Yesterday, during the last few hours of the 2010 ToFF Erotic Fair Art Weekend, Durk Dehner interviewed me on camera and asked a few very pertinent questions regarding the state of the Gay Community and whether the artistic representations of our tribe will continue to resonant with the oncoming generation of Queers. It’s a subject which I’ve given a great deal of thought over the years and since I was pulled into the conversation “cold” I don’t think that I adequately voiced my current position so I’d like to expand and clarify on the matter in this forum.
I told Durk that I see a great fissure appearing in the Gay Community. Eventually a significant portion of our brethren (I don’t know enough about Lesbians to claim to speak on their attitudes in this discussion. Ladies, please opine) will join the ranks of those who clamor for monogamous marriage, the “white picket fence”, adopting Romanian or Asian or African babies or going the surrogacy route, lining the pews of the supernaturalist’s domain, going to PTA meeting and in general becoming exactly like straight people “with a twist” (tee-hee). On the other side there will be the “sex pigs”. This appellation is used with respect, honor and the most heartfelt affection as I am a lifelong devotee. These are the Queers who will not conform to someone else’s rigid expectation of how they should conduct their lives, these are the rebels who will reject the demand for “normalcy”, these are the boys who will choose to chart their own destiny without the obtrusive and demeaning guidelines for “how things are supposed to be done”. So I see two very different camps emerging in FagWorld. Those who adopt a parallel “straight” existence and the creative core that celebrates our difference, our outcast status and our unique contribution to civilization (by sucking off strangers in public restrooms and thinking about the world from a outsider’s perspective—a stance that has created the best art in the history of mankind).
The straight-life clones will eventually become even more of an enemy to the sex pigs than the current batch of haters (”You can’t cruise the parks where I bring my precious children, Tiffani and Joshua!) but that’s another story for another day.
I just learned that the ADVOCATE’S skin-rag titles FRESHMEN and MEN have bit the dust as have the Mavety titles HONCHO, MANDATE, INCHES, PLAYGUY, TORSO (I saw this mentioned in an article about something else altogether so my facts haven’t been verified). On my trip to the fair I saw that the “Different Light” bookstore on Santa Monica was no more. There seems to be a Gay bookstore or bar closing happening on a regular basis in this country. These were the main outlets for Gay artists producing erotic imagery to survive commercially. Without the magazines and other establishments that supplied some measure of financial support for those like myself to disseminate our artwork (and get some survival compensation) there seems not to be a traditional structure available for the promotion of artwork dealing with sex between/amongst males. The internet? Who knows? I’m probably the worst “business” person alive. But I’ll tell you this, when the “Picket Fence” crowd starts insisting that all the sex pigs either join their bandwagon of boredom or disappear completely, the new generation of Queers that prefer to identify and determine their right to be who they want to be will find a way to get out the images and literature and films and music that exemplify their stance. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years and we will always be better, smarter and more creative about messaging to each other. When our own same-sex brothers attack (and they will), a whole new realm of homoerotic art will develop to combat the threat and unite the cleaved tribe. Nothing sparks the creative impulse like repression.
There will be significant differences in the visuals to what we have been accustomed to as Gay art evolves. I doubt we’ll see the fixation on uniforms. The “New Fags” see cops as corrupt and inept oppressors. They see soldiers as men willing to suspend personal morality for a paycheck while murdering and maiming other human beings in foreign lands on the say so of some corporate-owned politician. They’ll remember Abu Grahib. They’ll have seen Marines taking it up the ass for dollars on various websites so the “unattainability” factor is removed. So the law enforcement and military figures that fueled the fantasies of bygone multitudes of Gay artistic expressioneers will probably become quaint and hopelessly “retro”. And the New Fags see the existing motorcycle culture as a bunch of middle-income old farts play-acting instead of as rebellious, bad-ass, Marlon Brando/James Dean types that caused earlier generations to swoon with secret awe hence those leather standards will cease to be a defining of how Queers envision rugged individuality. And let’s face it, the entire arsenal of B/D/S/M has been co-opted but the “fashion” sector. So the iconography will change and morph and develop as the need to unite the tribe moves our propaganda needs forward.
This is not to say that the images that galvanized us as a “people” for the past half-century should be discarded or disrespected. They are important because they brought us together and bestowed a universally understood “language” that we needed to form a coherent identity which could (and did) effect social change. How we saw ourselves included in drawings and words clarified how different, valuable and viable we were to fight against our enemies. The art of Tom and Blade and Domino and Harry Bush and later on myself (well, really, did you think I’d not exercise my ego? Hahaha!!!) and all of the artists since are part of a continuum. It was/is an act of defiance. The early and current depictions of homoerotica are just part of a long line of creative efforts that solidify our genuine stake in the world. It’s important to understand how our tribe dealt with role expectations then and now. It’s all of a piece and as the New Fags take over they’ll be wise to honor and build on the legacy we have imparted. I’m sure the “Picket Fence” contingent would like nothing more than to disabuse and bury all the drawings and photographs that appeal to cocksuckery (to SAVE THE CHILDREN!!!! no less) but they underestimate us sex pigs. A lot of us would rather take our chances in the free and open sea rather than march forever partnered into the confines of Noah’s Ark and our artwork will tell them so.