Who Am I?

July 2, 1999 - Who Am I?

I remember a time long ago when I first came out. Being gay was something that wasn't fashionable. I remember it being a secretive closed-mouthed world filled with excitement, danger, energy, and much mystique.

Today, all of that has changed. The gay subculture has traded their individuality and uniqueness for a "Me Too" approach on life.

It disturbs me to think that there could be so many of us struggling for acceptance to such a degree that we have turned our sub-culture into a bunch of clean-cut Dickie and Polo-shirt wearing bunch of yuppies.

Gone are the days of long hair, funky clothing and wild haircuts. They have been replaced by corporate uniform attire and determination to be "just like everyone else."

Drag queens are mocked and frowned upon because they don't fit into the "norm" of this new sub-culture when it was the drag queens who fought for the very freedoms that we have today.

How could so many have overlooked such an obvious point?

We dress, act, and move about our lives to please others around us. A sick, and warped competition of peacocks which all look the same yelling "pick me, pick me.."

There is little to do with activism by the younger generation. Instead, we concentrate on where the next party is being held and how cheap the drinks are. Not to mention who's got the most expensive cell phone.

We fight for rights of marriage when we know full well that we will have to deal with the religious right and their views on the subject when instead we should fight for rights that provide us with the same economic freedoms as heterosexual people. Sure the "M" word sounds pretty but it doesn't solve all of the day to day hurdles of gay lifestyles. And you're not going to get Catholics to re-write their 'good book' now are we?

We shun those who have multiple sex partners as we ourselves jump from bedroom to bedroom over the course of our lives seeking perfection which is rarely found over the course of one's existence.

I find all of this amusing and disturbing at the same time. A sub-culture which has the ability to tailor it's individual lifestyle into something that works for both partners far and beyond the traditions of heterosexual relationships but failing to utilize this power for fear of rejection.

For years, members of the gay community were known as the trend setters of fashion and style, but take a look around you and you'll see that this is no longer so. We have pre-occupied ourselves so much with the notion of "fitting in" that we have squashed the very essence of individuality and flair for being "different." I'm sometimes embarrassed to admit that I belong to the same group of narrow-minded individuals.

I recently went to a local Gay dance club and found muscle clad men with shirts off wearing clothing that made them indistinguishable from one another as they danced in time to rhythmic and quite boring beats. I began to wonder why it was so important to look and act alike to the point where there was no originality. The parking lot was loaded with Jeep Cherokee's, Ford Explorers, BMW's and other vehicles considered trendy by the up and coming yuppie class but when they’re no longer trendy, what makes them desirable?

The following evening I was taken to a straight gothic-style club. Much to my amazement, I found men and women dressed in all types of attire symbolizing their tribute to individuality. Music was different from song to song, the dance moves were not rehearsed in front of a mirror and it made me wonder what had become of my own culture. How boring, sanitized and politically correct it had all turned.

Then it dawned on me... In an effort to be "just like them" we sold our souls to satisfy our insecure need to belong.

How sad to be left in a shallow position of emptiness. A room full of hungry gay souls but not a single one of them touchable. To be surrounded by talented individuals with independent thought patterns afraid to "do the wrong thing" for fear of being rejected by their peers. Is this the way the "conservative" mind of the majority really thinks?

I wondered how many of these people would be present if Stonewall happened in 1999.

What an unfortunate thing as to wake up in the morning wondering "Who am I?" and "What's the significance of my life?"

If this is what "being like them" entails. I think I'll stick to my own path of life.

Copyright, 1999. Rick Wagner