the new gay
by joel perez

we love tom Prepare ye the way of the New Gay! I learned about Hanukkah the other day from Ria, a friend in Oakland who has a child to whom she gives Hebrew reading lessons. She told me that Hanukkah is a celebration of the time when a band of rebel Jews we love tomcame out of their hiding places and reclaimed the temple that the Romans had locked them out of. It was a revolution - and when God kept the Jews' lamps burning for eight days, they knew he was down with them. It struck me that the whole idea of the Jews reclaiming the temple isn't that far off from what's going on now with Tommy Ammiano and the Gays and City Hall. In my working understanding of the world, 1978 is one of the most important years ever. When gay-friendly mayor George Moscone and hippie-turned-handshaker Harvey Milk were assassinated by Dan White - the prototype for the now popular Freaked Out White Man™ - it was the beginning of the dark times. From that point on, the City began its conservative creep.

The Empire had big plans for San Francisco: lose the freaks, the hippies, the dreamy drifters with an itch for adventure, and turn this place into one giant, hundred-storied, multi-headed monument to Capitalism - a beacon to all the world: Here Is The Living Dollar. They gave us the AIDS to distract us and frighten us and send us cowering back into our closets, and then they promised us life through their reality: Assimilate into our booming biotechnological wonderland, kneel down before the Powers that Be, kiss the life-giving dollar and swallow the life-giving drug, and know what it is to live on your knees before the Man, faggot.

It hasn't been any picnic in Gayland the last 21 years. But that's what makes it all the sweeter to be in the here and now, in these last moments of the dying millennium - a totally arbitrary measurestick of Time, but a moment filled with meaning - a collective delusion with enough creative power to fuel a great push toward a new world, a new understanding. And that, in my working sense of the world, is why we gays are here: the evolution of the species. Being gay is as much about being a rebel and living outside the fear-built walls of straight culture as it is about sucking cock or staying up all night. It's about actually seeing the world differently, about believing, in the words of Auntie Mame, that "Life is to be lived!" For years before I was out, my straight friend would counter my whimsical talk with the line, "But there's an agreed-upon reality," implying that I could never live out my dreams. But here I am, Post Revolutionary Me, free to follow my fancy, to lead with my imagination. And this freedom is all thanks to the gays ... the ones who fought, the ones who died, the ones who had to move to Oakland because rents here got too high. As the arbitrary seconds count the last arbitrary minutes of these arbitrary last days; as the last theater is produced, the last music released, the last dance performed, the last parties attended, the last drugs consumed, we've got a cast of hundreds of thousands speaking to us from beyond, telling us, "Use the force, young Gay," and urging us onward in our revolution - in our Evolution. And in the end, when the Empire is defeated, the party will rage on and on and on, without an end, and we will know that God is down with us.


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