Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gay Thugs Unite

I love MySpace.

Especially pages like this.

I haven't updated my blog in a while because work has been insane and, sigh, I just turned 26.

Not that that's anything to complain about, but in fact it is. Finding myself not in the mansion I built in my imagination while riding the B train to high school and not on the cover of Details I feel a bit unacommplished.

OK, enough pity party. Blogging will resume as of now as this really has been one of the most fun and rewarding projects I've taken on in forever.

Anyway, Gay Thugs Unite.

WTF?!?!

On the one hand I think it's great that young gay people of color are coming out and challenging their communities to accept them. On the other hand, I just don't get this gay thug business. Having grown up in the hood myself, I think being gay propelled me even further from the streets and deeper into my education and professional pursuits. Being gay is about being fabulous, interesting, learned and self aware. I believe Larry Kramer once said we were "better people" by virtue of having to try so hard for acceptance.

So when I read this, and when I see gay teens embracing a dead-end lifestyle (and believe me, I know the Chelsea scene can turn a good boy into meth moosh) it just saddens and enfuriates me.

Apparently I'm not the only one appalled by this trend. The Washington Post recently reported on the downward spiral of ilk and ghetto youth that are polluting Christopher Street. I'm sure there's a racist undertone to many of the white, gay, affluent homeowners complaints about the new crowd that's taken to "the strip," but I must say, it isn't a pretty sight and it can't be doing much for property value.

If you walk down Christopher Street at any time of day you'll see a proliferation of QUEENY black and latino teens, out-camping each other and screaming at other. It's just gross. Baggy jeans, do-rags, construction boots, jerseys and waxed eyebrows and cheap silver and gold jewelry are de rigeur in this part of town, just five blocks from Sarah Jessica Parker's house and across the street from where the Gay Rights Movement took off in 1968 (the Stonewall Bar).

What a waste. Here's my two cents: Go ahead an unite, you gay thugs, and take a trip up north to 8th ave and 23rd street and let your more fabulous and concerned gay brothers show you a thing or two about fashion and decorum. Well, maybe not decorum.

** I can't even address the fact that the picture above is actually a girl.

26 comments:

RobustoTenor said...

I’m new to your blog, so it’s interesting to me that the “gay thug” piece is the first one I’ve read of yours. “Gay street gang members” is a subject I feel I can speak about since my ex-boyfriend “Hector” was also an ex gang member in a Hispanic gang located in a Southern sub-tropical state. The gang was ‘straight’ though, and as far as Hector knew, he had been the only gay member. Hector’s identical twin brother was the one who got him into the gang, and eventually out of it. By the time I met Hector, both he and his brother had somehow managed to extricate themselves from gang life when they were 21 or so. I had met Hector when he was 24 (I was the same age), and he rarely talked about his gang days to me. I did manage, however, to piece together a large part of the story.

Hector and his brother were one of those odd sets of identical twins in which Hector was gay and his brother was straight. Hector was one of those short, bantam weight Hispanic guys who looked like a strong breeze could have knocked him over: lithe, almost androgynous body shape, with soft, ‘pretty’ facial features, and a balletic grace that he unsuccessfully tried to hide. And as much as I hate to continue this stereotypically gay description, yes, Hector eventually became an interior decorator.

Hector’s straight brother, “Carlito”, was definitely the more dominant of the two, and a bit of a wild kid at that. Even though Hector was an identical twin to Carlito (the straight one), Carlito managed to beef himself up a bit and had a ‘harder’ look to his face from having gotten into so many fist fights when he was younger. Carlito also had a gallery of tattoos, a beer belly by the age of 24, and a thick black goatee (gay Hector was either unwilling or unable to grow a full beard for some reason). Carlito, predictably, became a truck driver. In short, the two looked so different that I didn’t believe them when they told me they were identical, or at least born that way. Yet, they were.

So, when they were both 15, Carlito (the straight wild one), convinced Hector (the gay mild one) to join this Hispanic street gang. According to Carlito, the objective of the street gang was mostly drugs, as in doing them, not dealing them. Knocking off liquor stores and fighting with rival gangs were merely incidental to the supposed objective of obtaining and snorting/smoking/shooting massive amounts of narcotics. Hector (the gay one) claims that while the armed robbery and gang fights were occurring, he’d be back at their gang headquarters redecorating and designing pillow shams. I’m not sure how extensive Hector’s participation was in enjoying the fruits of the gang’s efforts, but since Hector remained a bit of a pot-head in his more law-abiding adulthood, I assume he was no different from the rest of the gang in that respect.

Hector swore that no one knew he was gay during those gang years, including his brother. Moreover, he said that if anyone knew he was gay, he would have been shot and killed immediately. His described the miasma of homophobia that hung over their relatively small gang as being oppressive enough for him to try to be as straight-acting as possible. He even considered the possibility of leading a straight life and repressing his homosexuality. At hearing this piece of information, I murmured something like, “gee, really?”, but all the while imagining that with longer hair and a little eye-liner, he could have convincingly played the Jaye Davidson transvestite role in “The Crying Game.” Picturing him married to a woman was a stretch that even my imagination couldn’t quite grasp—I could only see him with one of those tall, burly, aggressive farm-women who barked orders inside and out of the bedroom.

Carlito, the straight one, told me in confidence some time later that everyone in the gang knew Hector was gay, but that no one ever really cared either. No one cared that Hector was gay, that is, as long as Hector never hit on them or threw it in their face. They also weren’t certain if Hector even knew himself that he was gay, and they certainly didn’t feel like it was their place to have a discussion about it with him. Carlito said that the homophobic comments and attitudes Hector described to me were mostly just the usual empty-headed, obligatory straight-guy banter that was as hollow and unsupported as the usual, empty-headed, obligatory straight-guy female conquest stories. The homophobic comments were more or less necessary adornments to the male posturing to establish themselves as woman-conquering stud alpha males. Also, since Carlito was obviously straight and well-respected in the gang, no one wanted to upset him by insinuating that his brother might be gay. Carlito was fiercely protective of Hector, and no one wanted to challenge Carlito.

So in Hector’s case, the fact that he was gay wasn’t the dangerous part of being in a gang for him. Carlito told me that as they got older, the leaders of the gang expected them to do more and more dangerous activities in order to remain in the gang (activities that, if caught by authorities, usually sent one of the members to a maximum security prison instead of juvenile hall). And apparently, you either do as they say, or you are expunged from the gang. And I don’t mean that they give you a severance check and a half-hearted promise of giving a good professional reference. I mean that they let you leave the gang, and then they kill you.

Thus, as they approached adulthood, Carlito started realizing how much of a dead-end gang life was and managed to pull himself and Hector out from that dangerous lifestyle. Even Carlito, who had been candid with me about most aspects of gang life, was quite reticent over the details of how exactly he managed to get out of the gang alive. I’m not sure I want to know anyway. Either way, by the time I started dating Hector, Carlito was still fiercely protective and I had to pass Carlito’s “test” before he would approve of me dating his brother. But that kind of brotherhood and fidelity wasn’t something forged from being part of a gang. I’ve always admired the special bond twins have, even when they are as different as Carlito and Hector. They were certainly no exception. In fact, when Hector and I broke up, I actually was a little frightened that Carlito would serve me the same fate as an ex-gang member.

GayConservativeLiberal said...

Wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing and I hope you'll keep coming back. It's hard being a teen in general, let alone with all the other stuff your ex had to go through.

RobustoTenor said...

Thanks...though I'm afraid my little story turned more into an "ex-boyfriend story" than a commentary on gays in gangs. I agree that the teen years are killer (no pun intended), but at least Hector had a twin brother like Carlito to look after him. I had no such guardian. Then again, I wasn't in a gang either. Unless you count my high school chorus class who were always looking for trouble!

Red Tulips said...

Hey,

I just wanted to say that robustotenor is my best friend, who I showed your blog to.

And what a story re: Hector! I didn't even know it until he posted it on here!

Anonymous said...

Let young people identify however they want. It is interesting that you are appalled by a picture of a girl holding a gun. Does that speak to your understanding, views of "women"? Youth tend to express what they have learned from their elders. The dominant gay culture tends to idolize white standards of beauty, masculinity and wealth. Most of us (the often judged and misunderstood homothugs) are simply expressing our gayness and maleness in our own unique way. We do not have to sport Abercrombie & Fitch or GAP to fit into 'your' cute, gay box. Accept us the way that we are. There is plenty of room for you to be you and for us to live as free as we see fit.

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