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8 July 2007, 2:17 am No Comments

What is The New Gay: Michael Defines "The New Gay"

The New Gay can mean many things to many people. For me, The New Gay site is a web incarnation of something I have been working on for a while. Personally, I have found the mainstream gay “culture” to be pretty pathetic, and have worked towards providing more opportunities for people who want something different out of a queer experience, and who want opportunities to meet like-minded people. My first endeavor along these lines was to establish the QUALM (queers united against laughable mainstream) email list back in 2002. This list was and still is a place for free-thinking homos to post messages about alternatives to mainstream gay culture. QUALM then spawned Feint, which was a “music lounge night for queer boys and girls, and their friends.” Feint then spawned Taint (with very little help from me), which is still going strong. My feelings about what The New Gay is are pretty well expressed in the “What is QUALM” message that gets sent out to the QUALM list. I post it again here as my offering of “What is the New Gay?”

(Except for the first paragraph, you can pretty much substitute The New Gay for QUALM)
What is QUALM Anyway?

Good question, huh?

Well, I started this mess (QUALM, that is) but I by no means “own” it or “lead” it. QUALM is a Xerocracy. (A word I learned from Critical Mass.) It means that there is no leader and everyone is equal. If you want something to happen, you make it happen. A definition I found online: Rule by whoever feels like doing the photocopying.

With that said, I can tell you what I was thinking when I started this group and started soliciting members. I was thinking that there is no space in DC for people like me: people who don’t fit perfectly into the mainstream gay culture, mainstream straight culture or straight counterculture. There is no venue where I can meet people like myself: no community center at the corner of 14th and S where other cool, free-thinking queers can meet, interact, play scrabble, become friends or lovers, etc.

What makes us different? What sets us apart from these other cultures or communities? Well, being queer definitely separates us from the straight cultures. And the only queer culture in DC is pretty laughable. More so for the gay male culture in DC, but I think the lesbian-identifying culture could probably use a new outlet, too.

But I digress: what is it really that sets us apart from the gay mainstream? Here is what I like to think. I would like to think that people like me, those interested in QUALM, we are thinkers. We question things. And for good reason. Most likely for all of us, when we started questioning our sexual identity and question the norm of who we were told we should be attracted to, we kept going. We continued to question other norms. A big one for a lot of us I am sure is we started questioning music. We started looking for music with deeper meanings, that we could identify with, etc., and we found it outside the mainstream music cannon. We found it in what used to be called “alternative” yet now that label has a whole new mainstream meaning.

I for one kept going. I began questioning our society’s use of natural resources, becoming a huge recycling proponent and high-school environmental activist. And I kept going, forgoing meat and other animal products for several reasons: moral, health, environmental, etc. And I keep going: I question advertising. I question the “American Dream.” I question car culture. I question Microsoft. (Yes, I am a mac user.) I question consumerism. I question capitalism. I question the status quo.

I can’t be the only one.

There used to be a day when gays and lesbians were known and respected (at least in retrospect) as artists, scientists, free-thinkers, writers, etc. (Someone help me out here, I haven’t done much along the lines of queer studies.) Now, though we have done a lot of work at gaining acceptance, we are generally known as a set of stereotypes which include AIDS and Home Depot.

When did all these gays and lesbians stop thinking? Stop challenging business as usual? They seem to have come to grips with their sexuality and, in finding a mainstream culture that will accept them for who they want to sleep with, stop thinking.

I for one have not taken that easy route. And I am sure that no one else who has interest in QUALM has either.

That’s what this is about.

It’s about sharing all the non-mainstream thoughts and feelings, questions and answers that we, as the queers who didn’t stop questioning, are exploring in this world, this culture, this town.

So bring it on! I for one want to learn something out of all of this.

Your comments are welcome!

Your humble host.

October, 2002

Read Zack’s definition of The New Gay.

Read Ben’s definition of The New Gay.

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  • Papagayo said:

    As a young man who feels completely alienated by mainstream gay culture, I’m so glad to read what you’ve written. You gave words to that feeling that mainstream gay culture devalues critical thought over mass consumerism and conformism. It’s better being queer when we talk about these iniquities. Thanks.

  • dBen said:

    Why not just reject gay culture as a whole? Why is that so frightening? Why is it not possible to construct new forms that transcend the void Gay culture has become?