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QUEER COMMUNITY?

…I was reading an interview with Gore Vidal. I am not sure why. I do think he is a talented writer, but I have never cared much for what he has written. And, whenever I do read or hear him speak he seems to have been stuck in a bad mood for the past several decades and it tires me. In this interview he said that he didn’t feel that he was a part of any gay communitity — and had never felt that he was a part of any community. Then, he turned it around and asked if anyone ever feels like they are a part of a community of any sort.

My knee jerk reaction was, “Yes, I have felt that I was a part of several communities at one time or another” …but, then I thought about it and I’m not really sure that this is true. Maybe I am a fringe dweller. Or, maybe there never has been such a thing as a gay community. I don’t know. But, the cranky old man did give me something to think about. This thought led me to Fassbinder, one of my fave filmmakers, who was always quick to challenge and dis the theory of a “gay community” and I wonder. Is there one? Was there ever one? Have I ever been accepted as a member?

(sigh)

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December 17, 2006. Uncategorized.

15 Comments

  1. Daniel, the Guy in the Desert replied:

    I’ve never decided what community is. I know the definition is “common union”, but maybe it’s been mysticiized so much it doesn’t translate into practical relationships. To me “common union” translates into being a fellow human being, but being gay means I can express that union in a more fun way.

  2. matty replied:

    Daniel — I really like the way you phrased that. I think that is close to how I feel about the “gay community” — and, the other communities to which I feel a “union” —- I think these communities do exist, but not in such a concrete form as someone like G Vidal might try to assign. Or, maybe they should exist. I see this lacking between “peoples” —- but, I very much like the way you capture it. I hope some other folks have some ideas on this topic. …and, beyond the concept of a gay/queer/GLBT community. …but just “community” in general.

    Communities of writers, intellectuals, healthcare providers, teachers, merchants, race, civic, musical, etc — what does a community mean and does it ever fully exist?

    …this is interesting to me.

  3. ing replied:

    I feel a sense of community when I’m working at the bookstore. And occasionally I get a customer who’ll explain why they might choose to shop at our store over some other store, and that community feeling gets stronger. Or a local musician or writer volunteers to read or play at our store for free. Then there’s the new bookmarks we printed up, with a message at the bottom about how much we miss the man who co-owned the video store across the street and who recently died. In my case, it’s a group of people with a common ideal who are working to realize that ideal.

    Other people who own small stores who visit our store and share ideas. One bookstore owner thought it’d be neat if we exchanged employees — that it, a few of our employees would work at one of her stores for a month, and she’d send us one of her own employees for a month, and this way, we might get ideas from each other to improve our businesses (and beat the chain stores).

    It might not be something I’m constantly aware of, but I feel it.

  4. ing replied:

    Jeez, my second paragraph in the previous posting has so many typos it’s practically unreadable. Anyway, you get the picture.

  5. ginab replied:

    Me I’m in commune in a hardware store. But is there a hetero community? I don’t know. Maybe grumpy V was making that point. He is he and you are you and I am me…I guess.

    Are there sexual communities? Gender-based…oops! Nuns!!!

    -ginab

  6. no milk replied:

    as in other parts of society, the ‘community’ can be broken down into many subcultures. just as i don’t fit into the leather bear or the circuit boy subcultures doesn’t mean that we don’t belong to the same umbrella. one of the great things about being ‘queer’ to me is that we all don’t fit the mold. to suddenly come out and say we should all fit the same mold of not fitting in is contrary to this. you belong. we belong.

    weeee beeelong (pat benatar).

  7. matty replied:

    Ing – That is awesome! I understood the second paragraph! And, yeah, that sounds like a fairly solid community, but does it provide anything further than profesional support?

    Gina! I don’t think I could commune with a hardware store but I admire folks who can. B can do that. I think there are hetro communities here in San Francisco. I guess Boy Scouts are a commuity of sorts of young hetro men. Then there are girl scouts. …Then there is Mensa for smart people. I am not even sure I spelled that correctly. It is all quite interesting to me for some reason — this idea of community and what it means.

    No Milk – I agree. …and, now I feel the urge to shake my chest and sing Love Is A Battlefield at the top of my lungs!

  8. ing replied:

    Matty:

    For me, it provides hope. Meaning, it gives me this feeling that maybe ideas (that is, the stuff that appears in books) won’t be squelched, that there’s a venue for the lesser-knowns. There are a lot of cool writers who I wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t for little publishers like McSweeney’s — they’re really popular in San Francisco and they make absolutely beautiful books by writers who take all kinds of stylistic risks and do it well. And McSweeney’s started 826, the place that tutors grade school kids after school for free. They began in San Francisco, but now there are more and more 826s popping up in other cities. Their volunteer tutors teach kids how to write plays and draw cartoon strips and all kinds of interesting things. If it wasn’t for the little bookstores who were willing to carry the McSweeney’s stuff BEFORE they’d had the opportunity to prove that their stuff was also profitable (and many thought McSweeney’s was a flash in the pan, since their books are a little on the expensive side [i.e. they’re well-made]), stuff like these tutoring centers might never have gotten off the ground.

    Blah blah blah. I’m just saying that I feel like a bookstore is about more than a professional group — it’s about the exchange of ideas. So yeah, it feels like a community of like-minded people who care about art and culture.

  9. joe replied:

    I like to think that its smallest, a community is an extension of yourself to others, and in so doing, you hope you extend with trust and respect.

    and so I extend my hand to you, to join the icy community… because it’s cold here! and we need more hot bodies. 😀

  10. matty replied:

    Ing – That is so cool and awesome! I don’t think I ever knew of McSweeney’s. I do so wish you could establish your own indepent book store because you could turn one into a McSweeney’s with your passion, knowledge and love. It would be magical! I’m wishing for this. We should both play the lottery this year – before 2006 ends! Seems like it takes a bit of money to pursue a dream anymore. However, I like to think it just seems that way.

    Icy — I’m stretching my hand out ready to join! (it’s cold here, too) …tho, I am thinking not nearly as cold as there!

  11. Brookelina replied:

    I’m so with you on this – as usual. I have had moments where I feel that lovely sense of being a part of things, but for the most part, I often feel like I am on the outside looking in. I wonder if anyone really does feel a part of things all the time?

  12. matty replied:

    Brooke — You know, I feel that way most of the time. I try to act like I don’t, but normally I feel like I’m at a party where everyone has been told this great joke that I just don’t get. I think this is more normal than many want to admit.

  13. Kalvin replied:

    I’ve actually felt like I’ve belonged to two communities: mormons and gays. Both have unique presuppositions, cultures, references, abbreviations, “code” words. Gore is just a tired old bitch. God, as soon as I see him on the screen I just think, boy must he be a bad lay.

  14. ing replied:

    Hey, Matty and Brookeline:

    Y’know, I have a slightly different experience: I get the joke, though I might not think it’s as funny as everyone else. But I tell a joke, and I most often feel like it falls flat. Matty, I think part of the reason we get along is that I think you get my jokes and I think I get yours. And Brookeline, I’m guessing I’d feel the same way about you.

    But can’t this whole “community” noise exist on a more distant level?

  15. matty replied:

    Kalvin — how interesting to know the Morman community. I know very little of it other than what I’ve seen represented in plays or a couple of films. Awake. Yes, I don’t think Gore V would be much fun. LOL!

    Ing – I like that. Yes. I get your jokes. I don’t think people can tell that I don’t get their jokes. I think I usually laugh at the right places. At least, I hope so. I think community means so many things to people that it stays close. But, then, I guess that is the idea.

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