The World's New Gay State

Fear and Self-Loathing in Buffalo

Posted in Uncategorized by thegaystateblog on December 3, 2009

I have been travelling for the last week; Rochester, Toronto and Buffalo.  While in Buffalo I was asked to speak to a Buffalo Gay Men’s Group.  There were perhaps three dozen people in attendance.  While most do not consider themselves activists, they are prominent business owners and professionals from throughout Western New York.  Many of the men I met were charming, engaging and sociable.  But on this all important election eve in November 2009, no one but me seemed to be jonesing for election results!  What could be more important than the vote in Maine on Proposition One?  Or the re-election of Governors that support our rights to Federal Equality?

As it all turned out, Maine continued our nationwide disappointment.  It is one more example of how the Heterosexual majority does not see us as worthy of being married, having financial security or raising a family in America.  What was most astonishing to me is when I expressed my dismay to one of the leaders in the Buffalo Gay community, the unexpected response was, “That’s the problem!  Those FAG-gots want to have it all!”  I thought I had misunderstood the sentiments of my host and I asked him to repeat himself and he did: “Those FAG-gots [and when he used the word, he said it with such vitriol and animosity] they expect to have everything!”

To my thinking, being able to marry the love of my life is not expecting “it all.”  Having the same “freedom” as everyone else is not asking for too much in my estimation.  And “those FAG-gots,” it appears, is ME.  It is WE.  And it is reprehensible that a Gay man of adequate intellect and intelligence should so perfectly mirror the hateful speech one would expect from our enemies.  It is a unique brand of self-loathing that Gay men experience after having a lifetime of discrimination foisted upon them.  To hear the sentiment was disappointing.  Standing before a Gay brother who feels this way about our very being is sad.  I would not want to live in his skin nor walk in his shoes.  I can only imagine the discomfort his own life brings him.

I may be an old man.  I may be even older than my years.  But to my way of thinking there is no way one can tolerate the use of the word “faggot.”  To me it is as ugly as the “N” word.  I have heard that African Americans like to use it amongst themselves as a sort of empowerment.  I don’t buy it.  It is ugly and vile and using hate speech towards your own does everyone a disservice.  It merely perpetuates the humiliation and belittles a groups collective worth.

Neither do I like the use of “queer.”  I am old enough that in literature and speech, queer meant strange.  There is nothing “strange” about being a Gay man.  That I live my life to bring happiness to Mike and to build a nice home for our family in not — “strange.”  To call ourselves strange is wrong.  We may as well call ourselves freaks.  Our enemies and oppressors would like that just as much and using these words gives power to discrimination where it should be banished altogether. 

This is where the generation gap rears its head.  The twenty-something’s of today seem to find “queer” perfectly acceptable if not preferable and I can only hope they will outgrow this notion that self-deprecation equates to power.

The one other takeaway from my time with Buffalo’s Gay community is that divisiveness within the community can act like a poison.  Tensions between the Gay men and the more activist Lesbian community in Buffalo may spell doom to next years Gay Pride Parade in Buffalo and neither side seems willing to work and cooperate with the other in pulling it all together.  This would be a loss that would be felt throughout the region.  With a very long winter still to come to the good folks of Buffalo, I hope they can overcome their divisions and celebrate together come next spring.  Accept that their will be differences but do not turn our backs on our customs or traditions.


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