A recent article on CBC News has reminded me of the politics of gay film and television.
It reminded me of the timing of Obama's announcement of support for gay marriage and how this will affect votes -- and how these issues are already evolving on screen.
Gay characters have already evolved, we are told. No longer are we seeing "coming out" stories, but everyday living: trying to secure a house, get married, make babies and retire peacefully.
In short, gay pop culture is now completely "mainstreamed." Good thing, bad thing? Some queer theorists would say that we're being prepackaged into a heteronormative lifestyle. Others would welcome this shift -- it might mean gaining acceptance and the realization from the world that we are the same; we are equal and therefore deserve equal rights and freedoms.
From CBC News: "When Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis decided to take a role in Cloudburst, a small budget Canadian film, it was because she liked the feisty, rebellious character of Stella."
I think there's truth to both arguments, though one is more subtly dangerous than the other: we deserve equal rights not because we're the same, but because our difference should be celebrated, or at least, not penalized. While sexuality does not define an individual, this invisible minority we carry gives us a unique perspective and understanding of human nature, and this insight can prove useful in navigating life and in influencing policy and politics.
The queer community has a lot to offer: compassion, activism, perseverence, forgiveness, understanding, creativity, hope. While some members want to go to church on Sundays, get married, have babies, work nine to five, retire and watch their grandchildren grow up, others don't.
And while some pop culture characters truthfully reflect aspects of our community, others were made with the aim to soften heterosexuals to our "cause," such as The Kids Are All Right. In this movie's "lesbian" relationship, we see more straight sex than any other. And if you don't think this is an important point, then let me ask you this -- what is the main difference between gays and straights if not sex? I see how the movie warms the hearts of those who aren't gay. And I think such stories are important, but we shouldn't lose sight of the unique quality and texture of the queer experience and substitute our strong voices just so we can be mainstreamed. In the long run, the cost will be paid by those members of the community who don't fit into a heteronormative lifestyle.
Don't be blind to this trap: no matter how much you behave like a heterosexual, you are not straight. You're still two guys or two girls. Those who are homophobic will not tolerate you more because you have babies and are married. What the queer cause seeks is not just legally equal rights, but a policy to end homophobia, educate and heal hundreds of years of discrimination and internalized pain, both for queers and their families, and I would argue, all of those who have internalized homophobia.
It's great that we can be the same as heterosexuals. We also need to be safe in our differences.
For all those gays who want to party and die young -- for all those
gentle souls who feel they were born into the wrong body -- for all
those crazy mo-fos who just don't give a fuck: this article signed by The Beaver captures your spirit. Freedom is by nature defiant and different,
and my pen is at your service.