When I watched Making the Boys, the documentary about Mart Crowley's seminal gay play Boys in the Band and its film adaptation, from which the clip above was pulled, I was a little horrified to see Christian Siriano conflating his ignorance with cuteness. (I'll concede that getting goofy could be his way of dealing with embarrassment, and it seems very gotcha of director Crayton Robey to spring this question without checking first if this small, smirking haircut of a human was familiar with the subject of his doc.) Regardless, don't do this. Don't neglect the work that helped facilitate the increasing levels of public acceptance you experience, and don't act like it's funny when you do. Don't be a Christian.
In all of the anti-gay rhetoric regarding how sick, sad, damaged and damaging we are, no one acknowledges the culture homosexuals have produced as a direct result of their homosexuality. It's a rich culture, too. It's work that engages with the unique condition of same-sex attraction or tells truths about the specific bigotry faced by queer people or has a particular sensibility that is afforded to those who simultaneously exist beyond and within the status quo. It's bullshit that our enemies don't care to get to know us, but it's a travesty when we don't get to know ourselves. I worry that the foundations of our beautiful culture are being forgotten as we zoom through the future. I don't want that to happen. Not for anyone, not for me (there's plenty of the canon that I'm not yet familiar with).
Inspired by my own senses of curiosity and gay pride, Siriano's gaffe and Christopher Bram's recent and brilliant gay literary-cum-social history Eminent Outlaws, I propose we start a culture club (you needn't wear a bowler with multicolored braids, but it couldn't hurt). We'll regularly revisit homo pop culture of the past, mostly focusing on books and movies (although I've been itching to discuss Patrick Cowley's Mind Warp album, so I'll probably do that, too). I'm not just interested in fellating supposed classics; I want to check them for relevance. Do they hold up? Is there are reason people aren't reading/watching this shit? Or, why are they still?
Echoing Bram's ethos, I will be covering relics of male homosexuality only. (He wrote: "This book is about gay male writers and not lesbian writers. I chose this focus reluctantly, but I needed to simplify an already complicated story. Also, lesbian literature has its own dynamic and history. It needs its own historian.") I probably know more about Team Dresch and Jeanette Winterson than your average dick-haver, but I'm no expert. I am an expert, though, in the specific experience of being a gay male in New York right now and I will be measuring my experience against that of my subjects. I will also be choosing material produced specifically by queer men (or focusing on them to such an extent that they may as well have produced it, like Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning). Things will not be open up to vague notions of "gay sensibility." (Nooooo, Mommie Dearest.)
So every week (or maybe every two weeks), I'll write something up and then announce what the next entry in The Gay/V Club will be. Let's start with the inspiration of this post's inspiration: The Boys in the Band. I'll focus on the movie, but I'm also going to read the play (with the rapid-fire, mono-presented dialogue of the film, you kind of have to).
So look for this in maybe a week, and we'll get to the bottom of who you have to fuck to have a drink around here. I'm excited.