razzle-dazzle, a bottle of snake oil, and a generous helping of breathless sensationalism. I was hoping this year would be another opportunity to dash off a bunch of cheap one-liners, like these:
"Where are we? We're helping each other pick out cufflinks at Nordstrom."
"Where are we? Shopping for color-coordinated camping equipment at REI."
"Where are we? Buying cute underwear at American Apparel."
"Where are we? We're in stores everywhere."
But this is a serious question.
So—even though my position on marriage is still that the only good reason to marry anybody is for a Green Card—allow me to confront my real assignment with an anecdote.
Recently over a cup of coffee, I was chewed out by a gay friend for expressing some arch ambivalence about same-sex marriage. My friend's debating style was the opposite of mine in almost every way: He was well argued, articulate, and logically sound. He backed me into a corner—which admittedly wasn't very hard—and we agreed to disagree.
What really unsettled me, though, was that the fervor of his pro same-sex marriage argument sounded as dogmatic as a raving pro-life activist. It felt, strangely, like he was accusing me—the ambivalent one—of being unpatriotic. By sniping at our gay comrades and all the good the community had done, I suddenly became an un-American, fascist ingrate.
Though it might not sound like it, I admire my friend for his political spirit. Political causes need their champions, their ranks of activists and advocates. While in a lot of ways I find gay-rights activism silly, I also think it's important that there are people pushing that frontier. I don't know why I'm not one of them. It might be that I'm a lazy snob, or a precocious snob, or just a run-of-the-mill arrogant snob (or a snobby ingrate!).
I think my real problem is that whenever I sincerely approach the issue of the gay-rights movement, I often come to the realization that—in addition to being a group of people on the edge of significant mental and societal shifts—we homos are just as laughably absurd as we've ever been.
When I originally made my midnight pact with the devil to join the ranks of the sexually deviant, I didn't foresee myself being asked to join forces with a unified gay political front. My original destination, in fact, was the kind of limbo this year's issue suggests we're facing now.
Limbo, for me, is a place where the imagination is stimulated to consider the great wealth of human possibilities. Limbo is a place I associate with lawlessness, with anarchic desires and untamed creative impulses. If limbo is truly where we are, I couldn't be more thrilled. I've always felt more at home in limbo than I have in Gay World (even though I have a fabulous summer home in Gay World) and I assume there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way.
So where are we now? In a sexual sense—which is an important sense—we're in the same place we've been since time immemorial: all over each other. In a political sense, we're much more visible. We're shaking hands, kissing babies, shouting, and slamming our fists down on the pulpit. We're definitely still helping each other pick out cufflinks at Nordstrom. We're potentially making life easier for a lot of people by paying the price of visibility. (And we're using the word "we" far too often.)
But that kind of visibility isn't why I joined the party. This might be a kind of gay thing to say, but if I have to go outside looking like that, I think I'd rather be invisible.