Essay by Don Charles (Stuffed Animal)
In a January 2007 essay titled "Doin' Time In Gay Man's Hell", I described how centuries of criminalization and ostracism had infected Gay people with a deep sense of shame. I wrote: "Thirty years ago, there was nothing like the affirmation of LGBT identity that we see today. Society taught us that our love was illegitimate and perverse, and like impressionable children, we accepted that teaching. The Stonewall rebellion notwithstanding, we had very little self-esteem. Closeted or not, we were willing to perpetuate a clandestine culture born of oppression and shame." A separate culture centered around disreputable dive bars, dangerous wooded areas, reeking public restrooms and sleazy Adult book/video shops.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of LGBT folk who still think of these venues as being the center of "Gay culture." Worse, they think Lesbians, Gay men and transgender people should confine their leisure activities to such venues. I got a painful reminder of this when I recently picked up a booklet called Out In Canada; distributed to Gay businesses in the United States, this handout is aimed at promoting LGBT tourism north of the border.
Of course, you'd expect such a publication to highlight places of potential interest to Gay tourists. What I didn't expect is how limited and narrow that interest was perceived to be by the Out In Canada editorial staff. As an example of what I mean, here's an excerpt from the booklet, directed at American Lesbians who plan to visit the Canadian province of Québec:
To make sure I was up-to-date, I asked friends what 'dyke places' I should (go to) . . . it seems that Toronto dykes tend to patronize Straight bars and restaurants; comfort, cost and quality seem to be more important than queerness....
For the rest, please jump to Don's website: Christ the Gay Martyr