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Our oppression of the homosexual ghetto and it's subcultures

Chapter 58




As a foreigner I had not been molded by the specific American black-white distress patterns and was therefore free to travel among both blacks and whites almost as if traveling among free people in a free society.


Yet I understood very well the difficulties white Americans have in responding in a human way toward the ghetto when I realized how shaped I myself had been by other oppressions, not least homophobia.


My attitude toward gays and lesbians had been basically liberal, since I had never heard overtly hateful attitudes in my Danish childhood and it took me many "dirty old man" encounters as a vagabond to "come out" of that closet - if ever I did.


I soon learned from more "liberated" gays that liberals are true liberation's most insidious enemy. Their deep sense of heterosexual superiority remains untouched by their concern for the "plight" of gay people.


They appear to concede so much with their condescending "We should accept homosexuals" while the liberal "we" invariably excludes the very minority whose integration is being urged - leaving the oppressed to struggle not only against genuinely expressed bigotry and hatred, but also "sympathy" and "understanding" - "tolerance" extended to something regrettable rather than normal.


After such indoctrination "we" feel as insecure, uneasy, and threatened by "them" as white Americans feel threatened by the blacks, and it becomes more convenient for us to keep them in ghettos. Some Americans see gay ghettos like San Francisco and New Orleans as expressions of a tolerant and free society. As with the old Jewish ghettos in Europe, it is just the opposite.


When we for centuries prevent gays from responding freely, kissing and holding hands in an open atmosphere without fear, make laws against them in most states, make them loathe homosexuality before reaching adulthood so that they adopt and internalize our straight definition of good and bad, when we force gays throughout their lives into painful, futile attempts to straighten their lives with the same crippling effect on their self-image as when blacks straightened their hair to "pass" or merely survive, - then we will eventually force them into similar segregated ghettos, complete with riots and subcultures.


At times I could hardly distinguish one ghetto from the other. Hitchhiking in Baltimore's black ghetto late one night to find a place to stay I was picked up by a beautiful black woman, which surprised me as black women never picked me up. 


She invited me to her luxurious home outside the city. Willie - seen here at her dishwasher - was one of the few Americans well-read in Danish literature, and with this common interest we got involved in a deep intellectual conversation after which she invited me to share her silk bed upstairs.


Not until she started kissing me did her beard stubble tell me she was a drag queen.


When I later told the story to American men they would usually burst out with nausea: "What did you do? Did you jump out the window?"


Indeed, soon afterward two men, believing they had picked up a female prostitute, killed such a drag queen.


For me Willie instead became a dear friend, introducing me to that special subculture of the gay ghetto which has conquered self-hatred and inferiority by living entirely by the closed system's own rules, flaunting its contempt for the world outside.


To meet these proud drag queens and transsexuals was for me a happy surprise since they did not live the half-life of cringing servility I had met previously on the road. Theirs was a genuine counterculture and is therefore oppressed like the black subcultures.


Time and again I saw how police assaulted my drag friend Tania when I lived with her in San Francisco. Her she is seen being harassed by police in the red dress one night when we took a walk. Two drag queens were killed by police while I lived there.


Oppression also drives many drag queens into drugs and prostitution, thus mirroring the most obvious end result of black oppression. When a social system treats a minority with contempt and hostility, in the end those within this ghetto become so conscious of its closed system that they go one further and exaggerate their perceived "difference."


And so the vicious circle of oppression is completed as the subculture now visibly seems to "justify" society's contempt for it.


In this way the "ghetto of the ghetto" is created as the "Uncle Tom" conformist homosexuals often feel that the drag, transsexual, and other special gay sub-cultures spoil it for them in their relationship to the straight world.

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