the butterfly room and Beloit. I love my friends.
i’d like to dedicate my very first post to an issue that I heard at the Reeling LGBT International Film Festival in Chicago that’s been bothering me throughout the year; the normalization of gay culture.
my friend noah and i went to James Franco’s remake of the1980’s Al Pacino movie Cruising, where Franco recreated the missing 40 minutes of the leather gay bar scene (which was omitted to avoid an X rating). the movie opens with Franco discussing the making of the movie with his co-director Travis Matthews. they discuss the reasoning behind the remake and what they’re trying to achieve by recreating this raunchy scene, and in doing so bring up interesting points about the current state of gay culture following the legalization of gay marriage.
Franco and Matthews say the only problem with the legalization of gay marriage is that it’s “normalizing” gay culture. hmm. at first, i thought the two were being too deconstructionist and picking apart the progress of the LGBT movement as a ploy to stay avant-garde. i was a little upset that these two straight white dudes were belittling gay marriage, something millions of people have been fighting to achieve for years.
Franco and Matthews went on to say that gay marriage creates unprecedented social expectations for the gay community. for example, same-sex couples who are satisfied with their relationship are now expected to get married. even after this argument, i was still annoyed. isn’t that what the gay community has been fighting for? normalization? they want to be recognized as normal people, normal aspects of our society.
after battling with the issue a few days after the film, it dawned on me that the social expectations assigned to the gay community run much deeper than marriage; we’re essentially expected to act a certain way, we’re assigned societal roles similar to gender roles.
indeed, gay marriage normalizes gay culture. in the past, being gay meant being a degenerate, a misfit. there wasn’t a place for gays in society so the made their own place, which contributed to the creation of rich gay culture. now that being gay is normal, now that there is a place for the gay community in our society, we’re expected to live up to the prescribed roles society has made for us.
some say this is a good thing. for obvious reasons, having a place in society is much better than being an outsider. unfortunately, as Franco and Matthews were arguing, the role that society (primarily the mass media) has assigned the gays is almost demeaning. the gays are portrayed as materialistic, condescending, and shopaholic. gays are supposed to be sexually deviant, wisecracking best friends. rather than encouraging the young gay community to express themselves however they please and denying the pressures of society, they’re being pigeon holed into this societal role. gay culture is being domesticated. whether this is good or bad, it’s happening.