david halperin is one of the people trying to re-enrich gayness after the genetic meltdown. well, among other things, this is a foucault approach, and halperin has been one of the very best readers of foucault.
“Gayness,” Mr. Halperin declares, “is not a state or condition. It’s a mode of perception, an attitude, an ethos: in short, it is a practice.” The great value of traditional gay male culture, he further posits, perhaps even more challengingly, “resides in some of its most despised and repudiated features: gay male femininity, diva worship, aestheticism, snobbery, drama, adoration of glamour, caricature of women and obsession with the figure of the mother.”
now let me ask me this: what does it mean - how does it relate to my heterosexuality or to my homophobia - that i reject the gay aesthetic repertoire more or less entirely? and i don't mean that i sit there and think 'that's too gay': i mean just flatly coming on such things i dislike them without effort or reflection; i wouldn't spend any money on them, e.g. i try to avoid divas of any kind at all costs in life or in entertainment. it's not that broadway musicals never had a good moment, but i find the whole style basically uninteresting: wow you just burst into extremely predictable song and dance there right in the middle of your life. cool. fun. oops i'm really fucking bored. the figure of judy garland does not interest me at all, or no more than a thousand other dead actors or celebrities. i abhor glamour. i would go far out of my way to avoid any exposure to opera of any kind, except maybe gilbert and sullivan. i do so love a snob, though, har har.
so my aesthetic repertoire is just the opposite of gay, i guess (not that there might not be the occasional overlap). and i certainly developed the basic set of preferences before i fully understood the sexual sub-culture signifiers (to the extent they were in place in 1972 or whatever). but i did develop these preferences at the same time that i was trying - i'd say with some embattledness - to establish a straight sexual identity. in a way, maybe every time i put on a merle haggard record i am fending off gayness or experessing homophobia.
but on the other hand, no one is really a monster in virtue of their sheer aesthetic preferences. can it be morally wrong to prefer flatt and scruggs to verdi or to dislike rococo interiors? first off, it's not under my control, exactly; i just do, though of course tastes can be pursued or cultivated. and second: it's not that i can't make actual arguments for these preferences; i do it all the time.
at any rate, i propose to criticize my own homophobic tendencies in almost any dimension but the aesthetic. i intend to promote equality and liberty for all god's creatures. but i don't propose to pretend that i think judy garland made better music than muddy waters. we're in a great gay moment. i propose to approve this politically with all my heart and soul while rolling my eyes at its aesthetic products.