When I was first out on my own as a teenager and young adult, I paid the bills and made a living by waiting tables and cooking. That was over 20 years ago now and now seems an impossibility for people that young trying to do anything on their own now due to the controlled demolition under the guise of covid and soon, the climate. It’s also interesting to think back on the wide network of friends I developed. We were all young with working class backgrounds, ambitious, and simply happy to be out on our own and making our own lives on our own terms, at least socially.
I don’t like quantifying anything demographically when it comes to personal relationships, but it is unfortunately relevant now because of how compartmentalized life has become with the rapid digitization of society. Every other friend I had was gay or bisexual, and it feels kind of funny to think about this on terms that are acceptable now in our supposedly enlightened progressive age– “as a young hetero, I was a solid ally to the gay community”. Does anyone my age or from my generation express themselves this way? The relationships I made through work, and not only via whatever my current place of employment was (if you’ve been in the service industry, you know this), were built on trust and mutual respect for “the hustle” and the ability to get shit done.
Some friends did drag, and the scene that comes across your television screen now seems totally sterile and soulless compared to the actual community effort that went into supporting your friends who did the damn thing seriously at established joints that not everyone — say, hetero white collar suburbanites flying pride flags? — was privy to. I use “community” in the sense that you could rely on the self-appointed block grandma to fix the hem on the scarf you had to wear on the catwalk; that the handsome GM from your roomie’s “casual fine dining” gig was going to make a cameo and bring brownies to the after party. It was just a mundane yet harmonious reality, but somehow in this age of wokeness, these actual community members who socially, materially, and spiritually supported their neighbors and even employees no matter their orientation aren’t quite edgy enough to make up “the gay community”. And, through the various slow-burn depopulation programs that led up to the makings of the covid world order, they and these bonds largely don’t exist any more.
When did pride become a thing that was meant for everyone? Is it wrong to even ask that now? Is heterosexuality really that boring that people need to chant “love wins” to have a line on what others do in their bedrooms? I had some friends back in the day who went to pride events when they could get the time off or have the funds to do so. It wasn’t a priority for me, and I loved all my friends. No one considered me a bigot for not showing an interest or making an effort. But in this day and age, depending on your line of work and organizational setting, you might get a side eye if you don’t put pronouns in your email signature. Whiteness as praxis, as discussed in albeit limited terms with regard to appropriation, has subsumed all manner of sexual identity outside of heterosexuality. The rationale behind providing pronouns in an email you’re signing with your, uh, specifically gendered name eg Michael, Tonya, etc, is that you, the gracious cishetero purveyor of everything structured and ordered in society, are opening the door for a conversation or acceptance or whatever for some less structured and ordered person who can’t even figure out if they are a he, they, or a she. Mighty white of you!
And I couldn’t think of anything more paternalistic or condescending to do to someone else in such an offhand way, especially someone who has struggled with their identity and living life free of humiliation and harassment. Corporate antiracist initiatives of this era follow similar logic. In their execution, they absolve whiteness by personalizing it and plant seeds of superiority in the minds of those who may have never “identified” with whiteness as someone may do as a gay or transgender person. The confessionals they elicit are inappropriate and actually do not need to be addressed in such a setting, at all. All told, these are toxic manifestations of practices that once did some good in decades past. However, these would never had been seen as necessary by corporate participants if it wasn’t for the continual assault on the working class through ruling class contraction of the market. Material bounty for all isn’t conducive to ruthless competition for the means to life, and you can’t rule without control.
The acceptance of these rituals by white collar professionals may signal a surface-level sense of entitlement, but I think it’s apparent that they were designed to soothe a deep sense of anxiety actually. Just add another level neurosis to entitlement, et voila, the chorus chimes that we’ll just need to wait and see if the indemnified experimental toxins are, indeed, toxic. Whiteness just may come through this time, right? Probably not. I once thought professionals taking this corporate cult speak seriously and running with it were imagining themselves “transitioning” too with the advent of injectable mRNA tech. Maybe some of the more delusional and narcissistic do, but overall I think they realize on some level how expendable they really are. Meaningless acts of “allyship” are much easier than forming real solidarity with those whose lives have been destroyed to keep them in Starbucks.
One of the most shocking realizations for me throughout all this is how little the people handing themselves over completely to all these schemes think of themselves, how little respect they actually have for their own self, their own well being and health. The psychosis of whiteness entails never questioning how things have been situated for your own gain, especially if you have something like a net worth or the ability to trace your lineage unbroken by war and disease. By many counts, the media tells us that white democrats were the first to line themselves up for the mRNA experiment. I’m not sure how true that is, but at least anecdotally, it seemed to be the case to me. American white nationhood is so finely embedded that it is not a stretch to conclude that people who have relied on some fairy tale version of it would give their lives to protect “their” state.
I think the following clip I’ll close this with, from Netprimeappleamazonflix’s rendition of The Man in the High Castle, is highly illustrative of the above-mentioned mentality. It is masterful in how much it communicates to the audience about their own condition and readers of the original work should be thoughtful enough to question where their loyalties actually lie. I can’t remember who tweeted this a while back, but it is true that americans are drawn to watching screen versions of fascism without understanding their place or role in it. What happens when they do? The final type of identification is coming.
Similar background here, but 30 years ago, going to black gay clubs in Chicago to dance, working as a waitress and cashier, a lot of my friends “went either way” as we used to say, and the drag scene too, as you articulated.
And yes, the pronoun/white/cis privilege of now strikes me as intensely puritanical, which ties into “One of the most shocking realizations for me throughout all this is how little the people handing themselves over completely to all these schemes think of themselves, how little respect they actually have for their own self, their own well being and health.” Yes, exactly. The flip side of that is the reactive MAGA “deplorable” who is just as self hating but has some vague idea that she’s been tricked.
thanks for this.