We're Queer, Remember?

Article excerpt

"Following legalization of same-sex marrige and a couple of other things," Andrew Sullivan has said, "I think we should have a party and close down the gay rights movement for good." This may sound extreme, but increasingly the press spotlight falls on a small group of white male journalists with just such views. Some, like Sullivan, Chandler Burr, and Bruce Bawer, are explicitly conservative and assimilationist. Others, like Larry Kramer, call themselves radicals. Even more than the avowed conservatives, Kramer saves his most demeaning language for gay men who have sex or for those who, like Edmund White, dare simply to write about it. Others, like Gabriel Rotello and Michelangelo Signorile, claim to speak for the They too tell us to be less queer, to claim as the norms of an imaginary American mainstream

Why do these voices dominate the media? the rest of the debate? Articulate and thoughtful responses can be found among the grass roots organizations in the still-powerful traditional of lesbian feminism, among artists, and in colleges and universities, where gay studies and queer theory have boomed over the past five years. But gay media have overlooked these voices. The Advocate for example, has failed to do even minimal reporting on queer theory In this publicity vacuum the gay right has been able to project itself as a virtual gay movement, one whose mission is normalization and the end of politics. Neoconservatives like Burr and Sullivan find a ready audience in the national press because their message is one many straight editors want to hear. And many gay men and lesbians, perhaps never happy to be politicized in the first place, are only too ready to retreat into privacy, isolation, and inertia.

Over the past five years, the assumptions of neoconservatism have crept over the gay movement like kudzu. Liberationist, like Liberal, has become a term of abuse. In place of democratic activism, some writers willingly endorse government regulation of sex. …