Notes for Post Photographic Portrait “The End of Gay Culture”

“They guilded a cage of exclusion with magnificent ornaments; they spoke to its isolation and pain; they described and maintained it with dignity and considerable beauty” – Andrew Sullivan

This article “The End of Gay Culture” are the views of Andrew Sullivan on gay society in America.

In province town, gay couples marrying and celebrating in public were greeted by heterosexuals and homosexuals with waves and cheers “the difference between gay and straight receded again a little… these changes did not feel like a revolution. They felt merely like small, if critical, steps in an inexorable evolution toward the end of a distinctive gay culture.”

Sullivan talks about how the lines between a distinctive gay culture and straight culture are blurring. The gay culture that is today will eventually expand into diverse subcultures and that “gayness alone will cease to tell you very much about any individual.”

If the boundaries between gay and straight culture become so blurred it’ll become more helpful not to examine them separately at all. This isn’t saying that they wont create a community of some sorts tat sets them apart. – This both poses success and a threat:

  • On one hand it fulfills a dream that gay people have always had, to live in a world where gay and straight aren’t distinguishable.
  • On the other hand the threat is that it’s change. Being gay has been a simple way of defining a person both to others and themselves.

The era of the aids epidemic – This was a lesson to gay people that they needed connections with the wider world to survive, literally. They needed support from scientific research, civic & political support. They could no longer “seal themselves off from the rest of the society. A ghetto was no longer an option.”

Post epidemic led to gay people who survived to face both triumph and fear. They felt guilt and some re-treated into “the circuit”, which involved raves and drugs. Whilst this generation struggled with post plague adjustment a new younger generation grew up in a society where being gay wasn’t taboo.

“What separates homosexuals from every other minority group is that they are born and raised within the bosom of the majority” – This meant they were unaware of all the previous struggles of the gay community. Most come from homes “of straight America and were more in tune with it’s new, mellower attitude toward gayness than the embattled, defensive urban gay culture of the pre-aids era. The parents of this new generation can not pass on the cultural norms to their children. They instead absorb “what passes for their gay identity from the broader culture as a whole.”

Gay children in today’s world grow up knowing that gay marriage is legal in countries all over the world which leads to them internalising “a sense of normality”, which was completely unknown to previous generations.

“That shift in consciousness is as profound as it is irreversible.”

Gay culture was one about sex and pain and tragedy because this is what heterosexuals imposed on gay people. Now it’s like more about happiness as well as pain, triumph as well as tragedy. “It took generations to find the self worth to move toward achieving this reality in all it’s forms.”






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