C and I have just come back from the eastern Connecticut shore where we joined extended family for Thanksgiving weekend. We had good food, good conversation, a good sense of belonging—all the things that are expected of such a weekend—and then we returned to Boston last night, and C returned to his job at a local gay bar.
The interesting thing was how assimilated we were—relatively—during the weekend, at a house owned by a straight couple, surrounded by more than twenty people, also straight, and only one person winced when he overheard me recounting a portion of my sexual history to a straight female relative. In short, I felt pretty much at home with this group of relatives, and I didn’t feel constrained in any way by being one of only two gay people out of twenty straight people.
And yet, it was a huge relief when we got home, back to our books and DVDs, to our own things, our cat, our politics, and our community, and this made me think of the long-standing discussion in the gay community over assimilation or separatism. I wondered whether it was ever going to be possible for gay people to totally assimilate into the larger community. Aren’t we going to always be to some extent separate, divided from the larger community by all the things that have always divided us? And this because homophobia isn’t ever going to go away completely? And because the larger community isn’t going to recognize the value of what gay people have learned while wandering in the wilderness? We’re just still so far apart.