Saturday, 29 November 2014

Why Are Gay Men Such Bad Citizens?

Neo-con gay writers like Andrew Sullivan talk a lot about how important it is for gay men to be good citizens. By good citizenship they mean getting married, supporting the police force, and going to church.
I don’t call that citizenship.
I call it conformity.
Then what after all, is a good citizen?
Recently I assigned a group project to my students. One student told another student that they didn’t care to participate in the group because ‘after all, it’s not being marked.’ I tried to make the students understand that this was very bad citizenship. I mean are you going to spend the rest of your life throwing garbage on your neighbour’s lawn?
President Kennedy said; ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’
That’s what good citizenship is. 
To be fair, most people are bad citizens. They don’t give a shit about anything or anyone but themselves, and they’ll get away with what they can get away with, and certainly would never think of helping out those less fortunate than they are (‘after all, what’s in it for me?’).
To get back to gay men. A case in point. AIDS ACTION NOW tells us that ‘from the beginning of 1989 to June of 2012, at least 140 people have been criminally charged for allegedly failing to disclose their HIV+ status to a sexual partner.’ Many gay men — especially those who live in small towns with homophobic public health officials — are now often afraid to identify as HIV positive. This means not going to the doctor. This means, for many, getting ill, and perhaps dying.
Do gay men give a shit about this?
It seems pretty clear that emphatically, they do not. After all, gay men are not the only victims of the criminalization of AIDS — a disproportionately high number of sex trade workers and people of colour are demonized by these prosecutions. Gay men don’t seem very eager to associate themselves (even through philanthropy) with those who have less privilege than they do.
And what about all the gay men who are political conservatives? Their reasoning: get gay marriage, get rights in the workplace, and then turn around and support the very politicians (like Stephen Harper) who never supported you in the first place, politicians whose political party is filled with closet cases, and who support anti-feminist attitudes to abortion.
Also, I’ve heard lots of idle talk about queering gay marriage. People jaw on and on about the fact that gay men and lesbians could introduce the world to alternative forms of marriage — open relationships, polyamory, etc. That gay men and lesbians shouldn’t blindly participate in an institution that historically represses women and basically doesn’t work (so many marriages end in divorce!).
But who’s actually doing that?
And finally what about those in our gay community who happen to be feminine?
Many gay men shun them. They like their men to be ‘real’ men, and these days that means wearing beards and clomping around in construction boots (lumbersexuals anyone?).  Many gay men certainly don’t want any ‘fats or fems’ propositioning them on Grindr.
So why are gay men such bad citizens?
Because we all are. This is just the way it works. Forget the golden rule. Forget doing unto others as you would do to yourself. Just get that privilege and run with it. If other people don’t have the same privilege as you — well tough for them in this dog-eat-dog neo-con world. 
‘I’m happy to throw my garbage on my neighbour’s lawn. Hey, I do it in the dead of night, so no one is the wiser! Makes me happy, and I’m the one who matters to me, right?’
Right on, buster.