Monday, November 05, 2007


By Kelly Cogswell

Feminism has ceded to post-feminism. Colonialism has been colonized by post-colonialists, and now, apparently, it's time for queers to make their death beds, and then lie in them.

We're over, kaput, passé. The New York Times says so, and so does Andrew Sullivan. Just let me grab a shovel, and I'll get right to burying myself. Or not.

Just because queers are getting priced out of the Castro in San Francisco, and other gay neighborhoods, and tons of us are fleeing to the burbs, doesn't mean the need for community is gone.

Take "post-feminism" -- please. The first time I heard the phrase was in grad school, just a year or two after my mother had gotten fired from her job as a clerk-typist at a bank. While older men were distinguished, she was merely too long in the tooth. I told her to get a lawyer. I don't think she ever did.

At an NYU grad school, where everything was post, I snidely wondered just who the original feminism had been for, and who had the balls to declare it dead when women like my mother were still getting mowed down in the gender war.

It stank of race and class. Just look who embraced the "post," all those academics who write in such tangled, elitist, post-modern language nobody can understand it but the other members of the cabal I clearly wasn't fit for.

That was fifteen years ago. Where's my parity? Isn't anybody else revolted at the premature post-ing of feminism? Not that it didn't need to change. The queer community does, too. That fish is dead in the evolutionary pond.

Still, it's not quite time for post-gay as long as gay marriage is banned, and dykes are still getting thrown out of restaurants in the West Village, and harassed at every street corner by nasty little pricks that shouldn't be surprised when one of us finally pulls out our own blade.

Half the reason queers are leaving their ghettoes is dollars, not sense. In New York, dykes first found a home among the burnt-out buildings and shooting galleries of the East Village. When that got too pricy we went to Williamsburg. Now with real estate crazy there, New Jersey is the next frontier.

Then there are those queers moving to the suburbs to pursue the American dream of 1.2 children and an SUV. Why not? Let them move to the wastelands that are apparently emptying themselves out into the newly heterosexual, newly tamed East Village.

Let them ruin the environment with their three cars and semi-detached energy wasters. Let them separate themselves from the human race and begin to worry what their neighbors think. Let them build the first queer mega-church. Let their children turn to drugs from anger and despair at the isolation and senselessness of suburban living.

Let them be like everyone else, if that's what they want, and embrace a dying lifestyle of petty disputes with neighbors over leaves dropped in one another's lawns and crabapples and unleashed dogs. Let them buy their little castles with moats and dragons and princesses in the attic dying to let down their hair.

In the burbs, you can forget you're a member of the human race. You can even forget you're queer, until the nice neighbors bring over tuna casseroles or whatever the equivalent is these days, and retreat home to rip you to shreds with their night and weekend minutes.

Just remember you'll never really be one of the gang. Women, fifty percent, more or less, of the population, aren't even close to equality, much less queers that at our most exaggerated weigh in at 10 percent. All the anti-bullying programs in the world are not going to protect us in high school where barbarous kids go after the freaks and minorities. All the queer religistas in the world can't change their holy books to offer us open arms instead of rocks aimed at the head.

Sure, society can change. We can pass better laws. We can creep forward if we persist. But imagining a permanent sea change -- delusion, sheer numbers are against us.

The need for queer neighborhoods has only disappeared for those middle-aged LGBT's who came out decades ago. Queer kids still need their Mecca's. Where else can they go? Youth groups at fundamentalist churches? Sports teams, those bastions of homophobia? It's unlikely they'll go knocking on doors in suburbia looking for queer potlucks like kids go door to door on Halloween.

Young queer pilgrims will come where they always have, to the cities, looking for others of their kind that fell off the same turnip truck, that were set down shipwrecked on the same planet. Seeing a few of us on TV, in chatrooms, support groups isn't enough. And if the migrations of tired middle-aged queers destroys their neighborhoods, they will build their own.

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