Monday, 16 October 2017
Jackie Shane was gay. She was a drag queen.
It’s time to state the facts.
Lately her story has been appropriated by opportunistic academics who have misrepresented her as having been, historically, a ‘trans’ performer.
This is not simply a mistake; it’s homophobic.
Jackie Shane was, according to all witnesses, a brilliant drag singer/performer who was much beloved by the gay community in Toronto in the 60’s. She eventually moved back to her native Nashville; now her brilliance has been rediscovered and soon she will be coming back to Toronto to perform once again.
However, academics -- who often have a tendency to be out of touch with the truths of street culture -- have decided to take advantage of the resurgence of interest in Jackie Shane to advance their own trendy theories, and promulgate homophobia.
They are attempting to erase history by representing Shane’s story as that of a trans activist -- rather than as the history of a gay man and a drag queen.
Why am I concerned here with labels?
I am a gay man and a drag queen. Homophobia has increased in the last couple of years. I notice this in the context of what I call a rising ‘Fear of Drag Queens.’
Even Ru Paul has to deal with this. As in the old days of homophobia and anti-sexual feminism, drag queens are now being castigated for ‘nasty humour,’ and for ‘making fun of women,’ and even for ‘making fun of trans people.’
This is homophobic slander. Drag queens love women. They pay homage to them through drag -- and historically, they are the pioneers of the trans movement.
If Jackie Shane wishes to to become an icon for the -- very important -- modern transgender movement, more power to her.
But the historical facts are these. Jackie Shane was performing in drag long before the term ‘transgender’ even existed. When she performed in the 1960s ‘trans’ meant transexual. She represented herself as a gay man and a drag queen -- not as ‘trans’ -- and was known as such. She was a leading force -- as was Craig Russell -- in gay liberation, along with the drag queens at Stonewall.
Those are the historical facts.
And no amount of academic obfuscation can deny them.
Sunday, 8 October 2017
Okay so I know that lots of young men -- of all kinds -- have been doing drugs for a long time; nothing new there. But it seems to me that there is a crystal meth epidemic among young gay men.
I know this because -- now that I’m an old guy -- young guys are always asking me to buy TINA for them.
It makes sense to me though, to be on drugs, if you are a young and gay. Because I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a young gay man right now.
It seems to me that since bars and baths and parks and toilets and ‘gay men’s groups’ are over for gay men, there’s only two things left: online ‘dating’ apps and, well -- gay marriage.
(Of course I know that some young gay men do go to bars and bathhouses, but these places are generally thought of as being ‘over.’)
Because if all we have is online sex and marriage what kind of future is that?
I know that SCRUFF and SURGE can be fun but it sure is tough to live up to the expectations of online dating apps: most people looking for sex/love or ‘friends’ online don’t like fats or fems.
Can I be frank here? Most of us are just a little bit fat and a little bit fem. Not if you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or Captain America. But the rest of us; the ordinary guys, well -- we’re all a little pudgy here and there, and yes now and then our wrists go limp and we just wanna be petulant.
Of course if the pressure of living up to the porn star ‘ab’ standard and the Sly Stallone masculinity standard doesn’t send you to crystal meth, then the pressure to get married will. We, as men (gay or straight) are socialized to capitalize on what our testosterone tries to tell us: that we must compete, and fight, and conquer -- and win. Unlike women, we are not socialized to be loving and caring; we are socialized to achieve. Good luck having a gay monogamous marriage! Monogamous marriage doesn’t work for most straights; I can’t see why it would work for gay men.
I certainly don’t long for the good old days. But back before AIDS there were not only gay bars but people were beginning to think that maybe there might be other gay social gathering places, and there was a sense of the possibility of meeting new people in a gay community that actually existed, in the real world. Gay coupling didn’t mean monogamy; and being a bit femmy was still part of being gay.
I know we’ve got the new Will and Grace and Ru Paul’s Drag Grace to remind us of the old days -- the days when everyone gay didn’t have to be perfectly masculine, built and/or perfectly married. But are those two shows enough to make us happy, healthy gay men?
All I can say is Good Luck To You, Young Gay Men!
Because unfortunately, you’re going to need it.