Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gay Identity

I've been thinking a lot lately about gay/bi identity. In growing circles, especially upper-middle, post-mainline-Protestant/liberal-Catholic, semi-liberal ones, there is no gay identity. There's no need to come out, you can bring home anyone (provided they're in somewhat the same parameters as you) and there won't be an issue. In these safe, white-bread circles, there's no need for queer activism because homophobia is not known...except for the state/federal level.

The safety and acceptance is wonderful, but there is no gay/bi identity. I've known a small handful of people in situations like these - one of them took me a few months to wrap my mind around - and they have a really ard time relating to the queer community because they lack or even decline the identity. The thing with these social groups is that everyone is so "straight-acting"; gender variance is Other.

These groups are a lot like the HRC: the safety and acceptance are exclusive no matter how much they pretty it up. They don't see homosexuality and bisexuality as gender-related issues (Riki Wilchins says the exact opposite. I think it depends on the situation) so, if you step outside the liberal-by-comparison gender roles, that welcome is withdrawn. Queerness is held at arm's length or further, nonconfrontational gayness and bi-ness are fine. This is where the gay and bi identities wear away to no identity and leave gender-variant people out in the cold.

The thing is, the government, powerful religious groups, renters, employers, schools, etc. and violent people in general equate all non-breeders with each other no matter how "straight-acting you are." They care about the doing, not the being. The less gender-variant you are, granted, the less likely you'll experience discrimination and harassment. On a government level, though, we're all fucked.

Unfortunately, for a lot ofp eople and institutions, gay/bi identity exists because we are oppressed. Without oppression, our actions and behavior would be considered "normal" so the safety, symbols, empowerment, etc. would not be considered necessary. I honestly don't believe that I would have Pride or even the identity had I come into an accepting environment - it just wouldn't occur to me. I do love my Pride and queer identity!! Not because I'm oppressed but because I love the community, culture, freedom, etc.

Take away the oppression, discrimination, harassment, raised eyebrows, closet, etc. and gayness/bi-ness becomes normal. When it's normal, there's no identity. This is a long loooonnnng way away...but it may happen. I hope that Pride won't wear away with it.

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