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6 Oct 2011

Rachel Maddow: Same-sex marriage may cause the loss of the creativity of gay subcultures

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, the first out lesbian to anchor a prime-time show, says while she’s a staunch supporter of same sex marriage rights, she and her longtime partner, artist Susan Mikula don’t "feel any urgency" to get married.

In a new cover interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Wednesday, the 38-year-old said she is ambivalent about the assimilationist aspect of gay marriage.

"I feel that gay people not being able to get married for generations, forever, meant that we came up with alternative ways of recognising relationships," Rachel Maddow told the Reporter. "And I worry that if everybody has access to the same institutions that we lose the creativity of subcultures having to make it on their own. And I like gay culture."

Maddow lives in New York City and with her partner in Northampton, Massachusetts. The couple met in 1999 when Maddow was hired to dig tree stumps out of her would be partner’s front yard. Maddow described it as being “love at first sight."

"We know a lot of people who have gotten married," she said, "but I don't think we feel any urgency about it."

Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on May 17, 2004. 

Rachel Maddow on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter. Top of page, Maddow and her longtime partner, artist Susan Mikula, in their Northampton, Mass home with their dog, Poppy. (2009 photo) Photo: michaeledwardsphotography.com

The Rachel Maddow Show, which was launched in 2008, is now the number one program on MSNBC and has surpassed CNN in primetime for eight consecutive quarters although it still lags behind Fox News, as noted by the Reporter.

Possibly the most butch looking lesbian on television, the 5-foot-11 boyish looking Oxford PhD holder in political science, AIDS activist, and defense nerd (she's working on book about the military, and her father is a former Air Force captain) discussed her fashion style, meeting and falling in love with her partner, and politics in the wide-ranging interview.

On her fashion style and being TV-friendly: "I decided at the start of this that there are certain things that you need to do visually in order to be on TV," she says. "Like you need to wear a blazer and you need to have makeup put on you. You need to meet some basic conventions. I have a monochrome rainbow of the exact same $19 blazers [from H&M]. If you can commit to meeting those basic conventions in a way that is as low friction as possible, then you don't have to think about it again. The not thinking about it is an active value for me."

Rachel Maddow’s interview with The Hollywood Reporter can be read here.

Daniel Harris in his book The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture published in 1999 similarly pondered the fate of gay (male) culture as homosexuality becomes gradually accepted by society and posited that assimilation would spell the end of a distinctive gay male sensibility, one which he defines to be a "political response to oppression.” He wrote that gay men would inevitably have to discard certain gay cultural markers (such as drag, camp, sexual unconventionality, and a propensity toward the fine arts) that would impede their assimilation into the mainstream. The first chapter “The Death of Camp: Gay Men and Hollywood Diva Worship, from Reverence to Ridicule” can be read here.

Readers, what do you define as gay subcultures or gay cultural markers? Does being assimilated into the mainstream mean having to be invisible as a gay person? Is it important to you and the community to hold on to any gay subcultures or visible markers, however you define it to mean, as homosexuality becomes increasingly more accepted by society?

Reader's Comments

1. 2011-10-06 18:02  
Yes, but... what relevance, really, are these kind of people to most Fridae readers? It just seems too much that Fridae likes posting about gay people on the other side of the planet just because they're gay, rather than because they've, well, really Done anything.

Some American TV host lesbian isn't in a rush to get married?

And? So?!

But please tell me this - does she think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was as good as Battlestar Galactica, or The Walking Dead? What's her favourite colour? Or is there something else that really justifies this feature, other than she's - dramatic pause - A Gay?

Fridae... I just don't understand these interviews with people who haven't really done anything, other than being gay - which isn't an achievement in itself... (Shrug.)
2. 2011-10-06 20:19  
I suppose the story matters to lesbians who are not married and who are living in the eastern USA. This is the first time I have heard that marrying a same-sex partner means being assimilated into a larger culture. Oh, and possibly becoming invisible as a gay person. This article lacks value even as something to stir up forward-thinking discussion.
3. 2011-10-06 20:41  
I could never understand the obsession with marriage. It's just another religious fabrication that might have had some relevance in the past, but is no longer very relevant as the heteros have quite convincingly demonstrated. In civilised countries you can gain all the rights and responsibilities of marriage through a civil union. What more could you want?
4. 2011-10-06 21:08  
Well, to anyone that has ever watched Rachel's show on TV, you can easily witness just how irrelevant she is.
She seems like an affable znd engaging woman. Although I do not share her worldview, I probably would enjoy having her as a next door neighbor. We surely would have some interesting "over the fence banter"
She is blinded completely by her idealogy and has little or no understanding of economics ( at least based upon what I hear her state on her show).
I think she is representative of a larger percent of the gay populations - not really seeking or wanting marriage - yet felt we should have it - kind of weird in my eyes. I am perfectly content with not applying heterosexual contsructs to homosexual relationships. I am sure some lawyer in NY is already rubbing his hands, waiting for gay divorce.
5. 2011-10-06 23:01  
She's great, and her show is too, an antidote to the rubbish spouted by the vile and anti-gay Murdoch fake news channel Fox News. She also did a lot to publicise what was going on in the Uganda kill the gays saga, and the Americans behind it.

Well as for full marriage equality, marriage for gays is the conservative option, as the British Conservative PM said in his speech yesterday when he threw the weight of his government behind it, supporting it fully "not in spite of being a Conservative, but because I'm a Conservative".

Having it as available as for straight couples simply means we have the same choices, to marry or not. But gay people will likely make it fashionable again and halt the decline.
Comment #6 was deleted by its author on 2011-10-06 23:45
7. 2011-10-06 23:45  
Interesting questions. Let me reply to the 3 questions asked by the news editor first:
Q1) Readers, what do you define as gay subcultures or gay cultural markers?

A1: I think"Gay subculture" refers to a group of individuals with distinct practices, symbols, interests, sexual identities/roles, forms of relationship, age groups or sexual preferences which are noticeably unique to the LGBT community. These groups of people include: drags (practice), transgenders (sexual identity), bears (symbol), bisexuals (sexual preference), sistas (sexual identity), homosexual partnership-seekers (form of relationship), gay activists (interest), bathhouse regulars (interest), closeted (sexual identity), etc.

I think "gay cultural markers" refer to: explicit symbols that the LGBT community or a subculture within it (i.e. those mentioned above) may identify themselves with.

Q2) Does being assimilated into the mainstream mean having to be invisible as a gay person?

A2: No. But as normalisation continues, contrast will also blur.

Q3) Is it important to you and the community to hold on to any gay subcultures or visible markers, however you define it to mean, as homosexuality becomes increasingly more accepted by society?

A3: Yes. I don't think that non-traditional sexual practices and relationships can be fully accepted in my lifetime. So, there's still a need for these subcultures to exist as a means of mutual support for the LGBT community.
8. 2011-10-07 02:38  
She's white. I am not. She thinks she's going mainstream now only because she's under the 'white' assumption. Her sense of 'gay' is different, and thus her ideas of 'gay culture' are different from ours.

Dear Fridae Management: You are not empowering Gay Asia with this. You are not putting our issues up front. You are not assuming us as your core audience. We should be your center, not white people in the U.S. You need to come up with news issues to report on that do NOT focus on white people. Think about it: What is differentiating you from white gay websites??? You should be exploring the issues that matter to us, not them. If your English-speaking staff is incapable of relating to us, then they should be shut down and shipped to a different website. If you have no clue as to what our interests are, then either you have a lot of field research to do, or you should be fired.
9. 2011-10-07 04:21  
Wow, I can't believe she said that. It's not just about the marriage, it's about the equality to have options.
10. 2011-10-07 04:42  
I sense that there is some misunderstanding about her remark. She might mean merely that we shouldn't conform to the dogma of treating marriage as the ONLY possible happy outcome of a loving relationship. If we do so, then we may ostracize other forms of same-sex relationships, and kill the subcultures, which I'd explained above. I agree.

If our objective of pursuing more rights is to offer the liberty to same-sex couples who wish to enter into a marriage relationship--- just like heterosexual couples could-- then our goal should be to just legalize this OPTION, but not to ostracize the rest who wish not to marry. They may, like Rachel, choose to enter into a cohabitation. Marriage should not be the only proper arrangement, even for couples like Rachel & her GF, who have been in love for many years.

Anyway, who is to say that marriage is suitable for EVERYBODY or that ONLY monogamous long-term relationships are proper? While we should, in the spirit of liberty, fight for the OPTION for same-sex partners who WISH TO enter, like many of their straight married friends, into a marriage legally, we should be careful not to ostracize the rest (and actually the majority) of the LGBT community who WISH TO have other forms of relationship (e.g. cohabitation) or even no relationship (i.e. "no string attached"). This is the essence of liberty which we have been fighting for.

Her records show that she is pro-LGBT. She's one of us. So, let's not take her remark out of context or suspect that she is anti-gay marriage.
11. 2011-10-07 04:58  
Dear readers I am not to be assumed as to be in favor with Any part or sort but don't you people think that this just kind of .... A dissonance ( conflict of people's point of view ) .

End of the day it's just an article regarding a particular individual' s perspective and point if view over a matter which is obviously extremely subjective , is it necessary for us to have a argument regarding what she is lacking on and whether she is just deep acting in the whole article ... It's better for us to learn how to listen and forget rather than just arguing what is right and wrong .... If it's too hard to accept then just leave it rather than having the page to be spammed like this .... It's kinda hilarious when ulyou come to think about it .... quarreling over something which is just a point if view and the beat part .... it's totally irrelevant to us. ..
12. 2011-10-07 05:07  
Analysis of her remark:

1) "I feel that gay people not being able to get married for generations, forever, meant that we came up with alternative ways of recognising relationships."

I guess she's saying that, as a result of marriage being disallowed and unaccepted between same-sex couples for so long, the LGBT community have come a long way in fostering tolerance and recognition towards other forms of relationships (that do not conform to the traditional marriage model).

2) "And I worry that if everybody has access to the same institutions that we lose the creativity of subcultures having to make it on their own. And I like gay culture."

She might be saying that, as a result of the legalization of gay marriage, the LGBT community may embrace the str8 ppl's dogma (of treating marriage as the ONLY possible happy outcome of a loving relationship) and kill "creativity of subcultures" (by ostracizing alternative forms of relationship). "Subcultures' in this context should be referring to arrangements between couples (other than marriage) such as cohabitation, no string attached, buddies, etc.
13. 2011-10-07 06:03  
Wow! What people will say and do when they have so much free time and no real urgent problems- ie living under the threat of death for not being of the same gender, ethnicity, sexuality or religion as those in power, very easy for Rachel and her partner to say and do as they please in their very comfortable circumstances, how about our fellow gays and lesbians fighting oppression elsewhere? IE Iran? Uganda? Very Happy for Rachel and her gf, wish them all the best in the world and every success pontifficating & hyperbolising over various hypotheses whilst there are people being hunted down and executed elsewhere for being different.
14. 2011-10-07 06:04  
Wow! What people will say and do when they have so much free time and no real urgent problems- ie living under the threat of death for not being of the same gender, ethnicity, sexuality or religion as those in power, very easy for Rachel and her partner to say and do as they please in their very comfortable circumstances, how about our fellow gays and lesbians fighting oppression elsewhere? IE Iran? Uganda? Very Happy for Rachel and her gf, wish them all the best in the world and every success pontifficating & hyperbolising over various hypotheses whilst there are people being hunted down and executed elsewhere for being different.
15. 2011-10-07 07:49  
I find this article interesting that how she views gay marriage as 'an assimilation' to the society and how that would erode the gay subculture. In other words, she wants the gay community to continue to be discriminated and seen as a 'unique culture', really?

I think she is missing the point about marriage. People get married because legally they would be recognised as a legit couple, raise a family, have the same social benefits, tax and proper divorce if things turn sour. Because if they not legally married, in the eyes of the law, the couple will forever be seen as a 'cohabitation'.
Comment edited on 2011-10-07 07:51:28
16. 2011-10-07 09:20  
Fridae, I'm afraid I have to agree with #1 (vercoda).

Your article on Michael Kirby, the Australian High Court judge who, personally, had to stand fast against his own personal demons and the more insidious demon called discrimination, who had helped champion the cause for gay rights in Australia through the courts, and who is unashamedly and openly gay in a very gay-unfriendly and conservative legal profession, was absolutely spot on because it reminds us that being gay is not just about existing in a gay subculture.

Fridae, if you wish to be relevant to and a positive influence in shaping the lives of young gay people, you really need to give us more on people like Michael Kirby who have used their hard-won positions of influence to HELP gay people, and less on people like Rachel Maddow who is an American TV anchor who, well, just happens to be gay.
17. 2011-10-07 09:30  
Hooray. At last somebody is talking about how dull marriage makes us queers. It is completely absurd. We are not straight. There used to be a vibrant gay culture in the city but ever since this marriage nonsense showed up here in the USA it's as if every gay person has become grey. The clothes are grey or black, they own property, the car is a dull grey color, they don't go out to clubs because it isn't considered mature, they pretend they aren't having sex with other people, blah, blah, blah. They tell everybody to act their age. It was way more enjoyable before this let's pretend we are straight attitude showed up. Oh, and most of the gay boys here are getting extremely overweight, something nobody would have done twenty years ago out of pride, real, actual, gay pride. I just don't understand this self complacency. The gay ghetto was way, way better than what we have now. Domesticity definitely stinks. We are not straight. Viva la differance!
18. 2011-10-07 09:54  
Yawn ..... time to feed the cats and dog.
19. 2011-10-07 15:27  
A poster above made an interestingly blinkered comment that Fridae should stop writing about white people, and (to summarise) "just write about us Asians". Eh? So... Fridae's white, black, Latino, Eurasian etc etc members should not be represented at all?! Perhaps we should just be grateful that we're allowed to pay Fridae to be members of this site, and leave it at that. I think we non-Asians are now expected to go and sit at the back of the bus...


If Fridae is looking for stories about gay people with a bit of punchy weight to them (because, oh, I don't know - I suspect there are better stories about gay people than just whether a US lesbian is interested in getting married or not) - why not write about Ireland's current Presidential race, which is featuring the country's most famous and senior gay politician, Senator David Norris, campaigning to be our next President in a few weeks?

Norris, a slightly eccentric and very outspoken politician and academic, has campaigned all his life for gay rights - including taking the Irish government to European courts in the 1980s, who ruled in his favor and forced the Irish government at the time to decriminalize homosexuality - while not 100% equal to heterosexuals (under a number of inheritance, parenting and tax laws), Irish gays can get 'married' in civil ceremonies, as the Government continues to work through gay-related rights and issues, and strives to promote equality and end discrimination - a journey that many see Norris as having started, pulling an entire country along with him.

The reason This story is, oooooooh, possibly perhaps of interest to Fridae's readers (instead of, say, whether a Canadian lesbian prefers lettuce or cabbage, or some such similar lightweight story which Fridae seems to be covering, lately) is that not only have you a senior and completely Out gay politician running to be a country's next president, BUT he's also embroiled in a number of scandals at the same time, chief of which was appealing for clemency 20 years ago (using officially-headed government paper) for his then lover, who was convicted by a Israeli court of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy, as well as a number of other, less contentious topics.

While a great many senior Irish politicians, media stars, commentators and intellectuals support Norris' run for the President, other sections of the media are gunning for him, suddenly trying to report as much dirt on Ireland's most famous gay person as they can (and, to be fair, Norris Does seem to have a knack of getting into trouble), while many Irish people now seem to be equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and a number of other, equally unsavory and bigoted points, judging on vigorous letters about why Norris is unfit to be our next President - many of which, I note, are careful to avoid directly saying "because he's a gay", and yet are happy to infer Norris/gays are okay with paedophilia, and would accept an anything-goes approach to sex with minor males (largely due to Norris' typically academic, typically eccentric, typically foolish comments he made years ago about the - factual - normality at the time for most Greek males to regularly fuck boys as a sign of their masculinity, sexual prowess, blah blah blah, to impress Greek ladies and be 'normal' with the rest of ancient Greek society).

So. Fridae.

Don't be lazy - I've just given you/your researcher(s) a major news story to look into regarding a senior, militantly gay politician campaigning hard to be a country's next president, despite a media storm connected to former actions, and opinions, which had overtly gay undertones - perhaps you can report on This topic, rather than some of the easy/lazy churnalism that's been shuffling past here, lately?

Personally, I'd like to think that a senior gay senator running to be a country's president, despite several battles around him connected directly to his/our sexuality, Could be of interest to your international news readers - possibly even more than whether a US lesbian wants to get married or, meh, not. I know, I know - he's white, too, but Hey! Nobody's perfect!

Over to you...
Comment edited on 2011-10-07 15:45:11
20. 2011-10-07 16:45  
I agree with agreva3:

Fridae, plz stay Asia-centered! Isn't 'empowering gay Asia' your mission? Then, your offering should be providing value-added according to your clients' definitions, and I think that would include more regional (Asian) news or making non-Asian news posted here more relevant to your Asian membership (e.g. adding comparisons, comments from Asian experts).

If you haven't already done so, I would set up a network of Fridae volunteers across the countries you serve, to provide you with news leads (links) for you to select from and work on.

In general, I would also suggest to try to put up one news story (even a small one) each day. That's really a minimum, in my view, to make the website make a dynamic impression as you sign in.

I know you got limited resources, so please consider all our suggestions and see which of them are feasible. We'd like to hear back from you on this issue, in an editor's reaction I think.

All in all, I think Fridae makes a great website. It runs well technically, in my experience. It's an active and positive community. And I like the way you sprinkle safe-sex hints over our website too.

So keep up the great work!
21. 2011-10-07 18:30  
I'm a (Singaporean) lesbian and I regard Rachel Maddow to be a role model -- nevermind her skin colour. She's unapologetically butch, smart and aware of/resists being too femmed up for TV. You guys don't know what it's like for us (lesbians) to see a butch lesbian anchoring a TV news show -- nevermind she's in the US.

Also Fridae has featured Tim Cook, Jeanette Winterson, Michael Kirby, Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson of the MCC and numerous other white people and that has never been an issue before, so why now?
Comment edited on 2011-10-07 18:43:51
22. 2011-10-07 18:31  
I notice that all the posters putting down this successful, highly intelligent totally visible lesbian are men. Some are even dragging race into the discussion in a pathetic attempt to stir controversy in usual troll fashion.

It'd be good to hear from some women.
23. 2011-10-07 18:33  
Having said that, Kellen posted at the same moment!
24. 2011-10-07 19:03  
I do share that Fridae should stay more relevant and focused. This article and the previous one on Anal Cancer touch on topics quite remote to Asian LGBT's. I gave Rachael the benefit of doubt and tried to reinterpret her true meanings.

But even if her point is that we should beware of ostracizing alternative forms of LGBT relationships as gay marriage gets more acceptance is a valid one, it is still remotely relevant to Asia's LGBT's. Here, gay relationships of all sorts, LGBT of all subcultures and legal gay partnerships of all forms remain unaccepted. The stigma and discrimination against us in this part of the world are still real and widespread. To caution ostracism would be putting the cart before the horse. Now, the more urgent and relevant message to send here is that we should continue to fight for those rights that Rachel and her American gay friends had gotten after decades of struggle. They'd gotten those rights and can now afford the luxury of warning people about the potential side-effects of having these rights. But we in Asia haven't got those rights...yet.

Again, while Brits like the author of the article on Anal Cancer have the privilege of government subsidies for the prevention, screening and treatment of HIV and many other public health threats, and can, thus, have the luxury to look into less threatening health risks such as Anal Cancer, such governmental support in Asia is still lacking. Many LGBT Asians still have to struggle with poor govt support for just HIV and, more importantly, the social causes of it. Many are struggling with poverty, which drives them to ignorance and the sex industry.

Without the benefit of a good education, and information about safer sex, many poor Asians from rural areas are ignorant about protection against HIV. Often, they go to the big cities to find a job only to find themselves stuck in a high-cost area without a job. Many enter the sex industry in order to survive, yet they are ignorant about the health risks involved. This explains partially the higher prevalence of HIV in the cities of many Asian countries. Worse, as a result of stigma, many are forced to enter a social enclave (e.g. a gay subculture like drag queens) to find mutual emotional support.

In Singapore and Malaysia, we had inherited anti-gay laws. As a result, the govts cannot openly encourage safer gay sex because any form of gay sex--safer or unsafe--is illegal. All these are the real issues facing LGBT Asians. I thought Fridae should report on these issues. Report the success and inspirational stories. We need a constant feed of such stories to motivate ourselves.

Good examples would be the PT Foundation in KL, Malaysia. It is a role model for LGBT activists around Asia. If only we have more PT Foundations around and beyond Malaysia. Pinkdot is another good example. Let's review the range of results & challenges that they've had. Let's inform more about what forms of help these organizations need. Oogachaga in Singapore had started a group for mature gays. So what challenges do Asian gays face when we grow old? I am sure that Oogachaga has a lot to share with us.
25. 2011-10-07 20:19  
@24, you make some very good suggestions for articles, maybe you could write and submit some to Fridae, they definitely need more content for the website lately!
26. 2011-10-08 00:50  
Diversity is so wonderful. and tolerance..............
27. 2011-10-08 01:21  
#25: To write such articles, one needs to gain access to the concerned organisations and people, and interview the latter. Fridae already has a professional staff, including writers. Its full-time or part-time writers can be tasked to write such articles. I think publishing such articles about these Asian organisations and people that we are most familiar with can better inform Fridae's readers about issues that they are most concerned about.
28. 2011-10-09 06:33  
She's entitled to her personal opinions just like everyone else. I enjoy The Rachel Maddow Show and she's a great role model for the gay community all over the world.
29. 2011-10-10 17:20  
@27, on the other hand you spend a lot of time writing lengthy and carefully considered posts, you could just as easily submit some articles on subjects that interest you to fridae, it can certainly do with more content at the moment. Other sites post several articles a day, though not as insightful, but fridae seems to be falling behind.
30. 2011-10-10 18:23  
There's certainly an extent to which this is another lame Fridae article about some American celebrity I've never heard of (let alone whether she's some kind of big deal in Asia, which I doubt.)

Certainly the old gay bar culture, which was a very male thing -and probably a very white thing- is in steep decline. In London in the past few months three bars and two sex venues have closed down. Presumably younger gay people either don’t need distinctly gay environments, or if they want distinctly gay environments, these aren’t the ones they want.

One of these bars was Kudos, which was kind of famous in London for being an Asian bar. Frankly, it was a dive, and hadn’t been interesting for years. Faced with woeful crowds, they couldn’t even conceive of a cheap drinks special to get people in the door, let alone an event or something else to build the crowds.

The same corporate entity that owned Kudos also owned one and possibly two bars in Islington and those are now standing empty too.

I was in one of the surviving London bars last night and frankly, though it draws a crowd, I can see it going the same way. How many times can one watch the same drag show or listen to the same tired old ‘camp classics’? The reality is the mainstream gay bar culture hasn’t kept up or done anything new for years.

I have observed its decline in Sydney, in NYC, Paris and now in London. Quite possibly there is a market for a ‘non assimilating’ gay culture, but as for where and how that will manifest, I am not sure.

As for marriage, what I observe is that it has created an unfortunate new stereotype, the ‘bullying’ married guy who pesters you to hook up exactly at the time that’s convenient for him ... presumably in the limited window when his husband is away.

As to that, I am happier to let these types lie in the beds they have made for themselves ... you wanted marriage, go enjoy it!
31. 2011-10-12 03:31  
#29: Thanks for your encouragement. But I really didn't spend much time on posting those random thoughts. I won't rule out the possibility of sending some articles for Fridae's consideration in the future though.
32. 2011-10-12 15:59  
Agreva3, your comment seems racist and ignorant.. You are an Asian Man, living in New York.. yet you talk about 'Us" and 'Ours', trying to identify your own personal opinion as that of a very diverse collection of Gay Communities, in the vastly different 'Gay Asia'... Intolerant thinking and ignorance, as reflected in your comment here, is exactly what Gay Communities around the world have been struggling with forever.
Have you ever watched Rachel's show? She always reflects diversity in cultures, politics and thinking, in her programs.
She was groundbreaking in supporting the fight to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in the US Armed Forces, giving one of the pioneers of the fight.. Lt. Dan Choi (who happens to be an Asian American) repeated air time to publicize that fight... So, in the end, there IS relevance to 'Gay Asia' and Asian people in what Rachel has done.
The Fridae article itself seems to be only a copy of a US-published story, which was most likely written by a caucasian. In that respect, the 'Fridae News Editor' seems to have been a little 'lazy' not adding the angle(s) that reflect Rachel's relevance to 'Empowering Gay Asia' as well.

Let's just all be more open, curious and tolerant of each other's lives, cultures and communities.. :))

Comment edited on 2011-10-12 16:03:46
33. 2011-10-13 02:57  
Dear Editors: If you feel that my post is irrelevant, then it would be most appropriate to begin with #32 because of his accusation saying that I am "racist and ignorant." Thank you for your attention.

I'm only commenting because #32 (euromango) deliberately requested that I review his comment, and implicitly that I give a reaction. I will not reply further beyond this comment. I reply not for his sake, but for my worry that some Asians may think like him.

Euromango accuses me of being racist and ignorant because of my use of 'we'. First, I am very aware about my use of 'we'. I feel that as a member of this site which is nominally devoted to "gay Asia" that I am privileged to use this word. While I am aware that my use of 'we' can be interpreted as arrogant overreaching by a personal opinion, I seriously doubt that Fridae's English-speaking news staff is more informed than me. It is my opinion that they have little idea about the lives of gay Asian men in Seoul or Taipei, two of the larger areas of gay Asian male activity. Even Euromango seems to admit that the news editors were "lazy," and Sunthenmoon (#24) attempts to guide them.

Euromango asserts that he is superior to me by using "gay communities around the world," which is just another form of 'we'. Basically, he's claiming that he's part of a group that bridges race lines. I reject this use because there is still a great deal of racism emanating from all races against Asians, and his position would mask the complexity of these incidents. Sunthenmoon (#24) already states my other reasons for not participating in Euromango's sense of 'we'.

Euromango asks whether I've watched Maddow's show. No, I have not watched it because she does not reflect my issues as an Asian male, so I don't see why I should care. Yes, there was Lt. Choi, but I make a distinction between Asians who actually care about other Asians (at least publicly), and those who don't. As far as I know, he has not made any comments about issues specific to Asians, and so Maddow has probably not either; rather, Choi is directing his issues strictly toward a non-Asian organization (the U.S. military) in order to improve this non-Asian organization. I will simply say that I have reasons for not caring about the U.S. military based on racial concerns. In light of this, I do not see how Maddow is relevant to us.

My issue was with how Fridae's English-speaking news editors USED Maddow's comments. It was not framed with comments or questions that are relevant to Asians: rather, I sense that it is aimed towards non-Asians living in North America when these groups have PLENTY OF OTHER VENUES TO DISCUSS THIS MATTER OTHER THAN ON FRIDAE. This is the point that I think Euromango is missing.

If Euromango is really going to be "more open, curious and tolerant of each others' lives, cultures and communities," then he should begin by realizing that he is a guest among these other groups first.
34. 2011-10-13 06:36  

I have several thoughts about this issue.

1. Re #21 (kellen)'s comment
It is true that the many (all?) of those who dismissed Maddow as irrelevant are overlooking the fact that we do not have many examples of butch lesbian representation/role modeling on television. That she is American is a factor, of course, indicating that a disproportionate amount of representation of GLBT folks in international English language media is from the USA.

What I would like to see, therefore, is not (only) "less" white/American representation, but MORE Asian/non-Anglo/non-American and female representation, and also a willingness from male members (e.g. #2) to question our own male entitlement, when we dismiss the relevance of outspoken women.

2. Re agreva3's (#8, #33) & euromango's (#32) comments
I agree with agreva3's statement: "there is still a great deal of racism emanating from all races against Asians, and his position would mask the complexity of these incidents..." Still, I think you are pointing out not only the horrid mask of racism, but also, rightly, about white entitlement in Asian-spaces, something which is true on fridae.com forums.

Elsewhere, sunthenmoon has indicated the need for Asian (GLBT) people to feel more empowered by increasing our IT literacy and English language proficiency. I agree with this. It is no surprise to me that a disproportionate number of forum responses from Asian readers are either from Singapore/Malaysia, or are living in English-language-dominant countries (e.g. Australia, USA, UK). The English-language Fridae.com, which has clear intentions for Asian empowerment, cannot claim total universality. Thus, Fridae will tend to reflect the biases of a post-colonial, English-speaking Asian group, with our attendant reliance on white people's patronage to keep afloat.

The latter is stated without malice, but with a caution that I share with agreva3. While I agree with euromango's statement: "Let's just all be more open, curious and tolerant of each other's lives, cultures and communities," part of this openness, curiousity, and tolerance can occur only if we recognise the over-representation of the views North American/European/Caucasian folks (or people who are close generational descendants of the aforementioned) in international GLBT media (including Fridae.com), and especially to contextualise this in light of Fridae.com's commitment to Empowering Gay Asia.

3. Lastly, in terms of my views on marriage/gay community.
I'm not particularly invested in marriage, but I'm not particularly wedded to notions of gay community either, given that much of this sense of selfhood has been predicated on a history of oppression and servitude. While much greatness has arisen in response to oppression, I would be hesitant to over-conflate these specific forms of greatness as inherent to gay/lesbian identities/sexuality, nor even as NECESSARY for our continued flourishing as a group.

Additionally, as many of us have already rightly pointed out, the history of gay community within North American urban enclaves will differ from contemporary multicultural/Asian contexts. I also think there is a correlation between most countries in the world veering toward more conservative/right-wing governments in the past 2 decades, with the push for LGBT equality within inherently conservative institutions (such as the military/marriage).

I'm personally invested in the health of all gay and lesbian people, regardless of ethnic cultural background or gay cultural ties... but I also recognise that we (thank you agreva3) as gay Asians have specific needs around community formation and racial self-esteem (especially in an international/English-dominant context), which need redress, far beyond a falsely utopian view of the history of gay community that Maddow seems to be referring to.

To put it another way, and to quote from a television program:
"Just because he's dead doesn't mean he's a saint"

The implication being: Let's see things for what they are. Neither over-valourising them nor completely dismissing them off-hand.

Just as of an individual, so as of community.

That said, I also agree with sunthenmoon's comment:
"I don't think that non-traditional sexual practices and relationships can be fully accepted in my lifetime. So, there's still a need for these subcultures to exist as a means of mutual support for the LGBT community."

But I believe that there have always been people who have gone against the grain of sex/sexuality/gender normalcy..., and thus, in a healthy, post-modern secular society, we would ideally have the resources and support systems to nurture healthy alternatives to (and certainly healthy critiques of) dominant life paths.
Comment edited on 2011-10-13 08:41:39
35. 2011-10-13 20:14  
Some people ( one in particular) seem to confuse geography and culture with race. Such people, sadly, see a person's race before they see the person. Empowering gay Asia refers to a region, which has people of various races, and where racism tends to be, for example, by ethnic Chinese against ethnic Indians, as in Singapore. Or by a Malay government against ethnic Chinese, as in Malaysia.

One of the good things about fridae is that it brings together people from all ethnic backgrounds and shows what we have in common is stronger than our cultural differences. And we get to love eachother not just with our hearts, but sometimes with our bodies too.
36. 2011-10-14 11:02  
Same sex marriage: Why should gays and lesbians emulate something that doesn't really work for straight people???
37. 2011-10-14 14:34  
Response to Agreva3...
I have never called you, nor accused you of, being 'racist'.. I wrote that your comment 'seems racist', there's a big difference..
You write that I'm 'a guest' in Asia/among Asians.. We are all guets in this world here.. My 'home' has been on various continents and my family background is tri-national. At no point have I ever felt or tried to make myself 'superior' to anyone, regardless of their racial, cultural, class or geographical background.. So where and when did/do I 'assert superiority' or 'entitlement' in my comment (#32) Ageva3?
Even you are a 'guest' living in New York, as your profile seems to be indicating. You live in the city that's known to be the world's 'melting pot' of people, cultures and lifestyles.
Kumabro-Oz rightly points out that Fridae is a Website that wants to help empower 'Gay Asia' not 'Gay Asians'.. as he adds, there are and have been various people of all kinds ethnic and cultural backgrounds living in the Asia Pacific Region for centuries. Japanese, Korean, Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporean (of all races and backgrounds), Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Cambodian, Australian, New Zealanders, Fijians etc. They all have their own languages, cultures and ways of thinking.
That's why I mentioned the 'various Gay Communities' in Asia. There is no real 'we', except for all of us being Gay or Lesbian, Bi or Transgender.
Only being open and tolerant of each other is the best way to try to understand each other as well.
Blanket statements, and mis-interpretation of other Fridae members' comments here, are the wrong ways to go.

Peace :))
Comment edited on 2011-10-14 14:55:53
38. 2013-03-30 19:18  
cant we just make love and not war ??

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