Thought I would share the guest post I did for Dani Elle Maas’s amazing MM Romance blog, LoveBytes yesterday. You can read it below or also the original post by Clicking Rich HERE. The advantage of doing the second is you will see a wonderful world of articles, essays, reviews and more. Either place you can see what I have to say about gays being homogenized and heteronormalized AND even BETTER, you can see the video of my drag act.
Not bad, huh?
Check it out, Girlfriends!
BG “Ben” Thomas
I Thought I Would Share a Special Moment (or two) With You!
Some of you may know that each year I go to a retreat called Midwest Men’s Festival. It’s the center of my year. In many ways the axis my world revolves around. It’s that important to me. It even inspired my novel, Summer Lover.
It’s a little hard how to explain just what Midwest Men’s Festival is. Without writing a novel here, that is, instead of an essay. If you ever saw that episode of Queer As Folk where Michael and Emmet go to Faerie Camp, you can get an idea. But part of what it is a total rejection of the homogenization and heteronormalizing of gay men.
What I mean by that is that it often feels that a big part of why gay men are becoming more and more “accepted” (and I can’t speak for LBTQ) is that we as a culture are becoming more and more “straight acting.” In fact, even amongst ourselves, that seems to be a sought-after quality. You see it on online dating profiles all the time! As if there is something wrong with crying, “Mary!” or “Sister!” or wearing drag or being so-called “effeminate.” Good God! It’s as if all those bully fathers who told us to, “Act like a man,” somehow got in control of the world. What does, “Act like a man!” even mean?
Awhile back I was writing a story in which a couple of “A-Gays” were “queening it up.” Often that means calling each other girl names instead of boy names. “Michelle” instead of “Michael,” for instance. “Louise,” instead of “Louis.” As in, “You listen here, Mary!” I often let my readers “help” me come up with stuff for my stories and then give them a special thanks if I pick their suggestion for the name of a made-up night club or gym or movie. This time I was asking for “girl names.”
And many, many people ripped me a new one! They were angry. A long-time reader unfriended and blocked me! They said I need to be the change they wanted to see in the world. That while there was a time where calling a gay man by a female name might have been acceptable, but now it was perpetuating the belief that “female” is not as good as “male.” That doing so means relegating men to the lower class rank of “women.”
I was stunned! Gay men WORSHIP women! 95% of our icons are females! Madonna and Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich and so many others. Women who didn’t or don’t take any s#it from any (straight) man or anyone else. Women who were and are their own people. There certainly weren’t any gay men to be our icons! Calling each other “bitch” wasn’t putting women down. It was WANTING to be a “bitch!” Because bitches are powerful. And as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
By asking me (read, telling me) that I, as a responsible writer and gay man, need to give up the stereotypes and stop saying things like, “Girl!”, I am being asked to give up gay culture. Gay men are being asked to give up something that kept gay men alive and gave us community for decades. When I am told that as the world has evolved, that gay men don’t “need” that anymore, people who are-gay men themselves are saying they know better than gay men, what gay men need. And they’re saying acting straight is better than acting gay.
One of the founders of the Gay Pride movement was Harry Hay. To semi-quote Wikipedia, Harry Hay. (April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002) was a prominent American gay rights activist…founder of the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States, as well as the Radical Faeries, a loosely affiliated gay spiritual movement… …Hay’s developing belief in the cultural minority status of homosexuals led him to take a stand against the assimilationism advocated by the majority of gay rights campaigners.
And one of those ways he did that was he created a movement in which gay men wore their stereotypes with pride! Rejected that we must be like everyone else.
Do you know in ancient societies, men became high priestesses? They’d be required to dress as women, but they did it with pride And although a lot of this “girl!” talk started in the 1920s because gay men who wore drag were accepted in many of the black clubs and they hung out with black women, I am willing to bet there was some Roman homosexual who turned to someone named Maximus and said, “Now listen here, Maxine!” (or the equivalent)
I don’t want to be straight, even though “many of my best friends are.” I don’t feel a need to be “straight acting.” I embrace my culture. I adore it
And this past week at Midwest Men’s Festival, I did so even more! I did a over the top drag performance with my friend Robert aka Ladybug. We were Rose and Begonia Bush. And I dare say we were pretty darned FABulous! And I am going to share that act right here! I hope you’ll watch, I hope you’ll love it, and I hope you’ll at least tentatively agree that this kind of fun must be alive forever.
And in NO way demeans women.
Because even though I don’t want to sleep with women, they are damned FABulous!
Peace and Love, Girlfriends!
BG “Ben” Thomas