I’ll start by saying that I’ve grown to hate the word “gay”. I really don’t want to get into the semantics issue of “gay” vs. “queer” (or “invert” or “homphile” or whatever). My problem with “gay” is that it suggests an identity rather than a sexual orientation, and I ain’t buying into it.
I sleep with other men. I eat cereal. I drive a Toyota. I watch “The Simpsons”. I go to the grocery store. Big deal. These are things that I do. Taken together, they may speak volumes about my identity. Individually, however, they mean nothing much at all. I have nothing more (or less) in common with other men who sleep with men than I do with other men who drive Toyotas.
This is not to say that I have nothing at all in common with any of my fellow fudgepackers, or that I’m somehow “different” or “more unique” or “more developed”. It just means that my search for “community” is based more on shared interests than on shared sexual orientation. In other words, I’d rather spend an evening talking to someone who shares my love for urban theory and history or Krispy Kreme Doughnuts or roadside motels from the 1950s than with someone whose only common interest is a shared passion for sucking dick.
If someone I meet whose interests match mine happens to be straight or even (gasp) a woman, that’s just fine. If, on the other hand, he happens to be a man who likes to screw men, then we have one more thing in common. Cool, huh?
I guess what I mean is that some vague notion of “gay community” is not number one on my list of priorities in a place to visit or to live. Similarly, sexual orientation is not one of the top aspects in my choice of friends. Years ago, these things used to be very important to me, which is part of why I moved to San Francisco. I can sort of understand why they still might be important to some other people. But the older I get, the less I view the world in terms of sexuality.
I’m not talking about faux masculinity, nor am I saying that people shouldn’t “flaunt their sexuality”. I have no patience with closet cases nor with tight-assed macho men (whether they like men or women). I’m in favor of “flaunting”. I’m just not in favor of the notion that sexual orientation makes for any more of a “community” than does an aversion to pickles on hamburgers.
I’m not going to sit through a crappy movie rather than a good one just because the crappy movie happens to have a “positively portrayed gay character”. I’m not going to buy a CD by a band which sucks just because dicks are one of the things they suck. And I’m most assuredly not going to live in a pastel-colored neighborhood of overpriced boutiques and juice bars simply because it’s a “gay mecca”.
Nor, on the other hand, am I going to assume something is bad just because a fellow Sodomite was involved somehow. I don’t hate “gay people”. I do hate people who think being “gay” is the most important single aspect of their identity, because they become one-dimensional and boring.
Ultimately, though, if I had to choose between living in a town with 20 great gay bars and a huge gay ghetto or one with 20 great used bookstores and a few huge run-down neighborhoods, I’d choose the latter without blinking an eye.