In this issue:
Oh, hai, happy Pridez! Time again to lean back languidly and reflect not just in your makeup mirror lined with curlicue lavender CFLs, but on where we are as a community. As usual, we straddle an odd queer moment. Yes, legalized same-sex marriage, California-style, is all the rage. Even my radical queer eye teared up when happily balled and chained couples streamed out of City Hall June 17. And you can bet I’ll be on the front lines fighting that awful November ballot initiative, defining marriage as exclusively between one tree and one Mormon.
Some queers want to get married (see "Tie the same-sex knot,"), some don’t ("Down with legitimacy,"). Others, like me, are simply hiding from their boyfriends. It’s yet another great diversity among us. The overall feeling at City Hall, though, besides sheer jubilance, was one of relief more than revolution. Four years ago, during the Winter of Love, rebellion even talk of secession crackled in the city’s air. But that scary "M" word, marriage, went the way of The L Word long ago into mainstream territory. Wedding rings were the new septum rings; now they’re just the new freedom rings. "What’s the big deal?" is the whole point.
The weird thing is that right as we’re being carried over the threshold of legal normalization, our outlaw history is roaring back in a big way. Eight years ago, a DJ named Bus Station John set out to highlight gay men’s bathhouse and hi-NRG disco heritage by playing old-school records, many of which he’d amassed from people who’d passed on from AIDS. This was a revelation to the new queer generation, raised with effective HIV meds but led to believe that gay musical history started with Madonna. It was a return of the repressed an inspiring, AIDS-obscured swath of yesteryear suddenly came to light.
Now you can’t go anywhere without seeing mustaches, aviator glasses, and hipster variations of the clone look. The filming of Gus Van Sant’s Harvey Milk biopic Milk this winter costumed the city in pristine White Riot chic. Wonder of wonders, we even have a brand new SoMa leather bar, Chaps II, named after Miracle Mile’s infamous ’80s watering hole, Chaps joining the great new retro Truck bar, expanded Hole in the Wall Saloon, Eagle Tavern, and Powerhouse. Take that, Internet! Queercore homeboy innovators Pansy Division ("Queercore, many mornings after,") get canonized with a doc at this year’s Frameline Film Fest. Most intel queers I know are gobbling up Terence Kissack’s recent tome, Free Comrades: Anarchism and Homosexuality in the United States, 18951917 from Oakland’s AK Press.
But the past isn’t just for gay men. The Fresh Meat festival has been breaking transgender performance ground since the millennium began ("Rare, medium, well-done,"). Nineties riot grrls are making strong artistic marks ("Heart shaped box," page 49), and I can’t step into a dyke bar lately without being immediately corralled into a Journey sing-along by Runaways look-alikes. The turbo-awesome current exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society (www.glbthistory.org), "Dykes on Bikes: 30 Years at the Forefront," reminds us not only that boobs are still illegal, but that rad women of all shapes and colors have led us from Gay Freedom Day to this week’s Pride. And it’s no surprise that the original Daughters of Bilitis, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, were the first couple to get legally married here, 53 years after starting the first official, highly persecutable, lesbian organization.
As we move seemingly inexorably toward mainstream acceptance, it’s nice to know that the heroes of our struggle, people who did things differently, are still fresh in our minds. This year the Guardian pays tribute to the LGBT underground past and present, and raises a toast to our deliciously shameless future.