The Death of Gay Culture

Bradley ManningThere used to be a large minority of the gay community that never wanted marriage equality. These people didn’t want to be like the straight population and they feared that their movement would be co-opted by the corrupt mainstream society. They were right.

Recently, it was announced that American hero and government scapegoat Bradley Manning would be the Grand Marshall of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. After this announcement the SF Pride board president Lisa L Williams released a hysterical statement saying it was all untrue. She said, “Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform—and countless others, military and civilian alike—will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.”

Glenn Greenwald countered her argument in some depth. He pointed out that her claim that Manning put people in harm’s way is “a substance-free falsehood originally spread by top US military officials which has since been decisively and extensively debunked, even by some government officials.” He then goes on to note all of the vile sponsors of the parade that are a-okay with Williams:

So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture. Even at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, once an iconic symbol of cultural dissent and disregard for stifling pieties, nothing can happen that might offend AT&T and the Bank of America. The minute something even a bit deviant takes place (as defined by standards imposed by America’s political and corporate class), even the SF Gay Pride Parade must scamper, capitulate, apologize, and take an oath of fealty to their orthodoxies (we adore the military, the state, and your laws). And, as usual, the largest corporate factions are completely exempt from the strictures and standards applied to the marginalized and powerless. Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation’s worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome.

As I argued last month, the problem is that the LGBT community is no longer a liberal constituency. In a short period of time, the assimilation will be complete. There will be no “gay” identity and those previously associated with it will go on to be liberal or conservative as their incomes dictate. So it is no surprise that in San Francisco especially, those who organize the Gay Pride Parade are no more liberal nor willing to counter power than the organizers of Chicago’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. But it is still sad, because even the gay community in San Francisco knows what it is to be an oppressed minority. They should celebrate Bradley Manning and not spit government claims at him like he were a witch on trial in Salem.

Say goodbye to the scary anti-establishment San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. For good and bad, say goodbye to gay culture itself.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

3 thoughts on “The Death of Gay Culture

  1. It was Hannah Arendt, I believe, who pointed out that the French who resisted Nazi occupation (who were morally offended by fascism, not just bugged by an occupying army) tended to be the outcasts — especially gays and struggling artists/intellectuals. If you had a decent job and happy kids, it was much harder to take a principled but exceedingly dangerous stance.

    I didn’t know Manning was gay, but it doesn’t surprise me. The military probably still is rabidly homophobic. (It was during my brief flirtation with military school 16 years ago.) A man who is ostracized and isolated is more likely to be a rebel. I imagine if Manning had been better-liked and one of the boys, he would have found it harder to make a move which guaranteed a permanent break from his peers.

    Not to say that the gay community should stay marginalized to give us more Mannings and Burroughs and Gore Vidals. Any more than Black citizens should be segregated to give us more James Baldwins and Richard Wrights. But of course there is something lost when a fighting minority gets mainstreamed.

    I’m torn. Part of me hopes Republicans keep demonizing gays and immigrants. Not because I don’t want them to be equal members of our society — they will, whether Republicans fight that change or not. But because the longer Republicans fight it, the more people will remember what Republican leadership proudly stood for. Asian-Americans in much of the country tend towards conservatism, but not so much in California, where the history of racism against people of Chinese and Japanese heritage is still within living memory.

    Yet the longer Republicans fight against equality, the longer people have to endure prejudice. Which means I’m in favor of Republicans losing that fight as quickly as possible. It will then be our job, and the job of people in those formerly-discriminated-against communities, to remind everyone of the past. Which (given the historical mistake it’s always been to skew public policy in favor of the rich) is our job today.

  2. @JMF – I think Manning being gay could have had something to do with his actions, although I don’t think he was out. Otherwise, he is a classic whistle blower. He was a true believer. This is a problem with propaganda. A lot of people really believe it and when they learn that it is all BS, they react very badly–at least from the propagandists’ perspective.

    I think you are wrong about Asian voters, at least recently. The truth is that most non-whites know that the Republican Party is against them. Also, non-Christians and even non-fundamentalists know the Republican Party is not their home. When Romney lost the Asian vote big, Republicans scratched their heads. How could it be when Asians were hard working and rich? (Note the implied racism: other non-white races are lazy and poor.) Of course, on economic issues, the Democrats are about as conservative as the Republicans. But they aren’t a hateful and stupid party. Very slowly, smart Republicans are learning that they really are in the stupid party and that there is no quick fix. Most of their base votes for them specifically because they are the stupid party.

  3. I am probably wrong about Asian voters — that happens when one makes generalizations based on a few personal contacts instead of polling data. Whoops!

    Manning wouldn’t have had to be an outed gay man to feel ostracized in the military. Homophobia is so institutionalized (among military-school types, at least, who make up much of the officer core) that the worst insult, a common one, is suggesting someone is gay.

    There’s a story that, not long after Clinton suggested the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, he visited a warship and saw sailors with mops on their heads pretending to be prancing queens. If the story’s true, Clinton should have immediately fired the master of the ship. If it’s not true, it’s still the kind of thing military people found awfully amusing back then. I was in military school in 96-97, and we were told, grudgingly, that Clinton was technically the Commander-In-Chief. More than implied was that since Clinton’s feeble pro-gay policies offended military sensibilities, he was CIC in name only.

    I imagine Manning is a whistleblower — you don’t risk a military tribunal and military prison unless you’re pretty motivated. (Servicepersons are not tried under federal or state law, but under the Uniform Code Of Military Justice, which is far less friendly to defendants.) Part of what makes someone a whistleblower, however, is feeling isolated in what you consider a corrupt culture. The contemptuous attitudes military personnel have towards gays, often women, and almost always the foreign nationals they might be "liberating" at the time must have gotten into his head.

    Had he been less of an isolated figure, he might have found other ways to leak the information, as Daniel Ellsburg did. Perhaps a sympathetic journalist might have been able to convince an elected representative to bring up the issues. Perhaps (probably) not. I feel for the man — under the UCOMJ he is definitely screwed.

    His leaks to Assange didn’t really reveal anything most everyone on the planet hadn’t already suspected — that the US foreign-policy machine is out of control and blind as a bat. And I’d be very surprised if his experiences with the rank intolerance and small-mindedness of his superiors didn’t play a factor in his decision.

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