Killer (Prom) Queen

So, pun intended, I suppose, let’s get something straight: I fully support gay rights, k?

But I am also a critical thinker and so when I see or read something that catches my eye and makes me think “Hrm, I dunno…” I gotta say something. Especially when no one else really seems to be doing so. In the Proposition 8 melee, we cannot afford to lose our critical thinking skills simply upon hearing about something that seems celebratory within the gay world, correct? If we do, then we become sheep and vegetables with opposable thumbs, clapping and saying “Hurray!” at anything that seems like it might be progress. Because, see, what if it really isn’t progress? And even morese, what if it isn’t progress in the way that we would like it to be? Kinda like a ballot measure that hides its true intentions underneath a whole lot of political mumbo jumbo and gobbledy-gook that the average person cannot understand, some things really need to be looked at under a much higher lensed microscope.

That said, I’m not saying that this issue is evil or like one of those measure. FAR from it. It is a very simple everyday type thing. However, the way I see it, it should be at least gazed at a bit closer due to the simple fact that it IS such a simple local “nothing” issue.

So I opened up my Facebook today, and I noticed that a few of my friends were posting this article about Sergio Garcia, a Senior at Fairfax High School. Apparently, this young man was just crowned “Prom Queen.” Um, OK, no big. Kinda cool, right? I went there, I know what that school was like when I was there, so I was excited in a way to have this occur. So I posted it. But….I took it down within 2-3 minutes.

Houston, we have a problem.

Should’ve been fine. Should’ve been great. Should’ve been able to just add this to the list of the pro-gay equality stuff that I post on the ol’ social networking stuff. Except…I couldn’t. Whether it was due to the writers or due to his own speech decisions, what was within the article made it impossible for me to get behind this issue. As a woman and as a woman who has been a significant gay-rights advocate for her whole life. See, the byline underneath his picture in the LA Times quotes him as saying, that he “felt invincible after beating out the female candidates.” OUCH. Then, to add to that, within the article he states that he doesn’t want to be a girl, reiterates that he will not be wearing a dress, and that the whole thing began as a “stunt or a challenge.”

promqueen

Perhaps if they had not postured the entire thing as Sergio having “beaten out” the female candidates. And perhaps he was misquoted. But I bristled a bit. I really did. I asked myself, “Would a woman have been able to run for prom king?” And………..I got a resounding NO WAY, JOSE. So, I ask you, is this progress? I suppose it is in a way, but most of us recognize that the younger generation really could care *less* about sexuality. It’s even stated in the article.

See, there’s also this historical dilemma about women and the gay community, too. When the AIDS crisis was at its height, an incredible amount of women’s health groups and lesbian groups supported this issue, marched and helped out, even though it wasn’t even “their issue” at the time. In countless documentaries that I have seen, and people I have spoken with, these same women have expressed a sad sentiment that they do not feel or have that same support from the male gay community. (*disclaimer: this is not meant to be a statement about all gay men, btw*) As a woman who can (and has) go to (male) gay leather bars and usually exchange phone numbers sometimes more often than in a straight bar, I very clearly have a wonderful relationship with the male gay world. However, there is a certain misogyny that exists. There is a prejudice against men that exists within certain areas of the lesbian community, as well, I have seen that too, but…in a world that already predicates itself in a manner that does not necessarily favor those of the XY-chromosome persuasion…..well? It can be tough.

At any rate, back to prom, right? Look, I’m excited for this kid. He made headway in something that made him feel proud and happy, he feels like he did good for his gay community and made strides or whatnot, and I do support him in his struggles. He’s a latino kid in LA who is openly gay and proud, which is problematic in and of itself. I mean, his homelife can’t necessarily have been a picnic, right? Add gay archetypes to the mix and, well, we have something else entirely. In this way, I believe that Sergio is taking it to the next level. Applying an aspect of gay culture to high school culture, in a way, enmeshing the two into one. However, I do not believe that this is a necessity nor do I believe that it is a positive or a progressive stance to take, for women or for men. In fact, I feel it is quite self-centered and selfish. However, as we all know, high school kids are some of the most self-centered people in the universe so this is no big surprise. But it is by no means a malicious act, and I do want to be clear about that as well.

The issue comes from not thinking ahead and not listening to his peers and not thinking about what the effects of this act could be. Sure, it’s cute enough, have a prom “queen.” But the LA Times positioned it poorly- they (whether he intended it or not) made it sound like he was quite pleased to have won over the girls, which sounded pretty nasty to me, although not to the immediate reader, still reeling from Prop 8’s fucked up repeat beatdown the other day. Most everyone these days is looking for something-anything-positive to hear/post/know about how people are reacting to the gay world. But the problem is, this isn’t the thing. And we really need to take a closer look at what would have made a real difference.

Wouldn’t it have been more effective to have him be the prom king and come with his male date? Wouldn’t that be more of a fuck you in the face of the masculine-defined idea of “prom king” a la films like Carrie? He states that he does not want to be a girl and that he’s a boy with a “different personality.” So how does “different personality” all of a sudden equal prom queen? He’s not a tranny, nor does he express the desire to be one, he seems to be quite secure in being a gay male of the most average variety. What was wrong with running for prom king?

I’m just not sure how to place this one. And to an extent, writing this makes me feel like I’m a hater, which I know, full well, that I am not. I know that this is a messy and tricky situation that puts women in a precarious situation where they get to play second fiddle. And while I do love my gay boys something fierce, I think I’d be pretty pissed if a guy won for prom queen and I was running and had a chance to win. ESPECIALLY if they were initially just doing it for a lark, and then the idea got unintentional momentum.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that this situation is quite a bit more complicated than just posting the article on Facebook. I couldn’t do it. It is not 100% celebratory for me. I support, but I question. It may simply be prom, but hey- prom means a great deal to a lot of folks. Look at Carrie. That’s a perfect example of how that event can be so momentous in one person’s life. Also good example of why you should treat people better in high school, but that’s a WHOLE different blog.

While I congratulate you Sergio, I would ask you to take a closer look at what your royalty has actually given you. Publicity, sure, yup. You got your 15 minutes. But where does it go from there? Please think about what equal rights means, not to mention the progression of archetypes and stereotypes. Is a “queen” what you wish to represent? Is that who you are? Is that what you are? Does that actually do much for the positive progress of the gay community, let alone this marvelous program that you seem to have been a part of at your school?

As for me, I find it disappointing and disheartening. Until the day comes when we can have a prom king who is a female, I think the idea of a prom queen who is male and does not consider himself to be transgendered is a bit more than frustrating and a bit head-shakingly irritating, to be perfectly honest. And accompanying that is the passion and fervor with which people seem to overlook these issues in favor of positive stories about gay issues. Hey! Newsflash! Positive stuff happens all the time and always has! Even before Prop 8! Hard to believe, I know, but true. Either way, keeping your eyes on the prize also means keeping your eye on the ball and staying critical. So long as we do that, we should be fine. For now, I hope the young man enjoys his tiara.

Advertisements

California Dreamin’ or There’s No Place Like Home-ophobia

What is California to me? It’s my home. The place I have grown up, gone to school, and lived my life. It is also the place I have partied with drag queens, watched my friends die from AIDS, and educated other teenagers on how not to get infected when I wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license. Being raised in California, primarily in Los Angeles, has made me part and parcel of gay culture just as much as liking music with a harder edge included me in certain musical subcultures. But that means that today’s battle which was fought & lost last November and had a lovely little deja vu experience today was also part of my battle.

And it made me tired. It made me very very very tired.

Because NONE of it makes any fucking sense to me. It’s like giving a few kids some candy in the classroom, and ignoring the rest. Don’t get me wrong- I’m beyond ecstastic that the people who are already married get to keep their marriages because I truly believe that at the end of the day, THAT is the thing that we’ll be able to have in our favor, but….seriously? Where is the logic in all of it?

OH YEAH! THAT’S RIGHT! THERE IS NONE!

Why would you do that? It just makes us look stupid, backwards and illogical. It makes us, as a state, look like we can’t do our math right or make our decisions correctly or stand by ANYTHING we’ve ever stood for. California used to be this amazing, mystical Gay Shangri-La back in the day…is this a backlash? And is it a backlash just from the people who have money? Because, realistically, no one who lives in this state would really care after a while…They’d get used to it. After all, man, this is California….home of The Dude!

theDude

The Dude abides.

And need I also remind you that we are also the undisputed birthplace of figures such as Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Bill & Ted??

spicoli-fast-times-ridgemont-high-surf-no-dice

All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.

billted

Excellent!

Now I do not mean to knock these guys by any stretch of the imagination. Please do not misinterpret my words. I could write separate pieces on the philosophical significance of each character and why they are integral to the film and to that film’s ultimate discussion of California and/or Los Angeles culture on a whole. However, in this particular circumstance, one of my thoughts is that in a media-ridden society like ours, perhaps we have been taken on a bit of a ride recently as to the “state” of our state.

Maybe California is no longer the place we once knew it to be. It most certainly is not the place that Harvey Milk escaped to so many years ago. And yet…look what happened to him. On the other hand, we all know that Dan White was a crazy bastard (played terrifyingly well in the film by Brolin- if you haven’t seen it, rent the damn thing, what’s WRONG with you???), and was ready to blame his own insecurities partially on a cream-filled snack cakes, for crying out loud.

So then…what *is* it to most people? A place of sunshine, a place of freedom, a place of escape. If you look throughout the diaries and landscapes of most of the folks who came here in the 60’s/70’s  from other parts of the country, it was refuge, solace, a home. They had literally put on the ruby slippers and…….HEY! Here they were! San Francisco, Venice, amongst friends, lovers, confidantes…There were very few other places like it. New York had its moments, but, well, y’know- the weather?

And you had ART. And LOTS OF IT. And theater. So you had things erupting like The Cockettes…

Or you had films being made like Flaming Creatures by Jack Smith. Or you had Harvey Milk.

Or you could JUST BE.

See, that was the glory of California, right? It was the state of freedom.

So what happened? Why is it that I was disappointed by my state but utterly unsurprised? Why is it that all of my thoughts today revolved around the fact that I find that perhaps there is a certain level of complacency that is just not being looked at? We can march, we can complain, we can blog and yell our gay/straight/transgender/purple/blue/whatever heads off, but is it going to make a difference?

Because the point to me is NOT marriage. Everyone knows that marriage is no guarantee of anything, and never was. It is no guarantee that your spose will not bring home a fatal sexually transmitted disease, no promise of a lifetime of passion and triumphant well-being, no out-and-out-swear-on-yer-mama’s-soul that someone will love you forever.  Sometimes love ends and sometimes people are just assholes. Other times you just have to work your soul-fingers to the bone to keep your relationship together if you believe it’s worth it and that’s fine. But the institution of marriage is no guarantee that any of this gets better or easier or any of it.

What this is about is equality. And if we’re going to use marriage to symbolize that, so be it. It was never about where you sat on the bus or what particular fountain you drank at anyway, as long as you were able and free to sit wherever you wanted and drink from which ever one you wanted, correct?

The hilarity to me is that today would be John Wayne’s 102nd birthday. Yup, that’s right, folks, The Duke would be a right ol’ geezer at this point. Course, we all know he’s all frozen and stuff anyways, but that’s besides the point….Oh Duke- this your way of reaching out from beyond the grave to try and reclaim “your MANLY California”? The cowpoke land?? Too bad Red River is one of the most homoerotic Western films I’ve ever seen, and one of my all-time fave gay references comes from that very same director in his film, Bringing Up Baby:

I can’t help but feel that this is still a loss. We will continue to fight, but do not ever think that just because we lost again, we did not lose. And look at WHY. It’s the people with the MONEY. Because it sure as hell ain’t the working folks who could care less at the end of the day who’s putting it in who’s whatsit and what who’s doing to who in what bedroom. I’ve noticed that the more money you have, the more you seem to care about sexuality and sexual preference. I wonder if there is a direct correlation. Hrmmm.

You think once you get beyond a certain tax bracket, you have to sign a series of documents swearing up and down that you will absolutely care about what people are doing in their sex lives over what they are doing in their political or financial lives? Because, really, THAT’S important…………….*sigh*

ARIEL’S UNAPOLOGETIC WORLD VIEW: I would much rather have a bunch of very happy politicians/bankers/etc that were getting happily laid ALL the time CONSENSUALLY by adults over the age of 18, even if it was for money (yep, I could care LESS about prostitution & I think it should be like Amsterdam- it works really well there!) than what we have now.

I want the California back that was the dream. The California that people wanted to escape to. The place that people felt safe in. Not the place that my friends want to leave, where people’s Facebook statii are reading “___wants a divorce from California.” It’s not the damn state’s fault! Dude- we’ve got a gorgeous state! Yosemite, man! Rainbow Falls, Half Dome, ya dig? THEY most certainly didn’t say it’s not OK to be gay in this state.

So my point is that somehow we have to try to start to CREATE this place again. Through art, through belief, through faith, through film, through working towards attaining this goal of water fountains for everybody. It’s not just a stupid march on Santa Monica Blvd in front of the Mormon Temple. Those are important too, but what we really have to do is consider ourselves to be nesting in a way. Building something. With our friends, our family, our peers. Let’s bite & scratch & claw at the fuckers!!! YES!!! But let’s drink a bottle of wine and paint a mural for the kids while we do it!!

If we can do that, then we might be able to recreate something of that dream. And maybe, just maybe, we can awaken some of these ones who remain still sleeping….