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What we met and worked and marched and wrote and died for was radical transformation. he LGBT assimilationists’ rise to power is easy to trace.The brave, righteously angry civil rights activists of the 1970s became the brave, righteously angry AIDS activists of the 1980s and early 1990s, but we died or lost ourselves to grief, and by the time the white coats figured out the cocktail, by the time the drugs healed instead of killed, the people they saved were shells of themselves, and all that the survivors had the energy to do was lie on the warm sands of Fort Lauderdale or by the pool in Palm Springs and contemplate the mystery of survival.
State sanction of same-sex relationships conveys certain privileges—I hesitate to call them rights—to a subset of the LGBT community even as it mimics mainstream discrimination by reinforcing a hierarchy of affection.
Once, loving same-sex relationships served as an obvious critique of any necessary connection between love and marriage.
The assimilationists have won, with state-sanctioned marriage as the very mortar cementing the bricks of the wall of convention that separates us from ourselves, from one another, from all that is unfamiliar, strange, challenging, and thus from learning and growth.
The assimilationists have won, with the neocons building their Wonder Bread philosophies upon the ashes of queers who laid their lives on the line in the fight for AIDS visibility and treatment.
For me, veteran of the AIDS era of terror and anger and heartbreak, her oblivion precipitated the past into the present.
Not even Dante could have devised a punishment so perfectly suited to the crime: the use of a weapon, to quote Cornel West, of mass distraction; a device that, by robbing us of our need to remember, facilitates forgetting.n the spring of 2017, for the first time since publishing a memoir set at the height of San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic, I summoned the nerve to teach a course on memoir—which is to say, at least as I taught it, a course on the necessity of personal witness, a course against forgetting.Mostly I avoided the subject of AIDS, not wanting to be the grizzled old veteran croaking war stories to a classroom of undergraduates.Only when we exchanged our lofty ideals for conventionality was our struggle embraced.Only when we sought to exchange, in the words of the assimilationist attorney William Eskridge, “sexual promiscuity” for “the potentially civilizing effect” of state-sanctioned marriage were we accepted—as if a community risking their lives to care for their own in the face of church and government condemnation was not the very highest manifestation of civilized behavior; as if marriage “civilized,” to offer one of countless examples, Harvey Weinstein.But since AIDS memoirs are among the best examples of the genre, I decided I had to foray into the minefields of those memories. He then mailed the pamphlet to every member of Congress, more than 3,000 ‘Christian leaders’ and more than 2,500 media outlets.” Wojnarowicz won a lawsuit against Wildmon, the court finding that Wildmon had misrepresented the art.I surprised myself by choosing not one of several poignant memoirs but the edgy anger of Close to the Knives, by the artist David Wojnarowicz, with its hustler sex and pickup sex and anonymous sex on the decaying piers of Chelsea and amid the bleak emptiness of the Arizona desert, one eye cocked at the rearview mirror to watch for the cop who might appear and haul your naked ass to the county jail, sixty miles of rock and creosote bushes distant. It enjoined Wildmon from further distributing the pamphlets and ordered him to send a correction to all 6,000 of the initial recipients.He dismissed my observation as irrelevant, saying that such audiences always skewed male.But within the year the spin was changed, as evidenced by my encounter a couple of years later in San Francisco’s Noe Valley with two young, white, conventionally attractive lesbians, who brandished a clipboard and asked whether I was willing to sign a petition to “legalize love.” In two years, the pitch on same-sex marriage had gone from presenting it as a ticket to the status quo—the ultimate insiders’ club—to a way to enable otherwise conventional people to feel they were participating in the romance of revolution.The crowd consisted almost entirely of white men; I saw only two black men in the audience.Afterward I approached one of the speakers to suggest that the demographics conveyed a message about the supporters and primary beneficiaries of same-sex marriage.