There is little I can say about The Grid’s recent “Dawn of the New Gay‘ that will match yesterday’s eloquent, touching, and provocative response from Elie. As a participant to the original piece, he was uniquely positioned to respond, and I felt it was very important for him to do so. He is also, through life circumstance, uniquely positioned to comment on some of the more inherent ontological issues that proved so polemic.
We watched with amazement throughout the last two days as our online communities first were intrigued, then shocked, and soon offended and outraged. Yet, this outrage, magnificently translated into a healthy, vigorous, and intelligent dialogue about the meaning and importance of identity politics, of queer community, of internalized homophobia, and of exclusivity and inclusivity.
Often as activists and equally as writers and thinkers, we lament the apathy of our generation, the fact that not only do we not remember Stonewall, but that we might not have the courage or the concern to face such an adversity were it to be a modern reality. We are a generation of slacktivists, of only mildly and often superficially engaged people who rarely deal with the uncomfortability of challenging the status quo. Yet, only hours after Aguirre-Livingtston asserted that we were past rainbows and queer activism, – a catalyst for a rather positive firestorm – we saw people from around the world descend into twitterdom and the cyberspheres to think about, to talk about, and to respond to his claims in a manner that only illustrated the power of, the need for, and the universal and pan-national ties to, some notion of queer community and the struggle for and claim to equality.
When Elie spoke to me about his involvement with The Grid piece, it sounded profoundly in-line with The Gaily’s own mandate of spreading the “new” gay agenda. When we saw the piece of course, we realized the absolute and incredible differences between our conceptions of the “new gay”. I quickly realized that we too might need to defend just the substance or meaning of that new gay or that new gay agenda.
The “new gay agenda” – or rather, The Gaily’s new gay agenda – is surely not the gay nor the agenda of all gays, but it is one that I, and our team, feel is incredibly important in fulfilling our mandate on this site. It also couldn’t be more different than that of Aguirre-Livingston. It is similar in the sense that we are interested in defying labels, and stereotypes, but that is where the similarities end. We should not defy labels and stereotypes by denigrating those who fit, accept, or desire them.
Our “new gay” describes a culture, an attitude, and equally a projection or desire for the future. It is a culture of a variety of sexually bent people and their allies, of anti-opression, and of general positivity. We are a team of queer and straight people who work and write from (again generally although not universally) a feminist, anti-homophobic (not always obvious even in gay media), non-mysogynistic, non-transphobic perspective and attempt to proliferate the notions of anti-racism, anti-classism, and anti-violence. Tyrone and I looked around before founding the Gaily, at the vast and gaping spaces of thoughtful lgbt media in our country with the potential of being both entertaining, but not wavering on depth and intelligence; that included the voices of women (rare), trans people (even more rare, although we too haven’t achieved this goal quite yet), racialized people (other than only anecdotally), and people with diverse and unique perspectives. We looked around at the lesbian and gay magazines and sites (yes, gay and lesbian – never trans or queer, and definitely not bi) in Canada – we saw a lacuna of these voices and wanted to provide a place for them.
We are proud to be that place now, and to have been a platform for Elie to challenge and to discuss, with courage, integrity, and honesty, his involvement and his regret. We also are overwhelmed by the positivity, and the intelligence of those who responded and encouraged him on this path. That is community. That is our community. That is why we are still here, why we are strong, and why we will continue to be a presence that pushes back against the oppression of our society, however thinly veiled it may seem to be in 2011.