I missed this in the Trib Review. To be fair, the online edition is unclear whether it is a local piece or a reprint (there's a byline and a tagline). But “he” takes a closer look at the pursuit of the institute of marriage for the LGBTQ community in the context of “anti-marriage” movements of the past.
Of course, the lunacy of the bohemian free-love shtick should have been obvious from the get-go. For instance, when Michael Lerner, a member of the anti-Vietnam War “Seattle Seven,” did marry, in 1971, the couple exchanged rings made from the fuselage of a U.S. aircraft downed over Vietnam and cut into a cake inscribed in icing with a Weatherman catchphrase, “Smash Monogamy.”
Today Lerner is a (divorced and remarried) somewhat preposterous, prosperous progressive rabbi who officiates at all kinds of marriages — gay and straight — and, like pretty much the entire left, loves the idea of open gays becoming cogs in the military-industrial complex.
He also rightly identifies the socio-economic divides that threaten to undermine attempts to act cohesively right here in Western Pennsylvania.
The gay experiment with open bohemianism was arguably shorter. Of course, AIDS played an obvious and tragic role in focusing attention on the downside of promiscuity. But even so, the sweeping embrace of bourgeois lifestyles by the gay community has been stunning.
Now I'll admit I'm a bourgeois lifestyle gay woman. I just try to be aware of it and use my privileges to help. I realize how hollow that rings, but I also genuinely do think he's right now …. the divide is here. I've talked about it before so I won't rant here, but as we move into a post-DADT world we are going to see this playing out more and more often in the national debate. Organizations are now pegged as Gay, Inc (by me, too) and inside/outsider status seems to change daily. Organizations are struggling to reconcile the different agendas and priorities, but also the shifting cultural differences within the gay community. Setting aside those who oppose marriage in general, there is a very strong middle sector of the LGBTQ community who are much more concerned with their jobs, their housing and their healthcare. Marriage equality could help, but it seems to drain resources from efforts that could help much sooner and much more concretely and not be grounded in your identity as one-half of couple, rather than your identity as an American citizen.
Many of my conservative friends — who oppose both civil unions and gay marriage and object to rampant promiscuity — often act as if there's some grand alternative lifestyle for gays. But there isn't. And given that open homosexuality is simply a fact of life, the rise of the HoBos — the homosexual bourgeoisie — strikes me as good news.
I share the belief that as gays gain power and influence, it can be good. It can also cut them (us?) off from some of discriminations that power and influence (and affluence) buffer.
The challenge we face here in Western PA is that we don't have a leader who bridges these worlds. The only place where this barrier may come down is at the bars, but we've moved past the time when bars are “the” institutions for the community. With that comes the price of addiction, risky sexual behavior, isolation, and an insular, if somewhat safe, worldview. We haven't yet moved to a place where there's a replacement here in Pittsburgh. There are organizations who try and achieve moderate success, but … no leader.
That's going to be the necessary next step to galvanize Western PA's LGBTQ community to face down Darryl Metcalfe and push back against forces that perhaps strip us of existing rights and protections. Finding someone to inspire, to effectively reach across the socio-economic divide and to live transparently will be a challenge. Finding someone to unite the leaders of their factions and harvest their energies will be even more challenging as no one cedes power, even perceived power, without a fight.
I guess the challenge is to decide whether the fight is best fought within the community or beyond.
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