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Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Divided (AH! I'M GONNA SAY IT!) Rainbow 

When I worked at Giovanni's Room I was the rainbow buyer (most of my clothes are now navy blue and black). It sounds funny to say "the rainbow buyer," but that's what the fuck I did! You name it, if it came in a rainbow, it was my job to buy it before 25 people came in and requested it, and bug-bug-buggered me until UPS delivered some relief. Retail disturbs the mentals, just ask me.

But Frank I'm glad you came back from the store with your report of the Samuel Delany reading. All the readings are almost always gender divided there, and frankly, most any other queer "community" reading, or event is the same. But they're also racially divided, and boy oh boy are they divided by class. Drag queens are about the only ones who will appear at any and all events it seems, which makes me happy because drag queens can't please me enough!

A few years ago I attended the screening of PRIDE DIVIDE, a documentary which tried to answer WHY gay men and lesbians don't get along. The director and a panel of 4 or 5 "important" Philadelphia queer "community" leaders were there for Q&A after the screening. The film was not very effective in answering the deeper questions, which I believe have to do with class. When I was given the opportunity to speak, I pointed out that ALL the members of the panel were wealthy business owners, and how, with our continued focus on consumption of goods and services being the way to win America over to gay rights, those without money in the "community" are being left behind. The panel being a perfect example, power and money being synonymous with being able to speak for the "community" as a whole.

Lesbians really DON'T always have as much money as gay men. I saw this on a daily basis at Giovanni's Room. There are men who will BLOW a couple hundred bucks a week on skin zines and "art books" (fancy porn), while the women were often paying in exact change for a sale book. People can get as tired as they want hearing about feminism, and hearing about the unequal stand financially and otherwise between men and women, but getting tired of hearing it ain't making it change one bit! And when I brought up issues of class, the panel had nothing to say, literally, nothing. The director said something like, "Hmm, that's interesting." That's interesting? What kind of bullshit is that? That fucking panel was a disgrace!

If they had asked Rita Odessa, head of the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Task Force to be on the panel, they would have heard a different story. Rita would have championed my views and used her time on stage to REALLY educate us all. The only woman on the panel was the head of the Triangle Group, some fancy yuppie, Republican, Log Cabin headed organization for gay and lesbian business owners. It was bar and club owners on stage for crying out loud! The same people who NOW get awards for "community service." Huh?

By the way, as a matter of historical fact, it was lesbians who got the ball rolling, right from the beginning. Tough, crazy, fierce women who pushed the system as far as they could to create a movement which would attempt to provide safety for gay men and women. It was butch lesbians and drag queens duking it out with cops at the Stonewall riot! All the young Republican types FLEEING out the backdoor. This I heard from Marsha P. Johnson, the drag queen who literally threw the first brick in the riot, who was homeless at the time she gave the speech I heard.

But if it hadn't been for the thousands of lesbians across America in the 60s and 70s creating co-ops to pull their meager funds to print radical newspapers and hire lawyers, there would have never been a gay movement. And these asshole "community leaders" wouldn't be strutting on stage to accept their awards today.

By the way, I'm in an anthology that's been forthcoming for several years now called Everything I Wear Is Blue. It's an anthology of queer working class writers. It's been nearly impossible for the editor to find a publisher, and that's no surprise, especially now with the PUSH to pretend harder than ever that everything's peachy with our economy, etc. There's plenty of money in the gay publishing industry to print the garbage the gay Republican Party leaders have to say. And there doesn't seem to be enough trees in the world for anthologies of gay first time sex, gay first time anything. I'm thinking about pulling together an anthology of gay last time sex, where survivors of couples write about the last time they made love. Actually, my idea is that it NOT be gay, but include gay, straight, or whatever. And WHERE'S the anthology of cranky rickety old gay writers!? Maybe with the aging Baby Boomers we'll finally see such a book come to print?

CAConrad




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