Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Let the Queer Arts Bloom!

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Let the Queer Arts Bloom!

Article excerpt

Our thriving grassroots lesbian and gay culture allows us to be as raunchy, spiritual, or pissed off as we are in real life.

As I dip my spoon into the delicious soup of lesbian and gay culture bubbling away under the Web cam's watchful eye and on our TV and movie screens, I can taste that we queer folks are experiencing our own version of globalization. These days lots of us are simultaneously glued to the TV on W & Grace night while also clocking extra hours at PlanetOut.

Sure, the proliferation of shared mass media has deepened our national GLBT community, but though this centralization has conjured a kind of common watercooler for us all to gather around and kibitz, I find myself always seeking out the messy human immediacy of homegrown culture. As Chairman Mao (or maybe it was Paul Lynde) once said: "Let a thousand queer flowers bloom!" I love when people are gathered in a homo-friendly alternative art space, sleazy drag bar, or independent coffeehouse to have a unique nonglobal experience of the edgiest, purest, trashiest, most amazingly fabulous queer expression that money or love can buy.

There has been oodles of criticism that as representations of our community get more mainstream, the more likely it is they will be sanitized of any messy sexuality or confrontational politics. While I do think that critique underestimates just how valuable these prime-time images are, I also would bet you a round of cosmopolitans that if we ever get Will & Grace action figures, we'll find only asexual flat plastic where Jack's and Will's meat and potatoes ought to be! That's why we can be proud of our thriving grassroots lesbian and gay culture, which allows us to be as raunchy, spiritual, or pissed off as we are in real life.

As a wandering performer who travels to 40 cities a year (from Chattanooga to Louisville to Salt Lake City), I have a front-row seat to the diversity of expression in the nuzzling specificity of hundreds of cities' gay theaters, arts centers, bookstores, choruses, and film festivals.

Our community is blessed with heroic lesbian and gay arts organizers all over the country who are making festivals happen on a dream and a song--and frequently out of theft own checkbooks. …

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