I recently wrote to a friend: “Like most peoples who are faced with the possibility of assimilation, many gay people wonder what they will be giving up in the process, and what they will be getting in return.”
You see it every day in the city, watching Hispanics, some struggling to adopt English, others not, many of whom are determinedly holding onto Hispanic ways. Blacks have been facing the same dilemma for the last 150 years. And women too, as any woman will understand. While gay people have been discriminated against, they have developed modes of self-defense, which, they fear, will be lost if they are assimilated. It is not all about loss or gain of civil rights. It may not even be mainly about civil rights. What I think people would like most is to get freedom (that is, to get civil rights) without giving up anything. One example: We would like to get marriage equality, but have the “marriage” be an arrangement of our own creation, not the creation of heterosexual courts or the heterosexual congress, or patriarchal, heterosexual churches. I think we want a “gay marriage” that is more profoundly honest for both parties than the heterosexual marriage we see before us. I think we fear getting into a relationship in which we are forced to play out the gender roles that the straight community plays out in marriage.
Many gay people resist giving up what we have learned during our time in the wilderness. A person rarely reads, anywhere in the straight media, anything that would suggest straight people understand that they might have something important to learn from gay people. And gay people know this. Gay people think, we have learned so much, and straight people don’t value what we know,